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Found 266 results

  1. ((Ambassador’s Yacht Kirym - Somewhere in the Kaleth Woods, Tibro)) The Kirym had been on the move for almost an hour, and things with the Romulans had not eased. He still hadn’t been able to ascertain their motives for being here. The Romulan Star Empire had not been present in the Par’tha Expanse for over seventy years, when they just up and left the region for reasons unknown. Jarred stood by one of the port side windows, drinking a second tea and enjoying the view, the snowy conditions only adding to the beauty. Whizzing beneath them was a majestic winter wonderland, a snow-covered forest. Suddenly Jarred was thrown forward, slamming into the wall, his tea spilling everywhere. There was another jolt, the yacht lurching violently. Jarred felt his stomach turn as the yacht began to descend rapidly. The view outside the window was obscured by clouds of black smoke. He held onto the wall to support himself, as he turned around to the others. Thoran: Is everybody okay? Dels’an: I am alive. Is everyone else alright? Revix: Response McKnight: Here! Nehir: Response Serala: I’m okay, just a small gash in my arm, but otherwise fine. I don’t suppose there’s a medical kit on this yacht, Ambassador? There was another series of shuddering, followed by the sound of breaking wood. Jarred presumed that they must be catching the tops of the trees. Thoran: Ambassador, what is going on? Have we struck something? Dels’an: I didn’t feel any initial impact. ::Her eyes narrowed in anger as she put the pieces together.:: ...if I had to guess the engines or helm control had a rather sudden “malfunction”. From the implied tone it seemed the Ambassador had her own suspicions about what happened. A sudden malfunction, as the Ambassador suggested, could mean that they had a saboteur on board. Jarred cast a glance over at the Romulans. Revix: Response McKnight: The ship is stuck on top of several trees...and the trees are giving way... Thoran: oO Excellent. Stuck on some trees with Romulans. Oo Serala: In that case, I suggest everyone hold on. We’re not done crashing yet. Nehir: Response As if on cue, there was the cracking of the branches as they reached their limit. The yacht plummeted the remaining distance, slamming into the ground. The viewports became obscured by the cloud of dust and snow kicked up. Serala: Just my luck. Stranded in the middle of a snowy wilderness. It’s a dream come true. Dels’an: Not ideal, but it is better than being dead. Jarred nodded at the remark. Almost anything was better than being dead. The question now was what to do about it. If they had indeed been the target of a saboteur, then those responsible may come to confirm their success. Revik: Response McKnight: And I forgot to bring a coat. Nehir: Response Serala: Well, I know several of you outrank me here, and, Ambassador, this is your yacht, but I did quite well in survival training at the Academy. So, if I may offer a few suggestions? He shuddered at the mention of survival training, recalling his own experiences. It had been a rather unpleasant experience, being stranded with only the equipment you had on you and left to fend for yourself for forty eight hours. Thoran: Certainly Commander. Revik: Response Serala: Yes. First we need to see if we can reach someone to let them know where we are and what our situation is. That is, assuming we actually know where we are. Then, we need to do several things. One, we need to secure shelter. It’s going to get cold in here with no power to run the heat. And this is most likely our best bet for now. Still, we should have one or two scout around nearby to see if there are any better prospects. We should also try and determine whether this was sabotage or not. We were under the impression, Ambassador, that you felt there might be some risk to you. Not to mention the fact that there might be more than one group who wouldn’t want to see an alliance between the Valcarian Empire and the Federation, or the Valcarian Empire and the Romulan Empire. There seem to be a number of reasons for such an act to have been staged. That will also lead to the need to determine just how safe we are out here, and not just from the wildlife, but also from other threats. Captain McKnight, do you think I missed anything here? McKnight: I think everyone understands the situation, commander. Serala: Captain Thoran, Ambassador, Commander Revik, do any of you have anything further to suggest? Jarred stroked his beard, going over everything in his mind. Serala had done a good job of covering of the situation, and he had nothing further to add. Thoran: Nothing from me. All I will say is that there is a lot of history between our people. Not all of it pleasant. Our best chance of surviving this is to work together, put aside our differences. Revik: Response Dels’an: There is some survival gear that we can use stored on the ship. I don’t know how much of it survived the crash intact. ::Pause:: But you are right that this was likely sabotage. And if that is true, we can’t stay here and we can’t call for help. Serala: And what about you, Counselor? Nehir: Response Serala: Well, sirs, I think that about covers it for the moment. Should we begin? It had only been by pure luck that none of them had ended up with serious injuries and would be able to move unaided. He could imagine Anath’s face if he had to fill out an injury report for himself. The Vulcan-Klingon doctor had concluded that Jarred was injury prone, given the numerous injuries he had sustained during the time together. Thoran: The longer we wait around, the worse our chances will be. Let us proceed. Dels’an: The sooner we get to shelter, the better. Revik: Response Nehir: Response As they began to take stock of their surroundings, Jarred heard McKnight trying to raise the Atlantis. Based on their surroundings it was unlikely a shuttle would be able to retrieve them, at least not without a trek. McKnight: =/\= Atlantis, Spartan One. The ambassador's yacht has crashed onto the planet. Please coordinate the Valcarians for an evac. We have wounded...Atlantis, respond. =/\= There was no response from the Atlantis, a fact that concerned Jarred. He knew that atmospheric conditions on the planet made communications from the surface to orbit difficult, but they should have at least been able to transmit a message to the Atlantis. Dels’an: Agent Jarol, retrieve what’s left of the survival gear and weapons from the arms locker. Of course, Commander Faris! An instant later, the Ambassador dashed from the room, Jarred and co quickly following suite. They still had no idea what exactly had happened to the ship, and Jarred didn’t want to leave the Ambassador alone for even a second. Thoran: Ambassador, wait. Serala / McKnight / Nehir / Revix: Responses He hurried up the stairs, navigating past the debris. He caught up with the Valcarian just as she forced the door to what Jarred suspected was the bridge open. Dels’an: Commander, what happened… Sat at what he presumed was the helm was a Valcarian, pinned by a broken console. Jarred moved further into the confined space, stepping over broken displays and other equipment. The Ambassador knelt down beside the wounded Valcarian and took her pulse. There was a flicker of relief and a moment later the wounded Valcarian moved slightly. She was still alive. Faris: ::Faintly.:: The navigation system became completely unresponsive, and the manual controls wouldn’t work either. It seemed deliberate. The automatic distress beacon worked though. ::So much talking was taking its toll on the injured officer.:: I should have run a more ::Pause:: detailed, diagnostic- Dels’an: No, it’s alright. ::She squeezed the pilot’s hand, who seemed to be drifting off.:: We’ve all survived the crash. Now we are going to get out of here. Get ready to move, Commander. Jarred took a few steps forward, broken glass cracking under his feet. Thankfully the main viewscreen had remained mostly intact. Otherwise the room would have very quickly turned into a fridge from the outside air temperature. From what he had heard from the injured crewman, the crash was no mere accident, but an act of sabotage. The distress beacon would be giving away their position and Jarred surmised it would only be a matter of time before those responsible found them. Serala / McKnight / Nehir / Revix: Responses Dels’an: We can’t stay here. The number of people who could pull an attack like this off isn’t long, and most of them are very dangerous people. I’d suspect General Asil or Director Varus organizing this. Neither of them would leave things to chance like this. Whoever arranged this crash will be here to make sure it did the job. Thoran: oO Asil? Oo It was a name he recalled. It took a few seconds before he realised where he had heard it before. Lt. General Rotork Asil had been the Valcarian representative sent to Arndall to negotiate an end to the Valcarian siege of the planet. It had been when the Kam’Jahtae had erupted from beneath the planet’s surface, leaving a wave of destruction in their wake, and the planet that Dairro had lost her life. Jarred’s eyes momentarily fell to the floor as he remembered the incident. ((Flashback)) Green flashes buzzed passed, cracking in the air as they flew past him. Risking a look back, he could clearly make out the creatures, four emerald green eyes glowing in the dim light. They let out a screech as Jarred reached for his phaser and fired a few shots towards them when he heard Dairro cry out. Looking to his side his saw his friend lay on the floor, blood oozing beneath her. He rushed over to her, continuing to fire towards the aliens. He crouched down beside her, ducking his head as he did so. From this distance the wound was obvious, a mess, as if she’d been shot by two different weapons at once. There was a dark red hole, blood pouring from it as if in slow motion, soaking into her uniform. She looked up to him their eyes locking, as he cradled her, each of them bathed in her blood. He could feel his face begin to crack as she smiled briefly, before her breathing became a noisy rattle and she began to cough, flecking Jarred’s face with blood. A split second later and she went limp in his arms. Jarred let out a roar, screaming into the walls. ((End Flashback)) He pulled himself from the memory, reminding him that now was not the time to dwell on the past. Serala / McKnight / Nehir / Revix: Responses Thoran: What do you suggest our next move would be Ambassador? Dels’an: The villa would be half an hour away on foot, but we can’t go there. That would be the next place they would check when they don’t find my body in the wreckage. ::She examined the frozen, corrupted navigational display and considered the surrounding area.:: If we go northeast from here, there’s an abandoned outpost we could use. Out of service for more than twenty years and not included on up-to-date maps. The Ambassador’s logic was sound. If they had been able to sabotage the Ambassador’s yacht, then it was likely they would be able to access the villa. They needed somewhere out of the way, for the moment at least. Thoran: Then that sounds like our best chance. Everybody, grab anything you can carry. We’ll depart in five. Serala / McKnight / Nehir / Revix: Responses Dels’an: Someone help me get her out of here. Anyone who’s still here when the saboteurs return to finish the job is dead. The wounded Valcarian would slow them down considerably and it was reaffirming to see that she held a no man left behind attitude. Even if it would make their own flight difficult. Jarred moved forward, taking hold of the console that pinned the Valcarian to their chair. Thoran: On the count of three, we’ll pull the console up. Somebody get ready to move Faris. One.. two.. Three. Jarred heaved with all his strength, the broken console barely moving. He could feel his face redden and his knuckles were turning white as he continued trying to hoist the console upwards. Finally they managed to create enough space for Faris to be moved. Once she was clear, they released the console, which fell to the floor, the display shattering. Thoran: We won’t be able to get far with her in that state. We need to make a stretcher. Take it in turns to carry her. ::He turned to Serala and one of the Romulans.:: Find anything we could use. Serala / Revix: Responses Thoran: Counselor, Mister McKnight, I understand you both have rudimentary first aid training. Are you able to stabilise Faris enough for transport? McKnight / Nehir: Responses Thoran: Ambassador, how long do you think it will take for somebody to pick up the signal and make tracks towards us? Dels’an: Response
  2. Being a recent transfer to Ops, I really enjoyed this bit of story arc regarding @Taelon. Great sim! ((Starfleet Intel HQ – London, Earth)) (time index: several days into shore leave) Once he’d looked at Earth from a frieghter’s window and been in awe of its beauty, its sparkling blue seas and rolling green. It’d been a contrast to the reddish dust and green clouds of his birth planet. The Academy had been the first thing he’d truly done on his own, and had seemed almost magical. Now he was back - and not as a welcomed newcomer. Now the looks he got were dark. They thought he’d done something he hadn’t. Taelon wasn’t sure what they even wanted him to reveal at his point; he’d told them as much as he could. Except he hadn’t, he knew he hadn’t. He’d been on a ship in contact with the Klingon military, seen the lists of dissidents and spies, even helped identify some of them. He’d helped Kaskis Ril for 15 years. The last time he’d seen Kaskis, she’d knifed him in the gut. For most people, this would have ended any loyalty they’d had. For Taelon, well, he’d deserved it, hadn’t he? He’d been lying to her for years, claiming to know nothing and to be some exile from Federation space. The fact she’d have skinned him alive for his command codes didn’t factor into his thought process much, but it did come to him on dark nights. He’d seen enough as part of her crew to know how Klingons got information out of people. If they’d discovered he was a ranking Federation officer from 20 years in the future... But they hadn’t. Instead he’d been a loyal follower, the bounty hunter’s mechanic and medic of sorts. He’d been with her for a long time, and that knifing had hardly been the first time she’d struck at him in what he considered justified retribution. He could use her backing now, he thought, standing in the dock. Despite his towering height, Taelon’s body language was hardly intimidating; if anything, it made his answers seem worse. He tugged at the edges of his sleeves, worried his lower lip, and held himself closely, tucking his arms up against his sides and curling in around himself. He struggled to maintain eye contact. This was quite normal for him when he was uncomfortable, and with the added stress, his nervous ticks grew worse; already he’d nibbled through his lower lip, blood visible on his tongue briefly. All this did, however, serve to make him seem evasive. About halfway through he seemed to realize that and tried to steel himself, but DeMarcus’ looks and body language made him shrink back and fail. DeMarcus: Do you deny you worked with this cult, despite having evidence that you were on Zeta Iomis IV? Taelon’s rising panic was clear to everyone watching. He saw Sal Taybrim and locked eyes with him briefly and that seemed to give him some measure of comfort; he took a few steadying breaths before he replied. Taelon: I’ve never worked with the Cult of Molor. Zeta Iomis IV was thought to be one of the hideouts for the Screaming Warriguls, so Captain Ril wanted it investigated. I merely - we merely did what she ordered. That might well have been the longest he’d gone without a small stutter, and this only seemed to make DeMarcus more doubtful rather than less. DeMarcus: That is convenient. Would you care to elucidate on what you were doing on the IKS Qulp’law? Taelon: I was - ::He stopped, fingers twisting together so tightly that his knuckles popped.:: I acted as her mechanic and maintained the crew’s w-weapons and assault vehicles. ::He stopped again, biting his lip before adding-:: I, I invented some new tech for them as well. To help with the - to help with their work. I’ve documented my time with them for the Temporal authorities…. DeMarcus: Seems convenient. Taelon clearly didn’t know what to say to that; he lowered his gaze again before he managed a reply. Taelon: W-well, it’s the truth... The Intelligence officer’s look was one of disgust. He paced, each click of his heeled boots echoing. DeMarcus: Also convenient that you left the Narendra and shortly thereafter the cult was able to infiltrate the ship… Taelon gawked at him, his gaze going to the crowd - to Sal, to others he’d talked to before. Whatever he’d guessed he was accused of, having put the Cult on the Narendra wasn’t included in that. He stammered. Despite his timid nature, it was clear he was offended. Taelon: Why would I - I’d never tell a group of killers where my colleagues were! Especially not after - not after - He fell silent, shaking hands holding the edge of the dock. His knuckles were white. DeMarcus: ::More forcefully:: Someone had to leak security details! Someone had to tell the Klingons! Taelon: Whatever it is I’ve done, or - or you think I’ve done… I wouldn’t h-hurt other members of the Federation - DeMarcus cut him off with a scoff, the man’s posture growing more intimidating. DeMarcus: Like you weren’t responsible for the death of undercover operative K’Tomj? ::He smiled with a vicious expression. He knew the Starfleet intel operative was killed after contact with the Qulp’law.:: Taelon’s mouth opened, but he said nothing for a long moment, eventually clicking his mouth shut. He looked around the room again. It was true he’d killed the man. It’d been a routine job with Ril’s crew up until he saw the reports afterwards. Taelon: I didn’t - I didn’t know about him. It was just a routine bounty, until we saw his intel… DeMarcus/Any: ? Licking his lips nervously, Taelon’s gaze dropped yet again. He didn’t know, how could he, it wasn’t like that at the time - he was keenly aware of his responses repeating over and over. But they were true. How could have known about a spy who was emplaced years before he’d even joined Starfleet? He should have seen the clues, but at the time it’d been a hostile planet and people had been quick to start shooting the moment things went south. He didn’t know what to say any more. Taelon: I’ve studied the cult under Captain Ril for years. And I might - I might make things you people - ::He stopped and quickly corrected himself.:: I might design things that, that the Federation doesn’t like, but I don’t - the Cult wants to hurt people. I want to p-protect them…
  3. This sim is a teaser for our upcoming mission. When I read it, I had a sense of deja-vu. It turns out that it was a flashback sim, the dialogue was lifted from a set of sims I was lucky enough to be a part of six months ago, but instead written from the point of view of two Romulans that went into the diner. This is very Pulp Fiction of you @Roshanara Rahman and brilliantly done! Love it. ((Welder's Diner, Ketar V - Stardate 239607)) Kivas shook his head at his friend and fellow Romulan Sajok as they both stood in the famous Welder’s Diner, home of the Shoals’ best burgers. The two refugees had found work at the nearby Livernois Shipyard, working on one of the Starfleet contracts. While there were plenty of shipyards across the planet offering work, many Romulans and Remans had taken up the openings at Livernois because Starfleet had specific affirmative action policies in place to ensure fair hiring practices. While Ketar V was technically a Federation world, Kivas had found that some of the residents of the oldest colony in the Shoals exhibited rather provincial attitudes when it came to his kind. Perhaps it was the distance and the slow communications or the history of the colony’s growth, with many early settlers having ancestors who had fought in that first Earth-Romulan war of so long ago, but whatever the reason, the former university professor had discovered that humans and other Federation citizens out here sometimes struggled to live up to their supposed ideals. Today, one human customer at the diner in particular was struggling. Human customer: This establishment isn't for your kind. Kivas gave Sajok a coy smile before looking back at the human man who was now standing a little closer to them. Kivas: It's always so humbling to see that great Federation enlightenment on display. Human customer: This ain't got nothing to do with the Federation. If it were up to me, none of you lot would be here. Yet despite what some of the refugees thought, Kivas knew not all humans were like this. In fact, he wouldn’t even say that most of them were like this. And case in point, their waitress came over to break up the commotion and kick out the disruptive customer. Waitress: Well, fortunately, it's not up to you. And if you're going to harass other customers, then I'm going to ask you to leave. ::She looked over at the Romulans and gestured to one of the open tables.:: I'm sorry gentlemen, please take a seat. Kivas and Sajok gave a polite nod to the waitress as they walked past the man, who continued to give them an unfriendly stare before he then looked over at a few Starfleet officers sitting in a both by the windows. Human customer: Meh, this place isn't what it used to be anyway. Too much trash piling up. Sajok grumbled as the two men grabbed their table. Sajok: I don’t know why you like coming here. Plenty of places we can go without being harassed. Unlike Kivas, who first arrived on Ketar with the first wave of refugees during the start of the resettlement program in 2388, Sajok was a more recent arrival. Previously a civil engineer, he’d lived on Ketar now for two years, but it still wasn’t home for him, and his wife had been pushing for them to move their family of four to another refugee settlement such as Bilire VI. Unlike Ketar, Bilire was previously uninhabited before the refugee colony there was established in the wake of the Hobus supernova that had destroyed Romulus and Remus. Kivas: I am a resident of Ketar, which means I can go where I please. ::opens a menu:: And so I will. He looked up from his menu, making a point to his dining companion. Kivas: It’s important we remind them that we have just as much a right to be here as they do. ::beat:: And that we’re not going anywhere. The other Romulan scoffed as he opened his menu. Sajok: Speak for yourself… I don’t see what’s so great about this place. Kivas: Look around you, Sajok. This is a world built through blood, sweat, and tears. It’s a rare colony world with actual history—it predates the Federation itself. We are but one new chapter in its story. Sajok shook his head. Sajok: I never realized you were such a romantic. Kivas: Well, and I like the Hawaiian teriyaki burger. This Earth fruit—pineapple. It’s quite something! His companion just chuckled as he continued to look over the menu. ((Later)) With their food ordered, the two Romulans were minding their own business waiting for their lunch when the human man from earlier returned to the diner. Except this time, he wasn't alone. As he and two others walked in, they glanced at the Starfleet officers before walking over to Kivas and Sajok. Human customer from earlier: Well, well, look who's still here... One of the man’s new companions, a human woman with olive skin and long blonde messy dreadlocks spoke up, while gesturing towards the Starfleet officers. Human woman: And your Starfleet friends here can’t help you. Human customer from earlier: It seems you didn't get the message that you aren't welcome here, Romulan. Sajok: We are just waiting for our burgers. The waitress addressed the human customer from earlier. Waitress: I told you to leave, sir. I don't like your attitude. Human customer: And I don't like having to work with these green-blooded snakes... ::chuckles as he looks back up at the waitress:: Sajok didn’t have the same patience as Kivas. He stood up and leaned forward. Sajok: Is that so! ::Looking around diner:: Is *this* how the Federation treats refugees? Then I would be happy to take this outside! Brushing her hair back, the female human stepped up towards Sajok. Human woman: Nope. Here’s just fine. Perhaps Sajok was right, Kivas thought. He was about to stand up to walk with Sajok to another establishment when one of the Starfleet officers from across the room called out. Starfleet security officer: ENOUGH! You have no authority to ban anyone in here. She :: pointing to the waitress :: has made it clear they can stay. :: To the Romulans :: And no, they're not a representation of what the Federation is. Another one of the Starfleet officers tapped his combadge. Starfleet engineer: =/\= Lieutenant Ukinix to any CCMS. Require presence at… ::looking at window:: …Welder’s Diner, opposite Livernois Shipyard offices, ::looking back:: there’s an altercation in progress. :: CCMS: =/\= Understood, we are en-route. =/\= The human woman with dreadlocks walked over to taunt the Starfleet officers. Human woman: Typical Starfleet. *Always* poking your nose in where it isn’t wanted. At this, the other Starfleet officer stood up to join his companion already standing. There was a third officer, a woman who remained seated. Kivas watched her curiously. She clearly was trying to keep the peace as well despite her distaste at what was going on. She wasn’t looking at him, but if she had been, he’d have exchanged a nod of understanding. All they wanted was to keep the peace. Starfleet security officer: We poke our noses where there are problems and right now, you're the problem. You have a chance to leave before the CCMS arrive. :: Looking at her eyes with all his height :: Your choice. Human woman: Hmmph. The woman seemed to walk away but then suddenly spun around to deliver a sucker punch. However, she wasn’t fast enough for the security officer to miss her telegraphing of her attack. He caught her fist in his hand and somehow crushed her knuckles with his grasp. The woman grunted before the man knocked her down with his other hand. As this was going on, the two other human men lunged at Sajok. Despite Kivas’ distaste for violence, he wasn’t going to abandon his companion. He stood up to face off against the attackers. The brawl in the diner quickly got ugly as fists and kicks were shot out. With the help of the Starfleet officers, though, they were able to subdue their attackers. The female Starfleet officer walked over to one of her shipmates. Starfleet command officer: Are you all right? Starfleet engineer: ::Panting, nodding:: Yeah, fine. The woman then walked over to Kivas and Sajok. Starfleet command officer: And you? Kivas looked over at Sajok, who nodded first, before he turned his head back at the woman and nodded. It was at that moment then that several Colonial Coalition Marshals swarmed into the building. Marshal: What's going on here? Starfleet security officer: Don't tell that I didn't gave you a chance to leave. :: to the officers :: I'm Commander Kelrod Chief of Security of the USS Veritas. This woman will require medical attention. Human woman: Marshal, we were just trying to have a meal when this [...] started shooting! ::She raised her arm up to show the marshal as his partner went to look over at the unconscious bodies.:: He crushed my hand! Sajok called out to the injured human and the marshal. Sajok: That was only after you tried to start a fight. You shouldn't start something unless you intend to finish it. The Starfleet security officer called Kelrod walked over to the two Romulans. Kelrod: I hope you're okay. I'll be happy to help you get medical attention if you require it. Kivas: Thank you... Kelrod: I personally consider Romulans a strong and intelligent people. In fact, Starfleet has Romulans or part Romulans serving. I hope that you are open to reconsider your … views of the Federation. But the man’s companion looked worried. Starfleet command officer: ::whispers:: Commander, I don't think this is over... Kelrod: I'm sorry for the mess. Please, give my compliments to the kitchen. I'll be sure to come back next time I'm around, if it's fine with you. Marshal: Not so fast! You all are under arrest. The female Starfleet officer fired back in either disbelief or indignation. Starfleet command officer: On what charges? Marshal: Disturbing the peace, discharging a phaser in public, assault... need I go on, little lady? Ukinix: “Little Lady”!! Who the fff- Her other shipmate didn’t appreciate that comment. Whoever these people were, they were quite protective of each other. Kivas admired that and recognized it in the Romulan spirit as well. Kelrod: Easy Wil... And Marshal, you're talking to a Starfleet captain. Show her the respect she deserves. Kivas: oO Captain? Oo The captain raised her hand again to try to tell her shipmates not to resist. Starfleet captain: We'll sort this out at the marshal's office. As the three were escorted in handcuffs out of the diner, Kivas continued to watch them with intrigue. Sajok walked up next to him to watch as well. Sajok: Well, you happy? You think you really made your point? Kivas continued to watch the Starfleet officers as they were placed into a CCMS transport vehicle before he looked back at Sajok. Kivas: I don’t know if I did. ::He gestured to the arrested Starfleet officers.:: But I think they might have. The waitress walked over to the two Romulans, looking apologetic. Waitress: Sorry again for this whole mess… ::She shook her head.:: Your burgers are ready… if you still want them, that is. Kivas just smiled. Kivas: Yes, of course! We cannot waste the pineapple! As Kivas made his way back to the table, Sajok just shook his head before glancing for one last time at the CCMS transport vehicle as it sped away back to the station. Kivas and Sajok Romulan Refugees, Ketar V I238705TZ0
  4. ((Research Outpost, Giáng Sinh)) Jona stood up one last time from his chair near the fire and bobbed his antennae at each person in turn. ch'Ranni: Counselor, ... Commander, ... James. Thank you all for the talk. I think I know what I need to do now. Thank you all. Fortune: Ah! Thank you for joining us! If you need anything, just pop back by, okay? Colquhoun: See you later, Jona. Sevo: It was an...interesting sort of pleasure talking. Jona slowly moved off from the group and toward his assigned cabin. He had a lot of thinking to do and a couple of letters to write. ((Timeskip)) After a few hours of laying in the prefab cabin's bunk - wide awake - Jona sat up and activated the light switch next to the bed. He grabbed the PADD sitting on the side table and cracked his neck each side. The Andorian tapped away at the tablet, calling up his personal communication repository. His thin, pale blue fingers danced across the surface as he queued up a new message. It was time to get something off his chest. ch'Ranni: Record personal communication. Authorization ch'Ranni delta zero one nine two. Lieutenant Jona ch'Ranni, USS Gorkon, to Vexa zh'Lev, Dehner Base, Delta Vega I. Dear Vexa... Jona paused. He didn't really know how to begin. How was he suppose to tell her everything that was in her heart? Could he even do that? Did he himself even know what was in his heart? ch'Ranni: Vexa, I've missed you so much this past month. It was so hard saying goodbye. I think we were both worried that the long distance thing wasn't going to be easy. Believe me ... it hasn't been. He stopped speaking for a second as he pictured the impish smile of his girlfriend. They had believed they had all the time in the world and then life and duty slashed that naivete to pieces faster than a rookie at a bat'leth competition. It was done and over far too soon. ch'Ranni: I just wanted to say that ... due to recent experiences ... I have been thinking a lot about life and the choices before me. Am I happy with the way things are going, the way they've turned out? No, not really. The Q's skewering of his personality and sum of life choices had really gotten to him. More than he wanted to admit, especially to his new shipmates. Was he stuck on autopilot? Was he caught in the current of life, destined to make the same decisions no matter what? ch'Ranni: I want to see you. I want to make this work. I'm not happy without you and I hope you feel the same way. I'm determined to be there for you. Don't give up on me, Vexa. Satisfied with the words, Jona tapped the send button and immediately saw that a message had arrived while he was composing his. It was from Vexa! Jona grinned and remembered a Terran expression about great minds thinking alike. He quickly opened the message and his grin slowly began to fade from his face. Vexa: Jona, this isn't working. I care about you very much. But, this isn't working. This past month has been hard on me and I'm sure it has been on you two. You deserve better. And so do I. I've met someone, Jona. A new addition to Dehner Base's security personnel. I'm so sorry. I hope you find happiness and peace. Jona powered off the screen and clicked the room's light off. He lay his head back down on the pillow as tears wet his face. -- Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Chief of Operations USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) C239510JC0
  5. ((Security Complex, Deck 4, USS Atlantis)) The last few days had been a blur for Maddi after the scene of Esa running off she decided to just leave it alone and give Esa space. oO Was it me? I don’t know, but I’m going to leave it alone. Oo The best way for Maddi to forget it was to immerse herself in her work. It was the best medicine Maddi had and at the moment it was the only thing keeping her sane. She had been told that an important guest was coming. She had pulled all of her security forces to the complex for a briefing. She had prepared the presentation and the room was full of yellow uniformed men and women. oO This is really happening I’m Chief. Oo Hyden: Good morning everyone! I have called you here to prepare for the arrival of the Valcarians Ambassador. The security of the ship is of the utmost importance. Regardless of our relationship with the Valcarians it is our job to make sure the guests are safe and protected, but also that the ships vital areas are sealed off from prying eyes. As this is an important dignitary and we do not know how long they will be with us we will be working on continuous shifts. When they arrive I want Security to be on high alert. All systems are calibrated and set. The security complex will be locked to any and all guest unless properly escorted. If I am on the bridge I expect teams Alpha, Beta, and Charlie to be patrolling and guarding as shown on your PADDS. Maddi stopped for a minute scanning the room to see if there was any looks of confusion, as none were present she opened the floor to questions. Anyone: Response ((OOC: Happy to add to this part if security people want to jump in.)) ((Short Timeskip)) The briefing went extraordinarily well especially considering it was her first time doing it by herself. She didn’t have time to pat herself on the back though she had to go through and recheck all the vital security systems on the ship. She trusted the other personnel, but as Chief she wanted to make sure everything was set for the arrival of the ambassador. She headed to the armory and pulled out her PADD. She kept a strict inventory of the weapons on the ship and she was going to make sure that those numbers matched. It took her a considerable amount of time to check that the numbers were right, but after a few hours she felt sure her numbers were correct. She locked the lockers and made sure the security measures were in place before departing. She was running late to her next check, but then again there was no exact schedule; however it was one she adhered too and wanted to make sure she kept. She headed to the transporter room and began scanning the security measures in place, as the security chief she opened the consoles security measures and checked the systems everything was running correctly except the console was not recognizing the officer on duty. Maddi decided to help him out, as she looked through the systems it appeared the man had been somehow deleted from the system. It took Maddi a few minutes, but she reintegrated him into the security system and he was able to work the transporter. After checking the perimeter of the room for any anomalies and being satisfied there was not she moved on. oO Gosh I could really use some food. Oo Her stomach growled as the thought registered with the rest of her body. She needed something to eat, but she had so much to do she wasn’t sure she could take the time for food, but there was something she always had time for. She swung by the mess hall and replicated a mug of chocolate milk on the go. As she took a sip the sugary taste gave her a boost to continue. She quickly headed out of the mess hall and headed for the shuttlebay. The Valcarians were picky on the use of transporters and Maddi was unsure which one they would prefer to use so she would check both. She began her initial checks of the shuttlebay which brought up a few small issues. She was big on making sure the security measures of doors and interfaces were calibrated correctly. The security display showed discrepancies between the profiles allowed and the profiles restricted. As she scrolled through the list she noticed some officers of the restricted list and some guest who should not be accessing the shuttlebay granted access. oO I’m sure it’s just a mistake, but it’s one that needs fixed. Oo She began the tedious task of reassigning the permissions to the correct profiles. That task was easy, but tedious it took a lot of concentration and many drinks of her chocolate milk to get her through. A few officers had walked through while she was working and had given her a puzzled look. She smiled politely and continued her work. After a short while the profiles were set correctly and she was satisfied with the recheck of diagnostics. She looked at the time the day had flown by her time had been used appropriately, but it was nearing the end of her shift, but she still had to go look over the shuttle, check the systems on the bridge, and hand the final assessment to Thoran. oO Hopefully the shuttle doesn’t pose any real problems. Oo She headed to the shuttle and began the deep inspection of its systems. The initial checks were great, but the security systems on the ship had been rearranged to the specifications of the pilot who had been flying it. Maddi understood that sometimes the systems in place were a difficult barrier, but their reasons for being there were important and unfortunately it made Maddi have to do her job even when it wasn’t what she wanted to do. Hyden: =/\= Hyden to Teravalis. Could you come to shuttlebay two? =/\= Teravalis: =/\= Response =/\= Hyden: =/\= Thank you. =/\= ((Short Timeskip)) Maddi had decided to wait before resetting the systems to the correct setting. She was going to wait for Teravalis. She waited for a few minutes before the pilot slowly approached her looking slightly scared. Hyden: Hello Ensign! Teravalis: Response Hyden: There’s Nothing to be scared about just something you need to know. I was reviewing the Security protocols and saw you has changed a few to better accommodate you while you fly. As there are ways to help you it is not suggested to mess with the default settings. They’re in place for your safety. Teravalis: Response Maddi listened to the inflection of her voice and being able to tell she was sorry for what she did. Maddi also listens to her reasoning and decided to work with the woman. Hyden: Well let's see what I can do for you. I understand the reasoning behind why you did it and can see why it’s easier, but maybe we can change a few things, but keep the setting in the proper protocols. Maddi changed a few setting that she thought might make it easier for the pilot. Hyden: How’s that? Teravalis: Response Hyden: Excellent! Thanks for understanding if you need anything else just let me know! I will make sure this is implemented on all the shuttle for you. You’re dismissed. She smiled as the woman departed the shuttle. oO She is definitely skilled and I’m glad I can help her. Oo Maddi tried to take a sip of chocolate milk, but there was none in the cup she quickly replicated more and took a sip which gave her another boost of energy. oO This is probably not the best way to keep energy, but it tastes so good. Oo She finished up the checks after making sure the few changes were set in the shuttle and locked under her codes only, but she would inform the Captain in her report. She stopped and added this part to her report that was rather lengthy on the PADD. She was starting to feel tired, but she would press on. She headed for the bridge, but when she arrived it was empty except for the night crew. She smiled sheepishly to the group and casually slid into the security consoles spot. She began the lvl 3 diagnostics of all the ships security systems. The check came back good and everything was perfect on the bridge. It took her around 45 minutes to complete the task, but after completing it and feeling satisfied with the result. She headed back to her office to finish her report. She arrived at her office moments later, but the exhaustion began to sweep in and the hunger was worse than before. She had to eat if she was going to stay up. She went over to her replicator and requested a bacon cheeseburger and a giant glass of more milk. She ate the sandwich and began her report. It was much more detailed than she had expected, but that was how her job went and she made sure that all the information was apparent in the report. She stopped for a minute and Esa slipped into her mind, but Maddi continued her work. oO She needs space. I just hope she will talk to me. I miss her. She really laid into me that night. Oo She continued working on her report, as well as the many other that had stacked up on her desk. After hours of work she was done. She had finished all her backlogged work and the report for the Captain. She looked at the time it was already morning and she was pretty sure the Commander would be in his office. So she headed to his ready room. She took a deep breath to try and fight the exhaustion in her body. She waited after activating the chime to hear the words to enter the room. She entered the room and smile with the PADD tucked under her arms. Hyden: Hello Commander, I have finished my security assessment for the arrival of the Ambassador and the systems of the ship for you. Thoran: Response
  6. This was a brilliant piece of writing! Well done @Lael Rosek and @Toryn Raga. I couldn't stop reading it at work on break till I finished it. I think I was a minute late lol. ((Corridor, Deck 3, USS Atlantis)) {{Day 3 of shoreleave, Late evening}} It had been another long day of avoiding Toryn. She freely admitted she was attracted to him and that his company soothed her in ways she couldn’t begin to understand. That wasn’t the difficult part. Something about the situation between them made her wary of messing it up. She’d taken her space after the last away mission, not wanting to rush into things any more than they already had. There’d been very little communication between them in the way of getting to know one another. Most of what she did know about him had been gleaned either from his Starfleet records or from shrewd observation. There was no discounting what they’d been through together and the intimacy that they’d shared in the process, but she was nervous. She’d been hurt so much in the past and wasn’t sure if love was something she was interested in. It made her much different than other Al-Leyans in that she had considered monogamy. Al-Leyans weren’t monogamous by nature and yet, the idea of one person she could always rely on and didn’t have to share did have its appeal. There had been an uncomfortable feeling he’d been dealing with since the mission ended. He couldn’t place it, but Toryn had the suspicion that Ishka had been avoiding him. It brought back unpleasant memories of Serala, one of his two best friends, doing everything she could to put as much space between them as possible and being blunt to the point that it didn’t even feel as though they were close friends. Thankfully, that seemed to have passed, but to be honest the two of them hadn’t actually spoken much lately. His thoughts wandered back to Ishka as he realized he could feel her nearby. That wasn’t surprising. It was a small ship and he could always sense her mind. The only one on board that he could. It made him respect what their resident Rodulans must go through hearing everyone’s thoughts. He should have been focused on where he was going, as he rounded the corner he practically bowled someone over in his quick stride. She’d been so lost in her thoughts that she hadn’t noticed the familiar presence of Toryn’s mind nearby until it was too late. As she rounded a corner, she made hard contact with something solid. Thankfully, she was able to keep her footing and as soon as she was certain she wasn’t going to fall, she glanced up to find herself staring into the impossibly deep blue eyes of the very man she’d hoped to avoid until she could sort out what she was feeling. That gaze felt like staring into a stellar nursery. Or a gravitic anomaly because for the life of him he couldn’t tear his eyes away from the vibrant emeralds in front of him. Framed by the fiery red mane she was breathtaking. Literally and figuratively as he stood there, trying to assemble coherent letters into words, then words into a sentence. Raga: oO Winds she’s the most beautiful woman I’ve met. Oo I’m sorry, doc. Are you alright? She wasn’t sure how to respond at first. The formality had her fighting back a wince. He’d been so free with her given name on multiple occasions while they were on the surface. Had it just been the heat of the moment? Adrenaline? It had been so freeing the couple of times she’d used his given name. Every touch had been more real for it. Something about the intimacy had helped her keep her focus. She’d worried that her personal feelings for Toryn would get in the way of her professionalism, but what had happened on Paldor II was proof that she’d been overthinking it. Or so she’d thought. Journs: ::gaze drops and murmurs:: I’m sorry, sir. It’s my fault. I wasn’t paying attention. Raga: It’s alright Ishka. I wasn’t looking where I was going either. Had she not lowered her gaze it would have been nigh impossible for him to look away. But he visually examined her from head to toe, not finding any signs of injury. Not that he expected there to be. Al-Leyans were a hearty bunch. However, he gently touched a crooked finger under her chin to raise her gaze to his again. Raga: I really wish you’d stop doing that. ::He whispered:: Your eyes are too beautiful to hide. A flush crept into her cheeks, one that she failed to hide despite her best efforts. The mixed messages made her even more timid than usual. Worrying her lower lip, she lifted her gaze to his, her mouth agape slightly as the tip of her tongue peeked out to moisten her lips. Winds, but he was attractive...and so charming. Any sense she had was scattered to the winds when he called her or any part of her beautiful. The compliment drew a shy smile. Journs: ::breathily:: I-- Any words that she’d managed to string together in her mind in response clearly hadn’t made it all the way to her mouth. What could she say to this beautiful man who had held her in his arms and worshipped her for hours? Part of him couldn’t help but smile a bit at her expression. The crimson that filled her cheeks could likely be detected by the ship’s sensors at this point. And that thing she did with her lip only added to her own allure. Eventually, awareness of things other than the radiant entity before him filtered into his perceptions and he glanced around with a grin. Raga: Were you headed anywhere in particular? ::He asked, clearing his throat slightly:: They were just standing there in the corridor and if she wasn’t doing anything, maybe they could talk. Clear up a few things or at least try to sort out this intense tension between them. Again, she worried her lower lip. Her thoughts had been focused on her couch in her quarters and maybe another night of movies and chocolate ice cream. Journs: Um...nothing specific. Why? His brow raised and a slight smirk curled his lips. The thought of spending time with her was enough to quicken his pulse by a warp factor of ten at least. Raga: Well, I don’t have plans. And I know that last mission was tough on all of us. If you want we could talk a bit. We haven’t really had much time to get to know each other much. Which was quite amusing if he took a moment to consider they’d already been quite intimate and that was just about the most, well, intimate way to know someone. Raga: My quarters are right over there and for once Kurt isn’t mimicking a statue outside. She smiled wanly at the memory of her and Toryn’s first night together when she’d had to make excuses to Logan in order to gain entrance to Toryn’s quarters. He wanted to talk and though she was certain he meant it, she also suspected that thoughts of their last intimate encounter were occupying his mind at that same moment. Despite fighting the desire to spend time with him alone these last few days, she couldn’t help the way her heartrate picked up at the thought of sharing that intimacy with him again. It was all she’d wanted on Paldor II. Journs: ::softly:: Okay. No matter how hard they both were trying to conceal their thoughts from one another it was impossible for him to not hear her heartbeat. It brought a warm smile to his face even before she agreed to spend time with him. Raga: Great! ::He felt silly just how excited he’d sounded and realized he was louder too:: oO You’d think I’d never gone through my season or something. Oo He chided himself mentally and turned on his bootheel. Toryn lead her back to his quarters, which were only just down the next corridor. Mid hull on the Starboard side. The door swished open and he stepped inside, gesturing for her to follow. A soft hoot came from the corner at their entry and he smiled at Sylara. Toryn looked back to her as he stood midway between the door and the replicator. ((Raga’s Quarters)) Raga: Would you like something to drink? Just being in his quarters again stirred memories of their passionate night and she felt a shiver race down her spine. It had been the most intense coupling of her young life, and that was saying something given how many lovers she’d had. Though they’d destroyed the majority of his quarters in their desperation to get as close as possible, there had been a tenderness to Toryn’s actions. She’d felt special and protected. Journs: Al-Leyan spiced tea. He gave a nod and stepped in front of the replicator if only to give himself a reprieve from having to actually think about how to start such a conversation. Raga: Two Al-Leyan Spiced teas. Hot. ::He looked back:: Make yourself at home. The replicator whirred and a moment later the requested beverages appeared in the usual swirl of blue and white luminescence. Steam rose from the mugs and he grasped them by the handles and joined her in the living area. Offering one mug to her before he took a seat on the large couch beneath the window looking out at Paldor II. For a moment, she sat still in the quiet, taking a long sip of her tea. Her racing heart missed a beat or two only two resume its normal rhythm. A nervous energy filled the space between them Something was developing...something serious...though it seemed neither wanted to admit it. Her gaze lifted to meet his. She wasn’t a risk-taker. Like most of her species, she calculated every possible risk before arriving at a conclusion. Not with Toryn. She’d done things these last few days that would typically be outside of her comfort zone. She’d followed him without a second thought, not stopping once to question the recklessness of his choices, and she didn’t regret a moment. Setting the mug of tea down on the coffee table, she lifted slightly shaking hands to cradle his face tenderly, running one thumb over the swell of his lower lip. Journs: You make me utterly crazy. Even when we’re together, I can’t stop thinking about you. I’m trying to go slow and not ruin a good thing before it truly has a chance to start, but… Toryn sat there, his own mug still clutched in his hand as he hadn’t decided to actually partake or set it down. And then he felt her soft, yet trembling hands cradle his face. The thumb brushing across his lips felt like electrical sparks the way his being reacted to the contact. Raga: So it’s not just me then? ::He muttered softly, as if he were one asylum patient confessing to another:: I’ve thought about you more in these past few days than anyone I’ve ever.. Slept with? Loved? Been attracted to? All of the above? He struggled how to finish that thought, his words trailed off as he couldn’t settle on any one in particular. He reached up to cradle her hands in one of his own and the other extended to brush fingers through her hair. Her gaze dropped to his lips and she leaned forward slowly, brushing her lips chastely over his before pulling back and staring into his eyes. She pulled one hand free and slid it up the side of his face, brushing the tip of his ear tenderly. It was an intimate gesture typically reserved for lovers as the location was one of an Al-Leyan’s most sensitive places. A soft smile turned up the corners of her lips as she leaned closer to him, longing to feel the weight of his body pressed against hers. There was something about his masculine strength that made her feel so warm and protected. It never failed to drive away any worries of the day. Toryn felt the chaste kiss and the brief contact of her supple lips to his was enough to steal his breath. He’d been longing for her company since the crisis on the surface. When she was facing a lost patient he wanted to pull her into his arms. Hold her until she felt better, or bring her to his quarters and pamper her with intimacy until she forgot. Seeing her smile, he couldn’t help but do the same and he reached out to set his mug down as she leaned in. With both hands-free he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her against him. He’d wanted to talk, they needed to but it was almost futile to resist or deny the magnetic pull he felt towards her. His hands caressed her back as he drew her against his chest. He stared into those emerald pools of hers and let his lips tenderly meet hers. A passionate kiss ensued, one that even took him by surprise. For a long moment, she allowed herself to be lost in it, closing her eyes and enjoying the way his lips felt against hers. She arched her neck, exposing her bare throat to his kisses even as she buried shaking hands into his dark raven locks. For a few moments, she allowed it, then sighed and pushed at his chest with one hand, the other on his shoulder to hold him firmly in place. Journs: ::breathily:: I thought you wanted to talk. Toryn lost himself in her for that long moment and then sense kicked in with one of them and she broached the reason for them visiting his quarters. The dutiful former Tac/Sec chief cleared his throat and nodded. Sitting back against the cushion of the couch, but still embracing her he licked his lips, Raga: Sorry. You’re right. ::He smiled:: I can’t seem to help myself around you. ::He muttered softly:: What is this we seem to have between us? Journs: ::touches her forehead to his and sighs:: I don’t know. It’s not like me to be so reckless. On Paldor II with the stampede--I just reacted. I saw you risking your life and I reacted. Hearing her say that he felt a twinge of guilt and inadequacy. Toryn was by far the least typical specimen of their species. Al-Leyan’s were so methodical they didn’t even accept transporter technology on their homeworld until long after it had been perfected. Favoring the reliability of magnetic rail propulsion and massive networks of trains that blanketed the planet. Every possible risk was assessed before an action was taken. And here he was, the record holder for purple hearts on Atlantis. Far more emotional than most Al-Leyans. They were a passionate species, but he was broken. The usual filters of his species weren’t present in him. It’s part of why he’d undergone two separate Attitude Readjustment Therapies. Raga: It’s because of me. I’m not a good Al-Leyan. ::He frowned and shifted his gaze away from her as if ashamed:: Journs: ::shakes her head and brushes her lips against his:: Toryn, I--All my life, I’ve stayed with the traditions and have never taken unnecessary risks. ::pauses:: I went outside of my branch, but I can’t say I’m sorry I did. ::brushes the backs of her knuckles over his cheek:: Winds only know what would have happened if I hadn’t. I would have regretted it if I’d just stood by and watched while you risked your life to protect those people. His eyes closed briefly when her lips touched his and he kept them closed, trying not to let his inner demons draw his thoughts away from the gorgeous redhead embraced in his arms. Raga: It’s my duty. One I’ve had to push to the limits more often than I’d like on this ship. So many enemies and all alone. ::He opened his eyes to look into hers:: I’m reckless, I know. It’s done as much good as it has harm. I made a rash, split second decision to save Captain Brell and spent three months with the Consortium as a result. She reached out, caressing his mind with hers. She should be running. This wasn’t what good Al-Leyans did. Not according to the Council and the traditions anyway. People had been exiled for less. While it wasn’t officially against the laws, many received therapy for chronic recklessness. But was it really so reckless? In her time enlisted in Starfleet, she’d been forced to redefine a lot of her beliefs in the context of the greater universe. Many species considered actions like Toryn’s noble and an indication of good character. He cared for others and was willing to go to any lengths to protect them. Maybe that was why she felt safer with him than she ever had with anyone back home. There was something comforting in knowing that he would fight beside her even through the dangers they faced as Starfleet officers. Journs: ::murmurs:: The duties of those within your branch come at a price. It’s not one to be taken lightly. In my time with Starfleet, I’ve learned that the hardest choices, no matter the price, can also lead to our greatest sense of purpose and satisfaction. ::pauses:: You’re a good man, Toryn. I feel safe when I’m with you. No one else does that for me like you do. The touch our their minds together, even brief was enough to relax him. It was soothing. And yet, Toryn had enough baggage to fill the Expanse. Ishka’s comments were, quite frankly surprising. All of this was. She should have run for the hills by now, called someone back home on Leya-I and have the Council pressure Starfleet into ordering him home to be treated again. Or worse, exiled from the homeworld. It never occurred to him that being brainwashed and conditioned was perhaps a far worse fate than never being allowed on the world of one’s birth. That’s just the way they were raised. Raga: I know. And I don’t regret any of the decisions I’ve made in regards to protecting this ship and crew. I...I’m ::He floundered:: You’ve seen the scars, I know you have. I’m not right. There’s something wrong with me, Ishka. Journs: ::expression softens and murmurs:: No, there’s not. You’re different, but that doesn’t make you wrong. People like you and I stand out from the crowd because we don’t blindly do what we’re told. ::pauses:: My uncle, though he wasn’t proud to be different, realized eventually that there was no shame in it either. It’s about time that we caught up with the rest of the universe in that regard. Toryn stared at her for a long while, just, surrounded by those emerald eyes and soaking in what she’d just said. She had a point. In his three years on Atlantis he’d struggled with the cultural upbringing of his species. Of the way he was different. He’d met others who were similar. Rune Jolara was one, who’d embraced her exile status and was a proud Starfleet officer. She’d been the first to tell him warnings of the Council. Raga/ART: ~Imperfect beings attract imperfect beings~ A cold chill ran right down Toryn’s spine as the voice he’d not heard in some time filled his mind. The voice, was his own, but twisted. Dark. Cruel. And for that brief moment it sickened him that he’d let himself be tricked into saying it aloud. ART: ~How many women must you ruin simply because you love them?~ He trembled as ART tormented him and he snapped his eyes shut, to focus on forcing the malevolent entity back into the fragile cage it was contained within his psyche. She felt him shaking beneath her touch and her brow furrowed. Journs: ::murmurs:: ~ Toryn, come back to me. I’m here. ~ Ishka’ voice was like a bright light in a stormy sea. The Al-Leyan shuddered a moment at the telepathic contact. For a brief moment Toryn’s usually high mental shields dropped. Giving her a glimpse of his psyche. Every telepathic species had their own quirks. Al-Leyans were different only in that as a whole their species rarely had members who possessed such a gift. Perhaps one in a few hundred million. And he was even more unique due to the nature of how he received such gifts. The center point of his psyche was, for lack of a better term, a room. A sanctuary for him to retreat to in times of psychic stress. In the center of that room was a large gilded cage, like an archaic prison. The walls and ceiling were slender bars of gold, though the metal had seemingly lost its luster. Cracks spiderwebbed throughout the structure, including the door. The interior, despite the appearance wasn’t visible. Obscured by shadows. A pair of reflective eyes looked out from the small, barred window in the door. Fingers gripped the bars as a face pressed against them. Toryn’s face. Yet not. His features were dark, sullen and there was an intense cruelty in the eyes that stared out at Toryn. They shifted over his shoulder and looked right at the light shining into his mind. At Ishka. ART: ~But for how long? She’ll abandon you like all the others.~ In her time, she’d seen some shocking things. But nothing had prepared her for the inner world of Toryn’s psyche. She could only assume that what she was seeing visually represented the brokenness she knew he felt. Instead of acknowledging the twisted version of him, she focused her attention on Toryn, cradling his cheek with her hand. Journs: ::murmurs:: ~ I’m real, Toryn, and I’m not going anywhere. ~ There was the faint registration of physical contact as he stared at her, into those emerald eyes. All while the telepathic connection pulled his focus. He struggled with what to say when a flood of memories of the last two years came to his mind in a flurry. He thought of Serala, how he’d told her how he felt for her but after it was already too late. She had been mated to Stevok. Of Lael Rosek. The memory of her hurt even more. How he felt himself a failure as an Al-Leyan and a person because they couldn’t reconcile the differences of their cultural upbringings. And then Ishka, she was new and he truly didn’t know how he felt about her other than the intense effect she seemed to have on him. She leaned forward, brushing her lips against his, the familiar flutter taking up residence in her abdomen. The things he stirred in her...she couldn’t even begin to explain what he did to her. Though she hadn’t had much of a chance to properly sort through her feelings, she knew he brought out a side of her that no one else did and for the first time, she felt truly free to be herself. There was no fear that he would judge her for not being a traditional Al-Leyan. There was a trust between them that she’d never known before. The adrenaline-like sensation that filled him when her lips brushed over his was enough to snap him from his psychic stupor and those walls of his came slamming up hard as if his own internal red alert activated. The last image and sound of ART staring at them both laughing echoed a moment before he sucked in a sharp breath of air. Focus returned to those cerulean eyes of his and they flicked side to side looking at each of hers. That laughter caused the aftershock of a shudder to course through him and he retreated from her a moment. Fear in his eyes. She’d just glimpsed far more than most got to see of his being, his thoughts, memories. She was a true blood, like him, and they were both raised to view what he was as being wrong. The thought of her rejecting him caused a painful ache in his gut that he couldn’t shake. Raga: ….. She slid her hand to the back of his neck and gripped it tightly, pressing into him. She wasn’t letting go. She couldn’t let go. The pain she’d felt at nearly losing him on Paldor II crept into her thoughts and, though she knew he wouldn’t feel it, maybe he’d be able to see it in her thoughts. She allowed the memories of their intimacy to come to the surface, allowing him to relieve it through her eyes and to see himself as she did. The smile that lit his face when he looked at her...the tenderness in his eyes. Even with his shields up he saw the surface thoughts, deliberately shown to him by her. That caused his brow to raise slightly and after he sorted through them he looked at her, head shaking slightly, given the grip she had on his neck. Raga: Why? We both know that I should be reported to the Council. How can you be comfortable being around someone who’s… ::He fell silent but the words Fallen Branch floated into his thoughts:: Journs: ::meets his gaze and murmurs:: After my uncle, I--I’m not so sure. I--oh winds, Toryn. ::tears gather in the corners of her eyes:: When she seemed to fall apart like that he pulled her closer, hugging her gently against him. Seeing her with that look in her eyes, he felt the impulse to protect her. Or at the least to comfort her. Raga: I’m sorry Ishka. I make a mess of everything. ::He closed his eyes to keep from showing the tears threatening to fill them:: Journs: ::murmurs:: The Council--I--There must be a better way than sentencing so many good people to death simply for being who they are. Toryn’s brow furrowed slightly when she said that. It was true, and yet not. Raga: Ishka. There’s a reason the punishment is there. To protect our way of life. If ever there was a pre-programmed response it was that. Toryn looked at her with a momentary glimpse of innocence before he shook his head and sighed, enjoying her warmth against him. Journs: ::exhales shakily:: I know, I know. ::worries her lower lip and blinks back tears, then murmurs:: But is it really worth so many dying? Isn’t there a better way? Raga: ::He shrugged slightly:: There’s really not many that actually die, Ishka. As far as I know anyways, but I barely know of the Exiles. Journs: ::brow furrows in confusion:: Exiles? Raga: ::He nods:: That’s what they call themselves. A colony of Al-Leyan’s who’ve been, well, exiled from Leya-One. She wasn’t quite sure how to take that news. Did the Council know? Surely if they did they wouldn’t allow its continued existence. Such a faction was the ultimate threat to their way of life. People like Ishka and Toryn already pushed those limits by being part of such a diverse organization that could hold so many temptations for even the most dedicated Al-Leyan. Journs: ::murmurs:: Does the Council know? That. Was a question he’d honestly never even considered to ask. Though, he was fairly certain he knew the answer. If the Council knew there was little doubt that they would leave them be. Such a group was contrary to the established way of thinking and way of life. Without the fear of exile, the Council would lose a great deal of its power. Or at least, influence. Since that was the utmost worst punishment on Leya-I even beyond execution. Raga: I have no idea, but I doubt it. They wouldn’t be able to let that stand if they did. Ishka nodded, suddenly becoming quiet. This wasn’t what she’d come here for. She didn’t want to think about home. She wanted to think about them. She’d had days to mull this over and had decided she wanted to see where things with Toryn went. It wouldn’t be easy given that he was her direct superior. They’d have to keep things discreet so no one found out. A part of her was nervous about how much she’d shared with Maddi. She only hoped that didn’t come back to bite her. Journs: ::murmurs:: But this isn’t why I came here with you. Raga: Oh? ::He asked curiously, for the moment he was mostly back to his usual self and smirked at her:: I don’t know if my quarters can survive another visit from you. ::he chuckled:: She blushed, recalling vividly the disaster that had been the aftermath of their last night together and her heart thudded rapidly against her ribcage. A shudder ran down her spine at the memory and her tongue peeked out slightly to moisten her lips. Journs: ::pauses:: What happened on Paldor II-- Seeing her fluster was enough to cause him to smile brightly, something about being able to elicit that sort of reaction in someone. He felt her shudder against him and he squeezed her gently, even as he pressed his lips against hers in a tender kiss. It only lasted a moment. Raga: Was a tragedy and one none of us are likely to ever forget. We just have to move on. We did what we could. ::He said, trying to comfort her not knowing precisely what she was speaking of:: Journs: ::shakes her head:: That’s not what I meant. ::pauses:: Was I imagining it or did something happen down there? Between us I mean. There was a moment where he was silent, just. Looking at her. Memories played through his mind of the surface of the world they were already parked on. The sky of the world they’d helped save could be seen out the window they were both sitting beneath. He recalled the patient she tried to save even after they’d died. Of him trying to comfort her. There had been something there. Raga: That depends entirely on whether or not a yes would bother you. He was the antithesis of his species, reckless instead of cautious. Impulsive as opposed to reserved. He was not what Al-Leyans were supposed to be. She should be running for the nearest shuttle, but here she was in his arms. Journs: ::whispers:: And what if I said it wouldn’t? He felt his heart pounding in his chest when she whispered and it was his turn to moisten his lips with his tongue. Raga: Then the answer would be yes. ::He stared into her eyes longingly and brushed his fingers through her hair:: But I think it started long before that. Journs: ::nods:: From the moment I first saw you on the bridge. ::blushes:: I can’t explain it, but-- Raga: I haven’t been able to keep you out of my mind. ::He finished her sentence:: Since you reported on board and I felt the presence of your mind. ::He shook his head, smiling:: She was like a Fekundeco plant, or at least that’s how he felt around her much of the time. The plant, whos spores had an affect on the libido of their species was potent. But it was more than just the physical attraction. Ishka was...something. Toryn just couldn’t put the word to it. Like she were something he’d been looking for and didn’t know he needed. Ishka pulled her hand away from the back of Toryn’s neck and laced her fingers with his, her gaze dropped to their intertwined hands. She reached out for his mind, gently caressing it with hers. They barely knew one another and yet she felt at peace and relaxed with him in a way she didn’t with others. Despite her initial hesitation, she found herself wanting to get to know him better. Journs: ::softly:: Would it be okay if we slow down a bit and get to know each other? ::smiles:: Don’t get me wrong. Our one night was amazing, but I think I’d like to see if this can be about something more than just satisfying each other’s physical needs. The telepathic contact was soothing, and he accepted it and her mind against his easily. He followed her gaze and wiggled his fingers between hers gently then nodded. Raga: I’d like that. Though, to be honest there’s a part of me that is afraid when you get to know me enough you won’t want me. Journs: Because of your past? Raga: ::He nodded slowly:: That’s part of it. Partly because I’m not...right enough to be an Al-Leyan and because well..::He sighed:: I don’t know. So far everyone I’ve loved has found someone better than I. ::He met her gaze:: I’m sure, if given time you’ll find someone better too. Toryn wasn’t typically self-deprecating, but that episode he’d just had a moment before with ART had rattled him. She studied him for a long moment before bringing their entwined hands up to cradle his cheek. It was clear he was very nervous and afraid of being hurt and abandoned. She had those same fears. This was still so new and she really didn’t have much to go on as far as if this was going to work. She cared for him a lot. What they’d been through together on Paldor II had made that exceedingly obvious. She wanted to see where this went and if they had enough in common to make it work. Journs: ::murmurs:: I can’t guarantee that one or both of us isn’t going to hurt the other at some point. We’re going to disagree on things and we’re going to get annoyed at each other. Maybe we make this work. Maybe we don’t. But I know this. If we don’t try, then both of us are going to spend the rest of our lives wondering what if. He thought on her words, and how right she was on the last part. Serala had been the first woman he’d developed feelings for and in his hesitation in dealing with his cultural upbringing, how she was a non-Al-Leyan, and his own uncertainties he’d told her how he felt too late. Lael had been a different story, but Toryn was certain that with how Ishka made him feel he didn’t want to look back and wonder what might have been. Raga: Agreed. He reached up to caress her cheek with the hand that wasn’t laced with hers and leaned in to kiss her forehead softly. Raga: ~There’s one way to truly get to know each other like no one else can.~ He thought to her mind and with the exception of the memories from his time as a Consortium prisoner he completely dropped his mental shields and let her see into his mind fully. The torture had been extreme and she didn’t need to see that. He was still coping with the trauma he’d endured and too much of his life was already traumatic.; She closed her eyes, lowering her mental shields. It was overwhelming at first, the strength of his mind, but she gradually grew used to it. Squeezing his hand, she reached up to cradle his cheek. Journs: ~ Where did you play most as a child? ~ There was a warmth, a tenderness to her mind being in contact with his. He smiled as they enjoyed each others company. He leaned against the touch to his cheek, smiling. Raga: ~Easy, the Sez Toural mountains. I had already shown a proclivity towards climbing things when I was young, so even after my tenth year I could already climb well enough. And my blood family are accomplished as well. But then, isn’t everyone from Sez Toural?~ She smiled, leaning forward so her lips were only a hair’s breadth away from his. The warmth of his breath caressing her lips caused her to shiver and moisten her lips, her gaze flickering up to meet his. Journs: ~ Show me. ~ His pulse quickened at her proximity and he felt her lips just barely out of reach. At least until he leaned closer, kissing her deeply. He let his arms slip around her back, holding her against him as he opened his mind to her. Sharing memories of his climbs, including the one when he was ten and caused the avalanche that orphaned Sylara and brought her into his family. He hadn’t climbed for several months after the accident but he went on to spend most of his time climbing alone, with his sister, or and a few occasions his whole family. He felt at peace alone on a mountain. She smiled behind closed eyes, enjoying seeing his adventures through his eyes, recalling her own. As his memories faded, she shared her own. It had been a typical morning. She’d snuck out early enough before lessons to explore the frozen forests of Sez Toural. The cold air stung at her exposed nose and cheeks, the brisk air filling her lungs as she crunched through the snow, wincing at the sound. It would scare all of the animals away and she’d so wanted to see them running free. It was some she longed for herself. Freedom from the restrictions of society, though she told no one this. Saying such things would result in an intervention, potentially Attitude Readjustment Therapy. They weren’t told much about what it was like, only that it was intended to correct those who fell off the branch. Suddenly, she heard it. The flapping of wings. She looked up in amazement to see a Seiuri gliding through the air toward a tree limb, reaching out and wrapping its talons around the branch to gain its balance. She’d never seen one in person before. Carefully, she tiptoed toward it, wanting a closer look. Unfortunately, she only got halfway to the tree where it was perched before it heard her and took off without so much as turning in her direction. A warm smile adorned his face as he watched her memory, and shared one of his own involving a Seiuri. As he recalled he was older, just barely into his teens at the time. He could feel the biting cold of the southerly winds whipping through the Western face of the Sez Tourals. His fingers dug into the frozen rock of the mountain known locally as the Spear. A singular peak that roze up a good five thousand feet higher than those around it. Treacherous. He pulled himself up over the lip, panting and straining from the climb. He flopped onto his back with his legs dangling over the edge. Staring up at the always overcast sky and the lone winged figure circling overhead. He heard the voice in his mind. Sylara: ~Toryn friend made it. Finally. Could have nested though.~ The teasing of the bird was enough to make him laugh as he rose to his feet on the top of the largest mountain in the southern pole. He admired the view a moment, as he shed the climbing gear he’d brought. Securing them back into the pack on his back. He could see everything from up here. High enough that several layers of clouds lay between him and the ground. But just in the distance, he could see the lights of the Capital, Sez Toural. Hundreds of kilometers away. A grin plastered his face as he broke into a run, snow crunching beneath his boots. A leap made without hesitation, but more than a fair share of panic as he jumped off the mountain. The rush of the winds whipping past him as he fell straight down for a few seconds as he held his legs together and his arms flush with his sides. A second more passed and several hundred feet before he snapped his arms and legs open, the fabric of his suit catching the wind instantly. The sudden jerk as his descent arrested quickly and he flared back, upwards a moment. Sylara swooped down passed him and he dove again. Limbs outstretched. It was incredible. The first time he’d ever used a wingsuit to get off of a mountain after a climb. And the first true flight he’d ever shared with the Seiuri. The bird flew beside him, keeping pace easily. It was an incredibly fond memory. She opened her eyes, disoriented at first. It was the first telepathic experience she’d shared with someone where the exchange had been mutual and intentional it was like nothing she’d ever experienced. Even with the absence of the emotions that she was certain were present for Toryn, it had been enjoyable all the same living the moment through his eyes. A slight flush filled her cheeks. Somehow what they’d just shared seemed more intimate than anything physical. Journs: ::murmurs breathily:: That was-- He stared into those amazing emerald pools when she opened her eyes. Though he’d had several telepathic exchanges before, and even shared a strangely unique psychic realm with another there as a sense of intimacy with sharing that memory that he’d never felt before. Sure, there had been times when he let someone else into his mind, see his memories but this was more direct. More visceral. Raga: ::He leaned his forehead against hers:: I’ve never shared a memory like that before. That was one of my favorite memories. The first time I’d ever flown with Sylara. Journs: ::smiles sheepishly:: That was the first time I’ve shared a telepathic connection like that with anyone. Raga: I’ve had a few, but none quite that direct. There are hardly any of our kind with our gifts. And I can only connect to our own kind. ::He smiled and kissed her forehead gently before looking into her eyes:: She recalled the statistics. Only 10% of the planet possessed telepathic abilities. That was one in ten if she was doing her math correctly. The odds of her finding another telepath outside Leya-I, especially with the very small minority that chose to leave home and serve in Starfleet, were astronomical. Journs: ::pauses:: I like you, Toryn. But I’m terrible at relationships. ::blushes:: I’ve spent so much time with my nose buried in a PADD… He smiled when she said that and chuckled, perhaps a bit louder than he intended. Raga: I like you too, Ishka. And I understand, believe me. When it comes to relationships, well...I’ve not had the best of luck. Anyone on the ship could probably tell you as much. ::He laughed, but there was sadness behind his eyes, how many times had he been heartbroken now?:: Her gaze dropped from his, her thumb brushing gently back and forth over the backs of his knuckles, her expression contemplative. She supposed it was a bit different for her. She’d never really specifically sought anything monogamous. With her eyes set on practicing medicine, she hadn’t had much time for a social life much less a serious relationship. She drew her lower lip between her teeth and worried it for a moment before releasing it. Al-Leyans lived such a long time that it wasn’t uncommon for some pursuing their branches to wait until later in life to have children. In fact, there were some professions that didn’t allow those in them to reproduce. Though the population as a whole wasn’t aware, birth control was available, but was severely restricted and was administered at the discretion of the Council. It was a side to their society that remained hidden from the general population. The only reason she knew was because of her uncle. He’d shared much with her that would otherwise have remained behind Council chamber closed doors. The fact that she was required to receive birth control innoculations as part of her contract with Starfleet--well, she was glad her parents weren’t aware of that detail. They would have called her home immediately and insisted on intervention by the Council. He watched her get lost in thought and refrained from prying. Unless she chose to share with him, it would be a violation to do so. Even still, surface thoughts were different. He could tell she was worried over something. Raga: Though, if I’m to be honest being the only Al-Leyan on board before now has made relationships...tricky. Even the one half Al-Leyan I care for...well it didn’t work out. I had to go back home to Leya-I for my season. He hoped that keeping the conversation going might help her relax a bit. Even if the topic itself was seemingly bothersome. To the both of them. You couldn’t truly know someone if you only ever sought out the pleasant parts of their life. Journs: ::smiles wanly and nods:: I admit...it will be nice not having to worry about that. Raga: ::He nodded:: Agreed. Though, I don’t think my season is due for another year or two. She paused. Most Al-Leyans had their seasons relatively young. However, her doctors were puzzled. She should have experienced her first by now, but hadn’t. They’d attempted to explain it away as her being a “late-bloomer”, but that had been less than reassuring. She was already seen as unusual because of her uncle’s strange ideas about revolution and a new way of things. Now she was even stranger. An Al-Leyan’s first season was a rite of passage of sorts, so many of her kind still viewed her as a child in spite of all that she’d seen as a medical officer with Starfleet. Journs: ::blushes and murmurs:: I’ve never… A few of her surface thoughts filtered through as he saw her blush and his brow raised slightly. Given the fact she was older than him it was a surprise that she hadn’t had at least one season yet. Raga: Really? ::He smiled to try and comfort her:: I figured with you being so much older than me… Toryn had lived among humans long enough to pick up at least a small fraction of their proclivity for humor. Especially using it to help lighten a mood, or for some good old teasing of those one cared for. Journs: ::drops her gaze to their entwined hands and murmurs:: My parents became concerned when my peers were entering their seasons and I wasn’t. I’ve been to a few doctors, but none of them have been able to figure out why. There’d been talk of infertility and an inability to have children, which had devastated her even though she was older before the doctors had considered the possibility. It was heartbreaking to think that she might never experience that joy. So she’d thrown herself into her studies and her career, hoping to fill the hole. The doctors hadn’t said she’d never conceive or have children, but they’d said it was best to be prepared for the possibility. Toryn held her hands gently in his and stared at her a moment. He wasn’t entirely sure what to say. He’d never really thought much on whether or not he’d have kids. Not that he didn’t like them, or want them. But when it was seemingly so impossible to find love, much less a mate that would want to have that deep of a connected relationship with him it never seemed a priority. Raga: Well, aren’t you a doctor? Have you tried running tests on yourself to see why you haven’t had your season? ::He asked, earnestly ignorant of what Prote-ses she might have:: Journs: ::grimaces:: I suppose I’ve been avoiding it...not really wanting to know the answer, afraid that it would be what the doctors suspected. ::closes her eyes and murmurs:: I--I’m not sure I can handle it. He pulled her into a gentle hug, holding her head against his chest. Raga: I suppose that would be difficult. But, isn’t the uncertainty worse? If...the worst is true as much as it will hurt, at least you can get closure and eventually move on. But if you live your life never knowing, missing out on the chance that they’re wrong and you can...well. Isn’t that worth the potential pain if they’re right? Journs: ::whispers:: Until now, I’ve never had a reason for it to really matter. Raga: ::His heart rate quickened slightly:: Oh? Doctor are you trying to seduce me for science? ::He chuckled:: A blush filled her cheeks as she realized the weight of her admission. Had she gone too far? She didn’t even know if this meant anything to Toryn beyond a casual hook-up like so many of their species had. She wanted to believe the intimacy they’d just shared meant it had the potential to be more, but it would be foolish not to guard her heart with her knowing so little about him and this--whatever it was--being so new. Though they had only known each other for a brief period of time he was certain that seeing her blush was one of his favorite things about her. Something about the softness of her expression and the fact that he could elicit a reaction like that in someone was always a pleasant feeling. He smiled warmly and lightly ran his fingers through her hair. Raga: In all seriousness, I’m humbled and flattered that you’d have such a consideration. But as you said, let’s pace ourselves and see what this...thing is between us. She nodded, leaning forward to lay her head on his chest and wrap her arms around his middle. There wasn’t any reason that she couldn’t enjoy the comfort of his physical presence, even if they were trying to slow that aspect of their relationship down. Having the solidity of a strong man to lean on was comforting and it gave her a peace that she’d never experienced before. With previous lovers, it had always been about physical needs. She’d never had this kind of connection with any of them before. He felt her lay on him, wrapping him up in an embrace and it brought a smile to the Al-Leyan’s face. Such contact was something that Toryn had rarely had in his life. Even when it was to save his life for mating season, his relationships had always fallen apart on him. And there was just something to be said about having someone to hold you. Journs: ::murmurs:: Can we lay together and just sleep? When he was with her, the nightmares of Paldor II didn’t seem as overwhelming. In truth, she’d missed having someone to hold her at night. Raga: Gladly. It’s been a long time since I’ve had someone to hold. He’d held Lael of course, but that had always only been in the dreamscape. Never in person as they’d spent so little time together, face to face. She’d need to set the chronometer to wake her in time to head to her quarters for a fresh uniform, but thankfully she was on second shift tomorrow, giving her plenty of time. She wanted to enjoy this...enjoy him. Raga: Stay as long as you like. ::He whispered:: Toryn embraced her gently as she lay upon his chest. With her hair so close her scent was unmistakable and reminded him of home. He smiled, then gently ran his fingers through her hair a moment before kissing the top of her head. He could feel her steady breathing as easily as he could hear it. This was nice. This is what he needed. What, he suspected they both needed. He wasn’t quite sure when he fell asleep, but it happened quickly. She was so warm and comfortable in his arms. It felt right. ===================================================== Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga Mission Specialist/Second Officer USS Atlantis NCC-74682 Atlantis Staff Member Writer ID: A239410TR0 https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=Toryn_Raga & Lieutenant Ishkabela Journs Medical Officer, USS Atlantis NCC-74682 I238110RH0
  7. Seeing a certain person @Geoffrey Teller is expanding his Brew Continuum Empire, it's only fair to show him that some people namely @Jo Marshall are doing all they can to promote the BC merchandise. (( Research Station - Giáng Sinh )) “My Dearest Parents. I put words to this communication on the hope your good selves shall receive it before you attend Giáng Sinh. First, the Admiral doesn’t like guests. Secondly, You’ll be quartered either on the Gorkon or down on the surface; it’s entirely up to you. Your original request for organic avocados has proved difficult. Smashed avocado on toast from the replicator does not constitute a war crime allegation. The coffee is plentiful and there’s a coffeehouse on the ship — Erin grows the plants. There’s snow down here and no, there’s nothing I can do about it unfortunately it’s just part of the weather system. Please don’t mention the Hawaiian shirt and leather jacket incident. Looking forward to seeing you. Take your time getting here. Much love.” Jo slumped back in the chair and wiped her hands over her face, wondering if she could get away with the slightest, smallest note going. “Please don’t come.” But they were already winging their way to the planet, both excited to see the terra forming activities taking place, spend Christmas somewhere that looked and felt like a Christmas of their homeworld back in their childhood years, and, time permitting, see their daughter. The blonde slipped her fingers through the handle of the travel coffee mug (Brew Continuum, Fastest Coffee in the Fleet!) and stirred it around with the power of centrifugal motion. She looked up out of the small window afforded by the Operations building, reminded of the administration centre back on Starfleet Academy campus, and the day she’d followed the then Captain out into the grounds after their return from Over There. It hadn’t been snowing. Quite the contrary, the sun had shone heavily in a blue sky and flowers bloomed beneath. Her parents hadn’t made it back for that, either, and Jo had disappeared from the Japanese Tea Gardens on her bike with one Erin Reynolds; the two taking off for the high hills of the San Mateo region. Erin drove, Jo had held on for dear life as the hybrid tested just how fast the engine could go up the winding roads beside the Pacific Ocean, illuminated by the blaze of sunset light streaming down from the horizon. Little did she know then that Erin would come to occupy her thoughts for the next two years. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise the Bajoran enthusiasts had refused the invitation. Lost in her thoughts, as she was, Jo lifted the coffee to her lips and took a quick sip, momentarily forgetting how hot the Brew Continuum branded travel mug (100% leak-proof vacuum, insulated for perfect heat retention, and a strip of silicone for easy carrying, available at all BC franchises) kept eighteen ounces of coffee perfectly sealed. A quick burn to her bottom lip and a reactive wince saw the mug fall from her grasp and roll onto the floor. She considered sending a message to Bear, entreating him to come back quicker from wherever he’d ended up with the former pirate for the backup, for someone to throw in front of her two life-givers like a ritual sacrifice or cannon fodder. What she needed was a swift distraction. Rescuing the mug from the group, and noting that it was completely and utterly leakproof (available from all good Brew Continuum franchises), Jo strolled outside. Snow lazily drifted down from the sky; large snowflakes covering the ground and surrounding decking. Containers hauled from the support ships for the colonists covered in the white powder, dry and beautiful, untouched in the thick morning air. Everything felt a little serene as Jo looked around, taking in the day's smell. Erin, with her wonderfully scientific brain, had informed her that snow didn’t have a scent, and instead what she could smell did not differ from a cold, dry day on the planet, or impurities in the frozen water, like dirt and salt from the water source. She’d also informed her of the stimulation to the trigeminal nerve in her face caused by the cold air they breathed, which stirred an all around sensory experience of snow. Those small things that Erin thought were perfectly mundane pieces of information delivered in such a simple manner were one of the many reasons Jo loved her. Her botanist could make the smallest things seem wonderfully magical. Across the way, Jo spotted Ghant Xerix, their pilot extraordinaire making his way across the town square, on his way from or to somewhere or other. The Betazoid had made some interesting relationships in his brief time on board the Gorkon — ‘Kos appearing in their quarters heartbroken, Erin because of that, Caedan as sad and dejected as if someone had stolen his happy, Valesha because of that, and those were only the ones she knew about. However, Jo liked the guy. He was a good pilot and operations officer, dedicated himself to his work when he wasn’t breaking hearts and taking names, and it felt like the young fella had been with them from the start. With that in mind, Jo placed the mug down on top of the container and watched for a second as the insulated one-hundred percent leak proof travel mug didn’t melt the snow at all. She scooped up a handful of snow in her hands, cutting a clear edge in the beautifully unblemished snow covering, and padded it up into a ball. Then, with the precision of her days playing endless games of springball, she threw it dead centre at her target. Xerix: Response Reactively, Jo ducked down behind the container crate before he could see her, her back pressed up against it as though enemy fire was about to come shooting toward her. She scooped up another handful of snow and looked over the top of the crate. Poking up over the top, she sent another ball of snow in an overarm angle toward the pilot and retreated to cover. Xerix: Response Another handful of powder scooped up, Jo couldn’t help laughing this time and glanced around the side of the crate. Marshall: Evasive maneuvers, Mister Xerix! Take up a defensive position! Xerix: Response -- Lt. Commander Jo Marshall First Officer USS Gorkon, NCC-82293 G239304JM0
  8. Short, but very very sweet. It was an amazing read! @Ben Garcia (( A Romulan Republic colony. Time index: several years prior to current mission. )) Rain clawed at the slated rooftops. The dank smell of damp leaves mulched under the heavy thread of cold, treacherous boots that trod along the midnight pavement. At the corner of the street, a light – a dull yellow porch light - flickered against the howl of the wind. Across the way, a gate slammed monotonously against its latch. Somewhere, a dog snarled. Rain beaded and trickled off the stiff, polished leather boots as they continued on and scurried their way down a side alley. A voice. Then another. A handshake. A packet exchanged. Several stories above, Koteel drew a fine, powderless wisp of breath. Koteel’s eyes narrowed as the cranium of her target found itself framed within the deadly web of her crosshairs. In less than two beats of the heart, the target would be neutralised. The accomplice? Perhaps two steps – or three if he was lucky – before the silky thread of Koteel’s crosshairs ensnared him in the oblivion of death. Koteel’s wisp of breath waned into nothingness. Now, through the crosshairs, Koteel marvelled at the pooling blood that trickled around the slumped carcasses. The packet? A dud, planted by the Republic to flush out the Tal Shiar vermin known to scurry these streets in the afterhours. Koteel’s counterpart nimbled along the alley way, secured the packet and secreted it into the folds of a heavy raincoat. The hatted figure turned briefly and dead-eyed Koteel through the crosshairs. The deed was done. End. MSPNPC Koteel Nk’htho Ambassadorial Attaché to Tr'Kenda (Political/Diplomatic Security) Romulan Republic ---------------------- Lieutenant Ben Garcia Second Officer/HCO Embassy Duronis II - USS Thor NCC-82607 Author ID number: G239102MR0
  9. ((CMO Office, Sickbay, Deck 7, USS Gorkon)) Genkos sat at his desk, head in his hands. One finger was gently plucking at a hair on his chin - he had shaved hurriedly this morning, wanting to avoid any kind of facial furriness. Clearly he had missed a spot. It was reminiscent of ‘Kos, a man he definitely wasn’t, and from whom he needed a clean break. That meant no facial hair, no drinking alcohol at all, and plenty of uttaberry tea to wash the foul taste of Spoonie, no Cardassian, blood from his mouth. Finally getting purchase between forefinger and thumbnail, he tugged at the offending follicle, and felt a sweet release when it broke free. He examined it closely; short and black, with a slight curl already, despite it being relatively young. He placed it on his palm and softly blew, watching it disappear, never to be seen again. He snorted a silent laugh at the absurdity of it; as if blowing away a single hair could get rid of all he’d done, all he’d seen, all he’d committed as ‘Kos Sim, Maquis combat medic. He could still hear the wet splat of his makeshift spear entering that Cardassian’s torso, feel the soldier’s bones cracking under his fists, smell the heady aroma of the blood. Genkos closed his eyes to meditate; he tried forcing the memories away, herding them much like a sheepdog herds lambs into a pen, trying to seal them behind a giant brick wall where they could never again hurt anyone. But it was no use; much like trying to get Tasha’s cat Sparks to do anything, it was impossible. A stray thought always broke free of his mental grasp, and escaped deeper into the recesses of his mind. Last time they’d been away to the land of the Skarbek, he’d come back with Erin’s real memories as well as his own, but this was somehow worse. True, he hadn’t discovered some dark secret about his father, but he had discovered something incredibly horrifying about himself. He was just as capable of murder as Tillul. Perhaps even culpable - who was to say which parts of the Q’s machinations were real and which were purely phantoms? Perhaps that Cardassian really did exist and Genkos really did murder him. He’d been told that Johns had died in the Q-verse, but had come back though, so maybe not? But the Q was there to torture them, so who really knew what it was capable of? Again, he closed his eyes to meditate, attempting to clear his mind of all thoughts. It was a technique that Baina had taught him an age ago, back when they were trying to control and shape his mental abilities after the last Skarbek sojourn. It wasn’t working; flashes of splattering blood and foul red rage kept barging their way into his brain, disrupting the whole process. Instead he opened his eyes, and turned to the work he had open on his desk. He was attempting to write up a report for the Admiral about the incident with the Q, examining the physiological effects of the whatever-it-was. He’d spent six and a half hours this morning, visually examining every crew member who reported travelling over to the Skarbek-verse. He’d traipsed over the ship with Loxley and T’Hal, scanning them with tricorders and giving them the once over. Many reported having wounds, some serious, some trivial, that disappeared on their own on their arrival back to the Gorkon. Nobody showed any signs of these wounds except in the forms of memories. He manually entered all of the data they had collected into the ship’s computers and compiled it. It made for very tedious reading, but he summed it all up in a short paragraph and sent it to Quinn. It wasn’t much, and it wasn’t informative. “As far as our bodies are concerned, nothing happened and no time passed” was effectively the conclusion, but there was an addendum - if nothing happened, why were they all suffering? It was true that nobody came off well in the Q’s experiment; emotionally they were all distraught by what they had been manipulated to do, and what the Q had said about them. Her comments about his abilities were the most cutting. Ayiana had tried to tell him they weren’t true, that it was the situation but Genkos knew differently. That satisfaction that he felt on killing those Cardassians was real. He was a monster, and unfit to be a doctor. This report to the Admiral would be his last. Finishing up the report, he sent it to the Admiral and to Jo and began writing up his resignation. He would sleep on it first, before he handed it in, he decided. ((Genkos Adea’s Quarters, Deck 8, USS Gorkon - the next morning))) Genkos was fully dressed and sat on the edge of his bed. Toto was curled up on the bed beside him, his eyes staring up at his master. Genkos’ eyes, however, were focused on the PADD beside him, which contained all he needed to end his Starfleet career. A lead weight sat in his stomach, and he could feel the cool metal inside of him, turning his every vein to ice. His mother had visited that morning, to break her fast with him, but he hadn’t heard a word she’d said. He hadn’t even reacted when Rumi arrived and the two of them spent the meal exchanging bites of scrambled ktarian eggs and pulpless orange juice. Although Laxe could tell was something wrong, she hadn’t pried. She knew her son, and trusted him to make the right choice. His finger hovered over the PADD. Adea: To send, or not to send, that is the question, dear Toto. Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of an outrageous Q, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them… Toto just yapped. He didn’t get Shakespeare. Genkos smiled sadly, and tried to remember all the good he had done as a doctor in Starfleet; he’d saved some of the crew aboard the Njörðr from a slow and painful death at the feet of Rushton’s, he’d performed emergency surgery on Caedan and countless others, as well as on Dhisuia. Although, said a little inner voice remarkably like the Q’s, you were the one who got her beaten half to death in the first place. Genkos shook his head violently, causing Toto to leap up in alarm and let out a single bark. Would he let his mistakes define who he was, or would he use them to make a better man? The latter! He threw the PADD onto the table, a familiar rage bubbling inside him; just days ago he was content to be a Starfleet doctor, remarkably higher in rank than he had expected; Chief Medical Officer and Second Officer aboard a literal flagship. He wasn’t about to let a Q get in his head and ruin his life. Never. He would do what good he could aboard the Gorkon, ‘Kos Sim be damned. -------------------------- Lieutenant Commander Genkos Adea MD Chief Medical Officer & Second Officer USS Gorkon G239502GS0
  10. I was just amazed with how @Sheila Bailey described her character's emotions in such a way that it was completely genuine. Amazing work Aly! ((Starfleet Academy, San Francisco, Earth)) Bailey: ::Mouth dry:: Umm.. one of my wheels is stuck. Do you think you could help me out? Galven: ::kneels down:: Of course. What do you need me to do? Bailey: I’m scared Glaven. I’ve not been this scared since the rainy seasons back on Elaysia. Sheila gave a low whimper. The rainy season back home was no fun, it made everyone hot, flushed, dry mouthed and dizzy. She was feeling a bit of that now and only wished that being back on the academy campus hadn’t made her so paranoid. Must have all those discouraging memories that were coming back. Now Sheila was thinking about her time back home and the discomfort she had felt during the rainy months. Some felt the effects more but others could function just fine in the increased humidity. They did have medications available to reduce the ‘sickness’ that came with it but such things weren’t available off world. The federation medical servius hasn't approved it’s use off Elaysia. For Sheila she never took the available medication. Instead spent hours in a cold shower with lots of cold drinks. Suddenly looking for her water bottle it wasn’t there making her mouth go even more dry and numb. He felt for the woman. Since he was kneeling, he was now eye level with Sheila and wanted to help her curb her anxieties. Galven: Sheila. Look at me. Nothing is going to come after you. I’m right here. Guess what? Sheila didn’t say anything but look at German with sad looking eyes. Her head felt heavy and her eyes like they were about to close. She suspected she had forgotten how hot it could get on Earth. Back during her last mission she had experienced similar things but they had been cleared up quickly the moment she had something cold to drink. Galven: I’m scared too, but you know what’s keeping me going? Bailey: Yes? Sheila wasn’t confused only had a small lack of being able to think. Galven: You are. You’re helping me and let me help you ::grunts and unjams her wheel:: Now that wasn’t so bad now was it? ::grins wide:: Sheila tested both wheels of her chair being satisfied that both were moving smoothly. It however didn’t get rid of her scared feeling. She felt it in her head, mouth and her shaking hands. What if those people were still around? With the way they had looked at her it creeped her out more than she thought it would. No one had ever looked at her like that before. The look had been so sharp and glaring. Bailey: I’m still scared… ::Sheila’s sentence trailed off as she gave the Denobulan a small strained smile.:: Galven: How about this... Would you like to take my PADD and then you can be our navigator? The destination marker is located west of here in that direction. What do you say, Lieutenant? Bailey: It would give me something to do. Reaching to take the PADD her hands were so shaky that she wasn’t even sure she could push herself at the same time. Sighing she took the PADD placing it on her lap before folding her hands close to her pelvis. Bailey: ::Voice still wavering:: I hate to ask this but my hands are so shaky, would you mind pushing me in my chair? Galven: Response Bailey: It would make me feel safer if you would. I honestly don’t know why I’m scared. Those three men, the way they looked at me, its creeped me out. A wave of dizziness washed through Sheila as Galven took hold of the back of her chair in order to guide her to the new meeting spot. Sheila looked at the PADD as they moved, giving Galven directions. It didn’t take long for them to get to the monument. Sal settled a soft smile on his face as he strolled up to greet them, giving time for Prudence and Rustyy to catch up. Taybrim: A lovely day on the Academy green, isn’t it? Hael/Blackwell: ? He nodded, offering a wave towards German and Sheila Taybrim: Yes, there are our new crewmates. ::He smiled, an easy, casual smile – the sort of genuine expression coming from a person who truly liked other people.:: Good afternoon Commander Galven and Lieutenant Bailey! Hael/Blackwell: ? Bailey: Hi. Galven/Taybrim/Hael/Backwell: ? At this moment Sheila had started tuning out the conversation. She knew she had to pay attention as the conversation was about introductions and the mission. For Sheila however the more she tried the more she felt the heat and nausea creep up now that the adrenaline was disappearing. Just like when it was raining hard back home the chatter pulled her in and out. She wasn’t going to pass out but her eyes were so droopy, her mouth so dry. Sheila’s head hurt bad, was hard to keep up so it flopped so her chin was resting on her chest. A second latter however she fell out of her chair. What a way to make an introduction to her new Captain. Galven/Taybrim/Hael/Backwell: ? The shock of landing on the floor sent a shooting pain through her body. Her eyes went wide and the conversation quieted as most of the officers around her got down to her level. Bailey: ::weakly:: Water….. Galven/Taybrim/Hael/Backwell: ? Lieutenant JG Sheila Bailey Medical Officer Starbase 118 Ops M239512BG0 "If you want to harness your power, you need to learn to control your fear." - Sara Lance; Legends Of Tomorrow
  11. ((Bridge, Deck 1, USS Astraeus)) Some of the crew had left already going on different assignments. Others were waiting to be transported. German wasn't due to leave for another few hours as he stepped into the bridge of the galaxy class starship one last time, placing his hand along the edge of the brightly painted wooden half oval panel. He walked down the ramp brushing the soft wood and for a moment he didn't want to let go. Finally after a few moments, he took his hand away and then headed over to his station. Delri’ise: You alright, sir? Galven: Just saying goodbye. ::turns to glance around:: She was a fine ship. Delri’ise: Indeed she was. There’ll never be another like her, she was one of a kind. The events unfolding around him was definitely going to be a memorable one. German had never served on a ship that was due to be decommissioned. He sat down and then downloaded the last bit of information of data on his work PADD that laid beside the console. Galven. My next assignment is going to be Starbase 118 Operations. I've been there a few times training cadets, but it'll be a whole new experience. Where are you going? Delri’ise: ::recalling her orders.:: I believe I’m on the Thor over Duronis II. It’s a long way from here, over in the Beta Quadrant. Galven: ::nods:: That's a fine ship with a great crew. I doubt this'll be the last time we see each other. Melody hadn’t said anything to that which made German glance over her way. It appeared that she was about to cry. He stood up from his seat and approached her extending his hand to give her an encouraging pat on the shoulder. Galven: It was a great experience being here and it was definitely worthwhile. Starfleet has our best interests at heart. Whatever is next, just remember who you are. Delri’ise: It ain’t gonna be easy. The Thor is a fine ship… but she’s no Astraeus. It’s been a fun ride, commander. Galven: ::nods and turns his head to look out the viewscreen:: It’s always going to be one hell of a ride, lieutenant. ::turns his attention back to Melody:: Wherever you are. Delri’ise: You better stay in touch, don’t hide away in that space mushroom. He chuckled and then turned with a determined expression. Galven: Don’t worry about that, Melody. I’m a “leap into the action” kind of senior officer. ::wry grin:: The Kerelian hybrid let out a slight chuckle which German was hoping for. It was a somber event, but he wanted to make it a happy memory. This had been his first decommission, but heard far too many stories of officers resigning from Starfleet. Delri’ise: I think the one thing I’ll miss most… is bein’ up here on the bridge. I’m gonna miss my little tactical console ::She gave her console an adoring rub.:: A lot of that was true for German as well as he glanced over at his own science console. He already studied the Starbase and the layout of the thing was massive. There was an entire massive city just hanging out in the dome with lots of transportation hubs. He was looking forward to getting lost in there. There were a few other things that he wanted to tell Melody as he turned himself back around facing her. Galven: ::clears his throat and furrows his brow:: One last thing before we separate, lieutenant? Delri’ise: Of course, sir ::She nodded.:: I think we all need a few words of wisdom out there. Galven: As Admiral Kathryn Janeway once said, “I trust fear. Fear only exists for one purpose… to be conquered.” Go and be fearful, Melody Delri’ise and show Admiral Turner what I’ve seen in you. ::extends his hand for her to shake:: A future commanding officer. Melody gave a crooked smile which German returned with a grin, but then some tears and heavy emotion came from her again which he could feel for the woman. Lael was the same way and she was taking the news the heaviest when she sent out a message to everyone that she was resigning as first officer to get more involved at the academy on Earth. Which was just as admirable as her XO assignment. He was taken aback when Melody shook his hand, but then gave him an enormous hug which threw him momentarily, but he then wrapped his arms around her, giving a soft encouraging pat on her back. After a few seconds, they let go with German’s gaze still on hers. Delri’ise: Thank you… Commander, for everything. As we say down in Brooklyn, go, kick some a#% out there. Galven: ::laughs and arches an eyebrow:: You the same, Lieutenant. Delri’ise: I’ll see you out there, Spaceman, may our paths cross once more. I’m sure Cap’n Taybrim will appreciate your hard work. Galven: There’s plenty of opportunity for it. Just remember to hold onto these special moments and live for them. She turned and nodded, heading out of the bridge. German glanced around one last time and then sat down at his console, pulling out his PADD. He started a new entry, the last entry on the Astraeus. //Chief Science Officer’s Log, Stardate 239611.25 It was of great duty, service and honor serving aboard the USS Astraeus. Whoever listens to this when the new crew arrives and ventures out to the Eagle Nebula. I wish you all the good fortune. There’s great history on this ship. Continue on her legacy. ---- Lt. Commander German Galven Chief Science Officer USS Astraeus V239507GG0
  12. ((Sienelis’ Personal Quarters, USS Gorkon)) The mugs slipped from Valesha's hands, her fingers suddenly slack, one shattering as it caught the corner of a table. The warm, spiced infusion of aesollh and the rich, bitter roast of coffee burst into the air as the drinks splattered across the carpet, a few drops burning against the skin of her bare feet, a razor shard of ceramic drawing emerald blood from pale flesh. She didn't notice. As Valesha was exactly where she had been before the Q had taken them, so too was Chris. Sprawled in her bed, he'd been looking at her with that cheeky grin and mischievous sparkle in his hazel eyes, laughing at... she couldn't remember. She couldn't remember. But there was no smile now. No light in those eyes. Her ballerino, always in motion, was perfectly still. It was a strange sensation. As though she had floated clear of her body, the Romulan watched herself as she walked across the room. Watched as she crawled onto the bed and knelt beside him, reached out with a trembling hand and laid her palm against the bruised, ashen skin of his cheek. He was so cold. With a sharp inhale she drew back in, no longer an observer of herself, but there and present in the moment. Valesha's chest blossomed in sharp, biting pain, slicing behind her sternum as surely as if someone had taken a scalpel to her. She doubled over, eyes burning hot with unchecked tears, a wordless sound of anguish pulled from a seizing throat. Time slipped past, neither caring nor cared about, all the while the Romulan knowing she should call someone and completely unable to do so. They'd take him away, and she wasn't ready. She wasn't ready. But all tears eventually run dry. Laid next to him, slim fingers brushed the short crop of his hair, touched the scar on his scalp whose origin she'd never discovered, over the delicate skin of his eyelids, along cheek and nose and mouth, across the scratch of the beard that had tickled when they kissed. Her hand came to rest on his chest, over his heart, met with final, still silence. An ache rolled through her like distant thunder, deep and resonant. It was time. Sienelis: ::Softly,:: Ehhaisam ehsiu, e'lev. A tender kiss pressed to his forehead, and Valesha let her head fall back to the pillow. She closed her eyes, breathing out a shuddering sigh. It was time, but just a few moments. Just a few moments more. -- Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis Science Officer USS Gorkon simmed by Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  13. This is one of the best pieces I think I have ever read. It shows so much diversity and skill in writing! Well written @Esa_Darkkdust ((OOC: Hi all. This one is a bit weird, but it was inspired by a packed train journey I was taking to London at dusk through the foggy South downs, while listening to Sense and Innocence, by Lynn Vartan. I've included timestamps for the track, if you want to listen and have my words paint meaning to the music! It's mostly supposed to be a dreamlike reaction to Esa's short trip into subspace, but also encompasses a lot of other feelings she has experienced recently. Also teasers near the end for some future plans I’ve thought of! Sort of like a false premonition!)) ((Unknown, Unknown)) ((Shore Leave Day 1, immediately before JP with Maddi)) ((00:00)) The eerie blackness looked familiar, yet not. It was cold, and damp... Her feet felt like they were submerged, and yet when she took a step, the sound of her boots on solid concrete reverberated around the room. In every direction was this thick fog, seemingly impenetrable. ((00:43)) In the distance, Esa could see a small pin[...] of light. She moved toward it, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn't reach it. It had just appeared, out of nowhere. ((01:28)) Kiax: Hello?! She called out, to no response. Behind her she could hear strange voices, their tones sounded familiar, but their words were indistinguishable. In every direction she looked, there was this bleak nothingness, except for the light. ((01:58)) She instinctively reached out to grab it, and as she did so, it increased in intensity, and suddenly every fibre of Esa's being felt like it was being pulled by a rocket sled. A deep rumble pulsed through her body, before the feeling of inertia slowly came to a halt. The light's intensity continued to increase and before she knew it, she was standing in a dingy swamp back on Earth looking at a run-down shack of some kind. ((02:24)) The voices spoke once more, catching Esa off guard, forcing her to look around in a panic as she desperately tried to find the source. There, on a log, sat a toad, croaking at her menacingly. The moment she tried to pick it up, it hopped off and made for the shack. Esa gave chase, sensing it was the key to getting some answers about this place. The toad hopped deftly through the swamp, but Esa was only a few places behind. Though her feet felt like lead, and splashed heavily through the putrid sludge-like water, she kept up, until the toad disappeared through a hole in the shack's wall. Esa came to a halt on the veranda, and tried to peer through the window. No luck. ((03:03)) Deciding enough was enough, she pushed open the door and stepped in. A loud crack burst out from underfoot, as the floorboard snapped beneath her, causing her to stumble, before she recovered. Disembodied voice: You killed us… Panicked, Esa looked around frantically and moved through the seemingly endless rooms of the house for the source of the voice. She flung open doors, flipped tables, scattered furniture left right and centre in her frenzied search for the voice. ((03:30)) The final room she opened revealed something truly horrific. There, in the centre of the room, lay a pile of rotting corpses dressed in Starfleet Uniforms. Several looked familiar, but Esa couldn't remember their names. A Romulan woman, several Human males, an Orion, a Worene… She screamed. As if on command, the scream caused the bodies to move, as they rose to their feet and advanced toward Esa. Bodies: You killed us… Kiax: No, no, I didn't. It wasn't me! Sobbing, Esa tried to run, but found that the room she had entered was now a cavernous space, with no obvious exit. She tried to get away, but the bodies overpowered her and forced her to the ground. They proceeded to tear at her skin, reducing her to a pile of flesh, like them. She forced her arms up to protect her face, and then… ((03:58)) Nothing… Once more, Esa felt alone and weightless, as if there was nothing else in the universe with her. No stars, no planets, just her… and a ship. It was there, in the distance. Big enough to make out its shape, but too far to reach. Her breath seemed loud in her ears, and she could feel her heart beating against her chest. The silence was amplifying everything, until the voice returned. Unable to move, Esa simply responded. Voice: You don't belong here… Kiax: Where is here? Voice: You need to leave. Kiax: I don't remember… Multiple Voices: You were never one of us… Kiax: Who are you? Voices: LEAVE! A familiar face appeared in front of Esa's, again bearing a striking resemblance to someone she knew, but with solid black eyes. She felt a hand on her sternum, pushing her back, as the nothingness swallowed her up and she fell further and further away from the ship. ((05:24)) Hot. How could nothingness be hot? Bright… Space was dark… Confused, Esa opened her eyes into a glaring blue sky. She blinked a few times as her pupils constricted to the sudden assault of photons. She was lying on her back in the middle of a desert, baking in the midday sun. She sat up and took stock of her surroundings. In all directions, except one which sported a distant stone structure, golden sand stretched out as far as the eye could see. oO I've never been to a desert? Oo On the stone structure, stood a figure in white robes. Perhaps they could help? She looked at the structure more carefully, noting that it consisted of five totem-like pillars, with a dais in the centre. The dais was sporting some kind of protrusion... oO Won't hurt to ask… Maybe the dais holds the key... Oo She got up and trudged through the soft sand. With every step, her feet sank into the dunes. She could feel the heat through the soles of her boots Some even managed to lap up over the rim into her boot, burning her foot as it slid down to the base of the shoe. Eventually, after a peculiarly long walk for the distance, she made it to the figure, who stood with her back to Esa. ((06:39)) Stranger: Hello, Esa. The strange figure spoke with disdain and spite dripping from her words, Esa simply listened. Stranger: You’re so smart, Esa. Do you know why the Chon called their project “Avalon”? Kiax: It’s the island where Excalibur was forged, and Arthur taken to recover from his wounds after battle. Not the first connection to Arthurian myth I’ve come across in their notes. Stranger: ::flatly:: “Myth”, she calls it. A limited word, for a limited perspective. You were always such the scientist - you’re probably right at home with all these subspace contraptions, aren’t you? Kiax: As much as anyone, I suppose. Stranger: The Chon activated a power in the artefact that literal minds can’t handle, and it destroyed them, so don’t push the wrong buttons. oO Artefact? Oo Kiax: You’d better not either. Stranger: But I know which ones are the right ones. Esa grabbed the stranger’s shoulder to force them to face her, but was surprised to see the face of the one person she could remember. Her sister, Erin. Kiax: You’ve learned to read Chon since the last time I saw you… Erin glared at her, venomously, before seeming to vanish into thin air. Kiax: Erin? ((07:20)) With her sister now gone, Esa leant against one of the pillars. As she did so, it seemed to explode outward with green energy, revealing a spinning core of the same energy. Deciding to exercise her curiosity, she moved to the protrusion, which she could now see was a sword of some description. She lightly touched the end, causing the sword to slip further into the dais and rotate like a key. As it did so, the green energy from before began to channel toward the centre, revealing a circular portal to rise up from the ground. Shimmering and glowing, but remaining translucent, voices seemed to emanate from it. Voice 1: No! Get back! ::beat:: What… What is it? Voice 2: There’s something in the light! Voice 1: Stay here! A figure appeared in the portal. The second person Esa recognised. Maddi. Figure of Maddi: What? Who are you? Kiax: Maddi? It Esa, your wife! The figure seemed to gesture toward the other voice, signalling it’s owner to stay back. Figure: What? What about my wife? As if realising some terrible truth, Esa’s eyes grew wide. Though she couldn’t remember why, the next words to leave her mouth were a set of very strict instructions. Kiax: ::Screaming:: DON’T. TOUCH. THE SWORD. Figure: ::Pleadingly:: She meant no harm! Behind her, the ghostly figure of Erin had returned, and a sour look crossed her face. Erin: Take. Out. The sword. Esa: What!? No! The figure of Maddi looked perplexed, as if trying to decide which of the two instructions she should adhere to. Esa: Maddi. Maddi listen to me… Erin: It’ll explode unless you pull out the sword! Figure: Oh God, no! The figure of Maddi obviously made up her mind, and appeared to make a motion of pulling out a sword from something. Perhaps a copy of the same dais that Esa was standing in front of. Esa: NO! Esa turned and ran for cover as the portal exploded, just as Erin had predicted. Then, darkness. ((08:55)) The grey, overcast sky loomed forebodingly over the graveyard as it emptied its contents to the ground. Rainfall wasn’t uncommon in Scotland, and yet, it seemed to be poetic that it should be raining today. Esa stood alone, wearing the black dress she reserved only for the most sombre of occasions. She cried, remembering everything that they had been through. She was the only person who had ever loved, trusted, and cared for her so much, throughout everything that had happened since graduating the academy. Kneeling down, she laid the flowers next to the headstone, which bore the name “Maddi Hyden”. It had been a year since the accident with the dais, where her life had tragically come to an end. Little did they know that the events of that day would end up rippling out across the region, spelling doom to all those that had served on the good ship “Atlantis”. It felt unfair that she was the only person to make it out alive, that the guardians of the artefact had chosen her to make the crossing. Through her tears, she mumbled to the grave; Kiax: Hey there. So… I miss you. So much. You were always there for me in a world that made me feel so alone. Now you and the others are gone, I don’t know what to do. Starfleet forced me out, citing that the trauma was too great, and that I was too emotionally compromised to carry on serving. It should have been you that survived. You would have stayed strong. Fought on and saved the others. The galaxy seems silent. So silent now the war has stopped. I have survived all, though deep down knew I shouldn’t have. Now you’re not here and I shall go home alone. They tell me I have to try to live life as before and hide my grief for you. My dearest friend, who should be with me now. Not lying cold in the ground, taken too soon, in your grave... Alone... Lieutenant Esa Kiax Comm/Ops Officer USS Atlantis – NCC 74682 Community History Team Member A239511ED0
  14. Trophy Hunter ((Trezire, Ceata, Northern Exclusion Zone)) In the glades of the north, far beyond the Acasa Region, snow fell out of colorful, cloudy skies. Next to an icy stream that led through a snow-clad forest, a Dokarran Elder named Yidian stood looking out towards a tall mountain of stone and ice. Through the gentle snow-fall, a red hot glow emerged in the distance, announcing the approach of a dragon. Yidian stood with arms spread out wide, waiting. A hurricane of wind swept over the icy stream, throwing snow into the sky and knocking Yidian onto her back. A smile spread over her face. A tremendous thud knocked snow off tree branches and this turned into the whooshing sound of the snow cover falling down to the valley floor like a tide washing over a beach. A series of thudding, ice crunching sounds approached. The ground shook. Standing up, Yidian looked out at a dragon with beautiful feathered wings, which had come to drink at the stream. She carefully approached the ancient beast, crunching through the snow, until it turned to look at her. Yidian knelt down and bowed her head. Reaching out with her mind, she touched The Lady, a giant Vizinyan Tree thousands of kilometers to the south. A pleasant murmuring was there, content, but still slumbering, immature and innocent. The dragon huffed out a puff of frozen air and lowered its head. Yidian climbed up onto the creature’s neck and found a secure place near the head of the dragon. A flurry of feathered wings threw ice and snow into the air. With a leap, the dragon flew into the colorful skies. Yidian watched the world down below grow smaller and smaller. The dragon flew higher and higher into the clouds, until after a time, they broke through the mist to emerge into the brightness that lived beyond the view of her kind. Yidian closed her eyes in ecstasy as warm sunshine tingled over her pale white skin. She spread out her arms and looked up at the white star that illuminated the tops of the multi-colored clouds below. A tiny dot appeared high up in the atmosphere. It grew larger and larger until it had formed into the silhouette of a starship. Yidian’s soul filled with wonder at the notion of traveling amongst the stars. It would be like living in glory and ecstasy inside the darkness of the void, far beyond her world and The Lady. It would bring the Veiling too. A vast separation from the communal minds of the Dokarrans. With the Veiling came freedom. The freedom to gather new experiences which might prove beneficial to The Lady and to the rest of her people. The silhouette grew larger. The beautiful feathered dragon called out to the winds and blew a huff of fire. The little starship answered the dragon with a beam of blue-white light. When the light touched the dragon, it screamed in pain. Yidian could feel the dragon’s heart fail as it was burned up by the light. Down, down, down through the multi-colored clouds fell the dragon. It smote the side of a frozen mountain, covered with snowy trees. The dragon slid through the forest, turning the side of the majestic mountain into a desolation of broken rocks and trees. Yidian emerged from beneath the gigantic corpse. Who had done such a thing? The hum and roar of the little starship flew overhead. Yidian did not look up but heard it land on the frozen ground among the trees. Some time after, she could hear the approach of a man, a human, crunching through the snow. Yidian had knelt down next to the dead dragon, placed a hand on its neck and let her sadness spill onto the feathered beast. The man approached, stopped and smiled. Among the vibrational sound complexes that came from his mouth, one word stood out in her mind: Trophy. Yidian watched as the man went up to the dead dragon while a hovering device recorded images and sounds of the disharmony which he’d brought down around the frozen forest. Rather than experiencing anger, Yidian considered what he had done. It was remarkable how a single action could cause such a tearing wound in a world full of harmony. Of course, animals had always killed each other, mostly for sustenance but humans had also hunted their own kind, like many of the “enlightened” beings that lived out among the stars. Cold curiosity turned into hunger, a need for greater understanding. Might there be value in the exploration of disharmonious concepts? Yidian had always sought to gather experiences that might prove useful. There was one experience which had never been fully explored by the Dokkarans: Evil. The man who slew the dragon ignored her. Perhaps he regarded her as any other plant, as if she were a bush or tree to be discounted. After some time, he departed in his little starship, flying high up above the multi-colored clouds. Yidian watched the silhouette shrink down to a tiny thing, which punched through the clouds on a journey back to the stars. Yidian chose to use vibrational sound complexes similar to what the human had used. For the first time in over two hundred cycles, she spoke. Yidian: I think I shall go to earth. ~*~ Yidian Light Bringer Starbase 118 Ops O239609AD0
  15. ((OOC - Special shout out to @Edward Spears, MD for such creativity regarding when Dr. Spears woke up!)) ((Mess Hall, Starfleet Academy, The Other Human Planet)) Yito: We keep investigating then. Something is trying to tell us something either some form of being or Ed subconscious. Blair: Yeah, but unfortunately the universal translator doesn’t speak mural. Laxyn: No but our minds might. They do show us something that we know in our real lives. I did wonder why they didn't leave us with all our memories intact but I assume that they just don't know how our minds work and wanted us to experience this shared experience as a base of communication. And now they seem to be trying to figure out how our memories can help us. If they are not familiar with our brains and minds, it would be difficult. Spears: I agree. Whether this is one of our minds, or all of them, the common root is that these beings seem to be using our collective experiences to send us messages. But how confusing would our memories be if these entities don't experience the universe the way we do... Yito: Has anyone else had flashbacks/forwards? I know Ed had one earlier of a painful memory .:: She looked to Ed to explain. :: Laxyn: I had a few. ::She admitted meekly:: Just now I had a painful one I don't quite understand.. earlier when I was alone with Alex I had one that seemed to want to tell me something. My theory is that it was about who they are - something we haven't met yet... and that their balance is disrupted. Maybe... these probes are the reason for that. Spears: Yeah. I've seen a few things that must happen after this point in time. The memories I experienced felt completely real, and they were emotionally painful... Yito: What if whatever is trying to communicate with us is in pain but doesn’t know how to describe it to us. Blair: What if you’re right? Laxyn: It would make sense. If they don't know our minds, they might also not know our language. So they dig through our memories for something that ... feels like that they want to say, no matter the context of that feeling. Yito: Pain can come for so many different reasons but feel very similar if not the same. Spears: I agree with all of you. If they experience reality differently from us then they might not know how to differentiate between different kinds of trauma. Blair: The more I think about it, the more it makes sense. A Starbase, as starship, and a probe. Tie those images with the memories of pain. I really think Yito’s right. Laxyn: I agree. Now if we only knew how to utilize it. Spears: If only we knew what was happening outside of this... Construct... Blair: I’m just theorizing here so bear with me. But what if the image of the bridge is true and we are the crew of that starship, the Constitution. ::pause:: Maybe something we’ve done has inadvertently done harm to whoever these beings are? Laxyn: Do you think that could be the reason why it is _us_ that is here? Yito: Would make sense. We do seem to be the senior officers. Spears: The Galaxy-class is an exploration vessel. I bet the Constitution has launched hundreds of probes in her time... Blair: The big issue would be figuring out what damage was done, and how we can fix it. Especially from in here. Laxyn: ::a deep breath:: That's the big question. Yito: They keep showing us pictures, memories maybe they will lead us there. Spears: They seem to change the nature of this reality, or at least the mural, when we make the correct kinds of connections. Laxyn: What do you want to tell us? What can we do? The image changed again. It was still the bridge, only now there were different people occupying the stations and consoles. Saveron seemed to be seated centrally. He seemed older, more mature. Laxyn: Is... is that Saveron? ::She pointed to the center chair.:: He looks ...strange with short hair. Yito: He seems older, with 3 pips. There are also others I’ve seen here. Spears: And some newer faces. Blair: If our theory is correct, I would assume they are the rest of the crew. Laxyn: If this is what is happening now... then Saveron has command instead of me. The screen... that looks like a starchart. Can either of you identify where this is? Yito: No, but the computer may have it on file. Spears: Doesn't look familiar but... That portion of the chart identifies the Klingon border. Blair: ::Alex shook his head:: Sorry it doesn’t particularly look familiar to me, but I’ve never really studied starcharts. Laxyn: Do... do you think they are going into Klingon space? ::Her face lost most of its colour:: Yito: That would be against the treaty :: Was that still in effect? :: Spears: I thought we were doing alright with the Klingons? ::Or was that information out of date...:: Blair: That’s what I’ve learned in classes, but that information may be out of date. Pretty much everything else here is… Laxyn: I hope not. But you may be right. What IF this is where these beings are? Yito: But if the probes cause them pain what will a large ship do? Spears: Nothing good, I'm guessing. In medicine the idea is to avoid doing more damage while working to solve the illness or injury that already exists. If the Constitution barges in there, not only might it hurt these beings significantly, maybe even irreparably, but it could also cause diplomatic repercussions with the Klingons... But Saveron is a reasonable person, right? He wouldn't order the ship into Klingon space... Right? Laxyn: Well... Blair: I’m sure we can trust him, but maybe we need to find a way to help from here? Yito: I don’t know what we can do to stop them from here. Spears: I don't think there's much more we can do from here except assure these beings that we'll try to help? Laxyn: Just how? Yito: Can we somehow communicate we got their message? Maybe they’ll wake us up. So we can tell the others to stop. Spears: If they understand that we understand and that it is in our nature to help, they might simply let us go. I wonder... Yito: Unfortunately I don’t think we fully understand us. Our missing memories is an indication of that. Blair: And if we don’t fully understand ourselves, we couldn’t expect these beings to understand us. Spears: Hang on, I'm going to try something. Yito: What have you in mind? :: Intrigued. :: Laxyn: If you would tell us what... Ed closed his eyes and focused. Spears: ::Muttering:: Come on. Come on. Find a memory of me helping someone... And then it came in flashes. Ed could hear his characteristic laugh as he treated bruises, burns, cuts, broken bones, and more. Different faces. Different species. And not just Starfleet members. Then the more complicated things. Lystra's hand; a mystery he still hadn't solved, but one he hadn't given up on. Then a memory of the first patient he lost under his care; something he still lamented and strived to better himself because of. Finally there was a feeling of calm that came along with the memories slowing down. Ed felt a pain in his temples and scrunched his eyes. ((Sickbay, USS Constitution-B)) As he opened them, he was no longer standing in front of the mural. He was lying down on something relatively firm, a bright light overhead. The room smelled sterile. The scent was at once familiar and comforting. He could hear the gentle beeps and tones of a medical scanner. Then the more urgent tone of a tricorder. A head appeared in the beam of light looking concerned and relieved all in one. Malyz: No I haven't yet. He just woke up on his own. Ed tried to speak, found that his mouth was dry and a little lame, and then tried again. Spears: Oz... Am I back? He felt back, but it was also like he'd just woken up from, well, a coma... Ed looked over to the side and saw that Jalana, Alex, and Seja were all prone on biobeds of their own. OK. So maybe it wasn't just a coma dream... Malyz: You sure are, boss. ::Oz smiled.:: Spears: Like I'm in a fog bank. Also thirsty. Ed blinked and looked around. Things started to clear and click into place. Memories unlocked that had been hidden to him while he was on the other side.
  16. (( Part 1)) ((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa)) With a dull thud from the internal mechanism, the doors parted. The thick layers of dust that swamped the room they were stood in stopped at that threshold, though powdered footprints faded across the next room as the unknown visitors tracked it through. Quinn swung her rifle back up, heart rate climbing in concert. Whoever it was, they had moved further into the building; minutes ago, an hour ago, it was impossible to tell. But the door beyond was unremarkable, not of the heavy security design that they had just dealt with. She looked toward Neathler, raising her eyebrows. Reynolds: On your lead. ch'Ranni: Darling, I'll follow you anywhere. The Andorian gave a small smile toward Neathler, and stood, falling in behind the human with a hint of swagger in his stride. The charming rogue, smuggling for self-interest. She wondered what he'd do when they got out; whether he'd return to that life or start something anew. It made Neathler shake her hand, and she pulled a dented hand phaser from the inside pocket of her clothing, passing it toward him. Neathler: Just don't point that thing on me, Smuggler. ch'Ranni: Nice. Through the doors they passed, and Quinn glanced over her shoulder as they closed behind her. Now sealed, the air was thicker in here, the atmosphere not being lost through breaches in the outpost's shell. Jona removed his rebreather and smiled, though neither Quinn nor Neathler had the same confidence in the quality of the air. Perhaps the brunette could also hear echoes of Marshall's warning that the Cardassians were as liable to use toxins and poisons as traps, as they were fire. ch'Ranni: Seems like there's power here. Life support's operational too. I guess somebody's home. ::He faced the next doors and turned to Neathler with questioning eyes..:: Maybe we should knock? Neathler: I lost my manners years ago. And maybe you should keep on that rebreather in case the spoons installed some airborne poison or stuff like that. The comment earned them a shrug, but nonetheless, he slipped the rebreather back on. Neathler slipped into position next to the new set of doors, and with the barrel of her rifle raised toward the ceiling, she nodded toward Jona. With a tap of his fingers and without protest or problem, they were granted ingress, and after a heartbeat's pause, the human woman levelled her rifle and stepped through. She swept the revealed corridor and finding nothing except a choice of which direction to proceed. Neathler: Any preference? ch'Ranni: Left. Always choose left. Quinn shrugged, with no obvious indication of which option was more interesting, safest or useful, it was little more than a coin toss. Contrary as ever, Neathler started to move right — until a tiny sound echoed down from the left. Existing on the edges of Quinn's hearing, it was a quiet, rhythmic tick that seemed to be coming from behind the door at the end of that corridor. With something of interest to examine, the decision was remade and the dark-haired woman made in that direction instead, taking up a position beside the door. Neathler: Ready? The Andorian answered with a nod, his antenna twitching, and Quinn swore she saw a tiny glimmer of amusement dance into Neathler's dark eyes. It was an odd comfort to see, and the hybrid nodded her readiness as well, adjusting her grip on her rifle. A light touch to the control panel, a whisper from the door and it opened. The regular beeping was much more distinct now, though peeking through Quinn couldn't see the source — and indeed she could see something distracting in its peculiarity. ch'Ranni: Huh. I guess I wasn't expecting that. Neathler shifted to see what was being stared at. They were looking into a small and cramped space, more of a storage closet than a room. But sat on the floor right in front of them, still and silent, were two Cardassians, unreactive to the door opening or the armed people pointing large weapons in their direction. They weren't even blinking, and Quinn found herself wondering if she was looking at projections, rather than people. Frowning, her hazel eyes flicked across to the side wall, where a console glowed in cool green and warm brown. Neathler, evidently, had seen it too. Neathler: Shoot them if they move. Shades can you get a ground plan or something, or data from that project? We've got a working console here. Reynolds: Yeah. ch'Ranni: Response Quinn eyed the Cardassians, wary of moving into the same room that had likely incapacitated them. She edged around the two men while Neathler prodded one of them with her rifle. The man swayed at the nudge, but otherwise didn't react. With a faint frown, she started working at the console, paging through screens of Cardassian text as she searched for answers, and it dawned on her that the sound they'd heard in the corridor had not been the idling workstation. Neathler: What do you think, drugged, frozen, paralysed? Reynolds: I'm guessing they set off one of their own traps. ::She paused, a dark thought crossing her mind.:: Though that means they were either trying not to kill whoever got in here, or something else has failed to go off. ch'Ranni: Response Working on the console, didn't see Neathler slip inside the room, her dark gaze panning across floor and wall and finally arriving on the barrels stowed in one corner. She knelt down, testing the weight of the lids, inspect their underneath, shining the light of her torch inside. Then— Neathler: Explosives! Get out! Quinn didn't need any more incentive than that. She bolted back for the door, only to find that now it wouldn't open — a trap now fully sprung, no doubt. Glancing around the small room, she tried to merge the path they'd travelled with what she'd seen from the outside and what her tricorder her showed as she scanned the interior. Pieces interlocked and she turned, pointing to a nondescript section of the wall. Taking a step toward it, she talked as she adjusted the settings on her phaser. Reynolds: The corners of that panel: one each, setting seven, two-second burst. Should blow it clean out. On three— TBC... -- Quinn "Shades" Reynolds Starfleet Defector The Skarbek T238401QR0 ------ (( Part 2 )) ((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa)) There was a blast of heat and the roar of flames, and Quinn felt the concussion slam into her back, throwing her forward, clean off her feet. She arced through the air and hit the powdered, grey dirt — and then there was nothing. No pain, no raining debris, no cries from her comrades. Even the wheeze of her breath through her rebreather was gone, yet she was having no trouble breathing. Cautious and slow, she unclasped her hands from the back of her head, peering around as she eased herself back up on to her feet. Neathler and Jona were frozen mid-movement, the bloom of fire as still as though it was a painting. Dust had been thrown out ahead of the blast, sparkling and motionless in the air. Up in the sky, Quinn could see a shuttle silhouetted against the stars. It was a moment frozen in time — except she wasn't. As she looked around, a frown of confusion carving ever deeper into her forehead, Quinn spied a red trim around her cuffs, the belt and tunic of a Starfleet Admiral instead of her jacket. She was a Starfleet Admiral. That was why she couldn't hear her rebreather. She wasn't wearing one. And this was— ???: Hello. She whirled around. The voice came from a fetching woman, with pale skin, feminine curves and tumbling red hair. She wore the same uniform as Quinn, complete with the pips of a rear admiral, and as their eyes met, she gave an amused grin. Stood with her weight over one hip, arms crossed, she chuckled. ???: You must be wondering what's going on. Reynolds: The thought had crossed my mind. ???: Well, you see I'm in a bit of pickle. My little experiment isn't going so well and— Quinn's heart was thumping in her chest, despite her stony exterior. The last thing she remembered was giving the order to spool up the QSD in order to head back to Tyrellia. Xerix had been at the helm, the new operations chief ch'Ranni sat next to him at his station. Beside her, she and Jo had been discussing the quite frankly ridiculous topic of how to get first dibs on Nkai's bakes now that he was in his new post. Then as surely as a scene change in a holonovel, she'd been stood on Peshkova as the sun set, not a Starfleet Admiral but a Starfleet defector, watching Walter eulogise people who most certainly weren't dead. Not dead at all, just moved on to new assignments, alive and hopefully happy in their postings. Reynolds: Your what? Who are you? ???: My experiment. I'm a... what do you call it? Scientist. I'm doing science. Trying to figure out how you tick. Or perhaps it's why you tick. ::She offered a brilliant smile.:: Anyway, you can call me Q. Reynolds: ...Q. Q: Yes. I assume I need no further introduction. Quinn didn't answer, cold radiating across her shoulders and down her back. She'd never encountered a Q before, but there was someone on her crew who had. Was that why this one was here? Whatever the reason, they were in trouble — Starfleet had encountered Q who didn't acknowledge the value of mortal life. Virtually omnipotent and immortal, they simply didn't understand it. Or perhaps didn't care about it. Who paused to think before swatting a fly? Q: Well, come along. Reynolds: Wha— The Q snapped her fingers, and the moon vanished. In its place was stark, cold metal; a corridor lined with cells in the brutal architecture that the Cardassians favoured. The forcefield on the one she was facing was active, though in that frozen moment of time she couldn't hear the tell-tale hum of energy Her gaze, however, was entirely beyond it. All she could see was the tall, broad German sat on a bench, cradling his head in his hands. Her heart banged behind her ribs, even as her eyes told her he was unharmed. Untouched. So far. Q: You see, I let you all make your own choices in my maze, but some of them were... disappointing. What good are you on the moon when he's here? And that other you should be on the moon, don't you think? With the other blonde? ::She paused.:: Why do you have so many blondes? Do you collect them? Quinn turned to deliver the retort forming on her lips. It was lost as the air rushed out of her lungs, as surely as though she'd been punched in the stomach. The cell opposite was also occupied; Valesha, bearing subtle signs of Cardassian interrogation, pale to the point of translucence, raw-eyed as she stared vacantly across the corridor, her head on Johns' chest. Oh, Johns. He wore the not-so-subtle signs of Cardassian interrogation, bruises and cuts covering what skin she could see. But he was ashen, the tell-tale pallor of the dead, and ice flooded Quinn's veins. Cheeky, smiling Johns who laughed and loved and managed to make himself worth much more than the trouble he caused. How could he be dead? Why was he dead? The universe could be unfair, but this... this had intention. Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: What have you done? Q: Me? Nothing. ::She walked through the forcefield as though it wasn't there, crouching down beside the pair.:: The Cardassians, on the other hand... Well, I'm sure I'd find it simply awful if I cared about it. But I'm a dispassionate observer, ::she waved an elegant, disinterested hand,:: or whatever. Objectivity and all that. Ice became fire, grief turned to anger. She bit down on it, refusing to lose control, but there was a flare in her eyes and a flame in her voice as she answered. Reynolds: You put us here, you're responsible. The Cardassians didn't kill him, you did. Pouting, the Q sprung up to her feet, red hair bouncing around her shoulder. She answered with a petulant tone of voice, as though she was being told off by a parent. Except the Q didn't have parents. Perhaps that explained a lot. Perhaps it explained nothing. Q: I'm not killing anyone! It's not my fault if you're all a bunch of savages. Reynolds: You— The redhead stepped forward and placed a finger on her lips, and suddenly the Starfleet Admiral found she couldn't speak. It was as though her vocal cords had simply vanished — and given she was dealing with a Q, perhaps they had. Q: Shh. ::She smiled and patted Quinn on the head.:: There there. It's all for a worthy cause. Science, remember? I know you love science. Unable to speak, Quinn glared instead. She may as well have not bothered, for all the impact it made. The Q simply stepped back, snapped her fingers and they were aboard the Skarbek in that mad tangle of technology, sweat and elbow grease that MacFarlane called main engineering. Erin was there, a darkening bruise on her forehead and blood matting her blonde hair, up to her elbows in the EPS flow control to the cloak. Q: Here. This is where you should be. Makes more sense, don't you think? Then you can have all your interesting feelings knowing he's up there, ::she swept her hands up,:: and Other You can have all her interesting feelings knowing she's down there, ::she pointed down,:: and it just makes for better results. Reynolds: You can't just change the variables of an experiment half-way through. The words spilled out before she realised she had her voice back. A thought of a tactic, voiced without pause. If the Q considered herself a scientist, maybe she could be convinced to behave like a vaguely decent one. Arguments of morals and ethics were liable to fall on deaf ears, but perhaps if she thought she was being a bad scientist... Q: Can't I? Oh, that's a bother. What can I do? She didn't hold out much hope that the tactic would work, but Quinn had to try. There was no way to brute force a Q into doing what you wanted, words and trickery were the only option and even then it was a limited chance of success. And she was hardly a diplomat. Reynolds: If it's clear you're not going to get usable results, you should abort it. Otherwise, it's a waste of time and resources. Q: Oh, you are clever. :: She chuckled and booped — booped — Quinn on the nose.:: Full marks for the attempt. But we'd best get back to it. Do try to be interesting. She smiled, clicked her fingers, and— TBC... -- Quinn "Shades" Reynolds Starfleet Defector The Skarbek T238401QR0 ----- (( Part 3 )) (( OOC: For clarification — as far as everyone's concerned IC, Erin's always been with the planet away team, and Quinn never left the Skarbek. )) ((Outpost, Omicron Noctae IIIa)) Neathler: Ready? The Andorian answered with a nod, his antenna twitching, and Erin swore she saw a tiny glimmer of amusement dance into Neathler's dark eyes. It was an odd comfort to see, and the hybrid nodded her readiness as well, adjusting her grip on her rifle. A light touch to the control panel, a whisper from the door and it opened. The regular beeping was much more distinct now, though peeking through Erin couldn't see the source — and indeed she could see something distracting in its peculiarity. ch'Ranni: Huh. I guess I wasn't expecting that. Neathler shifted to see what was being stared at. They were looking into a small and cramped space, more of a storage closet than a room. But sat on the floor right in front of them, still and silent, were two Cardassians, nonreactive to the door opening or the armed people pointing large weapons in their direction. They weren't even blinking, and Erin found herself wondering if she was looking at projections, rather than people. Frowning, her hazel eyes flicked across to the side wall, where a console glowed in cool green and warm brown. Neathler, evidently, had seen it too. Neathler: Shoot them if they move. Vines can you get a ground plan or something, or data from that project? We've got a working console here. E. Reynolds: Yeah. ch'Ranni: Response Erin eyed the Cardassians, wary of moving into the same room that had likely incapacitated them. She edged around the two men while Neathler prodded one of them with her rifle. The man swayed at the nudge, but otherwise didn't react. With a faint frown, she started working at the console, paging through screens of Cardassian text as she searched for answers, and it dawned on her that the sound they'd heard in the corridor had not been the idling workstation. Neathler: What do you think, drugged, frozen, paralysed? E. Reynolds: I'm guessing they set off one of their own traps. ::She paused, a dark thought crossing her mind.:: Though that means they were either trying not to kill whoever got in here, or something else has failed to go off. ch'Ranni: Response Working on the console, didn't see Neathler slip inside the room, her dark gaze panning across floor and wall and finally arriving on the barrels stowed in one corner. She knelt down, testing the weight of the lids, inspect their underneath, shining the light of her torch inside. Then— Neathler: Explosives! Get out! Erin didn't need any more incentive than that. She bolted back for the door, only to find that now it wouldn't open — a trap now fully sprung, no doubt. Glancing around the small room, she tried to merge the path they'd travelled with what she'd seen from the outside and what her tricorder her showed as she scanned the interior. Pieces interlocked and she turned, pointing to a nondescript section of the wall. Taking a step toward it, she talked as she adjusted the settings on her phaser. E. Reynolds: The corners of that panel: one each, setting seven, two-second burst. Should blow it clean out. On three, two, one, fire— Their phasers drilled into three of the corners of the building, the differential in pressure between interior and exterior doing the rest of the work for them. The panel screeched and buckled, and while it wasn't quite enough to rip it completely asunder, there was room for them to escape through. Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response Then she was running, sprinting out of the building and into the vast, barren expanse of the moon, her breath rasping loud in her ears as it was processed by the rebreather. There was a blast of heat and the roar of flames, and Erin felt the concussion slam into her back, throwing her forward and clean from her feet. Arcing through the air, she hit the powdered, grey dirt with enough force to drive all the air from her lungs, and she felt a lightning strike of pain as ribs snapped where she landed on her rifle. It pulled a strangled cry of pain from her lungs and she rolled onto her back, tears burning in her eyes. Through the mist they created, she could see a shuttle silhouetted against the sky, recognising the familiar shape of the Inayat-Khan. Thank heavens for small mercies, though her sigh of relief was cut off by another guttural moan of pain. E. Reynolds: Is... Is everyone alive? Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response E. Reynolds: Yeah, I— Ribs. Broken. Ouch. ::She grimaced and breathed out a groan.:: Much ouch. Neathler/ch'Ranni: Response -- Erin "Vines" Reynolds Botanist & Sometime Engineer The Skarbek T238401QR0
  17. (Nice insight into the both of your characters, and an enjoyable read throughout! And I'm just so relieved that the coffee situation was worked out diplomatically.) 😀 (Deck 15, USS Juneau. Unassigned Science Lab)) Sitting on top of a now-empty transport crate, Geoffrey Teller was wiping his hands and waiting anxiously for the results of his efforts. On the counter nearby, gleaming but irregular pieces of equipment were variously whirring, grinding and beeping away merrily, unaware of their vital importance to the whole project. The work itself had become something of an obsession for Teller in his time aboard the Veritas, and now he had the rare opportunity to share it with another crew. Beyond that, his Captain was counting on him. She’d need what these machines could do in the trying days and weeks ahead. The pressure was enormous and the results far from certain so when the doors to the lab unexpectedly opened, Geoffrey Teller jumped to his feet with a start. Sienelis: What—? The Romulan stopped dead a few paces into the room, the empty space she was expecting to find anything but. Instead, there was a human with a shock of red hair, no taller than the Admiral who'd sent her to the Juneau, and an expression that seemed to be a confused mix of alarm and guilt. And next to him... Sienelis: Explain... ::she waved a slim hand toward the counter and all it supported,:: ...this. He looked around a bit sheepishly. Judging by the woman's blue collar, there was every chance he’d inadvertently taken over a space she was responsible for, but the work he was pursuing was going to be vital to the project. Teller: Happy to — firstly though, introductions — Lieutenant Commander Geoff Teller, from the Veritas. I’ll be serving as the Juneau's Chief Engineer. Teller offered a friendly handshake to the still frowning woman. She looked down at the extended limb and as an expression of vague dismay crept onto her features, physically waved the offending hand away. Sienelis: Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis. Chief Science Officer — and Romulans don't shake hands. ::She arched an elegant brow in his direction, a mote of amusement beginning to glitter in her green eyes.:: Or were you intending to proposition me? Teller withdrew the offered appendage with a grimace. oO Talk about not getting off on the right foot. Maybe I should’ve opened with a joke? A Tellurite, a Gorn and a Human walk into a bar...Oo Teller: Yep, sorry, so this all started back aboard the ‘Tas… ::He was about to continue as one of the odd machines chirped happily, its job complete:: ...actually, it’ll be easier to just show you. Don’t suppose you enjoy a cup of proper coffee? And I’m not talking about that burnt brown water the replicators spit out. Sienelis: Occasionally. Teller: Well then…::Teller walked across to one of the machines and gingerly disconnected a small sample canister filled with newly ground beans.:: Why don’t you crack that open and let me know if you think I’m on the right track. She cast a suspicious glance in his direction, joining him at the counter. Even on the bare plating of the science lab, her footfalls were quiet, and she moved with a feline grace that had completely snared a certain Russian. Taking the canister from him, she lifted it to her nose and took a cautious sniff, as though half-expecting to fill her lungs with poison. Sienelis: It smells like... coffee? Teller: Not just any coffee — this is newly grown, freshly roasted and recently ground full bean coffee, straight from a hydroponic bed to your mug! No replicated junk for this crew once I’m done getting setup. Sienelis: You know there's a point where appreciation turns into obsession, right? Valesha handed the canister back, her eyes pointedly landing on the array of roasting, grinding and brewing equipment in the lab. If not for the smell of fresh grounds, it could almost look like some kind of chemistry experiment. If one squinted. In the dark. Teller smirked, and for a second there was a brief echo of that grin on the Romulan's face. Teller: Oh yeah, I waved at that point as I passed it a while ago. Like the man said, “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Sienelis: I've a feeling that's going to explain a lot over the next twelve weeks. ::She thumbed toward his coffee-making set-up.:: Speaking of explanations, still waiting for that one. Teller: Skipper aboard the Veritas took a liking to it and the little shop I put together has become something of a fixture aboard ship. I fully appreciate the conveniences of modern living but there are some things…: :Teller took a deep sniff of the aromatic grounds:: ...that’re just better the old fashioned way, don’t you find? The question caught her by surprise and softened some of the sharp edges in her haughty expression. He didn't know it, but she came from a family of artisan craftsmen that had by-and-large eschewed replicators, preferring the traditional methods of making... well, just about everything. Sienelis: Actually, yeah. I do. Teller: Tell you what, you can have the first cup. After that, you still think this is a waste of time, I’ll get it moved to another compartment — fair? She gave him a long, thoughtful look, a calculation going on behind her eyes. The Romulan glanced from engineer to obsession and then back again, and then with a sly smile tugging at one corner of her mouth, she raised a hand and gestured toward him with two fingers. Sienelis: Let me make you a counter-offer. Keep Petty Officer Johns supplied and I'll not just let you keep the lab, I'll tell you where the coffee plants are. Geoff’s eyes went wide, and her grin widened a little. A negotiation made and an accord reached, even if it had yet to be spoken aloud. She suspected he would have been amenable to the suggestion anyway — he seemed like the friendly, generous type — but a little leverage didn't hurt. Teller: I thought some overeager Ensign ripped them out of the hydroponic beds, how’d you end up with them?! Sienelis: The wisdom of the enlisted. One of my crewmen thought it might be a good idea to put off disposing of them until we actually know who they belonged to. Teller: You’ve got yourself a deal, Lieutenant. You can consider Mr. Johns fully caffeinated from here on out. ::He let out a breath.:: That’s a huge relief. I didn’t bring enough seedlings to start over again and I doubt Captain Oddas would give me a few hours to pop over to Earth and pick up some fresh ones. Sienelis: Well. ::She lifted her shoulders in a light shrug.:: Clearly they were someone's hard work. Seemed wrong to get rid of them instead of just... moving them. Teller: Glad to know there’s at least one officer with a bit of sense aboard this boat. She'd heard a few humans say that common sense was anything but common, and Valesha supposed there was some truth to that. Honestly, she'd been guilty of lacking it herself on a few occasions — a desperate rescue attempt across a ruined shuttlebay came to mind, instead of using the transporters right there in the shuttle she'd been sheltering in. But he didn't need to know. Sienelis: ::Dryly,:: I'll make sure this lab is formally assigned to stop any repeat performances. Commander Teller's "Arabica Project". You can take the empty space next door for your plants, if you need it. Teller: That’d be perfect. And maybe lock the door, just in case. A soft huff of a laugh was her answer as he crossed to the infuser. He loaded the freshly ground beans, enjoying the heady aroma as the machine sputtered to life, the scientist looking on. Teller: Be a few minutes but one of us is having that first cup. If you don’t have anywhere important to be, pull up a crate. Teller slid one of the other empty packing crates across to the woman and sat back down on his own. After a moment's consideration, she joined him and stretched out her long legs in front of her, crossed at the ankles. He seemed happy enough to carry the conversation, and she was content to let him. Teller: Sorry to say, I don’t know many folks from the Gorkon. I’ve heard she’s a fine ship. ::He winked:: Not quite so fine as the Veritas, mind you. The comment was met with a roll of emerald eyes, though if she was inclined first toward a sarcastic retort, it was bitten back. Instead, the Romulan shrugged, glancing over the stark room they were sat in. Sienelis: They all have their charms. I liked the Invicta, though I'm pretty sure my forebears were screaming at me across the void for daring to serve on a ship with a Vulcan warp drive. Teller: Glad you suffered the wrath of your ancestors to the benefit of the fleet. Veritas is the first ship I’ve been posted to, and I love the old gal. Tough and clever in equal measures - ::Teller winked:: bit like those honorable ancestors of yours. She gave him a sidelong glance, the cogs of her mind turning behind her green eyes. There were certain things, certain current events she tried to keep abreast of, and recent reports from his home ship had caught her eye. Valesha dropped her gaze for a moment, taking a breath to summon a little courage, and then looked back toward him. Sienelis: Didn't I hear that the Veritas met with some of my people recently? Geoff thought back to the community of refugees they had nominally aided during their last mission on Ketar V. The Romulans he had met were destitute, but they all possessed a quiet dignity and poise, as if their living conditions were but a temporary inconvenience, their loss of their homeworld merely a minor setback to their grander ambitions. Teller: We did — fine people living in a hard place. We helped a bit around the edges, but the fact is there’s trouble brewing on that planet. The Romulan's gaze was fixed and intent, a flash of guilt and curiosity in her eyes. Sienelis: How do you mean? Teller: It’s a shame. Romulans we met were good folks but that world is grinding them down. The sad thing is, it’s happening to just about everyone who lives there — it’s just happening a little slower for everyone else. Sienelis: I don't imagine the Shoals is often the easiest place to settle. Teller: So how about you? How’d you make your way into the uniform? Sienelis: Oh, ::it was as much a sigh as a word, and she slid her hand into the dark hair on the back of her head, rubbing at her scalp.:: I was a refugee, too. But our caravan ended up on Vulcan. Teller tried to imagine how difficult it would be to lose a home and then to be forced to accept charity from a mortal enemy. He suddenly wondered if the refugees on Ketar V, largely ignored by the population as a whole, were somehow better off. Teller: Can’t imagine that was an easy transition. Vulcans can be about the most irritatingly gracious people I’ve ever met. The description drew a laugh out of Valesha, a grin catching at the corners of her mouth. Her stay on Vulcan had simultaneously proved and disproved a vast swathe of the beliefs she'd been instilled with as a youth. Plunged in the deep waters of the Federation, she'd found that she'd enjoyed swimming in them, afforded freedom and choices that were revelatory to the young Romulan. Sienelis: That's a diplomatic way of putting it. Teller: ::Smiling mischievously:: I’m bucking for a promotion to Ambassador - need to work on my polite phrasing if I’m going to get invited to all those fancy banquets. ::Teller examined some of the fresh burns on the back of his hands:: Doubt a fella ever got plasma burns at one of those things. Sienelis: There's a first time for everything. As he chuckled, the infuser finished its cycle with a gentle ding and began pouring a steaming mug of rich, black coffee. The robust aroma quickly filled the mostly empty room, tickling Teller’s nose. With a sigh, he rose and crossed to the improvised counter, withdrawing the finished mug and loading another. At least one of these needed to make its way to Captain Rahman or he suspected the Juneau wouldn’t move a centimeter. Still though, some testing was in order. Teller: ::He brought the piping mug to his lips.:: Finally, something drinkable aboard this hulk. You sure I can’t make one for you? Seems like the least I can do. Sienelis: Seems rude to say no at this point. Teller smiled wide as he reloaded the machine for its next cycle, merrily humming an off key tune to himself. Teller: Be just a few minutes but it’ll be worth your time, and that’s a Good Job Guarantee. She watched him busy himself, thoughts ticking over in her mind. She'd asked about the refugees that the Veritas had encountered with a purpose in mind, and eventually, she reached into a pocket and pulled out a small PADD. Her thumb flicked over the controls, and once he returned with her coffee, she extended the small device toward him. On the screen there was a picture; a younger Valesha, perhaps in her late teens, with a young man of a similar age and an older woman who bore a resemblance to both. Sienelis: I don't suppose you saw him while you were there? He took the offered PADD and looked at the image. It wasn’t hard to make out the young Lieutenant — her features hadn’t changed much over the years, and her scowl was still a perfect likeness. The young man next to her though... something tickled at his memories. Teller: You know, this fella does look awful familiar. He racked his brain, trying to connect his vague memory to a face and a name. She looked on with all pretence of casual interest gone; mouth dry, mind blank, her hummingbird pulse thrumming in her veins as the tiny flicker of hope she'd carried for nearly ten years exploded into a bonfire. Eventually, he snapped his fingers and she flinched, sucking in a sharp breath. Teller: Oh I remember… quiet kid, didn’t say much, but he worked like an ox. Helped a bunch of us out when we were rebuilding a refugee structure that had burned down. Pretty sure he lived there...or he did before it burned down. Probably worked the Docks like most of the other Romulans. Name was...Tavle? Treble? Her next word was barely more than a whisper, a dream so fragile she wasn't sure she dared speak it aloud. Sienelis: ...Taeval? Teller: Taeval — yep, that’s him — looks a little rougher around the edges, but I’m pretty certain. Why? You two fall out of touch? There was no answer for a while, the Romulan's gaze unfocused as she tried to process the news, retreating along the path of a decade-long journey of grief. The hiss of steam and the bubble of water filled the space between them, the bitter aroma of roasted coffee suffusing the air. So many thoughts had crowded into Valesha's mind at once she could barely pick one out for the white noise they created, and she stumbled over her words as she tried. Sienelis: I— ::She reached over, taking the PADD back to stare at the small image. A memory, given life once again.:: I thought he died. We got separated in the evacuation and— Ten years. I thought he was dead. Teller: Really? Damn. Well, the good news is the Veritas has plenty of contacts with the Romulans and we’ve even know a couple Colonial Marshalls who don’t completely hate us. If the interference in the Shoals is behaving, we could probably even get him on subspace for you. Take a little time to put it all together, but I’m confident we could get it done. Sienelis: I— I have to go. The coffee was left on the crate, the Romulan on her feet and stalking toward the door without any further explanation or apology. But a few steps in, she paused and stood still for a moment, then turned and returned to Teller, stooping to press a kiss to his cheek. Words were wholly inadequate for the sentiment she wanted to express, but alas, words were all she had. Sienelis: Thank you. Geoff was dumbfounded and felt a warmth rushing to his cheeks. Teller: Uhhh...you’re welcome? He watched as the young woman turned and all but sprinted out of the room in a somewhat confused haze. After a moment, he noticed the untouched cup of coffee resting on the crate and took a hesitant sniff before shrugging. Teller: I guess some people really do appreciate a good cup of coffee. fin
  18. ((Officer’s Quarters, Deck 4 - USS Juneau)) @GhantXerix approached his assigned quarters at a slow and methodical pace. With one hand, he was balancing a tray of food, and with the other he was dragging a suitcase which bore the scars of mistreatment at the hands of a brute. At his approach, the doors should have opened. But the Juneau was quickly proving that should means little on a brand new vessel. He used his knee to hit the door chime, and before the doors could part he let out a groan of disappointment upon recognizing the mind behind the door. Xerix: ::dryly:: Good evening, Commander. @Geoffrey Teller smirked as he turned away from the door controls and went back to the lone chair in the mostly featureless room. One wall was dominated by a pair of bunks, a design not much changed in decades and meant for the most spartan of quarters. The other wall featured a fold out chair and desk console for getting a bit of work done, but anyone attempting to dismount the beds would either need to be a qualified gymnast or on very intimate terms with the person sitting down. Teller: Evening there Lieutenant. Xerix: I realize this is a skeleton crew, but man the odds were not in my favor for bunkies Teller: Same here….I’ve been busy in the Engineering bay and didn’t get myself to the quartermaster till almost all the bunk assignments were taken up. Have to say, surprised you’re sleeping alone. Who’d you piss off this time? Teller didn’t have to be an empath to see that he’d struck a nerve. Ghant said nothing to that, sitting down on the floor with his tray of food, appetite suddenly missing. Teller: So how is the Celestial, by the by? Be happy to give it another tuneup in my free time. Xerix: ::Suddenly thrilled with an idea, he ate as he spoke :: Oh it’s fine. I’ve installed a new lock on the hatch and the sound emitter is smashed up beautifully Teller: Oh the speakers? For the shanties? ::Teller chuckled to himself:: Forgot about that one. Guess that means the other thing...well, I’m sure you’ll find it soon enough. Ghant gestured with his fork like it was a weapon, pointing a bite of food at the enemy. Xerix: So help me, Teller. If you’ve messed with my ship again... Teller held his hands up in a gesture of surrender. Teller: Look, the fact of the matter is we’ve got to work together or this closet :Teller extended his arms and was able to touch both walls easily:: will feel even more cramped. So I say truce - we got off on the wrong foot, lets try to put it behind us, at least until this project is wrapped up and we’re both a few lighyears away from one another. Xerix: ..Fine. Truce it is….How’s the Veritas gang? Teller: Good by and large - been a busy few months. How about your new crew? Gorkon’s certainly a pretty ship. Xerix: It’s a great ship...I’ve had a bit of a hard time adjusting to be honest. Geoff gasped in feigned shock. Teller: You? ::He smirked:: But you make friends so easily? Xerix: ::He looked pointedly at the engineer:: I thought a truce meant we stop taking shots at one another. Teller: Sorry sorry, force of habit - last one I swear. Seriously, you always struck me as a competent enough officer - what’s tripping you out? Captain over there have a weird pet or something? Xerix: She has a few. But it’s me, honestly. At the academy and even on the Veritas, I felt like the big boat in the harbor. On the Gorkon, they make certain I know my place. It’s caused me to behave in ways I’m not proud of. Ghant pushed the tray of food away from him, suddenly uninterested in eating. Teller: Well, that’s one good thing at least. Xerix: What is? Teller: You’re thinking about whatever it was you did. Fair few people I know don’t think you’re capable of that. Might be a sign of maturity if you’re not careful. Xerix: Four forbid it. Do you think this ship is going to hold up long enough for it to matter? Teller: Pfft ::Teller rapped the wall with his fist:: I think I can keep the nacelles attached if you don’t bounce us off a planet. Xerix: I doubt I’ll have the opportunity. Tiria Hamasaki seems firmly attached to that helm console. :: He stood and stretched:: I think I’m going to call it a night. Which bed is mine? Teller: Why don’t you take the top, I’ve got a little work left to do before I stretch out. I’ll try to keep the noise to a minimum. Xerix: You sure? I could give you a boost if you need? Teller snorted and rolled his eyes. Teller: If you’re bored up on the bridge I could use someone down in Engineering to help me reach the top shelves. Xerix: I’ll check my schedule. Gnight, dude. Teller: Nighto. Ghant made his way into the top bunk and pulled the privacy partition closed. Teller smiled and went back to his PADDwork, absentmindedly humming a few bars of Roll The Old Chariot Along. Within a few moments, he was tapping his foot on the deck as well. Xerix: As much as you know I love a good musical performance, might be we call an intermission until another time? Teller: Huh? ::Teller looked up with a smile:: Oh sure buddy, sure. Have a pleasant rest. Within a few minutes, the tight quarters were filled with two sounds. The tapping of a jaunty beat on a PADD, and the grinding of Ghant Xerix’s teeth. ((The next morning- zero four thirty)) Ghant woke early, early enough to hear Geoff still snoring underneath him. He rose quietly and dressed, then gathered his belongings, and Teller’s. He schlepped them all down to the unfinished cabin at the end of the corridor, where he had left one space suit the night before . He brought the suit back to the cabin where he was pleased to see his bunk mate still firmly unconscious. Leaving the suit in easy access, he placed a Betazoid chameleon rose next to it. Then he walked smugly towards the mess hall. Coffee and donuts were needed on this morning. =============================== Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Teller Chief Engineer USS Juneau - NX-99801 Captain Oddas A., Commanding V239509GT0 & Lieutenant JG Ghant Xerix Helm officer USS Juneau V239505GX0
  19. ((Starbase 118 - little Risa - Cabo Breeze.)) Dante watched the pleasant faces around him spin, or maybe that was the room? Hael: Nev’r have I ev’r …. Had a crush on’a teacher... Termine: Ouuh! I have! ::Dante took a big swig of his beer:: Dante's mind was awash with thoughts of one of his first music teachers. The Betazed woman was like a godess of warmth to him at a young age and in hindsight Dante realized she was probably aware of his affection. Dante tried to blush harder, but the alcohol had already done that for him. Hael: I had this one teach - she was younger - thought she was the our first gal I’d ev’r done seen Rustyy took a swig of his drink, and Max grinned at the thought of what a messy evening this was going to turn into. Termine: Thuh Shhtory? As Max answered, Rustyy laughed. Maxwell: True story. Hael: Come’on keep on’a goin’ ::he wanted to know more… and hopefully not reveal as much.:: Termine: Weeeell.. If you inshist…. Maxwell: Never have I ever blown off an Academy class tae go drinking. Termine: Unforshunately, deshpite my curent shtate, I wash never really that fun in the acAdeMyy. But that's what I've goth Friendhs for! Dante laughed and clapped his arms around his compatriots at the table. Hael: Alrigh’y! ::he slammed his hand down.:: Nev’r have I farted round’a group’s strangers! Maxwell: What about loud enough tae drown out the Comandant's speech at your graduation? Dante laughed bawdily, though he wasn't sure if it was a joke or a recollection. Either way, Dante just felt like laughing. This alcohol thing sure was an interesting experience! Termine: I've fhaarted a few times in groups buuut. *burp* mostly it wash to geve me an excush to leave! heheheHehe~ Max chuckled as he went next. Maxwell: Never have I ever been curious enough tae try a pets food. Dante took a big gulp Termine: N'aw look. You think AAAALLL you want, but I'll shay that Targ food looks a LOT like Guacamole. Max was starting to feel really devilish now, and he motioned for the bartender to give them shots instead of their previous drinks. He pointed at a particular bottle. Hael: Nev’r have I ev’r - gone streakin’ in public. Maxwell: It was pretty cold when I did it. ::He laughed at the memory of his drunken and shivering team mates piling into the pub at the top of the street. And the reactions from the people in there.:: Termine: Onshe again, I wasn't that fun! But I wonder that the regulationsh about pubblibic nubditidy are arounb here are! That comment got a rise out of the listening audience. Hael: ::he looked at his latest empty glass.:: We gonna be hur’in’ tomorrow. ::he ungracefully snort laughed.:: I got one! - an’ i’m’a purdy sure I ain’ nev’r done it either. ::uncertainly said.:: Nev’r have I ev’r ::dramatic pause.:: kissed a fella Safe again. Max put his shot back on the bar as he waited for the responses of the others. Dante poured himself a big shot of whatever liquid he had been offered and shot it back in his head. His thoughts were momentarily drawn to the black, bitter stinging sensation in his mouth, but they soon faded to be replaced with the memory of B'larin, one of his first crushes at the academy. It had been a hot romance when they first started seeing each other but cooled quickly as they both realized the heat they felt for each other was more about the newness of the academy life and sexual liberty ( especially in Dante's case who had just escaped a pretty strict home life) Still, you can never completely quell the flames one once had in youth. Termine: O'course I have! ! To Love! ::Dante clutched his heart:: Wha-'ere form it comes in! This proclamation brought with it another great cheer from the crowd, and with it went Dante, over the back of his own bar stool, crashing in amongst the crowd. ___________________________________________ ((OOC: There's definitely still more to be explored here but I'll leave it to Maxwell and Hael to decide if we want to continue the scene. I think with the ceremony it might be time to move ahead!) Lt. JG Dante Termine Diplomatic Corps, Starbase 118 A239503DT0
  20. [Insert ‘Pink Panther’ theme here] ((Apartment Block, Deck 801, Habitat Zone, Starbase 118)) The three Officers had mostly avoided contact with each other since arriving back at the base, apart from Lt. Cmdr. Hael’s party - which it would have been odd for them to not attend, or to be seen to be avoiding each other all evening. Now though, after finding out the location of Londonderry’s apartment, Gogi had called Malko and Dante and arranged to meet with them outside the block. It was, of course, an unassuming apartment block, one of the many apartment blocks that had been constructed to house Starbase 118’s many, many residents, in the uniform style that they had all been built in. A smooth white building, with nondescript, square windows on each of its several floors. Gogi’s access code had gotten them into the building and up to the 7th floor in the elevator, but as they stepped out onto the landing, their eyes were immediately drawn to the Starfleet Security Officer standing to attention outside apartment number 66. The stocky Bardeezan FO did not recognize the young, light-brown-haired, fresh-faced, Terran-looking man guarding Londonderry’s apartment and nor did he know of any order that had come from Captain Taybrim that the apartment should be guarded. Okay, he didn’t know absolutely everything that the Fleet Captain did, but he guessed he would have heard of something like this. Dante and Malko exchanged a meaningful glance of worry before Gogi frowned deeply as he cracked his knuckles and began to stride up to the guard. Malko and Dante followed, all three of them dressed in their duty uniforms. Fairhug: ::approaching the young man:: Good day to you…::making a show of looking at his pips::...Ensign…? The Ensign’s eyes widened as he took note of three senior officers suddenly standing in front of him. One dressed in a Medical uniform, one a Diplomat and this third, relatively short Officer with the long ginger hair was dressed in a Command uniform with Lt. Cmdr. Pips. Matterface: ::stuttering slightly:: M..Matterface, Sir. Ensign Matterface. Fairhug: Good day, Ensign Matterface. My colleagues and I require access to this apartment. Malko: Thank you for standing watch, who knows what ne'er-do-wells could have been coming around to stick their nose in. Termine: We’ll make sure to inform your superior of your exemplary conduct. :: Dante flipped through a PADD. In reality it just had economic data of the sector, but he knew that seeming like you knew more that you did was often an effective bargaining tool :: Matterface: I...I’m sorry, Sirs, the access has been limited to priority Alpha One. The lines on Gogi’s weather-beaten brow grew even deeper, if that was at all possible, like the grooves of long-dried river beds in a dessert. Fairhug: By whom? Matterface: I...I can’t say, Sir. Malko shared a knowing look with the others - Alpha One? That seems like overkill for an engineer’s quarters. Something wasn’t sitting right with the counsellor. Dante stepped forward, if there was one thing he DID know, it was starfleet code and regulation. Termine: I admire your diligence Ensign, but Priority Alpha One security protocol can only be exercised in starfleet internal security matters. Although it will barr most non-briefed personnel... Without missing a beat Malko stepped in. Malko: Surely that doesn’t apply to the investigating officers... The young Ensign’s eyes were darting between the Officers as beads of sweat began to form on his forehead. He was rattled. Matterface: I’m s...sorry, Sirs. I’ve been given orders. Gogi stepped closer to the man, reaching up to put a calming hand on his shoulder. Dante looked down at his Padd again, presenting a face of irritation. If Malko was going to play the good cop, Dante was going to play bad. Fairhug: Okay, Ensign. It’s okay. The young man tried to calm his breathing. Fairhug: How long have you been on Starbase 118, Mister Matterface? Matterface: This is my third week, Sir. Fairhug: ::nodding knowingly:: Alright. Listen. I am Lieutenant Commander Fairhug, former Chief of Security of the Embassy of Duronis II, former Commanding Officer of the Iron Jaegers and current First Officer of this Starbase. Gogi was never one to pull rank or blow his own trumpet, usually, but occasionally, the situation called for it - and this was one of those situations. Malko held the elevator so no one could enter the floor as Gogi launched into his monologue. Fairhug: Now, I understand that you have been given orders and that you want to be seen to be obeying those orders. That’s a good thing. But let me ask you this; as First Officer of this very Starbase, do you think I would report you for allowing me to do my job? The Ensign’s expression changed to one of confusion, his eyebrows almost knitting together. Matterface: N...No, Sir…? Fairhug: Of course I wouldn’t! Gogi let out a hearty laugh, turning to Dante and Malko, to indicate for them to follow suit. Then he turned back to Ensign Matterface, his expression much more serious again, one of almost parental concern. Fairhug: But...might I report you for obstructing me from doing my job? Malko: It would be your obligation, I’d say. Your hands would be tied. :: to the Ensign :: He’s even reported me before. Termine: :: Dante tapped on his pad a few times before leaning into Gogi’s ear but speaking just loud enough for all to hear:: Need I remind you sir about your upcoming appointment? The ambassador would be insulted if we were late. Once again, Matterface’s eyes began to dart between the Officers. The boy looked like his mind had imploded with the difficulty of making this decision. Fairhug: Okay, let me make this easy for you, Ensign. Stand aside and let me and my colleagues here do what we have to do and nothing more will come of this...little incident. Gogi’s hand had been rested on Matterface’s shoulder this whole time, now he patted the man’s uniform, brushing some dust off of it. Fairhug: How does that sound? The young Officer, who had been standing at attention this entire time, let out a sigh and relaxed his posture. Matterface: Yes, Sir. I understand. Fairhug: ::patting the Ensign’s shoulder again:: You’re doing the right thing, Ensign. He turned to Malko and Dante and indicated with his head. Matterface stepped aside and they made their way into the apartment. Gogi poked his head round the doorframe one last time as he entered. Fairhug: Mister Matterface, inform us immediately if anybody else approaches. Matterface: ::snapping to attention again:: Aye, aye, Commander. ((PO3 Rickard Londonderry’s Apartment, Deck 801, Starbase 118)) Termine: Nicely handled, but how could security be here already, and with such a high clearance level! I’m starting to think we’re not the only ones on the same trail. Gogi huffed through his nose. The Starfleet cover-up was already in full motion. Fairhug: Probably just some Admiral at Command making sure Londonderry’s myth is preserved. Malko: Myth of being loyal? Termine: We can look into who might have placed that order later, Malko and I can give face-of-the-matter back there a debriefing if it comes to it, but let's stay focused and search this room while we can. We might not have much time. Fairhug: Agreed. The three officers started to pace around the room. The quarters were small and sparse with only minimal personalization. This wasn’t uncommon amongst junior officers but something about it felt… off. Gogi looked around, immediately dismayed by the lack of potential evidence, but then, if someone had gotten there first, it was hardly surprising that the apartment had been “sterilised”. Malko: No garbage, no laundry, no spoiled food. After a good long while of searching Malko checked amongst every fold in the closet and Gogi opened every drawer Dante stood staring up at the ceiling. Malko: There’s almost no evidence that Londonderry even lived here anymore. It’s all been passed over. The Bardeezan looked up, unsure of what Dante was so transfixed by. Fairhug: Something caught your eye, Dante? Termine: ...Wha? Oh... No it’s just that… Do you see those bolts holding that ventilation cover on? Malko: With enough force you can open those with a letter opener if you really need to… Just saying… Fairhug: Okay... Termine: They’re wrong. Fairhug: Wrong? Malko: ::quietly:: Not that I’ve had to... Termine: I mean, they’re wrong. It’s only something a refurb crew would notice but those bolts up there… They should be self-sealing stem bolts but they’re not. They’re regular bolts that seem to have been made up to look sealed. Malko: Prophets - you’re right. They’re smaller. Fairhug: What do you think that means? Termine: well, it either means that there were supply issues during this room’s construction or… Somebody has used a blast torch to cut through the original bolts and put their own in so that they could open that cover without any trouble. Malko: Actually that sounds much easier than bending your good letter opener. Gogi stroked his beard in thought as he looked around. The only furniture in the room was bolted down and of course, none of it was near the ventilation cover. Fairhug: Okay, ::he looked at Dante, who stood a foot taller than him:: Dante, you’re the tallest, Malko… He made a gesture with his arm for the Counsellor to follow his lead as he crouched down to get on all fours. Malko: Careful now, Termine. Dante wobbled as he slowly rose into the air, supported on the backs of Malko and Gogi - the human pyramid swayed and lurched. Slowly, Dante brought his hand up to the vent covering having to stretch considerably to reach and began to pry at the bolts holding the panel on. Much to his surprise the panel, bolts and all, came crashing down on him just as he came crashing down on his friends. Rolling away from the heap onto his back, Gogi almost wanted to laugh. Maybe he would have under different circumstances. They must have looked quite the sight. Fairhug: ::standing up, brushing off his uniform:: Well, I hope that was worth it. Malko: And I hope nobody heard the raucous. Termine: Not elegant - but it worked and… what do we have here! Clipped into the back of the vent cover was a small silver tube, less than the length of a PADD stylus, with a blinking red light on it’s end and a single indent on it’s length. Fairhug: Some kind of tracking device...or… Malko: ...beacon. The Counsellor had taken the words out of his mouth. If it was a transponder, evidently whoever had been here before them had not been aware of its presence, as surely they would have removed it. Fairhug: There’s one way to find out, can we activate it? Malko: It looks to me like it’s already been activated... TBC As simmed by Lieutenant Commander Gogigobo Fairhug First Officer Starbase 118 Ops. E239411GF0 And LTJG Malko Counsellor Starbase 118 Ops A239508M10 And Lt. JG Dante Termine Diplomatic Corps, Starbase 118 A239503DT0
  21. Bravo very well written! ((g-loc, above Paldor II)) * The snowflake tumbled, fluttering a zigzag path down through the air, twirling its halted way toward a quiet destiny among the white banks of snow. With careful planning, she positioned herself just below it, adjusting her legs with each pirouette of the flake, her tongue outstretched and ready. Mother: Jo! The Feast is starting! Come inside! She spun around, almost losing her balance. Her stomach growled. The orange lights coming through the windows of her uncle's farmhouse looked impossibly cozy among the trees and white snows. She offered a short koan of gratitude to the Prophets for her life and family, then began to hurry back, at once tripping and falling face-first in the deep snow, then immediately breaking into laughter. * Brother: Something funny, Jojo? Jo looked up from the tangle of circuits and recycled cables before her and toward the entrance of the dim cellar, cutting her laughter short. She had the feeling all eyes were now on her, she was the youngest Bajoran there. Otti: Relax, Prao. We're just joking. Kiliak: Yeah, we're just joking. Prao: ::scoffing:: Just go home, Jojo. You're always poking around in places you shouldn't be. She knew that he thought he was protecting her, but he was being a jerk and she couldn't stand him right now. He was embarrassing her in front of the rest of the resistance cell. She was old enough to make her own decisions. They needed to stand up. And for that matter, who else but her was going to protect him? Kiliak: Why don't you say that to the Gul instead? Otti: May the Prophets spare us from sibling rivalries. That's enough, both of you two. We can use all hands here, and it's already been agreed the girl can join us. Now, Jo. Are you ready for this? ::that damned, rogueish smile:: Is the bomb finished? * She saw the glowing point of a photon torpedo leave the Atlantis, floating like a falling star toward the deuterium tank. From her perspective, the explosion was completely silent, and she shielded her eyes against the beautiful, quavering firework bloom that buoyantly lifted up the falling station. * A blue flare went up from the other side of the spaceport. Otti: That's our signal, it should distract the Cardassians. Time for us to move. The fuel refinery is just there, on the near side. Do you see it? Kiliak wiped the condensation from her breathing mask, then pushed away a drooping fern. She looked through her scope. She tracked the Cardassians guarding the parapet above the refinery, and again she cursed the irony that They didn't require masks to breathe on the surface of Kassäla, a moon colony which the Bajorans had made all of the effort to settle. It wasn't fair. Many things were not fair. A seven-limbed Krinnilak hung from a branch above her with three arms and a silly grin, its beady eyes framed by tufts of orange hair, watching the three of them with great curiousity, small eyes framed by orange tufts of hair. Prao: Let's move. Stay low. * Otti dipped the nose forward, ducking below another passing asteroid, then smoothly eased back on the flightstick. As the ship rolled, the distant sun broke through a hole in the nebula clouds, illuminating the [...]pit in a shock of violet. Kiliak placed a hand on his shoulder, her other held a steaming mug of Deka. Kiliak: It's so beautiful out here. Otti reached up with his free hand, then placed it over her's. * The hand on the gavel came slamming down. The room sat. Magister: For crimes against the Gul of Kassäla, for the charge of arson, for the heinous murder of innocent Cardassians and the unexpected death of Bajorans including a member of the accused's own family, this court intends to deliver a sentence of indefinite imprisonment. ::Gavel:: This trial begins now. Kiliak Jo, on what grounds do you plead guilty? * Kiliak's hands, opening the doors of a golden case. Inside, the Orb of the Prophets shines. It is too bright to believe. For a moment, she is terrified. It draws her in. * Two humanoid creatures, one much larger than the other, stand upon the wooded ridgetop and look up to the sky. The visitors, who normally keep to their own affairs in the distant city, are up to something most unusual. They can smell it on the wind, the early migration of the herds, the ground grumbles in her the language of her own reluctance. Above, strange bodies are burning the heavens. The small one coos and points at the sight of a falling star, the tall one watches silently as one of their silver chariots dives through the ringed clouds to catch the lost piece of the sky like the mighty bird of prey fishes in the great sea. * A man in Black, his face long and grim and turning away, his hand holding a suitcase, he passes before a window, only glancing at the planet below. * Prao: Wait. Change of plans. ::Holding one finger to his ear.:: They were in the tunnels, less than two hundred meters from the fuel refinery now, ducked down behind an electrical transformer before moving to the next door. Otti: I don't like the sound of that. Prao: We've just gotten a tip that a transport is arriving at the spacepad here within the hour. The Gul is on that transport. New target. Kiliak: That's... that's different! I didn't agree to blowing up a transport when I built this for us! Otti: I agree with the girl. It's bad luck to change a plan in the middle of carrying it out. And we don't know who else is on that transport. Prao: Listen. We don't get a shot like this every day. We're talking about Gul Multak. We have to try. For justice, for every Bajoran on Kassäla. An infrastructure run on the refinery, it's nothing in comparison. C'mon. You know I'm right. Otti: ...Damn it. He is right. Kiliak: How far is the spacepad? * The white corridor has countless doors. She is running. She stops suddenly, turns to open one of the doors. A green-eyed Vulcan turns from his mirror and screams. * The eyes of Dr. Magnesium are watching her * Doctors around the table are frantically attempting to save a Bajoran woman's life. She looks just like her. * Fire. The burning heat. They pushed through the smoke and the flames. Something had gone horribly wrong. The explosive. It happened too soon. Low under the smoke, Kiliak spotted a bit of clothing under the rubble and chaos. She choked on her breath under the mask. Kiliak: No... She turned the corner and made out a pantleg. Then a whole leg. It was him. But among the mess, he was too far to reach. Kiliak: ::through tears:: No. No. How did this happen? Voice: ::flashlights in the smoke:: Keep searching! They're in here somewhere! Prao: ...Jojo... Kiliak: Prao! :a hand outstretched:: I'm so sorry. This is my fault. Otti: ::a hand on her shoulder:: Jo! We have to go! Now! Kiliak: I can't just leave him! No! I won't leave my brother here! ::Sobbing:: Otti: Stop it! There is nothing we can do! They will find us! We have to go! ::pulling her hand:: Kiliak: ::only a scream:: NO!! Voice: There! I hear them! Spread out, advance on the terrorists! ::blaster fire through the smoke:: Otti: Prophets damn you! We are not staying here just to die. Take my hand. * The Prophets are waiting for me. They will greet me on the golden shore of an endless sea. We will alight as winged birds and soar over the forests of green. * A heaviness and a lightening. A quickening. The infinite black stretching longer in every direction. The evaporation of time. The thinning of comprehension. A celestial spirit rising away, leaving hollow. And... but wait... something else... * Lieutenant, can you hear me? Kiliak: Wha? I... the Prophets... Her body, heavy. Hot. No, chilled with sweat. Ice cold. Hot again in the exosuit. Something cool on her forehead. Breathing in, an effort. Now, an exhale and... rest...
  22. So, below is actually two related sims. I really appreciated the humour and creativity in this scene. Something I definitely did not expect to read but thoroughly enjoyed. I hope y'all do too. Edited to add a third sim, another in the ongoing, hilarious take of nurse vs snappy toy dog Edited to add a fourth instalment that contains a pretty nifty twist. Didn't see that coming but it was pretty good!
  23. ((OOC - a couple things before we get started: (1) This is in no way connected to our current mission, plot, or story. For the new folks, the [BELOW] tag is something we've been trying out to give players the chance to write off-duty/non-mission-related posts in order to flesh out their character, build descriptions of the ship, etc. (2) This JP is one that Justin and I have been working on for about 2 months now as a special Halloween treat for you all. We hope you enjoy it! (3) It uses the old format, but as we haven't formally adopted the new one until Friday, I pray your indulgence. Now, please enjoy PART ONE!!)) -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- ((USS Eagle, Deck 3 - outside room 332, Quentin Collins’ room [stardate 239610.31 - Quentin's birthday])) ::Kayla paced in front of Quentin’s door in what she felt was a very impractical dress. She couldn’t figure out why she was so nervous. She’d been preparing this surprise for her friend for weeks now, and was SURE everything was perfect. She knew the details were just right - that had to be priority one. Quentin would know if anything was out of place. Of course he would be too considerate to say if anything was wrong, but she knew, given how much of a classic horror buff he was, that if anything was off … well, she’d done a ridiculous amount of research in preparing this surprise, so everything was as good as it could possibly be.:: ::She came to a stop, still facing down the corridor toward her own quarters. Charlie had Katya over tonight for a sleep-over, so by now they’d probably be giggling about … something. It wasn’t too late for Kayla back out. She could just contact Quen and say she was tired. Or that she wanted to keep an eye on the girls. Or … something. oO Coward. Oo Turning, she faced the door. With a shaking hand, she pressed the intercom button. The answer came almost immediately.:: Collins: Come in! ::Entering the room, Kayla saw Collins dressed in a 3-piece suit from late 19th Century western Europe. The stark black contrasted nicely with the starched, high-collared shirt he wore under his vest.:: ::Quentin Collins was all about an occasion to dress, but he usually liked to know the reason that way he could keep an eye on the social horizon as it were. The whole thing reminded him of one of Mother’s themed costumed affairs, but there was no way Kay could know about those horrors. As she entered, he was fussing with his sleeve cuffs.:: Collins: Hey, are you sure about these costumes? I mean, you look fine, but I feel like I’m being strangled by a very weak person right now. Drex: ::chuckling:: Yes, they’re a must. I don’t know what YOU’RE complaining about. You’re not wearing a bodice. Collins: ::He opened his mouth to say something, but closed it into a tight smile.:: Touche. Fair enough. So what’s this all about? ::A mischievous smile pulled at the corners of Kayla’s painted lips. For some reason it made Quentin the fun kind of nervous.:: Drex: You’ll see. I’m not ruining your birthday surprise by telling you what it is before you’ve even opened it! ::The look on his face was priceless. She almost laughed out loud, but was enjoying the feeling of having the upper hand, so she fought the urge.:: Drex: What? Did you think I didn’t know? What kind of department head do you take me for, Mister Collins? ::To say his birthday was a sore subject with him would have been the understatement of the century and it would take twice as long to get into it fully with her. But now he was free and in open waters, as it were. What was to stop him from finally taking it back. He pulled down his suddenly very comfortable topcoat. And snapped up to look at his friend.:: Collins: Ok, Chief. Lead the way. ((Deck 6 - Holodeck 1)) ::The pair had drawn some raised eyebrows on their trek down to the holodeck, but no one had actually asked about their odd choices of off-duty attire. Now they stood in the familiar setting of yellow grid on black.:: Drex: Ready? Collins: You know I am. Kay, what IS this? Drex: ::ignoring her friend’s question:: Computer, load program “Drexula” and hold visuals at time index 0.01. ::The change was nearly instantaneous. The grid vanished from the walls, floor, and ceiling, changing to a scene completely different. That much typical in the holodeck. Kayla’s special touches to this program however, was a strange hum. It was everywhere yet nowhere but in their ears.:: ::It felt like a light crackling for a second between Quentin’s ears. He worked his jaw a second and felt instant relief. It was like diving a bit too quickly, but the steady hum still buzzed through his mind pleasantly.:: Collins: What’s that hum? Drex: It’s binaural tones. Back in the early 21st Century, there was something of a craze with them. The science behind them is essentially that they can alter the listener's brainwaves. I wanted this particular simulation to be more … immersive than others. Don’t worry too much though, you shouldn’t even notice the sounds after about two or three minutes. ::Quentin just stared, now starting to get the less fun kind of nervous. But the Chief seemed to have everything well in hand. Kayla was pleased that he seemed to appreciate the extra effort this took. Realistically, the setting and plot were simple enough. Syncing the binaural stimulus was the real tricky part.:: ::Now that the binaural shock had passed, it was time to begin. They looked around at their surroundings. They were in a small village or hamlet nestled in a rather austere but lovely range of sharp mountains. Kayla knew them to be the Carpathians, but now was not the time to play the tour guide. A man whose face was so weathered it masked his age with great alacrity walked briskly up to them. His billowing pant legs, tucked into the tops of his tall boots, made a swishing sound with each step. As he drew closer, he stretched out a leathery hand in stiff but genial greeting.:: Popescu: Welcome! You must be the visitors I was told of. I am Popescu Alexandru. Drex: ::whispering to Collins:: Surname first. You should say hi first. Patriarchy, and all that. ::Quentin shuffled awkwardly up to the man, still trying to drink in all the details of their new setting. It was painfully familiar, but he couldn’t quite place it yet. He would get there eventually, but first he had to get through this interaction first.:: Collins: Oh, aye. The name is Collins from up London way and this is my...secretary Miss Drex. Assigned by the firm, you know how it is. But she does good work! Well, her knees are going but STILL! ::He winked over in Kayla’s direction, relishing the sudden pointed scowl she wore. She may have put all this amazing time and effort into this whole charade, but that wasn’t going to stop him having a BIT of fun with her.:: Popescu: Good, good! Yes, I run the inn right up the road, I received word three days ago there would be two visitors. Tell me, what brings you to our quiet village? ::Kayla stepped up to deliver her line, all but shoving Quentin out of the way to do so.:: Drex: We have been invited by the local count has invited us to the castle for the weekend. ::Alexandru’s face turned ash gray so fast, Kayla thought for a second it could have been a glitch in the program. When he crossed himself though, she knew everything was still working properly.:: ::Quentin [...]ed an eyebrow at the sudden display of ancient superstition. Excitement started to rise in his throat. He had a sneaking suspicion as to where they were now. He felt stupid he didn’t get it sooner.:: Propescu: M-may I ask … forgive me, but … why would you go to the castle? Drex: It’s old, we’re curious, and vampires are just a superstition? What more reason do we need? ::Propescu Alexandru crossed himself again at the word “vampire,” and muttered something under his breath the program didn’t bother interpreting. Kay shot him a look again, telegraphing his cue. He beamed and stepped back onto “center stage” through the packed mud of the old way street. Clearing his throat to speak, he tried to do his best impression of his dad. All business.:: Collins: We have been invited by the Count as potential investors in a looming property deal, good sir. We haven’t the time to faff about with ancient superstitions. Please, sir, my associate and I are weary, if you won’t cart us to the Castle, surely you can provide us rooms for the night. We have coin to pay. ::He shrugged a bit toward Kayla, assuming if she took the time to detail all this, surely she gave them some kind of walking around money.:: Propescu: I regret that I have no rooms for to offer you on this evening. Drex: ::noticing his English grew worse with his agitation:: I thought … didn’t you just say you’d been told before that guests would be coming, and that you had made preparations? Propescu: ::looking mildly ascanse at being called out by a woman:: That was a mistake of my own. It has just returned to my mind that those rooms were taken by two other visitors - doubtless the ones about which I was alerted. My deepest apologies. ::Kayla looked at Quentin with a not entirely affected look of annoyance, but shrugged. She’d built in several layers of adaptive programming in this programming. The characters would respond not only to direct stimuli, but to stimuli generated by interactions resulting from the responses of less visible interactions. Right now, it seemed that this innkeeper, with all his words of welcome, was longer interested in playing host - however temporary - to those that had been summoned by the count.:: Drex: Well then, is there a carriage or cart we can hire to take us to the castle early? Propescu: That may be difficult to arrange, but I will talk to some associates of mine to see what can be done for you. Please take in the sights of our village while you wait. ::Quentin huffed, leaning a bit more into the character he was playing with in the early moments of their holo-adventure. The Chief looked like she was having fun too, but he couldn’t help but notice a ripple of annoyance through her face. Was the program not giving up narrative like it should be? That innkeeper certainly turned about weirdly after she mentioned The Count. But that was all part of the fun for Quentin. He knew for sure (mostly maybe) where they were now. Now the real fun of testing the boundaries of the narrative could start.:: Collins: Good DAY, sir. ::He turned away from the now trembling man and finally allowed himself to absorb the rest of the details of their surroundings:: ::The scenery was indeed extremely picturesque. The thatched-roof buildings that lined the streets bore brightly-colored shingle signs advertising a variety of services. A butcher, cobbler, hooper, blacksmith, and several others were among those that lined the main, cobblestone road. Off this way, there were smaller buildings, doubtless the homes of the tradesmen and women that ran these businesses. Though modest, the hamlet appeared to be comfortably prosperous. Nestled between two large mountains, Kayla supposed they were sheltered from the worst of inclement weather conditions. The flora of the immediate region boasted delicate but hardy greenery, mostly short and scrubby. Looking further, around the cluster of buildings, Kayla noted that there were no old growth trees near the town, even though the lower rises of the surrounding mountains were carpeted by trees so ancient they bore heavy mantles of lichen and thick mosses. It was almost as though the people of this township were beating back the very landscape, and were content insofar that this waged war against nature was successful. It gave Kayla a momentary chill, but having no reason or inclination to dwell on such speculation, she brushed it aside as a thought bright on by the strange start to their adventure.:: Drex: Well, it looks like we have a little time before we leave here. What are you in the mood for? Shopping? Sightseeing? ::He turned an instant about face toward his friend with a huge smile on his face. He held out his hands to her.:: Collins: I just have one question. And I really need you to be honest with me. Drex: Always. What’s your question? Collins: Is this Dracula? Did you make me a whole Dracula thing? ::Kayla looked at Quentin somewhat coyly.:: Drex: I’m not saying it’s not, but at the same time … not exactly? It’s based on the book, but I’ve set this some time before Jonathan Harker’s visit. In other words, we’re us - visiting the count per his invitation. ::suddenly nervous that she’d spoiled the present:: Does that sound ok? ::Quentin instinctively clasped her hands and started to, for lack of a better term, freak the eff out, bouncing on the balls of his feet still with his friend’s hands comfortably clasped in his own. His whole history with gifts was horribly spotty, but this? This was…:: Collins: This is everything, Kayla truly. Thank you thank you thank you. Also I’m sorry if I got mud on your dress. Drex: ::laughing:: No, the dress is fine. I’m so glad you like the program, but it’s only just started! Wait till you see … wait, no. You’ll see. ::He unlatched her hands and started to whirl around the village. The detailing of the whole thing was almost intoxicating. Once Quentin found his bearings he started to try and take in the finer details. He spied a few of the more homely structures occupied, faint fires burning behind the curtains. But as he started to look at them, and the peeking occupants found therein, they snapped the curtains back shut as if trying to ward them away. Quentin thought it was a nice touch.:: Collins: I’m guessing it isn’t just Propescu that’s scared… ::Almost as if on cue, a wicked crack of lightning split the darkness of the sky, casting a pallid shadow over the village momentarily. Quentin’s skin goose-pimpled instantly and another grin split his lips.:: ((Short timeskip)) ::The jangle of tack and the clopping of horses’ hooves announced to Kayla and Quentin that their ride had arrived. Turning, Kayla caught her first glimpse of the driver. He wore a billowing rough (but immaculately white) linen shirt, laced up the front instead of buttons for closures. On his legs he wore deerskin trousers tucked into his tall boots, and atop his head sat a very wide-brimmed hat. All-in-all, she assessed him to be an experienced and capable coachman.:: ::When the cart stopped only about a dozen feet from where the pair of scientists stood, the pair of horses motionless - eyeing the strangers, the coachman leapt nimbly from his seat, somehow missing the several mud puddles in the road. He had covered the distance in a trice, greeting them and offering his assistance.:: Coachman: Welcome. My old friend Propescu tell me you are in need of transport to the castle. We must go quickly or not at all. I will not journey after nightfall. Drex: Why’s that? Coachman: There are wolves in the area … and worse. ::A beat passed while he considered the “worse,” but he did not elaborate. Instead, he shook himself and asked after any luggage they had and needed his help with. As neither Kayla nor Quentin had any, they were helped aboard the carriage, and the coachman whipped the horses into a brisk trot. In what felt like seconds, the tiny town was little more than a barely-distinguishable smudge in the otherwise unbroken landscape - impossible to spot unless you knew where to look.:: Drex: ::to the coachman:: How far is it to the castle? Coachman: Approximately 4 hours’ at a gentle pace for the horses. Today we go a bit faster. I do not wish to be travelling late, though tonight I think it may be safer than other nights. Drex: Why’s that? ::It took the driver a full minute to respond to this. Kayla wasn’t sure if he was trying to formulate a response, overcoming the language barrier, or hiding something. When he finally spoke, it did nothing to assuage these fears.:: Coachman: The dangers will be preoccupied. ::Quentin almost blanched at the comment. At first he was completely delighted by the off putting old-world detailing of the simulation. The mysticism, the ritual of it. It was some of the same things that drew him to his hometown’s lore. But then the odder instances started to bug him. And in the sort of anxiety inducing way, not into the “solve this puzzle” sort of way. In the time it took them to hitch up to this coach and travel a ways, Quentin Collins decided he was going to start taking this seriously. Not that he wasn’t before mind you, since this was a dear and thoughtful gift from an even dearer and even more thoughtful friend. But even she seemed like something was off. And when the two of them worked a problem, the cosmos itself would reveal its secrets. He shifted across to Kayla’s seat, finally able to see the Coachman a bit. Raising his voice above the thundering hooves of the horses, he started prodding.:: Collins: What could possibly preoccupy danger? Coachman: I’m afraid I do not understand. Collins: You said they would be preoccupied, what could occupy dangers? Something even more dangerous perhaps? ::a Sudden icy burst of wind shot through the carriage windows, catching Quentin right through the arms, where his topcoat sleeve met his vest. It chilled him to the bone, so much so he automatically tightened his leather gloves at the wrist. An ancient physical tic from back in Maine. Gazing out of the window at the rushing, seemingly endless woods whizzing past them along the path. He blinked against the biting wind. The dark seemed to...blink back. Dozens of blazing red eyes bared themselves through the woods. He blinked again and they remained. He felt his throat start to dry.:: Collins: Kay...did you program this? Drex: Sort of? ::She wasn’t trying to be cryptic. It was the truth. She’d only programmed the parameters and constraints of the characters and environment of the simulation. After that, she let the AI drive the particulars. Not wanting to betray her own unease to Quentin, she shrugged in what she hoped was a nonchalant way.:: Drex: I’m sure it’ll be fine. The safety protocols are in place. ::Still, the binaural tones (now completely forgotten consciously and no longer recognized by either of them) continued entwining their way into the minds of both Kayla and Quentin. The chill blast through the carriage window was accompanied by a shift in tone. The shift in tone was accompanied by a sensation deep in the most primitive corners of Kayla’s mind. There was a predator nearby, and her very survival depended on her staying alert.:: ((timeskip - 2 hours later)) ::The carriage came to a fairly abrupt halt in front of the massive, iron-banded, oaken-timber double doors as though the horses were loathe to stop moving. Even at a halt, they stamped their hooves and champed their bits, anxious to be moving away. The coachman leapt from his perch almost before the carriage had stopped moving, and was now holding the door open. It was less a gesture of civility than it was an unspoken plea for a quick exit. The two obliged, though something in them said it was the opposite direction they ought to be moving - back toward the town.:: Coachman: ::driving away as soon as he was back in the seat:: Fare well. I will say a prayer for you both. ::Before they could answer, the coach had rattled away at a gallop, and was now out of the reach of their voices.:: Drex: Well that was ominous. ::Quentin gave a snorting guffaw at Kayla’s stating of the obvious. He pulled his topcoat tighter around them as more wind howled through the trees and cobblestones of door stop they now stood upon. The stones looked impossibly old, matching the immaculately shone wood of the doors, which somehow looked older still. Quentin’s mind flashed quickly to The Old House, tucked away in the rising vines and brambles of the Collins Estate. That house scared him then and this one scared him now. Gooseflesh pimpled on the back of his neck. As if someone...or something was watching them.:: Collins: Oh REALLY? Whatever gave you that idea? Now what? Drex: ::shrugging:: Shall we knock? ::It was of course, rhetorical. Kayla steeled her resolve fighting down the irrational urge to run after the carriage, and knocked three times loudly on the front door. They waited for an answer for a full minute before knocking again. Still no answer. Quentin tried then, pounding on the door as the fear of what it would mean to be locked out in the open at night settled into Kayla’s heart, chilling her to the bone.:: ::As the sun sank below the crest of the western mountain ridge, the pair heard a heavy scraping sound from within - as though a great bolt were being drawn. Following that was the groaning creak of the massive hinges were brought into service. The ground around them was suddenly flooded with quavering yellow light from a candelabra held in the left hand of the tall man who had opened the door. The light was such a welcome sight to Kayla that she rushed forward toward it as though she were a moth.:: ???: Good evening. I apologize for the delay. My … staff is otherwise detained. I am your host. Please do enter my home. ::Quentin carefully followed Kayla and their new host into the cavernous hall. It looked to be the height of opulence, if the whole hall wasn’t covered in thick, milky cobwebs. Quentin almost had to step around them as to not be tangled in them. Their host seemed to float through them with ease though, still holding aloft the ornate golden candelabra. As the light bathed them all, he got a closer look at the man’s clothing. Which was a perfectly put together old style tuxedo, adorned with a lavish, possibly silken cape clasped with a heavy jeweled clasp. But there was something about his eyes. Though his demeanor seemed warm and inviting, his eyes reflected...none of that. Instead they looked empty, vacuous...hungry almost. Quentin tried to shake away the feeling, clearing his throat and finally speaking.:: Collins: T-Thank you for your hospitality… ???: It is my pleasure, I assure you. You have no doubt ascertained that I am the lord of this house. I am Dracula. ::not hesitating:: Please, my friends, leave any baggage you may have here, and it will be attended to. You must be hungry after your journey? ::In response to this suggestion, Kayla’s stomach made a sound somewhere between a cranky weasel and an annoyed stock investor. She looked briefly to Collins, then to their host.:: Drex: I am actually. Dracula: Then let us not waste another moment. You will I pray, forgive me for not dining with you, but I have supped already, having business to attend to this evening. ::The elegant man led them to a long room off the main foyer (if in fact it could be called that - the proportions put some cathedrals to shame), where a banquet table lay waiting for them. Two places were lavishly set with covered dishes. These, their host lifted by his own hand, revealing a sumptuous feast of roasted meats, root vegetables, and a steaming soup that looked deeper and richer than anything Kayla had ever eaten. Her stomach gave another excited “gruggle” at the sight of it all.:: Dracula: ::beckoning with a long-fingered hand for them to take the prepared seats:: Please come and eat to your hearts’ content. I will return when you have finished and show you to your rooms. ::And with that, the Count swept from the room, leaving Kayla and Quentin to the meal before them. She was famished, but Kayla hesitated, looking at her friend. Her conscious mind knew she was in the holodeck - that none of this was real, but the primitive parts of her brain were screaming at her. Some yet unforeseen danger or threat lurked within these walls. It couldn’t be the food though, right?:: Drex: What do you think? Shall we eat? ::Quentin gave a hearty exhale of breath and picked up a yeasty and somehow still warm roll from the sumptuous spread.:: Collins: I suppose we have to, right? ::Even though his mind told him that the only thing he was holding was a lovingly created patch of photons, the warmth and smell wafting off of it told another, more vivid story. It was almost intoxicating. He was about to give up the ghost and take a bite when he saw something else even more intoxicating. In an entirely different way. In the darkness of a room housed in the balcony above he saw three sets of gleaming, dreamy eyes. One a deep blue. The other a warm hazel. The last a glittering emerald. He started to open his mouth to speak, but he was...moving somehow. Floating almost, just above the dusty stonework of the flooring. As he got closer (though through no real will of his own), more and more smells replaced the musty odor of the main hall. Lilac, jazmine, and rosemary. He didn’t even notice when he crossed the threshold into the darkened room. He started to turn, seeing Kayla still standing a level below. He opened his mouth to speak but the door slammed shut before he could. Six strong hands then grabbed him roughly, pulling him into the void.:: ::Kayla panicked. Quentin had just been … abducted? Captured? At any rate, she didn’t like to think what those three had ultimately in mind for her friend. She scanned the table in a fevered attempt to find something that could be used as a weapon. ::Grabbing a long, thin-bladed carving knife, she sprang from the table and sprinted in the direction her friend had been dragged.:: Drex: QUENTIN! ::Her voice broke as she called out over and over. There was no sound for what seemed to her an eternity, but which was in reality, merely five seconds. At the far end of the dimly-lit hallway, Kayla heard the soft click of an old door latch catching. Without thinking, she turned and ran, gathering up her skirts as she went so she wouldn’t trip. ::When she reached the door, she grabbed at the handle. It was either stuck or locked. She banged on the heavy door with the butt of the knife, screaming for the door to be opened. She stopped abruptly though, when is swung smoothly on its hinge. ::What was even more alarming was the room she now saw. It was completely empty. She took one tentative step into the dark and drafty room. The gauzy curtains swayed gently in the draft from the partially opened window. This was the only movement in the room. Other than the dark, undulating fabric, the room seemed to resent her mobility. ::Thoughts of her friends peril tried to push their way into her mind, but Kayla was powerless to look away from the curtains … the Count. Had he been standing by the window the whole time? She didn’t remember seeing him when she first opened the door to the room.:: Dracula: I trust you … dined well? Drex: ::dreamily:: Quite well. Thank you. ::The count moved smoothly - so smoothly in fact, it could have been called a glide - toward the young blonde woman.:: Dracula: That is good. It would not do to have you … malnourished. Drex: ::Her head swimming:: You’re too kind. ::A yell from somewhere else in the castle snapped Kayla back to herself as effectively as a bucket of ice water. Before her still stood the striking form of her host, but now she was aware of the immediacy of the danger. She struck out with the knife still in her hand, but hit nothing but air. Smoke? Where the Count had been an instant before was now an already-dissipating cloud of black smoke. Kayla didn’t need to think twice. She turned on her heel and ran toward the sound of Collins’ voice.:: ::Quentin wasn’t sure how much time had passed. An hour? A day? A week? There was only the women and the sickly sweet taste of their lips upon his. Though he was dragged into the darkness, soon the antechamber was bathed in an amber-gris glow. A glow that had eliminated from the lit braziers that lined the stone walls. The smell of fresh earth also cut through the intoxicating scents of the women. But it didn’t jibe the visuals of the chamber, which suggested that they were at least a few stories up. At least that’s what the gleaming moonbeams and pockmarked starry sky provided in evidence. As soon as he started to think about it, however, more lips were on his again, tossing his mind back down the dark well of passion. One that he assumed had been paved over long ago. The women seemed to speak with one voice, vibrating through his mind like a psychic drawl.:: The Brides: Do you desire, Quentin Collins? ::He was momentarily stunned. He hadn’t spoken to them. Hell, he barely had a chance to speak. But his voice was parched with the earthy smell. Lips chapped with...repeated contact.:: Collins: I...w-what’s happening? ::He was turned again, peering directly into the eyes of the amber haired woman, who seemed to be their...leader? Or at least the center of the triumvirate.:: The Brides: Do you ache, Quentin Collins? ::Sudden cold bit through his now lessened layers. Somehow his topcoat and cravat had been shed and now his sleeves hung open, as well as his vest. He tried to button it back but it appeared that the buttons had been torn away. How? And Why?:: Collins: I can’t….why can’t I feel my hands? ::He looked down, his fingertips were starting to turn blue and as sort of streaky liquid dripped from one...drip drip dropping...onto the stone floor. Which was at least twelve feet above him. He was free-floating, hands still exploring his body lewdly and in a way that made him increasingly uncomfortable.:: The Brides: We can make you feel, Quentin Collins. Feel everything and nothing. Far more than the seer you pine for. Collins: What are you- ::He finally blinked hard and saw the liquid for what it actually was. Blood. HIS blood. Dripping from various punctures from around his arm...and neck...and chest. He looked up again and finally saw the women for what they really were. Monsters, with fangs bared, swimming amid gauzey, dusty nightclothes. Someone was screaming and Quentin thought it might have been him, but he couldn’t be sure. His head swam with the bloodloss and his sudden, hard drop to the stones below. The now hissing women whirled in mid-air about to bare down on him. Had it not been for the sudden entrance of the equally harried Kayla Drex, they would have surely swept him up again. She turned a confused eye to the floating women and back to him.:: Drex: WHAT THE F- Collins: I DON’T KNOW! ::He quickly snatched one of the braziers off the wall and started to wield it drunkenly at the still advancing women.:: Collins: I t-think I’ve had enough fun for one night, haven’t you? Drex: ::holding the carving knife out toward the three “women”:: Absolutely. Let’s get the heck out of here. ::They backed out of the room. It didn’t appear as though the women had followed - at least not as far as Kayla could see. There was no one chasing them through the halls of Castle Dracula, but each and every door they passed (and there were many in the ancient house) blew open as if some unseen pursuer was in an adjoining hall, and repeatedly wrenched door after door open, hoping to be just one step ahead.:: ::Kayla and Quentin at last, in a flop sweat and both panting hard, gained the open air of the main foyer. This place, with its grand sweeping staircase had seemed so grand and rich. Now it felt cold, abandoned, dangerous - a trap now seen. Carefully but swift as hares, the duo raced down the stairs. Kayla felt certain more than once she was going to tread on her damnable period-accurate skirts and break her neck falling down the hewn stone staircase. Thankfully, she and Quentin reached the floor level, and flew to the foreboding oak doors.:: Drex: ::panting:: Help me open the door. It’s too heavy for just one of us to open. ::Collins positioned himself in a way that allowed Kayla to grab hold of the wrought iron handle while he pulled against the frame. He gave a quick three-count, and they pulled. For an instant that felt like a lifetime, the door did not budge. Kayla’s heart sank, but then soared when the oaken barrier yielded to their efforts. They widened the opening just large enough for them to slip through, and ran with all their might.:: ::She never could say afterwards what compelled her to look back as they ran, but what she saw would haunt her dreams for some time to come. The Count, robed in a black travelling cloak came after them. In her haste, she couldn’t be certain, but at the moment she would have sworn he was … FLYING. His bat-like shape moved smoothly and swiftly toward them, narrowing the distance between him and the two humans.:: ::Kayla’s foot was suddenly soaked, and she felt her ankle roll as the ridiculously impractical shoes she wore slipped on the river rock. She cried out in pain, but the primary thought in her mind was that her foot was wet.:: Drex: Quen! We’re in a stream! Collins: ::pulling up short:: What? Yeah, I guess so. Let’s go! Drex: I can’t run, Quen, my ankle. We have to get to the other side of the stream. Collins: Why the stream? ::Then the penny dropped. In his terror, he had forgotten everything he’d known about vampire lore. They had to stop and count small items thrown in their path. They had no reflections. THEY COULDN’T CROSS RUNNING WATER!:: Collins: Kay, you’re a genius! Drex: Stow that, sailor; help me get across! ::He jerked back to his senses and draped one of Kayla’s arms over his shoulders. He helped (half-carried) her to the far side of the stream, where they collapsed, feeling safe for the first time in what felt like years. On the far side of the water, they saw the shape of Dracula darting upstream and down, looking for a way to cross … but he was trapped. They truly were safe - at least for a while.:: Collins: You bloody genius, Kay. Drex: … Oh for crying out LOUD! Collins: ::confused:: What? What’d I say? Drex: I’m no genius! I’m a freaking MORON! Collins: What are you talking about? Drex: I just remembered something else. ::Collins just looked at her, waiting for the revelation.:: Drex: Computer, end program. ::The countryside vanished, to be replaced by the yellow grid on sterile black.:: Drex: We were in the holodeck the whole time. ::blushing:: Maybe I overdid it a bit with the binaural waves. I was completely sure it was all real. Collins: … me too Drex: I won’t tell anybody if you don’t? Collins: Deal. Drex: Happy birthday, Quen. Now can you help me get to sickbay? I think I sprained my ankle in these ridiculous boots. END ((OOC - Thanks for reading! We really hope you enjoyed it. Happy Halloween, everyone!)) Lt Kayla Drex CSO, USS Eagle E239510KD0 ~ and ~ LT jg. QUENTIN COLLINS III SCIENCE OFFICER U.S.S. EAGLE NCC-74659 E239512QC0
  24. ((Some ooc backstory, the Columbia is being decommissioned. I have included @Jona ch'Ranni's ooc note regarding that. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, tragic, personal story with the crew. I think the whole fleet deserves a chance to see it.))I ((OOC Note: This series of sims was something I was holding on to for our next shore leave. I'm altering it a bit setting-wise to have played out during our last shore leave because I wanted to share it with you all before Columbia is decommissioned. Hope you enjoy.)) ((Observation Deck, Freighter Bion J. Arnold)) ch'Ranni: Look there's Talar! That means the bluish one over there is Gamma Trianguli and the orange one is Kappa Persei. ::Jona pointed to each star point in succession as Vexa looked on. She was not as enthusiastic as the former helmsman but she tried desperately to feign interest in what was unmistakably an obsession with her counterpart.:: zh'Lev: Wonderful. And how much longer will it be? ch'Ranni: We should dock at Starbase 47 within two hours. After that we will board the USS Abilene who is traveling at high warp to Pollux. And from there three more days to Andoria aboard the IKS Chang'Kza. zh'Lev: Ok. I think I can manage that. ch'Ranni: ::peeling his eyes from the starscape:: What's wrong, Vexa? zh'Lev: Nothing. ::beat:: I'm bored. ch'Ranni: Well, just wait til you see the Betreka Nebula! ((Timeskip: Nine days later)) ((Transporter Room, IKS Chang'Kza)) ::The two Andorians stood atop the transporter pads awaiting their final departure approval. The Klingon male at the console leered at them as if he'd drunk some bad prune juice. A high-pitched beep signaled on his board and the operator barked at the passengers.:: Veng'tuk: Your departure has been approved! I will transport you to the surface now! :: He tapped a key combination on his controls but nothing happened. The Klingon quickly lost his temper and slammed his hand on the side of the station.:: ch'Ranni: Did you remember to engage the primary energizing coil? Veng'tuk: Do not tell me how to do my job! zh'Lev: Hey! Don't yell at him! :: A low growl began in Veng'tuk's throat as his voice grew quieter.:: Veng'tuk: Control your woman, pet'Q. ch'Ranni: Vexa, step back on the pad. zh'Lev: But he ... ch'Ranni: It's alright. Step back on the pad, please. ::The two Andorians returned to their positions as the Klingon operated the console once again. Jona was quite satisfied to see the Klingon engage the primary energizing coil and then felt the slight pull as they dematerialized in a swirl of reddish-gold.:: ((Spaceport, New Sheras, Andoria)) ::The two Andorians rematerialized in the bustling Arrival Sector of the New Sheras Spaceport. People milled about them on their way to their own individual destinations.:: ch'Ranni: Come on. This way. ::Jona grabbed Vexa's hand and lead her to the left. They advanced to a large waiting lobby. Above the expansive room, a glass ceiling kept the frigid temperatures and snowy wind at bay, yet still seemed to let the starkness of Andoria's surface shine through.:: ::Weaving their way through the crowded terminal, Jona spotted his destination. A tea cart that always seemed to be set up in the same spot every time he visited stood in an offset corner of the building. Jona ordered each of them some srjula tea and gratefully accepted the steaming cups of bright yellow liquid from a wizened Andorian woman.:: zh'Lev: How long must we wait? ch'Ranni: Not long I think. ::Jona proved correct as he heard his name shouted by someone from far behind them. He turned and broke into a wide grin as he spotted his shreva waving wildly from across the spacious room.:: ch'Ranni: There she is. ((TBC)) -- Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Assistant Chief of Operations USS Columbia (NCC-85279) C239510JC0 ((Spaceport, New Sheras, Andoria)) zh'Lev: How long must we wait? ch'Ranni: Not long I think. ::Jona proved correct as he heard his name shouted by someone from far behind them. He turned and broke into a wide grin as he spotted his shreva waving wildly from across the spacious room.:: ch'Ranni: There she is. :: The middle-aged Andorian woman jogged toward them and threw her arms around Jona's neck, hugging him close. Vexa stayed a few steps back letting mother and son have a private moment in the crowded terminal.:: Nota: I've missed you, Jona. ch'Ranni: ::tears welling up in his eyes:: Me too. ::The older woman took a step back and touched her forehead to Jona's until her eye caught sight of the petite girl standing a few feet away.:: Nota: Who's this? ch'Ranni: My shreva, this is Vexa zh'Lev. Vexa, please meet Nota sh'Ranni. Vexa is a scientist assigned to a research base in the region that my ship is assigned to explore. ::beat:: She's my girlfriend. ::Nota raised her eyebrows for a second and then her face softened. She held her arms out to Vexa and embraced her lightly.:: Nota: Welcome. We're so glad you could come. Please, let's gather your things. Mir is preparing a meal back at the house. We shouldn't keep her waiting. ((Ranni Clan, New Sheras, Andoria)) ((Time Index: An hour later)) ::The winding tunnels leading to Jona's boyhood home were as familiar as they were worn. These particular passages were hundreds of years old. Where they occasionally broke through the ice and rock to the surface, forcefields kept the inclement weather away. Jumping thalaas frogs licked up ice mites along the walls of the spacious corridor, unconcerned as people came and went.:: Nota: So tell me about your work, Vexa. Jona said you are a scientist? zh'Lev: Oh my, yes. My specialty is in energy fields. At Dehner Base we are studying the long and short-term effects of the Galactic Barrier on living tissue. We have some very promising results we have discovered recently. What with the Barrier contracting over the last few years, we may have a whole new region that could potentially be opened for habitation. Nota: That's very interesting. Sh'letha sren granta lullsla. ((Andorian Graalen for "You are quite talented.")) zh'Lev: Thank you, Nota. And Jona tells me you are a linguist in the Andorian Guard? Nota: Yes. Aboard the Marvassi. Vorka, Jona's charan, also serves aboard as the helmsman. That's probably where Jona got his love of piloting. ch'Ranni: And you are the one I got my love of languages from. vImuSHa' SoS ((Klingon for "Love you, mom")) :: As they continued conversing, Jona noted the recent construction that had taken place around the clan settlement. Impressively reinforced structures stretched upward a hundred meters to the ice cave ceiling above. Small patches of vegetation with artificial overhead lighting provided micro park-like areas that broke up the more austere surroundings.:: ch'Ranni: When did all of this happen? Nota: Oh, there have been lots of changes in the past two years. We received a grant to protect the clan holdings from icequakes and the resources have gone a long way to modernizing the Ranni clan. ch'Ranni: That's great! ::pause:: How does Spel feel about it? ::The mention of ch'Ranni's thaven, one of Nota's co-husbands, made Nota's face darken ever so slightly and the smile on her face faded away slowly.:: Nota: You know your father. He's set in his ways. ::Jona shook his head at his father's stubborness. He was a history professor but he himself was stuck in the past, just like the clay artifacts he proudly displayed in his office.:: ch'Ranni: Yes, that's Spel. I assume he's at the Military College. Nota: You know he is. He'll be home late tonight. ch'Ranni: oO He couldn't come home early to see us. Figures. Oo ::The trio turned left down the worn path and Jona's boyhood home came into view. Jona took a breath and let it out slowly. He turned to Vexa and grabbed her hand.:: ch'Ranni: Home. ((TBC)) -- Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Assistant Chief of Operations USS Columbia (NCC-85279) C239510JC0 ((Ranni Clan, New Sheras, Andoria)) ((Three days after arriving on Andoria)) ::Jona padded barefoot into the kitchen, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He stretched his lanky frame to work out the kinks of sleeping on an unfamiliar bed and smiled at Vexa who was sitting at the table with a steaming cup of srjula tea. He poured himself a cup and sat next to her.:: ch'Ranni: Morning. Been up long? zh'Lev: About an hour. ::smiling impishly:: Mir had some wonderfully embarrassing stories to tell about you. ch'Ranni: ::in mock horror:: Surely not! zh'Lev: Your first day of school. ch'Ranni: She loves telling that one. Gods, that was the worst day. zh'Lev: And the time you fell from the ice sculpture in the clan square? How did you manage to end up naked? ch'Ranni: That was not my fault. It was ... unavoidable. zh'Lev: ::patting his cheek:: I'm sure it was, Jona. Now, what's on the schedule for today? ch'Ranni: Lunch with Nota and Vorka. And then I thought I might show you one of my favorite museums in the city. zh'Lev: Sounds nice. I can't wait. ((Timeskip: Two hours later)) Vorka: So there we were, facing the business end of a Nausicaan warship. I banked the ship hard to port and cut behind a slew of asteroids. We used a modified tractor beam to scoop up one of the large ones. ::The aging Andorian used his fork, in-between bites of food, to illustrate the path of the ship:: Then we slung it around in a wide arc, accelerating it as it went. Smashed those pirates right in the engineering deck. COM-pletely destroyed their ability to manuever. Let me tell you something, Little Miss, they were a lot nicer when Nota re-established the comm-link with them. zh'Lev: ::patiently:: I can imagine. Vorka: And then there was the time we had a Tholian cruiser try to tear through our supply convoy... ch'Ranni: Dad? Dad ... hold on a minute. I think Vexa has heard enough of your stories for right now. There will be time later to talk more. Vorka: Hmmph. zh'Lev: ::grinning:: Vorka, tonight I promise. I want to hear about those Tholians. Vorka: Fine, fine. ::He stopped to look at his son before taking another bite from his plate.:: So, Jona, still in Starfleet? ch'Ranni: Yes. A full lieutenant now. I'm serving as the Assistant Chief of Operations aboard the USS Columbia. Vorka: Lieutenant? Took me three years to make that rank. And Operations you say? Well, its close to piloting at least. ch'Ranni: I served as the Helmsman for nearly a year before taking on this assignment. ::beat:: Starfleet's been good to me. I've learned a lot. Vorka: ::grunting:: Well, you were always one to make your own choices. ::turning to Vexa:: Wouldn't listen to a word we said. ch'Ranni: I'm happy with my choices. ::looking sideways to Vexa:: All of them. Vorka: Well, I suppose ... if you hadn't run off to Starfleet you wouldn't have brought this pretty young thing home for a visit. Here, have some more tuber root. zh'Lev: Thank you. Your family has been so hospitable these last few days. I can't believe we have to head back to the Sagittarius Reach tomorrow. It feels like we just got here. ::Jona smiled sadly and looked at his two parents sitting across the table from them.:: ch'Ranni: Listen you two. I know that you may not have always agreed with my pursuing a Starfleet career. But please remember, I'll always love you and nothing will change that. Maybe some day you'll understand my reasons. Nota: ::nudging Vorka in the ribs:: Go on, tell him! ::Vorka gave his wife a dirty look and then stood up from the old belayla wood table. He stepped over to a cabinet and fiddled with the metal latch until it popped open. He retrieved a single PADD and handed it to his waiting son.:: Vorka: Here. You should read it on your trip back to the Columbia. ch'Ranni: What is it? Vorka: The ramblings of an old man. Communiques that I recorded over the last four years but didn't send to you. I was too caught up in what Spel and Mir wanted for you. I couldn't defy them. But now ... I don't care. ::Jona moved his thumb to the activation switch.:: Vorka: I said read it on your way home! Not before. ::Jona's eyes met his father's gaze and for the barest second he could see the pain and regret that filled the man's soul. The younger man gave a short nod of mutual understanding and set the electronic device on the table top.:: Vorka: Well, then. ::beat:: Where are you two off to this cold afternoon? ((TBC)) -- Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Assistant Chief of Operations USS Columbia (NCC-85279) C239510JC0 ((Guest Quarters 5-B7, Freighter Bion J. Arnold)) ((Time Index: Two days into return trip to Dehner Base)) ::Jona sat on the edge of the cot with his thumb hovering over the power button on the PADD. For some reason he felt nervous activating the device. He knew that Vorka wanted him to view its contents but he didn't understand why his father wanted him to wait until they left Andoria.:: ::His finger fell the last few centimeters and the bright screen activated. An image of his white-haired father's face shone on the screen. He looked upset.:: Vorka: Stardate 239111.04. Jona, you've been gone a month now to the Academy and I think it's time I set a few things straight. I don't oppose you joining Starfleet. I think you will make a difference out there among the stars. You are destined for great things. ch'Ranni: oO Then why did you ghost me with all the rest? Oo ::The recording continued despite Jona's musings.:: Vorka: Of course, I would have preferred for you to join me and Nota in the Andorian guard. The things I could have taught you with you by my side at the helm of the Marvassi ... ::shaking his head:: Well, anyway, I know this is what you wanted and I'm proud of you. ::The screen went black and Jona could see his teary-eyed face in the reflection of the transparent aluminum screen. He cycled back to the index and tapped on the next entry.:: Vorka: Stardate 239112.08. Jona, I hope things are going well for you in your studies. I've been opening up to Nota and I think she feels similar to how I do. We both care about you very much. I wish I had been able to say these things in person. Stay safe out there. ::The young Andorian tapped through the list of message. Stardate 239201.02, 239201.30, 239202.15. The list went on and on. Vorka had crafted messages every few weeks to his son and saved them all here. He swiped up on the PADDs screen and activated the final message in the list which was just less than a year old.:: Vorka: Stardate 239510.17. Jona, my boy. Today you have graduated from Starfleet Academy. You have no idea how it broke my heart to not attend your graduation ceremony. You are truly gifted and I'm sure you'll be assigned to the flagship. Steer her right, Jona. You always did have a steady hand. ::beat:: Spel and Mir both continue to refuse my pleadings for them to reconcile with you. Although, Mir is slowly coming around. I know they both miss you terribly. Perhaps one day. ch'Ranni: ::nodding:: oO One day. Oo Vorka: Jona, there's something else. ::pause:: I've been diagnosed with advanced S'sraanian Syndrome. The doctors say they can't do anything. I've lived a long, full life. I'm happy with my choices. ::beat:: All except one. I should have never rejected you, my boy. You deserved better. ch'Ranni: oO Dad? Oo Vorka: The doctors say I have a year at best. I hope to see you again before then, son. Safe travels. ((Timeskip: An hour later)) ::Jona sat despondent on the cold, metal floor. He had tried to hail his father unsuccessfully and he knew the truth. Vorka was gone. Vexa had returned to their shared room and sat slowly patting his mop of unruly hair in between the sobs that wracked his athletic body.:: zh'Lev: He was a good man, Jona. You do your best to turn out like him. ((END)) -- Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Assistant Chief of Operations USS Columbia (NCC-85279) C239510JC0
  25. ((Student Dorms, Starfleet Academy Campus - Starbase 118.)) It was early morning. Very early morning and Mareta really didn't want to get up. She had no classes today, and in theory her schedule was devoid of absolutely any activities – both social and study – save one. One that she couldn't have dreamed of in her studies last year. She lay there for a few moments, and then her alarm went off. A long sigh escaped as she hit the snooze button. It was on old 20th Century-style alarm clock that had been a gift from her cousin Arturo. A bit of an in-joke between the two of them when she had been getting ready to start her first year of study. Mareta was easily the least morning-orientated person in the galaxy and she sighed again as she rolled over and away from the alarm clock. Liva was still asleep, and Mareta snuggled in behind her as she tried to make the most of the ten minutes snooze time she'd given herself. Liva was her dorm-mate, best friend and “secret” partner. The two girls found the student are-they-aren't-they gossip quite amusing, and they ignored it as the free drinks and attention from some of the boys on campus was rather flattering. They had almost everything in common, even down to having relatives on the station. For Mareta, it was Arturo, and for Liva, it was Beatrice, her human half-sister. What felt like barely a heartbeat later, that infernal alarm clock was making its teeth-grinding Bzzt Bzzt Bzzt noise again and Mareta reluctantly rolled over to switch it off. This time, Liva woke up as well, and she sat up. Shuffling backwards, Liva leaned against the headboard and rubbed at her eyes. Liva: What time is it, Bee? Liva's voice carried a strong accent of her home in Kendra Province on Bajor, and Mareta's own voice gave statement to her own birthplace in Italy. It made for a strange yet gentle contrast of tones when they spoke together, although it didn't help whenever the two girls tried to practice the others native language. As a result, there had been many laughter and wine-filled nights in their room as the pair each butchered the pronunciations of a new language. Mareta: Seven thirty. A massive, cheerful smile spread across Mareta's face as she clambered out of bed and disappeared into the small refresher. Liva picked up her PADD from her bedside table and began to scroll aimlessly through the student news pages as she heard the shower start up. You never knew when you'd stumble across an unadvertised – but very useful – seminar by one of the Academy Professors, or even one of the stations senior officers. When she heard the shower cut out, and the sound of damp feet moving about, she put down the PADD and flopped forwards on the bed, chin resting on her hands, feet up and crossed. Liva: So what's got you so smiley this morning? Clad in a wrapped towel, Mareta reappeared, scrubbing away at her teeth and Liva waggled her feet slightly. Mareta: Nrp evry d'capn! Liva: What? Mareta: Mrtern d'capn tdy! Liva began to laugh, and waved Mareta back towards the refresher. A few minutes later she reappeared and sat down beside Liva, who sat up and crossed her legs. Mareta bumped her playfully with her shoulder, her broad smile appearing once more along with an excited sparkle to her eyes. Mareta: It's not every day you get to meet the Captain! Liva: Really!? Your placement was granted? ::She shuffled a touch closer and put her arms around Mareta.:: That's wonderful! Mareta: It's only one full duty shift every other week. Liva: But still, it's a full shift with the captain! Think about all the things you'll get to learn directly from an officer who's really done it all! Mareta smiled, giving Liva a hug in return before standing and heading for the far wall. She replicated a fresh uniform and pulled it on before moving to her bedside table and picking up the four elongated pips that marked her out as a final year Cadet. Liva hopped up and took her hand, before putting the pips on for her. A long hug later, and Mareta was off out of the door and on her way up to deck seven of the command tower, and specifically the office of Fleet Captain Sal Taybrim. As the door closed, Liva sat down on the bed again. What was she going to do with herself today? Her PADD pinged at an incoming message and she reached over for it. Thumbing it to life she raised a curious eyebrow at the screen. Message Received. Text Only. Sender; USS Narendra. Lt-Commander Gogigobo Fairhug. ~*~ Cadet 1st Class Mareta Bianchi. & Cadet 1st Class Liva Jardel. Starfleet Command School. Starbase 118 Academy Campus. Simmed by; Lt-Commander Arturo Maxwell. Chief Tactical Officer. Starbase 118 Operations. O239311AM0.
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