Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: USS Arcadia
Timeline: MD 3 (March 5, 2393)
::Big Belly Burger, Deck 3::
Lansen's lips twitched and his brows tightened. He looked down at the chronometer, and his heart pounded ever faster. At this rate, he would be parting ways with his precious ring in about . . . eight seconds. Looking back up, he grimaced as the short-haired blonde on the other side of the table stuffed another triple-cheese-bacon slider into her already stuffed mouth, her lips smeared with Cardassian yamok sauce and Andorian ketchup. In the name of all that was sane, how was there still room in there?! And there goes another one. She had barely even touched her glass of water! This . . . this was madness of celestial magnitude. It . . . it was . . . over.
As the time ran out on the chronometer, the small crowd that had gathered around the table broke into rapturous cheer.
"Wess!!" Terri jumped up from her seat and pumped her fists in the air. Her cheeks still puffed like a Salerian chipmunk, she demanded, "Poo uff, roozr!!"
Alenis could barely hold back her chuckles as she turned to hapless man. "She said, 'Pay up, loser.'" Quickly raising both of her hands, she added, "I'm just translating here."
Lansen looked at the Bajoran and then the blonde. With a long sigh, he slumped back into his seat and slid across the table a latinum-plated ring, on the face of which was etched a grinning quarter-pound cheese burger surrounded by the words: Big Belly Burger Centennial 2341.
Terri grabbed the ring and pumped her fists in the air again - she could now finally complete her BBB memorabilia collection. This was a momentous occasion by any measure and she must celebrate it with some well deserved gloating. Stabbing her fingers at a crestfallen Lansen across the table, she broke into her signature celebratory dance, which consisted of . . . some . . . movements . . . of her limbs.
"Naw whooz th poozr, yuu poozr! Twaaw no kuure, soe yuu!! Poh gooseane woe . . ."
As a bewildered Lansen looked to Alenis, the Bajoran shook her head and shrugged. She had no idea what the girl was saying. But she was happy, and that's all that mattered. At that thought, Alenis broke into a smile.
Malaya did not get the point of competition eating and she was not so sure she wanted to understand it. She did enjoy the occasional Andorian tyrk burgers though. Similar of a sirloin, but juicier.
She was in civilian clothes. Off-duty from a light shift while her arm healed. The Bajoran engineer knew Terri instantly, from the mission reports and was eager to meet it.
With a tug on her beige tunic and a gentle shake to get the wrinkles out of her navy slacks, Malaya walked over to the table. Burger in hand, and Malaya opened the dialogue the best way she should in this situation...
"You ate your meal rather savagely," Malaya began with what she hoped was praise, then took a bite of her own Andorian burger. Brie cheese with sauteed Vulcan green onions.
Terri raised an eyebrow at the stranger, who had just came out of seemingly nowhere.
"What do you want?" she asked bluntly before shifting her attention to the burger in the other woman's hand. The truth was, after two whole plates of triple-cheese-bacon sliders, she could use some palate cleanser, and that Andorian tyrk burger looked so good. And yes, burgers were perfectly legitimate palate cleansers, and she would fight anyone who said otherwise. To the death.
Skiddish, Malaya took a step back while at the same time offering the woman her partially-eaten burger.
"I come in peace, I come in peace," the Bajoran engineer spoke in a small panic. "I just wanted to discuss engineering projects, is all."
Terri blinked, somewhat confused. She had simply asked her what she wanted. Why would she offer her burger as a . . . uhr, peace offering? . . . Didn't matter. What's important was that someone had just offered her a burger, and Terri Cornelia Lee would never turn down a burger so juicy, so tender, so mouth-watering. Taking the burger from the other woman, she began devouring it. Mmmm, so goooood.
Alenis looked at the other Bajoran, then Terri, and then back at the other woman. "I'm sorry, who are you again?"
"Lieutenant Alkan..." Malaya was looking rather a skeptic all the sudden. "Ch-ch-chief engineer."
By the time the Arcadia's chief engineer finished, the burger had already disappeared into Terri's belly. Wiping off the concoction of sauces that smeared her lips with a quick swipe of her sleeve, Terri looked up and said, "What engineering projects?"
Was it wrong to mourn a burger? Malaya did for only a moment. She had the credits to buy another, after all.
"Erm... Several. But my most promising project is building a tetreyon reactor." Malaya dove into her work, as that was what made her socially comfortable. "A far cleaner FTL form of travel if I can stabilize the quantum fields."
"Tetryon reactor?" Terri raised a slight eyebrow as she drank from her glass of mineral water. "What makes you think you can make it work?"
The truth was, where she's from, Starfleet had already tried to develop a tetryon reactor. She was not part of the team that worked on the project, but she heard they were never able to stabilize the quantum fields long enough for it to have any practical application, and the entire project was terminated with the onset of the war. Of course, she was not gonna tell Alkan that. Temporal Prime Directive and all. But if she's honest with herself, a side project might just be the kind of distraction she needed to keep her mind off everything that had happened since last night, that's, of course, until the Arcadia caught up with the Themyscira. Then she would make Ishikawa pay for her betrayal.
"One of the major theories is that tetryon particles need some sort if stabilizing counterpart. Much like matter and antimatter. So my first idea is to experiment with combining tetryon with various particles in the lab," Malaya admitted. "Of course, we use holographic simulations before we actually test live.... We would not want to blow a hole in the hull from being flippant with stable and unstable particles that have never fused and reacted with each other before."
Now that Malaya thought about it, she did make it sound as if a loss of limb could happen. Maybe if she worked on her approach a bit more, lab assistants would be more willing? That might be why in her previous postings, only the crazy ones tended to end up working with her.
Given Terri's way of devouring meat on a bun, Malaya was starting to wonder just that.
Terri did not answer, and instead she looked to Alenis as she bit into a gigantic piece of Sanrian banana she had just seemingly pulled out of nowhere.
Alenis knew that look in Terri's eyes. She would have jumped on Alkan's offer if not for the temporal prime directive. She probably still would if she sat on the idea for long enough. Terri was not exactly known for her patience. And that's when she came in: if Terri was gonna take up on the offer eventually anyway, she might as well make sure that the directive would be maintained as much as possible. And to do that, she need to make sure that Alkan knew exactly what Terri's involvement would entail.
Looking up at the other Bajoran, Alenis lowered her voice, "Lieutenant Alkan, since you are part of the Arcadia's senior staff, I assume you know who we are?"
"Your uniform marks you as one of the future," Malaya stated matter-of-factly. "Is your future knowledge likely to interfere with my project?"
Alenis looked at Terri before turning her attention back to Malaya.
"That I can't say, Lieutenant. I'm not an engineer or a scientist, but in any case, there are . . . protocols that must be followed, and . . ."
"I assume there are things that cannot be stated," Malaya interrupted. "Well then . . . so long as you swear not to violate the Temporal Prime Directive, we should have no complications."
"I promise," Terri finally interjected, grabbing both of Alenis' hands with hers, "I promise I won't tell them anything they don't already know in 2393."
Alenis glanced between the other two women. "Alright. Just don't blow up the lab again."
Terri broke into a big grin. "Scout's honor!'
Malaya suddenly realized that maybe she was not the most dangerous person to handle volatile particles. Regardless, she tried to put on a brave face despite the feeling of impending doom.
Terri's grin widened. Turning to Malaya, she offered the other woman half of her fruit. "Banana?"
Lieutenant Terri C. Lee
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
Lieutenant Lauren Alenis
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)
Lieutenant Alkan Malaya