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Mind Your Ps And Qs

Posted on Jun 14, 2017 @ 6:29am by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Jun 14, 2017 @ 6:29am

Mission: The Romulan Way

"Mind your Ps and Qs"

(Cont. "Ghost Protocol")


* * *=(/\)=* * *

Location: USS PHOENIX

Stardate: 2.17.0613.2215

Scene: The Vulgar Tribble



Long lunches were one of Kassandra’s guilty pleasures. The Marines might be her family, but like family, they tended to drive one nuts after a while. Unlike the rest of the ship that dispersed into different areas throughout the crew quarters after they finished their shift, the Marines were constantly in each other’s pockets. They slept in one large room with bunks, they ate and took their leisure in their mess hall, they showered in a single room subdivided into cubicles for privacy.



The constant thrum of people hadn’t bothered her when she was younger, but now, nearly three decades older than most of the other Marines, she found the conversations of the younger Marines to be at best, full of incomprehensible popular culture references she was not privy to, and at worst irritatingly insufferable. So a long lunch (and more than a few cups of coffee) had become her refuge to maintain her sanity so that she didn’t end up reaching out and slapping her Marines upside the head.



Of course, her long lunch would have been much better if Iphie hadn’t been busy, and if she hadn’t given her two Bynar assistants strict orders to only let Kassandra have healthy food, something about how if Kassandra was going to continue drinking too much and eating ‘that MRE crap’ they were going to have to ‘make sure she had at least *one* meal that wasn’t complete nutritional rubbish’.



Kassandra poked at the salad and sighed. Blue cheese and figs? The cheese wasn’t even *actually* blue, it was mouldy. She’d pointed this out to Calvin, but he’d only given her a very confused look. She picked the pieces of proscuitto out of the salad. That at least was tasty. Very tasty.



She picked up the bowl, balanced it on her chest, tipped her chair backwards onto the back two legs and plonked her feet on the edge of the table to balance herself. She speared a fig and popped it into her mouth.



“Get your feet off the table this instant!” Iphie’s voice startled Kassandra. Her sensor nets usually made it nearly impossible for someone to sneak up on her, but the Vulgar Tribble and her long lunch was her ‘safe’ space, and so she’d let her guard down, and become so engrossed in dissecting her salad that Iphie had managed just that. Kassandra lost balance, sending her chair falling backwards, and her bowl flying up into the air. Muscle memory and her attention snapped in and she managed to snatch the bowl mid air and execute a somewhat graceful back roll back to her feet, but not before the contents of the bowl had scattered themselves around the floor.



“Ow! Ow! Ow!” Kassandra protested as Iphie grabbed her by the ear and began to pull her by the ear to the long table the Bynar’s had been setting. “The heck, Iffy?”



“Sit down! Your table manners are atrocious, and if I have to make this a very formal dinner, with haute cuisine, then you have to eat like a civilized human being, instead of a savage!” Iphie pushed her down into one of the chairs.



“Yes, XANA,” Kassandra muttered under her breath. She’d never seen the resemblance between the former Federation Secretary and her bubbly sister until that moment, but she was wise enough to know the comparison would be unappreciated, so she said slightly louder. “But donchya usually make hot food? I mean you weren’t gonna make sandwiches or somethin’ were you?”



Iphie fixed her with the same look that the Bynar had when she’d complained about the moldy not at all blue cheese. She pointed at the bizarre array of silverware. Some Kassandra recognized, but some, she hazarded, were Romulan designs. But there seemed to be far too many pieces of them for Kassandra’s taste.



“I’ll make this easy for you, start at the outside, work your way in-”



“Why in tarnation are there four forks an’ knives? Ain’t no need for but one set-”



“Courses!” Iphie flailed her arms around. “You use a different set for each course so you don’t muddy the flavors! Now, first course is easy, appetizers and canapes and cocktails, that’s all done standing up and schmoozing. I’ve made all the appetizers bite sized on purpose. Don’t you dare cram a bunch into your mouth at once, and don’t talk with your mouth full!”



“I wasn’t raised in a barn!” Kassandra grumbled. Iphie ignored her, and proceeded to expound the necessity of scooping soup towards the outside of the dish, and how Kassandra was not on any circumstance to pick the dish up to drink the last of the soup directly from the bowl. By the end of the demonstration of the proper use of all the implements, Kassandra was fairly certain that she was going to need crib notes to remember everything. Several excruciating minutes later, Kassandra was relieved to hear the shift change bell ring. She hastily began to pick off the rest of the lettuce from her uniform and collect her things to make an escape .



“Listen, thanks, I gotta go now-” Kassandra began to sidle hastily out of the Vulgar Tribble.


“One more thing! NO ELBOWS ON THE TABLE!” Iphie’s voice bellowed as Kassandra ran out the door, imparting one last piece of wisdom.

* * *=(/\)=* * *



Scene: Security



“Yu! Gym, now!” The less than dulcet tones of the MCO bellowed through Security. Jasmine fought the urge to turn to look at her, and instead continued to look through the security preparations that Ensign Proctor had made for the arrival of the Romulans onboard the ship. Privately, she found the Marine’s unconscious penchant for asserting dominance, and rather transparent power plays to be amusing; Publicly, she had to put her foot down and not appear weak to the people around her. She might have found it annoying, were she not certain that it was unintentional on Kassandra’s part.



“I SAID-” Kassandra’s voice was now right behind Jasmine, but at roughly the same volume. Jasmine held up a hand to stop her.



“I heard you, but I’m in the middle of something, Major. And this is not a barnyard, you don’t need to yell across the room,” Jasmine turned and smiled politely at the older woman to ameliorate the rebuke in her words. “What can I do for you? Why do we need to go to the gym?”



“How much do you know about Romulan martial arts? If you’re anythin’ like me, absolutely nothin’, and I do *not* like flyin’ blind,” Kassandra’s brows were knit in what Jasmine could only describe as worry.



“Seeing as we actually know very little about the Romulans, how do you intend to learn about their fighting style? Watching all Starfleet archives of hand to hand encounters with the Romulans? That could take days, and still give us no good idea what we’d be up against.”



“We’ve got an ace up our sleeve. Apparently Mister Cantor Von spent some time with the Romulans, and I have convinced him to show it to us in action,” Kassandra’s face twitched into a grimace.



“Convinced, or conscripted?” Jasmine’s lip twitched. “And what’s that face for? He seemed a perfectly nice person when I met him.”



“I… I am not fond of working with telepaths,” the Marine’s voice was quiet, and she had the good grace to look extremely embarrassed. “I know I shouldn’t, but I just can’t- I mean, my thoughts are my own, an’ like, people think I ain’t got not filter twixt my mouth n’ brain but I do. I got enough problems gettin’ along with you core worlders, don’t need any help offendin’ people, certainly not from mah own brain. Makin’ matters worse, I’ve been told that I got a pretty loud mind, all shouty and such. I’m just glad Romulans ain’t telepaths.”



“I’m sure you’ll be fine, besides, I don’t think Betazoids generally get offended by what people think, otherwise they’d spend a lot of time angry with each other. But maybe you’d feel better if you talked to him about it. He can probably tell that you’re uneasy about being around him, and it’ll make things worse if you don’t explain why,” Jasmine said, as she handed the padd back to Proctor, who was giving Kassandra stink eye. “I think we’re prepared for now, so I’ll happily accompany you to Mister Von’s demonstration.”



“Good. Sorry ‘bout bargin’ in earlier, I’m just very uneasy about this. Don’t rightly know what to do with enemies other than knockin’ skulls. Diplomacy seems so inauthentic, it’s like a lyin’ contest if you ask me, an’ no one says what they really mean. Drives me nuts. I’d much prefer people just say what they mean, an’ mean what they say. People who play nice when yer facin’ them, then try ta knife ya when yer back is turned are the worst. I like people who ya know where you stand with em, no dissembling. Lets get to the gym. Might wanna change into some PT clothes, we oughtta have a dust up to really get the measure of what we’re up against.”



* * *=(/\)=* * *


Scene: Andersson/Ryan quarters



“You’re lucky to have a boss that values you enough to take you to this shindig,” Ryan said as she watched Sofia fuss with her newly replicated dress uniform.



“It’s probably going to be boring, you know. Endless small talk, and barely veiled hostility and all that,” Sofia said, making a valiant attempt to tamp down her excitement for the benefit of her roommate.



“It’s going to be interesting, and you know it. You don’t have to pretend!” Ryan tossed her pillow at the other woman with a smile she didn’t quite feel. “Come on, this is the first time in forever there have been any sort of diplomatic contact with the Romulans. This is a big deal.”



“Yeah, but I still wish you were going. It’s hard being in a room full of your bosses, with no one to really talk to,” Sofia sighed.



“You’ll do fine, Iphie is always good to talk to if she isn’t running off her feet trying to get everyone ready-” Lynette’s pep talk was cut short by the chiming of the doorbell. “Now who could that possibly be? Were you expecting someone?”



Sofia shook her head no, so Lynette went to answer the door.



Standing outside was a tall, red-headed man, dressed in civilian or off duty garb, whom Lynette was entirely certain she hadn’t met before, but nonetheless seemed oddly familiar. He broke out into a smile when she opened the door, a charming, warm, genuine smile that seemed out of place, considering they didn’t know each other at all



“Lynette? Hi, I’m Lysander, it’s nice to finally get to talk to you,” he held out a hand, and after a moment’s hesitation, she shook it. From the corner of the room, Lynette could see Sofia craning her head to catch a glimpse of whomever was outside. Once she did, Sofia promptly began making teasing gestures, fluttering her eyes and fanning herself to indicate she thought that Lysander was probably an admirer of Lynette’s. “I’m supposed to be playing my cello as part of the entertainment for the reception with the Romulans, and I was told I was allowed to bring a plus one, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in being my plus one-”



From the corner of her eye, Lynette could see Sofia miming a round O with her mouth, and grinning. Lynette supposed she should have been flattered, but she had sudden flashbacks to Sam, and she felt suddenly awful.



“No, I’m flattered, but I don’t know you, and I’m not really interested in-” Lynette began.



“Oh, no no! Sorry, I’ve given you the wrong impression, I think. I’m not interested in you either. well, I mean, *interested* not that you aren’t interesting, or that I’m not interested in getting to know you. I’m Asta’s brother, I just assumed she’d have mentioned me to you, since you work together,” Lysander’s hands went up placatingly. “She was supposed to go with me, but she’s tied up in Engineering. She ran afoul of her boss earlier today, something about ‘installing power junction couplers in a non-standard format’ though she said that it increased efficiency, even though it *looked* jerry rigged. Anyway, long story short, she lost her temper and mouthed off to him, and got assigned to re-ionize all the shunts in the thermal venting systems.”



“I’m surprised she got in trouble, she’s usually able to talk her way out of it,” Lynette relaxed a hair. Now that he mentioned his relation to Asta, she realized why he looked familiar, although now that she looked at him longer, he also reminded her a lot of that irritating red-headed Marine. “She’s very good at smoothing Malin-Argo’s ruffled feathers usually.”



“You clearly have never seen my sister lose it. She’s… Well she puts my aunt Kassandra to shame when she reaches her breaking point. Plus she holds a grudge like you won’t believe. Anyway, when she found out she wouldn’t be able to go, she suggested that I should take you instead. She seems to think you could use a little fun,” the man was unwaveringly earnest. Lynette was sure that it was a trait that served him well in most interactions, but in her current frame of mind she found it offputting.



“No, thanks for asking though,” Lynette said, and stepped back from the door. Lysander stepped forward and put a hand in the door just long enough for him to get the sentence in that changed her mind.



“It will probably really piss Commander Malin-Argo off if you’re there. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?” His blue eyes blinked guilelessly at her. He must have seen her expression change, because he chuckled and grinned at her. “I’ll pick you up at 8.”

* * *=(/\)=* * *


NRPG: Marko, Ranjani, Phillip, tag!


Alix Fowler

As

Kassandra Thytos

A woman who was not raised in a barn

MCO

USS PHOENIX

 

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