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JL | Commodore Ivanova & Lieutenant Shran | "Masks"

Posted on 241801.13 @ 13:42 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Anaxar Shran

Mission: Ballynamony

Anaxar moved his thumb over the innocuous message for what felt like the hundredth time today. The message itself was simple, an invitation to a ball. A masked ball. To be held on Cold Station Theta, three days from now. Not actually stated, but strongly implied was that senior staff was expected to be there.

Of course, most people were eager to go. The upcoming ball had been the talk of the day. People all over the ship were talking about it. Escaping to CST was not an option, for every Vindicator crewmember who was on shore leave planned to go there to shop or even visit a tailor to get a costume.

Anaxar groaned, and not even because of a headache (though he had one, and that certainly didn't help). A costume. A mask. Why not a regular ball, or some kind of meeting which simply required a dress uniform? Or why could the bright minds who had come up with this idea not have planned this before he'd met the one person who would be sure to try to find him at the ball? And who would find him, he had no doubt about that.

He hadn't even talked to her about this, but Anaxar was sure she was eager to go to the ball. He knew she would really shine – well, she often did, of course, but this time she would shine in so many ways.

So simply not going was definitely out. But that still left the problem: a costume. A mask. He had no idea at all, and he could hardly ask Si'a for ideas.

For the hundred-first time or so he ran his thumb across the message and drummed his fingers against the padd.

The officer's lounge was relatively empty during that stretch of the morning. Most people had already gone to bed having come off shift. Others had already been on duty for the better part of forty-five minutes and breakfast was well done and over with by the time Rochelle wandered in for a fresh brewed mug of coffee. It was one of many luxuries that came with being the ship's CO - she could wander where she wanted when she wanted and there was no one to ask her why.

"Excuse me, Lieutenant." She absentmindedly hummed, dropping into the seat across from him, "Don't mind my intrusion, just looking to see if there's anything other than artificial sweetener in your sugar holder." She should have ordered it with the damn sugar included, but of course... It had slipped her mind and sent her off in need for finding something to chase the bitterness away from her morning brew... Something other than the near coma inducing tea she'd enjoyed with Ra'lin earlier. Every other table, aside from his, had offered her any luck... And there, in the Andorian's hopper, smiled up the good fortune of a brown wrapped condiment package announcing that it was, indeed, pure raw cane sugar. "You don't mind if I steal a packet or two?" Rochelle paused as she reached to obtain her prize, looking over at the man with the question still written across her tired face. Across his, however, was confusion and deep thought, maybe even concern. A quick flick of her eyes down to the PADD he worried with his fingers, gave her the reason why almost instantaneously and for the first time in awhile, she couldn't help but smile.

"Not at all," Anaxar said in his hoarse voice. He hadn't paid any attention to where he sat or what was on the table. "I'm sorry," he added. "I'm somewhat distracted." A costume. He didn't even have any off duty clothes, he'd never bothered to even replicate any. And a mask! He practically walked around wearing a permanent one.

Plucking up her prize, the Commodore mumbled a thank you before falling into the silence a first cup of coffee required as tribute if it was to work its magic in one's favor. The dance of his fingers continued, however, and the look on his face became more harried as the clock ticked past the seconds and minutes. "Birds are always a thought," She offered, clearing her throat. It felt like only yesterday that the crew had returned from a particularly rough mission to slip into the warmth of a masquerade... The one where Landon returned to her from the dead. Her eyes closed, banishing the thought and she soothed her tongue over her plush upper lip, "They're elegant. Beaks and feathers make for perfect masks and what they don't cover can always be remedied by makeup or a holoemitter... Ravens are known to be protectors and healers, but people see them as bad omens and pests. Spooky enough for a masquerade, but poignant enough for... Other purposes." Rochelle shrugged and leaned back into her seat, her fingers tightly wrapped about her mug.

It took Anaxar a few moments to realise the Commodore had been addressing him, another moment or two to realise what her remark was actually about. "Birds?" His antennae twitched in surprise. Birds. Masks. Right.

He lifted his head and regarded her, more with his antennae than with his face – though the neural connections between implant and visual centre had been restored at last, he still needed to build up exposure time slowly to prevent overloads and headaches. Right now, he was advised not to use the implant for more than thirty minutes a day, with a maximum session length of fifteen minutes and at least an hour's rest in between, and only the forward facing quadrant was activated. /

"I'm out of my depth here, Commodore," he confessed. "I… really, I just have no idea where to begin." The scars on his forehead creased as he frowned. "Did you all really dress up and acted like locals when we were… back there, or was that a dream?" he asked in a low voice. Immediately he looked startled, as if the words themselves had caught him by surprise. A darker blue blush coloured his usually pale blue cheeks and he looked down again. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to…"

The redhead's expressive eyebrows rose again as she caught on to his train of thought and she grimaced ever so slightly at the recent memory of corsets and layers upon layers of poplin and the Gods only knew what. The coffee cup was set down with a gentle click of ceramic against table top. "Yes, yes we did." She answered, "No need to be sorry, we did what we had to do in order to get you guys out of there. That said, I don't think a corset would be your speed." The quick, off colored remark was enough to keep the mood light and airy - or so she'd hoped when she realized that it had dripped from her lips so casually. "Maybe a black poet's shirt, pants, tall boots that fold at the knee..." Rochelle's head tilted as she took him in, her eyes narrowing in thought as she continued to speak as if she were designing something with her mind's eye - and maybe, in some way, she was. She'd never be Noah Waterhouse when it came to his elaborate art and ability, but she had a fair sense of aesthetics and enchantments, "The raven's mask, and a long cloak with a large, gracious hood... Oh! And Gloves. You'll need gloves."

Anaxar winced slightly at the mentioning of a corset. The bruised ribs the Magistrate had inflicted in his fury had long healed, but the memory was still tender. "Agreed, no corsets." He rubbed his forehead again, trying to picture himself in the outfit Rochelle described. He had a hard time doing so. Holding star charts in his mind, rotating them through three dimensions and zooming in and out was no problem – an ability which had served him well during his days as Tactical officer, and again now that he worked in Science. He could instinctively grasp the layout of a place given a simple map, could easily imagine how people and places looked like based on a simple description. But not when those descriptions didn't make any sense. What in Infinity's name was a poet's shirt? Were poets dressed so differently from others? And why gloves? "Do you think the replicator will understand it if I try to replicate these items?"

"Strange as it sounds, probably." Rochelle answered with a little nod, "Before Commander Dahe'el, the Vindicator had an XO that was rather eccentric and parties like this were her thing. The replicator menus on this vessel are carry overs from the last... They created all everything we wore down on that planet without issue." Oh the confusion was pouring off of him now as his pragmatic mind tried to make sense of Terran folly. The Andorian had been blindsided, and for a second she wondered how a Vulcan would view the wildness of a masquerade ball being used as a morale booster. "Tell you what, if you're still in a boggle about it I'll replicate things for you and you tell me how you like them. Me knowing what you are doesn't kill the effect. I'm the ship's CO, supposed to know everything anyway." The offer came complete with a shrug and a gathering up of her warm mug. He deserved the chance to enjoy life, to dance and spin and smile with the woman he undoubtedly loved and who loved him in return. Which reminded her that she would need to speak with them at some point, congratulate them, and offer them the chance to make their vows official on Starfleet records. That would all come in due time. While each item on her checklist needed to be tackled and ticked off - this could wake for sake of certainty and merriment... And not overloading the poor man's mind any more than it already was.

"Oh, that would be great," Anaxar sighed. "If you think it looks fine, I'll just go with it. I'm…" He shook his head. "I have no idea. I'll trust your judgement. Besides…" a fleeting smile appeared on his face, "It's going to be pretty obvious who I am, regardless of what I wear. I mean, I kind of stand out."

"You are very tall, I'll grant you that, but I have a feeling people will be using holoemitters and various other forms of trickery to alter their height." She nodded appreciatively, lifting a hand to tap an index finger against her chin, "Pretty sure you'll be alright there, to be perfectly honest. Antennae are easily hidden anyway."

"That's the least of my worries," Anaxar agreed. "A bigger one, to name something: I'm sure Si'a is an excellent dancer. I…" he sighed again. "…suppose I need some lessons." Even with the implants offline, he gave a good impression of staring into the distance. "Next time can't we just organize a beach party or something?" he asked, again with that twisted smile.

Rochelle's head cocked as she listened to him and found herself unable to conceal a small, raw, little smile. The second one of the day, and it too had been dreamed up and painted by her appreciation for his tender concern where little things came to daunt his day to day life with Si'a. How, out of everything to consider, the man was seemingly deeply troubled by a worry that his partner would be some ethereal, floaty, creature worthy of no one other than Fred Astaire, returned from the grave, himself was a delightful change from her own head space and the usual troubles that niggled at her mind at any given moment. Sure, she realized, she shouldn't get involved any deeper than she had - and perhaps she was violating some directive or another by assisting an alien species with figuring out how to move their own two feet - but she found herself unable to simply walk away. After all, someday they'd likely wed for real and on that day a man deserved to dance with his wife. "I can help with that too, if you're interested. Then next time we'll see about that beach party. I'm sure Commander Dahe'el and Si'a would appreciate some fun in the sun."

"I was planning on some practice sessions in the holodeck first," Anaxar said, giving no indication that he was aware of his CO's thoughts. He did notice the pensive silences, though, bringing back once again the realization that everyone who had gone down to that planet had returned with scars in their souls. Some were bigger than others, some would heal quicker than others, some would fade with time and leave no mark at all, whereas others would be permanent. Which would be come which remained yet to be seen. "But after that, yes, I will take you up on that offer. Dancing with a real partner beats a hologram every time. Thank you," he added after a pause.

"Any time. I have to agree that your plan is probably a good idea." She nodded with a small chuckle, "Save me the broken toes. Pretty sure Ch'Valenvok will thank you too for saving him having to fix them." Finishing her coffee, Rochelle realized she no longer had the mug of hot liquid life to hide behind. "Anyway... Duty calls. Try not to over think this, Lieutenant, you'll be fine."

"Yes, let's get some work done." Anaxar tucked the padd away and unfolded himself from the chair. Even though the ship was docked and a lot of crew had shore leave, there was a lot of work to be done. Their unexpected trip through time had yielded an incredible amount of data, and the time they had spend in the nebula had given them more. From a scientific point of view it was a marvelous find, something which would give them a lot of insight into the creation of the nebula and which, once fully analysed, could go a long way to solving some of its riddles. Anaxar refused to allow himself to regard it as anything more than a cold, clinical collection of data and tried to ignore its origins the best he could. Taken bit by bit, it was still less daunting than the whole idea of a ball. "Thank you again for listening to my worries and for your advice, Commodore. Have a good day."

A small smile crept across her features, "Always." she nodded, and with that she took her leave - back to the labyrinth of command.


Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer

Lieutenant Anaxar Shran
Chief Science Officer


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