Quiet Moment Under the Stars
Timeline: Pre-Launch 21 days, 06:14 hours local time
The day had been long, and the night promised to be longer. But in amongst the staff, senior and junior, whom she was meeting with today, there was one that stood out, and it was perhaps one of the more important of her meetings.
The new captain of the Victory debated where to hold the meeting... her Captain's Lab was nearly finished, as apparently Fiona had made it a priority to refurbish it. Not that she was complaining... if left to her own devices, Charybdis would scribble on the walls and floors until she ran out of space, or just appropriate one of the science labs on Deck Two.
Or there were her quarters, because she wanted some privacy for this meeting. While she was holding the majority of the meetings in the enlisted mess to let people publicly air their grievances with the command, this was private. This needed to be handled with sensitivity, and eavesdroppers would not... could not understand this particular situation.
Finally, the perfect answer occurred to her, and she made the arrangements.
The message came through at 2000 hours. "Lieutenant Commander Selune, please report to Shuttlecraft Luna in the shuttle bay for duty."
Selune was pulled from her reverie by the chirp of her communicator. Apparently someone finally had a use for her, ok, that was a little harsh, she thought to herself, it's not like you don't have things to do, you know. Yeah, yeah. I know, the ship won't get itself ready and those rosters won't fill themselves out... why did I take this job again? Probably because you didn't have anything better to do. Pulling herself away from the viewing port, she checked the message, raised an eyebrow slightly and shrugged, an odd request but not the strangest she'd had so far.
Sitting inside the shuttlecraft patiently, Charybdis continued to review reports... schematics... personnel files... technical manuals... Galactic history lessons. Five PDDs was a bit much to have open all at once, but she was working overtime on a curve and she had entirely too much to accomplish. besides, pressure helped her find clarity, and she was definitely under pressure. And this would all end when the hatch opened, so she would use the few moments available to her right now while the rest of the command had her on radio silence save for an emergency.
A little surprised, Selune arrived to find the shuttles internal lights already on. Apparently her would-be co-pilot was prompt, or she was late. She briefly considered knocking on the hatch, but decided that if she was supposed to be there they wouldn't mind the intrusion and simply opened it instead, blinking a few times as she found herself staring at what looked like a pile of PDD's attempting to pin Chary to the deck before she stepped in with a small bow, "I guess you wanted to see something?" she enquired cheerfully.
The charming captain began stacking the PDDs up in her lap, then set them all in a messenger bag she had slung over the backrest of the copilot seat.
"I did indeed. Would you mind terribly firing her up and taking us out, Lieutenant Commander?" Those sharply angled brows were relaxed for a change, almost to a somewhat even plane, which Chary tended to achieve only when worried or when she was being exceptionally cheerful.
Selune wiggled her fingers vaguely in the Chary's direction as she casually drifted towards the cockpit, "Of course, and Selune is fine when we're alone," she replied with a giggle as she collapsed into the pilot's seat with the practiced ease of someone who has spent far too long in that position, "Or any other time I suppose," she finished with a shrug before running a quick preflight check. "Anywhere in particular you want to go?"
A slight smile crossed the face of the captain. "Sol system... indulge yourself."
"I don't suppose you could be any less spe... actually never mind," Selune quipped, "On the bright side of things, apparently the shuttles are all good to go. They came preassembled and I guess the vultures never got around to picking them apart."
Figuring that Chary's vague destination meant pretty much anywhere, Selune didn't bother logging a flight path and simply powered up, sent through clearance and let the shuttle slowly drift from the ship. Going out backwards may have been unnecessary, but it did bring back memories.
"So... here we are. Alone at last," Char quipped with a smile, then slumped in her seat as her bangs sprang forward as if exertion alone was keeping them in place. She exhaled long and slowly, looking genuinely exhausted for a moment. Closing her eyes slowly, she spent the better part of ten seconds just breathing there with her eyes closed before they slowly opened again, and she sat up straight and smoothed her hair back self-consciously.
"You make it sound as though that's hard to manage," Selune eventually replied, fiddling with a few minor course corrections to occupy herself before swiveling her chair to face the woman who had requested her time. "You're radiating enough emotions to tell me you called me here for something, so come on, out with it. Lets get this over with so you can actually rest and relax," Selune murmured, quiet enough that a human wouldn't have heard it but still audible to the Vulcan, throwing out a small smile.
"A little, maybe. There are a thousand projects occurring simultaneously and everyone is looking to me for answers. And I am giving them, and I am handling it, but a moment's peace is a bit hard to come by. I couldn't even get a shower in earlier without a few crewmen wandering in lost from exploring the bulkheads trying to spot good and bad welds. So really, this IS me relaxing for a few moments." She eyed the Caitan critically for a moment, then sat back and folded her hands in her lap.
"Yes, I did call you here for a reason. Where are we going?" she asked, looking out of the front port of the shuttle.
"Just an oblique orbit really... nothing fancy, hopefully a good sunset if we're lucky..." Selune pondered the Captain for a few more seconds before impulsively pushing herself out of the chair and moving to her, letting her arms wrap around in a tight brief hug before shrugging half to herself and taking her seat again, looking out at the red planet below them. "You looked like you needed a hug," she murmured selfconsciously.
"I guess I did," the vivacious Vulcan admitted. "Selune, I called you out here because I am talking with all of the senior staff... all of the not so senior staff as well, and over the course of time I'll probably talk to just about everyone if I can. But they are all working hard, rising to the challenges... enjoying themselves, really. Even Fiona seems to have hit her stride, and losing twenty years of her life in an instant was hardest on her."
"But then there's you. You are always so private, and I understand why now, but... I'm..." she foundered, searching for a word that would convey her feelings of protective concern and responsibility for the young woman's welfare without it sounding condescending or overly dramatic. She sighed, then just spelled it out.
"Twenty years in an instant and we lost everything, Selune... our lives, our positions, friends... the galaxy around us changed instantly, and the only thing that didn't change was us. And the only thing we had left suddenly was one another, and a few more that somehow knew how to come along. I know that you aren't close to your family... I understand that."
"But it is a shock, and I know that it is your way to just... well, bottle yourself up and hide. but I care, so we're here... nobody here but us, no background..." she waved her hand absently, "whatever. And no noise except me and the shuttle, and your choice of nearby vistas. So talk to me Selune... as a friend. How are you?"
Then she held up a finger, "And no evasion. Don't make me use Vulcan mind klaplak on you..." she waggled her fingers and raised her eyebrows in mock menace.
Selune laughed a little at that, still looking out at the stars wistfully. "I guess, I haven't lost much. My career seems to have picked up about where it left off... family, friends, attachments... not so much has changed..." she smiled softly, "The stars are still there to be explored and, once we get it fixed, our ship should be fun to fly right?"
"I'm hoping a bit moreso, even... a few extra tricks, and we may just get even more speed out of her than should be possible, if my engineer isn't a raving lunatic. Correction," Char held up a hand, "if my engineer isn't an incompetent raving lunatic. But you still haven't answered me."
"I'll leave you be if that's what you really want, and I will accept what you think I want to hear. But I'm your friend, and I'm your fellow traveller, and now I'm your captain, Sel... and I care, or I wouldn't have asked for this little joyride. So if there is anything that you want to say to me...?" Those big violet eyes sought out the pale grey eyes of the feline femme, and sought truth in them.
The cresting sun held Selune for a few moments before she rolled her head to the side and looked back at Charybdis, holding her gaze, "Is this the bit where I confess my undying, eternal love for you, for those eyes that have held me since the first time I saw them?" she enquired with a small grin.
She headed off any reply Chary might have made with a softer smile, "Sorry, I couldn't help myself."
The emotional Vulcan sighed and crossed her arms under her chest. "Take us back to the Victory, Lieutenant Commander." It didn't take an empath to see that she was angry and hurt.
Selune sighed deeply, turning her eyes back to the view port in silence for a long silent spell, her eyes growing slowly more distant before she turned back to the hurt woman beside her, "I'm sorry Chary... sometimes being alone becomes more than just a circumstance. Sometimes it becomes a habit. I try to joke because I'm scared or unsure and I try to deflect and relieve the tension, to make someone laugh or smile... and maybe a little because I'm afraid to let someone close. It means a lot to me that you say that. It really does."
She took a deep breath as she continued, letting her eyes drift back to space framed silhouette of Mars, "Do you know what I left behind on the Bonaventure? A few shiny rocks - memories from my first assignment, some clothes and some jewellery - not a lot of it either, I never even took this off," she raised her arm slightly, the small dark stones still sitting in their silver web, before letting it drop again.
She sank into a quiet again, hunting for the words to explain herself before launching into a different angle, "Have you heard much about the arctic Caitians?"
An arched eyebrow was her reply. No words were spoken, and in the awkward silence, she continued.
"There has only been one major war on Cait, and it - for all intensive purposes - wiped out the arctic Caitians. To be born with pure white fur is... rare. Extremely rare. In its own way its considered a blessing. The whole war was a misunderstanding and a tragedy. In another way it's a curse, it makes one... different, noticeable I suppose. Something 'other' and that creates a sort of... gap or rift. On Earth Caitians are an oddity anyway so the same applied. I guess I'm getting away from myself, I don't get close to others often or easily..." she paused, losing her steam and sighing again, "I'm sorry Chary, I'll take us back."
"All that and you still never answered my question, Selune," Chary added with a sigh. "I'm a Vulcan who is not only emotional but expressively so. As soon as I show any sign of anything but stoic neutrality I am branded as something 'other', and I am judged to be damaged... flawed... inferior. And I could hide it... but that is denying the very core of me. It could be argued that I do not wear it on the outside, but I would disagree... I rather do. And the pointy ears and the eyebrows may not stand out quite as much, but yet I am still an oddity... and that is before we get around to 'itsy' and 'bitsy' here," she added, hefting her prodigious bosom in both hands.
"So yes, I am intimately aware of what you speak, Selune. Where are you going with this?" she asked gently, but firmly.
Shrugging she turned back to those violet eyes with a faint almost lost smile, "Honestly I'm not even sure anymore. I like you and Fi, and even Yuna when she's not trying to box my ears, and I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. I don't regret being here or how I got here and I like the people I came with. Do I have anything I want to say to you? Yes... I suppose I do."
"Thank you, thank you for being a friend, for being there, for caring and for even asking. And if there is anything is anything you ever want or need just ask. There aren't many who have expressed any kind of attachment to me and it means a lot, even if I don't feel like I fit in so well."
It was honest, it was earnest, and though it was like trying to pry open a Klenoxian crab claw, Char felt like she might have actually gotten through, and she smiled. "You are a very valued member of my crew, Selune... never, ever doubt that. I want you here, and I need you... no one can pilot my ship like you can, and I know that whatever the occasion, that you will rise to it."
"And you are my friend... I don't have many of those, and each one is more precious to me than you might imagine. You accept me without question, and you appreciate me without reservation... even if you try to hide away if I let you," at that she reached over and tousled the helmsman's mass of snow-white hair, inadvertently scrichting behind her ears in the process.
"I'm always here for you, and so is Fiona, and I'd wager Yuna too... even if we three hadn't survived that shuttle accident together, we've been through a lot together. And we care about you, because you are sweet and kind, and you are dear to me and to all of us. Never, ever doubt that... so maybe try to stop worrying so much about fitting in or being able to let someone get close. We're already close... and we still love you for who you are."
The difficulty of conversations with empaths was that whatever one was feeling, they would respond to it, despite what one said aloud. Thus human societal rules of feigned politeness and such were spectacularly unsuccessful with them. However, if the words simply expressed the sentiment, then it blended harmoniously and simply lent the message that much more weight... and in this case, the curvaceous captain spoke truly from her heart, as she always did. And the message was quite clear to the Caitan.
Selune resisted the urge to shrug off the moment with a joke or dismissive comment, replying instead with a faint smile and holding Chary's gaze and drinking in the flowing emotions that virtually poured from her, until Selune's self-consciousness finally caught up with her and she turned shyly back to the view port murmuring a soft, "Thank you," and staring into a space that wasn't part of the view.