USS VINDEX - NCC-2474-A
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The Chase Begins

Posted on Sat Jan 28th, 2017 @ 6:16am by Major Storr Garlake

Mission: S1E3.5 - Interlude
Location: USS Vindex (Deck 20)- Junior Officer Quarters
Timeline: Mission Day 20: 1800

"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself."

Storr's eyes re-read the quotation by John Stuart Mill, a nineteenth-century Earth philosopher, before gently closing the book and placing it on the pile to his left. The stack of books contained military theory by Jomini and Clausewitz; philosophy by Stoics; and poetry by Whitman, Breytenbach, Byron, and more. His time at Sandhurst opened his mind to thinkers of the past but he only hoped to be able to understand them. Truth be told, as much as the Afrikaaner took away from these historical authors, he equally enjoyed the reprieve they afforded him from his paperwork.

Ah, paperwork...the job isn't done until the paperwork's complete. Quartermaster reports of used consumables, lost equipment, injury reports sustained during the fighting, after-action reports, decorations, personnel performance reports, letters to two sets of parents thanking them for the service and valiant sacrifice of their sons. It didn't stop and it didn't get any easier. The honor ceremonies in the Marine team room for their lost comrades had come too soon after the previous one and there were fewer dry eyes than their previous time together.

The MCO sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose between his eyes as he envisioned the two pictures that now accompanied Lance Corporal Blake. Death was a real part of their job but that didn't mean that losing someone under his command was ever something he expected, let alone hoped would be simple. The worse part, he supposed, was that both of them died while not under his direct supervision. He didn't really blame Tolan and Bella; they had performed exemplary given the situation. Still, he wished that he could have been there so that he could have had more of a personal role in their passing. He, after all, was their commander and responsible for their well-being. Right? He shook his head as he cleared his mind. Yes, but his presence wouldn't have made their passing any easier. At least he hoped so.

Captain Garlake sighed as he scrawled his signature on the last PADD. Looking at the chronometer, he tapped his foot on the ground. Storr didn't want to put off what he knew he needed to do, but...

Standing, the Marine CO exited his office. He had one last mission, and this time it was personal.




Storr waited outside Counselor Maera's room, imagining himself the nervous schoolboy. Here he was, the MCO, standing in the junior officer quarters deck for all intents and purposes, "robbing the cradle". *What does it matter?* he thought, standing up straighter and reaching for the call button just astride the Ensign's nameplate. What mattered was that he knew what he wanted and that he meant to obtain it.

His finger depressed the button firmly, eliciting a barely audible chime within.

There was only one visitor who would be stopping by at this hour, and Jaya did not need her empathic ability to know who. Women's intuition alone could feel the tempest on the other side of the door. She took a moment to press her uniform into its most flattering position before opening the door.

Garlake took an involuntary breath and entered the room. Surveying his surroundings, he was immediately put at ease by the calming (though subtly otherworldly) decor and disarming smile of the Deltan before him.

"Good evening, Counselor," the MCO said with a genuinely pleasant smile. He was glad to see her, and hoped that this meeting would go as well as he had played it in his head hundreds of times over.

"Good evening, Captain Garlake." Jaya dipped her head in greeting, then raised her chin to present a sly smirk to the taller man. "Won't you come in?"

She raised her hand in welcome, then let her fingers trail the air from her dangling hand as she turned around and went back inside. She put extra sway to her hips as encouragement for Storr to follow.

Garlake was many things, though at this moment "man" was near the top of the list as his eyes happily rested on the Ensign's various...redeeming qualities. He gladly followed the counselor further into the room, her splayed fingers seemingly leaving eddies of energy in their wake.

When she had reached the center of the room, Jaya made a sharp about-face, her countenance turning from flirtatious to all business.
"I can only assume that you are here to render your decision with my proposal." She folded her arms under her breasts. Her kind face masking her eyes which pierced as daggers. "Well?"

Storr blinked as the warmth of attraction he had previously felt turned to lead in his stomach. He had thought that HE was the vacillating one but could the positions have been reversed?

Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and lowered his face for a moment before raising back up and meeting Maera's gaze. "Ensi...Jaya, I want you to know that I've given this significant thought, so don't think that it was hastily come to under your influence. You desperately need a release for your mental and physical yearnings and I want to meet that need. But you must realize that there is more, much more to this. While your proposal is a facade relationship to uphold some level of perceived propriety, I crave the real thing. I don't commit to half-efforts in my life and until now, I didn't realize that marriage was one of the things that has been missing in it." Storr took a step closer to Jaya, the heat and desire from her body radiating against him, his blood pumping faster in a seeming reply. He desperately pushed down his body's primal response to the nubile young woman only inches away from him, needing to keep his head clear at least until the end of his pronouncement.

"When the time comes, I'm going to publicly ask for your hand in marriage and with that I expect all of you, no exceptions. You will be my wife and I will be your husband; there will be no secrets, no separate rooming arrangements, nothing held back and no returning to Delta IV. In return, I promise you my undying devotion, love, adoration, praise, and intimacy." For all intents and purposes, he was asking for her hand here-and-now...or was he? No, he was setting the boundaries of their courtship by defining the end-goal. It was bold, foolish even. Still, Storr knew that expectation management was critical and if you didn't know where you were headed, you'd never arrive.

As he looked deeply into the deep, piercing brown well of the counselor's eyes, he hoped beyond hope that she understood what he...and she, was asking.

Jaya listened to Storr's words, hating them for their sincerity which she could not deny. "Do you understand, Storr, that I could never love you? If I ever let myself go completely and touched another soul with the full weight of who I am... Storr, I am so ashamed." She hung her head, though she kept her tears subdued. "I will please you and honor you, Storr, but don't make me love you. Please. Were anything to happen..."

The lead in his stomach began to melt, then percolate as he thought back to his resolution on Gavara and the horse analogy that he realized this relationship would be. "Jaya," he said, reaching up and cupping her cheek in his hand, his attempts at keeping the swirling tempest of emotions from crossing through his skin mostly failing, "You can love me, and I think that you will love me, you just don't know it yet. You can't imagine allowing yourself to love me but you've never been up against a hardheaded Starfleet Marine, either."

He smiled warmly as he continued. "And yes, I DO know what could happen if you were to let yourself go completely to me. But if I were to die in your loving embrace consummating our marriage, is that not my choice? Are you not being selfish by not allowing me the ability to chose for myself what risk I will take in my pursuit of you? Just...give me this chance. Please."

The sincerity was hard to deny. Jaya knew the very premise of what she was suggesting was wrong, but she had already reeled Storr in. What would it say about her to bring him to this point only to back out now? No, nothing had changed since she first put herself on this course and set events into motion. She was unstable, and even a pretense of marriage would save her homecoming among her family compared to the infidelity of being an oathbreaker.

Jaya put her arms around Storr's shoulders and hopped up to wrap her legs around his waist. Staring at him eye to eye, holding him around the neck, she allowed herself a smile. "I suppose we both are risking everything. What is the expression? 'In for a penny, in for a pound'?"

To say that Jaya's reaction was not what he anticipated would be an understatement. To say that he didn't enjoy it would also be one.

The young Deltan was quite light and it was no effort at all to snake his arms around her hips and hold her close. His heart started to pound as the playful, though intimate embrace made him very aware of every curve from her ankles to breasts. The simple heat from their bodies made his temperature rise as he felt his cheeks flush. Her sparkling, playful eyes didn't help matters, either.

Before Storr could reply, she kissed his words into gibberish. His lips fought against hers for just a moment, but she persisted until they surrendered in synchronous motion with hers. Her hand slid up the back of his head and grasped his hair. The shake of his quivering legs only confirmed what she already felt through their kiss.

Stars...he saw so many stars he thought that his mind was swimming in the center of the galaxy, their lips pressing together seeming both so close and so far away. A playful, seductive smile more felt than seen toyed at the edges of his mind as his scalp sang in pleasure from the attention that it was receiving. Despite his strength, he felt his legs protesting not in pain, but pleasure.

Jaya pulled away from his lips and nibbled along his jawline. "I promise to be gentle," she whispered into his ear.

At that, Storr's legs gave out, and Jaya found herself crashing to the floor on top of him. She rolled over to the side, her mouth spread wide in hysterical laughter. When she could barely breathe, she turned back to Storr who still laid breathless himself, although for an entirely different reason. The sight rekindled her laughter all over again. She held her ribs until she laughed away her second wind.

Stars...stars so warm and bright...then blackness. But not like the blackness from before, the banishment from pleasantries. Garlake knew where he was, that Jaya's tinkling laughter was directed at their fanciful situation and that he was literally beside himself mentally. Suddenly, his breaths came back in heaving gulps, his eyes shooting open and bouncing about, trying to take in the entire room at once. Calming himself took several deep gasps as he rolled his head to the side so as to look into Jaya's face. Her heavenly, beautiful face.

Jaya forced herself to sit up and breathe before she hyperventilated. "Oh, yes. I will never forget that." She kept giggling, though she managed to hide her mouth behind the back of her hand. "Maybe we should go someplace more public. Have you had dinner?"

The MCO blinked as he literally willed his body to prop itself up on his elbow. Dinner...sounded good. Great even. "I think that that's an excellent idea," he said, now holding himself over her with his hands straddling her shoulders and lightly kissing her bald head, sending a short burst of stars again into his vision. He was beginning to feel an otherworldly need to be ever closer to her and for both their safeties at the moment, fresh air would do them well.

Jaya moaned beneath Storr's kisses, then bit her lip. "In that case, soldier boy, we'd better get a move on. You're buying."




Storr sat back, moving his napkin from his lap to the side of his nearly-licked-clean plate. The meal, as always, had been excellent. The company even more so. Looking across the table, he watched as Jaya demurely dabbed the napkin at her pursed lips, her eyes flickering upward to catch his as she tantalizingly ran her finger back over them, first the top and then the bottom. Storr bit his own lip as he covered his mouth with his hand before running it through his beard, hoping that the latter action covered over the former. It seemed his dinner partner was gladly taking every opportunity to continue feeding his sensual engine; his body in many places was nearly in pain from the tension.

"I can see that you really hate my cooking," Paul said, removing the two empty trays with a smile. Garlake nodded to the chef, returning the smile. "I wish you both many more nights here together," he said before leaving. Storr almost retorted back before realizing that the ship's cook really meant it. Taking a deep breath, the marine chuckled. Paul had never done that before. He was doomed now.

"I see we've made quite a sir," Jaya said. "Everybody's staring. Imagine the rumors we've started tonight."

Garlake looked around and indeed, there were a few furtive glances their direction now and then but they quickly broke contact as soon as the MCO glanced their way.

"You almost sound proud of yourself, Miss Maera," Storr said with a smile, it becoming all the wider as he felt her shoe seductively slide up and down his calf. "And if I didn't know any better, you're doing your best to make sure that those rumors are as salacious as possible."

"Now, now," she said coyly, "it's not as if we'll be seen leaving together. That would be improper. But the sooner we can be taken seriously, the sooner we can make it official." She shook her glass and found it empty. "After tonight's appetizer, my appetite is whet for the main course." She snatched Storr's glass out from in front of him, put her straw in it, and sipped the last.

Storr blinked at her words, his heart pounding in his ears. Surely she didn't...that minx! Well, two could play at that game. Captain Garlake leaned over towards her, his frame covering up most of the table as he lowered his voice in reply to the Deltan. "Well, thirsts can be slaked in a multitude of ways, Jaya...be sure you're specific," He winked slyly and barely resisted the urge to kiss her before pushing up from the table and nodding, bringing two fingers up to his forehead as if tipping an invisible cap. He sucked in a breath as well, given that his vantage afforded quite more...viewing pleasure.

"Counselor." With that, the MCO left, a whistle on his lips and a spring in his step.

Jaya sat alone for several moments to ensure several witnesses could verify she had not left with Captain Garlake. She would even file a report or two from her office before going back to her quarters, just for good measure.

Sitting alone with her thoughts, Jaya looked down from the door which had long closed behind Storr and wrung her hands together. This was a dangerous game they were playing. In fact, she realized the game was over -- they were no longer playing. As mad as it sounded in her own mind, she was beginning to fall in love with a brute of a human.

One of the kitchen staff began to bus the table next to hers, pretending not to ogle her. She cast him a wink, which nearly made him drop the dirty plate in his hand, before returning to her thoughts.

Should they succeed in their plan, the battle for acceptance would still be an uphill one. That made her want to drag out the courtship, but that could prove disastrous. Even a single slip up, and her home would become little more than a memory.

 

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