Not Kal Toh
Location: USS Orion Lounge
Two Romulans sat across from each other at a table somewhat apart from the main section of the lounge. Both were positioned in chairs that allowed a view of the door, but their focus was on a collection of rods assembled in a rough sphere hovering over a flat base in the center of the table. Anyone just entering might imagine they were playing Kal Toh, however, anyone who had watched for any period of time would have noted that the game began with the pieces in perfect sphere that was the end state of the Vulcan game.
Having been cleared for mingling with the crew of the Orion by his Handler, Lieutenant Targaryen had returned to the Lounge for a quick meal. As he entered he surveyed the room in an wink of an eye, studying each of the persons there and instantly recognizing one amidst an atypical game.
He picked a nutritional supplement from the menu and walked toward them, "Nice to see that your uniform cleaned nicely."
Vriha tilted her head, cocking an eyebrow with a frown. "No thanks to you, Juliette."
He held his drink a little tighter, "I'll make sure not to have any accidents today."
Nokomis entered the lounge, she really wasn't sure why. She'd been there only the evening before but something drew her there and she wasn't going to admit to herself that perhaps it had been the conversation with the man caught stowing away aboard Orion. She still didn't know his name. As soon as the doors closed behind her she saw him standing next to Vriha. She wondered nervously if she should intervene just in case. Their last meeting had not gone that well. Stepping over she said softly, "Hello. Playing nice I hope?"
Finchley was tired, dog tired. Training the new crew was harder than he'd thought it'd be, some of them only had very basic training, both physical and weaponry. He'd drawn up a course and also ran it, but after three straight days of non-stop battle scenarios, weapons training and basic physical training he needed a rest and a distraction. Deciding to just go to the recreation lounge rather than back to his quarters, he entered the room and made his way across to the replicator.
"Steak pie, thick crust, sweetcorn, carrots, broccoli and a glass of apple juice" he said.
A moment later the meal and drink appeared, and taking them, he turned and took a seat that happened to be directly across from two Romulans, both of whom seemed intent on studying what looked like a spherical shape that looked like it was hovering on a plinth. Natural curiosity got the better of him, so unmeaning he sat there staring at the table opposite, waiting to see if something would happen.
"I always play nice, Commander," he smiled as he said it, "except for when I chose to play rough." He winked at the Romulan.
Vriha's brows rose. She was still mapping human gestures, but that one when not implying some secret or confidence tended to be ...impertinent. Having overheard some comments about his training exercises - most in her opinion rather overblown for what sounded like standard cadet scenarios - she wondered at what he meant to imply. "If you wish to try rough at some point, I would be willing to see how rough you can handle."
"Uhuh, see there's always an exception." Mis practically rolled her eyes before getting a look at what Vriha was actually doing. "May I sit and observe?" She asked the two of them.
"Can I ask what game that is..if it is a game that is?" Finchley asked.
"Certainly." Vriha nodded cordially to the XO. "It is a game," she informed Finchley a sly smile. "Though it may be seen as combat by other means if you prefer things 'less nice'. It is called Heith Gen'enh, a variation on Khariat."
The Intelligence Officer answered nonchalantly, but one would wonder if it was sarcastically, "Tendaer."
"I've never heard of either of those games, could you explain how it works please" Finchley asked.
"Yes please, I've heard of it but never seen it played." Nokomis said, pulling up a chair for herself and the lieutenant.
"It is perhaps best described as a mirror version of the Vulcan Kal Toh." Eilaea said, observing Finchley and Targaryen in the particular way of any trained in intelligence work - which was to say, without tipping her hand that such observation was occuring at all. "Wherein the object is to add and remove rods in such a way that your opponent is eventually left with no move they can make that does not result in collapse of the structure, while avoiding triggering such a collapse yourself with your own moves. It is most commonly played in pairs, though advanced variants can be played with three or four, resulting in a faster paced game of even greater complexity."
"And, yes, it is in fact interesting, Juliette," Vriha said, shooting a glance at Targaryen before focusing again on the game to deftly remove a single rod. The sphere seemed to shiver for an instant, and she nearly held her breath until it regained its stable shape. She smiled at Eilaea. "Your play."
Nokomis smirked at the fact that Vriha was still calling Will by the name Juliette. "Very interesting." It was rather therapeutic to watch as well. Something about it calmed her mind. If she had been in her quarters Mis might have fallen asleep watching such a game though she did not find it at all boring.
"It's basically no different to chess" Finchley said, hearing the intone in Eilaea, and that sent alarm bells ringing inside him, "using a strategy to force your opponent into making a mistake whilst disguising your own attack pattern" he finished, now fully on his guard.
Vriha tipped her head slightly at his tone. Was that caution? Wariness? She knew many humans reacted that way to Romulans, and - quite understandably - to Eilaea specifically. But Vriha was young, very young in fact for her position, and so used to fellow officers treating her like a half-grown fvai that couldn't help but find being included in his reaction ...delightful.
Suppressing a smile, she let an eyebrow slant upward. "Is not that case in all games of strategy?"
~A false reaction~ Finchley thought to himself as he witnessed Vriha intentionally raising her eyebrow, but no reaction showed on his face. As a highly trained Intelligence Officer, this was the point something inside of him knew instinctively that neither of the two exchange officers playing this strange game were who they claimed to be, but something altogether darker, hidden...false.
Standing up and putting the chair he'd been brought back into it's place, he returned to the table and said "My apologies, I have work I must check into so I need to take my leave. In answer to your question to me though Lieutenant...you would know."
Smiling, winking and gesticulating with a nod of his head between Vriha and Eilaea, he repeated "You would know."
With that he looked at everyone in turn, gave a slight chivalric bow at the hip, said "Sirs", turned and left the lounge.
Vriha watched him go, both brows rising now in undisguised bafflement. "What a strange little man... "
Commander Nokomis Diza
Executive Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant Vriha t'Ehhelih
Science Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant JG Willian Targaryen
Chief Intelligence Officer, USS Orion
Lieutenant JG Finchley Kerr
Assistant Chief of Security, USS Orion
Centurion Eilaea t'Keirianh
Operations Officer, USS Orion