Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Officers Mess - Side Sim
Posted by Lieutenant Commander Zef Rollo (Counselor) in Officers Mess - Side Sim
Posted by Captain Alexander Cochrane (Commanding Officer) in Officers Mess - Side Sim
Posted by… suppressed (2) by the Post Ghost! 👻
Since Cochrane had sent word ahead of their arrival, the officers mess was empty and spotless. Harv was the only person present—just in case. Zef wondered what good a chef would be against a pirate, but she didn’t question the Captain. Besides, Kalig would arrive with a security detail, so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about. She scoffed at herself internally. How could she NOT worry when a man had traveled to the Delta quadrant to find her?
It had been almost seven years since she’d actually seen Kalig and she found herself wondering if he’d changed much. “Captain, I really don’t know why he’s here, but whatever the reason, it can’t be good. He’s the kind of man who rarely does something if there is nothing to be gained. He’s also very clever and a master of manipulation. I watched him interact with Broggs for years and even though they were brothers, there was constant competition and rivalry between them.”
Rollo paced a small area trying to work out some of her anxiety.
He watched her place and finally said “Then you better get yourself together, Counselor. If he is as you say, him seeing you like this will likely play into whatever he has in store for us.”
Zef stopped pacing and nodded. She closed her eyes and took several deep breaths in an attempt to change her energy from nervous to calm. A moment later, she clasped her hands behind her back and stood ready to meet her brother-in-law, no matter what he had to say.
The security detail brought Kalig in, and his face lit up as soon as he saw Rollo, his arms stretched out from his side, and he would have embraced her if the security detail hadn’t stopped him. “There you are, dear sister, it’s been far too long.”
As Kalig reached out, Zef found herself taking an involuntary step backwards away from him. Luckily, the security team did their job and kept him from making contact with her.
To anyone who didn’t know him, the pleasure on his face would seem quite genuine, and the smile didn’t leave his face as he turned to the Captain. “And you must be the illustrious Captain Cochrane; I’ve been following your career very closely.” That was half-true. Before a few weeks ago he’d never heard of Alexander Cochrane, but when he’d found out that Rollo was aboard the Manhattan, he’d spend a great deal of time, and credits to find out everything he could about her new Captain.
Light eyes surveyed him in silence. He’d changed in the years since they’d last seen each other. His body had filled out and become more toned and his eyes were lit with intelligence and cunning. He wasn’t exactly different than Zef remembered, he was just ‘more’. She gave him a nod of acknowledgement while keeping her emotions in check.
Cochrane stood and nodded. “Mr. Marrov, I take it. Please… be seated. Refreshments will be arriving shortly.” and he sat down, his chair the only the facing the door. He gestured to the middle chair for Rollo and the chair opposite him, back to the door, for Marrov.
Zef would have preferred to keep more distance between them but the Captain was calling the shots now so she took the chair between the two men and forced herself to sit with a relaxed posture.
“So tell me, Mr. Marrov… what brings you to the Manhattan today?” Cochrane was cordial and polite, but professional.
Kalig relaxed into the chair, and allowed the silence for hang for just long enough for it to become uncomfortable, before he talked suddenly and energetically. “A fine question Captain, what indeed?” His eyes locked on Zev. “You are no fool Captain Cochrane, so I won’t do you the disrespect of treating you as one, I am here to talk to your Counsellor about a matter concerning Bajeen tradition, and Bajeen law.” His voice was level, but Zev would know that by referring to both tradition -and- law, he was sending her a veiled message. -I know what you did- he was saying -but they don’t.-
OOC: Zef, not Zev :)
White brows pulled down in a frown of confusion. Tradition…law? What was he on about? She returned Kalig’s stare. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. What could possibly make you come all the way to the Delta quadrant and what does it have to do with me?” As she waited for his answer, Rollo searched her mind for something that might make sense, but came up empty.
Kalig grinned, but there was no light in his eyes. “Such hostility, dear sister, it’s almost as if you’re not happy to see me.” His tone didn’t change, but of course he know that that was because Zef was absolutely -not- happy to see him. He turned his gaze back to the Captain “Tell me, Captain Cochrane, do -you- in your position as a Starfleet Captain, believe in the importance of respecting native traditions and custom?”
Cochrane looked at Marrov and said “As a Star Fleet officer I have a duty to respect the cultural traditions and customs of every race, Mr. Marrov… provided said customs and traditions do not run contradictory to Federation law. That is what each civilization agrees to when they sign the Federation Charter and become a member. Everyone has to give a little to get along.” Cochrane’s tone and words were still professional, but there was a certain resiliency in the way he said it that suggested he was not a fan of the question.
The smile did not fade from Kalig’s face as the Captain spoke. “Spoke like a true paragon of the Federation.” He said, with barely concealed sarcasm. “It’s very human of you Captain, to say so much, and yet commit to so very little.” Everyone knew that the Federation often failed to live up to its own, self-proclaimed, morality, but Kalig wasn’t here to put the crimes of Starfleet to rights.
His eyes drifted back to Zef. “Back to the subject of laws and traditions. It is well known that you were married to my dear, departed brother.” Again his tone was mildly sarcastic, Zef would know that the brothers had never directly opposed each other, but there had been little in the way of fraternal love between them.
She wasn’t willing to give even an inch of goodwill. “I doubt it is ‘well known’, Kalig. Besides you and your father, I doubt anyone even cares about it. Besides, Broggs is dead so what can that union possibly have to do with you being here?” Zef kept her voice calm—she’d had years to perfect a professional tone that sounded mildly interested. She wasn’t immune to emotion though. Watching her brother-in-law sitting there so confidently, made her anxiety level rise. He seemed very sure of whatever had brought him to the Manhattan and that kind of conviction made Zef wonder what she might not know.
Kalig smiled, enjoying the moment. He let it hang in the air for a second longer, letting her dwell on where he was going, on what he knew, knowing her well enough to know it would torment her. He savoured it. The smile didn’t leave his face as he leaned back and looked at the ceiling, before leaning forwards and banging the table suddenly and enthusiastically. “It’s thirsty work this, Captain, any word on those promised refreshments?”
Cochrane’s eyes never left the man, and he waved off the inquiry with a dismissive gesture. “Oh, I’m sure the chef is making sure everything is just right. Do continue, Mr. Marrov. Surely coming all this way to see the Commander means the matter is somewhat pressing… for you, any way.”
Kalig’s face didn’t change as his eyes met the Captain’s once again. “Oh I can assure you Captain Cochrane, it’s a pressing matter for all concerned.” He turned his attention back to Zef. “You are of course aware that you had no children with my brother…” He trailed off again, wondering if it would all click together for her now, or if she’d continue playing the fool for the benefit of the Captain.
Zef actually scoffed. “That can’t be a serious question! Of course, I’m aware of having had no children! I’m pretty sure I would have noticed a child growing inside of me.” She looked at Cochrane. “This is ridiculous, Captain. Just send him back to the Kestra and let’s be done with whatever game he’s playing.” She scooted her chair back from the table abruptly and stood. “I won’t allow the Marrov’s to play with my life any more than they already have!”
The Security detail started to step forward from the door, but Cochrane waved them off. His voice was calm… but firm. “Enough.” and he looked at Rollo. “Counselor, please take a moment to compose yourself and then return.” He looked at her and just nodded once. She was part of the crew. And she of anyone would know what that meant. He turned his gaze to Marrov and said simply and flatly “Tell me why are you here, specifically, and do it now. I am not in the mood for more banter, Mister Marrov.” Cochrane’s hands were folded in front of him on the table, and his look was one of finality.
That had been very unprofessional of her. Zef looked up toward the ceiling and closed her eyes, willing a stillness inside of her that would allow her to continue in the meeting without another outburst. Mentally, she called up a memory that always calmed her and she wrapped it around herself like an invisible blanket. As the two men stared at each other across the table, Zef finally retook her chair and turned to Cochrane. “I apologize, Captain. I lost my temper for a moment but it won’t happen again. This man has nothing to do with my life now.”
Kalig watched the entire exchange with great satisfaction. When the Captain spoke, the smile did not fade from his face, but his eyes went very cold. “Careful Captain.” He said levelly “I’m not one of your subordinates, and I can assure you that you don’t want this meeting to get unfriendly.” The meeting was already unfriendly of course, despite Kalig’s feigned warmth, there was no affection between him and those who sat opposite him.
At that Cochrane chuckled. “No, you are not one of my subordinates. But you are on my ship so check your tone. Now please… do continue.”
When Zef sat down again, Kalig returned to his stance of faux bonhomie. “There, all settled again.” He leaned forwards, propping himself up on his elbows as he locked eyes with Zef once more. “Now, to the matter at hand.” He said, as though it hadn’t been him who had been delaying. “You married my dear departed brother, and failed to produce any offspring with him, you have acknowledged that openly, and freely, although not without a little passion, I must say.” He said sarcastically, unable to resist the urge to poke her a little.
He let the silence hang for just a moment “Therefore, by the ancient laws of our people, upon the death of my poor, childless brother, your marriage oath bound you to me.” This was technically true, just as traditional Human wedding ceremonies were full of phrases promising honour and obedience, Bajeen marriage vows could be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of one partner dying before children were produced, then the remaining partner would be bonded to a sibling of the deceased. It was an old law, but what Kalig was saying was technically correct.
Cochrane listened and when Marrov finished, he just sat. He looked towards the Counselor and said “Is that a correct assessment, Counselor?” Cochrane seemed wholly nonplussed by the revelation.
At first, Zef was too surprised to do anything except sit in stunned silence, but as the seconds rolled by her brain worked furiously to process the meaning of what Kalig had said. Oathbound? Because of Broggs? As she searched her mind for any information she might have ever learned about the ‘ancient law’, her gaze lowered to the table top, a solid, inanimate object that wouldn’t challenge her stare. The moment felt unreal.
Eventually, she turned to Cochrane. “I don’t know what he’s talking about. I have no knowledge of any law like that.” Thinking back, Zef realized Kalig started following her not long after Broggs’ death. If she added 2+2 it should equal 4, but there was too much at stake for her to just give in. She pinched the bridge of her nose to ward off a headache that was fast approaching behind her eyes.
“What’s the real reason you’re here, Kalig? Even this law you speak of is true, no one is worth the time or effort you’ve put in to find me.” Her gaze shifted back to the Captain. “There has to be something else, Sir.”
—Rollo, CNS (and chattel?)
Kalig smiled and moved his hands out from his sides, in a slight shrug “Is it really too impossible to believe that a beauty such as yourself is not reason enough to cross the stars?” Charming though those words were, they were clearly nonsense, no woman, no matter how attractive, was worth the effort he’d put in to find her, but he wasn’t ready to reveal the real reasons yet. He was first and foremost a businessman, and if he could acquire what he needed without the need to resort to trickery, then he’d do it.
Zef just rolled her eyes. His question was too ridiculous for her to even answer.
Cochrane looked at Marrov and said “Mr. Marrov… you are on this ship at my pleasure. Now I asked you to speak your case plainly. I will not ask again. So please… choose your next words quite carefully and stop playing pointless games.” He then tapped something into the PaDD sitting on the table next to him before looking back at Marrov.
Good, Cochrane was losing patience with the mercenary so he would make sure to get to the bottom of the visit. It seemed Kalig wasn’t going to give her a straight answer about why he was there, but maybe the Captain could get a better response. She sat at the table in silence, looking at the Bajeen male with a visage that left no doubt she didn’t believe him so far.
Kalig observed the wall of hostility with great amusement. “Oh you Starfleet types really are no fun.” He leaned back in the chair. “I have -told- you why I am here. For -her-.” He pointed contemptuously at Zef. “Is the Federation so lost that it trains its officers to be blind to the truth when it’s presented to them?”
Cochrane leaned back and looked at Marrov, crossing his arms on his chest. He looked at him in silence for a long time as if weighing something and then coming to a conclusion.
Looking at the man, he said simply “And now you will now expound on that. Yes we are aware that your arrival has something to do with the Commander and some law you have mentioned but have yet to explain. So unless you do so… and do so now… you will be taken back to your vessel. Your choice. But I won’t waste any more time with this unless you can provide something other than your questionable word that you have some kind of request to submit.”
Sitting between the two men, Zef felt unsettled. The Captain was not amused by Marrov’s explanation, and his lack of patience was apparent. Likewise, Kalig was not going to give up one iota more than he had to in order to achieve whatever goal he was there to fulfill. After unconsciously licking her lips in preparation, she was compelled to speak.
“Captain, as I said, I know nothing about this law he speaks of, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real. I can contact a friend back on Baj who can look into the legalities that might bind me to Kalig, but that will take some time—a few weeks, perhaps. If it turns out he’s making the whole thing up, then he and his ship can be on their way.” Her hands rested on the table with fingers laced together. The index fingers straightened and she pressed the length of them together while forming the next words. “If by some weird quirk of fate what he says is true, then I’ll have a decision to make. I’ve told you how important the Bajeen way of life was to my mother? Because of her, its also important to me, so I can’t just negate his claim while he’s so insistent, without knowing more.” Rollo hadn’t looked at Kalig during her statement, but she was very aware of his presence throughout the whole thing. How would her life change if she were really oath bound to the mercenary? Would she go along with it if Ganro Fleg told her it was all true? Questions that didn’t have answers yet, but ones she’d be thinking about in great detail over the next few weeks.
Kalig smiled ruefully, giving the outward appearance that he was being forced into an unpleasant compromise, whilst in reality, he was delighted that she had presented such a diplomatic solution, as hard headed as he was, Kalig knew that if he had to the force the issue, he’d have made an enemy of Starfleet, and even -he- wasn’t dense enough to belive that was worth it.
“There, you see Captain? The Counselor plays the diplomat after all. I have no other engagements, so I’m more than happy to remain aboard. As a sign of good faith, I’ll even order the Kestra off, so that there’s no room for…misunderstanding.” He chose the word very carefully. The Kestra was no match for the Manhattan in a stand up fight, but she was a nasty little ship and could cause a lot of damage if need be.
Cochrane looked at Marrov and asked “As you are so willing to see your ship sent off, I can infer you have no real business in the quadrant. So you will depart my vessel and the Manhattan and one of our sister ships will escort you directly to the Event Horizon Station. You will dock, and we will continue this discussion with an official representative from the Bajeen homeworld and the Federation Diplomatic Corps. Failure on your part to do as instructed will be taken as a breach of your official requwst and myself and the Commander will assume you have lost interest in pursuing your claim, and I will ensure that the Federation Diplomats are aware of the cessation of said claim. Now, then. As this is obviously a law that is not in common use, and its use now will interfere with the Commander’s duties and her ability to exercise her own free-will, the situation will need to be decided by a more official authority than the three of us.” and he looked up at the Security Detail at the door.
“Escort Mr. Marrov to the transporter room and send him back to his ship immediately.” and he stood up. “The Vigilante will be arriving here in a few minutes. We will escort you to the station. Any questions, Mr. Marrov?”
That escalated a lot faster than Zef thought it would. A surprise ‘visit’ from a man in her past was suddenly more than an elephant in the room and Cochrane wanted to make it an even bigger deal. She held up a hand, palm facing Kalig so he wouldn’t just start blurting threats that had no place in the conversation. “Captain, please, this is a personal matter that can be settled between Mr Marrov and myself.” Her focus was solely on Cochrane. “I’m sorry this is happening right now. Even Kalig knows It should have been handled MUCH differently, but this is where we are now. I’d rather handle it at this level than turn it into a circus with Bajeen officials and such. Besides, if we have to wait for dignitaries to arrive, think how long it will all take.”
Vochrane halted the security detail with a gesture.
Zef folded her hands on the table again. She was embarrassed about the situation and hated pleading in what surely looked like Kalig’s favor, but the situation was getting way out of hand and she was trying to put out some of the fires. “If you would allow me a few days to contact Ganro and then hear back from him, I would be in your debt.”
Ultimately, the decision was the Captain’s. His command, his ship, his crew. Zef took a deep breath and let it out slowly and silently. She didn’t want Kalig’s claim hanging over her head until the next time she set foot on Baj, but if Cochrane said ‘no’, that’s exactly what would happen.
Cochrane looked at Rollo, and his displeasure at the situation was more than evident. He was quiet a moment, but finally inclined his head to the Counselor and said “Fine.” and he looked at Marrov. “Your ship will remain where it is, Mr. Marrov. You can wait on it. Once Commander Rollo has her answer, I will contact you and we will… discuss… the options. Now if you dont mind…” and he motined again for the escort.
Kalig smiled and shrugged, as though accepting defeat “All right Captain, I’ll go back aboard.” His eyes turned to Zef “I do hope it doesn’t take too long.” He turned away without another word, allowing himself to be escorted back to the transporter room, and from there, the Kestra.
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