Malbi liked working out later in the day, since fewer people went in the afternoons. She preferred to be alone, since a Klingon running seemed to be worth staring at for other gym-goers. She had just gotten off her shift down in engineering and was heading from her quarters as she hummed tunes from a Klingon opera to the remarkably vacant corridors and turbolift. She walked into the gym and abruptly ceased her humming in surprise as she saw that today, she had company.
Ash had finished his shift early and decided he'd put the extra time he had to good use. After changing out of his uniform into a tank top and sweat pants he had made his way to the ship's gym for a workout. As he was moving through his cardiac program on a treadmill the doors to the gym parted and a Klingon officer whom Ash had not yet met entered. While Ash wasn't against talking at the gym he new many people just wanted to exercise and get out of there so rather than starting a conversation he opened with a friendly smile and a wave as their eyes met.
Uh oh, eye contact, Malbi thought, realizing that the socially correct next step would be to say hello, then introduce herself. So she did. "Hello," she stated simply, not smiling back because a Klingon's smile was usually seen as more threatening than kind.
"Hi." Ash replied as he slowed down to a jog.
"Ensign Malbi, computer systems specialist. Are you new here? I don't believe I've seen you before," she inquired as she mounted the other treadmill and began with a light jog.
Coming from a very large ship where people tended to keep to their own circles, having a conversation with a stranger in the gym was a welcome surprise to Ash. "I just transferred. Ensign Ash Sullivan, but you can call me Ash. I'm the new Assistant Security Chief." He responded with a smile.
Malbi couldn't help but notice the irony of their positions. From what few Klingons she'd heard of in Starfleet, they all seemed to be security officers, whereas humans and some other species tended to gravitate toward ops and engineering. It She realized that as she was wound up in her thoughts that she didn't realize she'd let the conversation lapse into an awkward silence.
Doing the polite thing -she hoped- Malbi cleared her throat and asked, "So, um, do you work out much?" She internally chided herself for such a strange comment, then sped up her treadmill to a faster running speed.
"I do a little every day." Ash replied trying to match Malbi's speed on his own treadmill. "My last ship's psychiatrist told me that its a bit of an addiction but as far as I'm concerned its a healthy one. How about you?"
"I come here after my shift every day. I find it relaxing," Malbi replied simply, "And it's less crowded after the shift change, whereas before tends to be chaotic."
"That's very true. On my old ship there was no such thing as a quiet gym session. We had a very large crew and the gym was almost never empty so this is a nice change." Ash said. "I don't know about you but I find a little company in here gives me more motivation." He said with a playful grin as he increased the speed of his treadmill trying to outrun Malbi.
Malbi increased her own treadmill speed without even a flinch. Though they probably trained in equal amounts throughout their lives, but she had the advantage of an extra lung, effortlessly topping his speed. She didn't know why she felt the need to take his implicitly stated challenge - perhaps it was her Klingon competitiveness - but she did, saying, "Certainly, although I've yet to find a worthwhile competition thus far."
Ash continued to increase his speed with ease making a face expressing fake surprise, "Is that so Ensign." He said breaking into a sprint now.
"Yes it is, Ensign," Malbi replied almost mockingly as she increased her speed again. She began to feel her lungs working harder, and a sweat began to break out on her face.
Their running competition continued for almost 20 minutes before Ash finally slowed his treadmill. "Okay, you've won this round." Ash admitted as he reached for his water bottle and rubbed some sweat from his brow. "What's next?"
"A battle to the death," Malbi replied, completely deadpan for several seconds, until her face broke out into a grin and she laughed loud enough to be heard across the quadrant, "Alright, maybe the battle can wait for another day, so you can regain the use of your lungs." She hated to admit it, but this man's tenacity had won her respect. Congratulations to him, he was the first of the crew who had gotten her to laugh. On the downside, it was a pretty terrifying laugh, seeing as she was Klingon.
Ash stepped off the treadmill and caught his breath. It wasn't common to hear a Klingon laugh and he thought he caught a glimpse of self-consciousness on Malbi's part because of it. He smiled trying to put her at ease before speaking, "Maybe not a battle to the death today, but how about some weights?"
Malbi nodded, "Alright," she agreed, walking over to the weights area of the gym and began to rack a couple hundred pounds onto a bar. She decided that the run had been enough of warm up, so she went straight into a heavy set.
For Ash it was leg day and he loaded up a bar ready to do some squats. "What are you working on today? Do you want me to spot you?" He asked, looking over to Malbi.
"Back Squats, and yes please, thank you, " Malbi replied as she hooked her shoulders under the bar and lifted with her legs, exhaling as she squatted and inhaling as she came up. On her second exhale, she said, "I don't lift weights very often, not since the Academy, that is," she paused to inhale as she stood again, "But I suppose it could be useful strength training for holodeck battles."
"Holodeck battles..." Ash mused as he watched Malbi's form. "You'll have to tell me about those. My workouts tend to be more traditional: run fast, lift heavy things, repeat." He said with a bit of a laugh.
Malbi chuckled, a deep, resonating rumble in her chest, and replied, "They're the most popular Klingon battles, Qam-Chee, which was Kahless's battle for the freedom of Qo'noS, the conquest of Tong Vey, among others." She re-racked her weight and stepped out from the rack, gesturing for Sullivan to take his turn.
Still feeling competitive Ash added some more weight to the bar before beginning. He positioned the bars on his shoulders and lifted the weight fairly comfortably. "Interesting. Do you do any martial arts?" He asked before exhaling sharply into the squat.
"Yes. Mok'bara, the Klingon martial art, was one of my first classes as a child," Malbi replied as she stood to the side and watched. "And you?"
"I did a fair bit back at the academy." Ash explained between squats, "I was alright at it... but out on a starship... there tends to be less people to... practice with." He placed the bar back on the rack and stepped out from under it. "I tried running some holodeck programs on my last ship but it just isn't the same as the real thing. Computer programs tend to be predictable, they follow set rules and once you know those rules they're not much competition. I also enjoy mixed martial arts, merging different fighting techniques and that tends to confuse holocharacters."
Malbi took the bar again, keeping with the weight that Sullivan had used. She nodded in agreement with his statement, saying, "I agree, it is the same with the battle simulations. Once you've done the same one several times, you know exactly where each warrior will be and how they will attack every time," the paused to begin her squats again, "It gets rather boring, hardly a glorious battle."
"Maybe you and I should spar some time. You can teach me how to use a Bat'leth and I'll teach you some kickboxing." He suggested, only half jokingly.
Malbi nodded as much as she could with the bar resting on her shoulders and neck. "I would enjoy that," she replied, and not kidding either. He would be surprised at how much boxing she already knew. The 'kick' part ought to be interesting, though. She was curious to find out what it was.
After a few more sets Ash was beginning to feel the fatigue in his legs. "I'm done here, Malbi. I have to run training drills tomorrow. Looks like you win again," He said, putting his hands up in mock surrender.
Although, she wouldn't admit it, Malbi was smirking slightly. "Alright, we will try again with you kickboxing soon. Maybe you will even win," she replied, though her confidence after this had her thinking that his victory would be highly unlikely.
With his tank top now clinging to his torso from sweat, Ash turned for the door. "Maybe." He said. "See you round." With that he headed for his quarters for a much needed shower.