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Alexander Matthews

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  1. ((Dream Scape, Deepest recess of Alexander Richards mind.)) :: Seconds passed to minutes and minutes passed to hours as the Ensign lay next to the younger form of his wife. Neither moved just looking up at the sky allowing the grass blowing in the breeze to tickle them both. Neither said a word, resting in the absolute serenity of the moment. Occasionally Marissa would allow her hand to gently stroke her husbands face, soothing him, helping him drift further and further away from the stark reality of his current situation. The young man was dying. Ever so slowly, his muscle structure was breaking down whilst his internal organs began to slowly shut down. Memories that the man was no longer aware of began to fade from other parts of his mind. Above him, a cloud shaped like his childhood pet, Pebbles, a Ragdoll cat faded and dissipated. The young man paid it no heed as he lay quietly almost paralyzed by the tranquility of it all. :: ((Deep Space Ten)) :: His heart began to slow, just a dull thud in his heaving chest. His breathing was much more labored. A simple scan of his current state would reveal the synapses slowing to a crawl. Renal function was at a bare minimum for survival. It was as if the young mans body were giving up the fight, losing it's grip on life slowly but surely. If he were conscious he would know he had a reason to fight. He was just mere minutes at best from what could be described as his only chance at life. A bio bed in sickbay forcing his internal organs to work, to keep him alive until the doctors could formulate a cure. Mere minutes away from the comfort of his loving wife and son, the only two things in his life worth keeping him grounded on the mortal coil. For a brief instant he stirred, groaned and then went lifeless again. Was he finally fighting back against his situation? Was he finally trying to fight to stay alive. :: ((Dream Scape, Deepest recess of Alexander Richards mind.)) :: Alexander couldn't be sure whether it was the tranquility that broke him from his serenity or an outside force but finally he was realizing the cold hard truth. This situation was too perfect. There was no reason he should be here. His wife and he looked far to young for this to be real. For a moment the serene scene stayed before black storm clouds began to gather on the horizon. The magic of it all was broken. Tornadoes began forming in the various fields as lightning bolts hit the floor sparking brush fires. Images flashed in the sky burning bright then fading. His wife, his son, his friends. All the young man could do was think fight as he gripped the visage of Marissa tightly. Holding her close as they both painfully aged to their current forms. Alexander didn't want to let go. He couldn't let go. His family and friends were everything to him. What would they do if he left the mortal coil? Was there even anything on the other side? The visage of Marissa moved round to face him and held him tight. She kissed his cheek and whispered in his ear. :: Marissa: oO If you want to leave this place then hold me tight and don't let go. Believe in yourself. Believe in your friends. Hold on Alexander Richards and fight. The moment you doubt yourself or let go, you will lose your touch with the mortal coil. Hold on and fight! Oo TBC Ensign Alexander Richards Acting Chief of Science USS Mercury
  2. ((Dream scape, Deepest recess of Alexander Richards mind.)) :: Fields. Fields of tall grass as far as the eye could see. Bathed in bright sunlight and lovingly warm. Richards, as a much younger form of himself was stood in the middle of one of the fields. Beside him was a ghostly visage of a younger Marissa. A person he had only seen in pictures. She stood about 3 feet tall with long flowing jet black hair, a good 6 inches shorter than Alexander who himself had the long locks of his youth. Both just stood there in silence looking at the beauty of it all. So peaceful, so tranquil. :: Alexander: oO Is this heaven? Oo Marissa: oO It's whatever you want it to be. Oo Alexander: oO It's so peaceful here. I almost feel at home. I don't want to leave. Oo Marissa: oO And you never have to. This can be whatever you want it to be. Oo Alexander: oO It's perfect. Just you, and me, the beautiful landscape. The tranquility of it all. Yet I find myself questioning my presence here. Almost as if I should be somewhere else. Oo Marissa: oO Why be anywhere else but here, with me, loved forever. No cares, just relaxation and eternal peace. Oo Alexander: oO But where is here? I have no memories of ever visiting such a place. And I feel so young, look so young. Oo Marissa: oO It's whatever or where ever you want it to be. Oo :: A gentle breeze blew past the pair. Voices, almost inaudible and completely incomprehensible. Something felt off yet Alexander felt completely at peace. As if he belonged here. Like he was always meant to be here. He still couldn't shake the idea that there was something else beyond all this though. Something he should remember. :: :: The pair settled to their backs in the meadow, holding each others hands. Time seemed to pass slowly. The more Alexander stared into the sky, the more he seemed to relax, to let go. the more idea of their being something beyond this was becoming nothing but a distant memory. He could never remember feeling like this, almost euphoric. The breeze caused the grass to sway gently, brushing against the two as they lay there. The image of Marissa leaned over and kissed Alexander. :: Marissa: oO You know you never have to leave this place. We can stay here happily for eternity. Just you and I. Oo Alexander: oO I'd like that. It just feels so right. Like I belong here. Like I've always belonged here. Oo Marissa: oO You do belong here with me. just the two of us, forever in perfect harmony. Oo ((Deep Space 10)) :: Despite all that was going on around the team, Alexander remained still. Only twitching every now and again as if in some deep trance. His vital signs beginning to deteriorate. He was dying slowly but surely. Time was running out for the young Ensign in more ways than one. :: TBC... Ensign Alexander Richards Acting Chief of Science USS Mercury
  3. (( CRR, USS Mercury )) :: In the hour before the away teams left, Aron left the operations of the bridge to Alex and retired to his ready room. In truth, he wanted to be on one of those teams, but it seemed that the job was going to come first: He had a backlog of status reports he needed to review regarding the Jaborrhik project; he'd just received new information regarding the Isharkian shards from Didrik Stennes; and Starbase 118 was still requesting a brutally detailed report of his incarceration on Vador III, as well as any information he had regarding the unknown telepath they had picked up there. It seemed that the Mercury was becoming a haven for lost things: unfinished Borg Queens, sentient computer viruses, a crate full of kittens, and now a weaponized telepath. He almost sighed, but the door interrupted him as it announced the presence of Ensign Richards. :: Kells: Yes, come in. :: He found himself fond of Richards, as he could relate to the man: A strange position and a chieftainship almost forced upon him, as it had been upon Aron once many years ago. But Aron had been a scientist, trained and awkward, whereas Richards had some but not all of the necessary background. Problems were sure to occur, but the one that he'd reported to Aron seemed a step larger than he should've had to field. :: Kells: Have a seat, Ensign, have a seat. Now, I've read your preliminary reports, and I understand that we have some faulty code? Richards: Yes sir. The entire Science module seems to be afflicted with obsolete LCARS code that is interfering with the reliability of some systems and the efficiency of all of them. No systems are below StarFleet standard operational levels however I am concerned that this may only be for the meantime. Kells: But it's not hardware, it's software? Richards: Yes sir. Kells: Well, thank the Architect for that. Code we can rewrite by hand if we need to, but replacement parts would not come cheaply out here. What's the extent of the problem? Richards: As I've said, the problem currently extends to all systems and sub systems software. Unfortunately, it's not the same code in every system. The major problem for now is that to identify and patch out the code requires a level 1 diagnostic to be run. Under normal circumstances, this should only take a few hours to complete but because my team is having to be more thorough, it is going to take much longer. The next system on the list is the Mercury's scientific sensor palettes with my team estimating each palette taking up to 4 hours to work on. That means that the Mercury will be at 66% sensor capacity for aproximately 12 hours. Kells: I see. :: This was not what he wanted to hear. Running at partial sensors meant that they'd effectively lose their senses, or at least a couple of them, and that would not be beneficial to surveying the station. :: Kells: I know you're going over to the station, but who do you have working on the problem? Richards: Cadet Stone and Crewman T'Lex. (Beat.) T'Lex is primarily a Stellar Cartographer but she is a graduate of the Vulcan Science Academy and thus has a massive knowledge of most things scientific. Cadet Stone came on board for her Cadet cruise with high praise from the Academy Commandant on StarBase 118. Her record is impeccable and her devotion to her studies and her field would embarrass several officers. I have faith in their abilities but feel they are being hampered by a lack of available staff to assist. Kells: Yes? Good. I'll try and get some engineers to help -- Chief Walker should prove useful -- and I'll go down myself and see if I can't speed things up. Richards: Sir? :: It wasn't very often that an officer witnessed a Captain wanting to get hands on. Then it stuck him. He remembered reading a PADD about his captain and his background when he came on board. The man was a man of science much like he had been in his early life. :: Kells: We need the sensors back up, Mr. Richards -- and besides, I may not be an engineer, but computer code is very similar to genetic code, just with different symbols. I'll be able to handle myself. Richards: Do you miss it sir? Kells: I will-- what? :: Aron had forged ahead with such momentum that he didn't realize, until he'd already begun speaking, that Richards had asked him a question very different from that he had expected. :: Richards: I mean is there ever a time you wish you were back in my shoes rather than sitting in the chair? :: Aron took a breath. Another. The truth, then: :: Kells: Yes. Every day. Sometimes every hour. I can keep involved, but.... :: Aron slapped his hands down on the desk. :: Kells: There's usually a desk between me and what I want to do. Not always, and I'd rather this was one of those times. :: :: One thing he had learned from his family was that you could take the man away from his science, but you couldn't take science away from the man. :: Richards: I've been meaning to ask you something since the party on 118 sir. :: He paused, inviting the Captain to ask the question. :: Kells: Go on, then. Richards: It's about why you chose me for this position sir, especially after what happened on Valdor III. Kells: Ah. That. (beat) Ignore the last mission. I mean, don't ignore it, but we'll come back to that. About your background: I knew you were the right one because you question, and you've been around. I've fielded my share of myselfs out here: Young scientists, straight from the Academy, eager to prove themselves. But you -- no, you've been in Starfleet before; you've served in three different divisions; you have a family. You're tempered. Richards: :: Feeling a little uneasy. :: So you chose me for the position based on merit despite my record. I did resign from StarFleet after all sir. I still can't get my head around this decision though. It is incredibly rare for an Ensign to be made acting chief of any position except maybe communications or helm on a starship. (Beat.) Was there more to Valdor III and my actions there that shaped your choice? :: Aron [...]ed his head away from Richards, and looked out the window. :: Kells: Yes, let's talk about the planet. Maybe it did play more of a role in helping me decide than I'd like to admit. You know that Lieutenant Wulfantine bore the responsibility for the away team's actions. But I paid attention to what you did. You are hard-headed, Mr. Richards; you leapt without looking; you were stubborn and active. And this is a science ship without a chief science officer. Look, already! You've gone head-to-head with Kvitova and faced down your first crisis in code. Richards: Ah yes, the good Captain. I didn't recognize the name at first. He seemed OK with Science being my department although the rank issue does make me feel uneasy. As for the code crisis. Well, that could have happened to any section. I'm just lucky that the limited crew I have available at this time are incredibly competent. (Beat.) I expect cadet Stone to be ready for her final exams within 6 months at her current work levels. :: Richards took a moment to pause and to allow the captain to digest what he had said. :: Richards: You said I was tempered sir. I still thought myself as gun-ho, arrogant and a little wet behind the ears. Kells: You are tempered in some ways, yes, but still fiery enough to be the advocate for the science department I need here. (beat) Now. What else is there? Richards: :: Pulling out a PADD. :: I just need you to sign off this list of new scientific components to be moved over to Deep Space Ten and installed including an updated Federation Sensor relay and its Palettes. (Beat.) I put the request in for the parts before we departed having reviewed the stations current capacity and it's specifications. (Beat.) Nothing too fancy, but enough to help turn the station into a strategic hub of some significance in the area. Kells: We could definitely use such a thing out here. Let me see -- ah, yes. There, Mr. Richards: Approved. It isnice to be able to avoid the bureaucracy on such things out here. Richards: Yes sir. (Beat.) Oh and sir, I know it is against the regulations and by rights you could put me in the brig for this but (beat) I obtained a bottle of Romulan ale on StarBase 118 from my ex employer. (Beat.) I have absolutely no intention of drinking it though I thought it might make a meeting with Captain Kvitova go slightly smoother. I gathered from my brief meeting with him that he enjoys the finer things in life. (Beat.) Besides, if you don't wish to waste it on Kvitova you could always store it for a special occasion, Captain's privilege and all that. Kells: An excellent idea, and one that may prove necessary if Kvitova's less than forthright about his reasons than I'd like. I have Captain Reynolds working on him now, though, and (beat) well, if she doesn't have much success, then it might be worth just as much to beat him over the head with the ale as it would be to have him drink it, if you know what I mean. (beat) But at all events, I think I'll accept. Though if I suggest you have a drink with me, neither you nor I know where the libations come from, clear? Richards: :: With a knowing smile. :: Yes sir. Next time I shall graciously refuse the offer. (Beat.) My wife, Marissa, knows where it is located. She is a scientist herself. :: He laughed realizing something. :: You know it's funny. Your career progression reminds me of that od my Grandfather. He was the Captain of the Tycho many years back until she went missing near the Cardassian border. They never found the ship, or any signs of a battle though it was assumed destroyed by a Cardassian patrol ship. :: He paused. he realized he was babbling now and that both men had a job to be doing. :: Richards: Sorry sir, I'm beginning to babble on about irrelevant things and we both have jobs to be doing. I should be going. Kells: Yes, I'm sure you have much to do to prepare for your trip to the station. Richards: Aye sir. Thanks for the talk, I needed that if I'm honest. Valdor III and the consequences of the mission and my actions were weighing heavily on my mind. You've put me slightly more at ease, as did Lieutenant Trel'lis and Lieutenant Wulfantine. Kells: Then I've done my job. (beat) But do feel free to see me whenever you like, Mr. Richards. We're a long way from the Federation out here, and we need all the community we can get. (beat) But for now, dismissed. And good luck. TBC! Captain Aron Kells Commanding Officer USS Mercury & Ensign Alexander Richards Acting Chief Science Officer USS Mercury
  4. ((Transporter room 1, USS Mercury)) ::It had been a very long few weeks that Alexander would be glad to put behind him. The biggest lesson he had learned from his recent experience was that the Academy can't teach you everything you need to know to survive out on assignment. He was thankful that he now had the opportunity to learn from his mistakes and hopefully become a better man for them. He walked through the doors into Transporter room 1 and was greeted by a face he hadn't met yet. He could tell from her insignia though that she was a crewman. The young man decided to strike up a polite conversation.:: Richards: Afternoon Crewman. Well, at least i think it's afternoon. ::He smiled.:: I don't think we've been formally introduced. My name is Ensign Alexander Richards. I transferred here from the 118 Academy branch just before we departed on the latest mission. Might I ask your name? Leana: Crewman Sarah Leana sir. Richards: Well i am very pleased to make your acquaintance Crewman. Are you looking forward to Shore Leave? Leana: Yes sir. I hope to use the education facilities on board 118 to expand my knowledge on transporter systems and functions. Of course, I'll be glad for some downtime to be able to let my hair down. How about you sir? Richards: ::Smiling.:: I'm glad to hear it. I'm off to meet my wife and my child. This is probably the shortest amount of time I have been away from them. Yet it's been the hardest enforced separation. I intend to put in a request for larger quarters during Shore Leave so that my family may join me on board. Leana: I'm sure the captain will be happy to oblige sir. ::Whilst the crewman responded, Mister Richards strode across to the transporter pad.:: Richards: ::Smiling at the crewman.:: It was a pleasure speaking with you. Enjoy your shore leave. Leana: Same too you sir. ::Before Richards had a chance to utter another word, he felt the tingling sensation of the transporter and saw the blue and white light envelop him. Within mere moments he found himself on board what he considered the Federations 'Diamond in the Rough' in the Beta Quadrant.:: ((Starbase 118, Promenade, New Orleans section.)) ::The young man thanked the operator at the 118 end and walked through the door emerging on the Promenade. First time visitors were probably over whelmed by the sight of it however, Mister Richards had spent some time on the base both during his time at the Academy and after his resignation from the fleet. Of course he still felt inspired by what he saw. The promenade was bustling just as he remembered it. There would be plenty of time to check out some of his old haunts later. For now, he fixed his eyes on the nearest Turbo-lift and headed straight for it. It had been over a month since he last saw his wife and child and no man or thing was going to keep him away from them any longer.:: ::Mister Richards found himself only waiting a few minutes before the Turbo lift he had called arrived. Barring the lift getting stuck, Marissa would be in his arms in mere minutes and the ills of the universe would, at least for a time, melt away in her arms. He stepped inside the lift and spoke.:: Richards: Upper Habitat section, apartment block 147. ::The Turbo-lift whirred to life as it headed for the stated destination. Having been used to the rather short trips between decks on the Mercury, this trip seemed to take a lifetime. Of course in reality it was only a few minutes. However with the young man finally being so close to home and the comfort of his wife and son time just seemed to slow to a snail's pace.:: ((Starbase 118, upper Habitat Section, Apartment block 147.)) ::Mister Richards had a huge smile on his face as he stepped out into the corridor leading to his family's apartment. He acknowledged the Star Fleet security officer with a polite smile and a nod as he proceeded to walk down the hallway. He could feel his heart beat increasing with every step he took and his mind began to race. Moments later he was outside the door. He pressed the access panel and stated his entry code.:: Richards: Door code; Richards alpha gamma epsilon three two delta. ::The door slid open revealing the apartment. Marissa turned around and nearly dropped the bowl of cake batter she was mixing. Tears and a huge smile marked her face showing her elation at the safe return of her husband. As Alexander took one step into the room, little John Richards dropped his toy Galaxy Class star ship he had been playing with and ran across the floor like a Targ chasing it's prey. He wrapped his arms around his fathers right leg with tears of joy streaming from his face. Alex winced slightly as the contact agitated his recently healed burnt knee. He then lowered his arms and lifted his son in one motion giving the youngster a loving cuddle before kissing him on the forehead. Marissa, having put the cake batter down safely on the worktop, walked over and gave the two men in her life a hug. Tears still streaming from her eyes.:: Marissa: ::Drying her eyes.:: I had heard the Mercury had returned to dock. I wasn't expecting you for at least another two hours though. We missed you Alexander. John: ::Elated.:: Yes daddy. We missed you so much. Mummy said you had gone off to be big and brave and to protect the Federation like Federation Man. ::Alexander could not help but smile. He had never been a fan of comic books but he found his son's youthful, uncolored naievity somewhat charming. Even if it did paint him in a better light than he should have been painted. oO Who am I to ruin my son's imagination. Oo He set his son back on the floor and turned back to his wife.:: Richards: ::Playfully.:: Federation man? Marissa: I know neither of us like comics very much. But with you away on a mission I just thought what harm could it do. John: I bet you took on those Klingons like Federation man takes on his enemies daddy! ::Alex froze for a second. It disheartened him to hear his son speak of the Klingons as enemies. Yes he had just been through hell and high water because of a few Klingons and his own impetuousness but, that wasn't the point. Alexander always felt that his attitudes towards telepathic races was enough racial hatred for his entire family. He did not want his son growing up as a Racist. Moreover, Captain D'Ciq of the Marine Corps was an honorable colleague and had helped to ensure everyone made it off the surface after his mistake. He turned to John.:: Richards: Now John. Daddy may have had to go and fight Klingons on his last mission but, I don't want you growing up thinking they are all bad. The Klingon Empire at this moment in time are still our allies even if the relationship between our peoples is strained. One of the people i work with is a Klingon and she is very brave, very honorable and helped save some of daddy's ship mates. John: ::Quizzically.:: Really Daddy? Wow! Do you think I can meet her? Richards: Yes son and more than likely sooner rather than later. ::Marissa stared at her husband. She knew exactly what that inferred and she couldn't quite believe it. In the past he had always considered life on board a star ship too dangerous for a family. She had no idea what had changed his mind but she was happy he had.:: Marissa: Does that mean you will be requesting new quarters and permission for us to come with you when the Mercury next departs? Richards: Yes my darling wife. It does. I've missed you and John more than ever before on this previous mission. The thought of being away from the pair of you again for an extended period of time just breaks my heart. I plan on seeing the captain within the next few days to formally make the request. ::John's little eyes lit up like saucers at his fathers statement and Marissa began to cry. Neither could hold back their joy at being able to be with Alexander any longer. John picked up his Galaxy class toy and made a whooshing sound as he pretended to fly the ship to his father.:: John: So i get to fly in space on a ship like this daddy? Richards: ::Walking over to the replicator.:: Not quite like that one son. Computer, create a die cast model of the USS Mercury. 1:2500 scale. ::The replicator created the model in seconds. He handed the model to his son.:: This is the ship we will be flying through space on. John: ::Laughing.:: Don't be silly Daddy. We are to big to fit on this one. ::Both Marissa and Alexander burst out laughing at their son's comment. In all honesty it was comments like the one John had just said that made him regret never having taken his family on board the star ship he had served on before. It reminded him how important family was, especially in times of turmoil and upheaval. His family kept him grounded in reality, kept him sane. He could nor bare the thought of parting with them again. He walked into the living room and sat down on the sofa, putting his feet up. John jumped up and sat on his lap whilst Marissa returned to the kitchen. All his woes from the last mission just melted away in the moment. Home is always where the heart is and that would always be with his family.:: END Ensign Alexander Richards Tactical Officer USS Mercury & PNPC's Marissa and John Richards Civilians
  5. ((Sickbay; USS Mercury)) ::With the mission now over, and the Mercury limping back to safety of Starbase118, Rick completed his daily tasks and made his way from engineering. A rotation of crew were taking in turns to keep the old girl running, since many of the engineers had been injured (or worse) during the recent explosions. However Rick had only one thing on his mind... Gypsy, and Junior. He feared he would lose his beloved angel during the last mission, and then Rick himself had needed emergency battlefield surgery to save himself this time. These two close brushes with the unthinkable made him all the more determined to get back to his fiancee, and cherish every second he spent with her. When he rounded the corner and approached the busy sickbay, he saw her, his blonde princess. His reason for breathing.:: Rawden: Angel? ::She heard the voice she had been wanting to hear for hours and it was exactly what Gypsy needed. The injuries...the deaths...it had all become too much. She had been on duty for almost 24 hours, only taking enough breaks to keep her baby safe and healthy.:: Hawker: Rick? ::He was standing behind her, perhaps even more exhausted than she was, but he was giving her that sexy smile which had caught her eye once upon a time and still made her heart flutter.:: Rawden: Come here.. ::Gypsy didn't walk to him. She ran straight into Rick's arms and it was all she could do to keep from jumping on him and wrapping her legs around his waist. He was alive and safe and he smelled like home. It was all she needed.:: ::Rick held her close as she pressed into him. Her smell, her touch, her warmth .It flooded his senses, battered so recently by battle, with the things that made his heart beat faster and his happiness returning. Nothing was more precious to him than his angel.:: Hawker: ::her voice was muffled as she spoke into the crook of his neck:: Are you off duty? Rawden: I am now sweetheart. ::He said, smiling warmly.:: Hawker: Take me back to our quarters. ::She tightened her arms around him.:: Now, please. ::Rick didn't feel he needed to ask why. He knew. He felt the same. He kissed the top of Gypsy's hair, once again breathing in her scent, and then released her and took her by the hand, leading her away from the trauma in sickbay and back to their quarters..:: ((Timewarp - Gypsy & Rick's Quarters; USS Mercury)) ::Much later, Gypsy found herself warm and safe, curled up in bed next to the love of her life.:: Hawker: ::breaking the comfortable silence:: Did you notice, Rick? Rawden: Notice, angel? ::his arm around her, holding her close as her head rested on his chest. He could feel her soft breath on his skin as she spoke.:: Hawker: I'm getting bigger. ::She kissed his shoulder and sat up, putting her rounded belly on display.:: See? ::Rick looked at his fiancee as she proudly showed her slightly swollen mid-drift. Her smooth soft skin was pulled slightly taut. He smiled at the thought of their unborn child, and how his angel was keeping Junior safe and warm.:: Rawden: I can babe. I can. ::He replied excitedly, putting a hand forward and gently touching her belly.:: Hawker: Do we want to know if it's a boy or a girl or do we want to be surprised? ::Rick looked her in the eyes. The eyes that made his heart melt.:: Rawden: You know? Hawker: Not yet. But at the next checkup I have with Dr. Velana, she'll probably be able to tell. I'm far enough along now. Rawden: I would be lying if I said I didn't want to know, but in my heart I just need to know our child is healthy. I will love them so much, I don't need to know. It will be a wonderful surprise. Hawker: ::poking his chest teasingly:: Make up your mind, baby. Rawden: Aww, ok angel. ::She gave him an expectant look.:: Rawden: No, let's keep it a surprise. ::He leaned forward, kissing his lady on her lips.:: Rawden: Love you. Hawker ::nuzzling her nose against his:: Love you, too. ::She fell back down to the bed and snuggled into the crook of his arm.:: Are you hungry? ::Rick smiled. Gypsy knew all his magic buttons.:: Rawden: Yes... ::winking:: Hawker: Are you suggesting something other than food, sir? Rawden: Well, I am looking at something more delicious than anything the chef can offer. Hawker: Hmm...that's a good answer. ::She kissed his chiseled jaw.:: But the baby wants ice cream. Rawden: Well... I can see baby takes after you then. Sure, I do feel a bit peckish. ::Gypsy rolled out of bed, grabbed his discarded undershirt and pulled it on. It was long enough to skim the tops of her thighs, leaving her legs bare as she crossed to the replicator.:: ::Rick watched as his beloved made her way across the room. She was more beautiful every day. He tingled as he reminded himself how lucky he was. He remembered the first day he met Gypsy, when she worked on Deep Space 17. His life had changed that day, and had got better and better ever since.:: ::She returned with a double ice cream sundae with extra whipped cream and two spoons.: Watching her approach, Rick tried hard not to lick his lips.:: ::Gypsy knelt on the bed next to him and scooped up a big bite. She made like she was going to feed it to him, but at the last second, she stuck the spoon in her own mouth.:: Rawden: Hey! Hawker: ::swallowing:: Sorry, sweetie. Whatever baby wants, baby gets. ::Rick grinned at her.:: Rawden: And I wouldn't have it any other way... ::Gypsy lowered the spoon back into the bowl, suddenly overcome by a flood of hormones that took her from blissful to distraught in a matter of seconds.:: Hawker: You were hurt...and I wasn't able to get to you. ::Her lower lip trembled.:: I'm so sorry, Rick. Rawden: Aww baby. You had your duty to do. I missed you so much, but I knew we'd be together again soon. And here we are. ::He stroked his hand along her leg.:: :: A fat tear rolled down Gypsy's cheek.:: Hawker: I don't know what I would do if I lost you. ::Rick moved his hand up to her cheek, and gently wiped away the tear. Then pulling himself up to a sitting position, causing the bed cover to slip off his toned upper torso, he moved his head towards Gypsy's.:: Rawden: Babe, you will never lose me. I am yours forever, and nothing - not even the biggest Klingon war fleet in the galaxy will ever take me from you. ::He moved in closer, and kissed her soft lips.:: Hawker: Sorry, I don't know what that was. ::She shook her head.:: Hormones. It's going to be a long five months from here on out, baby. Rawden: But I wouldn't miss it for the World. ::Gypsy smiled through her tears and took another bite of ice cream. She also fed him a bite and followed it up with a chocolate-flavored kiss.:: Rawden: Mmm... Hawker: More? Rawden: Absolutely!!! ::this time not attempting to resist licking his lips.:: ::Setting the bowl aside, Gypsy pushed him down to the pillows and crawled over his body to give him a kiss that quickly escalated.:: ::The ice cream was forgotten.:: To be continued.... Crewman Gypsy Hawker (PNPC) Medical: USS Mercury (Simmed by Lt. Cmdr Velana) & LtJG. Rick Rawden (PNPC) Engineer: USS Mercury (Simmed by Lt.Cmdr Eyas Wulfantine)
  6. ((Recovery Room, Sickbay, USS Victory)) :: David sat, not entirely comfortable in the sterile whites, that always made him look like a blasted wraith. But there were practical and extremely important reasons not to introduce any kind of contaminents. So instead, he did the only thing he could do, which was read the reports coming in from all over the station on a padd he liberated from one of the technicians in Sickbay. He made a decision that he was going to build another slimpadd again. There were some distinct advantages to that handy little device. :: :: In bed, Kalianna shifted, rolling her head straight. David lowered the padd and watched, feeling his own heart beating, and hoped she was waking up. :: ::For the first time, that she could remember, since she fell into that deep, dark sleep, Kali’s eyes fluttered open. Before she could look around, they immediately closed again. The light in the room was far too bright for her at that moment, so she settled for taking in her surroundings with her other senses until she had a better idea of where she was and what was going on. The last thing she could remember was David’s blue eyes, the steady sound of his voice, and an intense pain in her chest. The struggle suddenly came back to her and her mind involuntarily snapped to focusing on breathing. Somewhere, though distant, she could still hear the sound of his voice.:: ::The result was an immediate gasp, a moment of panic, which quickly subsided when she found herself able to breathe much easier than before. His voice faded into the distance and she struggled to hear it over the deep hum of the ship. Though there was a dull pain in her chest, made apparent by the sudden movement and gasp for air, it was far different than the suffocating feeling of before, allowing her mind to search for him. Where had he gone? He’d promised her he’d never let go...:: oO David... Oo ::David picked himself up and brought both himself and the chair next to the bed, breathing out a silent relief and a strange flutter to his heart. He didn’t want to alarm, or frighten her. He set the chair down and sat in it, watching as she came out from the anesthesia, carefully taking her hand into his and just letting her hand rest on his. Water grazed the corner of his eyes as gazed down at this extraordinary woman he had known only for a short time, but quickly settled into his mind and heart. :: ::Then, with her eyes still closed against the lights of the room, which weren’t as bright as they could have been but were still there nonetheless, she could feel the warmth of a body close by. So much still didn’t make sense in her mind, but she assumed that she was in sickbay now and that something needed her attention. The welfare of her ship and her crew came flooding into her mind, piling on top of her overwhelming need to know where David was, and she finally forced her eyes to open again. It took a moment, but as she got her bearings, she looked over and caught the same deep blue eyes she had last remembered before slipping into the darkness of a deathly sleep.:: ::A sudden feeling pulsed through her, one that she was quite certain she was imagining. Holding his gaze, she felt as if her heart beat faster, as if excited by his very presence. At first, the feeling surprised her; though she’d felt the fast beating of her heart long ago, such experiences had gone away when she’d given her heart to save Jaxx. There was no way her mind was interpreting things correctly. Ignoring it and blaming medication, or just her imagination putting more into seeing the eyes she somehow thought she’d never see again than was really there, she reached for him.:: Nicholotti: David... ::The last word that had been spoken before was the first to be said now as she forced her way out of the sleepiness that had been induced by death and perpetuated by medication. With far more control now than she remembered having before, she found his hand and gripped it, almost afraid if she let go he would be gone. Though her voice was dry and raspy, she still found herself able to project it far better than her fearful near silence of before.:: ::Breaking his stone-expression, David smiled, feeling some more wrinkles as he leaned over and gently kissed her forehead, conveying as much as he could into that kiss. That wouldn’t cause an unnecessary contamination. Planting a kiss where it belonged could. :: Cody: I’m here, Kalianna. Don’t you worry. ::Kali made no attempt to hide the flood of emotions that hit her then. Though she often found herself doing just that, she suddenly realized just how afraid she was. At first she tried to hide it all, but knowing she was safe near him, she let go of the fight. The remnants of the anesthesia prevented her from putting up the solid blocks that she normally held in place anyways, and so, thoughts of the loss of her crew, and of those she had been entrusted to protect hit her like a brick wall, but it was the thought of never seeing his face again that really pushed her over the edge. Her head swam and she gripped him tighter as she closed her eyes in an attempt to gain control.:: ::Her heart was definitely racing, but her mind was in so many other places that she couldn’t focus on it just then. All she could do was take a deep breath and try to regain control. It was after a moment of this, a moment filled with memories and visions of the moments before she fell into the darkness, that she finally was able to speak in a somewhat shaky voice.:: Nicholotti: I’m sorry... :: Sorry. David had to choke off a laugh. She was the last person who needed to feel sorry, and he returned her hand squeeze as he settled back into the chair. He wasn’t going to give ‘em a reason to toss him out of the room, but he leaned in enough so she didn’t have to strain herself and brushed a few strands of her hair out of the way, a faint trace of his crooked smile greeting her. :: Cody: ::softly, gently:: You don’t have anything to be sorry about. ::But she felt, in many ways, she did. The fact that she was here and not on the bridge following the crisis was a good place to start, but on a more personal level, she was only now coming to terms with the events that had transpired earlier. While she had slept through the aftermath, he’d had to deal with it, and for that, putting him through it, there was a distinct need for her to say it.:: Nicholotti: But I am. ::Pausing a moment, she pushed it away for a moment, wondering what had gone on after the blackness had taken her.:: Were you...alright? ::David found himself stroking her hair and gazing into her dark eyes as his heart soared. :: Cody: I’ll tell you another day. But don’t worry. It’s a good story. Meltdowns, melodrama and a good verbal smack in the noodle to wake my sense back up. ::A smile appeared on her face as she looked over at him. Again, her heart seemed to race, fluttering in the strangest way, which made her pause, but like before, she brushed it off. There had to be an explanation for it, and one that didn’t involve striking fear into anyone all over.:: Nicholotti: As long as you’re alright. ::He fell quiet a moment, letting her just rest and watched her. And then he winked at her, wondering. :: ::He watched her, and she simply looked back, unwilling to let her eyes close again. She’d been in dark places, and fought through rivers of blood to find her way back. Now she’d found something different, and she didn’t want to let go. Her mind wandered that path for a time, until she noticed that he winked at her and asked something she didn’t quite understand.:: Cody: So... how does it feel? ::Raising an eyebrow, she shook her head slightly.:: Nicholotti: How does what feel? ::If he meant how did she feel, she felt infinitely better than she remembered feeling before, though she still felt as if she’d been run over by a fleet of starships. Waking up to his presence there had somehow made her feel better though. Her medical experience was telling her it had something to do with endorphins or something, which was also why her heart fluttered, among things, but she was too focused on the abstract just then to realize where her head had taken her.:: ::And as he said it, something clicked.:: Cody: ::smile deepening:: The thump thump. ::Her eyes narrowed and she picked her head up off the head of the bed and looked at him. The medication was wearing off and her mind cleared more and more, so this time she was able to really look at him and listen to the sound of her heart.:: Nicholotti: It feels...off. ::For a mechanical heart, it was far off. Her feelings were surfacing, as they had since her eyes first opened and found him there, but as her senses cleared and she focused on him and the warmth he brought to her very being, she realized that the flutters and the quick beats of her heart were far from a delusion of medication. In some kind of wonder, and mild disbelief, she blinked a few times before putting it all into words.:: Nicholotti: It feels real. ::It was a statement, and not the question that her eyes now asked.:: ::David knew that really, it was Johanna that should be here to tell Kalianna what she had done. It was Dr. MacLaren’s work, and he had watched her work from behind the glass (admittedly, at first, because of the clash between them earlier. What he held back, and what he surmised during the procedure, was what Johanna MacLaren did and what he did were not too much different. He had it wrong. The problem wasn’t they didn’t know each other... and it took David watching what she did to realize it. They weren’t worlds apart. In some ways, they were mirror images. And truth be told, David privately admitted to himself that Johanna did magic he could never do. :: ::He created some kind of sentient holomatrix in the birth of Anya... but Johanna had the real gift, as far as he was concerned. She took an idea, the idea of being able to replicate organs through the patient’s DNA, and give something back. In his book, Doctor MacLaren was the medical officer of the year. :: Cody: You can thank Doctor MacLaren. She gave you your heart back. ::Her head fell back to the bed as she tried to wrap her head around it. The truth was a difficult thing to comprehend when you never thought that it could be true.:: Nicholotti: How...how did she do it? ::Modern medicine was amazing, but she never considered just how amazing until this very moment. She had long ago resigned herself to the fact that her heart would forever be a machine that beat constantly until it didn’t anymore. Little had she known, or realized rather, that something so simple as EM waves could push it to that point. It was something she should have thought about earlier, but didn’t, though now it seemed like fate had brought her to this point. Strange...:: :: The how. David thought about it for a minute, then shook his head. That was for Johanna to tell her. Her work, her moment, and her best hour. :: Cody: You’ll have to ask her. I was just here to watch something amazing... ::giving her hand a squeeze:: and not lose the woman that’s stealing my heart. ::For the first time since she woke, her eyes moved away from him, looking to the ceiling above her, but not really seeing anything beyond her thoughts. Her look of amazement turned to a smile and she finally looked back at him. Hints of the impish grin she often wore played in her features. The medication was wearing further and she was finally feeling less like a sluggish version of herself, and more like who she was before her heart decided to fail.:: Nicholotti: It’s been so long since I’ve felt this it’s all brand new again. ::Then she caught his eyes.:: And if my new heart says anything, I’d say you have quite the effect. ::The look in her eyes was playful despite the lingering dull pain in her chest. It was something that, for now, the endorphins racing through her bloodstream was keeping at bay.:: ::David glanced toward where the monitoring equipment kept a close eye on the room, par for the course. He completely understood, although it was a bit of a hindrance at the moment. oO Johanna, I’m sorry I ever doubted you. Oo With a smile, a nod, a wink, and a grin, David pulled out a small U-shaped device with a single button and aimed it up at the walls and ceiling before pressing it. :: ((USS Victory Computer Core)) ::The camera and monitoring surveillance within the Recovery Room squelched, then blacked out. :: ((Recovery Room, Sickbay - USS Victory)) ::And with that, and screwing protocol, David leaned down to take Kalianna’s head into one hand, gently caressing her hair as he locked eyes with her. He saw it in so many people in so many places time and again, but never really understood how the eyes could convey things that couldn’t be said, or some didn’t know how to say. :: Cody: Let’s see what your returned heart says about this. ::And without waiting for any more words, David promptly kissed her, the way it should be, letting his lips meet hers and losing himself to this precious moment they had together (or at least until the computer core recovered from the involuntary loss of recording). :: ::The feeling behind her racing heart, coupled with the kiss itself and how close he was to her brought her places where pain was a distant memory. It was a moment that she could have lived in forever, and would have chosen to live in forever with him if she could have. It was in that moment that she forgot about what had happened and realized just how deep this had gone.:: ::And it was in that moment she realized she couldn’t be without him.:: ::As the moment drew to a close, she gripped his hand and looked up at him. Something about it had made her open up. This was a place where she could just be her and not have to hide behind everything that conveyed the strong command image to the crew. Free from that, she could ask in what amounted to a somewhat small voice that seemed far from her commanding tone on the bridge.:: Nicholotti: Stay with me... ::David held Kalianna’s hand, staying close although he was reluctant to cause any more stimulation, not knowing if over-stimulating her would cause some kind of backlash. He did not want to inadvertently undo MacLaren’s work. He studied her a moment, searching her eyes as his mind considered the words. There were several meanings attached to what she just said, and he didn’t want to misread here (as he often did, and perhaps this was the primary reason why he failed in the relationship department). :: Cody: I think you’re going to need to spell it out for me here. ::smiling slightly:: And a head’s up, I was never very good at this stuff. ::Kali couldn’t help but smile now. He didn’t have to be good to do what he’d done. It’d been what she needed, and had been searching for. And now that she’d found it, she didn’t ever want to lose it.:: Nicholotti: Stay with me now, stay with me forever. ::She paused a moment, a somewhat serious and searching look coming over her.:: Don’t let go. ::It was funny how words came back, and actions came full circle. Somehow, she thought she knew that night that she’d fall, and here she was finally admitting it in her own way. It was, perhaps, a risky thing, opening up the vulnerable part of her, but there was something about him, and the blue eyes she found herself lost in, that made it all just the way it should be.:: ::Oddly, David flashed to the dance floor during her promotion to Captain, remembering the cadence and pacing of what was a slow waltz, and feeling the slow, warming burn that touched his heart thinking about how he dipped Kalianna in the middle of the floor, remembering her words that echoed here and now. Don’t let go... he nodded, and reflected a moment on the bizarreness of the brig incident, dwelling for a moment on B’Sara, and feeling a sudden panic. :: ::Did she come with them? Or had she remained behind at the Starbase? Several conflicting emotions ravaged him there, hoping it was the later, but suspecting it was the former. He knew B’Sara well enough that she was not unlike him in some aspects, and that trouble gravitated toward the pair of them. He darted his eyes away for a moment, considering factors. oO Don’t let go... Oo He had no plans to, but would she? :: ::In the moment of silence, she watched him, searching his eyes to see what he was thinking. Sure, they were big words, but words that couldn’t be kept inside.:: Cody: ::after a moment:: There’s something you need to know. It’s kind of a packaged deal... although I’m not sure what’s going on at the moment. ::For the briefest moment, she was nervous, but never once thought of backing down.:: Nicholotti: What is it? ::David met her gaze, and he hoped that she understood. :: Cody: I don’t have any kids of my own. Life didn’t work that way, I guess. But several years ago, on a prior assignment, there was... a young girl, a young Betazoid girl who’s mother had been murdered following the Gorn Wars and the attack on DS17. And... along the way, she’s about the closest thing I’ve had to a daughter of my own. ::Kali listened to what he said and her mind immediately returned to a time long before she was ever in command. The sparkle of the sun glinting off of the snow that surrounded the child that had been Rowena was vividly burned in her mind. So many times since that day, and the day she had to leave her on Til’ahn, Kali had wondered what had become of her. So many times she kicked herself for not trying to give her a better life. He had done it though, what she hadn’t been able to.:: ::The nervousness faded instantly and she smiled.:: Nicholotti: What I said stands. ::The smile turned to a grin.:: When do I meet her? ::Kids. That was something she’d not thought about on purpose since Tressa and Jaxx left. Her godchildren had been the closest thing she supposed she’d ever have to kids, seeing as how she seemed, at the time, perpetually alone. It was in that moment that she realized how much she missed them, but it was something she quickly pushed away. Dwelling on it only made her mind spiral down, and now, in the warmth of this moment, and lost with him...she would worry about it later.:: ::That was the nature of time. If nothing else, she’d learned that moments come and go so quickly. She felt as if she’d been given another chance, and in that, she would waste no moments.:: ::He flashed her a wolfish smile, although the memory of her yelling what she did still haunted him. :: Cody: Apparently, she made it back to the starbase. Last time I saw B’Sara, she was an eager-eyed bright girl anxious to prove her way through the Academy when she left. :: his smile faded :: Although she can be a bit stubborn. A little [...]y... maybe. Nicholotti: ::Raising an eyebrow.:: Wonder where she got that.... ::The medication had completely worn away now and her mind was clear. Things were connecting the way she thought they should, and though it was a lot of news at one time, she didn’t view any of it as particularly a bad thing. On the contrary, while she had faded into darkness, it seemed like she had woken to the light.:: ::David snorted a laugh. :: Cody: Three guesses, and the first two don’t count. ::He needed to find out. If she was on ship... his own heart skipped a beat at the thought something might have happened to her. That was the [...]able thing about Starfleet, and why, David suddenly realized, he didn’t particularly like the fact the one person who was, in all but name, everything, was under his watch and he knew... despite what he had said in a prior life, he could not order to the frontlines. He took a long breath, suddenly wondering how the hell this was going to work. :: ::What do you do when you’re both a father and a superior officer? :: Nicholotti: If she’s anything like you, I know I’ll love her. ::And that was where she left it, her eyes gazing into his and hoping that he would stay. It had been a long time since she’d felt so strongly about anything, and this time she wasn’t going to hide it behind command, or the ship, or her crew. This time she would follow her heart that beat on it’s own rhythm for the first time in years.:: ::David snapped his train of thought and gazed down on her, taking her hand back to hold it. :: Cody: ::a small chuckle:: Even if I’m becoming an old man? ::Kali couldn’t help but laugh, and the sound of it seemed so far from the somber nature of what had her in her current state. Despite that, it felt downright good.:: Nicholotti: I think if you can handle me, I can deal with just about anything you throw at me. ::The playful grin returned and she watched him for a moment before he kissed her again. If she never had to live without that feeling, and the moments lost in his kisses, then life would be well worth everything it had been and would be.:: ::David loved her for it. He leaned down and kissed her again. Family... it seemed like a dream at one time, something that happened to everyone else. Never him. He couldn’t imagine a better life than this moment. A daughter... and maybe... just maybe... :: Cody: If she hasn’t caused trouble already. She came with Walker to the brig. One of my more stupid moments, I’ll admit. ::Kali shrugged somewhat dismissively. It was in the past, in what seemed like a whole other world. And while she suddenly remembered Anya, and the need to deal with that on top of the chaos they were in after Krax, something about having a new heart gave her a bit of a different outlook on things.:: Nicholotti: I expect trouble, and mistakes. ::Wandering thoughts drifted through her head, but one idea stood out.:: It’s what we do after that matters. Grow, learn. That stuff. We can do it together... ::Flashbangs, sentient clones, and probably many more things she didn’t quite know about or understand; they were all part of what made him different. Trouble? Perhaps. Double trouble if his daughter was anything like he was. But what was life without a little, or as it may have been, a lot of trouble?:: ::David stared at her and blinked, then suddenly laughed in spite of it all. Here he was trying to make sure that Kalianna was, well... getting better, although he didn’t feel like he accomplished that. But whatever happened, the outlook was worth it. He wished suddenly, so hard, that his parents were alive. He wished they could see what their son made of himself, that they could meet Kalianna and B’Sara. :: ::And suddenly he wanted to take both of them... both Kalianna and B’Sara, back home. For the first time since he left after turning eighteen, David wanted to go home, and introduce them to Deborra. He didn’t have a whole lot. Well... Deborra might beg to differ... but this wasn’t the time to tell Kalianna everything. He wondered what they would think about a trip to Mars. :: Cody: Together... ::And he held that thought, holding her hand (at least), although the hairs of his back stood up as a sweep of chills coursed his spine. Everything felt so good... so right. So why did he suddenly feel something was wrong... something he had forgotten... a pressure at the back of his mind that crept in where whispers happened and strange things like white cloaked figures and weird white shapes in the air existed? :: ::For the first time, David wondered if they were omens that he might be dying. :: ::The thoughts and emotions behind his eyes seemed to swirl and she wondered just what was going through his mind. It wasn’t until she saw something familiar there that she thought maybe it had something to do with those dreams he had told her about. For a moment, she thought of asking, but ultimately didn’t. Instead, she squeezed his hand and nodded definitively.:: Nicholotti: Together, whatever time may bring. ::Whatever was running around in his head, this was her word, her promise that it wouldn’t scare her away. This was something she’d put her mind to now, and as much as he was her safe place and somewhere she could be herself, she would fiercely fight whatever this was with whatever resources or abilities she needed to bring to bear. It was so much to say, but the words encompassed it all.:: Nicholotti: ::smiling slightly, reassuringly.:: Just don’t let go. ::Smiling back, and casting aside the strange feelings, David brought up her hand he was holding and kissed it. :: Cody: Never. Don’t let go, either. ::He tried to pass it off lightly, but he felt a seriousness behind the words. In life, David hated people worrying about him. It took time, but eventually he got the collar off. He fought the induced insomnia for the bulk of his Starfleet career, and finally won (although the how of that escaped him at the moment). Commanding the Independence... even the short term Intel assignments commading the Daedalus. The strange triquara he found at the wiped out last outpost of the Breen remanents... the strange world they found from the miners who left Wheeler. A lot of strange and wonderful, if not thought-provoking things. :: ::And... as it suddenly occured to him, that he would think in terms of career, when the reality was this had nothing to do with career events. This was events of the heart, and that was something most of the guys he knew (including himself), weren’t very good at, so they used the career events to cover. He shook his head. oO No... Oo Some changes were good changes. He looked down at Kalianna, still holding her hand, and finally heaved a sigh of relief. :: Cody: I feel a little overly protective when you start putting yourself in the line of fire, okay? And I don’t say that as your Ops Chief or SO... that’s me. ::with a grin:: So don’t make a practice of dying in my arms, okay? ::Being the one that generally found herself overly protective of others, it seemed strange to have things reversed. Being Captain made that worse; she’d never be able to be completely out of that line of fire unless she hid, and she wasn’t about to do that.:: Nicholotti: I don’t intend on making that my hobby ::She grinned momentarily.:: But you know I can’t stay in the shadows. ::And that was when the words spilled into the air between them.:: Cody: I didn’t say that. I’ve been there, as Walker has, where you stand now. We still have to be able to send our crew into battle, knowing some aren’t going to come back. I know that. Perhaps a little too well. And when you give those orders, yes, I will follow them. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to hate it. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to worry. I can’t change the way I feel about you, Kalianna. Just remember someone who very much doesn’t intend to let go loves you, and wants to make sure you remember to get home safe. ::wry grin:: ::It was right there. She’d searched and found it. The words spoken sent her new, real heart into another flutter and the woman who was Kalianna let her own feelings shine in her eyes. Life, despite all of its drawbacks, valleys, and downright dark holes, seemed to have a way of coming out alright.:: ::She smiled. No. Better than alright. Much better.:: Nicholotti: I won’t forget. ::Then she narrowed her eyes slightly in a jestful manner.:: As long as you don’t forget either. ::Nothing, not even her own death, could bring her down from the clouds at that moment. There would be plenty to deal with tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, but it all seemed so much easier knowing she wasn’t alone...knowing she’d found what her heart had been searching for, and now she had the heart to go with it.:: Nicholotti: I’ll always do what I have to, to come home to you. To come home to what we build. I can’t possibly leave when you are so much a part of me. And I know I can’t stop you from worrying, and you know you can’t stop me from doing what I need to, but know I will fight with everything I am to come home. Always, because I will never let go either. ::David had a sudden thought then, which brought a short laugh, and shook his head. :: Cody: I think you’ve got the better quarters than I do, if you’re thinking about trying out a living situation... and a fish tank. :: still chuckling:: All I’ve got is a bunch of misplaced boxes of my belongings, the wine collection, and a distillery I might as well give to Silveira. Nicholotti: ::Raising a questioning eyebrow.:: It might be good I’m not in any official capacity at the moment. ::grinning.:: but I may be willing to forget certain things for a certain...aquarium. ::And just when she thought she’d heard it all, he went on.:: Cody: ::after a thoughtful moment:: I’d really hate to give up that portable distillery... but I guess I could build another one. ::Both eyebrows shot up this time and she laughed.:: Nicholotti: Or not. Besides, I have my own ways of getting what I want. You should know it comes with the position. ::At this David grinned back, eyes twinkling. :: Cody: Speaking of positions, you might want to know I told Walker to take command of the Victory. Well, since I had to carry you down to Sickbay. Transporters were offline. ::There was no possible way she could express how she felt about that, so taking a page from Jaxx, she found the humor in the situation and mocked a concerned expression.:: Nicholotti: Great. I pass out for a moment and my Second officer is ordering my First officer to command. ::She rolled her eyes and laughed as he turned things back towards this ‘living situation’ he’d brought up. In her mind, she welcomed it with open arms, and a happy spirit. It would mean always coming home to...family.:: Cody: Oh... you’ll get that tank. Don’t worry about that. As far as the distillery goes... you really don’t know, do you? Nicholotti: ::Shaking her head.:: Nope. Cody: ::deadpan:: You’ve never heard of Cody Distilleries, Isle of Skye? ::Again, she shook her head, thinking that perhaps she’d missed something along the way.:: Nicholotti: No, but I’m guessing I will be introduced at some point...soon. ::Like, when the doctor let her out of sickbay. Mentally she rolled her eyes at herself. Doctors made the worst patients. Doctors who were Captains were even worse. For a split second, she actually felt sorry for her CMO.:: ::Suddenly, David realized there was quite a few things Kalianna needed to know, if they were going to forge this together, losing his smile for a more serious frown, not sure how much he should tell her now, or wait until after she had been released. No... she needed to know. Hell... he went out to forge his own life, he forgot what it was he ran from... or really, didn’t run from, since there was a huge chunk of his prior life he kept out of Starfleet for a reason, although they did know. :: Cody: My father’s family. The Cody clan has been making Scotch for over two hundred years. My father’s sister and her husband run it now. Haven’t thought about them in years. ::She watched him, quiet for a moment, waiting to see if he would continue. Knowing there was more, she finally spoke, gently prodding for whatever it was he seemed hesitant to mention.:: Nicholotti: Interesting tradition, but not something I find as groundbreaking as your eyes tell me this is... ::He hesitated. He never told either Anassasi, or Walker... hell, he didn’t tell anyone how he tracked information down. He drew up a long breath. Hells bells... :: Cody: But what you do need to know is the civilian company my parents’ built. That’s how we ended up on Mars instead of staying on Earth. Are you familiar with trade securities? ::Though she wasn’t quite following yet, she was sure he’d put all the pieces together shortly. In the meantime, she searched her mind and all of the information she thought she’d not need, and that which just kind of was left to the side in the wake of the day to day chaos, eventually coming up with something.:: Nicholotti: Vaguely. Cody: They built what’s known as the JTSC... the Jennet Trade Securities Corporation. The Ferengi don’t like us very much. Primarily it’s trade securities, but Starfleet Intel knows it has an intelligence division. ::And where SFI was involved, things got to be less than crystal clear.:: Nicholotti: I’m sure they loved that. Cody: ::thinly veiled smile:: My mother, Barbara Jennet, decided to take legal action. I was too young to know at the time. It’s a very long story, and a boring one at that. Suffice to say, the Federation sided with her at the end, and the company continues to the day. We inherited a Turowen’dial from Betazoid, who’s more of a sister to me, who runs it. But she doesn’t own it... ::Another questioning look appeared on her face even though she was beginning to paint the picture in her mind.:: Nicholotti: So, who does? ::It was a lot to drop, but if she was serious about this, Kalianna deserved to know it all, and David didn’t want her finding out from SFI, even though in the end, they ended up helping. The mystery surrounding his parents’ death was solved long ago, with finding the JTSC-X03 and the prototype space-fold engine his father built back among the sandstorms of Mars, before the Breen stole it... and then something else stole it from the Breen remnants and wiped them out. :: Cody: ::making a face:: I never told anyone. My “sister” runs the company, but I inherited it. I just check in from time to time. ::Kali had the feeling she was probably missing the bigger implications of this, but from her relative position, regardless of if her mind had cleared or not, it was something she was willing to wait till later to look into. For now, she wanted to know why...:: Nicholotti: And why tell me all of this? Cody: ::conveying through his eyes:: Because if we do this, you need to know. I don’t believe in covering things, and I don’t lie... not to my crew, and definitely not to my family. ::There was such seriousness behind it; the very words and the way he said them sent ripples through her mind, which then translated to her body. It was strange, but welcome all the same.:: Nicholotti: I’m afraid my history isn’t quite as colorful, but I can promise the same to you. No covers, no lies. ::For a moment she searched her thoughts and tried to think of something worth covering. Besides the lack of presence that her father had in her life, there wasn’t much that could be said.:: Cody: ::after a moment:: Trust me. You don’t need a colorful history. The thrust of all of this is... ::taking her hand again:: … understanding that we all have qualities. White, black, and gray. What we decide is when we wake up in the morning and look over at the person beside us, and know, without a shred of doubt, this is the person we want to wake up with every day for all the days we have. :: sharing a smile :: And I never thought I would ever have this conversation. ::To be completely honest, neither did she. Yet, here they both were. For a moment, she considered everything that had lead to this moment, and everything that would follow. They had put everything on the table, and here they both still were. To not let go, or be let go, and to, against the universe itself if it came to it, stand fast and face it together. And though she knew they both knew, one more thing had to be said.:: Nicholotti: You know this isn’t going to always be easy... Cody: :: sharing understanding :: Who ever said relationships were easy? ::Kali looked up at him with knowing eyes. It was the difficulties in life that gave things character. It was only because she had struggled that she was able to find such joy. It was the darkness that gave light its most defining characteristics. And it was this moment, even in the wake of near tragedy, that turned everything around.:: ::A new wave of peace moved through her as she focused on him and the feeling of her heart in its flutters and jumps that told her that it wasn’t all just a dream. Somehow, death had brought her life in more than one way, and while she found herself excited about what the future might bring, for now she only wanted one thing; to get lost in his embrace once more. Careful not to move, lest she risk the incursion of medical personnel, she simply looked at him and beckoned with her eyes and the impish grin that had once again made its appearance.:: ::David didn’t need an interpretation for that beckoning, and leaned in to level a soft, but firm, kiss to encourage her to get well fast. Breaking the kiss, he kept their mouths near and made sure to keep his voice below decibel enough in case the voice recorders were back online. :: Cody: So... if I do carry you again, is that going to be across the threshold of the house? ::They were too close for him to really see the full effect that had on her face, and the flip-fluttering of her heart, but she quickly recovered and grinned slightly.:: Nicholotti: I guess that would depend on the question you ask before that. ::letting her grin fade, she got serious for a brief moment.:: And don’t you tease me. ::Indeed, recovering from near death wasn’t exactly the time to wave such things in front of her, though somewhere in her mind she could feel the seriousness of it as well. Still, there had been something Anya had said that plagued her mind...would he be chased away like the others, or would this time be different...?:: Cody: Likewise. ::smiling:: So... do you think they’ll let me crash in here tonight? Nicholotti: ::nodding slightly.:: Just tell them the Captain ordered it. Cody: The Doc’s already threatened to pull rank. I say if she tries, we’ll get you released into my care and we’ll hole up in one of our quarters and lock the door. ::Kali couldn’t help but laugh. It probably would never happen, but it was an interesting thought. Oh the trouble they could get into....:: Nicholotti: I think, if you’re good, she’ll let you stay. Besides, I need you here... Cody: ::kissing her:: Then let’s get someone to turn off the lights. ::eyeing the bed:: We’ll figure this out. ::Thankful he was there, and not scared that he would go, she finally let the fatigue start to catch up with her.:: Nicholotti: Yes, we will. Together. ::David assessed her a moment before glancing at the defunct cameras. What the hell... if anyone said anything, he was only trying to make sure she got a good night’s rest before resuming tomorrow. His hand somehow managed to slide from her hand, to her shoulder, and downwards as he said. :: Cody: Computer. Kill the lights. ::Blackout. :: -- LtCmdr David Cody Ops Chief / Second Officer StarBase 118 Ops / USS Victory & Captain Kalianna Nicholotti CO StarBase 118 Ops / USS Victory
  7. ((OOC: Just to warn everyone...this one gets romantical;) Nothing excessive or over the ratings code, but you have been notified.)) ((Junior officer's quarters, USS Mercury)) ::Velana wanted to turn around and flee the second she touched the chime on his door, but she grabbed onto the wall and held her ground. The fire raging through her body needed to be extinguished in order for her to live and Isaac Bale was the only man on the ship who she could even imagine approaching to help her with such a...delicate problem.:: ::Isaac sat cross legged on the floor of his quarters with the back of his hands resting on his knees and his palms facing upwards. The shower had done wonders to relieve the aches in his muscles, and he was finally able to meditate. Each deep inhalation brought him that much closer to centering his thoughts. Each exhale took with it another sliver of the anger built up in him from the recent mission. When his door chimed, he ignored it at first with only a very slight annoyance at the interruption. In through the nose, out through the mouth.:: ::A bead of perspiration tickled her neck as it slid down to the collar of her uniform. Her jaw clenched. Why wasn't he answering? The computer had said he was in his quarters. Were there still glitches in the system--little, annoying reminders of their recent troubles?:: ::Isaac took several more deep relaxing breaths before slowly, calmly opening his eyes.:: ::She could have screamed. It had only been a matter of seconds, but she was ready to tear her hair out. The wait was killing her. Finally...finally!!...he answered.:: Bale: Enter. ::Velana didn't want to imagine what kind of picture she presented when the door slid open and she rushed inside. She knew her hair had to look wild; she hadn't taken a brush to it since they'd returned from the planet. There was still blood on her uniform that belonged to both Alexander Matthews and Kael Thomas. Her face, no doubt, was flushed bronze all over and her skin was damp with sweat. She must have looked feral. Maybe even wanton. Certainly nothing like the woman he was used to.:: ::The door opened, and Isaac was flooded with alarm as Velana hurried through it. She was a mess. Her uniform showed blood all over it, though thank the gods it wasn't green! Her cheeks were flushed, and he could see her skin glistening with sweat. To top it all off, when she said his name her tone was almost pleading.:: Velana: Isaac... ::Suddenly, Velana had no idea what to say. How had she approached Cade seven years earlier? She couldn't remember what she had said to him, how she had told him what she needed...what she wanted. But Cade and Isaac were two very different men. What had worked with Cade might not work with Isaac.:: ::Isaac's body uncoiled like a viper, and he was already two paces forward by the time he fully regained his feet.:: Bale: What happened? Are you alright? ::It was a foolish question, and he wished he could take it back as soon as it left his lips. Of course she wasn't alright. It would take a blind man not to see that.:: Velana: ::shaking her head:: I'm not. ::She bit her lip.:: I need help. Bale: What's wrong? ::He took several steps towards her as he watched her face. Her eyes darted around as if she were desperately trying to find a way to put her thoughts into words.:: ::As he moved closer, his scent grew stronger. She drew in a ragged breath, savoring the smell of soap and clean skin and the warm blood that flowed just beneath it. Her whole body throbbed. Full of longing, her eyes darted from his lips to his throat to his shoulders and back up to meet his black-in-black gaze.:: Velana: You're a smart man. ::Without blinking to break their stare, she closed the distance between them, pressing her chest to his and speaking her next words with their lips almost touching.:: I think you already know what I want. ::whispering:: Don't you want the same thing? ::Isaac's eyes flew wide as Velana pressed against him. She tilted her head back slightly, and moved so close that he could feel her breath on his lips as she whispered. Everything about her was inviting him in, but this was definitely not the Velana that he had come to know.:: Bale: I... ::shaking his head slightly in disbelief:: ::He was at a complete loss for words, and he had never been more grateful for anything in his life than he was at that moment for his recent chance to meditate and regain full use of his telepathy. He sent his mind into hers, searching for something... anything... that he could make sense of. Even her mind was inviting him in. As he was trying to sort through her thoughts, her mind was teasing him... seducing him... with gentle waves of passion and desire. He had opened the door, but her mind was the one tickling his with seeking tendrils of emotion. His eyes fluttered as she, knowingly or not, touched something in his mind that sent a kind of pleasure through him which had nothing to do with the physical body. He had never felt anything like it.:: ::She felt him seeking access to her thoughts. Even if she'd been in a state of mind to keep him out, Velana would have let him in. Anything to keep from having to say the humiliating words out loud.:: Velana: See? ::Her mouth brushed across his.:: I need you, Isaac. ::Her voice, and the sensation of her lips brushing across his, brought him back to his senses. Against every instinct that he was feeling, every fiber of his being, he pulled his mind back from hers. Were they even his instincts that he'd been feeling? As he had broken their telepathic link, however, he had managed to come away with two words taken from her thoughts.:: Bale: ::through ragged breaths:: Pon farr... ::Now he understood. While he had never witnessed a Vulcan going through pon farr before, part of his training with SFI had included the mating rituals of many of the humanoid species of the Alpha Quadrant... including Vulcans. Seduction could be a very useful tool in the world of espionage. In any case, Isaac knew that Velana had only three choices... mate, kill, or die. She wouldn't likely kill anyone to save her own life, especially after being forced to take two lives on Vador III, and he would not allow her to die. She meant too much to him for that. So she was left with one choice.:: ::Nodding desperately, Velana put her hands on his chest, but there was a layer of fabric between her palms and his skin. She quickly moved them up to touch his clean-shaven cheeks. It wasn't enough contact. Every part of her body ached to feel more of his.:: Bale: ::shaking his head as he moved back to arms length:: This is insane! Is there no other way to get through this? ::Panic sliced through her, followed by the cold stab that came with rejection. Was Isaac refusing to help? Did that mean he didn't want her? Her heart pounded faster and each breath she took felt short and tight. If not Isaac...then who?:: Velana: There isn't. Not for me. ::Even though it hurt to separate herself from the heat of his body, she took a step back.:: But if you don't want to help me... there's someone else who will. ::That thought had him back on his heels. If he went through with this, he felt like he would be taking advantage of her condition. The thought of her going to someone else, though...:: Bale: No! ::He blinked several times in surprise at the urgency and desperation in that simple one word answer. His eyes darted across her face, across the room, at the ceiling... searching for some solution that neither of them had thought of yet. When his eyes reached hers again, she refused to let them go. He didn't back away when she moved forward to press into his chest once more.:: Velana: So... you do want me... ::Isaac could feel his pulse racing, his heart trying to pound its way through his ribcage. Everything about her was enticing... her eyes, her scent, the way she swayed ever so gently as a reminder of how close they were... all of it.:: Bale: ::lowering his voice:: You know that I do. ::She closed her eyes, partially in relief and partially because she could feel the emotion behind his admission. It wasn't love, but she didn't need love right then. Desire, raw and powerful, would be enough to see her through the plak tow.:: Velana: Please, Isaac. ::She pawed at his collar, wanting nothing more than to rip his uniform away with her bare hands.:: Please... ::He wouldn't let her die, and she wouldn't kill. There was no other choice. He didn't want there to be.:: Bale: Are you sure? ::The look of wanting on her face and the tiny nod she gave were all he needed. Isaac sent his mind out to hers again, even as he leaned forward into a kiss that started slow, but quickly intensified. He felt her mind inviting him in as her lips parted to do the same. He didn't even try to resist this time. All of his walls came crumbling down. He felt everything she felt, knew everything she knew. He took all of her passion and desire into himself, where it was magnified and sent back to her. She, in turn, did the same. On it went like that, back and forth. As their physical passion intensified, so too did their mental connection. Eventually Isaac could no longer tell the two apart. Nor could he tell his own mind from hers, so fully were they blending. Each one knew what brought pleasure to the other, and they shared in the experience of that pleasure. They were far beyond rational thought or self control. This was the definition of ecstasy.:: ::Velana was so lost to the fever raging inside her that later, when it subsided, she could barely remember the individual moments. Those small, but so important firsts were lost to her, as they had been with Cade. It was only when they came together for a second time that she was able to take note of everything. The feel of his hair between her fingers, the movement of his muscles, the taste of his mouth. As he knew what she wanted, she knew what he wanted...and neither one of them asked for permission or even hesitated before acting on each unspoken desire.:: ::He left her wanting for nothing. Although the fire was still there, and she would need him again to put it out completely, it was contained enough to let her fall asleep draped across his chest, mindless of the scratches and bruises that she had inflicted on his already-scarred body.:: ::Isaac lay on his back with one arm wrapped around Velana as she slept on his chest. He lifted his head slightly, just enough to look down across his body and see the various bruises already forming. Vulcans were strong, and in Velana's altered state she had been many times stronger than him. With both of their inhibitions gone, she had been somewhat less than gentle, but that didn't matter. He had been so caught in the moment, so taken, that he had hardly registered any of the pain as it happened. He had felt nothing but the pleasure. Besides, they were only bruises. He would be starving in the morning, but his body would heal quickly. He hesitated to move at all to find out what else may be injured. As he looked down to her, Velana shifted in her sleep, and the motion brought with it a sharp pain in his ribs. At least one of them was fractured, possibly broken. That would take more time to heal than the bruises, but again... that didn't matter. The only thing that he could think about at this moment was the fact that, for the first time in more than twenty years, he knew peace. For this all too brief moment in time, he forgot about the pain and death that had so filled his life. He could feel the exhaustion coming to claim him, but he fought it off as long as he could manage. Because what he was feeling right then was sweeter than any dream he could remember.:: TBC... Lt. Commander Velana Chief Medical Officer USS Mercury NCC-99812 & Lt. Isaac Bale Starfleet Intelligence USS Mercury NCC-99812
  8. ((Eyas’ Quarters; USS Mercury)) ::Mister Richards paused before he rang the chime on the Lieutenants door. He was tired but very grateful for the blunt, honest advice he had received from Walker and Rahman. This still wasn't going to be easy. He had heard the news on the grape vine that the lieutenant had been demoted and he knew he was directly responsible for that. Eyas hadn't been the one to start the firefight but, as the CO of the away team, and the tactical/security department, the buck stopped with him for any transgressions on the mission. Due to his arrogance it was rare that the young man of 29 years felt guilt or remorse for his actions or words. This was one of those times. He adjusted his collar and wiped the beads of sweat from his forehead before pressing the door chime. It was time to bite the bullet and come face to face with one of the many consequences of his actions. Although this would be difficult, starting with Eyas Wulfantine was logical. Commanders Velana and Matthews followed by newly promoted Lieutenant Bale. Issac would be the hardest to approach because he knew he would have to set aside his anger at the way the then Lieutenant Junior Grade had treated him. . He took a deep breath and pressed the door chime.:: Wulfantine: Enter… ::The tall ensign entered and stood at attention waiting to be told to stand at ease. At six feet, two inches tall, Mister Richards wasn't exactly a small fellow but, the blond Pythro male dwarfed him. Normally he would have found this intimidating but, given the situation, he felt he would have to take whatever his department head said on the chin. He knew Eyas to be an honorable man full of integrity. His dedication was second to none and this demotion would have hit the man hard. Much like for him how leaving Star Fleet all those months ago during the hologate affair had cut him up inside. Beads of sweat continued to form and drip from Mister Richards brow as he waited for Eyas Wulfantine's next move. His reaction to Alex's presence would tell the young man how to approach the situation without causing any drama.:: Wulfantine: Alex, thank you for visiting. Please sit. ::Mister Richards took the seat and gave the Lieutenant a smile. He was trying to hide his inner emotions regarding the mammoth task that lay ahead of him. His posture however, was a dead give away that the ensign was very uncomfortable.:: Richards: Forgive my unannounced visit sir but I have something I need to get off of my chest. (Beat.) I feel it unfair that I have as of yet received no punishment for my actions on Valdor III and that you have paid a great price for them. As someone who has been through both the Academy and it's fast track program for returning personnel I still have the rules and regulations fresh in my mind. My decision to break the chain of command and fire first was in direct violation of those rules and regulations and endangered the entire mission. (Beat.) A lot of us received injuries, some of us were even forced to take actions that they may live to regret. I created an uncontrolled mess and placed both the team and the hostages in mortal peril. (Beat.) For all of this, I can only apologize. I wish there was more I could say or do but I can't undo what has been done. ::Mister Richards slumped further into the chair. The more he thought or spoke about it, the more the consequences of his actions sank in. In this case, he had caused a distinguished member of staff’s service record to be marked permanently with a punishment that he felt was severe. Of course, even in his arrogance he would never dare to challenge the Captain’s decision. There was a reason after all as to why Aron Kells was the captain of the Mercury.:: Wulfantine: Alex, I appreciate your thoughts and accept your apology. But as you know, the chain of command works both ways. I was heading that away team, and I am responsible for all under my command. You acted in the stress of the moment as you saw best. If I had had my finger on the pulse of the situation better, than maybe I could have not led us into the encounter in the first place. ::Pause:: When you get to command away teams in the near future, as I am sure you will, you’ll understand why I must accept what the Captain has rightly imposed upon me. Richards: Doesn't mean I can live with the fact I'm getting off without even a slap on the wrist for my actions. Others on the ship have suffered greatly for my actions and I'm still here, in my uniform as if I had committed no transgression. Do you think the Captain will ever have faith in your abilities again? Wulfantine: I am sure I will be able to redeem some merit in the Captain’s eyes, one day, but in the short term I intend to enjoy my shore-leave as much as possible. ::The young man still needed to discuss a few things regarding the away team debacle, and they really couldn't wait. However he appreciated the Pythron's attempt to shift the discussion to small talk. Sitting with a slightly better posture in his seat, he spoke again.:: Richards: Did I do the right thing sir? (Beat.) Wulfantine: You acted as you thought was best given the situation. That’s the least we can ask. ::He could understand the tall blond man’s frustration that he was not ready to move the conversation on just yet. However, this was important.:: Richards: What I mean sir is (beat) I am well aware that one can never use the ends justify the means as an excuse. However, I was one hundred percent sure that we were as good as dead. It was something about the look in the Klingon’s eyes and his tone of voice as he issued the threat to vaporize us. You pick up a lot about peoples demeanor when you work as a barman just based on their facial expressions, posture and tone of voice. Wulfantine: Reading someone’s intentions is vital. In truth, I dare say the Klingon had lethal intentions, but I guess we shall never know. ::Mister Richards looked the Pythron male directly in his eyes before he spoke the next part. This was a difficult question to ask of the freshly demoted man.:: Richards: Hypothetically speaking (beat) do you think we would have made it off the planet alive had I not fired and knowing now, just how many were waiting for us in the hangar? Wulfantine: That is something I cannot answer, however, the fact of the matter is we DID all make it off the surface, and are here to talk about it. In situations like this, survival can be classed as a success. ::He was happy with Eyas' response. It was almost what he had expected. The ends could never be used to justify the means but, knowing that things may have been much worse helped the Ensign feel more at ease with his actions.:: Richards: I think I might need to run a few target practice programs on the holodeck. Although we made it through, my aim wasn't as true as it should have been. Wulfantine: Sounds like a good idea. Do you have any plans for our time on Starbase118? Richards: A nice romantic candle lit dinner with Marissa. She has already booked a baby sitter. I've not been away from her long this time, but it may as well have felt like years. One thing I learned in my time as a civilian is that counselors can work wonders if you let them in. I still have nightmares over what happened on the Independence last summer but they no longer distract me from my life, or my work. How about you sir? Do you have any plans? ::Eyas sighed, and looked out of the porthole.:: Wulfantine: Nothing cement. Maybe a dinner as well, maybe with someone. It depends how they feel dealing with an officer in disgrace. Richards: You are more than welcome to have a few beers with me at my old haunt sir. I wonder if the Tellarite still works there. His debating skills are second to none, though his arrogance makes me look like a saint! Be wary of his insults though, they can cut deep. The trick is if they insult you, to throw one right back. Then again, you more than likely know that. Wulfantine: ::Chuckling:: Indeed, and thank you. I’d like that. A drink to the Independence and the Mercury it shall be, and absent friends. Richards: Aye sir. Oh and sir, thank you for your time. ::Mister Richards stood and smiled at his old friend. There were many more things he wished to discuss with Eyas but for now they could wait. He walked to the doot feeling slightly better in himself and with more confidence in his stride.:: END Lt. Eyas Wulfantine Chief Tactical Officer: USS Mercury & Ensign Alex Richards Tactical Officer: USS Mercury __._,_.___
  9. What would you like to know ? There is a lot of information, but if you have any questions one of us can help you.
  10. ((USS Mercury - Sickbay)) ::Isaac stood in the doorway to Sickbay watching Velana work. He shouldn't be wasting time... he still had to brief D'ciq and her Marines... but Velana hadn't noticed him yet, and he couldn't help just standing there taking in the sight of her. He knew better than anyone else alive what was waiting for them on Vathor 3. He knew he may never get the chance to see Velana again. Perhaps it was better that his actions with the Cardassians had pushed them apart. It might be easier for Velana when the day finally came that he didn't return from a mission. He stood watching her for a few long moments before she lifted her head and froze, her back still towards the door. Isaac could have disappeared... could have been gone before she turned around... but for some reason, he still stood there staring.:: ::The tiny hairs on the back of Velana's neck stood at full attention. She was being watched; every instinct told her so. She glanced around, but it wasn't until she turned towards the main entrance that she found what she was looking for.:: ::Isaac Bale stood in the doorway, his intense eyes fixed on her. Her back straightened; the last time he'd seen her she'd been at her most vulnerable. She'd judged him, perhaps too harshly, and he'd walked away angry. But now he was back...and maybe she was being given a second chance.:: Velana: Lieutenant. ::She approached him cautiously, unsure of what to say.:: I hope we haven't kept you waiting. Bale: Not long. ::he lied:: I just came to brief you. We'll be arriving at the Vathor system within a few hours, and once there I will be joining Captain D'ciq and her Marines on a rescue mission to retrieve our missing crew. Velana: ::frowning:: That's...admirable, but it sounds dangerous. Bale: I have to go. I've been there before, and I'm the only one who can lead D'ciq through the tunnels. ::pausing:: And if we plan on retrieving our Captain and crew, we have only two choices... kill or be killed. They're going to need my particular skills set. ::She glanced away, drawing in a deep, but silent breath. When she looked back at him, his expression had gone cold. Velana folded her arms over her tender stomach like a shield.:: ::Isaac noticed her look away and take a steadying breath. He was a trained operative. He knew how to read people, and he didn't need telepathy to know that she was being defensive. She felt vulnerable. In spite of everything... in spite of the fact that they were completely wrong for each other, Isaac wanted to wrap his arms around the woman in front of him to make her feel safe. And in spite of himself, he knew that he couldn't. By the time Velana looked back up to him, Isaac had wiped all traces of emotion from his face. When Velana wrapped her arms around her abdomen, she confirmed that he'd been correct in his reading.:: Velana: What are you trying to say to me? Bale: We don't know how many enemies we might be facing when we get there. The planet itself will try to kill us, let alone the Klingons we find there. I wanted to let you know to prepare for wounded. Velana: We'll be prepared. We were already prepared to help the colonists. ::A moment passed.:: Is that the only reason you came here? ::There it was... a direct question that left him little choice. Was she trying to figure out how he felt, or did she already know and she was only trying to get him to admit it? Had she been more awake than he'd realized when he carried her in his arms to Sickbay? Could she hear him growling away anyone who came near as he'd watched over her in her semi-conscious state. Isaac was hard pressed to hold his neutral expression, but there were too many questions that he couldn't address right now. They had missing crew members to rescue, and he needed his head in the game. Isaac defensively deflected her question with one of his own.:: Bale: What other reason would there be? Velana: I don't know. I thought perhaps you might be... ::She shook her head.:: I'm sorry. That would be presumptuous, if not inappropriate. Bale: ::lowering his voice:: Go on... Velana: To think that you might have wanted to see me. ::Smiling briefly before rushing on to hide the bronze flush in her cheeks.:: Thank you for stopping by, Lieutenant. Good luck on your mission and please...come back safe and... ::Isaac's expression softened as she spoke. She blushed at the thought of him coming to see her. She felt... more. She was worried about him, and it was more than a professional concern for a crew member under her care. She cared about him, even after her realization that his was a life full of death. The emotions he felt radiating from her as she continued were powerful. She wanted him to come back and...:: ::She stopped when he cut her off.:: Bale: Velana... ::He took a step forward, well within her personal space. She froze, but didn't flinch. She didn't back away as he reached up toward her face. He stopped his hand just millimeters from her soft skin, and held that pose for a few very long heartbeats before pulling his hand back down to his side.:: ::She wanted to know what his hand felt like against her cheek, but he drew back, leaving her wanting. Velana could only hope that he wasn't aware of it, that her face or eyes didn't betray her longing for that contact.:: Bale: I will come back... ::Velana nodded tightly.::. ::Isaac turned and walked out of Sickbay without finishing the rest of his statement. "For her." He would come back for her. He had a very powerful motivation now for coming back from this mission, and woe to any who stood in his way.:: Velana: ::letting out her breath after he was gone:: I'm going to hold you to that, Isaac. TBC... Lt. Commander Velana Chief Medical Officer USS Mercury & Lt.(j.g.) Isaac Bale Starfleet Intelligence USS Mercury NCC-99812
  11. There is an error in the title. It should be Bale, Zolrak & Dreth: End Game
  12. ((USS Mercury - Deck 3, Corridor)) ::Isaac stood outside the VIP quarters shortly after making the last of his preparations. The game of cat and mouse was over. He was going to end this here and now. He took a deep breath to center himself, then closed his eyes and opened his mind, searching for his prey. It didn't take him long to find them inside the VIP quarters, along with several menials. Zolrak and Dreth stood off to one side of the room, probably whispering beyond earshot of the other Cardassians present. He could feel their excitement, their eagerness. They were waiting for the call to beam down to the planet so they could make their move. Isaac opened his eyes and growled. They would never get the chance.:: Bale: Computer, execute program Bale Delta Seven, phase one. ::Isaac removed a small device from one of his combat suit's pouches as he counted down the twenty seconds until the VIP Quarters would open before him. The device was programmed to emit a series of bright flashes and tremendously loud bangs, effectively overloading the sensory input of most humanoids. Even as he readied the device, the Mercury's environmental control systems were rapidly dropping the temperature inside the VIP Quarters to just above the freezing point. Cardassians didn't like the cold, and could not easily cope with the drastic change in temperature. The rapid climate change combined with the device in his hand would disorient everyone inside the room, and give Isaac a good 15 to 20 seconds of distinct advantage. He intended to make them count.:: ((USS Mercury - VIP Quarters)) Zolrak: What? What’s happening. The cold? Dreth: Bale... :: His eyes lowered and a sneer crossed his wretched mouth :: ::The doors opened and Isaac tossed his distraction into the room. He ducked to the side of the door and drew the compressed air gun from his hip as he waited for the flashing lights and the thunderous report to pass. As soon as it did, he was on the move. He spun into the room, bringing the gun up in front of him as he did, and quickly sorted through hostiles. Zolrak and Dreth were right where he expected them to be, though both were now reeling from sensory overload. With practiced marksmanship Isaac fired one shot into the neck of each of them, planting a small metallic dart deep enough into their flesh to require a minor surgical procedure to remove.:: Bale: Computer, execute phase two! Zolrak: Argh! You! ::Dreth rolled to one side and felt his neck. The man had shot him with something, although he wasn't quite sure what it was. He picked up the phaser rifle to his right and pointed it at the pathetic Betazoid.:: ::Recognizing Isaac's command, the door leading out to the corridor closed and sealed behind him. He would not allow these men to escape. They were dead already, they just didn't know it yet. As soon as the door sealed, a dampening field sprang into existence to fill the room. It wouldn't last long, a few minutes at most, but that was all Bale needed. The room went dark, save for the light of the stars streaking past the large view ports, and one of the Cardassian menials cried out as he recovered from the shock only to discover that the disruptor he now held had been rendered useless. Isaac charged straight at him and leaped into the air. A heavy boot connecting squarely with his nose sent that man to the floor and ended his confusion.:: Zolrak: Star Fleet…. Scum! Ooof! Dreth: Smart boy... But a boy nontheless... ::The hooded Cardassian revolutionary had seen his fair share of battles, had beaten countless lifeforms in combat, and wasn't about to quit now. He lunged at the man throwing whatever punch, elbow, knee and kick he could muster. He was having trouble finding an opening. He made a grab for his close range blade, throwing it at Bale, to which he ducked quickly sending the blade instead into the eye of one of the other Cardassians.:: ::Isaac moved like lightning. Every move... every spin, duck, dive and tumble left him perfectly in balance and continuing his momentum. With the three remaining menials in close proximity and still slightly stunned, Isaac rained blow after blow against them until all three were unconscious next to the man who had drawn the disruptor. Only Zolrak and Dreth remained. Isaac stalked toward them slowly, allowing them to regain their senses. He wanted them to see it. He wanted them to know. His eyes... his heart... held nothing but hatred. These two men were the embodiment of everything their people had done to him. They had taken everything from him. He didn't even know if Velana still lived. They had taken that, as well. These two men may not have been there all those years ago, but after what had happened to Velana, he was holding them responsible for all of it. He took that blame and draped it across their shoulders like a mantle.:: Zolrak: You… you will be punished for this! Dreth: The time for words has passed... You... Boy... You won't survive this day. Bale: I don't care. Zolrak: We will… make an… example of you… Dreth: ::He made sure to smile grimly at the man.:: An example... just as I did your girlfriend... ::A small laugh could be heard:: ::Isaac almost paused in his advance at Dreth's comment. Almost. Was that what Velana had become to him? It didn't matter now. Dreth was trying to play a psychological game. He had no idea who he was facing. Whatever Velana meant to him, Isaac had decided to kill these Cardassians. Nothing would stop him now.:: Bale: ::slower this time:: I don't care. Zolrak: But? Dreth: ENOUGH! ::he rasped to Zolrak:: Bale: ::drawing a combat blade into each hand:: I don't care. ::Isaac rushed forward at the two Cardassians. To their credit, they moved in concert. Zolrak went to the left and Dreth to the right, forcing Bale to divide his attention. He swung a blade at Zolrak's face, forcing the Cardassian to lean back and put himself off balance. Rather than taking advantage of that, Isaac had to spin around in the other direction to duck under a heavy two-handed punch from Dreth. Again he was forced to reverse direction, and he kicked one foot out to the side and behind him into the gut of the fast approaching Zolrak. He took several hits as the exchange continued, but his balance was enough to roll with the blows and prevent any serious damage. Still, he needed to end this quickly.:: ::Zolrak knew he was fighting for his life. Somehow this Betazoid had uncovered their crime, and was not going to allow them to escape. The cold and the stinging on his neck were not helping Zolrak in his actions, but he gritted his teeth and continued his life or death struggle.:: ::Dreth wasn't as dumb as he looked. He moved to the side of the advancing Betazoid and drew his secret weapon. The hypospray was primed and ready for injection. This would be the last time the young man would fight.:: ::Isaac turned his attention to Zolrak as the man grabbed a heavy sculpture off the shelf on the wall next to him. He stepped forward, shifting his weight onto his left leg and raising that sculpture high above his head. Just as Isaac was about to side step the hammer blow that was coming his way, he caught the slightest flicker of Zolrak's eyes over his shoulder. Time seemed to slow down as Isaac sent his mind forcefully into Zolrak's. He saw through Zolrak's eyes, for one brief moment, Dreth coming in behind him with one arm outstretched... and a hypospray in his hand.:: Bale: oO Now. Oo ::In one smooth motion Isaac spun around toward Dreth, flipping the knives in his hands as he did so, so that the blades extended down opposite his thumbs. Stepping inside the reach of Dreth's extended arm, Isaac brought the edge of his first blade smoothly and powerfully up across the wrist of that same arm. The razor sharp weapon neatly severed blood vessels and tendons alike, sending the hypospray flying harmlessly away. Isaac dropped down low and reversed direction as he continued his spin. He extended his arm and drove his second blade deep into the back of Zolrak's leading leg, forcing the man to drop the sculpture or go to the ground with it. His leg would no longer support the added weight. Before either of the Cardassians could react to their sudden injuries, Isaac rolled out to the side away from them both. He came to his feet a few meters away and stood at ease facing them. Dreth was grasping his torn wrist with his opposite hand to keep his life's blood from escaping, and Zolrak could no longer stand without the support of a wall.:: ::A stream of Cardassian expletives shot from Zolrak’s foamed mouth.:: Zolrak: ****** you **** Betazoid. Dreth: AAARRGGHH!!! ::Dreth collapsed to the floor looking at the dangling meat that used to be his hand. He couldn't help but notice the black marks along the incisions. He suddenly felt ill. Violently ill. He immediately puked a stream of clotted blood to the floor.:: Bale: ::calmly, coldly:: Computer, execute phase three. ::Lights filled the room once more as the dampening field disappeared, and the two Cardassians looked at Isaac with curious expressions. Isaac turned and stabbed his blades into the table next to him, displaying the slow rivulets of Cardassian blood sliding down each of them. Very slowly... very deliberately... Isaac removed the two empty sheaths that had held those blades from his belt. He held the sheaths forward, drawing the eyes of both men, and tipped them over to let the greasy black liquid ooze out onto the floor.:: Bale: You remember the Arboretum. Zolrak: Noooooo! oO It can’t be?Oo ****** you. Bale: ::ignoring the curses:: Computer, execute program Bale Delta Seven, final phase. ::It took only a moment for the Mercury's transporter system to lock onto the transponders planted in the Cardassians' necks by tiny metal darts just minutes before. As the two men disappeared in that familiar blue glow, Isaac hoped they would keep their senses long enough to feel every second of the pain. ((Planet’s Surface)) ::Dreth and Zolrak emerged alone and gasping on a rocky landscape, the air punctuated by explosions and rumbles. Zolrak gazed up, his vision beginning to blur. A horde of giant Klingons charged towards him, rifles aimed at him. He slumped to one knee.:: ::When Dreth's vision returned, his training from the Cardassian military had sprang forth once again. He tucked and rolled, getting back up to his feet. He turned one last time to see a group of Klingons surrounding Zolrak, his face crumbling from the affects of the poison they had been injected with. Dreth looked at his own stub seeing it begin to turn black. He remembered the small vial in his pouch pocket...:: Zolrak: F..Friend! ::looking and reaching towards Dreth:: Klingon: Karadat Nunaak! ::The Klingon group was closing in as Zorlak was helpless. He couldn't even run if he wanted to with the wound on his leg slowly spreading. The Klingons growled and snarled in their crude language. Dreth just watched from a small crater.:: Zolrak: Help? Klingon: Grishnak Vorndak! Zolrak: I… don’t understand. ::Zolrak's wound was growing. Black pustules were forming on his exposed skin, and he was slowly losing consciousness. The latter was in fact a blessing, as the pain of his festering body was excruciating.:: ::Dreth took the ampule of antidote from his pocket and ingested it. The course would run slower through his intestines, but at least he would survive. He would need to find sufficient places to hide, and eventually a ride off of this blasted rock. As for Zolrak, he served his purpose...:: Zolrak: Dreth.. go! I failed. ::Dreth said nothing, only glared at the man melting before him.:: ::With Dreth making his way, the Klingons surrounded Zolrak’s crumpled form, watching in fascination as this Cardassian slowly melted in front of their very eyes. They didn’t have to wait long before the spectacle was over and they could continue their charge for glory!:: ::Baren Dreth ran as fast as he could; to where, he didn't know. He was beginning to feel better by now, but a contempt filled his still-cold heart. He stood upon a cliff-like embankment staring upon the battle that raged below. He'd never lost an incursion to anyone... And soon enough, he would have his revenge...:: To Be Continued… Lt.(j.g.) Isaac Bale Starfleet Intelligence USS Mercury NCC-99812 & Zolrak Aide to Councilor Prianna as simmed by Lt. Commander Eyas Wulfantine Chief Tactical Officer USS Mercury NCC-99812 & Baren Dreth as simmed by Lieutenant Viktor Lanius Acting First Officer USS Apollo NCC-71669
  13. (( Physical Sciences Lab, Deck 29 -- USS Mercury )) :: One of the major advantages of the Cave -- the 3D projector sensor apparatus in the Mercury’s physics lab -- was its ability to directly connect to a user’s body, eliminating the few nanoseconds the computers took to relay information from system to system and then route it to the particular console and alarm. Therefore, when the unknown ship entered the sphere in which the Mercury’s short-range sensors were actively pinging, Aron was the first, by several thousandths of a second, to see it. In that time, his brain was well on its way to processing the known profile of the ship in question: Defiant-class, though he couldn’t make out the name or the registry until he zoomed in on it. NCC-75692, USS Triumphant. Hmm. Well, it didn’t mean anything to him, but the Mercury definitely meant something to the owner of the Triumphant, as it was making right for them. Perhaps it had been assigned as an additional escort, now that Jaxx was incapacitated? He shook his head; there was no way to know, outside of asking. He sent a quick message up to the bridge, instructing his officers not to busy themselves with it; he’d taken a break, so he would handle this strange circumstance. Still plugged into the Cave, he ordered the computer to open a channel, and the viewspace appeared directly in front of him, holoprojected by the Cave. In it was someone he had not expected to see. :: Kells: Captain Reynolds. What the hell are you doing here? ::Time had carved a few more lines into her freckled face, and her hazel eyes had hardened, but there had been few other changes. Still painfully thin, she stared at him with a piercing gaze, eyebrows raised, her head tilted forward as if to ask “did you really just talk to me like that?”. If that *was* what she was thinking, it wasn’t vocalised.:: Reynolds: Surely you can guess. Half of Starfleet has been sucked into the recent Klingon shenanigans. ::Even after all her years in space, her voice still carried the tell-tale lilt of someone born in the Martian colonies.:: Kells: As are we. But we’re on our way to a Romulan colony on the other side of the sector. Where are you heading? ::She smiled, the expression holding little real humour, and made no attempt to reply.:: Kells: Fair enough. Intelligence business? Reynolds: It does seem to be what I’m best at. Kells: I’ve been learning to embrace it. My intel officer -- maybe you know him, Isaac Bale? -- has become something of another appendage for me. I don’t know how I’d deal without him. Reynolds: I’ve read his file. ::She shook her head.:: Commander, as pleasant as this is, I don’t really have the time to spend on idle small talk. Kells: No, that’s not why you’re here. (beat) Why are you here? Reynolds: I need to pay a visit to your ship. Kells: Of course. Just you, or a team--? Reynolds: Just me. Kells: Directly here? All right. I assume you’re going to tell me why when you arrive? Reynolds: That’s the plan. I’ll see you shortly. :: The channel snapped off, and his holo-view returned to that of the sphere of space around the Mercury, now not only occupied by the larger Apollo but by the smaller Triumphant as well. It was the work of a thought and a moment to engage the transporter beam and sync in with the Triumphant, but in the second before he could, he received an urgent bleep from the bridge. He opened the message at once, before he transported Reynolds, and was glad for it. :: Kells: (muttering) What’s going on? :: A shuttlecraft was on its way from Starbase 118, and its registered occupant was a single human female: Captain Kalianna Nicholotti. The day of the former COs, Aron thought: But why was Kali coming in via shuttle when he’d just spoken with her? Unless her destination wasn’t the Mercury? She might be going to see Jaxx aboard the Apollo-- But, no. The flight plan specifically stated that her destination was the Mercury, and that she would be arriving within the next thirty seconds. Speaking of “next,” the Triumphant was signaling him again: Why hadn’t he beamed Captain Reynolds over? He put the confusion from his mind for a moment, and engaged the transporter. The room was a full-sized laboratory, unoccupied except for Aron in the Cave; he stepped away from it as the transport cycle completed, as he was less than thrilled to greet his first CO while strapped into the ghoulish-looking device. A moment later, there she stood: Captain Quinn Reynolds, no longer in command burgundy but in intelligence black, still as short and intimidating as ever. :: Kells: Captain. ::She didn’t say anything for a moment, her face impassive as her eyes travelled over the connections between man and machine. Her eyes lingered far longer on the technology than the person plugged into it. When she finally deigned to speak, her voice was as dry as the Vulcan desert.:: Reynolds: Very fetching. Kells: I assume you know about my, uhm, accident? ::Her eyebrows twitched upward and a worn, fleeting smile pulled at her lips.:: Reynolds: I’m not sure ‘accident’ is the right word. Kells: Well, I guess I got used to calling it what other people did. And it was certainly accidental. One day, maybe I’ll figure it out-- But that’s not why you’re here. (beat) Is it? Reynolds: No. Extract yourself from that device, would you? :: Before he could reply, there was a chime at the door, and, too late, he realized that he had locked it when he’d entered the Cave. He realized, too, that Kali’s shuttle would have arrived and she wouldn’t have found him waiting -- not that, apparently, she had taken it upon herself to wait. :: Kells: Computer, unlock door. (calling) Come in. :: To see the two of them together was to engage a Venn diagram made tangible. He respected the hell out of both of them, but where Quinn Reynolds entertained a neutral look that verged on the dour (if you were unkind), Kali Nicholotti was beaming at him. :: Kells: Captains, I have to admit, I’m a little confused. Why are we meeting in the Mercury’s physics lab? (beat) I’m sorry I wasn’t there to meet you, Kali. ::Kali waved her hand to dismiss the concern, still smiling.:: Nicholotti: Don’t worry about it. I’m not. ::She moved closer and leaned on a nearby console, somewhat of a knowing smirk on her face. Reynolds shifted her position to stand opposite her, on the other side of him, as though Nicholotti’s cheerfulness was somehow an anathema.:: Nicholotti: Besides, this is completely off topic anyways. With everything that’s going on out there... ::A momentary look of seriousness passed like a ghost across her face before the smile returned.:: We thought it important enough to do this now, rather than later. Kells: Well, then … if it’s not the current crisis … then, what? ::It would have been nicer to have had something bigger. While she wholly agreed with Jaxx on allowing promotions to be close knit and one on one, there was something about the milestone that Aron had attained that simply called for more. But what she knew about the situation out there was that things were dire. The ship and her friends were heading into more danger than she could stand to think about, and if he was walking into that, he deserved to do it knowing he’d reached that level and met that goal.:: Nicholotti: I know I would have loved to have had more time with you, but when they called for you to go, to command the Mercury...::She sighed and recalled the orders.:: I knew they were getting the best man for the job. Kells: You’re kind, Kali. In this case.... :: It was unfortunate that they had both boarded while he was trying to hide -- no, gather his thoughts. Yes, gather his thoughts for the difficult times ahead. Their appearance had, then, and against odds, helped him achieve that goal: Because he was suddenly in the midst of his -- peers? As strange as that sounded, yes. :: Nicholotti: Now you’re walking into one of the most volatile situations possible. And you’re doing it because they need you to. ::She gestured as if to mean ‘they’, as in ‘out there’, somewhere. Finally, she shook her head, sending her raven black hair flying before leveling her gaze at him and holding it there.:: Nicholotti: No one in the fleet is more deserving of this Aron. You’ve met, and exceeded the expectations that anyone could have set forth for you, and you’ve shown everyone that you were made to lead. This crew couldn’t ask for a better captain. Starfleet couldn’t ask for a better captain. ::Her voice trailed off as she thought once more about the hornet’s nest he was about to walk into, and she decided, ultimately, that now may be the only time she had to say everything she wanted to say.:: Nicholotti: I couldn’t ask for a better friend. ::Perhaps the outward pouring of emotion had reached some kind of breaking point for the aloof intelligence officer, or perhaps she really was short on time. Either way, Reynolds stepped forward, her hand dipping into her pocket.:: Reynolds: I’m sure you’ve realised by now that this isn’t a social call. ::She held out her palm in front of him, a solitary gold pip shining against her pale skin. She let that sink in for a moment, before continuing.:: Reynolds: I should recite the attention to orders, but that belongs in a full ceremony. So I’ll just say this: It’s my pleasure to appoint you a captain in Starfleet, to rank as such from this day forward. ::A smile tugged the corners of her mouth upward, and for the first time, the expression reached her eyes. Even the dryness in her tone couldn’t quite disguise her pride in him and his achievements.:: Reynolds: And may whatever gods you believe in have mercy on your soul. Congratulations, Aron. ::She passed the pip in her hand to Nicholotti, for the other captain to conduct the actual pinning, and then moved aside. Nicholotti, for her part, couldn’t help but smile as she reached out and attached the fourth pip of his new set. Before she stepped back, she hugged him, then moved back a few feet.:: Kells: You guys are crazy. The brass, too. Starfleet in its entirety. I don’t understand-- :: His voice broke, if slightly, and he cut himself off. Several deep breaths. He nodded. :: Kells: But thank you. Nicholotti: Our time is short. ::Her voice got quieter.:: But I wanted you to have that. Just... ::Looking away, she hid the fear, the concern, and the worry until she was able to compose herself once more. Then, she continued.:: Nicholotti: Just come back, Aron. Kells: Me? Not come back? :: He smiled the confident smile with which he’d first beamed onto her bridge. Architect knew where it had come from, as he hadn’t felt it a moment before. :: Kells: I really am indestructible. Reynolds: Before I go. ::She reached into her pocket and offered him a cobalt-blue isolinear chip.:: You may find this useful. Your destination has more than a few skeletons in its closet. :: Aron met her eye, then glanced over at Kali. He wasn’t afraid of the knowledge that the chip contained, just as he hadn’t been afraid of Brokar’s; he was only hesitant about the intervening moments in which he would have the information but not know it yet. :: Kells: It’s encrypted, hm? Any clues as to what’s on it? Reynolds: Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies. Lieutenant Bale should be able to decrypt it for you. Kells: Yes, he does have a talent for that. ::She hesitated for a moment, lips parting as though to say something more. Then she shook her head, changing her mind.:: Reynolds: Watch your back out there, Captain. :: He hesitated, then, but only for a moment: he recognized the end of the thought when it came. There was more that he wanted to say, but he wasn’t sure what it would sound like, and so he, too, said nothing. :: Kells: And you. We’ll see each other again. Soon. :: He stepped back; there would be no embrace there, not as with Kali. A moment later, she had vanished in the transporter sparkle, and Aron was left alone with Kali. He couldn’t quite meet her eye. :: ::And just like that, it was all over. A strange bout of silence descended over the room as she looked at him, a new Captain, ever aware that he didn’t seem to be able to quite return the gesture. It had to be overwhelming though, just as her own ceremony had been not all that long ago. Finally, in the dimly lit silence, he spoke.:: Kells: You came over here? Just for this? Nicholotti: ::Nodding.:: Yes. ::Sometimes, more words weren’t always needed.:: Kells: You have your own concerns. This was trivial. I mean.... ::Both eyebrows shot up at that, though she shouldn’t have been surprised. Their minds were all on the crisis. Which was why a simple reminder of why they were fighting, and why they were out here doing what they did was so vitally important.:: Nicholotti: This was far from trivial. On the contrary, it was more important now, in the middle of this mess, than ever. Kells: (quietly) Do you know what I was doing here? Why I wasn’t on the bridge? ::Remembering so many days where she wanted, and attempted, to fade into the background, she could wager an educated guess. Her thoughts drifted to a voice that echoed from earlier in the day and she repeated Cody’s words in an almost incorporeal manner.:: Nicholotti: The masks of command...::Having looked away for a moment, she returned her gaze to him.:: From my experience, there’s always at least one shadow in the closet. ::Her eyes said the rest, offering him a moment to just put it out on the table and say what needed to be said. With the slightest bit of questioning in her look, she let him collect his thoughts and say it.:: Kells: I was hiding. I’ve tried to hide from that truth, too, but (beat) I was. Hiding. I know what you’re going to say: A career of pluses isn’t negated by one moment of minus. I agree. It’s of no statistical significance. But (beat) … another but. I wish I felt more confident. That’s all. ::A bit of a nostalgic smile washed over her then. It felt like she had just had this conversation not long ago, though she had been in his shoes. Perhaps the universe was working towards the ever elusive goal of balance once more and bringing them all full circle.:: Nicholotti: Just be who you are, Aron Kells. When the dust settles, that’s what will matter. Your officers respect you, and I know they have a great leader. Just try to avoid getting into too much trouble out there. Kells: I know. And I will. Like I told Reynolds, I will see her again. And you. (beat) Do you want me to walk you back to the ‘bay? ::Holding up and waving her hand dismissively again, she shook her head.:: Nicholotti: I can find my way. Besides, you have somewhere more important to be. ::Her gaze leveled at him now and she tried to impart the confidence he would need to jump start the process of creating his own with one simple look. Perhaps it wouldn’t work, but knowing that someone had no doubts in your abilities, well, that had always helped her. And for a brief moment, she wished that Jaxx could have been there, but it was fleeting and her attention was quickly back on Aron.:: Kells: No, I suppose you’re right. To the bridge I’ll go, then. ::sigh:: They’ll probably want to have a party. ::To that, she grinned.:: Nicholotti: What are you talking about? *I* want a party. ::Then she got quiet and nodded.:: It’s as much for them as it is for you. You are the epitome of what they will strive to be, a face to their collectiveness. You and I, we are the manifestation of what they do every day, of dreams, and hopes, and so much more. Yes. They’ll want a party. ::Turning the tide back towards something less serious, she smiled again.:: Kells: Well, I’m not going to be dancing with any Pahkwa-thanh, anyway. Nicholotti: ::Shaking her head.:: No, though I have to admit, that looked rather humorous. At least you didn’t get in the way of the tail, yes? Kells: Not for lack of trying, anyway. ::With one final look over him, she extended her hand to shake his, now as a fellow Captain.:: Nicholotti: Welcome to the future. Just remember, I’m always a subspace call away. Kells: I know. (beat) I do know. And I’ll use that. Believe me. ::Winking at him, she gestured towards the door.:: Nicholotti: I’ll see you, Aron. I know you’ll make it back. And in the meantime, I’ll be plotting for that party. ::And with that, she disappeared on the other side of the doors. Pointing herself towards the shuttlebay, she forced her feet to move, though she kept her mind, for the moment, back in that room with her friend. For all the confidence she showed, there were still some very deep set fears that plagued her thoughts. But that too was just another one of the masks of command.:: Captain Quinn Reynolds CLASSIFIED & Captain Kalianna Nicholotti Commanding Officer Starbase 118 Operations & Captain Aron Kells Commanding Officer USS Mercury __._,_.___
  14. Sorry but I believe this is more Vincent Price material. Hmmm...that is possible, but I would check the original movie The Blob with Steve McQueen. In the movie theater scene the film that was running had Bela speaking. That is where I remember that line. Minus the Count Dracula.
  15. Where is Bela Lugosi ? "Yes, I am here waiting for you to become one with me!!! Count Dracula!!!!!" This one gave me the chills. LOVED IT!!!! Yes I was waiting for Bela to speak.
  16. ::The story so far… it is over a year since disgraced Master Engineer Victor Handley-Page and his lady Lucinda Mountbatten-De Havilland managed to escape from Star Fleet’s clutches after yet another unfair court martial. Following a short and unsuccessful attempt to become trampolining acupuncturists, Handley and Lucinda have sailed for pastures new, but not before a chance meeting up with Leo Beaufighter, our hero - gentleman adventurer, author, artist, activist, astronomer, professional daydreamer and rural spaceman. Leo had already resigned from the USS Tiger-A after the Hologate Affair – and was in search of new adventures. The wise and venerable Handley-Page showed Leo numerous ways to enhance his own spaceship, and was even able to add his own consciousness to the ship’s database, giving it the ability to learn and evolve. Also, Handley was able to pass Leo crucial information on the modus operandi on the evil Mons Vor (Leo’s biological father) who with his Pythron army was laying waste to the planet of Byzatium. With this knowledge now known to him – Leo has assembled a team of friends old and new – and returned to his homeworld on a new mission – to thwart the megalomanic plans of the evil Mons Vor once and for all.:: ::Now read on… dot dot dot dot dot… dot…:: ((Stream of Consciousness Shuttle; Approaching Byzatium)) ::Leo approached Scania, and brushed her long hair away from her face.:: Beaufighter: It’s been too long my dear. Calderan: Aye. And to think I found you adrift in space. Beaufighter: Adrift? I was merely dozing. Calderan: Is that what they are calling it now? Beaufighter: You can call me anything you desire old girl. Calderan: Less of the old. Beaufighter: Just a turn of phrase, ma’am. I’ve called you a lot worse, ne c’est pas? Calderan: That is true. Beaufighter: So, any news from my old man? Calderan: Nothing so far, I think you are in the clear. Beaufighter: Then that is tickety-boo indeedy. Calderan: Never say never. ::Leo adjusted his white tunic.:: Calderan: You look frightfully dashing Sir. Beaufighter: Frightful AND dashing? That’s an improvement. Calderan: You know what I mean. Beaufighter: Someone has to. Calderan: Why do you say that? Beaufighter: You are mystery my dear, one of the great mysteries of our age. Calderan: I’ll take that as a compliment, although I’m not sure it is. Beaufighter: Everything I say is with the best of intentions, you know that. ::He winked at her.:: Calderan: Smooth talking will get you everywhere. Beaufighter: That’s the plan. ::Pause:: oh, thank you for meeting me here today. Transports are so hard to come by now. Calderan: I’m not a taxi service. Beaufighter: Never crossed my mind. ::The starfield zoomed past the shuttle as it sped towards it destination. The war-torn planet of Byzatium.:: Calderan: Almost there, I better turn off auto-pilot. Beaufighter: Not a moment too soon neither. Sedrin looks like he’s about to fall asleep. ::Leo’s ship rendezvoused with the others of Nova Fleet X as they entered the atmosphere over Byzatium. Nodding once again to Scania, Leo turned and went to the back of the control room. He lifted the crystalline helmet over his head and typed the necessary buttons on the console in front of him.:: Computer: Transferring neural net patterns to master databank. Beaufighter: Jolly good show. Computer: The Handley-Page mindscape is locked in. Shuttle transmogrification complete, welcome back Sire. Beaufighter: It’s good to be back. Now his mind is running the whole bally craft. Computer: Space Shuttle Handley-Page, at your command. Beaufighter: First class! ::He tapped the comm button.:: Beaufighter: This is Leo Beaufighter of the Handley-Page to Nova Fleet X. We are preparing to land upon the surface at 10:00hrs. Check your predefined plans and locate the second rendezvous point. ::There was a signal of acknowledgment from the other six craft, and they moved forwards into the clouds below.:: Beaufighter: How are you doing ma cherie? ::Scania looked over her shoulder at Leo, her long auburn hair resting prettily on her forehead and shoulders.:: Calderan: Fine thanks. Sedrin here is doing all the hard work. ::She smiled and nodded to the pilot next to her.:: Belasi: Heeeeeyy… ::he said in his normal chilled out tone.:: ::There was a clunk, and behind approached a small lumbering shape. One of Handley’s creations.:: Trundlebot: Noooonaaanoonaaah Beaufighter: Ah dearest Trunders, are you also patched into Handley’s mainframe? Trundlebot: Neeeenaaaanoooneeenah! Beaufighter: Excellent! ::There was a squeaking, and from the shadows a small, furry, excitable little creature bounced into view and sat atop Trundlebot.:: Beaufighter: Little Smidgey, can’t leave you behind. Smidgey: Wheee, it looks spooooky out there. ::Squeak:: Beaufighter: Where’s you sense of adventure? Smidgey: ::higher squeak:: Like sleeeeep more than venturessss. ::Leo smiled and patted the Smidgey on the head.:: Beaufighter: Alrighty, let’s see what delights this war-torn hell hole has for us. I doubt I’ll have a welcome home party. ::With a gentle splot, the Handley-Page touched down on the muddy surface.:: Beaufighter: Follow me! Calderan: Right behind ya! Belasi: Yeeeeeaaaahhh Trundlebot: Neeennooo nanana Smidgey: It is spoooooky out here! ::Service phaser in hand, Beaufighter led the team into the wastelands.:: To Be Continued… Leo Beaufighter (PNPC) Adventurer, Author, Artist, Activist, Astronomer, Professional Daydreamer and Rural Spaceman; Commander; Nova Fleet X Simmed by: Lt.Cmdr Eyas Wulfantine Chief Tactical Officer: USS Mercury
  17. There is a typo on the title. It should be Cat's Cradle
  18. ((Officer's Quarters, USS Mercury)) ::As she approached the door to Velana's quarters, Alaxa looked down at the furry bundle in her arms.:: Alaxa: We're almost at your new home. Try to look as cute as possible. ::The black and white kitten stared up at her with huge eyes and let out a tiny meow.:: Alaxa: Perfect. Keep doing that. She won't be able to resist you. ::The kitten batted at the end of Alaxa's long braid.:: Alaxa: ::moving her hair off her shoulder:: Not that. No one likes that. ::Upon reaching her best friend's door, Alaxa pressed the chime and redjusted her hold on the kitten while she waited for Velana to respond.:: Velana: Come in. ::Alaxa could smell Velana's favorite incense. For a moment, it was almost like they were back sharing a room at the Academy. She missed those days. Velana couldn't stand clutter, so Alaxa had never really had to clean up after herself. Her clothes had always miraculously found their way back into her closet.:: ::Her best friend was sitting at her desk, reading something on a PADD when Alaxa entered. She looked up and immediately zeroed in on the kitten.:: Velana: Oh! ::She stood up.:: You got a cat! Alaxa: Well...sort of. ::The kitten meowed as Alaxa held her up to Velana.:: I got her...for you. Velana: ::blinking:: What? Alaxa: Lieutenant Lerner's cat had a litter about six weeks ago. Once they were weaned, they were all adopted pretty fast, but she still had this one baby left. I just thought you could use a little companionship. ::After a second, Velana hesitantly reached out to touch the kitten's soft fur. She pulled back her hand at the last second.:: Velana: I don't know. Alaxa: What do you mean, you don't know? You like cats. ::She frowned.:: You do like cats, don't you? Velana: Yes, I like cats. Although you might have thought to ask me that before now. Alaxa: Noted. So, what's the problem? Velana: I'm just not certain I have enough time to take care of a pet, at least not as much time as one deserves. Alaxa: It's a cat, Vee, not a dog. Cats don't like it when you get too clingy. It cramps their style. ::She held the kitten out to Velana.:: You can't deny her; she's ridiculously adorable. ::A slow smile turned up the corners of Velana's lips.:: Velana: She is precious. ::A moment passed before she took the kitten from Alaxa. Immediately, the little furball started rubbing her head against Velana's chest, purring loudly. Velana laughed.:: And she likes me! Alaxa: 'She' might be a 'he.' We should probably check. ::But Velana was too busy scratching underneath the kitten's chin to pay attention.:: Velana: ::to the kitten:: You'll need a bed and some toys and a litter box. A water bowl...maybe a scratching post... ::She looked at Alaxa.:: I know what I'm going to name her! Alaxa: Mr. Something? Really, I think it might be a boy. It likes your chest a lot. Velana: ::ignoring her:: Matya. Alaxa: Um...doesn't 'matya' mean 'cat' in Vulcan? Velana: You don't like it? Alaxa: You're going to name your cat 'Cat'? Velana: When someone gives you an animal completely out of the blue, you can name it whatever you want. ::She carried the kitten to the replicator.:: Are you hungry? Let's get you some dinner. ::Alaxa watched, amused, as her Vulcan friend replicated a dish of feline supplement specifically designed for young cats. She set Matya down in front of it and smiled when the kitten started nibbling at the mush.:: Alaxa: Well, I'll let you two get acquainted. Velana: Allie. ::Walking to Alaxa, Velana put her arms around her friend.:: Thank you for always knowing what I need when I don't have any idea myself. ::Alaxa hugged her back for a second before drawing away.:: Alaxa: Listen, I know the wedding was hard for you. Velana: ::shaking her head:: I am so happy for Jade and Alex. Alaxa: Didn't say you weren't. But it was still hard...right? ::Velana glanced away.:: Alaxa: You have to let him go, Vee. He's just not worth it. He never really was. oO Even if he had married you and given you babies of your own...he still wouldn't have been worthy. Oo Velana: I wish it was that easy, but... ::She was quiet for a second.:: It's been seven years. Any day now, Allie...any day, it will hit me again. The real thing this time. And I have no idea what I'll do when it happens. Alaxa: In case you haven't noticed, this ship is lousy with good-looking men. Velana: I'm sure I could find a willing partner, but I want someone who will stick around afterwards. ::Before Alaxa could say anything, Velana shook her hand, dismissing the topic.:: Never mind. It's fine. I'm sure it will work out. ::Alaxa studied her friend for a second. Did Cade Whitman have any idea of scope of the damage he'd inflicted on Velana? Probably not. If it hadn't been for Alaxa's strongly-worded suggestions to keep his distance, he might tried to worm his way back into Velana's life by then, especially if he knew she was about to go through another pon farr. But Cade wouldn't have stayed. It wasn't in his nature. And Velana deserved someone who was willing to put her first.:: Alaxa: All right. I'm going to go. ::She pointed at the kitten who had abandoned her food in favor of exploring Velana's meditation area.:: You'd better watch out. Lerner says the kittens aren't fully litter box trained yet. ::As she left, she could hear Velana gasp as she scooped up Matya just in time to save her Triaxian silk floor pillows.:: Lt. Sen Alaxa (PNPC) Communications Officer USS Mercury with Lt. Commander Velana Chief Medical Officer USS Mercury __._,_.___
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