The Masquerade Ball
Enchanted Garden <Deck 31> [Gibraltar Station]
A generous space enrobed in lush greenery and decadent foliage. The gardens have been transformed by dancing lights around the limbs of the trees, offset by the colors of the bright flowers. Towering trees and strings of lights flow across the upper spaces of the gardens creating a mystical atmosphere of magic and tranquility.
On a small grassy knoll is a large array of tables with food and treats from many lands and cultures. In the center table is a large ice sculpture of an Antarean Gregarsch, one of the highly regarded mythical creatures of light and harmony, with gilded wings of energy. Opposite the knoll is a dance floor with what seems to be a million dancing lights above it sparkling randomly. An eclectic mix of music from all Federation worlds is cycled through the sound system, louder on the dance floor and more subdued in other places. Tables are scattered across the venue where people sit and dine on the delectable cuisine they have found. A small stage is present as well where announcements can be made. It is sheathed in the colors of the Antarean flag.
Cleopatra (Gwen Hawkins)
Mark Antony (Thomas Church)
P.I. (Mikhail Volchenkov)
Zyganth (Anthony L'Treaux)
Hydrogen (Katherine Alexandria)
(For a list of descriptions, see: Masquerade Ball Descriptions)
(Several officers are gathered in the garden, the party just getting underway. The camera takes a moment to pan around the scene, showing off various costumes, before focusing in on the stage. A woman dressed as Cleopatra, Queen of the Nile, stands on the stage and the officers are giving her their attention.)
Cleopatra spreads her arms, allowing the cape to open. "Welcome, everyone, to our Masquerade Ball." The voice is clearly the Captain's, however much makeup she's put on. "Our guest of honor is just arriving--would everyone please welcome the new Antarean Ambassador, G'Mar Katsulock." She gestures to the entrance, to draw people's attention there.
A tall man does indeed stand there, wearing formal robes. Though many likely do not recognize it, the outfit is from Antarean history, that of a renowned group of peacemakers and statesmen who were said to have ushered the Antareans into being truly civilized. As the attention of the room turns to him and several people clap, he gives a bow to the assembled, then raises his voice. "I thank you all for attending... but don't let me hold up the festivities. I see a food table there, and I intend to sample what Starfleet has to offer!" This receives scattered laughter.
Zyganth applauds and cheers for the new ambassador. "Welcome!" her voice booming.
Zorro applauds very dramatically, calling out, "Welcome, Ambassador Katsulock!" It seems that whoever this is has completed the outfit with a Spanish accent.
P.I. applauds a little bit as he hears that, nodding a little bit as he looks between the others present for the moment.
Mark Antony claps exuberantly, if stiffly. He then goes to help Cleopatra down from the stage, leaning over to whisper something to her.
Zyganth waves. "Let the party begin!"
Before stepping down, Cleopatra smiles to everyone. "Yes, please enjoy yourselves. And that is an order... from a queen if not from a Captain." Yet again scattered laughter, and then she steps down lightly, wrapping her arm back around the Roman general's. As he whispers to her she considers something and then whispers back, eyes twinkling.
P.I. just shrugs a little bit, looking between the various people for a while longer, deciding to stay quiet for now. Looking between the various people rather absently, he steps a bit away from the table.
The music starts up a little more forcefully, a few people take the dance floor.
Mark Antony pulls lightly on Cleopatra's arm and leads her to the dance floor.
(The camera moves to focus on the food tables)
Hydrogen hovers back to the buffet and oddly, as the atom encompasses part of the table some food disappears, it floats back to a corner to just hover there. It makes sure not to bump into anyone and tries very very hard to avoid certain individuals.
P.I. looks around for a few moments, before he makes his way over in the direction of the Hydrogen. "Interesting costume," he observes, rather quietly.
Hydrogen hovers over to the buffet, yet again, and as it speaks it is a robotic voice, "I want some more of that stuff, but there is no more."
P.I. nods a little bit as he hears that. "What stuff in particular?" he asks, sounding a little curious. He then glances around for a few moments, studying the others out there, a bit absently. "Looks like people has worked hard on getting costumes in place," he remarks.
Hydrogen speaks again, "Oh never mind, I found it..." it hovers over the food and it disappears again... the atom then hovers away again.
(The camera cuts away to show us a shot of the dance floor, which is filled with people.)
Cleopatra glides along, settling herself with her partner as she waits for the next song to start up. When it does, it's a waltz, which she moves into easily.
(The camera moves over to the entrance.)
Brunhild (Brooks) enters the area from Garden Pathway - Starboard
Brunhild has arrived.
For a moment, the winged figure at the entrance hesitates. Despite her face being unmasked, it's doubtful anyone will recognize the woman with eyes and hair different colors and wearing makeup. Still, there's a sense of nerves before she squares her shoulders and strides on in to the room. She moves over to the food tables, smiling at those she sees. Brunhild watches the hydrogen atom float away and then turns to the P.I. "This is... a very interest setting, yes?" She speaks slowly, carefully, though in a typical accent for a human--making her voice hard to place.
P.I. nods a little, turning to look at the winged woman, and offering her a bit of a smile. "It is," he replies, nodding as he speaks.
Well, isn't everyone talkative today? Brunhild forges on as she gets a plate of food--which she piles high with, oh, many things. "So how are you two enjoying the ball? I think people need to, ahh, socialize some more."
P.I. shrugs a little as he replies, glancing around at the various people. "Well enough, I would say," he replies, before he adds, "Never cared much for these kinds of gatherings, really." A bit of a grimace there, as he reaches out to adjust his hat. "How about you? Enjoying yourself?"
"I just got here," Brunhild replies. "But I like the food." Indeed, she's eating--'cocktail wieners' as well as some sort of Betazoid cheese. "Why don't you like these gatherings? I think they're wonderful, myself."
P.I. shrugs a little. "Well, it's just that I've never liked big social gatherings too much. At least not ones that seem as... formal as these." He shakes his head a little. "Always preferred quiet gatherings, you know."
Brunhild chuckles softly to the P.I., then pops another bit of the Betazoid cheese into her mouth. "Mmm. It's a good excuse to eat, though. And dance. Do you dance? Hard to do that at private gatherings."
Dance? The P.I. stops for a few moments as he hears that. "Well, I'm not a good dancer, by any means, although I learned it a while back," he replies, pausing for a few moments, before he adds, "I agree about the food, though."
(The camera moves back over to the dance floor briefly, again showing the Captain and diplomatic officer.)
Mark Antony keeps up with his dance partner, matching pace and stride as they dance until the song ends.
As the music picks up a bit, more couples move onto the dance floor. Cleopatra continues dancing, moving smoothly from the waltz into something that looks like it might be similar to the "swing" style popular in the mid-20th century on Earth.
(The camera moves to focus on a different section of the food table, and Zorro.)
Zorro walks over to the food table, taking in everything as he passes. Arriving at the food table, he takes a few items and moves toward Ambassador Katsulock's table. Arriving, he gives a courtly bow. "If I may, Ambassador?"
The Ambassador, who sits with a guard of some sort, looks up as Zorro arrives. There is a look of amusement upon his face, but he nods. "Of course, sir. May I ask your name? I am afraid I don't recognize the outfit."
"I am Zorro." Zorro pauses, as if seeing if this elicits recognition. When it does not, he continues, "I bring justice to those who do not have it. Specifically in California, on Earth, but all across the galaxy if necessary." That said, he sits down in one of the chairs at the table.
The Ambassador inclines his head. "Of course. I shall have to look into your... exploits." That said, he turns to his plate. "This is certainly a grand spread. What are these little... things?" He holds up a small sausage on a toothpick.
"Those are a common human food, most of the time called 'cocktail wieners'" Zorro gestures grandly. "Of course, one should have a cocktail to go with the food. As I do." He holds up what appears to be a margarita, though it's likely synthehol.
"Cocktail wieners?" G'Mar shrugs and tries one. "These are delicious!" he declares. "And what, precisely, is a 'cocktail'?" He leans forward and says to Zorro, somewhat conspiratorially, "I'm afraid that while I've studied much of human culture, I am behind on human cuisine. Which is a shame, as it is my favorite part of being a diplomat."
Zyganth goes over to the drink station and whispers to the bartender... a few moments later the dragon and gently carrying a bright blue drink with a red froth on top to the Ambassador, "Sir, if I might... present you with one of my favorites, a Trixian cocktail!"
Zorro replies, "A 'cocktail' is a typically alcoholic beverage that assists in livening parties. Perhaps you should try one? I recommend the margarita. It has the flavor of limes." He takes a long drink of his. "Delicious. However, I think this Trixian cocktail would be delicious as well."
Zyganth laughs, "I hope you enjoy the party..."
G'Mar nods to Zorro, then takes the frothy drink with a raised eyebrow that could rival a Vulcan's. "Trixian? Where is that from?" He takes a drink and nods, evidently deciding he likes this, too. And keeps right on drinking it, waiting for the dragon's response.
Zyganth smiles, "From the southern province of Ygin IV, I found it in my travels and I loved it, it is made with a special blend of the Trixian fruit and a special spirited beverage of that region... I have a few bottles in a special place."
Seeing that the Ambassador is being taken care of, Zorro stands, flourishing his cloak with the arm not holding his drink. "If I may, I shall take my leave. I must take in more of this party. Good day." With that he turns and walks over toward the hydrogen atom.
(As Zorro moves away the camera sweeps across the dance floor again...)
Cleopatra, for her part, is over swing-dancing with Mark Antony still. Anyone who watches the two could conclude that they might just know what the hell they're doing--especially when the Roman general takes the queen by the waist, lifts her in the air, then swings her down toward the ground--where she slides along the floor between his legs before coming back up to her feet, stepping out into a twirl.
(...and sweeps on past to the entrance, where another officer is coming into the garden.)
Bellows enters the area from Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck
Bellows has arrived.
Bellows walks into the garden, wearing his dress whites and a cheesy black mask that looks like it is a piece of cloth with two diamonds cut for eye holes and large enough to cover just the nose and half of the forehead. The cloth is also in a diamond shape, like that of a bandanna, and is tied off behind Bellows' head. He walks further into the garden, making his way towards the buffet table as he looks all over, seeing everything that is going on. He reaches one of the tables of food and picks up a plate and works his way around, grabbing a little bit of this and that, not really aware of what he really is grabbing. Not knowing anyone very well, he keeps his mouth closed and returns the hi's and hello's people give to him as he collects his food.
Brunhild nods to the P.I. She seems content, for the moment, to watch the goings on and chat while she eats her food. She turns to the table and gets herself a drink--something frothy and purple. "I've never been that good either... not as good as the Captain." She gestures to the pair on the dance floor. "And who's that with her?"
P.I. nods a little bit as he gets himself a drink as well, something looking decidedly green. Taking a sip from it, he shrugs a bit at the taste, before he looks out onto the floor again. "Hmm. Not sure who it is," he replies, after a few moments. Perhaps needing a closer look to be sure.
"Definitely not Commander Solvek. He's too tall." Brunhild's accent slips, briefly, and she clears her throat, seeming to focus. To cover the slip she turns, notices Bellows, and smiles to him brightly. "Hi there! Try the kalanga cheese, it's delicious. From Crystal Cove, on Betazed."
Bellows turns his face towards the spoken woman. He sees her and smiles back with a nod, "Alright," he says, looking through the tables trying to find the cheese.
(The camera moves back to Ambassador G'Mar's table.)
G'Mar nods as he sips the drink. "It is excellent, I thank you. You, I do recognize. Zyganth, yes? The empathy dragon?"
Zyganth nods, "Yes! one of my favorite stories from my childhood."
Ambassador G'Mar nods to Zyganth. "Indeed, I have read that story as well. It's a wonderful costume. So many wonderful costumes," he says expansively. "This is a marvelous base, and our Embassy is quite perfect. I must say, things are going far better than I expected."
Zyganth nods slowly, "Well in any case, I am delighted to see you here..." she pauses, "We were wondering if you would like to choose a 'winner' of the costumes in a contest of sorts."
G'Mar nods. "I would love to! Are there any special criteria?"
Zyganth shakes the large head, "Well, since this is new for you, as far as what we have to offer you, just pick 2 or 3 and allow them to talk about the outfit they chose and then pick one as a winner."
(The camera moves down the room a bit, to find Zorro again, pursuing the "hydrogen atom.")
Hydrogen starts floating away, away from Zorro... trying desperately to avoid him.
Zorro follows Hydrogen as it attempts to float away, calling out, "Excuse me... I wish to speak with you."
Hydrogen turns a little and makes herself stuck, she has no escape from Zorro.
Another person arrives, in a quite elaborate costume. Those who have studied Earth history might recognize the large, elaborate headdress and wide skirts of Queen Elizabeth I. The woman makes her way directly from the entrance to the stage, not stopping as she goes, merely nodding to those she passes.
"That is a very interesting costume you have. May I ask what you are por--" Zorro cuts off as he looks to the stage.
(We move back to the food table.)
P.I. offers a nod to Bellows, as Brunhild greets the man, before he shrugs a bit, nodding a little at the woman. He then notices the new arrival, blinking a little. "Looks like we have a royal visitor," he offers, a bit lightly.
Brunhild points a gauntleted hand to one of the plates upon the table in order to help Bellows. "It's that one, there." She turns to glance at the woman, her eyebrows raising a bit.
Bellows turns his head to see the direction and nods, "Thank you." He smiles as he puts a couple chunks of cheese on his plate that is starting to get a little full. He takes a piece of food and puts it in his mouth and chews as he turns his attention to the queen.
(The camera follows the officer's gazes to focus on the stage.)
The woman dressed as Queen Elizabeth climbs onto the stage with the help of a nearby officer. After thanking him quietly, she steps into the light, surveying the room. She clears her throat and raises an arm. "If I could have your attention?"
Despite the fun she's clearly having, on hearing the voice of the woman on stage, Cleopatra brings her dancing to an end. She allows Mark Antony to escort her from the dance floor toward the stage, to look up at the woman standing there.
The queen smiles to the assembled. "Thank you. For those who do not know, I am Vice Admiral Alison Crawford--though for the evening, you may call me 'Your Majesty.'" Her eyes twinkle, and indeed, that powdered face is recognizable as the Admiral's. "First of all, a bit of business too long delayed. Is Lieutenant Commander Anthony L'Treaux present?"
P.I. looks around for a few moments, before looking up to the stage. Taking a few sips from his drinks, before looking over at the Admiral, rather carefully.
Zyganth walks up to the stage, it doesn't go on the stage as it has a very large presence to begin with.
Mark Antony stands at the foot of the stage, looking up to watch the Admiral.
"Excellent. As an Admiral has a great deal of work to do, we need a great deal of help with this work. As part of that, Commander L'Treaux is being reassigned from his position as a counselor to become my Aide. I hope you'll look good in a red uniform, Commander." The Admiral smiles down as people begin to clap.
Cleopatra nods as if expecting this and claps, smiling.
Zorro also applauds, nodding in confirmation. He lets out a grand "Bravo!" in congratulations.
Zyganth shows no expression because he is wearing a mask but nods, "If you could all see my face I am bright red already..." a chuckle can be heard. "Thank you Admiral, I am looking forward to helping you."
Bellows chews some more food as he palms his chest, his form of clapping since he has a plate of food in his hand.
P.I. applauds as well, before he raises his glass to take another sip.
Admiral Crawford nods to Zyganth and then continues. "Now, secondly... where is Ambassador... ah-ha, there you are. Ambassador Katsulock, if you please?" She gestures to the Ambassador.
G'Mar Katsulock drains the last of his drink and stands, making his way up to the stage.
The queen/admiral continues, "Ambassador, I am empowered to give formal condolences from the Federation Council and Starfleet Command to our valued member world, Antares, for the loss of so many of their people during the recent bombings. Naturally this event is to welcome you to the station and to hope that we can move forward with goodwill and harmony, as befits the ideals of the Federation." She offers the Ambassador her hand--considering the press cameras lining the back of the room, it's probably something of a photo-op moment.
Brunhild claps for Zyganth and then again for the presentation of the Ambassador. Having to put down her food plate to do so. For shame!
Mark Antony claps for all there is to clap for, watching the Ambassador for his reaction.
P.I. finishes his drink, before applauding again, this time for the Ambassador.
Zyganth applauds for the new ambassador.
Bellows gets tricky and shifts his plate over in his hand, opening up a little slit of palm and he claps for the ambassador.
The Ambassador takes the Admiral's hand and shakes it. "Thank you very much... Your Majesty." He pauses, smiling, and then continues. "While I am up here... if I may?" He steps forward a bit. "Our gracious host, the lovely Zyganth, has asked that I preside over the choosing of the best costume in the room. I see so many wonderful costumes here tonight I am hard-pressed to choose just one... but I am intrigued by a few in particular. Would the... floating atom, the winged girl over there by the food table, and the man in the long coat next to her please come up?" He gestures to Hydrogen, Brunhild, and PI in turn.
As he waits, G'Mar adds, "The costumes of Zyganth, the Admiral, and the Captain are of course lovely... but as you have put on this event I think I will ask everyone to merely appreciate what time, effort, and dedicated historical research can provide--especially over such sparkling personalities."
Cleopatra inclines her head, and then waits for those named to step up to the stage.
Zyganth nods and says, "Of course, thank you!"
Brunhild blinks as she's singled out, but makes her way up to the stage slowly, the fringe of her skirt chiming as she goes.
Bellows claps on his small slit of palm for the people selected as they walk up on the stage. He quickly quiets down as he notices he is the only one clapping.
Hydrogen floats up to the stage and says nothing. Just hovers there.
P.I. blinks a bit as he hears that, before moving one hand to adjust his hat a bit more, and making his way over to the stage, glancing around rather carefully.
Zorro claps his hands as well and calls, "Felicitaciones!"
G'Mar puts his hands together. "Excellent. First of all." He turns to the P.I. "With so many elaborate costumes it is nice to see something simple, yet... iconic. Could you explain to us what this outfit is and why you chose it?"
P.I. shrugs a little, before he replies. "Well, since one of my great interests happens to be what one would call 'classic pop culture' from Earth, I figured it was a good idea to make a costume based one those old Private Investigators, like Sam Spade, Phillip Marlowe, Jake Gittes and so on," he replies. "And as for why, it's like you said, quite simple."
G'Mar nods. "Excellent. I have long been a fan of Sam Spade myself." He turns to the hydrogen atom. "And you... how in the world did you manage this? And why did you choose this costume?"
A robotic sigh can be heard, and then in a robotic monotone it says, "I am a holographic designer and so I am basically in here on a hover platform of sorts surrounded by a small forcefield, and i have a portable holoemitter creating the actual effect. I am a simple atom, nuclei and isotopes... As a scientist I feel it represented me."
G'Mar seems intrigued by this, peering at the atom. "Fascinating. I will admit I had not though of using holograms to create a costume. Quite creative." He turns to Brunhild. "And you, my dear?"
Brunhild takes a moment to respond, cleaning her throat and blinking in the bright lights. When she speaks, it's in a confident, precise voice. "I will admit I had some help. I was at a loss of what to wear, so I asked the Captain, and found I liked her suggestion." She gestures down to the costume. "I am a valkyrie, of Norse mythology... the valkyries were servants of Odin the All-Father, battle maidens who rode wolves and escorted the honored dead to Valhalla, the home of the Gods. Specifically, the costume was taken from a recent production of Wagner's Ring Cycle at Starfleet Academy. A friend of mine played Brunhild, and still had the costume. Brunhild is one of the leaders of the valkyries, who possesses the cursed Ring for a time, and is betrayed by her lover... she orders him killed, and afterwards realizes her errors, and throws herself on the pyre. Leaving Odin to finally destroy the Ring and Valhalla with it."
G'Mar nods to Brunhild and then steps back, considering the three. "All are excellent costumes... however, for sheer ingenuity, I must award the hydrogen atom the winner." He gestures for the atom to step forward, clapping.
Cleopatra claps strongly for Hydrogen, smiling once more.
P.I. applauds with a bit of a smile, as he looks over at the Hydrogen.
Bellows' plate is just about empty, making it light enough to be held by just his finger tips. He claps along with everybody else, more firmly on his palm.
Brunhild applauds, smiling... perhaps relieved she wasn't the winner.
Zorro claps in an expansive manner.
Hydrogen comes forward a little and hovers there, in a robotic voice it says, "Thank you, uhm, I really don't know what to say..." it sighs again. "But thank you."
Mark Antony claps, still somewhat stiffly, but smiles as he gives an astute congratulations.
G'Mar looks to Zyganth. "Does our winner receive anything save for the admiration of its peers?"
Zyganth jumps up to the stage, "Not so fast there Hydrogen... we have a special award for you..." the dragon goes behind the stage and gets a bag, "Here is a present for you, some Antarean Brandy, a selection of recipes from our fabulous buffet, and one day at the Starbase Stellar Spa!"
Hydrogen hovers there and says plainly, "Thank you." it hovers to the bag and it is absorbed into the atom disappearing. "I appreciate it." It then quickly floats down and hovers over to the side of the stage.
P.I. moves down from the stage as well, moving off to the side, where he can fade a bit into the background.
G'Mar is about to say something about that when suddenly there's a crackling noise over the P.A. system just as the Admiral, who's been watching quietly and clapping along with the rest, turns away briefly. The words are mostly unclear, though "Admiral," "communique," and "Starfleet Command" come through. There's a pause, as if someone's speaking, and then again, over the P.A., clearly this time: "They're saying they absolutely must have all the evidence turned over and sent back to Earth by the end of the week. I'm sorry, sir, but Admiral Church says she won't take no for an answer."
Brunhild moves off the stage, frowning as the P.A. goes off.
Cleopatra blinks, glancing upward, and goes up onto the stage, tapping the Admiral on the shoulder.
Admiral Crawford blinks as well and says just loudly enough to be heard, "There's some sort of communications malfunction, do not send any more until you hear otherwise." Then she turns to speak to the Captain in lowered tones.
Mark Antony looks clearly upset by what he hears. He shakes his head and mutters, "Not again, Mother."
Cleopatra sighs and turns to the assembled. "I'm sorry, everyone... minor communications glitch. Please, everyone, return to the festivities." She gestures to Mark Antony in an imperative sort of manner and then goes back to her whispered conversation with the Admiral. She does... something with her hands as she speaks, moving her fingers in complex gestures.
G'Mar frowns and goes over to the whispering women. "What is this about evidence being turned over, Captain? Admiral?"
Zorro looks over to the gathering between the Admiral and the Captain and nods to... something. He then heads towards Brunhild.
Mark Antony steps up onto the stage with the others.
Crawford sighs and turns to G'Mar. Her voice no longer carries to the whole room, but those near the stage would hear her speak. "Starfleet Command... Admiral Church, specifically... has ordered that all of the evidence from the bombings, including physical evidence, reports, and sensor readings, be packed up and sent to Earth immediately. We are to stop our investigation as Starfleet Command is taking it over." Her expression is... not good.
Mark Antony sighs. "If Admiral Church is sending the command, we had best obey it. She can be rather difficult at times." His tone indicates that he is familiar with the individual.
G'Mar looks like he's about to blow up. "What?! Back to Earth... how are my people to oversee the investigation, then? Will my government be kept informed of any updates in a timely manner?"
Crawford sighs. "I will do my best to ensure such, Ambassador. In the meantime... I will leave you to Captain Hawkins and Commander Church, here. As the investigation is under the purview of the bases' crew, this is in their hands." Giving Cleopatra a 'sorry about this' look, she moves off, to mingle with the crowd.
Cleopatra looks anything but happy, but nods to Crawford as she moves off, looking... grateful, of all things. "I'm sure this can all be worked out, Ambass-"
"No. I will not be led around by the nose. I will not allow this evidence to leave this station." G'Mar looks quite incensed.
Zyganth takes off his head and says, "Ambassador, I am more than sure that the Admiral and Captain will ensure that the needs of your government are met."
Mark Antony steps forward, "Ambassador, I can assure you that the Antarean government will be fully informed of any developments in the investigation made on Earth." He looks around, "Perhaps we should continue this discussion at a table, over drinks? Let's see what agreements we can come to."
G'Mar sighs, and then nods to both Zyganth and Mark Antony. "Drinks would be a start. Perhaps more of your excellent 'cocktails,' Mr. Zyganth."
Zyganth nods, and put his head back on, "Of course Ambassador!" he walks over to the bar to get a few more drinks.
Cleopatra reaches out to take Mark Antony's hand, squeezing it gently as they move down toward a table.
(The camera shifts to another table nearby.)
Brunhild has returned to the food table, grabbed another plate piled high with food, and made her way to a table to sit and watch the festivities. She gestures to Bellows. "Hey, come sit with me... we can chat. You're an engineer, right? Or, well, I'm guessing. Security? Operations?" A grin.
Bellows smiles, happy that he isn't just standing anymore, and moves over Brunhild and sits down beside her, "I'm an engineer yes, you had it the first time." He grins.
Brunhild smiles to Bellows. "I'm a scientist," she puts in. "So I guess the blue breastplate makes sense, hmm?"
Zorro walks over to the table where Brunhild and Bellows sit. With a flourish of his cape, he bows. "Would you mind if I joined your company?"
Brunhild looks up at Zorro and giggles. "Of course you may, sir. This gentleman and I were just discussing our professions. I didn't catch your name?" This last to Bellows.
Zorro takes a seat, dramatically pushing the cape out of the way as he sits. "I happen to protect the innocent."
Bellows chuckles, "I'm Drake, I couldn't come up with an interesting name." He grins, watching Zorro as he sits down.
The queen drifts along and then, spotting Zorro, heads for his table. She stops next to it and looks down at the junior officers. "Do you mind if I join you?"
Brunhild peers at Zorro over her drink. Purple and frothy, yup. Maybe someone's been at Zyganth's secret stash a bit much? As the 'queen' arrives she nearly chokes on the drink, though. "Oh, uh.. Admir... Your Majesty... certainly. Sit."
Bellows chuckles at Brunhild's reaction to the queen and nods towards the queen as she sits down.
Zorro stands swiftly as the queen arrives. He pulls out a chair and bows, "If it pleases Your Majesty?" His Spanish accent making the question sound alluring.
Crawford smiles to Zorro as he pulls out her chair and sits down. "Thank you, good sir." She looks to the two younger officers. "Drake, then, is it... and Brunhild?" She looks to Bellows. "That is a... fascinating costume you have there."
Bellows chuckles and shakes his head, "Please your Majesty, I know that my imagination isn't all that good, so please don't make it sound like it is." He smiles with another bit of chuckling.
Brunhild watches the conversation with a slight smile, content to eat for the moment.
Crawford waves a hand. "I am glad to see that you attended anyhow. These events are for socializing, though of course a good costume helps."
Bellows chuckles and nods his head, "Yes. I enjoy playing along anyway, even with my cheesy costume." He grins.
Zorro looks to Bellows. "Your costume is not cheesy... you have fully captured the enigma that is the Starfleet Ensign. Your mask does not show your face; therefore, it is safe to say that any individual can become you." He takes his seat once more.
Bellows chuckles at Zorro's explanation, "Yes I guess I can see that" he grins.
(The camera moves away. Around the room, people have returned to conversations... laughing, chatting, eating, dancing. The night certainly seems to be a success.)
Mark Antony leads the way to a table, holding Cleopatra's chair for her like a gentleman.
Zyganth returns with a tray of drinks for everyone at the table, "These have something special in them...enjoy!"
G'Mar gladly takes a drink. "Thank you, Zyganth. Please, join us. While I am... upset, I do not wish this lapse to ruin our festivities." He turns to Mark Antony. "You said something I find interesting. You spoke of your 'Mother'?"
Mark Antony's smile slowly fades. "Yes, Admiral Church is my mother. Although at times like this I wish the circumstances of my birth had been different." He sighs again. "Trust me Ambassador, if there is something I know it's that when Admiral Church wants something she will stop at nothing to get it."
Cleopatra shakes her head and mutters something under her breath.
G'Mar says solemnly to Mark Antony, "I have met Admiral Church. You have my deepest sympathies." He takes a long sip of his drink. "I suppose I will not blame you for this... outrage. You have all been quite hospitable since we arrived. However, 600 light years is just... too far." He shakes his head. "Enough about that! Whose idea were these lovely decorations?"
Zyganth sits listening and of course, drinking.
Mark Antony smiles and replies, "Lt. Commander L'Treaux... or should I say Zyganth... planned the decorations."
Zyganth nods and says, "Guilty as charged!"
G'Mar turns to Zyganth. "Well, they are excellent, Commander. Perhaps if you ever tire of Starfleet you can come to Antares and host our government functions. They would be far more interesting!"
Zyganth laughs, "Oh thank you Ambassador, but I kinda doubt that the admiral is going to tire of me anytime soon, but I am not against a vacation to Antares and seeing what I can come up with!"
Cleopatra leans forward, lacing her fingers together and smiling a bit, mischievously. "I think Fleet Command probably needs something to liven them up a bit. Besides, politicians are far more nutty than any patient could be. We should give the poor Counselor a break."
G'Mar nods to the Captain, sagely. "Indeed. You are likely correct. However, a vacation might be just the thing. You could introduce my colleagues to these cocktails of yours." He's really into the cocktails, eh?
(We cut back to the other table.)
Brunhild turns to the Admiral, perhaps emboldened by the costumes. "Perhaps this isn't the right place for this... but I've always wanted to say how much I admire your work, Admiral. Especially your work with Solvek and Okuda on the Maelstrom."
Crawford nods to Brunhild. "Thank you. I assume you have some interest in the Antares Maelstrom?"
As a slow tango begins to play, Zorro leaps from his chair, clasping his hands together. "Ah! The tango. Brunhild, you must accompany me to the dance floor, so I may show you the glory of the tango!"
Bellows begins to laugh at Zorro's expression and looks to Brunhild.
Brunhild's about to respond to Crawford when the masked man asks her to dance. She blinks at him. "Well. I did practice the tango. I suppose I could." She gives him a half frown and then stands, extending a hand.
Crawford laughs softly and shakes her head. She picks up her drink--for she did have one, really!--and takes a sip. "Be careful, dear. I hear the Fox is a notorious ladies' man." Her eyes sparkle a bit as she looks to Zorro.
"Your Majesty, you jest. I would never think of enticing one of Odin's own battle maidens for fear of being smote." Zorro turns to Brunhild and takes her hand, leading her to the dance floor.
Brunhild goes along, though her expression flashes to being nervous for a moment. However, as they get set and begin dancing, she seems to relax.
(The camera shifts to the Ambassador's table again.)
Zyganth drinks his drink and says, "I am glad that this party went off without a hitch! I am sorry our Chief Science Officer scurried off, but she has some...issues." He pauses. "At least she showed up!"
Cleopatra sighs. "You're not kidding," she says to Zyganth. "I am glad she came, however. She was the hydrogen atom, yes?" She glances over to where the masked man is leading the valkyrie to the dance floor. "The other science officer I knew was coming chose something a little more... open."
G'Mar sits back, evidently admiring the scenery. Which seems to involve the human females, largely. Not the Captain, of course--not openly--but the man clearly enjoys looking at the rest.
Mark Antony looks to Zyganth. "Yes, it seems you've done quite a good job of raising the spirits of the station. I applaud you for that. It seems we all needed a good pick-me-up, and it seems this was just the thing."
Zyganth laughs, "Oh, yes, I am glad that this went well, I wanted something different and fun." he sighs, "I will admit though I am positively exhausted!"
Cleopatra smiles. "I can imagine," she replies. "Thank you for giving us all this chance to relax and unwind. I'm going to have to dance some more. I haven't done enough dancing lately."
Mark Antony takes this as his cue and says, "Well, then. After this song is over, we'll head back to the dance floor, shall we?"
(A shot of the dance floor again.)
As his partner relaxes, Zorro's lead becomes more grandiose. He leans in to Brunhild and whispers something.
Brunhild manages to dance... well, not incredibly well, but she keeps up. Mostly. Whatever Zorro whispers makes her nearly stumble, but she manages to recover on the upswing and moves into the outward twirl with grace, her skirt flying about her legs. She whispers something to Zorro.
(Back to the Ambassador's table, briefly.)
Cleopatra peers over at the dance floor. "I don't know, dear. I think we're being shown up. Of course, she's putting her feet in the wrong place, but I'm sure we can go over that sequence with her later." Her tone has a clinical, almost professional edge to it. "Good form, though, in general, especially on that spin."
(Another shot of the dance floor.)
As they draw to the end of that line of the tango, Zorro dips Brunhild and pulls a rose from behind his back, offering it to Brunhild. He says, "For you, senorita of Valhalla."
Brunhild blinks at Zorro, but takes the rose. As silly as it might look with her costume, she goes ahead and puts it between her teeth, as is customary.
Zorro pulls Brunhild back into place and spins her, leading in the next direction of the dance. At the end of this line, he dips her again and removes the rose from her teeth into his own.
Brunhild stumbles again, recovers again. She laughs, and continues dancing.
(Back to the Ambassador's table.)
Mark Antony says, "Oh, I think we can beat that." Pause. "Maybe not that. But we'll sure try."
G'Mar's awfully quiet. Mostly watching the twirling girl with the wings out on the dance floor.
Zyganth shakes his head and giggles softly to himself.
(Back on the dance floor...)
Zorro ends the dance with a flourish and twirls Brunhild out with his hand, then brings her back in for a kiss.
Yeah, yeah, so she knows how the dance traditionally ends. That doesn't mean she expected some guy to come up, ask her to dance, and then kiss her. Brunhild doesn't seem to know what to do, so just sort of... stands there. And then manages a smile.
(Back to the Ambassador's table.)
Zyganth stands, and smiles at everyone raising his glass and finishing it off in one fell swoop. "I have had a great time, but I am needed right now..." he turns to Crawford, "I am sure you will want me working early in the morning Admiral."
Crawford looks over to Zyganth. "Of course, Commander. Sleep well, and I will see you tomorrow." Turning leads her to a view of the dance floor. And she just about chokes on her drink.
L'Treaux leaves the area toward Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck
L'Treaux has left.
Cleopatra shakes her head. "I am never letting him hear the end of this. I'll show the log to his sister, even."
Mark Antony stammers a bit as he looks at Cleopatra. "You know that guy?"
Bellows takes another sip of his drink, "I wish I could dance like that... all I know is slow dancing, waltz, and many forms of line dancing..."
(Back to the dance floor.)
Letting go of Brunhild's arm, Zorro leans in and whispers something in her ear.
Whatever Zorro whispers to her wasn't what she was expecting to hear, from the shock on Brunhild's face. She just stares at the man for a moment and then twirls suddenly, heading for the door so quickly one might think there's a fire somewhere, looking extremely upset.
(As Brunhild walks away, the camera follows past the Ambassador's table.)
"Commander Solvek," Cleopatra explains. And then sighs softly as she watches Brunhild go. "Terrific."
Mark Antony's jaw drops. "That's the Vulcan? You've gotta be kid--" He frowns as he watches Brunhild leave. "Uh-oh. That can't be good."
(The camera continues to follow Brunhild.)
Zorro quickly follows Brunhild, attempting to catch up to her. When he does so, he lightly grasps her arm, turning her toward him. "Please, don't go."
Brunhild's voice is low, low enough that only those nearby can hear. For the sake of the scene, of course, Cleopatra, Mark Antony, and Bellows are close enough to hear. Her voice now carries a thick Texan accent, "Don't play with me, Commander. It's not fair. Let me go, and stop makin' a scene."
"I'm not playing with you. My actions and intentions, however stylized, are genuine." Zorro's manner is quite intense. "Someone helped me realize last night that what I told you was false. My feelings for you apparently go beyond the level of normal friendship."
Well, what is a girl supposed to say to that? Brunhild stammers a bit and then draws herself up. "You could've told me," she replies. Somewhat lamely, but hey. She's trying here. Then the stern expression melts into a smile. "D'you really mean that?"
Zorro looks into Brunhild's eyes. "The reason I did not tell you it was me was because I wasn't sure how you would react." He pauses, and drops down, grabbing Brunhild's hand and kissing it. "Yes, I meant every word I said." ...complete with Spanish accent.
Brunhild's face gets suffused with red and she tugs Zorro back up. "Stop it. You're makin' a scene." Not that she seem to entirely mind. She tugs again. "Let's go talk about this for a moment?" Without waiting for a response she drags him outside for a moment.
Zorro follows along without protest.
(The camera follows them out of the garden.)
Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck 31> [Gibraltar Station]
Spanning five decks, the ceiling of the garden is high enough to hold full-grown trees. There are indeed trees here, along with flowers in every imaginable color, grass in a hundred shades of green and blue. The lighting overhead is diffuse enough to nearly substitute for sunlight on an M-class world. The plants are well-tended and some effort has been made to make the layout pleasing to the eye. The sounds of bird calls fill the air, insects chosen for their compatibility with the plants here flit about, and there are small mammals about as well, again chosen for their compatibility with the plants and each other. With the scents of life and growing things surrounding one, it almost seems like a park on an M-class world, save for the Promenade walkways one can sometimes spot high above.
A walkway of white stone threads through this cacophony of life, winding toward the central open area. There are benches here and there along the pathway, black iron frames with wood slats, curved and carved in an imitation of what might have been found in a 19th century city park. Trees shade the pathway, beeches and oaks, pines and firs, species from Betazed, Trill, Delta, and a dozen other Federation worlds. The archways leading to the outer walkway are carefully shielded so that no animals may get out, ensuring that this area stays insular to itself.
Fred drops Solvek's hand as they walk out of the garden. She also leaves the accent, speaking in her normal Texan voice. "You had me upset, y'know. I didn't... I didn't get any hint, last night, that there was anything there. What changed your mind?"
"To be honest with you'" Solvek uses his normal voice as well, "I had a long talk with Captain Hawkins after our... experience. She asked quite a few 'pointed' questions and led me to discover that my feelings toward you were more than 'friendly.'"
Fred's eyebrows raise at that. "Oh? Oh. Well. That's good then, right?" She sighs, putting her hands behind her back. Or trying to. The wings get in the way and she places them in front of her instead. "So... you like the costume?"
"Yes, that is a good thing." Solvek pauses. "However, I do not want you to think that my actions are a direct result of Captain Hawkins' suggestions. She was merely the catalyst to my inner reasoning." He pauses and looks Fred over. "Yes, your costume is exceptional. The depiction is a very accurate interpretation."
Fred smiles, looking over. "Thanks. I like your costume, too. You pull off the character very well. And you dance very well, too." She clears her throat, looks down at the ground. "So, umm... what now? I mean, I know you're probably not... quite ready for a... relationship. Or whatever. Or maybe don't even really want one."
Solvek ponders the question over for a moment. "I believe that we should 'take it slow' as humans say. You are correct in saying that I am not quite ready for a 'relationship.' However, I would be content with letting our current situation progress naturally."
Fred nods slowly. "That makes the most sense. I've got plenty of problems to get past, myself." She turns, stopping for a moment, and reaches out impulsively to grab Solvek's hand to stop him as well. "I.... I wanted to say that I'm sorry. I've been terribly over-emotional, and I've been rude, and... I'm sorry. Alright?"
"There is no need to apologize, Fred. I only want to ask one thing: was my transfer helpful?" Solvek looks into her eyes with an inquisitive expression.
It takes Fred a moment to reply. Damn Vulcans and their damn eyes. "Umm... yes. Yes, it was very helpful. I can be around you now, without... issues coming up. I mean. Not that I don't think of things, but I don't think of bad things. I mean..." Her cheeks color, but she doesn't look away for once. "You know what I mean," she finishes softly.
Solvek smirks. "I understand what you mean. And I am not offended. Shall we return to the ball?"
Fred seems reluctant to move, but she manages to shake herself and nods. "Yes... let's. Maybe we can dance some more?" She turns to go back in. And she hasn't dropped that hand, yet.
Solvek glances at their hands, clasped together, but does not let go. "Yes, I believe we can arrange some more dancing." He turns and leads her back into the ball.
(The camera follows the officers back into the party, where Bellows and "Cleopatra" are now dancing.)
The valkyrie and the man in black return from their walk outside the ball, hand-in-hand. Brunhild leads the way over to where the others are sitting, seeming happier than she has... well... since anyone on this base has known her.
Mark Antony watches as the Ensign and Captain dance together. He takes a bite out of a piece of cheese and says to himself, "Eccentric, but original. Kid might have some talent." He notices the valkyrie and Zorro walking and waves a hand, urging them to come sit with him.
Zorro says to Brunhild, "I believe we have a Roman general beckoning at us, senorita." The Spanish accent is back. "Shall we oblige him before he sends his centurions to take over our lands?"
Brunhild giggles. "Certainly." The Federation-standard accent is also back in place. She walks on over to Mark Antony's table... glides, really, having somehow figured out how to make the slight spread of her wings and the way she walks make it look like she's almost flying.
(As Zorro and Brunhild walk past the dance floor, we see Bellows and Cleopatra doing an intricate, complicated dance. They spin and twirl, and it's clear that they both have talent--though Cleopatra's obviously much more comfortable and poised about the matter than the Ensign.)
As the song ends, Cleopatra smiles and then steps back a little, spreading her skirts and dipping a curtsy. "Thank you very much."
Bellows takes a half step back and bows, letting his arm flow down in front of him like it is a huge dramatic bow, "It wasss my pleasure" he smiles back as he comes back up, "I apologize for the last part...I don't know if I made you uncomfortable or not..." he says with a serious face, extending his elbow to escort her off the floor.
Mark Antony watches the end of the dance with a smirk on his face. He is clearly impressed. He claps as the Captain and Bellows bow to each other. Then turning to the arrivals he says, "Hi, you both look much happier. I'm glad everything worked out."
Cleopatra shakes her head. "Not at all. I'm quite used to dancing in various styles." She takes the elbow and goes back to the table. Once there she settles herself back in her chair before any of the men have the chance to be chivalrous. Ha! She reaches out to take Mark Antony's hand and says, "Ensign Bellows here is quite good, don't you think?"
As the dancing partners return, Zorro has an excited expression. "That dance was magnificent... the spins, the turns, the energy." His hands express his emotion even more than his voice, if that is possible.
Brunhild's hand gets moved as Zorro expresses himself but she makes no move to let go, looking as if perhaps she's afraid if she lets go she'll never get it back. She does smile though. "Yes, it was wonderful."
Bellows smiles at the compliments, "Thank you. My mom taught me that step... well... most of it anyway." He grins.
"Mothers are very good at encouraging their children to dance." Cleopatra's voice is... wry. "My mother... encouraged me to dance. I suppose I owe the steps I know to her. It was lovely, though, thank you."
Bellows smiles and nods, "Of course!" He looks over towards Mark Antony, "And thank you for letting me steal her," he smiles.
Antony smiles, "Oh, you're welcome. Thank you for giving me some time off. You were very good out there. I give my compliments to her mother."
Bellows stays quite and does a half smile, a sad look going acrossed his face as he nods. "Well I am off to bed. I want to be in good shape for my shift. Goodnight everyone," he says, that sad look still across his face but still having a smile as he walks away from the table towards the exit.
Zorro looks as if he wants to continue complimenting the dance but notices that he might make Brunhild's arm fall off if he does. He stops and makes one final comment, "I must see you perform once again. At a later date of course. Quite magnificent!"
Bellows leaves the area toward Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck
Bellows has left.
Brunhild, having sat down a while ago, sighs, looking around. She seems content to just sit for the moment.
Cleopatra looks to the two, somewhat amused. "So... things going well, I see. Everyone having a good time?" She reaches her other hand over to cover Mark Antony's.
Antony smiles at Cleopatra, "Yes my dear. I'm having a wonderful time. Although there were a few points during that last dance where I did get a tad jealous." He lays his hand over Cleopatra's.
Zorro eyes the hands of the Captain and Commander Church. If you could see under the mask an eyebrow would be arched. When he speaks there is no accent, instead the voice of the Vulcan First Officer, "I must inform you, Commander Church, that if you harm Gwendolyn in any way, I will teach you a lesson in Vulcan ritual combat." His tone has a very threatening edge.
Brunhild's eyes widen and she looks to Zorro with one of those 'what the *bleep* is with you' expressions.
Cleopatra, for her part, looks... amused more than anything. She tilts her head, eying the Vulcan-in-disguise, and her expression softens a bit.
Antony looks a bit shocked. "Ummm.... I don't think--Look Commander, I have no intention of hurting her. I mean I waited 11 years for this woman, I am not gonna throw that time away!" His tone is slightly angered.
Zorro smiles a bit "Good, as long as we understand each other." The accent is back, like nothing was ever wrong. "I believe that Mr. L'Treaux did a wonderful job on this party. It seems that it was a complete success."
Brunhild nods to this emphatically. "The food's terrific. And, y'know, the rest." She's dropped back into her normal accent, for whatever reason.
Cleopatra shakes her head a bit at Solvek, still looking amused. "Mmm. I hope that tomorrow goes off just as well."
Antony nods, "I have no doubt that it will." He stretches a bit, "But sadly I must call it a night. I have about a hundred documents to fill out in the morning." He stands, "I'll see you later tonight, honey." He leans down and kisses Gwen before he turns to leave.
Zorro rises as Antony stands up. "It was a pleasure meeting you Marcus Antonius." He bows and flourishes his cape, the rim of his hat nearly touching the floor.
The valkyrie finally, reluctantly lets Zorro's hand go as he stands and bows, returning her own to her lap. "Goodnight, Commander," she says.
Cleopatra smiles to Antony as he leaves, returns the kiss, and then turns back to the others as he goes. "So," she says. "You've worked things out then?"
Mark Antony leaves the area toward Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck
Mark Antony has left.
As Zorro sits back down he removes his hat and unties the bandanna serving as his mask. He folds it and lays it across the table. "Yes, I think we have. To a point at least." He smiles, then replaces the hat on his head. Reaching under the table he takes Fred's hand in his own and pulls it to the table's surface.
Fred blinks at Solvek as he takes her hand, then smiles. "I guess so, yes." She seems a bit... nervous is the only word for it, really. So, yes, she seems a bit nervous under the Captain's gaze.
Gwen chuckles softly. "Good. I'm... glad. Really. You two work well together." She folds her hands on the table.
Solvek looks at Fred and then at Gwen. "Yes, it does seem that there is a definite chemistry between the two of us. However, since we do not want to move too quickly, we are allowing this to progress as it will." There is a slight grin on his face.
Fred looks down at the table, clearing her throat. Her cheeks redden a bit--they seem to do that a lot--but she doesn't say anything.
Gwen raises an eyebrow. "Solvek... I don't mean to be insensitive or anything, but.. 'allowing things to progress as they will' usually leads to furtive meetings in the storage closet within about two weeks. Unless I'm misinterpreting those smoldering glances you always give her." Since when do Vulcans smolder? The Captain must just be playful because she's out of uniform.
Solvek raises an eyebrow of his own. "You forget something, Gwen. I am a Vulcan. We are not... prone to 'furtive meetings in storage closets.' I merely intend for this endeavor to be as positive and as natural as it can be."
Fred looks up at the Captain, blinks. "I wouldn't... we wouldn't..." She seems to realize that she's being teased, and falls silent, biting her lip, but still looking up at everyone. Ha! Improvement!
"So you don't deny the smoldering glances. I knew it!" Gwen grins. "Alright, I'll lay off. However, Winifred, you're going to have to get used to joking around if you're going to spend much time around Solvek. Not that he does much joking, of course, except in that dry, witty sort of way. But his friends tend to."
Solvek nearly does a double-take as Gwen uses Fred's first name. After realizing her intentions, he relaxes and simply nods.
Fred clears her throat and nods slowly. "I suppose I will at that, Captain."
Gwen chuckles. "Not Captain, Winifred. Gwen. Since we're clearly off-duty and out of uniform at the moment."
"Well, then... my mother calls me Winifred. And Solvek. But he's a Vulcan, so he gets away with it. Usually, it's just Fred." The science officer smiles, just a bit.
Gwen nods. "Fred, then."
"I do hate to bring up mildly upsetting topics, but I am concerned about the situation between the Antarean government and Starfleet Command." Solvek tilts his head a little. "As I was not present during the discussion with Admiral Crawford, what conclusions were reached?"
Fred, junior officer that she is, merely sits and listens.
Gwen sighs. "Ambassador Katsulock seemed to want to enjoy himself, but he assured me that we would hear from him on the matter soon... which I suspect means first thing tomorrow morning. He's not happy. And frankly, neither am I. That woman is an interfering, conniving bitch, and if I wasn't sleeping with her son I'd find a way to run her out of town."
Solvek's left eyebrow shoots up as Gwen openly insults a flag officer. He seems dumbfounded as to how to reply. After a moment, he states, "I was unaware that you and Commander Church were at that level of intimacy." Way to skirt around the more volatile subject, Solvek.
Fred just... gapes. With much gaping. At the Captain. Insulting an Admiral. In front of junior officers. And wait... what?!?
Gwen shrugs. "We were at that level eleven years ago... why go through all that tiresome dancing around each other when we've been through it all before?"
"As untraditional as that course of action is, it does appear to be the most logical." Solvek nods as he speaks. "I digress. Have we ascertained the reason that Starfleet Command wishes to continue the investigation as far from the scene of the offense as possible?"
Another shrug from the Captain. "I just found out tonight myself. We'll look into it tomorrow." Which in Gwen-speak means 'I don't want to talk about this any further in public.'
"Very well, then." Solvek seems to straighten, "I am sorry Gwen, but I have the sudden urge to take this woman beside me to the dance floor once more."
Fred closes her gaping mouth, looks to Solvek, and smiles. "Isn't it customary to ask first?"
Gwen chuckles. "Well, then, I won't keep you. I should be going up to my quarters myself. Thomas will be wondering what's keeping me." Leaving the pair to their own devices, she stands, nods to both, and heads out.
Solvek turns to Fred, his accent returns, "The custom in my lands is that I sweep you of your feet and carry you to the dance floor." He nods as Gwen heads to leave, "Good night Gwen." This is in his normal tone.
Hawkins leaves the area toward Garden Pathway - Starboard <Deck
Hawkins has left.
Fred raises an eyebrow and replies wryly, "I think I like Solvek the Vulcan better... I'm not fond of being carried about. But if Solvek won't dance with me, I suppose I can find time for Zorro on my card." She smiles.
Solvek smiles a bit, his voice returning to normal. "Very well. Will you allow me to dance with you, Fred?"
Fred smiles and stands, holding out a hand. "Of course, Solvek."
Solvek leads her to the dance floor as a slow orchestral piece begins to play. He places his right hand on her left shoulder and his left hand on the small of her back, pulling her somewhat close but still not quite touching. He waits for her to place herself and then begins to dance.
Fred does the same with her own hands and moves easily as Solvek begins to move. She's much more comfortable with this than the far more complicated tango, clearly. For a time she simply dances, and then finally says, "It's a shame it's getting so late... but I suppose there's always tomorrow."
Solvek's expression becomes still and his eyes are downcast, "I am not certain that tomorrow will be the same as today. I had planned a project with my sister for the second ball. This does not mean that I cannot dance with you. It only mean that my mannerisms will be different... quite different, in fact."
Fred frowns a bit. "Well... we'll still be able to interact, right? You'll be here, and we can talk, and possibly dance, and such. Just... another character?" She pauses. "I do like you better than Zorro, however charismatic he is."
Solvek's expression lightens a bit. "Of course we will be able to interact. The character will be much different. There will still be charisma, but it will be of a much different variety."
Fred nods. "It's alright. I understand. Whatever happens, don't feel badly... I understand the idea of playing the character." She pauses, blinks, as if considering the silliness of asking a Vulcan to 'not feel badly.' Then she sighs. "Your sister, hmm?"
"Is there a problem between T'Lyt and yourself?" Solvek's tone is slightly concerned. "I was under the impression that your relationship was on a professional level exclusively."
Fred shakes her head. "Oh, no... no problem. I mean, I barely know her. It's not that. Just..." Fred sighs. "It's silly."
"However 'silly' it may be, I still hold your ideas and opinions in high regard." Solvek spins Fred at the appropriate moment in the music. As she completes the spin he continues, "Please, elaborate."
Fred sighs, settling herself back into the normal steps of the dance. She looks at Solvek's shoulder as she speaks. "I'm just a bit... jealous, is all. She's beautiful... and intelligent... confident... a great, dedicated officer. I know she's your sister, but still. You deserve that, you know, a beautiful, confident Vulcan, not mousy little Fred Brooks, who can't keep her head on straight half the time."
"You are correct in many aspects of your observation. T'Lyt is all that you say. However, the flaw in what you say is your assessment of yourself." Solvek removes his hand from her shoulder, pulling her chin up so that she is looking at him directly. "You are beautiful, intelligent, and confident in your abilities. Regardless of your race, I have found an individual that meets proper criteria in you."
Though she twists her mouth to one side, Fred doesn't look away. "I don't feel confident," she says softly. Still, she can't help but break into a smile. "If you say so. I mean, I'm not going to argue with you when you're saying such nice things about me. You sure it's not just the outfit? I've been thinking of dyeing my hair red... I kind of like the way it looks."
"I believe it takes quite a bit of confidence to tell a seasoned scientist that a paper he wrote before one's birth is incorrect on multiple levels." Solvek's eyes travel to Fred's hair. He shakes his head. "If you were to dye your hair red, it would not look proper. Your hair is brown, and should remain such. It more appropriately matches your complexion."
Fred shakes her head, waving the hand that normally rests on Solvek's shoulder. "I'm confident in science, and my ability to understand such things... I know I'm smart, and I don't come to someone with half-baked theories. I make sure I'm right... or as sure as I can be. But that's science. There's not a lot of gray area in facts, and theories, well, everyone has theories that are proven wrong. I don't know if you've noticed, but if I'm not on-duty, I can't keep from tripping over my own feet. Figuratively and sometimes literally."
Solvek nods. "Very well, I will provide a secondary observation: this evening, you have shown exceptional confidence in your social abilities. When you first arrived, I was barely able to recognize you due to your posture and the mannerisms you portrayed. Even as you dropped the facade, your social confidence has not wavered."
Fred shrugs. "I'm trying to do better. I mean, everyone can try to improve, right? The costume helps. Still, I can't help but think I don't measure up to--" she cuts off, clearly changes what she was going to say, "...to what else is out there." Lame, Fred. Reeaaal lame.
Solvek smirks. "As illogical as the coping mechanism is, I thank you for furthering its use. However, I do not believe it is your choice as to who I choose to spend time with. Except, of course, when you are that individual."
A sigh. "Alright, alright. I'm not squirming out of this." Fred smiles. "I'm just not used to feeling... stable, is all. Or acting that way. Thank you, for that." Impulsively, she steps in closer as the dance allows, resting her head on his shoulder.
Solvek reflexively tenses as she moves closer. As she rests her head on his shoulder, he seems to fully relax. He repositions his hand on her upper back. He leans down and whispers, "Thank you for this evening, Fred."
Fred smiles, closing her eyes. "You're welcome." Pause. "You know... that's the third time tonight you've called me Fred."
Solvek ponders her statement as he adjusts the dance steps to accommodate their proximity. "I believe you are correct. The name has a simplicity to it that I find comfortable to use in speech. If you wish, I can refrain from its further use."
"Oh, no... no. It's fine. It sounds... right." Fred sighs, keeps her eyes closed.
(The scene fades to black as the pair continue to dance.)