Season 2: Mission 2: Just Breath
Timeline: downtime after the battle
The repairs to the Elysium were now done, the crew back in their own beds, and the Cardilles were back and harassing her hard. Waking up to a message from their lawyer had had it’s usual effect, sending the baby to the nursery and sending her to the range. While most of the lanes were reserved for phasers and other energy weapons, but there were a precious few lanes still set aside for ballistics, mostly for the Marines to use their TR-116s and TR-110s, but right now one was hers. She stood at the bench, loading the ancient revolver that had been passed through her family line since World War II. The Webley was heavy and elegant, firing a powerful .455 bullet, and, according to her father anyway, had been the terror of the Heer. Loading the cylinder and bringing it shut, she took aim at her target, unloading all six rounds in fifteen seconds; she hit twice. She looked at the target and shrugged, “Well, better than usual.”
“You’ll get better accuracy if you lower your rate of fire”, Anya recommended as she walked by and noticed the shooting. “These old chemical propellants produce a significant amount of recoil, and by allowing some time to compensate, you’ll have more effect on your target.” Anya looked at the oddly-shaped firearm. In the various holodeck programmes she enjoyed, she’d never used one quite like it.
“Ya think so?” Gallia inquired, it made sense, especially since she was barely competent with a weapon. She emptied the cylinder and showed it to the other woman, a pretty brunette, “Was ma grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s gun over five centuries ago when he was an officer in the British Royal Army. A .455 Webley. Beautiful piece for five hundred sixty years old, huh?”
“I’m surprised it still works, and isn’t locked away in a museum somewhere”, Anya agreed. “I take it there’s a story attached to it, as an important family heirloom?” She couldn’t imagine why else someone would keep such an item around over the generations. As a mere curiosity, it would eventually get lost, sold or damaged, she figured. “Basically, all weapons have recoil. Even phasers, for while the phased nadions have no mass, they do have momentum, which is conserved. Only, with phasers it’s so little that we don’t notice, not even the big guns on ships. With these, chemicals expand in volume, and the pressure propels the projectile. All that force is transferred into your hands. You have to aim again with each separate shot.”
“Aye, that I do.” Gallia nodded, pointing towards her target, “Not very good is it?”
“Depends. If this is your first time trying, it’s not bad at all”, Anya smiled. “These weapons are notoriously inaccurate, which is why they were only used at short range. And even then, lots of accidents in the day.”
“I suppose.” Gallia shrugged, “And, no, not my first time. Owned this weapon since my Dad died, not gotten very good with it I’m afraid. Course, he wasn’t much good with it, either. Maybe I should bring the target in closer?”
Anya looked at it and figured the target was about fifteen metres away. “There are two tricks you can use to increase your accuracy. One is very simple, the other takes a little more work. If you’d like, and if you’d let me shoot your revolver a few times for demonstration purposes, I can teach you.”
“Please do, Miss…” Gallia began, then paused, she didn’t have a clue who this woman was, “Didnae catch your name.”
“Anya Neeze”, she replied. “Which, in your case, might not be such a bad idea. But a firm stance will do.” She grinned and held her hand out for the weapon.
“Gallia Norris.” She introduced herself as she turned over the weapon, “And my sister was the Marine, I’m but a simple engineer who had to try twice to pass phaser training in the Academy. Guess that shows, hey?”
“I haven’t been to the Academy, I’m just a Petty Officer. But I love to fight, it’s in my blood.” She winked. “Don’t tell the Klingons, the might get jealous.” She held the weapon in her right hand and pointed it at the target. “Now, the simplest way to improve your aim is this… you point your weapon in the general direction you want to shoot. You can even hold it closer to you, shoot from the hip. Then, once you’ve seen what you’ve hit, you’ll declare that your intended target. Only way to achieve a hundred per cent accuracy with this thing.”
“Very funny.” Gallia scoffed, “So, show me what you can do with it then. Can ya back up that talk, pretty lady?”
“If you allow me two or three misses to get used to it? Sure”, Anya nodded. “Oh, and the nickname’s Toasty Buns. Freshly acquired, and I like it.” She took the revolver into both hands and aimed down the middle, with outstretched arms, legs spread apart. “Much more trouble to go through than for a hand phaser”, she remarked. She could shoot that one one-handed, easily. She squeezed off a shot and hit slightly below the centre, not a miss but far from a clean hit. “See, I overcompensated for the kick it has, and the shot went low. The only way to get better at this is practising, getting used to just how much force you need.”
“Aye, I see that.” Gallia nodded, Anya had already proven better with that weapon than she was, “By the way, Toasty Buns? What’d ya do ta get that?” Gallia knew there had to be an interesting story behind a nickname like Toasty Buns.
“Graze shot to the butt”, Anya said. “Those hijackers, they didn’t play fair. We, at least, had our phasers set to stun. They wanted to roast us. I hate that.” She squeezed off a second shot, this time it landed closer to the target. “It’s a good weapon. With careful aiming, and some experience, you’ll do well.” She smiled and handed it back to its rightful owner.
“Okay, let’s see if that helps.” Gallia smiled, accepting her weapon back and turning back to the target, “Okay, here goes nothin’....” She tucked the weapon in close to herself and took one slow shot, hitting just above and to the left of bullseye, the second shot hit near the same place, maybe a half inch right.
“Not bad”, Anya approved. Once some techniques were known, this woman seemed to possess some real talent. “Now stretch out your arms. The more distance there is between your eyes and the tip of the barrel, the better your targeting angle, and the less of an error you’ll produce.” This was true even for weapons that had no noticeable recoil.
“Alright.” Gallia nodded, stretching her arms out as far as they would go, focusing on the sight at the very end and slowly squeezing the trigger, this shot hitting just above bullseye. Making an adjustment her next shot hit dead center, “Well, ain’t that something…”
“That was a lot faster than I’d have expected from an engineer”, Anya teased.
“Right, next we’ll let you replace a warp coil.” Gallia laughed, “So, a pretty woman who knows her weapons, a shooty beauty as it were. You’ve gotta be very popular around here.”
“I hope so, ma’am”, Anya smiled. “I only just arrived. I didn’t even get to report in to my department head yet. She hit her head. I’ll try later today, maybe she’s been released?”
“Don’t remember seein’ anybody from security when I was in sickbay.” Gallia shrugged as she dumped the empty cartridges into her hand, she’d need to recycle them so she could make more later, “It was basically an engineerin’ convention in there. Kid named Case in there with half a leg gone, me in the burn ward…”
“Uh… yeah, don’t remind me”, Anya groaned. “When that happened to me, I had to transfer to a different ship just to get away from that overzealous counsellor who couldn’t accept that it was fine, with the leg replaced and functioning good as new.”
“So you’ve lost one, too?” Gallia raised an eyebrow, “Maybe you and Case can talk, help him out. By the way, leg seems to be doin’ good for ya, didn’t even notice.”
“It’s not a big deal”, Anya shrugged. “Takes a few weeks to grow a new one, then it’s attached, two or three months to get used to it, train the muscles again, and you’re golden. Problem starts if there’s complications, but mine’s a perfect fit. It’s like changing that warp coil you mentioned earlier. If you’re not given defective parts, you shouldn’t notice a difference, after calibrations.”
“Now yar speakin’ ma language!” Gallia grinned broadly, letting her full Scottish out, “So, Anya, quite a beauty ya are. From Aberdeen are ya?”
Anya was puzzled. “I, uh… yes, how did you know?” Gallia certainly didn’t look or sound like any Betazoid she’d ever seen. “My mother had to take me somewhere else when I was just a few weeks old, though.”
“Your mum a Scot?” Gallia raised an eyebrow.
“A damage control engineer, stationed there when I was born”, Anya explained.
“And what was she doin’ damage control on in Aberdeen, Scotland?” Gallia asked, something seemed off here.
“No, not Scotland… U.S.S. Aberdeen, Ambassador class cruiser. Beautiful ship, even though I don’t remember her and have only ever seen her in holovids”, Anya said.
And there it was, Gallia laughed internally, “Well, any Aberdeen is beautiful, even if it isn’t the original.” She said, “Ambassador class, nice.”
“I’m still confused as to how you knew, or guessed. I’ve certainly not got any local accent. Both my parents were born off-world, and their parents, too.”
“Easy.” Gallia laughed, “As ma dear ol’ dad once told me, ‘Gallia ma girl, the galaxy is fulla beautiful women, but the prettiest come from right here in Aberdeen!’ and he was convinced even after bein’ ta over a thousand worlds so it had ta be true, di’nt it?”
“I’ve seen some Trill women I’m plenty jealous of, so I don’t know”, Anya offered. “But I wouldn’t rule it out.”
“Aye, those spots.” Gallia nodded in agreement, “I’m fond a’ Bajorans with them nose ridges, too. They’re just cute.”
“At the risk of sounding like a pervert, there’s definitely something about my room mate. But she’s Deltan, I think it’s those pheromones I’ll just need to get out of my system”, Anya admitted. “Not natural, at least not for me as a humble little human.”
“Funny you should mention that, I’ve a Deltan on my damage control team.” Gallia laughed, “A real beauty, she is. Intimidatin’ as a pissed off Gorn meetin’ a handsy prom date, though.”
“We might be talking about the same one”, Anya concluded. “Not that many of them around. But intimidating? Peaceful, serene, some anger issues maybe but nothing major.”
“Can’t be the same one then.” Gallia shook her head, “Never met a Second Class as intimidatin’ and with as much command presence as Liorga…”
“Definitely the same one. But I’ve only met her off-duty, maybe that’s the reason… besides, two women of the same rank in one cabin, you either get along or you look for a new room mate”, Anya smirked. “Not that you’ll need to worry about that. The Elysium is a big ship, and you’re an officer.”
“Aye, an Ensign.” Gallia laughed, “Surprised they didn’t put me an’ ma kid in the nursery. Hopin’ ta have a roommate actually, I’ve never lived alone for any extended period before.”
“You have a child? Well, you won’t be alone then”, Anya offered. “You’ll be given bigger quarters even. Must be nice being an officer.” She winked.
“So far, so good.” Gallia shrugged, “Only been a few weeks.”
That would explain why Gallia thought someone with command presence felt intimidating, Anya thought, but she held her tongue. “Doubly lucky to get this assignment right off the bat.”
“Right, well, I did do pretty well in the Academy. Had the best rating in hands on repair exercises and I’m crosstrained in Flight Control.” Gallia replied, though her voice and demeanor never changed she now felt like she needed to defend, or at least justify, herself, “I can park a shuttle on a dime.”
“Are you sure the dime would like that?” Anya asked, trying to defuse the growing tension with humour. They had gotten on well so far, and she didn’t want to make an enemy.
“Dunno.” Gallia giggled, “None have screamed so far. Or maybe I couldnae hear ‘em under the weight of the shuttle?”
“Sounds like something you might want to investigate”, Anya suggested. She’d have to research what exactly a dime was, there seemed to be more humour to her remark than she had anticipated.
“Maybe I can get a research grant.” Gallia joked, “Spend millions of credits studying whether or not coins scream when a Scottish woman lands her shuttle on ‘em.”
Ah, a coin… “They’re made of metal, no? If you slide over them with enough pressure…”
“They’re already flat.” Gallia answered, “But we’re not talkin’ about a literal coin, in most cases anyway. More an expression than anythin’ else.”
“I know that”, Anya said. She still figured the metal could be made to emit a screeching noise, if properly motivated. “Lots of my holodeck programmes use coins as an in-game currency. 40 gold for a helmet, 20 gold for some arrows, 69 gold for the flower girl…”
Gallia caught the joke and snickered naughtily, “Clever.”
“It’s the ‘immersive wenches’ add-on you can purchase from any self-respecting Ferengi bartender in the quadrant”, Anya joked.
“Aye, I know of them.” Gallia responded, “Had a visiting science instructor in the Academy who was apparently in several of them.”
“That’s hard to believe”, Anya responded. It wasn’t impossible, but it’s certainly not something she’d expect from a scientist.
“I didnae think she was a willin’ participant.” Gallia laughed, “Though I can’t be sure.”
“I’m thinking that with how easy it is to let computers run filters for likeness or voice patterns and what not, anything of the sort distributed through Federation-controlled computer networks should get flagged and filtered immediately, if non-consensual”, Anya said. “At least, I hope so. Admittedly, not my area of expertise, computer security. I can’t intimidate computers with my phaser.”
“Well, if it happened where I think it did, it wasn’t Federation technology.” Gallia replied, “Old Cardassian tech and in a Ferengi establishment, if I remember the story right.”
“That sounds like Quark’s Bar”, Anya said. “I’ve been there recently, bought a few programmes from a merchant called… Higgs, I believe. Or was it Lepton? I might have bought from him a few years ago. They’ve usually got quality merchandise, though it’s not cheap.”
“Aye!” Gallia grinned, “Tha’s the one! Leftenant Xandari talked about it all the time. Like she enjoyed herself so much she didnae even care that the little toad that ran the place had made skin flicks of her.”
“If you want to look through them and see if she’s in there?” Anya offered. “But they’re mostly fighting programmes, and role playing games, historical stuff and fantasy.” Anya had yet to find out that she and Estelle Hertz had some of those programmes in common.
“Historical, ya say?” Gallia asked, that piqued her interests, “What periods ya got?”
“Andorian, Vulcan and Tellarite wars, from the 18th through 22nd centuries, Kahless-themed Klingon programmes…” Anya started. “Earth middle ages and antiquity, basically anything pre-gunpowder, for me to have fun with swords and spears and the like. There’s some Irish and Scottish clans fighting the Normans and the Vikings in there as well. Then some training programmes from the Dominion War, but I don’t usually share those. They still hit too close to home for many.”
“That Scottish-Norman one sounds like fun.” Gallia said quickly, “In fact it sounds like a lotta fun. Maybe sometime we can do that one together. I’ve got one, it’s an updated version of an old video game, World of Tanks. Kinda fun, gets hot though.”
“Tanks aren’t my idea of fun”, Anya admitted. “It’s useless to hit them with my sword, no matter how close they drive me.”
“I enjoy it, especially driving the tank.” Gallia shrugged, she truly did love tearing through the swamps and brush and hedgerows and anything else in her way in a Cromwell, “When I can get people to join me I’ll let them man the guns or whatever, I just wanna drive.”
“Who knew warfare could be so much fun?” Anya joked. She figured more people should do it for fun, instead for real. Yet some people thought the gamers were the crazies. That was an attitude that hadn’t changed in five centuries.
“Right?” Gallia laughed, “One day maybe you can be my gunner, we can try somethin’ I’ve always wondered.”
Anya shot her a glance halfway between curiosity and worry. “Do I want to know?”
“Just a physics question mar than anything.” Gallia shrugged, “Just wonderin’ if we turn that main gun completely aboot and fired it right as I floored the accelerator if we’d move faster.”
“Of course we would”, Anya responded. “Wouldn’t be measurable, most likely, but we would.”
“I think so, too!” Gallia nodded, “Can’t wait ta find out.”
“Big guns work just like the small one you’ve got”, Anya replied with a shrug. She didn’t feel the excitement. From where she was standing, this was a no-brainer. “Size doesn’t matter.”
“More size, more pressure, more boom.” Gallia pointed out, “Hence, slightly more speed. But, it’ll be fun to find out.”
“Engineers”, Anya chuckled.