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Everything posted by Saveron

  1. The Counsellor on the newest addition to Security
  2. Like Captain Kells, the first thing I ever did with SB118 was enter a Writing Competition. It was something which piqued my interest whilst waiting for my Cadet Cruise. The theme was Song and Silence. My very first entry was also a winner and it started a long-term enthusiasm for a much more free-form field of writing that still contributed to our game. I think that it has encouraged some of my most creative writing to date, and I was particularly pleased with the opportunity that the 'Treason and Plot' theme provided, to cast a different eye on canon events. I was very proud of that entry. I think that what I liked best about the Competition was that it allowed for a much wider range of topics, where our sims are by their nature written around the theme of our ship missions. Having an outlet for wild ideas and themes encouraged creativity. It also provided a space to write in narrative style rather than script style, which I think encourages excellent modulation of storytelling, where the script is very here and now, and more suited for the immediacy of our missions. I shall miss the Writing Challenges greatly, and shall be very interested to see how the best of their attributes will be incorporated into the Top Sims Contest. 'All Good Things' I guess, but I would wish it were otherwise. I guess for now it's, 'Gorn, But Not Forgotten'.
  3. Del is right. Rosh is a cruel woman. Hehe. Not often you see a Deltan out inuendo'd. Admirable effort, that man.
  4. (( First Officer's Quarters, USS Garuda )) ::Discharged from sickbay, sleep was now taking up a great deal of his leave time. It wasn't an unpleasant circumstance, and he was aware that he needed the time to rest and recuperate. Tomorrow, he would be back in uniform for a ribbon presentation, but for now, he was living in pyjamas, stealing naps whenever it suited him, and pottering about his new quarters on the Garuda. ::That had come as something of a shock. He'd believed Quinn, of course, when she'd told him of the damage to the Mercury. But *seeing* it… that was something else. He'd known right then, that the Mercury wouldn't be exploring the stars again any time soon, but to find out he was being transferred directly over to the Garuda… yes. A shock. ::When the chime on his door rang, he was sleeping again, laid out on a sofa, drooling like a champion on one of the cushions. A PADD lay on his chest, rising and falling with every breath, an aborted attempt to catch up with his reading. ::It took another buzz from the door to wake him, the PADD bouncing off the floor as he sat up in a dazed startle. He grimaced as he swung his long legs to the floor and stood, wiping the back of his hand across his cheek and jaw. Lovely. ::What a sight he must be. The crazed hair and bleary eyes of the recently woken, a few days of too-sore-can't-be-bothered-to-shave stubble, barefoot and dressed only in a creased t-shirt and pyjama pants. A far cry from the usual crisp and perfectly pressed Harrison Ross. ::It was only natural, then, that when the doors parted, it was the object of his affections stood outside.:: REYNOLDS: I promised you a conversation. ::He laboured for an answer, thrown by her presence. After their conversation in sickbay, she had been the last person he had expected to drop by.:: ROSS: You did. ::He stepped back, fully aware that he was doing a poor job of hiding his surprise.:: Come in. ::He set off toward the replicator once she'd stepped inside, flipping the drool-marked cushion over as he passed the sofa.:: ROSS: I need a coffee. Would you like something? REYNOLDS: No, no. I'm fine. ::He threw her a look on his way to the replicator, raising his eyebrows. From what he could see, he suspected that she'd barely slept since he'd last seen her and was in dire need of caffeine. ::Or a bed, but that took his mind to places it ought best not go.:: REYNOLDS: Look, I don't know how to say this, so I'm just going to spit it out. ::He braced himself, taking his black coffee from the replicator and playing it casual by sipping from the mug, watching her over the rim.:: REYNOLDS: It's not that I don't— There was someone. He was— ::She frowned, avoiding his gaze.:: He died. And I don't know that— I don't know if I... ::She fumbled over her words, avoiding his eyes, actually wringing her hands together, anything but the cool and collected Starfleet officer he was used to.:: ROSS: ::Softly,:: You loved him. REYNOLDS: Yes. ROSS: For a long time? ::She hesitated, and then— :: REYNOLDS: ...yes. ::He had all the questions in the world. Who was this man? Had he been a father to her son? How had he died? When had he died? ::But he thought better than to voice any of them, walking over to the sofa and perching on the arm rest.:: ROSS: Look, if you're not ready to move on, I'm not going to be that guy who tries to push the issue. ::She nodded quickly, uncertain relief on her face.:: But... there's a difference between not being ready, and holding on to the past. ::She sat down, then immediately sprang up again, too full of nervous energy to stay in the one spot. Instead, she paced behind him, her gaze on the stars outside. He let her walk, taking another sip of his coffee as he formulated his next question.:: ROSS: Let me ask you this. All complications and baggage aside — do you want me? ::He didn't look back, but he heard her footsteps pause. He waited, still supping from his mug, working hard at looking considerably more casual than he felt.:: REYNOLDS: ::Quietly,:: I do. ::Now he turned, and found her looking over her shoulder at him.:: ROSS: Then let's just go for it. REYNOLDS: But I'm not good at... this. At the best of times, I'm not good at this, and it's a long way from the best of times. ::He couldn't help but smile, though her worried expression didn't shift.:: ROSS: Quinn, I'm twice divorced — I'm proven lousy. We'll figure it out, or we won't. I'd rather try and fail, than never try at all. REYNOLDS: With apologies to Tennyson? ::Two could play that game. He grinned at her and placed a hand over his heart, speaking in low, sonorous tone.:: ROSS: I hold it true, whate'er befall; I feel it when I sorrow most; 'Tis better to have loved and lost; Than never to have loved at all. ::Her face was a picture: surprise, annoyance and a hint of amusement, all rolled into one.:: REYNOLDS: You can be really obnoxious, you know that? ROSS: I most certainly do. Tell me you don't find it charming. REYNOLDS: I don't find it charming. ROSS: Liar. ::A smile dawned on her face, even as she shook her head in mild despair. He smiled back, then stood, depositing his coffee mug on the table, and walked around the sofa to stand with her. She was anxious, or nervous, or some other variation on that theme; he saw her swallow as he approached, her breath coming more rapidly than before. ::He reached for her, tentatively brushing a stray wisp of soft, fine hair from her brow. As his fingers trailed down the side of her face, he noticed there was an old, neat scar on her left temple, and he wondered what had left it. This near to her, he could see the detail in her hazel eyes; an inner, golden-brown ring that crowned a dark green iris. ::Just so. Outside as well as in, there was so much more to Quinn Reynolds when she let you in close. ::It was only when her hand alighted on his chest that he realised how hard his heart was pounding. ::He wasn't sure who moved first; whether he had pulled her to him, she had stepped in to him, or some melding of the two. That same sense of delighted confusion didn't pass as their lips met, his fingers tangling in her hair as he held her close. Sensations and needs that didn't belong to him began to bleed into his mind, until he couldn't tell where his thoughts ended and hers began, and they were both lost to the naked desire of the moment. ::His hand was already at the fastening of her uniform tunic when he broke the kiss, murmuring a question he already knew the answer to.:: ROSS: Stay with me tonight? ::The inevitable yes wasn't spoken; it came in the form of a shy, cheeky grin that vanished behind the material of his t-shirt as she pulled it up and over his head. Before it hit the carpet, she was back in his arms, and it was in each other's arms that they passed the rest of the night.:: --Commander Harrison RossFirst OfficerUSS Garuda simmed by Captain Quinn ReynoldsDirector of IntelligenceUSS Garuda
  5. I think in many ways that makes it even more entertaining!
  6. Thank you everyone and particularly Sinda Essen for your very kind words, I'm honoured. It was an excellent round with an amazing array of creativity in the stories presented, which I always enjoy reading. Congratulations Ed!
  7. ((Sulu Auditorium, Starfleet Academy, San Francisco)) It was an impressive space, he had to admit it. Even if it was familiar and familiarity bred contempt, the design of the auditorium was sweeping and majestic, capable of housing hundred in its seats and with the kind of carefully arranged acoustics that rendered the PA system and microphone all but unnecessary. That didn’t mean that Admiral Adrian West was particularly looking forward to having to spend the next hour or so sitting in it. At least these days he got a front seat, and with a nod to his colleagues he lowered himself into a seat between Admiral John Matthew Everington II and Admiral Tolira sh’Hail. He gave the Andorian tactician a polite gesture of acknowledgement as he parked himself with the kind of noises his father used to make getting in and out of his armchair of an evening, and yawned behind his hand. “First one to fall asleep buys the first round.” Everington leaned over and murmured. “Push off Jack, those odds are rigged.” West snorted in amusement. Everington grinned and ran a hand through his snow-white hair. “I seem to recall you giving one of these debates, many moons ago. With Admiral Saito presiding.” He pointed out. “Mmm hmm.” West grunted. “And I’m sure she slept through the whole fething thing.” “Ladies, Gentlemen and other genders not otherwise covered, welcome to the 123rd Annual Graduands Debate, where two of our best performing final-year cadets debate a controversial topic of our times.” Just incase anyone didn’t read the instructions. Standing on a box at the central podium Admiral Heraan glowered from under his bushy brows at the assembled cadets and officers, pausing for a moment to glare at two old codgers in Rear Admiral’s pips in the front row who were chuckling at something. “As most of you know I like a good argument,” the Tellarite stated the obvious, “but they foolishly won’t let me participate in these things any more! So instead I give you our top ranking final year cadets. From the Command stream, Cadet First Class William Bourke, and from the Tactical stream, Cadet Vanyeris.” The two cadets took to the stage to polite applause. Will Bourke was a tall, muscular Terran man with rough good looks, sandy hair and an easy smile which he flashed at his classmates in the audience. Vanyeris was a petite Vulcan female with waist-length black hair that she wore held back with a metal headband, and bright green eyes. She carried herself with the dignity of Vulcan reserve as the two took their seats. “An argument’s no good without something worthwhile to argue over,” said Heraan, “and the topic of today’s debate is ‘We Should Come In Peace’.” There was a polite murmur of anticipation from the audience. “Cadet Bourke will take the Affirmative.” Heraan ceded the podium and a first year Cadet moved his standing box so that Will Bourke could take his place at the podium. “Sirs, ma’ams, fellow cadets and citizens of the Federation.:: Bourke began, flashing his smile and leaning in to the microphone. “The United Federation of Planets is built on the premise of peace. Cooperation between her member species is what makes the Federation not only strong, but a bastion of liberty, sentient rights and equality in the Galaxy. When the first five founded the Federation it was built on these principles, and it is our duty to uphold them and to carry them to other species; potential new member nations.” “The dream is strong in this one.” Admiral Everington murmured laconically, watching Bourke expound on the virtues of Federation with hope in his voice and stars in his eyes. “Mmm hmm.” West grunted, watching the proceedings with a somewhat dubious expression. “With any luck that dream won’t be dashed too quickly.” Everington gave him a dry look. “I’m sure we were like that once.” “Pfft.” West snorted. “We were never that young.” “Peace allows cooperation, peace brings growth and prosperity and a better life for all who partake in it. If we uphold the rights of all sentients to live free from fear and hardship, to grow to their full potential, then we must reach out to our brethren with the olive branch, not the sabre. With every new member planet the Federation grows in potential, which is why in every new First Contact situation, we must ensure that we come in peace. To do otherwise is to rob ourselves of our future brothers. Thank you.” Bourke sat down and Heraan nodded to Cadet Vanyeris who made her way sedately to the podium and paused to scan her audience before beginning. “Admirals, Ambassadors, Officers, fellow cadets; citizens of the Federation.” She began. “‘We must come in peace’.” She let the words hang there for a moment. “As my honoured fellow cadet has so eloquently expressed, the ideal of peaceful cooperation and prosperity for all is the basis on which the Federation was formed; but it is just that, an ideal. And it is not an ideal which all species share.” Green eyes scanned the crowd. “Whilst it would be preferable to always welcome new species with welcome arms, we would then leave ourselves open in turn. Consider the Borg, consider the Dominion. Not all species will come to us in peace and so we must be cautious. Peace is always to be held in preference, but we must be prepared to defend it from those who do not respect it, lest we leave our own peace open to exploitation. And so I say, we must proceed with caution; we cannot always afford to come in peace.” As the Vulcan woman spoke Admiral West leaned slightly towards Admiral Everington and spoke out of the corner of his mouth. “I have to admit I wondered how she was going to tackle that one.” Everington nodded slightly. “Difficult. Vulcans are some of the biggest proponents of peace in the Federation.” He agreed. “They’re also the Universe’s best Devil’s Advocates.” West observed dryly. His comment was rewarded with a chuckle. "Yes, we should retain peace as the ideal, for without our ideals and principles the Federation has no basis. But we must be cautious of those who would not treat us as we would treat them. Whilst it would be preferable to come in peace, ultimately we should proceed with caution." The audience started to murmur as Vanyeris left the podium but died down as Cadet Bourke returned. His smile this time was less bright and somewhat more condescending. “The Borg, the Dominion.” He paused. “My fellow cadet resorts to scare-mongering. Yes there are aggressive species out there, governments who might seek to do us harm, but we cannot colour the multitude of new alien civilisations with the one applicator. The Federation is comprised of one hundred and fifty member governments, across thousands of stars, all living in harmony. How different would the map look today, if we had not approached those new peoples in peace?” He shot a look at Vanyeris. “Don’t get personal.” Admiral West muttered under his breath. “Surely not.” Everington commented. “This is supposed to be entertaining.” “These two don’t get along very well.” West said. “Why? They’re not even in the same stream.” “History.” And even when Everington gave him a pointed look,West declined to elaborate. “One hundred and fifty member governments, ladies and gentlemen.Yes other species have approached us aggressively, and at times we have had to defend ourselves. But I invite my fellow Cadet to provide us with an example of when, in the history of the Federation, it has proven a mistake for us to approach others in peace.” With a confident glance at the Vulcan woman now rising from her seat, Bourke resumed his own. Vanyeris took the podium, her stereotypically neutral expression betrayed nothing. She didn’t look in Bourke’s direction but rather at the audience in front of her, and spoke a single word with perfect diction. “Khitomer.” A murmur rose again from the audience. “What is she getting at?” Everington hissed. “Shh!” West snapped. “The Khitomer Accords.” She said again. “An example where the offering of peace was a mistake.” She might have been reading a computing manual for all the inflection in her voice, but her careful diction carried. “The Klingons and the Federation had been at war for generations until the Klingon moon of Praxis exploded, crippling the Klingon energy supply and endangering life on Qo’no’S. For the Federation it was a reprieve, but that was all. As Cadet Bourke so strongly advocates, when the Klingons solicited an olive branch, we extended it. We acted on the assumption that, at the end, their values were our values and they would honour the peace as we would. History has shown us our forefathers’ mistake. Even now the Klingons worry our borders. That is our reward for the fact that we came in peace.” As Vanyeris sat down the murmur in the audience grew until Admiral Heraan had to call for silence from a side microphone. “Thank you everyone! Controversial topics are chosen for a reason, it makes for a livelier debate! And it is just a debate. Cadet Bourke your closing comments please.” “You're sure she’s not a Romulan?” The comment earned Admiral Everington a dubious look from Admiral West. “I mean that’s not exactly a party line, and shouldn’t she be called ‘T’Pren’ or something?” “She’s following orders.” West shrugged. “And she’s some ethnic minority from Han-Shir, there’s a few of them in the Fleet.” Though by all accounts they weren’t always easy to work with. “Still…” “What?” There was a long silence from West, but Everington kept looking at him. Eventually he spoke. “Does the name Bourke mean anything to you?” “It’s pretty common Westy.” Everington protested. “How about Yeoman Bourke? From the Enterprise-A? Bells starting to ring?” He growled. “You mean he’s...?” “Grandson.” West confirmed. “But surely she’s not...” West just nodded. He was watching with a sour expression as Heraan shout down the noisiest in the audience so that Bourke could reply. Everington forced a more jovial tone into his voice. “Still, you can’t punish the son for the sins of the father.” “It’s not the father I’m worried about.” Cadet Bourke took the podium for the final time, and his charismatic smile was nowhere to be seen. He seemed to take a moment to collect himself before finally offering a smile that West thought looked about as geniune as his great-grandmother’s teeth. “I hadn’t known that Vulcans had learned how to joke.” He began. “I asked for a mistake and my fellow cadet gives me our crowning glory. When else has so unlikely a peace been achieved against such great odds, and to such great mutual advantage? The Federation border secured by an alliance with an old enemy, an end to attacks on Starfleet ships, stations and colonies? Because of the Khitomer Accords we have been able to focus our attention on progress and growth rather than an arms race. The Klingons fought at our side against the Dominion. We have hosted officer exchanges and gained new insight into each other’s cultures, which can only bolster understanding. How can any of this have been a mistake? I tell you that Khitomer was a success. We must come in peace, because that is the only way forward. Our forefathers were willing to forget the past and deal with the Klingons as they wanted them to deal with us; and because of their foresight and open-mindedness, we have enjoyed a lifetime of peace.” Bourke sat down with a sense of finality and to a smattering of applause which died away as Vanyeris rose to her feet. She returned to the podium with the same dignity with which she’d approached the whole proceedings. “A life-time of peace.” She echoed in the same calm tones. “A Terran lifetime, perhaps. An Andorian lifetime, or a Tellarite one. But not a Vulcan one. Not a Romulan one. Certainly not an El-Aurian one. It is all too easy to view the future in short terms, to forget our children's children and drown out those who urge caution and a long-term view, to our detriment. For, as Terran’s say, the leopard does not change it’s spots.” Those green eyes scanned the audience again. They were listening, though few seemed to be finding the experience entertaining. “Peace with the Klingons gave both sides time to focus on other things.” She acknowledged Bourke’s point. “The Federation focused on growth, on development, on research, on exploration. The Klingons focused on rebuilding their world and then, their military fleet. And with their military capabilities rebuilt, they were in the perfect position to take advantage of the misfortune of others.” There was an edge to her voice. “Where the Klingons in their plight were offered the olive branch, following the Hobus Supernova they have offered the Romulans only the predator’s teeth. The Federation's own borders have not been spared; every opportunity they have to bite the very hand that fed them they take. Yes, the Khitomer Accords have been proven a mistake; the Klingons are not to be trusted." The words echoed through the silence, and through the years. “That’s not true!” The perfect accoustics of the Sulu Auditorium carried Cadet Bourke’s voice without the need for any amplification. The murmuring audience was stunned into silence as, it seemed, was Cadet Vanyeris. “You cannot believe that!” Bourke insisted, advancing on the podium. His face was red. “It’s people like you who would sabotage the peace that we live in. People like you who undermine all that we strive for, and damage countless lives in the process. Do you even hear what you’re saying, or did you learn to parrot it all on your mother’s knee?” The mutter of the crowd was rising as Bourke broke protocol. Vanyeris raised one cool eyebrow at him. “Did she even think, when she acted? Did she even care how many deaths would be on her hands? How close she came to sabotaging the peace process?” Bourke demanded. “Did she spare one single thought for the boy left orphaned when she shot his father? I never knew my grandfather!” Suddenly he seemed to realise where he was, pointing an accusatory finger in the Vulcan woman’s face with everyone in the audience as witness. Rather than back down he turned and raised his hands to appeal to those there. “Did the traiterous Valeris even comprehend how everything she did went against everything we stood for, how she could have destroyed the soul of the Federation?” The audience stared in stunned silence, all except Admiral West who got to his feet and, sighting on the tech up in the gallery, made furious throat-cutting motions. Shut it all down, now! On the stage Bourke seemed to realise that everyone was just staring at him, and his hands started to lower. The PA system went dead, but the Auditorium didn’t need it, the acoustics were too good. Unperturbed, vanyeris clasped her hands behind her back and addressed Bourke directly, her flawless diction carrying over the stunned crowd. “Following the Hobus Supernova The Klingons invade Romulan space in the Romulan’s moment of need.” She said, every word distinct. She started to walk a slow circle around Bourke. “They prey upon them like animals. ‘No hand that does not hold a blade’.” She took another step. “They invade our allies and possible future Federation members on Duronis II.” Another step. “They attack the USS Drake at Gateway Station, and attempted to mine the USS Avandar.” Another step. “Finally, they occupy Thracian space, requiring the intervention of Starfleet to prevent the subjugation of millions of sentient beings.” She stopped walking. “Are these the actions of a people who seek peace?” She asked Bourke, whose face had gone from red to white. It was a rhetorical question. A moment later and she spun on one heel to face the stunned audience. “My mother knew exactly what she was doing, she simply had more foresight than most. 'Klingons cannot be trusted'. In light of these most recent events, I ask you to ask yourselves an honest question.” “Was she wrong?” ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Lieutenant Commander Saveron Chief Medical Officer USS Mercury
  8. ROFL! I can picture this beautifully.
  9. That made me chuckle. I have a very clear picture in my mind of Misha's antics, thanks to Rich's writing.
  10. Congratulations Chris, that was a thoroughly enjoyable read! As were all the entries; I love the Writing Challenge for the interesting new reading material. I am honoured to be recognised, and rather surprised. The competition was particularly stiff this round. Thank you.
  11. Diplomatic Impunity or The Tribble with Troubles The battered, over-full leather satchel hit the floor with a thud as the door slid shut behind him and Ramsey heaved a great sigh of relief at finally coming home. The problem with being Professor Ramsey Bakewell, Xenosociologist extroirdinaire – he mused as he kicked his shoes off and shuffled into a pair of well-worn slippers – was that he was always being asked to speak, mediate, advise and intervene at all manner of conferences, peace talks, negotiations and so on. Which was all very flattering and of course the opportunity to assist in preventing inter-stellar war and such like was never something he was going to refuse, but it took up so much blasted time. The lights activating as he moved through the apartment, Ramsey headed over to the replicator for a mug of coffee to help him think. He had a new nutrient formulation to try that might just be the answer to the particular problem that he’d pondered for so long, turning it over in his mind on the trip back rather than worrying about whether the Bajoran Kai found his tie with the dancing Orionese slave girl on it to be in poor taste. There were far more important things in life, and this little problem was one of them. If a Tellarite diplomat offended the Arkonian Ambassador, it was probably because the Ambassador was looking to be offended, not because Tellarites were particularly argumentative. One of the reasons that he went to conferences such as this most recent one was to get that particular point across to the Federation's diplomats. It was one thing to be the Ambassador to a particular species, to learn their culture and fit in almost like a native, but it wasn’t practical for members of the Federtion as a whole, across hundreds of species and thousands of cultures, to learn them all. What was practical was to take a pragmatic view to inter-species relations, which was where his three Golden Rules had come from. Pulling a micro-PADD from his pocket, he checked the hastily scribbled formulation that had been vouchsafed to him by the Andorian Ambassador's sub-Secretary, and cross-checked it with his own fastidious notes on his personal computer. He absently set the mug down upon a haphazard stack of e-books, the top volume being the latest Mills and Boon. It made interesting reading; the culture of his own species was weird enough, never mind anyone else’s. ‘Be polite, be well behaved, be prepared to give the benefit of the doubt.’ That was how they taught his Rules in Federation Schools, and in Starfleet. That was of course the sanitised version, approved as being politically correct by the establishment, which just showed that they had missed the point entirely. Apparently ‘don’t be rude, don’t be a [...], don’t go looking for trouble’ had not been found acceptable. But that was the core of the issue; if someone wanted to be offended, they would find a way. If someone really wanted to start a war, they would find a way to do that too. And if you had to walk on egg shells around others the whole time then eventually something was going to go 'crunch'. No, the way forward was to establish a robust and tolerant relationship, where you didn’t get upset with someone over using their fingers to eat their dinner, just because your people didn’t. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations as the Vulcans liked to say. Splendid people, if they’d only develop a sense of humour. Sighing, Ramsey took a meditative swig of his coffee and regarded the now modified formulation. Would it have the desired effect? The problem was, there really was only one way to find out. Just as, when you sat down to the negotiating table with no real knowledge of the intentions of one’s alien companions, one simply had to make one’s best effort, one’s best guess and be prepared to stand by one’s convictions; what ultimately came of it was beyond one’s control. So, in the end, was this. Once one accepted that one was a mote in the universe’s eye, everyone had their own agenda and Murphy was a prat, it was much easier to take a relaxed attitude to existence. One focused on the differences that one could make, and didn’t sweat the big stuff. And wore loud ties because one could. The small stuff now, that was where one could make a difference. Forgetting his precariously balanced coffee, Bakewell uploaded the new formula to his pocket PADD and shuffled back to the replicator. Feeding the formulation in he keyed the appliance's operation and watched as a dish with two pale brown pellets appears in the machine’s output. Would they be the answer that he was seeking? Only time would tell. Picking up the dish he wandered to one of the back rooms where a faint cooing rose suddenly in volume as the lights went on. Here they were, his pride and joy. Never mind sycophantic diplomats and arrogant Ambassadors, this was where things got serious. Balls of short fluff, long fluff, spots and stripes milled in cages and sang their brain-melting song. Tribble hybridisers became immune to the effect, or they stopped. Or their brains dribbled out of their ears. Ramsey didn't really hear it any more. The thing about Tribbles was that, unlike alien species, one had to be very precise when dealing with them. Too much food and they cloned themselves exponentially; too little and they went dormant. But just enough and the right kinds and they would hybridise with each other. The nature of native flora of their homeworld was the subject of great conjecture, as people like Bakewell studied and theorised and strove to find the right formulation to accelerate their hybridisation efforts. Such formulations were often jealously guarded and carefully traded. His was good, but he hoped this might be better. It might just be the key. There, in a cage near the back, nestled two tribbles that might just hold the answer. The long sought after Angora White, a long-haired pure white tribble. One was long-haired and predominantly white with a few black spots, the other was medium length and pure in it's lack of colour. The difficulty was combining the traits in the right combination. Highly inter-hybridised, these strains weren’t the enthusiastic breeders that their wild-type cousins could be, and this pair wouldn't breed at all. The Angora Pied with the minimum spotting had never bred, and if he could persuade it he might just crack the Angora White for good. Reaching in, Ramsey dropped one pellet in front of each tribble, watched as each seemed to wake and undulate forward to take its food which disappeared underneath the fur to be consumed. The offering was at least appreciated, as each sang contentedly. Now was the worst part, of course. Now there was nothing that he could do but wait and see what happened. See whether he might, in a few months time, have something worth taking to the next Combined Tribble Fanciers Association Annual Show. He supposed he might as well read that treatise from the Cardassian Senate Committee for Federation Relations in the meantime. Written by Lieutenant Commander Saveron Chief Medical Officer USS Mercury
  12. ..... Bwahahaha! *gigglesnort*
  13. Congratulations! Both very enjoyable reads.
  14. Roshanara Rahman, on waking up after being chewed up and spat out by a volcano:
  15. “Ambassador?” It was a deceptively simple formation, yet it encompassed not only a physical enigma but a slew of philosophical questions, both personal and existential, that any sentient might ponder at some point in their life. The majority of them boiled down to: What if? The angular slab of stone before him might well hold the answers, but it wasn’t talking. It had not spoken since Captain James T. Kirk had discovered it, over four hundred years ago, and the view through its portal showed nothing more than the desert plain beyond. Perhaps it would never speak again. “Ambassador?” What if? Such a simple question, but the answer was rarely so. The multiplicity of the universe was established fact, but it was the nature of it that one never saw what happened to those selves who made the other decision; well, rarely. So there were never firm answers, only suppositions, and Terrans had a wonderfully relevant expression; “The grass is always greener on the other side”. One might imagine what would have happened, but one could never be certain. And there was some comfort in known that, for those other selves out there, you were the What if? He had thought that, at the end of his life, he might ask just that. There were so many questions yet unanswered. But now that he was here he knew that he had as much right to ask as any other, and no more. In truth it was not the stone that he should ask but himself, and the Guardian served merely as a foil for his thoughts. No, he had no regrets, not any more. He had done always what he felt he should, and he was content. “Ambassador Saveron?” Allowing his meditative observance of the Guardian of Forever to be interrupted, the tall Vulcan turned slowly to regard the earnest young scientist who had approached down the durasteel ramp constructed to keep them from damaging the fragile soil. That same sandy soil was instead scouring away at the steel, already burnished matte where once it had gleamed. Perhaps in time the entire research outpost would be gone, worn away by the wind, and nothing but the Guardian would remain. He was aware that he was wool gathering. “Yes?” He said at length. She gave him an odd look and he saw himself reflected in her eyes. Impossibly old, deep lines on his lean face, hair that was once black was now silver-white, still worn long. Grey eyes that had seen the breadth of the galaxy, peace and war and politics in between, half-hidden in a sea of wrinkles. “Sorry to bother you sir, but the Nimitz is now in orbit.” She said, a faint frown creasing her brow. The Nimitz. No doubt they were all keen to see that infamous ship gone from their orbit, and it would not leave without its passenger. “I see. Please inform them that I shall be there presently.” He said, nodding politely in acknowledgement of her words, of her making the effort to tell him personally rather than using a communicator. The scientist nodded and [...]ed her head slightly, her vision becoming unfocused for a moment as she used her implanted communications chip to send the message back to the research base. It was a fascinating piece of technology, and an example in his mind of how nothing was ever black and white, everything was a continuum and even the influence of those things one initially abhors can eventually, subconsciously get under one’s skin. The Federation had never been a stranger to cybernetics. Her dark gaze focused on him again before flicking past him to the Guardian, proud amongst the myriad sensors that now crowded it’s previously barren plain, just in case it should once again demonstrate some sign of activity. Thus far, to the wonders of Federation science it remained an inanimate piece of stone. “Will you not speak to it, Ambassador?” She asked at last. Saveron glanced over his shoulder for a moment before turning back. “Would you have me do so?” He asked mildly. The Federation’s finest had begged, pleaded and hurled imprecations at it, and it had remained mute. “Please.” She replied. And who could refuse such a request? He turned slowly back on old, aching bones and regarded the monument once more. What, now that he was here across the vast distance of space, would he say to it? If he had any suspicion that it might answer, what words would he have answered? He had stood there for many minutes, and it had served best as a mirror for his own thoughts. At last he inclined his head politely in the Guardian’s direction. “Thank you,” he said, and turned away. It was not far to the research station itself and the raised transport pad used to receive shipments and personnel from above. There was no rain here, only the ever present wind, and the platform was open to the elements. There were several of the station’s personnel nearby, but they were keeping a respectful distance, and it was easy to see why. The Nimitz had sent a crewmember to collect him. Ironically he thought that he recognised her, from before she joined that ship. The triangular jaw, bobbed blonde hair and distinctive arch of her nose-ridge were very familiar; he recalled their meeting on Deep Space Nine, over two hundred years ago now, when she had sought to ask him about the Subjective. What are they like? She had asked. But the real question was what is it like? And it was a question that he could only answer from the outside. What if? It was a pervasive thought that worked away at one’s consciousness, begging resolution. And in this branch of the multiverse she had taken the plunge. Her skin was far paler now and the metal of the small visible implant at her temple gleamed in the evening light. She wore a close-fitting black suit on which here and there more understated metal gleamed and occaisionally a light blinked, no doubt connected to deeper cybernetics. But her hands were bare and unaltered, clasped casually before her. She looked up at him as he approached, and he noted a faint gleam of circuitry in one iris. “Sochya, Taril Emiri.” He greeted her by name, making the ta’al with fingers grown knobbly and wrinkled with age. She smiled at him. “Sochya Ambassador Saveron. I’m pleased you remember me.” She replied, warmth in her hazel eyes. Behind her Saveron could see a technician’s expression of mild horror as he eavesdropped and realisation dawned. The Vulcan ignored him. “Of course I remember you.” He had an eidetic memory but he didn’t doubt she would have remained fixed in his recall. “You were one of the first.” He regarded her for a long moment. “Is it what you thought?” He asked. “No.” She said, and her smile broadened. She didn’t try to explain and he didn’t ask; assimilation into the Subjective was something that had to be experienced. “We are ready for you, Ambassador.” She said, and in using the plural he knew she spoke for the Subjective as a whole. Saveron nodded before turning to his escort from the Guardian. “Thank you for your indulgence.” “Of course Ambassador, any time.” She replied with brittle brightness. Yet he didn’t doubt she realised that he would not be back. He was already pushing the boundaries of the Vulcan life span, his body failing him. No, he had given his all to the Federation, and this was one of the few things he had asked. But he would not be back; it was time to go home. Turning to Emiri he nodded and stepped slowly up onto the transporter platform. “Let us go.” She gave only a nod for his benefit, and the green light of the Borg transporters took hold. No doubt the research center would be glad to see them gone; no one liked have a Borg ship in orbit, not even a Subjective ship. They were only slightly more enthusiastic about the presence of the man who caught lifts with the Borg. As the two figures disappeared from the platform a man rushed out of the research station in the direction of the Ambassador’s escourt, PADD in hand. “What did he say to it?!?” They materialised aboard the Nimitz and Saveron was struck by the way that Federation technology had been meshed with Borg technology, rather than overrun by it. Even back when the USS Mercury had first encountered the assimilated USS Nimitz they had recognised that these Borg were different. They innovated, used weapons rather than brute force and moved as individuals rather than a hoard. But it wasn’t until their attempt at assimilating the Mercury herself had led to her crew capturing a fledgling Queen that they had realised what they had. Even then many were more than prepared to tar all Borg with the one brush, but Saveron had isolated this Queen and spoken with her on several occaisions, fathoming the nature of this Borg splinter group and their prisoner, sounding out the reasons for their difference. And it was then that he did the unthinkable; he infected the Borg Queen with a weapon designed to neutralise her Collective. Not a virus or a bacterium but something far more insidious; an idea. The idea that for a whole to be greater than the sum of its parts, those parts had to be free to be different, to explore and conjecture and think on their own, to have individual will and ideas, which then contributed to the Collective. There was a certain irony that it was something the Nimitz’s splinter Collective had already begun to realise. His act, in returning the Queen to them with that idea, merely hastened the change that had already begun. And so the Nimitz Borg had begun to change. No longer focused solely on expansion and acquisition, they developed or rediscovered their own impulse for scientific exploration, for philosophy and aesthetics, for invention and intelligent debate. Their physical expansion had slowed and at last become negotiable, he himself had managed many of those negotiations. This had been replaced by an intellectual and creative expansion that no other species could match. The Quadrant’s greatest philosophers and scientists were all part of the Subjective. With the flowering of its composite minds there were suddenly horizons to chase and boundaries to push which had nothing to do with space and time. Not that they were no longer a threat. Several times in recent history the original Collective had made attempts to assimilate the Alpha and Beta quadrants, however they had found the Subjective as protective of their independence as the native sentient species, and far more adept at driving them back. Indeed they often ‘liberated’ Collective drones in the process. It had been forty-seven years since the last encounter. But people still viewed the Subjective with suspicion; racial memories took far longer to fade. There was an attractive, flowing and familiar architecture to the internal corridors as Saveron walked them at his own slow pace; he had done so many times before, no one barred his progress. He passed members of the Subjective, some undiscernible from their original appearances, some unrecognisable; each to their own preference. Subtle sounds might have been communication, song or the ship’s workings. The air was temperate and easy to breath. A capsule that no Starfleet member would recognise as a turbolift brought him at last to what had once been the bridge of the USS Nimitz. It too had been modified far beyond its original construction, yet for some reason the viewscreen still showed a view of the stars, and the Captain’s chair occupied the traditional place. Nostalgia perhaps? Seated in that chair was a figure that no Starfleet member would ever have thought to see there, but she rose with a smile to greet him. “You have returned to us.” The Borg Queen said warmly. And whether it was the same one that he had spoken with centuries ago he could not know. They were many, created not assimilated, coordinating the Subjective. He had spoken to others on other vessels, but he spoke to each as though they were the same; in all senses they were. Physical manifestations of the heart of the Subjective. She had not changed in all the time that he had known her; had presumably seen no reason to. “Affirmative.” He replied evenly, making his slow way across the now gently sloping floor, coming to stand before the viewscreen that he might look down on the planet below. “Did you find that which you sought?” The Queen enquired, and he heard her approach, felt her presence just behind and beside him. He considered the question. “In order to find one must know what one seeks.” He admitted, not bothering to hide what many would consider the maunderings of old age. She knew him far too well for it to matter, better than any other being yet living. She had watched him grow old. “Sometimes one must face an option, have it within one’s grasp, to realise that one has no desire to take it.” “Sometimes wanting is more satisfying than having.” She returned; a phrase that she had learned from him. “Illogical, but true.” He agreed, looking down at the dusty planet below. “If the Guardian had opened for you, what would you have changed?” She asked gently, too familiar with the workings of sentient minds not to anticipate what he had been thinking. “Nothing.” He replied simply, and knew it for the truth. “But I might have watched it all over again.” He admitted. She gave him an oddly gentle look. “You face your mortality.” She surmised, easy conclusion to come to. He only nodded. “Look not back on the past, but around you at the future.” She counselled. “Look at what you have wrought.” And there was a warmth, a humour in her voice. He knew what she meant; the change that created the Subjective came about because of his interference, all those years ago. “I still wonder that you ever tolerated my input.” He admitted. He had been Ambassador to the Subjective, understood it’s members as well as anyone could who was not amongst them; but the Queen herself still fascinated him. “You were right.” She said simply. “Growth by assimilation only was a very limited route. Now we are virtually unlimited.” She said, and he caught her wide-sweeping gesture out of the corner of his eye. “Not even by warfare with your kind; it is no longer necessary.” She said, knowing that had been one of his primary goals; that he had done what he had not for the Borg’s benefit but for the benefit of those species yet free of them. “Now we do not need to actively assimilate; beings come to us.” And there was a distinct satisfaction in her tone. “Those who have free will always value it.” “Those who are a part of us value that more.” She said, and with the minds of thousands who joined of their own free will, he supposed that she could make such a judgement. “A decision made freely is always more valued.” Saveron agreed. It had been an unforseen side-effect of his efforts. “They are your children Saveron, as much as those of your failing body.” He hadn’t heard her move, but she was suddenly close beside him, touching his face, his silver hair, her fingers cool against his wrinkled skin. “It was always your mind that I valued.” She whispered. “You saw so much potential in us, where others saw only threat. Whatever your reasons, you changed us for the better.” “Only because you permitted it.” He acknowledged, grey eyes turned to watch that strange, familiar face. “Change had become necessary. I had looked for others to guide it, perhaps incorrectly. Locutus never gave himself to us. Representatives of other species looked to their own people’s interests unless they became drones, then they contributed nothing new. Only you sought to change us without destroying us. Only you had the courage to walk the difficult path.” “All life should be preserved, in harmony where possible. I never wished your people harm, only that they should do us no harm in turn.” “And you achieved it, where others failed or dared not even try.” She acknowledged in turn. “Will you give up on us now?” She asked. “I have no more to give; my work is complete.” He said quietly. “You do not age, but I am old, and tired.” He admitted. “Your body is; your mind is not.” She knew the restlessness that was in him even yet. “And I hold the answer.” A hand to his cheek, she pulled him gently around to face her. “Are we not everything that you have striven for? Have I not given you all that you asked?” And she smiled. “Will you not know the perfection that you have wrought?” She asked, her face mere inches from his own. “I have waited these long years for you.” Grey eyes scanned her face, the one constant in his life, when others came and went, to other pursuits or to the great beyond. Always she had offered, and always he had resisted, had needed his separation to do his work. Yet he had known that he would never return to Vulcan. After a long moment he dipped his chin in the faintest of nods. “I am ready.” She welcomed him with open arms and he learned at last what it was to be a part of a greater whole; his questions finally answered.
  16. "The responsibility for destiny rests squarely on our own shoulders." —Ra-ghoratreii, President of the United Federation of Planets, 2293 (( USS Pollux, 2404 )) :: Aron Kells was a fleet captain, in general command of Starfleet Science's 17th fleet of research vessels heading coreward from the frontier of explored space in the Beta Quadrant, expanding upon his work with the Mercury in years previous -- and as a fleet captain, he was not used to traveling in vessels as small as the Pollux, even though it was an advanced argonaut, successor to the earlier runabouts. He cruised at full impulse toward the sixth moon of the third gas giant around Epsilon Camelopardalis after having warped in a fair distance away; he preferred a slower approach so that he could think a bit as he got closer. He wasn't really sure what he was about to say, but he was certain that, even though he'd easily commanded captains and ships for a few years, confronting an old crewmate was not the easiest thing he'd ever done... ...and it was made even more difficult by the sudden ringing of the proximity alert. He scrambled toward the controls -- all he needed was to be blown apart by a Gorn Interceptor -- but as soon as he saw the ship's profile, he relaxed half a dozen hairs. What was a Cavell-class hospital ship doing out doing this far without an escort? His communication system began to ring at once, which at least meant that he was about to get some answers. He triggered the system and the holosystem displayed the face of an old friend. :: KELLS: Commander del Vedova, it's been a while. DEL VEDOVA: It has indeed. May I ask what you're doing so far from the 17th fleet, sir? KELLS: You may not. My leave time is my own. Although I may ask what you and the Chebotaryova are doing so far from sector 775? DEL VEDOVA: You know it all, sir, as always. KELLS: Not at all; I merely pay attention to the comings and going of old friends. (beat) This situation is no different. DEL VEDOVA: It is. She would not want you here. That time has passed. KELLS: Maybe. Maybe not. I'm still going down there. DEL VEDOVA: I can only ask you not to. KELLS: And you've done so. Pollux, out. :: He cut the channel and the hologram disappeared. The Chebotaryova cruised after him and Aron, who knew Del better than the commander thought -- or remembered -- knew he had just a moment before the hospital ship engaged its tractor beam. He triggered the Pollux's warp engines and, for several seconds, jumped to warp. He brought the Pollux out of warp just outside of the moon's atmosphere and began his descent immediately; even if the Chebotaryova followed him, which he didn't think Del would do, it wasn't rated for atmospheric flight and Del would not beam down after him. He brought down the argonaut toward the sole transponder on the planet, though he realized as he descended that if she really didn't want to be found, it was unlikely that she would be there. As he skimmed low over the world ocean, he realized that the signal was not leading him toward one of the seamounts, but was bringing him to an area of ocean above a deep abyss. Was the community underwater? No. He saw it as he crested the next horizon, and he slowed quickly from mach one down to a more appropriate speed. The island was not the technological marvel or flotilla that he'd first assumed it was, it was a collection of old oceangoing vessels welded and, in some cases, wedged and roped together. It was still a puzzling act of engineering genius, and this observation made Aron realize that he had been correct. He brought the Pollux down at the landing pad beside the transponder, but before he could open the outer door, his comm unit began to ring again. He tabbed it on, expecting Del to give him another try; but it wasn't him, it was a being, humanoid probably but not entirely certain, with its face covered with a mask. Some sort of mask etiquette? Well, he couldn't have known, and now he could only hope that this individual would say what he or she had to say anyway. The computer relayed that the call was coming from on the floating conglomeration, and Aron felt his heart leap. What if this was her? :: OVERSEER: You are unwelcome here. :: No, unlikely: Even with the passage time, he couldn't see how her voice would sound like that. :: KELLS: Excuse me. I am Fleet Captain Aron Kells of the Federation Starfleet's 17th fleet, and I am accustomed to an explanation before I receive a complete rebuff. OVERSEER: You have no jurisdiction here. These are not your stars or your planets. Leave, now. KELLS: No. (beat) I'm here to meet with someone. An old -- acquaintance. Roshanara Rahman. :: The mask prevented his easy determination if the individual had recognized the name, but the brief pause before the being's reply suggested to him that either he was completely wrong, or she was here and this person didn't want him to know. :: OVERSEER: Not here. Not here. You, leave, now. KELLS: If necessary, I can scan this complex easily, find her, and beam to her location. I'm respecting your autonomy by not doing so, but-- OVERSEER: You cannot. :: It was said too quickly, too easily to be a full lie, so Aron ran a quick and surreptitious scan. The speaker was correct: Aron's sensors couldn't penetrate the floating island; there was some sort of powerful dampener in effect. Again, he took this as confirmation that she was there. Who else could have done it? :: KELLS: Then I'll search by foot. OVERSEER: You will not. We will not let you. :: But Aron was losing his patience. :: KELLS: A phaser on its maximum setting could blow a hole straight through one of these rusting barges and founder this whole [...] scumtrap. Understood? :: There was a slight growl from the other party before he or she switched off the monitor temporarily before turning it back on again. :: OVERSEER: You may stay for one hour. We do not guarantee she will see you. Regardless, you will leave in one hour, or we will call for the Gorn. They are not such gracious hosts as we. KELLS: One hour will be more than sufficient. Out. :: Aron snapped off the projector, and the masked man was gone. He pulled the weapon he'd promised from the storage locker and, even though the interference was still going strong, pulled out a tricorder and a couple of other sensing devices. Better to be prepared either way. The stink of this overly salinated sea, the rusting barges, and the excrement of the indigenous animal life (one bird of which kept circling his head, making a sound like a wildebeest during childbirth) kept him from forming even the slightest desire to be there more than a second more than he had to -- but he also knew that he wasn't about to back off now. He just tried not to breathe too deeply as he searched around. Thankfully, he began to run into a few individuals, all of whom wore masks, but also, now that they were more than just holograms, he could identify positively as Dopterians. What they were doing out here, and with some kind of bizarre mask etiquette, though, he couldn't say. Religious? Cultural? Sect-social? Studying the cultural practices of sentients was not at all his field, and so he had very little to offer them -- as they did him, as all his requests for information fell on deaf ears. Maybe literally? Was it possible that the Dopterians were all deaf? He shrugged to himself. The few "buildings" he saw were rough and constructed of metal sheets, not engineering marvels at all, but after he saw one Dopterian emerge from a hidden section of the hull, his heart sank. He could count the buildings he saw on two hands, but if he had to enter some kind of sub-labyrinth and search, there was no way he'd do that in an hour. Thankfully, he at last ran into a Dopterian who indulged his request for information about a Kriosian female by pointing to the very last building on the floating mistake, so close to the bow's edge that it continually caught the spray and, maybe, he thought, sounded like it was raining inside. Not such a bad place to live. However, when he knocked, he found nothing inside except a device he didn't recognize about the size of his head. It was humming slightly and lit up in shades of green-blue every few seconds -- and, according to his suddenly completely useless tricorder, was the source of the jamming. He took aim with his phaser and blew it up, one fluid motion, almost without thinking. With the signal gone, the tricorder found her in less than five seconds. He exited the small building and headed aft, toward a large cargo container grafted onto its similar neighbors. Unlike the other buildings, all of which tended to face inward towards some sort of mockery of "town," this one, like its fellow on the bow, faced out toward the sea. Aron took the stairs two at a time and met there three masked Dopterians, one of whom he recognized (he thought) as the one he'd spoken to in the argonaut. The overseer beckoned to him and then continued climbing, up toward the building's very top. As they climbed (more slowly now that Aron wasn't charging ahead), Aron realized that this building was built very much like a lighthouse: And perched there at the top was a small dwelling. *This*, he thought, this would be it. Correct! But they didn't have to knock or go looking or anything, because there she was, standing outside, waiting. The overseer stepped toward her and Aron, despite every act of bravado up through that point, shrunk back. :: OVERSEER: Excuse me, Roshanara. You have a visitor. :: He looked over at Aron. :: OVERSEER: He was most insistent. :: Now Rahman's eyes found him, but he couldn't meet them. From what he could see, though, there was no emotion there. A big … nothing. :: RAHMAN: I know. KELLS: Rah-- Lieu-- (beat) Roshanara. I've come a long way. Will you talk with me? :: But she ignored him, didn't answer, and turned to the Dopterians. :: RAHMAN: It's all right. You may leave us. :: His three companions turned almost at once to go, leaving the two alone much more quickly than Aron had expected. He opened his mouth to speak, but she beat him to it. She was still quite expressionless. :: RAHMAN: I'm not leaving with you. If that's why you're here or if Del sent you. KELLS: It isn't. At least, not exactly. If you wanted to go, I *would* take you. (beat) But, no. What I really want to do is talk. RAHMAN: Your determination was evident from the moment you landed. KELLS: You knew-- Never mind. Of course you knew. :: She nodded and beckoned him into her little dwelling. Inside, he found that he'd been right, or at least partially: The walls were rounded and mostly transparent, though he doubted there was a light. She'd have an excellent view. Except for the smell, the company, and the likelihood that the whole thing would sink at any moment, it was almost nice. :: RAHMAN: Fine, then. You can tell me why you're here over a cup of coffee. The Dopterians don't share my fondness for caffeine. KELLS: I can't say I do much, either, these days, but all right. :: Inside, "decorating" the place were various strange contraptions and monitoring devices for the structural integrity of the community. There were half-assembled pumps and other pieces of equipment laid out on a workbench and on the floor. Clearly, the little studio served both as her quarters and her workshop. She had him sit down on a chair between the curving window and a bookshelf paired with another chair. Strange, really, since it was clear she didn't receive visitors often. The chair Aron sat in felt barely used at all compared to the worn out seat across from him. She poured him a cup of coffee and sat down herself. :: RAHMAN: Forgive Mister Hahtal. He is rather paternal over his people. KELLS: Oh, I can understand that. (beat) But are *you* one of his people? :: It was meant as a rhetorical question, but there was a hint of a true question to it, as well. Was she? If she'd already decided that she was, then maybe there wasn't much he could do or say. :: RAHMAN: I suppose. Is that why you're here? KELLS: I'm not here to call you back to Starfleet or assemble the old gang for one last hurrah or anything like that, if that's what you think. (beat) Nor am I here to otherwise engage you in some kind of outdated power relationship. RAHMAN: I didn't think so. It's all right. I already have a father. :: She smiled, though not at him, as she stirred cinnamon into her coffee. :: RAHMAN: And a Dopterian who'd like to think of himself that way. KELLS: I-- what? No, that's not what I mean, not at all! I'm here to *apologize*. :: Well, there it was, spoken plainly. He didn't even need to say what for, because her knowing look was a little too knowledgeable, her stirring a little too mechanical, her face a little too devoid of any care to prove that she didn't *really* care. :: RAHMAN: It's all right, captain. You did what you needed to do. For your ship. For our ship. KELLS: Maybe. But that doesn't make your dismissal right. It's always been my goal to work *with* my crew, not against them. Maybe the books do say that you should have been discharged. I should have said to hell with them! I shouldn't have -- you know, listened. :: If she agreed with him, she didn't reassure him with a nod or other sign of approval. Instead, she looked off into the distance, out to the rolling waters that lay beyond the windows. :: RAHMAN: It was a difficult time after I left the Mercury. Frustrating, disheartening... and frightening above all else. At least during my first rehabilitation after the Tempest, I still felt... like myself. But after you discharged me... it was as if a piece of me disappeared every day, until I didn't recognize myself at all. :: She then turned back to him, her green eyes reflecting his. :: RAHMAN: That is... until I realized I just needed to get away. KELLS: But that's what I'm telling you: You didn't have to. You still don't, not if you want to leave this place and come back. I know I said I wasn't here to bring you back, but I'm here and *if* you want to come back.... :: But he could see her frown already forming. :: KELLS: You don't have to answer immediately. Think about it. There are alternatives-- :: She put her cup down to interject, although her voice remained calm. :: RAHMAN: No, there's no other way. At least not for me... :: She held her breath for a moment, obviously expecting him to fill something in. He looked at her quizzically. :: RAHMAN: Or didn't he tell you? KELLS: Tell me-- tell me what? :: And who was "he"? The Dopterian overseer? :: RAHMAN: Hmmph... I had just assumed... :: Another grin formed, teasing him. :: RAHMAN: ...since I figured he told you everything else eventually. :: Not at all, or at least that didn't make sense with her response. Then it clicked, the only person she could be talking about. Indeed, the only person for whom that particular, almost joking smile made sense. :: RAHMAN: "Recommended for medical isolation." That was Del's final report. Not quite a quarantine since I don't have a disease per se... but basically, I've been diagnosed as incapable of living as a functional member of society. KELLS: And you, you saw that as some sort of betrayal, because you-- you're-- RAHMAN: No, captain. I agree completely with that assessment. :: She laughed then. :: RAHMAN: Yet ironically, I can't even check into an actual asylum for such isolation. Too much stimulus... and so, I decided to do what an engineer would do if she had a faulty component in a system: take it out. KELLS: And replace it with what? You aren't a power converter to be produced by a replicator en masse when you burn out, all right? You -- you're a person. With a-- a problem, maybe. But not *faulty*, not *broken*. All right? :: It was important to him that she understood this, and when she failed to do anything but maintain her benign expression, he rose from the chair, his anger overwhelming. He stared out at the sea. :: RAHMAN: It was supposed to be temporary. Del tried to be a saint-- no, he *was* a saint. He worked tirelessly for several more years on his own, long after the rest of the medical teams had shifted onto other newer, more interesting, and more promising cases. In fact, before you, he was the only other person who sat in that chair to join me for a cup of tea. :: She picked up her cup again. :: RAHMAN: Hmmph, he doesn't really like my coffee, either. KELLS: (softly) So that's why he left. Where he went. RAHMAN: But eventually, I told him he needed to stop coming here. He needed to move on with his own career. :: Oh, Aron remembered that well: How Del had been so devoted to his career after the end of his engagement back in 2389, how he'd made it through lieutenant commander and chief medical officer and had then plateaued. No, worse than: He'd given up. Sunk back down in the department, had been in danger of demotion, and had taken leaves that often went a few days past when they were supposed to end. He'd told Aron once, in the darkest corner of a moment, that he was considering leaving Starfleet, and when Aron had asked why, Del had told him it was for an old friend. Not that he'd thought much of that then, but now-- :: KELLS: It worked. He did. He moved on with a lot of things. (beat) He's a commanding officer now, of a small hospital ship. He had to be talked into the commission, but Command was insistent, what with the war and whatnot. :: With his back turned to her, he didn't see how the news caused her face to light up with joy. It was her first genuine reaction of their conversation. :: RAHMAN: I'm glad to hear that. He was rather argumentative about the whole thing when he was last here -- I'm sure that's hard to believe. :: Aron allowed his smile to flicker back as he turned around. :: KELLS: I think I can trust that it's true. RAHMAN: ::shaking her head:: And he had promised he would keep where he hid me a secret... for real this time. KELLS: He did. :: He shook his head at her polite incredulity. :: KELLS: He didn't tell me anything. I found you all on my own. (beat) He did try to stop me, once he knew what I was doing. I mean, once he sort of knew what I was doing. I don't know that he was at all certain what I would do when I got here. (beat) Nor was I. (beat) But you-- you, here and now. I sort of understand, or I think I do, that what you really need is to be left alone. (beat) Yes. :: She smiled again before taking a sip of her coffee. :: RAHMAN: Well, good. Better late than never. :: What more was there to say? Oh, there were the usual polite goodbyes, but the end of the conversation had come and they both knew it. Aron's trip back to the argonaut was quick -- the Dopterians were polite now, but it was clear that they wanted him to leave. He wanted to, as well; he found that in that moment he had never wanted anything more. But, again, once he was above the water moon, he found that he didn't jump immediately to warp. To be at warp was to admit the momentum of the situation, and that he wouldn't do. He stayed at impulse as he passed two outer planets, and only was shaken out of his reverie by the ringing of the comms system. He activated it, and there was Del's head waiting for him. :: DEL VEDOVA: She's gone. :: His voice was almost and carefully devoid of feeling, but Aron knew him better than that: Del was seething. :: DEL VEDOVA: The colony is in an uproar! They think "her visitor" kidnapped her somehow. She's left no trace, nothing even for me to follow. It really does look like-- (beat) I can only assume that wasn't you. KELLS: Oh, no. I did visit her. But she isn't with me. She must've.... :: He didn't finish the thought. Instead, he smiled. :: DEL VEDOVA: What? KELLS: Nothing. Nothing at all. Fleet Captain Aron Kells Commander, 17th Fleet, Starfleet Science & Roshanara Rahman Patient Reference Number 912-804-117
  17. Honey. It's anti-bacterial. Clearly Hawkeye was able to neutralise the toxins however, given that he fed it to his wife! Captain Kells:
  18. Like Mr Richards, Saveron would not violate the treaty and risk inter-stellar war. The safety of billions of Federation citizens outweighs the needs of the crew of one freighter. This would be why Saveron is a career medical officer, not a command trainee.
  19. Made me laugh. I was fully expecting some strange disease.
  20. Does history repeat itself, or do historians repeat each other?

  21. The stars sparkled brilliantly overhead, their cold light crystal clear in the thin atmosphere of the world on which they stood. A sharp, cold wind blew, ruffling hair and heavy fabric meant to ward off the chill. Two figures stood upon a hill overlooking a plain, sillouhetted against the glowing horizon that heralded the coming of the sun. "I admit it, I never thought I’d see it happen.” One of the figures said. Her dark hair flowed down to the sharply squared shoulders of a heavy jacket that narrowed to a trim waist, padded trousers and high boots with gleaming buckles. "May I enquire as to the reason for your doubt?” The other asked. Tall and spare, clad in heavy, flowing robes embroidered with geometric patterns. He turned to look at his companion, the growing light outlining sharp features. She met his gaze for a moment, her frown stark against the light of promised dawn, before she looked once more out over the valley below. “Because it faced so much opposition; from both sides.” She said plainly. So much so that it was a miracle it had come to pass; perhaps it said something about those determined few who had argued for it. "Yet it was the most logical and expedient solution.” He pointed out, followed her gaze. Below them on the dry plain squatted an orderly collection of pre-fab buildings arranged around a central space which was currently occupied by a large variety of crates containing all those things the new colony would need to get established. The buildings were furnished and ready for habitation, and beyond them fields had been mapped out for farming. "Not everyone’s as fething obsessed with logic as you people.” The woman grumbled. “Indeed, yet logic has the advantage of being undeniable.” Her companion pointed out, a dry tone in his voice. “’You can agree with me, or you can be wrong’ eh?” She paraphrased. “You have no idea how annoying that gets.” He didn’t deign to respond. They watched the sun crest the distant hills in silence until her communicator sprang to life. *\/* “Subcommander Tayel to Commandant Loran.” *\/* She activated her communicator. *\/* “Loran here, are we on schedule?” *\/* *\/* “Yes ma’am. The first transport shuttles are dropping out of orbit now. ETA on Outpost One is 08:75 local time.” *\/* *\/*”Understood. I will meet the shuttles.” *\/* *\/* “Yes ma’am. Tayel out.” *\/* As the communication ended a small dot became visible above the horizon, against the light of the morning sun. It was shortly followed by several more. “Well, this is it, there’s no turning back. No second thoughts, Ambassador Saveron?” She asked her taller companion. The growing light from the rising sun cast shadows off the V-shaped ridge above her upturned brows, highlighted a pointed ear and warmed her sallow skin. “None, Commandant.” Her pale faced companion confirmed. They spoke an ancient language his people called Traditional Golic Vulcan. Now primarily a ritual language it was never the less the only tongue they truly had in common, and had become a lingua franca in the negotiations. He considered her question before raising one upswung brow. “Should there be?” He asked, curious. The freezing wind picked up, stirring his dark hair and nipping at his pointed ears until he raised the cowl of his robes. “There are plenty of people who would baulk at having their ancient enemies as their neighbours.” She pointed out, a dark amusement in her tone. Beneath her boots the dry rock crunched and crumbled as she shifted her weight; the cold air didn't bother her as much. “You were never our enemies. The Star Empire made war with the Federation at times certainly, but Romulans and Vulcans are ‘two sides of the same coin’,” that was an expression he’d picked up from spending too much time around aliens, “we are kin.” The Commandant of the new Romulan colony snorted. “There are plenty of people on both sides who would hate to hear you say that.” Saveron shrugged. “There is no logical reason to perpetuate disagreement for it’s own sake. Your people were in need of a new homeworld; t’Khut was already being terraformed.” The course of action had been logical, at least to some. Alas that even amongst a people who prided themselves on their adherance to reason, there were those who could not let go of old wounds. She snorted and stalked off down the slope of the hill towards the settlement. “It was being terraformed by Vulcans for Vulcans; there were plenty in the Vulcan High Council who didn’t want to give it up, didn't want us living in the same system.” She pointed out. It was all working too well, surely there had to be a catch somewhere. She had an instinct for upcoming trouble and it was telling her it would be there in spades. Both of them were breathing noticeably in the very thin air, although given the greater oxygen affinity of cuproglobin they could both compensate acceptably. Any red-blooded visitor to t’Khut would require tri-ox injections or an oxygen mask until the atmosphere thickened. It was enough that the first hardly Romulan souls could make planetfall. “The alternative would have been accepting you as refugees onto t’Khasi, and other Federation worlds.” He pointed out, using his people’s name for their own planet. “Would you have found that preferable?” He enquired. “Scattering the remaining Romulans across Federation space until we lose our cultural identity? We could never have condoned that.” Loran shook her head. “There are plenty who say that we should not condone this.” She said, gesturing around them. "Indeed. You could, of course, settle on a planet outside of the Federation.” Saveron pointed out evenly as they walked, their footfalls waking little puffs of dust from the dry ground. “And be picked off slowly by the Klingons, the Breen and whoever else sought to take advantage of the catastrophe?” Loran retorted. “That’s not much of a choice.” And that was what those of her people who did not desire to go down in a blaze of glory had needed to face. “Yet it is a choice, one which you have been free to make.” The Vulcan responded placidly. “Freedom to choose includes taking responsibility for the consequences of your choices.” It was an aspect of freedom that some preferred to forget. “Here you are safe, you may gather as many refugees as you will, and providing that you adhere to the laws of the Federation you may construct your society as you see fit.” “There are many who will not want to have anything to do with the Federation; who blame your people for not stopping the destruction of Romulus.” She said darkly. “I cannot comment on the issue.” And he would not. He hadn’t been on Vulcan when he decision to send the red matter ship had been made. The Romulans claimed the Vulcans could have sent the ship sooner; the Vulcan High Council maintained that it was a miracle that they had the appropriate technology at all and if the Romulans hadn’t been so busy expanding their Empire they might have turned their attention to defusing the stellar bomb sitting on their doorstep. All couched in appropriately logical and diplomatic terms, of course. It was an argument that Saveron, well aware of Loran’s penchant for playing Devil’s Advocate, did not care to get into. There were still remnants of the Romulan Star Empire causing trouble beyond Federation space, determined to live in remembered glory and make their mark out there somewhere. But there were just as many who preferred not to go down fighting, who chose a chance to live and raise their children in peace. For all her internal conflict and the conflict of her people, Loran was one of them. “It’s going to be strange, seeing Yel and t’Khasi in the sky.” She commented idly. Yel rising was a sight her people hadn’t seen for two thousand years. “The ice asteroids will continue to be brought, won’t they?” She asked suddenly. If the mining droids stopped bringing the life-giving water, the colonists would be doomed. “All terraforming efforts will continue as per the accelerated schedule.” Saveron assured her. T’Khut was the smaller, cooler twin of t’Khasi or Ti'Valka'ain to use the ancestral term; the planet that aliens called Vulcan. It had been a Class G world with a thin, carbon-dioxide atmosphere that the massive algal tanks fed with asteroid ice water were converting rapidly into oxygen and sugars that could be used as a food source. Hardy plants from a variety of sources were beginning to be established by the environmental engineers, and a precious few Romulan plant specimens were housed in a large glass-house laboratory until such time as they could be introduced into the environment. Over time the water would keep arriving, the atmosphere would thicken and the world would warm. It would be a temperate world, much like Romulus had been, one day. He wondered whether it would be possible to ever fully satisfy Loran’s suspicious nature. “The water reservoir for Settlement One has been completed and tested. The asteroid processing and water tanker station is in orbit and will be turned over to Romulan control once sufficient staff have been trained in it’s usage. Survival supplies have been provided, and industrial replicators are inbound on the next equipment shipment, along with further agricultural and building supplies.” Saveron ticked off the most recent developments. “You may do with them what you will.” “What we will.” Loran echoed as they reached the level ground at the foot of the hill. “Will we really be left to our own devices? To live as we have lived?” She asked him. “We left for a reason; we will not become Vulcans!” She insisted! There were many who maintained this was a front by the Vulcans for a staged cultural assimilation. “Affirmative. Romulan culture is now endangered and must be preserved. You may control who does and does not enter your world. As a people you have as much right to freedom, peace and prosperity as any other.” He replied. “There are many who wouldn’t agree.” She pointed out. Plenty of people and indeed whole species had reason to hate the Romulans. Again Saveron shrugged. “This is not their system.” He said in turn. The decision had not been one made by the Federation as a whole – though they had condoned it. Since the planet with within Vulcan space, the act of gifting it had belonged to the High Council. Reparation for past wrongs perhaps? Or one step towards cultural assimilation, as Loran feared? “There are plenty of Vulcans who wouldn’t agree either.” She insisted. “Why did you champion our cause?” She asked suddenly, curious, turning to look at him. He gave her a long, thoughtful look from grey eyes. “Because I believe that all sentient life has the right to exist, to live and to grow, in accordance with it’s own mores and free from fear or persecution. Because one cannot hold an entire race accountable for the actions of a few of it’s members. Because, if the tables were turned, I would want the same to be done for us.” He told her honestly. It still didn’t make sense to Loran, raised in a militaristic society. “Don’t you worry that we could become a threat to you?” She asked as, in the near distance, the first refugee transport touched down on t’Khut soil at the edge of the settlement. Saveron stopped where they stood, not intending to enter the new settlement at this time. He wondered for a moment whether Loran's people would ever trust his, and whether they would ever be trusted in turn. However he refused to be drawn on any personal concerns. “We are protected by Federation treaty.” The Vulcan replied simply. “This world will prove challenging enough for you that you will not need to seek challenge beyond. It is not a kind world, but it is livable.” Much like t’Kashi itself. Lorna snorted and shook her head, took a few steps further then paused and looked around her, taking in the dusty hills, the pre-fabbed settlement and the first settlers disembarking. “I still don’t understand why you did it.” She called back. “There’s two thousand years of bad blood between our peoples. If the tables had been turned we would not have done the same!” Saveron regarded her solemnly for a moment, looked over at the new settlers and back again to Loran. “That is, perhaps, the greatest reason why we did.”
  22. Poke-a-'Mihn ::pokes::

  23. I've just noticed that a lot of thje Top Sims previous entries seem to have been moved to the Writing Challenges Hall of Fame by mistake. Perhaps one of our omnipotent overlords could move them to the correct Hall of Fame?
  24. I personally fail to see how marriage is the organisation's business, save in that hopefully they would post married couples together. Now if they were Federation Marriage Regulations, that might be different, and they would be a lot more open and allow for cultural variation, I think.
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