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Workout therapy

Posted on 19 Jul 2021 @ 3:49pm by Lieutenant JG Nicole Taggert & Captain Patrick Jackson

Mission: S03 Ep 03 Trouble in the Sticks UXSys 659842 (Incidentals) Phase 2
Location: Holodeck 3
Timeline: 0700 day two travel to SB 51


He arrived just a little early to Holodeck 3 in order to make sure everything was ready for when she showed up. In engineering, he was interested in a workout and he would give her one. It would be good for him as well. He was not sleeping much since their last mission. Part was what had happened, some what could have happened and a lot of what he was ready to do. Working out was how he handled stress historically and he was happy to have someone else with. Maybe it could help her as well.

"Computer, activate exercise program thee." He said and walked in. The doors opened into a sand beach with some weight lifting equipment and balance bars on the side. A few people were Ealing by on a sidewalk and he looked around. A beach run is a good start, but she mentioned something a little harder.

"Computer, change to forest run." The temperature changed as the beach faded and was replaced by a packed dirt trail. The trial was lined with thick green brush to the knees and tall evergreen trees with thick trunks. The forest seemed to go on as far as he could see and the sounds of birds and nature began to fill the senses. He was happy with this one. They could adjust temperature and gravity easily enough. They could change it if she wanted, but would get a start going. He started to stretch some to get ready.
Having had a tough mission and getting her arm nearly eaten off, Nicci had been given some extra holodeck time for recovery, which she didn't mind. She enjoyed a good workout. It relieved stress. So she put on some workout clothes (, and checked herself, noting her back looked quit fit (; she worked out on a semi-regular basis, so she had some definition, while still looking feminine and curvy. Nicci had visible abs, toned legs that weren't too thick, a rear end that looked like two firm hemispheres with no 'banana roll' underneath, deltoids, biceps, and triceps on her arms that were just-defined-enough without being too much, and a fit back that helped her support her other endowments, which due to their size, required an extra-strength sports bra.

"Maybe I should quit lifting?" she asked herself, before she tied her hair up in a braided ponytail and left to get to it.

Within minutes, she got to the holodeck and walked on in, seeing the forest, reminding her a bit of North Georgia along the Appalachian Trail and the mountains there. Her family had a giant cabin there for family reunions, as their family was spread all the way up to Virginia and Kentucky, even into Florida, and they all enjoyed coming to the cabin to get away from it all.

The scent was very familiar, that forest smell of the pine and other trees mixing together. she took a deep breath and was pleasantly surprised the holodeck got it right.

"Alright, Mr. Jackson, let's get this party started," Nicci said as she saw the man stretching to limber up, which she began doing as well.

He turned around when he heard the doors open. He had been preparing mentally for her when she came in. She was self conscious about the genetic engineering and trying extra hard to prove she was more than looks. He was going to help encourage that and made sure he didn't oogle. He waved at her and smile. "Come on in. Just stretching."

Nicci sat for a second to stretch her legs, reaching to the left one, tucking her right leg, then switching, doing a few other stretchings while Jackson spoke. She stuck out her butt as she leaned over, which couldn't be avoided, as she stretched with her arms through her legs, then leaning side to side as he continued.

"Hope you don't mind the Forest. It was that or the beach, but we can change it to whatever you would prefer," he said.

"Forest is a-ok for me. Reminds me of my childhood, actually, we used to go hiking all the time up on the Trail," she replied.

"Ok, oh and Lieutenant, what do you prefer to be called while we go and do you want that hot run, added gravity?" He asked shaking his limbs, almost ready.

"Nicci is fine. I'm used to it by now. Besides, we're not really on-duty," she replied, before answering his second question. "And you?"

"Patrick. Like you said, we're not on duty." He smiled.

"Now as for the program, if you want, we can set the workout to 'blender' and have the environments change along the path to keep us on our toes, go from forest to Himalayan to desert, swamp, beach? I think that was a setting in there somewhere..."

"I like your idea. Variety is the spice of life. Or something like that." He said hoping he remembered that phrase right. "Computer, set program to blender."

"Let's start off easy. 1.01G, 95% humidity, 80° F, and we can have a steady heat and incline build till it reaches 100° F and 1.2G, make us work for it," she said as she stood up, finishing her stretches on her arms. "We can decrease the oxygen so we force our bodies to get used to it more, make them more efficient in normal O2 levels."

Patrick grinned at her. "You want to go hard core huh?" He said and moved his to the left and right, his neck cracking each time. He had the computer begin the simulation and increase each level to the desired need appropriately. "Ok, ready?"

"Let's rocket," she said, with a smirk to herself, remembering an ancient A/V program from the 20th century, 'Power Rangers in Space.' She avoided making the 'morphing gesture' to avoid seeming too into ancient cultural artifacts. It amused Nicci that so many in Starfleet seemed so into 20th century cultural artifacts, as if history stopped then, but then again, she played with LEGO in her off-hours, so she was one to talk.

He looked a little confused for a moment. He did not recognize the phrase. He assumed it meant let's go, but he wasn't sure how a 20 and 21st century propelled weapon related to their run.

"Program's set, so let's get on the trail!" she said as she started the run. She had some very customized sneakers for her size 9 feet that hit the dirt just right, giving a very satisfying thump every time they hit and a perfect roll as she ran. Within a short distance, Nicci set the pace as her running partner matched pace. It was a mild pace for her, just a bit faster than a 9-minute mile. Her breathes came evenly to prevent hyperventilating and keep oxygen flowing, four seconds in, four seconds out. Heart rate, perfect too.

They began the run through the forest. He let the conversation drop for the first few moments as they developed their running rhythm. He didn't want to throw her rhythm off at the start. Once she had it, he felt better talking during the jog. Added extra endurance. "So why did you join Starfleet? You were a smart engineer before the genetic adjustment. Engineers are smart enough to do almost anything." He asked, honestly curious.

"To be honest, I loved sci-fi," she said as they jogged through the trails. "As much as I loved the farm..." she weaved to the right as the trail curved and waited for him to catch back up to even with her, "...I loved all the tales of action. Historic novels made it sound so heroic and adventurous. Plus Starfleet gets to play with all the fun gadgets, like holodecks!"

With that remark, she called out, "Mode change, Outback."

"Nice call Nicci. I've never been there, should be fun." He said ready for a change.

The mountainous forest they'd spent a good 8-10 minutes in began thinning out, as if it were perfectly normal for it to start turning into the Australian Outback with its heat and dryness, right next to the lush forests of North America. Much better than just 'insta-switch' into the next scene that some users employed in their workouts. Within another dozen steps, the rich brown organic soil with roots and trees and shrubs transitioned into the rust-colored and sparse deserts of Australia, far from the inland sea they created in the mid 21st century to help support their growing population.

"What about your family? History of service?" He asked, assuming that would be the case, at least from the people he met. Most had family that served prior.

"My family's farmers, all the way back to settling Virginia in the 17th century," Nicci said, pacing her words so she could run at the same pace and not lose oxygen. She felt the heat increase slowly as they left the forest and it faded into the background. "We were always grounded in the land. Sometimes my ancestors would serve a bit in Starfleet for a tour or two, but we always came back. I wanted to see what's out there, see the stars for myself. Why read about 40 Eridani when you can actually visit Vulcan for yourself? A good holo-camera isn't too much to capture the moment nowadays to send back home all the places we go."

He was surprised she sounded like the first long term officer from her family. He realized he should be since she broke the mold about survival and even with her blessing/curse of a body, she could use that all for personal gain, yet she would rather focus on her mind and be the person she always wanted to be. He figured she had more in her tank then she even realized.

"My parents knew I was a smart kid when I taught myself to read by 3, and had me attend extra classes in the summer, learning things like basic computer coding and repairs, anti-grav basics, calculus, spacetime manipulation, and I did such a good job, I got into Starfleet," she said as the scenery included the famous Uluru rock formation (, a beautiful place she'd seen before at 15.

He laughed some. "I couldn't even spell half of those books now." He said and pointed to the formation. "Wow, it's like a little Olympus Mons, just on Earth not Mars. That's amazing!"

"So what about you? Why go Marine rather than Starfleet? You like having a valet I take it?" she quipped, not wanting to monopolize the conversation. It took a lot for her to talk to people about her past, so it was saying something she was talking to Jackson about it. After her experiences she kept a few things to herself for fear others wouldn't accept who she used to be before Starfleet.

He laughed again, the laugh in rhythm to his breathing. "I picked the Marines because my other option was jail. I was 18 at the time and instead of getting a poor record out of the gate, the detective that arrested me let me have a choice. He said I planned the heist really well but just needed direction."

"Marines take a certain kind of smarts too, lots of it physical," Nicci continued. "Not everyone can hit a target well, or read a situation, find exits, dangers, possible allies or weapons...that takes something not everyone has..."

"Thanks for saying so." He said running. "Most of us are big dumb brutes, but we all have at least some of those in common. There are a few that go into R&D, intelligence and other places like that, and I'm grateful for that, but in the Rifles, it's the skills you mentioned that we train and develop. Endurance is another big skill." He mentioned as a lead in to a mode change. "Mode change: Amazon Rainforest"

The Outback slowly moved past them and thick bushes and plants slowly started to fill the trail after each bend. Trees began to be added and soon a thick forest canopy came over their heads. Sounds of many birds and animals excited through the rainforest. The temperature increased again along with the humidity. It did not take long in this setting for him to start sweating.

"Good mode change," Nicci complimented, appreciating the new scene. The blender option didn't need them to tell it to change, it would make a semi-random change to keep their heart rates up and in the appropriate zone, while also challenging them with having to adapt to new paths, environmental conditions, and so on, but the option to give it a new 'scene' simply spun the dial on the several dozen environments, and would, through the algorithm, change which 'scene' came next also, randomizing the randomness a little, as it were.

"Thanks." He puffed. "Another place I wouldn't mind exploring," he said as the moved deeper into the jungle forest. "Far as my family goes. No idea. I never had any." He continued as they rounded a corner and saw a tropical bird fly through the trees. "I was found by a police officer abandoned. Given to the system and had a dozen foster parents. Some fine, others not. I had my fill of the system at 15 and moved into the streets. I worked where I could for honest money. Did Petty theft for things I needed but couldn't get, squatted in buildings for sale and did what I could to get by."

The jungle scenery moved by at a good, steady pace (, moving over a nice bridge with a stream running underneath as they returned to the trail itself. The humidity was even thicker in the air, and Nicci started sweating a little as they made their way.

oO Man, that's a tough life. I still have my parents, but you don't realize others don't always have the same life you do until it hits you, Oo she thought taking in his story.

"That's rough," she said as she hopped over a root in the trail to avoid tripping, not losing a step of her pace.

"At around 16, I moved to the Los Angeles area south of San Francisco. I thought a big city would give more opportunity. I struggled a year and then made contact with a guy named Popsicle. He was called that because he was cool under fire." He laughed. "He was part of a gang and took me in. Gave me a place to stay, taught me a few things."

"Cool and the Gang took you in," Nicci mused, obscure reference to the late 1970s band her dad enjoyed. "Stability's good. I'm sure he gave you some good lessons, surviving, family. All that probably primed you for the Marines without even realizing it."

"Yeah, at 18, he thought I was ready to join. He saw I had an eye for planning and detail. I needed to pull a job, so I did a bank job. I picked a team of 4 plus myself from guys in the gang. They would rate me after and if they thought I did well, they'd vouch me in." He laughed as they turned the trail, sweat dripping more in the humidity. "Turned out one of the guys I picked was a snitch. He had a wire and we all got taken down the day of the heist. The detective saw I had no record but no family or history. He said he was like me years ago and was given a choice when he was arrested. He took the Marines and got a family and direction. He seemed to have a decent life and that was what I wanted."

"That sounds like a dang lucky break," Nicci replied, listening to his story.

"It's worked out well. I'd be dead or in jail otherwise by now. Here I get respect, I'm able to do something that helps other people." He said breaking just a little heavier. "Seeing the galaxy isn't a bad thing either. I was able to use my planning skills to make officer. Rest is history."

The scenery began to change, the rainforest thinning out to the Great Plains of the North American midwest (,, rolling hills to provide a good small incline to lower their heart rates a little but keep them in the zone, and provide some interesting scenery as the occasional mountains from Kansas would roll by, or some distant buffalo grazed.

"That's the mark of a worthy life," Taggert added. "Take the bad and help others with it, prevent them from going through some bad stuff you're then able to recognize. Not everyone realizes there's more to life than just their own gratification."

The environment chimed with an updated readout of the conditions, floating graphics staying a steady 15 feet ahead of them: 103° F, 95% humidity, 1.02G. O2 19.4%, 1 atm. The lower O2 gave the effect of being 2000 ft above sea level, about the height of Canberra, but the same pressure as sea level. Both officers were working harder to keep the pace now.

He breathed deep, adjusting his breathing for longer intake to get a little more 02 in. The gravity and the oxygen level was not where he was struggling, it was the humidity. If there were any toxins in his body, they were sweated out by now.

"Yeah, I had a great D.I. as well. Near the end of boot camp, my file was flagged for follow up from the detective. In case things didn't work out they could make sure I didn't cause trouble. D.I. found out my story. Volunteered me for late duty with him." He huffed a little more. "Duty was learning. Took me home. Wife made a home cooked meal. First time anyone told me that being a dumb brute wasn't my fault. I just didn't know any other way. He taught me manners. Pretty much how to be civilized."

"Chief Drill Instructor Master Gunnery Sergeant Foshey, Starfleet Marine Corps," Nicci smiled. "Remember him every day. Had to say the whole title or I got pushups."

"Glad you got some culture there, Patrick," Nicci said as her brow glistened a bit more. "You avoided having your mom smack you on the hand with a ruler when you picked up the wrong fork at dinner at least," she quipped. "Now I know you can join diplomatic functions with the rest of us in those stuffy dress uniforms."

"Yeah, I would have thought I learn that soon, but in the system, with the people I was matched with, long as I didn't die, they didn't care." He said and realized he had started to outpace her. He checked himself and slowed down. "Anyway, he showed me how to treat a lady, how to eat properly, correct table manners, and a few other things. Taught me more in 3 hours than I knew in 18 years. Anyway, that's my story. Last eight years has been in the Marines."

"Best stories are the ones we live," Nicci said. She was barely sweating despite the heat. The computer had probably upped it another degree or two. "Sounds like you know how to treat a woman right when you find the right woman. Take her out for a malt at the soda shop..."

"Take her for a what and where?" He asked chuckling between breaths. "If that means pull a chair out, then yes."

"Old movies. In the 1950s kids took out their girls to soda shops for a malted milkshake," she explained. "Good for a hot day before air conditioning."

He had a heavy sweat going by this time. He reached down and grabbed the bottom of his shirt and then paused. He let go and kept going. Normally he would have taken his shirt off to cool down and was about to, but remembered Nicci said something about pheromones and inhibitors from her altering. He didn't know if that would cause problems so he figured he would just sweat it out.

"Don't slow down now, Patrick, we're headed for another environment change!" Nicci said, pointing ahead with a side nod of her head. The salt flats were ahead of the plains (, which would drop the humidity a lot, but up the ambient heat. The running was definitely helping, though the humidity was carrying some of his pheromones, which she could smell. Bonus of her alteration - better sense of smell; downside - greater sensitivity to the pheromones of the guys she's around. She hoped he didn't see her reaction - her blue eyes were now kind of green and her originally pink lips were turning redder and fuller, and her sports bra was showing some points that weren't there before. Luckily she was running and that kept her mind off her other distractions.

The undulating plains went flat and the plantlife disappeared into the distance as they went into the salt flats, nothing but the occasional hill with life on it to break up the cragged salty ground.

Patrick looked around at the new scene and focused on his breathing. "Not sure I'd want to visit here." He said taking in the new setting. It was letting the sweat evaporate which was helping cool him down, but could still feel the temperature climb.

He took a quick glance over at her, looking to see how she was holding up. He saw a little bit of perspiration but that was all. His focus went back to the salt flats. "Are you sure your dad wasn't Captain America?" He asked working his breathing again.

"Who's he?" she asked, confused. "Starfleet? Some WW3 Army guy?"

"Sorry, my turn for history. Was a comic series that ran from the early 20th century through the early 22nd century. He was just an ordinary guy who volunteered for a government program. Gave him a super soldier serum and turned him into the peak of human ability. Could jog for hours at a sprint and hardly break a sweat."

"That sounds impressive," Nicci said, taking it in. She wasn't up on most of 20th century pop culture, but she knew a few bits here and there - 60s music, JFK, Reagan, World Wars, Vietnam, Berlin Wall falling, but not much on the comics, intricate politics, movies, and TV aside from a few things here and there. It was 400 years ago, after all. "Why'd he volunteer?"

"It was World War 2. He wanted to enlist but he was too small. Kept getting rejected. If he volunteered to be an experiment, they would enlist him. He wanted to take the fight to the Nazi's and that was his shot. If he could punch out Hitler, they could end the war."

"Yeah, those guys were evil, for sure," Nicci agreed "Who wouldn't want to punch that guy in the face? What'd he do with that kind of ability?"

He smiled. "Well, he fought against a secret Nazi group called Hydra. He had the same memory you do and broke their codes, memorized maps and then lead teams in to clear bases. He ended up getting frozen and waking up in the late 20th century over 60 years later. He fought with another group of super people to keep the earth safe from other bad super people and alien threat." He said laughing.

"Wow," she replied. "Maybe I ought to read that some time."

"I'll have the computer transfer you a copy." He said huffing. "Learned about his from a guy in boot. I read that and discovered all kinds of different ones. Lots of hero's with problems but still doing good. Helped motivate me." He said and behind him. While he was not a fan of the salt flat, it was neat to see their footsteps in the ground.

The crunchy salt ground slowly started to loosen up and be replaced with packed dirt and the first signs of vegetation returned. The temperature stayed the same, but the humidity increased. Small shrubs and sparse and skinny trees showed up along with some thing and wispy grass. The floating monitor showed the location as the Serengeti of Africa. It was also flat, but the O2 level decreased again, bumping it up to 5,000 feet. He started to slow a little.

The floating text ahead of them warned Nicci of the new temperature, O2, gravity, and location. With all the realism of the Serengeti environment (,,, it felt real even though the Utah salt flats were a few thousand miles from Africa on Earth, which was also light years away. Lions lazed in the sun on some rocks, while a giraffe fed on a tree in the middle distance. She'd never been to Africa in real life, but now she wanted to see the continent for herself, and Lake Victoria, which was just west of the park.

"On your left!" Nicci said as she passed by him, as she kept the same pace the entire time. Her lungs had 800 million alveoli, the upper limit for a human, so she was quite capable of adapting to the O2 changes easily, as her liver also released more erythropoietin naturally, much like Kenyans on Earth who lived at a high altitude and often won races in the centuries-old Olympics, so she could more easily process low oxygen environments; a benefit of Orion alteration, giving her better survivability on planets like Vulcan or Qo'noS.

He smirked a little between deep breaths. "I need me a little of that serum. Did you get peak human strength with your endurance?" He asked. He was in good shape, but with this, he was pushing himself. She looked like she was just getting into a workout.

She looped around to get back to him so she didn't leave him too far behind. Unlike Jamie or some of the others, she wasn't much of a showoff.

"I wish," Nicci said as she slowed a little to let him catch up. "Being a woman means I can't lift as much as a man. Before getting altered I lifted about 125 or so, but I haven't really tested myself. Wanna sprint to the finish line and add in some weight lifting?"

"Yeah, let's do it. Don't goe easy on me. Let's see what you got." He said filling his lungs up and boosted his speed.

"No holding back? If you insist," she said as they jogged together in the African park, and he got a little ahead as he talked. "On your left," she said again, and sprinted to the end.

He laughed a little as she blew past him and slowed his pace down. He knew there was no way he could keep up with her. He was I'm good shape, but not that kind of shape.

Nicci took off, going full on for the first time since coming back from the Bellringer Station. She disappeared into the distance, as the Serengeti turned into a beach for Stage 2 of the workout program. She didn't measure her speed, but if she had to guess, it was over 30 MPH.

It took a little time, but the Marine came in. He pushed at the end but not enough to where he would pass out. That would be unbecoming of a Marine to pass out on their first workout.

At the coastline of Whitehaven Beach, Australia, Nicci had taken the time since she left Jackson behind to get some water. It looked like a Klean Kanteen, keeping the water ice cold for over a day. She glistened a bit, but wasn't sweating all that much. There was a patch on the front of her sports bra, but not much other than that.

"Welcome to the beach, Patrick," Nicci smiled, passing him some water.

"Thanks." He replied and accepted the water. He appreciated the cool. He shook his head a little. She barley broke a sweat. oO They really went to town on her genetically. That bust have been terrible. Amazing she is as normal as she is. Oo

"Ready for Stage 2?" she asked as he chugged some water.

"Yeah, maybe here I'll have a little more of a chance to keep up. You must have hit 35 or 40 at full sprint." He said working on getting his breathing down. He called up their stats to see how she did.

"Huh, didn't think I was going that fast," she said in response to the floating numbers he called up. oO Didn't think I could break 40. No wonder I'm not allowed to compete in the Olympics according to Starfleet,Oo she mused to herself.

"Well, let's do some lifting. I can go first if you want." He said as his breathing slowed down and he was finally losing the lightheadedness that was plaguing him once they made the end.

"How about you spot me, catch your breath, and we can do a little weight work? Don't go collapsing on my account, ok?" she responded in a tone that showed concern and friendliness, and no hint of talking down. Unlike Jamie, Nicci wasn't trying to show off or one-up her crewmate.

"Wouldn't be the first time. Normal in basic for that to happen. If I ask you to turn around, it's so you don't see that." He chuckled. "Just give me a minute and I'll come around." He said taking a little more water to rehydrate. He looked down at his light tan t-shirt that was now a dark tan shirt that appeared to become one with his chest. His excess sweating had sucked the shirt tight to his chest following every muscle. Looking at him, one may have thought he ran into the ocean.

"I remember it when I went into the Academy. My D.I. made me his 'special project' when he saw I had a little sarcasm in me I couldn't control. Shaved my head first," she said as she set her water down and wiped off the small beads of perspiration she had. "Don't let me wear you out, okay?" From anyone else that might've come across a little condescending, but from Nicci, the tone was actually full of concern. It felt good not to have to hold back, but at the same time, she didn't want to intimidate him.

"Let's start you at 150. You mentioned 125, but let's start higher and see where we end up. We can always move down if needed." He said loading the weights. "You'll know pretty quick if you got enhanced there or are close to your old normal."

"Thanks," she said with a nod, her ponytail swishing behind her as she took up a spot on the bench press. Old tech, but sometimes simple is best. She leaned back, adjusting her foot positions, scooting up, which caused a little jiggling up top even with her sports bra holding things in check. She got her arms in position on the bar. "Since we're going bench press, what's your max?"

"I'm already calibrated. I'm around the 85th percentile and max at 285. Gunnery Sergeant Rommel is almost superhuman. He can clear 300. Big man for sure, but a great man as well." He said and moved to the head of the bench as she got ready. He put his hands at the center of the bar to help lift off the rack when she was ready.

She took a breath, not expecting to be able to hold it. Women didn't often have much upper body strength. "Like my D.I. Ran me ragged but at the end, it was worth it," she said, allowing it to fall under her control, then pushed it up. It wasn't difficult at all.

"Are you sure that's 150? Feels like 35 or something," she asked, furrowing her brow in confusion, looking up at the man over her head. Might want to bump that up 25 pounds or so."

Patrick double checked the gravity. The computer had reset it to 1.0G standard. "Yeah, it's 150." He thought a moment and went to the weights. "Just lay there for a moment." He slipped one weight on. "I'm not going to tell you what I'm putting on. I don't want numbers to mind over matter you. You just lift and tell me what you feel close to a max." He said and slide the other weight on. "Ok, let's try this." He said and helped lift the weight. He kept his hands below the bar and close but not touching on each rep just incase she finds her limit.

"Alright..." she said, trusting him since he was the marine here. "Still feeling light."

"Ok, let me adjust." He added another set of weights to each side. "Ok, single rep."

"Starting to feel it there. It's light, but it's starting to feel like a workout."

"Ok, good. We're closing in." He said and pulled the last weights off and put on different weights. "Ok, one more rep." He said and watched her go down. Seeing her go down she looked like she was now exerting effort.

Nicci let the bar down in good form, arms spaced just right. She was sweating now, she gritted her teeth, parting her lips, grunting with effort as she lifted the bar. "I got stamina but I think one more's all I got in me for now"

"Ok, one more." He said and put on another weight. He helped the bar up and watched it go down. She was slow going up. "Push, push, push, push!" He said and took a single finger mid-way from the center bar and her hands and helped lift. It was all that was needed for her to finish the rep. Once her arms locked He gripped the bar and helped rack it.

"Ok, I think that close. Topped out at 265. I did it at 270 and my fingers would have only lifted just a little. I think that would be pretty close. So an extra 140 to your bench strength." He smirked. "You could make a lot of money sharking Marines in the gym." He laughed and changed some weights for his set.

Nicci sat up, turning to Patrick. "What the frack?" she said, surprised. "I never lifted that much before!"

He chuckled and smiled at her. "Nicci, Let me welcome you to your new body. You lift nearly as much as I do."

She took a look at her arms. She was toned, sure, and she had defined muscles, but they weren't ridiculously large like some parts of her body. Her legs were toned too, no fat dimples anywhere on her, and her stomach didn't have any rolls of fat to speak of. "How the hell could I lift that much in a thin little body like this? Well, some parts thinner than others," she said looking down at herself, then back to her firm, round rear end. She got up to let Jackson have a turn, wiping down the bench so he wouldn't have to sit in her sweat, which could also cause some other distracting reactions they didn't need during a workout.

Patrick shrugged. "Above my pay grade. Not saying you are an ant, but ants lift multiple times their body weight and don't look very muscular. The how you are doing it though, no idea."

"Huh, I guess they packed in denser muscles and skeleton, because I do weigh more than regular women my age," Nicci mused. "Maybe I could make a few bets on the Starbase with the Marine contingent there..."

He laughed. "Just remember who your friends are afterwards. Belive me, they wouldn't see it coming, word would get out and they'd wise up pretty quick."

"Well, makes sense I guess," Nicci mused as he got ready for a set. She dropped a few weights from both sides of the press, leaving maybe 225 on there to start, till she found a good weight for him. "If they had kept me, I'd be infiltrating Vulcan ships, Klingon ships, and all those species are stronger than humans, so I'd need to hold my own, surprise them, and escape. At least I know I'm not a helpless damsel-in-distress...," she chuckled a little.

He sat down and laid back on the bench. He cringed a little with the wet shirt pressing on the bench. Definitely needed to wipe down after. "I didn't think for a minute you were. The Colonel wouldn't let you go on an away mission if you couldn't handle yourself. I knew you would surprise yourself though." He got comfortable and put his hand on the bar.

"Alright Marine, show me what you got," Nicci turned to her workout partner, putting her hands to help lower the bar for him. Her voice was quite malleable, sounding like a female drill sergeant as she said it.

"Ma'am, yes ma'am!" He belted out and took the weight to his chest. He pumped out five reps in quick succession and reset the bar. "That is a good warm up. Go ahead and bump me. Since I know you can handle some weight, I'm good with bumping it up."

"Alright, let's get some more on there," she said, not telling him she put two tens on each side, giving him another 40 lb, bringing him to 265.

He took the bar and pumped up and down three reps. He looked up at her upside down. "Go ahead and load me up. I got to break your max." He paused. "We didn't put any money on the lift did we?" He asked jokingly.

Nicci laughed a little. "I knew I missed something," she said, snapping her fingers in an 'aw, darn it' motion. She replaced the 10s with two 25s and two 5s, bringing him to 280.

He pumped up and down. One nice thing about working out often was having bigger chest muscles, and bigger pectoral muscles means a shorter distance down and up. "Give me another 10. That's going to be it I think." He laid there shaking out his arms.

"Alright, let's bring it up a notch, see how you take it," she said, replacing the two 5s with two 10s, bringing him to 290 even. Luckily, despite being right above him with her endowment, he was remaining remarkably focused. oO Gotta hand it to the Marines, Oo she thought to herself. oO They can be pretty decent people. Oo

"Alright one more," she said as she helped lift it off the rack. He was gritting just like she was, taking it down, with her hands only guiding to keep him even. Her muscles were recovering but she felt the burn just like he was feeling now.

He took the weight down and pumped halfway up. He gritted his teeth and his arms and chest flexed to capacity, the veins on his biceps becoming clearly visible. It took a long moment, but the weight made it up. He let her help him rack the weight and laid there a moment breathing deeply. "How'd we do?"

"Dang," she replied with an impressed expression. "You hit 290 lb today, Patrick. Way to go!"

She gave him a high-five in congratulations.

He sat up from the bench and met her high-five. "Wow, I didn't think I was up there yet."

"Color me impressed," Nicci said with a smile on her face and in her voice. "You got yourself a new max."

"Thanks and thanks for the spot." He said shaking his arm and wrapping then around his chest to stretch.

"Looks like we have a choice of squats or sparring, either way, depending on what you're feeling, then we get back muscles, and tire flips, and a final sprint. Or we can mix those up," Nicci said as she pulled up a program listing of the next few workouts. The program let them go in any order now.

He grinned a little. "Sparring a way to see who heals faster?" He said and stood up. "I'm always up for sparing. I at least know your max so I know how hard you could hit, plus, we got to make sure you don't have another zombie incident like last time so we'll make sure you know what to do."

"Ah, you got me," she said, putting her hands up and head down to the side in a mock defeated gesture. "My dastardly plan foiled." She laughed a little.

He smirked. "We're getting to know each other. I saw right through you." He joked.

"I do need to up my game when it comes to unarmed combat. I took tae kwon do and krav maga before joining the fleet, but theoretically, the Orions dumped some martial arts deep in my brain somewhere. But they could've been lying about it, who knows. It certainly didn't come out when we were down on the zombie planet, did it? I fell and got swarmed without too much effort."

Her voice betrayed some bitterness at feeling so helpless as she said it. She hated feeling powerless.

"It was rough down there. Things can go south in any mission and it was kill or be killed." He said and made his way to the ring that materialized. "How are you holding up?" He asked putting fingered gloves on.

"I'm feeling better, thank goodness," Nicci replied. "The utter terror of a corpse eating my arm has passed but the nightmares keep me up at night still."

"That will linger for a while." He said remembering his own. "It helps if you find something to take your mind off of things."

"Yeah, I threw myself into my work, which helped keep my mind off things. Still a little jumpy though," she admitted.

"Jumpy can be good. Can keep you alive. Just have to learn to master it and only let it out when needed." He said and finished strapping his gloves on and sighed. "Sometimes, it becomes a part of you."

She got some padded sparring gloves on as they moved over to the punching bag and she took a look at it. "You want first crack at it, or shall I?"

"Sure." He said getting his stance ready and began to through some punches, keeping his hands up by his face. "So I had a theory. Your body is set up for killing. Killer strength, stamina and looks." He said increasing the speed and strength of his punches, letting the bag buck a little. "Some predators have venom, when they use it on a victim, it's gone and they have to let it build up before they can use it again."

He started hitting harder, the heavy back bouncing at each hit. "Those pheromones you said you had. Are they like that where you just could maybe head to the holodeck, crank the ventilation to max and flirt with whatever you program, lose your pheromone stock and be good? Or is it like an adrenaline thing that's always on and just pumps more when needed?" He kept his eyes and fists at the bag, not wanting to embarrass her. "Way outside my expertise, but just trying to think of a way to help."

She was watching him punch the bag, and he had really good form, keeping his arms in, not telegraphing punches like on old movies she saw growing up.

"I never thought to do that," Nicci mused. "I mean I could get an 'un-blocker' from the Doc and inject it here," she started thinking aloud. "I mean, I'm always pumping pheromones out, but maybe if I had one big, massive release of..." she chose her words carefully "...stuff...maybe it would give some relief? I have standing time thrice a week but I just go in, take the edge off, and leave. I don't really go all out, and it's better than taking care of things in my quarters...not to get all personal about it."

He finished the the minute punching and spun on his heels and threw his leg out, kicking the bag to the far end of the chain and catching it on the swing back. "Sorry, didn't mean to go personal on you. You mentioned the blockers and figure the doctors know more then I do, but thought maybe it needs a simple mind angle. Your turn."

The holodeck displayed his stats as floating text above the bag for them to see - number of punches, average strength of punch, graph over time, speed, all the things you'd need to analyze for improvement.

"No, not at all," she said as she took her spot, taking a good sparring stance, as she began her punching. Front punch, reverse punch. Jab, cross, hook, cross. She went through all her combos from tae kwon do that she remembered. "Worst that could happen is we hit a quantum filament, the filters fail, and my pheromones spread all over the ship and cause everyone to start going at each other. That'd be one for the captain's log."

He laughed. "Would be a happy ship. Sounds like something the original Enterprise would have had happen. Always seemed to be something odd and in left field with them."

"I like how you think though. Sometimes you have to think outside the box. The box is a trap to keep you in control and keep you from escaping the Overton window."

He watched her slightly confused. "I got the box thing, but not the person's window part."

"Old term for the range of acceptable policies over time," she explained. "Politicians in the 20th and 21st century would introduce a radical concept, society would balk, but over time, it would become accepted and called 'normal,' shifting the Overton window. See, I'm not just a pretty face," she smiled and punched extra hard at the joke, leaving quite a dent in the bag before continuing.

He laughed. "I knew that in engineering. You proved it a couple times in here already as well. As you said, you're more than T and A.'

"But to cut to the chase and not dance around it," Nicci said, keeping her breathing even, and figuring he could take the info, "With all those pheromones, and all the other people, I hate saying it, even with the blockers I get horny and need a release. I need to work on my meditations the Vulcan Skon taught me, but with all the missions and fixing the ship, I've slacked off on that. Jamie says it's because I'm fighting the body rather than embracing it. But she's a bit of a tart anyway. Perhaps a long holodeck session, no holds barred would do me some good. At the very least, we could test your theory of whether it's a constant thing, or a well that we can empty out."

"You may want to check with your doctor prior." He said focusing on her arms and positions, doing his best to keep his focus from wandering. "I no nothing about biology except what I need to know. I was also comparing it to venom, so may not be apples to apples. Next idea may not be so good, like passing out a flyer for help."

"I'm sure there'd be plenty of volunteers," she smiled and gave a small laugh as she kept punching, upping her strength, requiring him to hold the bag for her. "But I'm afraid I'd ruin it for any other relationship the poor sap might have, to be honest."

He smiled. "Always appreciate a person who is selfless and looking out for others best interest."

She began punching harder and harder, the last 20 seconds moving faster, her stamina helping her go punch after punch after punch before she gave a last jab, then cross, both at full strength. She was actually breathing a little harder now, and after he released the bag, she gave a good reverse side-kick, strong enough to send the bag flying up, but he caught it, stopping it from going out of control.

He nodded a little and walked closer to her. "Orions may have gave you a great body and a fancy brain, but they should stick to the pheromone thing. Their subliminal combat is fine, but I can do them one better. May I?" He asked motioning to move her body and adjust her position.

"Sure go for it," she said, always willing to fix her mistakes and be better, be it engineering, self defense, or whatever.

He was very careful how he moved her. It sounded like she was holding herself in check by a thread sometimes and he didn't want to cause her more problems. That was never his intent. He put a big hand on each shoulder and moved her a little more her right, making a narrower target, and a foot to gently kick her back leg out just a hair. "Bend your knees a little more." He said and showed her.

"I may be throwing darts trying to help you figure out how to control all the things you went through, but I do know combat." He said smiling, knowing he was actually helping and not guessing this time. "You are trying to punch through the bag. Disperses energy that way. Focus your punch to only punch about two thirds through the bag. All your kinetic energy stops inside the bag and not trying to 'push the bag backwards."

"Okay, so, don't try to destroy the bag, got it. So what's my focus? What's my fix, coach?" she asked, giving him a glance. During all the punching two strands had fallen to either side of her hair to frame her face while the rest of her hair had luckily stayed in place.

"Good, now, use your hips and turn into the punch, using your back leg to straighten you up. Now, you are not just punching with your upper body, but using your whole body to get into the punch." He showed again and then walked being the bag. "Give it a go." He said and held the bag.

"And turn my back foot I'm guessing," she said as she went through the motion once, got a nod of approval, then gave it a real go. She hit a lot better, judging from his reaction. "Like that?"

Her body turned just as he had shown her.

"Exactly." He said moving back forward from the hit. "Combat is about focus. Your friend Jamie is I think partly right. You should embrace your body, know it's strengths and limitations, but also be its master and not let it control you. That's where meditation can come in and help you focus." He gave her a smile. "I use a form of meditation prior to each mission. It's not Vulcan or anything, but it's mental discipline, gets my mind prepared for the mission, purge out other distractions in my mind and helps me think clearer. I have a little ritual every time. I know my strengths and weaknesses and a clear mind helps me control the situation to play to what I need."

"I guess I spend so much time trying to tamp it down and stop it, trying to act like I'm still the person I was before, I haven't tried learning the control aspect," she admitted. "I've been more worried about being in control and not losing control of myself, rather than learning how to control myself."

Patrick nodded. "Sounds about right. You got to know yourself before you can help yourself."

"Maybe that's why I'm alone down in engineering so much, I guess. A little bit of fear of what might happen if I do lose control," she admitted. Her once perfect ponytail was askew with some sweat and a little blonde frizz as shorter hairs came out. "If I wanted, I could force people to do things, make them want it, but that kind of sounds like a violation of free will to me."

He looked at her, noticed her hair a little out of place. It took a lot of exercise but at least her hair wasn't superhuman as well. "A little fear is good. Big power is also full of responsibility, and you are probably correct on what 'could' happen. But don't let that fear control you, you control it. Fear can keep you cautious, on your toes and alert for situations, but if you let it run your life, you'll miss out on it."

"So, meditation, if you don't mind sending me some tips, I'll give 'em a shot later on today," Nicci said with a smile.

He returned her smile. "I'll write them up and have them over by noon. It's fairly simple, because Marines are simple. No candles, no special holodeck programs. Little music or ambient music helps I found, but all you really need is a focus. Goals seem to work a lot for most. What goal do you have in a short term?"

"I like simple," Nicci smiled. "I grew up without a lot of fancy things on a farm, so I don't need too much other than some books, some music, and my cats to entertain me. My most immediate goal is to hit full Lieutenant, maybe go for Lieutenant Commander. But, Lieutenant for now."

He nodded. "Use that. Sit in a comfortable chair, and with some music playing, focus on that objective. Think about a path to get there, obstacles to overcome, a secondary path, how will that get there, obstacles with that and how to overcome them, and again, and every angle you can come up with, but each time the outcome is success. Get as many successful scenarios as possible."

"Okay...visualize the paths to success," Nicci nodded, taking another strong punching combo to the bag.

"Good." He said. "Like anything, practice makes it better. Soon you can get the same focus in a fraction of the time and even learn to so it on the run." He laughed a little, almost a little embarrassed. "Actually did a little on my way over. Keeping my focus on helping getting through that last mission. Seems like we did more with other stuff, but help anyway a Marine can."

"Yeah, if it weren't for you guys, I don't know if we'd have gotten off that forsaken planet," she replied. "Point sparring, or do you want to call it for now, meet back later on this week?

"Let's do some point sparing." He grinned. "If I can hold me own against you then maybe next week we can go full takedown." He said stretching his legs again. "And it's two fold. While we do alot of the safety work, it's you guys with the big brains that kept us from ending up like them. I'd have never thought to sample the air for the type of contagion." He gave her a playful shoulder tap. "We need each other to stay alive."

Nicci smiled and replied, "Everyone plays their part."

She took her shoes off and put on the footpads, and put in the headpiece, pulled her ponytail through, and pulled up a mouthpiece, as they walked to the mat off to the side of the punching bag. "So, let's say, five points? Kicks to the head are two, body shots are one, and jumping adds a point. No head punches. Just like my old TKD studio did it."

Patrick followed suit, and hesitated with the head gear. Normally he wouldn't wear any as incentive to avoid getting hit in the head. However, he remembered her punches and that she was just learning her strength and speed. He knew she would never intend to land a heavy blow, but better be safe.

Nicci started off in a good sparring stance, bouncing on the balls of her feet, keeping herself lined up to present a minimal target. Her arms were up and she was focused in on Patrick in front of her.

Patrick matched up to her. Weight back on his right leg, his front knee bent and foot angled to be on the balls of his toes, both hands up in front of him guarding his face and upper body. He threw a couple left jabs and occasional right heavy to try and feel her out. He was going to be careful on his power. Hard to make a friend if they get knocked unconscious by accident.

She blocked his first few punches, not trying to hit too hard, just going for the block itself, and not trying to hurt him. He got her when her guard was down with a backfist to the chest. Nicci might be fast, might be good, but she's not perfect. She noted her extra bounce and was thankful for the sports bra she wore.

"Point to Patrick," Nicci noted as they reset to continue the match. "You got me there."

He saw the impact and blinked a moment. "Guard slipped." He said.

She switched her feet, switched back, then spun around in what was a blink of an eye, landing a scorpion kick to the back of his head; it was a tap, but he definitely felt it.

Patrick took a quick step back and shook his head. He let himself get distracted looking at her. oO Hands up, eyes up Oo he told himself.

"Two to one," Nicci said, keeping score.

He nodded. "I had that one coming." He said and threw another one-two punch. He stayed in close and kept his fists moving. He saw her keep blocking and stayed in closer than he normally would having the greater reach. After a few more blocked punches he quickly turned around, and disengaged two steps away from her. He stopped midstride, jumped a pace back toward her and snapped his leg put, throwing a side-kick into her chest.

It was a kick that always got her, and she maneuvered too late. He had a great side-kick, with a very fast chamber, extension, rechamber, and return to the ground. Picture-perfect.

"Damn, got me on that one," Nicci said, feeling the tap. He was definitely controlling his power, matching her restraint.

"The old pretend to run away trick. Works the first time every time. Nobody expects a big Marine to pull a tactical retreat." He smiled. "Two up." He saw her foot come up toward his head before he was even done talking. He he caught it and turned into it, expecting her follow up punches. She caught his shoulder with the blows, but no points. He held her heel and have it a firm push, she stumbled back a few paces but stayed upright. That normally put people on their back, but she was too graceful for that.

She decided to change tactics. He was really good. His style would help her improve, which is the whole point - not winning, just improving. His last attack, grabbing and pushing back, threw her off-balance for a sec, but she recovered well.

So she side-stepped to the right to try to get a clean kick to the chest, jumped, and got a great side-kick in, jumping just the right height, but Jackson was well-trained and was able to make a clean block of her kick.

He countered the kick with a punch. She blocked it cleanly and spun on her heels and threw another kick aimed at his head. He ducked a fraction of a second before connecting and took a step back.

"Almost had you there," she said, exhaling as she landed cleanly.

He nodded in a breath. "You didn't telegraph that at all. Good kick." He said and threw a straight kick forward at her chest, hoping to kick through her guard.

She blocked his kick with a muy thai knee sweep, like an outer crescent kick that wasn't extended. It put him off balance for a bit, but he made a great recovery. She tried to punch with a hook, but he blocked it effectively.

He threw another combination of strikes and kicks. She ducked out of a kick only to be met with a flurry of blows. He forced her to take a step back but for all the effort, that was all the ground he got. oO How do you beat the super soldier? Oo He wondered.

She blocked a few more times as he attacked, but he did get a great hit in with a jump punch, winning the match. But in the heat of the moment, she went for her next move.

As he connected, she leapt back, executing a perfect back-flip, with a kick to the head, low-powered, but it was still a hit, landing in a graceful sparring stance a few body widths back from him. Guile would've been proud.

He took the blow and stepped back. It wasn't a hard hit, but enough to let him know she still was full of surprises. "Nice flip kick." He said putting a hand to his lip. That was going to swell a little later, but he had received much worse in matches.

"Wow, I didn't know I had that in me," she said, more to herself. "But you got the hit first, so, congratulations, Patrick," she smiled at him, and bowed, showing respect.

Patrick put his right fist into his left palm and bowed at the waist, keeping his head up. "Well done Nicci." He then reached over to shake her hand. "You've got a whole lot of potential. I can recommend a couple different forms that would compliment your fighting style if you're interested in training more later."

"Sounds like a good idea," she said as she took a swig from her water bottle, enjoying the icy cold refreshment. She closed it up and looked back. "I'd like to be a little more comfortable in a fight so I don't fall down like a damsel in distress. Not a position I ever expected to be in."

"This was a good match." He smiled to her. "I think next week, let's turn it up a little and go full match including headshot and takedown. Its one thing to stand and fight but often the fighting moves to the ground and all around."

"I've got time on Tuesday and Thursday evening next week," Nicci replied, remembering her schedule. She had some extra maintenance cycles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday she needed to supervise along with crew evaluations.

"That sounds good." He said taking his gloves off. "We do a full match we can pause when you and I get on top of each other and I'll show you some moves I think you'll like." He paused then looked to her. "That did not come out quite like I meant it. I mean, I meant it, but I missed the innuendo until it had already left my mouth."

She choked as she took another swig of water, and looked at him, surprised. "Sounds like you and Jamie would get along fine," she quipped. "Almost everything that comes out of her mouth is an innuendo somehow," she smiled.

He laughed. "Difference is she means to use them where I let that out by accident."

"But some ground fighting would be good," Nicci nodded as she leaned back against the waist-high counter where their water bottles had rested, and she had taken off her headgear, mouthpiece, and hand pads. "I haven't done it in this body yet, so I do need to get used to how it moves on the ground. I'm sure I'm more flexible, just gotta figure out how I move."

He nodded. "It will take some time to learn what you can and can't do. Then it is a matter of learning what moves or styles works best for you. I blend about three different styles in mine to make it unique to me." He thought for a moment. "Have you ever tried Kung Fu?"

"No, just Tae Kwon Do and Krav Maga," she replied. "But I've seen holovids of it."

"It's interesting." He said and drinking some water. "I mix Shaolin Kung Fu with Brazilian Jujitsu and Muay Tai, which I saw you used." He said smiling. "Not bad by the way. The Kung fu helps my speed, the jujitsu for ground defence and surrounding a d the Tai for striking."

"Thanks," she smiled in return. "Perhaps we should work on some other styles some time? I'm moving up to Chief Engineer, but after I get settled in, I will probably have time to train some new styles."

He nodded. "That sounds good. You got a big job now so take your time to settle in, but don't forget to savor it." He said and grabbed his water. "I still owe you that celebratory drink. Just say when and the rounds on me."

"You got it," Nicci said with a smile and a nod, and a thumbs up. "I think we should probably clean up. Our holo timer's giving us the 10-minute warning. How about a dip in the pool there?"

She pointed to the floating countdown timer, giving them the subtle hint that there was another scheduled holo time coming up after them.

He nodded. "Yeah, be a good cool down for the last few minutes."

Nicci walked with Jackson to the changing room, accidentally walking towards the men's room.

He paused a moment. "Going somewhere?"

"Ah, sorry about that,...I wasn't watching where I was going..." she said, a little embarrassed.

He laughed. "No problem. It happens." Then walked into the changing room. He was glad that it was replicated water in the pool and it would go away when they were done. He was a mess of sweat. He changed from workout shorts into surfing board shorts and peaked the shirt off of his chest. He was glad to get that off and should have the computer burn it after for how it felt.

Once she walked into the women's shower, she peeled off her sports bra, workout pants, socks, and shoes, and switched over to a relatively modest red bikini, which, despite its amount of fabric, didn't hide much with her figure. She had plenty of cleavage, and even out of the workout pants, her rear was quite firm and perky.

"Ready?" she asked as she saw Jackson emerge from the guys' side.

He walked out looking at the pool. "Yeah, I'm ready to wow." He said as he turned and saw her. He shook his head. Not only did his mouth spit out the word he thought, but he was much more aware of some of the scars on his chest that were now exposed. With other Marines, it was always a matter of pride. The men and ladies showed them off regularly. He hadn't had a non-marine friend in a very long time and felt more aware of each one.

"I am sorry about that. That was my brain not engaging. I defined the stereotype Marine there. Muscles are required, intelligence not essential. That that was not an intelligent comment."

She laughed a little at his confused words but not too long a time. "No problem. I forget sometimes I can have an effect on people. I used to be pretty plain, so I don't really realize it till I think about it."

She smiled and looked, saying, "and you definitely have the muscles... dang. I'm kind of jealous."

"Thanks." He said glad she wasn't offended by his thoughtless moment. "When you have nothing else to spend your liberty time doing, I just work out. Spend enough time there they just eventually show up." He said and looked down. "Maybe a little too much time there."

"Well, fun fact about me... um, I have a long tongue?" she thought, and Stuck her tongue out to her nose and back. "It's 3.95 inches, one of the longest for a human apparently."

"Wow, that is long." He said then thought a second. "I think. Maybe. I honestly have no idea what normal is supposed to be to be honest."

"I guess the longer it is the more useful it is, right?" she said absently, not thinking how it could be taken.

He reddened slightly. "Yeah, I suppose." Orians knew what they were doing in one part for sure. Combat though, not as well. Good, but not on the level of everything else they did to her.

She walked with him to the pool, a classic rectangle of a pool with a diving board at one end, stairs at the shallow end. It reminded her of a pool she used to swim in as a kid, really big, with a good view of the beach. They would have to have a beach run next time.

As they walked she became slightly more aware of the rhythmic bouncing of her body, something she was more or less accustomed to now. Then she remembered a clip from MST3K 'Girls town,' where Mamie Van Doren entered the scene and Tom Servo quipped 'dun dundundun dundundun Gi-gaaaan-tor" in time to Mamie' s walk, making her smile.

As they approached the pool, Patrick rushed forward to the springboard. He ran its length with a few measured strides, jumped onto the end and launched himself into the air. He did a swan dive and tucked the dive at the last moment. Going under He took long stroked and surfaced at the end of the pool. He thought about a swim contest for the last couple minutes, but figured she could hold her breath for am hour or something crazy and he was happy to just be a solid swimmer.

Nicci was suitably impressed, and clapped, "that was a great dive!"

She walked over more towards the deep end of the pool, intending to jump in and swim a bit till their time ended. "Honestly, you seem like a natural!"

"Thanks. They make sure you know how to swim well in the Marines. I only swam once prior. It was a definite sink or swim moment." He said and leaned up against the edge of the pool. "Your turn. Let's see the dive."

"Me? I can't really dive," Nicci protested. "The best I've ever done is cannonballs or belly flops.

He chuckled. "Come on Nicci, give it a shot. You suprised yourself the rest of the morning. You got..."he paused checking the timer. "Six minutes to suprise yourself again."

"Alright, I'll give it a shot...but if I hit my head, I know who's responsible," she said with a little chuckle, as she slowly got onto the board. Mimicking him, she did a few measured strides to the end, jumped and dove, arms ahead to break the water more smoothly than she'd done in years.

Nicci swam a little under water, swishing her legs before she broke the water, her blonde hair slicked back as she wiped the water from her face. "How'd I do?"

"Wow, I'd say that was a 9.5. You may have had a toe slightly bent or something." He joked. "Add graceful diving to the list of abilities. Did you swim much prior?" He asked and slowly started making laps in the pool, gliding through the water quietly so he could still hear her.

"No, not really," she admitted before she joined with some leisurely strokes to the shallow end. "I had a community pool growing up where we spent a lot of summers, but I never dived. I was always scared witless that I'd hit my head or break a bone or something," she said with sincerity.

"Valid concern." He said slowly doing his lap. "Long as you know how deep the pool is prior, there shouldn't be a problem. More experience will help those fears."

She smiled, and turned it back to him. "But dang, you swim as well as a fish can. I'm jealous!"

"Learned after I joined up the details of swimming. If you hesitated you got an extra hour in the deep. So you learned to show confidence. I knew it was a weak area of mine so I spent some of my liberty in the training pool leaning to become a better swimmer. " He switched to a back stroke for his next lap. "It was fun, just me and the pool. A way I could get away from it all as well."

As he swam a little she floated on her back, gently kicking her legs as her blonde hair floated beneath her under the water, then turned around to join him in a gentle swim. "If we had enough time, I'd say we could replicate some floats and enjoy a nice drink, but that just means we get to come back to the pool sometime after a run on the beach, if you're up for it." She smiled, glad to have enjoyed some time with a new friend.

He sat up and began to tread water. "Cold drink and a floaty? I'm on board for that. We definitely need to schedule that. I almost went with a beach run but thought maybe next time. Beach run it will be." He said and looked at the timer. "About enough time to get changed." He said and went to the edge and pulled himself up.

"Ah, so sad, but time's almost up," Nicci said as she stood up and walked up the stairs, water dripping off her, her blonde hair plastered wet to her back. "I know a good lazy river program some other time," she mentioned as she grabbed a towel and started drying herself off. Some parts got in the way a bit due to their size, but she ignored the feeling and finished up, and grabbed some blue beach shorts to put over her bikini bottom and a loose white beach cover-up that was a semi-transparent shirt-looking top.

He walked over and grabbed a towel off a bench and started drying himself off. When she came over he tossed her the other towel. "I'm glad we started with the extreme stuff. I'd have just swam the whole session or done the floaty and a beer."

She laughed. "It was definitely worth the exercise, no doubt," she smiled. "I appreciate being challenged. Best way to grow, right?"

He nodded. "Always something to do. Keep pushing yourself. OK to probe for your limits, but once you find them it's good to stretch them. Although I know my limit on alcohol including stretch limits."

"I know a good creamsicle sour from an Earth brewery, Wicked Barley," Nicci offered. "Their PBJ was a favorite of a girl I knew back on Earth. But I still prefer a good cold Kölsch. I used to like in Cologne for a while, and it grew on me."

The marine nodded. "That's a good one. Depends on the weather for me. I like that in the summer along with Pilsner. Winter, I need a good stout or a dark ale."

She walked with him to the holodeck doors that had appeared near the edge of the pool concrete, enjoying the nice sun and heat for the seconds they had left in the program.

"It's been fun, Patrick," Nicci smiled and looked over at the tall Marine. "I'm up for a workout anytime. And if you feel like visiting engineering, you're definitely welcome."

"Thanks Nicci. Let's do it again. I'm good for that beach run and lounge idea. I'll give you a visit sometime. If you ever get around to Marine Country, feel free to drop in as well. They'll behave or else."


Lieutenant JG Nicole Taggert
Chief Engineering Officer

1st Lieutenant Patrick Jackson
Marine Commanding Officer

OOC: feel free to change the setting anytime for the blender. Nice touch.
OOC: Thanks. I thought it'd be more fun than the insta-changes we saw on TV.
OOC: Now that you brought up Cap, we gotta do "on the left"! lol
OOC; Just set you up with him slowing down lol
OOC: Don't want to make her Cap-like. She should probably only be somewhere 250-290. Just going by a species strength list on Trekbbs.

OOC: should we start wrapping up?
OOC: yeah, probably about time so we can get promoted and get to the next mission. How about a dip in the pool, dry off, head out?


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