The hour was late per standard time, but having just come up to the station a day ago Katlyn’s internal clock was still running on the Academy’s own daylight driven time. That meant the two locales had a slight sync issue at the moment and as far as she was concerned the day still had plenty of viable hours left. She’d had enough of study and project work and opted to let her brain relax, to let her body work for a while.
She’d heard rumours of the archery range at the gym, only a handful of lanes, but still better than a holodeck in her limited opinion. And so it was that she was entering the gym with a bright pink compound bow in one hand and the other holding a plain black belt and quiver. Only a handful of others were present, she sighed in relief, then started to walk across the gym for the range door, nodding in greeting to those that acknowledged her, politely ignoring any others who didn’t.
The sparring rooms were next to the range, so it was from the adjacent door that Nia emerged, worn and with a towel slung over her shoulder. She was buzzed enough from a workout and expected the gym to be quieter at this time of night, so she came out at her usual striding speed, only to nearly walk flat into the cadet heading for the barely-used archery range.
“Woah.” Nia pivoted, just avoiding a collision, and raised her hands in balance and apology. Then she spotted the gear of the cadet she’d almost hit, and she gave a cheeky grin. “Okay, okay, I’m sorry, you don’t have to escalate that bad that quick.”
“I…” It was an abortive start to a sentence with no real thought behind it as Katlyn had danced around the collision herself with while perhaps not grace, surefootedness at least. She blinked a few times trying to process the statement, then looked down to the bow and her brow furrowed in confusion. “I wasn’t?” she finally got out before her brain finally caught up and she rolled her eyes, not at Nia, but her own slow processing. “Least it’s just my bow and not something…” she trailed off.
“What,” Nia drawled with increasing amusement, “on another day it would have been a bat’leth? A daisho set? I’ve just had my ass kicked by three hologram programmes, it’s not fair to sucker punch me at the end of all that.” Seeing the slightly bewildered reaction to her jest, she gave Katlyn a light, friendly, reassuring tap on the arm with a fist. ”Don’t worry about it. I didn’t think anyone would be down this end of the gym this time of night.”
“Messer and dagger,” Katlyn supplied, correcting the list of weapons. Then winced as she had offered something not needed, shaking her head slightly. “Neither did I, though it’s still later afternoon for me.” She shuffled the quiver to loop a part of the belt over a finger on her bow hand, then extended the now free left hand, an awkward offering for a handshake, but an introduction instilled in her after years of semi-rural living and her grandfather’s open and honest upbringing. “Katlyn.” No last name, at first at least. “Mianaai,” she amended.
“Nia. Nia Hargreaves.” Nia gave a cheerful handshake, still grinning. It was a welcoming smile, intended to set someone uncomfortable at-ease, but she had perhaps not mastered the art of modulating her enthusiasm to not bull-rush other people. “Archery and proper sword-fighting, huh? That’s cool, I mostly just stick with hand-to-hand; hitting things myself helps me blow off steam late at night. Your duty shifts up here have you on the graveyard hours, then? I’m stuck down in Stellar Sciences myself, and there is no need to watch that data come in at 0300.” She rolled her eyes with frustration.
“More I’m still trying to adjust to station time. The difference is just enough to throw me out at the moment.” Katlyn shrugged her shoulders, and then shuffled the quiver back to her left hand. “0300 would be great hours in Stellar Sciences. Fewer people around, more likely to be able to get some telescope time for yourself. And with all the activity in the Paulson Nebula…” she blinked, stopping herself. “Sorry, it’s a hobby turning secondary, or tertiary calling.” She’d started to sound enthusiastic herself, then stopped short. “Care to join me?” she indicated the range door. “I don’t have a spare mind you, having brought this from home.”
“Yeah, the numbers in the Paulson Nebula sure have gone up a lot.” Nia said, not without a great deal of enthusiasm; at the moment, scans were raw data with little interesting analysis, at least as far as she was concerned. She looked towards the range, and gave a sincerely apologetic frown. “Oh, I wouldn’t know what to do with a bow. Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool, but I’m a thoroughly twenty-fifth century kind of gal. Without a phaser or a cockpit I’m only going to upset a target at a distance with cutting words.” Now she grinned. “Is this it, then? The primary calling? Getting ready for that away mission trapped in an energy field where none of our technology is working, or something?” She spoke with a teasing, but thoroughly good-natured tone.
“No, it’s more meditation. Grandpa is a forestry ranger and a marshal in the local SCA, much to Grandma’s displeasure.” Katlyn chuckled to herself at the disagreements she’d seen, him in full garb, smiling like an idiot the whole time, her exasperated tone. “I’m passable with a normal bow, maybe competitive with this, but never tried for the archery team. Some big egos there. As for my calling, I want to fly. Big, little, doesn’t matter. My life, my hands.” And there was firey determination in that statement, something raw tempered by age.
Nia brightened even more. “Damn right. Why go to the stars if you’re not going to go out there yourself? I can’t believe the instructors have me pulling shifts down in the lab when we’ve got all the flight facilities on Bravo. If I don’t get on the next training session out at Stinsfor, I’m going to-” She stopped herself, realising this agitation was perhaps a bit much for a first meeting late at night. “Well, you get it, I’m sure. Sorry, I’m keeping you from meditatively shooting things.”
”I managed to secure a shuttle for three hours on Saturday for helping train Cadet Parze, if getting off the station would help?” Katlyn offered with a shrug. “She needs to pass her qualification flight and I’m of the mind real practise is better than a holodeck.”
“Oh, Parze.” Nia gave a knowing chuckle. “I think she’ll need a lot of supervision. Absolutely not a one-woman job, that. It’d be frankly irresponsible for you not bring a spare along to help.” There was apparently no such thing to Nia as ‘over-egging the pudding.’
“Saturday, 1300, shuttlebay 12,” Katlyn supplied. “We have to do all the pre-flight checks as well, and post-flight.” She waited a moment, that awkward little pause of someone unsure of what to say before she opted for a pathway to close a conversation. “I should,” she started and faltered, indicating the range door with her bow. “I’m keeping you from a shower aren’t I?”
“You can keep me away from a shower any time if there’s a flight on offer, so, I’ll be there,” Nia said with a casual, cheerful shrug. “You should go shoot some things. Make ready for that mission to a pre-warp civilisation following Hodgkin’s Law of Parallel Planetary Development, Robin Hood.”
“Just remember how to rebuild a tech base up to hot showers,” Katlyn quipped back as she gave a wave and departed for the archery range.