Obsidian Command

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People at the End of the Day

Posted on 31 Mar 2022 @ 9:06pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Commander Thaddeus Zayne & Major Minka Mazur, MD (*) & Ptolemy Cumberland & Delmer "DB" Holland
Edited on on 02 Apr 2022 @ 8:34pm

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: Promenade, Whistling Dixie Supper Club
Timeline: backpost, following "No More Secrets"
4560 words - 9.1 OF Standard Post Measure

The live music, chatter, and glassware sounds emanating from Whistling Dixie’s Supper Club became a kind of palette that Calliope found mildly disorienting. She was still unsure if going out would have the effect that Dr. Llwyd had suggested it would, giving her something else to focus on. She’d taken a little effort at her appearance, changing from her uniform to something nice, a favorite dress she’d bought on a trip to Trill with Lance, and on making up her face which covered most deficiencies, apart from the red in her eyes brought out from so much crying. She assured herself it wouldn’t matter, as no one should be looking that closely into her eyes, but put some drops in anyway for some relief. Once she was confident that she didn’t look like a pity party waiting to happen, she made her way to the promenade.

The line at the Supper Club wasn’t long yet, being a little early, and Calliope found herself okay with cueing. As she waited, she considered calling Lance. The trouble was he was still on a shift for a couple of hours and she knew he would drop everything for her. He had enough trouble with his perception at work, thanks to her. She reasoned it would be better to find herself some balance and spend the time together at home later. Still reflexively looking for a friend, she entered Bruce’s text call-up but found her message directed to a non-emergency message system— on Cerastes. She quirked a brow at that. Why would Bruce be on the Marine base? She typed out a brief message asking when they might catch up, before closing her wrist cuff’s commlink and then wringing one hand with the other as she tried to make sense of it.

She hadn’t seen Bruce since the last bar she’d been to. All she knew of his experience came from the general action report. He’d crashed a shuttle looking for her. She hadn’t thought he would spend hours conducting a search himself. In her admittedly impaired scenario algebra, she had thought he would break atmo over the storm and put out the call for a search. It weighed on her, imagining she’d probably scared the shit out of him, too. She thought it entirely possible he didn’t care to talk to her.


Calliope jumped a little as she realized there was a gap in the line ahead of her and the greeter was trying to get her attention over the happy noise of the club beyond the entry. She closed the distance with some apology on her expression.

“How many?” asked the greeter.

“Just the one. Me, Myself, and I.”

The greeter smiled. “Table?”

She considered getting a table alone, but that seemed to negate the point. “No, just point me to the bar.”

The quieter side of DB’s was still quite alive with activity despite the relatively early dinner hour. The resident fiddle player, his guitar accompaniment and an accordion player were on stage playing for a large, robust, blonde woman who was belting out her song as if they were on a bayou in Louisiana. A few couples were dancing on the floor but most were just tapping their feet and watching the musicians go as they ate and drank away.

Selecting the less populated end of the bar around the corner of it, Calliope felt like she could people watch from the vantage while keeping her own distance. She selected the middle stool from five empty ones for sufficient buffer. She wasn’t the tallest person to begin with, but in the best of health a bar stool was nothing more than a hop. It took her a little more effort to step up and leverage her weight against the counter to ultimately settle herself into the stool. “Just… an iced tea. Unsweet. Lemon.” She asked the tender.

“Sure, darlin’,” a pixie-haired redhead nodded with a look on her face that left no doubts as to her opinion of the choice.

While she looked over her shoulder at the tables, Calliope ran her fingers through her mid length hair, subconsciously testing that the roots were still holding. She had trouble focusing on any one thing in the establishment. The growing dinner crowd was not unlike the tracking of a flock of birds. The sense of people moving in a mass, difficult to pick apart from one another, was too reminiscent of the Devil’s Golden Bowl. It was the vibrancy and the music that kept her grounded enough not to draw the similarity too closely. In time with the rhythm of the band, she found herself tapping the back of her own hand as Jeestroyt had demonstrated once, a sensory effort to be present.

The tables were filling up fast all around the dance floor. The hostesses were working overtime to get them seated and settled while the servers were marching a steady rhythm about the place, trying to secure drinks and orders of the patrons before they got unruly. Even the bar was filling up fast, turning Calliope's seat into a hot commodity.

Absent minded while she watched, she sipped her tea and almost choked on the massive amount of sugar she specifically didn’t order.

“How’s that sweet tea?” a man asked brightly, stepping into the space to Calliope’s right and leaning against the bar. He was a slight man with dark hair and a full beard, but he had a smile that seemed almost infectious.

Calliope finished coughing into a napkin while gathering a smile. “Tea’s… sweet,” she confirmed, certain the server had made the mistake on purpose.

“Penny makes a helluva a John Daly, if you like that tea,” he added with a smile. “I’m DB, by the way. Welcome to my little slice of Dixie.”

She hadn’t seen it go up while she was in medical ward at the time, but she remembered the string of dark, abandoned places waiting to be gutted and reborn when she’d first toured the promenade after arriving. It felt like a different world now. “Calliope,” She introduced herself in return. “You did a nice job with the place.”

“Well thank you, thank you,” DB beamed, “It feels like it's coming together just fine,” he agreed, looking at the huge display of bottles, knick knacks, flags, banners and old time signs behind the bar reflected in the huge mirror. “A few minor supply chain issues, but I think we’ve found a rhythm here.”

“Hopefully the supply chain will iron out.” There hadn’t been a lot of reliable shipping to the sector while Starfleet had abandoned the area with the loss of the station. It had only been a few weeks of nominal stability. Markets liked security. “It’s not your first foray into restauranteering,” she judged by the atmosphere and the crowds.

“No,” DB shook his head dramatically. “It is, however, my first time off-world,” he smirked, “I know. In this day and age, who stays a homebody this long,” he chuckled. He gave a playful shrug, “When I find something I like, I stick to it. Besides, where could possibly be better than the South? Southeast North America, in case that’s not clear,” he added for clarity.

A little more at her ease thanks to the small talk, Calliope braved the sweet tea again, better prepared for the sugar. “Nothing wrong with knowing what you like and sticking with it. Nice of you to bring home with you and share it with the rest of us, too, though.”

DB just smiled back, his attention on something else going on in the restaurant behind. He pointed, gestured and then half turned back to Calliope. “I’m so sorry, I’m being rude Miss Calliope. I’m afraid I need to take care of some other business. It sure was a pleasure talking to you,” he smiled sweetly. “I do hope you enjoy it. This one’s on me,” he said, waving at the pixie-haired woman and gesticulating the message. “Have a wonderful evening,” said with a genuine smile before leaving the bar to help the pregnant lady behind him settle into her chair and offering the table his warmest welcome. No sooner than he’d vacated the stool, another patron settled down on it.

Calliope stirred her sweet tea. If the order was wrong, but it came free of charge, how could she be sour about it anymore? She reflected on the simple charm of the proprietor and glanced up to the mirror behind the bar to catch sight of DB welcoming some guests at the table behind her. The new diners were all too familiar and she quickly regretted her curiosity. She ducked and shielded her eyes with one hand over her forehead focusing on the ice in her tea to avoid Doctor Mazur noticing her, noticing. She wasn’t sure why she was avoiding Mazur, so much as reflex anymore. Stealing a glance farther down the bar, she wondered if there was another open stool to quietly relocate to, but the place had packed in elbow to elbow.

“Now what can I get y’all this evening,” DB could be heard as he helped Doctor Mazur into her chair, “Ma’am?” he asked Minka first.

“I will have a small glass of white wine, and a very large sweet tea,” she answered, smirking at her husband. Minka glanced up at DB who looked concerned, “You’re aware I’m the stations Chief Physician?” she added.

“Well, I am now, and I have to say, you’re not at all what I expected,” DB smiled brightly back.

“The horns are imaginary,” Thad quipped. Minka threw her napkin at him.

Unable not to hear them, Calliope realized that not only was Mazur suspiciously going out of her way for Zayne like she’d known for weeks, but Zayne seemed to return the familiarity. Calliope’s suspicions were doubly bolstered by the awareness demonstrated by his particular comment. He knew what Mazur was normally like and was on her good side somehow.

“Now, what can I get you four this evening?” DB asked brightly, politely waving off the waitress that had come to serve the table, “This here’s T’Prel, she’ll be your server, but since I’m here, I can’t help but wait on y’all,” he declared emphatically.

“What’s that beer we ‘ad when we watched the match last week,” the man Minka was leaning against asked Thaddeus in a thick, nearly unintelligible, cockney accent.

“Something fuzzy?” Thad shook his head.

“Fultondale Fuzzy,” DB nodded, “Named for my hometown.”

“A pitcher of that and four glasses,” Mr. Doctor Mazur declared. “Ah, fook it, make it three pitchers. One each for us lads, and one for them to share!” he crowed loudly, making everyone at the table laugh.

Closing her eyes against the rest of the active restaurant, Calliope tuned into the happy table, there and not there. She rather liked Minka’s husband, she decided, as he must have counterbalanced her more chilly average. She’d heard the accent before, in the area surrounding Lance’s home in Great Britain. It wasn’t one the Quinn household used, though, that was for sure.

“I’ll stick with my white wine and sweet tea,” Minka said, patting DB’s arm soothingly, “What Cora doesn’t drink of the beer, I’m sure my husband will.”

“Too, right, love,” he answered without missing a beat, to more laughter.

Cora, Calliope deduced by easy process of elimination, had to be the other woman at the table. And from the easy way ‘Mr. Mazur’ had rolled the ladies together in his offer of a pitcher to split, Calliope was sure that made it a double date. Zayne was seeing someone. Calliope’s heart was a little relieved on his account. He’d spent so long with the skeleton crew in the void and so much uncertainty about the possibility of any future. When she’d met the skeleton crew she couldn’t help but cast herself in their shoes and wonder what that did to a person. That he could connect with someone else was reassuring. Calliope braved a little turn of her head to try to catch a glimpse of this ‘Cora’ in the mirror.

“Tell me what it is you sell again at your shop, Cora?” Minka asked sweetly of the woman across from her, sitting next to Thaddeus, her hand resting atop his on the table. “Ptolemy and I have to know all the details. Our approval means everything to Thad,” she deadpanned playfully. The others all laughed again.

“My shop is called Athena’s Loom,” Cora answered in a slightly lower than normal voice, at least for a human female, “I sell all sorts of fabrics, but my specialty is Tholian silk. It’s what my dress is made out of, actually,” she said, gesturing to herself. The dress was obviously silk, but the fabric seemed to shimmer in a way that was wholly unexpected. Not in the way a bit of silk that had been colored might, but in an almost ethereal way, which brought out deep shades of burgundy.

“Oh, that is beautiful. I love how it shimmers,” Minka gushed.

Calliope knew an honest Tholian silk when she saw it, even from a reflection in her peripheral vision. She had one herself, and besides, Tholian Silk was often among stolen and smuggled cargo. She’d been taught to tell the difference between the real mccoy and knock-offs by her old Quartermaster. The genuine article was woven under intense temperatures and the cooling and shrinking set the nuance of iridescence. Tholian silk couldn’t just be cut with scissors or the weave would completely lose luster. There was a whole guild secret level process to the handling of the piecing and fusing. Calliope loved the high collar of Cora’s dress, which framed her face. She had a very refined taste to match her more reserved nature.

“Cora. Tell Minka how you two met,” Ptolemy suggested, gesturing emphatically towards his wife as if this story was worth it.

Cora chuckled and looked over at Thad, smiling affectionately. “Well. There was this Nausicaan-,” she started, interrupted by the return of the waitress, T’Prel and DB.

“Alright now friends, the party can now commence!” DB declared, holding three full pitchers of beer deftly while T’Prel deposited cold glasses for the beer along with the wine and sweet tea for Minka. She also set down two baskets of something that they hadn’t ordered. “Now I know y’all didn’t order, but you have to try the house specialty. Fried pickles. It’s my Grandpappy’s recipe. He was an ole’ Cajun that loved him some fried pickles. Ain’t nothing more southern. But watch out. They got a kick!” he grinned, helping T’Prel put everything out.

“Could we get one more cold glass, please?” Minka asked T’Prel quietly as DB was showcasing a pickle and telling them all how wonderful of a treat it was. “On the house, of course, my friends!” he added.

Maybe it was a tactic to garner new patrons to his fledgling business, but Calliope thought DB was fairly free with the sides and drinks. She felt a little cheated out of Cora’s story due to the interruption. Anything that began with “Well, there was this Nausicaan—” was worth the telling. She stared back into her drink.

Minka leaned over to Ptolemy and whispered something in his ear. He nodded, turned about in his chair, gesticulated something to the table behind them and then without leaving the chair drug their spare chair over to the table. A moment later T’Prel set the extra cup on the table.

“My friends. Enjoy!” DB declared, letting them dig in.

“I want to hear all about this Nausiccan,” Minka smiled brightly at Cora. “But before you start. Thad?” she said, cocking her head towards the back of the green-skinned woman sitting at the bar behind them.

Thad turned around curiously, saw what he was being gestured to and sighed. It was probably time to bury that hatchet, or at least the appearance of one. They were all people at the end of the day. Even if no one believed it possible for Minka. He leaned back and tapped Calliope on the shoulder.

Self conscious about her eavesdropping, she jumped a little as she turned to look over her shoulder.

“Calliope. Come sit with us,” Thad suggested, offering as warm and friendly of a smile as he could muster.

She returned the smile, guarded, and adjusted her dress at the shoulder. “I don’t want to intrude.” She stood with her tea, thinking of finding somewhere else to be in the establishment so as not to make it weird for their double date. She was hardly out of the seat before someone else assumed the coveted opening.

“It’s not intruding when you’re invited, Calliope,” Minka chimed in, gesturing to the empty seat and the empty glass. She nudged her husband.

“Right,” he jumped slightly, pouring out some beer into the new glass. “Come on then, love. This beer will change your life,” Ptolemy declared.

Biting her lip, Calliope turned away from the table for a moment. Part of her worried it was an insincere offer out of pity or that joining the table and playing fifth wheel to their party was only a chance to humiliate herself further. But she couldn't imagine anything more humbling than what she'd just been through, anyway. Besides, she reasoned declining might concretize her already strained working relations with Mazur and Zayne, making a perceived spectacle of rejecting the token open seat. She took up her cane and squeezed around the other patrons seated at neighboring tables, until arriving at the table and hooking her cane on the back of the seat.

"Sounds like a claim that needs testing…" she replied to Mr. Mazur as she took the seat.

“I’m Ptolemy,” he smiled as she sat down, “This is my missus,” he said, gesturing to Minka. “That’s Thad, and his lady friend, Cora,” he smirked, gesturing to the two of them.

“We’ve met,” Thad said, raising his glass to clink with hers. “Cheers.”

“Cheers!” Ptolemy answered, raising his own glass.

Calliope appreciated the clueless welcome for Ptolemy, who had no context at all for her, and no reason to feel any reserve in his welcome.

Ptolemy clinked glasses with everyone and then took a long pull of his beer and set it down with a satisfied sigh. “Now what the bloody hell is a fried pickle?” he asked, reaching out for one from the basket nearest and picking it up to inspect it.

Finishing a sip himself, Thad took one as well. “They’re kind of hit or miss. My mom used to take us to a place in Memphis that made an amazing fried pickle. But I’ve never had one since that didn’t taste like pickle mush,” he explained, also inspecting it critically before popping it into his mouth.

“And?” Cora asked sweetly.

Thad chewed it up and smiled, “I stand corrected.”

Calliope hadn’t expected anything less from DB’s offerings, even if she was going to avoid pickles and spice in favor of not touching her stomach off. She tested the much hailed brew, not intending to drink much, or quickly, but found herself taking a second sip after. “Are you all from someplace on Earth?” she asked, curious about the nuance between each of their cultural references. There were only three major burroughs on her colony and they each had something of their own weird cultural leanings, but they were mostly just a hodge podge of Federation races. Her mother was some measure of Carribean, but Calliope didn’t really have her accent or understand enough of the peculiarities to lay any claim to it. Not the way so many people from Earth seemed to take pride in claims to localities.

“I’ve never asked where you’re from,” Thad offered to Cora who smirked in reply, “There’s no wondering where he’s from,” he added, gesturing to Ptolemy. “Even if he is named after some really old Egyptian,” he quipped.

“Says the Disciple Thaddeus?” Ptolemy fired back.

Minka laughed while Cora just grinned at the playful banter, ultimately answering the question offered, “I’ve actually never been to Earth,” she declared, expecting the typical reaction she always got whenever she dared let that tidbit out. One even more dramatic when in the company of fellow humans.

“Wait… never?” Ptolemy asked.

Cora shook her head, “Never.”

“That’s not so strange.” Calliope insisted. “I probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t where the primary campus of the Academy was. Are you from the colonies?”

Cora shook her head, drawing her beer a little closer. “So there was this Nausicaan,” she started.

“Oye! There it is!” Ptolemy slapped the table excitedly. “Go on, go on, tell ‘em!” he waved at the table smugly as the others laughed.

“Here I am, sitting at the bar, and this Nausicaan comes in. He’d come to my shop earlier in the day and bought an entire bolt of Tholian silk. An entire bolt,” she said emphatically. “And I told him when he bought it, he had to work it by hand. He refused to let me make anything. I warned him. By hand only. Any heat based tools and it will burn to a crisp. I could tell he wasn’t listening so I told him at least five times. But he paid for it all and left,” she explained.

“Anyway. Later that evening I went to Hula Pete’s for a drink, not this Hula Pete’s, the one on Falkirk. Though, it is the same guy running it,” she chuckled. Thad nodded in agreement. “I’m just minding my own business at the bar, when who walks in… Mr. Nausicaan,” she smirked dramatically, “And surprise, surprise, he wasn’t happy,” she explained, pausing a moment for effect, aware she had their undivided attention. “He slams it against the bar and demands a refund. I said no.”

“It was a little more than no,” Thad smirked.

“Ok. Fine. I told him he didn’t listen to me and that he’d done exactly what I’d warned him not to do,” she clarified, nudging Thad playfully. “But he was having none of it. He slammed the ream on the bar again, but before he could say anything else, the gentleman on the other side of the from us asked him to stop. That he was trying to enjoy his drink,” she explained, looking to Thad to make it clear who that person was. “So Mr. Nausicaan leans over and puts a glob of spit in his drink, then turns back to have at me again.” Minka cringed and shook her head.

Cora was grinning now. “Before the Nausicaan can start in on me again, Thad stands up and pours his drink slowly onto his head, puts the empty on the bar and orders another,” she laughing, “Ignoring the Nausicaan like it didn’t just happen.”

Minka guffawed loudly, “No…”

Calliope laughed through a grimace and looked at Thad. “You didn’t.”

Thad shrugged and sipped his beer, “Seemed like a good idea at the time.”

“Even I know better than to piss off a Nausicaan.” Calliope said, even though she hadn’t exactly tested the theory. “Terrible senses of humor, and the only thing that unites them is retribution. I’m surprised you don’t take everything through a straw.”

“Oh, he tried,” Cora grinned. “Marine Corps Security beat him to it,” she explained. “Just as he was about to fight, they asked what was going on. Thad said, ‘Nothing. He was just leaving’,” she said, “When the Nausicaan didn’t, Thad turned back and said ‘You’re still here?’,” she grinned.

Ptolemy guffawed, “Bet he was chuffed.”

Cora nodded, “Good thing they were there. They caught him before he could hit him,” she grinned, patting his hand lovingly. “Good thing too. I much rather you not taking life through a straw.”

Calliope worked through the glass incrementally as she decided that when their orders arrived, she would come to the bottom of it, like some sort of hourglass, and it would be time to excuse herself and head home… to whatever remained.

“You’re right about the beer,” she told Ptolemy as an aside from the rest of the conversation. “It’s pretty good. Not sure about the life changing bit yet though. I’ll have to reserve judgment and see.”

“If you’ve tried the rest of the beer round this station, you’d agree,” Ptolemy replied in an undertone. “If the missus would drink this. If she were allowed,” he added, glancing over at her.

MInka’s sweet tea was nearly half gone but her wine had only just been sipped. She shrugged in reply, “Another reason I’m ready to be done with this particular child,” she said, patting her belly.

“You have one already, right?” Cora asked.

“Aye, Ada,” Ptolemy grinned, “She’s a right little git, but she thinks the sun shines straight out of Thad’s arse,” he laughed.

Interest piqued, Calliope tilted her head, wondering at how Thad might be the sort to ingratiate himself with small children.

“Kids,” Thad shrugged.

“I’m sure it has nothing to do with you saving Ptolemy’s life, or taking them to hide on the station during the assault,” Minka chimed in sarcastically. “Nothing at all.”

“You did that?” Cora asked, looking to Thad in awe.

“Too right,” Ptolemy nodded. “Couldn’t get my bloody EVA suit on fast enough. I wasn’t going to make it much longer. Thad knocked me down and put it on me in a snap,” he chuckled. “Almost bit it,” he said, looking to Minka.

The pieces snapped together. Calliope had been aware from summaries that Thad had held out in a decompressed section of the station with some civilians after the Battle. What Calliope hadn’t done was spent any efforts finding out which civilians they had been. Learning that Minka’s family had been among them made everything about the hard-ass Marine Doctor’s behavior surrounding Thad fall into place.

“You never said that, you just said that you waited out the battle with some civilians. That there wasn’t anything you could do to help,” Cora complained.

Minka snorted derisively and Ptolemy laughed out loud.

“I’m sure the other families whose kids and civilian spouses were in that section of the station would say you did more to help than anyone else could have,” Minka clarified.

Thad looked intensely uncomfortable with the attention.

Recognizing his humble discomfort and looking to dissipate it, Calliope offered a punctuation to the praise, lifting her half-empty glass for another round of cheers. With quiet earnesty she said, “To looking out for one another...”


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