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Booze Cruise

Posted on Tue Nov 9th, 2021 @ 8:45am by Evahnae Kohl & Leiddem Kea (*)

Mission: Holoworld
Location: SS Holoworld
Timeline: MD03 - 10:00
4144 words - 8.3 OF Standard Post Measure

“So how come I got paired with you again?” Leiddem asked as he pushed a trolley through the gangway from his home and onto the ship on what had to be becoming the task he was known for searching out booze on abandoned vessels. “Come on you cannot of heard that I do this everywhere… no one would snitch on the black market I have.” He teased still feeling a bit lighter that he was being given a task that would require him to think a bit more as the holo ship was giving him the heebie-jeebies with the holograms popping up all the time and the lack of people on board when there should have been about a thousand. They could not have just disappeared.

"I guess someone has an opinion about your quality control." Following down the gangway, her attention momentarily diverted to the PADD in her hands, Eva retorted without much consideration for potential offense. Her tone was flippant and teasing, without any layered formality, and it likely hadn't even really occurred to her that she'd never spoken to this guy until several moments earlier. His own jest had barely ruffled a feather and, as she finally looked up, the grin she flashed him was ample proof that the brunette wasn't against a bit of friendly competition. She arched an eyebrow at him. "I've been cleaning out failed fermentation projects for weeks, I hope your standards are at least a little higher than the deck cleaner I've unearthed so far."

“Oh deck cleaner had nothing to do with me. I do not go near own brew unless it’s been drunk by the Captain. He knows his booze and I trust my brother in law tastes.” Leiddem assured quietly thinking of the abandoned Empok nor that he had stolen enough booze to set himself up for awhile before Temperance had allowed him to stock up. “I have high standards. So as I am your lackey where are you taking me?”

As much as she wouldn't have admitted it out loud, Eva was glad to have someone else along for this round of scavenging. The earlier trepidation she'd felt about being on board had not abated over time; if anything, she felt more and more uneasy the longer time stretched on without explanation. She expressed her gratitude with a smirk before returning her attention to the rudimentary ship schematic she'd been handed. "Well, a ship of this size has a few drinking holes. Looks like the closest one is..."

She squinted at the PADD.

"Okay, if we move several sections left, we should hit the dining precinct. I'm going to guess we'll see a main bar and then whatever the eateries stocked to compliment their menu."

“Roughly where about all we beamed in yesterday. It’s amazing the detail of the ship. I cannot tell where the holographic grids end and where it is simply the ship.” Leiddem had never served on a ship as up market as the civilian vessel so he was easily pleased.

"Amazing is one word for it."

Eva had several others, many of them a little less polite, to express how she felt about an environment that couldn't be trusted to even exist. Augmented reality was fine, even desirable, in its place, but there came a point where you needed to know exactly what you were looking at.

The sensation of a thousand eyes staring at her from behind a projected smokescreen sent a shiver down her spine. It was not the first time.

“Cannot say I have ever been on a cruise on water let along…” he threw his hand around at the ship and it’s beautiful decor. “We never grew up on Betazed to be fair, me and J. Our parents are Starfleet doctors and moved all over the place. So holidays were always with family or in between assignments, not on things like this. Not that I think I am missing out if this is how they end.” He mused aloud looking around.

"I spent three years working on recreational cruisers; if all their tours ended this way, there'd be a lot of executives in jail and no market left."

Despite her hesitancy, Eva had ended up leading the way, following the schematics as best she could whilst keeping a distrustful eye on the path directly ahead.

"Nothing about this makes sense, this many people don't just vanish."

"Not without assistance." The man commented darkly as a noise sounded in the distance making Leiddem stop and listen opening up all his senses around them. "Nothing that I can sense." He assured offering a shaky smile as they carried on turning the corner into the cavernous compartment he had had first arrived in. There were banners, streamers and balloons all over the walls and high ceiling still. Tables were covered with an assortment of foodstuffs from all kinds of different cultures. A stage occupied one end, at the moment unoccupied despite an abandoned set of instruments. It all looked the same as the last time Leiddem had been there.

He'd just had to phrase it that way. A wry, pointed look in the security officer's direction thanked him silently for reminding her of the potential for third-party sabotage and then Eva's hands found her elbows. Even his telepathic reconnaissance did little to coax her from the protective huddle as she slowly picked her way through the abandoned proof that, at least at one point, someone had been enjoying themselves here.

"Looks like they left in a hurry."

"To me, it looks like the ship listed and then..." He left the thought hanging as they had not been able to access but information at all. "Well then here we are." He shrugged and started moving out to explore the space properly without all the other people around that were worrying and suggesting wilder and wilder things but the moment.

Despite no evidence to suggest the temperature controls weren't working, Eva felt cold. More than that, there was a prickle to the back of her neck that left her feeling scrutinised, as if the walls and all the leftover food were passing judgement on her right to be there. It annoyed her because being afraid annoyed her and, harnessing that irritation, the bartender glared at a half-finished meal and then wove between the tables to reach the central bar.

At least the spoils weren't disappointing.

"So what exactly are you wanting for your own...collection?", she called out, using a stool to step up and over the bar. Dropping down on the other side, Eva crouched to survey the wine rack and pulled out a bottle in each hand to read the labels.

Leiddem shrugged. He was not overly thinking of anything specific to add to his collection. It was more if anything caught his eye he would add to his collection. The word collection always made him twitch since they learn of the SS Mary Rose and its very unique and interesting past with the individual known as the collector. He haunted the ship like a bad omen. One day the grotto would be investigated properly and the contents purged as they should have way before then. "I do not collect but if anything catches my eye I will let you know. What are you looking for?" He said easily shifting it back to her.

"We can accommodate anything that requires refrigeration, the unit has several empty shelves." One by one, the wine bottles were placed on the bar, sorted into categories and rearranged as she went. "Ford has a standing order for Kesatian Ale if you find any and I need a supply of kanar. Any unopened spirits, regional variants, mixers... There's a lot here," Eva observed, glancing up at the shelves behind the bar before continuing with her efforts. "If we focus first on what's stored and unopened, we can look at the bottles in rotation if we have time. Oh," she added, "And I want a good look at that stage when we're done with the stock. We need portable sound equipment."

The Betazoid nodded as she went through her list of things she needed and required. There was so much there but he guessed on a ship like that you could just never be sure what people would want so it paid to be prepared for paying guests “Should look for Betazoid nectar. Get my sister inside so get the Captain onside.” The man said joining her around the other side of the bar after glancing at the stage. It looked to be all built in but you never knew. He wondered if there would be a kids area onboard it would more than likely have something more portable.

"I wasn't aware I had Gregnol offside." The lilt of the bartender's tone was jovial, a typically warm amusement that was becoming standard when dealing with, or at least discussing, the Captain. "It's a little early to have frustrated the boss unless that's his default." Having unloaded the wine rack, Eva hoisted herself onto the bar, swiveled and then used a bar stool to step down onto the other side to begin loading the trolley.

Leiddem laughed, it was definitely he default and anyone else who had been onboard would agree. “Standard setting but I am the brother in law so I suspect it is me.” The man mused. “You have been onboard nearly a month more than enough time to get on the off side of him as well .” The man loved Gregnol like his own flesh and blood and they had a warm relationship but he was not about teasing him.

"But then what do I have to aspire to?" Craning her head to look at him, Eva grinned, the flash of devilment in her eyes the mark of a true thrill-seeker. As far as she'd been able to discern from the crew's varying opinions, antagonising Gregnol was right up there with flinging yourself off a bridge with only a rope around your ankles to keep you alive.

“That is all on you. You have to find your own aspirations.” He laughed as he pulled a bottle down and whistled at it. “This one is for me.” He mused popping it in his truck as he heard sounds in the distance coming closer that made him turn to see someone come into the room that he did the recognise. “Oh…” he said taking in the fancily dressed woman.

“How may I assist you sir?” She asked instantly as soon as she recognised them.

“Ah it’s one of the holographic hosts.” Leiddem said with a sigh. They had been meeting them all over the ship.

The muttered curse from the other side of the trolley suggested that they was an overly generous term. Eva, thus far, had not been graced with the presence of these holographic hosts she'd heard of, though she'd been feeling the brunt of their invisible scrutiny as goosebumps on her skin every time she stepped on board. Her hand tightened instinctively around the neck of a particularly interesting vintage of merlot and she grit her teeth to avoid telling the projection what she thought of it. Sparking animosity with the only remaining inhabitants was probably guaranteed to put her on Gregnol's shit list.

“No we are good.” Leiddem assured looking the hologram over. She looked human for the most part but there was something off about her as she stared at him. It was eerie like she could see into his soul. “You can leave us.”

“As you wish sir.” The hologram replied disappearing back the way it came.

"I don't know what's worse," Eva said, emerging from behind the trolley to stand beside Leiddem. "The fact that they used those things to avoid running a standard crew compliment, or knowing that some sort of shit went down and our so-called hosts don't even seem to have the subroutines to prioritise worrying about it."

“They still had the basic crew. Legally have to.” The man said brightly as he watched where the hologram disappeared off. “They do not seem to remember at all. It is strange. The emergency medical hologram had no idea anything had happened despite the CMO being dead on the floor.”

"Trust me. Legal requirements as a bare minimum are never enough to cover mandated shifts without a hell of a lot of people getting overworked." Eva had spent too many hours of overtime to have much sympathy for the notion of obeying legalities when those same laws fell far short of supporting proper crew moral. Glaring at the hologram's last point before dematerialisation, Eva folded her arms across her chest and added, before turning on heel to complete her wine acquisition, "The crew probably went mad from lack of sleep."

“If they went mad we should have found them by now though. There would be some sign.” Leiddem said. He was not going to argue over legal stuff with someone. Their worlds and fields were too different. It was just not worth it to him.

If pressed to defend herself, it wouldn't have taken long to out Eva as a disgruntled ex-employee who, whilst potentially having a valid point or two, was also using positional privilege to exaggerate. The pointless argument was saved, however, by the distraction instead of shooting him an amused side-eye as she rearranged the next pair of bottles into the best stacking arrangement on the trolley. She hadn't expected to be taken literally. "So where do you think they are then?"

The question fluxed the man and made him shrug casually. He might act like he had all the answers but he mostly had nothing to add at the moment. "I do not know... Exciting isn't it." The man teased as he looked at the bottle closest and tugged it open sitting at the bar. "Grab two glasses." He prompted.

The request earned him a look of mild incredulity but, unnerved by the hologram's appearance and rapid disappearance, Eva didn't argue. Instead, sitting once again on the bar, she spun her legs around to jump down on the other side and surveyed their options. Having no idea what it was he wanted to pour, Eva set out a line of glasses in various shapes and sizes and then grinned at him. "Pick your poison."

Leiddem had no idea what he was pouring but it was dark and smelt strong. It would both be poison and a potion to heal all nerves. He poured until the glasses ran out and turned to the woman.

“I have no idea what this is.” He admitted as he picked up one of the glasses and threw it back wincing at the burning sensation going down his throat.

The assortment of rather comically uneven pours rankled Eva's professional nerves but did far too much to amuse her impulsive side to warrant complaint. Picking up a champagne flute, nestled between a red wine glass and a brandy snifter, she held it up to the light to cast a critical eye over the contents. An experimental sniff was promptly followed by a grimace. "Cognac. You're meant to sip it." Doing just that, Eva smacked her lips together and wrinkled her nose before downing the rest of the contents in one gulp. "Though I don't know why you'd bother."

"I do not," Lieddem said grabbing two shot glasses downing them with the enthusiasm of someone who had obviously done that many times before with something different. "So what is your favourite drink then?" He asked deciding to sit up on the bar to keep a better watch on his surroundings than the floor offered besides it was easier to reach for more booze if he wanted more in the future.

"Oh, that's a hell of a question to ask a mixologist." Moving back a step, Eva lifted her eyes to survey the shelf of spirits just above her head and then strained upwards to grab the neck of a likely bottle. "It depends on the occasion," she continued, turning the bottle around to read the label, "and availability, and the company. If it's wine, Betazed Shiraz or Riesling depending on the menu. There aren't many times I'd choose other vintages over what some of those coastal vineyards near Dalaria are producing." Setting down the bottle, the brunette moved the rest of the odd assortment of glasses towards her drinking partner and took down a glass for her own pour, filling it halfway over a mass of ice cubes. "I could give you a list of cocktails as long as my arm that are my club drinks and then a ranked listing of spirit blends and my opinion on the best way to serve them." Hoisting herself up to sit on the bar next to him, but facing the opposite direction so that she could actually look at him, Eva lifted her glass and grinned. "But if I'm on my own, or just need something familiar for comfort's sake, whiskey and I are old friends. Actually, we should check to see if their top shelf has any Aldebaran whiskey. This," she reached over to offer him the bottle she'd poured from, "looks like a fairly decent bourbon. I think the brewery is even one of the newer Kentucky ventures."

"Well, I like to test you. Got to know the woman providing the alcohol is good enough." Leiddem teased a little as he took the bottle. "As long as it is strong and burns it is all good." The man was really not fussy in what he drank. "Now if we are talking Betazoid Nectar I am quite fussy. My grandparents have a huge store from their own business. I get a bottle every year. Never been able to work out what region they get it from as I have never been able to replicate it." He annoyed him and his siblings no end, maybe one day they would let them in on the secret.

"My grandmother's people ran a vineyard with a distillery attached," Eva mused, though it wasn't information necessarily helpful to his particular plight. "I used to hang out in the processing room whenever we visited, pretty sure I got tipsy for the first time when I was ten." Grinning over the top of her next sip, the brunette narrowed her focus to address his problem. "There's not a shortage of plantations though and most of the distilleries that went under with the occupation either rebuilt or got replaced by new ventures." She hunched an unhelpful shoulder. "It could be one of literal dozens."

Leiddem let out a choked sound and sighed turning to lie on the bar not spilling a drop of the pint glass he had picked up as another shot and put his arm over his eyes. "Now you see my dilemma. Personally, if my sister was not around I would attempt a Betazoid distillery tour but alas she would tell our mother and then all hell would break out." It was bad enough both Jeassaho and himself had resigned commissions and were out there doing who knows what in his mother's eyes but drinking through Betazed would just be the nail in the coffin for her.

"And what's wrong with a little hell?" The arched eyebrow of Rosie's foremost expert in the responsible serving of alcohol was perhaps not what the certification board had in mind when espousing the virtues of encouraging patrons to have a healthy relationship with intoxicating substances. The side-eye Eva gave him from her vantage point peering down was a fitting match for the sly smirk that almost posed as a dare. "Some of the best moments of my life were against the wishes of everyone who thought they knew better." And plenty of the worst ones but who wanted to dwell on the negative? "You look like a grown adult," she teased. "What's life without a little risk?"

"Not to my mother. To Rweaxima Kea I am merely a child. A few more years and I might be an adult to her. Woman." The man said with a grin as he sat up and rolled his eyes. He stopped as something caught his attention. The man moved with ease off the bar and moved a few paces crouching down. Something wet on the floor caught his attention and he wiped his hand along the mark and sniffed it. The smell of blood was a particular smell, not always recognizable because people usually did not in contact with a great volume of blood in daily life but the former marine could distinguish it easily enough. "Blood.... are you bleeding?" He demanded.

As far as diversional topics went, this one took the cake. The amusement with which Eva had watched him, even up until the impressively fluid dismount from the bar, lingered a moment before fading into frown. A glance downwards at her torso was an unnecessary reflex and then Eva spun and shuffled to the edge of the bar, dropping to her boots as she examined her arms. "Not as far as I can tell." She stood with her back to him, relying on him to check where she couldn't see, whilst she craned her head to awkwardly attempt to return the favour. In the process, her eyes dropped to the puddle he'd found. "You sure we didn't just spill something?"

The man reflectively looked her over and nodded that she was unharmed. “Anything smell like human and… something else blood and fresh?” The man demanded checking himself over as he wiped the blood on his trousers.

Put on the spot, Eva's mind raced through the extensive catalogue stored inside her head and then floundered, exhaling softly. "I mean, if there's alcohol present, you'd smell it. Even bloodwine, which you'd think would be the closest culprit, has such a high proof that we'd have noticed a puddle of that on the ground just from the stench of it." Chewing worriedly at her lip, having turned around to stare at the red stain seeping slowly across the floor, Eva winced. "But if we're not hurt, then where did this come from? It looks...fresh."

Leiddem nodded with her theory it was fresh. It was really fresh. “I don’t think that hologram was a hologram.” The Betazoid said stunned as he looked at the way the ‘hologram’ had gone. It would do no good to chase after now as they were long gone but it left the question of why had they not said anything and why had he not sensed her.

Far from being the most proficient telepath in the room, Eva still wasn't accustomed to being snuck up on either. She stared towards the doorway, wishing now she'd taken a close look at the visitor. "But if not a hologram, then who? One of the crew?" Incredulity creased her brow as she turned to face Leiddem, not entirely convinced of his theory. "But why would they come in here acting like one of the automated systems and then just leave again? Especially," she added, gesturing to the blood stain, "if they're injured. It doesn't make any sense." Turning back to consider the empty space that had once held the key to their queries, Eva surreptitiously edged herself closer to the security officer, only stopping when her elbow brushed against his. "Why didn't they ask for help?"

“Would you after whatever happened?” Leiddem wondered. They had no idea what had happened to the holoship to have it end up on the planet crashed nor where was everyone. If anyone was onboard still they would have to keep out of the limelight or maybe they panicked when they saw people ransacking the bar and did the first thing they thought of to keep safe. “Let us get back to the ship.” He said quickly, feeling more uneasy than he had since their trip to the other universe.

It seemed...wrong. To have a suspicion that someone was still here, and hurt, too scared to ask for help, or compelled for some other reason to pose as the service drones, and just leave. Eva's heart thudded in her throat as she hesitated, struggling with the raw empathy and guilt that came from abandoning a member of the industry that she still very much considered herself a part of, or at least an ongoing supporter. But the pair of them were unprepared, and despite the fact that Leiddem was somewhat of a reassuring physical presence, even his competence didn't feel like enough. Slowly nodding, her eyes still training on the empty doorway, Eva moved back towards the bar to quickly grab the last of their spoils.

"Let's go."

 

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