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Commodore Ivanova & Cmdr. Merlin | A Cup Of Tea, pt. 1

Posted on 241910.28 @ 18:18 by Commodore Rochelle Ivanova & Lieutenant Ra'lin Sha'mer

Mission: Lacuna

It was a few hours after the brawl, riot, murder, chaos on the Promenade. The station had lifted the lockdown and on the face of it operated as usual again. The blood had been cleaned, broken furniture thrown away and replacements had been ordered or replicated and put down. On the Promenade, the only sign that something bad had taken place here last night was a heightened security presence, and since not all of them were in uniform it wasn't something a casual visitor would notice.

In other places, the ripples did not fade away. There were still people in the medbay, and a lot more waiting in the holding cells. Camera footage had to be analysed, people had to be charged or discharged. And even a few hours of lockdown had thrown the delicate balance of shipping and storing goods out of whack and Ops and Logistics were scrambling to catch up.
Meanwhile, the station's CO stalked through the corridors. Not because of nighttime wanderings, this time, but because he had sent a message to the Commodore that he would like to visit her at her earliest convenience. So now he was on his way to the Vindicator, to meet with her. And he was stalking because the anger still burned within him.

Rationally he knew it was nonsense. The Federation, Klingons and Romulans had been eyeballing each other for over a century. There had been several wars the last few years, with the Dominion, the Borg and others. There had been countless incidents which never had actually boiled over into wars, though in some cases it had been close. There were organisations, even within the Federation, which didn't necessarily have people's best interests at heart. And even here, in his own neck of the woods, this remote corner of the Federation, there was the Romulan Empire on his doorstep on one end and the Stenellian Ascendancy, that unknown player, on the other.

So it was an illusion that he could ever hope to keep this station a safe place. Not when hundreds of people passed through the station each day, not with this place a veritable beehive and home to Federation citizens, Starfleet personnel, diplomats and their staff, Sector command and *their* staff, Starfleet Intel, the many visitors who stayed a few days or a few weeks, and the semi-permanent inhabitants from other places such as the Klingon family who ran the Heart of Targ restaurant and the Cardassian couple who had the flower shop on the second tier.

But that was ratio. Deep down inside him, something still cried out the thoughts that he had let slip to Valeese. Those people who lived here on this station were his responsibility, and it was his responsibility to keep them safe. There should be a place amidst all the hostility and the chaos were people could feel at home and relax, knowing that they were protected, their safety assured. That it was impossible didn't mean it wasn't something he could aspire to.

And today he had failed. Chaos had erupted around him and a man had died and he hadn't been able to stop it. It rankled.

He sighed as he approached Vindi's airlock and ran a hand through his hair to brush the few errant curls back which had escaped. He had made a quick visit to his quarters before coming here, just long enough to run through the sonic shower, put on a clean uniform and eat a few bites of what was technically speaking breakfast. But some strands had escaped from the tight band already. "Well, anyway," he muttered to himself and nodded at the ensign on duty.

The mood had shifted since the great ship had arrived. Rochelle had felt it the moment she'd departed the ship for sake of hunting for 'fresh air' and found that even the station's arboretum had succumbed to that off putting feeling that settles when high trouble is afoot. It hardly left her with the warm and fuzzy feeling so many often associated with returning to home port... In fact, it left her with a sensation of dread clawing away at the pit of her stomach. While technically off duty, the message the station's commanding officer had sent spoke of utmost importance and a need for her to consider expediting their meeting - understanding the delicate balance of things, and desiring not to repeat the failure of the Whydah, she found that granting him his request suited her fancy just fine.

By the time he'd arrived, tea was ready and sat steaming on a tray. "Commander," Rochelle greeted as the door hissed open and revealed him to her, "It's been awhile. Have a seat."

Tea. One of humanity's most soothing beverages. There were quite a few other races who drank tea or infusions, but there were a few subgroups of human culture who had erected complete ceremonies about the proper drinking of tea. Utterly fascinating, it was stylized and formal, yet that very formality had a calming effect. He had been fortunate to attend one such ceremony, and the smells wafting from the delicate pot took him back to that time, for one moment. He was grateful for that, if nothing else.

"Thank you, Commodore." A minute exchange of signals and he slid into the designated chair. "I want to apologize in person for the hectic reception you received upon arrival." No amount of tea could dispel those memories anytime soon, much as he wanted to. "It was as unexpected to us as it must've been for you." Of course. Situations like these were always unexpected, emergencies were never planned for. The only plans which were there were how to deal with them, and few of those plans ever went as desired.

"No need to apologize, Commander, the station is a hectic environment and we had..." She paused, a most demure little smile curling across her lips as she corrected herself mentally, "have, pressing issues we needed to attend to. You found ways to accommodate and that's all I could ask for." Rochelle was in careful motion, pouring cups of the hot amber beverage. "It's all about give and take, is it not?"

"Indeed." He returned the smile, though it felt somewhat unnatural, sitting on his lips like this. And the very fact that he wasn't smiling as often as he usually did was also telling in a way. "Well, we have resumed business as usual, leaving only the loose threads of this recent altercation to be wrapped up. However, and I'm sure you are familiar with this, I have the feeling this isn't over yet…" It was the feeling of a subtle wrongness, nothing he could point a finger at and say 'There! There it is!', just that hint of foreboding. Maybe it was his own mind still reeling from the brutality of the attack, and by the stars he hoped it was all there was. But he was afraid it was more like his gut responding to subliminal signals, telling him not all was well aboard the station yet, that there was more to come.

The Commodore looked over at him, transporting his cup of tea on its saucer with a grace that spoke volumes about he level of comfort with the scalding beverage, "You're right, I'm all too familiar with that feeling." She answered, offering him the cup she carried, "However," A shrug punctuated her thoughts as she spoke, "Unless the Intel is there to help you stop it, you can't let it consume you or alter the status quo when it comes to daily operations."

Richelle was in motion again, retrieving her own tea and taking up residence in her usual spot, "The moment you forget that, or if you give in to it, you're allowing them to beat you."

He took a sip of his tea, relishing the warmth of the delicate cup cradled between his hands. "Whoever 'they' are," he muttered. "That is, if there's even a 'they'." He looked up and waved one hand vaguely as he tried to dispel his thoughts. "That's the danger, over guessing myself. Thus far, there's nothing concrete that indicates that this is not an isolated incident." He smiled. "So, how have you been faring recently? I hope your travels to the Stenellian Ascendancy were prosperous?"

"Mm," she hummed as she swallowed a sip, "There's an old adage that says just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Something to live by, sort of like prepare for the worst and hope for the best." Her cup soon made its way back on its saucer with a gentle 'clink' of porcelain against porcelain, and once more Rochelle readied herself for conversation, keeping a knowledgeable eye on the man in front of her. Rumors ran rife and wild as dandelions when it came to his involvement with the Stenellian Empress, and while the Commodore was often the subject of so many falsehoods and unintelligible fantasy fodder, there was still enough evidence to support these particular claims for her to defend watching him and his reactions, "They were." She answered at first, "The Empress and her emissaries were interesting people to watch work, and that's putting it mildly. They pull one way, she pulls another. Even getting her to agree to listing the Emperor as deceased was difficult... She wants peace, though, so at least there's that."

The man in front of her was hard to read, more or less in spite of his vivacious face. Emotions flew over it like a breeze ruffling a clear lake, first the earnest and somewhat worried expression regarding the earlier subject, then relaxing, even smiling, at the mental image of a tug-of-war between the diminutive Empress and the emissaries. Then growing more serious again as Rochelle mentioned the late Emperor. "I'm sure that was hard on her. Nobody wants to give up on a loved one, when there's a shred of hope left." His grave, sea-coloured eyes were fixed on her. He took another sip of his tea, breaking the contact, and his smile returned again. "But wanting peace is good. I love peace. I wish more people would."

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To Be Continued...
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Commodore Rochelle Ivanova
Commanding Officer
USS VINDICATOR, NX-78213-F

Commander Evan Merlin
Commanding Officer
COLD STATION THETA, SB-1170

 

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