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  1. So I was driving to work and today's date struck my mind which made me wonder what the significance of it was. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks... Three years ago yesterday is when I officially graduated from the Academy and today is when I was posted on my first ship, the USS Veritas! First, I'd like to thank @Ayiana Sevo for training me as I was just a mere green cadet learning how this amazing experience both IC and OOC within the community works. You certainly had a lot of patience with me as I look back on the emails we exchanged almost constantly. Here's the link to my last Academy sim when I graduated! Next I would like to thank @Roshanara Rahman, @Blake, @Mei'konda, @Lael Rosek, and the rest of the Veritas crew for the outstanding experience aboard the ship for my first few months writing with you all! I look back on my First sim aboard the USS Veritas every now and then to get a good laugh over how nervous I was when German just happened to be on the ship off screen when the ship had been many years in the past after dealing with Borg shenanigans. Another thanks to @Mei'konda and @Lael Rosek for helping me along with a smooth transition to the USS Astraeus as well as continuing to mentor and helping me with building my confidence to explore the opportunities given to me to eventually help and mentor others to have just as much fun as I've had with the game! And last, but certainly not least I would like to thank @Sal Taybrim, @Alora DeVeau, @Sheila Bailey, @Jalana, and the rest of the Ops and Conny crew for all the best experiences during shoreleaves and missions. Been a wild and crazy ride through the cosmos, loving everything that's happened! I'm glad to be able to write and have fun with you guys! Words can't describe how much I love this game and the people I've met along the way. @FltAdml. Wolf, you're an incredible person and leader whose gift of inspiration and passion to keep this PBEM RPG group alive for so long since 1994 is amazing! With just seeing a small amount of what goes on behind the scenes shows how much you and both councils put so much time and effort into making SB118 a great place to make long-lasting nerdy friendships. And that's just enough of my long winded speech of gratitude. Thank you all again! Live long and prosper 🖖🤓 Dane/Ensign German Galven - Science Officer/StarBase 118 Ops V239507GG0
  2. I believe that setting a scene is one of the critical parts of our media, and that making it appealing, engaging and yet with a delightful ability to open a door to another world and let us be enchanted by it is a true artistry. @Jo Marshall does a wonderful example of creative writing here, perfectly setting the scene, the mood and the tone it will have, while giving us a window into the wonders of Deluvia. I can almost feel the sea breeze. _______________________________ ((The Golden Tree, Promenade, Cochtois Lagoon, Deluvia IV)) A little further toward the centre of the promenade stood a huge golden tree. It was quite likely the tree had been there when the Selkie had settled on the planet in recent memory, as the gnarled branches and thick roots growing out of the loamy soil whispered of centuries rather than decades. Boughs and limbs stretched overhead in a canopy of gorgeous crisp leaves, fluttering beneath the radiant sun, and soaking up the salty sea breeze wafting in from the lagoon. Set up around it, several tables for standing and leaning on, and more importantly, resting a glass on, were arranged in a circle. Instead of sitting and marvelling at the view, or taking in the thriving tree, or listening to the rustle the leaves made on the quiet hum of the zephyr, guests could stand and take their requested beverage in the full knowledge when they were finished, it was time to move on. Only a few had made their escape in the brief space of time Jo had stood there. Leaning her elbows on the wooden tabletop, she looked out to the sea rolling just off the promenade, listened to the leaves and the chatter of nearby patrons, and the sounds of clinking glasses over the swell of the ocean breaking against the shore. Pensive was in her mood, while her expression bore someone trying not to be so lost in her own thoughts. Ordering another round of drinks, she looked up when someone familiar stepped into view not so far away and waved him over. Marshall: Cory, over here! Stoyer: Response A selkie server with eyes like pools of mystical shimmering water set down another two glasses of their token golden tree ale — made from the sap of the tree they stood under. Light orange and smooth in texture, they served it in a plain but tall glass. It smelled of fruit and a little like sugared cinnamon, though it was hard to describe without tasting it, and it lingered on the breath for hours afterwards. As her friend approached, Jo pushed the accompanying glass over the wooden table toward him. Marshall: It tastes nicer than it looks, trust me. Though try to take it slow. It packs a punch to the olfactory senses like no other. Stoyer: Response Marshall: With great power comes the great need to take a nap. I’ve been eying up your hammock spot for most of the morning. ::Said with steely determination in blue it would one day be hers.:: How are you doing? Skarbek hit you like a freight starship as well? ::Then paused for a second as she looked at him with a wisp of a smile on her features.:: Have you got taller or am I imagining it? Stoyer: Response -- Lt. Commander Jo Marshall First Officer USS Gorkon, NCC-82293 G239304JM0
  3. One of the best worst things that ever happened to me on SB118 is two awesome writers plotting STUFF! behind my back without me having a clue about it and making me laugh out loud with it. @Meidra Sirinand @Ikaia Wong you guys are the worst... Keep up the good work. ((Ikaia’s Quarters - Room 03-1122 - USS Veritas - 03:00 in The Shoals)) Ikaia had long since fallen asleep in his quarters. Softly snoring, he had his blankets pulled over his head leaving his bare feet exposed. His dreams, however, were interrupted by the sound of a call on his PADD. He was barely conscious as he woke up with a snort. He was still feeling groggy when he sat there for a moment questioning if he was really being called for something. It could be that someone needed him in sickbay. Maybe? His arm lazily popped out from under the pile of blankets as he fumbled blindly for his PADD. He groaned as he tried to feel for it. His hand bumped around his nightstand until he finally felt the PADD. He ended up sliding his whole hand down the screen in order to try to answer the call. What he failed to account for was that he had turned on the camera to his PADD. So anyone answering would be greeted with a pile of blankets. Ikaia allowed his arm to dangle off the side of the bed. Wong: ::Yawns:: Aloha…. This is Lieutenant Junior Grade Ikaia Wong…. How… how can I help you….? He sounded sluggish and tired. Times like these, he was a little useless without coffee. Sirin: Greetings, Lieutenant Wong. Have I disturbed you? Meidra had wandered Resolution’s corridors for the last hour, trying to come up with a suitable gift for her cousin. Alieth had been looking forward to a particular type of race where she would cobble together various bits of chaos and metal to get an engine ready to get her across a great expanse of land in as little time possible. She remembered Lt Wong had sent Alieth a certain type of chocolate that Meidra believed might be a good distraction. Because Aleith was becoming insufferable. Wong: Huh….? That wasn’t sickbay. He lifted himself up. The blanket still covered his head as he looked at the screen. Wong: Heeey. I remember you... How are you…? Sirin: I am well, thank you. Do you remember me? He remembers that face! This was one of the teal shirts he met at the Medical Officers Support Group (MOSG) meeting. Meidra’s eyebrow raised in amusement as he sat up, bleary eyed like a small child. Sirin: You’re looking well rested. It dawned on him. He had his camera on. Meaning that Lieutenant Sirin had a really good look at him right now. Ikaia sheepishly pulled the blanket off his head and tried to pull his hair back. That went about as well as it could for someone who still felt uncoordinated. His hair was still a mess. Wong: Sorry you had to see that! Meidra waved a hand dismissively at the camera. She’d seen far worse. Sirin: I’ve seen Genkos before his first coffee. You’re fine. I need a favor. Well he definitely didn't have his first cup of coffee either. That wouldn't be for a while yet! Ikaia tried rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Wong: A favour? I don't mind helping! ::yawns:: What's the….. favour? Sirin: First, I would like to thank you for getting my cousin addicted to those little balls of decadence. She’s been on a quest to find some, but her canine may have eaten the tag showing where you acquired them. I need the chocolate. Wong: Oh! Ha ha…. You're welcome! Yeah. I picked them up on Esperance. I think the store was called The Chocolate Tribble. Thankfully, they didn't actually have tribbles there. Otherwise, I don't think I could safely step inside unaccosted. Meidra had the brief memory of Tribbles attacking a certain fanciers’ event on Risa not that long ago and shuddered. She hoped that her former pet, Roc, was doing well traveling the universe with an evil shape shifting alien from another dimension. She also wondered when her life would start making sense. Sirin: ::pause:: I would hope that you didn’t get her addicted to eating Tribbles. She thinks the chocolate was extremely delicious. Wong: She does? That's fantastic! I picked out the dark chocolate cinnamon ones for her last time. They're amazing! But pretty diabolical for a Vulcan. Meidra laughed, and could see why her krei enjoyed this Klingon’s company. Alieth was getting grumpy, for those people who knew her well, and Meidra was getting tired of the random messages sent to her PADD at all hours such as, “Why do ensigns insist on breathing near me?” and “How much do I really need this job?” She sighed heavily, staring into the camera, and hopefully into his soul. She was desperate. She repeated the only thing that made sense right now. Sirin: I need the chocolate. Wong: I think I picked up two extra boxes just in case they got lost on transport. You never know with The Shoals! Anyways, I could send you the other two boxes if you'd like? The counselor’s face grew almost giddy with excitement. She leaned in and looked right into his soul with the intensity of a cousin who had reached her limit. Sirin: Send them directly to her, for the sake of my sanity. Do you have any idea how disagreeable that hobgoblin can get when she’s found a new source of addiction? The random messages, the threats of her taking the Thor into the chocolate nebula to track down cocoa? She is seriously making me want to throw a box of candy at her and run for my life! ::takes deep breath:: I apologize, Lieutenant, please send them if it is convenient. Wong: It's okay! I don't mind parting with them. Sirin: Thank you, if you could be certain to make the boxes Cheesecake proof, that would be delightful. I told her that she could get chocolate anywhere, but she insists that these particular candies have given her a greater insight into her state of being. In Alieth speak, this means she was, as the humans say, wasted. She refrained from her views on naming animals after food, and simply took a quick gulp from her ever present flask. Seriously, keeping your cousin sane and out of prison for chocolate deprivation was a full time job. Wong: But I have to ask - what's the occasion? Sirin: ::totally serious:: My not killing her. Wong: That’s a uh… good enough occasion. Sirin: ::shrugging:: She would do the same for me. Wong: Back at the Academy, I had to hide my jars of chocolate hazelnut spread if she came over to study. If I didn’t, I’d definitely have discovered them missing after she left. I think she once took one of my half eaten jars when I wasn’t paying attention. Meidra bit back a laugh, Alieth made no secret of her fondness for anything sweet. Sirin: Were you still eating from it at the time? Wong: Uh hey! How about we leave my eating habits out of this? As for Alieth….You know somehow, I don’t think that would have mattered to her. Sirin: As an infant, she once reached into a relative’s mouth for a piece of fruit and started eating it. Then realized it was not candy and spat it back at our cousin. ::fondly:: Even then, she had a bit of stubbornness to her. Wong: I can see there’s been at least some things that haven’t changed since our Academy days! Ha! But how has she been doing these days? Sirin: Pouting that she cannot race, I mean - socialize, with her friends due to work. She needs a vacation, but her shore leaves often turn out to be more chaotic than her missions. ::coughs lightly:: I mean, the ones she spends with me, but I digress. ::sits up and smiles brightly:: She is well, thank you for your inquiry. Meidra looked at her chronometer, she had a new junior counselor to meet. She sighed and looked at the Klingon again in thanks. Sirin: On behalf of my sanity, I thank you again, Lieutenant. I hope that we can one day meet in person and share more stories of my delightful Krei, and the lengths I will go through to keep her from going through withdrawal from sucrose. Lt Meidra Sirin Counseling Officer USS Resolution R239707MS0 + Lieutenant JG Ikaia Wong Physician Assistant USS Veritas V239711IW0
  4. Another good one from Reynolds. Short, but pointent, full of emotion that you just can't help but feel. ----- ((Lobby, Emerald Reef Hotel, Deluvia IV)) Caedan was sharing a drink with Genkos in the bar of the Emerald Reef, enjoying the underwater landscape the hotel offered while they reconciled past hurts. Their talk had begun with the incident at the Admiral's wedding reception, and while the Rodulan still felt some culpability for his part in the messy affair, it had relieved him to hear that Genkos didn't share that opinion. Perhaps inevitably, their conversation had turned to more recent events and the Betazoid's guilt over his part in them. It had felt a bit like looking in a mirror; one man berating himself for his part in a situation when there really was no blame to place. Caedan had said so, and they'd looked at their reflections again, with him offering Genkos a piece of relief without wiping away all of his guilt. But a casual slip of the tongue had caused Genkos to put Caedan under the microscope in a way the Rodulan wasn't familiar or comfortable with. He rarely talked about himself, especially with difficult subjects, preferring to let the spotlight linger on other people. Most people were all too happy with that arrangement, but evidently the doctor wanted to listen as much as he did talk. Nkai: In some ways it feels a bit like Skarbek. So... ::He lifted a hand, open-palmed, searching for the words to describe the experience of being Over There.:: So divorced from normal reality, it seems like a bad dream. Adea: I’m no therapist, but that’s probably a good thing. Caedan nodded. He'd thought the same thing himself; it allowed for some emotional distance, offered the ability to look back without being hit by the full force of the emotions that he'd lived through. There were still memories which brought a lump to his throat and tears to his eyes, moments of particular hardship or sorrow, but he could talk about most of it without breaking down—and that was a victory. Nkai: I like to think so. Adea: It just feels like each successive trip there makes it far worse; makes me far worse, and I’m starting to feel hugely phobic of the ship. Of my first adult home. No response came easily to Caedan's mind. It was a feeling he knew too well, the reason he hadn't gone home to Rodul in decades. A place filled with happy childhood memories that he cherished and held close... but also a place filled with some of his darkest moments and memories he tried to lock away. That was hard enough to do at the best of times, and he could only imagine what it would be like if he retrod those old stomping grounds. Adea: Rationally, I know I’ll get over it, but emotionally, you know, the brain never wins. How do you manage it? You always seem so… well put together. Nkai: Yeah? ::He scratched the back of his head and chuckled.:: Maybe that's just my advanced age working for me. Mellowed out through the sheer passage of time. He paused there, feeling as though he owed a better response than a joke and a slide away from the question. Maybe because Genkos needed one, maybe because Caedan had played a part in hurting him in the past. His smile slid away as he shook his head, his instinct to keep his past private warring with the desire to help someone in pain. Nkai: I think... ::A sigh blew past his lips.:: I think we have to make peace with the idea that there's darkness in all of us. That knowing that and accepting that is the best way to make sure it isn't the part of us in control when the situation's that bad. Adea: Response Caedan grimaced, trying to corral spiralling thoughts and the expanding crackle of thunder in his chest into something that would make sense. It was hard to keep it from carving deeper lines on his face, to prevent his muscles from bunching into a defensive hunch, and he leaned more of his weight on the bar counter as if it could offer moral as well as physical support. Nkai: You know, I think the Q put me on the Fourcade and away from the worst of it because that wasn't the way to get under my skin. I've already lived it. The Cardassians started their occupation of my homeworld when I was fifteen, and the history books say it wasn't as brutal as their conquest of Bajor, but... But brutality wasn't essential to cause suffering. Callousness and indifference could be a blade just as sharp, incising just as deep, leaving scars just the same. As he thought about it, digging up the memories he tried so hard to bury, raw emotion erupting like crude oil spilling across virgin soil, there was a slight comfort that his thoughts weren't readable. His soft underbelly wasn't completely exposed to the Betazoid. Nkai: I remember people freezing to death in the winter because the Cardassians rationed our energy supplies. People begging for scraps for their children because they rationed our food, even though we produced more than enough for everyone. I remember the—::he swallowed, a lump biting at his throat, Syana's lost smile drifting through his memories::—the protests that turned into massacres they blamed on the victims, and the people who just vanished. All this time later, it had become hard to picture Syana and Vawne's faces. His first love was nothing but wisps of memory; the scent of her hair when she was curled up in his arms, the bell-like sound of her laugh when he amused her, the feel of her breath against his cheek when she whispered something cheeky into his ear. Vawne's big brother scowl when his younger siblings interrupted whatever terribly grown-up thing he was doing, his hearty cackle when he let them win tickle wars against him, the tight grasp of a hug when he was trying to make them feel better. Gone. Centuries before their time, barely a brushstroke on the Artist's canvas. He frowned, blinking himself out of the reverie, and continued. Nkai: One of them was my big brother. They barged into our house one day and dragged him away for "questioning" and we never saw him again. It broke my parents. And to this day we don't know what happened to him, because they destroyed their records at the end of the occupation. There's now a branch of archeology that specialises in finding mass graves and identifying who's in them, and him being found in one is the only closure we can hope for. Imagine that; your one hope for closure is someone's going to call you up one day and tell you they've found your brother's body. Adea: Response Caedan nodded slowly; in response to Genkos or his own inner monologue, he wasn't sure. These were things he hadn't even told Jo or Valesha, perhaps more than a little afraid that his dearest friends would look at him differently afterwards. Nkai: What I'm trying to say in a really roundabout way is... I was young, and I was hurt, and I was angry. When my brother's friends asked me to help them fight back, I said yes. And in the next few years I did things I'm not proud of. He paused for a deep inhale, breathing it out through his nose. Those details he would not dispense. It wouldn't make him or Genkos feel any better to share the gruesome details of Caedan Nkai, bomb-making resistance fighter. The Betazoid had been in Skarbek, and he knew what lengths people could go to in the fight for freedom, especially in the face of cruelty. Nkai: So I know it doesn't feel like it, but it's a gift. To get to face up to that part of yourself without having to do things you can never take back. Adea: Response -- Lt. Commander Caedan Nkai Mission Specialist USS Gorkon simmed by Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  5. OOC - for those of us who've followed the Tale of Two @Meidra Sirins, this was a delight. And even if you haven't there's a lot here to enjoy; @Yalu also deserving of praise! (( Ship’s Library, Deck 2, USS Resolution )) Gertrude Kettleworth, MLS, had very little shushing to do, as Meidra and Dwich sat at a small corner reading table, saying nothing. They had agreed to meet and discuss their relationship, and each of them came with something they wanted to get off their chest. Now, everything was out in the open, and they remained together, hands intertwined in the center of the table, waiting for the other to say something. Finally, it was Dwich who broke the silence. Hamsan: Thank you for telling me this. The words felt empty coming out of Dwich’s mouth. “Thank you?” Meidra had shared with him a terrible secret, something he could never have guessed in a million years, and his heart broke for her. “Thank you” seemed so insufficient. An insignificant, polite formality. And yet, it was all he could think of to say. For her part, she seemed to accept it in the spirit in which it was intended, which made him feel so much better. Sirin: Thank you for being understanding about it. I felt like I was lying to you about myself, and that is not something that I wanted to continue doing. Dwich nodded. Indeed, the “two Meidras” had perplexed him over the course of their growing relationship. Now, it all made sense. Hamsan: I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for you. How lonely you must have felt carrying this secret. Sirin: I’ve spent most of my life feeling lonely, I suppose it’s been hard for me to realize that I’m not alone anymore. ::beat:: I haven’t been very fair to you, and for that I apologize. Dwich wasn’t looking for an apology, nor did he feel that Meidra had anything to apologise for. Relationships were difficult under even the most favourable of circumstances. Meidra was dealing with a very painful truth from her past, while Dwich was struggling to define his future. As Liri Ketel, one of Bajor’s lesser-known and least artful prophesiers so ineloquently wrote: “When you have one foot in yesterday, and one foot in tomorrow, you’re [...]in’ on today.” Hamsan: I guess it’s all just part of the path the Prophets have laid out for us. Meidra sipped the iced tea, feeling a bit foolish. She’d never been a particularly religious person, as Vulcans focused on the here and now instead of a future that logically, they could not see. And El Aurians, well. They only seemed to believe in themselves to the detriment of other relationships. To love someone who had such a strong sense of their place in the world was quite precious. Sirin: I think that I learn more about who I can be, every day that we are together. Hamsan: I understand. You were betrayed by the group of people in the universe you should be able to trust the most. No one, not a Vulcan, not an El-Aurian, not a Bajoran, would so easily trust after being treated that way. Sirin: Learning how to let people in hasn’t been easy. But it has been worth it in many ways. There will always be times where I am not as...open...as I wish to be with you, but it will never be because I doubt how you feel. Dwich exhaled in a not-quite-laugh, not-quite-sigh. His mixed emotions were on full display. Hamsan: ::grins:: My turn now? Sirin: ::nods:: Of course. When Dwich told Meidra that his lifelong vocation was just as strong as it always had been, he too felt as though he’d been leading a double life, the “two Dwiches,” to complement the “two Meidras.” It felt good to get it off of his chest, but it was a potential complication to a long-term relationship. People become ranjens and prylars and vedeks because they want to serve the Prophets, to put them before any and all worldly concerns. Such a commitment wasn’t ideal for making a relationship work. Hamsan: I’m sorry. I should have told you sooner. The truth is, I can’t help feeling that my pagh is still meant to walk this path. That someday, I will join the clergy like I always wanted. ::beat:: I didn’t expect to fall in love with you, though. Sirin: I didn’t expect to fall in love with anyone. But I would never hold you back from what you feel you need to do with your life. Hamsan: You’re an important part of my life now. I can’t imagine it without you. ::beat:: But that doesn’t replace or diminish what I still believe is my life’s calling. I hope you understand. Sirin: ::pauses:: How do you see your life after StarFleet? How would you even begin to know how to transition into such a life? ::pauses:: How would I? Hamsan: My four-year tour of duty is up next year. I could always sign on again, but… His voice trailed off. Starfleet had given him so much, and it seemed less than grateful to cash out after everything the organization had invested in him as a medical technician. Hamsan: I have made some inquiries. There are monasteries and temples all over the Federation now. It’s not like I would have to hide away in some forest in the middle of nowhere on Bajor. Sirin: ::squeezes his hands:: You know that I only joined because I had no one I could trust except my cousin, and she trusted StarFleet. Slowly, this crew has become my family ::smirks:: even Genkos. But even though I am grateful for their acceptance, and their companionship, I can’t imagine my life without you either. She took a deep breath and stared at him, focusing on his emotions. As an empath, she had always felt things so strongly that she’d forced herself to block emotions from everyone around her. This time, this once, she’d indulge and feel everything from someone else’s perspective. The rush of love and strength surrounded her like a blanket and she smiled brightly. Sirin: As long as you can feel as you do now about our joined path, I’ll walk it with you. However, if you ever feel that you need to walk alone, I - won’t be happy, but I will try to be happy for you. Because I do love you. Hamsan: I love you too. And still I want to share more of my life with you. The counselor considered this. What was the next step? Biting her lower lip, she acknowledged that they needed to have a conversation with someone a bit higher up then they were. Sirin: We’ll need to speak to Commander MacKenzie. TBC PNPC C2 Hamsan Dwich Emergency Medical Technician USS Resolution NCC-78145 simmed by Lieutenant Yogan Yalu Helm Officer USS Resolution NCC-78145 Justin D238804DS0 and Lt Meidra Sirin Counseling Officer USS Resolution R239707MS0
  6. It's always a pleasure to see talented writers scribing together, and this is an absolute pleasure. Well done @Etan Iljor and @Yalu; this is so much fun. I cannot wait to see where it goes! (( Shuttlecraft Rennell, Outermost Boundary of the Celendi Nebula, The Borderlands )) Awash with a hazy golden glow, the Celendi Nebula was situated at the eastern most edge of The Borderlands. An unfathomably large stellar gas cloud that had held its secrets for as long as the Federation had attempted to cross it, it was best known as a navigational hazard and a place best avoided by all but the most foolhardy explorers. Though not impossible to traverse, its composition made it extremely difficult. As he looked at the readout on his console, Etan Iljor could see why: synchrotron radiation, neutrino emissions, magnetascopic interference and large quantities of protomatter. He turned to the shuttle’s pilot- his roommate and Resolution’s helm officer, Lieutenant Yogan Yalu. Etan: Remind me why we’re here? ::he asked, his voice flecked heavily with sardonic humour.:: The corner of Yogan’s mouth turned slightly upward and he let out a brief chuckle. Their current situation reminded him of the latest chapter of The Belonging Season, his psychodrama du jour, in which the protagonists had just embarked on a locked-room style adventure of self-discovery and -expression. This simple survey mission, however, would likely pale in comparison to the pages of The Belonging Season. Taking his eyes off his console for a moment, he looked to his right, to the copilot’s seat, where his roommate and friend Etan Iljor sat, an inscrutable expression on his face. Iljor’s sense of humour never failed to bring a smile to Yogan’s. Yalu: I could read the mission briefing again. ::beat, in a theatrical narrator voice:: In a section of nebula, so weird, only two junior officers could possibly survey it. ::beat, normal voice:: With Resolution being repaired, I think we just might have been the only pilot-scientist combo hanging around the station. It had been a two day voyage from Deep Space 224 to their present location- just long enough to remind the young science officer why he did not care for the small auxiliary vessels used by their mothership. Two years earlier, he had been one of eight cadets sent out on a training expedition in such a vessel. What had started as an exciting opportunity for exploration and discovery had quickly lost it’s sheen when it had become apparent that eight cadets were not supposed to fit in such a cramped space. Two weeks and many, many frayed nerves later- Iljor had returned to the Academy campus on Betazoid with a healthy resentment for what many called ‘the Class 2 coffin’. Etan: And we couldn’t have taken the Waverider instead? Yogan nodded his shared disappointment. Waverider was far more comfortable for a two-person survey mission than this type-9 shuttlecraft–at least they would each have had their own bunk–but it was designed primarily for atmospheric rather than interstellar flight. Plus, it happened to be docked on the underbelly of Resolution’s saucer section, which meant... Yalu: It had a bit of a rough landing on that planet. It figured, given the Resolution’s last assignment had resulted in a crash landing that had damaged almost every system and compartment aboard. Of course the Waverider was being repaired. Some people, like Iljor, did not have any luck at all. Etan: Figures. ::he said, rolling his eyes for dramatic effect, before turning back to the readouts on his console.:: All that magnetascopic interference and ionising radiation is going to make our job a lot harder. Even at a considerable distance from the nebula’s outermost boundary, sensors were already struggling to identify anything inside. A confusing and contradictory stream of data filled his screen, reducing the sensor’s effectiveness by nearly 70 per cent. It occurred to Iljor at that particular moment, that there were some nebulas Starfleet were best avoiding. With all of its potential hazards to navigation and impediments to commerce, exploration, and general development in the region, it made sense to Yogan that properly charting some of the more dangerous fringes of the Celendi Nebula was a relatively high priority. It never ceased to amaze him that with all of their technology, still so much of their galaxy remained unexplored. Yalu: You’re right. The interference in this sector is 500% higher than the baseline for the rest of the nebula. Who knows, Iljor, there might even be undiscovered planets in here. ::beat, grins:: Have you completed first contact training? Etan: At the academy. ::he replied, bobbing his head:: It’s a required course for all students on the Anthropology & Archaeology track. ::best:: I must have spent a hundred hours in the simulator preparing for my exam. Maybe more. ::he turned from his console to glance at the pilot.:: What about you? Yalu: ::chuckles:: Nope. ::beat:: Well, yes and no. One of my previous hosts, Auzell, was a Starfleet officer, and she served on a couple of First Contact teams. I remember that simulator, too. Yogan, on the other hand… well, I suppose I can rely on my MED 111 course at the Academy. ::beat, off Iljor’s look:: Bedside Manner. I got an “A.” Iljor chuckled as he turned back to his console. He often forgot that the Joined Trill had entered Starfleet with the intention of practising medicine. Instead he forged himself a path as a consummate helmsman. He ran a scan of the region before them, not expecting a clear reading. The Celendi Nebula was not likely to reveal its secrets to the two men. Etan: I’m picking up a slight drag from our impulse engines. ::he cross referenced with the external sensor feed.:: The nebula density is increasing. As they neared the nebula, the density of its contents increased, blocking out the stars and casting a more muted, flaxen quality to the space ahead of the small shuttlecraft. Less awe-inspiring and more like an unpleasant soup one might order without realizing what it was made of. Yalu: I’ll take us in slowly, monitor our position, and keep an eye out for any navigational hazards while we execute the survey pattern. ::beat:: Once we’re off and running, it’s your show. Iljor smirked in reply. Etan: I hope your not expecting a gripping psychodrama, Yogan. ::he replied with no small amusement. He had seen the man’s reading material in their shared quarters.:: This will be a more sedate show. oO One that might put us to sleep. Oo ::he added mentally, preparing himself for a long assignment with little reward.:: The friendship Yogan had formed with Iljor since the two were assigned to share quarters on Resolution could best be described as easy. He enjoyed the Bajoran scientist’s company, and while they had few interests in common, they possessed a similar attitude that made cohabiting in a living space relatively unremarkable. Iljor was a contemplative sort, much more like Yogan Verso was before being Joined to Yalu. Even with all of the past lifetimes enriching and transforming his personality, Yogan was still introspective at heart, which made the two officers well-matched as roommates. Yalu: All right, starting in grid One-Alpha. ::looks over to Iljor, grins:: Survey away, my friend. Technically, as the superior officer, Yogan was in command of the survey mission, but when Iljor had first arrived on Resolution, the two men made the decision to leave their rank at the door of their shared quarters. Here, they were on duty, but their confinement to the shuttlecraft made the experience seem much more like they were hanging out at home rather than at work. Yogan was content to sit back and let the scientist do what he did best. Etan: ::he breathed in and reconfigured the console in front of him.:: Beginning scans of grid One-Alpha. Full sensor sweep. Yalu: Holding position. There is a stream of radioactive protomatter moving slowly toward us, but we’ll have moved to the next grid by the time it gets here. ::beat, sighs:: Exciting enough for you? He leaned over to get a better look at the data on Yogan’s console, his cautious nature taking hold. The information displayed was just as the Trill had said. Rendered as data on a screen, it did not look particularly threatening but if it intersected with the shuttlecraft’s position, there would not be much left of either man for Doctor Adea to identify. Etan: ::he looked at Yogan.:: I’m gripped already. ::returning his attention to his own sensor scans, he began to analyse the data that the sensors were relaying.:: I’m detecting a 0.002% increase in neutrino emissions. ::he rolled his eyes for dramatic effect.:: However will we sleep tonight? Yalu: ::chuckles, wryly:: With this firestorm of activity? I’ll be up for days. Yogan looked out the forward viewport at the slowly swirling, golden-green nebula. He was grateful to have a couple of days of uneventful, routine work to do before Resolution was ready to welcome them back aboard. There were still some twinges in his lower back and soreness in his arms from the physical work of building the home for the Romulan refugees, and sitting in the pilot’s seat of the shuttlecraft for an extended period had left him feeling a bit stiff. He’d heard about a place on Deep Space 224 where he could get a massage to work out the knots in his shoulders and neck, but after receiving a somewhat lukewarm review of the place from Meidra, he never pursued it. Etan: How did you find Oreen V? The topographical and environmental reports I read made for some pretty unpleasant reading. Iljor had not seen Yogan since he had returned from the nascent Romulan colony, even though they shared quarters. With his sleep cycle all but non-existent, Iljor had taken to working in the various science laboratories on the Resolution or wandering the gargantuan Deep Space 224. His conversations with Genkos and Aine had given him some solace that he was not as alone as he felt- but still, sleep eluded him. One such report he had come across during his nighttime endeavours made Oreen V seem like a difficult place for anybody to set up a colony, let alone a group of disaffected Romulans with limited resources. In a way, their efforts made him think of the refugee camps-turned-semi permanent settlements that had cropped up all along the Bajoran border with the Federation during the Occupation. Conditions on a plethora of worlds had been difficult to say the least, if not downright hostile to Bajoran life. But those displaced in the Diaspora were a hardy group- and they had made the best of a terrible situation. He knew that his paternal grandmother, Sobra, had spent some time in one such ‘settlement’ but she didn’t much like to talk about those years. He had tried occasionally over the years to glean some information- but it had not been until after her passing- at her memorial service- that he had learned she had worked as an healthcare assistant in the Federation administered medical centre. Yalu: The reports were accurate about the planet. The environment is hospitable, but definitely not conducive to sustainable, long-term settlement. ::beat:: I got the feeling it was given to the Romulans to settle because no one else wanted it. ::beat:: But they’ve done a remarkable job of building a community there. It’s inspiring, considering what they’ve been through in the last decade. Etan: They’ll bounce back. ::he said with certainty.:: The Romulan people are amongst the most resilient species in the quadrant. Part of my anthropological studies at the academy were centered on the Romulans. We don’t know a lot about them, believe it or, but what we do know is that they thrive in adversity. We may not always see eye-to-eye, if ever, with them- but we can respect their ability to come back swinging. Yogan held deep respect for Iljor, whose words sounded like they belonged to someone far older than his 22 years. Coming into the world on the heels of the Occupation and the devastation of the war, it would have been perfectly reasonable for someone of Iljor’s generation to become disillusioned and bitter. Instead, he seemed to maintain an inextinguishable curiosity about the universe, coupled with a healthy admiration of the accomplishments of his people. Yalu: You’re right. If Bajor can come out of the Occupation, with all of the devastation the Cardassians wrought over six decades, there’s hope for the Romulans. Etan: There’s that too. The smile that curled the corners of his mouth was tinged with pride. The Cardassians had plundered Bajor for sixty years. Plundered it for minerals, art, literature, arable land, oil and gas- amongst other things. By the time the Resistance finally succeeded in driving them off Bajor, the planet had been strip mined to within an inch of its life, most of its arable land had become poisonous, it held little natural resources and its people- once united in common cause- were on the verge of warring with one another. Iljor had been born several years after the end of the Occupation, but as a small child he had still seen the scars that it had left. He was undeniably proud of the work his people had undertaken to transform their homeworld back into a centre of diplomacy, commerce, academia and art. Etan: oO And there are still scars, even now. Oo ::he thought to himself, reminded of the accusations that Akhbett Jirall had levied across his beloved parents. He didn’t want to think about them for the time being- though it was becoming increasingly difficult not to. He forced himself to look back at the readings on the screen in front of him.:: Stellar winds in this grid are increasing. Not by much, but we still should be careful. Yogan’s attention was diverted briefly to the navigational console, and he noticed the same thing that Iljor did. His hands moved across the glossy surface and keyed in sequence of commands. Yalu: Engaging manoeuvring thrusters at one-quarter. That should keep us from getting buffeted about too much. ::beat:: Haven’t seen much of you since we left the Briar Patch. ::beat:: Or, come to think of it, since we got back from Trill. Opposite duty shifts, I guess? Iljor nodded, but looked at his console in an effort to not look at Yogan. He suddenly felt the cloud that had been hanging over him returning. Had his roommate noticed just like Aine and Genkos? Yogan had noticed that Iljor had seemed preoccupied of late, even more contemplative than usual. At first, he had chalked it up to the transformative experience they’d shared on Trill, Yogan’s zhian’tara, but Iljor’s muted disposition had continued beyond that. Etan: Uh, yeah. I guess. ::he could hear himself, he sounded non-committal:: It seemed as though Iljor wasn’t particularly eager to talk about it, and although Yogan was concerned for his roommate and friend, he didn’t intend to push the issue. After all, the two officers shared a living space and were friendly, but Yogan knew that Iljor had closer friends aboard the ship with whom he could share his troubles. Even so, whatever was on Iljor’s mind seemed to occupy him at all hours. Yalu: I’ve heard you pacing in your room at night. Etan: Hm? ::he looked up and glanced over at Yogan before looking back at his readings.:: I’m fine. ::Was it his imagination or did his own voice sound higher?:: Yogan looked down at his controls, manufacturing a break in the conversation. Perhaps there could have been a subtler way of backpedaling from the conversation than awkwardly about-facing back to work, but it was effective. Yalu: Grid One-Alpha is complete. Setting course for Grid Two-Alpha, thrusters only, 500 kph. Glad of the opportunity for the break in the conversation and feeling guilty about the fact he had lied to his roommate, he focused on the work ahead of them. Etan: Understood. Reconfiguring sensors now. Yalu: ETA at Grid Two-Alpha, 90 seconds. The craft rolled slowly toward its new destination, the only sound inside the shuttlecraft being the low hum of the engines. Yalu: I hope that whatever is bothering you, you have support to work through it. Iljor looked at Yogan from the corner of his eye. He wasn’t pushing the issue and for that he was immeasurably grateful. Etan: I do. He had yet to speak to Meidra although he had made an appointment. Knowing that Aine and Genkos were prepared to be there for him, even without knowing the specifics of the situation had made him feel a touch better. In his own way, Yogan was showing his support and Iljor was grateful. Yalu: I’m glad. ::beat:: Holding position at Grid Two-Alpha. Ready when you are. Etan: Sensors reconfigured. Beginning scans. Yogan looked through the viewport at another unremarkable swath of nebula, when something in the distance caught his attention. Yalu: ::pointing:: What is that? At first Iljor could not see what Yogan was pointing to. Given the Celendi Nebula’s reputation to could have been almost anything. Then his eyes caught it. Against the backdrop of the dusty golden gas clouds that marked the edge of the nebula, something was drifting slowly in space. The way in which tumbling gently over itself suggested to the science officer that it had been ejected some time ago from the nebula- perhaps a day or two- via the stellar currents that were found within. Iljor’s hands danced quickly over his reconfigured console, directing every available sensor at the small object. Etan: Scanning the object now. Yalu: It’s moving slowly, less than 20 kph. ::beat:: Getting a clearer picture of it on sensors. The sensor scans resolved themselves on the screen in front of Iljor. He raised an eyebrow and let out a small gasp of surprise. Etan: It’s a Federation Type-7 shuttlecraft! Yalu: ::squinting:: What’s it doing out here? The rounded hull of the shuttlecraft tumbled through space, emerging through the nebular haze and becoming easier to make out. Yogan’s question was purely rhetorical, as the small vessel was clearly adrift, its journey at the mercy of the currents whipping and whirling through the nebula. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t good. Etan: I’m running it’s registry through the Starfleet database now. ::he said, his hands at work once again.:: According to the this, this shuttle belongs to the starship Ibn Battuta. ::he turned to Yogan again.:: Does that sound familiar to you? Yalu: ::copies Iljor’s data onto his own console:: Doesn’t ring a bell. ::beat:: It says here that Ibn Battuta patrolled a section of the Klingon border near the Celendi Nebula in the late 2360s. Etan: So it’s been out here for thirty years? I’m going to run a search on the Ibn Battuta and see what I can find. Yalu: The hull is intact. I’m going to move us in closer and tractor it out. ::beat:: Our survey can allow a brief detour to investigate. Yogan piloted their shuttle deeper into the nebula, which was more difficult than he anticipated due to the unusually dense matter surrounding them. A few minutes later, they were parked back in their original position near Grid Two-Alpha, with a derelict shuttlecraft staring back at them a few dozen metres off their bow. Etan: Should we go over? The idea caused a strange mixture of intrigue and apprehension within the science officer. Abandoned and adrift shuttlecraft certainly held secrets, but whether anybody should uncover them was debatable. Yalu: Good question. ::beat:: Is it safe to beam over? Iljor ran a quick scan before replying. Etan: Sensors are showing that the shuttle is operating on a reduced power mode. There’s a breathable atmosphere over there, but we can remote trigger it’s power systems to bring it up to full operating capabilities. Yalu: ::shrugs:: Might give us a sharper clue into this region of the nebula. After all, this craft has been lost for 30 years. Iljor’s console bleeped at him. His search on the USS Ibn Battuta had brought up some interesting information and he scanned through the documents that the computer had selected for his attention. Etan: The Ibn Battuta reported a missing shuttlecraft on Stardate 48401.32 that had been sent on a survey mission. The ship itself tried for a week to find it but two officers were reported missing in action, presumed dead. ::the realisation that meant for the two men hit him like a stellar wind.:: Oh Prophets, you don’t think…? His eyes fell across the old shuttle full of trepidation, imagining the state that it’s occupation would be in after three decades. Sensors had not registered any life signs, after all… Yogan bit his lip at this particularly grim development. The historical parallel wasn’t lost on him, either. Two officers, sent off in a shuttlecraft to survey the Celendi Nebula. What was that old cliché he heard during his school days? Something about learning from history or being doomed to repeat it? Yalu: We’d better prepare ourselves, mentally, for what we might find over there. Reluctantly, Iljor got to his feet and equipped himself for their impromptu away mission: a tricorder and a phaser. He was relieved that the Rennell did not carry Visual Recording Devices as standard. There were some things best left undocumented, if what he thought was waiting for them came to pass. Etan: I’m ready. ::he said, the reluctance he felt seeping into the tone of his voice.:: Yogan locked down their small shuttlecraft, the 24th-century equivalent of dropping anchor or yanking the emergency brake. Confident that Rennell would be waiting for them when they were ready to return, he stood and grabbed the same bits of kit as Iljor. After keying in a site-to-site transport and setting the time delay, he rose from his seat and joined his fellow officer at the back of the cabin. Yalu: Let’s go. Holding his tricorder in one hand and his phaser in t’other, Yogan breathed deeply in half-anticipation/half-dread as the transporter beam enveloped the two men, sending them into the unknown. (( Derelict shuttlecraft )) The first thing Yogan noticed upon beaming in was the smell. Stale air made the small space feel even stuffier than usual, and the cold temperature immediately made him feel clammy. There was clearly no threat lurking behind seats or under consoles, so Yogan holstered his phaser and switched the tricorder to his dominant hand. Yalu: No signs of electrical damage. Nothing to indicate a catastrophic systems failure. ::beat:: With a quick power transfer, this craft would be flight ready. Iljor took a second to reorientate himself and get used to the staler air of the derelict vessel. He unclipped his tricorder, opened it and began scanning just as Yogan had done moments earlier. He felt an odd sense of unsettlement, as though things were not supposed to be the way they were. There wasn’t much space to wander around, which made the initial search of the craft relatively brief in duration. After turning 360 degrees multiple times, Yogan realised that the unpleasantness he had prepared himself for. Etan: Where are the corpses of the missing officers? ::he said, bewildered and looking to Yogan for guidance.:: Yalu: I don’t know. ::beat:: I’m half expecting one of them to drop out of the ceiling. ::adjusts tricorder settings:: I’m scanning for residual humanoid tissues now. If they’re here, or were, we’ll find out. Yogan slowly scanned the interior of the spacecraft, sweeping the tricorder across each surface. The readout didn’t change at all, and Yogan furrowed his brow in confusion. Yalu: I’m not picking anything up. No signs of decomposition, either. Those two missing officers weren’t in here. Or at the very least, they didn’t die in here. This is anticlimactic. ::beat:: I mean, I wasn’t hoping to find dead bodies in here, but… ::voice trails off:: At least we can recover the logs and tow the ship back to starbase. Etan: Good idea. ::he nodded in approval.:: I’ll get started on the logs. Yalu: ::returning the nod:: Aye. I’ll get the navigational computer online and establish a link with Rennell. If I can pilot her remotely, it’ll be a lot easier. Iljor took the copilots chair, which was a lot less comfortable than the one he had been occupying in the Rannell. He reached forward and tapped the old style console. A sharp negative beep met his touch and he blinked in surprise. Etan: That’s odd. This console won’t respond. ::he ran his tricorder across the console.:: The power systems don’t seem to be unaffected by whatever happened to the shuttle. But I can’t access the navigational logs. Yalu: Hmm. ::stands behind Iljor at the copilot’s seat:: Mind if I take a look? Realising that Yogan was more qualified than he was, especially when it came to shuttle operations he vacated the seat promptly and waved towards it. Etan: Be my guest. With a slight smile, Yogan took the seat. After a cursory inspection of the console, he didn’t get much further than Iljor did, but his tricorder diagnostic spat out a string of text that made Yogan raise an eyebrow. Iljor was right; it wasn’t a power problem. It was something far more mysterious. Yalu: We can’t access the navigational logs because they’ve been encrypted. Access restricted on Stardate 48401.32. ::beat:: That was the same date that Ibn Battuta reported this shuttlecraft missing. Why would someone have done that? The science officer considered the question before responding. Etan: Some kind of classified mission? ::he shrugged uncertainly:: But that still doesn’t explain where the occupants went? ::he ran another sweep with his tricorder, this focusing on biological material.:: I’m not even picking up any kind of biological trace matter. It’s like the shuttle was launched with nobody in it. Yogan’s brow was getting plenty of practice being furrowed. If he wasn’t careful, this seemingly simple-on-the-surface survey mission might develop a permanent crease in his forehead. The Trill intentionally relaxed his expression as he considered what to do next. Yalu: Ibn Battuta reported this craft missing with two officers aboard. Let’s try to figure out who they are. ::beat:: I have an idea. ::taps combadge:: Computer, do you have a record of the crew roster of the USS Ibn Battuta on Stardate 48401.32? Computer: Affirmative. Yalu: And a record of the same roster for, say, two weeks after that date? Computer: Affirmative. Yalu: Compare the two and report any changes. Computer: Working. ::beat:: Two differences between specified rosters identified. Yalu: Who are they? Computer: First Officer Lieutenant Commander Anxo Oliveria and Shuttle Pilot Lieutenant Junior Grade Parker Costanzo. Despite being mindful of the expression he wore on his face, Yogan couldn’t help raise an eyebrow at this bit of news. People go missing on missions from time to time, but for a senior officer to vanish without a trace added yet another wrinkle to this mystery. He thought about Addison MacKenzie, Resolution’s second-in-command, and had a hard time believing the crew would accept her just disappearing into thin air. Etan: The First Officer went missing?! ::he said, surprised.:: I guess that explains why Ibn Battuta spent a week looking for this shuttle. ::beat:: But according to our scans, they were never aboard. And a First Officer going missing in action would be pretty big news, right? So why have we never heard about Commander Oliveria? Things did not add up and coming so soon after their sojourn to the Briar Patch, Iljor was in no mood for more unanswered questions. Yogan looked back down at his tricorder’s display, as if to confirm that the data was correct. Both he and Iljor had run the same scans, and got the same results. With encrypted navigational logs, they couldn’t tell where the craft had been, but the condition of the [...]pit was clear: it had been launched with no one aboard. Yalu: We’ve got limited resources to get the answers we want out here. But I’m just as curious as you are, Iljor. We’ve got to find out what happened to Oliveria and Costanzo. Etan: ::he nodded his agreement.:: Maybe we should take this shuttle back to the Resolution? We’ll be better equipped to investigate there. Yogan nodded. The scientist was right. Perhaps Resolution, with her greater computing capacity, access to Starfleet records, and insolent-yet-efficient staff librarian, would be a more suitable base for launching an inquiry of this type. Yalu: Who’d have thought when we flew out here for a survey mission that we’d have uncovered something like this? ::settles back into the pilot seat:: Should be no problem piloting the craft remotely from Rennel, but it’s a two-day trip back to DS224. Iljor, I want to find out everything we can before we deliver this shuttle back over to Starfleet. Something feels wrong about this, and I don’t know about you, but I want to figure it out. Etan: I agree. ::beat:: We’ve already got too many mysteries left over from the Skarn Homeworld. I’m a scientist- and the idea of something going unsolved make my skin crawl. Their brief visit to the derelict craft had been a roller coaster. Yogan beamed over expecting to find the final resting place of two officers, left to the misfortune and abyss of deep space. Instead, they found an inexplicable situation and two officers whose disappearances remained a mystery. Yogan was pleased that his roommate and friend was as eager as he was to investigate. If nothing else, it might give them something to work on together after work, and be a welcome distraction to whatever had been troubling Iljor recently. Yalu: All right. The crafts’ navigation systems are linked. Let’s beam back and see if we can crack the encryption on those logs. TBC! Lieutenant Yogan Yalu Helm Officer USS Resolution NCC-78145 Justin D238804DS0 Lieutenant JG Etan Iljor Science Officer USS Resolution C239203TW0
  7. OOC: I just love the way Jamie infuses Wyn's personality in the posts she writes with him. ((Ballroom C-10, Starbase 118)) Wyn Foster might be a little paranoid. At one point an antagonistic friend by the name of Sinda Essen had called him out, saying that he was packing drugs to stave off his own personal demons and he had hotly tossed back to her that no, in fact he did not self-medicate because he had already seen what sort of horrible destruction that could wreak. And in a quip of sarcasm she had called him paranoid. He had returned that yes, damn right it was paranoia such hard, fast and scathingly raw tone that it had stunned her to silence. No matter where, something could happen, someone would get hurt. His preparation never hurt anyone. His paranoia… well, jury was out on that. But he stuck to his preparation. Foster: In my boot. ::He pulled a perfectly fitted wallet-fold custom medkit from his polished boot.:: I always have at least one medkit on my person at all times. Though speaking of self-medicating, this was the … third… time he had seen ill effects connected to alcohol consumption and Ashley Yael. Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. Three times? That outlined the horrifying possibility of a habit. Blackwell:::She gave a soft smile:: It’s one of the many reasons why I love having Wyn around. Yael: ::more to Wyn, sheepishly:: Sorry to make you work at a party. Foster Hey, it’s what I live to do. He tried to make it sound lighthearted. Tried. He was fighting the bitter taste of bile in the back of his throat. His father had been an alcoholic. Was an alcoholic. Is an alcoholic, despite being sober for nearly thirty years. It was terrifying, dark, destructive and hard to break. A tiny voice was starting to plead in the back of Wyn’s head to ignore this. To wedge himself into a state of comfortable denial. A much louder voice was ringing warning bells. Wyn, remember the last few times you had warning bells? What happened? Terrible things happened. With every iteration he acted faster and with more vehemence. And every time he somehow failed harder, watching people die in body and spirit. Blackwell::With a quick wink to the Andorian, her gaze turned towards the crowd:: Quite the guest list ::with a sip of her water:: He offered a smile to Rue, trying to tamp down the rising wave of fear that rose in his chest. What if the warning bells were right? What if he messed it up again? What if he lost his new crush… and his longest, dearest friend? Did he have to be at this party? Could he run away and hide, railing at imagined fears by sobbing in a dark cold room? No? Curse those heavy, horrible pips. Yael: It doesn’t seem there’s any cultural specifics or theme to the party, which makes me think the items may be a collaboration of very different items. He offered a pinched smile and a nod. Foster I think ‘eclectic’ is the word you are looking for. ::he filled the hypospray and sidled over towards Ashley.:: Anything in particular you’re interested in spectating? And as soon as Rue started talking he used the change in attention to administer his special hangover cure – a patented blend of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and analgesics, guaranteed to make the day instantly brighter. And he was quick, too. Even Mr. ‘I hate being touched’ barely had enough time to react before it was over and done. Wyn indulged in a tiny smirk. He liked being good at his job, up to and including his ninja skills. Blackwell: Oh I am looking forward to the displays. I have all intentions to get a look as many things as I can while we diplomatically mingle. Foster Oh diplomatic mingling, that sounds great. He said in a tone that clearly said it sounded about as great as dumping a metric ton of tribbles into a Klingon mosh pit. Blackwell: Give good impressions, come off as personable, or at least interesting, and don’t make a scene - I think it should be manageable ::She grinned faintly:: I’ll even hold off on waxing poetic about any strange things I find. Yael: What if we prefer that you wax poetic? You might impress the scientists with your knowledge. Foster It is definitely preferable to diplomatic mingling. And he meant that. He would take nerding out on an obscure topic over meaningless mingling while trying to smile, bow and scrape in all the right ways any day. Leave the diplomacy to the diplomats and empaths who got a kick out of it. Blackwell::She shrugged faintly:: I heard a few rumors of what could be here. Treasures and curiosities from all over. ::She looked at the two and gave a brightened smile.:: What about you two? Anything you want to see? Yael: I’m hoping they have something from Iconia. Might be a long shot though. Foster: Dinner? He offered with dead honesty and a little shrug. Antiques were never his thing. When he was a kid he was on a starship and interested in every new thing they found out in space. And then in Pepperell, he had to admit he wasn’t very interested in stories about old stuff because it was always stories about old Human stuff. And he could never really get invested in it. He was, at one point curious about old Andorian stuff, but quickly found that he didn’t have enough cultural foundation in his genetic culture to understand most of it. Add in the fact that his father explained to him that he had hybrid biology just before he entered Starfleet Academy – as to ensure that his Academy entrance physical would not be his first time learning this – made him even less interested in his home cultures. He simply didn’t want to know in large part for fear of rejection. So, no… antiquities never really captured his imagination like they did for others. Yael: If they don’t have anything interesting, I’m sure we could sneak away to a relevant convention somewhere. They wouldn’t be as spectacular as all *this*... ::he glanced around them:: … but the Station is always hosting something new and interesting. Foster: Like Klingon mud wrestling. Was that a joke or an honest suggestion? Hard to tell with Wyn. Blackwell: ? Yael: We should keep our eyes on the arrival manifests as well. You never know when someone fascinating is going to show up. Foster: you expecting anyone? Paranoia welled up in him again. Should he be aware of something? Did he miss something? Blackwell: ? For a moment Ashley Yael’s eyes floated towards an overdressed Bolian dripping in ‘notice me!’ accents. Who seems exactly like the type of person Wyn would like to avoid, without knowing anything about him. Yael: Careful with that one. ::he nodded his head at the Bolian man, then looked at Rue:: Hard to forget him. Blackwell: ? Foster: Who is he? Yael: A journalist… if you can call him that. Jafarr Symote. He’s got a team of minions and a gossip show that airs all over the Station. And if he doesn’t have any juicy material, he’ll make it up and edit it in. That made the little doctor bristle, visible. He liked nothing about that. Nothing at all. Foster: So noted. I will summarily avoid him like the plague. Blackwell: ? Yael: I suppose he’s *relatively* harmless… just don’t let him corner you in a corridor. Yeah, cornering Wyn Foster in a corridor would probably end badly for the both of them. The little doctor didn’t take well to threats and had enough untreated PTSD from past trauma on Starfleet duty that he would likely take any attempt at cornering as an attempt at violence. And with a less than scrupulous reporter? That would be a nightmare. Blackwell: ? Galven: Usually things that are considered relatively harmless are pretty irrelevant, but I'm not going to keep anyone's "time." ::He raised both hands, moving his index and middle fingers in air quotes:: He jerked his head to one side and raised both antennae and snowy brows in unison. Foster: How the hell did you sneak up here? But at least German Galven was a known quantity. Not a skeevy reporter. Still, he got the drop on them and that bugged Wyn. He really needed to get his antennae checked. Yael/Blackwell: ? Galven: I actually cornered a few reporters a few weeks ago as a matter of fact. Foster: Cornered? ::he watched with muted shock.:: I hope you didn’t hit any. Actually he kinda hoped Galven did. Reporters deserved it. Yael/Blackwell: ? Galven: ::smirks:: Apparently they didn't want to hear about anything and everything. ::shrugs:: So have any of you been to a gala like this before? Yael/Blackwell: ? Foster: Nope. Medical conferences tend to be more dry and boring. Less merchants and pageantry. You just knew that if this convention was only scientists and archaeologists that this gala would be a lot more quickly and a lot less fancy. Yael/Blackwell/Galven: ? Foster: Really I’m just here to smile, not cause a scene and eat. And because I was told to be here. And that, in a nutshell, was how the little surgeon approached fancy dinners. But hey, he’d take fancy food. That was a nice perk. Yael/Blackwell/Galven: ? A chime rang and the lights shifted, indicating they should move to a table. Foster: Oh, looks like things are getting started. ::He pointed to the stage:: A six course dinner with entertainment? White the shindig. Yael/Blackwell/Galven: ? Foster: I expect it’s entertainment of the archaeological variety. He started strolling around the tables, reading the nameplates. Yael/Blackwell/Galven: ? Foster: Aww, that’s cute, they have little department color stripes to identify our names. Handy. Whoever planned this party had an attention to detail – and that he could appreciate. Yael/Blackwell/Galven: ? ~*~ tags/tbc ~*~ Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster Chief Surgeon StarBase 118 Ops
  8. Earnest, sad, and most of all a really compelling read. @Randal Shayne writes so strong usually, but this trio knocked it out of the park for me. Almost makes me feel bad about Maria being such a thorn in his side. Almost. Part 1: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/TkDoayUI-08 Part 2: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/eEbkaY0Rg6k Part 3: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/4qsGAL3K9T4
  9. @Hallia Yellir combines scientific curiosity with overactive imagination and unquenchable optimism. It makes her a joy to read, and reminds all of us that there's more than enough room in Starfleet for FUN. ((Security Control, Deck 3, USS Resolution)) Yellir: Oh! Perfect! I need… ::checking her PADD:: two type one phase— wait, make that three, three type two phasers and fi…— no, six! power cells. I need them for an experiment. Aine's eyes went wide. oO That's quite a requisition for a science experiment. Oo Aine wondered what kind of experiment it was, and with scientists the way they were, who really knew? Sometimes it was better not to ask. Luckily, part of their resupply was included phasers because of the worry the effect the Skarn homeworld may have had on them...and one was missing. And being still docked, they could always get more. Hallia tilted her head slightly. A little alarmed by Aine’s reaction, she looked down, wondering if she’d said something wrong. The security officer seemed a little caught off guard by the request. But then again, not many science officers request directed energy weapons for an experiment. Part of her felt a little bad, but then again, it was either this or try and make one out of lab equipment. Which probably wouldn’t go well, as Hallia was all thumbs when it came to engineering. Perhaps actually learning more about the subject might benefit her. Sherlock: Um, yeah, that should be no problem. :: gesturing towards the weapons locker :: Standing, Aine made her way across the room. Pressing her finger onto an access panel, the door to the weapons locker slid open with a quiet hiss. Hallia grabbed the phasers one by one, and held them in her free hand. Sherlock: So, what kind of experiment is this? Yellir: ::smiling, Hallia mumbled quietly, almost unable to contain her voice to such a volume:: I made a chunk of what I call synthflesh. Sherlock: A what? Yellir: ::Nearly yelling:: Fake skin! ::covering her mouth and quieting herself:: Well… not exactly. It’s a layer of… skin really. It’s not real in the sense that it’s a part of someone’s body. However! I replicated it from leftover protein samples I found. Sherlock: What's it used for? Yellir: Oh, I’m SO glad you asked. It’s a regenerative layer of skin that can be easily grafted onto a patient. It skips the proliferative phase of the humanoid body’s natural healing ability. Ensuring that, potentially, in a matter of seconds and or minutes, depending on wound severity, it can knit back ripped open flesh and allow the immune system to focus solely on clearing out bacteria. It’s a little redundant, given we have dermal regenerators and whatnot, but I thought it could be fun. Maybe useful in the rare case someone is intolerant to the devices or something. As Aine grabbed for powercells, Hallia rambled on and on, explaining her process behind the idea as well as the parts she found most interesting in her mind. The Yelikan nodded, thinking of the security officer as such an amazing listener. Sherlock: That's fascinating. :: handing the power cells to Hallia :: So :: beat :: what do you need the phaser for? Yellir: Well, you see, in non-scientific terms, I’m going to shoot it and see what happens. I want to see if it offers any resistance to directed energy weapons. Hallia’s arms carried the lump of items. Using her chin to steady the pile, she continued talking. Sherlock: Response? Yellir: I mean, my hypothesis is that anything above stun is probably going to absolutely smoulder it. But, you never know! Maybe it’s somehow resistant to particle weaponry? ::jokingly:: We could outfit the ship with ablative skin in that case. Sherlock: Response? TAG/TBC ______________________ Lieutenant JG Hallia Yellir Science Officer USS Resolution G239409EK0
  10. I'm honored that I was able to participate in such a special moment for my CO, @Tony, aka Kells, and that I could help be part of what made it special for him! To all our guests you have our sincerest thanks for participating! =========================================================== (( Main Arboretum, Deck 5, USS Thor )) In his dress whites for the first time in a long while, Geoff felt an odd bit of nervousness creeping in around the edges of his fairly manic last minute planning. The guests were due to arrive at any moment and represented friends, mentors, colleagues and some of the upper echelons of modern Starfleet. It would be the largest single function the Thor had hosted and, thankfully, it wasn’t even Teller’s court martial. Fleet Captain Aron Kells, his CO and friend, was about to step into the truly rarefied air of the Starfleet and all these fine people were arriving to celebrate and witness the moment. Teller: Commodore Kells...rolls off the tongue. Very nautical. I like it. Talik: Sir, are you talking to me? A nearby petty officer was arranging trays of food on a nearby table, designed to mix in with the ambient foliage and rolling green grasses of their small slice of nature. Geoff realized as he listened to the rushing of the nearby waterfall that he hadn’t spent nearly as much time in this room as he should’ve over the last year. It was a profoundly soothing space, most especially here under the wide boughs and thick leaves of the central tree. The air handling systems had been designed to emulate a planetary weather pattern and Geoff found the occasional hint of breeze rippling in the treetop tremendously calming. Talik:....sir? Geoff took a deep breath, smiled, and put aside his small reverie. Teller: I wasn’t, Mr. Talik, but your opinion is welcome, and speak freely. Think the Fleet Captain’s new title suits him? The petty officer placed the tray down and considered his response for a moment before speaking. Talik: Well, honestly...sir...it’s a little...embarrassing to say but… Geoff's eyes crinkled into a confused squint. Talik:...well it’s just...Co’mo’dr is the archfiend of the afterlife on Denobula...I grew up there and I guess the name...stuck in my head. Geoff snorted, rolling the unfamiliar pronunciation around, entirely amused. Teller: I’ll make sure to pass that along to Starfleet Command. Can’t have the higher ups getting called devils behind their backs. ::Geoff lowered his voice to a conspiratorial whisper:: Not when they don’t deserve it, anyway. Geoff winked to the young crewman and relaxed a hair as the large double doors to the arboretum opened. Their first guests were arriving. Teller: Various sirs, ma’ams, honored non-specifics ::Teller was babbling. Apparently that ninth cup of coffee had been one too many.:: Welcome everyone, welcome. Please, make yourselves comfortable while the rest of our guests arrive. We’ll be getting started in just a few minutes. The Constitution was on shore leave; fairly extended shore leave due to the slight issue of not being entirely in one piece, the most notable issue being the missing warp nacelle. Which meant that, after a trip to Vulcan, to detour via Cardassian space on the way back to the Marchlands in the galactic south. Saveron had never really anticipated stepping foot on the Thor, but this was the second time within a relatively short space of time. Dressed in the robe variant of Starfleet dress whites, the Vulcan Commander paused to regard the expansive greenery afforded by the Arboretum, before his grey gaze fell on one of the few familiar faces. Approaching, he raised one hand in the ta’al, the traditional splay-fingered Vulcan greeting. Saveron: Commander Teller. It is agreeable to be in your presence again, and observe that you appear to be well. Given that the last - and first - time they’d met was so that Saveron could help extract the katric remains of Alieth’s long-dead lover from Geoff’s brain before he went completely mad, the fact that the Thor’s FO appeared to be suitably functional was eminently acceptable. Teller: Commander Saveron! I’m glad you were able to make the trip again, I never really got to thank you for the whole ::Geoff artistically pantomimed removing a ghost from one's head via the ear:: well, anyway...I owe you one. Geoff extended his hand in the ta’al but his smirk was far from stoic. Teller: That’s a Good Job Guarantee. Buried somewhere in his uniform jacket Geoff’s padd chirped with an incoming message. With a smile and a wave, Geoff watched Commander Saveron join the rest of the party as he dug out the padd and discovered a message for their guest of honor. // To: Commodore Aron Kells, Commanding Officer, USS Thor NCC-82607 From: Lieutenant Commander Chythar Skyfire, Medical Officer, USS Chin'toka NCC-97187 Subject: Congratulations & Invitation Hey, Kells. It's good to see you excelling in the fleet and I wish I'd be able to present a kilo of our Chin'toka-branded Nip of Winter in person, but with all of the planning for my wedding going on I am not exactly Mr. Free Time. I have arranged for said kilo of coffee to be delivered to you. By the by, if you aren't doing anything in October, I was wondering if you'd be interested in popping over to the Chin'toka for my wedding to Lael. I so rarely do social things in the public's eye, but here's a recording for you to enjoy of the proposal. And man, let me tell you keeping her in the dark that long was hard. Miss you, buddy. Fair winds. Fair winds and following seas, commodore. Regards, CD // Geoff smiled as he pocketed the padd, glad his first CMO was happy and well aboard the Chin’toka. He’d make sure the soon to be minted Commodore saw the message after the ceremony. Compared to normal space the Shoals was like mashed potatoes compared to - well, normal space. Thick and gluggy, and hard to navigate through. When Lieutenant Commander Wil Ukinix of the USS Veritas had received an invite to the celebration of Fleet Captain Kell’s promotion to Commodore, he couldn’t resist. So he’d made his way to the Thor despite knowing how slow the initial journey from the Shoals would be. Kells had been marooned on a tropical moon along with Wil and the rest of the Veritas crew, and Wil had personally escorted his ex-crewmate, good mate and continental neighbour Nic del Vedova back to Fleet Captain Kells so that they could be re-united. But there was another good mate that he had to see personally first. And, thankfully, that person hadn’t seen him yet... And once that person was lined up (and in keeping with what was becoming tradition), Wil ran at full speed in a straight line, and then crash tackled Geoffrey Teller to the ground. Geoff had made the small tactical error of turning his back to the door, concentrating instead on a plate of surprisingly delicious confections from some planet he’d never heard of. His moment of distraction and gluttony was all that his best friend needed to stealthily approach and tackle him to the ground. Geoff didn’t even bother looking up before speaking. Teller: ::wheezing:: G’day knackers! Ukinix: CHIEF! Teller: I thought I told our Marines to keep this crowd respectable. Panting, Wil stood up and offered his hand to Teller to help him up. Geoff smiled warmly as he was dragged to his feet and into a firm embrace. As soon as the Thor’s FO was on his feet, he wrapped his arms around Teller’s shoulders. Ukinix: How’s it going, ya’ bugger! It’s good to see you. Teller: Good to see you too, Chief. Or do you prefer your majesty these days? Wil Ukinix, Second Nephew of the 47th house, heir to the ancient creaky chair of Ithric? Not totally surprised by Geoff's teasing of Wil's potential pending Betazoid nobility, the Human/Betazoid hybrid gave Geoffrey a gentle but effective smack on the back of the little man's head, before looking around the room. Ukinix: ::Cheeky smile:: Is Kell’s Del around? Geoff looked around the arboretum which was filling nicely as the hour approached. Chatting amicably near a small crowd was the guest of honor himself and his husband, Doctor Niccolo Del Vedova, their acting chief of medicine. del Vedova: He’s right here! And he’s his own man! So to say, as he fairly charged Wil and wrapped him in an embrace, and only after that was broken did he reveal the man of the hour (difficult though he was to hide behind the shorter Del): Aron himself. Kells: Hello, Wil, Geoff. Geoff, thanks for this, truly. Aron looked around at all the familiar faces and beamed as he took them all in. Her arms crossed, and uniform collar extended to reach her chin, Commander Blake tilted her head down toward Captain Roshanara Rahman next to her. Blake: I think Wil’s trying to hog everyone to himself. Rahman: I suppose I can’t blame him... Ukinix: ::Turning to Blake and Rahman:: Isn't it exciting! Geoff’s smile widened to nearly goofy proportions at the sudden reunion of friends from the Veritas. It was the first time he’d seen all these people in the same place since he transferred more than a year ago. Teller: Commander Blake...Skipper. It’s been too long. A warm smile donned Blake’s face as she relaxed her stance. Blake: It’s good to see you again. I’m glad we could make our way out of the Shoals to be here. Rahman: Indeed. Roshanara smiled as she looked back at Teller, and then her gaze turned towards Del. Kells: (with a grin) I’m glad you could as well, especially since my last trip out there did not go according to plan. del Vedova: Aw, but at least we still spent some time together. That, Aron thought, was the understatement of the century: Limbo, as the Veritas crew had nicknamed the moon, operated outside of the time experienced by the surrounding space. What had seemed like hours from a removed orbit had been experienced as months by the shipwrecked crew. Naturally, though, Roshanara waved off the memory of that extended planetary stay with a more important question. Rahman: Are you two still an item? Aron considered answering with a kiss, but Roshanara also would remember his habit of a friendly kiss for any of his crew who received a promotion or an award. It would not answer her question. Del, however, beamed and embraced Aron for a moment. del Vedova: Space husbands! Rahman: ::shaking head:: Naturally. The Kriosian captain of the USS Veritas then looked to the man whom she’d first served under as chief engineer before he had brought her back to active service as his first officer for the Invicta Expedition. Rahman: No matter what, sir, you’ll always be Captain Kells to me. Del interrupted Aron’s search for a reply that matched how heartfelt Roshanara had been with a smack in the shins from his cane. Certainly he knew that Aron was in danger of tearing up. del Vedova: And never mind him, you’ll be Rosh to me. As Addison entered the arboretum, she smoothed the front of her dress whites when her eyes fell upon a group of colleagues very dear to her who’d already arrived. She’d normally have been there earlier, but she took the opportunity to take a quick tour of the ship. It was in much better shape than the last time she’d been aboard - leading the majority of the non-essential personnel off the ship in shuttlecraft during an emergency was a memory that wouldn’t soon leave her. Grabbing a flute of champagne, she approached the group of distinguished guests and former colleagues. MacKenzie: Teller isn’t causing trouble, is he? I mean, aside from his usual… Captain Rahman, always good to see you. Rahman: Likewise. I hear you’re doing good things on the Resolution. MacKenzie: ::gesturing to Blake and del Vedova:: And the two of you are looking good - the last time I saw each of you, you were patients of mine. Del exchanged a look with Blake, then shrugged at Addison. del Vedova: We got better. MacKenzie: ::resisting the urge to smirk at Ukinix:: Trouble’s junior colleague. ::winking:: How’ve you been my friend? Ukinix: ::mock offense:: Hey! I'd at least be Trouble's first officer by now. ::Offering hug:: It's so good to see you again Addison, I've missed you. With pleasantries exchanged, she approached Kells and offered a hug. MacKenzie: The man of the hour! I can’t think of a more CO. Congratulations, Commodore. Kells: Thank you, Addison! And all of you. I can’t tell you how much it means that you were all able to make it. Nor had everyone arrived yet, as the group in the arboretum continued to grow, most recently with an officer Aron had first met when he’d been assigned as an ensign, and who was now a captain of his own ship. Mei’konda: Speakiing of congratulations…hello, everyone. And congratulations, soon-to-no-longer-be Captaain Kells. Aron had last seen Mei’konda at his wedding to another of Aron’s former officers, Evan Delano, and he hugged Mei’konda as well. Kells: Captain! It’s so good to see you. It’s been too long, too long since I’ve seen any of you. Mei’konda returned the hug, despite just a moment of hesitation. There was a time, not so long ago, where he stiffened up like a board when Aron Kells’ eyes fell upon him. But this was a special occasion. Mei’konda: Indeed! It’s like a family reuniion, isn’t it? The Caitian approached the gathering of senior officers, dressed in the carefully tailored dress whites that inadvertently emphasized his lean, muscular build. With negotiations for the Federation’s new colony site successfully concluded in the Expanse, the Chin’toka had moved back close to Federation space in order to prepare to escort the shipments, and it had given Mei’konda the time to take a brief shore leave out to the Thor in order to attend a very special occasion. Since his own promotion to Captain, this might’ve been the most brass he’d ever been in the presence of, but he found it interesting that he didn’t feel uncomfortable in the slightest. These officers - some of whom had been his direct superiors during his own early days in Starfleet - were now his peers. He aimed a reserved nod toward the Admiral lurking at the edges of the room, and a slight smile toward Teller and Saveron, as well. He and the Vulcan had had their disagreements years ago, but he liked to think they’d buried the hatchet. Mei’konda: Commander Teller. Commander Saveron. A pleasuure to see you both again. Teller: Captain Mei’konda! This is fantastic...I haven’t seen you since..hmmm...since I got my [...] bitten off by some voles at your Captaincy promotion! I can promise you - none aboard this ship. Mei’konda quirked a slight smile over at the red headed Commander. Mei’konda: If it was goiing to happen to anyone, Mr. Teller, it would happen to you. Geoff laughed good naturedly as he fought to urge to scratch his suddenly itchy backside. Teller: I’ll take that as a compliment. Commander Saveron, do you know Captain Mei’konda Delano of the Chin’Toka? Kells: He sure does! (glancing around) Almost half of the Invicta’s senior staff is here. They were missing a few faces — Alora DeVeau, Quinn Reynolds, Evan Delano, Hanar Tuk — but Geoff had promised Aron that most of them would be there, and it was an impressive guest list no matter what. Flicking his tail upward to curl it around one of his ankles, the Caitian folded one hand behind his back and held the cup of cinnamon tea he’d replicated in the other, lifting it to his lips to take a careful sip. There were unfamiliar faces here as well, some he didn’t know at all, and some he knew only by reputation. Mei’konda: On that note, my husband sends his regaard, Captain Kells. He’s on assignment, commanding the Diligent just outside of the Par’tha Expanse. A moment later, he added to those he hadn’t yet greeted. Mei’konda: Captain Mei’konda Delano, USS Chin’toka. A pleasuure to meet all of you. The rest of my crew sends their regards. She had slipped in among the other guests, pausing in the doorway, partly to admire the beauty of the surroundings. Arboretums were one of her favourite places to visit aboard ships, and she was pleased that the ceremony would take place in the Thor’s. It was well cultivated, a wide variety of plants growing in clusters according to soil and environmental needs. Alora paused at one such cluster, inhaling the scent of the blossoms, their sweetness energizing and almost addictive. From that spot, she had paused, her eyes shifting from person to person. There were quite a few people gathered, not surprising considering Aron’s long history with the fleet. She had known him from the beginning of her own career - he had been her first captain. And yet the man she came to celebrate that day was not the same man she had met when she had come aboard the Mercury. That had been someone different, but when the real Aron Kells had shown up, when so many people had doubted, when suspicions had been raised, she could only think about how hard it must be. He had proven to be as kind as she knew he would be, and the two had forged a friendship that had turned into something of a kinship. Even when he had left Starfleet briefly, they had remained in touch - rather necessarily thanks to their mutual investment. Had it only been eight years? It felt like she’d known him almost her entire life - and she certainly couldn’t imagine a future without him in it somehow. There were others she’d known for just as long and when her eyes settled upon them, her expression brightened into her characteristic smile. Faces so familiar, and dear to her, though in a different way, mingled together. It had only been two years since she’d seen some of them - though it seemed like it had been far longer. Taking one last whiff of the flowers, Alora finally turned and aimed for the cluster of bodies, the gathering of people with whom she had, at one point in time, served with. DeVeau: Man, I’m getting hit hard with some déjà vu. Wil turned to look to see Alora, and froze. They had communicated via dreamscape only weeks earlier. He checked his hand to see if it had the right amount of fingers, ensuring he wasn’t dreaming lucidly again. He then looked again at Alora. Ukinix: ::Blinking eyes:: So am I. DeVeau: I almost feel like I’m back on the Veritas. Or the Invicta. She’d followed a couple from one ship to another. Some had been left behind while others had remained. After her classified assignment, she’d suddenly been placed on Starbase 118 and had only known one person there - thankfully, a friendly one. Now, faced with the ghosts of the past, she couldn’t stop the nostalgia from rolling over her. DeVeau: How are you? Each of you? Kells: (another grin) Persisting and thriving, I’d say. And all here, most importantly! Teller: Hale and hearty, Alora, just like that violet you gave me. Further back, a solitary figure lingered around the edges of the gathering crowds, watching the reunion of old friends. Clad in a pristine dress uniform, Rear Admiral's pips marking her rank, the scrawny, freckled hybrid kept her distance, not wanting to intrude. The only one Quinn Reynolds truly knew was Rahman—and while their interactions weren't the frosty poles of Andoria they'd once been, it was still awkward enough she thought it best to stay away. She didn't want her arrival to ruin the moment. That, and underneath it all, Quinn was still the chronically shy woman who'd fled from almost every party as an ensign. Instead, she contented herself with a stroll through the arboretum while the guests continued to arrive. The sex botanist delighted in the flora on offer; admiring the brilliant rainbow of colours in vibrant blossoms, breathing in the heady scents of exotic blooms, running her fingers across velvet petals and furred leaves. The professional engineer wondered how feasible it was to pilfer the arboretum design for the Gorkon, and whether it was an abuse of power to reconfigure the ship to have a nice garden. A very nice garden. She spared a smile and a nod for Saveron as they moved through the crowds, pleased to see him again. Perhaps later they'd have a chance to catch up, and she could let him know Amelia was thriving. But for now, her attention was drawn by another; the man she was here for, finally alone... at least for a few minutes. Reynolds: It barely seems like two minutes ago we were evacuating refugees from Romulus. ::She chuckled.:: If you'd told me then HQ would pin this much brass on either of us, I'd have laughed you off the ship. Aron was very happy to find himself alone for a moment with Quinn — Admiral Reynolds, now. He’d followed her career, of course, but it had been many long years since they’d served together, since he’d relied upon her counsel as the director of intelligence. She’d had a storied and successful career since she launched the Gorkon, but like Roshanara and Mei’konda, and equally like the officers there who weren’t (yet!) captains, he both relished their success and missed the good advice and endless assistance that had allowed them to progress in their careers. Kells: (with feeling) I’d have helped you! No doubt. She grinned at him, struck with both awe and a sense of ridiculousness at their situation and status. A pair of flag officers who’d caused no end of trouble and headaches for Starfleet HQ back in the day, helping the Romulans when the rest of the Federation had forsworn them. Many of those refugees still lived on Vulcan to this day, a community counted in the tens of thousands, thriving and seeding the beginnings of reconciliation. Reynolds: Valesha sends her congratulations, by the way. ::The Romulan scientist had been one of those refugees, and both Quinn and Aron had taken a special interest in her career.:: She's doing well. Kells: I’ve heard! Lieutenant already? I’m glad she’s done so well, and that she’s been with you for most of her career. Not that she needs one of us to keep an eye on her, but — you know. However, whatever else they might have said was truncated, as Geoff had obviously noticed Aron’s absence from the main group, and called for everyone to be seated. With the guests assembled the attention returned to Geoff, who nodded respectfully to his CO and then to Admiral Reynolds as he approached the small podium placed directly in front of the great tree. It seemed to Geoff a worthy backdrop for this rare, special ceremony. He waited patiently at the podium, not bothering to raise his voice and within moments, the room grew hushed on its own accord with a shared sense of anticipation. When the silence was complete, Geoff spoke in clipped, clear tones that carried across the room. Teller: Attention to Orders, Please. Attention to Orders. Fleet Captain Aron Kells, please step forward sir. Aron did so, with aplomb. Or as much aplomb as he thought he could handle, given the circumstances. Kells: Here and ready, Geoff. Teller: Thank you, sir. Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds, would you step forward please ma..::Geoff barely caught himself in time.::...would you step forward please. Kells: (muttering) Good save. With an arched eyebrow and the hint of a smirk cast in the direction of both men, the Admiral stepped up to the podium as requested. Heart thrumming in her chest, she smiled through a deep breath. Over the years, she had learnt to keep the timorous tremor out of her voice, still the anxious fidgeting that wanted to erupt when dozens of eyes were upon her. But she was here for Aron, and the desire to honour and celebrate her friend made it easier to bury the nerves. Reynolds: I'd like to first thank you all for coming. There are a lot of familiar faces here, and I know how pleased Aron is to see you all. It speaks to how many lives he's touched, and how important he is to so many. Geoff stepped aside and retrieved the small decorative box which seemed unusually heavy in his hand. From here on out the attention of the entire room fixated on the two people standing front and center. Reynolds: Those of you who know me are already well aware that I loathe public speaking. For those of you who don't; it takes a very special event, or a very special person, to lure me to the front of a crowd. Today fulfils both requirements. As Quinn began to speak, Aron found that Del’s earlier save with Roshanara had been for naught, as he started to tear up anyway. He broke his gaze away from her and gazed out at his friends, but that was even worse. The people gathered in the arboretum represented decades upon decades of memories and experiences, and if he was looking for an escape, they were not it. Not that he was looking for an escape. It was just — after all he’d been through recently, from Calabrum and the Zet to nearly dying on New Bajor, he wasn’t sure if he’d thought a moment like this — not even the promotion, but where he was able to gather with so many of his friends — would ever happen again. Even by Caitian standards, the room had grown quiet but for Admiral Reynolds and the ever present subtle rush of a starship’s life support systems functioning around them. Mei’konda kept his ears angled toward the two standing together as Kells’ only superior officer in the room continued speaking, and Mei’konda stood silently with his fellow officers. It was one of those rare occasions that he’d come to savor in Starfleet - as much reward as he felt when he was able to promote or offer commendations to his own officers, there was something particularly special about being invited to witness one of his old Captains being recognized like this. Reynolds: I first served with Aron over ten years ago. He was a science officer under my command on the Drake, and we had a few... interesting adventures together. ::She grinned at him for a moment, a shared joke twinkling in her hazel eyes, and then continued.:: He was one of the finest scientists I've served with, and I valued his keen insight, quick wits and his ability to keep a clear head under pressure. They had shared just about every professional dynamic there was in Starfleet: subordinate, superior and peer. It had forged a respect and understanding few shared, and though—or perhaps because—there had been some bumps along the way, Aron’s friendship was one she treasured. Distance made it harder, but her fondness had not diminished with time. Reynolds: It was a few years later, when I served under his command aboard the Mercury—and later, the Garuda—when we became friends, and someone I still trust to this day to offer me sage advice when I need it. As well as my friend, he's been my teacher; I strive to emulate his diplomatic finesse in all situations, and his ability to cut to the heart of a problem. It is my firm belief he is one of the most exceptional officers in Starfleet, and I'm beyond honoured and pleased to be here today to recognise his ability, his compassion, his loyalty, and his dedication to all those he serves with. Quinn looked expectantly toward the red-haired Commander. Geoff lowered his voice and leaned in, waggling the Commodores pips. He couldn’t hold back a small smirk. Teller: Last chance to change your mind and pin these on me, Admiral. Reynolds: You shouldn't play with fire, Commander. ::Her eyebrows twitched upward as she responded just as quietly.:: You might get burned. Geoff stifled a laugh and opened the small box, profferring its contents to the Admiral, and she turned back toward Kells with pips in hand. For Teller, the challenge of the day had instantly been made worthwhile when he saw the look of profound gratitude and deep joy on his CO’s normally reserved face. Reynolds: Fleet Captain Aron Kells, it is my privilege to promote you to the rank of Commodore, with all the associated rights and responsibilities. ::Then, more softly,:: You’ve done us all proud, Aron. Kells: (quietly) Thank you. (more loudly) Truly, thank you. I can’t fully express how much it means to have you all here. And then came the moment. Quinn had the single-gold-pip-on-black of the commodore ready to go, and the moment itself — the pinning — was over in a moment. His new insignia gleaming under the arboretum lights, she dropped her hands onto his shoulders. Then, with an impish smile, she copied his favourite trick and rose up onto her tiptoes to press a kiss to the new commodore’s cheek. Reynolds: Congratulations, Commodore Kells. Teller: Three cheers for Commodore Kells! HipHip! The quiet of the Arboretum was broken by the thunder of applause and the shouts of hurrah ringing from the walls. But then the applause. Oh, the applause! This time, Aron tried to return the room to its former quiet, and he locked eyes with everyone there as he gazed around. Kells: Without each of you, I wouldn’t be here. That you’re here to celebrate the continuation of what I love to do — it means so much. Maybe it’s inadequate to keep saying so, but: thank you. Teller: My sincerest thanks to all of our visiting guests, you’ll be receiving complimentary gift bags on your way back to the shuttlebay or transporter pads. Officers and Crew of the Thor...please assemble front and center. The Commodore isn’t the only one we’re celebrating today! Mei’konda couldn’t help a subtle flattening of his ears, this time. There was such noise, and his ears were sensitive. But he participated nonetheless, the broad smile on his short muzzle exposing his sharp teeth while he clapped in turn with the others. Later, he’d share time with the others, perhaps take a brief tour of the Thor considering that he’d never been aboard a Vesta class ship before, and catch a shuttle back to the Chin’toka late in the evening. Mei’konda: Congratulations, everyone - and thaank you for the invitation! Responses: ? END! =================================== Commodore Aron Kells Commanding Officer USS Thor V238208LV0 he/him/his (character & player) & Commander Geoffrey Teller Executive Officer USS Thor - NCC 82607 Commodore A. Kells, Commanding V239509GT0 with special guests (in order of appearance) Commander Saveron First Officer USS Constitution-B R238802S10 Lieutenant Commander Chythar Skyfire, MD Medical Officer / Barista USS Chin’toka NCC-97187 O239002CS0 Lieutenant Commander Wil Ukinix Chief Engineer, Second Officer USS Veritas V239511WU0 Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0 Captain Roshanara Rahman Commanding Officer, USS Veritas I238705TZ0 Commander Addison MacKenzie, M.D., Ph.D., FASFS First Officer USS Resolution V239601AM0 Captain Mei’konda Delano Commanding Officer USS Chin’toka, NCC-97187 M239002M10 Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau First Officer Starbase 118 Ops alora@blar.net M239008AD0 Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  11. I found this probably a little too funny...
  12. These guys have worked incredibly hard on an extremely brilliant story about @Etan Iljor's folks and this JP with @Meidra Sirin is just the tip of the iceberg. But this is an awesome opener. Enjoy. ((Counselor Sirin's Office, Deck 2, USS Resolution)) The corridor- if you could call it that- that connected Meidra's office to the wider sickbay was short, almost to the point of being stubby. There was just enough room for a single person to wait for their appointment. There was a chair, but Iljor had chosen not to use it, feeling restless and anxious all at once. He paced it's nigh-non existent length back and forth, back and forth and felt the knot that had taken up residence in his stomach over the past few weeks tighten more than it had done up to that point. The only redoubt he had found from it was in his work on the Skarn Homeworld- the events there had forced a shift in his priorities- but in the days since their return to Deep Space 224, he had not been able to find a suitable distraction. Something in the back of his brain tickled, trying to push itself to the front. Each time he reached Meidra's door, it told him to push the button to alert the counselor to his presence. Each time he stopped himself from doing that, knot ever tightening. It wasn't rational and it certainly wasn't healthy, he knew that. In fact, he suspected his reluctance to talk to Meidra would be enough to fill half a dozen sessions with her. Meidra was in the middle of brewing some tea when she got the odd feeling that someone was outside her door. She frowned, not hearing anyone call to her, and she didn’t have any appointments lined up for the afternoon. Once she sensed it was Iljor, she waited for him to announce himself, but after a few minutes, he hadn’t tried. Staring at the door, she crossed her arms, almost willing him to enter. She’d wait until he was ready to talk, but curiosity was building. He had spent the last several months in denial. Deep in it, in fact. His decision to remain silent was born of a desire to keep the status quo as it was. He had come close to disclosing it to Genkos, but the fact was that unleashing what he had been told to anybody else would force him to confront the truth that Akhbett Jirall had provided him with. His parents had been party to a massacre. He could not stave off the reckoning any longer. It was time to rip off the band-aid, just as Genkos had suggested weeks earlier. He knew that he could not go through it alone. The CMO had told him that the crew would be there to pick up the pieces, but he needed their support to go through with it. He could think of no one more qualified- no one he trusted more- than Meidra. He reached the entrance to her office once more. Only this time, the doors opened and there stood the auburn-haired Vulcan/El-Aurian psychologist, peering at him with an expression somewhere between confusion and annoyance. Sirin: Iljor? Is there a reason you are haunting my waiting area? I can feel the waves of turmoil coming from you from inside my office. Come in, please. She moved off to one side to allow her friend and colleague entrance. Since his arrival on the Resolution, their friendship had grown into a cherished one, and the counselor was a bit overwhelmed by the strong conflicting emotions she felt coming from the usually cheerful science officer. It wasn’t like him to be so stressed, and a real concern started to grow within her. Sirin: I was just brewing some Spice tea for myself, but if that is not to your liking, you may use the replicator to procure a beverage. ::sits on her sofa, pouring a cup of tea for herself:: Tell me what is on your mind. Spice tea sounded like the tonic that Iljor needed. He made his way into her comfortable office, made himself a cup and took a seat on the same sofa that he had sat on the very first time that he had met her. It was still as soft as he had remembered. She waited patiently for him to sit down, and explain what had him so upset. She knew not to push too hard, Iljor always sorted through his thoughts in a quite logical way before speaking, and she knew this time would be no different. He saw no reason not to cut straight to the heart of the matter. Etan: Back when we were on Trill for Yogan's zhian'tara ::he began, slowly and deliberately as he organised his jumble of chaotic thoughts.:: I was approached by a Cardassian who claimed to have information on what amounts to a false flag operation on Bajor, one that my parents were drawn in to. ::he went to reach for the optolythic data rod that Akhbett had given him before her swift exit from the café. He didn't realise until he blinked that he was already holding it.:: The data rod had been gathering dust in his bedside table ever since they had returned from Trill. He had tried to forget about it as best as he could. He had ignored it for the most part, but after his conversation with Genkos and upon returning from the science symposium, he had finally decided to review its contents. What he had read had sickened him to his very core. Of all the things that he could have told her, this had not even registered as a possibility. Meidra took a sip of her tea, attempting to clear her thoughts, before putting the cup down to focus on her friend. Her voice softened, and she knew she had to tread carefully with this conversation. He was like a pi’sa-kai to her, a little brother, and she did not wish to cause him unneeded distress. Sirin: I see. And what exactly did this person tell you? Etan: She claimed that the old Central Command fed false intelligence to my parent's resistance cell that an Obsidian Order operation was about to take place. Their cell swiftly bombed the warehouse where they were sheltering and then 'picked off' the survivors one by one until none were left. Just repeating Jirall's claims made him want to be sick all over Meidra's office. He could feel the roiling of his agitated stomach, the knot there replaced temporarily by an ocean of anxiety. He took a sip of the spice tea with closed eyes, hoping it would calm him somewhat. Given that his hands were now beginning to tremble, it didn't seem to work. Meidra reached out and squeezed his hands in encouragement, her touch light. Sitting back again, she watched the emotions cross his face as he struggled to continue. She had never seen him so agitated. Her feelings for him as an older sister warred with her duties as counselor for a moment, and all she wanted to do was envelope him in a huge hug and let him cry it out. However, at this moment, they were counselor and patient. She took a moment to settle her own thoughts before continuing. Sirin: Take a breath, Iljor. Tell me more when you are ready. He drew strength from her gentle squeeze and he composed himself before elaborating. Etan: They weren't Obsidian Order operatives. ::he said in a small voice that took on a surprisingly guilty tone.:: They were religious believers. Civilians. Sirin: Refugees. Iljor nodded. Etan: Of a sort. ::beat:: They were members of an ancient Cardassian religion, known as the Oralian Way. After the establishment of the Central Command and the military dictatorship, religion was banned outright and members of The Way were hunted and persecuted publicly, for entertainment as much as a warning to others. The woman I spoke to said that the believers were being sheltered by the Vedek Assembly- which does tally with their actions during the Occupation. The Vedek Assembly had, in the decades since the end of the Occupation and the fall of Central Command, admitted to running an underground railroad of Oralian believers through Bajor, sheltering them until they get them off world and out of the murderous hands of Central Command and the Obsidian Order. It was their own act of rebellion against the oppressive Centeal Command. Iljor had thought them courageous and selfless, putting aside prejudice and hate to help those in dire need of rescuing. Sirin: And this woman said your parents were somehow involved. ::beat:: What else did she tell you? Etan: That was pretty much it. That there was a false flag operation, my parents' resistance cell was involved and religious refugees were massacred. ::he remembered a final detail.:: The Vedek Assembly covered it all up. ::he let out a sigh.:: I haven't corroborated any of the details. ::he held up the optometric rod again.:: I'm scared to. Sirin: What exactly do you fear, Iljor? Etan: That I don’t know my own parents- the people who raised me. This changes absolutely everything. I don’t know if I want to know the real them. Sirin: Perhaps not knowing is more harmful at this point. She poured them another cup of tea, watching his expression carefully. This was a huge revelation for him to deal with, and while determining the veracity of these claims was important, his emotional health was her first priority. Both as counselor, and as friend. Iljor considered Meidra’s view for a moment, his eyes darting back and forth as though he was reading something. His foot tapped on the carpet in agitation. Jirall’s evidence had more than just repercussions for him and his parents- the entire bedrock of Bajoran spirituality- the Vedek Assembly- could be shaken to its core. Etan: Something like this could rock the very foundations of Bajor. The Vedek Assembly engaged in a conspiracy to cover up the deaths of innocent Cardassian civilians. I know it was the Occupation and to almost everyone the only good Cardassian was a dead Cardassian. ::beat:: but I never believed that and I never will. He didn't remember getting to his feet and he didn't remember when he had risen his voice. Etan: For years I convinced myself that my parents were just messengers or they hid resistance members in their cellar away from the prying eyes of Dukat's patrols. ::beat:: I want to believe they’re innocent of what they stand accused of. They have to be. But in his heart, he knew the facts. Data on optolythic data rods was infallible and as best as he knew, nobody had ever successfully forged an entry. If Jirall had gotten the information then it was accurate. His entire world had been turned upside down. His parents were strangers, the leaders of his faith were party to a massacre and cover-up, everything he knew was a lie. She could see him spiraling into self doubt about what he had always felt was the truth about his family. He was agitated and she could feel his anxiety as if it were her own. Empathy was a fine talent to have until one felt as if one’s lunch was trying to escape. She took a deep breath and spoke a bit louder than usual to the young science officer. Sirin: Iljor. Look at me. Do you want to know what that rod contains? Are you prepared to deal with the consequences, no matter what they are? ::beat:: Have you considered speaking with your parents? There was something in Meidra's voice- a commanding tone- that snapped back to reality and out of his heightened emotional state. He blinked twice and looked at the counselor. The truth was that no- he was not prepared to deal with the information he had been given. That had been why he had buried it under a pile of clothes in his drawers and tried to pretend it did not exist. Yet, he knew he could not ignore it forever. He had known ever since Jirall had sat opposite him in the café on Trill that he would have to confront his parents with the information. He might not be prepared… but he would have to change that. He let out a long, sad sigh. Etan: No. No I'm not. ::he shook his head.:: But this is too important to bury my head in the sand and forget about. ::he paused for a second and flopped back on to the comfortable sofa, resigned to his duty.:: I don’t think that I could. He reached a decision. Etan: I have to speak to them. Sirin: I think that is the most logical course of action. It was not a conversation he wanted to have over subspace. He didn't want to have it at all- but he knew it had to be done. No, he needed to speak to them face to face. There was no way that they would leave the farm- not when the katterpod harvest was coming up. That only left one option. He needed to go home. Etan: I don't think I can do this alone. ::he said finally.:: I'm not strong enough. Meidra highly doubted that. Iljor had a strength that he might not recognize, but it was in everything he did, both as an officer and as a person. She would do what she could to reinforce that confidence until he truly believed it himself. But until then, she would do all she could for him when he needed her. Sirin: What do you need to make this easier for you? Etan: ::he looked at Meidra imploringly.:: Would you come with me? You're my best friend on Resolution and this is one of those times when you need a friend to support you. Meidra was quite touched. She felt the same way for the young Bajoran, and their weekly lunches had grown into a strong bond of friendship. She wondered how she had gotten so fortunate to serve with such incredibly talented and compassionate beings. Taking his hand once more in hers, she smiled warmly at her pi’sa-kai. Sirin: You never have to ask me for my support, Iljor. I wouldn’t want you to do this on your own. Speaking as a counselor, I would not advise you to go on your own anyway. Speaking as your best friend and big sister, I wouldn’t even let you consider it. He practically sagged with relief into the back of the sofa. Etan: Thank you. ::he said after several long moments that seemed never-ending.:: Sirin: We’re family now, pi’sa-kai. Your struggles are my own. We will get through this together, little brother. -- End Of Scene -- Lieutenant (J.G.) Etan Iljor Science Officer U.S.S. Resolution C239203TW0 & Lieutenant Meidra Sirin Ship’s Counselor U.S.S. Resolution R239707MS0 “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to life.”
  13. You're gone, gone, gone away I watched you disappear All that's left is a ghost of you ~ Of Monsters And Men - Little Talks ((Memorial Hall, Holodeck 4, USS Constitution)) She had pushed it away, far away, past the reports and official talks, conversations with crew members but she knew she would have to come. The pictured displayed in this hall were of people, her people, her crew. She shouldn't let them wait for that long. They were important too, no matter if they were alive or dead. To honor them Jalana had dug out her dress uniform, they deserved at least that much. Though she had chosen a time when the memorial hall was not visited by many. In some cultures it was believed that their soul remained and watched over loved ones, in others the essence of people passed on into an afterlife, in again others it just ceased to exist. Jalana didn't know what she believed. As someone who carried the lifetime memories of six more people she carried the believes of them with her too. But she was aware it was not her own. She would have liked to think that a piece of them would remain with others, any maybe in a way they did. Remaining in memories and in the heart of those whose path they had crossed was like that in a way was it not? 'As long as we remember a person, they're not really gone. Their thoughts, their feelings, their memories, they become a part of us.' She had heard these words during her Academy time when holding a memorial for a cadet who had passed surprisingly. It was what she liked to believe. But she was aware it was not shared by everyone. and she respected that. The Trill had informed herself about different traditions for memorials like these, trying to honor each fallen crew member in a way they would honor their own. She had visited the memorial for Horm first and placed one of his prized possessions next to his picture. It was a small trophy, it was nothing special, nothing big. But one of the children had given it to him for helping him with mathematical issues and he had always treasured it. It did not feel appropriate for Jalana to howl to Sto'Vo'Kor for Q'Ren, as her family and closest friends. If anything the soul was in the afterlife already, feasting in the Hall of Warriors. Klingons did not care about the physical remains after the warrior spirit left. So Jalana has stood in silence, holding her gaze on the dark eyes of the woman on the picture. The picture of Syanir Kol looked peaceful and smiling, and she knew that someone would remember her and her memories when her symbiont found a new host. She was relieved that they had been able to determine that the symbiont was unharmed and found a QSD equipped ship to bring Kol to the homeworld. She visited every of the memorials mostly quiet contemplation, sometimes whispering conversation with Zilan, Kylie Willams, S'Ral, Dhelvad and Scrol Ar'el. And now she stood in front of the last one. Doctor Han Soo Mi looked at her with that infectious smile. She had been with her in her last moments and somehow that hit her more than the others, even though they were all equally important. The database had been informative about the customs Soo Mi's family would follow. So Jalana bowed her head and lowered herself to her knees. Placing her hands on the floor before her she bowed down before raising to her feet again. She repeated that two more times before she stood and bowed her head once more and then took one of the white flowers provided in a vase and placed it on the pile with the others already placed in front of the picture. Once she finished her round she stepped to the front of the room, looking from one to the other with a somber expression. Her green eyes meeting their picture's gazes once more. Rajel: You all served well, with honor, with passion and a high sense of duty. It was a pleasure and honor to serve with you. Your stories will be remembered. As of now your service ends and your time to rest has come. ::She swallowed, fighting with the tears welling up in her eyes before adding with a warm undertone.:: You are dismissed. ----- Commodore Jalana Rajel Commanding Officer USS Constitution B Image Team Co-Facilitator A238906JL0Con
  14. OOC: I can always count on a Wyn post for a laugh! IC: ((Ballroom C-10, Starbase 118)) Wyn had his hair actually truly styled. A rare occasion for sure, but his conversation with Sheila Bailey had prompted Wyn to visit that irritating neurosurgeon Jos to take a look at his damaged antennae and after a long discussion on future treatment options – none of which he was excited about, but all of which he should consider. It had, at least, offered some pain moderation that allowed him to, among other things, get his rather terribly shaggy hair cut. Now it was sleek, fluffy, brushed to one side and wisping gently around his antennae. Distinguished almost. He had a high-necked white shirt, an asymmetric fitted silver vest and charcoal slacks that emphasized his wiry runner’s physique. Clearly he had gotten the memo as ogled the ballroom looking lost. Blackwell: Wyn, over here. Ah, a beacon. Nice. He pivoted and went towards the call. Yael: ::trying to smile genuinely as the Andorian joined them:: Wyn, good to see you. You look amazing. ::then, to Rue:: Both of you do. Pause. Both antennae and eyes gravitated towards Yael. There was something … off … about him. If he was being cavalier he would guess hangover. Foster: Thanks. So, what’s up? Blackwell: We were about to get some water - care to join us? His gaze went towards Rue. Her eyes slid to Ashley. Then the water. Then Ashley. Subtle. Ok, absolutely hangover. Foster: Sure, water sounds great. He sounded a little too happy about water. Sliding beside Ashley he fell into step. Yael: ::to Wyn:: I wasn’t sure if you’d gotten an invite. Glad you could attend. Blackwell: Why don’t I go grab the drinks, and you two can find us a place to people watch for a moment so we can get a lay of the land? Drinks. Well technically water was a drink. A pretty [...] poor drink if you asked Wyn. Nobody had asked Wyn. It was also not lost on him that Ashley ‘don’t you touch me’ Yael had linked arms with Prudence ‘touchy feely’ Blackwell. What kind of voodoo black magic was that? Yael: Have you gotten sight of any of the artifacts? They’re being quite secretive so far. Terribly curious what sort of items they have to justify such finery. Foster: Artifacts? ::Clearly he had not especially been listening.:: They were all pretty covered up. Saved by the Rue, who stuffed a glad of water in his hand. He sipped his own to cover up his [...] pas, watching Yael, doing backflips of mental doctor-calculations. Absolutely a hangover. Yael: ::sighing lightly in somewhat transparent relief:: Thank you. ::beat:: You had your hands full there. Blackwell: No worries at all. Balancing drinks is just one of my many skills. Foster: And you do it with grace. ::he smiled towards her.:: Blackwell/Yael: ? Eyes drifting between Rue and Ashley he gestured towards the tables. Foster: Maybe we should sit down? Find our names or something. Blackwell/Yael: ? Foster: You know, sit down before you fall down. He regretted it after he said it, looking at Ashley with a doctorly skepticism Blackwell/Yael: ? His expression softened and he tried to recover with a compassionate offer. Foster: If you ask nicely I have a medkit and I can administer hangover medicine. Which would also require Ashley to admit the hangover. Carrot. Stick. Check. Blackwell/Yael: ? He pulled back, looking a bit chagrined. Foster: In my boot. ::He pulled a perfectly fitted wallet-fold custom medkit from his polished boot.:: I always have at least one medkit on my person at all times. And he meant it. He usually had three, each set with a priority order of specific medical items. Blackwell/Yael: ? ~*~ tags/tbc ~*~ Lt Commander Shar’Wyn Foster Chief Surgeon StarBase 118 Ops
  15. The level of drama, drag race references, emotion and worlbuilding in this sim is over the top. I'm here with my popcorn ready to see how this arc develops. Great work @Yalu & @Etan Iljor ❤️ (( Molly Malone’s Irish Pub, Deck 225/226, Deep Space 224 )) The hustle and bustle of the pub actually made Dwich feel more comfortable about saying what he wanted to say; he could speak and let his voice get lost in the din. Certainly no one beyond their table would be able to overhear him even if they wanted to. Hamsan: I know you’re Meidra’s best friend, but you’re the only other Bajoran I’ve gotten to know on Resolution. I was wondering if I could ask for your advice. Etan: Uh, of course… The delay in Iljor’s reply and the uncertainty in his tone of voice made Dwich pause, and he second guessed whether or not he should continue on with his question. After a moment of consideration, he pressed on. Hamsan: ::gestures to Iljor’s earring:: You’re… observant, right? You follow the way of the Prophets? Etan: Of course. It guides me in everything I do. I believe I am walking the Prophets have laid out for me. Dwich nodded. Bajorans had a reputation for being a spiritual people, and while some were less devout than others, one could generally trust the assumption that Bajorans believed in the Prophets. It made sense for them, more so than Humans or other species for whom religion existed. To Dwich’s knowledge, they were unique amongst believers in that their gods were actual, real beings, living just out of time but very much involved in the affairs of the people they watched over. Hamsan: I’ve been thinking a lot about my path. Meidra and I have talked about moving in together, and I think we both want to take that step. But I keep thinking about Yurba’s Second Prophecy. Etan: I’m not familiar with it. ::he said, trying to rack his brains for any recollection.:: Hamsan: Before I joined Starfleet, I was in training to join the religious order at the Kaiett Monastery in Dakhur Province. But that was a long time ago. ::beat:: In Yurba’s, there’s one verse I can’t get out of my head. “If thou cantst love thyself, how canst thou love somebody else?” It’s making me wonder if we’re doing the right thing. Etan: Reading prophecy is fundamental. It is part and parcel of our spiritual lives. But there comes a point when sometimes we have to follow our hearts. My grandmother spent some time as a young woman considering doing the same as you did: joining the clergy rder- but it never felt right. When she met my grandfather, she was torn about whether to give up the order and marry my grandfather or give up my grandfather and spend her life in silent seclusion at the Vandawan Monastery. Dwich remembered his last day at the monastery, when Prylar Ulan told him to pack up his things and follow another path. It hurt, and for months, even years after, Dwich had felt lost. The one thing he had wanted more than anything else in the world was not the life for him, or so he had been told. Hamsan: What did she do? Etan: She wasn’t able to have an orb experience to find the answer, but she did speak to Vedek Vehsajj who told her of a passage from Yalar’s New Insights which said “One must not be sabotaged by the saboteur from within”. My grandmother realised that she was stopping herself from being truly happy and she left the seminary. Dwich recalled the book to which Iljor referred, though he didn’t remember the specific passage. Over tens of thousands of years, the Prophets had revealed themselves to chosen messengers on Bajor many times, which resulted in a diverse canon of prophecies to which the faithful could turn for guidance. In the past few days, Dwich had done his own share of poring over some of his most beloved sacred texts, but he was left with no answers, only more questions. Hamsan: But how does one know? How did your grandmother know? I love Meidra, but I still dream about joining a religious order. I don’t know how to reconcile those two things. Dwich tried not to scooch to the edge of his seat in anticipation as Iljor stopped to take a sip of his drink. It wasn’t as though he had the magic answer to solve all of Dwich’s problems, but perhaps he could provide something thought provoking or shed a new angle of light on the situation. As Iljor set the glass down, Dwich tried to anticipate what he would say. Etan: My point is: ask yourself how you feel about Meidra. I think you’ll find the answer is that which makes you the happiest. Dwich thought about his own feelings for Meidra, and the way she reacted when he finally expressed them to her. If he were speaking in his own language, he would have used the word tem’en, “bright one.” And he wanted to be her ja’ital, her “light,” in return. He knew she felt the same way about him, but Dwich felt that there was something in the way. Something within each of them that complicated their relationship and prevented them from becoming as close as their feelings might wish. Hamsan: I wonder if she would still want to be with me if I–– ::beat:: if I left Starfleet after my four years are up and joined the clergy. ::begins thinking out loud:: Not in a contemplative or cloistered order, one where she could come with me, maybe teaching or caring for the poor. With my medical training, I could do a lot of good in one of the cities. Ashalla, maybe. Or Tamulna. Etan: response Dwich realised he was getting ahead of himself. He had discussed his vocational aspirations with Meidra a few times in the past, but he had always framed it as a part of his past. He’d not previously let on that he still thought about it every day of his life. Hamsan: I guess sharing quarters is such a big step, that it’s caused me to rethink everything about my life. I didn’t realise when I asked her that all this would come up. Etan: response Hamsan: But I don’t think I’m the only one. Dwich looked over at his unpalatable, nearly full beer. It was likely warm and flat by now, rendering it even more unpleasant. Even so, he grabbed it and took a draught, pulling a face as he set down the glass and forced himself to swallow the mouthful of acrid beverage. Hamsan: I think she’s hiding something from me. Something that she thinks would change the way I feel about her if I found out. Etan: response Hamsan: I don’t know. ::beat, suddenly realises:: And this isn’t me trying to prise it out of you, Iljor. Honestly, I would never want to exploit the confidence between friends. I just wish she believed that nothing could change the way I feel about her, and even if the Prophets don’t intend for us to walk the same path forever, she can at least be herself with me in the here and now. Dwich realised that his own words could just as easily be spoken in the reverse about him. It was as though each of them had brought a third one with them into their relationship, a secret or a longing, that threatened to derail what they had together. Etan: response (( OOC: The musical accompaniment for today’s sim is Between performed by Vienna Teng. )) Tag / TBC PNPC Crewman 2nd Class Hamsan Dwich Emergency Medical Technician USS Resolution NCC-78145 simmed by Lieutenant Yogan Yalu Helm Officer USS Resolution NCC-78145 Justin D238804DS0 As you liberate yourself in metaphor, think of others, those who have lost the right to speak. — Mahmoud Darwish
  16. Really great work @ElandraDAR and @Geoffrey Teller. This JP turned out AWESOME. Love the back and forth, and the slow build up. I'm so interested to what's coming next!!!
  17. World building and scene building. So important. Sil you did a great job doing both to kick off this mission. I enjoyed the tension created by the situation and between characters. Nice work! === ((Ring, Unknown biodome, Away team main camp)) OOC: I haven't described the city deliberately, leaving it for anyone who wants to add details. I know I might have over-described the NPC's but I couldn't resist IC: Torlek frown, again. He looked around the temporary base set at the entrance of the abandoned city. They had set up a small temporary base near their beam in point. They were supposed to survey the surroundings. Torlek insisted they beamed enough resources to sustain the large away team of eighteen, for at least five days in the field. They started well, set up shop quickly, beginning to explore the city in groups of four or three. There were some difficulties, some areas looked shielded, others interfered with their scans. Communication with the Grace wasn’t stable. Still they managed to make some progress, signaling the buildings they entered and taking notes the old fashion way, by writing in PADDs their observations. Everything looked normal. That is usually when things go wrong. First they noticed Wyss and her team didn’t report in. As the hours passed and contact wasn’t made Torlek sent three teams in search of them. To no avail. He always found the redhead engineer quite the character, but she was also a fine officer and not one who would derelict her duty. But it was by the next day when he decided to send a larger detachment that things turned weird. Torlek lead the team, leaving only four of his team in camp, they tried to track the movements of the missing crew. As they embroiled themselves on the streets it was clear this was an almost worthless effort. The only sound was theirs, and they barely managed to clear a block of buildings. There was no sign of their missing shipmates. The matter worsened when they met at the designated checkpoint. Six more were missing. Torlek recalled the rest and returned to base camp. They now had lost half the away team. Nine crewmen were missing. And there he stood. Less than 30 hours since their arrival. He started walking to reach the crouched man, who was working on an improvised comm station. He put his hand on his shoulder. Smith: Take a break Mr. Clarkson. The Ensign looked up at him, but returned to work. Three tricorders were jury rigged to a PADD. They were trying to improvise a signal booster. Clarkson: Just a minute more Sir. Torlek squeezed his hand just slightly, just enough for Clarkson to know he was serious. Smith: I won't say it again. The man turned, his eyes darting red. As he stood, all the near two meters of height, he rose slowly like a wave. The Ensign was one of the engineers, but really didn't look the part. Torlek always wondered if he was able to crawl into a Jefferies tube with that size. The Ensign faced him in the eyes. Torlek stood his ground as he saw the man’s eyes water. Clarkson flitched first, as tears began to form and he wasn’t able to control one that streaked down his cheek. Torlek kept his gaze fixed at him, in a neutral tone he spoke again. Smith: Ask Doc for something to sleep, pass your work to Hammond and get in your tent. I don’t want to see you here in the next four hours. Now that is an order. Clarkson, composing himself, nodded. Clarkson: Understood Commander. Torlek let Clarkson walk a few steps in the direction of their camp, before walking to Hammond. Smith: I told Clarkson to get some rest, take his place if you please. The little Lieutenant nodded. Hammond: Yes sir, shall I try and hail the ship? Torlek shook his head. It's been hours since their last contact. Smith: Keep the channel open, but don't bother trying for now. I am sure the Captain is calling in the cavalry. Hammond nodded and turned, heading to the work bench. May was at eye reach, he nodded to Torlek, and so he stepped closer to him. Smith: Anything? May shook his head. With the phaser rifle resting in his arms, the security Ensign almost whispered his reply. May: Not a goddamn thing. No movement, no noise… Nothing. Torlek raised his hands and waved to the camp. Smith: Give me the rifle, I will take watch now. Get some rest and keep an eye on Clarkson, I don't want him to go and do something stupid. May handed the rifle and shook his head. May: That's why I don't agree with romance between crewmates. Stig, Clarkson's companion, was one of the missing. He was one of the quietest officers on the Grace. Torlek wasn't even sure if he ever talked to him. Torlek shrugged, he didn't see any trouble in relationships. Smith: No man is an island. Relationships are the cornerstone of society. May tapped Torlek's shoulder before moving on. May: Always the diplomat Commander. Torlek smiled at him, with a final nod, pointing at the camp. Smith: One tries. Now go and get some rest. No TAG/TBC Lt Cmd. Torlek Smith First Officer USS Grace Hopper as simmed by: Lt. J. G. Vitor S.Silveira Tactical Officer USS Juneau, NX-99801 O238907VS0
  18. OOC: I was posting specific quotes and I just kept laughing, so decided to post the whole thing. IC: ((Holosuite, Deck 5, USS Thor)) Katsim: What is this? Fred: It’s our base. Come on, move. Richards: I do like what you guys have done with the place! Ted: Until we can verify who you are, you really need to keep moving…. Sir? The man gave Peri a little prod, not painful, but enough to indicate that he wasn’t kidding and so the woman continued marching forward. Under the watchful gaze of their captors, she and Richards were herded toward one of the buildings and inside. More soldiers were there, most in armour, a few people out of armour, but in clothing of the same hue and with the same insignia as the armour. Around a large table, a mixed group stood, talking, though it stopped as soon as one soldier looked up and saw the prisoners, and he brought them to the attention of the rest of the group. The tallest of them, his head shaven, turned and glared down at the newcomers. Frank: Did you two boneheads ever come to think that when I said “Don’t let anyone into the base”, that bringing two people into the base might be a bad idea? Commander Frank looked his two guards up and down, as well as Anton and Peri. Fred: We thought so, but… Ted: Sir… he said. Anton could see these poor guys were struggling, and after the whole guns to the head and pokes to the back, Anton wasn’t going to let this end just quite yet. So he waited a half dozen long seconds, While Ted and Fred scrambled for words. Just when he was pretty sure Fred was going to pass out, Anton stepped in. Richards: Commander Sir. We have never met formally. Captain Cool Guy, Sir. Saviour of the galaxy and what have you. We don’t really have time for formalities here. Something bad has happened. I was on my mission from Admiral Peacebringer Sir, when… Just then, Commander Frank shushed Anton. Peri glanced nervously over at Richards, then at the commander, who continued to peer down at them, his eyes narrowing. Anton held his ground firmly, in this universe, Anton believed he outranked Commander Frank. Frank: And who was this that you’ve brought with you. Anton looked up towards Katsim, he knew what she was going to say. He preemptively let out a sigh. Katsim: Peri. Richards: Commander... what Ms. Peri means to say is, “Supreme Commander Peri Protector of Good Things”. I gave her a field promotion when she was forced to play a crucial role in negotiations with a Splurge Commander. Ted: You see Sir? We didn’t know what to do. Frank: I see… ::glancing at Ted and Fred:: and where did you pick up, our supposed leaders of peace? Fred: We just found them in the forest, wandering around. Another glance was cast toward Richards, but Peri dared to speak up. Katsim: We were trying to keep away from Commander...Splurge. Richards: You really should tighten up your defenses here, I have reason to believe there could be more of them around here. Ted: You see Sir? And then he says stuff like this, which makes me n’ Fred wonder. That’s why we brought him back. Sir. Frank: I’m quite surprised that you would make such an accurate observation Captain, considering we are on the Splurge homeworld. I’d imagine you are correct! He looked over Anton and Peri suspiciously once more. Splurge homeworld? Anton thought to himself. That’s when he remembered what his friend had told him when suggesting the program. “Anton Man, Trust Me! Once you see the Splurge City over the horizon. You’ll understand why this is such a great program! Just as Anton looked towards Peri, a voice cut through his thoughts like a knife, bringing him back into reality. Captain Versa: Commander! What’s going on here? The tension suddenly grew amongst the group, Commander Frank, Ted, and Fred were all standing at attention. Anton turned to see a tall woman, tanned skin offset by sharp, hazel eyes. Her hair was pulled back into a severe bun, and like the others, she wore armour, her helmet tucked into her arm. She was gorgeous, Anton thought, and just before the entire situation became a story about how Anton fell in love with a holodeck character. Her voice cut through Anton’s thoughts again. The three stood and saluted attentively. Captain Versa: At ease! Frank: Ma’am. We have a situation. Versa eyed the group up and down before her eyes, locked in on Anton. Her hazel eyes were glistening through… wait… are those tears? Then they were gone, and a strong firm look proceeded over the three. Captain Versa: Commander, you are dismissed. Be sure to debrief your men, as you know this is classified at Peace Saviour Level 5. Frank: But Ma’am. I think you should know that they… Versa cut Frank off, this was good, because Anton wasn’t sure how he was going to explain himself. Captain Versa: Now! Frank/Ted/Fred: ::Comically in unison:: Yes. Ma’am! Captain Versa: Come with me. She nodded towards Anton. She turned and began walking into the direction of what appeared to be a large modular command centre located at the back most portion of the base. As Peri and Anton proceeded to follow, she stopped once more and turned around. Now what Anton was perceiving in her eyes, was not sadness, or anything that would result in tears. What Anton saw was… Blatant jealousy. She looked towards Peri sharply. Captain Versa: And who might this tag along be? She glanced at Peri. Anton was a bit confused. He hadn’t progressed in the program enough to know who Versa was, but Anton knew that he was definitely supposed to know. Katsim/Versa: Response? Richards: She has been crucial in my survival and in the mission against the Splurge. Katsim/Versa: Response [[Tags! & TBC]] __________ Ensign Anton Richards Security Officer USS Thor T239802AR1
  19. I always loved this community. I find it therapeutically to have this place to hide away for a few minutes from RL, sometimes by writing, others by reading. And I have to thank this pair of talented writers. This isn't exactly an uplifting sim, but it was one I had to read all trough it, and allowed me a few minutes . Thank you Sal and Alora. I joined all the four parts, sorry to make it long, but this is the way it's meant to be read. IC: ((Virixis VI - Alora’s Cabin)) Alora’s fingers danced over the keys of the piano, the ivory and black rectangles bouncing up and down as her hands worked her way over them. The speed was far too slow for the piece, Chopin’s Etude in G-sharp minor, but there was no way Alora was anywhere near ready to play a tempo. Known among pianists as one of the most difficult pieces to play, she had set it before her as a challenge, a goal, something to take up time and effort and brainpower as well as a composition that would allow her to stretch her skills and become a better player. Playing in thirds wasn’t for the faint hearted, but that piece was an ambitious project for even the foremost pianists. Needless to say, it was even more exacting for someone whose every waking moment wasn’t set before a piano. Although she had been playing for two and a half decades, Alora found herself stumbling at handling those thirds, particularly with the delicate touch the semi-quavers required. Yet, she was not above attempting something difficult. Scaling a mountain like that particular étude, pushing through the complicated runs and delicate trills that raced up and down the keys, would only end in a deep sense of satisfaction one felt after overcoming such a task. So, despite the painstakingly sluggish pace she had to set just to get through the first two measures, she was determined to wade through it. Like anything else, it was most difficult when first approached, and only time and practise would help her push through. She’d gone through the two measures she’d planned to tackle seven times when the chirp of the door made her hands pause and she turned on the small bench to face the door of her cabin. When the system was told to allow the visitor to enter, the door opened and a familiar face passed through. DeVeau: Commodore. Formal. That wasn’t normally Alora’s style, but she bounced back and forth with him, uncertainty making her doubt, doubt making her traverse down a more cautious road. Taybrim: Commander ::He gave her a polite, gentle greeting with a traditional Betazoid gesture.:: DeVeau: To what do I owe the visit? Taybrim: I wanted to touch base with you and see how you were doing. Just like Sal. He was always looking out for others, always making sure they were taken care of. Dropping her gaze, her smile took on a little more humour which reflected in her eyes when she finally raised them again. DeVeau: Do you feel like I need to be checked on? Taybrim: I know the mission was harrowing, but I am more concerned about your overall well being. Maybe he was still thinking of the telepathic contact he had with her. Perhaps it was a general sense of worry for her condition. Both? She was a valuable member of the crew and he wanted to make sure she was well. Harrowing. It was an apt word, one she had used on many occasions herself. Now? That mission? It wasn’t harrowing. Not compared to other experiences. DeVeau: Trust me when I say I’ve been through worse. Much worse, physically, emotionally, telepathically. Alora wasn’t sure if there was going to be anything else thrown at her that compared. DeVeau: More importantly, how are you doing? Did anyone ever ask him that? Did anyone check after the Commodore? See to his well being? Alora hoped so. Taybrim: I am well enough. Though I always worry that there is still more to do. A gross understatement if there ever was one. But he had taken the time to start to process all that had happened. It was a journey, and he was moving forward. Still, there were things that lingered in his mind as issues that could come up in the future. And that always worried him. DeVeau: But it’s over. And we won. ::She paused for a moment, then added - :: You won. Taybrim: We all won ::he gently offered:: You, Max, Sheila, the whole crew. We all helped. You were more help than you could know. DeVeau: Not me. I got involved at the last minute. You’ve been dealing with this for how many years? Sal took in a long, slow breath and contemplated that question. A while. A long while. Taybrim: Nearly three for the cult itself. ::he considered:: Over five for dealing with the Syndicate. Ah. That was one area where they still had a war - but this, they’d won against the Cult, and that was a decisive victory. It didn’t end everything, but it did cut off a very real threat, and for the moment, Alora felt they could at least take some relief in that. DeVeau: There will always be more to do, unfortunately. The Syndicate is a much bigger fish to fry. Taybrim: I have to accept that some things will never truly go away, but we are able to protect what we love rather than destroy what we hate. DeVeau: That’s the difference between us and them. We don’t fight because we want to, we fight because we have to, and if we can find other ways to accomplish our goals, so much the better. He nodded gently, in complete agreement on this. Taybrim: I agree, this is true. I have hope that if we stay on this course we can protect what we value and help our allies to continue to strengthen themselves. Even in this harrowing mission we still met and worked with plenty of Klingons who understood the stakes and rose to protect what was valuable to them. Alora studied the man for a moment, her expression neutral, eyes unwilling to reveal with thoughts roamed through her mind. A moment later, she turned, fingers quickly finding the switch that turned off the digital piano that had been provided for her by the resort, then rose. She faced him once again, hands lacing together and resting in front of her. DeVeau: I have a feeling that’s not the only reason you came by. Taybrim: You are correct ::He smiled gently:: I know things have been somewhat odd between us from the feelings shared at the Gratitude festival to the telepathic contact. I wanted to see if I could understand your thoughts and feelings on the matter. There was that gentle tone of the counselor paired with the Betazoid honesty that just came right out and cut to the chase. Immediately, Alora stiffened at the mention of the Gratitude Festival. In some ways, she had a desire to simply forget about everything that had occurred, every thought or emotion that had been stirred by that concoction which had invaded her body and spurred them to life. On the other hand, Alora had found something she’d thought she’d lost, an ability she hadn’t expected to retain. Either way, she seemed to dwell in a strange mixed existence of uncertainty, guilt, and maybe even a hint of regret. Her footing had been compromised and she was afraid that if she attempted to make a step forward, she’d simply fall and there wouldn’t be a net to catch her. Her reticence spurred the Commodore to continue. Taybrim: I understand how awkward things were under the influence of the tainted Spring wine. Though I hope you know that I do not hold anything against any crew who was affected during the festival. I, myself, was also affected. She didn’t want to talk about it. Wasn’t sure how to talk about it. Even though she’d managed to speak to Ashley about it, Alora still couldn’t face the red haired man himself, and try as he might, the Counselor’s attempts to help her come to some sort of resolution had been fruitless. The demons had been fed and they continued to lurk in the shadows, using this as merely fodder for tormenting her. Turning, Alora crossed the room, her eyes breaking away from Sal, avoiding him, training themselves on a new goal, something to distract her. DeVeau: Do you want something to drink? He nodded gently, pulling back and giving her some time. Taybrim: Sure. Orange cider if you would? Alora, of course, was going to imbibe. After making the Commodore’s request, she ordered chocolate milk for herself, program 100, one of the top favourites. It was a go to when she felt like she needed a little something extra. She paused at his words, then reached out to take her glass, but she didn’t actually drink, and her back remained turned to him, her focus on the sweet drink that she’d requested but seemed only able to stare at. DeVeau: I’m not sure what to say. Taybrim: There is no ‘what’ to say. I have no expectations. Sometimes putting feelings you cannot explain into words is a journey and even if you never reach the destination the attempt is worthwhile. That orange cider sat there, patiently waiting to be taken to the one who had asked for it. Like the man behind her, it offered no condemnation. Yet, Alora still winced, though she wasn’t sure why exactly. Sal Taybrim was, if nothing else, a kind man, so why did what he say sting? Or was she just done with his attempt at broaching the subject? Taybrim: I accept that you may not be able to answer now, nor soon, nor even on any timeframe that you know. ::He stated openly.:: Maybe it was important that she was simply aware that he knew. That he was prompting her forward on that journey. Alora inhaled and let out a heavy sigh, then finally reached out to curl her fingers around the glass. It was cool to the touch, and she could smell the citrus as she turned and carried it to the commodore. Finally passing it along, she motioned to the seating area of the room. DeVeau: Feel free to sit down. It felt odd, standing there like that. Stiff. Formal. Alora didn’t like it, even though she was taking a more formal stance in other ways. Choosing an armchair for herself, Alora lowered herself down and allowed herself a sip. Thick, chocolatey, oh so good, it slid down her throat, and, perhaps, offered a bit of courage. DeVeau: Is that the only reason you came by? Sal settled himself comfortably once asked and leaned forward, shaking his head gently. Taybrim: No. There is never only one reason to come. There is a world of things we could talk about to understand one another better on so many levels. For a second time, Alora lifted the glass, savouring the sweetness of her drink, though her eyes flicked up to peer at Sal from over the rim. She dared to turn the topic around, back to something else, something where she felt like she had more secure footing. DeVeau: Perhaps you would be willing to fulfill the promise you made to me before we went to Qo’nos? He nodded very slowly, having already considered this and knowing it was a possibility that they would delve into it. Taybrim: Yes, I am willing. The cup lowered and she rested the bottom upon her palm, then turned it slowly around and around. Circles. It was going in circles. Sometimes that was how she felt. DeVeau: Perhaps now would be a good time? It was true, he had no other plans. Though he was still hesitant no matter how open and honest he was. It bled through his tone. Taybrim: I have no other plans, so if you wish. The shifting of the glass, the circling of it in her palm ceased, and she took one last sip from it before setting it down upon the coffee table, then straightened. Her hands laced together and she met his gaze. DeVeau: I do wish. Taybrim: You already know I am loathe to cause pain to someone I care about if I can somehow prevent it. Or an innocent, he was even hesitant to cause pain to a dire enemy and would only consider it as a last resort for the cruel, the corrupt and the criminal. But he was also aware that so many enemies were simply good people of another opinion - just like the Klingon high Council where, in the end, so many of them were actually on the same side, though it took much effort to convince them. And yet, in that, he also admitted that the telepathic communication Vananth had offered him was painful. She had been terribly injured at the time and just desperate to share the information. It was not her fault. But it had been a difficult pile of memories to sift through. DeVeau: I know. But I am loath to leave someone I… She paused. Dare she say it? Could she say it? What did it mean if she gave it a voice? Was there more to it than simply what the word itself meant? Alora finished it, but the pit of her stomach roiled with uncertainty. DeVeau: Someone I care about with such a burden to bear alone. Taybrim: The burden has shifted since we met Kelemkor. His voice was soft, murmured and yet piercing. That particular connection still rang heavy on his mind. There was a tilt of her head, a slight lifting of her chin. She didn’t have to ask what he meant - she knew. Alora had been witness to the battle, though she did not know the exact details, had only seen the physical manifestation of what raged between their minds. It didn’t matter. She would not be deterred. Alora rose and closed the distance between them and sat beside him upon the couch. Without a word, she held out her hands to him, her gaze unwavering as hers met his own. Taybrim: I… ::He hesitated, protective, careful. Stinging words still rang in his ears.:: I will share with you what Ariwyn Vanath showed me. He did not trust himself to share Kelemkor’s mind. Not yet. He hadn’t yet processed that fully. Then with the utmost care he started to open his mind to the experience of telepathically connecting with Ambassador Vananth. He was being careful, trying to limit what he sent to her rather than deluge everything all at once. Alora had been prepared, had a taste of what was to come, but even so, she could not stop the sharp intake of air as the sights and sounds assaulted her. Wavering a little, her hold upon him tightened, and her eyes closed, allowing her to shut off external visual stimuli in order to concentrate on what she was receiving. It helped some, allowing her to focus her energy on dealing with the hand she was being dealt - one that she had requested. Taybrim: I’m sorry… ::He whispered, trying to stave the flood to as slow of a trickle as possible, but even with his Herculean efforts at control, the flood continued.:: Despite his attempts, what he was sharing was unfathomably horrible. Torture, pain, hatred, malice. It wasn’t just that, the emotions that were so contrary to what was so ingrained in Starfleet, so opposite to the desire to help others and seek out their well being, but the way it was presented, the cacophony of images and noise, scenes scattered and out of order, a fantastic and horrifying array of another’s thoughts, ripped from one mind, shared from Ambassador to Captain, now from Commodore to First officer. Alora gritted her teeth, her eyes squeezed ever more tightly, her hold strengthening. Taybrim: ~Let me stop…~ It was a plea. With minds linked, he admitted her control locked with his was an open door, one he could not close without causing pain. He would not cause her pain, and he needed her implicit mental permission to stave off the flow without pain. DeVeau: ~No.~ ****** Determination underscored that single word. How much had he borne and for so long? He’d carried it with him, a man without anyone to commiserate, without anyone to understand, to share it. It was painful, but she had expected that pain, and she didn’t fight it. And yet, even as it flowed into her, the jumble of insanity, the back and forth and mix up of time, everything sort of slammed together in a maddening jumble of thoughts and feelings, Alora had an advantage - one that Sal had given her. She had a map. Originally, what had been shared left everything in a neat and tidy order. While unpleasant, it was nothing compared to the agony that she was receiving now, though even what she received now was pale in comparison to her own past. Still, it was painful, but she pushed through it, unwilling to give in. What he had originally presented her with from their first connection was enough that she could use it, a map to guide everything that was thrown at her, to place what she knew from before properly and use that as a key to find the other pieces of the puzzle. Taybrim: ~please…~ ::Now it was a plea for her to disconnect. A rising agony in his own mind at the pain he was sharing. Agony, shame, pain.:: It was almost like being on the holodeck, but there were multitudes of things flashing through at one time, half were the bits that had been given to her by Sal, playing their way through on one side, the other half the jumble, then between them, they sifted back and forth until it was becoming more cohesive, a single unit, a play that unwound itself in a semblance of order rather than the chaos that had suddenly been thrust at her. Without that guidance of what he’d given her, she would have been unable to sort through it as quickly as she was doing so. Even then, time would be needed, time that she didn’t want to spend right then and there. More inspection, more introspection, more retrospection, all combined to make true sense and give everything it’s proper consideration. And there was where one of the skills that had been taught her came into play, one useful, perhaps used to her detriment more than should be, but in that moment became an act that allowed her to breathe, allowed her the chance to set it aside for the moment so she could thoroughly examine it all in her own time. Gathering it all, what she had processed in those moments - had they been moments, or hours? Time made no mark there in her mind - she swept them away, tucked them behind a door, one where she could turn her back on it, if just for a little while, granting herself a brief respite so she could ponder how to move forward with the knowledge she had suddenly gained. That done, she inhaled, a deep almost gasping breath, and she clutched at him, suddenly realising that she no longer held him with one hand, but with both, her grip almost desperate, leaning into him, her breath quickening from the frantic mental race she had just run. Finally able to withdraw and close his mental shielding tightly around his mind, he leaned forward and wrapped his arms around her shoulders, holding her steady in a gentle, paternal grip. Taybrim: I am sorry. I am so, so sorry… His words were spoken, dripping with pain and guilt. DeVeau: I’m fine. I promise. Sal stayed perfectly still, steady and gentle. As much of a rock as he could be for her. It was the least he could do. Taybrim: Breathe, slowly. Focus on the here and now. DeVeau: Sal… He was so worried about her. Always worried about others. Never about himself. How much more did he hold inside? Was what he shared only the tip of the universe that rest upon his shoulders? She remained in his grip, enjoying the warmth of his hold. Taybrim: That is one of the keys. Here is real, now is real. Everything else is in the mind. DeVeau: You don’t… But his guilt spurred him on, so afraid of what he thought he had done to her. Taybrim: ::He nodded slowly.:: Yes, everything in the mind is equally real. Real, but slippery while here and now is solid. DeVeau: Sal. She didn’t break the hold he had on her. It was far too comforting, not because of what she had experienced, but because such touch had been so rare lately. Instead, she leaned further into it, one hand rising to rest tenderly upon his cheek and guide him so that she could look directly into his eyes . A smile spread across her face, small, but genuine. DeVeau: It’s okay. You didn’t hurt me. She hadn’t felt pain. Not her own pain. No, what she had felt had come from others. From him. She hadn’t meant to cause him pain. That was the last thing Alora wanted to do. He tensed, the knotted feeling of his muscles spreading from his neck, through the shoulders and down into his core. He hated seeing others in pain and loathed causing others pain. But at the moment the mental tempest placed in his mind by Kelemkor was so harsh that all he could sense was pain. His fathomless dark eyes locked with Alora, confusion bleeding through. How could she not sense the pain? Or did she feel it and withstand it? Or did she feel it, endure it, and then give a gentle reassurance that she was fine? Because that’s exactly what Sal would do. Taybrim: Are you sure? He wanted - perhaps needed to know she was OK. Because behind those superior mental shields he was hurting and didn’t have nearly enough time to process it. The last thing he needed was hurting another to weigh upon his conscience. DeVeau: But I’m sorry I hurt you. I didn’t mean to. I never want to… This time he was solid. The tension in his body did not release, but his voice was calm and steady. Taybrim: You did not hurt me. Ambassador Vananth did not hurt me. Do not blame yourself or anyone else for the scars Kelemkor caused. His voice faltered slightly at Kelemkor’s name. The mind that would haunt him for quite some time. Emerald met ebony, seeking, searching. Something was different, more had been left unspoken, the weight no less than before. Perhaps even heavier than before DeVeau: Oh Sal, what did he do to you? Taybrim: Same thing he tried with you ::he murmured:: Flaying the mind open to strip mine the pain. ::he took in a long, slow, breath.:: He didn’t win. The words were confident and honest. But the tone wavered. Kelemkor lost the war, but the battle was gruesome and bloody. Even victors need to recover. Alora took a deep breath then let it out slowly, her voice soft, a half whisper, but confident. DeVeau: You don't have to hold back. Not with me. You can let go with me. He stopped. Almost completely. His body was tight, breath paused, unblinking. This was a role reversal that he didn’t know if he was ready for. He was the Commanding Officer. It was his role to be the bulwark for his crew. But his role was changing. In the past he had easily endured. The poor leadership of Commodore Kinney was a welcome challenge, and even a Court Martial couldn’t flag Commander Taybrim’s focus and commitment. Losing Taelon in a temporal rift had only redoubled Captain Taybrim’s efforts to rescue and protect his friend. A deepening nerve damage condition had put Nijil after Fleet Captain Taybrim to enforce medical attention; something Sal accepted more quickly than Nijil expected - because he easily admitted it was foolish to not tend his health when there was important work to do. Each of his previous First Officers had the benefit of serving at a time when the stakes were lower and the focus was not so tightly on them. But as Sal carried out his do-gooding clean up campaign in the Trinity Sector, notoriety and focus had grown to an uncomfortable degree. Alora DeVeau had the unenviable role of being the first officer to a man in the most difficult of situations, where his ability to protect her was waning and his need for support was growing. He felt ashamed. Taybrim: I can’t. ::he said in a low, serious tone:: He couldn't? Alora didn’t understand, and the only thing she came out was a bare whisper of a word. DeVeau: Why? Taybrim: Alora, it is my job to teach you. To shelter and protect you so you can grow as a leader and succeed. This has been my promise to each of my first officers. ::he paused, his voice heavy with emotion:: It is unfair to burden you with my demons. Is that what he thought? That he had to stand alone? To shoulder everything? To carry the weight of the universe upon his shoulders? After Sal had tapped her as First Officer, Alora had suffered from doubts for the first time in her career. Navigating the strange new office, trying to find the balance between being a friend to her friends and one of their commanding officers had been difficult. And there were still things about that position she still wasn’t sure of. But that? For the first time since she took up that position, Alora was certain of at least one role, and it wasn’t necessarily just as first officer. It was as a person who cared for him. Sal was Commodore. He was the commanding officer of Starbase 118 Ops. He was their leader. Sal was also a regular man. And a friend. That was a word she could use. That was safe. That was something he could be. Something she could be. Whatever she felt, whatever strangeness affected her in her uncertainty with her emotions and where she stood, that was at the most basic and fundamental state of being what he was and what she would be to him - a friend. A tremor rumbled deep within, but she was far too focused, far too determined at that time to let it take any hold. In that moment, it wasn’t about her, it wasn’t about what she felt, what she was struggling with. It was about him. What he needed. DeVeau: Oh Sal...you’ve left out half of it. He pressed his lips together, knowing he had left out far more than half. But he was curious as to which half she was referring to. Taybrim: Which half? DeVeau: The other half of the equation. We protect each other. We help each other. Bear each other's burdens. Alora leaned forward, her brow touching his, eyes unwavering. DeVeau: It is unfair for you to bear it all, to walk this path alone. I want to walk with you. Let me walk with you. He paused and gazed back at her for one, long moment. As if he was reading her, without actually setting forward any telepathy. Taybrim: You ask to bear my burdens, but you keep your burdens to yourself. ::he said gently.:: I would share your load and offer mine, but I will not overburden you. That was why he had originally come. To check in with her. Through the tempest he had not lost sight of his original goal. His words startled her, and like he had done before, she froze. Alora stared at him, her heart reacting by beating in her chest, pounding against her ribs. She had wanted to help him, relieve his burden. He’d turned it around on her. DeVeau: You don’t... Taybrim: It is unfair for you to bear it all and walk your path alone. I want to walk with you. Let me walk with you. Oh yes, he had been listening. Her stomach roiled and her body tensed. Alora had shared very little with anyone beyond Ashley, and even he hadn’t known about, at least not in detail, about some of the things she had experienced. She’d been set upon a path. A choice had been placed before her. First and foremost, she wanted to help Sal. Her relationship with Aron had helped show her the difficulties a Captain struggled with, that he needed someone just like anyone else. She had always tried to be a friend. Always tried to offer her support to others. Now Sal was offering that support, just like Ashley. His approach was different, but there it was nonetheless. Except it was painful. Even with Ashley, she struggled to communicate, struggled to really talk to him. It had taken herculean effort from the counselor for her to even start. And Sal? He was there. Right there. Offering. Offering and using her very own words against her. Her throat constricted and she swallowed, her eyes glistening in the gentle light. Yet she didn’t pull away. Why didn’t she pull away? It had been so easy to do so before. DeVeau: I...I won’t be overburdened. Taybrim: Then you agree to share equally? ::He queried keenly, a diplomat’s gambit.:: Still she lingered, still she remained there, her eyes locked with his, but her emotions had shifted with the tide. DeVeau: My burdens are nothing compared to yours. Taybrim: Burdens are burdens. Comparing their weight is like comparing a targ to a Vulcan astrophysicist. They are so different and each keen in some areas and blunt in others that they cannot be compared. Alora’s breath quickened with the pace of her heart. Uncertainty warred within her and her mouth worked, as if trying to form words, but the words she attempted to conjure flitted away. He missed nothing, however, caught the silence and answered it. His expression was soft, welcoming, but his eyes were sharp. That perception of a Betazoid and a counselor. Taybrim: I understand, Trust is a two way street. I trust easily, backed by my empathy. But I ask for trust in return. Trust? Was it a matter of trust? Was that why she felt so hesitant? Was that why she struggled to talk about it? No. It wasn’t that. DeVeau: I do trust you. And she did. Sal was easy to trust. From the first day she had met him, she’d liked him, found it easy to trust him, both as a Commanding Officer and as a friend. Taybrim: Then what is the roadblock? Alora closed her eyes, shutting out his face, his gaze and trying to grab hold of some sort of control. She had been in control just moments before, but now her foot had slipped and she was struggling to hold it together. DeVeau: It’s not a lack of trust… Maybe that was true. Maybe it was a defense. Sal wasn’t about to call her out on one or the other. He was here to seek understanding. Taybrim: I believe you. But I also believe there is more to it. Her throat tightened further, her words caught in it, choking her voice until they were uttered so quietly that had he not been so close, they would have been lost. DeVeau: It’s just...so hard. He reached a hand out. Taybrim: If you can’t tell me, maybe you can show me? Alora’s eyes closed, clenching shut, wrestling with the idea. Did he know what he asked? Did he realise what he wanted? What he was asking her to do? The very same thing she was asking of him. The question was, could she? Could she be that open with him? Could she share everything? Did he want everything? What was it, exactly, that he wanted of her? Those eyes opened, the emerald darkening as she gazed at him. They remained locked in that strange embrace, touching, but there seemed a mile of space between them. Her eyes held his gaze and she whispered her following query. DeVeau: How much do you want? Taybrim: How much are you willing to show? Alora licked her lips, though her gaze remained unwavering, and the question came again, softer that time. DeVeau: How much...do you want? Taybrim: As much as you are able. ::He paused.:: All of it. ****** Could she do that? Could she give him all of it? Could she truly bare herself like that again? Could she take that risk? Tremors coursed through her, her fingers shook again and once more her eyes closed as she took a breath. Steady. One. A second . Two. A third step. Three. Letting it, she slowly whirled down the slide, and when her eyes opened once again, she was steadier. Her grasp on him tightened and she leaned forward. DeVeau: All right. There was a pause, a breath, a moment, before she gave the caveat. DeVeau: You first. His dark eyes twinkled just a little. Taybrim: I already went. Now you are delaying. Maybe that is not mistrust, but that is fear. He had gone, yes, but he had held back. Now she was holding back. Why was she holding back? Alora’s mouth thinned and her eyes lowered. Taybrim: Fear is difficult and hard to grasp. ::He watched her for a moment:: I do not think you fear me. But I could be wrong. That was an odd thing to say. Frowning, she looked back at him, shaking her head. Fear Sal? Never. Even from the beginning she held no fear in regards to him. Maybe she was strange that way, looking to her superior officers without the same sort of intimidation that others felt - but Sal was not the sort to instill fear, regardless. DeVeau: No. it’s not that at all. Taybrim: Then what do you fear? That was a good question. What did she fear? What she had feared had already come to pass. She lived it. And though they came less often, she still continued to live it, awakening to the sound of her own screaming, the scent of burning metal and the echoes of the memories of pain on the edges of her consciousness. What did she fear? Another deep breath was taken as she tried to figure out an answer. She wasn’t sure she had one. Maybe that was part of the problem. When she finally answered, her voice was soft, and it wasn’t a true answer, but rather an inquiry, a half whispered interrogation. DeVeau: How much do you want? Taybrim: To start? What do you want to show? DeVeau: Of...it. Me. How much do you want? She had already asked that. Why was she asking again? Why was she hesitating? Why was she stalling, turning the same question around and around and around and neve quite giving an answer. Sal took in a long, deep breath. Taybrim: I am never the type to force you to do anything you do not want. You know this, but knowing this has placed us on unequal ground. So I ask you, again, how much are you willing to give? This was the point where he had to openly give her the freedom to choose. How much was she willing to give? That was another good question. One she hesitated to answer, one she struggled with. She hadn’t given much of herself to many people. Even Raissa, who had seen and been through a lot more with her than anyone, hadn’t seen certain depths. Only one person had been given everything. What was she willing to give? Nothing? Something? Everything? She sat there, staring at him, wrestling with her thoughts, her emotions, two sides in conflict, warring with each other, always at odds, never fully vanishing, only going quiet in the face of necessity as life managed to push them into the corners so she could ignore them for a while. Taybrim: Then let me put it this way - I will give you in kind what you give me. Is that fair? That meant she got to set the pace, and the overall sharing. He would follow her lead. And again, how much was she willing to give? He was only asking for the same thing she was asking from him. How much did she want from him? Was it fair to ask that much? Could she give the same in return? DeVeau: Then...let me share with you. Taybrim: Alright ::He tipped his head forward in a gentle nod, holding out his hands to link.:: And there he was. His mind within hers, invited, willing, and welcome. Was he welcome? Yes. He was welcome. This was not an antagonistic presence, but a soothing one. His mind touch was gentle, tender. Perhaps even fearful, but he had nothing to fear. Not from her. But what did she have to fear? Why did she fear? He had asked her that question and she still couldn’t answer. She felt him, accepted him, and welcomed him. It was easy to connect to her, she knew, and she hoped that made it easier on him as well. The difficult part was sharing herself. What would she share? How little? How much? How many doors did she open? How wide did she open them? He was in her thoughts, in her realm. And so she took control, manifested the connection in a way that made sense to her, creating a visual, and there they were. The tangible world, it was still there, but in their mind's eye, there was nothing around them. Nothing but mist, neither pleasant or unpleasant, neither welcoming or foreboding. It was simply there. He stood, a mental image of himself exactly as he appeared in the real world, outside of the kingdom of her mind. She stood with him, facing him, the nothingness surrounding them both. Taybrim: ~Hello~ A simple opening. He mentally waved at her, like a childhood friend waiting to be led around, shown the sights. Her eyes drifted away, peering through the shadowy cloud, as if seeking, searching, trying to pinpoint something, but there was nothing there. What did she want to share? She knew what she wanted him to share. He was only asking for the same thing in return. Should she? Could she? In body and mind, she took another deep breath, another steeling exhale, and when she spoke, her thoughts filled his mind. DeVeau: ~I don’t know where to begin.~ It wasn’t exactly opening up, but with the statement came a foot in the door, an offer, silent permission that allowed him to prod as deeply as he wished, and a silent promise that she would answer without holding back. Taybrim: ~As simple as it sounds, most start at the beginning. You choose where it begins. The easiest memory? The favorite? The most present in your mind? The earliest? All are beginnings~ At the beginning? It made sense, she supposed, but did he want that? What would that accomplish? Yet she had said she would, hadn’t she? Had made a bargain. She would honour that as best she could. She began to walk then, the nothing fading into something, that of the brightness of a childhood, a good childhood, one filled with love and warmth and light. The darkness that penetrated there was nothing, merely moments in time where it seemed all was dark and dim but as through a child’s eyes, an innocence in the suffering that was not truly suffering, simply a rite of passage, though scarring had started, still lingered in fears that plagued her even now, they were overshadowed by the delight that marked the majority of her days. A caring family, one that though it had its own black sheep had nevertheless always loved him, and loved her, and she them in return. Though by no means perfect, even her recollection was idyllic compared to some whose pasts were checked with strife and want. Yet she had never wanted. She had never lacked. There was much that came at him, the passage of days and years coming at him in seconds. They were not what hindered her. She delighted in their recollection, save for a few moments here and there. For the most part, she could breathe freely in that past, rejoice in the gifts she had. Then there was Starfleet, an ever tempting goal that had started as a possibility, then grew into a passion. Her acceptance, her years as a cadet, they flew by, filled with eagerness and anticipation. Her first assignment under Captain Aron Kells, the meeting of Saveron, the ups and downs of missions successful and unsuccessful. The memories of trauma, of pain, of those who had caused that pain, they flashed by, the tide of emotions rising and falling in waves and in response to all the things that had occurred, moments of fear and sadness, moments of triumph and rejoicing. Tenderness, the love she felt for a man and his son, the sisterhood she had with others, some faces familiar, one very familiar among them - that of Chythar, others not, but in her memories, he got a chance to know them, to see them as she see saw them. And the darkness too. It had begun truly in Starfleet, on an early mission, but even that was nothing in comparison with what came after. And it was there she paused, the scene fading, the nothingness returning, and he could sense her hesitation. Her fear. Sal stayed, steady, an observer. He didn’t interfere, he just watched, trying to understand. Taybrim: ~ Is this a stop?~ ::he queried, feeling the entire scene dramatically slow down.:: DeVeau: ~ It’s hard. This part. ~ Not as hard as what had come after, but difficult to make her pause. . Taybrim: ~ Many things are difficult. That is unfortunate, I empathize. But I will offer support. This I can promise.~ It was hard to get through traumatic events - and Starfleet was full of traumatic events. And despite having a counselor on every ship, sometimes such things festered. DeVeau: I made a promise. I gave my word. And there was that fear, the lingering demon that swirled the fathoms below, stirred up, waiting for the moment to strike. In the physical realm, Alora took a deep breath, her mind voice soft. DeVeau: ~You will not like what you see. ~ Taybrim: ~ I do not have to like it ~ ::he thought in an oddly reassuring tone.:: ~I need to understand it. There are things in my own past I do not like. That does not mean they cannot be grappled with.~ She had warned him, her affirmation was given in the revealing of that memory, picking up where she had left off, moving forward, and a name that should have been a welcome one, something denoting a relation, a connection, one either born or forged in love and respect. Yet, the term as presented in that moment made her shudder - The Kindred. And suddenly he was there, experiencing it as she did, the sudden violation of her mind, the searing pain that ripped through her psyche constantly once it invaded. The cruelty of its intent. It used her as well as the flora upon the ship, items that should have been beautiful, twisted and morphed into something nefarious. They grew and grew, taking over the ship. It was Christmast time, a decidedly human holiday, but one that was supposed to be filled with joy and laughter. Instead, he saw a man clad as the jolly old elf snatched in the clutches of monstrous vines, hear the choking cry die upon his lips, the padding of the strange yet playful outfit writing and trembling until it finally deflated. He could feel the tingle in his fingertips and outwardly her own trembling as she re-lived it. He was only the first, most dispatched in the similar way, each one experienced by her, as if she had taken their lives from them, as if she had been the one to do it. Then another, a single young ensign, one who had been as excited as she had with his first assignment, who had endeared himself quickly due to his quick wit and pleasant nature, was caught up by her very own hands. The long, slender fingers curled around his throat, the pulse of his body, desperately trying to pump life into his veins, the gasping of his chest as he struggled to fill his lungs with air that was cut off by her own, relentless grip, the bulging of his eyes, the pounding of his heartbeat that began to slow, and slow, and slow til it fluttered, like a faint whisper against the skin, then faded away. The torturous pain continued to lace through her mind even as the surge of power struck her. Power over life and death, the power to take it away, to have such control over a person’s face, and the sheer awesomeness of that ability surged through her. And she recoiled, recoiled from it, recoiled from the phantoms that cackled in her mind, who lashed at her with a thousand hot irons as they held her firmly in her mental prison, punishing her for her unwillingness to cease her resistance, her struggle that was in vain, and slowly she began to despair. She could still feel the flesh as it folded beneath her grip. It went on. Others were hurt, Rahman captured, strung up like a piece of meat. Where the flora embraced her, it assaulted others, engulfing them in its malevolent embrace. DeVeau: I am the Kindred. We are the Kindred. And it would not be denied. It had encompassed her, swallowed her whole, and she wept within the tortuous cell of her mind they had trapped her in. Aron. They had Aron. And Captain Egan Manno. Egan Manno: A captain protects her family. And she did. She had destroyed them, had been what released them, the agonizing pain of their departure, the blinding anguish was followed by a brief respite of darkness. Yet she could still feel the pulse fluttering against her fingers. Taybrim: ~ A terrible assault ~ ::He murmured quietly, feeling the emotions sink into him. Telepathy was his secondary skill - empathy his primary. His telepathic projection remained calm, stoic, supportive and gentle. But his flesh and blood body rocked, processing the emotions she broadcast.:: She moved beyond that. To her family, to the experiences that came after. To Saveron, his teachings, the beginning of the foundations that started to strengthen her mind. Chythar, Raissa coming behind him. The joys, the sorrows, the heartbreak, the healing, the fortification it all flashed past him and her, a shared experience, one ending where the other began, one beginning where the other ended, together traversing down a road that had already been traveled, and now was traveled again. It got better. It went on, the changing of the guard, the changing of the ship, the new posting, her time in the Shoals, Rahman now Captain, Skyfire with her, Raissa, friends, family that had been with her thick andthen, the tapping for a new, classified mission. The meeting of Eudora and Kalin, the painful standoff, the willingness to teach her, the fortifying of the fortress of her mind, the eagerness of discoveries to be made - real discoveries, ones that could help others, ones that could change the course of medicine, the cynical quips, the teasing responses, the passing of time, time spent with one another, growing closer, their first kiss, their developing closeness, the way their minds touched, the tenderness he showed to no one else but her, his mental presence becoming a constant, the sudden proposal, the subsequent impromptu and informal ceremony, the intimacy shared, the joy that came of it, the continuation of their work, the possible break through and the excitement of the attempt to test it. She trembled, her grip vice like, nails digging into his flesh as the images spurred on, the time moving more quickly, desperate. She faltered, mentally stumbling, the images becoming almost blurred, faces and sounds and smells rushing together into madness. A brief flash of Captain Eudora, her face grim, eyes despairing before blast doors cut off the image. Kalin’s face, klaxon alarms, the acrid smell of some chemical agent, the sting of heat, the roughness of hands grabbing her in desperation, the shadows that consumed her as she was tossed into some large container, the last thing she saw was Kalin’s face before the door hammered shut, the roar of the metal as she pounded against it, the high pitch of her scream, then the sudden, agonizing, searing pain that, like a sword slicing through her, as if her entire body was being ripped apart, mind, body, and soul torn to shreds before she suddenly plunged into the sweet release of darkness. Taybrim: ~They sacrificed themselves? But you survived?~ A heart beat. Strong. Steady. Voices echoed, distant, and images came in a thin line as the light stung her eyes. Someone was speaking to her, calling her name, shadowed forms slowly focusing into familiar faces, the glare of Sickbay lights drowning everything. Then fear. Emptiness. Both gripped her, icy fingers clutching at her heart. All around her, bodies moved, people hurried about, the beep of the computer punctuated the syllables of their words, but she heard nothing, barely saw anything, because something was missing. That presence, the constant companion in the recess of her mind, was gone, a chasm in his place. Kalin was gone. Sal Taybrim was silent for seconds that seemed to stretch to eternity. He had never seen the other side of self-sacrifice. How raw and painful it was. The emptiness, the longing, the survivor’s guilt. An act of pure love, to let one live through sacrifice. And yet it led to unyielding pain. Taybrim: ~ I’m sorry, Alora. ~ He offered the thought as compassionately as he could. Soft and open. He reached his hands out to her. Her breathing came heavily, and he could almost see the roiling of her emotions as she struggled and fought against them, struggling to keep control. She wanted to flee,to fly away, to not face him, not face it, not face any of it, but for once, she dug in her heels. For once, she stayed. She had made a promise. She had fulfilled it. ****** It occurred to Sal, in a slowly evolving thought process, that his own self-sacrificing actions were quite triggering for someone who had lost so much. He started to feel foolish. Taybrim: ~ How long have you carried this burden? ~ How long? It seemed like forever. It clouded everything, overshadowed everything. Even when she was able to shove it aside and focus on life, it was, lingering in the shadows, a pacing dragon ready to strike and lash out without warning. Alora trembled and she took a few more steadying breaths. One. Two. Three. It was an established pattern, a silent mantra that sometimes worked, sometimes didn’t. In that moment, perhaps the soothing presence of the man across from her aiding in its effectiveness. Closing her eyes, she finally answered. DeVeau: ~ A little over a year. ~ Her eyes opened, but it wasn’t necessary. He was still there, she saw him, felt him. She didn’t need to use her eyes. DeVeau: ~How long have you held on to yours? Taybrim: ~ Some of it for days, some of it for decades~ She had to take another moment, had to focus on something else, something other than herself, something other than her own story, her own sorrow. Once again, her hands clutched at him, and she noted the softness of the sleeves, the soft rhythm of his breath, the brightness of his hair, the darkness of his eyes. Breathe, slowly. Focus on the here and now. He had spoken words that had been spoken before, to her, to remind her, to bring her back to the present. Now, they echoed again, that time in his voice. Another series of breaths followed. DeVeau: ~Maybe it’s time you shared it.~ He paused and reached out, hesitating for a moment. Taybrim: ~I mean this when I say this is strictly confidential. But you do need to know.~ Alora frowned. Everything was confidential. That was a given. She knew he would say nothing about anything she’d shared, she would offer the same respect. But something in the way he said it unsettled her . DeVeau: ~It will remain confidential.~ A touch, featherlight like fingertips against her mind. A memory so fresh it was still warm and weeping. An unauthorized trip, through back passages, avoiding all the reporters. Whyever would there be an issue going to one’s own home? Hauke told him to stay on the Narendra. But this was such a small break of orders. He just wanted to retrieve one or two personal effects. He paused at the door, hand over the lock. A momentary bad feeling. Double checking. Nothing. Home. Quarters. Sal had beautiful quarters. Non-standard. Organic curves, hardwood, full of plants. Bathed in a dim golden glow from a table lamp. Peaceful, serene, comforting. He paused in the entryway, body tensing. A return of the bad feeling. Checking again. Nothing. Movement. Eyes locked with his. Hot breath. The whisper of a blade far too close to his kidney for comfort. The form pulled backwards. Another blade. A hiss of air. A spray of blood. Dead eyes. The body of the assassin dropped to the carpet which had a steady stain of green growing across the cream. An accented voice: “You should not be here. No longer safe.” A spike in heart rate, a realization. Assassination. Far too close. Both in time and in how close he came to watching his own murder. There was a long, guilty pause. Taybrim: ~This was six days ago, now.~ For a moment, Alora sat frozen, her eyes wide, and the fear? It shifted, shifted from something that lingered deep within and became focused. It was fear for him. DeVeau: ~Who?~ Taybrim: ~I’m on the Tal Shiar’s hit list~ ::he admitted.:: A foreign feeling welled up in Sal’s chest. Anxiety, discomfort, the seeds of terror that something might be lingering in the shadows at every turn. Terror that bred paranoia. He didn’t like it. He didn’t like checking over his shoulders, he didn’t like the memory of blood spraying across his quarters or coming a hair’s breadth to death. He hadn’t shared as much as she had expected, but what he had was mortifying. She moved. Without thinking, without hesitation, she shifted, pulling herself out of his grasp so that she could encircle her arms around him, drawing him into her embrace, as if by the mere act of doing so could ward off any threat, any danger. DeVeau: ~You’re safe now.~ Hesitation. Pain. A spark of fear that flashed, burned and faded all at once. Taybrim: ~ I’m not. ~ DeVeau: ~You’re safe here.~ Taybrim: ~I am safe, here, in this moment. But when we return to StarBase 118 I am not. There will be another. And another. And another. I do not know what will stop them - if anything.~ He was right. As much as Alora loathed to admit it, he was right. He wasn’t going to be safe once they returned. The Tal Shiar had him in their sites, and they were a particularly deadly foe. Her grip on him tightened. DeVeau: ~Is there an investigation? Has anything been found?~ Would they be able to find anything? Intelligence hadn’t brought anything to her, but would they? Sal hadn’t said anything to her until now. Taybrim: ~Yes there is, it is ongoing, and no. They identified the assassin, and tied it to the Tal Shiar… I’m not sure what else there is to find.~ DeVeau: ~We’ll keep you safe.~ How? Alora had no idea. Absolutely none. All she knew was that she couldn’t allow anyone or anything to hurt him. Taybrim: ~I know you will try.~ He said it with a sorrowful acceptance. He was in no way trying to die. But he was aware that it was a growing possibility. She would try. Alora didn’t want to think about what would happen if she or anyone else failed. Her hold upon him tightened, then loosened suddenly and she withdrew. DeVeau: ~Why didn’t you tell me?~ Hurt seeped through the bond, past his shields. Taybrim: ~Do you think it is easy to rebound and immediately talk about such things?~ He honestly had to process what happened, first - and sleep. He had spent too many insomniac nights immediately succeeding the attempt. She was quiet for a moment, though she winced both inwardly and outwardly at the admonishment, and even more at the hurt that she felt come from him. Alora knew very well the answer to that question. DeVeau: ~No. I know it’s not.~ Taybrim: ~I will be honest with my staff moving forward and allow you to help me. That is the best I can do.~ She wanted to reach out, wanted to draw him close again, wanted to somehow make it all go away. But she couldn’t. Alora had no power. And she hated it. DeVeau: ~I wish I could fix this.~ Taybrim: ~I know. But it is both within our hands to be careful and far outside our reach to control.~ She knew that, but that didn’t stop her from wanting it, but that was far beyond Alora’s power. DeVeau: ~What can I do?~ He seemed quite plain in his initial thought process. Taybrim: ~Keep doing what you are doing. You are a tremendous help on StarBase 118.~ Quickly she shook her head. DeVeau: ~No. What can I do to help you?~ A pause and what seeped through the link was a deep, overwhelming exhaustion, laced with an undercurrent of loneliness. Taybrim: ~I’m not sure. I’m tired. But I have to keep going.~ She was familiar with that as well. She knew those emotions, those feelings. Alora was far too acquainted with them. She hesitated again, uncertain. Her own trials, her own troubles were pushed aside for the man in front of him. Slowly, she reached out again, her fingers lightly dancing over the back of his hand. DeVeau: ~You’re not alone.~ She’d heard the same thing, had been offered to her as well, but with the link between them, he could sense the depth of sincerity in each word as she uttered them. She wasn’t much, and maybe she was useless in dealing with the Tal Shiar, but if nothing else, she could offer that. Taybrim: ~ I know. ~ Slowly, he backed out from the telepathic bond. Not due to avoidance, or pain, but she could feel his concentration fray and mental exhaustion set in. What was once his baseline communication form was now an exhausting endeavor, and he was sitting far lower in the chair than before. Taybrim: I know ::He murmured.:: Did he know? She hoped so. Once more, Alora withdrew, her hand retreated and she clasped it to the other one. Taybrim: I’m tired. The words just fell from his mouth, simple, honest, plain. DeVeau: You should sleep. Could he rest? Would he really sleep? Alora wasn’t sure she was going to sleep herself that night. She slid her arms over each other, as if warding off a chill. Taybrim: I should. And so should you. ::He said with a weariness that indicated it would be difficult for both. DeVeau: I should. There was no question of whether or not she should. It was more whether or not she would. There was a new reason to fear, a new nightmare that would join the old. Her gaze lifted, meeting his and for a moment it seemed as if she would say more, but no words came. Instead, her eyes drifted away and toward the door, then back to him, and whatever she might have said before shifted into something completely different. DeVeau: Do you want me to walk you to your cabin? He paused and considered, and the words he chose were unexpected, even for him. Taybrim: Neither of us will be sleeping tonight, will we? Alora offered a half smile, but there was no real humour in it. DeVeau: No. Taybrim: It is not unusual when your mind is too full. Hers had been too full for some time. There were periods where it was better, where she was able to rest, able to sleep. But then… DeVeau: It’s...been that way for a while. Taybrim: Then let’s walk. Walk until the body has no choice but to sleep. Walk. If only it were that simple. Still, it was better than sitting there trying to distract herself, even with things she enjoyed. Better than running through the scenes over and over and over again, only to have them end the same way every time. Or now, with the new nightmare, into the possibility of what could happen in the future. That was just as frightening. A moment of silence stretched between them, but finally Alora nodded. DeVeau: Let’s walk. It wouldn’t solve anything, but at least she wouldn’t be leaving him alone. At least for a little while longer. Taybrim: Maybe if we walk until the sun rises, we’ll understand that there is yet hope. ::he murmured, getting to his feet.:: Sometimes it didn’t feel that way. Sometimes, when the darkness closed in and the shadows clutched at the throat, when the nightmares hammered night after night, when the fear threatened to utterly consume, it didn’t feel like it at all. Except she had to remember that was just a lie, a lie the mind told because it was too wrapped up in it all. She’d fallen into that trap. She didn’t want to fall into it again. Rising, she nodded, speaking the words she knew to be true, even if it was hard to remember that truth. DeVeau: There is always hope. He offered an arm out for her. A chance for something to hold. Something to lean on. Taybrim: The sun will always rise again. Her hand slowly slid through his arm, but she gave as much as she took, leaning and offering herself for him to do the same. The smile that fluttered over her lips was small, but a light shone within it. Deveau: Then let us watch it rise together. Taybrim: Lets. It wasn’t much, but it was a thin comfort. And sometimes thin comfort and the promise of hope was better than none. ****** Commodore Sal Taybrim Commanding Officer StarBase 118 Ops E239010ST0 & -- Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau First Officer Starbase 118 Ops al...@blar.net M239008AD0
  20. A really interesting and well written introspective after the horror of our last Skarbek mission, and an ominous way to conclude at the end. Well done, skipper! ----- ((Resort Villa, Cochtois Lagoon, Deluvia IV)) Music drifted through the open windows of the beachside villa, a distant bass line thumping. A party in its twilight hours, while the moon crept toward its peak in a twinkling sky. The occupants of the villa didn't hear it, curled up in their beds between fresh, soft sheets. Exhausted after a long day spent running around after an ebullient six-year-old intent on enjoying every activity on offer. Quinn rolled over in her sleep, throwing her arm across the broad chest of the German slumbering next to her. Perhaps it was the lingering effects of the psychic parasite, some remnants of its energy still crackling in the gyri and sulci of her brain. Perhaps it was her own subconscious trying to process exactly what she'd experienced. Whatever the reason, her sleeping mind brushed against her partner's, tangling and intertwining, until two dreams merged into one. ((Once Upon a Dream: Peshkova Colony, Demilitarised Zone)) Wind whispered through the long grasses and wildflowers on the outskirts of the colony, flames crackling and snapping around the charred logs of the bonfire. The Skarbek was a black shadow against the stars, the aging raider landed in green fields, clicking and creaking as the thick metal of the patchwork hull cooled in the evening breeze. The last of the crew stumbled away toward a bed for the evening—some collapsing into their own, some visiting another's—leaving two people still staring into the dying flames. Quinn sat on the ground, leaning back against a log, sipping from a bottle of beer. Walter next to her, perched on the same log, sipping from his hip flask. They sat in silence, minutes compounding upon minutes, until he voiced the question on both of their minds. Brunsig: Do you know why he did it? Quinn drew in a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. The question had been on her mind for days, and she liked each answer she came up with less than the last. She'd played and replayed their time in the prison, reliving that hell over and over in search of some sign he'd been close to the edge. Instead of trying to move on from the experience, she'd pulled it closer, and pushed it under the microscope; paying the toll in sleepless nights and horrors seared on the insides of her eyelids. Reynolds: If you'd made me put money on someone doing something like that, it would have been Kos. We worried about him for a while there. Brunsig: That's not what I asked. Not it was not. Another long breath, lungs filled with nature and smoke, and she took a draught from her beer. She could feel the fading warmth of the fire on her face, but it was nothing like the oppressive heat of the prison barge. A soft caress, rather than a closed fist. Shame that the memories themselves were nowhere near so gentle, and she took another slug of beer to wash away the lump in her throat and cool the ache in her chest. Reynolds: After Kos shot the—::she corrected herself, knowing the man's name now::—shot Tirok, Serren admitted he'd killed someone in the past. Mikali sh'Shar? Brunsig: Banshee? We wondered why she dropped off sensors. Was a pain in the [...] until the Klingons picked up the slack. Reynolds: Well, she worked with her wife, who vanished around the same time. I didn't put two and two together before now, but she was a Trill, too. Safine Tan. One reason they got on so well was their ability to follow each other's train of thoughts, even when left unspoken. Quinn didn't need to finish the explanation; she'd marked out the dots, and he drew the lines between them. A picture drawn with mutual understanding. Embers snapped and popped in the fire, flames reflected in hazel and blue, until the words emerged with quiet, German precision. Brunsig: You think he killed her and took the symbiont? Reynolds: I'm just saying it would explain a lot. He would have been fighting his own mind the whole time, which accounts for all the... quirks. ::She paused.:: It could explain why he seemed to think we're like that, too. Easier to live with yourself when you believe everyone's as willing to pull the trigger as you are. Maybe it was too difficult to live with himself when he finally realised we're not. He shook his head and lifted the flask to his lips, letting her words percolate through. It was tough to believe, but it was the only clean line she could draw through the data she had. It was a shame it did nothing to scrub away the guilt; she'd been too quick to tend to her own needs, falling into a shower and a bed with nary a thought for checking on anyone else. Brunsig: Scheiße. Reynolds: It's just... We fought so hard to get everyone out of the prison, there were so many times it would have been easier to leave him behind. Even he said as much, and then... ::She ran her fingers through loose waves of her hair, and exhaled the ache blooming behind her ribs as a brief, humourless laugh.:: What was the point? Brunsig: We can't save everyone. Especially the ones who don't want to be saved. After a moment's thought, he stuffed the hip flask into his pocket and pushed himself off the log. Taking a seat on the ground next to her, he lifted his arm and wrapped it around her shoulders. Just as she'd sat and offered comfort after they'd rescued him, Soup and Valesha from the Cardassians, so he returned the favour. An expression of solidarity and support. Yet Quinn swallowed, feeling heat on her face which had nothing to do with the bonfire ahead. Brunsig: It is what it is. ::He paused, frowning into the middle distance.:: Hell, maybe we lucked out. If you're right, it means he didn't have a problem murdering the people he associated with. A grimace wrinkled her freckles at the indelicate observation, but she'd be lying if she said the same thought hadn't occurred to her. Quinn didn't know why Tan had killed the smuggler or exactly how he'd become a host, but there were few explanations that offered comfort or reassurance. Something had made him pull the (proverbial?) trigger, and they had no idea if that same thing could have repeated among their company. A sigh flowed out of her lungs, and she pinched the bridge of her nose, massaging the frown away. So many questions, the answers vaporised in the flash of a disruptor rifle, leaving nothing behind but guilt, doubt and frustration. Reynolds: It's Tan I feel sorry for. The symbiont, I mean. However Serren became its host, chances are it was traumatic. It's not like it had much of a choice in any of this, and then to die because... She trailed off and shrugged helplessly. The complexities of Joining and the responsibilities of host to symbiont and symbiont to host were not something she knew much about. Suicide was was always a tragedy, and with a Joined Trill it claimed two lives. But what happened if one was committed to that path and the other was not? Where did the host begin and symbiont end? Brunsig: We'll hike up to Memorial Rock tomorrow. Put something down, say a few words for him. Them. ::He paused and then a grumble rumbled out of his chest.:: And then we're performing an exorcism on the helm controls, because I'll be damned if our pilots aren't cursed. Quinn breathed out a wisp of a laugh, a fragile and gossamer thing that choked out in the back of her throat and made her eyes burn. Shaking her head, she drained the last of her beer and the bottle landed with a clatter of clinks in the enormous pile of empties. The communal fire of despair had seen many a drunk these past few days. Brunsig: Life's hard enough as it is, Quinn. Don't drag his carcass around with you. Do you regret getting him out of there? Reynolds: No. Brunsig: Remember that. You did right by your own conscience, whatever he did in the end. You've got control of no one's choices but your own. If there were words to answer him, she didn't know them. He drew in a deep breath, and to her surprise, he hooked an arm under her knees, pulling her against his chest. Quinn buried her face in his shoulder, the breeze chill against the damp on her cheeks, and held on. Close enough to smell the woody spice of his skin, and the late night stubble on his jaw scratched against her temple. But what started as an offer of comfort flowed into something else, as if the tide receded to reveal the secrets of the seabed beneath. Time elongated like pulled glass, each second a glittering, fragile moment, each waiting for the other to break it. Her hand on his chest, the drumroll of his pulse raced underneath her palm, and her own beat a similar tattoo. After a moment's hesitation, he wrapped his fingers around hers. A tender gesture, far more intimate than appearances might imply. Skin brushed against skin, thoughts brushed against thoughts, and Quinn sucked in a sharp breath as her mind touched his. An invitation into the guarded core of who he was, where he laid bare a depth of feeling she hadn't realised existed. Her world became silk and cinnamon and the low notes of a viola, and she had the measure of his heart, just as he now had hers. Reynolds: You're a dark horse, Walter Brunsig. Brunsig: I have my moments. Binary stars, locked into their interstellar dance, falling toward one another. She squeezed his fingers, her touch creating spirals of electric sensation that crackled through them both, and smiled at the way his thoughts shifted like a kaleidoscope. Her Deltan heritage was something she often struggled with, but there were times... She lifted her gaze to meet his. Hazel locked with blue, and heat blossomed out from the centre of her chest, rushing over her shoulders to pool at the base of her spine. She knew exactly how the rest of their night would play out. Perhaps he did, too, a small smile curling at the corners of his mouth as he dipped his head, his lips meeting hers in a first kiss. Ending the first movement in their symphony, beginning another, scored that night in soft sighs, low moans, and murmured affections. ...And in the real world, the two lovers slumbered through the deep of night, until the golden light of dawn chased their dreams of a Maquis life back into the darkness. Until the next time. -- Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0 & Captain Walter Brunsig Commanding Officer USS Triumphant
  21. I really loved this sim! The insights into Meru's current state of mind completely captured me, and the beautiful and thoughtful world-building around Iyira was just fantastic; so many evocative details that really brought the city to life. Such a wonderful read. 💖 ((Emerald Reef Hotel, Deluvia IV)) Tahna Meru was awake. Tahna Meru was a Starfleet scientist. Tahna Meru was reciting these affirmations over and over in her head as she stared at the colorful schools of fish outside her bedroom window, coming down from the panicked high of another Skarbek nightmare. She counted the affirmations on the seaglass beads on her touristy twine bracelet. Awake. Starfleet. Awake. Her heartrate eventually slowed and she let go of the bracelet. She had planned to do something today, what was it? She pulled up her notes from the night before on her PADD -- explore Iyira, right. On the surface, the idea of exploring an underwater city seemed weird and dangerous, but she reasoned it was no different than living in space and anyway her underwater hotel room hadn't drowned her yet. And hadn't she joined Starfleet to explore strange new worlds? So far the strangest world she'd explored was Earth, everything since then had been a kidnapping or a nightmare. So Iyira it was. Her hair was still braided into a crown from the day before, mostly because she was too lazy to do anything else with it at the moment. She threw on a pair of sandals and a loose green dress she'd bought on Bajor, before the Academy. Before she signed up for a lifetime of trauma. Joining Starfleet was beginning to seem like a pretty bad decision. Iyira wasn't far, close enough for a Selkie or anyone else with the proper skills and gear to swim comfortably. Meru was not equipped with the proper skills or gear, so she had the option of transporting down to the city or taking one of the public submarines that shuttled back and forth from the Lagoon she was staying at to the capitol. She opted for the sub. Maybe she'd take a transporter back to her room, but she might as well take the scenic route to get there. They passed over the reef and dove along a path marked with anchored, floating lights. Just outside of the marked path she saw a colorful group of Selkies swimming -- their equivalent of going on a jog, she supposed. The submarine passed myriad schools of fish eventually stopping at a landing to let its passengers off into part of the city full of breathable air made possible by the force fields holding back tons of salt water. ((Iyira, Deluvia IV)) It was breathtaking. She followed the passengers from her sub down the footpath until it widened to reveal a city. She hadn't been expecting underwater skyscrapers -- what would a skyscraper that doesn't reach into the sky even be called, anyway? -- or as many colors of buildings as there were colors of coral. Where was she going again? She pulled up the map she'd downloaded to her PADD the night before -- Ichiya Market, maybe eight blocks away, though the city architecture flowed so gracefully she wasn't sure "blocks" was the right term either. She oriented herself and set off through the city toward the market, avoiding the roads that dove into water for the amphibious residents. She was nearly there when she saw someone she recognized from the Gorkon. She thought briefly about ducking her head and avoiding her, but her therapist wanted her to try making more friends. He had pointed out that they had all been through the same trauma so there was no need for her to feel different and shut herself off from them, and hopefully she would be on the Gorkon a good while longer and she should know the people she was working and living with. So she took a deep breath, rubbed the bracelet on her wrist, and smiled and waved. Tahna: Hello! Namura: Response Tahna: I was heading to this market-- Ichiya Market? You're welcome to join me. Namura: Response -- Ensign Tahna Meru Science Officer USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) G239801TM4
  22. (( Federation Dilithium Mine - Backsim )) The Saurian crouched down to sneak up to the area where the noise came from and peeked around the corner. His large eyes scanned the area. Jalana watched him with a frown, hearing more phaser fire and a loud thud. It took a moment before Camdar came back. Trex: Two pirates, four officers: Pascal, Strixx, Manfredi and Vok. They are covered in blood and are clearly injured, two looked unconscious or dead. But the pirates appear to be in a frenzy and seemingly unimpressed with being hit by the phasers. Nugra: Well, that's not a good sign. T'Seva: Drugged? Miner: Yeah sometimes they were like that, aggressive and reckless, like they were high. Jalana thought back to a past mission when they had faced the Syndicate. Back then they had occupied a planet to harvest treesap that was the main ingredient for a rather popular street drug. Rajel: Hrm.. 'All time high' caused hallucinations and a high, but it didn't cause that reaction. Nugra/T'Seva/Officers: response Rajel: It would fit the description. If the highest stun settings don't work... Nugra: We might be dealing with a different strain of something. T'Seva: Blacklight? That causes aggression. Jalana sighed and nodded. She didn't like that thought but she had to protect her people, if two of them were down and all of them injured they had to act now. And she knew she couldn't. She hadn't even been able to shoot at the man who had attacked her a while ago. She had to leave that to the pros. Rajel: Do it. Shoot to kill. She exchanged glances with both Nugra and T'Seva. They knew her well enough to know what that meant. Do it for me. She wouldn't but even if she wanted to, she couldn't. But knowing that they had officers down, Jalana would rather take care of them anyway. They saw their preparations and had to remind herself that it was necessary. Nugra: I recommend you stay near me or T'Seva, Commodore, so that you won't have to use your weapon. She nodded to him, grateful for having her back like that and opened her Medkit to retrieve the Tricorder to have it ready immediately. The other medical officer did the same and they gave each other a nod. Rajel: Be careful in there everyone. It usually went without saying but she felt better to do it anyway. Nugra: On three. A deep breath, listening to the groans and shots from next door. Nugra: One. A wild scream like an angry animal ready to pounce its prey. Nugra: Two. She could see Nugra's muscles tense up. Nugra: Three! And off they went. Jalana waited a moment with the other medical officer, allowing Nugra, T'Seva and the Security detail to draw attention first. Phaser and Rifle fire shot through the room. Jalana turned to the medical officer. Rajel: What's your name. She really wanted to know for some reason. A sudden urge. There were so many people on the ship and no matter how much she tries she couldn't know them all. She wanted to know who she was working with. Why now and not earlier? Who knew. Han: It's Soo Mi, Ma'am. Han Soo Mi. The Trill nodded and smiled at the woman who reminded her of Ji-hu. Maybe they came from the same region on Earth. Rajel: Call me Jalana. Keep your head down in there. Let's find the downed officers and get them out of the line of fire. Han: Got it Ma... Jalana. They nodded at each other again and then Jalana gestured for them to get in. She crouched down and entered the 'fray'. Looking around she immediately spotted one of the downed officers. She gestured to Soo Mi that she was going that way. A nod in return and Jalana moved quickly, glad she had changed into pants, which made this easier. She slipped behind cover and peeked around the edge waiting for a pause in shots before she quickly rushed to the other side. She saw the Officer and looked to the raging pirates that kept the others busy. Soo Mi had found the other one and was on her way to him. At the right time Jalana jumped forward, reached for the sleeve of the officer and pulled him behind cover. She knew very well it could cause injury if she did not check on him first, but if they remained in the line of fire they could both go down. The medical team could fix injuries but not death. But as she opened her Tricorder and looked down at the scan she realized she didn't have to worry about that. Her face hardened with a grim expression as her hand hastily wandered to his neck trying to find a pulse. Rajel: Come on Vok. ::She mumbled and her fingers ran along the side of his neck, desperate to find just one throb.:: I didn't dismiss you yet. But he didn't reply, didn't move and no matter how hard and where she checked for any sign of life, be it pulse, reaction in his eyes or other, there was nothing. If she interpreted the readings correctly, he had been dead for at least five minutes already. A shot in the back. Jalana's shoulders slumped and she placed her hand on the man's cheek, patting it slightly. Rajel: Rest now. She whispered and bit her lip before she raised her eyes, staring at the piece of wall in front of her as she took a few deep breaths to calm herself down. If she cried now that wouldn't help anyone. The sounds of the struggle around her were a clear sign of that. Davis: =/\= This is Lieutenant Lazarus Davis. Syndicate members, we have recaptured with facility. There is a Galaxy class starship out there, and the–the Theseus and Minotaur have been destroyed. You are at our mercy. Any remaining Syndicate operatives, lay down your arms and gather in the mess hall. You will not be harmed. All teams: shuttles have been signaled, prepare to return to the Constitution. Davis out. =/\= The voice sounded weird, metallic and distorted but she recognized it as Lazarus. She hoped that the pirates would follow his words, she had the feeling that the ones in here would not. She saw though that they were confused. Definitely drugged. But then jumped back into action. Nugra: Watch out! Nugra's sudden shout made her look in his direction, she couldn't see what he referred to but he quickly moved and stood in front of Camdar and then a loud bang and an explosion rattled the room and threw her off her knees. Her ears rang and or a moment she felt disoriented but as she found grasp a thought again it immediately went to Nugra, then to the others. It was silent now for a moment, then there was a groan, a woman. Who was it? She looked up from behind her cover. What she saw first was a mountain of lizardy skin with red wet spots. Blood! Her eyes widened and she was about to sprint off when she remembered pirates but she couldn't hear them. Carefully she rose and peeked over the edge and as she could not see them she stretched her legs and looked to where she had seen them last. It looked like the explosion had hit them as well, even if they were still alive they would be suffering hell. Seeing at that they wouldn't fight her that easily she quickly rushed towars Nugra. Rajel: T'Seva! Are you okay? ::calling out:: ((OOC: Cleared that with T'Seva beforehand )) T'Seva: response Hearing her voice was a relief. She slid across the floor and came down on her knees next to Nugra as she called out to the other woman. Rajel: Check on the pirates. Make sure they don't attack us again. If they were still able to that was. T'Seva: response She looked down at the Gorn and found the Saurian under him, but he was already crawling out from under the mountain of a man. Jalana ran her tricorder along his body and exhaled. Rajel: He is alive but badly hurt. He's losing blood, open wounds, organ damage, his blood pressure is unstable... ::She trailed off and then reached into the medkit to retrieve a hypo to stabilize him. She could see that he was unconscious but this would keep him out of it so he wouldn't move and make things worse.:: We need to get him to the ship.:: She looked up and two of the other officers who looked worse for wear nodded and ran out. She knew they would retrieve the antigrav units for transports.:: T'Seva: response Rajel: Soo Mi what about Manfredi? No answer. Rajel: Soo Mi? A small groan and Camdar had freed himself and was up on his feet, he limbed and didn't look good but he could walk and was rushing to the medic's side. He covered Jalana's view. Trex: We're here... keep calm. The words and the non reply alarmed Jalana and she got up to head over and there she saw it. Soo Mi was next to Manfredi, and a large shard of debris had hit her body in a way that it cut right through her. Her face was pale and there was blood, not enough for that kind of wound, but scrapes and cuts over her skin where other pieces of debris must have hit her. An unseemly Trill cuss came over her lips and she dropped down next to her immediately taking her vitals that were rapidly dropping. She had internal injuries and there was no time to get her to the ship for the surgery she needed, she was fading already. T'Seva: response Rajel: Soo Mi, we are here. We'll get you back to the Conny you hear? Soo Mi: ::barely whispering:: Manfre... The Saurian had checked on his colleague and his huge eyes looked down to the medical officer. His translator doing all the heavy work today. Trex: He's alive. I'll check on Nugra let you know if his condition changes. ::With that he headed over to the Gorn.:: T'Seva: response Soo Mi smiled, a shake of her lips and it looked a bit like a grimace, her body started to shiver, the pain spiking even on the tricorder display. Jalana put the tricorder on the floor and reached into her medkit with her free hand, trying to remain calm. She wanted to fight for her, make sure she would see the ship again. But if her work in the Emergency room had shown her something, it was that sometimes you couldn't do anything. The damage was too extensive to do anything here with the means she had. If they had a field medic maybe. But they hadn't. The surgery needed had to be done on the ship and it would take over half an hour to get to it even if they hurried. Anything over 10 minutes would be too late. She hated it, but if she couldn't help her, she could make sure she wouldn't die alone. Rajel: I'll give you something for the pain. ::The Hypo hissed against the woman's neck who visible relaxed.:: Jalana patted her hand gently and fought the tears, trying to smile for the woman who even now had worried more about Manfredi than her own. T'Seva: response Soo Mi's eye lids became heavy, Jalana saw her try to keep them open but in the end she failed. Her breath came ragged. Rajel: You did well, Soo Mi. Rest. We'll get you home. As if she had waited for those words the body of the young woman went limb and the only reason her arm didn't drop to the floor was that Jalana still held it. Her eyes dropped to the Tricorder before she closed the display and closed her eyes with a deep breath and carefully placed Soo Mi's hand down before she stood up. T'Seva: response Rajel: The injuries were too bad, she wouldn't have made it even to the shuttle. I didn't want her to go in fear. T'Seva: response The hurried steps of the officers pulled her attention and they brought the antigrav units in from the shuttle that was still waiting outside. They brought one right over to Nugra and began to work on putting him up on it. The surviving officers were able to walk so Jalana indicated where Vok was and stepped aside to make room to get Soo Mior too. The Trill felt tired, and defated. But they couldn't just stand here and stop functioning. She raised her green eyes to T'Seva and reached out with a hand trying to grab her forearm for a squeeze. Rajel: Let's get them home. T'Seva: response And that was what they did, in silence. The events of the day hanging in the air pressing down on them. Though she stayed at Nugra's side, constantly checking for his vitals. She was not losing him too. ----- Commodore Jalana Rajel Commanding Officer USS Constitution B Image Team Co-Facilitator A238906JL0
  23. ((Junior Officer’s Quarters – USS Constitution-B)) The atmosphere was warm, dry and lit dimly by the ambient lights that cycled on the power saving mode of a ship deep within its own internal repair cycle. And like the ship that sheltered them from the black and cold of the vacuum of space, so many of its passengers were broken and battered either in body, mind or spirit – sometimes all three – and cycling down to rest, relax and desperately repair. A thin haze of incense wafted through the room, a soft scent of musk and sand. It reminded him of his home world – one of them. Like the high arid plains of Vulcan. The solo figure knelt in the center of the room, a few thin regeneration patches for some low-grade electrical burns were the only badges of injury he visibly bore on his thin form. Some might say he had been lucky. He might agree. And yet his mind still pounded with a continual cycle of pain. Sometimes sharp and stabbing, more often dull and throbbing. Like waves crashing on the shore there was an ebb and flow, eased by sleep and hydration to a point, but always creeping back up in short order. Doctors assured him the mild head trauma would heal. There was always a trackable amount of cranial swelling and blood vessel changes that caused temporary pain. They offered analgesics. He had accepted, but was careful to take them, wanting to settle some of his rampant thoughts before he muted himself too much with drugs or sedatives. Taking a deep breath in, he was still. Trying to feel the weight of his body, concentrate on where his body was in contact with the deck and where his hands rested on his legs. Still. Breathe. ~Disconnect from your thoughts.~ He tried to pull back, allow his thoughts to move freely across his mental landscape and sit as an observer. This was a technique that had given him clarity in the past, allowing him to objectively visualize his emotions and understand what caused them and how to understand them more. ~Stay back and observe~ His breath hitched in his throat as he felt his consciousness sinking into a vast black pit. It was not the calm disconnect from his thoughts and emotions that he usually was able to achieve with time and effort, but a violent jerk backwards as if black tentacles were reaching out from an inky depth to pull him under. He felt like he was drowning. He could feel his heartrate spike and his face grew hot. His airway constricted to make each breath labored as he tried to draw it through his swollen throat and his mind twisted that into the feeling of sucking in tar. Pitching forward from his meditative position, he started coughing, but no water drained from his mouth. One hand formed a claw around his chest, digging in as the coughing fit rose in intensity until finally it reached a hoarse guttering rasp. Tears drained from his eyes and a ghost echoed through his brain. Her laugh. Her damnable laugh. It wasn’t stuck like a thorn in his psyche anymore, just a haunting memory. If he lingered too long on it, he could visualize himself falling down that well of interminable stairs, with her laughing at the top. Falling, always falling. Falling into a void where his calm should be. Placing both hands on the floor, he pitched forward in a tabletop position and tried to concentrate. To stop the floor from spinning underneath him. A wave of vertigo and nausea ran through his body as the room twisted giddily, and no amount of carefully controlled breathing exercises stopped it. A small whine escaped his lips and he slowly sank to one side and hugged his knees to his chest waiting for it to pass. ~why?~ He was trying to find center. To seek calm and see things objectively. To do things the Vulcan way, the way his grandfather had lectured on, the way that would make him controlled and logical. But all he wanted to do was sob like a stupid Human baby. Scream and yell and let the tears flow freely while swimming in a tidal wave of emotions that he could barely process. He wanted for someone to tell him it would be OK. Not now, not soon, but eventually. That with time it would ebb and recede and maybe, he would start to understand and grow stronger. He compromised. Tears wet his knees as he struggled to control his breathing and strive for control. A little bit of both. Just enough to stave away the panic, not enough to feel a full release of the building pressure of emotion that he couldn’t process in his usual ways. He was used to coming back to his quarters, expressing emotion, meditating, finding center and objectively gaining understanding. He had gotten much better at processing emotions in this way during his academy years, going from a deeply introverted, highly emotional first year cadet to a fairly stable, respected, friendly fourth year cadet known for his ability to work well with others. Each meditation was a step upwards and forwards, a chance to gain a better understanding of emotions and how to balance them with logic. But now everything was thrown out of balance. He had more emotions to process than he could possibly comprehend, and his tried and true methods of processing them weren’t working. Clearly not working from the fact that he was balled up on the floor of his quarters. Breathe… Breathe… Breathe. Slowly the room slowed and came to a stop. His head still hurt, but the feeling of sucking tar into his lungs was gone. He kept his eyes closed as he pushed himself back to his knees and pressed the palms of his hands into the sockets of his eyes, digging his thumbs into the pressure points at his temples until the pain faded. Ironically it was in these recovery periods where he felt the most grounded, focusing solely on stillness and breath, after the emotional wave was spent. Maybe he should take the medications? He wavered on that. He had to eat first. Eating sounded disgusting after the room-spinning nausea. Maybe he should drink something. That he might be able to handle. Slowly, getting equilibrium under him, he took tentative steps to the replicator and ended up with a warm mug of mellow, unsweet tea. Breathe. Drink. The doorchime rang and he straightened as if prodded with one of those electrical rods at full power, mug slipping from his hands. A deep olive shade of shame colored his cheeks as he dropped to his knees to pick up the pieces. So’Mior: Enter…? Saveron: ? He looked up, his dark eyes fixed on the doorway. The scent of meditation incense still lingered in the air, the rug was covered with the familiar slightly bitter scent of Mika, a traditional calming tea. Everything else was perfectly in its place, save the occupant. A rumpled uniform and bedraggled hair bespoke little sleep and too much movement for comfort. An unsettled mind. His eyes fixed on the older Vulcan and his jaw tightened against a new wave of emotion. Was he relieved? Embarrassed? Both? All at the same time he wanted the support and succor of someone to help guide him through this and yet was ashamed of his own state at the moment. He opted for soft politeness that was offset by his rather precarious position in gathering up the pieces of the teacup. So’Mior: Commander, greetings. Please, come in. Sit? His fingers fumbled for the last piece of shattered mug, rolling it along the wet rug instead of picking it up gracefully. And, like his scattered thoughts he finally captured it and got it with the others to take to the recycler. Saveron: ? So’Mior: I was startled. ::He stated it as honestly as possible. Not ‘you startled me’ – there was no reason to find anger nor fault in a doorchime. No, the fault – and the fault lines – were drawn within him.:: It will mend. He placed the pieces in the recycler and watched them fade into raw materials. Saveron: ? Slowly he turned towards the first officer, his expression was lost and searching. So’Mior: I… I don’t know. Saveron: ? Finally he moved himself from his lean by the recycler to a chair, which he sank down into with a steady exhausted bonelessness. So’Mior: I can’t… I can’t process it. I can’t find calm. I try and I feel like I’m drowning. If the hoarse tone to his voice said anything, feel like might be eerily accurate. Saveron: ? ~*~ tags/tbc ~*~ pNPC Ensign So’Mior Science Officer USS Constitution-B
  24. First let me start by saying I am not really impartial here. Sherlock joined me in my return cruise and I have enjoyed her life around the fleet. But this sim really got me by surprise, and I think it deserved it's place here. ((OOC: trigger warning: there is talk concerning abortion in this sim. Continue on at your own risk.)) ((Officer's Lounge, Deck 19, Deep Space 224)) Aine had spent the day avoiding public spaces. She was nervous enough to agree to meet Mel, running into him would have just made things worse. She wished she hadn't arrived early. The minutes felt like lifetimes. She wondered what Mel wanted to talk about. Her worst nightmare was that he would want to rekindle their relationship. She sipped at her water and sincerely hoped he'd be late so she'd have an excuse to leave. But no luck there, for there he was. He approached and everything felt like it slowed, save for her breathing which quickened. Walking up to the table, he handed her a single purple dahlia, her favorite. She took it and stared at it for a moment, it's many petals standing out in the dim lights of the lounge. Martinson: May I? ::gesturing to the chair opposite her:: Aine's eyes shifted back and forth. Sherlock: Of course. Martinson: ::settling into the seat:: Can we...can we just start over for a moment? Sherlock: We can try. Martinson: Ok. Well, how are you? How are you finding your time in the fleet? Sherlock: I'm good. Things are good. I'm ::beat:: making friends with some of my shipmates. The work can be tough, but I'm enjoying it. Martinson: That's good. I've read a couple mission reports from the Resolution. ::laughing behind his words:: You guys' have seen some stuff. Sherlock: You could say that. :: shrugging with her hands:: Just another day in the Fleet, right? Aine watched as the normally overly confident man seemed jittery and nervous. His hands clasped on the table. He appeared to be trying hard to not anger Aine...again. She almost felt bad for him. She decided to show him she was going to be civil. Sherlock: Um...what about you? You got assigned to the...Gle... Martinson: Glenn, yeah. Still there. Nothing quite as exciting as your ship. But, we're more diplomacy focused. Mostly it's been settling small colonial disputes. So, how are...uh...how are your parents? She thought back to when they came to visit the Academy campus in San Francisco, a long journey as far as they were concerned. Mel was a nervous wreck meeting them. Aine grinned at the memory. Sherlock: They're good. My ma brings you up every now and then. My da, well, he's a father so he despises you. They both laughed at the notion. Sherlock: And your ma? Martinson: She's good. Still in the fleet. I think she's planning on retiring in a few years. She hasn't brought you up since... Sherlock: Gee, thanks. Martinson: No, that's not what I meant. She loved you. She just, for me, doesn't bring it up. Aine saw his nervousness rise. She flashed him a sly grin to let him know she was only joking. Sherlock: So, is this what you wanted? Just to chat and catch up? Martinson: Yes. Well, I wanted to say something. I know what I did was horrible. I'm not denying that. And I am sorry. I was young, career driven...stupid. And I am really sorry. I still care about you. And, I want you to know that. Aine swallowed hard. oO Maybe he does really feel bad? Oo Truth was, she never could fall out of love with him despite the pain. She nodded her head slightly to acknowledge his apology. Sherlock: Thank you. Mel took in a deep breath of relief. Sherlock: But, please know, it hurt. And it still hurts. This doesn't excuse you leaving. Martinson: No, I know that. I get that. Totally. I screwed up. I know. Sherlock: Good. Ok. Martinson: Ok. So, I know this is a big ask, but can I meet them? Aine's eyes narrowed as she thought about the question. She was more confused by it than anything. Sherlock: Meet who? Martinson: The baby. I mean, they're not a baby anymore, it's been three years and... Sherlock: Is this a sick joke? Mel looked like a man who'd made a mistake and Aine wondered now how much he really knew. How much he'd really looked into the situation after he'd left. Martinson: I know I haven't been there. But maybe that can change? Aine couldn't believe what was happening, she felt sick to her stomach. Sherlock: You don't even know, do you? Martinson: Know what? Sherlock: There is no baby. Mel looked shocked as he clasped his hands together in front of his mouth. Sherlock: After you left, just like you, I chose my career. I couldn't have a kid. Martinson: Aine, I'm so sorry. Sherlock: All of that nearly ended my chance in Starfleet, ya know? Even after I had the pregnancy terminated, it wasn't easy. I nearly failed my next year. Nothing was easy. She could feel the heat building in her cheeks and ears. It was bad enough he showed up, and now this, the ultimate painful reminder. Mel looked defeated sitting across from her. She could tell he was in shock and had never even considered that she'd go that route. Martinson: I don't know what to say. Sherlock: You don't have to say anything. Clearly you're full of it. You just showed how much you really care. You should just walk away, right now. Like you do. Martinson: Aine... Sherlock: Now! Aine looked around with her eyes, biting her lower lip seeing that all the other officers present were now looking at them. The heat of anger in her face was now replaced by embarrassment. Martinson: Can we ju... Sherlock: ::gritting her teeth and staring angrily:: Leave. Now. Martinson: ::standing:: Ok. I'll go. Mel looked like he was about to say something else. A brief pause before he turned and walked away. As he moved out of ear shot, Aine let out a breath she was holding, but the weight in her chest felt like it would cave it in. She breathed heavily as she held back tears. to be continued "special" appearance by Lt. Melvin Hollis Martinson Lieutenant Junior Grade Aine Sherlock Security Officer USS Resolution R239712AS0
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