Borgs and Birthdays and Bolak, oh my!

OFF: Challenge post \o/ this was. Hard!

ON:

The first thing she did with Stok after they found the…after they found the others, was accompany him to the small mess hall the ship had in order to eat. The second thing she did was violently assault the replicator in order to make a pack of cigarettes. It only made clove which, she didn’t know the difference between the types-at least not anymore-but it didn’t matter. She flicked the lighter it came with with a shaking hand, shooting Stok a sharp look as it lit. She could feel his judging eyes. “Shut up.”

“I did not say a thing.”

“Just shut up, I know they’re awful, but I’ll have to suffer it until we can get somewhere where I can get this-” she waved said cigarette around, “-out of my system.”

“Hm.” Stok, instead of responding with anything that may have infuriated her further, merely motioned with his arm to a chair. She sat down, the cigarette clenched so tight in her teeth she thought it would break as he cleared his throat. “What would you like to consume?”

“…you know the Terran legume, peanut?”

Stok raised a fine eyebrow slowly. “…yes.”

Zazi laid her head between her arms, staring at the wall. “I need a peanut butter sandwich on Hari bread with a slice of octopus.”

Stok didn’t respond for a moment, before nodding and heading to the replicator she had been so horribly cruel to. She didn’t watch, staring at the wall and jumping when he slid the plate in front of her. She mumbled a ‘thank you’, picking it up to bite into it before immediately spitting out with a gag. “That’s rancid! Is it bad?! Can peanuts go bad?! Is it the octopus??”

Stok merely stared at her as she chugged down the glass of water he had slid towards her. “I do not believe replicated items can ‘go bad’…however, perhaps it is…what you added to it.”

She gave him the fiercest glare one could give while rubbing at their mouth with a sleeve. “I’ve eaten it before-the octopus,” she sighed roughly at his incredulous look, “so I doubt it’s that.” She flipped one slice of bread over, grimacing at the thin white slice of octopus. Slowly she lifted it up to take a lick of the peanut butter, before nodding. “I need a bucket of it.”

In the end, Stok merely gave her a jar of it that he had found oddly stashed behind the counter. Despite the fact that it was hard and tough as nails to smash her knife into, she was eagerly taking large bites out of the jar. Stok, to his credit, did not say a word. “Very well then. We should start comprising a plan, and as you are now…Acting Captain, we shall follow your lead.”

The taste of clove plus peanuts was not at all a dashing taste, but Zazi powered through it to swallow, frowning at Stok. “…I guess I am, huh.” She sighed, shaking her head. “Alright, then. First thing’s first, to the bridge then. I assume you’re staying.”

Stok didn’t answer, but she took it for what it’s worth all the same.

The Borg sliced them just as Zazi and Stok were halfway there. The beam cut through in the midst of a hallway, nearly sucking them out into the unending space before the shields slammed down around them. Before it did, Zazi saw a bundle of beads from some poor Ensign’s room float almost mystically away, and when they were brought back down to the floor due to gravity, Zazi hissed as a book slammed into her head. Amidst her mutterings and cursing, Stok leaned down, lifting the book by its spine slowly.

“Gunfighters of the Outer Rim.” His nose wrinkled up when the book slipped open to the middle with the pages bent in the corner. “Do people have no respect any more…”

Before she could answer, a large crate tumbled out of the room near them. To their shock, a man rolled out of the box in a dark brown coat, jumping up with wild eyes. Even worse, he seemed to have been assimilated. It appeared he was either hanging around the holosuite or perhaps he was having a small moment to himself, either way, the Borg took advantage certainly. “ASSIMILATE.” He droned out, stomping towards them.

Zazi slapped Stok’s shoulder, rocketing up to run the other way. “Leave the literature, we have bigger problems!” she called back. The thud of a book sounded, and suddenly Stok was by her side.

“…I hit him with it.”

“Good, he deserved it,” she bit back, both of them skidding nearly into the corner of a hall and rushing down the side. They paused at the hideous sight before them.

The turbolift was usually in a straight line going from deck to deck. Theirs was upthrust through the floor of where they were, from the attack most likely. Zazi shook her head. “No time. We need to get up.”

“We could climb, but that would not take into account another attack,” Stok pointed out and Zazi sighed, tapping her foot rapidly as she thought.

“…my room.”

“What?”

She twirled around down an alternate hallway, crooking her finger at him to follow as she tapped her comm. “Aji.” She waited. “Aji, answer me.” No answer. She cursed, swinging her arm down viciously. “…she’s fine, isn’t she?”

“Of course.”

Did Romulans lie? Vulcans didn’t, she thought, but. Well.

Stok followed at an easy pace, and they had to pry open the door to her quarters which had a flickering light that was valiantly trying to help them. Stok looked around idly, his arms crossed behind his back as she threw herself into a closet, digging into something. Stok’s gaze caught on a plate that had slid from her vanity table and onto the ground. Resting halfway on it was a signature Andorian spice cake, with a small candle on the ground next to it, a childish scrawl of Andorian words on the top. Stok, while he may not have studied the language, knew exactly what it said.

Zazi appeared at his side, and her face scrunched up. “Look.” She nudged him, and he acquiesced to her refusal of speaking about the obvious birthday cake sent in a care package on the ground. She held up a rough canvas satchel, and inside was a coil of rope. His eyebrows raised again.

“Why-”

“Are we really going to get into what I do in my off time or are we going to the Bridge?”

Stok nodded, blinking slowly as she rushed by him, and he hurried after her as the alarms rang around them, a pitch that attacked their ears , making them hard to hear each other.

Zazi’s rope had a metal hook at the end and she tossed it up the broken turbolift chute. The hook caught, and they slowly climbed up it, flinching as various panels fell and the ship shook every so often. They reached the deck with the main bridge easily enough, and Stok assisted one of the other science officers at the helm to bring up their shields. Zazi took the seat, slapping her hand on the communicator panel on the arm of the chair and shouting out orders and warnings.

Then Aji left. She just left. She left and refused to let Zazi beam her back aboard and then the cube became a giant firework in the stars. The ship couldn’t avoid it, and they were hit bad, but not to the point that they ruptured in half like it felt they would. Zazi was bent over the communicator panel, staring at it for a while. There was silence, shocked and slightly terrified silence, as they waited to hear the groaning of a ship that would tear itself apart.

It never came.

Zazi tapped the panel. “All hands-” she cleared her throat roughly, “take note of casualties, and start repair measures as best we can.” With that, she flicked off the red alerts, but kept up a yellow one for now. She sunk back into the seat, staring at the screen to the outside space.

A PADD was waved in front of her, and her eyes traced the hand to a man she didn’t recognize, but who seemed very nervous at seeing her. “H-Hello, Doctor-I mean Captain-I mean!”

Zazi sat up slowly, shaking her head with a sigh. “Enough with the formalities,” she muttered. “Right now we’re dead in the water. What is it?”

The man cleared his throat, standing up straighter. “L-Lieutenant Commander D'moonh-”

“Yes?” she cut him off sharply, her eyes boring holes into him.

The now revealed Ensign McCree stood up straighter. “She, she left me in charge, sir. Ma’am.”

His teeth clicked as her look darkened, and he stopped. After a moment, she nodded sharply. “Very well then. For now, you’re Acting Chief Engineer. Aji trusted you enough to believe you can pull this shattering ship apart, and I trust her. Is that all?”

McCree quickly nodded. “Yes, we’re starting work on it now, since we’re…dead in the water. Most of our supplies were broken or stuck inside rooms with bent doors but we’ve always been a ‘redneck engineering’ type of group.” His laughter trailed off at her confused stare, but she nodded all the same.

“Go then. We’ll…do something.”

And off he went back to the bowels of the ship to hopefully tape them back together.

Zazi sighed, tilting her head down before snapping back up at Stok’s, “Captain, a ship is approaching.”

She didn’t ask when she became HIS captain as well but instead she called out, “Who is it? Can they-”

“They are already opening a channel for us,” Stok replied. Zazi quickly nodded, and prepared for…anything but what she ended up seeing.

Bolak tipped his hat and replied, “This is Captain Bolak of the FFS Fessarius. How may we assist?”

“Are you wearing a Terran country hat?” Her voice was obviously quite shell-shocked, her mouth hanging open at the sight of him.

Bolak flicked the hat up, twirling it around one finger before letting it rest back on his head. “It’s called a Stetson. Stayson? Statson. I heard the word once, don’t judge me.”

Acting Captain Zazi Sh’viakrik felt like leaning over and just keeping her head in her hands for about an hour. Please. For like, just two hours, maybe more. “It fits you,” she said wearily and he seemed to brighten even further. She took a very slow, very long breath before scrubbing a hand over her face harshly, hair ruffling before it laid back flat. “I’m thrilled you can find such humor in our very large problem right now. However, we need to repair the ship, or…” She looked at him for a moment. “Or we could all come over there, I suppose, this day can’t get any weirder.”

Stok made a noise of agreement and she shifted to lean back in her chair once she and Bolak came to an agreement over what to do. She leaned her elbow onto the arm of the Captain’s chair, hand holding her head up as she watched the slowly floating stars around them and the FFS Fessarius. She let out a breath slowly, feeling as if she had been holding onto it for ages. “And we’re back.”

Stok raised an eyebrow, turning slowly to face her. “Back?”

“Home,” she responded, shutting her eyes for the moment. “Whatever home means now.”

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