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For Science! - Part 1

Posted on Wed Sep 22nd, 2021 @ 2:50am by Evahnae Kohl & Chief Comms Angel Ferris

Mission: Holoworld
Location: Observation Bar and Deck
Timeline: MD -12, 0925
1498 words - 3 OF Standard Post Measure

There was something about starship travel that spoke to the soul. If you stopped paying attention to it, it quickly became something you took for granted and, at times, might even have masqueraded as an unwanted distraction. The thrum of it, though. The background throb of engine, the intricate cadence of automated systems, the satisfying tempo of opening and closing doors. There was something so primal to appreciate about a ship's constant syncopation and Eva had missed it.

This time around, however, there was dissonance.

She had wanted this, she reminded herself. A back-to-square-roots challenge, a space to actually craft rather than rely on a few simple button presses to do her work for her. Manual systems, Gregnol had warned her, and she'd been on board with that. Welcomed it.

The sensation of her palm tapping against the edge of the bar as, eyes closed, she counted to whatever number allowed her not to throw things, felt at least somewhat soothing. She wasn't ready to try her luck and send a maintenance request, because she was reasonably sure her current struggle with the refrigeration unit was user error and not an actual technical fault, but there was no denying that whatever she'd done the night previous had resulted in...excessively chilled wine.

Opening her eyes, she stared at the six bottles and then reached out to flick a fingernail against the neck of one. The resulting lack of resonance confirmed her dilemma. Frozen solid.

"Any chance you're about to open that?" a voice asked from the lounge's entrance. A woman, wearing a green sweater over dark pants, gave her a cautious half-smile. She pulled her fingers through her red hair where they then settled against her neck, a thought suddenly striking her. "Oh, is it okay that I'm here? I was getting acquainted with the deck layout and when I saw this in the listing, my feet went on autopilot. Are for business?"

There was a vague sense of defeat to Eva's expression in the split-second before her professional veneer slipped into place. Having an audience for her failure wasn't necessarily something she coveted, but the distraction was probably nice.

She offered the new arrival a tired smile.

"As far as I'm concerned, I've been given no mandate to refuse entry on the basis of disorientation." Reaching out to flick again, this time simultaneously at two of the frosted necks with both index fingers, she added, "But I'm not sure the Viognier is an option unless you fancy a crash-course in ice sculpture."

The redhead stepped over to the bar and placed the palm of her hand against one of the bottles. Apparently hearing the story of the tragedy of the wines was not enough, it needed to be felt. "Well, do you have anything else?" Immediately upon speaking the question, the woman raised her hand away, her face belying her own horror. "I am. So. Sorry. I'm normally not this selfish. I'm just having a bit of...umm....difficulty adjusting to my lovely new home."

Amusement won final dominance over the barkeeper's expression. "I wouldn't be running a very good bar if I only had six bottles of wine to offer. Of course, I'd be running a much better bar if I didn't freeze part of my stock, so we'll just chalk that up to the same basic problem." Eva's smile, settled honestly as a warmth in her eyes, extended the olive branch of empathy. "I just got here myself."

"And actually," she continued, turning to face the shelves that ran along the back of the bar, and the entrance to the cold storage, as well as the clunky-looking replicator that was a regrettable necessity. "I am still trying to figure out what the 'anything else' actually is. Do you have a preference?"

Stretched to the very limit of her height, even with the boots that added a couple of inches, Eva's fingertips grazed the dust on a half-empty bottle. Without missing a beat, she hoisted herself onto the bench on one knee and grabbed the specimen down. "Perhaps this voodai? I don't think it's supposed to be this colour..."

From the other side of the bar the once anxious woman now allowed her shoulders to relax their tension and finally drop. She seemed positively eager to engage in inoffensive conversation. "You're right. What you have there is not traditional voodai. That is definitely a batch from the occupation. Because of the state of their fields during those years, the Bajorans substituted katterpods with tava root. Much easier to grow in caves, but you don't get the nice hues of red and amber in the end product." She shook her head, a grin on her lips. "You know, you could probably talk my father into giving you ten times its worth. Easily."

Never one to deny herself expression, the look on Eva's face melted from initial surprise to immediate approval and, by the end of the explanation, her chest shook from a brief tremor of quiet laughter. "A connoisseur, I approve." Regarding the bottle's label again, she added, "A little more than I approve of how this has been shelved. Time to find you something a little less exposed, my friend."

As she knelt to find the aged liquor a place of reverence beneath the bar, the brunette, at least down to the burgundy tips of her hair, recommenced her rummaging. "Okay, so, tell me what speaks to you and I will do my best to provide."

"Hmmmm...." The other woman sat upon one of the stools at the bar. After a moment's thought she allowed herself a wicked grin of self indulgence. "I don't suppose you have any kanar back there?"

Another question she couldn't answer. Puffing out her cheeks, Eva reviewed the front row of the lowest shelf and then spread her hands in a gesture of uncertainty. Eventually, they dropped to settle on her hips and she released her breath as a slow putter.

"Only one way to find out. Now, if I were someone who'd put a several-decade-old voodai variant directly under the heating vent, where would I store the kanar?"

"Based on what I've seen from Freecloud? Directly in the waste reclamation unit," the other woman mused half to herself. She leaned over the bar to peer at the inventory. "What's that one? The yellow one."

What had started out as idle curiosity had very quickly become a fully-fledged investigation. As far as Eva could tell, the previous occupant of her position was a thorough worker and, if the state of the bookwork was anything to go by, probably not the main culprit behind the current chaos. This, she had already surmised, reeked of an impatient crew unwilling to wait for the vacancy to be filled.

"This one," she replied, thunking a bottle down on the bar, "or these?"

Perplexingly, she managed to locate exactly four more bottles filled with questionably-yellow liquid. Pushed to the side, the bottles of white wine slowly drizzled puddles of cold water beneath them as the new focus became a game of 'guess what root vegetable this used to be.' Eva's eyes, narrowed in evaluative glee, scanned the row of miscellaneous bad ideas and then fixed the other woman, whose name she didn't even know yet, with a look of pure mischief.

Two shot glasses, twirled with a flourish to arrive side-by-side on the counter, extended the first temptation. "For science?"

"For science!" The redheaded woman nodded with a genuine smile. She closed her fingers around the base of the heavy shot glass and hesitated. "Thank you for this," she said, looking up suddenly. "Like I said before, I felt sort of compelled to come here and I'm really glad I did. This is the most calm I've felt in...a long time." She released her glass to extend a hand. "Aannyil, by the way. Aannyil Ferris. But people call me Angel."

Years of service contributed to the relaxed concentration the bartender afforded the first pour, a subtle ploy to shift the attention away from the other woman's confession just enough to ensure she didn't regret speaking up. It was a balancing act, an investment of time and intent, to know when to speak and when to simply be the sole recipient of a patron's longing to connect. The outstretched hand was met, not with a reciprocated handshake, but a half-filled shot glass and a warm smile that very nearly distracted from the devilment in Eva's eyes.

"People call me all sorts of things, but I respond best to Eva."

Pursed lips attempted to contain the anticipation for what was very quickly becoming a far more interesting way to complete her stocktake, even if there were several opinions out there in the cosmos that would have suggested it was a terrible idea.

"On three?"

Angel careful touched her glass to Eva's. "One. Two..."

(to be continued...)


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