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Pine And Cypress

Posted on Jun 16, 2015 @ 1:56am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Jun 16, 2015 @ 1:56am

Mission: The Lights of Hyperion

"Pine and cypress"

(cont. "Breaking the Seal")

* * * =/\= * * *

"Remember, the storm is a good opportunity for the pine and the cypress to show their strength and their stability."
Ho Chi Minh
* * * =/\= * * *



Scene: Corridors, deck 10, outside the Vulgar Tribble

“Major Kass, it’s the Captain! Do you think he wants to eat with us?” A young girl’s voice said from behind Kane as he walked down the corridor. “Can we ask him? Pleeeeease?”

“You c’n ask him once, Buttercup, real politely, but don’t be badgerin’ him if he says no, right? The Cap’n’s a busy man, he’s got a lot of stuff on his plate, so don’t-” Kassandra’s drawl was a little softer around the edges than normal, or maybe it was just her tone was far more indulgent. Kane could hear the soft shuffle of a child’s feet running, and the little girl rushed over to him and tugged on his sleeve. He looked down and smiled.

The girl was wearing a ruffly pink dress that had obviously been altered from an adult size by someone, probably Lance Corporal Flannigan, since she seemed the only one of the Marines likely to have much skill with a needle. Someone else had made her a tiara out of ration wrappers, and she appeared to have collected a hodge podge of jewelry from all the Marines to deck herself with. It looked as though Buttercup was becoming a doted upon mascot for the rough and tumble Marines.

“Captain, Miss Kass- Major Kass and me are going to the mess hall for lunch, will you come with us?” She said very seriously, and dropped into a clumsy curtsey, clearly something she’d been taught recently to go with her princess outfit. Kane adjusted his face into a very serious mask, and returned her curtsy with a courtly bow.

“I would be honored, Princess Buttercup,” Kane said gravely. The girl giggled and clapped her hands, and ran down the hall towards the mess hall. Kassandra’s footsteps moved towards him, and paused at his elbow. He turned to look at her, and his lips twitched reflexively.

She’d been roped into playing dress up with Buttercup. Her hair had been done up with twists on top, and then the ends had been put into a mass of sausage curls. She was wearing heavy makeup which had obviously been applied by someone (Lance Corporal Flannigan again?) in accordance with instructions from Buttercup. Finally, to top off the look, she was wearing a black leather bomber jacket, over tight black pants some sort of frilled pink and black striped top, festooned with her own set of jewelry.

The Major glared at him.

“I know you ain’t planning on laughing at me, sir. The Munchkin was in a bad state this mornin’, missin’ her ma an’ all, so we’re tryin’ ta cheer her up. She got t’ dress up them as weren’t goin’ on patrol. You should see Mister Bellecotte; his beard’s done up with so much glitter ah think he’s gonna be shittin- sorry Sir.” Kassandra pushed one of the curls out of her face with a flick. “I don’t know what we’re gonna do once we get to Elandipole, if her ma is- well if she can’t get off Limbo. I’m ain’t sure the sprog’d get over us dumpin’ her there. Come to that, I ain’t sure what my Marines’d do. They’re fonda the mite.”

Her face softened a bit as she said that, making her face almost unrecognizable. She was evidently quite fond of the girl herself.

“You like children a lot, don’t you Major. Never thought of having your own?” Kane asked, surprising himself. It was as though his talks with Jane had loosened his tongue just slightly. Kassandra gave him an odd look, and hesitated, as though she was both surprised and reluctant herself.

“Raised my sister’s two after she died, Sir. Done two decades a’ child rearin’ so I might as well've had my own.” Kassandra finally answered as they followed Buttercup down the corridor. Kane glanced quickly at her, she’d never mentioned children before. For someone who was fairly social with others in the crew, she evidently possessed a sense of privacy that rivaled his. “I ain’t really the settlin’ down type, so I don’t really see poppin’ any of my own out. What about you? You seem to get on with them well enough.”

“Never really been the settling down type either,” Kane muttered, trying to get out of a conversation that had just spiraled outside his comfort zone. Kassandra shrugged and let the matter drop. They entered the mess hall and joined Buttercup at her table.

“Horatio said I shouldn’t let you get away with just coffee and a cigarette,” Buttercup announced. “And he said if you gave me any 'guff' I should tell you that he’ll tell the doctor.”

“How’s about you forget what Horatio said, an’ I give you one a my replicator credits so you c’n get yerself a sweetie?” Kassandra said with a smile. Buttercup narrowed her eyes at Kassandra clearly weighing her very important instructions from Gunnery Sergeant Bellecotte against the allure of getting something sweet to eat. Kane doubted very much that Buttercup had ever had much in the way of treats. She was gaunt, even for a child, and she had that hungry look that many in Limbo had, like they’d never quite had enough to eat.

“How about you eat half of my regular food and I eat all of the dessert?” Buttercup compromised. Kane hid a smile, a smart child. They found a seat, and got their food. After some waffling, Buttercup decided to get herself the same thing to eat as Kane, and proceeded to divide it exactly in half, right down to the last pea. Kane was surprised the child managed to eat her food in between all the questions she bombarded him with about the ship, Earth, and space. Finally she asked Kane what his ‘favorite dessert ever’ was, and when he replied went skipping off to the replicator, with a firm order that he had to have a bite.

“I think you’ve gotten yerself an admirer,” Kassandra chuckled as Buttercup stopped to talk to Dido Loftus-Arn on her way to the replicator. “I think she’s got a little crush on you.” Kassandra’s chuckle became a laugh as she picked up the expression on Kane’s face. “Always happens at this age- they say a kid’s first idol is always one a’ their parents, but Buttercup ain’t got no Da, none that she knows anyway, so you’re the next best thing.”

“But- What about Bellecotte? It’s not like I have had much to do with her-” Kane asked, with a frown.

“You *seen* Bellecotte? Ugly as a pile a’ bricks, you on the other hand’re a good lookin’ man, much better puppy love material.” Kassandra was laughing so hard now that she was holding her injured side and wincing. She had a nice laugh, genuine and hearty, although he wasn’t so sure he appreciated being the butt of her amusement. “Ah, I ain’t makin’ funna ya, Captain. I jus’ remember what it was like with mah Niece. She had a thing for the owner of this Ramen shop in San Fransisco- We musta eaten Ramen every single day for three months straight, I thought I was gonna start dreamin' about salted eggs and fishcakes. She moped for months when I got a SecTac position in Starfleet and we had to move out. Anyhow, ain’t nothin’ to worry about sir, it’s nothin’ more than a little innocent adoration. She just thinks you’re the bee’s knees.” Kassandra’s laughter had petered out, and she looked thoughtful. “Might not be the worst thing for her either, if you’d be willin’ to spend some time with her once in a while. My Marines think the worlda her, but I’ll be the first to admit we’re somethin’ of a rough bunch. Would be good for her to spend some time with people with a little more learnin’ and refinement. I kin tell already she’s a smart kid, and I’d much rather she not get it into her head to go the route of joinin’ the Corps on accounta her only role models bein’ Marines.”

“I wouldn’ta - wouldn’t have - thought that you’d be against that,” Kane corrected himself. Her colony world accent was infectious, and it seemed the longer her speech, the heavier it became to the end. She seemed proud to be a Marine, and he was surprised to find that she didn’t think think of it as the most noble of professions. She shot him a look.

“Sir, I’m proud to be a Marine, but my only other choice was bein’ a farmer on Sherman’s Planet. The Corps took a lot from me sir, my youth, my idealism, my inncocence. I killed my first person for the corps at 17, and by 26 I’d become the ‘Butcher’. So no, sir, I don’t really want anyone who has other options to become a Marine. Specially since some people still seem to think we’re mindless grunts.” The last part was clearly a gentle dig at him.

Suddenly Kass’s communicator beeped.

[[Major. Problem. Noticed Shanty Town field down. Orders?]] An unfamiliar female voice said in an unfamiliar colony accent. Kassandra’s lips drew up into a grimace.

“Well fuck-a-doodle-do. Someone’s realized we don’t have any force fields on the shuttlebay door.” Kassandra translated the cryptic message for Kane’s benefit as her body language changed. One moment she’d been relaxed, almost to the point of indolence, a cigarette lazily drooping from her fingers, and now she was like a caged tiger, all pent up energy. She tapped her commbadge. “Finish your round, Nguyen. Roust the Marines, have them get on full enviro suits, set up some crowd control on the corridors leading up to the shuttlebay. Make sure they’ve all got gas masks. I’ve got plate electrifiers set up on the first hundred feet, so make sure to set up behind that. Get Stacy to engineering with those biometrics, and have her start queuing up beam outs to the brig and other secure areas. Make it look casual- don’t want anyone noticing before we have to. Check, double check, and triple check that Security is locked down. Weld the doors if you gotta, and make sure the Marine armory is squared away as well. I’m on my way down.” She looked at Kane, her eyes suddenly sharp and hard. “Any way you can take care of the tyke for a bit, sir?”

“I think I can manage that,” Kane was also suddenly alert. He resisted the urge to fly into crisis mode. It was clear to him that any problem was only nascent, and Kassandra didn’t seem like she’d appreciate having him hovering over her shoulder while she tried to do her job.

“One more thing, sir - “ Kassandra turned back to look at him, glancing first at Buttercup to see if she was coming back. She was still chattering away to Dido. Kassandra’s words were carefully annunciated, the colony accent beaten back with effort. “I didn’t want to spring this on you until absolutely necessary. I have security protocols in place to… Well… If the refugees did manage to take over the ship, there are some procedures in place to lock down the affected areas, do emergency beam outs of our crew and... Well... Decompress those sectors. I’ll do my best to make sure it doesn’t come to that, but I want you to know it’s an option.”

She turned around and marched quickly towards the door.

“Where’s she going?” Buttercup asked, balancing the giant sundae in two hands.

“She had something urgent to take care of, so you get to stay with me for a little bit,” Kane said, accepting the sticky spoon she handed to him. The little girl gave him a giant smile, and shoved a spoonful of ice cream into her mouth.

* * *=/\=* * *

Scene: Shanty Town.

After his discussion of the force fields with Embry, Jacen began to seek out the now apparently fairly infamous ‘Ms. Chen,’ who’d apparently been moved to the corner of Embry’s camp. He found her tent, but didn’t knock on the door- he could hear Steiner’s voice, punctuated with sounds that Jacen really could have lived his entire life without hearing. He grimaced.

“Looking for your girlfriend?” Savaar said with the closest thing to a smirk that a Vulcan could have. “Hope you don’t mind… How do you humans say it… Sloppy seconds? Or in this case it must be at least a dozen, your girl is quite diligent, I can see why the Captain liked her so much. Of course, I wouldn’t touch the pox ridden half breed with a hazmat suit.”

“Shut up, don’t you have something to do to get ready for things?” Barnes glowered at the Vulcan. Holy god, he’d never realized that there were Vulcans who were just plain assholes like Savaar. There was a sudden very loud noise from Steiner, a little bit of rustling, and then Steiner emerged, sweaty and disheveled. He saw Barnes, and gave a triumphant half sneer.

“Hi Sherriff. Might want to come back later, I think she’s gonna be too tired for you,” Steiner said as he swaggered off. Jacen grimaced, and tapped lightly on the tent door.

“Come on in,” Selyara’s voice said from within the tent. He opened the door, averting his eyes politely from the state of disarray he expected. Instead, he found her seated at a table, a padd in one hand, and the other building a tower of cards. She was perfectly made up and dressed, and had clearly been so for quite a while. She raised her eyes from the padd and smiled at him. “You can sit on the bed, but I’d suggest putting that blanket on the floor.” Jacen looked at the bed, looked back to her in confusion. Steiner seemed to have been pretty sure he’d been getting lucky in here, but it was obvious from Selyara’s attitude and appearance that nothing of the sort had happened. “You wanted to tell me that they know about the force field?”

“How did you know that?” Jacen asked, staring her evenly in the eyes. They were weird eyes, seemingly pupiless, and a dark mossy green.

“Embry told me. Well, he didn’t actually tell tell me. But he thinks very loudly when he’s feeling smug, and he can’t keep his hands to himself,” Selyara’s lip twitched in a momentary expression of revulsion that didn’t even seem to register emotionally with her. “What can I do for you?”

“I need those command codes and some other things now, no games, no bargaining.” Jacen said directly. He had a feeling that direct requests was the only way to make headway with her.

“Oh, of course,” she began to smile smugly. “Look under the bed. The codes are written on the ration wrappers, and there are some cards for replicator rations, a couple of flasks of alcohol, and while I can’t procure holodeck time just right now, assuming we put down this little mutiny I will be able to either convince the captain to provide them, or I’ll just sneak them out for some holodeck time. I’m sorry I didn’t give you them earlier, only I didn’t know exactly what Mister Silsby needed them for, and as I said I really am just one step above a prisoner.”

“And now you know what he wanted them for.” Jacen stared at her. He had a bit of a creepy feeling from her.

“Oh yes, though I don’t think he’ll tell you why.” She looked highly amused and giggled slightly. “Wouldn’t tell me, but I needed to know, so…”

It suddenly clicked.

“You’re a telepath, aren’t you?” Jacen edged away from her. “You did something to Steiner’s brain so he’d think-”

“Shhhh.” She pressed a finger to her lips. “Don’t go telling the world. And don’t go getting all jumpy. I am only a touch telepath, and really, I doubt I could do anything to you without having to do a lot of work. Steiner’s a moron, it’s easy to mess around with his brain. Now, I think it might be best if you told me exactly what you need done. I can be very useful when I take the notion.”

* * * =/\= * * *

Alix Fowler

Kassandra Thytos
The Magnificent Machiavellian Marine


Selyara Chen
A helpful wildcard, at least for now.


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