Mission of Mercy (poetlore and dunruffle)

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Cassandra jotted the four ingredients down on a piece of note paper and handed it to Jerry. "Separately they are harmless..seemingly. So long as they are never in the same place at the same time there is no issue. the two with checks next to them have no reason I can think of to be here at all." She had no doubt that they'd scanned the entire planet, but she was paranoid about such components and did not want to see anyone else suffer as the director had. "Thank you for reassuring me on this matter. I am not questioning the thoroughness of your search at all. Just the tactics of my former supply officer."

Harrison nodded, "Thank you. And with things the way they are now, the tedious tasks are going to stretch us, but Point and I will manage it all somehow won't we?"

Point smirked, "You will...I will handle things in the bays. I'm not going in there."

Harrison nodded, "Agreed."

When Jerry laughed at her suggestion Point blushed even more. She was about to apologize for mentioning it when he began talking and his words made her feel a bit less self conscious about her suggestion. "I hope he won't be upset. I really think it might help everyone." She was asking for her own mental health, but she couldn't believe she was the only one feeling cooped up and tense and in need of a little music and dancing. Most of the fleets larger ships, the Andromeda included had lounges and holodecks.

They all turned when the doors signaled that someone was entering. It was reflex to be alert and ready for a patient, but seeing Natalya in full officer stance and attitude, none of them eased off that mental state. Cassandra did not look away from the intense glare she was receiving, but maintained the steady eye contact for the entire thirty seconds.

Harrison wasn't sure he could have held the woman's gaze that long. He moved the few steps from the main desk to the small lobby area with Point almost running to hide behind him.

Cassandra stood a little slower and moved the device Harrison had made her to her waist and then began taking slow steps to the lobby as well. She remained standing the entire time, thinking it would be good work her legs since she'd been sitting a while. Her hands were shaking a bit by the time they finished though. Natalya's words had her brows raising, "I have never expected special treatment. Please do as you would for anyone." She wasn't sure if her words were heard of not, but she thought they likely were. She felt a now familiar stab to her heart at the loss of the one woman she felt kinship with as a friend. Perhaps it was a show but it didn't feel like one. She hadn't realized that she'd wanted or needed a female friend until she had met Natalya. now that they had become friends she found herself missing the pert comments and casual strength that relationship had provided. Especially since she was feeling vulnerable and weak and was now so very aware of her personal mortality and fragility.

Harrison was at her side the second the doors shut, "Rest now. You have been up too much. You need to lie down."

Cassandra shook her head but he was ushering her to bay two. "Harrison, I have things to do..."

Harrison shook his head right back at her, "You most certainly do Doctor. You have to rest your legs for three hours so you can then have another session of physical therapy." He was giving her that look that she knew quite well. "I will sedate you if I must."

Cassandra glared at him, "Not necessary...I will comply you tyrant."

Harrison leaned down and looked her right in the eye, "I learned from the master."
 
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The rest of the day was uneventful, only one person came into the medical wing and it was for a minor foot injury. The next morning Cassandra would see a message from the Director waiting for her on her personal terminal.

"Hello Doctor Brandford, I would like to talk to you. Come by my office at 1200 local time, there are several things I would like to discuss."

Upon entering the office lobby, Cassandra would be waved in by the expressionless secretary wordlessly. Inside Director Valentine's office, the mysterious leader could be seen rubbing the bridge of his nose in annoyance. Beside him, Doctor Brunel was talking animatedly and causing soot to stain the Director's desk. "-sonally throw the next idiot that tries to pull rank on me into a garbage compactor! For fucks sake Valentine your security goons need to be put on a leash! Every day one of my people is detained for no reason and your jackboot thugs never give me a straight answer! You wanna know why all of my department's behind schedule? It's because lately I spend more time in the security wing than in my office! I swear if your little pet Sokolov seriously injures someone I am going to punch her teeth in!" The Director to his credit weathered the verbal barrage and simply held up a calming hand. "Nadia, I will see to it that my security officers are less...enthusiastic about their duties. But you need act more like a responsible leader and less like a petulant child."
 
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Cassandra was not permitted to get out of bed when the foot injury entered the Med wing for treatment Both Point and Harrison assured her that they could easily handle it, and that it was MUCH more important for her to recover full and that would only happen if she rested as ordered. She huffed a bit but let them handle it. Once the patient left she peeked through the file on the sly and smiled at the efficient manner in which it was handled. She trusted them, but she still felt the need to double check things personally to make sure they were being handled properly, especially now.

Everyone went to their separate quarters, even her, after a brief 'discussion' with Harrison about her comfort level being much higher in her own bed than on the med wing cot. No one who ever spent any time in one would argue that fact, so she was escorted, by hand or rather arms, into her room and tucked into bed like a rebellious toddler. She had to smile at their fussing over her, and she did feel loved and well cared for though it was annoying in the highest degree to her independent nature. She slept very well, and was even able to shower alone in the morning with the help of Harrison's device which kept her steady.

She sat at her desk with a brush and dragged it through her hair when she saw the flash that alerted her to an unread message. She lifted a brow and sent a reply that she would be there promptly at noon. She twisted her long hair into a messy updo and dressed in her typical medical green scrubs for the day.

Harrison lifted a brow when he saw her. "You do realize you won't be working today?"

"I have a meeting with the Director at noon, I can hardly show up in a bathrobe. But yes, I'm aware I have therapy and rest on the agenda. Can I cout that shower as therapy?" she asked with a smirk on her lips, "It was quite the workout..."

Harrison chuckled, "You wish, Doctor. No shortcuts allowed, not that you will take any even if we offer them."

Cass laughed, "Ahh Harrison, you know me far too well. I am permitted breakfast before you torture me I believe."

Harrison produced a plate of food from the dining hall, and it was still steaming hot, "Just got back with your food."

She flashed him a look and then a slight pout at not being able to go to the dining hall herself, but the food looked delicious and smelled even better. She ate it all and then spent the morning being stretched and twisted and walking with the device and without it. When it was time to go to her meeting Harrison refused to let her leave without it and even though she was being stubborn and proud and trying to wield her rank, Harrison won in the end.

She smiled at the secretary who always seemed to be up to her armpits in work, "Good day to you," she said as she passed out of courtesy. As she entered she saw Doctor Brunel and the Director having a very one sided 'discussion' and she stood near the door so as not to intrude. it was however, impossible not to hear what was being said. She didn't mind the guards, but they didn't attempt to impede her work, had they ever done so, she felt sure her words would be a lot more heated than Nadia's. However, her work was more than a matter of deadlines, it often was a matter of life and death.

She did understand Nadia's frustrations with the strictness of the security, but with what had just happened, she also understood the need for it. She made note of the Director's motion rubbing the bridge of his nose and wondered if his head was bothering him. Was that why she had been called up to his office? She had agreed to do all scans and procedures here, but she was still learning the ins and outs of Harrison's implant and it full capabilities as well as allowing her neural transmitters to adapt to the new device and make all the millions of connections her old one had. She honestly had forgotten how long that took with the first one. She'd have to remind herself to look that up so she'd know for reference and future treatments of others with similar devices.

She was trying to see if the implant would send that message to her tablet as her old implant would have done and trying not to intrude on Nadia's time. She merely stood near the door and waited to be acknowledged.
 
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Seeing Cassandra at the door, Director Valentine waved a hand for her to come closer. "Doctor Brandford, punctual as always. Please come in, Doctor Brunel here was simply loudly voicing her complaints." Nadia ran a hand through her hair and made a rude noise but gave Cassandra a courteous nod. "Let Harrison know the project he helped with is done. Should be getting an action report after it's first use." Leaning back in his high back leather chair, Director Valentine steepled his fingers and gave the two women a dispassionate look. "You both have been called here for the same reason. I recently got a status report from Jerry and it had a very...interesting suggestion." Standing up, the with Director straightened his uniform and walked over to the large wall with window overlooking the lava lake. "To be honest it has been a long time since a report surprised me, but I am not arrogant enough to take undue credit for ideas not my own. Frankly it is quite the coincidence. Your nurse, Point was her name? Unwittingly provided a solution for Nadia's problem." The Director paused as he realized his slip-up in using Nadia's first name. Clearly the two had an interesting relationship as Nadia was not being reprimanded for her informal speech. Continuing as if nothing happened, the Director motioned to the massive facility around them with a wave of his arm.

"As you know, morale is a crucial part of any operation. I have been pondering ways to improve the general emotional state of everyone here without creating a possible breach in security. Nurse Point's suggestion of some sort of recreational activity was just the needed solution. So as of today I am implementing a vacation time policy. All personnel will be able to take a scheduled leave of absence to either a pre-approved vacation destination, or the location of any family members." Turning to face the two women, the Director smirked as Nadia stood slack jawed in shock. "For you two specifically it will hold another purpose. While you are away we will be having a trial period for possible replacements for you. This way should either of you be... unavailable. Your departments will have a suitable leader available." In the corner Brutus snorted and mumbled something incomprehensible that only the Director seemed to understand. Shushing the towering brute like he would a small child, the Director sat back down in his chair. "Expect your travel details to be sent to you by the end of the day. Unless you have any questions, you are dismissed." Nadia suddenly let out a happy whoop and punched the air. "Hell yes! Vacation time!" Almost sprinting out of the room, Nadia blew past the secretary, ignored the elevator, kicked open the doorway to the tower stairs, and began leaping down the long stairwell out of sight.
 
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Cassandra moved forward when she was bidden and nodded. She offered Nadia a bright smile at hearing Harrison's project was accepted and being implemented. She was sure he'd be of help in R&D and she was glad to see that faith was coming to fruition. "I'm sure he'll be glad to hear that." She made no mention of the condition of Harrison's face when he returned from Nadia's department only a day ago but she'd heard the whole tale.

They'd both been called? that had interesting implications. She listened as the Director praised Point. She smiled at that, and she knew Point would be ecstatic over it. She nodded when he got Point's name right and let him continue. Vacation? She was not able to stifle the groan that welled up within her at those words. "I'm not.." She blinked as Nadia let out a whoop and darted out or the room. Her shock at that light hearted display was obvious and had her stunned into silence for a few seconds. She turned back to the director and sighed, "i'm not very good at down time..." She admitted, "Can I take anyone with me?" She frowned, "I keep in close contact with my family and it's harvest time there so they wouldn't have time to spend anyway..." Her voice trailed off when she saw his expression. Her lips scrunched up, "ok..where CAN I go..these...approved places?"
 
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Dunruffle

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Giving Cassandra a small and knowing small, Director Valentine tapped his fingers together a few times. "Actually I have your trip already planned out. You and your team will travel together and reservations have already been booked. If you absolutely must work on something while you are supposed to be relaxing, make a list of possible recipients for Doctor Sechen's organs. You have access to the entirety of this base's personally and their medical records. I am sure you could find a few people who would benefit from the new organs. Now I am sure you want to prepare and pack, your travel documents will arrive tonight and you will leave at the end of the week. That way your stand-ins will arrive shortly after you leave. Now if you wouldn't mind, I have some calls to make and people to threaten." Making a shooing motion with his hands, the Director watched Brutus gently push Cassandra out of the office. The stone-faced secretary seemed to never rest and was dutifully taking calls and making memos while ignoring Cassandra. The few local guards in the lobby gave Cassandra varied greetings as the main elevator doors opened with a soft chime.
 
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Already planned? her gaze locked on his and there was a very knowing exchange there. He was up to something...they both knew it, but only he knew exactly WHAT. Before she could put a voice to the thoughts she was physically in the lobby once more being greeted by the local guards. Her suspicions and confusion were instantly replaced with a wide smile as she greeted them by name and asked after their health. She was making an attempt to learn every one of their names just as a matter of respect and friendship. She was determined to undo all the bad the former doctors had done and show them that not all doctors are that way.

She stepped gingerly into the lift and slowly turned about as it descended to the ground below. It took her a while to get to the tram but she made it. One of the guards approached her to see if she needed help, but though she smiled and thanked him, she politely refused. She really did love the locals. They were huge and gruff, but they were very loyal and watchful over the people they liked. She felt honored to be one of them. She detached the hoop and sat on the tram as is moved across the facility. Alone with her thoughts she pondered whether or not to tell the others about her suspicions, or to just let them enjoy the vacation. She decided that they didn't need to be burdened with her thoughts unless it was completely unavoidable.

The tram came to a slow stop and the driver watched her. She gave him a weaker smile than normal and he waited for her to affix the hoop and make her way out of the tram before speeding off. She looked at the med bay doors, and reluctantly had to admit that they seemed like a mile away. Her legs were holding her up, but not really wanting to move anymore. She sighed and stood still for a moment closing her eyes as she took a few deep cleansing breaths. "You can do this. Just one step at a time."

The guards outside the med bay were used to her, and she could tell they wanted to help her but neither offered. They knew she wanted to do things herself.

At the moment though, She would have welcomed some help. Somehow she made it inside and over to the desk before almost falling into the chair. "So Jen," she said casually as if that hadn't just happened, "It seems the director liked your idea a lot. You shocked him, in a good way. So...we are all going on vacation. Be packed and ready to leave at the end of the week."

Jen poked her head out when she heard her name. "He did?" the smile on her face grew wider and wider. "Seriously? A real vacation? Relaxing? NO WORK? A real one?"

Cass nodded, "A real one to a resort planet it sounded like. Our tickets and information will arrive tonight he said so you can see for yourself."

Harrison stepped over to the desk and frowned, "I have work to do..."

"Not after Friday. We are all going. Our back up team will be here while we are gone." She looked around, "Hopefully they won't mes with my system..."

"Oh Lord I hope not!" Point groaned, "But even that can't curb my enthusiasm...a real vacation..."

Harrison just huffed. If they moved anything, he knew they'd spend days getting it back to the way Cass liked it. It wasn't a matter of anything other than sheer speed and ease of use. All of them were so used to this system that they would immediately know if things were put back out of order. He fully expected to have that first few days back be full of replacing things and moving them. He wasn't as excited about a vacation as Jen. Down time sucked when you were alone and had no one to share it with. He loved these two like sisters but that wasn't the same as having someone you cared about or was growing to care about to share something special for the first time. He cast the thoughts aside and turned on his heels to get back to his space to finish his work on upgrades for Cassandra's conveyance. He didn't like that it was visible. He wanted to have the brace be unnoticeable and give her back some sense of not being all she has always been. He had a tight deadline but he was determined to do it.

He had a strange impulse and grabbed his tablet. He sent a message to Doctor Brunel.

Would you mind terrible if I contacted Sammy about a project I'm working on for Doctor Brandford? I think one of the ideas we scrapped for the suit would work well in this and I do not want to use her ideas without he knowledge.

Thank you. Harrison.

He set the tablet down and went back to work. Either he could speak to the R&D whiz kid or not. Either way, he'd finish.
 
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A few hours later, Harrison received a reply from Nadia.

"Go ahead, kid like her always needs something for her brain to chew on. Trust me, when she is bored she talks my ear off with new theories."

Later that night, Cassandra would receive an electronic message with several files attached. The first attachment was the travel details. The group would take a military transport to a neighboring system and stop at a normal military garrison planet. With paperwork that had various bits falsified (to keep the SOG planet and personnel secret), they would take a civilian transport to their destination.

Their destination was the planet Mendilo, also known as The Hub. Mendilo was one of the first planets colonized outside Earth's solar system. After hundreds of years of city building and manufacturing, Mendilo became what it currently is. What once was a barren desert planet, now is totally covered by buildings, housing blocks, factories, and tourist traps. Mendilo is now commonly known as the city planet, or the planet that never sleeps. A true economic powerhouse of intergalactic society. Any business worth knowing has at least one skyscraper on Mendilo. While countless amounts of raw material are turned into products in city sized factories. Practically none of the original planet is left, for centuries of building have resulted in new buildings that are constructed on top of old ones. Millions, perhaps billions of people spend their lives never seeing sunlight, toiling away under the thick smog that blankets the planet. Of course all the scenic spot and tourist destinations are on skyscrapers above the smog layer, for nobody wants to visit the shadowy lower levels full of ghettos, blue collar workers, and various criminal elements.

Mendilo is commonly referred to as The Hub, because of the crucial role it plays in trade and information. You can take any man made product available, and chances are it has been through Mendilo. Either as raw material, or on a massive cargo ship that stocks enormous warehouses. To cement it's position of power, the planet is protected by a complex array of satellite defense systems all linked together in low orbit. Also known as ODIN (orbital defense interception network) any large scale attack by the Confederacy would result in staggering losses for them as their ships would be annihilated by the hundreds of railgun cannons covering Mendilo. Of course ODIN has also become a part of alliance propaganda, being used to symbolize the protective bulwark that is the Alliance.

Cassandra and company have reservations at a high class skyscraper hotel, all expenses paid of course. The vacation period would be five days, enough time for anyone to enjoy the various tourist destinations and experience the local culture.
 
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Harrison read the message and smiled. Sammy talking someone's ear off would be cute to watch he had to admit with her shy stuttering. It would actually be quite entertaining to see her chattering away at Nadia. He found himself wondering how she'd take it and if she was patient and kind to the kid or not. He couldn't believe anyone was as hard edged as Nadia appeared to be all the time, or how anyone could be a hard ass around Sammy.

He tapped the tablet and sent her a message.

Hi Sammy.

Doctor Brunel gave me permission to contact you about something I'm working on for Doctor Brandford. Perhaps you remember that relay and cable system that was discarded from the flight suit? I was thinking perhaps that would work well for what I am trying to do here if it was a lot smaller. I've attached the sketches for my upgraded idea as well as the plans for the model she is currently using. I'm sure you can tell why I am trying to make it sleeker and less cumbersome. She needs to be able to maneuver around the cots here without the circle being in the way. I didn't want to use your ideas without your input and permission. Also, if you have any other ideas I'd be happy to hear them. Thank you!

Harrison.

Cassandra got the message and called the group to her desk to see the files. "I've heard of this place..."

Harrison let out a whistle, "Yeah, so have I..PRICY!"

Point was smiling ear to ear, "But it looks very luxurious. I've never been to such a place...Hopefully there's shopping..I have nothing but scrubs and two other outfits I think."

Cassandra chuckled, "Oh I dare say anything you might need would be easily found here. EASILY!"

Harrison nodded, "Might need to do a bit of shopping myself."

"Since when are you into fashion Harrison?"

"Since never, but I know I can find high grade tech there...maybe even some components for our implants. Would be a crime to go there without looking into it at least."

"This is a vacation Harrison. No working..."

"Not offense Doc, but I doubt you'll be there five minutes before you're pulling up files or something, so...yeah...shopping for tech is recreation for me. I enjoy it and it inspires me..."

Point shook her head, "You two are crazy. I plan to hit the clubs, go dancing, drink too much and maybe even God forbid get a suntan." She pushed her sleeve up, "Pasty white...far too long...."

Cass grinned at her. "You enjoy yourself how ever you want Jen. You too Harrison." She didn't comment on his file statement because it was likely true and they both knew it. It wasn't like she had anything better to do.
 
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A few minutes later, Harrison would receive a reply message from Sammy.

"Yes you are free to use the idea, I have attached several files for you to use if you want."

No less than five files of notes and schematics we're attached, all bearing Sammy's somewhat incoherent scrawl of ideas. The night was peaceful and calm, but the next morning was much more lively. With the stomp of boots, Nadia kicked open the medical wing doors and hollered towards the sleeping area. "Yo Brandford! Guess what!" About as subtle as a train, Nadia seemed to excited to realize that most normal people would still be waking up this early in the morning. When Cassandra would arrive, Nadia beamed happily and held up her ticket. "Guess who is going with you guys!! It has been so long since I got some free time. Plus I even get to go back to where I got my degree! Oh this is gonna be soooo much fun! Trust me I will give you guys the full Mendilo experience!" Whooping excitedly, Nadia sat on a nearby desk and swung her legs excitedly. "So you guys already make plans about what you all are gonna do?"
 
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Harrison spent the whole night pouring over those plans and notes. He had to message her back a few times to ask for clarification on some scrawls he didn't quite get but mostly her language was his too. He made some notes of his own on her stuff as he worked and even built two parts of the upgraded model to test. He straightened for a stretch when he heard the Med Bay doors burst open. he dashed out and stopped dead in his tracks, seeing Nadia's bright smile. The woman smiled and it was beautiful. "You're coming with us?" he asked moving from his bay, "No family to visit somewhere?" He tipped his head, "Or is that where your family is?"

Cass was awake but not out there yet. She was sore today and her legs were moving stiffly. She made it out there and smiled at Nadia. "That's awesome! We have a good tour guide then! Jen will be elated! She wants to make the club scene. I was afraid I'd get left behind by those two..."

Harrison flashed her a hurt look, "And that after I have been up all night working on another support system for your legs..."

"You have? Will it be ready..."

Another hurt puppy dog look, "Of course," but he flashed Nadia a wink. "Thanks for letting me talk to Sammy. She's got amazing ideas and plans."

Cass grinned, "Of course it will..forgive me for doubting..." She looked back at Nadia, "Where did you go to school??"
 
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Nadia laughed and shook her head. "Nope, I think the Director planned it this way, sneaky old bastard. As for my family the only relative I have is my Dad. He and I did not get along at all. Long story short I ran away from home after he tried to use me for more bank credit. Chewing on a fingernail, Nadia grinned cheekily. "Oh trust me Brandford, there ain't no way in hell I am letting you miss out on the parties. You ain't seen nothing like it I guarantee it." Scoffing at Harrison, Nadia spit out a fingernail into a nearby trashcan. "No problem Harrison, kid like Sammy always needs something to work on. She goes a little stir crazy if she has nothing to do keep her brain occupied. If she was a little older and had more backbone she could be a decent replacement for me."

Looking over at Cassandra, Nadia smiled widely. "I went to the Mendilo Institute of Technology. Managed to get a full ride scholarship. There ain't no way a girl from the backend of nowhere would be able to pay for it the regular way. Though I did almost lose it a few times after the regular college shenanigans. This is gonna be a blast, I will give you guys the best vacation. You will make lots of memories and have plenty of stories once we are done. Oh! Brandford you decide on your possible secondary leader? I already chose mine, hopefully the guy is good enough. Man the week can not end fast enough. I am just itching to cut loose."
 
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Cassandra listened and nodded in commiseration about some and grief about others. I'm sorry about you and your dad. Mine is wonderful, but not gifted with money, so I did the scholarships for what I could and the rest I did submitting myself for experimentation." She shrugged a bit. "But like you said, kid from the wrong side...does what they have to." She wasn't necessarily from the wrong side, but she was definitely form the underprivileged and overlooked side. People from her town were expected to stay there, grow food and be happy contented little farmers forever. If you wanted something else you had to kick and scream and make your prowess in that area undeniable and even then, sometimes you got overlooked. She'd been lucky to know that EMT that had saved her mom and he'd given her a glowing recommendation.

"Well then, it seems we are in good hands for the vacation. What sort of things do we need?"

"We need to go shopping...that's what we need." Point chimed in, "I have scrubs, scrubs and oh let's see..scrubs."

"You have that cute flowered sun dress too."

"One outfit does not constitute a week long vacation wardrobe.."

"Speak for yourself, "Harrison snickered.

Cass just chuckled, "Men...you have it so easy wardrobe wise. I dare say Doctor Brunel knows where to shop for clothing....we can probably squeeze that in between parties and excursions."

She tipped her head, "I have it down to two candidates. Either way both will be here, just can't decide who to put in charge." She grinned and shrugged, "I have a few more hours though....I'll work it out." The third member had been easy, the general nurse to take Point's place. It was the surgical team that she was waffling over. The two candidates were her preferences, but they were both stubborn and she thought maybe they'd lock horns a bit. Still they were the best she had to choose from, and she wanted her people to have the best.

"You know..I think I just got it. let me send the message off to the Director before I change my mind again." She sat down and tapped at the keyboard lightly and efficiently and then hit the send button. "Done, and gone. Now I can stop thinking about that..." She placed her hands on her knees and grinned, "So ...may I call you Nadia? When's the last time you were back to Mendilo?"
 

Dunruffle

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Nadia smiled at Point and nodded sagely, "Just pack light, or at least save space in your bags for stuff you buy. Hell, all I am gonna bring with me is a change of clothes and toiletries. I have a large chunk of money set aside for times exactly like this. Ordering stuff off the net takes ages to get here, I am going to go all out when we start shopping. So if I am leading our little vacation party here is our plan for the first day. Get settled at the hotel, then spend the rest of the day shopping. Most people don't realize that one of the best ways to plan ahead is doing it on the first day of your vacation. Things can change pretty quickly on Mendilo, if you try to stick to a strict schedule you planned weeks beforehand you are just going to get a headache. We spend the first day shopping and such, by night time most people have a general idea of things they want to do."

Watching Cassandra send her message, Nadia nodded happily. "Sure thing, but I get to call you Cass. Using last names is so military anyways. I don't want to be barking at you like some grouchy drill sergeant. But it has been almost ten years since I have visited Mendilo. Nine and a half if you want to be specific. The majority of that time has been spent here working." Hopping off the desk, Nadia stretched slowly and groaned. "What I really need to do is get laid on this vacation. Blow off some steam and just fool around. Can't really do that here with Valentine always snooping on everyone. Anyways, I need to go brief my leaders on what they need to do while I am gone. We can chat later." Waving goodbye, Nadia stopped at the door to give each of the local guards a friendly headbutt. Laughing loudly, Nadia said goodbye the hulking locals and jogged out of sight.
 
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Point smiled and nodded, "I can get behind that!'

Cass chuckled, "So can I. Been a while since I felt like more than a doctor. And Cass is perfect!" She was wondering if Nadia would get Harrison's first name out of him during this trip. On all of her files his first name was an initial for the first name so even she wasn't entirely sure what it was. It never mattered to her anyway but she had fleeting moments of casual speculation.

"Packing light and shopping sounds like the best therapy, Nadia. I think I'll follow your example and only take toiletries and a change of clothes. Never know what we'll find and want to bring back...." She blinked at Nadia's open comment about needing to unwind and HOW. "Good luck with that then..."

Jen giggled, "You could do with a little physical exercise yourself Doc."

Cass shook her head, "I'm good..."

Harrison huffed, "Of course you are." He wasn't as shocked by Nadia's words as Cass since he'd been around the R&D director a little more than his boss, but he was surprised by the way her words jolted through him. He watched her walk out and actually leaned over the desk a bit to watch her walk to the tram.

Jenn grinned, "Uh oh....big guy likes what he sees...."

Harrison straightened immediately but did not comment, instead turned and went to his bay to finish work on Cassandra's new supports.

Jen leaned over the desk, "I think Doctor Brunel might get what she's looking for...." And she winked and went to pack her bag, very lightly.

Cass shook her head at the two of them and began making a list of notes for the new team. She wasn't sure they'd arrive in time to get a personal briefing and if so she'd just note that these were available if they had questions. Finishing the list a few hours later, she leaned back int he chair and pressed her hands into the small of her back. This would be the first time she'd left the facility without the Saints. How odd would that be? She felt a deep sense of loss at the thought. She valued their protection, but more she enjoyed their company as well. She hoped they were getting to vacation somewhere too. She couldn't imagine anyone deserving it more, or needing it more than those guys, especially given all the trouble she and Harrison had caused them. She slowly stood and pulled the circle around herself and made her way back to the rehab area to get in her second round for the day.
 
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The rest of the week passed quickly and soon the day of departure from the base had arrived. Nadia being the excitable person she is, was already at the hangar with a packed suitcase an hour ahead of time. Dressed in some cargo pants and bright red t-shirt, the normally dirty and unkempt woman was clean and showered. Her normally frizzy hair was straightened and she wore a barely noticeable amount of makeup. Sitting on a large metal crate, she talked animatedly with two cargo loaders. The starship the group was taking was a large but utilitarian cargo freighter, it's cargo ramp lowered to allow a stream of personnel and cargo inside.
 
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Cassandra hadn't had a chance at more than a casual conversation with their replacement team before they had to leave for the hangar. She left her notes and some sage advice about being good to the locals before she, Point and Harrison left with their luggage in hand. They chatted amiably on the way to the hangar, none of them remembering the last time they'd taken a vacation. They'd had down time but an actual vacation had been decades at least.

Harrison felt oddly nervous about this trip. He wasn't willing to admit that it was because Nadia was coming along, but she was a large part of his anxiety. It had taken him a ridiculously long time to decide on his khaki pants and bright blue shirt, a fact that exasperated him greatly. He didn't have a lot of choices in the shoe department since his legs were implants, but he did switch from his hospital white to a tan loafer look. When they entered the hangar Nadia's casual, fresh appearance both shocked and delighted him. He could tell this was going to be good for her just from that beaming smile on her face. He gave her an awkward wave as he stepped into the hangar grabbing Point's luggage (he already had Cassandra's) and taking them to the freighter.

Jen smiled. She had on the one nice item of clothing she owned at the moment. A flowery sundress with narrow straps and a woven belt at the waist. The sandals on her feet were open and comfortable something she was very glad of since they'd be doing a lot of walking while they shopped. "You look happy," she said to Nadia, "Vacation looks good on you!"

Cassandra had spent the last two days getting used to both her eye and the new brace Harrison had made. He made her do a lot of therapy with it to get used to how it interfaced with her body. She felt like she was able to walk almost normally, if not a bit slower than she was her normal pace. Slower might not be a bad thing though, she'd been thinking. Maybe she'd actually enjoy the scenery and the experience if she had to take it at a slower speed. Hopefully. She too smiled at Nadia and nodded in agreement with Jen's assessment. "You definitely look relaxed and stress free. How's it feel?" She didn't have as easy a time letting go of work, maybe there was more to learn from her than just how to navigate Mendilo.
 
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Nadia said goodbye to the cargo loaders and walked over to Cassandra's group. "Oh hell yeah! I feel great! I am so excited to be able to go out and finally do stuff! This is going to be so much fun!" She was about to continue when a familiar voice boomed out from nearby. "Heeyyy look who it is boys!" Dante lumbered over with a large backpack in hand and a wide smile on his face. "Ya know I think this was not an accident Doc. Someone upstairs is looking out for ya." The rest of the Saints were close behind Dante, all dressed in their regulation gray fatigues. "Well I should say I am surprised, but at this point I can't say I am." Kirst smiled at Cassandra and extended a hand to Nadia. "Hello, my name is Kirst. Are you a friend of our good doctor?" Nadia looked Kirst up and down for a second before shaking his hand. "Yup, I am Doctor Brunel. Head of research and development." Xanders, Turk, and Erik all wore large military style backpacks and gave various greetings to Cassandra. Erik was trying to keep the smile off his face at the prospect of getting vacation time with Cassandra as Xanders moved from one foot to the other impatiently.

"All passengers for transport 4H please begin boarding. Flight will depart in ten minutes." The loudspeaker announcement repeated two more times before shutting off with a click while the ground crews rushed about making their final checks. Suddenly the sound of precise and measured footsteps approached, revealing the owner to be Natalya herself. Dressed in standard fatigues like the Saints, she stopped in surprise as she saw the group. A mixture of annoyance and anger clouded her face before she breezed past Cassandra and took a seat on the spaceship.
 
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Cassandra's face lit up when she heard Dante's voice. "Dante!" she blurted out before she could stop herself. "It's so good to see you...all of you." she added when the rest of the gang filed in behind the big guy.

Point was about to hyperventilate at the sight of Dante and the realization that they'd be vacationing at the same time, away from the cameras and surveillance. She smiled a bright smile and waved but before she could actually say anything the loud speaker was telling them all to board.

Cass let her eye go over each of them still getting used to to new system Harrison had created. She liked it better but it was hard to change old habits and reflexes. She was most concerned about Kirst since he'd suffered a great deal of internal trauma but he'd healed beautifully. "You all look well, but I think this time away if timed perfectly. fresh air and sunshine work miracles in the healing process." Her eyes had just found Erik's and she returned that smile. Unfortunately it was wiped away by Natalya's brusque manner. She felt the ache there at the loss of something precious that she doubted could ever be regained...trust. Her eyes followed her friend's long strides into the cargo ship and her shoulders slumped a bit even though she tried not to let that show.

Drawing in a breath Harrison gave her shoulder a squeeze as he pushed her gently toward the transport.

Cass made a face at him and then looked at the members of the saints. "We are all going shopping once we get settled in at the hotel...you guys in need of casual attire like we are?" She asked. "Nadia knows the best places..."

Harrison moved closer to Nadia without even realizing he'd done it. "Nadia knows a lot of things...she's an interesting woman."

Point blinked as her jaw dropped. "You do realize you were talking aloud...."

Harrison nodded and smiled at Nadia before gently gripping her elbow and ushering her into the transport.

Cass wasn't as shocked as Point but she was surprised all the same. She looked at the slight incline of the ramp that led into the transport and then with a look of determination began slowly making her way up it. Her legs weren't good at uphill yet, and she was having to take it really slow. She saw a hinge in the ramp and made a face at it. her foot slowly lifted over it but she immediately started to lean to the left. there wasn't anything there to grab onto so she put her foot down and started to fall anyway.
 
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Dante laughed heartily as Nadia was introduced. "Well I can say that for myself I need some casual clothes. As much as I love these concrete grey uniforms, it doesn't accentuate my eyes." The rest of the Saints made various rude noises but Dante simply laughed it off as he walked over to stand next to Point. "Well it seems we are stuck together again Jen. It will be nice to talk to someone with higher literary standards than these apes." Xanders gave Dante the finger but with a friendly smile. "Oh fuck off with your holier than thou routine. Who was the one reading a trashy romance novel instead of mission reports?" Dante held up his hands in mock surrender and stood behind Point. "Alright Xanders chill, no need to twist the knife. You keep bullying me and I will send Jen here after you." Dante took the seat next to Jen and Xander sat in the seat beside Dante, the two friends bickering good naturedly the entire time.

Kirst nodded in respect to Nadia and motioned to Dante in passing. "Dante has a point. It will be better to have some comfortable civilian clothes. I-" Kirst stopped mid-sentence as Natalya approached and gave her a crisp salute. After being promptly ignored by the newly promoted major, Kirst watched as she took a seat far away from their group. "You know what's up with Captain...I mean Major Sokolov? Word around town is she has been even meaner than usual after that security breach." Before anyone could stop him, Turk had followed Natalya and took the seat next to her, making Kirst's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. "Well...that is unexpected. Though I don't think the major is in a talking mood." As they all walked up the ramp Erik shrugged and discreetly fell in step with Cassandra. "She might share something in common with Turk. Though I will admit it is ballsy to try his luck now of all times." Nadia let out a loud sigh and rolled her eyes. "Oh she needs a whole new personality. Something that would make her seem like an actual human." Nadia smiled at Harrison and held up her chin proudly. "Well you ain't too shabby yourself Harrison."

While everyone was stowing their luggage and taking seats, Erik stayed next to Cassandra as she trudged up the ramp. When she started to fall, Erik's hands caught her arm and helped her back upright. "You okay Cassa-umm...Brandford? Don't go hospitalizing yourself before you even leave the base." Erik coughed lightly in embarrassment as he looked around to make sure nobody had overheard his slip up with Cassandra's name.
 
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