Literary Challenge #38 : We'll Always Have New York
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Join Date: Feb 2013
02-11-2013, 03:29 PM
Personal Log: Lieutenant Commander Tusgra Broy commanding the USS Joan Slonczewski: Date: 1967-042 local (Gregorian)
"It's a great riff, Captain. Listen, Kelix the Elder built his famous theme and variations for piano around it." Lenira's fingers mapped out the chords against her lap.
Captain Tusgra Broy checked that her translator was off before answering. "But he's been playing it for three hours now. He's intoxicated and fixated, it's more entertaining to him than to any of us. Trill or Human piano?"
"Trill, of course, but scored for an ensemble with cello and galzik." The xenobiologist found old Earth almost as interesting as the jungle they were supposed to be surveying. Tusgra just found it exhausting. It was no wonder that telepathy evolved to be rare among humans with their history of urbanization. Small blessings, she supposed. In pre-contact Rixx they'd be sussed out in minutes.
"Sussed out?" Gods, was she starting to think like them? At least engineering officer Patrick had found them a tolerable hideout. In a room of humans attempting to be art, a Trill and Betazoid attempting to be human passed as a couple from India, or Brazil, or Spanish Harlem. And the silver foil that covered every inch of the walls and ceiling provided them with a bit of security. The "Factory" looked more like a studio and lounge to her.
Patrick was the decoy in a mini-dress, a style of Starfleet uniform that Tusgra was happy to leave before her time, but it was considered by their hosts to be "drag." He was chatting up their host, a nervous and repressed empath with a wig that looked like an albino tribble. Another man was setting up a device on a tripod and pointing it at the pair. Curiosity, interest, and an intense focus on light and shadow, but no hostility. Ahh, a scanning device.
"Ensign," Tusgra whispered to Karin. "Can you jam that scanner?"
Lenira mock yawned and looked in her clutch purse. "I detect no active electronics, just a primitive em emitter bolted to the top."
"How does it work then? Oh, optical-chemical image capture."
"Short-burst holographic x-ray should do the trick. Not that much more than the residual atomic dust in the air. It would spoil the whole film roll though."
"Necessary loss, Ensign. Do it."
She sighed, took off the sunglasses she wore to hide her eyes, and pinched her nose. She wasn't trained for first-contact or temporal missions, but here she was, a hundred years before first contact with humans, searching for a Dominion agent. They'd taken subways and busses the length of the island with no luck. Somehow, they ended up here to retrench while the crew of the Slonczewski solved the problem.
She felt someone sit down next to her on the couch. Another labyrinthine flirtation? No, just curiosity and anxiety. She put the sunglasses on before opening her eyes, and saw a thin, balding, and pale man who looked smaller than he was. "Good evening, I'm Klaus."
She reached into her pocket to tap the translator on. "I'm Tusgra Broy." She introduced herself, taking care not to add her rank or title. "I'm not from around here."
"I know, I'm an alien myself." That translation made her start a bit. "I'm from Germany. I come here to sing opera, but I've not had much luck with it..." He was running circles around the what he wanted from her, silly human.
"I wish you luck. We're just passing through."
"I noticed that your companion, she called you 'captain,' I think. I'm not fluent in your language. And you two are so relaxed together, so I was wondering..."
Tusgra sighed and caught the question mid-vocalization. With historical taboos he could be hinting at it for another hour. "We're not lovers. She's my... assistant. We serve, served together." Tusgra blushed as she tried to twist the truth. "In the navy." There was a war going on, wasn't there. Of course, humans always had a war somewhere in their history.
"My apologies," Klaus frowned, disappointed. He was about to stand up when Tusgara put a hand on his shoulder.
"I'm not remotely offended. We don't have a problem with homosexual relationships it's just not a relationship I want to have... with a subordinate." Tusgra tried to shut her mouth but her culture, honesty, and anger got the best of her. Most of the day she'd been hearing vocal and non-vocal insults. "Soon, the human race will grow up and realize you've got bigger problems to worry about than your own diversity. When you reach the stars, this sort of thing becomes..."
Tusgra shut her mouth, and looked around. Evidently such pontificating wasn't something worthy of notice in this crowd.
"So, you're a futurist!" Klaus said. Tusgra bit her lip in frustration. She said too much. "I'm a big fan of science fiction myself." Klaus nodded enthusiastically.
She was relieved by the device beeping in her pocket. She pulled out the text communication device disguised as a pager. "I need to go," she said.
"Yes, I see, you have someplace to go." Klaus nodded at her. "Perhaps we can talk again." Karin and Patrick were already moving toward the door.
"Have a good evening, Klaus."
The three of them left the building, and went into an alley about a half-block away. Tusgra tapped her hidden communicator, "This is Broy."
Her Tactical Officer, Anthi answered. "We've found the shuttle, with the device..."
"...and?" Tusgra didn't need to be in the same room to know there was something more to the situation.
"It's 300 klicks away from your location. The good news is I can beam you there."
"Do it," Tusgra said.
They didn't notice a thin, balding, and pale man pass by the entrance to the alley, and turn toward the glimmer of the transporter with astonishment.