Episode 1: Hell is a four letter word
Location: Estelle's and Liorga's Cabin
Estelle had taken it upon herself to bake some goodies, mostly biscuits and muffins, in a holographic oven she had had the computer spawn into the cabin. The entire space smelled of the sugary treats and Estelle held one, still warm and soft, under Liorga’s nose. “So, what’s the verdict?”
“Passes the sniff test.” Liorga nodded, then bit the muffin, “Oh, yeah…. I’m keeping you.”
Estelle picked another muffin, then plopped down on the sofa beside Liorga. “So you’ve heard Gallia’s seriously considering marrying Kara?”
“Considering? Sorry, baby, that one’s in the bag. She was even asking me what I thought she should do with her hair for the wedding.” Liorga laughed, “Me of all people! That would be like you asking me about a course of treatment for a patient.”
The chime rang, Sami Justice on the other side of the door. In her hand she held a jeweled barrette style hair clip, left behind on Cortic and somehow found its way into her bag. It had to belong to Estelle, as there was a single long blonde hair attached to it.
“Hm, a visitor”, Estelle grinned. “See, I remembered about locking the door.” But that meant she had to get up. She picked up another muffin and approached the door. Whoever it was, why not offer some food straight away? She keyed it open and smiled. “Hey, Sami. Wanna try my muffin?”
“Uh, uh…” Sami locked up for a minute, wondering if the doctor was making a pass at her. No, she decided, that wasn’t very likely, and if it was it was a pity thing at best. That’s when the smell of the cabin hit her and she realized it was a literal muffin and not a sexual metaphor, “Uh, sure, smells great.”
“She loves her euphemisms.” Liorga sighed as Sami entered, “So, what brings you by?”
“This.” She answered, holding out the hair clip, “I figure it’s yours, Doctor.” At least I hope it’s hers, Sami begged the fates, she’d be crushed if it belonged to Kovitz…
“Not mine.” Liorga joked, “That’s for sure.”
“Oh, you found it, thank you”, Estelle said, trading the clip for a muffin. “It must have fallen down the wayside.” She always used these to make sure her hair didn’t get in the way of her job. She wasn’t prepared to adopt Gallia’s solution to the ‘problem’.
“Not a problem I have.” Sami laughed, “Though long hair isn’t anywhere near as dangerous in medical as it is in engineering.”
“Fewer moving parts.” Liorga nodded.
“I’d hope so anyway.” Sami added, the idea of parts moving on their own like some idiotic old monster movie was as creepy as it was laughable.
“Come to the lab in about two months”, Estelle said. “I’m growing a voice-box. The results will speak for themselves.”
“Oh, that was bad….” Liorga groaned, some of her lover’s jokes were just terrible, this was one of them.
“See, I’d have thought you’d have made a way for speech without it.” Sami suggested, “You know, thinking outside the box?”
“And that was worse.” Liorga rolled her eyes, thankful Sami was a good engineer.
“Sadly, that’s illegal”, Estelle said. “Otherwise, I’d be tempted to get a telepathy gene going in other species, like my own. Though, I’m not so sure we’d be able to handle it.”
“I think telepathy for women is a bad idea all the way around.” Liorga stated, “If we could hear each other’s thoughts there would be little in the line of female friendships. Hell, there’d be fewer females because of everybody cutting each other.”
Estelle chucked. “I suppose. Not everyone who wants to cut becomes a surgeon.”
“Right?” Sami concurred, she’d done a lot of cutting in her past, never had any desire to be a surgeon; not that you can do a lot of surgery with a cleaver...
“I’m just thinking”, Estelle mused. “Which, I know, is dangerous. But with telepathy, I’d finally be able to understand why some people do stupid things, or rude things, or why they don’t laugh when something’s objectively funny.”
“Be careful what you wish for.” Liorga cautioned, remembering taking part in an experiment with a so called ‘truth serum’ on a prior assignment that ended a lot of friendships as well as the doctor conducting its career.
“Don’t worry”, Estelle said. “I’m not actually going to do it.” She took a bite from her muffin. “I’ll stick to culinary experiments in my free time.”
“Please do.” Sami grinned, happily munching Estelle’s muffin; not like that, pervos!
“I’ll be sure to make enough for the entire team”, Estelle smiled. “You wouldn’t mind taking a breadbox to work with you, Li?”
“Sure, baby, no problem.” Liorga agreed, the atmosphere in engineering was still kind of off, a nice treat for everybody might be the ticket.
“Have your nights been better, Sami?” Estelle asked. She just remembered she hadn’t asked, after the nightmares that came with the infection.
“Yeah, a little I suppose.” Sami answered, “Been so busy getting my applications in order and arranging a meeting with the Captain, XO, and Chief Engineer. If you’re tired enough I suppose you can sleep through anything.”
“Yeah, forgot to mention that Sami here is looking to bail for the Academy.” Liorga said sadly, though she wasn’t going to reveal the rest of Sami’s business, “Gonna miss her.”
“But it’s a wonderful opportunity, all the same”, Estelle said, not wanting to feed the sad aspect. She knew Liorga and Sami were friends, and having friends leave was never fun. “You’ll do great, I’m sure.”
“Thank you.” Sami nodded, though in truth she wasn’t so sure anymore. Maybe Li was right and she really was just running away from her problems, but there didn’t seem to be any other solution.
“Yeah, the enlisted ranks’ loss is the officer corps gain.” Liorga reassured, though her underlying feelings were already known.
“Sometimes, we officers can be useful”, Estelle said, needling Liorga. Though, for what it was worth, Estelle was a doctor and only felt the officer status was a reward for being one.
“Yeah, some of you are okay.” Sami agreed, “You, Gallia, Lt. Hoffman, Anje…” Yeah, of the officers she knew or had dealings with here those were the ones she listed as being okay, she made a significant, if unnoticed, omission from the list.
“I’ve even managed to make peace with Kara”, Estelle smiled. “Or she with me. I’m not sure what would be more accurate.”
“Either or.” Liorga shrugged, “All adds up the same way.”
“That reminds me.” Sami remembered, “I’ve got something I want to give Gallia to give to Tayalas. I bought it earlier on DS9, hopefully they’re still up…”
“Knowing that child, probably most of the night”, Estelle winked.
“Yeah, she’s a cutie.” Sami smiled, she was definitely going to miss seeing that little girl grow up.
“Reminds me, someone here offered to let Hoffman and Gallia have a night off.” Liorga began, turning to Estelle, “Seems we’re going to be babysitting soon.”
Estelle nodded. “I’ve already made some preparations for that. I’m going to make traditional Andorian baby food. And I’ve ordered a bottle of real Andorian ale, none of that synthetic stuff.” She smiled at Liorga. “You’re going to love it.”
“Andorian ale?” Sami raised an eyebrow as she looked to Liorga, “She doesn’t mean for the baby, does she?”
“I have no clue…” Liorga shrugged, “Uh, ‘Stelle, who’s the booze for?”
“For us”, Estelle said. “Don’t worry, I’m not planning to get us drunk. I might not have experience as a mother but I’m not totally daft.”
“Never thought you were, love.” Liorga said comfortingly, though the truth was she was a little worried that there might be an Andorian physiology lecture forthcoming.
But Estelle wasn’t much in a lecturing mood. She was much happier eating. “So, Sami, have you picked a major yet?”
“I’ll stick with engineering.” Sami said quickly, noting the smile it brought from Liorga, “It’s what I know and what I love. Though, Mona Lott was telling me about maybe pursuing the Marine track and becoming a combat engineer, so that’s something to think about.”
“I figured you’d want to remain an engineer”, Estelle said. “I might be sounding incredibly stupid here, but in my field, I could have specialised into, say, reproductive medicine, or internal medicine, or microbiology. Aren’t there sub-fields of engineering?”
“Oh, yeah, dozens of them.” Sami replied, “Technically my specialty is damage control.”
“And mine was warp fields, then I moved into damage control.” Liorga interjected, “I’ve also sub-specialized in weapons systems and shields.”
“Yes, you never did tell me how you knew so much about that gun that you absolutely had to go back there”, Estelle said.
“My field engineering team maintained and installed them during the war.” Liorga replied, “That was definitely not the first M-1 ground to orbit cannon I’ve worked on, though I’ll admit I was surprised to find one all the way out here.”
“You were on a field engineering team during the war, Li?” Sami asked, awed, she’d no idea her mentor had been a combat engineer, “And worked on the M-1?”
“That’s how I ended up in command of the team.” Liorga sighed, “Lieutenant Strode, he was in charge when a bunch of Jemmys ambushed us trying to install one somewhere in the Bajor sector, he got taken out by a grenade… Managed to hold them off, get the M-1 installed and operating, next day they gave me the silver star and a pip and a half.”
“And you didn’t want to remain an officer, enjoy all those perks?” Estelle wondered. This was the first time she heard Liorga had been one.
“It was a temporary field commission.” Liorga shrugged, “I wasn’t really given the option of keeping it. Still got the pips somewhere. Maybe when Sami makes ranks I’ll give them to her.”
“I do hope you’ll apply to come back to us once you graduate?” Estelle asked, looking at Sami.
“Maybe.” Sami answered, turning her eyes downward to hide her sadness, “Never know where the fates will take us.”
“Probably won’t be long, either.” Liorga added, “With your time in and your prior training they’ll probably make you a second year cadet.”
“I don’t believe in fate”, Estelle said. “But I do believe in willpower and everybody’s capacity to do well.”
“Sometimes things are beyond our control.” Sami sighed, it seemed most things were beyond her control, and all the willpower in the galaxy couldn’t make Anya love her, “I don’t know what else to call it if not fate.”
“Chance”, Estelle suggested. “Circumstances. Fate makes it sound like it’s already set in stone, and whatever happens will happen regardless of our actions. And if that were true, why even get up in the mornings? Yes, coffee is a great motivator, but there’s more to the question of life, the universe and everything than cold numbers, no matter how appealing 42 is.”
“Forty two?” Sami asked, then remembered, “Hitchhikers guide, right.”
“Ask Case.” Liorga laughed, the Ops officer’s flying tray was memorable to say the least.
“Yes, classic Douglas Adams”, Estelle grinned. “He was ahead of his time in many ways.”
“Right.” Sami laughed, “Well, speaking of time, I guess I should get moving, drop this off by Gallia’s place, hopefully Tay will remember me if we never see each other again.”
“Never say never.” Liorga shook her head, wishing she could convince Sami to stay, there was still more she could teach the younger woman.
“Take some food for them, too?” Estelle asked. “I mean, since you’re going, anyway?”
“Sure.” Sami smiled, she was happy to help her friends, at least one more time.