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Topic: Day 06 [1745 hrs.] Victuals, Visitors and a View (Read 831 times) previous topic - next topic

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Day 06 [1745 hrs.] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Stardate  57572.01
16 March 2381

[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Corridors outside the Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Lieutenant Commander Cross sighed as he stepped out of the turbolift and into the corridors of Deck 20, tucking the PADD he had been perusing on the ride down from Deck 10 into his pocket. More reports, more inventories, more paperwork. And oh, how he hated paperwork. It came with the position, of course, and he'd had an idea of what he was getting into when he'd accepted Captian Ives' offer of the Chief Tactical Officer position five days previous, though it seemed that he had done little in the days since besides eat, sleep, and stare at a never ending onslaught of reports.

Perhaps that wasn't entirely true, of course. He had taken a day of leave planet side several days before, though it felt like a lifetime ago that he had been walking barefoot on the Aldean beaches. The memory brought a smile to his face as the doors of the Arboretum Café came into view down the corridor ahead. The café had quickly become a favourite haunt of his in the days since he had stumbled upon the little place overlooking the Theurgy's Arboretum. The Arboretum itself had become a place Cross had found himself frequenting regularly, the peace and tranquility of the lush greenery and still ponds seeming like a veritable paradise. Cross had always been fond of greenery, keeping several orchids aboard the Endeavour and, after their destruction along with the Endeavour at the hands of the Borg, he had obtained several aboard the Theurgy. Thus far the three plants were the only addition he had made to his quarters, aside from the Vulcan meditation lamp, though the lamp was functional rather than decorative. Thus, the vast green haven of the Arboretum exerted a continuous draw on him, seeming to pull him back.

The doors to the Arboretum Café hissed open at his approach, and Cross stepped into the café still wearing the hint of a smile, looking forward to a nice quiet meal against the backdrop of the Arboretum's greenery. He stopped and surveyed the café's interior, finding it sparsely populated, which suited him just fine. He had planned on eating alone, and the quieter atmosphere of a less populated café suited him perfectly, his hearing having become much more sensitive since his correction.

Cross was about to make for an empty table when he caught a glimpse of a face that was vaguely familiar to him, one he had seen several times over the past days aboard the Theurgy, though it belonged to someone with whom he hadn't become acquainted yet. While he was familiar with a good number of the Theurgy's senior staff, many of them having come from the Endeavour just as he had, he was not familiar with many of the Theurgy's previously serving officers. The dark brown hair framing the wide eyes and full lips of the ship's 2XO were unmistakable however, even to him, and the idea occurred to him of introducing himself to the ship's Ops Chief. He hesitated a moment, indecision preventing him from taking a step towards either the empty table or the gold shirted department head, the notion of a quiet meal spent alone and unbothered still calling to him. Cross cursed himself inwardly, realizing that his erratic emotional state apparently extended to uncertainty as well, and he found himself mentally cursing the Savi once again for what they had done to him. Opting to rebel against the uncertainty and hesitation he felt, he directed his course towards the table occupied by the senior officer.

As he wove his was between the tables of the café, Cross found himself wondering if he had made a mistake. He was hardly the most social of creatures, and he had no idea what to expect from the Lieutenant Commander currently occupying the table which he was making his way toward. It turned out to be too late for such doubts, however, as no sooner had they crossed his mind than he was stepping up to the table in question, the other officer raising her head as if to investigate the source of the shadow that had been cast across her table.

"Um, hello." Cross began weakly, giving the other officer an apologetic half-smile. "It's Lieutenant Commander..." The name took a moment to come to him. "Stark... isn't it?"

Smooth Cross, why don't you start stuttering as well? He chastised himself before he forced himself to continue. "I don't think we've been introduced yet. I'm Lieutenant Commander Cross. I came aboard from the, uh... Endeavour." He had been about to say the Versant, though he chose not to at the last moment, hoping to avoid the questions which could potentially arise form the knowledge for the time being. His appearance had be restored by way of cosmetic surgery once he had come aboard the Theurgy, and he was content for Commander Stark to believe him to be a hybrid for the moment. "Mind if I join you?"

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #1
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

Flavor exploded across her tongue, spice and warmth rolling down her throat. Swallowing, the Operations Officer let out a faint groan. Sure, it was a simple lentil soup, accompanied by a few wedge of pita bread and a glass of ice cold water. But it was just what she needed, and the spice mix was hitting her mouth just right. A wash of heat, burning her lips just a bit, leaving a tingle there as she leans back into her chair, resting the spoon on the rim of the orange bowl.

Eyes' shut, Natalie simply savored the moment. She hadn't had very many of them so far. Moments to relax. For most of the day, she'd been keyed up. Her friend was off ship, and her Captain was with her. Out in the beyond, making contact with someone from Starfleet. Either Ives and Vanya would come back with new allies, or....Or they won't come back. Dammit, Nat. 

The thoughts brought a frown to her face and she blew out a puff of air, opening her eyes and leaning forward, resting her elbows on the table. Taking up a sliver of the bread, she dipped it into the soup and brought the whole thing to her mouth, chewing on the morsel just as she chewed on her thoughts. The worry there wasn't just for Vanya or Captain Ives.  Unbidden, her gaze shifted to the PADD that sat on the table, still powered up, with the duty roster on display.

She had been working on a plan of attack for dealing with the raiders that she'd learned of the day prior. Among all the other tasks she had as the ships Second Officer, and the Chief of Operations. Backstopping Commander Ducote as he ran the ship in Ives stead. Of course, everything from yesterday sat poorly with her. M'Kish. Gorka. That fucking knife. Her face twisted into a nasty grimace and she tried to chase it away with a mouth full of water. To say the visit had left a bad taste in her mouth was an understatement. She was still worried about Lt. Douglas. The Klingon fighter pilot had been healed up, but all the same, the man had been stabbed and if he hadn't been faster, she would have been the one with inches of steel in her. And she wouldn't have been able to just walk it off like Khorin had.

Clinking the glass down on the table she pushed her chair back and forced herself to look out, into the Arboretum. The air in the cafe was heavier than out in the corridors, and full of the intermingled scents of a plethora of flowers. They kept the humidity up in the Arboretum, for the plants, and that seeped into the cafe, as the glass overlook didn't cut the room off entirely. Far form it, as some vines creepped up over the edge of the glass, and ran down along some of the columns. Pretty soon they're going to start setting the table aside for me. I've been here practically every night since we docked. 

She wished she had made more use of this place before everything had happened. Back during the mission to Romulus, this place would have been a welcome refuge. But she'd not really made her way to this section off duty. Natalie had spent most of her free time locked away in her room, tinkering and puttering. Alone. 

Yet now, here I am, going out of my way to eat in some place where others might be. Where they can see me. Part of that was a feeling that she needed - she was required - to be seen. More so even than as head of a department, her new position in the chain of command made her feel that she had to be more...present. More available to the crew she helped to lead. She held regular officer hours for the Ops staff, and was of course, always one call. But now she had to do that, for the whole crew. She had to support  scientists, tacticians, security guards, doctors, engineers, pilots, of all shapes and sizes. Not just her own grease monkey's down in the fighter bay, and her Ops techs crawling across the city sized ship.

Natalie had just taken another spoonful into her mouth when a shadow fell across her from the side. Blinking in confusion, she swallowed, and turned, spoon still in mouth to look up at the bald ...Bajoran? No, Vulcan?? Both? Surprise flashed across her face and she quickly swallowed and set the spoon aside. She hadn't realized they had any actual hybrid's left, though some of the abductees from the Versant had under gone some corrective surgery and been restored. She assumed that's what she was dealing with now, as the man introduced himself as coming from the Endeavour.

Everyone's come off that ship, these days
, she noted. Half the senior staff, including her immediate superior, was from the Endeavour. Or the Resolve. Stopping that line of thought in its tracks she scooted her chair back gestured to the one across from her. "By all means, Commander. Please, sit down. Oh, and yes, it is Stark. Natalie, since I'm off duty at the moment." Reaching out she took her PADD up off the table and tucked it away, blanking the screen in the process. 

"Congratulations on your promotion, by the way," she noted as the man settled into the chair across from her, remembering that he'd been bumped up in rank to equal her own when he'd been given the Department Head position. She tried to recall what she'd read about the new tactical chief. Which wasn't all that much.

He'd seemed competent enough and he'd passed the bridge officer test administered to him. Ducote seemed pleased, but then, why wouldn't he be? Tactical, Security, Medical and Engineering were all headed up by people he knew well, and whom respected him. As long as his loyalty lies with Captain Ives, so too does there's. It was the same with Marquez and the crew of the Resolve.

Looking back at the garden below, she smiled a bit, and turned. This is becoming something of a habit, Nat, she mused. Letting her head fall to one side she looked over at Cross and cocked an eyebrow. "How are you adjusting to the role?" And the Theurgy, she didn't quite say aloud.
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #2
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross was rather proud of himself. He imagined Seren, his damned Vulcan counsellor, would be moderately proud as well. When Commander Stark had initially looked up at him, her spoon still protruding from her mouth, he had managed to maintain his composure, keeping himself from chuckling at the sight. Well, perhaps not completely. His lips had compressed in an effort to hold back a grin, though that was the only outward sign he had shown of his amusement. Inside, meanwhile, he had been fit to burst. Perhaps Seren wouldn't be proud. Likely the pointy eared bastard would describe Cross' restraint as "almost adequate". Immediately following that thought, and for the umpteenth time, Cross reminded himself that he, too, was a pointy eared bastard now.

He pushed the thoughts from his mind as Stark confirmed that he had gotten her name right and bade him take a seat, gesturing to the seat opposite her. He was a bit surprised when she told him to call her Natalie, though he supposed it made sense since she was off duty at the moment. Cross replied with a smile and a nod of the head. "Natalie it is then,"

His smile broadened slightly as she congratulated him on his promotion, a slight green tint rising in his cheeks. He had never been one who took praise well, having always found it a somewhat strange and uncomfortable experience. Clearing his throat uncomfortably, he murmured a "thank you" before turning to see the server who approached the table. He glanced at Natalie, holding a hand out in a silent gesture to ask if she wanted anything before ordering a coffee and a falafel wrap for himself.

The server having departed, Cross watched the Ops chief as she glanced out at the Arboretum, a smile spreading over her features as she gazed out at the greenery which lay beyond the borders of the café, though in some places Cross could see the green tendrils of vines creeping their way up and into the café itself. It added a certain charm to the place in Cross' opinion, seeming to make the enchanting view of the garden beyond more immersive. As Cross looked on, Natalie tilted her head to one side, cocking an eyebrow as she ask how he was adjusting to his new role as CTO. He had just opened his mouth to answer when his coffee arrived, and he paused to utter his thanks before turning back to the table's other occupant. He glanced down at the table, where the steaming cup sat to his left. He raised his left hand and used the fingers of the metal prosthetic to slide the mug over to his right before lifting it in his organic hand, not trusting the prosthetic. He'd had too many mishaps with the artificial hand.

"I'm managing, slowly but surely." He replied, raising the mug though not yet drinking from it. "I was the tactical department head aboard the Endeavour as well, so I did have some idea of what I was getting myself into." A mischievous smile began to spread over his features, though he tried to hide it by choosing that moment to take his first sip of his drink. The smile remained as the cup moved away from his face, and his eyes took on the look one would expect from a child trying to downplay some offense they had committed. "Though I suppose I have to admit, the Theurgy might be a bit more sophisticated than a Nebula-Class Starship..." His look of mock innocence crumbled then as he let out a soft chuckle, giving Natalie a somewhat embarrassed smile as the faint hint of green returned to his neck and cheeks. "Forgive me. I'm not know for my sense of humour." Thankfully, the colour slowly dissipated as he continued. "Truthfully, the Theurgy has been the easier adjustment to make. The aftermath of the Versant had been a much more... onerous task."

Cross realized he was treading towards a topic which might not make for the best dinner conversation and cleared his throat softly before lifting his cup. He took another sip of his coffee and leaned back in his chair slightly.

"I suppose I ought to ask how you are adjusting as well." He reflected, giving Stark a wry smile. "It must be strange for you, having so many of the senior positions aboard your ship suddenly filled with officers which came from the Endeavour." That was an understatement. Cross imagined it would be somewhat nerve-racking if one were to be the anxious sort, with the Endeavour's former officers holding the tops positions in Security, Tactical and Engineering, among others. With Commander Ducote as XO, it could almost seem like a covert mutiny of sorts.

The fact that those positions had been vacant in the first place meant that someone Commander Stark had very likely known had probably been killed. Several someones, in fact. As the thought occurred to him, Cross hoped that his comment regarding the Endeavour crew hadn't stirred up painful memories in the other officer. He knew the crew of the Theurgy had been through hell since being declared traitors, and while he had looked over some of the reports, he also knew that he was not aware of the true scope of it.
  • Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 03:24:22 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #3
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

The ridges on his nose had been a solid clue to Natalie that Cross - just the one name, no way to be sure if it was a given or family name or one he'd made up entirely for himself - was not exactly what one would call a strictly main-stream Vulcan. Though Lt. Commander Hathev could be expressive, and Lt. Evoras out right vocally emotional at times, the twitching of the lips - and the later full smiles - led Natalie to assume that he ascribed more to the Bajoran side of his heritage. Not ruled by pure logic, in any case. 

Though not religious. He does have rings in his ears, she noticed the small hoops, but those are not a d'ja pagh. Even as she worked this logic in her mind she flashed him a smile. Really, he was of the same rank as her, and though new to the position, he was a member of the Senior Staff. No reason to stick to titles and rank right now.  Swirling her spoon around and taking another bite (she'd learned her lesson about neglecting he meal while meeting new people) she listened to his response and found herself slightly bemused to find that she wasn't the only person the ship that blushed at the drop of a dime. Not that Vanya would believe me.

Just as Cross pushed a few thoughts aside, so too did Natalie, banishing her equally green blooded (kind of) friend out of the forefront of her mind for the time being. A small shake of her head - and a full mouth - declined the offer of something else as Cross made his own order. She was just wiping her mouth as she saw him swap the coffee from one hand to another before drinking. Must be right handed she thought. She could have pulled his file up right then to have something to reference, but felt that this would likely be rude. Better to just let the conversation unfold naturally, she decided as she made another spoonful disappear.

Nodding, she let her spoon rest against the bowl now and took a sip of water to clear her mouth. "Don't sell those Nebula-classes short. I served on the Lexington for a spell back in '77. She was a fine ship, and kept a junior lieutenant very busy fixing her ODN network." That had been a simpler time. The Federation was still rebuilding and the Lexington was overworked as any other ship in the fleet, but Natalie had managed to earn her Masters while on the vessel all the same. So it couldn't have been that bad.

Cross changed the subject to fast for Natalie to really respond about his stay on the Versant, though this did confirm her suspicions about what had been done to him. She was now left wondering which part of his bloodline had been stripped from him, but immediately banished the line of logic. she had no right to know. That was personal, and none of her business. Of course, where the Tactical officer chose to direct the conversation wasn't much better. 

"I would say you get used to it, Cross, but that's a bold face lie. We have done this before," she said with a soft sigh and a weary smile, taking the glass up in her hands, rolling it back and forth before sipping and placing it down again. "You're immediate predecessor came from the USS Resolve when Starbase 84 and Task Force Archeron tired to blow both our ships to atoms. Lt. Commander Marquez was not the only department head we gained that way. Before that, we picked up survivors of the Harbinger. The crews had actually mixed across both ships before Captain Vasser decided he deserved to be Commodore and well..." She let her voice trail off as she remembered being locked in a Ready Room with Simon Tovarek, having been abused by T'Rena, whom was going to wipe their minds and bend them to Vasser's will. Rory had intervened...

She blinked, her expression falling as she realized she was the only one who had been in that room still alive. Taking another bite of her soup, to cover the moment, she swallowed and forced a smile onto her face. "You really don't get used to it. A bit numb about it maybe. It is an adjustment. New faces, new names to learn. New personalities to adjust to. We've got folks from what, four vessels we have to fold into the crew this time? Bellerophon, Endeavour, Cayuga, and the Dauntless?

"On the other hand, I'm actually able to staff out my department properly. Which is damn good, because there is a lot more paperwork when they make you Second officer. I didn't really have the time for all of that when I was in command of the Stallion. They don't prepare you for it nearly enough."

This time the smile was a bit more genuine, and far less bitter sweet. Tapping her spoon idly against the rim of the bowl, she added, almost on a lark. "One of my Assistant Chiefs came from your ship. A junior Lieutenant, Kelleshar zh'Zenne. Haven't really had much of a chance to interact with her. She got herself assigned to the Allegiant mission with Captain Ives. We spoke for about 20 minutes, letting her know she'd been picked and then away she went." And now she was thinking of the Allegiant again, and how nerve wracking it was that Ives was off ship right when they'd gotten hir back. And Vanya, of course. 
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #4
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross sipped his coffee and watched Stark as she talked, seeing her seem to toy with the glass as she spoke about the previous officers who had held his position aboard the Theurgy. Something in her story seemed to bother the Ops officer, and she trained off. She remained still for a moment, and seemed as though she was lost in thought. After a moment she blinked, her expression telling Cross that it hadn't been a good memory that she had been revisiting.

For his part, Cross remained silent as Stark spooned another mouthful of soup to her mouth. He knew better than to intrude on such thoughts. After a moment she swallowed the mouthful, a smile returning to her face, albeit looking somewhat forced. She went on to comment on the number of vessels that their crew had come from, adding the Endeavour, the Bellerophon, the Cayuga and the Dauntless to the already mentioned Resolve and Harbinger. Cross' curiosity had been piqued at the mention of the Harbinger, having spend four years aboard the ship. He pushed the thought aside for the moment as Stark continued that she was finally able to staff her department properly, which was a blessing due to the added paperwork of being Second Officer. Cross winced at the thought, having found he had more than enough paperwork to deal with as department head.

Stark smiled again, this time the expression looking a little more natural, and she had begun tapping her spoon lightly against the edge of her bowl. She mentioned that one of her assistant chiefs came from the Endeavour, naming the prickly Andorian that Cross had spent more time with than he would have wished, the two of them having been stuck in the same escape pod following the Endeavour's destruction. As Natalie mentioned that she had only spoken with Shar for 20 minutes before the Andorian set off aboard the Allegiant, Cross could see a touch of worry creep into her expression. He doubted it was Shar that Stark was worried about, leaving him to wonder if it was Captain Ives that she was thinking of, or perhaps she had another friend on the away mission.

"I'm familiar with Shar." Cross informed her, pausing for a moment to take another sip of coffee before he continued, his gaze staring down into the contents of his mug. "When we abandoned the Endeavour, she was in the same escape pod as I was. Blue too." His gaze flicked up to meet Stark's as he clarified. "Commander Tiran." Cross' mouth twitched, the corner curling up into a rueful half-smile. "Shar is a good officer from what I know of her, though she can have a... prickly demeanour at times..." Cross chuckled softly, his head making a slight shaking movement. He regarded Stark with an apologetic gaze. "Sorry, I don't mean to speak ill of one of your officers. But spending that much time in an escape pod with Shar and Tiran, well..." Cross chuckled again, sipping his coffee in an attempt to hide his amusement. There had been nothing amusing about the initial experience, though looking back Cross couldn't help but chuckle. "The two don't exactly get along, which made for an interesting week... for everyone..."

"I'm curious though, who was brought aboard from the Harbinger? I spent four years aboard her." The news that Vasser had developed delusions of grandeur surprised the Vulcan, though he had certainly never been overly familiar with Captain Vasser. "I don't know what to say about Vasser. I didn't really know the man. I was a Junior Lieutenant in Security for the first two years before switching to tactical. I spent a lot of time secluded in the armoury, rather than on the bridge." His food arrived then, and he nodded a silent thanks to the server before returning his gaze to Stark, having lost his train of thought. He stared at her for a long moment with a blank expression. "Uh... what was I saying?" A moment later, his mind clicked. He gave Stark a bashful half-smile. "Sorry, I think all the reports I've been staring at have turned my brain to mush." He chuckled, the hint of green returning to his cheeks for a moment.

Cross picked up his wrap, pausing with the falafel poised just in front of his mouth. "Forgive me if I'm prying, but you're worried about the Allegiant, aren't you? When you mentioned it earlier, you looked a bit uneasy, and I'm assuming it's not because of Shar." Cross didn't know of anyone he knew aboard the Allegiant besides Shar, and he and the Andorian weren't exactly close. The fact that he and Blue were close, and that Blue and Shar mixed about as well as oil and water, meant that he rarely spoke to the blue-skinned yellow-shirt. He hadn't spoken to the Andorian since they'd arrived aboard the Theurgy. "Is it the Captain that you're worried about? Or is there someone else aboard that you're worried for?" The question asked, Cross finally took a bite of his falafel, chewing slowly as he hoped he hadn't overstepped with his question.
  • Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 03:24:43 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #5
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

Dark eyebrows show up high on her forehead, heading toward her hair line, though it was currently pulled into a tail at the nape of her neck to keep it from getting into her food. She leaned forward onto her elbows, resting one hand atop the other while letting the spoon dangle back into her soup. "Oh, you were trapped in an escape pod with her and Commander Tiran?" There was a bit of sympathy in Nat's voice.

She didn't know her new ACOPS that well, but she had met Blue Tiran a few times. And she was going to have to take some getting used to, for sure. The impression first made was not great. "I've had a few meetings with our new Chief of Engineering. I can see how being in close confines with someone that doesn't like the Lieutenant Commander could experience." She was somewhat proud of herself for being so diplomatic, given that she wasn't really all that sure if she liked Blue Tiran. She rather hoped she could get along with her at a professional level, as she didn't much like thinking of herself as not a people person.

Not to mention that the woman is the new XO's wife. That's gotta be rough on him, knowing just who does and doesn't like her.

Pushing those thoughts aside, Natalie spooned a bit more of the soup into her mouth and settled back into her chair, leaving her hands wrapped around the warm ceramic bowl. A slow breath in through the nose and a slow one back out, as her eyes dropped down. She hadn't realized that Cross had been aboard the Harbinger. This wasn't going to be an easy conversation at all, she knew.  But the bashful smile made it a bit easier, she had to admit.

"We've all been there though a bit and I hear if you stare at a screen too long your eyes start to melt from the inside out," she allowed, attempting to put him a bit more at ease. Still, she had a question to answer and there was no point in putting it off. "As for the Harbinger, I think the senior ranking officer we have from that ship is Doctor Rez - although you may have known her as Amelia Duv. She didn't have the symbiont at the time."

And that most recent development was the reason that the good Doctor had not been tapped to take Lucan Nicander's position. A shame, really, because she'd never received a bad report about the former Doctor Duv, but that was a decision that Captain Ives had reached, and Natalie understood and supported it. Plus, Dr. Tyre seems to be a reasonable chap. "Most of the senior staff was...all aboard with Vasser and T'Rena. They did...well, best not spoke of. I'm not sure this excuses it or not, but we discovered that Captain Vasser was an Augment. So there's a chance that the changes he'd been subjected to at a younger age had finally manifested in the stereotypical ill effects that go with genetic engineering."

There was no lost love for Vasser, and even less for T'Rena. If that monster had had her way, Natalie's mind would have been bent to a will other than her own, to happily serve as little more than a glorified incubator for Vasser's brood. A small shudder ran down her spine, but she managed an apologetic smile. "I will make sure to send you a list of survivors that we do have. Most of the crew of that ship were, and are, good people, and have become valued colleagues. It's hardly there fault that their XO went around brainwashing them." Not the most positive note to end on, but she did end it there, by eating what was left of the soup.

She had about a mouthful left when Cross picked up his own wrap. Why is it when people say they don't mean to pry, that's exactly what they do? Natalie wondered with a mental sigh. The glass of water served as a perfect excuse to take a moment and debate if she wanted to answer this question or not. It was not the slightest bit Cross' business. That she was sure of. But at the same time, there was little harm in answering it. Just...opening up more than she was used to.

In the end, she judged that this was just another aspect of helping the new crew integrate with the old one, and being more 'personable'. She'd read that was a part of command. "You're rather perceptive, you know. It's not that I don't worry for Shar, professionally speaking. But I barely know the woman.

"I am worried deeply about Captain Ives being off ship,"
she continued her confession, with a small sigh. Her gaze darted out to look over the Arboretum below. There was a new memorial wall there, with the names of those lost on this crusade. Many names she cared about adorned it. She couldn't see it, as it resided on the walkway directly below the Cafe overlook. "I don't want to see their name added to the wall in there. Not after we got hir back. Not after the struggle we had after they'd been taken away by the Savi. I mean no offense, but I don't know your Commander Ducote very well yet, but I'm not sure he could lead in the same way that Ives could."

Dragging a hand over her mouth, she let out another sigh, and dropped her hand to her lap. Smiling a bit ruefully, she added, "I could just leave it there, but well, in the interest of being more open about well, things in general, the Captain isn't the only one I'm worried about. Right after our encounter with the Savi, the ship broke up into its three component vectors, and I was left in command of the lower stardive - the Stallion." This time the smile was a fond one. Considerably more so than before.

"I'm not sure how much of the report you've read, but during the separation, we ran into the USS Cayuga. More than a few of their officers were left trapped aboard the Theurgy after the Battle of the Apertures." Even she found herself referring to that harrowing slug fest with the Borg cube by the popular name the crew had taken up. "One of the officers was one Lieutenant Vanya, the Cayuga's Science Department Head. And my Academy Roommate. I spent four years living with her at the Academy, and then we went our separate ways."

There was a wistful look on her face now, remembering years gone by. Simpler times. Earning my officers pip during the Dominion War was Simpler times? How fucked up is that?"Duty sent us elsewhere. There was a war, and then there was much to do after. We stayed in touch, somewhat but not as much as we should have. And now, she was back, in person, for all of a hot minute before rushing right on off for the same mission that Ives' had gone and risked hirself on."
  • Last Edit: August 27, 2019, 03:54:11 AM by Brutus
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #6
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross could hear the sympathy in Natalie's voice as she reviewed his comment about the escape pod, a smile creeping across his lips. It was Cross' turn to show sympathy as she mentioned that she'd had meetings with the ship's new engineering Chief. Stark didn't exactly speak ill of Commander Tiran, though Cross could infer a great deal form the way in which she spoke of her dealings with Blue. It was hardly difficult, seeing as a great many people had trouble with Blue, in fact it seemed to be the case more often than not. Sometimes Cross believed that he, Commander Ducote and the Captain might be the only officers aboard who didn't have an issue with the blue-haired engineer. Not that Blue put a great deal of effort into diplomacy in her dealings with others. Or any, in most cases.

What Stark said next caught him off-guard, however.

"You may have known her as Amelia Duv".

Now there was a name he hadn't heard in quite some time, the mention of it now prompting Cross' face to flush anew. The name brought with it the vague images of an embarrassing memory, the details mostly lost to a haze of pain and painkillers. Cross had never really confirmed if the memory had truly happened, and was content to leave it at that. Learning that the memory was factual would only make him feel more embarrassment, and he'd been dealing with quite enough of that in the aftermath of his correction. He was curious upon learning that Doctor Duv was called Rez now, and that she'd taken on a symbiont. "I'm... familiar with Doctor... Rez, you said?" Cross admitted. "Though not exactly acquainted."

As Stark continued, mentioning the fact that most of the Harbinger's senior staff which had come aboard had been on the wrong side of Vasser's bid for control, Cross' expression turned dark. Cross held the hard belief in the moral standard of a Starfleet officer, owing much, indeed his entire life since his liberation from the Cardassian camp, to Starfleet. That officers he had served with had turned to mutiny, attempting to take control of the ship by force and turning on their fellow officers, well, that didn't sit well with him. That Vasser had turned out to be an augment did little to assuage his anger. "Augment or no, that Vasser and the other officers from the Harbinger would commit such an act is inexcusable." Cross said, his voice hard and his tone perhaps a little more heated than he had intended. Realizing this, Cross forced the edge from his voice and continued in a softer tone. "Forgive me. It's just that I owe everything to Starfleet, and the idea that officers would act in such a way... well..." Cross gave Natalie an apologetic look. "I hope you won't think less of me for having served with such people. I had no idea the officers of the Harbinger were capable of such things."

Stark admitted that she was worried about Captain Ives, the confession accompanied by a small sigh and a wandering of the eyes. Cross took a moment to study the Human as she glanced away, his pale eyes noting a hint of worry in the woman's large blue eyes. She explained that she didn't want to see Ives' name added to the memorial wall in the arboretum below, not after everything they had gone through the last time they had been with out the Captain. Cross knew that struggle from the other side, having taken part in the assault against the Savi aboard the Versant. He had not been part of the team which had retrieved Ives, having been among those who's task it was to liberate Thea, but he knew the losses they had suffered to retrieve Ives, and had taken up the tactical station on the Versant under Ives' command during the subsequent battle. Ives was a good officer, and Cross respected the Captain. He remained silent on the matter, however, allowing Natalie to continue.

He took another bite of his falafel as she went on to admit there was someone else who she feared for, explaining about the Theurgy having split into it's separate Vectors in the aftermath of the Savi abductions. Stark had apparently been in command of the one which had made contact with the Cayuga, having apparently been reunited with an old friend, a roommate form her Academy years, aboard the ship. Stark looked pensive as she spoke of the officer, a Lieutenant Vanya, and Cross assumed that the expression Stark wore, coupled with the fact that they had remained roommates for all four years at the Academy, meant that Stark and this Vanya had been close. And now Stark worried for Vanya, who was off aboard the Allegiant so soon after their reunion. Cross felt a pang of sympathy for the Human, knowing how he had felt when he though his closest friend was dead, killed at the hands of the Borg. He could understand Stark's worries.

"I'm sure Captain Ives, and your friend, will be alright." Cross said, the attempt at encouragement sounding weak to his ears. Cross had never been particularly adept at conveying comfort. "Ives is a skilled officer. I'm sure you know as well as I do that they'll do everything they can to bring the Allegiant home, along with all her crew." Cross knew he might sound a bit patronizing, though it was not his intention. He sighed softly, placing his half-eaten wrap back down on the plate as he decided to add his own personal story to the mix. It was only fair, given that Stark had answered his own question, which had been perhaps a tad more personal than it should have been, given that this was their first meeting.

"I know what it is to worry for a friend." Cross said, his tone soft and his pale eyes looking almost vulnerable. "As I said, when the Endeavour was lost I ended up aboard an escape pod. I had no idea what had happened to the rest of the crew, or to Kai." Cross slid his mug in front of him, cradling it between his hands and gazing out into the arboretum proper as he spoke. "Lieutenant Commander Akoni and I transferred aboard the Endeavour at the same time, and he's become a dear friend in the time since. In the aftermath of the Borg attack and the Endeavour's destruction, I assumed him to be dead, either killed or assimilated by the Borg, or else recycled by the Savi." Cross paused and raised his mug, taking a sip of the coffee, glancing at Stark with a sheepish expression. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, well, I can understand how you feel to an extent." A smile spread over his features, holding a hint of mischief to it. "Though not the roommate part. I had a few at the Academy, and the first one was intolerable. A Cardassian hybrid. He nearly drove me to murder on more than one occasion." Cross chuckled, shaking his head slightly. His first year at the Academy had been... trying.

A thought occurred to him then, and idea to lighten the tone of the conversation which caused the smile he wore to broaden. He leaned forward, giving Stark an almost conspiratorial look. "Twinkies, Natalie." Cross said, an amused smirk playing across his features. He could see Natalie Stark looking at him like he was crazy, and he could understand why. She had just finished telling a rather personal story, and he responded with a single, non-sensical word. "With Blue. Commander Tiran." Cross elaborated before he took a sip of coffee. "They're these disgusting little yellow cakes. Taste like shit. Pure sugar. She loves the hajari things." Cross chuckled, shaking his head at the ridiculousness of the statement. "Anyway, if you're meeting with Blue, have some ready. It may sound like bribery, and it absolutely is, but you'd be amazed at how much more agreeable she gets with some of those hajari awful things in her system." Cross gaze Natalie another conspiratorial smile. "It might make your dealings with her as 2XO a bit easier. I know she comes across as a bit... well, you know. But she's not as bad as most people think." Cross' grin grew, and he looked at Stark with a mock-worried expression. "Though she might put me out an airlock if she knew I'd told you that." He added with a chuckle, a fond smile spreading over his features as his mind threw up a mental picture of Blue, twinkie in one hand and the other on the airlock decompression button.

Kardasi Translation:
Hajari - Fucking
  • Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 03:25:00 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #7
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

For Natalie, the conversation began to flow back and forth between her and Cross. It wasn't just her dumping everything on him, and then vice versa. When he noted a passing familiarity with the former Doctor Duv, Natalie had smiled, and simply said,
"There's a file you should have access to with the details. I'd suggest reading it, as Senior staff you'd need to know. The short version is another crew member - joined - died rather suddenly,"
oh look, you really can dissemble, "and Dr. Duv volunteered to accept the surviving symbiont, as we could not replicate an environment for it to survive on its own. It's an adjustment for all of us." Quite the understatement on Natalie's part, as she chased the words with some lentils.

Closing the subject on the Harbinger mutiny, Natalie found herself rapidly shaking her head from side to side. "Commander Cross, we're not about to string you up because you happened to be on the same ship years ago. You weren't on the Harbinger when Vasser became unhinged. A lot can happen in that many years." And anyone could crack under the pressure that they had, being on the run, aware of the infestation... That line of thought hit far too close to home, given recent command decisions and demotions.

The heart of the matter was that Vanya and Ives were off ship when Natalie wanted to circle her arms around them and keep them safe and secure. Which was...stupid. "In truth, both of them can take better care of themselves than i could of myself, or them." She admitted with a laugh that held no bitterness. The laugh faded and the smile softened as Cross opened up about his time in the escape pod. She started to wonder what that must have been like, but in the end she knew. It was like being on the Stallion and feeling you were utterly on your own, but with far less people and far less to do. 

Twinkies? What the hell? She managed to think, but Cross filled in the blanks, as her feelings clearly had to be featured on her face. Her eyebrows shot up as it was all explained. She looked to the side, remembering the senior staff meeting where she'd first really met Blue Tiran. "The woman has a rather...unhealthy obsession with sweets," she noted, not without a small sense of irony. "I can't exactly throw stones there, mind you. I like the occasional pastry myself." She could hear Vanya laughing in the back of her mind. Her Academy roommate knew damned well that 'occasional' would have been an outright lie. Natalie wasn't unfit, but she carried a few extra pounds, which were all from things like donuts. 

"I have to admit that you make it sound like the bribe of choice is disgusting though. Utterly horrid. I like sweets but I've zero interest in trying the engineers um...poison of choice." Word had not yet gotten back to the Second Officer of the Chief's percolation to drinking her problems away. Still...while the idea of bribing a fellow officer to behave grated on her, she had to admit that it might be worth looking into. "I will keep the source of the knowledge secret, Cross. You seem like a rather reasonable chap. It'd be a shame to have you spaced as a result." She tried to make light of the situation as he had been, though the thought of taking a dance in the vacuum sent a shiver down her spine. More than a few of her crew had done that over the past few months, none by choice. 

"Prickly nature aside, I'm sure Captain Ives wouldn't have put her in command of engineering if they didn't feel she could do the task. You were all together on the Versant. If they're confident in her than I'll just have to get used to her...unorthodox attitudes." She wasn't used to being the one with the metaphorical stick up her ass, and it didn't quite sit right with her. Of course, neither did many things about Tiran...which....

"You might be able to answer this for me, actually," she said, becoming a bit more animated. "What's the deal with that mechanical bird?"
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #8
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross smiled and let out a soft chuckle as Stark laughed and admitted that both Ives and her friend could take better care of themselves than she could have taken with either them or herself. Her smile remained as Cross had told her about his time aboard the escape pod with Blue and the others. It was an experience Cross would certainly not wish to repeat.

Cross let out a short, almost bark of a laugh as Stark attempted to downplay Blue's fiendish addiction to sugar, referring to it as a "rather unhealthy obsession". A broad grin remained on his face as he managed to quieten himself, shaking his head as though to ward of further laughter. "A rather unhealthy obsession?" Cross echoed her words, chuckling again. "Blue Tiran is my friend, Natalie. I can tell you with absolute certainty that Blue Tiran's relationship with sugar isn't an unhealthy obsession so much as a fiendish reliance." Cross grinned conspiratorially, amusement written plain on his face. "Blue's a good person. But if she's craving sugar she can get a bit..." Cross paused, considering which word would best suit his explanation. "ornery." Having settled on the word, Cross found is lacking. He cared deeply for his friend, but the truth was that she could behave like a borderline psychopath if provoked while her blood sugar levels were lower than she liked. Such levels would likely turn a normal person into a hyperglycemic, anxiety-ridden mess, but such was the way of Blue Tiran.

He grinned as Natalie admitted that she couldn't exactly throw stones, admitting that she herself enjoyed the occasional pastry. Cross scrunched his face up theatrically before smiling again, the exaggerated grimace seeming to add more folds to the existing Bajoran ridges. "I've never had much a sweet tooth. Maybe it's just the boring Vulcan half of me... or, well, all of me now, I suppose... but I could never enjoy it. Though as you said, I probably shouldn't be one to, how did you put it? Throw stones?" Cross wasn't familiar with the phrase, though there were more than a few Human figures of speech he still didn't understand. "I catch more than enough flak for my taste in drinks." Cross gave Natalie an amused smile. "As it turns out, kanar isn't exactly the most sought after of beverages among Federation species. Who knew?" He shrugged and gave Natalie a look that seemed to say Oh well..., though his grin quickly returned as she made it clean that she thought his suggested bribe sounded absolutely disgusting, and that she had zero interest in sampling the fluffy yellow cakes. He chuckled as she assured him she would keep his part in the conspiracy to bride Commander Tiran a secret, joking that it would be a shame if he were to be spaced. He gave her a quizzical look as she shivered slightly, though decided not to ask about the small reaction.

Natalie proceeded to state that if Ives put Blue in charge of engineering, then the Captain must feel she was up to the task, and that Natalie would simply have to get used to Blue. Cross grinned, thinking that if anyone could get the Theurgy's engineering in shape and underway, it was Blue. Prickly she may be, but Blue was a damn fine engineer. Natalie surprised him with her next statement, claiming that he might be able to answer something for her. He looked on with a certain amount of surprise as she made the claim, suddenly seeming more animated as she asked what the deal was with the bird.

"Oh, Albert?" Cross asked with a chuckle, shaking his head. "That's her hajari tin pigeon. Blue built him." Cross' expression took on a look of exasperation as he began talking about Blue's mechanical feathered friend. "He was initially a PADD interface, I think. He just sort of chirped and tweeted. Then the Savi got a hold of him and made him into a hajari talking, flapping A.I. Now the thing never shuts up." Cross' expression grew serious as he continued. "When we moved to take control of the Versant, Blue and I were part of the team that assaulted their Machine Labs to free Thea. Albert was there too, and the Savi had used the same Synthesis Code from Thea to upgrade both Albert and V-Nine, our new resident Savi android." Cross' face coloured slightly as he mentioned the Savi android, though he fought the rising blush as he cleared his throat and pressed on. "So we freed Albert and Thea, though we lost most of our team in the process. That's also where I gained this." Cross held up his artificial hand and gave the metallic fingers a wiggle for good measure, then lowered his arm to rest on the table as he continued, the grin returning to his face.

"Anyway, Albert is now a bona fide pain in the ass. Blue is extremely protective of him, despite how the two of them seem to squabble pretty much non-stop. I don't know how Commander Ducote puts up with it, to be honest. I'd have launched the bloody budgie out of the torpedo launchers long ago." Cross gave Natalie a slightly impish glance. "I still might. Also, I wouldn't recommend calling him a tin pigeon where she can hear you. Or where the bird can hear you, for that matter. He doesn't like being called a pigeon, and he'll probably turn the words "I'm an owl" into a ten minute explanation on avian design."

Cross chuckled and took a sip of his coffee. His pale eyes wandering over to gaze out at the Arboretum for a moment, the lush greenery making him feel at ease. He had always loved plants, their simple beauty having a calming effect on him. He was also enjoying the company and conversation of the Human woman sitting opposite him. "It really is beautiful here." Cross murmured, returning his gaze to Stark. "I might have to forsake the mess hall and start eating all my meals here."

Kardasi Translation:
Hajari - Fucking

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #9
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

Sweet teeth and sugar addictions made for an interesting tangent to the conversation. And finding out that the former Hybrid like Kanar was quite a shock. Her understanding from the few Bajoran's she'd served with was that the Cardassian alcoholic export was almost universally reviled among the Bajroan's, less for its taste and more for it being the drink of choice of the people that had oppressed their own culture and homeworld during the decades long Occupation. Despite the devastation the Cardassians had experienced at the end of the Dominion war when they revolted against the Jem Hadar, and the subsequent years of rebuilding efforts, bolstered by the Federation (and Bajors acceptance there in), there was still deep animosity. To discover that Cross enjoyed the drink was something of a surprise. And one that spurred another thought.

"I don't know if you have had the chance to meet him yet," Natlaie began, recalling a somewhat embarrassing night between the ships late Intelligence officer, and the somewhat more kindly and dignified civilian scientist, "But we have aboard the ship a civilian scientist, one Dr. Silim Parnak. I found him to be a surprisingly excellent conversationalist, and if I remember correctly he enjoyed kanar. If you are looking for someone to share a bottle with and don't mind dealing with someone who possess a ....firm sense of self worth, I found him to be rather enjoyable company." 'For a Cardassian' was left unsaid. In truth, Natalie did not remember the tail end of the evening with the good doctor and the now deceased Andorian officer, save that she woke up tucked into bed, and with a mild sense of embarrassment. She had thus far managed to avoid Parnak in the aftermath of everything, though she bore him no ill will. To the best of her knowledge he was kind, perfect gentleman. Sending a potential friend his way was her form of thanking him, though she had no idea how the ships new tactical officer might react.

Though Cross' company  and conversation had been rather unexpected, the results were proving quite informative. Natalie was once again reassured in her decision to start taking more meals in public in the wake of her confirmation as the ships second officer. A small thing, to be sure, but even if she only netted a productive meal chat like this once a week, it would be worth pushing her out of her comfortable solitude that she had preferred for the majority of her post graduation career in the fleet. A private meal with trusted friends was one thing - being exposed like this would take getting used to.

But moments like this would help her, she was sure. So bearing that in mind, she listened with rapt attention to Cross and all he had to tell her about Blue Tiran and the engineers talking owl. "But why ever would she need a PaDD interface?" she wondered aloud, realizing that this was likely a question that only the woman in question could answer. That would necessitate actually asking Blue, and the Ops Chief was unsure if she were quite ready to deal with her Engineering counterpart. Certainly she would not do so that evening, nor to satisfy such a point of curiosity.

She made a mental note as well, to talk to Thea at some point about the changes the AI had undergone during her forced stay upon the Savi ship. The Synthesis code had made her eyes widen when she'd first reviewed it. As she did not know the new medical android, V-Nine (vouched for already, or she would have been prone to lock it away), nor this Albert the sentient owl, Thea seemed the likely person to talk to for more information. True, and don't pretend you also aren't concerned because you count the ship a Friend, Natalie. Don't try to couch this as duty, or scientific curiosity. AI had been the subject of her Masters degree, and was one of the reasons she'd been tapped for service aboard the Theurgy to bolster the Operations Staff. Another added benefit from having roomed with an Android for years at the Academy.

Putting a quick stop to her woolgathering, Natalie smiled again at Cross. This was a much easier go of a conversation than she'd expected when the unfamiliar officer had first approached her. "If he identifies as an owl, far be it from me to tell him he's a pigeon," she replied in regards to Alberts preferences, in mock severity, before giggling. She shook her head and mused aloud, "Albert seems to be his own person...owl...I wonder how long the Captain will allow his presence in senior staff meetings. I'm sure he won't violate any protocols or leak any privileged information on purpose. But all the same, we have rules for a reason." she gave a little shrug, none to bothered, as she too looked out into the gardens below.

"The Arboretum, and to a lesser extent, the Hydroponics bay, are some of the most relaxing spots on the ship. I think whichever admiral got the bright idea back in the 23rd century to start putting gardens on ships. Even more so than the holodeck, this is a chance to pretend you're not on a big hulking vessel, traveling the stars, and just...reconnect with nature for a moment." Realizing that she'd waxed a tad poetic on the subject, she blushed, and added softly. "I just wish that I had spent more time in there, and up here, before everything happened. I think I'd set foot once in the Arboretum since I came aboard, before our headlong flight out of the Sol system. Same with the Spearhead lounge and a few of the other rec locations."

Smiling a bit, she added, "My early career saw me specializing in artificial intelligence and holography. As a result, I spend - or spent - a lot of my free time aboard the Theurgy down in the AI core, in a holodeck, or in the ship's library." When I wasn't hiding in my quarters. Which was most of the time, she thought, but again, did not say.
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #10
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Corridors outside the Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Apparently Cross' admission to his enjoyment of kanar had prompted Stark to think of another on board the Theurgy who enjoyed the beverage. One she also claimed to be an excellent conversationalist. Cross felt a looming sense of tension as she began to speak of the man, apparently a civilian scientist. As she gave him name, Cross fought to keep his expression neutral. Silim Parnak. The name practically screamed Cardassian. Of course, he could hardly blame Natalie for the suggestion. She was likely just trying to be nice, and to introduce him to someone who wouldn't turn their nose up when he ordered his favourite beverage, but would instead order one along with him.

There was, of course, no way she could be expected to know of his aversion to Cardassians.

"I haven't met him, no. And while I'm sure he's quite a... likeable... fellow..." Cross said slowly, giving Natalie a weak smile. "And while I appreciate the suggestion, as there aren't many who I could share a bottle with, I'm not sure such a meeting between us would go as well as you might think..." Cross was rather proud of himself, really. The was quite possibly the most diplomatic manner in which he had ever talked about a Cardassian. "I'm afraid Cardassian scientists and I have a rather... strained... relationship." Cross' cheeks coloured slightly as a sense of embarrassment rose within him. "I'm assuming by his name that he is a Cardassian?" Cross cleared his throat, realizing that he might be adding a certain level of awkwardness to the conversation and deciding he ought to try and diffuse it.

"Though I'll certainly take your suggesting under consideration." Cross added with an apologetic smile. "I suppose it wouldn't hurt to... make and effort..." Perhaps after he began his sessions with Lieutenant Commander Hathev the following day. Getting a better grasp of his emotional control would likely be wise before he spent much time around a member of the grey-skinned species. Cross thought back for a moment to his first meeting with another Cardassian scientist, his Academy roommate. Izar had only been half Cardassian, but all scientist. The first time they had met, Cross had assaulted the man, smashed his face and sent him to sickbay. The two had eventually become friends, but his initial reaction still loomed in his mind.

Perhaps meeting this Dr. Parnak should wait until after several sessions with Counsellor Hathev...

As the conversation flowed into the explanation of Blue's ever-present and oh-so-aggravating alloyed avian amigo, Natalie posed a very good question. "Why ever would she need a PaDD interface?" Cross gave Stark an amused gaze as one corner of his mouth curled up in a lop sided grin. "Honestly? I have no hajari idea." Cross admitted with a shrug, "All I know is that she views him like he's family, and that they bicker like a married couple." As Natalie stated that if Albert identified as an owl, then she certainly wouldn't tell him he was a pigeon. Cross' lips compressed for a moment as she held a look of severity on her face, though he relaxed and allowed himself to grin as she finally relented and allowed a giggle to escape.

Stark went on to reflect on the fact that, since Albert seemed so independent, Captian Ives might soon restrict his access to senior staff meetings. Cross realized that she was right as he once again took up his falafel and took a bite, chewing thoughtfully as he considered her point. While Albert was certainly not about to divulge and sensitive information or betray them, Cross imagined the concern would still be brought up at some point. He smiled slightly as he pictured the metallic menace incensed at the restriction, ruffling his little metal feathers in indignation.

Cross found himself agreeing with Natalie as she responded to he remark about the arboretum and stated that she it, and to a lesser degree the hydroponics bay, were the most relaxing places on the ship. She reflected that it was a chance to escape the reality that they were one a ship drifting among the stars, and allowed them to reconnect with nature despite their distance from such places. She blushed as she finished, seeming embarrassed by her own words. For his part, Cross couldn't agree more. He had always loved nature, the only decorative additions he had made to his quarters being several orchids. He had never been one to accumulate possessions but found great peace in the splashed of green the plants added to his living space. Something about them soothed him, and he found the arboretum did as well, to a much greater degree. As Natalie continued, speaking softly now, she voiced her wish that she had spent more time her previously. She had rarely visited the arboretum, it turned out, nor the other facilities aboard the ship.

She went on to confess that she had spent the majority of her time in the AI core, library or holodeck, her specialty being artificial intelligence. Cross grinned at this, his smile almost apologetic. "In that case, you'll probably be a much bigger fan of Albert than I am." It was a weak attempt at a joke, he knew. "I honestly can't say I know much of anything about A.I."

"To be honest, I've already spent quite a bit of my free time in the arboretum since I came aboard. I don't think I could ever grow tired of the place." Cross felt a sense of peace as they gazed down into the gardens below, the occasional crew member visible moving along the pathways below, partially obscured at points by the canopies of the trees which rose gracefully from the gardens. As his gaze travelled over one of the ponds that dotted the grounds below, his mind cast back to several days previous, when the unfortunate Heather McMillan had tripped over a very contented Cross, the Vulcan having been lying in the grass off the walkways. The poor woman had pitched into the pond, and had been thoroughly soaked he recalled, the memory bringing a smile to his face. He let out a contented sigh as he turned his attention back to Stark and gave the woman seated across form him a relaxed smile. "I haven't been to the hydroponics bay yet." He admitted in a somewhat regretful tone. "I'll have to make a point of visiting it."

Cross raised his mug and drained the last of his coffee, then placed the empty vessel down on top of his equally empty plate and pushed both to the side. He saw the Stark had finished her soup, and glanced out at the gardens below. "Well, if you'd like to spend more time in the arboretum, we're both off duty, and it's still early. We could always go for a walk down in the gardens." Cross glanced over at Stark, realizing the Human might have something to get back to. Cross himself had sworn off work for the remainder of the evening, having spent more of the past few days pouring of PaDDs than was likely healthy. He'd needed a break. He had no doubt that Stark had been equally busy, and for a moment he feared she might view him lax in his duties, the thought causing his cheeks to take on a mild green tint. "That is... if you've got nowhere else to be?"

Kardasi Translation:
Hajari - Fucking

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #11
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

There were probably worse ways to offend someone, but Natalie was slowly realizing that she had stepped right in a big pile of cultural oops. Perhaps it had simply been the fact that Cross was not a full Bajoran. The up-swept, pointed ears and lack of forehead ridges pointed to a Vulcan descent, as he had confirmed, though his attitude and actions did lean more toward the emotional and spiritual Bajorans. Still perhaps she had assumed he would not hold grudges against Cardassians.

True too, it could have simply been that it was easy for Natalie to forget that Dr. Parnak was Cardassian, because he had made a good impression. It was easy  to see past the crimes of someone's species when you fancied the person as an individual, found them to be reasonably polite, and simply good company. All of which was the lingering impression that the doctor had left Natalie with, after her night of drunken poor choices.

This did very little to change the facts however, that Cardassian's were not well loved as a general rule by people of Bajoran descent.

"Oh, hell," she stammered, mortified. "I didn't even think...Ah, yes. Dr. Parnak is a Cardassian. He's been helping us research the infestation methods of the parasites. He came aboard as a refugee during the events at Starbaser84." She ran a hand over her face, looking apologetic. Her face had drained of all color, and when it had come back, it had rushed in with a flurry of embarrassment, coloring her cheeks darkly. She hadn't felt that foolish since she'd accidentally short circuited the privacy screens in the locker rooms of the Lexington years ago, exposing everyone in the communal showers to, well, everyone in the communal showers. "He's...well, he really is a gentleman," she said meekly, in the absent doctors defense, adding, "But please don't feel compelled to make the effort."

She wasn't going to pry about his history. It was hard to judge with aliens, especially ones of Vulcanoid descent, so he could very well have been a survivor of the Occupation. Which, she could then only imagine what some of the scientists there had done to someone of a hybrid nature. Similar to the Savi. Crell Moset would have fit right in with them, I bet. Thankfully they shifted the conversation without too much more foot in mouth syndrome on Natalie's part, and the Ops Chief was pleased to see that she hadn't mortally offended the ships new Tactical Chief with her (well intentioned) gaffe. She brightened back up, the more she learned about Albert the owl.

"I'll have to pry him away from his keeper at some point and have a chat with him. I find most AI's fascinating conversationalists. Thea for instance is always good for a chat. And Vanya....well, she's Vanya. You have to know her to understand." While it was no longer a huge secret that the Romulan science officer also happened to be an Android, she realized that Cross might not have known that. She'd let him work it out for himself. Her friend was the whole reason she went ahead and completed the course work for her masters, having lain plenty of the ground work at the Academy.

But the Academy was quite a few years in her past, and the masters degree had been put to more work on understanding and maintaining Thea, than it had on Vanya. Though now that the latter was back, Natalie was sorely tempted to give the girl a full work up, just to make sure she'd been taking care of herself. That she didn't follow it through to the logical conclusions was simply more proof that she was still, at heart, naive.  This 'innocence' was about to raise its head again, when Cross proposed a walk in the park.

Nat's eyebrows shot up on her forehead, but she turned, looking out the window, and then back to the red collared Lieutenant Commander, and nodded once, with a bright smile. "All I have ahead is paperwork, and like any good officer, I enjoy an excuse to procrastinate." As she spoke she lifted up her glass of water, and then once she finished speaking, drained it of what was left. The ice tinkled against the glass as she set it back down and wiped her mouth. She should do the paperwork, of course. She was now getting reports from more than just Ops and it was an adjustment. One of her two assistants was off gallivanting about with Ives and Vanya, and she knew better than to rely on junior Lt. Nator 159 to take on extra documentation. She'd hoped that the Andorian shen, Lt.(jg.) sh'Zenne would be better at it, and pick up some of the extra work. But that wouldn't happen until she returned to the ship. Thus, she really, really should have gone to process those files.

Standing up, she collected her plate and cup, and then, reached out to do the same for the other officer, smiling. "I'm going to tell myself that taking a little time to walk among the flowers will help me relax enough to really tackle some of that paperwork without losing focus." She moved to take the plates to the replicator to recycle them, a bit of a hop in her step that set her skirts wishing around her legs. "I'm going to tell myself that. It's a lie, but it's a pleasant one, no?"

Turning after having dealt with the remains of the dinner, she moved and swept the PaDD she'd been working on up off the table and clasped her hands behind her back, trapping the device there. Bending slightly, she grinned at Cross. "Shall we, Commander?"
  • Last Edit: September 09, 2019, 04:34:37 AM by Brutus
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #12
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Corridors outside the Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross felt a pang of regret as Natalie stammered an apology for her suggestion about Doctor Parnak, going on to cast him an apologetic glance after running her hand over her face. She had paled, then blushed, then attempted to add that Parnak really was a gentleman, her voice meek as she spoke the words. Cross knew she had brought the man up with the best of intentions, and was ashamed that he comment had caused her such discomfort. He'd waved a hand in the air as she had apologized, trying to dismiss the apology and the sense of embarrassment the poor woman felt. Once she had finished speaking, Cross looked at her with a somewhat abashed expression. "Please, don't apologize. You were trying to be helpful, and I certainly wouldn't fault you for that!" Cross said, trying to sound at least a bit cheerful in the hopes of putting Stark at ease. "Who knows? Perhaps this Doctor Parnak and I would get on well." Cross doubted that last part, but added it for Natalie's sake. He would hate for his aversion to Cardassians, which was putting it mildly, to disrupt an otherwise enjoyable conversation.

He grinned as Natalie went on to muse that she would have to try and pry Albert away form Blue in the hopes of chatting with him. She added that Thea was always good for a chat, as was her old roommate Vanya. Cross' expression took on a mixture of surprise and curiosity, the Vulcan having not realized that Vanya was an AI. "You certainly seem to keep company with a good many AIs." He observed with a slightly smile. He supposed it made sense, given that it was the area she specialized in. Cross himself had had limited interactions with AI, having only spoken with Thea a few times, though having dealt with Albert more often than he would have wished.

Natalie's reaction to his suggestion of a walk in the arboretum was unexpected, with her eyebrows climbing high in a surprised expression, though she eventually nodded after a glance down at the gardens below. She admitted that she, too had paperwork, adding that she enjoyed the excuse to escape it for a while. Cross smiled as she lifted her glass and drained the remainder of the contents. She rose then, collecting the plates on the table before he could protest or move to help, informing him that she was going to tell herself that a relaxing walk would help with the paperwork later. Cross grinned at the remark, understanding full well the lengths one might go to justify an escape form the monotony of reports, duty rosters and the like. He himself was more than a little guilty of doing the same.

There was a spring to Natalie's step as she moved to the replicator, the skirts swishing around her legs drawing Cross' eyes for a moment, though he quickly raised his gaze as he realized what he was doing, a slight green tint rising in his cheeks. As Natalie admitted that what she was telling herself was, indeed, a lie, Cross smiled, hoping she didn't suspect what he ahd been glancing at and couldn't see the slight blush from her position by the replicator. "If a pleasant lie will help put off the paperwork, then I'm all for it!" Cross admitted, his grin part guilty, part amusement. "Putting the whole pile of reports out a torpedo tube is frowned upon, so I guess this is the next best thing." He chuckled as he watched Natalie approach the table once again, the dished having been dealt with. She swept her PaDD off the table, then leaned slightly forward with the PaDD held behind her back, grinning at him. "Shall we, Commander?"

"I believe we shall, Commander!" Cross grinned back, though her proximity as she leaned over made him colour ever so slightly. He rose from his seat and gestured to the door with a grin. "Ladies and Second Executive Officers first." He said with a chuckle before they made their way towards to doors.

Cross clasped his hands behind his back as they made their way to the turbolift, organic hand clasping metallic wrist as he cast a sideways glance at Stark. The Theurgy's 2XO was certainly not what he had expected, and he was surprised at how he had enjoyed their conversation thus far. He was also surprised, now that they were both standing, by how short she was. He considered Stark for a moment as they made their way along, the hint of a smile playing on his lips. "Now that I think about it, Albert would probably be more than happy to speak with you." He said, having been thinking back to that particular portion of their conversation. "He spends most of his time with Blue, but I think he'd be happy to have a discussion with someone of your specialty."

Bloody little windbag that he is... Cross added silently, though the hint of a smile remained.

"So your roommate at the Academy was also an AI." Cross turned his head to look fully at Stark as he continued, a look of curiosity on his face. "Is that what directed you towards specializing in artificial intelligence?"

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #13
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

On the subject of her gathering about herself a great many AI's, Natalie had to flush a bit and laugh softly, waving the notion off. "I'm not sure personally knowing two is such a great number, though I suppose there are not all that many strolling about the Federation." She did not include the late Kala, the AI of the Calamity, whom Thea thought of as her daughter. The murderous hologram had done for people that Natalie cared for, and she could hardly call such a brief, and blood acquaintance anything save a hardship, nor claim to know the AI well. "They do keep cropping up though, don't they?" And had left it at that for the time, though it would come up again a short while later,

In reply to Cross' lamentations about paperwork and torpedo tubes, Natalie chortled a bit,  getting a rare mischievous look on her face. "While I cannot imagine that Captain Ives or Commander Ducote would approve, you are the Chief Tactical officer. I'm sure you could get away with it, at least once, under the premises of a readiness drill, or systems check. Not that I ought to be encouraging such an activity I suppose." Given her position, if not her rank, technically Fife was a subordinate, though he was a fellow department head. Which was likely one of the few reasons Natalie was attempting to relax in his presence like an equal. All the pressures of rank were none to  fun on the less than social Operations Chief.

Rolling her blue eyes, she did allow Cross to let her take the lead, and strode into the lift with ease, not commenting on his characterizations of her. She had missed the blush in his cheeks when she'd gone to dispose of their collected dishes, still as oblivious to such things as she had been at the Academy, and never mind the attention she had received in the intervening years since graduation. Though Natalie was aware of his height in comparison to hers, and wondered, softly, if all vulcanoids were simply tall, though in truth she knew that wasn't the case, given that she herself was actually just slightly taller than Lt. Commander Hathev, if just, and Dr. Maya, whom she had on occasion seen during visits to sickaby. It simply felt that way sometimes, when she caused to be next to one that was nigh on as tall as Vanya, and when every other Vulcanoid she'd met aboard had her at an advantage in height. Being short, one got used to it. Mostly.

The lift descended in short order as Natalie remarked, "Given that he is new to this whole sentience thing, I would wager that he is eager enough for more acquaintances, viewpoints and experiences." She hummed a bit, contemplative, as the doors opened  and she led Cross back down the deckway to the entrance to the arboretum proper, a very short walk indeed. "In general practice, true AI's, upon achieving sentience, are extremely inquisitive, seeking to learn and better themselves at a rate that can, at times, be startling. I really do wonder if the rest of Thea's sisters will experience the same sort of self realization that she has come to." The Ops chief had struck on a less than happy tangent. Thea was the first of her class, the rest in various states of production. Natalie could only imagine that these sisters, as she put it, would be tasked with hunting down the Theurgy, and wondered what sort of precautions were being even now coded into their matrices to prevent them from siding with the first of their line.

She'd have to bring that one to Ives attention when they returned, nasty as the notion was.

When the duo was within range of the sensors, the large doors swung apart, not unlike those that lead into the Spearhead Lounge, and with a swish of her skirts, Natalie strode into the Arboretum. The heated air washed back over her, more humid and warmer than the ships halls, and the scents that had been present in the cafe above practically assaulted her now that she was on the main floor of the Arboretum, some two decks below the semi ensconced dining pavilion. The path began to spread out before them, sweeping to the left and right, and on a whim she headed to the left, with Lt. Cmdr Cross in tow.

"In all honesty, I'm not sure which was more of a shock to me. Finding out that Vanya was Romulan or that she was an AI." Giggling a bit, she shrugged. "I learned it all in that order, some time apart. She hadn't mentioned her more robotic nature when we'd met. Understandably, of course. I had no idea until she was shoved into a pond by a rather rude cadet." Her face darkened at the memory, years of anger a the treatment still there, deep inside. "She started to glitch and it fell to me to help fix her. Not exactly how she wanted to bring that subject up, as you can imagine.

"But yes, I did shift my studies at that point. Once I was made aware of what Vanya was, in addition to who she was, I ...may have taken it upon myself to make sure I knew enough to tend to her. This...may have blossomed into something of an obsession with Ai, holography. microprocessors, neural nets, the sort of fine motor mechanics..."
She let her voice trail off, then blushed and shrugged, looking up at Cross with a sheepish smile.

"She was the first friend I made at the academy, and one of the only I'd made, by the end of it. I may have become quite protective of her for that. I'd like to think that she simply sparked an interest that was already there. The field itself is fascinating. We were lucky enough to have Commander Data drop in for a lecture in my senior year, accompanied by Commander Maddox of the Daystrom Institute. A fascinating friendship there, considering the well documented JAG ruling in Data V Maddox, in 2365. And more recently, the EMH off of the USS Voyager and his journey makes for amazing reading, and reflected quite prominently, as you can imagine, in Thea's own course." She ran a hand through her hair, which had come loose as they'd walked along the path of alien flowers and trees. The exuberance was unmistakable. "I had read something about a hologram named Vic, on Deep Space Nine, that was recently being tested for possible sentience as well. Before...well, everything." she ended, rather lamely. She was not out of date and rather separated from her chosen specialty on a broader scale.
  • Last Edit: September 11, 2019, 08:14:33 PM by Brutus
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #14
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Corridors outside the Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]As the lift took them downwards, Natalie mused that Albert would likely be eager for more interaction with people, adding that most AI were very inquisitive upon attaining sentience. She also voiced curiosity as to whether or not Thea's sister ships would achieve the same state Thea had. The notion gave Cross pause, the Vulcan having never considered the idea. He'd had minimal dealings with Thea, to be fair, but had certainly found the ship's AI to be a unique individual.

Cross felt the change in temperature and humidity as they stepped into the Arboretum proper, the scent of the gardens washing over them. He inhaled deeply through his nose, relishing the myriad of aromas that permeated the air around them. That was one benefit of his correction, he reflected. His sense of smell was keener, and the scent of the gardens was all the more enjoyable for it. The scent of some of the crew members, well... that was another story.

Cross cast an inquisitive glance at his companion as Natalie voiced that she wasn't sure which she had found more surprising, Vanya's being an AI or a Romulan. He was surprised to hear that Stark's friend and former roommate was a Romulan AI. "A Romulan AI?" Cross mused, looking thoughtful for a moment. "I imagine her time at the Academy could not have been very easy..." Cross could sympathize, in that regard. He had caught more than a little flak during his Academy years, both for being an illogical Vulcan and for only being able to speak Kardasi, having not yet learn Federation Standard back then. He had made few friends during his time in San Francisco, though the teasing had ceased fairly quickly once those who would torment him realized that he lack not only a Vulcan's logic, but their restraint as well.

Natalie continued, explaining the events that had prompted Vanya to divulge her nature to Natalie, apparently following an incident that had left her with problems with her systems. "No, I can imagine she would have preferred to bring the fact up on her own terms." Cross agreed, giving Natalie a sideways glance. "I can imagine that it was a bit of a surprise for you, as well. Finding out your roommate was not only a Romulan, but a cybernetic one?"

Stark went on to explain the shift in her studies following her discovery about Vanya, taking it upon herself to be able to tend to her roommate. This choice had apparently started her down the road to self-proclaimed obsession with AI, holography, and a number of other fields that Cross knew little-to-nothing about. As Cross looked on, Natalie suddenly blushed, cutting herself off mid sentence and directing a sheepish smile his way. Cross smiled back as Stark went on to explain that Vanya was the first friend she'd made at the Academy, indeed one of the few she's made. Cross smiled at Natalie at the admission, and saw the Human run a hand through her hair as she paused in speaking. As the hair was pushed away from her face Cross could see her features alight with enthusiasm for the topic, though her tone of voice would have been enough to tell him as much. He reflected that he himself had been in a similar situation during his Academy years as Natalie had before she continued, moving on to talk about her classes, a JAG ruling which Cross didn't even try to remember the significance of, and a hologram on Deep Space 9.

Cross gave Stark an apologetic grin, his face colouring. "I'm not going to lie, Natalie. I'm not very well versed in your field. I did manage to understand about half of what you just said though." Cross reached up and ran his hand across the back of his head as he made the admission, looking for all the world like a guilty cadet who was admitting that they hadn't done his homework. "Sorry, you looked really enthusiastic about it. I just, uh..." Cross let his hand fall to his side, the blush in his face only growing. He was reluctant to admit how hard it had been to simply get to where he was, not wanting to spoil the tone of the conversation with talk of his... upbringing.

"I can relate to being protective of your roommate though." Cross made an attempt at a sheepish smile. His statement hadn't been an outright lie. He and Izar had become friends, and Cross had protected Izar during a number of incidents. "Though it sounds like you two were close. It must be nice to have your friend back." Cross realized he had once more touched on the subject which had been bothering the ship's 2XO earlier. "Even better once the Allegiant returns safely."

Cross pulled up short, his eyes settling on the still surface of the pond in the center of the gardens. "Though you may want to keep your friend away from the Arboretum." Cross added, giving Stark an amused glance. "A few days back a young woman tripped over me and ended up in the pond." He glanced at Stark, a mixture of amusement and embarrassment written on his features. "Apparently I'm a tripping hazard... I, uh... might have been lying in the grass at the time. I'd hate to have the same thing happen to Vanya. I imagine you've got more than enough paperwork to keep you busy without adding to it with system maintenance on your friend following a dip in the pond."
  • Last Edit: September 14, 2019, 03:17:42 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #15
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife


Given how little cause she had possessed, up until this point in her career, to talk about her days at the Academy, Natalie found it all very easy to speak of. Especially through the lenses of the passage of time, the freshness of some of the more unpleasant aspects dulled by the remove: the occasional jeer of a student with more temper than sense or decorum. The bite of anxiety, that would constantly pressure her those four years, compounded by her roommate's origins, and her own introverted natures. There was instead a memory of the good moments, more so than the bad. Perhaps especially compounded by the surroundings.

They reminded her ever so much of Boothby's gardens, and she said as much, noting "I do wonder what the groundskeeper would thing of these." She pointed to some tree that was bedecked with a faintly shining set of blue leaves on dark, nearly black barked limbs. She didn't recognize the species, but was fairly certain that its like did not come from Earth. Then again, she remembered assuming the same of the Mango grove that Boothby had painstakingly cultivated on the Academy grounds in San Francisco. "He was from Mars, it turned out, and was something of a taste of home for a girl who'd never spent so long away from the Red Planet. He and Vanya were some of the brightest points at the Academy for me.

"It was a nasty surprise, really. I nearly squeaked aloud that first day when I met her,"
she had, in fact, but chose to remember it some what differently, "When she smiled brightly at me as she introduced herself. Still not sure how I managed to get through the first day without actually passing out. It got easier once I got to know her. And then again when she was exposed as an Android. To me at least, if not the student body as a whole. The faculty knew, of course. Or some of them. The commandant and her advisers, as well as the medical staff. I think."

Giving a little shrug, she smiled again, relatively at ease with the way the evening had turned. "Honestly, what I remember the most about that day was the worry. She as twitching so uncontrollably. Odd, jerking motions, and I wanted so very badly to take her to the campus infirmary, but she insisted on going back to the room. That I could help her more readily than a trained doctor. I'm not entirely sure why I listened to her, but I did, and it all made sense in the end. I was...too worried to be surprised I think, or bothered by it. By that point I had firmly decided that I liked my roommate and this new quirk was...well, something to be accepted and moved on from.

"Though I did clearly become enthusiastic about it, after some time."
An understatement so understated as to be almost comical. Adding into the mix the way that Vanya had reacted to seeing her again, and all those older memories were taking on a slightly different light now. Giggling a bit sheepishly, she shrugged off Cross' concerns. "It's fine, you know. I can remember getting called out once for the glazed look I had on my face when Lt. Evoras was going on about some torpedo housing upgrade ages back, when I was still the freshly boarded Ops Assistant chief, sitting at a table with her, and Commanders Hendricks and Ziegler. She was the ships First Officer, now the Captain of the Cayuga," she informed him, unsure if he were aware of this or not. Hendricks, of course, has been her superior, whom she had replaced after his unfortunate death some time back. This however she chose not to mention, or dwell on.

By this point she imagined that Cross had met Evoras, and would know of her, if not know her well. That would come in time, as Natalie recalled the more junior Tactical Officer was now in the position of being Cross' Assistant. Or one of them. She'd been looking over the support structure for the departments as part of the integration efforts and recalled in turn that Vivian Martins younger brother had been assigned to the Cayuga and managed to contrive a way to remain aboard the Theurgy once he knew his sister was the ships current Chief Science officer, having finally found her again after her ship had become lost three years prior. And he's on the mission with Ives and Vanya right now, she remembered. If Evoras was to be Cross' right hand woman, the former Cayuga officer was to be his left hand man.

"I won't deny it.  Having her back is pretty much the only real bright spot I've had since we began to flee Earth." There had been Rory, but he had died saving her life. And for a moment there had been Lucan Nicander. The sickened feeling that welled up in her gut nearly stripped the smile from her face, and certainly made it strained for a moment, before she shoved thoughts of him, and Jefferies tubes aside. No, Vanya was the brightest point, the only one untainted. Even her current position, and the amount of trust that Ives had in her to fulfill the role, added with her interest in furthering her command abilities, were tainted with loss. "And though for different reasons, I imagine you'll be glad the ship gets back too. You've known Shar far longer than I have, and just like I lost an assistant to the mission, you did to."

Though she would revisit that in a moment, she'd felt her eyes go wide and a shark laugh burst out, before she covered her mouth and looked horrified. "Oh, I'm sorry, I really shouldn't laugh. But I'd heard Ensign Henshaw talking about going ass over teakettle in the park just this morning." She was blushing a bit, and her side began to ache just a little with repressed mirth. "I'm so sorry that was you. She's a bit accident prone, but really a good woman at heart. And she cares so deeply about the Captain. She's taken to being Ives Yeoman with a fervor that they do deserve." The role of Yeoman had fallen into and out of favor time and again over the years, as ships became more automated, and the Captain had more time to themselves, only to find the role roaring back into play when ships got too big, or on starbases where a commanding officer might have quite a few of those to attend their needs.

She wondered idly if Cameron was the type of Yeoman - or Ives the type of Captain to allow it - that took on the duty of making the Captain's bed and the like. She'd read about that in the biography of the departed Captain Rand, whom had worked her way up through the service, starting years ago as the primary Yeoman to Captain James Kirk during his historic Five Year Mission. She in turn had commanded an Excelsior-Class vessel on its own multi year mission just after the dawn of the 24th century, after having served aboard the class namesake Excelsior, as Chief of Communications, and then First Officer, during then Captain Sulu's command.

Realizing she'd gotten lost in thought on that tangent, she flushed (again) and apologized. "Sorry, my brain jumped ship on me just now to a completely unrelated thing. I am very sorry that Ens. Henshaw saw fit to disturb your relaxation." She was sure the woman had apologized quite a bit herself, and imagined that Cross had done the same. Looking around, she said, "I haven't actually tried stretching out on some of the grassier bits here, but I know for a fact you're not the only one to do so. Though you're more likely to find someone sitting cross legged in a form of mediation than fully laying out.

"As for the pond, I think there at least I have little to worry about. Vanya had, by the time we graduated, cultivated something of a sixth sense when it comes to bodies of water and avoiding them."
She supposed that was some kind of subroutine of her's, now that she gave it some thought. Sensible, in any event.

"Switching tracks a bit, how are you finding the new position?" she asked, venturing not quite into business again, but genuine curiosity. She liked the Nebula-class well enough, having served on one before, but it required a bit of shifting gears to go from one of those old work horses to the Theurgy, in more ways than one. "I've not had as much of a chance to go around and see how all the department heads are fairing. And a park like this is much more pleasant a place to make sure someone is settling in and getting a feeling for their subordinates, than a stuffy conference room, or the office they gave me as Ops Chief. Are you in the same boat as I am, barley getting a moment with Lt. Martin before he was off? And have you had time to get to know Lt. Evoras well?"

She wished she knew more of the members of the department, but unfortunately. Lt. Masuda Yukimura, the one she'd know best, having served as her CTO while in detached command of the Stallion, had perished in the Battle of the Apertures, along side so many others.
  • Last Edit: September 16, 2019, 11:48:41 PM by Brutus
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #16
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Corridors outside the Arboretum Café | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross couldn't help but smile as Natalie mentioned the Academy Groundskeeper, the Vulcan having fond memories of the carefully cultivated grounds at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco. Boothby had come across him one day as he'd been admiring one of the gardener's prized rose bushes. It had been Boothby who had initially planted the seed of Cross' love of plants. Cross smiled as Natalie reflected on what Boothby would think of a rather unique-looking tree with vibrant blue leaves. "I'm sure he'd love the arboretum, though I imagine he'd probably dig in an start tending to the plants rather than simply admiring them." Cross mused, chuckling to himself.

Cross sent a curious look in Natalie's direction as she mentioned that Boothby had been from Mars, just as she was, and that he and Vanya had been her brightest points at the Academy. A slight smile crept across the Vulcan's features as she admitted the fact. He listened quietly as she spoke of her surprise at meeting Vanya, claiming to have nearly squeaked aloud. She went on to tell him of the worry she had felt when Vanya had been experiencing problems. Cross' mind wandered for a moment, thinking back to his own Academy days, when he had rescued Izar from a ground of cadets who had been assaulting him. Cross' sense of concern was not as intense as Stark's had apparently been for Vanya, though over time he had grown much more friendly with the half-Cardassian. His mind was brought back to the present when Natalie mentioned that getting Vanya back was also one of the few bright spots since the Theurgy's flight from Earth.

"You must have a strong attachment to her.' Cross said, giving Natalie a slight smile. "I know you likely haven't had many bright experiences since the Theurgy fled, but for her to be the bright point of both now and your Academy days, well..." Cross' smile spread, his pale eyes meeting hers with their unblinking gaze. "It's good that you have someone so dear to you back in your life."

The warm smile waned slightly as Stark mentioned that he would be glad when the Allegiant returned, both for the return of Shar and his own assistant CTO, the grin taking on an almost guilty aspect. "To be honest, I'm not close with Shar. Or particularly friendly, for that matter, though I'm not sure she's particularly friendly with anyone. As for Mr. Martin, well, I've hardly met the man. It will be nice to have help with the workload, at any rate. I'm sure Evoras will think so too."

Cross started in surprise when Natalie let out a burst of laughter at his admission to tripping someone into the pond, the Commander quickly covering her mouth and casting a horrified glance in his direction. All Cross could do was grin broadly at the look on Stark's face and she began to apologize, informing him that she'd heard of an Ensign Henshaw speaking of falling into the pond that morning. It was Cross' turn to laugh then as Stark blushed once again, apologizing for not knowing that was him. Apparently this Ensign Henhaw was the Captain's Yeoman, and quite accident prone. "Please, don't apologize!" Cross laughed, shaking his head. "Though apparently it's a more common problem than I'd thought! That wasn't me that sent Ms. Henshaw into the drink." Cross finally got control of his laughter, taking a deep breath to calm himself. "The unfortunate soul I sent tipping into the pond was Heather McMillan, four days ago." Cross glanced at the pond, then back to Natalie with a highly amused expression. "They may need to install railings around the ponds at this rate!" Cross chuckled, glancing at Stark. "Perhaps we'd best steer clear of the ponds. We wouldn't want one of us to be the next ones to go in." His eyes narrowed as he regarded the Human beside him, the hint of a mock dark grin playing on his features. "And before you think of pushing me in, know that I'll do my damnedest to drag you in with me." Cross' grin turned more genuine as he added "Ma'am." for good measure.

As Stark's face flushed once more, the Theurgy's 2XO admitting that she had been lost in her own thoughts, apologizing for Ensign Henshaw disturbing his relaxation. She also informed him that she hadn't tried stretching out on the grass, though she had heard of others doing it, and yet more sitting in the green patches to meditate. The thought caused Cross to make a mental note of coming here to meditate, the idea never having occurred to him. He tended to be private about such things, though the notion of meditating in this place was extremely appealing.

Stark changed the subject then, asking how he was finding the new position, adding that she hadn't had the chance to check in with the various department heads. She noted that the gardens was a much more relaxing place to get to know a subordinate than the conference room, which Cross couldn't help but agree with. She went on to ask if he had met Martin and Evoras, which brought an amused look over him.

"Martin I only met in passing before he left aboard the Allegiant. Evoras I've met, and while I don't know her well, I don't foresee any problems there." Cross gave Stark a sideways glance before he continued. "Evoras has proven more than capable, and a hard worker. She's certainly an interesting individual." And a cheeky thing, he didn't add as he thought back to her parting remarks from their meeting a few days ago. She had claimed he had stolen her kill when he had fired the Versant's full array of torpedoes into the Borg Cube at what many aboard were now calling the Battle of the Apertures. "As for the position, I'm settling in fine. There's a few in my department from the Endeavour, so there's a couple familiar faces as well." Cross glanced at Nat with a wry grin. "And it might be easier for you to check in with the department heads if the ship weren't in three pieces docked in three different places. I've certainly found that to take some getting used to!" Cross stopped to turn her gaze over at a pond at the moment, recognizing it as the one he had sent McMillan sailing into a few days previous. He turned and smiled at his companion. "How about you? There's a lot of new faces aboard. The XO, Chief Engineer, myself, chief medical officer. Your assistant Chief of Ops. How are you adjusting?"

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #17
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum| Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

The smile stayed well entrenched as they made their way slowly though the shipboard park, meandering at a leisurely pace. Nat's hands were clasped behind her back as they walked, which had the effect of thrusting her chest forward a bit, but she paid it no mind, like she might have when she was younger. Her focus was more on the conversation and the companion, than her anxious habits of self doubt and over analysis. Talking about work, talking about mutual acquaintances, and old friends, helped serve to keep the Ops Chief at ease. She could, for instance, easily see Boothby padding about the Arboretum, fussing here and there about some plant or another, and chiding away Cir'Cie and the other botanical specialists in the science department. She said as such to Cross, giggling at the description after agreeing with him, in regards to the steadfast, elderly groundskeeper back in San Francisco. 

"In all honestly, I struggled quite a bit with making friends at the Academy. There was no struggle at all when it came to Vanya, and given the vast gulf between our experiences before the Academy, that's still something I find fascinating to this day. We very different, and yet we took to each other so fast that I almost didn't notice that not many others had the time of day for me." She shrugged a bit, the smile still fairly fond, for she was thinking of her friend, and where things stood, and might go, and not the loneliness that occasionally crept in, or the sense of loss after graduation. Making friends on the ships she'd been posted to had been...difficult. No one really wanted to get close to the reclusive Ops Ensign fresh from the Academy, despite a caring guidance from the Mjolnir's Ops Chief.  They were also in the last throes of the Dominion War - plenty of officers and crew were too scared to get attached to anyone new - who could tell how long they would last. 

But that was then and this was now, and as hellish as the past few months had been, there were parts that were looking up. It wasn't just Vanya, but she was...the icing on the cake, perhaps. Or maybe the whole cake, at this rate.  But from old friend to new, Natalie felt her eyes go wide. "Good lord, how many people are falling into that pond?"

Despite herself, she had to glance in its direction, and idly wondered if a rail might be a good idea. As a general rule, no one went into the pond, though if she remembered correctly, one of the Neotins...the father, whose name escaped her just then - had taken a dip in there quite on purpose. Aquatic by nature, he found it as normal as ....well, as taking a walk in the park. "Miss McMillan has certainly had a rough go of it herself," Natalie allowed, wondering just how both of the women ended up in the pond in such short order. Of course, she was familiar with Heather's circumstances. A lot rode on the young woman's shoulders, and Natalie could only feel sympathy for the gentle creature that now had to adjust to a new body. 

Cameron has no excuse though, Natalie thought with a giggle. She'd have to do something nice for both of the apparently accident prone young women at some point. Someone has to keep an eye on them. Though...Carrigan aught to do so for Heather. What a mess.[/i] Those thoughts were set a side. She had no time for less than pleasant reflections, and the entire circumstances that resulted in Carrigan Trent's demotion could be laid fully at the feet of his affection for the unsure footed scientist and the choices he'd made there in. Firmly in the 'unpleasant' category. "Have no fear, Commander, I have very little intention of shoving you into the pond. Or ending up there myself." As funny as it might be, using that to shift her mind away from the darker observations, she really had no illusions that if she tried such a thing, she was more likely to be the one in the drink than the Vulcan. 

"I'm gratified that Evoras, at least, is making a decent impression. Hopefully Mr. Martin will be able to so so as well." She pondered, very briefly, about how Salem Martin had been the one to pull the trigger on the late Lt. Commander Marquez, when he'd become infected with Borg nanoprobes. She wondered if that were something she herself could have done for the former Chief Tactical Officer, had she been the one next to him. She wondered, what that said about Salem Martin. But that was for Cross to decide for himself, not Natalie. She had, as Cross pointed out, many new faces to adjust to that had a more direct impact on her day to day job than the assistant chief's of the tactical department.

"Unfortunately this is the best way to get the ship back in working order. She really is three ships in one, her own little fleet, and they have to be patched that way. Makes it hell on finding everyone, and I won't pretend my transporter officers aren't feeling ragged. At this point I'm drafting pretty much anyone with decent experience beaming people from one place to another to help spot my officers. Everyone in ops has taken a shift at this point on one of the Transporter Rooms, or down in the Cargo Bays. Even me." She'd in fact, spotted a promising young junior officer whom thought they could pull one too many double shifts, trying to help out. They couldn't, and Natalie had stepped in, sending the young man to bed.

"New faces...Well, I won't pretend that this isn't an adjustment. It is," she said softly, taking a long breath to steady herself. "Dr. Tyre...made a very good first impression. He has...well, he's got some big shoes to fill and a dark, dark shadow to get out from under for the medical department, so, in some ways, having him come in, a completely new, unknown figure is something of a blessing. A clean slate for Medical, at least at the department head level. There's no black mark on his reputation. He's unknown but he's not...infamous. And that's a major plus.

"As for everyone else,"
she wrung her hands together and shrugged a bit. They moved from left to right, back and forth as she spoke, getting more animated the longer the conversation went on. "There have been enough people holding down the post of Chief Engineer since I came aboard the Theurgy last year that its hard to keep track of. Most of them rotated in and out, and a large number of those were not under pleasant circumstances. I'm quite glad that Billy Bob - that is, Master Chief O'Connell made it out of the position alive. That he is so...different from Lt. Commander Tiran is an adjustment. Though, at least now I know how to get a leg up on her."

She winked, grateful, toward Cross for that tid bit. The Engineer was abrasive on her best days and it was a hard struggle for Natalie to adjust to her, compared to Billy Bob, or any of the others, for that matter. "Its kind of the same thing with Commander Ducote. I haven't had a great read on him, but your crew thinks highly of your - our - first officer, and other than his initial butting heads with Mr. Wenn during their first meeting, he seems to be a fairly reliable officer. Again, he doesn't have the darker history that the position has held. Miss Rez was reliable - up until the point she wasn't. Lt. Trent...was reliable. Up until the point he wasn't. I'm really hoping the Commander remains reliable." It wasn't an easy thing to say, but that was that. 

"Shar is an unknown to me, just as Mr. Martin is for you. I've only bummed into her the one time before the Allegiant shipped out." A memorable first meeting, to be sure, but Natalie wasn't going to mention that to Cross. "And you've done a pretty decent job of making your own introductions. You're the first one to seek me out on your own initiative, as a mater of fact. Well, other than Ducote, but we'd met before, prior to the battle of the Apertures."

"It's Lt. Commander Hathev I feel the worse for out of everyone though. She's got to deal with a ship full of basket cases, and here she is, coming off the Bellerophon and having to represent all the members of that crew...whom have been hunting us for months, and whose ship we blew apart."
She bit her lip. Natalie had stuck her foot in things well and truly when she'd mentioned, in a prior meeting, that Hathev would be taking over for Lt.jg Ejek. Personally, she had liked the young Cardassian from the Resolve, but had inadvertently hurt her when she'd made it known that she'd be replaced. Ejek had done a journeyman's job of playing the role of First Officer to Natalie's brief stint as Captain of the Stallion. So there was a lot going on, with  regards to Nats feelings about the Consoling department. "Its less of an adjustment issue for me, though I did like both of her predecessors. Lt. Ejek is serving as Hathev's Assitant, and that's well and good but...That's a lot to put on someone's shoulders. I suppose Commander Ducote ...all of you have just as hard a time of it, but none of you were actively hunting us down."
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #18
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross glanced at Natalie as they strolled lazily along the pathways of the Arboretum, each walking with their hands clasped behind their backs. As Cross glanced over at the shorter officer beside him, he couldn't help but notice that the manner she held herself had the effect of pushing her chest forward, a fact that quickly caused Cross to glance away, his eyes seeking distraction in the foliage around them. The Vulcan's cheeks flushed, his skin taking on a green tint as though hoping to camouflage itself against the backdrop of the arboretum's plant life. He only hoped Stark hadn't noticed where his gaze had momentarily travelled.

That would make an excellent impression on your new 2XO, wouldn't it? Cross chided himself as he fought for a moment to think of the trees and not the profile of the woman strolling along beside him. He looked back in Stark's direction as she let out a giggle, giving her a warm smile as she painted the mental image of Boothby chasing off the ship's botanical experts so as to tend the grounds himself, the image both amusing him and distracting him from his previous thoughts. It was a recurring problem lately, the aftermath of the Savi's genetic correction which unfortunately left him more prone to displays of embarrassment, along with other emotions. He had always been an emotional creature, but things had been much more troublesome since the Versant.

As Stark admitted that she had struggled in making friends at the Academy, though not when it had come to Vanya. "I believe you Humans have a saying that "opposites attract", do you not?" Cross asked, giving the Commander a sideways glance, the blush momentarily returning to his features. "I understand it's generally used in a romantic sense, though that doesn't need to be the case." Cross gave a weak smile as he pressed on. "I can relate though. To not having an easy time making friends at the Academy. A Vulcan-Bajoran hybrid who only spoke Kardasi wasn't exactly the hallmark of popularity when I was at the Academy."

Cross chuckled as Natalie voiced the question as to how many people had fallen into the pond, then a proper laugh as she assured him she had no intention of shoving him into the pond, much less ending up in there herself. Cross listened as she continued to talk, alternating his gaze between the woman in question and the surrounding scenery, though he focused on her once more as she admitted that all the new faces were an adjustment, speaking first of Doctor Tyre. As she moved on to Engineering, and Blue Tiran with it, she mentioned that Blue was quite an adjustment, though now she had a way of getting a leg up on her. She gave him a wink to go along with the statement, prompting Cross to both involuntarily blush at the gesture and grin in reply. He hoped the suggestion of the vile yellow pasties would help Commander Stark to smooth her dealing with the ship's new Chief Engineer somewhat. Blue had had a hard go of things, and if he could ease her dealings with the Theurgy's staff, well, then he would happily share the secret of her twinkie obsession.

Natalie went on to speak of Commander Ducote, mentioning that his predecessors had been reliable; right up until they hadn't been. Cross had little doubt that Ducote could be relied upon, having served under the man previously on the Endeavour, though he understood Stark's apparent reluctance given the Theurgy's history. "All I can tell you is that I trust Commander Ducote. I know that means little, as you don't know me any better than you do him, but he's a good man." He gave Stark an impish grin then. "Besides, you want the Commander on your side. He's the one to call in the event of a Code Blue."

As Natalie made mention of the fact that he had done a decent job of making introductions, as he was the first to actively seek her out, he couldn't help but shake his head. "That's a first. I'm hardly one that would generally be described as the outgoing type." Cross chuckled, casting a sideways glance at Stark. "If I'm being honest, I almost didn't come over to introduce myself. It was a touch-and-go thing for a minute there."

Cross looked over in interest as Stark spoke of Commander Hathev, Cross having a meeting booked with the Theurgy's new Chief Counsellor for the following day. He had not met the Vulcan counsellor yet, and wasn't sure what to expect in the meeting to come. A hybrid until only the week previous, Cross had had his fair share of negative dealings with his own kind, and looked to the meeting with a sense of apprehension. Cross found himself raising an eyebrow as Stark made mention of the fact that Hathev had come from the Bellerophon. "It seems that you and the Captain are among the only senior staff originally from your own ship." Cross mused, giving Natalie a sympathetic glance. "And so, on behalf of all the new faces that you're having to adjust to, including the grouchy Andorians and irate engineers, let me say you've been most accommodating. Thank you, Commander Stark." Cross gave her a little mock bow for good measure, his expression taking on a look of amusement as he did so.

His expression returned to a more neutral one as Stark made mention of the fact that Ducote, himself and the rest of the Endeavour crew hadn't been trying to hunt them down previously. "No, I suppose we weren't. Though it could have just as easily been us, had we received the orders." Cross admitted, his expression not giving away his thoughts on the matter. "While I understand the threat you've been trying to warn the Federation about, it's likely a good many of the officers in Task Force Archeron are simply following orders, and genuinely believe you... we... have gone renegade." Cross looked at Natalie then, his expression hard even as his eyes held a hint of sadness. "If the Endeavour had been ordered after you, It could very easily have been us out there hunting you. To be honest, if I'd been ordered to fire on a ship that I thought was a traitor to Starfleet and the Federation, I don't think I would have had any compunctions on following that order. I owe Starfleet everything after they... well..." Cross cleared his throat, giving Natalie a somewhat abashed glance. "Though for what it's worth, I'm glad it wasn't us hunting you."
  • Last Edit: October 19, 2019, 12:30:05 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #19
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum| Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

Fortunately for the transplanted Vulcan from the Endeavour, Natalie remained just as clueless as ever when it came to the male gaze. Or the Female Gaze. The non-binary as well. Any gaze really, unless it was made blatantly obvious, pinged off of the Martian's deflector screens as superluminal speed. And if she had noticed, the odds are she would have been entirely too flustered to comment on  the subject. It might have made for an interesting log entry after the fact, however.

"Ah, yes I've heard the saying before," she noted with a faint blush of her own now as she ran down a path in her mind. She had the beginnings of a romance with Rory, before he'd died. He was a gregarious, outgoing singer and bartender, which was very much not Natalie. And loath as she was to contemplate the whole situation, Dr. Nicander was a dark, mysterious type, charismatic and enticing, that - had he not been a snake as well - would have also been a perfect candidate for 'opposites attract.' As for Vanya..."Given my track record I'd say there is plenty of evidence to the accuracy of that cliche. In friends or otherwise. You can't get much more opposite of me than a towering Romulan Android," she added with a healthy laugh.

"For such a generally welcoming place, the Academy can be down right silo'd at times. You're either 'in' or you're not. Mind you, coming to the Academy at a time when the Federation was on the brink of, and then in, a war did not exactly lend itself to making friends, or being welcoming." A rank understatement. Natalie had just graduated prior to the Breen attack on Earth in the later part of 2375, but she knew some of the other cadets, behind her in school that had not been so lucky. They moved rapidly on from there, and this time she did  catch Cross blushing at her little giggle and wink routine.

Pleased, it eased her into the conversation that followed, as they wound their way deeper, toward the back of the Arboretum. The space was massive, in a relative sense, but smaller than the illusions you got in a holodeck. It was a strange dichotomy, as the room she was in now was physically larger than any of the Holodecks, and was 'real' to boot. Somehow smaller and larger and....well. She let out a snort as she meandering mind was brought back to a single track focus. "Code Blue is what you all call it? I've heard some of the junior officers referring to a 'blue menace'. Need to stamp that out if I can, before I catch myself using it. I know Captain Ives wants his senior staff to get along, after all. I will keep it in mind though.. Code Blue."

"You decided to make the effort all the same Commander, and I've certainly appreciated it so far. A lovely dinner alone is nice and all, but the surprise of pleasant company and a meandering walk about after dinner is pretty good too. Even for an introvert trying to pretend to be an extrovert like myself." She was falling into the ease of conversation after having gotten over her initial hurdle of discomfort. She wondered idly if this was something she might have been capable of back at the Academy if she had applied herself, or if it was simply a by product of experience, and the crucible the last few months had been. Were she to be honest with herself, she imagined it was the latter, and not the former.

Cross' bow cut some of the hurt that his words had evoked. She had, on more than one occasion since the ship's vectors had reintegrated and they'd recovered the surviving crew from the Versant lamented the sad fact that she was, indeed, of a rare breed. To be fair, however, she said softly, "If we want to be accurate and fair, Lt. Commander Ravon was also aboard the Theurgy prior to all of ....this." She wrung her hands together. "Though he wasn't the squadron leader at the time. Mind you, I wasn't the Ops Chief when all this started either, let alone Second officer. Squad leader is technically a Senior Staff position.

"But I do appreciate your point. You are quite welcome, Commander."
Though they had been joking, her response bore a striking amount of sincerity to it, such that it surprised her. She fell into a contemplative silence as their thoughts moved to the task force.

"If i were not already on this ship, it would be so very easy to see how it could be. How all of them...It makes you think, about what you hear from command. What you hear on the FNN. What's real and what is spin? It undermines the entire chain of authority. We are right, and what we're doing here needs doing, but good God, what is going to happen when this is over. Even if we win, how can anyone trust the chain of command again. How can their not be suspicion and worry, with a conspiracy this large." Never mind the worry about how anyone could trust them again. Being right, and being forgiven, were two very different things, as she and Captain Anya Ziegler had argued a week back.

Taking a deep breath, Natalie came to a stop beneath the branches of a willow tree, shrugging her shoulders once. "I find that dwelling on what might have been is a prescription for depression, or a massive headache brought on by late night studies of the multiverse theory. Neither of which, I have to say, are very fun." The voice of experience. "I am glad that you weren't assigned to hunt us down. This is hard enough on Commander Hathev, not that you'd know by looking at her. I cannot imagine how hard it might be if half the senior staff had come from that sort of assignment. On those already here, or on you.

"So I really, truly am glad you were off on another assignment."
  • Last Edit: October 06, 2019, 05:46:25 PM by Brutus
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #20
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross listened as Stark made mention of a Commander Ravon, who was also an original member of the Theurgy's crew compliment. The squadron leader, to be precise, and therefore also one of the senior staff. Cross remained silent as Natalie added "you're welcome" in response to his thanks, their slow steps taking them along a path which took them under some low hanging branched of a tree that Cross was not familiar with.

Cross paused for a moment, staring up into the branches for a moment before glancing at Natalie as she voiced the reasoning that, given what was passed down by command and aired on the FNN, it would be easy to believe the false claims that the Theurgy had indeed turned traitor. She went on to give voice to the question of what would happen when this was all over. How could command ever be trusted again? How could a conspiracy of this magnitude not taint Starfleet's image, not to mention the rest of the Federation?

There would certainly be a great deal of rebuilding to do.

Cross had begun moving again by that point, and he listened intently as Stark commented on how hard it must be for some of the crew, those who had come from vessels which had been assigned to hunt the Theurgy as well as those that hadn't. Cross imagined Commadner Hathev and the rest must have had some conflicting feelings about signing on with their former quarry.

Well, perhaps not Hathev, being a Vulcan and all. Not that she'd admit to in any event.

Cross directed a smile at Natalie as she concluded that she was glad that Cross had been off on another assignment. The truth was, he was afraid of what might have happened had he been assigned to the task force which hunted them. Cross had joined up with Starfleet because he felt he owed them everything that he was. His very life. Had he been assigned to hunt a ship that had turned traitor, he wasn't sure he would have given a second thought to the truth behind the reports.

Probably best not to tell her that, though... He mused to himself, deciding to change the subject. "As you said, perhaps it's best not to dwell on such thoughts." Cross conceded. He directed a curious glance at Natalie as they continued along, his eyes making sure to focus on her face and not elsewhere. "So tell me, what made Natalie Stark, a self-proclaimed introvert from Mars, decide to join Starfleet?" Cross regarded her with a look of interest as he posed the question, though after a moment his cheeks coloured slightly. "Forgive me if the question is too personal, but I've found people's reasons for joining are as varied as the people themselves, so I'm always curious."
  • Last Edit: October 19, 2019, 12:29:38 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #21
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum| Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 


She couldn't help but wonder how much Cross' thoughts mirrored her own, on reflection of all the 'what might have beens'. After all, that was a wide ranging subject, even if one focused only on the immediate past few weeks. If the Endeavour had been part of the task force searching for the Theurgy, they might have been utterly destroyed a few times over before seeing the Borg in the nebula. Or they might still be intact, now, having been spared the dual encounters with the Borg and the Savi, and been a surviving member of the task force, warned out of the nebula just in the nick of time by the Cayuga.

What might have been,
Natalie thought, of the immediate past, and of Cross' question. It was asked lightly, casually, and followed with a hedging sort of apology. The former hybrid was curious about her, his interests having been tickled by their conversation. Natalie still had to resist the knee jerk reaction to withdraw into her self, and take the proffered out - that the answer was quite personal indeed - as a way to avoid talking about the subject that sat at the core of Natalie's Starfleet career, her reason for being here. But for one faulty modulator....what might have been, indeed?

Swallowing, Natalie then licked at her lips, nervous, for a second as she gathered herself for a response. She did not say 'no, its fine,' or some platitude like that, but she did answer. Her shoulders squared off, and her gaze darted away from the Vulcan tactical officer, looking out instead to the trees lining the far wall. "The short answer is my brother is the reason that I joined Starfleet. The short answer leaves you with a lot of questions of course. Plenty of officers chase their siblings path into the fleet, and family is a strong call to service. My father worked at the Utopia Planitia fleet yards, and was probably the reason that my brother decided to join. I honestly would have followed my mothers career, into Academia, if left to my own devices."

Can't leave it there, she thought, and smiled wistfully at no one in particular, still not quite looking at Cross. "The long answer, commander, is that my brother and mother both died, in a shuttle accident that I and my father barely survived, days before my brother was to leave for the Academy. All the emotional trauma and baggage that accompanied that fallout is what eventually drove me to take his place. Forced me first into my shell, drawing my studies around me, and then back out of it, when I stepped in to fill the shoes of another dead man. My predecessor, Commander Christian Hendricks. He was the ships Chief of Operations when I first joined up on the Theurgy

"Funnily enough, in that sick sort of not funny at all way, he died in an accident as well."
She knew better than to blame herself for that, of course. Lt. Neils had helped her get past that particular hang up. Shrugging, she turned to look at Cross now, something apologetic in her features. "I coped with the loss by burying myself in my work, hiding away and developing rather introverted tendencies. Much easier to stay at home studying that...grow attached. The Academy helped with some of that. Experience helped with the rest, and here I am now. Still working on it.

"Not the most light hearted answer, I'm sorry to say."
The smile wasn't a hurt one, though there was a trace of something bittersweet in her tone. Understandable. She added, in a false sort of chipper attitude, "And I'm not the only person telling the exact same tale. I would not be surprised if, even now, there are cadets joining up, who are stepping into shoes that were, or should have been filled by a brother or sister, or some other form of family, that either can no longer, or never got the chance, to serve. " Left unspoken, was the possibility that her ship, her actions, direct, or indirect, were the cause of such a loss. 

"If your story is as...depressing as mine, don't feel like you have to share it, Commander. Curious as I might be," she smiled again, the duo having stopped for this particular discourse, tucked away in a small grove of willow trees. 
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745hrs] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #22
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum | Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross noticed that Natalie initially seemed hesitant to answer his question, and found himself wondering if he should have remained silent rather than prying to her past. Cross knew that many, himself included, did not have the most happy of memories of their pasts. Cross regretted asking the question as he saw Stark lick her lips, a clear sign of momentary nervousness, before looking away. For a moment he suspected she wouldn't answer, though she seemed to pull herself up straight and steel herself briefly before she began to speak.

She started off with the simple explanation that her brother was the reason she'd decided to join Starfleet, though quickly began to expand on the statement. She admitted that she would likely have followed in her mother's footsteps, had she been left to it. All the while she gazed off at the trees, still not looking at him, and Cross made a mental note not to be so nosey in the future. Then she told him that her brother and mother had both died, killed in a shuttle accident that she and her father had barely survived themselves. All this had come to pass just days before her brother was to leave for the Academy. It certainly explained her nervousness and reluctance to meet his gaze. He suspected that just thinking back on the memory of those events was, in it's own way, a troubling experience.

Cross nodded as she continued, remaining silent as Natalie explained that the ensuing emotional impact and aftermath of the events was what had prompted her to enlist in Starfleet. She also admitted that it had caused her to withdraw, to become more closed off until forced out of that safe place by the death of the Theurgy's former Ops Chief. She added that Hendricks had died in an accident as well, noting it was one of funny events that weren't the truly humorous sort of funny, but rather the tragic sort. She turned to look at him then, her expression seeming almost apologetic, though Cross couldn't think of why. There was certainly nothing that she should be apologizing for in anything that she had said. Cross chalked it up to another oddity of Humans as he remained quiet, listening as Natalie admitted that she'd initially coped with the losses she'd suffered by burying herself in her work and pulling away from others. That, at least, was something Cross could understand. She wore a bittersweet smile as she finished her narrative, noting that her answer to his question had hardly been light hearted.

"Not light hearted, no." Cross agreed, giving her a smile of his own. "Though it's your story, and I asked. Thank you for telling me, and I'm sorry. About your brother and mother."

Cross nodded as Natalie remarked on the fact that she was hardly the first person to join Starfleet with such a story. Even now, she mused, there were likely cadets joining that bore similar tales. As she voiced the words, Cross suspected there was more to the thought that she wasn't putting to words, though he opted not to press for more as she turned the table on him, expressing her curiosity as his own story, though giving him the option of not needing to relate the tale if his story was as depressing as hers. Cross smiled at this, the smile genuine and pleasant and causing the ridged on the bridge of his nose to multiply for a brief moment.

"My story is not one people would generally refer to as a happy one, but I don't mind tell it. My past isn't something I talk about much, though that's mostly because some find it off-putting." He shrugged, as though he didn't really see it one was or the other. He glanced over at one of the ponds, the smile fading from his features to be replaced by a neutral expression holding neither joy nor sorrow as he spoke. "I was born in a Cardassian prison camp. I don't know where. I never bothered to ask afterwards. I wasn't a refugee, but rather the result of a spur-of- the-moment experiment. The Cardassians had a Vulcan prisoner that was undergoing pon farr, and decided to see what would happen if they threw him in a containment cell with a Bajoran woman." Cross glanced at Stark then and gave another shrug. "I was the result. I grew up in the camp, mostly in the medical facilities being subjected to test and experiments, until the camp was liberated many years later by Starfleet." Cross smiled slightly, opting not to voice hor horrific the camp had truly been. There were some things that he had learned were better omitted from polite conversation.

"Starfleet gave me everything. My freedom. A life. An education. Even a name. I owe everything that I have to Starfleet. Those officers that beamed down that day to start freeing the camp's inhabitants were like a beacon of hope to me." Cross blushed slightly, his eyes moving away from Natalie's to gaze at the boughs of the willows which reached out overhead as though to provide them with a degree of privacy for the present conversation. "I wanted to be like them. To bring hope to those who had none. So, after I'd gone through several years of rehabilitation to learn how to function in a proper society, I joined Starfleet to pursue that aim." Cross sighed slightly, turning his gaze back to Natalie. "I can't say I fully understand what you went through before you joined. I never had a family. But I am sorry for your loss. That being said, I feel the Theurgy has been lucky to have you. If Captain Ives has made you 2XO, you've obviously proven yourself more than capable." Cross directed an almost guilty smile at Stark, looking somewhat sheepish. "Perhaps we should switch to a more cheerful topic. I haven't set us on the most pleasant of paths, have I?"
  • Last Edit: October 19, 2019, 12:29:14 AM by Fife

Re: Day 06 [1745 hrs.] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #23
[Lt. Cmdr. Natalie Stark | Arboretum| Deck 22 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ]Attn: @Fife 

Books often made mention about a 'great weight, lifting from the shoulders' when someone unburdened themselves by speaking about the past aloud. Perhaps that had been the case the first time Natalie had been forced to - had acquiesced - to talk about her brothers death. That had been years back though, during her time at the Academy. Now, it stung, but there was no sudden realization that she was better for talking about it. No easing of tension that had bore down on her, though unnoticed, until it was gone. Simply, the silence settling in after having talked about something dark from her past, that would always be a part of her, but was no longer the one defining trait that drove everything. Duty had replaced that, and loyalty, to those that mattered, not just the ghost of Eric Stark. 

With a little jerk of her hand, pulled away from where it had been wrapped around her stomach, Natalie waved off the sympathies and gratitude from the other Lieutenant Commander. "You are welcome. But it's been eleven years, not quite half a life time, I suppose, not too far from it. I've had time to accept what happened. I appreciate the sympathy though." There were far more recent losses, for all of them, that hung heavy on her mind. Eric, was a distant ache, whom she would always miss, but whom she had grown used to being without, as sad as that was. The loss of friends, like Simon Tovarek and Rory Callahan, the loss of what might have been with him. And more so, that of Sten Covington, a father figure and mentor. That would be the ones that would hurt for some time to come. 

Unbidden, her eyes darted up to the wall on the second floor of the Atrium, just below the cafe. The golden names on plaques, from the various losses that had been taken during their mad run. Every death since Jupiter Station was recorded on that wall. She knew Simon and Sten's names were there on the memorial. Rory. Cale Winterbourne and Aisha S'iti, flight officers that often  manned the helm during Alpha shift alongside Natalie at Ops. So many others...So many honored dead.

Still, she'd managed to tease a smile out of Cross as she flipped the focus back onto him. That counted for something, and she smiled softly herself. There would be time for a private walk along the balcony some other time. Likely on a sleepless night. For now, she would focus on the company on hand, and put the golden wall, and the ghosts of the past, back into the past where they belonged. Instead she'd dwell in Cross' past. That'll be much more fun, won't it?

Giving a nod, she crossed her arms again, under her bust and turned her focus to the former hybrid, her eyes fluttering across his face. She watched as his face shifted, from something happy, or at least somewhat happy, to the blank look of memory that Natalie may very well herself had held not moments before. Having been unable to observe herself, she would not know that she lacked some of the control of her features that Cross seemingly exerted now upon his own countenance. He gave her his warning, and sure enough, Natalie felt that it was not a happy story that unfolded. She'd already blundered into bits of his past, when she'd made the off hand suggestion that he and Silim Parnak might find enjoyment in a good conversation over a glass of Kanar. Growing up in a camp run by Cardassian's would certainly explain his distaste for that notion.

Matching Cross' slight smile with a grim one of her own, Natalie nodded in return. She had heard of Starfleet raids on the prison camps, in a dim sort of way when she was growing up. The Cardassian boarder, and the wars the Federation fought with them, before the fragile peace of her teenage years, seemed far from the orbit of Mars, and the shores of Lake Bardbury. Cross however, not only lived through it, but was born from it. A science experiment. Absolutely horrid. No wonder he hates them all. 

"If you ask me that's a pretty...well, good isn't the right word; and solid doesn't seem to do it justice. Its a reason to join, for sure. To be able to do for others what they did for you. It's...probably every Starfleet Officer hopes that they have an impact like that on someone, even if only once. I can understand wanting to give back." she smiled as she bungled her way through trying to express her feelings on the subject, and blushed slightly at his follow up - about the Theurgy, and her place. She'd not been on the ship more than a year and she'd been promoted in rank once, and position twice. Attrition was a bitch, and they'd all learned that during the Dominion War, but even so...

"Captain Ives seemed a bit surprised at my shock, when s\he made the appointment to Second officer official. As if there should have been no question that I would get the open spot. I'll admit it was quite a confidence booster, to know that they had that much faith in me. I certainly didn't." Sounding and looking sheepish just as Cross did, she rubbed at the back of her head a bit. "It's not Mars, but this ship has become home. After everything we've been through, its a place, and a people I will fight for. But you're right.

"This isn't exactly pleasant territory. To be fair, the last 15 year's of Federation history hasn't exactly been a fun one. Between the Borg, the Maquis, the Dominion, putting everything back together, Tezwa, and then Shinzon  and the collapse of the Romulan Empire....It's been a rough go for everyone."
She gave a little shrug, wondering, - unable to resist the speculation - as to how much of the Federations woes could be lain at the feet of the Infested and their parasitical machinations. Common opinion was that the Borg were coming, one way or another, and that the entity known as Q just sped up the time tables. And yet, Natalie knew that the Federations ability to survive the invasion of the Alpha quadrant by the Dominion, and eventually win, came in part from the lessons learned at Wolf 359.

"Happier paths, happier paths. Well, I know you like kanar. Favorite food?" She flashed him a quick smile and moved her arms back around behind her back, twisting a bit from side to side, as she forced through that subject change.
Note: No Posting while at GenCon, 7/31-8/5/2019

Re: Day 06 [1745 hrs.] Victuals, Visitors and a View
Reply #24
[ Lt. Cmdr. Cross | Arboretum | Deck 20 | Vector 03 | USS Theurgy ] Attn: @Brutus
[Show/Hide]Cross had been slightly worried about telling his story to Stark, as he was well aware of the fact that some people could find it off-putting. Even without the details which had been omitted, which would turn the story from a simple explanation to something rather more horrific, it was still a far from pleasant tale. Stark began to speak after he'd finished, adding her belief that most Starfleet officers wanted to have an impact on others in the way he desired to. The comments may have been simple enough, but Cross found it rather comforting. She blushed again as he made mention of her obvious abilities if Captain Ives had decided to promote her to 2XO, and Cross found him blushing backa t her almost reflexively, and once again inwardly cursed himself for the green display which spread across his visage.

He listened quietly as Natalie spoke of the Captain's surprise at her shock upon her appointment to the position of Second Officer, giving her a slight smile as she noted her initial lack of confidence in herself and glanced at him almost sheepishly. She raised a hand and rubbed the back of her head, which Cross knew to be a nervous gesture. He himself had made the same motion numerous times in the past. He felt a sense of envy as Natalie claimed that the Theurgy had come to be home for her, a place and people worth fighting for. He had never really had a sense of home, the closest he had come by so far being the Endeavour. The people were what had made it home for him, and while many of them had survived the Endeavour's destruction, it was a loss that he still felt at times. His was not the only loss, he knew, the fact made all the more concrete as Natalie mused about the last 15 years of Federation history, and the conflicts which had raged throughout that decade and a half. Cross had fought in some of them, as had many aboard the ship, and he knew the toll it had taken on those who had lived through such times.

Natalie flashed him a smile as he made the suggestion that they talk of happier things, and he gladly returned the smile, silently thankful that it wasn't accompanied by yet another green wave of blood rushing to his face. He was holding her arms behind her back again, and had twisted to face him as she asked his favourite food. The question took him slightly off guard, the simple and innocence of the subject standing in stark contrast to the more looming and unpleasant topics which they had been touching on. Cross hadn't really expected the sudden shift, and found himself staring at Natalie with a blank expression for a moment before he let out a barking laugh, though he quickly silenced it and glanced about them to see if there were anyone in the Arboretum which might have heard the involuntary guffaw.

"I'm sorry!" Cross chuckled, placing a hand on Stark's shoulder as he apologized, not wanting the woman to think him laughing at her expense. The green colouring rushing to his face as he directed an extremely sheepish smile in Natalie's direction, his pale blue eyes meeting her dark brown. "I'm not laughing at you! I just wasn't expecting a question like that. After everything we've been talking about, it just seemed so... innocent." He chuckled again as he let his hand fall away, clasping his hands behind his back as the furious blushing gave his skin a vivid pigment which would have been considered extremely unhealthy had he been Human like his companion. "Hmm... favourite food, favourite food..." Cross murmured, giving the question some thought. "Well, that falafel earlier was pretty damn good, but if I had to pick a favourite, I'd probably have to say veggie tacos." Cross glanced at Natalie, looking a touch embarrassed. "Most of my introduction to different foods happened once I got to Earth. I've always been a big fan of Tacos and burritos."

Cross' smile vanished suddenly as he started, eyes wide as he reached up and brushed away an errant leaf which had drifted down from on high and landed atop his shaved head. He held the leaf up for inspection, then glanced at Natalie and chuckled as he lowered his arm, still holding the leaf in his hand and twirling it by it's thin stem. "I had a roommate in my final year at the Academy who introduced me to a dessert called Blueberry Grunt. I always found the name strange, but it's absolutely delicious. Dumplings cooked in a blueberry sauce." Cross grinned at Natalie and gave her a slight shrug. "How about yourself? I'll confess I don't know anything about Martian delicacies."