79: Viina’s Hand

Zletka’s brows perked as she caught the disparity between his thoughts and his words. “I see.” She traced her finger around the top ring of her beverage, trying not to laugh at his comment on Roa’s dress. She’d had to make sure some alterations were made to keep Sunsan calm. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to spend the night here? This way Wells won’t be forced to sleep on the floor.” She offered. “I can give you clean sheets, if you’d like.”

Rao nodded quietly, a small smile forming as he spoke about Capellan. The smile shifted to a smirk at his mention of ‘new and exciting’ things. His promise to go easy on her; however, was met with an eye roll. “Oh, I’m sure.” The thought of Sunsan spending so many night’s in Wells room flickered in her mind only long enough for her to consider she hadn’t spent too many nights in his room which meant there’d probably been more females in Marcus’ bed than she’d realized…which would explain why he was such a good lay… Her entire body temporarily tensed when her feet left the ground, but she quickly forced herself to relax. “Yes, we can go.” Resting her head on his shoulder she enjoyed the ride up until they reached his housing. “Okay, let me down.” Giving him a kiss she wriggled out of his grasp and slipped inside. With a few feet between them she attempted mustering her most authoritative tone. “Lay down on the bed.” She gestured for him to lay, trying not to crack a smile at how badly her tone landed. Regardless there was no way she was going to let him be in charge when she had a full day tomorrow. She might like him, but she wasn’t dumb.

The following morning Rao hung from a harness, working under Natra’s supervision the shipyards. With an earpiece Natra would check in or comment periodically, the female’s voice temporarily overriding whatever melody the cadet was nodding along to. “Is there a reason why you opt for a harness?” Natra’s voice sounded. “Um…It’s faster for me to get to the different sections this way, plus I’m not restricted by the pathways.” Rao explained while reaching inside an ventlation duct, “I’m going inside.” Rao added earning an ‘affirmative’ in response. Rao firmly planted her feet inside the duct before unbuckling her harness and pushing herself through. Natra was silent for a moment, monitoring her aid’s progress on a screen. “But the pathways move.” Natra returned to their previous topic as her own platform began to rise. “That’s true. I guess I like the idea of being in control. It’s just me and the rope for the most part; and if it falls apart then it was most likely my fault.” Rao shrugged to herself, tapping the side of a clear pair of visors so Natra could see what she saw. “It will be on your left.” Natra guided her. “There are a lot of holes in that thinking.” Natra added. “Oh definitely, but what can I say? I like being suspended.” Rao laughed just as she made the sharp left and felt the edge. She took a small applicator off her waist and drew a large circle on the two panels before peering into the looming darkness of the ventilation system, “How many more like this?”

A brief silence followed before Natra answered, “Several.”

“Oh.” Rao heaved a breath. “Okay.”

By day’s end Rao had only made it through one section of the ship’s ventilation system. Rao conversed with Natra’s team about the different things that were planned for the life support systems and how it would be linked to the “spider web” like system of the ship while also having it’s own back up power source with the ability to compartmentalize itself in the event of a breach. Even after they were dismissed, Rao lagged behind. She was bent over the table memorizing the applications when Natra spoke. “There’s going to be a dinner with the superiors tonight. Since you are an aid to the five of us I thought it would be a good idea to invite you. Would you like to come?” Natra was still working on something, but Rao swore she saw bits of a smile.

“I’d LOVE to, but I surprisingly have plans tonight.” Rao admitted. “Oh?” Natra’s tone made it clear she didn’t think Rao’ plans were all that important. “Yes. I’ve been invited to an embassy event.” Rao explained, feeling as if she was trying to prove it was comparable. “OH. An embassy event?” Natra looked up at her curiously. “Yes. The Romulan embassy is having a gala- I believe.” Rao began to realize how little attention she paid to the details. “Well then I won’t keep you. You should get ready.” Natra gave her a casual smile. “Right.” Rao nodded. “I will see you on the next rotation.” She gave Natra a respectful nod.

“I’ll be curious to hear how it went.” Natra waited for Rao to leave before returning to her planning.

….

Zletka awoke to a pair of dark eyes and green skin staring at her. “Oh no…” The Betazoid let out a soft groan, trying to retreat into her covers only to have them ripped away in the blink of an eye. “Get up.” Vinaa waited as Zletka got up and began getting ready; throwing a set of work out clothes in her direction when she emerged from the bathroom. “What’s this for?” Zletka asked while slipping into the breathable material. “Preparation.” Vinaa’s attention had fallen to filing her nails. “Preparation for the embassy tonight?” Zletka questioned further as she pulled her hair into a bun.

“Yes.” Vinaa glanced up from her nails, “Come.”

The entirety of the day for Zletka was spent in the company of Vinaa putting her through endless hours of her deemed ‘preparation’. After an early morning exercise and appropriate breakfast they ventured into the city where dance lessons, practice on appropriate topics of conversation, and a spa day took place. Half of it was spent with Vinaa indulging herself or showing her superiority in these tasks, but Zletka didn’t mind. The two females were soaking in a mud bath when Vinaa spoke, “We have another party in a few days.”

“Hm…” Zletka tapped her champagne glass against her lips as she mulled over the idea of a another party. “Okay.” The words were more a polite formality. Both females knew she’d be attending.

Rao entered her room, pausing at the sight of Vinaa perched on her bed with a predatory smile. “Shower.” Vinaa ordered with a breif flick of her wrist in the direction. Rao merely heaved a breath and slipped into the bathroom. When she came out Vinaa immediately set to work on her. Her nails were filed and given a clear coat for shine, her hair was styled to be worn down, and her dress was fitted. Vinaa crouched between Rao’s legs with red thread in hand to shorten the slit in her dresss.

Zletka watched in amusement until she picked up on Rao’s thoughts of the dinner she’d been invited to.

“Are you getting rid of the slit completely?” Rao asked, peeking down at the Orion. “No.” Vinaa stood up and sat Rao down to start on her make up. Rao glanced over at Zletka to see her face was already made. “Am I going to be as colorful as you?” Rao asked, noting the pop of color in her eye shadow. “No. You’re going to be on Marcus’ arm so it’s going to be very natural.” Zletka explained in place of Vinaa. “Oh, okay.” Rao nodded until Vinaa forced her head back to still her makeup canvas. Once the make up was done, Vinaa had Rao stand to take in her handiwork and then handed her a pair of shoes. Rao ran her fingers over the added fabric around the cleavage. “Well there definitely isn’t as much cleavage as before, so that’s something. Right?” She cast a hopeful look in their direction.

Zletka stood up so Vinaa could help her into her dress. “I don’t think you’ll be getting a nod of approval.” Zletka admitted while Vinaa began making alterations. “Damn.” Rao laughed. After retouching Zletka’s hair, Vinaa stood the Betazoid in front of a mirror.

“You look so gorgeous!” Rao clapped, “Maybe we should go to high end events more often.” She snapped a picture. Zletka simply took in her reflection while reflecting on Vinaa’s thoughts. “Thank you.” Zletka met Vinaa’s piercing gaze in the mirror with a nod. The Orion simply smirked at the Betazoid before accepting the mandatory hug from Rao and taking her leave. “Alright. Let’s do this.” Rao clapped her hands together. The two females made their way across campus grounds, Rao tapping the inside of her wrist band so light music began to just loud enough for them to hear.

Tarique was make his usual commute back from the Engineering wing when he spotted the two. “Good evening. You are attending the Romulan event.” It was more of an observation than a question. “Yeeep. What do you think?” Rao slowly spun around to give him the full effect while bobbing to the music. If there was one thing Tarique found fascinating about Rao as an individual it would be her almost incessant desire for music. “You attire does not fall in line with Romulan practice.” Tarique began before slightly raising a brow at Rao’s expression, “but it is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.” He finished his statement. “Aww thank you! Can you take a picture of us? Her mom is going to be so happy she’s finally wearing it.” Rao handed the device to Tarique who waited for the light settings to adjust and then snapped a picture. “Is this adequate?” After years of being in Rao’s presence he was aware she could be quite picky when it came to this particular activity. “It’s perfect.” Zletka commented, her eyes meeting Tarique’s with a soft smile. “Well, the lady has spoken.” Rao smiled brightly. Tarique made a move to step away, “Good-” “No, no, no. I need you to come with us and take the group picture, please,” Rao linked one arm with Zlekta and shoo’d Tarique towards the appropriate direction with the other hand. “It’ll just take a second.” When Rao felt Tarique’s hesitation she placed her free had on her hip. “Come on, Tarique. It’s for Zletka’s mom and gran…Please? We can get some of our morning talk done?” The human offered.

“…life support systems…non linear…ventilation…recycling…” The three arrived at Sunsan and Marcus’ door, Zletka knocking while Rao and Tarique were locked in conversation. “In the past you haven’t shown much interest in life support systems.” Tarique noted. “Right? I was always so focused on the warp core, but now I’m starting to spread out more.” Rao waved her hands for effect. Tarique safely deduced this was directly correlated to her time spent in the shipyards, but offered no comment on it other than, “Indeed”.

“Oh! We should get a picture too.” Roa handed the device to Zletka who had it ready in an instant. “Are you sure this is-” “Yes. Yes. Now give me your best stoic face.” Rao cut him off before standing near him and taking a deep breath to relax her features. “Okay, I’m ready.” Rao gave Zletka a nod. “Okay.” Zletka snapped a a few shots. “How does it look?” Rao asked while trying her best not to change her expression. “You two look like a very confusing portrait.” Zletka answered casually. Rao bit back a smile, “Exactly what I was going for.”

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