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For Science! - Part 2

Posted on Mon Oct 25th, 2021 @ 12:23am by Evahnae Kohl & Micheal Robertson & Chief Comms Angel Ferris
Edited on on Mon Oct 25th, 2021 @ 12:24am

Mission: Holoworld
Location: Observation Bar and Deck
Timeline: MD -12, 0950
2501 words - 5 OF Standard Post Measure

The redhead tossed her head back and gulped down the contents in a single swallow. In impressive unison, Eva followed suit.

A half a heartbeat later, Angel began coughing, placing a hand on her sternum as she fought to regain her composure. "Wow. It's like a cold liquid fire."

The expression on the bartender's face, whilst no more impressed by initial assault to her sinus', tended more towards a nose scrunch of distaste rather than wheezing regret. The years of experience that had gone into that nonchalance wasn't necessarily something to be proud of, but neither were the distilling practises of whoever had attempted to butcher this particular recipe. Nobody was perfect.

The aftertaste, however, earned itself a raised pair of eyebrows and a reconsideration of its merit.

"It's punchy, that's for sure. Okay, maybe not my favourite but I could do something with this." She turned the empty shot glass to examine the last remaining drops and then tipped it to drain. "Not for sipping though."

With the grit of determination screwing up her features, Eva worked on the cap of the next bottle. "So," she started conversationally, "what has our big, burly captain brought you on board to do?" Gregnol, as far as first impressions went, had amused her.

Angel inwardly cursed herself as she found herself hesitating to answer. The mixture of anxiety, nerves, alcohol, and budding friendship had her practically stumbling over the cover story that was once so clear in her mind. Her father would have been utterly disgusted by such a display. "Communications officer," she said finally, watching Eva pour a liquid as clear as water. "I've worked in the field my whole life, but spent almost every day of it at a desk. I thought it was time I live a little. Or a lot," she added, pointing to the remnants of their last drink still clinging to the drain. "What about you? This is certainly a different kind of ship. What caught your eye?"

This time, the pour was a little more deliberate, and the first half-measure ended up straight in the reclamator as a smattering of sediment offered limited appeal. Shaking up the bottle and rummaging for one of her filters, Eva considered not only what it meant to be a 'communications officer' if you never stepped out from behind the desk, but a response to why she'd suddenly flung caution to the wind that didn't make it sound like she'd lost her mind.

Wriggling a pour spout into place, the bartender eventually settled on a trademark half-grin. "It's not often a situation arises that looks remarkably different to any service position I've had in the past. I have honestly no idea what to expect of this ship or this crew."

Finishing both shots, she tapped Angel's towards her with the bottom of her own glass, which she then held up in flourished cheer. "And I'm kind of living for it."

At that moment, the doors slid apart and Johnathan walked in. "Hi, I hear th-th-that we had a n-n-nwe bart-t-t-t..barkeep? I'm Johnathan Anderson, helmsman and one of the original m-m-members of the Ishimura cr-cr-crew still alive on board."

As far as first introductions went, it was possibly more adorable than Angel's earlier stammering. Poised about to take her shot, Eva froze, lips pursed, and then lowered the glass to extend the olive branch of welcome whilst her drinking buddy dealt with the repercussions of round two alone.

"Well, hello there, Johnathan Anderson. You arrived just in time. Angel and I are exploring the contents of unlabelled bottles in an endeavour to..."

The bartender hesitated, tilting her head to watch the other woman's features as she processed her feelings towards this brew. Amusement tinged with sympathy saw Eva pour Angel some water before she continued.

"Actually, we may be causing permanent damage to something vital but all great scientific discoveries come with some personal sacrifice, right?" Gesturing to the stool next to Angel, Eva turned to grab a third glass and poured the newcomer his own shot. "Come try your luck." She slid the glass towards him whilst, at the same time, taking her own shot in her left hand and downing it swiftly.

Both hands gripped her side of the bar as her head dipped and, as befitting the moment, Eva swore.

"What the fuck, did they forget to filtrate?"

"I actually don't mind it," Angel said with a shrug. "I grew up with cuisine that tends towards a little more texture than most people appreciate. It almost makes me homesick." She held out her glass for a refill.

Johnathan took the shot and downed the liquid un one gulp. Putting down the empty glass, he made a face. "Not b-b-bad. I-I'm more a sco-sco-scotch kinda guy."

Angel could not help herself from staring at the man, her gaze pointedly fixed on his lips before darting up to meet his eyes. "Is everything alright?"

Johnathan sighed and nodded sadly. "M-m-mostly." He took a breath and decided to tell them. "L-l-little over a year ago, Micheal, the Arm-arm-armory Chief and I, took off in his runabout, th-th-the Alexandria. W-w-we were hunting f-f-for the man r-r-r-responsible f-f-for his and-and-and Dixoho's torture." He took a breath, trying to steady himself.

"W-w-when we found him, M-m-micheal beamed over to his shuttle to c-c-capture him. Something h-h-happened and-and-and the other ship fired a torpedo which o-o-opened a wormhole. Th-th-there was a power overload on-on-on our ship, and-and-and I was hit by a m-m-massive electrical discharge."

"R-R-Rebecca beamed me away b-b-before she lost all p-p-power. The c-c-closest planet her fail-fail-failing systems could find, turned out to be F-f-f-freecloud. Un-un-un-unfortunately, I had no memory of who I-I-I was, wh-wh-where I was, nor-nor-nor could I understand wh-wh-what everyone around m-m-me was saying, as my uni-uni-universal translator had been f-f-fried."

"For the n-n-next year, I was tormented and b-b-beaten by hoodlums, often went w-w-w-without food and water for d-d-d-days at a t-t-time. Until one day, the c-c-c-crew found me and-and-and brought me home." He took a breath and continued. "It's-it's-it's been several weeks since then, and-and-and I'm making progress in my recovery. Still ha-ha-have a way to g-g-go though."

Trapped in a rare moment of being the only person in the room not handling the current assault on her tastebuds, Eva had already pushed the bottle towards Angel with her silent blessings to dispose of the rest of it and was busying herself with the ill-fitting cork of what was the third unlabelled bottle. Somewhere in the midst of Johnathan's explanation, the task was abandoned just long enough to pour him a scotch. She placed it in front of him with a silent half-smile and retreated once more to locate a corkscrew.

Johnathan took the drink with a nod of gratitude. He then took a slow sip of the delicious drink, allowing the fluid to burn down his throat for as long as possible. "Thank you. Now that's a good drink."

Angel found herself shaking her head in disbelief at his story. The gentle motion swirled her vision and she realized that her journey into Eva's inventory was having a powerful effect. "I can't believe you went through all of that and still have the will to come back again," she said quietly. "I don't know if I'd ever be able to set aside the anger."

Johnathan shrugged. "I-I'm not angry. Th-th-this is m-m-my home. I've been on this sh-sh-sh-ship since th-th-th-the 2200's. B-b-b-besides, my w-w-w-wife is here."

Angel nearly fell off of her stool, grabbing the edge of the bar in a desperate grab. "2200s?! Are you - -" she lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper "-- synthetic?"

He shook his head. "No." He chuckled softly. "Sev-sev-srveral of us w-w-were from the USS Ish-ish-ishimura. We w-w-w-were trapped in-in-in a transporter loop. Our ship, this ship, w-w-was attacked by a cloud creature. M-m-most of the crew was killed. Our captain put six of us, all that w-w-were left, into the transporter buffers. We were s-s-stuck in there until Captain Gregnol found us and-and-and pulled us out."

It was quite a revelation and by no means lacking in interest enough to warrant further questioning. The unintentional interruption caused by the loud suction release of the stubborn cork was only compounded by the fact that Eva very nearly flung the object across the room and herself with it, but she staggered on her heels and avoided introduction to the floor plating with no small amount of triumph.

The bottle landed on the bar with a dull thud.

The remaining three bottles were not quite so difficult, though the complicated mechanism holding the cork in place on the last one caused her a moment of grief. With all four lined up, the bartender splayed her fingers against the top of the bar and eyed her two lab rats.

"Survival against the odds and in defiance of temporal standards deserves a toast."

A row of shot glasses, twelve in total, were then filled with a sample from each bottle. Divided three ways, each was presented with their own four.

What are you doing?

The much-maligned voice of reason inside her head was already battling with the seduction of inebriation. It didn't stand much chance of earning any consideration but the acknowledgement of the chaos currently scrambling Eva's better judgement was a step beyond the blissful ignorance of her youth. Empathy was a darned thing and the energy radiating from her pair of drinking buddies gave the half-Betazoid just cause for believing they both needed something to bring their stress-levels down.

She offered Angel a wink.

"I owe you top shelf kanar for dealing with this muck. Putting it right on top of my supply order. In the meantime..." Her sly glance shifted towards Johnathan. "Ready to drink with us, 2200?"

Considering the offer, the young pilot nodded. "I'm off d-d-d-duty for the n-next two days. I'll have a go."

Angel found her skin burning red-hot with the fire of intoxication. It had been so long since she had allowed herself to indulge so freely. Perhaps something about being so far away from her actual colleagues back at the News Service, and all of their damnable aggressive competitiveness was bound to lead straight into this situation. The fact that Eva and Johnathan were so damn likeable certainly didn't hurt either. Without even realizing what she was doing, Angel found that her hand was lowering another empty glass back to the bartop. Whatever she had just drank had gone done smoothly. Very smoothly. "More of that one," she asked with a laugh. She set her elbow next to her glass, and rested her chin on a down-turned hand. "So what is there to do around here when you're off duty for the next two days? We should do something!"

1. 2. 3. 4.

The four shots in front of Eva disappeared in quick succession. There wasn't much to boast about in the ease at which she managed the feat, far too much practise had gone into the agile slight of hand that saw each empty glass pass from her drinking hand to the other, and then straight into the reclamator whilst the subsequent drink was already on its way to her mouth. It was an inefficient way to determine the contents of the bottles, now blurred together as a singular burn that sent liquid fire to each of her extremities, but her flushed grin of triumph left not a lot of room for remorse. There was plenty of time to hate herself, and her brain chemistry's determination to create the same mistakes over and over again, later.

"Oh!"

Somewhere amidst the flurry of her indulgence, the bartender executed a rather dynamic pirouette and stood surveying the back benches. Some initially-unsuccessful rummaging eventually resulted in a data PADD before Eva hefted herself up onto the bar, swiveled her legs around so that her feet settled on the stool next to Angel, and then she huddled with accidental-conspiratorial glee over the small device.

"Help me here. As far as I can tell, this place has virtually no identity beyond being a pretty bland drinking hole. That's not how I run things. So that people have things to do when they're off-duty," she acknowledged Angel's contribution to her thought process with a nudge of her knee into the woman's arm, "I need ideas. Theme nights, regular events; hell, I need a music playlist that suits everyone's tastes."

The brunette angled her head, firstly addressing the flushed redhead, "What kind of things do you want to do?" Her eyes flitted across to regard Johnathan. "You too, 2200."

Johnathan pondered the question. "Hmmm," he mumbled softly. "Well, back in the day, we had a rec room, with darts, 3-D chess, cards, even a small, table-sized, shuffleboard game." He shrugged. "That and we were constantly learning and bettering ourselves for war with the Klingons and the Romulans. Mostly the Klingons." He shrugged again. "Me? I spent my time mostly in the flight simulator, honing my piloting skills aa much as possible. I also swam a lot down in the pool. And spent as much time as I could with Cassie." He smiled sheepishly. Not even noticing that the booze had relaxed him enough that his stutter was gone.

Angel leaned over to Johnathan leaning her head herself against Eva's leg as she did so, her eyes heavy as though the woman were one perfectly positioned body pillow. "And food," she mused dreamily. "An obscene amount of succulent, exotic, real, non-synthetic food."

There were a host of things that came with the job far worse than having someone fall asleep on you. Rather than balk at it as an invasion of personal space, the bartender simply arched her eyebrows in amusement before her expression melted into a far more affectionate appreciation. She didn't know what had the other woman wound up as tight as clockwork, but the sense of contentment radiating from her now didn't require any sort of empathetic gifts to notice. Being careful not to jostle too much, Eva hooked a fingernail beneath a strand of flame-red hair to guide it away from Angel's sleepy eyes and then cast her eyes back and forth between the pair of consultants.

"So flyboy over here wants a tiny airplane ride in the corner and you just want to eat." The finger dropped to prod Angel playfully in the cheek. "You just wait and see what I can do with a space like this."

She grinned across at Johnathan.

"Just takes a little imagination."

Johnathan grinned in reply. He knew she was joking about the toy ride. "Maybe...a karaoke machine? Or a spot for a live band to play during their down time?"

Pointing an index finger in his direction, careful not to disturb the heated cheek radiating warmth down her entire leg, Eva's face lit up with triumphant glee.

"Now that's more like it!"

 

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