[NOVA] Payoffs and Sendoffs (K 2.15, M 2.11)

edited September 2014 in NOVA

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?


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    Let's be honest. I didn't offer her something I didn't want a little myself. Sure, I miss some alone time with Zoo, and the diagnostics machine, but my girl earned it.

    I could tell you about when I gave her a full body massage, using the special settings on my arm and all. Or the time when we sneaked out to the refresher and I washed her hair. Washed her whole body, really, but spent extra time with her hair. It was sensual and rather amazing. Of course, there was the night I read her to sleep. Meaning I read a book of poetry to her as she fell asleep in my arms.

    But the one that was the hardest, that was posing for her. I laid there, in the buff, for what felt like a hundred hours, and let her draw me. It seemed to make her really happy. She didn't do me justice, really. The girl in the picture was pretty cute. I didn't tell Taban that, of course.
  • edited September 2014
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    The immediate payoff was very delicious, let me tell you. Or so she told me. Right after the victory buzzer, I was exceptionally glad the DND seal was intact. And since she somehow managed to strip off my bottoms in the brawl (of course she did) I ensured that I won the victory point by pinning her down, me bare, sweaty, triumphant on my love. So naturally I took advantage of her submission. Shocking, really.

    We had a movie date, just the two of us. With real popcorn and synth butter. We watched some old black-and-white flat detective movie that was from actual film, and one of the latest musical adaptations that we both knew all the lyrics to.

    And yes, I had Ksenia make use of a few choice custom items, quietly 3D-printed off the books, with some knowing looks from Lourdes. And yes, we both took a few turns. And no, I'm not telling you anything else more.

    You know what I really wanted? I wanted her to tell me about Mars. About Lana. About why she was, she is, so angry. She's my heart, and I don't like to see my heart in pain.
  • Ksenia, Mei, in the few weeks before you reach "home," both of you have a significant moment with Lana. Tell us about that, please?


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    This moment happened early in the voyage.

    For whatever reason, Ksenia decided to sleep in that day. I can't imagine why she would be tired... or sore. But I set her some water and juice for when she was ready to roll out of bed and I headed to the gym to work out.

    Coincidentally, Lana was in the middle of her workout routine, a beautiful set of motions and controlled poses, somewhere between modern dance, ballet, yoga, and tai chi. One thing led to another and we wound up working out together and talking about dance and gymnastics, trading moves. Of course, she's a professional dancer, so I did as best I could to keep up. Not ballroom dancing, mind you, just dance. I'm very pleased with the new audio in the Jane's gym.

    It was a delight to exert without drama, and my measure of Lana as a person changed for the better. My thoughts did drift to Dinah once or twice. When does she work out, I wonder?
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    I was doing my 5 AM jog around the Jane when I nearly ran over Lana. She was dressed in a tight top and cute yoga pants, headed to her own morning routine. I'd missed her all the other mornings, but evidently she wanted to coincide with me. Which meant she wanted to talk.

    I grumpily went into the gym while she stretched, watched her move with grace and envied every moment of it. She took her time, like a cat. Lana is a cat, so much like a cat, sleek and beautiful and frustrating as all hell. I was about to make an excuse about getting back to my jog when she headed over to her little towel. And pulled out a holocube.

    She showed me pics of her family. And us, back then. some of her recitals, too. Her Black Swan performance, the pics of me leaving for Space Corps training. Our classmates, which she told me stories about everyone of them, updated me on where they were, all the juicy gossip.

    I'll tell you, but don't spread it around. I cried like a baby. I mean, it was the ugly kind of crying, with snot and everything. Very gross. She still hugged me. Damn if I didn't wish I'd beaten Mei. I really wanted to see her with Lana. Like, two dancers... I mean. wow.


    Lana and me, we're good again.
  • 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."

  • edited September 2014

    It hurts, Zoo. I feel inadequate and aroused and uncertain and curious all at the same time. I'm irrationally scared Ksenia will leave me for you... I don't know what you give her that I don't, and I try, try, try. Even if I didn't share her, I know she'd be thinking of you. And that hurts too. As it turns out, I don't like sleeping alone.

    I glance at her; she's lovely in the spattered light of the displays, glinting off her augments. "It's complicated, Captain, but I love Ksenia and want her to be happy. Being generous is good karma, right?" I smile lightly and adjust a dial on the sim, but I'm just fiddling. Why am I nervous? Don't cry, Mei. How is this easy for Kesnia?
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    When Church comes in, I sit up, of course. At attention, reflexively. He asks for feedback, and I nod. Interesting that he seeks it in an informal way. He read my report. He knows my official words on it, but maybe he thinks I glossed over things? Does he think I tried to save his feelings?

    "Sir," I start, trying to shift to a more familiar tone. It's not easy for me. I like structure. I like bosses. I offer a twitch of a smile as I relax my shoulders. "You were sharp, Church. I didn't sniff any rust if you felt rusty. When I met with Lana, you kept me on task. When we moved on Yu at the restaurant, you caught the third guard's tell when I approached Lana. That was vital. Also, when I tried to take out the guards, you saved my bacon. I was toast on number three, but you had him cold."

    I give him a level look, "I am proud to have called you a partner, Ezekiel. It makes working for you even more interesting knowing you're good at this job as well as running things."

    There's a thing I want to chat with him about, but I'm waiting until he's satisfied with his assessment.
  • edited September 2014

    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.

  • Mei-header

    "I don't want to take away her candy, or fish, or whatever. She'll still want it, you, someone else somehow. I need to woman up and deal. People do this all over." I nod once, talking myself up. I look at her, culled emotions chasing themselves over my face. "I don't want that off the table, though."

    I nibble my lip just a little bit before I catch myself. I wouldn't mind if you fished in my pond, Captain. I feel the tips of my ears getting warm and I hope my psi isn't leaking. Focus, Mei!

    Back to the Sim. "Good one, Zoo." I'm looking at the overview, then back to her. "What's the worst you've seen for a transition?"
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    That's... kind of adorable. I give him a smirk of a smile and nod a little.

    When I see he's relaxed, I broach the subject, "Ezekiel, I want you to know I, ah, really appreciate all that you've done for me. The rank, getting back in the Corps, looking the other way with Mei and, well, me. I never thought I'd have these... things." I stop talking there, starting to choke up a little.
  • "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?

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    Trained reflexes and honed instinct take control, emotions shoved aside. I just act.

    "Angle the deflector shields, route power to engines, give me scans!" My fingers fly across the controls, making the sim-ship dance. I look for the largest fragments, estimating vectors, sliding the ship between chunks. I find a big one and match its velocity, trying to tuck the ship into the lee of the storm.

    "Walking between the raindrops," I mutter to myself, not realizing the distant serious smile I hold. I'm looking rapidly as a bird, taking in information, flying.
  • 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.

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    Wow. Church rocks.

    "Thank you, Ezekiel." I say with complete sincerity. I'm stunned, really. I want to believe he's right, I have worked hard to get here, I thought I'd lost it all, but two successful missions can get you the notice of Psi Corps, plus I was trained to "handle" Mei. That's pretty frakking important to the Psi Corps.
  • 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-header

    It's been odd.

    Csorba is detached and cool. My guess is that he is downplaying his desire and doesn't want to get too close. Professional.

    Lassiter is really funny, and so personable. It's no wonder that he had such stress in the persona. I don't see him much.

    I think I've made a real difference for them.
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    What the hell else would I do? I put way my datapad novel and head over to the Engine Room. As soon as the door opens, I offer her a grin, "Hey Red. I'm here to entertain you." I'll head over to the gaming table and have a seat, see what video game she wants me to trash her playing.
  • 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.

    Wooden Blocks

    "New game, K." She starts stacking the blocks into a tower, three to a layer and alternating orientation. "You know how to play this?"

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    "No idea, Red." I answer honestly. I watch her stack the blocks, three-by-three. "You just stack them?" This sounds lame. Is there drinking involved?
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    I take the cube, surprised at its size... and the power it represents. "I didn't know, Mr. Csorba. I hope you are... adjusting. As for the other two matters, all skills are tools that must be honed. Thank you, and I accept your apology." I take the third-to-last mango.
  • "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."

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    I shrug, "I can use my left. Need the practice anyway." I watch her take a block, move it on top. Then I do the same. Slow and steady, seems easy enough. Looking at the stack while I replace my block on top, like she did, I remark, "These blocks don't really fit together very well. I assume the shoddy workmanship's on purpose? To add challenge?"

  • "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?

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    I saw the lopsided tower shudder when I first started to pull the block, so I took my fingers off, let it settle. On the second attempt, the thing shimmied side to side a little, but it came free. I held it in my hand, like a gun, pretending to shoot Dinah. It was funny. "This antique game doesn't suck." I said with a grin.

    That's when the tower fell.
  • 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.

    ---End Session---

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