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Sakorra Jefferson Reed

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Everything posted by Sakorra Jefferson Reed

  1. Is it ironic that I don't like the desert?

  2. I like that. I often feel like an outcast, even among my own family. It hurts when I feel like I'm not liked, and I have to remember that I have beliefs that don't line up with theirs. I have things about me that they hate, and I'm constantly worried about stepping on toes or being diplomatic. But why? Why can't I just be me? If they don't like it, who cares? They aren't trying to not step on my toes or be diplomatic, either. Seeking true wisdom, searching out information. I always thought I'd go the way of intelligence, but I got into a rut. Perhaps, I should go that way again. That way, if people say they hate me, I can just say, "Ok, at least I'm smarter than you." But maybe that seems condescendingly stuck up?
  3. And that's what I get for not being fully awake. I'm going to pretend that "due" is a fancy spelling for "do" and not an entirely different word.
  4. The sigh passed swiftly and softly over the vast gray bulkheads. The Akira-class vessel listed sideways, her body torn open. A black starlit sky mercilessly ripped tiny hands clutching at her, and she cried out, a moan ripping through her core. Eileen sagged. Twin plumes of fire billowed and rolled, welcoming her tiny charge into its arms, and she felt a surge of power tremble through her torpedo tubes, eager for a small recompense. Energy pulsed through her veins. Eileen heaved her warp nacelles forward without success. Too much internal bleeding. Her bio-neural gel packs dripped slickly over deck tiers. “It’s not a good day to die, Eileen,” said Steven, patting her tactical console awkwardly. “I just upgraded your systems.” Eileen saw him glance at the communications officer. His name was Sutok, Eileen remembered. He was never gentle, not like her Lyla. But she still did not wish to see the green staining his uniform. His console sparked against his face. Lyla made a gentle sweep of fingers over her master systems display down in engineering. “Come on, old girl.” Lyla wiped a streak of sweat from her brow as it threatened to spill into her eyes. Her hand drew away blood. Eileen’s pulse quickened and then slowed, the thrums of her heart beating in quick slow ebbs. Lyla was her best friend. And she was hurt. Eileen couldn’t lose her, she couldn’t! Lyla pressed her hand hard on the console, her head falling forward and one of her shoulder blades sticking out sharply from a tear in her yellow and gray uniform. “Jack, I don’t think she’s going to make it.” It was Lyla’s breath catching and then the momentary throat clearing that roused Eileen. She knew Lyla. The woman was choking back a cry. “Casualties, Lieutenant?” Jack’s voice was hard. That was good. There was no defeat in this man. Her dear friend paused. It wasn’t that Lyla had to think. She knew the numbers. Eileen watched her close her eyes and bite her lip so hard she drew blood, her hands fisted against the console. “Fifteen, sir.” The answering silence pierced Eileen. She felt cold and empty and allowed herself only a moment of hopelessness to seep into her pathways. “All hands, this is the captain…” Her circuits simmered and hissed, igniting her phaser banks. “Abandon sh--.” Threads of fire cut through the nacelles of the massive vessel towering over her smaller form. The beast trembled and groaned. Eileen trilled a happy chorus of chuckles straight from her auxiliary power core. “Whoa, what was that?” Steven yelled, whooping, triumph and smoke crackling against his vocal chords. Eileen’s hummed. She wasn’t about to let Lyla or Jack down. Not even Steven, though he was one of the orneriest tactical officers she’d ever known, always making dry quips about the strength of her weapons. We’ll just see what he says now. But in all honestly, Steven had also been the most caring of her banks and tubes of any tactical officer with whom she’d served. He’d never let any green ensign slack off in her offensive upkeep. Eileen sighed again, life support struggling to maintain minimum levels. Her circuits popped and sizzled, remembering Samara of the little hands ripped from her only moments ago, sucked out into space. Samara who had drawn on her decks as a child. Samara who had failed her first entrance exam to the academy. If not for that, she wouldn’t have even been on Eileen. She would have been in San Francisco, not dead against the stars. Fourteen years that child had been nestled in the womb of her bulkheads. Stubborn child had probably been trying to help. She had one quantum left. Eileen tilted and trembled, not yet completely blackened in battle. The scorching blaze of the enemy had yet to fully snuff her gleaming surfaces. She was not about to go down without a fight. She sheltered precious cargo. And not one more would fall on her watch. The torpedo burst forward, careening from the launch tube of the feisty Akira-class vessel. It hurtled towards the core, the weak underbelly of the hulking ship, goring through the metal plating. The enemy craft blazed bright; belching fire and ice, sulfur and carbon dioxide as it tumbled into the gravity of the planetary body. Eileen ascended higher, now a giantess watching her foe shrink. “She did it,” said Jack, grinning in shock as he leaned forward. He shook his head in disbelief, watching the downed brute of a ship spin, breaking up in the atmosphere. He patted the arm of the captain’s chair gently. Eileen breathed softly, reveling in the loving gesture. “Looks bad for a captain to doubt his own ship, ya know,” Steven drawled. “I mean, I know the old girl isn’t exactly the most talented in that department, but give me some credit for spiffing up her lacking systems.” And he had the gall to sound affronted. Hmmmph! Eileen shimmied a bit, sparking a tiny surge of power, right up through the tactical console. “Yeooww! Son of a…,” Steven began, catching his captain’s frown. “…tribble,” he finished, sucking on his singed fingers. The Akira-class vessel chuckled softly, her attention turning to Lyla as the young engineering officer fluttered a worried brow, her fingers flying over the master console that was already beginning to translate commands into gestures that soothed Eileen’s scorched conduits. “I’m sorry I doubted you, my friend,” she said. Her smile was genuine, though sad. “I should have known you wouldn’t go down easy.” No. She never would. She was the USS Eileen, NCC 63559. And at least this once she agreed with Steven. Well, there was a first for everything. Today was not a good day to die. Eileen fired up her engines, determined to make it back to base on her own steam. It would not due for Steven to be spreading it around that she had to be towed back. Lt. Sakorra Reed COS USS Drake
  5. But isn't that exactly what your signing on to when you agree to marry anyone in a military service even in this day and age. I'm not saying being faithful would be easy in that situation but marriage isn't about convenience. Just another side note on this point, in the case of deep space missions wouldn't it be possible to have your spouse posted on the same ship as yourself. Just as you would take your family aboard with you depending on the ship and captain's preference. Gotta agree with you there, Arden. In sickness and in health. In good times and in bad. But yes, you should be able to request assignments together and be assigned as long as there are positions to fill that fit both members. When you get married, you are making a covenant and effectively binding yourself to that other person. It's not something that you should be able to end easily or that you should want to end easily, in my opinion. I had a couple of friends in the military together who were married, and they served together and were transferred together, as well.
  6. Loving these. Last one is my favorite, as well. Yeah, don't like the stripe either. I'm guessing that by this time, new variations on technology, uniforms, etc., would be very cool. A lot of the technology on the new Star Trek seems more advanced than even on our latest Next Generation movie. New uniforms would be a good start.
  7. Agreed. Being that I don't really believe in the possibility of a utopian future, at least from a Star Trek concept, I would definitely love to see a grittier Star Trek. I want to see war and disease and planet-wide evacuations. I want to see floating hospitals and refuge colonies. I want to see more hand to hand combat, and I would really love to stop seeing every species in outfits that aren't that varied from one another. How come we've never seen a species that wears tutus with combat boots? JK. It would be nice to see clothing, buildings, etc. that fall more into the lines of what we tend to sim sometimes than what we see on the television or movies.
  8. I think it's a way to have marriage without the responsibility, love as a verb, and oneness that is supposed to come along with it. Unfortunately. Call me old-fashioned. Thank you.
  9. Right? And after the requested alotment of time, you can just say you want a divorce because the honeymoon phase is over, reality set in, and you realized marriage is HARD!
  10. (( Main Bridge, USS CRAZY HORSE)) :: Having received a distress call from the USS PROSPERO, their former adversary in a simulated war game, everything on the Bridge suddenly took a serious turn. The over-confident air vanished into a flurry of professionalism. :: Rocar: Ensign Obsidian, disengage all modified beams. Obsidian: Aye, Sir bringing weapons systems to full ready, might I also recommend Red or at least Yellow alert at this point? Rocar: Indeed, yellow alert and make it clear that this is no longer a drill. :: The tall Ktarian sat and watched the nebula ahead of them. 2 seconds passed. Beat. :: Rocar: Mr. Rogg Maximum Shields. Rogg: response Rocar: Helm, follow the warp signature. Moon: response Rocar: Any sign of the Prospero yet? Readdy: Negative. It's as though they cloaked somehow! I think something has developed inside that nebula. :: From the back of the Bridge the Commanding Officer was informed that the warp trail had stopped ahead of them.:: Rocar: Cut all engines, bring us to a standstill. :: Everyone waited with baited breath as an enthusiastic looking blue collared officer appeared in the centre of the Bridge carrying his suitcases.:: Fatuus: Admiral, sir. This might not exactly be proper timing given the circumstances... Ensign Ignis Fatuus, reporting for duty. :: The Admiral watched with a bemused jovial smile as the Ensign placed down his luggage on the floor so he could salute. Rocar tried to remember if he'd ever seen someone bring their suitcases to the Bridge before.:: Rocar: No need to salute Ensign we're not in the Kzinti marine corps… someone ought to have met you in the transporter room and taken your baggage to your quarters Mr. Fatuus. Fatuus: Perhaps the war-game prevented that, no matter. I will find a place for these until I receive word of where my quarters are. This will by no means interfere with my duties. Rocar: You can stick them in my ready room for now so as to assume your post until the crisis is over. :: Although not a telepath, Rocar was a former Federation diplomat and thought the new officer's smile to be somewhat suspect. :: Fatuus: Very generous of you, thank you. ::glancing at the main viewer and the officers at ops, helm and tactical.:: Tell me... are we winning? Rocar: The war-game has rather taken a turn for the more serious…simulation is over and we're on a genuine yellow alert. Fatuus: response Rocar: We've responded to a distress call from our vessel and… ::The Admiral cut himself abruptly short as Ensign Obsidian raised his voice from the tactical console.:: Obsidian: Admiral, the Prospero :: Usually the Commanding Officer would have signalled for Obsidian to hail them but the old Miranda class' movements were irregular. He'd been wearing a red collar on the Bridge of Starships long enough to know what was about to happen and it was almost as if a sixth sense brought the older flag officer standing-up onto his feet. His mouth felt dry and his mind blankly silent but decades of training seemed to still bring words out in a calm, steady and clearly audible voice…:: Rocar: Helm full reverse; Ensign Rogg give me full power to frontal shields. :: The Ktarian felt his stomach clench violently as the USS PROSPERO carelessly tumbled towards them, flames now flickering over her hull as her bulkheads ripped open under the force of the explosions. Even if the transporter room could get a lock on the 6 away team members then he'd have to lower shields and that would put the other hundreds of lives under his command in direct risk. It was a tough choice to take but really there was no choice at all as the Commanding Officer left the away team to their death and ensured the CRAZY HORSE's crew remained save behind shields. Antimatter met matter and anyone looking at Admiral Rocar would have seen his face squirm in pain.:: Rocar: (whispered almost silently under his breath) Great Birds of the Galaxy :: Two sharp, green catlike eyes pierced out to the viewscreen in front. Most people could now see fire torn pieces of hull being scattered as dust and debris as the PROSPERO erupted into a fireball and the CRAZY HORSE's red alert rang out, however, Rocar barely saw any of it… instead the smiling faces of Ventu, Reed, Ramirez, Reynolds, West and Webb all flashing by through his head. :: (((Flashback))) :: Rocar handed a much younger looking Lily Ventu her reassignment orders for the USS CONSTITUTION and told her about his former First Officer Captain Taboo :: (((Flashback))) :: Reed sat in his office on Starbase 118 and looked at a holoportrait of his twins Xan and Cheliz as they settled down to discuss the joys of parenthood with a smile.:: (((Flashback))) :: A young Ktarian in a blue collar towered over an adolescent version of Cyrus Webb and ran a tricorder over the Betazoid's brain :: (((Flashback))) :: Rocar stood scowling as he reprimanded Ramirez for what was always the Lieutenant's "the final chance" (((Flashback))) :: Rocar sat at his desk on long range communications with the commanding officer of the USS STEADFAST as the young commanding officer spoke enthusiastically about Major Heath West. :: (((Flashback)) :: A Lieutenant sat in Rocar's office trying (but failing completely) to keep her eyes off the piano that occupied a portion of his office. She'd always had to make do with roll-up, portable versions and holographic facsimiles... None of which were quite the same as the real thing, no matter how much technology advanced.:: Rocar: I realise that's a slightly unusual thing for a Captain to keep in his office but it helps me clear my mind when things get hectic and there's decisions to be made. ::He hit a couple of random notes as he walked passed it to the replicator.:: Reynolds: It has a lovely sound. Rocar: Yes, do you play? ::Lieutenant Reynolds had paused for a second. It was something she didn't usually tell people; her musical inclination. Quinn liked having something that was just hers, that she didn't have to share. But then again, very few people ever asked and the last one that had... Well, she missed being able to share with a fellow musician.:: Reynolds: ...Actually, I do. ::A hint of colour crept back onto her cheeks at the admission.:: Though not usually in front of anyone. (((End Flashback))) :: His stomach churning, Rocar brought his attention back to the present and the Main Bridge that had fallen to total silence. :: TBC… Rear Admiral Rocar Drawoh Commanding Officer Starbase 118
  11. (( Space, the Final Frontier )) ::The crew had gone and the Prospero had been tossed aside by an alien civilisation that for once, perhaps truly embodied the meaning of the word alien. Alone, she tumbled through the nebula on a careless trajectory. With no one to stop it, fire took hold in her innards. Flames licked up bulkheads and through conduits, explosions feeding the inferno, systems failing in a cascade of vibrant colours. Alarms screamed in vain, begging for an answer, until they too were silenced by the blaze. ::The gases parted like liquid gold washing over the hull when she finally emerged from the nebula. Not forward, but sideways, the top of her saucer section came into view first. Languidly, she continued to roll, at first appearing no different to how she looked when her new crew had come aboard... Until the roll brought her underbelly into view. Blackened and eviscerated by weapons fire, multi-coloured flames blossomed out from the hull before being snuffed out by vacuum. Bulkheads ripped open by explosions and twisted by tractors reached out into space like claws grasping for some kind of salvation. ::One final alarm cried out in a futile protest. The lifeblood of the ship, the pulse of her heart, could not longer be contained. Antimatter met matter. The raw fury of annihilation violently burned through the core of her being. In a matter of moments, she was consumed by fire and torn to pieces, and when the flames had died, the only traces of her presence were the dust and debris speeding toward the stars.:: -- USS Prospero RIP
  12. ((Crazyhorse Corridor)) ::He chimed at her quarters, nervously shifting back and force. Pace away, pace back. No response, so he chimed again. Paced away. Paced back. A third chime.:: SHELA: Alright, already. Come in. ::The door slid open, and he came face to face with Petty Officer SHELA, clad in a white bathrobe with a towel wrapped around her hair.:: SHELA: Hello, Ash. What is it? ASH: You're ... you're gorgeous. SHELA: Goodbye, Ash. ::She stepped away and let the door slide shut; Ash caught it with his hand, stopping the door from closing.:: ASH: No, that's ... that's not what I'm here for. I'm sorry. I just ... can you... SHELA: Hang on a minute. ::She snatched some clothes from her bed and vanished into her bathroom.:: What is it? ::Ash stepped into the room tentatively:: ASH: You... well, you remember the mission to Ergelon VII, getting plant samples? And Yon found the eggs, so we brought them as samples as well? SHELA: Of course. ::She came back into the room brushing out her hair, now dressed in her uniform.:: ASH: And you wanted to keep a few of the eggs to see what sort they were? Maybe.. .maybe have one as a pet? SHELA: Right. But we didn't, since that would violate Starfleet regulations. ASH: Right. We, well, didn't ... ::he wrung his hands.:: SHELA: ... Ash, we DIDN'T, right? You didn't keep any, did you? ASH: Well, I wouldn't ... that is to say ... maybe? Yes, I did. ::She closed her eyes, slipping down into a chair.:: SHELA: Did they hatch? ASH: Yes. SHELA: Okay. This isn't TOO bad. We can dispose of them properly, get someone from science to take a look at them, something. What do they look like? ASH: Well... well... that's problem number two. SHELA: You HAVE them, don't you? ASH: Not as such. They... well, there's no sign of them, just eggshell. SHELA: They're loose? You brought ...contraband creatures onto the ship and now they're loose? ASH: That's the short of it. ::He sat down heavily, his face in his hands:: What am I going to do? SHELA: You need to tell the Captain. ASH: I can't tell the Captain! I'll get court-martialed. A dishonourable discharge. SHELA: Okay ... just let me think. ... ::she stood up, pacing back and forth across her room.:: We need to find them first. Before someone else does. ASH: Right. SHELA: We just need an excuse to scan the ship.... what did you do with the eggshell? ASH: Nothing... what should I do? SHELA: You need to make sure no one can tie this to you. So yes, get rid of the eggshell. With your breakfast. Unless it's nowhere near your quarters. ASH: It's under my bed. SHELA: Then now is the time to learn to vacuum. Don't worry, Ash. We'll get you through this. No one even has to know. -- PO Ash and Shela
  13. ((Corridor)) ::Kyros made it part way back to his quarters .... well. Back in the direction that he assumed his quarters were, as far as he could tell. Midway, he came across someone watching a news broadcast on one of the hallway panels. He stopped for a moment out of curiosity.:: MARG: Askade Cha'par was murdered on the Federation Starbase 118, on stage in the middle of a performance after an explosion of the plasma conduits that fed the pyrotechnics. Two Starfleet Officers were caught backstage, moments after they had activated the device that caused the explosion. ::The image changed, showing two starfleet officers. One he recognized instantly -- the knave who had assaulted his lady-love at the dinner. And ... a skinny waif of a girl who seemed oddly familiar, in some way. Not conventionally beautiful, but there was a vulnerability to her that played very strongly to his chivalrous instincts.:: Man: I can't believe it. They've captured my love... ::the somewhat portly man shook his head:: Gideon: Thou dost care for her? Man: No, no no no ... him. ::he gently stroked Ram's face on the panel.:: Look how brave his is. And his singing voice -- he's an angel made flesh. ::he sighed:: Gideon: Ahhh.... ::He watched for a moment, trying to work out the details -- he had known the knave was up to something, but had not expected murder. Obviously his thimble-brained lover (for why else would such a one as she been along with him?) had come with him and had not been party to the events in question... but shared equal measure in the blame.:: Gideon: Hold a moment. The events in question didst take place this very day? At the theatre? Man: Yes, it's not ... huh. ::he watched as Kyros ran off down the hall, back to the turbolifts; then turned his attention back to the panel:: Don't worry, my sweet. Someone will save you .... somehow.... ::a single tear ran down his left cheek:: ((Opera House)) Gideon: I am telling thee. I hast information on the attack ... ::Reed glanced sharply at Webb and then at the officer. :: Reed: Let him through, please. ::Kyros took a deep breath, and stepped forward. He racked his mind for names.:: Gideon: M'lady Reed. M'lords Rocar. Webb. Brunsig. Reed: What do you know about the attack? Gideon: I know not of that which took place on stage after -- of that, only that which hast been displayed on the walls. Yet midway through the opera, I left mine seat early and found the lady Ventu under assault from five miscreants, who didst attempt her abduction. Their attempts thwarted, they didst flee and I didst follow. Webb: response Reed: What else can you tell us about them? Species, distinguishing marks or speech, any names mentioned? Gideon: Human, each, as I could see. Had I charcoal and parchment, I would sketch for thee what I remember, but I suspect the local ruffians. ::he closed his eyes for a moment in remembrance:: Hold a moment. When I found them again, 'twas a sixth among them. Tall, dark and ::he touched his forehead:: rigid. Anyone: response Gideon: I know not where I saw them last. The ways of this station are still unknown to me, and -- in all honesty, the sun of Mydjya didst provide the grounding to mine directional sense. It wast some time ago, so they are far beyond mine tracking skills by now. Anyone: response Gideon: Then what is it we are to do? -- Sir Kyros Gideon Knight-Errant
  14. ((Solok's Personal Quarters, USS Tiger)) Solok: Computer, begin personal message number 77-X-010-Alpha. ::The computer chirped acknowledgment. :: Solok: Major Reed ... Sakorra ... It is me. Solok. Your husband. ::Break.:: I communicate to you from my personal quarters aboard the USS Tiger, under the command of Captain Sidney Riley. I am uncertain what information pertaining to my new assignment you already possess, and ask pardon for any unnecessary repetition. I have been posted to the Tiger as Chief Medical Officer and, after my extended and officially unexplained absence from duty, have been reassigned at the rank of Lieutenant. None of this should be unknown to you, however, as logic dictates one remain aware of the location and status of those to whom one is ... contracted. As we are. Computer, pause recording. ::The computer chirped while Solok briefly attempted to assess the many possible interpretations of the message he was recording. Sakorra was a Vulcan, but one raised among Terrans. She had studied the Vulcan mental disciplines, including the control of emotion -- studied them with Solok as her tutor, in fact -- but her mastery of them was incomplete, at best. She was prey to emotion in a way Solok could not understand, or predict. And this left his calculations woefully underinformed -- underinformed, and often inaccurate.:: Solok: Resume recording. ::Chirp.:: Solok: I trust you have used the time since last we spoke to the advantage of yourself and others, including Sabek, our son. No doubt your grandfather, Ambassador Satelk, has been a constructive influence on the both of you. He has made me aware of his concerns for Sabek's education, specifically with regard to his training in mental control. In the absence of any evidence disputing his claims, I admit to sharing his concern. ::Another brief pause, while Solok tried to word the next point as diplomatically as possible. Even the most logical Vulcan mother could become as ferocious as a le-matya in defense of her young, and Sakorra was far from the most logical daughter of Vulcan. Her attachment to Sabek was great, and was increasing each day -- illogically, given the demands of her profession. This was one of the reasons Solok thought it best to separate the two for a brief period, not to exceed ten or fifteen standard years. Both mother and son would be much improved, Solok thought, by achieving a state of personal detachment more characteristic of Surak's disciples. A state Solok had already achieved, with much effort.:: Solok: Ambassador Satelk and I discussed this matter thoroughly, and his flawless logic has persuaded me of the correctness of his conclusion -- that it is necessary for Sabek to be transported to Vulcan, where he can be educated in a manner in keeping with the traditions of his people. ::A long pause.:: Our people. The Ambassador has insured me that he will supervise Sabek's education personally, and take full responsibility for Sabek until he has successfully undertaken the kahs-wan. At which time, naturally, we would discuss the system of study most appropriate for a man of his specific talents. Ambassador Satelk has many interesting thoughts on this matter, as well, and I encourage you to afford him your attention in these matters. Familial obedience is a virtue to which Sabek would benefit from much exposure. ::He paused again, this time to conclude his message.:: Solok: The Tiger is likely to depart Deep Space 17 in the next twenty-four hours, and the opportunity for communication will undoubtedly be limited. Convey my greetings to Sabek che'Solok che'Spivak of Vulcan, our son. Live long and prosper. ::Break.:: Computer, end recording and transmit to Starbase 118. ::The computer chirped acknowledgment and sent the message. Solok, preparing for his nightly meditation, saw that while recording the message to his wife, a fleetwide announcement had come through -- somewhat delayed, he saw -- from Starbase 118. Looking through the various announcements, warnings, awards, and promotions, Solok's eyes focused on one name, a name that belonged to one of the few persons in Starfleet with whom the Vulcan had more than a professional relationship.:: Solok: Computer, begin personal message number 77-X-011-Beta. ::Chirp.:: I wish to communicate only that respect for your accomplishments recommended by Surak in his Second Analects. Although there is a possibility of 23.774 percent that the decision in favor of promotion was in error, and that the acknowledgment is undeserved, logic dictates that an officer such as myself trust in the decisions of his superiors when he has no reason to the contrary. ::Break.:: Congratulations, Commodore Rhys. ::He paused again, allowing just a hint of their old friendship to be recorded in the message.:: Quite satisfactorily done, Bejain. ::Solok looked briefly away, as if considering some other matter.:: Also, King's bishop takes King's knight's pawn. Check. ::No doubt, Rhys would find a way to evade Solok's attempt at capture. Illogical or not, he always did.:: Lieutenant Solok Chief Medical Officer USS Tiger
  15. I agree on that. There is nothing wrong with being proud of your own work and wanting others to read it, though I agree there is a certain perception involved with that. I would never nominate myself because for the most part, a person is their own biggest fan, but if others want to, they should be allowed. After all, perhaps they are on a ship where no one nominates, but they've been told their sim was so awesome and wonderful and beautiful and someone should nominate it for the top sims contest...but no one does.... And it is really hurtful when a person put a lot of work into something and it isn't recognized.
  16. According to Memory Alpha and Wikipedia, the Dominion war lasted from 2373-2375. It came right on the heels of the Federation-Klingon war in 2372.
  17. Gasper’s ears tingled. Something had pulled the little pings and pops that accompanied usual quiet out of the air. The resulting hush electrified the hairs on the nape of his neck. He looked at the still forms of the unconscious engineering officers in the room as he pulled a Ka-Bar out of the side flap pocket on his fatigue trousers. He palmed the handle, holding the blade close to his forearm. “Ki?” He whispered, thinking maybe she was close. The high-pitched whine of phaser fire echoed in the lower chambers of the base. Kiarna screamed. Gasper swore and quickly finished keying in the destruct sequence. “Ki!” He was shouting before he’d even started running. He should have known. An easy op, they had told him. But things were never easy these days. “Gasper!” She was returning fire. He grasped the railing of the stairs and flung his feet up on the rail, one on each side as he aimed his blade. When he was within sight of the shooter, he let it fly. It flipped end over end until it found its mark in the man’s chest. The shooter’s phaser fell with a clang to the metal-grated floor, and he grabbed the blade, trying to pull it from his body. He fell against the railing and slid to the floor next to one Ki had already felled. The dead man had simply been a security officer doing his job, but he worked for the wrong side of Starfleet, now. Gasper landed on the grating and ran to Ki. He slowed his last few steps, afraid of what he would see. Ki leaned over a crumpled form, its flowing white hair now pooling with dark blue blood. “Diel, get up!” Kiarna shook the woman’s prone body, but the Andorian’s skin was already turning silver-gray. “Come on, we have to go.” Gasper knelt down next to Diel’s body and put his arm around Kiarna’s shoulder. “She’s gone, Ki. There’s nothing we can do.” His free hand reached for her other shoulder as he pulled her away. She turned on him, fury emanating from every pore. “We don’t leave people behind, Gasper. We never leave them behind!” “You know they called for backup, and I’ve already started the countdown. We don’t have time. We have to go!” She turned away from him. Grabbing Diel’s arms, she started to tug, pulling Diel up from the ground. “ Kiarna! Look at me.” Her head snapped towards him, a growl already forming on her lips. “We can’t, Gasper.” Booted feet pounded not that far away. Gasper looked up, quickly judging the distance of their adversaries. Then he looked back at Ki and pulled her away from Diel. Her eyes were bright with anger and unshed tears. “We have to. I’m sorry, Love.” Gasper leaned down quickly to grab Diel’s disruptor. Linking hands with Ki, he pulled her along with him. The farther away from Diel’s body they got, the harder he had to fight with Ki. At the end, when they were nearing the airlock and he was practically carrying her, a shot seared past his ear. He flinched away from the crackling energy bolt and swung around, firing blindly until he caught sight of a target. The next shot caught him in the stomach. He stumbled, his legs collapsing from underneath him. His eyesight blurred. He smelled lavender, raspberry, sweat, and fire. Ki smelled like that. The food’s she loved mixed with the product of her exertion and…her. She was like fire. She was fire. He was jerked to his feet and realized that Kiarna had regained her senses. “Run, Gasper! Get to the airlock.” More footsteps closing in. Shouts from too close. “Seal it, seal it!” “Coates isn’t answering.” “Blast! Just take them out! Can’t you aim?” Gasper ran blindly, pulling up his memory of the deck’s blueprint. Twenty-five feet, it should be. He smelled Ki behind him. Gasper ran through the pain, blinking to clear his eyes. It felt like a knife was slicing through his abdomen, spreading infection. He doubled over, but stumbled step over step. Fifteen feet. Ten feet. The pitch of phaser fire and Ki cried out. He turned, saw her stumble, grab her leg. He reached out and grabbed her, held on, pulled. Five feet. Three feet. “Hit it, hit it!” He hit the door lock. “Shields!” He tapped the circular disk on his sleeve. The door opened and they were sucked out, depressurizing the docking bay. A former Starfleet security officer floated past him. He shut his eyes. Nine years ago, they were allies. Weightlessness flipped him upside down to see another, her weapon floating away from her, her face blue for an instant before a transporter beam engulfed her. He turned to find Kiarna. She tapped her chronometer. One minute before personal shields failed. Then the Freedom sailed up from underneath the space station, only slightly larger than a shuttle. The bay doors opened. He woke up in sickbay. The ceiling came into focus slowly above him. Slicing pain rent through his stomach. “Blast! Son of a—!” “Settle down, Captain. It’s just a few stitches.” Gasper looked up, his eyes widenening as Kinty pulled blood-soaked guaze out of the gaping wound in his belly. “You haven’t even started on stitches! And you aren’t a doctor. What the hell are you doing?” “I’m all you have, Gasper. Our doctor is dead, isn’t she?!” Something twisted in his gut. “What are you doing to me?” “Trying to keep you alive! You think you can do better?” He tried to hold his head up, to hold the young Terran’s gaze, but he was now aware of how weak he was. He simply didn’t have strength. “Maybe,” he said, but his tone lacked fight. “Where’s Ki?” “She’s fine. She’s waiting until I’m done with you. Hers isn’t so bad.” She stopped for a minute, noting his grimace. “She wanted to be in here with you, but I can’t work with someone looking over my shoulder.” “You probably just didn’t want a witness to my torture.” Kinty grunted but continued working. It was silent save for his rapidly increasing respirations. “What the hell happened in there, Gasper?” Her voice shook. Her voice always shook when she was trying not to cry. “I don’t know, Kint.” He shut his eyes, willing blessed blackness to come. Instead, a new stabbing pain ripped him apart. He recoiled, trying to get away from Kinty’s unexperienced doctoring hands. “Give me some blasted painkillers, will you!” “There aren’t anymore, Gasper! There isn’t anything, all right? We got nothing but this broken ship and each other. And now we have one less.” He heard metal clang against metal. “I can’t do this!” Gasper sobered. He gritted his teeth and did his best to soften his tone. “Yes, you can. I need you to, Kint.” He struggled to raise his head and meet her bright blue gaze. Her face was streaked with tears. “Please.” He held his head up, his neck muscles protesting, until she finally nodded and picked up a new strip of gauze and a sterilized clamp. “All right. Just a little more, and then I promise I really will be doing the stitches.” “Great. I always wanted a zigzag pattern on my stomach.” “Shut up.” “Fine.” He drifted in and out for the next few days. When he woke up the second time, Kiarna was sitting next to him, holding his hand. “Hey.” His voice rasped. “Hey! You’re up.” “Yeah. I guess that means I made it through the torture.” He tried to laugh. “I guess you made it through, too. The leg?” “Better. I’m under strict orders not to overdo it. It’s still a bit hard to walk.” Gasper swallowed. “Where are we?” “About twenty light years from the rendezvous point.” He nodded. Ki reached over and grabbed a water bottle, helping him take a sip. He was sick of lying down, sick of feeling like death warmed over. He swung his legs over the side of the biobed and winced as he felt his stitches pull. “Careful, Hon. You need to lie back down.” “No, I don’t.” Gasper sighed. “I’m tired of lying down. Tired of operating like a third world organization. Never keeping up with them.” “We just blew up one of their major weapons facilities. I’d say that’s a big step towards getting our footing back.” “Seven years ago, we would have been fighting side by side with those women and men, not killing them.” “I know.” Ki helped him down from the table and held him steady while he tried not to sway. “But most of their ships made it out before it blew.” “Don’t know whether I should rejoice or curse. I’m happy they survived, but that just means we have more of them to still fight.”Gasper swore and continued. “We can’t win this one. They outnumber us five to one now. We can barely even use Starfleet technology. Easy nab. Easy kill.” Ki snorted. “Starfleet. How many times have I told you? There is no Starfleet. There isn’t even a Federation. It all died, right with those ships the wormhole closed on.” “We’re still Starfleet.” “We don’t even have uniforms. We barely have anything Starfleet. Even this ship isn’t Starfleet.” “A uniform, a ship, none of it makes Starfleet, Commander.” Gasper smoothed his fingers over her hair and down her spots, cupping her chin. “Maybe not, but it makes it easier being Starfleet when you have the weapons and uniforms to back you and your own aren’t trying to kill you.” She leaned her head into his shoulder. They sat there awhile longer, holding hands, leaning on each other, until a thought formed in his mind. It was a crazy idea, one he’d thought of dozens of times before, one he’d even acted on a few times. Each time had ended in failure. This time felt different. “We have to go back.” Ki’s head snapped up. Her eyes met his. “No. No. We’ve tried that. It hasn’t opened in over nine years, Gasper.” “This time it will.” “That’s what you said the last three times…and it never has!” “What have we got to lose?” “Everything! Bajor is occupied, the entrance to the wormhole guarded. We’ve lost too much now to even hope of succeeding. And what makes you think it would open this time, even if we could get there?” “Just a feeling.” “Like your other feelings? Gasper stood up, frustrated. “It’s not your world being decimated, Ki! It’s not your prophets being called murderers! It’s not your people being called accessories!” Ki stood up and faced him, her lips drawn and thin, trembling. “I’ve put my life on the line just as much as you or anyone else on our side, Gasper! How dare you imply that I don’t care! My own world turned against Bajor, but I stayed!” Gasper ran his fingers through his hair and growled into his hands. “I’m sorry, Ki. It just still seems like a nightmare, all these years later. Member worlds turning on us. Those supporting us shrinking every day. We never should have become a part of the Federation. At least then it wouldn’t be in shambles.” Ki walked to him and put her arms around him. Again, he leaned into her. “All right. But you’d better be very persuasive when you speak with the others, or we’ll be going in alone.” “Lieutenant, what’s our ETA?” “2.26 hours, Captain,” said Kinty. Gasper was flummoxed. According to several other Bajorans in their Starfleet, they’d all had “a feeling” about the same time he had. They felt the prophets were calling them home. Just over two hours later, they dropped out of warp. He fought to keep fear from eclipsing him. His heartbeat was erratic, thumping in his chest. There were over a hundred ships encircling Bajor and the entrance to the celestial temple. Twenty-three ships fanned out in a defensive position. Six ships flanked him, escorting the Freedom. “Ninety seconds to wormhole entrance. We’re being hailed.” Gasper raised his eyebrows. “On screen.” “This is Captain Schwartz of the Federation starship Trafalger. You are ordered to stand down and prepare to be boarded.” Gasper glanced over at Ki and Kinty. The two women laughed. “Yeah, uh…I don’t think so, Schwartz. See, I’m Captain Tiver Gasper of the Federation starship Freedom, and I don’t want to.” “Tiver, your captaincy is not recognized by Starfleet. You are a wanted Federation criminal. We have orders to shoot to kill on sight if necessary. If you value your life and the lives of your crew, you.will.stand.down.” “Yeah, see, we heard you the first time, and we still don’t want to. Oh, wait. Hey, you girls want to surrender?” “No, sir.” “That’s a negative, Captain.” Gasper turned back to the screen. “Well, the ladies have spoken. So, we’re gonna…you know…keep going.” The screen went blank. The Trafalger opened fire a moment later, the ship shaking violently in the impact. They had barely working shields as it was. “Shields at forty percent.” “Thirty seconds to wormhole entrance.” “Return fire.” Kiarna fired, but they were only one quarter the size of the Trafalger and run down at that. No contest. “Fifteen seconds. Ten, Five.” Prophets, please. Please open your gates. “Three…two…one.” A split second, nothing, just black space and far away stars, but then, a circular light, widening, swirling cloud and the Freedom soared inside. And then it was a white, white haze, transcending, encompassing. He saw blurry figures, many of them. One stepped forward. He recognized her. Major Reed. Her ship had disappeared inside the wormhole, like eight others had in a three-hour span. 6, 147 lives lost. Ironic. Their alleged deaths had resulted in the deaths of millions. Another step forward. This one looked like Captain Rocar. He’d also been en route to Deep Space Nine, back from a mission in the Gamma quadrant. “His desire is great.” Gasper looked towards the other figures, but they stayed wispy and gray on the edge of his vision. “I am Tiver Gasper, Captain of the USS Freedom. I have come to seek your help.” “His mind tells of great battles.” “A great war.” “I need to know what happened. Why ships came in to the temple and were lost. Why you have not opened the gates for over nine years. The Federation has descended into war. Your people are dying.” “He is mortal and weak.” “They try their own way.” Another had stepped forward. A child figure. Bajoran. “Please, I do not have a lot of time.” “This linear time?” “Yes! Yes.” “You do not exist in time.” Words formed on Gasper’s lips and died. He was not sure what the prophet meant. He tried again. “My friends are fighting a losing war. Picked off by those that were once our own. We cannot fight much longer.” “You are at the end.” “Yes.” Gasper felt defeated, worn. “This one struggles.” “He seeks answers.” “Then please, tell me!” “Those you seek are not lost.” “Not lost? Well, where are they? What happened?” “This time you speak of…it was then that our temple merged with another. Those you seek went through to the other side.” “The other side. Another temple?” “Others had to be prevented.” “Couldn’t you bring them back? Couldn’t the other side send them back?” “They will return.” “How, when? Where are they?” “You must leave us.” “No! You haven’t told me anything. How do I find them? For what purpose did you bring me here if you weren’t going to tell me anything useful?” A prophet stepped forward out of soft white light. She was the image of Kiarna. This prophet cupped Gasper’s cheek and smiled. “We did not bring you here, Gasper. Your heart brought you here.” “When the temples part, they will return to you. Our gates shall open once more.” Gasper landed flat. He felt the impact radiate through to his chest bone, his head flicked with points of needle fire. “No!” He tried to turn, reach out towards the white light and grab it back. He grabbed boot. A security guard, theirs, pointed a phaser at him. Gasper started to get up and saw Ki and Kinty, each restrained. “Let them go. I know what happened. I talked to the prophets!” His arm was wrenched up. He had no choice but to follow. Slammed into the bulkhead wall, the officer clamped cuffs on Gaspers’s wrists. Gasper jerked away, headed towards Ki. The officer brought his elbow down between Gasper’s shoulder blades. It was like phaser leaching through tendon, pulling apart muscle and sinew, fire on bone. He fought to draw breath. “I talked to the prophets.” “Please, let me talk to him.” Ki’s voice was pleading, and in the next moment, she was next to him, lavender and honey, soft and love. “Look at me, Gasper.” Gasper met her eyes, searched, connected. “What do you mean, you talked to them?” “I was surrounded by white light, and they knew…they knew all of it. They said they weren’t dead, that they would return. It was right after we entered the temple.” Ki shook her head, her eyebrows drawing inward in confusion. “Baby, the wormhole never opened. We never got in. We waited…we lost shields…and then we were boarded.” “No. I was there.” Gasper tried to reach up and hold her, forgetting that his hands were cuffed. “Take these infernal things off.” He glared at the security officer that had elbowed him. The guy just stood there. “Robot,” spat Gasper. “Traitor,” spat the officer.” “I’m telling you, they aren’t dead!” “Tell that to my son! Tell him he didn’t hear his mother’s screams just before the wormhole shut forever.” The officer’s boot smashed Gasper’s face. “Stop it!” Kiarna shouted, pulling Gasper close. “You’ll be joining your murderous prophets in your precious temple soon enough Tiver Gasper, traitor to the Federation. I’ll enjoy attending your execution.”
  18. Drat. I'm getting near the end, but I'm already well over 3000 words! That means I have to start killing some of my babies, and I hate killing my babies. Anyone else have this problem? * For anyone who doesn't know, that is just writer speak for cutting some beautiful, lovely words out of my story. I'm really not sadistic. At least when it comes to babies.
  19. Congrats to all. Well done, Ethan. The short story is an immensely difficult art form. Unlike a novel, where you can do a lot of free writing, a short story must be cut down to the very basics of what is needed to tell the story. So we should all feel good that we managed to tell a story in 3000 words or less, because doing that is an accomplishment in itself. I'm looking forward to the next contest already.
  20. At What Cost, Honor? Ensign Kiarna Taiven of Starfleet curled up under her covers at her parents’ home on Trill. She was having a delicious dream that included golden biceps, muscular thighs, and miles of sand surrounding her and a gorgeous golden man who could rival any on Risa. "Kiarna!" her mother called up the stairs. "Kiarna, this is the last time I'm calling you! You'll miss breakfast and you'll have to get your own ride to the hospital!" Kiarna groaned and buried her head underneath the sheets. "So go without me!" she called back to her mother. "They'll have more kids! They're like rabbits! I'll just watch the next...hundred...being born!" "Kiarna Taiven! Don't you speak about your brother and sister-in-law in that manner! Get down here, now!" Groaning, Kiarna rolled over in her bed. She could never get enough sleep around here. She should have stayed in a hotel. The house was crawling with Taivens. Her brother, Garon, had arrived two weeks ago from the university and her sister, Tegan, and their father, Korvan, had arrived yesterday after delivering a shipment of Misty Kippets to Betazed. Misty Kippets was a bubbly confection that her mother had invented, bottled, and sold, vaulting the Taiven family into instant splendor and fame. The drink was a large success all over the quadrant, mostly for its energizing yet relaxing properties. Their trip had taken longer than usual because they had swung by Deep Space 9 to pick up Jandra, Kiarna's older sister, and the only one in the family who was joined, much to Kiarna’s bitterness. The cacophony of voices carried up to her from below as her eldest brother’s children and the three youngest members of the family, Neko, Lani, and Odal, clambered up and over the sleek metal sculpture that had recently been added to Arliel and Korvan's living room and three...two...one, like clockwork, Tegan's shrieking. "How many times do I have to tell you to stay off of that, you little runts! You'll ruin it! Mom! Kiarna!" She could hear her mother's placating tones as she spoke to the children, telling them how hard their Auntie Tegan had worked on the piece of art and how special it was. Unable to ignore the utter chaos, Kiarna threw the covers off of her and lumbered down the stairs. Tegan was the first to see her, but she hardly got any words out before three little faces rushed at Kiarna in a blur of laughter and smiles. The small whirlwinds knocked the breath from her, and she pretended to fall under their weight, commencing the ritual tickling and kissing until they were all so tired that they lay in a heap on the cool marble floor. The smell of freshly broken Shiga fruit descended upon her senses. "Mmm. Well, I can see that I didn't miss breakfast." "She knows to call you a half an hour beforehand,” said Tegan, gritting the words out through clenched teeth. “You were supposed to be up helping me with them," she pointed to the three children sprawled upon the floor, "not lazing about all day.” Luckily, Arliel came to the rescue before Kiarna was able to throttle her sister. "Tegan, sweety, since most of the family is here, I think we could use a centerpiece on the table. How about that blown glass piece that you did last year, the one that has colored glass strands inside of it? The sunlight will really highlight it, I think." Tegan instantly lit up and went off to fetch the object. Arliel smiled after her youngest child. Tegan had been touchy lately because she was sure that she wouldn’t qualify for symbiosis. Kiarna hadn’t even known that it was such a big deal to her younger sister. She’d hardly been around in the past years since she’d first went into Starfleet. “You and Jandra don’t call or come home enough. It’s been hard on your sister. She’s been feeling a self-induced pressure from your successes.” Kiarna sighed and looked at her mother, an apology ready in her eyes. She had been neglectful. Coming home was not easy. She’d had her own life away from her family, her own disappointments and heartbreak. It had been her time to grow and become an adult. Her family had taken a backseat. The last time that she had been home, Neko had been Vonaghan’s and Cassiene’s only child. Now they were about to have their fourth and the family was headed to the hospital where both Cassiene and Vonaghan had been staying for the past week. Cassiene had been on bed rest, and Vonaghan wanted to make sure that she was well cared for. He had brought her to the maternity ward’s residence block, a place for mother’s to prepare for birth away from the normal stress of everyday life. * * * Hours later, through a crystal screen that announced each child’s time and date of birth, parents’ names, birth weight and length, and name, Kiarna could see dozens of tiny babies, each swathed in white linen. The new addition to the family was a girl. Cassiene wanted to name the baby after her sister, Katta, who had been joined briefly. Unfortunately, the symbiont had suffered when Katta had received a foreign insect sting on another planet. She had returned as quickly as she could, but to save the symbiont, it had to be removed from Katta. She had died three hours after the removal of Desol from her womb. Katta seemed the obvious choice for a name, but Vonaghan and Katta had never gotten along. Vonaghan felt that Katta had believed she was better than the majority of Trill’s citizens, being a member of the joined minority, and indeed, privileges had been granted to her that had not been granted to others in her career field. It was what seemed to fuel Trill these days, privileged and unprivileged, joined and unjoined. The news had been trickling in that Trill’s government had been lying to its own people for years, that Trill’s symbionts were directly related to the parasites that has so recently attacked Trill and Bajor. A group called the neo-purists had been causing trouble, and the air was rife with tension. Protest rallies were gathering steam around the globe, even in smaller towns. The neo-purists wanted a symbiont-free Trill, believing the symbionts were little more than slugs that controlled their “pampered and privileged humanoid slaves.” Others wanted joining for all. Many just wanted the truth. Cassiene had been given something to help her sleep. She had been highly agitated because of the planet wide comnet message that had been aired by a neo-purist activist named Nas Ditrel. Kiarna had never liked the idea of joining, tending to think that a symbiont changed a host, turning them into a completely different person, and she did not agree with the privileges that were extended to the joined. Her sister, Jandra, had advanced in Starfleet much more quickly than Kiarna. The joined were also slated for all positions in the government. Kiarna’s views had caused a very strained relationship with her sister, but her views were nothing compared to the woman on the comnet. Ditrel’s message was extreme. The comnet message had seemed to fuel the protesters around the city. Kiarna was concerned at what could happen, but she wanted to hear what Nas had to say. Nas Ditrel said she had evidence that the parasites originated from Trill, a reason for all of Trill to be concerned because of the genetic relation between the symbionts and the parasites. The neo-purists believed that the parasites were on their way to attack Trill because of ancient crimes committed against them after experimentation on symbionts by a group of Trill settlers on a planet names Kurl went bad. The neo-purists also believed that the Trill government knew why the parasites had a vendetta against Trill and demanded that they discontinue their lies and secrets. “Be warned: we will not permit any such thing to happen to our world again. We will stand vigilantly against the parasites and their so-called symbiont cousins. We will allow neither the joined nor the creatures who control them to lead us to destruction. In the defense of our world, we are prepared to take drastic measures.” Kiarna turned away from the babies to find Jandra waiting for her. As always, an uneasy tension hovered between them. “Vonaghan and Cassiene are both resting. It’s turned into full out rioting out there. Let’s see if there is anything we can do.” Jandra took Kiarna’s arm, linking it with her own. Kiarna swept an uneasy hand up, tucking stray wisps of hair behind her ear. They walked to the front of the hospital in silence, their own tension combining with the tension of the Trill people in the city. They walked quickly. As they reached a lift, Jandra turned and spoke quickly. “I wish you could accept me like this, Kiarna. I’m still your sister, you know, symbiont or not.” Since Jandra’s joining, the two sisters had hardly talked. Kiarna had pulled away from her sister, and it had obviously pained Jandra. She didn’t know what to tell Jandra. The Zak symbiont made Kiarna uneasy. It was as though her sister’s eyes belonged to someone else now. “I know what you are, Jandra. My sister, yes, though much different from the girl I grew up with.” “All people change, Kiarna. No one can stay the same as they were as a child. Life doesn’t work that way.” Kiarna looked at her sister and started to speak, but before she could, Jandra’s body reacted as though it had been hit with something and she let out a scream that ripped through Kiarna. Her blood froze and she caught Jandra before she crumpled to the ground. Her sister’s weight pulled her down and she sunk to the floor, cradling a writhing and screaming Jandra in her arms. “Jandra! What’s happening?! Kiarna tried hard not to panic but Jandra’s eyes were large and glassy. She strained for breath and clawed at Kiarna. Movement from Jandra’s abdomen caught Kiarna’s eyes. Something was wrong with the Zak symbiont, and she couldn’t tell if Jandra was ill and the symbiont was suffering because of it or if it was the other way around. A shrill scream rent the air. It was coming from her sister, but it sounded alien, and then her sister’s voice merged with it so that they were both screaming. Kiarna’s heart was racing. She looked around wildly for medical personnel, but the hall was deserted. “Medical emergency!” She yelled as loud as she could, but no one came. Her sister’s tortured scream ripped through her eardrums with such ferocity that Kiarna was suffering herself, her ears gnawing from her sister’s pain. She knew them. The neo-purists had struck somehow. She grabbed Jandra under the arms and hoisted her up, dragging her backwards into the lift and pressed the button for the triage center. Her sister’s and Zak’s mingled screams continued to radiate through her body, and she broke down in helpless frustration, her vision blurring as the lift opened up near triage. “Help me!” she yelled, hoping someone would come rushing. No one came. She dragged her sister further. She tried to get into the intake ward, but a guard stopped her. She did what she knew would get her sister care, even though she knew it might hurt someone else. She knew somehow that her sister’s condition was very serious. “She’s joined!” Kiarna yelled. Immediately, a flurry of activity surrounded her sister. A doctor came over personally and assisted her onto a gurney, rushing her back into the trauma unit. One of the nurses tried to lead Kiarna away, but she was having none of it. The cacophony of screams assaulted her senses, Jandra’s among them. Around her, dozens of joined Trills were dying, all the victims of some sort of attack. Jandra was scanned quickly with a plisagraph as she was placed on a hospital bed. “She’s rejecting her symbiont. Isoboramine, stat!” Jandra was injected, but there seemed to be no change. “The symbiont is in neuroleptic shock. Prepare symbiogenic neurotransmitters.” Once again, Jandra was injected. Zak seemed to quiet his thrashing and Jandra quit screaming, though her eyes remained glassy and unresponsive and her breathing was ragged. “Let’s prepare to remove the symbiont. Get me a mobile symbiont pool!” “No! You can’t do this!” Kiarna put her arms over her sister’s abdomen to stop any further action and glared at the doctor. The doctor looked at her as if she was crazy. “This symbiont will die if we don’t extract it immediately. I don’t care how famous your family is, Miss Taiven. I have a duty to this symbiont, to preserve the memories of all hosts for future generations. If left in the host, this symbiont will die.” The doctor didn’t even look agrieved. “Her name is Jandra, not ‘the host!’ She is a living, breathing being who deserves your care! Please!” She could feel the tears stream down her face and wiped at them blindly. The doctor looked as though he was contemplating having her forcibly removed. Kiarna was desperate. She looked at her sister and cupped her face. “Come on, Jandra. Wake up. Please. Show them you can fight this. Come on!” Jandra’s body began to convulse again and the medical staff restrained her to keep her from hurting herself or anyone else. Kiarna hardly heard what was going on after that. She just willed Jandra to fight...for what she didn’t know. “Your sister accepted the commitment of a symbiont when she was joined. She knew that it could mean that she would have to die to save her symbiont one day. It is the risk the joined must take. The symbiont comes first. Now move so we can save it!” “No!” Her hatred for the doctor and his uncaring attitude fueled her words. “Everything that is happening is the fault of people like you! You and your “symbionts first” attitude, your reverence!” She no longer cared how she sounded. She didn’t care if it was conduct unbecoming of a Starfleet officer. She wanted to lash out at this vile man who would dispose of her sister so carelessly. “No, Kiarna,” a whisper traveled up from the bed that held her sister. Her sister was struggling to speak. Kiarna leaned close, the tears bright on her face. “Jandra, don’t let them do this, please, please. Oh, God. I’m so sorry, Jandra. So sorry for everything I felt, everything I said. Please don’t let them do this.” “It was...so quick...but I...knew.... It was...an...honor...to be Zak’s...host, even...for a short...time. Her breathing came quicker now. She looked over at the doctor. “Please...let them...save Zak.” Her sister’s pleading eyes ripped at her, and she stepped back. The nurses and doctor converged around Jandra, the doctor’s laser scalpel quickly going to work. A few moments later, a shuddering gray mass was deposited into a waiting artificial symbiont pool and whisked away. It would be returned to the Caves of Mak’ala, perhaps to heal, perhaps to die. Without ceremony, the nurses and doctor rushed off to another patient and left her sister on the bed to die. Kiarna lay down on the bed and pulled her sister into her arms. Jandra’s breathing was coming slowly now. Slowly, softly, she stroked her sister’s cheek and whispered to her. “I was stupid, Jandra. I see that now. If only....” But if onlys should not be dwelt on, for nothing can be done about them. Jandra knew this, and though she could feel her life ebbing away, her soul being pulled, she looked at her sister. “You were...what a sister...should be. I understand...now...why. Zak is...gone. I feel different.... Tell Mom and Dad...I love them. Garon and...Tegan and Vonaghan...Cassiene...the same. The babies...and...tell...I’ll always be...my Lincoln...oh my Lincoln. We never...had the chance...to get...married.” Jandra’s grief was etched upon her face. The tears ran in rivulets down her pale cheeks. “I wanted...so much. Tell him...I love him.” Jandra struggled to form the words as her breathing slowed. A low keening was coming from Kiarna’s own lips. She couldn’t seem to stop the tortured, wild sound from escaping as her body was wracked with sobs. She smoothed her sister’s hair back, caressing her softly. Jandra’s breaths were becoming more shallow. She held her close, her head upon her chest, feeling the weary rise and fall of her chest. “My sister, my sister. I’m so sorry.” Another breath, faint...then another. Jandra waited, each breath coming further and further apart, and then Kiarna’s head no longer rose and fell with her sister’s breaths, and she allowed her vision to blur as she shut her eyes against the world around her. * * * It had been for the honor and glory of Trill. Ninety percent of the joined population had been slaughtered. That had been the neo-purists’ target, though many unjoined who had been too close to the bio-electric bombs or who had been caught in the rioting, had been killed, as well. The neo-purists felt that justice had been served. Kiarna sat by her sister’s grave, one amid thousands of new graves: Jandra Taiven Beloved daughter, sister, aunt, granddaughter, friend. Starfleet Officer Host of Zak At what cost, honor? Trill had been brought to its knees, forced to see its past injustices through irreplaceable sacrifices. Kiarna rose and walked away from her sister’s resting place. She might never understand the honor her sister had felt to be among the joined, the host of Zak, but she knew the honor she felt now at having had Jandra Taiven as a sister, and she was glad that her sister’s memories would be carried on through Zak. In a way, she lived.
  21. Well, no one ever accused me of doing things the easy way.
  22. Don't worry. All of my characters are from my own head. There is one part where I'm going to need to mention a treatment that was implemented by Dr. Bashir, but I won't mention his name, and it will be only in passing. There will be no direct conversation or actions that involve him. I'll have to look up that story of yours Idril. Rocar, definitely get the book!
  23. Is it permissable to use non-canon information, such as the events from Star Trek books, in order to create a story? The story idea I've had floating around in my head deals with the events from the Worlds of Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Trill and the neo-purist movement that caused great devestation to the planet.
  24. I did mention the technology bit, and that is why I said we have to use our imaginations. I suppose they did use PADDs in TOS, if that is what those big, clunky black things were. I was only seven when I was watching the show, so I don't remember much, but basically it irks me that the Enterprise creators went so far off the mark. Their PADDs look much more like those used in the later series. It's like TOS never existed.
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