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Guest Laarell

"An Insinuating Discussion"

Though the Science department had never been her favorite (for obvious reasons), Victria found herself walking through the doors calmly. She had decided that if she were going to be working closely with the Orion that she was going to ignore her jabs and smug innuendos. The next few days were going to be a strong test of her control and willpower.


She paused just inside and glanced about, studying the various pieces of equipment that were unfamiliar to her. On one of the desks, she noted a clear container with some sort of creature residing within. As no one currently seemed to be present, she inspected the creature while she waited, tapping softly on the side to see if the furry being was actually alive.


"She doesn't like having her cage tapped," a slightly grating, familiar voice rang out. "If you want to see her, I'll take her out of her cage."


"Is this a pet or something you keep to snack on?" Victria straightened slightly and glanced from the spider to the approaching Orion.


"Pet." She disengaged the roof, reaching in and pulling out a hissing orange bug. "Well, supposedly, an experiment in arachnids-in-deep-space. Care to hold her? Her name is Citrus."


Victria arched an eyebrow and held out her hand to accept the pet. "Is it venomous?"


"Highly. But not lethally." She smirked. "It bit a Vorta and said Vorta didn't even feel it."


"Vorta scum are known for their immunities. But the Scorpiad have several toxins that even they cannot survive." She studied the spider as it crawled over her hand, turning her arm to compensate when it seemed in danger of falling.


Laarell watched avidly. "Careful now -- she sometimes scampers up towards your shoulder. She likes to perch there -- don't panic if she does." A smile. "I dare say she likes you. Or maybe just your body temperature..."


Victria was not one to panic, but she made no corrections. She supposed that most humans were either not fond of such creatures or that they feared their bite. "Amusing," she said after watching the spider for several moments. Carefully she plucked the crawling arachnid from her arm and placed it back inside the cage.


"Very well, Lieutenant. My office? It's quieter in there." Her smile was almost -- gods, friendly?


"Of course," she nodded her assent. Her gaze flitted about the lab as they headed in that direction as if worried that someone might witness the two of them being cordial to one another.


Laarell paid it no mind, almost formally holding the door open for her as she passed through. "So I don't have need to invite you inside, hmm?"


"No," she stated, though was somewhat baffled by the question. She took stock of the state of Laarell's office, searching for the infamous items that rumor said she kept, but Victria saw nothing unusual. "Do you have an idea of where you would like to begin?"


"Somewhat. How well-known do you think this object is?" She flicked on her monitor, pulling up all the information that the Satarimi had distributed. "Would an 'average Joe' know what it is?"


"If it is as infamous and as valuable as the Satarimi would have us believe, I would guess that it would be well known. One thing I did not understand and that no one would clarify was the circumstances of the removal from the Satarimi homeworld. If was taken under duress, then it may be an item of importance to these people. Perhaps as a trophy."


"I don't know either -- it's not in the documentation. I suspect it's deliberately vague." She tilted her head to one side, considering. "Supposedly we're headed to a world that's a... conglomeration of species in the region. Perhaps someone there will know?"


"Though the real quest will be to discover if we can find this object without starting an intergalactic incident. I doubt they will wish to part with it."


"I suspect either bribery or conflict. Or a good combination of both. Our track record with infiltration isn't a good one, as you noted." Laarell flopped back in her chair.


"Yes," she managed to say without disdain. Taking a seat, she linked her fingers together in her lap. "Did you learn anything of the Satarimi while on their planet?"


"Some. Their culture is so ancient... it's fascinating. Not particularly belligerent... creative and artistic. Very... airy, if you speak elementally." Laarell shrugged. "You?"


"Quite a bit, actually. A guide took me on a tour of one of their abandoned underwater cities. It was fascinating."


"You swim?" she asked, staring at her.


"I had not attempted it before, but I did not find it difficult." Reclining slightly in her chair, she seemed more relaxed than usual, perhaps recalling the calming images of the Satarimi ocean. "But from my contact with the people, I find it difficult to believe that they would be involved in any type of deception. I would think it would be against their nature."


"You believe them... honorable... or pacificists?" she asked, an eyebrow arching.


"I believe that it would be extremely difficult for one or more of them to be involved in blatant deception without their entire population being privy to it. Their telepathic abilities are extensive."


"But if the majority of them... I don't know... agreed that deceiving us would be wise, wouldn't that put a different spin on things?"


"Yes," she nodded. "I would not rule that out, especially if this Crownstone is something valuable enough to them that they would do anything to have it returned."


"So first order of business is to find out the exact origin of this thing. Then we find out where it is."


"The origin and purpose, I would suggest. It could be dangerous, which would explain the Satarimi's inability or unwillingness to retrieve it themselves."


"It seems unlikely to be a... mere trinket," she agreed. "Or even highly valuable for materials -- gems or latinum or such. Care to speculate on a purpose? I wonder if it connects to the telekinetic powers of the people..."


"That was my initial thought," she said with a nod. "Perhaps it is some type of resonator for their telepathic powers. Or it may even be a tool connected to their ability to alter light and energy through telekenisis. It is disappointing that we do not have one of the Satarimi here with us to question directly."


"Indeed. I would think they wanted it so, however..."


"At this point, speculation seems useless," she said, unable to formulate any more theories. "We need factual data to analyze. If we are not able to discover any hint of this stone we may have to abandon this lead."


"You sound like a scientist," Laarell commented dryly. "I'm glad I brought you on my team. Very well -- we'll leave conjecture to the future. And oh, Lieutenant -- you're with me when we go lead-hunting on the spaceport world." She grinned.


"You seem as though you are expecting an extensive pursuit," she observed, eyebrows lifting.


"I expect to go searching in many disgusting, alcohol-filled dives for the nastiest antiquities collectors on the block, and see if anyone's got some ideas on who might own it. Sound like something you'd like?"


"I am always eager for almost any type of hunt," she replied with a smirk. "Though I am still curious to know why you selected me for your team."


Laarell gave her an answering smirk. "So that, when we're in the bars, you can see how many men fall at my feet to buy me drinks? And besides, how pale you are complements my own rich green nicely." She considered, looking up towards the ceiling as if trying to remember something. "Oh, right -- and you're not bad to have around in a fight. Dismissed, Lieutenant. If I think of anything else, I'll let you know."


Victria snorted, somewhat more comfortable with this version of Laarell than the polite facade. Rising from her chair she felt the need to comment, "If, indeed, this station is the sort that harbors unsavory characters and general space-faring scum, I am certain that a female of your talents will be most welcome."


"Yours too," she couldn't resist answering. "After all, I don't think a person in either of our departments has to guess why the captain invites you to every meeting, on every away team. It's certainly not as if you're... loyal..."


"I am loyal to a great many things," Victria retorted, "and hold various levels of trust. One could assume that if Corizon sees fit to include me in his plans that he trusts me implicitly with that information. Perhaps he sees in me the one being on this ship that truly understands him."


"Perhaps," she allowed. "Perhaps not. But really, Victria -- I think the insinuations are quite uncalled for. While all the evidence points to you being quite the little working girl-vamp, I suggest you keep your thoughts on my conduct to yourself."


"True, I suppose," she said thoughtfully. "The both of us have certain reputations and are the topic of many rumors, few of which are accurate... totally accurate, at least." She leveled her gaze at the female Orion. "Let us make concessions, then. I shall not insinuate or reference any type of promiscuity on your part... and you will cease referring to me as a vampire."


She grinned. "You do know that it's a compliment, don't you? A 'vamp' is a dangerous woman, seductive and guileful."


"And yet you somehow always manage to use it negatively, as in leech or blood-sucker or parasite."


"Those do sound accurate," she admitted. "Very well -- we are not in kindergarten. I'll not reference you as a vampire bloodsucking leech again."


"Very well. And I shall refrain from continue using derogatory terms such as 'whore' to describe you, no matter how often I hear it mentioned," Victria said, grinning again. "I look forward to our outing wrestling match, Commander. Until then." Already at the office door, she disappeared into the science lab.

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