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Viva, Viva Las Risas! - Part 2

Posted on Sun Dec 18th, 2022 @ 4:24pm by Captain Akiva ben-Avram & Captain Mrazak & Lieutenant JG Ryland Dedeker & Lieutenant JG Jaya Maera Garlake & Ensign Nandi Chakma & Lieutenant Colonel Storr Garlake & Commander Arianna Frost & Lieutenant Commander BaoJun Qiao & Lieutenant Commander Finley Chu & Lieutenant Sophie Xiong & Ensign Khaiel D'hikatsi & Gunnery Sergeant Roderik Kos & Lieutenant Calderon Jarsdel & Lieutenant Commander Leonora Wolf MD & Lieutenant Teejay

Mission: Season 1 Interlude II (E5.5)
Location: Temtibi Lagoon, Risa
Timeline: ID 3

Although it took multiple rounds of people stepping onto the Phantom's transporter pad, everyone beamed down as a group onto the executive transport pad reserved for dignitaries. It was not yet dusk, though the sun was clearly in descent. Nightfall would only be a few hours away. Sounds of distant drums and flutes mixed with gentle waves that lapped against the shore of the peninsula which formed Tembiti Lagoon. Not one but several resorts sprung out from the flourishing tropical verdure. Once everyone appeared, a dark woman in a purple high-slit skirt and a heavily sequined crop top stepped forward with a smile. Her raven hair was pinned up in a braid that looped back down over her bare left shoulder.

"Hello, my friends, and welcome to Risa!" she greeted with enunciated cordiality. "I am Izsal Eran and I will be your personal concierge during your stay with us. Anything you need will be provided by myself or my attendant staff. I am pleased to say your villa has been made ready for your arrival."

The warm air mixed with salt spray, the smell of blossoming flowers, and the sensual perfume of women exuberant to be on leave effortlessly, the complex aroma wafting past the Afrikaaner's nose and piquing his...interest. He wasn't a beach bum but rapidly determined that he could be, at least for the time that they were on Risa. Looking down at Jaya, he smiled and took her hand, thankful for his higher vantage point and her selection of tops.

"Down, boy," Jaya said with a smirk. She stared straight forward and smirked, not having to look at Storr to know his sensual thoughts. "We have to make sure we get our pick of rooms before we get distracted."

"Always the woman of reason," he retorted with a smile.

Bao shivered as they materialized. Tropical weather always made him slightly uncomfortable, especially sand. It was unnatural to him, and he missed the cold of Lagash. He shook it off as he resisted the urge to laugh at Jaya as he instead leaned towards Rodi, "Do you want to grab separate rooms or share?" he asked quietly. "I'm fine either way, but perhaps we could game the system a bit."

"I was expecting us to share." Rodi stated after breathing in the fresh air. The salt tingled his nose in the way that reminded him of home. He let his eyes roam the perfect sand, the perfect trees in the distance. The perfect everything. "Doesn't hold a candle to Ireland," he muttered to himself.

Bao gave small internal smile at that. "Works for me. Let's just not tell the sociopathic captain."

Quietly observant, Cal stood on the periphery of the gathering and focused his attention on their greeter. Everyone else's emotions were like chords forming a wider song about her, the sunshine and warmth bringing a comforting feel to the start of this unexpected and luxurious vacation. He still couldn't quite believe this was real, so paying absolute attention to every detail brought the telepath into the zone, one comment, one gesture and one moment at a time. He was aware of Nandi in the mix, of Kos and Garlake in particular, but Cal kept his own counsel for now, quiet and separate.

"Everything alright, Cal?" Fin asked as she took position next to him, looking over the crowd. "It can be quite overwhelming, being sent on vacation like this. I know it is for me." She favoured him with a cheerful smile. "Last time I went to a place like this I was summarily dragged away to work with Theta."

He canted his head, raised an eyebrow and offered up a surprised smile. "Dragged away?" Cal asked, before he answered Fin's own question. "Literally or metaphorically?" There was a brief pause for deeper thought before he added. "Not been on a vacation for as long as I can remember," he admitted. "Not sure I remember how to."

"Literally. I just had a massage, and when I came back to my room there were two Starfleet Security officers there to escort me to Theta." Fin said with a hint of a dry chuckle. "I was hoping for some R&R before joining Big Fleet again. Instead I came to this outfit." She padded Cal on the back then. "There's not much to it. You do very little, and what you do is what you enjoy. And you eat good food."

Imagery of the imagined massage involuntarily wandered into Cal's mind, a smile following in pursuit as Fin chuckled. He raised an eyebrow as she patted him on the back, and laughed softly. "Big Fleet," he repeated. "Yeah, it's been a while for me too." Not going into details, but yeah. This was weird. A proper part of things again. Kinda. Training wheels and an escort, but reinstated rank came with all those responsibilities he'd wanted back for so long. "Sure it'll come back to us both," he noted with amusement, casting a eye about for Nandi. "Now I just gotta remember what I enjoy, huh?" He asked Fin. "What's the first thing you're gonna head for?"


Leah could not stop grinning. It had been ages since she was last to Risa, and her last stay here was not nearly as luxurious. With her hair let down and sporting a breezy green summer dress and sandals, a duffel bag over her shoulder, she felt like she could truly relax here. She needed it, they all did.

Arianna, on the other hand, had a practiced smile on but felt not nearly as much elation as her friend. She had a t-shirt on and long cotton pants. Frost did enjoy the feeling of the ground under her bare feet and the salty smell of the sea surrounding them, she had to admit this setup reminded her of Australian beaches a lot.

If big dumb grins could be supersized and measured, then Teejay was definitely aiming for a gold star in that regard. Hard, painful lows in life had come thick and fast for the scientist, so he knew when to step up and appreciate some good luck for a change. Like Leah, he had a duffel bag over his shoulder and, like her, he was dressed for the beach. A loud and wild colourful shirt and a pair of swimming shorts, his feet in flip-flops.

"If you all would come with me as you please." Izsal Eran gestured toward a small flotilla of gondolas near a boardwalk that stretched out over the surf directly into the peaceful ocean. "Your villa is built upon a natural atoll and boasts some of the most beautiful views Risa offers."

Why did it have to be a sunny planet? Perhaps, if they had gone to a cold place, maybe for skiing or something, it would have been easier for Sophie to keep her skin covered. As it was, she'd had to replicate new clothing that would cover her head to toe while being light enough for the warm weather. A large-brimmed floppy hat kept the sun off her face and neck and while she thought she looked stupid, she actually was very cute. "Beautiful views!" she muttered under her breath as she headed towards the stupid boats. "A beautiful view would be a library!"

The Lagashi did laugh again. He reached into his bag and grabbed a large bottle and a black silk parasol from his backpack. He prodded Sophie, "The parasol is for you. I'll share my SPF 100 with you. Sunlight isn't exactly common in the Pentad either."

"You fleeters should leave your ships and bases more often." Rodi grumbled good naturedly "This is as close to paradise as one can find outside of Earth."

Sophie glowered at Rodi as she accepted the parasol from Bao. “You are a lifesaver!” she said, opening it and basking in the shade. “I don’t need to spend the whole trip nursing a rash. Or worse!” She shuddered, remembering the time as a child when her skin had swelled so badly she couldn’t open her eyes.

"You are welcome, Xiong XiaoJie," he said, gently elbowing Rodi for his jibe.

As she was about to follow after the concierge and the others, Arianna's wrist-comm let off a small beep. She looked down at the received message, then over at the others.

"You lot go on, I'll catch up. I've got to get this." She'd said and walked away in the other direction without waiting for an answer.

Teejay looked from Arianna to Leah, frowned his concern, but said nothing outright, his mood marred slightly by the interruption and the potential for implications arising from it. Frost was not yet forgiven and the contact took him briefly out of good mood. He didn't relinquish his bag either when the staff looked to assist.

Shirtless valets lugged everyone's bags and totes onto grav sleds which were then taken down the boardwalk toward the villa. The gondolas slid through the gentle waters of the lagoon toward the furthest villa. If not for the natural rocky outcropping, the entire villa would have been an island to itself. Even so, there were several stone and wooden pillars that allowed put a veranda around the entire structure. Four huts anchored each corner of the atoll and connected to each other by way of thatched awnings which still let in traces of natural light. A large stone fire pit with a recessed replicator sat in the center of the villa adjacent to several in-ground jetted pools and a surplus of wicker furniture and oversized lounge cushions.

"Oh this is much better than where I was at last time!" Leah said with a grin as they approached the atoll.

"You went cheap and cheerful?" teased Teejay, knowing full well that neither of them were likely to get this royalty treatment again any time soon.

Wolf laughed, "it was a FHO conference, we were at a different place...don't get me wrong, Doctors can party...but our sense of aesthetics can be...lacking."

"FHO?" Teejay frowned lightly and worked through all the options those letters brought to mind. It didn't matter really, but he was intrigued. "Lacking huh? Well, I'll see what I can do to improve yours then," he added with an impish grin.

Wolf grinned, "you're on science guy! Also FHO, it's short for Federation Health Organization. Kind of like the World Health Organization back on old Earth or Doctors Without Borders."

He chuckled at 'science guy' and then slapped his own forehead lightly with his palm at the answer to his basic question. "Ah, yeah. Course. Too many acronyms rolling round in here," he added with a smile. What he needed was a hard emotional reset, and this looked like just the place to process recent events deeply enough to put them in perspective and move forward with a hard focus. Human and Vulcan mushed together and rustled up a childlike smile as he reached his arms out and wrapped them about Leah, lifting her easily up off the ground just enough to envelop her in a warm, unapologetic hug. "I'm up for forgetting about 'borders'," he said, quietly, close to her ear.

Leah squealed as he lifted her up and wrapped her arms around him, "me too..." she replied with a smirk.

Nuzzling her neck and ear as he spun them both gently around in a sweeping circle, Teejay took a moment to internally realise that he had a bunch of emotional walls that needed taking down more slowly sometime later, and then turned the key in that particular lock. He would pay that particular price. Not now. Later.

"To be continued," he told Leah, voice tickling her eardrums with a soft depth designed to percolate pleasantly within.

"The atoll has a hollow center once used by smugglers," said Izsal the Concierge loudly enough to be heard by all passengers of each gondola. "A small, dedicated power core rests there now beneath the decorative fire pit, so we do ask that all guests refrain from accessing the lower space. However, the rest of Villa 17 is reserved for your exclusive use. Only yourselves will be permitted to enter once the villa is claimed due to biometric-guided forcefields that fall and rise at your approach, but other guests will be permitted if escorted by a registered guest."

The gondolas separated from their formation and made to surround the villa on all sides, offboarding all passengers on the wraparound veranda.

"You know we have to go look at the fire pit now, right," Teejay nudged Leah, his voice low and close to her ear.

"Helheim, yeah." Leah nodded, "marshmallows or sausages?"

"Why not both?" replied the forensic scientist. "Since we're breaking the rules." This was fun, he considered privately, dark eyes catching the pure sense amusement and happiness gleaned by finding a fellow individual who shared humour and all the right kind of cuddles.

"You know what we also need?" Leah nudged Teejay with an elbow, "cheese..." the last word was whispered conspiratorially.

A quirked eyebrow expression found its way onto 'science guy's' face and he visually weighed the mention of the aforementioned food group. "I could go for some cheese," he confirmed then. "The super stringy kind though. Wrapped about the sausages, but not the marshmallows," Teejay added, deep in culinary thought. "They need to be naked," he whispered, close to Leah's ear.

Leah let the shudder she felt, as his breath caressed her ear, she let it show, "mmmhmmm. " She purred back, looking around to the others before focusing on Teejay, "I could think of other things that could do with the same."

"We could think about them together?" Teejay's question was more suggestion than query, the rich purr of his voice happily teasing as he wrapped both arms about Leah's waist and cuddled her from behind. Chin rested upon her shoulder, he sighed, gentle and happy, choosing to live in the moment for as long as the universe allowed.

"Let's go!" Jaya squealed as she tugged at Storr's wrist. "I want an east-facing room to wake up with the sun!"

Storr shrugged in quasi-surrender, following after Jaya for several steps before taking her in his arms, the pair giggling as he did so. "I think this one looks good enough," he said, shouldering his way into the farthest villa, their peals of laughter suddenly muffled by the closing door.

Sophie didn't care where she was, as long as it was out of the sun. She simply hurried wordlessly to the nearest door and slammed it behind her.

Right on her heels, Ryland claimed the room adjacent to her in the same hut.

"Whoop, whoop!" shouted Reggie as he ran through open doors to claim a free bed.

Akiva and Laena went into the same hut as Storr and Jaya, seeing how they all went back several years. When they entered, however, Akiva paused to have a private word with Laena.

"I am grateful we have this time together," Akiva said in a low tone, "but I think we should continue having separate rooms." He held back a flinch as he spoke.

The smile on Laena's face faltered for a moment, before she willed herself to keep a pleasant façade. She didn't want the others to see her emotions. She just nodded before she stepped to a different doorway.

"We... we can have dinner... or breakfast... or..." Akiva trailed off, not knowing if anyone heard.

Laena stopped for a moment, her hand on the door handle, though she didn't turn to face him. "We'll see," she said, trying to reinforce the smile. "We can speak tomorrow and maybe make plans then."

"I'd like that." Akiva returned a strained smile that didn't quite project the hope he had wanted it to pose.

Unsure of where to go, Nandi stood still in the common area and just took in the bustle set to the backdrop of a beautiful horizon.

"Nandi!" Leah hissed loudly at the young woman as she tugged Teejay towards the hut that was furthest away from the Captain's hut. "Grab a hut before they go!"

"Oh... right..." Nandi turned reticent as she subtly searched out Cal to see which hut he would choose.

Teejay didn't fight it, but happily allowed himself to be nudged, pulled and gently coerced after Wolf. Hell yes, he would be looking to enjoy some serious sunshine and beach time with this wonderfully smart blond minx. Who knows what might happen if they actually managed to have two whole weeks to themselves, he considered, entertaining enough options to make his dark eyes gleam.

Cal was sizing up the remaining unallocated people versus hut space, and coming to the conclusion that he and Nandi - should she wish to share with him - would be bunking in the same lodging as Khaiel and Finley. Neither of them were well-known to him, but read as decent enough, quiet-like folks. "I think this one looks good," Cal said, with a wry smile since it was the last one left, and he strode purposefully towards it.

Watching the elusive, mysterious Cal stride confidently toward the hut, Nandi recognized the subtle invitation from him. It certainly did look good. Normally she would never allow flirting to advance so quickly, but the horrors of the past weeks were distorting her worldview and challenging her in ways she had never anticipated. If she ended up a Borg drone butler tomorrow, what would she regret not doing today? She followed Cal inside the hut knowing precisely which regrets she did not want to risk facing.

Bao gently tugged at Rodi to follow after Commander Wolf and Teejay. He whispered, "I think they'll be the least drama. Let's claim the rest of their hut?"

"Lead the way." Rodi nodded in agreement, hoisting his duffel back up and following the other couple into the hut.

"No, kolinahr is not logical," Mrazak argued back. "Emotions can't be removed, only ignored. But even if they could be removed, what benefit would that be? Would cutting off your genitals improve your overall cognition or would your cognition be dominated by the knowledge of being a eunuch?"

"Sir, I'm a gondola operator." The exasperated ferryman rolled his eyes and looked around for help. "It is as you say."

"If it's as I say, then explain your earlier surprise that I am Vulcan." Mrazak's glowering stare smoldered with triumph.

"Begging your pardon, kind sir, but it appears the rooms are filling up fast," Izsal interjected. "You may want to claim one quickly."

Mrazak gasped and made a quick assessment as Izsal shooed the gondola away before Mrazak could continue his polemic. By his count, there were only two huts left. One had that accursed ben-Avram and Colonel Garlic. That would never do.

"That one is mine!" Mrazak shouted as he pointed at the hut with Sophie, Ryland, and Reggie.

"Go claim it," Izsal encouraged. "The household scanners will key it to your biometrics."

Eyes narrowed, Mrazak grinned in savage delight at the small but harrowing victory. "Excellent." He trotted toward his claim before anyone else could steal it.

Arianna had to take the boardwalk back, as all the gondolas were away by the time she made her way back. She'd felt a sense of accomplishment as she walked down the boardwalk.

She saw Iszal and the other gondola's nearing her position. "Sorry I'm late!" She called to Iszal, "which one's got room left?"

After referencing her PADD, Izsal looked back with Arianna with a smile. "It looks as though that hut is the only one with an unclaimed room," she said with a point of her finger.

"Thank you!" Okay, the very far one on the left. "Who's in there, do you know?" She asked Izsal.

"My apologies, but the nature of the group reservation is such that I am not permitted to disclose the names of guests or the location of their accommodations outside of a declared state of emergency," Izsal replied, then added with a smile, "though I do hope the arrangements are to your liking."

Arianna nodded, "I'm sure it's fine. Thank you for arranging this for us, Izsal!" With that said Arianna continued towards the huts.

"All that we have is yours," Izsal intoned with a wide, congenial smile.

The gentle breeze that danced over her skin and the salty are were starting to make Ari relax. Perhaps this wouldn't be so bad, she thought as she observed the atoll in front of her. Everything, every single, minute detail was tailored towards relaxation and contentment almost with mathematical precision.

Who was she kidding there was definitely math involved.

It took her a few more minutes to reach the atoll and the huts. When she did, she headed for the designated hut immediately to stow her belongings. There was a console just at the doorway which had room assignments once her genetic imprint was added to the pile.

Frost read the assignment to find out which room was hers.

"Oh no..."

Akiva ben-Avram - room 1, Laena ben-Avram - room 2, AVAILABLE - room 3, Storr and Jaya Garlake - room 4.


If utter abject hell had a name, it would be Hut 1.

"Of course, this would be my fucking luck!" Arianna groused as she took a deep breath to calm down before she entered the hut and headed straight for the available room.

It was a wandering gaze that first caught a glimpse of Ari's statuesque form walking toward the hut. Truth be told, he didn't recognize who it was at first, just the sway of the hips and tense shoulders that triggered the chauvinist inclination to take note of a damsel in distress. At least, that was how Akiva chose to rationalize his observation to himself. The truth may have been a smidge more carnal than that. But then recognition took hold of him.

"HaShem ya'azreni," Akiva whispered to himself. Had Laena seen? How deep was the mire around his feet?

From the doorway, young Khaiel D'hikatsi cleared his throat. He tried his best to hide the fact that he had just seen the Captain checking out Commander Frost. "Excuse me, Captain," he said, his voice soft. "I'm sorry to bother but I was wondering if I could talk to you?"

"Of course, Khaiel..." Akiva answered. Anything to escape this moment. "How can I help?"

"" Khaiel scratched the back of his head. "Captain Mrazak asked me to install a new AI onto the Phantom. I told him I was very uncomfortable with the request as the AI installed was one of my own design and I didn't feel it was appropriate to sort-of...force me into giving my property to Memory Theta. Especially when you guys have a plethora of AI at your disposal. I did as he asked, but I just wanted to bring it to your attention..."

Akiva sighed. Even now, in the middle of paradise, Mrazak somehow managed to be a fly in his ointment. "That's not at all surprising," Akiva said. "Would you believe he did the same with my dau..." He stopped himself at first. Having realized there was no alternative way to end the sentence, he let the word fall out of his mouth. "... my daughter. I fashioned an android frame for a virtual intelligence that I watched develop into a true Artificial General Intelligence. My project was in direct violation of interstellar laws, you know, after the synth attack on Mars, but my duty station was in the Gamma Quadrant frontier and the project was just sort of grandfathered in." Pausing for a moment, Akiva reflected this was the most he had talked about Biynah in a long time. "The Information Crisis on Bynaus earlier this year? You may have heard about it. Mrazak blamed her for it at first. He claimed her as an artifact. There was nothing I could do." As he placed an awkward hand on Khaiel's shoulder, he hoped some of this was getting through to Khaiel. "I'm sorry for what Mrazak did, but there is little recourse to be had. The law in the letter is on his side."

Khaiel felt defeated as Akiva made his confession. "I understand," he said, his shoulders slumping slightly. "Thank you, Captain."

"This AI meant more to you than just a project," Akiva observed. "I truly am sorry, Khaiel. If you leave Memory Theta and I am still in the position to do so, I will do everything I can to see that you have the source code in hand."

"I appreciate that, Captain," Khaiel said, feeling slightly better. "The matrix that's running this AI was developed and patented by me. It's uncomfortable to have that in someone's hands. I'd prefer the technology not be studied or replicated by anyone."

Straight for her room was a good plan, a cunning plan even, but everything that can go wrong, will go wrong - according to the laws of Murphy. So everything kept going wrong, Arianna realized as she noticed the Captain and the Ensign close to the door of the common area.

"Captain, Ensign..." If she were a lesser person she would have just kept walking, but alas she was not, therefore she greeted them, though her posture remained that of 'I'm just passing by'.

"Ari-Cocommander-Frfrost," Akiva awkwardly stammered, then turned around and facepalmed himself.

Arianna blinked, "got a bit of scratchy throat there, Captain? Should get Leah to have a look, hm? Anyway, I'm heading to my room. Have a good evening, gentlemen." Without waiting for a reply, she turned on her heel and went into her room.

In the one room there was Storr and Jaya conjuring the magic that made the babies she now carried. In another room was Laena, the mother of his deceased child and current romantic interest. In the third room was Ari, an esteemed colleague and friend with the possibility for more. The hormones ranging in this hut were going to be categorically disastrous. It was enough to make Akiva forget his conversation with Khaiel and pretty much everything else.

Khaiel looked at the man, raising an eyebrow. "Are you alright, Captain?"

No. Negative. Not at all. "I'll be fine," Akiva said flatly. "We should go make our bunks."

Standing at the entrance to the villa, Izsal beamed ear to ear as the new guests made themselves at home. There was a certain satisfaction in a job well done, and on Risa the greatest service was making people feel welcome, for Risa offered all there was to be given. And for this interesting group of people to be staying at such a stately and private arrangement, the requirement for perfect execution was paramount. Nothing had gone wrong. If Izsal had her way, nothing would.

"Welcome to Risa," she said to the open air. "All that we have is yours."

Famous last words.


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