It took a couple of seconds for his eyes to adjust. Meandering into the Downtime bar, Elegy Weld was thankful not to experience decompression sickness as he passed through the threshold from the promenade. The way the teal lighting reflected off the brushed-duranium furnishings evoked a sense-memory in Elegy. The way the light struck his eyes, he felt like he was stepping aboard a pre-warp starship or a submarine in a museum. Sidling up to the bar, Elegy ordered a paper plane and he took note of an empty table in the corner that he mentally claimed for himself. His brain was full of static from his day’s patients and this underwater lighting was everything he needed to make the static float away.
The drink that was handed to Elegy was not the right colour to be a paper plane, nor was it served in a coupe. He took a sip and he assumed it to be a whiskey sour. Supposing that would still do the trick, Elegy moved to claim his empty table, but more officers had come in while he was waiting at the bar. His empty table had become full. Looking around, Elegy spotted another four-top that had a couple of empty seats. Sliding himself into one of the seats, Elegy said, “I hope you don’t mind? I promise I’m a good time.”
Nilah looked up from talking to Hannah to see the newcomer sit down, smiling “we don’t mind, or at least I don’t mind.” Nilah said with a smile, she was tired after working an eighteen-hour day modifying ships that came in, before heading into the Paulson Nebula. “I am Nilah Virahl the resident shipyard engineer,” she replied, and before Hannah could even answer, “this is Hannah Murphy one of our medical residents on the station,” Nilah said as she took a drink, was nothing special just a good-tasting wine.
“I’m Elegy Weld,” he replied, flattening a palm over his chest to introduce himself. He nodded to each of them in turn. “A pleasure to meet you both. Largely, because I don’t know anybody yet,” Elegy said, a little insecurely. “I’ve just been assigned to Bravo to serve my psychiatric residency. I got here just in time for the influx of broken hearts and nightmares of the Century Storm.”
Hannah didn’t disagree with Nilah’s invitation for Elegy to join the two of them but shot her a brief look of bemusement before returning her attention to their guest, “I couldn’t agree more Doctor. I’m sure we’ll both have our fair share of bumps and bruises to mend as this crisis unfolds, both physically and mentally. I treated a patient today with a broken clavicle. A young child that came in on a transport. No doubt took a tumble escaping the storm.”
Reaching for the tumbler in front of her, she pressed the rim to her lips in a vain attempt to consume the beverage she’d ordered, not realizing that the glass was nearly empty save for the half-melted ball of ice and the diluted synthehol at its base. She scanned the room hoping to find a server, only to find no insight through the room’s present occupancy. Instead, she managed to catch the eye of the bartender, signaling with the universal hand gesture to indicate another round of drinks was in order.
“So Doctor, was this assignment voluntary, or is this where they sent you after the academy?” she asked, swirling around the ice in her glass as she waited for the drinks to arrive.
Figuring he better catch up, Elegy took a long, urgent pull from his glass. After taking a breath, Elegy answered, “Involuntary assignment. Bravo, here, is my first posting out of medical school.” He winced and narrowed his eyes, thinking about how surreal it all ways. He admitted, “After the last four years at the medical academy, I think a part of me forgot there was going to be anything else after graduation.”
“I just got lucky to be assigned hereafter the academy, I’d thought I would be on a starship, to begin with.” Nilah replied with a grin, “it’s been a neat experience to work in the shipyards.” She replied looking at both of them before taking a drink of the glass that was just refilled. “Though things have been crazy since the start of the Century Storm,” she added.
A Betazoid female approached the table, tray in hand with the requested beverages. She placed each one in front of their intended recipient and cleared away the empty glasses. Without intending to intrude too much on the conversation of the three patrons, she briefly offered her services should they be required and then excused herself from the table.
“I… suppose we’re learning more than we would have aboard a starship,” Elegy said. Nilah’s enthusiasm was contagious and he took a moment to mentally reframe all the things he wanted to complain about. He supposed he could be grateful for them instead. He downed the last of his first drink and he accepted his second greedily. “I don’t imagine I would have seen so many civilian patients, if not for the Century Storm. I’ve been asked to support an anthropological study too.” In that vein of gratitude, Elegy asked, “What’s the most exciting starship you’ve had an opportunity to put your hands on since this began?”
“Well there have been quite a few, they all been exciting.” Nilah replied looking at him, “I did get to assist with bringing supplies onboard the USS Saratoga an Odyssey-class starship which is huge.” She commented with a smile, though she didn’t get to see the whole ship from what she saw it looked fabulous.
“I’ve never even seen an Odyssey up close. I grew up bouncing from starship to starship, but my parents were never assigned to anything like that. I’ll bet the ion storms barely scratch the hull,” Elegy said with no small amazement. He shook his head and his expression fell into something much more like dismay. Elegy remarked, “I still can’t believe the ion storms are still coming. Could this be permanent? Could this be what the Paulson Nebula is like now?”
“I don’t think it would be permanent, my thinking is that it’s called a century storm as it’s something that happens every one hundred years, so I am that things will end eventually,” Nilah said with a shrug, she was no scientist so she was unsure of that kind of thing. “That’s just my guess, I am not a scientist.” She added looking at Hannah, “what do you think?” She asked her new friend and roommate if she had any idea.
Hannah’s attention had drifted slightly as her companions continued with their back and forth conversation. She suddenly snapped to attention, realizing that the question from her roommate had been posed to her. She didn’t want to lead on that she was concerned more than usual with the situation at hand, but it was something at the forefront of her mind. She had not seen anything like it before. She’d read through texts at the academy that storms of this magnitude occurred in the past, and with any luck would be over soon, but what little sense of security she had remaining was quickly fading with each progressing hour, each progressing day.
She picked up the glass that had been set before her and gazed into its bottom, “I don’t know…I hope not.” she replied, before downing a mouthful.
A tone-deaf announcement came in over the station’s public address system, “Ensign Hannah Murphy. Medical emergency. Please report to sector Hotel-Turquoise.”
Looking up toward in direction of the announcement as if she could see the person making it she paused, setting her glass back down in the condensed ring of water on the table where it had been previously sitting. “That’s me. I will have to catch the two of you around later,” she said, politely excusing herself, grabbing her lab coat from the back of her seat, leaving the two to carry on the conversation without her.
Raising his hand to wave goodbye, Elegy remarked, “I’m glad to have met you, Hannah. I expect I’ll see you around the hospital.” Elegy took another swig of his drink, idly wondering how soon he might receive a similar call about a psych consult. His eyes widening in an expression of exasperation with everything that had been happening, Elegy said to Nilah, “I guess this is our lives now, huh?”
Taking a drink she smiled still trying to be optimistic in everything, “for now but this to shall pass.” Nilah said with a smile before looking at the time, “oh it’s getting late I need to turn in as I signed up for a double shift tomorrow.” Nilah said as she stood up after finishing her glass, “we should get together again soon?” She asked looking at him for a moment.
“Count me in,” Elegy said in agreement. He raised the remains of his drink to her. “I’ll be around. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”