SIM:James-Shore Leave, DS-285

From 118Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Crew of Deep Space 285

JamesTPau.jpg

Lt. Commander James
  • Mission: Shore Leave, DS-285
  • Ship: USS Discovery-C
  • Started: 238907.16
  • Ended: ???

Information

((James' Quarters, USS Discovery-C))

:: James had walked back to his quarters after the promotion, in a slight
daze. Walking into his room he was overcome with how untidy it was...
although after a few minutes of unpacking, he soon gave up the endeavor,
leaving just his posters on the wall and some of his clothes scattered
around the ground. Realizing that he was in no state to unpack, he he
turned to the computer screen above the replicator. ::

0o I really should send a message to my parents... I suppose I would have
to get permission though. 0o

JAMES: Computer, what is the procedure for requesting a long-distance call,
please?

((OCC: I suspect it would be whoever is in charge of Com, but I can't find
out who that is from the wiki. I suspect it might be a PNPC, but its not on
there! Anyway, I thought this would be a good way to both ask the question
and work on his backstory!))

Home

((James' Quarters, USS Discovery-C))

:: James had walked back to his quarters after the promotion, in a slight
daze. Walking into his room he was overcome with how untidy it was...
although after a few minutes of unpacking, he soon gave up the endeavor,
leaving just his posters on the wall and some of his clothes scattered
around the ground. Realizing that he was in no state to unpack, he he
turned to the computer screen above the replicator. ::

0o I really should send a message to my parents... I suppose I would have
to get permission though. 0o

JAMES: Computer, what is the procedure for requesting a long-distance call,
please?

COMPUTER: The current Coms officer has authority.

0o Ah, that's me... 0o

JAMES: In that case please route a call to planet my parents through the
stations public array with a low priority... scratch that medium priority.

0o That should deal with any question of taking advantage of my authority
in this case... not that there should be any, this is quite justifiable. 0o

COMPUTER: Connecting.

:: The screen in front of James flickered to attention. Before him was his
his Mother's office, back on Vulcan, the sun was streaming through the open
window, creating a slight effect on the view screen - before James
activated the compensation filter, that is. In the middle of the screen was
a gentle looking Terran - his Mother. ::

JAMES: Hello, Mother.

K. NAKUMRA: James? I didn't expect to hear from you for a while! Hows your
first commission? :: With a wide grin. :: Running the place yet?!

JAMES: Well, its certainly been eventful. As soon as I boarded the
Discovery I had to find a new host for a trill and slightly later I had to
balance the power of two ships as we removed one from the surface of a
planet!

K. NAKUMRA: Wow... That seems like quite the eventful day! So are you on
Shore leave now?

JAMES: Not officially, although I will be in about half an hour. Something
else also happened today... I got promoted.

K. NAKUMRA: Oh, James! Just you wait until your Father hears he will be so
proud!

JAMES: He's at work?

K. NAKUMRA: Yes, some kind of new discovery, he hasn't been home for a few
days now. Still, gives me some time to work in peace. It hasn't been the
same without my little helper!

:: James blushed slightly at that name ::

K. NAKUMRA: Anyway, your quarters are a mess! I didn't

JAMES: :: Cutting her off. :: Mother! This is the first chance I've had to
sit down, let alone unpack! I'm going to do that later....

K. NAKUMRA: :: Laughing slightly. :: Heh, you still can't tell when I'm
teasing you! Anyway, I'm afraid I'll have to go. Your Father usually takes
a break around now, and I have some news to tell him! Bye.

JAMES: Bye.

COMPUTER: Transmission terminated.

:: James moved away from the terminal, kicking his luggage out of the way
and unfolding his bed. When it was fully unfolded, he threw himself on it
and fell fast asleep. ::

I don't wake up easily

((James' Quarters, USS Discovery-C))

:: Darkness. All around James was darkness. And a constant whine. Then
James opened his eyes. He was lying in a strange bed... no his bead, this
is his quarters. ::

0o What's that noise... 0o

:: He lifted himself out of bed noticing that he must have woke up at some
point and put on pajamas. When he had fully untangled himself from the
beadsheets, he slipped his dressing gown on, the replica from one of his
favorite books, and also put on his slippers. ::

0o Where is it coming from... Wait! The door! 0o

:: After his revelation, he started to head for the door. While heading
there he wondered who could be calling him. Upon reaching the door he
opened it and saw two women. One he recognised as Shagan but the other was
of yet known to him. Both where wearing dresses which he was quite certain
where not regulation. He opened his mouth to ask why they where here when
it hit him... ::

JAMES: nga'chuq... we where going out drinking tonight?!

Oops

JAMES: nga'chuq... we where going out drinking tonight?!

COLLIM: Well I sure didn't dress like this to play hover ball. ::her mood
and attitude suddenly shifting, she pushed passed him to get out of the
corridor:: Sorry, for being pushy but I'm Counselor Collim, ship's
counselor... ::stopping and turning on a heel:: and as such it's my job to
make sure everyone is happy. It's my understanding you and your fellow Lt.
j.g.'s are in need of a celebration. ::looking him up and down:: I hope
you're going to wear something a little... less wrinkled.

JAMES: :: Waking up :: I apologise Miss Collim, I shall just go and get
dressed now. 0o What am I supposed to ware anyway? 0o I must have left
before hearing about tonight's plans... I should't be long... Please come
inside and :: clears thought :: 'make yourself at home'.

:: James runs back inside his room and locks the door. ::

Preparations


:: James ran back inside his room and locks the door. ::

COGUD: What happened to coming inside?

0o Damn, I forgot about that... 0o

Anyone: Response

COGUD: ::Yelling:: James, I thought you said we could come in!?

JAMES: Ah, sorry... I just woke up.

:: James opens the door, looking slightly sheepish. ::

:: James entered his bedroom, closing the door. He heads over to the
replicator terminal and sets the volume low. ::

JAMES: Computer, what am I supposed to wear on a night out?

0o Hopefully no one heard that... 0o

COMPUTER: :: Loudly :: There is incificiant data to inform you what you
should where on a night out.

0o Damn they almost certentlly heard.... I suppose I'll just go formal. 0o

JAMES: Computer, please synthesize a Vulcan formal dress... With a
Starfleet logo on the breast.

:: Grabbing the new dress James changed, he would have liked to have had
some time to shower but did not want to keep them waiting. After a few
seconds of preparation he stepped out of his room. ::

JAMES: I apologise for keeping you waiting.

ANYONE: [Tag]

JAMES: So, where are we going?

Social Skills

((James' Quarters, USS Discovery-C))

JAMES: I apologise for keeping you waiting.

ANYONE: [Tag]

JAMES: So, where are we going?

:: James noticed Shagan attempting, what appeared, to zip up Collim's
dress. ::

SHAGAN: Anyone know this base? I've never been here. :: Her voice wavered
slightly.:: Maybe we could ask the computer?

JAMES: A excellent idea. 0o My room is a mess... 0o Oh, and I apologize for
the state of my room, I've yet to unpack. 0o Not that its much better
usually! 0o

JAMES: Computer, please prepare a document containing a list of 0o What are
they called... 0o umm... Taverns, Drinking holes, Bars, Pubs...

ANYONE: [Tag]

JAMES: Yes, Clubs 0o Why didn't I think of this first... 0o or any other
licenced provider of alcohol and send it to my PADD... Specifically my
personal one. 0o Best to keep that stuff of the ships network... 0o

:: James went to a box containing a pile of paperback books with a single
PADD lying on top. :: 0o Ah, my little library arrived OK. 0o :: James
picks the PADD up and turns it on. He then brings it to the group so they
can see the results. :: 0o I have no clue what to look for... Kinda wish I
spent more time socializing when I was in the Academy... 0o

:: On his way back he whispered to Shagan. ::

JAMES: If you are having trouble re-zipping Miss Collim then I can create a
diversion.

SHAGAN: [Tag]

The wait

((Club district, DS-285))

SHAGAN: Well ::put an arm around Cogud's shoulder and grinned:: this is
going to be fun! Kieran, stop trying to pull that dress down, it's not
going to magically get longer.


COLLIM: ::keeping her voice low:: I... I hate this dress. You will have
to kill me to get me in it again.

SHAGAN: [Tag]

WESTERBRIDGE:: looks at the counselor and smiles :: Counselor, that
dress looks dashing.

::Kieran smiled at Tom.::

COLLIM: Thank you. Please, call me Kieran. ::taking a breath:: Sorry
about earlier. I'm sure it wasn't the best first impression you needed
of the ship's counselor.

0o Actually, I think I'd prefer a counsellor who exhibits emotions... 0o

WESTERBRIDGE: RESPONSE

COLLIM: Still...

COGUD: ::Cogud smiled at Tom and then he turned to the Doctor who still
had her arm around his shoulder:: Er.. Doc, is there anyone from the
Achilles here that you recognise?

SHAGAN: RESPONSE

COGUD: Well I only ask because, well I think I mentioned it to James on
the bridge.

JAMES: Hmm, care to elaborate?

COGUD: Rule 111, Treat people in debt like family... 0o Ah. 0o Exploit
them. I would say the crew of the Achilles are 'In our debt' so to
speak. So Doc could you point me out an Achilles crew member, one who
was infected would be nice, and if you come with me, I could probably
move us up a couple spots in line.

SHAGAN: [Tag]

COGUD: Or we could wait here for the rest of the evening.

:: James struggled with the morality of the situation, before concluding
that Cogud was going to do it anyway, so they might as well join him. ::

JAMES: While I can't say I agree with the ethics, it would be illogical
not to, if you are going to do it anyway. Lead on, Mr. Cogud.

SHAGAN: [Tag]

COGUD: That's what I thought, now come on Doc, Mr. James we are moving
spots. Er Tom, Counselor, do you mind if you hold this spot er.. this
might not work out.

COLLIM: Uhm... ::looking at Tom and giving a soft smile:: sure. If Tom
doesn't mind, I don't mind.

WESTERBRIDGE: RESPONSE

Clubbing

((Club district, DS-285))

SHAGAN: Well ::Telice put an arm around Cogud's shoulder and grinned::
this is going to be fun! Kieran, stop trying to pull that dress down,
it's not going to magically get longer.

COLLIM: ::keeping her voice low:: I... I hate this dress. You will have
to kill me to get me in it again.

SHAGAN: ::shrugging:: Don't worry, you can go however you want next time.

WESTERBRIDGE:: looks at the counselor and smiles :: Counselor, that
dress looks dashing.

WESTERBRIDGE: [tag]

COLLIM: Still...

:: Telice pushed back to avoid a wing swinging towards her face,
gripping Jorus' shoulder for support. A large creature with a pair of
silver wings appeared to be responsible. ::

0o Fascinating. 0o

::The queue moved forward a few steps.::

COGUD: ::Cogud smiled at Tom and then he turned to the Doctor who still
had her arm around his shoulder:: Er.. Doc, is there anyone from the
Achilles here that you recognise?

SHAGAN: ...huh?

COGUD: Well I only ask because, well I think I mentioned it to James on
the bridge.

JAMES: Hmm, care to elaborate?

COGUD: Rule 111, Treat people in debt like family... Exploit them. I
would say the crew of the Achilles are 'In our debt' so to speak. So Doc
could you point me out an Achilles crew member, one who was infected
would be nice, and if you come with me, I could probably move us up a
couple spots in line.

SHAGAN: ::catching up on the words 'Achilles', 'debt' and 'line':: Why,
Mr Cogud, are you suggesting I take advantage of my patients? ::She rose
an eyebrow.::

COGUD: Or we could wait here for the rest of the evening.

JAMES: While I can't say I agree with the ethics, it would be illogical
not to, if you are going to do it anyway. Lead on, Mr. Cogud.

SHAGAN: Third in line, black hair, blue robe with burgundy stripes. I
treated him for plague's first symptoms, I think.

COGUD: That's what I thought, now come on Doc, Mr. James we are moving
spots. Er Tom, Counselor, do you mind if you hold this spot er.. this
might not work out.

COLLIM: Uhm... ::looking at Tom and giving a soft smile:: sure. If Tom
doesn't mind, I don't mind.

WESTERBRIDGE: [tag]

SHAGAN: ::snidely:: We'll leave you two alone then. ::She winked at
Kieran.::

:: Telice, Jorus and James slid in a single file under the avian's right
silver wing and caught up with the Achilles' crew member as he waited,
second in line for the entrance. Their manoeuvre did not go unnoticed by
the Vulcan bouncers. A typical raised eyebrow directed at them signaled
their interest, delivered with uncanny synchronicity. James couldn't
help but wonder if any of his old classmates ended up in jobs like this.
After all, it would perfectly match their tastes, although there might
not be enough bullying for them... ::

::The boys rounded on the Achilles' ensign while the doctor placed
herself in front of the young man with her best grin.::

SHAGAN: Ensign Tok, was it? Doctor Shagan, I treated you on the
Achilles. I see you are much better!

ENSIGN TOK: Ma'am. ::the ensign nodded respectfully.:: Thanks to you, I
get to wait here to join my friends instead of my maker. I can't tell
you how much I--

SHAGAN: Actually, you can do better. ::She leaned in conspicuously and
lowered her voice, capturing the ensign's attention with both her tone and
her neckline.:: You see, my friends and I... We are also making the most
of this evening to have some fun, while we can! Same for everyone of
course... Maybe we could go in together!

ENSIGN TOK: I... ::hesitantly:: Yes... of course.

SHAGAN: Excellent. ::She gestured at Kieran and Tom to join them.:: By
the way, these are Lieutenant Junior Grades Cogud, James and
Westerbridge, and Ensign Collim, our counselor. ::She introduced each
member of the little ragtag band.::

ANYONE: [tag]

::Then, it was their turn to go in. Vulcan number two, standing on the
right and possessing a pair of eyebrows slightly thicker than his
colleague, stared the lieutenants down and pointed at a smooth lit up
square hovering in front of him. Telice glanced at James. James
attempted to avoid the gaze of the Vulcan, having already mentally
attributed him to people from the past. ::

VULCAN BOUNCER: Put your hand out for identification please. You may
then proceed into Athunderestic club.

ANYONE: [tag]

:: James held his hand out for identification, wondering slightly why it
was necessary. ::

VULCAN BOUNCER: Proceed. Your phaser-fish will be given to you inside,
at the front desk.

0o Phaser-fish? 0o

SHAGAN: My what?

::But already she had been shoved inside. Kieran came close second, and
they both walked up a lit up path to the front desk. The hall was shroud
in darkness but for the lights on either side of the equally dark
carpet, leading them, and the occasional burst of controlled lightening
gliding along the walls in a sudden zap of azure. Telice kept her hands
stuck to her side. A short, blue hair Orion greeted them. The contrast
with the bouncers was so startling that the girls could do nothing but
stare.::

:: James wandered over to the wall to investigate what looked like a
rather primitive, not to mention dangerous, Tesla spark gap. ::

0o Intresting. 0o

ORION HOSTESS: Come closer, please. Hold out your hand so I can attach them.

:: That line broke James out of his current fascination and into a new
one. ::

SHAGAN: They will be... detached when we leave, won't they?

ORION HOSTESS: ::Offended:: Of course! You don't think we hand them out,
do you?

COLLIM: Uhm... what are they?

::The boys caught up with them, stumbling in the darkness. A second
hostess, Vulcan, came to assist the first.::

WESTERBRIDGE/COGUD: [tag]

SHAGAN: We're getting phaser-fishes!

COLLIM: I still want to know what it is first.

JAMES: I believe I can second that.

WESTERBRIDGE/COGUD: [tag]

SHAGAN: I don't know, but it sounds cool!

:: Telice's attention snapped back to the Orion when the green alien
took hold of her wrist, while the Vulcan took care of Kieran. The
hostess other hand disappeared under the desk, and a moment later
emerged with a struggling, neon red flat fish, long as an eel and slick
as a snake, energy crackling around it angrily. Telice only had a moment
to realise what was about to happen before the Orion slapped the fish
around her wrist. The shock went through her system like cardiopulmonary
resuscitation. She jumped a foot in the air and gasped, though no sound
came out of her mouth.::

SHAGAN: Awesome.

:: James attempted to reach the doctor to give hir a thouough
examination. He might not be medical, but he doubted that thing had many
good effects. He tried to call her but she didn't look back, and slid an
arm around Kieran's waist for support, giggly. ::

0o I don't want one of those things without a thorough report on them. 0o

JAMES: :: Turning to the hostess :: Before I get one of those things I'd
like to see form number...

:: James was cut off by a Vulcan attaching the fish to his arm. Suddenly
he was filled with euphoria. ::

JAMES: Oh...

:: James watched as the others revived theirs before they all headed
into the club.The floor was hidden by a thin coat of water
sparks clinking together like ice cubs around the girls' shins. In front
of them the bar circled an artistic ice pole, imposing blocks of veined
onyx further sucking in the electric light, clubbers sitting facing the
bartender on white seats made of luminous rocks. Every dancer and
drinker has a long neon fish around his, her, or its wrist, pulsing with
different colors. On the walls left and right and above them was the
dancefloor, gravity fields allowing the club to make the most of the
available space. He was also hit by the noise and the crowds in the
place. He didn't like it. ::

0o Make it stop, please. I can bearably think! Oh, that fish seems to be
ineffective now... 0o

:: Turning to the others. ::

JAMES: So, :: with a mild grimace of discomfort. :: What do we do now.

Vulcan Brandy

((Club District, DS-285))

::Telice and Kieran moved to the dance floor leaving Tom, James and
Jorus alone::

JAMES: So, :: with a mild grimace of discomfort. :: What do we do now.

WESTERBRIDGE: I really need a drink very bad. I'm going to get some drink.

COGUD: Good thinking Tom, come on James it will be an adventure.

JAMES: :: Starting to relax... :: As long as there is excitement and
really wild things... 0o I can't believe I just referenced out loud...
these fish must really be doing something to me... 0o

::As Tom ordered himself a drink Cogud turned his focus to James::

COGUD: James I presume dancing is not your thing.

JAMES: 0o Well the music doesn’t seem to be 80's or Miku Hatsune... 0o
No, I can't say it is in this situation.

COGUD: I thought as much, come on lets get something to drink.

::Cogud and James approached the bar, each sitting at a stool, a
different bartender came to serve them, he was an Andorian who looked
like he had spent his entire life here::

ANDORIAN BARTENDER: What can I get you two gentlemen tonight?

COGUD: I'll have some... Kanar, haven't had any for a while and what
about you James?

JAMES: Umm... Earl Grey tea?

COGUD: Your not having that, give him a Vulcan Brandy.

0o Wait there is Vulcan brandy... 0o

ANDORIAN BARTENDER: Coming up.

:: James picked up his drink, investigating it. It was pale gold in
colour, its smell was similar to a cleaning product he used to use to
remove grease from his tools. James took a sip. Unfortunately the taste
was also reminiscent. ::

COGUD: ::Turning to James, you see that empty table in the corner?

JAMES: :: Peering through the crowd. :: Yes, I believe I can.

COGUD: Lets occupy it

JAMES: Ok.

:: They headed over to the table and sat at it. ::

JAMES: So, Mr. Cogud. 0o What constitutes small talk again... 0o Tell me
about yourself.

COGUD: [Tag]

Tragedy

SHAGAN: Jorus, James! ::She dropped heself into James' lap and giggled
into his ear. :: How are you? ::She shouted.:: It's a nice club
isn't it?

0o I'm not sure how to react to this... 0o

JAMES: Well, the architecture is fascinating and those sparks, while a
major health hazard a fascinating use of Tesla's work... 0o Although I
prefer making Tesla coils, not that I'm aloud to after almost burning
down my school on Vulcan... 0o

SHAGAN: Really? That's interesting. ::A beat.:: What did you say? Oh
never mind, I'm sure it's interesting.

JAMES: Are you intoxicated Miss Shagan?

::Telice grabbed the half empty drink on the table and downed it in one
go. She had been thirsty coming in, but now she was feeling as dry as a
Vulcan. Vulcan! That was appropriate. She laughed.::

JAMES: I think that confirms my hypotheses.

COGUD: [Tag]

SHAGAN: Vulcan!

JAMES: Yes?

COGUD: [Tag]

SHAGAN: Of course it's funny!

:: James spent a moment marvelling at the effect of alcohol. Somehow it
had manipulated someone who ordinarily can't go near him into well,
sitting on his lap. It was almost enough to make James go 'clubbing'
more often just to observe the effects! ::

SHAGAN: ::Pulling at the half-Vulcan's ear:: Hey James! You want to dance?

JAMES: :: Light cough. :: Dancing isn't really my thing... :: James'
face stiffens. :: 0o Wait is that Safty Dance playing... I might just
go... 0o

SHAGAN: You have to relaaax. All Vulcans need to relax, seriously! ::She
wriggled in his lap for a more comfortable position.::

JAMES: That may be so, but...

SHAGAN: Jorus! ::She called out joyously, swivelling on James' knees and
almost losing balance.:: What are you drinking?

COGUD: [tag]

SHAGAN: You want to go dancing too?

:: Telice leaned forward with a hand on the table, balanced precariously. ::

0o I think our good Doctor, is going to injurer herself before the end
of the night... 0o

:: Unexpectedly, incredibly, tears filled Telice's eyes, and she groped
the seats for a tissue, but the black rock remained desperately devoid
of little white squares. Besides, they were moving away from her. Or
were they? They were! They knocked all of the dancers out of the way,
spiralled around them and herded them out cracks into the wall. In
seconds, the room was empty. But it couldn't be right, could it? The
noise was still there, she could hear it! Telice felt nauseous. She
clung to James' neck. ::

((OCC: I've decided to include this in James' viewpoint as he his touch
telepathic and I think this could be vague and strong enough to leak
into him. ))

SHAGAN: I'm Alice in No Man's Land!

JAMES: :: James was suddenly reminded of one of his favourite pieces of
literature. :: 0o Has it really been so long since I last read that...
0o :: Slightly concerned :: Are you OK, Miss Shagan. :: To Cogud. ::
Does Alcohol usually have this effect?

COGUD: [tag]

SHAGAN: Alice! Alice in-- Never mind! I'm fine! :: She cried as a fresh
wave of tears streamed down her face. Through the blurr, she could see
the crowd of dancers. ::

JAMES: She is quite distraught, even I can feel that... Maybe we should
go find the counsellor...

COGUD: [tag]

Awkward conversation

((Club District, DS-285))

JAMES: So, Mr. Cogud. Tell me about yourself.

COGUD: Whats to tell, I was born on a Ferengi Smuggling Vessel and lived
there for the first year of my life, left for a few years and then had
to go back to the Vessel, I was brought up as a Ferengi::

JAMES: Ah, that explains your knowledge of the rules of acquisition.

COGUD: Oh that thing with the line, that was not my Ferengi attitude
speaking, that was what my uncle taught me, people are there for you to
bend to your will, morality and ethics can be dealt with at a later point.

JAMES: Well, that’s a interesting way of looking at things...

COGUD: James, I must of made a bad impression on you and I apologise,
anyway that is enough about the glamorous life of Jorus Cogud, how about
you?

JAMES: Not at all, well I was born in Shi'Kahr on Vulcan and have lived
there all my life... My Father is half-Vulcan, while my mother is
Terran, but I was brought up as a Vulcan... At some point, we will have
to talk more about Frengi culture. Its one of the few that we don't have
a over-abundance of data on and it would be fascinating to learn more...

((OOC: Will Backsim  ))

::After a conversation with James over a drink in the corner. Cogud
looked up to see a the Doctor making her way towards them::

SHAGAN: Jorus, James! ::She dropped heself into James' lap and giggled
into his ear. :: How are you? ::She shouted.:: It's a nice club
isn't it?

JAMES: Well, the architecture is fascinating and those sparks, while a
major health hazard a fascinating use of Tesla's work...

SHAGAN: Really? That's interesting. ::A beat.:: What did you say? Oh
never mind, I'm sure it's interesting.

JAMES: Are you intoxicated Miss Shagan?

::Telice grabbed the half empty drink on the table and downed it in one
go. She had been thirsty coming in, but now she was feeling as dry as a
Vulcan. Vulcan! That was appropriate. She laughed.::

JAMES: I think that confirms my hypotheses.

COGUD: I still don't get it.

SHAGAN: Vulcan!

JAMES: Yes?

COGUD: It's not funny Doc ::Cogud smiled at the Doctor in her current
state::

SHAGAN: Of course it's funny!

SHAGAN: ::Pulling at the half-Vulcan's ear:: Hey James! You want to dance?

JAMES: :: Light cough. :: Dancing isn't really my thing... :: James'
face stiffens. ::

SHAGAN: You have to relaaax. All Vulcans need to relax, seriously! ::She
wriggled in his lap for a more comfortable position.::

JAMES: That may be so, but...

SHAGAN: Jorus! ::She called out joyously, swivelling on James' knees and
almost losing balance.:: What are you drinking?

COGUD: Cardassian Kanar.

SHAGAN: You want to go dancing too?

:: Telice leaned forward with a hand on the table, balanced precariously. ::

:: Unexpectedly, incredibly, tears filled Telice's eyes, and she groped
the seats for a tissue, but the black rock remained desperately devoid
of little white squares. Besides, they were moving away from her. Or
were they? They were! They knocked all of the dancers out of the way,
spiralled around them and herded them out cracks into the wall. In
seconds, the room was empty. But it couldn't be right, could it? The
noise was still there, she could hear it! Telice felt nauseous. She
clung to James' neck. ::

SHAGAN: I'm Alice in No Man's Land!

JAMES: :: James was suddenly reminded of one of his favourite pieces of
literature, slightly concerned :: Are you OK, Miss Shagan. :: To Cogud. ::
Does Alcohol usually have this effect?

COGUD: James, you really have never been drinking have you. Who is
Alice? And what is No Mans Land?

SHAGAN: Alice! Alice in-- Never mind! I'm fine! :: She cried as a fresh
wave of tears streamed down her face. Through the blurr, she could see
the crowd of dancers. ::

JAMES: She is quite distraught, even I can feel that... Maybe we should
go find the counsellor...

COGUD: James, the counselor will be in a similar state, I assure you it
is what alcohol does to you. ::Pausing:: James, can you do me a favour?

JAMES: Yes?

COGUD: Make sure I don't drink to much...

JAMES: I shall, if you wish... I can certainly see why you would desire
it...

COGUD: Don't let me...

::Cogud was looking around at the time of the sentence and saw two large
Orion males entering the club.::

SHAGAN: Are they your friends? We should call them over. ::She slurred.::

COGUD: What?

SHAGAN: Friends! You friends, I can go and get them. ::Her vision
swam.:: In a minute.

COGUD: Oh, er no thanks I will lay low here I think.

:: Cogud looked up again at the Orions. They were moving closer. ::

COGUD: Excuse me.

::Cogud left in direction of the men's restroom. The doctor stared after
him. He didn't want to see his friends. That didn't make sense. Maybe he
wasn't the social type. Or maybe he had an itch. Or maybe he just wanted to
pee.::

SHAGAN: ::standing up on shaky legs:: James! Jaaaaames you are a nice
Vulcan you know that? And I never say that. To any Vulcan.

0o Wow, she must be really drunk! 0o

JAMES: Erm, thanks...

SHAGAN: ::bored:: Come on! ::She tugged at his sleeve ineffectively.::
We should go and-- and find out if Jorus is ok!

JAMES: :: Sigh :: Because a man and a women entering the male toilets,
is not going to look suspicious?

SHAGAN: So pretend that's not what we're doing! Pretend we're on a date,
and no one will notice I'm here! You know Terrans always do it in the--

JAMES: What! If I'm insinuating correctly, why would they do that in
there... I can name at least :: pauses to calculate. :: 276 diffrent
reasons why that is a bad idea.

SHAGAN: Gee, sorry, didn't know you kept in your--

JAMES: Can we please drop the subject...

SHAGAN: Fine! Damn it.

:: They reached the bathroom door and Telice shoved it open.
Fortunately, it was empty but for Jorus. It would have been quite a
scene if there had... ::

SHAGAN: Hi! Why are you avoiding your friends?

COGUD: [tag]

SHAGAN: Really? ::The door slammed open and the two Orions waltzed like
a couple of crazy bears with a scent. Telice waved at them again.:: Oh
hi! I'm-- ::One of the males shoved her to the side and into James
roughly.:: Take it easy!

JAMES: Please refrain from making further contact with us. Curtsey is
only logical.

:: James prepared himself to fight if necessary. He figured that a
Orion's natural aggression combined with copious alcohol, would not be a
very pleasant combination. ::

JAMES: Mr. Cogud, do you know these people as Miss Shagan suspects? If
so are they causing you any kind of emotional turmoil.

0o I don't really need a response for that one, it is obvious that he is
distraught... 0o

COGUD: [tag]

Never fight a engineer in a place filled with electricity.

:: James dropped the lose pose he had assumed. ::

0o Just thought of a better way! 0o

SHAGAN: Stop! ::Telice shouted. Then at the Orions:: This is madness!

::She grabbed the nearest Orion's right arm and dug her heels in the hold
him back. He shook his arm furiously but she gripped it desperately. Under
him, someone made the most of it to escape. Exasperated, the Orion wrapped
his meaty hand around Telice's throat and threw her like a rag doll against
the bar.::

::Her head hit the onyx rock hard, and she only managed a gasp before
darkness claimed her, her body rolling limply under the stools. James saw
all of this and calculated that she was unlikely to be perminatlly harmed
and that he could probably do more good by carrying on. ::

WALTAS/WESTERBRIDGE/COLLIM/COGUD: [tag]

:: Moving to the wall he smashes the glass covering the spark gap and pulls
out a few wires. 0o Great, this should do it! 0o Using the electricity of a
nearby spark gap as a soldering iron, and some wire as solder he connected
the wires to the clubs power supply, the high-voltage one powering the
walls. In his hands he now held a weapon with at least 5,000 Volts. ::

JAMES: Please step away from my captain and co-workers. I estimate that
this :: gesturing to the wires in his hand :: would not kill you, but would
be very painful and would result in a few hours of unconcisness and
possibly loss of muscle control. :: To emphasise his point James brings the
two wires together, creating a very nice arc between them. ::

The end of my first night out...

((Athunderistic, Club Scene, DS-285))

WALTAS: Well don't jusht shstand there!

:: Tom took combating stance.   Immediately Tom ran to confront the
nearest orion KRULL, the one with mohawek.  Using his Starfleet security
training, Tom began to fight KRULL.   Tom used hand-to-hand combat
skills to fight KRULL.  Tom punched and kicked the Orion, while Tom
defended himself from the Orion's counter-moves.  Tom kept the Orion
really busy.  Still the Orion was a tough customer.  Tom incurred some
injuries to his body.  Using his improvised contraption,  ensign James
came to the rescue to subdue the Orion. ::

WESTERBRIDGE:  Thanks, ensign James.  That's an interesting thing. that
you devised to use as a weapon.

JAMES: Thank you, I thought it would be prudent to have a weapon which
could cause some harm.

:: Soon an armed security force entered the club to contain the brawl.
The armed security officers secured the situation ::

0o They took their time... 0o

WALTAS::Pointing to the unconscious Orions:: They attacked us. I need to
take my people to medical on board Discovery.

WALTAS::Tapping his comm badge:: =/\= Waltas to Discovery. Incoming
injured =/\=

WARREN: =/\= This is nurse Warren. Can you describe the nature on the
injuries? There is no medical officer on shift. Doctor Morning Song is--
=/\=

WALTAS::Looking at each of them:: I'll expect you all to be checked out
in sickbay. =/\= Energize. =/\=

:: Tom nodded. Tom watched the captain beamed first away, and then soon
he beamed away from the club ::

(( Sickbay, Discovery-C ))

:: Tom materialized in the sickbay along with the rest of the officers
who visited the club ::

WARREN: ::eyes widening:: Doctor Shagan! Can someone please put her on a
bed?

COGUD: Yes nurse. ::Cogud grabbed the doctor lifting her onto the
closest bio-bed::

WARREN: Great. Everyone please sit down and I'll be right with you.

:: Tom walked to the closest biobed, and he waited until he was being
treated. As he waited,  Tom saw the captain walking over to Kieran, and
then he glanced at the both again.  Tom was wondering what they were
discussing.  Tom saw the captain walking toward him ::

WALTAS: Lieutenant, a word please.

WESTERBRIDGE:  Yes, sir.  I want to discuss something with you, sir.

WALTAS: I'm still drunk but it doesn't take a detective to figure out
you're not happy with me.

WESTERBRIDGE:  You must be very charming man to the women, sir.

WALTAS::Smiling:: It's the hair. Chicks love the hair.

:: Tom was drunk, and his emotions carried over from the fight with the
Orions, that he blabbed out something on his mind without thinking::

WESTERBRIDGE:  I don't think it's appropriate for the captain to seduce
an officer under his command, sir.

WALTAS::Mock offense:: Why Lieutenant, how dare you think I would take
advantage of a.. ::His eyes moved to Collim who was stretching,
revealing an alarming amount of leg and thigh:: and the security report.

:: Tom saw the captain looking at Kieran again, and then the captain
turned his bead back to Tom::

oO Did I just accuse the captain of impropriety.  I shouldn't have
accused him.. Very dumb Oo

WALTAS: What was I saying?

WESTERBRIDGE:  I'm sorry, sir.  I didn't mean to accuse you of
impropriety, sir.

WALTAS: Right. Gentleman. Sure. Good night, Lieutenant.

WESTERBRIDGE:  This night has been very strange for me.  Good night, sir.

:: Tom saw the captain walking over to Kieran, and he took her elbow and
walked out of the sickbay. ::

0o Well, that looked heated... 0o

:: James was uninjured which the nurse quickly agreed with. He stepped
out of the sickbay and made his way to his quarters. ::

JP-JAMES/SHAGAN: What happened on stardate 237602.19

(OOC: Interesting fact, James and I have been working on this JP since day
one for us on the ship, but there was never a right time to post it. So we
kept hoping and editing... Here it is now!)

((Medical bay, USS Discovery-C))

::Telice rubbed her eyes tiredly. She stretched and heard a few pops in her
back. After a night on a biobed it was hardly surprising. Putting her chin
in her hand, she closed her eyes for a moment. Her office door lay ajar
after Valdivia’s departure, noises filtering in from the few nurses on
shift in sickbay. The sound of laughter threatened to bring back her
migraine, but other than the nurses and an injured engineer the infirmary
was blessedly empty. She could go and have lunch now. The Chief Science
Officer had been her last physical for the day, thankfully.::

::His file was still on her desk, medical report yet unsigned. Telice
grabbed her PADD and added her signature to it, then turned off the
screen.::

::The doctor still felt lousy after previous day’s events. She decided
against a direct visit to the mess hall and took a quick detour to her
quarters for a shower. Another one. Thank god for the upcoming shore leave.
She had never needed rest so badly, even though she was supposed to be off
duty. She got dressed in a clean uniform and smoothed over the embroidered
medical logo on chest. She liked the feel of it under her fingertips. She
liked it even better now she was Lieutenant Junior Grade.::

::The morning’s encounter with Captain Waltas had been supremely
uncomfortable. His attitude had greatly surprised her. She hadn’t taken him
for a coward.::

::She still couldn’t believe her promotion. It had happened so fast. To her
knowledge it could take up to a year before the commanding officer even
noticed all of the juniors, let alone personally hand out the promotion.
But then she had been busy, between the plague and the Trill symbiont’s
rescue. She felt reasonably confident that their little escapade to the
club wouldn’t be kept on record, seeing as to how the captain had joined
the fun, to call it that. No one had to know.::

::But there wouldn’t but another promotion any time soon. Telice gave a sad
glance to her room.::

::Her personal quarters were a mess. Folded clothes peeked out of her open
bag and a pile of dirty uniform and underwear sat at the end of her bed.
The picture of her graduation day sat proudly at the end of her small desk.
She always made sure to carry it with her wherever she went, on the top of
her clothes so it was the first thing out of her bag. This time it had
found a more permanent position, and she felt good about that.::

::Already she felt like a veteran already.She chuckled at the thought.
Everything was still muddled in her mind. McCall’s departure, the
promotions... that weird fish creature! It was a lot to take in..::

::Telice's stomach grumbled loudly.::

SHAGAN: oO Right, lunch. Oo

::She grabbed her PADD and put on her standard issue boots. Unbidden, the
thought of her fellow crewmembers crossed her mind. It was so unlikely that
they should find themselves in the same room today, or later, but it was a
possibility. Telice dearly hoped she wouldn’t have to hide behind any
corners to avoid embarrassment.::

::She exited her quarters and took the nearest turbolift to the ship’s
exit.::


((Ensign James personal quarters, USS Discovery-C))

:: The sound of Pink Floyds’ Shine On You Crazy Diamond echoed through
James’ chaotic quarters. A unusual choice for a Vulcan, perhaps but still
one of James’ favorites. By the time James had finally finished last night,
he was too tired to unpack properly, yet he still tried with disastrous
results., hence the rooms chaos.::

I remember when you were young. You shone like the sun.

:: James stepped outside of the shower and immediately started to root
around the detritus for something to wear. ::

Well you wore out your welcome with random precision, blown on the steel
wind.

0o I can’t believe I bypassed command like that... still if it helped save
the life of that symbiont.. That symbiont is many and I am one... It is
only logical that I placed its life above my career...  Not to mention the
whole 'Sabotage' thing... Still I can't beat myself up about that.... But
maybe the programmer who committed the update can be... Not to mention my
promotion! 0o

Come on you boy child, you winner and loser, come on you miner for truth
and delusion, and shine!

0o Then in the same day fought off some Orions with a improvised energy
weapon... Not that it had much effect... Still, I’m bringing a phaser next
time I leave the ship... 0o

:: James’s realised that he was suddenly quite hungry. Unusually for him,
he also wanted company, to not be alone with his thoughts. Having realised
this instead of just using the replicator, he headed for the Mess hall. ::

JAMES: Computer, stop music.


((Mess hall, USS Discover-C))

::The mess hall had been a bad, bad idea. Everyone was staring. The doctor
was at loss. Then of course she realised. Curse Warren, Telice was going to
kill her. She couldn’t imagine any of the officers present the previous
evening spilling the beans, so any detail had had to come from the nurse.::

::Telice did her best to ignore the stares and took a tray.::

::The replicators held a variety of dishes from a number of planets, all
member of the Federation. Telice realised it may look unfair that most were
Terran, but she was certainly glad for it. After all a good percentage of
the fleet was human. On the spur of the moment, she ordered a plate of
Romulan jumbo mollusks. It could never taste as good as the real thing, but
she could pretend.::

::And no alcohol. God, no alcohol. Not in a million years.::

::She turned around and narrowly avoided collision with an officer who was
reaching for the replicator next to hers.::

SHAGAN: oO You have got to be kidding me. Oo James?

JAMES: Ah, Mrs Shagan. How... nice to see you. Good Afternoon.

SHAGAN: Good morning. ::looking around:: We do seem to make a habit of
running into each other. I guess I’ll just... oO Go away go away
goawaygoaway.... Oo

::Telice couldn’t remember much after entering the club last night. Her
memories were blurry, but a few moments remained crystal clear. She
remembered sitting in the Vulcan’s lap, clinging to his neck like a
groupie. Had she come onto him? On a Vulcan of all people. Just the thought
made her cringe.::

::She walked to a table, put her tray down and raised her gaze. James had
followed her, and although his face was as expressionless as that of any
Vulcan, she got the strange feeling that he didn't know how to start this
conversation either. Good god, wasn’t he the least bit embarrassed by the
previous night that he would walk after her like that?::

::Had they actually... done anything? At loss, she felt her face burn with
shame and twisted the napkin on her tray. She couldn’t bring herself to
ask, and she doubted the Vulcan would welcome such a question in a public
place anyway.::

SHAGAN: ...yes?

JAMES: Do you mind if I sit with you?

SHAGAN: ::defeated:: Sure, have a seat. ::she sat as well.::
Congratulations on the promotion, by the way. I don’t think I ever got a
chance to say.

JAMES: Thank you. Congratulations to you too.

SHAGAN: Thanks. ::She started to eat, gaze cast down to her food. But
eventually she couldn’t take it.:: So, last night... Did you and I...? Did
we...?

JAMES: Have a fun and uneventful evening? Yes, we did Doctor. Don’t worry,
nothing untoward happened.

SHAGAN: ::profoundly relieved:: Oh, good. Better than that. Perfect.

JAMES: o0 I curse my eidetic memory. 0o

::Her eyes remained hopelessly stuck to her tray lest he saw the
awkwardness on her face. He was just like any other crewmember, and she was
being stupid. They hadn’t done anything. She hadn’t done anything with a
Vulcan, she was alright. When she looked up, James was observing her with
unfathomable eyes. Vulcans, she found, all had the same bottomless dark
gaze, one she was acquainted with from an early age.::


((Flashback, Starfleet shipyard, San Francisco, stardate 237602.19))

::Telice was so excited. She was jumping all over the place with
excitement. Excitement was her. Finally, FINALLY she got to with her dad to
the shipyard, and go inside of the huge ships. It was going so much fun!
And best of all, she would get to sit in the captain's chair, as if she was
the captain!::

::Red cheeked and febrile, she ran ahead of her father to the gate and
straight into the security officer's arms who caught her easily. Aniam
Sellick was a familiar face to the Shagan family.::

::The large blue gates and entrance yard were buzzing with activity like a
newly installed hive, Starfleet officers coming in and out, mostly
engineers carrying tools and folders. A few cars were patrolling the yard,
each proudly displaying the Starfleet sign.::

SELLICK: You're getting so heavy kid, soon you might get past me!

T.SHAGAN: ::giggling:: You are a lying liar.

SELLICK: Is that so?

J.SHAGAN: It is so ::Telice's father Jethro reached out and shook Sellick's
hand with a smile:: Still coming for lunch tomorrow?

SELLICK: Sure thing, Jethro. Tell the lady I said hi.

J.SHAGAN: Will do. Come on, kiddo. Let's go.

::The security officer made to hand her to her father, but she wriggled
free as soon as he loosened his hold and started again towards the
shipyard, her command yellow sweater flashing brightly among the red shirts
walking around the entrance yard, the back tagged with a badly drawn
Starfleet logo.::

SELLICK: Still a handful I see.

::Jethro laughed and nodded goodbye to his friend before following his
daughter. Meanwhile, Telice had reached the ship access checkpoint, and was
loudly berating an amused engineer for not letting her through.::

J.SHAGAN: Don't worry Lieutenant, the bark is worse than the bite. ::The
officer shook his head and returned to his duties while Telice's father
grabbed her hand.:: Stay with me now, I don't want you to get lost.

T.SHAGAN: I won't! I know aaaall the blueprints you left on your desk by
heart.

J.SHAGAN: ::sharply:: I told you not to go into my study.

T.SHAGAN: You also said not to tell mum about that time we had ice cream
before dinner.

J.SHAGAN: ::biting back a laugh:: Oh I see, we are negotiating now. Fine,
how many decks does this ship have?

::They were inside now, and walked into the first turbolift. Telice raised
on the tip of her toes to press the button. She could only reach the bottom
one, but since it was their destination, it didn't really matter.::

::While she pondered the answer, Jethro took his combadge out.::

J.SHAGAN: =/\=Lieutenant Commander Shagan to the bridge. Coming in with...
the package.=/\=

::His call was acknowledged by an amused ensign.::

T.SHAGAN: ::frowning in concentration:: 24! Because... because... ::she
frowned some more:: Because it's a sovereign class ship!

J.SHAGAN: Well done. Maybe we won't tell your mother about that ice cream.

::The turbolift's door swished open, and a young ensign in science blue
uniform stepped up to greet them.::

LOP: Ensign Lop, I'm with science, Sir.

J.SHAGAN: At ease, ensign. We'll be out of your hair in a moment.

LOP: ::grinning down at Telice:: It's not trouble Sir.

::Telice bounced down the bridge's steps, and hurled herself at the
captain's chair. She climbed it, determinate, and sat facing the screen,
back straight, eyes intense on the skeleton crew working the controls.::

T.SHAGAN: ::screaming joyously:: All hands on deck!

::All present jumped a few inches off the ground, badly startled. After a
moment of silence, a chorus of laughter ran around the bridge. Telice
smirked at her father, all cheek.::

J.SHAGAN: ::Gesturing at her to come down. :: That's quite enough, young
lady. We-

::He was interrupted by the arrival of the future's ship first officer,
Garry Rolland, a Trill he barely knew but had heard great things about,
followed by two desk lackeys and a tall Vulcan in a traditional garb. An
ambassador then.::

J. SHAGAN: Commander. ::A nodd.::

ROLLAND: Ah, Mr Shagan. Just the man I need.

::Telice blinked at the Vulcan curiously while he father talked about
boring Starfleet papers. She knew what Vulcan looked like in theory, but
she had never seen one before. She slid off the command chair and sneaked
closer to the tall alien.::

::Just as she had reached his back, he turned around abruptly and looked
down at her. Thankfully, her father was too engaged in the conversation to
have noticed.::

T.SHAGAN: You're Vulcan aren't you!

T'ROK: That is correct. I am ambassador T'Rok.

T.SHAGAN: Really? That's a weird name. ::The Vulcan stared at her.:: I'm
Telice!

T'ROK: It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Telice of Earth.

T.SHAGAN: No, I'm just called Telice.

T'ROK: Indeed, I was merely conveying my respect by using the proper form
of address.

::Now her father was turning around, having noticed that she had left the
chair. Telice thought quickly to say something interesting to this alien.
Maybe it wasn't first contact, but it was her first contact! She had to
make it memorable.::

::An image of her brother poped in her mind. What did he always say about
Vulcans?::

T.SHAGAN: ::looking straight at the ambassador:: Wow, I don't know what you
just said, but you sure have a stick up your ass!

::Shocked silence followed her words, the crew frozen in place. Even the
comm unit stopped buzzing. After an agonizing minute, the ambassador walked
swiftly back inside the turbolift.::

T'ROK: Commander Rolland, I believe I must return to my quarters
immediately.

ROLLAND: Ambassador, you haven't seen the ship yet. I assure you this-

T'ROK: ::coldly:: Immediately, Commander.

J.SHAGAN: ::rushed:: Ambassador, please accept my apologies, Telice is very
young-

T'ROK: That is no excuse. A Vulcan child would never utter such
inappropriate word at any age. Your daughter is a poor but common example
of Terran misconduct.

J.SHAGAN: Now wait  just a minute here!

ROLLAND: Stand down Lieutenant! ::he snapped:: We'll talk about this when I
come back. Wait for me outside the ship.

::Only when the Commander and the Ambassador had left did the crew start
working again, an uneasy silence following the incident. Telice winced as
her father grabbed her hand and all but dragged her to the turbolift.::

T.SHAGAN: ::quietly:: But you always laugh when John says it.

J.SHAGAN: When we're at home Telice! That's different! Besides, I don't
want you saying that kind of thing, to anyone, Terran or other! Is that
understood?

::Telice sniffed.::

J. SHAGAN: ::severely:: Is it?

T.SHAGAN: Yes!

J.SHAGAN: Don't give me attitude now, or this is the only time you'll get
to visit the shipyard.

::They rushed out of the ship. Telice had to run to keep up, and she
stumbled as they reached the ground. Her father released her hand and
immediately started apologizing to Commander Rolland. The ambassador was
nowhere to be seen.::

::Looking around the yard dejectedly, Telice's gaze was arrested by a pair
of dark, deep brown eyes in the center of a stoic, if slightly curious
face. A young boy was observing carefully from a distance, as if assessing
her. Telice started to smile, but then she noticed.::

::His ears were pointy. He was Vulcan.::

::She turned her back to him, facing her the two officers arguing about
proper conduct and and favors and bringing children aboard a ship.::

::Telice decided there and then that never, ever ever would she would
befriend a Vulcan.::


((Present time, Mess hall, USS Discovery-C))

:: James lifted up his cup to take a drink, Tea, Earl Grey, Hot of course.
Although he wasn’t sure why you had to specify the hot... Surely the
replicator could work out that you wanted your tea hot! I mean, how else
does one drink tea. ::

::Telice observed him in silence for a moment. He sipped at his tea calmly,
watching her with an air of quiet expectation. A completely non judgmental
gaze. It was so far beyond what she was used to that she was at loss for
words, especially after her behavior at the club. The silence stretch for a
second longer than politeness would allow.::

SHAGAN : ::suddenly :: You're not fully Vulcan, are you ? oO Oh wow, way to
be rude here. Oo

JAMES : oO I suppose she needs to know... After all she is a doctor. Oo No,
I'm only 1/4th Vulcan.

SHAGAN : Ah.

JAMES : Perhaps, this information will lower your hostility to me? ::He
raised an eyebrow ::

SHAGAN : No, I-::she paused again. :: I'm sure once I get to know you-::she
let out a frustrated groan. :: Look, it's complicated. I'm sure you're a
nice guy- Vulcan ! A nice Vulcan, but I don't do Vulcans. oO Especially not
after last night. Oo

::He gave her a blank look. ::

SHAGAN : ::rolling her eyes :: I don't have Vulcan friends. Or
acquaintances. ::Telice stabbed her jumbo mollusks viciously. Juice landed
all over the table. She muttered quietly. :: Not since that ambassador,
anyway.

JAMES : oO Shagan... She isn't 'that' Shagan... is she? Oo Is this anything
to do with that 'incident' that happened back in 2373, in February I
believe?

::Speechless, Telice stared at the Vulcan in front of her, fork halfway to
her mouth. She put it back down slowly. ::

SHAGAN : How could you possibly know about that ? That report was
classified!

JAMES : I was nearby at the time, visiting my maternal Grandmother.

::Telice mulled over that statement in silence. The surrounding noise of
conversation washed over her like a breeze. He must be lying, there hadn't
been anyone else but Starfleet personnel at the yard that day. Or maybe
someone on Vulcan had told him about. It was possible that the ambassador
had told his people. In fact, it was certain. ::

::Suddenly, it hit her like a freight train. ::

SHAGAN: The Vulcan kid. That was you.

JAMES: Please do not judge my species on that one Ambassador. To use a 21st
century phrase, which appears to be useful here, he was a complete and
utter dick. :: Takes a bite of his Hasperat :: He was removed from his post
a few months later, you know.

::That sentence in a Vulcan mouth startled a laugh out of her. ::

SHAGAN : Because of me?

JAMES : I think so, I'm not entirely sure... It was mostly suppressed.
There was some... *interesting* rumours though...

SHAGAN : Wow, I actually feel bad for the guy. I was ten after all.

JAMES : He completely lost his logical detachment. His comments were very
much based on emotion, not logic. While that isn't entirely a bad thing, in
some circumstances, this time it was not. He behaved more like a Romulan
than a Vulcan. Anyway, Vulcan children used to bully me with far worse
insults than suggesting I have a 'stick up my ass'.

SHAGAN: ::Telice tilted her head and considered him thoughtfully. Still, it
was not an insult a Vulcan would voice lightly.:: So you don't approve of
that ?

JAMES : The misuse of emotion? Definitely. I was taught that, as the
universe is not always logical, neither can we be. But, getting angry at
the comments of a young child, shows not only poor emotional control but a
very unbalanced personality. To anger from the words of a child, said
without intent... it was highly illogical.

::Telice's gaze wandered to the blue walls of the mess hall as her mind
relieved once more the events of that day. She then thought of the Vulcans
she had met at the Academy, and during training. Had she really been that
prejudiced ? Had she actually been xenophobic, in a way? Ironic, for a
future xenobiologist.::

SHAGAN : I...::it was difficult to get the words out. Her father furious
face came forward then disappeared again. :: You're not all the same.
You're just a bit... ::she smiled tentatively :: stuck up.

JAMES: Well, I can admit that we can be, indeed. :: James flashed a brief
smile, before returning to normal. :: If all you've had contact with is
*him* though, I can see how you could be prejudiced.... and perhaps with
reason.

SHAGAN: Thanks. ::dryly:: You’re really not what I imagined. I think...
::she grinned:: I think you and I could be friends, someday.

JAMES: Yes I think we could.

SHAGAN: ::she scooped the remaining Romulan delicacies on her plate with
her fork and shoved them into her mouth.:: Do you have plans for shore
leave? Plans that don’t involve... alcohol?

JAMES: At the moment, no. I trust that you never want to see alcohol again?

SHAGAN: I’m not sure... Depends on how much time we have.::She smiled.::
How long have we been on base already? We might not have time for shore
leave in the end.

JAMES: True... Although, I would expect us to have a little bit longer...
:: Eyes lighting up. :: Anyway, I don’t think the Captain is in a fit state
to leave yet!

SHAGAN: ::Telice debated whether or not she would tell him about her
encounter with the captain this morning, then decided against it.:: … do
you think he is hiding in his quarters?

JAMES: Either that or sleeping it off. He was quite intoxicated last night,
did you see how he acted towards the Councillor?

SHAGAN: Well, I guess it’s none of our business anyway.

JAMES: Yes, I quite agree. In the meantime, what are your thoughts on the
Terran Sherlock Holmes series? I've heard that this ship has a excellent
copy of some holodeck programs designed on the Enterprise, and holodeck
programs are always more... fun, with another precipitant.

SHAGAN: ::The non-sequitur brought her up short, but she soon shook her
head.:: Why not.

::If only because the whispers around them were driving her crazy.::

Back on the bridge

((Bridge, USS Discovery-C))

:: James walked through the turbolift doors and onto the bridge. Thought his
journey, he had noticed people starring at him... it was most disconcerting. He
swore he heard the phrase "orgy" at least once... ::

0o I must be mistaken... 0o

:: He walked up to his station and brought up the interface. Everything seemed
like it was within normal parameters... Some where even slightly elevated. ::

0o Mmm, the refit crew did a good job... 0o

:: Jorus turned to face him. ::

COGUD: Morning James

JAMES: Ah, good morning... Recovered from our night out? :: He wasn't sure
about
that... James had previously thought that much alcohol was deadly for terrans.
::

COGUD: [Tag]

JAMES: :: Thinking it over... :: Yes, that sounds enjoyable. We shall have to
find a time when we are both free... That reminds me. Have you had any ::
lowers
voice :: strange looks from some of the crewmen. On my way up here it was
most... disconcerting.

((OCC: If anyone on bridge wants to join in this, you are more than welcome!
Everyone else seems to be finding out, so we should!))

Meditation

(OOC: This takes place a few hours after departure.)

((James’ quarters, USS Discovery-C))

:: James walked away pleased from his encounter with Telice, one less person
who
dislikes him is always a good result. Invigorated by his conversation he headed
back to his quarters and started to (finally!) unpack. Just when James had
finally put his last poster up, and went to bed a loud sound roused him from
his
tentative sleep. ::

BLUEHEART: =/\= Commander Blueheart to Lieutenant James =/\=

JAMES: =/\= James here. =/\=

BLUEHEART: =/\= I can’t sleep. =/\=

JAMES: :: Wondering why he contacted him, instead of a physician... :: =/\= Is
there anything particular that happened today, that could be keeping you awake?
Sir. =/\=

BLUEHEART: =/\= Many, many things happened today. =/\= oO Multiple power
lunches
and power dinners at The Roost, a secret blown, a counseling session turned
topsy turvy, departure from the base to Sigma Iotia II, … Aaarghhh!! My head is
spinning! Oo =/\= I can’t seem to relax. Not even with a sedative. I’m too
high
strung. Can you help me with something? Like meditation perhaps? If you’re not
too tired of course. =/\=

0o Well... I guess I’m not that tired... 0o

JAMES: =/\= Of course, Sir do you want to come over here, or should I go to
your
quarters? =/\

0o And more importantly, where did I put my meditation stuff... 0o

BLUEHEART: oO Too much goings on in my quarters! The Dachlyd babies scaling the
drapes. Em strutting about half naked. No way. Oo =/\= I’ll come over. Thanks,
James. Blueheart out. =/\=

::Blueheart slipped on a Starfleet beanie in addition to his casual clothes and
headed out to Lt JG James’ quarters.::


((Three minutes later))

((Lt JG James’ Personal Quarters, USS Discovery-C))

::After precisely half a chime, the door hissed open.::

BLUEHEART: ::nodding:: Lieutenant.

JAMES: Sir, please make yourself comfortable.

BLUEHEART: Thank you. ::He stepped inside the officer’s abode and instinctively
looked around.:: But you haven’t unpacked.

JAMES: I haven’t had much time.... I did the majority of it today... Still, I
think I will probably not completely finish for a while....

BLUEHEART: Yes. The last mission drained everyone of precious time amongst
other
things. Nevermind. We are officially on shore leave, so that should give you
sufficient time to unpack and place a piece of artsy pottery or two in some
corner. oO Em would love to suggest decorative pottery pieces. Oo

JAMES: :: looking around the room and noticing the sparsity of the decoration.
:: Oh, yes.

BLUEHEART: ::looking around again:: May I sit on this.. crate? My back is
killing me.

JAMES: Of course, I would offer a chair but... Last time I tried replicating
one... It didn’t go down well. I may need enginering to look at it. It *can*
however handle liquids with some competency. Would you like some kind of
beverage. Tea, coffee?

BLUEHEART: Oh, none for me, thank you.

JAMES: Sir, you mentioned that you were interested in Vulcan meditation, but
you
didn’t specify what kind. Do you want me to go through some of them, then if
you
want to try some I should have the right equipment.

BLUEHEART: ::sitting cross-legged atop the crate, attentive::Yes, please do.

JAMES: Ok, There are three that I know of, however the third Wh’Itri is the
oldest and most difficult technique. I am not too knowledgeable on this one
however it involves a Vulcan meditation lamp.

BLUEHEART: ::nodding:: And the other kinds?

JAMES: The first is known as Kithira which translates approximately to
structure
of harmony. Kithira aims to restore control and order in a mind full of chaos.
It is one of the earliest techniques taught, due to its simplicity. It requires
the use of different shaped blocks, which you use to build a structure while
meditating. While meditating you should hold the structure you wish to build in
your mind and slowly, form the structure out of the surrounding chaos. Some
also
hold various mantras in their mind while meditating. The one I was taught as a
child is Structure. Logic. Function. Control. A structure cannot stand without
a
foundation. Logic is the foundation of function. Function is the essence of
control. I am in control. I am in control.

::Blueheart nodded in silence and eagerly anticipated the explanation of the
second kind of Vulcan meditation.::

JAMES: The second, and the one I prefere, is known as Tiltra. Tiltra is
slightly
more advanced, but has the benefit of requiring no equipment. It attempts to
focus thoughts and the mind and also had the side effect of improving memory.
This is the technique I used while we were raising the Achilles. The most basic
form of Tiltra requires you to keep a number in your memory for a time. All
thoughts must be focused upon it, until you can see the meaning of the number,
its beauty and its simplicity or complexity. Beginners should start with a
short
number and gradually increase the number. More complex forms use multiple
numbers and sequences, but these are harder to maintain while completing tasks.
I personally use a pattern of numbers, increasing the sequence by one each
time.
For instance on the bridge I use the sequence 1 over root 5 times phi to n plus
1, which I believe is known as the Fibonacci sequence on earth. At the moment I
am using n equals 168.

BLUEHEART: You almost won me over with the improving memory bit. Then you
scared
me with complex mathematical sequences. ::He chuckled.:: What do you recommend
for a novice like me?

JAMES: I would suggest Kithira, it also has the benefit of being very
relaxing... Although, the Tiltra can be too, it doesn't have to include
complex
maths... Anyway, the Kithira is the most logical choice.

BLUEHEART: Then we shall go with that.

JAMES: Ok, I should have my blocks here somewhere...

:: James starts ruffling through a nearby box. ::

BLUEHEART: What do I do first? Does it involve weird contorted sitting
positions? Because I’m not as flexible as I used to be. oO Though Em would beg
to differ. Oo

JAMES: Sit down in a position you find comfortable, then clear your mind.
Imagine it is a blank space, moldable to your control. When you can feel
control
over your mind please nod. Speaking can break the concentration needed.

BLUEHEART: oO Blank space... Like a dark-matter pocket? Oo

JAMES: 0o Ah, there they are! 0o

::Blueheart focused on the dark-matter pocket and imagined it being folded and
molded by the sheer power of his mind. He nodded, almost subconsciously.::

:: James removed the blocks and set them in front of Blueheart. Upon seeing him
gently nod he placed them nearby his hands. ::

JAMES: Ok, now imagine a structure in your mind. It can be as simple or as
complex as you wish. When you can clearly visualize it use the blocks near you
hands, to build it. To form order from your internal chaos. Oh, and if you are
thinking how you can build without knowing details of the blocks, use all of
your senses, build a picture of them and from there apply that to your internal
landscape.

::Blueheart envisioned the grand Aztec pyramid at Teotihuacan. He reached out
and groped at the various solid objects scattered around him, just within reach
of his hands. The first object he touched was a smooth sphere.::

BLUEHEART: oO Rats! Oo

::Never one to give up easily, Blueheart persevered and grasped for other
objects and used his imagination to place them at different positions on his
growing structure, which he remembered well. So engrossed was he in his
endeavor, he hardly noticed the tip of his tongue peeking out the side of his
mouth.::

:: James watched as slowly, the disorder of the blocks slowly formed into a
tangible structure. For a first attempt it was very well made... 0o I wonder if
he does a lot of things in the dark... 0o After a few minutes he seemed to
falter slightly... ::

JAMES: If it helps order your thoughts, try reciting some kind of mantra. The
words, often, have little meaning. They are there to order your thoughts, to
help retain control.

BLUEHEART: oO But speaking breaks the concentration, you say. Do I recite
without speaking then? Oo

::He decided to speak anyway, to seek answers to these perturbing questions.::

JAMES: It often helps to speak them in your mind.

BLUEHEART: Ah. So I recite the mantra non-verbally. Got it. ::inhaling and
arching his back:: oO Dryad Blueheart d’Squamos... Vayu Blueheart d’Squamos...
Essk Blueheart d’Squamos... Dryad Blueheart d’Squamos... Vayu Blueheart
d’Squamos... Essk Blueheart d’Squamos... … … Oo

::Almost magically, Blueheart felt, with his hands, the erected miniature
pyramid. A smile slowly crossed his face as his hands no longer grasped any
remaining block.::

JAMES: Well, Sir. How did you find the Kithira?

BLUEHEART: ::opening his eyes:: I thought it would be a nightmare challenge,
but
right now I feel weirdly calm. Like the calm one feels after running a
marathon,
but without the sore muscles or throbbing head.

JAMES: Yes, it is strangely relaxing. I’ve heard that on earth a similar kind
of
therapy was practised with small, usually 4 by 4 blocks with odd cylindrical
prongs which can be used to reinforce a stacked structure. I believe it was
called Lego therapy or some sort...? Anyway, as you can see, while it does
excel
at bringing balance to a mind, it is a bit... cumbersome. This is why the
Tiltra
tends to be favored. Also it can’t help that it is practised regularly in all
academies due to its benefits for memory...

BLUEHEART: Indeed. How soon can one graduate from the Kithira to the Tiltra?

JAMES: Well, its not so much of a graduation, but a natural evolution. Some,
still prefer the Kithira, but as you learn greater control, it helps to learn
the Tiltra.

BLUEHEART: Oh, but I’m a slow learner. I don’t want to stress my neurones too
soon.

JAMES: That might be a good idea. Tiltra does require extreme concentration so
would be better to learn fully awake.

BLUEHEART: ::stifling a yawn:: oO Wow. I’m sleepy already! Oo You were
exceptionall, James. Brilliant! ::He flexed his neck to the left and to the
right.:: So when is our next lesson?

JAMES: :: Slightly surprised :: Well, whenever you like, Sir! 0o I must say
teaching is quite enjoyable... 0o

JP-SHAGAN/COLLIM/JAMES: Back in the saddle

((Somewhere on Sigma Iotia))

::The track was layered in dust. Under a clear blue sky and warm afternoon sun,
the stray country road was silent but for the constant zing-a-zing-a-zing of the
cicadas, hiding in the tall yellowing grass growing around and in the middle of
the path, pushing through cracks in the worn blocks of schist littering the
region’s lowlands. A sharp curve led out of the thick conifer grove and into
the plain, stretching all the way to the mountains and leaving the city a few
miles behind.::

::The sudden roar of a powerful four-cylinder engine shattered the insects’
and butterflies’ moment of grace as an old camaro appeared at the bend and
raced on, jumping up and down the track’s bumps at full speed. It shot through
the cloud of dust like a spaceship out of a planet’s asteroid belt, specks of
brown and grey clinging to the flashy red paint with its large black stripe
running from the metallic buffer to the plate, thick windshield mucky.::

::The car drove on faster than safety would allow and reached a downward slope
hidden by the grass, leading to a large wooden arch reading the name of the
driver and her passengers’ destination: Ranch Iotia. The camaro skid across
the gravel in a barely controlled slide to land in front of an old ranchers home
looking slightly the worse for wear, and as dusty as the car who had brought its
passengers to the isolated location.::

::The car’s doors opened hesitantly, creaking in protest, to let out three
young Starfleet officers, one of them looking infinitely more satisfied than the
other two, and a bit smug as well. Doctor Telice Shagan release her hair from
its tight ponytail and shook her head.::

SHAGAN: That was fun! I never had a chance to drive a real car before! Hovercars
are really not the same.

JAMES: Doctor... I think I may be ill... Could you drive a little... slower next
time?

COLLIM: ::clapping him on the shoulder:: You can have the back seat next time.

SHAGAN: ::tsking:: Where is your sense of adventure?

COLLIM: I have a good sense of adventure... ::she teased:: That's why I'm
driving back.

JAMES: :: Mumbles :: Please be gentle...

::The ranch house looked like a squashed rectangular box covered in batten pine
wood, the roof crooked and worn and having opinions of it own regarding the
angle it should stand at. Nonetheless, there was homely feeling to the
comfortable looking rocking chair waiting in front of the curtained windows, the
cheery blue shutters and the old truck parked to the side, dwarfing the slick
camaro, and the dog’s house guarding the stables.::

::The door opened a moment later to let out a tall man dressed in shaggy riding
pants and brown, muddy leather boots, a white long sleeves shirt clinging to his
skin, collar held tight by a black string bolo tie displaying some sort of
pressed silver coin, it details faded with time. His face was round and open but
his eyes keen and searching. They were wandering eyes, ready to seize the
opportunity, and Telice Shagan disliked them instantly. Still, he smiled and his
face lightened up, dimples bringing an air of youthfulness to otherwise old
features. Short, unruly black hair peppered in gray sat atop the man’s
head.::

::A cigar was hanging from his mouth, and was half smoking, half chewing on it.
His teeth, both medical officers noticed, were almost black.::

JUMPER: Ya’ll the folks from the city? I’m Jumper, I own the place.

SHAGAN: Yes, I called you about renting three horses? ::Telice’s hand
disappeared in Jumper’s large, meaty handshake.::

JUMPER: That right. ::His cigar swung to the other side of his mouth while he
examined the officers critically.:: Ya ever been on a horse before?

SHAGAN: I have, but my friends haven’t. If you had two quiet horses at least
that would be great.

::Kieran smiled, hiding what she was thinking and feeling. She didn't like the
way the man looked at them and even more she didn't like what she was sensing
from him.::

COLLIM: ::placing her hand on Telice's shoulder and leaning into her:: Where's
your sense of adventure?

SHAGAN: ::raising an eyebrow:: Is that a challenge? We can do fast horses, but I
don’t think you’ll like it.

JAMES: Fast.... Not again....

JUMPER: We got some nice fellows in the back, ya don’t need to worry about
that ::he grunted.:: Now about that payment.

SHAGAN: ::resisting the urge to roll her eyes:: Of course. James, would you mind
getting our bag? It’s in the back.

JAMES: Of course.

:: James walked towards the back of the car, suppressing his new found aversion
to the mechanical monstrosity. James picked up the bag noting its weight 0o How
can they carry this much around?! 0o and brought it back to the group. ::

::Telice shoved the credits in the rancher’s hand, hurried to get rid of his
insistent, greedy gaze, and tapped her foot on the ground while he counted the
bills and coins. He counted every last one and took his time too, nimble fingers
bending the corner of each counted bill and grazing the marking on each coin.::

JUMPER: All’s there. ::He almost seemed surprised about it.:: Ya’ll can go
to the stables there behind the dog’s house. Tack room is in the back. ::The
Starfleet officers nodded.:: Cherry and Billy are good boys... Nice quiet
geldings for your friends ::Jumper told Telice.:: You can take any, mind Duster
though, that bastard got his name after throwing three of my lads.

SHAGAN: Ok... well thanks.

COLLIM: Thank you. oONow go away.Oo

JAMES: Thank you... 0o Don’t vomit on his shoes, don’t vomit on his shoes...
0o

::Jumper turned around and walked back to the house, coins clashing with a sharp
noise in his pockets. Some of the dry mud on his boots came off the supple
leather as he climbed the steps up to the door. It banged close behind him.::

SHAGAN: ::huffing:: Charming.

COLLIM: Ferengis are charming. He's creepy.

JAMES: … I didn’t notice.

SHAGAN: ::clapping her hands once:: Alright then! Let’s get this show on the
road. 

::Telice had helped Kieran replicate a few choice of clothes suited to horse
riding with guilty pleasure. Indeed her friend looked good in riding gear that
molded her forms advantageously, the muted colors matching her long plaited
blond hair  The doctor couldn’t help sliding a possessive hand on Kieran’s
lower back for the nth time this day. She grinned.::

::James was already unloading their boots and the bag full of snacks and water
from the truck. Warry of his Vulcan excellent hearing, Telice bent to whisper
into Kieran’s ear.::

SHAGAN: Good thing we are not in my quarters anymore.

COLLIM: ::grinning:: Maybe you can show me why later.

SHAGAN: You have no idea.

::Telice herself was outfitted in her best riding clothes, navy blue pants and
short sleeves yellow shirt, a knotted scarf bringing a lighter touch of pale
blue around her throat, leather belt holding soft fabric to her hips. She had
gotten the clothes on Earth, and to wear them again reminded her of her first
riding competitions, and of days long gone. How could she regret any of her
choices though, when she had met Kieran, James, and space?::

JAMES: I trust this isn’t going to go horrifically wrong?

COLLIM: Relax, James. It'll be fun... no drinking, no Orion's, no drunken...
anybody.  

SHAGAN: Get ready to get your hands dirty. ::Telice winked.::

::They struggled to pull their boots on, brand new leather resisting their
efforts, then grabbed the bags and walked into the stables. Curious heads
appeared at the stalls’ doors. Telice took in the animals. The horses were
well fed, coats shiny with health and muscles heavy with exercise. A large black
dog barked and ran at them, tail wagging madly.::

COLLIM: ::kneeling and offering her hand before petting the dog:: You're a
friendly guy. Nicer than your master.

JAMES: :: Awkwardly stroking the dog :: You are indeed, friendly.

::Telice took out her camera, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand, and
and snapped a quick picture of her friends kneeling in the dirt in an old barn,
petting a dog, on Sigma Iotia. She wanted to remember this moment in a few years
time.::

SHAGAN: Come on, let’s get the horses ready.

::It was the work of a moment for the experienced rider to put a halter on the
two recommended horses and attach them in front of their respective stalls so
Kieran and James could brush them. She demonstrated first on her own horse, a
small solid bay she selected from the back of the stables, near the tack room.
His name was Luck, as his stall’s plate revealed to the doctor. Luck stood
patiently while she showed her friends how to clean their horses’ hooves, as
if he knew his role.::

JAMES: 0o Its quite fun getting the horses ready... 0o

::In the interest of security and getting in the saddle as fast as possible,
Telice saddled the three horses herself, looping the thick leather straps in the
allotted ring on the left side of the saddles. She was surprised to notice they
were almost identical to Western style saddles on Earth, but pleased too,
because these were easier and more comfortable for beginners. Worst case
scenario, if something scared the horses James and Kieran could hold onto the
pommel.::

SHAGAN: Ok, now to get on. ::Telice said after leading the horses outside. She
put the reins of her own horse on her arm, and he followed as she moved.::
Kieran, come here. You can take Cherry. ::She patted the bay gelding on the
neck.::

COLLIM: ::looking leary:: Why that one?

SHAGAN: Because I said so. ::She laughed:: First, take both reins in your left
hand. Then, put your left foot in the stirrup.

COLLIM: ::moving closer, she took the reins:: I can do this.

JAMES: Is it as difficult as it looks?

SHAGAN: ::smirking at the Vulcan:: Don’t worry, your turn is coming. ::To
Kieran:: Ok, now push strongly on your foot and swing your right leg up. Be
careful not to hit his rump.

::Kieran shifted both reins to her left hands and put her left foot in the
stirrup. Looking at Telice to see if she was doing it right, she took a deep
breath. Her heart began racing and a tiny throbbing started in her head. Biting
her lip, she pushed herself up with her left leg and started to swing her right
leg over when the horse shifted suddenly. She fell forward, her foot slipped and
the next thing she knew, she was flat on her back gasping for a breath.::

JAMES: Are you alright? :: Moves to help her up, although Telice gets there
first. ::

SHAGAN: ::offering her hand:: Well, that happens. ::She dusted the counselor’s
shoulders and her back, and maybe made the most of it to dust lower still.:: 

COLLIM: I think you enjoyed that a little too much.

SHAGAN: Me? Not at all. ::She held the horse’s reins out to Kieran.:: Now, he
moved because while getting on you stabbed his side with the tip of your boot.
The trick is to hold your foot parallel to his side. I know it’s not terribly
comfortable, but otherwise you are actually asking him to move.

COLLIM: ::reluctantly taking the reins, she muttered:: You'll be the death of me
yet.

::Once again, holding the reins in her left hand and putting her foot in the
stirrup, she twisted her leg making sure the tip of her boot didn't prod the
horse. Saying it was a little uncomfortable was an understatement. Clenching her
teeth, she pushed up and swung her right leg over. This time falling down onto
the saddle. She leaned forward just enough to keep herself on the horse as he
shuffled to the side.::

COLLIM: Make him stop moving.

SHAGAN: ::chuckling:: Stop moving yourself, and he’ll stop.

COLLIM: I'm not... ::deep breath and she tried to stop moving.:: Ok. Ok.
oOPlease horse. This is not impressing the girlfriend.Oo ::sitting up straight
showing a confidence she did not feel:: I'll just sit here and wait for you
two.

JAMES: I suppose its my turn now...

:: James approached the horse, slightly nervously. He took hold of the horses
reign, put his foot in the stirrup and swung his leg over, hitting the saddle
far too hard. Billy was a tall gangly dappled grey horse. Long legs gave him the
appearance of a racer but the short line of his back told another story.
Unperturbed by the sudden landing on his back, he only moved slightly to the
left.::

JAMES: 0o baktag... 0o

SHAGAN: You ok? Try not to do that next time... Although they are very strong
horses are not in fact made to carry people and it’s important to preserve
their back.

JAMES: :: Strained :: I am quite alright... Well I suppose we should get
going...

SHAGAN: Absolutely. ::Telice stepped back to hold both riders in her sight.::
Basics. If you need to slow down or stop, shorten your reins. And for the love
of god do not pull your horse’s head back like you want to snap his neck. If
you do that, you can walk back. ::She waved a finger at them threateningly. This
was the most common mistake beginners made.::

COLLIM: Walking back will be an option?

JAMES: I suspect it will more be carried back, unconscious.

::The doctor gathered the reins of her own horse and easily swung into the
saddle without using the stirrups. Since she had no mounting block, this was the
next best thing not to pull on the animal’s back while getting on. It was even
better in fact. She demonstrated a few other basics manoeuvres, mainly how to
turn and control the pace, then patted her saddle bags to check that the
mandatory contents were there.::

SHAGAN: Alright, let’s go! ::She cheered.::

::They left the ranch at a leisurely pace. The horses’ hooves beat a peaceful
rhythm onto the ground, parting the tall strands of grass. Purple flowers peeked
above the sea of yellow and green on tall stems. To their left, the bosquet
thinned and eventually reluctantly gave up the chase with a short trail of
smaller trees. From time to time one of the horses shook his mane to get rid of
the few bugs clinging to their neck. Soon, the ranch was out of sight, and the
mountains seemed closer with the vast empty stretch in front of the three
riders, looming on the horizon.::

SHAGAN: ::patting her horse’s neck:: It’s very peaceful here.

::It had taken Kieran a little while to relax and feel halfway comfortable atop
the horse. Once she allowed her muscles to relax, she noticed the horse seemed
to relax as well. It was an odd feeling really but she didn’t give it too much
thought. She closed her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath.::

COLLIM: I could get use to this quiet. ::she was referring more to the lack of
emotions she was sensing. It was easier to block one or two people than it was
hundreds. Glancing at James.:: Feeling better now?

JAMES: Yes, actually. It’s quite... relaxing riding horses.

SHAGAN: ::beat:: You think if we stay out here for a month or two people will
forget we ever got drunk with the captain? ::She chuckled.::

JAMES: If only... 0o I once again curse my eidetic memory... 0o

COLLIM: If only we could be so lucky. ::That was one night she really wished she
could forget.::

SHAGAN: ::bending to check the girth with the confidence of a long time rider::
We’d be living on berries and sleeping with the horses. ::She laughed out
loud.::

COLLIM: If there was a waterfall around here, it might not be so bad... but
I’d miss a nice hot shower and my nice warm bed.

JAMES: Yes, I agree. Not to mention the replicator...

SHAGAN: I’d miss it too... But I have to say, it’s nice being on planet once
in awhile.

JAMES: Thats true, too...

COLLIM: I think you both would love Betazed. It’s beautiful and quiet like
this outside the cities and away from my mother. Though cooler.

SHAGAN: ::glancing at Kieran:: Your mother?

COLLIM: ::nodding:: She drives me crazy. Non-stop... a million and one questions
about everything.

SHAGAN: Oh.

::The horses lowered their heads and slowed to a careful trudge as the ground
suddenly disappeared into a rocky depression, the path twisting between scree
and brambles covered in wild berries. The rocks had a particular pastel shade
that reminded Telice of Brice Canyon. Lower still, the run ended in a natural
bowl filled to the brim with clear water, like the sudden breaks in mountain
reliefs back on Earth, surrounded in bright green vegetation, roughly twice the
size of the Discovery’s bridge.:

::Doctor Shagan reckoned the pond must be alimented by groundwater. The perfect
spot for an afternoon snack in the sun. The sparse tall bushes would provide
some shade for the horses while the riders lazed about.::

SHAGAN: Bend back here, let the horses do the work. Hold your pommel if you need
to.

COLLIM: You make it look so easy.

JAMES: Experiance always does. You must have spent a great amount of time
riding.

SHAGAN: Since I was born, almost.

::Kieran did her best to mirror Telice’s movements by bending back but not too
far. The last thing she wanted to do was fall again, this time while moving
downhill with rocks to land on.::

::Thankfully the ride down was smooth. Telice jumped to the ground lightly, and
immediately unloaded her saddlebags, then proceeded to unsaddle her horse,
running her hands on the gelding’s coat out of habit, checking for any
scratches or injuries. Looking up, she realised Kieran and James were both still
straddling their mounts.::

SHAGAN: ::snidely:: It’s easier to get down then up you know.

COLLIM: ::frowning:: Sure it is...

::Taking a breath, she tried to do exactly as she had seen Telice do it. Of
course, she wasn’t nearly as graceful. Legs sore from the ride, she stumbled
as her feet hit the ground. She managed to catch herself by grabbing the saddle
without pushing the horse too hard.::

COLLIM: ::patting Cherry’s neck:: Sorry. ::biting her lip:: That... uhm...
hurts.

JAMES: Are you alright, Councillor?

SHAGAN: ::Dismissively:: She’ll be fine, it’s just a few bruises. Here,
I’ll take care of the horses, you guys put all the gear and bags in one spot.

::The saddles were heavy, hand crafted pieces, and though Telice’s hands flew
other straps and buckles automatically she wasn’t used to the saddles’
weight anymore. Besides, she had mostly ridden with English style saddles back
on Earth, and to grab the gear off the horses’ back now was a bit of a
struggle. She managed at the price of a few drops of sweat and shoved them into
James arms.::

::While James took care of the saddles, Kieran grabbed the bags. Moving stiffly,
she took out two small blankets from the bags and spread them out next to each
other just far enough from the water not to get wet. She then sat the bags at
the edge of the blankets before joining Telice to help her.::

::A quick brush down later, all three were pulling off their boots to put their
feet in the deliciously cool water.::

SHAGAN: ::laying back on the grass:: Best shore leave ever.

::Kieran just nodded in agreement as she stretched out her back, propping
herself up with her hands. She leaned her head back and closed her eyes. Her
mind was completely clear except for the faint awareness of Telice. Since James
was half-Vulcan she could only feel him if she specifically tried and right now
she definitely didn’t want to try.::

JAMES: This is our first shore leave, we don’t have quite enough data to state
that. 0o The water is *so* nice...! 0o

SHAGAN: Best first shore leave ever! ::She shielded her eyes against the sun
with her hand.:: Sore? ::She asked Kieran.::

COLLIM: ::nodding:: Yeah, a little. oOA lot.Oo

SHAGAN: Here. ::Telice rolled up smoothly and sat behind the counselor, legs on
either side of her hips. She pushed strongly with her thumb against the muscles
of Kieran’s lower back.::

COLLIM: ::trying not to flinch:: Ow.. easy, Doc or you’ll be carrying me back.
::Grinning as she leaned forward a little.:: 

SHAGAN: Don’t worry, I won’t break you. ::Telice smirked at Kieran’s
back.:: Not when the horses can do it.

COLLIM: Uhuh, that feels better. ::Looking at James, not wanting him to feel
left out.:: I’m glad you decided to come with us. It gives us all a chance to
get to know each other better.

JAMES: Yes, its actually been quite fun. :: With his mouth slightly curved ::
Its nice to have a outing where I’m not attacked!

SHAGAN: ::moving back to her spot on the grass and lying on her front:: James
and I actually go way back.

COLLIM: ::interest piqued:: Oh? Further than the Academy?

SHAGAN: Oh yes, but not how you think. And we only found out recently.

JAMES: It turns out I actually met her during one of my trips to Earth, to see
my Grandmother as I child.

SHAGAN: Exactly. And I was there for my birthday. ::She nodded at James.:: I
don’t think I ever told you that part, did I? My father is an engineer at the
San Francisco base... I got to visit a ship being outfitted for departure for my
birthday. You know that ended. ::She waved an insistent butterfly away.::

COLLIM: ::Leaning back onto her hands:: I know. ::She wanted to say more but she
didn’t want to ruin the fun they were having.::

::Moving again, Telice rested her head on Kieran’s lap, laying on her back.
She soaked the sun rays, stretching luxuriously and settling back with a deep
sigh. Above them puffs of white drifted away from the sun slowly in an otherwise
blue sky. Telice closed her eyes.::

COLLIM: ::smiling, Kieran brushed Telice’s hair back with her finger:: So, do
you like to swim, James?

JAMES: Yes, swimming is a very enjoyable activity. Although it is not one I get
to indulge in often. Vulcan is a desert planet after all, although I did live in
a oasis there never seemed to be many pools... What about you? :: Gesturing at
Telice and Kieran ::

::Eyes closed, Telice missed the gesture completely.::

COLLIM: I love swimming. There are waterfalls and a lake not too far from where
I grew up. I spent as much time there as I could get away with. ::looking down
at Telice with a smile:: What about you beautiful? Are you as good in the water
as you are on horseback? 

SHAGAN: Hm? ::she opened an eye:: I’m alright. We have the sea where I live.
Where I lived.

COLLIM: Maybe we can go for a swim ::looking toward the water:: If the water’s
safe.

SHAGAN: It should be. ::But she made no move to rise.::

JAMES: I should have brought a tricorder... It would have been simple to run a
analysis...

COLLIM: ::leaning over as far as she could, Kieran kissed Telice’s forehead::
Come on. You can sleep later. Right now is time for some fun.

SHAGAN: ::she made a noise of protest:: Ok, ok. I’ll get up.

::Telice was not embarrassed to swim in her underwear. One of the many
advantages of living at the Academy for three years with a bunch of
adventure-starved cadets was the dramatic lowering of one’s inhibitions. Plus,
having a roommate did not leave much room for modesty. Besides which Telice had
never been body shy to start with. She unknotted the scarf around her neck and
let it drift to the ground. She pulled off her polo off and unbuttoned her
jeans, toed off her boots and peeled off her socks, laying them beside the rest
of her clothes.::

::Kieran pushed herself up, trying not be too obvious about watching Telice. She
hesitated, seeing James move out of the corner of her eye. But it was her idea
to go swimming besides, until the dress, she’d never been shy before. The
counselor in her made a mental note to dig deeper and figure out why she had
been so self-conscious that night. Quickly pushing that thought to the back of
her mind, she kicked off her boots and stripped down to her underclothes,
revealing scars, tattoos and all.::

JAMES: In the future I should pack for all eventualities...

:: As James quickly stripped. Being rather unconscious of themselves was one of
the Vulcan’s strong points... Or weak points depending on your point of view.
Anyway, he mused, there is hardly anything to be embarrassed about. ::

::Telice dived in. The water was cool, perhaps a bit too much, but the medical
officer was used to Earth’s oceans cold currents Looking up, she wondered if
James was Vulcan enough that he could regulate his body temperature. She
didn’t remember reading anything to that effect on his file. Sun rays
reflected on the surface like glittering diamonds, creating interesting shapes
on the pale, pink rocky bottom. An array of colourful fishes scattered as Telice
paddled their way.::

::Kieran dove in right behind Telice. Arms in front of her, she arched her back
just before touching bottom, pushing her arms out and back to propel herself
back to the surface. She emerged just behind Telice, a grin on her face as she
moved to wrap her arms around the doctor, pulling her back against her chest.
Seeing James still on the bank, she kissed Telice’s neck and pushed herself
away. Backstroking just out of the doctor’s reach.::

COLLIM: ::looking at James:: Come on in. The water feels great.

SHAGAN: ::under her breath:: Not just the water.

JAMES: I shall now. I’m just trying to estimate the waters temperature. ::
James dipped his hand into the water. :: 0o Mmm... About 290 Kelvin... Warm
enough. 0o

:: James dived in, clearing about 1.2 Meters. He then swam out to the others,
underwater by breaststroke. While swimming, he saw a few oddly shaped creatures,
vaguely cylindrical and coloured the same as the sediment below.  ::

::Diving under the surface, Telice kept her eyes wide open, and observed the now
blurry profiles of intriguingly shaped fishes, long as trouts but round and flat
like cyclides. Reassured that the swimmers were no predators and lacking hiding
places -- though a few disappeared in the cracks littering the pool floor,
Telice noticed -- the creatures undulated around them in a beautiful rainbow.::

SHAGAN: I’ll get my camera.

COLLIM: ::smiling:: Good idea. I can send copies to my mom. oONot.Oo

JAMES: That is a good idea... I would be interested in finding out what kind of
creatures these are.

::Telice gripped the edge of the slippery rocks surrounding the pool and hoisted
herself up, only long enough to grab her camera, then let herself fall back into
the water. She had paid quite a bit of money for this device, but was fully
satisfied with its supposed bombproof qualities. Neither water nor fire would
break it.::

::Her models by now were almost completely unperturbed, and swam calmly around
like  fishes out of the National Geographic, a nature and science magazine that,
if the rumours were true, was centuries old. It was comforting to think that no
matter their technological advancement Terrans took an interest in nature.
Telice took a few more snapshots of the wild life, then directed herself at more
tame life with Kieran and James.::

SHAGAN: Come on, smile! ::She gestured at them to get closer to one another.::

::Kieran swam closer to James but didn't touch him.::

JAMES: :: Looking slightly uncomfortable. ::

SHAGAN: James, the fish bite. Kieran doesn’t, I swear.

COLLIM:  ::grinning:: At least not very hard. 

JAMES: Ah, I think one of the creatures was swimming in between my hallux and my
first phalange... 

::Shaking her head with a smile, the medical officer took the picture and handed
the camera to James.::

SHAGAN: And I want one of Kieran and me!

JAMES: 0o Ahh, I haven’t tried photography in so long... 0o

:: James took a few seconds to familiarise himself with the device and disengage
as many automatic functions as possible. He then carefully lined up the shot,
adjusted the exposure, metering off the bight water and set the shutter speed.
Looking through the viewfinder, he wasn’t completely happy with the angle, so
he set about finding a slightly better one. ::

::Telice waited for James to adjust the angle, then, when his hand steadied and
his finger pressed the button, she grabbed Kieran’s face and kissed her full
on the mouth. The loud bip went unheard by both officers. When they separated,
Telice grinned apologetically at James.::

SHAGAN: Thanks.

COLLIM: ::releasing her breath and smiling:: hmmm yes, thank you.

JAMES: It was no problem. 0o Is that slight overexposure... no, just a
reflection... 0o :: After resetting the camera, he handed it back to Telice. ::

SHAGAN; The sun is almost on the mountains. ::Telice suddenly noticed.:: We
should go before it gets dark.

COLLIM: ::letting out a groan:: Not looking forward to the return.

JAMES: No... Please drive more carefully when we get back... In fact I could
drive if you want...?

::All three pulled themselves out of the water and started getting dressed. The
low buzzing of the cicadas was now a dull murmur under the breeze that shook the
girls’ hair, blowing wild strands gently out of their faces. The horses were
grazing steadily around the bushes as far their lunge would allow. Barefoot,
Telice strapped back the saddles to their backs, then attached the saddles bags.
Once she was satisfied everything as in order, she put on her tight boots and
mounted.::

SHAGAN: Good to go? ::She asked her fellow officers.:: Oh wait, let’s do a pic
with three of us.

::Kieran managed to get back on Cherry without falling or hurting herself.
Taking a breath, she prayed the ride back would be smooth and painless. Though
somehow she doubted the painless part since she was already feeling the hurt.::

::Telice hanged the camera on the tallest bush with the little hook hidden in
its case, and set the timer. She turned her horse back and went to stand beside
her friends. Taking Kieran’s hand, she smiled at her, then at the camera.
Seconds later, the shutter closed and opened with a distinctive sound.::

SHAGAN: ::gathering the camera and sliding it into her pocket.:: This time
we’re good.

COLLIM: ::nodding:: The sooner we get back the better. o0I’ll kill for a nice
hot bath.0o

JAMES: Although, I would like to insist that we not get back *too* fast.

SHAGAN: Let’s ride into the sunset. ::Telice grinned.:: Slowly.