SIM:JP: Lt. Jg. Kevin Breeman and Ens. Ensign Nicholas "Nickels" Luciano: Introductions just before A Celebration
Kevin Breeman and Nickels Luciano try simultaneously to tell each other about what happened during the retaking of the USS Phoenix and also to avoid one another's probing questions about it.
((Corridor - Promenade - DS - 17))
((OOC: This takes place just before meetup with Rogers and the security people))
::Kevin stepped through the corridor wondering what exactly he was doing here. He'd been invited by security chief Rogers to go and talk about an incident in which he'd been humiliated by a tatooed alien and rendered incapable of doing anything. Flashing through his mind was the image of himself held there with a knife starting to cut his throat. The implicit humanism of autonomy which he'd learned partially from the academy and partially from his own interpretation of his experiences there had failed him miserably. Clouds of acidic doubt were rolling into his mind and the sheer pressure of the experience loomed on him. Was he not as powerful as he thought? He'd met a frontier of himself and had no idea what to do.
Finally he'd managed at the very end to disable the self destruct but only with the help of an unauthorized yellow ball floating in the air.
Just then he saw a familiar face. It was that Iotian security officer. He appeared to be in the midst of an avid discussion with one of the station's Operations personnel, a trim young girl who was clutching an extended, throbbing finger in her hand and wearing a furious expression as she waved it accusingly. ::
Nickels: Look, doll, I'm just sayin' that if you don't wanna get bitten, ya probably shouldn't walk up and pet strange friggin' xenos.
:: The Operations crewman stomped her foot and gestured again, wordlessly furious as she shook her injured hand in a wave overhead. Glancing up, Kevin could see an avian wheeling above them through the cool manufactured air of the Promenade, a tall crested bird with bright plumage in a riot of golds, lavenders and blues. It chirruped a pealing song that sounded oddly like laughter. Normally he might have had a compulsion to anthropomorphize the creature and he was even tempted to wonder if it might be telepathic, sensing Kevin's internal plight. However, he thought better of it when he heard Nickels say something that he felt distinctly closed the question of the animal's telepathy. ::
Nickels: Yeah, yeah, I know he mighta SAID you could pet him, but you can't trust everyone ya meet.
::He smiled as he realized what had happened. The crewman had been bitten and she was now seeking some kind of recourse. Play with fire and you will be burned. He found this extremely amusing to watch, as the naive crewman thought evidently that she was justified in her reaction.::
Crewman: That HURT!
Nickels: ::grinning:: Ya want I should kiss it an' make it better, kitten?
:: As to Luciano, he was a fascinating figure to say the least but also one who made Kevin feel more than a little nervous. His evidently cavalier attitude toward his job and toward danger was in stark contrast to the overblown sense of self consciousness Kevin had been feeling since his brief entrapment had ended. As long as he could use his intellect as a shield, no attack could ever hurt him. But this was different. ::
Breeman: ::With an air of formality:: Good evening.
:: Nickels turned away from the furious and now blushing dame from Ops and found a familiar face at his shoulder. The whiz kid from Engineering, with the light-jump mind. His dossier was full of offbeat ideas and astonishing turns of thought. Raising his eyebrows, he turned away from the furious crewman and tipped two fingers off his forehead, the lazy Iotian saluting gesture that could roughly be translated as "howyadoin'" ::
Crewman: What's GOOD about it? I just got savagely assaulted by an insane bird!
::Kevin backed his head a bit at the woman's outburst.::
Nickels: ::politely disregarding the irate crewman:: Lieutenant Breeman, I presume. Good t'see ya made it out.
:: It wasn't immediately clear whether Luciano meant "out on the town" or "out of the Phoenix alive". Kevin found his dialect most unusual and fascinating. It was interesting that the universal translator was so precise as to pick up regional idioms. Tucking this away for future contemplation, Kevin elected to turn to the subject of the avian.::
Breeman: What is that, a bird up there? He bites I take it?
Crewman: Yes, he BITES. He's CRAZY!
Nickels: Aw, put a sock in it.
::Kevin was tempted to laugh. The man reminded him slightly of his father, who would often say, "Oh, you'll live!" whenever someone became overly dramatic about a minor injury. Indeed, he didn't find that the bite looked terribly painful but perhaps the creature's saliva contained a poison?::
:: There was a loud flutter as the creature landed neatly on Nickels' shoulder, clutching his uniform tunic with four-toed blue feet. Now that he had landed, Kevin could see the bird was at least somewhat similar to a large Terran parrot, with larger eyes, an odd sloping crest, and a beak that opened out radially in four parts. Preening, the bird whistled in two-part harmony, an unusual trick, and leaned forward to tilt its head at the girl from Ops, peering at her with large golden eyes before speaking in a musical voice. ::
Alibi: Give us a kiss, sugar.
:: With a little shriek, the crewman backed away and then took to her heels, vanishing into the crowds of the Promenade. Nickels chuckled and reached up with his left hand, stroking a finger along the bird's crest as it crooned with pleasure. ::
Nickels: This is Alibi. He's a real card.
Breeman: It certainly looks that way.
:: Nicky peered curiously at the man. He appeared as self-possessed and intellectually sharp as he always had whenever Luciano had passed him in the corridors, but there was something in his eyes. Something a little glassy. He a looked a bit like Fingers Okarkix had the night he'd accidentally dropped a safe onto Johnny Two Tons. ::
::Kevin eyed Nickels::
Nickels: You were down in Engineerin' on the Phoenix when all that hell broke loose, werentcha? You guys seemed to do pretty good. I heard ya even stopped us all from gettin' blown up by them stab-happy loonies.
Breeman: ::This he could handle. No probing questions or looks of sympathy. No risk that the still-overwhelming emotions from his having been held hostage would spill over and betray his lack of interior professionalism to Nickels.:: I had the misfortune of being detained while attempting to disarm the Phoenix's self destruct.
Nickels: Detained-shemtained. ::he waved a hand in a dismissive gesture:: We're all still here an' not floatin' around in space mixed up with a buncha exploded starship wreckage, ain't we? I'd call that a nice piece'a work.
:: Alibi piped up. ::
Alibi: Workin' HARD for the money.
oO ... o' course, this guy was probably right there watchin' when the bloodbath broke loose. Nuts. I don't know if I wanna avoid thinkin' about that or not. Oo
Breeman: Heh, yeah. ::He tried to brush off the comment. The sensation of the knife almost cutting into his throat etched its way into his mind the way the dark hairy legs of a spider crept their way into the mind of an arachnophobe.::
:: But still, Kevin was more than a little worried. Would he find himself dwelling on the disturbing experience again and start to tear up? Unperturbed, Nickels continued. ::
Nickels: I mean, from the way I heard it down in the canteen, you were practically makin' the computer on the Phoenix dance. That musta been a trick, keepin' together with all that rickrack goin' on around you.
oO Remember, you're among the toughest people Starfleet has to offer. Try and look sharp. Oo
::Perhaps if he changed the subject to Nickels instead.::
Breeman: I honestly don't remember a lot about it. What was it like over there for you? I heard about that weapon design you had. Transporter technology for a sniper rifle...hm..
:: Nicky raised an eyebrow, a curiously Vulcan gesture for the Iotian as he mentally changed gears. ::
Nickels: Well ... I di'n't design the micro-transporter module for the TR-116. That was a fella name'a Chu'lak, over on a deep space station out near Bajor. He ... wasn't a nice guy. But what I was workin' on was some non-lethal adaptations f'r the gun. Shock rounds, modified from the ones Security's used f'r our propellant guns f'r quite some time now, an' neurozine shells dispersin' vapor offa crystallate, an' one that I really liked, usin' nanoengines t'fill up an area with adhesive filaments. I based 'em offa the Talarian hook spider. Heck, I even used some o' your own research on nanites gettin' the computer t'help me with that one.
:: He spoke animatedly, gesturing with both hands fluidly. Iotians were often accused of speaking with their hands, their fingers moving in intricate dances of subtext and broad operatic gestures. He spoke with passion, discussing a topic he'd poured a lot of love and attention into. Alibi, the bright-hued avian, bobbed his head, whistled enthusiastically and quoted Emerson in his harmonious voice. ::
Alibi: Science! Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science!
:: Kevin nodded, impressed with the young man's extensive research and excitement, along with the bird's evident familiarity with literature. It was in Luciano's passion that Kevin could see elements of himself - his tendency to become so obsessed with a project that it occupied all of his mind almost the way an object of infatuation might ensnare the mind of a lover.::
Nickels: I mean, this was wild stuff to be workin' on f'r a kid fresh outta the Academy. An' before the Academy, the most I'd ever learned about non-lethal rounds was rubber bullets, and those would still mess you up pretty bad, especially if y'took one alongside the head. But this ... workin' with the manufacturin' agents on the Indy is like havin' Santa's toyshop at yer fingertips. I could do any kinda thing I wanted. Felt real neat.
:: He sighed a little, his hands fluttering slowly down like wounded birds. ::
Nickels: Real neat.
:: He curled his fingers into a loose fist and smacked his right hand into his left palm, a gesture of quiet frustration, and then ran his palm through his Brylcreemed slick hair. He half-shrugged, as if tossing something off his shoulders. Alibi shifted on his shoulder, sidestepping on his blue clawed feet and warbled quietly, nudging the side of Nickels' head. ::
::Kevin was puzzled.::
Nickels: But I guess th'designs weren't good enough f'r the Marines. An' most o' the TR-116 shooters we had with the strike teams - all of 'em except me, I hear - were casualties of the friggin' sneak attack. So ... y'know. Didn't end up bein' very non-lethal.
:: His voice took on a chill edge that he tried to fight down. Alibi softly whistled a piece of music that could be identified by ethnomusicologists of the Terran 20th century as "Funeral March for a Marionette". ::
Breeman: I'm sorry to hear that. ::the unfamiliar song played on and Kevin felt relief that now Nickels was more on the spot than he was. He had deflected a potential embarrassment onto a person whom he imagined to be far more resiliant than he was.::
:: Nickels gestured again, and from seemingly nowhere a flashing silver coin appeared out of his palm and rolled across his knuckles. His lucky Iotian nickel, a talisman against the doubt that racked him. Suddenly, a detail from the reports he'd reviewed and filed during the extensive Security debriefing floated up before him like an unwelcome ghost. Breeman ... detained. He was the one that ... Nickels watched the Terran carefully, his indigo eyes sparkling, and flipped his nickel, catching it smoothly in his right hand. Alibi, the Iotian clee, watched right alongside, golden eyes sparkling. ::
Nickels: ... but then, I guess you saw the TR-116 bein' used pretty up an' friggin' close.
:: He sighed, and caught his nickel, vanishing it into his hand. He opened his palm and spread his fingers, ta-da! A simple conjure, one he could do with his eyes closed. But they weren't closed. He was watching Breeman's eyes. Because that glassiness he'd seen there was more than he'd first thought; they were eyes that had seen Nicky's failure brought to life as the Marines fired tritanium-jacketed shells through the walls of the Phoenix, breaking the Ixvapyans apart like wheat before the thresher. ::
::The sensation of fragments of skull spattering against the back of his head returned to Kevin immediately. He tried to concentrate both on the hypnotic motions of the man's coin and on his face in an attempt to distract himself from the experience, Kevin said as clinically as he could,::
Breeman: Uh, yes. My captor was killed by a transported round.
:: Nickels moved his empty left hand in a half-circle at the wrist, and his Iotian nickel appeared again in his fingers, and he ran his thumb over the profile of Bela Okmyx. ::
Nickels: Yeah. First lethal shot fired, I read. An' after that them boys opened up. ::he shook his head:: Nothin' to be done about it, o' course. They had t'make sure the goon who had the pigsticker on ya went down, an' a shock round mighta ended up shockin' you, or he coulda convulsed an' jabbed ya right in the gob.
:: He spoke casually, as casually as someone who'd been taught how to knife-fight by a loving uncle at age four can talk about having a knife to your throat. He wasn't immediately aware of Breeman's reaction. He wasn't aware because he was trying to convince himself that what had been done was necessary. There was a bitterness in the Iotian, a feeling of lost opportunity that the bloodbath on the Phoenix had sparked. ::
Breeman: That would have been unfortunate.
Alibi: Dead men tell no tales!
oO And neither will I. I can't afford to. Oo
:: Nickels rolled his eyes and nudged the avian. ::
Nickels: What've I told ya about playin' to stereotypes, featherbrain?
::They enetered the Twilight's Edge and, seeing Rogers there, Kevin said,::
Breeman: Good evening, sir.
Lt. Jg. Kevin Breeman Engineering Officer USS Independence-A
Ensign Nicholas "Nickels" Luciano Security Officer USS Independence-A
The writer of Nickels and I decided that it might be a fun idea to create a sense of irony with this story. Both of the characters feel a sense that they should not show too much emotion and so that results in a situation in which each individual thinks the other would in some way look down on him were he to talk about what he is really feeling. In the case of Breeman, he has this sense that he cannot let the emotions of trauma out for fear that he will be judged cowardly or weak, while Luciano believes taht it was a failure on his part (particularly the TR-116 design) that resulted in the deaths of many Independence crew.
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