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Ksenia, Mei, so, this wager... I have to wonder how that's working out for you. Why don't you each give me one vignette of Ksenia 'paying off' her bet?
Ksenia, Mei, in the few weeks before you reach "home," both of you have a significant moment with Lana. Tell us about that, please?
Mei, at some point, you and the Captain are together in the cockpit, running through sims of the transition back into realspace in case you ever need to solo it. Once you've done a few of the harder simulations, Zoo turns to you and asks, "So, are we okay? I can't imagine the generosity you're showing to me, to Ksenia."
Ksenia, you're reading in your bunk one afternoon when Ezekiel Church knocks on the open threshold. "Ksenia, do you have a moment?" When you invite him in, he sits. "We worked well together on Giana Prime, I think. It's been a while since I've been in the field, though. If you have any comments or suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them."
Mei, Zoo walks over to the Captain's chair where you're sitting and puts a hand on your shoulder. "Taban, I'm not going to fish in another girl's pond without permission. Say the word and I'm out of the picture. You're both too important to me..."
She walks back to the copilot's station and sits. "So, this next sim is special. Recreates what we encountered when we came out into Tara's Firma space. Let's see how you do in the big chair."
Church smiles. "Thank you, Ksenia. I read your after-action, of course, but I couldn't see your eyes. I hope we'll have more opportunities to be a team in that sense." The smile turns a bit impish and he barks a short laugh. "I'd forgotten how fun it is, Ksenia. I was like a stim addict taking his first shock after being clean for ten years."
He leans back. Looks like it's a social call.
"This." Zoo pushes the button to start the sim, and you're emerging into space, fragments of a shattered planet hurtling toward you.
Mei, what do you do?
Mei, you negotiate the debris field with the instincts and reflexes your training and native talent have given you. When you clear, Zoo takes a look at the readout. "Got through without damage. Fuel use a little sub-optimal, but only 2%. I call that an 'A'."
Later, a week after you actually emerge into realspace, you're in the galley grabbing one of the last bits of fresh fruit from Giana Prime. Sedge Csorba walks in with the same goal. How's that been going, Mei, since your therapy session?
Ksenia, when he hears the catch in your voice, Church stands and moves toward you. He takes your left hand between both of his and looks you directly in the eye.
"Ksenia, I know that you think of yourself as... damaged goods, somehow. It seems that you view these things—your reinstatement, your relationship with Taban—as some sort of gift from me. They are not. It is the strength of your heart, and your mind and body, that brings these things to you. If anything, I'm an agent of your own abilities and graces, a doorway that you were able to open to move closer to your desires. You needn't thank the door for allowing you to cross the threshold, Ksenia." He releases your hand.
Ksenia, Church smiles. "You're welcome." You continue to talk about a wide range of topics. A little politics, some discussion of books you've both read, even a sidebar on whether the Stalker Jane needs a cat. Eventually, he excuses himself. Before he moves into the hallway, he draws you into a brief, warm embrace. He whispers into your ear, "Thank you, Ksenia."
When you're only a few days out from the Home System, Dinah pings you. "Come plaaaaay with me, Ksenia! I'm booooored."
What do you do?
Mei, Csorba smiles as he reaches past you for the last pear. "You may not know this, Ensign Mei, but I'm fully aware of what you did for me. And I thank you for it." He reaches into a pocket and pulls out a tiny data cube. "If nothing else, Mei, I am effective. Activate this anywhere with superluminal communication available, and I will get a ping with your location. I'll use all my resources to get there quickly and give you the help you need." He has an uncomfortable look. "That's all I have. I don't have the tools for a more sincere statement of gratitude. Or apology."
When you enter, Ksenia, there's a bit of a surprise. Instead of a video game, there is a thin mat laid out on the game table, with a jumble of actual wood blocks tossed on it.
"New game, K." She starts stacking the blocks into a tower, three to a layer and alternating orientation. "You know how to play this?"
"Oh, K, yes, you just stack them, yes." She explains the rules, **Ksenia,** then says, "You can use your right arm, if you want... I'm still gonna kick your ass."
"Shoddy? These are antiques!"
You continue for quite a while. At some point eyes and engineering and dexterity become equally important. Dinah places a block and the tower teeters, but holds firm.
"Ho! Suck that, Cribbage! Whatcha got?"
Ksenia, the game will clearly be won or lost on your next move. Do you pull and place your block successfully? Or do you topple the precarious construction?
The journey comes to an end. Csorba takes Lana in charge and leaves the ship after tearful goodbyes, leaving you with a clone of the holocube with the pictures, Ksenia.
Psi Corps operatives take Dr. Yu in hand immediately upon docking, and you feel confident that they will crack the code of whatever is in Yu's head.
Speaking of Yu, how many tablets of TruLuv did you wind up with, when all is said and done?
OOC: talk amongst yourselves about that one.