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  1. There was one of these for the Victory and I seen other ships with a simular topic, so here is a new one for a new ship, who wants to be the first to put up a funny Quote from one of the crew??
  2. @Alleran Tan, loving these snippets into the life of the previous Tan symbiont host and partner in crime / cruise liners / civilian travel / escapades. Looking forward to reading more! -- (( Passenger Compartment, YanCo Liner 33 )) Safine always hated civilian space travel. Compared to the expansive Starfleet vessels, civilian travel was cramped and crowded, and there was no control — the ship loaded, plodded along the designated route, arrived, unloaded, returned. Then again that was what Starfleet vessels did too, just with more shooting. And fewer screaming babies. The crying made sleeping difficult. Still, the open space for disability access at the rear of the ship left her pretty far away from all of that. She felt sorry for Vaala, crammed in at the tiny chair at the back like a Klingon sardine, but her Klingon friend seemed happy enough to read, hunched over a PADD, scrolling through some trashy novel or something. Rael, by contrast, had the whole disability section for herself. She could have stretched out if she could move her legs. She had tried, for some time, to sleep, but it just wouldn't come. Nerves at heading to the Tyrellian Sector, to the Gorkon. Nerves in general. Hunger gnawed at her. Time to get something from the galley. Safine pushed herself up out of her seat and to her feet, stretching out her arms, and — No. She stood there dumbfounded, staring about the passenger compartment. Standing on two legs. Standing. It was wrong. This wasn't right. She couldn't stand, it was— Vaala: Hey, wake up. Rael's eyes flew open. She jerked awake, blinking as the passenger compartment's lighting flooded in. She was still in her chair. Of course she was. She must have dozed off. Confusion, drowsiness, elation, disappointment. All evaporated and turned to mild frustration. Rael: I was sleeping. Finally. What? Vaala's voice became a strangled whimper. Vaala: I... I think that's Mikali sh'Shar over there. At the f-front of the ship. Mikali sh'Shar? The Andorian Menace? The Blue Terror? Banshee? Here? Safine craned her neck, trying to see. All she could spot were a pair of blue antenna poking out above a seat. Definitely an Andorian. Maybe a shen. Maybe not. It honestly could have been anyone. With her symbiont removed, exactly what sh'Shar looked like was something of an enigma. They had never met. Rael rubbed her sleep-encrusted eyes. Everything was still kinda blurry. Rael: Mgg. I thought she was dead. Vaala: Dead? ::her eyes widened:: Wait, really? What happened? Rael: Nothing. I just kind of... assumed, given her poor decision-making abilities that she'd be dead by now. You're sure it's her? Vaala: Mmm hmm. Yeppers. I got up to get a cookie from the replicator. I... I looked her right in the face. She didn't recognise me but I'm pretty sure it's her. Vaala whimpered again, holding her little PADD up as though it might hide her face. Goddammit. Rael: Okay. I'll go see if it's here. Stay tight. If the ship blows up, you know who to blame. It was said in jest, but Vaala's scared mouse-like face became a mask of sincere worry. Rael just patted her on the arm, then carefully manoeuvred her chair out into the narrow walkway. It was too small for her to turn around in, so she went down backward, rolling her wheels and looking over her shoulder. She made her way down past rows of sleeping, snoring passengers, down to the front of the ship. Closer she got to those twin antenna. Closer. Slowly she realised. The snoring wasn't coming from everyone else. It was coming from the Andorian. Nobody else was snoring. Everyone else was trying to sleep despite the noise. Like a malfunctioning engine in the otherwise quiet passenger compartment. A bad feeling settled in her gut. A loud, obnoxious, lazy, snoring Andorian... could it really be...? Rael wheeled up to her row, backward, and saw her face. Mikali sh'Shar. In the bluey flesh. Slumped to one side in her chair, snoring like an idling chainsaw and drooling messily on the arm of the passenger to her right. The passenger, obviously exhausted, met Rael's eyes. He wiped off some of Mikali's saliva. Passenger: She's been like this for hours. Hours. Every time I move her... He demonstrated, pushing sh'Shar upright. She slumped over immediately, resuming her previous position, sleepily wrapping her arms around him. Typical. Rael: Hey, Mikali. Wake up. You're making a scene. No response. Rael reached over and poked her. Rael: Hey Mikali. Hey. Hey! Poke. Poke. Poke! sh'Shar jerked awake, her antenna spasming wildly. She looked around in a panic, as though having lost her luggage. sh'Shar: Benna!? Rael blinked. The name Benna was vaguely familiar to her, but she couldn't place it. As though it were some musical piece she could not quite identify. Familiar. More missing memories. Parts of her experience that had been yanked out of her, now living inside another. Rael: Hi. It's... been a while. Seeming to recover some measure of her composure, sh'Shar wiped her mouth with the back of her hand and then narrowed her blue eyes at her. sh'Shar: Who the hell are you, Trill? I don't know you. I was bloody asleep. Rael: So was I. Safine smiled awkwardly. Rael: It's me. Safine. Mikali squinted at her in frustration. Confusion. sh'Shar: Wha? ::she glowered:: Whattd'ya want? Rael rested her hands on her wheels. Rael: I just noticed you back there. You were snoring, and... I thought I'd come to say hello. sh'Shar: Wait, you interrupted a stranger's nap to say hello? Stupid Trill. ::she made a shooing motion:: Go away. Slowly it dawned. Mikali didn't recognise her. Rael: Mikali, it's me. Safine Rael? ::she brushed back a strand of her hair:: I'm sorry. I really—I just wanted to see you again with my own eyes, Mikali. I wasn't expecting you here. sh'Shar's antenna jerked bolt upright. She sat up in her chair, her hand going to her far hip. There was something there Safine couldn't see, but the action triggered her security training. sh'Shar: How the hell do you know my name? Are you following me? Rael: Following you? No. No! I had no idea you were here until I saw you just now. ::she took a deep breath:: I used to be Safine Tan. sh'Shar's whole face scrunched up. Her fingers danced down by her hip, out of sight, a gesture that made Safine's Security-Sense tingle again. Some habits died hard. sh'Shar: Wait. No, no, that can't be right. The other one... she was old. Super old. And super dead. Safine scowled. Rael: God, you're dumber than a bag of hammers. I'm not Marlee Tan, I'm Safine. I was the one after Alleran. We met five years ago. When Alleran was... after the symbiont was implanted into me. sh'Shar just stared blankly. Rael: You were there! You were at my joining! ::she waved her hands around angrily:: You bet me two strips of latinum that I would "die" on a Starfleet vessel, then you demanded Serren pay up after I was hurt! We have met multiple times, Mikali! Finally, finally, Mikali's eyes widened like moons. sh'Shar: Alleran? Wait... wait, is that you, spots? Rael grimaced, closing her eyes a moment and looking away. Rael: Yeah, um. Not... exactly. Mikali sh'Shar squirmed around in her seat, glaring at the insolent Trill that had woken her up from her nap claiming to be the very person she was taking a journey across all these sectors of empty boring space to see. And then claiming not to be. sh'Shar: What the hell are you saying? "Not exactly"? Safine Rael nibbled on her lower lip, avoiding eye contact. Mikali always hated people that didn't have the guts to look at her. Rael: The symbiont... it was taken from me after I was shot. ::angrily:: Again, you were there for this, Mikali. Mikali had a fantastic memory. For people who owed her latinum. And it was crappy for people to whom she owed latinum. Fuzzy, sometimes, on the details about if the payment had been made. Being raised on a Ferengi ship totally didn't show at all. sh'Shar: Look, I've been really... sick for the last few years. My noggin' sometimes forgets people, okay? Rather than be annoyed, the Trill — whose face, you know, she was starting to actually recognise — seemed somewhat understanding of this, shifting in her weird wheeled chair. Rael: Yeah. I, uhh, get that a lot. Mikali released the handle of the knife by her hip and carefully eased up her hands, folding them in front of her. sh'Shar: So. You haven't got Alleran's weird slug in you anymore? Rael rolled her eyes. Rael: It's not his slug, it was, and not weird, and... No. sh'Shar wrinkled her nose. sh'Shar: Aren't you meant to be dead then? I'm pretty sure the stupid doctor explained to me in his stupid way that when the symbionts get removed... ::she made a throat-slitting gesture:: Gluck! Uggk! Blarg! Bylat. Slug out, dead. Rael half-lidded her eyes. Rael: Yes. That is mostly accurate. ::she was getting mighty sick of telling this story:: I had a chemical blocker that reduced the join. It meant I didn't imprint properly on the symbiont, and all its memories vanished when it did. Between the getting shot, and the getting half my brain ripped out, I barely survived. Hence the wheelchair. Mikali stared at the metal contraption. If she ever had to live in one of those things, she would definitely put a phaser to her head. sh'Shar: Didn't you always have that thing? For a moment, Rael seemed confused, even a little annoyed, then the emotion became...something else. Rael: ::softly:: You really don't remember me, do you? sh'Shar straightened her back, inhaling indignantly. sh'Shar: Hey, I do. It's just coming back to me slowly. Rael rubbed her hands along the wheels. Rael: Okay, if you say so. ::she coughed:: So, anyway. What are you doing here, Mikali? You're a long way away from DS-17. sh'Shar brushed down her clothes. Some [...] had drooled on her. She shot an angry look at the passenger beside her. sh'Shar: Gross. That's just gross. Passenger: Hey, it wasn't me, it was— sh'Shar loudly, and rudely, yawned over him. Passenger: You're the drooler, you— Yawn. Yawn. YAWN. The passenger grunted and looked away. Rael reached out and touched her knee. Rael: Mikali. You're deflecting. Maybe she was, and maybe she wasn't. sh'Shar: I... have to talk to the new Tan. The silly Trill's face became a creased frown. Rael: Serren? What could you possibly want from him? He's an Ensign in Security. Just like... just like I was. sh'Shar chortled. sh'Shar: Oh, rough. ::she leaned in a bit:: You tell me first. Why're you going to this ship? To that, the spotty wheelchaired Trill seemed to have no answer. Mikali crowed victoriously. sh'Shar: ::mockingly:: Going to the goldneck's reunion? Assuming they'll even let you onboard... Rael: Hey! ::she scowled darkly:: I'll have you know, I served with distinction, and I'm proud of my time on the Gorkon. I'm... sure at least Quinn remembers me. sh'Shar: Who? Rael: The Captain, you idiot! Idiot, huh? sh'Shar's eyes flicked to the gold pip on the Trill's civilian collar, denoting an Ensign. sh'Shar: Yeah, well, I don't really care who the Captain is. And neither should you. I mean, just look... you couldn't even get busted to LT before you ended up face down on the deck plating. ::she sneered:: That's so pathetic. Just a broken goldneck living out their "glory days". How many days were you there? Like, a week? Rael's face hardened, becoming a stony mask. Rael: You know, I sometimes struggle to remember things, but I remember something from Alleran... he knew you were the queen of deflection, and that most of the time your abrasiveness came from pain... but sometimes, it was just you being a colossal bi- A chime came over the ship's public address system. Computer: All passengers are advised that we have crossed into the Tyrellian system. Be sure to check out the nearby Bratax system, the home of the incredible Dinosauria, coming soon! We are now commencing our exit from warp flight in preparation for passenger disembarkation. All passengers are required to take their seats once more in preparation for landing. This is YanCo Liner 33. YanCo — for all your conglomerate needs. sh'Shar grinned cheekily. sh'Shar: Saved by the bell, spots. Rael made an angry face. sh'Shar did the same thing. Rael: You haven't changed a bit. You're the worst. sh'Shar tried to make a snappy comeback, but all that came out was a dismissive scoff. sh'Shar: No, you're the worst you, you... you Trill. Rael made another face and began wheeling herself back toward her seat. Mikali angrily called out after her. sh'Shar: You suck, Rael! Her eyes flicked to the other familiar face cowering at the back of the shuttle. Ensign Vaala, the unmistakable Klingon. Mikali's face split into a wide grin as Vaala hid her head below the headrest of the seat in front of her. Wasn't every day one was able to intimidate a Klingon. Even though Vaala barely counted as one. Mikali's victorious feeling was short-lived, though, as she resumed her seat, absently wiping more of the drool off her arm. She missed the dream about Benna. Bee-nut... At least the annoying exchange with the ex-Tan had revealed the one thing critical to her plan. Serren Tan was indeed aboard the Gorkon. Everything was going to be okay. -- Lieutenant (j.g.) (ret) Mikali sh'Shar Civilian simmed by Ensign Serren Tan Security/Tactical USS Gorkon O238704AT0
  3. Shared for you all without context, due only @Geoffrey Teller could make this hilarious. THANKS
  4. I figured instead of having a monthly thread, we could just keep a running thread of funny instances in our sims.
  5. ((OOC: This was a lovely and wonderful gesture, delivered just when I needed a bit of good cheer. @Alieth continues to set the bar higher and higher, and the fleet is luck to have her as a member. )) [[Executive Officer's Office, Deck 1, USS Thor]] With malice aforethought, Alieth made her way from the Great Hall through the bowels of the ship to the upper deck, concealing her secret cargo. The few crewmen who had not been able to abandon their duties to attend the party in the lounge gave her astounded glances, not due to the fact that her presence near the bridge was somewhat unusual, but rather because of the quality of surreptitiousness that the minute Vulcan conveyed, even while preserving a perfectly neutral expression. The code she had exchanged with a security crew member gave her access to the first officer's office and, with utmost care, Alieth secured the door behind her so that no one would discover her business there. Once surpassed part of the ever-present mess on the office and the pile of pads that seemed to be multiplying besides on Teller's desk, the Vulcan opened a small space in the middle of the chaos, putting aside a couple of empty coffee mugs and what looked like a half-drunk cup of Vulcan tea. And there, with great care so that it would be the first thing seen as the door swung open, she placed the box. The box was small, barely 6 inchs of black lacquered wood, which seemed to absorb the dim light from the office like a black hole might. On its top cover, a complex design of spirals and circles that she had drawn with delicacy and golden ink stood out on the dark surface, like a solar flare in the solitude of space. Securing the lid was a complex lock. A game of logic that would keep the former engineer's mechanical interest busy for many hours, if Sern did not provide him the trick to open it. Inside, three perfect and delicious golden gummy bears. Gummy bears that Teller would probably never get out of their captivity except with the force of a hammer. The sugary delicacies had been wrapped in a small silk piece, with the same pattern as the lid, a phrase that the ensign Katsim had helped her to embroider on the fragile fabric, raising so many questions and getting so few answers. Rom ar'kadan titaya . The phrase circled twice around the initials of the newly promoted Commander. Pleased with the display, Alieth allowed herself a minute smile, just before she sneaked out of the office with the same malice aforethought with which she had entered. [TBC] OOC: Rom ar'kadan titaya → aprox. Good job guarantee ================================= Lt. JG Alieth Medical Officer USS Thor NCC-82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding Author ID number: E239702A10 =================================
  6. Please post any funny lines or memorable quotations from sims from our crew!
  7. ((Level 34 Medical Isolation Ward, Deep Space 9 )) Geoff waited for the doors to seal behind them before crossing his arms over his chest. The room looked like fairly standard guest quarters with a few extra machines bolted to the walls and corners, but aside from that and the crackle of an isolation field over the window, there was little to distract them. The ideal setting for Alieth’s promised ‘discussion.’ Something was buzzing within Teller’s skull and, the more time went on, the more it was going from a distraction to a fullscale assault on his conscious mind. Teller: Doc...what the hell is going on with me? Alieth: It is not easy to explain, but I suppose that you would agree with me that a sudden enthusiasm for zhar-kur tei and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Surak's teachings is not something you can acquire in an ordinary temporary anomaly Teller: So it’s probably a bad time to mention that I nearly flunked basic Vulcan philosophy at the Academy? Alieth: The fact that you were right only makes it worse Geoff shrugged expansively, still completely at a loss. Teller: So are you going to tell me what’s going on or do I need to guess? transporter duplicate? Changeling? Are you a hologram? ::Geoff poked her shoulder, then himself in mock panic:: AM I A HOLOGRAM?! She uncrossed her arms and averted her eyes. For a split second, she nibbled on her lower lip, till it took on a deep green hue. Alieth: Lieute-.... ::She did not finish the word, but closed her eyes and lowered her head a bit. The moment she looked into his eyes again there was an elusive expression on her countenance. And yet, an expression.:: ... Geoffrey John... I could explain this. Or I can just show you. I think that the latter will be more convenient. She made another short pause, and when she spoke again, she stressed her words. Alieth: It will be the most beneficial for the three of us Geoff’s total number of questions kept increasing. Teller: Show me? Wait, what do you mean the three…. One look at Alieth’s expression told him this situation was of the gravest importance to her. Geoff trusted her, as an officer and as a friend, and something within him encouraged that trust - a sense of deep agreement. Geoff sat in the chair indicated and waited as Alieth closed her eyes, quietly centering herself, before extending her fingers towards the side of his face. Geoff heard words, first in his ears and then within his mind, before a flood of images began. ((Five years ago, Flat complex 26, first floor, Chi-ree, Xial, Vulcan )) The wind rustled the soft gauze of the curtains. There was a storm looming. However, not a spring storm, that would bring water and life to the thirsty oasis on the outskirts of the city, but a sand and lightning storm, that would threaten to cause havoc in its wake. Exactly like the storm that was brewing within her. At the foot of her bed, Mu-kur emitted a low, anxious, bothered snarl. The female sehlat smelt the tempest, both inside and outside, and neither of them pleased her. The irritable animal rose to her feet and leapt up to the bed, right on top of the elaborate wedding dress that Alieth should be wearing at that moment. The young Vulcan sat down next to the animal and ran a hand over her coarse fur. Under her fingers, instead of the familiar affection and the simple and sincere mind of the animal, she found nothing but irritation. That reaction was understandable and, nevertheless, she was extremely upset for it. She caught a muffled sob struggling to leave her chest. Her soon-to-be husband's condition began to percolate through the bond that had tied them since childhood and her control of emotions was, to say the least, imperfect. Alieth: I do not like it either, Mu-kur, ::she said as she took the massive shaggy cheeks of the animal and placed her immense head in her lap:: But what it is, is, and we can only accept it. Sern: And yet, acceptance is not always the way. Alieth: SERN! He took a step closer to the door frame, folding his arms and leaning against it as he stood in profile. She gave a small, humourless snort, yet the corners of her lips curled into an improper little smile. She didn't care, if anyone really knew her, it was the man resting under the lintel. Sern: You delay. Alieth: And you mention the most obvious things, as usual. Although her words had a harsh quality, her tone was soft. This was a conversation they had shared a thousand times, both familiar and reassuring. But almost immediately, this little joy sublimated in the presence of the impending storm. Alieth: You know it is already too late to cancel the engagement. She stroked the sehlat's heavy head again and buried her fingers in the long fur. Alieth: I just wish I had had more time for... :: shaking her head: It does not matter any more, musing about implausible futures is pointless Sern: You know there is another way. You are not bound yet. Another snort echoed in the small room, even more bitter than the former. Alieth searched for Sern's eyes, but he still had his sight somewhere in one of the jambs. This only made her more frustrated, and the predator on her lap snarled in annoyance, echoing her emotions. Alieth: For that matter, we might as well be. Every alternative available is either overdue or foolish. He turned his head to study her face. Her behavior was… most unusual. Sern: Please - enlighten me as to where, exactly, the logic lies in that decision, Al’rig-pseth. Alieth: What else is left to do? Resort to a ritual that has not been practised for decades? And at what price? Sern: Precisely. The ritual would not exist were it not intended to be used. He stepped further in, pausing to run a hand through the thick fur on the sehlat’s back. Alieth: Asenara… you cannot be serious about that. Sern: I assure you - I would not have extended the offer if I were not. She moved her from the feline's fur to Sern's countenance, looking for...something. A teasing expression, hesitation, doubt... whatever, something that suggested that he would not take the risk that his previous words entailed. What she found was quite different. Alieth: You are aware that what can happen if... Sern: I am - and if this is the way it must be done, then the risk is one I choose to accept. If you wish to continue with Spahn, then I will not stop you. But I know as well as you that this is not the future you planned. I simply seek to provide an alternative - the only alternative available. She sat in silence and listened carefully to his words. His hands remained motionless over Mu-Kur's spine. As he finished his speech, they looked at each other for a brief moment... and before Alieth had a chance to think what she was doing, she found herself hugging tightly to her closest friend. ((Temple. Vulcan Forge, Xial, Vulcan )) The Temple grounds had been there for innumerable generations. Desert sands had ravaged them for endless centuries, until the original building shape had become diffuse, reduced to a succession of arches under high pillars. Behind the veil that covered her face, Alieth deemed them as a crown of fangs. Or, perhaps, the bars of a cage. The small procession that escorted her made a final turn to meet the group that was waiting there. The Matriarch T'Mihn, sat on the platform that dominated the temple, on her right, the relatives and supporters of her future husband gathered in a small circle around him. Alieth turned to seek Sern's gaze, hesitation plain in her face. Then, she moved forward to her right and, with that simple step, the ceremony began. The matriarch recited the words that had been repeated so many times, that comes from the time of the beginning without change, the very heart and soul of Vulcan. The audience rang the bells and Spahn proceeded to walk towards the gong, holding the mallet with trembling, pale hands. The storm raged, thundering on every metal instrument as invisible raindrops. The mallet drew a wide arc and rose to the sky to strike the copper plate… ...and she ran through the open space to block its path and declare with a shaky voice. Alieth: Kal-if-fee Spahn stared at her for a while. At first, there was confusion on his face, then frustration that grew into furious anger as he turned to the crowd in search of the one who would challenge his right. The storm kicked up whorls of dust from the temple ground, the tempest reflected in the black pools of Spahn’s eyes. There was rage there, rage and desire percolating dangerously, ready to explode on the challenger. Sern set his jaw and raised his gaze to meet those wild eyes. Untamed. One might even say, frightening. He did not hear Alieth’s words as she crossed back, through the rush of wind and the thunderous beating of his own heart. T’Mihn: Alieth, thee will choose thy Champion If there was judgment or surprise in the old woman, her voice didn't reveal it. Alieth: As it was in the dawn of our days, and it is today, as it will be for all tomorrows, I make my choice. The traditional words fell from her lips like a litany, with the weight of tradition and what was to come. The subsequent break, though, was all but too long. Alieth: This one. Her arm extended forward, finger outstretched, naming Sern as the challenger. The fabric of her sleeve snapped and whipped around her arm, shifting the appendage with the changing winds. Disguising, perhaps, her own trepidation. Holding her gaze now, he stepped forward, further isolating himself from the others. A marked man. (A little theme music) Up close, the pulsating green veins showed through Spahn’s skin - the plak tow running full-force now. Targets. The two stepped three paces apart. The weapon’s shaft sank into Sern’s hands - heavy, ceremonial… Impractically weighted for ordinary use, but lending just the right amount of gravitas to the ritual that crossed a thousand generations. Kill or be killed. Sern adjusted his grip to better suit the ancient, oversized lirpa. He widened his stance, digging his heels into the dirt. Standing ready. T’Mihn: Fal’i’kal! Careful steps, left over right, moving through the space as a circle. Never turn your back, never take your eyes off the blade… Sern shifted the lirpa to his other side as he and Spahn continued to circle… Suddenly, Spahn’s blade launched forward, slicing through the air with an audible whung - propelled by an energy completely primal, devoid of all strategy beyond kill. Sern leapt backwards, narrowly dodging the fattest part of the curved blade. He countered the swing with a hard whack from the shaft of the lirpa, knocking Spahn off-balance with the force. As Spahn staggered backwards, Sern raised the weapon over his shoulder. He thrust forward with it as he advanced one step, then two… finally catching the other man in the shoulder with a heavy blow from the blunt end. The final strike forced Spahn to the ground. Sern advanced one final step, pure raw anger coursing through his mind to match Spahn’s. He raised the lirpa, blade poised to deliver one final, deadly blow from above… ... His blade sank deep - not into flesh, but sand. Sern growled, yanking the weapon back up and whipping around as he searched the shifting sands for his target. A sudden blow to the ankle knocked Sern off his feet, landing flat on his back with a forceful crack. He tensed, expecting any second to feel the lirpa blade plunge into his own body. Nothing. Silence, if not for the howling storm. Sern pressed the lirpa’s weighted end into the sand, climbing slowly along the length to his feet. The storm had only intensified since the challenge began - or perhaps it was his own adrenaline-enhanced senses drawing every little detail out from the background. He could scarcely make out the shadowy figures of the marriage party gathered along the edge of the ring, watching, waiting… The sound of his own heavy breathing filled his ears as he, too, watched and waited. Searching, wondering… Had he struck a lucky blow? A roar emanated from behind him. Sern snapped around with barely half a second to block a wild swing from Spahn’s lirpa as it came within centimeters of separating his arm from his body. He retreated quickly, blocking as blow after blow after blow rained down upon him. Finally, he managed to strike back, catching Spahn’s blade with his own and giving a hard shove to one side. Metal caught stone with a ringing clang - the reverberation suddenly silenced as the blade shattered. Sern ducked low, scurrying out of the immediate radius to regain the upper hand. He advanced, the lirpa slicing through the air only to be met by his opponent’s blunt blocks. The jagged edge sliced past his ear, past his side - missing and missing again. Sern slammed through a few hard, quick rebuttals of his own, until… … … … They missed each other and found their marks. A fountain of green poured from the incision across Spahn’s neck, slowing gradually to a rhythmic spurt that arced outwards under failing pressure. Sern released his grip on the lirpa, letting it fall to the sand beside him. The two men stared at one another for a moment, the deafening silence building. Sern only noticed his own wound as Spahn collapsed to the sand, taking the jagged, green-stained blade with him. A sharp pain ripped through his abdomen. And when touched, his hand came away green… Before she even knew what she was doing, Alieth had crossed the sand, the vaporous dress shaken behind her in the storm. By the time he reached him, Sern had collapsed. She dropped to her knees beside him as she ripped her sleeve. Alieth: No, nononono The patch of dress she was holding over the wound immediately dyed green and soaked with blood, which slipped through her fingers and ran down her wrists until it eventually flowed into the ever-thirsty sands of the Forge. Alieth: No, please Asenara, stay with me. Do not leave me, please, stay with me. All her knowledge, all the years of study, all the preparation had vanished from her mind, and she tried unsuccessfully to stop the river flowing from the wound, with only her hands and her despair. Sern: I - I cannot... There was nothing she could do. Nothing. She cupped his cheek in her hand and leaned to rest her forehead on his. Alieth: (in desperate sobbing) Sern... Asenara, stay with me… do not leave me… not like this, don’t leave me, please. His hand rose between them, the muscles of his arm spasming with sheer effort. His fingers aligned along her cheekbone and the edge of her face. Sern: Vokau. Her hand ran over his wounded body until her index and middle finger caressed his. And just moments later, his hand slipped into the sand. Nothing but dust in the wind moved for a long time. ((Level 34 Medical Isolation Ward, Deep Space 9)) (OOC - Only Teller can hear Sern. Telepathic communication is signified by ‘~’ marks.) Geoff gasped and sagged backwards, the connection between them broken. His hand reflexively went towards the wound that wasn’t there, but he felt a very real ache where the blade had cut deeply. He blinked, his hand dripping with green blood one moment and then clean the next. His headache, a deep ringing echo behind his eyes, had grown to nearly blinding proportions. Teller: What...the hell...was that…. Alieth: That is what it was. And how I lost him, the one you carry now, the first time Sern: ~That is, until the Bond was broken. By you.~ Geoff’s eyes snapped open at the intensity of the foreign voice. He looked around the room like a panicked animal, unable to locate its source. Teller: WHAT?! WHAT the hell are you doing here? Sern: ~Ah - now you hear me…~ She opened her eyes, surprised by Teller’s words and leaned forward. Alieth: (speaking hastly) WHAT-What do you mean you...? Standing up and getting ready to auscultate him:: Can you hear him? it is not supposed to be feasible for a psy-null alien to... Sern: ~I assumed you would have come to that conclusion on your own by now… Autopilot functions do not entirely extend to the beings actually piloting the vessel.~ Teller: No wait stop you’re both talking at the same time… Alieth: Of course, of course. Allow me to replicate a relaxing infusion, sharing your mind with another person can be distressing when untrained.... Maybe a chamomile? Or tilleul? or… Without waiting for an answer, Alieth jumped out of her seat and made her way swiftly to the replicator. Sern: ~An excellent suggestion. That Klingon infusion you keep drinking is decidedly unpalatable, not to mention incredibly damaging to your digestive system.~ Teller: NO I DON'T WANT HERBAL TEA DAMMIT! Sern: ~I do not see the need for a reaction that strong, Geoffrey. I was merely stating the obvious.~ Alieth: (with admonishing tone) I really fail to perceive the necessity for such a strong reaction, Geoffrey John. Geoff slumped back into the chair, hands on his temples. It was like trying to sort through voices at a party, except somehow the party was happening inside of his skull. Teller: Look, ok, uh….Sern...he’s...just...awake, now. And talking. Won’t shut up actually. I thought Vulcans were supposed to be laconic. ::Geoff groaned and rubbed his temples:: Can you just...ya know...take him back? It’s feeling a little crowded in here ::Teller thunked his knuckles against his throbbing skull:: Alieth: I tried when we shared my memories but his katra seems to have nested in your brain for some reason and I cannot get it back Teller: What do you mean you can’t get him back? Hey, buddy, really sorry about you getting killed but I’m pretty sure my brain is only rated for one occupant. Barely. Sern: ~This was not my choice either, but it would be futile to complain about that which one cannot change.~ Alieth:I guess that means that we have to resort to an expert... on Vulcan. Which may be somewhat problematic given the prevailing circumstances Teller: Vulcan!? Wait, how can there be experts on this? I have so many questions... Sern: ~So, so many… Where to begin… ~ Alieth: First, the legal ones, naturally. From a legal point of view you are the depositary of a stolen asset and, thus, a felon as an accomplice. Teller: Wait, what?! Not only do I have a ghost stuck in my head, I’ve got a stolen ghost stuck in my head? Ok, look, I need some answers, and Chuckles in my head here is getting pretty antsy as well. Ain’t that right Chuckles? Sern: ~ “Chuckles”? ~ Teller: So let me see if I’ve got this all clear. I’ve got your old, dead boyfriend stuck in my skull. Alieth: ::slightly green dye striving to reach the tips of her ears:: My deceased BEST friend is a more apt description Sern: ~Our relationship harbored no emotions of a romantic nature, I assure you.~ Teller: Uh huh, he said that too. I don’t believe either of you. Alieth: (Accompanied by the most dreadful glare of the entire Vulcan repertoire) COMMANDER Sern: ~...While I understand that relationships between Human males and females often struggle to separate the platonic from the romantic, that is decidedly not the case between two Vulcans…~ Teller: Ok, look Chuckles - you and I are going to have to come to some kind of an understanding if you’re going to be crashing on my cerebral couch for a while…. Sern: ~Indeed, perhaps I can be of assistance...~ Geoff’s headache had finally gone down to a minor throb. It didn’t seem like Sern was ‘yelling’ anymore, and Geoff was feeling more like himself. If himself was locked in a small elevator with a Vulcan looming uncomfortably close over his shoulder. Teller: I’ll work it out with Fleet Captain Kells. I bet you a slip of GPL there’s even a Starfleet form for exactly this kind of problem - might even be a procedure book. Alieth...look, we’ll figure this out...somehow. I don’t need a ghost in my head to tell me how important this guy was to you. Start reaching out to whoever you need to on Vulcan and we can start getting the legal issues addressed. It’ll be a fun one for the JAG corp to sink their teeth into. We’re going to fix this - that’s a Good Job Guarantee. Sern: ::slightly irritated:: ~You and I have much to discuss, ~ [TBC!] ((OOC: Some handy Vulcan translation notes: vokau → Remember zhar-kur tei → Verbatim, orange tea. A widely consumed stimulating infusion from Chi-ree)) Fal’i’kal → Begin Kal-if-fee → act of challenge (high vulcan) =============================== Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Teller Executive Officer USS Thor - NCC 82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding V239509GT0 & Lt. JG Alieth Medical Officer USS Thor Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding Author ID number: E239702A10 & Sern of Vulcan E239602QD0
  8. @Jona ch'Ranni - I'm not the only one on the Gorkon who's been watching the steady progress of Bert's character arc throughout the mission, and this felt so satisfying to read. Like a culmination of it all into one blowout. Brilliant stuff. --- ((Weather Net Control Room)) Bert flicked the activation switch on the now bug-free weather station console and held his breath. The batteries on the floor still cast a small bluish glow as the final creatures entered the power cells. He didn't know how long they would last but he hoped it was at least a second longer than what they needed. Hankins: I think it's starting up. Not only the central console, but the entire room was reactivating. At least the stations that still functioned after the earlier pyrotechnics. Seconds crawled by as the system ran through its initiation process and Bert glanced up at a screen at the edge of the room that had been spared from the overloads. The station cycled through feeds from secure areas of the park - the Aquatic Exhibit's Command Center, an exterior of the Weather Net station they were occupying, a view from his own lab. The color drained from the middle-aged man's face and the expression on his face made it look like he'd been sucker punched in the gut. Hankins: My god ... Thornton: What's wrong? Hankins: ::steadying himself against the console:: The Reclassifer. It's gone. Loxley: How could it be gone? The rest of the interplay between the Starfleet officers and the few BetaGen people they had in tow was drowned out by the dissonant violins screeching in his brain. Bert's vision grew dim at the edges and he had to remind himself to take a breath lest he pass out. Leaning forward on the console, the scientist noticed clinically that his left hand was shaking. He clenched his fist shut and brought it to his mouth. How could this have happened? Why was someone targeting his life's work? The video loop from his lab lasted a few scant seconds but it was enough to show the reality of the situation. The Reclassifier was far too large to move by one person. And yet the connections to the room had been cleanly disconnected. How it had been moved at all was a miracle - though, not really. Even now he was realizing the device could be stored in a portable transporter buffer and rematerialized later. The droning words from the others reached his ears, but not his brain. Here they were prattling on about the storm's intensity lessening when the storm in his mind was raging and pounding even more. And what was that about a message received and finding a way to a landing pad? Who cared? The greatest breakthrough in the past hundred years was now in the hands of some nefarious criminal who would probably sell it to the highest bidder. The thought made him sick and he had to use all his willpower to keep the surge of bile down. Hankins: oO How dare they! I'll make them pay for this. Oo The words from those around him slowly began to make their way through the cloud mass of hate and anger. Vargull: There's a short path, maybe twenty metres, through the bushes out back, it opens out into the parking area. Hankins: Shut up, Vargull! Thornton/Neathler/Fortune/Loxley/Any: Response. Hankins: Shut up, all of you! Anyone: Response. Hankins: ::cutting off the reply:: You don't understand. The Reclassifier is more powerful than you know. With the right tweak someone could use it to unleash ungodly hell on an unsuspecting planet. ::tone changing from anger to pleading:: We have to recover it. ::beat:: You have to recover it. This entire sector is in danger if it falls into the wrong hands. Thornton: Response Bert buried his face in his hands and slowly moved his palms back across his smooth head to the back of his neck. Hankins: I'm sorry. Yes, I understand. Of course, we have to get out of here first. I'm sorry ... so sorry. Bert couldn't tell if he was apologizing to the group standing around him or to the galaxy itself. Hankins: ::reasserting his control:: What's our plan? Neathler: Response Bert nodded his head but was only half-listening. He was far too busy with counting the many ways he could exact revenge. Currently he was all the way up to 22 but that number was steadily climbing. Loxley/Fortune: Response -- MSNPC Bertrand Hankins Chief Scientist, BetaGen Inc. as simmed by Lt. Jona ch'Ranni Chief of Operations USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) C239510JC0
  9. The Federation News Service (FNS) — our sister site and for all in-character galactic news reports — takes a chunk of time and creativity. From writing articles on Current Affairs, Science and Technology, Trade and Business, to editing mission reports submitted by every ship in the fleet, the FNS team makes sure there's up-to-date news flowing every week for everyone to enjoy. And so, in recognition for all their hard work in bringing the FNS to life on a monthly basis, here's a small thank you to our team! Congratulations, everyone! FNS Editor Presented to those who have earned the title of FNS Editor. Must have offered constructive feedback to at least 5 articles written by other team members and edited at least 5 ship reports from the StarBase 118 fleet. Each additional five earn multiple citations. Elite, 20+ Articles Edited @Roshanara Rahman @Samira Neathler @Ceciri Ariadust @Randal Shayne @Nalni Gold, 15+ Articles Edited @Geoffrey Teller Silver, 10+ Articles Edited @Genkos Adea FNS Writer Presented to those who have earned the title of FNS Writer. Must have five articles published on the FNS website. Each additional five earn multiple citations. Elite, 20+ Articles Published @Roshanara Rahman Silver, 10+ Articles Published @Randal Shayne @Ceciri Ariadust @Moonsong @Blake Standard, 5+ Articles Published @Nalni @Anath G'Renn Thank you for all your hard work, folks!
  10. I have always regarded the position of counsellor as one of the most difficult positions on a starship by far. Their work schedule is usually the opposite of the rest of the crew's (being busier on shoreleaves than on missions) and they have such an open and flexible position that there are many times when I personally have a hard time to find their spot If i put myself in their shoes. Only for that, this sim merits a special mention, but if we add to that Brodie's wonderful prose, how he woven together the writings and stories of other crew members and the clarity with which he advises and counsels, I think it is a reference sim for anyone who wants to write a counsellor. Outstanding work, as usual @Alex Brodie
  11. I really loved this delve into the mind of a survivor on the asteroid; beautifully written as always, and pulls out some real emotional moments. Panic being one of the biggies. Well done, @Samira Neathler! -- (( Weather Complex - Trueno )) She didn’t hear them. Well, maybe she did. Murmurs sounded in the background. Voices she did not recognise, well except for one. Bertrand Hankins. Not that she knew the man. He was the big shots, the scientist all other science people looked up to. But the man only had eye for his creations and not those who took care of those achievements. She was just one of the many responsible for feeding all those creations. But she had made some promotion. Her first years she had been feeding the hatchlings, later on, the now grown hatchlings had been moved to the paddocks outside and so her own work territory also changed to the outer fields. And it was in one of those paddocks she had been in when the call came to evacuate. Just like her colleagues, the first thought she had was that it was just another drill. One of the so many. So she was in no rush to walk to the meeting point. Instead, she continued feeding the azure feathered quaking goosauruses, the animals already anticipating that she was in their paddocks with new grub. It was only when she left the paddocks through the dinolocks she had noticed something was off. One of the animals kept following her through the forcefield. First, she had paid no attention to it. Until, she encountered some small herbivores on her path. With a scream, not from seeing the herbivores, those were harmless. It was more a cry of realizing that this was not an ordinary drill, she dropped the now empty food container while one of the evacuation shuttles passed overhead. In the shuttle's wake, purple looking clouds, covered the normally blue sky, gradually taking over the firmament above her. Following the path, she rushed to the meeting point, only to find it empty. The emergency vehicles taking them to the shuttle area had already left. It was at that very moment, she felt the first raindrops falling. Panicking, having no idea what to do next, she stood there for a while. Hoping others that had been too late would join her. Only no-one did. She was there all alone, the cry of something or maybe someone made her move again, towards the transportation hubs, her last chance of getting to the shuttles. Retracing her steps was next on her list, and at the following crossroads she went to the east. Which was a mistake she realized when the supply building doomed up in front of her. Soaked by the rain that was now pouring down, she turned around, ran in the dim light towards the next transporter hub. Yet the device was unresponsive, no matter what she tried. Over the sound of thunder, she heard another shuttle approaching and waved towards the sky vehicle, but it was in vain. Finally, footsteps approached her and she turned around, glad that she was no longer alone. She was about to call her colleagues, when a velociraptor emerged from out of the shrubs, pouncing on the man. Another raptor showed up and with joined effort and in a matter of seconds the two raptors dragged the man into the woods. She screamed and ran into the shrubbery in the opposite direction as fast as she could. She ran and ran, between branches and twigs, battering her, the same as the raindrops falling from the sky, trying to get as much distance between her and those raptors. Coming at a crossroads, she stood there for a moment trying to catch her breath. And so did one of the creatures that was now roaming free on the asteroid. She never saw what it was that grabbed her by the arm, scratching her, she hardly felt the pain. She would never figure out how she got out of the animal's grip and she disappeared into the woods until she reached the building she was in now. These four people had helped her inside and now she sat there, the look of the now tied hemegret terrified her. The murmurs still going on, she stood up and walked towards the one closed door in the room. Silently she opened the door exposing a dark staircase leading to a lower floor. She descended, the sound of thunder diminishing as she proceeded. Some peace and quiet, the animals wouldn’t follow her down here, would they? She reached the bottom of the stairs, hearing a faint voice, further in the corridor. Next something heavy and sharp hit her temple. The last thing she heard before her body hit the floor and everything went dark was a voice calling out. Voice: It’s one of ours. --- Cedre Vanham BetaGen Employee Trueno Simmed by: Lieutenant Commander Samira Neathler Chief of Security&Tactical USS Gorkon G239508SN0
  12. One of the things I have discovered that I like most about the SB118 community is the chance of doing sims between different ships. How the stories of some characters and some others, even though they may be mostly independent, are intertwined and enrich each other. How even in different ships friendships could flourish. We can seen a beautiful example of that here. Add to that mix two wonderful writers (and PRODUCTIVE ones, @Alora DeVeau is a monster with JPs and writing one with @Geoffrey Teller is always fun and instructive) , the ongoing sense of shared background (even without knowing the whole story it's delightfully obvious and annoyingly ambiguous, which makes me want to know MORE of both of them and the moments they had shared), a scene that's beautiful and fun at the same time... well, the result is that we have a very good example of what can be read between our ranks, and an example to aspire to. Great job guys, keep raising the bar!
  13. I'm excited to see how this scene shapes up, but this opener from Ganarvuss is beautiful. I think it's a great example of how two characters can feel very differently about a situation. ((Chief of Security’s Office-Deck 4-USS Atlantis)) ((Time Index: Day 15? of Shoreleave)) ((OOC: All thoughts and opinions strictly IC.)) There had been an incident on the surface and Ilana was not happy about it. She was even less happy with how little information she had received from the Starfleet officers involved. In fact, almost everything she knew had come from the government down on Illara Prime. There had evidently been some kind of altercation between three Starfleet officers, one of whom wasn’t even assigned to Atlantis, and an Illaran citizen had died. Ilana had called for Ensign Lephi to report to her in her office. She wanted to talk to her and Ensign Snow independently. She had no idea what to do about the marine lieutenant. Granted, he wasn’t part of the Atlantis’ crew, so it should be a Federation, not Starfleet, Security problem. Captain Thoran was going to be present at the debriefing as well and Ilana knew the pressure was on her in her new position as Acting Chief of Security. Thoran arrived first and when he entered the office she stood, holding herself rigidly. Ganarvuss: Captain. About the incident on the surface. I’m… sorry. I should’ve anticipated that something like this might happen. I’ll do better from now on. It wasn’t adequate, she knew it but she wasn’t going to shirk responsibility. The safety of the crew was her primary duty and it was hers before it was anyone else’s. Thoran: ? Ganarvuss: Understood sir. In light of recent events, I recommend that no one be allowed on the surface unless accompanied by security or marine personnel. Preferably armed. The door chime sounded, after Ilana stopped speaking and she looked at Thoran. Thoran: ? Ganarvuss: Yes sir. :: to the door :: Enter! The door slid open and Ensign walked in, smiling. Ilana felt the blood rush to her face. What in the world did she have to smile about? She took a breath and crossed her arms, trying to calm herself. She didn’t have a full picture of the incident. Getting angry at Lephi wasn’t going to help that. Lephi: ::offering a salute:: Sir. I was ordered to report here for a debriefing? Thoran: ? Ganarvuss: The Illaran government told us some of what happened on the surface, Ensign. You're lucky you weren't arrested. Lephi made her way over to the desk and sat in one of the chairs. Normally, Ilana wouldn’t mind that, but between the severity of the situation and the smile on Lephi’s face, the Ensign’s readiness to relax nearly overpowered Ilana. She settled for clenching her fists. Lephi: I hope you don't mind if I sit down, I'm not sure I could stand for this thing. I came directly from sickbay, I haven't had time to write up a report yet, I'm sorry. Ganarvuss: oO You’d better be! Oo Ilana bit the inside of her cheek to keep from speaking. While the situation on the surface had likely been challenging emotionally, it was no excuse to inform one’s superiors of yet another incident that could paint Starfleet in a bad light for the Expanse. Thoran: ? Lephi: It all happened so fast, I'm not sure how much help I'll be right now, but I'm happy to try. Thoran: ? Ganarvuss: Just tell us what happened. Lephi: ? Thoran: ? Ganarvuss: Kidnapped? oO You’ve got to be kidding me. Oo Ilana did her best not to roll her eyes. Three Starfleet officers, one of them a marine no less, kidnapped in broad daylight. If Ilana didn’t have a great deal of respect for the uniform Lephi was wearing, she wouldn’t believe her for a second. Being Chief of Security was going to be a lot more difficult than she’d anticipated, if people couldn’t even take of themselves during shoreleave. Lephi/Thoran: ? TAG/TBC -- Lieutenant J.G. Ilana Ganarvuss Acting Chief of Security USS Atlantis A239504HM0
  14. I have really been enjoying the viewpoints of these poor, assimilated crew, who are empathetic even as they are doing cruel terrible things beyond their control. ((ECS Andromeda – Corridor)) Routing information flowed into his nanite enhanced brain, filling the biological components to their capacity. He knew the Andromeda now, at least the layout of the ship, as well as he knew the Nimitz. All of the information was stored within his memory. Renati turned down the next corridor he came to, following the internal maps. One turn, then another, and before long he would be where he needed to be to intercept the interferers. Hatred filled his chest with every step. He was beyond assimilation now, and all he wanted to do was destroy them… all of them. His pace quickened, from a jog to then an all out run. It was time for them to be eradicated. Reaching the end of the corridor, Renati skidded to a stop at the closed doors. The power systems had failed, and the doors refused to slide aside as they should have. He stood momentarily, staring at the doors as if they had intentionally stopped his procession. The cybernetic components in his brain calculated the shear weight of the retaining systems, the weight of the doors, and the force that would be necessary to defeat the barrier. His biological brain, on the other hand, saw the doors through a lens of venomous hate. Then he heard the scream, not from the neural net, but with his ears. Cautus: No! W… The sound of his fellow Nimitz-Borg sliced through the air like a hot knife through butter, then came the aloud bang and the voice was cut short. The sound stabbed at his brain, and the anger swelled. They would die… they would all die! Drawing every ounce of strength from the nanite enhanced musculature, Renati drew back and flung himself against the doors. The metal buckled and flew from him as if they were made of nothing. The left door crashed against the wall on opposite the opening, coming to rest on the deck with a crash. Renati did not pause, but allowed his momentum to take him into the hallway. His eyes caught the sight. Juvantibus and Cautus were on the floor, and the intruders were kneeling over them. Drawing an un-necessary breath, Renati ran toward them. Hate and rage fueled his muscles, driving him faster and faster toward the ones he disposed the most. They would die, and he would be the one to bring them their fate. He expelled a low roar for pursed lips and gritted teeth. The flashes came in rapid succession, and the impacts were nearly immediate. With each hit, Renati felt the burning increase in his chest. His biological heart exploded, ceasing to pump the needed biological fluids through his body. Still, he drove his legs to propel him forward toward the destruction of those who had interfered with the Nimitz-Borg’s work. He was leaned forward, running full out. Then his body failed. The oxygen deprived muscles could no longer fulfil the demands from his brain, which was beginning to starve from the lack of oxygen itself. His internal organs, what was left of them, failed from the lack of blood. Inertia propelled him forward, but without the appendages to motor him, his heavier torso carried forward while the lower portion stalled. Quickly, the floor came up to meet his face and he slid to a stop. His ears rang, but the sound slowly faded to a non-existent din. Nanites worked feverishly to repair his systems, but the damage was too great and the destroyed organs too far gone. Like little lights, the nanites blinked out as if a switch had been thrown. The Borg components were gone in an instant. A second of clarity returned to him. His human brain once again in complete control of his thoughts. He was not Renati… his name was Steve, but his memory contained it all. Everything he had done was there. All of it. A tear slipped from his remaining eye and down his cheek, and his world faded to black. -Fin- Lt. Commander Steven “Renati” Ormsby Engineer U.S.S. Nimitz As Simmed By: 2Lt. Anthony Meeks Company Commander 1/292nd TMR D Co. Starbase 118 Ops/USS Narindra R238801IG0
  15. Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part VIII) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) Yawning into midair, Chris wandered through the open door onto the bridge, his hand stuck in the back of his growing hair already sticking up at all angles like some confused starfish, and a countenance like someone who rolled out of bed only mere moments before. Sitting there, feet up on the bridge console, nursing a steaming cup was who he expected, but judging by the look on the blond's face, Chris was not. O. Marshall: You're not Lena. Johns: Not today. Diverting himself to the replicator at the rear of the bridge, Chris input the command in for the strongest of coffees the galaxy knew that wouldn't set his kidneys aflame and crossed his arms as it materialised on the pad. He sighed deeply, fingers delving into the corners of his eyes where the deposits of sleep had taken residence, and when the replicator announced the completion of the request, slid his fingers through the mug's handle. When he dropped into the copilot chair with all the weight of an anchor into the ocean, Marshall looked his way with a gruff frown, beard moving like he was trying hard to dislodge words stuck between his teeth. O. Marshall: What was it this time? Canasta? Cardassian pinochle? Amusement flared in hazel eyes as Chris swallowed his mouthful of coffee and placed it on the console. His eyes widened with acceptance of his fate and he shrugged a shoulder, his fingers drumming a ballet beat. Johns: Rag-sen with the round cards. O. Marshall: You shouldn't let her choose the game, you know. Pick something you're good at. The dancer looked up from watching his ankle roll and calf muscle tense to the profile of the intelligence officer, querying the lack of bristling attitude. Chris settled back into the chair and scratched the underside of his chin where the stubble had grown through. Johns: That would involve me being good at cards, and Lena not cheating. O. Marshall: When she's got marks like you, why would she? Turning toward the ops console, Chris gave the sensors a cursory check over, if only to make sure they weren't about to fly headlong into an unexpected planetoid. Satisfied their longevity was safe for the time being, he glanced to Marshall. Johns: You get six hours of uninterrupted wife time, I get extra bridge duty while Vee sleeps. Who really wins here? O. Marshall: Sounds like Vee to me. Chris huffed a laugh with the flicker of an eye roll as his fingers slipped through the handle of his mug, while Marshall patted the arms of his chair, as though he would move at any moment, leaving Chris to his own devices for six hours of extended boredom. The bearded blond sat there for a long minute, dragging out his leaving a little more than necessary. Chris nearly prompted him, wondering if the man had forgotten to do something important. Only when the cerulean gaze, usually so armour piercing, darted briefly to the closed door leading to the rest of the ship and found its way to the dancer did Chris realise what was about to happen. O. Marshall: You're not a stupid man, Chris. Hazel eyes narrowed at the sentence, not quite expecting it. Johns: Thank… you? O. Marshall: I mean it. You're an idiot sometimes, but you're far from stupid. Again, Chris' eyes narrowed as he looked sidelong at Marshall. They had never seen eye to eye; Operations with the two of them was a hotbed of powerful silence and derision at any given moment, especially in the run-up before Valesha and Marshall had escaped from the Gorkon's brig cell following her arrest for a string of alleged offences against the Federation. Murder ranking not inconsiderably among them. Eventually, it had worked out, the Admiral worked in Valesha's favour to secure dismissed charges, the Orion Syndicate stopped breathing down the neck of the blond sitting beside him, and she'd come back, albeit with a nasty case of the touching death with her fingertips. It was that look in blue eyes Chris remembered, when Orson had carried his Romulan from the shuttlepod to the waiting medical team, and it echoed along similar lines now. O. Marshall: She loves you. Johns: Valesha? ::He frowned, unsure.:: I know she does, I— Orson held up his hand and shook his head, forestalling the rest of Chris' declaration mid-word. O. Marshall: If you hadn't made it clear in the Brig, it's been crystal since. ::He took a breath, exhaling curtly like it was a full stop on that train of thought.:: No, just... just listen for a minute. There are very few people left alive that she does. Chris sat there silently, holding his mug, his hand fixed around the ceramic-like a vice. Like a sledgehammer in his sternum it struck hard, wrapped piano wire around his heart and pulled down toward the deck. O. Marshall: You'll be dead and gone in a hundred years, if you're lucky. If you have kids, she'll likely outlive them, if not come very close to it. Her brother might not even be on Ketar V. ::His gaze moved from Chris to the viewscreen and space hurtling outside.:: So, you really need to consider what you're asking her to do. What kind of life are you asking her to live? She's suffered enough, don't you think? He had considered it; he'd gone through those motions time and time again, and they'd done so together, talking it through over and over until there was little else left to say other than the remaining feeling that this was what they wanted. Death was inevitable. Everything ends. Chris diverted his gaze to the console as his jaw tightened, his elbow stuck in the arm of the copilot chair, forefinger and thumb pulling at his lower lip. Johns: I don't see what this has to do with you. What any part of our life has to do with you. Voice calm and collected, and internally vibrating, Chris looked up to Marshall as the man stood up, ready to make his exit off the bridge and leave the young dancer to stew with the words. O. Marshall: I saw how broken she was when we left. I had to convince her to come back. For whatever reason, the thought of losing you hit her hard. Imagine building a family just to lose them again in a few short decades. Chris watched him slide the empty coffee mug onto the pad of the replicator, watched in silence as it disintegrated, pulled apart at the atom framework and then ceased to exist in a matter of seconds. When he looked up to Marshall, the door was already closing behind him. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis & PO Johns - Road Trip (Part IX) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) The door opened again a few hours later, this time to admit a sleep-tousled Romulan. Padding across the carpet in bare feet, Valesha spared a moment to wryly observe that she seemed to spend as much time on the bridge in the shorts and vest she slept in as she did her uniform. She yawned into her palm and ignored the replicator for now, coming to a stop beside the pilot's chair. There, she slipped an arm around Chris' shoulders and bent to press a kiss to the crown of his head, his growing mop of dark hair tickling her nose. Sienelis: Lena? Johns: No doubt snoozing soundly, revelling in her victory. Wrapping his arm around Valesha's waist, Chris leaned into her constant thrum of warmth. In the hours between Marshall leaving and fiancee arriving, his heart had twisted in spirals and drilled holes. Left alone with nothing but the endless stretch of space in front of them, and Orson's commentary on their life, sent drumming ceaseless worries on a cavalcade of gloom around his innards, and were hard to ignore. However, he grinned when he noticed the condition of her dress and those legs which sent his pulse rocketing. Johns: Trouble sleeping, or reminding me what I'm missing by playing cards with a sharp? Sienelis: When we were on the Scream, I thought I'd be clever and play her at the most obscure Romulan game I could think of. Something no one else I've met has even heard of, let alone played. ::She sighed.:: Still ended up owing her a week's worth of foot massages. So let's call it solidarity. Johns: And to think, you didn't know how to do it like a dancer then, either. ::He grinned, with no small amount of enjoyment in that particular fact.:: She let me off easy. Cover her shift and we're square, until the next time. Being officers of a different kind in Starfleet, the two rarely found themselves on the bridge together, and when they had spent a considerable time in a small space controlling a ship, it was the Skarbek. An unsteady inhale accompanied as Chris recalled the events of the last time they were there — a night to remember, tension they could slice with a bat'leth, the soft clink of a Cardassian grenade — and he summoned a smile to get rid of those lingering ghosts, tugging Valesha down into the copilot chair with him. Sienelis: She must have been feeling generous. With a twist of a grin, she pressed a kiss to his cheek and settled in his lap. The truth of it was that she'd woken from a restless sleep to a lonely bed, and months after their Q-induced second outing to the Skarbek, that was still something that left her hollowed out and uneasy. A reminder that the inevitable could always come too soon. But at least this time she didn't have to grimace and bear it, leaving the feeling simmering under the surface to poison her mood. One quick trip up empty corridors to the bridge, and here was her antidote. Sienelis: Everything all right? Johns: Yeah. ::The response was a bit too quick, a bit too unsure of himself.:: Yeah, fine. Contemplating, ::he raised a hand to the viewscreen and dropped it down,:: space. Time. Life. All with coffee and what routine I can put you through in the morning. She leaned back to look at him, a small frown creasing above her nose, scepticism clear. The swiftness of his reply, the tenor he had spoken in; neither had gone unnoticed. Years in the Skarbek and their time together afterwards made a woman who knew him well enough to spot the tells. Given the situation, the cause seemed obvious. Sienelis: Bear again? Johns: No, it's… As hazel eyes and emerald met, as though she'd caught him in that split second decision between omitting the truth and not, Chris felt the weight on it on his chest. Putting into words how accurate a shot Marshall had levelled his way took him a moment, and the young dancer shifted his attention to the curve of Valesha's knee, following the bumps of the muscle and bone with his thumb. Johns: He made me think, that's all. ::He marshaled a smile, albeit a thin one, and traced her kneecap with his fingertip.:: He thinks a lot about you. A frown lifted into raised eyebrows, the rest of her face creasing into something between surprised, perturbed and bewildered. Of all the people to occupy Bear's thoughts, she'd never assumed she was near the top of the list. Then again, now that she considered it, he was in hers more often that she cared to admit. Mutual affection wrapped in jibes and sarcasm, a genuine care easily hidden under glares and rapid-fire retorts. Sienelis: That's a dubious honour. ::Her gaze flicked across his face, down to the finger drawing across olive skin, and then back.:: Do I want to know why? The question fired in his mind before he could think about it; was he asking too much of her? It was not the main event dwelling since their conversation, but the one that cut the deepest. She told him of her trepidation in coming back, that there might not be something to come back to, but that their joint decision to wrap their lives around one another until his is over has a significant bearing on hers. Johns: Probably not. ::He smiled with an exhale and felt his arms hold her a little tighter.:: Concerned I'm treating you right and not subjecting you to rigorous ballet regimes. Sienelis: He's worried about my practice schedule. ::The prosaic intonation, the corner of her mouth tugged upward, a dark eyebrow arched; all evidenced her disbelief.:: If you don't want to talk about it, you can just say. His lips twitched with a smile at how easily Valesha read him, with little effort involved at all. As gossamer as a force field, not with everything, and it wasn't always the case, but a convincing liar Chris wasn't. He let his forehead touch to her temple, felt the grip of it around his ribs like it was hooked into them. Johns: Later, when I've slept on it. When you're snoring and I can tell it to your shoulders. She nodded, squeezing his shoulder, and leaned into him. That feeling she'd had in the Gorkon's Ready Room — that something wasn't quite right, their little universe shifting off-axis — pooled again, knotting lead weights inside her belly. The Romulan fought a quiet war inside her head, a battle over whether to push him for more. But he'd said later and she knew she had little patience for people prodding answers she wasn't yet ready to give. Sienelis: What secrets have those shoulders heard, I wonder. He kissed her olive-skinned cheek as the questions seeded inside, cultivated with earth and grew sprigs of greenery smaller than a thumbnail. It occurred it was likely meant with some kind of good intentions, but Chris thrummed between dejected and angry, knowing the sentiments held truth in them, and finding himself unable to admit it quite yet. Johns: You'd have to ask them, though I don't think they're so forthcoming. They only communicate in shrugs and drops. ::He touched between her shoulder blades and dropped his voice in her ear.:: Though, when here hears secrets, your hips m— A warning trill from the tactical computer sounded, breaking through the quiet with a thunderous roll of chirps similar to the bridge of their Sovereign class home. A second ticked by as disbelief high-kicked through the bridge like a chorus song of tango dancers, until the alert flashed up onto the viewscreen in front of them. When Chris spoke, it was with some measure of incredulity threading through. Johns: Two incoming signals showing on their sensor data and they're heading right for us. Valesha stared at the warning for the space of a few heartbeats. Then in an explosion of movement she scrambled out of his lap and threw herself into the seat accompanying the nearby tactical station. Slender fingers grazed over the controls, the wail of the ship's red alert answering her command. Power surged into the Azetbur's shields and phaser banks, micro-torpedoes loaded into the tubes, armed and ready to fire. Sienelis: =/\= Bear, put Lena down and both of you get up to the bridge. And before you ask, this isn't revenge, it's real. =/\= ::She glanced over toward her partner, heart in her throat, the situation an uncomfortable mirror to an illusion they'd once lived.:: Have they tried to hail us? Any active transponders? Likewise, on the other side, Chris quickly scanned the targeting information coming through their sensors, breaking the ship out of their already limited warp speed to give some breathing space before the inevitable interception, however the two vessels were coming up faster than he anticipated, cutting through the limited speed in the Shoals like a scythe through grass. He looked to Valesha as she asked, heart ticking up a few notches on the fibrillation scale. Johns: Orion ships, Wanderer-class. Two of the old style blockade runners heading right for us. ::His head tilted with the additional information as his fingers ran over the console.:: Serial numbers filed off though. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, PO Johns, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part X) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) The communications chirped, lighting up the small bridge with the ragged breathlessness of the eldest Marshall sibling, however instead of the biting retort Chris expected from the disturbed, it was a short and clipped message. O. Marshall: =/\= On our way. =/\= The Romulan nodded, glad that the pair would be on the bridge sooner rather than later. She didn't know the Shoals, she hadn't the faintest idea of how the ships were closing on them so fast, and she didn't know what they were capable of once they did. All she could say was that the two ships were more than twice the size of the Azetbur and running with their shields up and weapons charged. Sienelis: We're in the middle of nowhere. Either they've just been waiting for a likely target to pass, or they've been following us for a while. ::She frowned.:: They haven't tried to hail us? Johns: Not yet, communications can't stretch that far, they need to be closer. ::Said while checking the channels to be on the safe side, as if the reclining Marshall could've knocked them out.:: They'll be on top of us before they'll be able to transmit at Federation frequencies without th— Orion Ship: =/\= Federation starship, you are in violation of the territory belonging to Le Seau Rouillés. Surrender now and we will not open fire. =/\= The clear booming voice of an Orion on the other end echoed through the bridge while Chris felt his stomach sink. Bringing up the tactical situation map on the display to the left of the viewscreen, their position showed with the small silhouette of the Azetbur in the centre of the indicator, the two Orion vessels closing in. Johns: They must've got hold of some of our communications equipment and hooking into the frequencies. ::He spat out a Russian expletive Valesha could translate easily following years together, and slammed the heel of his palm into the console display.:: Can we outrun them? Sienelis: Maybe? In open space we could jump to warp nine, no problem. But we're not supposed to go past six on the Mother Road. Johns: And that's not getting a ticket consequences, it's rip the ship apart consequences. She breathed a small sound of agreement and her Russian looked across the small space between the two chairs to his Romulan. Space was their problem and this section of space, regardless of the size of it, wasn't their stomping ground either. They didn't know what capabilities the blockade runners had, only their intentions. The door behind swished open and Lena appeared, the blond in tow. He didn't look impressed, but Chris could count on no fingers how much he cared. O. Marshall: I leave you alone for two hours and you find pirates? Have you got a homing beacon shoved up your— Sienelis: No, we went looking for some specifically to annoy you. An amused chortle formed Lena's contribution to the conversation, and she loped up to the pilot's chair wearing a t-shirt so oversized it hung off one shoulder and functioned as a (mini) dress. Skin flushed and glowing, she grinned at Chris and patted his shoulder, her intentions to take over the flight of the Starfleet yacht clear. Josett: Budge up, handsome. As instructed, Chris shifted out of the pilot seat, happy to vacate said responsibility for someone with exceedingly more skill in helm. Shifting to the communications console beside, he flipped through the systems for some more information on their incoming aggressors, but coming up short. Whoever they were, they kept tight reins on their signatures and patterns. Across the short bridge, Bear dropped into the seat beside Valesha and continued their conversation. O. Marshall: You know, somehow I'd believe it. ::Refocusing his attention on the task at hand, his eyebrow [...]ed.:: What've we got weapons wise? Sienelis: Five Type-Five arrays, two micro-torpedo launchers... that's it, unless you count the tractor beam as well. Johns: Maybe avoid flinging an asteroid at anyone. Seeing as it had gone so well last time someone had tried to do that, setting a chain reaction off in an asteroid field so massive, it caused the destruction of the Ascent Vine and Vorin still hadn't quite forgiven Valesha, despite it having nothing to do with her. Chris felt the drop in his stomach as the thought flared and focused on the comms, missing the tense hunch of his partner's shoulders at the mention of those events. O. Marshall: Have they said anything else? Given terms? Johns: Just to surrender. ::He scratched his beard and frowned at the wavering issues.:: They're not attempting to keep the channel open and the link keeps dropping, so they're not used to using the technology they've acquired. I still say we try and outrun them. Josett: I can do it. ::She grinned.:: But I can't guarantee the nacelles won't shear off in the attempt. On her opposite side, Chris shook his head with a growing grin on his face. She might not have been with them in their Skarbek dreamworld, but Lena was just as Maquis in her delivery. Sienelis: I don't think we can fight them off, can we? O. Marshall: Not with those peashooters. ::The tactical assessment of the runners flashed onto the display console beside the viewscreen.:: They're built to be fast and hard as nails. One good hit might take them out but you're talking… Bear trailed off, unable or unwilling to commit the mental effort to the probability arithmetic there and then. Instead, he started delving into what tactical information he could get from the computer, and anything sensors picked up they could shoot at. Johns: What if we sent a few knocks to their engines? ::He looked over to his partner and his heart gave a painful throb.:: Is it possible to stretch the sensors to get us subsystem information through this mud field? Slim olive fingers danced across multicoloured controls, her console singing — and occasionally blowing raspberries — in response. Her brow wrinkled in concentration, trying to pull the pieces of a puzzle together, Starfleet technology and training versus the shifting, unstable tachyon fields of the Shoals. Sienelis: I think so, but they'll need to be closer. ::She shook her head.:: The tachyons are chewing up the data and spitting it out again. Stay and fight, hope to win or at least get a few pot shots in to slow them down so the Azetbur could make the escape, or put the pedal to the metal and gun it. The choice wasn't an easy one. Fleeing exposed their engines, their nacelles open season for a torpedo to come on hurtling on the warpath. Johns: They're hailing us again, it's coming through. Orion Ship: =/\= Federation starship, you are in violation of the territory belonging to Le Seau Rouillés. Surrender now and we will not open fire. =/\= Johns: Yeah, you said that already. ::He grumbled and hit the control with the palm of his hand to shut down the channel, then he frowned.:: Was it just me, or did that sound exactly the same as the last time? O. Marshall: You've had that before? ::The man snapped back, eyes flaring to the dancer across the bridge.:: And now was a good time to mention it? Johns: We've got Orions incoming, it wasn't the first thing on my mind when they can fly faster than us! Sienelis: Will you two stop it! ::She exhaled through thinned lips, not taking her eyes off her console.:: It did sound the same. What does that even mean? Josett: It means they're full of pled. The hybrid grinned as the Cardassian curse rolled off her tongue, amused by either the situation, the antics inside the bridge, or perhaps both. Her deft fingers performed a familiar dance with the ship's control systems, pushing and pulling, dragging them along with what she wanted. Redirecting power away from life support, bringing inertial dampeners down to the bare minimum, even stealing power from spare capacity in the nacelles, speed-limited as they were. She shunted it into the shields and structural integrity, preparing the yacht for a rough flight. Josett: They're closer; check their profile again. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, PO Johns, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part XI) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) Bear took that task, their tactical sensors straining to get a read on the two vessels on a collision course. In the middle of the Shoals soup, it seemed their technological capacity amounted to eight eyeballs and tactical projections of a flight path of the incoming ships relative to their position… but only for one vessel. O. Marshall: There's only one of them, not two. One and a probe it's bouncing a signal off. Johns: That's a Starfleet probe. ::He interjected, the realisation acting like a lightbulb flash for the comms specialist who dove back into his console.:: I'm sending a diagnostic routine to it, chances are they won't know how to break it. O. Marshall: You do that and the other will open fire. ::Grunting his exhale, he looked to Valesha.:: What were they expecting you to do? Stop and let them board? Take all the best china? A retort on the tip of her tongue — something about letting them take him — was forgotten. The question slammed into the forefront of her mind, what were they expecting you to do? What else was a little Starfleet ship going to do, when outnumbered, outmanned and outgunned? Sienelis: You think they're trying to make us run? Herd us somewhere? Johns: Filter us into a place where their reinforcements are, or somewhere we can't get out of. Beam aboard, take the ship, be gone before we know it. ::The dancer tongued his cheek as he sat back in the chair, looking over to his wife to be.:: It is a pretty slick business strategy. A fancy prize, if only for the bragging rights it'd bring along with it. Captain's yachts usually had Captains on board, meaning a substantial ransom if they played their cards right and a hefty dose of honour among thieves to carve up the ship. It was easy to forget that this wasn't their stomping ground, and as Bear ran his hand over his face to wake himself up, he remembered the more things changed out there in the Shoals, the more they stayed the same. O. Marshall: How often is a Starfleet Captain's yacht spotted in the Shoals? They're after who they think we've got on board. ::He [...]ed an eyebrow to Lena.:: Unless you've got a pirate homing signal. Josett: Not this week. ::She flung an amused grin his way, enjoying the thrill of the chase.:: The pirates here usually have better maps of the fields than anyone else. My money would be on them trying to drive us into a tetryon pocket and disable our warp drive. Sienelis: So... we change course? Head off the Mother Road in some random direction and try to shake them off? O. Marshall: They'll figure that out in no time. One wrong move out here and we'll find ourselves ripped apart at the rivets and seams. ::He ran a hand into his short crop of still damp hair and exhaled tersely through his nose.:: I'm not about to get blown up our first five minutes in here, so we need a plan and we need one quickly. The chime and chirp of the console in front of Chris set to life as the diagnostic routine on the projection probe finished, feeding back data at a rate of knots. Even through the muddy soup of the Shoals on the Mother Road, the readings were coming through just fine for him to reinterpret. Only the flash of inspired thought kicking around in his brain needed more than his communication knowhow. No sooner had it burst through the brick walls of his brain, the ship rocked from side to side beneath them, sending a cascade of churn across their exterior hull. Like a ripple effect, the hammer blow sent a grinding metal sound their way and the added bonus of a damage report. The Russian's heart gave a thick thump behind his sternum as he sent his probe data through to Valesha and jumped out of his seat to lean onto the console beside her. Johns: Can we set up a sensor mask on the probe? Enough to feed them back duff data of where we are? If we take that out entirely, they might abandon the chase on us. Green eyes flicked up toward him, not daring to linger on his features for too long, even as her heart pounded low in her chest. Her brow pinched in concentration, she filtered and assessed the probe data and its onboard sensors. Much like the ship it was slaved to, the probe wasn't the newest off the production line, the protocols it was using were just a little out of date. Sienelis: I think so. ::She nodded, still manipulating and page through the reams of information from the probe.:: It won't be an immediate change, it'll be a cumulative error, their read of our position will drift. Johns: Clever. Makes it seem like a natural problem rather than a manufactured one. Despite the pressing situation, Chris smiled in preemptive triumph; the last time they'd done this had felt entirely different, and a year later, Valesha was in sleeping shorts on the bridge of a Starfleet ship and they were a them. A strange thought to have in the middle of a crisis, but the young couple never were for convention. As though sensing the switch in mood from desperate to plan, Bear's authoritative bass drummed. O. Marshall: Better than the whole lot of nothing we've got now. ::He huffed and ran his hand over his beard. The yacht wasn't a peashooter, but one word from the Orion ship and who knew what would come running.:: Get it done. Lena, don't let them gain an inch on us. Can you keep up the pace while it works? While Valesha allowed herself a quick roll of the eyes and a small shake of her head, Lena just chuckled. Her curls bounced with her nod, hands moving quickly and easily across the flight controls of the yacht. The small ship shuddered again, indicators on her console flicking from green to amber — some holding there, others flicking back as the ship's automated systems compensated — and the hybrid's pulse beat a little faster, her grin widening. Josett: It's going to be a rough ride. Sienelis: Why does this always happen when I'm in a ship with you? Josett: I lead a charmed life. ::Another soft chuckle,:: Or a cursed one, depending on your point of view. Johns: Charmed. ::Said with a quick grin to Valesha as he moved back to his seat.:: Most definitely charmed. Space stretched out in front of them, taking them faster on their tunnel through the Mother Road, though whether that was the Orion's plan was another thing. If anything, they were adding time to their journey in how easy they'd have to take it later, and that annoyed the blond one no end. Mines, that's what this small ship needed. Mines they could shove out the back ramp. Orion Ship: =/\= Federation starship, you are in violation of the territory belonging to Le Seau Rouillés. Surrender now and we will not open fire. =/\= O. Marshall: =/\= On behalf of this Federation starship, bite our shiny, metal nacelle. =/\= ::His fist slammed down hard on the cut off command controls, ceasing the hailing frequency and channel the Orion ship used.:: Their hull would look a whole lot better with a torpedo-shaped hole in it. No sooner had the words left his mouth, the familiar lance of a forward phaser blast grazed their outer hull, rocking the yacht to the port side and the occupants along with it. Valesha cursed under her breath, catching hold of her console to steady herself, and quickly returned to the business of trying to interfere with the probe's inner workings. Josett: Seems the feeling's mutual. Sienelis: I'm almost done. ::Her teeth dug into the corner of her lip,:: If you are going to fire back, just remember they might spot the weapons aren't coming from where they think the shuttle is. O.Marshall: Then we'll not risk it. Give them no reason to think we're anywhere but where the sensors say we are. How's that phaser blast looking? Chris blew out a steady sigh as he compensated for Lena's compensating, throwing some of the power around into the shields and bolstering up their flank. It didn't need it; the blast was a glancing blow at best but a few more of them and the cracks would start. Johns: Superficial damage sustained, nothing major. ::Glancing to Lena, he sat back in the Ops chair and chuckled.:: Try and steer us away from the incoming fire trying to shave off a nacelle. Josett: It's fine, we've got two. She grinned back at the Russian, amber eyes sparkling, attitude as irreverent as ever. Still, when her gaze returned to the console in front of her, that Cardassian brow pulled together in concentration. Reduced power to the inertial dampeners translated into coordinated lurch of stomachs, an abrupt deceleration as she banked into a hard turn. More manoeuvrable than the heavier starship in pursuit, she led them into overshooting and forced a time-consuming course correction. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, PO Johns, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part XII) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) Blasts from Orion phaser banks scattered across their hull, glancing off rather than searing through, and Bear could only imagine the cursing the Orions must be doing when faced with a pilot giving them a run for their money in the quite literal sense. They shot past them on the monitor, overshooting their mark for turning by a wide margin, Lena forcing them into a wider arc to regain ground and following once more. However, their angle was off, heading toward their bearing but at a twenty-degree angle away. O. Marshall: Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. It's working. The trill of another alert sounded from the ops console and Chris looked to it, moving his left hand over the controls as his right silenced the incoming communication from the Orion ship again. Information coming through from their operational sensors brought a cavalcade of feeling into his stomach and up through his chest. Johns: We've got a second incoming, considerably larger than our Orion friend and no signature yet. Valesha met the news with a sharp exhale, a flash of a memory from an unreal world where she sat on a bridge with Chris and another tall, broad blond. Outnumbered and outgunned, trying to avoid capture — and failing. She pushed the tension out of her shoulders, heart ricocheting off her ribs, her focus shifting from the probe to the new guest at their unwanted party. Sienelis: I'll see if I can pull something up. Josett: Who are they heading for, us or the Orions? Johns: Trajectory looks like it's… ::Consulting the computer rendering of the space available on their sensors, Chris frowned.:: In between us and them. Are they expecting us to launch a broadside or what? Bear leaned over, his hand running across the back of Valesha's chair as he peered at the operational targeting display, giving the outline of the ship in question. While it looked like another blockade runner, there was something distinctly Starfleet about it. Groaning, he palmed his face. O. Marshall: It's a cutter. Knowing our luck, it's the f— Cutter: =/\= USS Azetbur, this is CMC Cassowary. ::A tenor voice as cool as a cucumber rode the communication waves like a surfer.:: Welcome to the Shoals. Can we lend you a hand here? =/\= O. Marshall: —king Cassowary. Sienelis: Friends of yours? O. Marshall: Would you believe me if I said no? Johns: Easily. The blond scowled across the bridge toward the Russian, who looked to his side and grinned to Lena with a flicker of his eyebrows. Unfortunately for the blond, his wife was entirely on the side of whatever was most amusing, and grinned along with the dancer. Bear exhaled a gruff noise of frustration as he turned to Valesha with what could only be described as a measure of pleading in his eyes. O. Marshall: Just don't mention me. CMC Cassowary: =/\= Azetbur, is everything alright over there? Do you need assistance? =/\= Sienelis: What's it worth? A peal of laughter erupted from the pilot, still flying as though the legions of multiple hells were biting at their heels. Valesha grinned, just a little, and raised her eyebrows toward the blond. She hadn't expected her question to meet with Lena's approval, but having spent some time with the woman, the Romulan realised she really should have. Josett: I'm so proud of you right now. O. Marshall: This is an absolute betrayal, you realise. Johns: I don't think she cares all that much somehow. Rolling his lips in on themselves didn't stop the laughter shaking at Chris' shoulders as he tried, so damn hard, not to crease up. On the other side of the Russian's wife to be, Bear looked as though he might just pop a blood vessel in his temple, considered how much of a pain it would be to finish the journey to Ketar V with Romulan and Russian confined to torpedo casings, and relented. O. Marshall: Fine. What do you want? Valesha grinned at him, almost feeling sorry for the outnumbered blond. Almost. With mirth glittering in emerald eyes, she offered him a lackadaisical shrug and a careless answer. It was entirely the wrong time to be having a conversation like this, inappropriate to delay a distress call to negotiate terms with a fellow officer, and yet there she was — and being egged on by Chris and Lena, no less. Sienelis: Oh, let's just call it a favour for now. CMC Cassowary: =/\= Azetbur, this is the CMC Cassowary. Do you need assistance? Failure to communicate will result in intervention. =/\= The screens beneath Chris' fingertips lit up and he bent back in his chair to look over at the blond and his Romulan staring one another down over less than metre. Blue and green in a battle for the win, while their communications and sensors glared with the obvious transmission. Johns: While Lena's driving it like she stole it, ::said with a quick flash of a cheeky grin to the pirate, receiving an equally cheeky one in return,:: the cutter is powering up weapons as we speak. They're targeting our shield generators. O. Marshall: I see our time spent on the Scream had some affect. ::He tongued his cheek, not surprised, and considering who he'd married, not entirely unamused by it either.:: Fine. A favour it is. With a quiet snicker, she shooed him out of sight of the communication screen. Once clear, Valesha opened the channel with a tap of a finger, while Chris sat back to watch, the thrill of the chase in his heart, quite enamoured with his wife to be baiting the Bear, as it were. Sienelis: =/\= Cassowary, this is Lieutenant Sienelis of the Azetbur, we could use the assist. =/\= A moment of silence came from the other end as the Marshal did a double take to the screen, then looked down at the display screen beneath his hands. Dressed in the gear of the CMC, with the badge to go with and gold lapels shining, the dusty-haired older Trill officer looked back up at the screen, raising a questioning eyebrow and the Shoals twang to his accent. CMC Cassowary: =/\= Lieutenant, has Starfleet uniform standards changed recently, or am I just behind the times with what you crazy kids are wearing these days? =/\= Valesha squinted at the man, then looked down at herself, an olive flush rushing across her cheeks as she remembered she was sitting there in her pyjamas. She resisted the temptation to pull her robe across her vest, and instead ran a hand through tousled dark hair, smoothing it out. Sienelis: ::Flatly,:: =/\= Pirates have no respect for sleeping schedules, it seems. =/\= CMC Cassowary: =/\= That they do not, ma'am. ::He made some adjustments off screen and nodded to his co-pilot.:: Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis, assigned to the USS Gorkon. ::He paused for a second before frowning to her.:: You've got authorization to use this craft? =/\= Johns: Sure we do. ::Her Russian arched an eyebrow over to her, a smile curving on his lips.:: This time. Valesha's expression had pulled into confusion at the Marshal's question. Realisation broke, and then with a downturn to her lips, a sigh and slump of her shoulders, she nodded. Loose threads of her reputation had made their way out as far as the Shoals, it seemed. Maybe one day she'd shake them off. Sienelis: =/\= Yes. =/\= He nodded on the other end, satisfied with the answer and if he could shuffle papers, or ruffle his moustache he would do. The Marshal nodded to the copilot and leaned into the arm of his chair, epaulettes gleaming under the lights in gold, and Bear huffed a chuckle that the only one of them wearing a uniform - four Starfleet officers notwithstanding - was a Shoals Marshal. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, PO Johns, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part XIII) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) CMC Cassowary: =/\= You can tell your pilot to move away, we'll take this from here. Where are you heading to? =/\= Johns: Along the Mother Road to the outpost past Meridian. From there, we're deviating through the Shoals to Ketar V. That's the course we were on before they showed up. Valesha glanced toward Lena, who grinned back, finding the whole situation (as ever) amusing. The stomach-lurching shifts of the Azetbur smoothed out, evasive manoeuvres settling into a more stable flight path. The Romulan gestured toward her partner, his answer a neat summary of their intentions without excessive details. Sienelis: =/\= Did you catch that? =/\= CMC Cassowary: =/\= Fully acknowledged, Azetbur, thanks for the update. If you send us your signature, we'll make a note on our logs and transmit it to the CMC. They should keep an eye on you from here on out. Make sure you report to the post on Ketar V when you get there. =/\= Visibly fed up with the line of questions, Bear groaned audibly and wiped his hand across his face, gripping his blond beard at his chin as the thought of being face to face with the law enforcement of the Shoals sent spirals through his spine. On the other side, Chris shook his head at the impatient blond, and transmitted their signature information over to the Marshal service as he flicked an eyebrow to Lena. Johns: And there I was, starting to get used to the g-force keeping me in the chair. Josett: I'd offer to do something else to keep you pinned to your chair, but there are members of the audience who might take exception. She grinned at the Russian, while Valesha's emerald gaze flicked skyward, Bear's frustration and annoyance echoing through her — albeit for different reasons. Looking back toward Marshal Shiny Shoulders on screen, she ran her hand a hand through her hair and suppressed a sigh. Meanwhile, Chris flicked an eyebrow to the hybrid pirate with an amused grin, receiving an equally unamused glare from the bearded blond. How the tables turned. Sienelis: =/\= If that's all, we'll sign off. Thanks for the help, Cassowary. =/\= CMC Cassowary: =/\= Keep your nose clean, Azetbur. Cassowary out. =/\= The communication line ceased as the former Starfleet ship drifted off their starboard bow, heading for the Orion ship and probe deviating away from them at a steep angle. Valesha grumbled to herself and Chris slumped back into his chair as his hand wrestled through growing tresses, quite relieved their derriere remained unmolested by Orion torpedoes. Across the small bridge, Bear rocked up out of his with a gruff exhale. It was only then Chris realised the blond wasn't wearing a shirt. Johns: That, ::he shot a finger bullet at his beautiful Romulan,:: was a close call. O. Marshall: Too close. The blond found his hips beneath all the layers of manliness, clear definition between pectoral muscles showing with a little too much flair to be anything other than a dominance tactic and Chris looked over at Valesha in her nightclothes, the Russian's eyebrow escaping toward his scruffy hairline. Johns: I think this is perfect swap over time, don't y— O. Marshall: Over my dead body. Sienelis: ::Mildly,:: Don't you owe me a favour? Bear stared at her incredulously for a second, eyebrow tilting upwards. Valesha graced him with a smug, lazy smile, her eyebrows performing a victory twitch. In the background, Chris rolled his lips between his teeth to stop from chuckling. Lena was not so circumspect and chortled to herself — whatever the outcome of their negotiation, she was going back to bed. O. Marshall: Of all the things you could ask for, of all the favours I could grant, this is what you want to spend it on? Sienelis: A few hours in bed with my Russian and the bonus of irritating you. Sounds like a win-win scenario to me. ::She paused, just long enough to seem like she was intent on that course of action, then grinned.:: Go on, get lost. Let the universe imprint on, ::she circled her palm toward his bare chest, echoing words last spoken on the Labyrinth's Scream,:: your canvas. Remember this day, when Valesha ir-Jhianhre t'Sienelis was merciful. O. Marshall: Thank you, kindest of Romulan empresses. ::Hard as he tried, he couldn't be angry with the woman and a brief tick of a smile crested one side of his lips. He wasn't even sure if Romulans had emperors. Glaring blue eyes pinned on Chris.:: Try not to [...] it up. The Russian saluted from his forehead, dramatically over the top, accompanied by the grin he'd failed to suppress at Valesha's antics as he settled back into the chair. Once they were back on course from Lena's creative flying mechanics, it'd be coffee and kicking back again. Johns: Understood, Captain. Bear pointed two fingers at his eyes then toward Valesha as he scowled through barely contained amusement, before he bent down beside Lena's ear, whispered something probably scandalous with a pressed kiss to her hybrid cheek, and left. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, PO Johns & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part XIV) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) The doors hissed shut behind him and with a lingering grin, the Romulan slumped back in her chair. She spun around to face Chris, poking him in the knee with an outstretched foot. He grinned at her, his hand dropping from messing up the scruff of his growing hair. Sienelis: Nothing ever goes smoothly, does it? Johns: Honestly, I'd be concerned if it did for once. Snagging her foot in his hand, her ballerino applied pressure to the points across her dancer's arch and ankle, turning enough in his chair to balance said ankle on his thigh. Skin soft and light as always, the thrum of green blood coursing through her veins, visible on the top of her foot; skin he ran his fingertips over gently as his thumbs pushed and massaged into muscle and sinew. His head rolled to the side and he looked at Lena in the pilot's seat, making her adjustments and doing whatever it was pilots of small craft did. Johns: That was some fancy flying, pirate. ::An exhaled chuckle lifted through him as he grinned.:: Drawing out that conversation with the Cassowary any longer and they'd have thought we stole it. With intentional flair, Lena entered the last of the commands on her console and stood up. A stretch rippling through her from head to toe, as though she were some big cat finally finished basking in the sun. She grinned at the pair, amber eyes sparkling, and put her hands on her hips in a fashion not entirely unlike a certain tall blond, minutes ago. Josett: Got the blood flowing, didn't it? ::She chuckled, a mischievous twist to her smile.:: I'll leave you two alone. Don't do anything I wouldn't do. The hybrid made for the door, curls bouncing, bare feet padding across the bridge carpet, the healing bruise on her thigh peeping out from under the hem of her (or more likely, Bear's) t-shirt as she walked. A scrape with piracy and peril and her mood wasn't the least bit dimmed, cheerful and irreverent as always. Valesha wondered how she managed it — if the woman genuinely took all the twists and turns of life in her stride, or if she used her cheerfulness as armour. Either way, the Romulan rolled her eyes, calling over her shoulder. Sienelis: That doesn't eliminate much. Spinning her heel and completing her journey off the bridge in reverse, Lena grinned at the pair as she passed through the doors, arms wide. Josett: Such is the wonder that is me. And then she was gone, leaving Chris and Valesha alone, just as they had been before the untimely arrival of pirates and colonial marshals. The Romulan sank down a little further in her chair, exhaling a long breath and wiggling her toes under her partner's ministrations. Taking that as a sign, Chris threaded his fingers between said Romulan toes and flexed the upper part of her foot back and forth, amusement and affection clear on his features beneath the scruff of his beard. Johns: I can't believe you answered a Marshal communication in your pyjamas. Sienelis: The things I do for that man. ::She breathed out a quiet groan, though it was unclear whether it was her own inner monologue or the foot massage that prompted it.:: What are the odds when we get to Ketar V I'll already be "The Romulan in PJs"? Johns: Considering he says he's filing a report, I wouldn't be surprised. ::His thumb moved in circles along her arch as he kicked up his feet onto the console, crossing one leg over the other.:: Starfleet does like to do the uniform shuffle every so often. Maybe they'll think they're reverting back to those heady days of skants. Valesha's dark eyebrows lifted and she tilted her head to the side, mossy eyes travelling along the full length of his outstretched legs from toes to hip. She exhaled a sound of contentment, grinned, and her gaze flicked back up to meet his. Sienelis: I could live with that. Chris' hazel eyes sparked as he grinned in response. A rare blush sparked from beneath his sternum and crept up around his throat as he looked at her, followed the line of her leg, dropped his head to the headrest of the chair and felt those striking matches. Being under her gaze shot a thrill through his spine and kicked his heart around inside his ribs. Johns: Are you objectifying a subordinate, Lieutenant? Sienelis: Every day. Johns: Is that so? ::His eyebrow curved and Chris ran his fingers underneath her foot. Her leg twitched, and she breathed a laugh.:: Is it Peek? He has incredible thighs. Sienelis: It's his thighs you look at, is it? Johns: Have you seen them? ::He made a shape with his hands like that of a side of ham.:: That foundation support there for his lifts, for his jetes and pirouettes. I could train him. His tongue poked into his cheek as he thought about it — Rob would definitely make for a more astute student than the Betazoid, at least he'd listen — then what Valesha said clicked with him and eyes brimming with [...] suspicion slid to her. Johns: Why, what do you look at? Sienelis: I only have eyes for you, my sahe'lagge. Hand over her heart, she delivered the statement with just the right touch of Romulan haughtiness and affectionate sincerity. The only thing ruining it was the stubborn, impish grin she couldn't quite banish, pulling at the corner of her lips and creasing the corners of her eyes. Johns: Well saved, h'levreinnye. A flick of the eyebrow at the term of endearment, a flutter in his belly like the beating of butterfly wings, and her betrothed echoed her grin with the ever strengthening pronunciation of his Romulan vocabulary. Running his fingers up the back of her ankle, Chris nodded to the console with Russian devilry. Johns: Autopilot is on. Valesha held his gaze, her grin slowly returning as mischief sparkled in emerald. Her gaze flicked toward the bridge door, back to him, and then she pushed herself out of her chair to join him in his. Arms around his shoulders, back in his lap, she stole a lingering kiss, heat spreading over her shoulders and curling down her spine in defiance of the ship's cool air. Sienelis: Shall we lock the door? Johns: Wiser words never spoken. As he drew her in for another kiss, the spark ignited like fireworks shooting into a dark sky. His hands ran over her hips, one up her back beneath her vest touching warm Romulan skin, the other reaching blindly for the console controls. The door latched into place, a tiny alert sounding as the light colour changed, not that either of them noticed as the Azetbur slipped through space and stars, lost as they were in one another. fin ---- Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis Science Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0 & Lieutenant Orson Marshall Intelligence Officer USS Gorkon G239304JM0 & PO First-Class Christopher Johns Operations Officer USS Gorkon G239304JM0 & Lieutenant (JG) Lena Josett Intelligence Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  16. One of the things I particularly like to see in SIM is consequences. How the actions of an adventure or a mission affect the characters and the way they grow up with it. It is even better if we can see how the crew helps each other to overcome traumas and problems and how the officers in command are humans beneath all the glamour of command, with their flaws, their weaknesses and their need of others. All this can be read in this JP and is just a tiny example of the good work and wonderful skills of its writers. In this shoreleave there are some great JPs and I had a hard time choosing one of them, but I think this one stands out a lot. Good job guys! @Tony (Kells) @Geoffrey Teller @Alex Brodie
  17. (( Bunker under Predator Paddocks, Asteroid Trueno, Bratax System )) Quinn Reynolds had crept up on them -- or perhaps he just wasn't listening -- with a grace that should not have been surprising. She rounded the corner with one hand wrapped around her chest, shoulders hunched. Splattered in mud from head to foot, soaked with rain, sweat, injured and bleeding, having been in an overturned car and then chased down by a dinosaur, yet seemingly escaped mostly unharmed. Emphasis on the mostly. Reynolds was probably in the worst shape that any of the three Tans had ever seen her in. He couldn't imagine her looking worse; she seemed as though she'd been thrown in a tumble-drier full of rocks, pulled out by wild horses who had subsequently dragged her through the galaxy's muddiest paddock and unceremoniously dumped in a drinking trough. Her hair stuck to her uniform, weighed down with mud, the dark brown making stark contrast against her skin. Her arm wrapped around her side. He could, once more, smell blood, a new source that made his nostrils twitch. For someone he'd never spoken to before, nor seen much of during the ride in the car except for a view of the back of her head, hair blown about by the breeze, she was as much a stranger as to him as she was an old, familiar friend. Someone who had been there for him during... (( FLASHBACK: Sickbay, USS Garuda, Six Years Ago )) A light chemical push. Alleran felt it as a real, physical thing; an intrusion into his sleep, forcing him awake. Forcing him to live. Open his eyes. It wasn't truly living with half a mind -- unjoined Trills were perfectly capable at any task they set their minds to, really -- but after years of having two brains, it certainly felt that way. The world was sluggish, dull, and had a strange unrealness to it; as though the dream, and the Otherplace was the reality. A shadowy figure stood above him. Alleran's eyes had not yet adjusted to the light. Alleran: Mum? Reynolds: Not quite. Oh. Through the fog came emotions; strong and raw. Embarrassment was one of them. Alleran: Hey. Perched on a stool by his bedside, she smiled at him, an expression worn and ragged around the edges. She looked pale and tired, strands of mousy brown hair falling limply about her face. Reynolds: How are you doing? Alleran: Oh... you know. Stuff. ::he managed a lopsided smile:: Dying. ::She tried to reply, but there seemed no words to express what she was feeling. Instead, she breathed a deep sigh, and nodded.:: Alleran: It's not so bad, really. I dunno. I'd always imagined I'd go in a... some kind of crash. Something dramatic. Lots of fire. Not like this. I don't think anyone really imagines it this way either. Just sort of... slowly fading away, and then one day, falling right over. Not everyone gets a dramatic send-off, I suppose. Reynolds: ::Quietly,:: No, they don't. He smiled -- strongly, more genuinely now. Alleran: I'm glad you're here. From the academy to the end, huh. There's a... pleasant symmetry to all this. I like symmetry. Reynolds: It's symmetrical for you, Alleran. Me, I just get to watch another friend die. Her voice cracked toward the end, and she looked away, taking a slow, deep breath. Yeah. He had buried friends too. It was never easy. Alleran: Yeah. She shook her head, looking back at him and forcing a smile. Reynolds: I'm going to miss you. That felt good. To know he was going to be missed. Alleran: I’m going to miss you too. A lot. ::a pause:: And I mean, well... I’ll still be here. Kind of. It’s complicated. Reynolds:: :She nodded.::I can imagine. I have a hard enough time just dealing with my own crap, let alone a couple of extra lifetime's worth from other people. Alleran: It would depend on the wants and desires of the new host, although it won’t be just up to them. There’s a whole host of emotions and feelings in there all mixed in together. Sometimes there’s a really desperate need to reconnect with the past host’s life -- something that’s very problematic and fraught with all manner of risk -- and sometimes... well. Sometimes they just want to get away from it all. I can’t promise anything. Reynolds: Is there anything you need? Anyone I can contact for you? It sounded really stupid, but Alleran had really only one request. Alleran: Make sure you come to my funeral. It sounds stupid, but Marlee -- my previous host -- well, she was something of a bitter workaholic misanthrope, which is easy for me to say now that she’s killing me. Accordingly, well, it was pretty empty when they put her in the ground. Couple of her old students. Some distant family members there because that was expected of them, just boredly waiting for the service to end. She winced. He reconsidered. Alleran: Actually, hell with that. No service. Just a big party. Lots of booze. Fun. Reynolds: One drunken wake on short notice. I'm sure I can organise that. He managed a little laugh. Alleran: Thanks. I’ll be kicking around for a while yet. Couple of days, maybe, on the outside. She nodded, her gaze dropping. He seemed to remember something. Alleran: Oh. And if the new host gets here, make sure that you check that they’re not crazy first. Who knows who they’ll send this far out. They might not have that many options. Reynolds: You might not want me vetting potential hosts. ::Her smile briefly returned.:: I suspect none of them would be good enough. That actually made him feel really, so much better about the whole thing. Just the idea that someone was going to look out for him. Alleran: Okay. I know you’re busy. I think I’m good here. Biobed’s nice and comfy. ::he smiled:: Take care, okay? I’ll be back soon... more or less. Reynolds: Call me, if you need anything. Anything at all, alright? Alleran: Yeah. Will do, for sure. She tried to say something else as she slid off the stool -- a goodbye, perhaps -- but for the second time in short while, words failed her. Instead, her hand found his, and after a brief, firm squeeze, she was on her way. (( Present )) It was not his memory. The symbiont had been extracted by that point. Unlike every other interaction they'd had, the words they had shared at that moment, on Alleran's deathbed, were something of a mystery to him. Serren had only the third-hand knowledge that she had seen him post-extraction as his body was dying, that they had talked as long as Federation medical science had let them, and that the decks of the Garuda had shaken with one hell of a wake. The rest... The rest was now only known to Quinn Reynolds. A little piece of Alleran Tan that she, and only she, possessed. From the first moment he had been joined, the symbiont had absorbed the entire life experience of Alleran Mapak until that point. The symbiont knew Alleran as a baby. Saw him grow up. The symbiont had felt its first host, Marlee Tan, die and seen her body with Alleran's eyes. It knew everything he knew, everything he had ever known. For every other moment since had been a wiggly little tape recorder in his belly, dutifully noting down everything he saw and said, everything he'd felt, and making those experiences part of its own -- etching them into the permanent history of the Trill species, a living cultural artifact of his species. Trill understood the value of memories. The Tan symbiont had so many, a lifetime of memories in Marlee, and everything Alleran had known was now part of Serren. Each was precious. He had memories of Idril Mar, that bold Trill Engineer turned Fleet-Captain. Of Jhen Thelev, that tea drinking mentor and idol, who once let him sit in the command chair of the USS Tiger. Of Karynn Brice, the friend who had helped him through so much pain. Of Danny Wilde, his friend on the Independence-A. Of Della Vetri, the bold Trill Captain for much of his career, who he missed so much. Of Kira Venroe, who he had loved so hard for so long, and entertained wild notions of getting married to. Of T'Lea, the fiery half-Romulan who he thought of as a dear friend. Of sh'Shar, that idiot Andorian he felt so strangely about. Of Tenzin Zhou, the Trill who might well, one day, have become Tenzin Tan. Of Doctor Skyfire, who had tried so hard to save Alleran's life. Of Tracey Townson, the one-handed Canadian who could kick harder than anyone he'd never known. Of Zinna, who had helped him adjust to life on DS-17. Of Toni Turner and Tallis Rhul, friends on the Ronin, who had helped him on Devinon V. Of David Whale, who had sheared off one of the nacelles on the Indy during Operation: Bright Star. Of S'Acul, his helmsman friend and drinking buddy. Of Marari, the half-borg Vaadwaur who had become, in the end, after crossing blades with him more than once... one of his friends. And all of the absolute mountains of everything that had happened with Sidney Riley. The joyous love and a child shared between them, the latter lost, the former turned to bitter ashes. The best of times and the worst of times. Life and love, loss and hate. All dutifully recorded, stored, integrated. And others. Everyone in Alleran's life was shared. From his earliest childhood memories to dying in a turbolift. Every kiss he'd ever shared, every punch he'd thrown, every time he'd ever loved or hated or laughed or cried, recorded forever, an eternal record that could potentially last a thousand years. It would be there long after everyone he had ever known had turned to dust. Those memories were part of Serren now. Everything except those few scant minutes aboard the Garuda. Alleran's death had been the only private conversation that host had ever truly had. Serran hadn't experienced it. Safine hadn't experienced it. Nobody else ever would. Only Quinn. Now here she was. Shorter than he remembered -- Alleran was a foot shorter than Serren, and taller than Safine too -- although not in any way diminished. She still carried the same strength, the same presence, filling a room. He was seeing her now through three sets of eyes, three lives, three opinions, three sets of memories and personalities all with their biases and complications and twists and preferences and tastes and opinions and thoughts. Despite their current predicament, and her current condition, Serren could only think one thing. Quinn Reynolds looked as strong, as brave, as wickedly intelligent, and as blindingly beautiful as the day he had met her. Symbionts had no ears. No eyes. No senses at all. They were just gross worms in a little pouch, nestled in amongst other organs, parasiting nutrients and providing cognitive function in return. In their natural state, they could only communicate through electro-static discharges, transmitting vague emotions and thoughts through the sacred Caves of Mak'ala. They had no eyes. Symbionts couldn't cry. But if they could... Reynolds pressed a kiss to the top of her son's damp head, a simple action that bought him back to the moment. No time to reminisce about the past. About lives lived and gone. There were still stompy-chewy-eat-y things out there. He still had a job to do. Reynolds: A hug? Things must be dire. He tried, so very hard to keep his voice professional, to maintain a business-y air, one that belied the tumultuous writing in his mind. But his voice came out with a little crack in it that betrayed him. Tan: It's... very good to see you again, sir. A sentiment the others might well have shared, but one which, to him, carried with it the weight of a lifetime of friendship. And fortunately, this time, Alleran didn't... betray him as he had with Safine. Quinn was "sir". Safine had called Quinn "ma'am" when they had first met. Because the treacherous worm in her belly, the part of it that was Alleran, had withheld that information. She blamed the neural blocker, of course, but Serren knew better. For some reason, chemical or otherwise, the symbiont had not liked Safine. It liked Serran. Picky little grub. Marshall/Cayne: Response Dylan clung to his mother and Serren could hardly blame her. He gave a little nod the kid's way, just enough to say, you did good, you did real good. Reynolds: I think I have T-Rex scales debossed on my ribs, but otherwise I'm all right. ::Hazel eyes travelled over them.:: What about you three? What's this about someone passing out? Serren smiled Cayne's way. He didn't want to speak for her, but he also understood she was still a bit shakey. Tan: The good doctor was more injured than originally suspected when the vehicle rolled over. She lost consciousness for a moment, but not to worry, Marshall's patched her up. Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds: Response Reynolds: We have to move, but we can take it slow for a while. There's some doors and a crossroads up ahead, helpfully without any signage whatsoever. If this is an emergency bunker, there should be some supplies and if we're particularly lucky, a map. Let's see what we can find? Tan: My thoughts exactly, sir. Mister Pointy and I will take the lead, with your permission. Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response A moment was spent picking up their medical supplies, and he threw his bloody, mud-splattered jacket over his shoulder. With the spear held snug in both hands, keeping an alert eye as he moved into the indicated corridor, Serren carefully stepped through the dank, musty tunnels, glad to be ahead. It meant he couldn't smell the blood. Forward, forward. Carefully but not too slowly, Serren strode through the corridors at a somewhat-slower than normal pace. They didn't have a dinosaur at their back any more, and they were all various states of wounded. He had landed on something, or someone, who had cushioned his fall. Now the adrenaline had faded, he suspected it was Cayne. A minor little stab of guilt, one best distracted with a snide comment. He turned and regarded Quinn over his shoulder, the ghost of a smile on his face, as though sharing an in-joke. Tan: So. "Frank Reynolds", huh. ::beat:: Really? Reynolds: Response He only smiled and went back to his job. Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds: Response It wasn't far until they came upon a door, as promised. Serren leaned in to inspect it. Ferengi had been known to sometimes booby-trap their precious goods or private areas, but rarely their unsigned escape bunkers. Still, he gave it a once over, just to be sure. Not that there was much to see. A steel door, flecked with rust, and a glowing pad beside it. Tan: Ready? Anyone: Response He touched the open button. The door creaked and shuddered, as though it had not been opened in some time, then slid into the floor, retracting away with the high-pitched whine of metal on metal. The corridor beyond stretched into the promised crossroads. A passage to the left, to the right, and straight ahead, that one similarly with a door. Serren looked to the ranking officers. Tan: Which way, sirs? Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response Nodding his acknowledgement, Tan headed to the left, speartip leading the way. The tunnel curved at right angles, as though navigating around some subterranean obstacle--maybe a huge rock that was too big to move--then it broadened, coming out to a small area with two sets of bunk beds built into the corridor, and a number of small cupboards, similarly unmarked. A quick once-over found nothing amiss. Tan: Clear. Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response Something caught his nose. More blood. But this was different... older. Rustier. It did not carry the scent of any of their group. Tan: Wait. Wait... Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response He crouched by one of the bunks, pulling back the sheets. The lower sheet was stained with dark Ferengi blood, right about where the heart would be on a person sleeping on it. The centre of the stain was burned in, as though someone had shot an energy weapon right-- Tan flinched and looked away. At least there were no bodies. But that did raise the question... where did the bodies go? Tan: I think this is a...medical station. Of some sort. Or possibly a rest area for the staff, I don't know. Either way something terrible happened here. ::he thought for a moment:: Still. Could be something useful in those cupboards, though? Marshall/Cayne/D. Reynolds/Reynolds: Response -- Ensign Serren Tan Security/Tactical USS Gorkon O238704AT0
  18. (( Courtroom 407, Starfleet Judiciary Facility, Andoria )) Skepus’ eyes narrowed as he gazed down his nose at the defendant on the stand. It was uncommon for a defendant to sit on the witness stand, but as Skepus had learned in the weeks prior, this particular defendant was easily led. His own counsel had even (unwittingly) expressed exasperation at their client’s bellicose and short-sighted desire to never appear weak. Aria sat back examining and reexamining their evidence, and it was a mountain full. Skepus: Admiral Fraser, just so we’re clear, you maintain that you did not order *anyone* to alter the logs of the Constitution? The round-faced man on the stand had become quite incensed and red at the line of questioning. Fraser: No, I don’t know what you’re talking about. Skepus: You don’t know about the altered logs of the Constitution? Fraser: I’m not familiar with that ship. I hear the captain is a nasty woman, though. Skepus raised an eyebrow and looked back over his shoulder at Aria. The two had somewhat improved their relationship by working on the same team for once, instead of against each other. He looked to her to see if her face gave any hint of how he might proceed. All it revealed was frustration. Aria’s hands were balled into fist under the table. She was thankful that she hadn’t chosen that moment to take a drink. She could feel her blood pressure rising and her heartbeat thumped in her ears. oOThat lying, conniving Oo Her stomach was doing flips at the waves of arrogance pouring off from Fraser. It didn’t take an empath to know he was right proud of himself. She was seeing red. Skepus turned back around toward the Admiral and exhaled. Skepus: Sir, your own logs show you personally signed the orders for the Constitution to investigate Xatrac City. Of course, your logs reflect different orders than were sent to the Constitution, but nonetheless– Fraser: I don’t recall that. I sign lots of orders. Skepus: Are you saying you do not read the orders you sign? Fraser: No, no, I read them but you know you read them and sign them and that’s it they’re gone. Aria cringed. That hole was getting mighty deep. His own incompetence might do him in. The man spoke without punctuation, as if he were unfamiliar with the concept. Skepus pursed his lips and clasped his hands behind his back. He turned to the bench. Skepus: Your Honor, I request a recess with my partner to discuss a matter of the case. The judge silently nodded. She had been reticent the entire case, merely watching. He returned to Aria, with only the hint of flames in his eyes. Fraser was infuriating! Maddox: Thank the Four for that. I cannot take another minute of his…. His arrogant self-congratulatory behavior. Be thankful you are a touch telepath and not an empath. Skepus chuckled. Skepus: Indeed. But what do we do about him? Maddox: I have an idea. Skepus nodded in approval. Maddox: He is so arrogant and thinks he can do no wrong, get him talking about his assistant. The one that tampered with the logs,. ::scaning the files:: Lt. Dolen. Eventually, at least likely, he’ll start on about how he could have done it better if he had just done it himself. A wry smile cracked Skepus’ face. Skepus: You’re devious. Maddox: I think I’ve been working too closely with you. You’ve rubbed off on me. Aria shook her head as Skepus staled back to the floor. At least this time they had a plan. Skepus had already returned to stalk back to the floor and resume questioning when he hung his head and shook it, smiling. She certainly had a way with words. Truth was that working together felt good. Felt damned good, and reminded him about what he saw in her in the first place. “Rekindled” might be too strong a word, but he felt that they were more than mere friends. She was someone he could trust. Skepus: Admiral, let’s set aside orders for the moment. What can you tell us about Lieutenant Dolen? Fraser: Good officer, works hard. Skepus: He was identified, tried, and convicted of tampering with official Starfleet orders and records. Fraser: :: defiant :: So? What’s that got to do with me? Skepus: Sir, he served with you for the past 12 years. Fraser: Ok. Skepus: You have no comment on his conduct? Fraser: No. Skepus: He implicated you, which is why you stand trial today. He says that you ordered him to make those changes. He produced evidence :: motioning to the display :: such as extemporaneous memos claiming you ordered him to “make it go away.” Fraser: What he does is his business. Typically, the prosecution is disincentivized from screaming in primal fury in the courtroom. So Skepus took a step back, took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Time to let Aria have a go with him. He walked over to her and leaned in, to speak in soft tones. Skepus: I cede him to you, Aria. Maddox: Gee thanks. Just what I never wanted ::she chuckled:: Skepus: Glad to be of service. :: He swung around the desk and sat next to her. :: His game had always been to get people talking, peek through their words to see the truth, provoke them into admitting something… Fraser’s tactic was so blunt and unbecoming that Skepus couldn’t get anywhere. Skepus had begun to understand his error: not everyone is decent at heart. Aria took one last moment to scan her files for anything useful before she stood. He was prepped and ready for any material they threw at him that was trial related. It was time to shake the ground beneath his feet. Time to get him unsteady. Aria stood gracefully and walked to the floor where Skepus had just been occupying. Maddox: I read somewhere that you are close to retirement, surely you have had an long and interesting career. Fraser: Young lady, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve achieved. Maddox: I’m sure that’s true. Do you mind if we speak hypothetically for a moment? Surely, your experience might help shed light on a situation that is most unfortunate. The round-faced man’s features softened a bit. Fraser: You ask and I’ll have it solved before you’re done asking the question. Maddox: Well, then let’s give this a go. Say we have a Starfleet Admiral, who is close to retirement, and he sees a culture that has a rare thing, let’s say a gas. He knows immediately that it has an immense value, but it isn’t without risks. So he sends a ship to negotiate a possible trade deal, but it goes horribly wrong in ways he never could have known… what should he do? His career and name are in jeopardy if word gets around that he signed off on it. His demeanor shifted. Fraser: Well, I wouldn’t know anything about all that. You know, I heard the Constitution captain broke all sorts of rules. Maddox: We were talking hypothetically. Though, it’s interesting that you felt it was about you. Fraser: You can't prove that. Maddox: Prove what? That we were talking hypothetically and you made it about you? Actually, yes I can since there is a room full of witnesses. Anyway, you said you could solve it, so what would you do? Fraser: I– look, I think i’m just about done being on the stand. Maddox: What would you do if your name was on the orders? He recoiled in his seat. He wasn’t used to be addressed like that. Fraser: I don’t have to answer that. Maddox: What would you do if your name was on the orders? Fraser: :: angry :: I’d–I’d– Maddox: ::louder and sternly:: What. Would you do. If your name was on the orders? Fraser: :: shaking, beet red, and stamping his feet :: Change them! Change the orders! I’d change the damned orders, ok?! Skepus was wide eyed. She’d gotten to him far faster than he thought possible. Maddox: ::Calmly:: I’ll raise you and give you one better. What about having someone else change them? Fraser: What? Maddox: Why would an Admiral get his hands dirty, unless… Fraser: Unless what! Maddox: How do you go in and change ship logs Admiral? Fraser: I, well see. You need to address the computer to alter the, er, identity of the date, and… Maddox: You don’t actually know do you? Fraser: :: thinking he was making a point :: Exactly. Which is why I couldn’t have changed the orders! Maddox: But Lieutenant Dolen could. You worked with him for 12 years. You knew what he was capable of. You were his direct Commanding Officer. Your wish was his command. “Make it go away”. Did you order Dolen to do it for you? Fraser: Wish I could make you go away. :: Standing up :: I’m done. Maddox: Answer the question and I’m gone. Fraser: No. :: Be bent over and pushed open the half-door, and moved to return to his seat. :: Skepus watched closely, his hand covering his mouth as he propped his chin up. Maddox: Your Honor, I wasn’t finished with the Defendant. A bailiff looked to the judge for orders. The judge, turned to Aria and Skepu, looking inquisitively. Skepus motioned to Aria to come over to him. Aria saw Skepus and complied, waltzing over like it was just a casual day in the park rather than the court room… just to irritate Fraser. Skepus: Let him sit back down. I think we got everything we could hope for from him. Plus he looks like an absolute ass. Maddox: Do you think it's enough? Skepus: I’m not sure. :: His gut said yes, but he couldn’t trust it anymore after ‘Rajel’ :: But we still have Dolen and the medical reports of the Admiral’s psych workup. Maddox: I can keep grilling him. I can serve him Medium well or well done, whichever you prefer. Skepus: I’d rather him burnt to a crisp. :: Looking her in the eye and placing his hand on hers. :: I know you could. But let’s let him cook himself. Maddox: ::addressing the Judge:: Actually, Your Honor, the prosecution requests a recess. The judge’s eyes darted back and forth between the defendant and the prosecution. Before nodding to a bailiff. Bailiff: Judge Riva agrees to a recess of two days. The defense would be wise to remind the defendant of the rules and regulations of this courtroom. The judge nodded in approval of the Bailiff’s words. In a short while, they had collected their things and left the courtroom. ((Flashback, Trial Prep Federation v Fraser)) It looked like it was shaping up to be a working dinner. Aria had spent all day trying deperately to consolidate the notes that she and Skepus had kept during the Rajel trial. It was a mess. His notes were all along the lines of “Jalana violated this general order” “Her crew’s incompetence…”. Her notes were the only to contain any notion of what actually happened. And it didn’t really help them now. Maddox: Did you gather ANY evidence for the trial or did you just bully people and leak things to the press about me? Skepus: *Excuse me,* I had a job to do and I did it to the best of my ability. Lot of good that did me. Maddox: Yeah, it really paid off I see. Care to add anything or… I don’t know, help me maybe. I have been reading these PADDs all day and have precisely nothing new to add. He was slouched in his chair but straightened up when she jabbed at him. Skepus: I don’t know what you want me to say. I’m helping to organize the notes, aren’t I? Maddox: You are getting a second chance. Act like it. Skepus: Mm. And we’d better not mess this up. Maddox: Then help me read. My head is killing me. He dispondantly picked up a PADD and began scrolling through it, highlighting the important parts of the notes. All of the bravado, the swagger, the confidence… it was all gone. Aria clutched her head in pain, a fresh wave washed over her that felt like she was being stabbed and electrocuted. Maybe she worked too hard, slept too little, but it didn’t explain the pain getting worse. Skepus: :: Looking up and noticing her expression, concerned :: Are you alright? Do you need a doctor? Maddox: I did get it checked, actually. Dr. Spears didn’t find anything amiss; aside from my lifestyle. I am a diagnosed workaholic it seems. Skepus snorted in agreement as he turned his eyes back to the PADD. Skepus: Happens to the best of us. Maddox: Well, I don’t see any other betazoids running around clutching their heads in agony. I have named the headache though Skepus: :: not looking up :: What ignoble title have you given it? Maddox: Skepus. I think it might have earned a last name of Fraser though. Skepus: Yes, this case should be open-and-shut, but did you take a look at his most recent psych report? Maddox: ::sarcastically: No, I was too busy looking at yours. In all honestly, yes I did and it is deeply troubling. Skepus: He sounds like a treat. I suppose they were going to just let him ride to retirement. His service record shows he was a skilled captain in his time. Captained an Ambassador class. Decorated several times over. Maddox: Being a Captain doesn’t make you a saint… in this case it makes you a pompous slimeball. Skepus: Did you see the note about 2364? Maddox: Briefly saw it listed but zoned out. We need food… and sleep. I feel like I’m on a meltdown. Skepus: Just a moment ago you were admonishing me for not working enough. :: beat :: In 2364, he was taken captive by an apparent Romulan splinter group for about a month. From there on out, his psych reports show him unfit for command, and was “promoted” into an obscure desk job. Maddox: Wait, seriously? ::taking the PADD unceremoniously from Skepus’ hands:: That does explain one thing for sure. Skepus: Well, yes, how he got the job. Maddox: No, why he had it out for Jalana. Her sterling career and his desk bound one. Skepus: ::struck with sudden realization:: Motive, or at least more layers to the motive. Maddox: It’s a start surely ::Shaking her head slightly that she was about to admit this:: Good job! Skepus: Maybe we should leave it here for tonight. Get some rest. Maddox: Maybe that’s a good plan. We made some progress tonight. I’ll see you in your office around 0700? TBC Lt Commander Aria Maddox Starfleet Legal Defense Attorney Simmed by Lieutenant Ravenna Carter Medical Officer USS Constitution B C239607RC0 Lieutenant Commander Skepus Special Prosecutor Starfleet As simmed by Lieutenant Lazarus Davis Chief Science Officer USS Constitution-B C239510LD0 (he/him; player & character) “Tis true, ’tis pity, And pity ’tis, ’tis true—a foolish figure” - Polonius (Hamlet, 2.2.100-101)
  19. Lt. Sienelis & Lt. Marshall - Road Trip (Part I) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) Sat in the pilot's chair on the bridge, Bear had angled the ergonomically designed seat back as far as it would go, enough to kick his crossed boots up onto the console. A cup of coffee in his hand held to his chest, his mind was elsewhere as he stared out of the viewscreen, watching the space tunnel created by warp as the yacht sped ever forward through the dark. Memories of the last time he'd done this played on his mind, drumming a beat on his heart like a timpani. Only Lena had been within reach, recently married, indulging in a chunk of wedded hilarity while on their way back to the Gorkon. Scratching the underside of his chin, Bear inhaled heavily, deep chest rising and falling as he listened to the hum of the ship, that rhythmic undulation of the engine underneath, the faint sound of the deflector shield vibrating and pulsing containing them in their own little bubble. What he missed was Lena's voice; singing as she did in that breathy conversational low range, the power behind it, dream-like and beautiful, effortlessly flowing through those atmospheric tones he could listen to for hours. The husband might have received a summons to where his wife was, but he wanted her on his skin and his bones, alone together with no rush in it, wrapped up in one another and taking their time. The door swished open and Bear jumped out of his skin, leaping up from his relaxed composure and straight into what the hell mode, sending his mug of coffee splattering to the floor in a clang of enamel on corrugated metal. He rolled his lips between his teeth, [...]s of beard tickling his skin as he did so, a terse exhale through his nose and looked to the interloper. O. Marshall: Aren't you supposed to be asleep? It looked like she had been; hair askew, a tank top and loose pyjama shorts under a light robe. She took a moment to regard him in his startled predicament with a glimmer of sly amusement in her eyes, rarely failing to find amusement in catching people by surprise. Observation concluded, Valesha padded barefoot toward the replicator at the back of the bridge. Sienelis: I was. Do you want another? O. Marshall: That would be great. ::Enunciating every word, he scooped the mug up from the floor and tossed it up to deft Romulan hands.:: Black, like my heart, with a five percent sucrose factor for the spirit. Bear slumped back down into the pilot's chair as the small scurrying floor cleaner came whizzing out of a slot in the surrounding bridge bulkhead. Within a matter of seconds, the device had cleaned up the spill, beeped a merry tune, and flitted back into the alcove it came from. With a roll of his eyes, Bear groaned. The technically minded Admiral would have some kind of device to clean up after her five-year-old… and swiftly ignored the fact it had to clean up after him. O. Marshall: What's got you up? I'm not due to play the 1812 Overture in your quarters for another few hours. I thought ballet boy would get a kick out of it. He received a scowl for his intentions. A muttered request to the replicator followed by a whirl of energy into matter and the Romulan was walking toward him with a mug in each hand. She handed the black-hearted sunbeard his coffee and planted herself cross-legged in the chair beside him, pulling her robe around her. Hunched over the spices evaporating from her drink, she was tired and she looked it, yet sleep was proving evasive. Sienelis: What's with you two, anyway? You're like a pair of strutting viyssae, hissing at each other every time you catch sight. O. Marshall: Entirely professional reasons. ::Said with a quick flash of a grin as he resumed the position, kicking up his boots to the console, relaxing back, mug on his knee.:: Did he ever tell you how he got that black eye? Sienelis: Not really. ::She shrugged, eyeing him across the floor space between them.:: We'd not long woken up from the Skarbek. We were still trying to figure out if we were friends or strangers at that point. ::Mug held in both hands, she took a sip, tapping her thumbs against the replicated ceramic.:: So how was it your fault, then? A blond eyebrow arched upwards as Bear took a drink from the coffee mug, tilting his head toward his Romulan friend. O. Marshall: What makes you think it was my fault? Sienelis: I've met you. O. Marshall: Point taken. ::He tapped the outside of the cup with a clipped fingernail.:: If you want to get technical about it, it wasn't me; it was Ollie. Your Russian worked out a bit too much and got himself slung in the Brig with me. The Iotian ensured it didn't go any further. One delicious shiner for the trouble. Valesha closed her eyes, a procession of conflicted emotions marching across her face: understanding, anger, resignation. She unclenched her jaw a moment later and ran a hand through her tousled hair, slumping back in the seat and narrowly avoiding slopping hot tea over her hands. No wonder Chris had said nothing at the time, how dare Bear be complicit in the whole thing, the next time she saw that bloody pirate he'd best be grateful that she didn't throw punches herself. Then she sighed, too tired to maintain a temper for any length of time. And what was the point? It was closing on two years since it had happened; there was no changing or undoing it now. Sienelis: That would do it. Bear's lips thinned as he nodded, eyebrows lifting, recalling all too well the events of the evening which ensured his release from the confines of the brig cell, while Chris received a talking to. Looking back at the orchestration of it, he could have intervened, stopped the Russian taking a blow to the face to keep his mouth shut, explained the nuances of keeping his nose out of others' business, but that was hardly as satisfying. O. Marshall: Added to what happened in the brig the second time we were in there together and, ::he sucked in air through his teeth as his head bobbed from side to side,:: turns a simmering grievance to a raging grudge. A quiet, disgruntled noise ground in Valesha's throat, not needing or wanting any reminders of exactly how that scene had played out. The whole affair — from its origins in conspiracy and false accusations to an ending written in a poison which left her sliding into the grave — was a series of events she tried her hardest not to think about. Sienelis: Which you're content to prod. O. Marshall: Not maliciously. He just makes it so easy, especially when you're there. Like a red flag to a bull. ::He chuckled, taking a sip from the mug and shrugged a shoulder up as the mug came back to rest on his knee.:: How are you, anyway? Recovered from your pounding on death's door? Lena's copilot seat still has your fingerprints in the arm. Sienelis: Something to remember me by. ::Her eyebrows twitched upward.:: I'm recovered. If you're going to almost get pollened to death, do it when the Admiral plans shore leave on Earth. You get the finest Starfleet Medical has to offer, and the opportunity to fend off a dozen requests to write papers on your case because apparently Melanth poisoning isn't a thing they get to see very often. O. Marshall: I can't imagine it is, strangely enough, being a wonder product of Romulan assassination. ::He took another drink and his jaw stiffened some, enough to take note it was his teeth clenching.:: I should've seen it coming. That was the kicker he'd carried around with him, even when Valesha had come around and recovered. Taking the case back to their temporary quarters and opening it was asking for issues from the start; then again, a secure and sterile environment with environmental suits were scarce. One couldn't just sling one out of a pocket like a pop-up hologram screen. The bearded one lifted his mug to her. O. Marshall: I'm glad you didn't die. ::Deliberate or not, a note of affection was there.:: I didn't want to have to explain that to everyone. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall & PO Johns - Road Trip (Part II) ((Bridge, USS Azetbur)) The thought of Chris keeping secrets was still spinning around in her head, turning and whirling as the dancer himself did in their studio time. She could understand him choosing not to disclose back then — they had been trying to figure out what they were to one another, and what point was there talking about it months later? — but it had reminded her of other secrets he'd kept. That Christopher Johns was an assumed name, how long he'd held on to a belief instilled under the Moscow sky... Sienelis: "Fired her sarcasm at the wrong person." Simple. Believable. Probable. O. Marshall: Definitely not unlikely. I'll take note for future reference. Supping another mouthful of sweetened black coffee, Bear glanced up at the lights of space in front of them, taking the pair — and the sleeping dancer — toward the Shoals. When he looked back to his shuttle theft partner, the glint of a midnight blue solitaire caught his eye; one with a constellation baked inside, as though a relief of space itself. Settling a little further into his chair, Bear pointed a finger to the band. O. Marshall: I heard you'd got engaged. Going back was worth it after all. Her gaze darted down to the ring, currently worn on its "proper" hand and finger, at least according to the human custom, though she did tend to swap it around when the mood took her. A sliver of frost slipped into her belly, the guilt that it was a promise left unfulfilled because of this very trip. There was nothing in the universe she wanted more than to be Chris' wife — except find her beloved brother. It wasn't as though she was choosing between them, after all. Just prioritising one event over another. Sienelis: It was. ::Her green eyes flicked back up toward him, with a wry glint behind them.:: I heard you got married. O. Marshall: A terrible idea, really. Bear chucked as he echoed Lena's words following his proposal in the [...]pit of her shuttlepod. It was amusing; two people who shouldn't be married — to anyone, let alone one another — but there they were. He moved the ring on his finger in a slow circle with his thumb as he thought about her, then covered the small smile inching onto his lips with a drink from the mug. She knew what she wanted, he knew what he did, and for the time being, it fit. That was all. O. Marshall: Planning the big day? Do I get to wear a big hat and tell everyone how I knew you when you were a Starfleet fugitive? Sienelis: You make that request after cheating me of the opportunity. ::She shot a smirk at him.:: Why did you get married? O. Marshall: Her voice. ::The answer is quick, delivered with a sigh and a small nod.:: She was singing in the [...]pit when I woke up and it was the first time I've ever felt like I wanted to marry anyone. ::His shoulder shrugged up and with the slight realisation he'd been a touch too soft, Bear raised his mug for a drink.:: Her hips are great, too. Sienelis: Yes, the most important trait of a life partner. A fantastic pair of hips. ::She sent the droll barb back, then found a flare of amusement in the irony that she, of all people, said it.:: Though it explains Chris. O. Marshall: If only more species judged by the curve of an iliac crest. Divorce rate would decrease exponentially. ::Drink finished with a loud exhale, Bear looked to Valesha for a long moment, his eyes narrowing just slightly.:: Why are you getting married? Sienelis: Are you really asking me why I'm marrying the man I was pining for while we were risking our lives playing pirates? He smiled with a tilt of his head and ruffle of the blond beard, remembering all too well the forlorn Romulan he had to drag into the shuttlebay and onto the Unicorn, and try not to spontaneously combust under the glare burning through the back of his head. There were things he would do differently if they could; though the way they left wasn't one of them. He still believed, now more firmly than ever, that the sodding Russian would've stopped the universe where it was to get her back if they hadn't sold it like a lover's escape. O. Marshall: Yes, I am. Her ring finger tapped against the ceramic of her mug in a soft chime of a rhythm, ticking away the time as she debated her answer. It seemed obvious enough and she couldn't quite figure out why he wanted to hear it. Sienelis: Because I love him. ::She lifted her shoulders and shook her head.:: I want to be with him. Her answer brought a small smile to Bear's face — not that he'd ever admit it, ever — for the simple knowledge he hadn't hashed it up for them. He had enough riding on his conscience at any given moment, he didn't need their future on there, too. Deciding he'd had enough of thinking about his own feelings for the night, he rolled his shoulders back and exhaled. O. Marshall: And now you're off to pick your brother up in the Shoals. ::His eyebrows flicked up.:: Big changes since we were on the Scream. Sienelis: Doesn't seem like a year ago. ::She thought on that, sipping from her tea.:: I wonder where we'll be in a year from now. The door to the bridge swished open, revealing a tired and barely awake Russian, pyjama pants hung around his waist and hair in a kind of disarray it hadn't seen while short. Weary fingers rubbed the sleep from his eye socket and he looked through bleary eyes at Bear and Vee. Leaning his shoulder against the doorframe, he scratched his stomach. Whatever prejudices he held against the blond one while conscious didn't telegraph to that in-between time of awake and asleep. Johns: Did I… ::He yawned silently but widely into his fist.:: Did I miss the alarm? A faint flush of olive colour crept into the Romulan's cheeks at the sight of her Russian, flicking a scowl toward Bear as if to warn him against comment. Bear, taking the hint, rolled his lips in on themselves and said nothing, though the act of which included his eyes opening a little wider and attention shifting to the viewscreen. A small mercy, but one his friend appreciated nonetheless. Sienelis: No, it's still early. I couldn't sleep. Her Russian nodded slowly, some semblance of life coming back into him bit by bit, but not by much Fingers brushed in his growing fluff of sleep tousled hair. As he spoke, the soft rumble of his tenor sounded broken and gruff through sleepy vocal cords. Johns: Is everything okay? Sienelis: Just one of those nights. She unfolded her legs, rising from the chair, and scooped up Bear's empty mug. Depositing both in the replicator, she padded over to her fiancé and pressed a kiss to his cheek, sliding her hand into his. Chris smiled lazily in return, eyes refusing to open any more than they absolutely had to, and his stubbled cheek nuzzled against her temple. Sienelis: We can go back to bed. Johns: Mmkay. A sleepy hand raised from Chris' shoulder to Bear in the most languid wave anyone could muster and Bear sent one back; a salute of two fingers from his forehead. With a deep sigh as the couple headed out, the blond bearded one threw a grin to Valesha of the absolutely incorrigible as he hummed the 1812 Overture, complete with cannonade in a flourish of composer's hands. Her answer was silent, a finger pointed in warning, eyebrows raised in a death glare. Both vanished from sight a moment later as she tugged her sleepy Russian from the bridge and the door sighed shut behind them. Bear turned back to the helm console and relaxed into the chair, thinking about the next few hours until he could go to bed, and trying not to think about who he wanted to be there. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis & PO Johns - Road Trip (Part III) ((Conference Room, USS Azetbur)) Sat with his dancer's backside perched on the edge of the expansive conference table, in the middle to get a full view of what was taking place outside the ship, Chris gazed out of the observational windows. The huge red freighter — like a massive rectangle of metal and instruments — moved off slowly into space. It didn't bank or turn; just slid away backwards, heading in the other direction as the Admiral's Yacht slipped out from the vibrating wake of the enclosing tractor beam. They'd hitched a ride with one of the Red Carrier cargo ships courtesy of YanCo — for all your conglomerate needs — as it headed out into the Shoals on the Mother Road. Meridian was apparently the destination where the freighter would make a drop off or pick up and return to their location now, at Esperance, where it would once again break out into the regular swim lanes of the galaxy and head back to whence it came. A life sitting at the helm of that empire. What would it be like? For a moment, sitting there, Chris imagined it. Endless nights of parties and hedonism, without a care in the universe for what went on outside of the fashioned bubble. If he questioned any of the beliefs, he would keep quiet, live on the luxury of a family entrenched in everything around the galactic atlas. He'd never have known the sense of adventure that came with an enlistment in Starfleet Academy in his tender formative years, content instead to cruise around on a yacht built for having a good time. Maybe he would've stayed in Russia and carried on dancing for the troupes, seen the new wave in artistic revolution, spent the better part of his years introducing new age techniques or sticking to the old rules. Perhaps he could've one day taken on the roles of a Principal Dancer; twirled around the best Primas of his time, looked longingly into faces of ballerinas as the orchestral music played on, concerto after concerto, each enticing the dancers to act on conjured feelings and emotions. It was no small wonder why their world was rife with broken hearts and unrequited love; each headliner out to get what they wanted and hell hath no fury like a dancer scorned. It felt it like a process of evolution; as though breaking free from that life had come like a blinding flash of inspired thought. Chris took a breath of recycled starship air, considering how different his life would be if he had stayed under the wing of the family, if such journeys like the one he was now standing on the deck of the Azetbur for would have ever taken place, if he'd ever have met Valesha and in what context, if there was a set path in life to follow and he'd just pick it up again at some random point. He wanted to believe that was the case, and as he watched the red freighter move away into the darkness of space — where the whorls and constellations dazzled in an array of colours that only reminded him of the Romulan he shared his life with — Chris allowed himself to. Wherever he was on that journey, in the masses amounts of parallel universes there were out there in timeless mists of spacial entities, there was one where he had stayed behind. With a small smile on his face and a glint in his hazel eyes, the young Russian slipped off the edge of the conference table and headed for wherever his fiancee was. Tension needed a release and tempting her into a dance was the way forward. ((Guest Quarters, USS Azetbur)) The door to the small cabin slid open and the couple stumbled inside, already grinning to one another as though they'd never quite been able to stop. A sweet tang of sweat hung in the air from their drilled routine; their movements on their makeshift dance floor, the close proximity to one another, the rapid ascension of hearts beating fast, deep breaths and flushed faces looking into pupils dilated with the heady sense of want. A need for skin to be on skin, moans swallowed by chasing lips, whispers to entice groans, hands to roam flesh and find one another in the sheets. With a murmur, the door closed. Chris reached for Valesha, his hand slipping to her nape to bring them back together, never content to be too far. Under the edge of her ballet top, his fingers slipped, finding abdominal muscles flexing in exertion. His palms found her waist, then the small of her back, her hands running through his hair and across his shoulders, crashing and pulling, anchoring one another to the moment as each passionate kiss only sent them spiralling further. O. Marshall: =/\= Attention, passengers. This is Captain Marshall speaking. =/\= Chris groaned into Valesha's shoulder, though he didn't move, remaining suspended with his hands climbing her back as the disembodied voice continued from the ceiling. She was less restrained and grumbled a Rihan vendetta, her eyes narrowed and taut. O. Marshall: =/\= We're cruising at an altitude of not very far from Esperance. The temperature is a cool absolute zero, and if you look to your left, you'll see the edge of the Shoals in the distance. All crew please report to the bridge as we're about to experience some turbulence on entry to the station zone and I've only got one pair of hands. Bridge out. =/\= The one-way announcement communication cut off, allowing the sound of laboured breath to fill the air again. Chris dropped his head back to look at the ceiling and, licking lips still tasting like his Romulan, he grinned to Valesha, a sense of humour lingering. Her expression remained flat and unimpressed for a few seconds, then she sighed and shook her head, unable to stop the corners of her mouth ticking upward in turn. Johns: Was it good for you, too? Sienelis: If he survives this trip, it's going to be a miracle. Mood utterly murdered by the blond [...] on the bridge, and dopamine hormones yet to dissipate, Chris smiled in amusement and leaned down to steal a slow kiss from his wife-to-be; a contrast to their breathless embrace of moments before. A small noise of frustration rumbled in her throat as they parted, pinching the fabric of his dance top between forefinger and thumb, pulling it toward her a short distance before letting it fall back into place. Johns: Later? Sienelis: Oh, you can count on it. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall, & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part IV) ((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance)) Much time had passed by since Bear had been on that station, looking through those windows, down at the expansive planet beneath them. The transport hub stuck up out of the surface like a needle and accompanying spinning top, ships coming and going all the time, staying for no longer than they needed to. They'd reached there in less than twenty-four hours, hitching a ride with a cargo transporter, depositing them less than a few hours from the station. This was the Gateway to the Federation, or in their particular case, the gateway to long voyages confined on the Admiral's Yacht. His arms folded across his chest as he looked down on the swirling marble of green and blue, beard fluffing each time his jaw moved from one side to the other as if chewing on something invisible. Mustache moving with every terse exhale. O. Marshall: She said the station, not the planet, right? Valesha twitched into a frown, throwing Bear a look askance. It grew into something else in a few heartbeats; amusement glimmered in her eyes, a corner of her mouth tugged up as the sentiment spread. It was a side of him she'd hardly seen, the heart under the swagger, and she couldn't stop grinning. Sienelis: Who knew that adorably anxious waiting for your wife was a mood you could channel. Narrowing his eyes at her, he shook his head with a mocking sneer. Not exactly the picture of someone refuting the claim. His arms crossed a little tighter over his chest as he returned his gaze to the planet and the reflection of the lithe Romulan in the giant window, expecting to see the small shuttlepod belonging to Lena zipping past to warp. O. Marshall: I'm being diligent about the rendezvous location. ::He glanced at the reflection of the pointy-eared devil.:: Where's ballet boy? Didn't want to stretch his legs out here? Sienelis: Not in your vicinity. It's almost like you're really annoying and I only put up with you because of that one time you saved my life. O. Marshall: Almost. If it wasn't for my winning personality and undeniable charm, I'd believe you. She rolled her eyes, valiantly keeping a grin from surfacing. Amused she might be, aware of that fact he might also be, but Valesha had no intention of being obvious about it. Bear, in turn, tried not to smile, once again tightening those arms like a drawbridge. Sienelis: What ship is she coming in on, anyway? O. Marshall: That's the other thing. ::He ran a hand through his short crop of blond hair and sniffed.:: She didn't mention it. Last communication was from the Veritas and she'll have cargo. Sienelis: What was she doing on the Veritas? O. Marshall: We're married, what makes you think I know? The Romulan opened her mouth, inhaling to reply, only to find that she had no immediate answer to that. Instead she shrugged, hands wide, shaking her head. She could hardly imagine a scenario where Chris would leave her with only shreds of information, guessing as much as knowing what was going on. Sienelis: You and I are going to have very different marriages. The blond annoyance flicked an eyebrow up to her as he glanced to the side and Bear let that roll around in his mind for a second before the corner of his mouth turned upwards. There were elements of her work Lena couldn't tell him; things it was easier to not talk about, even as colleagues in Intelligence. She had her way of living and he had his. Marriage didn't mean they were beholden to one another. Their marriage at least. O. Marshall: Not so much. They're both of convenience in one way or another. Sienelis: What's that supposed to mean? O. Marshall: Mine will be fun until one of us leaves, and there's no questions asked. Convenient until it's not. ::He thinned his lips as he gave her a long look.:: You're going to outlive him by what, two-hundred-fifty years? A frown carved its way onto a Romulan brow, the reminder of their mismatched mortalities unwanted at the best of times. Here, she couldn't quite wrap her mind around the point Bear was trying to make, except for the fact she was fairly sure she didn't like it. What was convenient about having to watch Chris grow old and pass on? Sienelis: That's the opposite of convenient. O. Marshall: Not for you. ::His shoulder shrugged up.:: You get a whole second life after. Can't be bad. Sienelis: You get that I've already outlived most of the people I love, right? It's not an experience I'm looking forward to repeating. Conceding the point, Bear tilted his head and grunted his agreement. There they were, in the [...] end of nowhere, about to go looking for her brother further out in the [...] end of nowhere, made him think of his own family. Whether Jo would go to such lengths do the same for him stuck in his gut. O. Marshall: Can't change those genes, kid. ::He caught her reflection in the window and tongued his cheek.:: Enjoy it while it lasts. Sienelis: That's the plan. ::She looked at his reflection in turn.:: I guess we have that part in common, at least. O. Marshall: And we'll always have Hai Tac. Amusement flicked on his lips as he leaned to her, bumping her shoulder with his, content to change the subject before he dug an even deeper hole and she let him take a long walk out of a short airlock. Lips pursed in an attempt to contain a sigh or a smile, perhaps both, she started to look toward him — until something in the window caught her gaze. O. Marshall: Speaking of, she did mention that bloody Iotian was with her. Sienelis: So I see. Her inflection flat, Valesha pointed at the reflection, past their shoulders where a familiar pair approached. She turned and there they were, the pirate duo advancing upon them and somewhat worse for wear. The Cardassian-Bajoran hybrid was walking with noticeable limp, a healing cut over one eye and bruises grazed across her knuckles... and of course, that infernal eternal grin. Josett: If it isn't my favourite pair of spoons. Zuccaro: We do have to stop meeting like this, in the strangest of places. Said bloody Iotian didn't look too clever either; a thick bandage wrapped around his upper arm somehow making him look even more dashing for it, and bearing a large shiner around one eye, which Bear couldn't say he was sorry to see. Ignoring him with a creased brow for Lena, Bear looked her up and down with an incredulous look adorning his face, marred only by the concern in blue eyes. O. Marshall: This is that quaint little job you talked about. She breathed out a chuckle, letting her momentum carry her forward until she stood between Bear and Valesha, spinning around to slide an arm around each of their waists. Bear got a kiss on the cheek, the Romulan ducked away from an attempt to land one on hers — although it was quite remarkable that she saw it coming at all, given the intensity of the glare she was directing toward the other pirate. Josett: Like sipping [...]tails on Risa. ::She grinned, quirking her head to the side as she acknowledged the state of them.:: Well, maybe Qo'noS. Zuccaro: With a slight detour through Rura Penthe, and safely we return. His smile didn't lose any of the effortless heroic intensity, coat swishing with natural swagger, catching the look from both laundry loads as he greeted Bear with a slap on the shoulder and avoided touching Valesha lest he lose a limb he liked. Jaw tightening, Bear gave the pirate a momentary flicker of a scowl and wrapped his arm around Lena's waist to aid the limping hybrid in her endeavour to walk. O. Marshall: Sounds like you both had the time of your lives out there. What pleasure cruise vessel did you roll into port on? TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part V) ((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance)) Josett: She's a beauty, the good ship Swishbuckle. ::She paused, and then added with a grin,:: The second. A continuing source of amusement, Lena threw a laughing smile toward Ollie. It was a tale for later, of how two pirates had come to work with the crew of the Veritas in tracking down another pirate. Stories of seedy space stations, corrupt watchmen, angry Orions, determinedly sour Starfleet officers, heroic boarding actions and a close shave with a warp core breach. Stories that the Romulan had no interest in hearing, extracting herself from Lena's embrace and squinting in disbelief at the pair. Sienelis: Swish..? Josett: —buckle. Zuccaro: The second. The Iotian repeated the addition while holding a relevant number of fingers up. Bear exhaled a terse breath from his nose, unimpressed by the particular brand of nonchalance Ollie exuded like a cologne, while the Iotian could do no more than simply be himself, avoiding spontaneous combustion under Valesha's molten glare. It took Bear a second or two to remember why the annoyed Romulan might wish the man would crumple like a barn in a hurricane. O. Marshall: Can I assume you're coming with us? Or disappearing into the night on the… Swishbuckle. Amusing as the name might be, it didn't conjure up any kind of reliable mental image, instead it made the blond think of a small boat in the middle of a large ocean, rocking back and forth, one raindrop away from plummeting beneath the waves. Or, in Ollie's case, from slipping into a black hole of his own creation. With a shake of his head and the dark locks of his hair on the invisible wind, Ollie sighed heavily. Zuccaro: Unfortunately, my newest vessel has acquired more holes than I can plug alone, so Esperance is where we part ways. ::Throwing a glance to Lena, he chuckled.:: Then, back to Hai Tac. Investments to look after, frothy vodka to drink, and a bunk or two to free up. Josett: Until the next time, love. ::She grinned.:: Look after Charger, won't you? Zuccaro: I will, but Charger cannot replace you in my affections, darling. A brief flicker of the pirate's eyes darted to Bear with a knowing grin growing on his features, then with a blown kiss from his fingers to his hybrid pirate in arms — both arms open widely to Valesha, a flushing face of deeds done recently and flourishing bow from his waist — Ollie strode off toward the port authority. Bear couldn't say he was sad to see him go, memories of receiving a fist to a glass jaw as poignant as any, and his eyebrow curved up to the hybrid pirate with his arm wrapped around her. O. Marshall: Charger? Josett: Charger. ::She smiled cheerfully at him.:: Kept me company on some cold, lonely nights, at least when Ollie didn't steal him. A flicker of an amused smile was there as the cogs worked behind blue eyes, trying to discern whether Charger was their new code word for a bottle of good rum, a pillow or a person. Even if he asked, he doubted Lena would give him a straight answer, and then he wasn't sure he wanted to know. Rolling his eyes to a chuckle from his wife, Bear inhaled the fresh, clinical smell of a station in the midst of a torrential influx of visitors, and forged ahead. O. Marshall: Is there anything else we need to pick up from here before we go? Aside from a limping pirate, ::he sent a tiny smile her way, then to Valesha,,:: and wherever your dancer got to. Josett: Maybe a crate of that Meadows whisky. ::Then as an afterthought, tonguing a cut on the inside of her cheek,:: And a good first aid kit. It was Valesha's turn to roll her eyes at the request for booze, though she had to admit she was a little jealous of Lena's indomitable good cheer. Part Cardassian, the pirate had to run into the same kind of suspicions and prejudices that the Romulan did — perhaps more so, given that there were plenty of people still alive who remembered the Dominion War and the conflicts that preceded it — and yet she never seemed to care. And where was Chris, anyway? As much as she'd needled Bear about it earlier, she realised she wasn't entirely sure where her Russian had scampered off to. Sienelis: Just the whisky, then. The Azetbur's got a small medical station. Josett: The captain's yacht? We are travelling in style. O. Marshall: Who knew the Admiral had a soft spot for this science officer. ::From around Lena, Bear reached to prod Valesha's shoulder.:: It'll still take the best part of a week to get to Ketar V and the Shoals isn't the most forgiving of places. If only he was just speaking about the many, many dangers in space. Time spent there in his early days of Rangerdom had brought him into contact with the less savoury occupants of the region, not limited to colonists, and more than his fair share of pirates. His own arrest hadn't occurred far from the station, either. TBC ---- Lt. Sienelis, Lt. Marshall, PO Johns & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part VI) ((Promenade Section, Star Station Esperance)) As if he'd heard his name on the wind, Valesha's dark-haired dancer appeared when a crowd of Bolian traders moved, one hand hooked into his pocket then other on the strap of his bag, and wouldn't have looked amiss as a backpacker making his way around the Shoals. Whatever he'd got into in his brief separation from the pack had involved food, and whatever he'd found was tart enough to make him wince as he chewed on it. Falling into step with Valesha, Chris held out the small dessert, a wrapped candied fruit peel resembling the head of a rose, only considerably bluer. Johns: I found osol twists. First one made me tear up, the second made my tongue tingle. His Romulan met the offer with a grin, the change in her mood swift and apparent. Valesha took the sweet with a faint tug of nostalgia, memories of her and her brother daring each other to eat the most sour twist as quickly as they could. The faces that came about as the result of the dare were long forgotten, but not the hilarity and laughter that ensued, especially once the twins had got their mother in on the game. Sienelis: Sounds like you started with a green one. Bold. Johns: Green has always been my favourite colour. He smiled brightly despite the sour-sweet revolt taking place on his taste buds. The bag slung over his shoulder contained more of the prize haul from the station, for later snacking while they did their bridge shift. The station managed to surprise the Russian with its diversity. A transport hub without a doubt, it seemed to try to cater to all tastes coming and going, with several small cylindrical stores dedicated to souvenirs of the Shoals. Johns: There was also a strange conversation going on about cross-pollination with citrus fruits. An attempt to make them less sour. ::He shrugged a shoulder up, then noticed Lena had joined them, finally a distraction for the loneliest Bear; a phrase he kept in his head for later use.:: It's good to see you, Lena, but what the hell happened and why do you look like you've been fed through the customs door backwards? Josett: Introduced a rhinoceros to a Nausicaan. ::She grinned at the dancer, endlessly amused by the twitches the sour snack impressed upon his expression.:: It went about as well as you could expect. That earned her another screwed-up look from the Romulan, trying to determine exactly what that was supposed to mean. Given that she had no idea what a rhinoceros was, her attempt met with little success. Meanwhile, Chris chuckled at the thought of it, the inside of his cheek decidedly aflame. Johns: Now the limp makes sense. O. Marshall: None of that sentence makes sense. ::Grumpy as ever, Bear frowned, looking around.:: We'll get some information on Ketar V while we're here. Starfleet libraries don't give you the real feel. Sienelis: Is that code for you'd like to be alone with your wife? The green-eyed Romulan received no small amount of side-eye from the blue-eyed blond, though whether it was annoyance that she'd said it aloud or annoyance that it had hit on a nerve was up for debate. Bear didn't know himself. Chris suppressed a snicker by biting on his lips and slipping his hand into Valesha's with a gentle squeeze of a proud partner. Bear sighed and rubbed his forehead. O. Marshall: I'm saying we'd cover more ground if we split up. Four of us together look like an Andorian family going on a sightseeing vacation. Help with the effort, go find us the necessities, scamper off to the ship to get it ready to go… Sienelis: Alright, the necessary local whisky and warming the engines up while you... ::She shot a sly smile in his direction,:: gather information. Narrowed eyes shot back at her and Bear grumbled with a shake of his head, clearly not winning the battle taking place between words. He had peace and quiet in his Ranger days, none of the smartassery. Accept it or don't, there was no middle ground to be had. Tightening his arm around Lena's waist, he leaned across to kiss her cheek, perhaps the smallest hint of pink touching skin beneath his beard, and whispered something terribly scandalous in her ear. O. Marshall: ::Low,:: Please, save me. She laughed, leaning into the feel of breath and beard against her skin, inhaling the scent of him while he was close. Stealing a kiss right back, sending a flurry of feeling down his neck, she sighed into his ear and murmured back. Josett: Seems to be a theme. ::Patting Bear's chest, she grinned at him and then the Romulan, her voice returning to normal volume.:: The whisky's easy to find and I'm sure you know how to rev up his engine. ::She grinned, shamelessly correcting herself.:: The engines. The flush was quick and obvious, blossoming like an olive dawn Valesha's cheeks, her amused grin turned into a scowl. In sharp contrast, Chris' boyish grin only widened, laugh bubbling up in good humour, mind casting back to the situation they were faced with only hours before. He bit his lip and squeezed her hand, tilting his head toward the rows of vendors where the confectionery came from. Johns: Come on, before he abandons us here. O. Marshall: Oh, you know it'll happen. Sienelis: Fine. See you back at the ship. Valesha's lips thinned with a last glance toward Bear and Lena. It reminded her of their time on the Labyrinth's Scream, the back and forth between Romulan and human which often left the hybrid woman s[...]ing into a mug or glass of something. Only this time Lena had picked a side instead of simply enjoying the show. With a final huff, she stepped away with Chris, the pair heading toward the stalls and shops he'd indicated. Lena breathed out a chuckle as she watched them go, turning to grin at Bear. Josett: Best wife. He grinned back, hand slipping into waves of curls, and kissed her crown. O. Marshall: The very best. TBC ---- Lt. Marshall & Lt. JG Josett - Road Trip (Part VII) ((Small Medical Station, USS Azetbur)) Boots cast aside on the floor, jacket tossed over the back of a chair, trousers left in an untidy pool of cloth, Lena sat back on the small medical couch and hitched her t-shirt up over one hip. There was the source of her limp, a deep, ugly bruise in violent shades of midnight and wine, skimming across the curve of her iliac crest, down to the middle of her thigh. A palette of bruises littered the rest of her skin, angry shades of ruby around the cut on her brow, healing green across her knuckles, fading honey on her arm and collarbones. None of which dimmed her mood in the least. The hybrid grinned, extending a finger toward the most impressive of her collection, with no small amount of amusement. Josett: Stings a bit. O. Marshall: Not much though. A disbelieving eyebrow arched in blond toward the hybrid as Bear's jacket joined hers over the back of a chair. The hint of a smile appearing, he crouched down beside her. The medical kit made a dull thump on the deck, the hinged lid springing open on command, giving access to a small selection of analgesics and anti-inflammatories, and all the fun mild narcotics and stimulants. Retrieving the hypospray from the inlay, he clicked a vial of metorapan — five-hundred milligrams of — into the receptacle. Never one to pass up an opportunity, Bear patted Lena's leg with the back of his fingers for her to roll a little further to her opposite side, and pressed the hypospray into the dip of her hip. The drug seeped through veins and capillaries, silencing razored nerves, and pulled a long sigh of relief out of her lungs. A lazy smile took up residence and she ran her hand through his blond hair, letting it come to rest on the back of his neck. Josett: Ollie did have to pick the one shuttle without a first aid kit. O. Marshall: Judging by the state of you both, he picked the one without a decent deflector, too. With a smile and a soft exhale, Bear brushed the back of his fingers over the skin of her thigh, lightly touching one of Lena's darkest bruises with no small amount of reverence behind it; the tug of concern slipping through his innards. Gaze pulled at the corners, they dropped to the dermal regenerator and he reached for it, adjusting the setting with his thumb, and began the slow process of running the red light over the painter's palette she'd thrown together in skin and bone. Josett: Getting caught up in a warp core breach within the designated blast area is not an experience I intend to repeat. ::She grinned, absently slipping her fingers under his collar.:: Then again, I said that after the Scream as well. O. Marshall: You did. ::Despite the lingering concern there, he echoed her grin.:: Where you orchestrated the explosion, if memory serves. Josett: Broke my heart, too. Grin still clinging on, hard to dislodge even with the itching burn crawling through her skin courtesy of the dermal regenerator, Lena watched him work. An odd feeling curled through her chest, flowers blooming on vines that wrapped between ribs, and Bear moved his neck beneath her fingers, into their gentle press as though he'd missed it. Josett: What have you been up to while I was charming the terminally humourless, dodging core breaches and upsetting Nausicaans? O. Marshall: Sounds like it was just a run of the mill mission for you. The dermal regenerator moved slowly in small circles around the bruised skin of maroon and mauve, yellow around the dulled edges of some but not all. Bear made an effort to be soft with each pass of the device, watching the array of colour peppering her hybrid skin melt and change, concerned blue eyes watching small cuts knit back together. O. Marshall: I ate far too much Romulan food and caught up with an old friend from my Ranger days over some Romulan ale. ::He dipped his head to place a kiss on her bent knee.:: Who was terminally humourless? Not that bloody pirate, surely. Josett: It seems dealing with pirates makes some Starfleet officers very [...]ly. ::Her gaze darted down, amusement dancing through her copper eyes and she grinned.:: Thankfully others are a touch more... friendly. O. Marshall: Infinitely more so than “[...]ly”. ::His smile turned sly as he cupped her calf in his hand, clearly examining the length of her leg for added contusions.:: Something tells me you'd get to Captain, have your own ship, and still be running around the quadrant wearing the pirate cloak for the kicks. Her grin broadened, both at the idea she could ever be a captain and that he was absolutely right if she ever was. As often as she delighted in being unpredictable and unknown, her motives and goals obfuscated by good cheer and an irreverent attitude, she found she didn't mind that Bear had a sense of who lurked underneath. Josett: Did you save any of that Romulan food? I've been eating ration packs for days. O. Marshall: I might have saved you an osol twist or two. We've got a perfectly working replicator on the bridge, and seeing as we've got a good week now between here and Ketar IV, it's going to be worth its weight in latinum. As the dermal regenerator finished on the smaller bruises and cuts, with a gentle touch, Bear moved his fingertips over the larger wound adorning her hip and down to the middle of her thigh, barely skimming the surface. He frowned at the sight of it, how her skin changed with the mottling of the blood beneath, and it drummed like a torpedo misfire inside. It would've hurt, though he suspected a great deal of rum had passed through those lips in the time between. Shaking his head with a deep sigh and a thinned smile flecking in amusement, he looked up to amber eyes. O. Marshall: Damaging these hips is grounds for divorce, you realise. Josett: That too? It's such a long list I didn't bother reading it all. O. Marshall: I'm sure that one was somewhere near the top. She shifted on the couch and instantly regretted it, the movement overcoming the dulling efforts of the metorapan. A grimace twitched around her eyes, fingers pressed into the back of his neck for a half-second. Her teeth dug into the corner of her lip and with a little more effort than usual, she recalled her grin. Josett: Ah well. Divorce it is. Just let me get some food and sleep first. O. Marshall: Seems inevitable. I'll have the forms drawn up while you're napping. Like an intricate spider web of capillaries and blood beneath her skin, the large and wam bruise began to fade with the tingling application of the regenerative properties of the tool. Bear stroked down her leg with one hand with unconscious reassurance as he watched her skin repair, bit by bit, but the thick bruise wouldn't be entirely removed; the body needed to do some healing of its own. When the tricorder decided what could be repaired in stimulated nerves and epidermis, Bear moved his attention to the cut above her eye, and smiled as he brushed his fingers through her hair to move the dark curls out of the way. She continued grinning, ignoring the shivers that trickled down her temple and neck as his fingers grazed against skin. O. Marshall: Or maybe we'll let this one slide. First time offence, hardly seems worth it. Josett: It'd be a [...] to file them in the middle of the Shoals, after all. O. Marshall: Would take weeks to get back, better just to wait until the opportune moment. Amusement sparked in his blue as Bear looked into Lena's amber eyes, affection wrapping around his core, and he couldn't quite hide it. Held in that gaze, it softened her smile and sent a thud echoing through her chest. With a hand curling into the fabric of his shirt, she pulled him close for a kiss, fingers sliding into his hair, and Bear let himself get lost in her. Lovers coming back to one another, mutual need, tender connection, unsaid sentiments slipping through, stolen in a second. O. Marshall: ::Quietly,:: You were gone forever. I know. I counted. She exhaled a soft, short laugh and stole another kiss, brushing her nose against his. Her reply was just as low, whispered like secrets not meant to be spoken, and the ripples it sent down Bear's spine were felt in his kidneys. Josett: Next time you'll just have to come with me. O. Marshall: While I'd love to, ::he shook his head gently with a smile, nose to Bajoran nose, inhaling her again,:: I'd be depriving you of your pirate time. It just makes you coming home worth it. Josett: So you're saying I should leave more often? ::Her forefinger ran along the length of his jaw, gently catching the hair on his chin between finger and thumb.:: Give you more opportunities to appreciate my return? O. Marshall: To give you more opportunities to thoroughly, ::he pressed his lips just beneath her jaw,:: appreciate coming back, I think. The hybrid pulled in a sharp breath, sparks surging down her neck and past the soft chuckle that rumbled in her throat. She pulled him closer, seeking his warmth, a zerak to a flame, and wrapped her legs around his waist. Lips brushing against his ear, Lena murmured a response, feeling the thrum of her heart ricocheting through her chest. Josett: Mutual appreciation. I can live with that. Her husband hummed his agreement into the hollow of his wife's throat where the soft ridges of her Cardassian markings started, lips fought between grinning and kissing skin, hand moving down her bruised thigh to bruised hip, and the familiar intoxicating fire creeping over his shoulders as he lifted her up from the couch. O. Marshall: Let's mutually appreciate those two being out. Her response was a wordless one, any notion of further conversation lost with the press of lips against lips, fingers sliding beneath clothes to hunt bare skin. Wrapped up in one another, muscles and tendons ready to dance, burning and surrendering to a longing, colliding back together as though neither had left. TBC ---- Lieutenant Valesha Sienelis Science Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0 & Lieutenant Orson Marshall Intelligence Officer USS Gorkon G239304JM0 & PO First-Class Christopher Johns Operations Officer USS Gorkon G239304JM0 & Lieutenant (JG) Lena Josett Intelligence Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  20. ((OOC: Picking up an older MSNPC that someone else created, making it your own, and adding some interesting idiosyncrasies, all while still doing the original character justice, could not have been easy, but I believe that is exactly what the writer has done here. Not only did I enjoy this post immensely, but as a new ensign in the fleet, I felt like it gave me so much to work with moving forward. Later, I found this post to be a key stepping stone that brought the Veritas smoothly into ACT II of its current mission.)) ((Tholian Station)) It was quiet. Always so quiet. An unbearable vacuum of silence that threatened to drive the Pygorian to madness. Kehive thanked his ancestors for the small gift a human friend had once given him. At the time, he had little appreciation for an ancient music playing device called a record player, but he had kept it with him out of sentimental value. Now it was his salvation, his grounding force against the lonely void that threatened a hollow fade from sanity. The Ink Spots - We’ll Meet Again The record spun at his side, the last one remaining. He had started with four, but the others had degraded to static. Still, he liked this song. Besides being apropos for his situation, it helped his mind wander to those he had left behind, the people he had loved, the faces that slowly blurred as his memory lost its hold. A soft orange light blinked slowly on and off, causing illumination to filter dim light into the room. Then fade just as quickly, casting him back into darkness. He considered it for a long time. What would have been the purpose of this SPECIFIC light? Was visibility needed in this remote bay that he had squirreled himself into. Was it a warning? He tilted his head as he considered and rubbed his hand over his braided beard. On. Off. On. Off. Was there a pattern? Did the frequency mean something? A movement to his side pulled him from his contemplation. He spoke, his voice rough from misuse. na-Soldim: Annie? Is that you? Annie: Bzzt. Zzt. A smooth rod of metal machination wrapped itself around his leg up to meet his smiling face. His five eyes looking lovingly at his creation. The robotic snake he had crafted from various parts and scraps. A light rust formed over her exterior. Annie had proven a valuable ally in attempting repairs on some of the hard to reach areas of the compact and inhospitable station. ((OOC: Lovingly drawn by my daughter)) His intention had been to create a tool, but in his solitude he had made a friend, a companion. The implications to his mental health were not lost on him, but weighted against the alternative loneliness, he granted himself this grace. na-Soldim: I need to build you a proper hiss, huh?. ::He looked to her command panel fixed to his wrist and pressed a few buttons.:: Let’s see what you have been up to. He accessed her eye camera, which was currently fixed on his worn ever thinning face, and started to rewind the feed. na-Soldim: No one wants to see that. Annie: Zzt Zbt. na-Soldim: You are too kind Annie, but there is no need to butter me up. You know I’ll always refill your power cells. His face went pale as he watched the playback. Those were flashlights. He nearly knocked over the record player as he lifted the arm, the music ceasing with a zip. He held his breath as he listened. There it was….footfalls. Boots? The Ranger grabbed Annie by the neck and bolted down the tight corridor toward the sound, jumping and ducking obstacles that he knew were there even as light continued to fade in and out. Was it Tholians? Starfleet? Scavengers? He watched a hatch open above him, followed by several figures moving through the opening and down to his level. His hand gripped his knife for only a moment before he thought better of it. He was no fighter, and greatly outnumbered besides. It was doubtful they would have known he was here, he had taken precautions to stay hidden. At this distance though, there was no hiding it. Kehive pulled himself up and onto a beam above the corridor, laying his back flat as he sent Annie to a better vantage. He looked to the control panel on his arm in the hope of getting a better look at the intruders through her camera. It was all he could do. He calculated his options. If it was an enemy (which seemed the most likely) his best bet would be to flee into the inner scaffolding of the station, but he would need an opportunity. The footsteps grew closer, voices became louder, light beams bouncing off of the walls in the corridor below him. He held his breath. This would be either his doom, or his salvation. The wait felt like an eternity. Annie got a better look as they were directly below, her feed relaying it back. Starfleet. The tension in his muscles eased somewhat. It was no death sentence, but he certainly had a bone to pick. He flipped himself over the beam as he landed directly in front of them, his boots slamming into the metal floor with a loud clang. A visage of survival, his linens tattered but tight, effective for maneuvering through the difficult to traverse recesses of the station. His knife still tucked into a makeshift belt at his leg. Five eyes peered across the away team, his painstakingly braided beard a contrast to his obvious lack of hygiene. na-Soldim: You’re late. Solak/Kelrod/Navarro/Emi: Response TBC Kehive na-Soldim ( @Antero Flynn ) Starfleet Ranger The Shoals C239205AF0
  21. ((Hotel Room, Endaasi)) Cade Foster lounged back in a chair, idly waiting and watching the clock. It was one of those occasions where he was banking on his own gravitas to connect him with his recalcitrant son for a talk that was long overdue. Wyn did not want the tables turned and to have Cade Foster knocking on his door at two in the morning. Nobody wanted Cade to make a midnight house call, least of all his own kid. Besides, he loved the kid and the kid loved him. While they were always and forever close, the knowledge that something was hidden from him had driven a hazy wedge between them. Well, hidden might be a harsh way of putting it. Overlooked, perhaps. Unmentioned. Still, in this big crazy galaxy family was a bedrock and Cade would do anything for Wyn Foster. And yet Wyn was of that awkward adult age where he was thoroughly and totally independent and yet not old enough to come full circle and realize that one didn’t have to do everything alone. That was the curious thing about age, one grew up and then one had to keep growing. Building strengths, overcoming weaknesses and recognizing mental demons were all part of growing as an adult. Cade was old enough to have messed it all up, pulled himself together, learn lessons the hard way and start to grow into someone he could respect. And his highest goal was to get Wyn on the right path without nearly as much pain and anguish as Cade had gone through to get himself on the right track. Still, time was slowly slipping away and Cade kept a careful eye on the clock. He had his own, unspoken mental time limits of when he had enough and would get up off this comfortable chair and go on the prowl. He was almost, but not quite irritated. Just tense enough to stretch but not tense enough to get up when the door chime rang. The kid had perfect timing – whether that was from instinct, personal connection or a combination of the two he had hit the point of the maximum amount of procrastination without actually [...]ing off the person on the other side of the door. Cade hit the door controls first so it slid open without warning and then once he saw the short form with a familiar antennae silhouette did he smile and offer. Cade: Come on in. Wyn: Thanks? Cade stood watching as the awkward surface tension of the reunion was first broken by the simple act of stepping through the threshold of the doorway. Still, the unease – almost embarrassment was palpable. His eyes narrowed at the younger Andorian, his gait was very slightly stumbling. With a snap of his fingers Cade brought the light levels up and took a step forward, watching his son’s gaze rivet towards him. Hm, the pupil dilation reaction was much better than the gait suggested. Wyn was mostly sober. Cade watched him as he neared for a few more moments, forming a quiet hypothesis in his mind. A hypothesis that would have to wait, there were more important things to tend to. In one swift, steady gesture he crossed the room with those overly long, lanky legs and wrapped his kid up in a silent, unyielding hug. Wyn didn’t protest. He always made a show like he was going to protest and then never did. And every single time he pulled the smaller, younger man close, he could feel the tension held like a drawn bowstring slowly loosen and drain away, muscles untangling as the younger leaned into the gestured, soaking up every bit of connection and compassion possible. Wyn: ::After a long pause.:: I missed you, Dad. Cade: I missed you too, Kid. He smiled fondly as the two broke, lingering close, but now separate. Wyn kept his crystal blue eyes downwards as Cade waved him to take a seat while surreptitiously dialing down the heat and bringing up the air conditioning. Silence, one of the constant companions in their relationship settled in and got cozy between them. Cade was patient, hanging on to each beat of the conversation with good humor, a hint of a smile hanging on his features. Cade: Come on, sit down, the chairs won’t bite you. Wyn’s gaze rose furtively towards his father, cheeks tinging faintly navy as he looked forward, broke the gaze and looked back again. Inwardly he cursed himself. This was his Dad. His father, the person he loved more than anything in the world. Why couldn’t he just say things like a normal person? Wyn: Dad, I… ::His tongue faltered on the words as he second guessed himself.:: Another round of almost comfortable silence settled in. Cade drew in a long slow breath and let it out before he smiled very faintly. Cade: I won’t bite you, either. Wyn drew a breath in through his teeth, realizing that he could agonize over words all day and just end up looking like a fool. He had to spit it out, something he had been ruminating on for years. Wyn: Dad… I’m sorry. ::He fixed his eyes on Cade again, antennae curled down into the snowy tufts of his hair.:: Sometimes I go over conversations we had and I am so embarrassed. Cade perked a brow, vaguely surprised. He was expecting this to start off about conversations they didn’t have rather than ones they did have. Curiosity drained in. Cade: Conversations, eh? Which ones? Setting his jaw in a thin, hard line, Wyn took a step forward, his eyes trailing off to the side as if replaying something in his head. Wyn: Remember when you decided to stay on the Constitution the first time? And we argued and I said I felt embarrassed and ashamed that I needed my father to follow me into space and take care of me? Slowly Cade gave a nod. He did remember that, but clearly not as strongly or painfully as Wyn did. Cade has passed it off as part and parcel of being wounded and off duty. He had said plenty of stupid things to well meaning caretakers that he most certainly didn’t mean, and had automatically and generously passed the same on to Wyn. But clearly from the deeply troubled expression Shar’Wyn Foster had throught about this far more than Cade had. Perhaps that was because Wyn had said exactly the opposite of what he felt and wanted and had regretted it ever since. Cade: I do ::he said carefully, not trying to stop words that needed to be said from being said.:: Wyn: ::He took in a deep breath and ended up looking downward at the floor, murmuring the words with a low sobriety.:: I am so, so sorry, Dad. I want you to know that I was a stupid fool and that I not only need you, but I wish I could have stayed there with you. Cade: Wyn… ::His voice started to grow a touch hoarse as he moved forward in his seat.:: You know you always have my support whether I’m in the room or not. I am always a comm call away. Shar’Wyn Foster blinked a little, possibly expecting a bit more pushback than he got. Instead he was countered with an open invitation and now he felt like he was slightly floating in a pool of indecision. Wyn: I don’t like commline calls. Cade: I know. They’re not my favorite either. But it’s good to talk to you. And sometimes good is better than great. Wyn let his antennae sink downwards, and his eyes drift upwards, taking in a long slow breath. He couldn’t really argue that. Good was better than being alone and suffering alone even when there were others offering support. But when one was alone and suffering it was so hard to see the unlocked doors that only needed to be opened. He sighed and sank heavily into a chair close to Cade. Wyn: I should have told you sooner. Damn skippy he should have. Not on the unappreciated comment or any verbal altercations the two had in the past. No. From the shift in the young Andorian’s posture and tone he was clearly now focused on the thing. The big thing. The thing he had expressly stated they were going to talk about. Cade knew. He had friends in Starfleet medical. High ranking friends in Starfleet medical. Including one high ranking Denobulan friend who had no concept of proper filtering of conversational details who, as they had been discussing specific medical judicial cases asked if Cade was going to weigh in on the trial of a young half-Vulcan, half-Human ex-Starfleet officer named Janeway (an ironic name, all Starfleet things considered, but a common one on Earth) guilty of assaulting several fellow crewmembers while undergoing Pon Farr. Cade had shook his head, waving a hand and stating that unmoderated Pon Farr was a consistent issue with Vulcan hybrids that Starfleet medical and Starfleet Counselling needed better game plans for when his Denobulan companion had made an unmistakable fumble, and then changed subjects all too quickly. Seriously suspiciously quickly. So Cade jotted down the name and looked it up. What he found made him so mad that he briefly considered becoming a vigilante and then decided to just send some anonymous tips to people with enough pips to get some legitimately good things done. Then he made a fateful commline call which confirmed every fear he had, hopped a ship and ended up on the Constitution less than a week later. He knew the whole story, but not from Wyn’s lips. It was important to him. It still was. Cade: Tell me now. ::gentle.:: No admonishment. He could confirm ‘you should have’ but what was the point in guilt when he had the chance to get what he wanted – the conversation that they should have had years ago, and the chance to start the person he loved the most in the universe down a path of healing. Wyn Foster sighed, putting his hands by his temples to support his head. Cade watched as the right hand antennae tracked a hair slower than the left one, and frowned. Hypothesis again. Wyn: You know the details. ::He murmured, really not wanting to relive or rehash the moments.:: Cade: I do. ::He leaned forward again.:: But I’m not interested in the details academically. I’m interested in your experience. That’s what the reports leave out, the actual experience of the people involved. The little Andorian gave a sigh. He opened his mouth, perhaps hoping that words would just tumble out. None did. He had struggled so long with his own experience because none of it made sense to him. From his point of view a crime was committed and the victims and anyone who supported them was vilified and ostracized. That made no sense to him. He had spent a very long, lonely week in a haze of painkillers and confusion wondering if the world had gone mad or if he, himself was crazy. Wyn: I don’t remember much ::He said pulling his shoulders in towards his chest, physically shrinking away on the chair.:: Kortantol painkillers are a hell of a thing. Cade: Bull[...]. You remember plenty and it haunts you. He would call that one out. Wyn was not getting away and he was going to put up verbal brick walls to get the hard part started. He watched Wyn’s head jerk up, feeling an empathetic flash of pain. Oh yeah, that stung. He knew it stung. He had been there before and done it before. It sucked. It sucked and it had to be done. The Andorian set his mouth in a thin, hard line, not breaking Cade’s gaze, but not speaking either. It was a tenuous teeter-totter on a line of not wanting to show weakness, but an unwillingness to move forward. But like all unbalanced things it could not hold on forever. Wyn: ::He started with a sigh, almost a stutter.:: I see it play out some nights, when I close my eyes, when I least expect it. It sneaks up in my dreams and steals away my thoughts when I’m tired and alone. And the more I think about it the more I’m convinced that if put in the same situation I would make the same choices, no matter how stupid the results turned out to be. ::The words slowly grew faster, taking on a thin, tense, anguished tone.:: I did the right thing, Dad! I did what I thought was right, I tried to protect someone, I got my [...] kicked for it, and then everyone vilified me! Why was he shouting? He didn’t know. His Dad was the least guilty. But to his credit Cade Foster also looked the least bothered by it. Cade: Almost everyone. ::He offered as a quiet counterpoint.:: It is deeply unfair that those who supported truth and justice were removed from the ship before they had a chance to express that support. ::He offered evenly. Though he knew that at least two had gone to the Constitution- at the time the Apollo – as well.:: Wyn: It was unfair! ::he protested, waving a hand in front of his face as if he was trying to gather up words that were floating like leaves in front of him.:: How could people be OK with what happened? The CO left a crewmember behind, a crewmember in danger who was murdered while we were on a mission! The crew protected a man who attacked me at a party and sexually assaulted a senior officer! Not protected her… not protected me. Protected the guy who did it! I don’t understand, Dad! That doesn’t make any sense! None of it makes any sense! ::He stopped himself from yelling, taking in a short breath, suddenly feeling very raw, exposed and he had barely even started this conversation.:: Cade nodded gently, keeping his voice measured. Cade: It was unfair. ::he repeated, with a tone of validation.:: Wyn: If it was so clearly unfair why did only three people seem to actually see that are gave a crap about it? ::he shot back. In about ten minutes he would be extremely ashamed of yelling at his Dad, but in the heat of the moment the words were loud with venom.:: Again, Cade was unphased by this. He had done plenty of yelling in his days, yelling that was not directed at the listener. It was just a way to process emotions. That much they had in common. Heck, if Cade were being brutally honest he would have to admit that he most likely taught Wyn that. Cade: Do you really want an answer? ::he asked evenly, firmly, indicating that he had one.:: Wyn: Yes. ::He shot back a little too quickly and then reinforced it:: Yes. Wyn’s big blue eyes were searching, looking for something that he couldn’t grasp, even after all these years. That was one of the problems of being in the middle of something – one could not see the forest, only the trees. Cade: ::he took in a long deep breath.:: Ok, let me break it down. Your CO had a fight with his friend and lover, a fellow member of your crew and that guy marched off ship. And your CO told the crew ‘don’t go looking for him’ because he feeling wounded from the fight. Then you and your crewmates saw some evidence that the guy was well and truly in trouble, your crewmates said ‘Captain says don’t go looking for him’ and you say ‘screw that, this could be important, I’m telling him.’ Do I have it right so far? Wyn gave a silent nod and Cade leaned forward to continue on. Cade: Captain says ‘he’s done this before, don’t worry about him we’re leaving.’ ::he took in a breath and held up a hand:: Now in my humble opinion that should have been a full stop moment because no commanding officer should ever leave a member of the crew behind on a space station, no matter how many times they have run off before or what set them off. You beam their butt onboard and hold them in the brig if you have to and if you release them from Starfleet service you take them to a place like StarBase 118 where you can officially – and safely discharge them, not some half wild deep space station. But anyways, your ship heads out. You have a mission, bad stuff happens, you get back, surprise, surprise, the guy is dead. Now let me ask you – did you CO let the crew know that they were leaving without an officer? Wyn: Yes. ::he nodded feeling a bit numb,:: Cade: And you already confirmed that the crew knew that the CO’s wish was to no go looking for the guy. So now you are part of a crew that has confirmation that if you [...] off the CO, you get left behind. ::He said this with a dark punctuation.:: I get it, there were nuances, but that’s what it boils down to, right? You cross the CO, you get left out in the cold. A curious, and very cutting choice of words. Wyn’s head jerked upwards as if he had been stung. Ostracism, being left behind. That’s what cut to the quick. Cade knew this all too well. He had picked the half-frozen child up from the snow where the tribe had left him and his mother to die for being different. It didn’t matter if Wyn was a toddler barely old enough to walk. That memory had seared itself in his psyche as some half-formed, looming, nameless monster. Wyn: ::biting his bottom lip, he tried to stave away the shadows of memories.:: Are you saying I should have seen it coming? Cade: ::gently, with compassion.:: I’m saying I think you had at least some awareness that you were going against the status quo and that would have consequences. I’m also not saying that is a bad thing. ::he paused and when Wyn was silent he carried on.:: So your crew has a miserable shore leave, and all your CO wants to do is indulge in his own misery and deny he had a hand in the death of his lover. And then your crewmate goes into Pon Farr, which seriously screws up the wallowing in misery process. Sure, the senior staff isn’t involved in the altercation, but now there’s something they have to deal with, and they have to stop feeling sorry for themselves. But, Wyn, let me tell you – the combination of denial and feeling sorry for yourself is one of the most powerful narcotics you can imagine. So the senior staff wants this thing over with as soon as possible so they can go back to their comfortable misery. And almost everyone else is happy with staying complacent and keeping quiet because they all know if you cross the CO you get tossed out. Again Wyn gave the softest of nods of assent, just trying to let the words sink in and finally process. Cade: Counselor speaks up? Boom, gone. Medical staff speaks up? Boom, gone. Did you really think after those examples were made that others would speak up? ::he shook his head:: Wyn, authority can be terrifying to some people. They don’t understand the whole picture but they know who has the pips. And they say ‘yes Sir’ and trust that the person with the pips has crew’s best interests at heart. And, for the best COs that’s true. ::He would firmly argue Jalana was one of them.:: But not everyone can handle that pressure, And one mistake will snowball into a cascade of mistakes covered up by defensiveness and denial. And everyone knows the best way to cover up mistakes is to get rid of roadblocks. Wyn looked up, his expression pained, brows and antennae twining together. Wyn: Dad… I saved that man’s life once… ::He reached out as if trying to understand.:: I did everything I could to support him and he discarded me. Cade: ::Gently, he reached out and put a hand on Wyn’s shoulder.:: Wyn… it’s not personal. I know that may be unfathomable to you. But some people don’t process things like you do. You weren’t cut because you were Shar’Wyn Foster. You were cut because you were a roadblock. I don’t know if that helps at all, but again, stop beating yourself personally up for this. It wasn’t personal. Wyn: ::Softly.:: That doesn’t make it better. Cade: I know it doesn’t. ::He said soberly.:: Sometimes you can’t make things fair. If things were fair the girl would have been in counseling, the Vulcan in a mental hospital and you would have been supported for your decisions. Instead she committed suicide, he got thrown into a high security penitentiary and you got canned. ::He patted Wyn shoulder.:: But sometimes time tried to fix things. The people who caused this mess retired or stepped down. The Vulcan was eventually transferred to a proper mental health facility. You carried on and found yourself a Commanding officer or two that you can trust, if you let yourself. I can’t bring the girl back, but sometimes you have to move forward and build what you can with what you have in front of you. Wyn shot his father a short look that wondered if that was a subtle way of telling him to date Rue. Still, he was trying to let this sink in. Wyn: Moving forward isn’t easy. ::he admitted quietly.:: Cade: That’s because you see this thing as one huge looming monster. And you can never defeat a monster. What you need to do is break it down into specific problems – you can overcome problems. So, start to recognize each little think that causes you pain and anxiety and keep track of them. Record ‘em, write ‘em down, tell them to someone, whatever – get a record and then fix one small thing at a time. Wyn gave his father a very well-known hard, almost disbelieving look. The sort of teenaged pout that said ‘prove it.’ Cade: Wyn, do you think I un-screwed my life all at once? ::he said matter of factly.:: No Kid. It was a process that took years one little step at a time. Sure, the first step was the biggest – I had to get sober. But after that there was still a ton of work. I had to train myself to pick up all my socks and put them in the recycler so I didn’t always walk into a room that looked and smelled like a lonely old man lived there. I had to commit to having one breakfast a week with someone I actually cared about talking to rebuild relationships I had broken. I had to apologize to people, offer amends and stick with them. You only saw the back half of my work, and trust me the front half wasn’t pretty. ::He offered a soft smile.:: But it was worth it. Wyn let his head fall into his hands. Cade kept his hand reassuringly on the younger man’s back. Wyn: I don’t even know how to begin, Dad. Cade: Begin by defining what is important to you, Kid. You’re not nearly as far gone as I was and unlike me, you didn’t do most of the damage to yourself. I’m not saying it will be easy, but I’m saying you’ll mor readily get allies. All you have to do is ask. Wyn: More talking to people… ::he said with a sigh.:: Cade: ::With some humor.:: Are you in pain right now? Do you hate this? Sometimes Wyn still was the teenager who liked to complain just to complain. Maybe he got that from Cade, but maybe that was just him. Wyn: … no. ::He admitted sheepishly.:: I’m just tired and have too much to think about. Cade: You gonna sleep OK? ::He asked gently, well aware of how the shadows could creep in at night.:: Wyn: I don’t know. ::He took in a long slow breath and let his muscles relax.:: I think so? Cade shifted to wrap an arm around Wyn’s skinny shoulders Cade: I am always here for you, Kid. Always. No matter what, OK? Wyn: ::barely above a whisper:: I’m sorry, Dad. For a moment he pulled the kid in reassuringly close. Cade: Stop being sorry. I get what happened and I understand why you did what you did. You pulled away to protect yourself and try to somehow build callouses to operate in the outside world. I would have done the same. But now time has passed and those callouses have formed and you’re still not happy. So now it’s time to break down the monster, deal with the problems and build what makes you happy. And that is exactly what I’m here to help you with. Wyn Foster wasn’t very good at processing emotions. Sometimes he just had to shut up and try to let everything sink in. The open offer of support, the hazy view of a path forward, they all swirled around in his tired mind He opened his mouth, almost ready to protest. But something did actually sink in, it was starting to process, however slowly. Wyn: Thanks, Dad. ::He spoke in soft, deep tones choked with emotion.:: I love you. Cade would never admit it, but when no one could see him, he teared up. Cade: Love you too, Kid. ~*~ ~fin, for now~ ~*~ Lt Commander Cade Foster Mission Specialist USS Constitution-B ~and~ Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster Interim Chief Medical officer StarBase 118 ops
  22. (( Endaasi - A tropical Beach )) It was done, over, finite. Siance felt exhausted after the last week of preparation for the exams and the practical had been draining as well. A first contact mission that had required her to rapidly get informed about a species nobody knew - that fake database was quite extensive - advice the Commanding Officer - in this case Commander Fenton - as well as pay attention during contact that he didn't make mistakes. Of course it did not go without a hitch and that was when it was at her to help find solutions with diplomacy, psychology and the laws and rules she had learned about. It was a different kind of exhaustion than when she absolved her physical training. It was more her brain that had been used a lot that now wanted some rest. And rest it would get. She had grabbed a bag, her bikini, some sunscreen and visited the first beach she had found on the e-guide. The water was of a bright turquoise with gentle waves, the taste of salt and soft bright sand that was just the right temperature. Sitting under a large parasol she simply soaked in the peace and quiet. After about half an hour of not moving at all, she now opened her eyes to look around the beach. With the broad variety of activities and locations on the planet the tourists were spread out nicely so the beach was not too full. The gaze of her dark eyes halted for a moment at a rather unusual sight. In a not too far off distance, a small group of Klingons sat together on loungers at the waterfront, their feet in the water as they seemed to relax. Something that she had not seen before. Ever. Siance chuckled to herself. Well why not. Even warriors needed some time off. If they were warriors. She realized she fell into the stereotype trap. Maybe they were scientist, bonsai tree growers or deep sea divers. Who knew from looking, right? Shaking her head again she closed her eyes until she had the feeling of not being alone. As she looked up again, her heart dropped at the sight of a familiar redheaded Trill. Rajel: Hey. Siance didn't know what to say and by the nervous look on Jalana's face she didn't feel much different. The older Trill wore a turqouise swimsuit with an orange hip scarf and a sun hat. And a bag in her hand. Thyar: Uh... Captain. Rajel: Mind if I join you? Siance was speechless and shook her head gesturing to the sands next to her own bathtowel she sat on. Jalana smiled and dug a bath towel out of her bag and placed it next to Siances before she sat down on it. Rajel: I know it's awkward but please call me Jalana. I'm not here as your Captain. Siance's heart beat rapidly and she swallowed before sitting up, realizing she was still laying down. She looked out to the ocean before them. Thyar: So you are here as Jalana. Rajel: ::smiling:: I am always Jalana. ::She took a deep breath and crossed her legs in front of her.:: I am here as the person who can tell you more about your father. That stunned Siance into silence. She turned her head to stare at Jalana without a single word. The older Trill turned her head returning the gaze with a warm green look. Rajel: If you still want to hear about him, that is. Siance: ::nodding, she blinked:: Why now? Rajel: Fair question. I had a lot of time to think, especially while I waited for the court martial. And I wanted to talk with you after that but with your exams Saveron confirmed that it may be wise to wait until that's over to not distract you. ::She had seen his message and was grateful that he had taken that time.:: How did it go? Siance: Good I think. I'll know more soon, but right now I'm glad it's over. Rajel: ::laughing:: Sounds familiar. I have no doubt that you did well. ::A pause:: I wanted to talk with your mother but I wasn't sure if she knew why you came here. So... I don't know how much I can tell you, but you have a right to know more about him than his name. So... ::She sat upright with a smile:: Ask me anything. Siance: How did he die? Rajel: Uff, starting with the big ones. It was an accident. A really stupid one. Stepped out of the shower and slipped. He landed badly. Head trauma, that's it. It was odd to talk about his death like that, it felt even stranger when it felt like it was her own because she remembered it like that. Hosts went through weird memories. Siance: That sucks. ::She sighed. She had hoped it had been something more meaningful, not a senseless accident.:: So... he didn't know about me? At all? ::She looked to Jalana who shook her head:: Then... you and mom weren't like in love? Rajel: Oh we were. It wasn't like that epic love out of books though. We weren't together for long. But I was.. sorry he was young and stupid. This ... may be difficult to hear... Siance: I want to hear it. ::She said that a little too fast, but she meant it.:: I imagined so many things over so many years, I really want the truth. Rajel: ::nodding:: Suril liked the attention of women and the thrill of something new. He never was unfaithful, but he was not the type to stay long. Your mother and Suril had a few weeks that were great but then he moved on. Siance: Oh. Was... it hard for mom? Rajel: She didn't seem like she took it hard back then. He saw her not too long after and she looked happy. But knowing what I know, it may have been one of these snapshots out of the norm. It's rarely easy for both equally. It had been a fling. Just that. Again her hopes had been crushed. But there was a light in that tunnel. Because even though he had many relationships, he remembered her mother, or Jalana wouldn't know. Right? So she was the result of a short fling. Siance: If he had known about me... Rajel: ::reaching out to place her hand on Siance's:: I really want to tell you that he would have stayed. But I don't know. As said he was a stupid young man. Siance: ::her stomach flummeted:: Oh. Rajel: ::She looked to Siance:: He did kind of settle down later on. He had a farm, a job he loved. He travelled a lot but he wanted to find that special someone so he got more careful about relationships. The older Suril would have loved to meet you and have a relationship with you had he known. That's all I know. To hear that pulled the last brick out of the wall she had tried hold up. She had just wanted to listen, come to a conclusion on her own later on. But her body didn't agree. It was like a [...] that broke and her vision blurred. Quickly she raised a hand to wipe off a threat of a tear, but the moment that coated her fingers and she wanted to apologize for it, the words came out with a pained croaking sob. A lifetime of loss and pain for not having her father by her side came crashing down on her at once. Answers to questions she had asked over and over with increasing urgency for as long as she remembered. She finally got them, and she knew she would get more, but right now she was overwhelmed with an immense sense of relief, once that closed down her throat, made her heart race and shook her soul. She inhaled loudly, a choky breath, shaking her whole body and couldn't stop sobbing loudly, no matter how hard she tried to stay quiet. Warmth suddenly wrapped her in the shape of the woman with the answers. Gentle arms embraced her, pulled her close and just silently held her. The brushing of a hand on her back, the warm breath brushing over her head. No words, silent comfort of the one person who understood, who knew. That made it worth and with a wail Siance threw her arms around her, pulled her body into a tight ball and let go of all the pain under the warming healing sun of Endaasi shedding its light on the dark corners of the young woman's mind. ----- Cadet 2nd grade Siance Thyar Counseling Trainee simmed by Commodore Jalana Rajel Commanding Officer USS Constitution B Image Team Co-Facilitator A238906JL0
  23. ((SICKBAY - USS RESOLUTION)) For all of his tough talk on the bridge about not needing to go to sickbay just yet, Aeson had seemingly had a change of heart. As his adrenaline from the bridge "battle" wore off, it's pain dulling effects went with it. He'd found himself wincing with practically every minor change in expression and feeling like his whole face was throbbing like some kind of large, red, cartoon injury. Still, this was technically his first day and he had impressions to make. It wouldn't do for Aeson Del, hardened Security Officer and all-around tough guy to walk around whining about a booboo. With some effort, he forced a painful smile on his face, stepped through the door, and made a beeline to the Doctor. Del: Doctor Adea, I had a.. uh... minor kinetic incident on the bridge. ::He pointed unnecessarily to his bloodied and bruised face:: I just need something to dull all of this so I can get back to work, Sir. Adea: Response Aeson followed Adea's gaze and his smile became a lot less forced, if still quite painful. The strikingly pretty, red-haired Vulcan Ensign from the bridge seemed to be waiting for him by a bio-bed. She seemed amused by his smile, which he of course attributed to his own natural charm and certainly not to any kind of schadenfreude about the smile itself causing him pain. He hadn't been able to find a good excuse to make her acquaintance on the bridge, but hey, when life gave you a broken nose and a pretty doctor, you make lemonade... or something like that. He couldn't exactly recall how that Terran saying went. Aeson tried to crank his confidence up as high as it would go, which in his current state wasn't as high as he'd prefer, and made his way over to the ginger Doc. Del: Doctor Adea said you might be able to help with this? ::He again needlessly gestured to his blatantly obvious wounds and casually, like this kind of thing happened to him every day, continued:: It hurts a little, but I've had worse. This wasn't entirely or, actually even slightly true. Aeson was probably in the worst pain of his life. The Doctor maintained a sort of stern, clinically appropriate expression as she replied. Sirin: Ensign Meidra Sirin, ship’s counselor. I believe your nose is broken. It will have to be reset. Please sit down. Now armed with a name to go along with the quite agreeable face, Aeson tried to very smoothly mount the bio-bed, but something went wrong. Perhaps he was swooning over the good doctor... or possibly it was the acute head trauma he'd received, but his coordination seemed to be slightly out of spec. Whatever the case, he managed to miss the bed entirely, landing squarely on his rump. He felt his face redden slightly from embarrassment, but with all of the bruising and other fun colors he had going on, he figured no one would notice. Aeson felt sort of like the guy who slept in late the day they handed out brains as Meidra helped him back to his feet. A task, he noted with another minor hit to his ego, that was quite effortless for her due to her inherent Vulcan strength. He eased himself onto the bed carefully this time. Ever the optimist, Aeson tried to salvage what he could of the first impression. He'd used his charm to woo countless (Countless was a strong word. A couple would be closer to accurate.) attractive women, men, and humanoids in his Academy days. Surely, He could turn this one around. Del: It's very nice to meet you, Counselor. :: He straightened his posture slightly:: I'm Aeson Del with Starfleet Security. You know, I... His attempts to try and talk himself up were deftly thwarted as she cut in. Sirin: What? Oh - of course. You’re in security. Was there a reason you weren’t chosen for the away team? He made a sound, somewhere between a squeak and a groan, but decidedly un-masculine. It was impressive really, how she had fired a well-aimed shot to the center mass of his bravado. He was offended and infatuated in equal measure. If it was possible to blush further, he did. Del: Well.... ::He stammered.:: I was on AN away team. Not the main important one, but... well... there was a very suspicious console...and... The situation had deviated very far from how Aeson had imagined it. Not only had he wooed no one, but he was quite certain he had done the opposite. He may have invented the anti-woo, here, in this very sickbay. His sort of groggy mind was spinning out of control trying to find a way to come out of this exchange with a net-positive outcome, when Meidra hit him unexpectedly with a hypospray to the base of his neck. He jumped at the sudden cold sensation and somehow managed to fall backward and hit his head on something hard behind him. This set into motion a series of events that Aeson could only assume was some kind of cruel punishment meted out by the Four Deities for some past misdeed. Aeson rubbed at his tender head, letting a few expletives fly that would've disappointed his mother. He turned to survey the damage and, realizing he'd hit his head ON someone else's, without thinking, he reached out to apologize and managed to knock the hypospray out of her hands and sent it careening into the forehead of a nearby patient. Any reasonable person might've cut their losses and sat on their hands to prevent further misfortune, but not Aeson Del. Desperate to do something, anything that wasn't utterly embarrassing, he took a step towards the newly disturbed patient in yet another attempt to apologize and slipped on something squishy and unpleasant and very nearly crashed onto the bed of a wounded Klingon officer. At the last second, the strong hands of the Counselor caught him and guided him back to his bed before they had to dispatch an engineering team to clean up his damage. Adea: Response The words of admonishment from Doctor Adea barely registered to his mortally wounded pride. The momentarily disorienting effect of the hypo had worn off and he was left with only the "I-wish-I-was-dead" feelings of embarrassment rattling around in his mind. Aeson could not imagine how this could've gone any worse. Whatever dashing impression he'd hoped to make on the gorgeous auburn-haired counselor was a distant memory and the only real option he had now was to get out of here and transfer to another ship where no one had witnessed anything that had just happened. Hurting in several new places, Aeson put his hands on his lap and tried his best to just behave himself. Del: ::Staring straight forward, he affected a forced calm tone.:: I'm just going to sit here and let you fix me before I break the ship. Del: oO Then I'll go crawl in a hole. And die. Oo Sirin: You may be the first patient to leave Sickbay in worse condition than when they arrived. Now please hold still while I attend to your injuries. ::she consulted her PADD:: First step, clean the wound then - hmm shove cartilage back into place..:: she hid a grin as he paled, the blood on his face a vivid contrast to his skin.:: Oh wait, that is a historical text. It appears a few minutes with an anabolic protoplaser will repair the damage. ::She moved the device closer to his face:: His eyes had gone wide when she had initially described the procedure, but his forced neutral expression had gradually melted into an involuntary smirk as he'd realized she'd been messing with him. A Vulcan with a sense of humor was certainly a new thing for him. She ran her various medical gadgets about his face and gradually, some small components of his confidence began to rebuild themselves. So things hadn't gone as smooth as he'd hoped, maybe he'd made a bit of a fool of himself, but he hadn't become a Starfleet Officer to back down in the face of adversity. Self-imposed or otherwise. It took all he had, but Aeson took his shot. Del: Make sure you do a good job Doc. ::He managed to catch her gaze.:: I'd hate for you to have an ugly dinner date... She finished her work and took a step back seemingly dumbfounded and, Aeson hoped, at least a little charmed by his advances. She turned away momentarily as he surveyed her handiwork in the bedside mirror. There was still a bit of residual redness, but for the most part his mug seemed to be back to its original state. He thought he heard a reluctant sigh as she turned back towards him. Sirin: I suppose if we were both in the mess hall at the same time, I’d allow you to sit near me. It felt sort of like a bolt of lightning had shot down his spine. In a good way. Instantly a lopsided grin appeared on his face and he climbed off of the biobed. He suddenly felt great again, like he hadn't just been minutes away from shame-induced self-exile. Del: ::Still grinning:: It's a plan. As soon as this whole Unity thing is handled, Consider yourself ::He realized there was no real good way to finish his thought so he just went for it.:: ...uh... sat near. Sirin: Response? Still smiling as he left the sickbay, heading towards the cargo bay that held the console that had sent the disturbing message, Aeson paused just on the other side of the doors and, after checking to make sure no one was looking, made a silent fist-pump motion to himself before continuing on his way. Del: oO That went great! Oo ++++++/////++++++ Ensign Aeson Del Security Officer USS Resolution R239708AD0
  24. This was a big movement in Alieth's character arc, and she did an outstanding job tying together something she has been dropping hints at for MONTHS. She also seamlessly integrated actions during the most recent mission that indirectly resulted in the outcome of the sim. I'm always impressed by Alieth's writing, but this slow burning character arc has been a treat to try and figure out what is going on. Bravo Zulu! ********************************************************** (( Room 06-0501, Deck 6, USS Thor, being towed to Bajoran space)) The day had been long. Longer than she could have ever anticipated when it had begun, with her long-delayed call to her hometown. Yet, all duty was finally over, and she had no more excuses to face the inevitable. And, despite all her training to master her emotions, Alieth was overcome with anxiety. Fear of what she might discover. But even more of the absence she suspected. Either way, she NEEDED to know. So she plunged into her cluttered quarters and, after a few minutes, managed to find the gadgets she needed. She dressed in a traditional meditation robe, knelt on the mat she had brought from Vulcan, and lit the meditation lamp in front of her. Miraculously, the old lamp had survived the rough journey and the only damage it had suffered was a small crack that made the flame flicker, as if it were a frightened bird. Somehow, it seemed an appropriate tribute. Alieth focused on the quivering dance of the fire during several minutes, until only the flame and her breath were left. Then, she closed her eyes. Her breathing flowed like the sands of the deserts of Xial, quietly but relentlessly, eternal. In her mind, Alieth circled the flame and unlocked the door hidden in her brain, that sheltered place where she had preserved her most cherished treasure. “Sern” she uttered carefully, summoning the katra she had carried with her for so long, the only thing that had remained from one of the most important people in her life. Only silence replied. “Sern!” She called again, letting the anxiety and helplessness percolate through the voice of her mind. The same helplessness that she had felt so many years ago, when she had been unable to save his life, as he had saved hers. The same anxiety that she had felt when she had been unsuccessful at stopping the river of green blood flowing from his body to water the thirsty sands of Xial. “SERN!” She asked one last time. This time, she knew her lips had spoken the word aloud. The name she had refused to utter for so long echoed through the empty room, reverberating through the shattered remains of her belongings. But the outcome was the same. Silence. Alieth opened her eyes. The flame of the lamp had long since faded, leaving the room in a twilight only lit by the cold glow of distant stars. Alieth hugged her chest and leaned forward, until her forehead touched the complex motifs woven into the meditation mat. And, then, she let out a tearless sob. Because she had lost him again. This time, forever. [TBC] ================================= Lt. JG Alieth Medical Officer USS Thor NCC-82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding Author ID number: E239702A10 =================================
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