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Posted on Sat Mar 16th, 2019 @ 12:23am by Captain Sun Mei Xiang & Commander Karsel`lyn Lylyl-Llytherraias & Lieutenant Commander James Barnes & Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

Mission: Between the Pages
Location: Starfleet Academy
Timeline: Shanghai Prime Timeline, 2388

[Shanghai Prime Timeline, 2388 | Starfleet Academy - Command Division Training Offices]

“No, run the numbers again.”

“Captain, this isn’t a graded sort of thing. You know that. You succeed or you fail. Your Lieutenant failed,” And older Commander spoke, brushing past a somewhat flustered and reddened Sun. He paused for a moment, and with a cold and uncaring tone added, “Again.”

“How? How did she fail?”

“You watched it, you know how she failed, sir.” The man’s voice was blunt and unfeeling. “She’s a friend, you don’t want to admit she isn’t ready. And that’s fine. That’s why you had the wherewithal to not run the simulation yourself.” He sighed, “Look, she’s a good officer, and she did well on a lot of portions of the test.”

“Right, she delegated well, she wasn’t…”

“She was hesitant,” He turned and shook his head. “And when it came time to pull the trigger, she didn’t. She saw the path, and she was sure she could find another way. You know there wasn’t another option.” He took a breath and offered over the padd, “If you need the numbers.”

“I know the damn numbers,” Mei said pushing it back. She growled, “This is cruel, you know.”

“It was cruel to all of us, Captain. If we all had the same test, it wouldn’t tell us anything. You were already adept at realizing sometimes you had to order friends to danger, so your test was more about your ability to trust others to do what was right.” He took a breath. “Not every test is as simple as sending a close friend to die. She has to learn that sometimes there are only bad choices, and sometimes you have to make those choices worse to see the good path.” He paused a moment, “I have more simulations to run today. I can reschedule a retest for her when she’s ready - but would you like my honest opinion?”

Mei took a second, closing her eyes and giving the slightest shake of her head. “Yes, Commander, I would.”

“She needs more training, and more time,” He spoke simply. “Counselors don’t normally come up into command. She didn’t even come to counseling normally. Get her in a command course. We don’t want to lose the talent any more than you do.” He gave the smallest of smiles, “And trust me, I wouldn’t have let her take it again if I didn’t see her as being a bridge commander one day.”

Sun made an unhappy noise, a mix of a sigh and a growl, and let her head shake again. "Thank you, commander. I'll pass along the verdict."

[Starfleet Academy, Central Plaza]

Sun left the office and headed out into the Central Plaza to meet up with the others. She wasn't particularly happy to be the bearer of bad news, but it was one of the things she had to do. Christine deserved that much. When she saw her at a nearby corner of the garden plaza she stepped over towards her, and tried her best to keep a neutral face - though she didn't think she succeeded. Luckily, it was overcast, so at least it wasn't incredibly obvious that it wasn't just the chill in the air and gloomy sky.

Christine leaned back on the bench, an arm draped across the back. She stared straight ahead, her mind a million kilometers away as it replayed the whole simulation over again. When she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, she turned towards it. "Mei," she said, greeting her. She studied her face for a minute. "I already know."

"Well, good, I wasn't sure how to delicately break that," Mei admitted with a sigh, "Sorry. I know it sucks. Chlan wasn't kind to me when I ran through mine," She adjusted for a moment. "The Commander said they'd let you retake it. Suggested a formal class or two to help," She shook her head. "Maybe don't think on it too hard now, though, just a thought if you want to try it."

"I don't know if I can," Christine said and gave a defeated shrug. She was essentially banging her head against the wall. Repeatedly. "I'm sorry, Mei, maybe I just wasn't ready for this. I mean, I could probably take those command courses. They would probably help. A lot. Because there has to be a way out, I'm still sure of it." She paused, still contemplating the outcome. "This is just...emotionally draining, maybe I need to take a break from it."

James was walking with two other intelligence officers, a commander and a captain. They were obviously in an in depth, hushed discussion. He saw Christine and Mei up ahead, and stopped outside of earshot of them. The three officers turned and faced each other, and could be seen gesturing as they spoke. Finally, James shook hands with both, and they split off from him as he started back towards Christine. He made a conscious effort to not show how displeased he was with his meeting. He nodded to the two women as he got to the bench.

"You guys don't look too happy, I assume it didn't go well?" he asked.

Christine looked up at him and gave him a small smile only for it to fall from her face. "I failed," she said bluntly. "Again. There's really nothing more to tell." She shook her head. "I must be the only that has failed this much. Obviously I'm missing something."

"What did you fail, Counselor Fairest?" came a new voice in the discussion. A pair of bared green arms circled around Mei's waist from behind, before the petite pilots green mien peeked out around the senior Officer at Christine.

"Well, you may as well know too," Christine replied with a wave of her hand. She sighed and tried to keep the disappointment out of her voice. "The bridge test."

"Hái zài gōngkāi chǎnghé, Lyn," Mei said quietly with a little jump signalling her surprise and nerves, before putting her hand on her one of her partners. "You really shouldn't be too worried. Most officers fail it the first time. A lot don't try again after." She gave a nod to herself. "You'll figure it out - but maybe a nice meal or something to get your mind off of the test for the bit?"

"That sounds good!" Lyn enthused. "There's a really good Chinese place two blocks outside of the West gate. I'm well known there, as their first and only green customer."

"Chinese food sounds good," Christine agreed as she stood up from the bench. She slipped a hand into the crook of James' elbow and gave a little squeeze. "I'm hungry enough anyways."

"Not a bad idea," Sun admitted, "I love that slightly Americanized Chinese food." She gave a smirk, "Though if you're going to get Cantonese food, there isn't much of a better place than San Francisco." She took a breath. "Maybe a drink and a bite to eat." She paused a moment, "Want to just walk that way now, or did you want meet a bit later?"

Christine stuck her free hand into the pocket of her skirt. She glanced down at her uniform. "I actually wouldn't getting out of this uniform and changing into something a bit more-" She shrugged. "-me, I guess. And by drink, I hope you mean the alcoholic kind."

"I don't have to be up until zero eight-hundred," Mei shrugged, "So, yes. I'd have a drink with you." She glanced over to her partner. "Lyn, want to go back to the apartment for an hour, and then over to eat - or are you stuck here for some thing?" She asked, before glancing back to Christine and James, "Does that timeline work with you?"

"Well, we do have the room for guests," Lyn shrugged. "We may as well go hang out somewhere comfortable? Like our apartment? CaiCai is off shopping with her cousin, so she wouldn't be bothered."

"That works too. Just get changed for now, then some Chinese and a drink, and if we want we can go back and continue from there." Sun responded, "Its been a long day, civilian life doesn't sound like a terrible change of pace for the night."

"Sure, sounds great," Christine said, "We'll meet you in an hour or so. Probably outside the restaurant." She gently tugged on James' arm and pulled him away.

Lyn held on to one of Mei's arms quietly as they discussed what and when, "Uh, you two are more than welcome to come over to our place to clean up and relax before dinner?" San Francisco was a populous city and land was at a premium in the city. That said, petite Karsel'lyn was exorbitantly wealthy and had purchased a large building near the Academy grounds. It had originally been a condominium complex, but Lyn had it refurbished into a large sprawling home, replete with an indoor swimming pool, an indoor gym and other amenities not normally found in an inner-city residence. Lyn hoped to eventually be able to stay there long term with Mei and Cai. "There is more than enough room for us all to get cleaned up and ready to go at the same time. Lots of privacy, if that's what you two lovebirds want?"

"If you want your own apartment, we understand that too." Mei said a bit nervously. Lyn was generous, but there were a lot of times the captain's conservative nature poked through. She always felt a bit odd offering too much - but that was likely cultural. "But you're always welcome." She added quickly, tightening her arm around Lyn's.

Christine grinned, mostly at Mei's nervousness and then gave James a sideways glance. "Sure. We will come to yours. It's probably closer anyway and I can always replicate something to wear I guess."

"We could take our time and relax, if you would like?" Lyn offered. "I have a couple of private hot tubs if that would help you both relax. We could take separate tubs, or we could hang out together?"

James was slightly distracted, as a classified message had just come in on his PADD, so he missed Christine's glance towards him. His eyes darted back and forth quickly, as El-Aurians tended to read 1.5-2x as fast as humans generally did. What he gleaned from the report wasn't encouraging. It was never good to have the words 'destabilization', 'potential collapse', and 'civil war' in the same paragraph referencing the Romulan Star Empire. He snapped back to reality and smiled as if nothing was wrong.

"Sounds good to me. If I didn't agree to hop into a hot tub with three women, I'd hope you all would call for an emergency beam out to get me to sickbay," he grinned.

"I have three hot tubs, two of them private in their own rooms," Lyn was amused by the Intelligence Officers enthusiasm. "You two lovebirds should take one of the indoor tubs while Mei and I the other. My pheromones are much more effective in a hot steamy environment and I don't think we want them altering your brain chemistry, James."

"Besides, I think that the Counselor Fairest wants you all to herself," Lyn grinned. "We will have plenty of time to spend together as a crew at the pub after dinner. You lovebirds can stay with us tonight after the pub. Let's just say that there's ample room for guests. Mei, Cai and I only really use a small section of the building."

Christine grinned and gave a shrug. "You know I don't really like sharing, Lyn, so that's an accurate statement."

[Casa de Lylyl-Llytherraias]

Lyn smiled as she lead the other three into the entry foyer of her expansive home. The entry room was nearly the size of the Shanghai bridge, various aromatic plants covering practically every inch of wall space with creeping vines and hanging planters. Unseen was an intricate hidden irrigation system that kept everything well watered and fed, utilizing San Franciscos rainy environment and frequent fog as a source. The roof was transparent aluminum, providing ample sunlight during the appropriate times of year, ambient sunlight generators hidden behind many of the plants filling the room with an earthy scent.

An artificial stream ran through the center of the room, adding yet another source for water and steam, the room easily thirty degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the cooling autumn air outside.

Lyn smiled at their guests, "While I may not always be here, you two will always have access to at least here, if you need somewhere to escape to. There are some hidden rooms in the back where you can hide and bed down if need be."

Christine took in the impressive sight. "It's amazing," she said and then laughed at the last part of Lyn's sentence. "Soundproof?" she grinned, then blushed slightly as she realized she spoke out loud.

"I'm a screamer," James deadpanned, nodding intently.

Mei blushed at the statement.

"Of course!" Lyn grinned at the Counselor. "I like my privacy, as much as I don't mind other people seeing all of me. Not all of my family, friends or guests care to be overheard."

"She means Mei." Sun admitted quietly.

Lyn lead the other three down a decline, next to the burbling stream, which lead to a large pool, steam wafting off the top of the water. Beyond that was a door, through which was a small rotunda, doors on either side.

"There are showers in a small bathroom through the other door inside," Lyn gestured to the left door. "There are fresh warmed towels in the white cabinet next to the shower door. Soap and shampoo are in dispensers on the shower wall. Make yourselves comfortable. Mei and I will be on the other side doing the same thing."

"And you know the usual systems all work. There's an AI assistant if you can't find anything." Mei seemed to pull back a bit from her quiet nature after a moment. "Or need us. My house is your house, or at least I know the owner and can probably get you whatever you need." She bumped her hip against Lyn's, "I'm here pretty often."

"It might as well be your house too, Love," Karsel'lyn leaned into her lover, an arm encircling her waist. "If you kids need anything, really, just call on Amy. She's my holographic AI assistant."

"I'll find some drinks, and make sure they have a table for four today." Sun added, seeming to suddenly realize how busy the town was. "Class of 2388 graduates this week - and there are two Galaxies in orbit, and half the First Fleet is home for some reason."

Lyn winced, "I can't discuss the particulars about the First Fleet. Movement information is classified. I was briefed and I can tell you later, MeiMei, when it's just us."

"I can guarantee a table. I'm one of their favorite customers, after all," Lyn grinned."We can give em a call after our bath."

“Alright,” Christine said and have a shrug. She was pretty sure she was the only person present who didn’t have that sort of classification, not that she cared overly much anyway. She gave Mêi and Lyn a grin, “I guess we will see you in a bit, or whenever.”

"Yup!" Lyn took Mei's hand in her own, before pausing, "Oh, I have a number of nice bath oils programmed into the tub. They're pretty easy to find in the user interface."

Lyn then lead the love of her life into the private bathroom, releasing Mei's hand to start tapping at the panel on the side of the deep wooden hot tub in the middle of the bamboo garden tub room. Lyn had gone all out in designing these rooms for comfort and relaxation.

"Amy, I'm home!"

Amelia Vega-Polanco at your service, my darling, purred the hologram of an unusually tall Latina lady.

Then the hologram turned it's beauteous face, Ah, welcome back, Captain Sun. What can I provide for you both this lovely evening?

"Please fill the bath at thirty-nine Celsius, add the vanilla oil, then go see to our guests in the opposite bathroom. From this point on, voice print them and grant them access to this section of the building," Lyn requested quietly.

Very good, darling, the holographic assistant purred as the tub suddenly began to fill. Anything else you need, Captain Sun?

"I... no, I'm fine." Mei seemed to be somewhere else, as she tossed her uniform jacket on one of the counters. "Actually, ai..." She said swiftly, pivoting a bit on her foot, and pausing for a moment. "I need to go get something. I'll be back," She held up a finger and then gave a slight sigh, "Just... actually, it'll take me a few minutes. Maybe more." She seemed in a hurry, "If I still have it there, just a quick..." She was in a hurry. She paused and gave a smirk. "Its a good idea. Just. Sorry." She said quickly moving to the other side of the room. "Oh," She snapped her fingers, "Do you remember what I wore when Min took us to that sushi place near the fish market?" She waited a second, "With the short leather jacket?" She smirked a bit, "I think I'll wear that." She paused, "I'll be back - might take me thirty minutes." She darted over to her partner and gave her a quick kiss. "Don't take too long of a bath, I'll try to talk you into another one later." She held up her hands as if explaining something, or asking her to wait. "Good idea, sorry. Just get ready and I'll be back. Or I'll meet you there if it takes a bit longer." She was repeating herself at this point, and realized it. She stepped back across the room and disappeared. "Amy, is my short leather jacket in the bedroom or somewhere else?"

Your Armani leather jacket is in the wardrobe outside of the restroom that you are in currently, Capitan sounded Amy's voice.

[Outside Casa de Lylyl-Llytherraias, about forty minutes later]

Mei had rushed off with a spark of an idea like she was want to do from time to time. Most people saw it most in work, rushing to some department on Shanghai after she had a realization and leaving everything else in the dust. It was rarer outside of that. Especially since she didn't have a lot that would require running off to look for something or do something suddenly. Much less something that would make her late. Here she was, though, a few minutes late. She had planned on being back in about half an hour so they'd have plenty of time to get to the restaurant, but she had decided that this was more important - and it took a bit longer.

Lyn frowned. They should have chosen to wait inside. Now she was questioning her decision to keep her Earthbound home in the cold and wet San Francisco climate. The hot-blooded half-Orion glanced up at Christine and James, "Should I give her a ring?"

Christine, arms crossed in front of her and shivered suddenly. She had managed to replicate a mid-thigh length strapless black dress with a dark purple blazer. The fabric was light, and the evening air was cooler than she anticipated. "She said she would be here," she answered.

When Mei finally arrived, it was clear that she had at the very least jogged most of the way back. She was a bit winded, and lucky it was a cooler night. "Sorry," She called out as she got close, taking a breath. "Sorry. That's a longer jog than I thought it would be." She took a deep breath as she came to a stop next to the group. She arched her back and groaned, "It doesn't feel as long in the morning." She admitted, before giving a smirk. "I met the best transporter operator I've ever met, though. Xindi girl, just out of the academy. Able to beam something off my book case in my ready room from the academy transporter station... which is... talent." She took another breath, and then gave a little point to Christine, "Mind if I borrow Christine for a second?" She didn't really wait for an answer and took a few steps away.

At Mei's approach, Karsel'lyn smiled happily, purring out, "Hey gorgeous!"

Christine looked around at the others before she focused back on Mei. "Uh, sure, of course," she said, confused as to why now she was being singled out.

Once Christine had joined her a little ways away from the rest of the group, Mei pulled a piece of paper from her leather jacket. She offered it over to her, with a smile. "Admiral Chlan wrote me this after I stumbled a bit, I thought it might help you." She smirked, "You're a great officer, and once you read it, you'll see what I mean. Not many better than Relau at pointing that kind of thing out." She adjusted giving a little bow, shifting the letter to offer it a bit more formally.

"Oh," Christine said, as she took the letter with both hands and held it in front of her for a minute, staring down at it. "Thank you, I guess, and thank Relau." A few tears appeared and threatened to fall down, mostly in regards to the frustration she currently felt about earlier events. She willed them away for fear her makeup would run, save one or two that escaped and she quickly wiped them away. Instead of opening it right away, with shaking hands she shoved it in her jacket pocket. "Thanks again," she mumbled quietly and recrossed her arms in front of her.

"You are welcome - and, you need to know you are one of the best." Sun said. "Now, for a while, lets just eat and drink and talk about something not work related."

It was at this point that Lyn and James rejoined the other two ladies. "Eating sounds great," Lyn chirped."I will have to pass on the drinks, though. Someone has to drive home."

-----

Captain Sun Mei Xiang

Commander Karsel'Lyn Lylyl-Llytherraias

Lieutenant Commander James Barnes

Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

 

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