A date by any other name
Mission: When the Sinful strike back
Now that the matter of the Thinking Engine had been laid to rest - to the satisfaction of the treaty and relief of all parties involved - Hel Samedi found herself alone, with time to burn, and a certain science officer on the mind. She'd meant what she'd told Valeria the other day, that she found her fascinating, and right now she was trying to decide how to act on it - because not to didn't even enter her mind. She had always been one to believe that it was better to regret the things you did, than the things you didn't.
As such she tapped her comm badge. "Samedi to Mordin. Got a moment?"
Valeria was actually in her quarters, a rare moment when she wasn't toiling away in the science labs. Her lengthy ears perked at the chirp of her comm badge, and she gave it a tap to reply, "Mordin here. I've got quite a few, actually. Questions about the treaty or tech now that the officials are off ship?" she smirked.
"Actually, I was going to ask you out on a date." Hel mused with a smile that one might consider devious. "A loud one, a physically intensive one or a romantic one. Your choice which."
A question that caught the rabbitess half by surprise, though that surprise gave way to a smirk all her own, "A date? I'm humbled, and I accept." Now why choose just one? The rabbitess considered an answer, then second guessed herself and gave a slightly more conserved response, "If the choice is mine, loud and intensive for a start. Keep me hooked and interested. I'm certain the romance will follow in time."
She almost asked why, then remembered she's an exotic creature: Mysterious and alluring. She giggled to herself, though would ask Hel once they got together. Such questions weren't for an unsecured comm line.
That answer caught Hel slightly off guard, but it was nothing she couldn't work with. "And she had chosen loud! Ding!" A smile in her voice. "Alright, meet me at holodeck three in ten minutes. Wear something black and comfortable, that's easy to move in."
"Black, comfortable, easy to move in." the rabbitess recited, and she gave an unseen nod, "I have just the thing. I'll see you there in ten minutes. Mordin out."
Now it was time to find the appropriate garb. Black she had, comfortable she had. Easy to move in, she had. All three was the trick, though she had something that qualified. Certainly it wasn't something she had back home, but something she acquired in her time in Starfleet. Starfleet casual fashion had a different feel when it came to the line between provocative and inappropriate. As she held up the top and admired it, she gave a nod. This was the one.
She arrived at Holodeck Three roughly ten minutes later, wearing an outfit that was indeed black, and not only did it look comfortable to wear, it was comfortable to look at too. A tight black top devoid of any markings or literature though, if it had the formula for galactic peace it may take a diplomat a few tries to find it. Hugging and supportive, with a neckline that dipped just below her collarbone, if her people had collarbones.
Yup. They did.
Completing the look was a black button-down shirt over the stretchy black top, a frilly mid-thigh length skirt, and a pair of comfortable looking shoes adapted for the relatively unique physiology of the Ts'usugi. To push the provocative index a little closer to the limit, the rabbitess chose to accent her outfit with a black choker, and a series of five dark studs in each of her lengthy ears. She gave Hel a soft smile, and struck a pose where she put a hand on her hip, and cocked to that side gently while her other arm swung free to her side.
Hel gave a low whistle of approval when she saw Valeria's choice of outfit. She herself was dressed similarly, but more for utility than allure: a form fitting black tanktop with a soft shimmering subtle skull motif over a black thigh-length skirt and heavy black leather boots. A black choker with chrome spikes and matching armbands completed the outfit.
"Very, very nice." she smiled at Valeria, though whether than was meant to compliment the outfit or the person wearing it, she didn't say. "Ever been to a metal concert?" she then asked. "You might want to consider hearing protection though. I don't know how sensitive Ts'usugi hearing is compared to human hearing, but it's going to get very loud inside."
Valeria gave a little spin in place to demonstrate the... sheer blackness... of her attire. "Thank you." she gave her appreciation for the compliment, regardless of where it was aimed. "It's quite sensitive, but I'll have a few earplugs on file in the ship's database. I'll have a pair replicated for me once we're inside."
She then gave Hel an appraising glance, "I like the sigil on your top. Subtle, but unmistakable. As for what you have in store, I'll never ask since you'd never tell." she then offered the pale humanoid her hand, "Shall we?"
"We shall." Hel smiled. Inside the holodeck was a dark space, though with moving spotlights going this way and that. There was a crowd assembled, in various types of dark outfits not unlike what Hel and Valeria were wearing. At one end of the room was a large stage, with an orchestra sitting on it, all ready with their instruments. A choir stood behind the orchestra, dressed in robes.
As Hel and Valeria entered, the orchestra started playing, a dark and ominous piece, with the choir joining in, adding layers. The whole piece built up the expectation of more, even as it built to a crescendo, soaring and powerful.
"It's an old concert from Earth, early 21st century!" Hel told Valeria, raising her voice over the music. "It's called Black Symphony!"
Valeria gave a look around, thankful that the light in this recreation was a bit toned down. All the focus seemed on the orchestra, on the choir, and thus all the light was there. As the music began, as the intensity of the music began to rise, she muttered a quick request to the computer to not shatter the immersion of the simulation. She then put the earplugs that were in her hand in her ears and gave them a gentle tap to ensure they were in properly.
Her reply wasn't with words, but with motion. Her eyes half closed, and her head started to lift. Her ears perked slowly despite the hearing protection and slowly she started to just move in place as she came to a conclusion. "I like it!" she called over the music.
Hel only smiled, watching Valeria more than the orchestra. She'd seen this entire concert before.
After the orchestral introduction the actual band came on stage, carrying their guitars, their bass, taking their place behind the drums and the keyboards, and the female singer wearing an elaborate Gothic style dress, carrying her microphone. Not wasting any time with introductions, they immediately launched into the first song, in a style quite different from the orchestral intro.
The guitars roared and thundered, the drums pounded their rhythm, and the bass guitar was more felt than heard. Over top of that the almost angelic voice of the singer, lyrics with fantasy themes, even as the orchestra and choir lent their layers to the whole presentation.
Valeria seemed slightly surprised when the rest of the band showed up. Strings, heavy strings, and a concentrated assortment of drums. The instruments started, and the thunder of the strings pounded through her while the drums enticed her heart on a race. She didn't even notice that Hel's focus was on her. The stage demanded her attention.
And then the voice struck.
The rabbitess took a breath and held it, while the music played on. Her hips started to sway in tune with the drums, her ears shook as her body moved, and then on a side glance her eyes met with Hel's, and a soft smile spread over her features. In that moment, she knew Hel had seen the show, but wanted to watch the show again through her.
There truly was nothing like watching a show for the first time for the second time through someone else's eyes. Valeria's glance and smile was met by a laugh of pure joy, as Hel saw how much Valeria was enjoying the show. At that she finally allowed herself to be swept up by the music as well.
Powerful, roaring, then calm and melodic, always harmonic, themes of legends and heroes, of forests and creation. Speaking of love and loss, of lost and found, speaking of hearts led astray and finding their way back, speaking of wrongdoings and revenge.
Hel danced to the music as well, though the 'dance' was simple, body moving, swaying to the softer, more melodic pieces, jumping up and down and cheering to the more energetic pieces. During some songs the entire crowd of ten thousand were jumping along, pumping their hands in the air - while during some songs they were swaying to the music, tears in eyes, lighters held up in the air.
All in all, it wasn't Valeria's first concert but it was her first earth concert. She enjoyed it immensely but after the first hour she gave Hel a glance and a smile, obviously running on fumes. "It's... a lot to take in." she said over the roar of the crowd and the thunder of the band. At least, she tried to. The rabbitess hid her disappointment in herself for not making it to the end of the show that Hel had picked for her.
"Could we, take a moment?" she asked, her ears drooping ever so slightly in a mix of concern and embarrassment.
Hel barely understood Valeria's words over the din of the music, but the ear droop and look on her face said enough. She gave a nod and a soft smile, as she took Valeria's hand and led her to the exit of the venue. Once outside the din of the music was muffled, much quieter.
"We can take a break. Take a walk. I had more prepared than just a concert anyways." Hel smiled. "Don't worry, don't feel sorry, I figured the whole concert would be too much, it's a lot to take in."
Valeria gave a nod and that same soft smile as Hel led her from the venue. As the music's intensity lessened, and as Hel's smile shown forth, her ears returned to a more upright posture. Possibly even a relaxed raise. She removed the earplugs once the music was merely background thunder. "It was a lot, but I enjoyed it. We have concerts back home, though they don't blend orchestra and small band."
She took a few breaths, and continued to just put one foot in front of the other in an idle walk. A few steps further, and she gave Hel that same soft smile, almost a ghost of a feature, "Lead on, Hel." a pause, and then a touch softer, "And... thank you."
"You're more than welcome." Hel offered, along with her arm. The rabbitess took to the gesture, and hooked her arm.
And so the pale human led the rabbittess down the street, where soon the street turned into forest, and soon they found themselves at the foot of a cliff, with winding path leading up and the scent of the ocean beyond. The music from the venue had become a mere whisper by now. Why was there a forest and a cliff right outside a rock temple? Because holodeck.
"Fancy a climb? Might want to get better boots." Hel ventured.
The first thing she noticed was the smell of the ocean. She took a deep breath, holding it before slowly exhaling. "I love the smell of the ocean." she admitted, "Whenever father had the chance, he'd request time off and take us all to the shore. We'd rent a cabin on the shore and spend a few days there." Valeria actually gave a giggle at the sight of the cliff before her and at Hel's offer she gave a nod. "I'm not a strong climber, though." she admitted, before looking down at her shoes.
"Not the best footwear for a climb." she agreed, before she slipped her shoes off and set them aside. Freed from those confines, she stood on her tippy toes for a moment, bouncing a bit to revel in the freedom without shoes. Though, that freedom would be short lived. "Computer. One pair of boots, Ts'usugi configuration." and a pair of boots appeared, an obvious fit for the unique feet of the rabbitess. She knelt on a rock to put these new boots on. "I've never climbed a cliff before. I've been in a cavern before, though. Plenty of times." she then giggled at a memory, "All the interesting caverns had Tattle Tails, though."
"I'm sure they had." Hel smiled, sitting down in the grass as Valeria changed footwear. "Don't worry about not being a good climber. We can take the trail up if you just want to walk, but the cliff reads your movements and skill level and automatically adjusts to give you a fun climb based on how you're doing." She offered.
Once Valeria had her boots on Hel jumped to her feet and offered the Ts'usugi a hand up.
She accepted Hel's offer of assistance once her boots were strapped and secured. "Oh, you've... A Tattle Tail is a flower that blooms at night. The pollen was luminescent, and difficult to remove from fur and clothing." Valeria explained as she got her feet under her. "Parents used it as an indicator of when children went where they weren't supposed to." she smiled softly, then turned her hollow glance from Hel to the cliff. "No, I want the challenge. Besides, if I stumble, you'll be there to help pick me up." she said it less like a request, and more like she was rather confident.
"Though, depending on how I land, I'll forgive you if there's a laugh between us." she said, giving Hel the first honest smile she'd given to anyone on the Victory. She then turned towards the cliff, and brought her hand up to the first outcropping of rocks.
Hel winked at Valeria. "Or I might just lie down next to you and laugh and talk. We'll see. I'd love to see one of those tattle tales some time, sounds like a beautiful flower." the engineer mused. "You know, you keep surprising me." she added as Valeria started the climb. She had an option of which handhold to use next, to pull herself up on - and the one she chose would decide what hand- and footholes the self-adjusting climbing cliff would give her. Hel went for the more difficult one, being an experienced climber.
"I have one in my quarters." she stated, then was silent as she took the next few moments to decide where to put her hands, and her feet. After the next few handholds, she broke the silence, "Oh? While I enjoy being anything but boring... in what way?" she was curious, obvious from her tone. Inquisitive, not offended in the slightest. Truth be told, she took the notion of being surprising as a compliment. She didn't enjoy the prospect of being predictable.
"Farm girl. Decided things weren't good enough. Started learning where she shouldn't. Got caught." Hel offered, pulling herself up to the next handhold with a grunt. "Managed to finagle the best education around. Became a scientist." the pale engineer continued. "Intelligent, eloquent, doesn't back down from a challenge, set your mind on something and you achieve it through - hnng - " another new handhold " - sheer force of will and perseverence."
At the description of herself, she gave that soft smile again. This one, though, blossomed into a full smile. Her reply would be delayed as she waited to be level with Hel, to glance over at the other woman, "I've ... never heard myself described so completely, and so elegantly." she complimented, "Mother taught me the value of hard work. Father taught me never to work harder when I could work smarter. He also said that nothing in the universe was more valuable than an education."
Another few handholds later, and she continued her thought, "Though, he wasn't.. too thrilled when I left one district to attend class in another." she giggled. "But you're right, and I must admit I enjoy hearing it how you say it."
Her footing staggered once, though she regained it after blindly finding a new foothold. "It's... hard to see where to put one's feet." she joked with a giggle.
"Climbing is a mental challenge as much as a physical one. You have to look for footholds in front of you before you climb high enough to put a foot on it. Memorize the footholds and trust your memory." Hel mused, pulling herself up another half meter before placing her foot unerringly on a foothold without looking. "You know, your parents taught you some very valuable lessons there. Lessons everyone should learn at some point. But the way you put them to work for you, that's your own."
That gave her pause. Not the whole 'climbing is a mental exercise' bit, but the last part. "You compliment well." she said softly while keeping pace with Hel as the pair climbed up the cliff face. A few more meters, and Valeria found her next handhold on the top. She pulled herself up and was content to just lay on the ground, looking up at the sky.
Joined by Hel. The engineer had taken it slowly, simply enjoying the company as well as the view and the scents. She lay down next to Valeria, resting a hand on the other woman's arm, looking up at the sky. It seemed perpetual dusk in this holodeck program, seeing as both preferred low light over bright. A few clouds slowly drifted by. The caw'ing of a bird heard in the distance. The warm glow of a perpetually setting sun casting its orange aura.
"Wouldn't be much of a date if I were mean to you now would it." Hel mused, her expression turning more serious. "I'll be completely honest with you, Valeera." She did her best to pronounce the other woman's name the Ts'usugi way. "I find you fascinating. As a person. As a friend. As more than a friend." Hel turned to lay on her side, looking at Valeria.
"You make me feel like a dumb little girl. In the best way possible. Like I'm not in control. Not a feeling I'm used to." She spoke quietly, peering at a particularly fascinating blade of grass between the two before looking back at the rabbittess. "I like that feeling."
Valeria turned that hollow Ts'usugi glance towards Hel as she spoke. Those reflectionless eyes seemed to go on forever, and their glance made the target of that gaze feel like they were the only thing in this universe, the center. The core.
As Hel called her by Valeera, it actually brought up a giggle from the rabbitess. To hear that she was fascinating brought a soft smile to her features. "I like making you feel special." she started, looking up at the pale human, "I find you spontaneous, energetic, well-informed, and fascinating." the rabbitess admitted with a soft smile, "I enjoy your smile. It's honest and not freely given."
"I'm in no rush for this to end." she added after a pause, "But we should do this again."
"Doesn't have to end any time soon." Hel mused. "I've got the rest of the night off. The holodeck door is locked and I've told the computer to log it as out of order." A pause. "Besides, we've climbed all this way up and there's an ocean of clean, clear water at the foot of this cliff. Be a shame not to jump back off again. Right? You know, in a bit. Because this is nice." She offered, snuggling a bit closer to Valeria's arm and wrapping her own around it. "Mine."
"You've thought of everything. Resourceful." the rabbitess offered with a smirk. She offered no resistance to a closer snuggle, though when the Engineer claimed her arm, it took Valeria by surprise. "Just the arm?" she asked with a mischievous smirk, "Or is the arm just the first?" she couldn't help but be amused by the Engineer's antics, though on a deeper note it made Valeria feel unique. Special. Not just because of how Hel expressed it, but because this was a side of the pale humanoid that she figured no one ever got to see. To share that with her despite the severe difference in species was just...
This closeness. This contact. Something so simple and yet, it meant everything at this moment to both of them. She shimmied just that little bit closer before leaning her head in to gently press her forehead against Hel's and to keep it there. A gentle contact, the soft fur and her hair making for an interesting texture, but the motion itself added to the moment. Added to the sensation.
Holding onto Valeria's arm and hand were special to Hel. This contact here, forehead to forehead, seemed somewhat significant to Valeria.