Pandora's Box- #100,101: The nature of right and wrong...

ON: <<USS Pegasus, Bellerophon's Den>>

After parting company with Kristiana, Ryylar made his way back into the all but abandoned bar, ordering himself a cup of coffee, drinking it as he leaned over the bar.

Lt. Black had no intention of leaving her quarters, but she had been pretty much ordered into Engineering. So now, several hours in, she felt she was a bit justified in going to get some of that special chocolate coffee she loved so much. After all, how bad would it be? She was already used to speaking her thoughts by accident. So she made her way to the bar and stepped in, smiling as she saw how empty it was. Empty was good. Empty was safe.

Ryylar was the only one there, drinking some coffee and sipping it ever so slightly now and again as he sighed and looked out to space. He had a hard decision. On one hand was his love for Kristiana, and that was telling him to take the dive and be punished for doing the right thing. On the other hand was his newfound sense of personal pride telling him that if he backed down from this, he was the coward that those other Security officers had all said he was.

Kitty paused in the doorway, speaking her thoughts helplessly. "I hope the bar isn't closed... it's been a rough afternoon. Oh.. uhm... I'm sorry..."

"Don't worry, come on in... it'ssssss been a rrrrrrrough afterrrrrnoon forrrrrr all of ussssss." He said, and as she drew closer the evidence of his scuffle was more apparent. His cheek was swollen so he almost couldn't open his right eye fully as he did his best to muster a smile. "What'll it be?" he asked.

"Chocolate coffee, like usual... are you alright?" She frowned, sitting down at the bar. Kitty actually looked better than usual. She had braided her long hair over her shoulder, and clipped it with a barrette instead of just putting it back with an unadorned elastic. "And have you heard about the infection going around the ship?" Best get that question out of the way soon.

"How could I not? I have it." He said with a nod, turning to do his usual thing and get her the coffee she liked that he had made for her.

"Oh. Is that connected to whatever happened to you?" Kitty leaned her elbow on the bar and rested her head on her hand.

"Why? What did you hearrrrrrr?" He turned and growled, feeling certain that those lousy Security officers were spreading rumors, probably more about Kristiana's pet kitten as he set the coffee cup down in front of her.

"Well, nothing, that's why I was asking," she replied, looking rather taken aback by the growl. "I was just sitting in my quarters as quietly as possible until the last several hours, and I spent _that_ time sitting in Engineering as quietly as possible. I just found something to repair and took it into the far corner. I hope it's ok that I've taken the coffee break. The captain seemed a bit.. irritable. Aw, man, can we pretend I didn't say that last bit?" The look on her face had changed from mildly alarmed to rueful.

He smiled and nodded a bit, sighing.

"I beat up a few sssssecurrrrrity guarrrrrdssss today afterrrrrr they ssssexually harrrrassssed one of my waitrrrrressssessss and called me a cowarrrrrd when I told them to get out of my barrrrrr." He said.

"Ouch." Kitty took a small sip of her coffee and took just a moment to enjoy that small sip. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her hands relaxing against the cup, her shoulders settling comfortabley. Then she opened her eyes and smiled. "Uh.. sorry. Anyways... Yeah, they were completely out of line. you know if they were infected, too?"

"I think they prrrrrobably arrrre now... But they trrrripped herrrrr and starrrrted egging on the fight... I don't think they had it to begin with. Eitherrrrr way, they werrrrrre acting on theirrrrr thoughtssss, not jusssst ssssspeaking them." He said with a sigh.

"And now I have a choicccce." He said.

"What's the choice? If it isn't too bold of me to ask. I'm always saying things I shouldn't... this whole infection only means that I do it a little more often." Kitty frowned.

"Well, becaussssse I ssssstrrrrrruck a sssssuperrrrriorrrrrr officccerrrrrr, I am to be punisssshed... Even though that sssssuperrrrriorrrrr officcccerrrrr sssssexually harrrrasssed a waitrrrrressssss and ssssstarrrrted calling me pussssssy cat to get me to fight him." He saidm, explaining the situation.

"Now I have to choosssse. Eitherrrrr I acccept whateverrrr judgement that Commanderrrrr Labrrrrrie hands down to me, orrrrr I appeal it becausssssse I rrrrrreally don't think I did anything wrrrrrrrong." He said, looking at the ship's second officer.

Lt. Black looked back at him for a moment, listening, and then a moment longer, as if waiting. Then she took another sip of her coffee. "And...? What's the judgement?"

"We don't know, but even if it'sssss only a day orrrrrr two in the brrrrrig, it'sssss sssstill wrrrrrong... I mean you sssshould have ssssseen thosssssse sssssecurrrrrity apesssss... going on and made Virrrrrginia crrrrry. Then sssssstarrrrted picking a fight with me when I told them I would rrrrrreporrrrrt them to Commanderrrrrr LaBrrrrrrie." He said.

"They attacked you?" was her next question, as she stirred the coffee lazily for a moment and then took another sip. Her expression and, indeed, her mood was entirely neutral.

"I tackled one of them afterrrrr he called me a cowarrrrrd and told me to rrrrrun to the Commanderrrrrr and be a pusssssssy cat. That I couldn't even back up my thrrrrrreatssssss mysssssself." He said with a furrowed brow. Where Kristiana seemed to show some sympathy and believe he was right, Lieutenant Black seemed purely logical.

Kitty frowned at that and didn't speak for a while, which was interesting considering that if she knew just what to say, the infection would have compelled her to say it. Then she spoke slowly, as if still gathering her thoughts, the first clear question that coalesced in her quirky mind. "Why did their opinion matter to you?"

"It norrrrrmally wouldn't... But sssssincccce Krrrrrrisssstiana and I have been ssssseeing each otherrrrr..." He started, groaning as he realized he had let it out to her. She could report both of them for the relationship as it was against regulations.

"Oh." Something seemed to click into place as he said that, and then she smiled at his groan. "Oh, that's alright, the first thing I did when I caught this thing was to finally tell Evans that I think he's cute." Then she blinked and rested her head in her hands, as much to hide her face as to express her embarrassment and exasperation. "Ok... I've been hoping all day I wouldn't let That one out again."

He smiled and patted her shoulder.

"It'sssss okay... but to ansssswerrrrr yourrrrr quesssstion, everrrrrr sssssince Krrrrrissss and I have been ssssseeing each otherrrrr, sssshe'ssss taught me to be prrrrroud of myssssself and not back down. Ssssssso I didn't..." He said with a slight smile.

"That makes sense," Kitty said readily. "Like my family.. New Englander Pride. My grandfather would have done it. My great-great- etc. grandfather did it, or close enough." Yes, she could use the term 'etc' in casual conversation. "And he'd have gotten into trouble for it, too. And he'd probably... have... served his sentence under protest."

"Well, I sssssstill don't sssssssssee why I sssssshould be punished forrrrrrrr it. I thought sssssssself defensssssse wasn't punissssssshable." He said, shaking his head ruefully.

"It generally isn't considered self defense if you're the first one to throw the punch," Kitty said, her tone sympthetic but a bit wry. "Even under provocation, as long as he didn't touch you or lunge for you."

"I ssssssseem to rrrrrrrecall my Captain on the USssSss Rrrrrrhode Island oncccccce ssssssaid when we werrrrrre attacked by Brrrrrrreen forrrrrrrrccccesssss... 'Them'ssss fightin' worrrrrrdssssss.' " He said.

"Well, yes, that's a phrase," she said contemplatively. "But that's besides the point. The rules weren't really made for exactly these sorts of situations. Suppose you were allowed to attack someone for 'verbal provocation'? How much is provocation? How much isn't? How do you decide? Heck, with the way everyone's been here, we'd all be at each other's throats by now. I'm not saying you did Wrong... Well, you did give the guy what he was looking for, though."

"Ssssssso it'ssssssss ok forrrrrrrr ssssssssomone to chasssssssssse a Caitian arrrrrrrround calling him pusssssssy cat assssss long assssssss they don't touch him?" He quipped.

"Well," she said logically, "to chase you, he'd have to approach you, enter your space if you stayed still. That would be different. I mean, it's not ok for him to call you names, of course! But that doesn't make it ok to hit him for it. I mean, I'm even saying that you shouldn't have. I'm just saying that his actions alone don't necessarily justify it." Kitty frowned. "My grandmother is better at explaining these things than I am. I'm just remembering what she taught me. I'm probably not doing much good."

"I'm not trrrrrrying to put you on the ssssssspot, but I've been told by ssssssseverrrrral people now that I did the rrrrrrright thing.... If I did the rrrrrright thing, then why am I going to be punissssshed forrrrrr it?" He asked inquisitively.

"Because it was, as my grandfather would say, 'unpolitick'," Kitty answered with an amused smile. "He warned me about that. I've good at being 'unpolitick'. I manage to do it all the time, whether I mean to or not."

"Ssssssso tell me then, when doessssssss it become politic to fight back againssssst it?" he asked, trying to still understand why if he was so right, he was being treated as if he was so wrong.

"If he'd taken a swing at you, that would've done it for sure," Kitty said wryly. "Oh, don't ask me, I'm the wrong person to ask, I do 'unpolitick' things all the time. My grandfather, like I said, would have done it.. and then taken the punishment in respect of the reason for the laws... but under protest because he felt he did the right thing. I'm certain that's the way he'd take it."

"Well, I guessssssss I'm eitherrrrrrr not sssssssmarrrrt enough orrrrrrr jussssssst too sssssstubborrrrrrrn to take thissssssss punisssssshment without contesting it." He said with a shake of his head.

"That's your perogative," Kitty replied easily. "But you'll have to find out first if you're even going to have one."

"Caelen allrrrrready doesssssn't like me... I think he'll prrrrrrobably thrrrrrrrow the book at me." He said, shaking his head.

"I have no idea if he likes me or not. Uh, didn't mean to say that. Well.. You know, I think he's more fair than that. I really do. Some of my teachers didn't like me, but they gave me a fair grade anyways." She encouraged him.

"I don't know.... I sssssssupposssssse I ssssshould get it overrrrrr with though... go and sssssssee him..." He said sighing as if in defeat.

"If you want to do that during this whole infection." Kitty glanced down at her mostly-finished coffee. "Just really, really, really, really try to avoid saying something you'll really regret later, 'kay? If you left, who would make chocolate coffee for me?" she asked with a quiet smile.

"I've got the rrrrrrreccccipe wrrrrrritten down sssssssso while I'm sssssssserrrrrrrving time on Rrrrrrrrurrrrrra Penthe mining Dilithium forrrrrr the rrrrrrresssst of my nine livesssssss, the next Morrrrrrale Officccccerrrrrr can make you yourrrrrr coffee." He said with a bit of a smile, turning and walking out of the bar to try and at least get this over with.


A JP by:

Lieutenant JG Kitty Black Chief Engineering Officer Second Officer USS Pegasus


Warrant Officer Ryylar Morale Officer Lounge Manager USS Pegasus "Them'sssss fightin' worrrrrrdsssss..."