Changing of the Guard
Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
As the doors to the bridge opened the scene was not quite as Keith expected. Instead of the brightly lit nerve center of his beloved ship - his home away from home - the scene was lit in a moody lighting, with the flickering of simulated torches. There was a background sound of waves breaking, of seagulls in the distance, and the soft salty scent of the sea permeated the area.
Hel was sat in the center seat, as she'd be the one to do so with Keith not yet returned - but instead of her uniform she was wearing a layered dress in a semi-victorian style, but with the ruffles torn and stained, a wide brimmed hat on her head and a patch over one eye. In one hand a stein, in the other an extended, brass, nautical spy glass. As Keith entered though she flashed a grin, stood up and started to sing~
"The king and his men stole the queen from her bed, and bound her in her bones. The seas be ours and by the powers, where we will, we'll roam~"
The rest of the bridge crew wearing various pirate-y paraphernalia themselves, joined in the song. "Yo, ho, all together, hoist the colors high! Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!"
Keith stopped where he stood, a bemused hint of a grin on his face, as he narrowed his eyes and looked around the bridge at all of the crew, clearly in on the joke.
Seeing the grin, Hel continued to sing, leading the bridge crew in a chorus. "Some men have died and some are alive, and others sail on the sea! With the keys to the cage and the Devil to pay, we lay to Fiddler's Green~"
Without warning, Keith jumped up onto the guard rail around the bridge, "Avast, me hearties! Weigh anchor, and set the main sail," He said, in his best pirate voice, "We be waiting for but an order, the call of the win, to set sail again. Until then, me mateys, clean the cannon and tie down the riggings, and you," He said, pointing to Hel, "Swab the deck," He said, with a wink, getting a round of chuckles from the crew.
"The bell has been raised," He said, starting the song again, "From it's watery grave... Do you hear it's sepulchral tone? We are a call to all pay head the squall and turn your sail toward home!" He said, the crew joining back in again.
"Yo, ho, all together," He said, hopping off of the guard rail and backing toward his ready room, motioning for Hel to come with him, "Hoist the colours high! Heave ho, thieves and beggars!
Never shall we die!"
Buoyed by the Captain's response the bridge crew sprung to their feet and sang with more gusto. "The bell has been raised from it's watery grave, do you hear it's sepulchral tone? We are a call to all, pay head the squall and turn your sail toward home~ Yo, ho, all together hoist the colours high! Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die!"
Though when the song was over they all kind of trailed off and looked at each other, and Hel chuckled. "We hadn't planned ahead any further. Truth be told, didn't think we'd get this far." she smiled, leading the way into the ready room.
Keith laughed, "As you were, ye scurvy dogs!" He called out, before following Hel into his ready room and letting the door slide shut behind them. He was was chuckling all the way back to his seat, "That has to be the best welcome home I've ever received," He said, grinning ear to ear.
"Well, I'm glad you approve." Hel smiled, taking off her eye patch but leaving the hat on. She took a swig from her stein and placed the brass spy glass on Keith's desk. "Small gift from me to you. Picked it up on Earth. I don't know how old or original it is, but I doubt it's from the actual age of pirates." she mused.
"It's good to see you smiling and enjoying yourself." she said, turning more serious. "How you holding up? I know you well enough to know things still weigh on you."
Keith had picked up the spy glass and was looking through it with a grin as she asked, he pulled at down and looked over at her, the smile on his face diminishing a bit but not fading, "I'm okay... I got some good perspective on our trip, and... I'm still driven to find those bastards and bring them to justice, but... I've got a better handle on the rest now," He assured her.
"Thank you for this," He said, raising the spy glass with a smile, "It's amazing."
"Of course." Hel smiled. "You're not getting the hat, though. I'm keeping that one." she grinned, flicking the brim of her hat. "On a more serious note, ship's all good to go. All departments reporting ready. Routine maintenance finished and complete. There are still a few software updates I need to run on some tertiary systems, some minor calibrations, but I can do that while we're underway and they won't affect primary system's performance anyways."
"Sounds good to me," Keith said with a smile and a nod. "I heard on the way back that Starfleet is ready to get us back in the black, so I'm expecting orders in the next day or so," He explained. "How did you trip with Valeria go?" He asked.
"Very well, thank you." Hel mused, taking another swig from her stein. "Saw sights, shared culture, bonded." a smile. "Yeah it was good to get away from it all for a bit. And you? How was your trip with Sebell?"
"Excellent," Keith said with a warm smile. "Our trip was good, she jumped in a freezing lake with my dad, got to meet my former CO, and took me surfing in Southern California before we headed back," He explained with a smile.
"So, when's the wedding?" Hel grinned.
Keith laughed, "Nothing like that, my friend. I learned from my old CO that the best relationship with your XO is a strong, close one with a good understanding of what makes each other tick, that's all," he explained with a smile.
"And I learned from meeting Valeria that you can't deny your own heart, and sometimes it'll lead you to places you never thought it ever could." Hel smiled. "But I get what you're saying, and I'm glad you've got your priorities in order. Always a good thing to have in a ship's Captain."
Keith smiled at her and nodded, "What did Valeria think of Earth?"
"Beautiful planet, rich in history and culture. I showed her Machu Picchu, a World War I cemetery, put together a small Dia de los Muertos ceremony and took her to the site of the original moon landing." Hel mused. "Still so many things I want to show. But in the end it all boils down to wanting to impress someone who's already impressed in an effort to ensure she doesn't wander off and go find somewhere else to be impressed." she smiled.
Keith laughed at that, "Does seem like it, yes. I saw your flight plan... Eclectic to say the least. Seemed like the best and the worst, huh?" He offered.
A nod, and a more serious look. "She wanted to see the best and the worst. Couldn't think of something worse than systematic extermination, industrialized meat grinding like the first World War."
"I shuddered," Keith replied, "Going through that section of earth's history. It was sickening to read. We've come so far since then," He said, shaking his head. "Hell, even since World War III we've come a long way," He added.
"Did we though?" Hel took a sip of her drink. "That's what they said back then, too. Put the wrong leaders in charge, give them a few sycophants to follow them and who knows what will happen. By all rights the German people of the early twentieth century were reasonable people, except for a few." She sighed, shaking her head. "We're very good at pretending that our thin veneer of evolved sensibilities is more substantial than I suspect it is."
Keith nodded, "I don't disagree with that assessment, but I feel - and I am the eternal optimist - that we've learned enough, grown enough, since then that they'd have a harder time finding their voice," He replied. "Our carnal sides are there, but we are a different people today than we were there. Some of those seedy, shadowy places are still there... but they're the exception, not the rule," He said.
"They always were the exception, not the rule." Hel offered, her expression unchanging. "Visit some backwater colonies, ones far away from Federation policing, and come back to me on this whole discussion." She sighed. "Ah, nevermind. It's just me being fatalistic, I'm sure. Glad you're back, glad you had fun."
Keith laughed, "Nah, it's okay. I enjoy countering view points. My philosophy is one of faith in human nature. To date, we've gotten off course a few times - severely - but we always right it and come back to a place of peace and hope, at least for a little while," He explained. "I don't ascribe to the idea that our galaxy is full of rainbows and sunshine all the time, I think that's a shortsighted and dangerous way to thing, but I do believe that at the end of the day our mistakes are opportunities to learn, sometimes the cost of that education is too great... so I'm hoping that we've moved to a place of cooler heads and calmer hands," He explained. "Only time will tell on that one."
"And I'm glad you're back too," He said, smiling at his 2XO. "Thanks for the welcome part," He said, nodding out toward the bridge with a grin.
Hel smiled. "Figured I'd have some fun. That said, it's about time I changed. This dress is less comfortable than it looks." she scowled, tugging at her dress a bit. "Annoying to breathe in."
Keith chuckled, "Alright, Me Matey. Dismissed," He said, giving her a smile and a casual salute.
It was good to go home, but... it was good to BE home, too.