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52 Card Pickup

Posted on Thu Jan 7th, 2021 @ 7:46am by Lieutenant Commander Talina Sarafian & Ensign Miala Rotai

Mission: Mission 1 - "Pound of Flesh"
Location: Unmentionables Bullpen | Admin Hub - Station 314
Timeline: MD 5

Talina walked out of her office with her case report in hand. Of course she could have sent it electronically from her desk, but there was something satisfying about manually turning in a job well done. No press of a button could ever equal the feeling of handing off the case report to the central processor who would upload it to the Union Central database. Was it efficient? Yes and no. On the face of it, such traditions were a pointless waste of time. But in tradition there was wisdom enshrined through rote practice.

What that wisdom might be was unknown to Talina at this time, but she would figure it out some day. Until then, she allowed herself the small pleasure of delivering her report herself.

As she walked past the bullpen, though, a distinctive face stood out to her. There was an ensign seated at a desk in her unit's area whom she decidedly did not recognize.

"Excuse me, Ensign..." Talina asked pointedly. "Who might you be?"

"Oh! Hi! I'm Miala!" the Xeleyan woman bubbled, quickly getting to her feet and sticking out her hand. "I'm the tech girl! I just got back from a week off. I went to go see family. But I'm back now."

Talina arched an eyebrow as she processed the name. Xelayan. Miala. "Ah, yes, Ensign Rotai," she said as she finally made the connection. "I was wondering when our technical specialist would report back for duty. Walk with me."

Without waiting to see if she complied, for Talina expected obedience from those in her unit, Talina walked toward the elevator.

Almost too close for comfort Miala followed after, half walking, half skipping. "OH, I love this bit," she said as she rocked on her heels as she waited for the lift. "Are you going to go for the tough new guy or the newb who needs my support? I am up for either. Oh! Maybe we could be besties? How do you feel about stuffies?"

"Do you know what I did yesterday?" Talina asked. "I had to rinse off the bodily remains of Lieutenant Klein after he dove on an explosive device. We did not have time to properly grieve him, what with me having the orbital bone around my eye socket repaired so my eyeball would not freely dangle after suffering a concussion from the same blast that killed Nathan Klein." She stopped long enough to look Miala in the eye, which showed the eyepatch she still wore. "If you were to offer support, Ensign, yesterday would have been a great time for it. I suppose I'll have to settle for tough new person."

She kept walking. "I do like stuffies..."

"Ooh! You're a grizzled veteran! Are you damaged? Do you need to hold one of my stuffies and learn to feel again? Because I am up for that," Miala said, speaking very quickly in almost a manic blur of words, and then placing her hand on the other's shoulder added, "I'm here for you."

She had been watching no end of old Earth police drama's in preparation for working with humans and she have been enjoying figuring out which role people filled. She liked to think she was a manic pixie dream girl, or maybe just the lovable weirdo.

"Yes, I am damaged," Talina said, pointing to her eyepatch. "Which seems to happen to command officers around here." They reached the elevator at last, and Talina waited for the doors to close before she continued her line of dialogue. "The official record is a little sparse on details," she said, "regarding my predecessor. I had intended to ask Lieutenant Klein at an opportune moment, but that moment will never come." Turning to look at Miala, she asked, "Do you know what happened?"

Miala paused at the mention of the old CO. She quickly looked away, a look of quiet discomfort on her face. Finally she looked back and forced a smile. "Well, that's a thing I don't think anyone wants to hear about anymore. Nope, nothing to look into," she said through a strained smile. She quickly began to press the lift button, as if it would hurry if she pressed it some more. "What-what kind of stuffies do you like? I have loads. I have so many that are good listeners. You can hug one and then we can talk and then I can make you feel and we'll be besties."

"Unicorns, obvously," Talina said as the elevator continued to central processing. "We're going to hold a memorial service for Lieutenant Klein. I can expect you to be there in dress uniform, correct?"

"OH MY GAHD!" Miala suddenly screeched. "I love it! We must do it! I will draw up the plans and have them synthesized!" She was very excited about this idea. It was perhaps too brilliant. "I didn't think you'd be up for this kind of thing! You will be my bestie!"

"Union dress uniforms!" Talina specified. "I must be quite clear on that." Then, in a lower tone, she said, "Anything unicorn related can be sent to my office."

"So not Dress Unicorns?" Miala asked sounding suddenly very defeated. But she quickly recovered, she'd replicate the dress unicorns anyway, it just probably wouldn't be appropriate to wear dress unicorns to a memorial service. "Okay, I think I have a stuffie, if not I can synthesize one. I know just the pattern either way."

As the elevator came to a stop, Talina said, "This conversation is classified. Reveal it to no one."

"You got it, Boss Lady," Miala said quickly winking and saluting as she smiled and winked. "Don't worry, I know what it's like to hold in how you feel inside. That's why I don't anymore."

Talina grimaced at the Xelayan's sordid extroversion. "Maybe you should try again."

"Have you ever done DMT?" Miala asked suddenly changing the topic. "Is that weird to ask? I'm just trying to get my figure out on you. I mean, what sort of gruff veteran are you? Cool? I mean, I know the one thing. But I need more details."

"DMT?" Talina asked, furrowing her brow. "What in the world is that?"

"I take that as a no," Miala said shaking her head. "Well, then there is room for growth." She smiled manically for a moment. "I think you and I are going to get along just fine. Or you'll learn my dreadful secret and never be able to respect me again. Both are possible at this point, I'd say."

The mention of a dreadful secret piqued Talina's interest. "You know, I could order an investigation into whatever this dreadful secret is," she said with a suspicious arch of her brow. "Somehow you make me feel as though I would regret that, Ensign."

"Oh, you would. Some secrets are best kept in the dark, never to see the light of day," Miala replied with a giggle. "I mean, we don't want any more investigators to mysteriously vanish while investigating someone! And my secret is so dark and horrible, best to keep it a secret."

Talina scowled at that. "Are you threatening me, Ensign? I do not vanish easily."

"Well, no," Miala replied. "Unless you mean threatening you with a good time, because I threaten everyone with that. I mean, I'm here so it must be good, right?"

"I am duty bound to order an investigation into your private affairs, Ensign." After she paused, she added, "And you will neglect to tell them that you were given advance warning."

"Well, all I ask is that if you find any shocking world shattering secrets out, let me know what they are," Miala replied with an accepting sigh, but then quickly smiled again, "because I want to know about them so I know what horrible secrets to keep from my next CO."

Talina resisted a smirk. "Anything excessively shocking that does not require a criminal charge will remain between us girls."

"Hey, I'm not a criminal," Miala replied with a pout. "My shocking secret is too shocking to be criminal. And once you find it out... Well... The old CO knew... And we both know what happened to him."

"Actually... I don't." Admitting ignorance on any subject was a personal blow to Talina, but curiosity was killing her. "That is... I've read the official report, but it was scarce on relevant details. Namely... how did those circumstances come about?"

"Oh, I mustn't say. It was such a trauma... to everyone..." Miala said suddenly getting extremely melodramatic.

Talina sniffed at the reply. "So I've heard." The elevator came to its destination. "Don't forget the dress uniform."

"A uniform that's a dress," Miala replied with a nod. "I think I'll look wonderful. How short can it be? Because I have bomb legs and if I can go short enough I've heard good things about my bum too."

Talina turned a disbelieving scowl at Miala. "What part of 'uniform' do you not understand, Ensign? Regulation length. Save the burlesque routine for your personal leave."

Miala pouted dramatically. "Okay, okay, I give," she said and held up her hands in defeat. "I'll wear the uniform." She made a mental note as to how far she could get away with pushing the new CO all the same. She enjoyed pushing people, but it wasn't a good idea to piss of one's boss, at least not too much.

"And it will be pressed," Talina added. "No wrinkles, no pins, baubles, or extra buttons. Just a standard dress uniform to respect the passing of a fellow officer."

"You do realize that the last funeral I went to I wore pink lolita," Miala said rolling her eyes. "It's no fun to dress like everyone else, especially when I'm not on duty." She paused and tapped her lip in thought, maybe she could spin this to her advantage. It was at least worth a shot. "Make you a deal. I'll wear standard dress uniform if I can modify my regular uniform to be pink and have a skirt."

Talina did her best not to frown. "Do you... think you're in bar? Does this look like the environment for a college co-ed to dress provocatively? Are you looking to... 'hook up' on the job?"

"Do I need to be looking to hook up to dress in a way I find comfortable?" Miala asked putting her hands on her hips. "I dress how I like for me. I wear a uniform when I have to. All I want is to wear a uniform that suits me. Is that so much to ask?"

"If your uniform is ill-fitting, you may get it tailored," Talina said, "but you will not wear it shorter than regulations. You may as well accessorize it with a streetlight and a public defender."

"Oh, I like that idea, can I do that?" Miala replied with a roll of her eyes. Looks like it was going to be a by the book kind of thing with the new CO. Part of her cursed the idea. She'd gotten used to a more laid back environment. "So, can I wear the skirt at least? If it's regulation?"

"Can you run in a skirt?" Talina asked. Then she sighed. "Oh, very well. Regs are regs."

"That's close to the right attitude. You might make it here," Miala said with a shrug. "But you may need to be ready to break the rules if you plan to get anywhere here. Remember, to most of the fleet, we're the bad guys."

Talina frowned. "Malfeasant officers view us at the bad guys precisely because we do not break the rules. You should remember that."

Miala shrugged. "I guess so, but they don't call us the Unmentionables because they like us, heck they don't even call us that because they hate us. Rules are weird here," she said mostly to herself. She smiled and turned to her new commanding officer. "But I guess now that you're in command you'll shape us up and make us the pride of the fleet."

"You may bet your sweet ass on that," Talina said, still facing forward.

"Awe, you think my ass is sweet?" Miala replied, deciding to take that as a compliment. "Well, as long as you don't close our club or make the synthesizers stop making alcohol and recreational drugs, we'll be fine." She gave her new CO the biggest smile she could manage. "I promise not to get hammered on the clock."

Talina pinched the bridge of her nose. "I... didn't mean... about your ass..." She let out a firm sigh. "Sobriety on the clock is the minimum standard. Whatever you do in your off-time is not my business."

"See, now that's the spirit," Miala said with an even bigger grin. "And don't feel bad. I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on my butt. I work out, you know. It takes effort to burn off all the calories from drinking and eating laced treats."

"Congratulations on your sculpted posterior," Talina said. "There are no regulations regarding the mandated shape of one's backside, so I will refrain from further comment."

"Well, if there were any regs about a nice bum, I would totally meet them all," Miala said as she paused and looked around. "Okay, when is the memorial anyway? How long do I have to change?"

Talina was about to respond, but then realized she didn't rightly know. The pregnant pause reflected her internal shame as being unprepared for such an obvious question. "I'll inform the unit just as soon as the arrangements are finalized," she bluffed.

With that Miala stopped in her tracks and sighed. "Then where the heck are we walking to?"

"I'm dropping off my case report to central processing," Talina said. "You're free to go if you wish."

"Did you really print off a case report so that you can walk it down here so that it can be scanned to put into the database?" MIala asked stopping and giving her a look of utter bewilderment. "Why?"

Talina refused to blush or make apology for her efficiency... even if that efficiency was a little inefficient on the front end. "Trust but verify," she said. "Those three words will take you far."

"So, can I take this as permission to waste time on duty doing menial tasks that would be faster and easier to do the long way, but less time consuming?" Miala asked raising an eyebrow.

"You may do things manually if they ensure operational security and integrity of the investigation," Talina said crisply. "Always remember: You are on my clock, not the other way around."

"Wouldn't the other way around be the clock is on me?" Miala asked, an eyebrow creeping up. "Why would I have a clock on me? I feel like I'm misunderstanding your metaphor. Is a clock on you and Earth thing? I mean I watched a bunch of Earth cop shows to get ready for working here, and I didn't hear that one."

Talina blinked slow and long. "Do they not keep time on Xelaya?"

"Well, we do, we don't have a saying like the clock being on you. It seems a little... odd," Miala said and then shrugged. "But then again, you humans are always making up weird things."

"Being 'on the clock' means your time currently belongs to someone else, usually as a result of a sworn duty," Talina femsplained. "In this case, when on duty your time belongs to me."

"But you implied there was an opposite to that. That there was an other way around, the clock being on me. I wasn;t familiar with that," Miala replied raising an eyebrow. "Human idioms do get so tangled. I don't know how you keep them straight."

Talina pinched the bridge of her nose and sighed. "Consider yourself under a new standing order: keep discussions of idioms to a minimum."

"Yes Sir!" Miala said and snapped to attention and did a quick salute. "No more talking about idioms, understood!" She couldn't help but smirk a little after the words tumbled out of her mouth.

"Is something funny?" Talina asked.

"Nope, nothing," Miala said with a shrug. "Just funny that human language is so confusing I guess. Xelayans are much more straight forward. Not as much as Moclans, but Humans are almost as confusing as Moclans anyway, just in other ways."

Talina did her best not to roll her eyes. "Carry on, Ensign."

"Okay, you see the thing about Moclans is they are violently aggressive at times, but also some of the most charming people. Like half of their sports are just these brutal displays, yet they also seem so coll and chill in person," Miala said, carrying on with the topic, again not quite understanding her new CO. "And Humans are a lot the same. They can be so cool and fun and then they turn around and get upset over the weirdest things. Like one time I saw ensign Marrow, he's an engineer, and he was yelling at a synthesizer for making exactly what he told it to make and not what he meant to say. You know?"

After a moment of blinking contemplation, Talina answered with a terse, "No, I'm afraid I don't."

"Haven't spent a lot of time around Moclans, I take it. Should I continue on or is that enough? I never know how much is too much," Miala admitted with a shrug.

"I have been around Moclans enough to not see the immediate similarities between us," Talina said diplomatically, "but I will respect the Xelayan perspective. Perhaps... I will find it instructional in some way."

"I guess it doesn't seem that way cause you're human, but trust me, most of us non-humans think you guys are weirdos," Miala said with a bright smile. "Luckily I like weirdos."

Talina frowned. "Did you speak to the previous unit chief this way?"

"I talk to everyone this way," Miala replied with a shrug.

"Well..." Talina searched for words but came up dry. "Don't. I expect a modicum of decorum."

"I have no clue what that means," Miala replied blinking in confusion. "You know, boss lady, I think you're going to have issues if you don't learn to breath. Remember the part where we're the unmentionables and you're the boss of the unit named after panties."

Talina's eyes shot wide open. "Panties?! I assumed the unit's nickname was due to an overarching commitment to discretion and secrecy!"

"Okay, I think I am catching onto something..." Miala replied, shocked. "Do you really think this is the kind of posting that is good enough to have a cool nickname?"

She passed long enough to give her boss lady a chance to start to answer and then cut her off before she could.

"This is the nightmare. Everyone out there cries for the Union to save them and the Union of course sends ships. Ships full of people. People are idiots and mess things up. So then when things go wrong involving one of those Union officers they call us. To clean up the mess. And I get to sort through all of the scummy gross data they send here, " she explained, getting in real close. "And that doesn't even go into what happened to the old guy..."

"You never did tell me what happened to my predecessor," Talina said, focusing on the only point in the diatribe that interested her.

"Well..." Miala shifted uncomfortably. "I don't think I should be the one to tell you. I mean, you have the files. And It's... Well, complicated. Not that anyone here is to blame. It just kinda blew up and now it's blown over, so it's good."

Talina narrowed her eyes. "So you've said. I think I can find my way from here, Ensign. As you were." They were several levels and several hundred meters from the bullpen now, which made order far less casual than it sounded.

"Sure thing, Boss Lady," Miala said with a smile brighter than a quasar. "Let me know if you need anything more. I'm not hard to find."

And with that the tiny Xelayan officer went skipping back to her workstation. She had a few more pieces of evidence to go over and see what she could make of, then it would be lunch.


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