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We Meet Again

Posted on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 @ 3:32pm by Lieutenant Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell & Commander Andrew Matheson

Mission: The Black Rose of Winter's Embrace
Location: Just Outside of Conference Room 138 Delta
Timeline: Post Briefing

As the attending crew exited the conference room and headed off to their respective destinations, Rosaleen's attention was focused on only one individual. She had tried to talk herself out of it several times during the meeting, but knew that was pointless. They had to interact at some point. She knew that pulling away as she had was in his best interest, but that had not made it any easier.

'Here goes nothing.' The air chilled around Rosaleen as she approached the walking figure from behind. She move beside him and matched his stride before speaking. "So...hi." Was all she could manage.

Andrew felt the slight change in ambient temperature as someone fell into step beside him. That fairly quickly narrowed it down to two people, and the voice narrowed it down to one. He knew this conversation was going to have to happen sooner or later; they both interacted with the captain enough where professional interaction was unavoidable. Better to see where he stood now. "Hello, Commander. As always, a pleasure to see you again." His eyes showed more of a smile than his face did; he was definitely a bit distracted and nervous.

The air chilled a bit more at Andrews formal use of her rank. "Yes. You as well." She chewed on her lower lip a moment before continuing. "So, how have you been?" She was resisting the urge to run away...anywhere would do.

He took a moment to collect his thoughts on that subject. "All things accounted for, it's been all right. Other than that month of basically not sleeping because every time I closed my eyes for five minutes, another diplomatic snafu blew up. I think that was right about the time you were heading back to Sol Sector." He turned his head to look more at Rosaleen. "Which, given the interesting new vessel you came back in... There's got to be some stories there. How have you been?" His face softened appreciably with the next sentence.

"I've missed you, you know. And if you didn't, well, now you do."

Rosaleen stopped, placing a cold hand on Andrew's arm to stop his progress as well. "No...I did not. I swore to myself to stay out of your head. It wouldn't be...well, fair."

Andrew stopped. "I appreciate the sentiment and the restraint. I also made reference to that state of affairs in at least the last four messages I sent you." He'd gotten himself back under control; his expression and tone were actually coming off as pleasant. "But since you're here now and have heard it, I'll consider that kanar out of the bottle at this point. How have you been?"

She looked up at Andrew. "To be honest, lonely. I was away from everyone I know. Everyone that I....I care about. The work was good, and I learned a lot of new things. But I feel like I signed a pact with the Devil to do so." The air warmed up a bit. "It's really good to be back, Andrew. I've missed your presence." She cocked her head slightly. "I've missed you."

Andrew smiled. "It's good to have you back too. I wound up pretty much isolating myself after you left, not really by choice but because there was so much to do. Once that settled down into having nothing important to do, you were gone and I'd already burned my social bridges. So I sort of understand the pact with the Devil feeling." He chuckled. "And I learned a lot of new things and it was definitely good work. Just... tedious."

Rosaleen smiled, but it was a sad smile. "It almost pains me to say that I actually enjoyed what I was working on. The amount of development that took place during all of the conflicts really jumped things forward. The ship I rode escort on here is a great example." Rosaleen's smile took on a much warmer tone. "As part of the concept and design team, I looked at ways that ship could benefit diplomatic mission tasks, and that became one of the priories when laying out her deck plans. The facilities may not be as nice as the Merlin's were, but they are better than average."

Andrew chuckled. "I saw the ship when it came in. It's a nice change of pace to have recognition of diplomatic necessities be something other than the fastest engines, strongest shields, and triply redundant communications systems. If the ship's staying with us, I definitely need to check it out sometime."

Rosaleen warmed even more. "Actually, we are going to be keeping a pair of them here. For 'operational evaluation' purposes." She saw the look on Andrew's face and stifled a laugh. "What can I say. I still have some pull in the right places."

That was enough to prompt a full-on smile from Andrew. It was the first one he'd expressed in the last six months. "Given the mileage I've had to put on covering all the system consulates since you left, I really hope you convinced them to spring for the extended service plans. The larger conflicts have had everyone jumpy; I've probably visited each consulate half a dozen times in the last three years just to reassure some planetary governor that we are still committed to peace in the region and keeping the mostly imaginary knives from their throats. And the diplomatic shuttles are way to small to properly throw anything in when a mission goes sideways."

Rosaleen suddenly looked and felt as if she were far distant, and the air chilled. "It always seems that those who are given to task are the same that are often ignored or forgotten. Death graces our door more-so than those who would send us into the dark, oft to never return. So little is ever asked for, but even less is offered in return for keeping the darkness at reach. We of the first line are never given the due that not only we deserve, but is even required. Is our way into the dark always to be a singular voyage? When do we get to re-emerge into the light?" She lapsed into silence, the icy stillness of her being a mirror of her immediate surroundings, her breath an icy fog suspended in the air.

Andrew waited for a moment to ponder her words. Once he'd determined that she'd reached the end of her thought, he noticed the fog in the air and realized that there was another matter that needed tending. "I apparently have another mission to look forward to and a schedule to untangle. Silly me being assigned a personal assistant and actually thinking I would be able to get to have them assist me for more than a day before they get temporarily detached from my department. Would you care to continue our conversation in diplomat country?" The tone in his voice was casual, but his gaze was pointedly locked on the fog in the air.

Rosaleen seemed to normalize, although there was still a far away look in her eyes. "I would love to. Tell me, do you have any of those little chocolate goodies that you use at staff meetings floating around?"

Andrew chuckled. "I wouldn't admit this to most people, but yes, I do. It was a pain in the ass to get them for a while, but in the last year or so I've gotten my leverage back and my sources are willing to send them again. I've also got a few new tea recipes that the replicator does pretty well with, all things considered."

"Well then..." Rosaleen held out her arm for Andrew. " lead the way, good sir."

Andrew took the offered arm. "Don't worry. Like many other things, it's just where you left it." With that, they proceeded to
the diplomacy deck to catch up over tea and chocolate.

Lt Commander Rosaleen O'Donnell
Chief of Staff
Starbase 80


Commander Andrew Matheson
Chief Diplomatic Officer
Starbase 80


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