Excercise (The mountain lion and the wolf)
Mission: Little Things
Ceclia Rau was a woman who could only tolerate long stretches of space travel by keeping as active aboard ship as possible. When she could use the holodecks, she took advantage of return to nature...however artificial. Time in those could be unpredictable on a beat-up ship like the Minerva, so she didn't count on it. Instead, she'd jog the quarters. One slight difference between her jogging routine and that of "normal" people was that she liked to do it in the form of a mountain lion from Earth.
Those who had been on the ship long enough were used to seeing this large, angry-looking cat running through the halls. For those who were new, well, it could be...startling.
Bente, being new and all, well, it.. was.
"What the fuck?" she exclaimed as she saw the animal running her way. Her brain needed a moment to kick and figure out what was probably going on. Her eyes narrowed as she stopped and put her hands on her hips. Nothing she could do about the startled curse anymore, but she wouldn't be completely thrown off her game.
The big cat noticed her first officer, and heard the curse. She briefly considered just running on by, but she didn't. She slowed, trotting to a stop, and then shifted back into her uniform. Luckily, she was a shifter who kept her clothes with her, which in this case were workout style. "Commander," she greeted with a nod, casual-like as if she had not, in fact, just been a large animal moments ago.
Bente watched the transformation in amazement. She knew it could and possibly would happen, but nothing could quite prepare you for it. When there ended up being a woman in front of her, she shook her head. "You really eat XO's for breakfast, don't you?"
Cecilia smiled (well, smirked) slowly. "That's classified."
"Classified?" Bente pulled a face. "You'd think the food in question would be entitled to know," she muttered, but loud enough to be heard.
"You'd think," Rau drawled, "but the diner in question isn't inclined to answer."
Bente still didn't know what to think about this female (You could hardly call her a woman, could you?). "You do this often? Run around scaring people?"
Cecilia stretched her arms over her head, crossing each one over in turn to keep her muscles warm. "Run around? Yes, frequently. The scaring people part is variable. Most of the crew here is used to it and aren't bothered anymore."
"Hmm," Bente replied, thinking it through. Yeah, once you got used to seeing a large cat run around on the ship, it wouldn't bother you anymore. "Why do you choose this particular form to stay in shape?"
"Old habits die hard," Rau replied with a faint half smile. "It was a form I tried while still on Earth, long ago. I liked it, so I've kept with it. Running on four legs is much more enjoyable than running on two, and this form is lither and more agile than many other quadrupeds."
Bente tried to take that all in, and to make sense of it, but she failed. So, instead, she just nodded slowly. This was a weird creature. This creature could actually eat XO's for food. It also sounded like a creature with a lot of experience. Didn't want to mess with that. "Just how old are you?" she asked eventually. The accessible part of Rau's file was sketchy about that. Well. It mentioned an age. But it couldn't be true? Could it?
This was actually the fun part of new officers, particularly the brief times she'd had XOs. Watching it all scroll through their eyes when they realized that for once the crazy rumors were actually true... Rau smirked again and tilted her head as if deep in thought. "My earliest memories begin in a forest on Earth. Germany. Early sixteen hundreds."
So the file was correct. Impressive. And intriguing. Bente couldn't recall the last person that had intrigued her to this point. This could be interesting. "I'd love to hear about it some time," she blurted out. Then she snapped her mouth closed so suddenly that it made for a loud thud. Did she really just say that out loud?
Cecilia snorted by way of a laugh. A dark one, at that. "Research Europe in the early seventeenth century and think about being an alien there. You might not want to hear about it anymore."
This made Bente glare at Rau. She was being called out over a momentary lapse in mouth control. "Fine. Be that way," she muttered. Her intrigue and interest immediately tuned down a few notches.
Touchy, Rau thought with a amusement. "I always am."
Bente continued to glare, but some of the intensity faded. She could appreciate that comeback. "At least it's obvious why they keep most officers out of your reach."
The captain shrugged, but there was an expression on her face that suggested she was rather proud of that fact, but then she chuckled and tilted her head. A little like a big cat talking to something it was about to pounce. "And yet they threw you on here. Still makes me wonder who you pissed off. It's a fairly elaborate way to get rid of them to put them in my reach."
The XO only grunted noncommittedly to that. It was about the only piece of knowledge the CO had shown interest in and which she could thus purposely keep from her. The changes in facial expression of the other woman were worrisome. They kept her on her toes that she wasn't talking to a normal human. "Don't you have a run to finish?"
Rau grinned wolfishly. "Trying to get rid of me?"
As much as she was prone to giving offense, the captain did not take it lightly. "Fair," she said with a shrug. "I appreciate honesty." With that, she shifted back into her big cat form, eyed her XO for a while, then turned and loped away.