RoF - #85, 86 - "I didn't look..."


Kathleen Black returned to Main Engineering and sat herself down at her desk. She started setting up a few special tracer programs, spinning a virtual web in which she hoped to catch the fly that had been sending out nude pictures of her friend. "And Petrova's the spider..." she said quietly to herself, chuckling slightly over that whole 'nuts as necktie' threat. "Now we wait..." She leaned back, sipping at some tea, watching the main screen sit there and do nothing. "Nobody's biting," she said to herself, and reached for a stack of reports. It was her misfortune that a CEO on a starbase did a lot more paperwork than on a starship.

"Ah!" she said, as symbols and letters scrolling across that main screen caught her eye. "We have a bite." Then she blinked as her own terminal beeped: new message. "What, me?" she said in surprise, then checked it.

The message was from the same guy. The body read "So you go to see her for relationship advice. And you actually listen to her and respect her opinion. How can you respect Anything that someone who did this tells you ?" .. It was signed "A Friend" - as the other ones, and attached were the same pictures, of Petrova in various degrees of nudity. Though all maintaining a certain edge of class, never simply becoming smut.

"Some friend," Kitty muttered, not even bothering to look beyond the main message this time. She smiled triumphantly as her tracing programs started to return information. She logged it, started reading the codes, and then turned quite pink in sudden surprise and anger. "You've got to be kidding me," she muttered, then exited her office. She wandered about Engineering idly, glancing around, noting who was there and who wasn't, then retreated to her office and opened a comm channel. =/\= Black to Petrova, sorry to interrupt your vacation...=/\=

=/\= That was over about ten minutes ago, Lieutenant. What can I do for you ? =/\= Petrova replied, sounding fresh and awake.

=/\= Uhm... =/\= Kitty was significantly less frightened of the XO than the last email victim, and a little less apt to blurt out exactly what was going on. =/\=I've got a small break in that case that Evans is doing for you. And apparently, I also have 'a friend'.=/\= That last part was said rather wryly. =/\=We should probably meet somewhere private.=/\=

=/\= .. Got an e-mail, did you ? Alright .. My quarters, five minutes from now. =/\= Kristiana replied. as she sighed softly and shook her head a bit. first Evans, now Black - two people she'd hoped didn't get those messages. Evans for obvious reasons, and Black because she didn't want to embarrass her shy engineering friend.

=/\=I'll be there,=/\= Kitty said, and closed the channel without further ceremony. Ever since that incident in the Academy that involved her instructor laughing himself sick, she had vowed to never end a comm channel message with "Black out" again.

Unfortunately, it took a full ten minutes for the Chief Engineer to get herself unlost. She finally pressed the doorchime of the quarters that she dearly hoped belonged to Petrova.

It was indeed Petrova's quarters. She opened the door, dressed in her uniform, looking entirely herself again. "You're late .. Come in, have a seat, have something to drink .." As she sat down as well. ".. And tell me what you've got."

"It's good to see you.. well... looking 'back'," Kitty said, smiling, as she found herself a spot to sit. "Juice please, cran-apple, nice and cold. Yeah, I offered to help Evans track down your gremlin. For this message, he used a terminal in Engineering. I suppose I'll have to suspect my whole group now."

"Engineering, eh ?" Petrova repeated as she set Kitty's drink down for her. "Well, that would explain the difficulty in tracing the messages." She sighed a bit. "Do you know who ?"

"Nope," Kitty said. "Not yet, anyways. A little detective work should help narrow it down. I took a look around just after receiving it, so I can verify that the only people out there slightly less than a minute after it was sent were the regular day staff. I'd be very surprised if Williams had anything to do with it. I know that's not a lot, but hopefully it helps." She took a long, deep sip, during which over half the ice cold cranapple juice disappeared, and then held up her hand absent-mindedly, silently counting down from four. Then she made a colossally wry face.

Kristiana nodded a bit, taking a sip of her own drink - the same what kitty was having. "So ... Did you .. Look at the pics ?" She asked, curious to her friend's opinion. "What did you think ?" she smiled.

Kitty shook her head. "I didn't bother, I already knew what they were," she said calmly, sipping more slowly from her juice now. "Evans told me. Poor guy, he looked like he'd seen a ghost. The last time I saw his face that white, we were in the process of crashing an Electra into the ocean."

Kris nodded a bit, disappointed that Kitty didn't even look at them, now that they'd been sent her way anyways. "Ah well." She smiled. "I hope you aren't mad at me for .. Some of the things I said to him."

"Nuts as necktie?" Kitty simply asked, raising one eyebrow in a maneuver worthy of a Vulcan.

"That's the one." Kris nodded. "I had to get his attention SOME way. He'd already hung up on me twice and shouted to the entire bridge crew that he'd been looking at pictures of me, nude." She smirked.

Kitty chuckled. She couldn't help it. "He told me he feels you're perfectly capable of following up on your threats." Then she leaned back in her chair a bit, turning more serious. "When I was at the academy, I was approached by a.... company... that wanted... well.... they offered me a lot of money. It was some sort of 'student edition' thing for their magazine."

".. Go on ?" Kristiana said, shifting a bit to look at her friend, puling her knees up, feet on the couch.

Kitty chuckled a little, sheepishly, and shook her head. "I didn't. But I thought about it. It was flattering, you know? That they thought I looked that good. And I kind of... well... wanted to show the world that I wasn't just an engineering geekette, cello and all. I wanted to prove that I was sexy. But I just couldn't imagine what my grandmother would say... and the look that my grandfather might get on his face... so I put the thought right out of my head, and within a month I'd forgotten I even had the offer."

Kris chuckled, and nodded. "It was about the same for me. I was approached by a local editor for that magazine, he said he'd wanted my pictures, and he'd pay me for them. And .. Well, I did it. I'm still proud of those pics. It's just a shame that somebody would use them as a weapon. You know, I .. Really wouldn't mind if you did look at them and told me what you thought .. Well, if you are comfortable with that, of course."

Kitty smiled and shook her head. "I couldn't. I don't have anything to compare them with anyways. I just, you know... don't look at pictures like that. What does Ryylar think of them?"

"He's far too hung up on the fact that they EXIST to even think about telling me what he thought of them." Kristiana sighed, glancing away. That was a sore spot with her, but she wasn't going to tell Ryylar that. Those pictures had caused enough trouble between the two. "I do know he likes my naked body though - the way I am now - all old and .. not as well shaped as I was back then." She smirked softly.

".. Did Evans say anything about them ?"

"Uh, yeah," Kitty said uncomfortably, trying to squelch a spurt of jealousy in her little maiden heart. "He looked like he was going to have a heart attack... but he said that they were very beautiful."

"well, that's a compliment." She smiled. "Especially from him .. He has great taste. I mean, he loves you .. Adores you. Worships you. Everything about you. That tells me he has great taste, so I'm just going to take this little compliment.

"Yeah," Kitty admitted with a chuckle that was somehow both pleased and wry at the same time. "He told me that I'm the goddess of cute and innocence." She sighed slightly, then smiled, sipping at her drink again. "You can keep the compliment, it's ok."

"Just don't be upset at him, alright ? He doesn't love you any less and doesn't find you any less beautiful because of any of this." Kristiana spoke, resting a hand on Kitty's knee. "In fact, I think something like this would only make him realize more how much you mean to him."

Kitty shook her head. "I'm not upset. He made a beautiful recovery." She smiled. "But it did make me wonder what would've happened... if I'd taken that guy up on his offer."

"Nobody can tell for certain." Kristiana shrugged a bit. "And I can only tell you what my reaction would be to them - not your family's or Evans' or - well, yes, I could tell you Caelen's."

"Now I'm curious," Kitty said, a sparkle of mischief in her eyes.

"Caelen would tell you the same thing he did me. That he judges his crew on how they work, not what they did in the past." Kristiana smiled. "And I would look at them and appreciate them for what they are - artful representations of a beautiful female body. Just like you have. Just like I used to have, back when I was your age."

"I don't know what Evans would say," Kitty said slowly. "I'm kind of glad that I won't have to know if he'd be disappointed. I knew my grandparents would've been disappointed. But I know that if I asked him what he'd think if I'd have done it, he would give me that panicked look that guys get when they don't know whether or not to speak their mind." She smiled slyly.

Petrova laughed at that and nodded. "Yeah, I know that look all too well." She smiled, finishing her drink. "I love making Ryylar look that way. He gets the cutest wrinkle around his nose when he does."

"Ronald just gets this look in his eyes and the rest of his face freezes around it," Kitty chuckled. Then she shook her head. "That's mean of me," she said. "I've felt a little.. different.. since we got back from that Halloween party. The Q thing. Oh, I know I'm entirely myself. But if I think back a little, I can remember what it was like to be a little braver and a lot more reckless."

"I see no reason why you shouldn't keep some of that, Kitty." Petrova spoke. "That thing what Q put us through, it's enough to change any person. I know I'm changed, and I know how, too .."

Kitty tilted her head a little, cutely, then asked. "How?"

"I think I'm a bit more quiet now. A bit more open .. Less hesitant or afraid to show my feelings, to show affection to people I care about .. to smile, and appreciate the little things." Kristiana smiled. "Become more human, I think .. "

"If that's so," Kitty said thoughtfully, "then it's done you good and not evil." She smiled. "Well.... yeah, I'd better get back to work. Oh, now that you know it came from Engineering, is there going to be an investigation? Of the people there?"

Kris shook her head a bit. "Nah .. On what ground ? Those pictures are public, and sending them to other people isn't a crime. It's not exactly standard operating procedure, but at most we can grab him for using station's facilities to distribute porn, and maybe insulting a ranking officer. All in all, I don't have much to go on, really."

"Ok," Kitty said. "But I'm going to keep an eye on traffic from Engineering, because if this escalates, or if I find someone in my department spreading nude pictures about on work time...." For the first time, she looked for just a moment like someone who could be feared. Then she smiled and all that innocent friendliness came back. "Let me know how it goes, 'kay? Thanks for the drink!"

Kris smiled, as she slipped off the couch and rose to her feet again. "You're welcome. Keep up the good work, let me know what you find, alright ?"

Kitty chuckled and nodded, then stepped forward to give her friend a big hug. "Don't let the turkeys get you down, eh? You've been handling this all admirably."

"I've had my little vacation." Kristiana spoke as she held Kitty close for a few moments. "I'm back and strong enough to deal with this. Officially I might not have much to pin this guy on, but as a person and a woman I know damn well how to 'handle' this guy when I get my hands on him."

"Evans told me," Kitty said mischievously, as she patted Kris on the back and went to the door, "that he'd reward this guy for being 'a friend' by helping find him and then letting you carry out your threat on the perpetrator... assuming it's a guy."

"It has to be." Petrova responded. "Gut feeling. It's a guy." As she headed for the exit, she needed to get back to Main Ops.

Kitty parted from Petrova in the hallway as she began the process of getting lost on her way back to Main Engineering.


Lt Cmdr Kristiana Petrova Executive Officer Starbase Ronin (SB47) "More human than ever."

Lt. Kathleen Black Chief Engineer and Goddess of Innocent Cuteness Starbase Ronin