(( Alora’s Quarters ))
:: PADD in hand, he rang the chime. It was possible, even likely, that she wouldn’t be around. It was shore leave, after all. He should’ve asked the computer for her whereabouts (if it would’ve given them; he wasn’t affiliated, after all, with Starfleet. Right now, anyway). But what if she was over on the station? Maybe he should have checked the Comm Quad first. Or he should’ve gone to the Ten Forward lounge. Or-- ::
::The door slid open and the science officer stood before him, her usual pleasant expression fixated upon her face. It changed into a brilliant smile as she realised who had come to visit her and she motioned for him to enter. Her motions included a slight limp. The culprit - one shoe missing from her besocked right foot. In fact, the hand she used to indicate that he should join her held the missing shoe, its stuck sticking out as if in defiance of the Captain - or maybe its owner.
DeVeau: Aron! Come on in!
:: She was there. Well, that was its own sort of terror, because now he couldn’t wonder about what to do next: “what to do next” was already here, and there was nothing to do but go inside. Which, of course, he did. ::
Kells: I’m sorry, if I’m interrupting, I can come back later.
:: Or not at all, he thought. Just give up the whole idea. ::
DeVeau: Oh please, you’re not interrupting anything except my getting dressed - and fortunately for you, I’m mostly there. Come, come! Cop a squat! It’s good to see you!
Kells: Oh, okay. Yes.
:: So he sat down. He didn’t really look at the PADD or at her, at least until he realized that the PADD was his conversation opener and the way out of the awkward situation he’d talked himself into. ::
Kells: I wanted to thank you for this. That map probably saved our lives down there.
DeVeau: Good. I’m glad.
::Alora plopped down on the couch next to him and fiddled with the hooks on her shoe so it opened wider, the tongue stretching out obscenely. She stuffed her foot within, tugged it up, then flattened the material down. Who was laughing now? Certainly not the shoe.::
DeVeau: I want to explore more. I thought maybe they were just alternate entrances to the service ducts and while it looks like a couple intersect, most of them are independent. Maybe they’re highways for the spiders.
::And that had been an interesting thing - the spiders. She’d wanted to see them and Alora had finally gotten her chance. Although she had been quite frightened, that fear was replaced with fascination now that she knew the cyborg arachnids weren’t going to eat her for dinner. The variety among them was astounding. A large majority seemed to be made entirely of metal, but a few seemed to retain some more biological elements. While she was free on shore leave, Alora hoped to return and get in contact with them again.::
Kells: So do I! So do I.
:: The first time he’d said it, his fervency was clear. The second, he tried to rein himself in a bit. You’re nervous, Aron; you’re emoting all over the place! Not that it was unusual for him to do so, but it wasn’t usually out of nerves. Still, this was Alora DeVeau, and his memories, her reactions, and even the records the faux-Kells had kept for a year suggested that she was someone who he could confide in. Yes, he would trust her. That was why he was here, wasn’t it? ::
DeVeau: So now that all this is over, for the most part, how are you doing? I didn’t expect to see you back on the station so soon - but I’m glad for it.
Kells: So am I. ::beat:: Actually, you may be seeing a lot more of me soon.
DeVeau: Oh, really?
::That was an answer that Alora hadn’t expected, but she couldn’t say she was displeased with the news.::
DeVeau: Why is that?
Kells: You remember Pleethion, I’m sure?
:: It would be hard to forget. Aron, serving as a civilian contractor, had worked with a Starfleet team on the planet’s surface prior to an enormous mud dome’s outpouring, which, if it happened, would have threatened the capital city. However, the mission itself was more notable because the Garuda’s former XO, Harrison Ross, had renounced his commission, kidnapped Captain Reynolds, and escaped in a shuttlecraft. ::
DeVeau: Well, yeah.
::It hadn’t been that long ago, and frankly, all of Alora’s missions thus far had been pretty darn memorable.::
Kells: I figured after that experience that Starfleet wasn’t the place for me anymore. But -- now? I dunno. I had second thoughts during every encounter with officers during this crisis.
DeVeau: What about your new ship?
::It had been a large purchase, certainly, and while she would make sure her investment wasn’t for naught, she was curious as to what the man might have in mind.::
Kells: I’m not really sure what to do. Part of me thinks that I’m just lonely running my own ship, and another part thinks it would be a terrible idea to reactivate my commission with this crew. I mean, they suffered because of a man they thought was me. I don’t blame some of them for reacting badly to my return.
::Alora pursed her lips and bowed her head in thought for a moment. Yes, she could understand why some people might not take kindly to Aron Kells, but she hoped they also understood that the current Aron Kells was not the same as the former. Not exactly.::
DeVeau: Well, I’m not going to say it’ll be easy if you do return to Starfleet, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who aren’t going to hold what happened against you. Frankly, I have no ill feelings for either of you and I bet there are others who don’t either. As for those who do, they need to be adults about it and get over themselves. It might mean you have to prove yourself to them, but don’t be afraid to remind them that you aren’t the same person...sort of.
::She smiled then and leaned forward.::
DeVeau: Besides, you don’t want anything to be _too_ easy now do you? Where’s the challenge in that?
Kells: Intellectual challenges! Those are the ones I want.
:: And would they be more plentiful in Starfleet? Certainly his adventures on DSX as part of the quarantine, and earlier on Pleethion, had skewed objectively that way. And while Alora was right -- he had spent a lot on Ship, and he didn’t want to just give it away -- it was also true that he hadn’t lost the body memory or the trained responses of the Starfleet palette of sensors and equipment, and much of that just wasn’t available to him away from a starship or starbase. Was it enough? ::
Kells: I can’t tell you I haven’t thought about how hard it would be to serve with people who hold grudges against me -- the other me -- but it’s not that, not mostly. I can and would prove myself!
DeVeau: I know you can.
::Alora perched herself upon the edge of her couch and studied Aron for a moment before pressing a little further.::
Lt. Alora DeVeau
Chief of ScienceUSS Garuda