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The Quiet Place Or No

Posted on Wed May 30th, 2012 @ 5:17pm by Corporal David Carpenter (Cypher) & Lieutenant JG Erienne Tosca
Edited on on Wed May 30th, 2012 @ 5:20pm

Mission: Countdown
Location: Promenade
Timeline: After "Rangers"

The rangers barracks was out.

While David didn't necessarily mind them, the one thing they couldn't be was quiet. They were always hovering around, standing over his shoulder. Or offering to get him alcohol. Or graphic magazines. Or entreaties to come on out and live a little. It was a purely military bearing, which David comprehended to some degree. It was just that the young computer systems expert didn't fit the mold of military standing all that well. He was not - as one might guess from his uptight posture, geeky aura and consistent commitment to having zero friends or vices - a career soldier.

Nor did he derive pleasure from much of the things that his unit seemed to. A night at home was more exciting to the corporal than going to the lounge or on a holodeck adventure.

His quarters were also out.

Wren Tyron was, again - while not someone he truly minded - incapable of leaving him alone for longer than a few minutes at a time. The man seemed starved for some kind of human contact, and David just wasn't the type. So had started the quest for a quiet place. After searching painstakingly for the last hour, David had finally found out. It was right below the guardrails of the top deck to the promenade. Up near the rafters. The population foot traffic was near zero. He could watch everyone from above, while not being watched himself.

David's legs were folded underneath him. In his lap a PADD was balanced, and to his right another mug of coffee. (Apparently, he had a habit.) His selection of books was not thrilling, but it looked to be holding his interest as his dark eyes scanned back and forth, slowly drowning out the din of the day.

Boredom drove Erienne out of her quarters, and though she did not have any errands to run, she ended up near the shops. After looking in some shops, she considered sitting down for a coffee, but when she got her coffee, there were no more seats free. So she wandered around, going up some steps, and some more, until she ran out of stairs. She blew on the coffee to cool it down, and as she scanned the area she ended up at, below the top deck, she noticed someone sitting, reading a padd. She lifted her head and smiled intrigued.

"Whatcha reading?" she said as she unceremoniously sat down next to this person. She didn't recognise him, so she quickly introduced herself. "Erienne Tosca, A&A. Mind if I join you?" She sipped her coffee and looked at the man over the rim of the mug.

"Yes." David's reply was blunt, but not hostile. He didn't look up from his PADD, but he brushed an errant strand of hair away from his face and grabbed his mug from beside him to take another drink. The rich aroma identified it as coffee. In all of this, he hardly acknowledged Erienne's arrival beyond his monosyllabic answer.

Erienne was just as oblivious to the curt answer as David was to her presence. She was trying to read the title of the chapter or book he was on, but the light was making it difficult, and David held the padd at an angle, so she couldn't see it properly. "Hmm," she said as she swallowed the coffee. "You should really find a more comfortable place to sit. I tried finding a place near the bar, but there were no more free seats. I think there are more seats inside though. I just didn't feel like going in by myself. It's always so awkward sitting in a bar drinking coffee on your own. Before you know it, people start talking to you, and then you don't know how to get rid of them..." She let that train of though trail off.

David arched an eyebrow toward his PADD pointedly with that revelation, but offered no commentary as she spoke, nor did he take up the slack when the conversation fizzed out.

"You're new, right? With the intelligence guys?" she asked. "Ehm, Rangers?" She was never sure about what to call these units. They seemed too military and she just did not have an interest in that. For her, Starfleet had always been about exploration and diplomacy, and the occasional conflict that might ensue was unfortunate but not her concern as a scientist.

"Yes." The reply was once again limited. David merely turned the PADD toward her, closing his eyes briefly in annoyance. It appeared like no matter what happened today, he just wasn't going to find time for himself anywhere. Maybe he'd talk to that ferengi trader about getting a private holosuite. The title of the article was dull: Neural correlates of evaluation of ‘egocentric space’.

Erienne raised her eyebrows. Not typical reading for a ... well, whatever a ranger is. "Mapping thoughts, eh? Very ... cerebral," she said. "Personally, I have been reading Bajoran myths and legends, which are fascinating! It's an odd mix of heroics, religion and being humble. And I finished some Klingon poem. It's entertaining... and moving."

She recited softly, because her pronunciation was horrendous, and she wasn't quite sure if she got all the words right: "jupwI', vIq qellu'taHvIs bIpo'qu'ba'... erhhh, well you get the point." She smiled again, her eyes lit up with enthusiasm. Then she gestured to the padd.

"Studying for something?"

"bIpo'qu'ba'," David corrected quietly, placing an emphasis on a more subtle part of the word. He only just looked up to level his enigmatic gaze at her, taking in her appearance. "Alien numeric perception," he offered again hesitantly. It was obviously not in David's nature to indulge other people in their attempts to converse with him.

Erienne knew when to take a finger offered, even if she wanted to grab the entire arm. "I've always been fascinated by cultures that don't have any perception of numbers. I try to get into that mindset, when I eat chocolates. Instead of counting how many I have had, I go: one, too many. Does wonders for your diet." She sipped her coffee, and added: "Of course it is still numeric to distinguish between one and more than one. Now I feel I should look into cultures that use no sense of numbers at all. Not even one!" She chuckled.

She looked at David. He had that look of being both young, but old at the same time. Old, because of his intellect; young, because of less or different life experience. For a second she felt the older sister routine rise in her. But looking at his uniform and his rank insignia shook her out of that. He was not someone who needed to be babysat. "Well, now I wish I had brought my padd with me." She looked away and watched the people go by. For a few blissful seconds she just sat there quietly drinking her coffee, feeling quite content.

David was silent, looking down at his PADD once more to scan the pages, oblivious to her contemplation. It was an unusual encounter. Most people were put off by him enough to leave when they didn't get much from him. "Mathematics is not universal," he spoke down at his PADD obscurely after a long and awkward pause. He used his finger to move the pages on the screen in front of him. "Different neurology interprets numbers differently. Segment differently. Program differently."

He tapped his fingers against his opposite hands, his eyes deviating away from Erienne and toward the corner. Avoiding eye contact, his head tilting slightly as he spoke. "It is not linear. Cardassians operate by base-3 components. Their architecture includes tall, wide sweeping lines with sharp edges organized in 3-clusters." Terok Nor came to mind.

David spoke quietly, his voice almost stilted and strange. He wasn't used to talking much, especially about his own pursuits. He added, for her benefit, "Klingons count a singular object as a group of related objects. Klingon programming is simpler to understand. Humans, base-10. Our proportions." He drew a square in the air, and then drew a bigger one and a bigger one around it, before drawing a diagonal line through it all. He illustrated cardassian and klingon squares next to them, the proportions deviating as they extended outward.

It wasn't universal, but - "It is just most easily translatable." David looked up, shrugging, before immediately going back to his book as if nothing had happened.

Erienne nodded. "It is somehow easier to communicate through maths, than it is through language. Language is so much more personal, diverse, even within one species! And I am not even considering how diverse the way sounds are used in language, or even if the sounds are made by vocal cords or... or... " She gestured wildly with her empty coffee mug.

She sighed. "I still prefer language though. There are so many layers of depth to languages, and depending on the culture, you can say one thing and mean another. Numbers may rarely lie, but language can be ... oh, so duplicitous. And finding the truth in there is such a challenge." She wasn't even sure if David was listening. He didn't even 'hm' or acknowledge her soliloquy.

She grinned, and sat up straighter. "You're great to talk to!" she said. "I bet I am going to be picking your brain from time to time." She noticed both hers and David's mugs were empty. "I'll get us a refill, and then we can talk some more?" She grabbed both mugs and jumped up. There was a happy spring in her step as she went down the stairs, back to the coffee corner. This was going to work out great!

... She just hoped David would still be there when she got back.

David, for his part, had barely tuned into her speaking, or so it seemed. Once she left, her absence fuzzy on the edge of his periphery (and he could hardly decipher why or where she had gone), he merely repositioned himself and returned to his article. After a while, the computer analyst looked up, as if startled. Hadn't a woman wearing science blues been speaking to him moments ago? David blinked, and pondered briefly where she might have went, before shrugging to himself. He stood up, gathering his mug and ambled away quietly, completely oblivious it seemed to the world outside, nor Erienne Tosca's return.




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