A rough among the diamonds Pt.1
Season 3- Episode 4 - Cause and Effect
Location: Holodeck, Sequella
Timeline: MD 6
"Computer search for instances or phrases in the holo-program database for references to Sequella." River stood wearing a silk kimono embroidered with a jade dragon running along her right flank. Today was also the day she had decided to try something new with her hair, today she had dyed her hair with purple highlights and curled it so she now had some 'bounce' or so she had described it to her mother back on Elas. Also upon her head was the all too the normal gold circlet.
"There is one program on file that matches your search parameters," The Computer chimed in response almost instantly.
"Compute run program and lock doors behind me." River waited for the acknowledging beep and the doors to open before stepping through the threshold. The first thing she was hit by was the heat which was like stepping off a shuttle in Risa but much more intense, S'hib wasn't lying. The next was the fact she was standing on a bright orange beach and just how beautiful everything was. "Interesting," She said as she began padding barefoot down the sand after having kicked off her sandals and left them in them where she had done so.
The sun hung low in the sky as River explored her surroundings, the clear waters along the coast shimmered brightly with deep pinks and pastel oranges, blending the horizon past the myriad of forested islands into the sky itself.
Along the winding beach Sequus lounged on the hot sand, enjoying the last of the warmth as the large sun slowly fell towards the ocean, a process that took considerably longer than on earth.
The sea air, however, was still thick and hot despite the day drawing to an end, blowing gently through the large twisted branches and leaves that hung over the edge of the beach, the trees wide and knotted, swollen from their own bulk and the plethora of vines that fused onto them.
River had walked down to where the sand met the ocean, her kimono hanging lazily off her shoulders sitting neatly in the crooks of her arms, the bottom of which damp as it dragged on the floor behind her. and her hair blowing gracefully with the wind. The sand between her toes reminded her of the beaches on Elas, she was lucky it was so late as the beach had clearly cooled otherwise her feet wouldn't be able to bear the heat.
Walking slowly along the beach she had waded into the water to her knees, the cool crispness of it a contrast to the warm breeze made her shiver. Slowly slipping off the final part of her dress she balled it up and threw it to the beach where it landed a few feet into the sand she kept her gold circlet firmly on her head, she had no desire to get her hair wet this time.
"Attention, file Sequella Beta has been activated on holodeck two." Chimed the computer inside S'hibs quarters, jolting him from his peaceful meditation on the floor.
"By whom?" S'hib questioned curiously, wondering if it was Lia.
"Ensign River Lokaa," Replied the computer with its deadpan voice somehow sounding amused. "Shall I terminate the holoprogram?"
S'hib sat there for a moment thinking in silence, his hands cupped between his crossed legs. "No, that won't be necessary." He finally replied before raising from the floor.
Back on the holodeck River had attracted the attention of a native Sequus Matriarch, the large and imposing woman wading into the water while two sovereigns stood guard on the water's edge, Phase staffs in hand.
The Matriarch was midnight black from crest to hoof, adorned with intricate patterns and symbols shaved into her coat. The simple but effective Sequus tattoos not only showed one's status but allowed them to express themselves.
Her mane and tail were terribly long, flowing down her back and into the water like a curtain of hair that trailed several feet behind her. And around her neck sat rings upon rings of silver with chains that flowed over her shoulders and large breasts.
"We don't get many visitors whom are so ready to embrace Sequella and it's ways..." The Matriarch snorted deeply, her voice rich and intoxicating. "What is your name little filly." She added, running her hands over the edge of the water.
If she knew she had been watched River would not have so quickly exposed herself. However now already having been seen she was far less bothered by her nakedness she was however bothered by the interruption. "I am River Lokaa, daughter of Elas and who... are you?" It wasn't often River used her title, but she figured she'd allow herself to divulge her Elasian traits this once, and besides she could just delete them from the program.
"I am high priestess El'Shido, but you may call me Shea." The Matriarch spoke as she approached River, taking one of Rivers hands firmly between two hoofed digits, examining her palm and fingers with avid interest.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Shea." She spoke watching as her hands were slowly examined, the motion meaning River could also examine Shea more closely. "The markings on your body, what is their significance?" she asked, River had no body markings of her own but she had always thought about it, maybe her families crest or something completely new she hadn't decided.
"They have many meanings," Shea spoke, only really paying half interest in the conversation, her thoughts elsewhere as she examined the humanoid before here. "My Priestess status..." She continued, loosely pointing to an intricate crest on her chest, the wings of such extenuating her curves. "Those whom I call my lovers..." Shea added, pointing to dozens of rings that wrapped around the width of her thick upper arms, highlighting the unquestionable strength she possessed.
Then without speaking another word she let go of Rivers' hand and placed a single hoofed digit under her chin, lifting her head high with a deep snort. "You humanoids are very delicate..." She frowned, sounding somewhat disappointed.
River didn't appreciate the new contact, she was unsure if this was a threat or a mere observation, growing as tall as she could in the water "I think you'd find this humanoid a little stronger than most and as the Earth saying goes 'The bigger they are the harder you will fall. Unsure if Shea was issuing a threat River figured she'd play herself up first, her small size and agility would be her key asset. She wasn't going to shy away from the Sequus Matriarch.
Shea simply laughed loudly, the sound of which rumbled over the waves and piqued the interest of the guards as though they had never heard her make such a sound. "Oh, little filly..." She said leaning in closer. "It's dangerous to expose so much fire when surrounded by water." Shea smiled, her warning loud and clear as she moved deeper into the clear water.
Feeling that she was being circled by sharks she now kept Shea at a reasonable distance moving counterclockwise to the female Sequus and towards shallower water she'd be able to move a lot quicker without being hindered by the deeper water. "Fire and water create steam which can be even more so painful when tempered" She replied dangerously keeping Shea and her guards in view. River wondered how S'hib came from this planet he was nothing like these members of his species.
"Come." Was all Shea said as she waded further into the ocean waters, her two accompanying guards now levelling their staffs at River with the implication that she best do as she is told.
Realising that there was no fair fight and that she was enjoying the different interactions River turned her back to the two males on the shore and turned to Shea. She wanted to say some snappy remark but didn't have anything come to mind so instead, she waded back into the deep the water now touching her belly button and slowly creeping to her breasts.
Outside S'hib had now arrived, yawning wide as he examined the LCARs panel. "Computer, unlock the door... Security override Theta Siera Two." He snorted lazily, yawning once more as the computer chimed in response.
"Oh, dear..." Was all S'hib muttered to himself as he walked inside, making note of the two sovereigns pointing their weapons at River. "Computer, relock the door." He groaned as he started trotting down the beachfront.
"How much further" River finally asked annoyed and the water now over her breasts, but not going any deeper until she finally got an answer and far enough way her male companions couldn't get involved for at least a few seconds. She was beginning to wonder if running the simulation just as S'hib had left it was a good idea or not.
As S'hib approached the two guards shifted their attention towards him, levelling their staffs and shouting at him in native Sequellian.
However, he was not in the mood for playing ambassador, instead, continuing to move towards the water's edge, stubbornly ignoring their demands until the closest levelled his staff under his arm and fired.
"Computer pause!" He snorted angrily before passing through the two holographic guards, the phaser beam lighting up the red sand behind him. "You have no idea how lucky you are this is all a simulation Ensign." S'hib scowled, his tail lashing out behind him. "Sequella is not a pleasure planet, there are strict cultural protocols that must be adhered too."
River hadn't even realised S'hib had entered until he spoke. Well, spoke was an understatement shouted at her was more akin to what he had done. "I didn't know what to expect, I wanted to try something new and completely naively. I felt it inappropriate to ask you to join me." She called back to the shore, she turned to Shea and shook her head. "Was she going to try and drown me?" She asked making her way back to shore her hair from the shoulders down now wet and the sea salt clashing with her now purple ringlets.
"What? no... we're not savages." S'hib said almost taken aback by her comment. "But you have to understand, there are things you can and cannot do..." He said as he watched her move ashore, his voice firm but no longer a shout.
"And being in the water at this time of the day is one of those things you must not do." He snorted, letting out a long sigh afterwards.
Now almost out the water River paused for a moment, "Ok, no swimming during the evening, why?. Maybe you'd take me through some other more pressing things I should know before I head into the city?" River had spotted the city as she entered the program, It was after all pretty hard to miss but she had decided on a quick dip to wash away the heat of the planet before walking there, that was however until Shea and her goons turned up. Resuming her stride she found herself now full out of the water the heat drying her quickly as the remaining drops fell off her skin.
S'hib rubbed his eyes for a moment before running his hands down his long face, casting his frustration away from himself as though it was something real and cohesive.
"The passing of the day into the long night is sacred to my people... the ocean touches the veil between that passing, where the sun sets into the ocean," S'hib explained, trailing his hand down from where he could see the low sun. "During that time, when the sky joins with the ocean the Mortuary cult can commune with the dead... you, for all intents and purposes were just walking among a sea of dead souls..."
Turning to look over her shoulder the sun was just slipping past the horizon what had been an innocent sunset swim had become something quite intrusive. "Oh" River replied her normal arrogant toughness expelled. "I'm sorry, I should have researched your people's customs, or at the least asked you." River for the first time since she could remember felt... embarrassed. "And Shea, she is apart of the Mortuary cult?"
"The whole point of this program is to teach others about my people and my world, and yes, she is part of the Mortuary cult..." He said with a slight smile forming. "My guess is she was going to make sure you had not been possessed before letting you leave the water."
"Well, that sounds a whole lot better than my theory of attempted drowning" River replied her confidence gaining again as she picked her sand-covered clothes of the floor. "Sooo, since you're here want to teach me more about your people?" She asked before frowning "Wait how did you get in and how did you know I was here. Lieutenant S'hib are you stalking me?" She joked.
"Since this program is still in development I asked the computer to inform me anytime it is accessed so I can make sure there are no alterations or glitches... as for how I got in here, I used the door, Ensign." S'hib grinned before walking off down the beach.
"Computer set time to midday and resume program." He added, closing his eyes as he did so in anticipation for the blinding change about to happen.
River, however, was not so prepared and was caught off guard and mid-jog as she tried to catch up with S'hib. Behind them the three other Sequella disappearing with the sky turning from sunset orange to blinding midday sun, the heat changing with it. Blinking her eyes several times she adjusted them to the new light and bumped into S'hib "Oh! Warning please next time" She said shaking her head and the collision away.
S'hib simply smiled, enjoying the little punishment a bit too much as she staggered about her feet.
Luckily for River, the UV rays on Elas were similar here, she checked that at least and her skin was already a beautiful rose gold color. "So, does everyone from your race have body art?" She asked thinking back to Shea's markings and how beautiful they were.
"Most will have the markings to some degree, though it is an individual preference... others instead use very dry paint or dyes." S'hib remarked as he continued on his way towards the city.
Having a million and one burning questions about the markings she decided to use the time instead, gaining little bits of information about lots of things. "So you have the Mortuary Cult are their others? On Elas we have our main government but within in that, we have clans I am Clan Lokaa... Obviously." She said matching S'hibs pace.
"The Mortuary Cult is the religious arm of the Matriarchal sect, they are a ruling cast on Sequella... and often have the most political power though they seldom use it," S'hib explained as he slowed down, realising he was forcing River into an uneasy jog.
"The Royal Guard and Navy are the military arms of the Monarchy, though the two Sovereigns you saw earlier are members of the Mortuary Cult... their role is to protect the Mortuary Cult and are only allowed to breed within its inner circle." S'hib continued, looking up at the vast glistening towers while starting to regret coming in his uniform. "Did I mention my world is a little bit complicated..."
Listening intently she continued to follow S'hib, his world may be complicated but was exciting and new. She loved listening about the different supporting sects and the mysterious mortuary cult and how they only breed within their own commune which to River sounded like an excuse for inbreeding. As they neared the city its towers glistening in the midday sun she turned to ask, "And what is your role in it all?"
"When my herd left Sequella... we had to leave a lot of who we are behind, It would not be possible for me to have a role in Sequella or its sects as well as be in Starfleet."
Happy with the answer he gave her River then turned to the next line of questions and something she had been wanting to bring up but not having the courage to do so. "S'hib" She said as the walk slowed, "I am naked, the others of your species are well naked and you are not..." She wondered if he knew where she was going with her line of thought.
"I know, I was hoping you wouldn't enquire but I suppose it's only fair I answer now that you have," S'hib said as he came to a stop and turned to River, his eyes remaining fixed with hers. "It's to do with the fact I am dating someone on board, someone who... as of yet does not fully understand me or my people, which is my fault... I thought it wouldn't be an issue, and I was wrong." He said turning back to the city looming over them. "I've not had the courage, yet, to bring her here." S'hib sighed, glancing around at his world and his people, wishing desperately to be stood there with Naxea instead.
"You would rather her be here," River said sadly, "but surly being naked shouldn't bother you as much as it does? It's apart of who you are," Thinking for a moment to choose her words carefully as not to upset Shib. "I am sure she would want to be included in this part of your life, you wear clothes for her I bet, and do human things for her? Why shouldn't she try something like this for."
She turned to face the way they had walked to hide the annoyance that had suddenly crept up on her before facing him again. "If me being naked and attempting to learn your species customs bothers you then ill continue alone, you did after all come here."
"It doesn't bother me, what is though is the fact I don't know how to blend this..." He said waving his hand around before moving a single finger to his comm badge. "With this, without upsetting people."
"But you shouldn't have to worry!" River said a little too passionately, "Starfleet prides itself about being diverse and inclusive." She bit her lip before adding "And quite frankly I think your girlfriend is missing out by not coming here and should think herself lucky to be even given the opportunity to learn about it.
Now I'm going to go explore your homeworld with or without you, and you've seen how without ended up but if you're coming your embracing your own culture and if your girlfriend or anyone has anything to say about it then I'll just... throw them out the airlock or something." River knew she may have been crossing boundaries but she was genuinely annoyed how someone couldn't practice their own culture in an organisation as openly diverse as Starfleet and ok maybe she was more open and free-willed but if S'hibs girlfriend loved him then surely she'd happily strip off here or anywhere!
"I need to go..." S'hib replied sadly before taking a step towards the treeline. "But I won't leave you completely helpless to my world," He said with his breathing becoming somewhat laboured. "Computer activate the training wheels subroutine, and show me the arch." He finished, taking in an audible inhale as he pushed on out into the corridor, fumbling with a pouch on his belt.
"Greetings, I am the Sequellan cultural and planetary tour guide." Remarked a hologram as it fluttered into existence, spouting off his prescripted dialogue. "But you may call me, Tour." he nodded, his brown mane falling over of his face as he stepped in front of River. "However, please be aware my program is limited as I am still learning."
River had watched S'hib leave and chastised herself, she'd done it again upset someone because she couldn't keep her mouth shut. None the less she picked herself up and turned to Tour "Well that makes two of us, maybe we can teach each other some new things!" She said all too happily trying to make up for the sadness of S'hibs departure, she'd have to apologies to him later but for now, she had some exploring to do.
To be Continuedd
Ensign River Lokaa