Who: Lt JG Marcus Kallan, Gil Meriatha Korat (NPC), Lt. Jason Beauvoir, Coln Jena (NPC)
Where: Computer Core, USS Portland
When: Before or during the Symposium on Trill
Most of the crew's efforts to patch together the Portland were focused on much of her external-facing systems and shoring up structures. The computer core, one of the most heavily-defended and shielded places of the ship, suffered only minor damage, which had already been repaired. As a consequence, it was very quiet, with only the hum of subspace fields and isolinear components filling the room.
It was a sound Marcus found very comforting.
He sat at the console usually operated by an Operations crewman or Ensign assigned to monitor computer core systems, whom he relieved -- not so much feeling generous, but just wanting the space to himself. A number of PADDs littered the console top while he quietly tapped and worked, putting together his notes on the Nerys hologram. Most of the facts he knew by heart, having worked on her -- with her? -- over the past few months to exclusivity. All that really remained was organization of information, presentation imagery, and the 24th-century equivalent of a PowerPoint deck.
"I thought I'd find you here," came an almost accusatory alto, accompanied by the turbo doors quietly whooshing open and closed. "You've been avoiding me," the female voice said. Coming into the subdued glow of the computer core revealed a Cardassian woman's face.
"Hi, Merry," Marcus replied, not looking up from his work. "I thought you'd find me when you were ready for round two of harassment."
"Clearly no one here is doing that," Meriatha said. She slowly circled the main console, tracing its edges with her hand. She regarded the older, but upgraded and uprated core. "This is inferior technology," she observed dryly.
"Yeah, no kidding. But it's home," Marcus said. He sighed; there was no getting any work done while she was here. Might as well get the unpleasantness out of the way. "Go on and say it."
"What you came here to say."
Meratha turned to look at Marcus over her shoulder. Rather than coy, her facial expression looked a combination of disappointment and disapproval. "You left me," she sneered.
"I was transferred," Marcus said in defense, a hint of defensive anger creeping into his voice. "And we weren't engaged."
"We were!" Meriatha slapped the console with her hand. "There were wedding preparations on Cardassia Prime! Family was coming from all over the quadrant! You abandoned me!"
Marcus pointed an accusatory finger. "That was all in your head, Merry! We were talking about it, not cementing the deal!" He ran both hands through his hair, exasperation setting in. "We've had this fight a thousand times before!"
"Thirty four times, actually," she corrected him. "Hyperbole doesn't suit you." Now she was looking coy.
"Damnit, Merry, go back to your post, and leave me alone," Marcus said, jaw tightening with frustration.
"For the duration of the Symposium, I'm assigned to you, to my chagrin," she responded, looking, again, disappointed.
"Huh? How? Why?" Marcus' frustration and anger dissolved to confusion. "Why haven't I received transfer orders?"
"Because I'm here to deliver them to you, right now," Merry said. Completing her circuit of the console, she got dangerously close to Marcus, hands slinking up the front of his chest to curl behind his shoulders.
"...Wait, what?..." Marcus was completely disarmed. He began to stammer a protest, but she cut him off.
"Thirty four times we have had a heated argument. And thirty three times, we had a very enjoyable night afterwards," the Cardassian woman purred. "For being a human, you always knew how to be belligerent in just the right way."
"Merry, I... I can't..." Marcus whispered, looking a mixture of afraid and seduced, peering down into her eyes. He licked his lips -- why were they so dry, all of a sudden? "I'm... involved with someone..."
"Good, that will make it that much more delicious..." And that's when Meriatha went in for the kiss.
"I could do this by myself, you know?" Jena said as she and her father made their way to the Computer Core.
"Yes, but after the last fiasco, you promised Commander Rouse, you would not." Jason replied.
The young woman sighed. "I was worried about you, and nobody would tell me anything."
"I understand and I appreciate that, but there is protocol for a reason." Jason said.
Jena rolled her eyes. "But it's just a request for another datablock."
Before Jason could reply, they entered the room to find Marcus and a Cardassian female in a romantic embrace.
"I apologies for the intrusion, Lieutenant." Jason said. "Come on, Jena, we will return later."
"Hey, Marcus, who's the dame?" Jena asked in a faux New York accent.
Pulling free of Meriatha's embrace, Marcus looked dumbfounded at Jason and Jena. "Oh, wait, guys! This isn't what you you think it is," he stammered, trying to disengage. Merry turned to regard the two, putting on a honey-sweet fake Cardassian smile. "Oh, hello. I'm Meriatha Korat. My supervisor and fiancé and I were just catching up." Marcus, ever-so-graceful, tripped on the foot rung of the console chair and stumbled a meter away, barely catching himself and preventing himself from spilling to the ground. "No! We've been over this! We're not engaged!"
"So, Meriatha, how did you and Marcus meet?" Jena asked.
"We were serving together at the Daystrom Annex on Starbase 173," Merry said, leaving the fumbling Marcus behind and approaching Jason and Jena. She extended a hand to the young woman. "I was an exchange officer. Marcus was my peer, then my superior. Science is not a rapid means of advancement in the Cardassian military, I'm afraid." She seemed more interested in conversing with Jena, and barely acknowledged Jason.
"Beauvy, help," Marcus mouthed silently, looking desperate. Pointing at him and Jena and then himself, he jutted his thumb towards the exit, and looked hopeful.
Reading Marcus' lips and expression, Jason said. "Ladies, if you will excuse us, I have something of importance to discuss with Lieutenant Kallan." And directed Marcus to the door.
Glancing up at Jason, Merry said, "Of course. Rescue your friend, Lieutenant, it's quite all right. If you don't mind, I would love to converse with your daughter." In typical Cardassian fashion, she knew more than she let on, and apparently already knew who Jason was as well as his daughter.
When Marcus scampered past like a fearful dog, Merry said, "Thank you for your time, Lieutenant. I look forward to working with you. Again."
Marcus grimaced, and then scurried out the door.
When they were in the corridor, Jason said. "Miss Korat seems pleasant." His manner and tone made it evident that he was suspicious of her attentions.
"She's a black widow," Marcus breathed, looking as if he were halfway into a panic attack. Gasping for air and clutching his chest, he panted, "Please don't tell Nikki. And you should make sure Jena doesn't pick up any bad habits. Cardassian women are friggin' dangerous, and she'll use her and anyone else on board to manipulate me back to her." He barked out a couple of coughs and pounded his chest, trying to get his breathing under control.
"Deep calming breaths, remember?" Jason said familiar with his friend's anxiety attacks. "I will not tell Nikki, because that is your responsibility."
"W-What?" Marcus almost had his panic under control, until that was mentioned. "No, I can't. It'll... she'll have a meltdown! It'd be like going to warp without inertial dampeners! Splut!" He shook his head. "No, I'll just... I'll just bury myself in the symposium. I'll cite Conflict of Interest with Rouse and get Merry reassigned. I'll... I'll..." Another cough, and Marcus slumped down to the deck, looking very pale. This was the worst Jason had ever seen Marcus. This was a Nikki-level freak-out.
Remaining calm, Jason grabbed a medkit from a nearby locker. He scanned Marcus with the tri-corer, and waited for the results. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and high serotonin absorption. Taking a hypo, he prepared a solution of dextrose-saline and a low concentration of a partial serotonin inhibitor and pressed it to his friends neck. "You have been over doing, it again, my friend. You may think like a Vulcan, but you do not have the constitution of one. You must take care of yourself." He said as his friend began to calm down.
Marcus did begin to calm, but that was only because of the hypo. "I... need to lie down," he said, scrambling to his feet with Jason's help. "Just... keep an eye on the both of them, okay?" He jutted a thumb back towards the computer lab.
"I will." Jason promised and watched Marcus make his way to the turbolift before returning to the Computer Core.
Chief Operations Officer