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Part of Starbase Bravo: Q2 2400

A Late Night Drink

Promenade
March 2400
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Immediately Following: Dream of the Trill Sensory Implosion

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Heriah did not bother changing out of her sleep attire, simply a long pajama and a shirt. She left everything else behind to include her commbadge. Fixing her hair was of no import either. She simply stepped out into the corridor upon waking from her dream. Or could it have been a nightmare.

Having had nightmares before, she knew the signs and sensations upon waking from one.

Cold but somehow fiery spots: Nope

Increased heart rate: Nope

Sweats or chills: Nope

Increased desire to find the nearest sentient being and rip its head off:…

A random person passed her in the hall.

…Nope

It had all been just a dream. And the sleep cycle of a Trill can sometimes prove confusing as the host may wake up and the symbiont still be asleep. As is the case this time around.

“You stay asleep little one,” she said to her abdomen and then stepped away.

Heriah also knew that on some rare occasions the symbiont could wake up with the host remaining asleep. That would lead to some interesting conversations the next day, but only if there were others about who could witness and document. When Heriah had a roommate at the Academy, that happened at least once. Now though, she had a room to herself and it mattered not.

Heriah ventured to the promenade and set foot in front of the other until she stepped into a random bar.

“Risian Vodka,” she said to the bartender as she arrived, “and…” before he had the chance to step away, “the good stuff. By that I mean the real stuff. No synthahol.”

As the bartender ventured away to acquire her request, Heriah looked around. Yeah, there was no record of time keeping in space and Bravo had its primary chronometer synched with Earth standard time. Still, the starbase lived and breathed during all hours and at this particular time, generally regarded as the graveyard shift, there were still people about, just not as many. Heriah regarded this time of ‘night’ as an introvert’s dream come true.

However, as Heriah noticed a Serilian stalking about, she also knew that this time was also a creep’s dream come true which could invariably lead to an introvert’s nightmare.

The bartender returned with a glass half filled with her order of Risian vodka.

“Careful now,” he started, “that stuff is…”

“Yes, I am aware,” and she stepped away. Heriah discreetly followed the Serilian until she saw him slowly move toward a table with a lone occupant, the target of his nightly affections. This lone occupant had but only a drink before her and nothing else for company or entertainment. No company, save for the drink. It was obvious the Serilian was going to intrude upon the girl’s solitude and attempt to force his company whether she wanted or not.

Heriah was quick in her footwork to arrive at the table at the same time as he. She even ‘bumped’ into him with her elbow nearly making him spill some of whatever drink he was holding. “Oh, I am so sorry sir,” she said.

“No harm done young miss, I managed to not…”

Heriah butted in with, “No, I mean I am so sorry sir, but,” she got in his face, “this seat is taken.”

The Serilian narrowed his eyes slightly and engaged her into a few seconds-long staring contest before he blinked, awkwardly laughed and stepped back. “Many apologies for the intrusion. I shall make my leave.”

‘Yes, you do that,’ Heriah thought.

Wanting to maintain the façade that the table’s lone occupant was there with someone, Heriah sat and watched as the Serilian stalked a little bit more and then left.

“A lone girl in a bar,” Heriah spoke to the lone occupant but kept her eyes out for any more unwanted and intrusive guests, “is a man magnet. They cannot seem to contain themselves at the sight. At this time of night however,” she turned her attention to the girl across the table from her, “a long girl at a bar is a creep magnet.” Heriah took a sip of her vodka. “Word of advice when dealing with Serilians. Always travel in packs of no less than two and, when encountering a male Serilian whilst alone, be sure to insult his manliness in a round about way. Do not outright antagonize him. They will generally go away.”

Neva’s eyes were wide as she shook her head vehemently as she did her best to deny the Serilian’s advances. She never spoke, even as her hands slid off her glass to put a death grip on the bottom of her chair.

When the slightly disheveled woman stepped in to make the intruder go away, Neva’s arms shook as the woman sat down before her. Neva swallowed & nodded stiffly at the advice. “Th…th…thank y…you,” Neva stuttered out.

“Welcome,” said Heriah. She eyed her glass of Risian vodka, not really wanting it any longer. She took a sip anyway.

Something about this person told Neva she could relax.

Neva uncurled in stages, eyes locked on the other person. She took hold of her glass again & took a drink, draining it.

“Why are you helping me?” Neva asked quickly, then looked down at the table. “But I appreciate the advice.” She looked up again, scrutinizing her table mate. “Who are you?”

“Ensign Heriah Rex.” She answered the last question first. “And you will find that I do not charge for advice. I’m the station counselor. And no, I am not here to counsel you.” She was finally getting to Neva’s original question. “I’ve had my share of stalkers and oglers.” Heriah watched the Serilian stalk about the corridor before being out of sight. “Figured the least I could do is drive him off. Perhaps have a conversation. But, I can leave you be if you prefer. Though it seems I am not the only one with a sleepless night. And you?”

Neva nodded. “Yeah, company would be nice this time.” She gave a half smile. “Usually, those that intrude on me go away with an ‘F-You’ in as close to their language as I can manage. That one, was…too cl-” Neva looked away, squeezing her eyes shut for a moment. Taking deep breaths, her shoulders slowly dropped. She turned back to Heriah, calmer than before.

Heriah smiled and provided a singular nasal laugh, understanding Neva’s remark of her usual response.

‘Certainly something Rex would want to say.’

“What brought YOU here, Heriah? Lack of sleep is a cruel mistress.” Neva signaled for another drink & put her forearms & elbows on the table. She felt a bit sleepy again, but shook her head instead. “ESPECIALLY at this time of night.”

Heriah thought about the Rex symbiont, still apparently asleep in her torso, thankful that he was still slumbering. Strange thoughts wafted about in her mind. He was still dreaming and she felt a slight squirm of his tail inside her abdominal muscle. It was strange the first time she felt it. Now it was commonplace.

Heriah took another sip of her vodka. “Bad dream. Sometimes it feels a bit too real. You know? Usually, a nightly stroll will calm the seas so to speak. This time…” she held up her glass.

Neva cocked her head, considering the proposal. “Never thought of that, really. I admit, this time of night’s perfect for that.” She stood up, empty glass in hand. “I’m game if you are.” Without waiting for an answer, Neva got up & put her glass on the bar. She looked over her shoulder & gave a “let’s go” tilt, smiling. “Hurry up, m’dear! We’ve got ‘mares to chase!”

Heriah tiled her glass and sucked a big gulp of her vodka. She was a bit confused at what her company was getting at, but decided, and the sudden rush of alcohol fumes in her sinuses aided with this decision, to follow. She sat another couple of seconds, letting the beverage settle before finishing it.

Neva walked a few jaunty steps, figuring her companion was behind her.…then turned around. Brows furrowed, she looked at her companion. She hadn’t moved. Neva returned to the table, signaling for another drink to be brought over. She sat down again, her jovial mood gone. Cocking her head, Neva regarded Heriah in silence until her drink was delivered.

“What gives? Thought the walk thing was a lock. You change your mind?” Neva took a long sip of her drink. “Hello?”

“Just…been a while since I’ve had this stuff,” she displayed her glass. Only one final mouthful was left. Heriah kicked that back, held it in her mouth a comforting second then swallowed. She slapped the glass down onto the table. “There.”

She looked at her company and saw something familiar in both the girl’s mannerisms and in those eyes. There was a sense of restlessness on top of a tendency to switch moods rather quickly. Heriah was like that in her younger years and once again after becoming Heriah Rex. Though, instead of going between being shy and reserved to being outgoing, she had gone to moving between being kind hearted and gentle to harboring violence and a desire for action.

“All done,” Heriah said. “Now, about these ‘mares to chase…”

Neva nodded, the smile returned. She looked down at her drink, which was half full. She shrugged & got up, leaving the glass there on the table.

“I’ve been wanting to see more of this station OUTSIDE of the Jefferies Tubes,” she chuckled. This time, she looked at Heriah to start the walk. “Do you have a favorite place to go?” Neva’s smile faltered a little. “All I ask is, let’s not go anywhere dark. I get enough of that at work.”

Heriah stood and a slight rush of inebriation caused her to ensure she could stand upright.

‘No problem.’

In her memory, she recalled the gym and running battle sims on the holodeck as being her favorite places to go but, seeing that Rex was still asleep, those places did not seem all that interesting at the moment.

Being new to the starbase herself, “I really do not have a favorite place to go, yet.” Heriah thought a quick second as she followed behind out of the bar. She thought back to her time at the Academy before her joining with Rex; places she enjoyed to visit and slowly stroll through. “The gardens?” she said, more like, half-asked as though wondering if the locale was acceptable. “I have not been to the gardens yet.”

Neva smiled brightly as they took the route Heriah had shyly asked for. “My mother likes the gardens here too…and in general. On Beta-” Neva stopped herself, suddenly realizing she’d almost outed herself. “Well, back home, my mother loved gardening.” Neva’s smile turned fond. “I got so many sunburns when she nagged me into helping her pull weeds & such.”

She looked at her newfound friend. “Does Trill Prime have nice gardens? Do the symbionts like that kind of stuff?” Neva’s eyes widened & slapped her fingers over her mouth. “I’m so sorry! I shouldn’t ask such personal questions!” She jerked to a stop & her face reddened. ‘Oh God’s! I just CAN’T stop my babbling mouth!’

Heriah smiled and nearly laughed at the sheer giddiness of her company. She did begin to raise a hand in hopes of getting in a few words but saw a break in the conversation. Her chance to interject.

“Trillius Prime…is the name of my planet. And yes, speaking of symbionts can be a private matter but that varies from person to person. I,” she placed her hand over her belly where Rex slumbered within, “do not mind such questions as long as,” and Heriah looked around at the empty corridors, “it is not too public. Symbionts, well…” and Heriah looked down where her hand lay on her belly, “…they only get to experience what a host experiences. Otherwise they stay in naturally heated, murky pools of…well, they love the water. Rex though, he has seen a lot. And yes, I do enjoy the gardens. Trillius Prime does have multitudinous gardens of the Alle’Ke’Zonda’er flower, commonly known as the Trill Lilac. It is a form of lilac and comes in many different colors, so gardeners like to mix and match and create gardens that are also works of art.

Neva’s blush slowly disappeared. “WOW! I think we’ve got some of those to the gardens.”

‘Gardens!’

The doors to the atrium opened and Heriah found herself unable to take a single step inside. A massive wormy twitch flung itself against her entrails and she wrapped her arms across her torso.

“Whoa, wait, oh…” and she nearly doubled over as she let out a painful exhale.

Heriah could sense Neva stop and turn, but, though her eyes were wide, Heriah could not see a thing. “No. Rex. Hold…” and an explosion of terror flooded her mind.

There came some mental flashes of a long lost memory, flashes of people winking in and out of a garden-like area, like something out of a dream, but it was a dream. Or, at least it felt that way. The dream garden itself flickered.

There came a hand upon the shoulder and the only thing that came next was a sense of escape. Rex again twitched and it felt almost like he slammed himself against Heriah’s spine.

‘Do not go into the gardens!’

Heriah swatted away the hand that touched her shoulder and stepped back. With tear-welled eyes, a whimper in her voice and a terrible multi-voiced howl of pain in her mind, Heriah twitched and shook her head, taking another step back and away. “We…we cannot go in there.”

She unwrapped one arm from around her torso and pressed a palm against her temple as though massaging away a headache, realizing the reality of it all; Rex had exploded awake and wanted nothing to do with the gardens.

Neva was chattering about plants & such to her comrade, when she suddenly saw Heriah go down. Neva set a hand on Heriah’s shoulder to help. Even as it was pushed away, Neva stumbled back & fell awkwardly to the floor. Palms trying to crush her head inward, Neva felt terror become her own.

She was *THERE.* The metallic scent of the blood on her lip where he’d slapped her…the ~FURY~…the sound of tearing cloth…

~~NOOOOOOOO~~ screamed from somewhere within her…

Neva’s body thrashed inward, then hands clamped around her tucked up knees, pulling her head down. A brown, black, & yellow oversized armadillo-like creature lay on the threshold of the atrium. An almost inaudible keening flared out of it, unlike the banshee wail heard within.

~~NOOOOOOO~~

As she recovered, Rex calming within, Heriah stood and saw how the scenario had inverted itself. A moment ago, Heriah was almost on the floor and now…

“Rex, I think it is safe to say…”

‘…we have never seen this response before.’

“Hey,” Heriah crept forward and crouched down. She had the sudden realization that she had no idea of this girl’s name. “Hey,” she repeated in a calm and as soothing of a voice as she could manage. Reaching out with her hand, Heriah touched the girl twitching about on the floor and whimpering something inaudible. The only thing Heriah could make out was, ‘No.’

“Ensign Rex to Sick Bay,” after she slapped her commbadge. Then Heriah remembered she was not wearing her commbadge. She then thought to call up the computer but something inside told her this was nothing she could not handle.

“Hey,” she said again. “There is no one else here. Nothing to harm you. Open your eyes and see.” The girl twitched again and Heriah withdrew slightly, wondering if she should call this a medical emergency. Luckily there was no one else about the corridors, lest they might call for Security. Heriah did see this as an emergency however, a mental and emotional emergency. Nothing anyone from Sick Bay could do save for sedation. No, this needed a counselor’s touch. “Whatever is happening,” Heriah said, “I am there with you, suffering with you, helping you.”

Neva swam in the dark morass of pain & anger, the force of it becoming gentle waves that carried her toward the voice…voice?…“I am there…suffering …helping….” Neva slugged through the last bit of cold & blackness towards the light & the voice.

Like the ancient tales of Earth cinema, her eyes fluttered stop motion images of dots…colors angular then curvy…a blurry pale roundness filling the space…”I am there with…suffering with you, helping you.”

Neva sighed, a hiss becoming a loud sucking in of air. Her eyes burst fully open, mouth opening & closing like a fish for a few beats, returning to slow & even.

Her neck ached, her palms slick, she couldn’t push herself up. She fixed her gaze at the…woman? Eyebrows pushed down in confusion. “Where..am i?”

Heriah fell back to sitting on the floor. She wanted to help the girl up but knew, from her teaching, that sometimes any amount of touching could prove a hindrance to recovery. The girl needed to reacquire her bearings first, lest she might have regressed into her previous terrible state.

“You are aboard Starbase Bravo. Whoever it was you saw, they are not here. Whatever it was that happened, it is well over now. Wherever you were, you are here now.” And now was as good a time as any to learn her name. “Do you know your name? Rank? Occupation?”

Without thinking, Neva sat up straight & barked out “Name! Nevanthi Alice Cordon! Rank! Junior Grade Lieutenant! Occupation! Engineering!” Once more, her eyes were wide open & not seeing what was before her. After a minute, she relaxed & looked around. “Oh…the ‘Base! Damn, what time is it?”

“It’s…”

“I need to get to work soon!” She looked up & repeated her question with “Computer!” The disembodied voice replied with the time-½ an hour before her shift. She then looked around her, seeing her drinking companion beside her. “Hiiiii….sorry about that…I didn’t mean to make a scene.”

“Well you didn’t…”

Neva chuckled depreciatedly…”I’ve gotta get to my station. I hope we can talk again…under better circumstances.”

“Me too,” Heriah finally got in a complete, albeit brief, thought.

Neva got up & brushed herself off. Neva nodded to the woman & walked away, acting like the incident never happened.

Heriah knew the situation all too well; someone made an embarrassing display and wanted to move on as though it never happened. And, as far as the rest of the universe was concerned, the event never did happen. Heriah was certainly not going to tell anyone, at least not yet. She was still trying to understand what triggered Nevanthi’s episode. Seeing that it happened in the immediate wake of Rex waking up…Heriah shook her head not understanding it one bit.

Weariness was returning to her and trying to understand was not really a priority at the moment. She had a name now and would be able to find Nevanthi quite easily. Perhaps she could arrange another chance encounter and find out more.

Comments

  • That was a very entertaining read - I need to read up on your characters more Neva but I am familiar with Heriah and the interaction between the two of them is great! Look forward to the next installation of the story

    May 31, 2022