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Log of the Month for July, 2011

Ice and Platinum
Posted on July 13th, 2011 by T'Kirr and Ian Blackthorne

“Ice and Platinum”
T’Kirr and Ian Blackthorne

This was the sort of luxury resort that was not listed in travel brochures; its existence was only ever advertised by word-of-mouth among the highest of social circles, and it wasn’t even visible to the naked eye. Not that most people would generally be in a position to see it, even if it could be seen. This resort floated in the emerald sky of a ringed gas giant, and most vacationers weren’t in the habit of flying into gas giants in the first place. In a concession to safety, there were warning buoys placed in all directions advertising the presence of an invisible structure that could easily be seen on any number of sensor configurations, but the buoys themselves were far enough away to not mar the magnificent vistas that attracted the exclusive clientele. On sensors, the resort looked like a giant black sphere with spokes connecting to smaller satellite spheres, all hanging from enormous balloons perched in the sky above. Each section boasted an independent cloaking field, so that when looking out the one-way windows, no other parts of the complex would block the view. Truly, no expense was spared in the construction of this resort.

The center sphere was the concourse of the miniature city, having shops, restaurants, salons, an airponics garden, and a swimming pool with transparent walls along the sphere’s base. In fact, most of the internal structures and even the furniture was designed to be transparent, to truly convey the sense of having a meal while sitting in the sky. The concourse’s star attraction was the grav-skating track and rinks. One could use the winding tracks that snaked throughout as a secondary means of transportation—catch lunch at the Nebula’s Fount, hop onto the connecting track, and skate directly to one of the shops without touching a footpath. The skates were designed to stick to and glide effortlessly along the crystal surfaces yet were comfortable enough to walk in when entering a point of interest.

The ramps to the upper and lower rinks were never far away. Beginners and those wishing to relax could glide around on the upper level while the more advanced users who had stayed a few days at the resort could zip around the walls and ceilings in the anti-gravity level below.

T’Kirr wasn’t usually much one for shopping, but she had enjoyed perusing a curio shop and had found a small plasma globe with a slowly churning cloud inside. The clerk said it was called a Scarlet Hazer. She was fascinated by it, having never seen one before, and was told it was quite rare and expensive. At this, T’Kirr put the globe down and thanked the clerk for her assistance. The clerk, having clearly not expected this response, caught T’Kirr by the arm and pointed to the sapphire pendant around her neck, telling her it would be no trouble at all – for a guest of the family. T’Kirr told the clerk that she really shouldn’t, but the clerk then went to the display, picked up the globe and placed it in T’Kirr’s hands, insisting that it would not only be no trouble, but it would be an honor. At that, T’Kirr could no longer refuse.

After exiting the shop, T’Kirr looked both ways, stepped onto the track and began to skate forward, building momentum before settling into a glide towards the upper level ramp. Ice skating was popular on Earth, but she was thankful this planet had developed a type more suited to a warmer climate. There was so much to see, and she and Ian had split up a few minutes before, agreeing to meet in the upper rink.

At the top of the ramp, T’Kirr began scanning the crowd of skaters for Ian, whom she found skating lazily toward her, around the outside of the rink. She watched him approach, her face alight with happiness to see him. “I’ve acquired something from a gift shop.”

Ian stopped with a skid in front of her, angling the blades of his skates perpendicular to his forward motion. He didn’t notice her peering at him with particular interest, as if judging how he would take the information. Taking her hand, he answered, “Oh? Well, it’s either very small or you sent it ahead to our suite, since you’re not carrying anything.”

T’Kirr spread her arms as she began to glide slowly into the flow of skaters with Ian, showing she was carrying nothing. “I didn’t wish to drop it.”

“It must be quite nice, then.” Figuring that it also may have been expensive to warrant such care, he added, “Tell me, have you noticed anything odd in the way you’ve been treated here?”

Raising an eyebrow, T’Kirr took his question to be in jest. She responded in kind, leaning in conspiratorially and fingering the pendant around her neck. “As if we were royalty?”

Ian smirked. “Yes. There’s customer service, but this goes above and beyond.” He gestured to the pin on his jacket’s lapel, a gleaming sapphire that matched her pendant. “They see the pin, it’s the red carpet treatment. Roxanne wasn’t kidding.”

T’Kirr moved swiftly to the side as a young woman stumbled past her, laughing as she almost fell before the young man she was with drew close enough to help steady her. T’Kirr returned to Ian’s side as they both watched after the couple briefly. “Starfleet could learn something. Certainly we’ve saved the quadrant at least a few times.”

“Indeed. Getting to do what we do is reward enough, though. Few get the chance to see the galaxy from the bridge of a Sovereign-class starship, and make as much of a difference in the process.” T’Kirr conceded to this, bowing her head in agreement.

The two skated in companionable silence for a while, enjoying the unobtrusive but steady music, the sounds of conversation and laughter, but most of all the bizarre views in all directions through the transparent surfaces. After a while, Ian sensed a vibe from T’Kirr that made him turn in surprise. It was uncommon, but in the past, the feeling had preceded actions which for her were downright mischievous. She glanced at him, her eyes unable to conceal a tiny glint of amusement in her otherwise serious expression.

“We are good at what we do, but we can always improve.”

With difficulty reconciling her words with what he sensed, Ian slowly answered, “And how would you suggest we do that?”

There was a faint shrug of T’Kirr’s shoulder as she looked out across the rink at the people skating the other way, and Ian had the feeling she was attempting to hide her face from him. “Neither of us have had much flight time lately. Certain skills related to piloting, for instance, may be revisited.”

“Such as?” Her obviously circuitous approach had him curious to her real meaning.

T’Kirr turned back and locked eyes with him for a moment. “Tailing.” There was a beat, and then she ducked away and was off in a blur of motion, skating deftly around a startled man and his son.

Ian chucked loudly for a moment, then pushed off against the crystalline surface, pumping his legs hard to gain speed. Sticking to the outside of the rink to avoid the milling masses, he was able to at least keep her in sight, but damn, she was fast. Ian realized he could never catch her in a straight up speed contest, so when he was sure T’Kirr wasn’t looking, he ducked into the crowd. Ian kept in a low stance, hoping to stay out of sight, and with a little concentration, he was able to empathically approximate the general direction of his bondmate.

A couple of minutes later, T’Kirr realized that he no longer appeared to be chasing her, but sensed that he was up to something, so she kept skating. In fact, he appeared to be taunting her over their bond, not with any words, but with a projected sense of a hunter stalking its prey. T’Kirr instinctively looked over her shoulder and still found that there was no Ian to be seen, but he felt closer than ever. She reversed direction, hoping to foil him.

Ian had been staying close inside the crowd, using the smaller inner path around the elliptical rink to keep up despite the throngs of skaters in his way. When T’Kirr changed direction, he took the opportunity to quietly drop in behind her as she briefly slowed. She told him that he needed practice tailing, and he was now right on her tail – and what a nice tail it was, he thought. Check your six, Sehlat, he thought at her with a smirk.

The sudden awareness of Ian’s presence behind her alarmed T’Kirr, and when she promptly turned, she lost her footing and slipped. Fortunately, Ian was prepared and caught her before she could hit the crystalline surface. They slowed to a gentle glide, and other skaters began to thread their way around them. T’Kirr’s glance up at him was both frustrated at losing and thankful for being spared the floor. When she attempted to stand, however, she found he really wasn’t being very helpful after all. She stopped struggling and perked an eyebrow at him.

“You aren’t going to help me up?”

“You might try to get away again, and besides, I think my victory should win me something.”

T’Kirr’s other eyebrow went up, and she tightened her hold around his neck as Ian stood, lifting her in his arms. “And what do you plan to do with this ‘something’?”

Ian’s response was fully telepathic, his eyes flashing suggestively as he skated toward the exit carrying his prize.

They were alone in the sky. If the resort’s concourse was open space and unabashed affluence, Ian and T’Kirr’s suite was a cozy, more intimate version. The rooms managed to present the unhindered vista and solitude of a private island while providing the excessive comforts of a palace. Below the transparent floor, the sky gradually darkened, extending out of sight into increasingly dense bands of colossal storm clouds that appeared to be racing on tracks, expressing their rage with flashes of lightning. Above, was a much calmer expanse of bright emerald green, punctuated by slashing brushstrokes of the planet’s rings, painted white by the light of the parent star.

The suite itself was luxurious in a unique way. While the space was very spartan to better show off the view, it wasn’t without comfort. There was no couch, but instead a large circular indentation in the floor with bubble-like cushions that were surprisingly soft. As Ian carried T’Kirr into the room, they could see a low platform in the indentation’s center that wasn’t there earlier. It was piled high with what looked to be a rich assortment of fruits, vegetables, meats, and desserts.

“It appears we’ve been visited by room service,” T’Kirr noted from Ian’s arms, stating the obvious.

“Well, when they asked me how decadent of a feast I’d like to order, I selected ‘Roman.’ I think there was actually a level higher, but at least I stopped short of the oil massage.” Ian tightened his grip on T’Kirr when she made to get down, and when she looked up at him in confusion, he merely grinned and carried her right down into the cushions. He set her down gently next to him, her legs over his lap, and proceeded to remove her skates before tending to his own.

T’Kirr looked at Ian in amusement, quite pleased with his act of service, before her attention was drawn to the sight and smell of the food. She had gotten used to the scent of cooked meats. While it wasn’t appetizing to her, it at least didn’t bother her anymore. Ian, on the other hand, was putting forth an admirable effort to disguise his lust for the many nearby varieties of bacon by focusing on her. There were little bowls of a dozen kinds of beans and nuts, a larger bowl of leafy greens accompanied by a sample tray of dressings and sauces. She only recognized half the varieties of fruit and vegetables, all of them picked in their prime. “I’ve always found it fascinating how one can not realize they are hungry until it’s right in front of them.”

“Doubly true in our line of work. But, I would be remiss in my husbandly duties were I to allow my wife to go hungry.” Ian selected a large olive from the bountiful table and held it up to her mouth.

She again appeared amused. “Or without entertainment, it seems,” she added before delicately picking the olive from his fingers with her teeth and tongue.

With a flourish, he picked up another olive and offered it to her in the same manner. “I had them bring tea for you. Would you like some?”

T’Kirr appeared ready to accept the offer but hesitated. “What else do we have?”

“There’s water, and…” Ian hesitated; he knew his wife’s tastes well, but he sensed something different about her in this moment. “…there’s also a full bar along with several varieties of wine.”

Her eyes twinkled. “I think the bar would suit my… ‘mood’ better right now.”

With satisfaction from being able to successfully read her over their strengthening bond, Ian crossed to the ample bar and selected a bottle from the wine rack. He returned with two crystal glasses of dark red wine and offered one to her. “Imagine my surprise at finding a Betazoid twenty year old Szax! Here, a taste of my home.”

T’Kirr raised an approving eyebrow and received her glass. She made to take a sip and hesitated, raising it to Ian’s instead. “To all our years of adventure, and even more to come.”

“Cheers,” he answered with a clink. It had been a long time since he’d had a Szax, and although it was his favorite wine, Ian waited to see how she liked it before he drank. Eyes locked on her face, he settled in beside her on the cushions.

There was no change in expression, but it was good enough to sip at a second time. “Too sweet for my taste, but then most wines are. It is good, though.”

From her, that was high praise. With a smile, he took a drink and savored the wine, which to Ian’s tongue wasn’t sweet at all, but rather dry and a bit peppery. “Glad you like it, it’s among the best Betazed has to offer. Well, at least among wines.”

“It ages well.” She gestured towards him uncharacteristically with her glass. “As do certain significant individuals from the same planet.” She almost winked at him.

“Bloody hell, I think I was just called old!” Ian laughed uproariously, unconsciously reminiscent of his father. “At least I’m the youngest in this marriage, you cradle-robber!”

The comment was received with another rise of an eyebrow. “It was actually meant as a compliment.” T’Kirr sipped at her wine. “Although I’ve never heard the term ‘cradle-robber’, I do find it interesting you would imply you’re closer to the age of a babe.”

“I took it as the compliment you intended, don’t worry. Besides, who’d want to be that young again anyway? So many things improve with age and experience.”

Her eyes sparkled. “Indeed.” T’Kirr turned to the array of dishes, and the couple nibbled at the selection at a leisurely pace into the evening while chatting about anything and everything, which was a refreshing change as they usually could only concentrate on the current mission and how to avoid death and destruction. After the conversation slowed some time later, T’Kirr rose from the cushions.

“I have something for you,” T’Kirr told Ian, her tone on the eager side, for a Vulcan.

This time, it was Ian’s eyebrow that arched with curiosity as he followed her movements up and across the floor towards the bedroom. “Oh, do you now?”

Not much for words, T’Kirr left his query unanswered, ducking behind the cloaked wall. She unzipped her pack and reached through her neatly packed things, finding the small case immediately. She clasped her hands behind her back as she returned to the living area, the position unusual in this case as she didn’t appear to be bringing him anything.

Deception, even presented in a playful manner, was rather rare to see from her, so Ian was quite intrigued. He craned his neck in an exaggerated fashion to attempt to see behind her. “And what are you hiding back there, hmm?”

T’Kirr settled back down next to Ian, thinking on just the right way to answer him. “Something that should not have been hidden for so long, and will never be from this day forward.” She folded her legs in front of her and faced him properly, grasping the small, velvet black case in one hand. Her gaze was penetrating. “It hasn’t been something important to us in the past as our bond is proof enough.” She blinked in consideration. “However, there are some Human traditions I find quite… useful, more so than they first appear.”

The Vulcan turned her hand over and opened the jewelry case, revealing the gleaming platinum ring inside. Instead of a shiny polished band, the entire face of the ring was textured with a starfield of tiny diamonds, giving it an encrusted look that sparkled from all angles. Within its very heart lay a tiny Vulcan emerald. T’Kirr held out her left hand, palm down, presenting the ring she already wore. “We’ve already said our vows, become bond mates for life. As I’ve already mentioned, you age well,” she teased, earning her an amused smile, “and while this tradition will aid those familiar with it in recognizing that you are bonded, I hope it will serve to be a physical reminder to you of the bond we share, and that I’ll always be in the center of your katra.”

T’Kirr took his left hand in both of hers and slid the ring on Ian’s finger. His eyes dropped for a few moments to admire the glittering symbol of their bond, then returned to lock with hers. Outwardly it would have appeared that Ian had been stunned speechless, but even in the short time since her last spoken word, a torrent of emotion had poured forth from his mind to hers. He leaned in and gently kissed her, touching her cheek with the hand bearing the scintillating gift, while his thoughts continued to tell her exactly what this meant to him in ways that no speech could describe. Still, the act demanded words, even for a pair of telepaths, and when their lips parted, Ian’s eyes again found T’Kirr’s.

“I’ll wear it with pride. I love it, and I love you. Thank you.” Ian kissed his wife once more, hand still lingering on her cheek, the ring slashing across his finger in a bold shining arc, like the planet’s rings in the emerald sky above. As night fell, the lightning from the storms below began to throw muted flashes around the room, briefly adding their fleeting brilliance to the light of the few candles the couple had chosen to illuminate their honeymoon suite.

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  • Atlantis Patch Douglas McKnight says:

    Very nice. Hardly a unique observation, I know, but I’ve always figured that’s one of the real strengths of Scifi as a storytelling medium. If you can picture a setting, you can find some opportunity to summon it into existence on the page…screen, whatever. And it’s always refreshing to see something new, something a little out there in ways that Star Trek proper doesn’t get too many chances to explore. So thanks for the glimpse. As soon as my own imagination can provide, I look forward to trying to return the favor!

  • Atlantis Patch Ian Blackthorne says:

    Definitely a good point about Scifi. Thanks for the high praise!

  • Atlantis Patch T'Kirr says:

    I appreciate you taking the time to review! As always, I look forward to what you find interesting to write about next. =)

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