Episode 4: Fires of Arcadia
Location: Rooftop of Bar - Arcadia
Timeline: Just prior to the team's various objectives
Jovani, as the most junior member of the group gathered at the bar, had been given guard duty. He didn't mind it so much, except he wasn't exactly dressed for it. He'd ventured out into the station from the Defiant on a mission to buy some real, handmade boxing gloves. He'd somehow left his own behind on Luna, and even if it was a long-shot it was worth a try. He hadn't found any, but he had found a fantastically overpriced antique, and surprisingly still functional, phaser pistol, and had bought that instead. Now, here he was, crouched on the rooftop, dressed in a pair of jeans, some sneakers, and a tank-top, with his ridiculously tall frame trying to hide behind the short wall of the roof.
Phaser in hand he was scanning the surrounding area, watching as various people moved around, some obviously infected, looking for those that weren't. They were all far enough away that he didn't feel it necessary to alert the party of officers downstairs. So far he hadn't seen a single thing that worried him anywhere near close enough to be considered within weapons range.
When he heard footsteps coming up the stairs behind him he angled himself so he could see the approaching person and brought the phaser up to bear on them as soon as they were visible. He was glad for his training, because his heart was hammering, and he felt a sweat break out on his forehead, but his left hand didn't so much as tremble. When the familiar figure of Amelia came through the door of the stairwell he actually let go of a breath he hadn't even realized he was holding. "Girl..." he said, letting his hand drop and shaking his head as a chuckle came up out of his chest. "You can not just walk up the stairs like that. I could have shot you," he added.
"You could have tried to shoot me," Amelia teased. She settled herself down next to him making sure to keep out of sight herself, admittedly with much less effort. "But sorry to startle you. You feeling ok?"
Giving the woman the side-eye Jovani smirked, and then laughed. "Prolly true. You do have more experience than me," he said, and then glanced over at her. "Yeah, I'm straight... just lonely up here, and a little boring. Figured with all the action I'd have more to do than watch people wander around," he added, looking wistfully over the area they could see easily from where they were.
"What about you? How are you holding up?" he asked, turning back to look at her again.
"I'm alright. Tense as hell given the situation we're in. But since you're good, I think I'll be keeping both of these to myself," Amelia said pulling two beer bottles out of her jacket pockets and removing the top of one carefully. She flashed a smile at him
"That how it is now, just gonna leave a dude hangin'?" he asked, grinning incredulously at her as she took a swig.
She gave him an innocent look, before finally relenting and handing the other bottle over to him after a moment. "You know, you don't need to be ok. You're in just about as terrible a situation as you'll see in your career. Being ok isn't a requirement."
Jovani popped the top and took a long chug of the cold beer. Staring off into the distance he contemplated what she said, "You aren't wrong about that. But, honestly, I'm dealing," he replied, glancing at her. "Besides, this is what I signed up for. It was either this or something so boring I'd probably end up an overweight forty-five-year-old desk jockey like my uncle. He works in a shipping and receiving office, and his life is so damned sad it makes me want to end it all. I couldn't do that. I had to get out of there," he added, looking away again.
"I can understand that," Amelia said, taking a swig. "See, me? I came out here looking for adventure. Thought I was pretty ready for anything. But the stuff you see sometimes...it changes you. I've been in a few rough spots and I came away with some baggage. Ended up with trust issues. I couldn't feel safe anywhere. Believe it or not, today was the first time I'd actually sought counseling for it. And then this..." She gestured vaguely at the station. "Worst part is, I can kick the ass of just about anything we come across. But the scariest stuff is what plays out in your head."
She looked over at him. "I'm not trying to psych you out. I'm just saying it's ok to be psyched out. It's important to realize when you are so that you can stay focused and alert. Or so you can avoid panicking and shooting your fellow officer when she comes up the stairs to bring you a beer."
Swallowing the swig of beer he'd just taken as quickly as he could to keep from spitting it everywhere Jovani laughed. Holding his beer bottle up he nodded, "Touche!" he replied. "But, if you want total honesty, this is freaking me out," he added.
"When they first told me what was going on I didn't even know if I believed it. I thought it was some elaborate prank on the new kid. Now, seeing it first hand, it's absolutely terrifying. I just keep wondering which of the people I'm supposed to be relying on to keep me safe, and who I'm supposed to be keeping safe, is going to turn out to be a freaking zombie, ya know?" he asked, looking over at her, his brow creased, and a confused look in his eyes.
"I know exactly what you mean," Amelia took another swig. Despite her perpetually stoic expression, it was the situation was definitely getting to her. "I'm just gonna follow whatever Captain Reynolds tells me to do. The woman is tougher than you'd think. One of these things got the drop on her alone in her own ready room, before we even knew they could take us over like that. And before we knew about their enhanced strength. She lived. It didn't. As far as I'm concerned, that's all I need to know."
It took Jovani a while to respond. He sat, with a pensive look on his face, swirling the remaining, and rapidly warming beer, around in the bottom of the bottle, and then finally downed it with a grimace. "I don't know any of you all that well. Hell, I just got here a few days ago and already I'm in the middle of what sounds like the plot of a twentieth-century b-movie horror story," he replied, finally.
"But, I don't really have much choice. Right now, in this moment, y'all are all I've got, and I've already decided that's going to have to be enough for now. So, that's where I'm at right now, I hope that doesn't sound naive, but it is what it is," he added.
"It sounds reasonable," Amelia said, downing her beer. "We're a good group once you get to know us. Once all this is calmed down, you'll get a better chance to meet everyone. I can't say my time on Defiant has been uneventful. But we seem to have a knack for getting out of situations we shouldn't."
"Good to know, and yeah, I look forward to getting to know people. Growing up on Luna I was never around the most diverse of communities. It's not as small as it used to be, but still, it's not like living on Earth, or even a space station. I'd like to start meeting people, learn and grow past what I've always known, or what was knocked into me at the academy, ya know?" he asked.
"I know exactly what you mean," Amelia said, playing with her empty bottle. "I'd offer another, but given the situations we're headed into, I think one drink is plenty. If you want, I can grab something with a bit more caffeine though."
Jovani shook his head, "Nah, I'm good. Thanks for that though, and for the talk. It helped with my nerves. I don't want to get all jittery again though," he said, explaining why he'd said no to something caffeinated.
"Any idea when we will be heading out?" he asked.
"My guess? We'll probably head out in a few phases. They'll want to send out the teams for the baryon field and transporter emitter first. Then probably your squad, to draw attention off the others. Then it'll be me and the civilian convoy."
"That makes sense. I'm anxious to get started, honestly. I don't even know why. There's a good chance I won't even make it back alive, but I feel like I'm just itching to get going. This will be my first real combat situation," he admitted.
"Anyway, I've taken up enough of your time. I'm sure you've got important stuff to be getting ready for. Thanks again for the beer!" he added, with a genuine smile.
"Any time," she said, taking his empty bottle off of him. "Just stay focused and we'll get through this." She headed off down the stairs leaving him to his watch.