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Tea and Sympathy

Posted on Tue Aug 23rd, 2022 @ 2:30pm by Master Warrant Officer Trenton Mayhew & Siany ZyMach
Edited on on Tue Aug 23rd, 2022 @ 2:34pm

Mission: S1E5: Symphony of Horror
Location: Overwatch Station
Timeline: MD 3

Mayhew stood at the edge of the bar for a good ten minutes, just staring. Who in the flaming nebula had approved a civilian establishment within a classified facility that did not exist on any official star chart? It had been some time since the amenity had opened and Mayhew had still never set foot there. An itch at his throat where his tracheal vocalizer sat drew his hand up for an idle scratch, but when he did so, the act triggered the memory of his throat being ripped out.

"Damn bar," he muttered aloud. His hand shot back to his hip where he forced it to rest, palm pressed against his thigh. Two off-duty corporals saw him and his surly disposition, which sated their thirst. They left the bar and their drinks where the glasses sat amidst a couple of mumbled sirs that were offered in passing without eye contact.

While he was known to be a capable master-at-arms with exacting standards, Mayhew was not sorry for having run off the two loitering Marines. Seriously. What was the point of this bar?

Siany sighed as she watched her only two customers scurry through the door. This job was so unbelievably boring! Why had she allowed her sister to talk her into this?

Her attention Ed turned to the only other soul remaining in her bar. “If you’re going to chase off my customers,” she said with a grin, “the least you could do is buy more drinks.”

"I don't drink." The canned tone of his vocalizer took much of the bite out of his inflection, but it was still there. "Not good for the implant."

“Wait… do you mean that liquid Is bad for the implant, or alcohol?” asked Siany, unsure. “Because if it’s just alcohol, I have soda. Or water.”

Mayhew didn't mean to frown at her, but his face had been stuck in that position ever since... "I suppose one drink won't hurt," he said through a cough. "Give me your best double malt on the rocks."

Siany was torn. On one hand, at least he had agreed to a drink, which made him a customer. But on the other hand, she didn’t want to be responsible for damaging someone else’s equipment. “Well,” she said finally. “If you’re sure.” She searched the shelf behind her very briefly and chose a bottle. “I would ask you what’s been happening around here, but everyone I ask tells me it’s too secret. To which I reply anything that isn’t top secret. You know, like gossip.” She rolled her eyes as she added ice cubes to a glass. “But apparently, there’s no gossip. I guess nobody does anything other than work. Unless you’ve got something juicy?” she asked hopefully as she set the glass in front of him and poured the dark liquid over the ice.

"Yeah, I heard something just crazy," Mayhew said as he pulled up a stool. "Word has it someone signed off on a drinking establishment inside a black site facility that doesn't officially exist. Hard to believe, isn't it?"

“That is weird!” agreed Siany, her grin widening. “I think I heard about that. Didn’t some queen or something pull some strings to get it done?”

Mayhew shook his head. "I have no idea. Since I don't have a commissioned rank, my clearance doesn't extend beyond the walls of this station. I'm just here to ensure operational security of the facility, which amounts to keeping the apes in line and pushing reports on to the commandant...whenever he is actually on duty." He sighed. "So what's this about a queen? Federation has no queen."

“No, but the Telino do,” replied Siany. “We’re not actually part of the Federation, but we have treaties. Both sides used a very loose interpretation of those treaties to get this bar up and running.”

"Loose," Mayhew scoffed. The last adjective any master-at-arms wanted to hear was "loose". He took a swig of the drink and immediately started hacking. "Shit! What is this?"

She held up the bottle. “Ardbeg 10,” she replied. “Too strong? I think I’ve got a Belvenie 12 around here, if you prefer.”

"I can handle it," Mayhew said. It was his first proper scotch since his life-saving operation and it was far from blended. "But I better keep it to the one." This time he took another sip which was far more gingerly than before. "So what does this Telvino Queen get out of having a bar on my station?"

“Obviously, she gets a spy,” she replied with a sparkling grin. “Seriously, though, I’m her sister. There are some Telino artifacts here on the station and she wanted someone here to keep an eye on them.”

Mayhew stared at her with an expression between dumbfounded disbelief and professional umbrage. "Your royal sister the Queen believes this facility's security apparatus was insufficient and thought a bartending spy would shore up our defense grid?" He stared down into his drink and shook his head. "Unbelievable."

Siany shrugged. “What can I say?” she replied, grin not faltering one bit. “We’re protective of our stuff. Besides, it’s not as if this place didn’t need a bar. I mean, even the stuffiest bureaucrat likes to unwind. So why not also Starfleet’s finest?”

"Fair enough." Mayhew did not agree, but his indifference swallowed up the disagreement that may have otherwise formulated. "So, which artifact is yours?"

“Sorry, that’s top secret,” replied Siany. “I mean, I don’t care if you know, and probably Starfleet doesn’t, either, but my sister would kill me if it became common knowledge. No idea why. She’s a bit odd.”

"Fair enough..." Mayhew murmured, though his tracheal vocalizer failed to mute the volume. "Not like this place doesn't get weirder by the year, but the past six months definitely take the cake."

“Take the…” replied Siany, puzzled. She shook her head. “Human idioms are so weird. Supposing that ‘take the cake’ means ‘wins,’ I take it they were out of the ordinary?”

Mayhew gruffly chuckled. "You could say that." Pointing to his tracheal vocalizer, he said, "Six months ago I didn't have this. A psychopath got loose and ripped my throat out with his teeth."

Siany gasped and looked adorably shocked. Anybody who appeared even a single percent less innocent than she did would have just looked like they were overacting, but on Siany’s young-looking face, it was perfect. “That’s awful!” she exclaimed.

"I had it lucky," Mayhew said. "A lot of my men didn't live. The sick bastard used telepathy and every other dirty trick in the book to cut down a couple dozen Marines. And then what does the brass do? They rehabilitate the son of a bitch. Now he's with them on their mission." Mayhew was so disgusted he could spit. He looked at his empty glass. "Give me another."

“That’s unbelievable!” sympathized Siany as she took the bottle down and refilled his glass. “I mean, in some cases rehabilitation is possible, but not in six months! Unless of course he was under someone else’s control. Or was being blackmailed. But that would have to be some serious dirt to blackmail someone into doing that. Do you think he’s got enough dirt for that?”

Mayhew just shook his head. Why was he telling all this to the ditzy bartender? "No," he grunted as he downed half the next glass in one gulp. It burned like fire. "Damn..." He breathed deeply in and out several times. "Gah." Shaking his head, he finally felt the burn start to dissipate. "Doc wasn't kidding about the implant not liking alcohol," he said. As he took another sip, he asked, "So what this blackmail talk from you tells me is you'd kill everyone on this station if someone had enough dirt?"

“Me?” said Siany. “Nah. Not really my style. Besides, the worst thing there is to know about me is that I used to draw purple mustaches on all the pictures in my school. I was pretty famous for it, actually, but nobody knew it was me. Except one girl, who only knew because I gave her my purple marker. I hope she carried on the tradition.” She grinned. “Other than that, I'm really sort of boring.”

"Uh huh," Mayhew said, his voice slurring slightly. "Bet you fuck like a jack rabbit though. Nerds always do." He blinked for a moment as he remembered himself. "I beg your pardon, ma'am." Pushing the half-full glass forward, he made to get up. "This was a bad idea."

The Telino are, almost as a rule, very open about sexuality and as such, Siany had heard far more graphic things in her life. So, instead of being offended, she simply grinned her sparkly and slightly mischievous grin. “It’s okay,” she assured him. “That’s far from the most vulgar thing anybody has ever said to me.”

Mayhew slammed his fist down. "But that's the point!" he shouted. "I'm not just anybody. I'm a Starfleet Marine! My beloved corps was the cream of the crop, cut from Starfleet Security to leave the process crimes and glad-handing to the fleeters so the real soldiers could do what we were born to do. And should we lay our lives down in the process, then so be it!" His eyes grew wide in zealous pride. "Because that's what heroes do! But is that what's happening here on this station?" Both fists pounded the bar again in answer to his own question. "NO! It most assuredly is not! These black sites have always been out of order in the name of OPSEC requirements, but now we're not even keeping up with that anymore." He waved a hand at Siany. "Look at you. No clearance. No training. No specialization. No allegiance to anyone but your royal family. And yet here you are, listening to drunken personnel spill their guts and whatever other classified material along with it. Shit, you even joked about being a spy!" Mayhew instinctively wanted to spit, but he restrained himself. "Why am I telling you any of this? Not your place."

Now it was Siany’s turn to be a little angry. “First of all,” she said sternly, “I have clearance, which is clearly stated in my personnel file. I had to sit through a month’s worth of the most ridiculous interviews imaginable and play nice to get here. Second of all, Telino royalty is not necessarily loyal to the crown. If I had to choose between the Federation and my own sister right now, I would choose the Federation. I took oaths to protect the Federation and her citizens and I intend to keep them. I made no such oaths to my sister and if she asked me to, I would probably abdicate at once, as would the rest of the family. That’s simply not done among our people. And suggesting that it might be is highly offensive. So I’ll thank you to never question my loyalty again; I had enough of that before I got here.”

"Let's get one thing straight," Mayhew said with gritted teeth. "If I want to interrogate you, then I'll do it all night long because that's my only reason for being here. However..." His scowl softened into a smirk. "From the sound of it, you're the only person who wants to be here as little as I do." He nodded at his half empty glass. "Why don't you pour one for yourself and we'll drink to misbegotten duty?"

Siany gave him a long look before slowly retrieving a bottle from the wall and pouring some into a glass. She then stepped out from behind the bar and seated herself on the stool next to him. “Let’s agree to tolerate each other,” she said, her tone far more gentle than it had been a moment ago. “To not hating one another,” she teased, eyes sparkling mischievously as she held up her glass.

"To tolerance," Mayhew said with glass raised. He clanked it hard enough against Siany’s glass that a few drops sloshed over the edge. "And not hating each other."

“Just don’t spill my drink and we’ll be okay,” joked Siany with a grin and a wink.

Mayhew just grunted and threw back his drink. Letting out another deep-throated groan, he said, "Yeah, I think that's it for me." He couldn't resist scratching at his throat where his tracheal implant was embedded. "Damn thing is itching like hell now."

“That’s alarming,” agreed Siany. “Maybe you should go see a doctor.”

Mayhew shook his head. "With all due respect, ma'am, Marines don't go to doctors unless we're dead or dying. All I need is a dermal patch and a new pair of socks." He pushed his empty glass toward her. "Thanks for the drinks..." Then, after a brief pause, he added, "and the company."

"Of course," she replied cheerfully. "Feel free to come back any time! I have plenty more of both!"


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