Season 2: Episode 3: Determination is not always a good thing
Location: Deep Space Nine
Timeline: during Elysium's return trip
On her way to the replimat, Jessica walked past a... horse? She stopped and blinked. She had seen many strange-looking aliens during her short stay on Deep Space Nine, but this one was new. Not meaning to be rude, but simply because she was surprised, she stared.
Transfixed to his PADD as always S'hib slowed his meandering to a stop as he caught a pair of eyes staring at him. Not the first or the last, he was sure of that, to be looking at him in bewilderment. "Can I help you miss?" he asked politely, his nostrils flaring slightly as he placed the PADD along with both hands behind his back.
"Uhm, I don't know", Jessica said, caught staring without realising she had been. "I, uhm, I've never seen someone like you before. I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be annoying."
"Ah. Yes, well the novelty of being part of a species that tends to be content with staying home is that when one does leave, we tend to stick out." S'hib snorted, with a slight smirk. "I'm S'hib," He added before outstretching his four-digit hand towards the woman before him. "And you might be?" He finished with a slight tilt of his head.
"Oh, I'm Jessica Clarke", the woman said as she shook his hand. "I'm just a civilian, waiting for opportunities to earn a living in this world." Her clothes marked her out as having worked that day, it showed signs of the typical things found in cargo holds, mostly dust. "Ordinary human, as they say. As if we're the standard by which everyone else is being measured."
"I wouldn't be here about to start exploring the galaxy if it wasn't for humans doing what they do best," S'hib replied, trying to improve the woman's outlook. "There's nothing ordinary about any of you." He added.
"I try to be as ordinary as I can", Jessica smiled. "I'm sorry for staring." She fidgeted with the belt she had tied around her hips, to keep her coverall in place. "I was just about to get some food at the replimat. It's free, and it's very good. I can definitely recommend the roasted heart of targ."
"That sounds... Awful," S'hib said trying to keep a straight face before letting out a small laugh. "My people don't eat meat, But... I will join you and see what else they serve." He added, still laughing awkwardly to himself.
"Oh, right, I should have guessed you're vegetarian", Jessica blushed. "Well, you can replicate pretty much everything. Come, let me show you the way." She had experience on Deep Space Nine, almost two weeks now. She felt like she knew the small station inside and out. There really wasn't much to discover, the bulk of the publicly accessible space was just corridors that led to either quarters or cargo space, anyway, and those looked all exactly the same, and pretty dark and gloomy. Only the promenade was a cheerful and comfortable place.
"Of course," S'hib replied cheerily. In truth, he wasn't even remotely hungry. But the sudden pleasant company was a welcome distraction from his PADD and his worries. "So what brings you all the way out to DS9 to find a living?" He added curiously, Hoping he wasn't prying too much into someone he had only just met.
"I was picked up by Gleg, the Dai'Mon of a Ferengi Marauder", Jessica said, "he dropped me off here." She quickly narrated the story of how she got to where she was, sparing her companion the gritty and unfortunate details for the entire horrible affair. "So here I am, full of wonder and a little intimidated. Okay, a lot."
Frowning for a moment after listening to her story the tall Sequus shook his head briefly as if to shake the bad thoughts out of his skull. "Jessica, you aren't the only one that's intimidated by all of this." He said, motioning his hands at the station around them as they approached what he thought was the Replimat. "There is a reason my people tend to stay to themselves," S'hib added looking back at Jessica. "I've been here like two days and already had a fight with a Klingon." he snorted with a bleak look to his eyes as he over analysed the report in his head again.
"They do like to fight, don't they?" Jessica asked. Her own experience with Klingons had been positive, so she couldn't complain. "If I understand correctly, most of us humanoids are descended from predator species. You aren't, are you? Must be a very different outlook on life." She approached the replicator and grabbed a generous helping of roasted targ. She enjoyed trying all the various foods the menu had to offer, just not one at a time. She had put on a few pounds since her rescue but she did not want to get fat. Her current shape, she figured, was just right.
"The Sequus haven't been prey for a long, long time," S'hib said sullenly as his head followed Jessica's plate in bemusement. "We learnt how to protect ourselves rather quickly." He added, before browsing the replicator's menu. "We became a very socially orientated species, we live and move around in vast herds." S'hib trailed off as he finally selected something and it began materialising. "As such, when we are on our own we become... slightly uncomfortable." He finished, picking up a large bowl of soup, bright pink leaves and flower heads floating amongst the thick vegetable broth.
"You're always stronger in a group of peers", Jessica agreed. That much she knew. She'd just never found any peers until recently. Not people she could trust, anyway. She picked a table and sat down. "I take it, it's not the same feeling with your fellow Starfleet people?"
"Sadly no," S'hib sighed as he placed his bowl down before sitting across from Jessica. "Though I'm sure once I get to know more people on the Elysium I'll be able to relax." He added with a slight smile. "Just got to find a new herd."
Jessica smiled. "That's where I'm going, too. I got notice this morning, I'll be a waitress onboard. I'll get to see the galaxy, maybe even take some engineering classes."
Looking up from his spoon with pleasant surprise S'hib almost missed his mouth before sipping gently at his meal. "That's great, definitely better than being cooped up on this place." S'hib finished before realising he was staring intently at Jessica, a common trait his people did when bonding that did not carry over well to other species. "Hopefully they'll have this on board." He spurted, hurrying back to his soup.
She didn't have a leg to stand on, to complain about staring, and so she said nothing. "I'm sure they've got everything you can imagine and more", Jessica said. The Elysium was the exact opposite of what she had known in her life, it was an almost decadent place of luxury she was certain she could spend a lifetime and then some exploring, if given the chance.
"Well if they don't I know who to complain to." S'hib quipped before snorting out a laugh, pointing his spoon at Jessica teasingly.
"You do that. I'll soon be familiar with the entire menu", Jessica boasted. She was something of a quick study, so she figured she wouldn't have to disappoint.
"I'll hold you to that." S'hib snapped back playfully, "But I'm sure you'll do just fine, Starfleet only asks that you try your best." He added, scooping up a small flower bud onto his spoon. "The captain might be important," S'hib mumbled as he quickly chewed the small flower. "But without you and the rest of the civilian staff keeping everyone's bellies full..." He finished, giving her a look that needed no other explanation.
"Yes, everyone would always eat straight from the replicator", Jessica finished his sentence. "Which I still don't understand why people are complaining about it. It's the best food I've ever had."
"I think it's not so much the food being replicated, but more the lack of a human touch," S'hib replied. "You could argue there isn't any point to a mess hall if everyone can replicate food in their quarters, But people don't go there for the food, real or replicated." He added looking around at everyone sat enjoying each others company before looking back at Jessica. "I'm not even hungry. Yet, here I am." He said smiling before spooning more soup into his mouth.
"But they still complain about it", Jessica smirked. "Well, some do."
“Can’t please them all.” S’hib sighed. “But if you do get any trouble makers on the Elysium, Just give me a call.” He added with a slight grin.
"With what I've seen of Starfleet, I'm not worried", Jessica said. "I don't see anyone aboard such a flagship picking on a waitress. At least not in an unwelcome fashion."
Nodding in agreement while swallowing a mouthful of soup S'hib tilted his head slightly. "So what got you interested in engineering?" He said curiously.
"I was pretty handy with mechanical things when I was young", Jessica said. "I just thought I could learn something useful, catch up to Starfleet's level of technology."
"Well good for you, I hope the captain will be accommodating and maybe introduce you to the chief engineer, get you shadowing someone perhaps," S'hib said, slightly talking to himself as his mind wandered off.
"I'll ask the ops chief", Jessica said. "She's a very kind woman, and has already done a lot to help me. I hope she appreciates what little I am able to do in return."
"If someone's gone out of their way to help you then I'm sure they already appreciate what you do," S'hib replied softly, finding himself staring intently again, examining her expressions. He had always found it somewhat difficult to read other humanoids emotions in the same way they could with each other, everything was so much more simpler back home.
"No, I mean... well, in an effort to give something back", Jessica said. Her expression was fairly neutral, she had learnt not to wear her heart on her sleeve, as showing most emotions had always been a sign of weakness, and led to danger.
"Oh, I see." He replied before pausing for a moment, thinking of his next words with a little more care. "Well, I think perhaps the best way you could do that is by focusing on yourself," S'hib added as he put his bowl to one side and gently cross his arms on the table. "Show everyone that you've taken this opportunity in your life to be someone you want to be." He finished, hoping he had conveyed his thoughts to Jessica adequately
"Oh, absolutely", Jessica said. "As soon as I find out exactly what that is."
"You and me both." S'hib replied with a slight laugh, rubbing his face with both hands. "Just gotta keep trying I suppose." He added.
Jessica finished her meal. As usual, she cleared her plate completely. She was just used to letting nothing go to waste, even if there was plenty and recycling in the replicator didn't hurt anybody. Some habits were just very deeply ingrained. "You're seem to have it all figured out, since you're already working for Starfleet."
“Oh don’t let the uniform fool you, I’m... Whats the phrase... Winging it? I think that's right.” He added with a slight sigh.
"Don't be a neigh-sayer", Jessica said.
"Why does everyone say that." S'hib snorted back, frowning cluelessly.
"Because it's funny", Jessica laughed.