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When Aran entered the promenade a few minutes later, Hot Rod was sitting at a table with Av, who had a bewildered look on his face.
“What’s up?” He asked.
“Bloody hell if I know,” Av replied sardonically. “I just got a message from that git, Admiral Romero, telling me to report to the infirmary for a pre-mission check up. When I tells him I’m not in Starfleet, he tells me I bloody am now.” He gave Aran a deep, scathing look as Aran tried to suppress a grin. “Did you have something to do with this, you wanking pisser?”
“Why would I do something like that to you, Av?” Aran told him.
Av’s face turned a deep scarlet. “It was you who got me drafted!” he bellowed. “I’ll get you for this, you freakin‘ git!”
As Av rambled on spewing a lot of colorful drivel, several drinks were placed in front of them as Lieutenant Gomas strode in. Aran didn’t know what to think of him. It was almost as if Lieutenant Gomas was in awe of him, which to Aran was utterly ridiculous. Plus, not that he was jealous, Aran did notice that he paid pretty close attention to Danyelle and her obvious blushing did have some meaning to it. He frowned and grunted in aggravation. Okay, so maybe he was a little bit jealous.
Hot Rod seemed to notice something preoccupying his mind. There wasn’t a lot that he missed, especially when it came to both Aran and Danyelle.
“What’s wrong?” He asked as Aran downed his drink.
The strength of the drink seemed to catch Aran a bit off guard. He winced a bit and then opened his eyes a bit wider when he looked back at Hot Rod.
“What is this stuff?” He asked.
“Chappalan ale,” Hot Rod replied as he winced himself. “Potent.”
“I’ll say,” Aran agreed. “And to answer your question, nothing. Just a lot on my mind right now.” He shook his head to focus his thoughts. He sighed as he looked at the glass. “No more of this stuff today, Hot Rod, tomorrow is an important day.
Hot Rod nodded solemnly as Aran turned his attention back to Lieutenant Gomas, who had sauntered over to the bar. It was obvious he was waiting for someone as he refused a drink and fidgeted around a bit. The reason came in a few seconds later in the form of Danyelle. She was with another woman they all knew to be Ensign Dessie Drabek. It was easy to tell that Dessie was the younger sister of Wyn Drabek. One could almost surmise they were twins. Aran knew his main concern with her would be to keep Av away from her.
Lieutenant Gomas motioned for her to come over there but Danyelle shook her head and mouthed the words “later.” She turned her attention to a large oval table. She glanced over at Aran, who nodded and tapped both Hot Rod and Av to follow him.
As he rose from his seat, he turned back to Comet who was behind the bar. “Can you clear the bar for a bit?” He asked. “I’ll make sure you’re compensated.”
Comet grinned and waved him off. “For you, my friend, it’s not a problem.”
Aran grinned and turned back toward the table where the others had already seated themselves. As Comet’s loud voice boomed over the room for the other “miscreants” to clear out the bar, Danyelle’s distinctive growl filled the area around the table. Aran just realized he hadn’t told Danyelle about Av yet. It was one thing to let him have a ride home earlier, but he knew she wasn’t going to like him being along for the mission.
“What’s he doing here?” She asked, before Aran could say anything first.
“He’s in,” came the reply.
“He most certainly well isn’t!” She exclaimed back, rising from her seat. “If he goes, I’m not!”
“Sit down, Danyelle,” Aran replied as Av mumbled something about a bloody arse.
Danyelle then went livid. “First, you’re gone for two years and you come back and you get promoted over me! And now this! I won’t stand for it, I swear I….”
“Danyelle, please,” Aran said, interrupting her. “Av’s primary duty will be to assist Darkata.”
“I don’t care.”
Aran, now becoming a bit agitated, said, “Fine, if you feel that way, go and tell Admiral Romero. Tell him you don’t want to go because I was promoted over you and because of Av. It still won’t change anything.”
Danyelle didn’t say a word, she sat deeper in her seat and crossed her arms. Her face was deeply frowned and mutinous. Aran sighed a bit to himself with relief. He knew he had won this round but was unsure if Danyelle challenging him was over. He looked around the table as the last of Comet’s patrons left the bar and he locked the door.
“Alright,” Aran began. “Let’s get this done and over with.”
He began going over what Ramon had told him about the mission. He told them about the pendant that Princess Ashlynn wore around her neck and what the contents was inside of it. He then told them of Ganelon and what was known about him, (which was very little.) As he went on, Aran noticed the expression on Lieutenant Gomas’ face. It was like it was torn between either cheering him or outright disbelief. Aran was sure that Lieutenat Gomas was still upset about the revelation of Ganelon’s part in the abduction. He also noticed that Danyelle would blush every time she made eye contact with the Lieutenant. Aran knew they needed someone that was familiar with Krenox but wasn’t entirely sure if Lieutenant Gomas was the right individual. He also didn’t understand why he was so against the connection between Lieutenant Gomas and Danyelle.
“Are there any questions?” He asked as he finished up the mission briefing.
“Why are you a git?” Av asked him sarcastically.
Aran took a deep breath as he rolled his eyes at Av, who still wasn’t too happy with him.
“Alright,” he went on. “We’re leaving in eighteen hours. Don’t forget your pre-mission checks if you haven’t done so. We’re also traveling light, take only what you need.” He turned to Hot Rod. “I gave DB1E our inventory. Check on it and make sure everything is there and ready to go.” He then looked over to Dessie. “Dessie, you might as well check up with DB1E and make sure sick bay is all set.”
Both Hot Rod and Dessie nodded and exited the table. They both left the promenade and headed toward the docking bay. As Aran and Av went back to the bar to thank Comet, Danyelle and Lieutenant Gomas walked over to a far corner. From the corner of his eyes, Aran watched them. Though he couldn’t tell how their talk went, he thought he saw Danyelle look over at him a few times. He turned his back fully to them and thanked Comet and then walked out the promenade himself, leaving Av at the bar.
As he waited by the lift, he saw Danyelle and Lieutenant Gomas leave the Promenade at the same time. They both said goodbye to each other, with Lieutenant Gomas going the other way and Danyelle walking toward him. She arrived just as the lift doors opened and they both walked in. Neither of them said a word as the lift carried them both to their destinations.
Aran spent spent most of the day making sure everything was on schedule and ready to go. Hot Rod reported all the vehicle equipment that he had requested was already on board. Dessie likewise reported that the DB1E had sick bay ready to go. Aran knew that Ramon would authorize almost anything that Aran felt was needed. The mission was too important. He then managed to visit Starfleet Sentral’s infirmary and made sure the rest of his crew did the same. Another plus of this mission was only a skeleton crew was needed. Darkata could basically function the ship himself so a regular crew was not needed.
Aran then visited Darkata himself and was given the grand tour. He felt if anything, Darkata was pretty damn proud of himself. What was even better was that he was a treasure trove of information. He fondly recalled the “good ole days” and told stories of his parents. He also told a story of a certain pretentious Lieutenant that had a thing for his mother. When Aran asked who it was, Darkata just winked and told him that was a story for another day. When Aran showed him the picture that Admiral Mattingly had given him, if he could cry he would have. He told Aran that he remembered when the picture was taken and that it was the day his mother told his father that she would marry him.
Noticing that it was getting late, (he always tried to to keep his star-chart as normal as possible) Aran finally left Darkata and made his way back to the general quarters complex. Even as an inactive officer in Starfleet, he was still allotted his own private quarters and he was glad of it. It was nice to rest comfortably but it also allows Aran to keep any of us personal belongings in a safe place. He was sure that his quarters would be reassigned, but Hot Rod had told him that Ramon had made sure that it wasn’t. “It’s like he expected you to come back,“ Hot Rod had said at the time. Aran gave a chuckle at Ramon’s presumptions and Hot Rod’s surprise as the lift came to stop.
He stepped out into the corridor and slowly began to make his way to his room. He noticed Danyelle was standing by another door. He quickly remembered that by sheer coincidence, her quarters had been assigned near his. Though it was at a time, useful, Aran now saw it as a bit awkward, considering their past. Figuring it was better to see if she was okay to avoid any other problems between them, he headed over to make sure everything was alright. She turned around at his approach and her tear-streaked face blushed as she quickly entered her now opening door. She apparently had not expected to see anyone, let alone Aran, while she was standing there.
Aran took a deep breath and lightly tapped on the door but all he heard was a lot of derogatory metaphors, followed by muffled crying.
“Danyelle,” he said gently. “Open up and talk to me.”
“Go away,” was all she said.
“Come on, you’ve been so wound up and stressed lately, “ he replied. “It’s not going to hurt…”
Aran was stopped mid sentence as the door slid open with a furious Danyelle staring at him. Her tear-streaked face couldn’t hide the fury she felt.
“Do you not know the meaning of “go away?” She asked.
Aran shrugged his shoulders and turned around. As he walked back to his room, the heavy breathing of Danyelle vanished as he heard her door slide shut. He punched in the access code and his door slid open. He was glad that they kept his room for him the last few years. Not that he kept much personal items, it was just the thought of having a comfortable bed when he was here. He knew he would be back eventually, though not this soon.
He stretched and he yawned as he looked over at his bed and eyed it wearily. As he flopped down on it, he took a deep, relaxing breath. If anything, the beds were comfortable here. He wished he could take one with him as he was sure Darkata’s wouldn’t be as comfortable. He checked his wrist-com again and touched a small red button on the side. It beeped annoyingly, letting Aran know the alarm had been set.