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What Lies Beneath
Tip of the Iceberg

By the Pond <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 pond has been tucked away in one corner of the garden, shielded from the outer walkway by both trees and bushes. The pond itself is deep enough to hold fish, and is fed by a waterfall that flows from a rocky outcropping toward the center of the garden. A long grassy expanse is dotted with benches, black iron frames with wood slats, curved and carved in an imitation of what might have been found in a 19th century city park. There is plenty of room for people to move around and play on the grass, or for those wishing a picnic to spread out their blankets. The waterfall is part of a rock garden in a style common in Japan on Terra, creating with the pond a display of grace and beauty for those on the benches to admire.

Players:
Danley
Brooks

OOC Time: Thu Jun 28 20:30:17 2007
Earth Time: May 17 19:45:39 2376
Star Time: 53374.9 22:52:06

(It's dark on the Promenade, but the pond area is illuminated by panels underwater that cause the light to jump and sparkle, as well as a few "streetlamps" that are scattered around the area. Very few people are here this time of night--most looking for romance are going to go to the garden restaurant or the rose garden, both more private. But there's at least one officer here, sitting on one of the rocks by the pond, jacket discarded next to her on the grass: Fred Brooks, who has her knees pulled to her chest and her arms wrapped around her legs, staring at the pond.)

Danley shuffles down the path until he spots Brooks. Scratching his chin he attempts to sneak up behind her. No malice in his mind what so ever... no, not at all.

Brooks is humming to herself softly, an odd sort of tune for anyone who doesn't listen to a wide range of music... slow, melodic, with odd harmonics. She rests her chin on her knees, letting her hair half-cover her face. No clue Danley's coming up behind her.

Danley reaches out and grabs Winifred's shoulders with his hands. Then he gives her a strong push towards the water but he doesn't let go and tries to keep her from actually falling into the pond.

Brooks is sitting on a rock near the pond, staring at the water with knees drawn to chest and arms wrapped around legs. As Danley pushes her she yelps, hands shooting out to steady herself, legs unfolding as well. She has surprisingly good balance for a blueshirt, and is sitting down anyhow, so she dosen't pitch into the water. When Danley doesn't let go she says, in a calm, low voice, "If you don't remove your hands you're gonna lose the use of them for the next few weeks." There's no indication she has any clue who's there.

Danley chuckles a bit as he lets go of Brooks and takes a couple of quick steps back out of striking distance, "Well, I thought it was funny. But I didn't want you to actually fall in."

Aventino heads down off the main path and through the brush, hands tucked at the small of her back and looking for all intents and purposes back to good health. She's not in uniform, wearing some comfortable civvie gear and leaning down to brush a spiderweb off of her leg before grinning at the pair by the pond, "There you go again pushing around the ladytypes, huh, Mister Danley?" she asks with a chuckle, "You going to live, Fred?"

Brooks's manner changes immediately on hearing Danley's voice, and she turns to look at him. "That ain't nice." She seems petulant now, more than anything, a definite change from her earlier, threatening tone. "I'll live. No thanks to him."

Danley shrugs a bit, "Well, she was all intent on the water. It was too good of an opportunity to pass up ya know? But I didn't want her busting her nose again so I tried to make sure she wasn't actually going anywhere... I suppose it might have been a bit mean though..."

Aventino comes up to the water across a short expanse of the pond from the other two, and crouches down on the short sandy threshold that separates the grass from the water, watching the fish for a moment before smiling up at the others, "Well, that all depends on how far she'd gotten on counting these fish before you made her lose track."

Brooks shakes her head. "Wasn't counting fish. Was... thinking about things. Wouldn't have fallen in. You just scared me."

Danley looks around and finally just plops down on the ground and lays back in the grass, "So... did the Sal come up with any answers?"

Aventino grins, "Doc worked miracles. I'm clean as a whistle, though I need to go back into Sickbay tomorrow for another going-over," she says, unstrapping her boots and pulling them off one at a time without rising from her crouch, getting her toes in the grass and sand and then standing, bending over and beginning to roll up the baggy legs of her civvie worksuit to around her knees.

Brooks goes back to sitting with arms wrapped around her legs. "That's good. You were pretty out of it earlier. Solvek seems back to normal, too. I guess whatever the Counselor did worked pretty well."

Danley nods, "That's good. Sounds like things may be back to normal then. But if you catch a fish I ain't cooking it."

Aventino steps slowly into the water, scaring off tadpoles left and right. Soon ankle deep, "Oh, I'll catch a fish," she jokes, "I'm just looking for a nice plump one I can have mounted on my wall," she chuckles, wading a little deeper, "And things may be back to normal for Solvek and me, but who knows who else has got this thing?"

Brooks puts her chin on her knees again. "I'm sure they'll find everyone who's got it and bring it out. Solvek said Captain Hawkins seemed pretty upset at the idea of some weird neural program spreading through the crew."

Danley supresses a yawn, "I'm sure you'll catch whatever ya want. Wait... neural program? I'm not sure that I follow."

Aventino looks up from the waters at that neural program comment, herself, "Was that what it was? You can tell I'm really in the loop, huh? I'm just glad that whatever the hell it was is gone." She leans down and splashes her fingertips through the water, scaring a small gathering of fishes and watching them scatter.

Brooks shrugs. "He said something about a program meant to bring self-knowledge that became corrupted... or something. A computer program, like, but written on neurons, I guess. They found it in him and drove it out, and I guess out of Bunni too, and they're gonna work on dealing with everyone else. I think I'm issing some of the details... I was a little... distracted while we were talking about it." The darkness and her hair obscure any color on Fred's cheeks.

Danley leans up on his elbows, "Distracted? They're talking about some science experiment gone wild and you were distracted? That's... odd."

Aventino chuckles lightly, "Nothing odd about it, her boy's been under the influence of some mad computer program and she finally has him back. Hell, a good portion of her waking thoughts at this point are probably given over to deciding what kind of a neckline she wants on her wedding dress."

Brooks wrinkles her nose at Aventino. "Are not." Pause. "Well, alright. I am trying to figure out how to combine Vulcan and human customs... and how to be sure it doesn't take me to long to pass these 'tests' T'Lyt's putting me through to see if I'm worthy of her brother." She sighs. "And I thought Granny'd be the problem..."

Danley stands back up and dusts himself off, "Sounds like fun."

Aventino wipes her wet hand off on the hem of her shirt, laughing lightly, "Solvek actually calls his grandmother 'granny'? And what sort of tests are these? Like, do you have to play her in chess or somesuch? Not to, you know, resort to rampant stereotyping or anything."

"No, no, my Granny... I'm her only granddaughter and she has... opinions." Brooks sighs. "She says I measure up in intelligence already... first I have to go get a full physical, from a physician of my choice and one of hers. Including, of course, fertility tests. After that, I dunno. She's supposedly ensuring I will be an acceptable mate to Solvek, mother to our childern, member of their family, and so on." She shrugs. "I'm sure I'll measure up, and if I don't, well, I'll take the tests again until I do."

Danley begins heading up the pathway, "I imagine you don't have anything to worry about Winnie..."

Aventino turns at the waist and squints at the bartender, "Hey, Mister Danley, where are you running off to?"

Brooks blinks after Danley. "'Winnie?' Ugh. I'd prefer Winifred, geez."

Danley shrugs a bit, "Ed... or Danley... Mister just sounds wrong. I just figured you two were going to talk about weddings and such. Figured I'd leave you two so you could plot."

Brooks blinks at Danley again. "Plot... what? It's just a wedding. Solvek and I'll figure it all out, and find ways to make our families accept it. What would there be to talk about with anyone else?"

Aventino smiles at Ed, "Stick around. Don't worry, I'll gag her myself if she starts going on too long about lace and frills and what color scheme the flowers should have," she chuckles, wading back up to the shore and getting a nice layer of wet sand crusted over her toes, which she attempts to wipe off in the grass. "In any case I still needed to thank you for all your help while I was in Sickbay. I mean," she smirks a little, teasing, "I know it was really the least you could do, considering everything, but," a little more serious, "It really did mean a lot to me. Thanks, Ed," she holds out her right hand as a sort of peace offering, if he'll take it.

Brooks stares at Aventino. "Color... scheme... for flowers? Why... would you...?" Evidently a bit out of her depth for a moment, she gladly takes the change of subject, falling silent and watching Danley's reaction.

Danley nods and stares at the hand for a moment before accepting the offered appendage, "No worries, I'd hope someone would try and keep me safe if someone was re-writing my brain."

Aventino grins, gripping Ed's hand firmly and shaking it, "Deal," she offers, before releasing. "I don't think you've got anything to worry about. There are good people around, good doctors," she offers, then, grin veering impish, "'Sides, not much up there to re-write, is there?" she ducks and backs off running a few steps, as if expecting retaliation for that one.

Brooks rocks back a bit, still clutching her legs, watching the two with head tilted.

Danley flashes a weak grin and nods, "Yeah, you're probably right. Too many days of being one gelatin shot away from alcohol poisoning. Speaking of which, I should get back to the office I suppose."

Aventino continues her retreat, if not quite as swift-footedly as at the outset, clamboring barefooted up the rocks to stand by Fred. "Well, okay. I probably won't be in tonight, I think I've had enough of the night life for a while." She blinks, "I can't believe I just said that."

Brooks looks up at Bunni and smiles. "A night in can be nice. Play music... read... whatever. Okay, so I have a lot of nights in. They can still be nice."

Danley rubs his forehead while he squeezes he eyes closed, "A night in can also be the lead up to a fond farewell... not that... yeah... anyway."

Aventino turns her head from Fred to Ed as he pipes up, and she wrinkles her nose a little, brows furrowing in curiosity, "What?"

Brooks looks over to Danley, raising an eyebrow.

Danley shakes his head, "I'm just in a strange frame of mind. Various thoughts I'm not used to and my life is just out of balance right now."

Aventino frowns a moment, "Well, if you want to talk about stuff... well, first of all, you'll have to talk out loud, I can't hear your thinkmeats anymore," she says, then, as the situation sounds sort of familiar: "Have you been to ask the doctor to scan you for external influences, yet?"

Brooks peers at Danley for a long moment, rocking back and forth a little. She tilts her head. "Out of balance how?"

Danley shakes his head, "Yeah it's external influences but not anything the doctors can fix. The out of balance... It's just ya believe one thing for a long time and then you start think about other roads... But ehh... doesn't really matter I suppose."

Aventino furrows her brows at that last, "It sort of sounds like it matters," she points out, "I mean, it's obviously bugging you. Paradigm shifts can be pretty rough, after all. Wanna tell us what's going on? Maybe we can help. Or, if not help, just... listen."

Brooks nods slowly. "Change can be hard, but, y'know, it can be good, too. Real good."

Danley sighs, "Yeah, it's bothering me. But I can't really talk about it right now. And maybe it's good. Or maybe a change would lead to the downfall of the United Federation of Planets. Or maybe it doesn't change anything at all. Maybe it settles things. Just kind of got to wait and see."

Aventino looks over at Ed, looking curious, but not being about to push it, at this point. "Well, I guess all that's left for me to say is good luck, and, well, if you ever do want to talk about crap, you know where I live. Hell, you know where I live, work, and spend most of my other waking hours. Come find me. I'll make time if I don't have any on hand."

Brooks giggles softly. "Same here, but I bet Bunni'd be a better option... given how much of my free time's taken up these days."

Danley nods, "We'll see.. I've got work I've been neglecting these last couple of days. Mother Mary full of grace and all that sort of stuff I should be checking on."

Aventino chuckles quietly, "I'd ask, but it sounds important."

Brooks shakes her head. "Go deal with the drunks... we ain't going nowhere. Yet."

Aventino steps down two rocks closer to the water and settles down, sticking her feet in. "Come on, get your feet wet, the water's actually not as gross as it looks."

Brooks sighs and removes her boots and socks, sticking the socks in the boots before putting them aside. She dangles her feet in the water. "What d'you think is up with him, then?"

Aventino shrugs a bit, not really knowing how much of what Ed told her was in strict confidence and what not, so she doesn't go spreading his issues around the station. "I dunno, like the Captain said, everyone here has baggage. Just... not everyone has claimed their baggage, yet."

Brooks chuckles to that. "I guess. I still wonder how I managed to be in close physical contact with someone that had that thing inside and never got it. I guess I'm too crazy for computer programs to try and help." She grins, evidently trying to lighten the mood.

Aventino grins, moving her feet through the water, "Yeah, guess so. Isn't that just like a computer program, slacking on the job?" she leans against a larger rock and sighs contentedly enough, then, eyes opening wide, "Oh, for fuck's sake."

Brooks blinks at Aventino. "What's wrong, Bunni? You alright?" She looks around as if expecting... something.

Aventino takes a deep breath and lets out a sort of hissing sigh between her teeth, "I should talk to G'Mar, let him know to get himself checked out. How embarrassing would that be, if I gave him something?" she chuckles.

Brooks lies back on the grass, staring up at the trees and the other Promenade decks above, then blinks and props herself up on her elbows. "Wait. You... and the Ambassador?"

Aventino turns her head and blinks at Fred, "Didn't I send you that memo already? Only about seventeen times in the last week and a half. I was very needy, and he was very--" she smiles a bit, "Obliging," her smile fades a little, "I hope he takes all of this alright. He's a good guy, the Ambassador."

Brooks blinks repeatedly. "Wow. I would've thought you and Da... I mean... well, you were getting along and all. It was just the... program, then? 'Cause I thought it didn't really make you do anything you didn't already want to do..."

Aventino shrugs, "I have no idea what that thing did to me, all I know is that I was ready to go more or less constantly for the better part of a week and a half, and there got to a couple of points where really almost anybody would have done. Hell, I tried to have my way with you, and you're practically married. I don't play like that. That's not cool. Not to say I don't think you're attractive... I do. But-- yeah, it's just not right."

Brooks grins a little at the compliment. "Thanks. Yeah, I dunno. It's kinda odd. I thought maybe Solvek was the same way but... well... I mean, at least we manage to get work done first now." She shakes her head. "Vulcans are way complex. So are men. Vulcan men... forget it. But, anyway, I'm kinda surprised at an Antarean being so willing to do that. They've been becoming real stodgy lately."

Aventino shrugs, "Well, I'll ask him to come over to Sickbay tomorrow with me and let the doc give him the once-over. You never know. Hm, then maybe we can go hang out somewhere afterward. It's weird, we've been screwing so often, I'm just kind of looking forward to some time to spend with him, you know, not bent over something," she laughs a little. "Maybe we can have a re-match at the pool table."

Brooks nods fervently. "I know how you feel. Well, a little different, 'cause I don't think you're gonna marry the Ambassador... but yeah, it's nice to just talk to someone, y'know?"

Aventino snorks, "Oh God, no. I hope he doesn't think so, anyway," she grimaces a little, "That'd be awkward," she laughs.

Fred giggles. "Nah, Antareans ain't like that. They have casual sex. They're just frowning on it more these days."

Aventino draws her hands up behind her head and digs her toes into the wet sand, "Oh! Hey, I still wanted to talk to you about that project I was working on. If you're up for some dinner and particle theory, mebbe?"

Church walks down the path into the area, a bit of a smile on his face. As he comes closer to the pond, he notices Aventino. His expression turns to one of nervousness and he quickly turns around and attempts to leave. Likely too late to avoid notice, though.

Brooks hmms softly. "I could handle that... what sort of project is it, anyhow?" She kicks at the water, with the air of someone making a reasoned choice because, dammit, she ought to. Spend time with friends, silly girl. But she does sound interested. Noticing other foosteps, she looks up. "Oh, hi, Thomas."

Aventino rolls over onto her tummy, eyes hunting for Fred as she grins, "I'm working on some new approaches to particle alignment for a self-replicating transporter buffer I've designed. That's where you'd come in--" she breaks off at Fred's greeting, and pushes herself up on her hands, back twisting to look in that direction. "Well, hey, look who decided to exist again." She sounds less than pleased, but only mildly so. "Were you ever planning on responding to my communication?"

Church stops dead in his tracks, a very quiet curse muttered under his breath. He turns and a smile is on his face, "Actually, Ms. Aventino, I had intended to reply but for the past week or so I have been.... indisposed, so to speak. Thankfully, Commander Solvek was quite capable of waking me from my reverie." He slowly and casually walks to where the women are laying.

Brooks peers at Bunni for a moment, then to Church. Head tilts, and she frowns. "Indisposed? Reverie? You okay?" She seems content to lie back on her elbows, mumbling something under her breath about transporters.

Aventino quirks a brow, "So you had it, too, huh?" she murmurs, "Okay, so you're here, now, awake and fairly sane-looking. Want to tell me about the Queen Mary?" she posits to him rather bluntly.

"For the record, I was doing my job as a Starfleet Ambassadorial envoy to retrieve the necessary clearance for SFC. After that task was completed, the situation was out of my hands." Church runs his hand through his hair. "About the fact that Starfleet's escort ship was not present, and the fact that all the evidence we worked so hard to collect was so easily thrown to the wayside and ashed... Well, my only thought--without sounding insubordinate--is that someone," he coughs, saying something that sounds like 'my mom,' "is a stupid bitch and decided that this entire thing wasn't worth the escort it needed."

Aventino gives Tommy a sort of incredulous, flat state, "If the entire thing wasn't worth the escort it needed -- if it wasn't even worth the escort that it was promised... then why was it worth the effort of getting away from the Antareans in the first place?" Yes, Bunni's already decided what went down, and that much is obvious from her choices of phrase. "As far as I remember, you were rather hard pressed to get those data, having, if I recall, no substantial reasoning to offer in favor of its surrender."

"'Cause Admiral Church is trying to cover something up," Fred mutters, then blinks. "I... I didn't mean... didn't mean to imply..." Well, no, you did, Fred.

Church visibly sighs. Looking around the pond area he whispers, "Look, I already have my own theories about who did what and why... but that doesn't mean I go about yammering those theories. She's a freaking Admiral... okay? She could have all our heads on a platter."

Aventino chuckles at Fred's apologia, then looks to Tommy with a shrug. "Well, yes, but you're going to yammer those theories to me, right now, because you were the one who got me involved in this, and I damned well want to know what the hell is going on."

Brooks frowns at Church for a moment, but doesn't say anything further, instead sitting up nad folding her arms across her chest.

Church sighs again. "Fine." He sits himsely down on the grass beside the two women. "What I think is that... someone... wanted to make sure the evidence got to their hands and only their hands so that they could do a full scale independent investigation and become the hero thus making everyone here... most especially Gwen -- I mean, Captain Hawkins -- look bad. I believe that the evidence we sent was pirated... I don't know how, so don't ask me... and that that someone has the evidence and is doing exactly what I speculate."

Aventino groans in something near agony, "Don't tell me that ship full of people died in some sort of investigators' penis-wagging contest."

Brooks stares at Church. "Why that bitch." She frowns. "Well that explains... umm... hmm. Anyhow. So what do we do about this?"

"Sadly... yeah, that's what I think happened. And yes, she is..." Church nods. "Look, I'm not going to come out and say what I think is the truth, it's just what I think."

Aventino shrugs, "Doesn't seem like there's much to do at this point. I mean, the ship will still be destroyed, the evidence will still be gone... was there ever a mission to investigate the debris, or... did we all get a bit too distracted to pull that one off?" she wonders. "I've already talked to G'Mar about it, so I guess the next move belongs to the Antareans. And I wouldn't blame them for being pissed. Or we just sit around and wait to see if anyone shows up randomly with the answer to the mystery."

Brooks's eyes narrow and she lowers her voice. "Wait a minute. Is this because you're sleeping with Gwen? Is your mother pulling a fast one on everyone just to show up her son's girlfriend? You've got to be kidding."

Church rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "Sadly enough, I think that's part of the problem. Mom and her don't neccesarily get along. I think the fact that Admiral Crawford is here has a lot to do with it, too. But I'm really not entirely certain. My Mom's brain is a complete mystery to me as much as the purpose of the Antares Maelstrom is to Commander Solvek... and you."

Aventino is lounging in the grass by the pond, propped up on her elbows. Fred is sitting on a rock and Tommy's standing around somewhere closeby. Bunni eyes Tommy, "Or it could have something to do with the fact that your mom didn't want anyone to be able to thoroughly investigate that data. Which is my own personal favorite theory. After all, anyone who turns up with the information now is obviously the culprit in the Queen Mary explosion. The Admiral had already gotten her hands on the data, it was on its way to her. Why blow up the ship and subtly steal it again?"

"Well, who's gonna get the blame for all this? The Captain, and Admiral Crawford, publically. So that's a motive." Fred sighs. "I guess this don't do no good. People who're better equipped are looking into it..."

Danley stumbles down the pathway towards the pond carrying a nearly empty bottle of whiskey. He catches his balance just barely as he finishes walking down the path, "See... now that's the better question. And... and... and... I... shhhh... I know the... the answer... but it's it is... it's a secret."

Church, whose train of thought is completely shattered as Danley stumbles in, stares at the man. "I know it's kind of a moot point, but somebody has to be obvious -- you're drunk."

Aventino shakes her head at Fred, "Not to anyone with an ounce of sense," she replies, before rolling to her side to watch Ed sumbling in. "Not anymore, you can't announce you have a secret and then not tell it, it's against the rules. So what's the answer, Ed? Who killed the Queen Mary? And why?" she asks, smiling broadly.

Brooks looks over to Danley. "Taste of your own medicine. What's the big secret?"

Danley plops down and takes another drink from the bottle, "Obvious gmae game it is is it? Olright. Your sleepin with the Hawk agian... Mommy no like. Ruin Hawk career. Get you to find someone someone else. Not mention cover er own tracks in hole mess. Mommy doesn't like Hawk."

"First of all... I'm gonna need a translator for what he just said." Church grins. "Second of all... there's no secret in that. What's your big secret?"

Aventino laughs aloud, "You and Fred, blah blah blah, she doesn't like her boy's girl. God if that's the truth I'm going to shoot myself in the fucking head," exaggerating. "I still think SFC was behind the embassy bombing. Then at least the Queen Mary went down hiding something fucking huge."

"Why not both? Thomas' mother doesn't like that his girlfriend's homing in on her super evil plan of doom?" Fred pauses. "Besides, y'know, this being Starfleet and us talking about Thomas' mother in such a way."

Danley shakes his head, "Not liking berry covers it. Hawk was SFI. Church secretion 31. If Tommy boy was in it Hawk would of illed 'em last time."

Church's expression goes from amused to angered in a split second. "I really hope that this is just a drunken tirade on your part, Mr. Danley. My mother may be a lot of things, but Section 31 she isn't. And before this goes any further, I think I might have to leave."

Aventino waves a hand about, "You're right, Tommy's right, we should change the subject. Now that we've conspiracy theorized ourselves into the ground. I could use some supper, how about everyone else? We could picnic over there on the grass," she points with a sandy toe.

Brooks gapes at Danley for a long second, eyes wide, then suddenly says, "Picnic! Umm. I already ate, really. So I dunno. But that sounds decent. Picnic. Yes."

Salvir comes walking up the path. He nods to the gathering as he sees them.

Danley shakes his head, "It gotta be sumthin like secretion 31. I herd the heads blew up by impaled bombs. Only secretion 31 would do that." Taking and drink from the bottle he adds, "Head bombs... that's a real secretion."

Church rolls his eyes. "It is a very one-track mind you have, Mr. Danley. Now I suggest you either sober up real quick or either you or I can leave this gathering. I'll let you make the decision."

"Let's order out Bajoran from the promenade," Bunni decides as she stands up from the sandy bank and washes her feet off a bit in the pond before heading across the grass a little ways, "I'll put the order in, what does everyone want? Hey! Doc, we're just going to have some supper. Bajoran. What do you want? I'll get your tab, too, what with you saving my life and all," she smiles.

Salvir smiles. "I really didn't do all that much. But I will accept a free meal and call things even. I'll take a hasperat and some kava juice."

Brooks shakes her head slowly, frowning at Danley. "I don't want anything to eat, Bunni. Sorry." She reaches for her socks and starts pulling them on. "I need to go talk to someone."

Danley stands and stumbles back up the path, "Fine fine fine, I seeee wren I ain't wanted. Sum people just want see the truth till its late. I'll just go home."

Church shrugs. "No, you stay here. I've got some things I've got to take care of anyway." He brushes off the grass from his pants and starts towards the path out.

Aventino watches everyone scatter, "Jesus, guys, if you didn't like Bajoran you could just say so," she chuckles and shakes her head. "Hey, doc, why don't we go down to the Promenade, instead. And we can go there by way of Ed's quarters... I think he might need a hand home, hm?" she asks the Counselor, picking up her boots in her hands and heading after Ed, "What do you say, Ed? Will you take a bit of help getting home?"

Danley smirks as he examines how much is left in the bottle, "You gonna carry me this time? Shure... I'll take some help."

Solvek walks into the area, "Actually, Ms. Aventino, I too am quite fond of Bajoran cuisine. If it pleases you, I would join your group?"

Fred has her boots on, and stands, picking up her jacket. "It's not that I don't like Bajoran, I actually do..." She blinks at Solvek and sighs. "I guess I could have some, if y'want."

Brooks thinks, "Damn it, I think of the man and he shows up. ...Handy, though."

Solvek thinks to Brooks, "Get used to it."

Salvir nods. "Well, I could escort Mr. Danley down to his quarters and then join you all back here."

Danley says, "Bah... I don't need an away party to take me home... I'll find it."

Aventino grins at Ed, "I think between the doc and I we can manage... err... between the three of us... the four of us, rather," she grins as the group begins to grow again, and she shakes her head, "You three head down and pick a good table. Order me a hasperat with extra sauce on the side and a tea, if they get around to taking our order before I get back." She smiles at Ed, "Well, you're not going alone, that's for sure. Come on."

Salvir looks over at Brooks and Solvek, "Well, you heard her... I suppose we should find a nice spot to sit down and send in our orders."

Solvek quirks an eyebrow at Fred and his head moves a fraction of an inch to each side. He turns to Salvir. "That sounds quite acceptable. Let us go." He motions to Fred and offers his first two fingers.

<Compin> Aventino says, "Aventino to Brooks."

Brooks walks over with a look for Salvir. "Let's do that... however long we have to wait. I think it's up on Deck 29?" She completes the ritual embrace almost, seemingly, without thinking about it. Taps her compin with the other hand.

<Compin> Brooks says, "Go ahead?"

<Compin> Aventino says, "Ed was surprisingly light for a fellow his size. Did I beat you all here or are you hiding somewhere I can't see you?"

<Compin> Brooks says, "We're on our way. Patience, grasshopper."

<Compin> Aventino says, "But I'm hungry."

<Compin> Brooks says, "On. Our. Way."

<Compin> The Communications Officer says, "You're cluttering the line, girls."

<Compin> Brooks says, "Tell that to her... Brooks out."

Salvir shakes his head. "I think we should get up there..."

Brooks nods and starts off, dragging Solvek with her. As much as one can drag, touching only two fingers together.

(The scene cuts to a Bajoran Restaurant a couple of decks up the Promenade.)

Aventino has a table saved, out in the little enclosed area in front of the restaurant, and she waves an arm energetically as the others arrive. A variety plate of teas are in the middle of the table, as well as two tall steaming pots, the table set with small cups and place settings. "I didn't know what sort of teas people liked, so I just got a whole mess of 'em." Salvir chuckles as he enters and hears Aventino. "I prefer jestral tea, but any is fine."

Solvek nods. "I appreciate your gesture. I myself am quite fond of spice tea." He sits and begins to prepare himself a cup.

Brooks steps away, dropping her hand from Solvek's and pondering the table as she sits. "Well. If it's gonna be hot tea... I'll try some of everything. So, this first." She starts making herself a cup of tea at random.

Aventino grins at Fred, "That's the spirit. I like to be surprised," she chuckles as she takes a sample of the tea next to the one Fred chose, sniffing it interestedly before dropping it into her cup and waiting for someone to finish with one of the tall, slender teapots before she pours her own.

Salvir sits down and pours himself some tea. "So... are either of you feeling any ill effects so far?"

Solvek shakes his head. "No, Counselor, it appears that the entity is fully purged from my system. There have been no inadvertent side effects." He stirs his tea and takes a sip.

Brooks takes the teapot Solvek was using and pours her own tea, watching the others. As she finishes pouring she frowns and leans over to whisper something to Solvek, softly enough that only he can hear: "I need to talk to you... soon. I was gonna come up right now, but I want to be sociable too."

Aventino stirs her own tea, pressing it against the side of the cup with her spoon until the water's stained a dark-- purple? Well, she said she wanted a surprise. She shakes her head, "Nothing apart from a few odd glances, but I guess all that will pass," she grins, lifting the teacup and sniffing it before she sips and nods a sort of 'hey, that's pretty good' nod. "Oh! I'm going to see if I can get G'Mar to come in with me to Sickbay tomorrow and get scanned. Just in case, you know? Would you have time for that?"

Salvir nods. "I've already talked with the Captain about that. She will make an inquiry to the embassy and offer my services if they're required. Or however diplomats talk." He chuckles a bit.

Aventino shrugs, "Well, I'll see if he won't come in tomorrow and you can make the offer then. I figure we'll probably need to talk, anyhow."

Salvir nods. "Probably. I'm sure what he has gone through has been just as unpleasant as what you and the Commander did as well."

Solvek leans into Fred and whispers something in response: "Very well. We may discuss it in my quarters after this gathering." Withdrawing, he turns to Aventino and Salvir. "What gives you the suspicion that Ambassador Katsulock is being affected by the relic?"

Brooks smiles briefly to Solvek and then chuckles, sipping at her tea. Which is... blue. Interesting.

Aventino lifts her teacup and grins over the edge of it to Salvir, "I'm not sure whether I should be insulted or not, Doctor," she laughs, sipping and setting the cup down again, "Well, it's true I didn't really notice anything abnormal about him, but I only met him once before I was contaminated, and he certainly had enough chances to pick it up," she smiles faintly, "And he did seem awfully excited about getting locked up in the brig. I do hear that was a wild night in the brig," she chuckles.

Salvir smiles. "Are you saying that you liked the experience, Lieutenant?"

Aventino chuckles at Salvir, "I don't know, they didn't haul me in, they sent me to Sickbay instead."

Salvir nods. "But I ment the mental stress that you were placed under."

Solvek quirks an eyebrow. "I think perhaps your suspicion is overreaction. Ambassador Katsulock is quite fond of new experiences. His capture and imprisonment could be seen as an exciting and new experience for him. From what I gather, during his stay, he was quite inquisitive of the security officers posted there."

Brooks smirks idly. "Bunni had... ahh... quite a bit of physical contact with the Ambassador. People seem to forget that other people have had extensive physical contact with infected folk and not been infected." She grins at Aventino and sips her tea. "Hey, were we gonna eat?"

Aventino raises a brow at the doctor, "Did I enjoy getting my brain re-written by some piece of alien programming? Not really," she answers honestly, "The sex was pretty good, though," she shrugs, then smiles at Solvek, "Well, good to know he's probably still got his head in one piece. That'd be a hell of a VD to be passing around. Oops, I gave you the Crazies. Sorry!" she mimes playfully. "Right, food. Where's the waiter? I'm going to starve to death before he even gets over here."

Salvir coughs as he drinks his tea durring Aventino's spiel. "Wow... you sure there's no lasting effects there?"

Solvek's face is expressionless as he states, "I must admit that this gathering is quite amusing." Solvek turns to Salvir. "Counselor, I do not think you have anything to worry about concerning Ms. Aventino. The information I've gathered from Fred indicates that she is regularly quite boisterous and is unafraid to speak her mind bluntly. This trait, I believe, is very common in Humans."

Brooks nods in agreement with Solvek. "She talked me into body shots the first night we met. You know, with the licking of salt off of necks and such." She glances over to the Vulcan with a mischevious sort of grin and then goes back to her tea.

Aventino grins at Fred, "I think the four shots before the body shots talked you into the body shots," she chuckles. "And don't you go getting all sweet on me, now, Commander," she teases, "You're getting married soon!" she warns him, as if he didn't know. "So, what's your take on this whole testing business Fred has to go through?" she wonders, "And where is the waiter? Oh, there he is. I'll have an hasparat... um... make that two, with an extra side order of that sauce," she still doesn't remember the Bajoran name for it, but 'that sauce' seems to do nicely.

Salvir looks at the waiter. "One hasparat for me..." He looks over at Solvek. "You two are getting married already?" There's a bit of shock at the suddenness of it all.

Solvek turns to the waiter. "I will have a plate of linguini with Bajoran shrimp topped with a cream sauce." He turns back to Aventino. "I believe this test is to prove to my sister that Fred has the qualities that she believes are required to be part of my family. It will most likely consist of logic and emotional control testing. However, one can never be too sure when it concerns my sister's ideas."

"Veklava, please," Brooks says to the waiter, then nods to Salvir. "I'm not sure he would've asked this soon if not for the... program, but we do still want to get married. If you've shared consciousness with a person, and you know all their deepest secrets, and you still love them... why wait? I mean, it'll be a few months anyhow."

Aventino shakes her head, "Yeah, I figured that was about it, but what I meant was... well, let's just say if I decided (god forbid) to get married, and one of my brothers decided he had to sit the guy an exam in order to prove himself 'worthy,' I'd tell him to get bent."

Salvir smiles at Solvek and Brooks. "Well, then I hope that you two are very happy. I think you both make a wonderful couple." He looks back at Aventino, "Vulcan standards are very diferent. Humans are very accpeting. Even in my own culture it's not unusual for more conservative families to not fully approve of a mixed-race marriage."

Solvek's expression is one of understanding. "I do not believe this testing is strictly because Fred is a human. On Vulcan, one's mate is typically chosen by one's parents when one is a child. In this case, I believe T'Lyt is looking out for the best interests of the family, as she would for her own children should she have any. In a typical situation, my mother would be the one to provide the tseting. As she is no longer alive, T'Lyt has assumed the matriarchal position for my family."

Brooks sips her tea. "It's actually a fairly common practice. Marriage isn't just about love... it's about who's responsible for the children, who cares for the parents when they get older, who cares for an invalid adult. Property rights... politics... all sorts of things are bound up in marriages. A marriage is a contract between two people, but also between two families, or clans, or nations, or worlds, saying 'here's how we're arranging these issues, here's who is responsible for what.' By marrying Solvek, I become the mother of grandchildren or nieces and nephews... I become responsible for passing on their family line. I become responsible for taking care of their son, their brother... and someday when they are old I may take care of them. I become part of the family. I do not begrudge T'Lyt's wish to be sure I will make a proper addition to their clan. In fact, I'm honored that she's willing to let a Human go through these trials." Another sip. "It's not so different with Humans. My parents surely thought about all of that when I told them I was getting married. Solvek's record speaks for itself... but you can be sure that if they meet him and think he ain't treating me right, there will be words. After all... if he turned out to be a terrible person who ruined my life... who will I go back to but my parents?"

Aventino just sort of shrinks slowly under Fred's discussion of marriage, "Christ, Fred, you're giving me cold feet and I'm not even in on this whole arrangement," she comments with a grin, finally, shaking it off, then, winking, "And you were going to elope," she adds.

Salvir smiles at Fred. "Very well said. I think you'll fit right in. And I appologise if you thought I ascribed racist connotatoins to the Vulcan testing. I know that it is only to check for compatability because of the nature of Vulcan culture."

Solvek looks at Fred, a beaming expression in his eyes that does not translate to the rest of his face. "Very well spoken, Fred. I do not believe I could have conveyed the message any better." He takes a slow and deliberate sip of his tea.

Brooks smiles a bit, cheeks flushing... just as the food arrives. "Eloping was a joke, Bunni. I'd never live it down. I'm the only granddaughter on both sides." She starts in on her food with a will. Not hungry, right. "Anyway, what the heck are cold feet?" The anthropologist is not up with the old-time lingo, it seems.

Aventino tucks into her own food when it arrives, dipping the tip of the wrap into the slick translucent green sauce and chowing down until she's got a good burn going, her eyes and nose running pleasantly, and she blows her nose on a napkin. "My sinuses love me," she announces briefly. "Cold feet? Something you'll never have to deal with, most likely. It describes that sudden feeling you get when you realized you just signed up for something that will last the rest of ever and there's no going back. 'Sheer panic' is another good word for it." She sips tea and finishes a whole hasperas, looking at the other one longingly before dousing it in the leftover sauce and packing it up, "Sorry to eat and run, but I've got this doctor's appointment in the morning I should probably not sleep through," says the woman who wakes up at 0400 every morning, for some unknown reason. "Night, all. Thanks for joining me for supper. Tell the waiter that the doc's stuff goes on my account."

Salvir nods to Aventino as she races out. "Take care Lieutenant. And thank you for the meal."

Salvir finishes his own meal and gets up. "Well, a pleasure as always. I'll talk to you two later, then."

Solvek stands as both Aventino and Salvir leave. "It was very acceptable having this meal with you. I hope the experience can be shared once again." Returning to his seat, he casually eats his meal and then turns to Fred. "There is no feeling of reluctance in you, is there? You are fully prepared for tasks and the lifestyle that comes from marrying one of my kind, aren't you?"

Brooks smiles to Solvek over her own nearly-finished plate. "When I say I'm going to do something I God-damn well do it. I didn't enter into this lightly, love. I understand what it means. I don't care what anyone thinks that doesn't know us, and those that do will understand if they don't now. You're Vulcan... culturally, anyhow... and I'm Human. I'm sure we'll both pick up some of the habits and customs of the other, while keeping our own. Actually, I... was thinking on something your sister said, the night we first melded. How long Vulcan meditation techniques take to properly learn. I was thinking I'll have plenty of time... and what else am I going to do while you're meditating?" She smiles.

Solvek finishes his plate and takes a final sip of his tea. "That is very true. I believe that will be one of the things that we will bond through in the time approaching our marriage. Now, you had mentioned that you wished to speak with me on an urgent matter. Shall we return to my quarters, or is this something that is more suited for my office?"

Brooks shakes her head. "Your quarters will be fine." Her good mood fading, she stands, settling the check before leaving.

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