S.S. Fawkes - CF-142AC
Previous Next

Conventional Wisdom

Posted on Thursday March 4th, 2021 @ 11:00 hours by Kari Pahlmihr & Alexandria Farron & Lozen Nachtnebel

Mission: Safe Passage
Location: Sci-Fi Convention, Convention Halls, Betazed
Timeline: While docked at Betazed
2738 words - 5.5 OF Standard Post Measure

The convention hall was bustling already with activity. There was a steady stream of visitors milling around. Though nothing as grandiose as some of the Starfleet sponsored get-togethers for visionaries in their particular fields. Kari adjusted the top of her dress a bit, it wasn't quite as well-fitting or as comfortable as she had hoped, but it had been a small price to pay for seeing the glee on Alexandria's face when she stepped out of the docking port in the orbital station. She very much felt like a princess, a fictional one at that, everything was over the top. Her hair-do, her make up, and especially all of the ruffles and tule around her lower body.

Lozen walked across the main convention hall, the uniform of her costume stiffer than the one she'd worn in real life -- oddly that made it feel more authentic. She recognized a few others who were dressed as characters from The Last Voyager even a few who were dressed as Captain Carter like her, but mostly it seemed that her old favorites were eclipsed by the newer fandoms. A couple she could spot, but for the most part, the crowd was a noisy sea of color to her. A few years and it all passed me by! she thought, making a small grimace.

Across the great hallway, she spotted Kari and waved, grinning at the other woman's ruffled dress. "Nice look," she said. "Authentic 'do you've got there," she stared pointedly at Kari's elaborate hair.

"Trying to commit to my character," Kari said, having poured over quite a few detailed pictures and tutorials of the princess' particular hair style. There was apparently a very large portion of the fandom dedicated to the subject, "Have you seen Alexandria anywhere? I kind of lost her when we entered the main hall." She tugged on her corset again, she'd just have to ignore it somehow.

Alexandria wasn't far, but the crowed of people had hidden her from view. Especially the small crowd forming around her. Though dressed to impress, the navigator was not in her element, and it was clear to anyone who knew her that she was barely holding it together. Alexandria wasn't good with crowds. She didn't like people touching her, crowding her, and breathing on her. Her childhood had made her accustomed to an isolated existence, and as an adult she preferred to continue the trend. The Fawkes was nice in that she only had to deal with a handful of people, and in Starfleet's Aerospace Corps she'd had to deal with even fewer.

It wasn't that she didn't like the attention... in her own way she craved it, just like anyone else. But it had to be on her terms. With e-sports competitions she could hide behind her computer screen, and during the Olympics it had been easy to ignore spectators, who had to keep their distance. Conventions were something completely different. Having a half-dozen people in her face at any given time, asking her to pose for holos or old fashioned photos, or acting like close friends because they'd both played the same game was not the kind of attention she'd been looking for. Ironically, in her current predicament her suit of fantasy armor did little to make her feel safe.

Alexandria couldn't help that she looked awesome. Well, of course she could have toned down her presentation, but she really wanted to win the cosplay competition. Her suit of fantasy space armor was well fitted, showed some feminine curves and looked much more durable than it actually was. It was black with silver accents, with a light purple cape. She'd dyed her hair in ombre shades of lilac and grey that matched her outfit perfectly. And of course there was the pulsar sword, sheathed in a translucent scabbard on her back that showed the glow emanating from the blade sheathed within. Many at the convention had cosplays that were more popular, glamorous or clever, but few, if any, were as technical and complex.

Spying her friends through a momentary gap in the crowd, Alexandria's expression perfectly conveyed her mounting distress. Plz help me! Meanwhile, the visiting crowd seemed oblivious, and the local telepaths amused by her novel unease.

Lozen felt a sudden prickle at the edge of her attention, a strange alarm-bell that snapped her head around so fast it left her with a mild ache. Alex! She could not explain where the alarm came from, only that it overpowered her entirely. Fear for her friend. Or maybe her friend's fear. But then she actually caught sight of the Navigator and everything else left her mind. She reached out and grabbed Kari's arm, pulling the other woman around so they could both stare at the vision anxiously waving at them from across the hall.

"Wow," Lo breathed as a grin spread across her face. Then, "damnnn".

Suddenly Kari felt a tug at her arm and couldn't help but follow Lozen through the crowd that seemed to get thicker in the direction they were headed. Then she realised who was in the eye of that particular hurricane, "Alex, we thought we'd lost you," She pulled the most popular Star Crusader of the convention closer to her, "I bet it feels better now that you have your princess by your side." she gave a wink and a smile before turning to usher some of the people around them out of the way to let them pass.

They were able to clear the thickest crowd and got a slightly more quiet place, though the fact that the Star Crusader was now reunited with the princess still drew some attention, "So where do you want to go first?"

"I feel underdressed next to you two," Lo said, but her voice held nothing but good humor. It occurred to her that she could not remember the last time she'd done something like this -- purely for fun -- with friends! She glanced at the thronging crowd. "I saw some panels on the brochure that looked fun. Maybe one of them? Or we could grab a bite. We have some time before the costume contest, don't we?"

Alexandria felt a bit more at ease now that she had her friends there to shield her from the other attendees. Of course the three of them attracted more attention, but the pace at which they moved made it that much more difficult for admirers to corner them. Lo seemed completely at ease with her surroundings. How she could stand to mingle so freely among so many strange, unfamiliar people, Alexandria would never understand. Many, if not most looked like deviants. Especially that... thing, lurking in the corner. Who would even...?

Then it stepped forward into the light.

"Oh !@#$" Alexandria loudly uttered a choice expletive as her nemesis moved into view. Or rather, slithered. Someone had actually decided to cosplay the Grand Slime Xorplu. Or persons, by the size of it. And of course no worthy Xorplu cosplayer would be without a horde of robot minions. They too stepped forward, brandishing a variety of weaponry that looked real enough to look menacing. In the team-cosplay category, it looked like they'd just met some of the competition. Serious competition.

"Get the princess! Kill the others." The Xorplu cosplayer(s) bellowed, as the giant space slug slithered forward, with a clear mat trailing behind that actually looked like a trail of slime.

Star Crusader Alexandria reflexively pulled Princess Kari closer, and with her other arm reached over her shoulder to draw the Pulsar Sword in a clearly practiced motion. She would've been loathe to admit just how practiced. She'd even lined the inside of the scabbard so that the blade sang as she drew it. Seeing the glowing sword actually gave some of the robot minion cosplayers a moment's pause as they likely considered their life choices that had brought them to this point in time.

"We need an escape route, Commander! Only creeps cosplay the bad guys!" Alexandria called out to Lo as the holo recorders started to flash.

For half a moment, Lo's instincts squabbled between actual danger, kick the nearest enemy! and, The man inside that robot costume looks about fifty, before settling on, Oh my gawd, I'm Commander Carter! That last thought brought her inner adolescent into a nearly catatonic fit of glee.

All around them, convention-goers and reporters were gathering at a respectful distance from the show, laughing, taking holos, entranced by the display. And no wonder, between them, Alex and the Grand Slime cosplyer looked the spitting image of the reference holos Lo had looked at when designing the sword. She reached for her hip where her replica Lazer from the Last Voyager series lay ready in its custom faux leather holster. Unbidden, lines from the show popped into her mind, and she felt the back of her neck prickle with goosebumps as she stepped up to play the part of her childhood hero.

She raised the Lazer and pointed it at the oncoming robot minions. "You'll find us more than the peaceful explorers you bargained for, Xorplu!" Then, to her companions: "Star Crusader, there's a hatch that way (she pointed to the doorway leading to a cafeteria), we can find cover there!"

Kari was not normally damsel in distress material, "You keep your slimy hands off me, Zorpoo!" She never played the game, she never really thought about having to play out the role other than to look the part and be here with Alexandria. She liked dressing up in some extravagant dress, and spending quite a bit more time on her hair that was healthy, but she was terrible at acting and it showed. The delivery of her lame line was wooden, and the fact that she mispronounced the big bad's name didn't help, "I'll never love you!" She had no idea why the Grand Slime would want to abduct her character, but knowing the kind of storyline that was usually central in these early 20 something century games it was as good a guess as any.

Alexandria almost winced at Princess Kari's improvised retort. It was... not good. Anyone who played Star Crusader at least a third of the way through knew that Xorplu kidnapping the princess had never been about love. It had been about extortion... getting her father, the king, to lay off his smuggling fleet. But clearly there were more pressing concerns than Kari's character authenticity. The robot minion cosplayers attempted to follow them out of that area of the convention hall, but the Grand Slime Xorplu was slow, large, and had difficulty navigating the crowd. Plus the doorway Lo had mentioned was simply too small. Eventually the robots gave up. In the game they were forced to remain near their slimy overlord in order to receive instructions, and it appeared that their cosplayers operated no differently.

Part of Alexandria felt ashamed at fleeing. It made her look weak and afraid in the eyes of the fans, but she was more afraid that creeps like that would give Kari the wrong impression and make her not want to do something like this again. Plus, well... the princess dress variant Kari wore was only ever seen if the Star Crusader had reached the highest level of favor with her--a male Star Crusader, anyway. Reaching that point meant always putting the princess first. which of course closed limited one's options in the game. If those Xorplu cosplayer creeps had somehow gotten some poor woman to cosplay the captive princess version with them, of course Alex would have been more aggressive in order to rescue her. But today that wasn't the case, the princess was already standing right there next to her.

"Whew. We lost them." Alexandria said with a relieved sigh. She realized she was still holding Kari's hand, but didn't let go. Instead, she made a show of sheathing the sword... over her shoulder. How she managed to do it, on the first try, without looking, with a shoulder that been dislocated only a few days earlier defied any explanation besides pure obsession. But it sure looked cool.

"Those people give cosplay a bad name, threatening us like that." Alexandria continued as she saw the sign for the cafeteria, which they had nearly reached. She turned to Lo. "I'm not really that hungry yet. Plus I figured that you would want to meet the Commander, I heard people saying she was here. One of them anyway." Several different actors had portrayed Commander Carter over the years, in the various series and spin-offs.

Kari looked over at Alexandria with a bit of a smile. It was nice to see her a bit more confident. She was in her element there. She wondered if this is what she was like behind the controls of the ship. Kari had never seen the Navigator in that environment, "I'm not so hungry either." She pulled at the corset again, she didn't think there'd be much room for anything anyway.

"Wait--" Lo held up her hand, "--she's here? The Carter?" She found herself looking around as if Commander Carter would appear beside them. This, alas, did not take place. "Is it Domanique Jahan? She's always been so active in the fan community... I'll have to look at the schedule." As she scrolled through her PADD for the event guide, Lo couldn't help but notice the hand-holding going on next to her. It made her happy, seeing her friends like that. She didn't know either of them that well, yet, but already she felt the sort of kinship that had eluded her since the end of the USS Alcatraz.

"Think we'll have another run-in with those cosplayers?" she shrugged back toward where they came from. "Seems kinda fun, actually. Though..." she winked at Kari, "I think you might need to practice the line delivery."

"Hey, I was hired to move boxes around a cargo bay," Kari said defensively, "I don't know the first thing about theatre." her head hung a bit, she hoped it wasn't so obvious that Alex would be disappointed in her, "next time I'll just say nothing. Maybe give a girly scream."

Lo laughed, but held up her hands as to ward off Kari's disappointment. "Hey, just kidding. You played the part to a tee. This is all about having fun, ultimately, right?" She glanced at Alex and found herself second-guessing her own statement. The enigmatic navigator's reasons for delving into any subject were somewhat a mystery to Lo.

"She's not in the schedule, must have been a last-minute addition," Alexandria said, not appearing to notice the criticism of Kari's earlier performance. She was too busy looking around for the creep cosplayers. "My bet is it's the young one, in the flashback episodes... I forget her name." That was telling, coming from a person who had a near-photographic memory. The actress who played the young not-yet-Commander Carter in the flashback episodes was generally regarded as the least favorite of the bunch. Not because she was a bad actress, but because she made so few appearances on-screen, only engaged sporadically with the fan community, and she portrayed a less-than-flattering version of the beloved character, one who was inexperienced, arrogant and foolhardy. Alexandria found the latter amusing, as the same fans who complained about the need for more character development also complained when they saw the undeveloped characters... as if flashbacks were nothing but a cop-out. Which wasn't entirely wrong, but it was something, at least.

"Alright, let's try and find her then," Kari smiled again, hoping that getting involved in some of the convention's organised activities would take everyone's mind of the encounter with the cosplay villains, "Wasn't there also a contest you wanted to sign up for?" She then asked Alex, surely focusing on that would spur things along.

"I already signed us up for it." Alexandria said. In fact, she'd signed them up that same night Kari had agreed to go... and sleep over. She'd filled out the electronic form while Kari went to go get her toothbrush. Once their tickets had been scanned they'd been officially entered into the contest. "We have ninety-two minutes until it starts." She added, again, with a degree of precision that may have hinted at obsession.


Previous Next