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JL | CDR Valeese, LCDR Stacker | "O Good and Gentle People ..., Pt. 2"

Posted on Sun Dec 10th, 2017 @ 9:58pm by Commander James Stacker

Mission: The Round Table
Location: Location: Classified | Cold Station Theta
Timeline: The Present.

She wasn't going to ask, not now... Not... Now. With her lower lip firmly caught between her teeth, the little Vorta did her job even though her skin wanted to crawl as each reading began come pouring across the little medical device. The sheer amount of harmless, though offensive, bodily fluids was obscene. For such little creatures... No.... Her mind wasn't going to go there. Her eyes briefly flicked up just in time to watch Stacker's hand disappear into the den of despair to retrieve, and replace, a PADD. With eyes wide and nose wrinkled, she silently begged the tri-corder to work faster, "Almost done." Her voice was short, clipped, terse, trying to hide the eagerness to be done with that particular situation.

His eyes turned briefly to her when she spoke, and everything he saw showed how stressed she was. Her words were clipped, her knuckles were turning a paler shade from how tightly she was gripping the tricorder, her teeth were pressing into her lower lip, and her eyes seemed to be fixated on the screen. Even as he watched they widened a little, telling him just how much obscenity and depravity she was seeing. Thankfully, the old PADD proved to be clean-to-the-touch, telling him that the new system to prevent the devices from getting gunked-up had worked. When he was done its replacement rested squarely near the buildings and the park, ready to begin broadcasting its contents to all the waiting and eager recipients looking up at him with almost religious adoration in their eyes. "Done. How about you?" he asked, looking at the too-tense Vorta.

Beeeep. She panted a quick sigh of relief before nodding emphatically as she dropped the device into her coat pocket and folded her arms tight around her chest, "Done. We're done. They're surprisingly healthy." How the hell they hadn't died of extreme dehydration wasn't something she was willing to study - in fact the only thing she wanted to study at that very moment was the inside walls of a shower. She might not have touched them, or anything they'd come in contact with, but the heebie jeebies still remained as she considered the debauchery she'd been exposed to. Meanwhile, they were standing there in a little furry naked group, blinking up at Stacker with rapt attention. It would have been comical if it wasn't so damn wrong on so many levels.

"O good and gentle Anasaxi of the Unlabeled Locker, thank you for your devotion. Per the terms of the compact, you are free to .. enjoy," he said, flicking a control on his wrist. There was a faint little cheer before the tiny aliens all began to stampede away towards the high-rises and the side of the hill that offered a prime view of the screen of the PADD. With them went faint words of enthusiasm and rising joy, as the screen of the almost-hidden device flickered to life. The first moans were just starting - and were abruptly silenced - as the door to the locker slammed shut. It left Stacker standing there, shaking his head with an almost-disgusted look on his face. After a moment he latched the ancient security lock back into place and started fiddling with the controls. "Midget pornography. I will never understand that species."

There was silence. It hung hot and heavy in the air between them, or maybe the heat was radiating off her ears in waves. Slowly, carefully, she pulled the elastic from her hair and let it fall, covering the fan-like bits of cartilage that she was certain were red to the point of glowing. Her mouth opened to say something and then closed, her head shaking and her tongue coming back out to sooth her lip, "Wash your hands, James and burn that PADD..." She paused, considering, "And what you're wearing." That should suffice. Maybe.

He looked down, then back up at her. "This is my favorite uniform, though. It fits just right." Nevertheless, the hand that had gone into the locker was being held out to the side. He may not have acknowledged the need to wash it, but it was clear from the way in which it was held away from his body that it would be thoroughly sterilized before being near anything else. As for the PADD... his head dropped as he glanced at it in the holster. Was that something dried on the top? His lip curled a little as he considered the merits of tossing it into a fission reactor.

"Replicate a new one." Valeese's voice was about as flat as her ears and those were tightly plastered to her skull and tucked away behind her hair in a degree of disgust and displeasure. Her body language said it all, the way her eyes fell to his hand on occasion, dark with suspicion, was almost over kill when it came to reading just how wrong the entire situation was. If anyone else had asked her to this, anyone, the gig would have been up within the first few seconds of that locker being opened. She'd have run, probably screaming into her combadge, and never looked back. But it had been him... And while he seemed amused, he certainly didn't seem particularly thrilled with the task. The thought that he could have easily done it himself crossed her mind wearing tap shoes and doing little pirouettes... And that was when it hit her - this was a test. He trusted her, but he was testing to see just how far that trust could go. How far she'd be willing to stick with him. She nearly shuddered at the thought of sticky anything at that point, but it did little to dissuade her, "The tablet," A cough cleared her throat, "Algorithm collecting material or is that something you have to assign to someone... Or..." Her head shook, hands came up, "Actually... I don't want to know. I just want to forget it happened and that they exist."

Had he known the direction of her thoughts, he might have been surprised. Stacker hadn't, actually, brought her into this as a test, for in all his years of training there had been a very real and inescapable conclusion: he just wasn't good with medication, first aid, and operation of medical equipment (such as tricorders). Oh he could do rudimentary first aid and bandage a wound, but it had been discovered early on that despite a knack for the tremendous retention of facts, figures, and other information he just didn't have a great ability for medical procedures that, sometimes, were a necessity on the battlefield. Which, all in all, was rather odd for a Starfleet MACO.

Blithely continuing on in his ignorance, he did, however, recognize all the signs that he wasn't about to win this particular argument with the Chief Medical Officer. And so he did about the only practical thing left to himself, short of causing a major rupture between the two of them for no sensible reason other than a uniform. "All right, I'll replicate a new uniform. As for forgetting them ..." he cocked his head to one side and looked back down the corridor, towards the locker, smooth and deep voice seemingly unruffled by the breeze now blowing across the water. "Well, it won't be happening again soon. You don't want to know about the tablet, Val."

"You're right." She nodded, jamming her own hands into her pockets, "I don't want to know." Had to be a test, and she was more than willing to concede to the point that there was portions of his knowledge that even her insatiable curiosity didn't want answers to. Again she cleared her throat, though this time she set her jaw and nodded firmly, "Good luck with all that. I'm just glad my part is over." Valeese's eyes widened momentarily and she searched his face, "It is over, right? Because I don't do reproductive medicine. I have people for that. In fact, I can hook you up with them."

"Let's go Val," he said, gesturing with his head and a raised eyebrow towards the turbolift, the corner of his mouth flicking in amusement as she tensed up again. The other hand - the one that hadn't entered the locker - made as if to press itself into her lower back and take her into the comfort of his arm, before he stopped himself. The uniform. Burn it. Yes, she wouldn't appreciate being in proximity to a uniform that was contaminated. "It's over. We won't need to worry about their reproducing, so you don't need to 'hook me up' with any of your staff." He led her over to the wall panel, hitting the button to call the car with his clean hand, looking up-and-down the grungy and poorly-lit corridor and confirming that they continued to remain alone.

The little Vorta didn't need to be asked twice, getting away from that corridor was all the incentive she ever needed and she moved with purpose towards the lift. Once inside, she nestled against the back wall and set to watching him with patient, though leery, eyes. "Where are you headed?" She asked, the edge starting to leave her voice now that they were beginning to put distance between them selves and the... Situation in the locker.

He eyeballed her in response, noting the shoulders settling a little. Her ears were still tucked away under her hair, and probably flat against her skull if he had to guess. From far away, he was conscious that in a matter of seconds the computer would prompt them to redirect the car to another location. The voice wasn't his favorite: it was female, entirely too smooth and polished, and seemed to have a hint of talking-down to it, so before it could say anything he gave it a quick "Deck 681." He stood there for a moment longer, focused on the overhead, making sure it wouldn't make a quick reply. It was only when he was convinced that he looked away and back to the Vorta against the wall. "My quarters. You did say to get rid of this and get a clean one," he added, plucking at the uniform with the hand that needed to be sanitized. "What about you?"

"Probably back to medical," She nodded, "Getting rid of the uniform, taking a shower, all good ideas." Bit by bit, minute by minute, she was quieting the skepticism and worry and disgust that boiled within every fiber of her being at this point. The point that he was trying to make her happy, at least keeping his distance while still wearing the Godsforsaken tablet in the holster attached to his uniform, was enough to let her actually breathe and convince herself that this would soon be just another fading memory on the long list of things she tried not to remember.

He nodded in agreement: for his part what had transpired wanted to become just a memory, as well, but he had far more experience in these sorts of things than she did. It was a thought that hadn't been far from his mind in the last little while, and words of an old drill instructor came back to him now. Time and space, they said. She would need time to process it, and space that would not let her be reminded of it too frequently. But - "I do owe you for that, Val," he started, stopping as a thought flashed to mind. Was it a good idea? The tantalizing thought was toyed with for a moment, before being gently put aside. "I promise I'll make it up to you. Somehow." His inner ear, which was actually quite good at these sorts of things, told him that the turbolift car was slowing down.

Her head shook gently, "You don't owe me for doing my job." Valeese replied with an air, incredulous little half-laugh and a smile that spoke of her disbelief, "I'm not going to hold this against you, even though it was incredibly messed up and..." She shrugged, working to find the right word; "Weird. We'll just say weird." A nod sealed the deal, truly deciding to leave it at that for what it was. Looking at him, though, she could see the gears turning and curiosity alone, at least for what it was that was going through his mind, brought about the lifting of her ear tips from their safe hiding spot beneath her hair. The course of questioning remained to be voiced. None of it was really any of her business, especially the series of thoughts running through his mind at that particular moment. The lift saved her further, coming to a stop and chiming to announce that they'd arrived down on deck 681.

"We're going to have to agree to disagree," he said by way of reply, carefully making his way out of the car. He turned just outside the doors to regard her, eyes alighting on the tips of her ears poking back through her hair. "I'll see you later?" Unlike prior occasions, there was no doubt behind the words and no startled realizations of what he'd said being completely and utterly true. Asking the words of her just seemed ... right, in some way. At the very least it offered yet another assurance that he was well on the way to becoming human again. The Ghost would have just strode off down the corridor, with a curt nod and a 'doctor' before he went.

"We will." She agreed, content to watch him as he took his leave. Medical was a long way away, and in that time she'd need to figure out just where she stood when it came to repayment of services and the enigmatic spook she had come to trust and enjoy perhaps a little too much. To the point that she felt her mouth begin to relax and play into the faintest whisper of a smile in response to his question, "We seem to have a way of making that happen." And with that the doors to the lift began to slide shut, erasing the image of the ghost from the Vorta's line of sight.

=/\= End Log =/\=

Commander Valeese
Chief Medical Officer

Lieutenant Commander James Stacker
Chief Intelligence Officer
Cold Station Theta, SB-1170


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