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Yalu

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Posts posted by Yalu

  1. @Meidra Sinir wrote this, and I thought it was outstanding.

    (( Prime ministerial offices, Vman – Da’al capital city ))

    Zeneth watched as the Prime Minister deftly spun his diplomatic web, inwardly rolling her eyes at his use of existential crisis. Always the showman, but was he really in tune with this new audience? StarFleet, from what she’d understood from her research, was not just humans, but many other species. What worked with one species might not be accepted by another. Still, she remained silent as her friend played the benevolent leader, only concerned with the safety of his people.

    It wasn’t that he didn’t care, of course, but the years in office had shaped him into someone who knew how to work a crowd. Sometimes, she wondered if he realized he was almost two different beings, one being a politician eager to keep his job, and the other, who she saw less and less of lately, the man she’d come to care for as a close friend and mentor. She frowned off camera, and listened to the conversation continue.

    Ypartin: =/\= Both the Federation and the Klingon Empire have attempted to establish closer relations with us, and you have both received the same answer.  Thank you, but no.  You have respected our wishes.  The Klingons are not. We wish for our neutrality to be respected. =/\=

    Nicholotti: =/\= Prime minister, I believe that we can work together to attain what you need, though I feel we could do more if we discussed a few things. Would a meeting in person be satisfactory? =/\=

    Zeneth saw that Ypartin’s skin had turned a deep maroon.  He was worried, and he was wondering how to keep the upper hand in a discussion he hadn’t had much time to prepare for; she felt a tinge of guilt at her part in that, but it was too late to reverse their course now.

    Ypartin: =/\= Fleet Captain, I am amenable to such a request.  However, please understand, we are not in the habit of welcoming many visitors.  It will take time to make the necessary arrangements for your arrival.  I would ask to contact you again on this frequency at the same time tomorrow. =/\=

    Nicholotti: =/\= Then we shall speak again shortly. Please reach out to us here. =/\=

    Ypartin: =/\= Thank you, Fleet Captain. =/\=

    Ypartin cut the transmission and gave Zeneth the full force of his glare.

    Ypartin:  What did I tell you, Zeneth?  How are we supposed to claim any kind of moral outrage about a Klingon invasion of our colonies, when I’ve just invited a Federation envoy to set foot on our homeworld?

    Zeneth:  It is hardly the same situation, Ypartin. I don’t see anyone from the Federation laying claim to our homeworld. If we are to survive, we must take risks. I for one, do not wish to risk our people’s lives without allies who understand these Klingons. 

    Ypartin stood up and adjusted his tunic, a nervous tic that came out when he was thinking too much on the things that he could not change. She wanted to reassure him, but what could she say that she hadn’t so far? She could see he was in Prime Minister mode now, and she would treat him as such.

    Ypartin:  We have one day to prepare for this, Zeneth, so we must move quickly.  I will address the people tonight.  Let them know what is happening.  I cannot keep them in the dark any longer.

    Zeneth:  Do you think they will understand? I know this was my idea, but the people have never had to face such a situation before. 

    Ypartin:  I know.  It is a tremendous risk.  But if we’re going to survive this intact, it’s time the people know that the enemy here is the Klingons, not the Federation.

    Zeneth:  I understand. What would you have me do, sir?

    Ypartin:  I am putting my trust in you, my friend.  Please see to the preparations.  Find a suitable, secure location in the city for us to meet with the Federation representatives.  Can you have everything in place by midday tomorrow?

    There was something going on, Zeneth was sure of it. That nervous tic of adjusting his clothes was a sure giveaway that he was up to something. She couldn’t accuse him of anything, but he had been too accepting of this visit by the Federation and she knew he valued his popularity above all else. It saddened her to think that she really did not know him anymore, but they had chosen their own paths since the election. 

    Zeneth:  Of course, the conference hall in Military Unit Three will be sufficient. My generals there are trustworthy, and have trained alongside me in martial arts not well known to the populace. We will be ready.

    Ypartin:  I know I am asking a lot, and I have every confidence in you.  ::beat:: I am certain you have plenty to do, and I have a speech to write.  Keep me informed.

    Zeneth made her way out of opulent office, down the hall and through the checkpoint, all the while thinking, planning, getting angrier as she realized that Ypartin was never going to just let the Federation come in and play the hero when he built himself up so carefully over the years. 

    (( Military Unit Three, Zeneth’s office, Vman – Da’al capital city ))

    A large man with dark purple skin and clear green eyes was waiting for her when she arrived. General Ulner had taught her as a child to fight in the ways of the Vinian elders, knowing that the religion was not followed by many. He had been her grandfather’s greatest friend and had been a stern teacher as she went through the twelve levels of Ha’shar, the Vinian’s fighting technique. Even Ypartin did not know she was a follower of Vinia, and today, she was very grateful for that. 

    Ulnar: You seem troubled. Is that upstart giving you grief again?

    Zeneth had told the general everything she knew about the Klingons coming closer, the Federation visit, her fears about Ypartin not believing that she could actually be an asset to their cause. He had, of course, offered to simply hang the man over the edge of his office window until he saw sense, but Zeneth had reminded him that was against the law. 

    Zeneth: Ypartin spoke with the captain of the StarFleet vessel. He said all the right things, but they felt wrong. I fear that he is thinking as a politician and not as a leader. 

    She started pacing, muttering prayers under her breath, it was not the same as actual meditation, but if she concentrated, she could still tap into the river of time as she had in her apartment, and try to see what was happening. She let her mind go back fifteen minutes, over the compound, past soldiers and farmers and people come to see the Prime Minister’s favor.

    Finally her mind focused on Ypartin after she had left him. She saw him watch her leave, she saw him put a chip into his terminal, she saw him - 

    Zeneth’s eyes flew open. He wouldn’t, he would not be so blind! She didn’t know who he had given that order to, but when she found out, as military advisor, she would be certain that one of her generals would be escorting him to the brig once this was over. And as for Ypartin, well, she would just have to wait and see what his plan was. Her heart constricted and she placed a hand below her ribcage, where it sat, betrayed and angry.

    Her eyes flew to her most trusted general and she shared her vision. The two of them made a pact of secrecy. They would not act until they had all of the facts, but one thing was clear. 

    Ypartin was no longer the friend she had sworn her allegiance to five years ago.

     

    End scene for Zeneth

     

    MSPNPC Zeneth

    Da'al Military Advisor

     

    as simmed by

     

    Ensign Meidra Sirin
    Counseling Officer
    USS Resolution
    Marie
    R239707MS0
    • Like 4
  2.  

    Quote

    R’Val: All of this is very good. But there is a reason for the desperation. Spies are spies because they operate in the shadows. When those shadows are exposed to the light, the spy becomes valueless. This person is being hunted and is most likely aware of that fact. It is going to make him or her dangerous, as Commander Thoran has said. 

    This was very good.

  3. My goodness, can @Randal Shayne ever capture the immediacy of a moment!

    Quote

     

    ::It seemed that Thoran consistently conjured the most appropriate questions, seemingly without great effort, and extremely quickly. He just had a knack for getting to the source of the troubles, after absorbing every bit of relevant information. He found himself wishing, for just a moment, that they might trade places. Shayne wasn’t proud of much, but his fierce pride in his work, and his commission, burned brightly at all times. That being said, the ship and crew came first. If someone was more suited to leading, let them. Besides, he didn’t think he could bare a mistake right now- not when the tension was so high.::

    ::A moment later, a rush of sickening disgust coursed through him. As much as he might not enjoy it right now, he was in command. How dare he even wish to absolve himself of that responsibility! It was an offense to the unceasing effort it had taken him to reach this point, professionally and psychologically. It was also a breach of trust on the highest order. Right now, as far as he knew, his subordinates trusted him with leadership- not something to ever take lightly. Would he repay their faith by capitulating to his doubts and frustration? Not while he still had a pulse.::

    Shayne: oO Now I understand why it’s called taking command. Oo

     

     

    • Like 2
  4. @Anath G'Renn wrote this.

     

    ((Duty Doctor’s Office - Deck 18, USS Blackwell))

     

    ::Sleepwalking would be the best way to describe Anath the entire day of the memorial service for the lost members of the Blackwell crew who had been lost when the ship had run into that minefield. It was strange, every time she thought that her feelings of grief and anger couldn’t get any worse they always managed to.::

     

    ::When the disaster first happened there was so much raw fury and grief mixed in with the fear and confusion of being caught in the moment, fueled by adrenaline and anxiety. It couldn’t get worse than that. Then came the aftermath and the autopsies. Those hazy memories clouded by stress and a storm of feelings almost felt like one long and very dark nightmare. Having to perform the gruesome task of verifying just how each one had died hit home how very real everything had been. The barely contained despair, the flashes of anger whenever her thoughts turned towards those responsible. It couldn’t get worse than that. Then there was their shore leave on Oscion, a time for relaxation and time with friends. But in the back of her mind she kept remembering the names on the casualty list, whenever she was finding herself enjoying their shore leave. She always drifted back to the people who would have no more shore leaves, and no more missions either. No matter what she did she couldn’t escape that nagging feeling. It couldn’t get worse than that.::

     

    Nurse: Doctor G’Renn, it is time for shift change! The rest of us are going to the memorial service.

     

    ::She looked up from her desk, pulled back into the present from her world of introspection by the nurse’s voice. Anath nodded quietly and motioned for the sickbay staff to switch out with their replacements. She had tried to build the schedule that day to allow as many people as possible could have the option to attend the memorial service. The massive sickbay felt somewhat off with a meager skeleton crew on watch as was always often the case during shore leave.::

     

    Nurse: Will you be joining us, doctor?

     

    G’Renn: Go ahead, I’ll catch up with you…

     

    ::Anath handed over the reigns to sickbay to the next doctor on duty before hanging up her lab coat and heading towards the turbolift. As she walked, memories of one of the autopsies played back in her mind.::

     

     

    ((Flashback - USS Blackwell, Morgue - Two days after the minefield encounter))

     

    ::Anath keyed a sequence of commands into the wall panel, causing the morgue cold chamber to seal back shut. She had just finished the formal set of scans and tests that protocol dictated were done to confirm what she already knew. Ensign Kalto had died of multiple internal injuries caused by a piece of ceiling falling on her. Anath knew very well what had happened as she had been the one to drag the debris off of the ensign and have her moved to sickbay.::

     

    Nurse: Subject scans are being uploaded to the file now. Autopsy report just needs you to sign off on it.

     

    G’Renn: Thank you for your help, I’ll handle it from here.

     

    ::After the nurse left Anath approached the desk where the autopsy report was open on a desktop monitor. She scrolled through the report to make sure they hadn’t missed anything or filled in any information incorrectly.::

     

    G’Renn: Everything seems right…

     

    ::But it wasn’t. Nothing about the situation she was in was right! The autopsy report was filled out correctly and it was not an unusual situation for a doctor to find themselves in, but the whole encounter with the minefield and the alien ships were just all wrong. The damage to the ship, the destruction of the other alien vessel, and the deaths of her crewmates. What for, what meaning did their losses have? Starfleet officers knew the risks of their chosen profession well. The threat of death was omnipresent when exploring the final frontier and defending the Federation from threats. But there was no heroic death or even a meaningful sacrifice for the crewmembers that now occupied the cold chambers in the morgue. Just casualties lost in a tragic accident all caused by some coward’s minefield.::

     

    G’Renn: Computer, confirming details for autopsy report Kalto, Alyssa. Authorization G’Renn Omega 4-5.

     

    ::The computer beeped to confirm that it had saved the autopsy report. She sighed and sunk deeper into the chair before glancing around the morgue. There were still autopsies to be done, too many. She never wanted to see the room so full ever again if she could help it.::

     

    ((End Flashback))

     

    ((Corridor - Deck 18, USS Blackwell))

     

    G’Renn: oO Yes, her too! Oo

     

    ::When an inquisitive child had asked whether or not their substitute teacher was going to be saved as well that had been her answer. Ensign Kalto had not been dead upon discovery. She was still fighting for life when they found her under a piece of ceiling in the schoolroom. But even getting there in time hadn’t been enough to save her. Anath had promised that she would be safe too, and now she was dead. Names and faces came to mind as she walked down the corridor.::

     

    G’Renn: oO Alyssa Kalto. Ensign. Found in the schoolroom. Oo

     

    G’Renn: oO Nigel Buchanan. Ensign. Found in his quarters Oo

     

    G’Renn: oO Robert Smith. Petty Officer, 3rd Class. Found in the gymnasium. Oo

     

    ::The fire of feelings spread through her, boiling away any sense of tranquility and order in her mind left as she stepped into the turbolift. She couldn’t face it! Growing up on Vulcan had made it hard to find ways to express her emotions, and it was coming back to haunt her now especially. She couldn’t take it, or let the others see her in such a state.::

     

    G’Renn: Deck 12

     

     

    ((G’Renn’s Quarters - Deck 12, USS Blackwell))

     

    ::Once she was in her quarters she stepped into the small bedroom off of the common area in her quarters and let out a long sigh. She pulled off her uniform jacket and the teal shirt beneath it, untucking her gray undershirt before falling onto the bed and letting out a long sigh. The grief was driving her up the wall, and she felt powerless to stop it. Only making things worse was the realization of how poorly prepared she was revealing herself to be.::

     

    ::The uniform shirt now laying on the foot of the bed was teal. The color of the Science department in Starfleet, as well as the Medical department. She was a doctor, first and foremost! While she might like to focus on the good she did, having studied medicine to keep as many people as possible from experiencing the same experience of a loved one’s death that she had gone through so many years before. She always assumed that she could handle the inevitable times when she would lose patients. It wasn’t her fault, she had done everything that she could to save them. But that thought did little to calm the whirlwind of emotions inside. Part of her wondered if she really had what it took to be a doctor at all if she couldn’t deal with the inevitable downside of being a healer. Questions kept popping up as Anath set her head on her pillow and let the exhaustion win. Could she truly expect to never lose a patient? How was she going to cope when she did? If she couldn’t handle that fact, did she have any business wearing that uniform?::

     

    ::Those were questions she had to answer, but she didn’t have to answer them right away.::

     

     

    Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Anath G'Renn

    Medical Officer, USS Blackwell - Andaris Task Force

    A239402AG0

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  5. ((DS26, Level 4, Conference Room 1))
     
    ::Ren snored loudly from his seat at the conference table, supremely unaware of the presence of his hard-working crewmates in the room. He was completely at ease, snuggled onto a captain he barely knew, his mouth hanging open carelessly, all the better to drool from.::
     
    ((Ren’s Dream))
     
    ::Arnmere was shining a little brighter than usual in this dream, this vision, this radiant, vivid experience.::
     
    ::Ren strode across a field, headed home to the house he and Navin had built for themselves, far across the opposite side of Tro’Arn. It was a happy place, because it had cheerful rooms and bright, airy windows, but most of all because they were there together. No matter the day, Navin and Ren always came home to each other.::
     
    ::As Ren came in the front door and kicked off his boots, a voice he loved called out from upstairs, and made his heart squirm pleasantly.::
     
    Navin: Ren! How was work? Did you pick up dinner?
     
    ::Ren squirmed in a different way. He had not remembered to pick up dinner, and this was the week the replicator was out for repair.::
     
    Rennyn: Uhhhh…..
     
    ::Ren’s conversational contribution faded out as Navin came into view, making his way down the stairs. The breath went out of Ren, and his lips curled up in a smile. It was like a conditioned response with him. The sight of his husband never failed to make Ren smile. Navin was impossibly handsome, and the smile he gave in return lit up the room. Dark-skinned, strong-jawed and kind-eyed, he’d captured Ren’s attention at first sight, and Ren hadn’t wanted to look away since. Even when he was in trouble.::
     
    Navin: Dinner, sweetie? Don’t tell me we have to walk all the way back to the village.
     
    ::Ren’s smile disappeared, replaced with a falsely casual posture and a poorly masked look of stress as he tried to think his way out of this quickly.::
     
    Rennyn: Well… We could walk part way there and use my mom’s replicator?
     
    ::Navin finished his descent and came to plant a kiss on his husband, despite the irritation Ren caused him. Navin stood an inch taller, the only man who could make the very tall Ren feel sort of safe and protected.::
     
    Navin: Is that what you want to do? You want to make us have dinner with your mom? I mean, I like your mom a whole lot, but we live on this side of the field for a reason. So that’s what you want? You want to make us have dinner with your mom right now?
     
    ::Ren gulped. Was it a trick question?::
     
    Rennyn: I don’t… ::He reached for the right word.:: ...know?
     
    Navin: I need a definite answer, Ren.
     
    ::It was a little teasing, but a little serious. Ren had this answer in the bag.::
     
    Rennyn: I am definitely not sure.
     
    ::This was the life. This was the dream. Together, for the rest of their lives. Relying on each other, leaning on each other, being there through thick and thin. People weren’t meant to be alone. Ren wasn’t. He was so happy to have found Navin. There was no one better for him. Even their little spat was a comfort. It let Ren know they were in it together.::
     
    Navin: You are always just all about any excuse to hang with your mom, aren’t you?
     
    ::Ren feigned shock.::
     
    Rennyn: I never!
     
    Navin: Ohhh, yes you do.
     
    ::The scolding banter came with a hug, so Ren was okay with it. This was just the way things should be. Like they always were. Like they always would be. He leaned his head on Navin’s shoulder.::
     
    Rennyn: I’m in trouble, aren’t I?
     
    Navin: You’re not in the doghouse yet, but we can say you’re not exactly allowed up on the furniture.
     
    ::Ren chuckled softly, and leaned in tighter. He would fix it. He would make the walk himself. He would fire up the old hovercraft if he needed to. Dinner was a very minor hurdle. They’d faced bigger, and there was no hurdle big or small they couldn’t handle together.::
     
    ::Ren didn’t want to let go. He could search the universe over and never find a man like this again. This was how it always was with them. This was just how it always would be.::
     
    ::At the same time, it wasn’t. It began to dawn on Ren, a creeping feeling at first, then real knowledge of another life he’d lived, one without Navin in it. A life where Ren was almost lost to grief. A life where he joined Starfleet, made wonderful friends, had crazy adventures, and never could explain to anyone just what it was that was missing from his life. The man standing before him right now. The love of his life. Ren pulled away, stepped back in shock, and his face fell in horror.::
     
    Rennyn: You’re not real.
     
    ::That was the tragic answer. This perfect world only existed in a dream. Ren whipped around, searching for that pesky rascal Arnom. Ren’s symbiont guide to the afterlife was nowhere to be found, but the Trill man’s eyes landed on something else. A spot of that brightness, and another gate, different from the first, an ornate solid gold thing that belonged to a faraway fairytale palace. But it was just as final, just as insistent as the first. Ren knew he had to leave.::
     
    ::Navin grabbed Ren’s arm, pulled him back, and held him, wrapping him in a hold Ren didn’t want to break.::
     
    Navin: You don’t have to go. You could stay here. We could have our happy ending.
     
    ::Something in that closeness almost made Ren stay. It was a scary world out there without Navin. Ren often felt alone. In moments of triumph, he couldn’t share his success with the person he wanted to. In moments of sadness, he couldn’t lay his pain on the one who would understand it best. Most of all, it was hard to make friends and new relationships, and be known as only Ren, and not as half of Ren and Navin. That was the hardest part of loss. Ren was the only one who knew what the relationship had meant, who could see who he was as part of the pair. No one else would ever see him that way, and there was no way to explain it to them. You didn’t just lose the person you loved, you also lost a part of your own identity, and as each new adventure brought you new memories and introduced new people into your life, you only moved farther away from the person you once wanted to be. Ren was a very different man than he would have been with Navin in his life, and he was never sure if he could be his best self on his own.::
     
    ::Ren wanted Navin back so he could be himself again, but a dream of Navin just wouldn’t cut it. Ren had made a decision in Arnmere, to let Navin go, despite the lingering questions about his supposed death at the hands of the Borg. It was time to move forward with finding out who Ren Rennyn could be on his own. Caught in the dream of an embrace, Ren forced himself to follow through on that decision. Even though it wasn’t easy to let go.::
     
    Rennyn: I’m sorry. I wanted to say that for a long time, but I couldn’t, because you were gone. The last thing I said to you was that I was mad at you for leaving on your mission, and that wasn’t fair. And I know we would have made up and it would have been something we didn’t even remember happened. But then the Borg happened. And it became the last thing I ever said to you. And I’m so sorry I sent you off that way.
     
    ::He clung to Navin one last time, knowing it wasn’t the real Navin, but grateful that he got to look into those eyes and finally say what he’d always wanted to say. It would help him move on. Tenderly, Navin pulled tighter, planted a kiss on Ren’s cheek, then rested his forehead on Ren’s own.::
     
    Navin: Whatever comes, I’ll always wish we could have faced it together. But I know you can face it on your own.
     
    ::The strangely linear dream at last had mercy, and Ren found himself standing at the gold gate, 100 meters from the house and Navin. Through tear-drenched eyes, he looked back on what might have been, as brightly lit clouds rolled in across Arnmere.::
     
    ::Ren half expected Navin to turn into a Borg, and flip this dream into a nightmare. That didn’t happen. Navin waved from the door until the clouds drifted in across him, obscuring him from view. Their happy ending was lost in the mists of a dream, just exactly how it always felt in Ren’s heart.::
     
    ::He was wearing boots again, and they felt like led. Ren forced his feet to obey. Through the gold gate he marched, and hoped he would awake from this nonsense soon.::
     
     
    TBC
     
    LtCmdr Ren Rennyn
    First Officer
    USS Blackwell, Andaris Task Force

    A239102RR0

    • Like 2
  6. ((Deck 7, Shayne and Pond's Quarters, USS Darwin-A))
     
    ::Shayne wished he was knitting.::
     
    ::It was a peaceful, productive, time consuming activity that offered a level relaxation could sometimes border on catatonic meditation. As one became more practiced and skilled, new projects and more difficult goals could be sought and completed. One's dexterity might also improve with prolonged execution of the art form, and, when all was said and done, everyone enjoyed receiving a fuzzy sweater from a loved one or friend.::
     
    ::And apart from all these wonderful benefits, the act of knitting had one very important feature; unless you screwed up, the quality and size of a project is directly proportional to the work and time put into it. You could earn progress. The more you worked, the more you achieved. If only every activity in the universe could be that fair.::
     
    ::But, of course, there were a multitude of exceptions, and as Shayne glowered at the computer terminal before him, he rued this fact. After all, he'd been sitting there for nearly an hour, straining to think of something to say, and what had he to show for his valiant effort? An empty data packet, a bad mood, and a pulsing headache.::
     
    ::How could it be this difficult to send a simple communiqué to someone? He wasn't informing a family about a death, or anything like that. For god's sake, all he wanted to do was talk to family. How long had it been? A year? Longer?::
     
    Shayne: Computer, start recording.
     
    ::Beep. It was as if the computer were saying, you're on.::
     
    Shayne: Hi, Dad. It's been awhile. I, uh...I hope you're doing okay. I'm sorry I haven't contacted you for so long- things have been pretty intense out here. ::Growling in frustration.:: No, no, that's terrible. Computer, pause. Delete that last sentence. 
     
    ::Dad wouldn't want to be reminded of the fact that he was not in the service anymore, or that his eldest was stationed in the line of fire of a hundred different alien threats. Shayne knew that his father's love for him conflicted with his desire to keep the young helmsman out of harm's way. The contradiction put a constant strain on the retired admiral, and Shayne was loathe to add to that worry any more than absolutely necessary.::
     
    Shayne: Computer, continue.
     
    ::Beep.::
     
    Shayne: The Delta Quadrant has held some...interesting surprises.
     
    ::Perfect. It was simple, informative without suggesting that most of the interesting surprises in particular were dangerous and even life threatening. The second thing that his father had ever taught him, long before he'd been indoctrinated into the Academy, was that honesty was paramount, and the truth was far too important a thing to be omitted or tampered with.::
     
    Shayne: I just came back from a bit of an explore inside the Dyson Sphere I'm stationed near. You should've seen it. I've seen some weird stuff in my time, but few things compared to this. Holographic technology beyond anything anyone's ever seen! 

    ::Pointedly omitting the more dangerous aspects of the last mission, and the one before it (and the one before that...), he moved on.::
     
    Shayne: I'm, uh... I'm with someone. ::Here he smiled.:: Name's Isabel. A Trill doctor serving on the same ship as me. It's... pretty serious. ::Smiling awkwardly.:: We've moved in together. Yeah. She's wonderful. Kind and compassionate. A hell of a medical officer, and a talented dancer to boot. I'm beyond lucky to have her. Next time we're within distance of Earth, I have to introduce y'all. 

    ::He pinched the bridge of his nose. What else did he have to say? So, so much. What was he going to say? Not much else. He'd wanted to, perhaps without even realizing it. So much he wanted to confront, to get off his chest.::
     
    ::There is a certain point that a person reaches, where they have subjected themselves to so much self-ridicule and hatred and disgust, that they're mind becomes accustomed to it. From then on, each reminder of the reason for that hatred does not illicit a feeling. Rather, it manifests itself as a shape, a sound, a color. It passes through the back of your mind like an unholy shade traversing a graveyard. All the memories and feelings associated with it wrapped up into one dreaded totem.::

    ::Now that shade passed behind his eyes. Grey and lingering, it obscured his thoughts and tainted his joy. Dad, he knew, forgave him his trespass. Mom did, as well. And Zach, ironically, was perhaps the most eager to forgive, the most willing. In fact, the only person in the universe that seemed to be unwilling to forgive was himself. This was why he didn't want to contact his father, or anyone who knew. Out here in the wilderness of unexplored space, he could run, and hide, and forget. By contacting his family, he was awakening those memories, those not-quite-feelings. And that was something that had to be avoided.:: 
     
    Shayne: I'll talk to you...

    Shayne: oO When? Oo
     
    Shayne: Sometime. Love to you and....everyone. Be safe.
     
    ::With that, Shayne ended the message, and transmitted it to the Endeavor, which would carry it to the Alpha Quadrant. He hesitated before hitting the send command, but only for a moment. It would be good to catch up with family, he told himself. Very good.::
     
    END
     
    Lieutenant Randal Shayne
    Helmsman
    USS Darwin
    NCC 99312-A
    G239202RS0
    • Like 1
  7. ((Corridor, Deck 6 - USS Darwin-A))
     
    ::The clouds were following him.::
     
    ::They seemed to snake their metaphorical, wispy ways just behind Shayne’s striding body. He paid them no more mind than he had in the holodeck. Of course, passersby would be unable to see them. They existed purely as a figure of his imagination.::
     
    ::But he’d always had an overactive imagination.:: 
     
    ::Somewhere, long ago, he’d heard that when an angry, panicked, or trapped individual ever becomes calm and controlled suddenly, under their own volition, that individual was more dangerous than ever before. They will have accepted their fate, and come what may, they are prepared for desperate actions.::
     
    ::And Shayne was so... very...calm.:: 
     
    ::He was going to walk into that man’s quarters. And he was going to tell Traenor what he felt. There would be no stopping him.:
     
    ::He finally arrived in front of the door, and without any hesitation, he pressed the doorbell.::
     
    ((Inside Traenor’s Quarters, Deck 6 - USS Darwin-A))
     
    ::Maxwell was sitting at his piano in casual clothes, idly picking away at a tune that he could not resolve in his head. He had been at it for an hour with no success, but the rote activity was soothing all the same. Barque was lying contentedly on the couch napping, happy to have the quiet companionship of his master, but he perked up at the sound of the chime with a quiet woof. Not expecting the summons at the door, Maxwell took a moment to assure his beagle before calling out an acceptance.::
     
    Traenor: Come in?
     
    ::Shayne walked in a few feet, stopped, and stood at ease, hands clasped behind his back. He was going to tell the First Officer exactly what was going through his head. But he was going to do it by the book. It would do no good to loose his career over this. He couldn’t bear that.::
     
    Shayne: Sir. 
     
    ::Randal was the last person that Maxwell had been expecting to see, and yet all the same he knew that a meeting like this would have to occur eventually. He had not exactly been avoiding the helmsman, but neither had he gone out of his way to seek him out. The events of the past mission still played large in his head, and the eventual results of that mission had led to Maxwell to be uncomfortable with how Randal would react to him and his part in it. Subtle cues from Shayne’s stance and demeanor informed him that this was likely not to be a friendly social call.::
     
    Traenor: ::forced geniality:: Mr Shayne, a pleasure! What brings you by today?
     
    Shayne: ::Keeping his smile friendly, instead of allowing it to turn into a snarl.:: I was wondering if I might have a word with you, sir. ::Leaning forward slightly.:: May I have permission to...speak freely?
     
    ::Barque let out an almost inaudible, low growl. Shocked by the uncharacteristic behavior, Maxwell shooed Barque into the sleeping chamber and closed the door, before offering Randal a seat at the small table in the main room. He made his way to the replicator.::
     
    Traenor: Of course. Please, have a seat, can I get you anything?
     
    Shayne: Oh, no thank you sir. That won’t be necessary.
     
    ::Now his voice was beginning to exhibit some of the cold fury that had run through his veins for weeks. They were cold words. But he wasn’t even getting started yet. He sat, slowly, as if his entire body were made of warped, creaking metal, never taking his eyes off the First Officer.::
     
    ::Taking calm, measured actions, Maxwell summoned a Bajoran coffee for himself and sat down at the table himself. He made sure to keep his posture and expression open and inviting, in contrast to the nerves and apprehension he felt ruminating within.::
     
    Traenor: ::earnestly:: What’s on your mind, Mr Shayne?
     
    Shayne: Oh, the usual tribulations of life. I was just wondering...how you were feeling after the...mission.
     
    ::The question was not asked in a concerned fashion. No, it was clear that there were fangs behind it. Frankly, Shayne couldn’t give two [...]s what Traenor was feeling at that moment. His anger was starting to boil, and pretty much anything Traenor said would likely feed the fires of his ire.::
     
    Traenor: It has caused me a lot of introspection. It was a difficult mission for all of us.
     
    Shayne: oO Introspection, huh? How’s this for “introspection”? Oo
     
    Shayne: ::Still keeping a perfectly neutral smile on his face.:: Oh, yes, quite difficult. It’s a miracle we all came back...isn’t it?
     
    ::Maxwell wondered how Randal would react if he knew the large role his doppelganger played in his dreams, the vicious, snarling shell of a caricature that loomed large in the nightmares that deprived him of quality sleep. Still working through the portent of the images with counselor Stennes, Traenor had no idea if would be helpful or harmful to himself or to Shayne if the truth of those dreams were revealed to him.::
     
    Traenor: ::trying to stay neutral, professional:: The results of the mission were less than ideal. I find solace that all of our team came back relatively unscathed.
     
    Shayne: “All of our team”, hmm? ::Feigning confusion.:: That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, sir. It seems, and I may be incorrect, that not all the team came back. Is it possible that we left a member of our team down there to be obliterated? I remember her quite vividly. 
     
    ::Had Randal reached across the table and slapped him, Maxwell couldn’t have been more caught off guard. Cutting straight to the quick, Shayne had laid bare the root cause of all his own fears and consternations. Vivid images from his dreams flooded forth, paralyzing him with indecision and regret. The hand holding his coffee cup started to shake, from what overload of emotion he was not yet quite sure, and he placed it back on the table with a bit of a clatter.::
     
    Traenor: That was… unfortunate, Randal. I didn’t want to condemn her to death, but circumstances at the time were out of our hands.
     
    Shayne:”Unfortunate”? No, no, sir, losing a game of Parrisses Squares is “unfortunate.” What happened down there was murder. Do you DENY IT!?!?
     
    ::He’d finally begun to lose his calm. Seething, white hot fury, resonating from his heart, spread to every tendril of his being and threatened to detonate in a fiery explosion of hatred. It was both liberating and sickening. So this was rage. He’d never understood why people got so violent when angry. Now he understood. Perfectly.:: 
     
    ::A muffled sharp barking emanated from the bedroom. The scent of coffee was overpowering and nauseating. The pulsating sound of the warp engine bore down on his eardrums like a painful percussion. Every slight impetus was enhanced and was contributing to a sensory overload. Head pounding in concert with his racing pulse, Maxwell stared mutely for a long moment at Randal as one word echoed over and over, as it so often did in his recent nightmares... Murder. Murder. Murder.::
     
    Traenor: ::quietly:: That’s taking things a little too far, Lieutenant -
     
    Shayne: Really? Really!? We could have saved her! You know that! Don’t deny it! It’s our job! We’ve sworn to preserve life, in whatever form it takes- whether it has skin, feathers, scales, or Borg implants. You...we were wrong! She’s dead because of us! 
     
    ::The all-consuming fire of Randal’s white-hot rage was spreading, and despite his feeble efforts to resist, Maxwell was being consumed in the conflagration. Face contorting into a matching scowl, he lashed out with his own harsh words.::
     
    Traenor: You think I don’t know that, Randal?! You think I don’t see her face every time I close my eyes, knowing that I let her die? You at least have the comfort of being absolved of responsibility. You were overruled. I don’t get that luxury!
     
    ::Chest heaving with gulping breaths that would not draw enough oxygen to keep his vision from swimming, Maxwell regretted his loss of control immediately. He was a senior officer, dammit! He needed to be the one to keep control, to keep his emotions in check. But, exhaustion and - yes, the truth - overwhelmed his professional sensibilities. With sleep deprivation etching deep lines of regret on his face, he sat back spent, sorry anew for all he had inflicted on Randal. The barking in the other room had given way to howling, but Maxwell was so invested in seeing his dreams writ large on the officer before him that he could barely acknowledge it.::
     
    ::Shayne was still embroiled in his own emotions, but something small and potent penetrated his field of rage. Traenor was feeling it too. And he was the one in command at the time, a burden that Shayne did not envy, one that he could barely imagine. It wasn’t enough to end his tantrum, but it did bring it down ever so slightly. The pressures of command were astonishing. Anyone could make a mistake.::
     
    Shayne: oO And he sees her face, too. Oo
     
    ::Her face had been practically all that he could see for weeks. Nothing was sweet anymore, nothing hopeful or friendly. Even the joy of being with Isabel was tainted with the knowledge of what had happened.::
     
    Traenor: ::simply:: This is the point where I am supposed to spout the vapid platitudes that have absolutely no meaning and no comfort. “The greater good.” “The responsibility to the crew and the ship.” “Weighing risk versus reward.” But I insulted you with those already, in the heat of the action, and you deserve better than that. I bitterly regret my decision, and it haunts me continually. I feel your pain, and I want to legitimize it and acknowledge it for you.
     
    ::Now it is was Shayne’s turn to be surprised. Traenor recognized the the futility of trying to appease Shayne by talking about the usual things. Furthermore, it seemed like he wanted to apologize to Shayne. He said that the helmsman deserved more- hardly the response Shayne was expecting. Was he expecting anything? No, not when he came into the room. Not when this conversation began. He just wanted- needed- to vent. To lambast. But Traenor was a human, too, most likely a better one than Shayne would ever be.:: 
     
    Shayne: ::Not trying to rub it in his face.:: I think we’re all going to regret the choices each of us made on that day, not just you.
     
    Traenor: I can’t take back my decisions. What’s done is done. And I won’t insult your intelligence and lie to you, and tell you that this type of situation will never occur again. Hindsight is a luxury that officers never have the benefit of in the heat of the moment. But that doesn’t mean that we aren’t human, and that regret isn’t the burden we bear for those actions. Own your regret, be angry at me. You deserve it. But, don’t think me an unfeeling monster. There’s enough regret for everyone.
     
    ::He was still angry enough to fracture transparent aluminum. But...if anyone understood regret, in all its sickening grandeur, it was Shayne. Traenor’s words were so...familiar. They echoed what he’d wanted to say so many times over, regarding his own various regrets. The man wasn’t looking for the easy way out, he wasn’t begging forgiveness- not, at least, that Shayne could tell. He was owning it. He was taking responsibility. And while Shayne still found his actions repulsive, Traenor’s words struck a most potent chord. Almost at once, his burning hatred left his body, and he found himself utterly exhausted. He slumped into the chair. Traenor’s pain was something he was intimately familiar with; the desire to be forgiven, but refusing forgiveness. It was a dangerous slope. And while the helmsman didn’t doubt that Traenor had his fair share of regrets over the years, he might not have the same experience as Shayne. Shayne knew he wanted forgiveness, and he knew that he could never truly have it until he forgive himself. Perhaps that was what he’d need to do; help Traenor to forgive himself. He only wished someone would’ve told him that long before. It would be a long time still before Shayne truly forgave himself. Maybe he could spare Traenor from the same fate.:: 
     
    Shayne: I still can’t agree with you.
     
    ::Maxwell would have dearly cherished absolution from Shayne, but he was not so naive to think that it would be so easily earned. Besides, what reason would Shayne have to grant him what he could not even grant himself? It tore him up inside to think that any other of the crew… his friends… burdened themselves with additional baggage that was not theirs to carry by right. He would be content to allow Shayne to rail at him for hours, days, weeks even, as long as it gave him an outlet to shed some of the pain from actions and decisions that had gone awry. Maxwell would have to come to terms with the situation through his own means, and the expert ministrations of Didrik, but in the meantime this cathartic confrontation stood on its own merits.::
     
    Shayne: ::Very, very quietly, almost as if he was selling his soul.:: But I understand. 
     
    Traenor: I… don’t know if there’s anything more I can add at this time, other than my sincere apologies for causing you such grief. A hollow sentiment, I’m sure, but I extend it all the same.
     
    Shayne: ::Surprised at his own words.:: Then let me make a, perhaps equally, hollow sentiment. Somehow, sometime, not now, not soon, but sometime, forgive yourself. Only then can you live without weight wrapped round your soul.
     
    ::Feeling that both men had spent their destructive energy and were, if not at peace, then at least at an uneasy truce over their emotions, Maxwell rose wearily and moved next to the door, signalling an intent to bring this confrontation to a closure… for now. He would make himself available to Randal any time the helmsman needed someone to vent to, and he would respect the sanctity of the honest right to speak freely, and never hold the man’s strong words against him.::
     
    Traenor: This doesn’t have to end here. Anytime you need to revisit this, I’ll be here.
     
    ::Shayne stood heavily, and slowly made his way to the door. It opened as he approached, but he stopped, and, hesitatingly, he turned to the First Officer, exhaustion, sadness, and a hundred other sensations apparent in his eyes. Then, without a word, he began to to extend his arm, obviously thinking of shaking Traenor’s hand. But he found that he couldn’t. There were no words, and no gestures that would sufficiently express what he (or Traenor) was feeling. Letting his arm drop to his side, he left Traenor’s quarters, seeking the solitude of his own, if only for a little while. The world looked a little different now.:: 
     
    LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor - First Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A
    A239111MT0
     
    and
     
    Lt Randal Shayne - Helmsman, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A
    G239202RS0 
  8. ((Deep Space 6, Level 21, Function Room A1))

    ::Varaan entered the multi-function room, which was decorated in an extravagant manner, to say the least. The last time Varaan had attended a formal gathering of crew like this, had been less than a year ago on Deep Space 26. It had been a combination of promotion ceremony for the crew of the USS Atlantis, and a "fun" get-together for the crew after the completion of the Outpost Bravo mission. It had also resulted in a terrorist attack on the station which trapped the crew and threatened thousands of innocent lives, and Captain Raj Blueheart had been kidnapped in order to brainwash him and implicate him in the assassination of some politician or diplomat within the Par'tha Expanse. Fortunately both plots were foiled. But, needless to say, Varaan did not have fond memories of the event. Couple that with the fact that Varaan was never an individual to enjoy a social gathering, and Varaan had serious reservations about attending tonight.::

    ::Plus, his tuxedo was riding up.::

    ::Captain Renos of the Darwin had announced that this get together would be as a masquerade ball. Varaan had to do a little research into the subject. It seemed that his uniform, even his dress whites, would not be sufficient attire to attend this function. He could have donned his ceremonial Vulcan robes, but seeing as this was following an ancient Terran tradition, he had opted for more traditional Terran garb. Now, he was thinking that maybe he had made the incorrect choice. Hoping no one would notice, he carefully positioned his back towards an wall devoid of onlookers, and used his left hand to attend to removing part of his undergarments from near an orifice where they did not belong. He was successful. Again. This was not the first time, and the Vulcan was sure it would not be the last tonight.::

    ::In addition to the traditional black tuxedo, he had also chosen a very simple mask that only covered his brow and eyes, and the bridge of his nose. Half was silver metallic and the other half was electric-blue metallic, but the entire piece was covered with inlaid scroll-work. It was simple, yet elegant. Conservative, as would be the Vulcan way, but serving the proper function of attempting to his identity. Of course, his pointed ears would give him away.::

    Renos: Mister Varaan? So nice to see you here, how are you doing?

    ::How very quickly had his ears given him away. Of course, Varaan was not ashamed of his ears. Conversely, he was not proud of them, either. They were simply...ears. They served a purpose and a function. Tonight, that function was to bring himself to the attention of the Darwin's captain. They had met briefly before, and not officially. They had both been on Away Teams sent to rescue Talaxian survivors of a doomed mission on a Dyson Shell. During the intervening time, when both the Darwin and the Triumphant were delivering the Talaxians to their world, and then returning to Deep Space 6, there had been some inter-ship movement and much communication, but there had never been an actual opportunity for Varaan to meet his new captain. Until now. Luckily, he was Vulcan. There was no anxiety about meeting your commanding officer for the first time. However, Varaan did feel a tad uncomfortable. His trousers were riding up again.::

    Varaan: I am well, Captain Renos.

    Renos: How did you find your time on the Triumphant?

    ::Often Varaan's first-impulse answers were very literal. His old friend Torin Jamar, who had really been Varaan's coach towards understanding humanity, said that Varaan should skip his first impulse. Most people did not say what they meant, or mean what they said. Granted, Captain Renos was J'naii, and not human. But far too many sentient species operated under the same principles. Vulcans were direct and to the point. Why couldn't other species be the same? Renos was most likely making small talk. But Varaan had always had trouble with idle conversation in the past. A waste of time and energy.::

    Varaan: Satisfactory.

    Renos: I've heard good things about how the crew performed and am delighted to welcome you aboard the Darwin. I hope your time here will be ::pause:: ...productive.

    Varaan: Well said, captain.

    Renos: Will you join me for a dance?

    ::Varaan had expected this question to come up at some point during the ball. Not necessarily from his commanding officer, but one generally did not attend a ball to stand around and make small talk. The entire purpose of a "ball" was dancing. Vulcan dancing was unlike anything he had seen from other cultures. Certainly nothing that would be appropriate for a Terran-based masquerade ball. Varaan's first thought had been to decline if someone inquired. However, thinking about his purpose for actually attending the get together, that answer would have been counter-productive.::

    ::So Varaan had decided early on to study the types of dancing that would be appropriate for a ball. Waltzes he had tried, and could handle the steps easily. After all, they were a basic mathematical formula. Tangoes and flamencos were another story, as they required an injection of "passion." That was not something that Varaan was prepared to provide. Luckily for Varaan, the musicians had just started a waltz.::

    Varaan: I only learned how to dance 23.7 hours, so I am not an expert. But I accept your invitation.

    ::From what Varaan knew of the J'naii, they were neither masculine nor feminine. So was Varaan to lead, or would the captain? Judging from the dress Renos was wearing, ne had chosen a slightly feminine tilt to his evening, so logically Varaan would lead. But Renos was the captain...how would ne feel about someone else usurping nir authority, even unofficially? Varaan decided to go with the higher probability, and extended the crook of his elbow for Renos to take, as per tradition.::

    ::The two walked out onto the ballroom floor, Varaan very aware of the eyes watching all around. Watching, but not judging. That was an important social advancement that the Federation had over many of the cultures they had encountered. Individuals were free to be themselves, and did not have to conform to society's precepts. As long as no laws were broken. Varaan knew that the J'naii culture was a unique one to the Federation, being a genderless society. The Laudeans were also unique, in that they had three genders. Varaan was aware that at least a smattering of the Darwin's crew were from Duronis II, as well.::

    ::Varaan stopped in the center of the floor and assumed the proper position for the lead dancer, allowing the captain to assume the more submissive position, should that be what ne wanted. If not, Varaan was sure that Renos would let him know. Varaan could take correction...he had no ego to bruise. While the captain and he began to move to the music, Varaan continued to wonder at the J'naii culture. Now, while dancing, he had a J'naii specimen 'captive.' Their conversation would not be interrupted. Varaan popped the question.::

    Varaan: Captain, your species is unique. May I inquire as to the level of difficulty for a genderless J'naii to integrate into a gendered social construct, such as the Federation? I know that you may only be speaking from your own perspective, but the sociological implications are intriguing.

    ---------------------------

    Lt. Varaan

    Engineering Officer

    USS Darwin-A, NCC-99312-A

    Serial: V237810V10

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  9. Voter apathy a major concern on Bajor
    By Nash Blaxland
    Stardate 239210.15

    Election2392.png BAJOR — A poll of eligible voters on Bajor this week has shown that nearly three in every five Bajorans do not plan to vote in this year’s presidential election.

    Consistent responses across all eighteen provinces indicate the majority of Bajorans view the upcoming election, which will determine Nan Bacco’s successor as Federation president, as an issue of relatively little importance. In Jerad and Tozhat provinces, only 51 percent plan to vote (the highest proportion planetwide), while in Kendra Province, an overwhelming 71 percent intend to stay home on election day.

    The poll was taken in the aftermath of the Berengeria caucus, during which the five major candidates met with journalists and voters, explained their major policy goals, and outlined their strategic plans for the Federation. Since the close of the caucus, everyone from interest groups to bookmakers has been anxious for early predictions about the result. Everyone except, it may seem, the Bajorans.

    400px-Voter_apathy_Bajor.png

    Voter intention by Bajoran province.


    “I watched several of the debates,” said Gorna Zehesh, a katterpod farmer from Rakantha Province, “but I wasn’t very impressed with the candidates who participated.”

    Similar statements were made by poll respondents across the planet. Many also expressed frustration with a perceived decrease in the strategic importance of Bajor in the Federation.

    “We were the most important planet in the galaxy at one point not so very long ago,” said Yirduk Pim, a member of the Council of Ministers, “but in the four years since we joined the Federation, our influence has diminished considerably.”

    While stopping short of saying so explicitly, Minister Yirduk also implied that were there a Bajoran among the field of candidates, interest in the election might be higher: “I think the prevailing opinion amongst Bajorans is that there is no current candidate to which we can relate.”

    Indeed, the Bajoran poll showed low support for all five major candidates. Kevin Steiner leads with 9 percent, with newcomer Anari Kthria in second place on 5 percent. Adellia Vor and Narala share third place on 3 percent each, while Lily Ventu is last on 1 percent.

    “Councillor Steiner spoke strongly in favor of Bajor’s entry into the Federation, despite the difficult circumstances surrounding our accession,” said Seermi Aleya, professor of Contemporary Studies at the University of Bajor. “Out of all the candidates, he enjoys the highest name recognition on Bajor.”

    Dr. Keahvon of the Cerberus Group, an Earth-based think tank, concurs: “The Bajorans have not forgotten the Occupation, or the Dominion War. A candidate who commits to a continued Starfleet security presence in the Bajoran sector will likely win the support of the government.

    “As for the Bajoran people,” he continued, “that’s less easy to predict.”

    400px-Bajoran_presidential_poll_239210.1

    79 percent of Bajorans do not prefer any of the five major candidates.

    Over 22 percent of Bajorans named a non-candidate as preferred president, while nearly 57 percent expressed no preference whatsoever. Analysts worry that the threat of low turnout on Bajor may be mirrored on other planets.

    “Low turnout on only one planet is not a mathematical concern,” said Professor Ograx of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Betazed. “But voter apathy on a larger scale is dangerous for democracy, because it increases the likelihood that the result will not be viewed as a legitimate expression of the will of the people, and the election of candidates with only minority support furthers people’s frustration and reluctance to vote.”

    The Bajoran poll is only the first planetwide poll to have been published since the close of the Berengeria caucus, but political analysts, and the candidates themselves, will be watching to see if voter sentiment on Bajor is a unique phenomenon, or part of a larger problem.

    Read More: Exclusive Election 2392 Coverage

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  10. Bolians protest Cardassian practice of wearing of Bolian skin clothing

    By Nash Blaxland

    Stardate 239209.25

    CARD-BOLN.jpg
    The skin of Bolians was prized material for clothing on Cardassia until a ban nearly a century ago.

    STARBASE 118 — Nearly one hundred Bolians and several dozen others staged a sit-in outside the Diplomatic Corps offices on Starbase 118 today, protesting the Cardassian practice of wearing Bolian skins as garments.

    A delegation of Cardassian dignitaries arrived on Starbase 118 last night to discuss a scientific and cultural exchange with the Federation. One of the attendees at the welcome reception was Akiana Grol, a Cardassian actress and chanteuse known for her collection of clothing made from Bolian skins.

    Ms Grol’s presence on Starbase 118 was made public when she was photographed arriving at last night’s welcome reception by an FNS correspondent. Within hours of her image being shown on the starbase’s news feed, the Diplomatic Corps offices were flooded with complaints from outraged Bolians. It should be noted that Ms Grol has not been seen wearing the offending garments whatsoever during her stay on the Starbase.

    Historically, Bolian skin was prized among Cardassians for its durability and distinctive color, and although it has been illegal to manufacture or trade Bolian skin clothing in the Cardassian Union for nearly a century, existing garments are highly valued as symbols of status, and passed down from generation to generation.

    Earlier today, the Councilor of the Bolian Central Council released a statement that read in part, “We will never forget the disturbing Cardassian practice of murdering Bolians and wearing their skins, and we will never stop speaking out against those who continue to possess them. The presence of Ms Grol at a Federation-sponsored cultural exchange dishonors the memory of our people who were lost to such barbarism.”

    By mid-morning, over one hundred people had arrived to protest at the Diplomatic Corps offices on Starbase 118. Starfleet security personnel were called in to maintain order, but the event remained peaceful and no arrests were made. Shortly after 1600 hours, a representative of the Diplomatic Corps addressed the demonstrators. Reading from a prepared statement, the diplomat said that the Federation and Cardassia both have long condemned such practices, and that such problems are exactly what cultural exchanges are meant to solve. No questions were taken after the statement was read.

    Later in the day, the Diplomatic Corps published this reply from the office of the Cardassian Ambassador to the Federation: “The Cardassian Union stands with all intelligent species in its value of life, and in regret of the uncivilized behaviors of its forbears. We affirm now, as we affirmed nearly one hundred years ago, that such a vulgar practice has no place in Cardassian society. We can only hope that our people will not be judged by the boorish behavior of a very small minority, insistent on causing controversy.”

    Ms Grol is one of fourteen Cardassians, publicly known to wear Bolian skins, that have been declared personae non gratae on Bolarus IX. At press time, she had not responded to our requests for comment.

    Despite the longstanding ban in Cardassia, the Federation has confirmed reports of Cardassians illegally producing Bolian skin garments as recently as the early 2380s. It was believed that the large number of Bolians in the Maquis, which the Cardassians obliterated with the assistance of the Dominion in 2373, contributed to a revival in production and trading of skins.

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  11. Policy changes put future of New Zealand Penal Settlement in doubt
    By Nash Blaxland
    Stardate 239208.28




    300px-Fedpenalsettlement.jpg
    Among the facilities affected by the proposed changes is the New Zealand Penal Settlement.


    AUCKLAND, EARTH — Policy changes within the United Earth Ministry for Justice may force the closure of the Federation Penal Settlement in New Zealand.

    The Ministry today announced a series of proposed organizational changes to Earth’s corrections system, which could come into effect as early as next year. One of the changes requires that all correctional institutions on Earth, Luna and Mars be operated directly by the Justice Ministry and subordinate to the laws and regulations of United Earth. If enacted, facilities out of compliance with the regulation would either be required to turn over their operations to the planetary government, or face involuntary closure.

    Justice Ministry ombudsperson Yu Xiùlán said the intent of the changes is to “ensure that all persons in corrective rehabilitation on this planet are treated equally, and subject to the same laws.”

    A total of six institutions would be affected, the most notable being the minimum security penal settlement on New Zealand’s North Island, which is operated by the United Federation of Planets under an agreement with United Earth. The agreement, in place since 2346, allows the Federation unrestricted use of the area “for whatever purpose within the law as it sees fit.” By changing its policy, the Justice Ministry is attempting to render the Federation’s purpose illegal.

    While United Earth maintains the changes are necessary to protect the rights of prisoners, the Federation Attorney-General’s Office disagrees. “This is simply another example of Earth attempting to flex its political muscles,” said Deputy Attorney-General Virita zh’Ivathos. “The United Earth Government cannot unilaterally change the status of the New Zealand Penal Settlement by legislation or by executive action.”

    The agreement establishing the settlement requires that amendments must be agreed to by both the Earth Parliament and the Federation Council for the first 100 years, after which either side can withdraw by providing the other a notice period of two years. Earth’s Justice Ministry appeared unconcerned by the apparent legal restriction.

    “If the Federation does not comply before the changes go into effect,” said Ombudsperson Yu, “it will have abandoned the agreement by continuing to operate a facility on Earth in violation of the law.”

    Earth’s status as the Federation’s capital has led to numerous disputes over legal jurisdiction and planetary sovereignty since the Federation was founded in 2161. Historically, these disagreements have tended to be resolved in the Federation’s favor.

    The Attorney-General’s Office stated it considered the dispute a non-issue. “The New Zealand Penal Settlement has been a shining example of the Federation’s enlightened belief in rehabilitation for 46 years,” said Deputy Attorney-General zh’Ivathos, “and will undoubtedly be so for many more to come.”

    Among the settlement’s current population are former members of the Maquis, an armed rebellious organization which opposed the Federation–Cardassian Treaty of 2370. The continued imprisonment of former Maquis, nearly two decades after the organization was extinguished by the Dominion, has been the subject of ongoing debate.

    Last year, a successor organization calling itself Maquis Reborn occupied a joint Federation–Cardassian space station in the Menthar Corridor. Among its objectives was the release of all Maquis prisoners.

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  12. Demand exceeds supply of 'finest' bloodwine vintage in 83 years

    By Nash Blaxland

    Stardate 239208.23

    300px-Bloodwine.jpg
    'ej HumtaH 'ej DechtaH 'Iw. Sales of the 2392 vintage have exceeded expectations.


    QO’NOS — The bloodwine vintage coming from the Klingon homeworld this year may be remembered as the vintage of a lifetime.

    Favorable environmental conditions and an abundance of high-quality blood contributed to the 2392 haul being hailed as the Empire’s finest since the acclaimed vintage of 2309.

    As a result, the price of 2392 Qo’noS bloodwine has soared in currency-based economies, as demand far outpaces supply. Sources on the Klingon homeworld say the scarcity is artificial in nature, and that most of the vintage has been placed in reserve on the direct order of the Chancellor.

    “The Chancellor will drink himself to death,” said K’mpok, son of Torak, commander of the bird-of-prey IKS Ratanog, “and the only blood we will taste will come from our parched, cracked lips.”

    At press time, the Chancellor had not responded to our request for comment. Some analysts have linked the bloodwine situation to the ongoing buildup of military forces within the Empire, as Klingon attack ships often carry large stockpiles of the beverage to celebrate victories.

    The vintage has been so universally lauded that sales of non-Qo’noS bloodwine have plummeted almost to zero, and many alien merchants have all but given up on selling off their inferior stocks.

    “I’ve got a cargo hold full of a product nobody wants anymore,” said Hetman Diwa of the Xepolite freighter Skrul. Patrol ships have been on alert to catch traders illegally dumping bloodwine in Federation space, a violation of environmental regulations.

    A solution may be in sight, however. As of last week, a Ferengi consortium has been established to purchase off-world bloodwine at a discount, in the hope its value will re-appreciate as supplies of Qo’noS bloodwine dwindle.

    The spike in bloodwine sales has had a quadrant-wide ripple effect on the demand of other Klingon delicacies. Last month saw a 51% increase in the export of Bithool gagh, both with and without feet.

    A’Eleq, daughter of Thopok, a spokeswoman for the High Council, was not surprised: “Nothing goes better with bloodwine than gagh!”

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  13. Reading about the upcoming UFP presidential election has left me with some questions about how the Federation is constituted. I know the Star Trek version of the UFP was modeled after the UN, perhaps with a stronger central government, but how does the Federation operate in our SB118 variant of the universe?

    Is there in existence an in-character UFP constitution or basic law that outlines the various organs of government, and how the member planets interact with it? I've seen some other Trek sites that have a Federation constitution or Articles of Federation that seem to fill in the blanks. Obviously the Federation has a (mostly) common economic and defense policy, but has there ever been a discussion about the degree of federalism that exists? Are some worlds more autonomous than others? Surely the vast network of small colonies must have a different organizational arrangeemnt than planets like Earth or Vulcan.

    Judging by the news articles about the election, it appears the UFP President is popularly elected, and that the functions of head of state and head of government are both vested in the President, like in the U.S. system. There exists a Federation Council in canon, but is this a legislature comprising representatives from all member planets, or a cabinet?

    Any insights, or opinions, or suggestions, are welcome!

  14. (( Main Engineering, Deck 24, USS Columbia ))



    (( 0800 – The morning after the party ))



    :: Like the majority of Columbia’s crew, the newly promoted Lieutenant Theo Whittaker was still on shore leave. He was not due to report as Chief Engineering Officer until the order to rescind their scheduled downtime was officially given. Given his new position, however, there was much to be done in order to make the transition easier for his department and he did not want to have to juggle those pressing concerns with whatever mission the Nebula-class starship was assigned to next.



    Thusly, Theo found himself entering his new domain instead of making use of Starbase 118’s vast array of recreational facilities. Feeling that it would be wholly inappropriate to begin his new role in his civilian attire, he had donned his uniform- removing the solitary black pip and attaching the new gold one he had received from Commander Brek the previous evening. As he had left his quarters, he had replicated a cup of hot water with a slice of lemon and ginger root, his regular beverage.



    His entrance into engineering had been surreptitious. Never one to command or enjoy attention, he had wanted to avoid his presence causing “a fuss” as his mother would call it. Luckily, none of the engineering staff who had not been granted leave or the Starbase technicians had noticed his arrival. As he reached what the staff had colloquially coined “the office” (the space in front of and to the left of the warp core, which looked upon the powerful machine) he nodded to an unfamiliar technician likely from 118. The Bajoran woman returned the gesture and went back to inputting data into the console she was tending to.



    He sat down on a stool at the bank of consoles than ran the length of the dividing glass that cordoned off ‘the office’ from the warp core and set his mug down on the ledge above them after taking a sip and savouring its taste. Entering his new clearance code- what a novelty that was!- began to peruse the latest reports. It was all unremarkable fare, Lieutenant Stineman from astrophysics had filed a report for a broken replicator in his laboratory, Ensign K’Chak’Krrr’A wanted somebody to take a look at her sonic shower- who knew Pak’Shree showered!- and Crewman Laplex’Vrin wanted to enquire about installing a birthing chamber in his quarters as he was approaching budding season.



    He had scarcely been reviewing the request log for two minutes when the sound of footsteps approaching drew Theo’s attention towards the entrance to the office where a middle aged Ullian woman was stood, holding a PADD. She was enlisted, having a petty officer 2nd class badge on her collar. The hair at her pronounced temples was beginning to thin and turn white, slight wrinkles had begun to tug at the corners of her mouth and around her soft green eyes. Upon seeing him, her mouth curled into the beginnings of a smile. ::



    Tish: :: she spoke in soft tones that put Theo in mind of the voice his mother adopted whenever Theo injured himself as a small boy :: “Are you Lieutenant Whittaker?”



    Whittaker: “I am indeed. How can help you…?” :: he left the question hanging as Tish would have no choice but the identity herself. ::



    Tish: “Koytra Tish. Petty Officer 2nd Class Koytra Tish that is. I’ve been assigned to Columbia as an antimatter supply manifold specialist for about six months”



    :: She stepped into the office a fraction, but came no father. Ever a gentleman, Theo rose from the stool and extended his hand. She took it in hers and shook it ::



    Whittaker: “A pleasure to meet you”. :: he wondered why he had not encountered her before, but remembering her position, he realised that she had spent most of her six month tour thus far ensconced on Deck 29. Her’s was an exacting, unsung role, yet amongst the most vital on the ship due to the potentially catastrophic repercussions of working with a substance like antimatter ::



    Tish: :: she smiled warmly :: “I was sure you wouldn’t be here since you are on leave but I thought I would check anyway”.




    Whittaker: :: curious :: “Is there something that I can do you?”



    Tish: “Not at all sir. I just wanted to congratulate you on your promotion and new position”.



    :: As she beamed at him, Theo felt rather touched and he found himself reflecting how far he had come. Four months ago, almost to the very day, he was a nervous young ensign- unsure of what awaited him. Now he was a Lieutenant, decorated and the chief engineer of a frontline starship. That Commander Brek and, by extension Starfleet, would have such faith in him as to give him such a crucial position aboard the Columbia… it was almost overwhelming ::



    Whittaker: “Thank you very much crewman” :: this time, she extended her hand- rather sheepishly. He shook it again :: “Make sure you don’t stay on Deck 29 all of the time. We’d like to see you up here sometimes”.



    Tish: “Of course sir. If you’ll excuse me, I have to report for duty”.



    Whittaker: “Of course”



    :: Tish smiled at him again one last time and walked off, down engineering before rounding a corner and disappearing. He watched the Petty Officer as she went. It was a simple gesture, but it meant everything to him.



    He was about turn back into the office when he was struck with the sensation that he was being watched. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end and felt a shiver travel from the top of his head all the way down to his toes. While he managed to keep his sudden unease hidden from everybody, he cast his eyes around the large chamber. At first sight, everybody had their backs to him busy with their own work and all he could hear were the faint beeps and clicks common to the background noise of an engineering compartment. He then cast his eyes upwards towards the warp core and the second and tertiary levels that ran around the rough diameter of it.



    He caught sight of somebody disappearing behind the warp core. Given his recent experience at the hands of a being who claimed to be an Iconian, he could not blame himself as he felt a greater sense of trepidation. For the briefest of moments he was tempted to call for security, but common sense won out. It was unlikely that anybody could infiltrate the Columbia given that it was berthed at one of the Federation’s most secure outposts ::



    Whittaker: oO Not that it stopped that being Oo



    :: The figure emerged on the other side of the warp core and the new chief engineer saw Crewman T’Laris running scans of what appeared to be a deuterium inject assembly on the second level. She was studiously looking at the readings on her tricorder. Irrational as it may have been, Theo was certain that she had been staring at him moments before, He recalled her attitude the next before after he had tasked her returning some of his possessions to his quarters. She had been sharp… almost rude. Vulcans had a habit of coming across as abrupt, but Theo had thought at the time there was something more ::



    Whittaker: :: he called out :: “T’Laris-” :: she did not look up. He was not convinced that she had failed to hear him but he still increased the volume of his voice :: “T’Laris!”



    T’Laris: :: she did not look up from her device as she curtly replied :: “I can hear you Mr. Whittaker. I am presently collating readings of the deuterium injection assembly”.



    :: Mr. Whittaker? He would not have been surprised to hear Commander Brek or Doctor MacLaren call him that- after all they outranked him and it was expected. What was not expected was for one of his subordinates to call him that. He took a moment to reply as he bristled against what- in other- was tantamount to insubordination. ::



    Whittaker: :: he tried to keep the growing irritation from his voice :: “May I see you for a moment please?”



    :: There was no response from the engineer as she left her tricorder resting on the rail in front of her and made her way to the small lift that brought her down to the same level as Theo. Watching her keenly he looked for any sign that something was wrong. She moved with grace, her ponytail bobbing gently as she went. Her porcelain face and cool hazel eyes were impassive, a mask of equanimity. She came to a halt before Theo and placed her hands behind her back. Approximately three inches taller than he, Theo tilted his head slight to look at her, schooling his features into his own facade of calmness. In reality he wanted nothing more than grind his jaw in frustration ::



    Whittaker: :: evenly :: “Is everything alright?”



    T’Laris: “I am… eager to resume my work.”



    Whittaker: “I just wanted to check because you seemed somewhat… pointed at the beach party yesterday evening”



    T’Laris: “I am unaccustomed to large scale social gatherings. I prefer solitude and meditation.”



    Whittaker: “If that’s so, why did you attend?”



    T’Laris: :: matter of factly :: “I received an invitation and I felt it would be impolite to refuse”.



    :: He could not put his finger on what it was but there was something that did not ring true. He thought of pressing the matter, but until he was certain that there was an issue and not just the musings of Theo’s overactive imagination, he stayed his tongue and favoured the Vulcan with a small, but terse smile. ::



    Whittaker: Very well. Thank you crewman.



    :: As T’Laris turned her back, Theo could have sworn he saw a flash of emotion dance briefly across her face. Somewhat stunned, he stood there for several seconds considering it. He was sure he had imagined it, but then again- her attitude the previous night had suggested something more than her being socially anxious. He watched her return to her task. She never looked up from her tricorder but there was a spikiness about her that left him unsettled. Making his way back to ‘the office’ he resolved to keep a close eye on his Vulcan subordinate, but tried to remain hopeful that he was indulging himself in another bout of over-thinking ::



    Whittaker: oO You are just being silly Theo Oo



    :: He wished he could believe that ::



    --


    Lieutenant Theo Whittaker


    Chief Engineering Officer


    USS Columbia


    NCC 85279


    C239203TW0


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