[NOVA] Agira 2 (K/M 3.1)

edited September 2014 in NOVA

This is how it began, a note on paper in Ezekiel Church's fine hand, left on the large table in the lounge. The Stalker Jane is in dock, and the four of you have returned from a night of dinner and dancing, a little tired but happy. Dinah flirted up a storm, and it looks like she's going to get lucky tomorrow night if things work out. Zoo chatted with an old friend most of the night, an older man who is now running a small fleet for one of the major shipping companies.

The note. This is what it says:

I have been called away to deal with matters of some urgency. In my absence, please make your way to Agira 2 and contact my old friend Pierre Ayala. He is expecting you, and has all the details you will require.
—E. Church

What else would you do? You proceed to Agira 2, of course, and make the call as you approach the planet. Docking has already been arranged, so it's a matter of an hour or so before you are greeted by Ayala himself.

Pierre Ayala

He recognizes you instantly, and greets you all by name, kissing hands lightly.

"So, ladies. Are you ready for your vacation?"


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    I feel really odd with this guy's sweet demeanor and the rumors I've heard about Agira 2. They called it a Pleasure Planet in the Corps. Lots of guys talked about retiring there. Mei seems excited. Dai, too. Even Dinah. I'll just go with the flow. I hope they have a gym. Taban's going to make me go dancing, I just know it.
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    Such manners, this old dust devil. I like him, he's got class. You can see how he and Church are friends, sharks swimming in the same circles.

    "Vacation? I blurt. I was hoping we'd get some shore time during this mission, you know, Agira 2 and all that. "But... don't we... ?" My eyes dart as I try to recall the specifics of leave in the work contracts. I look back and forth between the crew and Ayala. "There's no mission?"
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    Zoo is quite enthusiastic.

    "Ooh. A vacation! And on Agira 2!"

    Pierre Ayala

    Ayala gives that charming smile.

    "I believe that Ezekiel's expression was team building, Ensign Mei. You and your friends are to be my guests. Ezekiel has implored me to see to it that you..." He looks up, clearly remembering, then continues in a more-than-creditable impression of Church's voice, "...relax. Dinah and Zoo shouldn't prove a problem, but I'm afraid the other two may forget how to breathe without a mission."

    "Oh, I'm not going to be a problem?" Dinah says, "We'll see about that." She is definitely flirting.

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    Dinah's into the old guy? Alright, fine, he's adorable, in his own way. Still, with Mei, and Zoo, I'm filled to the brim with opportunity, choking with it. I'm not sure if Zoo is upset that I've neglected her. I have grown much closer with Mei after losing the bet. It's hard not to, when you're spending so much time with one person.

    I hope this vacation isn't fighting. I'd like to kick back, feel actual ground under my feet.
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    "Vacation, team building, Uranus, Uranus! I could use some R&R." I'm looking around to my friends again, the set of my shoulders more relaxed and my face more open. "Trust me, I know how to breathe!" I scowl good-naturedly.

    Ooh, I hope there's a masseuse. Or a masseur. Or both.

    "Are there swimming pools?" I haven't been swimming in forever.
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    "Ensign Mei, I believe you will find the amenities quite to your satisfaction." His smile is enigmatic, but he grows serious as he continues. Still looking at you, Mei, he asks, "If you would do us all the favor of verifying that I am who I say I am?" He visibly relaxes himself, a quick meditation you recognize, and his identity is laid out for you to peruse.

    With a willing subject, the basics of the verification are easy. He is indeed Pierre Ayala, Ezekiel Church's old friend, and unless he's very good, he has no agenda other than what he's told you. He has a quite low-level psionic talent, what the classifications refer to as "Minor Empathy," and also one big Psi Corps-built wall that, to your mind, reads "Classified Ultraviolet Eyes Only"

    Pierre gestures and two porters come to take your baggage to a waiting hovercar.

    The drive to Agira City's harbor doesn't take more than a few minutes, and you soon arrive at a dock where a passenger hydrofoil awaits. After you're ensconced in what he refers to as the "ship's parlor," he signals via intercom to the captain that he may take the 'foil out at his leisure.

    "We'll be to the island in about five hours. Please make yourselves comfortable. If any of you would like a turn at the helm once we're out in open water, I'm sure Captain Sinnott can be persuaded."

    He moves to a well-stocked bar in the sumptuously appointed parlor and turns to face your quartet from behind it, looking completely natural. "Can I get you ladies anything?"

    Zoo and Dinah speak up in unison, as happens frequently. "Champagne!"

    What do you do?

  • edited September 2014
    As usual, Church plans for everything. Even let Mei scan his friend, just so we're comfortable. That's a relief. Not that we have any enemies we know of, except M-T is probably pissed at us for the mission on Giana Prime.

    I miss Lana.

    I'm sipping on my water bottle, not in the mood to turn off my inhibitors. I find a window seat and watch the landscape fly by. I miss the ground. I became a marine to stay on terra firma, but that never seemed to be the case. Always deckplates under my feet. Scenery is black with stars instead of grass and trees. Not that Mars was anything to look at, but a girl has dreams.
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    Just like in the academy, simple. The security block is a surprise. I wonder if he's aware of it. I can't dig too deep without giving something away, but I am cuious. "He is as he says. Pierre Mandelbrot Ayala, no food allergies but a dislike for beets." I grin. he hasn't tasted Zoo's cooking.

    I'll undo my hair, let it go and feel the breeze from the open window. Dai and Lourdes are like sisters, it's almost comical. "ONE glass, please. I want to take her for a spin." I sit by Ksenia and toast with her water bottle. She seems guarded, and I give her a questioning look. "This is a nice surprise, right?"
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    Mmmn, Mei let her hair down. Shit, that does something to me. Or maybe I just want her nearby. I'm feeling oddly melancholy. I don't know why. It's like, my brain is frakked up. Folks get happy, we're on vacation, I get withdrawn. What the hell is wrong with me?

    I nod to Mei's question, then ask my own, "You mind if I call you Taban on vacation?" I ask her soft, so only she can hear, glance over at her. I love how her hair frames her face when it's down. Her nose is so damn adorable.

    Then I'm looking back outside. "You like being on the ground?" I ask her softly still. I'm tempted to take her hand, but I don't. We're still in front of the crew, I'm still trying to decide how I feel about that.
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    "Ksenia, you can call me anytime." I giggle and roll my eyes at my quip. "Yes, please, sweet K," I whisper. Mmm, I love seeing her look at me and I shake my head in the wind.

    "The ground is different. The air is... rich, complex. Sometimes the pressure tickles my inner ears, like a scratch you can't itch. And there's so much life!" I wave a hand at a flock of Agiran gulls, diving for some kind of finned fish thing. "It's so different..." I trail off, staring at the water where it meets one of the rising moons. "There was one planet, one of the ringed ones of Uzara 165, where I made landfall during the cypress analogue pollination season. I didn't even know I had allergies! It was awful." I sip at my champagne and slip out of my shoes.
  • Mei, you and Zoo both take a turn at the helm of the Misplaced Heron, with Ksenia and Dinah looking. It's a dream to drive her, the foils lifting her out of the water so you can put on serious speed with almost no roughness to be felt from the low swells. The captain watches you, relaxed, as he explains some of the engineering marvels that go into a modern 'foil. It's clear he and Dinah will have a fuller chat later.

    While Zoo's got the wheel, Dinah makes a pronouncement. "My dear friends, from this point until we are back aboard the Jane, we are not coworkers or colleagues or anything but a quartet of friends enjoying what I'm sure will be an island paradise. No last names, no shop talk, no AdAstra. Well, maybe a little speculation about dear Ezekiel's 'urgent business,' but that's it. Are we agreed?"

    Zoo's cheerful, "Hear, hear!" is the first response.

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    "Allergies?" I ask, looking over at her. That sounds awful. She is a terrible sick person. Her nose turns red and she's pretty much bed-ridden. She caught something on the way back from that mission on Ganymede. I felt awful for her. She soldiered on, don't get me wrong, but I ended up working double so she could sleep it off. Poor Taban.

    I look over at Taban when Zoo suggests we do away with crew and just be friends. "It sounds great." I say aloud, but not yelling. "Think we can pull it off?"
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    "I like the water, very much." Looking at the rapid sparkling motes in our wake. I miss swimming. I don't think it's practical to install a pool on the Jane. "What about you, Ksenia? Do you like the ocean? Planets in general?"

    I toast Dinah, teasing. "Not even a little shop talk, Miss I-Like-to-Tinker?" I wonder what's urgent for Chuch? I hope it's nothing serious.
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    Mei's attitude is helping me shake off this oddness. I think again about holding her hand, but she's toasting Red, so I just sit there, watching them. I chuckle knowingly when Mei teases Red. I say loud enough for them all to hear, "Red has her own designs on fun, I think." She's looking to scratch an itch, and Ayala might be her first scratching post.

    After the toast, I answer Mei, "I like to swim, but I hardly ever get to do it in, you know, natural water. I love being on the ground, Taban. Love it. It feels, I dunno, substantial. Important." I look away, sort of frown, brush some hair out of my face, "Does that make any sense? It's probably weird for you, a spacer. You were born for shipboard living. I'm just a ground pounder."
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    I give her a wink and throw an arm round her shoulder. Mam, yes, mam.

    I look into the distance, thinking of a much younger Mei. "I used to get a touch of agoraphobia on my first few jaunts. I mean, having no ceiling was very strange." I relax more into Ksenia. I can vacation!

    "What about you two? What do you like in a planet?" I look over at Dai... er, Zoo and Dinah.
  • edited September 2014

    After all interested parties have had a turn at the helm, Pierre Ayala announces that refreshments are available in the ship's parlor. It's a sumptuous spread, with cheese and fresh fruit and the finest potted meat, even several delicious and unfamiliar fruit juices.

    You have several hours of leisure, ocean as far as the eye can see on all sides, to chat about planets and vacations and any old thing. It is decided that discussing a "ship's pet" is not shop talk. Dinah and Zoo are split. Dinah agrees with Church's previously expressed preference for a cat, while Zoo is strongly in favor of a hupu, a small tailless primate from Lafcadio.

    Ksenia, Mei, do either of you toss an opinion in the ring? Have you ever had a pet?

    As promised, about five hours after you left the harbor, you come in sight of an island in the distance. As the Misplaced Heron docks, this is what you see:

    Ainhoa Island

    "Welcome to Ainhoa, my dears. I'll show you to your bungalows so you can freshen up, then perhaps you'd like to meet your fellow guests?"

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    I don't really express an opinion, except that I don't want a pet. I'm not strident about it, not a bitch. But animals weren't pets where I grew up. They were food for the rich folks, and pests for the rest of us. You remember the rat story? Yeah. I really don't want to shut them down. As long as I don't have to take care of it, and as long as it isn't in my room, I'm good.

    I spend most of the time watching outside, soaking it in. I think I catch a few Zs in there sometime. Never did hold Mei's hand. I said it in my head, an open declaration of me and her as a couple for the whole trip, taking her hand and all that.

    But then, I saw Dai smiling and I just didn't. I've grown really close with Taban over the last few months. But... I don't know. I'm selfish. I ruin everything. Red's right. Frak.
  • Mei-header

    I fall on the fruit, of course. I'll try everything. I'm a little fussier with cheese, so Pierre guides me to choice selections.

    I express concerns about a nonsentient primate on a ship. This hupu, it does have thumbs, right? I'm curious but cautious, never having had closeness to an animal pet. Cats do have a pretty grace, from what I've seen.

    "We have bungalows?" The thrill of the hydrofoil, the speed, the champagne (maybe two glasses), the closeness to Ksenia, and I'm practically bouncing in half-gee. The colors...! The sky...! The light...! Maybe I'll try watercolors.

    Ksenia seems troubled, or withdrawn, or something. I promise to cheer her up, and steal a few kisses.
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    Ever the bold one, Mei kisses me right in front of Dai and Red. It was a surprise, but I play it off. "That champagne got to you, Taban?" I ask her, and yeah, it makes me smile the way she's looking at me. I try to push the odd thoughts off my face, maybe forget them. I need to be here, not caught in my own head.
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    I mock-punch her in the shoulder. "We're on vacation, right?" What's going on in her eyes? Oh, my Ksenia, be happy. "I don't hear you complaining."
  • A porter meets you at the dock, and he and Ayala share your luggage as they walk you down a beautiful weathered board trail toward a group of low buildings. Low, that is, but not small, you see, as you get closer. A cluster of four low bungalows, centered on a polished stone courtyard with a firepit and wet bar at the center. You each have your own bungalow, airy and light in the early evening breeze, with windows open and gauzy white curtains blowing.

    After bags have been deposited in each individual bungalow, Ayala speaks to the group. "Please, make yourselves at home. This is my home, and I'm pleased to share it with you. All the amenities of the main house are available to you at your convenience, and I'll show you around in the morning. Take whatever time you need to freshen up and look around. I know Premier Lovejoy, Dr. Upshaw, and Ms. DeJesus are looking forward to meeting you, whenever you can join us at The Landing." Those last two words are clearly capitalized in his speech.

    The porter has already left, heading toward the big house, and Ayala bows his head formally before he also turns to leave.

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    "I'm not complaining, chica. But the last time you got drunk, you complained... remember?" Am I being a wet blanket? I feel like a wet blanket. Or something like it, right now.

    I slide an arm around lil Mei and walk over towards her bungalow with her, "It's okay, Taban. It's vacation, right? Get trashed, you can trust your cr- your friends. I'll take advantage of you, of course. But the others won't." I lean to whisper in her ear, "Except... maybe your secret admirerrrrr." It makes me giggle a little.
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    I pout. "I am not drunk." Much. No, really. But I am definitely feeling that last glass of champagne. And the relaxing atmosphere, and the vacation, and the speed of the 'foil, and the beach, and my Ksenia.

    Mmm, hold me. I am not trashed! She leans in and I steal another lingering kiss. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? Taking advantage of little drunk me." I look up, languid and trusting. The admirer again. I pinch her ass, slipping my hand into her butt pocket as we walk. "Who do you think it is?"
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    I jerk a little when she pinches my ass. This is really setting off alarms in my brain, the whole PDA thing. But I'm keeping my cool. "I do like taking advantage of you. Except, you make it so easy. You totally suck at playing hard to get, Taban." My tone is light, despite the pointed words. I kiss the tip of her cute nose. "As for who it is... I have no idea. It could be Red. Maybe she'll sneak in and take advantage of you tonight." I squeeze her shoulder and snicker.
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    I smile slowly. Easy? Not this Taban. "Easy?" Maybe I look wicked. Certainly playful. I take hold of her hand off my shoulder and walk a few paces, swinging hands happily, looking at the clouds...

    "Then catch me, Ksenia." I drop her hand and take off to the bungalow at a sprint, laughing.
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    "Oh!" I yell as she takes off. I have longer legs, one of them more powerful than anything natural, but she's a damn hare as she takes off. I keep close, but she always seems to duck just out of the way. I'll just outlast her. I don't want to tackle her. Not until we're near a couch. Or a bed. Or some sand. Or a pool.
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    I run just fast enough to make her work for it. I beat her in sparring, I can beat her in a footrace. But I want her to catch me. Oh yes.

    I make a sharp hairpin turn to swing past Zoo and Dinah, grinning right back at them. I catch Ksenia's surprised look when I pull that one off. "Whoops, almost!" I taunt.

    I want us to wind up in the bungalow, or maybe just... the pool! I adjust course, legs pumping.

    I'll slow down like I'm running low on steam. As if.
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    A growl escapes my lips (Where did that come from?) when she taunts me. I chase her into her bungalow and gently tackle her, opening my arms wide to pick her up and deposit her on the couch, which is huuuuge.

    Then I dive on top of her, "Got you, lil Mei!" I begin to tickle her mercilessly.
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    "Mmm, chase me, catch me..." I hiss into her ear as she carries me.

    "Ahhh!" She knows how ticklish I am, and I'm flipping and wiggling and flopping, giggling and squealing and embarrassing myself. It's lovely. I try to get her back in a few places, but I lose my grip and almost fall off the giant couch, but she grabs me and I bite my lip and still squirming and laughing.

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    I see Mei about to fall and grab her shapely leg to pull her back on. Then, I tickle her a little longer, goosing her tummy and laughing with her. Hot damn, this has never gotten her worked up before. What a weird thing. I grab for her wrists and try to push them back over her head. Whether I succeed or not, I'm kissing her.
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    "Oh," I say, softly. She's really holding me down, with a look in her eye. I'm blushing hard, this is turning me on more than I realized. She also, it seems.

    Then she kisses me so hard my toes curl, and my legs are weakly moving, my hips rocking back and forth underneath her.

    When she stops for breath, I blink, getting her back in focus. She's so complex and lovely. "I love you," and I just am, just me, just her.

    I tug my wrists under her grip a touch, and naughtily say, "Oh dear, I can't get away. Whatever will you do with me?" I roll my hips while I lock my eyes with her dark ones.
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    I hold her hands down and silence her with some more kissing for a little. But finally I pull away. It isn't easy. I sit up on my knees, panting a little, and say, "Senor Ayala wants us to freshen up, you tart. I'm not going to ignore his kind offer and frak you senseless...
    no matter how much you beg."
    Then I scoot back, putting on foot on the floor, releasing her hands, then I stand.
  • Mei-header

    Hmph. "I thought he said 'whenever' and 'in the morning.'" I sit up. My hair is rumpled. I made her pant and I smile a secret smile to myself.

    I'd much rather hop in the shower with her.


    I'm leaning back on my elbows, not fully wanting to leave this decadent couch.

    "Are you okay?"
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    "Senor Ayala said he wanted to introduce us to the other residents or servants or whatever at The Landing. You're drunk." I grab her foot, and pretend I'm going to yank her off. Then I let go, and walk away from the couch. If I don't, right now, I'm going to leave everyone waiting for us. There's always tonight.

    As I head to my own bunglaow. "Don't be late, Taban."
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    I watch her turn to leave and I can't almost believe it. "I'm not that drunk, K." But I am pouting a little, hurt.

    But she has her own bungalow.

    Which means she's not staying with me.

    I watch her go.

    What did I do wrong? Isn't this a vacation? How can you be late for 'whenever?'

    I don't really feel like meeting anyone right now.
  • ---END SCENE---
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