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TBD - Reporting For Duty Solwick/Blackford

Posted on Thursday November 2nd, 2017 @ 4:41pm by Ensign Erica Solwick II & Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford

Mission: Mission 0: Crew Arrival
Location: Sovac's Bar, Roosevelt Station


Back post: These events took place before the ceremonial change of command.

Erica was trying her best to contain her excitement, this was going to be her first opportunity to serve in Starfleet. She was raised on a Starfleet vessel, but she spent most of her time, hiding in a classroom, and learning how to avoid the Borg, Kazon, Malon and a lot of the races of the Delta Quadrant. This was going to be her time to serve, she hoped to do right by her parents, by her colleagues and more importantly by her fellow shipmates.

She had spent the past six years preparing for this day.

Six years was a long time to wait for a young girl who wanted to start her career at the age of 16. She had seriously considered starting her career as a provisional officer, her Mom had suggested it to her, but Erica wanted a real Starfleet commission not a field promotion. She was able to shave two years off the academy, by taking advance courses and not enjoying the summer break, most cadets would indulge.

She was very serious about her studies, and felt that she could offer her services as counselor to any and all that needed them. She had seen her share of war, and being scared. Erica choose to defeat her fears and help others do the same. She could recall there where several moments when the USS Zodiac was under attack by either pirates or the Borg, towards the end, what Starfleet would call the Omega Crisis of 2383.

There was times, when she deep in the class room, hiding under a desk, thinking to herself, this could be the moment, the moment where my life ended. And she looked at the moment then and even today, she felt that her life had more meaning, more purpose, she felt at that moment, a calling, a will to help others. She wanted to make sure, no one felt as helpless as she did, during that moment.

Erica had spent the past few weeks on a federation runabout, with some interesting characters. A Bolian, Tellarite and a Human pilot. The interaction of the Tellarite made the trip very amusing for her. She loved the aggressive, slightly vulgar behavior of the Tellarite. But she did her best to keep her distance from him, he was going to be assigned to the USS Rutledge, which happened to be traveling by Roosevelt Station.

She departed the runabout and made her way off of docking pad three, she took a look at her orders, she was told to meet with Lieutenant Commander Damien Blackford the First Officer of the USS Ark Royal. She looked twice at the meeting location, a little strange she thought, the academy said almost all reporting assignments took place in the ready room of the Captain and First Officer.

She wondered why would anyone want to meet at Sovac's Bar?

She thought about it for a moment, maybe the first officer wanted to get a chance to see the real character. A lot of people can put on a good game face and often rehearse a meeting in an office environment. It's not as easy to rehearse or prepare for a meeting when the meeting takes place in bar. The counselor in her was trying to analyze the situation that the first officer was placing her in.

Erica left the landing pad and made her way onto the promenade of the station. She had completed all of the station protocols and peasantries, her next stop was the bar, or so she thought. Something caught her eye from one of the promenade windows.

She ventured towards the window. In the window was the USS Ark Royal. Erica was still surprised to discover that Ambassador class starships where still in service. Why wouldn't they be, thought Erica. It was a good ship, a tough ship. Retired before her time. She found herself staring at the Ark Royal, she really liked the design of the vessel. After a short time, she decided she better continue towards Sovac's Bar.

She finally arrived at the the station's bar and hub for off duty entertainment, was a large crowd surrounding a table where several people sat playing at cards. Poker, in fact. There were stacks of gold-pressed latinum slips piled next to each of the players, and while the crowd was engaged in loud whispers of excitement, those sitting at the table with cards in their hands were all intense and stony-faced.

"I'll see your three, and raise you another five," Damien said, his voice so bland even discussing the sector's weather forecast would sound more interesting. The ensign on his left sighed and tossed his cards down on the table, started to gather up what little remained of his pool and bowed out of the game. Damien turned his gaze towards the next one in line.

The Ferengi, named Gok, dressed in the usual crash of muddy colors his people seemed fond of, which Damien thought made him look like a week-old bruise, glanced down at the table with beady eyes for a moment, and muttered to himself under his breath. "I think you are bluffing, hoo-man," he retorted, then with a flourish, tossed more latinum into the pile, followed a moment later by his cards. "I call. Flush, ha!!!"

Still with the same bored expression on his face, Damien set down his hand, fanned out the cards, and revealed, one after another, all four queens. The Ferengi's eyes bulged and he sputtered, but at least he didn't protest as the human scooped up the pile and drew it closer to himself.

"I insist we keep playing!" The Ferengi demanded and started to shuffle again. "I need a chance to win back my money."

"Then we're going to need someone to sit in," Damien said, and started to look around at the crowd to see if there were any takers.

"I am happy to sit in, Commander Blackford" suggested Erica, she was more than willing to take the latinuum of an eager first officer and desperate Ferengi. She had observed Damien playing, he liked to bluff a lot, but on the hands that he was strong, he tended to play down his hand, she was surprised Gok did not pick on this.

There was something a little smug or satisfied about Damien's bland expression as he gestured to the recently vacated chair, "Please, Ensign, we'd be glad if you joined us." Emotionally, he wasn't exactly difficult to read: though he had a decent amount of willpower, and might someday be the sort to have a strong enough mind that effort would be required to read him, he was still young enough that the Betazoid should have little trouble picking up on his feelings should she choose to use her gifts during the game.

If anything, he almost seemed like he expected this situation, and nodded for the Ferengi to deal. Damien sorted through his pile, picked out about fifteen slips, and slid them over to Solwick so she had something to bet with.

"The game is five-card draw," Gok announced as he started to pass out their cards. "Deuces wild."

She was watching his body language, she noticed his voice sparked up when she sat down at the table, it was clear to her that she was a distraction. She noticed that the Commander gave her 15 slips of latinuum. No doubt a loan, she better win her money back, so she can payback the Commander. The Ferengi seemed very pleased with the hand he dealt, which told her, either he rigged the hand or she was more of a distraction that she thought at first. She hated the fact, she was not able to read his mind, she would have to rely on body language.

"Thank you Commander Blackford" said Erica as she took the small loan from the first officer. "Ensign Erica Solwick, reporting in I think, strange place for a first meeting, sir" said Erica, she was a little out of her element. She wondered if the first officer had done this intentionally, she could read his mind to find out, but that seemed wrong.

After all the cards were placed, she grabbed her cards, and waited for Gok or Damien to make the first move, while she waited for them to make that move, she did her best to watch both of their body languages. She wanted to win this round, and make a good impression on the first officer, she knew from his file, he was a charmer, and a smooth talker. She wanted to see if she could contain that ability.

Erica looked at her cards she had two pairs, not a bad hand but not a great hand, she had two deuces and two jacks and the four card. "anyone want to place a bet" asked Erica, trying to sound confident in the hand she was dealt.

Damien, sitting to the Ferengi's left, went first. He only briefly glanced at his cards, carefully schooling his features to seem disinterested in what he saw there: three of the same suit, but only one high card, a queen. "I'll open with five," he said, and pushed the slips forward. As he did so, however, he started laying on those people skills, either to distract, get to know Erica, or perhaps a combination of them both.

"So, Ensign Solwick," he began, turning a bright smile of white teeth her way. "You know who I am, did your homework. I'm impressed. It's a very efficient way to start out a new position, finding out who you'll be working with ahead of time. Should we expect you to apply that same diligence to the rest of your career on board the Ark Royal?"

"Of course" said Erica as she noticed he was trying out his smoothing charm. He was testing the water, a little early but not unexpected. She noticed the Ferengi raised the bet to 5, a safe number, she knew he must not a great hand, she threw a five latinuum slip into the pile. She did not raise the bet, she was not going to risk it with two pairs. "I try to be prepared for all outcomes" said Erica, she wanted to see if Damien would break his charming persona, if he did, she could manipulate him in the card game.

Damien didn't even look at his cards as he pulled one of them from his hand and tossed it face-down on the table, and hardly seem to glance at the replacement Gok sent his way. "Excellent, Ensign," he continued without missing a beat. "I'm sure the Captain will appreciate it."

For how relaxed he seemed to be, confident and unconcerned about the outcome of the hand, it was hard to see any tells - which was a good thing, as Blackford had only a Jack-high hand after a failed attempt to get a flush.

The deal was now up to the Ferengi and Erica, she could not scan him, he was very cleaver and his race had a natural ability to being scanned. He noticed Erica did not up the beat he had one pair, his replacement cards where not that great. He decided to see how bold she was, he decided time for her to go all in and win, but mostly likely loose it all and see how she reacts.

"I'll raise you 10" said Gok as he through in ten more.

"I'll fold," Damien said with a shrug, setting his hand back on the table.

"I'll call you at 10" said Erica, who had a suspicion he was bluffing.

"Two kings and Ace High" said the Ferengi with a grin.

"Not bad, my two tens can not beat that" said Erica with a sad face. She noticed Gok reaching for the pot. "However there friends the two queens can surely help" said Erica with a grin on her face.

"Nicely played" said Gok. She slid the coins over to Damien. "Thanks for the advancement" said Erica.

"Oh no, Ensign," Damien held one hand up, wrist on the table, to block her way. Then he smiled, not like he had so far. There was something definitely mischievous about his look, as if he was being genuine for just a moment but had secrets, something that said there was a plan to everything that was happening. "We're not finished here."

Nearly an hour later, late enough into station time that most of the spectators save for a loyal few had gone to find their beds in the habitat ring or on board their ships. The three sitting around the poker table were intent on what was likely to be their final hand of the night.

Gok was losing, and badly, but game had switched to stud now, and he had three of a kind showing, in Aces no less. If he won this round, he would go home a little more poor than when he'd started, as the bet was a high 200 slips of gold pressed latinum.

Erica had three cards as well, but they where low, only fives, the bet was already up to 200 slips. She debated if she was going to gamble away the small fortune that she took from Gok? She was trying to study the facial features of Damien, he had put on his game face. He was serious now, and he had manage to slowly take a few slips from Erica.

Commander Blackford seemed almost as relaxed now as when the game had started, though a bit tired too. His winnings had thinned out a bit too, as Erica and the Ferengi had won a few hands, but he'd won more than enough off the other man to make up for it. If he won this hand, he cleared out Gok, and even with the advance he'd given her, Damien would walk away happy.

"I raise another...100 slips." It was his bid, and with a wave of his hand he slid the stacks of glittering gold into the center of the table. Gok made a strangled noise in throat, but Blackford didn't pay him any attention. Instead, he stared at Erica, face serious, body still, not even bothering with more than the first glance he'd taken at his cards - a possible full house.

She looked at her cards (5-5-5-3-J) and she debated, does she try to call his bluff, 100 slips was a pretty high bet. She could sense that he was very confident, a little two confident, if he was bluffing she would have been able to sense deceit from him, but she was sensing arrogance, she again looked at the three 5's she had with a jack high.

"To rich for my blood" said Erica as she folded her hand. Better to save a few chips than to waste them away on a lousily hand. She watched Damien take the small pot, with a big smile on his face. She took joy in the fact that Damien and her took a small fortune away from Gok.

With a theatrical groan, Gok scooped up what little remained of his earnings, and glared at the two Starfleet officers as he got up to leave, "If I didn't know any better, I'd have said the two of you were in cahoots. I would have figured you Starfleet types woulda been too honest for a game like poker!" Muttering to himself, especially after seeing the same smile on Damien's face that he'd worn as soon as Erica folded, he left with what little money and dignity remained to him.

"Well, Ensign Solwick, it seems your powers of observation extend beyond the telepathic," Damien complimented the young woman as he started to transfer his latinum into a bag. "You seemed to have picked up on every time Gok was bluffing tonight." And a few times with himself too - he was going to have to up his game.


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