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Alenis Meru
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Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:57 am

The following is the second mission of the USS Portland, recovered from our old forum. This was a short mission, lasting from June to July 2014, but it was the start of an exciting story arc involving the Bajoran religion, as well as the sticky situation of a crew member's pon farr.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:57 am

The Interrogation
Brig, USS Portland
The day before docking
Authors: Cmdr. Alenis Meru and Lt. (JG) Jason Beauvoir

"I've already told you, I don't know what you're talking about!" Zuwtt, first officer of the freighter Asmi had been locked up the past two days, bombarded with questions. The constant interrogations weren't so much unpleasant as they were irritating. He knew not to admit to anything and there was little that Starfleet could do to convince him otherwise. The barrage of questions were a constant irritation, but as long as he kept playing dumb and telling his inquisitors that he didn't know anything, he figured he would be safe. Most of all, it irritated him to be locked up on little more than the hunch of the Captain. "Now, isn't it just about lunchtime?"

"So, you're hungry?" Lt. jg Valentine 'Val' Dubois said in his mild Southern drawl. "What is it, can we fix you today, sir?" He asked in an exaggerated manner.

"Well, I could go for some Jumbo Vulcan Mollusks, sauteed in Rhombolian butter. That would surely hit the spot," Zuwtt replied, returning Dubois' sarcastic tone. "And perhaps a Bolian souffle for desert."

"Right away, sir." He told the Bolian and then to his partner Petty Officer Zirra Kajat, a menacing-looking Gorn female. "Kajat, have the guard outside bring use some sandwiches and coffee."

"Yesss, sssir." She said and went to the door.

Once she was gone, Dubois moved closer to Zuwtt and in a conspiratorial tone said. "Impressive, isn't she? I once saw her break a Klingon in half, imagine what she could do to a little fellow like yourself."

Zuwtt snorted; he knew that Starfleet had rules about how prisoners were to be treated.

Then changing the subject he asked. "Mr. Zuwtt, do you follow baseball?" He looked him over. "Of course you, so who do you think's going to win the Federation Series? My money's on the Paris Lights."

"I'm afraid I'm not familiar with this 'based ball' you refer to," replied Zuwtt in an irritated tone. "Just like I don't know anything about cloaking devices or Orions or whatever it is you're accusing me of today."

“So the cloaking device just appeared on your freighter out of thin air? or perhaps the readings we got were from your Moonshine still?” Dubois asked disbelief evident in his tone.

“A cloaking device? You’re mad! I’m a simple freighter crewman, I don’t know anything about cloaking devices or this… ‘moon shine’”

“I has been my experience, sir, that when a man describes himself as simple, he is invariably anything but.” The security officer replied.

“I’m no simpleton, but I’m not transporting stolen cloaking devices either,” replied Zuwtt, impatiently tapping his foot. “Now, are we quite done yet?”

“Stolen? Nobody said anything about it being stolen.”

“Well, I didn’t just buy it at the corner store!” he blurted out, immediately regretting his choice of words. “I mean, erm, everyone knows that cloaking devices are illegal for civilian use. You can’t just buy them…” he trailed off.

“True. So where did you purchase yours?”

“I’m not talking to you anymore,” replied Zuwtt, scowling. “Now, where is my sandwich?”

“Okay, maybe you’ll be more obliging on a full stomach. Kajat, bring Mr Zuwtt his lunch.”

“Yess, sssir.” The Gorn said and placed a plate of sandwiches and a cup of coffee in front of the Bolian. “Bon appetit.” She added.

Zuwtt bit into one of the sandwiches and then looked up at the Gorn. At least seven feet tall and with a jaw full of sharp teeth, she was physically intimidating. As she stared down at him, Zuwtt wanted to disappear. “I’m a dead man,” he thought. Nervous, he took a gulp of the coffee. “This coffee tastes horrible! What did you put in it?”

“Coffee, sugar, venom of the Vulcan redbat. Slow, horrible way to die.” Dubois said in an off-hand way.

“Venom? Are you completely mad!?” Zuwtt groaned, his stomach was already hurting. “It doesn’t matter. I’m a dead man anyways. And however bad this venom might be, it can’t be as bad as what the Orion Syndicate would do to me.” Zuwtt groaned again, and sweat began to form on his brow.

“Well, if you’re going to die anyway, why not go to your maker with a clean conscience?” Dubois asked.

“You don’t understand. It’s not just me, if they can’t get to me because I’m dead, they’ll go after my wife.” Zuwtt bent over in pain. “I can’t have that on my conscience.”

Dubois took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Then Mr Zuwtt we’ll have make sure the Syndicate can’t find her, won’t we?”

“You can do that?” he asked, breathing heavily.

“Yes, but we need something from you first.” Dubois told him.

“I know who Vike is going to sell the cloaking device to,” said Zuwtt, realizing that between the Orions and the poison running through his veins, he didn’t exactly have a whole lot of options. Starfleet could put him into the program, give him a new identity and a second chance at life. “But first, I want a couple guarantees. One, that you’ll make sure my wife is safe. And two… wherever you send us, make sure it’s someplace nice. I don’t want to live out the rest of my days freezing half to death on Andor.” He winced in pain. “And three, get me the antidote!”

“I’m sure we can swing that. But I can’t promise Risa, too difficult to protect you’ll there.”

“The Breen.” Zuwtt let out a deep breath. “I don’t know who his contact is, but he plans to sell the technology to the Breen.”

“The Breen? God save us, if they get their hands on a cloaking device. Thank you Mr. Zuwtt you’ve been most helpful. I’ll go get the ball rolling right now. Good day to you, sir.” Dubois said and headed for the door.

“Wait!” shouted Zuwtt, the desperation evident in his voice. “What about the antidote?”

Turning Dubois took a small object from his pocket. “Here, these should do the trick.” He said throwing the object to Zuwtt.

Zuwtt stared at the label on the packet. “Antacids? But you…” Suddenly, he realized that the poison wasn’t poison all along. “You tricked me!”

“Of course, it’s illegal to poison people, didn’t your Mama teach you anything?” Dubois said with a smile as he left the room.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:58 am

Bridge, USS Portland
Bajor System
Evening, Mission Day 1


Here it was.

Mesmerized, Alenis stared up at the screen. The purple and blue of the Denerios belt created a hypnotizing backdrop. In the distance, Deep Space Nine slowly spun on its axis, orbiting Bajor the eleventh planet in the system, known simply as Bajor. B’hava’el, the Bajoran sun, lit up the sky and glistened off the Korvale Ocean. A yellow dwarf, it was not the biggest or brightest star in the night sky, but it is what gave the Bajorans life and was revered as such. And somewhere out there was the celestial temple, which gave the Bajorans spiritual guidance.

The last time she saw this sight was almost thirty years ago, out of the aft viewport of a stolen Cardassian shuttle. She was too young to realize then what she was leaving behind.

Since she was nine, Alenis always dreamed of returning to Bajor. Of running through the fields of the Dakhur province, or swimming in the Kola river. Of course, Bajor under the occupation was hardly the idyllic paradise that occupied Alenis’ dreams. The occupation was pervasive, infiltrating every aspect of every Bajoran’s life. Even the smallest child would be lucky to have a few moments of play without the constant spectre of occupation weighing down upon them.

Of course, she could have returned long ago. Deep down, she was also afraid. Afraid of a lot of things, but mostly afraid of having to relive the traumatic memories of occupation. Growing up a refugee, she straddled a dual identity, one foot on her home of Bajor and one foot on her adopted planet of Earth. In school, she struggled to fit in and sometimes wished she could just forget about Bajor and make Earth her home. Abandoning Bajor when she was so far from home may not have sounded like a difficult undertaking, but no matter how hard she tried, blood was thicker than water. She was a proud Bajoran and couldn’t just take off her earring and leave it all behind – no matter how much trouble she got into at the academy from overbearing instructors and their rigid interpretation of Starfleet dress codes.

“You have returned home,” said R’vahis in a soft voice.

“Pardon?” asked Alenis.

“I said, we’re approaching Deep Space Nine. Shall I request clearance to dock?”

“Yes. Request clearance.” Another vision, thought Alenis, or perhaps I’m just losing it. Again. “Ensign Mallory, bring us in as soon as we get the signal.”

She was finally coming home.
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

Jackson Mallory

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:59 am

Bridge, USS Portland
Bajor System
Evening, Mission Day 1

There was a bit of a delay while DS9 ground control argued with the captain of a Pakled trading vessel moored in the berth destined for the Portland. It seemed the ship had been cleared to leave hours earlier, but the captain had an ongoing dispute with a Ferengi who he felt had cheated him. DS9 administrators finally got the captain to move his ship, but only after promising to continue to look into the matter. The captain then moved his vessel to a parking orbit above the station.

Once the Pakleds were clear, Mallory piloted the Portland into its assigned docking berth, and signalled for the ground crew to attach moorings. He then ran through the docking checklist, powered down the main engines, and finally signalled all clear, indicating that personnel could debark.

He was more than relieved to be back from their shake-down cruise, and not just because they narrowly escaped with their lives. He was looking forward to a break from all of the administrivia he had endured over the last few days. During the battle with the Orion pirates, Mallory had been busy with an assignment from the captain to rebaseline all of the dilithium ratios so that the ship would operate at peak efficiency at a variety of speeds. After hours of checking and cross-checking, meetings with engineering, and arguments with the computer, Mallory's would report that the new baseline would increase efficiency by an average of .04%.

Other than the power fluctuations playing havoc with the lights in his quarters, he hadn't even realized that the were in danger until hours after the daring maneuver by the Quebec City, when Ensign Steel related the entire harrowing ordeal. But dilithium ratios were exciting too.

Yes, a few days of fun would do him good. Once the ship was locked down, Mallory headed for the station.

Tyrlai Zade

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:59 am

Tyrlai had spent the entire docking maneuver in sickbay telling Jena a long convoluted story of how she had hiked the length of the shimmering cliffs on Trian V, clambered down to the lone shelf on which the Trian Wildflowers grew and assembled a bouquet of them just for Jena. Knowing full well the girl had seen her replicate them right in sickbay did not deter Tyrlai from her normal overly vivid description of the harrowing descent and how she didn't even break a nail despite the many times she was left dangling from a single precarious handhold.

She then shared the anecdote of how Thosk had been too scared to leave the shuttle the entire time over chocolate pudding. Thosk for his part pointed out that none of that had really happened, blamed her again for the fact that the Quebec City had had to be tractored back to DS9 and asked why he couldn't just go back to their office as he had a lot of paperwork to do. After the docking was complete, she promised to visit as soon as she could and complained about some boring stuffy reception she was being blackmailed into attending and returned to her quarters.

She restyled her hair with an orangey-red streak in its natural shimmering black, left to fall straigh down over her shoulders. Tyrlai slipped into a flashy orange dress, a clingy number with several strategic holes, slits and straps designed to reveal more spots then she generally let show. She strapped a garter holding a comm badge around her slightly more concealed leg and grabbed her handcomp. She had never been to DS9 before but she had heard of a place called the Sunset Promenade that supposedly had dancing, gambling and more. She added a few final touches and headed for the dock.

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Alenis Meru
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Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:00 am

Follow up check-up
U.S.S. Portland - Sickbay
Authors: Cmdr Alenis Meru, and Lt. JG Brad Silverton

Brad Silverton looked over the medical exam results that the Emergency Medical Hologram had conducted on Captain Alenis Meru. He wasn't thrilled with the fact that he didn't handle the exam any less than the results of an unknown growth discovered. Brad looked at the time and figured the Captain would be in her ready room alone. Good. He didn't want to make a big deal of this in front of the crew or other senior officers. Captains could be... finicky about their appearance to the crew.
"Doctor Silverton to the Captain."

Alenis took a few sentences to finish typing her thought. She had been hammering out reports for at least a couple hours now, and it wasn't getting any easier. Even with Ko-ko perched on top of her monitor and a pot of one of her favourite teas, she was starting to get stressed out. "What is it, doctor?"

"Captain, I've gone over the previous medical exam you had with the EMH and I'd like to redo it myself when its convenient. No rush but sooner rather then later."

"I'll be down within the hour," replied Alenis, desperate for any escape from the drudgery of after action reports. Her relief turned to dread as she began to wonder what sort of irregularity might prompt the doctor to redo the physical. Perhaps he found the heavy tranquilizers still in her system. Even with Ko-ko's help, Alenis had barely slept since Arvel took them away. She was irritable and having difficulty concentrating, as evidenced by the fact that she had been hammering away at these reports for what seemed like an eternity. Or maybe it was the fact that she was prescribed a bird. Or perhaps something else altogether...

An hour passed and Alenis walked into Sickbay. Brad poked his head out of his office and approached the Captain.
"Hello Captain. Thanks for stopping by. I'd like to redo your regular exam that the EMH the other day. I'm not convinced of its abilities beyond trauma care. It should only take half an hour or so tops like before. If now is a good time then go ahead and lay down on the biobed and we can get started."

"All right," said Alenis as she climbed up onto the biobed. "Brrrrrrr, it's cold in here," she said as she rubbed her arms. How are you doing, doctor?" she asked, inquiring about his recovery from radiation poisoning

"Surprisingly well actually." Brad responded while adjusting some settings on the biobed. "I'm a little sore from the radiation still but that should be gone in a day or two."

"And Jena?"

"She is recovering well. She had longer exposure then I did though I had a more intense amount. I had to put my back right up against the leak to get leverage to get her out. She still has a few red patches on her neck but I expect them to be gone shortly. She should be 100% in a matter of days."

"That sounds great, doctor." Lying down on the biobed, Alenis let out a deep breath. Her muscles ached all over. With all the happenings in the past few days, she was tense, slightly moreso than normal.

Brad was looking at the results while talking, "Your cortisol levels are a bit high which is due to a lot of stress. Given our encounter with the Orions that isn't abnormal." Brad continues,"Other than that everything else looks normal so far at least."
"Are you talking any medications I should be aware of?"

"No," replied Alenis in a firm tone. "Well, not anymore. It's complicated." She knew there was no sense in trying to hide anything from the doctor. He had all her medical records and all kinds of test results anyways. "I was taking some medication until recently, but Arv-- I mean, Dr. Darze took them away." She silently cursed herself for the little verbal slip-up; the last thing she needed to do at this time was to arouse suspicion.

Brad didn't miss a beat and kept on scanning her, "And he should have taken them away. They're strong enough to tranq a Gorn who's having a bad hair day! As I am not seeing any physical signs of needing to take these over a long period of time like you have been, I'll presume you were discussing matters with Dr Darze of a more psychological nature?"

"Yes, it's... it's..."; Alenis could barely talk about it; only Arvel and a few others knew the depth of her psychological trauma. "If you look at my service record, you will see that I was at New Algiers three years ago. Since then..." She yawned, losing track of her thought. "Doctor, I haven't had more than three hours of sleep in the past three nights." Not only that, but every time she dozed off, her dream returned. "Please, can you just give me the meds?"

"Look captain... there are lots of sleeping aids I can prescribe that won't cause long term damage to your kidneys. What alternatives have you tried?"

"Nothing else has worked, not for the past three years. The only thing that kind of helps is..." Alenis sat up; lying down had made her nauseous and agitated the stomach pains that she had been suffering through the past few days. "I know it sounds silly, but Dr. Darze gave me Ko-ko."

"Well it does sound silly but I'll trust the professional opinion of the counselor. I have some training in that but I'm not nearly qualified to help you with New Algiers. However what I am qualified for is being your physician. No I am sorry captain I can't in good conscience give you the meds. They're for emergency battlefield trauma care not long term usage. All you are doing with these meds is covering up one problem temporarily and causing you another." Brad grabs a sighs and grabs a hand tricorder to continue the exam as his captain seems figidity but the discussion to tell her to remain still seems to be the least of battles right now. He turns it off and sets it roughly down on a table.

"Captain, your internal organs are frankly, a mess. These meds for this long has caused problems with your liver, kidneys, and stomach so if you are nauseous or having abdominal pains don't be surprised. Its all reversible but only once you stop taking it and there is nothing I can do if you were to continue. As for your sleeping needs once we get the advanced equipment in I can get you a very powerful sleep aid. It'll get you some sleep but it will be low quality. You won't be able to dream and its also NOT long term but hopefully it can help till you and Dr Darze can figure something else out."

"No more dreams..." Alenis pondered that thought for a second. It would mean that she wouldn't have to relive the battle night after night. "Thank you, doctor," she said with utmost sincerity. "Is there anything else?"

"One other slight thing. I did see a growth on your right ovary. Honestly haven't seen this type before but there is nothing to worry about. Its completely unrelated to the tranqs and won't cause any reproductive problems. I'd like to remove it sometime soon but there is no rush. It can wait for after the reception and after we leave DS9 with only a few days of discomfort which should be over before our next mission begins."

Alenis pondered her busy schedule. The last thing she needed was yet another appointment. "Schedule it for the morning after the dinner," she replied. "Now, unless there's anything else, am I free to go? As you can imagine, I've got a lot of paperwork to deal with."
Capt. Alenis Meru
Commanding Officer
USS Portland

Jason Beauvoir

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:01 am

USS Portland

As the ship underwent its docking procedures, Jason was finishing his report regarding his actions on the Quebec City.
When he was finished, he changed into some stylish, yet practical clothes and headed down to Sickbay.

Arriving he noticed someone he recognized. "It's Nurse Hill, isn't it?" He asked her.
"Yes, sir, how can I be of assistance?"
"I'm Jason Beauvoir, Jena's father. I've come to see her."
"Yes I remember, sir. The Doctor left orders to remind you that although you're allowed to take her out of Sickbay, she has to take things easy. He wanted me to stress that last part."
"Okay, I get the message." Jason said. "No cliff diving." And made his way to Jena's bed.
Maria just sighed and let the man go.

"How're you, Kido?" He asked.
"Really good, Old Man." She replied.
"That's good. Hey, nice flowers."
"Yeah, Tyrai went on a perilous adventure to get them for me."
"So you and our resident Diplomatic Officer have become fast friends, I see." Jason said.
"Yeah, she's a lot of fun."
"Evidently. I heard Commander Shras' office underwent a rapid and colourful redecoration, but you would know anything about that."
"I would have loved to see the look on his face when he saw, what I of course know nothing about."
"I was quite amusing." Jason admitted. And they both laughed.
Then his demeanour changed. "What are you lying around for? You promised to show me around Bajor."
"Doctor's orders" She replied. "We'll have to put it off for a few days, I'm afraid."
"I spoke to the Doc. he said we can still go on our tour as long as you take easy, so no triathlons or drinking binges, and I promised Nurse Hill, no cliff diving."
"Oww, that really spoils my plans." She joked. "But, how can I go, I don't have a change of clothes."
"You do now." He said handing her an overnight bag."I'm sure the Doc won't mind if you change in the head. I'll be here when you're ready."
Jenny smiled, practically jumped out of bed, and headed to the head, stopping only briefly to kiss Jason on the cheek.

Timothy Rouse

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:02 am

The morning after...
Captain's quarters, USS Portland
The morning after docking at DS9
Authors: Cmdr. Alenis Meru, Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Rouse, Lt. (JG) Arvel Darze

Tim hurried to Alenis' quarters, putting on his jacket as he walked. He was late. Ringing the chime he straightened his jacket.

Awakened by the chime, Alenis turned over in her bed. Her partner was still sleeping like a baby. Rolling over again, she caught a glimpse of her desk chronometer. The moment the time registered, she bounded out of bed and frantically searched the floor of her bedroom for her housecoat. "One minute!" she shouted, in response to the door chime being rung again.

"Whoa! Who is calling at this hour!?" He said watching her wonderful form rise from the bed to get something on, "I mean you look wonderful, why answer the door?"

"The meeting... we're going to be late for the meeting with the Admiral." Alenis gave him a quick peck on the forehead and got out of bed.

With a blue fleece bathrobe draped over her shoulders and tied tightly around her waist, Alenis answered the door. "I'm so sorry, Tim." She apologized profusely. "Here, take a seat in my couch while I get changed. I'm really sorry, I slept in. This never happens to me, it must be my change in medication." As she stood in the doorway trying to explain her situation to Tim, behind her, out from her room wandered Arvel, his shirt inside-out.

Tim grinned at the flushed face of the Captain. "Yes, the new medication must be the reason." He chuckled. "At least I'm not the only one having trouble with his alarm clock."

Alenis glanced back at Arvel and then to Tim. She cleared her throat. "Tim, I'm sure you've met Ar- I mean, Dr. Darze. He was just..." there was no point in denying it. "Erm, allow me to get changed," she said, turning towards the sonic shower.

"Umm hey sir," Arvel said as he wore some but not all of his uniform, "I'm in a state of undress and I apologize for that... should I go?" He asked.

"Why ask me?" Tim said. "What you two do in your own time is none of my business. Just like the other way around." Tim couldn't stop grinning.

"Yes, about that..." Arvel stroked his beard for a moment, trying to think of the most tactful way to broach the subject. Fortunately, with the sonic shower running, there was no way Alenis could hear his words. "Sir, I'd appreciate it if you could keep this under your hat. Meru is a very special woman. She is strong, but she has faced many difficulties over the past few years, and she tends to try to carry the weight of her problems all by herself. I know about Starfleet regulations on fraternization, but the last thing she needs right now is for word to spread and for this to get back to Starfleet command."

"Offcoure not. Just because she is the Captain, doesn't mean she can't have a personal life. Even if it's with a subordinate. Just treat her good, Meru is also a friend of mine."

At that moment, Alenis bounded out of the bathroom and back into her bedroom. Being on starship duty, she had learned how to enjoy a warm sonic shower in two minutes flat.

Thirty seconds later, she stepped back out, wearing the red and black uniform of a Starfleet captain. It wasn't quite perfect -- the shoes had a scuff or two, and there was a bit of lint on the tunic and a wrinkle here and there, but she made the calculated decision that showing up on time without a perfect uniform was better than showing up late. She was about to head for the door when she was interrupted by a bird call. In her cage, Ko-ko was getting restless. She paused for a brief moment before heading to the cage and reaching her arm in. "Relax, Ko-ko; we're just going to go for a little walk, and meet up with a very important man." As Ko-ko perched herself on Alenis' wrist, she withdrew her arm, pulling her out of the cage. "Tim, lets go," she said as she shut the cage door. "Arvel... feel free to let yourself out at your leisure."

"You got it ma'am!" He said a little too enthusiastically. Arvel sent a quick unseen playful love tap to Alenis's bum when she passed, "You look great and I will do what I can before I leave."

Alenis chuckled as she walked out the door. Arvel was apparently back to his old playful self, and Alenis was relieved that at least someone would take care of the dishes for her.

Timothy Rouse

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:03 am

Meeting with the brass...
Deep Space 9
The morning after docking
Authors: Cmdr. Alenis Meru and Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Rouse

Alenis and Tim rushed through the corridors of the station, Ko-ko in tow. Alenis led the way using a map on the PADD. A wrong turn led them through the Promenade where Ko-ko's presence caused a minor stir, but a few Federation credits to an irate fruitmonger quickly settled the dispute. Though the receptionist gave them some curious glances, she waved them right on through to Washington's office. As they stood outside, Alenis straightened out her uniform. It was barely presentable for a meeting with the admiralty.

"Tim, how do I look?" she asked, Ko-ko perched upon her shoulder.

"Did you have to bring the animal?" Tim said for the millionth time. "Never mind, you look great. Can you do me a favour, please don’t mention Ellen in this conversation."

“You don’t have to tell me twice,” replied Alenis. She already had a lot to explain to Admiral Washington; the last thing she wanted to have to do was to discuss her Executive Officer’s relationship with his daughter. Alenis took a deep breath and then pressed the chime.

“Enter!” shouted the Admiral, the power in his stern voice barely muffled by the door.

As Alenis stepped in, she took in the old world charm of Washington’s office. Between the antique wooden desk, the brass desk lamp, and a 23rd century vintage star chart, the office gave off an air of conservatism that was matched only by the man himself. With a neatly trimmed white beard and a look of perpetual dissatisfaction on his face, Washington barely even glanced up from his PADD at the new entrants. “Admiral Washington, you wanted to meet in person to discuss the—”

“Yes. Take a seat,” he said in a gruff voice.

As Alenis sat down, Ko-ko nuzzled up against her head, looking for attention. She held up her wrist, allowing Ko-ko to perch on her arm where she could scratch her feathers. “Admiral, this is Lt. Commander Timothy Rouse, my executive officer. I’m not sure if you’ve met each other yet.”

Washington nodded slightly and placed his PADD on his desk, his eyes meeting Tim’s as he looked up. “Mr. Rouse, would you care to explain to me why your captain has brought a wild animal into my office?”

"Oh, if I only could." Tim replied. "Apperently it is some kind of new counseling threatment." He looked at Meru. "I think she would be able to explain the situation better herself." Why didn't the man just ask him herself. She was standing next to him, for crying out loud.

"Yes, Mr. Rouse is correct," interjected Alenis. "This bird was prescribed to me for medical reasons." She didn't want to give the Admiral any more than that. "And Ko-ko is hardly a wild animal; she's actually very well behaved."

"If this bird is so well behaved," asked Admiral Washington in a stern tone, "then why does Shras' report say that she defecated on his head?"

"I can explain," started Alenis. "You see, Shras was being very... he was scaring Ko-ko, and..." Alenis trailed off. She couldn't explain.

"I read his report," replied Washington, cutting off Alenis' ramblings as he picked up his PADD. "Do you have any idea what it might say?"

"I have some idea," replied Alenis in a dejected tone.

"Stunningly incompetent, unfit to command a garbage scow, disrespectful of his work, a complete lack of regard for duty, disorderly conduct... And the list goes on." Washington stared down the two officers in front of them. He enjoyed watching then squirm. "And in addition to the aforementioned incident with - ahem - Ko-ko, he reports that lax security allowed some prankster to fill his entire office with balloons. Ms. Alenis, Mr. Rouse..."

Alenis winced and closed her eyes. She placed one hand on Ko-ko's head and prepared for her dressing down. Her first command may have just come to a sudden end.

"...that is the funniest thing I've read all week."

"Sir?" asked Alenis, confused.

"Shras is a wack job. He's had something like this coming for a long time." A faint smile appeared on Washington's face as he had a mental image of Ko-ko releasing her payload on Shras' head.

Tim released the breath he'd been holding.

"I... I concur, Admiral," replied Alenis, relief in her voice.

"Now, I heard you had a little tangle with the Orions," said Washington, returning to a serious tone. "Mr. Rouse, I understand you took command of the Quebec City and encountered some temporal phenomena, is that correct?"

"That is correct. After our Diplomatic officer managed to guide both timelines, we were able to fire at the exact right moment." Tim tried to explain. He still didn't exactly know what Tyrlai had done, but he did know that she saved his ass on this thing.

"Good work, Mr. Rouse; from what I've read you were lucky to survive the encounter," replied the Admiral. "I'm sure you are aware that any encounter with temporal phenomena must be investigated by the Department of Temporal Investigations. Agents Chrodum and Craebert are en route to this station as we speak, along with Dr. Dengo, a specialist in the effects of time distortions on the body, so expect to be pulled in for questioning."

"I'm aware of that"

Having complimented the executive officer on his heroism, Washington turned his attention to Alenis. "Now, I understand you left port without all systems online, and as a result were at a disadvantage during the battle with this Mr. Vike, and nearly lost a member of your crew and a civilian due to radiation poisoning because of a lack of medical equipment."

Alenis gulped. "Yes, sir, but--"

"No buts, Commander. Leaving port with critical systems offline is a serious dereliction of duty."

"Sir, I was under orders to complete testing Project Mongoose, and deemed the missing systems to be superfluous to that task." Alenis was defending herself aggressively, not allowing herself to be intimidated by the admiral. "No one could have anticipated the Orion attack."

"Always be prepared, Commander." Decades ago, Washington was an Eagle Scout, and even as a Starfleet Admiral he retained the motto. As a father, he pushed Ellen to follow in his footsteps, even volunteering to be a scoutmaster in her troop. Even back then, none of the boys dared approach her for fear of incurring the wrath of her father, or Baloo the Bear as he was known to the troop. "Starfleet lost one of its greatest captains on a shakedown cruise because someone decided that the installation of vital systems could have waited until next Tuesday. I've got half a mind to pull your command after this performance, but I suppose I can't fault you for responding to a distress signal. I'd have done the same thing myself. And more importantly, I need you." Washington's eyes for a moment fell on a pewter model of a Miranda class starship on his desk. He has a soft spot for the old ships; the USS Delphia, a Miranda class, was his first command. But even he was surprised to see decades later, COs getting their start the same way he did. "The Portland... take it easy on the old girl. These Mirandas may not be the biggest or newest or most powerful ship in the fleet, but treat her right and she'll take you to the ends of the galaxy."

"Aye sir," replied Alenis. She paused to ponder the Admiral's words. "You said you needed me, sir? Do you have orders?"

"Not at this time," replied Washington. "We've got a special assignment for you and your crew in the works, but until that is finalized, remain docked at DS9 for repairs. Feel free to take some shore leave; I presume you know your way around the surface."

"Actually, sir, I haven't set foot in this system since I was nine," replied Alenis. "And from what I understand, things have changed a fair bit since then."

"I... see." Washington found that curious, but did not press the issue. He'd rather keep an emotional distance from the captains serving under him; he felt that being too friendly with them would undermine his air of authority. "Well, you're missing a fair bit. Speaking of which, I don't need to remind you that we have a banquet in honour of Lt. Zade's recovery of the Shard coming up. I expect you and all your senior staff to attend in full dress uniform. I don't need to tell you how important this banquet is, so don't screw it up." Washington's warning was meant as much for Tyrlai as it was for Alenis; he had a passing familiarity with her record.

"Yes, sir, We'll be there with bells on."

"One more thing, Commander." Washington's face turned deadly serious as he stared into Alenis' eyes. "I don't know if you are aware of this or not, but my daughter is serving on your ship. Ellen Washington is my pride and joy, and if anything happens to her while she is under your command, I will personally make sure you spend the rest of your days flying a cargo ship full of rubber dog toys out of Bolarus IX. You hear me?"

"I... uh,..." Alenis' eyes wandered over towards Tim, but she quickly corrected herself, before the Admiral could detect any hidden meaning to her glance. "Your daughter is safe in my hands, sir"

"Excellent. I'm glad we have an understanding here," he said in a stern voice. "Now, take that... that creature... and get out of my office."

Alenis quickly stood up and left, with Tim in tow and Ko-ko perched upon her wrist. Petting the bird as she walked away, she turned to Tim. "Well, I suppose it could have gone worse..."

"Well, we are still alive. I hope I will be so lucky next time. News travels fast on a ship." Tim said, relieved his death sentence had been postponed

"You got off easy this time," replied Alenis. She let out a deep breath. "Just... please treat her right. I don't want my next command to be a garbage scow."

Tim smiled thinking of Ellen. "You know, this might sound stupid, but I really care about her."

As they walked away from the Admiral's office, Alenis put her hand on Tim's shoulder. "That's not so stupid; I know exactly how you feel."

Rostrenen T'Sering

Re: Mission Two: "The Banquet"

Wed Mar 25, 2015 2:04 am

Old friends...
Deep Space Nine
The day after docking
Authors: Cmdr. Alenis Meru, Rostrenen T'Sering

Ko-ko on her shoulder, Alenis strolled through the Promenade, taking in the sights. The Promenade had been remodeled several times since the occupation, and the harsh Cardassian architecture was softened by the Bajoran decor trying to cover up any reminder of the occupation. They had done a good job; while the shapes were distinctly Cardassian in origin, they were largely disguised by the warm colours and soft curves built by Bajoran plasterers, carpenters and painters to conceal the dark history and bad memories of the Promenade when the station was called Terok Nor.

Alenis felt at home; between the shopkeepers, customers, and people passing through the station in or out of Bajor, she hadn't seen this many Bajorans since she was a child. Of course, there were others; as a Federation outpost, DS9 was home to all kinds of species. But by far the majority of shopkeepers and shoppers were Bajoran. In one of those shops, Alenis was embroiled in difficult negotiations with a tea merchant. One of the challenges for buyers on DS9 was that some of the Bajoran shopkeepers had learned business practices from their Ferengi counterparts, so it was easy to overpay or get rooked exchanging Federation credits, gold-pressed latium, and Bajoran Litas. Fortunately, Alenis knew the product she was buying nearly as well as the seller. Also, it helped if you were Bajoran, and it helped even more if you had a bird on your shoulder, squawking at the shopkeeper and putting him off balance.

As she concluded negotiations and paid the merchant a handsome but not exorbiant sum for a large bundle of authentic Bajoran teas, Alenis felt a hand on her shoulder. "Captain?" asked the smooth, oddly familiar voice.

"You are a captain now?" repeated an elfine woman, peering curiously at Alenis. Though in reality she was quite short and petite, the way this person held herself up produced a sort of corona around her, which doubled her stature. She pulled her hand back and it hovered under her chin, tracing the line of her jaw idly with one slender finger. She stood evenly on both feet, but still seemed as though she couldn't be quite grounded. Her muscles all seemed relaxed, but subdued like a coiled spring, waiting for an invitation to leap out again. Rostrenen was half Vulcan, and her pointed ears were stuck with metal piecings. Her cheeks were pierced, the bridge of her nose, her lips, septim, and there were red lines like scratches symetrical on both sides of her long pale neck. All of her piercings were small stones of Talarian jade, umblemished placeholders for other less sparse design choices. A sleeveless navy green halter dress was tied around her neck, forming a bow behind her above the symetrical, rythmic patterns painted into the skin of her bare back. There were stone cuffs around both wrists, but she had no trouble supporting them on lean, muscular arms. Her legs were tucked into brown patterened, patchwork tights leaning into simple black slippers. Her head was mostly shaved as a monk, except for a tuft of blue hair above her.

"It is great to see you Meru. Tell me about what you are feeling?" Rostrenen's eyes were bright and earnest, but the merest hints of emotion barely glimmered on her face.

"Ros?" asked Alenis. Rostrenen looked very different from the last time they saw each other, back in the academy. Back then, Ros' hair was shaved and the two of them met when they were both being chewed out by an overbearing instructor for wearing non-uniform earrings. Starfleet Academy demanded a very conservative dress code, and with so few Bajorans in the service in those days, even a traditional Bajoran earring was considered a violation of uniform protocol. Now, before her stood Rostrenen, with piercings, tattoos, and hair brighter than Ko-ko's plumage. Even behind her various body modifications, Rostrenen's round face with sharp, delicate features was one that was difficult to forget. And though Ros was 30 years Alenis' senior, her slow Vulcan aging process meant that she had barely aged since the academy. "It's so great to see you," said Alenis, beaming with joy. With a shopping bag in one hand and Ko-ko on her shoulder, Alenis gave her old friend and comrade from the academy a tight hug.

"Yes, I'm a captain, as of about a week ago," said Alenis. "Well, my rank is Commander but I captain a starship... I know, Starfleet ranks, so confusing." Alenis smiled and stared into Ros' eyes. "I'm feeling..." Alenis paused. There isn't really a polite way to say that she was nearly killed in action two days ago along with the rest of her ship, that she hadn't had a good night's sleep in three years because of what happened at New Algiers, that she was suffering from opioid withdrawal since Brad and Arvel took her medication away, and that the only thing keeping her somewhat sane was a pet bird. "Well. I'm feeling well." Of course, Alenis knew that Ros would totally see through her little white lie with her empathic powers, but the rules of conversation dictate that one doesn't immediately dump all her problems on an old friend you're being reunited with after 15 years. "And how about you? I've seen your articles in the papers, I presume that you're no longer with Starfleet?"

Blinking, Ross finally put her hand around Alenis and gently stroked her shoulders until the Commander pulled away. She still wasn't smiling, but something about her seemed to glow generously. "No," she responded quite matter-of-factly. Rostrenen felt as if she might be staring, and looking away for a moment to examine the room. She'd been told by one of the publishers for the Andorian Media Council that her pupilless grey eyes were off-setting. Spooky was his choice of words, but he hadn't meant it badly. She was trying to be careful not to haunt people with them. In dealing with other species, most Vulcan children had guidance from their parents, either to be emotionally repressed, logical councilors to be saught for clear-headed wisdom, or to be friends and mentors, sympathetic ears for people's who had never developed a logical centre. With the Yv'Wrech monks, she spent months learning to be angry, years learning to be joyful, but never one lesson trying to have a polite conversation. Social protocol, she found out later, was probably the more important. She graduated the Academy with distinction, but very poor academic achievement, because her professors eventually agreed that she'd never demonstate her ability to them in the standard way. Besides, not understanding the rules at play meant she couldn't feel disappointed in her results anyway. It since the beginning had been about the experience itself and not the resultant profile.

She looked at Ko-ko and lifted her hand, but the bird became shy and back away from her, so Ros let it be. She looked back at Alenis, who despite herself, wasn't hiding her stress very well. "Will you come with me? We will find something for your bird to enjoy. I want her to like me."

"Where are we going?" asked Alenis. But before she could even finish the question, Rostrenen had taken her by the hand and started half-leading, half-dragging her across the promenade. Zipping by the shops in a blur, all Alenis could do was try to keep from losing her bundle of tea, and try to keep Ko-ko calm. Out of breath, Alenis arrived at what was evidently their destination. "Where are we?" she asked.

Ros gave a check-in glance to Alenis before releasing her hand. They were in a non-assuming, rather dank old part of the habitation ring. Rostren lowered herself onto her knees, and then tried to budge one of the panels into what appeared to be an energy conduit of some kind. It was locked and gave a gutteral negative sound. Undeterred, Rostrenen opened up an access port, but it was security sealed. She considered asking Alenis for a clearance code, but this was a gift to the other woman, and it stuck her as poor form to ask for a favour to perform a favour. So instead, she carefully removed one of the metal bars from one of her elongated ears, tore a bit of the leg of her tights to wrap her hand in and jammed that thing as hard as she could into the access port. There were sparks and a mechanical wheeze, but the panel opened when she tried it next.

Ros looked up at Alenis and held out her arms. "You should go first. It is not too far. But please let me take care of your bird. Okay?"

"She's very friendly," said Alenis, as she tranferred Ko-ko from her shoulder to her wrist. As she held her arm out, Ko-ko just looked back at her. "Come on, Ko-ko, Ros is a friend. She won't hurt you." With a gentle push on her back, Ko-ko jumpted into Ros' hands.

The corridor was sprinkled with moist air and condensation, but it wasn't unpleasant or humid, and it was only a short way like Rostrenen had promised. On the other side, treetops. The corridor led out onto a shelf, a maintenance catwalk running the length of a huge open room, enough space to sit and dangle your feet. It was dark, and Ros followed with one hand held gently over ko-ko's eyes. Artificial light from below a canopy of dense, lively trees spilled up between the dewy leaves. Voices and chatter from below also faded and rose above the tops of the jungle flora, but it was muted and distant. Instead, the only lights were very dimly glowing tubes along the far wall, mimicing natural moonlight, and there were huge ports open in the ceiling above them. The Portland was moored in the pylon in view far ahead, the sloped ceiling facing out toward the outer ring of Deep Space Nine, and stars beyond. They were in the high climate section of the arbouretum, several decks above the public entrances, which were open and lit from below. But up here, the conditions were produced to mimic a tropical night. Vapour clouds formed and deformed above the canopy of trees, swirled by jets of air throughout the large, open section. The leaves glistened slightly with moisture. Rostrenen moved her hand off Ko-ko's eyes, and the bird looked around sleepily, then took flight from Ros' bracelet, circling above the trees as far as the room extended.

The half Vulcan watched, and sat beside Alenis on the ledge as security entered on the ground floor, dozens of metres below. Someone had triggered an alarm in this section...

Alenis looked back at Ros, a horrified look on her face. "We're not supposed to be here; we should leave," she said. But as she looked back out into the armoretum, Ko-ko was nowhere to be seen. "Ko-ko... where are you? Ko-ko..." Panicked, Alenis' breathing rate increased drastically. "Ros, I've lost Ko-ko, you have to help me--"

Rostrenen tilted her head a little, trying to puzzle what the fuss was about. "Take a deep breath," she began calmly. She estimated that they had at least another five minutes before Station Security checked the climate ducts of the upper arbouretum. Ros could tell Alenis needed a break, so even a little one should be helpful! As generous as ever, it was something Ros knew she'd have liked, so she thought showing Alenis up here was uncommonly inuitive. She smiled and looked out over the treetops to demonstrate, opening her arms wide and taking a long, relaxed breath. "It smells like the tropics on Bajor. This arbouretum has not been on the station long, but the gravity is adjusted for the trees which grow in higher altitudes." She looked over, still composed without a smile, but Ros looked at Alenis with concern. She wondered how she wasn't helping the commander to relax.

"Halt!" shouted a security guard approaching them from the corridor. "You are trespassing in a secure area."

Half-blinded by the flashlight, Alenis raised her hands in surrender. "Trespassing? I'm sorry, we were trying to get to the arboretum and must have taken a wrong turn somewhere."

"You'll have to come with me, ma'am. You too," he said, shining up at Ros, a slightly confused expression on his face. The two of them made an unlikely pair -- a straight-laced starfleet captain and a young looking elfish woman with a punky style and many visible body modifications. "We're not saboteurs," chimed in Rostrenen at the best time, blinking.

"Look, ensign, I'm sorry for trespassing. As I was saying, we got a little lost and it was an accident. But right now I need to find Ko-ko," pleaded Alenis.

"We can find this Ko-ko later, whatever it is," replied the guard in a strict tone. "But right now you have to come with me." The security man crawled in after them, and Ros put her hands on Alenis' shoulders to help her back up along the ledge, totally accomodating to the guard who was trying to arrest them. In an effort to drag her along, he grabbed Alenis' wrist.

"Get your hands off me, ensign," snarled Alenis as she quickly snapped her arm back, freeing it from his grip.

"Commander, please come peacefully, or I will have to use force," he said as he reached for a stun gun.

"Excuse me," said Rostrenen from behind Alenis on the narrow ledge. "Would it be helpful if I came with you? Could we then leave Alenis to find Ko-Ko, and relax which you are making very difficult?"

"Ma'am, you'll both have to come with me," said the security guard as he pulled out a pair handcuffs, holding them up in front of the two women before him who were slowly backing away. "Now, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. I'd much rather do it the easy way, but--" Unfortunately for him, the climate settings in the arboretum had been adjusted to simulate a dewy morning. He barely made it two steps before slipping on the moist walkway, sending him sliding into the handrail. Worse, the improperly installed handrail gave way when it was met with the force of a falling security officer weighing over 100 kg. As the stun gun and handcuffs clattered to the floor, the security guard clung desperately to a piece of the handrail, held on only by two bolt straining against the weight of the swaying guard.

Alenis froze in horror as he stared up into her eyes. She was the closer of the two. Ros put her hands on Alenis' shoulders to snap her out of shock. Following the commander closer, Ros leaned over the railing and caught the man's hand when he swung it up. He was almost hyperventilating, but with Alenis taking one arm and Ros pulling him up with the other, he managed to roll back onto the ledge. "You are safe," she reassured, peering at him as his chest heaved up and down.

"Oh- Prophets, thank you! I- I- I- wow..." he stammered, pulling himself up to sit against the wall, away from the edge.

Ros took advantage of the direction he was facing, out toward the canopy. "I do not know if you noticed just then, but this is a beautiful spot. Do you not think so?" The shaking officer snorted a chuckle and shook his head. Ros was confused as he was.

The guard took a deep breath as he looked over the canopy. It was a beautiful sight, and though he didn't know what it was, he felt a calming feeling come over him. "Yes, in fact, it is beautiful," he said, his voice relaxed. He shook his head and took one last look out at the trees before turning back to the two women. He couldn't very well arrest them after they just possibly saved his life. "I'll let you off with a warning this time. Lock the access hatch on your way out." He turned to walk away, talking into his communicator with the rest of the security team. As he was about to step back into the corridor, he turned back to the two women. "And be careful, this ledge is slippery," he added with a smile.

"You didn't..." said Alenis to Ros. They had been friends a long time, and Alenis knew exactly what she was capable of.

Rostren opened her mouth, but reconsidered what Alenis had meant by that. "...Not intentionally," she answered honestly. It took a little bit of patience for someone not to let her idiosyncracies rub them the wrong way, but not too much. Whether conscious of it or not, most people will seek out effects that relax them. With decades of training to benefit from, most of Ros' projections were nothing if not benign. "Sometimes I only mimic what I sense people are already feeling," she added softly. Everyone does that, in fact.

As Alenis scanned the treetops for Ko-ko, her breathing slowed and deepened. Her nostrils filled with the smell of distinctive Bajoran trees -- Dakhur junipers, Moba trees, even some blackwood trees whose precise species she couldn't identify. It reminded her of her home, of the few precious moments of joy that a child would be afforded growing up under the... No. She didn't want to think about that. Ros, Arvel, Timothy, Brad... they were all right. She needed to relax more. "You know, Ko-ko can take care of herself," she said, still staring out at the little piece of home that was brought up to the station. "I'm sure if we wait here long enough, she'll come back."

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