Literary Challenge #45 : Freestyle
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Join Date: Jun 2012
06-26-2013, 09:05 PM
The sea breeze blowing in off the bay seemed to animate everyone, bringing smiles where somber expressions might have lingered, laughter to otherwise bland jokes, and giving a general feeling of relief to the various humanoid species that inhabited the buildings surrounding the small bay. It was the sort of pleasant reminder that many needed when the sun seemed to be getting too hot upon the beach, or the surrounding jungle too close.
Of course, that was precisely the intent of the advanced systems that monitored and controlled the weather on Risa, and if anything could be said to motivate the artifical minds that eyed data ranging from the humidity at rock formations in Galartha to the levels of trace elements emitted by shuttles crossing the stratosphere, it was the determination that every day would be a paradise for those on the surface.
Rubbing at the loose clothing he had been encouraged to wear for the visit to the vacation world, Subcommander Tosik could not help but marvel at how comfortable the simple outfit had remained in the tropical climate. Had he worn his usual Republic uniform, there was little doubt he would be dehydrated and enjoying his stay far less than he had so far. Clearly, it had been a good idea to accept the suggestions of the Hospitality Association, even if they were not
Accepting the wrapped object from the merchant he had just paid, Tosik turned back to see his companion looking over the people walking through the small open-walled building where the Association had allowed native traders to set up shop. In contrast to the light clothing of the small crowd, Master Engineer Xa'Jev's black bodysuit stood out as much as the cybernetics that marked his massive frame as that of a Meguli. Tosik knew that the sealed clothing was a necessary precaution against humidity damaging more sensitive devices under it, but failed to comprehend how the alien could stand the heat that had to be building under the sun that stood high overhead.
Xa'Jev's goggled head swiveled to look at Tosik as the Engineer's voicebox spoke in a synthetic version of deep Standard. "These do not protect from solar radiation exposure. These not harmful of star local?"
Tosik shook his head as he puzzled out the meaning of his fellow officer. "No. They like the sun, and are not harmed by it unless they stay unprotected for long periods of time. You did read the report before we beamed down, didn't you?"
The Engineer's voicebox gave a short click that passed for a snort among the Meguli. "This one better time to use. Only at location/time/position to verify transaction engine warp from Federation empirestate. Commander's orders." Then the big alien's gaze fell on the wrapped bundle in Tosik's hand as he fell in beside the Science Officer, walking carefully through the crowd. "Identification request, transaction result?"
Tosik balanced the object in his hand. "A native statuette they call a
. It has something to do with fertility beliefs, and I thought it might be useful to examine one when we return to the ship. At the very least, I'd like to see if it's related to any artifacts we've found on Mol'Rihan."
The Engineer gave another of the short clicks and shook his head in an expression he had picked up from the crew. Certainly, no self-respecting Meguli would have bothered to show inferior species that they were mystified by anything. "Incorrect instruction subset. Statue non-irradiating nature confirmed. Inhabitants faulty?"
"It's more of a tradition, I think." Tosik stopped to look over at several natives, noting their ease about being only barely decently attired among the various visitors to their world. "If I remember correctly, a person displaying a
is announcing their willingness to participate in a local ceremony dealing with...er....producing new natives." Tosik carefully made sure the wrapping was secure before he resumed walking.
"Research related subjects completed this one prior to landing." Xa'Jev waved a hand dismissively at the crowd. "Improved proceedure: manufacture replacements clone. More efficient. Illogical biological keep."
Tosik could not help but sigh as he rounded a corner and entered an open area food distribution center (a
', wasn't it?). "Many species find it...preferable to keep their...um...traditions. You will just have to accept my word that they would not welcome...alterations like that."
"Indeed not." A voice he knew said from one side, and Tosik almost ground his teeth together as he turned to see the Human Augment Rycho leaning back in a nearby chair, each of his arms about a Risan female and a broad smile fastened to his face. "Many are great admirers of 'tradition'."
Ever since they had returned from their mission in the Pelia Sector, the Helmsman had kept an attitude of accomplishment about himself, and Tosik had increasingly wished he could put the Centurion back in his proper place as a lesser officer aboard the ship. When they had been ordered to Risa to allow the Commander to represent the Republic at the opening of a special resort for ship commanding officers in Starfleet, it was the desire to avoid any contact with Rycho that had driven Tosik to pursuade Xa'Jev to pass him off to the resort computer system as a ship commander.
Apparently, the Human had had his own interest in infiltrating the restricted area, and Tosik knew he could hardly call Security about the matter without his own presence being revealed as less than truthful.
Deciding the best option was still avoidance, Tosik turned and briskly walked to a random exit from the eating area, working to keep his irriation in check as he quickly left Xa'Jev behind. By the time he had his emotions fully in hand, he realized he was unsure where he was, or which way he could go to find the Engineer. Giving a mental shrug, he marched out of the alley he had found himself in, and entered a large open area that formed a courtyard for the main building of the resort.
His calm lasted only up to the point that Rycho stepped easily next to him from the corner of the alleyway and marched alongside nonchalantly. The Helmsman gave Tosik a half-smile. "I could not help but notice you have made a purchase. Would that be what I think it seems to be?"
Tosik frowned and refused to meet the other's gaze. "It is for research purposes. I do not have your standards in regards to planetary recreation."
Rycho gave a short laugh as he followed Tosik up a short flight of steps. "Ahh, I cannot help it if the women of this world recognize my superior qualities. Why would they not? I cannot hide what I am, as you Romulans try to."
Tosik stopped short of the closed doors at the top of the stairs and turned to the junior officer, his irritation fanning into aggravation. "Your 'superior qualities'? You think you, a mere
, can compare yourself to
? You forget your place!"
The Augment's face had lost its smile, and now Rycho stepped forwards to match Tosik's glare with his own. "Words I have heard before. From men who dared to believe themselves worthy to command my people! They did not realize how far beyond them we had been designed, how much better we were. Your race is no different, and even now, I see how you tremble in timidity at something not one of those who stood with me on Ceti Alpha Five would have blinked at!" Rycho looked at the covered sculpture in Tosik's hand. "You cannot even carry it unless it is concealed, like everything else about your culture. Your fear of discovery, your unwillingness to plan for anything but hiding what you wish, these are what make you
With each word, Tosik's anger had risen, and now it flared into outright action. He tore away the paper covering the
, and tossed the empty wrapping aside. "I am not afraid of this! I have nothing to hide! You are the one who hides what he wishes. Or do you think I am foolish enough to not know you want command of the
Rycho nodded easily, a mocking smile tugging at his face "Oh, I
command. I do not deny it...it is my right! But I will not take it from the worthy hand of my Commander. She is not like the rest of your deficient race, and I will Command only when she does not."
Tosik's anger turned to shock, then back to anger in a flash. "You....
The Centurian's smile grew as he saw the greenish tint increasing in Tosik's face. He raised a hand casually, as if to accept the sculpture, and spoke in a whisper "You should allow me to remove that from your concern. I can put it to far better use than you ever could. After all, one of the qualities of a commander is the ability to plan proper strategy for any conquest."
Unbelieving in what he saw in his mind, the image of his Commander and this...
..., Tosik swung the sculpture away from the Augment, his arm seeking to put it as far from him as possible. Half-blind with emotion, he all but screamed "You can have this when the moon falls from the sky!!"
What is the meaning of this?"
The firm and uncompromising voice seized Tosik in his place. Twisting his head around, he saw a small group of Starfleet Admirals were stepping from the now-open doors at the top of the stairs. Several already stood looking down at him, their white dress uniforms in contrast to the casual clothing others at the resort had worn.
And, directly in front of them was his Commander, her own ceremonial robes shining in the midday sun. Her regal bearing and tilt of her head as she looked down at him took both his anger and his breath away as he stood frozen in confusion and disbelief.
Then he realized the hand with the
was pointed directly at her.
Thoughts began to cascade through his brain as he recalled the customs and traditions he had read before leaving the ship. To display a
was to invite participation in
it to someone was to......
In a panic, he looked back to Rycho, only to find that the helmsman had disappeared. He was alone on the steps, and from the lack of comment by the assembled Admirals, he realized Rycho had angled Tosik to be the one they fixated upon when they emerged from the meeting room beyond the doors.
Looking back to his Commander, he tried to speak "C...Commander! I....this isn't...."
The Commander coolly looked from the statue now dangling from Tosik's almost nerveless hand to his shocked face before saying "We will discuss this in my ready room. In private. Return to the ship,
Blinking, Tosik fumbled his first attempt to use his communicator, then found the right key. "T..Tosik to
. One to....beam up....now."
The last thing he heard as the transporter beam took him was a Federation Admiral asking his Commander "One of yours, I take it?"
Unseen in the bushes by the courtyard, Rycho's smile broadened as he heard the exchange, only wishing he could have risked watching the end results of his plan. The Science Officer had been a problem for the last few weeks, but now would understand how outmatched he was against Rycho's superior intellect and reflexes. Yes, it would be far better from now on aboard
Risking a glance through a break in the vegetation after the whine of the transporter had faded, he saw his Commander speaking with one of the Federation officers. No doubt apologizing for the actions of one misguided officer. He regretted putting her in this position, for he truely did respect her, but the opportunity to take Tosik down a peg or two could not have been passed. As he watched, she lifted her own communicator and spoke into it too softly for his enhanced hearing to pick out.
Shrugging, he turned and walked away. That she suspected nothing was enough. It was to be expected, after all. She, also, could not match his engineered superiority, and this was not her fault.
He was still thinking this when the transporter beam took him completely by surprise, and he had barely a second to recognize the distinctive whine of the
s beaming frequency before he, also, vanished from sight.
Last edited by danqueller; 06-27-2013 at