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Everyone Loves a Surprise, Right??


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#1 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21906.02 @ 03:13 (03:13 AM)

== Set after the current mission ==
 
== USS Artemis - Engineering ==
 
== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
When Cera had been just a mere yeoman, there had always been jokes that she was had her fingers in so many pies that the captain just needed to clone her and make an army of Ceras for the sake of the ship's productivity. Now that Cera had taken on a mantle of significantly more responsibility -- official responsibility as she'd truly already been handling half of the quartermaster duties already --, it truly did feel like she was needed everywhere at once and the idea of an army of clones actually sounded plausible. As it stood, much of her staff seemed to feel she was capable of being in two places at once due to the fact that she never seemed to stop moving, even in her "off" time.
 
Maybe she was physically incapable of sitting still. That might be a good reason for why she found herself walking into the Artemis' engine room about an hour after her shift had ended, not even having taken the time to change out of her uniform yet. Her dark eyes scanned the room like a woman on a mission and more than one engineer scrambled out of her way, seeming to assume she was there on the Captain's business.
 
Finally, one of the engineers cleared his throat, causing her eyes to shift to him and a smile to curl her lips out of reflex. Despite being all business, she was usually friendly as a default. As her father had always said, it was easier to catch flies with honey.  "Can I help you, ma'am?"
 
"I'm looking for Sh-- for Ensign Elias. Is he here? The roster says he's on duty..." she said, her tone strong and confident to mask the fact that the words themselves sounded like they could have tumbled out of the mouth of a shy schoolgirl harboring a crush. Unfortunately, there was probably no getting around the fact that asking for Ben would likely pour gasoline on the flames that Braggins had ignited with her rather loud shuttle bay declaration. Fortunately, Cera loved a good rumor and had no shame in twisting it for her own amusement.
 
Apparently, she wasn't wrong in assuming that news had traveled as engineer's lips curved into a rather wolfish grin. "Oh yeah, lov-- Ensign Elias is here," he seemed to correct himself when he realized that he still was speaking to someone he shouldn't upset. "He's over there," he pointed to further into the engine room.
 
She offered him a grateful smile, trying not to look too amused as she turned away and began moving that way. Of course, she didn't move so fast that she couldn't hear the commentary that followed her wake.
 
"So do you think they're... y'know? I didn't think he had it in him -- heard he tended to avoid the ladies and was pretty chummy with that security chap, his roomie. I just figured... y'know but I heard he was chatting her up in the shuttle bay..."
 
"I'd do more than chat her up if she'd stay in one spot for more than two seconds..." another engineer chimed in as Cera reached the limit of her hearing range, which was a shame because she certainly enjoyed hearing what the rumor mill was spinning up.
 
Maybe I need to throw some lighter fluid on that fire... not the part about me and Elias though. That's too easy... she thought as she tried to maintain her trajectory within the windy engine room, hoping to see Elias somewhere among the machinery.
 
== Tag!! ==

Edited by Capt Tyra Crawford, Star Date 21906.02 @ 03:14 (03:14 AM).

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#2 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21906.02 @ 19:17 (07:17 PM)

==After Mission, also post Double Trouble subplot==

 

==Engineering==

 

Benjamin sighed as he walked up to the little meeting. sh'Thanis, Caorn, and Whitby were all standing around one of the consoles, fussing over the screen. "I'm telling you," the Tellarite was saying, "there's no way this will work!"

 

"But you came up with it!" sh'Thanis replied, more than a little incredulously.

 

"So I should know!" he retorted with a snort.

 

"Why won't it work?" Benjamin said as he walked up, setting a hand on Caorn's shoulder and being rewarded by the man jumping halfway out of his boots. He had to fight not to smile, but was successful. Don't take pleasure in upsetting your subordinates, he reminded himself. "I assume we're looking at repair procedures for that premodulating thermal matrix I asked you about a couple weeks ago."

 

"Yes, sir," the group replied almost in chorus, before Midshipman sh'Thanis picked up the thread. "Crewman Caorn brought it to me a while ago, and I think he's on to something, though it's still dangerous."

 

"Simulations have nearly a 30% failure rate, with some of them being catastrophic," he interjected before being stopped by a withering glare from the Andorian.

 

"Like I was saying, still dangerous." She walked Benjamin through the procedure they had come up with, which had required bypassing the part and making sure that the thermal matrix was cooled enough to be handled - not an easy task, considering - and getting it done quickly before the bypass failed.

 

"You've got a good idea here," he said once they were done with the presentation. "The failure rate is still concerning, but this is supposed to be an emergency procedure. If I have to choose between a 30% failure rate of the repair procedure or the 100% chance of a catastrophic failure of the original part, I know which I would choose." He pointed to the diagram. "I see you're using the emergency valves here and here to build your bypass. Did you consider bypassing further out from the part? Might help regulate the flow a little better."

 

"We tried that," Caorn said with a bit of a huff. "The flow was better, but we just had too many connections at that point. It was a trade-off, and working in closer to the matrix made it easier to control."

 

"Did you consider borrowing a couple of antigrav lifters from supply?" Benjamin queried again. "Since we're not concerned with salvaging the part at this point, they would let us get the part out a little quicker since we're won't be directly handling it. We would simply need to get the connections cooled quickly so we could get it out."

 

sh'Thanis nodded. "Isolation suits and cryo-projector extinguishers should let us disconnect it sooner. We just need to work on some procedures." Benjamin smiled and nodded.

 

"And that's what we're here for." He turned to Whitby, who had been silent throughout. "Have we had any change in the matrix since we talked last, Crewman?"

 

She shook her head. "Not really, sir. The readings fluctuate, like usual, but I haven't seen a definite rise in mean temperature. It's held steady at around .01, .015 above the standard temperature."

 

He smiled at her and nodded. "Good work, guys," he told them all. "Try that new modification and see if the failure rate improves. We'll reconvene at the end of the week to see it it helped." A chorus of agreements followed him as he turned away from them and looked back through the engine room.

 

He would say he was surprised to see Cera and her purple-shouldered uniform weaving through the sea of gold, but since she went most everywhere through the ship it wasn't incredibly surprising. She seemed to be looking for someone or something, though, so he walked on over to her. "Hey," he said, smiling. "Looking for Commander Thrace'Saimara? I don't think he's on shift right now, if I could help out."

 

==Tag Cera==


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#3 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21906.07 @ 23:43 (11:43 PM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Ben appeared seemingly out of nowhere as if the nickname the Captain had given him was blessing him with new talents and skills, like stealth. Realistically, Cera knew that it was likely her height coupled with the seemingly endless motion of gold uniforms through the main section of engineering that created the illusion; apparently, the universe had felt she would simply be too powerful if it had graced her with a normal height along with all of her other talents.
 
"Hey," he greeted, smiling. "Looking for Commander Thrace'Saimara? I don't think he's on shift right now, if I could help out."
 
Her smile brightened about five notches, her hands clasping in front of her as she came to a stop. "Ah... actually, no. I'm not looking for the commander, though I am impressed that you've mastered his name already. It's a mouthful," she said with a chuckle before chasing the mirth away with a shake of her head.
 
"No, I was actually looking for you," she said, her hands coming up to clap in emphasis and she offered him a dazzling smile.
 
"I actually wanted to ask you something but," she paused to look around, stepping a half step closer to Elias to allow an engineer to pass behind her, "this isn't exactly the most appropriate place for such a thing so..."
 
She made a face as if she wasn't quite sure that was the best way to phrase the whole statement -- it seemed a little ominous or maybe, just a little heavy. And if Cera's experience with men meant anything, they tended to flee in panic when either elements entered a conversations. However, she was already there so there was really no choice but leaping unless she wanted to make everything even more awkward with backpedaling and stammering, neither of which were her forte. 
 
"Would you be willing to drop by when you get off shift? I'll make you dinner for your trouble but I promise you won't regret agreeing," she punctuated the request with another bright smile, though this one looked like the type that could turn into pouting at any moment if the need arose. 

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#4 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21906.08 @ 03:59 (03:59 AM)

Benjamin chuckled along with her at the shot at his DH's name, but he was quickly caught a little off guard. "No, I was actually looking for you," she said with a bright smile. "I actually wanted to ask you something but this isn't exactly the most appropriate place for such a thing, so..." she trailed off, looking around and letting an engineer pass by before she continued, moving just a little closer to him.

 

He took a moment, trying to read her as she waited. She seemed a little off. Normally she was confident and sure in everything she did, with little in the way of hesitation once she'd decided on something. This time, there was just the slightest hesitation, something in her face that said she wasn't as sure of what she wanted to do. He didn't quite know what to make of it, but as quickly as he saw it, it was gone and she plunged ahead.

 

"Would you be willing to drop by when you get off shift? I'll make you dinner for your trouble but I promise you won't regret agreeing," she said with another smile he couldn't help but return.

 

The smile hid a touch of panic. Is she asking me out? a part of him wondered. It wasn't like they hadn't shared meals together before - after all, he'd taken her to dinner in thanks for the gear for the rogue planet mission - so why be worried about it? And why shouldn't we? he challenged back. It wasn't like he was married anymore, despite the ring he still wore out of sheer habit. 

 

"Yeah, not a problem," he replied before he could think anymore about it. "I've still got an hour or so left on shift, call it two from now and I'll be there?"

 

She nodded, and he smiled and excused himself, as there was still more work to do. Unfortunately it was mostly paperwork in this case, which failed to provide much in the way of distraction, especially since he didn't have an office to do it in. He wondered what she wanted, that she offered to make him dinner in exchange? Meeting up in 10 Forward, sure, that wouldn't be too out of the ordinary. But fixing dinner at her place? That just begs questions.

 

"So you and Cera, huh?" Whitby smiled as she walked by him. "I'd heard rumors after our last mission, but nice to see it anyway."

 

"We're not dating," he said more harshly than he'd intended. "I'm not dating anybody."

 

"Who said you were dating?" she countered. He shot her a look, letting the padd he was working on clatter to the console and making her hold up her hands defensively. "I'm sorry, sir," she said. "Just making conversation."

 

"I'm sure you have other responsibilities," he told her, and she walked off quickly.

 

Fortunately, the rest of his shift went quickly. He went back to his quarters - Nathan was already in and was doing some light exercise - and hopped in the shower. "Don't take long," Nathan called. "I'm just about done here."  Benjamin grunted in acknowledgement as he got into the shared bathroom, washing off the stress and dirt of the day.

 

He had enough time, though, to worry about tonight. He still wasn't sure what to think about Cera's offer. A large part of him was glad and happy she had asked him to dinner. There was also that loud, vocal part that wanted to know what he was thinking. It tried to remind him about Iris, about how sweet she had always been and how she would never do something like this. No, he reminded that part, she'd just accuse me of cheating and divorce me. He didn't owe Iris anything.

 

There was a knock on the door. "You done?" Nathan called, and pulled Benjamin back to the here and now. He quickly rinsed off and dried off before relinquishing the room to his friend and heading back to his own half of their shared quarters. He stood in his room for a moment, trying to decide what to wear before deciding he was seriously overthinking things and grabbing a clean pair of jeans and a tee shirt. He looked at the models on his desk, trying for a moment to decide exactly how he wanted to go about the next stage of painting before chiding himself for stalling, too. Seriously, he told himself, stop worrying and just go see what she wants.

 

He stepped out of his room just in time for Nathan to step out of the shower. "See you later," he said, and walked out of the room and headed for Cera's. It wasn't far, fortunately, and he knocked on her door earlier than he'd anticipated. Hopefully I'm not too early, he thought, and waited for her to answer.

 

==Tag Cera!==


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#5 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21906.17 @ 01:38 (01:38 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Cera's "promotion" to Quartermaster had come with a upgrade in quarters. While she had never had a roommate due to the sensitivity of her assignment as the captain's yeoman, her original quarters had in line with those typical of junior officers and had been even smaller than the normal double suites young officers shared with others. Apparently, Starfleet had felt their single rooms could be cut in half, meaning Cera had spent a great deal of time living in a virtual closet despite Tyra's numerous, gracious offers to find the half-Betazoid a larger set of rooms. Cera just hadn't felt that was a good use for the larger quarters designed for families or two officer occupancy and hadn't felt she truly needed the bigger space.
 
Apparently, she had been very, very wrong as she had certainly gotten use to the larger accommodations afforded to the Quartermaster. Especially the kitchen! Oh, she loved cooking and baking, often times spending her scant free time experimenting with a new recipe, and due to the lack of a kitchen in her previous home, she had spent a great deal of time sweet talking Orrin into allowing her to borrow his kitchen when possible. As ever the gracious host, he had been amicable, even offering her suggestions when needed. However, it was splendid to be able to cook in her own space, not having to worry about impeding operations or making a large mess. Admittedly, she had been forced to pull a few strings in order to get some of the kitchen equipment in place since Starfleet preferred officers to rely upon the replicator but those were favors well spent.
 
She smiled broadly as she carefully slid the oven's door shut, the savory smell of fresh baking bread managing to momentarily overpower the much more savory smell of the Solicai steaks cooking on the stove. Solicai was one of her favorite proteins to play with, having grown up with it in her younger years on Betazed,  though she'd found that Humans tended to confuse it with a protein native of their world, Bison. She'd always found that a little strange since a Solicai was very similar to a Terran bovine but it tasted far different from beef. Tyra had described Solicai meat as being more gamey, but Cera wasn't entirely certain what that meant. What she did know was that her honey bourbon marinated Solicai steak was a winner, at least with Humans. Her father had found it to be a touch too flavorful but he'd also called spiced vanilla too spicy one time so she hardly considered him a worthy critic.
 
She took a moment to sip from a glass of wine, carefully leaning down to peer at the tray of roasting veggies through the oven's window before nodding in satisfaction. Everything was going just as it should be, which probably should worry her. It was a very unusual day when things went just as expected and unfortunately, there was still plenty that could go wrong, entirely unrelated to the food filling her suite with delicious.
 
Of course, the problem with everything going well meant that there was no focus for her energy and she briefly considered adding another side to the meal before chiding herself that she was probably already going overboard. However, it was so rare for her to have someone to cook for or to have the time; despite being such a social butterfly, it was rare for her to actually host within her own walls. Typically, she played host in a larger, public setting, which was perfectly fine in its own right but there was something nice about this type of occasion.
 
She was just finalizing a last minute rearrangement of the couch's pillows when the door chimed.  Her dark eyes darted towards the nearby chronometer as she set her wine down on the kitchen bar top. He was early but honestly, it was perfect timing as the food was finishing up and she was running out of busy work. Subconsciously, she glanced down to make sure that she hadn't gotten any splatters on her blue blouse or her dark tan jeans that were neatly tucked into a pair of brown riding boots, and was pleased to see that her typically mess had taken a break for the night.
 
Her good luck streak was holding firm.
 
She picked up her wine and called for the door to open, glancing around her less than standard room once more to make sure everything was in place. In as many places as she could -- short of painting the walls --, she had tried to downplay the droll gray the fleet had chosen for decorating. Her couch wasn't the standard gray one and her bookshelves were clearly not fleet issued. Actually, there seemed to be very little in the main room that was standard issued as the blonde had clearly preferred a less gray, though just as modern look for her personal space. The neutral colors were broken up by flashes of color from flower arrangements and art on the walls.
 
She offered Ben a warm smile as he entered. "Welcome to Casa Morgan. I hope the rest of your shift was lovely or as lovely as the engines can be. Can I get you a drink? I have wine, bourbon, water...anything the replicator can manage," she said with a laugh.
 
== Tag! ==

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#6 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21906.20 @ 01:45 (01:45 AM)

They say that some of the most visceral memories you form are triggered by smells. The smokey heat of a wood fire burning, the cool crispness of a snowy pine forest, the salty brine of the sea breeze; all can make you remember events from years previous better than even a holograph will.

 

When the door opened to Cera's quarters, the warm, sweet smell of baking bread wafted out and for a moment, just a moment, he was a kid again. He couldn't have been older than five or so, and he remembered walking into the kitchen as his mother was baking. She was in the habit of every year at Christmas, baking bread and cookies to give to family friends as gifts. It was non-stop for weeks leading up to the holiday, and the smell permeated the walls by the end of it. Sometimes you could still smell the faint aroma of warm bread months later. More than that, though, was the smile on her face while she did it. It wasn't a chore or a task. It was just pure joy for her. He would sneak in and get a small spoonful of cookie dough, or on occasion get a slice of bread when there was a spare loaf. He could still hear her laugh, even though he hadn't heard it in over twenty years.

 

He must have taken a step forward, because he heard her call out to him. "Welcome to Casa Morgan," she said, a warm smile on her face as he pulled himself back to the here and now. He was a bit surprised at how large her quarters were, but remembered that she was technically a department head and so must rate her own room. She had done a great job of breaking up the neutral gray and beige that made up Starfleet's idea of interior decorating, with plenty of colors from the flowers and art to the couch itself. It was all very modern and fit the same aesthetic of the rest of the ship, but the colors were definitely much, much better.

 

"I hope the rest of your shift was lovely or as lovely as the engines can be," she continued. "Can I get you a drink? I have wine, bourbon, water...anything the replicator can manage."

 

He joined her laugh and smiled at her as he walked across the room towards her. "I'll just have whatever you're having," he said. "Dinner smells amazing, as well." He walked over towards the kitchen, and leaned against the countertop near her. "I don't know what I've done to deserve steak and fresh-baked bread, but please tell me so I can do it again," he laughed, only half joking as he took his glass from her. "Anything I need to do to help out for supper?"

 

==Tag!==


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#7 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21906.25 @ 02:05 (02:05 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Cera laughed lightly, her dark eyes seeming to sparkle in amusement. "Be careful what you wish for," she teased as she set down her glass of wine on the kitchen high top that separated the kitchen from the living/dining room and shifted back into the kitchen.
 
"As for dinner, I think I have everything in hand for the moment. It may smell decadent but it's actually a pretty simple set-up compared to some of my more... ambitious undertakings," she explained as she retrieved a stemless wine glass from one of her cabinets and then, began pouring Ben some of the red wine she was sipping. She was careful not to pour too much before replacing the cork in the ornate green bottle.
 
With a flourished swirl, she placed the glass on the counter in front of Ben with a smile. "I didn't have you pegged as a wine drinker but this is a wine from the region of Betazed that my father comes from. It's a drier wine but it has a lot more of a fruity hit than most Terran blends. The captain calls it a wine for the non-wine drinker, though that's not fair because I definitely drink wine," she said with a chuckle before shrugging and picking up her glass to take a sip.
 
The sound of the oven's timer going off distracted her from anymore commentary on their drink for the night and she quickly set her glass down in favor of flinging the oven door open, grabbing a nearby mitt to pull out the tray of roasting veggies and then, the golden baked bread. She was so focused on finding an open space on the stove or cabinet for the two trays that she didn't even notice the arrival of the quarters' guardian, ever stealthy and nimble.
 
Elias probably noticed something brushing against his ankles a few moments after Cera had turned away. The contact was brief and fleeting and moments later, a pair of bright green eyes were inspecting him from a bookshelf full of what appeared to be cook books. The owner of the bright, curious eyes had fluffy orange fur broken apart by black stripes and white fur along the cheeks. A striped tail hung over the edge of the shelf and swung absently. Actually, if it weren't for the creature's small size, it could easily have been a relative of a Terran tiger, though it looked more unimpressed than predatory.
 
Finally, seemingly bored with stealth, the cat let out a loud meow that caught Cera's attention as she turned the heat down on the steaks. "Oh that's Ches, short for Cheshire. He's been my faithful companion since he was given to me," she explained warmly as she began pulling plates from a cabinet.  
 
After another meow, she paused in serving the food onto plates and fixed the cat with an unimpressed look. "You've eaten."
 
"He's never too terribly certain of company, especially men. But if he didn't like you, though, he would be stealthily stalking you instead of making his annoying presence known," she explained as she placed a sliced piece of bread on each place as the final piece of an epic masterpiece.  
 
There was definitely a sense of triumph in her smile as she picked up both plates and motioned for Ben to grab her wine glass and follow her to the small dining table, where she set each plate down carefully in front of a chair. "Hopefully, it tastes as delicious as it smells!"

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#8 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21906.28 @ 01:41 (01:41 AM)

As she swirled the wine in a glass for him, she smiled at him. "I didn't have you pegged for a wine drinker," she said, "but this is from the region of Betazed that my father comes from. It's a drier wine but it has a lot more of a fruity hit than most Terran blends. The captain calls it a 'wine for the non-wine drinker,' though that's not fair because I definitely drink wine."

 

Benjamin chuckled with her, and took a sip of his glass as she did the same. It tasted pretty much exactly as she'd described, a much softer alcohol than he was used to, but definitely flavorful and an excellent choice. "Well," he said as she turned to take care of the food, "you had me pegged right; I'm not much for wine, but I figured 'when in Rome,' you know?" He smiled and took another sip. "Besides, you seem to have excellent taste," he added as he gestured to the rest of the room, "so I figured you wouldn't steer me wrong."

 

He was about to say more when he felt something against his legs. He nearly jumped, glad that Cera hadn't poured him that full of a glass, and looked down to see a cat. More correctly, he saw a blur, which terminated at the bookshelf in a cat-shaped orange ball of fur, the piercing green eyes fixing him in place. The orange was broken by black stripes, giving the quick impression of a tiger perched on the shelf, though it was much too small to be one. The look in the eyes spoke volumes: Who are you, and what are you doing here? The he meowed, voicing much the same thought.

 

"Oh, that's Ches," Cera said once she noticed the cat's appearance, "short for Cheshire. He's been my faithful companion since he was given to me." She started to pull plates from a cabinet and serve food onto the, as Ches complained again. "You've eaten," she replied pointedly, drawing a chuckle from Benjamin. She went on to talk about him some more, adding "But if he didn't like you, though, he would be stealthily stalking you instead of making his annoying presence known.

 

She took the two plates, piled with steaks, veggies, and bread, and turned around to face him, a triumphant smile on her face as she motioned for him to grab her wine and follow her to the table. He picked it up dutifully and followed; the smell alone would have pulled him anyway, but he followed as requested. "Hopefully it tastes as delicious as it smells!" Cera said, and they both sat down.

 

"I'm sure it will," he said, and picked up the knife and fork to dig in. It did, in fact, taste as delicious as it looked and smelled. The meat was a touch gamey, but it was delicious nonetheless, and the wine complemented it well. The vegetables were excellent, and the bread... The bread was divine. Or maybe it had just been ages since he'd had a good, homemade bread. Or maybe both. "And I was right," he breathed after a sip of wine. "This is fantastic. The last time I had a meal like this..."

 

The last time you had a meal like this, you were married, he thought. His hand sagged for a moment, the knife in his hand falling to point at the plate, and the food suddenly felt like a weight in his stomach.

 

Yeah, he shot back, and now you're not. So get over yourself and enjoy dinner.

 

He took another sip of wine to try and cover it, but he was sure she'd noticed. He cut off another piece of the steak and chewed on it for a moment, trying to collect himself. "So," he said to change the subject, "you'd sounded like you wanted to ask me for something back in Engineering. And after a meal like this I'm sure I owe you." He smiled at her as he took another sip of the wine. "So how can I help?"

 

==Tag!==


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#9 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21907.28 @ 02:48 (02:48 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Cera had beamed as Ben had confirmed that the assortment of food was as delicious as it had smelled while cooking. It wasn't very often that she was able to cook for other people, and typically when she was able to, it was finger foods or appetizers for Girls' Night or the rare social gathering she hosted personally. It was nice to know that the cooking skills that she had cultivated over the years weren't wilting away due to her busy schedule and lack of people to cook for -- after all, a good meal just wasn't as exciting if eating alone or with Ches.
 
However, she didn't miss the way his compliment tapered off, following closely by his mood, and it didn't take any of her empathic nature to identify the cause of the drop off.  After all, he'd spoken of his ex-wife previously, though not in detail, and it hadn't taken much to know that the split certainly hadn't been mutually agreed to, at least not on his part. After all, he still wore the ring that signified his loyalty to a failed marriage; some would call that hopelessly foolish while others would call it endearing romantic and she wasn't certain which side of the fence she sat on. There was nothing healthy about pinning after someone that had most definitely moved on but there was definitely an endearing quality to someone who had taken the vows of marriage so seriously, even in the face of heartbreak. 
 
Despite her instinctual desire to throw him a life line in the form of a topic change, she allowed him a few moments to collect himself as she busied herself with another mouthful of wine, letting the flavor of the beverage roll over her tongue slowly. She was swallowing as he seemed to kick himself out of his momentary hole, asking the question that she had assumed would be asked fairly early on. After all, there were only two logical assumptions for this particular scenario: she wanted something or she wanted him. And she didn't make it a habit of openly chasing men that were emotionally unavailable.
 
She smiled, setting her wine glass done and shifting her fork to rest on the edge of her plate.  "You mean you didn't think this was a thinly veiled attempt to get a date out of you?" she teased, knowing she was toeing the line given his reaction a few moments ago but maybe it would put him at ease a little more.
 
"I was hoping that you could help me with an idea I have -- an experiment so to speak," she said as she carefully stood up and retrieved a PADD from the bookshelf near the kitchen.
 
When she returned to the table, she passed it across to Ben. "A dear friend has a birthday coming up and I'm tired of buying her alcohol for every birthday so I thought something a little more original and tailored would be appropriate."
 
Ben would be able to see that schematic was for a firearm with some physical characteristics reminiscent of a by-gone era of firearm designs but the roughness of the schematic suggested it had been done by someone with engineering training but who wasn't actually a truly talented engineer.
 
"I asked my academy roommate to help me sketch out my idea but I had momentarily forgotten that I'm 99% certain that she only graduated because her boyfriend at the time basically dragged her through all of the assignments. So it is incredibly rough and rudimentary but I thought that I know a much better engineer that I can probably convince to help me design and build it... maybe?"
 
She quickly added, "I know you're busy so if this is too much, I can always see if the armorer in security wants me in his debts."

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#10 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21907.30 @ 02:35 (02:35 AM)

It came as a relief when Cera smiled, resting her fork and glass back down. "You mean you didn't think this was a thinly veiled attempt to get a date out of you?" she teased. He tensed a bit - calm down, he told himself - but she was obvious enough that he smiled along with her.

 

"Well," he said, "I figure that if you really wanted someone, there are likely dozens of more suitable choices on a ship this big." Rumor had it she was definitely one of the more desirable targets for the affections of those dozens, though Benjamin had always assumed that many of them simply talked a big game and didn't actually have the courage to approach her. Cera, despite her obvious beauty and other charms, was definitely someone you didn't cross, and didn't take lightly.

 

"I was hoping," she continued, "that you could help me with an idea I have - an experiment, so to speak." She stood and retrieved a padd from the bookshelf he had seen Ches on not too long ago. "A dear friend has a birthday coming up and I'm tired of buying her alcohol for every birthday so I thought something a little more original and tailored would be appropriate.

 

She slid the padd across the table, and he could see what appeared to be a weapon. It looked like an old-school gunpowder firearm, though from the schematics he could tell it was meant to be an energy weapon. The schematics were crude, though; several design elements went unlabeled, the assembly diagrams were nowhere close to scale. It had potential, but it would take time to even sort out where to start. He heard her talk about the designer, and wasn't surprised to hear that she wasn't exactly the top of her field.

 

"I thought that I know a much better engineer that I can probably convince to help me design and build it," she continued, "... maybe? I know you're busy so if this is too much, I can always see if the armorer in security wants me in his debts."

 

"No, no," Benjamin said quickly as he flipped through the file. "I think I can make this work." He kept flipping, and eventually located some reference sketches, along with an old schematic of, apparently, the weapon this was based on. "You wanted to make an updated version of this?" He asked, turning the padd back around to show her. "Definitely an ambitious idea, and this friend of yours must be someone truly special to want to go to this much effort."

 

But he couldn't let the idea go. Armaments wasn't exactly his normal area, but he could see how this one should work. It was going to be a complex piece, but several of the mechanisms could be streamlined to make the overall complexity manageable. He'd need some time to do some research, and get some prototyping done... "So," he asked, a smile on his face and all awkwardness forgotten in the face of a challenge, "when does it need to be done?"


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#11 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21907.31 @ 20:07 (08:07 PM)

==A few weeks later==

==Casa Neuva Elias y Ramius==

 

Benjamin sighed as he finished getting cleaned up, a smile on his face. It had been a long few weeks, but he felt like he had finally figured everything out, at least for the most part. It had required several late night consultations, some letters back and forth with very important people who sometimes proved less than helpful even when he could reach them, and had even required him to locate some knowledge that to some was not just illegal, but immoral. But he had finally gotten everything together and had made the breakthrough he needed.

 

At least, I think I have, he hedged. That's what tonight's for and should hopefully prove.

 

But first, he had to get dressed and meet up with Cera. For once, he wasn't entirely sure what he wanted to wear. Some part of him wanted to get a little more dressed up than normal; it was a big night, after all, or had the potential to be. But he knew that that was a terrible idea. After all, what happens if something goes horribly wrong? A nice shirt like he wanted to wear could wind up being a safety hazard. Finally, he just grabbed a tee and a pair of jeans, like he normally did. Why go against the grain now?

 

Clothed and otherwise ready, Benjamin walked out into the common room. "Computer," he called, "lock the hallway door." He waited for the acknowledgement for just a moment before stepping over to the replicator. He pulled off the lower panel to reveal his still, and pulled out the finished product. Pulling a bottle from the shelf, he poured the gin he'd made into it before stoppering it again and putting the bottle back with it's companion. I'm going to need to get another empty bottle soon, he thought, putting the receptacle back under the replicator and checking the still over to make sure it kept working.

 

That was a problem he hadn't had in a long time, he noted. Since joining Star Fleet, he had kept his stills deliberately small, just enough to give him roughly a bottle a week. Since his habit was orders of magnitude smaller than it had been on the Longshoreman - due in no small part to his counselors at the Academy and general recovery - that was enough to keep him in a steady flow of gin without letting him fall to temptation on the darker days. The fact that he had two full bottles stored now... He wasn't entirely sure what to make of it. 

 

Fortunately, he didn't have time to think about why things had changed right at the moment. He had a reservation and needed to meet Cera there soon. He replaced the panel and unlocked the door; a quick stop in his room let him collect everything he needed and head back out the door. The turbolift picked him up and deposited him at his destination. He wasn't one to visit here often, but it was exactly where he needed to be for all of this.

 

He set down his case and began setting up. "Elias to Morgan; I'll be set up soon. Whenever you're ready, feel free to come on down to the armory." It didn't take him long to set up his test stand and the prototype. He just hoped it worked like he planned.


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#12 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21908.04 @ 17:23 (05:23 PM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
It had been an impossibly long day, the type of day that would usually warrant a bottle of wine and a hot bubble bath to wind down from, but that wasn't possible tonight as she had an appointment to keep. Unfortunately, that wasn't uncommon in general -- she kept a busy schedule and it was a luxury to be able to properly unwind from the stresses of her duties. Which meant that she had alternate routines for unwinding for those nights where time wasn't a luxury.
 
Twenty minutes of yoga had seemingly done the job, clearing away her frustration from the day and leaving her feeling significantly more relaxed. With water bottle in hand, she had moved from the living room through the bedroom into the bathroom. She had eyed her bathtub with a longing look as she turned her sonic shower on. It had taken quite a few favors and a lot of eyelash batting to get that bathtub installed but her determination had paid off with the prize of ultimate relaxation right at her fingertips anytime she needed it, or had time.
 
She was just stepping out of the shower when her intercom came to life with Ben's voice, advising her that he was setting up for the night's events and that she could join at her leisure. Her lips curled into a wide grin as she reached for a towel, feeling that glow of excitement at the idea of testing their pet project out. Despite her lack of technical knowledge or skill, she was quite excited.
 
"Morgan here. I'll be down there shortly," she answered as she moved into the bedroom.
 
As a rule, she tended to dress on the more classy side of casual with cute sweaters and knee-high boots for example but if there was one lesson she had learned from range sessions with Tyra, it was there was no place for cute over function in the armory and range. In fact, she could still see the look her boss had given her the first time Cera had accompanied her to the range wearing the cutest of dresses. It was safe to say that she had never done that before and had subsequently changed her rule regarding gym clothing: they were now allowed in the gym, studio and range.
 
With that in mind, she selected her favorite pair of leggings -- the cute gray pair with the ever important pocket -- and a fitted t-shirt with a logo for the Grand Canyon on it.  She slid her communicator into that important pocket before putting her shoes on and moving into the living room. She paused as she reached the counter, stopping to examine an ornate bottle that she had brought home a few weeks earlier. It was a celebratory gift so to speak but she reminded herself that it was for when the project was completed, not at the first stage of success.
 
With a small smile and a pet to Ches, she left her quarters, nearly running into a passing support officer as she stepped out. He had nearly jumped out of his skin at her sudden appearance and then, had started uttering apologies as he realized he had nearly plowed over his tiny new boss. For her part, she had merely smiled and waved off the apologies, telling him that no harm had been done. He still looked horrified as she had turned to walk towards the turbolift but there was clearly nothing she could do to ease his concern. 
 
Did I miss a rumor where I inflict physical harm to people? Or is this what happens when you have actual authority, not just unofficial power? she mused as she stepped into the turbolift and provided the needed deck.
 
When the door yawned open for her on the security deck, she hadn't hesitated in what direction to travel. Despite the Artemis being a new ship, she had made it a point to know the ship like the back of her hand, as she had with the Avenger and the Gettysburg before her. It was crucial as both yeoman and Quartermaster to know exactly where things are and where they need to go. It was part of why she was so successful.
 
With only a few passing glances from curious security officers, she moved towards the armory in the back of the office, the door opening for her automatically. It looked like they had the area to themselves as Ben was already within and was the only one there. His test stand looked to be already set up with what looked like the prototype sitting with it.
 
She offered him a beaming smile. "Ben! Are you ready to see if we're on the right track?"

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#13 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21908.07 @ 14:49 (02:49 PM)

Cera, as always, had impeccable timing. He had just finished setting everything up and squared away the detritus when she walked in, smiling at him. "Ben! Are you ready to see if we're on the right track?" Somehow, she looked amazing even after a full day's work; it seemed to be another of her talents. Whatever her self-care routine is, maybe I should take notes.

 

He couldn't help but smile back at her, leaning on the bench as he waved a hand at the test stand. "I think we are. It may not be pretty, but I think the mechanisms are there, at least enough to give it a test." The device on the stand looked odd, like a slightly oversized revolver with a lot more high-tech circuitry embedded than would be strictly required, at least if it was still a gunpowder weapon.

 

"Now," Benjamin said as he went into demonstration mode, "the original plans your friend drew up were interesting, and helped as a starting point, but after we went and looked at the original that you wanted it based off of, I decided to go a different way." It had been a very weird evening, socializing with the captain over her gun collection after hours, but it had been interesting and enlightening both for the project and in how to interact with Crawford. He'd had fun, he was surprised to discover afterwards, and she had demanded to see the prototype before they delivered it to its intended recipient. Of course, he needed to get it finished first.

 

"The original was a heavy handgun, and while the original plans kept that form, they were really just a standard phaser in a different form factor. The revolving portion cycled after every shot, firing a beam using the trigger to determine duration--" he cut himself off with a wave of his hand and shake of his head. "It had the form, but it didn't have the same type of function, and after handling the original I realized that both were going to be important.

 

"So, back to the drawing board I went." He continued on, realizing he was probably over-explaining but he was on a roll. "I had the idea that doing a bolt-style shot was going to be important for the feel, and so did some research. The mechanisms we use in modern phasers to make them pulse is just too bulky to put into the revolver's frame, which is why the original stuck to a beam. However, I managed to get the schematics of several types of disruptors, and found a way to make that work with a phaser's nadion-based tech."

 

He pointed at the revolver mechanism itself. "Instead of putting the actual power cells here, I've got a standard rechargeable and replaceable power cell in the handle, and the revolver is actually a series of capacitors. If I've done my math right, this should allow for a more rapid discharge through the emitter crystal, which is shaped to fold the energy back in on itself and produce a single bolt." He chuckled as he turned back around towards his audience, who he was sure he was boring to tears. "Now, this does lose a lot of functionality; it's nowhere near as versatile as a standard phaser, but it'll still do stun and kill so it's useful on a regular mission."

 

He took a deep breath, and walked over to Cera, still smiling at her. "But now, we get to see if your faith in me was misplaced or not. If you'll step this way," he said, waving her over to the far side of the armory, where a blast shield had been set up, "we'll get started." Once they were in place, and he'd handed her a set of safety goggles, he gave her the last item over there: the remote trigger. "Care to do the honors? We need to do at least a full cycle through all seven capacitors to test the mechanism."

 

==Tag Cera==


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#14 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21908.16 @ 21:22 (09:22 PM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==

 

In all honesty, much of Ben's explanation regarding his re-drawing of the weapon was entirely lost on Cera. For all of her many talents, neither weaponry nor their design was in her wheel house. In fact, it had only taken about a month of working for Tyra before the redhead had lost her patience with Cera's constant questions regarding her weapon collection and their purposes, which had led Tyra to realizing that her yeoman had never shot a weapon outside of Academy training an required re-quals. Now, Cera could at least shoot a weapon accurately, even if she couldn't name the parts of the weapon or their purpose. She guessed that was something...
 
"But now, we get to see if your faith in me was misplaced or not. If you'll step this way," he motioned for her to follow him towards a blast shield,  "we'll get started."
 
She dutifully followed him over and chuckled when he handed her a pair of safety goggles. She was pretty certain that the last time she had worn safety goggles was during a chemistry experiment gone very wrong because a boy had wanted to impress her with his knowledge, or lack thereof, of chemistry. It had been fairly disastrous but a very good lesson in how idiotic men could be when striving for the affection of a woman, particularly one out of their league. 
 
When he handed her the remote, her expression changed from one of controlled interest to something more akin to a kid in a candy store. Or maybe more accurately, a child handed an exciting firework for the first time.
 
"Care to do the honors? We need to do at least a full cycle through all seven capacitors to test the mechanism."
 
She probably should have asked what he meant by "seven capacitors" but she was almost positive that the explanation would also go right over her head so it was truly just better to nod with an eager smile.
 
"Ready?" she asked.
 
Once he affirmed, her dark eyes shifted to the weapon itself as she moved the trigger to hold it like, well, a trigger. "Here goes!"
 
It took about three seconds for her lips to press into a frown as her trigger pull resulted in nothing, and like any would-be scientist with little training in actual experiments, she pulled the trigger once more with the same result. She frowned, dark eyes squinting slightly as she turned to Ben. "Did I--"
 
Her words were cut off by a resounding BOOM, quite akin to what she had discovered a .357 Magnum sounded like when fired in an enclosed space. She jumped, her hand free hand grasp onto Ben's arm for stability as her other hand almost released the trigger in surprise. Admittedly, her attempt to keep the trigger in hand almost resulted in it being pulled again but fortunately, she did have at least a little trigger safety in grained into her.
 
"Well... I guess I didn't totally break it?" she looked at Ben with a little grimace before bursting out in a laugh. Her cheeks were flushed, probably from the adrenaline dump of the surprise firing. "Experimenting is a grand adventure, right?"

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#15 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21908.17 @ 18:50 (06:50 PM)

"Here goes!" Cera said, and Benjamin couldn't help but smile as she pulled the trigger.

 

A smile that quickly fell away as nothing happened. She pulled it again, which made him even more nervous. Oh no, he thought, wondering what went wrong and trying to look at the gun quickly from where he was. Cera turned to him, a frown on her face as she asked "Did I--"

 

And that was when it went up. There was a loud BOOM, and before he knew what he was doing Benjamin grabbed Cera and tried to get himself between her and the gun. She had grabbed his arm with her free hand and was gripping tightly, managing to hold on to the remote trigger with the other, as the fire suppression system kicked in and fired a spray of foam at the gun.

 

What are you doing, Benjamin? he asked himself. He'd set up safety glass for them to be behind, and there was plenty of distance between them and the gun. They were as safe as they could be from any issues like this. And if we get in a situation where that's not enough, you putting yourself between her and it wouldn't help anyway.

 

"Well," she said with a grimace, pulling him out of his reverie, "I guess I didn't totally break it?" She burst with a fit of nervous laughter, cheeks flushed. Probably adrenaline, he thought, feeling his own cheeks warm. Right. He realized he still was holding on to her and let go, hands falling to his side uselessly. "Experimenting is a grand adventure, right?"

 

"Right," he said with a smile. "Right, it is." He turned and looked back at the mess and sighed. At least it only fired a single burst of foam, he thought, glad that the mess wasn't as bad as he'd feared. "Of course, now we have to figure out what happened." He took off his glasses and walked around towards the weapon, or what was left of it, and started to clean off the foam carefully.

 

Luckily, it seemed like the damage wasn't as bad as it had first appeared. Once he had managed to clean the area, it really just looked like the capacitor had blown, the exposed component having bloomed open at the firing end. A disappointing event, but not a catastrophic one. This is what I get for using makeshift components, he thought, chiding himself for trying to use what they had on-board rather than looking for the actual best options.

 

He pulled out the revolving portion and brought it over to the bench, where Cera had waited. "Looks like I shouldn't have rushed to get the prototype done," he said. "I'd planned to find some more dedicated components once I'd gotten a proof-of-concept done, but looks like that was a bad call." He pointed at the exposed internals of the capacitor as proof of his point. "These are the capacitors I got from you, and while they're great for work in EPS relays and the like, they evidently aren't up to this task. I should've known better."

 

He sighed, and set the assembly down on the bench, leaning against it for a moment himself. "All of my simulations say this will work," he told her. "The problem is just getting the proper components. I've got a lead on some better capacitors and an ideal emitter crystal, but with us being on a time crunch, I don't know that I can get them here in time to assemble, test, and deliver." They only had slightly over a week left, after all. "And that's assuming there's not an even worse problem that I didn't find," he added, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he spoke. "I still need to go over the rest of the data to make sure the failing capacitor was the only issue with this test."


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#16 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21908.18 @ 15:15 (03:15 PM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==

 

As Ben went about examining the weapon responsible for the BOOM -- and the not entirely unpleasant aftermath --, Cera was left chiding herself for the fact that her cheeks still felt warm even after the adrenaline had receded back to normal levels. It, of course, had nothing to do with Ben's admirable, though unnecessary, attempt to protect her. No, it definitely didn't involve the lingering embrace. It was obviously the excitement of adventuring into an experiment, failure or not.
 
Repeat after me. You are not a teenage girl. And you are not dumb enough to even think of liking an unavailable man. He's a good friend that cares... that is all, she said as she slowly stepped out from behind the blast glass.
 
She stood a safe distance away by the work bench, allowing Ben the room to move about as needed, but close enough that she could help him if he told her what needed to do. After all, that was kind of what she was best at. 
 
Based on Ben's expressions and the tiniest hints of feeling she could pick up without even trying, the damage wasn't too bad, though he seemed frustrated or disappointed with either an oversight of some sort or an unexpected hurdle. Then again, he obviously hadn't expected it to fail as it had so it was understandable that it would be both frustrating and disappointing. 
 
She offered an encouraging smile as Ben brought the failed weapon over to the bench and began explaining the cause of the failure. Or at least, the cause at face value. Apparently, it was a failure of material, not of concept. That, at least to her, seemed like a much better failure than the alternative and not an absolute project killer, though Ben explained why it certain was a roadblock worthy of consideration.
 
"All of my simulations say this will work," he told her. "The problem is just getting the proper components. I've got a lead on some better capacitors and an ideal emitter crystal, but with us being on a time crunch, I don't know that I can get them here in time to assemble, test, and deliver." He didn't need to remind her that they were on the short end of time.  
 
"And that's assuming there's not an even worse problem that I didn't find," he added, rubbing the bridge of his nose as he spoke. "I still need to go over the rest of the data to make sure the failing capacitor was the only issue with this test."
 
With no conscious thought, she reached out and squeezed his arm. "Let me help. Give me a list of exactly what components you need and I am willing to wager a very, very expensive bottle of whiskey that I can acquire exactly what you need," she said with what might almost be a devious smile, if it weren't for the fact that Cera was anything but devious.
 
She let go of Ben's arm and produced what looked like a small folding PADD from a small zipper pocket in her leggings. "It might take some finagling -- is that the right word? -- but I have quite the network of connections, both in uniform and out. They have yet to let me down and I have gone looking for some bizarre things before..." she left that note hanging with a chuckle as she flicked her finger across the screen of the PADD.
 
Of course, there had been a time that such a network of connections had been more of a burden than a blessing but over the years, she had found a way to utilize the bits and pieces of her life that she had always resented for her own benefit. She might not enjoy being the child of an ambassador or the heir to a stiflingly boring company but she couldn't say that she hadn't found a way to twist both of those to fit her current needs. It had just been a very, very bumpy road to get where she was.
 
Once Ben had given her the list of items, she had settled herself onto one of the stools next to the bench, her fingers flying over the PADD with practiced ease. There were occasional pauses, where it seemed likely that she was waiting for a response or further information, but then, as soon as her PADD vibrated, her fingers were flying once more into a flurry. However, during one of the longer pauses, she had glanced up to watch Ben for a moment, a seemingly curious expression on her face.
 
"Did you always want to be an engineer? I can't imagine you thought you'd be working on secret weapons projects when you were in the Academy," she commented with a chuckle.

Edited by Capt Tyra Crawford, Star Date 21908.18 @ 15:26 (03:26 PM).

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#17 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21908.18 @ 21:42 (09:42 PM)

She reached out and squeezed his arm reassuringly. "Let me help," she said. "Give me a list of exactly what components you need and I am willing to wager a very, very expensive bottle of whiskey that I can acquire exactly what you need." Her smile almost seemed devious, but it was too genuine for that. She pulled a padd from a pocket on her leggings as she kept going. "It might take some finagling -- is that the right word? -- but I have quite the network of connections, both in uniform and out. They have yet to let me down and I have gone looking for some bizarre things before..." 

 

He chuckled with her before nodding. "Well, it's worth a shot," he said and pulled out a padd of his own from the case on the bench. "You find them all and we pull this off, we can split the bottle." He listed off all of the components, transferring the schematics to her as he did so. "And maybe you can tell me about some of those bizarre things."

 

As she settled onto a stool to start navigating through her network of contacts, he started in on the high speed footage and the rest of the data he had gathered. The high speed, while not entirely useful, did show that the point of failure was at the capacitor and it's discharge point. Watching it flower from there was beautiful, entertaining, and depressing all at once. He had considered doing a low-power test at this point, but had thought that the components could handle it, at least for a one test even if they couldn't handle being the full-time components.

 

He glanced up at Cera every once in a while as he worked the rest of the data, watching her tap her way through her contacts in a flurry of movement or just sitting and waiting for a response. It was interesting to watch her work on the problem; he wasn't that good at working with people, preferring a mechanical problem he could get his hands into. He wasn't sure where she had gotten her expertise in it, but he knew she was good at getting people to get her what she needed.  She got you to help with this, didn't she? he thought with a smile as he bent back to his work.

 

Fortunately, the rest of the data was promising. It looked like the charging system worked just fine, imparting the charge as predicted to the capacitors. The discharge function worked as expected; it was simply the capacitors that didn't work right. He leaned back, chin in his hand as he thought about the problem some, but came to the same conclusion: unless Cera could come up with what they needed, they were sunk.

 

Evidently reaching a lull of her own, Cera turned to him. "Did you always want to be an engineer?" she asked. "I can't imagine you thought you'd be working on secret weapons projects when you were in the Academy," a chuckle punctuating the comment.

 

He laughed with her. "No, no," he said. "I can't say I did see this one coming." He wasn't entirely sure whether he was talking about the gun or just... all of this, whatever it was, but he pressed on before he could think about it.

 

"But yeah, I have always wanted to be an engineer, because I've been on for as long as I can remember," he said. "Growing up in a mining town, there aren't many things you can do with your life, and working on the machines there seemed like the best I could do." He smiled softly, memory taking him. "I remember Dad and the foreman getting so mad at me one time when I was, oh, I had to have been twelve or so. I'd taken apart one of the antigrav units to figure out how it worked, and didn't quite get it back in time for the start of the first shift.

 

"I did manage to get it working better than before, though," he said. "Stupid thing hadn't been maintained in far too long, so they couldn't be too mad when they got it back."

 

He turned and looked at the tiny blonde dynamo, smiling as he leaned back against the wall. "What about you? Quartermaster doesn't seem like the type of job someone aspires to, no matter how good they are at it."


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#18 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21908.20 @ 01:34 (01:34 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Cera smiled with genuine curiosity, leaning forward to rest her head onto her hand as she listened to Ben speak. Her dark eyes were focused on him, taking in the tiny changes in his expression along with his words to get the full extent of the knowledge available. 
 
She'd always genuinely enjoyed learning about other people. Each morsel of information felt like a piece in the puzzle of the person's identity and there was a great satisfaction from taking one more step to a completed puzzle. Of course, there was never a completed puzzle as people weren't that simplistic but that didn't stop Cera from trying. After all, the more information she had, the easier it was for her to meet the needs of people close to her. Or to manage a situation to her favor.
 
What interested her about Ben was that he had taken something that seemingly was forced upon him by his circumstances and had shaped it into something of his own, something he enjoyed and honestly, based on his reputation, something he was good at. He wasn't bitter that he hadn't been given an upbringing with better options and instead, had found away charge on regardless. That was something she found incredibly admirable.
 
She'd chuckled softly at his story, imagining a younger Ben with the pieces of an anti-grav unit strung out all around him. She could only imagine the exasperation his father must have felt at the mess and the delay, but there must have been some satisfaction for the young man when his effort had paid off. She suspected it definitely had boosted his confidence, though whether a teenage boy needed that was anyone's guess.
 
"What about you? Quartermaster doesn't seem like the type of job someone aspires to, no matter how good they are at it."
 
The blonde paused at the question, though she should have expected it. To be honest, she wasn't use to talking about herself very often. She preferred to remain in the shadow of any given situation, like the ghost under the white sheet in old cartoons and when she was front and center, she had mastered the artfully superficial answers that most desired within social situations. After all, men chatting her up in bars hardly cared about her background anymore than the admiral's assistant making small talk at the last event. People, as a rule, asked questions out of politeness, she'd found. 
 
After a moment, she chuckled. "No, I don't think five year old imagined I'd be in charge of a cargo bay of expensive supplies or of keeping a ship running in top order."
 
"I wanted to be an artist, to travel and learn different techniques and their significance," she said as she sat up a little straighter. "Not a very realistic desire, in hindsight, but dreams aren't meant to be mundane," she said with a soft laugh.
 
"Then, I guess you could say that life happened..." she mused, her tone a little wistful with a touch of regret.
 
The vibrating of her PADD stopped any further explanation on the topic, her dark eyes immediately looking down at the screen. Her dark eyes roamed the screen for a moment before her lips split into a triumphant smile. "I have the crystal! ... well, I will have the crystal you requested first thing in the morning when the Lorraine docks at Pioneer for resupply."
 
I'll need to find a bottle of 2337 Romulan Ale to pay the skipper for Marin -- Airo still owes me and I do believe he has such a bottle. Or did he have 2339? 2339 is a superior year in my opinion.... she mused as she quickly tapped out a response and sent it.
 
"We'll have the needed parts in no time," she said confidently.  "And then, you can build a masterpiece!" The exclamation was punctuated with a teasing wink and a soft laugh.
 
"I'm sure this is exactly the type of scenario your recruiter told you about to win you over to the black and gold. 'Son, join Starfleet Engineer Corps and you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll be making cool but slightly impractical weapons as gifts at the behest of your Quartermaster. It happens to all the great engineers!'" she joked, her nose wrinkling in delight.

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#19 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21908.20 @ 22:05 (10:05 PM)

Benjamin couldn't help but notice the slight pause between him asking the question and Cera answering. It wasn't much, but it was there, though with a chuckle it was gone. "No, I don't think five year old me imagined I'd be in charge of a cargo bay of expensive supplies or of keeping a ship running in top order," she said. She kept on, saying she wanted to be an artist and travel, an admirable goal he thought. She sat up a bit more before continuing. "Not a very realistic desire, in hindsight, but dreams aren't meant to be mundane. Then, I guess you could say that life happened..."

 

She laughed at her comments, but Benjamin couldn't help but frown. He was a down-to-earth kind of guy, his only real desires growing up being to get out and see the stars, and for his family to succeed in their dreams. And he'd done those; his sister's band was doing well, and his brother had a successful career in politics going. His own path, admittedly, was a little more twisty than he'd wanted, but he was still out here, exploring.

 

To hear that she'd essentially given up on her dream was simply sad. He was about to say something to encourage her when her padd signaled and she was distracted by it again. She surveyed it for a moment before she smiled broadly. She'd found what they needed, and could have it as early as tomorrow. "And then, you can build a masterpiece!" she laughed, winking at him.

 

He broke out in a grin, her enthusiasm infectious. "I'm sure this is exactly the type of scenario your recruiter told you about to win you over to the black and gold. 'Son, join Starfleet Engineer Corps and you can bet your bottom dollar that you'll be making cool but slightly impractical weapons as gifts at the behest of your Quartermaster. It happens to all the great engineers!'" she joked, her nose wrinkling as she spoke.

 

He laughed with her for a moment, though a bit awkwardly. He looked down at his hands, still smiling though it was smaller now. For a moment, he wasn't sure how he should answer. It's not exactly a secret, is it? he challenged himself. And she had just opened up - a bit, at least - about her childhood. Return the favor.

 

"Yeah," he said, "that's not exactly the pitch I got." He chuckled for a moment, though he was sure it sounded a little forced. "It was more of a challenge, or maybe a plea bargain would be closer to accurate. I... I was in a bad place after my wife... well." He stopped for a moment, eyes closed. His fingers worried at his ring without him even thinking about it. A breath later, he opened them again, looking into Cera's dark eyes. "Long story short, I got rescued by a ship, the Philadelphia, and her captain gave me a challenge: do something useful with my life, or stay in the bottle I'd crawled in for so long."

 

He smiled again, genuinely this time. "I think I made the right choice," he said. "I just wish I hadn't wasted so long getting here."

 

A sigh, and he looked around awkwardly. "Well, I guess there's not much more we can accomplish tonight," he said, and waved a hand at the mess he had made. "I've got to get this cleaned up, or else the range officer will take it out of my hide later. I can take care of it if you need to go and do something; seems like you've always got something to keep you busy."


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#20 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21908.26 @ 02:29 (02:29 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
It took less than a fraction of a second for Cera to recognize that forced little chuckle, the one that seemed to appear every time the conversation wandered in a certain direction, and she was starting to make a mental list of topics that probably needed to be off limits or maybe, just reserved for when there was alcohol present. After all, with the way he still wore his ring and toyed with it during these moments, it was obvious that the wound of his failed marriage was still open. She wondered how much of that was because he kept pouring salt into it to torture himself.
 
She didn't say anything as he paused, eyes closing in an attempt to push it all aside. There were plenty that would have thrown him a lifeline but she felt like that was more for their own comfort than his. There was no shame in still being hurt by the loss of a love, and while she couldn't understand the feeling first hand, she could, without trying, feel some of his sadness and regret. It was why she offered him an understanding smile when he looked at her again, though she resisted the urge to offer physical comfort.
 
"Long story short, I got rescued by a ship, the Philadelphia, and her captain gave me a challenge: do something useful with my life, or stay in the bottle I'd crawled in for so long," he finally said before smiling more genuinely.  "I think I made the right choice," he said. "I just wish I hadn't wasted so long getting here."
 
She smiled softly. "Sometimes the scenic route is the best route in the end," she offered, though she wasn't certain how comforting it really was.
 
"Well, I guess there's not much more we can accomplish tonight," he said, and waved a hand at the mess he had made. "I've got to get this cleaned up, or else the range officer will take it out of my hide later. I can take care of it if you need to go and do something; seems like you've always got something to keep you busy," he said.
 
She paused for a moment, trying to determine if he wanted her to leave him to his thoughts or if he truly was concerned that she had other pressing matters to attend to. Or if he was embarrassed by his admission. She had certainly found that people always seemed embarrassed when admitting that they hadn't joined Starfleet for the most honorable of reasons, usually missing that most people had their own motives for the decision. Regardless, she didn't feel inclined to leave him on that awkward note, not without a little payback.
 
"I can't leave you clean up this mess alone. I mean I am equally as responsible and a Morgan never shirks their obligations," she said with a teasing smile, though the part about shirking obligations was a total lie. Her father was probably the king of shirking everything that didn't immediately benefit him.
 
"I'm actually the only member of my family in Starfleet," she said as she started gathering miscellaneous tools. "Honestly, outside of my mother and her one surviving brother, my family isn't big on the whole concept of duty and self-sacrifice. I wish I could say that I joined because I have an anomalous desire to sacrifice for the good of society but it was honestly an act of rebellion."
 
She paused what she was doing to glance at Ben. "My father was adamant that I either work towards taking over the family's very large corporate undertakings or I join him in Betazed's diplomatic circle. I couldn't think of two worse things to do with my life but I knew if I pursued being an artist, my father would find a way to drag me in one way or another. Starfleet was an obligation that even his influence couldn't undo at his whim. That's not to say he didn't meddle..."
 
Her expression briefly soured, remembering his push for her to join the command track so she could eventually reach the upper echelons of the fleet and her naive agreement to his idea. He hadn't been able to meddle during her Academy years but upon graduation... well, he had tried to make sure that she was the assistant to the most useful of admirals, even if the man was a disgusting pig unworthy of the uniform. 
 
"Fortunately, his influence isn't much of a match anymore and I'm not very helpful to him. Captain Crawford might have a great deal of pull in certain arenas but with the retirement of her husband, they are no arenas that interest my father...thank goodness too," she added with a wry chuckle. 
 
She shrugged and then, chuckled. "I guess you could say that, fortunately, I got nothing but my eyes from my father," she commented as she snapped a case of supplies shut. 

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#21 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21908.28 @ 18:19 (06:19 PM)

Benjamin couldn't help but be pleased. He hadn't really wanted her to leave, but he hadn't expected her to stay and help, either. It was his mess, after all, so it was his to clean up, but then it was good to have company, too. And he had been enjoying their discussion, despite the turn to the awkward there at the end. But who's fault is that? he chided himself as he turned to start clearing the foam away from the prototype. Yours.

 

He picked up a bucket and towels as he listened as she kept talking about her family, confessing that she was the only member in Starfleet, and her own less-than-selfless motives to join. He was a little surprised that she considered it an act of rebellion - an odd characterization for service - but he understood it some, as well. He hadn't exactly been following what his dad wanted for him when he started working independent freight; going to college like his brother and sister had was what he'd had in mind. But he'd simply wanted to get on with his life without the pressures he'd felt from helping raise his siblings.

 

He heard her pause and he looked up to see her looking at him. "My father was adamant that I either work towards taking over the family's very large corporate undertakings or I join him in Betazed's diplomatic circle. I couldn't think of two worse things to do with my life but I knew if I pursued being an artist, my father would find a way to drag me in one way or another. Starfleet was an obligation that even his influence couldn't undo at his whim." He nodded, unsure what to say. The foam was nearly gone, soaked up and moved by the towels, though he'd managed to get some on his shirt anyway, and he set the bucket aside as he looked up at her again, a sour expression on her face as she was briefly lost in memory.

 

She went on. "Fortunately, his influence isn't much of a match anymore and I'm not very helpful to him. Captain Crawford might have a great deal of pull in certain arenas but with the retirement of her husband, they are no arenas that interest my father...thank goodness too." She chuckled at that last, though it didn't have much in the way of mirth. She shrugged, and returned the last of the tools to their case and snapped it shut. "I guess you could say that, fortunately, I got nothing but my eyes from my father."

 

Disconnecting the power leads to the weapon, Benjamin grabbed it and brought it over to the bench. He placed it in the case - or as best as he could with the ruptured capacitors - and closed it, all the while trying to decide what to say. "I can't imagine having that kind of relationship with my dad," he finally said. "Not that I had much of a relationship with him in the first place.

 

"Mine work is hard work," he continued. "He tried his best to be there for us, but there's only so much he could do, y'know?" He shrugged, a wan smile on his face. "He's a good man, but after mom died, he was too busy trying just to keep our heads above water. I haven't even talked to him since... well, since Iris left me." It wasn't entirely true - he'd left a message for him before the left for the rogue planet - but was close enough for now. "My siblings," he continued, "went off and have done some great things - Mary's got a band touring right now, and David's in government service somewhere. Actually, he's getting married soon, though I don't know exactly when. Haven't gotten the invitation yet."

 

He went back over to finish cleaning up where the gun had been mounted and pick up the last of the detritus there. "I guess you could say running off and being a freight engineer was my own act of rebellion," he joked. "Running away from responsibilities, from family, starting off fresh. Too bad it didn't quite turn out like I'd wanted. Maybe I should've tried harder to stay in touch with them."


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#22 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21909.01 @ 03:58 (03:58 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==

As Ben had spoke about his father and siblings, Cera had paused in her cleaning and had leaned on one of benches, a dirty rag held loosely in one hand. Her dark eyes had stayed on him, watching the flickers of emotion change as he spoke of different family members.

She found the way he spoke of his siblings interesting -- he cared enough about them to keep track of them but he clearly wasn't close to them, seemingly a byproduct of his choice. It was something Cera couldn't relate to; she'd grown up an only child in a family that seemed to value one child per family unit. However, she'd seen how close some other siblings were, like the captain and her own siblings, and Cera, herself, had made a significant effort to remain close with her new half-brother as he grew older, partially attempting to mimic the successful relationships she'd witnessed since she had no experience of her own.

"I guess you could say running off and being a freight engineer was my own act of rebellion," he joked, though it sounded about as genuine as her previous joke. "Running away from responsibilities, from family, starting off fresh. Too bad it didn't quite turn out like I'd wanted. Maybe I should've tried harder to stay in touch with them."

The blonde tilted her head, idly twisting the rag between her hands. "In my experience, it's never too late to try to close the gap between people. It can be a little awkward but family, whether biological or the family you choose for yourself, is usually worth the growing pains," she encouraged.


"Your brother's wedding? Are you planning on attending? I think that would be a lovely first step to reconnecting," she suggested, though she suspected that he had no intentions of attending, not given his apparent hang up on his own marriage.

"If not, maybe you should see if your sister's band will be touring anywhere accessible. She'd probably love to have family at a show," she said with a genuine smile.

Then, she shrugged a little, setti g the rag down on the bench. "But I understand how easy it is to drift apart from family, especially in this field. It's hard to explain everything we see and experience to civilians and often times, calling home just feels weird..."
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#23 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21909.02 @ 00:06 (12:06 AM)

Cera tilted her head, idly twisting the rag between her hands as he finished speaking. "In my experience," she said, "it's never too late to try to close the gap between people. It can be a little awkward but family, whether biological or the family you choose for yourself, is usually worth the growing pains."

 

Benjamin smiled, thinking about the family he was growing here on Artemis: Nathan and Eli, of course, and the rest of the crew he was trying to get closer to. It was wonderful, and definitely worth the pain. Well, most of the pain, he thought, getting a twinge in his shoulder as he thought about Pomn. She continued, talking about his brother and sister for a moment before adding, "But I understand how easy it is to drift apart from family, especially in this field. It's hard to explain everything we see and experience to civilians and often times, calling home just feels weird..." 

 

He sighed and smiled. "Yeah, it can be," he said. "I'm not even sure how to talk about that rogue planet with my family," he said, chuckling as he added, "though to be fair, I'm not sure how to talk about it period. That was just... something else." He finished wiping down the bench and folded up the mount he had been using as he continued.

 

"I got to see Mary and her band back on Earth just before we launched," he said. "They're actually pretty good, assuming you like Irish/Celtic type music." He wasn't actually sure what type of music she liked, now that he thought about it; they hadn't really talked about it. "Actually, met David's fiance there, a nice Trill woman who's name completely escapes me right now.

 

"And yes, I had planned on attending," he added quickly as he walked back over towards her. "My only problem is that my brother, in his abundant enthusiasm, didn't actually sent me an invitation. He instead sent me a message saying he'd put me down for me plus one, and that they wanted their family to be in the wedding, so I get to be a groomsman." He laughed for a moment. "I've got a gift planned out already, and it's fortunately in the middle of our shore leave so there shouldn't be a problem getting there. Now, I just get to figure out who to con into going with me." He chuckled. "I haven't reached the desperation point yet, but if it comes down to it I figure Nathan owes me a favor. Of course, that would only add to the rumor mill, and I'd really rather avoid that."

 

Of course, the biggest problem with the wedding was going to actually be talking to his father for the first time in years, but there wasn't any point in going in to that here. No sense in making her worry about that, he thought, though why she would worry he wasn't sure. He pressed on.

 

"What about you?" he asked. "You mentioned your mother and uncle earlier, sounded like they were more accepting of the life you chose. Do you talk to them often?" He didn't ask about her father for obvious reasons, and wasn't sure if she had siblings. She hadn't talked about them, at least, and it felt like she would have by now, so he assumed she didn't have any.


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#24 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21909.03 @ 03:01 (03:01 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==

Cera had given up all pretext of cleaning up as Ben answered her. She carefully wiggled her short frame onto one of the room's stools as he expressed difficulty explaining their last mission to anyone, a feeling she had heard expressed multiple times by different parties. While she hadn't been on the ground, she had seen to what the horrora had done on the people that had been on the ground.

I'm not sure she'll be free of nightmares for a while... she mused as he turned the conversation back to his family.

She smiled as he spoke of seeing his sister and her band play before launch. She wasn't exactly certain what type of musical category Celtic/Irish music fell into but like styles of art, music was something she enjoyed exploring. She'd even been able to appreciate Klingon Opera, albeit in small increments. She wondered if she could convince Ben to take her along next time, if for no other reason than to experience a new environment.

"I haven't reached the desperation point yet, but if it comes down to it I figure Nathan owes me a favor. Of course, that would only add to the rumor mill, and I'd really rather avoid that."

An offer to accompany him to the wedding was on the tip of tongue when she swallowed it whole. It wasn't that she didn't want to accompany him -- she loved weddings and was certain she could be pleasant company -- but she considered Ben to be a fragile deer in the headlights, capable of fleeing at even the slightest push out of his comfort zone. And it was a miracle that being in the room with a woman wasn't enough to cause such a flight.

So instead, she laughed, a genuine smile curling her lips. "I'm sure you two would be an adorable pair... the rumor mill certainly thinks so," she teased, punctuating her words with a wink.

"What about you?" he asked. "You mentioned your mother and uncle earlier, sounded like they were more accepting of the life you chose. Do you talk to them often?"

She found herself nodding almost immediately. "I do."

"My uncle is only about ten years older than me so he's always been more of a brother to me. He's actually who suggested I consider Starfleet as an option and loves to remind me that he was right every chance he can get," she chuckled.

"My mom... we had a stretch where we didn't talk much after she left my dad. It's a long story but she got re-married about eight years ago and her new husband was adamant that we make amends. Even though I was an adult already, he's always treated me like his own, even after they had a child -- I think he actually cried at my Academy graduation -- and that's helped me get closer to her again," she explained.

"She's a psychologist though so I definitely tell her edited versions of everything. Otherwise, I'll have a constant stream of 'and how did that make you feel?'. And I just can't handle that..." she said, her tone amused.

"Then again, those are mild compared to other topics she likes to pry into," she said with an exaggerated eye roll, "but that's a topic for a different setting," she added when she realized she was toeing the line of a topic that might make the deer flee at a high rate of speed.

Topic change!

"Do you feel like you're settling in on the Artemis? You certainly seemed to have made fast friends with the captain's thorn, as the rumor mill has duly noted, but I know that new ships and crews can be difficult."
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#25 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21909.06 @ 00:51 (12:51 AM)

Benjamin was happy that she felt comfortable enough to talk about her own family; they could be a tough subject, as they'd both noted before, but it was good to hear about them. Her uncle sounded like an interesting man, and the drama surrounding her mother was interesting, if a little typical. Most of the women he'd met had issues with their mothers, it seemed.

 

It did get more interesting, however, as Cera continued: "She's a psychologist though," she said, "so I definitely tell her edited versions of everything. Otherwise, I'll have a constant stream of 'and how did that make you feel?'. And I just can't handle that..."

 

Benjamin couldn't help but laugh at that. "Oh, I couldn't imagine that," he said. "Getting analyzed every time you speak to her. I don't blame you for editing that."

 

"Then again, those are mild compared to other topics she likes to pry into," she said with an exaggerated eye roll, "but that's a topic for a different setting." He raised an eyebrow at the quick shift, wondering where exactly she'd been going with that before realizing the most likely culprit. Her dating life, he thought. It wasn't really something he'd considered before, at least beyond hearing the rumor mill talk about her scaring off most of the eligible men on the ship. His complete lack of one left him blind to it, sometimes. Deliberately so, he thought, and stilled his hand from trying to reach for a drink that wasn't there.

 

Fortunately, that topic change came quickly. 

 

"Do you feel like you're settling in on the Artemis?" she asked. "You certainly seemed to have made fast friends with the captain's thorn, as the rumor mill has duly noted, but I know that new ships and crews can be difficult."

 

"Now who's the psychologist?" he asked in turn, though he added a grin to it to take the sting out. "But seriously, it's going pretty well, I think. Nathan may be a pain in the captain's neck, but he's a good kid who earnestly tries hard. I don't know how much you know about when we boarded during the Getty's last mission, but he made one mistake, and is paying his dues for that.

 

"I guess we became roommates for the same reason, really," he continued. "Same rank, came on board at the same time. It was just easier to stick us both in a room together. But it's been fun, and has definitely made the transition to Fleet life a little easier for me." He refused to think about what would have happened if he were given his own quarters as soon as he came aboard, and how far down a bottle he'd likely be.  

"Eliana has also been a great friend," he added, "helping me try and fit in and keeping me grounded. It's not been easy, but between just getting into the rhythms of the new ship and spending some time with friends, it's not been so bad."

 

He turned from where he'd been leaning against the table and grabbed a chair of his own, sitting down backwards with his arms over the chair's back. "What about you? Promotion, new position, and a new ship all at once? That's gotta be a little difficult."


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#26 Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21909.08 @ 00:08 (12:08 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
Cera had laughed had Ben's crack about psychologists and she'd be the first to admit that she had certainly picked up a trick or two from her mother that had aided her greatly in her current line of work. It wasn't manipulation, per say, but more of a calculated encounter of sorts to get what she needed while not absolutely bulldozing the other party. She liked it when everyone left with what they wanted, as long as what was wanted wasn't her.
 
Cera had held her tongue when Ben mentioned his roommate's mistake, wondering just how much he knew about the actual details of the situation and whether Ramius had told the engineer a partial version of the story or if he'd been foolish enough to tell him the truthful version. Personally, she felt categorizing it as one mistake was being incredibly generous as it seemed more like a serious of boneheaded decisions but perception was everything. And people were rarely objective when it came to those closest to them. Regardless, the young man hadn't been blackballed and was getting a chance at redemption, if he could keep the boneheadedness to himself.
 
"Eliana has also been a great friend," he added, "helping me try and fit in and keeping me grounded. It's not been easy, but between just getting into the rhythms of the new ship and spending some time with friends, it's not been so bad."
 
She was pleased to see that he was adapting well, especially so quickly. It was very common to see the newest members of the crew having difficulty assimilating into the new crew's culture but she guessed that there had been a big enough influx of new officers with the move the Artemis that she hadn't been seeing or hearing nearly as many complaints or concerns on that particular topic. However, that just meant there had been complaints of a different variety, mostly revolving conflicting opinions of how certain things should be done on a new ship. She was fairly certain that she had seen more eye rolls from the captain regarding those complaints than she had since the news coverage of the conflict between the 1st and 4th had caused constant eye rolls of annoyance and exasperation but that was better than the alternative, certainly. 
 
"What about you? Promotion, new position, and a new ship all at once? That's gotta be a little difficult."
 
She gave a little half shrug before leaning forward to rest her face on her palm. "This is my third ship since coming to work for Captain Crawford and as yeoman, it really doesn't change that portion of my job at all. Yes, the captain's plate has been fuller so that means mine is as well but we just did this with the Gettysburg so you could almost say we're pros at it," she said rather nonchalantly.
 
"As for the position and promotion... I would have been content staying at ensign and as only yeoman for forever... well, at least until Captain Crawford moves on from command... but I guess when you make yourself too valuable that's not an option. I suspect the promotion was an attempt to reward me -- misguided though it be -- and, at least, make sure I have a leaping pad for when there is a dynasty change," she said with a chuckle. 
 
Then, she shrugged again. "The position isn't much different than what I was unofficially doing before and the promotion was actually helpful for dealing with people that care about how many metal nobs are on my collar. It's definitely keeping me very busy and I guess I'm at a point in life where I can definitely appreciate the distraction," she said, her light tone sounding a little fake at the end.
 
Cera had always been a very social person; she had always loved hosting people, throwing parties and getting to know people. She was well known for the get togethers she had hosted on the Avenger and the Gettysburg but the older she got, the more she felt that these activities were rather shallow. Yes, she had an amazing network of friends and support but most of them were spread out among the stars, only seen in person once or twice a year with sporadic messages throw in between. And those friends that were physically close to her were drifting off into different stages of life -- Tyra into motherhood, Jenny into a long-term relationship, Cassy into climbing the ladder at an expedient rate and Eli into... well, whatever reckless endeavor she was focused on now. 
 
And all of those things made Cera feel like she was missing out on something in life. However, it was a lot easier to bury herself into her work and make sure that she excelled at it than face the fact that maybe, she wasn't putting as much effort into other parts of her life. Yes, she wasn't certain it would ever be a good idea to face the fact that, while she made efforts to bring people together on a regular basis, she wasn't doing a great job of doing it for herself. And spending time with those closest to her just seemed to be slowly bringing that into focus. 
 
There was a second's pause before the blonde seemed to push forward from some internal dialogue. "All the same, I think the position will work well in the end. I'll be in a better position to make the ship run more efficiently instead of having to bounce over the Quartermaster's head like I've done in the past and well, I'm sure I could be convinced to make parts more readily available for engineering... or certain engineers at least," she teased, her dark eyes sparkling before the buzz of her PADD caused them to glance down.
 
"Ah the last parts are accounted for!," she exclaimed with the same triumphant excitement as earlier. "But it looks like I need to go claim them now if I want them..." she glanced down at her current attire with a sigh. "I'll need to change unless I want to be catcalled by a hundred dock rats..."
 
She seemed to realize she was talking to herself on that last point and smiled apologetically. "I'll make sure the parts get to you once I have the crystal tomorrow morning and just let me know when you are ready for test run numero dos," she said as she stood up and offered him a warm smile. 
 
"And it was really nice getting to talk to you, Ben," she said as she scooted her stool back into place and started to the door, pausing right before it opened to throw an offer into the open. "And if you don't want to make the rumor mill go insane because of your brother's wedding, let me know... I could probably be enticed to take Ramius' place as payback for all of this trouble," she waved to the room at large.
 
It was probably no coincidence that she was out the door before Ben could have hoped to answer, probably expecting him to stammer or make the entire thing painfully awkward.
 
== Tag!! ==

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#27 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21909.08 @ 20:06 (08:06 PM)

Benjamin couldn't help but smile as she talked about her new position on the Artemis, and how realistically, there wasn't any major change from before. He hadn't realized she had served with the captain through three ships - though he couldn't say he was surprised, given how much Cera seemed to fuss over her - but he was glad she had the continuity. It helped to have at least something to ground you, keep you stable, given the uncertainties of military service.

 

He also noted that she didn't seem very fussed about the promotion, noting that it was either for the future - "dynasty change," as Cera put it - or just to give her the authority she needed to get done what she needed to. He could just imagine some station-side bureaucrat trying to give her grief or just ignoring her requests. He could also picture that person regretting that quickly between Cera exacting some measure of revenge, and Tyra backing her up on it too. I almost wish I could see that one, he thought, but was glad she didn't have to worry about that as much anymore.

 

"It's definitely keeping me very busy and I guess I'm at a point in life where I can definitely appreciate the distraction," she said, her tone still light. But there was something in the way she said it that made him question it.  He wondered if maybe she was a little more isolated than she let on; given the workaholic tendencies he'd noticed, it wouldn't surprise him, but it wasn't his place to say, or even ask. They were just barely friends at this point - he'd known her for a matter of months at this point, and he could count that number on one hand. Still... maybe she needs more than she lets on, he thought.

 

She had hesitated, but then picked back up quickly. "All the same, I think the position will work well in the end. I'll be in a better position to make the ship run more efficiently instead of having to bounce over the Quartermaster's head like I've done in the past and well, I'm sure I could be convinced to make parts more readily available for engineering... or certain engineers at least," she teased, and he couldn't help but smile with her just as her padd beeped.

 

Before he could even ask what that was, she told him that the rest of the parts had just been found, but she had to get them quickly. "I'll need to change unless I want to be catcalled by a hundred dock rats..." she said quietly, and Benjamin couldn't help but look at her again. He'd noticed how nice she looked earlier, but he'd been distracted by the thought of the upcoming test. Put in this different context, though, he couldn't help but notice how pretty she was. Did she get dressed up... to see me? he thought.

 

Fortunately, she hopped down from her stool with a purpose and kept going, bringing him back to the moment. "I'll make sure the parts get to you once I have the crystal tomorrow morning and just let me know when you are ready for test run numero dos," she said with a smile. "And it was really nice getting to talk to you, Ben." She headed to the door and paused just before it opened, looking back at him. "And if you don't want to make the rumor mill go insane because of your brother's wedding, let me know... I could probably be enticed to take Ramius' place as payback for all of this trouble," she waved to the room at large.

 

And with that, she left.

 

He wasn't sure, later on, just how long he stood staring at the door. It felt like hours, but probably couldn't have been more than thirty seconds. He considered taking her with him, and didn't immediately dismiss it. No! part of him yelled. You can't do that, Iris--

 

Iris left me! he yelled back at it. When will you accept that?

 

The argument went back and forth for a while, his artificial eye twitching as he just stood there. There were so many positives to the idea: Cera was a remarkable, interesting woman, and beautiful besides; she was definitely someone he wanted to stay on the good side of, and it would help quiet the rumor mill (which somehow persisted despite Nathan and Michelle being an item); and like she said, she did owe him a favor.

 

What will your sister say? he asked himself. He knew she'd be happy, but all the questions he knew would come from his family, combined with the amount of time a trip like this would have them spending together. He wasn't sure he could do it, as much fun as it seemed the trip would be.

 

At this point, he noticed that he was walking down the hallway, case in hand, and entering his quarters. He grabbed a bottle from the top shelf, grabbed a glass, and headed into his room. Tomorrow is going to suck, he thought as he poured himself a glass. But that's tomorrow's problem.

 

==Tag!==


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#28 Capt Tyra Crawford

Capt Tyra Crawford

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Posted Star Date 21909.14 @ 00:47 (12:47 AM)

== Lieutenant Cera Morgan ==
 
It had been a busy few days -- the typical flurry of activity that always accompanied pre-launch preparations seemed to have started early this time around and Cera had found herself buried in her duties. Admittedly, she had still found time to collect the items that Ben had needed to finish their project but she had been forced to send a minion to deliver them, which meant that Cera had seen very little of Ben since their initial test of their pet project. He had sent her updates on the testing of the new, integral parts but she hadn't been able to do much more than drop in for a moment or two when possible.
 
Of course, those visits had been short enough that she hadn't been able to gauge just how awkward their interactions were in light of her offer to accompany him to a wedding. After all, she had made the offer on her way out of the room purposefully, knowing he would likely find the offer uncomfortable, but she hadn't anticipated work being so busy that the topic wouldn't be revisited in short order. With that in mind, when Ben had indicated that the testing phase had been complete and that they needed to meet to discuss the the finishing touches, she had suggested that he meet her in the main support conference room -- a nice neutral place that literally could not make even the most sensitive person uncomfortable and with enough space to spread out depending on what was needed. After all, it was literally where she held her staff meetings with the backbone of the ship's internal infrastructure, the overlooked backbone of the ship's operations.
 
A glance at the chronometer showed that Ben would likely be arriving in the next few minutes but she also knew that engineering had been just as busy with pre-launch as her own department had been. With the possibility of him running a little late, she had brought a PADD with her and a steaming cup of tea, content to handle some internal matters with what extra time she might have on hand.
 
Most of the internal matters were issues of logistics -- what department needed resources more, what quarters were a priority to ready for new inhabitants, what crises did she need to anticipate -- but there were a few personnel issues. For instance, she had been informed that two of her people had been caught in a compromising situation in one of the jefferies tube junctions and while it had merely gotten an eye roll and chuckle from the head honcho since it was probably one of the more amusing issues on the Captain's plate at the moment, Cera felt it needed to be addressed in some fashion. It was incredibly unprofessional and outright embarrassing -- they should at least be more careful and discrete if they were going to do something quite so... intimate in public. The question was whether she handle it in the easier manner -- separate the two on duty -- or think of a more effective and creative manner of handling it that wouldn't effect other members of her staff.
 
People are complicated... she mentally mused as she took a sip of her tea and focused on the PADD in her hand.
 
== Tag!! ==

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#29 Ens Benjamin Elias

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Posted Star Date 21909.15 @ 01:26 (01:26 AM)

"For the last time," Benjamin said as he made notes on his padd, "if Whitby is causing a problem, then you need to either talk to her yourself - you're her superior, after all - or make it a formal complaint. I can handle her if you need me to, but it'll definitely be an official action at that point."

 

sh'Thanis sighed. "I hate to do that," she said. "I know that's what needs to happen, but--"

 

"No buts this time, Midshipman," Benjamin said, trying to be as stern as he could. "If you catch her daydreaming again, you need to either write her up, or deal with her yourself. If it's as big a problem as you say it is, then it's got to be handled, and you're not doing her any favors by not doing something either way."

 

"She's just so nice, you know?" the Andorian said.

 

Benjamin chuckled. "Yeah, that may be, and she does good work, too. But if she spaces out at the wrong time, then we could all be in trouble." He put the padd down and sighed, looking her in the eye. "Look, if you want me to handle it, I will. But you need to decide either way. Catch me first thing in the morning with your decision; if you want, we can talk talk to her together, but it's up to you."

 

sh'Thanis nodded. "I'll let you know," she said with a grateful smile. "You're leaving in a hurry," she said. "Got a hot date?"

 

He stopped for a moment. Not more than a couple of heartbeats (which had suddenly gotten quicker, he noticed), but it was definitely there. "No," he said quickly. "No, of course not." He chuckled nervously. "Why would you say that?"

 

She grinned at him and turned to leave. "If I told you that," she said over her shoulder, "you'd definitely have to get on to Whitby tomorrow."

 

Now, what's that supposed to mean? he thought as he watched the woman walk off. Fortunately, he didn't have any time to think about it. He was supposed to meet Cera in... dammit, he thought as he checked a chronometer. He definitely didn't have the time to think about it, and turned to exit engineering as well.

 

If I hurry, I can still get a quick shower before I head off to meet her, he thought as he rode the turbolift to his quarters. Just enough time to do that. He had hoped to be able to get a little work done on his models before he had to leave, but an unscheduled drill had put everything behind today, especially after a couple of issues cropped up that needed to be addressed immediately. As a result, most of the work he had planned to do during the day was still undone, but there wasn't much he could do about it. Paperwork can wait.

 

When he finally got back to his quarters, he realized it was going to be even worse than he thought. He could hear the shower running, and Nathan's door was slightly ajar. Dammit, he thought, and headed on into his room. "So much for a shower," he muttered to himself, and stripped off his sweat- and oil-stained uniform. He grabbed a towel and went to the mirror, trying to make sure that at least his face was clean. He finished getting ready as best he could, putting on a clean shirt and jeans and combing his hair. At least I can make sure I don't smell, he thought with a chuckle as he put on his shoes and headed for the door, grabbing the small case with the prototype as he went.

 

As he rode the turbolift once again, he couldn't help but think about what Cera had said nearly a week ago now. They hadn't really spoken more than a handful of words to each other since - an unfortunate necessity of the pre-launch preparations - and so he hadn't had a chance to discuss it with her. Do you want her to go with you? he asked himself for what had to be the hundredth time. Inevitably, the answer came back both yes and no. He let out a frustrated sigh. Why can't you be a normal person, he thought, and just decide something! It's a simple question! He wanted to, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to admit it, even to himself.

 

Somehow, he was going to have to make a decision, though. The wedding was only a few weeks away at this point, and if she was going to go, she needed time to get ready for it. At least, from what I remember Iris doing, he thought, though he immediately regretted bringing her to mind.

 

Finally he arrived at the the conference room, and stopped just outside. He took a deep breath, trying to push all the other thoughts away. We've got a project to take care of, he reminded himself, and stepped inside.

 

She was sitting at one end of the table, a padd in hand and a steaming cup of tea close by. "Working as usual?" he joked as he walked in, trying to keep the mood light. He walked down beside her and set the case down, being careful of the tea. Seeing it there reminded him that the last time he'd had anything to eat or drink was... was it breakfast? he thought. The drill had disrupted his lunch schedule, and he'd been too busy to grab anything more than a quick drink of water the rest of the day. "Sorry I'm late," he added, trying to cover up his stomach growling. "You know how crazy things get around this time."

 

He turned the case towards her and opened it. Inside was the finished weapon, though it was completely unadorned. "I took it to the range a few days ago, and everything worked just fine. As you can see, though," he said with a gesture, "I wasn't entirely sure how it should look. I didn't know what you had in mind, whether you wanted something that stuck close to the original, if you knew of something that might make it a bit more personalized, or what."

 

He sat there beside her, looking at it. He was an engineer, not an artist. And this part needs an artist's touch.

 

==Tag Cera==


Edited by Ens Benjamin Elias, Star Date 21909.15 @ 01:31 (01:31 AM).

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