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Joint Log - Higgs/Elkhorn
A Fast Friend
She felt many eyes on her, a feeling she was used to. It would be that way for a while, until everyone got used to her. The woman was very tall for a human, and carried herself in a way that said she certainly knew it - even if she was a little self conscious about it - and played it off as though she didn’t stand out in the least. The cantina was a bustling place for those not on duty, usually, and today was no different. Riley had found herself a table on the far end of things next to a viewport that looked out into the stars. It was here she sat with a plate of rather delicious smelling food; a sort of dish she knew to be called Caldo Verde - made with potato, shredded kale, and chunks of chouriço. Simple in appearance, bold in flavor. It was cooling in front of her as she stared out into space. Being new was tough when you didn’t know many people.
Lieutenant Rayna Elkhorn hummed quietly to herself as she stepped into Six Forward Lounge. Her light green gaze surveyed the space, a nod given to Mike, the half-Tellurite bartender as he recognized the woman. The operations officer took quiet steps toward the bar as she waited for the barkeep to return with her drink - a frosted much of nearly black beer. Her eyes focused on the new face, her chin tilting slightly as she attempted to put a name to the woman. Nothing came and she smiled toward Mike in thanks as she picked up the mug and headed toward the table. She was still dressed in the golden uniform from her shift, the jacket unzipped. As she approached the table, her voice lifted into a whisper as she sang to herself. “Hello, I’m your mind giving you someone to talk to. Hello.” Rayna let her fingers touch the end of the table as she came into view of the medical officer. “Good evening,” she greeted.
At first, there was no immediate response, the mental array of thought and daydreaming suddenly interrupted though, and a slightly bewildered Riley blinked in almost a stupor for about half a second at Rayna before she remembered where she was. A quick once over of who had just greeted her, Higgs cleared her throat and smiled softly, swallowing a bit of potato she’d been absentmindedly chewing on. Finally, she found the moment where she could say anything. “Oh, hello!” came a voice that could be described as contralto, and lightly accented to prove her heritage. “I’m sorry, I hadn’t… are you… Do you usually sit here? I can move.”
Giggling quietly, Rayna shook her head easily as she lowered into the chair across from Higgs. “No, no,” she soothed. “I just saw a new face and wanted to say ‘hi’ and welcome you aboard.” The Eridanian smiled as she watched the medical officer intently, memorizing the woman’s features. “Where are you from? Such an interesting accent,” she commented without filter or decorum.
Visibly, the black haired woman relaxed. “Oh, thank you!” she replied, chipper as could be. “I am from Earth, a country called Portugal,” she explained, making sure not to assume that everyone knew where any place was. She looked around, still everyone having a good time. “I’m sorry, this is my first duty station from the academy. I’m still not used to living on an actual starship. I’ve been here for roughly a week, and already I’ve been thrust into more than the academy prepared me for.” She blinked as though she’d forgotten something, and suddenly remembered. “Oh! Sorry! Riley Higgs, Medical.” She extended her hand out.
The Eridanian smiled gracefully as she reached forward and took Riley’s hand. Her shake was firm and short, but her fingers remained gripped against the other woman’s hand for just a hair longer than might seem normal by cultural standards. Giggling softly, the black haired woman nodded. “Rayna Elkhorn, Operations. Pleased to meet you.” When she finally released the handshake, the operations officer leaned back into her chair, lifting the beer to sip from the mug. “You’ll probably find being on a starship is the complete opposite of being in the Academy,” she informed Higgs in a wry tone.
Rayna would find that Riley wasn’t entirely a “gentle giant”. She certainly could be, but at the moment, she returned the firm hand shake with one equally so. “Pleased to meet you as well! I am learning that about the starship. There’s always things to do at least, even if most of it is work related. How long have you been with the Aldrin?” she asked, taking the moment to sit back and take another bite of her food.
The question had the operations officer thinking, her brow raising as she thought back to her own arrival from the Prevailer. “Gosh,” she exclaimed quietly. “It’s only been a couple weeks,” Rayna revealed. “Feels like much longer. A bunch of us transferred from the Hermes three months ago, but we ran into some trouble during the trip to Earth.” She hummed to herself as she shook her head.
Riley swallowed hard and thought. Hermes. She’d heard that name before. Something about an infamous crew mentioned before that she’d caught in passing. “Oh?” She looked down at a nearly empty plate. When had she eaten so much? “I’ve heard of the Hermes, I think. I don’t really know much of that ship, but apparently they’re doing something to be talked about on Earth,” she said, shrugging. “How long have you been with Starfleet then?” she asked, still interested in making conversation, but had little to talk about aside from simply asking questions.
It took her half a beat to think again on the answer. The truth would simply not do. Rayna giggled quietly to herself, her features pinching slightly as she thought through the math. “Six years? No, eight,” she quickly corrected herself as she shrugged her shoulders. “It all seems to blend in after a while,” the woman said dismissively, the golden flecks in her light green irises glinting with mirth. She giggled as she leaned forward a bit, her elbows resting on the table as she hunched over her mug of beer. “Eles ainda falam português de onde você é? (1)” she asked, her brows raised in curiosity.
Riley raised a brow, blank expression of her face that slowly turned into a smile. “Muito impressionante, e sim, eles fazem. Um tem que querer saber onde outro foi ido aprender tal uma língua específica?”(2)
The enigmatic smile that the Eridanian offered Higgs was accompanied by a soft hum. “As línguas são um de meus passatempos, eu supor. (3)” She giggled quietly as she straightened and lifted her mug to take another sip of the cold black beer. “I’ve been around,” Rayna offered with a one shouldered shrug. “The computer doesn’t pick up most of the ancient dialects anymore, so it’s fun to talk about people without them knowing it.” She winked toward the medical officer.
Riley smirked, and shifted gears to a different, yet similar language. “¿Entonces hablas varios idiomas entonces? Sin duda puedo respetar eso. La pasión de aprender a hablar a otras razas de la vida.”(4) A knowing smile on her face was warm, and Riley felt a bit of a connection to the other woman just with the play on linguistics. It was then that her padd beeped. Looking down, she smiled softly. “Alas, duty hours are soon to begin. Forgive me, Rayna, but I must be off. I should like to meet again with you, should time permit. This was fun.” The woman stood, and began collecting her things from the table
Her lips were parted to answer Riley’s question, a disappointed hum escaping her throat instead. “It was fun,” Rayna admitted, smiling as she stood as well. “Do you know French or Italian? We have some people who speak those languages. What fun we could have, the four of us.” The operations officer giggled.
Riley paused, looking up from the small collection of stuff. “Not yet, but that one is on the list. I still roll my R’s too much to do the French words.”
“You need to arch your tongue more in the back of your throat than the middle with the rolling of the Rs,” Elkhorn explained easily.
“Is that the key to it then? I might have to play with that. Anyway, I should go. I don’t want to be late. See you again some time?”
The operations officer waved after Higgs as she walked away, nodding. “Of course,” she answered. “I’m usually here if not on duty. Don’t work too hard, hmm.”
“I’ll remember that,” she called back, depositing her dished where they belonged, a bit of a bounce in her step as she left. The new girl had made a friend.
(1) “Do they still speak Portuguese where you’re from?”
(2) “Very impressive, and yes they do. One has to wonder where another has gone to learn such a specific language?”
(3) “Languages are one of my hobbies, I suppose.”
(4) [Spanish] “So you speak multiple languages then? I can certainly respect that. The passion to learn how to speak to other races of life.”