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Grotto and Bridge Shopping Trip

Posted on Sun Jul 3rd, 2022 @ 9:32pm by Chief Helmsman Kalahaeia t'Leiya & Ka'see 'Cassie' Anderson (*)

Mission: Adrift
Location: Various
Timeline: MD04 11:00
4059 words - 8.1 OF Standard Post Measure

The Vulcan hybrid glance back and forth along the dark corridor and shivered. The dark corridors reminder of another time in another place where she’d been chased by a vampire cloud who wanted nothing more than to take her blood but unfortunately for it was unable to due to the green blood that she had. It had not stopped the trauma in the slightest as they wandered through the dark corridors. “Wish we had better light,” Cassie said as she glanced back for the millionth time. Why had she agreed to be the one going to the bridge when it was so far from the safety of the breathable and lit space they had forge out for themselves in the cargo holds.

"Or maybe a species with great night vision with us, yeah." Kali grumbled, sweeping a flashlight over the area around and ahead of them. It wasn't that vulcanoids had bad night vision, much like humans it was perfectly 'fine', but nothing compared to that possessed by, say, felinoid species like Caitains. "Still; we haven't hit the storm yet, so everything should basically just all be wherever we left it."

“All depends on if the gravity has failed up there.” The woman countered not even reacting to the grumble as she could not deny that would help. “Power is minimal to keep our hiding place heated and us alive. Burnie said further from deck seven less likely things would be working.”

Kali had actually spent a fair amount of time, even for most fleet officers, training for altered-gravity situations; the smaller the craft you were flying, the more likely that sort of thing was to fail. But that had been years ago. "Ah. Makes sense." They were--well, the ship was, at least--as close to 'dead in space' as you could be without actually being, so she had fairly little use as a pilot at the moment. There had been no reason not to have offered herself up for this trip as basically a pack mule, and on balance decent reasons to have, even outside of 'hopefully being useful to their survival': She'd learned pretty early in life that if she wanted to fit in with or be trusted by a group, she usually had to work harder to prove herself to it, versus the humans or Tellarites or or Betazoids around. "Still, the 'heated' part isn't doing a great job keeping up even with that. Though, we may be...genetically biased...on that opinion." Kali grinned slightly, but also reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out a pair of gloves to slip on; it was even colder here. "I half wonder a lot of the time if my parents picked Boston when they got to Earth just because they figured anywhere that got so cold in the winter would be about the last place the Tal'Shiar would look for them."

"Well once we get to the damage control locker we will have the EV suits and we will be a lot toastier," Cassie commented wrapping her cardigan around herself again as she glanced back. She was not scared of the dark but she was becoming all too well aware of how it reminded her of the night the dikironium cloud creature attacked them. "Genetically or not it is getting colder we need those heaters." Cassie commented wishing someone would have thought before now that it would be needed. It was not long until both were suited up properly and heading off again.

"Better heaters sure as heck beat wearing an EV suit for half a week, yeah. Though the latter will be good to have just as a backstop against anything going wrong during the storm." Kali said. You couldn't survive an ion storm directly in an EV suit, of course; especially any that turned out to be tumultuous enough to break a ship apart; but you could totally use one to survive a variety of stuff short of a complete structural failure--hull breaches, atmosphere loss, systems failures--as long as enough of the main body of the ship held together. No one could call the things pleasant, though.

Kali swiped a hand over a precise spot on one of the gloves she'd donned, and while the pair of gloves looked like nothing special besides their main function of 'not freezing ones hands', the hidden interface built in under the surface registered the input and projected a tiny image of the map she'd uploaded earlier, checking their position before prying a hatch open and scrambling into a nearby Jeffries tube. On the way up the ladder there was the bizarre sensation of semi-buoyancy that came with a reduced gravity level from the standard settings, but not a total lack of. Like being on the moon outside the domes, almost. Honestly, it would probably make carrying the heaters back easier for the first part of things, if anything. At least until they hit the last stretch and standard Gs reasserted themselves, that is; which was bound to suck while hauling equipment on a ladder. "So, I heard someone say you grew up on Earth, too?" She called back to Cassie.

Cassie gripped the rail harder as she felt the first signs of gravity failing. It would be a good way to move quicker through the ship now that they had hit it but it was a relief that it came now and not before they got to the locker. She glanced up at the voice and shook her head. “Not really. I was raised until about 12 on Vulcan then earth.” She explained.

"Oh." Kali flipped the switch on the hatch to deck one, shoved it open, and hoisted herself out. She reached an arm back to Cassie for an assist up and out if desired, but held her arm out in a way slightly different than a human would have; at an angle right for Cassie to grip her forearm, not take her hand itself. "Big climate shift there." Kali left unmentioned the obvious 'big' cultural shift between the two planets, as well. "...Never did get to see Romulus, myself." There was regret in her voice. "But what my parents and my aunt describe sounds like a place warmer than Earth, but wetter than Vulcan. After seeing Vulcan as a teenager, I always thought it must've been one hell of an adjustment for my ancestors way back then, getting used to that much water after landing on Romulus."

Cassie took the arm and pulled herself through the hatch adjusting to the change in direction. She glanced back as she thought she saw something out the corner of her eyes but there was nothing there as she looked. “Yeah big changes but happens.” Cassie was not sure what the woman knew and did not know. “Adjusting to 2394 was bigger than adjusting from Vulcan to earth.” Cassie admitted.

Kali had heard or found whispers of something involving time travel or suspension in time with Cassie, but wasn't entirely sure of the full story; she'd put off doing much of any research on most anyone else in favor of focusing on clearing or not the most likely issues, Liha and Beya, and as she hadn't had much luck ruling out the first as a threat, she hadn't bothered moving onto anyone else yet. Her aunt would probably be busy chiding her for not taking a straight line like that when it dropped into her lap to push Cassie for more information, but given the subtle nervous tells the hybrid woman had been throwing most of this trip here and there, this was probably not the greatest time to express interest in it: Even if nothing else, behind those types of stories laid the trauma of separation from your kin and your home at a minimum (though stories of such separations - time-offset induced or some other reason alike - usually managed to make her feel a spike of complicated emotions where sympathy for someone mixed with a bit of envy; looking in on people missing things she'd never really had the chance to ever have at all). Regardless though, it seemed cruel to delve into right now, and possibly ill-advised overall too, if it set anyone too off-kilter emotionally and impaired completing the task at hand.

"Personally, I had the hardest time adjusting to 2385, myself, though there was no displacement involved in that case." Kali sighed, her precisely-calculated steps belying a trained pilot's familiarity with gravity shifts and how to cope with or use them in either direction, for both one's self or one's ship. "Other than discovering organizations I'd adored and pledged my life to had changed around us unseen, lost themselves; and finally shown their hand of those changes fully in a betrayal that made one feel tainted by association to it, that is."

Ironically, whether Kali herself realized it or not; in that statement she came closer to echoing thoughts of some of the rest of her family than she usually did: She spoke the words about the Federation Council and the Starfleet brass; but with a word or two changed, they could have just as easily been her aunt's or her never-met, now-deceased grandfather's on the Romulan Senate and the Empire.

"...Damn. And here I was trying not to be morose or lead either of us into it. Sorry about that." She fidgeted awkwardly with one of switches on the flashlights, and flushed veridian with a sheepish expression hard to see in the dark. "Kind of have a lot of questions about...Well, everyone...But figured maybe you didn't want to talk about it right now." Caithlin's voice was screaming inside Kali's head again; this time one of a variety of exasperated comments made at points over the last seven years wherein she insinuated that had her niece been younger, she would pawn her off on the Qowat Milat, as she 'apparently had no ability to keep control of what she did or did not say'.

“No ask your questions. It will distract me from the dark. The last time I was on this ship this dark was the day it all went wrong.” Cassie finally admitted as she stopped looking around and just focus on Kalahaeia and it the sense of doom she was feeling.

"I suppose I...don't really know that much. About you, or most of the others aboard either actually. Except Burnie; we served together back in our Starfleet days. I've sorta worked out from stuff I overheard said here and there that something happened to you with some kind of time travel or suspension aspect to it, but..." Kali shrugged by way of explaining that she hadn't really dug any deeper on the topic, and started wrestling the locker open. "...Not much on whatever that was; or much else about you."

Kali took stock of the available suits, eyeing Cassie for size and passing over a suit and helmet that looked to be about right for the other woman, then finally gave up on getting the right size for herself and settled on what looked like the 'best available' fit; still a bit too large unfortunately: Most humanoid suits, even the 'small' ones, envisioned a slightly taller, slightly bulkier frame than her own and she was usually a custom fit job; she added it to her mental list of items to procure during their next stop on Freecloud. For now, she did the best she could, cautiously sliding her dagger from under her jacket to into the equipment pouch at the hips of the suit while Cassie was looking elsewhere, to make sure it remained accessible to if something or someone somehow attacked them.

“In 2246 we stumbled on Dikironium cloud creature.” She explained. “It is a intelligent, predatory, non-corporeal lifeform that feeds by forcibly extracting the red corpuscles from iron-based blood until the prey died. Obviously that was no possible with me but the Captain of this ship at that time put me and four others in suspended animation via the transporter. We constantly rebooted.” It was not an easy process to explain but they were there and they were alive.

Kali considered that the cloud creature Cassie was describing sounded creepy as hell and wondered if the incident was classified still; because if it wasn't, she was surprised no one had tried to make a vampire movie about it. "And then you...someone found the ship later and stopped the loop?"

“Not really. We were stuck in the loop until about three years ago and Gregnol freed us.” Cassie admitted indicated that they should keep moving as they only had limited oxygen after all.

"Wow." It was a long time to be stuck in a transporter buffer; a credit to the durability of the equipment but a situation that really must've sucked for those involved, to spend half a lifetime stuck in one. Hell; half a lifetime for a vulcanoid that is; if any of the parties had been human it was a little more than a whole one. Anyone on the human side of Cassie's family would've been dead before she was freed, with that timeline. Kali flashed the light around, illuminating the door they wanted, and played her fingers across the access panels to the bridge. Luckily it seemed like the panel had enough reserve power still to respond, saving her from having to pull the panel off entirely for the emergency release, but the door itself only opened part way, forcing her to squeeze through, then shove it open slightly more to allow the slightly larger (that is, more normal sized, she thought with an internal sigh) woman through. The same flashlight played around the room, light bouncing off darkened, dead stations, but nothing seeming out of place or unsecured for now. "...Looks alright to me."

Cassie did not answer the surprised tone. It was easier to let that sink in and process for the woman. The woman slipped onto the bridge as she helped push the door open and looked around. She could not help but start moving to each console in turn to see what was happening if anything. “Yeah everything seems to be normal and the shuttle seems to be in the right place as well.”

"Great." Kali flicked her own glance at the same items, and shivered a bit: It was even colder up here than it had been elsewhere, and she jerked her chin and her thumb alike back towards the door. "Let's get out of here and make for the heaters before we freeze, then." She moved back towards the door and squeezed through, then held the light up and waited. "...So when you...got unstuck...Decided to stick around with Gregnol, afterwards? Did you ever consider, like, going back to active service? Or not?" The technological gap by that point would undoubtedly have meant a fair amount of catch-up work; but she hardly doubted it was insurmountable, or that the fleet would've turned them down had Cassie or her time-bending compatriots expressed such an interest.

“Adjust your EV suit.” Cassie advised as she felt the sudden chill even inside the suit. “I did but I decided against it.” She admitted with a shrug. “Sometimes we do things for other people and then can’t quite decide what to do with our lives when that connection ends.” She said with a shrug. Every time Johnathan had left she had considered it but the people she had created friendships were kept her there.

"Nah; I'll be axing it the first moment we get somewhere the residual atmospheric pressure reads enough." Kali shrugged back in the dim light. "I mean, they're useful as hell in a pinch, but I kinda hate the things if I can at all avoid them. The fit on this one sucks; I feel like I'm wearing a clown suit."

'Hating EV suits' was perhaps a bizarre admission for a pilot; but one that made sense if one had known the woman saying it for long enough and stopped to consider the more recent contours of her life: Kali's unnatural speed and accuracy was practically her stock-in-trade (and the only things she had going for her when measured against other Romulans--all larger, stronger, with better endurance--in a fight), and anything that might hamper that was to be avoided unless absolutely required. It was a lesson probably reinforced over the last decade in dozens of fights, either in her time in the Republic or against species like Nausicaans during casino dust-ups in disputed space; engagements she had survived only by being a hair faster or more accurate than her opponent; and apparently the burn-in on that lesson had been deep enough to last.

"And on the rest....Yeah." She sighed, considering the variety of things she had done in her life mostly for others, or had avoided doing. "Been trying to figure out what the frak to do with my life now for the last decade, so can't dispute that one."

“I’ve decided to stay here so I guess that is my choice on what to do. I just need to figure out what exactly I want to do in the ship.” Cassie admitted as she adjusted her EV suit just enough for her to be slightly more comfortable. “Every time my … former spouse left I considered leaving but then realised I have done nothing wrong so why should I leave my home.” She admitted as she counted the door along the corridor to get them to the grotto.

"Makes sense. Me, I left Earth because I was too Romulan to fit in well. Then, I left Romulan space because I was too Federation to fit in well. Then I went and punched the ears off a bunch of cheating Ferengi." The methodical way Kali recounted what had been a rather more complex saga distilled into a few bullet points was a former analyst's tell; as if she'd had a set of slides to present to the brass. The droll bite to her tone, though, was not. "I either belong too many places or nowhere at all; to the point of it really being both at once. Guess I keep hoping someday..." Her voice trailed off as they approached the entrance to the grotto.

Cassie smirked as she saw what looked like a crude hole in the wall but it let to crudely cut hole plate with a door now sealed in front of it. Shoving the door open with some force she revealed the space that was beyond. The small hold was filled from floor to ceiling with all manner of things, from old school communicators all the way up to cabinets filled with piles of books and papers to machines and devices of all kinds. Cassie shined the light along a shelf filled with artefacts before looking over coloured potions and labelled powders that were neatly arranged on tables while large contraptions and machines she could never begin to guess the purposes of covered the other tables. "Welcome to the grotto. The collector had a studied amount of wealth in here."

"Daaamn." Kali looked around at the collection. "We could probably hold an auction and make a bundle. If we've ever strapped for resources I might know a guy or two who could help us set that up." Not all of her instances of beating up thugs in casinos had been against cheating proprietors, after all: Sometimes, if she felt the proprietor themselves was playing fair; she'd made her way in the universe flipping the script and helping them get rid of unsavory types trying to game the tables from the other side. "Anyone ever inventoried it all? Or is that still a work in progress?"

"Been selling stuff from it for years. This is after a lot of it has been sold." Cassie said moving between two bookcases best she could in the EV suit. "Work in process only so much I can do at one time," Cassie admitted trying to not tip over anything over as the space was not designed for the larger technology that they wore.

"Huh. I'll have to look through here myself sometime." Kali flipped absently but briskly through some random piles of items, a grin passing over her face as she uncovered a pair of earrings set with royal blue jewels that she managed to grab awkwardly with the fingers of her slightly-too-large suit gloves. "These are mine now, though; unless anyone else had their eye on them." She glanced around at the area, and all the stuff crammed into it, again. "Any idea where the heaters might be?"

“I probably would not take anything until spoken to Gregnol. Just in case. You never know what … I just wouldn’t take anything yet.” The younger woman suggested with a small shrug as she moved a few rolls of fabric aside to get to two small radiators. “They look small but they back a punch in keeping us warm when we ended up camping on an ice world.”

Why anyone - except Andorians - would voluntarily camp on an ice world was beyond Kali. Sure, she'd played outside in the snow as a kid in the winter, wearing warm gear. But sleeping in it was off the table. Maybe it had been some sort of situation they couldn't avoid. "Dare I ask how that came about?" She chucked the earrings back into the pile they'd come from and reached for one of the radiators.

"Virus... I was investigating a primaeval virus that had been exposed to drilling and I got separated from my team." The woman said simply. She had gone missing thanks to ice ants and had wandered into an old camping area that allowed her to get out of the EV suit and try to work out where she was. Once the radiators were in hand Cassie slowly started to lead them back through the mess of a compartment to get out.

Kali ended up strapping the heater she had over her shoulders and back with a makeshift job from a bungee cord set she'd seen lying around; the presence of everything from heaters to jewelry to equipment like that left her thinking the 'grotto' would've done any Pakled swap meet proud with its randomness; but she wasn't going to knock the convenience, since it let her leave both hands free; somewhere in the back of her mind a warning whispered that Liha was out there in the dark too, at the moment; and if the other woman was a Tal'Shiar assassin, this would be the perfect opportunity for her to overpower or otherwise ditch Jake in the dark and then make her way to them to strike her. Better to have the ability to grab a weapon if need be.

"Glad we had gravity in there." Cassie mused. It might have been heavier than she wanted but she was glad the gravity had left everything where it was for the most part.

A vision of the myriad items stuffed into the grotto floating in microgravity like a morass of tangled seaweed briefly flashed in Kali's head. "Definitely." She reached back to seal the door once they were out, just in case that changed later: Better to not risk everything floating through the corridors. "Unless there's anywhere else you want to hit up, we should probably just reverse our route and head back with these." Kali waved one hand slightly at the heaters.

“Yeah. We will start running out of air soon.” Cassie said by way of agreement. It was something that had been crossing her mind for the last few minutes as her mind wandered. “Successful trip though.” She added feeling positive that they had done what has been requested without incident.

"Yeah. Hopefully these suckers are nice and warm." Kali reached her left hand back to pat the heater appreciatively for a moment, and turned to start back the way they'd come.

 

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