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The Earp Engagement

Posted on Wed Aug 14th, 2019 @ 5:26pm by Petty Officer 3rd Class Sofia Cipriani
Edited on on Wed Aug 14th, 2019 @ 8:56pm

Mission: Episode 7 - Home Again
Location: Shuttle Earp - Trivas System
Timeline: MD007 1800 hrs

Khalon had done considerably less to prepare for this date than the one they had enjoyed yesterday, yet he was sure it would be just as romantic. He had requested the use of the class 9 shuttle which the Captain had called the Earp after some American Frontiersman; Lieutenant Hollister gave him something of a hard time. At first she approved the request, but when she'd gotten wind that he was using it for a date, she had decided to make things more interesting. Degausing the replicator on the shuttle manually seemed to be her idea of a way for him to "work for his pay."

Even now, seconds before Sofia was set to arrive, he was hunched over the damn terminal running a tricorder node over its circuitry with Lieutenant Hollister sitting in a chair behind him.

"I'm starting to think I picked the wrong ship.." he said with a frown as he pressed a key on the tricorder.

"I'm starting to think you might be right." Ingrid responded, her arms crossed defiantly under her chest and her pleasant face turned in a devious and amused expression. "Yeoman Chipriani will be happy to know that her date can follow orders."

He looked back at her, his eyebrow cocked as he momentarily turned his attention from his work. His expression was one which matched his characteristic brovado, an expression which made his boss's smile widen.

"You must not know, Lieutenant. When I'm not on duty, I give the orders." he said, his confidence unwavering. He held eye contact with her for a few more seconds, then turned back to his work. "I'm thinking about filing a formal complaint."

Ingrid made a face which was full of mock compassion, pouting her full lips and widening her dough eyes for added affect. "Awww. I hurt your feelings. I'm sorry."

Sofia hadn't expected Khalon to call her so quickly after their first date. It had went well, she enjoyed it and liked him. He was sweet in a big-headed, macho man. It was typically the type of man that was drawn to her as she was the opposite. Quiet, bookwormy and didn't really like to make herself out to be amazing.

She made her way to the shuttlebay and followed the instructions that Khalon had laid out for her, no need for warm clothing this time.

As she approached the rear of the shuttle she heard people talking, a woman and a man but recognized Khalon's voice. 'This better not be a joint company thing...' she thought as she scuffed her feet up the ramp whilst trying to be discreet. "Sorry to interrupt... I can, eh... come back?" she half asked as the woman spun around in her chair with a slight sinister smile.

Khalon turned from the tricorder readings as he heard footsteps on the ramp and he let a slight smile slip when he saw Sofia. She was every bit as beautiful as the last time he'd seen her, not that it had been long ago. "No, of course not. We're still on for the date. Lieutenant Hollister was just leaving."

He spoke without a hint of anxiety, but looked at his superior officer with a challenging expression. She stood up from her seat on cue offered Sofia a smile which wasn't quite as pleasant as she might have meant for it to look.

"I'm Ingrid." she said simply, as if she was throwing the phrase away. "Lieutenant Price was just finishing up a project."

"I'll finish it tomorrow." he said decisively. Then, he looked at Sofia with a smile. "You look lovely this evening. Are you ready to go?"

Sofia smiled, "Thanks, but ehm… who is Ingrid? Isn't she your boss?"

"Yes, and she's a joker, clearly." he said, looking daggers at his boss. "Who was just leaving."

"Fine, fine." Ingrid said, grinning once again. "I've got to have fun somehow, don't I? You kids have fun."

And with that, the shapely Lieutenant nearly skipped off of the shuttle. Khalon looked as his date, putting down the tricorder he had been forced to use to perform an arduous task for the past 20 minutes.

"I think she thinks she's funny. Sorry about that."

"That's alright." Sofia said giving him a little bump on the arm as she watched Ingrid leave. "You look like you've been working. Putting another date on that much of hard work?" she said putting some pressure on him.

"I was working, but the date was ready hours ago." he said, walking over to the picnic basket he'd prepared and tapping the top of it. "Wanna be my copilot?"

He asked his question with an attentive smile as he looked her over. He wondered to himself what she'd been doing since last they saw one another, but he didn't ask. Instead, he simply waited for an answer to the question which he had asked.

"Sure." Sofia replied. "It's been a while since I've been in an enclosed space tin can with an older man." she joked.

He turned and walked toward the front of the shuttle, lowering himself into the pilot seat. He called over his shoulder. "You know how to close shuttle doors, don't you?"

"Shut up!" she said joking, "Of course I do. Don't let this blonde hair fool you." she said pressing the console that closed the shuttle doors. "Question is do you know how to fly this properly? Show me your the pilot you claim to be?"

"I don't know what they teach you in secretary school." he said with a chuckle as he signaled to the Shuttlebay Control that they were ready to leave. "And it might be smart to buckle in."

"Secretary school?" her head spun round to give him a look as she buckled herself in. She knew he was teasing her, he seemed to enjoy her reactions to it and truth be told she fell for it every time so far.

The shuttle lifted up off the deck and began its exit. It reached the open doors and, slowly, it slid out into open space past the forcefield. Almost as soon as the shuttle was free, it kicked into full speed, darting away from the ship in a wide leftward arch. After several seconds, it shot upward and began a well-sustained roll that quickly increased in speed until an observer would have only seen a rising cone-like object. As quickly as it started the spin, it slowed and shot down even more quickly. About fifteen seconds later, the Earp came to a halt right in front of the Pioneer's rear-facing bar. Stunned observers could be viewed from the windows.

"Say Hi." Khalon said, his pride and satisfaction obvious as he lifted his own hand.

Sofia's hands were gripped onto the seat, her eyes closed as she felt the inertial dampeners didn't do anything to help what she had just experienced. Opening one eye she saw the patrons looking out at them and she just had no words to say as she looked back at Khalon. "Well I'll never doubt your flying again." she said closing her eye again and shaking her head.

Khalon let out an easy chuckle and reached for the helm again. The Earp spun around easily and moved away from the Pioneer and the station. Soon after, she jumped to warp.

"There's a stellar event close-by that I thought you might want to see. It shouldn't take more than a half hour to get there." Khalon said after spinning around in his seat and looking at her. "I know this date was pretty quick after the first one, but I wanted to see you again."

He shrugged easily like he genuinely wasn't concerned whether or not that sounded cool. His demeanor was its normal lighthearted swagger.

She blushed. He was sweet and hearing someone say that to her did make her feel happy. The little butterflies in her stomach were going a little mad, but she was sure part of that may have been the shuttle tricks he had just pulled. Most of it was him though. For a moment she got lost in his big brown eyes.

Sofia smiled noting she hadn't actually replied to him yet. "It was pretty quick but that's not a bad thing. Well, I don't think it's a bad thing for this. I wanted to see you too. You've made an impression on this little Italian girl." she said placing her hand on his leg. "You don't have to worry about being anything other than you, I like you." she said not realising she was admitting feelings for him first. Albeit it wasn't love, not yet as who knows how things will go, but nonetheless she had opened a door.

Khalon looked at her for a long time without responding, his smile turned in a calm smile. He gave her a wink that, quite unusually, conveyed affection, interest, and playfulness. He had already told her he'd wanted to see her; it was best not to overshoot these things.

"The meal today isn't as fancy as the first time, I'm afraid." he said, moving on suddenly. "Maybe on our next date, you can cook me something."

She noticed the long pause and started pulling at the cuffs on her uniform uncomfortably. Sofia didn't quite know what to expect when she said what she did but it wasn't a negative reply. He smiled, a cheeky little wink that she took as a good sign but she knew he'd play it cool.

"I think I can make something you'd like." She said softly looking at him with her big dark brown eyes. "We never really had replicators in my house so I'm a pretty good cook but I don't mind what we are having here. As long as it's not rations!" she said with a little laugh.

Khalon cast his eyes down toward the deck and allowed an embarrassed frown to cross his face.

"Oh.." he said, and held it there for a few minutes. He looked up to see her reaction and then he started to laugh hartily. "I'm just playin."

Her face changed to one of 'Thank God!'. For a moment she thought he had brought rations on board and she'd essentially told him she hated them. Well truth be told she had tried them once, they were awful. Luckily he was joking though.

"Also, I bet you can make something I'd like. I'm already dreaming about it." he said, licking his lips. His mouth was already watering over Italian food and he silently hoped that was what she meant. His favorite, meatballs, was at the top of his list.

"Well you tell me what you want and I'll see if I can put a smile on your face. I can make anything from meatballs, I make great sandwiches, pasta. Also quite good at putting out spreads of healthy things, I do like my olives." she said, a smile forming on her face just thinking about them. "But let's enjoy this first."

His eyes rolled up and he leaned back in his seat, smiling. He realized she probably would have eaten terrible rations without complaining; she was that kind. He had to admit it to himself: he liked her and he wanted her. He needed to keep things in perspective, though, and keep playing it cool.

"You're beautiful, smart, sweet, and you can cook my favorite food?" he said, looking back at her again and placing his hand on his heart. "You're too good to be real. You're just in this for the free shuttle rides, right?"

She smiled, blushed and averted her eyes in girlish happiness. "So many compliments in one sentence? You sure you're feeling ok?" she teased. "But I do like it when boys give me free stuff... although usually it's just the Captain and jobs to do." she said half joking. "If I'm in it for the free rides, now that you know I can make your favourite food... which by the way I don't know what one of them it was... are you in this because I can feed you?" Sofia asked raising her eyebrows. "I am just a secretary after all."

"Of course." he said, giving another wink and turning around in his chair. "Also, I like giving you free rides."

His hands moved over the console and he input several commands. The shuttle slowed down noticeably and exited warp. The purple haze of the nebula could already be seen in the window as the Earp dropped out of warp. All around the area were other ships and shuttles; most were Federation, but some were Klingon, Romulan, and even Cardassian.

The nebula was quite a beautiful sight itself with swirls of purple, pink, and red. Khalon looked at Sofia and saw the beauty of the interstellar cloud simmering in her eyes. He watched her for a long while before he spoke.

"Every 23 years, this nebula shifts colors from what you see now to blue and green. It's a pretty big deal for romantics and adventurers, so it's pretty amazing this syncs up with our second date."

She stood up from her seat and stared out the window and the swirling mass of beauty in front of them both. This was one of the reasons she chose Starfleet, to see things people in her family had never seen before. "Oh my God... that is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen." she said truly nebula-struck.

He smiled a satisfied smile at her enjoyment, standing up to join her and taking a position right beside her. He had to say he agreed. It was breathtaking. He joined Starfleet for the excitment, but the beauty was hard to beat.

In that moment, there was a bright flash from the nebula and the gasses began to move more quickly. Slowly, the colors began to change from the center as purples, and pinks, and reds changed to greens, and yellows, and blues. The experience was totally unique and seemed more like something that could only happen in one's imagination rather than in real life. But this was real.

Khalon let out a quiet breath in amazement as color filled his eyes. His mouth hung open and his muscles relaxed.

She noticed his mouth hanging open and playfully pushed it up with the palm of her hand slowly. Her head was cocked to the side to see him a little better. He too looked stunned by the sight before them and truth be told if you weren't then you were in the wrong place, the wrong job. His eyes didn't seem to shift from the nebula but hers were on him.

It took him a second to realize he was being watched, but when he noticed, he looked over at her. Seeing the look in her eyes, he leaned in immediately, pressing his lips against hers.

The warmth of his lips sent off more fireworks than seeing the nebula and she turned him and wrapped her arms round his neck. For a second she felt her legs go like jelly and they felt herself falling into him and they lost balance.

They stumbled a bit, but Khalon righted them and allowed an amused smile for the silliness of it all. He kissed her again, feeling his own desire building. He pulled back from the kiss and looked in her eyes.

"You're pretty good at that." He said quietly, his arms still around her.

She looked at him with honest innocence. "Good at what? You're the one that kissed me first." she said with a smile. If anything it was him. Getting weak at the knees was only something she'd ever read about in books. She didn't believe it was an actual thing.

He let go of her with a chuckle and walked over to grab the picnic basket he'd sat on the chair. Putting it on the ground, he lowered himself into a seated position beside it and began to rustle through it. He took out several large dishes and placed it on the ground around him.

"You okay to sit on the floor?" he asked, looking up at her.

"Yeah." Sofia replied. "I'm not as old as you so I'm sure I'll be fine." she joked sitting down and crossing her legs. "What have you got for me this time? You should have said and I would have brought something."

"Well, when I was a young wipper-snapper, the men did the date planning and the women enjoyed." he said, responding to both her joke and her comment at the same time. "And I believe you already agreed to cook next time."

He realized that the value he'd just expressed came complete from his father. Gabriel Price believed in chivalry and the duty of men to lead and protect. Khalon had always thought his ideals archaic and offensive, but every day he liked them better. Now he just had to make sure the old man never found out.

"I've got roasted chicken, Texas Style Potato Salad, Grilled Garlic Zukini, and for desert, Chocolate-Filled Starberries." he explained, uncovering every dish as he announced it. "I'm not a chef like you, but I know my way around a replicator."

Sofia giggled a little "It helps when your mother is a chef and we have our own restaurant. Both my brother and I are excellent cooks. I was made to help out a lot during summers and holidays. Picked up a few things. My mother always said the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach... I think that's why my dad is overweight." she said again giggling at the thought. "What you have brought looks lovely, replicated or not."

"Oh, so you want to get to my heart?" he asked, spooning food onto his plate. He looked at her intently to see her reaction.

Her mouth hung open. "I--eh--well. That's not..." She could feel her face heating up so fast it would look like a warp core breach. Not to mention she began to stutter. "I... just kinda meant that's what my mum says..." she began to twirl her finger in her hair and avoided eye contact for the immediate future.

Seeing that she was embarrassed, he reached up and moved some hair away from her ear with his hand. He smiled a warm and charming smile and allowed a small chuckle to escape from his lips.

"Your mom was right, by the way. At least, with me, that is."

She could feel the warm of his hand and smiled. Was it wrong she just wanted to lean into it?

"Good to know." She said as her eyes moved back to him. "I make good meatballs, if you like that sort of thing?" she half asked.

Magic words, Miss Sofia." he said, finally forking some food into his mouth

He looked happy, and that made her feel happy too. She knew it was only their second date but she liked him, he was fun. Although she was pretty sure he was the kind of person her Dad told her to stay away from but they weren't near that stage yet.

Sofia began to get some food for herself, every so often there would be a flash of colour from outside. As far as dates went, this one was a winner too.
To Be Continued...

A Joint Post By

Crewman Sofia Cipriani
Yeoman, USS Pioneer

Ensign Khalon Price
Assistant Chief Flight Control Officer, USS Pioneer


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