Kepler Station
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The Water is Deeper than You Think

Posted on Monday December 11, 2017 @ 11:25am by Ensign Orlando Richards & Lieutenant Junior Grade Chloe McMahon Dr

Mission: Hopkins the Line of Fire
Location: Deck 3 Swimming Pool
Timeline: Mission Day - 5 (Jan 6, 2352) 2300hrs

Five years had come and gone since Orlando had been separated from his beloved brother Jackson. Many times he had passed by his reflection, not looking, not wanting to see his twin's face staring back through matching eyes and everything the two shared. In a universe where Jackson no longer existed, Orlando had slowly become accustomed to that truth. Grief came and went like the tides that created the waves the brothers loved to conquer on flat wooden boards. And just when he thought the grief had passed, like a double up wave, it came crashing back over his head threatening to drown him in sorrow once again. Life never stops for the living and eventually, Orlando pushed through the grief and once again noticed the varying blue hues of the skies and felt life coursing through his veins. 

While the station was void of oceans and surfing opportunities limited to shore leave, Orlando was surprised to discover a swimming pool in the gym section of the station. And since he had only came aboard recently, he had not had time to be placed on shore leave rotation. Open water swimming was both more dangerous and beautiful, but the pool's reflection seemed inviting like a cool blanket beckoning him to grow flippers and dance under her surface. Toes pointed, feet hanging just off the edge, Orlando looked down and grinned at Jackson looking back up at him. In one quick motion, he held his hands above his head, tucked his chin, and rocked forward, gliding into the water head first. 

Warm water pressed against Orlando's muscular body, embracing him with caresses and kissing the most intimate parts of his soul. Hanging weightless for the first few seconds as the water opened up accepting him deeper, intertwining his limbs with her liquid tomb all his thoughts dissipated into the wake of his entrance. Pushing up with long arms, Orlando's head surfaced through the water's glassy ceiling and air rushed back into his lungs. Surprisingly, the swimming pool was empty and quiet. Laying onto his back, he closed his eyes and let the water carry and support his weight in an easy rest. 

"Do you mind some company?"

The question drifted through the air as if nothing more than a whisper, distorted by the water by the time it reached the ensign's ears. Emerging at the poolside, a towel draped over one shoulder, Lieutenant McMahon had watched the only other swimmer for a long moment as she swept her long dark brown hair into a loose ponytail. He seemed so peaceful and content she regretted having to interrupt but she figured he would realise someone else was around eventually... this way just seemed more, well, polite.

Murmurs rippled through the conduit of water surrounding his ears, muffled like rain beating softly against his eyelids in an endless drizzle. The dreamer stayed motionless, unsure if the voice was imagined breaking through his solitude, sweet like honey and not unwelcomed. Opening his eyes, sight following towards the voice still floating and lingering between the space of his ears and her lips, Orlando smiled brightly and moved to stand. To his delight, a goddess stood before him, a balance of beauty and trouble. She was flawless and he wanted to worship at her feet and cover his eyes and ears at the same instant, fearful she would seduce his heart and soul with just one word. 

"I promise I can stay well out of the way," Chloe assured him to break the silence, gesturing to the far side of the pool. "I just didn't want to surprise you when you seemed a million miles away."

"No, no. Please. Plenty of room and I could use the company honestly. I just came aboard yesterday. Orlando. Orlando Richards. Security." Orlando said as he stopped talking. He wasn't really talking in complete sentences, just babbling like an idiot. Moving his long blond hair back, he wished he had tied it up, trying to distract himself from starring at the woman more than was polite. Orlando was tall and kept himself in great physical condition, surfing and swimming on a regular bases. Recently, he had begun growing facial hair that he thought made him look a little older.  Giving her another sideways glance, he wondered if goddesses prayed. 

Another newbie, Chloe mused as she set down her towel. "Chloe McMahon," she told him with a friendly smile. "Welcome aboard."

The words "thank you" and "nice to meet you Chloe" were on his lips, but never left as he continued to just stare like an idiot wondering if she could see the real him or just the facade of who he had pretended to be. Or perhaps she thought him rude or a dreamer longing for a sky full of blinking stars or steady ones from a Starship view port. Or maybe, just maybe, she was used to stares and was the kind of women who took notice she easily turned heads when she entered a room. Either way her allure required no words on his part. 

With that said she dived into the pool in a graceful motion. Beneath the water her muscles instantly began to relax, soothed by the warmth after a day hunched over a workbench for endless hours at a time. With a gentle kick she surfaced almost dead centre of the pool, turning to face her fellow swimmer. "So do you often go swimming so late at night?" she asked.

"I prefer moonlight to artificial light at night. But really, swimming is more about just being in the water and keeping in practice until I can get somewhere to go surfing. What about you? Do you usually swim this late?" Orlando asked as he moved silently through the water towards Chloe, stopping more than an arms length away. "Or are you a pro swimmer preparing for the Inter Galactic Olympics? Wanna race?"

"I find it relaxing, especially if it has been a long day cooped up in the labs," Chloe confided. "But no, definitely not a professional. Once upon a time I competed but I was much too busy studying to put serious time in. But yeah, surfer boy, let me do a lap to warm up and you can show me what you got."

Of course she was one of those types who was smart and spent more time studying at the Academy than on her social life. The complete and totally opposite of Orlando. He had barely been accepted and was defiantly at the bottom of his class. Well, not everyone could be at the top. Labs, she said labs. That was one of two disciplines. Medical or....

"Lab huh? You must be a science officer then? What's your speciality? Guess that's a dumb question. I am a security officer and you wouldn't ask me what kind of weapon do I prefer. Or maybe you's none by the way. Not that weapons are not important, I just prefer diplomacy," Orlando said rambling again. He was prone to rambling and switching quickly from one topic to the next, sometimes going down long rabbit holes. Annoying he knew but he had never been able to break the habit. Almost forgetting they were supposed to be doing a warm up lap before racing, Orlando pushed himself out and into short freely style stroke moving his arms and legs in sync. 

"I like to think I have a few," Chloe commented, grinning in spite of herself. Clearly he was one of those people who talked a lot when nervous but she resisted the urge to tease him about it. After all, he was new aboard. That meant he deserved a little time to settle in before things like that came up. Before he could ask anything more, she took a breath and dove into the water, leaving him to follow. She doubted it would be a sign of things to come in the race ahead.

Orlando wanted to ask more questions about her job and whatever crazy experiments she might have going at the time. She was grinning at him and he wasn't sure if she was teasing him or just being nice. Wet, with nothing more than swimming trunks on and about to engage in a fierce swimming competition, did not seem to be the right time or place to ask Chloe what she had under her microscope. Following along behind her, he stretched out his long arms, parting the cool water easily and gliding along the top of the blue surface. Within seconds he caught pace next to the pretty science officer and remained silent. 

Keeping a leisurely pace, flexing her muscles and acclimatising to the pool, she came to a stop at the pool side again, one hand resting on the side as she gazed down the length of the pool. "You know I'll probably let you win, right?" she teased as he joined her. "Would be cruel to beat you when you are new and all."

"Well, I would greatly appreciate that kindness, Chloe. What would be more cruel and damaging to my fragile male ego would be to beaten by a girl," Orlando said teasing back. She was in good physical condition and probably swam long distances more than he did on a regularly bases. His strength would give him more speed for a short race, but on a longer race her endurance would win out. Looking down the length of the inter galactic Olympic sized pool, he nodded. "Shall we go down and back then? I will let you count us off so I don't cheat." 

Chloe grinned, "deal. On three?"

Orlando held his nose to clear for a good breath before taking off. With his free hand he pulled his long, now wet, blond locks back behind his head. Giving her a final nod he the soles of his bare feet against the side of the pool and waited for the count. The edges of the pool were rougher than he expected and bit into his flesh slightly. 

At his nod she braced her feet against the wall of the pool, one hand on the poolside and the other in the water. Glancing over to see if her newfound swimming companion was ready she nodded, "okay... one... two...three!"

Pushing off as hard as he could, Orlando took the lead quickly due to the size difference between the officers. Arms stretched out in front of him, he took a breath, held it and placed his face into the warm blue water. Concentrating on stokes, breath and pace, he forgot he was not alone and focused solely on his muscles and how good it felt to give his body a proper work out. Gliding across the top of the water, the edge of the pool soon came into view. Without looking for Chloe, he dug his arms further into the water to gain more speed.

Executing her turn, Chloe kept her pace steady and focused on her own lap. Taking advantage of the face she swam these laps every day and had not put most of her energy into an initial burst of speed. She had been tempted to do the same but it was usually a bad idea unless you happened to have unlimited stamina. She had learned that when she first started competing against the other kids at school on sports days, watching some of her - and her friends - hopes of victory torn apart because they had gone all out. It was all about picking your moment. Unless you were running a sprint. In which case every moment was the moment...

He could feel the initial burst of energy fade quickly. Without an actual ocean to swim in or the river near his parents home, Orlando had not been in as good of shape or practice as he thought. Speed slowed slightly, but enough he knew that Chloe would catch him before he reached the pool's edge. Kicking his legs harder, the momentum had been lost just enough that he caught a glimpse of her form pass him by. Orlando could have dug deeper and pushed harder, but she would still beat him. Not wanting to get beat too badly though, he gave more effort and did his best to keep up with her. Maybe, just maybe, he could catch her. 

Her fingertips touched the wall on the poolside and she stopped, coming up for air just as Orlando reached the wall. The time difference was practically non existent. "Not bad surfer boy," she commented, grinning while splashing some water in his direction. "Not bad at all."

Orlando felt the air rush back into his lungs as he had held his last breath to the point he felt nearly to the point of passing out. His lungs heaved in relief and protest. Catching his breath, he grinned widely and turned his head to avoid a mouthful of water. Noting again how pretty Chloe was, he felt the heat rush to his cheeks. "Ha, you better not tell anyone I got beat by a girl. You will ruin my tough guy reputation. Ah man, I got an hour to get ready for my shift. We will have to do this again sometime. Give me a chance to redeem myself. Or maybe lunch if you are not busy."

"If you make sure hot chocolate is included in the lunch, your secret is safe with me," Chloe vowed, "enjoy your shift surfer boy."

With that she offered a wave, pushed away from the wall and was gone.

Before he could respond, Chloe was gone as quickly and as mysteriously as she had arrived minutes ago. And again Orlando wondered if she had been real or a figment of his imagination appearing merely as a human when in fact she was a goddess perfectly balanced with both charm and beauty. Dismayed, he laid his head back into the cool water before dismissing his forbidden thoughts. Duty called was the next unspoken words that danced across his mind as he reluctantly placed his hands on the edge of the pool and pulled himself up and over the edge with ease. Smooth concrete beneath his feet soon filled with puddles of water dripping from his long wet locks as he made his way to the locker room. The tune he was whistling softly echoed off the walls reflecting the shimmer of the pool's empty water. 


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