DS9/P0 - Promenade
#1
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#2
Infirmaries never spelled like anything other than strong antiseptic and cleaning agents. Even though modern medicine had clearly made massive advances the smell seemed to never change. When she had grown up in Korea it was a universal scent. As the doors to the infirmary opened while Ju supported as much of Tera’s weight as possible since the drunken girl was in and out of consciousness the entire way from the bar, the wave of clean hit her nostrils with a slight burn. Quickly, a nurse came to help Ju with the weight of the young Science officer. Damian had offered to help but Ju figured that she could get her in here alone there was no reason to drag his name through the mud with the middies. She wondered if he was the reason that she had met the Captain on such horrible terms or if it was the resounding thud of Tera’s head on the table.

“What happened to her?” the nurse asked as she and Ju helped get her to a waiting bio bed.

“She had one drink,” Ju said with a bit of a sigh rolling her shoulders to get rid of the cramp which had developed.

“Just one?” the nurse said looking up as the biobed began it’s scan.

“Yes.”

“The doctor will be here soon, we will get her sorted out. Unfortunately, we don’t have room for you to wait around, we can notify you when she’s all set,” the nurse responded taking Ju’s information. Tera was currently passed out and snoring heavily on the table. Such a small body with such loud noises.

Ju gave Tera’s a hand a squeeze, but the girl didn’t seem to notice or feel it before Ju turned away and headed back for the main doors. At least I didn’t get puked on. Outside, once the doors cut off the horrible stench of Infirmary, the fresh air felt nice. It wasn’t really fresh but in her head it felt fresh and that was just as good. Sometimes she missed Earth, the way that a good breeze could brush across your face on a hot day and make you feel so much more refreshed.

Dark eyes shifted at the passing crowds in front of her she noticed the silhouette of Commander McDreamy standing just off to the side. A bit of a smirk toyed on the left side of her lip as she walked over to him, putting her hands in the pockets of her joggers, still splotched with paint. I must be such a sight, she thought as she walked over to him. But, it wasn’t anything different than he had seen in the craft shop where he had run into them for starters.

“They’re going to take care of her. No room for us to hang in there though, so the nurse said she would contact my PADD when she was ready to go.” Ju shrugged her shoulders looking over at Damian for a moment, wondering if he was regretting getting caught drinking with two middies. Ju’s hand shifted in her pocket looking for the sweets she usually kept there only to remember, “Shoot I left the gummy bears back at Quarks.”

“Oh well,” her eyes returned to Damian. “Sorry you got embroiled in our drinking game. Also, that you got caught where it looked like she had way more booze than she did. I’m going to have to make sure they add that to her information because.. that’s kinda scary. I’ve never met such a light weight in my whole life. But, back home, drinking is like a rite of passage and it’s frowned upon to be horrible at it, so.. you get alcohol tolerance pretty young.”

Ju smirked and looked over at Damian. “Heading out?” she asked, curious what his next plans were for the evening. “I’ll probably walk around a bit until I get the all clear about Tera. I don’t want her to feel abandoned, she doesn’t know anyone else.”

<<Quark's Bar<<
==Tag Damian. Tera used with writer's permission.==
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#3
<< Quark’s <<

Never had Coleman ever seen anything of the like when it came to the alcoholic deficiencies of one Amaterasu Ichika. As they moved the Princess of Glitter through the Promenade, Damian could only wonder if the sparkly stuff she had consumed impacted her ability to hold her liquor. When they had started to close in on the Infirmary, Damian had offered to help Tera inside, but Ju had been particularly adamant that she take Tera alone. He had easily relented. Not because he didn’t want to be involved, but because he trusted that Ju had things well in hand.

There was a quiet sigh that escaped him once he saw the pair actually enter the Infirmary. Knowing himself, there would be a point in the future where the events of the day would be funny, but in that moment he was only concerned for Tera. Which was an unfortunate but welcomed distraction from Coleman’s other thoughts. Everything that had happened in his previous mission weighed heavily in his day-to-day. With every statement, reply, or report, the gravity of it all only seemed to increase. Command was not easy. Nor did he ever expect that it would be. As a department head, he’d seen just how deep things got. Though whatever Damian had thought he’d seen was just the continental shelf. Things dropped off even more when thrust into the big seat. Even with Silran’s mentorship during and after the mission, Coleman still found himself questioning if he’d done things right. Damian knew the answer to that already; what was done was done, and deliberating whether it was right or wrong in the moment would do nothing to help. He just had to accept the decisions he had made by looking at them dispassionately to see if they worked or didn’t. Only then could he better himself for the next time.

“They’re going to take care of her…” the sweet, gentle voice carried in the air, and snatched Damian’s attention back into the moment.

Nodding as he listened, Damian couldn’t help but catch the shrug from Ju's shoulders. Part of him wished he could hear her thoughts for a moment, but mentally shook that feeling off. Instead he focused on her body language and expressions, getting a vibe from her that she was worried or concerned. Though he had to laugh when she mentioned the gummy bears were left behind. It wouldn’t be a night he’d quickly forget.

“Oh well,” she spoke again before he could respond.

As she apologized, Damian shook his head and held up his hand in a manner meant to assuage Ju of her guilt. Though he did agree that Medical definitely needed to add information to Tera’s official records. Perhaps there could be tests that could be run to see if it was genetic. Or if it was a reaction with the glitter. Either way, neither Ju nor Damian could have known she’d react in such a way.

“We did the right thing by getting her here, as quickly as we did,” he interrupted for a moment, “we couldn’t have known she’d react like that.”

As Ju continued, Damian’s eyebrow rose up along with the corner of his mouth, upon hearing about her alcohol tolerance. Then he caught her smirk, and knew immediately what her intention had been back at the bar.

I absolutely was about to get sharked, he smickered at her, and then let out an inaudible snort of air through his nose.

For someone that looked as innocent as Ju did, with her happy tone, fast smile, and inviting warm eyes, she certainly had a more devious side to her. That was something Damian could appreciate. He had some thought about being wary though, as he wasn’t a junior officer anymore. And there’d be plenty of talk on both the Philly and Arty after the night they’d already had. Though there was nothing that said he couldn’t be friendly. And while the rumor mill would probably take off, it’d likely focus on Tera and her inability to suffer any amount of alcohol.

Or so I hope...

“Heading out?” she asked, before stating her intention to wait around for Tera.

“Nah, figure I’ll keep you company while you wait. I appreciate that you are looking after Tera the way you are. Plus anyone that was planning to shark me at a drinking game is someone I’ve gotta get to know better,” his grin was still spread broadly across his features.

Gesturing with his head to move on from their spot, he started walking with her along the Promenade. They didn’t need to go too far, but he wanted to spend more time just chatting with Ju. There was a curiosity, and something else, that stirred within his brain. And the only way he would sate those thoughts would be to get to know Ju better.

“So, back home. Korea right? Or do I assume too much by the order of soju?”

He looked over to her, catching her eyes for a moment, before he got distracted by some glitter on her joggers. Quickly though, he returned his eyes back up to hers, while still keeping wary about where they were walking,

“I ain’t ever been, that I can recall. Didn’t realize that drinking was so entrenched in the culture there. I mean, there is plenty of that at the Academy anyway. You must have been pretty popular at parties for your ability to drink others under the table?” his brows raised up, while his tone remained playful; the question a teasing conviction of her prior intentions.

“Nah, I get the feeling you were pretty popular regardless of your drinking abilities,” there was a gentle sigh after his statement, as though affirming it as truth.

Ju seemed the type to him, to make easy friendships with her disposition and demeanor. The proof had already been delivered; accepting of a total stranger on a space station, guiding him to the bar, and then proceeding to drink with him. Warm and inviting, she gave off an air of being a capable host and friend.

“Don’t suppose you’d trade me two truths and a lie? Give my inner security officer something to chew on as we walk?” his brows waggled and he chuckled.

== tag! ==
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#4
Bajor had been fun, but Mara had also been genuinely excited by the prospect of a night in her own comfortable bed on board Artemis. Suitably rested, the Amazonian Security officer had eventually conceded to herself that she should at least have a look around what Deep Space 9 had to offer. Whatever she thought of Cardassians - and right now that really wasn’t much at all - this was still a legendary station.

I’d regret it if I jus’ sat on board Artemis an’ looked at it. It’s DS9! I’m not sure there’s a bigger ‘f*ck you’ to Cardassia out there.

A combination of the groundwork laid by Aeryn Miller and Calleja’s own epiphanies on Mount Kola had resulted in the shirt dress that Mara was wearing now. She had decided that she wanted to move past tying her identity to being an ex gang rat and this was how she was going to start.

The dress itself was in a pastel olive green colour that complemented her bronzed skin tone, with a wide v-neck and demi-sleeves. It hung low on the right side, skimming the top of her hazelnut leather boots, and was slit to mid-thigh on the left. A belt in the same brown as her boots brought it all together and helped it flare across her hips. The outfit didn’t hide her powerful physique - there was no disguising that much muscle - but it did make her look much more feminine than she was used to.

Mara’s first stop had been a hair stylist. After some thought and a few holographic projections, she’d had the left side of her head shaved back to stubble and left the rest long. The stylist had worked her hair into clever flowing layers that the Security officer was never going to be able to replicate on board ship, but she had been given a PADD with a few options on.

Word of mouth had led Calleja to a tattooist with a glowing reputation and after a long chat, she’d left with a few designs to look over. She’d long loved dia de los muertos artwork and the artist had given her plenty of ideas.

Never thought I’d be the makeover kind o’ girl Mara thought. But here I am, I guess. Never thought I’d wind up a Lieutenant in Star Fleet either. Don’t think I’ve ever felt this far from Bandar City. Although I’m pretty sure that’s a good thing.

She’d found a coffee stand that did proper authentic raktajino, and with a steaming mug in hand had settled herself down on a bench to look through potential tattoos on the PADD.

== Open tag if anyone wants to chat! ==
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#5
Eun Ju was surprised that he didn’t take the opportunity to head out when he could. Instead, stating that he would hang out with her while she waited to see how Tera fared after they got her sorted out. Telling her that he appreciated her looking after someone like that. Ju gave a smile and a small shrug mostly because she didn’t know what else to say. Tera and she just kind of clicked when they were in the crafting shop and Damian had somehow gotten mixed up with them. Though, she was kind of glad, not only was he a gorgeous specimen but he also seemed like a pretty stand up guy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since he was a First Officer, and you didn’t generally make those if you were a raging bastard. At least, she hoped not.

He also mentioned how if someone was actually willing to shark him in a drinking game he needed to get to know them better. Ju let out a loud carefree laugh, her entire face lighting up with it for a moment. “Well, you might have still beat me, I don’t know your tolerance,” Ju admitted to him with a playful smirk on her face answering his own.

Commander Yummy motioned for her to lead the way so Ju turned to stand beside him as the pair made their way at a leisurely pace in the forward direction. Ju’s eyes weren’t stuck on the man, hot as he was, instead she was taking in all the surroundings, reflecting back in her dark eyes as they walked together. He brought up Korea, but then wondered if he had only made an assumption due to her order of soju. “You’re right, I was born on a Starship, my mother and father are Fleeters. I was raised on Earth in Korea by my Halmoni, that’s Korean for grandmother, by the way,” she grinned at him. “You’ll learn a few things if you stick with me.” Ju said the last line with a lot more confidence than she felt but the warm and open smile on her face was inviting him to get to know her better regardless.

“You should definitely visit Korea if you ever get the chance, drinking is not the only part of our culture. There are still temples from the Joseon area standing today that are like museums of times past. On holidays we wear Hanbok, it’s like a kimono but .. Korean,” she chuckled. Eun Ju missed Korea, part of that was evident in her voice as she spoke of her homeland and things about it she thought he might like to know. Or perhaps it was just her way with coping with mild homesickness.

He mentioned how she must have been popular at drinking games at the Academy. “You’d think so, but only at first because they see this petite Asian girl and they think, oh I can drink her under the table. Once they figured out that wasn’t easy, they stopped coming for me. I still went from time to time, but my Halmoni drilled into me that my work was more important than anything else. There is plenty of time to have fun later, school first, and I didn’t want to let her down.”

Commander Yummy mentioned that she was probably popular regardless causing a bit of a chuckle to come out of the happy go lucky girl. “Maybe. I don’t know if you ever really know if you’re popular or not. I had friends, I went to parties, but I also studied a lot and am really looking forward to making friends in the future. On my ship, off my ship, I don’t do well alone, I guess. I’ve never had to.. maybe that’s weird,” she shrugged. Am I talking too much? she wondered curiously, but it was too late to take any of it back now she had already spewed it all. “I think I talk too much.” She laughed at herself brushing some of her bangs behind her ear to keep them out of her eyes.

Ju looked up and over at him as he told her that he wanted her to keep his brain busy and give him two truths and one lie to sus out. “Oh a game!” Ju’s eyes lit up again as she clasped her hands in front of her with excitement as she thought about the three things she wanted to say to him. “I shouldn’t have talked so much, this would be much easier.”

They walked for a minute together while she puzzled through what she wanted to say. “I speak three languages fluently. I am an third degree black belt in taekwondo. I have a dog I would like to bring with me on the ship.” With that being said, she was curious how he was going to puzzle it all out and she was excited to see if he would figure out which was the lie.


==Tag Coleman==
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#6
The laugh that had come out of Ju was surprising in how spontaneous it was, but also in its quality too. There hadn’t been much laughing after the last Artemis mission. In fact it had been in turns incredibly somber, and then also the most heated trip back to base that Coleman had had since his time on the Atlanta. So hearing her laugh, and seeing the way it lit up her face with the smile reaching all the way into her eyes, reinvigorated some of Damian’s spirit.

“Well, you might have still beat me, I don’t know your tolerance.”

She was right of course. Without thinking much on it, Coleman really wasn’t sure exactly how much he drank on the regular. Though the Artemis was practically a still with nacelles. A majority aboard her drank with some regularity, and some more than just regularly. A few names immediately came to his mind, though some of them were making strides to curtail their crutch on the stuff.

Focusing on Ju as she spoke, Coleman listened intently about her upbringing. At first, he thought that they would share a common bond; being stuck in space as they grew up. Though it seemed her parents had understood the rigors that would have come with being stuck on a starship. That, or they were on a smaller ship that didn’t cater to families. Either way, it sounded like she spent her more formative years in Korea, with her halmoni. When she smiled at him, he warmly smiled back.

Their back and forth was playful, and many of Ju’s responses sounded humble. Perhaps because she hadn’t been as social as Damian had first considered. Her grandmother, her halmoni, had been pretty strict in terms of instilling a work ethic into Ju. And so, Coleman had to concede that perhaps she hadn’t been as much of a partier as he had thought. That, or she simply ensured that her partying time was quality over quantity.

The smarter move. At least in Security, there was far less studying, so partying was easier that way. The downside was the early morning PT drills after a night of heavy drinking…

“I think I talk too much,” she laughed and seemed to make a self-comforting gesture by getting her hair out of her eyes.

“All the better for me,” Damian joked in return, “in my previous department, getting people to talk was part of the job.”

As he asked her for a bit of a game, something that would let them get to know each other better, Ju’s eyes caught the overhead lights and seemed to sparkle. That made Coleman smile, and for a moment, he got a bit self-conscious himself. Kind of like Ju’s worry that she talked too much, he wondered if he was smiling like a big idiot too often? It was only a moment though, as he pushed aside that little hangup. If he wanted to smile freely, he would. It was nice. It was fun.

“I shouldn’t have talked so much, this would be much easier.”

“You haven’t said anything too self-incriminating yet,” his smile formed into more of a smirk now.

There was a bit of silence between them as they walked, with Ju carefully crafting her answers. People often thought that the lie was the hardest thing to craft in such games. In actuality, it was different for everyone. Truths were easy to come up with, but sometimes they were too specific and obvious. That meant, if you were playing the game to win, you had to blur the lines a little. Lies were easy to conjure for some too, but some people made them too outlandish. The best lies, he found, always were variations on the truth. Damian had played the game many times with all sorts of people; good liars, good storytellers, those with incredible poker faces, and some who outright just didn’t have a bone in their body that could tell a fib.

Watching over Ju as she formulated her responses, he guided her gently with his own movements, being sure to stop her from running into anyone or anything. Though as they continued down the Promenade, the amount of other people walking about dwindled. It was then that he could use his attention to window shop some of the stalls and shops. There was a moment though, that he could hear Ju change the way she was breathing, and he focused intently on her then; watching her face as she spoke, listened to how she said the words, and what expressions happened as Ju gave her answers.

Having a dog wasn’t uncommon, but it also wasn’t something people usually lied about. Plus the specificity of Ju wanting to bring the pet aboard the ship made it seem even more true. And finally, there was uncertainty about whether she’d be allowed, something else that most people wouldn’t add to their lies.

“The last part, about your dog, that sounds like a truth,” he said quickly.

The other two were much harder to know for sure. It was easy to see that she could know three languages fluently; almost certainly she knew Korean and English, and so a third one wouldn’t be a stretch. However, it was equally likely that she was a martial artist, particularly in taekwondo.

“I could see you doing martial arts,” he aired his thoughts, letting his mental processes regurgitate the information, “and being good at taekwondo. But I could also understand you knowing three languages as well, as I’m already pretty sure you are fluent in Korean and English.”

He paused his speech for a moment while his legs continued walking with Ju,

“Maybe that’s the lie? It’d be an easy stretch to say you know three languages when I can be certain you already know two. And you differentiated between knowing three languages, and being fluent in three. Plus maybe Halmoni wanted you to be strong both physically, and mentally?”

Damian stopped in his tracks and turned toward her,

“Yeah, that is what I’m going with. You are a third degree black belt in taekwondo, but you aren’t fluent in three languages?”

He wanted to be more certain, but in the end, it was an icebreaker. Though, a competitive side in him hoped that he had nailed it. The want to be easy going collided with the fighter in him, and so he waited with bated breath for the real answers.

== tag Eun ==
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#7
As Eun Ju spoke about her two truths and a lie she could visibly see the wheels in Coleman’s head spring into action. He was already trying to puzzle out which they were, she enjoyed watching his brain, the way that his eyes were still moving around in their environment but also the way that she could tell his brain was cooking on the inside figuring out which was the lie. Once all three phrases were out she waited, and walked beside him. With the crowd having thinned out now she could actually see the shops and was able to look in the windows which were advertising the best of their wares hoping officers and visitors alike would come and spend their pay in the shops here. Ju hadn’t been paid anything yet, so the small amount of crafts she had bought in the shop earlier with Tera was about all she could spend, but they would keep her busy while she was on the ship with some down time.

Ju wasn’t sure what exactly she would be tasked with as a Middie. During her training at the Academy it seemed that everyone spoke that it was up to the Captain’s discretion. There were some Captains that threw their Middies into the mix quickly and some that preferred to let them ease into their new jobs during the first missions and kept them very low key. Ju wasn’t sure which she would prefer, but she also knew she didn’t have a say in the matter since it would be up to her Captain whom she hadn’t actually met yet.

The Commander said he felt that the dog was one of the truths. She tried to keep her face neutral but she wasn’t sure she had actually managed it. Ju was half-Betazoid so she wasn’t used to keeping her emotions to herself all the time, but she gave a curt nod hoping the rest of her face did not give her away. “All right, carry on.” She said trying to keep the truth hidden while he puzzled out. She really did have a dog, and she hoped that at some point she would get Yeobo on the ship with her so that she could at least have a companion and not feel so lonely. Eventually, she would make friends and create a family for herself on the ship where she was assigned, until that happened, Ju was afraid she would feel a bit lonely.

Now that he was speaking he seemed to be puzzling it out loud instead of in his head. He stated he could see her having studied martial arts, many of those in Korea did, even in this day and age. It was part of keeping yourself healthy and a further expansion of the discipline they instilled in their children and people as a whole. He then admitted that she at least knew Korean and English but he was not sure if she knew a third, besides she had said fluent, and many people knew languages but were not entirely fluent in such things. It was interesting, to her, how his brain worked and how he was puzzling through all the things she had said trying to seek out the lie.

Finally, he decided that she was fluent in two languages but was indeed a third degree black belt in taekwondo. Her eyes shifted to him, her brow rose, and she gave a smile. “That was intriguing, to watch,” she smiled. “However, you’re wrong.”

“You’re so close though. I really am fluent in three languages. But, I am only a second degree black belt in taekwondo.” She chuckled looking up at him with a smile on her face. “You were very close though, I was worried you would figure it out because I don’t really look like someone that can throw a full grown man if I have to. But, I got muscles,” she lifted her arm, bent at the elbow, as if she was showing off her guns even though she wasn’t. But, Ju was a very playful person at heart and ended up laughing letting her arm drop to her side again.

“Okay, your turn. Two truths and a lie. I want to see if I can sus you out. And besides, it’s only fair! I don’t know anything about you but you know way too much about me for a first meeting,” she chuckled, knowing it was her fault to have been so verbose from the beginning. She was chatty, that’s just how she was.

==Tag Coleman==
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#8
== time to do a little more backposting for fun! ==

When she looked at him, Coleman matched the gaze and he drank in the warmth from her eyes. Then, when Ju’s brow rose with the delayed smile, he wondered if he’d nailed it. Damian was preparing to celebrate as she spoke.

“That was intriguing, to watch…”

Oh no, that smile is growing… his eyes glued themselves to her lips, reading what was coming off of them before his ears would even hear the words.

“However, you’re wrong.”

“Damn!” Damian’s face scrunched up, and he playfully closed both his hands into fists before shaking them.

Returning back to his previous stance, he got the truths that he was looking for. As he always knew the best lies were based off, or laced with, the truth. Ju was only a second degree blackbelt, which was such a minor correction in the grand scheme of it all. And as he had reasoned before, her knowing a third language was probably well within her reach. Damian had realized it all too late. When he heard Ju chuckle, and say that he was close, it assuaged his inner competitive spirit some. Not completely, but some.

“I was worried you would figure it out because I don’t really look like someone that can throw a full grown man if I have to. But, I got muscles.”

When she raised her arm up, displaying the goods, Damian couldn’t help but laugh with her at the gun show. Even though Ju had been playing, be believed her when she said she could toss a man. People with raw strength could do it, but it was easier to do so by redirecting energy, not expanding it. Judo had its place, as did a mix of other martial arts that security officers were given a sampling of. Though Coleman admitted to himself long ago that he just preferred to throw a good punch instead most times.

“Okay, your turn. Two truths and a lie. I want to see if I can sus you out. And besides, it’s only fair! I don’t know anything about you but you know way too much about me for a first meeting.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” he said while she chuckled.

“I’ll even it up some though. Gotta make it a level playing field and all,” he winked at her, before drawing in a deep breath.

“I had gotten excited when you said you were born on a starship. I thought that maybe we’d shared a similar background growing up. Except your parents were smart, and knew that having a kid aboard a starship wasn’t exactly the best way to grow up,” there was a hint of resentment in Damian’s voice that leaked out as he remembered his youth.

“I grew up on a starbase not far from Earth, but enough to feel like it was light years away sometimes. When you are stuck on a station your whole life, you kinda get cabin fever. Both my parents liked to stay busy, holding down day jobs and doing musical stuff in the evenings. Which meant that parental supervision was incredibly low.”

“I wasn’t a bad kid or anything, but I got into a little bit of trouble here and there. Put my older sister through plenty of hell though. But it was just energy and frustration that I had that needed redirecting. Thankfully I discovered something that would help me do just that.”

Coleman paused for a moment, then decided to continue with the game.

“Aight, no more freebies,” he joked, “for the moment at least.”

Rubbing his hands together, he tried to decide what would be his two truths, and what would be his lie.

“In order to focus my mind, body, and spirit as a young man, I took up boxing. I’ve been to Risa at least twice, and even sorta co-own a little pad there. And I got some of my parent’s musical genes; I can play the bass guitar.”

With his answers given, Damian stopped walking and had turned in to face Ju. There was a moment, though, where he almost reached out for her hand. It would’ve been just to bring her to a stop too and turn her his way. But he had managed to stop himself without making a face. Or so he thought. The original reason he stopped was to give Ju a good chance to read his expression after his answers. Plus, he needed to see how she crunched the information. There was something about Ju that made him think her incredibly intuitive, and it was his experience that someone with a good gut instinct on things could sus the truth out.

== tag Ju ==
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#9
==Woohoo backstory fun time==

He seemed that he was going to be game for continuing on their little game. Eun Ju loved the fact that he was having a good time with her even though he was a Commander. It would be easy for him to be stuffy or to have dropped her at the infirmary while she waited on Tera to come to her senses with something bigger to do. Instead, he was hanging around with her and actually giving her the time of day. Ju had to admit she was having a good time, as nervous as she was about the next leg of her life-long journey it was nice for her to feel like she was accepted by someone so quickly which made things a little less scary. It would have been even less scary had she been assigned to his ship, but instead, she still held hope for what her own would be like even with the higher ranking officers because of his influence.

Commander Darkness told her that he thought, for a moment, they had grown up with similar backgrounds due to the fact they were both born on a ship. However, her parents had been ‘smart’ by sending her home to Korea to live with her Halmoni realizing that she could not have been properly raised on board a ship. There was pain and some resentment she could feel both mentally and tell through the tone his voice took as he spoke.

“I don’t know if my parents were smart or not. They were never present, really, so there was some abandonment there as well,” Ju would have carried a lot more baggage from the situation with it because of therapy she had gone to as a child. Her Halmoni was her mother, and once she realized that she had someone so amazing taking care of her she shifted her mindset and decided to move forward with her life rather than hang on to people who had not been interested in being parents. Only occasionally, as in sometimes years would pass before a video call or actual visit. It was often cold or awkward.

He explained that his parents had been busy, working by day and doing music by night. He seemed to be often left in the care of his older sister. He ran rampant around the station and gave his sister some gray hairs it seemed. “I bet you did, you seem like the type. Dang! I wish we had gotten to get through at least one round of the drinking game…” Ju shook her head and sighed. “We’ll have to raincheck.” She admitted with a bit of a mischievous grin playing on her lips as she made eye contact with Coleman again.

McDreamy decided to get on with the game, and Ju found herself crossing her arms over her chest as she listened to the options he put forward. Firstly, there was the fact that he took up boxing. Secondly, he admitted to having been to Risa twice and owning a small pad there, and thirdly, he could play the bass guitar.

Truthfully, Ju was very interested in music. It made her heart happy when the right song came on and she could often be found humming melodies and mouthing lyrics while listening to the music in her mind from memory. So, she hoped that the latter was true but only for a selfish reason more than anything else. Then the fact was, he was a Security officer; so taking up boxing was likely possible and he had given her a bit of a hint earlier when he said he just needed his energy redirected. Not to mention that his musculature and build leaned towards the fact that he had a fair amount of muscle mass and probably was very well versed in his job. Boxing would come in handy frequently, she imagined.

That left Risa. He admitted to going twice, and co-owning a pad there. That was a specific detail, she wondered if he was trying to pull something like she had done where there was a lace of truth running through the lie. All the while she thought, the fingertips of her right hand drummed quietly on her left arm. A little habit and her eyes had stared off almost unseeingly but being half-Betazoid she expertly avoided collisions with anyone around her.

“All right, lets see if I would have made an astute detective.” She stated with a smile coming out of her thoughts. “Firstly, I really hope you play music, and you play the bass guitar. I can play the piano, not enough to win awards, but enough to have taken lessons,” she admitted. “Then, there’s the boxing, I definitely think that’s what you meant when you said you redirected your extra energy when you were young, so I think that’s true too.”

“So for the lie, I do think you’ve been to Risa, but maybe once, not twice?” she offered looking up at him hoping that she was right, but at least he could see how her mind worked.

==Tag Coleman==
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#10
The promenade was alive with the hum of aliens speaking all manner of languages. Qi loved places like this. He would turn off his universal translator and let the sounds wash over him. This Klingon was selling blood pie, that Bolian was selling hats.

Better still, he could hear how language evolved in a place like this. Borrowed words from Federation Standard and Bajoran crept into everyday speech, and he even noticed some speech patterns that were characteristic of the Gamma Quadrant. In another version of his life, Qi would have taken a posting aboard the station, immersed himself in the kaleidoscope of linguistics, and never held a phaser again.

A large, blond Trill broke through the crowd. He was carrying a syrupy jumja stick in either hand. Qi smiled as Lumis drew near. Since reconnecting prior to Qi’s last mission aboard the Geronimo, the two had grown quite close. Qi knew millions of words in dozens of languages, but none seemed to describe their relationship without flattening it.

“They had moba fruit and uttaberry. Which do you want?” Lumis offered. His deep voice was easily discernible beneath the roar of the crowd. Qi took the uttaberry stick, a Betazoid fruit that paired surprisingly well with the Bajoran dessert. The two found a small bench off to the side of the main path and sat together, watching various humanoids go by.

“So, I’ve been here for two days and we haven’t talked about your visit to Trill. Now, my shuttle leaves in an hour. Are we going to talk about it?” Lumis asked, raising an eyebrow.

Qi lowered his head. “I told my mom’s family about the symbiont. Alena said that I should try to have it extracted.”

“Your grandmother said that? She’s been obsessed with getting you joined since the day you were born! She practically cut you off when you left to join Starfleet!” Lumis stammered. A few passersby turned to look at the sudden outburst. Qi shrank into himself.

“Not explicitly, but she implied it. She said that a symbiont without past lives needs to be reared on the home world. She said it was practically abuse to take it back into space.”

“Reared on the home world? Did you explain to her that you found it in a cargo crate aboard a Ferengi pirate ship? That symbiont probably hasn’t spent a day on Trill. Or else it was kidnapped shortly after it was born.”

Qi nodded glumly, forgetting his jumja stick for a moment. “She won’t say it, but her real problem is that I’m half human. I think I’m just realizing that I was never going to be good enough for her.”

“I’m sorry, Arwen. You probably regret going back there.” Lumis put a comforting hand on Qi’s shoulder.

“Actually, I don’t,” Qi replied, a hard edge in his voice. “I think I needed to realize that. I spent my childhood trying to be more Trill to placate Alena, then I ran off to Starfleet to spite her. Getting this symbiont has made me realize that I need to start living my life, or else my next host isn’t going to have anything worth remembering.”

Lumis turned to regard Qi, truly studying him, like he’d never seen him before. A hint of a smile tugged at his cheek. He let the moment hang in the air for some time before standing up.

“Come on, we should start making our way toward the docking port. Your new crew should be arriving soon, too.” Lumis offered a hand to Qi, helping him to his feet. The two walked together in comfortable silence. As they approached the station’s outer pylons, Qi thought about his new posting and the many changes that lie ahead. He said goodbye to Lumis and watched the heavy airlock door roll closed behind him. Whatever happened next, this life would be worth remembering.

== Tag anybody who feels like wandering by ==
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#11
The Promenade on DS9 was busy 26/7. Or so it always seemed. Peoples from so many different cultures milled around stalls, kiosks, shops and restaurants lined the main drag as well as side corridors and some locations on the upper balcony.

Papaver had already booked the spa session for the pair of them days ago when she'd heard the Philadelphia was bring brought back. Regardless, the science officer knew that no matter how the mission had gone. And the scuttle was bad. That though a minor frivolous thing that it was, was probably going to be just what the doctor ordered for her friend and brief DH. So to speak.

Black had on their way across from the habitat ring tried to turn back at least once, feeling self conscious about getting pampered given that she felt like crap and didn't deserve it, and was not worth the effort, and she deserved whatever Starfleet was going to throw at them for what she couldn't actually tell Papaver about just yet. But the younger woman wouldn't take a no for an answer and eventually managed to get her friend into the salon.

Almost immediately, it had been worth it. The hot rock treatment that the Risian masseuse had started with elicited the response that was expected. From there it was a couple of hours of pure relaxation and styling before the pair emerged looking far more relaxed and glowing than they had on entry, and Papaver herself. Quite a few more credits lighter.

Black had, finally accepted that Papaver was going to get her way. When she'd entered, she was sporting her now normal everyday blond bob hairstyle that she had adopted almost a decade ago. When she'd first enlisted all those years ago, she'd still been something of a flamboyant individual. She'd sported long bunches, often accented with bright woollen dreadfalls, but after her 'incident'. She'd tried dying her hair, and changing her style to disappear. To try to become someone else. A brunette nobody with a normal look that faded into the background. It had worked for a while. But she'd returned to being a blond after a couple of years, but kept up with the shorter hair and generic appearance.

She put down her champaign glass and looked at herself in the mirror. She'd opted for a couple of shades lighter than she'd been, adding a small amount of ashen silver to her colouring along with extensions that brought her hair back to the almost the same length it had been years ago. Brought back into a long ponytail and topped with a simple braid that helped frame the overall look and make her look far more dignified that she had hours before.

“New look, new you.” Said Papaver from the next seat over. She hadn't had such an extreme change, opting to keep her current look the same as it was, just electing for a trim. “So, where do you want to go next? And don't say home.”

Black pondered for a minute. She knew that she still had at least one more unofficial shift to pull at Quark's to pay off her outstanding tab.

She turned as smiled. “Quark's. Most of the crew will gravitate there. Everyone always does. New me. New bar tab.”

They both were now giggling like school girls as they left and headed out. Quark's was on the opposite side of the promenade ring to the salon. And there were plenty more shopping and browsing opportunities between to two.


== Tag to anyone encountering the pair ==
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#12
Qi loved accents. Most people could distinguish the sounds of their own home planet’s various regions (you say mugato, I say mugutu), but to Qi they were as unique as human fingerprints. With his Universal Translator turned off, the promenade’s chatter lost its literal meaning and he was able to focus on the sounds instead.

If you really want to know a person, don’t listen to what they say. Listen to how they say it. The lessons of Qi’s linguistics professor echoed in his mind.

Qi never quite agreed with that adage, but he understood the meaning. To the right ears, an accent was a map of where a person spent time, who they listened to, and how they wanted to present themselves.

As he lost himself in the sounds of the busy promenade, one particular voice seemed to break through the chatter. It was human, unmistakably terran. Qi hadn’t spent much time on Earth before the academy or since, but the so-called “country twang” was easy to spot.

Qi looked up at the voice’s owner. He had skimmed the Philadelphia’s crew manifest, but this woman didn’t seem familiar. Still, a terran accent this far from Earth was most likely Starfleet. Chances were high that she would know something about the ship that was docked on the upper pylons.

“Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to be from the Philadelphia, would you?” Qi asked, tapping the woman on the shoulder. He looked particularly casual in a crocheted Bajoran vest and a pair of loose-fitting cargo pants. “I’m supposed to transfer there soon, but something seemed to be happening at the docking bay. I hope everybody’s alright.”

== Tag Black ==
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#13
As the pair moved through the crowd browsing as they went, they chatted and looked at several of the stalls along their path. They were just looking at a stall that sold pendants and other costume jewellery.

“... And this is a pair of flawless Andorian Blood Agates.” The Bajoran proprietor was saying about a pair of blue and red stones made into earrings, when someone tapped her on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, you wouldn’t happen to be from the Philadelphia, would you?” Asked a man about the same height as her.

From his dress, Maz quickly assessed Bajoran. But changed her mind as her brain caught up and saw the Trill markings running down his temples and neck.

Glancing sideways at Papaver, she listened to the young man as he continued to speak.

“I’m supposed to transfer there soon, but something seemed to be happening at the docking bay. I hope everybody’s alright.”

“Umm, yes.” She said taking a subtle defensive stance. “I'm from the Philadelphia, but...” She wasn't quite sure what to say. Surely command weren't actually still assigning new officers to a ship they knew was toast. And this guy wasn't exactly dressed like a Starfleet officer. But  neither were the pair of them either. How had he identified her as coming from that ship?

“I'm sorry.” She said her years of combined tactical and security making her suspicious. “Who are you please?”


== Tag back ==
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#14
Qi followed the woman’s gaze down to his attire, realizing that he resembled a tourist much more than he did a Starfleet officer. She exchanged a glance with her companion, seeming to regard him with caution.

“Umm, yes.” She said, shifting slightly. “I'm from the Philadelphia, but… I'm sorry. Who are you please?”

Qi laughed sheepishly. It was good practice to be suspicious of strangers aboard a space station. Although (and he might have imagined it), she seemed a bit tense. Was there something else going on?

“Apologies, that was rude of me,” Qi said. He straightened up, trying to look more official despite his appearance. He pulled a combadge from one of his many pockets.

“I’m Lieutenant Commander Arwen Qi. I was supposed to join the Philadelphia as Chief Science Officer, but I haven’t heard much since I arrived on the station.” He hated invoking his rank, but it seemed necessary under the circumstances. He needed to earn some trust in order to get more information.

== Tag Black ==
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#15
“I’m Lieutenant Commander Arwen Qi.”  Said the man displaying a comm badge. “I was supposed to join the Philadelphia as Chief Science Officer, but I haven’t heard much since I arrived on the station.”

Again Black and Papaver looked at each other. “Lieutenant Theresa Black.” Black said after a moment offering her hand. “An this is Lieutenant Papaver.”

“Hi.” Said Papaver.

Given that they were stood in the middle of the promenade Black thought it a good idea if they moved over to the far wall where there was a gap in the people moving around them so they could talk easier.

“I'm afraid, Sir.” She began. “There were a few, issues, during our last mission. I do know that some of the former Philadelphia crew have already been reassigned elsewhere, but most of us have been ordered to remain either here on station or at best Bajor itself to await either reassignment or, repercussions.”

She could feel her face flushing with embarrassment as she said the words. She didn't offer the information that she had been the serving CSO herself when the mission began either.

“I don't really know what else I can tell you, Sir.” She added before something caught her eye.

The entrance to Quark's bar was visible from where they stood. And Black had just spotted what looked like the back of Commander Jensen disappearing inside.

“But I think I just saw Commander Jensen over there.” She pointed toward Quark's. “We were heading there ourselves. Would you care to join us and maybe the Commander will have more information for you?”

She gave her best keep calm and keep your existential crisis inside, smile as she gestured for them to move on.


== Tag – And off to Quark's? ==
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#16
“I don't really know what else I can tell you, Sir.” Lieutenant Black said.

Qi shifted uncomfortably. He hated being deferred to based on his rank. He would rather be respected for his ideas. His old crew knew that about him.

The situation for the Philadelphia’s crew seemed to be even more fraught than Qi had anticipated. Something had gone very wrong, potentially too sensitive and damaging to be discussed in public.

He heard the familiar name of Commander Jensen, the ship’s first officer. He would know more about Qi's pending transfer. More importantly, he seemed to be heading into a nearby bar. The idea of a drink was starting to sound pretty good.

“Nice to meet you both. Whatever happened on your last mission, I’m glad I ran into you,” Qi said, accompanying the pair toward Quark’s. “I’ll get the first round.”

>>>> Quark’s Bar >>>>
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#17
“Nice to meet you both. Whatever happened on your last mission, I’m glad I ran into you,” Qi said, accompanying the pair toward Quark’s. “I’ll get the first round.”

Papaver took him by the arm. “oh, I'm keeping you.” She said with a smile.


>> Quark's >>
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#18
== After Artemis docking ==

It felt strange being back on DS9 again. Mara hadn’t particularly liked the place much last time she was here, but right now she was feeling a lot more appreciative of its charms. Artemis’ last mission had been a disaster. No-one on that away team had come back in a good mood and on a crew as close-knit as theirs, that had been felt by everyone. They needed to reset before they went back out there. This was as good a place as any to do that.

Definitely wasn’t the first mission fail I’ve been part of. Probably the one that stings the most though Calleja thought to herself as she walked. What have we got to show for all that? Square root of fuck all. A ship that’s been so stripped out even the Cardies were gonna junk it.

Mara hadn’t been inclined to be sociable at all, wanting to hit the gym and brood rather than see the sights, but then Cera Morgan of all people had turned up at her door. That had been unexpected. What was even more unexpected was that she had come bearing a request from Captain Crawford. The boss wanted to meet and clear the air. Mara had agreed instantly, been given the time and the location, and had thanked the QM for making it happen.

She wasn’t sure whose choice the venue was but she didn’t object. Kikar’s Coffeehouse was a Bajoran place with a glowing reputation for coffee, and that was just fine with Mara. When she was on duty, she drank whatever was nearby to get through her shift just like every other caffeine fiend in Star Fleet. Off duty though, she appreciated the good stuff. No matter how uncomfortable the next hour or so was, it did at least promise to have some authentic Bajoran coffee in it to make things more bearable.

Honestly, I have no idea how this is gonna go. Am I still in the shit? I hope not. I deserved what I got on the Philly. Probably deserved worse than that to be honest. But we’ve not really seen much of each other since then. And I guess my rep doesn’t exactly scream ‘I’ve learned from my mistake’. Much more ‘I will hold a grudge until we’re both bleached bones in the ground’, however true that ain’t any more.

Mara was off duty and dressed accordingly in black cargo pants, boots and a sleeveless olive green top that showed off her broad shoulders and the heavy muscle tone on her arms. That morning she’d redone her side-shave, the left side of her head shaved back to bare caramel skin and her dark hair braided and hanging over her right shoulder. Force of habit meant she was carrying, the holster Okehampton and Sydesh had given her clipped to her belt with a type II and a knife safely wrapped in the leather.

She found Kikar’s without too many problems and stepped inside, finding a table for 2 in the corner and sinking into the chair. A server came over.

“What can I get you?” he asked.

“Uh…” Mara looked over at the menu boards, and then back at the server. “Y’know what, you know the menu way better than I do. Can you fix me your best real Bajoran coffee please? The good stuff. And somethin’ to eat with it. I got company comin’ imminently.”

The server tilted his head and then nodded.

“OK. I got you,” he said. “I know just the one.”

He was still at the table when a familiar figure was spotted on her way down the promenade…

== Tag boss! ==
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#19
== After the Ready Room posts ==

In truth, the last thing Tyra particularly wanted to be doing was roaming through DS9, bumping elbows with the carefree masses, and pretending as if life was just continuing on as normal. However, if Cera and Chase had made one thing abundantly clear, it was that she needed to, at least, put on an air that everything was okay and that she was entirely unbothered and unconcerned about the possible fall out of Artemis' latest adventure. And to do so, she couldn't continue to hide in her Ready Room and attempt to blow through her "I Might Not Be Captain Tomorrow" To-Do list.

As she walked through the Promenade with her head on a swivel, as was her habit, she honestly couldn't recall exactly whose idea this particular meeting had been. She had vented her frustration regarding some of the collateral damage from the mission to Cera, particularly the stress and strain on some of the interpersonal relationships among the people that had gone to the Callisto. Her greatest concern had been the fallout with Damian but given that they seemed to be avoiding each other like the plague, that seemed like an insurmountable task at the moment. Instead, she seemed to remember Cera suggesting that she focus on something she could smooth over a little better, something not quite broken because, well, there hadn’t really been an opportunity for there to be much to break in reality.

The redhead supposed she agreed because, while she still didn't agree with Calleja's outburst on the Philly, she could understand it. It was very likely that she had more in common with Calleja than she did with most of the other members of that team, and it was just as likely that a conversation with Calleja, because of those similarities, might have more of an impact than it would otherwise. If these were truly going to be her last days as the commanding officer of the Artemis, she wanted to know that she was making connections where they needed to be, that she was pouring into the places she could actually, maybe, make a bit of a difference.

Tyra's feet were on autopilot as she moved through the promenade towards a destination that she knew well from her previous visits; it was a favorite of Cera's and therefore, it was a regular stop for herself. Her choice in outfit, a steel blue tunic that tied near her hip with black leggings and brown boots, allowed her to blend into the moving crowds in a way that allowed her to relax just a little bit. Fortunately, while rumors were swirling, there was nothing definitive enough to draw the media's attention and for that she was eternally grateful.

Once she entered Kikar's, Calleja was easy to locate tucked into a table for two in the corner, though she supposed Calleja was likely easy to spot in any environment. She didn't even put up an argument that Calleja had taken the seat facing the room, it was privilege of the first arriving party to pick the most advantageous seat and Tyra had failed on this one. All the same, she offered Calleja a warm smile as she ducked past the waiter and slid into the open seat.

"Hi," she greeted Calleja before looking up at the waiter. The waiter started to open his mouth to offer her time to consider her options but she beat him to the punch. "Can I get a Montiro? Extra hot with a splash of cinnamon. Oh and do you have those…" she paused, her hands coming up to make a small circle as she tried to recall the name of the Bajoran treat that Kata loved so much.

The waiter smiled patiently. "A huli. The little pastry pies? Yes, we have multiple flavors though the current special is savory meat pie made from meat imported directly from a Bajoran farm and a fruit pie containing Terran lemons and Bajoran nogari berries. Both are very popular right now."

"I'll take one of each, please," she said with another warm smile.

Once the waiter departed, clearly having taken Calleja's order already, the redhead offered a slightly wry grin and a little shrug. "One of my closest friends is Bajoran and when Starbase Delta was both of our home bases, we use to frequent a little place very similar to this. I can't say I'm a huge fan of a lot of Bajoran dishes but those pies… they hit the spot," she explained.

Cera, once again, displaying that she knows me better than I know myself, she thought with the tiniest flare of wistfulness.

However, she didn't herself linger on that for long, not when she felt like she, at least, needed to explain this unorthodox meeting before they settled into an awkward silence.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet me; I know it's not entirely in the norm but given that nothing is exactly normal right now, I thought it best to try to make sure everything is straight between all of us. I know we had a rocky point in the briefing but I appreciate the support you gave me when it was needed most. I know it might not feel that way with everything as it is but it's not overlooked and it does mean something, to me at least."

== Over to you! ==
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#20
Mara nodded in greeting as Tyra entered, sitting that little bit straighter. The Bandaran smiled to herself as it turned out the Captain knew plenty about Bajoran food and drink.

We’re meetin’ in a Bajoran cafe. Of course she knows. Probably been here before.

"One of my closest friends is Bajoran and when Starbase Delta was both of our home bases, we use to frequent a little place very similar to this. I can't say I'm a huge fan of a lot of Bajoran dishes but those pies… they hit the spot," Tyra explained.

Yep. There it is.

“Yeah, last time we were here I sacked off DS9 and went hikin’ round Bajor,” Mara replied. “Some really good stuff, even if I can’t remember the names of much of it,” she admitted with a grin.

It wasn’t really a surprise when the redhead got down to business pretty quickly.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet me; I know it's not entirely in the norm but given that nothing is exactly normal right now, I thought it best to try to make sure everything is straight between all of us. I know we had a rocky point in the briefing but I appreciate the support you gave me when it was needed most. I know it might not feel that way with everything as it is but it's not overlooked and it does mean something, to me at least."

“Thanks. I appreciate that,” Mara said with a nod. “But you were right to put me back in my box after the briefin’, and I’m glad you did. There’s no hard feelin’ there at all.”

She shifted her weight in the chair. Calleja was prone to being closed off, giving short answers and holding back what she really thought. But once she had warmed to someone she was much more open, and that’s where she stood with Crawford.

“I don’t think I really understood the burden that was on you until that… I dunno, do we call it a talk when you did all the talkin’ and I shut up for once?” Mara joked. “But you let me in. You didn’t just close up shop and kick me off the team, although I bet that was mighty temptin’. I got to see why I was wrong. The conflictin’ demands you gotta manage and how it all fits together. Gave me some perspective, and I needed that, so thank you. And I mean it, I’m not just blowin’ smoke up your arse because you’re Tyra Crawford. Not very often I get credited with brains enough to figure shit out.”

There was a genuine smile on Calleja’s lips as she spoke. She wasn’t completely naive. She knew why she was typecast and underestimated, and if she was being honest with herself she would admit that she did play up to it sometimes. All the same, Crawford had shown her respect, and that lesson had been enough to get the infamously assertive and often fiery Bandaran to fall in line.

== To you! ==
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#21
==Note: This is three days prior to the Crawford/Calleja timeline==
>>Habitat Ring>>

The turbolift came to a stop on the lower level of the promenade, and again they fell into step as they walked towards the security office.

There was nothing overtly threatening about the way the four men moved through the station, but just the same there was no doubting what was going on - a man was being taken into custody. The crowd made way and they moved through with quiet ease, though Benjamin could feel the stares of the crowd as he walked. He kept his head up, though - he may be an idiot at times, but he still had his pride.

The fact that his pride was what had caused all of his recent troubles, of course, hadn't occurred to him yet.

Part of him wanted to look for a familiar face in the crowd. Another part just hoped that none of them were around to see him. Before long, though, it didn't matter. They had entered the security office and taken him back to the back. One of the holding cells was open.

The man with the padd stepped to one side, the first guard to the other, and he was waved into the cell. He followed the directions, entered and sat down as the forcefield clicked on.

"Someone will be here to talk to you shortly," he was told, and everyone filed out of the room, leaving Benjamin alone with his thoughts, and cursing himself for his own lack of foresight, and wondering how he'd let it come to this.
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#22
== 3 Days before the RR, probably 4 Days before Calleja Meeting ==

>> Artemis - CO Quarters >>

By the time Tyra's feet had exchanged Artemis' decking for DS9's, she was fueled purely by anger, bording on rage, as she charged forward on what amounted to a warpath. To the point that she didn't care that she was wearing leggings, an oversized t-shirt and had almost left her quarters without shoes before throwing on the first pair she could find.

And yet, even as un-captainly as she currently appeared, people moved out of her way like she was parting the Red Sea. And those that didn't quickly regretted their deficiency in survival instincts.

It wasn't until she stepped into DS9's Security Office and was met with six pairs of confused and puzzled gazes that she briefly considered what she must look like with her long red hair swept and messy from stalking across the station and her lounge clothes that she would never have intended to wear outside of her quarters on any other condition. In fact, if she had been one of these young security officers, she likely would have had serious concerns for her sanity, assuming she'd even know who she was.

"Uh, ma'am, are you lost? The medical facility is one deck down," one of the young men started to say as he rose from his chair, likely intending to escort her out.

"The only person that's going to need a medical facility is you if you keep that up. You're holding one of my officers and I'd like to see him immediately," Tyra stated, her words sharp and cutting. Her gaze was likely even sharper as the outspoken ensign seemed to visibly wilt back into his chair.

"We only have one occupant at the moment and he's not taking visitors at this time," one of the other ensigns spoke up. "You'll have to come back later."

Tyra's blue eyes shifted to that ensign with lightning fast reflexes and she was about to verbally pounce on him when the lieutenant at the back of the room cleared his throat.

"Captain, it's, uh, good to see you again. I believe we can accommodate you for a quick visit," the lieutenant said, his words coming out quickly as he moved past his companions and made a motion towards one of the doors. Clearly, trying to prevent any bloodshed.

"You were a guest instructor for my ground fighting class my third year and I also attended a number of your lectures during my fourth year. Captain Lawrence always spoke very highly of you," the young man explained quietly as he lead her to the door. "The Chief comes back in about thirty minutes from his usual coffee break so you might want to be gone before then, ma'am. I'll make sure the recording is off."

The door yawned open at their approach but Tyra paused long enough to offer the young man a small smile. "Thank you, Lieutenant."

However, that small smile disappeared as soon as she crossed the threshold to the holding cells, her blue eyes shifting from empty cell to empty cell before she found the lone occupant. And she cleared the distance in record speed, all of the wind back in her sails by the time she arrived.

"What the Hell were you thinking? Are you that big of a ****** idiot? I thought you were the smarter one but even Nathan wouldn't have done something this catastrophically idiotic."

== Tag! ==
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#23
== Coffee Timeline ==

Tyra's lips had pulled back at Calleja's joke, not above admitting that it had certainly been a one sided lecture. And the grin settled into an easier smile as Calleja continued.

Truth be told, it would have been far quicker and probably far more satisfying to have just ripped Calleja a new one during the meeting but it wouldn't have served any other purpose but to knock the security officer down a few notches.

"As shocking as this may be to hear, I was born a hothead and in the not so distant past, I would have taken great satisfaction in absolutely eviscerating you in front of everyone," Tyra stated, giving the tiniest of shrugs at the statement.

She paused as the waiter arrived with their drinks, setting down each carefully in front of their respective recipient. Tyra's drink was dark as the blackest night, broken up only by what looked like a glittery swirl when the light reflected off of it just right.

"However, with age comes wisdom allegedly, and I've realized that, while some people do eventually need to be brought down a peg, most people just want an answer. And while I don't owe an answer, I've found that y'all seem to learn a lot from seeing the mechanisation of the decision making. And ultimately, along with a thousand other things, making sure y'all learn how to make the needed decisions and make the right decisions is part of my job. I'd be failing y'all if you didn't leave Artemis better officers than you came," the redhead explained, her lips pulled wryly.

In light of Elias' debacle, she wondered if she was succeeding at molding better officers but she needed to look no further than Nathan, who likely would have been drummed out of the service if she hadn't dug her heels in, to know she, at least, could succeed at righting some ships.

"You weren't necessarily wrong though. I would have and have had those concerns when I wore your uniform and I can respect your willingness to voice it. Just next time, like we talked about, pull me aside to do it," she offered a smile, warm and genuine, before covering it with a sip from her coffee cup.

The drink was an interesting combination, bitterness cut by a hint of almond and cinnamon with a kick of caffeine that couldn't be beaten. When Tyra lowered the cup, the smile had been replaced for a second by a hard press of her lips but she seemed to catch herself.

"Of course, none of us knew then what a colossal mess this would all become. I might need to get my crystal ball worked on before the next outing," she joked dryly, the humor not quiet reaching her eyes.

"How are you holding up since we've been back? Did Mayfair get you all stitched up?"

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#24
==Arrest Timeline==
==Security Office, about an hour after previous post==
 
Benjamin watched the investigator walk out, heading back towards his office presumably. Part of him was surprised that the investigator was actually from the JAG office, but considering what they were charging him with – what he had confessed to before he even got here – he probably shouldn’t have been..
 
The questions were simple and to the point: did you steal a cloaking device from a Klingon ship? Yes, sir, from a bunch of lowlife sentient-trafficking scum, sir. Where and when did this happen? At Pomn, sir, a few years ago. Did anyone help you steal the device and store it? No, sir; those actions were my own and I did everything in my power to make sure no one else knew. Why did you use it? The mission was classified, sir; I can’t answer that until you’re read in.
 
That last bit had been what really bothered the man, but it was a hard line Benjamin refused to cross. Not that it likely mattered. He was sure that clearance would be given, but it was like his dad always told him: if you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging.
 
If only I’d listened to that advice earlier, he thought. What the hell had he been thinking, sending in a confession like that? He paced back and forth in the tiny cell, a path he knew numerous others had walked before and would after he was… wherever he wound up at. No matter what else happens, he reminded himself, that won’t be Artemis anymore.
 
There was simply no way he would be allowed back on his ship. His home, with his friends. Probably just as well. He wasn’t sure what he’d say to them now. They had managed to not only recover Callisto somehow, but also cover up the existence of the cloaking device, much less its use. No one would have ever known, and everything would have been fine.
 
But no, he had to go and tell them anyway. Sure, it was because he’d wanted to make sure the blame got laid at his feet and no one else’s. And he’d successfully done just that, at least for now.
 
And it wasn’t like he could simply chalk it up to one bad decision. It was simply another in a chain of them. His reaction to Cera and Dayune, his failure to actually deal with that like a rational person instead of a petulant child. Flying off back home and coming back without a word. Or going back further, not getting rid of the damn cloaking device when he had chance after chance to, or even he could’ve left it on that damn bird of prey to get incinerated by that star they flew it into.
 
He'd spent years trying his best to be better, to do better, so that he wouldn’t… wind up exactly where he was. And even if he was here because of good reasons, he knew what road those reasons paved.
 
He sank down to the bench with a sigh, running a hand through his hair. He’d been told that his representative would be in to see him soon, but as soon as the door opened he knew that this wasn’t them.
 
Tyra Crawford came blazing across the holding chamber, stopping what seemed like inches from the forcefield. "What the Hell were you thinking? Are you that big of a ****** idiot? I thought you were the smarter one but even Nathan wouldn't have done something this catastrophically idiotic."
 
Benjamin stopped for a moment, his own recriminations fed by her rage as he sank further into that despair. “I guess you were wrong,” he said. “We both were.
 
“I’d wanted to get out in front of it, because no matter what happened to us on that mission I knew that someone was going to try and take us down over that damned cloak.” His voice was shaky and soft, as if he couldn’t make it any louder. “And when that happened, I had wanted it to be me, not you or anyone else in the crew. I’m the one who committed the crime and had the device, I couldn’t let them paint you with that same brush.”
 
Even to his own ears, it sounded stupid, hubristic. Who was he to decide where the blame should go? Why did he think that Tyra needed his protection, when she was the captain? But that was precisely what he’d done.
 
And now, it had blown up in his face.
 
“I never imagined,” he continued, “that we’d survive to be here, much less that we’d manage to get back without the cloak’s help. I…” He stopped, hands spread. He wanted to apologize, but how could he? What could he say? Instead, his head dropped again, lapsed to silence.
 
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#25
== Idiot Sandwich Timeline ==

Tyra had to almost press against the forcefield to make out Elias' soft words, an utter contrast to her raging fire. He sounded defeated and a tad broken as if he had realized his mistake after already toppling the first domino and setting all of this into motion.

And if he had sounded defeated, he looked like a lost little boy who had walked confidently into a problem before finding himself waist deep in water well beyond his ability to traverse.

"Benjamin...." The sigh held an immense amount of frustration but also resignation.

"I need you to listen to me very carefully. Stop digging. You cannot protect me, you literally can't. Anything any of you do will always land on my shoulders to some extent and I am okay with that. It's literally my job." The rage had subsided to something calmer, colder. It was still rage but it was more controlled, something that could be directed.

She waved her hand, her fingers coming centimeters from the forcefield. "But this... This isn't helping. You're literally paving the road to Hell," her voice rose with frustration again before seeming to settle once more.

Her hand rubbed her face as she turned, taking a few steps before retracing them and continuing the pattern as she thought.

"I need to know exactly what the confession said. Did you mention Pomn?" she stated as her legs carried her on another circuit before she stopped almost exactly where she started.

"And I need you to keep your damn mouth shut until your representation gets here. Do not be an idiot and talk without them here." Her finger emphasized certain words with jabs, barely stopping short of the field each time.

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#26
==Arrest Timeline==
 
The fact that she backed off of her rage was almost more painful than if she had just kept yelling at him. Oh, the rage was still there, still backing everything she was doing, but he’d seen her often enough to know that she was keeping it in check. It was a minor mercy he didn’t deserve.
 
"I need you to listen to me very carefully,” she told him. “Stop digging. You cannot protect me, you literally can't. Anything any of you do will always land on my shoulders to some extent and I am okay with that. It's literally my job."
 
He nodded, having had the same realization over the past hour. He might not have been out of his mind when he sent the confession in, but he definitely hadn’t been thinking straight. He’d been scared, feeling extremely alone, and with a mission that looked like a very elaborate method of suicide ahead.
 
So he’d made a choice, and it was the exact wrong one.
 
"I need to know exactly what the confession said,” she continued, pacing outside of his cell like a patient tiger. “Did you mention Pomn? And I need you to keep your damn mouth shut until your representation gets here,” she emphasized with a finger getting not quite close enough to the forcefield to buzz. As she was former security, he was quite sure she knew just how far she could push that line. “Do not be an idiot and talk without them here."
 
He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. “Well, I was an idiot,” he said a little stronger, knowing better than to try and hide it and being on a bit firmer ground now. Facts and actions he could deal with a little better, and maybe it was simply better for her to be pissed off at him rather than cold; that, at least, he knew how to deal with.
 
“They asked some questions about what was in the confession,” he started, “though nothing that actually dug into it – I presume they wanted to do that after getting my confirmation of what was in there first. But they started asking about the mission, at which point I did stop answering anything on grounds of classification. We only spoke for maybe five, ten minutes? And I was actually expecting my representative when you showed up.
 
“And yes, I mentioned Pomn,” he added, heaping more coals on the fire that would likely have immolated him if there weren’t a forcefield in the way. “For some damn reason I thought it important for them to know who I got the thing from. And no, I don’t know why that seemed a good idea.”
 
He sighed and leaned back against the wall, static buzzing through his artificial eye. “Dammit,” he said, slamming his fist against his leg. How could he have been such an idiot?
 
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#27
== Coffee Timeline ==

Mara’s lips pulled back in a feral smile as Tyra coolly stated she wasn’t that far removed from biting back in the briefing.

I’m glad she didn’t. ‘Cause that wouldn’t have ended well at all. I was going for it at the time, not sure I’d have had the presence of mind to reign it in.

The drinks arrived shortly afterwards along with a plate of huli for each of them. Calleja unashamedly wolfed down her savoury pie to temporarily sate her Amazonian physique’s constant demand for calories, before leaning back with the coffee mug cradled in her hands.

She already knew how dedicated Artemis was to improving its officers, but it was still reassuring to hear it again and that the principle still applied even after her transgression. Mara believed herself to be a work in progress. There were things she did exceptionally well and others that she was still learning. Before joining the crew she had been a line officer with no inclination towards leadership but since her transfer, she felt like she had taken some big steps forward.

One or two backward, sure. I’m still a mouthy bitch at the best of times. But mostly forward.

"You weren't necessarily wrong though. I would have and have had those concerns when I wore your uniform and I can respect your willingness to voice it. Just next time, like we talked about, pull me aside to do it," Tyra said before taking a sip of coffee.

“Yeah, message received,” Mara replied with a grin. “By all rights I should have spent the rest of that mission on the bench with tinnitus. Not gonna happen again.”

"Of course, none of us knew then what a colossal mess this would all become. I might need to get my crystal ball worked on before the next outing," the Captain joked dryly, the humor not quite reaching her eyes. "How are you holding up since we've been back? Did Mayfair get you all stitched up?"

“I mean, you seemed to know how it was gonna go at the briefin’, even if you didn’t actually say it. And even though you didn’t know how many extra layers of shit Command was gonna add on top,” Calleja said, before taking a sip of her own coffee to marshal her thoughts.

“As for me, physically I’m fine,” the Bandaran said. “I went down once we got back from Callisto. Sydesh patched me up good as new. I’ve learned over the years. You take the hits, you go straight to Sickbay and get it over with once things have died down. Sure, when the heat is on, you keep goin’ until the mission is done. Whatever it takes. But after, don’t be stupid. I’ve got no patience for anyone tryin’ to soldier on when there’s an entire department down there to keep us goin’.”

She paused for a moment, her brow furrowing.

“Mentally, emotionally… Not so great,” she admitted. “We put everythin’ on the line and came out with nothin’ to show for it. And it’s not like I can point to anythin’ we did and say ‘that’s where it went wrong, that right there is what we could have done different’. ‘Cause I honestly don’t think there was a moment like that. Our primary, secondary and hell, even the tertiary objectives were all long gone before we got there, and then we got hung out to dry and had to limp home in a bucket even the enemy didn’t want.”

Mara was being careful about what she said given where they were having the conversation, but her meaning was still pretty clear to Tyra. The Artemis team had boarded Callisto after the slipstream drive, the prisoners and the senior Cardassians had already gone.

“I’m tryin’ to find healthy ways to vent,” she said. “Deliberately avoidin’ pickin’ up a phaser or goin’ full send on a trainin’ sim until I’m calmer. I’ve lifted a lot of plates these last few days. Been talkin’ a lot with my vocal coach too, she’s teachin’ me a new style to give me somethin’ to focus on. Just… Yeah. I keep goin’ back to what happened and I’m strugglin’ to move on and let it go.”

The raw frustration hung from her words, the emotion all too visible in her dark eyes as she leaned forward and her voice softened.

“Nothin’ we did would have made a difference. I got my connections, I know what happened with Elias. I saw the report on D’Mar. We’re gonna be facin’ the consequences for some time yet, and for what?” She sighed. “And yeah, I said ‘we’. If you need anythin’ from me, if there’s anythin’ I can do, just say the word. These shoulders don’t slope.”

She took another sip from her coffee, drawing in a deep breath and letting it out slowly.

“I know you probably can’t say much about all the behind the scenes shit, but are you OK?” Calleja asked. “I can’t even imagine how all this feels like from your perspective, with an actual kid to go along with all the older ones on your crew.”

There was a ghost of a smile on her lips as she cracked the joke and leant back.

== To you! ==
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#28
== Two halves of a full idiot reunited timeline! ==

Something had happened. Something really damned big had happened. Whatever it was, Nathan was tenaciously resolute in finding out sooner rather than later. Because for Ramius, the last couple, few, or however many damned days it had been travelling back to DS9 were torture. Oh he’d been chewed out and grilled plenty in his early career, and by the best in fact. Tyra Crawford. Jennifer Braggins. Both were galaxy classed at tearing someone apart if they wanted. Yet they both did so in distressingly different ways. And so, Nathan had thought that there was no one else that could compare. Yet he had learned in those long days that quantity was its very own quality.

Long and rapid strides carried Ramius with haste through the docking ring toward the promenade. Nathan considered himself something of an authority on how to get oneself into trouble, and had briefly thought about writing a tongue-in-cheek ‘how-to’ manual about it. It was a fleeting thought because he knew the less attention drawn to his past was a good thing. And yet. And yet someone had done that all the same and without giving Nathan any royalties. Ramius had spent the Crusader’s entire trip being grilled longer than a hot dog in an Old Earth backwoods gas station. SECCOM. SFI. JAG. Fleet Command. And just about everyone in the sector with full pips or more: Commanders, Captains, Commodores, Admirals. More brass than a British-style brass band.

“Make a hole!” he called out to a fix of engineers, who quickly parted as Nathan sped through the middle of them.

Once he’d finally made his way to the promenade, it was a straight shot to get to the security office. With the amount of heat that had brought down upon him, Nathan would have made an educated guess that he would find clues there. Though that hadn’t been needed. A cryptic message had been sent to him, likely from a particular someone on the Artemis. Or so he assumed. Either way, when he passed through the threshold of the office, the mixture of uncertain and disrupted faces gave him even more context.

“I’m with her,” Ramius said to the Lieutenant when it looked like he was about to question Nathan about his intentions. It had the desired effect, and it told him that a wild fire had already passed through.

Dropping his duffel off at the desk by the guards, Nathan turned into the brig and found precisely the party, or parties, he was looking for. Disheveled and phenomenally agitated, it was Tyra that he spotted first. Clearly she’d just been informed of whatever transpired just before the Crusader finished docking, which momentarily confused Nathan. He thought that the big damn galaxy ruining event had already transpired. So was this just fallout? Crawford was yelling at the force field, her fingers nearly sizzling as she pointed in the general direction of the trapped prey. Nathan didn’t have to guess who it was.

“I assume from the way you are talking to Ben, we’ve past the point of asking ‘what the **** is wrong with you?” he spoke calmly even though heat emanated up through the collar of his uniform.

“Is this why I’ve had so much brass up my ass that I’m spitting up pips, or that everytime I use the refresher I’m practically a human deadbolt? Cause there is only one thing I can think of that would wrangle me into some hot ****ing mess. Somebody mentioned our long ago 'friendly' vacation?”

By that time, Nathan had gotten close enough to see his friend and say the last line to him directly, while still giving him space to try and dodge any hands that Tyra might throw his way. After all, if it wasn’t for Ramius, Elias wouldn’t even have such a story to tell about their wayward adventure on Pomn.

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#29
== Coffee ==

“Mentally, emotionally… Not so great,” she admitted. “We put everythin’ on the line and came out with nothin’ to show for it. And it’s not like I can point to anythin’ we did and say ‘that’s where it went wrong, that right there is what we could have done different’. ‘Cause I honestly don’t think there was a moment like that. Our primary, secondary and hell, even the tertiary objectives were all long gone before we got there, and then we got hung out to dry and had to limp home in a bucket even the enemy didn’t want."

The redhead wasn't sure Calleja could have summed her feelings up any more completely about how the mission had ended and how faulty the premise of it had been. Tyra had spent decades laying her life on the line for one thing or another and what she could say with full honesty was that she had never felt like that willingness to sacrifice had been as used and abused as it had on this one. They'd walked out with nothing and they might not have even needed to go if someone had done their homework just a little better. She'd lost an officer because of the complacency, laziness and incompetency of people that would never beat the weight of its consequences.

As Calleja continued, Tyra found herself nodding her head, though she stopped herself from speaking by taking a series of sips from her coffee. She suspected if she'd been placed in a similar situation when she'd been a security officer, her frustration would have been much the same but her coping would have been a lot more volatile, a lot more alcohol and a lot of blood.

“I know you probably can’t say much about all the behind the scenes shit, but are you OK?” Calleja asked. “I can’t even imagine how all this feels like from your perspective, with an actual kid to go along with all the older ones on your crew.”

The corner of her lip pulled just barely at the joke but for a few moments, her blue eyes stayed trained on the swirling vortex of her coffee. It was only to give herself a few more moments to consider the question that she reached for her huli, savoring the bite as if it would deposit words into her tongue.

It had always been such a delicate balance being a commanding officer that wanted to forge bonds with her crew but also knew that there were still lines that separated them. And for good reasons. Usually, she found that balance to be relatively easy because she had members of her crew that were more settled into her life, such as Elias, Tucker and even Damian. However, Elias was one of the prime elements of her current misery, Tucker had no context to the current shit show and Damian... there was something going on there.

And being isolated here wasn't helping. She could handle a situation that needed to be kept close to the chest if she was home with Thomas but she hadn't even been able to tell the man what was wrong, not over subspace. Oh, he'd guessed part of it but she knew he'd never make it to the crux of the problem on his own, the part of the problem that was causing her massive headaches.

"I..." She started to give a superficial answer but stopped short as she remembered many years before when Nick had trusted her to see just a little behind the curtain, to understand what the weight of command looked like in the aftermath.

"No, everything is a mess," she finally answered. "And I've been knee deep in plenty of messes but they've been worth it. They've all been necessary and if they ended my career, I wouldn't have batted an eye because someone needed to do it but this...."

"There's, at least, one career ending from this and realistically, probably about three others on the chopping block and for what? I can't even get a straight answer on anything from anyone," she punctuated that with a frustrated shrug and a mouthful of coffee.

She let the liquid settling on her tongue for a moment, categorizing each flavor before swallowing. Her lips pulled into the tiniest of wolf-like grins

"But I've always loved a good fight so I hope they're ready for one," she commented, the sentence punctuated by a hum as she tried the fruity huli. The waiter had actually undersold it, she felt. It was delicious.

"But to answer your question, I'm okay. I've had years to find healthier coping mechanisms and while I'm sure a therapist would still frown at 0200 boxing sessions and two whiskeys before bed, it's certainly better than what I've done in the past. Particularly when I can't get home."

Now, she chuckled, an actual, genuine chuckle. "Though something could be said for a rager that ends in a full bare knuckle brawl, particularly if I can choose the victim. I've got a few in mind that would be most deserving."

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#30
== I is for Imbecile ==

Tyra's head hung as Elias answered, still seemingly oblivious to the danger of just five minutes with a capable interviewer. That has been his chance to blame the confession on alcohol or stress or being mad at her or any number of things but he'd doubled down on his stupidity.

Does no one teach "admit nothing, deny everything and counter accuse" anymore? she thought as she rubbed her forehead.

Yet when he stated he'd mentioned Pomn, the desire to wrap her hands around his throat and squeeze roared right back to life. The only thing that stopped the urge was the fact that he looked like he'd probably prefer her to just put him out of his misery.

The redhead shifted slightly, turning her so slightly as she first looked up high in the room and then towards the further corner by the wall. There were certain telltale ways to determine if the recording was truly turned off, one being the solid pinpoint greenlight near the corner of the door that turned red when active and the other being the fact that she could tell the system wasn't tracking her movements like it would when it was recording. However, that didn't mean no one was watching.

"You're an idiot. I didn't think you were capable of topping previous stupidity and yet here we are. I don't--"

“I assume from the way you are talking to Ben, we’ve past the point of asking ‘what the **** is wrong with you?" The voice was familiar, soothingly so, but she didn't put the pieces together until it continued to talk.

“Is this why I’ve had so much brass up my ass that I’m spitting up pips, or that everytime I use the refresher I’m practically a human deadbolt? Cause there is only one thing I can think of that would wrangle me into some hot ****ing mess. Somebody mentioned our long ago 'friendly' vacation?”

Tyra turned at the voice, her long hair whipping at the fast movement. She blinked for a second and then, a slow smile curled her lips, warm and affectionate. Her feet seemed to move on autopilot, her right hand gently tugging on his uniform jacket to straighten it -- and probably to make sure it was real.

"Those look good on you," she said softly, her other hand reaching up to smooth the pips on his collar.

She'd just reached the last pip when it seemed the smile almost melted off her face, her bottom lip pulled between her teeth in a look Nathan had likely only seen one other time, in the middle of a deserted corridor deep in the heart of the Getty.

"Did he call you here?" She asked, though she didn't give Nathan a chance to answer before she was turning on Elias with lightning speed. "Did you call him?"

She shifted back towards her former position. "Because while I understand you two share a single brain cell capable of making good decisions and I'd say it's fair to say that Nathan has primary custody at the moment, even your dumbest brain cells, devoid of all common sense, should be able to see how stupid each decision you've made has been."

"In fact, there's only one scenario where all of these decisions make even a little sense, especially your decisions to bring certain things to light and to talk without any representation. And I'd like to think you aren't that stupid but look where we are..."

She shifted closer to the forcefield, her lips centimeters from the energy field. Clearly she knew exactly how close she could get. "So I'm going to ask you this once and if I found out that you lied to me here, I will bury you so deep that you will wish the Federation practiced executions," her words were low, low enough that Nathan likely would have had to step forward to hear her.

"Are you selling someone down the ******* river? And I don't mean me but if I found out you're taking him or Cera... Or even Damian or Jenny on a ride with you, I will ******* end you."

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#31
== Not Enough Drama Timeline ==

There was a slightly awkward pause for a few moments as Tyra seemed to digest the question and how to answer it. When she did finally start to say something, Mara thought she was about to give an empty answer and change the subject, but then she seemed to think better of it.

"No, everything is a mess," she finally answered.

Her candour was a surprise - a welcome one, for sure, but still a surprise. Mara hadn’t figured the two were close enough to warrant Tyra being this open with her.

If I was bein’ paranoid I’d figure on her decidin’ not to bullshit another Security officer, given we’re both paid to spot when people are hidin’ somethin’. But I don’t think that’s what this is. Maybe there’s a chance here to actually be somethin’ more than just workmates here. I know, I know. Professional distance. But still.

As she listened, taking a sip of her coffee, Calleja felt her protective instincts start to stir. The Bandaran felt responsible for keeping everyone on Artemis safe, heedless of their position or hers. Hell, that was why she’d led a raid on a base in the middle of nowhere to extricate Sydesh from potentially lethal trouble. Reconciling that instinct with the legal shitstorm that was falling down around so many people though… That was tough.

I hate watchin’ from the sideline but that’s all I’m gonna be able to do.

"Though something could be said for a rager that ends in a full bare knuckle brawl, particularly if I can choose the victim. I've got a few in mind that would be most deserving," Crawford finished.

“Oh, I got a list too,” Mara replied. “If I ever figure out who gave us those orders we just had to carry out, they’re gonna need 24/7 protection and it still ain’t gonna help ‘em.” She pulled her lips back and bared her teeth in a feral smile. “Can’t leave all the legal trouble to you guys. Who else is gonna keep Elias safe in jail?”

There was a mischievous spark in her eyes as she joked around. Calleja’s sense of humour often cut a little close to the bone and this was almost certainly no exception.

“I can’t pretend to offer any actual useful advice,” Mara continued. “But if you need a sparrin’ partner at stupid o’clock in the mornin’, or someone to watch your back when you go rippin’ through a bar of an evenin’, you can always give me a shout. You and me goin’ full sisters-in-arms in Quark’s would give the Security forces here somethin’ to think about, that’s for damn sure.”

The feral smile was still on her lips as she leaned forward to raid her second huli.

== Back atcha! ==
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#32
==Okay, Now it’s an idiot sandwich timeline==

For a moment – just a moment – Benjamin was happy to see Nathan walk in the door, and sporting two pips, no less. Evidently the curse that seemed to have afflicted his career had been broken.

Then his friend laid into him with only slightly less gusto than his CO had. “Is this why I’ve had so much brass up my ass that I’m spitting up pips?” Nathan asked as part of the harangue. “Somebody mentioned our long ago ‘friendly’ vacation?”

Nathan showing up seemed to have made Tyra happy – only for a moment, of course, but it was still good to see. And then she was back on the attack as well. Which was just as well; it was just better that way. “No, I didn’t—” he started, but she never heard him speak.

“Because while I understand you two share a single brain cell capable of making good decisions and I’d say it’s fair to say that Nathan has primary custody at the moment,” she filibustered, “even your dumbest brain cells, devoid of all common sense, should be able to see how stupid each decision you’ve made has been.”

She was absolutely right, of course. He one hundred percent could see that, at least now. Hindsight is a terrible thing, he thought. Benjamin had absolutely no trouble looking back at the chain of decisions he’d made over the past month – damn, had it really only been that long? It felt like a year – since he’d acted like a total idiot upon seeing Cera and Dayune together. It had been so innocent, and he’d been such an idiot ever since. Even recognizing that he’d been an idiot had only made things worse, as he’d gone from one bad decision to the next to the next, not stopping to rest and gather himself before considering his actions.

And now here he was, and his friends were paying the price for his stupidity.

Tyra continued, shifting closer to the forcefield as she did so, her voice pitched low. “So I’m going to ask you this once,” she said, her suspicions creeping higher and higher, “and if I found out that you lied to me here, I will bury you so deep that you will wish the Federation practiced executions.

“Are you selling someone down the ******* river? And I don’t mean me but if I found out you’re taking him, or Cera… or even Damian or Jenny on a ride with you, I will ******* end you.”

That did it. He hadn’t been sure anything could, with how far he’d dug himself into this depressive hole and tried to pull it in after him, but he felt his blood boil. He’d taken the fury and the anger from his friends because he knew he deserved it. Some part of him had welcomed it as his due. But this?

“Tyra,” he said in a low, burning voice, “I will stand here and let you question my intelligence, because you’re damn right that I’ve been an idiot. I will stand here and let you question my choices, because you’re absolutely right that I’ve made every last one of them wrong.

“But I will be ******* damned before I stand here and let you question my motives. Every last thing I did was an attempt – misguided, sure; not well thought out, I can agree – to protect you all. You are my friends, my family when I needed it most. If you truly think that I’d do anything other than give myself up to protect you, then you can get the hell out of here right now and sell me out to that damned lieutenant out front.”

He didn’t know when he’d stood up. It wasn’t until the static cleared from his fake eye that he realized he’d been seeing it in his good eye, too – the forcefield was mere millimeters away from his face. He took a step back and nearly collapsed onto the bunk, what little energy he had had expended.

His face hung down into his hands, and Benjamin wept.

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#33
== <in a Homer voice> Mmmmm, idiot sandwich... timeline ==

When Tyra whipped about, there was an instinct within Nathan that told him he was about to get all of that rage turned toward him. That was because it had been instilled in him. It was a part of him and his history with Tyra and Ben. Again, he had deserved much of it, but still got away with more than he rightly should have. Somehow, he’d had managed to endear himself to Tyra despite… everything.

It was the smile that disarmed his inclination to start dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging. Seeing Tyra switch from rage to happiness felt weird, but Nathan was grateful for the change. As she fiddled with his jacket Ramius’ eyes traced her visage, comparing the face he knew in his memories, and the one before him now. If time had passed, and probably no small amount of continued stress, it certainly didn’t show on her face beyond the state of her hair.

"Those look good on you.”

“Thanks,” he nearly choked on the word as his cheeks began to flush and emotions filled his throat.

Hearing those words, said with pride, definitely felt good after all the years he’d spent making Tyra miserable. A lot of work had gone into making a change, and the work wasn’t done either. Nathan wasn’t sure if it ever would be, so long as he was in the fleet. It meant more though coming from Tyra. She’d seen him at his worst. Coached him. Tried to bring him back up from the muck. To finally show her that all her work wasn’t in vain, that he hadn’t wasted his second, third, or however many chances she’d given him; it made the trip worth it. Even if there was something darkly dire underlying the proceedings. Something which reared itself in Tyra’s face.

It took a fantastic amount of willpower not to recoil from Tyra as her expression morphed. Instantly he was a Midshipman again, in some corridor or subdeck of the Gettysburg, about to get his first taste of true Crawford rage. Shivers ran down his spine as other memories and feelings came flooding back from that time. The face of one particular creature sizzled as it jumped from his mind and into his periphery. The monumental shift from elation to abyssal dread made his heart palpitate.

"Did he call you here?"

Even if Nathan could have roused himself from being stunned, Tyra didn’t give him enough time to answer.

"Did you call him?"

“No, I didn’t—”

Back at Ben, Nathan watched as a lock of her auburn hair sizzled and bounced back from the repulsive energy field. He almost stupidly reached out to hold her back, and his hands even rose up from his sides to do so, but Nathan shook the response away; the only way Ben was going to get strangled was if someone was stupid enough to lower the forcefield. And it would be pretty damn stupid to do so. The change of pitch and tone in her voice made Nathan’s skin crawl. Throughout his days long ordeal of being interrogated by so many other officers, not one of them ever managed to come close to creating such a visceral reaction in him.

Looking at Ben, Nathan’s eyes were compassionate as Tyra laid into him. He had wanted a reunion between them all, but not like this; especially because Ramius hadn’t been sure that a reunion would even be possible. Nathan had zero idea what the hell was going on. He hadn’t been on their most recent mission, and any digging he did turned into instant scrutiny and a litany of questions. It got to a point where he thought that both Elias and Crawford finally found a fight they couldn’t get out of. Sure, he’d been pissed about being grilled on Pomn, but his heart had also been heavy, worried that the worst had happened.

Tyra moved even closer to the forcefield, and Nathan thought for sure her face was gonna bounce off of it. Instead, it was the closest he’d ever seen someone get without getting a zap. Ramius drew forward, suddenly and stupidly worrying that maybe Tyra knew something about forcefields that he didn’t.

"Are you selling someone down the ******* river?”

Reacting immediately, Nathan’s hand rose up and he touched his face. Of all the people, in all the galaxy, he couldn’t ever see Elias doing such a thing. Perhaps it was because of their shared history. Coming up on the Gettysburg and then the Artemis together, and all the stupid shit they had both gotten into. But of anything, it definitely was because of what had happened on Pomn. The things that never once again saw the light of day after that particular mess, and everything they had gone through together on that trip, had created a bond. How many years had it been since all of that happened, and nothing, not even a peep about it, had come up until now? And why now? Why wait? Ben could have easily done whatever Tyra was accusing him of years ago; there was plenty of deep knowledge he had on all sorts of things. Plus, what would he get out of it? Anything he would have said about Nathan or Tyra, or even Cera, would have implicated himself just as much if not more.

After Tyra’s tirade, hearing the switch in Ben’s voice turned Nathan’s attention straight to him. The words came out like a burst firing phaser cannon, strategically aimed with precision and at a frequency that could bypass shields. Seeing them both stand so close together, and yet so very far apart, hurt Nathan.

What the actual **** did happen? he wondered.

Nathan approached Tyra and comfortingly put his hands on the sides of her shoulders, offering the contact as some small form of solace, as Elias burst into tears. He would have given Ben the biggest hug he could, but that was impossible. He didn’t know what to say, or even what to do. Nathan was so close to both of them, yet somehow never felt so far removed from them as he did in that moment. It was beyond understanding to know if he could even help them, and it felt worse to think that all he could do might be to provide comfort. Ramius wanted to do something to help, but everything he thought of just led to more questions from those looking to tank Ben, and Tyra’s, careers.

“Ben,” Nathan’s voice wavered just a little, “I never meant… my words earlier were harsh. I’m in the dark about whatever has happened out there. I just know that whatever did, has brought down a whole heap of thunder and fury on everyone’s heads. Me staying out of this, as much as I can, will probably be the best for all three of us; because all I can do is make it worse.”

Even if Nathan wanted to, there was no saving Ben now. Offering up himself in Ben’s place wouldn’t happen, he knew. They’d just take them both down. It would just demolish their careers, Tyra’s, and maybe even Cera’s too. A surge of feelings slammed into him, and a forceful urge to give his brother a hug shook his core; to bring in all three of them for a hug. It ripped at his chest just how much it all felt unfair. Yet here they were, yelling and sobbing in a brig. A reunion that should have been much more celebratory.

“We should probably go,” he finally said after a moment to Tyra, “before someone sees all of us together and assumes we are colluding.”

Then his focus went back to Ben.

“When all of this is over and the dust settles a fair bit, I owe you a distillery, Ben,” Nathan half-joked, because what he actually owed him was probably closer to a whole damn franchise.

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#34
It felt like a rock dropped straight to her gut as her words clearly found their mark. She wish she could have said they'd been aimed with the purpose of bringing just a little fight to Ben, that they'd been aimed with a little less malice, but right that second, she felt like she was clawing for any purchase on a mountain side that was constantly changing and all she was doing was making it worse.

The burning in the back of her throat matched the burning behind her eyes as she closed her eyes, her head tipping forward just enough that she felt the tiny whisps of hair that framed her face singe. "I'm sorry. I don't... I'm sorry," she said, her voice cracking uncharacteristically.

She wasn't sure whether Nathan was trying to keep her from tipping into the forcefield when his hands grasped her shoulders or if he was trying to offer some level of comfort. What she did know was that he was right to be worried about the former as she heard Ben weeping, knowing that she'd cut that path when she should have been doing the exact opposite. She should have been protecting him, that had been the plan, not tearing him down.

"****..." She wanted to bat Nathan's hands away out of defiance, to summon some more of her anger to drown out the guilt that was swirling and gnawing, but instead, one of her hands betrayed her, squeezing one of his in silent appreciation.

She could hear Nathan apologizing over the rushing of blood in her ears and she took the chance to rock back slightly, her hand finding its way to her face in an attempt to swipe away any liquid that might have escaped. She knew she wasn't fully successful but she also wasn't sure she cared.

She had been so certain that the cards had been dealt in their favor for once. Yes, the mission had been terrible and unfair but the evidence had been plausibly destroyed. There was no way anyone would believe an eyewitness of two from the Philly of all places over her but Ben... loyal, good but stupid Ben had taken it up on himself to fall on the sword like an idiot.

“We should probably go,” Nathan finally said after a moment to Tyra, “before someone sees all of us together and assumes we are colluding.”

She swallowed, her head nodding ever so slightly but she didn't move even as Nathan offered what sounded an awful lot like a good bye. But given all the cards that were on the table at the moment, maybe that was warranted, maybe it was needed.

"Ben... I don't want you to think that's what I think of you. I'm sorry. You..." She swallowed, trying to force the lump in her throat back down to a manageable position. It wouldn't budge, kind of like she couldn't quite blink away the stinging in her eyes. "I could not have asked for a better Chief, a better officer or a better friend. You have exceeded every expectation I've had. I just wish you hadn't tried to fall on my sword," she said, the last punctuated by what might have been a sniffle.

She turned just a little so she could see both Nathan and Ben, her blue eyes shining just a little. "I love you both as if you were my flesh and blood so I mean it when I say I will do everything in my power to keep you out of this and you from gutting yourself further. Just let me this time, I owe you both that much," she said softly, almost pleading.

"And for the love of everything holy, please keep your mouth shut until your rep gets here. Please," she added, her voice taking on just a hint of edge, likely as a deflection, but it was entirely lacking from her expression as she watched Ben for a second longer before turning away.

He was by no means the first officer of hers she'd visited in the bridge but usually, they were there fully of their own stupidity. While Ben had certainly hastened his arrival with his own stupidity, she couldn't help but feel that she'd paved his road to Hell and that was a sickening feeling that she wasn't certain she could make peace with.

"What a mess..." she muttered softly.

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#35
==Cronología de Telenovela==
 
Benjamin heard Nathan and Tyra speak, but their words barely registered. He heard them both nearly in tears, and looked up, hands crossed across his stomach as he saw Nathan trying to comfort Tyra. God, he’d never seen her like this.
 
To be fair, they hadn’t seen him like this either.
 
“We should probably go,” Nathan was saying, “before someone sees all of us together and assumes we are colluding.” He turned back towards the cell before adding “When all of this is over and the dust settles a fair bit, I owe you a distillery.”
 
He couldn’t help but chuckle, but that started the tears back up again, though not as hard. "Ben,” she started, “I don't want you to think that's what I think of you. I'm sorry. You…" She trailed off, and he could see her working, trying to speak without the tears forcing their way through. "I could not have asked for a better Chief, a better officer or a better friend. You have exceeded every expectation I've had. I just wish you hadn't tried to fall on my sword," she said, the last punctuated by what might have been a sniffle.

She turned just enough to see them both, a shine across her eyes. "I love you both as if you were my flesh and blood so I mean it when I say I will do everything in my power to keep you out of this and you from gutting yourself further,” she said, punctuating her comments to the disaster duo. “Just let me this time, I owe you both that much."

"And for the love of everything holy, please keep your mouth shut until your rep gets here. Please," she added, a hard edge touching her words but not her face, and definitely not her eyes, as she finally turned away.
 
Tyra and Nathan turned towards the door, and the captain muttered something under her breath just as the door opened and another person walked in. “Well,” she said, “it certainly is.”
 
Had she been standing in a crowd, Ben doubted he would have noticed her. She wasn’t tall, she was pretty but in that ‘girl next door’ way that wouldn’t have her stick out of a crowd. But she had a bearing here, in this place, that said she knew she was in control. She carried a small briefcase with her, her auburn hair cut short likely in an attempt to make it easier to deal with. Just peeking above her uniform collar was the edge of a tattoo, the top of an anchor with the Starfleet emblem.
 
“I almost wish I was the prosecutor right now,” she said as she set the case on the room’s lone table. “Because seeing all three of my potential defendants having a discussion after one of them was arrested would just be an absolute field day, particularly if there were any extraneous recording devices that I had managed to place other than the main security system that someone, very conveniently, had switched off.”
 
She looked at the two visitors coolly before the corner of her mouth betrayed a grin, and pulled a tricorder from her bag; it was blinking green. “Of course, the first thing two talented security officers like yourselves – I’m sorry, Captain, former security officer – would have done is check for any of that. Like I myself have just done.”
 
She sighed and began pulling out padds. “I know this isn’t a good situation, and I know you are all friends. But I have to ask you to leave, now, so I can confer with my client on this case now. I know you have been questioned already, Lieutenant Ramius” – she held up a padd meaningfully and set it down – “and I expect you can expect some similar questions soon, Captain Crawford. However, if you think of anything that might be useful, feel free to let me know.”
 
Finished with her preparations, she walked around the table. “I’m Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie Rabb, and I’ll be here on the station for the duration. Now, please, get out.”
 
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#36
==Same timeframe as Coffee Timeline==

Jaein and his wife walked down the promenade, arm in arm, and he couldn’t have been happier. He hadn’t been on Deep Space Nine in fifteen years, and yet it hadn’t changed a bit. Sure, the shops were different, some of the shops that had been around then had different owners now, and things like that. But the atmosphere of the place hadn’t changed a bit. “It feels like home,” he said to Mary Ellen, and gave her hand a squeeze.

“No,” she said teasingly, her bright eyes shining, “home is where we just came from, down on the farm in Rakantha.”

He chuckled, his own eyes twinkling. “Fair enough,” he said. It was the family homestead, of course, which his son ran now that his father had passed. Jaein was an engineer, and had no interest in farming; neither had his brothers. It was gratifying, then, that his son Polda had decided to take up the family d’jarra and keep the farm, even as his sister Helen had decided to follow his path into Starfleet.

“But you know what I mean,” he said, and she nodded beside him. When Jaein had been a much younger man, he had been initiated into the ranks of the engineers right here on Deep Space Nine, cutting his teeth on so many types of starships, transports, freighters, and shuttles during the Dominion War that he couldn’t even remember all of them. Although at 53, he wasn’t about to admit to forgetting things like that lest someone question his memory as a whole.

He was a tall man, broad of shoulder; likely a legacy from his farmer ancestors, which he’d helped along working as an engineer for most of his life. The bajoran man still had a good bit of muscle across that frame, though age was beginning to take its toll, along with the years of managerial work he’d been doing at the 40 Eridani A shipyards, running one of their primary production lines for the Vesta-class. But his eyes were bright and friendly, and he couldn’t stop smiling as he walked through the crowded avenue. The earring jangled in his ear, just barely heard above the crowd noise even with it being right in his ear, dampened a little by his short, salt-and-pepper (mostly salt these days) hair.

Mary Ellen, by contrast, was slightly built and average height. Her hair was still black as the day they had met when her research group had stopped at the station on their way to Bajor proper, though he knew that it mostly was artificial these days. She was human, having come as part of a Federation biology group meant to help rejuvenate the soil of Bajor after the Occupation had ended, but they had found a spark from that first meeting, which blossomed into love and marriage not long thereafter. Her long blue dress contrasted his deep red shirt, and she couldn’t help but smile either as she looked around. “Yes,” she finally replied after a long, comfortable silence. “Yes I do.”

He guided them into a little cafe, ‘Kikar’s’ the signboard outside read, and they took a table to sit and watch the people go by. “Are you sure you’ll be alright while I’m busy with work?” he asked her as a waitress brought them tea. He could smell other patrons drinking coffee or eating pastries, but he’d always preferred a hot tea.

“Yeah,” she said with a wave of her hand - she had gotten a huli and a glass of iced tea, which was a taste that Jaein had never acquired despite their thirty-plus years together. “I saw several fun shops along the promenade I wanted to visit, and it's always easier to buy things when you’re otherwise occupied.” She smiled over her glass at him, a devilish gleam lighting her eyes.

“Just don’t spend money we don’t have,” he teased her back with a chuckle. “And I expect to see everything you bought when I get back to our quarters tonight.”

“Of course,” she said brightly. “You think everything’s okay? I know he hasn’t gotten back to you about your tour today.”

Jaein waved it off as he set his glass back down. “Nah, it should be fine,” he said. “Ben seemed a little… preoccupied when we talked last week, and honestly had for a while. I think he had some personal life things going on, though I’ve heard the past couple of missions Artemis went on were classified.

“He probably just needs a break and a friend.” Jaein smiled and watched the people going by for a moment. “And besides, I’ve never met an engineer that didn’t love showing off his work. It’ll be fine; he could probably use the distraction a visit would bring.”
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#37
== Coffee ==

“Oh, I got a list too,” Mara replied. “If I ever figure out who gave us those orders we just had to carry out, they’re gonna need 24/7 protection and it still ain’t gonna help ‘em.” She pulled her lips back and bared her teeth in a feral smile. “Can’t leave all the legal trouble to you guys. Who else is gonna keep Elias safe in jail?”

Tyra chuckled, even though she knew she shouldn't, but there was something comforting about the gallows humor that seemed to infect most of security, past and present. "At this rate, there might be a whole cellblock of us and yet, we still wouldn't be able to stop Elias from… y'know," she trailed off as she realized it probably wasn't common knowledge how everything had transpired.

"Regardless, we should compare lists. I have a feeling they probably share some entries, though probably with differing orders. I personally have a bigger issue with the idiots that just left us out there over the ones that sent us there in the first place but that's probably just me," she commented with a shrug and a little grin.

There was a light pause as they sipped their coffee but it was by no means awkward. It was almost comfortable, which was something considering everything going on. Tyra wasn't certain she'd had a conversation that hadn't been either a yelling match, a crying match or just frankly uncomfortable since all this had started and this was a welcomed change of pace.

“I can’t pretend to offer any actual useful advice,” Mara continued. “But if you need a sparrin’ partner at stupid o’clock in the mornin’, or someone to watch your back when you go rippin’ through a bar of an evenin’, you can always give me a shout. You and me goin’ full sisters-in-arms in Quark’s would give the Security forces here somethin’ to think about, that’s for damn sure.”

For a moment, Tyra had a momentary flashback to a bar brawl she and Treborn had fallen into over ten years before and she could only assume a bar brawl involving her and Calleja would end up in much the same carnage. The difference was that Tyra was now, unfortunately, mature enough to understand that no amount of throwing punches would actually fix an issue nor would it actually make her feel better in the long run.

"Be careful what you volunteer for. Not the bar brawl… I think I'm about a decade too old for that nonsense but I have definitely been beating the crap out of Thorsdottir at about 0200 most nights. She can hold her own but she's better with a weapon in hand than using her hands as weapons so I can only assume she will eventually tap out. Or convince me that we need to start swinging battle axes at each other. We have a 'No Weapons' rule for a reason," Tyra added the last with a grin.

The grin had shifted to a more thoughtful look by the time Tyra had finished her next sip of coffee. "For someone with a very promising career ahead of them, you're offering to commit an awful lot of crimes. I don't need to be worried that I'm going to have to visit you in the brig too, am I? I really can't afford to lose a second good security officer in a week; as demonstrated recently, good security officers are hard to find and good ones with backbones are almost unicorns."

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#38
== Angriest Unicorn Timeline ==

“She can hold her own but she's better with a weapon in hand than using her hands as weapons so I can only assume she will eventually tap out. Or convince me that we need to start swinging battle axes at each other. We have a 'No Weapons' rule for a reason," Tyra said.

I’m actually pretty glad she ain’t gonna take me up on that. I haven’t sparred with a person since… Well. Ever, pretty much. Maybe once or twice I don’t really remember. And I don’t plan on startin’ any time soon.

Mara’s lethality at close quarters wasn’t exactly a secret. Bare handed, with a blade, with an improvised weapon, it didn’t really matter. The Bandaran could punch way above her weight and frequently did. But at the same time, she stubbornly refused to spar, and wouldn’t even countenance the idea of boxing or anything like it. She’d grown up in an environment so saturated with violence that the idea it could be sport or entertainment was one she found utterly repellant.

"For someone with a very promising career ahead of them, you're offering to commit an awful lot of crimes. I don't need to be worried that I'm going to have to visit you in the brig too, am I? I really can't afford to lose a second good security officer in a week; as demonstrated recently, good security officers are hard to find and good ones with backbones are almost unicorns."

The compliment made Mara’s face flush. She was appallingly bad at taking praise, and even though her caramel skin didn’t go the kind of luminous red that those with more caucasian tones could, she was apparently still giving it a good go.

“Yeah, well…” she started, before taking a sip of coffee and rallying. Calleja had heard about Miller’s lateral move third hand and was still struggling to come to terms with it.

“I heard about Aeryn,” she said. “I… I don’t get it. I’m sure there’s some context there, but right now I don’t know what that is and I haven’t had the chance to talk to her. If she’s happy, I guess it’s none of my damn business. But still. I don’t get it.” She shrugged.

“As for me, no, you don’t have to worry about me. There’s a big gap between what I’ll joke about with a friend over coffee, and what I’ll actually do. I don’t know how much of my file you’ve read but it ain’t one of those that’s all good news and sweetness and light. I’ve been attached to some pretty big fuck-ups and had to rebuild after. Try bein’ attached to protect a diplomatic mission, and that mission not only gettin’ blown to shit but the VIPs you’re tryin’ to protect ignorin’ you completely and walkin’ out into a crossfire.”

The memories of the Tormance debacle were deeply unwelcome, as well as those of the breakdown that Mara had worked herself into shortly afterwards trying to atone for it. She drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly before continuing.

“I come from a violent deathtrap of a planet in the arse end of the galaxy. I had to fight my way off Bandar, make the transition to Star Fleet officer, rebuild my career twice now, and somehow I’ve still managed to end up on Artemis and make a real go of it. Everythin’ I’ve got, I’ve earned the hard way, and I’m not gonna chuck it away lightly. I would dearly love to sneak in to some SF:I prick’s room and shank him in his sleep. And I’d back myself to do it too. But I won’t. Because I can do way more good from where I am than from a cell in a penal colony. I know what it's like to have nothin’ and I’ll be damned if I’m ever gonna let myself end up back there.”

A surprising amount of passion had snuck into Mara’s voice as she spoke. She believed every word of what she was saying.

“So yeah. I hope I can be your angriest unicorn for a while yet,” Calleja said with a wry smile. “I’ll find targets I can actually shoot at. For your sake and the new Chief.”

== Back atcha! ==
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#39
== Today's Episode of El Atrevido, El Dramático y El Tonto ==

“Well,” a woman said from am few steps into the room after having evaluated what she was looking at, “it certainly is.”

There was a split second where it felt like being caught by the principal in the middle of doing something she shouldn't have been doing. A split second where Tyra forgot that she was a captain with every bit of authority and gravitas, not that she currently looked the part, but it was only a second before her spine straightened ever so slightly and her shoulders rolled back.

“I almost wish I was the prosecutor right now,” the woman said as she set the case on the room’s lone table. “Because seeing all three of my potential defendants having a discussion after one of them was arrested would just be an absolute field day, particularly if there were any extraneous recording devices that I had managed to place other than the main security system that someone, very conveniently, had switched off.”

Even though Tyra could absolutely acknowledge that the woman, clearly Elias' representative, was correct, she wasn't going to give an inch on that. Instead, Tyra tilted her head just a little defiantly as if she dared the woman to keep going after the week the redhead had crawled through. Tyra was more than prepared to take the security approach to dealing with JAG, which was to tell them where to shove their high horse, but it seemed she wouldn't need to today.

“Of course, the first thing two talented security officers like yourselves – I’m sorry, Captain, former security officer – would have done is check for any of that. Like I myself have just done.”

It wasn't the first time Tyra considered that her actions, driven by sheer rage and incredibility, had not been wise. In fact, they could probably be placed into the same category as Ben's own stupidity but what was another shovel full of dirt out of the hole they were digging?

“I know this isn’t a good situation, and I know you are all friends. But I have to ask you to leave, now, so I can confer with my client on this case now. I know you have been questioned already, Lieutenant Ramius” – she held up a padd meaningfully and set it down – “and I expect you can expect some similar questions soon, Captain Crawford. However, if you think of anything that might be useful, feel free to let me know.”

Tyra couldn't help the way her lips pulled into a grimace at the news, though she should have foreseen that reality now that there was a confession at play. It seemed that was probably the next thing she needed to work on because, unlike an idiot nearby, she had no intentions of answering anything without representation.

“I’m Lieutenant Commander Mackenzie Rabb, and I’ll be here on the station for the duration. Now, please, get out.”

"Maybe you'll have better luck getting him to put the shovel down…. He apparently doesn't know when to stop," she commented, sending a pointed look towards Ben at the end. "You're in good hands, Ben, but please listen to her."

There was a sigh on her lips as she turned once more, glancing at Ramius. "Need a drink? Because I think I need one or five…"

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#40
== Angriest Unicorn ==

Tyra didn't miss the flush that slowly spread across Calleja's cheeks at her compliment and she hide the grin it caused behind a sip of coffee. Even people with the seemingly hardest edges could be taken off guard by a genuine, earned compliment and it seemed Calleja was no exception, which was worth making note of.

“I heard about Aeryn,” she said, possibly to avoid the compliment. “I… I don’t get it. I’m sure there’s some context there, but right now I don’t know what that is and I haven’t had the chance to talk to her. If she’s happy, I guess it’s none of my damn business. But still. I don’t get it.”

"I don't either," Tyra agreed. "I mean, during wartime, it's really common to see young security officers flee to other departments after getting a taste of what real war is like, when they learn that it's not all glory, honor and victory but you don't typically see established officers with good records make the jump. But Da- Coleman spoke to her and seemed confident that it was truly what she wanted and needed so who am I to tell someone what's best for them?" A tiny shrug accompanied the statement as if she still didn't quite believe it, even if she believed Coleman.

“As for me, no, you don’t have to worry about me. There’s a big gap between what I’ll joke about with a friend over coffee, and what I’ll actually do. I don’t know how much of my file you’ve read but it ain’t one of those that’s all good news and sweetness and light. I’ve been attached to some pretty big fuck-ups and had to rebuild after. Try bein’ attached to protect a diplomatic mission, and that mission not only gettin’ blown to shit but the VIPs you’re tryin’ to protect ignorin’ you completely and walkin’ out into a crossfire.”

Tyra didn't miss the "friend" comment and she found it didn't bother her like it maybe should have. Oh, if you went strictly by the command playbook, a captain was suppose to remain removed and aloof from her officers, knowing them but not being truly known by them. Yet, Tyra had never been successful in truly implementing that. She'd been promoted initially in place from first officer to commanding officer, making it impossible to walk back the relationships she had built as first officer, and from there, she'd never really tried. Oh, she was careful about trying to maintain balance with her officers and she would never have some of the carefree friendships that she had with peers but she considered numerous of her officers, past and present, to be friends. There were drawbacks, as the situation with Ben showed, but she couldn't regret that friendship or any of them. It made them a better unit and maybe, in the future, she'd count Calleja in that group.

She smiled as Mara made an impassioned about not throwing her hard earned rebuild away, even if someone in Intel deserved to be shanked for their stupidity. It was the type of rally that some might find concerning but Tyra saw it for what it was. She was sure she had made similar statements to Derrick in what felt like a different life.

“So yeah. I hope I can be your angriest unicorn for a while yet,” Calleja said with a wry smile. “I’ll find targets I can actually shoot at. For your sake and the new Chief.”

The redhead genuinely laughed, almost choking on the last mouthful of coffee before managing to get it down. "We should get that on a patch. A unicorn dual wielding chainsaws would make quite the impression on the Cardassians the next time we see them," she said with a chuckle.

It was a moment or two before she wiped the grin off her lips for a more serious expression. "Any ideas for where to look for an acting Chief while we find a more permanent solution? Damian could fill the role if needed but he already has a lot on his plate and everyone reaching out with recommendations are all giving me ridiculously young and idealistic officers. My track record with idealistic security officers isn't great…"

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#41
== Angriest Unicorn ==

There was a grin on Mara’s lips as she made Tyra laugh. The Bandaran’s habit of keeping people at arm’s length until she started to trust them meant that this side of her was rarely seen, but the sense of humour was there and she could be warm and engaging when she wanted to be. Her upbringing had taught her to keep that aspect of her personality under wraps and it was a lesson that was taking a while to unpick.

"We should get that on a patch. A unicorn dual wielding chainsaws would make quite the impression on the Cardassians the next time we see them," the Captain said with a chuckle.

“I think I know someone who can draw. I’ll call in the favour,” Calleja replied with a waspish smile.

The Amazonian officer drained her coffee mug and set it down on the table. She caught the waiter’s eye and ordered a round of refills with a nod and a thumbs up.

"Any ideas for where to look for an acting Chief while we find a more permanent solution?” Tyra had gone almost poker-faced. “Damian could fill the role if needed but he already has a lot on his plate and everyone reaching out with recommendations are all giving me ridiculously young and idealistic officers. My track record with idealistic security officers isn't great…"

Mara tilted her head. She was an experienced interrogator and liked to think she could read people and their intentions. Most of the nuance in her profession wasn’t just what was said. It was how it was said, and what wasn’t said. And there was a lot going on here under the surface.

What’s she askin’ me? she thought to herself. She knows the department because it used to be hers. She’s got friends and people she trusts all through the ranks. She knows who’s good and who isn’t. So I don’t think she’s askin’ me for recommendations. She’s got someone in mind. Someone ’young and idealistic…’ That could apply to a lot of people though. If I narrow it down to people that I can actually give an opinion on and could be in the frame for this…

There was the faintest trace of a twitch on her face as a thought struck her. Calleja suppressed it quickly but not quick enough to hide it from a seasoned pro like Crawford.

Fuck. It can’t be me, can it? I as good as told her to fuck off in the middle of her own briefin’! And I’ve had that assistant job for like 10 minutes. Her mind raced as she tried to dismiss the very idea of it. But… I have got the job, and it does give me seniority. I’m clingin’ onto my 20s and that little rant I went on woulda made me look idealistic. Maybe she sees somethin’. She already said she sees similarities… Shit. How do I play this? Do I ignore the possibility? Play it straight and work through names? Or just fuckin’ go for it. If there’s even half a chance the big job is on the table, I’ve gotta shoot my shot. How often do these chances come up?

“That’s a loaded question,” Mara replied eventually. “You don’t strike me as someone who asks somethin’ like that unless you’ve already thought about it. So yeah, I could sit here and we could go through the pros and cons of the senior officers we already got, plus the obvious candidates we could poach from outside. But I think you already know all of that, and you want to be convinced one way or the other about someone you’re mullin’ over.”

She paused, taking the time to pick her words as best she could.

“I also don’t think you have an objection to young officers in senior places. Look at Mayfair, Miller and Grant. You can still mould younger officers, steer them to do things the right way. I do think you’ve been burned by idealists before though. And to an extent we’re all idealists. We’re not out here for the money or the power. We’re doin’ it ‘cause we believe in the cause. Even those of us that might look bitter and cynical wanna make a difference, leave the place a little better than how we found it. But it’s temperin’ those ideals with a heavy dose of pragmatism and common fuckin’ sense. Those are lessons you have to learn the hard way.”

There was a moment’s hesitation. Calleja found that she couldn’t quite bring herself to come out and say what she wanted to say, and she cursed herself for tripping over her own tongue at the last moment.

“But yeah. I think you do have someone who could fit the bill. They are a work in progress. They have rough edges still that need to be worked on. But they could also be the one to give you some long-term stability at COS. The potential’s there, they want to learn and they want to stick around. If their name comes up in recommendations, make sure those doin’ the recommendin’ have been psych assessed recently. But there are definitely worse options out there, glowin’ recommendation that that is right there.”

She cracked a wry smile and shook her head slowly, still irritated at herself and her talent for self-deprecation.

You coward…

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#42
== Angriest Unicorn ==

Tyra could almost see the wheels turning in Calleja's head as the taller woman tried to parse out exactly what the redhead was angling at with her question. In fact, she nearly saw the lightbulb flicker on when Calleja seemed to consider whether it was a trick question or not. And yet, while Calleja recognized it was a loaded question and was wise enough to realize Tyra wasn't asking the question in small talk, it became clear that Calleja hadn't really understood the intent behind the question. Or maybe, it was something a little more complicated than that…

“I also don’t think you have an objection to young officers in senior places. Look at Mayfair, Miller and Grant. You can still mould younger officers, steer them to do things the right way. I do think you’ve been burned by idealists before though. And to an extent we’re all idealists. We’re not out here for the money or the power. We’re doin’ it ‘cause we believe in the cause. Even those of us that might look bitter and cynical wanna make a difference, leave the place a little better than how we found it. But it’s temperin’ those ideals with a heavy dose of pragmatism and common fuckin’ sense. Those are lessons you have to learn the hard way.”

Tyra had to nod along with Calleja's rather accurate depiction of both Tyra's evaluation of the current situation and her willingness to take chances on younger officers. In fact, Tyra had likely made it a staple of her command to recruit and mold younger officers; it was one of the few ways Tyra felt she could actually make a difference in the Fleet in its current state. However, she was starting to suspect that it wasn't really that simple; while she had success stories, she also wondered if she hadn't unintentionally forced officers into positions they hadn't actually wanted with Miller being the most recent possible example.

“But yeah. I think you do have someone who could fit the bill. They are a work in progress. They have rough edges still that need to be worked on. But they could also be the one to give you some long-term stability at COS. The potential’s there, they want to learn and they want to stick around. If their name comes up in recommendations, make sure those doin’ the recommendin’ have been psych assessed recently. But there are definitely worse options out there, glowin’ recommendation that that is right there.”

Tyra tilted her head slightly, blue eyes carefully assessing Calleja as she delivered this last cryptic and more than slightly vague piece of answer. There were two options: Calleja wanted to be the candidate but had chickened out on actually selling herself for the spot or Calleja felt obligated to show interest in the spot because well, the captain was asking.

The redhead hummed slightly before taking a sip of her coffee, the last sip of her coffee. It was perfectly timed with the waiter arriving with a refill, which she smiled gratefully for.

"You're right. I should try to steal Ramius from the Crusader. It's not fair that Aitrus gets to reap the rewards of me beating common sense into that boy and all the gray hairs he gave me," she joked, though she supposed Calleja likely didn't know who Ramius was unless his legendary blunders still lived on in the department lore.

Truth be told, she had seriously considered Nathan for the spot; he'd grown into a capable and experienced officer with some experience as Chief under his belt. And realistically, she was confident that if she had asked, he would have come but she couldn't do it good faith. There was a very real possibility that she would not remain in the command chair of Artemis beyond this debacle and there was no way she was going to take him from the stability of Aitrus' command to what might be a roller coaster of change for Artemis.

In fact, that was her argument against bringing most external candidates in for the spot. Oh, there were some promising candidates out there that had been recommended by close associates of hers but they were all officers that would need to be mentored, which was something that was unlikely to occur if she and/or Damian ended up getting moved or worse.

"In all seriousness, though, you're correct. I have done my research since I learned of Miller's decision but I've come across a rather odd dilemma. Well, maybe not a dilemma but an issue that, maybe, has been an issue in the past with my hiring practices that I just hadn't recognized until recently."

The redhead paused, her blue eyes moving to consider her coffee for a moment. Now that it was refilled and hot, the surface once again looked like a swirling galaxy. It was captivating and probably was a great metaphor for her current emotional state.

"Don't take this next part as ego or pride but I'm at a point in my career where I get what I want. If I want an officer for a position, there's a very good chance that I'll be able to get them, regardless of the odds against, but I'm starting to see that it might be a double edged sword in some cases. That some officers might say yes to promotions when offered even if it's not what they want; whether that's because they think I know what's best for them or because they feel some sense of obligation. Like Miller… she was a good Chief but was it ever what she wanted or did she feel like she had to take it because I asked?"

She let that hang for a moment, taking a sip of the coffee and hissing slightly when it was just a little too hot.

"I want to make sure that my next Chief wants the spot, not because they feel it's the obligatory next step or because they feel like it's what I expect of them. Not everyone needs to be a department head and not everyone should be a department head. Some of the best security officers I know will never promote because they don't want the admin work and I respect that. However, that makes this challenging because I really can't afford to play musical chairs at Chief every couple missions because the position ends up not being a good fit."

Not to mention I might not be here to select the next Chief and I damn well need to leave this crew on solid footing.

She shrugged a little before smiling self-deprecatingly. "So any suggestions for not accidentally bullying someone into the Chief position?"

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#43
As she picked up her second coffee and leant back, Mara thought over what she’d heard of Ramius. If this was a few hundred years earlier, she would have known him mostly as a human meme. Unsuccessful and ill-advised romantic encounters. Standing and watching as Command officers took showers. Extremely persistent rumours of a place called Pomn and some Olympic-standard shenanigans that had landed him and Elias in the hottest of water. There were some kind words in amongst all that, but competence was very rarely the subject of gossip. Everyone seemed to much prefer talking about the screw-ups to make themselves feel better about their own decision-making. And given Ramius had left before Calleja arrived, for them to still be talking about him spoke for itself.

But the more Tyra talked, the more Mara was kicking herself for bottling it. It certainly seemed like the Bandaran had been right in her guess and she was being sounded out for the Chief job. That in itself was enough to rattle her that bit more but she was doing a decent job at keeping that particular feeling disguised. And there was absolutely no doubt in her mind that she wanted the job. Lately it had been something of a poisoned chalice but that wasn’t enough to put Mara off. She wanted to stick around on Artemis, not just to build on the relationships she was starting to form with the crew but because she was invested enough to want to keep them all safe.

"So any suggestions for not accidentally bullying someone into the Chief position?"

Crawford laid it out there again and this time Calleja took a deep breath and went for it.

I’m gonna have to break the habit of a lifetime and put myself out there. No choice. I gotta go for it and if I wind up lookin’ like an arsehole, so be it.

“Yeah. Give it me,” she said with a completely straight face. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be cryptic just now. But I know all too well that you got your pick of officers. So for us to be havin’ this conversation, or at least for me to think we’re havin’ this conversation, is pretty mind-blowin’ to tell you the truth. And I’d kill for the chance. I probably already have.”

There was a trail of dead Cardassians that would attest to the truth of that particular statement.

“Admin work sucks. But it’s the price of admission,” the Amazonian officer added. “It has to be done to put people in the best place to succeed. Get them the equipment they need, the cross-trainin’, the experience in the right job. I get a real kick outta watchin’ crew that I’ve trained go on to do well, much like you do. You got your Ramius, the guy who you knocked the rough edges off and is now flyin’ high. I got some of my own success stories but I want more. And to be able to do that whilst keepin’ Artemis crew, my friends and frankly the closest I’ve had to family in a while, safe from themselves and the rest of the universe… Yeah. That’s what I wanna do with my life.”

Mara paused.

“I know I’m not the perfect candidate,” she said. “And I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna do a perfect job because we know that ain’t possible. But I’m ready to give it my best shot. And hell, maybe in a couple of years you’ll be tellin’ people about how that big bitch who derailed a briefin’ in front of 2 crews turned out OK in the end.”

There was a ghost of a smile on her lips as Calleja finished.

Well. There it is. I did it. Now to see if I’ve read this right, or if this is gonna be replicator gossip fodder for the next however many years of my life…
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#44
== Un tonto y su libertad pronto se separados timeline ==

Nathan couldn’t help but give one more sorrowful look to his friend, especially after Tyra declared her feelings. There was so much that he’d gone through with Ben, and it was hard to think that his friend was going to end up paying for it all in the end. In reality, Nathan thought for sure it would be himself taking the fall for Ben or Tyra, not the other way around. Or, be dragged into something where all three of them wouldn’t get out from. The only thing that Nathan could truly hope for now was that whoever was going to be representing Ben was good. Like, real good.

“Well, it certainly is.”

Turning to face the interloper, Nathan could already tell by the air of confidence she carried with her who she was. Several things occurred in his mind all at once, a few of them had different emotions, while some of them were reflexes that he had to tamp down to prevent a verbal explosion. Even her little arraignment of them meeting altogether proved Nathan’s initial response and feelings. However, he did recognize that she wasn’t wrong. Ramius had said as much only moments ago. Though to have it parroted back to him by a lawyer made him silently grind his teeth a little.

This lawyer’s mention of listening devices also brought a refreshed glaring expression onto Nathan’s face. Of course there might be listening devices. Hell, there were usually listening devices upon listening devices. Though he’d been careful not to say anything that couldn’t be easily explained away. After all, they already knew about Pomn. They also knew more than they let on, but Nathan didn’t give them anything they didn’t already know. And what they didn’t know, Ramius dodged around it. It had been hard for him. Nathan rarely, if ever, lied. He could when the situation warranted it, like during a mission, or in a game of poker. Which was actually a boon during the latter, because his face looked the same bluffing as it did telling the truth. There was one person in the room with them that never needed to ask Nathan for candor and veracity; and that was Tyra. There was just something about his relationship with her, where he told her anything and everything if it related to a mission or their chosen careers. It was a curse sometimes, though Nathan supposed he did so because he already felt that Tyra could read him like an open book.

“I know this isn’t a good situation, and I know you are all friends. But I have to ask you to leave, now, so I can confer with my client on this case now. I know you have been questioned already, Lieutenant Ramius…”

Nathan’s mouth opened and was about to bark back, but the well timed production of a prop stopped him just long enough for her to continue. There was nothing on that PADD that had come from Nathan’s lips, not even a peep. In fact, he’d had a scan done to check his memory at the request of some brass asshole because Ramius had answered ‘I don’t recall’ a few too many times. It had been long ago, and it showed just how far they were dredging for material. Be that as it may, Nathan resolved himself to give whoever was building a case absolutely nothing that would help them, save perhaps if the judgmental lawyer representing Ben needed some information to make a good defense.

Tyra spoke next after Mackenzie Rabb had her say. While her words about Ben sounded harsh, Nathan did realize just how much emotion was behind them still. The slightest smirk came to Ramius’ face, and he did an almost imperceptible shake of his head to clear a thought away; whoever had to deal with Tyra for the rest of the day would definitely be in for it. When Tyra glanced back at Nathan, he nodded back at her answer. He didn’t drink that much, and even less since leaving the Artemis, but he definitely felt like at least a few were in order.

“If you need anything that I can provide that might help, but doesn't sink anyone,” Nathan was looking directly at Rabb, a determined face replacing the softer one he’d shown Tyra, “let me know.”

Swinging his head toward his friend, he gave Ben a respectful nod even though his eyes betrayed all of his feelings.

“Good luck Ben. Hopefully Lieutenant Rabb here is better than good and can turn the ship around for you.”

With that said, Nathan placed a hand at Tyra’s back and walked out in search of a strong liquor.

>> AT/D99 - Other Locations >>
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#45
== La Telenovela Le Reina de Los Tontos y La Locura will continue on the Artemis ==

== Angriest Unicorn ==

Tyra leaned back as Calleja surged full steam ahead at the bait, a tiny bit of satisfaction simmer just under the surface. While nothing Tyra had said was a lie, including her insecurity about forcing officers into responsibilities they didn't want, there had been the dual desire to make Calleja advocate for herself. Yes, Tyra preferred humility and humbleness in her officers -- though the Jenny's of the world had their place in her affection -- but she also wanted an officer willing to sell themselves when the time came. While she had no doubt, Calleja could advocate and fight for her people, she'd likely need to learn to take the same care with herself.

“I know I’m not the perfect candidate,” Calleja said. “And I’m not sayin’ I’m gonna do a perfect job because we know that ain’t possible. But I’m ready to give it my best shot. And hell, maybe in a couple of years you’ll be tellin’ people about how that big bitch who derailed a briefin’ in front of 2 crews turned out OK in the end.”

"I'm not looking for perfection or the perfect candidate. The perfect candidate can go to a ship with a young captain whose likely to get everyone killed out of inexperience; I'd rather have the rough edges that can be polished down with enough experience and guidance," Tyra answered confidently, blue eyes watching Calleja over her mug.

Truth be told, Calleja had been both Miller and Damian's recommendation and while Tyra would have preferred to have sat down with Damian to discuss the recommendation, she also hadn't felt there was time to delay this particular conversation for the sake of roping her first officer into an assuredly uncomfortable conversation. And she hadn’t disagreed with either recommendation, though she knew the timing wasn't ideal. There was a very real chance she was setting Calleja up in this spot only to be pulled away before she could make sure she had everything she needed to succeed.

The timing of it all was also why she was considering making Calleja the Chief outright instead of in an acting status as had become her recent habit. The last thing she wanted was to give Calleja acting Chief only to be pulled away and her predecessor have different ideas. It wasn't fair and it wouldn't be setting Artemis up for success. Plus, if she was getting pulled, Calleja had the potential to be the type of pain in the ass that her predecessor deserved, just out of spite.

"Given everything going on, I'm not sure I'm doing you any favors by putting you in this position but I can't think of anyone I'd rather see wearing that jacket," she stated, pausing purposefully before continuing. "Congratulations. It'll be effective at 0800 tomorrow morning, full Chief with no acting but I need you to understand that we are going to be under a magnify glass regardless of how everything shakes up so please help me keep everything in order and buttoned down."

"With that done, any questions for me before you resume full control of the chaos that is a security department?"

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