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Day 09 [1830 hrs.] Perspective

| Rylan Sil | Deck 13 | Mess Hall | U.S.S. Theurgy | @Dumedion

The mess hall was not full. Rylan could have picked an empty table if he had wanted. That was not what he wanted though. That night, he was in search of perspective, but not his own. He was working, and it was the views and opinions of the crew that he wanted to hear that night. Specifically, he wanted to hear from someone new. Not new in the way that both he and Nara were new to the ship. Keen eared, Rylan had overheard some of the crew talking about others who had just been taken out of stasis, had their injuries repaired, and still wanted to stay with the ship despite their renegade status. A few questions to the right people and the computer had brought Rylan to the edge of the table occupied by the solitary form of Talia Al-Ibrahim, one of those newly revived pilots, steaming mug of raktijino in hand.

“Ensign, mind if I sit?” he said as he slid into the seat opposite Talia without waiting for her to answer.

He took a quick pull from the mug before putting it down and sliding his chair close to the table. “Rylan Sil, Federation News Network,” he said and extended a hand displaying his holographic credentials. Almost as quickly as he flashed the identification he closed his palm around the tiny beacon and then stuffed it back into his pocket.

Re: Day 09 [1830 hrs.] Perspective

Reply #1
[Ens. Talia Al-Ibrahim | Mess Hall | Deck 13 | Vector 01| USS Theurgy] Attn: @oberonfrost

She sat in the farthest corner of the hall facing the star filled viewports, one hand holding her PADD as the other held onto the spoon that hadn't moved from the second rate maqluba she tried to replicate. The lamb was decent enough, but missing the spices of home; the rice however, was less than satisfactory. Still, as her eyes focused intently on the PADD in her hand - scanning over her own recent simulation performances - her other hand never left the spoon buried in the cold uneaten meal.

She chewed idly on a bone shank as she concentrated, cracking it open with her teeth to slurp at the marrow within. It was a bad habit, picked up first by her father, then her uncle. As it happened, she was utterly oblivious to everyone around her; she simply caught movement in her peripheral vision and glanced up - and he was there. Annoyance battled with confusion on her face as she glanced around, wondering where the hell he came from. She caught the barest glimpse at his 'credentials', while her mind struggled to process his name. Wait...Sil? FNN?

She set the PADD aside and removed the bone from her mouth as she squinted at him, head cocked to the left. "Are you lost, Mr. Sil?"



Re: Day 09 [1830 hrs.] Perspective

Reply #2
| Rylan Sil & Talia Al-Ibrahim | Mess Hall | Deck 13 | Vector 01 | U.S.S. Theurgy |

"That, ensign, is certainly a question. Physically, no. Existentially though, almost certainly. Why do you ask?" Rylan said coyly and propped his right elbow on the table. He rested his chin on his balled fist, head cocked to the side, almost a mirror image of his companion looking back at him.

Talia resisted the urge to frown at his perfectly calm composure. Well, shit. That didn't scare him off, she grumbled to herself. Tilting her head opposite of his, she huffed as she leaned back into her chair and jabbed the bone home into the half eaten meal she'd neglected. Guess I'll have to activate bitch-mode, she sighed to herself. "It's a big ship Mr. Sil," she said flatly, "lots of people you've probably talked to. I don't recall being one of them." She crossed her legs then, settling in for what was sure to be a fumbling attempt to gain some specific insight from her by the man. Truth be told, she really had no clue what he wanted, and she didn't care. He had interrupted her peace, despite being the first to do so in this place, and that rubbed her the wrong way.

Why do they never trust journalists? Rylan wondered as he watched Talia stab her meal with the gnawed on marrow bone. Wherever he went it was the same old yarn, freedom of the press or not, no one wanted to talk to reporters. Wasn't the fact that he had even been allowed to set foot on the ship proof enough that he wasn't an enemy? He straightened his neck and looked Talia in the eye, not ready to back down quite yet. He'd reported from multiple war zones and spent months on the Klingon homeworld.

"It's the biggest ship I've ever been on, ensign. I've only met a half dozen or so of the crew though." He took a pull from the cup of replicated Klingon coffee. "How many have you met?" He put the mug back on the table and crossed his arms across his chest.

Damn, he's quick! She fought furiously to contain the smile from creeping onto her face. It started as she pursed her lips, then narrowed her eyes, until finally the façade of indifference broke like the brittle shell it was. It was the speed of his wit that did it, the casualness of it; he seemed ready and waiting to parry like a well practiced sparring partner. Touché, she hid her grin by running a hand over her face; the entire affair lasted less than a second but she doubted he'd missed it.

"Point taken Mr. Sil," she cleared her throat, still playing the calm, collected neutral. "So, what brings you to me? I can only assume this isn't an innocent 'oh, just getting to know you' chat." Her quick eyes darted around the room, seeing that they were mostly alone in this corner of the mess. Her brain started to work in overdrive trying to determine if he had been timing this encounter, and if so, had he been watching her? What did he want? Was she being paranoid? Maybe he just stopped by for a bite and saw me. Weirder things have happened, right? Why are you like this? Without even realizing it, she had crossed her arms seconds after he did.

Even as Talia's arms crossed across her chest, Rylan relaxed his own posture, uncrossing his and leaning forward. Elbows on the table he smiled openly, letting perfectly straight, stark white teeth show his enjoyment. "You assume right, ensign," Rylan smiled at her. "I came for your perspective; your story."

He reached into oversized pocket on the left of his jacket and pulled out Mera, his multi-functional camera drone. "On the record, I hope?"

Fuck, her mind groaned as soon as the words left his mouth and her eyes found what she assumed could only be a recording device. It was all smoothly done, seemingly innocently, but Talia fought to keep her face impassive as her heartrate increased.

"I don't really have a story Mr. Sil," she shrugged as she ran a hand through her hair. "I just got here - and what purpose would it serve anyway? We're incommunicado, alone out here from Starfleet and the Federation. Why bother with this," she gestured to the device. Then she blinked as she tilted her head at him again. "I don't even know if I'm authorized to talk to you either," she added in honest confusion.

"Call me Rylan," he insisted gently, before taking a pull from his mug and pulling his thoughts together. Almost as soon as he set the drink back on the smooth tabletop words started to pour from his mouth. "As I see it, you probably have one of the most interesting stories on this boat. From a journalistic perspective at least. It's a story I can tell. A story I can sell to the masses. You were a soldier, injured in battle protective innocent lives, put into stasis for months. Then you wake up and find out that your crew is a bunch of fugitives, on the run from parasitic infiltrators controlling the Federation from shadows. And you decided to stay."

He pointed both index fingers at her almost playfully, just for a second. "That's a story, Talia. Can I call you Talia? I'm gonna call you Talia.

"So, that's why I want to talk to you. I want to tell that story, get your perspective. As for being incommunicado, we might not be able to call a friend, but that's not going to stop me from submitting articles. Why else would the captain have let me come aboard if he didn't want me to tell the story of the crew?"

She sat and blinked at him for several long seconds while her mind processed what he was saying. The words struck something within her; something she couldn't quite articulate even to herself. The question he posed: why did you stay? why fight at all? Seemed to be at the heart of it and she wasn't exactly sure how to frame an answer.

Did I have a choice, Talia wondered as her dark eyes fell to the tabletop. She chewed on her bottom lip, considering. No. Someone has to fight. I made that decision a long time ago.

She leaned her elbows on the table then, running her hands through her hair before clasping them together before her. "There's nothing special about my story or perspective here Rylan," she stated flatly, "but," she added quickly to interrupt his protest, "if this is what you are after, and you think it will do some good, then I will tell you what I think."

She paused for a few seconds, attempting to order her thoughts and feelings; her lips pursed as her eyes unfocused, looking through the man across her, into the past and the uncertain future.

"I joined Starfleet to spite someone who hurt me, to prove to him that I didn't need anyone to live a happy life. I wanted to be an archeologist, a weak smile tugged at the corners of her lips then, but failed to reach her eyes. She remembered how foolishly proud she'd been, as well as what it cost her. "Then the Breen attacked Earth and stole the only person who cared about me," she frowned as she tilted her head down. "I swore that I'd do everything I could to stop that from happening again."

She took a deep breath before returning her eyes to Rylan's. "I'm here fighting because my crewmates are fighting - because the Federation and Starfleet that I believe in has been usurped. Because there are good people at risk of losing their lives and the lives of people they care about. Because all evil needs to win, Mr. Sil, is the failure of good people to act." She shrugged then, shaking her head subtly. "They've branded us traitors and taken us from our friends and families, they've hounded this ship for half a year, working from the shadows. They've used our fear and the bitter blood between species to sow strife and confusion between stellar factions while they attack us with a weapon that never should have been created." She ran a hand through her hair as she blew out a quick breath, blinking slowly. "You want to know how that makes me feel," she leveled her gaze at him, tilting her chin up as she crossed her arms. "Makes me pretty fucking angry."

As soon as Talia said the words "...then I will tell you what I think," Rylan hit the manual record control disguised along Mera's crown. It didn't take long for him to decide that he had made the right decision seeking her out. Sure, she had started off a little hesitant, but in his experience the first bit of an interview was rarely usable. Once the subject got talking though, comfortable hearing their own voice and forgetful of the fact they were being recorded, that was when the good stuff really came out. The conviction in her voice when she talked about the Federation and Starfleet - and her crew - was exactly the kind of footage he needed. It was precisely what normal citizens throughout the Federation needed to hear.

While Talia spoke Rylan had quickly pulled another drink from his mug. When she stopped he looked her straight in eye, and he could see the anger smoldering there. "I get that; anger can be useful. That can't be the only thing you're feeling though. There's hope there too, right? Otherwise, why bother fighting?"

"Hope," she scoffed, "I put no stock in hope, Mr. Sil," Talia answered in a flat, cynical tone. "Not for me anyway," she added quietly, dropping her eyes as she shook her head. "Hope is for other people," she gestured off with one hand as her eyeline shifted away, betraying her vulnerability. "Hope's for dreamers. People that," she paused to shrug, "for whatever reason, lack the drive or ability to act. Nothing happens on hope - I have faith," she nodded, the muscles on her jawline clenching. "Faith in myself - in the mission - the cause. I wont fail because there are people counting on me. They wont fail because I'm counting on them. It's not arrogance. It's...it's...," her voice trailed off as she took a deep breath, trying to gather her thoughts. Talia's dark eyes blinked several times while she chewed her bottom lip.

"We could all die out here tomorrow, or in the next hour. All we have is each other. Faith, in each other. I'll take that over hope any day," she spoke quietly, as if she'd just read off an obituary. Talia sniffed then, as she wiped her eyes, forcing her emotions down. "I've only been here a week, but I've met people who've endured things you can't imagine," resolve flared in her eyes as they locked back onto his. "I don't know how they're holding on, but they are. Maybe it's hope, maybe it's just vengeance, or perhaps, justice that keeps them going? I don't know."

She sighed, rolling the tension from her shoulders and neck as she folded her arms across the tabletop. "Maybe one day someone will look back through this and tell our stories. Who we were. Where we came from. What we lived through and died for. Right now, that doesn't seem likely. Why bother fighting," she asked rhetorically, with a hint of sarcasm, "because its the right thing to do."

Rylan pushed control button again and stopped the recording. He couldn't have asked for a better first interview from one of the crew. "And you didn't think you had anything to say," he said wryly and plucked the drone from the tabletop and stuffed it into an oversized pocket. He flung a friendly grin in her direction. "Sorry I interrupted your supper, Talia. I'll make it up to you sometime if you like. Do you like fish?"

He grabbed up his nearly empty mug of Klingon coffee, the dregs of which had gone cold, and stood up. "I'll leave you to your meal. Thanks for letting me get your perspective."

Talia sat back, blinking at him with her head cocked just enough to betray her confusion. Wait...what just happened, her mind struggled to keep up. Her eyes narrowed at Rylan as he grinned and stood. Slippery fellow, this Rylan Sil. Having let her emotions get the better of her, Talia had quite forgotten he was recording the whole conversation. Not that it really mattered; she'd said what she felt was truth and would deal with whatever consequences came from it later. That conviction didn't stop the odd feeling in her chest; a feeling of cathartic release and a weariness in the absence of a load she hadn't even realized she was carrying.

At the mention of her meal, she offered him the slightest curl to the corner of her lips as she nodded. "Thanks for getting it out of me, Mr. Sil," she murmured, pausing to gather up her PADD and dishes before she stood as well. "And yeah, I like fish," she shrugged, "who doesn't? Let me know how those articles turn out," she added, gesturing with her PADD to him as she passed. Maybe someone out there will listen and keep faith in us.

-FIN

 
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