goggles & hammer

You Can't Hit a Nail Straight When You're Laughing.

Well, that was one hell of a ride. I acquired a new skill! It's call the barroom bribe. Take large wad of cash, apply it to bar tender or other authority figure, and watch your friends move with a get out of jail free sort of immunity. Handy when hunting down assholes who try to hide in said barroom to avoid answering tough questions. Questions like 'why'd you set our friend up to get nabbed?' and 'what do you mean she's likely on a slave market auction block?'. However, I did find out that this bribe technique comes with a complementary glass of booze, especially when you flirt with the cute girl hiding behind a scar.

After a wild goose chase uptown, downtown and crosstown, we finally managed to find Noelle again. Much worse for the wear, but it looks like we got her to fed med facilities soon enough they'll be able to patch her up. Only required a visit to said slave market, through a Ferengi ship, and then out to visit the ship of another of the unsavories who operate out of that hell hole. Odd thing happened as we picked her up though, the guy who appeared to be behind this... or at least so we thought, my information's leaning towards not now; he was beamed right out from under our noses. Diz was literally talking to him when suddenly, shimmer shimmer, gone. I was in gargoyle mode, watching what was going on through my goggles that were patched into the clunker's computer system at the time, so I got flashed by a ship dropping out of cloak just long enough for the beam up, then disappearing off to parts unknown. Attempts to get anything useful to track them down were flimsy at best, and with the way Noelle came back to the ship, there was no chance to pursue.

Understandably, Diz was seeing red. Shit, I don't think I've seen her twisted enough to actually start barking orders at people. Usually when she gets mad, she just gets quiet, does everything herself and you just want to stay out of the way. This time? She was yelling at Therav Kitty's goons, barking orders like a marine sergeant. Hell, Tom warned me she'd even barked at him and shit man, she's fucking him! Once we got in the air, and I asked about Noelle, then gave her a report on what I knew... she calmed down quite a lot. After that update, she had me do what I could to kick up our ride's speed more than a little, then spend the rest of the ride seeing if I could find out anything about this Frank Wilson character and why anyone would want to nab him. I found a heaping dose of jack and shit.

Therav yelled at Diz when we got back to the station, after the med team carted Noelle off to take care of her. Oddly enough, she took it much better than I expected her to. MUCH much better. Tom wanted to kick his ass for yelling at her, and she stopped him. I took that as a cue to exit stage left, and find the bar. I am glad I did, the buzz I had going into the debriefing helped stomach the interrogation I got. Now, you'd think they'd ignore me. I'm just the geek who processes the data, but apparently I had all the information they had about what the hell was going on. Orders coming from on high that didn't make sense, the objective of our mission to acquire a box that had Saf in it, and apparently we did a fantastic job acquiring exactly what it was they wanted us to acquire.

I lost count of how many times they had us run through the whole story from top to bottom. They split us apart, they grouped us together, they had us run it backwards, forward, middle out and then asked random questions about all the different segments, all out of proper order. Then when they finally finished that, they brought in the ship's logs and requested a copy of my data from the whole mission. Well, requested would probably be too polite of a term, it was more like a demand. Luckily I had archived it all together into one nice and neat little packet while I'd been sampling rainbow colored alcohol in the bar. Made it a little quicker and easier to offer it up, cross reference my bits to theirs, and all that jazz.

Soon we drew near to the end of the interrogation, and shit was it one... the only thing missing was the bare bulb above my head and the hard wood chair in an empty room. I let it slip that I'd found bugs on the transport, and got an interesting reaction: "Are they like the ones we put on the ship?" from Sharad, his voice level, calm, but almost hesitant. "We who?" I return, eyebrow cocked. I thought I had him when there was a pause before he responded, but eventually he came back with "It's an order passed down through some of the officers, from Starfleet Command." "Interesting" was all he got for his troubles. He did have the gall to ask me how I found the bugs, but dropped the subject when I laughed off his question.

When they finally let us go, I caught this little exchange between Sharad and Diz: "All that swagger. You don't think he's sexy?" It was clear that he was talking about Therav, and his question caused Diz to stop in her tracks. "Hard to consider fucking someone who'll shoot you in the back. Makes you wonder if they'll drive the knife in before or after the orgasm," was what she finally returned. Tom had come up behind her by this point, and laid a hand on her shoulder. "What makes you think he'd do that?" Sharad seemed genuinely confused by her reaction. "He has." She stalked forward past Sharad quickly, and Tom shot him a look as he passed. "You must've done something naughty," Sharad called after her, a chuckle in his voice. I raised my eyebrow at him as I passed him and followed her and Tom out of there.

me & Diz

Dynamite with a laser beam; Guaranteed to blow your mind. Anytime.

The last time I saw Diz get this way, was back during the Klingon war. That story she and I both tell, of her encounter between her and her brother, so much was glossed over, so much was cleaned up. She well and truly scared me, seeing her like that. She was boiling with such rage, but she oozed this air of calm detached efficiency. Even being the die hard agnostic I am, I actually thanked whatever deity that perhaps was listening that this psychopath, this lunatic as she calls herself, was my friend and ally, not my enemy.

It had started in the meeting with this guy named Beck. The man was trying too hard to impress, all gussied up to the point of ridiculousness, such spit and polish that it had to take twice as much effort to maintain than it was probably worth on this sad little rock. Diz had just negotiated the purchase of our objective, and he brought up the subject of collateral. That's when that stupid oaf, Tuck, all but signed his death warrant. He thought he was being funny, you could just see it on his face. Beck had been hard pressed to turn away from Noelle the whole meeting, and Tuck suggested that she'd make good collateral. I was surprised when Diz went through the motions, pretended to even consider it. It was clear she absolutely hated the idea, and Noelle wasn't any more impressed with it, but somehow...

I'm surprised she kept herself together until we were out of the building, and the only reason I reacted quick enough to actually catch Noelle's messenger bag when she tossed it to me was my self defense instincts kicked in hearing the sound of fist impacting with face. I had to turn and see what it was to best decide how to respond. She clearly surprised Tuck, he was white as a sheet and it took him nearly a minute to get himself together enough to attempt to return her blow. I was fully prepared to stop Tom or Enzo if they tried to interfere, but survival instinct or security and tactical training kept them both back. Stace was distracted by something else, I later found out it was conversation it would have been very helpful if he'd been better versed in Ferengi and able to understand. The four of us all backed into different directions, and managed to established a perimeter around Diz and Tuck, kept the locals back as they all gathered to watch. Even Beck's goons, who had taken up posts at the door we'd just exited, couldn't help being drawn in. The Andorian even laid money on Diz coming out the winner.

Everything moved so quickly, it was hard to keep track of much. It looked as though for every blow Tuck succeeded on landing, Diz returned at least three-fold, be it by force or by quantity, sometimes even both. Neither drew any weapons, even though I assume he had some, and she had probably half of what was with her on clear display. When the chaos settled, he was on knee looking up at her, and he drew breath to say something, only to have her punch him hard enough that a fresh spray of blood hit the crowd to his right, then she spat in his face. He'd already looked bad enough between the split lip and the black eye she'd given him, but the fact that one of the few blows he'd landed on her had split her lip left him with a bloody spray across his face from this. The way she reminded him that she could do to him what he had appeared to be drawing breath to do to her sent a shiver down the spine of most people in the audience. Then she walked away. Just like she had with her brother. Not a look back, not another word, not a concern that he'd get up and try to attack her again.

I knew that was our cue to exit, so I quickly followed. Tom and Enzo weren't far behind me, only Stace seemed to miss this. Tom, Enzo and I all stayed silent when Diziara grabbed Stace by the elbow to follow; they discussed what had held his attention during her little fight as he guided us to the money changer Beck had recommended. Everything went smooth with the transaction, I felt like it was a little too smooth, but didn't get a chance to say anything to Diz before we made it back to Beck's.

The first indication something was wrong was the lack of goons, and the door sitting wide open. I grabbed Stace, pulling him to the back of the group with me, even as I pulled out my phaser and switched my goggles to scan for bio signatures. Diz took point, Enzo flanking her, and Tom moved behind Stace and I as we all headed inside.

The first thing I noticed as Diz and Enzo entered the room was that Diz had to step over the Bajoran goon Beck had, he was out cold and in pretty bad shape. Enzo made eye contact with Diz before he knelt down to check the man's vitals and see if there was anything he could do. I hesitated at the threshold into the room, watching Diz make a quick sweep first. Once she looked back at us to see why we weren't right behind her, I headed straight in, pulling Stace by the elbow to get him to follow me out of the way. Tom was pulling a secondary sweep around the room as Diz narrowed in on Beck.

We heard him before we saw him, though when I turned my head towards his desk, my goggles picked up his heat signature behind it. I switched over to my tactical scan settings, a hybrid of bio-signature and technology scanning, looking around the room. Stace was talking to himself, muttering about the conversation he'd heard earlier. It was pretty clear from what he was saying that he'd likely overheard someone involved in this escapade, but for a man who I had heard so many languages come from his lips, it would be just our luck to find the gap in that knowledge when it actually would have been useful.

As Diz stalked over to where Beck was laying on the floor, I was convinced she was going to pick him up by the neck and interrogate him. As it was clear that Noelle was nowhere to be found in this small room, nor was Beck's Andorian goon. She stood over him, arms crossed, looking down without bending down. Her tone said everything that was needed to be said as she demanded to know where Noelle was. Beck's response made it clear he was surprised to find out that she was even missing. The way he responded, the concern in his voice even as he was clearly in pain from whatever had been done to him, left even the City bred skeptic in me hard pressed to second guess his sincerity. Diz bought in also, that's when she asked me for her regenerator.

As I reached down into my pockets to find it, Enzo held up a something small. I almost didn't recognize it at first, but as I realized what it was, my goggles helpfully labeled it for me. Noelle's disguised communicator, the ones issued to us for the mission that looked like badly pirated fleet tech. Enzo made the obvious comment, and I closed the space between me and Diz to hand over her regenerator. She and Beck talked quietly for a little bit as she patched him up, Tom even butted in, and I retreated back to the corner with Stace. The damn Brit was still babbling to himself, trying to make sense of what he'd heard earlier. When I commented it seemed weird that this was done by Orions, as Beck mentioned while talking to Diz, but what Stace had heard was in Ferengi, Stace laughed.

It didn't take long before I stopped him and insisted he switch to Tellerite, which he did mid-sentence without so much as taking a breath. Even then I had a hard time following, I'd only taken four years of the language in the Academy after all. The long and short I got out of his rambling was if the bastards had been speaking Orion, he would have had their name, place of birth and their mother's favorite perfume. He's apparently fluent in that shit. Also, what self respecting Ferengi would get their hands dirty if they could under pay someone else to do the job instead? Even as he went on about all this, he continued to work through the puzzle of what he'd heard, apparently working out new words due to context and what we'd just learned. Oddly fascinating, and mildly unsettling to listen to. The man still annoys the piss out of me, but it'd be hard to convince me he's not at least a little gifted after that glimpse into his talents.

In the end, Diz and Beck agreed to work together to track down Noelle, and find the bastard who'd betrayed Beck to make off with her. Whatever these people wanted with Noelle, it had nothing to do with the box though, they'd left that where Beck had hidden it, and it would be safe to assume that Thelis would have known where it was, given that he was their inside man. Money still exchanged hands, and we brought the box back to the ship. Fat lot of good that was, all it had in it was saf. When Diz bitched about it, saying it wasn't even much saf, and confessed to her experience with the stuff, Tom's eyebrow rose up under his hat. For a guy with Romulan Ale in a flask in his pocket, he sure seems straight laced.

Diz sent Stace and Enzo out to see if they could find anything out, and Beck is attempting to work his own contacts to see what he can find out. So Diz, Tom and I are all playing the waiting game. Waiting for Stace and Enzo, waiting for Beck, and even waiting for our fleet contact. Apparently that's Sharad, the chan from the Andor mission. Diz has gone off to brood by herself, and Tom didn't have much luck when he tried to follow her, so he's plunked himself down with me in the ship's tiny galley.

Not so surprising, the conversation has turned to Diz, as it so often does with her fuck toys. On the Rothmore, this often happened to me; being one of the few males on the ship she hadn't fucked, yet she still spent a lot of time with, would lead the men she was fucking to seek me out for advice and insight into her moods and whims. Tom seems to think he's gotten her mostly figured out, but her display with Tuck earlier has left him a little pensive. I'm still not sure what he expects me to tell him, and he hasn't really asked me a question. Comments have been made, comparing her grace to a ballerina, her skill to that of a surgeon, and yet he seems surprised that such a deadly creature could also be so tender and caring as she is. The dichotomy that is Diz is one that I don't expect anyone to figure out, even she seems mystified as to what she is or what she should do with herself.

yum

Valkyries are people too.

I don't think I handled that situation very well. If she'd been anything other than a Security officer, a tough as nails one at that, she probably would have been crying and cursing as I left her quarters. As it was, she was a cold smoldering fire with a stone face. The problem was, she came on strong when she "invited" me to dinner, and efforts I made to dodge it were repeatedly shot down. Despite attempting to say no easily a few dozen times, the only answer she accepted, to allow me to leave the mess and head back to my quarters for some much needed sleep, was a yes.

She made a fantastic dinner. Everything was fresh made, which I knew because I saw her pulling the last of it from her wok, on a gas burner, as she let me into her quarters. The focal point of dinner was something she called Tea Smoked Duck, and I have to say, she is an amazing cook. I did manage to tell her this before I got my foot stuck in my mouth trying to untangle the "date" misunderstanding.

It started off pretty well. I didn't dress up, though I did make efforts to actually match my clothes instead of just throwing on whatever when I changed out of my uniform at the end of my shift. She was dressed pretty nice, a dress made of apple green Chinese brocade in a flower pattern, piping along the edges, and the mandarin collar with the frog buttons.

She had the table set with chopsticks, and I was reluctant to admit that most of my experience with chopsticks had been Japanese style in sushi restaurants. The western style Chinese restaurants in New York had a tendency to offer Japanese style chopsticks, be it because that's what the customers expected or because they didn't know better themselves, so even though I had eaten my share of Chinese previously, I wasn't sure what to make of these longer and much more blunt tipped sticks she provided me with. It didn't take her long to figure out where my problems stemmed from, and she complemented my nimble engineer's fingers when her advice resulted in my better managing my food.

Small talk all through dinner was interesting. She commented on my budding friendship with her boss, we shared a laugh over the rumors that filtered around the ship about him, and she did interrogate me on Dizi's issue with him. From there, we actually talked about my reputation as a Casanova. Oddly enough, this wasn't where things got awkward. She did help me decide it was probably AJ spreading these rumors, who is also a sore spot, what with blasting my first name all over the BBS. Marla seemed amused that I had such a strong dislike for my first name, apparently she likes my name. What is it with women insisting on calling me by my first name, even when I insist they don't?

It was about this point in the conversation, when we were finishing up eating and she suggested we go sit on the couch and have a drink, that things started taking a turn for the worse. I still hadn't come up with a tactful way to explain that she was really nice, pretty even, but I just don't get involved with crew mates. The annoying part is, we had touched on the topic during our conversation over dinner, when we were talking about the most recent off-duty thread on the BBS.

I made the mistake of admitting that were we not crew mates, I probably would take her up on her offer. That didn't seem to help matters, only make her angry. I tried to explain, tried to make her understand, that I just didn't like things to get complicated, and relationships are already complicated enough. She demanded to know why I spend so much time around the ship's biggest floozy, her exact words to describe Diz, and it was my efforts to defend Diz, and her casual sex habits, that sent her over the edge into cold seething anger. I started to excuse myself just as she tensely told me to get out.

Well, if there's a silver lining to this whole mess, it's that maybe they'll finally put those Casanova rumors to rest when this gets around the ship... as I'm sure it will soon enough.

beer!

The Haul

So, now that birthday presents have finished filtering in, here's the inventory:

  • The Lieutenant Commander found me some Andorian Glow-Ale, in a nice antique looking bottle. I haven't had the chance to try any before, so I am looking forward to sampling it.
  • Noelle found me a hat, scarf and glove set in my favorite colors. Wore them back from the karaoke place to the hotel, and from the hotel back to the ship the next day. Got some odd looks from the customs people on my way through, but I'm not worried about it.
  • Trish, like she used to way back ago before I joined the fleet, bought me two gifts; First a gag gift to be opened in front of everyone else, the second given to me later after the attention was off me. The gag gift was one of those scary Jesus candles, except instead of Jesus on the front, it was a very poor rendering of Saint Vidicon. This actually amused me a lot, and it will likely get left out on an end table in my quarters. The real gift was a flask, a nice one. Made of platinum and a couple different tints of gold, it was a circuit board design that actually appeared to be a working design. I'll have to play with it in the holodeck to see what its function is.
  • Dizi's friend Toby sent a bottle of something that smells and tastes high proof, but the labeling was such that I didn't recognize the language or the origin. It should prove fun to find where this came from, especially since I know he spent nearly a decade wandering the beta quadrant years ago.
  • Ma cross stitched me a pillow, with a picture of the Tardis and the serenity prayer on it. I'm torn over what to do with it, because she did a beautiful job on the Tardis, but I think the prayer she selected was intended to be commentary on my alcohol collection and drinking habits, given that it was one favored by Alcoholics Anonymous back in the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • I have a dinner "date" with Marla Zhu. She cornered me in the mess after I got off duty from my shift at the end of leave, and I couldn't find a tactful way to plead out of it, but I'm pretty sure she wants it to be a date, even though she said it was for my birthday. She's apparently cooking me something, and I'm expected to show up at her quarters.
  • Diz gave me another one of those I heart NY shirts she knows I hate so much. She knows I just recycle them into the replicator, but she gets a giggle over watching my reaction to it, and she made a point to give it to me at karaoke. That said, her real gift was making sure I had fun on my birthday, and giving me an excuse to get away from Ma before she really sent me down in the dumps.
  • Sky talking to me again is the best gift she could give me, but after I'd admitted at breakfast after the cast party that I'd lost my sonic screwdriver, she came up with a new one for me. She got me the fourth doctor's version, though I don't think she knew enough to even know there were versions.
yum

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye.

Once I got eight hours of sleep in, putting me at about 1600, I got dressed as fast as I could, and made my way to visit Ma. Actually getting the chance to catch up with Sky and talk to her again made me forget that my window to visit Ma was getting smaller and smaller, the longer breakfast went and the later I was going to need to sleep,

Ma started in on me the moment she opened the door, and the more she went on, the more I lost any guilt I felt for needing to desert her so soon after my arrival. She interrogated me on what I'd been doing with myself, why I hadn't called, and basically tried to lay on the guilt trip thick for leaving her to freeze her (well padded) ass off in this tiny (but very nice) apartment, all alone (save for her three cats and two kick toys yappy dogs). When I told her that Sky and I had started talking again, she was very excited and started talking wedding bells. She didn't notice me roll my eyes, otherwise she likely would have smacked me for it.

When I noticed that I had an hour to make it from her apartment to the soho district, which was where the karaoke joint was, I started making my excuses to make for the door, hoping that I might make it away within a half hour if I worked quick and tried some of Dizi's techniques on for size. I managed to get out her door at the very time I was supposed to be at the karaoke place. Diz gave me no end of shit when I did finally make it. Record time, only twenty minutes by having to slide down the railing into the subway station, and jump the turnstyle to catch the train that had just reached the platform as I made the turnstyle.

Karaoke was crazy. When Sky and her brood of theater geeks had drug me when I was a teenager, they had mostly been using it as practice for shows they were trying to audition for, and I was perfectly content to sit back, select the booze for the group, and watch. Diz is insane, this is a well established fact, and she imbues this insanity upon the group she sings with. Then add in that Trish talked Sky into showing up, and Diz talked Sky into singing Klingon opera, and soon pretty much everyone in the know within Manhattan was trying to shove their way into this little bitty place.

Before I even knew Sky was coming, Diz managed to badger me into going up and making an ass of myself, singing a silly song called The Internet is for Porn. She had me singing the serious part, and she was singing the silly part. She had made arrangements for Trish and Toby to assist from the table for a couple of minor parts. Well, we reached those minor parts, and suddenly Sky's voice is singing at me for one of them. When we made it back to the table, Sky asked why I'd never sung for her before, she apparently liked my efforts. This made me feel like a heel and even more embarrassed that I had been before.

Noelle and the Lieutenant Commander had shown up too. They looked like they'd just come from a date, the way they were talking with each other. Trish and Toby started badgering the both of them to go up and sing from the moment they walked in. Diz seemed perfectly content to ignore the Lieutenant Commander from the start, though she was friendly with Noelle. When Trish and Toby's efforts got the Lieutenant Commander up on stage, the whole group was amazed as he did a pretty good Johnny Cash. Noelle looked like she'd practically swooned at it.

Noelle was finally badgered into going up, and she looked embarrassed and like she wanted to crawl under the table and die. The Lieutenant Commander seemed to like her performance, and everyone else was polite, giving encouraging remarks as she returned to the table. That point seemed to be when Diz got a bug up her ass, and started scheming. She did something that absolutely amazed me, having seen her spitting venom towards the Lieutenant Commander since she came onto the ship, she asked him to go up and sing a song with her! She had a band and song picked out before she even mentioned it, but the surprise on her face was clear when he actually knew the band in question, and seemed to agree with her about the lead singer or something like that.

The song went over well, and considering that Noelle and the Lieutenant Commander left together soon after that, to Diz smirking, whatever she had in mind occurred. That was probably only a couple hours after we'd got there, but we stayed until last call in the wee hours of the morning. I don't think I've seen Diz have that much fun without violence involved, ever. Sky and I talked a lot, between her getting pulled on stage by Diz, Trish and Toby. Toby really surprised me, he'd agree to do the weirdest songs with all three of the girls, and he and Diz would often flip genders about for the shits and giggles of it. Craziness.

The funniest song of the night was What Is This Feeling?, from a musical called Wicked. Trish had found it in the song library and she and her obnoxious blond curls started bouncing in her seat, begging someone to sing it with her. Diz jumped on it quickly, excited that she could be Elphie for once, apparently since her frequent karaoke partners were all male, and she'd get stuck with Galinda's higher part. That was when Sky and Toby piped up, volunteering for the chorus bits, and all heads around the table turned to me. I was bamboozled into joining the chorus, despite my protests that I should hold down the table since it was so crowded, which only got a laugh.

Trish and Diz made a production of it, they were singing with enthusiasm as they danced around the stage, pantomimed the lines they were singing... and I got drug onto the stage by Sky, her guiding me as to where I should be and what I should be doing as I sang along with her and Toby. Funny enough, these antics actually just about brought the house down almost as much as when Diz and Sky had sung the Klingon opera earlier in the evening. The evening ended with Toby singing the joint's namesake song when they made last call for the bar.

When we all parted ways, Trish walked Sky and I back to the hotel, and Sky joined me in my room. We sat up for another couple hours, talking and we ended up falling asleep on the couch together. The next morning, she insisted I needed to keep in touch and it was nice to get to see me again. She hugged me tight, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. When I apologized for my stupidity again, she giggled, kissed me on the lips and said she'd get over it, she just needed a little more time.

me!

Fancy gloves, though, wears Trish, babe, so there's never, never a trace of red.

Diz called me up about midday yesterday, tells me she picked up tickets for the Three Penny Opera, pretty swanky seats too, and explained that Toby was being a jerk and refusing to go with her. She asked if I wanted to go. I politely declined, so she offered booze, and I held out until she promised some really good Blood Wine. I'll have to wait on delivery, apparently it'll require coordinating with one of her brothers. No worries though, she's good about doing things she promises. At any rate, this gave me an excuse to continue to delay my appearance at my mother's apartment.

Despite the fact that the actor who was in the role of The Police Chief was one of Trish's numerous boyfriends/fucktoys/whatever she calls them this week, the show was actually really good. Granted, it was at The Met, and they don't typically stage shit.

Speaking of that obnoxious blond little brat, Trish managed to find Diz and I as we were on our way to the theater, and she ganged up on me with Diz to drag me to a cast party after the show. And to add insult to injury? Trish and Diz actually know each other! I didn't pry too much, but I believe their meeting dates from the days of Travis, as Trish apparently fucked Dizi's friend Blue. Small fucking quadrant.

Sky was at the party that Trish drug Diz and I to. Even though I had been trying to reopen communications, I really did understand why she was so mad at me. Hell, I'd hate me too after the shit I let Jenni talk me into. Amazingly enough, Trish and Diz provided just enough of a distraction as they conspired together to find trouble, that Sky actually started talking to me again. I'm ashamed to admit that I was stupid, I hid behind my alcohol a lot, and couldn't meet her eyes at first. It felt like deja vu to the time she followed me to Annie's after her crazy friends cornered me into some street improv.

Once she managed to drag me out of my shell, and I apologized probably a good three dozen times, we ended up talking through the rest of the party. People would occasionally interrupt to say hello to her, she'd be polite and outgoing as she always was, but she kept these intrusions short. We had a few years of catching up to do. While I'm pretty sure she hasn't forgiven me yet, I do know she's at least willing to talk to me again. I am glad for this.

We ended the night by catching a very early breakfast at Annie's when they opened at 0600, and she walked me back to the hotel I was staying in. I hope to run into her again before I have to report back into the Shingen tomorrow, but even if I don't, I am glad to have finally reopened communications. Now to get some sleep, so that I might actually be awake for this karaoke tourture that Diz intends to put me through... I think I heard her inviting Trish at one point last night, if she did, I am going to need to get absolutely trashed tonight.

face

Nothing to do.

I wish they'd given us more warning on the leave, but I suspect that the order came pretty last minute, I don't think even Indra knew this was coming more than a couple days out. At any rate, the hand off went well, and I'm free for leave. I'll make a point to drop in on Ma the day of Dizi's karaoke thing, which she's claiming is now for my birthday. Ha, like that woman needs an excuse to show off and make an ass of herself in front of a crowd. I think singing is about the only family friendly thing she can do that she enjoys, and even that sounds like it isn't so family friendly anyways. Some of the stories she told me of her karaoke singing during her academy days.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with my time for the next day and a half though. Likely will try for ticket lotto for something on Broadway tonight. Always seems a good way to kill time. I should go wander Central Park, haven't been through there in entirely too long. If I'm in a good mood, might drop in to see Ma early tomorrow night.

Saint Vidicon

I <3 NY my ass. Fucking tourists.

“Where have you been the last two days?” I demanded as Diziara sauntered into the mess. She didn't stop, or even say anything, as she peered at me. I'd taken the table right next to the door. She shook her head ever so slightly, and walked past me towards the replicator, so I grumbled as I collected a curly fry from my plate and lobbed it at her.

“Lucky for you,” she directed at me, catching the fry that was strangely on target for her head like I'd intended, “I was craving curly fries. Otherwise you would regret that.” She tossed the fry into her mouth as her fingers flew across the replicator controls. She pulled a plate filled with curly fries and a cheesesteak out of the replicator, then walked back over to the table I was sitting at.

Where have you been?” I demanded as she set her plate on the table. She turned her chair around before sitting down.

“Busy,” she returned, grinning wide before she took a large bite out of her cheesesteak.

“I figured,” I allowed, pausing as she smirked around her mouthful. “Doing what?”

“The more I learn about Commander Sevel, the more I like her,” she explained, punctuating the statement with one of her fries. I quietly considered this before I tilted my head, mocking her trademark inquiring look.

“She's the one who gave you that blank check for violence on that mission you drug me on, involving the flaming fat bastard, right?” She nodded. “What'd she do for you now?”

“She asked me to do something,” she corrected me, and I frowned.

“You know, it's hard to have a conversation with you when you play these games,” I grumbled, and she leaned across the table, causing me to raise an eyebrow.

“Rhiana, the Romulan exchange officer, is leaving,” she admitted quietly after a quick look around the mess. I can only assume she was looking for crew mates who might be able to overhear her.

“Already?” I hissed back at her, and she nodded. “What the hell did you people do to her?”

“I didn't do a damn thing.” She sounded somewhat offended, probably also annoyed, at my question. “She and the bastard almost got into a fight, a real blood spiller it looked like it should have been. She insisted she was waiting for him to make the first move, he insisted he was waiting for her, and it went nowhere fast.” She leaned back from the table a little with a small sigh, her left hand gripping the top of the chair back in front of her. “Usually such face offs turn into friendships, but something failed to fall in place... can't say I'm surprised with the bastard involved. At any rate, she didn't seem to think any of us were conducting ourselves as officers of the Federation should.”

“Well, I can understand her making that mistaken assumption with you,” I allowed, drawing a sharp look from Diziara. I was quick to offer my defense as she sat up straighter again. “Not that I hold such things against you, but you aren't exactly the poster child then hold up when explaining proper conduct of an officer. Why the hell do you think I hang around you so much?”

“Good to have finally solved that mystery,” she said with a hearty laugh. “The exact things you bitch about the most are what keeps you coming back for more.” I shook my head at her observation, and she smirked widely. “Must be a New Yorker thing, you people don't have your heads on straight.”

“Says the proud Lunatic,” I shot back, but couldn't help grinning as I did. “So, what were you up to for the last two days?”

“Getting my fighter craft certifications up to date.”

“What's that got to do with Rhi-” I started to ask, even as I realized what she was implying. I leaned forward, narrowing my gaze on her for managing to dangle this factoid under my nose for so long in our conversation without me catching on. “She was in charge of the fighter wing, wasn't she?” When she nodded, and I sat up again, shaking my head slowly. “Congrats.”

“Eh, I figure it's probably only temporary,” she dismissed, much more casually that I expected given my knowledge of how much she likes small agile spacecraft. “Despite my preference for smaller craft, the fleet seems to like to put me in charge of the helm of large ships. I was probably one of a small list of people on this ship with all the right craft ratings on my record, lapsed or not.” She finally allowed the toothy grin I'd been expecting, and I nodded at her. “I'll enjoy it while it lasts, though. It'll be nice to get some time in the fighters.”

“Got anything planned for leave?” I asked her after we'd eaten quietly for a few minutes. She shrugged at me.

“I'll probably find Toby, if he's on Earth right now, and I'm sure I'll get a karaoke fix in at some point. You should come along for that, it's fun.”

“I don't do that sort of thing,” I quickly insisted, turning my attention down to my plate. She clicked her tongue at me, and I made a point to ignore it.

“You used to date an opera diva.”

“She wasn't a diva at the time.”

“But someone like that doesn't usually go from lacking interest in music to being a star overnight. She had to drag you out for karaoke at least once.” I looked up at Diziara's insistence, and she wasn't harsh in the look she was directing at me, like I had expected. Her head was tilted to one side, something I'm still not even sure she realizes she does, and she seemed genuinely curious and surprised by reaction to her questioning.

“She tried,” I admitted with a sigh. “I just sat and drank, while she and her friends sang.”

“I'll have to see what I can do to fix that,” she insisted, and thus returned the lunatic I'd become so used to over the years. I suspected I was going to regret my admission, but I couldn't waste time thinking about it, the damage was done. “My favorite karaoke place has a sister location in that damned city of yours, and I've been meaning to check it out. Also, I need an opera fix. I'll have to check in with The Met, see what they have available in their cancellations while we're on Earth.” I stared blankly at her at the mention of opera and the Metropolitan Opera House, and her head tilted again. “What?”

“You like opera?” I asked her quietly.

”You didn't know? I knew who the hell your old girlfriend was, and she's known for being an amazing Opera Diva...”

“She's also known for her Klingon flavored Shakespeare. I thought that was where you recognized Sky from... that's all you'd mentioned.”

“What's the big deal?”

“I've just never heard you speak favorably of anything located within New York.” When all she did was giggle over this, I elected to let the subject lie.

“Are they giving you leave?” she finally asked me, and I looked at her a moment, considering the expression on her face.

“Most of what we're in for is being done by the crews at the shipyards, but I do have to pull a shift to start and end leave, to help turn the ship over to the shipyard crews, and to clean up their mess when they're done.” She snorted at this, and I narrowed my eyes at her. “I've managed to dodge Ma the last few times I've been on Earth, I should probably actually check in on her while we're here.”

“Your non-birthday is going to land in the middle of leave, isn't it?” Her question caught me flat footed, I actually wasn't sure what day it was at first, then the math flipped through my head.

“Oh, yeah. Ma'll probably be ecstatic I'm planet-side on my non-birthday for once... unless you want to save me and make some plans first?” I sat up, smiling as hopefully as I could. She giggled.

“Karaoke. We'll hit Fly Me to the Moon on your non-birthday. Sound good?”

“I suppose it's better than one of Ma's home cooked meals and catholic preaching.” I sighed, and she grinned widely.

“I'll even be a sweetheart, and not wear my I heart New York shirt for it,” she teased, provoking a growl. Topics drifted to small talk, a holodeck program she's working on, interrogating me on the upgrades we were putting into the shipyards for, and the ranged cattleprod the Lieutenant Commander and I had worked on together. She picked my brain in particular about the upgrades to the universal translators and communications systems, as Svetlana's New Siberian language seems to render nothing but static through the universal translators, so she was curious if these upgrades would make any difference to that. I had to honestly admit I didn't know if they would make a difference or not.

goggles &amp; hammer

Electrifying Lightning Slinger

Diz and I will always end up at the same table when we take our meal breaks at the same time. Where we sit is usually dictated by which one of us arrives first. I'd gotten caught up chasing a phantom phase imbalance, so she'd made it first today. We were at the far end of the mess, one of the corners under the window, her back to the bulkhead so she could keep an eye out the window and on the rest of the mess. Noelle had been sitting with her when I'd arrived and the two were having small conversation about nothing that I could tell was important.

When there was a sudden shift in the ambient mood of the mess, I looked around to spot the cause of it. Dizi's face was twisted into a scowl, and she sat up straighter, so I wasn't surprised to find Lieutenant Commander th'Shan standing at the door of the mess when I followed her piercing gaze. Noelle looked up at the same time, and there was a smile on her face. Diz turned her attention to her burger when the Lieutenant Commander started towards our table.

"If you'll excuse me, I just remembered I had an appointment to see Enzo in the weapon's locker. We had unfinished business from last night," Diziara said, standing up as she shot a look at our fresh table mate. I frowned, noticing that she'd only taken a bite or two of her burger, and her root beer still had its virgin head happily bubbling at the top of the glass. She was gone before I could protest, and I suspected she was lying about having planned her romp with Enzo previously, as I doubt she would have even shown up in the mess if sex was on the menu for lunch.

Across the table, the Lieutenant Commander very awkwardly tried to engage in conversation with Noelle. He jumped right to the point, and she seemed both amused and put out that he'd skipped all the small talk to start the conversation. I listened and worked on my sandwich, staying out of the way. It wasn't long when Noelle gave up on encouraging a more human approach to the conversation, and instead deflected his attention towards me. Not that I minded, Diz had mentioned the ranged cattle prod idea to me yesterday, and that was what he was attempting to engage Noelle's interest in when he'd joined us at the table.

We went back and forth a minute, before Noelle finally excused herself to go trade chatter with that gossip queen friend of hers. After a short detour into the topic of Noelle's conversation tactics, we got to the heart of the matter. I started throwing equations and engineering principles at him, and he started throwing back trench based modifications and experience with special ops type goodies. Then he confessed to have a weapon he was willing to let be modified into a prototype and invited me back to his quarters to take a look.

When faced with a choice between a replication of a poorly prepared Rubin sandwich, couldn't hold a candle to the deli around the corner from Ma's apartment, and the chance to tinker with new tech, particularly weaponry which often has the most advanced tech behind it, there really was no choice. The sandwich was recycled into the replicator on my way out of the mess on the Lieutenant Commander's heels. He did puzzle me by not clearing his stuff from the table when we left, but I didn't see the point asking about it when there were exciting new things to create.

As we walked towards his quarters, talking about details involved in this weapon we were going to create, I ended up getting ahead of him significantly. I didn't even notice until he said something, and when I looked back, he was rubbing at his leg that'd taken part of the damage when we were on Andor. I tried to slow my pace quite a bit after that, but my longer stride and the first two decades of my life in a city that almost never sleeps caused me to keep getting ahead of him. At least I kept catching it before he fell too far behind the rest of the walk.

When we reached his quarters, I ended up committing to making him the starfleet equivalent of the gargoyles on the clan keeps on his homeworld that sample their blue blood and decide who to let in based upon dna. All it takes is a joke about someone's paranoia to get into that sort of commitment. He had easily a dozen security precautions on his door, and none of them actually worth anything but peace of mind, so I quipped about what I felt was yet another equally pointless piece of security fluff. He didn't catch that I was being silly, but building the thing will give me something to do.

There wasn't much to look at in his quarters, and he showed me the shell that would become our new toy, an old antique earth pistol. Now it had been modified so that I could easily enough put the inner workings of our new energy weapon inside it. I considered this, even suggested putting a tesla coil on the front to serve as the conductor of the electricity involved. There are probably better options for this task, newer designs that would take up less space, but the tesla coil has always had an aesthetic feel that intimidated the hell out of those who aren't tech lovers.

When he led me into his bedroom, to collect the tools he had, I made a passing glance at the weapons on display, a sizable collection that I had only seen rivaled by Diziara's, and his cabinet of liquor. The inventory looked impressive from the glance I made, and I made a mental note to try to get a better look later just to see what treats he might have.

His tools were simple, but serviceable... what'd you'd expect from a higher ranking security officer who had at least a mild interest in creating and improving the tools of his trade. There wasn't much in the way of scavengable parts though, so our options were limited at this point. As I noticed that our time grew short on our lunch breaks, I suggested that we regroup after our shifts finished for the day, and we'd this time meet in my quarters. When he grunted his agreement, we parted ways and I headed back down to engineering to see if I could chase down that elusive phase imbalance that had made me late to lunch to start with.

beer!

Party Planning.

So I found Adrijana and asked her help to organize the surprise party. She suggested taking advantage of her gossip network, and just getting a whole bunch of random people to show up at the holodeck for the party. Then all I had to do was find out if Diz was going to show or not, and if not, find some excuse to drag her there.

I'm trying to pick which holoprogram I should use for the party. I've got access to some beach resort programs, a couple of good ones of Luna without all the population clutter, and probably easily a hundred or more from movies and books. I may just have to pick one at random, or sneak through her collection to see what gets the most use recently.

I'll probably have to show up an hour early to dig out the alcohol collection from within my pocket, but Diz will appreciate the effort.