Episode 4: Fires of Arcadia
Location: Savior Hair, Promenade Pier, Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: MD3, Midday
Michaela scrolled through the news on her tablet, humming a tune that only she knew as she finished her perusal of the daily tabloids. Nothing particularly sensational... just the usual nonsense to drown out the few kernels of truth. It was reading to pass the time, and since she was on shore leave, there was no way she was going to start reading the latest batch of engineering journals. Plus, she had too much to do. Very important things to do.
Today was salon day!
The engineer couldn't remember the last time a professional had tended to her hair. The ship's barber was adequate, but his style was so... regulation, and she didn't like having to explain every little thing she wanted. Her hairdressers on Arcadia Station knew not only how she wanted her hair done, but also her overall sense of style and what products she used to maintain it. The barber simply couldn't be bothered with all that.
Michaela set down her tablet, waiting for Caroline to finish getting ready. She'd surprised her friend bright and early, hoping to catch a glimpse of Isley in the early morning, to see if she really did roll out of bed with perfect hair. She hadn't succeeded, as the bed had already been made when she arrived. But the science officer seemed to have a very thorough beauty routine... more thorough than her own, anyway.
"Oh come on, Sweetie! We're going to be late!" Michaela called out in a playful tone as she lounged on Caroline's bed, lying on her tummy and idly kicking her bare stockinged feet. Her friend had been in the bathroom looking at the mirror long enough for Michaela to sneak on one of her uniform dresses in sciences division blue. It actually fit... pretty decently. Not as good as her own, of course, but well enough. She gave it a fifty-fifty chance that Caroline would freak out over the audacity.
Caroline was extremely particular about her hair. The length had to be exact. It had to be perfectly straight. And, although she would never admit that this didn't come naturally to just anyone, the color also had to be just the right shade of light blonde. In general, she did a lot of this herself and just let the ship's staff help her manage it. A professional salon worker was both exciting and scary. She really wanted to get it touched up by someone who knew what they were doing, but she wasn't quite sure about doing it in front of her shipmates . . . particularly Michaela. But she had committed. And it might be fun.
"I'm coming . . . I'm coming," the blonde said as she exited her bathroom and then stopped in her tracks as she saw Holland in one of her uniforms. At first there was a flush of irritation -- Isley liked her clothes to be just so when she wore them. But it quickly gave way to a smile at the silliness of it. The uniform actually fit Holland better than Isley would have guessed. It was a bit loose in, well, the bust and definitely not quite the right length (although Caroline cheated a bit and selected a slightly shorter size than was quite regulation), but Michaela didn't look all that bad.
"Um, thinking of a transfer?" Caroline asked as she walked over and gestured up and down at the uniform. She giggled and then put her arms around Michaela's neck. "If so, I think you might have an in with the department head."
Michaela had scooted to sit on the edge of the bed when Caroline came into the room and walked over. She stood, and stepped into Isley's embrace. Her words registered, but all Michaela could think about was her giggle. It was magical. She only needed to go up on tiptoe just a little bit to get the perfect angle for a kiss. She wanted it to last forever.
"I always wondered if I'd look good in the blue." Michaela admitted, feeling silly about admitting it, even though she knew she more than likely wasn't the first officer to wonder what it would look like to wear another color. For all she knew, Caroline had thought the same about gold or red. She kept her arms around her waist, not wanting to be the first to let go.
The embrace went on for a long moment, before Caroline slowly slid away. It wasn't necessarily by choice, but they needed to get ready. "Blue is my favorite color," she said, smilingly fleetingly, and holding up her hands, showing blue nail polish that matched her usual uniform shade. "But you look very good in red. That's always how I picture you."
Michaela took a seat again once Caroline stepped back to let her finish getting ready. "Pink was mine..." she said with a coy smile "...up until, well... this." She gestured to her hair, which was still a soft pinkish-blonde. Granted, it had only been a few weeks since the mishap in the computer core, where core coolant had dyed her hair an unfortunate magenta color. Most of that had washed out fairly quickly, thank the stars, but the hints of pink just wouldn't go away. She was desperately hoping her hairdresser would know what to do about it.
She grabbed her space diva boots off the floor as she complained about her hair, and attempted to make a show of donning them for Caroline, but the heeled over-the-knee boots were just as awkward to pull on as they were to walk in, so she quickly cut the show short when she realized she probably just looked like an idiot.
"I think I'm ready." Michaela said. Clearly, she intended to go out wearing one of Isley's blue uniforms. Her red one was half-draped over the back of a table chair. She continued to smile shyly at Caroline, as if wondering whether the other woman would actually allow for them to be seen in matching outfits.
Isley raised an eyebrow at Michaela's statement. So she was going to wear the science uniform out. That was interesting to say the least. It was perhaps a little on the nose for the two of them to go out wearing almost the same thing, especially since Holland wasn't a science officer, but Caroline decided against objecting. Clearly Michaela wanted to wear one of Isley's dresses, and the science officer thought that was cute.
"At least we won't have matching hair," Caroline said with a wry smile and she motioned to the door so the two of them could leave.
Michaela stuck out a bit of her tongue in a teasing expression as she moved past Caroline toward the door. She slipped her hand into hers and gave it a gentle squeeze, then loosened her grip as she kept moving and reached the doorway, wondering if her hand would slip free. She'd pulled the same move in Club Starlight, in getting Isley out on to the dance floor with her. She didn't want to pressure Caroline into sharing potential public displays of affection; that wasn't cool. But she was playful. And of course she had her own way of testing limits to see what her friend was comfortable with.
Isley allowed Michaela's hand to loosely guide her to the door, not separating. It felt nice and she completely forgot about any objections she might have had to public displays as they left for the station.
Savoir Hair was definitely one of the nicer hair salons on Arcadia Station. The name was a word play of the phrase savoir faire, which Michaela didn't remember the meaning of. Her French was not great. and her memory for languages was equally poor. She could see Layla, her usual hairdresser, in the window attending to another patron, but for the most part the salon was appointment only, and there were not many people waiting. It seemed they were just barely on time.
Michaela couldn't quite place it as she turned to enter with Caroline, but something didn't feel right. She looked around quickly, but was so focused on getting her hair done that she seemed poised to dismiss her suspicions.
Caroline was too focused on the salon itself to notice anything out of place. She was trying to judge the quality of their work by some of the patrons, but there weren't enough around for her to form a strong opinion. And no one had hair quite like hers. She thought of asking Michaela for more details about her own hairdresser, but then figured that they would probably be done at the same time, so they would use different people. The blonde started idly playing with a strand of hair as she waited and pondered.
"I don't know who your appointment is with, but trust me, sweetie, they won't let you down." She gave Caroline's hand another gentle squeeze before letting go. She stepped forward and the doors started to slide open.
In the distance, a slight ruckus could be heard. The crowd outside seemed to be milling about as normal, but a few people turned their heads and looked off in the direction of the Diplomatic Pier. And then a few more looked. There seemed to be a large crowd on the pier, but not much else was clear.
"Wait... what is going on?" Michaela said, hearing the commotion just as she was about to enter the salon. She turned to look, but all she could see were others stopping to do the same.
Caroline's eyes followed Michaela's. "I can't tell," she said. She craned her neck a little more, but still couldn't get much of a view.
Another moment or two passed and a faint chirping sound could be heard way off in the distance. Before anyone could quite recognize it, a much different sound filled the air.
Visible outside the salon windows and off on the left, the massive Command Tower suddenly became quite active. Along the length of the massive central building on the station, bright red running lights lit up, causing a wave effect up to the top of the station dome. Loud klaxons echoed throughout the station followed by the recognizable voice of the Starfleet Computer VI.
"Station Condition: Red. Unauthorized weapons fire detected along Diplomatic Pier. All civilians, get to safety immediately. Do not leave your shelter."
"Oh no... it's happening." Michaela said softly. Of course she'd been expecting something bad to happen, but there had been no certainty until now. It seemed like every plan they'd run through in the briefings had gone straight out the nearest airlock. The Defiant was quarantined, due to the baryon sweep, and she imagined its crew were scattered all over the station.
"What should we do?" Michaela asked Caroline, unconsciously clutching her arm. It was possible she would've been able to come up with a decent plan with a few more seconds thought, but she wanted to see what Caroline was thinking first.
"We have to get out of here," Isley said immediately. "We can't afford to get caught in any station lockdown." She had no idea what had started the incident, or even if there was any kind of a plan in place, but she knew that the two officers did not want to be swept up or detained by station security.
"Okay." Michaela said, understanding the need for urgency. They needed to regroup with the rest of the crew and come up with a plan. "Maybe we can find..." She started to continue, but saw some unfamiliar security officers approaching in the distance. If they didn't move soon, they might be singled out.
"Time to go!" Michaela exclaimed softly, giving Caroline's arm a final squeeze before letting go. She'd only then realized she'd been holding it. It was also time to see how good she was at running in high heels. She wished she had a phaser. Or some tools. Or her actual uniform. When the other officers saw her... she knew she would never hear the end of it. Funny that all that factored into her worries now.