<USS Banshee> "The Waterfall Effect"
- From: "Brad Ruder" <groundzero@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- To: ussbanshee@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: Tue, 28 Dec 2004 14:32:48 -0800
“The Waterfall Effect”
by Lt. Commander Joshua Asper
“You and Tel wouldn’t have to stay long, just long enough to make sure that this girl isn’t a total mental case,” Thomas Lark pushed Josh again as they rounded another corner of the corridor. “And, if she’s one of those people who took a nose dive out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, you can say we have to go back to Banshee for some reason.”
Josh smiled, remembering the little routines and systems that he and his fellow cadets made up at the academy for just these types of situations. “One, Telsia would never agree to do that. Two, that’s just plain mean. And, finally, you’ve got to learn to get yourself out of those bad situations.”
Lark protested, “Josh...”
“No, Tom, OK?” Josh stepped into the turbolift, “docking port.”
“What if she’s ugly?”
“What if she’s gorgeous?” Josh countered.
Lark shook his head, “I’m not lucky enough to get those types of people, you know? I always get the ones with a second nose, a third eye, or four sets of hands.” Lark stared up at the ceiling; no doubt he was attempting to come up with his own rescue procedure if things turned sour, that or he was thinking of someone else to double with him.
“For the record,” Josh intervened, “four hands is not that bad of a thing if you know what I mean. And whatever happened between you and Jenny? That poker night you walked her home, remember? I thought that you two would hit it off.”
“No,” Lark said, shifted his eyes to the floor, “we went on a couple of dates, but then she stopped returning my calls. I saw her in sickbay once and she made that type of conversation that was ‘pity talk’. So, it ended right then and there and I’ve been ‘on the prowl’ ever since.”
The turbolift stopped and the doors hissed open as the two walked towards the promenade. Rumors had been flying around that it was one of the nicest walks in the sector. Large windows looking out at the ships coming and going, enough variations of food to satisfy the Federation itself, but most of all the tranquil gardens that amassed themselves in the center of the station’s habitat ring.
“I’m tell you, Lark, you need to find someone on the ship.”
Josh stopped and looked at his younger companion, “Tom, meeting girls over subspace is probably the worst idea ever! You don’t know who you’re talking to - ”
“She sent me some pictures!”
“You don’t know if they’re really her! All I’m saying is that it’s a risky idea that hardly ever works. You should’ve taken the time to contact her over an actual communique rather than corresponding through messages,” Josh shook his head and proceeded down the hallway, “it would’ve saved you a lot of time and nervousness.”
Lark caught up, shaking his head, “I think you’re wrong.”
“Then why were you asking if Tel and I would go with you?”
“You’re afraid.” Josh smiled as the corridor opened up to the promenade. Shops and vendors lined the small aisle way for as far as Josh could see and obviously continued around the curvature of the station. There were millions of different smells that hit him all at once. Josh would admit that they induced a sort of childish euphoria. “Want to get something to eat?”
The ensign stared at him, “Are you kidding?”
Laughing, Josh put his arm around his friend’s shoulder. “This nervous stature doesn’t suit you, Tom. You need to just let go of the fact that it could be a total disaster with ravaging consequences that involve - ”
“I get it.”
“ - partial humiliation not to matter possible physical pain by trying to allude your ‘secret admire’. That in and of itself could transcend to something like - ”
“You’ve made your point.”
“ - stalking. Could you imagine if this crazy chick posted to our ship in your department or something and followed you wherever you went? That would be kind of creepy. You could have to get a restraining order - ”
“Josh, stop talking.”
“Come on, Lark,” Josh said as they moved into the throng of people shuffling down the thoroughfare. They didn’t have a destination that Josh knew of, but he was getting hungry and his rumbling stomach was a sure sign of it. “We’ll get you something to eat and you’ll be just fine for this romantic rendezvous.”
Lark went along with Josh, but remained steadfast in his desire to not eat. “Trust me on this one, OK, Josh? Food and nervousness have never gone together with me. It starts fine and then the next thing I know I can taste what I had for lunch and the people around me can see it. Not a good idea for Thomas Lark to eat before a blind date.”
“Suit yourself,” Josh said, moving into a Tarkalian marketplace. The fruits and vegetables were as large as he’d ever seen them in other markets. The owner, upon asking his secret, said something about advanced hydroponic formulas. It went over Josh’s head, but they looked good and tasted even better. After snagging some red and orange fruits, Josh moved back into the foray of people.
Lark had lingered behind, staring at the food and then moving after Josh. He looked like a lost puppy or an animal getting ready to go to slaughter. “Maybe I shouldn’t do this.”
“Stand her up then.”
“You’re not helping.”
“Either are you,” he took a huge bite out of the reddish fruit and the juice ran down his chin. Gently wiping it off with the cuff of his sleeve, Josh moved into a smaller corridor that walked into the beautiful illuminating garden.
“It’s the principle, Josh. What if she turns out to be like an ogre or something.”
“And if she turns out to be a blonde bombshell that wants nothing more than to please her man? Hmmm?” Josh polished off the fruit and tossed the core in a perfectly placed wastebasket just off the path.
Tom shook his head, “What if she’s a psycho killer?”
Josh stopped, pushing his hand into Tom’s chest. “OK, what if targs had compression phaser rifles? Klingons wouldn’t mess with them. What if? What if? It doesn’t do you any good to second guess this situation and, since it’s obvious I can’t change your mind or affect it in any way, just stop.”
“All right,” Lark said, looking almost taken aback.
“Go back to Banshee or find a holosuite and get rid of some of your stress. Hoverball, Velocity, a romantic program, whatever. This girl isn’t going to want to meet this Lark, she’s going to want to meet the one that she’s been talking to,” Josh practically shoved Lark back up the path from whence they had come. “Go, release.”
Lark stutter stepped and then looked at the tactical officer, “maybe you’re right.”
“I am, now go.”
He sighed in defeat and trudged away.
Josh smiled and proceeded with his own thoughts down the path that entwined between rushing waterfalls. Halfway through the gardens, he sat down and listening to the methodical and relaxing music that the water made when hitting the tranquil pools below. The lights had been dimmed and the water itself took on a glow all its own. A soft blue aura drifted around him and he breathed in the serene scent into his lung.
This place was beautiful - manufactured, but beautiful. It had been a long while since he had been able to sit down and bask in the comforts of his own thoughts. Mission after mission, required training session after session, dealing with his family night after night; he liked it, no one could get him wrong, but it was emotionally taxing.
He must have drifted to sleep because when the voice came he was unsure of where he was and the idea of time meant nothing to him. It had come once and he opened his eyes to the same dull glow that he’d just left. His eyes fell on a very attractive brunette that was leaning against the railing staring at him.
“Hello there,” Josh said, rubbing the remnants of sleep from his eyes.
“I couldn’t help but notice that you submitted to it.”
Josh smirked, “Submitted to what, may I ask?”
“It,” the young woman said as her hands gestured to everything around her, “It is amazingly alluring and then it’s amazingly intoxicating - ”
“It is amazing, isn’t it?” Josh laughed at the girl’s redundant use of the word ‘amazing’. He motioned to the bench and offered her a seat, “I’ve been extremely tired as of late and it was just a prime moment to close my eyes. I hadn’t meant to fall asleep.”
“You did, though,” she smiled sweetly as she crossed and sat down next to Josh. “It’s all right. Most of the benches along this path are occupied with sleeping people at some point or other throughout the day. People come here just for that reason on their lunch breaks or shore leave. The locals just leave them alone because they too can’t resist the affects.”
Nodding, Josh offered his hand, “Lieutenant Commander Joshua Asper.”
“Ada Grace,” the woman said, taking Josh’s hand in her own. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“You a resident of the station, Ada?”
“Yes,” the young woman smiled, “I run a shop up on the next promenade. Nothing fancy in the least, just used goods from here and there. It’s not the most glamorous living, like in Starfleet, but it gets me by and I can’t complain.”
“I’m sure you get to meet very interesting people.” Josh watched a pair walk by hand in hand. One was a Bolian and one was a species that he couldn’t remember from his xenobiology courses at the academy. He would have to brush up, “and I’m sure that is intriguing enough.”
Ada looked after the couple as well, and nodded, “For the most part, yes. Sometimes you watch people like that and wonder just why you haven’t found that special someone. So, when new ships come into dock you make the effort to track down a couple of them to get to know. I’ve got friends on ships all across the galaxy. Hear from them some times, lose contact with others, but in the end it is always the same: distance kills.”
“True, but it isn’t always like that. It just depends on how well you get to know that person. If it just an acquaintance thing then you have nothing to complain about, but if it’s a romantic link or something else like that, then you can be upset,” Josh looked at her and, for the first time, saw how she was looking at him. His choice of words, he was sure, hadn’t helped the fact.
She placed a hand on his arm, “would you like to get some dinner? I know a perfect place where we could sit and talk for a while.”
His head screamed at him. Red alert klaxons blared throughout his mind and tried to send him into immediate disagreement. Somehow, he turned them off and nodded with a growing smile, “I’d love to have dinner with you.”
Ada stood and grabbed his hand, hoisting him to his feet. “Excellent. Perhaps, by evening’s end, I’ll add you to my list of friends in the universe,” she stopped short and looked at him, “unless you’re seeing someone and then I’ve been out of line.”
Telsia lingered in his mind for a moment before Josh instinctively took her hand and shook his head, “No, I’m not seeing anyone.” Together they walked down the path letting the blue mist-like substance to consume their fleeting forms.
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