S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
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Feeling "Lo"

Posted on Tuesday March 10th, 2020 @ 17:48 hours by Lozen Nachtnebel

Mission: Safe Passage
Location: Starbase 32
Timeline: MD02, 0130 hours

Lo stepped out of the airlock amid the push of her fellow passengers, all eager to be out of the cramped quarters of the little transport. Some passengers hurried to greet waiting family; one balding man -- a bajoran -- lifted a small child, laughing, into the air while his wife looked on and smiled. Lozan smiled too, for a moment, but the feeling soured and sobered quickly. For that man and his family, Starbase 32 was home. She tried to remember the last place she felt like that. California, perhaps, on her father’s ancestral plot of land? But, without him there….

She looked away from the happy family.

No, she did not have any place she could call home, but that was the whole point of this little exercise, wasn’t it? Not to feel sorry for herself, but to get out and experience something new. If she could not see the galaxy while wearing a Starfleet uniform, then she would see it while paying her own way.

She left the docking area, following signs for the promenade. After nearly two weeks aboard the little transport, sleeping on the top bunk of a shared alcove, eating the limited rations from the communal replicator, she felt a powerful need for something hot and cooked in real grease.

Though the hour was late however, and few eateries were still open, mostly catering to Fleet coming off their shifts. She paused for a moment, weighing her hunger against the desire to avoid her old comrades-in-uniform. The latter won out. She threaded her way through the officers until she came to a small cafe which sported a neon sign that read “Open All Day; All Shifts.” A long counter dominated the back of the small space, on top of which stood a number of large and complicated-looking machines, like nothing Lo had ever seen. Behind the counter, a bored-looking young man sat on a tall stool, slumped over the counter. He flicked a finger across a PADD, reading.

She approached him and smiled, knowing that she looked more weary than happy. “Can I get a latte?”

“Earth or Klingon?” He did not look up from his reading material.

“Earth, thanks.”

He finally glanced at her and instantly his ears went red. “Oh, uh, sure.” He stood up. “You just get off a transport?”

“Uh-huh. From Sol.” She stifled a yawn. “Long flight. Can I get link access here?”

“Yeah, sure,” he nodded. His hair, slicked into a cow-lick over his forehead, bobbed with the gesture. “Anywhere on the station, it’s all Fleet subsidized.” He turned away to a replicator in the wall and pressed a button. Within moments, a stainless steel measuring cup full of beans sat in the device’s little alcove.

Lozan eyed it. “You actually do it all by hand?”

“Yep! Replicated stuff’s not the same. The boss started this because coffee’s made a real comeback the last few years. But only the good stuff. Some of the fancy places even import real beans. The Ferangi grow them now and ship them all over the quadrant.”

He emptied the cup of dark beans into the top of one of the machines, which began to whirr loudly. He slipped the cup under a spout and soon a steady stream of dark powdered coffee spilled into it, gradually dwindling to a trickle.

“Ferangi?”

He smiled at her, his ears still red. She decided she liked him. The blush and the goofy hair worked in his favor, relaxing her.

“They hollow out large asteroids and small moons, fill the inside with replicated earth and biomatter. They can grow anything they want, in any system they need. Keeps them up with supply and demand.”

He poured the freshly-ground coffee into the top of another machine. “Here. This tamps it into a cake and runs pressurized water through. Best cup on the station, guaranteed.”

Lo laughed. “Have you ever had anyone ask for their latinum back?”

“Well, no. Mostly we geet Fleet, though, or Fed’s traveling. So we take credits…” he looked suddenly worried.

“Oh, it’s fine!” she held her hand over the standard black rectangle on the counter and a beep accompanied the movement. “I’ve got a normal credit account. No worries.”

Blushing worse than ever now, the young man handed over the finished cup of coffee. The dark liquid steamed inside the white ceramic, its aroma nutty and compelling. “If you want milk, there’s some over there,” he mumbled.

“Thanks. I’m Lozen.” She held out her hand. He stared at it for a moment, then took it in his own, which was decidedly moist. Keeping her face carefully composed, she made a point of not immediately wiping her hand on her dress afterward.

“Err, Bradley.”

“Thanks, Bradley. Is there a hostel around here? A traveler’s hotel?”

Bradley nodded. “Yeah. They’ve configured the link to throw up some ads for people coming in the first time, but you gotta ignore those. Try Kate’s place. It’s called Starefarers. She’s been running it since forever. My dad’s friends with her, so tell her I sent you over and she’ll give you the family discount.”

He seemed proud of this. More the proud. He seemed… Lo gasped involuntarily, nearly spilling her hot coffee. A sudden rush of intense warmth had filled her, heavy and lustful. It took her a moment to disengage the emotion and remind herself of its source. Now, though, it was her turn to blush. One thing to know the effect you were having on someone, quite another to feel their response as your own.
“Right. Thanks, Bradly… thanks.”

She could feel little wisps of his disappointment as she turned away, but the connection was almost gone already. Probably the long journey and the lateness of the hour made the empathy worse; it had surprised her how strong the young man’s feelings came through. Her inner voice said “thanks, Mom” in a very sarcastic tone. Nothing like having a Betazoid brain to make life interesting.

After topping off her cup with cream -- and studiously avoiding looking in Bradley’s direction, she seated herself at the farthest table from the counter and pulled out her own PADD. The device connected to the station’s servers immediately, its screen lighting up with potentially-relevant information. Bradley had been right about the ads. She ignored these and made a reservation at Starfarers, being careful to leave a note about Bradley’s recommendation. Embarrassing or not, it made sense to save a few credits if she could. Then she split off and began to explore the station virtually, checking status updates and the like before starting to poke around the job-forums. She had some physical money, which you needed this far from Federation core worlds, but she could not live on her savings forever (nor did she wish to). Somewhere here there would be the chance she had been looking for, the chance to try her hand at something new.

OFF

Lozen Nachtnebel
Quartermaster

“There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.”
― George Bernard Shaw

 

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