A Budding New Command USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Bridge
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As far as a Captain's maiden voyage went, The USS Beifong had been given one of the more unique ones tasked to them. However, 'unique' never scared Captain Lian T'su and she rarely passed up an opportunity to encounter the strange wanders of deep space. Though the USS Beifong was not quite the marvelous vessel that Lian would have chosen were she presented the opportunity to have this particular mission and get to select a command of her choosing. 'There is little time to stop and smell the flowers Li Li' she heard the voice of her beloved grandmother in her head. Her grandmother, rest her old soul, was gone and at peace now and Lian still had a lot to think about and her new command to focus on.

Truth be told, Captain Lian T'su was quite proud of her new command already. She had not put it through all the tests yet herself, but the Beifong was a starship with a relatively short yet well experienced life....much like herself. Captain Lian T'su was forty six years old, and had finally committed to taking a command of her own. She had served aboard many of fine starships, under some of the damn best Captain's Starfleet had to offer. She, herself, had fought in quite a few skirmishes, and had even survived the Dominion War and Borg Invasions. Whether that was something to be proud of or not, she was not one to cast judgment. She had lived and many others, including friends had died during those conflicts.

The Beifong entered service in February of 2373 as one of the first few batches of Defiant-class starships. She was commanded by then Captain Hiromi Sulu who was grayed with age and experience, with a Sulu in command, the Beifong proved to be an incredible starship, participating significantly in the Dominion War and years after. 'You are getting a awfully fine, Starship, Captain. Treat her with respect and she'll lead you through the dark times just fine' the voice of Hiromi Sulu brought a smile to her face as she left her Ready Room and walked out onto the Bridge.

She saw the ship's dedication plaque hanging with such distinguished honor and approached it, finding her eyes drawn the its inpspirational quote and philosophical words. ”If you look for the light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, that is all you'll ever see” mouthed Lian silently as she let the words sink deep within her. There was something about this starship that was truly special. Hiromi had told her that the ship had a spirit of its own and that in deep meditation, he could often hear it, but Lian was not one for meditation. She was more practical than spiritual.

Carrying a PaDD with her, she proceeded to the turbolift in order to get herself out from the confined enclosure that constituted as the Captain's Ready Room. It was basically Starfleet's modern day version of a cubical aboard a starship of Beifong's size. It was not designed for comfort, families, or diplomatic missions. She sure the hell was not designed for deep space missions either, but here she was on her way to the Gamma Quadrant because the Task Force felt the need to have a more tactical presence in the Quadrant given the increased activity of pirates, cartels, bandits, and the Golden Stars.

With only five entire decks, there was not really anywhere a starship Captain could hide. Her Ready Room was too confining and she did not believe in bringing work into her private quarters. It was her one true sanctuary aboard. She opted to go down to deck two where the Mess Hall had been slightly expanded and converted recently into a tearoom or “Tea Lounge” had been implemented. It was one of Captain Hiromi Sulu's final commands and recommendations that was approved. Gone was the usual mess hall and born was the “Tea Lounge” which the crew so far seemed to enjoy.
Where The Healing Happens USS Beifong - Deck 3 - Sickbay
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“You are going to get us both in trouble if you don't come done from there, Julian” said the blue eyed doctor as he stood in the middle of Sickbay with his hands on his hip starring at the big furry oaf that was on one of the biobeds shedding its fur and a wagging its tail excitedly.

Doctor Landon Milo had come aboard just a few hours ago and the USS Beifong was well underway. However, he and Julian, mostly Julian was enjoying the newness of their new home together. “I am starting to think, Julian, that we haven't been going through so many assignments because of me, but rather because of you” Landon said with a chuckle to which the canine responded happily with some barks. “I'm serious” said Landon shaking his head. “Resolute, Venture, Black Hawk, Teplan, Katana, and Ophinias” added Landon, listing all the posting they had served at in nearly two years. The dog simply looked at him blankly.

Landon let out a soft sigh. “Okay okay, so Resolute was short term and most of the crew moved over to the Venture, and Teplan was a special assignment, and Ophinias was my fault. But I am holding you to blame for the others” joked Landon as he approached the biobed and scratched the dog behind its ears. “Who's a good boy, huh? Who's is my good boy?” asked the Chief Medical Officer teasingly.

Having been so caught up in playing with Julian, Landon had failed to notice that the two of them were no longer alone in Sickbay. Standing there, off in the corner with a PaDD in hand was the tall slender figure of a young male with dark brown hair and somewhat blue, but questionably hazle eyes. Nervously, the young man spoke up in reply “Uh I am not sure what you are asking, Doctor. Am I your good boy?” asked the Crewmen with a shakiness to his voice.

The vocal response startled Landon who turned red faced in embarrassment and winced internally for being so distracted. He was both empathic and telepathic yet unfocused. He had not sensed the closeness of the young man's emotional aura. “No, I don't believe so...but I can sense you are good at least” quipped Landon with a small smile. “Are you my nurse?” asked Landon, noticing the man was carrying a PaDD with him.

“Is that hairy creature our patient?” asked Einar hesitantly before answering the doctor's question.

Landon nearly snorted and shook his head. “Oh Gods no, I most certainly hope not” replied Landon with a soft chuckle. “I'm a pediatrician, not a veterinarian” added the Chief Medical Officer, “So, nurse....?” Landon said subtly seeking a name to put with the young face.

The Brunali man extended his arm and offered his hand as a gesture of professionalism and friendship. “Einar” he replied simply. Soon adding “But I am not your nurse, Sir. I'm just a medical technician” added Einar who turned his head to show his rank to the Chief Medical Officer.

“Oh I see” replied Landon with a nod. “Crewmen Einar” added Landon after noticing the man's rank. “I thought you were a bit young looking to be a nurse. I am still waiting for the medical staff to all check in. You are the first” explained the half Betazoid half Risan man.

Einar nodded and approached the doctor after shaking the man's hand. He handed the Chief Medical Officer his PaDD with his transfer orders on them. “Medical Technician, Einar reporting as ordered, Sir” added Einar formally. “I am happy to have made it aboard. I think I spotted a nurse or two earlier in the corridors, but I can't say for certain.”

Landon gave the man's transfer orders a quick look over and looked up at the Brunali with smile. “The Pathfinder, eh? I met Commander Rachel McKinley once at a conference back when she was a science officer. It is interesting to see she went on to command a starship. I am sure she's losing a fine Medical Technician, but I am pleased we are gaining one” said Landon politely.

Einar moved closer to bio bed and Julian welcomed him by licking his hand gently. “Is this a dog?” asked Einar curiously. He had seen dogs before while on Earth, but this one was a lot different than he had been used to seeing. “It looks big.” Examining the dog's collar further, Einar found something that really interested him. “It's in Starfleet?” asked Einar somewhat taken aback.

Doctor Milo moved towards the bio bed and Julian took that as an indication he should move which he finally did jumping down and heading off to explore the small Sickbay. “It” said Landon “Is a he” he said correcting Einar carefully. “Julian has proved himself to be more than just a simple dog and more than Starfleet property. He has earned the respect of many crews and has saved countless lives. Starfleet has given him a provisional rank of Crewmen” explained Landon.

The Brunali medical technician let the words sink in. He had no problem with that dog and returned the introduction by saying “Hello, Julian” to the dog and nodding at Landon. “I understand, Doctor” said Einar simply. The dog aboard hold the same rank I do. What happens if he gets promoted? Do I have to take orders from a dog? pondered Einar. It was times like these that he wished he had Ion around. This would have been a fun discussion to have with the engineer.

The Chief Medical Officer handed the PaDD back to Einar. “Crewmen, I've given my approval of you starting your duties here in Sickbay. You need to take this to...well, take it to Captain T'su. The First Officer won't be aboard for another couple of weeks. The Captain will handle personnel matters until then” explained Landon, dismissing the young Brunali crewmen.
Just A Little Tinkering USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Main Engineering
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“Arrrrrrg!” shouted the green skinned engineer as he let out a groan of frustration. If I bumped my elbow or hit my freaking head one more time crawling through this god forsaken tiny shit can of a starship... he thought as his mind went off on yet another tangent. The whirring of the engines and the alluring synchronization was like a harmoic synphony to his elegant Human-Orion ears. “Fuck yeah, I'm good” he said to himself as he crawled out from beneath a small, narrow work tunnel, exiting back into main Engineering.

“Good job, Chief” commented the Petty Officer as she clapped her hands teasingly.

“Shut up, Spinelli” he said flipping off the enlisted engineer. “And for the love of God, don't call me that. I told you...Rhett or Ens-” he began and reached up, rubbing his hands over the two pips. “Lieutenant” he corrected himself. “Or if you must, ACTING Chief Engineer” he added shaking his head.

“Really?” replied Petty Officer Spinelli, placing one hand on her wait and raising an eye brow. “Okay, then lieutenant, I'll call you that when you start ACTING like a Chief Engineer and stop cursing this ship with your vulgar mouth” quipped to woman. The two had a very odd working relationship which had begun the day they met aboard the USS Hera.

Rhett threw a spangler wrench at her feet, careful not to actually hit the woman. “Har har, Spinelli” he said as he spat on the floor beside him after she helped him to his feet. “This is a temporary assignment for us, Spinelli. Well, at least for me it is. I am not going to go from being Chief Engineer aboard a Nebula-class starship to Chief Engineer of this small Slug-O Cola can sized monstrosity” he added bitterly.

Spinelli shook her head and sighed. “And they promoted you for what reason?” she jokingly asked. As much of a whiny, pain in the damn ass, egotistical, and insufferable little brat Rhett Beaumont could be, he was a damn fine Engineer and had deserved the posting of Chief Engineer aboard the Hera right out of the Academy. His promotion to Lieutenant Junior Grade did not surprise her in the least bit.

Rhett simply shrugged at her question. “Hell if I know, but I am not sticking around this starship to serve as Chief Engineer permenately. As soon as an opening elsewhere in the Task Force is available, I'm going to transfer” he threatened. “And I am not taking you with me” he added sharply.

“You'd die without me” she countered. “I told you, just go back to the Academy or apply to another Engineering Institute in the galaxy. You know you'd get accepted. Then you could earn a Doctorates in Engineering. Heck, after that, they may ask you to teach at Starfleet Academy” she offered simply.

Rhett played along with the game and scratched his chin. “Hmm. Maybe I should do that. Dr. Rhett Beaumont, Chief Engineer, and Academy Professor does have a certain elegance to it. I am all for being one of them dignified folk” he joked.

The Petty Officer made a soured face and shook her head wildly. “, never mind I even said that...ever!” she shouted. “You teaching...I mean corrupting the next generation of greatest minds in Engineering. I don't want to be responsible for that” she added.

The half-Orion scoffed. “Spinelli, I am the next generation of greatest mind in Engineering. I'm awesome” he finished as he picked up his spangler wrench and put it away.

“Yep, this ship is doomed” Spinelli said with a soft sigh and a chuckle.
Coffe Is Contraband USS Beifong - Deck 2 - Tea Lounge
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The Captain had to see it with her own eyes to truly believe it, but no sooner had she gotten off the turbolift and walked down the corridor of deck two, she saw it. The former mess hall. The doorway parted and a few people excited, allowing her to peak in briefly. I have to go in she thought just before her feet decided for her and she found herself walking into something truly remarkable.

It was a small space for sure, just a few tables with chairs around them. The majority of the room had been surrendered to a long bar where some stools were carefully placed and evenly spaced. A Holo menu was displayed behind and above the bar which gave a list of the daily items available as well as everyday drinks. Being a tea lounge as it were, it went without saying that the menu was predominately teas.

Never really one for tea all that much, Captain T'su went over to the food and beverage replicator and ordered herself a nice cup of coffee to her liking and walked back over to the bar and took a seat in one of the vacant stools. She reading over the PaDD in her hand and was about to reach for her cup of coffee when she felt a very large and firm hand come down atop of her's before she could grab the coffee mug. He eyes shot up from the PaDD and she was taken by surprise, letting out a small gasp.

Big bald and blue was inches across from her with his hand atop of hers. Picking up the mug, the large Bolian let out a chuckle as he shook his head. “At my bar, patrons drink tea...this....well, this is practically contraband, my dear” he added as he turned and poured the hot milky brown liquid down a recycling drain and put the mug on a recycling unit. Soon the mug dematerialized.

Interested by the man, the Captain relaxed and remained at the bar. “Is that so? I'll try to remember that for the future. So, what would you recommend I get?” she asked as she looked at the popular drink menu, finding teas with names like 'The Picard' or 'The Merith' which were rather interesting.

The large Bolian looked up at the holo projected drink menu and then back at the Captain. “Hmmm” the man said as he looked at the woman, studying her. “Yes, I have something for you” he said as he turned and rummaged his bard for a few moments. He turned up with a PaDD and handed it the Captain who gave a puzzled look.

“The hell is this?” she said as she skimmed the PaDD and found it to loosely be a request for a medical prescription on her behalf. “I thought you served tea...why do I need an antidote for, is this a Klingon plant?” she asked curiously. She read further and shook her head. “You want me to go to the Chief Medical Officer for an antidote for a poisonous Klingon tea that you want me to drink regularly? I think not” she said shaking her head and leaving the bar.

The Captain's Swan Song USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Ready Room
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Captain's Log
Stardate: 65164.44694267375
USS Beifong NCC-74209
Captain Lian T'su

“Captain's log stardate 65164.44, We have arrived at the Rakhar system in order to randevouz with the USS Copernicus which has been out here studying spacial phenomena in the area. She also happens to be carrying my First Officer and several officers who we will be taking back to Deep Space 11. However, we have recently received word from the Copernicus that she's traveling at low warp through a turbulent region of space. The lack of high warp speed has pushed our rendvouz back a few hours.

I spent most of the evening catching up on work, but I am starting to feel cooped up in my Ready Room. I tasked our small Science Department with the difficult task of finding the Beifong something nearby in order to pass time as we await the arrival of the Copernicus. Fortunately, our Science Department's efforts paid off. They located a system of planets near by, and by the looks of things at least one of them has a reasonably breathable atmosphere for a human. Further scans detected no signs of a civilizations, but an abundance of plant and animal life...and truth be told, I've been itching to get my feet on the ground of an actual planet for weeks.

Scans have shown the planet to a small class-M planet. The atmosphere is a bit different than back home on Earth, but the air has been determined to be safe and breathable. I think it prudent for Starfleet to at least check out this planet before we meet with the Copernicus. I also am looking forward to lead what may be my last away mission for quite sometime before my First Officer arrives to prevent me from ever doing so.”
Coffee or Death Lounge
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Nerys had been up most of the night personally inspecting every 'surgical' tool on the Beifong and had only gotten a few hours of sleep, but there was her alarm going off and telling her it was time to get some breakfast before duty. Today would definitely be a coffee day. Slipping into her uniform with ease, she headed out of her bunk and towards the galley turned lounge, the glaring lights hitting her hard as she entered. Shielding her eyes from the lights, she headed strait to the replicator and ordered an extra strong black coffee and a random Earth breakfast sandwich.

Once she had her meal, she sat down at one of the tables and immediately brought the delicious coffee to her lips, the hot liquid immediately brightening her disposition by a few degrees. Then she tackled the sandwich. It turned out to be a toasted thing with several meats, eggs, and a healthy layer of cheese. There was even a small stack of pickle slices on the side for some reason. Whatever - it was just re-sequenced protein to her - the form it took was fine as long as it was nutritionally complete and palatable. It was her coffee she didn't let people mess with.

Iroh Brott was usually a large jovial Bolian, known for being chatty with his patrons and keeping up on the scuttlebutt. If not churning a few facts of his own, twisting them and sending them back into the vicious circle of rumors and gossip. If there was one thing that caused his otherwise cheerful personality to crack and peel away, it was the deep aroma of coffee being anywhere near his little tea lounge. No, it wasn't illegal to order coffee from the food and beverage replicator units, but the aroma swept threw the former mess hall and clouded the better judgement of others.

There was one thing, Iroh Brott took great passion and honor in, and that was his tea. Not from the replicator but from his own tea plants grown back home and now growing aboard the starship. His tea leaves were fresh and his teas were the best in the galaxy. Anyone who thought otherwise knew better than to utter a word. Spotting the woman sitting all by herself, he approached the table and sat a nice steamy mug of Cardassian red leaf tea in front of her. "Here" he said sliding the tea in her direction. "Have a real drink."

Setting her sandwich down, Nerys raised her mug of deep black liquid in a mock toast to the large blue man before taking a big swallow of it. "I have one, thanks. Besides, most strong teas don't agree with me and the weaker ones just aren't strong enough."

"What wretched sludge you drink, Lady!" shouted Iroh Brott as he spoke bombastically with the flamboyant command of a man of thatre and stage. Attention of his audience was now drawn on him. "Oh that fowl stench which dareth permeate my beloved lounge. A cup of darkly death the lady doth drink, and consumed with its deceptive lies" added Iroh shaking his head.

Nerys slowly looked up at him and stared incredulously. There wasn't enough coffee in her yet to deal with this sort of insanity. Slowly standing, her breakfast and mug in hand, her eyes never left his. "I'll finish in the medbay then, if you prefer."

The Bolian let out a bellyful chuckle and gave the woman and stern pat on the back. "Sit, lady...sit. Enjoy your meal in peace. I will leave you to your darkly death my dear, but one of these days...tea will be your salvation."

"If you have one that tastes similar and has the stimulants that coffee does, I'll consider it." Nerys muttered as she sat back down. "And no tapcaf, either. That stuff is foul." Tapcaf was more a coffee replica made from beans passed through the gastrointestinal system of a targ than a tea so she doubted this man would recommend it to her, but you never knew with some people.

Looking slightly offended, the Bolian made a gagging sound and shook his head. "Not in your wildest nightmares would I serve that here" he said as he headed back to his bar. "Lieutenant, I'll come up with something for you and you'll love it. There's not a soul that I cannot convert to tea."

Unzipping her uniform top enough to reveal the quote emblazoned upon her undershirt, Nerys turned to show the large Bolian what he was up against. It was a quote from a rather famous captain. 'There's coffee in that nebula.' was stenciled in bold lettering across her fabric covered bosom, stretched even bigger by their size. "Good luck. You'll need it... uhm... what was your name again?"

"Brott" he answered her with a hardy chuckle. "Oh I see...Janeway." Iroh looked up at his holo menu of tea specials and shook his head. "There's a reason she's not up there." He flashed a wide smile at the woman and nodded. "You may call me Brott or Mr. Brott, I'll answer to either."

"I bet not," Nerys said as she zipped her uniform back up. "It's said that she beat off the Borg and got her crew home all for coffee. I'm Nerys Evertin, by the way. Ship's surgeon. I specialized in cardiology, but I can do just about anything out there." As soon as she finished talking, she downed the rest of her coffee. it was the least she could do. "I am fond of Chai tea in the evenings, if that helps any."

"Ah Chai" he said with his eyes closed and a cooing sound coming from within. "That is a fine tea if you ask me, but you...Nerys, you have me committed to a quest. I will search this quadrant far and wide for something new, a plant to make the most spectacular tea in this corner of the galaxy. And I shall think of you every sip."

"Works for me. Just let me know when you want me to taste something." Nerys said as she picked up her breakfast sandwich and started munching away at it, making a mental note to carry some antacids from now on.

The Bolian blushed and shook his head. "Not my type" he said with a sly little chuckle as he wiped down his bar. "I'll let you know when I have some teas for you. Now, go have a good day, Lieutenant."

Nerys didn't understand his comment about not being his type so she ignored it and just finished her sandwich before sliding her used mug and plate back into the replicator. "See you around then." she said as she headed out of the tiny 'lounge'.
The Orion Who Cried Wolf! USS Beifong - Deck 3 - Crew Quarters
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Lieutenant JG Rhett Beaumont, acting Chief Engineer of the USS Beifong would be thrilled for his little stint aboard the Defiant-class starship to come to an immediate end. However, he would be stuck aboard her for at least another days or so until the Beifong could meet with the Copernicus and the two could made the necessary personnel exchanges. Rhett was looking forward to serving aboard the USS Copernicus as its Chief Engineer. He had left main Engineering with a PaDD in hand and a heavy bit of steam in his walk. His boots hitting the ground firmly as he walked, displeased that this somewhat older starship with her most recent upgrades and refitting was throwing a fit and the fit was not a curve ball at his department.

The starship did not have properly established chain of command to work with quite yet. He wasn't even sure how or if he even fit in given how temporary his assignment as Acting Chief Engineer was. Captain T'su had offered him the ability to stay aboard the Beifong if he chose to do so, but Rhett was determined to transfer over to the Copernicus. The Captain had apparently decided to go soak her feet in some mud down on some small swampy class-M planet with no name, leaving him to deal with the chaos running through the ship's systems. "Just a little bug" Starfleet had told him, but this was more than just a little bug. He could not easily squish it like he would a normal problem.

There was no First Officer aboard nor a Second Officer in any official sense. By default, the highest ranking officer aboard after the Captain was the Chief Medical Officer, and this was not a problem a Doctor could fix. He needed someone who could actually be of some assistance. Walking down the corridor of deck three, Rhett came to a sudden stop when he heard the sound of growling. A Klingon? he thought puzzled for a moment, only to take his eyes away from the PaDD and see a growling, nearly snarling St. Bernard looking at him.

"What the?!" he shouted and jumped back. The dog did not back down. It was evident that it did not like Rhett. "Ahhhh! There's a wolf on this ship!!!" he screamed in a somewhat high pitched voice as he ran down the corridor, quickly looking for the crew quarters he was on his way to. Worried that the 'wolf' would be following him, Rhett knocked furiously on the door of the acting Chief Communications Officer's door. "It's going to eat me! Let me in!" he shouted.

At first, the Communications Officer didn't hear the Orion's pleading cries, though the incessant pounding on her door was starting to make it through the audio files she was listening to. A perplexed expression made its way to her face as she mentally tried to isolate the sound that was clearly not coming from the phonetics she was trying to analyze, only to realize the sound was coming from her door. The human woman removed her headset to finally hear the cries as he so desperately called for help. What was trying to eat him?

"Fine, fine, I'm coming..." she grumbled begrudgingly as she pulled herself away from her desk and approached the door. Her hand found the wall, then the doorframe, then the door panel, then a press of the right button had the door opening, sending the frightened Orion nearly crashing into her in his attempts to get into the room.

"Oh jeez, what the hell is your problem?!" Xiulan said as she staggered back. Her eyes blinked rapidly in surprise, but her eyes did not follow him, instead staring ahead of her in a dead gaze.

Rhett grabbed the woman by the shoulders and shook her before pushing his way into the room, allowing the door to close behind them. "A beast. A wolf! A savage giant wolf is loose on the starship" he explained. "I have never seen anything like it before. It was after me. It was going to hunt me down and try to tear my gorgeous green flesh from my delicate bones" he added with a shiver. "Thank you for letting me in. I was on my way to see you when the beast appeared."

Taking a deep breath and trying to compose himself, Rhett tried to hand the PaDD over to the woman, not knowing that she had some visual disabilities. "I need your expertise with this. Somehow, the starship has contracted a virus that apparently went unnoticed when they were putting hr through her most recent refitting" he stated. "It's causing me a nightmare" he added with a sigh.

"Whoa, hold on a second!" Xiulan started, holding up her hands to try to stop him and calm him down, but she wasn't quite aimed at him right. "So, there's a wolf loose on the ship and your main concern is giving me a virus instead of calling Security?" she asked dubiously. "Since when have we even been to a world where we could pick up something like that? Why would we bring something like that back to the ship?" It was then that she wanted to know just what this beast was, so she reached out and found the door panel again and opened the door. She didn't even have to walk two feet out her door and there the 'beast' was, coming right up to her as friendly as could be! She could tell right away that this 'beast' was domesticated, he was way too friendly to be otherwise.

"Hey delicate green man, come take a look at the beast, you big wuss!" Xiulan said with a snicker as she gave the dog an affection rub.

"Sure, you go ahead and let it lull you into a false sense of security...then, it will tear your face right off" countered Rhett, though he had to admit the beast was not as scary as he initially thought. There still was no way that he was going to go anywhere near it. "Fine, fine, now that you have tamed the beast, how about helping me with this virus problem that I am having in Engineering. Well, for the moment it is in Engineering but I do not know how contained it is" he started to explain.

"I tried a quick shut down and rebooting of the systems, but what ever it is...its not budging. Something is rewriting programming and affecting the ship's computer systems" he continued. "I have just spent the past half hour determining the computer was giving me a jumbled mess of several different languages. If I don't get it fixed soon, we may have to start ordering the ship's computer and functions in some bastardized hybrid of Klingon, Ferengi, Troyianian and several other languages."

"C'mon buddy, we'll find your master in a bit, don't let the big wuss bother you," Xiulan said to the dog with false sweetness just to tease Rhett. Once she and the dog were inside, she went straight for her desk and sat down, giving the dog another rub as he sat nearby. "Alright, gimme whatcha got, I'll see what I can make of it," she said to Rhett, holding out her hand for the PaDD. She still had yet to look directly at him, only somewhat gazing in his general direction. Once the PaDD was in her hand, she set it on her workstation next to another PaDD. Still staring into nothingness, her fingers ran over the surface of this other blank PaDD while she scrolled through the PaDD with the code he had found.

Rhett was reluctant to be anywhere near the beast, so he kept his distance from it. However, he paid close attention to the woman and started to pick up on some rather noticeable odd habits. She never once really looked at him and she seemed to just stare off into nothingness. He was no rocket scientist, but it did not take him long to figure this one out. He approached the woman and slowly moved his hand up and down in front of her face "Oh you have got to be kidding are blind?!"

"Not completely," Xiulan replied as a hand snapped out to grab him by the wrist, holding him tightly enough to be uncomfortable. "Do you want my help or not? Because I have no problem letting this virus take your computer apart if you're gonna be an ass about this." She let his hand go so she could resume her reading, running her fingers over the surface of the blank PaDD, which upon closer inspection was not actually blank or even a proper PaDD, but rather it had a surface that could create raised bumps in a pattern that she could read with her deft fingertips.

The young Orion scoffed. "The buck stops here. At least it needs to" said Rhett shaking his head. "You know that if this computer virus spreads, it is no longer going to just be my computer systems that we have to worry about. The whole ship could face serious technical problems, and that is not something any of us will want to see" said Rhett firmly. He took his arm away from the woman. He snorted at his own words. "Well, for those of us who can see. Perhaps feel would be a better descriptive sensation for you. A virus like moment we have breathable sealed environment aboard and the next thing you know all oxygen is removed and we suffocate to death."

"I can see! Kind of... Mostly just infrared though..." Xiulan grumbled defensively. "Now shut up and let me work! This code is complicated even without the multiple languages mucking things up," she added in a short tone, her fingers continued their exploration of the raised bumps on her special PaDD. Then she reached with one hand to activate her console to begin running a decoder on the virus as she deciphered the different languages, her hand finding the right buttons on the console purely by memory.

"I'm... not sure this is a virus... Or at least, I don't think that's what it was originally. I'm displaying the parts I've translated, see if you can understand what it's supposed to do." A few more blind taps to her console and the translated code popped up on the main display. It was no program she recognized, at least so far, but since it had come from Engineering, maybe he would know what this code was originally for.

Rhett let out a yelping noise and fumbled around the woman's console. The 'cheesy' Bolian music and the sound the water hitting skin. The main display soon showed imaged and the sounds...primitive sounds of several different species filled the small room. "It wasn't supposed to go to Engineering damn it! That was meant for my personal quarters" he said groaning and trying to find the control to turn the thing off. "Damn illegally acquired Ferengi downloads" he added.

A brow disappeared into Xiulan's dark fringe at the sounds coming from the console. She couldn't see the images, but the sounds were pretty telling. "Porn? Really? No wonder you've got a virus, man! And what are you doing downloading porn while you're in Engineering?!" Xiulan said in a berating tone that was betrayed by the grin on her face. "I'd say you've found the source of your problems right here," she added, leaning back in her chair.

Rhett glared at the blind woman. She may have not been able to entirely see everything, but he hoped his glare was at least felt. "It is not..." he did not even want to utter the word out of embarrassment. "It's research on sexuality if you must know. It is a purely educational video from the Bolian Science Academy, but it would have taken several days to arrive through subspace. I opted for a quicker option and made a fair trade with a Ferengi vessel while we were at DS11" explained the half-Orion.

"With a baseline like that, it's porn," Xiulan stated with certainty, though even she found it strange how that one detail did seem to be universal. "Even if it is legit research, you shouldn't have trusted the Ferengi, so the material in question is probably still the cause of your problems. But then again, I'm no Engineer or computer specialist. I'll finish translating this code and then you're on your own." She leaned forward in her chair to continue working.

The Orion engineer grunted and let out a sigh. "Thank you. I owe you big of you can translate that coding. As soon as I can read what it is, I can begin purging it from Engineering" he commented. "Have you heard Bolian music before? It all sounds like that. That's why nobody takes them seriously for their musical contributions to the Federation."

"Uhg, I hate Bolian music," Xiulan grunted. "I'm all for a good baseline, but there's no pattern to it! It all feels tangential, like they're try'na keep it interesting but it just turns out boring 'cause you can't find the beat. Confusing as all hell!" She grunted out a few more unintelligible complaints about Bolian music before she finished the last few translations, then she ran it through the decoder. "So, porn guy, you got a name or am I supposed to just called down for 'the wussy green dude' when I need something?" she asked while her program ran its course, swaying mischievously in her chair as she waited for Rhett's answer, which would no doubt be rather priceless considering his earlier response to 'porn'.

"Lieutenant Rhett Beaumont at your service" he said with a small smirk. "I would shake your hand, but I don't have all day for you to feel around and find it" he added, teasing her. "I rather the crew not hear about my troubles with the....beast. So, Rhett would be just fine" he said hoping the woman would not bring up the whole green wussy thing again.

Without missing a beat, Xiulan reached over and punched him in the arm, hard! "I told you! I'm not completely blind, I got some infrared, so I know where you are from your heat signature. Just don't ask me to pick you out of a crowd, that I can't do," she said. She actually could pick people out of crowds, but it all depended on the size of the crowd and how well she knew the person she was looking for. But at this point, she wouldn't know Rhett's blobby heat signature from anyone else's. "Anyway, I'm Ensign Xiulan Song, on loan from DS11, and your secret is safe with me. For now anyway," she added with a grin and a shrug. Her console chirped to signal that the decoder was done running and Xiulan checked that everything was alright with the code before loading it back onto his PaDD. "Alright, it looks good. You know where to find me if you need anymore help," she said as she held the PaDD up to him.

Rhett nodded. "Yep, I know where to find you. If I need you, I'll come looking for you" added Rhett.
Dog Troubles Medbay
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Nerys had just settled in for a nice relaxing day of reviewing inspections and inventories after her run-in with the 'lounge' manager. He was convinced she'd give in and switch to tea, but unless he found a miracle tea, she didn't expect anything to change her worship of black coffee. Thumbing through a few PaDDs, she selected one that looked joyfully mind numbing and started reviewing it. Six medkits, fully stocked... Nothing missing... Meds were all in date...

It had taken a bit of creative discovering to learn that the dog that had nearly attacked the Orion Enginner with an affinity for Bolian porn, was in fact a Saint Bernard and belonged to the Chief Medical Officer, Landon Milo. After checking the personnel files to learn where Landon bunked, she also learned that he was supposed to be on duty, so instead of stopping by his quarters, Xiulan opted to take the dog to the infirmary. It wasn't like this ship was very big, it was little more than a coin toss as to where she took the dog, but soon the blind Linguist and the Saint Bernard were on their way to the Infirmary.

As Xiulan and the dog entered the Infirmary, she quickly glanced around in search of the Chief Medical Officer. To say she was completely blind was inaccurate; she did have ocular implants, but an injury during the Academy rendered them virtually ineffective. The only real use she got out of them was the infrared, which helped her get around without bumping into walls or other people, but it wasn't very good at identifying one person from another.

"Excuse me, Lieutenant Commander Landon Milo?" Xiulan asked as she approached the only other person in the Med bay. Over the years, she had mastered an inflection that left it completely ambiguous if she was identifying someone or asking for someone, which helped assuage the awkwardness if she was wrong either way.

Nerys didn't really notice the inflection. She just responded. "He's not here at the moment. Is there something I can help you with?" she asked, looking up from her PaDDs at the newcomer and the animal with her. "That's a dog..." she muttered almost emotionlessly.

"Yeah, he belongs to the Lieutenant Commander," Xuilan answered with a wry grin. "He chased an Engineer to my quarters, I figured I would try to get him back to his master. According to the roster, he's supposed to be working now." She gave the dog a friendly rub, and the dog in turn leaned against Xiulan with a happy loll of his tongue. He was such a friendly beastie, it was a wonder what thread he ever saw in that Orion Engineer!

"Just leave him here then, if you want. I'm sure he'll show up eventually and if he doesn't, I'll send him a page." Nerys replied dispassionately, returning to her PaDDs. "Is there anything else I can help you with?"

"Nah, that was it. I gotta get back, lots of stuff to do," Xiulan said casually then turned to leave, almost relieved that this person wasn't going to demand a physical. Xiulan had to do a lot of them as she was often loaned out from DS11 to other ship and each ship had to do their due diligence, but she always felt like she accomplished some great feat every time she managed to weasel out of one.

"Before you go, what was your name again?" Nerys asked as she glanced at another PaDD in her stack.

"Ensign Xiulan Song," Xiulan answered, almost dreading that she had not escaped this time. "I'm a Linguist on loan from DS11, bound for the Copernicus, but my records should still be in the system."

"They are," Nerys replied, standing and heading towards a nearby biobed. "You're three years overdue on your last physical. Please be seated on the biobed." Glancing over at the dog again, she shook her head at it as it gave her an unusual look. "Don't look at me like that, dog. I don't know your name, nor do I know what you want. You'll have to wait for your owner."

"Three years?!" Xiulan exclaimed. "No no, that can't be right, the CMO of the USS Bacon took perverse pleasure in putting me through a full body scan three months ago!" But rules were rules, as much as she hated them she knew she was walking a fine line when it came to her performance and right now she couldn't afford to to get too snippy with this woman. "Contact my CMO on DS11, this has got to be a mistake! Anyway, I'm only gonna be here temporarily, is this really necessary?"

Nerys patted the biobed mock invitingly. "I saw that in your records, but it wasn't filed as a physical and we need proper records. If I'm going to sign you off on a physical, I'm going to do one, whether you're here temporarily or not. I'll need that information as a baseline if you need surgery while you're aboard."

"Not a physical, then what does that count as?!" Xiulan demanded in an exasperated tone, then she stomped over to the biobed and sat on it with a pout; she would submit to the physical but that didn't mean she had to be happy about it.

"It was filed as a consultation. I suggest you take it up with the doctors on DS11 the next time you see them." Popping her scanner out of her tricorder, Nerys started scanning from the feet up, deciding to pay attention to the most likely problem area last. After about a minute of scanning in silence, When she got to the head... Well, it was as she suspected. Tapping at her tricorder, she deepened her scan of the implants and optical nerve bundles. "Would you say that you have limited vision?" she asked as professionally as she could.

"Uhh, yeah," Xiulan answered like the answer should have been obvious. "And before you ask, no, there's nothing that can be done about it without risking further brain damage. I've been down this road a few times and I don't want anymore poking about in my head."

"That's your decision to make but it's still my job to offer you all the options available." Nerys stated professionally as she tapped on her tricorder a bit more before resuming scanning deeper in the brain. "There's a lot of damage, but I think you would still be compatible with a neuro-visor. They interface a bit deeper in the brain and can provide enhanced sight across several times the normally visible spectrum. They do cause severe migraines in most patients, but it's still an option. Alternately, If I had the resources of a larger starbase, I could grow you new nerves and just replace everything, grafting them through a grueling forty seven hour surgery. Luckily, I've already done that twice so I'm quite familiar with the procedure, even though my specialty was cardiology." Nerys was rambling monotonously now as she scanned almost mindlessly, watching the results scroll across the tricorder's screen.

"No, no VISOR, I've adapted just fine without it, and no to the nerves, that option was discussed after the accident and it's offered during each of my yearly physicals and the risk for further damage is still too high for my liking," Xiulan said with an exasperated sigh. "You know, I can understand wanting to improve the quality of life for people who are suffering because they've lost the sight they've had all their life, but I was blind from birth, I don't need to see to function. These implants have been more of a hassle than they're worth, and I'm tired of people offering 'fix' me, I'm not broken!"

"Then would you like me to disable them?" Nerys asked as she finished up her scans and set her tricorder aside and started in on the paperwork.

"What? No! Are you crazy?! Just finish the damned physical and leave me alone!" Xiulan blurted out as she crossed her arms over her chest.

"Ok then," Setting the PaDD aside, Nerys picked up a hypo and punched a medication into the replicator, loading the canister and pressing it to Xiulan's neck with a hiss none too gently. "That's for your building urinary tract infection. Let me know if you need anything else." Setting the hypo aside, she resumed tapping at that PaDD, heading back to the desk of the tiny medbay.

"Damn lady, do you even know what bedside manner is?!" Xiulan said as she rubbed her neck where she'd been injected. Then she hopped off the bio bed and approached Landon's dog. "Hey, I'm taking him with me! I don't trust him in your care, so I'm taking him directly to Milo's quarters."

"Bedside manner is a doctor's approach or attitude toward a patient. My approach right now is expedience. The quicker you're out of this sorry excuse for a medbay, the sooner you can find something bright and cheery to focus on. If you'd rather I not do that, please let me know in a customer feedback form." Nerys said dispassionately before looking back up at her patient. "And if you know of someone that might be able to unlock true emotions for me, please let me know."

Instead of replying, Xiulan simply tugged gently at the dog's collar to urge him to follow her as she walked out of the infirmary. That woman had some serious problems, but rather than start a fight Xiulan decided it was best to simply walk away. Too much crazy in that room that she did not want to get involved with!

"Note to self, next time activate the EMH and let it provide bedside manner." Nerys muttered to herself, returning to her paperwork.
Dude, Where's My Dog? USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Bridge
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Doctor Landon Milo had left his quarters with Sickbay being his intended destination. However, when a young officer on the Bridge had summoned Landon, he came with a medical kit in hand and expecting some sort of injury. He was used to the occasional console exploding or someone cutting themselves on an exposed piece of metal somewhere. It was usually the small things. However, when he arrived on the Bridge, he found no need of his medical services.

He did look around and notice the Bridge was practically empty. The Captain was not in her chair and when Landon motioned towards the Ready Room, the ensign who had summoned him shook her head. "No, Sir. The Captain asked that I call you to the Bridge. She just took a small away team down to the planet" the ensign explained with a small smile.

Landon could not sense any concern or urgency from the young woman. She just read as jovial, happy, and very excited to be on the Bridge at the tactical station. "Did they need me to join them down there?" he asked curious as to why he was rerouted from Sickbay to the Bridge without there being some sort of medical emergency or staff meeting. "I don't usually get called to the Bridge unless there's a problem, Ensign."

She simply shook her head and looked around the Bridge. "Doctor, take a good look around and tell me what you see" she said somewhat teasingly.

Landon did just as she directed, and did not see too much out of the ordinary. Though he could sense some of the young officers and enlisted personnel looking at him. There was something funny going on. He could sense people finding the situation hilarious, but he saw nothing to laugh at. "I see you ensign, and another ensign, there, a few crewmen...what am I to be looking at?" he finally asked.

"Nothing, Sir. Just a whole lot of nothing, nobodies, and and just us inexperienced personnel holding down the fort" she countered. "The Captain asked for you to come to the Bridge because we need a senior officer on duty to man the Bridge, especially with an away team on an alien planet" added the woman.

The Doctor stood there puzzled for a moment. "She's leaving me in command?"

"Well, let's keep this between you and the ship, Sir, but you are a Lieutenant Commander" the tactical officer said with a small giggle. "For the time being, next to the Captain, you have the highest commissioned rank" she added.

"Oh" was his short and simple response. He walked around the Bridge, monitoring the work being done at each station. There was no way he was going to go sit in the Captain's chair.

The tactical officer looked up. "Aren't you going to...well, um sit, Sir?"

Landon shook his head immediately. "In that chair? Hell no, Ensign" he replied as he passed by the Captain's chair and took a seat at an empty station. "I'll just stay over here and wait for the Captain to return. As you were" he said simply.

After her unusual run in with the surgeon woman in the Infirmary, Xiulan was keen to get rid of this dog before he caused her anymore trouble! Shame though, he was so sweet, but he'd already chased a skittish green Engineer to her door and forced her to go to the Med Bay where she had to endure the most unusual physical she'd ever had, she did not want anymore bizarre events today. But luck was not on her side; she had gone by Milo's quarters to return the dog directly, but surprise surprise, he wasn't there. A quick query of the computer informed her that Milo was now on the Bridge. You know what, why the hell not?! So she headed for the lift to take her and this ginormous dog to the bridge.

As the lift came to a stop and opened, Xiulan paused before exiting, taking a moment to examine the heat signatures of the room. She could 'see' multiple people as well as heat from consoles and EPS lines within the walls, so it all gave her an idea for the shape of the room and it's topography, something that was very important as she knew that some bridges like the Defiant class made use of multiple levels which was very cumbersome for Xiulan. But thankfully it seemed she didn't need to bother with steps as the dog found his own way to his master, thus giving her a safe path out of the lift.

"Hey, found this big guy wandering the corridors, thought you might like him back," Xiulan said to the person she assumed was Landon Milo. Shit, she hoped she was talking to Milo or this would be embarrassing...

Landon felt the dog lick his hand before he noticed the dog approaching. When the woman spoke, Landon looked up fro his station and smiled. Her thoughts, her feelings, the general aura of the woman was different than he was used to. She seemed nice, but not overly warm. It was not like the sensation he got when near a Bolian or Betazoid. "The big guy likes to explore. I tend to give him free reign of the starships we've been on, but this is the smallest starship he and I have been on. No doubt he felt too confined in our quarters" commented the Doctor.

"Ensign, I'll formally introduce the two of you. This is Crewmen Julian. I am sorry if he caused you any trouble. Usually, he is rather mellow and just sleeps in the corner of Sickbay or is in our quarters waiting for me to get off duty" explained Landon. "I'll make sure he stays on the Bridge with me until I am done here."

Xiulan gave a shrug. "Not the first time I've come across a dog in the halls," she said with a grin, which was especially true since she was usually stationed on DS11 which housed families of the crew. "Though he's probably the biggest I've met; I'm surprised you can get away with keeping a dog that big on a ship like this. Anyway, I know his name, I got it off his collar and looked it up in the personnel files, that's how I knew he belonged to you. But he was a real sweetie, just sat beside me while I was doing some work. He's welcome by my place anytime he gets lonely." Of course, tactfully leaving out that Julian had not taken too well to one of Engineers, but that was neither here nor there...

The Doctor let out a small laugh and smiled. "He is quite the handsome fellow and definitely a sweetie. I know exactly what you mean...he's a very big dog for such a small starship. I just couldn't stand to leave him on DS11 or somewhere else. He deserves to be on some nice big Galaxy-class starship. We served on one once, but as is the way of a career and Starfleet, you need to go where they send you or where you are needed. Right now, he and I are needed here on the Beifong" commented Landon.

"And I am apparently needed on the Bridge" he added. "The Captain is on some sort of away mission on the planet's surface leaving me in command."

"I can relate. Officially, I'm stationed on DS11, but I get loaned out to different ships studying the area; I'm a linguist and we tend to get around. Like now, I'm due to board the Copernicus once we meet up with them," Xiulan said with a knowing nod. She could definitely understand his predicament; she had a number of iguanas back on DS11, but she couldn't very well haul all of their terrariums around with her every time she got moved around on these temporary gigs.

"And what are we doing here?" Xiulan asked now that Landon mentioned the Captain and the planet. "I thought we were in a crunch to meet up with the Copernicus. What's the deal?"

"Late" replied Landon simply shaking his head. "I do not know the details, but the Copernicus informed us they would be at least a few hours delayed in meeting us. The Captain apparently felt the need to stop and smell the roses" explained the Chief Medical Officer. "She took a communications officer and the Security Chief with her."

"Ah, gotcha," Xiulan said with a nod. "Well, I'm not scheduled to work right now, but if you're down a Communications Officer then I can fill in for a few hours; you know, just until they get back," she offered. "I didn't familiarize myself fully with the Defiant Class before we left DS11, but if you can show me to the comms station then I can listen for the Copernicus and keep you company for a while."

Landon got up from the seat he had taken. "You found the station" he said cheerfully. "Controls are pretty simple, easy enough to learn even for a Pediatrician, but you obviously have more experience and know more languages than I know. Just keep your ears open for the Copernicus or the away team."

"Oh, well that's awfully convenient," Xiulan said with a chuckle. Once Landon had vacated the seat, Xiulan sat down, pulling her specialized PaDD from the back of her duty jacket. She never went anywhere without this device, otherwise it would make working on the go impossible. She set the device on the console and let it sync up with the display. She took a moment to feel how the console was laid out, then started working with one hand, always leaving the other on her Braille PaDD. "So, what's on this planet that's so interesting that the Captain felt the need to sight-see?" Xiulan asked as she fit an earpiece in her ear so she could listen in to various comm frequencies.

Landon shook his head. "Honestly, I have no idea. It looks to be an utterly lifeless planet filled with plants, swamps, bogs, and nothing of substantial all. I even took a scan for medicinal plants. There's not much down there even in that aspect of things."

"But there are plants down there, which by definition means the planet is not lifeless," Xiulan pointed out. "And then there's the bugs that pollenate the plants, and something would have to eat the bugs or that's all you would see... So maybe no sentient life, but it's far from lifeless; just means there's nothing new and interesting down there." And yet again, why was the Captain there if there was nothing worth seeing there?!

"Spoken like a scientist, ensign" replied Landon with a small chuckle. "You are correct. There is plenty of life down there, but not the sort of life Starfleet tend to care so much about initially. I am sure they will send a science vessel to further study what life is on the planet. Probably will be a task dictated to the Copernicus."

"Nah, not really a scientist, just sometimes I like to be contrary," Xiulan admitted with a shameless chuckle. "Not looking forward to sticking around if the Copernicus is gonna get stuck here; don't know what they'd need with a linguist on a world without sentients."

The Doctor chuckled. "So very true" he said simply as the console near the woman started to beep. "What do we have?" he asked, interested.

"Don't know," Xiulan replied with a perplexed expression. "It sounds like someone is trying to contact us, but there's so much interference the message is completely garbled. I'm trying to get a fix on the signal now," she continued as she listened to signals, her fingers working swiftly over the glossy surface of the console. "It's badly degraded, but it's definitely a Starfleet signal... Sir, it's coming from the planet's surface!"

Landon's eyes widened before the woman even made the announcement. "The away team" he said firmly. "The Captain...they are in trouble" he said, sensing the anger and mixed emotions from the surface.

He reached over the woman and opened a comm link to the transporter room. "Transporter room, emergency! Beam the away team up immediately!"

Landon headed away from the station and tapped his COMM badge. =/\= "Dr. Milo to Sickbay, medical emergency. Transporter Room on the double" he commanded as he too headed there.

Thankfully the medbay was just a few rooms away, this being such a tiny ship. Not even responding, Nerys grabbed her personal medkit and headed to the transporter room. Within seconds, she was there and standing by in less time than it would have taken her to reply to the summons.

Knees Deep Uncharted Class-M Planet
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In the small transporter room, the Captain's away team assembled. It was meant to be a small and simple little scientific excursion. More of a time killing distraction while they waited for the Copernicus to arrive. Assembling on the small transporter pad was the Captain, her Security Chief, and a young communications officer. Across from them, behind the transporter console stood Petty Officer Spinelli from the Engineering department who was seeing them off this morning. “Ready on my command, Petty Officer” said Captain T'su as she looked to the officers in either of her sides.

With a nod, the Captain added “Alright, Ms. Spinelli. We're ready” triggering the woman manning the transporter controls to initiate transporting procedures. The shimmering effect came over the away team and in a matter of moments they were no longer aboard the small Defiant-class starship. The environment around them was entirely different. The sounds and scenery were all quite different.

The Captain and her away team had been transported onto a solid bit of land, but no sooner had the Captain taken a few steps did she hear the SPLUSH that was followed by the difficult movement of her legs. She was ankle's deep in a thick darkened mud that was a black as oil. She had not been able to see where she was going to to a very thick, heavy, and low lying white fog. “Watch your steps, it's going to be difficult to move. We look to be in some sort of bog or swamp of some sort” commented the Captain.

As Myla splashed into the bog, she shook her hands and looked rather disgusted. "Well, it's fresh air, at least..." she muttered as she looked around for some slightly drier land.

Lian T'su had lead many of away missions as a First Officer and had first hand experience with strange new worlds and seeking out new life and new civilizations. She had boldly gone, but not she was struggling to go anywhere with the knees deep black sludge and the water. Her few years aboard the Enterprise-D under Captain Picard had forged her the heart of an explorer, but her career over the years had taken many twists and turns.

She concealed a small smirk that was creeping its way onto her face and fighting off any sort of laughter. "It reminds me back home at my grand parents' rice paddies....only worse. A lot worse given this mud" added the Captain. "I'm as blind an Anear in this fog. What's the tricorder saying? Any clear path through or around this?" she asked.

The short and colorful Myla pulled out her tricorder, taking a tentative step to the side just before squeaking and slipping waist deep in the thick morass. "I think I'm stuck... and I lost my tricorder..."

Shaking her head, Captain T'su fought her way over towards the operations crewmen. "Well, that's one tricorder down. Two left" she said with a sigh as she wrapped her arms around Myla and gave the woman a firm pull to loosed her from the thick morass. "Keep moving at all times. If you stand still, this sludge is going to be holding you until the end of time" instructed the Captain.

"I can see why they were against my taking a shuttle on this little excursion. As soon as we landed...if we could land given this fog, our shuttle would have sunken in and gotten stuck. Plus, the cleaning bill would have been astronomical" joked the Captain with a sigh. She took out her own tricorder and took some quick scans. "Well, this is....weird" commented the Captain as she scanned the blacken morass.

Myla made her way part way up a tree-like structure as the fog started to thin out a little. "What is it Captain?"

I"m not sure" replied the Captain at first. "Thought I picked something up on the tricorder for a split second...but nothing's there. Maybe it was just something to due with this fog or maybe my eyes are just playing tricks on me. Regardless, let's proceed with caution."

Myla nodded and surveyed the surroundings with her own biological senses, her keen ears picking up some movement not far off. "Captain, I can hear something. Thirty meters in front of us. Five or six meters long. Slowly moving in our direction."

"Security, be ready but don't shoot unless I give the order or otherwise provoked" instructed Lian as she slowly placed her hands on her phaser, ready to pull it out at a moments notice. "Are they still closing in on us, Crewmen or moving away?" asked the Captain.

"I think it stopped or went under water. There's an odd vibration in the air..." the crewman muttered as she ruffled her hearing bits a bit more.

As the Captain made her way around the thick fog, she lost her footing, tripping over either a rock or a stump of some sort. She instantly felt the hot stinging sensation in her leg as several small yet sharp thorn barbs from a plant brushed against her ankle and leg as the leg of her pants moved upward as she fell. She made a splash in the water. "Damn it!" she shouted and struggled to find her phaser.

She managed to find her phaser and get back to her feet. There was noises coming from what seemed all around her. The thickness of the fog seemed to have intensified and she had lost sight of the crewmen and security chief. Her leg still stinging, she knew the thorns had pierced hr skin. However, she would deal with her discomfort at a later time. The safety of her crew was her top priority as he heard what sounded like the fluttering of wings around her.

"Someone report!" she shouted as she moved her phaser around, ready to fire if need be.

Kelly tapped his commbadge, trying to get through to the ship, but all he was greeted by was a thud. Either the Commbadge was gone, or there was something down here messing with their electronics. Kelly looked around, seeing a figure, shouting, pressuming it was the captain, he headed over. "Captain, i'm coming in behind you!" He shouted, surveying the area, willing something to attack. Making it over to the Captain he asked, "Captain, are you ok?"

"I'm alright, Lieutenant...just damaged my pride a bit" she replied simply. "I tripped over something and got tangled up in a thorny plant" she explained as she stood by the man. Her leg still stinging as though bitten by hundreds of fire ants. "There's something out there in the fog, something around us. Animal life or not, I can hear it."

Myla paused a moment before saying what she was about to say but she felt she had to. "Captain, with all due respect, if you're injured, we should return to the ship immediately."

The Captain wanted to argue with the severity of her injury, but the decision was quickly forced upon her. Something...a spear? Maybe an odd shaped rock? Whatever it had been, something nearly missed her head and it went flying threw the fog and over her shoulder. "That's it. We are definitely not alone here..." she said as she tapped her Comm badge which barely functioned. It was evident that communications were limited and spotty at best. "Away team to Beifong, emergency extraction...I repeat emergency extraction. Three for transport, now!" she shouted.

Soon, a shimmering effect broke though and encased the away team. The planet disappeared before their eyes, and within moments the Captain saw only the transporter room of her Defiant Class starship. Though she quickly her the gasp of the transporter operator and soon the pungent smell entered her nostrils. She was already weakened by the plant's toxins working their way through her. But when she looked over to where the young crewmen should have been standing....what she saw was a nightmare.

As Myla felt the planet around her dissolve and the transporter room replace it, she knew something was wrong immediately from the pain. It felt like every molecule in her body had been inverted and stripped bare as the pain filled her. She tried to scream, but nothing came out - her lungs weren't inside of her body anymore. Then she knew no more. All that remained was an inverted pile of internal organs, bones, and flayed skin that partially materialized into the back wall of the transporter. Unidentifiable bits of flesh hanging from the crewman's skull locked into a silent scream stuck out from that same back wall at the height her head normally stood. The only thing that seemed to have materialized properly were her eyes - they sat in her eye sockets perfectly fine, locked in a lidless stare right at the transporter operator.

The Cadets of Flight Cadet Quarters
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"This isn't gonna work," Tank said, crossing his arms over his barrel of a chest as he surveyed the tiny quarters assigned to him and his classmate.

Owen rolled his eyes behind the other cadet's back. This was the third time he'd had to move his sparse belongings. Despite being older and further advanced in his studies, Owen was physically smaller than the aptly-named Tank. And here, away from the view of teachers and starship crew, size was the deciding factor of who had what say in matters.

"Switch the bunks again," Tank said after a moment of thought, "if I have the top bunk, I won't have to deal with your lamp at night. And be careful with my poster."

"I'm not moving all this stuff again after this," Owen grumbled as reached up to pull his bedroll down. Despite his annoyance, switching the bunks didn't take very long. The two of them being cadets coupled with the small size of the Beifong, they'd been allowed one personal item apiece. For Owen, that item was a soft, red lamp that eased his photosensitive eyes at night. Tank, on the other hand, had brought a lewd Orion slave-girl poster.

Tank sat on the room's only chair and kicked his feet up on to what was now Owen's bunk, "So, you know who we're supposed to be reporting to?"

"The XO is a flight controller. But whoever that is won't be aboard until after this jaunt. So the captain, I suppose. It's really just us as far as the department goes. Though, just about anybody aboard can fly this thing, I'm sure," Owen mused in response. He shifted Tank's feet out of his way and sat down.

"If you were a real Betazoid, you'd know how much that annoys me," Tank grumped as he found a more comfortable position on the chair. "This ship sounds like a lot of work on top of the work I already have from the Academy."

"Just because I don't have telepathy or empathic perception doesn't mean I'm not Betazoid," Owen said automatically. He'd been over this before, multiple times. "It won't be that much extra work," he added with a sigh. He would probably be taking on the brunt of the schoolwork, as usual.

Tank shrugged, "How about lunch before we have to check in? I hear there's a tea lounge on this boat. What the hell is a tea lounge?"

Goo Be Gone USS Beifong - Deck - Transporter Room 2
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Lieutenant Rhett Beaumont had seen some pretty gnarly shit in his days, but the scene in the transporter room had by far taken the cake. He had been behind the transporter console when the call came in from the Bridge, issuing an emergency beam up of the Away Team. There were some complications from unknown source, causing interference with the transporter's systems. He had a lock on all three of them one moment, and then lost them the next. He had done his best to counter the interference, and it had taken as much power as he could give the system in order to get the away team back...however, something terrible happened and the end result was two members of the away team back in one whole piece...and the other one not so fortunate.

Crewmen Bulveni III, a communications operator was reduced to a lifeless pile of blood, bones, and organs stewing on the transporter PaDD and splattered onto the bulkheads and back wall. Rhett keeled over the transporter console and barfed. "Oh my God" he said trying to catch his breath as he nearly passed out from the sight of the bodily stew and the horrible lingering putrid odor associated with what was left of the crewmen.

The Captain herself was still in shock from the sight herself. She had staggered off the transporter pad and was about to call for a medical team...what good that would have done now? She felt weak. It was a combination of the plant's toxins running through her body and the horrid sight of the crewmen's remains. She could not move. She was motionless in horror.

The Transporter room's doors opened and the medical team lead by Dr. Evartin arrived, soon followed by Dr. Landon Milo who had been on the Bridge.

Nerys Evartin paused only momentarily when she caught sight of the remains of the crewman. Even her seemingly uncaring emotionlessness seemed to have taken a hit at the sight of the flayed flesh and bones embedded in the back wall of the transporter and across the floor. Rather pale but still professional, she turned her tricorder on the captain to find the effects of the toxin spreading fast. "We need to get you to the medbay fast. I'm picking up signs of a very deadly toxin but no signs of it so far with tricorders. I'll need the main biobed scanners."

The Captain nodded. I would find the toxic plant she thought in defeat.

Ensign Nician Haro was directly behind Dr. Evartin. He paused when she paused, his tricorder out as well. The sight of the splattered crewman was enough to make even his sense of humor fade right into the darkness. His usual smile faded fast and he stood there, motionless, until the Doctor's words sunk into his brain. He started to motion people from the room. If the toxin was in the air he didn't want anyone else exposed to it. "Everybody out!" he barked, unable to think of anything else at the moment. He motioned frantically to Lieutenant Beaumont. "Come on Lieutenant... let's go! Dr. Milo... we'll quarantine this room." It was standard procedure when anyone mentioned the word toxin to shut it down and try and contain it. It was possible that Lieutenant Beaumont and Dr. Milo were also facing quarantine. At least for a little while. He didn't mean to step on Dr. Evartin's toes, but she had her hands full with the Captain at the moment.

Doctor Milo had entered to room, only to find the horrid sight. It looked like a Vidiian harvest gone terribly wrong and what was even worse was the blood, bones, and goo that had once been a person. Now, all that was left were morbid remains. All that he could think of when seeing the sight on the transporter pad was the long debates he had once had with his mentor in regards to the safety and affects transporters had on the body, and the potential disasters. As paranoid as she may have sounded back then, Doctor Landon could not help but mutter it lowly "Pulaski said there would be days like this."

Damn it, Kate. I'll never get this out of my mind he thought as he took a deep breath. Nurse Haro's voice shook Landon back to reality and back into Chief Medical Officer mode. "Right, quarantine. We all may be at risk to whatever the Captain brought aboard" he said agreeing. "Computer, issue a level 3 quarantine of Transporter Room 2" ordered Landon, the doors sealed and force fields were placed inside and outside the doors.

He looked at the engineer who had been operating the transporters. "Computer, erect quarantine in Sickbay" instructed Landon. "Lieutenant Beaumont, transport everyone in this room, including yourself to Sickbay" ordered Landon. "We'll run tests immediately to determine if we are at risk" he added. The engineer was still, motionless, and clearly still in shock. "Lieutenant, that's an order" added Landon, raising his voice slightly, an act that was uncharacteristic of him.

Rhett moved slowly over towards the transporter console. "Y-Yes, Doctor" he replied as he transported everyone into Sickbay.

Before Rhett could actually initiate the transport, Nerys yelled out sharply enough to echo off of the small room's walls. "NO! Don't use that transporter until it's been sterilized. I'm not risking us all in that damned thing after an accident like that and from the looks of it, only two pads are usable anyway." Pulling out her tricorder again, she scanned the air and the security chief and even crouched over the remains of Myla - all with a stone cold look on her face. "No signs of infection, even from the other away team members. It's not airborne. If it was, we'd all be infected by now. Besides, the Captain has an obvious infection point from some sort of stabbing wounds. Drop the quarantine and we'll walk the three steps to the medbay."

The surgeon had a valid point, and Landon was not excited to give the transporter a whirl after what it had done to the crewmen. "You're right" Landon admitted shaking his head at Rhett. "Drop the quarantine. We'll walk to the medbay...but let's avoid making any physical contact with anything."

Steadfast Guiding Star USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Briefing Room
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The crew of the USS Beifong had not signed up for any of this. All their Starfleet training had just been unraveled, wadded up, and tossed at them in disgraceful mockery. After sustaining significant damage from the attack on them lead by the USS Copernicus and several smaller unknown pirate vessels, the Beifong had set sail and made haste. She was down a Commanding Officer as ship's Captain, Lian T'su remained in critical condition, having been placed in stasis. With no First Officer to assume the role of Commanding Officer, the chain of command was a grey area. It was either let command fall upon one of the Lieutenants or go outside the chain for guidance.

Starfleet Command made matters clearer. Doctor Landon T. Milo held the rank of Lieutenant Commander, and the position of Acting Captain would fall on his shoulders. He would endure the burden of command. It was the first time in his career that he would be in a command capacity, but nobody had planned for something like this to happen during Beifong's routine mission.

He had called for the immediate gathering of some officers of his choice. Some he had called due to their positions held and others due to their rank. Defiant-class starships did not come equipped with conference rooms. However, the Beifong's most recent refitting and remodeling had not only expanded the Mess Hall into a Tea lounge, but also saw two officer quarters taken and converted into a small briefing room that could comfortable fit a dozen or so in the room, but only six or seven at a triangular table.

The triangular conference table was star shaped to resemble that of an old 2200s symbol. Landon took a seat at the 'head' of the table which was bottom of the star. Six chairs were carefully placed along the edges of the triangular star, three on either side. There was a small circular projector on the table that could project small holographic projections, ideally for representing a starship, a star, or a planet. Additionally, the room had a food and beverage replicator located as soon as one walked in, and a small head or restroom.

Landon had not had time to properly set up for a meeting, but things had to be taken care of immediately and the crew needed to be brought up to speed. As the officers sat, pulling up their chairs to the table, Landon cleared his throat and took a sip of water from a cup. "Starfleet Command has asked that as the most senior officer presently aboard, that I hold this meeting. Doctor Evartin and I did our best to save Captain T'su, but despite our best efforts, her vitals were falling and her organs were shutting down," explained Landon.

The Chief Medical Officer used the small holographic projector to show a representation of the virus working its way through the Captain's various systems. "As Doctor Evartin can explain, the Captain came in contact with a plant. Several thorns pierced her skin allowing a very strange and quite deadly alien virus to enter her body," said Landon, gesturing for the Surgeon to continue.

"Indeed," Nerys Evartin began as she stood momentarily to point at specific spots of the display. "I was able to remove pockets of highly infected tissue at the locations here, here, and here, where the Captain was infected, but by that point, enough had spread through her body and fused with her own DNA in her lymphatic system, hence the issues we're having. The transporter can't remove it in the bio filters and our own equipment is far less than We need to even attempt to remove the rogue DNA. Hence why the Captain is now in stasis. By my calculations, even if she gets treatment from a fully equipped starbase immediately, she only has an eighty three percent chance of survival and a four percent chance of her nervous system not being permanently damaged."

"We had no choice but to place the Captain in stasis. At this time, we have no way to stop the virus or treat the Captain," explained Landon. "If we take her out of stasis, she'll be dead in a matter of moments. Keeping her in stasis is our only way to preserve her life until we are able to study this virus further," added Landon.

He looked around the table. "Whatever has transpired aboard the USS Copernicus is anyone's guess at this point. However, she has clearly fired upon us and is under the aid of several unknown pirate vessels. They continue to pursue us, but we have the advantage of speed at our disposal."

It was then that, Rhett Beaumont, the acting Chief Engineer interrupted. "Momentarily," he said shaking his head. "We suffered some damage to our engines. They were purposely trying to knock our engines out and render us dead in the water. We may have the speed advantage, Doctor, but unless we slow down soon so that engineering can make the necessary repairs, we'll burn out our engines and they will catch up to us."

Landon let out a heavy sigh. "Understood," he replied simply. He looked at the young Cadet and the communications officer who had brought Julian to the Bridge with her. "We don't have the option of turning back and fighting. Cadet, some of us have piloting training. However, helm and navigation is your field of study at Starfleet Academy. The other officers have their duties, and we need a helmsmen. Consider yourself Chief Flight Controller," announced Landon. 'When life gives you lemons, Doctor... you make lemonade and make it strong' he thought as he heard his mentor, Dr. Katherine Pulaski in his head, echoing something she had said to him once.

Owen stopped fidgeting and concentrated on holding perfectly still while the captain was talking to him. His heart raced. Chief of flight, really?! Little old him? Did he really have the experience?! Well, no, but he did have the practical know-how... and he was 'almost' graduated. This was all just so, so weird.... The young Betazoid interrupted his own train of thought when he realized the captain was waiting on him. He managed a weak nod to show he understood the situation.

"Cadet, we're going to alter our present course and proceed on a new heading. I believe that our best bet is to head towards Ophinus," stated Landon. "The space in between here and there is rather foreign to use. Please use whatever means you need to help keep up aware of what's ahead. I don't want to be running into any icebergs" instructed Landon.

"Sir, yes, sir. No space-burgs, sir," Owen answered, his excitement only barely contained.

Landon looked at the young Cadet, wanting to say something, but thought better of it. I will have to get used to all this 'Sir' formalities thought Landon.

"Ensign Song, I will need you to try and make contact with Ophinus. Inform them of our situation and let them know that we will be heading their way," instructed Landon. Even he did not have the heart to add the 'when' to those orders. It is at least a sixth month voyage he thought to himself.

"Wait wait wait!" Xiulan said, holding up a hand to stop Landon from giving any further instructions. "We are weeks out from where we came from, but instead of doubling back for help, you want us to head for Ophinius?! I'm no cartographer or pilot, but ain't that months of travel at the rate we're going?" She apparently had no problems voicing the concerns he had kept silent.

The Chief Medical Officer looked at the woman. It was what he had anticipated, but was hoping not have to explain. "I know the distance, Ensign. I am well aware of where Ophinius is, I served there once" said Landon, not entirely a fan of the giant chunk of ice with a Federation base of operations on it. "Believe me, I would be happy to turn around and come back where we came, but this is a complex game of chess we are playing, and right now we are but one pawn with a nasty queen and some rooks hot on our trail" said Landon shaking his head.

"We turn back, we probably run right into the Copernicus. We try to alter course and head to DS11, and we're bound to find trouble before we can get there. I'm not a strategist or a military commander, but I can only assume the Copernicus and her pirate friends are dispatching ships to intercept us on that route."

Xiulan opened her mouth to offer a rebuttal, but then closed her mouth as she thought over his reasonings; while she may not have agreed with this course of action, he did make a valid point. More to the point, he was the senior most officer and even she knew this was neither the time nor the place for a lengthy debate with her superior.

"I'll make contact with the outpost, let them know we're on the our way," Xiulan said in a somewhat subdued tone, offering a nod to punctuate her acceptance of these orders.

Landon nodded. "Thank you," he said, meaning it more than simply thank you for contacting them, but also a thank you to her for not belittling him and berating him in front of the others. "It may take them a while to get the message, Lieutenant. We don't have many subspace relay stations out here to bounce off of," he commented. "Also, could you try and contact either Captain Hunter of the Nogura or Captain Geisler of the Black Hawk?" he asked of his communications officer.

"Well like you said, there's not many relay stations out here, but if they're in range then I'll get a message to them," Xiulan said. "If I can get some help from engineering in between repairs, then I think I can boost the signal through the deflector dish and broadcast the message further."

Landon was about to respond to the woman when he was quickly beaten to it. The acting Chief Engineer leaned forward in his seat and looked at the woman. "In case you cannot see it, I'm smirking," Rhett said. "I'll get you all the boost you need. You won't even see it coming," he added.

Xiulan leaned forward in her chair as well, resting the back of her hand on the table, letting her fingers curl into her palm save one, this derogatory digit directed at Rhett. "In case you can't figure it out for yourself, I'm giving you the finger. Do you need me to translate what that means?"

His smirk broadened into a smile. "Perhaps later... your bunk or mine? I'm not really one for an audience," Rhett replied

"Wuss," Xiulan said simply with a grin.

Landon blushed slightly but did his best to not continue the situation. "Whatever you two do or don't do on your own time, is up to you. Right now, we have a meeting to focus on. You may continue throwing your insults afterwards."

Xiulan simply sighed and drew her hand back off the table, crossing her arms over her chest as she leaned back in her chair. She would have rolled her eyes if she were capable of it, but doing so with her implants wasn't all that comfortable so she had a tendency to refrain from doing so unless the situation really called for it.

Turning his chair to face the opposite side of the table, Landon looked at the Bolian man. "Nurse Haro," said Landon softly, addressing the man by his professional tile and position. "As I understand, you've recently began taking classes in psychology and sociology for a future change to counseling?" asked Landon to get his facts straight.

Ensign Haro nodded and straightened up in his seat. "Yes, sir. I have. It's something that I've wished to pursue for quite a long time." He smiled brightly, given their circumstances. He was hopping that the "captain" was going where he thought he was going by asking the question. "I took the required courses at the Academy and have continued my studies since then."

"I believe we can agree that the situation this crew faces is going to put a lot of stress on us all," stated Landon. "The Beifong was supposed to be on a simple mission. A Counselor was not an expense DS11 felt we needed. That no longer is the case. I'm asking you to step down from your Sickbay duties as nurse and serve as Ship's Counselor. I know you may not have the proper training as of yet, but I cannot think of anyone better suited."

Ensign Haro's grin widened. He couldn't help himself. Yes, their situation was dire, and this was never how he had wanted to step up in position, but he felt important at the moment and it had always been his nature to remain cheerful, even under the worst of circumstances. "Thank you, sir. I will do my best to serve this ship and crew. Anyone, who needs to talk now may, of course, meet with me immediately after this meeting has adjourned. After that I would like to set up appointments for everyone."

Focusing his attention elsewhere, Landon studied a PaDD that he picked up from the table in front of him. "Our run in with the Copernicus and her pirate friends left our shields a mess and our tactical readiness weakened," observed Landon. He brought his eyes up and looked at the man. "Lieutenant Severide, I want our shields back to 100% operational status. I want you to study the USS Copernicus, find her weaknesses and be ready to exploit them should we encounter her again."

"The shields are easy, I have a team already working on them. Weapons are at 57% operational capacity, but we should have those sorted soon. With regards to the Copernicus, it's a federation ship, same as us, so concentrating on their aft shields would be best, then aiming for something big that goes bang, like the warp core, would work... apart from that I'm not sure, unless ops or Engineering can come up with anything?" Kelly ended, pointing out his intended targets on the wall mounted viewer.

Landon nodded in agreement. He understood enough to know what was being said. "She is a Federation starship and they have fired on act that I will not forget. But let's not forget that we do not know what is going on over there. I still have to assume there's innocent men and woman...possibly children aboard that starship."

Rhett albeit reluctantly was heading Engineering for the time being. "The Copernicus is a Nova-class starship. Science is its primary function and with that, they have a very sophisticated sensor system. If recently updated... superior to ours. We may be able to outrun her for now but she will see us before we see her. I agree with Lieutenant Kelly. We can target their engines. We can probably disable them with our fire power," said Rhett who saw the look of concern on Landon's face. "We can do is carefully and tactically... simply disabling their engines, not causing a warp core breach or anything like that."

Ensign Haro had been thinking about everything that had been said in the meeting so far. The wheels turning in his brain as he tried to puzzle together all the pieces into some sort of cohesive whole. "Captain? I hope you don't mind me saying," he started with a small smile. "I know it's not my area of expertise, but do you think that perhaps it would be better for us to try and... how should I put this... hide? Perhaps lose our pursuers, give our engines a break and get some time in to repair the damage? I'm not sure how this would be accomplished though. It might not be a good idea at all, but it was on my mind and I thought worth suggesting. The repair time alone would be valuable, wouldn't it?"

The Doctor took a deep breath. "I want to avoid another altercation with the Copernicus and its pirate friends at all costs. Ensign, you have a valid point and I believe it should be our first course of action. We need to put as much space between us and the Copernicus as possible... but doing so will weaken our engines and we already have repairs to make. Seeking shelter now is prudent," Landon said agreeing with the ensign. "How and where are the questions at hand. All I can think of is a nebula or anything that will render the Copernicus' sensors useless. We need to hide where they can not easily find us," added Landon.

Looking at the Cadet at the table, Landon made eye contact with the young man. "Cadet, you're now the helmsmen of this starship. That involves navigation as well. We don't have much of a science department aboard... work with Chief Brexa to see what's ahead. Find something out there that we can use to our advantage," said Dr. Milo.

"I believe I noted a couple of nebulas and even a promising star system near our course," Owen said, "the hard part will be getting to any of them before the Copernicus notices us. Don't worry, sir, we'll think of something." Already, the cadet's mind was churning with ideas he wanted to spring on the science chief. He'd always wanted to lay a false warp signature, for starters.

The Doctor gave a quick nod. "Do it" he instructed as he stood up. "You all have your jobs. Let's get to work" added Landon, calling an end to the meeting.
An Engines Cry For Crystals USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Bridge
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Having finalized his senior staff by appointing and designating several officers to the empty seats as well as doing some personnel reshuffling such as moving a nurse into the role of Ship's Counselor and Chief Diplomatic Officer, Lieutenant Commander Landon Milo was reluctantly and hesitantly finding himself doing his best to slide into the role of acting Commanding Officer, after having been simply Chief Medical Officer aboard the small Defiant Class starship.

His crew was definitely not Starfleet standard by any means. A nurse taking over as Counselor and a graduating Cadet to serve as the Chief Flight Controller? Let alone the fact Landon himself was a career medical doctor specializing in pediatrics. For him to step up and take command of a starship like this was practically unprecedented. Sure, there were times when someone not quite fit for the job would have to assume command for a short period of time, but Landon was looking at at least six months if not more.

The future would be lain with tough decisions. Thus far, Landon's toughest decision was to give the command to alter course and travel the six months time to Ophinias rather than take the risk and make an attempt to turn back and travel a week or two to safety. Aside from that, his next toughest action was to remove Lieutenant JG Beaumont from the position of acting Chief Engineer and instead promote an ensign to Lieutenant JG and name them Chief Engineer. Though Rhett Beaumont was quite the capable engineer, after reading his personnel file and finding a few disciplinary actions, Landon wanted someone more professional and by the book for the position.

As the turbolift came to its quick stop, Landon found himself starring out at the Bridge. He still had not named a First Officer nor Second Officer yet and for the time being, he found himself the lone man on the totem pole. I need to name people for those roles... soon he thought to himself. The USS Beifong was chugging through uncharted space, heading for a nebula that Cadet Owens and the Science Chief had determined would be a suitable rest stop in order to make some necessary repairs from the Beifong's brief skirmish with the Copernicus.

Landon entered the command area of the Beifong and sat down in the Captain's chair, the first time he had done so since having to assume command. Though he had not yet changed his uniform color from blue to red nor taken the Admiral's insistence of a field promotion to Commander, Landon was starting to take 'baby steps' towards accepting and fully embracing command.

Looking towards the young cadet, Dr. Milo cleared his throat and spoke softly. “Helm, estimated time of arrival for the nebula?” asked Landon as he studied the view screen. They clearly were not in the nebula yet, but he knew they would have to be soon arriving.

Owen checked his instruments before answering the new captain's request. "Two hours, sir. We should see her sooner than that, though."

Being a medical officer, Landon taken the basics in science while at the Academy, but his stronger suite was xeno anatomy, biology, and a little bit of chemistry. He did not have the extensive knowledge of science that a science officer would have, and unfortunately, the Beifong had no science officers aboard. They did have an enlisted woman aboard assigned to the science department. Landon named her Chief of Science. He would rely on her as he would a Chief Science Officer. “What can you tell me, Chief?” questioned he Doctor.

The female Ferengi turned slightly in her seat and looked at the youthful medical officer sitting in the Captain's chair. She did not care what color uniform he wore, how young or old he was nor what his degrees and experience was in. Even that he only bore the rank of Lieutenant Commander did not deter her from showing the man the same respect she would have if it had been Captain Lian T'su asking her. She addressed him as protocol deemed it and she saw him no less than that. “Captain,” she replied with a gracious nod. “Sir, the nebula itself is exactly what the Cadet suspected... an excellent spot for us to conceal ourselves. At least for a brief period of time,” explained the Ferengi. “If we were larger, I'd say 72 hours, but given our size and present condition... we shouldn't stay in the nebula longer than 48 hours. Erring on the side of caution, I recommend no more than an overnight stay, Sir,” informed the woman.

Landon looked at her with a look of curiosity. “Enlighten me?” he asked subtly exposing that he didn't know too much about the nebula as of yet.

The Ferengi nodded. “Of course, Captain,” she replied as she tapped a few commands at her console. “What the Cadet and I found is a protostellar nebula. They are excellent for camouflage as they render most starship sensors inoperable or at the very least highly useless and unreliable. Even with the Copernicus' advanced sensor systems, once she gets near this nebula, she'll be pathetically blind,” said the Ferengi. “No offense, Ensign,” added the woman looking at the Communications officer.

"None taken," the blind Comms Officer said with a grin. "But you do realize that this nebula will render the Beifong blind as well, not to mention choke the range on any communications. We won't be able to call for help."

The Ferengi nodded. "The Ensign likes to rain on my good news, but she's correct, Sir. We will be just as blind if not blinder due to our lack in as sophisticated sensor systems. Also, communications will be practically impossible."

Doctor Milo kept his composure and stiffened a small chuckle. “I see. And what makes you recommend we only book a short stay?” asked Landon.

“Well, as much as I prefer not to look like a cheap one night stand with a rent by the hour booking with this nebula, a protostellar nebula has its own risks. There will be high level of various particles in flux within the nebula as it is basically a nursery for the formation of stellar bodies,” explained the Ferengi. “Prolonging our stay will put the ship at too much of a risk. I believe, Security would agree with me,” added the scientist.

Landon weighed the information carefully. The safety of the ship and more so the crew was his primary concern. “An overnight stay it is,” he said agreeingly. “I cannot risk the ship nor crew. We'll have a short window of opportunity, and I'll extend it to 24 hours tops, but not a minute over,” he added.

Standing up, Landon looked up at the view screen and crossed his arms. He then turned and looked at the newly appointed Chief Engineer. “I know we took some substantial damage from the Copernicus, Lieutenant Kali. Can you make the necessary repairs in 24 hours?” asked Landon, knowing that not everything could be completed in that amount of time and well aware that supplies aboard were limited.

Darzan stared at his new Captain for a moment. He really didn't know what to say. The repairs weren't massive, but they were pretty staggering and he himself was not totally aware of how extensive they were. "I'll do my best..." It was all he could say. "Give me an hour and I'll be able to give you a better estimate. We're going to need dilithium before anything is back to 100%. Without the crystals, we're really going to limp home slowly. I can get shields back, but full capacity on the engines will be impossible without supplies."

Chief Petty Officer Brexa, the Ferengi Chief of Science turned in her seat. “I may have something of interest, gentlemen,” she said calmly, though there was a raspy shrill to her tone, typical of a Ferengi. “What if I told you boys that I found you some dilithium thanks to our sensors,” said Brexa with a wink.
Landon was quick to cease the moment and looked at the Ferengi. “Where?” he asked as he headed towards her station. The Doctor knew how vital dilithium would be to their six month journey.

Brexa snorted with laughter. “Well, I never said it was ideal nor easy. The atomic mass is slightly off... meaning it isn't in its ideal stable form. There are small pockets of dilithium on a planet in a nearby system. The planet is small, but definitely Class-M... the problem is I haven't been able to determine their technological status, but I'm almost certain they are pre-warp,” she reported.

Doctor Landon Milo felt his insides churning and twitching. Son of a Targ he thought silently to himself. Landon looked at his Chief Engineer. “I know. We need that Dilithium, Lieutenant, they have it, but the Prime Directive prevents us from interfering with their development,” stated Landon.

"I'm pretty sure you can come up with something to get it without interfering." Darzan spoke without really thinking of how crass it sounded. "If we took a shuttle to the surface... maybe... of course transporters would have to work too... if we transported it up here..." Darzan rubbed at his face, sounding more like he was talking to himself then the Captain, and then he threw one hand up in the air. "I mean, I'll do the best I can... but without those crystals... I'm not sure how all of those repairs are going to get accomplished."

“I'm not ruling that dilithium out just yet,” said Landon shaking his head. “I'm open to suggestions,” said, Landon, opening the 'floor' for his crew to offer suggestions or discuss the matter.

"Can we not just go undercover?" Xiulan asked. "You know, pretend to be one of the locals? That could get us to the dilithium deposits," she offered with a shrug.

Landon groaned a little at the suggestion, but it was a solid thinking one. "Yes," he said simply. "However, history has been riddled with incidents like the Enterprise-D's Mintakan incident as well as the incident on Sigma Itotia where a novel about Chicago gangs was left behind on the planet by a crewmen with poor literary tastes. I want to avoid being known as 'The Milo' to an alien culture," explained the Doctor. "However, you may have presented us with our best option, Ensign," added Landon.

"We need to know as much about these people as we can within a few hours. Time is ticking... we need to know what they look like, their general beliefs, any indication of how advanced they are technologically, and most of all if we can get any sense of their language in order to get the universal translator at least something to work with," continued Landon.

He looked at his crew. "Ensigns Song and Haro, I want you two focusing on these people. Gather any information you can on them. Ensign Song, I need you to start studying the basics of their language from any sources you can. I don't care if its from news transmissions from the planet," said Landon.

Nician nodded. "Yes, sir. Do we even know what they are called?" He was grinning, excited by the prospect of getting to study the culture of a species. "We'll have to find out if there are different settlements and populations on the planet so when we do show up wherever is close to the dilithium we can claim to be from somewhere else with accuracy. We'll need convincing stories..."

"Agreed. As I recall, in terms of first contact blunders, they usually happened because someone let their cover slip and the locals got suspicious. We'll have to make solid aliases," Xiulan said in agreement. "We can get started on this right away."

Landon nodded in agreement. "Make them believe you are who you need to be" replied Landon.

The Doctor then gave a nod to Doctor Evartin. "Doctor, as soon as we know what this species looks like, I want you to be ready to perform surgical alterations. We'll need the away team to look damn convincing as whomever these people are."

Nerys nodded. "As long as they're not too far from humanoid, I can make you look like them, but acting and talking is up to you. Don't blame me if they suspect you for being otherworldly."

"I'm still open to any further suggestions or recommendations that any of you may have," added Landon.

"I'll get to work on the repairs," Darzan Kail said with a little bit of a frown. "I'll also see if there might be a way to stabilize the crystals once we get them on board. I know that they can be re-crystallized through exposure to high-energy photons, but that method is only really used if they're decaying. It's also possible to re-crystallize dilithium while it's still enclosed in the warp core's dilithium articulation frame using the theta-matrix compositor, but that's not something I've tried before. Make sure whoever goes on this away mission takes mining tools." He turned to head back to engineering, but stopped himself, since he hadn't been dismissed by the Captain. He turned back to the group, frowning, with his arms crossed over his chest.

Landon was pleased with Kali's report. "Good. You all know your parts, now let's get to work" added Doctor Landon Milo as he headed off towards the Ready Room.

Two Officers and One Pod USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Ready Room
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In the Ready Room, Landon found himself sinking lower and lower into the small sofa that Captain T'su had in her Ready Room. Would she have made the same decisions that I have made? Would she have ordered helm to set a course for Ophinias Colony rather than risk another altercation with the Copernicus and tried to double back? he asked himself. To be honest, he had no idea. He had only briefly met the woman and knew nothing about her psychological state or her command decision making process. Part of felt that she may have made the same if not the very least, similar decisions. However, a large looming cloud in his mind told him that his decisions were entirely opposite of what she would have done. If that is true...then is that okay? he asked himself, but of course he had no real answers.

It was his most recent decision that had left him truly questioning his readiness for all of this and if he was truly fit to command. A Defiant Class starship has only one Shutllebay that houses two shuttle pods. Those shuttle pods are essential to the starship and now, the USS Beifong was left with only one of these shuttle pods. Why did I say yes? Why did I agree to his plans? Landon asked himself. Not only had he lost one of the shuttle pods, but he had also allowed two members of his crew to go off on a suicide mission. Several hours had passed since he agreed with the Lieutenant's recommendation, and it wasn't even a handful of minutes afterwards that Landon felt the painful feeling that he had made a mistake.

Security Chief, Lieutenant Kelly Severide had approached Landon with a plan that was risky at best. Severide and another officer would take a shuttle pod and plot an alternate course, a more direct course back to Federation space via the way the Beifong had come. There was significant risk that the pod would be found by the Copernicus or the pirates, but Severide was willing to take that risk and Landon had allowed it. At the time, Landon felt cornered and allowed an opening for Severide to capitalize on. My weaknesses as a Commanding Officer thought Landon. Severide had taken Lieutenant JG Beaumont from Engineering, and in the end Landon was left without a Security Chief and the already sparse Engineering team lost one of its highest ranked engineering officers.

Landon let out a heavy sigh. “Down an engineer, lost our Security Chief, and willingly just spared one of our only auxiliary craft....excellent job, Landon” he said to himself shaking his head a his own stupidity. “Oh Severide...I hope you make it there” added Doctor Milo as he closed his eyes and prayed that the Security Chief would be successful in reaching Federation space and getting the Federation to send ships to find the Beifong.
The Proposal USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Ready Room
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Landon paced back and forth in the Captain's Ready Room, still dressed in his medical blues. He had begun to break a sweat and had stripped himself of the heavy grey jacket part of his uniform and was down to the long sleeved dark blue tunic that was worn underneath to distinguish between departments. Decisions...decisions...decisions he thought to himself as he paced and looked over at the food and beverage replicator off to the side of the room. The starship was in conservation mode as it was. In the Mess Hall, they were breaking out the food rations in order to cut back on power use from the replicators. He was tossing mentally at the words Brott from the Tea Lounge had said to him the night before 'Behind every Captain is a First Officer...look over your shoulder, Mr. Milo' and those words were haunting Landon. Even Brott calling him Mr. Milo instead of Doctor and yet not calling him Captain.

What was even more disturbing was that Landon did actually look over his shoulder and he did see something. He saw his Chief Communications Officer. Is that a sign? he had been wondering. Was she somehow supposed to be his First Officer? He was most certainly no starship Captain by any ordinary sense and she? Xiulan Song was a fine officer and a damn good Communications Officer, but she was only an Ensign. Landon was pacing when he stopped and caught sight of himself in a reflective surface. "And you were only a Doctor until this happened" he said aloud, reminding himself of the special circumstances that brought him into the Captain's Ready Room.

He walked over the the replicator and ordered himself a Virgin Risan Sunset, alcohol free. it was a delightful drink even in its virgin form. A an appealing drink by color and and taste. Milky white with red and orange layered in. It was fruity and addicting. The name alone was enough to make Landon chuckle. Virgin Risan Sunset...and then he remembered something Krull Larkon had said to him once 'Doctor, there isn't a damn virgin to be found on Risa' which caused Landon to let out a small chuckle. He walked over towards Captain T'su's desk and pressed the comm panel "Ensign Song to the Captain's Ready Room" he said calmly.

It didn't take long for Xiulan to respond to the summons; a Defiant wasn't that big of a ship and it also helped that she had been on her way to the Bridge to speak to the Commander anyway. "Sir," she said as a way of announcing herself once she'd entered the small office. "I have an analysis of the of the culture we'll have to deal with to get the dilithium," she said, setting a PaDD on the desk to avoid the confusion that often accompanied a hand off. "I believe we have an opportunity to deal with these people directly rather than with my original suggestion for undercover. I know Starfleet has rules against first contact with pre-warp civilizations, but acting covertly has too many complications that can backfire; these people have already interacted with cultures outside their system, so I don't see where the problem would be in trading with them directly for the dilithium," she reported candidly.

Landon's head perked up upon hearing the report from his Communications Officer. "If they have already had contact with warp capable species, then no...I don't suppose a more direct approach would be harmful to their development" said the Lieutenant Commander. "I'll still want to minimize their exposure to our technology. The less they know about us, the better" added Milo.

He looked up at the woman. "A small away team taking a shuttle pod should help minimize exposure. They do not need to know about the Beifong" stated Landon, taking a sip of his drink and setting it aside. "Have you been able to find anything about them linguistically?" asked Milo.

"I have broken their language down and incorporated it into the Universal Translator," Xiulan confirmed with a nod. "It's a very direct dialect, I would recommend against the use of idioms as figurative speech doesn't translate well."

Landon smiled slightly. "Well, then, I hope you are good at taking your own advice. We are going to be interacting with an entirely alien culture...a species we know very little about. I hope you didn't think that your job was done. If anyone is going down to that planet, it is going to be you."

"What?" Having spent most of her life completely blind, Xiulan did not have a wide array of facial expressions and the few she had were not displayed often, but she had a fairly priceless expression on her face now, complete and utter confusion. "You want to send me down there to negotiate for the dilithium?" Did he miss the part where she was mostly blind? That wasn't exactly the best foot to put forward...

The half Betazoid could sense her emotions and being dually telepathic and empathic, her thoughts and feelings were quite strongly projected. "You heard me just are mostly blind, not deaf" said Landon with a small chuckle. "Of course I am not going to send you alone. I want Ensign Haro and Lieutenant Kail with you" instructed the man. "You've done impressive work on this thus far. So, I want you to take the lead on this away mission."

Xiulan stood completely silent and dumbfounded for a moment before finally speaking again. "Yeah, I think I'm going to need to get my ears checked. You are a doctor, right?" she asked, still unbelieving he wanted her to take point.

"No, sorry. That was just my day job" replied Landon with a smile. "Doctor Evartin can check your ears if you want though. She's an excellent physician and I trust her with my...her Sickbay" said Landon, still getting used to not being Chief Medical Officer. "You may want to have a seat for this...but I'd rather you just stand" added Landon.

No sooner had he finished with his preamble did he get up from his seat, approach the woman and drop down on one knee, pulling out a small silver box with the Starfleet insignia on it. He popped the lid open and shining brightly inside was one solid gold pip. "Will you be my Number One?"

"No offense sir, but if there's a ring in that box, I reserve the right to punch you," Xiulan said bluntly, clearly unable to discern enough details to see the pip, but she recognized the stance easily enough. Then another peculiar expression flashed across her face as his words hit home. Number One?! "Oh god, I think I might puke. good thing you're already in the splash zone."

He quickly stood up and backed away from the woman. "Vomit on me and I have the right to grab a phaser" he said glaring at her. "Please keep all contents of your stomach inside at all times when near me. I've seen a lot of blood in my day, but vomit is where I loose it" Landon said shuttering at the thought. "I need someone at my side that I know can perform their duties to the best of their abilities and keep me grounded. I need someone who will question my decisions and offer alternatives to my plans. You have already shown me that you have no problem pointing out flaws in my plans and offering alternatives."

"I was kidding, I'm made of tougher stuff than that," Xiulan said with a smirk. "But seriously, sir, are you sure you want me as your XO? Wouldn't you want someone with more experience? And fewer attitude problems?"

Doctor Landon Milo looked at the woman and studied her for a few moments. "Lieutenant," he said referring to her by the new rank he was bestowing upon her via Starfleet Regulations regarding field promotions. "I want you to be my First Officer because of who you are and what I believe you can do. I have chosen you because I believe in you and because I value your opinions and your attitude problems. Though your attitude can use some work...if redirected the right way, it can be a driving force and motivating factor for this crew" replied Landon. "There may be other officers aboard with a few more years experience...fine officers in their own right, but I feel that you are a better match for my XO"

Lieutenant? She was not ready to hear that in regards to herself, but if this was what he wanted... "Alright, fine, but I'm not wearing red," she replied firmly. Not that it really mattered, she couldn't see colors, she was just saying it to be difficult. "I guess I can keep you grounded, but I have no idea what's expected of me as a First Officer. Hell, I don't really know the demands of being a department head, I'm just a grunt back on DS11. But if this is the choice you wanna make, I'll do the best I can."

"You can research the duties of First Officer when you come back" said Landon shaking his head and letting out a sigh. "It's usually a lot of paper work but seeing as communications with Starfleet Command out here is...spotty at best, you'll mostly have personnel evaluations and crew reports to deal with" explained Landon. "I've never been First Officer myself, and I have never worn a red uniform. I still don't...and I'm reluctant to do so. I'll respect your wishes and keep you in your present color. Seeing as we're aboard a Defiant class starship, I want you to maintain your duties as Chief Communications Officer."

"I can do that, I guess," Xiulan said with a hint of uncertainty in her tone. Man, they really were screwed out here if she was the best pick for First Officer. Wasn't like she was in this boat alone, Landon probably felt the same way being the CO. "I guess I'll need that box now," she continued now that she knew what was in the box. "Any more surprises you feel the need to pop on me while I'm here?"

Landon picked up the box and handed it over to her. "No, not really. I think I am done for surprises at the moment. Our present situation is not ideal, but we can get through this as a crew. Not to rain on the parade, but we're down to only one shuttle pod and we need to find a new Security Chief" said Landon, briefing her quickly.

"I thought you said you were done with the surprises," Xiulan replied dryly as she felt around the box for the rank pip, removing it from the box and placing it neatly on her collar. She could feel that it was a solid pip, not the hollow pip of a junior grade Lieutenant. Damn, jumped two ranks! She wondered if it would stick if they ever made it back to Starfleet space. "Well, as your First Officer, I suppose it's my job to say 'it's not so bad' and 'we'll muddle through this' but I think that's a load of bullshit. But I do believe we'll survive, if only because we're such an unusual crew."

The man nodded simply and his bright blue eyes flashed a look at the two solid pips on the woman's collar. "An unusual crew, but one that can get through this. We've all had to do things out of our comfort zone, take positions we wouldn't otherwise advance to in years. I've made a Nurse our Ship's Counselor and Diplomatic Officer" commented Landon. "We will do whatever we have to in order to get to Ophinias as safely as we can. I was not expecting to be fired upon by the Copernicus."

"I don't think anything could have prepared any of us for that," Xiulan pointed out. "And I think the trek to Ophinias is even more daunting than the pirates on our tail, but we'll figure out how to make this work. I mean, it's not like we have much choice." It was no different than her blindness; she either had to adapt or get left behind and Xiulan refused to get left behind and she would not let the Beifong get left behind either; somehow they would adapt!

He shook his head. "Starfleet against Starfleet. A Federation starship firing on another head is full of thoughts about what is going on aboard the Copernicus" said Landon with a long sigh. "We couldn't even get close enough for me to get a good sense of anything from the crew." He looked at the woman and walked her towards the door. "Lieutenant, please brief the members of your away team and have them ready to disembark as soon as the Beifong is safely in the nebula" directed Landon.
Rabies Shots? Feline Leukemia? Medbay
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Nerys was occupied once again with her paperwork, checking to make sure every vial of every medkit had been inventoried and was current. Thus she had a medkit opened up and a PaDD in hand checking through it on her desk. This was a full medkit with the extended vials array and multiple hypos so it was taking a bit longer than usual, but this was fun for her for some reason.

It was her second starship and L'sira still didn't understand why she had to have a new physical upon boarding despite already having one this year. And yet, there it was on her orders in big red letters. Report to chief medical officer for physical prior to reporting for duty. So with a slight growl in her throat it was to sickbay she went, her tail lashing slightly as she entered through the double doors.

Not even looking up from her work, Nerys could tell this was the new Caitian she had been expecting just by the growl. "Welcome to the medbay. I assume you're here for your requested physical. Please have a seat on any biobed and I'll be right there."

"If you insist." It wasn't polite or proper language, but L'sira didn't think this doctor really cared about that. Finding a biobed, she sat down on its edge to wait.

After finishing checking her current vial, Nerys set the PaDD aside and headed over towards the waiting Caitian, tricorder out and scanning as soon as she got there. "Lieutenant S'kar, I assume. Did I say that well enough? Are you aware of the reason you're here?" she asked as she scanned in relative efficiency.

"Because... Starfleet thinks I need another physical despite my yearly being two months ago?" The high pitch of the medical tricorder rang in her ears, and L'sira couldn't quite keep them from flicking back flat against her head. "And yeah, you said it right. Most people can manage it."

"Excellent. Better that my logs have a properly pronounced name." No misgivings there... Nerys was just worried about recording her logs right rather than offending anyone. "You're here because your last ship ignored orders that you be checked for possible susceptibility to a pathogen that can break down the hemoglobins in most Caitians. Fortunately, you should be fine with a few antibodies that I currently have in stock." Snapping the tricorder closed and clipping it back to her belt, Nerys headed over to a rack of hypospray vials and started filing through them for something. "Now you need to make a decision... Take the antibodies three times, two weeks apart, or go back to your old ship."

"...oh." Presented with that choice, L'sira held out her arm, tugging back the sleeve of her uniform jacket. "I will take the antibodies if you believe them necessary. My old ship was running out of options for me."

"Well, your other options include staying and not getting the shots... And risking your blood turning into pink jelly in your veins. Not a nice way to go, I'm told." As she spoke, Nerys had loaded up a pair of hypos and held both up questioningly. "Side effects include vomiting, nausea, burning sensation, dyspepsia, minor hallucinations while in the vicinity of a type three pulsar, and possible hypersensitive hearing mutations based in the cerebrum."

L'sira blinked at her. "I... don't know what some of those things are. But okay."

"Excellent." Pressing one hypo to the Caitian's neck and one to her forearm, Nerys activated both simultaneously. Satisfied with the hissing noise, she pulled both away and set them on a tray to be sterilized later.

"Ow!" L'sira hissed, drawing her arm back and rubbing the sore place where Nerys had injected it. Her neck hurt too, but she couldn't rub both of them at the same time. "My fur isn't that thick... there's no need to slam the thing against me!" Her tail and ears flicking back and forth, she couldn't help growling a bit. "That hurt."

"I've been told I'm rough with a hypo. It always goes in though, so I honestly don't much care. I'm supposed to watch you for at least five minutes to make sure there are no adverse effects. Do you have any questions for me?" Nerys asked as she picked up a PaDD and started entering the physical and injection information in.

"Um.... no?" Five minutes was eternity for L'sira... unless she was working on something interesting. "I mean, there's not much I could ask about that I'd actually understand..."

"Fair enough. While you're here, do you think you can reprogram the replicator here to make coffee as well?" Nerys asked as she headed over to the special medical replicator.

"...your replicator doesn't make coffee. That's a new one." Usually the complaint L'sira heard was that the coffee sucked, not that the machine refused to make it altogether. "I'll take a look then." Hopping off the biobed, she went over to the replicator and began poking around in its menus to see what the problem might be.

"As far as I can tell, it's set up to replicate medical things, but not food and drink. That thing is beyond me though, so have at it." Nerys commented dryly as she finished entering in the report and setting the PaDD aside.

"How are you supposed to feed your patients if your replicator doesn't make food?! Who programmed this thing?!" Oh that was infuriating! Who in their right mind would stock a sickbay with a replicator that didn't even make water? L'sira didn't have any kind words for that sort of engineer. "I'll fix it, just give me a minute." Digging into the administrative codes of the sickbay replicator system, she found the code that would allow for the replication of food and beverages and turned it on before backing out of the system and running a test cycle to produce a glass of water. The glass of water appeared as bidden, and she couldn't help grinning toothily. "Should work now."

"I think it's a plot by our 'lounge manager' to deny everyone coffee." Punching up a mug of the black liquid, Nerys waited for the cycle to complete before picking up the steaming mug and trying it out. "Perfect. Thank you."

"I cannot drink it and find the smell grating, but to expect others not to drink it would be ridiculous." Caitians didn't roll their eyes like many humanoid species, but the annoyed flick of her ears more than got the message across. L'sira knew how the humanoid races adored their caffeinated beverages. Depriving them of their smelly black liquid often led to anger and sometimes violence.

"You might enjoy his tastes then." Nerys said as she savored the taste of her black gold, a hint of a smile on her face for a moment. There weren't many things that could arouse her emotions, but coffee was one of them. "Just stay away from anything that requires a waiver to drink, ok? My stocks of antitoxins are light enough as it is and I'd rather have them around for necessities rather than frivolous tea poisoning."

"I can't drink tea either, so there's that at least." The only plant most Caitians consumed with no difficulty was nepata, but L'sira wasn't going to tell Nerys that. "We're carnivores."

"Other than Nepata... Which I suspect he has." Nerys flashed a lopsided grin, being well versed in Caitian physiology. She also knew that cooking meat was often a turn off for most Caitians. Then her face became more serious as she mumbled softly and set her mug down in favor of her tricorder, starting a scan of herself. "Did I just smile? how uncomfortable..."

"Partaking in nepata would be conduct unbecoming." Another toothy grin. Maybe L'sira liked Nerys after all. "I don't think I'll spend much time there anyway. Most other species don't like to watch as we eat a raw steak the size of our face."

"Join me for lunch then. I don't mind and there's handy clean up kits if you make a mess." Wanting to eat with another being? Nerys was definitely questioning her mental state now, but the tricorder only showed a very slight rise in her oxytocin levels.

"I appreciate the offer, but any patients you have in here might not!" Still, it was tempting. L'sira might be a loner but she did sometimes like to spend time with other people. "Maybe when sickbay is empty?"

Nerys glanced around at the currently empty sickbay, all three biobeds and the quarantine bay in standby. "I'm not expecting anyone else today."

"Then perhaps I'll come back for lunch. I have a few things to unpack before I can settle down to eat."

"I'll look forward to it. Do you enjoy Trill seafood?" Nerys replied blandly.

"Honestly, I haven't tried any Trill seafood." L'sira didn't think she'd served with any Trills or anyone who ate Trill food. "But generally if it's fish I'll eat it. We tend not to be too particular about where the meat comes from."

"I'll put a few selections into the biomass replicator and we'll have some fresh Trill fish." Nerys said, moving to start the equipment that was normally used to grow new limbs. "See you soon."
Waking Up to Ash and Dust USS Beifong - Deck 1 - Ready Room
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Larger starships had the space, personnel, and resources to have an astrometrics lab or at the very least a whole group of science officers dedicated towards stellar cartography. All the Defiant class USS Beifong has was limited personnel doing the best they could with what they had. In terms of a Science Department, that was currently in the hands of Brexa, a Ferengi Chief Petty Officer aboard the USS Beifong who was heading the Science Department as Chief of Science. It was not an ideal situation to be so far out in deep space in the Gamma quadrant without a proper crew of science officers, but Landon Milo and his crew had to make it work.

Though Landon was still not comfortable with the position he had to hold as acting Captain of the starship Beifong, he was doing his best and doing what was absolutely necessary. He had moved all his personal belongings into the Captain's bunk, and had started to make her small Ready Room more of his own. Sitting behind her desk was a big step and it was an even larger step for Landon to take to change his daily wardrobe to medical blues to command reds.

Presently, his starship was in dire need of dilithium crystals and a little time for some internal repairs, but that involved letting the engines cool and his engineering and operations personnel get to work. Recently, an away team from Beifong had been able to acquire some dilithium crystals from a class M planet. Sitting behind the Captain's desk and reading through a PaDD, Landon nearly jumped at the sound of the door chime. “Come in” he said as he put the PaDD aside and straightened himself in the seat. It was quick to recognize the woman as soon as the doors parted, short with a large head and a caramel colored skin tone with a bit of an orange glow. Her dark beady eyes looked at him, seeking permission to enter. “Chief, what do you have for me?” he said, gesturing for the Ferengi woman to approach.

The small female Ferengi entered the Captain's Ready Room with a PaDD in her hand. “Good news and bad news, Doc” she said with an even keeled tone. She looked at the man apologetically though and added “Captain” she said correcting herself, much to Landon's discomfort.

He smiled at her “I like it when anyone calls me Doctor and I am not fond of being called Captain” he said carefully. I am not ready for that. I haven't earned that right he thought to himself. “Let's just go with Commander for now, Chief” he added with a polite nod. It was a reasonable solution for him. He held the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was now in a more combatant role than his former position as Chief Medical Officer.

The Ferengi smiled back slightly before cutting to the chase and handing over the PaDD. “Reports from myself and the Engineering Department, Sir” she said swiftly. “I'll go with the good news first” she added before continuing. “As we anticipated the Dilithium recovered was not quite the quality our engines need, but Engineering and I have been working hard on methods to purify and refine the Dilithium for ship use. We can do it and will have it done” reported the Chief of Science.

Landon knew how to take the good. 'Like small grains of salt' he recalled his mentor once telling him. “How about the bad news, Chief” he asked reluctantly.

Chief Brexa nodded “Yep, well, here it goes. The bad news is we need some time to get this done and to change out the crystals. We'll need to cut warp engines for at least a handful of hours” she said bluntly. “No way we can do it quickly unless you want to risk damaging the warp core or causing a breach” she added, not mincing words. “I'm a Ferengi and I love to gamble, but this is one risk, I don't want to take.”

“Nor do I” replied Landon shaking his head. “We already spent a few hours stopping to acquire these crystals” he said gently but he was inching closer to showing irritation in his tone. “We can't just cut warp engines for several hours in the dead of space. We'd be sitting ducks if the Copernicus found us or if anyone else hostile did” added Landon.

Chief Brexa nodded “I understand that, Commander. We all do” she said simply. “But whether we stop cold now or stop cold in a few days or a week, we will be cutting our warp engines at some point.” The Ferengi held up a finger before Landon chimed back in. “Now, I wouldn't come to you without covering all our bases, Commander. I found a possible solution.”

Landon sat back in the chair and looked at the woman interested in what she had. “I'm all ears” he said with a small smile at the Ferengi.

“I hate that saying” she said shaking her head. “Well, you aren't going to love it, but I found us another hiding place” she said gently creeping into the topic. “What if we don't cut our warp engines dead in space, but rather perform a planetary landing?” she offered.

The former Chief Medical Officer sat back up and leaned forward. “An interesting alternative, Chief, but that doesn't change the fact that if the Copernicus is on our trail, they will catch up to us soon and their sensors will find us on the planet” replied Landon.

She scoffed “Knew you would point that out” she countered and gestured toward the PaDD. “If you'll have a look at, you'll see the planet that I am suggesting” she said, directing him.

Landon looked through the PaDD and the information on the planet. His eyes widened and he quickly sat the PaDD down and pushed it back towards the Ferengi. “That's not an option, Chief, that's a dance with the devil and when you dance with the devil, one rarely wins” he said shaking his head. “You want me to take the Beifong down to a Class Y planet? You know the nickname given to them? Demon planets” replied Landon.

She took the PaDD and pushed it back towards her superior. “Commander, like it or not, that's our only option unless we do it in the dead of space. Landing on a Y Class planet has been done before” she said flatly.

“Yes, by an Intrepid class starship with over a hundred more crew aboard than we have and with an experienced Commanding Officer” countered Landon.

The Ferengi glared at him. “You have this crew and they have you. Like it or not, we will have to take risks and get creative and unconventional out here, Sir” she said trying to not sound bitter. “You have the crew's support. Take us to this Demon planet and we can do this. We'll have those crystals ready and changed as soon as possible.”

Landon sighed. “And what of the Copernicus? If she finds us...we'll be sitting on a Y Class planet” he added.

The Chief let out a laugh and shook her head. “They wouldn't have the gull nor means. The Copernicus is a Nova Class starship, they are incapable of planetary landings, Commander. Also, nobody is going to set foot on a Demon planet even in the best environmental suit. If the Copernicus arrives...we'll give her one hell of a fight when take flight again.”
Awkward Examinations Sickbay TBD
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Ian walked into the medical bay, his uniform jacket unzipped halfway. He hadn't had a chance to undergo his medical exam before he had come on board and Lieutenant Severide had worked him to the bone since his arrival with assisting the Engineering teams on repairs to weapons and shielding systems. This has all come to a head when he had ruptured a coolant pipe and a jet of the superheated chemical hit his shoulder and caused a burn more painful than anything he had ever felt. It had fused part of Ian's sleeve to his skin and blackened some of the exposed skin. Striding over to an empty bio bed, he used his free hand to push himself up onto the bed.

Looking up from her desk, Nerys shot out of her chair and got busy immediately. "Someone I haven't seen before and you're already injured before I can give you a physical or a medical check in." As she spoke, she loaded three hyposprays and laid two of them on a tray next to the biobed. The third, she injected into the patient's neck somewhat forcefully. Working quickly, she scanned the burnt area with a tricorder before working on cleaning out the wound with a sort of laser tool that disintegrated that part of the uniform. "So what's your name and what were you doing?"

Ian winced as the doctor jabbed the hypospray into his neck and her general lack of tact. "Ouch, go easy on the hypospray!" Ian said as he felt an uncharacteristic pinch. She was being rather rough but she was good at her job. A few seconds after the meds took hold, Ian noticed the colors in the sickbay becoming warmer and a drugged smile crossed his face. Trying to maintain a sense of bearing, he responded. "My name's Ian. Ian Mackenzie. I was working on some repairs to the phaser array and a pipe burst. I'm lucky it didn't hit me in the face." he said, jokingly.

"Yes you are. Reconstructing an arm is much easier than all the tender bits in your face. I'm Doctor Nerys Evartin and I'll be your physician for the duration of your stay aboard this vessel." Finishing up with the laser tool, she sprayed the whole area down with a disinfectant and growth promoting spray from the second hypospray. It was an unconventional use of a hypo, but it got the job done well enough. Once that was done, she switched to what looked like an industrial grade dermal regenerator with built in scanning system, paying close attention to it as she slowly started regenerating the third degree burns towards fresh pink flesh. "This will take a few minutes. Please try to hold still, ok?"

Ian nodded but simply leaned back and let the doctor do the remainder of the work. The disinfectant spray burned as it made contact with his tender skin and no amount of anesthesia was going to help that. Looking up, Ian could see that this female doctor was a Trill and quite an attractive one at that. The painkillers were giving him bad ideas- like coming onto a woman who was patching him up. He fought the meds and clenched his free fist to keep himself grounded.

Soon, she had the skin mostly regenerated and was putting the final touches on the treatment, completely oblivious to her patient's mental state. "And... that should do it," she declared, setting the regenerator aside and picking up the third hypospray. Pressing it to his neck, she pressed the button. "That's a general counteragent in case any of that hydraulic fluid entered your bloodstream to prevent blood poisoning. The area will be numb for a day or two and i recommend taking it easy until then." Setting that last hypospray aside, she went back to her tricorder and started scanning him from head to toe to check for anything else that might need healing.

The fog still clouding his brain, Ian sat up and simply stared at the Doctor. Under the influence, she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen in his 21 years of life- she practically had an angelic aura about her. "You're really pretty." he said, giggling uncontrollably. "Like REALLY pretty." Ian's words slurred as he continued. "Even with this numb arm-" he stopped and pointed to his arm, then to Nerys. "I'd just like to grab ya and kiss ya and probably more-" he stopped, staring at the Nerys' bosom, his giggles growing louder and slightly more lecherous.

"That's the anesthesia talking." Nerys replied emotionlessly, pushing the man back down on the biobed. "Just lay there a while and let your head clear a bit, ok?"

Ian complied, rather reluctantly. The logical side of his brain was screaming at him because of what he was doing but the other side was having trouble adjusting to the chemicals flowing through his system. Ian was unused to anesthesia of any kind, he didn't even use aspirin when he got a headache. Whatever Nerys had decided to use was hitting him like a freight train that was showing no sign of stopping. Feeling slightly drowsy, Ian laid back and let the waves of sleep wash over him.

Returning to her paperwork, Nerys let the biobed monitor Ian's vitals for a while, glancing up to check on him every few minutes. After about twenty minutes, she headed back over and rested a hand on his shoulder in an extremely rare case of compassion. "Still feeling high from the anesthesia?"

Ian opened his eyes, his entire body feeling heavy. "Only a little, Doc." he said, swinging himself into a sitting position.

"That's good. Like I said before, take it easy for a day or two. If you feel well enough, you're free to go." Nerys stated, moving to clean up the used hypos and tools.

Ian hopped down from the biobed and began his exit. Stopping just before he crossed the threshold, he shrugged his shoulders. "Thanks, Doctor. That was a little rough but I appreciate you patching me up. If you ever wanted to get coffee or something, let me know." he said, leaning against the doorframe.

"Then I recommend coming here for your coffee. The lounge manager is very anti coffee." Nerys said as she ran the used tools through the sterilization beams.

Ian smirked slightly. "Then here I shall come. Any particular roast you like, Doctor?" he inquired with a cocked eyebrow

"Replicator pattern thirteen." Nerys stated, not even realizing he was probably still trying to hit on her.

Ian nodded. "Roger that." he said, slightly sarcastically. This woman was being so icy, Ian was beginning to get goosebumps. He simply shrugged and shot off a final quip "If you ever decide to warm up, Doctor. Let me know."

"My body temperature is within normal ranges for Trill, if slightly cooler than most." Nerys, confused now, looked up at Ian. "Did my cold hands bother you during your treatment?"

Ian was flabbergasted by the Nerys' ignorance of metaphors and entendres. "Your hands were fine. Your general demeanor is extremely cold, though. It's almost like the temperature in the room drops when you start talking."

Ah, that made sense. It wasn't the first time people have told her she was unsociable. Tapping her temple, Nerys replied. "Then I apologise. I've been told that the part of my brain that registers emotions never developed past the fetal stage so I'm afraid I'm not very sociable. A blessing if it had happened to a Vulcan, but being a Trill, it was considered a disaster by many while growing up."

"Hm. That explains it. I'm no good at medicine but I think you'll take some getting used to." Ian said, a small smile crossing his face.

Nerys nodded and finished sterilizing and putting away the equipment. "Thankfully, my supposed impairment has helped me to focus on my studies more than most others so I am very proficient at the medical arts. Specifically, I trained to be a cardiologist, but apparently the politics of social encounters is required for a good posting aboard a starbase or planetside."

Ian nodded. "Don't apologize but let me say at this point, we're the only social interaction that you're going to get. Maybe you can see a counselor and have them work with you. It does wonders, trust me on that." he said in a matter of fact tone.

Nerys was good leaving it at that as it wasn't a conversation she desired to have again. Grunting slightly, she headed to the replicator for a cup of coffee and promptly ignored her latest patient.

Turning to walk into the corridor, Ian chuckled and softly sang a song. "She's as cold as ice..."
Manning the Guns Main Bridge
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Ian walked out of the turbolift onto the bridge a few minutes before his shift was supposed to start. Looking around, he could see the day crew moving about either absorbed in their console or ducked under one making repairs. There was a reason that Ian had decided to report earlier than usual- he needed to speak with the Captain regarding Lieutenant Severide. Ian had completed his assignments and the Lieutenant was nowhere to be found. He now needed more to do beyond simply manning a console during the night shift. Walking over to the Ready Room, he tapped the door chime to get the new Captain's attention.

Doctor Landon Milo was finishing up a log entry when the door chime alerted him to the presence of a visitor. He had several things on his plate to do, and one of them was to find a replacement for Lieutenant Severide. Kelly had left Landon with a few good recommendations, but it was a young junior grade Lieutenant that was top of Severide's short list of capable officers. "Enter" answered Landon as he stood up from the very small sofa he was lying on and straightened his medical blues.

The doors parted ways and Landon saw a young man that he did not know by name initially, but did remember seeing him once or twice aboard the small ship in passing. He recalled the man being one of Severide's men. "Please, come in, Lieutenant" said Landon greeting the man pleasantly. "Is there something that I may help you with, Lieutenant....?" added Doctor Milo as he grasped for a name.

Ian entered and fought the Marine bred urge to stand at attention. He instead assumed a position of Parade Rest, his hands clasped behind his back. "Ian Mackenzie, sir." Ian sized the man up, he seemed pleasant enough although it seemed he had never been in this role before. It was all in the eyes, this Doctor's eyes were doing the same to him.

Landon looked at the man and studied him for a few moments. "Rigid and structured... No mistaking a Security Officer" commented the Doctor. "Lieutenant JG MacKenzie. Yes, I remember your name being brought up by Lieutenant Severide. What brings you to the Captain's Ready Room, Lieutenant?"

"Sir, I wanted to speak with you about Lieutenant Severide. It appears that he has gone missing and I can't seem to obtain any information as to his whereabouts from the computer." Ian said, a slight tone of frustration in his voice.

"Because, Lieutenant Severide is no longer aboard the USS Beifong" replied Landon simply. "You and the rest of the Security personnel were apparently left in the dark. I apologize about that. I was not aware he had left you all so uninformed of his decision" continued the Doctor. "The Lieutenant approached me several hours ago with a very ambitious plan that I agreed to. He and Lieutenant Beaumont from Engineering took a shuttle pod and have disembarked on an alternate course, heading back to DS11 the way we came" explained Landon.

He looked carefully at the young man. "You were on Lieutenant Severide's short list of officers he felt capable of taking over as Security Chief and Chief Tactical Officer aboard the Beifong. At this time, I only have Severide's assessment of potential replacements and you were the top of that list. Having reviewed his notes and opinions, I do believe that were he here now, he would be nudging me towards naming you for the job" stated Landon openly.

Ian was surprised at this revelation of his skills. Attempting to keep his jaw from dropping to the deck, Ian simply gave the captain a look of pure skepticism. "Sir, respectfully, this is my first shipboard assignment since my Academy cruise. I've been stuck behind a desk, catering to an Admiral for the better part of a year before I got here. Hell, Lieutenant Severide didn't even allow me to complete platform certifications."

Landon looked at the young man and raised a brow "Your point being you are inexperienced and have been nothing more than a paper pusher for your limited time in service?" retorted the Doctor. "We are in a very unique situation out here, Lieutenant. Do you know how many starships I've commanded in my career? One...and it is this one. Do you know how many years I've spent as First Officer? Zero. I have no command experience at all except for briefly serving as Second Officer on a planetary base" countered Landon.

"So..." began Landon, crossing his arms. "Your inexperience changes nothing. The facts are facts, Lieutenant and you very well may be our best bet."

Ian simply nodded, holding back any expression of surprise. After an eternity of silence, Ian spoke up. "Very well, sir. I'll get status and personnel reports to you before end of shift."

"Thank you, Lieutenant. I would like to have those soon" replied Landon with a nod. "Next to the Science Department, you have the most skeletal aboard. Give me an assessment of what our numbers are and how you feel with those you have under you. If need be, we can check for personnel who may have formerly been Security or have some training in the areas of security and tactical. This is a small ship, but if we are going to make it...everyone is going to have to chip in."

"Understood, sir. I'll get on it right away. Will that be all, sir?" Ian asked, the doctor's words weighing on him the longer he stood there.

"That will be all" finished Landon, dismissing the man.
In The Offing
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After the briefing and after a rather late lunch, Ensign Haro made his way to Ensign Xiulan Song's quarters. If they were going to get to know this culture together, then he thought it most appropriate that maybe they get to know each other a little better as well. He was thrilled to be looking into a culture that was possibly pre-warp. He, himself, had never known a time that his people didn't have warp capabilities, so to him it was rather like he was going to get a chance to time travel back. He was immensely curious about how primitive these people were. He pushed the buzzer on her door lightly and waited for a reply.

The door swept open, as it was set to do automatically when someone rang the chime, and revealed darkened quarters, though the light from the corridor illuminated the silhouette of the small human woman at her workstation. She was wearing a heavy audio headset and at first didn't seem to notice that she had a visitor, but she did know that someone was there. She pulled the headset off and looked in his general direction but failed to look directly at him.

"Ensign Haro?" she asked, uncertain who was visiting her but suspecting this might be the case. Commander Milo had asked them to work together after all. "I hope you don't mind, I got started without waiting," she added, hoping this was in face the Bolian Counselor.

Nician squinted in the darkness inside, but he didn't step over the threshold. It was impolite after all to just barge into someone's quarters without being totally invited. "Yes, Ensign Song? It's very dark in there... you're working?" He was very eager to join her and already grinning at the prospect. "I don't believe that we have ever been formally introduced. Although, we seem to know well enough who each other is." He chuckled, still standing in the open doorway.

"Well, come on in, let's get started," Xiulan said with a grin. "And if you're after introductions, I'm Xiulan Song, a linguist on loan from Deep Space 11. I was bound for the Copernicus, but... well, we saw how that turned out, " she continued dryly, still staring into nothingness. "Anyway, I got started on translating the language. I accessed their communication broadcasts and ran it through the universal translator, but I've been refining certain nuances that might give us away as outsiders. I think I've got a workable matrix and I'm almost done transcribing their written language if you want to start researching the people."

Nician stepped inside the room and looked around, still grinning. "How do you work in all this darkness. May I turn on some lights? I'm Nician Haro, in way of introductions. I was a nurse, a good one, mind you, and now I'm a counselor." He chuckled heartily. "What sort of information on the people do we have to go off of? I mean, I'm sure the Federation must have some sort of information in their data banks. Don't they?" He pulled a PaDD from the small satchel he was carrying and looked at her. Then cocked his head to one side, noting that she still hadn't looked at him at all. Slowly, he put two and two together with the darkness and the lack of seeing. "May I sit? I don't mean to be rude... I hope I'm not anyway, but how long have you been blind?" he asked casually. He didn't remember reading any of her medical records and chastised himself for not doing so. He didn't mean to be insensitive with all his comments about how dark it was in her quarters.

"Haro, Nician Haro..." she murmured thoughtfully, working the etymology of the name over in her head. "You're Bolian, right?" That would explain the almost jovial level of politeness of his conversation. "Oh, I forget about the lights all the time, you can turn them on," Xiulan continued with a chuckle. "And you're not rude; I've been blind all my life. Got the implants to get through the Academy, then an electrical accident fried the implants. They couldn't fix the damage to my visual cortex so I could use new implants, but no skin off my back, I was already used to not seeing, so I just kept going as I was. I can detect some infrared, little more than heat signatures, lets me walk around without bumping into people, but yeah... blind."

Xiulan continued working at her station as she talked, one hand working over the glossing surface of the console while the other remained on a strange, seemingly blank PaDD resting on one side of the console. That was her Braille PaDD, letting her know what was on the console, and it was by pure memory of the screen layouts that allowed her to continue working without being able to feel buttons.

"And the Federation doesn't have much on this planet. What I've got on them so far is that they call themselves Sistarian and they are space faring, but only those of wealth go into space and they don't go far, they're still pre-warp. Uhhh, they rely mostly on trade, they have been visited by outsiders, including the Vorta, but I don't think they are under Dominion control." She sent some of her preliminary research to an open console for him to look at. It wasn't much, mainly things she had used to work on the Universal Translator matrix, but it was a start.

"Lights up 25% please..." he asked her quarters. When the light level rose and he could finally see clearly, he nodded and then remembered again that she couldn't see him. "Uh yes, Bolian. I grew up on Bolias and had a very... uneventful childhood." He sat down at the console and started to look through the information she had sent there. "My mother was a school teacher and my father was a banker." He chuckled. "I didn't expect this level of adventure when I joined Starfleet though. Not being stuck out here anyway, but we all make do the best we can with the given situation, I'm sure."

He looked down at the information panel again. "Well... only the wealthy suggests that they are divided into classes. So there is probably a low class, middle and upper. Sometimes that can get tricky though when dealing with levels of wealth and what they consider wealth. I mean, as far as we know the one with the most necklaces could be the richest man in the village... If they rely on trade it isn't fair to assume that they even have a monetary exchange system. It might all be based on supply and demand. Whoever has the most of what people want is considered wealthy. It would allow a lot of upward and downward mobility though depending on the market and how much it fluctuates. At least they have the technology to go into space and based on that we have to give them a little credit for their advancements. Unless they traded that ability somewhere along the lines. Do you know what sort of vessels they use to get into space?" He didn't really wait for an answer, instead he continued to speculate. "Pre-warp Bajorans developed a sailing vessel that took them into their solar system... and pre-warp humans used rockets and shuttle-like ships to explore their surrounding planets and stars... but relying heavily on trade and yet still able to travel past their atmosphere seems rather incongruous... don't you think?" This time he did pause and wait for answers or opinions.

"Not necessarily," Xiulan said in response to his last query. "On Earth, we still relied heavily on trade before we gain warp capabilities. Even after, before the separate governments of our world united, we traded amongst ourselves through monetary commerce and we traded with the Vulcans and eventually other races, and we still do. All I found was 'trade' referenced heavily in a few documents, I haven't figured out if it was within their world or with races outside their world. But I do agree that at this stage of their development they are probably somewhat divided due to their wealth status. I'm not finding anything that mentions any sort of formal caste system, but then again it wouldn't have to be, just an unspoken division between the upper echelon and those they see as 'beneath' them." Xiulan was by no means a sociologist, but it was unavoidable to run into these sorts of issues when tackling a new language, so she had seen enough examples of class division to recognize the signs.

"Yes!" Nician replied cheerfully. "You're absolutely correct. I would think that with the capability to at least go into space they would have to have some sort of monetary exchange and yes, the separation of classes doesn't have to be any sort of caste system... but they at least have a separation between the classes in monetary gain to suggest that only the wealthy go into space, or can afford to go into space. Hum..." he made a thoughtful noise and rubbed his bald head with one hand. He wasn't really a sociologist either, but he had taken some courses at the Academy. Not that they were helping much in his current situation. "Do we know how big their population centers are? Like how many people? And I wonder what they trade... it says here that they make clothing, weapons and decorative items, but all of that is pretty vague without some idea of their level of technology. And what of religion? I'm sure they have one. Most pre-warp cultures do anyway. I'm starting to wonder if maybe we should put up a "duck blind" and see if we can gather more information. Even a little would tell us a lot at this point... of course that is if it's the "right" type of information. Humans were fairly advanced by the time they experienced first contact... but then there were the Ferengi, who traded for their technology and were still quite primitive when they became warp capable." He looked at her for a few moments. "I hope you don't mind that I'm doing all of this out loud, but I do value your opinion."

"I don't know if we'd have enough time for a duck blind," Xiulan replied skeptically. "We're still being chased by pirates and we need the dilithium now." She paused for thought. "What if we had something to trade? Now that we know they have dealt with outsiders, why don't we just offer something in trade for the dilithium? It's not like Starfleet hasn't done this before and it might be more productive than undercover work."

He nodded again and then sighed in frustration of his inability to remember she couldn't hear him nodding. "Yes, I agree, but what if we get down there and their cultural greetings are based on complicated gestures or anything like that. We're not going to blend in with the natives if we don't have it down correctly and I'm pretty sure that regardless of their contact with the Vorta... that would be on the Vorta... but Starfleet would not be thrilled if we just beamed down, offered some blankets to the locals, and took their dilithium. They have protocol that we must adhere to. What if we get down there to trade for dilithium and they don't know what it is or they're not even aware that they have any... or they call it something completely different?"

She actually could see his heat signature moving in a way that she recognized as nodding, but it amused her to let people think she was completely blind in that sense. "Well, you're not wrong, we do need to get a better sense of their customs and what they need and if they've come across dilithium before." Xiulan sighed as she thought this over. "Well, we're here to do research. I've got the computer working on translating active audio and visual broadcasts, so lets see what more we can learn about these people, then bring the options to Commander Milo. If we can trade openly with these people without the complications and deception of undercover, then I think that might be the favorable option. We might even get an ally out of this if we play our cards right."

Nician was reading as she talked. He nodded yet again. "Yes... I'd imagine that we could trade them cloth. If nothing else. It does say that they do trade a lot of clothing. It might be nice to bring them some fine cloth that they could use. You know, it might even be a good front for how we present ourselves to them. If we come as cloth merchants. I'm sure that's not completely unheard of. I'd imagine that they trade with each other a lot for whatever skills the particular village is lacking... and the cloth is easily replicated. Even simple cloth with a tight weave to it might be exotic to them. At least if we did that we wouldn't have to come up with animals or tools or money. Considering we know pretty much nothing about the local flora or fauna..." He chuckled.

"This is true, but I think we should keep an open mind when we're ready to try to trade; we wouldn't just be getting dilithium out of this, if we play our cards right then we might get a working relationship out of this deal," Xiulan countered. "If we can get them something they need, we might even be able to earn ourselves an ally, which could come in handy if the pirates catch up to us before we're able to refuel."

"But I thought we weren't supposed to mess with pre-warp civilizations, much less strike up treaties with them or trade agreements. We should focus on getting in and out with what we need with as little contamination as possible, right?" He wasn't sure if he'd gotten his facts straight or not. Besides, this population might already be considered tainted because of their contact with the Vorta, but he wasn't sure if Starfleet would want them to contaminate it further. It was possible that the Vorta had no such rules, but regardless they were Starfleet and not the Vorta.

"They're already contaminated," Xiulan countered, bringing up several references to visitors, and not just the Vorta. "They've already been exposed to other races that they now trade with. Now, I agree we shouldn't share advanced technology, but if they need something, we could replicate something equivalent to their level of development so that we're not contributing to their developmental contamination. But by going undercover, we could get caught in a lie and then they'll never trust us and we'll never get that dilithium."

"You know... my people are rather known for dealing in beautiful and exotic goods, unless the captain really wants us to dress the part, but I'm saying that posing as merchants would probably suffice and it would be the easier of many options of lies to maintain. I agree with you, that I don't think we should limit ourselves to just offering one sort of item. We're going to have to find out what the dilithium is worth to them and then make an effort to find products that would match in value, but it's very hard to glean that information from these..." he made a motion to the computer displays. "We're going to have to go down there and spend a little bit of time to find out the information that we need to make this venture successful. Since we know so much about who they trade with... how do we find out what they've been trading to these people?"

Xiulan listened with a nod. "That could work, remain nonspecific if we can and let them draw their own conclusions about who we are," she replied, her hands still moving over the console. "and right now I'm searching for documentation that would indicated what they trade in; trade agreements, transaction receipts, things of that nature, but this might take a while. I hope you don't have any plans for tonight..."

Nician laughed warmly. "No dear, no plans at all. Maybe something to eat and drink later on, but nothing that will take me from the work. You know, it's sort of amusing, and I'm not sure I'm not missing something, but I don't really see any sort of physical description of these people anywhere. Do we know what they look like? And do we know anything about their technology level aside from the fact that they aren't warp capable? Even something about their structures, like buildings and such. We could actually glean quite a bit of information if we had something like that."

"Oh, sorry, I tend to overlook details like appearance," Xiulan said with a chuckle. "I also disable images in these searches so they don't clutter things up, makes it easier for me to read with my fingers. You can just pull up the images attached to the documents I already sent you, should be some stuff in there. I'll try to find more."

"I'll keep looking in the meantime." He was quiet for several moments, reading over the screens in front of him. "Hum... you know, this is sort of interesting. There's this one little paragraph in this article, it says: "The Sistarian people are very literal in their speech and their understanding of other's speech. They use no know idioms." Very interesting. So they probably don't say things like "He kicked the bucket" do they?" He chuckled. "It also says that they're Terran in appearance, but skin tones tend to range dark. It doesn't say anything about common hair colors or eye colors... but I would imagine that if their skin is dark, hair and eyes probably range the same. Wouldn't you think?"

"I wouldn't know," Xiulan replied with a chuckle, waving a hand on front of her eyes to humorously lampshade the fact that she couldn't discern those kinds of details. "And yeah, I noticed the detail about their speech patterns. It's actually quite refreshing; you have no idea how challenging figurative speech can make translations, it can be a real nightmare," she added, her console chirping and processing over something big she had just fed into it. Then the screen Nician was accessing flickered and new translations popped up. "There, updated the Universal translator, it should be auto translating audio and text, so searches should be easier. Since you're familiar with trade and commerce, if you can search their documents for anything we could trade with, I can go brief the Commander with what we've got so far and see how he wants us to proceed," she offered.

Nician was already on it, his eyes on the computer screen and his fingers typing out the information they were looking for. "Ah perfect! Good work! And of course... sounds good to me," was his only response.

Ensign Nician Haro - Ship's Counselor

Ensign Xiulan Song - Communication's Officer
Trill Sashimi Medbay
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Nerys was prepping for dinner like she would for surgery. Scrubbed up but with a proper santoku knife rater than a laser scalpel. Se had just finished replicating several slabs of Trill fish meats and was slicing them sashimi style. She placed some on small beds of rice, but most were just arrayed in a hopefully pleasing pattern. One thing she was thankful for was the ability to replicate semi-living flesh suitable for grafts or consumption with the medbay replicator. It probably wasn't as efficient as a normal replicator, but she far preferred it.

L'sira had not forgotten the offer to share a sushi dinner made with fish native to Trill, and she entered the medbay as Nerys was arranging the sushi platters. Instantly, her nose twitched at the scent of fresh fish, so different from the raw flesh the other replicators on the ship made. It almost smelled real. With a toothy grin, she gave the display a studious look. "The replicators here are different from those in the mess hall. Even raw meat there smells dead and cooked."

Pointing to the replicator with the knife, Nerys nodded. "I have to be able to replicate a living synthetic heart or lung. Other replicators don't need to." Slicing up the last bit, Nerys set her knife aside and moved the trays from the surgery table to the makeshift dining table she had set up.

"I suppose that's a good point, but they should consider expanding the technology anyway. Not everyone in the Federation eats their meat cooked." L'sira knew that there were relatively few species who ate their meat raw, but there were enough for Starfleet to consider it anyway.

"A lot of ships do actually use one in a dedicated dining hall with a chef if they don't have foodstocks. This was designed for war though - no real amenities." Nerys sat and picked up one of the pieces with rice and popped it in her mouth, chewing thoughtfully. "North sea grouper and no risk of phytotoxins."

"Guess that makes sense." Finding a matching piece of grouper without the rice, L'sira put a piece in her mouth and chewed it thoughtfully before swallowing. "Less oily than the Terran species but similar texture. But on Earth I never saw grouper served as sashimi. Only cooked, unless you made a special order."

Picking up another piece, Nerys pointed out the pink and white stripes before eating it too. "This is similar to Terran fatty tuna but with a sweeter flavor."

"Fatty tuna is the best of the tuna used for sushi. But no one believes me." L'sira laughed a little, eating a piece of that fish. "Humans can get so caught up in whether something is healthy or not. They don't realize what they're missing."

"As a cardiologist, I agree." Nerys said before popping another piece in her mouth and chewing thoughtfully. "May I ask a possibly personal question?"

"You can ask, but I won't promise an answer." L'sira was always wary of personal questions. So often, they led to people making judgements about her life before she'd joined Starfleet.

Nerys nodded. "What is love? What does it feel like?"

"Good question. I wish I knew." L'sira's ears went a bit flat against her head as she picked up another piece of fish to nibble on. "I never had a family, and I've never had a mate. I barely have friends."

"I've never been called a friend either. My lack of emotions would normally leave me working in the symbiont caves but even they didn't like me." Nerys explained before popping a purple tinted fish piece into her mouth.

"You've been friendly enough to me." Curious about the purple fish, L'sira picked a piece up and looked at it closely before biting into it. She shouldn't have worried about its flavor; she'd never met a fish she didn't like.

"Thank you." Nerys said, a bit unsure of herself now. "Are we friends then? I get a lot of complaints about my bedside manner and most seem unappy with me overall."

"I think we're friends. No one else here really talks to me." Caitian facial muscles weren't built for the same type of frowns that humanoids could display. Instead, L'sira's mood could be read by watching her ears and tail, which drooped slightly.

"Then we can learn about social interaction together. How was the violet whitefish? I don't think the replicator did it justice, but it should be close enough." Nerys said before popping more into her mouth.

"It's pretty good. I'm sure the real thing is better, but getting fresh fish out here is impossible." L'sira kind of liked the idea of learning about social niceties together. At least she wasn't the only person on the ship who lacked social graces.
Whispers in the Storm USS Beifong | Bridge April 2388
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Lieutenant Commander Landon Milo was already on his way to the Bridge after grabbing a quick lunch. As much as he was not fond of the duties and responsibilities forced upon him, taking over as Acting Captain for an unknown amount of time, what he disliked more was surrendering the Bridge, even if he now had named a First Officer and established a chain of command. He still pondered about his decision though not whether or not he named the right officer, but more so how the rest of the crew felt about what he had done by taking a young communications officer and field promoting her from the rank of Ensign to full Lieutenant in order to serve as his First Officer.

As far as Landon was concerned, she was the right officer for the position. He needed everyone else where they were, and Xiulan had already displayed the qualities in which Landon felt he would need in a right hand man. She was an excellent officer who performed her duties well as Chief Communications Officer and she was not afraid to speak her mind nor think outside the conventional box. If questioned by anyone, Landon would defend his decision to the best of his abilities, but he was hoping that nobody would speak out against it either openly or behind closed doors with him. It was his call to make, and Starfleet Command would support it.

They had after all, practically instructed him to use any means necessary to get the USS Beifong safely to Ophinias colony in the next several months if he could not find a way to remove the Captain from stasis and cure her from the virus that caused her to organs to shut down and triggered Landon's order to place her in stasis when he was Chief Medical Officer.

With the away team having successfully completed their mission, and safely returning to the USS Beifong with several crudely raw dilithium crystals, Landon felt reassured in his decision of naming Xiulan as First Officer and appointing Nico, the former nurse to the role of Ship's Counselor and Chief Diplomatic Officer. Beifong's engineering personnel and lone science specialist were working hard to get the crystals stable enough to be considered working condition. On the Science Chief's recommendation, Landon had ordered the USS Beifong to make a slight course adjustment and placed them on a heading for a Y class 'Demon' planet.

However, before the USS Beifong could arrive at the Y class planet, they had encountered several spacial distortions and severe gravitational pulls from unknown phenomena in the region of space that the Beifong was cutting through. Presently inside the turbolift, heading up the Bridge, the starship shook and Landon found himself grasping onto the railing in the lift until it reached its destination.

Landon walked out onto the Bridge just as the starship shook once again. “Science station report” he ordered, shooting the request towards the female Ferengi. Her station was sometimes vacant or filled by an Operations officer or someone with at least some experience with science or technical skills. Though Landon felt most comfortable with Chief Brexa in the seat like she currently was.

The Ferengi snorted, “It feels worse than it is, Commander. Nothing too serious to worry about... strong tides and a tiny starship,” she said trying to calm his nerves. “Sensors indicate there was rather nasty Ion storm in a nearby sector. We are feeling what's left of it from here, but we are well enough away from the storm to experience the worst of it,” she said crisply.

“Good,” replied Landon with a sigh of relief. “Just keep an eye on that storm, Chief. I know those have a knack for causing damage and destruction. I do not want to be caught in the middle of one,” he added.

Brexa snorted. “Aye, I'll keep my eyes on it, Sir. I'm routinely feeding helm some navigation readings to keep us well in clear of it,” added the Ferengi.

Landon looked at the helmsmen “Keep up the good work then, Helm,” said Landon as he proceeded to sit in his chair but stopped short of sitting. He had left Xiulan in charge of the Bridge, but she had not taken his seat. She instead, remained situated in her seat manning communications which wasn't unusual per se, but they weren't expecting to hear from Starfleet for at least another week or two when they reached the next unmanned communications relay station.

Lieutenant Commander Milo watched as the Bridge's illumination briefly dimmed and station console's flickered before everything turning back on and the illumination of the Bridge returning to normal. In response to the brief brown out, Landon looked towards his Chief Operations Officer. "Lieutenant, can you stabilize that... take power from unnecessary areas if you must. I don't want the Bridge, Sickbay, or Engineering experiencing power loss," he directed.

"I'll see what I can do." Starships only had so much power to work with, but L'sira had learned a few tricks for getting it to where it needed to be more quickly. She went ahead and shut down the holodecks, freeing up a ton of power that she used to fortify the supply to the more vital areas of the ship.

He remained standing for a few moments and then began to head towards the communications station. “Something out there, Lieutenant?” he asked Xiulan as he calmly studied her, clearly honing in on something, listening intently.

At first, the blind woman simply nodded as she continued to filter through the ion static that was cluttering the communications array. As Landon peered over her shoulder, he could see that she had modified the displays on her console to display various system information accessible from the Command chair, so she had not languished in her duty to 'keep an eye' on the bridge even though she chose not to sit in the Big Chair.

"I'm not sure what I've got, sir," Xuilan said with an exhale to express her perplexion and frustration. "There's a pattern, kind of like the old Earth Morse code, but the pattern isn't Terran in origin. Unfortunately, there's not enough for me to determine what the code is saying; without the context of the base language being use, there's no way to extrapolate what the pulses mean, but given the intensity of the ion storms and how degraded the signal is, it's not a huge leap to assume that this is likely an SOS."

Landon turned and looked towards the tactical station. "Lieutenant Mackenzie, are you detecting any ships nearby?"

Ian stared intently at the panel in front of him. Frustrated, he responded to the Captain. "No, sir. This storm is playing hell with our sensors. We could have a Bird of Prey nearby and the sensors would make it look like a bald eagle." Most of the readings consisted of static and ghosts created by the intense radiation and particulate matter outside. Checking all sectors around the ship, he could find nothing but dust, radiation, and echoes. Swiveling in his chair, he looked over to Lieutenant S'kar. "Ops, can I get a boost to tactical sensors? I'm blind over here." he asked, checking his screen again.

Everyone wanted more power like she could just conjure it out of thin air. "You want better sensor readings, you're going to have to wait a minute. Power's not unlimited, even on these more advanced reactors." She took a moment to look at which crew cabins were empty at the moment and cut the life support to those that were unoccupied. "Try it now."

Landon let out a frustrated sigh. He waited for Operations to give the lieutenant the extra boost to the tactical sensors. "I need more than Bord of Prey or bald eagle, Lieutenant. Were we able to get anything with the extra boost to our tactical sensors?"

Ian checked his sensor readouts as something popped onto his screens. From the looks of it, there was a shuttlecraft close to starboard that was rapidly losing power but emitting a distress signal. Attempting a lock, he stared it down, hoping that he could

"Captain, you'd better take a look at this. I have a contact, green" Ian said as he attempted to push as much gain from the sensors as we could.

======Aboard the the shuttle craft Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza======

Lieutenant Arturo M'Rohass was in trouble. It offended him to be in trouble, but that didn't change anything. Lieutenant Arturo M'Rohass was in trouble. One might even say deep trouble. His shuttle was damaged and he was stuck in the middle of a group of ion storms packed close together, almost like the Badlands. Engines were offline and he wasn't sure how long he could keep life support functioning. He might have to choose between keeping life support running, which would keep him alive a bit longer before he died of exposure, or keeping the comm channels open, which would allow him to continue to broadcast a distress signal.

"No!" Arturo said. "I will not lie down and die! I will not fall victim to the elements! Ion storms will not be the end of Arturo M'Rohass!"

Arturo turned life support down as low as he could without causing instantaneous death and used the power to boost his comm signal.

"To any vessel in the area!" he said. "It is I, Arturo M'Rohass! My shuttle is damaged and I am adrift in an ion storm! Immediate assistance is needed!"

Arturo set the message to broadcast over and over until he ran out of power. All he could do now was wait. He pulled out a copy of the Count of Monte Cristo and began to read. Imminent death was no excuse to be uncultured.

======Meanwhile, on the Beifong======

Back on the Bridge, Xuilan winced as a garbled signal shrieked through her earpiece. She could not refrain from uttering a very unlady-like 'fuck' as her fingers fumbled over her console to adjust the volume. "Sir, I lost the signal, there's a new one broadcasting over it," she said as attempted to clear up the signal. "This one is definitely Federation," she said right away, recognizing the frequency immediately.

Landon had been on the edge of his seat, waiting for something. When his Chief Communications Officer dropped the big ol F-Bomb and informed them all of the new, second signal now broadcasting on a Federation frequency, Landon damn well nearly jumped. "That's something!" he shouted. "Helm, lay in course to the source of that signal or as near as you can get us," ordered the man.

He gave a quick nod towards the tactical station. "Auxiliary and backup power to shields. We'll need to thicken our skin to survive this storm in one piece"

Ian nodded quickly, his fingers dancing across the console to increase power to shields and the SIF fields.

Chief Petty Officer Brexa at the science station quickly spun her chair around. Her squinty rat like Ferengi eyes were black and beady as they looked at Landon questioningly. Her lobes were twitching slightly. "I thought you wanted to avoid these damn storms. We're a small tactical escort, not a storm chaser nor science ship," she said bluntly.

The younger looking man smiled at her and calmly replied "In for a bar in for a brick," a Ferengi equivalent to in for a penny in for a pound. "We are no longer a tactical escort if we have nothing to escort. We are out here all on our own, cut off from the Federation and Starfleet until we reach Ophinias Colony. Until then, it is my call what missions we undertake and what difference we make out here, Chief," added Landon confidently. "Starfleet doesn't turn it's back on distress calls."

Sitting at the helmsmen seat was a young cadet. With lack of an experienced flight control officer aboard, Landon had placed cadets with piloting abilities at the helm. The cadet turned in his set to chime in and interrupt the small debate about ethics. "We're nearing the federation signal, Sir," reported the cadet.

Moving towards his command seat again, Landon hit the internal communications panel, opening a channel to the small Sickbay aboard the Defiant class starship. "Bridge to Sickbay, Doctor Evartin, stand by with medical teams. We are responding to a distress call and may have some injured." Having been so caught up in the situation, Landon had forgotten how serious the situation was when it came to the Medical Department. Crap, he thought to himself.

Down in the tiny excuse for a medbay, Nerys looked up from her small desk. "Acknowledged," was her only reply. Then she grabbed her medkit and headed out the door to... She paused. She had no medical teams and she didn't know where they'd be meeting injured. On this ship of so few, she was literally the entire medical department. "Computer, activate the EMH." after a brief shimmer and the usual 'greeting' from the hologram, she decided to figure that out from the computer on the way. "Keep sickbay occupied for me," she called to the EMH as the doors closed behind her, cutting off his surely searing rhetoric for energy being wasted.

Landon looked at his somewhat blind communications officer who had also been appointed by Landon himself as his First Officer. "Open a channel to them, Lieutenant," instructed Landon as he waited for confirmation.

"Yeah yeah, I'm working on it," Xiulan grumbled. Apparently, becoming CO immediately gave the Landon the right to assume she could work miracles with all the ionic interference, which she could, just not as quickly as he expected! Hell, she was still trying to untangle the message being broadcast. "Okay, I think we can cut through the interference... now," she said, but instead of opening the channel, she began to play the distress signal that she had only just managed to clear up.

"-shuttle is damaged and I am adrift in an ion storm! Immediate assistance is needed! To any vessel in the area! It is I, Arturo M'Rohass!"

"Wow, people actually talk like that?" she muttered before realizing her mistake, quickly shutting off the recording. "Oh, I mean 'my bad'? Channel open," she added as she opened the channel with the shuttle.

Apparently, the distress signal was coming from a Federation shuttlecraft. I was expecting a small ship at least... not a shuttle thought Landon as he cleared his throat. "Federation Shuttlecraft, this is the USS Beifong. We are here to assist you," said Landon as he waited to hear from the life form aboard the shuttle.

======Aboard the Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza======

Arturo nearly dropped his book when he heard the response to his distress call come in. He opened the channel and replied immediately.


"USS Beifong, it is I, Lieutenant Arturo M'Rohass!" Lieutenant M'Rohass' voice came over the bridge comm. "I am most happy to hear from you! I was beginning to think I was alone out here. It seems that I require rescue. Not to seem impatient, perish the thought, but I seem to have less than five minutes of breathable atmosphere left and I had to choose between suffocating and slowly freezing to death. I chose freezing to death, so the temperature in here is quite low. Perhaps we could continue our exchange of pleasantries aboard your ship?"

Who the hell is this guy? thought Landon shaking his head. He looked at his Chief Communications Officer. "He sounds like the cold is messing with his mind," commented Landon. "Lieutenant M'Rohass, lower your shields and standby for transport" instructed Landon.

"Acknowledged, Beifong," Arturo replied. "I look forward to meeting you in person."

Landon tapped the comm badge on his chest "Milo to Dr. Evartin, we had to transport one injured man to Sickbay. There are no other patients at this time," reported Lieutenant Commander Landon Milo. He partially wanted to apologize to her for asking her to have medical teams stand by as though they actually had medical teams. Instead, he added "I'm on my way down to Sickbay."

======Sick Bay======

Arturo materialized in the Beifong's Sick Bay. He set his bags with his various Italian Martial Arts weapons down. Then he removed his cape, neatly folded it, and set it on a chair. He removed his wide brim hat, which was folded up on one side and had an ostrich feather in it, and placed it on top of his now folded cape. He heard someone coming. Assuming it was the doctor and wanting to be cooperative, he hopped up on the bio bed and lay down, his head resting on his hands.

Thankfully, Nerys was still standing outside sickbay trying to figure out where she needed to meet injured. Turning around and walking back through the doors, she spied the Caitian now laying on the biobed. Setting the medkit aside, she picked up a tricorder and started scanning the patient. "EMH, please provide positive bedside manner. Lieutenant, you seem to have some mild carbon dioxide toxicity and a bit of hypothermia. Computer, raise the ambient temperature three degrees and the oxygen levels by two percent." With a complaint chirrup, the environmental systems complied.

The EMH looked far less happy, but after a scowl, he too complied cheerily. "Don't worry, Doctor Evartin is very accomplished in her field. I'm sure she'll have you back to full health with minimal pain and discomfort."

"Thank you, Doctor Evartin!" Arturo replied, trying to sit up. "And you as well, EMH! I feel warmer already! I've... oh dear... I am feeling a bit lightheaded. Perhaps I will just lay back here for a moment more."

Closing up her tricorder, Nerys headed to the replicator, pausing just a moment upon seeing the ostrich feathered hat before punching in an order. It certainly qualified for the old adage 'macaroni'. "I recommend avoiding strenuous activity for the next twenty four hours. As your hemoglobin levels are low as well, I'm going to prescribe you some red meat. The replicator here is the only one that produces reliable flesh flavored synthetic meat products, so I recommend taking your meals here." As she spoke, several thin strips of prime cut beef and raw bacon were replicated into a medical utility tray. Taking the tray over to their patient, she offered him the red meat.


Landon looked at Xiulan and gave her a quick nod. "You have the Bridge," he said to her quickly. "Take us away from the severity of the storms, but keep looking for ships and if you find that alien Morse code again, let me know immediately," he instructed as he headed off the Bridge. "And page Ensign Haro. Have him come to Sickbay. His previous medical training may be helpful."

"Yes sir," Xiulan replied with a nod, then tapped her communicator. "Ensign Haro, please report to Sickbay, your assistance is required." she said as she continued to search for the weak alien signal, tapping off her comm badge once the message to Haro was delivered.

"On my way... in just a moment... I... replicator... hang on..." Haro's voice came over the con, sounding broken and a little overwhelmed. "On... sorry... on my way."

======Sick Bay======

Landon walked into Sickbay to find that Evartin had pretty much taken care of things and covered the medical needs of the Caitian between herself and with assistance from the EMH. "Oh you activated that thing," said Landon, letting out a small sigh. I never thought I'd see you activated he thought as he looked at the EMH with a forcefully polite smile. "Thank you for your assistance. Computer, deactivate Emergency Medical Hologram," ordered Landon before approaching the Doctor and Caitian.

"I was not sure how bad of shape our friend was in. I came as soon as I could, was even ready to scrub up myself if necessary," commented the former Chief Medical Officer. Kind of wish I had been needed to he thought privately to himself. "I paged Ensign Haro down as well. Thought being a former nurse, he would have been helpful, but it looks like you and our EMH took care of everything nicely," added Landon.

"It was an expedient method of providing positive bedside manner. I've received several complaints about mine. if you need me, I'll be working on reports." Setting the tray of meats into the Caitian's lap, Nerys grabbed a PaDD and retreated to her small desk in the corner of the medbay.

Landon then looked at the Caitian. The man was nothing like any Caitian that Landon had met before. "Landon Milo," he said to the man as he extended his hand to shake hands with the small Caitian lieutenant. "Welcome aboard the USS Beifong, Lieutenant."

Ensign Haro looked decidedly disappointed when he arrived in sickbay and discovered he had missed most of the excitement. "I'm sorry it took me so long," he said in the way of an explanation for his tardiness. He smiled at the Caitian and nodded to the Captain and Evartin. "I see we have a new passenger." He clasped his hands together in front of himself and bowed a little in a friendly, non-threatening manner. "Welcome to the USS Beifong."

Landon looked at the ensign. "Don't feel bad, I missed the medical stuff too. I think right now, your diplomatic duties and position as ship's counselor will be of more usefulness."

Arturo was looking at the plate of raw meat and looked rather perplexed.

"Ah, yes," he said, distracted by the raw pseudo-flesh on his plate. "Arturo M'Rohass, Lieutenant, Starfleet. Pleased to meet both of you. Would you excuse me for just a moment or two? So sorry."

Arturo hopped down off of the bio bed and carried the plate of fake flesh over to the replicator, muttering something that sound like "Just because I'm a carnivore, that doesn't mean I'm a savage!"

When he arrived at the replicator, he placed the dish in the slot and ordered the computer to recycle it.

"Computer," he said. "A Romanian Strip Steak, medium rare, please. Thank you."

It never hurt to be polite.

The steak appeared and Arturo brought it over to the bio bed. He placed the tray on the bed and then rummaged around in one of his bags until he came out with a cloth rolled up and held together by a ring, and a fancy silver fork and knife. He placed these on the bio bed as well, then looked about. He found a stool and brought it over to the side of the bio bed and sat down on the stool. At which point everything but his ears disappeared from view. There the sound of a long suffering sigh, followed by the sound of the seat being raised up. Arturo reappeared inch by inch until most of his torso was visible. He sniffed at his steak and rubbed his hands together. He removed the ring from the cloth and shook it out. He tucked one corner of the square piece of material in the collar of his shirt. The cloth, which was obviously a napkin, was white and had embroidery on it. In the corners were Arturo's initials. He picked up his fork and knife and began eat his steak.

"So, gentlemen," he said as he ate. "I must once again thank you for rescuing me. I was on my way back to Deep Space Eleven from a cultural exchange with the people of Barathi II when I found myself set upon by pirates! It was, of course, my first instinct to fight to the bitter end. However, good sense took over and I slipped their grasp. Yet they pursued! I had taken fire but was able to slip into these ion storms, where I had hoped to effect repairs and then escape! But, alas, while I believe the shuttle is salvageable, it requires work that cannot be done from the inside. My engines dead, I awaited my fate whatever that might be! And then you arrived and rescued me!"

Arturo took a moment to wipe his face and lick his whiskers.

"So, Commander Landon," he said. "When may I meet the ship's captain? I wish to thank her or him personally for saving me from a terrible fate."

"Fascinating..." Nerys muttered as she pulled out a paper journal and a pencil and started scribbling something in it. "I believe I might be feeling annoyance..."

Landon ignored the Doctor and focused on making sure that the Caitian was comfortable. The man had an interesting story, one that made reasonable sense given the increase of pirate activity in several regions of the Gamma Quadrant. Being blessed with empathy and telepathy, the former Chief Medical Officer had matured and come to respect the privacy of others, but when the need arose, he used his abilities. In this case, Landon was using them to simply determine if the man was telling the truth or at the very least believed in the words he said. Arturo did believe what he was saying as Landon believed him to be truthful.

"Lieutenant, what starship were you assigned to?" asked Landon. He had wanted to get as much information he could from the man, just to have the Security Chief try to validate and confirm everything as well. "The Captain," said the half Betazoid a bit nervously "She was injured during an away mission and has been placed in stasis. There's more to our whole situation, but I am currently in command of this starship."

Landon looked at the ensign beside him. "This is Ensign Haro, our Ship's Counselor and Diplomatic Officer," said Landon, introducing the Bolian formally.

The Bolian ensign grinned broadly. "You can call me Nician if you like. We're glad that you are safely on board now. How did you manage to get so far away from your ship? You're very lucky we found you." He had to admit to himself that he had met quite a few strange characters in his time, but it was possible that this Caitian might just take the cake.

"I am very sorry to hear about your Captain, Commander, or rather Captain Landon," Arturo said. "I am the Chief Flight Control Officer on the USS Giosafat Barbaro. A month ago, we encountered the Barathi system. We made First Contact with the people living on Barathi II. A cultural exchange was set up and I was left behind with my equipment and a shuttle. When my time there ended, I took my shuttle and began my journey back to Deep Space Eleven to rendezvous with the Barbaro. The rest I have already told you."

Landon looked at the Caitian and placed a hand on the man's shoulder. "I'm afraid we are not heading in that direction, Lieutenant. We came from Deep Space Eleven to rendezvous with the USS Copernicus which was carrying our First Officer. However, we were attacked by the Copernicus and several pirate vessels. We could not stay and fight. They forced our hand and our last contact with Starfleet ended with my being appointed as Acting Captain with orders to proceed to Ophinias Colony, about six months away at our best speed."

Arturo looked thoughtful for a moment, then shrugged. From adversity sprang new adventures, and to Arturo, almost everything was an adventure.

"That is unfortunate," he replied. "However, I shall endeavor to persevere! I am a rolling stone! Wherever I lay my hat is my home! I don't suppose you have use for a now wandering Chief Flight Control Officer?"

Nician was still smiling in his cheery Bolian way. "Well, we most definitely have accommodations for you Chief. As to having a position, you will perhaps have to be a little patient with us. Our Acting Captain will need to make a decision. Although, I'm sure you do not wish to spend all of your time in the medical bay. Unless the Captain has more questions for you, I can show you to your quarters, or the lounge, or anything else you would like to see."

Arturo looked at Landon, who didn't seem sure what to do next. He nodded.

"Of course, Ensign," he said. "I place myself in your hands. Could I trouble you to assist me in carrying my belongings?"

Arturo pointed to his bags, which held an arsenal of swords, daggers, and even sticks.

"If you can take one, I can manage the other two," he said.

Landon looked at the Bolian and gave a small nod. "If you don't mind, Ensign. We don't have a designated quartermaster. Please, get Mister Arturo settled in. I need to discuss matters with Lieutenant Song" said Landon as he excused himself.

Heart To Heart Tea Lounge April 2388
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Ian strode into the tea lounge, occupied by a large Bolian man whom he hadn't met on his arrival. Tapping an old fashioned folder against his knee, he thought about the information contained within it. He needed to scout out his Assistant Chief, a Cadet First Class Jasmine Jones-Jemison. According to her profile, she had received stellar reviews from her professors and was set to graduate with distinction. There were some troubling notes about her people skills but Ian wasn't overly concerned about them. Walking over to the low counter, he looked over the menu on a stray PADD. Seeing no coffee on the menu, Ian had another idea- he exited the lounge and took the quick walk to his quarters. Opening his wall locker, he reached in and removed a small canister. Twisting the top, the canister opened with a slight hiss and released a puff of hazelnut scented air. Inside were freshly ground coffee beans inside of small filter packets that Ian had picked up before leaving the Academy. There was a small coffee shop just off of the Presidio that had a delightful dark hazelnut roast that Ian had enjoyed almost every morning like clockwork. Keeping some in a personal stash allowed him a small taste of home.

Slipping the packet into a compartment at the top of his Starfleet issue coffee mug, Ian walked into the corridor and back into the lounge. Taking a seat in the corner, he alternated between reading the file and watching the people in the room.

Mr. Brott was cleaning some glasses and cups by hand with a rag. The large Bolian liked to keep his place clean with some actual elbow grease into it rather than relying solely on the replicator. This worked out well considering the Beifong was under a ship wide order to monitor and limit power usage. The majority of the lounge's teas were homegrown and brewed aboard the Beifong. The cups and mugs were being cleaned by hand and no longer being recycled through the replicator's recycling feature. Of course the Medical Department had voiced their concerns about germs and bacteria due to the reusing, but after a few days of training and having the glasses tested by medical staff, they felt Brott was being thorough in limiting the spread of bacteria and germs around the ship.

The large Bolian had caught sight of Ian when the man initially approached the bar area. However, before the Bolian could get over to the man, Ian had left. Brott thought nothing of it to begin with. People were always in and out of the Tea Lounge whether they were grabbing a quick cup, a small bite, or had the misfortune of being called back to duty. Brott, however, had failed to see the man come back with the cup of coffee.

Several minutes passed without incident. However, when the scent of coffee began to overtake the scent of fresh tea, the large Bolian's eyes widened and his eyes were like that of a bird of prey seeking out a snack. In a corner seat he spotted the man. The coffee mug lead Brott to move closer and closer towards the man. Coffee thought brought as the scent grew stronger the closer he got to the man. There were things Brott loved with a passion like tea and Shakespeare. Then, there were things he hated such as coffee. "Thou art a tedious fool who dareth bring such vulgarity in here" said Brott shaking his head. "Is that poison thy upon thou breath?"

Ian slowly placed the cup down upon the table and looked up at the Bolian who was borderline apoplectic with rage at his bringing coffee into this hallowed hall. For him to become this angry, it must have been tantamount to murder. "Indeed, it is the sweet taste of ambrosia upon mine lips, good sir." Turning to face the man, Ian gave a half smile and decided to play along, drawing upon his Classics instruction from the Academy. "Dost thou have a concern with its sweet scent and the stimulation that it dost bring? Dost thou thumb thy nose at it?" Ian could smell the slightly intoxicating scent of hazelnut coming from the cup. "I implore thee, taste and be sated."

Brott scoffed "I have several problems with it. This is a TEA lounge, Lieutenant" replied the Bolian shaking his head. "I don't serve coffee here for a reason. Why drink coffee when there's tea?" he asked. "I have fresh leaves aboard and make the freshest teas in the galaxy that you'll find aboard a starship" added Brott.

"Coffee" said Brott bitterly. "What attracts so many of you to it? To betray the gift of tea for that....garbage. Bitter black or brown putrid drink" grunted the Bolian.

Ian chuckled slightly, ignoring the man's tirade against his coffee. Reluctantly, he pushed his mug aside and decided to give Brott a chance. "Well, sir. If you feel that strongly, then by all means, I'll try a sample of your tea."

"Ask and you shall receive, Lieutenant" replied Brott as he turned and headed back towards the bar for a few moments. When he returned, he had brought a tray with four small glasses with him. They were roughly the size and appearance of shot glasses, but a shot of liquor they did not hold. Brot sat the four glasses out on the man's table. "Four teas for you to try" he said confidently.

All in a row sat the four small glasses. The first was a bluish purple concoction to which Brott was quite proud of "Uttaberry and Plum tea" he said about the first one. "A fruity tea for a sophisticated palate, initially sweet to the lips, but a bit of a tart taste once it hits the tongues of most species" he said with a brief description.

Ian picked up the glass and tossed it back. Savoring the taste, he rather enjoyed the intense sweetness but felt his facial muscles contract and the blood rush to his face due to the intense tartness. Forcing himself to swallow, he gave Brott a reproachful look. "A bit tart? Are you crazy?" Ian asked, fighting the urge to reach for his coffee to cleanse his palate.

"Can't say I didn't warn you about the tartness" Brott chuckled at the man's response to the first of the four samples. "Try the second one" instructed Brott, gesturing towards the next glass in the row. The second glass was a deep amber color, almost similar to the appearance of an Earth cream soda. "A robust tea. Not overly strong, but not sweet nor tart like the first sample. This one is a Japanese Barley tea infused with sandalwood, a hardy and earthy flavor in my opinion."

Plucking the second glass from the tray, Ian took a small sniff. The tea gave off a faint aroma that reminded him of a desert. Taking a small sip, Ian felt like the stuff tasted like potting soil. Forcing himself to swallow again, Ian held up a hand in an attempt to stop this attempt at torture. "Sir, are you done attempting to poison me? Because these last two have shown me new definitions of pain." he said sarcastically.

Brott let out a deep bellyful chuckle. "Watching you sample these teas is quite entertaining. Nonsense, Lieutenant. I would not dare poison our Chief Tactical Officer" said the Bolian as he pushed a the third glass closer to the man. "Let's hope the third time is the charm" he said shaking his head and gathering his composure once more.

The third glass sat there casting a bit of a ectoplasm green glow. "That one is one of my more exotic concoctions. It's a tea from the planet Pacifica, very beloved and quite enjoyed by the Selkie species. They say it has medicinal properties for certain species, though I haven't found too many species that it benefits as much as it does aquatic species. Regardless, it is quite nutritional..." said the Bolian who left out that the tea was made from a type of seaweed found in the oceans of Pacifica.

Ian took the third glass and felt the urge to retch as he smelled something similar to fish food and freshly cut grass. His face draining of color as the nausea overtook him, Ian gingerly placed the glowing glass down on the table, declining to taste it. "Honestly, sir. I think I'm just going to stick to coffee. I need something to wash this taste out of my mouth. Ian licked the roof of his mouth, which rewarded him with the cloying and highly unpleasant taste of incense.

The large Bolian crossed his arms and shook his head. "There must be a tea that would suit you..." began the man.

Cadet Jemison had been watching from afar with a look of amusement on her young face. After watching the man try several teas and listening in on the entire conversation about tea and coffee, she decided it was time to step in. She sat the PaDD down on her table and finished her own tea quickly. She approached the Bolian and placed a hand on his shoulder "I think the Lieutenant here is all tead out, Brott. How about you go back to the bar and maybe sleep on it...maybe you'll think of a tea for him to try next time?" she offered.

Reluctantly, Brott walked away admitting temporary defeat. He was determined to rid his lounge and bar of all coffee and most non-tea beverages, but for the time being, he would have to allow the man to drink that garbage coffee. "I will find a tea" he said aloud as he retreated behind his bar and tended to several other customers.

The Cadet took a seat at the lieutenant's table and studied the glasses of tea. She took a quick look and further sniff at the one sample that had gone untested and quickly pushed it out of Lieutenant Mackenzie's way. "Trust me, that one isn't any better than the others. Actually, it might have been the worse one yet unless you enjoy Cardassian licorice" she said with a small smile.

Ian wrinkled his nose at the highly unpleasant. "You might be right-" Ian opened the file and looked it over again. "So you must Cadet First Class Jemison. I was reading your file and I'm actually quite impressed. Several of your instructors wrote quite highly of you in your Second Class year, all mentioned that you struck them as someone with the potential to be an excellent officer but with a conspicuous lack of interpersonal skills." Flipping the page, Ian continued. "I see here that you were a gymnast and a member of the Track and Field team, excelling in all aspects. There's even a recommendation here from the coach to appoint you as their team Captain." Closing the file and placing it gently on the table, Ian slid it over to Jasmine. "Here's my problem- your file makes you look golden aside from a few bad marks, which I could care less about. What I'm more concerned about is that from what I hear, you've been holding card games down in Engineering after hours and your performance at Tactical- when you decide to show up, is decidedly poor. Frankly, that's something that I can't allow. In case you haven't noticed, we're not near a Starbase and we've got enemies peeking out of every dark corner so I need you to square yourself the hell away and start setting an example of the officer that I know that you can be. Understood?" Ian asked, finishing his tirade. Staring intensely at Jasmine, he sipped his coffee slowly, savoring the hazelnut taste as it washed away the incense taste from his palate.

The Cadet let out a soft smile as she practically glowed radiantly. She always enjoyed attention, and especially enjoyed when it was the good sort of attention she got through praise or recognition. "Yeah, that's me and those all sound about right" she said blushing slightly. Then, things began to sound not so wonderful as she detected a slight change in the man's tone of voice as he began with 'Here's my problem-' something that never wanted to hear out of anyone's mouth when it came to her education or future with Starfleet.

Color from her cheeks and the warmth she had been feeling with the man sitting so close to her had all but vanished. He knows about the card games? He knows I'm not good at tactical she thought to herself. "I know we aren't close to a Starbase, Sir" she replied simply as she tried to inch away from the man, scooting in her seat. "But we all need a distraction every now and then. I am good at cards and it helps boost morale" she added defensively. "Maybe I made a mistake by holding games in Engineering. For that I am sorry" she said with a sigh. "And I was only late for tactical training a couple....maybe a few times" she said disappointed in herself. "I love Starfleet and I like Security, Sir. It's just...I'm not very good when it comes to the tactical side of things."

Ian smirked slightly. This cadet reminded Ian of himself when he was still a cadet- unsure of his place and still seeing himself as a small cog in a massive machine. Something he didn't have though was an extremely bubbly attitude. "According to the logs, it was six times. Six. How can I depend on you to cover my back in a tactical engagement if you can't show up on time? Tell me that." he said, his gaze unwavering. "I'll give you a pass on the card games because you're right- we all need a distraction. I'm more pissed off that you didn't invite me." Ian joked, a small smile crossing his lips. "To be dead honest, I'm only in my second year out of the Academy and this is my first shipboard assignment outside of my First Class Cruise- you might even have seen walking around campus or performing an inspection with the Commandant. I'm serious about this because what you do is a direct reflection on this department, the fleet, and me, so starting right now I'm going to do everything in my power to ensure that by the time we're done here you'll be the best damn Tactical Officer that I know how to make you, understood?" he said, waiting for her acknowledgement.

The Cadet stiffened and her tone albeit soft did harden a bit with professionalism in her response. "Yes, Sir. No more tardiness from me, Lieutenant. I promise" she replied with a nod. She was quite serious because she knew that her superior was dead serious about the matter. She was not going to get away with this stuff as an officer. She may have still been a cadet, but the situation that the Beifong was in...she was practically an officer already. Her graduation may as well have happened when the Copernicus opened fire on the Beifong.

"So starting tomorrow morning at 0500 and every single morning, you will report to the bridge in full duty uniform with a PADD ready to take notes and assist me where necessary. You'll also complete full platform certifications beside me and study the Fleet Tactical Manual nightly, you get me?" Ian asked her. His aim was simply to teach at this point, he was incredibly short staffed and he could use every member of the crew that he could get.

"0500, Sir" she said repeating him. "I'll be there. Not a second late" she added.

I want coffee, dammit! Lounge
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Xiulan Song had a headache; she suspected that the ionized radiation might be responsible. The Beifong was supposed to have some sort of radiation shielding, but she supposed it couldn't work 100% of the time, no system was perfect. And the ion storms had been pretty bad, the radiation shielding must have taken one hell of a beating, and what little got through must have been affecting the function of her ocular implants. Of course, the simple solution would have been to go down to Sickbay to confirm this assumption, but Xiulan preferred the idea of going down to the lounge and getting some coffee instead. Hell, caffeine, she hadn't had a decent cup of coffee in a couple of days, maybe a good dose of caffeine was all she needed. Yes, this sounded much better than radiation futzing with her eyes...

"Can I get a cup of coffee, extra strong with cream and sugar. Oh, and a lemon-berry cheese bar," Xiulan asked the lounge manager once she made it to the bar, then rapped her fingers on the bar top impatiently while she waited for her coffee.

Coffee thought the large Bolian as he felt himself wince at the woman's request. Ever since that damn security officer came in with coffee and Brott had been unable to swoon him with the light and delicate delight of some sinfully wonderful teas, these people...these fools had started coming in by the dozens ordering coffee, a 'beverage' that Brott had refused to serve and had specifically banned from being brought into his establishment. This had annoyed many of patrons, but where else were they going to go? If you wanted to eat, drink, and socialize...this was the only place aboard.

"FILTH!" he shouted back at the woman after she gave him her order. "Doth has requested in thy establishment such filth. Brown and blackened grounds of despair. Oh how wretched a scent, how foul the bitterness. FILTH!" he shouted again in protest. However, Brott was remembering how many complaints had been filed against him over his coffee ban and his behavior towards those who ordered coffee. Landon had been kind enough to just give Brott some warnings, slaps on the wrist, but Brott knew if he continued this rebellion against coffee, there was going to be a uprising and a coup in his kitchen.

He glared at the woman, not knowing the extent of his visibility to her. "Disgusting, overly sweet, and unhealthy" he said shaking his head as he grabbed a coffee mug and started to pour the woman her drink as one of his wait staff assisted by getting the lemon-berry cheese bar. "Enjoy your wretchedness" added Brott as he handed the coffee over and slid the plate across to her.

Xiulan stared passively in front of her, her expression hiding any irritation she might have had about this outburst. Silently, she slid the coffee and the plate back to him. "I am going to ask for my order once again and when you offer my order to me, you are going keep in mind that I am both the XO of this ship and a 5th level master of Hung Ga martial arts," Xiulan said coldly. "Now, may I please have a cup of coffee and a lemon-berry cheese bar?"

Brott looked at the woman and let out a bellyful laugh that echoed through the converted Mess Hall that served as his Tea Lounge. "You are feisty little girl. I can see why Landon picked you as First Officer" commented the large Bolian. "However, your rank and position are of no concern to me, and I don't think using your Hung Ga to attack a civilian lounge manager would be the wisest card in your hand. So, don't play it" added Brott.

Handing over the plate once again, the Bolian put on a big ol smile. "It was my pleasure serving you today. Please enjoy your deliciously burnt roasted seeds that have been grounded and smashed to bits and have had hot water poured over the residue with a filter in order to give you that delightful dark brown and black beverage that you have further perverted by adding sugar and increasingly weakening it by adding creamy pollution."

Xiulan had to visibly restrain herself from pounding this guy into the deck plating, but she only had a limited amount of time before she had to return to her station and she did not want to spend it in the brig. "As soon as we get to Ophinias colony, you are gone," Xiulan promised him as she grabbed her coffee and snack. "Just feel lucky I'm not shoving you out the airlock now!"

Shaking his head the Bolian laughed. "My dear, as soon as we get to Ophinias Colony, six or more months will have passed and you and I will be the bests of friends" said the large blue Bolian with a very rounded barrel like build or perhaps a build more like a pastry puff. "Besides, if I have to get off at Ophinias then so be it. I'll open up the biggest and best Tea Lounge in the entire Gamma Quadrant!"

Arturo walked into the lounge, following the sounds of yelling, dressed in his usual off-duty attire. An arguement! An arguement could lead to fisticuffs! Oh this ship was turning out to a great deal of fun! He walked in and saw a small Chinese woman arguing with a large Bolian.

"It would have to be the biggest, at least, my rotund friend," Arturo said. "Or you wouldn't fit inside! As for the best, well, that remains to be seen. Lieutenant Arturo M'Rohass at your service, sir. Please, prepare for me your finest cup of between snacks, of course."

Finally someone with class and taste thought Brott. "Welcome Lieutenant M'Rohass" replied the Bolian cheerfully as he turned to the young man working as part of his wait staff. "You heard the man, the best tea in the house" ordered the Bolian as he continued to mingle. "I run a very clean establishment here, Lieutenant. Don't go off in the corner to hack hairballs" joked the Bolian.

"I make no promises, my persnickity blue friend, but I shall try my level best to avoid licking myself while in your establishment," Arturo replied.

He turned to the Chinese woman and gave an appraisal. Actually, it was the second appraisal he'd given her. He'd noticed her when he entered, of course.

"Greetings, my lady," he said, doffing his hat and bowing with a flourish. "Lieutenant Arturo M'Rohass at your service! I can think of nothing in this moment that would please me more than if you would allow me to take my tea with you! Is this seat taken, or may I join you?"

Oh no, it was the crazy Caitian from from the shuttle. Wow, he really did talk like that all the time... "Sure, whatever," Xiulan said, somewhat perturbed that she was not allowed a bit of peace on her break, but she couldn't tell if the other seats in the lounge were taken and with minimal space for the crew to take their meals she didn't want to simply turn him down on principle. She took a sip of her coffee, wrinkling her nose at the bitter taste despite the cream and sugar in it; that fat Bolian bastard needed to learn how to make real coffee! "I'm Lieutenant Xiulan Song, I handle Comms and Linguistics, and with the loss of our Command Staff, I was made XO," she added to reciprocate his greeting.

Arturo noticed that Xiulan had not actually looked at him. She was sort of looking in his general direction. Then he noticed her eyes. They were clearly not real. They were ocular implants of some kind. But the way she didn't actually look at him suggested that they weren't working.

"I couldn't help but notice your eyes just now," he said. "They're ocular implants obviously. How much do they allow you to see? That is, if I may be so bold as to ask such a question."

Despite the implants and the slightly unnerving vague stare, Arturo thought Xiulan was quite attractive...on the outside. The rest he would have to discover for himself.

Well wasn't he the observant kitty! "Yeah, they're implants. They're, uh, supposed to let me see everything regular people see, but, um, an accident during the Academy damaged the visual center of my brain, so all I can process is infrared, basically heat signatures," Xiulan said awkwardly, not entirely comfortable that he'd asked that question in public. Not that it was all that personal, but she didn't like spouting off so openly how limited her vision was.

"I have made you uncomfortable," Arturo said, reading Xiulan's body language and facial expression, even with the artificial eyes. "Please, accept my apologies, Lieutenant. May I call you by your given name? It's a beautiful name, much like it's owner is a beautiful woman. What does it mean?"

"Um, graceful orchid," she replied, almost embarrassed to admit it. She wasn't a 'flowery' girl by any stretch of the imagination, so that her name was literally a flower was kind of weird to her. "And I'm alright. It's not that I don't like talking about my eyes, I just don't like being so... public about it. Just because I tell you about my eyes doesn't mean I want everyone else in the lounge to know about it."

Arturo put his index finger his lips for a moment.

"I will not tell a soul!" he said, emphatically...of course, Arturo said almost everything in an emphatic tone of voice. "I never betray a lady's trust once it has been given to my keeping."

Arturo's tea arrived. It was a green tea from the look of it. Arturo breathed in the aroma of his tea, then took a sip.

"Most excellent!" he said. "But it needs...ah yes! Honey!"

Arturo drizzled a bit of honey into his tea and took another sip.

"Ah..." he sighed. "Perfection!"

"You're a weird one," Xiulan said with a soft chuckle, then took a sip of her coffee, still disliking the overly bitter taste of this brew. "Just be careful, I hear Brott's 'best' tea is Targ Treasure Tea..."

Arturo's face took on an unpleasant expression and he set down his tea cup.

"You may just have ruined my appetite, Graceful Orchid," he said. He picked up his cup and sniffed it again, looking thoughtful. He pulled a small scanner of some sort out of his pocket, held it over the tea and activated it. There were several beeps, followed by a ding. Arturo looked at the read out.

"Well, there doesn't seem to be any fecal matter in my tea cup," he said. "Sorry, I forgot for a moment. I used a pocket scanner to determine if there was anything harmful about the tea. I spent several years out on the frontier with the Nyberite Alliance. I picked up this trusty little scanner to make sure I didn't eat anything dangerous at any of the rather nefarious ports we took leave in. It has never failed me."

Arturo reached over and used the device to scan Xiulan's coffee. Again there were several beeps, followed by an alarm signal, which Arturo quickly silenced.

"Apparently," he said. "It does not think much of that coffee Brott served you. Not to worry! I, Arturo M'Rohass, am at your side! I have been known to enjoy a good cup of coffee from time to time and even carry some with me from assignment to assignment. I happen to still have some left. I'll share it with you, if you'd like. Just don't tell our bifurcated blue friend over there, or else he'll not only serve me Targ's Treasure Tea, but he'll also brew it in a pot of his own urine."

"Thank you! I promise never do to you what I plan to do to Brott, just so long as I never have to drink this swill again..." Xiulan set her mug aside and instead focused on her snack, picking at the crumbly cheese bar and popping pieces of it into her mouth. At least the food was good!

Arturo chuckled.

"I can't promise never," he said. "My supply is finite. But I do have some Italian Roast and some French Roast coffee stashed away, and I have a French Press, so I can brew it strong and fresh for you. What about tomorrow morning? would you like to get together then?"

"Wow, that offer sounds dangerously suggestive," Xiulan teased with a snicker. "I'll come by when I can, though. I'm still getting used to this whole 'First Officer' deal that landed in my lap and I don't have much in the way of a reliable routine yet, so I kind of just do what I can when I can."

Arturo laughed. There was of course a way to ensure that he was present when she woke up the next morning, likely a very enjoyable way. He was just too much of a gentleman to suggest that this soon into his association with Xiulan. He wanted to know if she was as attractive inside as she was on the outside, and he was willing to take a little time to find out.

"How refreshingly forward of you!" he replied. "You are welcome anytime. I look forward to brewing you the perfect cup of coffee!"

"Well, I'm not exactly what some people would call 'reserved'; I'm not afraid to say what's on my mind, as you probably heard earlier with Brott," Xiulan said with a lopsided grin. "But I will make it a point to come by some time. And I'm just a few doors down from you if you feel like bugging me; I haven't moved to the XO's quarters yet, I'm still slumming it in the guest quarters."

A big jovial laugh came from behind them as Brott had been walking by with a tray full of tea cups."That is not the least bit surprising considering the slum you drink, milady" said Brott with a smile on his big blue face.

Xiulan would not dignify his comment with a response and merely gave him the finger as a way of expressing her displeasure with his presence.

Arturo smiled. Xiulan was currently flipping the bird to something somewhere over Brott's right shoulder. Arturo reached over and gently moved Xiulan's arm over to her right (Brott's left) so that she was now properly aimed at her target.

"That's better," he said. "You were mistakenly insulting a teapot on shelf to his right a bit. The pot looked terribly offended and seemed ready to threaten violence. I thought it best to intervene."

"Much appreciated," Xiulan replied with a snicker. Once she felt her message had been appropriately received, she withdrew her hand to continue eating her snack.

"As for you my voluminous blue tea fanatic! Antagonizing the ship's executive officer is both poor form and ungentlemanly! Be aware of your surroundings! You are a vast victualler trapped on a small ship, a fact which alone is already uncomfortable for one of your dimensions, offering tea to irritable coffee drinkers!"

Arturo paused, not entirely sure where he was going with this. "Hmm...I seem to have lost my train of thought! Quickly! Fetch me a large mug of ginko biloba tea! The wit of Arturo M'Rohass must never be dull!"

"I don't think you could ever be considered 'dull' in any way," Xiulan said with a grin and a shake of her head. She wondered if this larger than life persona had something to do with compensating for his short stature; after all, 'go big or go home'. At the very least, he was amusing!

Arturo grinned.

"A most appreciated compliment from a most excellent source!" he said. He drank the last of his tea down. "Now, if you will excuse me, I must go and train for a while. I may not be able to use the holosuite as a holosuite at the moment, but I can use it as a training room. I will take you up on your invitation, my lady. Feel free to take me up on mine."

Arturo stood and gently captured one of Xiulan's hands in his. Bowing, he gave it a kiss, trying but failing to prevent his whiskers from tickling her. Oh, well. Whisker-tickles might be considered a benefit of being kissed by a Caitian.

Did he just kiss her hand? EW, Kitty cooties! Xiulan wiped her hand off on her pant leg, then picked up her mug and plate to return to the bar; it was time for her to return to duty anyway...