Truth or Dare
Posted on Sat Oct 29th, 2022 @ 3:14pm by Lieutenant JG Irynya & Lieutenant JG Kestrel & Captain Björn Kodak & Ensign Mei Ratthi & Ensign Noah Balsam & Andrew Munro & Lieutenant Timmoz & Ensign Sheldon Parsons & Ensign Jyl-eel Tor
A Camping We Will Go
Location: Second String Camp
Timeline: Mission Day 2 at 2200
[Second String Camp]
[MD 2: 2200 Hours]
The circle of tents occupied by the Sojourner's "Second Stringers" was an imperfect circle. Most were singletons, but Iry--true to her offer--had set things up so that she and Noah were roommates for the duration of the trip. The tents themselves encircled a central space occupied by chairs and a genuine fire ring. They'd set things up such that there was privacy between each tent, none of them being so close to the fire that anyone who needed to retire would be kept awake by the goings on.
The chairs around the fire ring boasted various colors and styles as well, each meant to cater to the comfort of its owner. A small table off to the side held a stack of long metal skewers and a plate stacked with marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers. The sun had set nearly an hour ago and the fire in the ring crackled merrily, casting the camp site in an intimate low lighting that gave they impression they were on their own even though other sites had been set up by Sojourner crew members near enough.
Mei's tent had completed the circle and the Risian grinned at the new scientist now, leaning half out of her chair and offering her a cup of something that clearly bore the smell of alcohol.
"It's just rum and coke," she told the other woman. "Don't let them scare you. I made sure we had something good for tonight."
Mei took the cup and gave it a skeptical look. Sheldon had warned her about Irynya's drinks, and though he'd seemed paranoid about everything they'd come across, she wasn't about to let a warning like that pass her by. Especially with the way Irynya was smiling. "I dunno. From the way it smells, I think it would curl my hair if it wasn't already curly." Nevertheless, she took a sip and settled back in her chair.
"No moonshine for us tonight?" Kestrel asked with a wry grin. The tactical officer was wrapped in a blanket, long pale legs peeking out of the bottom, her feet tucked into canvas slip on shoes. She wore a long sleeved t-shirt with SOJO emblazoned across the front, and bore a black baseball cap with flares and splotches of color dotted about it as if someone had taken an entire fistful of paintbrushes and flicked them at the hat.
Irynya smirked back at her. "I think Noah and Sheldon would walk out in protest if I didn't go for something less... immediately effective." She glanced at Noah who was in the chair next to hers, offering her friend a warm grin.
Noah grimaced thanks, "Th-thank goodness," Balsam said with a turned smile. "That stuff was... evil."
From across the way, the sound of a tent zipper accompanied the crackling flames. It wasn't long before a tall, lanky figure made its way over, dressed in a blue-and-black checkered flannel shirt, denim pants, and hiking boots. Sheldon -- who'd elected to erect a tent just for himself -- padded over to the fire and dropped into his own chair, which he'd set out earlier. It was this great, oversized canvas chair: more of a throne than an unobtrusive seat. However, the backing came up to rest against the back of his head, which was something most standard-sized chairs failed to do, given his height.
"Hello everyone," Sheldon waved, sinking further into his chair. "Nice fire," the young engineer commented, smiling. "Did someone start it with a phaser? Or actual skill with flint and steel? Either way, it's warm and appreciated." The night time temps of Gentris IV -- in this region, at least -- had dipped below 13 degrees Celsius, meaning there was quite a chill in the air.
At the last second, Mei stopped herself from waving with the hand that held her cup of rum and coke. She settled for raising the cup to him in a toast instead. "I think there were electrical shenanigans going on when the fire was started. But I could be wrong. I was finishing up getting my stuff sorted out. Irynya has rum and coke if you feel like getting into trouble." Even in the low light, Mei's eyes sparkled-- with mischief, if anyone was looking closely.
With a congested sniff, a nasal voice said, "Hi Shelly." Noah, his brown eyes rimmed with irritated pink eyelids, sniffed again around a smile. He shoved a nasal spray up each nostril and squirted relief. He'd been watching the second stringers gather. He sat in a chair in short-shorts with pale, goosebumped and skinny legs unfashionably glaring in the warm glow of the fire. A pink handprint-shaped welt, struck across a hairy calf, was evidence that the native insect found Balsam's blood to be worthy of their attention.
He shivered slightly and watched as another body appeared. Like Sheldon and himself, it was tall and lanky. This one was a cool green and he moved like a rangy feline. Timmoz surveyed the night and the warm light of the campfire. He was dressed for coverage, the climate of Gentris was chilly to his Orion tropical sensibilities. Timmoz dropped into a canvas chair, his choice of a seat seemingly indicating he was here to watch to the proceedings from the gallery.
Irynya watched the Orion settle himself into the seat before pouring two more glasses of the rum and coke mixture and passing them along to both Sheldon and Timmoz.
Sheldon accepted the cup and waved to Mei and Noah. Then he looked at the beverage he'd been handed and decidedly cast an upturned eyebrow at Irynya. "This better not be like that stuff you served last time," he shivered profusely. With a gentle motion, he brought the cup up to his nose and inhaled slowly. "Huh. Not overpowering...a promising start," the engineer said, leaning back into his chair.
Meanwhile Captain Kodak and the increasingly-useful civilian biologist, Andrew Munro, were walking through the Clearing, hand-in-hand. With camp all set up and dinner sorted earlier, the pair were enjoying a stroll from campsite to campsite, stopping to say hello at each campfire they encountered. Shoreleave or not, the Chameloid was still the Captain and wanted to show his face around camp, connecting with those under his command. And it seemed the Second Stringer camp was next up on their walk, both Kodak and Andrew coming to a stop at the edge of the ring of chairs.
"Good evening gentlemen," Irynya greeted smoothly fixing both the Captain and his beau with warm smiles.
"Hello there," the Captain rasped, his voice full of warmth. "Just making the rounds and thought we'd say hello. Everyone settling in ok?" he asked, not bothering to release his paramour's hand. It was common knowledge that he and Andrew were enjoined and, Captain or not, he wasn't bothered with the crew seeing them together. "Andrew tells me there may be some antics happening tonight. Hopefully, no alien entities disrupt tonight's festivities," he winked.
"Uhh, j-just a few games," Andrew stammered, suddenly worried that he may be seen as some kind of tattletale. He felt the heat flushing over his cheeks as his face gave away what he was feeling.
There was an empty seat next to Kestrel, a move that Irynya had made deliberately, a sort of open invitation for some of the others who frequented the gatherings of the Second Stringers to come and join them if they wanted to. She looked at it now and tilted her head, fixing Andrew with an affectionate all suffering look. He'd been to plenty of her events before and everyone know that he and the Captain were together. Their appearing together now didn't change that. "Are you joining us, Muscles?" she asked pointedly, referring to the way he had levered open the doors to her quarters during the lock down. She held up the bottle of rum and shook it slightly. "Rum and coke tonight. Nothing too scary."
She paused then, not entirely sure how to proceed when it came to Kodak. On one hand she was fairly comfortable with the captain in situations like this. On the other she knew others weren't. "Sir?" She asked, using the honorific to extend the offer she had made to Andrew. They could always save the hijinks for later.
"Muscles, huh? I'll have to remember that one," Björn winked at Andrew. Then, squeezing the man's hand, the Chameloid adopted a warm tone. "I appreciate the offer but I wanted to check in with Debbie and see how the chuck wagon is working out tonight. Also want to hit a few more fires," he said, looking at Irynya. "Means a lot that you would offer, though: thank you," he smiled in the light of the campfire. "Andrew, sweetheart..." he turned to 'Muscles,' "Why don't you stay here and enjoy some time with your friends? From what I understand, all of you deserve an opportunity to let your hair down. Metaphorically speaking, of course," he chuckled, running a hand over the man's smooth scalp. "To the rest of you, I'll just say this and then get going..."
Summoning a breath, he was suddenly the Captain again. "I wanted to appreciate all of you for what you did for us. I know it wasn't easy, but never let anyone tell you a small group of determined people can't change the tides. I know for a fact they can. So I thank you and hope you know how much you're appreciated," he said, giving his warmest smile.
"Thank you sir," Irynya said, her smile deepening. To one side of her Kestrel seemed to straighten up in her chair as well, echoing the thanks that the Risian had offered.
Mei smiled too, though her expression wasn't as bright. She hadn't met the captain at all before this and still hadn't, really. She took a sip of her drink and willed herself into the background. She'd heard what the others had done to get the ship back under control. All the thanks should go to them, not to her. All she'd managed to do was get trapped in a corridor and then end up in the mess hall with the counselor and a Gorn. Interesting conversations, to be sure, but hardly worthy of thanks.
A poignant and sharp slap echoed the clearing. Noah, removing his hand from his face and revealing a newly christened pink handprint, smiled at the Captain in thanks. He was defter in checking his palm to see if he'd smashed the insect that had decided his cheek tasted good. Alas, he'd missed. He didn't summon up the courage for words to address the Captain- it just felt odd for a cadet to do so when a lot more people had done more than he did.
Noah felt his spine creep cold when he recalled he'd nearly disabled the entire ship's communication systems with one mistake. His eyes dropped and he swiveled them to the fire. Covering he looked at Andrew. "There-there's still room..."
With one last parting smile of affection, Kodak nodded to the gathered crew and then looked to Andrew. "Have fun...but not so much you forget where our tent is," he chuckled warmly. "I love you," he said to the man, squeezing his hand before letting it gently fall away. "I'll see you all later. Enjoy the night," the Chameloid said, moving off into the darkness towards the large bonfire in the very heart of the spread out camp. It wasn't long before he'd disappeared into the evening, off to visit Debbie and make an appearance at other camp sites.
"Whew," Sheldon shivered. "No offense intended Andrew but he intimidates the hell out of me." He'd certainly stiffened up when the Captain had stopped by, falling silent until the Chameloid had made his way elsewhere. "Now that it's just us junior officers and civilians, I can't help but wonder...what do you have in store for tonight, Iry?"
Noah agreed with a vehement nod. Despite the obvious caring qualities of the man, he was still large and very in charge. Noah too looked to Irynya as a new form entered the circle. She was girthy and beautiful, her Valtese spots pale against the toffee warmth of her skin. She smiled and sat next to Noah. "Can Ensign Tor, um, join?"
"Or I can watch," Jyl-eel said, her mouth and serpentine green eyes smiling while she raised her hands.
Irynya's eyes danced as Jyl-eel entered the circle. "Join," she said decisively. "We're glad to have you Jyl-eel." She then turned and, with theatrical timing looked each person seated around the ring in the eyes, holding eye contact with each as a broad grin spread slowly across her face.
"Tonight," she said with warm mischief, "we are playing Truth or Dare."
To be continued...
=/\= Second String Hijinks By =/\=
Captain Bjorn Kodak
Lieutenant Junior Grade Kestrel
Lieutenant Junior Grade Irynya
Assistant Chief Helmsman
Ensign Mei Ratthi
Archaeologist / Anthropologist
Ensign Sheldon Parsons
Ensign Jyl-eel Tor
Midshipman Noah Balsam