A Booth For Two
Echoes and Effigies
Location: Debbie's Diner
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 1745
[MD 2: 1730 Hours]
Debbie stood amidst the busy diner, waving her arms over her head to flag Irynya -- who'd just entered -- down. As the woman came over, the matronly proprietor grinned and gestured to the young woman sitting in the booth at her side. "Iry, I'd like you to meet Mei. She's a bit new around here and well, I couldn't think of anyone better to help her feel welcome. You want anything, baby?" she asked, gestured Iry to take a seat. To Mei, she smiled sweetly and said, "This is Irynya. She's one of our flight controllers and one of the best damned people you could meet on this ship."
The Risian grinned broadly at Debbie's introduction and gave the woman a quick side hug. "You've already met the best person to meet on this ship," she told Mei with a head nod in Debbie's direction. "Saag paneer with naan if you don't mind?" she said. "Might need to be replicated and that's totally fine. Noah's got me hooked."
"You're a sweetheart," the matron grinned, reaching out to affectionately pat Irynya's shoulder. "And you got it, baby," Debbie nodded. "You two have fun now," she beamed, ever the platonic matchmaker. With a swivel and a push, Debbie skated away, heading for the counter.
As the diner's matron retreated Irynya turned her attention to the woman across from her. "Did you come on at Pathfinder or with one of the shuttles?" she asked. She knew there'd been at least two shuttles delivering new crew members since they left Pathfinder. It was something she couldn't help wondering about--how far they could go into the Delta Quadrant before that kind of transfer wasn't possible.
"One of the shuttles. I haven't been here long. Just enough to figure out where I'm supposed to go, and where I'm not supposed to go. This is the first time I've been in here," Mei said, gesturing at the room around them with her fork. "It's not what I had expected. But in a good way. I especially like the waffles."
Iry chuckled at that. "Debbie does have a way with breakfast foods. Or... really... any food. You should try one of the malts sometime," she said with a grin. "So what's your specialty? Had a chance to meet anyone in your department yet?"
"Anthropology and not really," Mei said, quickly swallowing a bit of waffle. "I haven't had all that many shifts since I got here, so the only people I've really met are my suitemates. They're interesting, and I think I'll like them once all the newness has worn off. The same's true for the people in my department. I hope. I mean, you can at least get along with most people once you've taken the time to get to know them. It's mostly just a matter of not jumping to conclusions when you first meet them. But anyway. What do you do?"
"Oh, we have some awesome scientists. Our chief scientist is an Aurelian. I hadn't met one before Mothim came aboard. My friend Andrew's a civilian scientist with us as well. I imagine you'll get introduced soon enough. It's a small ship." She gave the other woman a grin and eyed up her waffles. They were good waffles. "I'm one of the pilots. Fly... girl... I guess." She added the word girl as more of a question. She'd heard some the term flyboy bandied about as a description for Timmoz and rather liked it, but hadn't tried it as a descriptor for herself before.
"'Flygirl' is as good a term as any, I guess. As long as you're happy with it. 'Flygirl'. Has a nice ring to it. And really, as long as you're not asking me to fly the ship, you can call yourself whatever you want and I'll be fine with it." Mei sipped her tea, which had finally stopped steaming, and looked around, her gaze flitting from face to face before coming back to Irynya. "So, I asked Debbie this earlier, and gave me an . . . answer. But if you don't mind my asking, what's it like out here in the Delta Quadrant? I mean, I've read up on all the computer suggested, but it's, you know, a computer that doesn't understand organic experiences. Aside from unexpected, what's the Delta Quadrant like? Or at least this little part of it?"
If Irynya's expression faltered for a moment it could have easily been excused as taking a moment to consider the question. It was only a moment, though, and her warm welcoming demeanor seemed to take over, like a default being restored. She and Debbie had both been aboard the Adelphi with some of the other crew members before she was disabled and ultimately relegated to scrap by Starfleet on their return to the Alpha Quadrant. And for a ship the size of the Adelphi to limp home in such bad shape was no small thing. Her crew had only been marginally better than their ship.
"If you've asked Debbie my guess is you've gotten a frank, but diplomatic answer to that question," she said not unkindly. The diner's matron was known for her way with words and the way she had of putting people at ease. The Risian's lips puckered the side as she chewed the inside of her cheek thoughtfully. "It's a bit frontier-like. There's civilizations and people and all manner of things here just like the quadrants we know well, but here, we're the new arrivals. The Delta Quadrant is... untamed by our standards, although I'm sure for many we seem that way as well."
Tan hands sat threaded together on the table in front of her, Irynya's thumbs seeming to absently twitch against each other as if they wanted something to do. "I was out here once before," she finally said after a slightly longer than appropriate pause. "And it didn't go well. Most terrifying experience of my life. But the crew of that ship and of this one... they're what made it worth it. What made me want to even think about going back. There's beauty out here like nothing else and it's wild and unknown and we get to be some of the first of our kind to see it. It's dangerous too and that's the risk. But so far it's been worth the rewards." She sat back then, one hand leaving the table to fiddle with the ponytail that ran down the front of her uniform. "That may have been more than you wanted to know," she said apologetically.
"No. No, I think that was just about perfect," Mei said, a soft smile appearing on her face. She may not have been able to sense much about the moods of those around her, but she could tell Irynya meant every word she said. And though the Risian hadn't played down the dangers of the Delta Quadrant, her genuine appreciation and-- perhaps-- love for Sojourner and her crew told Mei as much as her words had. "This is my first real posting since the Academy. Everyone was quick to point out all the awful things. They were slower to point out the good parts. I never could tell if they were trying to scare me off or what."
Irynya contemplated that a moment, head tilting to the side every so slightly and expression turning thoughtful. "Adelphi, my last posting, was my first out of the Academy too. And I had a similar experience." She pursed her lips to the side then shrugged. "I think that as much as we talk about the unknown, in reality it's a thing that makes many people deeply uncomfortable. And people almost always talk about what feels most intense first. I think, as long as you're ok with the discomfort of not knowing, you'll like it out here." She answered the younger woman's smile with one of her own before spotting Debbie swinging their way on her skates with a tray.
"Hot stuff coming through," Debbie beamed, wheeling her way back over, a tray held over her shoulder. "And I got your food, too," she clucked, lowering the tray. "Saag paneer with garlic cheese naan. I know, I know...not exactly what you ordered but believe me," the woman looked hawkish, "you're gonna love it. Or else," she smiled defiantly. "So tell me, how're we getting along here?" It was to Mei that Debbie's eyes turned first, then they switched to Irynya. "Making new friends?" she asked, sidling her way to sit next to Irynya in the booth. She blew a giant bubble with her gum, which popped loud enough to be heard over the music.
"I can only speak for myself, but I think so," Mei said, popping the last strawberry into her mouth and looked up at Irynya. There was no expectation of anything, good or bad, in her expression. "At the very least, I think there's a foundation to build on." And if even that was missing, there were plenty of people still to meet on Sojourner . But Mei didn't think she was completely off-base.
Eyes crinkling with amusement, Irynya hooked the tray with a finger and pulled it in front of her. The naan did smell amazing and she made a mental note to ask Noah if he went for plain naan for a reason or if he was just being cautious when introducing her to his dish. "You're about as subtle as a bomb, Deb," she teased as she lifted the lid off of the small ceramic dish, inhaling deeply as she did, the mixture of spices and cheese gobbets and spinach hitting her in one delightful waft of steamy goodness. "But... subtlety aside," she said, inspecting the naan before figuring out that the bottom part of it was safest to grab if one didn't want bits of garlic on ones fingers, "Mei has been a delightful host and, because of your generous match making, is probably stuck with me now." She raised her eyebrows at Debbie before shooting a quick glance and a wink at Mei.
"Well what can I say? I'm a bull in a china shop when it comes to these things," Debbie clucked before flashing an easy smile. "I'm glad you two are getting on so well. It's hard being new on a ship full of people who already know each other. Been there many times," the matron lamented, her smile morphing into something tighter and strained. "But I figure you're plugged into the heart of what goes on around here," Debbie's smile flourished again as she regarded Irynya. "If anyone can help our Mei make friends, it's you." And speaking of Mei, Debbie turned to smile at the table's other occupant. "Just be careful with this one. She keeps sweet talking me out of bottles of the good stuff -- real alcohol. Her karaoke nights are the stuff of legend," she chuckled.
Mei's eyebrows rose. "Well, then. I'll have to keep my wits together when she suggests a night out," she said, grinning Debbie before sipping her tea to not quite hide a smile as she looked back at Irynya. There was a sparkle in her eyes. "So. If you know who's-who and what's-what around here, than what, uh, bits of news do I need to know? Just to keep from face-planting into any social walls, you know."
Irynya's grin was broad and her eyes sparked as she glanced at Debbie. "Well," she began, warming to the topic, "since you're a scientist, it probably wouldn't hurt to know about my amazing friend Andrew..."
=/\= A Mission Post By... =/\=
Lieutenant Junior Grade Irynya
Assistant Chief Flight Controller
Ensign Mei Ratthi