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Log of the Month for May, 2021

Borrowed Candlelight
Posted on May 19th, 2021 by D'bryn Zoë and Hannah Ziredac

USS Atlantis
Shuttle Bay
May 4, 2400

Preliminary repairs to the Skylark’s power systems took Zoë right to the terminus of her duty hours. She would have finished the removal of all nonfunctioning components had the Ziredac woman not continued to hound her with inane prattle, audacious come-ons, and repeated requests to know if it was ‘quittin time’ yet, so they could ‘cut loose’. Though her usual flow state could propel her little projects into the wee hours of the morning, she would have welcomed such a predicament over constant interruptions.

‘Okay, so the Ammora guy is married and only interested in men (not to mention his starving-chihuahua energy), the gorgeous doctor who fixed my arm is ace, the Captain and the CSO are married to each other, Landskag is an animate mass of unsweetened farina, you say your boss is a 230-year-old bear—’

‘No, 230-year-old Aenar who only ever talks to a bear.’

‘At that point, what’s the difference? So, tell me Zozo—’

‘Nope. None of this Zozo busine—’

‘Is there anyone on this entire ship who’s’—and Hannah flicked up a digit for each stipulation—‘interested in women, not monogamously entangled, and has a sex drive?’

Zoë straightened from her cramped hunch at the midship conduit, gave Hannah a look of exhaustion. ‘Do you think about anything else?’

‘Hey, nothing suppresses the trauma of a horrific battle like some good ol homegrown hypersexuality.’ She punctuated this with a finger-gun and a tongue-click.

Returning to the conduit Zoë muttered, ‘At least you’re self-aware about it.’

Hannah put down the spanner and stretched her trapezius, ‘So what’s the story, morning glory? Think we can get a little juice from Atlantis? Really achin for those margs right about now.’

‘We’re not even halfway done clearing all of your junked components. We’re not gonna get any power until tomorrow morning at the earliest.’

With a teenage drama-kid’s groan Hannah said, ‘Guh, have it your way. Is it quittin time yet? Let’s go to y’all’s lounge or whatever and see what kinda margs we can get there.’

‘I don’t know if you’re allowed to go to our lou—’

Cupped hand to cheek, Hannah called, ‘Hey Lando, can we go to y’all’s lounge or whatever?’ The resulting grunt sounded affirmative. With the smuggest smirk this side of the Andromeda Galaxy, Hannah said, ‘So. Quittin time?’

=Λ=

Time had not allowed for the assignment of Hannah’s guest quarters yet. Hannah professed a staunch principle against such a prospect, citing her own comfortable sleeping quarters aboard her ship, but in its powerless state the Skylark fell short of one necessity.

‘I need a fucking shower, sum’m fierce. Can I rinse off at your place?’

Zoë could smell the impending heavy-handed advances more than she could smell Hannah’s body odor, but said, ‘Fine,’ nonetheless. Not that Hannah was too malodorous. In fact, underneath the waft of fresh sweat was the scent of lavender and orange oil and incense, the mélange of which was really quite calming.

An uncomfortable thought: Does she smell like this all the time? She blinked this thought away as soon as it elbowed its way into her consciousness.

When they arrived at Zoë’s quarters Hannah began to move slow, the exertion of the day perhaps catching up with her. It would register later, but it was the longest span of time they had spent together during which Hannah didn’t speak at all. Her eyes darted sleepily around the cabin, as if she was looking for something.

‘Hannah?’ Zoë said. ‘You okay?’

Hannah blinked. ‘Yeah, million miles away. Nice digs. Very cozy.’

‘Bathroom’s in there.’

The lassitude doubled in Hannah’s eyes. She half-blinked, lost focus, had to shake her head to jostle her consciousness back into function. ‘Sorry, what’d you say?’

Zoë pointed. ‘Bathroom.’

‘Oh. Yeah.’ She turned, dragged her feet toward the bathroom door, and slipped inside.

Really? Zoë thought. No, ‘Care to join me?’ Nothing? Guess I’m judging this lady a little too harshly.

Zoë changed into fresh clothes, replicated a granola bar and a warm cup of green tea, and perused the Skylark’s data on her PADD. Incredible, the amount of work it was going to take just to get its reactor going. The Xovul really did a number; Hannah was lucky they didn’t decide to take a second shot and reduce her to particles. Preliminary calculations illustrated that power could be restored to the Skylark as early as lunchtime tomorrow if Zoë hadn’t any more pressing issues at hand, and that was far from guaranteed. One civilian ship was not the Atlantis’s mission, after all.

Another discomfort latched onto Zoë’s mind: she detected no irritation at the idea of Hannah being around longer.

Vexing though she was in her brash presentation, Hannah was, after all, a breath of fresh air. If she was right about anything, it was that life in Starfleet tended to cultivate an orderly strain of complacency. Sure, you had haulerfuls of hard work, but you had your entire routine plotted out for you from the moment you woke up. You had protocols and directives and rank structures and guidelines, all from a bed of technological comfort. Maybe even luxury. Zoë did not yet know the breadth of Hannah’s life, but from what little she gleaned in conversation she recognized a certain freedom not entirely devoid of allure.

And the most uncomfortable thought yet: on top of the refreshing energy Hannah possessed, Zoë rather liked her. Couldn’t take a hint to save her life, was maybe a little too harsh on Scott, leaned hard into that roguish ethos you only found in action movies—but at her core Hannah Ziredac felt genuine. Sometimes that’s enough.

The bathroom door opened. Hannah emerged looking a little more at-ease but with a lasting expression of muted consternation. Her eyes still bounced around Zoë’s quarters from beneath crunched-together eyebrows.

‘Everything good?’ Zoë asked.

‘Yeah,’ Hannah said. ‘Is there…?’ She wandered to the left, into the sitting area, her nose held prominent as if she smelled something.

‘What?’

‘Nothing, I…’ Hannah continued her search.

‘Did you…did you still want to go to the lounge?’

Hannah didn’t answer. She went to the chair in the corner and peeked behind it, lifted the seat cushion, stooped, peered between the legs.

‘What are you doing?’

‘There’s…’

Hannah’s gaze snapped up, her eyes wide like a buck hearing the crack of a twig underfoot. She came forward as if to tackle Zoë but brushed past her, toward her bed.

‘Hannah, what the fuck are you do—?’

‘It’s over here. Right…’ Her head lolled down and to the left, at Zoë’s nightstand. ‘Right here.’

Before Zoë could reach her to intervene, Hannah yanked open the nightstand drawer and found the stainless steel pendant where the Light was kept. Her fingers were quick and her feet were quicker: she snatched up the pendant and shuffled away from Zoë’s interference.

‘Where’d you get this?’ she said.

‘My friend made it for me. Give it back.’

Zoë lunged but Hannah slipped to the side, hopping up onto the mattress. She ran a finger along the spherical casing, found the discreet clasp, and flicked it open with her thumbnail. To Zoë’s horror she opened the pendant, turned it over, and dumped the Light onto the mattress.

Hannah stared down at Zoë from her higher vantage. ‘Your friend made that? You gonna go full Gollum and tell you it was a birthday present as well?’

‘What do you want, Hannah?’ Zoë said with strained slowness. ‘Please, I need this thing to be a secret. No one can—’

‘Oh, honey, gem, jewel, trust me: the fewer people who know about these things, the better. What I wanna know is how you got one.’

Zoë remembered that Destiny woman referring to plural Lights, but her thoughts froze on the implication that Hannah knew about them as well. At first she could do naught else but stare at the Light, cradled there in a duvet crease at Hannah’s feet. Then with effort she said, ‘I watched it fall from the sky and land on the beach. On Bajor. Went out, picked it up, felt what it did to me, got my friend to make the pendant I keep it in.’

‘What does yours do to you?’

Not only did Hannah’s phrasing give her away, but two and two collided at warp speed to birth a new cosmic four. The noise in the corner of Hannah’s sleeping quarters, the traded memories of each other when Hannah was brought onboard, the new lightheadedness. Zoë asked with full confidence, ‘What does yours do to you?

‘I asked first, pumpkin.’

After a long sigh Zoë said, ‘Memories. Shows me memories of…seemingly random people, so far’s I’ve been able to tell. Every time there’s…’ The memories flashed in sequence through her mind. Terror, death, finality. Her eyes welled up. ‘I seem to get memories right before people die.’

Hannah’s posture had been triumphant, challenging, but now that waned to something a little softer. ‘Jesus.’

‘Doesn’t make sense, though, because I’ve looked these people up afterwards and they’re either alive, or they died from something else that isn’t part of the memory.’

‘Weird.’

‘So you…you do have one of these?’

Hannah smirked, nodded.

‘So?’ Zoë said. ‘Your turn.’

‘Kinda the same thing,’ she said. ‘Only mine’s a…a bit more fun. I get memories of people’s most prized possessions. Things that bring em joy, security, anything attributed to wealth. Sometimes it’s money, other times it’s an heirloom or something like that.’

Zoë wiped away a tear. ‘Wanna trade?’

‘Fuck no; you kiddin me?’

Zoë laughed.

Hannah stepped off the bed, careful not to touch Zoë’s Light. She forked over the pendant, put a hand on Zoë’s shoulder. ‘Maybe we got something more to talk about than just my ship, yeah?’

‘Yeah.’

‘How bout we go get those drinks then?’

‘God, that sounds incredible.’

‘Somethin other than margs, though. This is a whiskey kinda thing.’

‘Okay.’

‘Just, uh, leave that thing here.’ Hannah twitched her chin in the direction of the Light on the bed. ‘Nice as it is, I don’t wanna smell rain all night.’

=Λ=

May 10, 2400

The following morning Zoë, with help from Ensign Davis, ‘jump-started’ the Skylark, routing a short jolt from Atlantis’s reactor. With Refuge taking precedence, Zoë was only able to put in a maximum of two hours a day working on Hannah’s ship, but every step was a forward one. And when both could spare it, they met and talked about their new common ground.

With restored power the Skylark was a machine of wonder. Hannah dodged many of Zoë’s questions about the fine workings, and seemed to redirect Zoë away from certain systems so she wouldn’t discover some of the beyond-wonderful ornaments of the ship, but otherwise beamed at the opportunity to share.

‘Just recently had some state-of-the-art holo-emitters installed,’ she said one night. ‘Actually haven’t had the ability to test em out yet. Let’s give it a go, huh? Get a bite to eat somewhere fancy?’

As Hannah accessed the computer panel Zoë spotted the holo-emitters placed around the cockpit. Though not a tiny compartment by scout ship standards, she said of it, ‘Wait, this is your holodeck?’

‘It is now, I guess.’

How?

‘I didn’t really have time to look over the manual, but the lady who gave—sold it to me said it was pretty advanced. Let’s check it out. What do you like, dinner-wise?’

‘I’m not picky.’

God, you’re one of those. Alright. Kayloronian it is. Computer, retrieve holo-program, uh… I forget the number. Keywords: Kayloronian food.’

Program located.

‘Gel. Load that into the new holographic matrix and run it when you’re ready.’

One second passed. Around them the cockpit melted into the unmistakable low light of a restaurant setting. Outside the large open window space Zoë spied an expansive courtyard whose concentric cobblestones were seamed with deep green moss, and beyond, more winding avenues painted in an evening blue.

‘Happy evening, madams.’ A host gestured them toward a table in the back of the restaurant. ‘One of our finest tables awaits, if you would have it.’

Hannah stuck up a finger. ‘One sec, guy. Need to test something.’

She reached onto the plate of the nearest patron to seize a ghairett pastry, and despite his helpless protestations Hannah hurled it through the window of the restaurant. It sailed a good fifty meters before landing amidst the cobblestones and rolling an additional meter or two.

‘Madam,’ the host said, ‘I must protest this behav—’

‘Keep your pants on, garçon. Stay here, Zozo.’

‘Again with the Zozo.’

To Zoë’s utter amazement Hannah walked out of the restaurant, jogged to where the ghairett landed, picked it up, and jogged back. She gave its rye-dark exterior a few cursory blows, wiped it on her pants, and set it back on the befuddled patron’s plate. ‘Test concluded. My holosuite rules. Alright, garçon, take us away.’

‘Madam, my name is Thi—’

‘Yeah-huh, sure. Computer, reset program.’

‘Happy evening, madams. One of our finest tables awaits, if you would have it.’

Zoë stared out at the courtyard. ‘How the living fuck did you do that? We’re in the cockpit of a scout ship, and you just walked…what, a hundred meters away from me?’

‘I keep tellin ya, Zozo, the wonders never cease with me.’

Rolling her eyes for the hundredth time that day, Zoë wondered if now was finally the time to capitulate to tactical conversation and dash Hannah’s ever-so-apparent crush on her. For the time being she engaged in a resplendent, umami-rich Southern Kayloronian meal under candlelight, and spoke with Hannah at length about the great mysteries of the universe that awaited them both.


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3 Comments

  • Kathryn Harper Kathryn Harper says:

    This is just fantastic, from Hannah’s frustrations at the beginning to them coming together over their Lights, to the further intrigue brought forth by their learning of the other’s Light. The dialog is quite natural, and your descriptions are, as always, wonderfully evocative. Two and two colliding at warp speed to birth a new cosmic four, indeed!


  • Scott Ammora says:

    Do you know what drives me crazy about your writing? The endings. Not that they’re bad, but that the logs… you know… end. I just keep wanting more conversation. Another fine piece of log-writing!


  • Emilaina Acacia says:

    I laughed out loud at the “—and Hannah flicked up a digit for each stipulation—” part, great stuff. Very interesting to learn more about the Lights, and as always your dialogue flows well. Great log!




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