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Maxwell Traenor

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Everything posted by Maxwell Traenor

  1. Hey, has anyone figured out how to "Preview Post" yet, or is that option gone with this latest upgrade?
  2. ((Space, just outside the Darwin)) ::Praxo was flying Talaxian shuttles again, finally! After a month in the clean, advanced but somehow character-less Federation shuttles, he was very glad when he finally returned to Talax II and his own, custom built craft. However, today he was en route with a Dalex type Talaxian shuttle.:: ::He had left the Darwin after his assignment with mixed feelings. As much as he looked forward to piloting „real“ shuttles again, he most certainly missed the comfort of a Federation ship and the ever-changing routine of exploring the sphere. There of course weren’t many exciting incidents as they had on the very first trip and the further research on the blue space goo turned out unsatisfying, but it was an easy, comfortable life, and easy and comfortable was always good.:: ::When home, the first thing he did was taking his shuttle to his favorite low altitude race track and soon agreed that it probably had been a bit too much comfortableness during the last month. However, he indeed missed replicators and also, most surprisingly, also his fellow pilot Shayne. It was clear, as soon as there would be a possibility to move to the newly built outpost, he would take it.:: ::No question, when the Talaxian government contacted him again to participate in a completely new project with Starfleet, he not even bothered to play undecided to rise the rewards. He was supposed to teach Starfleet pilots the quirks of Talaxian shuttles, a task most certainly fitting for a pilot of his calibre.:: ::Soon after, he was on his way back to the Darwin. Unfortunately not in his own craft. As much as he would have loved to show it off, even he agreed that it was contra productive to learn the art of piloting Talaxian crafts on a one-of-a-kind ship. So he decided to bring the Dalex type instead, a master piece of Talaxian engineering that was as well not to be scoffed at. It was the highest performing ship out of serial production in the size of a shuttle. Of course warp capable, but not suited for long distance trips.:: ::When the already very familiar shape of the Darwin appeared on his view screen, Praxo hailed them.:: Praxo: =/\= USS Darwin, this is Talaxian Shuttle DX257, are you receiving me? =/\= Traenor: =/\= ::chuckling:: Loud and clear. Welcome back! =/\= Praxo: =/\= This is Talaxian delegate Praxo, request permission to dock. Traenor: =/\= Permission granted, Talaxian delegate Praxo. ::smirk:: =/\= Praxo: Thank you very much. ::Praxo had no idea if he really counted as a delegate, but whatever. He assumed that anyone in charge would know him anyway. It was almost too easy to pilot a shuttle into the Darwin’s shuttlebay, even if you would come off the required trajectory, there were tractor beams to quickly bull you back on track. He made sure that that would not be necessary, as the two pilots he would soon teach about flying were already waiting there for him, surely judging his entry performance.:: ((Shuttlebay, Deck eight, USS Darwin-A)) ::After a landing as on point as it gets, Praxo proudly exited the craft through the hatch at it’s rear. Waiting for him were two Starfleet officers, one of them he knew already.:: Praxo: Shayne! What a pleasant surprise! Shayne: Good to see you, Mr. Praxo. Nice of you to bring your ride here. Praxo: I’m glad you will be the first to lay hand on good Talaxian technology. And who we have here? I’m Praxo, first class flight instructor and record holder on not less than fourteen race tracks in this sector alone. ::He of course made this titles up as he talked, but they were somewhat truthfully. At the end, who cared that he made up most of these tracks himself for his personal use and that he never was outside of this sector?:: Manius: Lieutenant Manius, medical doctor and pilot. Praxo: I heard you are here to learn about the art of flying Talaxian shuttle, so should we start right away? Shayne: I don't see why not. I'm rearing to go. Manius: Then let’s proceed. Praxo: Good, I like your eagerness. I will consider that during your final exam. ::A bit less confident:: Will there be an exam? Shayne: Absolutely not! Praxo: Alright, no exam then. ::The Talaxian took his walking stick, one that he bought solely for an occasion like this one and certainly won’t need, and tucked it under his right arm while starting to walk a few steps back and forth. He thought he must look incredibly cool and super important.: Praxo: You’re standing in front of the finest piece of Talaixan engineering. The Dalex type is the newest creation of our skillful technicians. Warp 4, high performance impulse drive, redundant computer core, absolutely no automated flight control aids, what more could you possibly ask for? ::Dramatic pause:: Praxo: The Dalex type has a two seated [...]pit and in the back either a considerable amount of cargo space or two more or less comfortable passenger seats. It comes with a strong double-emitter defensive deflector system and two state of the art laser cannons. Do you have any questions so far? ::He was very proud of the delivery of his speech. oO I should definitely consider becoming an entertainer Oo :: Shayne: How does she handle? Praxo: I hear that some Federation pilots like to refer to their ships as women. That’s cute. But with the Dalex type, it is not only true, it is worse. This one is a diva. Forget your Federation craft flying skills and prepare for the „press a button, wait a few moments and see if it does what you want“-kind of flying. I’m kidding. The computer is sometimes a bit slow, but it will always EXACTLY do what your inputs are, it’s only doubtful that this will be what you want it to do. But enough of talking, let’s take a look inside, shall we? ::Praxo pointed with an inviting gestures to the still open hatch.:: Shayne: ::To Manius.:: Shall we? ________________ MSPNPC Praxo simmed by Ensign Isabel Pond Medical Officer USS Darwin-A D239212IP0
  3. ::She was aware she was conscious when she realized she could hear the soft beeping around her. Her memory was chunky and hazy, but somehow she recognized that the beeps were most likely coming from something mechanical. What exactly, she wasn't sure...yet. Speaking of memory, she decided to give it another try to see what exactly she could remember. Her name? Check. Where she was? Hmmm...no. Frankly, she was having a hard time remembering her last memories. But she did puzzle out that the reason all she saw was blackness was because her eyes were still closed. Why? Could be that the effort to open them meant she had to physically move a part of her body, even as small as her eyelids, and that concept made her feel exhausted. But, she felt that it was something important enough that she should at least try.:: ::So, she opened her eyes. The light hurt, even though she could tell that it wasn't very bright in here. Must have been because her eyes were used to being closed for so long. How long had it been? No way to tell unless her memory decided to work again. But what was she looking at? A pattern of white squares? Nothing else in her field of vision. She'd have to move her head. Great...more physical exertion! But it had to be done. Information was the most important asset you can have.:: ::Where did that thought come from? She have to puzzle that out later. But, she agreed with it. So, right now she needed to turn her head. it hurt, much more than opening her eyes, and the fatigue nearly overwhelmed her. But somehow, recognizing what she saw meant that her memory was still functional, if a little disjointed, and it gave her a sense of hope, which counted the pain and fatigue a little. Lots of neutral colours, and cool grey metal. And windows.:: ::The light was from natural daylight entering through the windows of the room, for now she could see that she was in a room. Outside the windows she could see green trees and grass, blue sky. A beautiful day. Something inside her longed to be out there, rather than cooped up inside. Inside. Inside where? Her longing for the natural world outside her windows made it difficult to look away, but she forced herself to, and a single tear managed to escape from the corner of her eye and trickle down her face. She lacked the strength to wipe it away, so she left it alone.:: ::What she was looking at reminded her of something...her memory was trying to work again. Funny how she could easily remember things like trees and sky, but had trouble recognizing other things. Wait. The room, it had an odd smell to it as well. It smelled...sterile, clean. But not fresh like outside. Then another sound drew her attention. Her eyes darted to the other side of the room from the windows. A woman wearing some type of clothing that tugged at her memory was entering through a door. The woman stopped when she saw the open eyes, smiled, and spoke softly.:: Woman: Good. You're awake. I'll go inform the doctor. ::She left through the doorway again, but she had left a very important clue. Doctor! The recognition came to her. She was in a medical facility! That woman was a nurse in a nurse's uniform. The neutral colours, beeping machines and sterile smell...she was in a hospital room!:: ::But why?:: ::Medicine was for the sick and injured. Was she sick, or injured? Now she realized that she was lying on a hospital bed, and had been staring at the ceiling when she first opened her eyes. But that gave her no clue. Both the sick and injured would be on hospital beds while they were patients. Her great fatigue could be the result of either an illness, or an injury, so that piece of information was irrelevant as well. The door opened and the nurse returned with another woman, most likely the doctor that the nurse had mentioned. They both were smiling the "rest easy, I'm here to help you, not hurt you" smile that medical practitioners spent years trying to perfect. They moved to her bed and began running scans, checking equipment, speaking medical-babble...all of which was too much for her sluggish brain to take in at once.:: ::Then the door opened again. This time two men entered, and they weren't wearing medical uniforms, but uniforms of some other type. The second man had no expression on his face at all, but the first man was also smiling. However, his smile was different from the doctor's. This man's smile had more...guile? hidden in it. And for some reason, she liked that smile more than the doctor's.:: Man: ::to her:: How are you feeling? Doctor: She's probably still too weak to speak, though I'm sure she can hear you fine. Man: ::still to her:: Do you remember anything about what happened? ::She just stared up at the man. Did she know him? Should she? Something about him was familiar...but was it his face or his uniform? And in answer to his question...remember what happened about what? And she couldn't move her mouth to answer...she was just too tired. So she did what she could - she stared blankly at the man.:: Man: ::looking to the doctor:: What is the prognosis? Doctor: Well, the fact that she's conscious already is a good sign. It means her body is healing at a normal rate. With injuries like she had sustained, some patients bodies take far longer to heal than they should. ::smiling down to her:: If she keeps resting and healing like this, I'd say she should make a full recovery in a month...maybe less. Man: Fine, fine. ::looking back down to her as well:: Because they have returned. And due to your familiarity with the situation and the location, we have decided to place you in charge this time. ::The man leaned down a little closer and smiled again. This time, his voice was just above a whisper, but filled with excitement.:: Man: How would you feel about a promotion...CAPTAIN Yenard? ::The memories suddenly came flooding back. This time, she had the strength to smile in response.:: -TBC (at some point) ------------- MSNPC Yenard, Captain Commanding Officer Numiri Imperial Worldsphere Recovery Fleet
  4. (( Deep Space 6, Promenade, Orb of Taste Restaurant )) :: Didrik had disembarked Darwin at the first opportunity after her arrival at DS6. Dr Cook had kept him on a steady dose of drugs that ameliorated the worst symptoms of his Quantum Slipstream Sickness, but he still felt bouts of nausea when the device that powered Darwin’s faster-than-warp engines ramped up and wound down. :: :: He sat across a small cafe table from Dr Linnea Hanadani, who had been his therapist when he lived on DS6, between leaving Columbia and joining Darwin. They shared a pot of deka tea at a Terran-Bajoran fusion restaurant which seemed to be popping up everywhere. :: Hanadani: You look well, Didrik. Pardon me, Counselor Stennes. :: Didrik blushed at the compliment. :: Stennes: I feel well. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so clear headed. Hanadani: Maybe you’ve found your calling then? Stennes: I don’t know about that. I am really enjoying the challenges of being a counselor, but it’s not exactly being on the bridge of a Starship. Hanadani: Speaking of which, Didrik, I’ve had a few conversations with Starfleet Medical about you. :: Didrik froze, mid-sip, suddenly finding it difficult to swallow. He set his cup down and studied the doctor’s expression. She was smiling an ethereal half-smile, but that wasn’t unusual for her. The silence seemed to fill the room. :: Stennes: And? Hanadani: And they’ve not been ignorant of the fact that you’ve spend most of the last year working with Starfleet, albeit in a civilian capacity. Stennes: I’m guessing they weren’t pleased. Last I heard, I was still medically unfit for Starfleet duty. Hanadani: You’re right, there is a sentiment amongst the doctors in charge of your case that you’ve skirted around their orders. That you’ve exploited a loophole to continue working in environments that may be detrimental to your recovery. :: Didrik nodded slowly, feeling his commission slipping further and further out of his reach. :: Stennes: I understand. I always knew that was a possibility. I guess I was just hoping that I’d do such a fantastic job that it would prove I was fully recovered. Hanadani: No one who has been through what you have can “fully recover,” Didrik. You know that. But recovery isn’t a destination, it’s a journey along which you learn how to cope. Stennes: I feel like I have learnt to cope. Hanadani: Then what’s this I heard about you making racial slurs on the bridge of your ship? Stennes: I don’t know what-- Hanadani: You called your telepathic colleagues “a bunch of spoon-benders”? Stennes: That is not what I said… exactly. Hanadani: Didrik… Stennes: We were in a life threatening situation, two away teams were about to be killed. And besides, I profusely apologized personally to the captain and to everyone else on the bridge. I feel like my contrition should be worth something, I felt terrible for what I said. Hanadani: Of course it should. Starfleet Medical is continuing to evaluate your condition with a view of reinstating your commission if it’s in yours and Starfleet’s best interest. Stennes: I’ve been hearing that for two years. Hanadani: And you may continue hearing it for another two years, or twenty years. That’s Starfleet Medical for you. :: Didrik’s eyes lowered. It certainly sounded like she was trying to make bad news sound less bad. :: Stennes: So what should I do? Hanadani: No matter how many positive evaluations you receive, or how far your recovery has progressed, ultimately, the decision to reinstate you as a Starfleet officer is not, and will never be, yours to make. :: Didrik nodded. There was such a finality to that statement. Ever since his trauma, he thought that if he worked hard enough, stayed focused enough, he could get his old life back. But such a thing was not possible. :: Hanadani: I’ve told you this before. You’ve been so single minded about returning to Starfleet, and I’m telling you that you are perfectly capable of living a different, but no less fulfilling life. Stennes: ::quietly:: You’re right. Everything you’ve said is right. Hanadani: I don’t want you to give up on something you want, Didrik. I just want you to have realistic expectations. Stennes: I know. And I do. I really do. I’m enjoying my position on Darwin. Maybe you were right. Maybe I do have a new calling. Hanadani: That’s the spirit. I care about you, Didrik. Not just as a former patient, and not just as a colleague. :: She smiled so warmly that Didrik could feel it radiating from her. :: Hanadani: Excel in whatever you do, Didrik. I know you can. :: Didrik pressed his thumb onto the paypad and they stood. :: Hanadani: The university is looking for some guests for a speakers’ series. If you’re staying over a while, I could see about getting you a timeslot. Didrik: No thanks. Something tells me we may not be at DS6 for very long. I should be getting back to the ship anyway. I need to speak to the captain. Hanadani: Problem? Didrik: Maybe. :: Didrik decided not to talk about the somewhat ironic masquerade ball being planned, and what such an activity said about the current mental state of its attendees. He had a strong feeling that there would be quite a few secrets, not just faces, being unmasked at the event. :: Didrik: Thank you, for everything. Hanadani: My pleasure. :: Didrik wasn’t a hugger, but she pulled him into one and Didrik complied. The diminutive woman looked as though she was being swallowed up by his bearhug. They parted, and Didrik embarked Darwin though the gangway, heading directly for the captain’s ready room. :: =/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\= Didrik Stennes Counselor USS Darwin NCC-99312-A D238804DS0 =/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=|=/\=
  5. ((Shuttle Landing Site, Talaxian Base.)) Logan: Darwin shuttle closed, don't wait around Lieutenant. Thomas: Lieutenant, let's get out of here. ::Shayne was gratified to find the shuttle the way they'd left it. He had no desire to stay any longer than necessary. Indeed, given the...unstable nature of the structure they now planned to abandon with the definition of haste, Shayne couldn't wait to take off.:: oO And to get back in my uniform. This suit is killing me. Oo ::His instruments indicated a steady flow of power to the flight controls, and it was difficult to fight the urge to blast off at full speed. Training kicked in, however, and Shayne knew a slow ascent would be required to make certain the floor did not give way beneath them before they achieved a stable altitude. Shayne: Hang on, travelers. ::With a purr like that of a contented Sehlat, the Eddington lifted off from the wrecked base, on course for the Darwin.:: ((USS Triumphant, Deck 1- Bridge)) ::Shayne had been happy to note that whatever was left of the Numiri had limped away. But there had been enough blood spilt. Needlessly. Pointlessly. It was infuriating. He could hardly wrap his mind around what had transpired.:: ::Back at his station on the bridge, Shayne tried to distract himself with the many duties inherent to the helm position. There was much on his mind; the Talaxians, the Numiri, Raikenoff. His eyelids were made of lead, perpetually threatening to close, whether Shayne wanted them to or not. Exhausted, both emotionally and physically, he did his utmost to hang on to operational readiness until he was dismissed. He didn't dare relax. Not yet. He'd need to soon, but that required solitude, something not commonly found on the bridge of a starship.:: Renos: =/\= Renos to Commander Thomas, destroy the base, then lay in the coordinates we’re sending through, we’re taking the survivors back to the nearest colony on the way home. =/\= Thomas: =/\= Understood Captain. Thomas out =/\= ::Shayne looked forward. The ruined base, pockmarked with scorches, hung in space.:: Thomas: Ensign Logan, fire cannons and destroy the base camp. Logan: Yes sir. Area targeted..... and firing. ::In one blow, the terrible destructive force available to the Triumphant smacked into the base. A bright light, and then nothing.:: Thomas: Lieutenant, punch in the coordinates from the Darwin and keep us in close. As they prepare to warp, follow their lead. Shayne: Aye. ::The oddly shaped Darwin leapt into warp, and Shayne followed suite. The mesmerizing streaks of starlight confirmed their superluminal velocity a moment later.:: Thomas: Lieutenant, you have the Bridge. Varaan: Aye, commander. ::The commander departed from the bridge, and the subtle sounds of an operating center massaged the helmsman's ears like a lullaby.:: oO Time to go. Oo Shayne: ::Turning to Varaan.:: Sir, permission to leave the bridge. Varaan: Granted, lieutenant. Shayne: Thank you, sir. ::Slowly standing, Shayne made sure to control his breathing as best he could before proceeding out of the bridge.:; ((Corridor, Deck 1, USS Triumphant.)) ::He knew this part would come. It always did. But that admission never made it any easier.:: ::Doing his utmost to walk at a steady pace, Shayne tried to calm himself. Already his breathing had become shallow and quick. Sweat poured from his temples. His stomach, a volatile subject at the best of times, was churning like he was in an endless free fall. A wave of dizziness assaulted him, causing him to collide aggressively with a bulkhead.:: oO Just let me get to my quarters. Please, just let me get there...Don't let anyone find me like this. Oo ((Officer's Quarters, Cabin G, Deck 1, USS Triumphant.)) ::At last, he found his way to Compartment G, his designated living space. The tiny size of the cabin did not bother Shayne. He was simply grateful that the bunk bed's top level did not seem to have another occupant. Staggering over to the replicator, he managed to gasp out a request.:: Shayne: Pure...mint...extract. ::The alcove obediently provided the requested substance. Shayne wasted no time in pouring half of the contents onto the perpetually burned back of his left hand. The potent liquid reacted with the ever-present wound, causing pain on a staggering scale. Shayne didn't care. He eagerly lapped up the extract with his tongue. It had an almost immediate effect. While his stomach was still complaining angrily, he no longer felt in danger of vomiting. A definite improvement. But the worst was yet to come.:: ::With enormous emphasis on gentleness, Shayne pulled his tunic and undershirt off, and stared at his left shoulder. The sight that greeted him was not pretty by any means.:: ::While they were escaping from the Talaxian base, a Numiri boarding team had shown up, guns blazing. Shayne had been so ridiculously pumped on adrenaline, he hadn't registered that he'd been shot. A glancing blow at most; certainly nothing life-threatening. The energy bolt had cauterized the injury, as well. Nevertheless, it had taken an ice cream scoop- size chunk of skin with it, and the crimson canyon of flesh hurt like hell.:: oO I need to see the doctor. Oo ::It was a tempting thought for a moment. The idea of being cared for with the best equipment available, under the watchful gaze of the professional staff down in Sickbay appealed. Then he imagined explaining the burn on his left hand, talking to the doctors about himself, revealing things that no one could know...no one...:: oO Intolerable. Oo ::Once again he approached the replicator, this time asking for a serious amount of first aid materials; dermal regenerator, tricorder, cleansing unit. After laying the armload of stuff onto his bunk, Shayne began to clean the wound. It stung and burned and ached, but nothing was so blindingly agonizing that he couldn't function. He vaguely remembered his old Earth history, how amputations during the Civil War were achieved with hacksaws, and the patients were given a hunk of wood to chomp down on in order to keep them from biting their own tongue off. Shayne gave silent thanks to the universe for delivering him from that kind of barbarism. It would have made his job considerably less pleasant.:: ::It took time, but he was finally satisfied with the cleaning job. Next, the dermal regenerator. Having trained as a doctor for a year at the Academy, he knew the general skills required to treat such an injury. Several minutes of flesh knitting later, and Shayne's shoulder was still quite tender, but not the open gash it had been before. Making sure to cover his tracks, he returned all the unused materials to the replicator and wiped the memory logs. And then he sat.:: ::And waited.:: ::It wasn't long before it hit him. It was reminiscent of his difficulties in the corridor, only a hundred times worse. Panic and fear exploded in his mind and heart, tearing through reason and control, shredding his mental discipline. Anxiety seeped into his mind, driving away rational sense. Against this onslaught, Shayne could do nothing but curl into a ball on his bunk and cry like a baby, begging for the overwhelming feelings to depart. Deep down, he knew they wouldn't. Not for some time. And even when they abated, they were never truly gone. But even a moment's respite would have been gratefully accepted.:: ::It was hours before he finally fell into a fitful sleep.:: TBC... Lieutenant J.G. Randal Shayne Helmsman USS Triumphant NCC- 75692 Escort Vessel for USS Darwin-A NCC- 99312 G239202RS0
  6. ((OOC: Reference is made to previous posts named “Sweet Music” - Part 1 and Part 2. Though not necessary reading, it does provide background information on the situation. )) ((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A)) ((1st POV)) Renos: =/\= You know, that’s not a transmission I think we should be worried about. =/\= :: The J’naii captain stopped mid stride, stooping to pick up a mishandled PADD ne’d fumbled and dropped. Ne had butterflies in nir stomach again today and was all thumbs. It wasn’t the first time ne’d sent something tumbling and clattering to the floor. It wasn’t like nem at all - ne wasn’t known for being a clutz. Renos huffed audibly, regretting putting the efficient Dokkaran in the role of Acting Chief of Tactical and Security. :: :: Ne paused outside of the holodeck door and thumbed the panel by the door, calling up the program ne intended to run, complete with secret subroutine. If only ne could get Icavoc to drop the matter, or at least postpone things long enough for nem to get some much needed down time. This was the third time ne’d tried to get some holodeck time and ne had to draw the line somewhere or ne’d never get a break. :: Icavoc: =/\= But it could contain a corrupted attachment that may have been garbled by a subspace relay or even something more risky, like a virus. =/\= Renos: =/\= Leave it with me! ::Insistently:: =/\= Icavoc: =/\= As you wish Renos. ::In the same neutral calm tone as ever:: =/\= :: By now the J’naii deviant was pulling out nir special red PADD and silently cursing the idiot who didn’t follow the proper procedure for contacting nem with underground business. Having nir activities uncovered and linked with an organisation considered criminal on nir homeworld didn’t make for a relaxed mood and ne didn’t notice the error that flashed up briefly on the holodeck control panel before ne breezed in, determined to get some joy out of the day. :: :: When ne entered ne couldn’t help but smile. The place was exactly how it was meant to be and there was Traenor by the piano. Ne’d been particularly withdrawn lately and had missed this man greatly. Ne felt like ne had a bit of making up to do after being so cold and withdrawn. Despite better judgement ne'd been reading about the complexities of human dating customs. It was genuinely mind boggling compared to the arranged pairing common on J’naii. It wasn’t necessarily a practice ne agreed with or liked but it certainly made matters simpler. Then again simpler wasn’t always better. :: Renos: Hello Gordie. ::Brightly while checking nir red PADD and then stuffing it away for later.:: :: Renos could see Gordie’s face was already lit up with a big smile as ne approached. Strangely, if Renos was reading things right he actually looked a little relieved. Why would that be? He couldn’t be expecting someone else surely? :: Traenor: Renos, I’m so glad that it’s you here right now! Renos: Of course it's me. ::In an amused tone:: ::With Noros gone and out of the way, no one remained aboard who knew about this program except for nem so this Traenor wouldn't be getting any other guests whether he knew it or not. Gordie gave nem one of his charismatic grins and Renos felt the tension begin to melt away. :: Traenor: Why don’t you come take a seat, and we’ll get some music started. :: Ne approached and scooted the holographic man over, feeling a rise in nervousness. Nir mouth seemed to dry up and the J’naii had to question what ne was doing here, what ne hoped to achieve. Had ne not ruled out this possibility the last time ne was here? :: Renos: Actually, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on. :: This was something of an exaggeration. Due to the demands of the mission ne hadn’t really had the time or opportunity to practice but hopefully ne'd get lucky and show enough improvement. All this really needed to be was an icebreaker to set nem at ease more so ne could try what ne'd come here to practice. :: :: Renos took a long, deep breath to steady nir nerves then demonstrated what Gordie had shown nem before. It did not sound good to nir ears and ne tried to focus on the positive - ne had at least managed to hit all of the keys. :: Renos: Ah well. I don’t have the same deftness or lightness of touch you do but perhaps we can agree that at least it wasn’t so wooden. Perhaps I’ll leave the piano to you. :: Ne made a gesture that invited him to play and wondered what he might choose today. The J’naii observed Gordie and his reactions to nem carefully, wanting to know what landed well with him and what wasn’t working. Ne’d never attempted anything like this and it was simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Nir heart was pounding hard and fast in nir chest and ne was increasingly aware of nir close proximity to the object of nir desire. :: Traenor: Oh, I don’t know about that. That was a pleasant surprise, and I hope you keep at it. I thought it was wonderful! :: Renos hadn’t tinkered with the program and yet had a sense that things were different this time. Was it nerve related paranoia? His responses didn’t quite add up to what ne was expecting, yet he seemed more natural and realistic than before. Ne didn’t know what to think of it but ran with it anyway. :: :: After waiting a moment to gather nir nerve ne was ready. The love struck officer had over half a dozen pick up lines prepared and ready to try. In the course of nir research ne’d found this was how humans expressed their interest in one another. Unfortunately the success rate was not reputed to be good but this was thought to be down to ill crafted lines. Renos didn’t expect to need or get the chance to try them all but preferred to have too many than come up empty handed should they all miss the target. Gordie had barely begun to play but Renos couldn’t bare to wait any longer and blurted out the first one to the holographic man, regretting that the delivery wasn’t as smooth because of it :: Renos: Did you just move from the subdominant to the supertonic? Because I think you’re my perfect counterpoint. Traenor: Heh, actually I believe that it was a variation of the mediant… wait, what did you just say? ::The J’naii winced at the sudden jarring break in the music and the way he clearly looked put off by nir comment. The colour of Renos’s face deepened further and ne felt the heat rising. Sweat formed on the palms of nir hands, the back of nir neck and back. This wasn’t the reaction ne’d expected. Ne’d been so nervous and shy that it must’ve come out as incoherent babbling and ne didn’t have the guts to repeat it. :: Renos: I was… just admiring your music… ::Sheepishly:: Traenor: Oh, okay. ::chuckle:: For a moment there, it sounded as if you were making a pass at me. How silly of me, right? I mean, not that there would be a problem with it. Er, not that it would be appropriate. ::vehemently:: Or inappropriate! ::big pause:: I need a drink. :: Renos felt increasingly flustered and looked away, wondering what to say. The thing that really struck nem in the heart was the question of how appropriate it’d be. This wasn’t a primary concern for nem, after all ne’d broken dozens of J’naii rules and helped others do that too, so clearly this wasn’t a deal breaker for nem. It was troubling because ne valued nir relationship with Starfleet and the Federation a great deal more than nir homeworld and didn’t want to unduly put at risk a career ne dearly loved. :: :: Gordie got up and poured them both a drink, leaving nem feeling confused and surprisingly vulnerable. Ne couldn’t help but notice the difference between the portions in the drinks and eyed the glasses with mild suspicion. Did the subroutine running the holographic Traenor not think ne could handle the same amount of drink? Did he simply not pay attention to what was being poured? That made even less sense. This was most unexpected and strange considering nir last experience here. :: Traenor: Perhaps I should try another song. How about this one? Renos: Whatever makes you happy. :: Renos listened to Gordie’s next song a while, letting the awkwardness of the failed attempt wash away while considering what went wrong. After a bit, ne decided to select the next one to try and plucked up the courage to deliver it. When the opportunity presented itself, ne tried again, this time trying to be more seductive without being overly obvious. :: Renos: Did you just move from V to I? Traenor: Yes, I did. Good catch! Why do you ask? Renos: Because I think you’re perfect. Traenor: I can assume that you’re talking about the chord switch, because that makes sense in a literal fashion. Or I can assume that it’s a thinly veiled attempt to ply me with a flattering compliment, in which case I’m left to wonder - why? ::suspicious glance:: What exactly are you doing? :: So far nir experiment into human dating had been a shuttle crash of embarrassment and mixed signals. It felt as though ne was navigating a minefield. The complexities involved were mind boggling, frustrating and clearly not getting nem anywhere. If ne’d learned anything from this experiment it was to stay clear of it. The pick up lines were a disaster. Ne couldn’t work out if there was a problem in the delivery of them or if ne’d crafted them to be too subtle. Was this simply a quirk of the holographic character’s programming? Perhaps there was simply a missing element, like touch. Ne hadn’t found a way to work this in yet and while the atmosphere seemed charged, ne hadn’t felt a kiss would be appropriate. :: Renos: ::With a creased brow:: What is it with humans? Why must you tip toe around your emotions so? Are you embarrassed by them or is it the fear of rejection that’s created such a complex yet hit and miss dating system. Help me understand why your people can’t just talk plainly. Traenor: I-- I don’t-- :: Ne really needed to get Gordie out of nir system. Ne still had niggling doubts and concerns over the appropriateness of all of this. It was hard to properly relax knowing the dubiousness of using a holographic character modelled on a real person anyway. Now was the time to say what needed to be said; maybe that would release those pent up emotions. :: Renos: I’m trying to tell you that I find you attractive. You’re handsome, very handsome, charismatic and funny. I just want to be with you. I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not but I can’t get you out of my mind or my heart. It’s exciting, alien and even a little scary but I’m tired of fighting it so do you reciprocate or not? :: Renos looked at him intently, waiting for a straight answer, wondering if ne’d get one. There was no doubt ne’d put him on the spot but then it wasn’t really him. Ne’d opened up nir heart but it was easier to do knowing the person you intended the words for was out of earshot. The admission was probably the first time ne’d been completely honest with nemself, so was refreshing and a weight off nir mind. Ne knew, should ne meet rejection here then exposing nemself to the real deal was out of the question. At least it’d put matters to rest one way or another. :: Traenor: Darn you, Renos! :: Renos was shocked by the growling response and initially took it to be rejection. Ne was caught off guard, swept up and trapped in a tight embrace before ne had a moment to process what was happening or what it meant. With his hand cupping nir neck, he leaned in, kissing nem hard. There was no room to retreat and nir senses were overloaded. Renos felt nir desire for him spike sharply. Caught by surprise and inexperience, ne was clumsy and highly self conscious because of it. Nir body tensed and stiffened up as ne floundered and struggled to cope with such a strong display of affections and the powerful emotions it brought out in nem. Just as ne had when the holographic Traenor had acted seductively the last time, ne felt nir level of anxiety rise as panic set in. :: :: The captain had dreamed about this so many times. Ne couldn’t believe the way he smelled, the way his skin felt as ne brushed the side of his head with nir fingertips, or the way he tasted. The experience was far more vivid, far more real than expected. Renos wanted him so much but at the same time was overtaken by terror until finally ne pushed him back forcefully. Ne couldn’t allow nemself to get too involved with a hologram, this wasn’t how it was meant to be. Suddenly filled with doubt again ne wondered what exactly any of this had achieved except to prove just how much this man could influence nir emotions. :: Renos: Computer. End Program. :: Renos’s eyes widened and ne stared ahead in disbelief when Traenor failed to vanish. Ne was terrified about the possibility of a malfunction and deeply regretted creating the program. Increasingly ne began to wonder if ne’d tricked nemself about the benefits of doing this. Ne was always on edge as it seemed ne was only ever two steps from discovery. The colour drained from nir face and ne gulped hard. :: Renos: ::Quietly, with befuddlement:: I don’t… What’s going on, why are you still here? Traenor: Why am I still here, pulse racing and out of breath? Fine question to ask! Let me ask you, what are YOU doing here? :: Slowly the pieces of the puzzle started falling into place. The reactions that had seemed not so much off but different - less robotic and more organic than before. Nir face burned red as ne took a step backwards, covering nir mouth with the fingertips of nir right hand. Soaring anxiety left nem feeling somewhat light headed and dizzy. :: Renos: oO ::Horrified:: What have I done? It’s not… It can’t be… Oo Renos: ::Apologetically:: Sorry! Ignore me. I’m babbling. I should go though. :: It was a really stupid thing to say and ne regretted it instantly. Nir mind was buzzing but not forming coherent thought. Traenor had never spoken to nem like that before and while ne could hardly blame him it still hurt. Renos was increasingly mortified and angry at nemself. Ne’d known this was a foolish idea from the get go but had put aside inconvenient facts and downplayed them until ne’d convinced nemself to do it anyway. As an ex-mental health professional ne knew ne should’ve known better and felt a particularly strong surge of guilt and shame. Ne didn’t need to be an expert on behaviour and body language to see how Traenor was hurting and it made nem feel a stab of pain. :: Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here! ((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A)) ((Concurrent - 2nd POV)) ::Although he had a piano in his quarters, Maxwell Traenor was content to open his personal program on the holodeck and play piano there. Being designed and based on a fond locale from his past, it was where he preferred to go and play when he wanted some quiet, nostalgic reflection. He practiced in his quarters, with it being a relatively sterile environment, but here, in the warmth and comfort of the bar, he created. Sitting at the piano, swaying gently to the tune that emanated forth from his ministrations, he let his mind wander aimlessly.:: ::It came as a bit of a surprise when he heard the distinctive whoosh of the exterior holodeck doors faintly through the simulated leaden glass portal of the holographic bar, and his thoughts instantly went to one person. There was only one individual who ever entered the sanctity of his privacy unbidden. Noros Tanna. But that made no sense, as she had been transferred off the Darwin, so it was with great curiosity that he awaited the arrival of the interloper.:: Renos: Hello Gordie. ::Brightly while checking nir red PADD and then stuffing it away.:: ::Letting out a huge sigh of relief and smiling broadly, Maxwell turned to face his friend. Compared to who he thought it might be, he was very happy to see the J’naii captain. He had fully feared that Noros was back and up to her old tricks, so this was a nice surprise.:: Traenor: Renos, I’m so glad that it’s you here right now! Renos: Of course it's me. ::In an amused tone:: ::Grinning even wider, Maxwell was struck with how easy going and natural Renos seemed right then. As of late, there had been a certain kind of tension between them. Nothing tangible, nothing terrible, just a difficulty in keeping eye contact, or conversations that faltered slightly where before they would flow naturally. It had started sometime over the previous shore leave, and Maxwell wasn’t sure why. But the old chemistry was back, and in full force, so he intended to take full advantage of it.:: Traenor: Why don’t you come take a seat, and we’ll get some music started. ::Expecting nem to take a seat at a bar stool next to the piano, Maxwell was surprised when Renos moved in and scooted him over on the piano bench. Willing to play along, he made room and locked eyes with Renos as ne looked at him expectantly.:: Renos: Actually, I thought I'd show you what I've been working on. ::Showing a surprising bit of initiative by tinkering with a topic that he didn’t know his friend had any interest in, Maxwell was bemused by the genial, playful manner of Renos. He had missed this side of his friend for so long, that he was going to encourage it for as long as he could. With calculated, deliberate movements, ne placed nir hands on the keys and played a faltering yet passable primary musical scale. Eyes wide in surprise and mirth, Maxwell wondered when Renos had decided to try nir hand at playing the piano.:: Renos: Ah well. I don’t have the same deftness or lightness of touch you do but perhaps we can agree that at least it wasn’t so wooden. Perhaps I’ll leave the piano to you. ::Unable to take his eyes off the newly invigorated J’naii as ne looked back at him, Maxwell was almost at a loss for words. From the recessed, protected, withdrawn individual over the past several weeks to this… outgoing, smiling, eyes bright and mischievous… he couldn’t process it. But, he sure could relish it. Spilling into one of his face-splitting grins, Maxwell took the challenge and decided to try his hand at a Vulcan piece that had inspired him during Kael Thomas’s promotion ceremony a while back.:: Traenor: Oh, I don’t know about that. That was a pleasant surprise, and I hope you keep at it. I thought it was wonderful ::The compliment seemed to give Renos pause for a moment, as now it seemed that perhaps ne was at a loss for words. And it might be Maxwell’s imagination, but it almost looked as if ne was sporting a slight blush.:: Renos: Did you just move from the subdominant to the supertonic? Because I think you’re my perfect counterpoint. ::The tune stopped momentarily, in a discordant sound. Though fluent in the terms of musical theory, over the years Maxwell had learned to play intuitively, and hadn’t needed to think about the notes he was playing, but rather just breezed through by touch. Trying to think back to the notes he had been playing a few bars back, and digging through the archived theory he hadn’t referenced in a long time, caused his fingers to temporarily tie up in knots. With a nervous chuckle at his error, he resumed playing.:: Traenor: Heh, actually I believe that it was a variation of the mediant… wait, what did you just say? oO Did you really just say what I think you did? Oo ::Being a plain, unassuming person, and a scientist to boot, Maxwell tended to look at the literal, logical context of words first and foremost. It meant he was slow on the uptake when there was subtext or innuendo. And if he wasn’t mistaken, that last phrase was heavy innuendo. Now it was his turn to blush.:: Renos: I was… just admiring your music… ::Sheepishly:: ::There was no way that Maxwell was going to let Renos backpedal out of that unexpected statement. Was it a come-on line? Just the possibility of it made his heart flutter with emotions that he had been suppressing and resolutely discounting for months now. Yet, the rational part of his mind sternly told him that it was an inflated weight placed on innocent words, a desperate grasp to make more out of a closeness that had been conspicuously absent as of late. Far too late, Maxwell tried to affect a calm, flippant air, as if he took Renos’s dismissive answer at face value. However, it just came out at awkward.:: Traenor: Oh, okay. ::chuckle:: For a moment there, it sounded as if you were making a pass at me. How silly of me, right? I mean, not that there would be a problem with it. Er, not that it would be appropriate. ::vehemently:: Or inappropriate! ::big pause:: I need a drink. ::All too quickly, Maxwell arose from the piano bench and went to the bar. Grabbing a bottle of brandy and two glasses, he came back and sat down at the bench again. He poured up a sizable portion for himself, and a reasonable one for Renos. He put his drink back in one long pull, feeling the warmth spread through his midsection and invigorate him. Though the holodeck only dispensed replicated synthehol, the psychosomatic effects still instilled him with liquid courage and he was able to recollect his composure.:: Traenor: Perhaps I should try another song. How about this one? Renos: Whatever makes you happy. ::Switching to a simple, melodic composition, Maxwell took a few moments to mull over what was happening here. Renos had entered his program unbidden, though that was hardly an issue, just uncharacteristic from nir recent behavior. Ne was lively, friendly, provocative, all the things that Maxwell wanted from and craved from nem, and yet it all felt off, somehow. :: Traenor: oO How can ne know what I want from nem, when I don’t even know myself? Oo Renos: Did you just move from V to I? Traenor: Yes, I did. Good catch! Why do you ask? Renos: Because I think you’re perfect. ::Again with the provocative statement. He didn’t stop playing this time, but Maxwell did turn his head to fix Renos with a questioning stare. This conversation was getting eerie. The two of them had never talked this way before, and he wasn’t sure why it had suddenly started. Though ne was flush with emotion, Maxwell had a twinge of intuition that ne was testing him, trying different methods to get a reaction out of him. But to what end? What precipitated this? Was it the change in their professional dynamic? Was it a release of pent up stress from their recent encounter with Raikenoff? Maxwell was flattered and heady from the attention from his dear friend in ways he dared not admit to himself, but it was so far out of character that it was too jarring.:: Traenor: I can assume that you’re talking about the chord switch, because that makes sense in a literal fashion. Or I can assume that it’s a thinly veiled attempt to ply me with a flattering compliment, in which case I’m left to wonder - why? ::suspicious glance:: What exactly are you doing? Renos: ::With a creased brow:: What is it with humans? Why must you tip toe around your emotions so? Are you embarrassed by them or is it the fear of rejection that’s created such a complex yet hit and miss dating system. Help me understand why your people can’t just talk plainly. ::Maxwell was certain his jaw had dropped, and his ears were ringing with the words that Renos had just said. Emotions? Rejection? Dating!? He was so confused, and his racing pulse did not help matters any. He felt lightheaded and weak. He could hardly formulate a coherent thought, let alone verbalize the jumbled mass of conflicting ideas tumbling through his mind.:: Traenor: I-- I don’t-- Renos: I’m trying to tell you that I find you attractive. You’re handsome, very handsome, charismatic and funny. I just want to be with you. I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not but I can’t get you out of my mind or my heart. It’s exciting, alien and even a little scary but I’m tired of fighting it so do you reciprocate or not? ::The J’naii had the audacity to sit there, ramrod straight, and look at him with intent earnestness and anticipation. No sense of impending “Gotcha!”, no sense of theatrical sleight, just plain honesty. Maxwell wanted to slap nem. All the repressed emotions that he had worked so hard to discount, dissuade, and discredit seethed just beneath the thin veneer of self-control that held them in check. There was no lying to himself any more. Renos was more than a friend to him, ne was an object of desire. A paragon of traits and skills that Maxwell had coveted for a long time now, eliciting emotional urges from him with greater and greater intensity as time passed. And now, to have nem sit before him and profess a desire that matched the one he had tried to deny himself, for fear of impropriety and rejection? It was more than he could bear. With his heart bursting in equal measures of fear and elation, he growled a response.:: Traenor: Darn you, Renos! ::In one quick, fluid movement, Maxwell swept Renos to nir feet and swooped in closely. Wrapping one arm around nem in a tight embrace, he used his free hand to cup the back of Renos’s neck. Fingers entwined in nir silky, thick black hair, he pulled nem in and kissed nem fully. Savage in his intensity, his senses exploded in a fireworks of sensation overload as he breathed deeply, gripped tightly, losing himself in the tsunami of emotion that overwhelmed him. Lost in the moment, he didn’t even notice Renos tense and stiffen, until ne pushed him away forcefully.:: Renos: Computer. End Program. ::The holodeck environs froze, then whooshed out of existence, leaving Maxwell staring at an obviously startled and frightened Renos.:: Renos: ::Quietly, with befuddlement:: I don’t… What’s going on, why are you still here? ::Now it was Maxwell’s turn to be confused and upset. What did ne mean, “why are you still here”? Ne had led him on, drove him past the point of self-restraint, brought out emotions and urges that he had carefully crafted to be so hidden as to even deny them to himself, and the response was “why are you still here”? Heightened by the surge of adrenaline that still coursed strongly through him, Maxwell’s response was harsh and accusatory.:: Traenor: Why am I still here, pulse racing and out of breath? Fine question to ask! Let me ask you, what are YOU doing here? Renos: ::Apologetically:: Sorry! Ignore me. I’m babbling. I should go though. ::Hurt, confused, angry, and vulnerable, Maxwell fell into an ingrained stiffness and formality, infused into him by Starfleet, that really had no place or appropriateness in the current conversation. He could tell the words stung its audience as soon as they left his mouth.:: Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here! ((Holodeck 1, Deck 7 - USS Darwin-A)) ((Continuation - Combined POV)) ::What had started off as a nice, relaxing visit to the holodeck for Traenor and Renos each had devolved wildly into confusion and mixed signals as each discovered the disparity in the others purpose for being there. Hurt, confused, angry, and vulnerable, Maxwell fell into an ingrained stiffness and formality, infused into him by Starfleet, that really had no place or appropriateness in the current conversation. He could tell the words stung its audience as soon as they left his mouth.:: Traenor: I don’t think you should go anywhere, Sir, until you explain just what is going on in here! :: Renos stared with mouth agape, struggling to figure out just what to tell the man. Part of nem really hoped this was a malfunctioning holoprogram but intuitively a deeper part of nem knew it wasn’t so. Ne glanced towards the control panel near the door frame, feeling the urge to run over there and find out where the real Traenor was and how ne’d stumbled so blindly into this situation. Renos: Okay… I can explain. Just, uh, there’s been a bit of a… small… mixup. ::Struggling to reply coherently or confidently:: Traenor: Were you expecting a holographic version of me? oO That’s it, isn’t it! Is it true? Oo See, the way it looks to me is that you’ve been using my personal holodeck program to do, well, who knows what with a holographic doppelganger that you’ve cobbled together of me! How long has this been going on? The last few months that you’ve been distant with me, you’ve been cavorting with a shallow approximation of me? Is that it? ::It stung terribly for Maxwell to think that somebody he considered as his dearest friend would be content to ignore him, while secretly experimenting with a fake version of himself. In his private sanctuary no less, a holodeck program that he had painstakingly fostered over many years and hardly ever invited people into, let alone allowed others unfettered access to. And experimenting romantic gestures and overtures on a pale shadow of himself? It made a mockery of all the confusing emotions and attractions he had buried for so long now towards Renos.:: :: That sounded and felt harsh to nem, more harsh and awful than how ne’d seen things anyway. It occurred to nem belatedly that this whole terrible thing had been about control. The J’naii had known well enough how ne felt, but being so unfamiliar to nem, so new, it had left nem uncomfortable. Renos had wanted to control these romantic feelings and urges yet it had become clear during nir first encounter with the program that they were stronger than ne’d thought they could ever possibly be. When controlling them and making them go away hadn’t worked ne’d been forced to reconsider nir intentions. This was about controlling how ne expressed nir feelings, about controlling nir friends reaction, testing to see whether he would reject nem. Figuring out what to say, how to say it to get a reaction ne could feel comfortable with. It was motivated from a place of intense fear. It wasn’t about pursuing romance with a figment of nir imagination to the detriment of their friendship - but the result was the same. :: :: As difficult as it was, there was only one thing ne could do now - come clean and tell the unaltered truth. If ne did that and was sincere in nir apology perhaps ne could be forgiven in time though ne didn’t hold out any hope their friendship would survive. The outcome ne’d sought so hard to avoid by using a hologram - rejection and permanent damage to the most valued friendship ne’d ever formed - was happening right before nem right now. It was truly heartbreaking and perhaps it was no more than ne deserved. :: Renos: It’s not like that, I swear. I’ve only used the program twice… well once actually. ::Quickly correcting nir error. :: :: This would’ve been the second time had ne not carelessly barged in on Traenor using his own program. :: Renos: But it’s not and never was intended to act as any kind of replacement for you. It was a bad, bad, stupid idea and I regret it completely. I was only using it to analyse my own feelings in what was supposed to be a safe environment, look for ways to impress you and find an adequate way to express my feelings without… hurting our friendship. Renos: oO And a fine job I did there. ::Remorsefully:: Oo ::Maxwell stood throughout Renos’s pained explanation with his arms rigid against his sides, hands balled into fists to try and control the torrent of emotion he was feeling. He was trying to make sense of that very emotion, to place a name on it in order to face it and deconstruct it before it consumed him. Was it a sense of betrayal? That didn’t feel quite right, though there was definitely a sense of that in there. Indignation? Some, certainly, thinking of a holographic version of himself being used like a puppet. Anger? Tons of that, though it was mere shading to the true emotion. And that emotion was fear. Fear that he had been duped into expressing his true passions for Renos, when those passions were not reciprocated. Fear that the resultant mistrust and awkwardness would poison and wither the strong friendship that these two had cultivated over so long. The power dynamic being what it was between them, and that he had made the overt advance that had been rebuked, stung him with shame and embarrassment. Despite his best effort, he could hear the woodenness in his own voice, tinged with just a touch of malicious barb. It sickened him to speak such, but he hurt too much to avoid it.:: Traenor: ::but a whisper:: I never would have kissed you had you not… oO had I not been conned into playing the fool Oo ...had I known that it was unwanted. If I could take it back, I would. :: Renos felt crushed, like nir heart was breaking to hear of his regret. Ne wasn’t sorry for the kiss. Ne was sorry for nir reaction to it. It was clear the J’naii had a problem that needed addressing before ne would be capable of being a good partner to anyone. Nir response came slowly because it was carefully considered and completely honest. Under these circumstances and after what ne’d done he deserved the truth even if it was incredibly difficult to express, especially for one who valued privacy so highly and so rarely confided anything in anyone. When ne finally had the courage to say it, all of the words tumbled out as ne hurried to get the painful admission out. :: Renos: I do want it! I just wasn’t expecting it and you were so intense. I’ve never been intimate with anyone before and I just… I just panicked. ::Placing nir fingertips to either side of nir face in distress:: This is all so messed up. All because I was too scared face my feelings and face you. Fear or rejection, fear of being embraced only to disappoint you with my… inexperience, leading to rejection… :: Renos had started rambling and pacing, ne could barely stand to remain in the room a moment longer. Ne only remained and put nemself through this because ne recognised this problem was of nir own making. Ne remained because ne hoped to make him understand. A tiny flicker of hope burned for forgiveness. Running out of steam and not sure where ne was headed with it all any more ne trailed into silence. :: ::Maxwell could hear the conviction in Renos’s words, but the memory of how ne had recoiled from his touch and pushed him away still burned like a raw wound. The caress of nir fingertips lit his senses on fire anew, but he didn’t think he could handle yet another rejection should Renos decide again that this was all too much too soon. He stepped back as his counterpart paced slightly.:: Traenor: You’re right. This is all so messed up. I need time to think. I need to figure out what just happened. I need space to digest this. I need… ::angry sigh:: I don’t know. :: The emotional pain that came with his words was unbearable and unlike anything ne’d ever experienced before. Renos began to believe that allowing nemself to become in any way close to anyone was a mistake. Nir only attempt at it had gone so catastrophically wrong ne never wanted to feel like this again. Ne couldn’t cope with it and wanted to raid the pharmacy for drugs that would dull nir emotions and take them away, take the pain away. An intense wave of rage bubbled to the surface, anger at nemself for all the decisions that had let to this and all the pain it had caused. Ne thrust nir hands out with fingers splayed and raised nir voice at him. Even though he hadn’t said it outright, this was clear rejection in nir mind and ne deserved it. :: Renos: You need space? Fine! I’ll give you all the space you could want. Good day! :: Renos turned towards the door and exited just short of a run, pushing back tears of anger. How could ne be so stupid? None of this should have happened. Ne was filled with such self loathing that ne could quite easily punch nemself in the face repeatedly. In nir mind Traenor had been completely ripped out of nir personal life, it really felt as if ne’d lost a limb. Their friendship was in tatters and they were going to have to work side by side as Captain and First Officer every day with this horrible wedge between them. It was enough to make one consider retirement but ne knew that was just the impulse to run talking and pushed it away. :: ::As Renos left, every fiber in Maxwell’s being screamed at him to stand up and run to nem, sweep nem up in his arms, apologize profusely for being such a boorish fool, and kiss nem again and again. His arm actually raised, reaching plaintively towards where the heavy holodeck door was already closed, before he realized what he was doing. And like that, ne was gone, and with nem went every ounce of happiness within him. Spent, morose, he grabbed the bottle of brandy that the two had shared. The cut glass bottle screeched a piercing scratching sound as he dragged it clumsily along the polished finish of the piano, though the sound didn’t even faze him. He brought the bottle up and gulped sloppily, letting the numbing warmth of the synthetic alcohol fill the void he felt. Boorish fool, indeed.:: END Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Executive Council Member =/\= Captain's Council Member =/\= Promotions Coordinator Cadet Steward =/\= Publicity Team Facilitator =/\= FWPA 2015 Co-Facilitator =/\= A238805EB0 ~and~ LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor - First Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Graphic Contest Taskforce =/\= Characters Guild Co-Facilitator A239111MT0
  7. ((USS Darwin, Deck 7, Personal Quarters)) ::Kael was a creature of habit. He liked to maintain a schedule and achieve certain things while on every shore leave. It’s not to say that he didn’t like the touch of spontaneity or surprise but just that his shoreleave tended to look much the same every time. Which is why he was sure that no one would be surprised by his need to visit the Gym as much as possible during shore leave. Although, he hardly imagined anyone particularly cared to give it a thought. Entering his quarters he realised he had failed to organise with Ensign Logan to join him, and made a mental note of it next time. Working out alone wasn’t a problem for Kael, but doing it with someone else allowed him to push his boundaries a bit higher.:: ::Showering and getting changed Kael sat on the corner of his bed, put on his shoes and pondered the rest of the day. Having just worked out food was his first plan of attack. There were a few places on the Promenade that he favoured but he had heard there was a new place open. Deciding that is exactly what he was going to do, he stood up and headed for the door.:: Renos: =/\= Captain Renos to Commander Thomas =/\= Thomas: =/\= Thomas here =/\= Renos: =/\= I’m holding a little get together tonight for all of the senior staff and a few friends. I felt the crew have had to deal with so much recently that it would do us all good to enjoy a meal together. =/\= ::Smiling as if the Captain could hear his thoughts about food, Kael was glad the crew was getting a chance to get together. They had worked incredibly hard of late and any opportunity to recognise that would be most welcome.:: Thomas: =/\= I think that’s an excellent idea. Is there anything I can do to help? =/\= Renos: =/\= It’s all arranged. I’m about to make the announcement to the rest of the crew. All you need to do is turn up at 20:00. Oh and it’s a dress white occasion. =/\= Thomas: oO Dress whites? Oo ::Kael had been around often enough to know that wearing dress whites almost always indicated something else was happening tonight. Not one to raise conspiracy theories whatever the reason was for tonight, he was enthusiastic. The man actually liked the idea of dressing up formally, but he would have rathered, if the Captain wanted a formal attire to be allowed the freedom of civilian dress.:: Thomas: =/\= Understood Captain. I’ll see you there. =/\= ::Having checked the time recently, he knew that he had more than a few hours before the event. His dinner tonight would not derail his plans to have an amazing lunch right now and proceeded immediately to the Promenade.:: ((20:00 - Deep Space 6, Deck 21, Function Room A1)) ::Kael always ensured he had plenty of time to dress himself when the occasion called for dress whites. So formal was the occasion that looking as though you’d spent about 30 seconds getting ready was obvious to all and entirely unprofessional. Taking pride in one’s appearance didn’t seem unnecessary to Kael, but important. Particularly in his case, being a senior officer it was important to set a good standard to model for the junior crew. Finally satisfied with his appearance, he stepped into the room.:: ::The room was large and well dressed with decorations and people in various places around the room. Central to the room was numerous round tables already housing well dressed staff. Immediately in front of the middle set of chairs it was hard to miss the stage setup which at least confirmed there would be some announcement or platform for a speech. Unsurprised by it all, Kael turned to Captain Renos who was just inside the door.:: Renos: You look so smart your mother would be proud! ::Kael’s eye twitched every so slightly. It was entirely involuntary but brought on by the reference to his parents. Very seldom had anyone made reference to Kael’s parents during his career. The single reason being that they were not a presence in his life. They had chosen to remain on Earth and were in various conditions of ailing health. Captain Renos had certainly never met them and the reference to them certainly caught him off guard, and took his mind back to them. A place it hasn’t been for some time.:: ((Backsim - Several years prior)) ((USS Vigilant, Personal Quarters, Deck 2)) ::There were a few days of shore leave left, and Kael was planning today, to just spend them in the Gym and the Holodeck. He thought about seeing if anyone would want to come along, but decided he's just wing it. He was ok with heading out on his own.: ::Dressing in his casual Gym gear, he grabbed a towel and headed towards the door, when he was stopped by his communication terminal.:: oO Incoming call from Mum. Wonder what she wants? Oo Thomas: =/\= HI Mum =/\= Jolaina: =/\= Hi Kael, how are you? =/\= Thomas: =/\= Yeah good. ::Pausing a moment, and asking the question he knew his mum was waiting for.:: How's Dad? =/\= ::Kael had a good relationship with his Mother, but his father clashed with Kael often. It wasn't that they didn't like one another, they just were so similar. Throw in that Kael never seemed to match up to his expectations tends to create for fiery discussions.:: Jolaina: =/\= He's good. You can talk to him if you want? =/\= Thomas: =/\= Nah Mum, I don't think we have much to discuss for a few years. =/\= ::Their last discussion was during Kael's leave of absence. Kael spent a few months at home, when his dad became quite ill. His dad had a difficult time accepting his compassion, and simply used it as an excuse to attack his career goals. Had Kael been a rational observer of it all, he might have realised that his dad was under a great deal of stress, and his ego couldn't allow his son to be helping him. But he wasn't, he felt the target of an unneeded attack from someone he was trying to help. The situation remains unresolved.:: Jolaina: ::Making a face displaying her disappointment, she move don.:: =/\= Well, when are you coming home? =/\= Thomas: =/\= DO we really have to do this again. How well did coming home last time work out? =/\= Jolaina: =/\= You know what your Father is like, he doesn't really mean that stuff....=/\= ::Kael wasn't really sure if his mum was naive or genuinely believed that. Her face indicated however that she did believe it.:: Thomas: =/\= As a matter of fact I think he does. =/\= Jolaina: =/\= Ok, ok, well, have you spoke with your brother lately? =/\= ::Kael hadn't spoken with his brother since the last mission. He knew he was going on something also dangerous himself. He assumed it ended up fine, as he hadn't got that fated call. Nor did his mother open with this question.:: Thomas: =/\= Not for a while. Why's that? =/\= Jolaina: =/\= He's not responding to my calls. =/\= ::His mum had a propensity for blowing things out of proportion. Anthony was extraordinarily busy, as was Kael. There wasn't always time to report in. Kael was ok with assuming he was fine, and talking to him whenever he could.:: Thomas: =/\= He's Chief of a Department mum. He doesn't always have time to answer every call. =/\= ::A fact she knew all to well having been in Starfleet herself for the majority of her working life.:: Jolaina: =/\= I guess. I only want a few minutes though. =/\= ::If Kael wasn't on a video call, he would have smiled to that comment. His mother rarely was only wanting a few minutes. :: Thomas: =/\= Yeah, well, If I speak to him, I'll make sure he gets in contact with you. =/\= ::Kael and his Mother both knew, that no one controlled Anthony. Of the pair, it was clear that Anthony had infact inherited their Father’s stubbornness.:: Jolaina: =/\= How are you going anyway? Still Chief Engineer? =/\= Thomas: =/\= Yeah. It's going well. We just got a few upgrades, which could change our discovery of the region. =/\= ::Kael was going to say what it was, but he didn't know if this communication was being monitored. He didn't need anyone else knowing the Vigilant now had a Slipstream Drive.:: Jolaina: =/\= That sounds exciting.::Pausing:: We are very proud of you, you know. =/\= Thomas: =/\= I know mum. =/\= ::Speaking on behalf of his dad had become the norm for Kael’s mum. His father and his relationship so strained that Kael could not remember the last positive thing his father had to say about him. His Mother now entirely shouldered the burden of trying to mend that gap.:: Jolaina: =/\= Well, that's all I really wanted to say. I'm glad your doing OK. Please come home for a visit soon. =/\= Thomas: =/\= Thanks Mum. I'll talk to you later. =/\= ::Deliberately ignoring the request for the second time.:: Jolaina: =/\= Bye Kael, Love you! =/\= Thomas: =/\= Love you too Mum. =/\= ::As the link closed, Kael took a moment to pause. He did love his family, and he did miss them. But they were fine without him ,and he knew his mother never really dealt with the fact that him and his brother both moved away. He could imagine living with his father, was moderately difficult for her. :: ::Getting up from his chair, he moved towards the door, and out to the Gym just like any other day..:: ((Present Time)) ((Deep Space 6, Deck 21, Function Room A1)) ::Turning his head back to the Captain, he warmed to the comment. It was a nice one, and one meant with no ill intent despite the complexities of the comment for Kael.:: Thomas: Thank you Captain. Renos: You get the best seat in the house today. Come on, let’s get settled and you can tell me about how your shore leave has been. ::Renos led Kael over to the middle of the three front row seats. There were enough seats for 5 people and Kael thought nothing of the other occupants. Simply assuming it was likely other Darwin crew yet to arrive or someone important from the Station. Sitting comfortably on the chair, Kael got to talking with the Captain; a too rare of an event for the two of them. :: ::Sipping from his recently filled glass of wine Kael was enjoying himself. He had only been here for a few minutes but he’d already gotten to share and learn much more about the Captain in that short time then he thought they’d managed since launch. Kael wasn’t one to strike up events or conversations like this, but he wasn’t one to shy away once invited either. Grateful for the opportunity, he had to stop talking as the Captain made a move towards the stage area.:: Renos: Since it's been a while with the crew I just wanted to share a few words. Excuse me. Thomas: No problem. ::Renos stood up and took place at the centre of the stage a short distance from their table. With a gold curtain backgrop the Captain certainly popped and yielded a great presence. It took mere moments before the room took notice of an impending announcement and ceased their conversations.:: Renos: ::With a Clap of hands the Captain got things underway.:: Ladies and gentlemen, crew of the USS Darwin, it’s my great pleasure to be back in command and with you all again. We’ve been through some incredibly testing times together this year and got through it as a team. I couldn’t be more proud of you all and felt we all deserved a moment to enjoy each others company and reflect upon our successes. ::Kael could not have agreed more. The last few missions had been trying and difficult for all involved. The Captain in fairness had probably shared the brunt of that with the health concerns. The chance to get together and celebrate the crew's great work and their bond with each other was an excellent opportunity and further highlighted the great things the Captain was doing.:: There are a few people I’d like to recognise today beginning with a man who has been the Darwin’s backbone since the day it launched, as in originally launched. A man who has an unrivalled sense of justice and always wants to do the right thing. Whose hard work, dedication and passion are unrivalled. Thomas: oO Mmmm Oo ::The pit of Kael’s stomach churned. There was a crescendo building and Kael felt it centering on him. He expected dramatically for there to be a spot light that might track to him any moment requiring him to have to slink under the table. Kael could handle surprises but only so long as they weren’t centred on him. Looking up at the Captain, he had no idea where this was going, with the only certainty being that his anxiety was building.:: Mister Thomas, you’re been with the Darwin and with me since the beginning of our journeys and I couldn't have got through it without you, so get yourself up here so you can get what’s been coming to you for a long time. ::It took a few seconds for Kael to register the request. His head was busy spinning with what this could possibly be all about. Standing up, Kael moved with enthusiasm and thinly veiled curiosity stop stand up near the Captain who made no effort to hide a smile..:: Thomas: Thank you, for the kind words Captain. Renos: You’re an outstanding officer and it is my absolute pleasure to promote you to the rank of commander with all the rights and privileges that go with it - but I’m not going to pin you - no. I was pipped at the post by some very important people. ::The announcement alone was enough to almost floor Kael. He’d worked hard these last few years but never felt as though the giddy heights of a Commander promotion were yet within his grasp. His heart racing at the news Kael did not need to wonder long about the Captains other final piece of information.:: ::As the veil fell, three people appeared in it’s place. His family. There was his Father. Completely stunned for a moment, Kael baulked at what to do next. Torn between appropriate behaviour and wanting to run to his family and the realisation that they were barely a family he was stuck. In the back of his mind were all the times he slammed the door on his father, the times they yelled abuse all the times that his father didn’t care about his development or his existence. His anger at the man kept his feet planted like boulders bolted to the ground. His indecision was ultimately assisted by his father moving. Kael’s father moved towards him with the traditional rosewood box in his hands. Had Kael met his Father's face however he might have realised that something was different.:: Thomas: oO Dad, how is this possible? Oo ::Kael’s father had dementia that Starfleet Medical to their credit had tried for years to cure or at least provide a remedy. They had been unsuccessful from Kael’s knowledge and the evident worsening of his Father's condition. It was his Father’s condition and attitude, even during his most lucid moments that drove Kael away and to break off most of his contact. That’s not to say that before his dementia he was a shining example of a man, but it was his cutting comments during the last few years that destroyed their relationship. :: ::His last engagement with his father was one of anger and frustration not unlike all before it. To see the man in front of him, his Father, now looking at him with life in his eyes was too much for Kael. The deep seated hatred, resentment and anger were gone from behind his eyes. Replaced was his Father, smiling from ear to ear with a face that Kael hadn’t seen since he was a little boy. Something inside Kael gave way. The little [...] inside of him that held back all of this resentment and anger broke. Tears streamed down his face despite his wishes to hold them back. He’d never expected to see his dad again least of all like this, least of all with the look of pride on his face.:: ::His Father still surprisingly silent replaced the half pip on his collar with a full one. Kael wiped his eyes with the back of hand and turned to his father. The strong, stubborn man who raised him, now shared the same red eyes as Kael. :: Reynold: Congratulations son. ::They embraced longer, and harder than Kael could ever remember. The tears fell from their closed eyes onto one another’s shoulders as though they were meant to. The void in their relationship that Kael once felt was impossible to mend had all but closed in this one moment. He cherished the embrace and the moment for as long as he could. Opening his eyes he saw his family, he could see Anthony and his Mother with their arms around each other looking at the bonded pair. Kael smiled at them with the deep knowledge that they were closer to being that family unit his mum had always tried for.:: ::Pulling back from the embrace naturally Kael looked at this father, who by all rights shouldn’t be as lucid and as clear as he is right now. His eyes were alive and the cloud that was on his mind lifted. He knew that question would get an answer shortly, but right now, he developed a sudden realisation he was still standing on a stage, and the applause was alive. Wiping his eyes as though he was a little boy on his shirt sleeve, and turned around to compose himself.:: Renos: Congratulations again Commander. ::Grinning:: ::Captain Renos. The J’naii that Kael didn’t even know before his most recent posting on the Darwin had done more for Kael than almost anyone he had known. The simple act of bringing his family here, to bring them together had changed his family. From this day forward they had a new shot at it and for that Kael wouldn’t never forget what was done here. What Captain Renos had done for him and his family, without even knowing it.:: Thomas: Thank you Captain, but this time, a handshake won’t cut it. ::Kael hated involuntary hugs and contact. But none of that apprehension would stop Kael's riding of emotions right now. Renos was his Captain and he wouldn’t ever consider hugging his Captain, but right now, he considered Renos a friend. Friends deserve a hug.:: =============================================================== Commander Kael Thomas - First Officer, USS Darwin-A NCC-99312 Academy Statistician, Calendar Master, Training Officer V238010KT0 ================================================================
  8. ((Corridor, Deck 8, USS Darwin-A)) ::Iniko and Iy set off down the corridor, wandering aimlessly. Iniko couldn’t remember the last time jhe had just walked around without a destination in mind. It was not exactly peaceful. Jhe was still agitated and the bright lights and occasional people passing by were irritating and left jhea feeling exposed. Jhe tried to steer jheas mind away from the uncomfortable thoughts.:: Mpeba: We never really got a chance to talk back on Zakdorn, with all the . . . ::jhe shuddered and let that sentence trail off.:: I mean, we worked together, but I don’t know much about you personally. What sort of things do you like to do? Iy: ::switching to a more serious tone:: I don't do a lot for fun, unfortunately. Before I arrived on the Darwin, life was a bit hard. Being a refugee on the run from your own people is a full-time endeavor. ::ne paused, then lightened up:: But, there's lots of fun things to do now! I'm particularly fond of phaser drills. Reading Starfleet regulations? Not as much! How about you? Mpeba: ::jhe let out a huff of laughter:: I guess I’m still finding that out. I liked to run, but that’s . . . well, it’s a long story, but that isn’t happening at the moment. Some reading, fiddling with mechanical things. Those are pretty low key, though. There’s nothing to spend my energy on at the moment. Probably part of why I exploded back there . . . Iy: That's a shame. It's important for everyone to have an outlet. We could always go and shoot targets in the range... ::Iniko wasn’t a big fan of that idea. While jhe could use a phaser for engineering tasks without trouble, shooting targets was just a step closer to shooting living beings, close enough that jhe would break out in cold sweats and jheas hands would shake. It wasn't something jhe could do to relax anymore.:: Mpeba: I guess so. I don't think that would be a very calming exercise for me though. Iy: ::laughing:: I didn't think so, but it didn't hurt to ask. But it's not so bad here, on the Darwin. I mean, we have a nice ship, a good crew, ::non-committally:: a decent captain. ::Iniko wasn’t sure what to make of that statement. Jhe had assumed that the two J’naii would get along, but Iy didn’t seem particularly enthusiastic about their captain. Perhaps the situation was more complicated than jhe had thought. Jhe didn’t want to alienate a new friend, but jhe felt jhe had to defend their absent captain. At the same time, jhe tried to keep jheas words measured, not wanting to begin another fight so soon.:: Mpeba: Ne is more than decent. I couldn't imagine a better captain. ::The look jhe gave Iy would not brook disagreement, but ne did not seem inclined to argue. In fact, ne started talking about how Renos and some other person jhe hadn't met had rescued nem from bounty hunters and given nem refuge in the Darwin, leading to nir request for asylum. Iniko couldn't understand how ne could be lukewarm about Renos after such an introduction. But then, on second thought, maybe jhe could understand. Jhe remembered vividly the few months after escaping Til'ahn and taking refuge in the Federation, how even when jhe was theoretically safe jhe still saw a potential Romulan operative in everyone jhe met, coming to take revenge. For Iy, having been hunted down by nir own people, trust must be even more difficult to find. Jhe tried to reassure nem that Captain Renos was trustworthy by recounting a few stories of jheas own about nem. Jhe quickly realized, though, that jhe really didn't have many stories to tell. Jhe hadn't been aboard very long, and while jhe trusted nem wholeheartedly and would gladly defend nem at any cost . . . jhe didn't really have the history with nem to back that up. Jhe pushed the doubt away for the moment, to contemplate later in private.:: ::Iy was beginning to look a little contemplative nemself. Jhe was just about to suggest that maybe they should part ways for the moment when ne stopped outside the arboretum. Iniko hadn't been paying any attention to where they were as they walked, having been so caught up in jheas own thoughts.:: Iy: I apologize for talking so much about Renos. Certainly, though you can see how for someone like me, seeing how ne got to the position ne is in is inspiring. But, enough of that. I'm going to pop in here for a little while, and actually make the rounds I was tasked to do. What are your plans now? ::Iniko hadn't actually given that a thought, but the answer was right in front of jhea.:: Mpeba: The arboretum is actually probably the most calming place on the ship. I should stay here a while and think some things over. Iy: Very well. It was great talking with you. I hope we get more opportunities to do so again in the near future! And no more fights with uppity scientists! ::Ne affixed jhea with a genuine grin, and Iniko couldn't help but smile back. Jhe was grateful that ne had come along before jhe had done something jhe would really regret, and ne had been easy to talk with. There was potential there for a good friendship.:: Mpeba: I'll do my best. Good luck on your rounds! ((Arboretum, Deck 8, USS Darwin-A)) ::Iniko followed nem into the arboretum, but found a secluded corner and sat on the ground, leaning against the trunk of a small tree. Jhe had no intention of mediating or attempting fielding practice today. Jheas mind was overflowing with thoughts and feelings that needed to be sorted through and examined, but jheas main purpose here was simply to become calmer. Jhe leaned jheas head back and watched the leaves of the tree rustle in the light artificial wind. It wasn’t quite like home, just reminiscent of it enough to create a sense of peace. There were no voices here, no people bustling about and possibly giving jhea disappointed looks. It was the ideal place to relax.:: ::And still . . . something niggled at jheas conscience, that had been bugging jhea since that conversation. Why had jhe felt such immediate loyalty to Renos? Jhe had read nir Starfleet bio of course, before joining, but it had been pretty standard for a Starfleet captain. And yet jhe had immediately felt curiosity and even hero worship, which had solidified into a sense of loyalty and an odd attachment upon meeting nem. Jhe knew the explanation for it, of course, it just felt a little shallow.:: ::Jhe had always looked for a mentor growing up. So much was expected of a young lom, especially after making first contact, when jheas mother had retreated into one of the most conservative sects of Laudean religion, trying to shield her children from alien influences. With that shift, the pressures on Iniko to act as an ideal lomale increased, but Chioma had not had the personal experiences to be able to mentor jhea. She had tried, once, to find a better mentor for jhea.:: ((Flashback, 11 Years Ago)) ::Iniko's mother had that worried look on her face again. She was talking with a friend, and as usual they had been discussing the aliens and their bad influences, how they were destroying Laudean culture and values. Iniko always felt nervous when they talked like that. Jhe wasn't sure what sort of things the aliens had planned for them, but jheas mother always made it sound like they were lawless pillagers, out to take every resource of their world and steal all the lomales to breed their own race of fielders. Jheas mother usually seemed most worried about Iniko’s future during those discussions. She was off the comm now, and came over to talk to Iniko.:: C. Mpeba: Iniko, come with me. I have someone you need to meet. ::Iniko nodded and followed along, trying to be properly demure. Chioma sat jhea down on the seat next to her and started another call. It took a few moments to be picked up, but when the picture appeared it was of a serene and elaborate garden, full of carefully pruned trees, delicate flowers and exquisite sculptures. The person sitting in the middle of all of this was a handsome lomale a few years older than Iniko's parents. Jheas hair was piled in an sophisticated knot on jheas head, and jhe wore finely embroidered robes of a shimmery and slightly translucent fabric that showed glimpses of jheas form in the afternoon sunlight. Iniko was entranced. This was what jheas mother kept pushing for, and jhe had never been able to grasp. This person was poise and elegance and sensuality personified. Iniko didn't believe jhe could ever achieve such a thing, wasn't entirely sure jhe even wanted to. But it was certainly a beautiful sight.:: Chalor: Hello, how can I -- why, Chioma, isn't it? What a pleasant surprise! C. Mpeba: Sawat, it's so good to see you again! Chalor: It is always a good day to see you, my dear. How have you been? It's been far too long. ::The older lomale’s drawl was hypnotizing, but jheas words made Iniko blush. Jhe was finally starting to grasp who this person was, and the images that conjured up were not something jhe wanted to contemplate.:: C. Mpeba: It has been too long. So much has happened recently. But that isn't what I called you about. I wanted you to meet our child, Iniko. ::The lomale on the screen flinched, momentarily losing jheas composure. A moment later jhe had it back, but the smile jhe offered Iniko was weak and brief.:: Chalor: Hello, child. Would you mind running in the other room for a moment? I need to speak privately with your mother. ::Iniko wasn't sure what to make of that reaction, but given jheas mother's crumpled frown, it hadn't been what she had been hoping for. Iniko felt guilty, wondering if jhe had done something wrong, or if it was the lomale on the call who had disappointed her. Chioma turned to Iniko, though, and gave jhea a small nod in the direction of the open doorway. Iniko stood and left the room as quietly as jhe could, but stopped as soon as jhe turned into the hall. Jhe leaned against the doorframe, just out of sight.:: Chalor: Chioma, what were you thinking? I thought we made this clear in our agreement! C. Mpeba: But Iniko is your only lomale child! I checked the coven records! I thought jhe would mean something to you, especially now that jhe is approaching the age of apprenticeship! Chalor: ::sternly:: I don't know how to make this any more clear. You and Akinade I would be happy to see again, anytime. You two have always been wonderful fun. But the . . . results of those encounters? I want nothing to do with them, regardless of their age. That was made clear from the very beginning. They are yours, not mine, not in any sense. This child is not my responsibility, and I am entitled to no part of jheas life, nor do I want any. C. Mpeba: But, surely if you just spoke to jhea for a moment. Chalor: Do not press this, Chioma. It is a thoroughly inappropriate request. I will not be a part of this conversation. Goodbye. ::Iniko felt jheas throat close up. Jhe stifled jheas anger as best jhe could, but a little squeal of indignation escaped. What jhe was saying was perfectly reasonable, of course. Iniko was well versed in the basic tenets of lomale duties, even if jhe struggled with the more complicated aspects, and this was about as basic as they got. Lomales had no rights or responsibilities regarding their offspring, except in extreme circumstances. Chioma opting to pursue this in opposition to the decrees of the Fielding League she respected so much spoke volumes about her worry for Iniko's future. But it had been for nought, and now they were both humiliated.:: ((End Flashback)) ::That rejection had stung. Later there had been other lomale teachers, trying to coax jhea down the right path, but those relationships had always ended in disaster, as one after the other finally despaired of teaching Iniko the arts of seduction.:: ::Years later, when jhe had finally arrived in the Federation and there were no more behavioral expectations laid upon jhea, jhe had thought things would be easier. They were, actually, much easier. But nonbinary gendered species were few and far between even in the diverse halls of Starfleet Academy. There wasn't even a standard set of pronouns for other-gendered persons in Federation Standard. Jhe had ended up borrowing the lomale pronouns from the Laudean language, even though they sounded odd when speaking a different language. At least they identified jhea correctly. But that had been just one example of the many small hurdles jhe had had to overcome as a lomale in Federation Space, and later in Starfleet. When jhe had seen Renos would be jheas captain, there had been a hope that maybe here, finally, was someone who would understand, who might be able to help jhea navigate the complexities of a binary society. They hadn't discussed it yet, and Iniko had later learned that the Captain's relationship with gender was even more complicated than jheas own. Still, the idea remained, that somehow jhe had finally found someone jhe could emulate. Jhe didn't know if it was a good reason. Jhe didn't even know if it was a valid reason. In fact it was a rather frustratingly vague reason, but jhe remained stubbornly attached to the idea.:: ::Jhe sighed and thunked jheas head back against the tree trunk a couple times, frustrated with jheas own thought process. Jhe was more agitated than ever. Silence was clearly not the calming influence jhe had been hoping for. Jhe got up and brushed jheaself off. Maybe there were still some people in Natural Selections.:: Lieutenant JG Mpeba - Engineering Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Image Collective D239205IM0
  9. D'oh! Man, I gotta stop posting when I'm bushed after work! Thanks for the fix, Admiral!
  10. ((Deep Space 6 - Deck 79, Sickbay Complex, Recovery Room 17)) :: Fingertips gently caressed nir exposed stomach as ne lay on nir back. The sensation was slightly ticklish and very pleasurable causing nem to grin impishly. Renos let nir hand tenderly slide up nir partner’s arm as ne rolled onto nir side. Nir gaze travelled lovingly up his body to his dreamy blue eyes. He had the most charming smile and lips that demanded to be kissed. Pulled by the forces of attraction Renos slowly leaned towards him with parted lips. :: :: Todd felt relaxed and happy as he listened to the J’naii’s soft murmuring and the beautiful sound of a heart beating just the way he liked it. After everything he’d done for the Captain he felt very proud and deserved this moment. :: :: He sat cross legged on a seat next to his patient’s bed entering the results of the electric therapy. He had successfully trained Renos’s heart to beat naturally again but it would still take a recovery period to tell whether things would remain stable or not. :: :: Vivid dreams were highly common after being on the medication he’d used during the procedure so he wasn’t really surprised to hear Renos talking in nir sleep or mumbling incoherently. He remembered a similar experience when he’d been in hospital after the shuttle crash that ended his racing career. He’d dreamt of being a boy again and coming home, excited to see everyone. He'd talked to them all at length as he came into the house. Minutes wore on but there was no response as he searched room by room for them. He realised the house was empty and no one was there. It was like they’d left home without him. He’d been horrified to wake up crying as he had been in the dream with it still very clear in his mind… :: :: He had no idea what Renos was dreaming about but hopefully nothing so unpleasant. Todd grinned at the dark haired patient when ne woke up just minutes later looking surprised. Nir dream was probably still fresh in nir mind too and ne was probably wondering where ne was. :: Manius: Still in sickbay Renos. How are you feeling? :: Waking up came as a bit of a reality shock to Renos. Ne was disappointed to find ne’d only been dreaming but also confused about the sexual nature of it. The J’naii had never previously had much interest in anyone leading nem to the conclusion ne was asexual. Ne had always regarded sexuality as fluid, although perhaps more for some than for others. Was this indicative of change? Perhaps ne simply hadn’t found the right person before… Then again maybe these emerging feelings wouldn’t amount to anything meaningful. Ne tried to rationalise them and wished ne were alone to do so. Todd was sitting next to nem, looking at nem. :: Renos: Hi Todd. I'm okay, I think. A touch groggy... Manius: So… who is Gordie? Renos: Gordie? Manius: Yeah you mentioned him in your sleep. :: Todd had heard the name recently but couldn’t place it yet. Renos turned a deep shade or red and coverd nir face with a pillow. The J’naii was glad to know Todd was no mind reader but what had ne said? How much did he know? Nir embarrassment wasn’t completely lost on Todd who hadn’t expected the question to create such awkwardness. :: Renos: I dunno… ::Sheepishly:: ::Suddenly it hit Manius like a bolt and his eyebrows hit the roof. :: :: The chief science officer… Renos had called him Gordie. Hadn't ne? Traenor had tried to sneak in to see Renos, which had been completely unnecessary as he'd have been allowed passage if he’d asked. He remembered chastising the man for glomping Renos leading to his almost immediate departure. Todd didn’t have to see his boss’s face to know nir heart rate was elevated, it was written all over the bedside instruments. All of this, coupled with having witnessed previous interactions had the medic picturing the two of them as a couple. :: Manius: oO Renos and Traenor? They kept that quiet. Oo :: His face broke out into a wide grin and he tried to save his commanding officer any further embarrassment. He was sure ne was eager to hear the results of the medical procedure. :: Manius: Well if you listen carefully you’ll be able to hear the very sweet sound of success. The procedure worked as intended and your heart is now beating in a regular pattern. Obviously the recovery period will be telling but this really is a big step forward. :: Renos came out from behind the big flumpy pillow and cried tears of joy and relief. That meant ne would soon be reunited with Gordie. And the rest of the crew. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from nir shoulders. Ne wasn’t going to have to leave Starfleet and take up full time work with the J’naii underground. :: Renos: Thank you Todd, thank you so much. Manius: You’re welcome. Just remember we’re not out of the woods yet. Once you’ve had a few days rest we’ll need to test you under various conditions to ensure your heart can take the rigours of the job. :: Further treatments were a possibility if needed but if every time the J’naii had to exercise hard, or deal with stressful situations the atrial fibrillation reocurred then resuming nir career might not be an option. He didn’t want to put a downer on things but also wanted to keep some perspective on things. :: Renos: Of course. :: Ne said it in an almost dismissive way and Todd really hoped ne was taking this seriously. As a former medic he was sure that ne would know as well as anyone how big a problem this could be. Then again when you were the patient it wasn’t always easy to see things clearly. He supposed Renos couldn’t really be blamed for wanting to cling onto the hope ne was through the worst of it now. :: Manius: I’ll be back in a few hours with dinner. Any special requests? :: Renos shook nir head, Todd finished what he was doing and took his leave, satisfied that ne was stable enough to be given some space. As soon as Renos was left alone ne snuggled back in and thought back to the dream still at the forefront of nir mind. Ne couldn’t help but feel a little guilty. Maxwell was a valued colleague and nir closest friend. Few people ever got close to nem but somehow the man had sneaked under nir radar and stolen nir affections. The J’naii was having trouble making sense of it all and wondered if ne was putting too much thought into it all. :: Renos: oO Come on, it was just a dream. It doesn’t mean anything. Oo :: Or did it? :: Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A FWPA 2015 Co-Facilitator =/\= Publicity Team Facilitator A238805EB0
  11. What a great question! Whenever I have a question like this I can't answer about Star Trek, I go to the Star Trek simmer's best friend, Memory Alpha! (well, second-best friend. SB118 Wiki is the best) Taking a look here, you'll find all the sports that were listed in a canonical reference. They run the whole gamut from old Earth favorites to alien activities, from single player sports to team tournaments. Take a gander through the list, and see if you can find that special sport that matches your character perfectly!
  12. ((Deep Space 6 - Deck 20 - Race Spectation Area.)) ::She had joined the crowds as captain Harrington took the stage. Her lunch or second lunch as the case was with Walker had been quite enjoyable. She had not expected to open up to her as much as she had wanted Luna to do. She had told her things no one on the ship knew, things that she had not even told her spouses. It had been enjoyable, and she had more in common with Luna than she would have thought. After hearing the crowd praising Ugly Baby she felt a great deal of pride for her crewmates on the winning team. She would give them her personal regards when they were all back on the ship instead of fighting her way through the crowd to congratulate them now. She would take the time to give the Deep Thought team her compliments as well their AI driven ship was quite a curiosity. After getting through the crowd she made her way to where the the food and her Uncle in law would be. Spotting his table she saw he was quite busy when she entered the area. Many people had also found their way over to the buffet tables all stuffed to brim with food from local station eateries. She started to walk up his table from behind when she stopped about ten meters away. She realized one of his assistant chefs at the table looked more familiar than he should. :: Lyldra: No. It can’t be. ::She looked again at the three figures at the table serving up sandwiches and shimmershell puffs. One was Meko her co-husbands cousin and the largest one in the middle was Garll. The third was not one of Garll’s other two assistants, no it was unmistakably her co-husband Brell. He was in civilian clothing and here on the station serving food she could have been blown over by a feather. She scanned around the room and there she saw Hars sitting at table near by looking dour.:: oO What are they doing here? Oo ::She should have felt happy to see her spouses but she had been avoiding contacting them. She wanted to stay on the Darwin but did not know how to tell them without sounding selfish. Maybe it was selfish they were a month from not just being married but a family of five and she wanted to keep running off on adventures. She wanted more time, she almost turned away to leave and at least she would have until they came looking for her.:: oO Frell, what am I going to do! Oo ::She stood and watched them, Brell was much like his uncle in appearance though Garll was the brother of his co-father. Both men were heavy-set as was common for Bolian males but Garll much more so. Both were chatting it up with the tables patrons and fulfilling another Bolian stereotype of talking too much. Hars was another matter he was tall slim and for a Bolian quiet, he had recently come out of his shell when he moved to Til’ahn to be with her and Brell. There he could not get away with hiding in a lab all the time, though he was still often prone to brooding. Her being pregnant had made him much worse than usual and there was part of her that had been glad she was away and didn't have to deal with it. Even though she knew his overbearing worry was out of love for her, it did not make it any easier to listen too. His face showed it all as he sat there looking at Brell help his uncle. She could see the worry in that furrowed brow and pursed lips she longed for his warm smile to replace it.:: oO If you don’t move soon they will spot you. Oo ::She exhaled and started walking toward the table. It felt to her like each step was taking at least five minutes though time was passing normally. With each of those forever in a moment steps she still had to fight the urge to run off.:: ::Hars saw a blue figure through the crowd it was was her … Finally. He stood and went to get Brell he could not tell if she had spotted them there but if she had it was better they both be ready to greet her. After getting his co-husband away from serving food their spouse was now only a few paces away and they started walking towards her. She looked nervous and he wondered if everyone had been right in their warning that she could take them showing up unannounced the wrong way.:: ::She was still shaking off the feeling to run away, she had weeks yet she kept telling herself, weeks to figure out how to tell them her desire. Now they were five meters in front of her and walking towards her looking happy as she should be. She did smile as they got closer even unsure as she was she had been missing them dearly. The three reached each other and with out speaking each raised their arms and pressed forelimbs together then embraced. After they parted Lyldra spoke first.:: Lyldra: What are you two doing here? Brell: Well as you know the last mission at the Embassy had us thrown back in time, and well we saw an altered timeline I can’t say much but there was no federation no anything as we knew it. Hars: After that we had to see you not after your next mission and what ever convoluted event happens in the galaxy. ::Lyldra let out a little giggle at Hars’ cynical remark. It was just like him to say something like that. Hearing it made her miss statements like that from him even if they usually caused her to roll her eyes at him. She wanted them to be with them so badly, but she was not ready to give up on her new found career in starfleet.:: Lyldra: I can understand that, after my last mission and the effect it has had on the crew I’m glad to see you both as well. Brell: And look at you you're as big as a shuttlecraft! Are they still doing somersaults in there like you said it felt like? Lyldra: Yes the one on the right is bouncing about now. ::She guided his hand to that side of her distended belly. Brell almost jumped out of his blue skin when he felt a kick against his hand. It was unlike anything he had ever felt before he had been around plenty of pregnant family members before. But this was his wife and that was their child he had just felt.:: Brell: That is amazing, Hars feel! ::Their slender co-husband placed his own hand beside theirs on her stomach. He first felt a kick on his arm the touching her left side, then from under his hand. It startled him as well and all this became instantly much more real to him. He smiled for the first time since they were here last time all together. He gripped Brell’s shoulder for emotional support.:: Hars: ::Nearly tearing up:: It is amazing. Lyldra: You got the other one going. We ... we need to talk but can we sit please. Brell: Of course. ::He took her arm and Hars took the other the three found an open table and there finally she told them of her wishes. Hars’ head did not explode, Brell did not have to choose sides and she didn’t have to restate her words over and over. The dread she had built up over talking about this turned out to be over nothing as they simply and rationally talked about their family's future. Garll joined them after the festivities had nearly ended and they relocated the conversation to his Deli. He made them dinner and offered a few helpful comments. The hour grew quite late and she got them clearance to board the Darwin from it’s nightwatch deck officer so that the three of them could all sleep together in her quarters. They had not come up with a definite plan even after talking all evening but she was amazed in what they were willing to do for her. Never before had she been so sure that she had picked the right partners to share her life with. As the three of them all curled up together in the rather small double bed she felt more at ease than she had since leaving Til’ahn to come here.:: TBC/NT Lieutenant Brell On Extended LOA & PNPC Hars Vlin Oceanographic Scientist & ===================================================== Lieutenant (J.G.) Lyldra Diplomatic Officer/Counselor/FDC Attache Uss Darwin NCC-99312-A Graphics Team Member E239109B10 =====================================================
  13. ((USS Darwin-A, Deck 8, Shuttlebay)) ::Iniko tightened another bolt on the port driver coil and rechecked jheas calibrations. Still not quite perfect, but jhe didn’t think jhe could get the mismatched parts to align any better than that. Jhe had spent the last hour getting the coils within acceptable safety margins. This had seemed like a great idea at the time, but it was taking a lot of work to get all these parts to work together, and jhe was starting to have misgivings that it was even possible. Jhe called up to see how jheas partner was getting on.:: Mpeba: Any luck up there? ::In the [...]pit, Ren was fussing with the control layout. Their plan to combine parts from many disparate origins into their dream ship was turning out to be more like a nightmare. Even after centuries of peace between their makers, Andorian wires and Tellarite voltage regulators still didn’t get along. Anyway, it was easy to hear Iniko from below, considering how few floor panels they’d managed to install.:: Rennyn: We’re getting there! ::The Trill’s optimistic assessment sounded strained. His constant belief that everything would turn out for the best was being put to the test, and his good intentions were stretched thin by the lack of successes their project had seen so far. Not to mention the disappointments they’d suffered together in their last misison.:: Mpeba: Would you give the impulse engines a flick and let me know what happens? Rennyn: You got it. ::Sounding tired after all the struggles with the little monster they planned to enter in the Deep Space 6 Shuttle Race, Ren flipped the switch, then looked down through a section of open floor to see what Iniko thought of the progress.:: ::Iniko moved jheas hands out of the way, making sure jhe wasn’t touching anything when it started. The noises coming out of the little shuttle were much louder than they ought to be, with too many things slightly out of tune. There was no knocking or wobbling, though, that was something. Jhe shook jheas head ruefully. That was a terrible standard to be holding jheaself to. “Probably not going to shake itself to bits the moment it leaves shuttle bay” was not going to cut it. Jhe glared at the offending part, trying to will it into acquiescence. When that failed, jhe crawled out from underneath the shuttle and climbed up into the [...]pit, slumping down in the copilot seat.:: Mpeba: You can turn it off now. Not good enough. ::In the pilot’s seat, Ren did a little slumping himself, sitting back from the control board, not sure he ever wanted to see another self-tracking LCARS illumination filament as long as he lived. He usually had an easy smile to smooth over rough situations, but he couldn’t even fake a lopsided smirk through the frustration he was feeling.:: Rennyn: This is going about as well as a targ at a tea party. I don’t know if we can get any more of this junk to work. ::To emphasize the point, he dropped a spanner. It clattered away farther than he’d planned, down through the open deck plating, to some place down below.:: Shoot. Mpeba: It isn’t really . . . ::sigh:: No, it really is that bad. These things just aren’t made to work together. Rennyn: I’m usually not one to call it quits, but I don’t know about all this. You know, I’m just about to haul off and lose my temper with this lowlife batch of broken down-- ::He trailed off, biting his lip. Ren hadn’t lost his temper recently. An incident on his previous ship had landed him in a mess of hot water over a fit-to-be-tied outburst he’d unleashed against a fellow officer. Ren still thought it had been justified, but one mandatory review course in Federation diplomacy later, and he knew there were more effective, more reasonable ways to deal with frustration. He’d done so successfully with Eleene, the administrator at the Zakdorn factory. But how to reason with a bunch of malfunctioning misfit machines?:: Mpeba: Maybe we should give it a little break? I mean, we’ve been spending all our downtime on this thing, and maybe we’ll be able to think of something if we leave it alone for a bit? ::They were falling behind on their alright very tight timetable, but jhe felt like they were beating their heads against a stone wall. They had been spending so much time here that even when jhe fell into bed at night all jhe saw were conduits and wires. Stepping back might delay them a bit, but jhe was starting to think they wouldn’t finish at this rate anyway.:: ::Ren considered it carefully. He was tired, and he was cranky, and he was looking for a fight with this slapped-together ship and its myriad malfunctioning parts. He was probably going to lose his cool if he didn’t calm down. The way Mpeba had lost it with Eleene in the factory, while Ren stood by playing the diplomat. He had no diplomatic inclinations toward this shuttle. Not unless diplomacy included kicking the dang fool thing’s dirty rotten--:: Rennyn: Yes. ::The Trill knew he was acting like an oversized baby. He wanted a nap, and he wanted life to be less overwhelming. He wanted this to be easier. After what they’d been through at the Zakdorn disaster site, the death they’d seen, the damage they hadn’t been able to prevent, he wanted something to go well. To be easy just for once.:: ::Iniko bent over and rested jheas head in jheas hands. Jhe thought it ought to feel like a weight had been lifted, but jhe really just felt slightly disappointed at the thought of walking away. The project was truly frustrating, but at the thought of letting it go, even temporarily, jhe just felt a little sad.:: ::For both their sakes, a win just now was exactly what they needed. Ren stretched his arms up high above him and inhaled sharply, shaking his head against the thought of quitting and changing his mind in an instant.:: Rennyn: No. If I stop now, I’m going to want to just chuck it. I’m going to crawl in bed and forget about this for days to come. I just know it. I’m not going to come back to this. ::He ran his hands over the console. They had to pull it together. They had to make it happen.:: Rennyn: We’ve got to keep going. ::Iniko quirked an eyebrow at him and laughed in surprise, despite jheas frustration. That actually made jhea feel a little bit better.:: Mpeba: Alright, then. Any strategies? ::Ren leaned all the way back in his chair and rested his hands over his eyes, fingers resting on the bridge of his nose in contemplation. Thumbs ran over his spotted temples as he tried to think what to do. They’d pieced together a half-built shuttle out of parts from all over known space. A Cardassian plasma manifold. A Bajoran warp coil. Cold gray Saurian deck plates laid over orange Ferengi beams. It was a Frankenstein’s monster of a ship. The parts they’d collected were diverse, and shouldn’t have worked. They didn’t work, not in the elegant, beautiful way they’d planned.:: Rennyn: A lot happened on that planet. A lot of things… fell apart. ::He looked Iniko in the eyes, and his own spoke volumes about what they’d seen. The haunting, pervasive presence of death that couldn’t fully be left behind.:: We did our best down there, but it didn’t all work according to plan. ::Iniko frowned at the memory. Why was he bringing that back up? Jhe was trying desperately to forget everything about that mission. The explosions, and toxin, the horrific cruelty involved in setting it all off, and the futility of trying to extract anything whole out of that mess.:: Mpeba: I’m not sure where you’re going with this. Rennyn: These pieces shouldn’t work together. They’re not working. But we still have the opportunity to make something out of it, maybe ugly, but whole and functional. Right now, I feel like all my optimism’s been sucked out at one go. This might be a way to turn that around. This is our chance to pick up the pieces and put something together. ::Jhe nodded slowly. This could be a sort of therapy, then. Making something new might combat those lingering feelings of guilt and inadequacy. The harder the task, the better. As long as it could actually be accomplished.:: Mpeba: My optimism is shot, too. I’m having trouble seeing it working out. But . . . I think you’re right. I think it’s worth doing. ::It seemed to be so. Despite exhaustion, both mental and emotional, this was their chance to feel renewed. They were building something fresh and new. It would do wonders for their morale. It would be beautiful.:: ((A few days later)) ::They stood back and surveyed their handiwork. It was ugly. Unbelievably ugly. But it worked! Mostly. There were some finicky components. The transporter couldn’t be engaged while artificial gravity was on, and the lights flickered whenever shields were put up to maximum. Reconfiguring the console layout while thrusters were engaged caused the starboard drive to cut out completely. Iniko was at a complete loss as to what was causing that particular fault. But it would fly like a beast, as long as nothing fell off. And they were out of time, so that would have to do.:: Mpeba: I can’t believe we actually did it. Rennyn: Our baby. ::It wasn’t pretty, but it was theirs, and the sense of pride they’d hoped to feel after all their efforts was undeniably present.:: Mpeba: You were right, you know. I do feel better. About things in general, I mean. Making this heap of scrap metal actually fly . . . well, I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something. ::Ren smiled at Iniko. He was feeling a little better, too. While the regrets of their mission to Zakdorn would never fully go away, building this ship had done something to rebuild their confidence.:: ::The Trill’s smile melted when he turned back to look once again at the shuttle. A shudder ran through him.:: Rennyn: Oh, it’s ugly! Mpeba: I don’t really think the name “Monster” is appropriate, anymore, though, you know. It’s so . . . fragile. Rennyn: Our baby. Our ugly, ugly baby… Mpeba: Should we call it that, then? “Ugly Baby”. ::Ren looked sideways at Iniko, not sure what to think. He nodded slowly, then a smile spread across his face, then he found himself laughing. After all the stress of the last mission and the intense concetration it took to build this ship, it felt good to find something funny.:: Rennyn: “Ugly Baby.” That sounds like a ship that can get the job done! ::The ship was built, and it wasn’t beautiful, but it was still something special. The construction was complete. All that remained was the see how it would fly.:: Lieutenant JG Mpeba - Engineering Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A D239205IM0 and LtCmdr Ren Rennyn - HCO Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A A239102RR0
  14. ((South Wing, Factory Complex - Zakdorn)) :: The Zakdorn elder walked slowly, his leg hurt. And his chest burned with every breath he took, probably due to the toxins he had inhaled. They were slowly leaving the facility, Starfleet officers had left and everything was now in Zakdorn hands. He slowly walked, while the flow of people walked faster and past him. :: Nalurn: Thanks... for everything... :: Through the pain and cough, he was talking to Airun, the young girl that had not separated from him since the initial explosion. He was walking now mainly thanks to her, that let him lean on her for support. :: Airun: You did way more to save all of us. :: The boys in their section, mostly young teenagers. He had tried to coordinate them until rescue arrived. Apparently they were all alive. But they were waiting for the cure to arrive. Thinking of the toxin, another cough fit rocked through his body. His vision started to blur, and he felt his balance failing. :: Airun: HEEELP! SOMEBODY! PLEASE! :: His vision blurry, he could hear the girl calling for help as he fell. And then, a sharp pain on his head. And darkness. :: ((Improvised Hospital in Town Hall, Nearby town, Zakdorn)) :: He woke up slowly. He felt a dull pain in his head, and his mind was struggling to understand where he was. He was lying on something soft, and could hear voices all around him. People crying, people shouting, movement, pain. :: :: Slowly, he opened his eyes to see a familiar face looking at him. Mareen, the woman he had loved for all his live. :: Nalurn: My love... Mareen: You are awake. :: He could see the sadness in the eyes of the old woman. :: Nalurn: What... :: Talking was painful. Luckily, Mareen could always understand his line of thought with nothing but the first words. : Mareen: You collapsed due to the intoxication. The people from the rescue team carried you here. :: He tried to incorporate, but his world became blurry again and he fell back on his makeshift bed. :: Nalurn: How bad is it? :: She didn't answer. Zuin had a brilliant mind, even in that state, and there was no way that she would be able to hide it. But she felt incapable of pronouncing the words. :: Nalurn: I'm... dying. Mareen: They say you refused treatment. You inhaled too much, and it is too late. Nalurn: I... the young... Mareen: I know. :: She knew. The young ones took priority when they were in the triage center. :: Nalurn: Village... Mareen: I know. :: She also knew. For Zuin, evacuating the village should have had preference over helping the facility. :: Nalurn: I'm too old... Mareen: I know that, too. :: Zuin knew he was old, even with a full treatment his chances of survival were slim at best. For him, getting help to other workers with greater chance of survival was the strategically right thing to do. She had loved him, she had loved his strategic mind all their life. A brilliant mind that had been at some point recognized among the ten best in Zakdorn, making him minister to the Stratigo for a mandate. :: Mareen: You... you didn't... have to... :: It was only obvious that if that brilliant mind ever reached the conclusion that the best course of action involved sacrificing himself, he would do that without doubt. She could not fault him for that. :: Nalurn: Don't cry... in... :: He could not talk. But it was too late, she was already crying. :: Mareen: I know. In the battle of Zash they lost because they were crying and their concentration was diminished. :: It was a story he liked to tell their children and grandchildren to teach them Zakdorn should not cry because that prevents clear though. The fact that in the battle of Zash the enemy used tear gas didn't seem to nullify his conclusions. At least not as a teaching parable. :: :: Unable to answer, the old man smiled and nodded, slowly. He had been so lucky all his life to have someone like her at his side. She understood him, she had a brilliant mind of her own even if she had never been appointed a minister. Although she would say her ability had more to do with empathy that strategy. :: Nalurn: Sell the... our children... :: Sell our house here, go back to the farm with our eldest child and their family. With the money for the house here, you can have a good life there, and our daughter look after you. :: Mareen: I know. Just... turn that mind of yours off at least for your last minutes with me. :: She slowly leaned and kissed him in the lips, trying to hold the tears. :: Nalurn: Hold... my... :: Another fit of cough took grasp of him. He could barely talk, his body hurt, and everything was blurry. He was feeling sleepy, and he wanted to rest. :: Mareen: I know. I will. :: She would hold his hand and let him rest his head on her lap, like she used to do when he was minister and was prone to long sleepless nights due to the stress of the job. :: :: Comparatively to the stress of those years, dying was relaxed work, Zuin Nalurn thought. Holding her hand, he though he needed some rest. And he felt he had earned it. Sleepy, he closed his eyes one last time. :: END ((OOC: Not everyone could have a happy ending.)) MSPNPC Zuin Nalurn Resource allocation supervisor Zakdorn Industrial Facility as simmed by Lt. John Valdivia - Science Officer - USS Darwin-A D238701JV0
  15. ((USS Darwin, Deck 1, Bridge)) :: As suspected the warship began to turn. Renos was willing to give Mister Jellico a chance. Ne’d had great advice and support from all of the bridge and ne believed in their ability to win this. So far they were managing to stick to the relative shelter of the tail. How could they lure the ship back to the planet without having to take the brunt of those forward weapons? :: :: Ne got up and quickly scuttled over to the science console where no took over. The J’naii Captain had enough of a scientific background to be able to confidently and proficiently take care of this task. No doubt Mister Valdivia would have been able to take care of this much better than nem but he was occupied helping with important matters elsewhere and having him report to the bridge would cost precious time. No… this was something ne needed to take care of personally. It would give nem great satisfaction to see this work. Fingers flew over the console to make sure everything was set up. :: Renos: I’m ready. Let’s do this. ::Unfortunately ne did not hear the responses because at that moment ne was engulfed by the familiar sensation and glow of a transporter beam. When the dark haired J’naii rematerialised blinking, on a comparatively dull bridge full of hostile faces. ((Unknown Warship - Orbit Around Zakdorn)) :: A tight knot of anxiety immediately formed in the pit of nir stomach but ne stood tall, proud and defiant in the face of nir captors. Renos was afraid but determined not to give them the satisfaction of seeing it. Standing in an aggressive posture ne cast nir eyes around the room and knew that if ne tried to do anything ne would be shot, possibly killed. Even if ne did nothing to provoke ‘Raikenoff’ ne may very well meet the same fate. The Captain remained frozen, barely daring to breathe. :: :: Renos had been chased all nir life. As someone who was genderfluid ne’d been chased by the J’naii government and deviant hunters who thought nit identification with a gender was some terrible illness, something shameful that needed to be corrected by terrifying, intolerable mind altering ‘treatments’. Ne’d escaped J’naii and decided to enrol in Starfleet to give back to the Federation after they gave nem back nir life. So Renos was not afraid to die and could easily imagine the government sponsored deviant hunters giving this guy a fat paycheck and pat on the back. If this was to be nir last moment ne would face it with courage. :: Renos: oO Death comes to us all but at least I have lived a good life in service to those who gave me freedom. Oo Tor'kath: Captain. Remember what I said about my patience? :: Renos tensed up. His tone, his body language and his words all painted the picture of bad things to come. The disruptor the captain carried was unholstered in what seemed slow motion. In a smooth motion ne saw if being aimed and moments after seeing the green light burst forth - there was nothing. Nir body crumpled and dropped heavily to the floor. :: :: When ne snapped back to consciousness it was to blinding pain that made nem cry out through gritted teeth in agony, while every muscle tightened uncomfortably. When the speckled white dots that clouded nir vision cleared ne found nemself in a small dark room. Looking around ne saw two individuals - only one of which was familiar - the captain. The other held what was recognisable as a Klingon pain stick. Nir mouth dried up as ne realised the ordeal ne was set to face. :: Renos: You’re digging a bigger and bigger hole for yourself and your crew, captain! ::Maliciously:: :: Starfleet did not look kindly upon those who attacked their vessels and kidnapped their commanding officers. The list of charges was lengthening by the minute. Whether ne lived or died ne knew that nir crew would do everything in their power to bring these people to justice for their actions. :: Tor'kath: Ah, Captain Renos! You're awake! That's good to see, you and I need to have a bit of a chat. :: Of course he did and whatever it was he wanted Renos wasn’t going to give him it. Instead ne narrowed nir eyes and glowered at him, projecting concentrated hatred at him. If it could only manifest itself into a physical form it would be a corrosive acid so strong as to dissolve the man before nem. :: Renos: I’m afraid I don’t feel particularly chatty today. Sorry! :: Ne gave him a false cheeriness despite knowing that no smart mouthed quip ever went unpunished. Unfortunately if the commanding officer was at all angered or annoyed he did a remarkable job to hiding it and it annoyed Renos considerably because ne was normally so good at reading people. It would have given nem great satisfaction to get under his skin because it would have taken some of the control back. :: Tor'kath: A Starfleet officer for over a dozen years... served on Starbase 118 and the USS Apollo-A before gaining command of the Darwin... ::looking up with mock surprise:: You are a doctor? How fortuitous! It appears you've suffered a bit of a contusion there. ::pointing at Reno's midsection:: :: Renos couldn’t help but glance down and grimaced a little to see it. That had come up quickly… or had it? How long had ne been out?! So… nir opponent had done his homework - bravo for him. That information wasn’t supposed to be easy to come by and ne wanted to know how he got it. For the briefest of moments ne entertained the idea of trying to trick him into thinking he’d picked up Iy, but it didn’t seem likely to wash. Maybe if ne’d been in civvies instead it might have stood a chance. What would it accomplish in any case? Ne sighed internally. :: Renos: oO It looks worse than it is. Oo :: Ne took little comfort in the thought because if it had felt bad before ne’d looked it felt even worse now. The worry of imminent death outweighed worry over the wound.:: Renos: oO ::Defiantly:: I’ll live! Oo Renos: oO Or will I? Oo :: Ne bit back nir first response because rather than hurry along the inevitable it was more likely to make them want to draw it out for spite. Ne had too much experience and was far too stubborn to play ball with this guy. :: Renos: So you can read… congrats. ::Sarcastically:: :: The captain appeared to be ignoring nir retorts and playing a similar nicey nicey game. Any moment now that limited patience of his would once again crack and perhaps Renos wouldn’t wake up a second time. Would it matter? Who would miss nem? The J’naii had a distinct feeling of loneliness was over nem. Ne’d been long separated from family and had only just started making friends with people on the Darwin crew. Other than that there was only nir contact in the underground and most of them had become numb to loss having seen so many comrades die. :: Renos: oO I’ll miss Traneor most of all. Well, not really… ::Ne realised how stupid a notion that was suddenly:: I’ll be too busy being dead to miss anything. Oo Tor'kath: As much as I'd love to sit with you and offer you tea, I've pressing matters to attend to. However, I'd like to ask you a few questions first. How you answer them will decide how quickly our conversation goes. Renos: You mean how long you draw out my death, yes? :: The answer came in the form of pain! Despite nir best efforts and determination not to let it show - it really was just too much. Ne howled in agony and strained against the restraints. Ne knew ne’d had that coming but still didn’t feel any more inclined to help. This could only end in death or if ne was particularly fortunate - rescue. The Darwin crew would try to get nem back. Ne needed to buy time. Not make nemself completely expendable by giving them everything they wanted straight away. :: Tor'kath: I haven't even asked the questions yet, and you've already answered incorrectly. Let's try again. Where are my operatives, and did you remove anything from my shuttle? :: Renos had no idea if the question about the operatives was a trap. Having transported nem from the bridge ne’d thought he would also have managed to collect all of his operatives. Was this a sign he was invested in both his people and the shuttle. Honestly Renos had no idea if Thomas or a member of his team had taken anything so whatever way you cut it he wasn’t going to like the answer. :: Renos: Someone-thing missing? :: Ne pulled a mock sad face as if someone had just told nem the last of some critically endangered species had just died. It was of course just a ploy to buy a little more time. One that was most likely to result in pain. Interestingly - or perhaps worryingly, the J’naii had been fortunate enough not to end up in situations this desperate in nir long career. Ne’d faced pain and peril - just, not like this. The anxious captain feared ne was about to learn the limits of nir pain tolerance all over again. :: Tor'kath: I want to ensure that all four operatives and everything that was on that shuttle have been returned to my ship. I don't want anything left behind that is none of the Federation's business. Do you understand? Renos: Shall we deal with one thing at a time? Tor'kath: Okay. Where are my two missing operatives? Are they still on your ship? Renos: I’m not sure I understand. Can you repeat the question again in Spanish? :: Renos didn’t even know Spanish and didn’t care. If he actually played into nir ridiculous games then that was the next thing he was about to learn. Maybe there was more to nem than what could be gleaned from a personnel file. Ne snorted, just stifling a snicker and knowing full well this was the most inappropriate time for it. Truth was, ne was pretty close to tears. With nir emotions in disarray and the overwhelming fear of torture till execution nir brain seemed to be trying to cope with dangerous results. :: =========================================================== Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A Also simming: Lt JG Tarna, Medical Officer, USS Victory NCC-362447 FWPA Co-Facilitator | Publicity Team Facilitator ===========================================================
  16. ((Small Town near Remote Industrial Facility, Zakdorn)) ::Aldur Inkaral mopped his brow and took another sip of the stew. Excellent, it was progressing as expected. Although, there was just a tinge of something . . . Ah, balroot, that was it. Just a little too much balroot. He adjusted the recipe in his head slightly to compensate, mentally weighing the different aromatic properties of the herbs at his disposal to find the one that would mask it. There could be no minor imperfections in this stew. Today was Minar's 11th birthday and he would ensure that she had her favorite stew just the way she liked it. Nodding decisively he reached into the storage unit and plucked a leaf off one of the bunches of herbs. He smelled it carefully to ensure its suitability, then frowned. He threw it away in disgust, but, no, it wasn't the leaf that smelled. He glanced down at his stew, horrified, but that wasn't it either. The window was open in a bid to attract customers, as the shift up at the complex would be ending soon. Aldur got up and walked heavily to the window and looked out to see a huge plume of smoke rising from one corner of the complex.:: ::He froze for a moment, unable to think. Then, no. No, no, no, there was nothing wrong. There was no fire. It was just a test. Yes. Aldur wasn't sure exactly what they got up to in that complex, and he didn't need to. That was for the really bright people to know, and he was fine leaving it at that. But Minar should have informed him if there was going to be something awful looking like that. She wouldn't have wanted him to worry. Then again, she was only a child. An extraordinarily gifted child, to be sure. She got that from her mother. But a child nonetheless. They must simply have not told her about this test, or drill, or whatever nonsense they were pulling today. But it was nothing to worry about, he was sure. He almost convinced himself, almost turned away. It couldn't possibly be . . . But now he could hear the warning sirens, and now there were people exiting the complex. Not in the cheerful saunter of people getting off work and looking for dinner, but a rushing mob, shoving each other to get away. :: ::Aldur felt the dread rise in his chest. That fear was always lurking whenever Minar was at work, that something would happen and he wouldn’t be able to get to her, might not even know about it. Now it reared its head and tore at his heart. He threw open the door and rushed out, hobbling up the road as best he could. Luckily the fastest runners from the complex came level with him quickly, and he grabbed one of their arms, trying to pull the man aside to beg an explanation. He pulled away and bent over in a coughing fit, but it didn't matter. The panicked look on his face told enough of the story. Another runner coughed and collapsed in a heap in the middle of the road.:: ::He looked up at the black plume hanging in the sky and for a moment stood petrified with horror at the thought he couldn't even bring himself to think. Slowly he moved one foot, then the other, and then he was running, too, he didn't know how, but he was running towards the complex and he had to get to Minar, had to get her out, but then someone reached out and grabbed him and he spun around, stumbled, and sat down hard on the edge of the road. :: ::He couldn't see clearly. There was a face hovering in front of his, but he couldn't make it out through the veil of . . . tears? No, they couldn't be tears, he couldn't be crying. Minar was fine, he just had to get to her, just hold her and make sure. He scrubbed his fist across his face and looked up at the person kneeling in front of him. Rican. A good friend, and one of the guards at the complex. He looked up and realized he’d made it as far as the gates. He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. She merely moved his hands away and stared at him worriedly. :: Inkaral: Minar! Did you see her? Where is she? Rican: Aldur, listen, you can’t go in there. ::Aldur wasn’t listening, he pushed her away and scrambled back up, walking towards the open gates as fast as he could make his legs go.:: Inkaral: I have to find Minar. Rican: You know that isn’t true. Listen to yourself. You can barely breathe now, you won’t survive the smoke in there. Think! ::He stopped and spun to glare at her. It wasn’t a very powerful glare, since he immediately bent over, clutching his knees and letting out a sob. He tried to compose himself, blinked more tears away and peered up at her from beneath the wisps of hair currently falling into his eyes. She glared back at him more effectively with steely grey eyes and pursed lips, auburn hair hanging limply in the still air. Unable to answer without his voice cracking, he took a moment to think for the first time since he looked out the window. Out the window . . . of his restaurant . . . where the stove was still on. Wide-eyed, he forced himself back upright and peered over Rican’s shoulder at the second little plume of smoke there. Rican looked around as well, and threw up her hands, presumably in disgust. Aldur hung his head, trying to think clearly through the despair flooding his brain. He looked to Rican, conviction written plainly across his face.:: Inkaral: I have to get in there. I have to find her. Rican: ::with a sigh:: Go home. Your restaurant is on fire. People will be panicking. ::she shook her head:: Aldur, you’ve never been the most reasonable person. ::Aldur nodded once, reluctantly, not meeting her eyes. He knew it wasn’t reasonable. He’d never been any good at tactics and reasonable decision making. That was why he was running a restaurant that was barely keeping afloat while his daughter supported them working on whatever top secret business they did up at the complex. If he’d just done better on the tests, he could have been the one working up there, and she wouldn’t be trapped in a burning building. And there it was, he’d finally admitted it. It was possible, of course, that she’d made it out, was just with a different group of people. But to the terrified core of his being, in the cold stone lump of fear that had been his heart a few minutes ago, he knew she was still in there.:: Inkaral: I have to make sure she’s okay. ::His voice was weaker now, lacking conviction. Some small portion of his brain was going ahead without him and mapping out a series of plans unclouded by fear. He felt betrayed by his own mind, but was powerless in the face of cold reason.:: Rican: There is help coming, qualified help. You won’t make it five steps inside. Go home. Make food for people. You understand that, if nothing else, so go do what you are capable of doing. ::Aldur bowed his head, defeated, and turned away. He spoke without looking back at her.:: Inkaral: Find her. Please. ::He walked slowly back down the road, putting one foot in front of the other. Nothing to do but keep moving. There were people swarming the shop and already that little fire was beginning to die out. But there would be no stew tonight, and no birthday. Just for tonight, though. Minar would be home and safe tomorrow. Clinging desperately to that conviction, he raised his head high, set his chin. He made it all the way back to the restaurant, to the blackened kitchen and the ruined pot of charcoal on the stove. Then he collapsed on the floor, buried his head in his hands and wept.:: =========================================================== MSPNPC Aldur Inkaral Chef ~as simmed by~ Ensign Mpeba - Engineering Officer, USS Darwin NCC-99312-A ===========================================================
  17. SECURITY FOOTAGE: The Rule of Balzog ((Ooyetirent Control Center, Asav, Five Years before the Gift of Zolrak)) :: In the center of the large operations center, Asavii Science Minister Atorin paced back and forth, waiting impatiently for the arrival of an important guest. Ooyetirent was in a remote mountaintop location, which was good for privacy and maintaining state security, but was horrible for arranging quick meetings. Still, the meeting had to occur here, where the genesis of an audacious plan had been formulated and hatched. The plan only had one chance of success however, and it hinged on the wildly exotic theories of one Professor Zuril. Science Minister Atorin had gained his position through political means rather than scientific ones, which meant that the Professor’s theoretical technology was beyond his ability to comprehend, but his advisors assured him that should the technology come to fruition, it would be the perfect tool for the radical plan. And, glancing at some of the display screens, streaming the news reports of protests and violence that were becoming more organized and numerous by the month, their plan could afford no delays. :: :: Professor Zuril arrived at the command center with the slow steps of his old age. He was considered one of the best scientists in Asav, and had received several prizes in these last years of his career. His mind, however, was more centered on furthering his research than on any recognition, and being called away for such futile matters disturbed him. :: Zuril: Minister. You asked for me. Atorin: I did, Professor. Thank you for agreeing to come here today. First, allow me to show you around these fine facilities. :: Looking around as they exchanged pleasantries, the professor realized two things. First, he was not here on some trivial matter for publicity. He was in a highly protected command center, in Ooyetirent, the center of the Asavii Space Program. The second was that the screens around them did not only show the space program. They showed the news, full of demonstrations, protests, and fanatics with signs of ‘Balzog Rules Asav’. :: Zuril: I guess I am not here to discuss science. Atorin: ::noticing the target of the professor’s attention:: Science, yes, but in the interests of all Asav. There is civil unrest, and it is ever more virulent. Some of it has even taken on religious overtones. :: The Science Minister spat out these last words with a derisive sniff. Religion was a relic of the past, with no place in an enlightened, technologically expanding Asav. The fact that the old gods were being mentioned by the populace was something that the current government took great pains to try and suppress, covertly where possible, overtly where necessary.:: Zuril: So I have heard. This terrible drought has brought forth the old religions, and they say it is the wrath of Balzog, old god of the land. And I though the Asavii did not believe in the gods anymore. Atorin: Yes, well… despite our efforts to appease the civilian agitators, they still howl indignation at the challenges we face dealing with the unexpected decline in planetary water levels. :: That comment made the old professor a bit angry. And in was not easy to anger a man who only lives for his research, unless you mock his projects. But this had nothing to do with it. :: Zuril: Unexpected!? Since we started using water-fueled technology a century ago we have literally destroyed half of the water in Asav. Ecologists had been protesting its use for the last seventy years. And now it comes as a surprise? Atorin: This government’s mandate is to solve the egregious problems handed down to us all by our forebears. The water-fuel technology allowed us as a civilization to experience an industrial revolution unmatched in the history of our planet! The pros and cons were weighed by our forebears, and we are making the hard decisions necessary to ensure our planet’s continued successes going forward. :: The professor calmed down, realizing the man was probably just representing his government’s official position. Still, he found the government was being hypocritical with this subject, and that made him irritable. :: Zuril: What did you want? :: The main monitor showed Asav in a planar view, with the orbits of its two natural satellites ringing it. Atorin led the aging scientist over the display, and with all the smarmy grace of a seasoned politician he started his pitch.:: Atorin: We need water. Our industry, our power grid, our very civilization is built off the need for water. Where is a readily available source of water? :: The display was interactive, as if an animated slide show. The larger of the natural satellites, occupying a slower, wider orbit, dimmed. The smaller, quicker moon with the shallow orbit lit up blinking. :: Atorin: Our second moon, of course! Zuril: That’s stupid. The idea has been proposed over and over again, and the only possible conclusion is that the mission needs way more water-fuel than it can bring back. Useless. :: Through a freak chance of cosmic fate, Asav had acquired a second moon of ice, to complement the one made of rock and metals, many many millennia ago. There were many theories about how this had happened. A massive comet captured just so by a delicate balance of planetary pull, or perhaps the gradual coalescence of a planetary ring of ice particles… conjecture and debate abounded, but however it had happened, it proved a fortuitous turn of cosmological chance for a water-starved civilization. Of course, attempts had been made using their limited rocket technology to harvest frozen water from the massive globe of ice. For over 50 years, the tantalizingly close, unlimited source of water hung in the night sky and beckoned for exploitation, but their current methods of space mining were too inefficient, with way too little return to make the effort feasible. :: Atorin: You are right. Using existing technology, we could never garner enough ice to fuel the planet’s water-fuel needs for a day. But, the government’s defence contract with Chitern Corporation has led to a wild theory, an awesome plan that will solve our problems immediately and for all time. We will use our nuclear arsenal for good instead of ill, and carve a massive chunk of ice off of the frozen moon, to be brought to Asav! :: As expected, the professor jumped with shock and incredulousness. The government’s scientific advisers had done just the same thing when Chitern first suggested this course of action. Allowing such a massive piece of ice to fall into Asav’s atmosphere would create a catastrophic event, possibly even an Extinction Level Event. Even just a sliver of the ice moon’s volume striking the planet’s surface would unleash enough kinetic energy to rival the entire Asavii nuclear arsenal hundreds of times over, sending blanketing dust and ash into the atmosphere and choking all life from the planet within a generation. But, if all went to plan, and if Professor Zuril was willing and able to assist, that would never happen. He cut off the scientist before Zuril could even start with his counter-arguments.:: Atorin: I know what you will say, and it’s been said many times over. As it stands now, such an action could only have catastrophic results as the shard fell into Asav’s atmosphere. But! This is why I have asked you here. Chitern knows of your developments with your, er… ::gesticulating airily:: space-time “bubble” thing, and believe that it could be used to safely transport the shard to the planet’s surface, where it will slowly melt as an almost limitless source of water-fuel! So, straight to the point. ::leaning in close, speaking tersely:: Are the rumors true that your “bubble” can accomplish just sort a thing? And, more importantly… will you contribute your technology and expertise in this pursuit of a solution to the biggest problem our species has ever faced? :: Once the explanation was over, the professor was silent for a long time. The worst part was that the whole plan was stupidly naive and reasonably feasible in equal parts. :: Zuril: Its name is Warp Field Generator. And, with time, I intend to create an engine that would permit Faster Than Light travel. That would allow us to colonize other planets where we could find water. Atorin: Time, you say. That is one resource that is running out even quicker than our water. We don’t need a solution decades down the road. That is the same dismissive hubris our forebears had, that allowed us to get to the point of crisis we are in now. A drastic plan of action is essential, and we must be brave enough to grasp it. So I ask you again… can your technology do this? Zuril: It… :: He had to shut up. The minister had a point there, their people needed a faster solution, or they would soon face massive dehydration and the destruction of their civilization once their main energy source was turned off worldwide. :: Zuril: I don’t like it. But it is feasible, yes. Atorin: ::relieved, toothy smile:: Good. Good! Chitern contractors will be visiting your lab very soon then, to assist you and ramp up the completion timeframe for your technology. With their advanced research and production abilities, they should help you work out the bugs in your, er, Warp Field, was it?, technology in no time. Those people out there ::pointing to the protests on the news screens:: will be singing your praises when you save our planet, Professor! :: The professor just stood there for a few seconds, looking grimly at the screens showing the news worldwide. :: -------------------------------- SECURITY FOOTAGE: The Gift of Zolrak ((Ooyetirent Control Center, Asav, Year of the Gift of Zolrak)) :: Professor Zuril had been invited to the control room on the day the different unmanned ships arrived at the satellite. He was supposed to be one of the project leaders, but in reality he had not had any authority, just being consulted in regard of the Warp Field Generators. :: Zuril: What happens if we are successful? That gives us water for maybe another century, but we cannot base our economy on chipping pieces of our own moon… Atorin: This is meant to buy us time, as we begin to phase out the water-fuel technology. Time we wouldn’t have had anyways. But that’s a discussion we can discuss at a later date. Right now, we’re on the cusp of history! :: The professor sighed and looked at the screens. The whole Gift of Zolrak project involved five unmanned ships. Two of them to dig under the required part of the ice satellite, and then detonate two nuclear warheads deep under the surface. That was supposed to chip a huge part of the satellite away. A hundred kilometers in diameter, about four trillion liters of water. The other three robots would generate a warp field that would separate the newly created meteor from the moon’s gravity well, and bring it towards Asav, where it would be destroyed and collected as it fell into the atmosphere. :: Atorin: ::over the din of the operations room as the mission reached its critical phase:: Look, look! The mining ships have broken the surface! :: Though he was ostensibly the government official in charge of the mission, in actuality Science Minister Atorin was but a figurehead. In the intervening years since the mission had first been devised, Chitern Corporation had slowly but surely taken over key elements of the planning, construction, and execution phases. The government had become basically a spectator in what was Chitern’s crowning achievement, and Atorin himself wasn’t even a prominent member of that government. The one thing he had contributed with any lasting effect to the mission was its name, “Gift of Zolrak”. In a fit of pique against a religiously-tinged opponent during a televised election debate, Atorin had invoked the name of the ancient water god as a tongue-in-cheek jab at the nouveau Balzog initiate. The name was apt enough to stick, and with his political title and as the originator of the mission name, Atorin was granted the privilege of overlooking this historic event. :: Zuril: :: raising from his chair, speaking terribly slowly. :: No… they have not. Are you sure this will work? Atorin: ::dismissive sniff:: No, I’m sure everything is fine. The calculations and projections have been checked, and rechecked, and double checked a dozen times over. It’s all going as to plan. :: Atorin, not as astute as should have been for a man in his position, was blissfully oblivious to the ominous change in smell of the room from the enhanced emotions, the subtle shift in the tone and gravity of the background din. He was too busy watching the pretty graphics on the news screens, the ones that showed no true information but were created mostly for the consumption of the uninformed and ignorant masses. Had he been watching actual data feeds like Zuril was, and had any scientific experience to support the worth of his title as Science Minister, he might not have been so blissful. :: Zuril: Is there a second detonation, maybe? Chitern Operative: No. This is all that was planned. It SHOULD have separated the objective meteorite. :: That ‘should’ hung in the air. It was dead clear that it didn’t. They had seen the explosion, the shockwave illuminate the dig holes, the moon’s surface rumble. But it had not broken apart. It could have been a problem with the warheads. Or a terrible miscalculation of the moon’s density or structure. Whatever their failure was, the moon was still whole. :: Zuril: Abort mission. Disengage Warp Field Generators. We have failed. :: The old professor had no real authority in that room. But his dark tone resonated on everyone’s moods, and no one was able to respond. Slowly, painfully, they started looking down from the main projector, towards their own workstations, to give the unmanned ships the orders to stand down and return. :: Chitern Operative: It’s not working. They are not responding. Zuril: What? Why? Chitern Operative: The magnetic pulse from the nuclear blast is interfering with our comm systems. :: That would mean the robotic ships would not be able to return, and would be stranded on the moon until their space program was advanced enough to retrieve them. It was a pity to lose three warp field generators, both for their cost and the amount of work the professor had put on them, but luckily there were no lost lives. The whole project had been a very long shot, anyway. :: Zuril: It’s alright. Let them crash on the surface. :: His whole career as a scientist, being a war veteran, and a prison camp survivor. None of his past experiences could have prepared him for the terror the following words awakened on him. :: Chitern Operative: No, professor. The system is automated. Unless they receive a counter order, they will keep up with the mission. Zuril: WHAT? Atorin: No. No. ::wringing his hands and sniffing rapidly:: They will just terminate their mission. The mission will just abort now that something had gone wrong. Correct, Professor? :: Before answering the minister’s question, the professor frantically checked the code of the robot’s programming. In hopes of finding something, some small line saying that they would automatically stop if something went wrong. There wasn’t anything. :: Zuril: The Warp Field Generators can’t be turned off. They will start bringing the chipped part down towards Asav. If there is no chipped part… they will bring the whole moon. Atorin: What do you mean, they can’t be turned off? Zuril, you designed those “bubble” generators, find a way to stop them! Zuril: I designed the generators, but the robots were Chitern work. And apparently they didn’t count a nuclear blast next to them, which was their intended mission, would be a problem. :: The Chitern operatives in the room looked away. They had not been involved in the design program, they were trained to control the system. But it was a terrible mistake on the part of Chitern, and they were a bit ashamed by it. :: Atorin: ::laughing, a nervous, shaky titter:: “They will bring the whole moon”... That is funny. You couldn’t seriously expect your little bubble machines to move a whole moon?! Zuril: Not in the same way they would have brought down the meteorite. But it will be enough to deviate the moon from its orbit. From there… anything can happen. It can crash on us in a month, a year, five years… who knows, but it will be definitely coming down. Atorin: Come down?? ::he couldn’t even fathom such destruction on a planetary scale:: It would… will… destroy Asav and everything on it... ‘ Zuril: Even before crashing, just orbiting close enough to us will drag our atmosphere away and destroy our ecosystems. ::In a state of shock, unbelieving yet stricken and frozen in place, Atorin didn’t know what to say or do. He was a nobody, a middling provincial politician who had gained his position in life more through luck and happenstance than through any reasonable amount of intellect or skill. Now, being the face of the mission which would ultimately end all life of Asav, Atorin never felt more small and helpless in his entire existence. As short as it would ultimately end up being.:: Atorin: We cannot allow this to happen. There has to be something we can do! We can, I dunno, blow it up or something?! :: Now, that was the first sensible idea that had come out from the minister’s mouth that day. It was completely crazy, but they were in a dire situation. Blowing up the whole satellite would require an arsenal far more impressive than what had failed to break it. But it would avoid them the main impact and gravity effects. :: Zuril: Let me do some calculations. :: he unceremoniously pushed an operative away from her computer. :: The moon is 750 km in radius, and that’s 1.7 times 10^9 km^3 worth of frozen water. ::Atorin had spoken out of panic and desperation, but with the professor taking the suggestion seriously, it cleared his head enough to embolden his words.:: Atorin: Yeah, I mean there will still be widespread destruction as shards of ice rain down on the planet, but there’s still a chance for life, right? Zuril: It is better than the alternative, but the amount of water we are bringing back is enough to raise the water level by five thousand meters. It will destroy civilization as we know it. Atorin: Darned if we do, and darned if we don’t. The “Gift of Zolrak”, we called this. ::maniacal sniff:: I wish I had never said that. This is more like the “Wrath of Zolrak”. :: The professor just nodded. He didn’t want to be the one to actually say it, but it was their only option, and it was the minister’s place to convince the different nations of Asav to use their joint arsenal on this. The professor definitely did not envy his position. :: Atorin: ::defeated, shoulders slumping:: Somebody get me set up on a conference call to the President and the Minister of Defence. The unthinkable must be arranged. -------------------------------- SECURITY FOOTAGE: The Wrath of Zolrak ((Ooyetirent Control Center, Asav, Year Two after the Gift of Zolrak)) :: Former professor Zuril and former minister Atorin sat in their chairs, silent, as they had been so many times in the last months. The years of work in the failed Gift of Zolrak had made them respect each other in their own way. But the two years since then had made them friends, mostly because they didn’t have anywhere else to go. :: Zuril: Any news? :: The former minister had come back recently to the now abandoned and hidden facility, with a new uniform and some equipment. Going out was more and more dangerous each passing day, since the Church of Zolrak became a de facto dictatorship after the floods started. :: Atorin: ::abusing a well-worn and macabre joke:: Yes, It’s still raining out today. :: Zuril managed to produce a sad smile. Of course it still rained. It had been raining for the last year and a half, since the first drops from the destroyed ice moon started falling onto the atmosphere, and the storms covered the whole surface of Asav after the massive shards of ice started falling from a decaying orbit around the planet. The ocean level had already raised by two kilometers, and if his calculations had any merit, it was supposed to raise way further in the following months. :: Zuril: And this new uniform? What’s the AFP, some new government maneuver to save their hide? Atorin: Ha, you jest. There has been a government in name only for the last 6 months. Powerless, fragmented, hunted by the clerics of Zolrak. :: If the drought had brought forth the faith of Balzog, god of the earth, the floods did the same for Zolrak, god of water. But, for some reason, the church of Zolrak were better prepared, and as their faithful grew in numbers, they started taking over the cities and governments, violently routing the unfaithful, more preventing their evacuation than actually dirtying their hands. Government facilities, as well as libraries and any other buildings that would be a proof Zolrak had not always ruled Asav, were left to flood and be lost under the water. The government had tried sealing some of them, in order for them to survive, but most were discovered and destroyed. Ooyetirent was yet to be found, thanks to its secluded and protected location, but it was a matter of time. Either they were found, or they drowned. :: Zuril: And Chitern? What happened to them? Atorin: They are bringing the first of their “biodomes” online. Apparently they will be self sufficient under the surf, each housing thousands of Asavii. ::derisive sniff:: I don’t care what they claim. These domes were under design well before the Gift of Zolrak failed. I swear they had planned for this eventuality right from the beginning. Zuril: So they had been preparing for our failure? I’m guessing the ‘Wrath of Zolrak’, as they have nicknamed themselves, did not take that news very well. Atorin: Apparently, Chitern is finishing the domes under threat of death from the followers of Zolrak. They will likely wrest control of them once they are finished. I wouldn’t doubt it if they cast out Chitern as soon as their usefulness is complete, much as they have already done to the unbelievers. The Wrath of Zolrak blame Chitern nearly as much as they blame you and I, my old friend. :: Another long silence, made deeper by the offline computers and the generator at the edge of failure. All their problems were in part due to Chitern failure, but since the two of them were the visible heads of the project, they took all the blame, leaving them ostracized in the abandoned facilities, knowing the whole world would bring on them the weight of all their disgraces. So they did not feel bad at all for any terrible destiny Chitern would happen to suffer. But with them went another part of the old world, of the Asav before religious war took over. :: Atorin: ::contemplatively:: How much longer will the heavens rain ice into our atmosphere, do you think? Zuril: If my calculations are right, for another three years. But this will be underwater in a few weeks. :: That train of thought brought them towards the new equipment, and they both looked at the boxes next to Atorin. It was the equipment to seal the entrance of the lab, so it would not flood and be destroyed when the water level raised over it. :: Zuril: So you are going to do it? Atorin: It has to be me. It was my hubris that led to the loss of all that made Asav great. If anything is to survive of the way it once was, then it falls to me to be the final steward. :: The former minister showed the sealing instruments. Complete with a sensor that would work as a beacon for those that knew how to decrypt it, but would jam comms for anyone who didn’t. Apparently they were hoping this religious uprise would end up shortly, and when the rational and scientific society Asav had been for years raised again, they would be able to find their old computers and dig up their old knowledge, that this Wrath of Zolrak was trying to erase. Looking over the beacon activation signals, Atorin had to choke back a barking laugh:: Atorin: “All Hail Balzog”?? You have a twisted sense of humor, Zuril. :: The professor sniffed in a mischievous and entertained way. Taking this from Zolrak was one of the last few pleasures he could afford. :: Zuril: Can you think of a password the Wrath of Zolrak is less likely to produce? Atorin: No, I concur. If anyone overcomes the Wrath of Zolrak, it would likely be someone who turned to Balzog out of desperation or survival. And, it is guaranteed to be something that would never be uttered by a follower of Zolrak. ::with all seriousness:: Where will you go now, Zuril? Zuril: Me? I will probably go into hiding. I would love to see my Warp Field Generator become and actual engine that can take people away from this sinking planet-ship. :: Sinking planet-ship. Apparently there was yet some energy left for additional humor somewhere in the old professor. :: Zuril: But I don’t think they would appreciate it right now. Maybe I will try to find an apprentice I can teach everything I have discovered so far. :: They didn’t know yet, but he wouldn’t. He would be found, and killed fighting for his freedom, unwilling to let himself be captured. Apparently, there was yet some energy left for fighting in the old professor, too. :: Atorin: You could always hide out in the remnants of the old Chitern facilities near here. Did you know, the Wrath of Zolrak have christened them Skarlozent. ::sad smile:: In retrospect, it’s the perfect name. Unbeliever’s Folly… that sums up all of our actions in a nutshell, doesn’t it? Some day, everything we have touched will be called Skarlozent. ::pause:: After some thought, disregard my suggestion. You deserve better than some old Chitern factory. Zuril: So, this is farewell, isn’t it? Atorin: Yes it is, my old friend. It truly is the end. :: Stepping just outside Ooyetirent, the two most hated men in Asav, and maybe the two men who had given more for their planet in an age, shook hands until they succumbed to a heartfelt embrace, sniffing in respect and affection for each other. As the old professor turned to leave the control center that had been so important in his life for these past years, he slowly came to a terrible realization. :: Zuril: Minister… you are going to seal this place from the outside, right? ::The only response was another sad smile, as Atorin stepped back through the door and closed it between them, and the last thing Zuril ever heard from Atorin was the heavy clank of the locking latches clamping into place.:: -------------------------------- Minister Atorin Old Asavii government Minister of Science & Professor Zuril Asavii Astrophysicist as simmed by Lt. Maxwell Traenor Chief Science Officer USS Darwin-A NCC-99312-A & Lt.JG John Valdivia Science Officer USS Darwin-A NCC-99312-A
  18. ((Deep Space 6: Meeting Room 11)) ::Commander Renos was both proud and defiant as ne delivered nir testimony. There was conviction in the J’naii, that was for sure, and ne believed that ne had taken the right course of action at every turn. Ne rose some interesting points, Chris had to give nem that much, but he didn’t hear anything that he considered to be enough to change the outcome of the meeting.:: ::Tugging at the front of his dress uniform and shuffling in his seat, the captain looked sideways to the Lieutenant Commander who had been assigned to work as Renos’s first officer. He was aware of the man’s longstanding history with the Darwin, and that he had been present on all three of Starfleet’s missions to Asav.:: Hallam: Commander, may I ask whether you personally feel the Asavii’s relationship with the Federation is currently stronger or weaker than it was following your previous visit to the planet? Thomas: It’s difficult to say Sir. There would be many there who would see our involvement in the discovery of their history as meddling, as interfering to try and change them. Is it a weaker relationship, I’m not sure, but I doubt it’s any stronger. Hallam: At this point, I would like to ask if anyone else has anything to say in defence of their commanding officer? ::He looked out at the assembled crowd of white shirts in front of him. Sometimes you had to appear to be the bad guy in the eyes of good people so that you could do the right thing.:: Traenor: ::standing, looking pointedly between Hallam and Thomas:: Sirs, I cannot add much to Cmdr Renos' testimony thus far, but I can stand as a character witness. I have served with nem on multiple ships, and have had the pleasure of learning his values and standards both on and off duty. Ne holds the utmost respect for the institution of Starfleet and the opportunities it gave nem to escape persecution and anarchy. Ne would never willingly introduce such anarchy to another world, nor would ne act in any way that would compromise the values that he has sworn to uphold. In my nearly twenty years of service to Starfleet, I have not met a more model officer. ::glaring pointedly at Thomas:: Nor one more loyal and dedicated to their shipmates. Thank you, that is all I have to say. ::As soon as the first dissenter sat down, another stood up, like some perverse game of Starfleet whack-a-mole. Chris folded his arms as the second man began to speak.:: Valdivia: If you will allow me. :: he cleared his throat. :: I will not comment on the Deep Space 6 incident, because I just recently learned about it. But for the other ones, I have the feeling Commander Renos is being judged for situations that were out of nir control. On the Dunbar, for instance. An anomaly we knew nothing about caused an explosion of a shuttlebay. We lost an unmanned shuttle, and the Dunbar lost some other material. But this explosion what out of nir control, nor anyone from the Darwin's crew. Instead, ne should be judged by nir actions after the explosion, and I think the return of the Dunbar certifies for that. Trying to salvage the shuttle would have put us all at heavy risk. :: He paused. The officer hadn’t said anything that might sway him so far.:: Valdivia: Even more importantly, on Asav. The believers of Balzog were hidden, waiting for the Federation to arrive to make their move. So, by our very participation in the joint research project, we helped them reveal themselves, which almost lead to civil war. But our participation was again out of Commander Renos' control, as it was an Starfleet order, and any other ship with any other captain reporting for the same mission would have unearthed that same dispute. If you ask, however, about what ne did afterwards, it was exactly preventing the civil war. Thank you. Walker: Captain, with all due respect to your rank and office, but I don't believe this is an appropriate discussion of the issues you raised. I say discussion because you aren't providing any evidence of wrongdoing, simply asking questions about what happened and why. There have been no witnesses for, or against Commander Renos, and by Starfleet regulations you'd need two other senior officers to make a tribunal for a court martial of this sort. Which either means Commander Renos isn't being given the opportunity to argue the case in front of them, which is against regulations.. or this was already decided before any of us arrived. In either case, this can be nothing other than a serious discussion. Lyldra: First I must state as an Attache in the FDC I would be bound to report any violation of the prime directive in my reports and even anything that would fall in the grey areas close to it for that matter. The prime directive is more than starfleet general order number one it’s the guiding principle of the federation one as a citizen and representative of the Federation I hold dear. ::She paused before going on.:: I have only served under Commander Renos for the duration of this last mission. Nem’s quick thinking to diffuse a potentially society crashing or at least fracturing event on that planet. Ne, I and the representatives of both the majority and minority parties sat around a table and did what the federation and starfleet hold most dear. Perseve the peace, work though our differences and move forward. So On a personal level For that Commander Renos earned my admiration and respect and made me glad I accepted my starfleet commission when I had always content in only diplomatic service to the federation. ::Well, that was one way of looking at it, certainly. Chris had expected that Renos’s crew would want to take the chance to defend nem, but maybe he had been expecting them to attempt to offer up some kind of incontrovertible evidence that the mission reports sat in front of him were incorrect. Chris sank back in his chair and blew out a breath. This was certainly just as heavy going as he thought it might be. How did you weigh up this kind of evidence in this short a space of time? It was fortunate that the pre-existing evidence made everything look cut and dried, and that Commander Thomas had been as informative as he had been.:: Hallam: Commander Renos, do you have anything else to say? Any mitigating circumstances that you believe should be taken into account? ::All eyes were on the J’naii commander now. What words would, or could ne summon to nir defence?:: Renos: Captain, I have not had a lot of bridge experience but I have put every bit of training and years of experience in a leadership position to ensure that everything I’ve done has been in the best interests of the ship and crew. I have taken my responsibilities seriously and represented Starfleet and the Federation to the very best of my ability. ::Chris took in a deep breath and stood, indicating that Lieutenant Commander Thomas should do the same. He lifted up his PADD and took a couple of steps towards Renos, waiting as nir first officer took up his prearranged position alongside the witness chair.:: Hallam: If there’s one thing I do believe, Commander, it’s that. Before this hearing was convened, I received an official message from Starfleet Command. Now seems a fitting time to deliver it to you and the crew. It reads… ::He tapped at the PADD, looking at it solemly. When he looked up, he wore a wicked grin on his face.:: Hallam: …gotcha! ::Of course, a real court martial wouldn’t have been as whirlwind as sitting a CO in a chair and asking them four questions before slamming down the gavel. The process would have taken days and witnesses would have been called from every imaginable corner to testify for both sides of the case. There was no way someone with a record as squeaky clean as Renos’s would know that, though, unless they had been considering taking a job in the JAG’s office.:: Renos: Captain Hallam, explain yourself. Hallam: Mr. Torrin, if you would please see to it that everyone has a glass, as arranged? ::Before Renos had too much time to react to what Chris considered to be one of the more impressive wind-ups he’d managed to launch on someone during his entire career, he hit nem with the real reason everyone had been gathered together.:: Hallam: Commander Renos, as you rightly say, you have been performing to the best of your abilities and your actions on Asav, Deep Space 6 and in rescuing the Dunbar have shown that you are not afraid to make difficult decisions and do the right thing. As such, with the power vested in me by Starfleet Command, I am hereby promoting you to captain, with all of the privileges and responsibilities associated with that rank. Commander Thomas, if you will do the honours, please? ::It seemed only fair that, after press ganging the first officer into the ruse that had just played out, he should allow him to actually pin the fourth pip onto Renos’s collar.:: Thomas: Congratulations sir. Renos: Thank you Commander. ::Giving nir First Officer a broad smile. There were no hard feelings. :: Hallam: Congratulations, Captain! Renos: Thank you! All is forgiven but you know – you need to work on your jokes and trust me when I say, I’ll get you back for this. ::With a devilish grin:: ::The glasses that had been passed around were now being filled with champagne. Chris had arranged for a few bars of gold-pressed latinum to be pushed in Torrin’s direction to fund the refreshments. It was the least he could do after giving Renos so much of a scare.:: ::Of course, there was one thing that needed clearing up.:: Hallam: Just while everyone’s glasses are being filled, I feel I should point out that Commander Thomas had nothing but positive things to say about Captain Renos when we met before you all arrived. I’d like to thank him for taking a big risk today and please don’t judge him too harshly. Thomas: ::Scratching the back of his nervously.:: Yeah, sorry everyone. ::Fortunately for Chris, in a room full of ruffled feathers, his own set of four pips protected him from hearing them direct too much frustration in his direction. When his own glass was filled, he held it up. This was an occasion that was certainly worth celebrating.:: Hallam: To Renos, the newest captain in Starfleet. PNPC Captain Christian Hallam Administrative Officer Deep Space 6
  19. I played the living heck out of this game back in the day! Loved it so much. Somewhere along the way I lost it, or else I'd probably still be playing it. Thanks for bringing up a great memory!
  20. ((Mount Vishlu, Vulcan)) ::Sovak stood alone in silent meditation, high on the face of Mount Vishlu.:: ::He'd been exiled to the monastery there as a child, cast out by his Uncle Taarikh, a stern old Vulcan master who couldn't find a place in his life for an undisciplined, overemotional orphan.:: ::Now, after an escape to Starfleet service and nearly two years aboard USS Atlantis, Sovak had exiled himself to Vishlu. It was, for the first time, a relief to retreat to the ancient, craggy red home of his lonely childhood, and lose his cares to the well-ordered life of the Vulcan monastics.:: ::The wind whistled merrily through the mountain's sundrenched corners, and Sovak heard Ren's laughter in it.:: ::The monks were strict in their routines. When it was time to eat, they ate. When it was time to meditate, they did so. When it was time to work, to sleep, to build, to mend, each action had its time, and each time was held sacred to its purpose. All was in service to order. All was in order with logic. Sovak found it much easier to follow logic here. On Atlantis, it was hard to forget his emotions, with Ren always so near at hand, his turbulent Trill feelings a constant trigger to that part of Sovak that wanted to throw logic out the window.:: ::Sovak thought of the last time he'd kissed Ren, aboard Atlantis. At last, they'd almost come together. Then they both left that ship on different paths.:: ::Ren had been transferred. Sovak had run. Without pausing for so much as goodbye, he'd taken off alone from Atlantis, back to the hard discomforts of home.:: ::The young Vulcan's path had never been clear. His parents were Starfleet officers who perished aboard USS T'Vel, his mother T'Nal giving up her life to see her small son placed safely aboard a lifepod. T'Nal's brother Taarikh took Sovak in, but could not crush the willfully emotional child's spirit as efficiently as he would have liked. On Mount Vishlu, the beleaguered monks had learned to leave Sovak to his own devices. Unable to divest himself of the strong emotions that tore through his heart every day, he'd made a study of pretending to be like the other Vulcans, until he could make his escape.:: ::It had not been easy to get into Starfleet Academy without a mentor, without a sponsor. The monks had not wanted him to go. Taarikh disapproved allowing his nephew to live among varied emotional creatures from across the Federation. But Sovak had managed it with studied determination, and he'd landed Ren Rennyn as his roommate in San Francisco. There, Sovak's adventures had truly begun.:: ::A scuff to the ground alerted Sovak of a presence behind him in the monastery's rocky red garden.:: ::He had not been really meditating anyway. He turned to find his uncle, Taarikh, looking on him with well-practiced disapproval. The stern old cleric had descended upon Vishlu like a plague the moment he learned his wayward nephew had returned.:: Taarikh: I am informed you plan to leave Vishlu once again. Sovak: Indeed. Starfleet has ordered an end to my leave of absence. ::They spoke in such calm, reasonable tones that no observer would have known they were spitting venom.:: Taarikh: Your time here has been too brief. I am not certain you have managed to center yourself during this short visit. ::Translation - You are a failure, as always.:: Sovak: Disobeying Starfleet's orders is not an viable option. Taarikh: That is so. A commitment such as you have made to Starfleet must not be broken lightly. ::Translation - That's your fault. You broke your commitment to kohlinar, and to me.:: ::The planet Vulcan was too hot for Sovak's comfort. In his first four years, he'd grown accustomed to the mild temperatures of his parent's quarters on USS T'Vel. In more than twenty years on Vulcan, he'd never learned to love the heat. Sweat clamored from his pores now, running off him in desperate attempts at escape. Taarikh, in his heavy formal robes, remained cool and unaffected.:: ::Sovak stood to meet his uncle eye to eye.:: Sovak: A commitment made in good faith must be fulfilled. ::Translation - You promised to raise me as your family, Taarikh, but you sent me away, a lost, lonely child. Translation - I promised to love Ren on Atlantis, but I ran from those feelings, not knowing what to do with them. Translation - Maybe I have been a failure. At feeling. At not feeling. At being what you wanted me to be. At being what I wanted me to be. But I'm determined to succeed.:: Taarikh: Starfleet was never the place for you. A more logical choice would have been to remain here on Mount Vishlu. Sovak: Your disapproval of Starfleet is illogical, Uncle. My work there is in service to the greater good of the Federation, and, by extension, all Vulcankind. Taarikh: Indeed? Starfleet? ::Sovak could not translate the wearily vengeful look that passed through his uncle's aging eyes. For a moment, they nearly brimmed with emotion.:: Taarikh: Starfleet killed your mother, my headstrong sister T'Nal, whose insistence on living a life among outsiders compromised her offspring's upbringing. My sister was a fool, her husband was a fool, and the child she bore has been the greatest fool of all. ::Sovak stared. This outburst was unprecedented. Perhaps the monastery's altitude was affecting Taarikh's cognitive function. Perhaps too many years of repression had finally forced grief to take hold.:: Sovak: I have never heard you speak of my mother. Taarikh: She was meant for a greater life than to die pointlessly in a vacuum with that man who was your father. You are too much like him by far. ::These words caused no harm to Sovak, neither to his feelings nor to his self-confidence. He'd known his father to be a good man. He'd watched his mother sacrifice herself because there was no other way to save her son. He'd learned in one moment that logic and emotion could be the same thing. Taarikh's bluster meant nothing, except as evidence that the old cleric had a nerve after all, and that, despite all his talk, that nerve could be touched.:: ::A show of sympathy was the worst thing Sovak could have done to Taarikh. Instead, out of kindness, he pretended the outburst had not happened.:: ::They were saved by a gong.:: Sovak: The hour is struck. I must assist in preparing the midday meal. Sit inside where it is cool. Perhaps you can meditate. Within the hour, you must join us at the table. ::Hospitality was a way of caring for others. He'd learned that from Ren.:: ::Taarikh, looking tired, made no move to go in.:: Taarikh: I shall remain here, if you please. ::Translation - I'd rather eat a hat than do anything that was your idea.:: Sovak: As you wish. ::Sovak walked away, into the cool interior corridor. Tomorrow, he would depart for his new assignment aboard USS Darwin-A, reemerging into the universe from his secluded retreat. He didn't know where Ren had gone after Atlantis. For now, it didn't matter.:: ::It was time for Sovak to succeed at being himself, on his own terms. To honor the life his parents had given him and to embrace his uniqueness. It was time for Sovak to stand on his own.:: TBC ============================================ Ensign Sovak Operations Officer simmed by Lieutenant Commander Rendal Rennyn HCO Officer USS Darwin NCC-99312-A ============================================
  21. ((Asavii Exploration Craft Zelsinger)) ::Ren's eyes squinted as he took in the new information Captain Renos relayed over the comms. The Trill was to join another of the small exploration groups, so Renos and others could work out the diplomatic situation back on Darwin. Ren still hadn't met Captain Renos. He hadn't seen any more of the Darwin than the transporter room. He also didn't know the team members he'd be working with.:: ::Despite all that, Ren's Trill curiosity made him want to find out the secrets of Skarlozent. He was eager to explore.:: Thomas: Alright, well you heard the Captain. Thanks for your help Rennyn, and keep me informed of any exciting developments with your new team. Rennyn: I will, sir. ::He stood, and looked around at Thomas, Valdivia, Alekos and Manius.:: See you all back on Darwin very soon. Good luck out here. ::He thought about asking Manius for some last minute advice dealing with his underwater panic, or maybe some medication to take with him just in case. But he didn't want to sound any more foolish in front of the others than he already had. So, with a stiff upper lip, he went to the back compartment to prepare for transport.:: ::At least he was transporting to another ship, the one Renos' team had been on. It's not like he was just plunging out into the depths of the ocean, right?:: ((Sunken Facility, Skarlozent, Asav)) ::Ren materialized in the depths of the ocean.:: ::If a heart rate has ever jumped so fast as the underinformed Trill's did at that moment, medical science would be hard-pressed to prove it.:: Rennyn: I misunderstood the mission parameters! ::He wasn't used to panicking. He was accustomed to staying cool and calm. Especially when on duty, he liked to think of himself as a collected, composed, well-organized professional. Not a cat in a bathtub. But here, in the giant bathtub that was the planet Asav, Ren possessed all the scrambling, frenzied qualities of the universe's wettest felines.:: ::Quickly, he tried to get his bearings. He looked left and right, up and down, moving his whole head, shoulders and neck in the bulky EV suit. He remembered Manius' admonition to breathe, and he sucked air deeply in and out of his lungs, afraid of hyperventilating, afraid of not ventilating at all.:: ::He limbs scurried through the water desperately. He was no swimmer, beyond the occasional dunk in the old swimming hole deep in the back forest at the farm. Even there, with his brothers and sisters diving off the steepest bank they could find, he'd tended to stay in the knee-deep shallows, pretending to look for interesting rocks, as if there were any rocks anywhere that were interesting.:: ::Ren breathed, and breathed, and tried not to flail too widely. But now his leg was caught on something. No, no, he thought. Something has my leg! He pulled frantically, yanking the leg away from whatever it was, somehow making the thing, thin and tentacle-like, coil more tightly around his ankles, his calves.:: Rennyn: Let me go!! ::He tumbled around in the water, reaching for the tentacles with his hands, until his arms were trapped, too. The more he fought it the more it wrapped around him. His breathing was wild, and in his panic, he could barely see.:: ::A forced calm was all he could do. Sovak, that dang backwards-brained Vulcan he was plagued with, would have told him to cling to rational thought in the face of greatest danger. Or some such pointy-eared nonsense. But Ren knew it was right, and tried to reach through his own panic to find something logical to hold on to.:: ::Holding on. His hand had been gripping one of the tentacles this whole time, and it slowly occurred to him that the tentacle hadn't moved. It was hard, dense and ropy. The lights built in to his suit illuminated it just enough for him to see. Ren stopped struggling, feeling foolish once again.:: Rennyn: It's cable. It's nothing but a gol-durned coaxial cable. Didn't These People Have Wireless!? ::His own struggles had trapped him. His own panic about being underwater had put him in danger, just as he'd known it would.:: ::As he sheepishly unraveled himself from the cables he'd twisted himself up in, a horrifying thought came to the worked up Trill. As standard operation, before transporting, he'd turned on his comms and tied them in to the other team members he was transporting to. Chances were, they'd just heard all of that. His heart sank a hundred fathoms, and his yelling voice was replaced with a soft, professional, artificially calm tone.:: Rennyn: =/\=Lt. Commander Rennyn to Jellico and Iy. I have joined you near your location.=/\= ================================================================ Lieutenant Commander Rendal Rennyn HCO Officer USS Darwin NCC-99312-A ================================================================
  22. Congratulations, Alora! I cannot agree more that the mesmerizing organic design that you submitted will be a good fit for such a unique base as Astrofori One looks to become. I'm honored to be considered, and give thanks for the praise I've received for my entry. By all means, I'd be more than pleased to see the image I've designed be put to good use at another time, in another meaningful way.
  23. Great poll! This is just me being lazy, but is it possible to put links in the bullet points of a poll? I needed to look up at least half of these entries, which meant some switching back and forth with a Memory-Alpha page. If it is possible, this might be a nice touch to future polls...
  24. Totally not lame! I love the organic structure of the design! The fact that you were willing to make such an artistic entry speaks to your creativeness. Very good work, and thanks for sharing with us all!
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