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A Doctor Walks into a Bar...

Posted on Sun May 22nd, 2022 @ 7:34am by Aarix Teral

Mission: Elsewhere
Location: Martian Colony 5
Timeline: Prior to the Mary Rose
Tags: Monthly Challenge #3
1621 words - 3.2 OF Standard Post Measure

"You what??" Birin asked, her eyes wide with bewilderment. She was visiting Aarix while passing through to Earth, and the two were taking a tour of the colony. She was sipping on some frozen purple drink Aarix called a 'mint and blueberry shake' and it was not what she was expecting. It was a combination of sweet and savory that she didn't expect, but it was a good combination.

Aarix shrugged as they walked. "I applied to the Mary Rose." He was in a dark blue shirt and jeans, and one of his hands was resting deep in the pant pockets. They were in the colony's promenade, a large space with many shops and food options, and the two floors almost gave it a space station feel, minus the greenery growing from special potting insets in beams to provide color, and the classic red-orange glow from the Mars surface through the transparent ceiling.

There was a pause, then Birin asked, "why?" From their years of conversation, Aarix loved the colony and he made it sound like he would never leave. "I mean, why a ship, of all places to apply to?" Contrary to his casual attire, she was wearing a long, flowing, dark red dress, something one would expect to wear on a date.

A gentle sigh left Aarix's lips. "I dunno, I wanted to try something new, I guess." He took a sip of his own shake, one with strawberries and bananas, as he thought about his decision. The application was somewhat on a whim, he didn't really think much of it and honestly didn't expect to be accepted.

"Earth is literally closer, you could try something new there," the Bajoran pointed out. Did something happen in the colony that made him want to leave? She looked him over, trying to find any external clues for her to go off of. "Ships travel, Aarix. They can get really far from home. I'm not trying to talk you out of it, but please tell me you at least took that into account."

Aarix then avoided her gaze and took a longer sip of his shake.

"Oh Prophets, you didn't!" Birin groaned, facepalming. While she regarded Aarix as smart, there were times when she questioned his thought process. "Aarix, you really should have thought of that!"

"I know ships travel!" Aarix quickly said, trying to redeem himself. He heard his name from afar, and briefly paused the conversation to see Miranda, the very pregnant woman he had been monitoring for about four months, waving kindly at him. Following their last checkup, she could be due any day. Next to her was her husband Jim, who was a tall and slender man, and he was carrying a couple of medium-sized boxes and just gave a nod to Aarix. Smiling, Aarix waved back before returning his attention to the conversation. "I know ships travel," Aarix repeated, "but I just... I've never worked on a ship and I thought it would be interesting. Besides, all ships come back for resupply and whatnot, so I'd be able to visit the colony once in a while."

"Oh, Aarix..." the Bajoran pinched the bridge of her nose. "Aarix, that's not how it works. Yes, ships resupply on a schedule, but they don't always return to the same station or starbase. They go to whatever is closest. You could literally end up on the other side of the quadrant and not see Mars for years." Looking at him, she watched his face pale at the idea. After seeing his interaction with the very pregnant woman, she knew that he had close ties to people in the colony, and the idea of not seeing those people for potentially years clearly freaked him out. "Hey, it's not that bad," she quickly added, trying to ease his worries. "Take it from someone who works on a freighter. It will take some getting used to, but it's not as scary as you think. Unless told otherwise for a mission, it's common for people on ships to video call back home."

Aarix swallowed the lump in his throat, eventually nodding at Birin's words. The idea of being lost in space for years made him a little nervous, but at the same time it was... perhaps a little exciting? He couldn't quite place a name to the butterflies he was getting in his stomach. "Do, uh... do you have any suggestions?" he asked, the anxiety evident in his voice.

A smile snuck onto Birin's lips. It was a mix of a comforting gesture and excitement at being able to help introduce this poor soul into ship life. "First, if you're accepted, bring a good book. The transport ride is long and it sucks, but surely you can use your doctorly patience to get through it." She paused to take a quick sip of her smoothie, savoring that sweet/savory combination. "The transport will coordinate with the ship to find a good rendezvous point to shuttle you to, likely a starbase. Rule of thumb on starbases: don't be casual, and don't stare. Lots of ships dock at starbases, so be mindful of how you behave."

"Hold up," Aarix quickly jumped in, raising a brow. "I can be professional!"

Birin snorted. "Yeah, to other civilians. You'll probably be running into way more species than you'd find in the colony, Aarix, and they all have their own customs. You'll also undoubtedly run into Starfleet people." The Bajoran crinkled her nose at the mention of those uniformed people. She had mixed feelings about them, and often chose to not voice her opinions because she tended to be... well, 'passionate' was the polite way to put it. Ever since Leyar enlisted, she began to doubt Starfleet's intentions. Were they really that trustworthy if they would 'scrape the bottom of the barrel,' as humans put it, and let someone as lowly as him join? She gave her head a little shake as she pulled herself back to the present, noticing that her train of thought made her squeeze the cup in her hand enough that, perhaps if she squeezed it further, the cup would cave in on itself. "In my experience, they're all 'yes sir, no sir' type of formal, but in any case, your level of formality needs to step up a notch. Basically act as if the President of Earth were visiting the colony."

Aarix slowly nodded as he took in her words, taking a sip of his own smoothie. He didn't care much for formalities when working, but he could chalk that up to growing up in a colony. Everyone knew everyone, there was no need to be formal unless it was a new face. "Ok fine, I'll make sure I'm more formal. Anything else?"

"Hmm..." Birin touched a finger to her chin as she thought. "Well, starbases are very large, larger than the colony. Unless you know you're staying there for more than a couple hours, don't go wandering off because you'll get left behind. Transports wait for no man, learned that the hard way once." She chuckled as she remembered that time. It was her second ever posting, and she thought she had enough time to wander around. She ended up having to wait a week at the starbase before she could get another ride to her posting. "Obviously, if there's like a coffee shop or something near the docking hatch, you can hang out there, but don't decide to explore the upper pylons or something."

"Why would I... never mind," Aarix shook his head to dismiss the question. "Alright, got it. Bring a book, act like I'm meeting the President, and stay near the docking hatch." As a doctor, he had no interest in the upper pylons, but he quickly learned that Birin was making a joke and that was kind of the whole point. But now he was curious about what was up there. After a pause, he said, "ok, the way you phrased it has me curious. Have you explored the upper pylons of a starbase?"

Birin laughed, holding off on taking another sip of smoothie so she wouldn't choke on it. "Yes, I'll admit, I've checked out the upper pylons of a starbase before. I had something like eight hours to kill. That was a hell of an endeavor; I had to climb so many ladders just to get to the top." Her eyes sparkled at the memory, "but once you get to the top, you can see the entire starbase from a viewport. It's really fantastic."

Aarix chuckled, noting that sparkle in Birin's eyes that said she really enjoyed the view. "Well, maybe if we end up on a starbase together, you can show me?" he suggested.

"Oh, absolutely," Birin immediately replied. "Words don't do it justice."

Aarix smiled. "It's a date, then." He opened his mouth to say more, only to feel like air escaped him as a bar came out of nowhere and became one with his gut. There was a little 'oof' that came out of his mouth, and Aarix slightly doubled over as he backed up from his inanimate attacker. The beam was part of a decorative structure, with 'elbows' of metal sticking out, and if one wasn't paying attention, they'd run into it.

Birin heard the dull ring of a body hitting metal, and she turned to see Aarix near the decorative structure with a hand to his abdomen. Sighing, she put her head in her hand. "Another thing you should practice on a ship, Aarix," she said, "is being less clumsy. How did you even manage to walk into that??"

"Guess I was distracted," the man wheezed with a sheepish little smile.


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Comments (1)

By Chief Helmsman Kalahaeia t'Leiya on Sun May 22nd, 2022 @ 9:46pm

Perfect use of the title! :D