"Blessings In Disguise"
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"There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not."
-Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section C, Level 3, Dalziel's Temporary Quarters
Stardate: 63075.1920

"Hmm..." Eve studied her presence in the mirror with a critical eye. After further deliberation, the ship's Counsellor had decided the rogue pilot-for-hire Natalie Portree was a little too high profile for their reconnaissance mission to VALLA ROYALE. However, to stay prepared, Dalziel had stowed away the complete outfit and eye patch in a hidden compartment in her travel bag in case the outspoken freespacer needed to make an appearance.

The orbital station was well known for its casino as well as its criminal underworld dealings. Being in the thick of the action on the floor would allow a good vantage point for the Intel trained Ensign. And what better way to do just that, than by being a Dabo girl.

She'd chosen a sparkly green dress with long sleeves and a plain round neckline. What made it provocative was the glovelike fit and the seductive slit on the right side, showing off some leg.

Not wanting to change the hairstyle she had since she was a young girl, the Counsellor had picked a chestnut colored wig with blond and bronze streaks, styled in choppy wavy layers ending just at her shoulder. Amber brown contact lenses made her eyes the color of warm cognac.

It was all coming together. But something wasn't right. The red lipstick she had selected was too bright. Eve wiped it off and tried a plum shade instead. "I think this is it," she said to the mirror, overall pleased with the result.

The door chime interrupted her preparations. "Enter," Ensign Dalziel said.

Erik Morningstar, the CO of the PARADOX, entered the Counsellor's living room. But after a glance at the woman standing there, he questioned whether or not he had the right quarters.

"Captain," she acknowledged, trying to soften the awkward moment. "I can explain-"

"There's no need. Preparing for the mission tomorrow?" Erik was really beginning to wonder if intuition could be a learned skill when it came to the eager Ensign.

"Actually, I thought I was being premature..." Eve's voice trailed off, the look in Captain Morningstar's eyes confirming their plans to visit VALLA ROYAL had been escalated.

"Did Koniki already brief you?"

Her face flickered with surprise, still trying to process that the mission had been moved up. "Honestly, no, the last time I saw him was in our meeting earlier."

The American Indian man looked more serious than usual. "The situation has degraded somewhat on the station. Koniki has reserved the HATHOR and we will be departing at 0500 for VALLA ROYAL."

"Who will be going?"

"Mitshiba, Thomas, and Fanggot, in addition you the two of us," The Captain said. "Although, if anyone else wants to tag along they would be welcome to do so."

Eve silently wondered about the others and whether or not they would all be together again, while still grateful for those that would be travelling with her. "I appreciate the visit. I know you didn't have to do that."

"It was no trouble," Eric said. "Something like this seemed to warrant the responsibility of personal contact. I'll leave you to your preparations. See you in the morning."

"In the morning," she repeated with confirmation.

Susan M Ledbetter
Ensign Eve Dalziel