Chapter 1
The Beginning. The End.
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The room had appeared quite neat a few hours ago---before Alara Keeves had taken it over. The floor had been clean, and things had been in good order. Books neatly lined a bookshelf, the furniture had been arranged, and things generally looked lived in, but not messy. But that was then, this was now. Now, Keeves, being the militaristic sort, never did really unpack and move in to her quarters; preferring to live out of a bag. Well, it turned out the half meter, by meter, by third meter bag, had more contents than it looked like.

Across his couch, clothing, in various types, mostly field-issue combat suits lay about. Also, in a rather organized pile, some weaponry dominated another chair. While some inexplicable candles had been set out about the room, and were burning peacefully in the dim lighting. His furniture had been moved to the extremes of the room to create a large open space. When someone said "make yourself at home" she took them frighteningly literally.

In the center of the room stood a very serious Ensign Keeves, two rather eastern style looking knives in her hands. At least they took the same style that had been come to known as eastern, east from where, Alara could never figure out. She had donned interesting exercise outfit which looked like it had a fair influence of Vulcan culture, but cut in militaristic fashion with severe angles and lines. It was a dark green, close fitting for mobility, and certainly efficient, if nothing else. On her right shoulder were embroidered several symbols in a vertical fashion, falling down the right side of her top.

Slowly, she moved in a fluid motion, the knives reflecting the candlelight around the room, flashing as she twirled them around with the skill of a master. She drew forward, striking out in a front kick, then moving against an imaginary opponent with two slashes across about her chest level. She turned her hips suddenly, leaning over and delivering a sidekick. Her movements were smooth, a kata of movements finely tuned, intending on bringing focus and clarity. To someone watching her movements, it looked almost like a dance; such was the beauty of it.

Beads of perspiration shone on her forehead, as her slow movements building in difficulty, demanding supple strength from her. The door opened behind her, casting a beam of light into the quarters. Alara turned around, emitting a loud yell, then slashed his direction, stopping the blade an inch from the figure's neck who stood there.

Johnson's eyes opened wide as his breathing halted. His eyes followed the tip of the blade from his neck up the arm of the bearer and into the face of Alara Keeves. Her eyes, piercing black, held intensity and passion, but also a calm control.

"Sorry... am I disturbing you?" His voice sounded hoarse and dry. He coughed slightly to clear his throat.

She moved away in a smooth motion, crossing the blades over her chest and bowing slightly. "Excuse me sir, I was not paying complete attention. My apologies." The very manner of her speech spoke of almost Vulcan emotionlessness, but she very obviously wasn't Vulcan by the darkness of her eyes, roundedness of her ear, not to mention the more militaristic cut of her hair being uniformly short rather than the severe lines of a Vulcan style.

"No problems... erm... I see you have moved your gear in." Johnson looked around the room and noticed the furniture had been changed. The Isannah had taken serious damage, causing many people to double-bunk and even triple-bunk in the undamaged sections. Keeves had been assigned here, by him. The exact phrase he used was 'make yourself at home,' he was regretting that now.

He leaned into his quarters slowly half expecting another assailant to burst out of the shadows at him. When he thought it was safe he half tripped and half stepped into his quarters. He noticed his desk was pushed right back towards the wall away from his bookshelf. No longer could he lounge back in his chair and get the textbook or PADD he needed. "I see you have made some more space." He tried to word things carefully half-expecting Alara to throw the knife in his direction.

But the woman didn't seem to hear his words, as she had happily gone back to her kata, and moved around the room gracefully. She slowly extended a leg in the motion of a side-kick, into the air, then took a step forward and front-kicked, arching her back and slowly stretching back with the grace of a gymnast. She lay a hand, resting her palm upon the knife handle, onto the floor behind her, then flipped onto her hands slowly. As her feet touched the floor on the other side, she struck aggressively at the empty space, her movements moving from the extreme of slow, to blindingly fast. Her concentration was not distracted by anything, and the look in her eye was intense and serious.

Johnson watched her as each movement occurred with a subtle grace. He couldn't help but admire the practice and dedication that Keeves had obviously devoted to this art. He watched her complete a turn, which Johnson believed, was not physically possible.

Finally, standing in a typical fighting stance, she raised the back of her right blade, almost touching her forehead, silently saluting an invisible partner. Then she turned to Johnson and smiled slightly. "Might I suggest you take a shower? I'll have this rearranged by the time you're done."

"Yeah I think I need it," Johnson walked into the bathroom. The door closed behind him and he jumped into the shower. He could hear movement in the room next door as Keeves obviously started to rearrange his furniture for the second time today.

Keeves made herself appear busy as soon as Johnson had replied. The first thing she did was put her knives back into their storage cases, with the sheaths carefully folded around the weapons. But as soon as he left the room, she looked up and smiled at the door he had gone through, shaking her head slightly.

Of course, Alara's busyness wasn't just for show, within five minutes she had the room arranged back into perfect order, the traces of her rather over-enthusiastic stay erased in just that short space of time. So, upon his return to the room he found a well organized Alara sitting on the couch with her feet propped up on the coffee table, crossed at the ankles. She sat peacefully, reading a padd with her elbow resting on the edge of the couch. When his eyes explored the rest of the room, he could see her belongings carefully stacked up in a neat pile at the other end of the room.

Johnson exited the bathroom in some casual combats and a loose shirt. He surveyed the room and felt happy when he realized that his room looked normal again. Keeves chuckled inwardly as Johnson fairly flopped on the couch next to her. She tried to hide a slight smile as she continued working over the schematics, and proposed upgrades that the Isannah would undergo when she reached base. Johnson looked at her for a moment; the thought crossed her mind that he so much reminded her of Shanl.

"How would you like to go down to the holodeck and do some training?" he asked out of the blue, quizzically looking at her.

Keeves thought for a moment, not tearing her eyes from her padd. If he was Shanl, her older brother, she would have tackled him right there, rolled him off the couch and attempted to put him an armlock. But she wasn't sure how Johnson, her superior, would react to that, so she simply clicked her padd off and tossed it to the table, uncrossing her legs and standing. "I'd love to." she said, finally meeting his eyes.

'Maybe I'll tackle him in the hallway...' she added mentally with a smile that revealed nothing.

Loaded: 03.10.2004

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