Blue ball #27 "Rockclimbing to friendship."


[Deck Six, U.S.S. Pegasus, Red Nail Cliffs, South of San Francisco]

Sulan awoke suddenly from the nightmare she'd been having. She looked quickly around her sparse quarters, searching for an enemy that didn't exist. She was safe, she told herself. The dream had simply been a memory of the incident that had occurred earlier. Shoving aside the blankets, she went into the refresher. Starring into the mirror, the freshly stitched wound on her cheek seemed to mock her. There it was, raw, still caked with dried green blood at it's edges. She'd stitched the wound herself, with no anesthetic, as a punishment. White hot anger flowed through her anew, and without thinking, she punched the mirror, cracking it in a spider-web pattern. Now instead of one reflection there were many tiny ones, all looking desperate, and angry. She fought to control herself.

Leaving the refresher, she grabbed a clean uniform, and got dressed. If she couldn't sleep, better to write reports. She exited her quarters, moving quickly, lest anyone comment on her wounded cheek.

Hannah slipped from her room, her climbing gear on her back. She'd wanted to climb the Red Nail Cliffs, just South of San Francisco at night for some time, and tonight was her chance. She adored late night climbing - there was something pretty awesome about climbing under the starlight. Well, the starlight and the high-powered twelve foot-high floodlights. She also liked late-night climbs because there were less people to ogle at her in her somewhat skimpy climbing gear. The night was due to be warm, and so Hannah had decided to wear her favorite bikini to climb in. She had slung her gear in a rucksack, and was carrying it over one shoulder. <I really hope it's a woman on the transporter desk.>

Sulan was so absorbed in her thoughts that she nearly collided with O'Driscoll. "Ah, Lieutenant, you seem to be inappropriately dressed. Your attire suggest swimming, but the climbing gear you carry does not. Might I inquire as to your destination?" She tried to sound neutral but her voice seemed raw. She new there were dark circled under her eyes as well.

"Uh..." <Great - of all the people I could run into...> "I'm going climbing down on Earth." Hannah said. "The forecast's warm." It was at that point Hannah's mouth made one of its trademark stupid mistakes. "You wanna come?" <What? Am I stupid, or something? I swear I should just staple this thing up one day. Ah well, at least there's no chance she'll take me up on the offer.>

"That would be agreeable. I am an expert climber, and it would be far safer, if I accompanied you. But might I use you quarters to change into something more appropriate?"

"Uh..." <> "Sure, that'd be great!" <Curse my unfailing desire to be nice to people!> "I have some spare gear in my room that you can borrow."

"Excellent." Sulan entered O'Driscoll's quarters, moving to the replicator to create a tank top, practical shorts, and a pair of Federation standard hiking boots for herself. She nearly began to strip in front of her, before remembering the human discomfort with nudity. Grabbing the clothes, she moved to the refresher. After a few moments, she emerged, feeling somewhat self conscious of the scars fully exposed on her arm. She pushed the emotions away, focusing on logic. "Shall we depart, Lieutenant?"

"Sure." Hannah said, tossing Telek the bag she had packed for her while the Vulcan had been changing. "You've freeclimbed before?"

"Yes. The Vulcan terrain is quite mountainous, and as such we are skilled climbers." She catches the bag casually. "Good", said Hannah. "Nail isn't too bad, but it's tricky. I wasn't planning on using safety equipment" Hannah grinned. "It's not as if I have many places to clip it, y'know? If you want to take ropes, though..."

"If you are fine without them, I will trust your judgment. If something unfortunate were to befall us, I believe I would be strong enough to carry you, if need be" She moves toward the door. "You know the Red nail location quite well, I take it?"

"Fairly well - I've climbed it quite a few times. Never at night, though." Hannah grinned. "Should be fun." She looked a bit closer at Telek. "Are you sure you're alright to climb - you look like you've been through the wars a bit."

Sulan touched the stitched gash on her cheek. "Ah, a... failure in vigilance on my part." It wasn't really a lie, her failure to be aware is what had allowed her to be injured. "Unless you are referring to my scars," she added quickly. "In which case you can rest assured, because they do not hinder my movements or physical ability." She exited the quarters, moving to the transporter room. "Come." <I'll swear this was my trip> Hannah thought, somewhat resentfully. <Oh well - suppose I'll just make the most of it.> She scurried after Sulan. "So what happened to your face?" She asked, curiously.

"There is no need to be concerned." Sulan said carefully, still feeling the rage she'd felt earlier close to the surface of her consciousness. As they arrived he transporter, she reached into the nearby weapons locker, and tucked a type nine phaser into her belt. "I do not wish to be unprepared if we encounter any hostile wildlife on the surface." She said at the sight of the girl's expression.

"Yeah, those squirrels can be pretty deadly." Hannah said, sarcastically. She handed her destination coordinates to the officer on duty, and stepped onto the transporter PADD. She smiled as he tried his best not to check her out as she walked up the steps. She contemplated pretending to drop something and bending over to pick it up, but she thought he might just pass out. She waited for Sulan to step onto the platform, and then nodded at the man. "Energize."

They rematerialized at the base of a large cliff, lit up by three sets of very large floodlights. The sight was quite fantastic, and Hannah smirked at Sulan. "Pretty awesome, no?"

"Yes. It would make an efficient sniper's position." She fought the urge to draw the phaser and secure the area. For some reason, suddenly being in the dark made her feel uneasy. Her keen eyes scanned the area quickly. If the girl who cut her would dare show herself, Sulan would vaporise her before she could draw breath to speak. "Where, shall we begin, Lieutenant?" Her voice this time had a smooth, deadly air to it.

"Efficient? This is a miracle of nature, Sulan, not something 'efficient'!" Hannah shook her head, and headed for a small marker flag, a little ways away. A route was traced up the cliff by dint of small pins hammered into the rock face. "You want to go first?" Hannah offered.

Sulan thought about the Lieutenant's words. "Yes, it is quite fortunate that the climate of this created this edifice in this manner." The approached the rock face and jumped five feet in the air grabbing a hand hold with one arm and pulling her self up to grab the other. She moved up the rock face like a spider, coming to the first rest.

"Huh. Well that takes all the fun out of it." Hannah said, taking a little bit longer - what with not having the ability to jump five feet in the air. She pulled her way up the rock face to the rest, and sat down. "That was pretty impressive."

"Your sarcasm is not necessary, Lieutenant. My slowness was caused by the fact that it has been some time since I've scaled a rock face." Sulan said not realizing what O'Driscoll meant. : "Umm...Sulan, although nine times out of ten you can take it as read that I'm being sarcastic, that time I was serious - I've never seen anyone do something like that."

"I apologize. I still have a difficult time understanding when you are using sarcasm."

"You spend enough time around me, I'm sure you'll figure it out." Hannah grinned. "Now, that last face was pretty easy, but I'm willing to bet you'll have difficulty with the next one. You wanna go first?"

"That is one of the reason's I accompanied you. You seemed the most receptive of my ignorance of emotions." She stands, not even winded from the last climb. She moves to the rock face, not jumping this time. Grabbing a handhold, she progressed up the face. It was more difficult this time, and halfway up, her had slips, and she has to scramble to regain her balance before continuing.

Hannah pulled herself up to just below the Vulcan. "You alright there, hon?" She said, patting the officer on the bottom cheekily. "At the next rest you should put some chalk on your hands. You can borrow some of mine, if you want - it certainly stops you slipping." <Although you do now have a large white hand print on your butt...> "Understood. Though I am unsure how to answer your affection. Is touching a person's posterior, a bonding ritual?" Sulan said, ignorant of the Lieutenant's prank. She slowed her progress, allowing O'Driscoll to keep pace with her. Pulling herself up to the next rest, she sat quietly in the lotus position, waiting for O'driscoll

"Depends on the planet." Hannah said, pulling herself up, and passing the Lieutenant her chalk bag. "I was just messing with you." She looked at the Vulcan oddly. "Doesn't that hurt?"

Sulan takes the bag and applies a small amount of chalk dust to her hands, self-conscious of the wound on her cheek, "The injury is not so painful that I cannot control the sensation. Though when I fail to concentrate on it, it can become irritating." She hands the bag back to O'SDriscoll and stands, looking at the sky. Turning her back to O'Driscoll, the chalk hand print stands out plainly on her black shorts. "The stars are quite unique from this vantage point."

"Y'see? Now you're getting it. That's called 'appreciating nature'." Hannah leaned back against the rock face, flicking a bug off her knee. "So what's with the hardass attitude, anyhow?" She sighed. "I tried that a while back - it doesn't win you any respect, and tends to lose you friends...or stop you making them in the first place."

"So my mental bearing will affect the tactility of my posterior? I know of no medical evidence to support this." Said Sulan, knowing perfectly well what she meant. Hannah looked at her disparagingly. "You knew exactly what I meant, Miss Vulcan - you may be uptight, but you're not stupid."

"I can only be what I am, Lieutenant."

"Now that's six ways from true." Hannah said. "Trust me on that one - you can be whatever you want to be, and if you're anything like me, that changes from minute to minute. "I think there's a heart of gold somewhere under that cold hard exterior, but you're just afraid that people won't respect you if you let the 'Ice maiden' look drop."

"Lieutenant..." Sulan says quietly, her emotions once again close to the surface. "There is a reason Vulcans are the way they are. I'm sure you have noticed that T'rell uses less control over his emotions than I. That is because his emotional nature is that of humor and joy. Where as mine..." She trails off, pushing the loneliness down. "Let us say, that where you would expect to find a golden heart, your would find one as black as a neutron star." She turns back to her, studying her. "I am beginning to feel that it is a mistake to deny my purpose for existence. A former coworker explained that to me recently. My presence here, is detrimental to all of you."

"Who said you could decide that for me?" Hannah said. "The way I see it, your presence has been far from detrimental to me. Y'know, I spent twenty years perfecting the art of making people like me - I could be friends with anyone on this boat if I wanted, (assuming, of course, that they didn't ask my last name) but I'm trying with you. Why? Because it's a challenge? Or maybe it's because I like you, and I reckon there's more to you that the outward appearance you like to project." She stood up, grinning. "Are you really here because you want to make sure an officer of this crew is safe, or is it possible that maybe you want to make a friend?"

She looks away, unsure how to answer. "Perhaps we should continue the ascent?" She says changing the subject. "We cannot allow ourselves to become distracted from our goal."

"No, we wouldn't want that, would we?" Hannah said, sighing. She pulled herself onto the rock face again, and began to climb. "Watch your footing - it's a bit crumbly here."

"Understood." Sulan moved to the rock face, but was stopped by a sound coming from the sparse bushes. She whirls, drawing the phaser in a blur. "Show yourself. Now." The heat of rage bleeds into the words. Crouching down, she creeps toward the bushes, seconds later, the owl which had been disturbed takes flight, screeching into the night. Sulan goes back to the rock face, sheathing the phaser as if nothing happened. She climbs, coming along side O'Driscoll. "All is well, Hannah, it was simply an avian." She say hoping the girl won't comment.

Hannah looked across at the other woman. "Jumpy much?" she said, looking questioningly at her. "What's going on, Sulan? Is someone out to get you?"

Sulan remains silent, not wanting to lie to her. "We should continue, before your strength wains." She continues her spider-like climbing. She reaches the next rest, and pulls herself up, peering over the edge at O'Driscoll.

<Before my...oh you are making it so very difficult to like you, lady.> Hannah pulled herself up to the final rest stop before the top of the cliff. She sat down on the edge, dangling her legs over open space. "You know friends are supposed to share, Sulan." She said, wearily. "I want to be your friend - don't ask me why, I don't know myself, but I do, and this whole not opening up thing is getting a little boring. So here's the deal - you tell me why you're so jumpy, and I'll give ya a free question - ask anything you like, about any subject, and I promise to answer."

"Agreed." Said Sulan. "The injury was a result of a disagreement with a former employer. They do not agree with my continued residency aboard the Pegasus, nor my association with it's crew, without first contacting for continued orders." She pauses a moment, letting that sink in. "Now, on to my question. Why do you not fear me as do the others?"

Hannah considered the question for some time before answering. "Because I haven't made my mind up about you yet. Other people judge you by your actions, or your scary words, or the insults you fling at people. I learned a long time ago that first impressions are just bull. If, after getting to know you, I think you're scary, then I'll be scared of you. Until then, well...I'm going to give you every chance to get into my good books."

"There can be nothing to be gained by befriending me. It may cause you to become an outcast among the crew. Surely your aware of that possibility? Though I admit that our backgrounds are somewhat similar."

"Becoming an outcast - gee, I wonder what that would be like." Hannah said, sarcastically. "Because I have so many friends already." She shrugged. "If people reject me because I'm friends with someone they don't like, they probably ain't the kind of friends I want, anyhow."

Sulan nods at this, touched beyond words. She felt close to tears, thought she showed no outward sign of it. "I find it... agreeable to be considered your friend, Hannah."

: "Good." Hannah said, grinning. "I'll race you to the top. And since I was nice to you, you have to let me win."

"Agreed." She stands once again. Watching the girl climb. She was filled with doubt. How long would this peace last before she lost everything she had gained? She took a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Better to live in the moment, then speculate about the future.

"Come on slowcoach!" Hannah yelled from the top. "It's a beautiful night up here!"

: "On my way." Sulan climbs quickly reaching the top. Looking at the vista it was indeed beautiful. "Thank you, Hannah." Sulan says quietly. "It is agreeable that i could accompany you." "Not a problem." Hannah said, lying backwards on the grass. "Next time we should do it in the daytime, when there's lots of teenage boys around - it's fun to dress like this, and mess with their heads."

"I doubt that my scars I would be visually apealling enough to cause mental angst among young human males under any circumstances." She lies back alongside her. "Though it would be interesting to watch you do so. I have never observed such a human ritual."

Hannah grinned. "Trust me, if you're breathing and not carrying a Y chromosome, at least one o' these boys is going to find you attractive." She stretched out, smiling happily. "Flirting's one of the most fun things in the world - you should try it someday. Which reminds me - what do you do for fun?"

'That is a difficult question to answer. If by fun you mean what do I find intellectually stimulating, then there are several things which I find fascinating. Training the maggots, looking at government stability models, refining my combat technique, and modifying my personal phaser rifle, to name a few." : "No, I mean what do you do when you're not, y'know...working. In your free time."

"Practicing bladed weapon combat." She says matter-of-factly. "Doesn't everyone do something to this effect as a pastime?"

"Um...I hate to break it to ya, Sules," Hannah said, grinning. "But except for once when I dated a Klingon (don't ask) I've never even touched a bladed weapon."

Sulan is confused by this. "It is very logical to be efficient with them. As well as phasers, RPGs, and most certainly explosives. Don't you agree?"

"Logic very rarely enters into my definition of 'fun', Sules." Hannah considered for a moment. "In fact, I tend to find that the less logical something is, the more fun it is. Weird, eh?"

"Very 'weird' indeed. The very thought of it confuses me to no end." She thinks for a moment. "I have a question. Was the manner of dress that you wear chosen in the hopes of attracting a mate? If so, I must ask your forgiveness for my presence here has probably thwarted those plans. I did not consider that fact till we had already reached the surface."

"Trust me, Sules, even if you wanted to, you couldn't thwart any attempt I made at a man." Hannah smirked. "Nah, the bikini's just cause it's comfy and makes me feel nice. Plus, this one's my favorite." She looked at her watch. "We should be getting back - I need to get up in five hours."

"Very well. Perhaps next time we can discuss human mating habits? I am very curious about them." She stands, hitting her com badge. -/\- "Sulan to Pegasus two to beam up" -/\- Just before they were caught in the transporter wave, Hannah turned to Sulan. "When you figure out what I've done, remember a sense of humor is one of the good things about humans." She said cryptically.

"What do you mean, Hannah?" Sulan says as she steps from the transporter pad. But the girl ignores her, continuing on her way. Sulan dismisses the comment as she heads back to her quarters. Along the way, she encounters one of her security patrols. "All is well, ensign?" She asks, as she turns her backs to them, checking the time on a wall panel.

"Yes, fine sir." He said snickering at the sight of the chalk hand print. "It's been quiet here, but you look like you've been busy Lieutenant."

"Yes," Sulan replies. "It seems I had Lieutenant O'Driscoll working up quite a sweat trying to keep up with me." The security team roars with laughter.

"So we can see, sir." Said the ensign, red-faced with the effort of trying not to laugh. "What is the source of your humor?" Sulan asked, confused. "Nothing sir," he said. "Alpha team, move out." he spoke quickly. As they departed, more laughter could be heard. <I don't believe I will ever come to understand humans.> She thought as she continued on her way, entering her quarters.

<Though admittedly, I have learned quite a bit.> She thought as she stripped of her clothes and entered the sonic shower. Looking down, she saw the imprint of a chalk hand print on the back of her disguarded shorts. "Yes, I've learned quite a bit indeed." She said to herself, realizing the source of the security team's mirth, and the strange look she got from the transporter chief. "Clever girl. I never even suspected. Of course you realize this means war." She began plotting on just how to get back at her new friend...


A joint post by:

Lieutenant Telek Sulan (acting) Chief of Security U.S.S. Pegasus


Lieutenant Hannah O'Driscoll Chief Tactical Officer U.S.S. Pegasus