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Gifts From Friends

Posted on Thu Aug 8th, 2019 @ 9:43am by Lieutenant Lilith Sullivan & Lieutenant Commander Angus Murphy

Mission: For Whom The Bell Tolls
Location: USS Majestic, Sullivan's Quarters
Timeline: MD06, 1830

USS Majestic, Deck 3: Sullivan's Quarters
MD06, 1830

The stars streaked by outside the window as the Majestic ambled towards the upcoming meetings with the Claddin Empire. The conversation between herself, the captain's yeoman, and the ship's civilian diplomat over yesterday's dinner was still fresh on Lily's mind. A lot of the trains of thought arrived at the same station, the station of never, ever, ever joining the Diplomatic Corps. Still, the conversation had been fruitful. Young Stef had given voice to some good ideas, and the trio had gained a little insight into what to expect at the upcoming negotiations.

Walking back to her quarters, Sullivan closed out the file on her PADD that they had been browsing through and returned her attention to the mishmash of storage containers still scattered about the room. It had been almost four days since she arrived on the ship, so the list of excuses for not settling in was shrinking by the second.

"Computer, play my work playlist, low volume."

With a determined grunt, Lily started working her way through her things. As a fighter pilot, she had been used to packing and traveling light, but her new posting had afforded her a little more room to bring some reminders of home. Most of the items from her "me" wall at the Academy had been left behind, but most of her patch collection had made it to the Majestic. Placing the scale models of the various starfighters she had flown into an organized row on a shelf above her bed, Lily paused for a moment, knowing what the next item to unpack was by shape and feel.

"Oh Mikey," she sighed as she pulled a picture frame into view. In it, she and another pilot were both laughing, leaning against the hangar wall of Starbase 129. Not long after the photo was taken, their squadron would be transferred to Starbase 234, the start point of the mission that claimed the life of Mike "Desperado" Garner.

"Mikey, we made it," Sullivan spoke to the figure in the photo, tears welling up in her eyes. "We made it off that godforsaken starbase, and I made sure our people got home. I just," she took a deep breath, "I just couldn't save you. I'm sorry." Lily no longer had the strength. She collapsed to the floor, back against the wall, and allowed herself a moment of catharsis.

[Twenty Minutes Later]

Most of the containers had been marked for reclamation and were slowly transported out of her quarters. One of the grey-sided boxes was still there when Lilith came back from changing out of uniform. Something was still inside, but her mental list of belongings had all been checked off. What's in there? she thought to herself. Popping the lid back open, she saw a glint of something reflective peek back at her. A glass bottle, to which a note was attached.


Figured you'd probably want to celebrate. Or bribe, I ain't judgin'.

See you next time through,


"You bastard!" Sullivan yelled in joy. "You shouldn't have!"

The note had been hand-written by an old friend, a gruff warrant officer affectionately known far and wide among the cadets at the Academy Flight School as the Sheriff. He and Sullivan had been leading a survival class together, as they had done for years, just before her transfer orders came down from the Bureau of Personnel. Unbeknownst to her, the Sheriff had snuck a prized bottle of MacAllan 25 into her belongings before she left as a parting gift.

Holding the bottle by the neck, she immediately pulled out her PADD and took a picture of herself with it, sending it as a thank you note to her friend. Almost immediately, a video call request came back.

"You little s---, I told you no gifts!" Sullivan exclaimed at the screen.

"Well, you know, I was never much good at listening to you," the Sheriff chuckled. "How are ya Lil', getting used to your new digs? Or would you rather still be freezing your ass off here with the next class, ohhh, let's see," he leaned back to check something off camera. "Yeah, we're up to class ninety-six dash fifteen."

"Every two weeks until you die," Lily nodded amid a fit of laughter. "It's good to see you friend. Here, take a look around," she flipped the camera and gave a quick overview of her quarters. "I'm just now getting settled in, which is when I found your gift!"

"Really? Four days and you haven't even finished unpacking?" he gave a disappointed grunt.

"Hey, don't judge. I've been busy."

"Doing what?"

"Uh, you know," Lily coughed, trying to find excuses. "Senior officer starship stuff. Like meetings. And more meetings, and you know, diplomacy and stuff."

The Sheriff glared at her through the screen, keeping a straight face until the slightest hint of a grin formed in the corner of his mouth.

"Well Lil', I can see you're busy. Find some friends, be a good person and share the goods. I gotta get back to watching over the kiddos before they freeze to death. You know how to find me." As quickly as it had begun, the call came to an end, Lily still waving at the screen even though the PADD had returned to the home page. An idea slowly was slowly forming in her mind. Fetching a jacket from her closet, Lily grabbed the bottle, two glasses, and ran out the door.

[Main Engineering]

Lieutenant Commander Murphy, at your earliest convenience, please report to the Song Theater. The unsigned message arrived via text onto Murphy's PADD.

Murphy's body was scrawled out beneath the hockey table in Main Engineering as he worked on an open panel on its underside. He craned his neck to get a look at the PADD, squinted a bit to read the message, and scowled. "CRAVENS!" he shouted into the chip board he was replacing.

"What?!" came the startled voice of the junior engineering somewhere above him. "I'm right here, you don't have to yell."

"What the hell is the Song Theater?"

"The what? Oooooh. That's the place up on deck 2, all the diplomatic stuff around it."

"It has a name?" Murph grunted as he locked a stubborn bolt into place and wiped his brow before clicking the hatch back into place and sliding back out from under the table.

"Apparently, though I guess some Ops Crewmen have started referring to it as the Thong Theater, just because... you know, they're all like eighteen and have the maturity of a group of frat boys."

Murphy brought up the engineering station's holographic display and adjusted settings. "I really hope you're joking about that. Alright. Finish this up and I will go see what they need, I guess."

[Song Theater]

Tucked into a last row of seats in the room, bottle of scotch and glasses nearby, Sullivan did her best to stifle a laugh and an eyeroll at the sight of the chief engineer busting into a theater still in uniform. She waited for a moment to see if she would be spotted before calling out to him.

"Sir, alpha shift ended nigh on three hours ago. With respect," after all, he did outrank her, "I think it might be time to call it a day, what do you think?"

Murph turned his head to the voice, squinting a bit to make out the Lieutenant's darkened form against the harsh overhead lighting. "Sullivan," he finally surmised as he stepped closer. He knew little of her other than having glanced briefly at the photo in her dossier when it passed through his cluttered message queue. His eyes lingered on the scotch for a second and he cocked his head warily.

"It must be nice to have duties that fit neatly into the alpha shift timeframe." The comment was said lightly, but it was highly unusual to be called somewhere for a drink like this and Murphy was notably on edge as was evident by his stiffening posture and tight shoulders.

"Oh Commander, you know the name of the game. Delegate, delegate, delegate," came the lighthearted response in turn. "Well, you know who I am which saves me the trouble of introducing myself. Hello Commander Murphy, I come bearing gifts, freely shared between what I hope to be friends," her words trailed off as she noticed the body language, introducing a modicum of uncertainty in her voice. "Though it doesn't take a telepath to see that maybe I, uh, brought the wrong gift." Sullivan carefully stored the bottle and glasses out of sight beneath the seat beside her.

It was hardly Murphy's style to delegate, delegate, delegate. He was more of a lead-by-example kind of department head. "Right," he confirmed for her, not remembering if she was in fact a telepath or just using the expression. "I don't drink anymore." He also didn't make it a point to have many friends, but whether that was by choice or an authentic lack of socialness might soon become evident. "Sorry to disappoint. It looked like a fine vintage."

"It is," she nodded. "A Macallan twenty-five. A gift given to me by a friend of mine back at the Academy with the condition that I share. Well, this was a unmitigated failure of an attempt at extending an olive branch, I apologize Commander," Lily picked up her glassware and started to stand up. "Engineering is near and dear to me. I went to Stanford and even got one of those paperweight degrees in M.E. before pivoting to this life. I try and keep a close working relationship with everyone in yellow," her explanation continued. "Invariably, they're the ones fixing the s--- that my pilots and I break."

"Macallan, hm?" Murph asked, eyebrows perking up a bit as he sunk down into the seat next to her. He held out his hand for the bottle.

"My man! That's the spirit!" Lily plopped back down in the seat and eagerly handed the bottle over to him. The satisfying sound of the cork popping free of the neck was met by two hovering snifter glasses. I mean, after all, the occasion called for classy glassware. In a decidedly unclassy move, Sullivan leaned back in her seat and propped her feet up cross-legged on the seat in front of her.

"Hold on," she motioned, stopping the toast before it happened. "Computer, put a symphony on that stage, play some jazz or something, I dunno." Far below, holographic musicians appeared playing the first bars of a slinky jazz number. "Huh, look at that," she waved her fingers through the air, "holographic cigar smoke. Neat. Anyway Commander, what shall we toast to?"

Murph knew he was flirting with some demon much larger than him, but... Macallan. It was an irresistible hook. He poured out a small amount into the two glasses. He passed one to his newfound associate and brought his own up to his nose, closed his eyes, and inhaled the intoxicating subtleties of the scent through his senses -- it was more than smell, it was like a breath of life that made his cheeks flush and his mouth whet. The layers of the oaken barrel it was once stored in were clearly detectable, but also the smooth, sweet esters, the organic bite of the aldehydes, and the smoky phenols each added a complexity of character that could not be replicated in syntheholic drinks.

"How about not breaking my ship?" he finally answered and clinked his glass with hers.

"I can get behind that," She gave a single nod. "Prost!"

Blissfully unaware of the struggle going on between man and addiction beside her, Lily nosed her own glass, chastising herself for not bringing a pipette of water before realizing that the spirit in her glass really didn't require it. She sat in silence for a moment; swaying ever so gracefully with the sound of the saxophone wafting through the room.

"Well," finally she spoke again. "Tell me about your ship. You've got your finger on her pulse more often than most - tell me, what's not in the manual? Is she special?"

The glass teetered on the edge of his lip, the decision to down it all but executed. The question, however, gave him a mental excuse for pause and he lowered it as he thought about it.

"I don't know that she's special, per say," he admitted, probably not what Sullivan had expected to hear. "It's a giant hunk of metal and wires without a soul. What's special are the people inside. Keeping the Majestic in peak condition is more about protecting them than the actual ship itself." Yes. He nodded at that.

"Hmm, yes," Sullivan looked over at her colleague before taking another small sip. "I've slowly been figuring that out about not only this ship, but pretty much life in general. The material stuff - it's just kind of circumstantial to what's truly important. I've met most of the senior staff here, and you couldn't ask for a better crew, especially for a former zoomie's first 'real' flight control posting."

"Sounds about right," Murphy said carefully. Though he never was one, he knew pretty much everything about a fighter pilot was radically different than sitting in the center of a starship bridge processing orders from someone else. Fighters were reckless, arrogant, and hot-headed. However, there was no room for arrogance when you weren't the one wearing the most pips in the room. Engineering, however, afforded him a little bit of that license for arrogance and bravado. Nothing happened on his systems without his okay. Not even the Captain would make a call contrary to her Chief Engineer -- he couldn't imagine she would, anyway.

"So... fancy whiskey and earth music..." He twirled the liquid around in the glass as he contemplated the oddity of being here, of their conversation so far, and what her endgame and motives might be. "Did someone put you up to this?"

"Ah yeah, understandable question, everything considered -- I've got no ulterior motive or anything, I swear. But I, uh, well," Sullivan paused, wondering if she was ready or strong enough to talk about her own personal story with a man who had been nothing more than a name on a manifest a few minutes ago. "The truth is, I was kind of in a bad place mentally sitting alone in my room when I found this gift that an old friend of mine snuck into my stuff before I transferred over. Yeah," she nodded, "that friend at the Academy. I always figured it's better to drink with company, cause you never really drink alone. You've either got your thoughts or you've got your company. And tonight, I'd rather have the company."

Lily's thousand yard stare slowly refocused onto her glass with the last little bit of scotch swirling around the bulbous bottom. She slowly raised the snifter to her lips and finished the remaining spirit, admiring the glassware for its role in the proceedings.

"The fact that it's well, a little unconventional," she continued, somberness in her tone, "I didn't know you didn't drink. I'm just so bored of trudging into offices, waving, and doing the usual kiss-ass routine for five minutes. I'd rather get to know people, and what better way to do that than in a situation that they're not expecting. That's all I meant by it, no hidden agenda, I pinky promise," she looked over to the exit and then back to Murphy, eyes piercing through the smoke. "I'm sorry I interrupted your work, thanks for coming."

"It is unconventional," he allowed with a strangely sympathetic nod that lingered like a pause for a long moment. "I like people who think outside the box, but the next time you summon me somewhere and there's not an emergency, I will make you regret the day you stepped foot on this ship. Fair warning." He smirked, threw her a wink and then handed back the glass. "If I came home with this on my breath, I'd be the one with the regrets..."

"I understand. Can't say a girl didn't try though," Lily placed her own glass back down before accepting the unused vessel. "I don't know that you'd ever need anything from someone with my skill-set, but you know who to call," she called out to Murphy as he disappeared around the corner.

It was borderline sacrilege to return such a fine spirit back to the bottle, though Lily was considering it. But the atmosphere was right, and there was enough time before any scheduled use of the theater that the course she decided upon was inaction. Propping her feet up once again, she closed her eyes and allowed the music to flush out any thoughts rattling around in her brain.

"Just you and me, Mac," she nosed the glass. "Just you and me."

Lieutenant Commander Angus Murphy
Chief Engineer, USS Majestic

Lieutenant Lily Sullivan


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