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The Climb

Posted on Mon Apr 26, 2021 @ 2:46am by Ensign Theo Ayar & Lieutenant Niobe Barton

Mission: Episode 1: Coda
Location: Holodeck 1
Timeline: Mission Day 4 at 1430

Niobe took a deep breath, taking in the simulated fresh air. She would have preferred to scale the rockface in front of her for real and not in a simulated environment but given their current situation, that wasn't possible. She rolled her shoulders and stretched. She glanced at her climbing companion, who managed to look only slightly uncomfortable in his climbing gear and the compression like material that his climbing suit was made out of. 

Theo looked up. And up. And up some more. "So is this, like. A famous mountain?"

"Devil's Tower," Niobe replied. She checked her rigging and then walked over to Theo to check his. "I've scaled it a few times and after spending the last three days putting this ship back together again I need to think about something that's not engineering related."

"I can definitely agree with you there," Theo said. "Did I mention that I haven't done any climbing since basic field training my first cadet summer? Because I haven't."

Niobe grinned. "You'll be fine, just put your hands and feet where I do. We'll be anchored and there are always the holodeck safeties."

"I know, I know, statistically holodecks are very safe. As long as you don't ask it to do something crazy."

"You need to learn to start trusting me Theo," Niobe replied. "Come on."

Theo considered the cliff face and tried to figure out where to start. "Lead the way, ma'am."

They started ascending the mountain, Niobe leading the way. It was fairly easy going on at the bottom, easy to find hand and foot holds. She paced herself, not knowing just how well the younger man would keep up. Theo certainly looked like he had the physical build for it but one never knew. They had been climbing for about fifteen minutes when she glanced down.

"Keeping up Theo?"

"I'm right behind you. Ish," Theo said, after taking a few seconds to finish pulling up to the next handhold. "I think I'm slowly drifting left. But trust me, if I'm not behind you, you'll hear screaming on the way down."

Niobe laughed. "Hopefully, you let me know before the screaming needs to start."

She swung an arm out, grabbed a new hold and then pulled herself up.

"So, what do you like to do?" Niobe asked, grabbing another hold and pulling herself up again. "I mean I know that this might not be number one on your list."

"We don't do a lot of mountain climbing on the moon, no," Theo said. "Not even in the terraformed areas. You can fly if you strap on wings, though, that's pretty fun."

Niobe stopped and looked down at Theo. "What is with this crew and flying? Did you know that our XO is actually building a deathtrap of a machine in the holodeck? Some absurd thing without shielding, or internal dampners...or well pretty much every safety system you can think of."

"Sounds interesting," Theo said, not commenting on how she's just assured him how safe the holodeck was and that they were climbing up a rock without any hover boots.

Niobe jumped sideways, easily grabbing another handhold. "He made some talk about how back then that was real flying...I mean I'm not even sure what the actually means. Watch that next foothold, it might be a little slippery."

"People like haptic feedback in their controls from the mechanical linkages," Theo suggested.

Niobe shook her head and stopped, looking upwards for her next hold. She found it and then moved up. "But the thing has an internal combustion engine...and propels Theo...actually props."

"That sounds kind of cool," Theo said. "We actually have something like that, too, although they're usually peddle-driven without a motor."

"How are you settling in here?"

"I think I'm settling in fine," Theo said cautiously, both because of the question and because he was trying to avoid that slippery spot. "It's different than the academy. Still busy but a lot less structured. Also, in space, with actual things trying to eat me instead of simulated ones."

Niobe nodded. "Yeah, the goo was a first for me too."

"It certainly wasn't in any of our training scenarios."

"Maybe something like that should be," Niobe said with a grunt. "I mean there are only so many search and rescue simulations that one can do."

Theo laughed. "I'll copy my field training instructor on our mission reports."

"I've always wondered why they don't just add something completely blue goo that eats everything in it's path," Niobe continued. "Hell, that can't be the weirdest thing we could encouter. Just look at all the shit that Voyager dealt with."

"Did you not take the elective course focused on their - oh. Right. You're probably way too old for that class to have been offered."

"Did you just call me old ensign?"

"Um. I mean, objectively speaking, you are... older?" Theo suggested.

Niobe chuckled. "Nice recovery."

"Thanks, I think."

"Do you have a habit of sticking your foot in your mouth ensign? I mean do you do that often or just reserve it for my presence?"

"I, uh, you're a very, uh, unique person to be around?" Theo said. After a split second of further thought, he 'accidentally' shoved his foot a little too hard while moving from his current position, slipped, and went flailing through the air. He expected to plummet to the ground far below, safely out of conversational distance. Instead of holodeck safeties kicked in immediately, leaving him floating awkwardly a meter only a meter lower. "Whoops."

"Wow, that was the most awkward attempt to get out of conversation that I've seen since I was left at the altar," Niobe said, looking over her shoulder. "And that's saying something."

"That obvious, huh?" Theo said, slowly bobbing up and down.

"That obvious," Niobe agreed. "You should really work on that, especailly if you know, you want to date someone some day. Computer, safety protocol engage and put ensign Ayar back on the rockface."

Theo floated back to the rock and grabbed hold again. "From the sound of things, I'm not sure I should listen to you about dating advice."

"He left me!" Niobe insisted. "And at least I dated. You haven't said anything to three or four of the crew that I know have been checking out your ass."

"Maybe if I throw myself off harder, I can get further away."

"Or I could just program the holodeck to make you to stick to the rock no matter what," Niobe said, as she pulled herself up onto a fair large ledge. She turned around and offered her hand to help Theo up as well.

Theo scrambled up to join her, and then very carefully looked over the edge. "People really climb this?"

"Yes, they really climb this," Niobe said. "It's more splendid in person though."

"Tell you what," Theo said, "next time we're on a planet that's goo-free, we can try some real rock climbing, if you agree to try out a peddle-thopter next time we're somewhere with low grav. And also goo free."

"Why does your idea sound more dangerous?" Niobe asked, giving the ensign the side eye. "But deal, now if you're all rested up we still have another 200 feet to go reach the really good view."

Theo gestured upward. "After you."


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