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Topic: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage (Read 944 times) previous topic - next topic

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Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage

[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Nestled inside one of the smaller towers on the west end of the riverside promenade, the "Blue Wave Spa" was as unremarkable as the rest of the establishments arrayed around it.  That might have been what the clientele were hoping for, the old adage said that it was much harder to find a needle in a stack of needles than inside of a haystack.  Despite its more vertical prominence, this all-in-one relaxation station was known for its ability to allow its customers to be discreet.  Looking up some details about it on the Aldean data network before traveling, Shall was mildly impressed at how little the owners published about what exactly they did.  That must've been why the contact he made wanted to meet here.  As to why he was now half-absorbed into a massive over-stuffed couch he could only guess.

Instead of his usual uniform or even his traditional Andorian clothing, the loose garments felt weird to Shall and he was constantly fighting the urge to pick at the trousers almost hidden under the robe-like top that draped over them.  The cut just wasn't quite right, probably something to do with some subtle differences in proportions between the native Aldeans (which the computer said this outfit was similar in style to), and his own people.  At least the colors worked with his blue skin: the darker grey fabric contrasted nicely with his flesh with the white and black accents providing some nice lines for the eye to follow.  It's a shame the courier didn't care all that much about his looks, garish green robes barely fit over the Mazarite's paunch and did nothing but make his pale skin look more sickly.  Even the white streaks of hair gracing the sides of his head looked green.

"So good of you to come in person, so few are so trusting of their contractors these days." Ithalis repeated yet again and Shall's antenna curled away from the wet crunches of whatever it was the man was stuffing into his face by the handful.  "Believe me, you won't be disappointed with the venue!" he declared with a wave of his other hand towards the empty stage.  They were between shows for the moment so the only view they had was of the night-time cityscape outside of the floor-to-ceiling windows at the back of it.  The dark waters of the unlit river cut a swath through the city lights, boats of various sizes floating along it at their own speeds.

"Yes, it's a lot nicer that I would've imagined..." Shall agreed, out of politeness than anything else.  It could have been one of the grandest ballrooms on the planet and he wouldn't have cared, he was here for one thing only: getting his thei to Thonolan.  Ithalis's name came up on a search for independent couriers between Aldea and Federation space (theorizing that independents were much more likely to be able and willing to slip through the regular patrols and checkpoints), but at the moment the chan was wondering if he should continue his search.  "So about your ship, what kind of..." Shall got cut off with a drink of some kind suddenly pressed into his hands.

"Pleasure first, business later!" Ithalis practically roared between bouts of mouthy laughter.  "The show is about to start!"  Sure enough, the lights throughout the room started to dim and the mood ramped up in a way that Shall couldn't figure out.  Just what kind of pleasure was the courier talking about.  Out of the corner of his eye he saw the main door open just long enough to admit a single person right as the lights reached their dimmest.  A single heartbeat later spotlights illuminated the stage and the crowd fell silent.  Music started to play, a soft melody accompanied by a slow beat that reminded him of his own pulse.  Several anxious moments passed before something finally happened on stage: two females, one Aldean, one Trill ascended on either side from some stairs hidden backstage.  Moving with even, graceful steps they came together in harmony with the music, cloth flowing behind them in a breeze that didn't reach Shall's seat.

Curiosity starting to pique, Shall sipped the drink he'd been given and kept his attention on the pair.  The dancers had reached each other now and reached out to caress the other's cheek.  Staring into her partner's eyes, the Trill leaned close for a gentle kiss, pulling her close.  In a flash some cloth fell to the stage and the Andorian's eyes grew in surprise.  Just what kind of a show did Ithalis bring him to?  Turning to ask he thought better of it, the Mazerite was watching in rapt attention, the fistful of nuts effectively forgotten.  Some motion on the side caught Shall's attention next and the blood drained from his face.  He only saw it for a moment, a safety light shone in just the right place to show a face that he did not expect to see.

Commander Ducote was here too, and he was making his way in Shall's direction.

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #1
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya

A large part of the Brazilian hybrid's afternoon had been spent trying to figure out a way to get away from the ship (and its berth) for a while. Forty-eight hours had not been enough time to get a good handle on the ship's running order, given the absolute state of it after the months-long pursuit by Starfleet, its ongoing integrations of rescued and rendezvoused crews, and an outgoing XO who was understandably less than helpful when it came to proper handover. He wanted to spend some time with Blue and see if he couldn't reconnect properly - without the pair of them being called apart every ten minutes with a new problem for the crew or the ship, depending who was wanted.

Ultimately, though, he also couldn't conscience a true vacation while there was so much to do aboard Thea, not when he was still playing catch-up as to what they'd gone through so far and the collected information on the parasites and what was known of them. Scant though a lot of it was. He'd found some compromise with the Aldean government that allowed him to scratch their back in exchange for a night away from the ship, which he could justify as 'work' while still granting Blue and him the temporary isolation he wanted. Now just to figure out how to tell her it's a working holiday..

In the meantime, there was another important errand to run. It had taken a while for the relevant security report to cross his desk - or rather, it had crossed his desk almost immediately after filing due to the fact that it involved a killed crew member, but Ducote true to his old habits was nowhere near his new office - but he knew there was no way he could leave this particular group of people to their own devices for too long.

One of them was family.

All crew were required to log their visits and intended purposes when leaving the ship - partly to keep tabs on them, but mostly for security - so it hadn't taken Ducote long to track down the surviving members of the forced bond group. The Security Deputy refused to be drawn, pointing him merely at her report already filed, and he had known better than to press. He had simply let Ida know that she could contact him at any time if she wanted to, and left her to it. Shar had gone to ground and seemed to be actively avoiding him... truthfully, that worried him less than it might have in other officers. She'd mostly preferred her own company on the Endeavour, too, though he'd catch up with her sooner rather than later in this instance. That left Irnashall ch'Xinya, down on the surface to arrange a courier.

Their thei was going to Andoria.

The ledger suggested that Shall was on this one alone, which didn't thrill Ducote too much, but he did have to admit that this was a very personal thing for him to have to do. He anticipated a somewhat awkward introduction this evening, but the XO didn't plan on letting this go down without a witness, at least. ch'Xinya didn't appear daft enough to have taken the thei with him, though from what he understood its stasis unit was at least portable. If this was a first meeting, though, bringing an object of such value would be unwise in the extreme.

Ducote was armed, of course, despite his mandated Aldean garb and cover identity. His habitual type-I was tucked away in his belt, just in case, one of the little outward displays of his long-trained paranoia. It went everywhere with him; better to have and not need, than the other way around.

Entering the club, an atmosphere soaked into him that was immediately familiar from many similar establishments on the frontier station that was Starbase 157. Not the classiest place, though popular enough, and judging by the fuzziness leaking into the edges of his consciousness, fairly free with the psychoactives and narcotics. He snagged a glass of something clear and amber-coloured from a passing waiter, sniffing it experimentally as he meandered between the tables. Altaran gin, maybe.

It didn't take long to spot the powerfully-built Andorian a few rows back from the stage, next to a Mazerite; presumably the courier. But the lights dropped, heralding the start of a show, and the layout of the stage and tables made a belated sort of sense. The 'spa' suited its namesake, apparently. Shall turned and spotted him, though right at the same moment Ducote got his adapting vision dazzled again by a reflected spot of light, so couldn't read the ensign's expression. In the muddle of so many minds, he couldn't pick out the unfamiliar scientist to divine it that way, either.

There was an unoccupied seat at the table behind ch'Xinya's, which he took without disturbing the rapt Mazerite's attention. ch'Xinya himself was very aware of him, but he had no intention of interrupting these proceedings. He was merely here to check in on his charge... and off-ship, with little to no monitoring possible by Thea or their crewmates, they could be quite discreet enough.

Ducote pretended to sip his drink, for all the world appearing to watch the show along with everyone else. Meanwhile, he'd indulge his old habits and watch the exits, and keep a mental ear on the man ch'Xinya had come to meet.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #2
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Shall forced himself to put Ducote's surprise presence out of his mind, if Ithalis caught wind that he was being tailed (Shall just could not believe that it was a coincidence that one of the most senior officers on the Theurgy just happened to go to the same lounge as him at the same time), he might bolt.  If the Mazarite thought that his potential client had backup he might get scared and run.  As much as the Andorian was getting disgusted at the courier's eating habits, for the moment he was the best bet at getting his thei to safety.  He tried to force his antenna to sit still but the damn thing had a mind of its own as usual, lashing around in frustration it betrayed his mood with perfect accuracy.  It was a good thing the stage was starting to become quite the distraction.

Sipping his drink every so often, Shall's attention kept bouncing between the two women on display before them and Ithalis next to him whenever he thought he could steal a glance.  If the portly pinkskin had noticed Ducote's arrival and thought it relevant he showed no sign of it, as far as Shall could tell the man's eyes were glued onto the stage like a bird of prey watching a rodent.  Willing himself to relax, Shall took a longer pull as he settled a bit more into the overstuffed couch.  The stuffing managed to dampen the musical beats that reverberated throughout the hall, some form of drum was keeping a beat that was remarkably similar to a heartbeat, underlying a melody that the dancers used to guide their steps.

Flitting around each other, the two women never drifted more than a few steps away from each other.  Tight twirls sent the loose outfits they wore billowing behind them, ribbon-like extensions from their arms tracing trajectories through the air, long hair cascading around their faces like living waterfalls, and every time they came back together they embraced in different ways, sometimes an arm clasp, other times one took the other by the torso for a dip, or lift, or a combined spin.  The only constant throughout the dance was that whenever they came into contact another piece of their outfits fluttered to the ground.

Several minutes into it, Shall was beginning to forget about what was around him.  His antenna had finally calmed, instead it was writhing close to his hair with growing excitement.  The music had slowly, but steadily picked up in tempo, the drumbeat thumping ever faster.  All eyes were on the two on stage, the split passes growing shorter and shorter.  The Trill was showing almost all of her spots from temple to toes with just some dark blue cloth wrapped around her chest and a cloth draped between her legs remaining, her Aldean partner down to something resembling a dancing smock: skin hugging above the waist morphing into a billowing short skirt just above her ample hips, colors mixed and blended in a way to accentuate the flesh hidden by the cloth.  They came together after barely a step apart, the Aldean wrapping her arms around her Trill partner from behind to cross in front of her stomach and rest her hands on the opposing hips, biceps framing the blue-clad bust.  At the same time the Trill's hands reached up to cup behind the taller woman's head.  The drum reached a fever pitch and a flute broke through the melody as if it were a whistle.

The drum suddenly stopped with every other instrument save some low-level strings that began to play a building pitch as the Trill tilted her head to the side and pulled her partner's face to her neck.  The Aldean nuzzled it passionately while the other closed her eyes in pleasure, a small gasp escaping her lips, too soft to be heard by the enraptured audience.  The cloth draped between her legs rippled as hands slipped between her hips and the thin strips tying it in place.  Ithalis leaned forward eagerly, eyes almost bulging at the promise of what was to come.  The women stood there like that for a relative eternity with the strings unceasingly building without pause.  The longer it went the more Shall found himself being pulled forward to match his host, the pressure between his own legs building.

All at once the drums hit a single booming thump right as the cloth fell.  The hall was suddenly drowned in silence as the Trill was exposed to everyone present.  Several breathless moments passed before the kiss finally broke and both dancers gave slight bows to their audience.  Ithalis jumped to his feet in applause a half-step behind the first wave.  Shall remained seated while applauding, he felt shockingly dizzy.  "Absolutely marvelous aren't they?" the Mazarite asked over the din, his attention returning to the Andorian now that the Aldean dancer was leading her parter off stage, hand in hand.  "I've never seen a dance like that before." Shall agreed, a bit unsure of what to say due to the way his brain didn't seem to want to fully reboot.  Quickly finishing off the remainder of his drink he finally stood.  "Is this the time to talk business now?" he insisted.

Ithalis started to scoff but caught himself just in time.  "Yes, yes, of course.  I've arranged for a private room where we can discuss your request.  It should be ready by now."  He almost sounded dismissive to Shall, but he didn't think anything of it.  "The staff will show us to it."

An idea came to Shall and he held up his now-empty glass.  "Can I join you there in a minute?  I'm afraid I need to visit the facilities first." he implied, giving the glass a small shake with a knowing look.  "Ah...by all means.  Don't take too long though, this is a meeting I've been looking forward to." Ithalis croaked with laughter and a meaty slap on Shall's shoulder before wandering towards the main door.

Watching the courier depart before turning to the table behind his chair, Shall's expression quickly changed to one of annoyed confusion.  "What are you doing here?"

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #3
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya

The dance went on. Ducote found himself less interested in it than he might otherwise be - the two on stage were of course beautiful, and skilled dancers. But he had been in dozens of clubs like this during his career, with similar entertainments, and their draw had worn off over time. He busied himself instead watching the other staff - the servers, the shot-girls, the bouncers lurking in the shadows along most of the walls. There did seem to be a lot of them... perhaps this place saw trouble often?

More likely that they had a reputation of little trouble to maintain, and so overpopulated the enforcers to be overt about it. A place like this would probably have a decent surveillance suite anyway. Well, that's what the cover identities are for. His career paranoia aside, the atmosphere was actually pretty comfortable besides the seediness his own cynicism forced him to read into his surroundings.

The dance concluded to a suitable climax, and the clientele rose to their feet in applause. Ducote contented himself with an actual sip of the spirit in his glass, remaining in his seat. Passable. He could probably enjoy several of them, had he the time or inclination.

As the celebration died down, ch'Xinya's companion departed for the back rooms, and the Andorian himself waited barely a moment before spinning in his seat. "What are you doing here?"

Ducote leaned forward, so that he wouldn't have to raise his voice too much, and replied, "I came to talk to you about what happened. We haven't met, but-" he nearly said Shar's name before preventing himself, "-the shen was one of my crew before, and she may as well be family. What matters to her, matters to me." He sipped his gin, appreciating the alcohol burn quite distinct from the synthehol approximation.

The XO took a moment to study the man's face. By all accounts, Shall had been through a lot recently - the flight of the Theurgy in general notwithstanding - and he couldn't help but try and find it in his features. An old habit, he supposed. He was suspicious (fairly so) and confused as to why he'd be here at all.

My kingdom for the ability to skip ahead to a time when all the groundwork has been laid and these people can trust me.

The hybrid lowered his glass, and sighed. "Listen, I'm on your side. I'm not convinced this-" he gestured at the club, "- is the right way to go, but I will help you find a way to get your... cargo home. I only want to talk to you about it."

He glanced at the door through which the Mazerite had disappeared, jutting his chin towards it. "You better follow him before he loses interest. I'll be here. Shout if you need help."
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #4
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Shall's mood improved slightly when Ducote explained that he was just here to help.  His attentive antenna drooped a bit in relaxation and his posture softened.  The Andorian wasn't sure why he was so snappish about the new First Officer's sudden appearance, maybe he was a bit more on edge than he realized.  When the human expressed his concern about this particular route for getting his thei to Shar's family he nodded automatically.  Ithalis may be considered a reliable courier (for the underground), but something about this meeting was off-putting to Shall.  He was no saint, but "spas" were far from his usual entertainment choices.

"I'm starting to think you're right, but I have to try."  Shall's tone sounded like he was trying to convince himself as well as Ducote.  A server walked by and his blue hand deposited the empty glass he was still holding.  "How long will you be staying?  I don't know how fast I can extricate myself from Ithalis's attention if things go wrong."

Once he got the answer Shall nodded in thanks and followed the man's advice and didn't dawdle after the Mazerite.  The heavy-set courier was nowhere to be found in the atrium, though an Aldean staffer was quick to the Andorian's side.  "Your companion asked that I show you to your room as soon as you were ready sir."  He gestured to one of the branching corridors.  "If you are ready?"  Shall nodded and followed the man, his nerves growing every few meters.  Something just felt off by this and he couldn't figure out why.  Stopping at what almost looked like a random door his Aldean guide turned with the ever-present smile.  "Enjoy your stay sir.  If you need anything do not hesitate to call."  Returning the smile as best he could Shall took a brief moment to fluff his hair slightly, straightening out a few locks that had started to tangle.  It was a stalling tactic of course, the chan drew on his inner strength to try to calm himself down.

Ready at last, Shall stepped into the door sensor's range and it opened for him automatically, the system having logged him as an authorized visitor.  Stopping inside he looked around in amazement.  The decor was far from gaudy (Jay had shared some horror stories about some of the "establishments" her coworkers sometimes frequented while not on the construction sites), it was even a bit tasteful.  Off-white curtains framed a large window that showed all the hallmarks of a physical privacy coating, plush carpeting of a similar shade muffled sounds and felt soft even through the slippers he was wearing.  The furniture was all wood (or at least made to look like wood) in a contemporary style, with the large bed the clear centerpiece.  It was certainly inviting, and while it wouldn't exactly be completely comfortable for Shall and all three of his bondmates to sleep together in, the size wouldn't have stopped them from trying.

Ithalis stood in front of a service credenza, putting the final touches on a pair of drink glasses.  "Excellent timing Cha Professor."  Shall's cover identity marked him as an archeology professor currently on sabbatical from one of Andoria's lesser-known universities, something he had to remember before correcting his host.  The Mazerite returned a large bottle and took up two tumblers filled with a finger or two of some amber colored liquid.  "Tarkalean brandy." he explained, handing one over to Shall.  "Should have just enough kick for what's next."  Shall's antenna curled towards the glass when he gave it an experimental sniff.  "Are you trying to get me drunk before we negotiate price?" he asked in jest, which was answered with a bellowing laugh.  "Of course not Mr. Thelev.  The brandy is for this!"  Ithalis clapped twice and gestured towards one of the soft chairs.  Sipping the brandy carefully Shall played along.  His stomach was twisting into knots and his antenna squirmed with it.  He had a bad feeling about what was about to happen.

To his surprise, a hidden door slid open opposite of the bed and the last two people he expected to see practically floated in.  Smiles still on their faces the two dancers from earlier strode in, outfits flowing behind them.  The Trill wore her raven hair bunched slackly behind her, the gentle curls blending into the dark grey dress that was loosely wrapped around her torso.  Every step brought the majority of her leg out from under the unbelievably loose skirt reminding everyone that those spots go all the way.  Her Aldea parter light up the room in her cardinal red slip dress that left absolutely nothing to the imagination.  "Hello my dears." Ithalis beamed, holding out an arm towards the pair.  The Aldean beauty quickly jumped into the embrace with a giggle of delight.  "I wondered when you'd return." she purred, hands already pawing at his chest.

"Oh where are my manners.  Orphia, Runia, this is my new friend Thelev."  Ithalis motioned to Shall and both women gave him welcoming smiles.  The lump in his blue neck bobbed up and down and he quickly took another sip of the brandy in a futile attempt to calm his surging nerves.  That was all the time the Trill, Runia, needed to close the distance between them.  "I think your friend is a bit shy." she teases, pulling the now-empty glass out of his hand without struggle.  Setting it on the table first she practically flows into Shall's lap, her luscious rear settling between his legs and her own draped over his right leg.  Soft hands wrapped around his neck for support and he found himself staring into eyes so blue they reminded him of Andoria's sky.  "First time?" she whispered into his ear a moment later, lips nuzzling the side of is neck.

"N-no..." the chan stammered while her hands started to caress the back of his neck and play with his hair.  Above the both of them his antenna started to writhe on its own betraying him if Ithalis or Orphia knew what it meant.  Runia didn't need such a clue though, his groin was already starting to stir awake at her mere presence.  Unsure of what to do, Shall just sat there in mild shock while Runia nuzzled and kissed his neck in various places.  Over by the credenza Orphia was moving much faster.  She'd gotten her hands under Ithalis's robe and was doing something he couldn't quite see but the Mazerite was clearly enjoying it.

Runia pulled back to give her current partner a sultry smile.  "It's ok, I know you won't hurt me unless you want to."  Her hands shifted to his shoulders so that she could use the leverage to shift.  Swiveling around to face away from the Andorian, the Trill pressed her back into his chest and gently placed the curve of her rear right against his groin.  Grabbing his open hands she wrapped them around herself, just underneath her bust.  Blue flesh pimpled at the touch, even through the cloth those orbs were like electricity.  She started to hum, a surprisingly deep pitch echoing through her chest as her hips started to gyrate.  Both cheeks would press deep into his groin in perfect position to squeeze his rapidly enlarging member between them.  Spotted legs planted themselves on the floor on either side of him giving the Trill the leverage needed to knead up and down just enough to drive him crazy.  Shall could feel the way her stomach muscles shifted as she moved, a rippling motion that was sensual all on their own.

Losing himself in the moment Shall's eyes closed as he started to relax at last.  Sensing that her ministrations were working Runia leg go of his arms and planted her hands on his knees for extra leverage as the dance started to build in intensity.  Acting on their own, Shall's left hand snaked up to grasp the opposing breast, answered with a pleased gasp.  His right snaked further across her abdomen seeking out the tie that held her dress together.  Before he could do so though, Shall started to reach his first peak and memories started to flood his vision.  A face appeared in his mind's eye: dark blue with short white hair cut in a wild style meant to shock the traditionalists.  Her eyes were screwed shut in ecstasy and a name screamed wordlessly out of her lips.

Shocked out of the moment Shall's eyes snapped open and the tension returned with a vengeance.  Realizing the state he's in he quickly let go of the Trill woman's chest and placed his hands on hers.  "Stop, stop please."  Caught off guard, Runia was still professional enough not to question her client.  "Did I hurt you?" she asked, shifting off of his groin.

"No, you were as gentle as a spring snowfall." he tried to reassure her but the words were spilling out of his mouth in a jumble.  Taking advantage of her shifting forward he guided her off of him and he quickly stood, helping her to her feet so that she wasn't unceremoniously dumped to the floor.  The sudden motion caught Ithalis and Orphia's attention and they paused with their coupling as well.  "Is she not to your liking?" the Mazerite asked without a trace of his usual joviality.

"I can't do this, I'm sorry." Shall started to apologize.  "You are beyond lovely Runia." she addressed the dancer who was vacillating between shock, concern, and the pouting that comes with rejection.  "Thank you for your generosity Ithalis, but you're the wrong person for the job I have.  Send me a bill for what I owe and you will have your payment by morning." he finished and quickly left the room, ignoring the now red-faced courier and the shouting.

Walking to the atrium as fast as he could Shall grabbed the first seat at the bar and flagged the bartender.  "The strongest you have." he ordered and a shot glass filled with a deep blue Andorian ale that reeked of intoxicants was placed in front of him moments later.  He downed it all in one toss and signaled for another.  Under his robes the shakes had begun, and he sat there trying to figure out how he nearly got into yet another mess like this.
  • Last Edit: November 15, 2019, 04:13:05 AM by chXinya

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #5
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya

As the ensign was led away through the doors to the back area, Ducote left their table behind and headed back to the bar. He left his stolen gin behind, wanting something a little lighter in order to maintain a clear head - until ch'Xinya was back out, he didn't want to risk being close enough to help (if something were to go wrong) but too impaired to be of any use. He spent the time watching the staff and patrons.

The workers here were all, without exception, lovely. Even the muscle, the burly folk hired to stand imposingly (if discreetly) by the doors in just-prominent-enough positions, were all chiselled and symmetrical. It was a little uncanny, in some ways.

"What can I do for you?" the barman purred. Ducote smiled politely, very glad Blue wasn't here to see him.

"Synthale will do nicely, please."

"You sure you don't want anything any more... exciting?" he asked, blandly, but with enough of an edge that it made Ducote pause - empathy or no, he couldn't quite tell what exactly the barman was asking.

"... Synthale's fine," he confirmed. The barman grinned and moved off.

Ducote turned back towards the room proper, leaning back on the bar and resting his elbows on its edge. Roving servers with trays of shots and exotic-looking foodstuffs wended their way between the tables, while other members of staff smoothly draped themselves over the willing clientele. More than one was led away to the back, where the spa plied the rest of its services.

Lots of employees out here compared to customers... he mused. Must be expensive to run. How on Earth did he find this place of all places to try and conduct business?

A frothing mug was placed at his elbow. Ducote nodded back at the barman as he reached for it, then took a long draught. He'd never had a beer like it, but it wasn't offensive and he didn't immediately keel over. Nor did he detect any obvious pharmaceutical... enhancement in there either. He decided it would do.

In the end, it didn't take long for the Andorian to come back out of those doors. He didn't seem happy, though as he got closer, Ducote's empathic impression got stronger too. There was discomfort there, certainly, but also embarrassment and some adrenaline. He wasted no time ordering from the top shelf. The hybrid sighed, and drained his own mug. He obtained another before walking down the bar to where ch'Xinya had fetched up.

"Strike out?" he asked rhetorically, slipping onto the barstool next to the bulky blueskin and placing his glass down on the surface.

He lowered his voice a little, before asking, "The reports were one thing, but they don't cover everything. How are you, after what happened?"
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #6
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Shall didn't even bother to look up from the empty shot glass when Ducote dropped into the stool beside him.  He knew the man had been keeping an eye on him, ready to help if needed, but a part him didn't want that help right now.  His cheeks were flushed a deep, dark blue, either from the embarrassment, the booze, or both.  "No." he answered almost too quickly.  "....and yes." the chan added gradually.  A blue hand wrapped itself around the new glass when it arrived, but he didn't drink it right away this time: Ducote's next question froze the Andorian in his seat.

The lone antenna buried itself into his hair and wormed against his scalp as some memories came flooding back in an instant.  The oppressive heat weighing him down, the drugs driving him insane, twisted memories of his own bondmates urging him on...  Then there was their return to the ship, Shar confirming that the Savi were right about their genetic compatibility, Sehl going insane and trying to force a new bond on them, Ida shutting both of them out despite their saving her from the fate she didn't want.  How was he?

"I'm fine." Shall finally answered and knocked back the ale.  "Didn't work out, he's more concerned about his own pleasure first.  He probably would've done the job but not in a timetable that would be mutually agreeable."  Looking around at the decor for a few moments the chan sighed in resignation.  "By Lor'vela how am I supposed to pay for my portion if he sends that bill..."

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #7
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya

"I'm fine," the ensign said.

And I'm the President of the Federation Council.

There was a tumult inside the Andorian's head, betrayed by his remaining antenna even before he needed his empathy. It had perhaps been blunt to just out and ask like that, but Ducote didn't see the point in beating about the bush. ch'Xinya knew what he was here for... and this bar was beginning to make the hybrid's skin itch.

Despite the obvious fact that the injured ensign was not fine, there was a difference between being under strain and being unable to cope with it. If nothing else had been proven by their months-long flight from the entire Fleet, the Theurgy crew were a resilient lot. Of course, he'd rather that ch'Xinya give him more of a clue than the obvious brush-off, but he wasn't about to insist. The least he could do, until given evidence to the contrary, was give the man the benefit of the doubt.

ch'Xinya changed the subject.

"Didn't work out, he's more concerned about his own pleasure first. He probably would've done the job but not in a timetable that would be mutually agreeable. By Lor'vela how am I supposed to pay for my portion if he sends that bill..."

"Let him pay it," Ducote shrugged. "Not as if he can find you later. Business deals fall through all the time, right?"

He took a swig of his beer before glancing at ch'Xinya again, keeping his voice low. "Do the others know this was the plan? There's a shuttle headed-" he stopped himself, given where they were right now. "There's a shuttle leaving in a few days with some others who don't feel they can stay."

Support would always be available. That's what crews were for.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #8
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Shall's eyes nearly bugged out of his head at Ducote's news about the shuttle and he sat up so fast that the now-empty shot glass flew across the counter with a clatter.  "A shuttle?!" he bellowed without thinking.  Blushing in embarrassment again he glanced to see if anyone was now focused on them but thankfully no one was.  Lowering his voice and hunching closer to his superior Shall tried to recover from the shock.  "Does Sha....does she know?"

It didn't matter what the other man's answer was, any of them was devastating.  Cold, heavy mountains of guilt dropped onto Shall's gut as his conversation with Shar flew back into his mind, just as clearly as he heard his bondmates.  "She was ready and willing to take him to her home, and I convinced her to stay.  I practically pleaded with her.  I can't help but think that if they ever made the connection between your ship and ours then anyone who was on it would be in danger." he confessed, staring directly into those black Betazoid eyes, but not exactly paying attention to them.  Another favorite line of Shar's echoed in his ears and Shall's guilt quickly turned into embarrassed shame.  "She's right, I am a bouf..."

A soft hand suddenly appeared on his shoulder, a light touch meant for comfort.  Completely lost in his internal strife Shall was completely unprepared and literally jumped in surprise.  Turning around and ready to fight off an attacker the Andorian was caught off guard when he was greeted with a face he never thought he'd see again.  Watching him try to regain his composure, Runia's blue eyes were filled with sad concern.  "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you..." Still draped in the loose grey dress she wore in their room the dancer had the eyes of almost everyone present.  Moving slowly she reached out to take Shall's hand in her own as she settled into the stool next to him.  "Are you a friend of Thelev's?" she asked Ducote, a reassuring smile gracing her face.  "I'm Runia.  I could tell something was bothering him and I wanted to see if I could help."

Shall's face had resumed its dark blue blush and he found himself without words for once in his life.

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #9
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya 

"A shuttle?!"

Ducote caught the rolling shot glass before it could fly off the edge of the bar and shatter, waving the man to be quieter with his other hand. Luckily - and betraying the sort of place this actually was compared to what it presented - no one seemed to care.

"No, she doesn't know yet," he answered. "We're still figuring out the logistics."

"She was ready and willing to take him to her home, and I convinced her to stay. I practically pleaded with her. I can't help but think that if they ever made the connection between your ship and ours then anyone who was on it would be in danger."

The XO nodded, studying his beer for a moment. Shar was still evading his requests to meet, and she was notoriously hard to pin down at her quarters or work hubs at the best of times. If Shall had done his work for him to keep her around, then he was very grateful to the man. For all her interpersonal prickliness, she was another excellent technical officer and Ducote was happy she had survived their ordeal.

"She's right, I am a bouf-" A what?

One of the dancers from before appeared behind them, placing a hand on the Andorian's shoulder. Was this what the Mazerite had taken him to? No wonder the ensign was flustered if they'd been talking about different deals the entire time. Ducote noticed in the background that they were now the focus of a lot of attention, though mostly because of the young woman's presence more than anything. Still, it made his skin itch.

"Are you a friend of Thelev's?"

"I am," he confirmed with a polite nod, though he declined to elaborate further or offer his cover name.

"I'm Runia. I could tell something was bothering him and I wanted to see if I could help."

"It's a pleasure, miss..." Ducote glanced at the now-silent ch'Xinya, wondering how best to deal with the current situation. Probably, at this point, by just getting them both out of there. "But I think we're fine. Just been a stressful time lately, you know? We'll probably get another drink or two here and then head home. Right?" he finished, eyebrows raised for confirmation from 'Thelev'.
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #10
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Completely caught up in Runia's surprising appearance Shall was speechless as she took the seat next to him, her lovely pink hand in his blue.  She spoke with Ducote for a few moments before returning her attention to him and it was several seconds before he realized that they were both waiting for an answer.  Shaking his cerulean blush away he searched his short-term memory for what the other two had said while he was zoned out.  "Ah, yes...just one more then we have to go."

Shall's hand squeezed Runia's in an apologetic way.  "Unfortunately my compatriot arrived to collect me, something has come up that requires my attention back at the university."  He hated lying, but there was no way he could divulge what they were really doing here, not just in this "spa" but on Aldea Prime in general.  If the Trill could tell he was lying to her face she didn't make any sign of it.  "I understand, work seldom lets us alone these days."  She adopted a sad tone and gave the Andorian's hand a final reassuring squeeze.  "If you have the time for that last drink it's on me." she gave the bartender a quick side look and he nodded, "I wish you well Thelev, know that you'll always be welcome here."  And with that, Runia floated off of the stool and disappeared down the corridor to her next appointment.

Watching her back until she was out of sight, Shall finally exhaled.  "By Uzaveh, what is a woman like that doing here?"  The bartender was ready with the bottle of ale and a fresh tumbler, he held both up in a wordless question which the chan answered with a nod.  "Want one of your own?" he asked Ducote.

As soon as the drinks were poured and they were left alone once again, Shall sighed and gave the Blue Wave Spa one last look.  It had all the trappings of an elegant pleasure house meant for those with fancy tastes, but now that his mind was free from many of the earlier burdens (at least for the moment) his rational, scientific mind could see the cracks in the facade.  Cheap materials betrayed the real cost of the furniture and wall adornments, the people hanging around just didn't quite seem like those who populated the high life outside of the Federation's moneyless society.  It didn't smell like a Klingon whorehouse at least, but that was only because of all the cheap perfumes wafting through the air ducts.

Slamming back the final dose of ale Shall grimaced as it burned down his throat.  At least the booze was good.  "Lets get out of here, I need a safe place to talk."

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #11
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Blue Wave Spa | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya

Ducote honestly wasn't sure what to make of the dancer. He couldn't tell if her sympathies were genuine or just part of the... atmosphere here. Her offer of a free round could hardly be refused, though.

"By Uzaveh, what is a woman like that doing here?"

"What indeed..." he agreed, before asking for another synthale. "She may well just enjoy it."

As the bartender placed the drinks before them, Ducote made some small talk about the weather and the orbital traffic in the name of keeping up appearances - but was gratified to sense the Andorian's keel beginning to level out. God alone knew what had happened back there, but ch'Xinya's face had at least returned to its usual hue. The XO certainly made most of the conversation, but he hardly minded. He'd played tougher characters in his career, and he didn't have to keep it up for long - they both finished their drinks in short order.

"Let's get out of here; I need a safe place to talk."

"Lead on," he gestured, standing and heading for the door.

As they reached the exit, he caught the Mazerite trader reentering the main room from the corner of his eye. The merchant looked around the bar, but between the lighting and their distant position - or perhaps a lack of interest at all - they weren't spotted. For an instant, Ducote worried that the doorman was going to stop them from leaving, but other than a sidelong look on the way past, there was no obstacle between them and the outside air.

They walked back towards the city, at a reasonably slow pace. Quick enough that it would be tough to tail them (if anyone were inclined) but not so fast that they looked to be in a hurry. "One of the Ovri is taking their egg home," he informed ch'Xinya quietly. "There's room for others - like the passengers," he euphemised, talking about the various civilians who had been given the option of leaving the ship while they had the opportunity.

"Other cargoes, too."
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #12
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Outside for the first time in a while, the fuzziness in Shall's head cleared after just a few breaths of the moist air that dominated the riverfront.  The robes didn't seem to fit so poorly anymore, and if the Andorian was truly honest with himself, it felt good to have his legs moving again.  Maybe it wasn't just perfume they were pumping through those air vents... he wondered.  He and Ducote were walking in silence for the moment and his mind was running a kilometer a second as he thought back over the past hour.  Once they'd gotten some distance from the Blue Wave Ducote filled in some of the details about the departing shuttle.  Shall wasn't surprised that the Ovri egg was leaving, what little he knew about their biology was enough to suggest that trying to incubate it on a ship would be a nightmare.

As for the "other cargoes", there was just one thing the human could've been referring to.  "I can't see her letting it go, not without leaving with it."  Shall stopped by a bench and took a moment to cement his thoughts.  Blue hands grasped the back and his eyes studied the chaotic pattern of lights lining the riverbanks in front of them.  "It's almost funny.  Each of our bondmates would be well within their rights to disown all four of us for producing an offspring outside of those bonds.  By all respects Shar should've expelled it, all of us moving on and begging our zhens for forgiveness they'd have no reason to grant."

Shall went quiet for another moment then sagged as the one thing he'd been avoiding for months came crashing down onto his soul.  "I miss my mates Commander..."  He blinked rapidly, futilely trying to keep the tears from running.  "Just one hour later and I'd be with them right now.  Or if I'd been just a bit faster in leaving, and none of this would have happened..."

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #13
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya 

"I can't see her letting it go, not without leaving with it."

Threading through the patchy crowd, Ducote had to give him credit. Despite the relatively short time he'd known Shar, Shall clearly had a decent measure of her. "I'm inclined to agree, honestly," he agreed. He simply listened through Shall's comment on bond group politics; he hardly had any first-hand knowledge, so just nodded along. Interesting that cultural taboos overrode even the very strong possibility that one's species was on the decline - not for generations yet, of course, which left plenty of room for a scientific hail-Mary to be found that might reverse the trend...

But still. Culture was culture for a reason. The Catholic in him was very much a monogamist, even if his Betazoid half had zero time for that sort of self-imposed guilt. He wasn't about to try and argue with a literal Andorian (by accident or otherwise) on their practises. Barely figure my own out at the best of times.

"I miss my mates, Commander. Just one hour later and I'd be with them right now. Or if I'd been just a bit faster in leaving, and none of this would have happened..."

It didn't take an empath to see the weight of that isolation drag on him. Ducote knew the pain well, though wasn't nearly crass enough to start talking about his own problems there. He had after all given up a great deal himself very recently in that exact regard. But there was a difference between choosing it, like he had, and having had it forced upon you, as Shall had. Ducote reached out a hand to the man's shoulder, an unconscious gesture of support.

"You'll see them again; believe it," he said, his damaged voice paradoxically roughened by its softer tone. "Hope is why we're all here."
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #14
[Ens. Irnashall "Shall" ch'Xinya | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime] attn: @Top Hat

Shall bit back a scoff, hopefully it came out more like an aborted sneeze.  "Hope..."  He shook his head and pushed off of the bench, standing up to his full height.  "Forgive me if I say that's something that's been in limited supply of late.  Every time it seems like we get a step ahead we're either pushed three back, or it costs us far too much."  Before he could go any further a horn sounded from a boat floating its way down the river.  The sound caught the Andorian's attention and he watched it for a few moments, eyes trained to pick out the smallest of details from an astronomical survey now saw numerous couples, most of them of clear advanced age, mingling with smiles and numerous forms of revelry.  For a moment he could see a quartet of elderly blue-skinned people dancing the night away.

"But..."  Shall blinked away the vision and turned towards the human.  "At the very least I can take some time for myself, regain that sense of balance that I've lost."  For once, a small smile graced the chan's face, a new resolve growing somewhere inside him.  Gesturing back down the path he took Ducote's pace, hands clasping behind his back in a relaxing manner.  "So tell me Commander, what's the news from home?"

Re: Day 02 [2115 hrs.] Unintended Baggage
Reply #15
[ Cmdr Ranaan Ducote | Ibai Besi Promenade | Aldea Prime ] attn: @chXinya 

Ducote was gratified that his words had the desired effect. He was new here - worse than new, really - but that didn't mean he hadn't thrown himself at his duties with anything less than the dedication he had aboard the Endeavour. It didn't take an empath to see that it was going to take more than restored holodeck privileges to smooth out the crew's wrinkles - it was going to take a lot of little interactions like this one, from top to bottom.

Depending how long this layover at Aldea lasted, they might even find themselves with enough bandwidth to do it.

"... At the very least I can take some time for myself, regain that sense of balance that I've lost."

"I'm sure I can impress upon Ms Martin that you can be excused of your duties for a while..." he said with a feigned ponderance, glancing at Shall and returning the smile.

"So tell me, Commander; what's the news from home?"

The XO took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as he thought. His first impulse was to shrug it off with an 'oh, I'm at least a couple of weeks out of date'... but that was still miles better than anyone aboard the Theurgy could claim, at least until (and if) they got any new replacements and updates from the scant allies they could muster back in the Federation. But what could he say? The stress of his flight through the nebula, the trauma of the Endeavour's destruction... everything since the arrival on the Theurgy. It had almost all gone from his head.

"Not a great deal, I'm afraid... The keels of a new Sovereign squadron have been laid, the interplanetary ice hockey cup went to Vulcan this year - ah, sorry," he offered, not knowing if Shall even cared for the sport. A little presumptuous of him, in truth, to assume that an Adorian would at all just because they were Andorian. He moved on a little awkwardly. "The FNN is still keeping the Theurgy in the news cycle, making sure no one forgets that you- we're all traitors to the flag, and that Ives is a crazed megalomaniac with a sword."

Ducote trailed off, looking into the middle distance for a moment. "On the subject of 'hope', I'm not sure what's going to happen there once we're done. They're doing a grand old job of turning opinion firmly against us - I think it's going to take a lot of work to reverse that."

And that neatly buries the lede that we have to get there first.


~FIN
  • Last Edit: February 04, 2020, 10:29:05 PM by Top Hat
Nator 159: "I accept no responsibility for the ensign's manifest stupidity. Sir." [Show/Hide]
Ranaan Ducote: "A ship is a home; its crew a family." [Show/Hide]
T'Less: "Your odds of prevailing against us are... slim." [Show/Hide]
Valkra: "Come! We will shake the gates of Sto'Vo'Kor!" [Show/Hide]