S'rR's Kane gazed out over the tranquil ocean of the harbor, and smiled. Stretching her bare legs up onto the empty seat in front of her, she casually crossed them at the ankles, enjoying the sunlight on her face and body, as the warm sirocco breeze tugged at her sleeveless summer dress as she reached out for her glass of kawa juice.
"You like it here, don't you," said a decidedly accusatory tone.
S'rR's raised a hand to shield her eyes from the mid-afternoon sun, and scrutinized the other woman sitting at her table. She was younger than S'rR's, perhaps only her mid to late twenties, with wavy dark brown hair which cascaded onto her shoulders, and pouting lips. Her eyes, and much of her high cheekbones, were covered by huge sunglasses, but she took them off, and fixed S'rR's with a venomous glare of her slate grey eyes.
"Yes, it is rather nice," S'rR's replied, taking a sip of her juice.
"This isn't your home, it's mine," the woman said. "I was born here. You don't belong here, you f**king freak!"
"I'm sorry, have I done something to upset you?" S'rR's asked in confusion.
"He's not yours either," the woman snapped hostilely. "He's always been mine!"
"I'm sorry, I don't understand," S'rR's admitted, lowering the glass to the table, and intending to stand, when the woman reached out, her left hand pinning S'rR's' wrist to the table, her right arm grabbing S'rR's' upper arm. She tried to pull her arm free, but the other woman's grip was like a band of iron.
"He only went with you because I wasn't around," sneered the vindictive brunette. "Look at the state of you," she sneered dismissively, wiping her thumb across the geometric tattoo, the ink smearing beneath her fingers. "He would think you look like white-trash, getting yourself tatted up like some slutty skank. And look at the state of your hair, you should be ashamed of yourself going out in public like this."
Reaching up, she ran a hand through S'rR's' ice-blonde hair, and yanked a massive chunk away in her fist.
"If you knew what was good for you, you would just leave!" she snarled.
S'rR's could feel her left arm going numb, and using the trapped limb as a pivot, she launched herself upwards, swinging her right arm at her assailant, her claws extending from between her fingers, but her legs caught on the chair, and she tripped, losing her balance and falling-
-and waking with a start which caused the bed to shudder.
"Lights!" she cried out, rolling onto her back and sitting, seeing the bedsheets snared tightly around her ankles. Her left arm hung limply with pins and needles from where she had been sleeping on it, and her right hand was balled into a fist, her claws extended, and one of her pillows slashed open. As she fully woke up, S'rR's brought her right hand up to her left arm, her claws retracting as she rubbed her bicep, the design of her tattoo remained solid, the ink totally indelible and permanently embedded in her skin.
With a deep breath, S'rR's rubbed her hands over her face, wiping away the tears, then rubbed them back over her head, feeling the now-familiar scrape of the stubble on her scalp against her palm. Turning the ruined pillow over and hugging another close to her chest, S'rR's lay back down, reluctant to go back to sleep, as the dreams were not just nightly now, but nearly constant whenever she slept. Always the same brunette attacking and insulting her in some way, always making her feel alone and unwelcome.
S'rR's lay like that for an indeterminate amount of time, staring blindly at the dark oiled wood of the wall of the bed chamber, listening intently, certain she could hear giggling, but it could only have been the sound of the ever-present rain, and eventually, she reluctantly closed her eyes again.
"Lights off," she murmured, before falling into another troubled sleep.
"Do you think she'll be happy to see us?" asked Lieutenant Commander Meliden Bowen, as the green orb of the planet Caladan grew larger in the shuttle view port. "Do you think she'll like the guitar?"
"There's only one way to find out," replied Captain Amanda Palmer, entering commands into the helm console, and bringing the shuttle into synchronous orbit. "I tried sending her a message, but no reply."
"I know, I sent her a message after we got back from Woodstock, and that was the last I heard," Meliden admitted. "Did you know that she's shaved her head?"
"Pentaxian mourning custom," Palmer replied. "The bereaved shave their heads as a sign of their mourning, and do so daily for every day of the length of their relationship. It'll be nearly sixteen years before we see her with a full head of hair again."
"Oh, I didn't realize tha-" Meliden began, before being interrupted by an incoming hail.
"This is Caladan orbital control to the approaching shuttle, requesting to know your intentions at this time," a male voice said formally over the intercom.
"This is Captain Amanda Palmer, Starfleet serial number Sierra Charlie four three four, three one seven, aboard the shuttle Musevini, normally attached to the Federation starship Valkyrie," she replied, tapping the console. "Requesting permission to overfly the western continent and land at the castle on the Lantic cliffs. Transmitting intended flight plan to you now."
"Flight plan approved, Captain," came the reply a moment later. "Local time at your landing zone is oh eight hundred hours, and the weather is mild."
"Acknowledged, control. Musevini out," replied Palmer, entering commands into the helm and taking the shuttle down into the planet's atmosphere.
"Captain," said Meliden, as she glanced at a console. "He said the weather was mild. I'm picking up pretty heavy rain."
Palmer craned her neck, and looked at the readout.
"By local standards, that is mild," she concurred. "What the Ferengi refer to as 'glebbening' is considered mild here..."
Through the forward viewport, rain could be seen streaking against the shield envelope, and beyond that, the grassy plains and lake Argent could be seen, before the shuttle passed over the pundi rice lowlands at the mouth of an estuary. Beyond that, the angular walls of Castle Caladan rapidly came into view, it's imposing grey walls dominating the landscape for miles around.
In her bed chamber, S'rR's dragged the inner edge of her extended claw across her body, in the same manner as an ancient Greek cleaning themself with oil and strigil, scraping away the fine layer of h'vae, the clear insulating fluid, which was secreted while she slept. When done, she began to drag the claw back across her scalp, the razor-edged bone shaving as cleanly as any blade, before wiping the claw on a dry rag and allowing it to retract. Hearing the distinctive hum of a shuttle craft's atmospheric drive, S'rR's padded across the room to the open air balcony, and saw the streamlined shape of a Type Nine shuttle banking around the castle walls. Even through the rain, she could make out the markings on the hull, and a smile tugged at the corners of her lips. Crossing swiftly to the bed, S'rR's pulled a floor-length linen muumuu over her head, then crossed to the door and out into the corridor. Without hurry, she descended a long staircase with a low, engraved wooden ceiling, and from the floor by the main door, she snatched up a cloak with a collar which flared as wide as her shoulders. She headed out into the lower bailey, oblivious to the cold, wet stone beneath her bare feet.
The rear ramp of the shuttle lowered, and Palmer and Meliden walked out, both wearing officer's ankle-length wet weather cloaks over their standard uniforms.
"What brings you both here?" S'rR's asked, embracing each of her friends in turn, before leading them back into the main building. "Let me take those wet cloaks."
"Did you not get the message I sent you a few days ago?" Palmer enquired, shrugging out of her cloak.
"I haven't been online much lately," S'rR's admitted, taking the dripping garments, and hanging them in an alcoved reception area. "But it's good to see you both. What's in the case, Mel?"
"Oh, just a little something I picked up for you at Woodstock," Meliden replied, laying the case on the floor and opening the snaps. Inside, was a creamy white Fender Stratocaster. "I had to snatch it and run before he could set it on fire."
S'rR's' eyes widened, and her mouth dropped open.
"You stole Jimi Hendrix's guitar?!" she exclaimed.
"He was only going to set it on fire," she reasoned. "I thought you'd be able to give it a good home."
S'rR's closed the case, and once more embraced her friend, before stepping back and tracing a finger over her smooth forehead.
"You look so different, but, still... you," she said. "I thought you were pranking me when you said you were going to keep the Human appearance. Hey, where are my manners? I was just going to have breakfast, can I get something for you guys too?"
After a simple breakfast, S'rR's showed Meliden and Palmer around the castle, before they retired to one of the libraries, where S'rR's replicated assorted snacks and drinks.
"So what brings you here, Captain?" S'rR's asked, settling into a deep leather chair and folding her legs up beneath her. "I have a feeling it wasn't just to give me a gift."
"There have been some considerable changes aboard the Valkyrie while you've been on leave," Palmer replied. "After we brought you here, we continued on to Earth for the re-fit and upgrades which we had been planning. We have a new bridge, with two tactical consoles. We also had the loss of Commander Lambert several days ago."
S'rR's' face fell, and she leaned forward.
"Oh no, what happened?"
"We encountered a damaged Borg cube," Palmer began. "He took it upon himself to fire quantum torpedoes at the remains. He was relieved of his position and escorted to quarters, and in the time it took for me to order a reversal of course and go to his quarters for an explanation, he killed himself in some kind of ritual suicide.
"I'm not only down a first officer, but also now have a vacancy for a tactical officer. I know that you originally only came on board prior to the mission to New Romulus as an intelligence liason, and I appreciate that you are on compassionate leave, but I wondered if you might consider returning to duty, and taking a permanent position aboard the Valkyrie?"
Picking up a glass of kawa juice from the table beside her chair, S'rR's swirled the pink liquid in the glass and pondered.
"Do you have other candidates for the positions?" she asked.
"Several, and all with their merits," she replied. "I'm considering making Brandon my new first officer, and simply assigning an additional tactical officer. Equally, I am wary of promoting an internal candidate to the position of first officer, and am also considering an external application from a Commander Kevan th'Aniri, who is very highly recommended by Admiral Tobin. I'll make my decision upon our return to the Valkyrie."
"You definitely have some options to consider," S'rR's agreed. "But I have to tell you, I will likely not be returning to active duty. I've been in contact with Empress Ch'K'rr, and while I was thinking of returning to Pentaxia, she has asked me to assume the position of Cultural Ambassador to the Federation, which I am most likely going to accept."
"That would certainly be a new challenge," Palmer admitted. "How did she take the news of Marcus' death? If I remember, by custom, they were also considered bonded?"
S'rR's scalp seemed to tense, an involuntary sign of anger, and she nodded once.
"From a legal perspective, yes, they were" she replied stiffly. "But in no other way. She has also undertaken the g't'lla ritual to show her bereavement, however, and it is her obligation to do so."
Getting to her feet, S'rR's began to pace the study, eventually standing by the roaring fireplace.
"If you do accept the position, would you consider returning to the Valkyrie as a roving Ambassador?" enquired Palmer.
S'rR's pursed her lips, considering.
"I'm sure Ch'K'rr would have no objections, that sounds like a pretty good idea," she admitted. "I'll contact her and propose the idea."
Last edited by marcusdkane; 07-30-2013 at 05:18 PM.
[I like this! Especially the section between the lights going on and off. That was really well done to involve the reader in the moment. And the casting is awesome ]
Thanks Did you mean the piece where S'rR's is reassuring herself that she's actually awake, or the transition between the dream and waking worlds? I wanted to try and contrast the realization that she was definitely awake, against the slightly surreal reality-bending quality that dreams can have, and how things like a numb arm can filter through into a dream. The question, is was that actually just a nightmare, or was Alix actually communicating to her in the dream state, and actively trying to scare her out of the castle? Something else I wanted to convey, was how dramatically S'rR's was 'regressing' in her isolation, ie scraping herself clean rather than bathing properly, and probably not far from going totally Miss Havisham
Last edited by marcusdkane; 03-01-2013 at 04:41 PM.
I was highly amused by Meliden's choice of souvenirs, too. I hope somebody got Jimi another guitar to burn in timte, or here's at least one iconic moment in history that got changed...
"Science teaches us to expect -- demand -- more than just eerie mysteries. What use is a puzzle that can't be solved? Patience is fine, but I'm not going to stop asking the universe to make sense!" - David Brin, "Those Eyes"