Postcards From Egypt

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OOC Date: March 27, 2011
IC Date: May 12, 2122

Dr. St-Sirois checks in with Commander Eisley… in person.


Luxor, Egypt, Earth


A sun-baked open-air market in one of the oldest cities on the planet.


The ancient city of Luxor stands abreast the swollen Nile River. Once home to the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, now restored to prominence once again as the largest Egyptian city to escape the worst of the flooding. Inevitably, given the circumstances, the place is still a bit of a shambles. Every day is better than the day before in Luxor but you probably still wouldn't want to live there.

Still, the place has its charms. In a large, open-air market underneath the baking sun, Dr. Charles St-Sirois waits for an appointed meeting. He's not easy to overlook in spite of his modest stature: he's dressed mostly in somewhat dirty while and wears a large bushman's hat tilted at a jaunty angle. He's also apparently benefited from quite a tan.

If this weren't an arranged meeting, it might end up as one more variation on a theme of ships passing in the night. One might have trouble finding a more unequal match up than these two who, so far, have nothing in common aside from a future serving on the Genesis. Commander Victoria Eisley on leave is a wholly different animal than the stiff, starchy, rod-up-the-spine creature than appeared last in the Secretary's waiting room. She has also spent enough time in the sun to work up a tan, hers lighter, tending more toward gold than brown; she wears her hair down and she -wears- a dress, white, short-sleeved, patterned with pale green papyrus. And why not? It's Egypt. Evidently this meeting is not the only thing she's done in the market this afternoon, as she carries around a canvas bag lightly weighed with something that gives it bulk though not any really discernible shape. With time and location set, thus, it is surely not difficult for her to pick out the good doctor, though recognition is not instant. Hence the inquiry, "Dr. St-Sirois..?"

As soon as he hears his name being called behind him, the doctor closes his eyes briefly. Then he turns around, sweeping his hat off immediately, holding it respectfully at his side though he doesn't salute. "Commander," he says, respectfully enough. The heat is sufficient that he puts his hat back on without waiting for any sort of acknowledgment. "If I'm planning to desert, I hope you'll admit I'm doing a poor job." What with the showing up at the pre-arranged rendezvous and all. Must be a joke, but the doctor doesn't crack a smile.

If she's disappointed that she doesn't merit a salute it doesn't show in the slightest; what Eisley offers in return is a wry kind of smile, one that just quirks the corners of her mouth upward. "If I were planning to desert, I'd wait until the last possible moment to make that intention known. It would give them far less time to find me." This might be a joke too but in the same vein as his attempt at humor, or lack thereof. All the same she tilts her head, indicating a cafe just across the market, yonder. "But I will happily verify to High Command that you have not made any obvious steps in that direction. In the meantime, can I buy you a drink, doctor?"

The doctor nods, politely. "A drink would be excellent, Commander. I haven't spent much time in Luxor, so if you can recommend a place I would be in your debt." He may not have spent much time here but he looks comfortable enough, even if his clothing and his attitude mark him unmistakably as a capital-o Outsider. Far more comfortable here than he was waiting for the Secretary of the Navy, to pick an example.

Nobody was comfortable there. Still, Eisley considers for a moment before shaking her head. "I have only been here a day," she answers. "Long enough to be settled at my hotel, and who wants to drink at a hotel bar?" The cafe ought to do though: it has a number of outdoor tables, some under awnings, some in the shade of a few token palms, but also a few inside, where the shadows grow thick behind carved screened windows. Left to her own devices, she heads in that direction. She is content at least to sit outside, though she picks a side table in the shade of the trees; the wavering, patchy lattice of light and shadow is appealing in its own way, and she takes up a seat facing the market. The canvas bag is set on the ground and pushed under her chair, out of sight but likely not out of mind. His question, however, takes a bit of thought, given while she views the sun baked landscape and the mill of people who pass on by. "There are a lot of things on Earth that I want to see before I go," she answers after time to gather her thoughts. "There is a lot that I have missed."

The doctor nods, quite slowly, as he sits down. He isn't carrying a bag; instead he's content to just lean back in his chair, almost sprawling in the shade, relaxing for a time. "Getting one last look at the entire Earth before you leave it for good, Commander?" he asks, voice just loud enough to get over the background hustle and bustle of the nearby market. "I can understand that, even if I don't necessarily agree. Frankly, I'm looking forward to being frozen for a few years."

"I feel like I've seen more of her from space," answers Eisley. Her hands fold, wrists just on the edge of the table, though she nods at a waiter as he comes circling out through the tables, luring him close. "The blue planet looks pretty small from the red one; it's easy to forget just how much there is down here." This is a philosophical statement, however, rather than a morose one. "Tea, please," she asks of the man when he's finally in place to order from.

Dr. St-Sirois smiles, as much as that scar on his lips will allow him to. His face winds up almost as lopsided as his hat. "I'm sure you've read my record, Commander," the doctor says, very, very politely. "I spent a few years in Libya during the war. That's actually where I received my doctorate. This isn't so much a tour of war-scarred northeastern Africa as a visit to an old home.

Eisley smiles back, though her expression tends again toward wry. "Your record is, as has been noted, rather patchy, Doctor." She studies him for a second longer, then directs her gaze outward once again. "But that is a fair answer. I don't mean to pry; that really isn't why I came, nor why I invited you to sit and drink." Speaking of which, the drinks are brought out now: orange juice for him, tea for her. Not the obvious choice, perhaps, given the weather, but hey. She thanks the waiter quietly and arranges her cup just so, though she doesn't sip just yet.

St-Sirois drinks a quarter of his orange juice in one go. "It was a spotty era for most of us, Commander," the doctor observes, his grin no less wry for tackling this subject. "With all respect, ma'am, you may be a little young to fully recollect what it was like back then. If a city wasn't getting bombed out, it was getting flooded. Plenty of people who didn't fill out their life story in triplicate slipped through the cracks, ma'am. I was one of them; the difference is that I became a doctor and joined the military so people see the gaps and make assumptions." Another quick but comprehensive drink of orange juice. "Do not worry about prying, ma'am. It is a story I have told many times." Although his tone has grown more polite and formal as he has gone on.

Oh, she's noticed, and that may not be for the best. It's difficult to tell though. Her gaze comes back, the blue of her eyes deeper and darker than the sun-bleached sky. Now Eisley picks up her cup and sips carefully, this gesture deliberate and filling up the silence that follows ever after. "I missed all of it," she verifies, neither mournful of this fact nor proud of it. "The only conflicts I saw were on Mars. And I try not to make assumptions, Dr. St-Sirois, I find that they inevitably disappoint." All the same, formality seems to be inevitable, even if this little meeting has already gone far, far beyond the standard thirty-day contact fare.

The doctor smiles, inclines his head, and raises what's left of his glass of orange juice. "I very appreciate your open mind, Commander." And then St-Sirois's spell of formality is broken. As soon as the annoying topic recedes into the rear view mirror, he's happy to go on as before, as though either not noticing his little slip of tone or not thinking Eisley has noticed it. "So with that in mind, I'm sure you can understand why I'd want to return 'where it all began' on my way off the planet." He finishes off his orange juice and looks, vainly, for the waiter.

A smart waiter will not reappear until Eisley is closer to finished with her tea, sadly, and she's a sipper not a swallower. Er. The commander tilts her head again just so, a few degrees in his direction as if acknowledging his own. "I do understand. That is part of why I came here, as a matter of fact. This really is so very close to the cradle of human civilization. Given what lies ahead, it is quite fitting to come here. Perhaps it will… give me some perspective." And there is that pensiveness again, distantly thoughtful and somewhat sober, though without any of the stiffness that she is prone to.

"Perspective," repeats St-Sirois, nodding thoughtfully and continuing to look for that pesky waiter, smart though he may be. Eventually, the doctor settles for thumping his glass irritably on the table. "I wish you the best of luck there, Commander. A little perspective can be difficult to find. Besides, when one is on a vast, untested ship of a hundred thousand souls hurdling through the infinite, who's to say just what the proper perspective is?" The doctor scowls at the bottom of his glass, as if his irritation would cause oranges to juice themselves.

His irritation is noted; by contrast, however, Eisley is quite still, almost a study in that quality. She sips again and then sets her cup down and lets it be, mostly empty, maybe in the hopes that this will help summon the lurking waiter. "You may be right," she agrees. "Finding the proper perspective is always difficult, and I do not think that anyone can predict in advance what will be proper or appropriate for our journey. I should like to have something to start with, however, and make adjustments as necessary when the time comes."

"Hmm." That's really all St-Sirois can say for that. "Well, I wish you the best of luck. Perspective is an elusive enough thing on Earth, let alone…" a pause and a vague wave towards the blisteringly blue sky, "…elsewhere." That gesture is accompanied by a glance at the sky, then at the doctor's watch (a real wristwatch! no tracking gizmos!) Rather quickly, the doctor stands. "Though I hope you'll excuse me, Commander," he says, voice just slightly apologetic. "I'm afraid I did make other plans for this afternoon; I hardly thought we'd wind up having a drink."

The abruptness of this gets a bit of a blink, one slight lift of the eyebrow indicating Eisley's surprise, but she doesn't comment otherwise. Instead she makes with fishing some currency out, likely to pay for the drinks. "I'll talk to you in thirty days. Enjoy the next stretch of leave, Doctor," she answers, evidently not -all- that disappointed by his decision to depart at this particular moment.


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