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Rahman and Rivi Vataix

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About Rahman and Rivi Vataix

  • Birthday May 19

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  1. From "Commodore, If You Please" That's the most Del response I couldn't have even imagined, @Tony, aka Kells.
  2. Congratulations! We're fortunate to have such talented players among us!
  3. Congratulations to all of our talented and wonderful players! Your recognition is well-earned!
  4. "Red is and always will be your colour, ervami." -Tristam Core (played by @Blake)
  5. ((Saucer Hull, USS Veritas - Early Morning, Day of Departure from Kidman I)) Roshanara stepped back out onto the hull and walked around the bridge module, although this time she didn’t have to walk quite so far to the ship’s name and registry. Sitting on top of the saucer with her back leaned up against the front of the deck 1 dome was Starfleet’s newest commander, Blake. The captain walked over and took a moment to look out towards where Blake was staring. The morning sun was just beginning to dawn. Rahman: You’re up early. Blake: Used to live by the mantra, “if there’s no sun, it’s not morning.” Space kind of blows that out of the water. Her captain chuckled at the thought. Rahman: I have a groggy Rodulan back in my quarters and under the covers who’d vehemently disagree. The Brekkazoid huffed in agreement, crossing her arms. Blake: So what brings you up here? Getting a last look before you captain the take-off? Rahman: Hmmmph. I was about to ask you the same thing. Roshanara decided to take a seat next to her XO. She took another moment to savor the view, leaning back with her palms against the hull. The metal was actually a bit warm to the touch thanks to Kidman’s hotter climate. It was comforting, as if the two women were sitting on top of a living creature. The Kriosian spoke up again. Rahman: I can see why you like it out here. The XO rubbed her hands together, arms and legs free of long sleeves and pant-legs respectively. Today, Blake was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts -- a rare sight to see on the Brekkazoid so unsuited to regular human climates. Bupirninyirring afforded her that which wasn’t always offered on a starship. Blake: I don’t have to rug up as much. ::she smiled:: A bit of freedom, really. Rahman: I can imagine. Growing up on Earth in Lahore, it took me a while to get used to the cooler temperatures of Beta Ursae Minor II. This place reminds me a little bit of home. Silence crept between them on a light breeze. The orange hue of sunrise stained the morning sky. The cloudless blue was atypical of the planet. It indicated a dry heat to set in soon -- often a cause for complaints by some. Not necessarily by the Brekkian-born Blake. It was something Sabor, too, would have enjoyed. Blake: Can I ask a dumb question? Rahman: Only if you’re okay with a dumb answer. Blake: Is it too late to ask you to take it back? Roshanara turned towards her Number One, scrunching her nose. Rahman: Take what back? Blake responded with a piercing side-glance. Rahman: ::shaking head:: You know, Blake, for a woman many would describe as fearless, I’m always surprised what *does* scare you. Blake glanced away, back to Kidman I’s bushland. ‘Fearless’ was certainly a descriptor -- maybe sometimes a valid one, but in the case of her personal ‘growth’... she disagreed with the assessment. Blake: I recognise you, and others, believe I’m ready for this. I appreciate it. But what I’m not ready for… is the necessity of my taking command. When you’re captain, that’s a safety net. I can fall back and execute your word, no problem -- that's my job, and always has been. But now, there’s the possibility I could be called elsewhere. Roshanara corrected her. Rahman: That was *always* a possibility. We’re Starfleet officers. We go where we’re needed. The words were familiar. She was told in no uncertain terms that this was the way things were when Veritas underwent its staff shift, when her first group of friends were dispersed across the region to make way for the staff that built the bones of this particular senior staff. Blake: “Transfers are part of the career. You don't like it, now is the time to throw in your hat.” It was something Brandon Cormac had told her almost three years ago when she was struggling with her place on the ship. Cormac had been Veritas’ Special Operations Officer before he was transferred to the ill-fated Outpost 3 during the staff reshuffle. He was the sole survivor of a pirate attack on the station. Starfleet failed to send someone out to assist, word only travelling between friends that something was amiss. Once rescued, he promptly quit the service and moved over to the Colonial Coalition Marshals. He now works planetside, as a marshal on Shadow’s Edge, decidedly happier and in a long-distance relationship with fellow ex-crewmember Elis Nacubaq. Rahman: ::nods:: “Pack light, pack often.” It was a familiar mantra she’d shared with Addison MacKenzie when the doctor and Teller took up the opportunities that had opened on the Thor earlier this year. Rahman: But still, you should put to rest your worries. Outside of wartime and a major crisis, Starfleet isn’t in the habit of just plucking random names across the fleet to put into the captain’s chair. I imagine you’ll start getting offers of your own command in due time once the Admiralty thinks you’re ready, but you could always decline. Eventually, they’ll stop asking -- which I guess depending on whatever your ambitions are, could be a good or bad thing. Blake: That’s the thing. I don’t really have ambition for the ‘service’. Rahman: That’s okay. We all have our own reasons for being here. Roshanara watched her XO’s eyes closely. Rahman: Whether they’re fresh-faced ensigns straight from the Academy or veteran officers trying to move up to the ranks, I usually know or find out quickly what drives them to be here. I realize now after all this time with you by my side, I’ve never asked *you* why you’re in Starfleet. She continued to observe Blake as the Brekkazoid considered the question. It felt like one of those “It all started…” moments Blake couldn’t really answer. For all intents and purposes, Blake’s life truly began less than a decade ago. In a previous lifetime, Sky Blake had been part of Starfleet. Blake today didn’t know how, nor why she had joined. ((Flashback -- Ornara -- 239105)) Caronx: Are you alright, stranger? The Brekkazoid’s chest was shuddering as her body shivered. She'd been here, standing at this curb, for over an hour now. She didn't not turn to look at the one approaching, but her eyes made the effort to at least try and see what they looked like. The woman approaching was an Ornaran, in a uniform of some kind. Security, maybe. They had no weapon to speak of -- a far cry from the disastrous Brekkian security she’d lost herself to over the last three days. The officer continued to approach Sky carefully, non-threateningly, which she would have laughed at had she not been in a somewhat catatonic state. Caronx: I'm Officer Caronx. Someone has told me that you may need assistance. Can I locate someone for you? That was it. What composure she'd retained for the short journey here had been truly and utterly lost. Skyleena Blake fell to her knees, heaving sobs and blinded by her own tears. The Ornaran -- Officer Caronx -- had forgone slowly approaching her and threw her arms around Sky's shoulders as the blond Brekkian Betazoid simply cried into the street. ((End flashback)) Blake today knows she rejoined Starfleet based on a series of fortunate events. She’d abandoned life and responsibilities on Brekka to live anonymously on Ornara -- a result of a broken psyche and loss of a loved one. There, she met a local police officer that found her necessary assistance. Blake joined a police task force to combat felicium in the region. And then a ridiculous Starfleet officer found her, with the intention to bring her “back” to Starfleet. Nevermind that Blake knew next to nothing about Starfleet, but Veritas needed assistance with the felicium problem in the area, and Blake, apparently being the only available Brekkian that had joined Starfleet, was their best bet. Carrero gave her a provisional rank of Lieutenant Commander (the rank she had originally held prior to retirement the first time). Things just… spiralled from there. That was all well and good. The “how” was fairly self-explanatory, if a little convoluted, but it was there. The “why” was a little harder to explain. Blake: I could’ve left when we finished up with felicium. Rahman: But you didn’t. Blake: No. I didn’t. I was given a reason to get up in the morning -- it continues to give me a purpose. A book to follow. Rahman: That’s a perfectly good reason. One that Roshanara related to well. She’d struggled with her own sense of purpose for a bit while she had been on medical leave after her accident on the Tempest fourteen years ago. A Medusan researcher who’d chosen to go by the name Frankenstein helped get her back on track while she recovered on Medical Starbase 253. Blake: Thing is, though… I don’t actually like being on starships. Roshanara couldn’t help it. She let out a snort. Rahman: So you’re a masochist then? ::She shrugged her shoulders.:: That would explain a lot. The two shared a laugh. Blake shook her head a little. Blake: It’s very claustrophobic. I get sick all the time because the temperature is too cold, which means I’m confined to my spaces for most of the time. And I just… She glanced away for a moment. Blake: When we were at the border, and we were going up against those Orion ships while trying to push that damn station back over while trying not to draw Tholian attention… At the end of the day, Veritas is a tin can in space. And I was in charge of it, and its two-hundred and twenty crew. And while I believe I did the best I could have done under the circumstances… it’s not a position I want to be in again. Her captain took her own moment to consider everything she’d said. Rahman: I think any starship commander who says they haven’t thought similar is either a liar or a fool. Blake raised an eyebrow. Rahman: You’re right. ::She tapped her knuckles against the hull plating underneath them, a satisfying metallic echo returning.:: You were in charge of this tin can, and it’s not a job for everyone. It’s a popular misconception, but not everyone in Starfleet wants to become a captain. *I* certainly didn’t join thinking that’s where I’d be now. Blake: Your focus was engineering, right? Rahman: ::nods:: It was -- and still is. No matter where I go, I’ll always still be an engineer at heart. Starfleet for me was a chance to work on the latest technological developments, a chance to contribute the next innovation to the galaxy. From the quantum slipstream drive to the Warp XV engine, the little girl who’d dreamed of reaching the stars would have been amazed to see what her older self ultimately had managed to work on. Rahman: But it’s different for everyone. Scientists, pilots, doctors, peace keepers… Starfleet is a large enough institution to give many reasons to get up in the morning. The thing is, Blake, you *earned* that third full pip. You might not ever have ambitions of having your own starship, but your leadership and sense of duty to a greater purpose besides yourself--whether it be the safety of your crew or the population of this region… those are an integral part of who you are now, the person you’ve become. A small smile touched at the edge of Blake’s lips as she looked away once more. The sun had risen from behind the trees, bathing Kidman and Veritas in a warm light. Blake: When my tour of duty is done, I’d like to return to the Rangers. Roshanara looked back at her XO, seeing the woman’s slight grin and sensing from her a renewed sense of content. Rahman: All right. I think that can be arranged. The Kriosian stood up and looked down at Blake. Rahman: But you’ve still got some work left to do here. The XO looked up at her captain, eyes narrowing against the sunlight. She scoffed at herself, fully aware of the tumultuous months that were likely lying ahead. She reached a hand outwards, Roshanara assisting her up from the hull. Blake: On your order, Captain. ((Bridge, USS Veritas)) The two command officers walked out onto the bridge, a crewman calling out, “Captain on the bridge!” Roshanara gave a glance around the room and nodded. Rahman: I hope everyone enjoyed the sunshine. The captain then walked over to her command chair before looking over towards Blake, taking the XO station. Rahman: Number One, I believe when I left you this spaceship, it was in space. Please put it back. The Commander gaped for a moment, because nodding her head in an un-protested affirmation. Blake: Blue alert. Helm, contact Engineering, prepare thrusters for planetary take-off. As the bridge crew around her acknowledged the orders, Blake took her station behind the captain. Though unexpected of a vessel not entirely suited to landing, Veritas’ nacelles inched off the ground, gradually pulling away from the comfortable land of Kidman I and returning to the vast unpredictability of space. --- And the Adventure Continues... Commander Sky Blake ( @Blake) Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0 & Captain Roshanara Rahman ( @Roshanara Rahman ) CO, USS Veritas I238705TZ0
  6. A great sim by @Blake setting up some philosophical questions/debate to come... Further Reading on the Wiki: Donova IV, Cobalt Clan, Sokarn zh'Kuujn ((Corridor)) The peace and quiet of the otherwise empty walkway was disturbed by the ship's First Officer jogging to catch up with the head of the Starfleet Rangers division of the Shoals. Blake: Caide! The Trill stopped in the middle of the hallway to wait for her, the flaps of her unzipped uniform vest limp at her sides. Lieutenant Rairen Caide nodded his head in (unexpected) greeting. The corners of his mouth crinkled upward. Caide: Commander. Aren't you supposed to be on Donova with the rest of the senior staff? Blake: I got called back to help Zhou with something -- Ukinix has got it. But that's actually what I wanted to talk to you about. Caide: Commander Ukinix? She squinted at him, brow pinched in confusion. Blake: Ukinix--? oh. Oh! No. No, not Ukinix. Um... no, no I recognise one of the organisers' names. Do you know anything about Sokarn zh'Kuujn? Caide: I know a lot about zh'Kuujn. She is the head of the Cobalt Clan. The Veritas XO blinked, wires in her brain shorting at the information. She rose a hand, finger accenting the words. Blake: Sokarn zh'Kuujn is... Caide:::gradually nodding with her:: ...head of the Cobalt Clan, yes. Silence permeated the space between them, Blake's head moving to glance away. Confusion riddled the space around her eyes, and she gaped at Caide. Her hand snaked into her hair, gripping at it as she rested the other on her hip. Blake: The Cobalt Clan are... criminals? The definition gave Caide paused, tasting the word in his mouth before he commented. Caide: Technically speaking, yes. They engage in what the Federation at large may deem to be criminal activities. Blake: Caide, we're actively working with the leader of a criminal organisation! We have the opportunity to arrest her. Caide: ...in theory. Blake: In theory-- wh- ::she growls.:: That's not the answer I expected from you. Caide: What did you expect me to say? Blake: I expected you to say "yes Blake, go get the cuffs, I'll meet you on the surface so we can get zh'Kuujn". Caide: And what would doing that prove? Blake continued to gape at him, trying to find some hint in his deep brown eyes that maybe he was saying all this in jest. He wasn't. Caide's thick eyebrows were pulled together expectantly, dimples crinkled as he waited for her answer. Blake: We'd take down the head of Donova's largest criminal organisation. I'd thought you of all people would agree. Caide: From a Starfleet Security standpoint, I ordinary would. But as a Ranger, I have to disagree. Blake: On what grounds? Caide: They're responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. Blake: The Donovan government is responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. The Trill's shoulders shuddered, lips pursing to contain laughter. He clasped his hands together in front of him. Caide: No. That's what the Donovan government would prefer to say. In reality, the Cobalt Clan, and more specifically, the Kuujn clan, are caring for Donova. Blake: I'm still struggling with how that's a good thing, Caide. Caide: Even if we arrest Sokarn zh'Kuujn, we would have to release her to Donova Marshals -- most of which have the utmost respect for her or have been 'paid' by the Kuujn clan to have her released on sight. Nevermind government intervention of her arrest. The words perplexed her. The very idea of allowing zh'Kuujn to walk free was an insult to the very fibre of her being. zh'Kuujn was not an innocent woman: the Cobalt Clan was behind significant crimes against the people of Donova. Caide had been furious at Blake's skirting the rules on Ketar V -- which had resulted in Lukaik's death. Now he was suddenly okay with bending the rules? Blake: Why? Why be complicit now? Caide: Each colony has its own way of functioning in the Shoals. This is why I've made a point to visit each one. Donova is the most peaceful of the Colonial Coalition, by far. It is a functioning, prosperous Federation world. No one denies the Cobalt Clan is a gang of organised criminals. Blake: So we could take them down under Operation Safe Harbor? Caide cringed, tilting his head at her. Caide: I recognise Veritas may have deviated a little from its original mission objective on account of the Tholians in the last five years, but Operation Safe Harbor's original objective was to protect trade routes. An argument could potentially be made to include the Cobalt Clan, but they're not pirates. They have transport ships, but no spatial artillery of their own. And if they do, they've been doing a better job patrolling the Donova system than Starfleet has. Kelrod: =/\= Commander Kelrod to Lt. Caide =/\= The Trill spared her a sympathetic look before tapping his combadge. Caide: =/\= Go ahead? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I need your help to get an update on Donova's situation as well as help to prepare myself to the latest protocols to act with local authorities in case something comes up during the battle of the bands =/\= Caide: =/\= I'll endeavour to assist. =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I can meet with you wherever you consider best. =/\= Caide: =/\= The command information centre then, sir? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I'll be there. Kelrod out =/\= The com closed. Silence permeated the space between Caide and Blake, the latter looking up at the Trill. Blake: If I were to arrest her...? Caide: I believe Donova would rather you didn't. Blake: But if I did? Caide: Then she is temporarily inconvenienced until such time she is inevitably released from prison. The corruption runs deep within Donova, Commander. To dismantle the systems the Cobalt Clan put into place would take years, perhaps even decades. But what they have in place serves them well. No one is held there against their will -- debt notwithstanding, of course. Blake: Yeah. That's the problem. Bitter, Blake turned on her heel and walked away. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  7. OOC: This scene is compiled from a few sims, but the bulk of it was posted as "Haunted" in three parts by @Blake. ((Deck 2, USS Veritas)) The turbolift stopped at Deck 2. Blake turned her head to Wong. Blake: If you wish to speak more with Ukinix, I can make my way back to my quarters on my own. Wong: ::Raising an eyebrow:: Are you sure? Blake: Positive. Wong: Only if you’re okay with it. With a roll of her eyes and a sly smile across her lips, Blake turned with her hand outstretched to the bulkhead on her right, fingers grazing against it. She began to walk away. Blake: I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't, Wong. Ukinix: Take care, Commander! ((Blake's Quarters)) Well, at least now that she was blind, she didn't need the lights on. ...is what she would have thought, had the lights of her quarters had not already been on. The unusual flood of blurry illumination of her quarters dazed her somewhat. The emptiness of her quarters worked to her benefit: there was nothing for her to trip on as she continued to trail her way through her living space with the guided assistance of peculiar lighting and hands. Commander Tenzin Zhou, former first officer of the USS Veritas and now commanding officer of the Starfleet support annex of Star Station Esperance was happily asleep on Sky Blake's couch, having snuck in to surprise the Brekkian/Betazoid. However, he'd soon grown bored waiting for her to finally show up, so he'd passed out unceremoniously and didn't hear when she entered nor did he wake up until she had nearly sat on him. She sensed Zhou Tai-Sheng before she "saw" him. The long (ha) figure was stretched out on her couch, dead to the world. Blake seated herself on his legs. Zhou: Agh! He shielded his eyes from the bright lights of the room. Zhou: ...about time you showed up. Blake: In my quarters? Yes, how dare I be late for my own couch. She flicked at his waistline. Blake: Which begs the question... Zhou: Well, you didn't change the manual override codes for the door, so... Her eyebrows crinkled somewhat. Override codes weren't exactly "adjustable" more-so granted on a rank-by-rank basis. In Zhou's case, he (by a technicality) outranked her. Huh. They were the same rank now. That felt... awkward. Blake: Aren't you meant to be commanding a star-station? The human slid his legs out from under her, pulling a pillow she'd knocked onto the floor by accident back onto the couch. Zhou: I was in the area and wanted to say hi to my friend. Is that such a crime? Blake: If your crew didn't know better, they might construe it as a desertion of your post... A pause fell between them. Zhou: What happened to you? Blake: As in my eyes? ::she didn't see any affirmative motion:: It's a long story involving an atmosphere that didn't agree with me. Zhou: Yeesh... hey. ::smiles:: I have an idea about what will make you feel better. Blake: Tai, I feel fine. Zhou: Trust me, okay? ((later)) Pressing his thumbs into her muscles, Zhou continued to massage Blake's upper back. He could feel the large knot underneath her warm skin. Zhou: Geeze, when was the last time you just sat in a spa... Blake:::mumbling:: Before I got your job. He grinned as he began running his thumbs in small circles before pressing his other fingers along the back of her neck. The Great Bird of the Galaxy enjoyed irony, it seemed. It was only a little over five years ago that Zhou had found Blake back in that bar on Ornara and yet in some ways, it seemed like a lifetime ago... ((FLASHBACK: Ornara, Delos system: https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=SIM:Five_Long_Years#Zhou_Tai-Sheng:_Four )) Blake: Who the hell are you? Because she was ridiculously close to either zapping him or breaking his arm. Zhou: Zhou Tai-Sheng. But people just call me Zhou. ::He took a sip from his glass as he sat down finally on the seat next to her.:: Who the hell are you? Blake: Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement. Normally that scared the hell out of a lot of tourists, and she was *really* hoping that it would yet again, but something told her that that wouldn’t happen this time. She was starting to get really annoyed now. Zhou: Ah… explains the face, I guess. Blake: State your business or I’ll break your *own* face. Zhou sighed before taking another sip. Seems it just wasn’t in the cards this time. Oh well. Her loss. Zhou: Well, Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement, it’s funny you should ask--or command, I guess. ::He shrugged before clearing his throat.:: Anyway, I’m looking for a Sky Blake, former Starfleet security officer. Her eyes narrowed. A certain lack of telepathy meant that she had no idea of what he was thinking - something she’d grown surprisingly used to whilst working on Ornara, but it was still unsettling when some random Terran walked into a bar looking for her. Her Starfleet file should have closed when Brekkian Embassies or whatnot sent her death certificate to Starfleet Medical - she’d only gone on leave, and they couldn’t exactly call a dead Chief of Security back to work. Nobody here on Ornara recognised her - it was half the reason she was here. No Starfleet, and certainly no Brekkians trying to kill her for various reasons. Not to mention that her family were now only a planet away should they need her (not that they knew that). Blake: She died a while ago. Should read Brekkian news outlets a little more often. Zhou: Yeah, that is what they said on Brekka. Hmmph, isn’t it just uncanny? He shrugged again before taking a final sip of his drink. He squinted his eyes as he slammed the still half-full glass on the table. Zhou: Ooo, that really clears the sinuses! Well, Ms. Blake, it was… interesting talking to you. ::He glanced back around the room.:: Perhaps you were right about this place being a dead end. He got up to leave but then placed his cash card on the table next to her data pad. Zhou: Feel free to use whatever’s left on that. As you know, I’m not going to need it. Have a good evening. And with that, he walked out of the bar. She sat there glaring at the card for a few seconds considering her next actions. A Terran on Ornara only normally happened when the Terran was involved with drug smuggling. But he knew her by name before she introduced herself and that she’d been in Starfleet. *No* Terran on Ornara knew that. oO Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him . . . Oo With careful fingers, she lifted the card off the bar, only to look back towards the door. oO Tosser. Oo She got up in a flash, pulling her jacket off the bar with a whip as she went after the Terran. ((END FLASHBACK)) After a lovely evening where Blake kept Zhou from poisoning himself by ordering the wrong menu item, he'd eventually managed to get her to take a chance and join him back on Veritas in their anti-drug smuggling operations dealing with the felicium trade that had spread to areas like the Shoals. It took a little more time, but eventually, he got her to trust him enough that he got her to put back on a Starfleet uniform and have the late Veritas CO Captain Rosa Carrero give Blake her rank back. Of course, while Blake and Zhou served together on Veritas and spent time in these quarters, more often then not, their uniforms ended up as hers was now, discarded or hanging over a chair. Taking a glance over at her tunic, Zhou smiled again when he saw the three commander pips still pinned onto it. She had been so insistent in those early days that she'd wanted really nothing to do with the service--that she'd grudgingly accepted her commission back as a legal formality while operating out here. But Zhou knew better. Blake might never become a starship captain or have ambitions of becoming one, but she *was* a woman of duty and a leader. As the last member of Carrero's senior staff still serving on Veritas, he hoped Rahman and the others knew how lucky they were to have her. Zhou: So how long until you can see again? She answered back as she rested barechested against her pillow. Blake: Could be anywhere between tomorrow and next month. Zhou: Next month?! He frowned, genuinely concerned about his friend. Blake: Technically I can see. It's just a bunch of smeared colours, is all. Zhou: You always downplay things, Blake. ::He shook his head.:: Maybe you should take a short leave and come back to Esperance. Get treated at the hospital there. I saw the last personnel report. I know Veritas doesn't even have a chief medical officer right now. Blake: Like I told Ukinix: this is hardly the worst thing I've had to deal with over the last year. That didn't shake the human commander's frown. He knew Blake wasn't one to need anyone's protection, but still, since finding her and bringing her back into the fold five years ago, he couldn't help but be concerned for her. She was one of the few folks he gave a damn about beyond small talk and mission reports. He slowed the rubbing of his fingers against her neck until he stopped and rested his palms against the back of her shoulder blades for a moment. From her Brekkian heritage, she naturally ran a bit hotter than most humanoids, and he always enjoyed feeling the heat transfer from her body to his whenever they shared these moments of physical intimacy. He leaned over and began kissing the back of her neck. The Brekkazoid shifted her head, cracking her eyes open toward his general direction. Blake: Tell me why you're really here. And don't just say because you felt like a break. This is the second time in twelve months you've taken leave from Esperance. Zhou: Can't a guy just visit his friends once in a while? Blake: Last I checked, it was my turn to visit you. The human sighed, falling beside her on the bed. Zhou deliberately put himself into her view, the colour of his skin smudging against the darkened background of her quarters. She flinched (instinctively) when one of his fingers pushed some loose strands of hair from her face. Air puffed from her nose. Zhou: Well, first, I *did* want to check in on you. It's been a while, after all. Blake: ...that's not really unusual in our line of work. Zhou: But yeah, there's another matter as well. Remember our old buddy Kallo? She groaned, rolling onto her back and closing her eyes tight. Zhou: Well, he's gone missing apparently. Blake: Good. Maybe he went home to that scam Zambranian Royal Family he has or... whatever. Zhou: I don't know if anyone will really miss him. Still, it could mean he's bitten off more than he could chew again and gotten into some real trouble. The Brekkazoid pointed a finger toward him, wagging it at him as irritation glossed across her brow. Blake: No. Don't say it. Don't you dare say it. The bed rustled as Zhou readjusted himself. Zhou: Come on, you have to admit you enjoyed this more than if I'd just sent you a letter. Blake: I would have enjoyed this more if you didn't mention the name "Kallo Ver". I would rather blind myself again than willingly help him, so please, if there is anything else up your sleeve... Silence. Zhou: All right, maybe there was something else. Blake: Thank Noree. Zhou: You know both our tours are coming to an end next year. Blake: So I've been told. Zhou: You think you'll stick around for another one out here? She reopened her eyes at that. Blake pressed her cheek into the fabric of her bed, considering her answer. The most she'd thought about it had been in a discussion with Rairen Caide. Outside of that... Blake: It's still up in the air, but I'm in discussions with the Rangers. ::beat:: You? Zhou: I've been thinking of either looking into another assignment... or maybe even taking a sabbatical from Starfleet. Blake: A sabbatical? Zhou: I don't know... I just... I've been feeling a little restless this past year, Blake. I'm not gonna lie. Starting to wonder if this is the best use of my time. I guess I was hoping talking to an old friend in person could help me figure some things out. She frowned, the new information making the rounds through her brain. Zhou was... the Starfleet representation in her life. He was the pinnacle, the example. The one who explained how things were meant to be done. And he wanted out? Zhou wouldn't be the first one. Brandon Cormac, another good friend of Blake's back during Carrero's tenure as Veritas' captain, had also quit Starfleet. Not because he was feeling restless, but because he hadn't liked the bureaucracy Starfleet tried to employ with their resources at that time -- and to be fair, that same bureaucracy had left him stranded on Outpost 3 alone following a pirate raid, almost costing his life. Cormac's frustration with the service had been brought on by its insistent complicated politics. Zhou's frustration ran much deeper and more personal. By rights, he should have been Veritas' commanding officer. It was a controversial opinion for Blake to have. It wasn't that she disliked Rahman -- not at all. However, Zhou had served in the Shoals for longer. He had been the ship's First Officer. He knew the turf, knew the people, and already had a longstanding relationship with the political entities that often called upon them. When Rahman came in, they'd understandably had to start from scratch, and Roshanara had needed to learn everything on the fly. She'd done so perfectly well, of course, but Blake had to wonder whether things over the last few years would have gone more smoothly had Zhou been at the wheel. She'd never tell Rahman these theories, but part of her believed she didn't have to. Rahman was aware of Blake's position on such matters. In fact, Blake had demonstrated them to Roshanara before -- she'd willingly dropped Veritas to become Zhou's First Officer on the Montreal without a second thought. It was only because Zhou had gotten himself injured, forcing Mei'konda to become the ship's CO, that Blake had remained on Veritas. Blake:::with a soft smile:: Maybe you need a new challenge. Zhou had a history in Starfleet long before he was assigned to Veritas and Star Station Esperance. It may just be he would be better used in a different location. Once you've seen a sector of the Shoals, you've seen all the sectors of the Shoals. And Zhou's position at present was practically locked down. The only time he got to leave Esperance, maybe see some kind of excitement, was when he kept coming back to Veritas. He did have a short tenure as captain of the Montreal, but as mentioned previously, he wasn't as physically spry as what he'd thought he was. Not to mention an endless sense of recklessness powered by his (reserved) ego. Zhou: I suppose there's a certain irony in me seeking you out now while you're blind to help me see the way forward. She made a show of rolling her eyes. Blake: You're so funny. Zhou: Oh, hey, I owe you a little congratulatory something... "Commander." Blake: Let's leave the gift-giving out of my quarters, yeah? Zhou: No, no... no cheesy gifts. I know you don't like that. Lie back and close your eyes. Blake: Mmm, so it's that kind of gift... He snuggled up against her for a moment before leaning in to start a trail of kisses again. ((later)) With a slight eyebrow raised, Blake wrapped the towel around her shoulders. Blake: Whatever the reason for your visit, I appreciate it. I'm just sorry I don't get to see you as well as I usually do. Standing nude by the replicator, he looked back over at her with an amused grin. Blake: Just a joke, I promise. Eyes are set to be back by the end of the month. Give or take. He returned with the set of glasses and handed her a glass of cool water to enjoy before taking a sip from his own glass. Zhou: Don't think if you still aren't seeing things clearly by then that I'm not going to come back out here and throw you into a shuttle to take you back to the station to get fixed. A chime rang through her quarters. Blake: Enter. The doors hissed as they parted, a cool breeze swooshing through the hot temperature of her living area. Blake raised her chin toward Zhou's general direction, hoping he could provide some context as to who she'd just invited in... Parker: I had heard you had been injured on the asteroid. I came to check on you, to see if you needed anything. Her shoulders fell slightly upon hearing the unmistakable voice of Parker, and the expression on her face was replaced with one of pure neutrality. Blake: No need. I got back in from Sickbay about an hour or so ago. Parker: We are shipmates….I have a duty and responsibility to make sure that you have everything you need during your recovery::looking at the apparent human male: Lieutenant Commander Hannibal Tiberious Parker, Operations Officer. And you are? Inwardly, Blake sighed at the defensiveness of Parker's tone. Zhou: Commander Zhou Tai-Sheng. CO of the Starfleet Annex on Star Station Esperance. Parker: Pleasure to meet you. Blake: Zhou just finished helping me get situated. He was about to return to his guest quarters. Which reminds me-- ::to Zhou:: shirt? Blake strode over to the back of the couch, flipping the towel from around her shoulders as she did so. Zhou tossed her an over-sized t-shirt, and Blake pulled the garment over her arms and shoulders until it limply fell across her bare torso. Blake: I'll have Caide send you that manifest we talked about earlier. It might even allow you to meet him. Zhou: Yes, I've been looking forward to vetting him properly... He exchanged an amused glance with her, but Blake's eyes soured a little with minute disapproval. Blake:::with a smile:: Have a good walk, Tai. He nodded and then looked back at Parker. Zhou: Nice to meet you. The Star Station Esperance commanding officer deliberately brushed past Parker as he exited her quarters. An awkward silence permeated the space between the two Veritas officers. She crossed her arms. Blake: Zhou was Veritas' First Officer when I came aboard. He doesn't like me saying it, but I owe my life as I know it to him. Parker: Really? Explain… Blake:::with a shrug:: I was lost on Ornara, and he showed up and gave me a purpose. He's been a confidant since then. ::beat:: Look, I appreciate your concern for my health, Commander, but it's not really your department. But I'm following the instructions my doctor has given me. Light duties until further notice. With that in mind, if you have any issues regarding our resources, you may be best taking them to Commander Ukinix. Parker: Understood…Commander… A weary look passed her eyes, her head tilting a little. She spoke with growing tiredness -- not from physical exhaustion, but of the mental gymnastics that she believed was about to come. Blake: If you want to talk about something else, the floor is yours. Parker's figure shifted somewhat, his height rising a little. Parker: As I’m sure you know by now, my visit is more than professional. It’s also personal. Blake: So I gathered. Parker: Every since we were re united on Duronis, you’ve treated me like an afterthought. When I got here it was the same thing. You treat me as though I was some paramour who left you in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. You act as though your life before you woke up didn’t matter. That everything and everyone you knew then didn’t matter. You weren’t some woman in a pleasure palace trying to leave her past behind. You were then, as you are now, a Starfleet officer, a woman who I trusted at my back anytime, anywhere. A woman who was smart, courageous and a little bit wild. That was the Skyleena Blake who fought by my side. That was the Skyleena Blake who kept me from killing another crew member on the Challenger-A. That was the Skyleena Blake whom I watch bring Faith into the world on Duronis at the Embassy. You were passionate, committed and fearless. That Skyleena Blake…was my friend. What you are now is not the same woman I knew. I am the only person on the ship who knew you then and now, and you were better then. That’s just my opinion. oO "You were better then." Oo Blake's eyes drooped, her heart sinking in her chest. As much as she detested Kallo Ver's very existence, the man had managed to summarise her life thus far with a rather compelling statement: You're a widow, Commander. Born out of ash and fire with just five years of life under your belt. The things that scare you are complex - they are very real problems. But some of us are simply spooked by a darkened corridor. It was Kallo's "special power", if you will, to be able to see someone and know every bruise or weakness to poke at to get what he wanted. Generally, he resorted to surface-level things -- being annoying simply to be annoying was his go-to tactic, and it was a very effective one. He used this skill to be a master manipulator. He knew everyone's move before they made them. And Kallo was right. The things that scared Blake were complex -- it wasn't a physical object. Sure, wide-open spaces made her uneasy, but there was something that utterly terrified her. And its avatar was standing in her quarters right now. Parker's words were poisoning her chest, her ears, her mind. And according to him, it was just the beginning. Her voice was a whisper, a striking contrast to the booming Hannibal Parker. Blake: I am not that person. Parker: Whether you like it or not, we’re linked together. Why didn’t you find me Sky? Why didn’t you ask for my help? Why didn’t you ask Starfleet to find me? You know damn well that I would have been there to help you. You know I have people who would have helped you too. That whole business with Faith could have been solved with one subspace call. One. Business with Ilakai? Which business? Getting her back into Federation space, or having someone look after her when Blake abandoned her and her brother entirely? And there was that name again. Sky. The back of her head ached, right in the space her bondmate had once resided. His side had burned away on his death, leaving a space that echoed endlessly. Blake: Why does this matter to you? Parker: It matters because I owe you. If you hadn’t stopped me by threatening to shock me with your built in phaser array I would have killed him, pinned to the bulkhead by his throat. Tobias Walker at the time I thought he was complicit in…well, not going to rehash it again… Her fingers pressed into her forehead as she desperately tried to recall who that was. She couldn't. Not because she didn't want to, but because the information was just no longer there. Her bottom jaw vibrated in her mouth. Blake had to swallow, and breathe. Parker: You know I don’t hold my tongue. Never have. I speak to you as a friend, as someone who has your best interests at heart. Whether you like it or not, you need me, and I owe you. Bad times are comin’ out here. You have already admitted that to me. You need to harness that from which you have tried so hard to run from. Just what about the past scares you so much? Make no mistake…I’m a predator. I know fear when I see it… ((Flashback -- Brekka, 239102)) The Vulcan handed her a frozen cup, taking a seat on the porch with her. She cared little about its contents, instead placing the cold item directly against her flushed cheeks, wincing when it knocked into her sunglasses by accident. Blake: When I was a kid, I used to hate the summertime. Sabor raised a pointed eyebrow in her direction, taking a sip from his glass. Blake: But then when winter came 'round, I always hated that instead. Couldn't choose whether to be warm or cold. ::beat:: Yet for some reason, today, in this blistering heat, I'd rather be out here, than inside with climate control. Sky's gaze turned to Sabor, but he simply gave a casual shrug of his shoulders, crossing his legs and leaning back against the wall of their home. Sabor: The interior of Starfleet ships are set to a much lower temperature than this. Your quarters were warm and you were free to do as you pleased off duty. But on duty, you cannot change the ambient cooling to something more suitable for your biology. It could be that your body is now instinctively drawn to the natural warmth of Delos IV. He couldn't see past the dark sunglasses, but he could tell that she was giving him one of those *looks*. After a moment, she gave a single word response, laced with sarcasm and amusement. Blake: Right. The Vulcan performed a very uncharacteristic expression: he smiled. Sabor: The last thing you remember clearly places your experiences outside of Starfleet service, meaning there is a large period of time between what you used to know about your body- Blake: I've had two kids and an entire career between my last clear recollection and this year. I think I understand that I've changed in more ways than one. ::She gave a mild huff.:: I'm just . . . confused. She took a sip from the cup, the melting ice within causing condensation over her hands. He'd chosen flavoured water today, probably to boost her electrolytes or whatever excuse he could concoct to maintain what minor aspects of her health that he could. Her heart ached just thinking about that, putting a slight smile on her face. He cared. He struggled to show it in the ways that she expected, and Noree knew that she constantly pushed his concerns away, but he continued to care. Despite all of it, he never once actually forced her into anything. He simply stood idly by, waiting for her. Blake: I feel better. Better than I was. But at the same time, I feel like I'm . . . out of touch, with myself. Sabor: Physically? Blake: Today, yes. ::She nodded her head.:: I'm . . . having to re-learn things I thought I knew, about myself. It's a really weird sensation. Sabor: I cannot claim to understand. But know that I will try. ((End flashback)) ((Blake's quarters)) Blake sucked in a long breath, trying to relax her shoulders. She wrung her hands out to stop them from shaking. Blake: You've had your say, Commander. Her emerald eyes glared at him. In the mix of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that ran through her during Parker's confrontational "speech", anger burned within them. But Blake's voice remained quiet. It wavered, as though she was uncertain how to stop her voice from cracking. But, ever so slowly, it grew stronger. Quiet, but strong. Blake: You seem to be under the impression that you know what's best for me. That's wrong. You've got no idea who I am. You keep confusing me with someone you knew long ago. ::A shadow cast over Blake's eyes.:: Shut up. ((Flashback -- 239410.03, Embassy of Duronis II)) Parker: I know you are here to see how we have been so successful here. Perhaps you remember I was there when Faith was born? That she was born right here? Her heart simply grew cold. No. She didn't recall. The records did state Faith was born on the Thunder, though - which had been assigned to Duronis. Blake: Is there a point to this line of questioning? Parker: Making conversation. Catching up with someone I considered an old friend. In our line of work, close friends are in short supply. She took a calming breath. Blake: I see you haven’t read my file recently. Here's a refresher. I suffer from retrograde amnesia. I was reactivated as a specialist for the USS Veritas in their attempts to stop felicium trafficking. If I knew you before, which seems to be the case, I apologize. I don't know you now. Every instinct told her to pick up the phaser and return to what she'd been doing, to ignore his current existence. This was a ploy by Caide, she was sure. After this, it was a psyche evaluation. How ironic that she was now facing old demons. Parker: I’m sorry , Commander. I...I...didn’t know. I was thinking that you were the Sky I had known, my shipmate, my friend, the Brekkian wild child…. ((End flashback)) Blake: I told you exactly who I am when we met on Duronis three years ago. I have no recollection of those events, and I've no interest in recalling them. Because it's not me. I explicitly informed you, word for word, that I don't know you. She straightened. Blake: You don't like that I'm not Skyleena, don't like that I don't play buddy-buddy with you when you want me to. I won't apologise for that. I never will. That person, those memories, they are yours and I hope you cherish them. But they are not mine. You talk about people like this "Tobias Walker" -- I have no idea who that is. I don't have those memories. Parker: You may not remember them, but I do. And now, you do as well. You cannot ignore the truth, sweep it into a corner and hope it stays there. The truth is always out there, whether it is convenient or not. Your fear of that past you wear like a coat, and that fear hampers your present, and your future… Blake: You're right, I am fearful. But not of the past. I couldn't care any less about the past or our history, or whatever. My fear is coming across people like you. People who want me to be that Skyleena Blake they knew before. So yes, I am running from you. I hide from you deliberately. When I joined Veritas six years ago, I chose 'Blake' over 'Sky' with the sliver of hope that maybe it would differentiate me from that other person, that it would keep me safe from this exact scenario. ::beat:: People like you haunt me. You terrify me. You want me to be someone I simply cannot be. You think you know what's best for me, Parker? Believing I'm going to spend any more time standing here being beaten down in the place I've made my home is only evidence that you know nothing at all. Parker: Since you want to treat me like some monster bent on destroying you, I assure you that I am no such thing. I have a code I live by. I take care of those who have taken care of me. You may not remember what you did, but dammit I do. I’ve made it my mission to take care of those whom I serve with, my ship, and any others who might need it. If you don’t understand that one fact about me, then you will never understand me at all, and neither will you understand yourself. Blind that she was, she moved past him as if she could see. Her hand fingers stabbed the door controls, holding it open. Blake: I'll inform Captain Rahman of our irreconcilable differences. Veritas' tour of duty ends in six months, at which point I hope for us to part ways. Until then, you are not welcome to speak to me outside of duty hours until such time I receive your sincerest apology. You owe me nothing. I am not your friend. We are not 'linked together'. And I don't care about your opinion of me. Parker: As you wish, Commander. I serve at the pleasure of Captain Rahman and Starfleet and I will do my duties as Operations Officer and any other position in the most excellent manner possible. Our communications will be restricted only to the management and operation of this vessel and crew and their safety. The only thing I ever cared about was the fact that you did me a solid, and all you care about is yourself. What does that make you, Commander? Afraid of everything, pushing away things you need to know, trying to hide in this makeshift bubble you have made for yourself. Well now, that bubble has effectively been burst and you are going to have to find a way to deal with it. Your behavior is selfish and it makes me wonder why I gave a damn about you in the first place, why I would be willing to defend you against all comers. You wanted that bridge burned? Well congratulations, you just blew it sky high. Good evening… Regardless of his words, Blake ignored him. She waited beside the door silently until he exited. When the door finally slid shut behind him, leaving her alone in her quarters, her nose scrunched. Tears welled in her eyes as detrimental words made their way across her psyche. Who was she supposed to call in this situation? Caide? Zhou? Navarro? The relative safe space of her quarters had been utterly violated. She could retreat to bed, hide away for as long as necessary. That's what Blake wanted, so desperately. Gingerly, her shaking hands sought out the combadge left on the couch. Blake: =/\= Blake to Navarro. =/\= Navarro: =/\= Navarro here. How can I help you, Commander? =/\= Blake: =/\= I know it's late counsellor, but do you have some time? I've just-- I need to work through something. =/\= Navarro: =/\= I am on my way. =/\= Blake: =/\= Thanks. =/\= Blake's quarters fell into silence. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  8. Tristam Core, played by @Blake: The greatest romance ever told.
  9. From http://blog.trekcore.com/2020/08/star-trek-lower-decks-mike-mcmahan-pandemic-delays-international-plans/ So probably in two months for international?
  10. In case you missed it, here's the official trailer: And they've released a clip from the first episode today at Comic-Con@Home:
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