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Cerulean Blue

Posted on Sat Feb 11th, 2023 @ 12:04am by Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai & Lieutenant Xex Wang & David Mccolugh

Mission: A Camping We Will Go
Location: The King's Shilling
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 2000

[The King's Shilling]
[MD 5 - 2000 Hours]

Emni had been more than a little remiss getting around to visiting David Mccolugh's new bar. It wasn't so much that she hadn't meant to as it was that, in truth, she was a bit of a homebody. And with Karim coming by to debate the meaning of life at all hours she honestly stayed close to her quarters most evenings, opting for peace and a break from the hubbub as much as she could get. But with fewer people on the ship and the majority of the crew due back tomorrow afternoon, now seemed as good a time as ever.

With a measured step, she passed the threshold of the bar, taking in with appreciation the wood paneling, fire place, and books. She was tempted to make a beeline for the books, but rather than do so she made for the bar, claiming a seat at a high bar stool with a graceful hop onto the seat.

A silvered hand followed her in, as though trying to grab Emni's sleeve-- and missing. The rest of Xex followed the hand into the King's Shilling, like an inch-worm's body catching up with its head. His mouth, halfway open to catch the XO's attention, clamped firmly shut as his eyes took in the subdued ambiance and old-world Terran charm of the pub. In fact, he gawked for so long, the bartender's voice was the first thing to draw him out of his observation.

"Hello, Haven't seen you here, welcome to the Kings Shilling. What can I get you?"

"I'm afraid I'm almost rudely overdue for a visit," Emni commented with a small smile. "You don't happen to stock Romulan Ale do you?"

"I happen to have some in stock. I try to cover as many needs as possible."

Visibly shaking himself, Xex made his way to the bar in Emni's wake, unabashedly craning his neck around at the comfortable paneling-- real wood, it looked like?-- and seemingly endless shelves of books. He even paused as he passed them, tilting his head on an angle to catch some of the more well-faded titles. Again, he seemed to take himself in hand, firmly turning his gaze away from the intriguing paper-style books to continue his progress to the bar.

Fetching up beside the XO, he slid smoothly onto a barstool next to her and as the swiveling top took his weight, he couldn't help but actually bark a laugh. "It spins," he exclaimed in delight, bracing his long-fingered hands on the brass round of the bar and swiveling his hips side to side like a child at a playpark. Glancing up at the bartender, his eyes glittering with captivating glee, he said, "How utterly delightful!"

As Emni sat, a veritable wave of enthusiasm followed in her wake, cresting over her just before Xex took a seat. The wave of emotion, itself, despite it's intensity was a nice change from some of the more difficult emotional crests she had been battling with Karim. And so rather than pull her barriers up the XO left them be, sitting in the emotional wash as the silver-skinned man who had come aboard earlier that day shifted side to side in the stool.

"Mr. Xex, yes?" Emni asked, more to confirm her pronunciation of his name than to confirm his identity. "They do, indeed, spin." And then, with a slight twinkle of mischief in her eye, she, too, shifted her hips side to side to make the seat move, appreciating the swinging feel a moment before setting her forearms on the brass rail.

The wattage on Xex's smile increased once again, and with a laugh, he pressed his hand into the bar hard enough to spin him entirely around, fetching back up facing the bar with a delighted giggle. . Unselfconsciously, he leaned a little closer to Emni, as though to share a confidence. "Technically, using Standard norms of address, I'd be Mr.--" and thereafter followed a series of syllables that brushed shoulders with human word sounds, but were just as patently not. There might even have been a click or whistle or two. "But," he held up a finger, settling back away from her again, "Mr. Wang would do, and in any case, you hit the nail on the head. Xex is just perfect."

"Mr. Wang," Emni corrected herself. "At least for when we're on duty, but as we're not just now, it's a pleasure Xex. What brings you to The King's Shilling?"

Still swiveling his hips slightly from side to side on the barstool, Xex ran his fingers along the smooth wood of the bar. "I wish I could say it was for the excellent seating," he answered, with a flash of a smile for the man behind the bar preparing Emni's drink, "But I must be trite and say I was merely exploring the ship, looking for someplace with a bit of companionship. I find I don't like to dwell overlong alone in my head." He tipped her a wink as he tapped his temple, "It can be a scary place. You don't mind if I join you, do you?"

The part-Romulan watched the man, appreciative of the warmth of emotions. They seemed to match with the cheery fire and, as Emni listened, she gave herself permission to unwind some of the ongoing tension that seemed to live with her lately--nearly as ongoing as Karim's late night philosophy sessions.

David looked at the two of them and them asked with amusement, "SO, what are you in the mood for?"

"Oh!" Xex exclaimed, jerking his gaze guiltily from where it had strayed once again to the bartop. Swaying slightly as his hips continued to swivel, he ducked his head, looking somewhat like a naughty schoolboy. "Apologies-- I'm afraid I got quite got caught up in the ambience." He leaned across the bar conspiratorially, asking, "This is real wood, no? Where is it from?" He appeared entirely genuine, curiosity in every line of him, and seemingly zero awareness that he still hadn't answered the man's simple question.

"The wood?" David paused, "It's from Earth, redwood to be exact, had it delivered before we hit the Delta quadrant. I wanted to make it a place people could relax. help themselves to a good book, or just put the cares of work away, "

Xex's gray eyes got extremely round at this, and he breathed, "Stars above... from Earth? You take your ambiance seriously!" His hands immediately came up in an almost defensive gesture, "For which, I really must applaud you. It's lovely in here. Are--" he paused, twisted on his stool and glanced back at the bookcase again, before returning his attention to David, "Are all the books from Earth as well?"

Emni couldn't help the chuckle that bubbled up from within her at Xex's enthusiasm. "Our culinary folks onboard seem to take their ambiance seriously all around. Though I must confess your pub takes a much more... laid back pace than Debbie's." She glanced between the two men before adding, "I'll have a glass of that Romulan ale you mentioned. No rush, though, I confess I am eager to hear about your books as well."

“Make that two, if you would,” Xex chimed in with enthusiasm, as if worried he wouldn’t get his order in on time, or perhaps that David would run out of the stuff. He flashed a grateful grin at Emni; nothing worse than having to actually choose your own comestibles.

"Coming right up." The two ales were poured and set in front of his guests, "As for the books, I've collected them through out my time on Earth, so they"re all originals. Some dating back to the 19th century."

Xex’s expression blanked, quite as though someone had hit him in the back of the head with a stout baton— or perhaps he was merely doing mental math for he almost threw himself off the stool, so quickly did he spin to stare at the books. “Nineteenth— how did you manage to keep them intact?” He exclaimed as he swiveled back to the bar. If one would have thought the Sojourner’s new CMO would have been more interested in the physiology necessary for David to have been on earth in the 19th century, one would have been wrong. Xex hardly batted an eye at this part, seemingly still baffled by the aged manuscripts. Perhaps it would hit him in a moment, like the delayed release of some of the more pleasant alcohols. Speaking of— although his long fingers had almost reflexively wrapped around the mug in front of him, it seemed as if Xex only now noticed it was there and with mild bemusement, he lifted the mug in a quiet salute. “To private collections?” he offered with a sidelong glance at Emni.

David watched his two customers and cleaned a spot of the bar while they talked.

Emni, like Xex, had been appropriately impressed by the longevity of the collection, but her attention, now that the cerulean blue glass of Romulan ale sat in front of her, was distracted. "To private collections, indeed," she commented, raising the glass and tipping it toward David and then Xex in turn before taking a slowly sip. The burst of fruity floral flavor hit her tongue as if home, itself, had appeared before her, but the burn of the aftertaste disabused that notion quickly and she swallowed hard, staring for a long moment at the glass in her hand before nodding. "Not many have access to the real thing," she commented, voice rasping every so slightly as it gave away the sudden onrush of homesickness. "This is as much a treasure as anything else you could have brought aboard Mr. Mccolugh. Thank you."

"It is a rare treat to have a real piece of home aboard," Xex concurred, his exuberance dampened for once, perhaps out of respect for Emni's rush of emotions. "Are there many Romulans on the crew?" he asked, taking a cautious sip of his own ale. It did not seem to have the same effect on him as it did the Romulan woman-- in fact, it seemed to have little effect at all. He merely sipped it as he would any other beverage.

"There aren't at the moment," Emni responded, the alcohol seeming to make her loosen every so slightly. "Truthfully I can't say I've served with many of my own people. But then there are plenty who would be happy for a sip of real Romulan ale were they aware of its presence." She chuckled, taking another draw from her glass before setting it in front of her, pressing her fingertips to either side of the glass absently. "And to be fair, I'm not fully Romulan myself. Some of my own people might question my right to call myself the only Romulan aboard the ship."

Xex's subdued mein shifted, his brows drawing together in a frown. "Whomever came up with the blood quantum-- no matter the planet-- should be firmly walked to the nearest airlock," he said almost crossly, and then his expression dissolved into a smile, as though to make light of the sentiment, "In the most 'do no harm' way as possible." He winked, and took a sip. "Anyway, blood quantum or no, it seems homesickness is nearly universal. I'm sure our ambiance expert here would agree?" he lifted his mug halfway to his mouth, pausing to allow David to reply.

"One thing I've seen through my many years no matter how humble there is no place like home" David poured himself some coffee. "I try to give everyone a small slice of home, being so far away."

Something about David's pronouncement caught Xex's attention and he turned the full of his gray gaze onto the barkeep, his mind whirring back to a previous comment the man had made. "And whereabouts do you call home, Mr. McColugh?" he asked, finally finishing the sip of his ale, held for so long halfway to his mouth.

"Earth actually, I've lived all over from Scotland to Paris, to Alaska, to Canada, you name it." He paused, "I've been there since 1805. " David spoke so matter of fact. like he had told this story before.

Xex blinked. Though the man had alluded to his longevity previously, clearly it really hadn't sunk in until he spelled it out. Hopefully the Sojourner's new CMO was slightly sharper when it came to medical curiosities than he was when it came to temporal curiosities-- for all their sakes. "Eighteen... oh--" his silvery fingers tapped against the top of his thumb, as though counting. “Suns. That is a long time to be anywhere much less... Earth." Although he said it with some disdain, his lips twitched into a enough of a smirk to turn it into a tease. "Did they even have indoor plumbing in eighteen oh five?” he asked, genuinely curious. By now, Xex had leaned forward over the bar, intent. His hips continued to swivel back and forth on the barstool, keeping him in motion even as he peered closely at the bartender who was, he suspected, much more than a bartender.

That got an amused chuckle, "Usually the first question I'm asked is what was Waterloo like, or what was the biggest change you saw, first time asked about plumbing. By the way, that wasn't common until 1900, but it was present. "

“Priorities,” Xex replied with regards to why he was so interested in plumbing, and then with a shudder, picked up his mug again and took a long sip of the ale. "Now that, my friend, is some dedicated listening. I hear humans were pretty savage back then. How long did you stay?"

Emni had continued to sip, quietly, on her ale as she listened to the exchange. Unlike Xex, she was unsurprised by the barkeep's age. It was a part of her job to be apprised of all the races accounted for on the ship and she made not assumptions that the small handful of civilians were any less vital to know about than the highest ranking officers. Besides that, if David Mcculogh was anything like the gruff Nathan Cowell, even in part, his stories ought to be interesting and she was loathe to interfere.

There was a pause, "I was on earth for around 600 years, In that time I saw the best and worst of humanity. " He paused, "Then again, when you spend a couple hundred years in uniform you see quite the worst."

Xex was silent for a long moment, as seemingly digesting this information-- and though silent, not still. His fingers continued to drum on his mug and his hips kept swiveling back and forth. Something like sympathy eased out to cloud the bright curiosity that had until now overpowered most of his other emotions. “Six. Hundred. Years,” He murmured, his eyes finally coming into focus again as they slid sideways to Emni. “Can you imagine?”

Emni, still quiet, picked up on the shift in the emotional atmosphere and her expression softened somewhat. She shook her head as she brought the glass of ale back to her lips again. "No, I cannot."

His gaze pingponged back to David and his exuberance dimmed some. “I picture the human armed forces in the nineteenth century as a supremely unpleasant place to be. Well... survived, I guess?” he tipped his mug in a somewhat macabre toast, taking another sip.

“Well,” Xex continued, “I hope the Sojourner at least is helping tip the scales back to the 'best' side of sentience, even if we aren't all human. You been on board long?”

"Not too long, signed on from the starbase, just got the bar running a few days ago. Took time to get set up."

"I was just telling our good barkeep that I am embarrassingly overdue to visit," Emni commented to Xex with a small smile. "As XO you'd think I'd have seen all of the ship and met everyone, particularly on a ship this size, but I have been... more preoccupied than normal." She chose her words carefully as she commented--not wanting to lay out that at least a portion of her free time was given over to attempts to connect with Karim as they muddled through his psychological issues at what could only be described as a pace slower than molasses.

Xex's eyes roamed the décor once again and he shot David a wry smile. “I'd imagine it would take some time. It looks beautiful-- if I haven't said that enough.” Something careful in Emni's voice hooked the doctor's ear and he tilted his head to the side, turning his attention from the bartender to the XO. “I would imagine so with Delta Quadrant anomalies roaming your ship!" he agreed. "I hope the gap in sickbay coverage hasn't added overmuch to your plate. I understand you used to be the Sojourner's CMO?” He took a careful sip of his ale in a futile attempt to hide just how interested he was in her answer-- unfortunately the interest rolled off him in bright sparks of curiosity.

As Xex's curiosity flared back to full force Emni couldn't resist a chuckle. "I was," she confirmed with a wry sort of grin. "Or about a minute and then we found ourselves suddenly without an XO and in a situation where a new one couldn't quickly be dispatched and I was next in the line." She shrugged as if that was no big deal, though in reality she felt strongly that it was. She remembered the conversation well as Captain Kodak placed his trust in her during their mad dash to follow the puzzle box that they had unlocked together on Risa.

Xex's eyebrows arched with what would have come across as disbelief, if he hadn't projected a strong sense of sympathy for her predicament in being so swiftly promoted.

"There hasn't been too much lag. Dr. Ryan Walsh was my assistant chief and he managed admirably considering how quickly he was thrust into the position." Her glass, recently emptied, was abandoned on the bar as she shifted slightly, opening her body language so that she was facing Xex more than the bar. "Don't worry, though," she said, with a slightly guilty concern, "I won't meddle. It's your sickbay now, not mine."

Xex sighed out an exaggerated breath of air, wiping imaginary sweat from his brow. "Thank the Stars," he said, "I was afraid I might have to start marking my territory like an overzealous dog." He flashed her a grin that complimented nicely with the amusement he was giving off. "Quite the contrary, Commander, I can't help but feel myself quite lucky to have your knowledge and experience to draw on." He continued to sip at the last of his ale, casting her a sly glance. "Don't worry though," he added in a tone similar to hers, "I'll try not to monopolize all of your time."

David had that instinctual bartender's knowledge to know when to step away, let the two of them to talk.

The laugh that escaped the XO sounded almost surprised, as if it had been startled from somewhere deep within her. She met the new CMO's amused expression with one of her own that held just a touch of apology at the edges. "I don't mean that as any criticism Doctor," she said, the laughter still in her voice. "Romulans are, at their core, territorial suspicious people. At least when it comes to newcomers. It's always a pleasant surprise when I find that not to be the case. I assure you, it has not been how I prefer to function and I'm honored to assist as much or as little as you would like."

If anything, Xex's smile widened with satisfaction at the XO's laughter. His genuine pleasure at making her laugh negated any toadying undertones to the smile. "Suspicious territoriality has stood Romulans in good stead for centuries," he replied, seeming completely unperturbed by the so-called negative traits. "Tell me Commander, have you worked with many other Romulans since you joined Starfleet? I confess, I have only worked with single individuals, and those few and far between."

Whether it was meant to or not the question quieted the Romulan doctor's mirth. The amusement still lingered in her eyes, but her expression sobered. Her own people were far flung. Many of them struggled when the Federation pulled back their support for the souls displaced after Romulus was destroyed and blamed them for the various conditions they found themselves in. There were, herself as a testament to this, Romulans in Starfleet now, but they were few and the Romulan race, in general, was still regarded with suspicion by some.

"There was a Romulan scientist on the Adelphi," she commented, "An ensign. Sadly, I didn't get much opportunity to know her, but I knew she was there." Long fingers settled on the now-empty glass of Romulan ale, holding it between her finger tips and using them to absently turn the glass so that the little bits of neon blue liquid within seemed to shift with movement of light through the glass. "There weren't any on the Hargreaves, and I didn't serve with any on Starbase 3, though of course I encountered some." She glanced up at Xex, taking him in a moment. "As I said... we are a territorial suspicious people, and when the very core of our territory was lost..." A small rise of her shoulders gave suggested nonchalance, though the rest of her body language spoke otherwise. "All living things react differently when their homes are threatened or lost."

As she glanced up at him, Xex caught and held her gaze, truly listening to what she was saying, not merely hearing it. "Differently perhaps," he agreed, "But rarely with indifference." Finally looking away, he returned to swiveling his hips on the barstool, his grave stillness breaking as he slid his mug to clink gently against hers. "And I think this home we've found ourselves aboard deserves a toast. Mr. Mccolugh, if you'd be so kind?"

The softness that had come with Emni's laughter re-emerged at the suggestion of a toast. "Mine seems to be empty, but I could do with another round," she commented, peering into her glass at the cerulean droplets that remained of her first round. "Particularly if we are going to toast something so valued as the Sojourner and her crew."

She could feel a stab of curiosity from Xex as he gaze sharpened on her, but he said nothing, pointedly turning his attention back to the bartender as David obliged them.

David poured three drinks, his smaller then the others. "A toast then. May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead." David raised his glass as he repeated a toast older then he was.

As David's toast came to an end Emni lifted the glass of brilliant blue ale, eying it appreciatively. "Mhiohs," she muttered in Rihan, bringing the glass to her lips and then tipping it back, taking a long draw that drained nearly half the glass in one go. "Thank you, David," she said when she returned the glass to the wood plane of the bar.

Though Xex spoke Federation Standard with no appreciable accent, and did not utilize a universal translator, he stared at David for several heartbeats after his toast with the peculiarly blank expression of someone attempting to make a translation in their head. At last, the doctor's silvery features split into a delighted grin. "Hear, hear," he agreed with the toast, raising his glass to mirror the other two. He took a somewhat more conservative sip of his own ale and when he lowered his glass, his eyes were twinkling. "Do you reckon a half hour is long enough?"

David had to chuckle, "Learned it from a Sargent in the Rifles back during some downtime after Talavera. I think he said, it gives you enough time before the devil knows how you lived."

The Romulan XO couldn't help feeling that some of the concept was lost on her. Romulans did have their share of religion and mysticism, but she recognized a cultural element native to Earth when she heard it and resisted the urge to ask. Instead, she glanced between the two men, fingers slowly twirling her glass on the bar top. "I suppose it'll have to be enough time then," she commented with a small amused smile.

David’s amusement was contagious— Xex grinned back in return. If anything it widened at Emni’s addition. “Let’s hope so!” He agreed, washing the sentiment down with an enthusiastic swig.

=/\= A Joint Post By =/\=

Lieutenant Commander Emni t'Nai
Executive Officer

Lieutenant Xex Wang
Chief Medical Officer

David Mccolugh
Proprietor, The King's Shilling


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