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JL | RAdm Cintia Sha'mer & Lt. Evan Merlin

Posted on 241711.05 @ 11:23am by Rear Admiral Cintia Sha'mer

Mission: Reconciliation & Reconstruction [Fleet Plot]
Location: Cold Station Theta
Timeline: SD 241711.05

Cold Station Theta was enormous, a curious mix of old and new, and it was strange. But when all was said and done, it was just another a space station. Sha'mer had lived on one long enough to quickly find the elements all stations had in common, so it wasn't long before she felt more or less at home. So her guest quarters here were small and anonymous. She could've arranged for larger quarters, if only by leaking her name, rank and purpose of visit to the right persons, but she hadn't bothered. Anonymity suited her just fine.

Via her commlink, she checked in with the Star several times a day, to listen if there was any word regarding the USS Endeavour or the Vindicator. Last thing she heard was shortly after she arrived: the Endeavour had passed the station half a day before she got here and had coursed on towards the nebula. Since then, the only thing she'd heard was an occasional "Report from Endeavour: Nothing to report."

Now it was evening, station time, and Sha'mer wandered around. As usual, she was too restless to just sit in her quarters and wait. At this time of the day she tended to avoid the public areas though. There were quite a lot of people on the station at the moment and though the place was usually big enough to swallow them, it seemed that in the evening every single one of them wanted to be on or near the promenade or the other public areas, to see or to be seen.

Sha'mer relished neither, and she hated crowds. So she stuck to the quieter places. Not the arboretum. Though it was an impressive place and had its own ecosystem and weather system, a veritable highlight of engineering and botanics and ecologics and hydroponics, around this time most of the romantic walkways were clogged with equally romantic couples, and wandering away from the paths was not a pleasant option with crutches and one functional leg.

So she found herself in what could loosely be termed the back alleys of the station. In the public area, but away from the fancy promenade and observation decks, the smaller corridors used almost exclusively by personnel working in the nearby shops, bars and restaurants, the incidental trader and a few lost wanderers. Later at night, this would become the domain of more shady and colourful entrepeneurs, right until the moment that Security had enough of it and swept the area clean.

Her alert mind warned her just in time that another person was quickly approaching the corner near which Sha'mer found herself. She stopped and moved to the side to avoid a collision. Somewhat to her surprise, she noticed the other slowing down just before he rounded the corner. She looked up as a man, tall and gangly, with a wild mop of hair popped into view. He was the first person in a Starfleet uniform Sha'mer had encountered in this area, another thing about him which stood out. He grinned down at her. "Don't worry, I wasn't going to run you down. I heard you coming."

Sha'mer blinked. The man looked human but wasn't. And as he looked back at her, she knew that he knew she wasn't either. To stop herself from blurting out such obvious facts, she just gave a nod instead and said: "That's good to know."

The man, apparently, had no such inhibitions. He broke into a wide grin. "I don't think I've met anyone like you before!" he cried.

"I could say the same about you," Sha'mer countered blandly.

The man's face fell. "Ahh, that's a pity. It would've been a lot more interesting if you had encountered someone like me before. Are you sure?"

"Quite sure," Sha'mer replied. "I would have recognised a mind like yours."

"Really?" The man focused on her with the full intensity of his sea-coloured eyes. Sha'mer raised an eyebrow. Despite herself, she was getting intrigued. "Do tell me," he said insistently.

Sha'mer smirked. "Not here, if you don't mind."

The man grinned again. "No, of course, you're completely right! Have you had dinner yet?"

"Going straight to a dinner invitation?" Sha'mer couldn't help but answer his wide grin with a smile of her own. "Bold."

"Which gets favoured by fortune, as the saying goes," the man replied. "I take it that means you did not have dinner yet. Do you have any preferences?"

Sha'mer raised her eyebrow again. "Aren't you on duty, Lieutenant?"

"Nope," the man said cheerfully and pointed at his wild curls. "Just didn't bother to change yet. But you can tell by my hair. It seems to know the second it's officially ended. Whatever I use to hold it back just snaps or slips out and my hair just goes 'poof'. It's weird, but then again, I hear that a lot." He gave a casual wave with his hand as if to dismiss his own words.

"I wonder why…" Sha'mer muttered. "So… before I accept your invitation, do you have a name?"

"Oh, I have lots," the man said in that same cheerful tone. "For Starfleet I've decided to stuck with Evan Merlin for now. I guess they're getting tired of having to change it every few years. But I respond to lots of other names, too."

"Right, 'Lots of other names'," Sha'mer fought the urge to rub her forehead. "No particular preference, as long as it's a relatively quiet place."
The man smiled as if the pained expression on her face was one he often saw on people who talked with him – which probably was true, Sha'mer thought. "Ooh, a challenge at this time of the evening."

Sha'mer gave an awkward shrug. "That's why I said 'relatively quiet'."

"The Starfleet mess hall wouldn't do, I suppose?" he waved his hand again. "Nah, bad idea. But I think I have something. Come, follow me." He began to walk, stopped again, turned back. "I haven't asked your name yet, have I? Not a polite thing to do. I know, I always forget things like that."

"No, you don't. You know exactly what you're doing," Sha'mer said, hiding a smile, and began to move herself. "My name's Sha'mer."

This time it was the man who raised an eyebrow. "I look forward to making your acquaintance, lady Sha'mer."

Not much later they were sitting in a quiet corner of a Bolian restaurant. The lieutenant had simply lead them to the back door and knocked, exchanged a few words with the owner. She agreed to let them in from the back and lead them through corridor into the quieter backroom of the restaurant. Sha'mer settled gratefully (though far from gracefully) into a corner and leaned back. In hindsight, maybe that long walk had been overdoing it a bit.

The lieutenant with the wild hair was polite enough to wait until she had settled down a bit and until the drinks were served. The lieutenant stuck to Bolian tonic water, probably in deference to the fact that he was still in uniform. Sha'mer, who was for once free of those restrictions (she didn't readily admit it, but yes, there were good sides to LOA's), ordered an Andorian ale.

Roughly around that point the lieutenant could no longer contain his curiousity. "So, please, tell me… what are you?"

Sha'mer raised an eyebrow. "That's usually not the first question I get asked."

"Huh, I suppose not," the man said. "I guess those are more along the lines of, 'Whoo, what's with that creepy thing on your leg?!'" The last words were said in a high-pitched voice and a comically-shocked expression on his face.

"Something along those lines, yes," Sha'mer said, debating with herself whether to snort or laugh. "It's clear that you are, at least, refreshingly direct."

The man smiled. "And you are very polite. Others just call me very blunt. I'm not too good at niceties, never really did manage small talk. Lots of talk, on the other hand, is no problem. It's getting me to quit talking that's tricky."

"Yeah," Sha'mer said with a slight sigh. "I can tell." Actually, though, she didn't mind too hard. She wasn't good at small talk either. Other than business, she wasn't good at talking, period. So the more the other man talked, the less she needed to say. So she leaned back and sipped her drink.

But now he was staring at her, attentively, awaiting the answer to his question. Sha'mer gave an inward shrug. It was all in her file anyway, these days, so why bother to hide it? Still the secrecy had been a part of her so long that she did hesitate a moment longer. Finally, she said: "I'm Vo'Sh'un. Originally from deep in the Delta Quadrant. Ended up here and decided to settle. And you? You seemed disappointed that I had never encountered a mind like yours before."

The man shrugged. "I don't know anything about myself," he began, and told her the story about how he came to Cold Station Theta, thirteen years ago. He was interrupted only once, when a young Bolian waitress appeared and asked what they would like to eat. Sha'mer ordered an exotic dish, some kind of fusion between Bolian, Andorian and Rigellian food. To her surprise the lieutenant's order was simply: "The same as my companion, please."

"It sounds interesting," he answered in reply to Sha'mers questioning look. "And it's something I do a lot when I get the chance to share a meal with someone. They usually order something I'd never heard of. Though I admit, with the influx of new restaurants and bars here on CST it's become quite a challenge to sample everything. Good thing I'm stationed here."

"So what is it you do on this station?" Sha'mer asked.

"I'm the Chief StratOps. Um, that is 'Strategic Operations' for non-Fleeties." The lieutenant launched into a long explanation, to which Sha'mer listened with amused fascination. Inwardly she smiled, both at his enthusiasm and at his assumptions.

It was a pleasant conversation and a nice dinner, all the more so since Sha'mer rarely had casual conversations with people. The man was amazingly easy to talk with.

But the dinner, like all good things, came to an end, and though it was tempting to linger Sha'mer found that she was really tired. "Maybe another time," she said at his suggestion to go somewhere for a drink. She had the feeling he wasn't trying to come on to her, the young man (although, young? Sometimes he seemed far older than he appeared, at other times far younger than he ought to be, as if time itself didn't quite know how to deal with him) had been nothing but gallant and polite. "Possibly a tour of the station, then?"

That had been the right thing to say. The sea-coloured eyes under the mop of wild hair lit up. "Gladly!" he cried. "Shall I let you know when I have time?"

"Please do." Sha'mer began to rise, balancing awkwardly until she propped the crutches back in place.

"It's quieter on the promenade now, so I think we'd better go that way instead of through the back," the lieutenant advised. "I'll escort you to the lift if you like."

Sha'mer gave a slight nod. "Appreciated. Thank you." She followed him out and found to her relief that he had been right. It was still lively, but the promenade deck was at least manageable now.

So maybe she was not as attentive as she could have been, stifling a yawn and with pleasant visions of her bed just hovering out of reach. Then again, even if she had been more clear-headed and alert, the outcome would most likely have been the same. For by the time she noticed the small pack of kids playing a version of 'tag' on the promenade, running and swerving between the people walking about, one of the kids who came up from behind her had already begun to dodge around her. They hadn't taken into account that there was a crutch in the way, so the kid slammed into it and kept going, only yelling a "Sorry!" as he-or-she vanished around a corner. Sha'mer had just enough time to think wearily: Figures… before she hit the ground.

An all to familiar white-hot bolt of pain erupted and she closed her eyes, tiredly. She heard the lieutenant's voice, asking her if she was alright. It seemed to come from far away. "Gimme a minute," she mumbled, "and I will be."

"Would you like me to call a doctor? Or shall I take you to sickbay?"

She shook her head and began to sit up. "Don't bother." Either one of the old fractures had given way again or it was just a sprain. Either way, there was little to be done about it. The leg was already encased in a brace and she couldn't use it anyway, so it wasn't even relevant whether there was an actual fracture or not. It hurt like hell either way. "But if you could arrange a side-to-side to my quarters, I'd be grateful."

The man looked crestfallen. "I'm sorry, side-to-sides are still out. I can arrange for a hoverchair if y-"

"No." Quietly but very empathic.

The lieutenant rubbed his forehead as he stared down. "Okay, nix the chair. I suppose I could-"

"Just help me up, and please, tell me the elevator is nearby."

"Just around the corner." He retrieved the fallen crutch and helped her up, supporting her until she managed some kind of balance of her own.

"Thank you, lieutenant," she said hoarsely and took the first tentative hop. Oh yes. Time to reconsider that 'no painkiller' policy. Unfortunately, she didn't have any with her. So either she'd have to go all the way down to her ship, using a turbolift that rattled and shook and felt like it could give way at any moment – not something she looked forward to – or… yeah. She looked up at the man and said through gritted teeth: "Never mind that… Please get me to sickbay."

The man nodded as he helped her to the turbolift. "Okay, sickbay it is."


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