Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: USS Kyushu, On Route to Starbase 235
Timeline: 1906 Hours, MD 2 (March 4, 2393)
So it was Malaya found herself at the same table by the port window. Her blue eyes darted from one person to the next. Smiling and shaking hands was a standard, especially with humans.
As she peeled her banana, she wondered why the males pretended to like a female, waited until the female left the group, and then same male told a very mean joke that made his male companions laugh.
More so, she watched one lad actually use that same smile on a young ensign of fiery red hair. He left with her not long after. His male shipmates were then taking bets on minutes spent with the female.
This part, Malaya was most confused about. Was the male in question so mean that all his female companions could not hold his interest? Did he prove his level of meanness to the female?
Frowning, she left that to ponder and began to eat her banana in peace.
"I think she likes you." Said Thelin, the Kyushu's Andorian assistant security chief.
Lieutenant Ismael Campos looked up from his bowl of Delvan pudding. "Wait, what?"
Thelin surreptitiously gestured at the Bajoran sitting all by herself in one corner of the mess hall. "Lieutenant Alkan Malaya. She hasn't taken her eyes off you since we sat down."
The truth was the woman had been observing everyone walking through the doors, but minor details.
Glancing over and then back at his friends, Ismael asked, "Isn't she one of the people we are bringing to Starbase 235?"
Lieutenant Liv Bancroft nodded. "Yeah, I think she's transferring to the . . . uh, Concordia . . . no, the Artemis . . . the Alpaca?" Giggling at that last one, she shrugged, "Well, anyway, she's cute. You should go talk to her."
"You think so?" Ismael didn't look entirely convinced.
"Of course." said Thelin as he gave his roommate a brotherly pat on the back. "I mean, when was the last time you got laid?"
With a grin Liv added. "Come on, what's the worst that could happen?"
"I don't know, I still can't step inside the sickbay whenever Diaz is there." Ismael shuddered at the thought.
"Well, unlike Diaz, she will be off the ship by 2300 hours tomorrow," Thelin reminded the man.
"Which means," Liv chimed in, "even if it doesn't work out, you won't have to see her ever again."
"Huh," Ismael thought about it a bit more. Perhaps they were right. What could possibly go wrong? "Very well," he stood up and emptied his glass of prune juice. "Here goes nothing."
The other two officers could barely contain their chuckles as their roommate marched off.
Thelin popped a grape into his mouth. "I heard from Berg that Alkan is a certifiable weirdo."
"Well, this should be fun." said Liv, leaning back into her chair, ready for the drama that was to unfold.
Malaya stopped eating her flavorful banana once she noticed footsteps coming closer. Her blue eyes darted up only so far as to see the newcomer's chin. Then went back to eating her food.
Taking a deep breath, Ismael stretched out his hand over the small table. "Hi, Lieutenant Alkan, I don't believe we have met. I'm Ismael Campos. I work over in engineering."
"Your engineers are lazy," Malaya pointed out bluntly. "That... or inefficient. I noticed they use cheaper-grade tools on their repair calls. Cheaper tools mean faster rate of replacement. Dull or cheap tools also have a four percent drop in repair efficiency."
Malaya went back to eating her banana, neglecting to take the man's hand.
For a few moments Ismael looked bewildered as his outstretched arm hung awkwardly in midair. Finally pulling his arm back, the engineer scratched the back of his head. "Actually our performance efficiency improved by 2 percent over last month." Wait, why am I talking about performance efficiency?
Malaya actually took a few moments to ponder that statement. Soon after, she shook her head, "That is all well and good, but there is always room for improvement. Does your engineers not strive to be the best engineering corps? I know many ships believe they have the best, but I suppose that it all subjective, yes?"
"Uh, yeah, I suppose." said Ismael, somewhat hesitantly. Quickly glancing in the direction of his roommates, he found the both of them grinning and giving him a thumbs up. He began to feel that somehow all of this was a setup, but he's already in it, and backing out now would be far more embarrassing than the humiliation Diaz put him through in front of the entire medical staff.
Clearing his throat, the engineer continued.
"Well, I think we started on the wrong foot." he said as he took the only other seat at the table. "How's your day? I heard you are transferring to the . . . uh . . ." What did Liv say Alkan was transferring to?
"Arcadia. It is an elysium class starship. Three cores with academic and diplomatic-grade capacity." Malaya pondered a moment on his last question. "I suppose my day is normal. I am anxious to get to my next posting, since I rarely get to perform engineering tasks here."
"Wow, really?" There was a slight hint of envy in Ismael's voice. "I have always wanted to get my hands on one of those fancy tri-core warp engines. I mean, just the level of energy output alone is record breaking, not to mention the brand new M/ARA implementation, although I heard the Elysium's AI went bonkers and had to be purged from the system . . ." That was when he noticed that Malaya was barely keeping eye contact. Was he really that boring? Diaz had apparently thought so and told him to his face in front of everyone - talking about public humiliation . . .
Clearing his throat, he tried to change the subject. "So, uh, what do you do for fun? I love hiking. Do you like hiking? I have some great hiking programs if you want give them a try. I mean, of course, you don't have to, but if you want, they are yours. Well, technically they are mine. I mean, I wrote them myself. But if you like hiking, I will be more than happy to share them with you. I mean . . . I guess, uh, so . . . hiking? " his voice trailed off as he realized that he had started to ramble. Be cool, Ismael, be cool.
"You talk a lot," Malaya noted bluntly as she focused mostly on the tabletop. "Are you wishing for precoital activity? Your speech is staggered... and you are perspiring."
"Yeah, sure . . . No, I mean, no, no, of course not . . . wait, what?" the look on the man's face was a mixture of confusion, awkwardness, and . . . excitement? Is she hitting on me? the thought raced through his mind.
"I do not have sex," Malaya spoke more directly, though she frowned. She preferred the more academic terms than common slang.
Ismael immediately threw up his hands in the air. "Wow, that's not what I meant." Shaking his head emphatically, he said, "Trust me, I don't want to sleep with you. Come on, why in the world would I want to sleep with you?"
That's when he realized that he might have sounded just a tad too dismissive. Not wanting Malaya to get the wrong idea, he quickly corrected himself. Yet again.
"Well, I mean, it's not that you are not hot or anything. You are very hot. Like super hot, so . . . yeah, I guess I do want to sleep with you . . . eventually . . . at one point . . . sometime in the future . . . but not like now now . . . or here." he chuckled nervously. "I mean, this is the mess hall after all. We can't just, well, 'do it' here." another nervous chuckle. "That would be super awkward . . . and hot . . . uh, that's not what I meant. That's so not what I meant. What I meant was . . . uh . . ."
The man sighed as he realized that the more he talked, the deeper the hole he was digging for himself. A quick glance behind him, he saw Thelin and Liv barely controlling their laughter. They totally set this one up.
"Have you been drinking? You are still studdering?" Malaya asked, oblivious to the fact there were snickers in the background.
"No, I haven't been drinking." Ismael quickly defended himself. "Well, I mean, I was drinking, but not like, drinking, drinking. It's more like prune juice kind of drinking . . ."
Malaya nodded in understanding... or so she thought.
"Soo.... you are not nervous. You just need to relieve yourself in a lavatory."
"Yeah, I just need to. . . wait, no, I don't need to use the, uh, lavatory." Who still says 'lavatory'? he mused to himself. In any case he needed to change the subject fast. Nothing killed the mood faster than talks of, uh, lavatory. He would know.
"Are those bananas?" he pointed to the very first thing he saw on the table, and before he knew it, the words had already rolled off his tongue. "I love bananas."
Wait, what am I saying? I'm allergic to bananas.
"You can have the rest of mine then," Malaya shrugged and broke off the bit she had not chewed on. Then handed it to him. "They are rich in potassium. Better than kava root, in my opinion."
"Yeah, potassium . . ." Ismael blinked at the proffered banana as his mind ran over the limited options he had at the moment: a) turning down the kind offer and offending Malaya, b) confessing his deadly allergy to bananas and admitting he's a total liar, or c) eating the banana and praying hell wouldn't break loose, at least not all of it.
"You do not like it?" Malaya asked, wondering why he was not instantly taking it from her hand.
"Of course I love banana!" Ismael insisted instinctively. Taking the proffered banana from Malaya, he smiled wryly. "I mean, why would anyone lie about loving bananas? That would be, uh, silly."
Gathering all the courage that's still in him, he swallowed the entire piece as if to prove his love of the tropical fruit.
Hmm, it isn't so bad. This just might work . . . . . . uh-oh . . .
"I believe the swelling around your neck and the shallow breathing means you are going into anaphylactic shock," Malaya surmised and looked around for help, all the while moving from her chair and readying to lay him on the floor for CPR...
[Meanwhile, A Few Tables Away]
Liv squinted her eyes as she watched Ismael took and then swallowed the banana Malaya had offered him. "Did he just . . ."
"Yes, he did." nodded an equally incredulous Thelin.
"But isn't he . . ."
"Yes, he is."
Both gasped as Ismael's face began to swollen and twist in pain. Springing up from their seats, they rushed over to where their friend was. As they both helped up a half-unconscious Ismael, Liv said to Malaya with an apologetic smile, "We will just take over from here, Lieutenant."
They had most certainly not planned for Ismael to eat bananas, and they might just have overdone it this time.
"He said he liked banana..." Malaya had a most confused expression as she watched him leave.
=/\=Torvis-Iber to Alkan.=/\= The Kyushu CO's voice came through the intercomm and interrupted her bewilderment. =/\=Looks like you will get to the Arcadia earlier than planned. We have just received word from Captain Lee. They won't be stopping by Starbase 235. We will rendezvous with them at about 1300 hours tomorrow instead.=/\=
=/\= Acknowledged. Alkan out. =/\=
The Bajoran stood up from her table and shook her head in disbelief. "People on this ship are without their wits."
Lieutenant Ismael Campos
Warp Propulsion Specialist
USS Kyushu NCC-65491
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
Lieutenant Alkan Malaya
USS Arcadia NCC-89015