To say that the recent changes to the ship had taken some adjustment for all involved was probably a bit of an understatement. Many had found it difficult to see friends and colleagues replaced, whilst others found it hard to be pulled from their home at short notice and told to pitch up someplace else. No one had found that harder than the new mistress of the Temeraire. Everyone else on the crew was in one camp or the other, even the XO (ESPECIALLY the XO), but she didn’t have that luxury. As the one tasked with uniting the two crews and forming a functional starship again, she had to find a way to bring them together and turn them into her own collective, a group willing to fight and die for each other. At present, it was more likely they would fight and kill each other, but she had a cunning plan up her sleeve (or so she hoped). She had once been told by a colleague that social events had a habit of bringing the best, or the worst out of people. With that in mind, she had organised a little get together for anyone able to attend. Anyone who chose to attend.
Standing on the upper level of the Wayward Traveller lounge, Tharia surveyed the scene below her in delight. All of the planning and preparation had come together beautifully, culminating in the transformation of the Wayward Traveller over the course of just a few hours. It was perfect. The floor beneath her seemed to move, a mist covering the grey carpet up to waist height. Just to ensure they did not send too many hapless souls in the direction of sickbay, the lowered section of the room had been temporarily filled in to give them maximum floor space which allowed the room to set up tiered rows of seats for the occasion. She hoped nobody would be throwing the popcorn, as seemed to be tradition from what she had learned…
The light was at a bare minimum, the strip lighting green rather than blue while dotted around the room were various props from the movie the crew was about to watch, little green spotlights illuminating them in the gloom.
Despite the darkness, Tharia was unmissable. She had opted to wear a burnt orange shimmer dress, an outfit from the movie while the staff tending to the bar and keeping everyone fed tonight were wearing the one piece jumpsuits of the main characters. She had no idea if anyone else would care to dress up or not, it had been optional on the invite. But she supposed that would be a moot point if no one showed up at all.
All that mattered, she reminded herself, was that this was a night for the crew to relax and have fun and, hopefully, get past some of the simmering animosity. Either that, or things would come to a head and the situation would be a disaster. She was determined that it would be resolved one way or another this very evening.
Behind her, a temporary bar had been put in place since the wall space behind the serving area presently housed an old fashioned still projector. With her brow furrowed in concentration, Prida was applying the finishing touches to the drinks she had poured in anticipation of the crew’s arrival. One half green, the other orange, both with only the slightest kick. It was movie night after all.
Satisfied, the Bajoran-Cardassian engineer stepped back to admire her work. Drinks, a selection of finger foods at a nearby buffet table and finally the best part. Popcorn! Before tonight she had never had popcorn before, and now she found herself stealing some as she filled stripped bags to the brim and set them inside a heater. Apparently it was better if the popcorn was warm. She had no idea why melted butter was needed, but who was she to judge.
“Ready!” she announced, rubbing her hands together with glee as she made eye contact with the captain.
“Perfect,” Tharia nodded, “right on time. Now we just need people.”
Never one to disappoint his captain, Lieutenant Udal was first to arrive. Dressed in all black, including a flowing black cape, with his hair styled in a wild, spiky fashion, and wearing glow in the dark green contacts, the burly Orion had gone all out for the event. Approaching the captain, he smiled, flashing a set of metallic fangs capped over his regular canines. “While I don’t understand the meaning of such an event, I am happy to be out of my uniform for a few hours,” he said, only the slightest hint of a lisp accompanying his words.
“I love it!” Tharia cried in delight as he came up the stairs. She took his arm and guided him towards the bar.
Prida grinned at her deputy and waved him over to the bar. “Come on, you need to try the ectoplasm… Green or orange? Having tried them, I’d actually try mixing them, it is a lovely sweet and sour mix.”
“Who am I to argue with you ladies?” Udal replied, with a lopsided grin.
Before long, crewmembers from across the ship began to appear, and Lieutenant Mora entered the lounge, surprised to see the level of detail gone into the setup. He nodded to the captain as he approached, “Looks like you pulled out all the stops.”
“I figured we should make the most of it,” Tharia grinned as the Lieutenant reached the upper level. “Movie starts in twenty minutes so help yourself to drinks, food, and we have popcorn. Oh, do you know my friend here?” At that she gestured towards Udal with a devilish grin.
Udal held out his hand and grinned hungrily. “Udal, at your service!” he said, quite melodramatically and with the best transylvanian accent he could muster.
At first, Linn simply stood, staring at the engineer before bursting into a fit of laughter with his colleague and the two moved off together to find some seats. Exchanging knowing glances with Prida, the captain felt a little warmer deep down. So far, so good.
Lieutenant Noli, the ship’s resident Bajoran, had been going back and forth all day over the decision to join the staff for movie night. As a bit of an introvert, the young woman usually tried to avoid large gatherings, but the promise of some 20th century entertainment and something called ‘popcorn’ had drawn her to the Wayward Traveller to spend the evening with her colleagues. Entering the mess facility, the Bajoran was taken aback by the arrangements. The place looked amazing.
New to the crew as one of just three new transfers in, Henry Mitchell walked through the double doors that lead into the lounge. He was wearing an all black suit and tie with a white shirt. It was what the computer had recommended for him as period appropriate for a 20th century “fancy” party. He liked how it looked, but was not a fan of how tight the cloth was around his neck. While he should have probably been on the bridge getting accustomed to his new posting, he felt it necessary to show his face and mingle in with his new crewmates. Especially the hot blonde he had shared the turbolift with. Judging by her eye colour, the woman was a Risian.
Lieutenant Akaria Okan was the Risian he had his eye on, but she seemed oblivious to his interest as she nodded in acknowledgement to the captain.
Assistant Operations officer Ensign Valesa had tried to catch up with the charming looking Lieutenant before he entered the room, but unable the catch him, she slowed from her brief jog and walked through the doors of the Wayward Traveller. She paused in utter amazement of the transformation. A soft white mist hovered over the floor and the bar had been converted into a makeshift concession stand. “Oh WOW!,” she exclaimed, not caring if anyone heard.
Chortling rather dramatically with one hand on her chest and the other on her abdomen, the Denobulan was flabbergasted at the array of characters present for the film. She herself, in less fanfare, wore a replicated black short-sleeve t-shirt with an image of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man wearing 80’s era sunglasses. White letters written on red tape captioned, “I’ll Stop the World and Melt with You.” She thought it fitting considering this night was about melting into leisure and making new friends.
Composing herself, she followed Lieutenant Mitchell to the concession stand. “Someone really pulled out all the stops tonight,” she stated, meeting his gaze at last while waiting on popcorn and a drink.
“Indeed,” he said, noticing her at last. “Last time I ask the computer for fashion advice,” the newcomer laughed. “Popcorn?” he asked, offering her the first bucket that came up.
“Yes please!” Valesa replied with enthusiasm. She took the bucket of popcorn. “I don’t know… I think you look rather dapper,” she jokingly eyed his outfit from head to toe, “It totally…suits…you.” She intentionally drew attention to the mediocre pun.
Henry laughed out loud and shook his head. “That was bad, but I like it. I’ll buy you a drink for that one,” he said trying to stop his chuckling to no avail. Offering a hand, the two introduced themselves more formally and went in search of their own seats.
Doctor Zinn entered to find a decent crowd already gathered. He was able to make out Mora, and moved through the crowd, greeting people with a silent nod and tightlipped smile as he went. Reaching the operations chief, he found him chatting to Lieutenant Udal dressed…as a vampire. He ignored Udal for a moment and addressed Mora, “Hey.”
Zinn then studied the younger Orion for a moment, looking him up and down in silence. Finally, he cracked a smile. “Looking good, Udal.” He slapped the junior Lieutenant on the arm as he walked past, looking for somewhere to sit. “So, where do you think the best seats are?”
Deep into conversation, the unlikely participants in something akin to a very lame joke (you know the one, ‘A Bolian, a Deltan and an Orion walked into a messhall…’), made their way towards the seating area at the back of the room, and were immediately identified as something of a troublesome trio by the Captain.
Entering from one of the doors on the lower level of the mess facility, and much to the amusement of the amassed crowd, a figure covered in a white bed sheet with two holes for eyes shuffled towards the stairs and began to ascend them to the food area. “WoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo!” the figure whistled as it waved its arms in the direction of a small gathering of officers. In normal circumstances, the sheet would have been quite a disguise, but with a bushy beard sticking out from beneath the sheet, it was pretty clear who was under the ghost-like ensemble.
“You made it!” Tharia grinned as she came down the stairs to meet her executive officer, relieved that he had finally relented and agreed to meet her there. She had been certain that in the cosmic order of things, something would have kept the Tellarite away. She was about to say something else when an automated announcement declared the movie would begin in five minutes.
“Time to grab drinks, some popcorn and find a seat everyone!” the Andorian called out before lowering her voice as she turned back to Commander Gor. “You have a front row seat. Popcorn and drinks are on the upper level. I have a few more things to take care of but make yourself comfortable.”
“WoOoOoOoOoOoOoOo!” was all that came from the ‘ghost’ as it began to glide towards the refreshments before making its way towards the reserved seat on the front row.
Precisely on schedule, the lights dimmed as everyone took their seats. From her seat, Tharia uttered a silent prayer that all would work as planned, breathing a sigh of relief when the audio and visual elements started seamlessly. A few stragglers were guided to free seats by Prida and her trusty torch before she, too, retreated out of sight. Settling into her chair, she grabbed a handful of popcorn and watched the story unfold.
It was enjoyable, especially if you didn’t try to analyse it in any way. Pure entertainment trying to wrap itself in science. She was watching a giant marshmallow man (what else?) destroying a city called New York when the she first saw it. Popcorn. From the corner of her eye she saw the piece on the downward trajectory, aiming directly for the ‘ghost’. Her eyes widened for a moment before she breathed a sigh of relief as it fell just a few centimetres short and fell harmlessly to the floor.
Suspicion made her glance at Udal. Or was it Mora? Maybe it was Zinn? It couldn’t have been Noli on the row in front of them, could it? It certainly wasn’t Henry or the Denobulan from Ops,. for they were too busy engaging in small talk and hushed whispers. The likely culprits were all suspiciously shovelling copious amounts of popcorn into their mouths. The same popcorn they had each been weighing up seconds before in preparation for an attempt, only to be beaten from elsewhere. Udal flashed his best boyish, innocent smile – but the good Andorian captain was not fooled for a second. Then again, it seemed like it came from rows further back…
As the end credits rolled, the lighting began to return to a more normal level as Prida appeared on the stairs. “We have some refreshments including a buffet on the upper level if anyone would care to stay a little longer,” the young woman announced before hurrying back up to get her own stash before the crowd descended upon the tables. She had thoroughly enjoyed the movie, especially when the giant walking mallow had exploded all over the place. Oh, how fun it would be to have been in such a mess, the clean freak sighed wistfully.
Whilst the crew began to file out, many took a moment to stop and chat with the captain about the success of the evening, and how they had wished they had done something similar. Mayur Bellurr from tactical even expressed how she was glad to no longer have to sit through performances by the ship’s orchestra and could take part in real entertainment instead. High praise from the Terran/Klingon hybrid.
“Thanks for coming, have a great night,” Tharia called after them as Udal handed her another drink with a pleading look. She sighed, “okay, you can have the room for the rest of the night but you help me clean this place up tomorrow. Deal?”
It appeared so, as he hurried off to prepare another film. She was going to regret this in the morning, she was sure, but if it helped them bond, who cared. They were in dock, nothing eventful going on, everything at peace.
“Excellent work,” a gruff voice called from the back of the gathering alongside some clapping, drawing the attention of several officers, including the captain. Some confusion followed as they realised that the voice belonged to their first officer. But if he was at the back, who was on the front row?
“Vasoch?” Tharia frowned, looking to the ghostly figure still seated in the front row and back at her executive, clearly surprised and a little confused. “But you…”
“TADA!” the ghostly apparition called out as the figure threw off their sheet to reveal junior Lieutenant Edouard Calvet from the psychology team, complete with false beard, who was laughing at the same time as Commander Gor stepped forward clapping and laughing himself.
“You think I wouldn’t hear the rumours about popcorn throwing?” he grinned a toothy grin as she stopped beside his cohort and put his arm around him. “Lieutenant Calvet kindly offered to take my place if I arranged for him to have one of his early morning shifts off,” he grinned. “And they say I have no sense of humour…”
“Well played,” Tharia acknowledged with a smile. “And glad you could join us, Lieutenant. I’m really sorry about this, though…”
She saw the look of confusion on the stellar cartographer’s face. Just as Tharia took a step back, from the upper level, a veritable mountain of popcorn was tipped over the pair. She grinned up at Udal and Mora who gave a thumbs up before disappearing so that their involvement could be noted. “Always have a backup plan,” Tharia grinned as she picked a piece of popcorn out of Gor’s beard hair and held it out in her open palm. “Popcorn?”
“Well played, Captain,” Gor nodded slowly as he brushed off his uniform and gave the CO the respect she deserved, before looking up at the balcony, “now I suggest you lot get this cleaned up, or this will be the first, and last, movie night!” he bellowed before turning on his heels and departing from the mess facility.
Prida had a tremendous grin on her face. She had been aloof, watching various officers engaging with one another. She finished off the first round plate, and approached to gather a few more of the favorites before calling it a night. “Can I help you pack things up, Captain? I definitely want to make sure we have another one of these.”
“Thanks, the boys have got it covered,” Tharia assured her, “but you are more than welcome to join me at the bar, to celebrate such a resounding success?”
Prida nodded, finishing the last morsels of food from her plate. “I’ll take you up on that Captain.”
Just as the pair were about to head off to the bar, the ships communications array chirped to life and stopped them in their tracks. “Bridge to Captain sh’Elas,” the voice called out.
Tapping her commbadge while she exchanged glances with Prida, the captain acknowledged the message. “sh’Elas here, go ahead,” she spoke, arms folded across her chest.
“We’re receiving a transmission, ma’am. Two visitors are requesting permission to board,” the voice informed her.
Sighing, the captain gave her friend a signal for a rain check before heading towards the mess facility exit. “I’ll be right there…”