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Maz Rodan

Captains Council observer
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Everything posted by Maz Rodan

  1. I can't tell you how good it is to have my old collaboration partner back on the ship - and the fleet at large - with us! Max, you have been missed, and this is incredible, as usual! --- (( Shuttlecraft Ramena, in Raft-One Traffic Control Space )) Shuttles sure seemed like magnets for disaster - always falling into spatial anomalies, getting captured by hostile forces, breaking down at the most inconvenient times... it was a wonder the crew safety commission didn't strike every single last one from service. The problem was they were still the best way for a small number of people (or just one) to get from place to place. People like Maria. Except they were only the best until they weren't. Maria sighed heavily. The Arrow at long last loomed larger and larger in the window. All in all, the journey could have been far worse. The trip should have only taken three or four days, but instead it took two weeks. She was back though. Of course, Maria wasn't supposed to be seeing the ship or its crew for at least another month according to the original plan, but the reason why her assignment to the Degault and Genti II was cut short was a story she hoped wouldn't pried into. Or not immediately, at least. Ah, who was she kidding? Shayne would probably tear into it (and her) the first second he saw her. She grinned at the thought - nothing like a good verbal sparring match with the ol' CO to feel right at home. The fact she was here at all was a minor miracle. When she was dropped (more dumped, really) at the depot, the sole Starfleet officer on the planet had informed her that there were in fact no shuttles available. Upon some rather pointed prodding, he admitted there was one "in the back." Maria demanded to see it, and he obliged. He led her back, and flung the tarp off of what would more rightfully be called a warp-capable rickshaw, complete with chicken wire for conduit shielding. Anxious to put the Degault behind her, Maria immediately mounted up and warped off into the sunset, no questions asked. Just over six hours later, the shuttle had its first systems failure. From there, it turned into a game of hitchhiking along the trade routes of the Alpha Isles over the following weeks: first with a Caldonian yacht, then a Galadoran freighter, then finally a Dokkaran ore tug. Between fouled warp injectors, a replicator on the fritz, and a navigation computer held together by Serilian Gorilla Paste, the best place for Maria's junkyard queen to be was safely docked in the shuttle bay of a larger, faster ship. That also gave her time and tools to patch the systems well enough to traverse the final twenty-four hours or so to Raft-One on her own, where Arrow was docked. So far, her handiwork held up. Barely making warp two was hardly traveling in style, but when the distance was reasonably short, it worked. She thought, for a moment, she might just dock without incident. Alvarez: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena to Raft-One traffic control, on final approach to USS Arrow. Switching comms. =/\= Controller: =/\= Roger, shuttlecraft Ramena. Safe docking. Out. =/\= Maria switched to the channel she had memorized. She felt her stomach churn as the familiar shape of the ship got bigger and bigger. For a moment, she mis-characterized the feeling as anxiety, but quickly realized it had more to do with the fact that Dokkaran miner's rations did not sit well with her. Also, it probably had more to do with the fact that the Arrow was upside down from Maria's point of view, and there was an uneasy lurch in the shuttle's rate of roll coming around to match orientation. Alvarez: =/\= Suttlecraft Ramena to Arrow, request permission to dock. =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Permission granted - proceed to shuttlebay two. =/\= Alvarez: =/\= Acknowledged, trimming course. =/\= A few compliant beeps later, and the final approach vector was laid in. Maria, while certified, was far from an ace pilot, so she trimmed the approach rate downwards for a gentle landing. The only problem was the shuttle was now stubbornly stuck at a 45-degree angle relative to the bay. Shuttlebay: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena, please adjust your relative roll to zero-zero-zero. =/\= Maria rolled her eyes. Did they think she was coming in like this on purpose? Landing on a single nacelle was about the worst thing you could do. She pressed a few buttons that should have brought her around, but the shuttle's computer beeped at her defiantly. Alvarez: =/\= Arrow, I seem to be having technical difficulties. Stand by. =/\= She got out of the seat, and pried a panel open with a huff. As she stared at the innards, there was a powerful wash of deja vu. She shook it off, and set to work. Alvarez: Fine, you wanna do it the hard way, we'll do it the hard way. Let's see here... :: She started singing, tracing her finger across the circuits. :: The thruster pack is connected to the :: beat :: octo-valve, the octo-valve is connected to the :: beat. :: servo relay, the servo relay is connected to the :: beat. :: nav ODN bus, the nav ODN bus is connected to the... :: She stopped. :: HA! Got you. Just a good old manual override and... She yanked a glowing cable from one slot and thrust it into another port. The shuttle bucked, throwing Maria's footing off and sent her backwards onto the far wall. The good news was that the shuttle was now rotating. The bad news was that it would not stop rotating until the cable was removed again. Maria reached forward, and yanked on the cable. Sparks flew up, and the cabin went dark. Outside, Arrow was still spinning closer and closer into view. Upon realizing the step she missed, Maria swore. Alvarez: I really should have paid more attention in engineering class... Shuttlebay: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena - please null your rate of roll. =/\= Alvarez: =/\= Yeah about that... =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Ramena, you are crossing the final abort zone, correct your roll or abort your landing! =/\= Maria hauled herself up to the chair and tried a few controls. Nothing worked. Alvarez: Computer, diagnostic - what command systems are still functioning? There was a moment. Computer: Audio commands, database functions, and communications. All navigation is offline. Maria groaned. Alvarez: =/\= Arrow, all navigation is out, prepare for a crash landing. =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Roger Ramena. =/\= The man sounded thoroughly annoyed. At least with the painfully slow approach Maria had chosen, there wouldn't be any real damage to Arrow, and no one would care much about the hunk of junk she currently sat in. She sat down and held on as the shuttlebay got larger and larger, slowly twirling round and round. Then, she chuckled as an idea crossed her mind. Not everything on the shuttle was broken. Alvarez: Computer, play "The Blue Danube." The computer chirped, and the schmaltzy strings and horns struck up in a lilting waltz. Maria laughed at the perfect absurdity of it. If she was going to get in trouble for all of this (and she almost certainly would), she might as well have her fun with the moment. As Arrow appeared to serenely spin around her, docking lights going in circles around her head, she felt her stomach lurch again. That put a stop to her fits of giggles, replacing it with an uncomfortable groan. Alvarez: I'm gonna be sick... As the waltz drunkenly crescendoed, Maria had to admit her commitment to the joke was not helping her. She gripped onto the chair as the shuttle went upside down yet again as it crossed the boundary of the shuttlebay in slow motion. The normally imperceptible transition in gravity felt like a rollercoaster in this orientation - the blood in her head drained "up", but the blood in her feet "down" - if those directions could even be called that. There was an abrupt crunchy clang on the roof from the shuttle dropping on the shuttlebay floor, and a horrid scraping squeeeeeeeeee of metal against the floor as the shuttle came to a stop. Then, the shuttle's gravity switched fully off, and Maria was sprawled across the ceiling with no warning. Fortunately, her dignity was hurt more than anything, at first blush. She scraped herself off of the deck, and proceeded out the upside-down exit. She gave a pretty smile and flirty wave to the on-duty chief as if that could solve all transgressions, then promptly emptied the contents of her stomach on the deck. (( Mini-timeskip )) (( USS Arrow, Deck 3 - Sickbay )) (( OOC Note: I'm leaving tags open for one or more of our doctors to answer. Or for anyone to visit. )) Maria cradled her head in one hand and her stomach in the other, legs draped off the biobed she sat on. This was definitely not how she imagined her reunion tour starting. She kept her eyes shut to keep the unnatural light of sickbay from making her feel even worse. She wasn't sure if she was being a complete wimp about the discomfort she was in, or if the washes of general stomach malaise were really as bad as she'd said. Hopefully the doctor's tricorder would answer that. Alvarez: I really should not have eaten all that Dokkaran Relvu Stew... Sickbay: Response Alvarez: At least it was fresh! Or rather the captain said it was fresh... Looking back, it did have far more of a fermented taste than seemed safe. Maria didn't ordinarily have trouble with being spun around, and it had been long enough for her vision to settle, so she was a little concerned that her body was still in full revolt. The food she ate for the last two weeks seemed like a good explanation. It certainly felt more satisfying to blame it on that than her miserable piloting and fix-it skills. Sickbay: Response Maria opened her eyes and looked up with a displeased frown. Alvarez: What does that mean? Is it bad? I'm assuming by the number of syllables that it's bad. :: Suddenly grinning :: Is it contagious? Maybe I should be put in isolation for a few days... :: She winked. :: Only Maria could be excited by the prospect of a potentially dangerous medical condition. After all, who knew? Maybe this would be a way to avoid Shayne for a couple more days. Or at least get a doctor's note keeping her out of purging the waste systems. She smiled, then realized that was punishment more commonly reserved for Ensigns. Something she wasn't any longer. On the Degault, her rank wasn't much more than a formality. She spent more time on the planet anyway, so it only now occurred to Maria she hadn't spent more than a minute aboard Arrow with the new half-pip before she'd shipped off. Sickbay: Response Maria was too busy inside her own head to really process the answer to her question. Thoughts of what Arrow had been up to in her absence crawled up in her mind - she suddenly felt a little guilty for not checking in on Quentin or Chloe or anyone else. She had meant to, of course, but it never happened. It took until this moment to process the new scars she'd noticed on Arrow's hull and the general pale dejection of some of the crew wandering the halls. Sure, Maria wasn't exactly hot stuff at this particular moment in time, but at least she had an excuse: she was suffering from... whatever syndrome it was the doctor had just said. What was everyone else's deal? Her dark eyes focused on the doctor, this time with a curious and crystal-clear intensity. Alvarez: Hey, did something happen last mission? Things around here seem :: She considered the word a moment. :: off. Of course something happened. Something always happens on missions. She meant what happened? Sickbay: Response Lieutenant JG Maria Alvarez Operations Officer USS Arrow - NCC-69829 A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  2. Have you ever known a huge secret, like something so fantastic and epic you can't wait for it to get started? You're chomping at the bit to tell people, but you know you'll spoil it? This is me right now aching to get our current mission kicking! And this sim from @Quentin Collins III solidifies my childish excitement!! ---- It had been almost a decade since the tomb-ship had moved. Longer still since life had trod its levels. But it seemed it's path through the Isles had positioned it for all sorts of re-acquaintances. Back to light and matter and even a touch of life. Time would tell if they would actually survive it's contact with the tomb-ship but its deckings hummed with an ambient energy all the same. One long thought lost to the ravages of time and cosmic tides. Hosting its first “guests” in the Ferengi; the first in centuries. It's journey had started long ago, but was longer still from ever being complete. Bound a holy mission but then lost to the indifference of space. And a souring in the faith of its crew. One further twisted by time and distance from home. More than a hundred decks carried these stories and more. But that may have been lost on the scavengers that had first discovered her, hanging carefully and hidden in their personal space-fold. Itself another odd quirk of the deep decay that had set into the ship's bowels. Decay that couldn't be reversed now, only managed. By hands inexperienced in the work of its management. But as charged energy particulates danced across its hull, revealing its massive shape and form to open space for the first time in years, something else stirred it the lowest depths of its deepest holds. Something that forgotten what the light even looked liked. But not what the smell of meat smelled like. Groans and creaky wails started to echo from the lower decks. Not all of them mechanical in nature. To Be Continued… -- THE SPACE HULK Ancient Derelict Once Thought Lost to Time As simmed by -- Lieutenant Commander Quentin Collins III Chief Science Officer -- U.S.S. ARROW NCC-69829 ID: E239512QC0 -- F.N.S. CONTRIBUTOR (SB118 Forums)
  3. Shayne: =/\= Computer, assign Ensign Alvarez to waste extraction, effective her next duty shift. =/\= Computer: =/\= Acknowledged. =/\= Raising an eyebrow, she tilted her head slightly, smirking and sending her red hair spilling off to the side. Shayne: You see what I have to deal with?! MacKenna: She had the best interests of the ship at heart. ::smirk turning into a grin.:: Besides, I know better. He grumbled, though half serious, she found it both adorable and maybe a little amusing. Shayne: But Ash… MacKenna: She wasn't that bad. Ash shrugged, grinned and called with her eyes, waiting for action before making any movements. Finally, after a moment of reluctance, he tapped his badge. Her grin turned into her sweet smile. Shayne: =/\= Belay my last, computer. =/\=
  4. Well done and massive thanks to our Maria Alvarez for brainstorming, evolving and executing the idea of The Bairiri - the cultural, musical, and artistic coming together of the Gentii species and Starfleet. These sims were beautiful to read! (( Genti II - Grand Central Establishment, Federal District. Brynja Bairiri Hall - Main Stage )) (( OOC: Buckle up! I did my best to roughly notate which parts were which, but it’s all pretty approximate if you dare to try matching it up. If you have Spotify, I recommend the edition I’ve been listening to. If you’re short on time or don’t enjoy classical, I’d still encourage you to give the finale (last track) a listen. If you need youtube, this is the best I can do (finale) - personally I find the sweaty conductor distracting (maybe listen, don’t watch) and the live audio quality is inferior, but hey it’s free. Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed, and bravo! Without further ado, turn up the music (no really), and I hope you enjoy reading! )) How exactly do you represent the sum total of the creative and aesthetic output of billions of people living over as many as ten thousand years? Maria couldn’t even be sure how to represent her own tastes, let alone attempt such an undertaking. Should she go modern? Classic? Jazz? Should it be from Earth at all? Orion courtier? Andorian acid? Edo futurist? Cardassian traditional? Some fusion? Endless choices boggled the mind. Truth be told, ever since she came out of the shared dreamscape and learned there’d be another attempt at the Bairiri, there was only one piece of music that she couldn’t get out of her mind, but she rejected it. It was too hard, too long, too old, too schmaltz, too traditional, and most of all: too ballet. She’d spent far too long investing time training in so many other forms of dance to distill herself down to that - not to mention she was still wrestling with how to feel about ballet. She’d appropriated the growing empty space in Arrow where the holodeck would eventually live for her practice the entire week. She sampled parts of as many as fifty pieces, but, try as she might, every time she put on music she found her heart going back to an ancient, mystic tale. Finally she gave in and decided to give it a chance. When she heard it again, in its fullness for the first time in a long while, she knew her heart was set: The Firebird. As she finished the dramatic red, black, and gold stage makeup and tested her pointe shoes one last time, it was a decision she now knew to be the right one. The metaphor was too alike, the music too powerful. From behind the curtains, Maria wondered if R’Ariel or Quentin had made it to see her dance. She’d put up the holocamera Regan’s sister had gifted her, just in case, but a recording wouldn’t be the same. She hoped they would understand the deep personal nature of what was about to transpire. And, perhaps, how immensely exhausting an undertaking it was. Performing the entire ballet was, of course, out of the question. The manpower and time to achieve that was simply unavailable. Had she not performed the firebird role before, it would have been impossible. While some cuts made Maria’s work easier, many removals eliminated vital rest. It turned a twelve-mile jog into an eight-mile sprint. That only compounded the dramatic changes to the choreography since its creation nearly five hundred years ago that kept the dance modern and relevant: each rendition layered in diverse new styles and moves, piling yet more taxing and technical challenges atop an already difficult ballet. So, she had to pare back in places to save strength for the climaxes. Even with the simplification, her whole body was already prepared to have its revenge on her for the hours of practice every day, just as soon as she stopped to rest. But that wasn’t going to happen yet. The sun had just dropped below the trees, setting off a colorful, smokey light show in the darkening Gentii sky. The lightest of breeze picked up in the semi-outdoor stage, tussling the red “feathers” of her short dress adorned in shimmering gold swirls. The costume hugged her body and clung to her arms and legs like any dancer’s costume should. R’Ariel’s words of encouragement to throw herself into the role replayed in her mind. Though her willowy form was certainly on display, she was now transforming into another creature entirely; becoming something born of ancient magic with powers untold. As the high-power lights flooded the stage and the holographic orchestra tuned, she felt the familiar rush of blood through her chest and cheeks and fingers. It wasn’t quite the usual performance anxiety - the Gentii had never seen anything like this, and she’d practiced tirelessly. Instead, the warmth [...]ing her nerves was a friend that focused her. She imagined the heat in her veins belonged to the firebird herself, manifesting in her body and to help her take flight. She looked across, beyond the other side of the stage was a surprise for everyone: her Gentii counterpart, Eka, who would dance the part of Prince Ivan. She proposed the idea as soon as she settled on this dance, and within the hour she was shaking the man’s hand. It was a massive gamble, but the consummate professional learned the choreography at an unbelievable pace. It forced even more simplifications, but the reward was fully embracing the purpose of the Bairiri in a way Maria enjoyed far more than she even thought she would. He looked back to her and nodded. He was ready. The orchestra fell quiet, and the hall became very still as the spell set in. Countless Gentii (and at least a few crew) waited for the start of the legend of the Firebird. As she entered the stage, Maria felt all the other thoughts and inner talk melt away. She was no longer an listless ensign or an out-of-place officer, or even Maria. She was the Firebird. --- ( Introduction, Appearance, Danse, Capture, and Supplication of the Firebird ) The lights came up, and the faintest of creeping the low strings set the scene. The holographic backdrop and set depicted an old, decrepit garden overgrown and only darkly lit by the light that filtered through to the dank forest floor covered in fungus. Smoke rose in the background. This place slowly succumbing to a rotting power no magic could not defend against. The firebird entered, stage left, and beheld the land’s steady march towards ruin. Her flight coasted from one side of the stage to the other, distraught by the steady defilement and decay of her natural home. She flew and flew, gliding through the twisting vines in search of any life that hadn’t been overtaken. The grim, plodding music offered little hope for the magical beast. The light steps and buoyant arms carried the bird back and forth, a little arabesque in a place that looked hopeful, but then up and onwards when the leaves wilted away at the slightest touch. Then - at last! The firebird spotted a cherry tree with a single blossom in a grove. The flower radiated faint holographic light in the dim light. The radiant red creature finally descended into the clearing. She cupped the precious life in her hands, thankful to have found anything remaining. She turned slowly, appearing to hover, supported only by one pointed foot, tending to the branch and tree that held the pink-white flower. She pranced with delight at finding something so beautiful still tenuously holding on to life. Suddenly, the wind turned, pushing in the smoke from far away. It flooded in like fog, suddenly gripping the tree trunk, threatening to strangle the life from it. The firebird flew into action, circling the tree now under her protection. She flapped and flapped, whirling her limbs to drive away the choking smog. As soon as she chased some out, yet more rushed in. But in the end, her sheer energy and the wind from her wings pushed the fog’s grasping fingers back, saving the tree. She danced again a while, slowly and gracefully, assuring herself the grove was now safe. Finding a forest creature, she playfully chased after it, her soft and gliding movements taking joy in the small pleasure. Finally, content with the sparse grass and leaves, the firebird finally set down to rest on a branch. Immediately disaster struck. A snare! The bird leapt into the air, frantically working to escape. The cruel chain pulled her back to the ground, her feathers collapsing. She got up and twisted the rope round and round, trying to wear out its threads. She jumped again! But it was no use. The tether would not yield - its teeth held fast. When all seemed like it would be lost, a hidden figure emerged from the woods. Prince Ivan (played by the Gentii Eka), the philosopher, ruler, and hunter, danced his way out onto the stage. He circled the entrapped mythic beast in slow steady steps, hardly believing his fortunes. The firebird, huddled in a shivering mass on the floor, looked up to him with soft pleading eyes. She held her arms close to her, then offered up her hands in supplication. She slowly rose, announced by hushed strings that wove a winding melody as delicate and subdued as her dance. She circled, dipping repeatedly to beg the prince for help. And free her he did, only to bind her to himself. The firebird hid her face, then took his hand as the strings warmed into the pas de deux. The orchestra, never quite sure of its footing, swelled and dropped back, in and out of key after key, as the prince and firebird danced through the grove - the red wings never able to spread and carry her to freedom. The prince led his prize through each step, never letting her out of reach. The dance seemed to stretch out, the pair twisting around with the woodwind’s harmony. The firebird, on toe points, was paraded around the stage for the audience to see. But the uneasy music kept any glory at bay. Every once in a while, she’d attempt to flit away, just to be restrained by the prince once again. Finally, after a long dance, the firebird knelt at the side of the cherry tree, and wept. A tear fell to the ground, and her magic filled the stage with horn and light! Suddenly a thousand glowing pink-white blossoms bloomed, breathing life and light back to the tree. The prince, shocked and realizing his error, dropped the tether. The firebird looked up, realizing she was now free. She wriggled from the dreaded leash, and took flight across the stage, a trail of twinkling magic left behind her wings. The prince chased after her, still fearful of the wrong he’d nearly committed. The firebird circled back, and took his hand, again suspended in an airy arabesque, leg arcing into the sky as she floated. They danced again, but this time he pleaded for her forgiveness in each step. His frame lifted her into the air, and she exalted in the flight. At last, the gentle duet wound back down to a whisper. The firebird, facing the prince, plucked a feather from her plumage - glowing brightly of red and gold as if holding her fire in its veins - and offered it to the prince. It was a token of forgiveness and gratitude all in one, but more than that: it was a way to summon the firebird and her magic in a time of need. She swirled about with great majesty, and the feather’s light blossomed, imbued with her powers. The prince accepted it with great reverence, hallowed music weighing his motions down. He led the firebird through a final dance in thanks of his own, then the music carried her off into the sky and off the stage. TBC... PART II (( Genti II - Grand Central Establishment, Federal District. Brynja Bairiri Hall - Main Stage )) ( Tsar Ivan and the Princesses’ Round ) Prince Ivan was alone on the stage. With the magical protection of the firebird now gone, the fog began to creep back in. He moved through the forest, seeking shelter from the oncoming nightfall, the ever thickening vines and branches closing in about him as he searched for the way out. He gracefully circled one spot, then another, and another, hoping to find escape. But it was not to be, for a dark and powerful curse animated the trees against him. There! In gaps, flashes of white shapes frollicked just out of view. Their music was light and beautiful, almost enticingly so. Ivan chased after one, then tumbled headfirst into a clearing containing old stone ruins. He sprung back up, and to his amazement several women (holographic in nature) dressed in pale white circled around on the stage, arms joined together. They danced around and around, half peasant-like, half with seductive regency. The orchestra warmed into a simple, lyric melody led by the winds and echoed by the strings. The women reached out with translucent limbs, beckoning to Ivan to follow. And follow he did. He floated towards them, drawn in by their ethereal beauty. When he caught up, the princess in lead, wearing a silver circlet, let her hands alight in his. Overjoyed, he took it and whirled her about in slow motion, unable to remove his eyes from her. He lifted her, regarding her like a precious jewel. She, in return, glided around him in dainty pointed-toe grace, leading him through the ruined stone walls. The romantic swells of the orchestra shifted through the keys, as gentle and tender as the prince’s movements. She regarded him equally - falling in love with each measured lean and step. Yet the music shifted into an uneasy, disquieted minor even as their footwork grew more intimate. The prince seemed to take no notice as the orchestra took an unexpected turn into dissonance. They danced and danced, the other women praising the pairing. The stage lights slowly narrowed and narrowed as Ivan’s steps became more and more labored. But still he went on and on to the slow lyricism, still unable to drag his gaze away from the princess. He went on until finally the light shone nowhere but him. In the background, darkness fell fully on the stone ruins. Exhausted, he slowly laid to the ground, and released his grasp on the woman who slipped into the now-everywhere dark. ( Appearance of the monsters and the Capture of Ivan by Kachtchei the Immortal ) Clangorous bells sounded with the crash of a cymbal, and blue swirling light appeared everywhere, as if through the lens of rippling water. At the edges of the castle wreckage, the petrified forms of a dozen knights standing still in stone were revealed, fortelling Ivan’s fate. The prince, realizing his peril and free of his trance, scrambled back up to find the maidens were now ghouls and goblins swarming around him. The monsters taunted the stricken man, forcing him to leap to and fro. Their giddy demon dance was pushed on by the whip of dissonant horns. Dark horns and claws and gnarled feet terrorized the audience equally, flooding up to the brink of the stage before withdrawing in a wave. An audience member shouted out, temporarily forgetting the limits of their holographic power ended at the lip. Then they were all suddenly still. A short horn intercession, and timpani silenced their cacophony. Silence rested heavily. Ominous, muted reeds twisted together in malicious harmony as a figure emerged in the dark. First seven foot tall, then eight, then nine. The hideous and powerful Immortal Kachtchei stepped forth into the diseased light, tattered rags doing little to mask his mangled form. His nails were so long they curled in on themselves. His beady eyes glowed out at the audience before casting their glare onto the Prince. Ivan scrambled up as the music turned to stark clashing harmonies. The dark magician approached him, heavily swaying on each beat. A mangled hand reached out towards the prince, and Ivan swirled away in fear. Ivan danced again, attempting to escape but the monsters blocked his path at every turn. They closed in ever tighter as the music spelled his imminent doom. Kachtchei raised his knotted staff, and prepared to cast his wicked curse. The glow under Ivan’s jacket was his last hope. He drew forth the feather, the red and gold filling the stage with its glow. He thrust it high, and the abominations cowered from its radiance! ( Return of the Firebird, Her Enchantment, and the Infernal Dance ) The feather glowed bright with the light of a sun, and the firebird appeared in the center of the stage unfurling her plumage (a special effect masking the transporter beam). Seeing the prince’s predicament, she flit over to him in a rush of music. She swirled energetically about, shielding him from the hordes of beasts taunting him. They recoiled as she chased them back, then rushed back in as she moved to the other side. Kachtchei stretched out his arms, tattered robes hanging from his bony form. He swung forward, trying to catch the firebird with his curled nails, but she was too fast. She pranced out of the way, light on her feet. She circled back, just out of reach and he swung again with a heavy step forward. Again, he missed - the firebird sprung effortlessly away, beating her feet midair in a teaseful flourishing cabriole. She led him through a chasing dance, ever just out of reach. Her plan steadily became clear as the golden-red trail of her sparkling magic began to weave a spiraling trap around the sorcerer. As her sweet enchantment grew in power over him, so too did the monsters steadily fall to her magic. The music grew and grew, causing more and more monsters to follow her steps, succumbing to her fast fluttering steps. The stage steadily turned redder and brighter as her elemental energy dominated the creature’s minds. Finally, even Kachtchei himself was bound to her dance, his hulking mass entranced. Blam! The full orchestra struck. Percussion shook the very walls of the performance hall. The sides of the stage belched flame and the spell was sealed. Horns blared and the whole ensemble ran into a dizzying fervor. The monsters fell over themselves, leaping from all fours, led on by the ever-tireless firebird. Her weightless effervescence was totally beyond them, seemingly unbound by the laws of gravity with easy flicks of the legs keeping her suspended mid-air or on toe point. Kachtchei himself fell in alongside his own cursed servants. The firebird circled him, her swirling flight forcing him to exert his own enormous size into the air with great effort. The symphony careened further out of control as the beasts pushed themselves ever harder and faster. Any time one would flag, the firebird was there, her lyric magic jig keeping them from flagging. On and on they went, possessed of no will other than to dance under her spell. The firebird’s spell crescendoed with the music - she swooped from one end of the stage to the other, until the full thunder of the orchestra joined her in powerful spin after spin, the magician and foul servants spinning with her. One by one they fell away until it was only the magician who remained standing. At last he too dropped to the floor, exhausted by the dance, unable to move. That left the firebird to finally alight next to Prince Ivan, now released from Kachtchei’s powers. Rescued and reunited, he took her hand and led her through an adagio berceuse, warm strings underpinning the gratitude and peace that came after the toil of the dance. The pair took slow, steady steps across the ruins, the prince’s hands on the firebird’s waist, supporting her as their fluid motions glossed across the stage. But there was still something else stirring. The hulking form of Kachtchei rustled with an ominous double-reed dissonance. He awoke, then snatched up the firebird, catching her by surprise! She flailed and fluttered in his grasp, trying to escape. Ivan, seeing her peril, pulled his sword and lifted it high. (A skilled eye would have caught the influence of Klingon Operatic arts here in particular.) A swift stroke, a short struggle, and the sorcerer stopped moving. The firebird flitted away, escaping his reach, but it wasn’t necessary. His body fell to the floor with a clangorous clash of cymbals and horns, sword in back. Kachtchei was no more. ( Finale ) Quiet settled, and profound calm washed throughout the auditorium, only the hushed whisper of violins speaking in unified harmony accompanied the first pale yellows of dawn. Then, something even more unexpected: a soft carpet of grass came to life at the feet of the prince and the firebird, sprouting as if in fast-forward. As the light continued to rise, the reason became clear: the magician’s cursed machinations were burning away in cleansing fire. The sun crested with the horn solo. As the curse lifted, the monsters transformed back into the women the prince had danced with. Now, instead of sickly pale, they were radiant and vital, wreathed in silver-laced white gowns. The firebird swooped over to the princess, still slumbering, and woke her with a gentle touch. She rose to the tune of the horn’s anthem, life and light spreading their foothold around her. The princess looked up to the firebird, then the prince, the first people she’d seen with her own sight in ages. The princess took the prince’s hand, and the two danced for joy, united this time of their own volition by the soft violins. As they did, the other women regained their feet. The firebird roused them, her flute joining in the reverie, her magic accelerating the crescendoing return of their epic theme. Then, even the stone encasement of the knights began to crack and fall away, their cruel entombment finally coming to an end. The strings soared with full brass as the transformation gained speed and life returned. The firebird took flight, and the knights and women paired off; the prince with the princess. She twirled about, flowers and trees of the glade returning to full leaf and blooming in the magical contrail she left behind. The plants clawed up the stone ruins as she danced and leapt for joy at life returning to the garden. Then, a true miracle came with the arrival of a new elevated key. The old stonewall face crumbled away under the weight of the new greenery. The wrecked magician’s abode dissolved away with the chest-rumbling exaltations of the full orchestra. In their place, golden red walls erupted from the ground forming the pillars and vaults of a magnificent new palace. Beginnings erupted everywhere around the firebird and the royal court, exploding out into the depths of the forest, dispelling every trace of the defeated evil. At long last, the orchestra halved their tempo and returned to the home key, giving shaking grandiose acclaim of the soon-king Ivan, and his soon-queen processing down the red-and-gold marble steps. The knights and maidens were their entourage, the firebird the symbol of their new peace and balance with nature. The firebird herself alighted, resting in the officiant’s place, tongues of flame on her feathers bearing witness to her rejuvenated power and spirit. Brass blasted their final cadential pronouncement over heroic strings, the powerful vibrations moving the air inside the audience’s chests. The firebird anointed the prince as king and regent over the reclaimed lands with fire that spread across the stage. She placed a crown on his head, then the princess’. The new monarchs turned to the audience, and the orchestra swelled to its final climax. The final cymbal crashed, and the lights blinked off. --- The story was over. By the time the lights came back on for bows, Maria was herself again, though not entirely the same Maria. She was gracious, all smiles and gratitude for the crowds; friendly to every Gentii or crew who came up to her after the show, but everything after that last note turned into a surreal blur. Like there was still a piece of her still up on that stage. Still a piece of her that was the firebird. Maybe a piece of her that was still Quentin, too. She lingered a long time into the night on the Gentii surface, even well after she’d taken the makeup off and changed into something far more comfortable. There were a great deal of “hows” and “whys” from new converts to modern ballet, all of which she answered thoughtfully. But eventually, they all left for home, exhausted from the days-long Bairiri. After the public left, she found herself saying her farewells to Eka, even giving him a tight hug he never expected. The look in his eyes as he said goodbye told her it would be a long time before he forgot this night. Maria still couldn’t rest though. With the Bairiri hall emptied out and closed for the night, she found herself meandering the quiet streets of The Grand Central District, brilliantly lit by beautiful skyscrapers. Even though she was totally depleted, she couldn’t get free of the music or the rush of the performance. She had probably danced as well as her very best before she injured herself. She wandered until she found a park with local late-night patrons indulging in the street-side carts under warm street lighting illuminating every step. A couple was making out on a bench, totally unaware of the alien not ten meters away. She strolled the path inwards until her toes were at the edge of a pond that reflected the city lights and stars back to her. She closed her eyes, and found herself to still be humming the final theme. Her arms moved through the fluid motions on their own by pure memory, her body not ready to let go of the magic. A tear finally started to dribble down her face. When she opened her eyes again, there was a woman watching at her, completely still. In the dim light, Maria saw that the Gentii was totally fascinated, even moved, by the scene. Maria just smiled. END Ensign Maria Alvarez Ops Officer, USS Arrow A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  5. Chateau Picard - as seen in Picard - is exquisite!
  6. Gave me a total 'Oof' moment when I read it. Great stuff!
  7. Maz is awards ready. No Trill spots, coz Trill didn't have spots in the 80's 😉
  8. I need to start using Sweet Baghol more! 😂 @R'Ariel @Quentin Collins III @Eerie @BenStryker
  9. Don't know how gladiatorial it is, but I've always loved the punch up between Kirk and Kruge in The Search for Spock. I... have had... enough. Of. YOUUU!
  10. Popping this in here to say a huge thanks to @Alvarez for being my writing partner for this story arc, and to say what fun it was writing and creating a friendship for our characters. Thank you! This turned out better than we planned, and I'm very proud of it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  11. DS9 for me. Christmas at Quarks. What could go wrong?
  12. A collection of sims which close out our latest mission, and I'm extremely pleased of how the endgame and climax turned out for certain characters. We do have some fantastic writing here. Super well done to new crew member @Alvarez who smashed it out of the park first time, and my personal thanks to @Quentin Collins III for writing such a marvelously diabolical Captain Eru Ghant. Her legacy will haunt us. Captain Eru Ghant - The Black Dance: Overture - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/UrJkQ4fhI5E Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Allegro - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/LXv1z0t5_uA Captain Eru Ghant - The Black Dance: Accelerando - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/TsET8zySjY4 Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Scherzo - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/qmCvNibTG18 Lt.jg Regan Wilde - The Black Dance: Crescendo - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/HMXotefay_8 Lt. Artinus Serinus - The Black Dance: Cutting In - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/zch3-ZyCwf4 Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Lento - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/5-MHxdmimXY Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance - Presto Calamitosa - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/9j92poAeu4U Captain Eru Ghant - Darkness, Her Arms Stretched Wide (Or; Offer from the Black) - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/R1HglerGDqg
  13. I loved this sim by our very own @R'Ariel. We don't often get such an in depth glimpse into the mind of our Caitian/Deltan counselor like this, and I thought this sim was lovely. For a character who often describes herself as 'ugly' and a 'mutant' because of her genetic heritage, she most certainly is not. I love the bloody bones of this character!
  14. I know, submitting my own sim, how gauche! But I was really proud of this special Halloween Below Decks piece. Happy Halloween! ((USS Arrow - Exterior, Space; The Final Frontier)) Throughout the ship there was silence; Aside from the usual humming of consoles, the gentle thrum of the warp core, and the minuscule sounds of other electrical elements that usually worked on a starship in the middle of the night. On the bridge Delta Shift sat at their posts, observing whatever they needed to observe, scanning whatever they needed to scan, push that button, realign that relay, and do the myriad of mundane tasks they needed to do to make it through the boredom of the graveyard shift. Most of the crew slept, relishing the end of their shifts and ready to slumber before attacking the new day in the morning. ((USS Arrow - Deck 4; Regan’s Quarters)) Regan was a messy sleeper. He slept heavily, as was his custom, and was found sprawled across his bed, covers and pillows haphazardly thrown around him which made him look ridiculously like a cat in a big cushion. One of his legs draped over the side of the bed, and he was dangerously close to falling out if he rolled over onto his side from the comfortable position on his stomach. The chronometer on his bedside read 11:59. Minute to midnight. The witching hour approached. The Arrow was an old ship, and had developed her own rhythms and foibles over her years of service. Like an old house that might ‘rest’ after dark when the occupants retire, Arrow sighed a light breath of relief when the crew went to bed. The carpets and deck plating relished not being trodden on at the end of the day, the doors eased into slumber without fear of being swooshed open on a moment's notice, and the turbolifts wound down from their day's use. There was silence on deck. Every clock, chronometer and computer terminal on the ship ticked over to 00:00. The clock in Regan’s quarters sounded an alarm call, like one would do for a morning wake up call. Only no one had requested one and if they did, it wouldn't be for midnight... Waking up sharply from a deep sleep, Regan checked around the room to half wake himself up, half remember where he was. He rubbed his eyes groggily and grasped the little clock from his bedside. It was still chiming in his hand, so he shook it impatiently to make it stop. It did, after it chimed for a full two minutes, after which he grumpily put it back where it was. Resting back into his bed, Regan closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep. He was in no rush to get up just yet, still plenty of time for blissful slumber. The lights turned on in his bathroom across from his bed. It didn’t bother him at first, but Regan needed total darkness to sleep. Peeking one eye open, he saw the bathroom light on and groaned. He was just about to get up to switch it off when it did so itself. Darkness again. Sighing contentedly, he snuggled down for more sleep. The light flicked on again. Oh this was getting ridiculous. First thing in the morning he was going to fill out a maintenance request and send it to engineering. There must be a faulty power relay or sensor outage. Once again the light flickered out. Regan kept a suspicious eye open to see if it would happen again, and after a few moments of inactivity he was sure the problem had solved itself, so he went back to sleep. ((00:20)) Suddenly the doors to his quarters swooshed open alarmingly, filling the rest of the room with light, then closed as if it was natural to do so without a command. The shock of bright light awoke Regan instantly. He stomped out of bed and approached the door. It didn’t move. He pressed the panel beside it, and the doors parted. Regan peeked out into the corridor. Someone was playing a prank! That had to be it. Someone was messing with the functions in his quarters as some sort of twisted prank. He knew what date it was. October 31st. All Hallows Eve. He was impressed that someone had had the guts to choose him as a target for some Halloween spooky fun. Oh, his revenge would be swift and merciless when he found out who was responsible! Suddenly the lights in the corridor of Deck 4 flickered from light to dark, eerily. Looking from left to right, there was no one else around. Only him and the flickering corridor lights. They flickered for a few moments then shut off into the blackness all at once and, reluctant to admit he was scared, Regan yelped and ran back to bed and hid. ((00:45)) The lights on his personal replicator blinked in sequence. Slowly, carefully, it turned on like it was waking from sleep itself and whirred into existence a pot of hot tea . The replicator chirped a happy little tone to indicate the user should take their requested beverage. Regan heard the sounds and poked his head out from under his pillows. Ok now this was wrong. Something was very wrong. He watched as the replicator came to life again and dissolved the teapot, replacing it with a bunch of daffodils in a crystal vase. Wide awake now, he got out of bed and crept barefoot across the room. He checked the replicator functions but was met with an angry concoction of noises and lights. With an annoyed grunt he thumped his fist against the replicator. Wilde: I’m not scared, you know! Whoever thinks this is funny, I’m not scared and I’m going back to bed! He called out to his empty quarters. Someone was behind this, he was sure. This had Keneth Nakada written all over it… Wilde: You hear me, Keneth!? I’m not scared! The flowers dissolved and the replicator went back into sleep mode. Everything seemed calm. Regan gave a tired but grateful sigh and climbed back into his bed. Suddenly the lights came on in his quarters and started flickering wildly, so too the lights in his bathroom, and the sound of the sonic shower hummed forcefully from the other room. The replicator bolted into life again and made an orchestra of angry computer sounds so odd it made Regan sit up in bed and gasp at the machine across the room. It gurgled and groaned before it wheezed and spat out a waterfall of bloodwine! With no glass or flagon to catch it, the thick, sickly beverage oozed from the replicator and over the edge, dripping down the wall panel and pooled on the carpet at the foot of his bed. Regan watched, frozen in terror as the thick liquid oozed closer to him, searching for him. It seemed to be moving, and creeping closer and closer to his bed. A brilliantly dark sea of bloodwine soaked the carpet and pooled around his bed, creeping slowly, still coming for him. His bed was surrounded on all sides by bloodwine, sloshing and bubbling around him like it being brought to the boil by some great heat beneath the floor. He cried out now in fear… ((USS Arrow - Deck 4; Regan’s Quarters)) He awoke still yelling. Sweating and panting for breath he almost tumbled off the bed in alarm until he realised the chronometer on his bedside was chiming. He had accidentally reset the alarm function somehow and it showed an alarm call for 00:00 hours. Wilde: Oh my God...it was a dream? Placing the clock back in its place he lay back and caught his breath. The replicator was in sleep mode, no signs of expectorated bloodwine. No signs of blinking lights from his bathroom or mysteriously opening doors. Grateful but still unsettled he closed his eyes to try and get some sleep. He started to chuckle at the absurdity of the dream. Ghosts and spooks in this day and age? Get a grip, Regan. Then the light in his bathroom blinked on and off. Regan yelled and grabbed his duvet covers from his bed and ran from his quarters. He ran into the corridor and banged on the closest door to his: Room 2, Maxwell Traenor’s quarters. He banged and banged with the palm of his hand and pressed the door chime repeatedly, dancing madly from foot to foot in the hope of making the door open sooner. The form of a greatly confused and sleepy Maxwell Traenor appeared in the doorway, obviously disturbed. He looked like a big grumbly bear that had been woken from his hibernation. He looked at the younger Lieutenant carrying his duvet and dressed for bed in his Starfleet issue tank top and shorts with a mix of amusement and confusion. Wilde: Maxwell! I’m so sorry but… can I sleep in here tonight!? NT/END
  15. I'm putting this trilogy of sims in because I love how they are written, and how @Artinus Serinus asked one day 'Hey, can I add a character to the Brotherhood' and developed this Andorian machine and fleshed him out like this in a matter of days. I love when sims turn out like this! True attention to detail and love of character. I'm happy to have this guy in my Cult! 😁 PART 1 (OOC: Long, and dark. Reader discretion, as well as patience, is advised.)) Cheldon ch'Doro was a bad man. Was, being the operative word, or was it? Surely even the gods could forgive him for using his skill and talent for extreme violence in defending their sacred waters. At the tub, he methodically washed the blood from his clothing, and performed the holy cleansing ritual on his heavily scarred blue form, contemplating the routes his life had taken. He'd not always been the one driving, but once he'd seized the wheel in desperation and rage he'd only driven more dangerously, taking even rougher paths, frantically holding down on the accelerator, intoxicated on power and adrenaline. The only redemption, before the real redemption, were the few smooth patches here and there. ((Flashback, 36 years ago)) ((Therinis 4)) Therinis 4 was supposed to be a paradise planet. And for a time, the small colony had been a true heaven. A temperate climate and abundant resources as well as it's location in an emerging trade node brought early prosperity to the small outpost. That was not the Therenis 4 that he had been born on. Nearly a century before, a global crisis in the form of a super volcano had ushered in a global cooling event that darkened the skies and devastated the local economy. The traders and the rest of the better off population fled in their trading skiffs and private shuttles. The rest hunkered down, some as individuals and family units, others in larger ad hoc communities based on race, religion, or ideology. Once the greater Galactic community became aware of their plight, Federation aid helped to get the colonists through the worst. Andorian families came looking to help, or for adventure, or any other numbers of reasons, attracted to the now Andorian hospitable climate. His great-grandparents had been in this wave of immigrants. People struggled through the climate crisis, and some of the Andorians grew relatively rich, farming the already fertile and now ash enriched soil outside of the main settlement of Meltown, acclimated to the weather and pocecssing This brought a class component to already growing divisions in the local society. ((Meltown, Dramarkt' district, Saint Damine of Talos Orphanage.)) The nun shivered as she opened the doors, someone had rung the front door a few hours after dusk, and she had a good idea what that meant, suspicions confirmed momentarily. A loud, high pitched siren of a scream came from a plastic box, which curiously, didn't have any blankets overhanging it. The blue tint of the baby worried the worn and weary elderly woman, until she noticed it's antennae. Stapled to the box was a note. Dear Sisters, The streets are too warm for this one. Work is hard to find, and we all all in ill health. You are this child's only hope. His name is Cheldon ch'Doro. ((End Flashback)) Cheldon wrapped his cut right triceps in the frawns of the indigenous Trusklani plant, and tied the ends together. The dried leaves, semi-porous, with natural analgesics, were well suited for bandaging. His chest, and left thigh had already been taken care of. Just more scars for the tapestry that was his skin. Cliche as it was to say, each scar told a story. Left manibubalar bone: The time two older ophans beat him for a pair of leftover rolls he had stashed from dinner at eight years old. Chest, halfway between the inner right shoulder blade, and the clavicle: Having run away from the orphanage, again, at age twelve fighting back (and winning) against the kid that tried to steal his day's beggings. The one that sliced inward over his left orbital bone, to his cheek, barely missing the eye itself: Sixteen years old, blessed by puberty to have height and muscle. Illegal knife fighting, to incapatitation, pay out 1 bar of latinum. He had won. All that, and more before he even got off of his home planet. ((Flashback)) ((19 years ago)) ((Meltown, Rosedale District, Tripene Square, Melandra's)) Seven months had passed since his eye had been cut, and five and a half since his first opponent died during a fight. He had hoarded and expertly hidden every winning since then, for this chance. Melandra's was the gathering place of the upper class man looking for a "courtesan," as they euphemistically called them. The orphan, streetrat, gladiator, killer, was dressed in the finest tailored suit in the place, and while bulky, scarred men weren't the usual type, he was more than exceeding the dress code, and could afford the cover charge, so he was let in. The interior was a delicate balance of old money classy and nuevo-rich tacky. Rich dark leather and wood furniture, and neo-neo-neo classical marble and granite architecture mingled freely with enough neon A.R. to make any establishment on Free Cloud blush. Then there were the slot machines, a city block's worth, each unique, most of them unoccupied. A tiny blond in a skimpy maid outfit, and obviously fake Vulcan ears, wandered around with a silver tray handing out complimentary cigars. As she passed by the entrance, he took one, then accepted her offer to light it off for him. Cigar lit, he thanked her, and began to wander about, himself. He passed the main public seating areas, then the grand staircase, just taking in the sights, sounds and scents. As he neared the gambling devices, he heard a woman's voice. It was strong, but undeniably sexy. Woman: Pardon me, sir? He turned back to talk to the woman. An amazonian with a deep tan and flaming red curls, and enough of a forehead ridge to denote some Klingon ancestry. She was dressed in a white Sun Dress with a red rose print, and white heels. Woman: You have been invited to visit the boss' booth. Why? Was he in trouble? Clothing aside, a young man of herculean stature did stand out amongst the retired businessmen, and out of town traders. If anything, he was built like a bodyguard. Cheldon: Did they say why? Woman: Not my job to ask questions, kid. Cheldon: I suppose I should go and see. Woman: Very well, follow me. She turned heel before he could reply, and led him to a broom closet behind the grand staircase. She shifted a bottle of bleach a certain way, and the back wall slid open to the right. Ten feet beyond the false wall was an elevator shaft. The woman pushed the button, and they waited about fifteen seconds in silence. Behind them, the false wall had closed back up. The ding that signaled the arrival of the elevator was relatively soft. The doors opened to an opulent elevator, highly buffed onyx floors, and cherrywood walls. Such elegance to be stuck hidden behind a broom closet. There were only two floor buttons, 1 and 3. This was obviously a specialized transport. The part Klingon woman pushed the 3 button and the lift began it's ascent. Another soft ding signalled their arrival. And the woman took a right turn. Five doors down, the woman led him right again to the doorless doorway with a sign that read "Private Booths." The leftmost room had a key reader on it. The woman pulled a navy blue card from a hidden pocket on her right hip and placed it flat against the reader, the lock popping open. Woman: Go on in. You're expected. Of course he was. They'd literally invited him just now. But he'd figure out soon why being expected was so important. Cheldon walked into the room. It was set up like any private booth, with one-way windows that opened on the establishment below, polished white marble floors, and the actual booth wedged in the corner so that the occupant, a portly, pale human man could see all the goings on of the first floor. As Cheldon passed the threshold, the man spoke. Man: Welcome to Melandra's. This man didn't look like a Melandra to him. Cheldon: I wasn't expecting an invitation like this. . . Man: Not every top rated knife fighter has the foresight to save their money up to visit an establishment of this quality. And I've never seen one so young figure it out. This man had seen him fight? Or maybe one of the burly women and men milling about in suits was his talent scout. Cheldon: I figured after all the hardships I deserved a nice night out. The man grinned and nodded enthusiastically. Man: Well, I'm sorry, I'm only familiar with your ring name, Victor Champ. It was a cheesy name sure, but one he strived to live up to, and generally did. Cheldon: My name is Cheldon. Man: Well, Cheldon, what if I told you that you could have nice things from now on? Cheldon: You'd have my attention. Man: One of my bodyguards has recently had an unfortunate accident. Cheldon wasn't so sure how unfortunate it was, or how accidental, but he wasn't going to let the man know that. Not when he sounded like he was going to offer him a job, not with a dozen other bodyguards around. Cheldon: I see. And you are looking for a replacement? Man: Indeed I am. You catch on quick. I like people who adapt quickly. I'd like to offer you a spot. Cheldon: I'm interested, with such a strong lead up, and all. Man: Ah yes, nice things. A week's pay is about one fight for someone your tier, but you get in-house lodging, use of the kitchen and the chef, the in-house tailor will fit you for a weeks worth of suits once per year, as well as help you pick an off duty wardrobe. Cheldon: The girls? The man snort chortled, he snortled. Man: Should have guessed. What you and the other employees do with your own time is your business, but on the clock is a big no no. And don't let your performance suffer. The ones who aren't looking for a husband tend to prefer this bunch to the rich grandpas that usually hang around here. Cheldon closed his eyes. Cheldon: This sounds a little good to be true, so far. Man: There are 10 hour work days, and 6 day work weeks, not to mention occasional off world trips. Opening his eyes again, he replied. Cheldon: That sounds a bit more realistic. When can I start? Man: Tonight. Your first shift will start at 8 A.M. tomorrow. But we can have your room and other accommodations set up immediately. Cheldon: Alright. Man: Go back out and tell the woman who escorted you in that have been hired. She will guide you from there. Cheldon: Yes sir. Cheldon left the room, met by the redhead in the hallway. Of course, it was hardly that easy. He had unwittingly signed up to guard the local New Orion Syndicate boss. Potential gang wars were always possible, and law enforcement was always poking around. More than once they had to rush the boss, Antone LeFoi, out before the police could find him. But he was given everything that he had been promised, plus more. Some of his co-workers were ex-military of various varieties, so he received quality training in weapons and tactics, as well as more comprehensive and systematic hand to hand training. It was the best his life had ever been, even if that bar was low. ((End Flashback)) PART 2 ((Theta 122, Brotherhood Camp, Baths)) As Cheldon toweled off, he continued to recall his past. Cheldon had enjoyed his time at the upscale Brothel, and for the first time in his life, things felt like they were going well. All good things must end. Another cliche, but just as true. ((Flashback: 17 years ago.)) ((Therenis 4, Meltown, Rosedale District, Tripene Square, Melandra's, Owner's Booth)) Donnie Marlino, was the underboss in charge of the local drug trade. A boorish braggart that loved to boast that he came from a long line of organised crime. He, tanned, unhealthily thin, with his thinning, and graying black hair, and goofy soul patch, was in the booth next to the boss yammering at him. Donnie: You know, my family has been in the biz since my great however many grandpa was made by the Gambino family in the 1970s. He pronounced every syllable of the decade distinctly "Nine teen sev en tees." Everyone knew that. Anthony mentioned it at least once in every conversation, stated in the exact same sentence, with the exact same odd pacing for the 1970s. A canned line if Cheldon had ever heard one. Like his ancestry could compensate for him being just the local underboss of a throw away little planet with only one real settlement. A Duke in a Kingdom of slums, feeding the diseases of the filth covered peasantry for his lord's enrichment. But what did that make him? Existential questions aside, Cheldon wanted to roll his eyes, but he dare not offend one of the boss' lackies. oO Yeah, yeah. Get a new shtick, Tony. Oo Even the bosses' face relayed his annoyance with his underling's penchant for running his mouth quicker than his brain. Finally, Anton LeFoi got tired of it. Anton: Donnie, you never stop telling that story. Get some new material. You need to think less about the glory days of the New York Italian Mafia, and more about why sales in your department are down by 7 percent this quarter! Donnie stammered, then replied. Donnie: We're doing some reshuffling. Lost lots of the old guys to cops. . . Antone: No excuses. Get the new guys up to speed. Yesterday, you son of a wh. . . Donnie Marlino had killed every man that had ever talked bad about his mother, and the fact that man doing it now was his supervisor didn't do a thing to stop the rapidly building rage. In one quick motion he reached for one of the steak knifes on the table. 3. . . Donnie leaned down and extended his right arm out, grasping the handle of the serrated knife next to his plate. Several of the bodyguards present around the room, drew their sidearms. Cheldon's was a Klingon disruptor pistol of a model that had left active service about 50 years prior. 2. . . Donnie simultaneously sat up and spun his waist inward turning his knife arm toward Antone's porcine form. Sidearms were raised and leveled on the attacker, and triggers squeezed. 1. . . With one fluid motion, the thin man managed to drag the serrated edges of the knife diagonally downward and leftward over the fat man's throat. Before his body dissolved away in a hail of fire that impacted so quickly that no-one could determine whose shot hit first. The immediate threat eliminated, the pack of bodyguards went to render first aid, and as soon as the kit was delivered from it's storage place on the back wall, they set to bandaging the cuts without applying too much pressure to the neck. One of the others called the local mob doctor, and he rushed over there, walking them through the procedure on the call as he drove over. Twas just a flesh wound. Donnie had missed the important stuff. Donnie Marlino had killed every man that had ever talked bad about his mother, except one. No-one saw what happened next coming. But had they taken the boastful little gremlin's tales of connection seriously, they might have. ((Time skip: 5 days.)) He was surely dead. This was the hell that the nuns had warned him about. It was all here. So was he, and he deserved it all. Even if he didn't deserve the things that drove him to it. The unbearable dancing flames, the smoke, the gut wrenching screams. Oh God, the screaming. ((Melandra's, Cheldon's room)) ((3:06 A.M.)) Cheldon sat up with a start, it was just a dream. Involuntary inhaling, his lungs were not filled with air at all, but smoke. Just like the dream. He rolled off of his bed onto the floor and began crawling towards his door as fire consumed his room. Breathing again, he got oxygen, as the smoke was gathering above him. oO Oh God, the screaming. Oo He made it to the door, and foolishly reached for the handle. A third degree burn on his right palm the payment for his folly. Flinching in agony and momentarily joining the cursed chorus of scresms, he withdrew the hand, and willed himself to stand, holding his breath. He walked backwards and ran forwards, shoulder slamming the door. Once, twice, three times, before the hinges buckled and he was in the hallway. He made his way back to his knees, and began to crawl again, toward the nearest secret staircase. Not risking another hand burn, he shoulder rammed the door to the stairs, until it too gave way. He stooped low as he began his descent. Halfway down the second flight, Cheldon was violently tossed forward, tumbling over, by a fallen support beam. Laying there, the last thing he remembered thinking was that now he'd be seeing that hell for real. ((End of Flashback)) Seems that crime did pay. Until it didn't. But that literal and figurative crucible hadn't been enough to straighten him out. Cheldon pulled his pants up, and buttoned the fly as he recalled in quick succession the hospital stay, the year and a half of laying low, the revenge scheme, the ensuing gang war it led up to, and the inevitable arrest. It was more of a surprise that he hadn't been arrested before. Prison. That was it's own thing. PART 3 ((Theta 122, Brotherhood Camp, Baths)) Pants buttoned and zipped, the beefy Andorian began to pull his black undershirt on. Scenes of prison filling his mind. ((Flashback 13 years)) ((Therenis 4, Cardin Island, Bilsby Correctional Facility. 50 miles from Beltown.)) Therenis 4 had never applied for Federation membership, despite the aid that had pulled the colony through it's toughest times, and the fact that most of the original and subsequent settlers were from Federation worlds. There were many reasons, remoteness, heavy amounts of unrest, the total lack of a global government. Beltown didn't even have a city government. Each district of the sprawling slumtropolis was practically it's own entity. One thing that was the common thread throughout the city was Drako Security Inc. They were a private police farce that had monopolized the law enforcement and prison industries throughout the city, and therefore the planet. Drako contracted with whoever had the most power in a district, as long as they tried to put on the face of a legitimate government. They had even helped coup districts to install more friendly leadership. Drako enforcement officers had arrested him and other former LeFoi associates after the gang war. The plan to avenge the burning of Melandra's and all the senseless deaths it had caused, including that of their former employer himself, had been targeted assassinations. The guilty parties, members of the New Orion Syndicate from other planets had almost caused a civil war within the organization sector-wide. Only a negotiated settlement from higher ups had ended the blood shed. Of the two dozen LeFoi bodyguards who had been in on the scheme, he was one of three who had sat at the peace talks alive. Funnily enough, the only Orions present were from the mother organization. That had been off planet, on a Syndicate frigate orbiting an uninhabited moon of an uninhabitable planet, a few systems over. Once they got home, and none of them had a real reason to return in the first place, Drako S.I. sprung their trap. Fifty armed, literal rent-a-cops, surrounded their shuttle and popped tear gas into the rear port as they were exiting. For good measure, each was hit with the stun setting from one of Drako's antique surplus phasers. When Cheldon came to, he was moving, yet restrained, being wheeled on an industrial dolly, by a man a foot shorter, and a hundred and fifty pounds lighter. His hands were cuffed behind him, on the back side of the dolly's middle bar. His midsection, from arm pits to hips, was wrapped in thick chains, wrapped elaborately behind the right bar, in front of the middle bar, then behind the left bar dozens of times. On his ankles were mantaciles straight out of 1400s earth binding his legs to the outer bars of the dolly. He was wheeled up a ramp, and the dolly was lowered to the ground on the elevated platform it led to. Next to it, on the ground level, and nearly level with it was a heavy duty ambulance litter. Behind that, was a full body X-Ray. This was when they stunned Cheldon again. Cheldon's next return to consciousness found him in a concrete room with a sonic shower, and a metal door on both the front and back walls. A loudspeaker in the top right corner of the front wall spoke up as he began to stir. Voice: Five minute shower, no longer. Then the back door will open, and you will step through it. Understand inmate 97561? Cheldon:'Yeah. There was no answer from the voice. The back door led to another small room, much narrower. Another metal door waited on the other side. Between them was another device that looked similar to the full body X-Ray that he had been knocked out for. The same voice, came from a different speaker, in the same general part of the current room. Voice: Step in inmate 97561. Cheldon did do, and the inner arm of the device orbited him. Voice: Step out inmate 97561 Cheldon did as we was told. They had brilliantly devised ways to keep the guards from having to interact in person. The back door of the second room opened, and he was spoke at again. Voice: Enter the next room, inmate 97561. Cheldon did, and surprise, surprise, another metal door on the back. On the left, near the front was a box that looked like one of the mailboxes people had once built into walls, but much bigger. Three feet further back, and two feet to the right of that, was a simple wooden bench. Voice: Take your uniform from the box, and put it on. Leave your civilian clothes on the bench, inmate 97561. Cheldon wanted to tell him where he could stick every article of clothing, but what good would that do? He snorted, but complied. Voice: Next room inmate 97561. The back door led to a room within a room. A simple, clear booth inside a doctor's office. There was another wooden bench to the right of the door he entered from. Voice: Take a seat inmate 97561. After several minutes, the doctor, flanked by two guards in full tactical gear, approached the booth. The shorter guard opened the door from his side, and the voice gave Cheldon the go ahead. Voice: Exit the booth, inmate 97561. After a quick sit on the biobed, and a couple dozen light scans, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health, and before Cheldon could lecture him on the Hippocratic Oath, the doctor popped him with an injector of sleep aid. Cheldon woke to the hard bunk of his new cell, curled up in a bed meant for a smaller man. ((End Flashback)) Socks, check. Shoes, check. Now as he donned his Brotherhood robe, the memories of prison kept flooding in. The first unwritten rule of prison was to find the biggest and toughest looking inmate and fight him, so no-one would mess with you. Cheldon was constantly fighting, never starting it, but consistently coming out on top. Most used weapons, the smarter new fish would sneak attack him. The really smart ones would all jump him together. But he routinely took out around three or four before they won. No matter who started it, there was a no tolerance policy for violence among inmates. And every fight led to solitary confinement. There was little reprieve. Weeks of harrowing isolation, followed by perhaps a few days of relative normality, then a short outburst of thrilling violence usually lasting less than a minute, and the cycle repeated itself. This was his life for the better part of a decade and a half. Then the riot came, and while it damned so many others, it sent him along the path of redemption. ((Flashback Five Months ago)) Cheldon was in solitary again, after seven new guys jumped him, and then spending a week in the medical block. He had knocked out three, and one of those had died in the medical block, five hours after the fight from complications related to internal bleeding. Modern medicine was beyond the budget of Drako S.I.'s corrections division. He had no idea when, where, why, or how, it started. But sometime in the early morning one day, the automatic door to his cell abruptly slid open. Over the loudspeaker a voice came on. It wasn't the voice that was usually on the speaker, but it seemed familiar. Voice: Riot, riot! The prisoners are in charge! We've had enough of these inhumane conditions. We're taking over! Well, that was a pleasant surprise so early in the day. Shielding his eyes from the burning light, he exited his dark cell and began to wander towards general population, and his normal designated cell on F block. Turning the first corner, he came upon several inmates assaulting Officer Dernis. Cheldon grunted an amused chuckle. The half-Romulan guard was a massive [...], on a power trip 24-7. Dernis was getting what he'd been deserving for the seven years he'd been working here, and probably long before that. Cheldon: If you hit him slightly softer you can make it last longer. Cheldon had heard Dernis give this very advice, word for word, to a new guard who was politely put, interrogating a prisoner a few months back. And just to get the point across, the Andorian had given the advice to his fellow prisoners in his best impersonation of the guard's voice. Walking away immediately, he called back, without turning back. Cheldon: Wait for me in Hell, Officer Dernis. We'll swap stories, share a round of the Devil's best tequila. He came across plenty of other Officers being assaulted. But none of them he had hated as much as Dernis. And the ones he could stand, well he didn't like any of them enough to stop the momentum of the moment. As he neared F Block, the new local voice talent returned. Voice: We have liberated the Armsroom! Free riot gear, and weaponry for all our brothers and sisters. First come first serve, but don't get greedy! ((End Flashback)) Cheldon straightened his robe, then pulled the hood up over his antennae. He closed his eyes and inhaled. ((Flashback after the escape)) The lake was at least five miles in any direction from the shores of the island, and less fit individuals might not have made it. But that wasn't all. There were about ten miles of open plains between the shores of the lake and any semblance of a hiding spot, en route to Meltown. A weaker man would have collapsed after the constant running. A cave in the first forest he came upon was enough shelter for the night. ((Time skip 1 month)) Cheldon had stolen a civilian shuttle he found parked outside of Meltown, and booked it for space. Not sure where to flee to, he decided to check out the flight plan of the former owner. A little world called Theta 122 where his victim was to deliver energy cells for a new solar array. Better yet, he ascertained that the people there were unfamiliar with the man, and didn't even know his name. And hey, the cells were already loaded. Cheldon hoped it was payment on delivery, but if it hadn't been, he would have made due. Anywhere but home, he thought. Now he was approaching his destination. He never knew what caused the crash in the desert, but looking back in hindsight, it could have only been the gods guiding him to his redemption. TBC Cheldon ch'Doro Lay Warrior Brotherhood of Thet
  16. Seriously, I'm worried the Captain's gonna have a heart attack by the end of this mission!
  17. Wilde: Someone said this years theme was Men in Tights! Hey, Keneth? How are my seams? Nakada: Perfect. Wilde: Ha! Every time! - Wil(de) Scarlet, Merry Man #3
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