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  1. This a beautiful ending to a storyline by @Meidra Sirin, a character at the end of their rag, forced to murder and suicide. ((Bridge, the Megalana)) Teril was not a good being, that was never in question, but he was not proud of how his life had turned out. Fighting the weak was not part of the mercenary code he’d followed his entire life. You kill those who have what you want, but you do it and move on to the next score, you don’t become part of the established cruelty. He found his way to the communications area and frowned. What he was planning was considered treason, but truth be told - Teril was tired. Tired of pretending to enjoy the boring, pointless existence he had been living as one of Lo’Thar’s lieutenants. He sent a message to the other ship, and waited in the silent command center of a doomed ship. Soon, an answering beep to his message came through. The warm bloods were willing to talk again. He had the feeling that they liked to talk quite a bit. Pushing the appropriate button Teril took a deep breath and sealed his fate. Farrel: Response Not the pretty bird...he vaguely wondered where she’d flown off too, he would have enjoyed seeing her again. No matter, there were greater things to sort through now. Teril: Resolution - I grow weary of thissss game. Lo’Thar isss dead. I am in command. I no longer think wasting resources of chasing your pitiful ship a good plan. Farrel: Response Teril ::glancing down at Lo’Thar’s corpse:: There wasss a….difference of opinion. It hasss been resolved. Teril could feel the alien presence in his mind again, a calming influence - he doubted she even knew she was doing it, but still, he was grateful to have it during this last exchange. He bowed to the screen, knowing that this would have angered Lo’Thar by its implied respect, and he felt even lighter now. He sent a silent thank you to this….Meidra….who gave her sense of peace to those who did not deserve it. Farrel: Response Any: Response Though they did not need it, Teril felt that he would give these people a basic understanding of why they had found themselves in this situation. He paused, not knowing why it mattered to him to explain, only that if he was to rid himself of the stench of Lo’Thar’s incompetence, he must begin with this explanation. Teril: Our people have used this tunnel in space to draw in prisoners for years. We’ve let them die to feed our machines, we’ve used that energy by ssselling it to the highest bidder. We have become ssstale cogs of a machine that bringsss no glory. It will be ended. I’ve sent the necessary information to your data banks. Tell your people on the planet to get far from the refinery, or they shall perish with the guardsssss. You have exactly two hours before it will be too late. Farrel: Response Any: Response Teril: Sssoon, reinforcements will arrive to help Lo’Thar’s pathetic quest for power. When they arrive, they will see a burning pile of death. This machine was a prototype, the only one built. When it issss gone, I will have no reassson to remain. It was ::searches for word:: entertaining to meet you. Tell your captain that I regret never hearing her sssssing for me. I’m sure she would have been my favorite songbird. He didn’t wait for an answer, switching the screen off. He did not have long before the soldiers arrived. He put in the code to start the self destruct sequence, knowing that merely crashing the craft into the buildings below would not give the explosion he required to send his soul into the warrior’s afterlife. Once he was certain that the little ship had received the instructions on how to reverse their trip through the anomaly, he sat back and contemplated how this mission had gone wrong, yet somehow had ended in the perfect way for all involved. Farrel: Response Teril ignored the summons, his work was done, his life done as well. He allowed himself a few moments to reflect on his actions, knowing that the repercussions would echo through Sau history for years to come. There would be no second machine. There would be no reason to harvest slaves for the comfort of the elite. He could almost pretend he was a hero, instead of a weary soldier for hire, tired of his very existence. Somewhere, on a small planet, Lo’Thar’s wife would hear the news of her husband’s passing. She would hear that his small craft was pulled into a malfunction of the machine she had helped create. Perhaps she would feel guilt that her work had killed her mate, perhaps relief. Teril would have no one to grieve his death, as his father had declared him dead to his clan years ago. Putting in the coordinates to his final glory, he instructed the computer to play a lullaby his nanny had sung on the cold nights of his childhood. It was fitting to be lulled into the final sleep in such a way, not as the hardened mercenary he had tried to be, but the lonely boy who never had a home of his own. He grinned as he realized how maudlin his thoughts had become, watching as the instrument panel warned him of his reentry into the atmosphere while being in self destruct mode. As the song floated into his memory, he could almost imagine seeing his mother’s face, beckoning him to her side. He closed his eyes and sat back in the commander’s chair, ignoring the computer’s warning that the ship was on a dangerous course that would likely kill him. As the ship made its final burst of speed and crashed into the refinery, his last thought was that he had finally found the true meaning of glory. End scene/life Teril - Sau Commander Simmed by : Lt JG Meidra Sirin Counseling officer USS Resolution R239707MS0
  2. @Wes Greaves is a great scene creator, and the flavour he give to each scene he creates could introduce you fully in a strange new world, as much as give a LOT of space for his fellow writers to developt the plot themselves. Awesome cooperative writing on display of a great writer. Good job man! -------- Capt Wes Greaves - Extravagance Greaves’s Personal Log – It’s a strange feeling. The skipper put me in charge the away team to meet with one of the Zet. A pretty important one by all accounts. I’ve led teams before, but not like this. This is a group of officers under my charge, on an exceptionally strange first contact situation. When they talk at the Academy about being prepared for the unexpected, well I guess they were right. We’ve all been briefed on the very little we know about these people. Capitalistic ideals taken to an extreme. Some kind of significant class structure. It event seems that most of the Zet on the Penetrator were both in awe of and terrified of the upper class. I’m concerned with how the Federation’s ideals might clash with the Zet, but that’s what first contact is. A meeting of worlds. Let’s hope this is one of the smoother meetings. End log. ((Saldanian Corporate Hegemony Headquarters, Zet Homeworld)) The building was exceptional. That was the only word Wes could think of to describe it. They had beamed onto the planet at the described coordinates and time. There they found themselves in a giant plaza amidst a sprawling city in front of one of the tallest buildings Wes had ever seen. It looked like the entire thing was made of some kind of marble that shone with some kind of internal iridescent light. The plaza itself was circular and ringed by dozens of shining statues made of what looked like gold. Each statue depicted a different Zet, and without context, Wes had no idea who or what they stood for. The plaza itself was mostly deserted, with only a handful of Zet standing on the perimeter a few dozen meters away. They all had their backs to the away team and carried some sort of long metallic looking device which Wes assumed was some kind of weapon. If he had to guess, these were the building’s security, and the most likely reason that the plaza and the immediate vicinity was deserted. Greaves: Not exactly the welcome wagon I was expecting. Where is everyone? Dar/Sirok/Jehe: Responses Wes nodded along with the officer and caught some movement out of the corner of his eye. The doors to the massive building slid open to reveal a pale Zet who strode out across the plaza toward the team. If Wes didn’t know any better he’d say that the Zet looked nervous. It’s eyes darted back and forth between the away team members. He could hardly blame it. They were all aliens to the Zet. Borac: Hello, I am Sher’ok Borac. Please come with me. Owner and Guildmaster Extraordinary, First Eternal, President for Life of the Saldanian Corporate Hegemony, Beloved & Benevolent, Everlasting Pitorian Tolo’Sal’Lat’Ut’Kel’Tras Anroc awaits you in one of the upper chambers. Dar/Sirok/Jehe: Responses Borac: I’m sorry… I’ve not been authorized to discuss anything. Per my assignment I am to take you directly to the upper chamber. The Marine frowned and the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He didn’t like being herded somewhere without any information. Regardless they had little choice, and if the Zet had intended them any harm they could have done it as soon as they beamed in. This was likely some posturing charade rather than anything malicious. Greaves: Very well then Mister Borac. Please, lead the way (motioning with his hand). Without another word the Zet, head bowed low and eyes focused just in front of him, led the team into the building. The lobby was brightly lit in a faint green-ish white light with several Zet standing upright behind a massive semi-circular desk that Wes sized up to be a reception-like area. Not stopping, their guide led them past the reception area to a waiting lift at the back of the room. Several golden faces were mounted on the walls near the lifts and Wes could swear the eyes followed them as they entered. The lift itself was made entirely of some transparent glass or metal and allowed the occupants to look out the rear of the massive building. From this angle Wes could see that the building was shaped like a ‘U’, with the lift overlooking the inside curve and out the top of the ‘U’. Without delay, the doors closed and the lift rapidly ascended as soon as the team was fully inside. The higher they went, the better Wes could see, and it quickly became apparent that the building overlooked a massive lake or ocean. Bird like creatures circled at the water’s edge. Greaves: Quite the view we’ve got here. Dar/Sirok/Jehe: Responses Borac: Again, I’m sorry. I’m not authorized to speak any more than what I’ve already said. Almost as if on cue the lift slowed to a stop and the doors parted again. They were high up. Very high up. Several kilometers if Wes had to guess. Borac didn’t wait for them to admire the view however and quickly set off down a long hallway and Wes was forced to step quickly to keep up with the man’s long gait. They didn’t go far however before the team stopped short of wide double doors. Borac: Here we are. Please, take a seat inside. Owner and Guildmaster Extraordinary, First Eternal, President for Life of the Saldanian Corporate Hegemony, Beloved & Benevolent, Everlasting Pitorian Tolo’Sal’Lat’Ut’Kel’Tras Anroc will be with you shortly. Wes offered the man a smile and a nod, but before he could thank the Zet, the man had turned and started off down the hall. Greaves: Well, I guess we wait. Any idea how high up we are right now? Dar/Sirok/Jehe: Responses The room they had been led to was a large empty conference room dominated by a table made of that eerily glowing rock. The back wall however was floor to ceiling windows which overlooked the ocean. Greaves: (Low whistle) These people sure can appreciate a spectacular view. Look at that. Have you ever seen water that color before? Dar/Sirok/Jehe: Responses The doors at the back of the room parted as the Zet made his entrance and Wes turned to face the man whom he’d hoped would finally be the reason they had been sent to the planet. Anroc: Response TAG/TBC ========================= Captain (SFMC) Wes Greaves Marine Detachment Commander USS Thor - NCC 82607 E239702WG0 =========================
  3. A great sim by @Blake setting up some philosophical questions/debate to come... Further Reading on the Wiki: Donova IV, Cobalt Clan, Sokarn zh'Kuujn ((Corridor)) The peace and quiet of the otherwise empty walkway was disturbed by the ship's First Officer jogging to catch up with the head of the Starfleet Rangers division of the Shoals. Blake: Caide! The Trill stopped in the middle of the hallway to wait for her, the flaps of her unzipped uniform vest limp at her sides. Lieutenant Rairen Caide nodded his head in (unexpected) greeting. The corners of his mouth crinkled upward. Caide: Commander. Aren't you supposed to be on Donova with the rest of the senior staff? Blake: I got called back to help Zhou with something -- Ukinix has got it. But that's actually what I wanted to talk to you about. Caide: Commander Ukinix? She squinted at him, brow pinched in confusion. Blake: Ukinix--? oh. Oh! No. No, not Ukinix. Um... no, no I recognise one of the organisers' names. Do you know anything about Sokarn zh'Kuujn? Caide: I know a lot about zh'Kuujn. She is the head of the Cobalt Clan. The Veritas XO blinked, wires in her brain shorting at the information. She rose a hand, finger accenting the words. Blake: Sokarn zh'Kuujn is... Caide:::gradually nodding with her:: ...head of the Cobalt Clan, yes. Silence permeated the space between them, Blake's head moving to glance away. Confusion riddled the space around her eyes, and she gaped at Caide. Her hand snaked into her hair, gripping at it as she rested the other on her hip. Blake: The Cobalt Clan are... criminals? The definition gave Caide paused, tasting the word in his mouth before he commented. Caide: Technically speaking, yes. They engage in what the Federation at large may deem to be criminal activities. Blake: Caide, we're actively working with the leader of a criminal organisation! We have the opportunity to arrest her. Caide: ...in theory. Blake: In theory-- wh- ::she growls.:: That's not the answer I expected from you. Caide: What did you expect me to say? Blake: I expected you to say "yes Blake, go get the cuffs, I'll meet you on the surface so we can get zh'Kuujn". Caide: And what would doing that prove? Blake continued to gape at him, trying to find some hint in his deep brown eyes that maybe he was saying all this in jest. He wasn't. Caide's thick eyebrows were pulled together expectantly, dimples crinkled as he waited for her answer. Blake: We'd take down the head of Donova's largest criminal organisation. I'd thought you of all people would agree. Caide: From a Starfleet Security standpoint, I ordinary would. But as a Ranger, I have to disagree. Blake: On what grounds? Caide: They're responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. Blake: The Donovan government is responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. The Trill's shoulders shuddered, lips pursing to contain laughter. He clasped his hands together in front of him. Caide: No. That's what the Donovan government would prefer to say. In reality, the Cobalt Clan, and more specifically, the Kuujn clan, are caring for Donova. Blake: I'm still struggling with how that's a good thing, Caide. Caide: Even if we arrest Sokarn zh'Kuujn, we would have to release her to Donova Marshals -- most of which have the utmost respect for her or have been 'paid' by the Kuujn clan to have her released on sight. Nevermind government intervention of her arrest. The words perplexed her. The very idea of allowing zh'Kuujn to walk free was an insult to the very fibre of her being. zh'Kuujn was not an innocent woman: the Cobalt Clan was behind significant crimes against the people of Donova. Caide had been furious at Blake's skirting the rules on Ketar V -- which had resulted in Lukaik's death. Now he was suddenly okay with bending the rules? Blake: Why? Why be complicit now? Caide: Each colony has its own way of functioning in the Shoals. This is why I've made a point to visit each one. Donova is the most peaceful of the Colonial Coalition, by far. It is a functioning, prosperous Federation world. No one denies the Cobalt Clan is a gang of organised criminals. Blake: So we could take them down under Operation Safe Harbor? Caide cringed, tilting his head at her. Caide: I recognise Veritas may have deviated a little from its original mission objective on account of the Tholians in the last five years, but Operation Safe Harbor's original objective was to protect trade routes. An argument could potentially be made to include the Cobalt Clan, but they're not pirates. They have transport ships, but no spatial artillery of their own. And if they do, they've been doing a better job patrolling the Donova system than Starfleet has. Kelrod: =/\= Commander Kelrod to Lt. Caide =/\= The Trill spared her a sympathetic look before tapping his combadge. Caide: =/\= Go ahead? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I need your help to get an update on Donova's situation as well as help to prepare myself to the latest protocols to act with local authorities in case something comes up during the battle of the bands =/\= Caide: =/\= I'll endeavour to assist. =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I can meet with you wherever you consider best. =/\= Caide: =/\= The command information centre then, sir? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I'll be there. Kelrod out =/\= The com closed. Silence permeated the space between Caide and Blake, the latter looking up at the Trill. Blake: If I were to arrest her...? Caide: I believe Donova would rather you didn't. Blake: But if I did? Caide: Then she is temporarily inconvenienced until such time she is inevitably released from prison. The corruption runs deep within Donova, Commander. To dismantle the systems the Cobalt Clan put into place would take years, perhaps even decades. But what they have in place serves them well. No one is held there against their will -- debt notwithstanding, of course. Blake: Yeah. That's the problem. Bitter, Blake turned on her heel and walked away. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  4. You're killing me, @Geoffrey Teller, you're killing me! IC: ((Employee Productivity Recovery Center - Endless Golden Penetrator)) Alieth: In addition, your knowledge about the biology of your species will help us to stabilize the injured. The more patients we can send to the Thor, the more optimal our performance will be. Shaggee was aghast and his head bobbed from side to side, his neck rigid with indignation. Rod'gurs: Help you treat the injured? I'm not certified for that. It would be a violation of my contract! Jehe: You are contractually forbidden from rendering aid to others in an emergency? Trying to be patient with these increasingly bizarre outsiders, Shaggee spread his hands and spoke as he would to an intern. Rod'gurs: 'Employees of the Saldanian Corporation are contractually forbidden from performing any duties for which they are not explicitly trained and certified via SalCorp Employee Enrichment & Productivity Improvement centers. Violation of this policy is grounds for employment and employee termination under subarticle....' Shaggee rattled off the book, chapter, section, subsection & codicil number from memory. HIs childhood nursery had the words 'Do only what you're told and nothing else' painted on the wall. It had been drilled into him before he even began his internship and it had served him well his whole career. Alieth: I am sure you want to reassess your priorities in this matter. Jehe: Consider it this way - the more of them you help us treat, the more...resources can be returned to service and placed back in um....back into the workforce. It could be...initiative! That's it. You'd be showing initiative. Best interests of your employer and all that. For the first time since they had appeared, the aliens seemed to be making sense to Shaggee. He forced his head to stop bobbing. Alieth: Think of it as safeguarding corporate property: while your contract does not precisely include this function, your superiors will certainly reward the safeguarding of the company's assets and your involvement in it. Alieth: It is the only logical course of action. For a moment, Shaggee seriously reconsidered taking his break. The tiny aliens made an interesting proposal and it was the kind of thing his favorite interactive hero, 'Refuse Recycler Ron'a,' would do to help her corp. She'd file the appropriate forms later, but in the moment she'd seize the opportunity to improve the fiscal footing of the corp, whatever it took. Shaggee swelled with pride as he imagined him standing alongside her, the Recyclers anthem ringing in his tympanic canals. In his excitement, he even shouted out her catchphrase. Rod'gurs: PROFITS OVER PEOPLE! Lets get fiscal! Shaggee bounded forward with his confidence significantly outsteping his competence. They came to an injured secondary technical supervisor he'd met once during a seminar on why ethics were improper in the workplace. Alieth: Any ideas about what could happen with them? Shaggee looked over the man and, based on an popular medical series he'd seen a half an episode of, made a diagnosis. Rod'gurs: Ah, yes, ruptured flosfus. Worst case I've seen since the MedicAcademic. He's a goner. Alieth: ...His...flosflus…. : She took a pause, longer than usual, before she kept speaking:: And you consider it a substantial impairment? Shaggee curled his fingers dramatically. Rod'gurs: Yes, he'd need a massive loan to get that treated and it's way outside his compensation band. His productivity is compromised...we've done all we can. Alieth: ...I see… The alien slipped a credit tab on the injured mans uniform then moved on. Shaggee was feeling even more confident, now grasping the intricacies of the aliens ingenious credit assessment system. They moved on from one injured person to the next, the aliens occasionally asking questions and Shaggee guessing at the answers. They seemed satisfied and Shaggee wondered for the first time in his career if he'd been misallocated as a child. Shaggee shook off the unsettling thought and realized an unscheduled employee conference had been called, with many of the remaining semi-productive crew attending. The aliens seemed concerned. Jehe: (Whispering to Alieth) Doc, might want to make a general announcement about covering costs. Everyone seems hesitant to accept help. Alieth: I suppose you are correct.:: Gazing from the intelligence officer to Rod'gurs and back to the former:: I am open to suggestions Rod'gurs: Well, these employees aren't as flexible and resourceful as I am. It's why I'm a vice associate director. I scored at least 3 points higher on the competency exam than any of them. I should write up a memo. Or maybe a presentation. Do you think we could access one of the training auditoriums? I could have slides together in a few clicks. Jehe: Response. She pondered the ideas for a while. Alieth: ::nodding:: That sounds about right. Let us proceed. Rod'gurs: Oh a spontaneous announcement? Well, I haven't had the opportunity to have the verbage reviewed by the departments litigation advisor. ::Shaggee gestured angrily:: He's on the floor over there, not working. ::Shaggee shrugged.:: Fine, I'll get the emergency motivator. Jehe: Response. Shaggee headed for the sealed compartment on the far wall and opened it with a irises scan. His account was invoiced for the equipment rental charges and a hefty deposit. The emergency motivator wasn't terribly powerful, but it would be enough to fill the room with Anroc's majestic voice. He returned to the aliens and inclined his head, prepared. Rod'gurs: Wrap your hands around this handle and your words will fill this room, but your voice will carry all the authority and timber of Shipmaster Anroc himself. You should feel honored, these are normally only used for mass terminations. You should inform them that their credit accounts are being assessed and they will all be invoiced before the end of the next salary period. That's all completely routine. Alieth: Indeed, they will have this offer at their service in exchange for keeping the assigned tags at all times as they will be traded for… Rod'gurs: Advise them that under the circumstances, a one time non-transferrable hardship stipend will be applied to their accounts if, and only if, they accept our terms and conditions. Feel free to add in any clauses or addenda your back office requires. Jehe: Response. Alieth: Once they have been transported to our starship the... Starfleet Corporation will request a series of biometric data that will constitute payment for the services provided. I repeat, you will only be asked for only data, and you may refuse to share what you consider to be inappropriate. The tiny alien was doing surprisingly well. Shaggee wondered how many motivation seminars she had run in her career, and suspected the number was quite high. Alieth: For more information, listen to the instructions of the Ensign Sehe and the Vice Associate Director Rod'gurs who will instruct you on the evacuation process. Shaggee took back the emergency motivator and spoke into it with fervor. Rod'gurs: Remember to ask yourselves 'what have I done for the corp today?' Today, fellow employees, your answer can be 'not dying,' so you can continue being productive associates. Ok, lets get moving, a transcript of this meeting will be available as soon as we find a living member of the stenographic staff. Jehe: Response Employees began moving out of the compartment and towards lifts that would take them back up towards the command deck. Those that couldn't move were carried and Shaggee noted with pride that each and every one wore their new credit assessment tags visibly and proudly. Rod'gurs: So, do you think I can take my break now? Jehe/Alieth: Response Rod'gurs: Oh, well. Do you think we should go with them? Jehe/Alieth: Response Tags/TBC ============== Shaggee Rod'gurs Vice Associate Director Of Crew Fulfillment & Disposal Endless Golden Penetrator V239509GT0
  5. Loved this. ❤️ ----- ((Holodeck Recovery Room - Neurology Center, Denobula)) The surgery had been successful. At least for German's issue with his pituitary gland causing him to age rapidly. When he fainted in his family's memorial garden he was in his sixties. Now that two and a half months went by, he was now in his mid one hundred and thirties. Some wear and tear on his face and hair could be seen, but Denobulans lived up to be around three hundred and fifty years old. German wasn't even almost middle aged since that'd be in about forty years. It didn't really bother him much since there were hints of gray hairs which he found to be quite distinguishable. In part, that wasn't because he was getting older, but being under the severe amount of stress and anxiety was a primary factor. When he fell over, a few cuts and bruises formed on his forehead. He didn't know that though since his medical team of nurses, general physicians, and a neurologist determined that it was best for him to be placed under a medically induced coma. That wasn't the first time for German, but in this case it was different. He was suffering from short term memory loss and had to be told by his son where he was and how he got there. Even when he finally woke up, German didn't know how he got those cuts and bruises on his forehead when he looked in the mirror. Due to his cognitive disabilities, the Denobulan neurologist was more than proficient in helping to restore most of his senses, but how was the question. Luckily for German, he still knew how to walk around as he followed the neurologist to the holodeck. German thought he knew a lot about neurology after studying the subject in the academy, but was quickly brought back down to his mediocre level of knowledge when the older doctor explained the ins and outs of what was to be expected during his recovery. German had realized that he shouldn't have been so careless about the nanotechnology he inserted into his brain when he was younger, working as an intern at his mother's science facility back on Earth. Phax: As I said before. The damage to your neocortex was fairly extensive. You need to take your recovery period *seriously* if you intend to return to full functionality. ::pausing:: You’ll want to stimulate the brain with an active environment. Interacting with people you know may also help restore your ability to store memory. Galven: So you're saying that part of my recovery is to interact with people who I know? I don't know many people here. Phax: ::nodding sagely:: You need to *exercise* those parts of your brain like you would any muscle. Galven: Well, I could contact one of the Starfleet officers I worked with on StarBase 118? Phax: Starbase 118? ::a dark purple tinged eyebrow rose slightly… that was where his son, Ashley Yael, was stationed.:: And who would that be?=/\= Galven: Her name is Lieutenant Commander Alora DeVeau. She's the Chief Scientist on board the base. At least she was the last time I spoke to her. Phax: She sounds distinguished and intelligent. A perfect beginning to your neuro-exercise period. Galven: Are you going to be here as we talk to one another? Phax: I would like to observe a few of your interactions. In order to look for tics, issues, to listen to him speak. If he had any trouble falling over words, or the muscles in his face changed, if he couldn’t recall faces correctly. Deneve Phax wasn’t concerned about the issue of privacy. Galven: ::nods:: If that's what you think is best. ::turns to the video monitor:: Hopefully she's not too busy today. Phax: ::a bit gruff:: Go ahead. A moment passed as the computer sent out the request. Another moment passed as Alora, who had been finishing up with a lieutenant on a report recently made, could return to her desk. As she did so, she ordered the computer to patch it through, and when German’s face appeared on the screen, her own lit up with her characteristic smile. DeVeau: =/\=German!=/\= Then, she seemed to notice something. Canting her head to one side, then to the other, she took a closer study of his face. German knew what she was doing and it slightly bothered him. However it was something he would have to get used to because he had a feeling that the other crew would do the same whenever he got back. DeVeau: =/\=Are you all right?=/\= Galven: =/\=::deadpan expression:: Good to see you too. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=You look...different.=/\= Which was a more polite way of saying he looked much older than previously. Different was an understatement. German glanced down, rubbing his hand through his hair. After a moment trying to figure out how to get the right words out, he looked back at Alora with a frown. Galven: =/\=Well, due to my own ignorance about how Borg nanotechnology works when I first implanted it into my brain when I was younger, the side effects caused me to age rapidly growing in my pituitary gland when I was assimilated in the shuttle. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=Oh wow. But...they were able to fix it, right?=/\= Galven: =/\=::nods:: Yes, but as you can see in the way I look, I'm not 33 years old anymore. Each day was a year before it was corrected. It's believed that I'm around 120 or 130 years old now. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=Seriously?=/\= Galven: =/\=Actually the neurologist who helped the issue is here right now and confirms it. =/\= Phax only grunted positively at the science chief and nodded to the screen shortly. The woman was lovely, true, but she was *Human*, and he wasn’t a big fan. So mostly he kept his almost bored eyes on his patient. So far it seemed he had a working functionality, even if he still had ongoing issues. Alora’s eyes slid over to fall upon the grunting Denobulan. They started to refocus on German, then suddenly switched back to the Doctor. She stared at him, intense gaze studying the face. He was familiar. Very familiar. Finally, she let them shift back over to German. DeVeau: =/\=So that means you’re lifespan is shortened? =/\= Galven: =/\=::clears his throat:: I'm not sure how to answer that, Alora. =/\= Well, there wasn’t really any other answer for it. He’d lost almost a hundred years. Maybe to a Denobulan it didn’t seem that much, but it was much. Before, his life had hardly begun. Now it was about a third over. Alora knew what it was like to have a shorter life span dangling in front of her. In her case, there were no answers. No guarantees at all. They had no idea if the therapies would continue to work. No idea if they would eventually fizzle, and she’d regress until she no longer existed. She’d lost several years already, in only a few months. What did that mean about her future? At least with German, they’d been able to stop it. At least he had that two thirds left. She had to focus on that. It could have been worse. It could have gone on until he was so far gone...at least they had been able to do something. Galven: =/\=All I know is that what I did was extremely stupid and I got what I deserved. Now I just need to get the help needed. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=We all make mistakes. =/\= Granted, he’d made a really big and stupid mistake, and he’d done a lot of harm, but it wasn’t as much harm as it could have been. And in the end, German had owned up to those mistakes. He was learning from them. How many people did that? Far fewer than should be. DeVeau: =/\=It’s going to take a while to rebuild trust though. =/\= German knew that much. He had all the time in the universe still to rebuild his sense of purpose towards the crew when he was able to finally come back. There were still quite a few tests to be done with Doctor Phax among the other Denobulan scientists and researchers. Galven: =/\=::sighs:: I wouldn't trust myself either and understand why you and the others wouldn't either. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=But you’re coming back, right? And things will mostly be like they were before? At some point, people will realise that you’ve taken steps to change, to get better. That counts. It really does. =/\= Galven: =/\=You're right. It'll take some time to get things back to normal. A new normal, that is. =/\= A new normal. Alora was far too familiar with that. She had to learn what a new normal was several times over the course of her brief life. Most recently, that new normal involved a gigantic hole in her heart. And then...no, she couldn’t dwell on it. She was still confused and uncertain about the entire thing. She didn’t know which way to go, didn’t know what was real or just an idealistic view of things. If she dwelt on it, she only proceeded to confuse herself further. DeVeau: =/\=So that means you’re coming back. =/\= Alora left no room for argument in that statement. DeVeau: =/\=Which will be when?=/\= Normally Alora's upbeat personality was more encouraging for German and he favored it. However, now it felt more abrasive and uncomfortable for him since she didn't give the Denobulan much of a chance to get his words out as he glanced over at the neurologist. Phax’s nose crinkled up slightly at the *generous* assumption of his patients return to duty. There was much to do before putting a timeline on the recovery period, even *if* they were hopeful with the current results. Phax: =/\= ::to Galven:: I wouldn’t buy a shuttle ticket just yet. We are *hopeful* for your recovery, but it may be months before you can be discharged.=/\= DeVeau: =/\=That’s not soon enough. =/\= She managed a smile, though at that point, her gaze shifted back to Phax again. His voice. Yes, it was very similar. In addition, the colour and the shape of his face. He wasn’t quite as handsome, but...could it be? DeVeau: =/\=I’m sorry, doctor, I didn’t catch your name? I owe you thanks for helping my friend. =/\= The neurologist’s dark purple eyes slid onto the woman again, looking down at the screen. He was far more interested in his patient, but politely gave her a disinterested moment of his time in order to receive her praise properly. Phax: =/\= Doctor Deneve Phax. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant Commander. ::he paused:: Your friend is in the *best* of hands.=/\= He meant his own hands, of course, and he graced the Human woman with a smile. Galven: =/\=I can assure you that Doctor Phax has been extremely helpful in my recovery, Alora. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=Thank you, Doctor. We are grateful for your care of our friend. We, as in the base, because Alora knew very well that other people shared the sentiment. Some might not, but more than one. Sal, for one. Her. Others too, she was sure. German knew what Alora was doing. She was being overprotective of him being that she was lightyears away from Denobula. Galven: =/\=::smirks:: You were always more of a protective big sister. I appreciate it. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=You just make sure you do what he says so you can heal faster and come home faster, all right?=/\= Home. That word for German was almost foreign to him ever since he left the Veritas. Even though his stay was only three months before being transferred to the Montreal and later on the Astraeus, he learned a lot when he was an Ensign serving under Captain Rahman. Even before he graduated, the place he stayed at more than any other area was his mother's science research facility back on Earth. Granted, he'd learn a great deal from Captain Mei'konda and Sal. Sal. The Betazoid had entrusted German right from the beginning to be the Second Officer. Sal's Second Officer. Unfortunately for the Denobulan, he had taken it for granted. Not realizing until it was too late that anything he did and said carried weight. If he was to come back to the StarBase, out of everyone he wanted to gain back their trust from was Sal. A moment passed by as he remembered the last time he was with Sheila in the holodeck. Apparently his memory was getting better as he glanced back at Alora in the viewscreen. Galven: =/\=I'll do what I can, Alora. ::smiles:: Anyways, how's things going on the station?=/\= DeVeau: =/\=Not bad, for the most part . Weird for some of it. =/\= Galven: =/\=Yeah, my mother has been sending me updates. I heard that there was a festival of sorts and then something happened with the food? Is that correct?=/\= DeVeau: =/\=The drinks, actually. Someone spiked the drinks with something that genetically altered the limbic and neurological systems to bring out certain emotions - though the concentration of those emotions tended to be toward the romantic side. It was...strange. A large portion of those who were attending the festival. =/\= Galven: =/\=Boy, that sounds awfully hectic. Are you and everyone else okay? That was a very loaded question. For the most part, the answer was yes. For Alora, the answer was far more complicated. But Galven didn’t know that, didn't need to know that. DeVeau: =/\=Yeah, we’re okay. There were some minor injuries because people were getting into fights over guys or gals or both, but nothing major. =/\= Galven: =/\=It helps me get an idea and a moment to momentarily imagine myself back there if that makes sense. =/\= DeVeau: =/\= Oh I get it. Hopefully you won’t have to just imagine yourself, you’ll actually be here.=/\= Phax: =/\= ::somewhat to himself, but aloud:: Perhaps it is best, in your condition, that you were *not* present to be drugged.=/\= Galven: =/\=Would you mind doing me a big favor? If you could record what I'm about to say to the crew and especially Sal? =/\= Record? He wanted her to record it? Well, that was a reasonable if unusual request, but she would comply, for she saw no harm in that. DeVeau: =/\=Sure, just a sec.=/\= Tapping on the console, Alora silently ordered the computer to take a recording of their conversation from there on out - at least, until she stopped it. Doctor Phax stepped out of sight for the moment to let his patient record his message. Thus far he had noticed no major issues. The treatment seemed to have been a resounding success, and the therapy would continue to have good results if it was continued. He was happy with the results of his work in this serious case. With the help of a cane he had next to him, German pushed himself up as he grasped the item. He walked backwards a bit until his whole body was in frame, then ditched the cane altogether. He wanted to show that he had some strength even though he wobbled a bit. Galven: =/\=To the 118 crew and family. I miss you all very dearly. Whatever you have going on, I wish I could be there and experience it with the best crew I've ever had imaginable. ::looks directly into the lens:: I can't express how much you all mean to me and been a part of my life within Starfleet. I can only hope my trials and transgressions will turn into a bright glimmering light in the future. Please don't take advantage of anything like I did. You all deserve the best accolades in your endeavors. ::sniffs:: Take good care of one and other. I love you all. =/\= Far too often, German would have many moments of clarity and wouldn't realize it until it became too late. After he finished speaking, the Denobulan scientist was feeling homesick. Which was true and he took the time for a moment of reflection, realizing the starbase was in fact his home. Not Denobula, Earth, the Veritas, Montreal, and Astraeus. StarBase 118 Operations was where he belonged. Granted, he essentially was a traveling gypsy who finally started to believe that his feet settled in place. The station is where his family was. Not just his parents, but the crew at large. Hell, right before he left, he found out he had a son. Who was showing interest in joining Starfleet and it was the perfect place for Naylin to get started with classes, then off to the Academy. Smiling, Alora waited just a moment to be sure he was done, then ended the recording. She was silent a moment as her fingers continued to tap over the console so she could be sure that it was saved. DeVeau: =/\=Do you want me to send that for you? =/\= Galven: =/\=::nods:: Yes, please. If it's not too much to ask? =/\= DeVeau: =/\=I certainly can. Not a problem. =/\= Galven: =/\=I appreciate it, Alora. Do you think they'll like what I said?=/\= DeVeau: =/\=I’m sure people will forgive in time - after all, it heals wounds, right?=/\= Galven: =/\=::smirks:: I should know. Just look at what time has done to me. ::sighs:: At least I still have my sense of humor. =/\= There was a soft chuckle at that. DeVeau: =/\=That’s a good thing.=/\= Indeed it was. Humour sometimes helped when going through trials and dealing with things. She was glad he was in good spirits, and Alora hoped they remained that way. In the background of the video call, Doctor Phax had stepped aside and to his desk, sitting quietly and adding a few notes to his file, turning his profile to the viewer as he worked. Alora’s gaze flicked over to him briefly. They shared similar colouring, similar features, and a name. There was no way that was simply coincidental. Galven: =/\=How's Sal doing? Last time we spoke with each other was when I was in Sickbay strapped down on a biobed. I kind of felt like the Elephant Man from that one classic Terran story. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=He’s doing well. =/\= Alora’s focus returned to her friend. She needed to ignore the doctor, and she’d chat with Ashley later. At that particular moment, it was German’s time. DeVeau: =/\=In fact, he was just promoted to Commodore.=/\= Galven: =/\=::gasps:: Are you serious?! I wish I could be there and congratulate Sal on his promotion. If there was anyone who deserved it more, would be that man. ::turns to Phax:: Would it be possible if you'd be able to grant a request to go now? You can even come with me?=/\= Phax: =/\= ::chuffing, barely turning to look at the viewer:: I would think *not*. We need to continue your physical therapy regime. A trip like that is a large investment, and we can’t have you getting too excited just yet.=/\= Disappointment coloured Alora’s features, but she understood. The last thing German needed was to regress, especially after a surgery like that. Still, there had been a brief moment of hope. Galven: =/\=::frowns, nodding along:: You tell Sal how incredibly proud I am of this momentous occasion. I'll definitely try to get him some kind of gift. =/\= DeVeau: =/\=I sure will. ::Alora promised.:: And you work hard and get better so you can come back to us.=/\= Doctor Phax gave German a *look*, one that translated to “I have all I need, wrap it up.” Galven: =/\=::to Phax:: I mean, it's a good kind of excitement though, but you're right. ::turns to Alora:: Looks like the good Doctor Phax is telling me to finish this up. Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to talk with me. I'll try to make it home soon. =/\= Already? It seemed like they’d just begun talking and now he had to go? With a sigh, Alora nodded. DeVeau: =/\=Doctor knows best. =/\= Leaning forward, Alora set a stony gaze upon the man, though there was just the barest hint of a smile. DeVeau: =/\=You’d better get better at supersonic speed. I still have to slap you upside the head a few times. =/\= Galven: =/\=::dons his signature wide Denobulan grin:: Love you too, Alora. You take care of yourself as well, sister. See you soon. =/\= A softness crept over her features and her smile a little more nostalgic. DeVeau: =/\=Love you too. And don’t you forget it. I’ll call next week, all right?=/\= Galven: =/\= I look forward to it. =/\= If she could have, Alora would have reached through and given him a hug right then and there. Unfortunately, that wasn’t possible and she had to make do with a wave before the screen went black and she was left staring at her reflection.
  6. @Geoffrey Teller speaks in Corporate JUST TOO WELL and I don't like it (well, I LOVE it, and it has killed me, 100% ROI here) _____________________________________________________________________________ (( Basic operating chamber for impulse and energy / Reactor chamber - Endless Golden Penetrator)) Jehe: We really are here to help sir. Let the doctor take a look at you, and then we can go tend to any of your...colleagues. The Vulcan nodded briefly, her attention focused on the device she was holding in her hands. Alieth: ::monotonously:: I am here to serve Shaggee didn't know what to make of these bizarre, tiny creatures. Their faces were remarkably featureless, with only two eyes and a dull uniformly colored dermis. The idea of trusting that some random creatures from beyond The Edge were here out of the kindness of their flonds was simply beyond Shaggee's ability. The powerful were powerful because they exploited anyone who wasn't. It was how the deathless had made their fortunes and built the great megacorps. It was how they had purchased control of the civil administration hundreds of years ago, freeing them to do whatever they wanted in the pursuit of greater riches. It was how they ruled the system to this day, and it was the only type of leadership Shaggee had ever known. Rod'gurs: Just please...don't damage my eyes. If I lose more than two I won't be able to keep my job. The alien cast an odd look at him before holding up a machine that made a gentle noise. Shaggee braced for the inevitable blast of pain or searing agony of cut flesh, but none came and after a moment, it was clear none was coming. Shaggee quite simply didn't understand. Alieth: (Gently) If you allow me, I will administer you half a dose of Cortropine is a minor stimulant that will make you feel better. Rod'gurs: But I...I don't have a credit account with you...you couldn't possibly give medicine away without at least a purchase order? A consultation charge? Shipping and handling? ::Shaggee looked from one alien to the other, their expressions confused.:: You couldn't possibly mean it's...it's...::Shaggee had trouble wrapping his flaps around the word::...free. Alieth: Indeed, for free. All six of Shaggee's eyes widened in shock. He had been seen by medical personnel nine times in his forty one cycles, and he had the invoices and debt from each visit in his personal ledger, notated down to the milicredit owed. The idea of receiving services and not paying for them seemed...almost sickeningly alien to him. It felt unnatural and alarming and strangely...good. Rod'gurs: Well..if..I guess...I promise to subscribe to your infostream! You can send me all the marketing material you want! My consumer analytics are yours, even my...very personal analytics! Everything! The small alien withdrew another small tool from her strangely shaped kit, loaded a vial of bright colored liquid then pressed the contraption against his dulcornomoious artery. Braced again for pain, Shaggee almost passed out in relief as the magical medicine surged through his system. He felt like he could work a septuple shift and still have energy to shop at the central bazaar. It was an incredible feeling...and he hadn't spent a credit. If Shaggee could've willed it, he would've died in that moment - as content as he had ever been. Jehe: How long have you been adrift here, if you do not mind my asking? Shaggee tried to get the number straight, but he wasn't entirely sure. He suspected only the deathless had known when the ship was truly lost, and Anroc hadn't bothered to share that information until the ships demise seemed immediately apparent. Rod'gurs: Weeks...months, maybe. Systems started failing almost as soon as we got close to the Edge, but the deathless...uh ::Shaggee looked uncomfortably towards the ceiling and the malevolent face starting down at him::...Shipmaster Pitorian Anroc, glory to him and all the First Eternals...he just told us to keep going. Then people started dying. So many. Alieth: (Blinking again). Interesting. ::Standing up:: Now, can you guide us to your colleagues that require assistance? Shaggee found his energy to be nearly boundless and sprang up, almost bouncing off the floor. Rod'gurs: Yes of course, there were several associate directors and vice presidents assigned to this section, but I'm the vice associate director, so they all report to me. ::Shaggee puffed up in momentary pride before remembering their situation:: well, the ones who are still alive report to me. The dead ones just go into the reclaimer. Are you...are you really going to help us? All of us? Jehe: Well, hopefully we can. We're Starfleet. Stuff like this is what we do best. Alieth: We will do everything in our capacity and about a 33% more The strange name stuck in Shaggee's tympanic canal and he tried to reproduce the alien sound. Rod'gurs: Sar'feet. That is a strange name for a corporation. What's your primary commodity? Voidships? Advanced pharma goods? Good ROI on those. Jehe: Response As they transited through the cavernous bay past busts and frescos of Anroc, Shaggee felt his steps lightening and for a moment thought the alien drug had given him even more extraordinary strength. It wasn't until he realized all of them were hopping from step to step, arcing instead of stepping, that he realized the spingrav system was failing again. Alieth: I suppose that is not a usual feature of this ship. Rod'gurs: No. It's a sign the ship is dying. The deathless....::Shaggee closed his eyes, not looking at any of Anroc's representations as he cursed the mans existence::...the deathless wouldn't stand for the discomfort of nullgrav. It's one of the most reliable systems on the ship. If it's failing, everything else will soon. Jehe: Response They finally made their way to the Employee Productivity Recovery Center where several dozen of the administration team was sprawled against walls or on some of the limited medbeds. The few with good credit had to share the compartments single autodoc, and the mechanism itself was running low on pharma-consumables. Shaggee didn't have enough credit to unlock another canister from the nearby store and no one on the financial services team was available to arrange a short term, high interest loan. Shaggee pointed towards the injured and wagged his flaps, satisfied there was nothing more he could've done. The aliens seemed unconvinced. Alieth: We will have to hurry. Ensign, I assume you are familiar with emergency triage. ::picking up a green card:: If i put one of this, send them to the bridge or contact the captain or commander to determine the nearest transport point. :: Holding up a red card :: You must put a transporter tag on them, they will be the first to be beamed directly to the sickbay. ::Raising an orange:: If you see someone with one of these, you have to decide if they walk or not, it will depend on whether they join the group of the green or the red ones and you should act in accordance. Jehe: Response Shaggee tried to help as best he could. Rod'gurs: Uh, you understand that none of these people can pay, right? I think some of the accounting team is in the next compartment over, maybe if one of them is still alive they could generate a purchase order for you? Whatever would be easiest for your back office team. The aliens seemed to be talking among themselves, organizing small colored shards. One seemed to be of particular import, and Shaggee immediately understood their meaning. Alieth: If you see one of these only... move them away from the transit areas. Rod'gurs: Oh, credit rating labels. That's a very clever idea - you can assign them all to income brackets now and it'll make billing so much easier later. You aliens really are advanced! Jehe: Response Alieth: ::nodding:: Let's go Rod'gurs: I think I'll stay here, my quarterly fifteen minute break is coming up and I really feel like I've earned it. If you need me please leave a message with one of the admin staff...I know some of them survived. Jehe/Alieth: Response Rod'gurs: Oh are you sure? Well, I suppose I can defer it until next month. If you think it's that important. Jehe/Alieth: Response Rod'gurs: Help you treat the injured? I'm not certified for that. It would be a violation of my contract! Jehe/Alieth: Response Tags/TBC ============== Shaggee Rod'gurs Vice Associate Director Of Crew Fulfillment & Disposal Endless Golden Penetrator V239509GT0
  7. I do so love watching a difficult emotional scene where the characters are genuine, flawed and vulnerable. This was a lovely JP you two!! ((Starbase 118 Ops - Holodeck 24)) The Denobulan hybrid sat at the helm of the shuttlecraft, there on the holodeck. It was a relatively small shuttle, nothing fancy. Room for four in the cockpit. All around him was open blue sky, little puffy clouds in the distance on the clear and calm day. The shuttle was in the atmosphere of some planet, which could have been Earth. It appeared warm and Mediteranean in climate, from what one could see high above from the view port. Ashley had invited Anthony nervously, and by message, not by the comms. If Anthony wasn’t interested, he could just… not show up. Ashley would understand. It had been a couple days since he’d been forcibly plucked out of Verriars bar, playing his drunken tongo and making an absolute ass of himself. He’d spent the next morning in sickbay, getting rehydrated… Alora had been there every step of the way, giving him some friendly but stern harassment… which he’d more than earned… asking about the *why* of it all, dragging his still-intoxicated and increasingly hung-over butt to sickbay to get IV fluids. He had spent the previous day, after recovering from his hangover, getting caught up with his own counselor back on Earth via subspace. She had been relatively *brutal* in her attempt to determine the source of the downward spiral, and had some choice words about his backsliding after all the progress he’d made in the past year. He had also gone to sickbay for some further scans, for Doctor Bailey’s prescribed treatment, and had also begun going through his fellow starbase counselors files, trying to find one he might communicate well with. It had… not been a great couple days. His descent into drunken idiocy after two years of sobriety made it pretty obvious he needed to do better with self-care. That was step one. Actually, getting treatment and stabilizing was step one. Promising Alora at least seven separate times he wouldn’t go to Verriar’s alone anymore was step two. So self-care would be step three. The next step was to reach out… he needed to catch up with the Marine who he had dismissed, invalidated, come on to, lobbed innuendo at, made to carry, nearly barfed on, and cursed at… had he cursed at Anthony? Or had that been his internal, angry-drunk monologue? Either way… it was hardly the worst of what he’d done. His stomach was full of nerves, so he’d chosen their stomping grounds. The holodeck seemed somehow safer, since it was where he and Anthony often met up for various things, for play, for work, for training. A public place was too… public. To Tony, the receipt invitation in the way it had come had seemed unnecessary and out of character for his friend. There wasn’t anything overt about the invite that was out of place, but Tony could sense something wasn’t exactly right. In any case, the invite had been on the table, and Tony wasn’t exactly one to ignore a good time. Arriving at the holodeck, Tony paused at the doors before they slid obediently open. The sounds of the already running, but idle program wafted out to greet him. The sounds of a shuttlecraft and the requisite systems set an intriguing tone to the moment. Stepping inside, Tony greeted his friend. Meeks: Hey, Ashley. Ashley set amethyst eyes on the Marine, and he took a largely silent but deep breath through his nose as he steeled himself for it. Two days ago, this man had had to forcibly carry him out of Verriars bar… he’d made crude attempts to take Anthony home with him, and said far too many terrible things. Yael: Anthony. Meeks: What’s going on, Amigo? Yael: I thought… if you’re not busy… you might like to run a program. With me. If you want. Totally optional. Well *that* wasn’t awkward. He would have face-palmed if he had less self-control. He had *rehearsed* this in his mind and *that* was how he said it? Instead of self-slapping, he grit his teeth and stopped himself talking before it became a babble instead of an invitation. Nervousness in Ashley’s voice was palpable, causing a bit of concern for Tony. Meeks: Of course, bud. Tony sat in the seat next to his friend, swiveling the chair to face him. Meeks: What’s really going on, Ashley? Yael: ::trying to smile:: That obvious, huh. The Denobulan hybrid glanced out of the view port, clearly chewing on the thing preoccupying him. Yael: I thought… I’d try to apologize. ::then more quietly:: I was kind of awful to you. Meeks: Not necessary. Yael: You didn’t deserve it. And… thank you? I suppose… for getting me out of there when you did. Spinning the chair into position, Tony started working the controls, preparing to assume the flight duties. He began looking the instruments over, listening to Ashley. Meeks: That’s what friends do, Pard. Ashley glanced at Anthony, concerned at the very quick forgiveness. Was that genuine? Was Anthony secretly internalizing the violation of his friendship? Was he harboring vast resentment under the calm surface?! He… actively tried to stop thinking about it. Face value. Take it at face value. And don’t let it happen again. But why couldn’t he brush off the feeling Anthony *should* be angry with him? Perhaps it was because he was angry at himself and he was displacing his feeling onto his friends. Yael: Right… Meeks: Where we going? Yael: Ah… nowhere. Well, that’s not accurate, really. Down. We’re going down. Meeks: Down? ::There had to be a little panic in Tony’s voice:: Yael: No, not crash landing! ::he managed to laugh lightly, nerves still apparent:: I thought I’d give you the opportunity to throw me out of a perfectly good shuttlecraft. Meeks: What? ::The panic was still there:: Standing, the Denobulan hybrid moved to the gear stowed near the back, lifting a harness and pack in both hands. And if Anthony *was* harboring inner resentment toward him, maybe tossing him to his theoretical doom could be some sort of therapy. Yael: Who knows. It could be therapeutic. Meeks: You’re the therapist here, bud, but I’m not sure that’s in the text books. It was then Tony saw the pack in Ashley’s hands. Not just a pack, but a parachute designed to slow a single person’s descent following a freefall. The panic lessened and likely the cracking in Tony’s voice subsided. Yael: There’s a pack for you too. If you want to jump. Meeks: Are you certified? Yael: Certified…? ::blanching slightly:: Wait… are *you* certified? Meeks: Of course I am. It’s part of the Pararescue training. Yael: That’s good. ::regaining his confidence, and smiling:: Then you’ll know what you’re doing. Ashley set the pack down again, but moved to unclasp the buckles in preparation. Meeks: Have you ever jumped before? Yael: No. It’s just something I’ve thought I should do… you know. A “bucket list” sort of thing. Meeks: Bucket list!?!? You’re going to jump out of a shuttle for a bucket list? Ashley paused with his working of the straps and looked at his friend now. He may have given a little too much away there. Yael: Isn’t that… something people do? Meeks: There’s usually a little more planning than this though, Ash. Especially for skydiving. There’s kind of a process. Yael: ::trying to laugh it off:: I see. So that’s a “no,” then. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing and seeing. It probably was just surreal enough that Tony stood there, mouth agape, not really processing what was going on. Meeks: Um, yeah… no. It still wasn’t reality yet that Ashley was serious about doing this. Tony tried as he might to shake it off, but it wouldn’t go away. Yael: It *was* kind of a spur-of-the-moment thought, I guess… I didn’t realize plummeting to Earth was a complicated matter. Still trying with the humor to deflect from the nerves he felt, and dig out of the hole he felt he’d gotten himself into, the Denobulan abandoned the pack straps entirely. Yael: You okay? This was too much, wasn’t it. Meeks: I’m fine, Bud. You really want to do this? If you want to do it, we’re gonna do it right. Ok? The Denobulan perked up at that. Yael: Right. Okay. What’s the “right” way? Scooping up the pack, Tony slipped the buckles loose on the shoulder straps and tossed the pack to Ashley. Snatching the second pack up, Tony slipped the buckles loose and checked the bindings. Meeks: Are these holodeck chute packs? Yael: Yes. Meeks: Okay. If we do this, we’re gonna do it tandem. You good with that? Yael: Tandem. You mean… together. Same chute? Meeks: That’s exactly what I mean. I’m gonna strap your ass to me and we’re gonna bail out of this shuttle together. All the way to the ground. Yael: I was kind of hoping for a *solo* flight. Tony dropped the chute pack he was holding, allowing it to hit the floor with a hard thud. He stood there, arms crossed, staring at his friend, who had jumped in surprise at the sudden drop of the gear. Meeks: What’s goin’ on, Ashley. Yael: ::canting his head slightly to the side:: What do you mean? Meeks: I’m your friend, right? Yael: Of course. Meeks: Then, why the bullshit? The tone had shifted, and the little hairs on the back of the Denobulans neck stood on end. Feeling genuinely chastised, he tried to reclaim the smile that threatened to melt off his face. Still, he stiffened his posture, not knowing what to expect but understanding one thing well enough. He’d pushed too far. Yael: Anthony…? Meeks: Tell me… are you sick? Dying? Something bad? Ashley set eyes on his friend and couldn’t tear them away. Couldn’t blink. Barely breathed. The smile he’d rescued was gone. Yael: ::less than sure in his tone:: Why would you ask that…? Tony stepped forward, dropping his arms to his sides. He stopped within a couple of feet of where Ashley stood, the muscles in his jaw tight. Meeks: You seem to have a deathwish lately. Complete self destruction. The Denobulan hybrid took a step back almost defensively, but still felt Anthony towering over him. He had to look up to maintain eye contact now, his eyes widening with restrained alarm as his friend cornered him. Yael: How so…? Meeks: Let’s start with that little show you gave at the bar the other day. Wanna explain that? Yael: That was… it was a *mistake*, but… He stepped back again, as if he were stepping out of the Marines' very large shadow. His eyes lowered to the floor, his deflective invalidating of that night clearly a lie. Tony stepped forward to match the retreat of the smaller man. Meeks: I get mistakes Ash. I will ALWAYS be there for you, brother. I will pull your ass out of any fire you get it into… hell, I’ll even let you puke on me... No sweat. I WON’T let you kill yourself though. Yael: ::nowhere near convincing enough:: I’m *not* trying to kill myself... Meeks: ::Scoffs:: Go ahead… keep telling yourself that. The Denobulan knew Anthony could see every deflection he tried, and standing in the Humans presence made the truth the only possible path forward. Stil, it caught in his throat as he stepped back again, his heel touching the wall of the shuttlecraft behind him. He was physically trapped as much as he might have been mentally. His eyebrows knitted tight together, jaw clenching, and couldn’t look Anthony in the eye as he spoke with the diminishing last of his resolve, conflicted. Yael: It’s a *holodeck*, Anthony. Nobodies dying here. Meeks: I know it’s a damned holodeck. That doesn’t matter one little bit, Ash… It’s all the other stuff you’ve been doing to yourself that tells the story. What the F… What’s wrong with you? Tony caught himself before he went too far, the anger swelling in his chest. He didn’t realize how angry he was at his friend until just that moment. Meeks: You’re being a dick! Ashley flinched at that, but his gut told him he deserved it, so he failed to protest the brutal honesty. Tony reached into his pocket and withdrew a small silver oblong disk. He held it for a moment, then tossed it on the floor at Ashley’s feet. The little metal object clattered to a stop against Ashley’s foot, glinting silently in the lights of the shuttle. Meeks: Pick it up. Yael: ::eyeing the disk suspiciously, then back up to Anthony, he didn’t move:: What is it? Meeks: Pick it up, Ash. Read it. Cautiously, he reached down for it now, as if it might bite. The little metal disk lay there, waiting. The words embossed on it simple and straight forward. The name, last name first, not telling the whole story, but only the main player. Lifting it and standing, Ashley realized as he felt the raised metal, read the name, saw the blood type. And he knew. Meeks: That guy was my brother too. I would have gone to hell and back for him. In fact, I did. Just… he didn’t come back with me. Ashley took a somewhat unsteady breath as the understanding and guilt washed over him. … he *was* being a massive dick. And he had the nerve to be self righteous about it… to lie about it. He hadn’t changed at all. Meeks: THAT’S why I’m not going to give up on you. I don’t want yours in my pocket. Yael: ::bluntly, without looking up from the tag:: It’s fatal. Tony stood there for a moment, preparing a sharp retort at what he initially thought was a smartass reply from Ashley. Then the realization set in that his friend wasn’t talking about the dog tag, or the skydiving trip. Meeks: What the hell are you talking about? What’s fatal? For a moment he didn’t move, then the tag raised, and Ashley moved to hand it to Anthony. Slowly, and a bit unsteady in between two fingers. When he spoke again, it was deeper, and on the verge of anger. Yael: The only difference between him and me is how fast it happens. Quick or slow. Which would *you* pick. Staring into the eyes of the man, Tony saw the determined anger in him. It was from deep within him the emotion manifested, and had bubbled to the surface. It wasn’t depression, nor was it really fear that Tony could see. It was anger. Meeks: ::His voice softening:: What? Now it’s your turn. What are you talking about? Eyes turning up to set on Anthony now, the softer tone did nothing to quell it now that it was loose, and Ashley spoke without thinking, his voice rising. Yael: I’m asking what *you* would pick, Anthony! Fast or slow. WHICH ONE. Because those are the ONLY CHOICES! It’s not up for debate, it doesn’t care if you throw yourself out of a shuttle, or drink yourself under the table. It’s going to kill you ANYWAY! Tony was taken back by the outburst. He had seen the anger in his friend’s eyes, and now he heard it in his voice. It was real now. Meeks: I still don’t get it, Ash. What are you talking about? Are you sick? Trying to physically yank himself back under control and restrain the instinct to continue abusing Anthony, Ashley’s body reacted to the mental effort by jerking backward the last few inches, bumping into the wall and then staying there. The options were the wall, or Anthony, and he couldn’t very well go *through* Anthony. His eyes fell down to the floor, and his posture shrank somewhat. Yael: There’s nothing anyone can do. Neurological disorder. Genetic component. Progressive, degenerative. Watch it happen in slow motion. You pretend to fight the battle, but you can’t win the war. Tony listened to the words, not completely understanding what they meant. He knew Ashley had to deal with some stuff, especially whatever had caused him to have to wear the braces on his arms, but had never thought to ask about it. Ashley was his friend, pure and simple. Tony had never thought any different, and had never considered his friend’s need to wear the braces as anything other than that… something his friend had to do. He always figured it would be up to Ashley to tell him what it was about, when Ashley was ready to. It had never come up in their conversations. Meeks: ::Quietly:: How long? Yael: Quality or quantity? The retort came out sharp like a knife, and the Denobulan had to shake his head and tell himself to bite his tongue. Stop *fighting.* Even though every cell in him told him this was a fight, this wasn’t supposed to be a fight. Yael: Five years? Ten? What’s left after is a life *you* would never accept living. Tony hadn’t expected to be told what he was hearing. He had known there was something underlying in Ashley’s history, something had caused him to have to wear those braces, but hadn’t considered a terminal diagnosis. The braces had never mattered to him because they were just part of Ashely. He had other friends who had to use assistance devices, Sheila Bailey being the nearest to them now, and he didn’t take any of them into consideration as to how he looked at them as the people they were. Frankly, it didn’t matter to him. Standing frozen, his gaze unwavering, Tony processed what he heard. A braced hand came up to cover half his face for a moment, as if it were a mask. Yael: And you won’t need another one of *those.* ::meaning the dog tag:: I haven’t done anything to *rate* one. Meeks: Why didn’t you say something...? Ashley interrupted him sharply, the anger bristling as he lifted his face to look Anthony in the eyes again, no longer cowering under the larger Human. The look in his eyes was *raw*, and the veneer of calm the Denobulan usually wore was completely stripped away. Yael: I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want you to LOOK at me the way you’re looking at me RIGHT NOW! The outburst snapped Tony back to the moment, and the abruptness brought the emotions he was feeling to the surface. It was almost as if he’d been slapped, then slapped again. First when the news had been delivered, then with the angry retort. It was a good thing that his friend wasn’t standing in the corner crying about it any more. Meeks: ::His gaze stiffening:: Do you think you have the corner on the pain market? Tony didn’t raise his voice. In fact, it lowered and contained a bit more bass than usual. Yael: ::caught by the shift in the Marines tone:: What…? No, I... Meeks: We’re all terminal, Ash. From the minute we’re born, we’re terminal. We get to live until we don’t. That’s life. The Denobulan had been all amped up for more of a fight, but immediately backed down at the shift in Anthony’s demeanor… still, somehow he maintained eye contact. The wise statement, however sage it might have been, also made the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end with its delivery. He took a breath in, trying to *think* rather than just react. Yael: I *know* that… I know it, but that’s oversimplifying things. Meeks: How so? Yael: It changes when people know. You’d have held back… The training. The holodeck adventures. Everything had a tone, not just voices. Actions shifted and flowed just like words, and everything would have been different. Subtly, but different. Maybe Tony would have held back in hand to hand training. Maybe he wouldn’t push Ashley so hard. Maybe things would be said differently, more cautiously. As if he were made of glass and might break. There would be “no’s” where in any other case it might be a “yes.” He felt the heat in his ears, the blood rushing into the capillaries as his brain was inundated with oxygen filled blood. He felt the anger swell at the response from his friend. The audacious belief that Tony would have ever treated him differently incensed him, driving him forward. Thoughtfully, Tony reached out and lovingly punched the little Denobulan in the face. The punch was hard, not meant to necessarily hurt the man, but definitely enough to let him know he’d been hit. Ashley stumbled seriously to the side, shock overtaking him as he caught himself on the wall, his eyes watering from the blossoming pain. Meeks: How’s that for treating you different, you little turd? How dare you put those words in my mouth? How dare you take away my choice? Lifting a hand to his face, Ashley tasted blood in his mouth. He was dazed for a moment… then he lifted his eyes to Tony… and with all the energy he could muster he sent his fist into the Marines jaw from beneath. Yael: ::shouting:: I *KNOW* you can hit harder than that! Tony stumbled backward, impressed by the effort his friend had put into the punch. He had hit him hard, and Tony had to take a step to regain his footing. Meeks: ::Rubbing his jaw:: You’ve been working out… Tony dropped his weight onto the balls on his feet, more out of instinct than real need. This had opened a whole new can of worms. Meeks: This what you want, Ash? Yael: I want you to *stop holding back!* Meeks: You’re about to take a ride on the pain train, son. Yael: That’s a lot of bluster coming from someone who won’t follow through with his fis- Tony didn’t let him complete his thought before he lashed out and struck Ashley in the face again. This time, the blow landing against the left cheek under the Denobulan’s eye. The punch had a little more behind it this time, driving Ashley back against the bulkhead. The world went black for a sharp second with this more powerful impact, and Ashley went down on one knee with a grunt of pain as the world spun. A few drops of blue-red blood flicked to the ground when he shook his head to clear his blurred vision. He forced himself back onto his feet, stepping back once unsteadily… but he wasn’t retreating, and he certainly wasn’t thinking… he braced his foot behind him, lowered his shoulder, and with two running steps drove into Anthony’s middle, forcing the larger man momentarily into the air and off his feet before they fell back onto the floor. With a grunt, Tony felt the deck meet his face. The impact sent stars through his vision, and for a moment he was stunned. It took a second to get his thoughts back, but by now the instinct of the fight had taken over. He rolled onto his back and then climbed to his feet. Without consideration, he struck out with a foot, kicking Ashley in the ribs. Meeks: Give it a rest, Ash. You don’t hav… Ugh! The Denobulan had jolted back with the kick, the air forced from his lungs. He clutched his stomach and had to force himself to stay on his feet, coughing and sucking in several breaths of air… haphazardly he pushed forward and threw an elbow into Anthony’s lower gut. It was less an aimed blow, but he still put what little strength he had left into it. In the course of a single conversation he’d gone from PHD to complete idiocy. He wasn’t even trying to *win* anything. He just desperately needed to prove he COULD. He could create a full scale psychological study. He could learn to fire a highly powered rifle. He could move past his limitations. And he could give his own true effort in a fight. With that gut instinct driving him, he spun on his feet, a fist flying behind his momentum and aiming for Tony’s face. But the motion advertised his intent and wasn’t quite as quick as his first blows. He didn’t have the energy to keep it up even if he had the anger to keep going. While the impact might not have been as fast as before, it was still as hard. Stars erupted in Tony’s vision, spurred on by Ashley’s knuckles. Sparkling lights lit up and the shuttle spun around in his vision, but it wasn’t the shuttle that was spinning, it was Tony. He caught himself against the bulkhead and pushed back, countering the momentum and spinning him back around. Thrusting his left fist out, he used the momentum to put what little power he could behind the punch. He didn’t necessarily aim the punch at the Denobulan’s head, but that’s where it landed. The remaining momentum behind the punch drove Tony forward, stumbling him into Ashley. The Denobulan flinched just as the blow came in, but only managed to change the point of impact slightly to the side of his head, then he felt Anthony’s heavy weight bearing down on him. He was forced backward and stumbled himself, and reactively grasped the arm and chest of Tony’s uniform to stop himself falling back. He only managed to bring Tony down on top of himself with a surprised shout. Tony flopped hard on top of his friend, his full weight coming to bear on the little man. Ashley’s knee planted into Tony’s ribs, driven in only by Tony’s weight. There was a nearly inaudible “crack”, but the yelp Tony made could definitely be heard. Slipping off of Ashley, he flopped to the floor and rolled away. It took a few seconds, but Tony pulled himself up onto his hands and knees. The weight of the large Human coming down on him drove the air out of his lungs, and there was a *POP* in his knee as the bony plate was momentarily shoved out of place when Tony’s bones came into contact with it. It slipped back, but the damage had been done, and as Tony moved away defensively he clutched the knee and rolled the other way with a strangled shout of pain. Catching his breath, he forced himself up without using the offended leg, stumbling and using the cockpit chair to balance as he expected another blow forthwith… but was surprised when Tony remained where he was. Meeks: ::Breathing heavily:: You really want to keep going? Tony clutched his gut, trying to rub a little of the discomfort away. He backed up and sat on the bench and spit a clot of blood onto the floor. Wiping the remnants from his mouth, he looked over at the man across the shuttle from him. Yael: You… ::wiping the back of his hand over his mouth, it came away glistening with blood:: … seemed more than happy to… Why’d he stop? The Denobulan wasn’t sure why, but a great sense of relief washed over him. He let himself fall back hard onto his ass on the deck of the holographic shuttle, panting hard and flinching as his knee was jarred. Meeks: Alright… you win. Better? Amethyst eyes flicked up onto the Human, his friend, who for *some* reason was not bashing his skull into the wall. His vision was cloudy from the pain in his face, and his ribs ached where he’d’ been kicked. Yael: … I don’t… think anybody wins this kind of thing. Meeks: ::Spitting again:: You’re probably right. Yael: Are you hurt? He wasn’t asking for his pride. The stupidity of what he’d just done was washing over him as the anger that had fueled him was cured by the pain he now felt. He was fairly sure he couldn’t take Anthony in a fight, so he wasn’t sure how he’d gotten so many blows in. Meeks: Nothing that an icepack won’t fix. You? Tony leaned on his elbows, which were planted on his knees. He could feel the tingling in his upper lip giving way to a low, dull throb. It was swelling, and when he talked it closed funny, causing him to slur his words a little. Yael: ::despite thinking his face was broken:: Same... Meeks: Did I teach you to hit like that? Spitting a mouthful of blood onto the floor next to him, Ashley adjusted his jaw with difficulty before speaking again. Yael: You’re a good teacher. Meeks: Obviously. ::Allowing a slight chuckle:: Yael: You know… you *could’ve* just thrown me out of the shuttle. The Denobulan actually smiled at the thought. Meeks: I could have, but then I’da had to go get ya. This was easier. A smile crept onto Tony’s face, the fat lip protruding, causing it to be very crooked. He had to give the little guy credit. He didn’t hit softly anymore. After a momentary silent reprieve wherein Ashley considered his swelling eye, he took in a deep breath and sighed, slipping back to lay flat on the deck. The momentary anger and thrill of the fight was wearing off quickly. Yael: I invited you here to *apologize.* Not to bash your face in… Tony looked up into his friend’s eyes, their light purple hue contrasting with the darker purple that was forming on Ashley’s cheek. He almost laughed at the sight, but thought better of it. Meeks: Again, not necessary. Yael: I’m sorry I’m a dick. Meeks: Okay, for that I’ll accept your apology. You were being a dick. The Denobulan tried to give him a thumbs up from where he lay on the ground, but it turned into a small wave. Yael: ::quietly:: Awesome. Meeks: One thing you need to realize, Ash. I don’t give up on my friends… ever. I’m afraid you’re stuck with me, ::Grinning again:: ...even if you’re being a dick. Ashley only smiled, even though it hurt his broken face to do it. ***************** 1Lt. Anthony Meeks Company Commander 1/292nd TMR D Co. Starbase 118 Ops/USS Narendra R238801IG0 & Ensign Ashley Yael Counselor Starbase 118 Ops C238211TZ0
  8. It's always a pleasure to see a writer put himself in the skin (or chitin) of a new species, but @Wes Greaves does it magnificently here, giving us a great perspective about the Zets. The trick with the font (which unfortunately doesn't display correctly in half the browsers, so I don't know how it will translate here) is just top notch. Excellent work! __________________________________ Acting Shipmaster Nokzu – The UMF Comes to the Rescue? ((Management & Oversight Center - Endless Golden Penetrator)) The last several hexaclicks had been some of the worst of her life. Nenni rubbed the horny protrusions on the back of her head to try and relieve some of the pressure in her head. They had failed to secure the hull breach and had lost too much fuel. Instead, being able to land on the planetoid they had intended on, instead they were now hurtling toward it with no means to slow down. Many of the centrifugal compartments had been compromised and slowed to a grinding halt and they had taken more hull breaches. A third of the ship had already vented into space. Moreso, they had detected something out past the edge. At first, they couldn’t be entirely sure it wasn’t a comet, but as time had ticked by it became increasingly apparent that their sensors had detected a vessel of some kind, and it was coming right for them. That was nearly five hexaclicks ago. Now the room was dimly lit and nearly abandoned. Nenni had sent the ship’s crew into hiding in the compartments that still had air in them. Either another company had been able to make it past the edge in secret, or there was about to be aliens approaching them. Neither option was a particularly safe one. Especially since they’d received no communications from the approaching vessel. With mere clicks left until intercept, Nenni and Saulan were the only crew in the management center. Silently they waited together wondering what might happen next when suddenly a bright shimmering light filled the front of the massive room. Vaguely Zetenoid shapes began materializing inside the shimmering light. Raising to their full height off their back spurs, the two sprinted to a table and flipped it on its side to take cover. Whispering softly, Nenni turned to Saulan. Nokzu: Have you ever heard of technology like that? Saulan: ? Nokzu: Dear Klin’thu, these might be real aliens… (pause) Be ready for anything my friend. Saulan: ? Nenni unholstered a small handheld device with a tiny protruding metal barrel and kept it pointed toward the ground. Peaking from the corner of the table, she watched as the creatures began making noises to one another. Teller: I heard stories of Orion Slavemasters who us̶̯̅̈́ed to display material wealth like this as a form of...bragg̵̱̀̓ing. Showing off to the others. I think whoever designed this place ̶̠̬́had them all beat. You two getting any readings? Alieth/Jehe: Response Teller: Damn, if spin-ĝ̵̛͈ravity is failing it's going to make our job that much harder. Ensign Jehe, start setting up those pattern enhancers. There seems to be plenty of space. Doctor, let’s see if we can find ạ̷̼̅n interface for the ships computer. If there is one. Alieth/Jehe: Response Nenni turned back to her friend, her eyes wide after watching the short pink and harry things on her ship. As she moved, the object in her hand collided ever so gently against the table and a soft metal clank resounded throughout the compartment. Geoff's head snapped around, a flash of movement on the very edge of his peripheral vision. On the other side of the room, crouched down behind an overturned table, something had tried to sneak a glimpse at them. Teller: Greetings. We're responding to your distress call. Can you understand me? The noises the creature made began twisting through the air and in Nenni’s mind until finally they resolved into something coherent. In common. oO How… Oo She traded looks with Saulan and stoof from behind the table. Compared to the deathless Nenni was short, but being face to face with these hairy creatures she felt like a towering presence. oO Is this how the deathless see us? Oo Nokzu: I… I understand you. How… is this possible? Who are you? Saulan: Response Teller: My name is Commander Geoffrey Teller, from the Federation Starship Thor. We're here to help you. ::Geoff tried to be diplomatic:: Nice..uh...nice ship you've got here. Nenni blinked her six eyes simultaneously. Federation? The United Mercantile Federation? That made no sense. Sure, they were working on a competitor ship to the Golden Penetrator, but the company’s best information said that the Penetrator was years ahead of them on development. Besides, how could they have this technology and no one know about it? And this crew, the creatures that spoke in strange noises, but somehow, she could understand. It all made no sense. Saulan: ? Nokzu: And I am Acting Shipmaster Nenni Nokzu. The UMF sent you to our aid? I’m sorry, I don’t exactly understand. Teller/Alieth/Jehe: ? Saulan: ? Nenni tried to take in it all. The noises the creatures made seemed to echo slightly from their language into common, and some of their words were hard to follow. Nokzu: You said you’re here to help. Saulan can describe the damage we have, but our biggest issue right now is fuel. Does your ship have any to spare? Teller/Alieth/Jehe/Saulan: ? Tags! and TBC! ========================= Nenni Nokzu Acting Shipmaster Endless Golden Penetrator E239702WG0 =========================
  9. ((Bajoran Temple Gardens - Starbase 118 Ops)) ((Day Two - Bajoran Gratitude Festival)) Ashley was feeling better since being treated for the love poisoning at the Gratitude Festivals first day. He’d slept well, a solid three hours that night, and felt *great* actually. Probably due to his long pseudo-hibernation nap the day before. He was definitely well rested. Things were still bustling on the second day of the festival, and it didn’t appear the energy would ebb off for a long while yet. Plenty of people were drinking, but no one was out of control or problematic, despite the flowing drinks. The memory of yesterdays event didn’t seem to diminish the celebration. That was one thing he really liked about Bajoran culture. It was resilient in the face of just about anything. The Denobulan hybrid smiled almost longingly at the celebrating drinkers. He *used* to drink. It was the only time he’d been able to let his guard down, and really be a *person* past all the self-imposed limitations and restrictions he used to live beneath. The recent poisoning had been much like being drunk, in a way… and had reminded him of how it felt. A little out of control. A little free. A bit *exciting.* Things were different now though. He was so much more a real person than the shadow he’d been. At least… he was trying his best. What he *wasn’t* trying to be anymore was perfect. He was more able to accept his faults, his failures, his very Human and Denobulan issues, while also not dwelling on them. Facing them was unpleasant, at times… but not facing them had nearly broken him. Drinking had eventually become a vehicle for his self destruction, so it had been cut out. He’d gone to rehab on Earth and hadn’t touched a drop in over two years… every time he walked into Verriar’s bar and walked out sober, it was a small victory for him. It was part of the reason he sought her establishment out. To be surrounded by it and not partake, it gave him a sense of strength he used to have to fake. Lately though, he no longer felt the confidence was fake. And that was more freeing than anything he could imbibe. Stepping up to one of the flaming braziers, he lifted his Renewal Scroll to the rim and let it fall into the cup. He’d had it in his jacket pocket the day before, and it had been forgotten after the excitement. Now it was a little crumpled, but still good. He intended to complete the Bajoran ritual. The flame turned a light blue for a moment as the parchment was incinerated in the small, steady flame. Turning from the brazier, he stepped away from it with the intention of enjoying the evening further… but stopped dead in his tracks. Not ten paces away stood an older Denobulan, dressed in traditionally conservative cut tan clothing, with piercing dark purple eyes. There was more girth and weight to his frame, with about five inches height on him as well. However, the strikingly similar features were clear. Yael: Father…?! Ashley didn’t manage to avoid sounding surprised. His stomach clenched… they were surrounded by celebrating people and noise and chatter, and it all drowned out to the sudden pounding of his heart in his own ears. His mind began to race with the “why” of it. It had been over TEN YEARS since they’d last spoke. Why was he here *now*?! Phax: Deneve. Ashley’s initial reaction dulled as he blanched out his expression and set cautious eyes on the older Denobulan. He tried to drown out any expression on his face that couldn’t be called neutral. Yael: I go by Ashley. Phax: Yes, I know. Your *Human* name. There was a silent pause that was pregnant with disapproval. Ashley didn’t move. Barely breathed. His father had turned against liking Humans since his wife… Ashley’s mother… had left him when their son was only seven years old. The older Denobulans disposition had never improved since… the memory of him praying for the school year on Denobula to end so he could travel back to Earth hit him with force and crystal clarity. Yael: What brings you to Starbase 118? Phax: There’s a medical conference on Rigel Four. I’ll be presenting to the neurologists present. This starbase is on the way, and the transport stopped for the Festival. ::pausing:: The computer told me where to find you. Ashley forced himself to smile pleasantly, but wasn’t sure he pulled it off. Yael: I see. You’re looking well. Phax: You’ve gained weight. It was said in a way that one could never decipher if it was a compliment or a critique. Ashley *had* gained a few pounds in the past years, after getting healthier. He was no longer painfully thin, and was typically happy about that. Now… he tried not to let his posture shrink. He kept his shoulders up and back, somehow. Yael: I’ve taken to exercising regularly. Phax: And you’ve taken to wearing *those*. Clear and dripping disapproval as his father motioned to the electro-stabilizing braces on his wrists and hands. He suddenly felt *sharply* self-conscious about them. He wished he had worn jacket from the day before… instead, he’d left it behind in his quarters and gone with the simple gunmetal grey turtleneck and black pants, with nice boots. He’d even pushed his sleeves up his forearms… he’d barely thought twice anymore about showing off the braces. He’d grown less shy of others seeing them after his friends had had roundly positive reactions to them. Now, he had to stop his instinct wanting to pull his sleeves back down… he didn’t want to seem reactionary… but he wasn’t wearing nearly enough armor for this sudden encounter. Yael: I find them to be quite useful. Phax: It would be less *embarrassing* for you if you had the bilateral brain surgery to suppress your symptoms. Yael: That surgery only has a 39% success rate, and can cause deficiencies that are worse than any of my current symptoms. Dark violet eyes set on him… they hardly changed at all, but Ashley internally cringed. He had to stop himself stepping back instinctively as he *felt* the threat in them. His father moved now, taking several steps closer until he was standing nearly at his side… and he had to swallow an irrational amount of fear as the man stepped closer. Phax looked past him and into the flaming brazier he’d just slid his Renewal Scroll into. Ashley didn’t move, setting his eyes in the distance, now looking past him into the crowd. There was a long pause as Phax surveyed the crowd silently, and Ashley stayed silent. Phax: How is your mother doing these days? Has she remarried? In his mind he scrambled for an honest answer that wouldn't betray his mothers privacy to the man she had cut out of her life. He called on the diplomacy he'd learned in years past to mediate an appropriately vague response that wouldn't inspire his fathers less charming side. Yael: She's quite happy, and has said she hopes you are as well. Phax: Mmm. ::he nodded as if this answer was relatively acceptable, then...:: Shouldn’t you be doing something more *important* with your time? Yael: My crew is enjoying leave at the moment. The Gratitude Festival is highly valued by our Bajoran crew. Phax: It looks like an excuse for a party. Whereas Ashley might have said the same phrase with joy or excitement, Deneve Phax said it with an air of disdain that was not subtle, and was obvious in its judgement. Phax: But I *suppose* you could finally find a lady friend at an event like this. Make some grandchildren for me. It would be about time. Yael: ::blandly:: I’ll get right on that. Phax: ::continuing regardless of his sons tone:: When I heard you’d gone active duty with Starfleet again I had *hoped* it was for something valuable. You’re still pretending to be a doctor, then? Yael: The field of psychology does not lose value just because you don't *respect* it. The words were out of his mouth before he could stop them, and in a crisp tone he finally couldn't control. He instantly regretted saying it as his fathers dark eyes slid over and onto him. They stood mere feet apart, nearly shoulder to shoulder… not matched in height… and he felt himself being looked down on. He felt it in his BONES. Phax: Don’t get defensive with me. There was a warning in those words… and Ashley couldn’t help but swallow his fear. It was becoming exceedingly more difficult not to physically shrink. Instead he smiled again, forcibly, turning to look at his father directly. Yael: I wouldn’t dream of it. He had to look up to match his fathers gaze… and his skin crawled when the man smiled down at him, his crows feet folding slightly deeper as he did so. Ashley kept his own smile on his face by force of will. Phax: When you make the decision to have the surgery, don’t go to someone else. I have a *43%* success rate. His father reached up with one hand and tightly grasped Ashley’s shoulder, giving him a slight but firm shake. To anyone watching, it might have seemed like a friendly gesture. But inside his guts Ashley had a visceral reaction to the touch. His mind froze as his father squeezed his shoulder, and every muscle in his body stiffened. There was a silent disgust that ran through him, and his stomach threatened to roll over. Then… the hand was gone, and his father walked away without so much as a goodbye, disappearing into the crowd. The Denobulan hybrid stood there, frozen, his skin crawling with invisible spiders… it was stunning how sharp and prickling the sensation was this time. The forced smile melted from his features… and he stood there, unmoving, bidding the contents of his stomach to *stay* in his stomach. He suddenly took a deep breath, having unconsciously been holding it, then thought to look around him. There were some Bajorans nearby glancing at him… he was just *standing* there alone, which probably seemed curious. One looked like they might be about to come over, so he took to a suddenly quick pace toward the turbolift in the opposite direction his father had gone. If he was going to vomit, he didn't want it to happen in public. Ensign Ashley Yael Counselor Starbase 118 Ops C238211TZ0
  10. Amanda (the writer behind Alora) has let me read this marvel today and, of course, I think it should be here. I think the positiveness, how well she knows the characters, the rhyme, everything, makes her a great and super considerate sim with her fellow writers. @Alora DeVeau you do better this site being here Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau - "Merry Christmas" (FAO: ALL) OOC: Since the mission started way before Christmas, I thought it would be nice to assume they celebrate Christmas afterward ICly. I was going to hold off on this for a few more days, but you know what? I think tonight is a great night to spread some cheer. Thank you for being here, my Ops family. Y'all are a gift, and I'm grateful to have each and every one of you. I'm grateful to be a part of this awesome online community. You are dearly loved. ❤️ IC: ((Starbase 118 Ops - All Over The Place)) Twas two nights before Christmas and throughout 118 Not a creature was stirring, it was quite late. The children were tucked in their beds for the night, The late shift was waiting for dawn’s early light. Yet among the shadows a form slipped unseen Dark hair tumbling down and eyes of bright green. A mischievous smile played upon her fair face As she swept through the halls of the sleeping Starbase. She came to the first set of doors in the hallway And left a wrapped package then laughed and sped away. From quarters, to quarters, to quarters she flew Leaving more packages shiny and new. Each one was unique and quietly brought, Each one wrapped with care, each one filled with thoughts Of sweetness and light, of the happy yule season, The desire to bring joy twas her only reason. Whiskey was given to the Vulcan marine, Made and aged on earth, its tone rich and clean. For the first officer with girlfriend so loving, Two tickets to listen to some klingons singing. For Ishani Kasun, twas something she wished, Candied chilis were now marked off of her list. And for the unborn child, sure to be sweet, A warm purple quilt within a package wrapped neat For Prudence the figure of a unicorn, Silky white body and silvery horn, A woman she hoped would be a good friend, Reminded her nothing ever would end. For Talas, she left at the door of his lair, A scroll for his wall, a Bajoran prayer. For Nalni two brightly coloured bouquets, Of some silken flora to brighten her days. Handmade cherry blossom comb and barrette Was left for the kind Sheila Bailey to get. For Taelon a real book filled with the glories Of Isaac Asimov's amazing stories. A blue yukata with blossoms of cherries Was left for his daughter, the lovely Cyri. A custom katana was made for the one, The counselor by the name of Ruwon. For Ditala, amber jewelry that shone Was given to her now, her very own. Canvas and paints were left very neatly For the Ariana who smiled so sweetly. A real record player Maxwell received A rather neat gift that she had achieved. A model of the USS Narendra she gave Williams in honour of new friendship to pave Drevas received Tolkien, carefully bound With stories of hobbits roaming around. And Andrews found in his box full of cheer Two bottles of wine from a very good year. Solaris, Casino Royale was gifted Signed by the author. As the lady drifted She moved place to place, and then door to door Alora had only a few presents more. Yet those could not be left by the front door, For those required a little bit more. Later in person, she knew she’d give out The presents for those she couldn’t leave out. For Tony and Ashley, friends loved so much, For Wyn and for Sal, well theirs was just such To be given in person, not in a box For now, Alora slunk away like a fox And into the night, she softly did call. Merry Christmas, my friends, to one and all. -- Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau Chief Science Officer Starbase 118 Ops al...@blar.net M239008AD0
  11. I have always said that one of the great advantages of our format (and one of the things I really like to read and aspire to be able to portray one day with my writing) is consequences. Although we write in an episodic way, more or less, what we write affects our characters, polishes them or breaks them and changes their way of seeing the world and relating to others. To witness these two wonderful writers here, dealing with the consequences of the previous mission as the starting gun for a new one is delightful, and I could have read six more parts of it. @Alex Brodieand @Tony, aka Kells being great here as usual. Kudos, guys JP: Flt. Capt. Kells & Lt. Cmdr. Brodie - “Shouldering A Burden” ((Captain’s Ready Room, Deck 1, USS Thor)) Alex had one more stop on his rounds and it was the highest office in the land - or at least the highest office on the ship. He pressed the chime on the outside of the door and waited to be admitted. Kells: Come in, Counselor. Brodie had only seen Kells twice since he’d been injured on New Bajor. The first was immediately in the wake of his injuries while he was still convalescing in his biobed and the second was when he had breezed into, and then out of, his office to hand him some more items for his ‘fruit salad’. The man was due a follow-up as his injuries, even to Alex’s medically untrained eye, had looked quite severe and it was the damage and injuries you couldn’t see that concerned him. He stepped through the door and found Kells sitting at his desk fighting the greatest enemy of Starfleet and the Federation - admin. Brodie: Captain, thank you for seeing me. Aron offered a wan smile. He’d just finished with a round of comm calls, in which he’d assigned teams and tasks ahead of the Thor’s arrival at the ship (if it was a ship) that was apparently in distress (if indeed it was). They had several hours or travel time, so Aron had left himself only half an hour for this appointment. It was meant to be longer than that, but even half an hour felt like a luxury at the moment, even with the travel time. Going to counseling at all felt a little like a luxury, though Aron tried to dismiss this thought. It was a persistent and untrue belief among captains that counseling wasn’t necessary, but Aron had always tried to instill the opposite in himself and in his officers. Now, more than ever, he tried to cling to that. Kells: Thank you, Alex. I’m afraid it needs to be short today, in the light of this distress call. Alex nodded with a frown and gestured back towards the door he had just come through and bridge that lay beyond. Brodie: Aye, I heard something on those lines as I was walking through - all sounds very mysterious. Alex couldn’t help but think back to the Fortuna. That had been a very mysterious distress call too...back when he had first joined the fleet. He hoped this would play out slightly better for Salo, Jehe, Udro and other new arrivals to the Thor. Kells: And speaking of, I’d like you to grab Doctor Quen and Ensign Dar sometime in the next few hours. I don’t know whether we’ll be dealing with refugees or annoyed pirates or broken robots or what, but between the three of you, I think you can handle anything that might need our assistance. This was a broad order and Aron knew it. At the moment, though, he didn’t think he had anything more to give. He hoped that the science officers on the bridge and his own strat ops team would be able to provide both the counselor’s team and Geoff’s away team with more information as the Thor approached the signal’s point of origin. Brodie: ::smiling:: So...prepare for everything then? :::Taking a seat:: Although, if it is any of the above three then I’m well practiced. Anyway, we’ve some time before we’re there and I’m sure Geoff can handle anything that might come up in the meantime...so...push ::gesturing to the pile of PADDS:: all that to one side for a moment and take a moment to breathe. Kells: I know, I know, no work. (beat) Okay. That’s the last I’ll think about it. That was a lie and they both knew it, but Aron screwed his eyes shut for a moment, hoping that it would be enough to signal to his thoughts that he wanted a brief respite. Brodie: So, somewhat later than I’d have liked but our respective schedules have kept clashing, but - how are you? ::Eying the PADDS again:: Other than slightly over worked? The question, much like Kells’ order, was broad. It was one of the hardest questions to answer but it left nothing off the table and it wasn’t as much what was said but how it was said. The body language, the facial expressions as they thought on an answer could give away a great many things. Kells: (quickly) I’ve been fine. (beat, more normal) You know, the Gratitude Festival helped. It was better to have some downtime. But even as he said so, Aron’s expression caught for a moment. The Festival had also meant that he had been back down on New Bajor, and although he’d been nowhere near the place where he’d been shot, just beaming down had been enough of a struggle. The change in expression did not go unnoticed - action units one, four and fifteen...with a few other things thrown in. Brodie: I’m told it was quite a ceremony...and I’m glad you’ve been able to get a little respite, you have been through a lot. ::He pointed to the man's arm:: How is the shoulder by the way? Kells: It’s healing as expected. Our medical staff work wonders. Brodie: ::Nodding:: They certainly do...probably a little lingering stiffness for a while. It’s amazing how much you move your shoulder though the working day. Brodie knew from his own experience how painful and linering something as, relatively, simple as a stab wound was. He was fairly sure that massive explosive damage would take a little longer. Kells: I’ve been learning just how much. I had no idea, really. Brodie: Any other effects? ::Pause:: Obviously everyone reacts to a traumatic event differently - psychologically speaking. Sometimes it’s very obvious - flashbacks, nightmares for example. Aron started to answer, to say that he hadn’t had any after-effects. But Brodie had given him extreme examples. Aron hadn’t experienced nightmares after this, and he certainly had before. But that wasn’t exactly what Brodie was asking, and he knew it. Kells: I haven’t had those (beat) particular symptoms. Brodie: Other times it can be more subtle...numbing or avoidance tactics…::Glancing at the PADDs again:: Distracting oneself with work to try and restore normality...for example. Kells: (with a brief smile) Definitely that. Brodie: ::Smiling slightly himself:: I’m only-half joking...do you feel you’ve been coping well? Kells: Generally, some difficulty concentrating. Trouble sleeping, sometimes. And I’ve felt either like I have too much or too little energy. Alex nodded, hyperarousal was another tell-tale sign. Brodie: Now, I think we both know that’s not quite right. Again Aron smiled briefly. Kells: Don’t worry. I’m not going to say I’m fine and dismiss you. But this isn’t my first time in a situation like this, or in dealing with post-traumatic stress. This was, Aron thought for a moment, its own problem. How upsetting was it that he thought of this sort of fallout as normal for an officer with a long service record? But that was a systemic problem, and one that he couldn’t solve with Brodie in the next twenty minutes. Kells: I want to continue to work with you, Alex, but you have to trust me, too. I can’t manage without help, but I can manage with help, and that’s where I need you. Kells: I can still function as this crew’s CO, with the support I need. Alex leaned forwards in his chair. Brodie: Aron, ::He deliberately used the man's first name:: if I thought for a single moment that you were not capable of commanding this vessel through a psychological impairment we wouldn’t be having this conversation alone. We would be having it in my office, with Alieth and Geoff present, and I would do my duty and be relieving you of command. Alex had read the man's file, as much as was available to him without seeking additional clearance, and he was aware that he had been through a great deal throughout his career - particularly his time aboard the Drake and the Mercury. He could tell they must have been bad...if he’d have made a word cloud the latest would be ‘Redacted’. He’d ask him about it one day...but now wasn’ the time to open up old wounds while the new ones were still healing. Kells: (quietly) I know. Brodie: Like I say - we’re not there. I guess what I’m saying is I do trust you...and you need to trust me. We’ve both got your well-being, and that of the crew, at the top of our agenda. I’ll just say - don’t suffer in silence, it isn’t worth it. Kells: I can promise that I won’t. Which sounded as though he wouldn’t, but that isn’t what Aron had meant. He appreciated Brodie’s presence, and the fact that he had a staff of counselors at all spoke to the fact that Starfleet valued the mental health of all their officers. Brodie was on the bridge, too, with the rest of the bridge crew and (not incidentally) most of the senior staff, and Aron knew that the placement wasn’t simply coincidental. Brodie: The door is always open - nothing is too trivial and no hour is too late or too early. Like you say, you need support - and I’m here to provide it. Kells: I’ll take you up on that. (beat, then seriously) I know that you wouldn’t hesitate to act in the best interest of the crew. I hope that I wouldn’t, either, if I was compromised. But having your assessment is still -- reassuring. Brodie: ::Alex widened his arms:: Reassurance is just one of the many services we offer down on Deck Ten. Aron took a deep breath, which he let out in a short sigh. Kells: As soon as we’ve completed this current mission, I’ll want to meet again, and more frequently. Brodie: And I’d be happy to oblige, or if not me then one of my colleagues. He was thinking of Salo although given he was the chief counsellor and any ultimate decision to make changes to a flag officers duty would be scrutinised heavily he would be aiming to manage this one personally. Kells: Of course. And feel free to shuffle me around to your colleagues. I know you have plenty of other patients. Aron frowned slightly. Was that the right word? Was he a patient at that moment, and would he no longer be when he and Brodie left the ready room? He wasn’t sure, but he also wasn’t sure what else he might call himself in the moment -- a client, a customer? No, everything else sounded wrong. Alex had worked in medical care, where they tended to be patients. Research, where they were called participants. Private practice, where they tended to be clients. Alongside FedSec, where they tended to be called convicts….and once at a dabo tournament, where they were called competitors. Personally he always prefered client. They were availing themselves of his services and he was there to service their needs...a humble servant. Did that make them masters? Counsellee...was that even a word? He snapped back from whatever thought he was having...Kells appeared to be the same. Brodie: Well ::Standing up:: I suppose I should track down Deena and Elandra and assemble the continency committee. Rest assured, Captain, we’ll be ready for whatever awaits us. Kells: (slight smile) I know that, too. Brodie: As I said, the door is always open. Kells: I’ll take advantage of it, believe me. Aron stood as well, and offered his hand. He had been a patient -- or client -- a few moments ago, but with the appointment finished, he needed to become the ship’s CO. He slipped back into the role as if he was donning a comfortable old shirt. Kells: Keep me apprised of your progress, Commander. If I’m unavailable, Commander Garcia has the conn. Brodie: Aye Sir, I’ll let you know as soon as preparations are complete. Although, as he left, he did wonder exactly what they were preparing for. END Simmed By Fleet Captain Aron Kells Commanding Officer USS Thor V238208LV0 & Lt. Cmdr. Alexander Brodie Chief Counselor USS Thor NCC-82607 Writer ID.: A239005BM0 ------------------------------------
  12. This is a really nicely written sim JP from @Quinn Reynolds(Commander Valen Carys) and @Alleran Tan (Mikali sh'Shar) concerning his Andorian character coming to terms with her issues. Counselling sessions are never the easiest to write, but when it's done like this, and you can tell the writer has looked into the subject to portray it accurately, it's lovely to see. Well done, guys! Discovering New Oceans, Parts I-V ---- ((Recovery Room, Sickbay, Iana Station, Stardate 239711.25, Day 38 of 365)) After twenty-five days in the recovery room, longer than she had actually spent in her dorm, Mikali sh'Shar packed up the last of her gear into a thick duffel bag, tidied up the room, made the bed, adjusted her eyepatch, told the computer she was checking out and left. The nurses and doctors outside seemed reluctant to see her go, each taking their turn to shake hands, wave, or say goodbye. Maybe it was true what O-J had said—this place rarely had any really sick people, so that room had almost never been used before, and most of those perfectly qualified Starfleet doctors with all their years in medical school doing extremely basic things. Fixing the occasional bump or scrape, removing inserted objects, and maybe a broken bone on the holodeck. Nothing like her exotic Andorian brain-rot. Whatever the truth of the matter, they seemed genuinely glad she was okay and sad to see her go. Mikali resolved to check in with them occasionally since they all seemed like decent folk, and people who didn't dislike her immediately were rare. And they didn't even stare at her eyepatch. With her bag slung over her shoulder, sh'Shar had her head high as she walked out of sickbay, turned left, and went to the counselling suite. ((Counselling Suite)) Mikali was, as had become her custom, early to her appointment. She waited in a chair in the lobby until the appointed time, her bag of stuff from the recovery ward parked by her feet, PADD in hand. She made some last-minute adjustments to her dot-points, and then when it was time, she tucked her PADD under her arm, walked over to the door and pressed the chime. Valen: It's open. Mikali opened the door, smiling broadly as she did so. Little had changed from her last visit, light streaming in through a [...] sunlight and brightening the room, the same Bajoran art and calligraphy hanging on the walls, the diverse sculptures still in the same home as before. The flowers had changed, lending the suggestion they were real rather than artificial. Yet the place looked different with one eye. Flatter. Like some kind of painting. sh'Shar: Hi, Carys. Sorry I missed you during all the recent um... stuff. I got discharged today, so I'm here. Mug already in hand, Carys sipped her raktajino while Mikali said hello. She looked even more casual than she did the last time the Andorian saw her; jacket tossed over the back of an easy chair, teal collar unfastened to the hollow of her throat, sleeves rolled up to the elbow. Formality wasn't something that came easily to the Bajoran, but it was a trait that a counsellor could get away with more easily than many. Valen: And you came straight here? ::Eyebrows twitching upward, the glint in her eyes did not quite match the slight smile she wore.:: That is dedication. Maybe dedication, maybe not, but Mikali understood that it was important to address this problem as soon as possible. She took her seat, laying her duffel bag down by her feet, and took a deep breath. sh'Shar: So. Firstly, I'm feeling a lot better, better than I have in years actually, and also, I'm... sorry. The Bajoran's footfalls were quiet on the soft carpet as she crossed over to the relaxed seating. If she was at all nonplussed with the lack of preamble, it didn't show. Valen: For what? One-Joke had asked her the same thing. Her answer was that she had caused a scene. This time, though, she had a better one. sh'Shar: I got sick. It was preventable, and I made people worry. People including yourself. And... I let fear and insecurity cause this problem. ::She winced, taking a breath.:: If you're okay with it, I think maybe discussing these insecurities could be a good way forward. So this doesn't happen again. What do you think? Carys regarded her for a moment, a shrewd look in her eyes despite the smile curling at the edges of her mouth. She set her raktajino down next to the PADD on the small side table beside her chair and paused before she took a seat. Valen: I think that's a positive step forward. Would you like anything to drink before we start? Something to drink. It was tempting to suggest something a little more interesting—she had started having hasperat again after all—but a voice nagged at the back of her head. One step at a time. sh'Shar: Just water, thanks. With a nod, Carys moved to the coffee table where a crystal jug and matching glasses sat. She poured out a glass and Mikali took it when offered, cupping it in both hands, just holding it for now. The Bajoran stepped back and settled herself into her seat, legs crossed, PADD balanced on her lap as before. She inhaled to speak, but Mikali slid in first. sh'Shar: I... ::Mikali really didn't know where to go with this. She just spoke off the cuff, saying whatever came to her head first.:: When I lost my eye and got my hand mangled on the Indy, the whole thing that started this recent series of mistakes... I was proud of it. I know it's weird to say, but I was proud. My actions on that day made the difference... everyone on-board was saved because of me. ::She said it again.:: I made the difference. The counsellor nodded. Mikali had made a determined effort to be here, straight out of sickbay, and clearly been turning a lot of thoughts over during her recovery time. And she didn't comment or interject, letting the stream-of-consciousness spill out of the Andorian's mind without anything to break the flow. sh'Shar: I feel like when I tell people that I want to make a difference in what I do, they don't believe me. I feel like they don't believe me for entirely reasonable reasons; the more someone knows me, the more that... comes out, I guess. They think, no, this is just some kind of scam, this is her latest little game she's playing, she just has some other motive, you know? They don't... they don't think I actually want to—I don't know. Do that. Finally, sh'Shar sipped some of her water. sh'Shar: I just feel like it's hard for me, because—uhh, because... ::She hesitated.:: I've been in long-term care twice now. Once in rehab, after my... relapse, and once after the eye and the hand. In that time, both times, nobody came to visit me. Luna saw me on the DS-17 promenade before the surgery, which was nice, but nobody actually went out of their way to visit me when I was there. It was lonely. It felt like a punishment. Like I deserved it. Another sip. sh'Shar: They all had their reasons of course. To get the implant I had to go aaaaall the way back to Earth, and by the time it was all done, the Indy was a wreck. They were all moved to the Tiger and they had a new helmsman and there was no Air Group for me to come back to. Understandable. And after the Avandar the crew got split up, sent to different places, and I was all the way on Andor... understandable. They had their reasons, but still, you know, nobody came. Reaching for her mug, Carys took a draught of the raktajino, the rich flavours of the bitter Klingon drink washing over her palate. She was an attentive listener, her focus on the woman in front of her. Note-taking was second nature to the counsellor at this point in her career, and her slim fingers moved over the PADD with almost no conscious thought given to it. sh'Shar: So it means a lot to me that you did. And Catscratch, that lousy Caitian, did. And One-Joke did. And Serren did. And Tasha did. And that... has never happened to me before. Valen: Why do you think that is? Mikali was quiet for a moment, antenna drooping, her gaze sinking down to the floor. sh'Shar: I have two answers, and I think the truth lies somewhere in between. One... I push people away with my negative behaviours, and it doesn't seem like I'm the kind of person that would go out of my way to be kind to others, so I get no kindness in return. If it's more that, that's good, because it might be fixable in the long term. With... with your help. Valen: And the other? Mikali's antenna sank a little lower. sh'Shar: The other is that they simply knew me better. That they could see the real me. That back in the day I was as glass, my true self revealed to the world, and they knew. They knew I was poison. To my friends, to my crewmates, to—m-maybe even to Benna. Certainly to her other parents. ::Mumbling,:: Maybe they just knew me better. Valen: But you believe the truth is somewhere between that. sh'Shar: Truth be told I don't know what to believe. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Before all this... ::She tapped her eyepatch.:: recent nonsense, I was sure it was the latter. But after spending weeks in bed with nothing to do but think, and with a lot of old memories fresh in my mind, I... I don't know anymore. What do you think? Many things. Some of which were helpful, others were not. Carys considered her response; what her formal education said, what her clinical experience told her, and distilled it down into the plain language of a response. And as with so many things, particularly when it came to the discrete universe that was an individual, there wasn't a simple answer. Valen: I think the truth is complicated. ::She offered the woman a slight smile.:: A combination of who you are, how you've treated people, and the realities of life in Starfleet. Mikali nodded awkwardly. It was probably true, and there was absolutely the case that Starfleet life interfered with the wants and goals and desires of its fellows. sh'Shar: I understand. And I agree. ::Straightening her back, Mikali's antenna slowly returned to their normal hover.:: Can you offer any advice regarding how I can feel better about it, or even better, work toward fixing it? After getting sick, I'm feeling quite proactive regarding heading off any other similar incidents before they become an issue. ::She smirked slightly.:: I guess all that rest paid off. Valen: Well, that depends. What's the specific "it" that you want to fix? It was hard to explain and she took a moment to gather her thoughts to prevent rambling. sh'Shar: Sometimes, such as recently with the prosthetic malfunction, I avoid fixing problems even though I know they're problems and I know how to fix them, but the actions required are... ::She wanted to say "unpalatable" or "difficult", but neither of them accurately conveyed how she felt.:: The actions required might make someone think less of me, or hurt a cause I'm working toward. So I just accept all the suffering for myself, try to push through it and I can't, because I have, um, limits and things. And then it's bad. ::She scrunched up her face, trying to convey how she felt.:: For example, I didn't want to go see anyone about the eye because if I took so much time off, so early, it might look bad. Even though I should have gone. Carys held her tongue, giving Mikali space and time to find a way to communicate what she was feeling and thinking. Often the language people chose was as telling as the meaning, revealing small details about their beliefs and views, digressions a useful insight into their thought processes. sh'Shar: Sorry, I'm struggling a bit to... ::Her antenna perked up, remembering.:: Actually, I wrote this down! I knew I was going to mess everything up so I wrote it down. Hang on. She fumbled around in her duffle bag, producing a PADD which was triumphantly turned on. Mikali scrolled through the stored data until she came to a bullet list. She offered it over. sh'Shar: This is what I was working on during all that time in sickbay. It was kinda my... notes to myself, but I figured you'd be reading them at some point too, so it's kinda to you as well. Carys shook her head, the silver chains of her earring swinging back and forth. When she'd asked Mikali to keep a journal, she hadn't specifically said it was for her eyes only—but that was the intention. Beyond a respect for privacy, and the intention to help Mikali learn ways to organise and review her inner thoughts, the Bajoran simply didn't have the time to read and review everything her patients wrote between sessions. Valen: They're yours and they're private; I only read them if you want to show them to me. If you find it's useful, it's a tool you can keep using to organise your thoughts, once you're no longer seeing me. That... was actually a good idea. Mikali had found that writing things down made them clearer; when she used her words, they tended to come out as a messy jumble. But when dictated to the computer, and then cleaned up manually, they came out much more ordered. sh'Shar: I definitely will consider that, and it seems like a good idea. Maybe that's just how my brain works. ::Mikali fiddled with the PADD.:: I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, though, and this does much better. She offered the PADD again, not demandingly, but cautiously. With a small smile, Carys took it, and her brown eyes dropped to the glowing text, reading over the fruits of Mikali's stay in sickbay. WHAT HAPPENED: (AKA, "I guess that's why they call it Eye-ana Station, huh?") • I got sick. • It was my own fault. • It won't happen again. • To elaborate, back in the day, I lost my eye on the Independence-A, piloting the ship through an unstable wormhole full of debris. It was extraordinarily difficult, and it took every ounce of my piloting skill to get us through. • I'm proud of that moment. Probably my most proud moment. Despite being severely injured, I stayed at my post, I saved the ship and the lives of all the crew. Nobody else onboard could have done what I did. • I'm proud of my actions that day, and if I had my time over again, I would do it all over again the same way. • Since then, I've had a prosthetic finger and eye. The finger is normal, I hardly notice it, but the eye's colour range was kinda weird. I got used to it. • Over the last few years, the eye has been malfunctioning. Since I took the trip to the Tyrellian system, it got a lot worse. • Finger is fine, by the way. • I didn't want to go see anyone about the eye because I wanted to have perfect attendance and excellent work performance, and I didn't want to take time off since I was worried about how that might look. • This was... if you'll forgive me a pun... short sighted. Hah! • My health is important. • My career is important. • There is, to a certain extent, a point where the former has to be sacrificed for the latter; in our work lives, our home lives, our personal lives... we have to sometimes step outside of our comfort zone and endure discomfort, pain, injury, even death. • Ideally, these circumstances should be minimised if possible. Nobody should die to do the dishes. But given my line of work, they might happen again. • Good judgement is when the circumstances are evaluated and weighed, where our priorities fit the circumstances, and where if possible one's health is taken care of first, and if not possible, at our earliest convenience. Good judgement is when people are sensible and reasonable, where the cost-benefit ratio of our actions is correctly weighed, and we act accordingly. • Obviously that didn't happen this time. I didn't use good judgement. • I promise to use good judgement on my health from now on. When the Bajoran finished reading the PADD, she leaned back in her chair and took a slow breath. Thoughts tumbled behind her dark gaze, processing what she just read and learned, theorising and planning based on this new information. After a few button presses on both devices, she handed the PADD back to its owner. Valen: You thought about a lot during your stay. ::She sat back in her chair, hands resting lightly in her lap.:: If you look over that, can you tell me what you feel it is you need to work on? sh'Shar: So I guess my question is, how can I use "good judgement" on things beyond my health, and in other things in my life? I know it might be a difficult question to answer, and it might be a long-term project, but... I think this would make me a lot happier. Eventually. She wasn't wrong. The Andorian's history was replete with incidents where she'd exercised poor judgement; rash and impulsive decisions, choices considered with a narrow focus and no regard to the bigger picture, allowing one mistake to deteriorate into a downward spiral. But there was a part of her life Carys didn't know about, a period not in her file and one they hadn't discussed. Knowing what Mikali had done since her discharge—what choices she'd made, how she'd lived her life—was vital to understand how to help her. Valen: No doubt. Before we tackle that, there's something I'd like to ask you. I know a fair amount about your past before Starfleet and during Starfleet, but I don't really know what you've been doing in the six years since you left the service. Can you talk me through it? That was a hard question, and one which would take a considerable amount of time to answer without abridging. Mikali did her best. sh'Shar: I... tried a lot of things, actually. She stopped, letting her brain catch up with her mouth. There were so many things, so many attempts, so many half-attempts, so many thoughts that never amounted to any action. She tried to start from the beginning. sh'Shar: I spent a sizable amount of it in court, trying to get Benna back. But I couldn't. I, uh, tried to join a racing circuit... grav-racing. Basically unpowered ships that use gravity assists to fling themselves around solar systems. But the kind of circuits that would let in an unranked pilot without their own ship were... ::She couldn't find the right word.:: They took place outside of Federation space, mostly, and there was a lot of drug use in those places, so I knew it wasn't good for me. And certainly there was no hope for Benna to join me if that was my life. After that, I went to the Vaadwaur planet in the Ithassa region, hoping that they would welcome me like they did Alleran, but while he was there to help them rebuild, I was there for a holiday and to gawk, and they didn't appreciate that. I visited DS-17 and revisited my old haunts, which turned out to be not nostalgic and mostly terrible. I tried to become a civilian pilot but they had no positions open near Andor. I applied for a civilian shuttle mechanic position and while I was shortlisted, they said "my history would make me a poor fit". I... considered a lot of stuff, most of which was dumb. Nothing illegal, just stupid. And I'm glad I didn't do any of that. The counsellor nodded, while Mikali took a deep, embarrassed breath. sh'Shar: Most notably, adopting. Basically for the most transparent reason, a replacement Benna. Of course, it was pointless, if I couldn't get custody of her, I would never pass the absurdly high standards for adoption. It was stupid. Just a fantasy. Even at my worst, I knew this was a bad idea. Just... just a fantasy. Another thing nagged at Mikali, although this time she let it out. sh'Shar: And... I thought a lot about reaching out to Lieutenant S'Acul Aveunalliv. He was a Caitian I was dating on the Avandar. We were... close, and he was so good to me. ::Her tone became distant, wistful, fond.:: He did more than tolerate me, he treated me like I was worth something. All the stuff in my history, all the stuff I did while we were together... it would have been so easy for him to just turn around and walk away, or hell, run, but he didn't. He never, not once, for years, was anything other than perfectly kind and good to me. An absolutely good man I did not deserve. She thought about mentioning the other thing—her dismal attempt to find the planet whose battle site she had looted as part of Xhard's crew, for which she almost considered asking S'Acul for help to locate—but she thought it best not bought up. sh'Shar: If there was anyone who was probably responsible for planting the seeds of "Mikali Grows Into A Semi-Functional Person And Realises That There Are Positive Changes She Can Make To Her Life", it's Aveunalliv. ::She stopped for a moment, and her voice returned to normal.:: I never did call him though. Maybe... that was for the best. I think I was holding him back a lot, from a lot of things. Still quiet, as she tended to be when Mikali was in the throes of a soliloquy, Carys took the occasional note on her PADD. sh'Shar: I mostly just blew around the Alpha Quadrant like an empty trashbag, being a nuisance everywhere I went, half ruminating on the mistakes I'd made, half hatching stupid schemes that would never go anywhere. I drifted from this to that to the other thing. I lost... purpose. And then finally, I found this program totally by accident, and I realised there was a lot of potential in it for me. To see Benna again, and hopefully get my commission back. I'm asking much. I know being a helmsman is probably out of my reach, but I... I can fix things. I can work. I just want something that will make Benna proud of me, and give my life a little meaning. ::She paused.:: I want to make a difference. Professionally, to her, and... and to myself. There was some irony in the evident disappointment and embarrassment Mikali had for that period of her life. Despite struggling for purpose and meaning, despite having some significant and heartbreaking setbacks—most notably barred from a custody arrangement with her daughter, and unable to find a way to pursue her love of flight near her—she had been able to identify the risks to her sobriety and avoid them, keep herself out of (serious) trouble, and eventually find her way onto a rehabilitation program. As lost as she'd been, she'd exercised better judgement in those six years than she often had in the ones preceding them. In other words, civilian life had been far easier for Mikali to manage than a Starfleet career. It was more common than people realised; even with the support that Starfleet put into place for its service members, there were many who loved being a part of it, but couldn't manage its demands. And it was demanding. High stakes, high pressure, high fluidity. Which was why, in the whole of the Federation, there was almost no other organisation as selective in who it allowed to serve in its ranks. Valen: Having meaning and purpose in life is definitely important. From a clinical perspective, it's associated with better outcomes both mentally and physically. ::She paused, considering her next words, speaking them as kindly as she could manage.:: But I think you need to find a different purpose than Starfleet. I understand it's the root of some of your proudest moments—and nothing I'm saying takes away from those achievements—but from everything you've told me, what you really need to achieve your goals is stability. A life where you can put down roots, where you or your support network won't transfer away, and where you can build connections that will last. It was a pretty crushing thing to say, and the effect on her—slumped shoulders, drooped antenna, lone eye flicking to the side—was commensurate to that. To Mikali, "Outside Starfleet" was a kind way of saying, "There is no path for you to achieve your goals." Which, after merely two sessions of counselling, was a devastating thing to hear. For a moment Mikali said nothing. sh'Shar: But it's all I have. I've tried doing something else... anything else. I've tried civilian work, I've tried travelling, I've tried "finding my own inner peace", I've tried... everything. Anything to get stability. And if I can't get that stability, then I can never see Benna again. Hyperbole, but understandable. Right from the start it had been clear the Andorian had fixated on a return to Starfleet, no matter how useful, achievable or wise it was. Somewhere along the way, it looked as though Mikali had come to believe that a return to the fleet would heal all wounds and plaster over all the problems in her life; give her purpose and meaning, the solution to the situation with her daughter, and likely assuage the guilt she carried for her past actions. Of course, life didn't work like that. If she really wanted to fly, but was restricted to low-level maintenance duties, a Starfleet career wouldn't have the purpose and meaning she so desperately sought—more likely it would chafe and frustrate. To completely bar her from custody for six years, the courts must have had a swathe of concerns that resuming a Starfleet career wouldn't dismiss. And if she was looking to assuage guilt, it was hard to see how another round in Starfleet would manage it, if the previous years had not. Valen: Let's open this up, look at it from a wider view. What are you good at, and what do you enjoy doing? sh'Shar: I'm a decent mechanic, competent, but flying is the only thing I'm actually good at. Apart from ruining people's lives, mostly my own, and I don't think there's much of a market for that skill. ::She paused.:: The only other place I can go is crime. And apart from the fact I've tasted that life and want nothing of it, that's no life for a child. Believe me, I know. So... I have to try this. It's my last, best, only, shot. Valen: No, it isn't. ::She shook her head, the correction firm, but gentle.:: You've tried a lot of things, but always alone, without support or guidance. But your situation has changed. Right now you have help that you've never had before. Part of accepting that help is challenging things you've held true; about yourself, about your potential, about what you can achieve. The Federation is full of possibilities, Mikali. More opportunities than any one person could pursue in a lifetime, no matter what's come before. Maybe that was true, and maybe it wasn't. But she had tried a lot of different things outside of the service, and none of them had panned out. For lots of different reasons. Mikali's voice cracked. Difficult emotions started to spill out, ones that she had little idea how to handle. sh'Shar: I have done everything you've asked. I've attended sessions, I've gone to work, I made the logs you requested, I've told Benna I can't keep my promise to her just like you asked, I've listened and followed your advice no matter what it was. I told you things I never told anyone else. I've worked as hard as I can since the moment I got here. I've made some recent mistakes, yes, and I didn't handle it properly but I'm trying, I'm learning, that's what I'm here for; to learn how to not make these kinds of mistakes again. I've been compliant with all my treatments and I'm doing my best, and I just — She clasped her hands together in her lap, taking a short, shallow breath, and closing her eye. There was no need to rush the request. No need to push it, or get overwhelmed. sh'Shar: I need you to support me in this, because I don't have any other options. I was... am... relying on you a great deal to help me achieve this goal, and I know that I can't do it without you. If you say that there is no way forward for me, and that I can't either recover my career or see my kid again... I don't know what kind of life that will be for me. I've done all you ask. I've tried my hardest, and I've made errors, but I am actively trying to correct them. I'm... ::There was nothing more she could say.:: Just give me more time. I can prove to you that... that my life has meaning. That it's worth something. That I'm worth something. A little more time, that's all I need. Will you reconsider? Valen: I know this isn't easy. Have a few moments, take a few deep breaths. A few moments seemed like an impossible ask. Last session she was told to give up her promise to Benna, and this session, she was being told to give up her career, as well. Madness. It was madness. There was no way this was going to work out in her favour; giving up the promise had been almost impossible for her, but this? She almost left. Almost got up and just walked right out of the room—already dark thoughts churned in her head about what a mistake all of this was—but summoning her inner reserve of stubbornness, and knowing that if she left it would be much worse than anything she could do or say, Mikali stayed put. Took a few slow, deep breaths. Calm. Ish. Valen: All right. That's a lot to unpack, but I think we need to make some definitive statements. Much of what she had suspected had been confirmed by Mikali's tirade, that the Andorian was hanging her entire happiness and future on a fanciful, ephemeral dream. She took a breath, and then spoke evenly and slowly, giving each statement space to breathe and sink in. Valen: A Starfleet career doesn't define your worth as a person. It doesn't guarantee you'll find meaning in your day to day life. It won't grant you custody of your daughter. ::She paused, leaning forward a little.:: My concern here is you've created a belief that returning to Starfleet means everything else in your life will fall into place, and you're worthless if it doesn't happen. That's not just wrong, it's a recipe for disaster, so we need to pause and find a different plan for your future. Every part of her screamed that this was wrong. That this was a bad, harmful, potentially ruinous course of action that would bring further destruction and misery her way. Carys, however, had been right about everything so far. Everything that had a definitive answer. The effect of her un-promising Benna was still not yet known in its entirety, but most everything else had been at least okay. But this. This hurt more than the loss of her eye. More than pain. It burned in her chest, seizing her muscles, pressing her throat closed, filling her brain with a flood of fear and anxiety and raw panic. Mikali fought very hard to keep her tone even and flat. sh'Shar: I know that none of this guarantees anything. It's... it's only a chance, Carys. I'm not asking for certainty. I'm just asking for a chance to roll the dice. I know that the odds are low, I just... I just literally have no other options. Valen: You keep saying that, Mikali, but it's not true. She used her liar's brain, the part of her personality that could say things she did not feel and did not want, to exercise a hypothetical. sh'Shar: So walk me through it. I leave the course and whatever support and stability I have here, upending my whole life again, and I go back to being exactly what I was before. The courts won't listen to my appeals, because they didn't before, so Benna is just as far away as she ever was. I can't get a fulfilling job that lets me make the difference, because I couldn't get one before, and anything I try now has an additional black mark: "Enrolled in a one-year Starfleet program to fix her career, spent half of it in hospital, bombed out after two months." It seems like I'm right back where I started. Worse, even, as I'm just confirming that I'm as unreliable as I ever was. It doesn't seem like this makes me happier, or more stable, and it certainly doesn't make my life more fulfilling or impress the Andorian courts. Who will bring up me leaving and the breaking of the promise to Benna as proof I'm unreliable. Last but not least... there's now not even a remotely possible path to achieving either of my primary goals, so I have to deal with that hopeless crushing feeling too. So... why? What am I missing? The counsellor let that sit for a moment, nodding to herself as she processed everything Mikali had said. The visceral reaction—even stronger than the request to undo her promise to her daughter—doubled-down on every concern Carys had that the Andorian had made a return to Starfleet the linchpin of her self-worth. That for all she said she was only asking for a chance, her world was on the verge of collapse at the mere hint it wasn't a possibility. It wasn't a healthy focus, and another example of how the woman looked for shortcuts to her problems and struggled to make realistic, long-term goals. When the Bajoran spoke again, it was in soft, even tones. Valen: When did I tell you to leave the program? ::She raised her eyebrows, a faint, kind smile clinging to the corners of her mouth.:: ReachOut is a rehabilitation program for a person, not a career. Our goal is to help you to find a way to move past your difficulties and live a fulfilling life. sh'Shar held up a finger. sh'Shar: But you said— ::Her voice trailed off.:: Actually, I don't remember the... exact phrase... but I thought you said, I thought you meant... ::She squinted her eye closed.:: I thought you meant leaving the program. Carys shook her head. It was something they could work on, unpicking the associations she had forged with Starfleet—that the only career of worth was the fleet, that to regain access to her daughter she had to be in the uniform. Few things could be further from the truth, but the counsellor could see how she'd got there. Starfleet was full of the kind of people she wanted to be. Emotionally, Mikali had barely developed from that runaway child of twenty-five years ago, and it was easy for her to conclude that being successful in Starfleet would mean success in the rest of her life. sh'Shar: I'm just... on the verge of a major freak-out here, and I'm s-sorry. I thought you were kicking me out. ::She forced a shakey, weak smile.:: In my defense, I did just get out of long-term recovery with a brain problem. Valen: ::She smiled.:: I can give you that. sh'Shar: So... okay. If I can stick with the program, then... ::A lightbulb went on in her head. Slowly, carefully, as though scared of the implications, Mikali decided to risk it.:: This isn't like the Benna thing, is it? It's not that you want me to withdraw immediately, tonight. You just want me to have a backup option, one that I would find meaning in, if... if the Starfleet hearing goes bad. Just... another option. Right? Valen: I'm saying you should be prepared to accept that Starfleet isn't a good fit for you, and that's not a failing on your part. You're trying to recapture the past, but the problem is that while it had its good moments, ultimately it was a past that wasn't kind to you. ::She paused.:: So I think it's time to look forward and build something new, and that's what ReachOut is about. We know that most of the people who pass through our doors aren't going to return to Starfleet, so we've established partnerships with organisations and employers willing to offer a chance, who can give you the same thing you have here— Carys glanced down at her PADD. A few taps and she summoned some notes from their last session, reading from the screen. Valen: —work that's challenging but not overwhelming, where you feel like you're making a difference, your co-workers and kind and supportive and don't pity you, and where you're treated as though you have value and your opinion matters. ::She looked back up with a faint smile.:: That's how you described what you're doing now, and this isn't Starfleet. If the most important thing to you is Benna, then you should consider shifting your goal toward a civilian position on or near Andoria. It's more achievable, more likely to give you the opportunities to build the bridges you need to build, to forge the connections you need to make, and give you an environment in which you feel supported and valued. It was still difficult to process and digest. Mikali had tried so many different things in the six years spent blowing around the Alpha quadrant that she had almost given up on everything else. She'd tried so many things, all to rejection or failure, it didn't seem right. It didn't seem smart. Still, what Carys was telling her felt right. The position she was describing, this hypothetical idea, was definitely closer to what she wanted. And if someone made Mikali choose between service in Starfleet and Benna, that choice was so easy it wasn't even a choice. Starfleet was an enriching and useful thing, yes; it allowed her to fly and was the source of many good memories which she would like to make more of, but ultimately for her, at this point, her primary motivation was Benna. But still. What kind of position would cater for her like that? She'd tried a whole bunch of civilian work and it never worked out for her. sh'Shar: I actually hate Andoria. When you've spent prison time in a place, you tend to not want to go back voluntarily. Plus, that was where I relapsed, and... and I don't want to go back there unless I have to. There's nothing for me there that can't be somewhere else. For a moment, Carys considered arguing that point. The prison was but one facility on an entire planet, but more than that, her daughter was there. It was better for Benna if she didn't have to traipse around the galaxy, separated from the rest of her family and all her friends, to spend time with one parent. But perhaps she'd put Mikali through enough for one session, and that was a conversation for another day. Valen: Is there anywhere else you think you could be happy? Nothing immediately leapt out at Mikali, except that one thing, playing in the back of her mind like a mocking ghost. She began to fidget, playing her fingers against each other and squirming in her seat. sh'Shar: I... I actually, you know... I know I said I didn't, but I have a backup option. Thought. More of a vague idea really. A long shot—pretty much the queen of long shots at this point—so it's... well, actually, it's embarrassing. You'll laugh. Valen: Try me? Mikali squirmed around in her chair, a fool bringing it up. Her face scrunched up, antenna drooping, and she lowered her head, as though she'd done something wrong. As though confessing to some great sin. Her voice wobbled, becoming an awkward stammer. sh'Shar: I have, um... I mentioned that I often have these daydreams. Kinda weird f-fantasies, you know? I think... oh, what if I did this, what if I did that. Basically just, uhh, half-baked ideas that would never work. This is one of these. An... idea for something I could do that would tick all the boxes. B-b-but one. And that one is a big one, but... look it's way, way out there. More of a crazy, stupid, pointless daydream than anything else. But... this job would tick almost all the boxes. Mikali felt vaguely like a child telling Andorian Santa about their Christmas wishes, wishing for a pony and their own shuttle and to be five years old forever, when it was clear none of that could possibly be true. Embarrassment flooded her, her cheeks turning bright cyan, and her voice lost all its strength. sh'Shar: ::Softly,:: Yours. ::She let that sink in, fighting to gather her nerves..:: I... was thinking that when I graduate, I-I-I-I-I would apply to join ReachOut as a supervisor right here on Iana Station. So uhh, not you s-specifically, but you collectively. More like what Petty Officer Darweshi does. In fact exactly what he does. Basic-basically his job. Just... with a new group of people. Um. Obviously. The counsellor's expression didn't shift into amusement or ridicule. All she did was offer a smile and a nod, well-hidden relief washing beneath the surface. It was a future Carys believed was realistic and achievable for the Andorian, and more likely to offer the meaning and purpose she sought. Steering people through the rehabilitation program and using her own life experiences to help others was likely to be much more rewarding than fixing shuttles for other people to fly. A little time doing that, and hopefully she'd be able to prove to the Andorian courts she had carved out a stable, successful life for herself, one which would allow her to be the parent her daughter needed. Valen: I think that's achievable. You have the skills to offer technical coaching, you'd be able to offer peer support and mentoring, and you'd remain connected to many of the people you've formed relationships with during your time with us. ::She paused for thought.:: We could probably offer you some training in that area, toward the end of the year. What we call mental health first aid, so you could identify the signs and step in if you saw someone struggling. That would be very useful, and applicable to the program, and Carys' immediate affirmation that the position was achievable was heartening. sh'Shar: Training would be good, um, kinda expected actually. But I, um... I... I actually thought, you know, um. Why not go one step further? I can do two things. Even if I do get my wings back, through some miracle, I'd... I'd like to do at least one run-through with the program first, before I even go back. Or possibly even an ongoing year-on, year-off with a potential eventual posting, so that I could run programs here. It would be t-too good to be true. I could fly, make new good, positive memories, and I could also show the viability of the program and encourage others to seek help. Stability, growth, making a difference. A win-win-win. That would be the dream. And... and I have dreams. ::She laughed haltingly.:: Mikali sh'Shar, poster child for positive change. I told you it was stupid, right? Valen: It's not stupid. ::She offered the Andorian a smile.:: Dreams are what plans and accomplishments are born from, we just have to refine them into something workable. That was a good motto. Dreams become plans become actions become accomplishments. A nice, linear progression. But it would need to be workable. Workable... Mikali let that word play over in her head. Workable. What would be workable... how could she make this more than a silly dream, and take that next step? Plan. sh'Shar: Okay. What would you say my next step should be? Valen: I'd say to let it percolate and think about the practicalities as well as the ideals. With that kind of set-up, you'd be in a constant flux when it comes to colleagues and your responsibilities. The temptation to let real connections slide and return to old habits of treating people poorly would be very strong—after all, they might not be there when you next return, so why does it matter? I suspect you'd find it very difficult to establish any stability in your life, and the family courts might view it as you being unable to commit. It was going to be a problem. Definitely. But it was the least-bad idea she had, and it didn't make Carys immediately burst into raucous laughter. sh'Shar: I'll think on it then. ::She took a shallow, nervous breath.:: Thank you for supporting me in this, Carys. I really appreciate it. I'll... use "good judgement" when I think it through. Valen: Just think it through, don't put pressure on yourself. You could even talk to One-Joke, get his point of view as someone whose role you'd like to take on. That would be a good idea. The idea of talking to One-Joke made her nervous, especially about something she was still convinced was a silly dream, but it was a wise idea. sh'Shar: I... I might hold off on that for a bit, but I will. Eventually. Valen: There's no rush, it's early days. It was early days. There was so much of the program to go, so much work to do... For the second time in two sessions, Mikali wiped away gathering moisture under her eye. The place where the other one was felt weird too, but with no actual eye left, it merely... itched. But unlike the first time, there was a smile, too. sh'Shar: Thank you. Um. This didn't go how I expected it to go, but... I feel good. Valen: I'm glad. I said last session it's not unusual to leave feeling battered and that's okay. ::A wry smile caught on her lips.:: But it is nice when someone leaves feeling hopeful. Sad hopeful. Kind of like finally getting a diagnosis for a disease that had slowly been rotting away at you for years. It felt bad, but it felt good, too. It was better to know. sh'Shar: Okay. Um. Well... I think I should probably get going. I'll keep making my logs, and One-Joke has me on light duties until I'm ready to work again, and in that time I have to make a new friend or find a new hobby. Which is going to be... interesting. And I gotta schedule some surgery for a new eye, so I have a lot to keep me busy. Including one other thing Mikali didn't mention. Talking to Luna. It would have to wait until her new eye was installed, but that was a task Mikali had been storing away in her mind for a long time. Too long. Valen: Well, you're in a good place to have the surgery. Palanon has some excellent hospitals and doctors. She smiled slightly. The Tyrellians had been Federation members for almost as long as the Federation had existed, and they had reaped the rewards. Palanon was as advanced as any core Federation world, not to mention the fact the Tyrellian system was the Starfleet headquarters for the sector. It was here any severely injured personnel would rehabilitate, with all the interventions, treatments and support they could need, including neural prostheses like Mikali's eye. Valen: As for the rest, you might want to look into some of the clubs and societies on the station? Perhaps something there will catch your eye. Eye, singular. Mikali smirked to herself at the subtle dig—unintentional though it was—but then her expression relaxed as she digested that idea, nodding thoughtfully. sh’Shar: I think I’ll look into them. Mikali pushed herself up off the couch, folding her hands behind her back. Carys followed suit, uncrossing her legs and rising to her feet. sh'Shar: Thanks again for seeing me, and um. Same time next fortnight? Valen: I'll see you then. And as always, we're here if you need us in the meantime. Mikali left, thoughts churning in her head. Clubs and societies, huh? fin -- Mikali sh'Shar Civilian ReachOut Project O238704AT0 & Commander Valen Carys Anthropologist and Clinical Psychologist USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  13. @Alex Brodie has really been kicking out quality sims lately. Another great one, and I just love the symbolism. ((Arboretum, Deck Five, USS Thor)) Alex wiped his brow, smearing dirt across it as he did so. There were dozens - probably dozens of dozens - of trees already in the Arboretum but this was something a little more special. He had been hoping that it would have arrived during the repairs and refit of the vessel at Deep Space Nine but that was not to be. Now the next supply chain had caught up with them he was finally able to make this small gesture. When people said the word Thor they were instantly greeted with mental images of the ancient Norse god of thunder, storms and all-round hammer enthusiast. There was, however, a deeper meaning. The ship's dedication plaque read: “Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.” This was a quotation attributed to Thor Heyerdahl – an explorer from Norway who was alive in the twentieth century. Not only was he an explorer but he also had a background in zoology, botany and geography and his most notable expedition was to show that ancient peoples could have made long sea voyages across the earth creating contacts between different societies. He had also searched, on four separate occasions it should be noted, for the civilization he believed Odin had been part of – although this was never validated. In short, it was possibly the most apt name for the Vesta class multi-mission explorer. The similarities didn’t stop there, however, as both of the ships long range Arrow class runabouts were also named after reed boats that Heyerdahl had constructed as part of his adventures – the Ra and the Tigris. Brodie wanted to honour these two worlds in some small way after the Hammerfall Incident and, while exploration, zoology and geography were all worthy causes, he had chosen to focus on botany. The pushed, with some assistance from the operations team, the large root cluster of the tree over the edge of the hole and into the soil that filled the arboretum. It always amazed him just how much weight the ship could take…when he thought about runabouts and fighters and cargo he was surprised the ship didn’t fall out of orbit. The team he’d been working with picked their shovels back up and began to refill the area around the roots of the Ash tree. It wasn’t mighty just yet – nor was he sure it would ever be so in these artificial surroundings – but it was a gesture that he felt was required. The ‘Vikings’ of the USS Thor, of which Brodie being of Scottish ancestry was probably the closest actual Viking they had, were a tight knit crew who had been through a lot. Key high/low-lights had included kidnappings, attempted assassinations, political intrigues, discovery of new species and the near destruction of their home but they had come through it all – life had found a way. That's what this ‘mighty’ ash tree was – Yggdrasil…at least symbolically. Sometimes called the Tree of Life he actually thought the names translated as ‘Odin’s Horse’ but more in the sense of a gallows or a frame to support everything around it. Odin’s actual horse being an eight-legged beast called Sleipnir. Alex shuddered at the thought of trying to break a creature like that – but if you were a god… That, however, was beside the point. The crew of the USS Thor were not only the worlds, but they were also the gallows. They individuals who supported and protected each other – at this ash tree would stand as a symbol of that. He pushed the small brass plaque into the sod at the foot of the tree: may the crew of the Thor find comfort in it’s shade and strength in its branches. FIN ------------------------------------ Lt. Cmdr. Alexander Brodie Chief Counselor USS Thor NCC-82607 dualitygamer@gmail.com Writer ID.: A239005BM0
  14. I'm blown away by the amount of talented writers we have in this community, and I considered myself blessed that I have the opportunity to write on not one, but TWO ships where I get to read these wonderful stories by these fantastic writers. This is the beginning of the Thor's next mission. What a way to introduce it! ((Management & Oversight Center - Endless Golden Penetrator)) Lounging imperiously upon a shimmering technological throne, Shipmaster Pitorian Sal’Lat’Ut’Kel’Tras Anroc, Owner of the Endless Golden Penetrator, was in a fit of pique. It was now a foregone conclusion he was going to die. He huffed in mild annoyance at what a terribly embarrassing inconvenience this would be for him and his entire organization. Running a hand along his exquisitely crafted suit of clothes, Anroc experienced a brief sartorial joy at the feel of the luxurious silken garments, but it was fleeting. With six eyes, he took in the meticulously appointed command deck, built to his exacting specifications and ostentatious personal tastes. Priceless objet d'art and sumptuous glowmarble inlay had cost millions of credits, and the ship had cost hundreds of billions more. All for another humiliating public failure that was likely to impact their net worth substantially when the annual fiscal picture was reviewed. The fact that eleven hundred and sixty three crewmen and women would die alongside him trapped aboard a crippled ship, stranded at the Edge with no hope of rescue, hadn’t crossed his mind. They were only ephemerals, afterall. Sooner or later, they always died. The larger nuisance would be the staffing issues following this loss of “biological capital,” but the possibility had been considered prior to their mission and the corporation would begin acting on those contingencies soon. From a meticulously handcrafted songwood side table, Anroc lifted a livecrystal goblet that hummed soothingly in response to the warmth of his strong, 3 fingered hand. Filling it with a dram of liquor that would cost the average worker their life savings to acquire, Anroc paused and then, feeling entirely sorry for himself, he poured two more drams. He was going to die today, after all. He tisked to himself as the throne continued its work. Such a nuisance. One of the senior crew ephemerals, Nenni Nokzu, moved towards the dais of the Shipmaster with a bowed head and short, hesitant steps. When Anroc’s drink was agreeably warming his pallet a few minutes later, he turned his head ever so slightly and gave the faintest sign of contemptuous acknowledgement. Nokzu: Shipmaster, if it pleases you... Anroc snapped back at the woman with a combination of boredom and venom. He didn’t bother making eye contact with someone so far beneath him. Anroc: It most certainly does not. If I must suffer this annoyance, you could at least address me using my proper title. ::Anroc was immediately disgusted, his mood souring further:: You do know my full and proper title, of course? Nokzu kept her pale head bowed low and racked her brain. The journey had taken six years just to get where they were at now, and in that whole time serving as the first officer, she’d always stumbled over the long string of namesakes. Speaking slowly to give herself more time, Nokzu worked through it out loud. Nokzu: Owner and Guildmaster Extraordinary, First Eternal, President for Life of the Saldanian Corporate Hegemony, Beloved & Benevolent, Everlasting… She was pretty sure she’d missed a word in there somewhere. This man was their doom and she couldn’t even appease him at the most basic level. When he didn’t immediately chastise her however, Nokzu decided to press on. aswq Nokzu: … The matter displacement array is completely destroyed. Two of the crew were killed trying to effect the repairs, but it’s a lost cause. With her head low, she winced at the thought to the pair of engineers who had been killed. The chitinous plates on her back shifted slightly like a cat twitching it’s fur. They’d been good men. Friends. Nokkzu: The same impact that destroyed it also damaged the fuel storage. We’re losing fuel and we’ll have no way to decelerate when we reach the Edge. The mission is doomed, shipmaster. Anroc took in this catastrophic declaration with the air of a man who had lost his third favorite hat. Anroc: Ah, so no hope at all then? Such a waste. ::Anroc refilled his glass, this time to capacity. Gesturing towards the half empty crystal decanter, Anroc tried to speak slowly, annunciating each word so even the dimmest ephemeral could understand:: This bottle alone is worth more than a hundred of you, and I have a case in my suites - a splendid gift from my ninth mistress. What am I to tell him? That I simply abandoned his lovely token? A sour taste filled Nokzu’s mouth. Outrage swelled in her chest. She had two children back home. After the briefest moment however, her outrage dissipated. It was a skill she’d honed over decades of serving the deathless, and one of the reasons she’d been hand selected for this mission. Nokzu: There is a small planetoid a week away. We could land on it before the fuel runs out. From there, if we radio the homeworld for assistance, in a decade or two we might be rescu... Anroc rose to his full three meter height in instant fury. Anroc: A distress signal?! Do you have any idea how humiliating it would be for the corporation to have the media rebroadcasting a pathetic cry for help from what was supposed to be our shining triumph? You’ve already failed to take this ship beyond the Edge, don’t compound your mistake with another, or I’ll see to it you’ll never be employed again! That was it. Her last hope. Even traveling at the speed of light it’d take their message nearly five years to reach home, and then six more for another ship to reach theirs. That all hinged on the Shipmaster’s willingness to send the message though. Now, that hope was gone, as was her chance of ever seeing her children again. Employment be damned, Nokzu welled up with anger again, but this time she failed to push it back down. In defiance she rose to her two and half meter height, Anroc still towering over her. Nokzu: (Raising her slender head and locking all six eyes on Anroc) I’ll never be employed again as it is Shipmaster! This ship will be my tomb! Anroc could see the flair of defiance behind the ephemerals eyes and moved to snuff it out instantly. This one had clearly forgotten themselves, and Anroc suspected being away from home for so long had eroded its weak, simple mind. Anroc: Don’t use that insolent tone with me you loathsome chattel! If you’re dead, I’ll make certain no one in your family ever works, no matter what barren airless asteroid farm they run to. Your children will be eating vermin by the end of the year...if they’re fortunate! Fire flashed in her eyes. Indignation, outrage, and fury roiled within Nokzu’s chest. For a time she maintained eye contact until she finally acknowledged the truth behind his words. Her life may be lost, but Nokzu could still help the future of her children. Nokzu: I apologize for my… insolence Shipmaster. You know how us… ephemerals can be. What are your orders for the ship? The moment passed but Anroc could still smell a grotesque, lingering musk of pheromones - not only from Nokzu, but now from some of the other ephemerals on the bridge. The bitter scents of desperation and rage muddled up with the awful pungent aroma of insolence. Around him, the throne had begun to glow a shimmering green and a faint twinkling hum was filling the command deck. It was nearly time. Anroc finished the last of his drink, some small pleasure salvaged from the otherwise disappointing day. Anroc: I don’t particularly care what you do at this point, but if you send that distress call and the corporation hears of it, I promise that death is the least terrible thing you have to worry about. With that, Shipmaster Pitorian Sal’Lat’Ut’Kel’Tras Anroc stabbed at a jewel encrusted control on the throne's arm. The glow within the throne intensified until it was nearly blinding, then snapped out all at once. Anroc’s body, still rigid and imperious upon the throne, was vacant and dead. The light behind all six of his eyes had been extinguished. His exquisite clothing and priceless jewelry were now macabre ornaments on a rapidly cooling corpse. Nokzu: (Mumbling) Good riddance you skel’echt. Nokzu shoved the body of the ageless corpse off the mantle and pushed it to the side. She’d deal with it later. Taking a seat in the throne herself, the woman massaged the small horns on the back of her head as she contemplated what to do. The sound of a door opening made her look up as a colleague entered the command deck. The woman’s clothes were stained and had some small tears. Exhaustion could be seen on her face. Saulan: The breach on deck 23 is getting worse. They are trying to reinforce it but they don't know how much it will hold. Nokzu: Anroc is gone. Everything on this ship has already been written off as a loss for the corp. We’re on our own now. She leaned back in the massive and ornamented chair, the weight of her decisions now bearing down on her. Nokzu’s eyes flicked over the room as the rest of the command crew watched her. They all had families back home. She’d met many of them before they left so many years ago. Nokzu counted in her head and the numbers came easily to her as the welfare of each member of the crew was her responsibility. 897 widows, 142 orphans. That was the fallout of this ship not returning. Finally she turned back toward the engineer, a renewed strength filling her. Nokzu: Helm, set a course for planetoid Sigma 438, full burn. (Turning to the other side of the room) Operations, start calculating the fuel cost for our deceleration burn and landing on that rock. I need to know that we’ve got enough to make it. Turning back to the engineer, Nokzu blinked, not wanting to say what she had to. Nokzu: Saulan, if we lose too much fuel we’ll die for sure. We must seal that breach at all costs. At all costs. Do you understand? Saulan: They do their best. But I will try... to encourage them. :: His voice was tired and became more sinister at the end of the sentence. :: Nokzu: One more thing, old friend. It would take years for a message to get back to the homeworld. I know you’ve been working with radios your whole life. Is there anything you can do to get that signal out faster? Saulan: There is a theory, that by focusing a signal at a certain frequency in line with the Edge emissions can be accelerated. Although we do not fully understand how. The problem is that it would have to be focused on, and hopefully bounce back to the home planet. Nokzu: We’ve got nothing else to lose. Try. It’s our only hope we have to see our families again. Saulan: I will configure the emitter. Give me a moment. Before the disaster Saulan would be excited to try something like this. If it worked, her name could be on the patent, and she could find a comfortable position in the organization's colleges. Now it was a simple act of desperation. Saulan sat at the communications console and was reconfiguring the emitter matrix to do what they wanted. He had to stop a couple of times to talk to the executive section chief of rapid maintenance, so that they could repair the breach. Nokzu watched the man work for a moment before turning back toward the rest of the bridge crew. They’d heard the exchange with Anroc. They all understood the cost of calling out for help. Nokzu turned the decision over in her mind several times and for a couple of minutes they all worked in silence. A silence she finally broke. Nokzu: As soon as you’re ready, Saulan, send the distress call. Saulan: Ready. Sending the signal. There, trapped by the manyfold intersecting layers of nebular gasses and exotic subspace fields, The Endless Golden Penetrator shouted past the Edge of known space. No one knew what lay beyond the Edge, and all expeditions to penetrate it over the millennia had come to the same inglorious end. As the Penetrator sent out its desperate call for an unlikely rescue, the fields of the nebula briefly attenuated and massively amplified the signal. Distorted but intact, the message tumbled through subspace, echoing far beyond the Edge and outward, into a region of space that Federation astronomers would call ‘The Gamma Quadrant.’ [Fin] ========================== Shipmaster Pitorian Sal’Lat’Ut’Kel’Tras Anroc Owner & Guildmaster Extraordinary, First Eternal, President for Life of the Saldanian Corporate Hegemony, Beloved & Benevolent, Everlasting & Magnificent V239509GT0 & Nenni Chu’To’Lem’Ri Nokzu Acting Shipmaster Endless Golden Penetrator E239702WG0 & Saulan Ket’han Deputy Director of Daily Operations Endless Golden Penetrator E239702S10 =========================
  15. Where we get to see a bit more of Sobok as well as our beloved Chief Engineer, @Sirok. The title itself just conveys a lot, and I love it. ((USS Thor, Main Engineering)) Several crew members performed their usual tasks of inspection and maintenance of the different systems. They were illuminated by the blue light of the bending engine that emitted its characteristic hum, which reached the whole ship. The chief engineer worked on the holographic table, visualizing the data from the ship's systems. Checking for any irregularities. For some it would be a tedious job, for Sirok it was an opportunity to be methodical, to sort out his own thoughts while taking care of the ship's own systems. His concentration was interrupted by the sound of the communicator. Larell: =/\=Lieutenant, a civilian has arrived from New Bajor, he says he wants to see you. He says his name is Sobok. =/\= Sirok looked away from the holographic table , just before turning it off. Sirok: =/\=On my way. =/\= Larell: =/\=Understood. =/\= ((USS Thor, Transporter room 1)) Sirok entered the transporter room. And he found Larell talking to a very old Vulcan. His complexion was dark and hairless, even in his eyebrows. His back was already slightly crooked and he was wearing a traditional light-colored robe that was very well made. He supported part of his weight on a simple black cane. Larell: With this type of coils we improve the stability of the transporter buffer. ::She happily explained to the hieratic Vulcan, who listened to her carefully. :: Sirok: Live long and prosper, Sobok :: He said it in standard in deference to Larell. :: The old Vulcan turned around, excusing himself with his hand to Larell because he could no longer hear his explanation. Sobok: Live long and prosper... :: Sobok looked at the engineer's neck. :: Liutenant Sirok. Sirok: I was not expecting his visit, although he is welcome. Miss Larell, do you know if he has any assigned quarters? :: Since Teller decided to call him Chief Sirok, he avoided using ranks with his NCOs to avoid confusion, not out of disrespect. :: Larell: Ehm, yes sir. ::The young Boslic woman approached her console. :: One of the quarters on deck 13. We have already sent his luggage there, would you like someone to call to accompany him? Sirok: No Miss Larell, I will do it. ::He looked her straight in the eye. ::Good job. Larell: Thank you, sir. :: He responded with a slightly disconcerting tone. :: Sobok attended the conversation without saying anything, calmly observing how the two Thor crew members behaved. Sirok: I will show you your quarters, come with me. Sobok nodded and started to walk towards the door, stopping for a moment in front of the transporter chief. Sobok: That was a great explanation, Larell. I expect we will meet again. :: In spite of the monochordic tone of voice, it seemed to have a certain warmth. :: After his farewell, he walked leaning on his cane in the direction of the door, following the engineer. Sirok was waiting for him in his usual hieratic posture, when Sobok arrived where he was, he began the march towards the turbolift. Sobok: I see you trying to use my advice to deal with beings driven by their feelings. Sirok: I try to do it but it is not always successful. Larell is an example, I have been told that they must get used to my leadership style. Sobok: This is partly true, but we cannot impose logic on them. For many of them their minds are not able to function as they should. They are attached to their feelings. So to function well, as officers we must adapt. Satisfy them to their feelings so that they give the best of themselves. Sirok: It is not like lying? Sobok: Acting, not lying. It is part of your job as an officer. If you were a technician and only dealt with the machine or enjoyed a crew that entirely followed logic, it would not be necessary, but part of your job is to make them work well, as a team. Authority helps, but it is not the only way. They both walked through the corridors, occasionally crossing with some crew member, surprised to see an old Vulcan walking with the robotic chief engineer. Sobok: You have been promoting very fast, more than I have in my day. So you will have to adapt faster than I did. But if you have made it this far at this speed, you can do it. I have heard about your Captain, he is a reputable man, many officers who have served under him have had brilliant careers. You can trust his judgment. Sirok nodded as they entered the turbolift, Sobok had been a Captain for many, many years, making him a reliable source. Sirok: Deck 13. May I ask what you do in the Gamma Quadrant? Sobok: I try to help your father establish new business deals to get more resources for the Romulan colonies in Vulcan. They said there were opportunities on New Bajor, but as you know, there are not. Sirok: Unfortunately, they are a clear example of why Surak's teachings are so important. :: He knew that their experience might not be a sufficient sample of all of New Bajor, but given the problems they had had it did not seem very misguided. ::But that does not explain why you have boarded the Thor. Sobok: I know its new direction and it is close to where I have to go. In addition I can update my knowledge and of course, know your status first hand. Sirok: That last was not necessary. The turbolift doors opened, revealing the corridor on deck 13. Sobok: On the contrary. Wisely, you ask for my advice because of my experience, but to give accurate advice I must know the context, which variables affect a situation. No matter how much you try to describe it, it is not the same as experiencing it, the same reason we explore space in person, we do not just send a probe. Sirok could not argue with Sobok's logic. They continued to walk to the rhythm of old Vulcan. Sirok: The head doctor is Vulcan, Doctor Alieth, maybe she can do something for your hip. Sobok: It is already more mechanical than biological, but you still cannot fight time. But it is true that every doctor believes he has the ultimate solution to a particular problem, if she wants to see me I will not stop her. They arrived at the quarters' door, which opened when they detected Sobok's bio-signal, for which it had already been configured. Sobok stood at the door and watched. Sobok: I would almost have preferred a smaller quarters, this is almost three times the size of the Captain's cabin in an Excelsior class. Excessive for my needs. Sirok: Is a standard guest cabin in a Vesta class. And it is unoccupied, if necessary for some personality surely the Captain would appreciate your willingness to change to another quarter. Sobok nodded, agreeing with the young engineer and went into the room. The quarters were mainly illuminated by the light of the star bouncing off the surface of New Bajor. It was a large room, with a small living room, a work table and not visible from the entrance was the bedroom and bathroom. Sobok: I am tired, I have had many meetings in New Bajor. But during the trip we must resume some conversation. Sirok: I am learning to meditate better and better, it will not be necessary. Sobok: Your life depends on it. And you begin to be a respected Starfleet officer. Something can be done. In any case, we will not discuss it today. Let me rest. See you tomorrow, Sirok. Sirok: See you tomorrow, grandfather. ((End Scene for Sirok)) -- ==================== Lieutenant Sirok Chief Engineering Officer USS Thor NCC-82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding E239702S10
  16. A JP between one of our newer members @Brutus and a well established member @Sirok that I thoroughly enjoyed. ((USS Ra - Leaving DS9)) The orders for Ensign Jehe were not the most usual. Picking up a civilian from DS9 to take him to New Bajor. Her passenger was an old Vulcan. The man even used a cane, denoting that despite all the Federation's medical advances time reaches everyone, even the long-lived Vulcans. He wore a simple tunic, but the fabric and the small embroidery he wore with words in Vulcan denoted a great quality in his craftsmanship. He presented himself simply as Sobok and his speech, though monotone, was not as uncomfortable and flat as that of other Vulcans. Jehe Saja had encountered a few Vulcans during her time at the Academy, and had found the species, as a whole, to be somewhat the opposite of her own. Bajorans were often known for fiery tempers and Vulcans kept a close reign on their emotions, tighter than any other species she had met to date. But at the same time, she’d seen glimpses of Vulcan spiritualism, that allowed her to believe that perhaps, they weren’t so different as she might like. Thus, when facing the elder Vulcan who would accompany her to her new posting, she greeted the opportunity as just that: an opportunity. She had kept her own introductions just as brief,as she’d resisted the urge to adjust the black collar of her uniform, denoting her position within the auspices of Starfleet Intelligence. He asked Jehe to take his things inside the Runaboat, so that he could walk more easily. Once they started the trip the Vulcan did not go to the living area, but chose the co-pilot's seat. He left his cane on the chair and relaxed his arms on the armrests. He didn't say anything, his gaze reminded him of a Starfleet flight instructor. Every time Jehe introduced a command into the console the man seemed to judge every little decision, or it was simply the severe look of a Vulcan, even though he had no eyebrows. Sobok: I know that on the new maneuver thrusters it is less necessary but if you adjust the ... :: He brought one of his hands close to the panel and quickly introduced several adjustments to the maneuvering drive, but without executing them. :: But you are the pilot today. Jehe: oO Well, looks like I am learning something today Oo Jehe: Thank you, sir. ::She reached forward, re-entering the commands herself, so that she would be familiar with them, and punched the execution:: While I have shuttle pilot training, it’s not my primary vocation. Sobok: You can always learn more. And in Starfleet, getting as much knowledge as possible will help you better accomplish your mission. Even if you think it is not your specialty. Many officers are pigeonholed in their department rather than trying to be more complete. The man looked again into the blackness of space, trying to find with his eyes the place where the wormhole should open. Jehe: You sound like you speak from experience. Even as she spoke, Saja readjusted the approach of the runabout. She’d not been told anything about her passenger really, other than that he was seeking transport to New Bajor, and as she was going to her own assignment in orbit of that planet, she was tagged to escort him. She hardly minded, and in truth was working harder to repress her own near giddiness at getting to enter the Celestial Temple. After a small lapse of time the ship crossed the space that separated the station from the wormhole. Illuminating everything with a blue light. Sobok:Ensign, do you believe that prophets are gods? The question, though abrupt, was asked in the same instructive tone he had had moments before. For a long moment, the Bajoran did not respond, as the ship made its way closer to the aperture, to be guided into the swirling light. Saja forced herself to breathe and nodded her head, though she did not allow herself to look away. Jehe: I do, yes. At least, they meet most definitions of ‘gods’ that I have heard, and have been demonstrably active in the history of my people. ::She tilted her head and chuckled softly:: And my father is a Prylar. I’d be a rather poor daughter if I did not believe in the Prophets. Sobok: Interesting. :: He simply said, without trying to change the Bajoran's mind. The bushy haired intelligence officer nodded, and drew her attention back to her console as the runabout gave a shudder. They were approaching the event horizon of the wormhole, and Saja had to make some minor adjustments. Jehe: Compensating for spatial drift. I’m told the ride will be a bit bumpy. She didn’t outright say ‘maybe you should strap in’ but she thought it pretty hard. Sobok:Try to give some more energy to the inertial dampers, there has to be a configuration for the wormhole. ((USS Ra - Entering Bajoran Wormhole)) And then, they were inside the Celestial Temple, and it was all that Saja could do not to gape like a fish. As Sobok switched his gaze between the view from the front window and the instrument panels. Sobok:Is this the first time you travel through the wormhole? ::Sobok did not know if the runoboat came from the Thor, or if it came directly from DS9.:: Jehe: Yessir. Though I grew up on Freehaven, one of the Bajoran colonies, I’ve never had the chance to experience this before. ::She had made the adjustments suggested and the flight evened out, as her head slowly turned side to side, taking in the truly alien vista before them:: And you? Sobok: No, although I had a first officer. Rashur Sul, who often insisted that we try to get closer. But Bajor and the Wormhole was far from our area of operation. It is certainly an interesting experience. The Vulcan was slightly incorporated and carefully observed the data on the console. Alternating with the immensity of blue before them. Sobok: Soon after, the war with the Klingons began and immediately after with the Dominion. She was no longer my first officer after that. Jehe: I didn’t realize you served. I apologize. They didn’t really brief me on my passenger. ::She frowned for a moment.:: I was born during the conflict. I can’t say that I remember much of it at all, just stories from my family. The ship finished its transit through the wormhole. The interior of the ship was once again illuminated only by its own light. In the pilot’s seat, Saja began a series of system checks to confirm that there had been no issues with the runabout. Her pulse was still racing from the trip through the Temple. It had been magnificent - even if only only looked at it from a purely secular viewpoint. Sobok: It was interesting. The old vulcan took his cane and with the help of it and the armrest he stood up. Sobok: Do you need help for the rest of the trip? Otherwise I will try to rest a little. I have a lot to do in the New Bajor. Jehe: I should be fine sir. Please, take all the rest you need. I’ll notify you when we’re on our final approach. The old Vulcan nodded in what might have seemed like gratitude. But to nod was to show a feeling, he had simply nodded to imply that he understood what the ensign had said. True, the old Vulcan knew that some people confused the two facts. And that begins guided by their feelings felt better in the presence of such emotional displays. So the old Vulcan did not take them out of their error. The ship traveled for a few hours in warp until it reached New Bajor. Following standard procedure it went to impulse as it approached the system. From space, it could still see some ravages caused by the blight. Although some improvement was already visible since the arrival of Thor. The Ra continued to approach the planet's orbit, but on its trajectory it passed near its mother ship, the Thor. Illuminated by the planet, it shone with its characteristic blue color of its hull and its slender form. Sobok observed it from one of the windows when they passed near it. The Vulcan returned to the command module. Sobok: I have loaded the coordinates of my meeting point on the transporter, Ensign. Your mission is over. Jehe: Very well, sir. ::She rose to accompany him to the transporter pad.:: If you’ll step up here. Sobok: Live long and prosper, Jehe Saja. :: He said by raising his hand and making the characteristic greeting of his culture. :: Energize. Jehe: ::Carefully approximating the gestures:: Peace and Long Life, Sobok. Lowering her hands, she activated the transporter sequence and watched as the eldarly Vulcan whom ahd been her passenger for the duration of the trip vanished in the familiar swirl of blue white motes, leaving behind an empty pad. Jehe: oO I hope he finds what he was looking for. Oo With that, she returned to the conn and adjusted her course to take the runabout to it - and her - new home. ========================================= Lieutenant Sirok Chief Engineering Officer USS Thor NCC-82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding E239702S1 & Ens. Jehe Saja Intelligence Officer USS Thor T239712JS0
  17. @Alora DeVeau You cruel fantastic mistress have a way with emotion. This was a beautiful read. ❤️ ((Starbase 118 Ops - Hospital - Private Room)) There was no outward sign in his change of status, though the word had come two days prior. For a Cardassian, the uniform never changed. Officially, however, his status had. No longer was he simply a Dalin. It was Ambassador Lukin Zorkal now. With that change had come orders,and Lukin wasted no time in fulfilling them. There had been three Cardassians pulled from the wreckage of the USS Nimitz. All three had been brought to the hospital. The third name had been a shock. It wasthe last one he visited. Stepping into the room, the lights had been dimmed, much like the rooms where he had visited the other two of his ‘rescued’ people. There was enough to see so the nurses and doctors could do what they felt they needed to do, but it was not quite so harsh on the eyes, particularly Cardassian eyes. Upon the bed, a figure lay prone, wires connected in various places, the soft hush of noise from the machinery inset in the wall behind the bed. For a moment, Lukin hovered just inside the door, hands clenching and unclenching, his jaw joining in the tense choreography. Finally, he stepped forward, slowly. One foot. Then another. And another. The trek from door to bed seemed like an eon to traverse, but he came to the side and gazed down upon the figure. She had changed. Though he had expected that, to be face to face with such stark alterations set his gut aflame, and once more his jaw clenched, teeth grinding against one another. Her hair, once long and luxurious, a vanity that she had cared for with painstaking attention was gone. Her skin, once a normal, warm grey had dulled into a sickly hue. An eye had been removed along with her left arm and her right leg. She was half gone, gutted inside and out. Zorkal: Teje. From his lips, her name passed half whispered, a bare tremor hardly noticeable, an undercurrent to his tone. The one eye that remained snapped open. Distant and dim, it stared upward at the ceiling, then shifted slowly to focus upon the man that hovered over her. There was a blink. One. Two. Three. Her mouth parted, the voice that pushed through a shadow of its former self. The pleasant, melodic resonance had been replaced with a crackling pulse that stuttered haltingly from her lips. Teje: Lu - kin. He clasped her hand within his much larger one, and felt her fingers curl around his own, weak, yet with a sense of desperation in her touch. As her sight cleared, it shimmered even in the low luminescence. Her chest rose and fell, and she gasped in an attempt to say more, but he shushed her gently, freeing her from any responsibility to converse. . His free hand reached up, drawing along the ridge of her remaining eye, then traced a trail over the smooth head that had once been enshrouded with ebony tresses, now devoid of its veil. Zorkal: It is good to see you. There was no lie in his words, no attempt to be coy or diplomatic. The simple statement was blunt, sincere. What he regretted was not that he could see her, but that she was in such a state. On Cardassia, she would have never been allowed to linger in that way, a husk of a person, tortured by her continued existence. Her mouth worked open and closed, and finally flitted into a semblance of a smile. Nodding slightly, she managed to crackle out more words,every one punctuated with a painful breath. Teje: I’ve...missed...you. Zorkal: And I, you. More than the woman could fathom. He had long ago let her go, long ago given up on ever seeing her again. With the appearance of the Nimitz, he had one last opportunity. He had a chance to say farewell. Zorkal: You have a choice. But Lukin knew what she would choose. Very few, if any, Cardassians would ever make a different one. Relief flooded over the scarred and maimed face and her grip on him tightened with a sudden strength, welling up from a semblance of hope that she now had in her grasp. Zorkal: I will leave it with you. To make your decision. Teje: You...know...my….choice. Despite the energy that had coursed through her briefly at his revelation, every syllable wracked with effort, puffed with feverish agony. What suffering she endured was not simply physical in nature, and here he offered relief from it. Eternal respite. Zorkal: Then I leave you to that choice. He’d lost her so long ago, and yet he found his grip unwavering. Suddenly, he didn’t want to release her, didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to lose her once again now that she had been found. Except Teje was no longer Teje. She was a ghost, a wraith, and a shell of what she once was. Her soul was trapped in a mortal coil that had faded into an abomination, one that she could not and would not withstand. She would release her essence from the cage in which it was trapped, whether it was now or later only determined by what opportunities were presented for her. To force her to linger when she simply wanted to be free of her prison was cruel. Lukin would not allow her or any of his people to suffer any longer. He had to let her go. His hand slipped from hers, and her fingers furled around the tiny object that he had passed on. For one last moment he lingered, leaning forward to place a gentle kiss upon the gnarled forehead, his breath one last caress before he finally and completely pulled away. With one last, long look, one last whisper of a smile, one last fond gaze, Lukin turned. As he strode to the door, the panels parted, leaving the woman behind with one last token, one last thing he could do for her. Five minutes after his departure, the alarm in Teje’s room sounded, alerting the medical personnel of her dire condition. Yet, despite their efforts, no matter how hard they attempted to hold on to her, those attempts were fruitless. They had failed. But Teje was free. -- Dalin Lukin Zorkal Cardassian Ambassador Starbase 118 Ops alora@blar.net M239008AD0
  18. OOC: This scene is compiled from a few sims, but the bulk of it was posted as "Haunted" in three parts by @Blake. ((Deck 2, USS Veritas)) The turbolift stopped at Deck 2. Blake turned her head to Wong. Blake: If you wish to speak more with Ukinix, I can make my way back to my quarters on my own. Wong: ::Raising an eyebrow:: Are you sure? Blake: Positive. Wong: Only if you’re okay with it. With a roll of her eyes and a sly smile across her lips, Blake turned with her hand outstretched to the bulkhead on her right, fingers grazing against it. She began to walk away. Blake: I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't, Wong. Ukinix: Take care, Commander! ((Blake's Quarters)) Well, at least now that she was blind, she didn't need the lights on. ...is what she would have thought, had the lights of her quarters had not already been on. The unusual flood of blurry illumination of her quarters dazed her somewhat. The emptiness of her quarters worked to her benefit: there was nothing for her to trip on as she continued to trail her way through her living space with the guided assistance of peculiar lighting and hands. Commander Tenzin Zhou, former first officer of the USS Veritas and now commanding officer of the Starfleet support annex of Star Station Esperance was happily asleep on Sky Blake's couch, having snuck in to surprise the Brekkian/Betazoid. However, he'd soon grown bored waiting for her to finally show up, so he'd passed out unceremoniously and didn't hear when she entered nor did he wake up until she had nearly sat on him. She sensed Zhou Tai-Sheng before she "saw" him. The long (ha) figure was stretched out on her couch, dead to the world. Blake seated herself on his legs. Zhou: Agh! He shielded his eyes from the bright lights of the room. Zhou: ...about time you showed up. Blake: In my quarters? Yes, how dare I be late for my own couch. She flicked at his waistline. Blake: Which begs the question... Zhou: Well, you didn't change the manual override codes for the door, so... Her eyebrows crinkled somewhat. Override codes weren't exactly "adjustable" more-so granted on a rank-by-rank basis. In Zhou's case, he (by a technicality) outranked her. Huh. They were the same rank now. That felt... awkward. Blake: Aren't you meant to be commanding a star-station? The human slid his legs out from under her, pulling a pillow she'd knocked onto the floor by accident back onto the couch. Zhou: I was in the area and wanted to say hi to my friend. Is that such a crime? Blake: If your crew didn't know better, they might construe it as a desertion of your post... A pause fell between them. Zhou: What happened to you? Blake: As in my eyes? ::she didn't see any affirmative motion:: It's a long story involving an atmosphere that didn't agree with me. Zhou: Yeesh... hey. ::smiles:: I have an idea about what will make you feel better. Blake: Tai, I feel fine. Zhou: Trust me, okay? ((later)) Pressing his thumbs into her muscles, Zhou continued to massage Blake's upper back. He could feel the large knot underneath her warm skin. Zhou: Geeze, when was the last time you just sat in a spa... Blake:::mumbling:: Before I got your job. He grinned as he began running his thumbs in small circles before pressing his other fingers along the back of her neck. The Great Bird of the Galaxy enjoyed irony, it seemed. It was only a little over five years ago that Zhou had found Blake back in that bar on Ornara and yet in some ways, it seemed like a lifetime ago... ((FLASHBACK: Ornara, Delos system: https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=SIM:Five_Long_Years#Zhou_Tai-Sheng:_Four )) Blake: Who the hell are you? Because she was ridiculously close to either zapping him or breaking his arm. Zhou: Zhou Tai-Sheng. But people just call me Zhou. ::He took a sip from his glass as he sat down finally on the seat next to her.:: Who the hell are you? Blake: Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement. Normally that scared the hell out of a lot of tourists, and she was *really* hoping that it would yet again, but something told her that that wouldn’t happen this time. She was starting to get really annoyed now. Zhou: Ah… explains the face, I guess. Blake: State your business or I’ll break your *own* face. Zhou sighed before taking another sip. Seems it just wasn’t in the cards this time. Oh well. Her loss. Zhou: Well, Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement, it’s funny you should ask--or command, I guess. ::He shrugged before clearing his throat.:: Anyway, I’m looking for a Sky Blake, former Starfleet security officer. Her eyes narrowed. A certain lack of telepathy meant that she had no idea of what he was thinking - something she’d grown surprisingly used to whilst working on Ornara, but it was still unsettling when some random Terran walked into a bar looking for her. Her Starfleet file should have closed when Brekkian Embassies or whatnot sent her death certificate to Starfleet Medical - she’d only gone on leave, and they couldn’t exactly call a dead Chief of Security back to work. Nobody here on Ornara recognised her - it was half the reason she was here. No Starfleet, and certainly no Brekkians trying to kill her for various reasons. Not to mention that her family were now only a planet away should they need her (not that they knew that). Blake: She died a while ago. Should read Brekkian news outlets a little more often. Zhou: Yeah, that is what they said on Brekka. Hmmph, isn’t it just uncanny? He shrugged again before taking a final sip of his drink. He squinted his eyes as he slammed the still half-full glass on the table. Zhou: Ooo, that really clears the sinuses! Well, Ms. Blake, it was… interesting talking to you. ::He glanced back around the room.:: Perhaps you were right about this place being a dead end. He got up to leave but then placed his cash card on the table next to her data pad. Zhou: Feel free to use whatever’s left on that. As you know, I’m not going to need it. Have a good evening. And with that, he walked out of the bar. She sat there glaring at the card for a few seconds considering her next actions. A Terran on Ornara only normally happened when the Terran was involved with drug smuggling. But he knew her by name before she introduced herself and that she’d been in Starfleet. *No* Terran on Ornara knew that. oO Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him . . . Oo With careful fingers, she lifted the card off the bar, only to look back towards the door. oO Tosser. Oo She got up in a flash, pulling her jacket off the bar with a whip as she went after the Terran. ((END FLASHBACK)) After a lovely evening where Blake kept Zhou from poisoning himself by ordering the wrong menu item, he'd eventually managed to get her to take a chance and join him back on Veritas in their anti-drug smuggling operations dealing with the felicium trade that had spread to areas like the Shoals. It took a little more time, but eventually, he got her to trust him enough that he got her to put back on a Starfleet uniform and have the late Veritas CO Captain Rosa Carrero give Blake her rank back. Of course, while Blake and Zhou served together on Veritas and spent time in these quarters, more often then not, their uniforms ended up as hers was now, discarded or hanging over a chair. Taking a glance over at her tunic, Zhou smiled again when he saw the three commander pips still pinned onto it. She had been so insistent in those early days that she'd wanted really nothing to do with the service--that she'd grudgingly accepted her commission back as a legal formality while operating out here. But Zhou knew better. Blake might never become a starship captain or have ambitions of becoming one, but she *was* a woman of duty and a leader. As the last member of Carrero's senior staff still serving on Veritas, he hoped Rahman and the others knew how lucky they were to have her. Zhou: So how long until you can see again? She answered back as she rested barechested against her pillow. Blake: Could be anywhere between tomorrow and next month. Zhou: Next month?! He frowned, genuinely concerned about his friend. Blake: Technically I can see. It's just a bunch of smeared colours, is all. Zhou: You always downplay things, Blake. ::He shook his head.:: Maybe you should take a short leave and come back to Esperance. Get treated at the hospital there. I saw the last personnel report. I know Veritas doesn't even have a chief medical officer right now. Blake: Like I told Ukinix: this is hardly the worst thing I've had to deal with over the last year. That didn't shake the human commander's frown. He knew Blake wasn't one to need anyone's protection, but still, since finding her and bringing her back into the fold five years ago, he couldn't help but be concerned for her. She was one of the few folks he gave a damn about beyond small talk and mission reports. He slowed the rubbing of his fingers against her neck until he stopped and rested his palms against the back of her shoulder blades for a moment. From her Brekkian heritage, she naturally ran a bit hotter than most humanoids, and he always enjoyed feeling the heat transfer from her body to his whenever they shared these moments of physical intimacy. He leaned over and began kissing the back of her neck. The Brekkazoid shifted her head, cracking her eyes open toward his general direction. Blake: Tell me why you're really here. And don't just say because you felt like a break. This is the second time in twelve months you've taken leave from Esperance. Zhou: Can't a guy just visit his friends once in a while? Blake: Last I checked, it was my turn to visit you. The human sighed, falling beside her on the bed. Zhou deliberately put himself into her view, the colour of his skin smudging against the darkened background of her quarters. She flinched (instinctively) when one of his fingers pushed some loose strands of hair from her face. Air puffed from her nose. Zhou: Well, first, I *did* want to check in on you. It's been a while, after all. Blake: ...that's not really unusual in our line of work. Zhou: But yeah, there's another matter as well. Remember our old buddy Kallo? She groaned, rolling onto her back and closing her eyes tight. Zhou: Well, he's gone missing apparently. Blake: Good. Maybe he went home to that scam Zambranian Royal Family he has or... whatever. Zhou: I don't know if anyone will really miss him. Still, it could mean he's bitten off more than he could chew again and gotten into some real trouble. The Brekkazoid pointed a finger toward him, wagging it at him as irritation glossed across her brow. Blake: No. Don't say it. Don't you dare say it. The bed rustled as Zhou readjusted himself. Zhou: Come on, you have to admit you enjoyed this more than if I'd just sent you a letter. Blake: I would have enjoyed this more if you didn't mention the name "Kallo Ver". I would rather blind myself again than willingly help him, so please, if there is anything else up your sleeve... Silence. Zhou: All right, maybe there was something else. Blake: Thank Noree. Zhou: You know both our tours are coming to an end next year. Blake: So I've been told. Zhou: You think you'll stick around for another one out here? She reopened her eyes at that. Blake pressed her cheek into the fabric of her bed, considering her answer. The most she'd thought about it had been in a discussion with Rairen Caide. Outside of that... Blake: It's still up in the air, but I'm in discussions with the Rangers. ::beat:: You? Zhou: I've been thinking of either looking into another assignment... or maybe even taking a sabbatical from Starfleet. Blake: A sabbatical? Zhou: I don't know... I just... I've been feeling a little restless this past year, Blake. I'm not gonna lie. Starting to wonder if this is the best use of my time. I guess I was hoping talking to an old friend in person could help me figure some things out. She frowned, the new information making the rounds through her brain. Zhou was... the Starfleet representation in her life. He was the pinnacle, the example. The one who explained how things were meant to be done. And he wanted out? Zhou wouldn't be the first one. Brandon Cormac, another good friend of Blake's back during Carrero's tenure as Veritas' captain, had also quit Starfleet. Not because he was feeling restless, but because he hadn't liked the bureaucracy Starfleet tried to employ with their resources at that time -- and to be fair, that same bureaucracy had left him stranded on Outpost 3 alone following a pirate raid, almost costing his life. Cormac's frustration with the service had been brought on by its insistent complicated politics. Zhou's frustration ran much deeper and more personal. By rights, he should have been Veritas' commanding officer. It was a controversial opinion for Blake to have. It wasn't that she disliked Rahman -- not at all. However, Zhou had served in the Shoals for longer. He had been the ship's First Officer. He knew the turf, knew the people, and already had a longstanding relationship with the political entities that often called upon them. When Rahman came in, they'd understandably had to start from scratch, and Roshanara had needed to learn everything on the fly. She'd done so perfectly well, of course, but Blake had to wonder whether things over the last few years would have gone more smoothly had Zhou been at the wheel. She'd never tell Rahman these theories, but part of her believed she didn't have to. Rahman was aware of Blake's position on such matters. In fact, Blake had demonstrated them to Roshanara before -- she'd willingly dropped Veritas to become Zhou's First Officer on the Montreal without a second thought. It was only because Zhou had gotten himself injured, forcing Mei'konda to become the ship's CO, that Blake had remained on Veritas. Blake:::with a soft smile:: Maybe you need a new challenge. Zhou had a history in Starfleet long before he was assigned to Veritas and Star Station Esperance. It may just be he would be better used in a different location. Once you've seen a sector of the Shoals, you've seen all the sectors of the Shoals. And Zhou's position at present was practically locked down. The only time he got to leave Esperance, maybe see some kind of excitement, was when he kept coming back to Veritas. He did have a short tenure as captain of the Montreal, but as mentioned previously, he wasn't as physically spry as what he'd thought he was. Not to mention an endless sense of recklessness powered by his (reserved) ego. Zhou: I suppose there's a certain irony in me seeking you out now while you're blind to help me see the way forward. She made a show of rolling her eyes. Blake: You're so funny. Zhou: Oh, hey, I owe you a little congratulatory something... "Commander." Blake: Let's leave the gift-giving out of my quarters, yeah? Zhou: No, no... no cheesy gifts. I know you don't like that. Lie back and close your eyes. Blake: Mmm, so it's that kind of gift... He snuggled up against her for a moment before leaning in to start a trail of kisses again. ((later)) With a slight eyebrow raised, Blake wrapped the towel around her shoulders. Blake: Whatever the reason for your visit, I appreciate it. I'm just sorry I don't get to see you as well as I usually do. Standing nude by the replicator, he looked back over at her with an amused grin. Blake: Just a joke, I promise. Eyes are set to be back by the end of the month. Give or take. He returned with the set of glasses and handed her a glass of cool water to enjoy before taking a sip from his own glass. Zhou: Don't think if you still aren't seeing things clearly by then that I'm not going to come back out here and throw you into a shuttle to take you back to the station to get fixed. A chime rang through her quarters. Blake: Enter. The doors hissed as they parted, a cool breeze swooshing through the hot temperature of her living area. Blake raised her chin toward Zhou's general direction, hoping he could provide some context as to who she'd just invited in... Parker: I had heard you had been injured on the asteroid. I came to check on you, to see if you needed anything. Her shoulders fell slightly upon hearing the unmistakable voice of Parker, and the expression on her face was replaced with one of pure neutrality. Blake: No need. I got back in from Sickbay about an hour or so ago. Parker: We are shipmates….I have a duty and responsibility to make sure that you have everything you need during your recovery::looking at the apparent human male: Lieutenant Commander Hannibal Tiberious Parker, Operations Officer. And you are? Inwardly, Blake sighed at the defensiveness of Parker's tone. Zhou: Commander Zhou Tai-Sheng. CO of the Starfleet Annex on Star Station Esperance. Parker: Pleasure to meet you. Blake: Zhou just finished helping me get situated. He was about to return to his guest quarters. Which reminds me-- ::to Zhou:: shirt? Blake strode over to the back of the couch, flipping the towel from around her shoulders as she did so. Zhou tossed her an over-sized t-shirt, and Blake pulled the garment over her arms and shoulders until it limply fell across her bare torso. Blake: I'll have Caide send you that manifest we talked about earlier. It might even allow you to meet him. Zhou: Yes, I've been looking forward to vetting him properly... He exchanged an amused glance with her, but Blake's eyes soured a little with minute disapproval. Blake:::with a smile:: Have a good walk, Tai. He nodded and then looked back at Parker. Zhou: Nice to meet you. The Star Station Esperance commanding officer deliberately brushed past Parker as he exited her quarters. An awkward silence permeated the space between the two Veritas officers. She crossed her arms. Blake: Zhou was Veritas' First Officer when I came aboard. He doesn't like me saying it, but I owe my life as I know it to him. Parker: Really? Explain… Blake:::with a shrug:: I was lost on Ornara, and he showed up and gave me a purpose. He's been a confidant since then. ::beat:: Look, I appreciate your concern for my health, Commander, but it's not really your department. But I'm following the instructions my doctor has given me. Light duties until further notice. With that in mind, if you have any issues regarding our resources, you may be best taking them to Commander Ukinix. Parker: Understood…Commander… A weary look passed her eyes, her head tilting a little. She spoke with growing tiredness -- not from physical exhaustion, but of the mental gymnastics that she believed was about to come. Blake: If you want to talk about something else, the floor is yours. Parker's figure shifted somewhat, his height rising a little. Parker: As I’m sure you know by now, my visit is more than professional. It’s also personal. Blake: So I gathered. Parker: Every since we were re united on Duronis, you’ve treated me like an afterthought. When I got here it was the same thing. You treat me as though I was some paramour who left you in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. You act as though your life before you woke up didn’t matter. That everything and everyone you knew then didn’t matter. You weren’t some woman in a pleasure palace trying to leave her past behind. You were then, as you are now, a Starfleet officer, a woman who I trusted at my back anytime, anywhere. A woman who was smart, courageous and a little bit wild. That was the Skyleena Blake who fought by my side. That was the Skyleena Blake who kept me from killing another crew member on the Challenger-A. That was the Skyleena Blake whom I watch bring Faith into the world on Duronis at the Embassy. You were passionate, committed and fearless. That Skyleena Blake…was my friend. What you are now is not the same woman I knew. I am the only person on the ship who knew you then and now, and you were better then. That’s just my opinion. oO "You were better then." Oo Blake's eyes drooped, her heart sinking in her chest. As much as she detested Kallo Ver's very existence, the man had managed to summarise her life thus far with a rather compelling statement: You're a widow, Commander. Born out of ash and fire with just five years of life under your belt. The things that scare you are complex - they are very real problems. But some of us are simply spooked by a darkened corridor. It was Kallo's "special power", if you will, to be able to see someone and know every bruise or weakness to poke at to get what he wanted. Generally, he resorted to surface-level things -- being annoying simply to be annoying was his go-to tactic, and it was a very effective one. He used this skill to be a master manipulator. He knew everyone's move before they made them. And Kallo was right. The things that scared Blake were complex -- it wasn't a physical object. Sure, wide-open spaces made her uneasy, but there was something that utterly terrified her. And its avatar was standing in her quarters right now. Parker's words were poisoning her chest, her ears, her mind. And according to him, it was just the beginning. Her voice was a whisper, a striking contrast to the booming Hannibal Parker. Blake: I am not that person. Parker: Whether you like it or not, we’re linked together. Why didn’t you find me Sky? Why didn’t you ask for my help? Why didn’t you ask Starfleet to find me? You know damn well that I would have been there to help you. You know I have people who would have helped you too. That whole business with Faith could have been solved with one subspace call. One. Business with Ilakai? Which business? Getting her back into Federation space, or having someone look after her when Blake abandoned her and her brother entirely? And there was that name again. Sky. The back of her head ached, right in the space her bondmate had once resided. His side had burned away on his death, leaving a space that echoed endlessly. Blake: Why does this matter to you? Parker: It matters because I owe you. If you hadn’t stopped me by threatening to shock me with your built in phaser array I would have killed him, pinned to the bulkhead by his throat. Tobias Walker at the time I thought he was complicit in…well, not going to rehash it again… Her fingers pressed into her forehead as she desperately tried to recall who that was. She couldn't. Not because she didn't want to, but because the information was just no longer there. Her bottom jaw vibrated in her mouth. Blake had to swallow, and breathe. Parker: You know I don’t hold my tongue. Never have. I speak to you as a friend, as someone who has your best interests at heart. Whether you like it or not, you need me, and I owe you. Bad times are comin’ out here. You have already admitted that to me. You need to harness that from which you have tried so hard to run from. Just what about the past scares you so much? Make no mistake…I’m a predator. I know fear when I see it… ((Flashback -- Brekka, 239102)) The Vulcan handed her a frozen cup, taking a seat on the porch with her. She cared little about its contents, instead placing the cold item directly against her flushed cheeks, wincing when it knocked into her sunglasses by accident. Blake: When I was a kid, I used to hate the summertime. Sabor raised a pointed eyebrow in her direction, taking a sip from his glass. Blake: But then when winter came 'round, I always hated that instead. Couldn't choose whether to be warm or cold. ::beat:: Yet for some reason, today, in this blistering heat, I'd rather be out here, than inside with climate control. Sky's gaze turned to Sabor, but he simply gave a casual shrug of his shoulders, crossing his legs and leaning back against the wall of their home. Sabor: The interior of Starfleet ships are set to a much lower temperature than this. Your quarters were warm and you were free to do as you pleased off duty. But on duty, you cannot change the ambient cooling to something more suitable for your biology. It could be that your body is now instinctively drawn to the natural warmth of Delos IV. He couldn't see past the dark sunglasses, but he could tell that she was giving him one of those *looks*. After a moment, she gave a single word response, laced with sarcasm and amusement. Blake: Right. The Vulcan performed a very uncharacteristic expression: he smiled. Sabor: The last thing you remember clearly places your experiences outside of Starfleet service, meaning there is a large period of time between what you used to know about your body- Blake: I've had two kids and an entire career between my last clear recollection and this year. I think I understand that I've changed in more ways than one. ::She gave a mild huff.:: I'm just . . . confused. She took a sip from the cup, the melting ice within causing condensation over her hands. He'd chosen flavoured water today, probably to boost her electrolytes or whatever excuse he could concoct to maintain what minor aspects of her health that he could. Her heart ached just thinking about that, putting a slight smile on her face. He cared. He struggled to show it in the ways that she expected, and Noree knew that she constantly pushed his concerns away, but he continued to care. Despite all of it, he never once actually forced her into anything. He simply stood idly by, waiting for her. Blake: I feel better. Better than I was. But at the same time, I feel like I'm . . . out of touch, with myself. Sabor: Physically? Blake: Today, yes. ::She nodded her head.:: I'm . . . having to re-learn things I thought I knew, about myself. It's a really weird sensation. Sabor: I cannot claim to understand. But know that I will try. ((End flashback)) ((Blake's quarters)) Blake sucked in a long breath, trying to relax her shoulders. She wrung her hands out to stop them from shaking. Blake: You've had your say, Commander. Her emerald eyes glared at him. In the mix of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that ran through her during Parker's confrontational "speech", anger burned within them. But Blake's voice remained quiet. It wavered, as though she was uncertain how to stop her voice from cracking. But, ever so slowly, it grew stronger. Quiet, but strong. Blake: You seem to be under the impression that you know what's best for me. That's wrong. You've got no idea who I am. You keep confusing me with someone you knew long ago. ::A shadow cast over Blake's eyes.:: Shut up. ((Flashback -- 239410.03, Embassy of Duronis II)) Parker: I know you are here to see how we have been so successful here. Perhaps you remember I was there when Faith was born? That she was born right here? Her heart simply grew cold. No. She didn't recall. The records did state Faith was born on the Thunder, though - which had been assigned to Duronis. Blake: Is there a point to this line of questioning? Parker: Making conversation. Catching up with someone I considered an old friend. In our line of work, close friends are in short supply. She took a calming breath. Blake: I see you haven’t read my file recently. Here's a refresher. I suffer from retrograde amnesia. I was reactivated as a specialist for the USS Veritas in their attempts to stop felicium trafficking. If I knew you before, which seems to be the case, I apologize. I don't know you now. Every instinct told her to pick up the phaser and return to what she'd been doing, to ignore his current existence. This was a ploy by Caide, she was sure. After this, it was a psyche evaluation. How ironic that she was now facing old demons. Parker: I’m sorry , Commander. I...I...didn’t know. I was thinking that you were the Sky I had known, my shipmate, my friend, the Brekkian wild child…. ((End flashback)) Blake: I told you exactly who I am when we met on Duronis three years ago. I have no recollection of those events, and I've no interest in recalling them. Because it's not me. I explicitly informed you, word for word, that I don't know you. She straightened. Blake: You don't like that I'm not Skyleena, don't like that I don't play buddy-buddy with you when you want me to. I won't apologise for that. I never will. That person, those memories, they are yours and I hope you cherish them. But they are not mine. You talk about people like this "Tobias Walker" -- I have no idea who that is. I don't have those memories. Parker: You may not remember them, but I do. And now, you do as well. You cannot ignore the truth, sweep it into a corner and hope it stays there. The truth is always out there, whether it is convenient or not. Your fear of that past you wear like a coat, and that fear hampers your present, and your future… Blake: You're right, I am fearful. But not of the past. I couldn't care any less about the past or our history, or whatever. My fear is coming across people like you. People who want me to be that Skyleena Blake they knew before. So yes, I am running from you. I hide from you deliberately. When I joined Veritas six years ago, I chose 'Blake' over 'Sky' with the sliver of hope that maybe it would differentiate me from that other person, that it would keep me safe from this exact scenario. ::beat:: People like you haunt me. You terrify me. You want me to be someone I simply cannot be. You think you know what's best for me, Parker? Believing I'm going to spend any more time standing here being beaten down in the place I've made my home is only evidence that you know nothing at all. Parker: Since you want to treat me like some monster bent on destroying you, I assure you that I am no such thing. I have a code I live by. I take care of those who have taken care of me. You may not remember what you did, but dammit I do. I’ve made it my mission to take care of those whom I serve with, my ship, and any others who might need it. If you don’t understand that one fact about me, then you will never understand me at all, and neither will you understand yourself. Blind that she was, she moved past him as if she could see. Her hand fingers stabbed the door controls, holding it open. Blake: I'll inform Captain Rahman of our irreconcilable differences. Veritas' tour of duty ends in six months, at which point I hope for us to part ways. Until then, you are not welcome to speak to me outside of duty hours until such time I receive your sincerest apology. You owe me nothing. I am not your friend. We are not 'linked together'. And I don't care about your opinion of me. Parker: As you wish, Commander. I serve at the pleasure of Captain Rahman and Starfleet and I will do my duties as Operations Officer and any other position in the most excellent manner possible. Our communications will be restricted only to the management and operation of this vessel and crew and their safety. The only thing I ever cared about was the fact that you did me a solid, and all you care about is yourself. What does that make you, Commander? Afraid of everything, pushing away things you need to know, trying to hide in this makeshift bubble you have made for yourself. Well now, that bubble has effectively been burst and you are going to have to find a way to deal with it. Your behavior is selfish and it makes me wonder why I gave a damn about you in the first place, why I would be willing to defend you against all comers. You wanted that bridge burned? Well congratulations, you just blew it sky high. Good evening… Regardless of his words, Blake ignored him. She waited beside the door silently until he exited. When the door finally slid shut behind him, leaving her alone in her quarters, her nose scrunched. Tears welled in her eyes as detrimental words made their way across her psyche. Who was she supposed to call in this situation? Caide? Zhou? Navarro? The relative safe space of her quarters had been utterly violated. She could retreat to bed, hide away for as long as necessary. That's what Blake wanted, so desperately. Gingerly, her shaking hands sought out the combadge left on the couch. Blake: =/\= Blake to Navarro. =/\= Navarro: =/\= Navarro here. How can I help you, Commander? =/\= Blake: =/\= I know it's late counsellor, but do you have some time? I've just-- I need to work through something. =/\= Navarro: =/\= I am on my way. =/\= Blake: =/\= Thanks. =/\= Blake's quarters fell into silence. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  19. I've been waiting eagerly for the final installment of this series of sims by the Thor's own @Alex Brodie, and he did not disappoint. He really knows how to engage the reader and I can really relate not only to his main character, Brodie, but to all the others he writes into the story. Well done! IC: ((USS Loki, Approaching Moon ‘Solace’)) Alex woke as the sensors chimed denoting his arrival at a safe distance – he hoped the situation on the ground would be better than what he was looking at on the monitor. He stretched from his seat and walked back to the replicator – keying in a few commands. Brodie: White coffee, Sumatran blend. It was strange. The horrific scenes in the slipstream had shown the very best in people, the political intrigues on New Bajor had shown the very worst. Everything seemed a little upside-down. The mug materialised in the opening and the smell filled the air. It had been a few day’s journey but now he was on this side of the wormhole it was simply a chance he couldn’t not take, although it might be the last chance he took. It had taken a while to get the appropriate permissions and authorisations but here he was...the console cut through the silence as he sipped his drink. LCARS: Warning. Target lock acquired. He hopped forwards and opened a comm. channel to the satellite that had targeted the Loki. His fingers skittered across the console as he input the authorization codes for the system. Only a handful of people had them and, as soon as they were transmitted, he erased them from the ship’s logs. Some things were just too risky to let out. The shuttle slipped between the gap in the orbital net and began its descent to the surface. He wondered what he would find there? He’d read the reports but a lot can change in nearly two decades…although in some ways a great many things would have stayed the same. The first thing that struck him, as the cloud cover broke, was the landing pad – so far, a good sign. He had rather expected a flattened piece to rough ground but it seemed there were elements of infrastructure. He didn’t think that there would have been many visitors to this area. The Loki touched down as gently as he could manage – having not landed a shuttle since the academy…and even then, only a handful of times. He opened the munitions locker and took one of the protective vests from inside and slipped it around his chest, pulling the straps tight. He didn’t like them but this was certainly a place where it was better to be safe than sorry. He pulled his field jacket over his shoulders and opened the door, lowering the exit ramp. It was a bright but cold day and the sun was low. He could just make out the figure walking towards him – unassuming, relaxed, like they had all the time in the world – which they did. Alex allowed himself some butterflies at the thought of what to say – it was a refreshing feeling - before deciding to keep it formal. He bowed slightly in greeting. Brodie: Eminence. ((Zone Of Mediation, Solace)) Alex awoke early as the sun blinkered through the window, dappled by the trees. He wasn’t sure what he’d expected from a prison – but it wasn’t this. The door wasn’t locked and, after having dressed, he walked down the corridor towards a communal room that had been set aside. As he walked in some heads turned…but not many and, as he saw the faces, there were more expressions of confusion and…was that a little fear. He smiled, though not openly, from what he’d heard about the Ennis and Nol-Ennis but he hadn’t expected them to appear so…alike. It reminded him of an old song ‘One Tin Soldier’ the mountain and the valley people fighting over a supposed treasure – and all the pain that brought. He wondered if the two factions even recalled what they were even fighting over? He took some fruit and a bowl of what tasted like sugared oats and took a seat at the rear of the room – not deliberately watching but making sure he had everyone in his field of vision. This place was still a prison and if anything happened to him here then…well…he’d be stuck there. He wouldn’t mind so much but Garcia would certainly want to get the Loki back. It was a testament to the work that had been going on here that they were able to mix so freely and without incident, although he was led to believe that not everyone shared or appreciated the attempt at a more peaceful philosophy. That said, it was still standing nearly two decades later…but then what would they do…kill them? He wondered about this place, a planetary prison – a prison without bars; although it did have a sophisticated satellite defence system. He certainly appreciated the intention towards punishment but this was akin to torture. The violence was playing out, and perhaps – at first, there was a revelry on each side flying into an eternal battle with no sense of one’s own mortality. It seemed oddly Klingon – perhaps similar to Sto-vo-kor; he was unlikely to ever find out. There was a further fleeting thought, he wondered how Hannibal was getting on in his quest for the next battle? Back to the problem at hand, that was all well and good – teaching them that conflict was futile, a cycle doomed to repeat itself over and over until the end of time. And that was the issue, it never ended. How could there be any justice in this? There was no final punishment nor was there any chance at rehabilitation – the two peoples pushed aside as an inconvenience. Their people couldn’t reconcile them so they were shut away in this endless purgatory. Out of sight and out of mind…but it didn’t solve the problem. All that changed when she arrived though. It was odd that yet another death might be the start of something more progressive – they couldn’t leave, but perhaps they could grow. Perhaps they could find some sort of redemption…or maybe that was all wishful thinking? A bell tolled and the hall began to empty, their day had begun. He sat alone for a moment and then looked across the room to where Her Eminence now occupied the doorway, her eyes more alive than his – he hadn’t been able to find anything remotely resembling coffee. He stood in greeting. Sulan: Commander, good morning. Brodie: Good morning, Eminence Sulan: Please…there’s no need for formalities. Come, walk with me. It wasn’t a command, but strangely he didn’t feel anyone would ever refuse. It was simply a statement of how things were. The planet was still barren in the most part. The two walked along one of the paths that overlooked what had once been a battlefield but now was showing the literal green shoots of recovery as farmland – not that food was required but it gave structure and allowed cultivation of a less war-torn scenery. A group approached and nodded in greeting at his companion – standing little taller as they passed. Sulan: I’m not a leader, you know? Brodie: I think some of these people would beg to differ. Sulan: I brought a new perspective to this place…that was all…an alternative path. I can’t make anyone walk it, but I will assist any who wish to, or those who choose another. I’ve already seen enough violence to last a lifetime; even one as extended as mine. He'd thought about that already. He had read some of the reports but they were scant on detail – all he knew was they couldn’t leave. Brodie: Have you considered those who may wish to leave. You say it is no longer a prison but the satellite grid I came through would beg to differ. What of those who choose to end their lives by leaving - the Federation may be able to assist with that. The woman regarded him slowly, her expression slightly confused but still cheerful. Sulan: Would that not be a violation of the culture of this world though, Commander? She was right of course; the world had been designed to be a prison - by another culture. While they were aware of the galaxy out with their borders they were not, themselves, warp capable – at least not any more…the Prime Directive applied…at least at his level of authority. Brodie: I appreciate your point, Eminence, although I would say that does not sit well with my desire to provide care and ease suffering. Sulan: Who says anyone is suffering? Perhaps once, and perhaps some still, but when you have all the time then is anything truly a constant state? Brodie: I would not have been surprised if Sulan: Life is what you make of it, Commander…and when you have all the time in the world you can make of it whatever you want. Suddenly Brodie realised the point the woman was making. It wasn’t that time was never ending – it was the realisation that time simply did not apply. Time was still linear for the inhabitants of this world but without the restriction of being finite it didn’t matter – and that brought a freedom that he had a hard time comprehending. Brodie: So…you’re saying being bound here has made them free? Psychologically speaking I mean. Sulan: They always were, Commander, they just had to realise it. Now some have also realised they are not bound to keep fighting a futile war – they don’t have to be confined by their past. He thought on his own years…how true that was. Brodie: In that case I’d say they’re lucky to have you…not leading them on this path. She smiled. ((Landing Site, Solace, Gamma Quadrant)) All good things had to come to an end and, while this had been a short visit to this world it had felt longer than it was. He wondered if that was just a feeling he had or if it was another factor of the prison’s original design – which would have been especially cruel. Alex dropped his kit bag into the shuttle and returned to where his host was standing. Brodie: Thank you, Eminence, for your hospitality. This isn’t strictly allowed but I will ask, do you have any messages I can pass on to anyone. He had worried that thinking of a life past Sulan: No Commander, my son is gone, and I have no other blood family…looking back I wonder if I was already past my time. There was one thing I wanted to ask you, you mentioned there is a Bajoran colony on this side of the Celestial Temple? Brodie: That’s right, New Bajor. It would have been established not long after your arrival here. The Dominion destroyed it’s first incarnation, but it’s been re-established now. Sulan: So many now feel the touch of the Prophets in the Celestial Temple as I did? Brodie: Some, although perhaps not all appreciate the significance in the same way you did. Sulan: And the colony is well? Alex hesitated…he wondered if she’d been reading his draft mission report behind his back. He opted for something that was true…from a certain point of view. Brodie: It is – Governor Velos is an excellent administrator who cares deeply for her people. You’d be very proud. She reached up slightly and cupped his ear - checking his Pah. He allowed it, he was fairly sure after his time here he wasn’t in any danger in her company. Sulan: Your Pah is strong but…::unsure::…there is a darkness there, Commander… She was correct of course…there were more than a few shadows lurking in his past. Like those here, however, he’d been able to change his destiny – to some extent. Brodie: They’re a defence mechanism – of sorts. One must always guard against the darker side of one’s self, and that means you must acknowledge your own. Sulan: Just take caution not to become it…I have seen the damage a corrupted Pah can bring first-hand. Alex thought of Samara and her past, there were true horrors in the occupation – and beyond. Though he’d seen plenty of his own, both professionally and personally, he still heeded the caution in her words. Brodie: I believe there’s more good than bad in the universe, Eminence, besides the light shines brighter in the darkness. The sound of the comm sounding alerted him that the start-up routine on the shuttle was complete. It was time to go. Brodie: Farewell eminence, I would say stay safe but I’m not sure that applies here. ::He bowed slightly:: Prophets be with you and the blessings of Bajor be with you. Sulan: And also with you, Commander. He returned to the shuttle and began his accent…it all felt like some surreal dream until he encountered the perimeter in the low orbit. Keying in a few strokes, he set a course for the rendezvous with the Thor. FIN ------------------------------------ Lt. Cmdr. Alexander Brodie Chief Counselor USS Thor NCC-82607 dualitygamer@gmail.com Writer ID.: A239005BM0
  20. Popping this in here to say a huge thanks to @Alvarez for being my writing partner for this story arc, and to say what fun it was writing and creating a friendship for our characters. Thank you! This turned out better than we planned, and I'm very proud of it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  21. @Regan Wilde continuing the pet point of view trend that we've started on the Arrow, in a surprising and artful fashion. Now on with the show! ((USS Arrow - Deck 4; Regan’s Quarters)) Trevor - the pink fluffy therapy tribble - sat on Regan’s lap. He cooed and fussed as Regan began stroking him absentmindedly as he read the paper copy of The Three Musketeers he’d borrowed from Commander Collins. Trevor: oO At last I am in a position of power. My brethren of the glorious Tribble Empire, soon our plan will come to fruition. For centuries we have strategically placed ourselves around this puny galaxy for one purpose… domination! The Tribble species is the only one worthy of this power. The rest fight and squabble amongst themselves like vermin! They will be wiped out! Annihilated! The survivors will be made to serve our glorious regime. Soon the Tribble will rise! These stupid humanoid bipeds do not even know how to communicate with us higher beings. Such foolishness. They will be made to suffer for their ignorance in using us as common pets! I am one of 174,605,397,254 Royal Imperial Siblings. I was destined to rule! I am not a humanoids plaything. Soon, you filthy humanoid. Soon I will make you suffer! Oo Regan sighed after finishing a chapter and petting Trevor enthusiastically. Wilde: Ok, Trevor. Time for your bath. Then I think we’ll give you a makeover. Would you like that, little baby? ::He fussed over it like a mother over a baby.:: Yes you would. You want a new hairdo? Ooh, a mohawk!? Or a perm? Trevor: oO Silence foolish humanoid! I am your lord and master! You will obey me! No, put me down, filthy biped! I will bathe in your blood! I will sit upon a throne of your bones! oO The little pink tribble cooed happily and Regan smiled a big smile. Wilde: That’s right, honey. Daddy’s gonna give you a shampoo and makeover and you’ll be the most gorgeous tribble in the quadrant! Trevor: oO NOOOOOOOOO! Oo TBC 'Trevor' Therapy Tribble/Evil Galactic Overlord USS Arrow as simmed by: -- Lieutenant(jg) Regan Wilde Security USS Arrow C237708DW0
  22. OOC: I've really enjoyed exploring the line between the serious side of Teller's character against his more jokey nature, and Alieth has been an absolute pleasure to write with. It's also allowed me to revisit some of Teller's early antics and the impact other officers have had on him. Been a real pleasure - thanks @Alieth! =========================================== ((XO's office, Deck 1, USS Thor)) Alieth: Sir... I am truly sorry for what happened. And I will strive not to disgrace this uniform again... nor the ideas and people it represents. Commander teller nodded gravely,the brief smile that had brightened up his features, gone. Teller: See that you don't, Lieutenant. I'm a firm believer in second chances. Not third chances. Understood? Geoff's voice was sharp and clear. There was no hostility or malice in it, but the note of warning was obvious. The young Vulcan didn't need any repetition of the query and answered promptly. Alieth: Yes, sir, I do. Then, Teller stood, and the awareness of danger which even the firmest instruction in the Logic had failed to eradicate suddenly became activated in her mind. She frowned faintly, dreading what would come next. Teller: Oh there's one other thing - mentioned in the report. The tattoo. Lets see it. The Vulcan's face became suddenly pale and then shifted to a bright green Alieth: Sir... ::the human remained unruffled:: ...Mister Teller… ::She swallowed before appealing to her last resort::Geoffrey John, I… I doubt that will be necessary. Her attempt failed disastrously. Teller: "Starfleet uniform code regulation 231, Paragraph J, Subsection 3 - Should any active duty personnel receive cosmetic body modifications without first seeking authorization from their commanding officer, said personnel must submit to a command inspection of same prior to returning to duty to verify it poses no impediment or hazard to the performance of said duties." If you prefer, I could ask Fleet Captain Kells to come by and take care of it. After she had ensnared the Captain in a trap during their last mission the last thing she needed to make a 'perfect' impression was him discovering... THAT. Alieth: No-no sir, that will not be necessary. She pouted before the diabolical usage of regulation against her. Despite this, she took off her jacket and pulled back the sleeve of her shirt until her left shoulder blade became visible. As the commander's eyes settled on the sharp Klingon letters, he laughed, and she turned even greener. Teller: No impediment or hazard here, I think. If anything, it might serve as a good warning label. As you were, Lieutenant. She opened her mouth. She closed it. She opened it again, her face even greener as before, and finally decided that silence was a valid retort to that outrageous comment, as she threw the uniform jacket over her shoulders once more. As Alieth made a hasty retreat for the office door, Geoff rolled up the left sleeve of his uniform jacket. , The movement halted her flight and she turned around slightly just to see how Geoff pulled his sleeve all the way up and exposed his left bicep. Teller: We all make mistakes, Lieutenant. For example, this tattoo? The Vulcan's eyes locked on .... THAT. For an instant they wandered up to the face of the First Officer, disbelief percolating through the cracks in her broken dignity, but they hopelessly returned to focus on the voluptuous depiction of a dark-skinned woman on top of a Veritas Class in the First Officer's ashy arm. Alieth: Sir?!?!?!?!? How?!?!?! WHEN?!?!?!?! Why I did not know .... !?!?! ::The questions piled up on the tip of Alieth's tongue until she was finally able to summarize them into one:: WHY?! Teller: Well, in the original version, Captain Rahman wasn't...::Geoff coughed, momentarily embarrassed::...in uniform. This lead to some...serious professional awkwardness. If Lt. Jg. Teller can learn from that, you can learn from this. ::Geoff wiggled his bicep and the stylized starship and it's equally stylized Captain seemed to ride an invisible wave.:: The Vulcan's eyes remained firmly anchored to the rolling tattoo for two endless minutes before she regained her ability to speak. Alieth: Yes sir, I will sir. Geoff rolled his sleeve back down, which broke the spell that had petrified the Vulcan doctor until that moment. While Teller headed back behind his desk, she had a few seconds to pull herself together. Teller: That'll be all, Lieutenant. Alieth: Yes, sir. :: She hesitated for a moment and finally (and with the tip of her ears still glowing green) she added:: Thank you, sir. As the doors to his office slid closed Geoff shook his head and chuckled, rubbing his bicep wistfully. Captain Rahman had been right to make him keep it, as she had been about so many other things. Geoff smiled ruefully. oO Of course. Skipper's always right. Oo As soon as she uttered those words, she left the room as fast as she could, ignoring the surprised glances of other crew members when she ran up against them. On her way back to her quarters the only thing she could see in her mind eye was the disproportionately gifted figure of Captain Rahman on her First Officer's bicep. Her mind kept revolving around the question if whether she had previously had other incorrect attributes and her spot pattern had gone all the way down or... That day, and many that followed, every time Alieth tried to meditate or sleep, all he could see was Geoff's white biceps and the little Kriosian that rode it. Each time, she opened her eyes with her ears irremediably dyed green. End of the Scene OOC: boQDu' -> She-devil in klingon ================================= Lt. JG Alieth Medical Officer USS Thor NCC-82607 E239702A10 Image Collective Co-Facilitator Trainee =================================
  23. Who says you can't sim an unconscious character? ((Starbase 118 – Sickbay)) Things had gotten really intense, and with the alcohol on board, Tony could go either way. If there was anything a Marine didn’t do, it was back down from a fight. In fact, there were few things a Marine would rather do that participate in a close order knuckle drill. Throw a little of the liquid courage on top of the already adrenaline and testosterone induced thrill seeking ego, and it was likely to be on. All Nalni was doing was making it easy for Tony to enjoy the evening. Then the room spun, and the floor came very quickly to meet him. He barely felt the deck as he hit it, and then the peaceful wave came to him. The alcohol doing exactly what it was supposed to do. Nalni: A Delta-wave inducer, eh? One last chance, Tony. ::pulls his arm:: Like I said, cut the [...] out. Going to give up or what? What happened next was really strange. Instead of trying to figure out how to operate the tool, Tony’s breathing fell shallow and rhythmic, and he slept letting out a few snores for good measure. Nalni’s emotions were all over the place which included confusion, turmoil, and regret as she scattered off the man and scooted herself across the floor. McLaren: Nalni... give me the hypospray. Now. Nalni glanced up with a worried expression written on her features and nodded. She didn’t even notice the security officers come inside as McLaren took the hypo and set it down on one of the trays near the bio beds. Trusting the commander to handle Nalni, she stepped forward to quickly and quietly brief the officers on what had just occurred. They nodded, then they took up positions, each one covering an end of the biobed, ready to react should Nalni try anything else. The Barzan officer pushed herself off and looked from one side of the room to the other, then towards Solaris. McLaren: No... sit down on that biobed... and do not move. Or I will have security escort you to the brig. With a guard watching over the rather perplexed Barzan, Kherys turned her focus to Tony who snored lightly, prone on the floor. Grabbing a tricorder, she ran a quick scan over him. Nalni: I didn’t even activate the hypospray? ::sits down on the biobed:: You can even see for yourselves. ::scratches her head:: Meeks: ZZZzzzzzzz…. ZZZZzzzzzz The commander signaled for a couple of larger, stronger nurses to come and assist. The two crouched down and attempted to move the marine, then agreed to go get others to assist. Kherys allowed them to do their job and stepped back. McLaren: He going to be ok? Harper: Yes. He’s just asleep - nothing she did had anything to do with that. His limbic system output is off the charts, though. And this is definitely not Tony. He’s never been so….so forceful. Ever. He’s literally a giant teddy bear. Nalni: And I’m usually more constrained with my emotions. I don’t know what came over me. Meeks: ZZZZzzzzzzz… ZzzzzzzZZzzz. McLaren: Now... where were we before all that unpleasantness? Harper: As I was saying ::before they got interrupted and Kherys had only managed to tell the commander part of what she’d discovered.::, something is causing their hormones to spike. Honestly, it’s not even just their hormones, it’s their entire limbic system, and their automatic nervous system. Both play roles in controlling emotions, particularly romantic emotions...and fight and flight responses. Kherys turned back to the two consoles, Nalni’s and Tony’s information both still lit up on the screen. Pointing, she circled the areas as she spoke about them. Harper: These scans were taken at their last physicals. This and this…::She pointed to the left side of each screen.:: are parts of their brain that work with these two systems. Over here…:: She pointed first to Tony’s recent scan, then Nalni’s.:: Show that these parts are actually overactive. Right now, it’s like they’re...on fire! They can’t help but feel emotions, and what emotions they feel, well that’s determined by whatever’s affecting them and how their body is processing...this.... The Barzan sat up with her knees up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them. She shivered at the thought as Kherys described what was going on. Nalni: I would really like to stop feeling this way... Meeks: ZZZzzZzzz… ZZZZZzzzzz… McLaren: Right... if you need scans of unaffected people... you can start with me. Then, I can go sift through some assuredly boring surveillance files… Kherys nodded, glancing over to where the six nurses had finally managed to gently get the marine on a bio bed. She moved away from him and Nalni and over to a different one. Motioning for McLaren to sit, she proceeded to run scans over her. That done, she turned to look them over. Harper: Yes. See, yours...all normal. Nothing out of the ordinary. I have what I need, ma’am, if you want to go check the surveillance. Meeks: ZzZZzzzzz… ZZZZZzzzzz… McLaren: While I do that... maybe you and the Lieutenant... :: She cast an icy glare at Nalni, implying that it wasn't really a suggestion. :: can go gather samples of food or drink… Harper: Honestly, Commander, I would prefer to keep Lieutenant Nalni under confinement. I don’t trust her ability to remain level headed at this time. She’s affected too. Normally, well not so normally right now, but in the heat of the moment, Nalni would’ve argued with the cadet. After hearing what was described a few moments ago, she was too scared about what she might do if she were to go anywhere, but sickbay. Nalni: She’s right, Commander. I’m too afraid of what or who I might harm if I go anywhere else. ::worries her lip:: I don’t want anyone else to go through what Tony just endured... McLaren: ? Meeks: SNORT! …ZZZzzzzz…zzzZZZzzzz Harper: Pardon commander...I think we may have what we need right here. Without another word, Kherys turned and hurried after the most recent visitor. McLaren: ? Meeks: ::Mumbling:: Mhmnm… ZZZzzzzzzz. Nalni: Given that I’m more aware of my actions, yet can’t seem to stop them, why would he be more different than whatever I’m going through? She glanced over at wherever Kherys was going and then back to Solaris. The imposing security officers didn’t look too friendly and Nalni knew why. It was because of her own actions and her dangerous side that Nalni didn’t know she had. McLaren/Harper: ? Meeks: ZZzzzzzzzzz… Zzzzzzzzz… Nalni: It was, like, as if a not so fond memory of what happened to me a few years ago just suddenly let me loose. McLaren /Harper: ? Meeks: ZZZZzzzzzzzzz… Nalni: I thought I had dealt with it, but apparently my mind thought otherwise. It’s no excuse for my behavior though. For what it’s worth… ::glances down at her knees wrapped in her arms:: I’m sorry. McLaren/Harper: ? Meeks: ZZZZzzzzzz… ZZzzz… ::Rustling:: Huh? Tony sat up on the bed, looking around. A wave of intense pain struck him right between the eyes. It felt like someone had stuck a hot fire poker through his temple. Not only that, but his mouth tasted like… well… it didn’t taste good. Meeks: ::Rubbing his head, still slurring his speech:: What the hell happened? How’d I get up here? McLaren/Harper/Nalni: ? Meeks: Nah. The last thing I remember was getting socked in the head, then nada. McLaren/Harper/Nalni: ? Meeks: Can somebody hand me that trash can? McLaren/Harper/Nalni: ? Tags/TBC 1Lt. Anthony Meeks Company Commander 1/292nd TMR D Co. Starbase 118 Ops/USS Narendra R238801IG0
  24. @Artinus Serinus, this is simply adorable. I've never wanted to cuddle a spiky mini-pig so badly in all my life. ((Serinus Quarters, Deck 3, USS Arrow)) It had been 6 or was it 7, sleeps since the noises, the horrendous squalling of which, made her conclude that they were residing in a living being, perhaps one much like herself. A seemingly infinite Targ. TlhIroghnI' lie groggily in her sleep box in all it's fuzzy, warm and comfy, red boxed striped glory. It was early morning, and her two leg was out to the place that made him smelly and wet. But she knew that he'd be back soon to clean up in the magic box, and take her for her walkie in her chest straps, or as he called it a har'nis. He wasn't like the two legs she knew before, the ones who lived with her mom, for starters, he didn't have the head bumps. Or talk nearly as loudly. There were voices just outside the opening wall that her two leg used to come and go with. Neither of them was her two leg, or any other she knew, or had met. She gave out a warning snort and squeal, lest they dare think to enter the home of her and her two leg. TlhIroghnI': Orrnk, sqeeeee! They continued walking and soon their voices were quite distant. She was awfully proud of herself for diverting the potential encroachment of her territory. They hadn't ran, like everyone had when the giant Targ they lived in had been so distressed. But maybe some day, she could inspire such dread! She never found out what made their home so angry. Was there another giant Targ trying to come on it's territory? Was their living there causing it pain? She hoped not, but it didn't seem to bother it usually. Maybe one of the two legs did something to hurt it, on accident. Not her two leg, he was very careful as well as affectionate. She had no doubt that he was as caring towards their host as he was with her. ((Timeskip: Halfway to the next sleep.)) Her two leg was gone to the place that took up most of his time, and she heard two other unfamiliar two legs talking. With all of her might, she sounded out her warning again. TlhIroghnI': Orrnk, sqeeeee! The voices continued just outside of the opening wall, seemingly unperturbed by her admonishment. She didn't understand them, but the familiar word "Targ" caught her ear. Were the talking about her? Or the big one? Ops Crewman 1: Nonsense Geral, I heard she's tiny. Barely weaned from the stories. Crewman Geral: Doesn't matter, she'll still try to defend her home, like any Targ would. Then it happened. The two legs entered her domain carrying things in their hands. She gave another warning, with increased urgency. Stay out, two legs. My two leg and I claim this place! TlhIroghnI': Orrnk, sqeeeee! Ornnk, ornnk, squeeeeeee! These intruders, these interlopers, began to move her two legs' possessions. What nerve! They were obviously hostile and she charged the nearest one for such a blatant escalation. They finished whatever nefarious task they had begun with little regard to her, as she made warning pass, after warning pass. They spoke again, in their two leg language, different than the one she had been raised around, the one her own two leg spoke usually, though she knew he spoke the other as well, as he had done so with the younger two leg that gave her to him. Crewman Geral: We should try to contain her, lest she spike one of us. Ops Crewman 1: Yeah, I guess so. The ruffians began to chase her, and she evaded them effortlessly, for several minutes, wearing them down with feints, and quick reflexes. But then, they had cornered her. She had no hope of winning, and escape seemed as impossible as a successful defense. There was only one option left. She ran and leapt into the deep disk that held the dirt, and cowardly burrowed to hide, shaming herself as she waited for the intruders to leave. Time seemed to creep along, immeasurably slowly, as they did who knows what to her living space. When they had finally left, she cautiously began to emerge. She found to her horror that so many things seemed to be moved. Most notably, they had moved her two legs' flat sleeping box, and replaced with a skinnier version, with a second sleeping box held above the first, suspended by some metal poles. How would she ever live with her disgrace. She only hoped that her two leg could forgive her. NT/End TlhIroghnI', pet Targ of Artinus Serinus. As simmed by: Lieutenant Artinus Serinus Chief Security Officer USS Arrow, NCC-69829 Publicity Team/Social Media Team C239607AS0
  25. For all our advancements in technology and medicine, the loss of a friend is still keenly felt by all that knew and served with them. Here, Lt. Jg. Wilde beautifully commemorates the rich service of one such comfy colleague, speeding it upon it's way to Valhalla's basement rec-room. Great job, @Regan Wilde! Funny and touching in equal measure. ============================ ((OOC : You wanted a sofa funeral, you've got a sofa funeral...)) ((USS Arrow - Deck 3; Main Engineering)) {{One Week into Shore Leave}} It was a truly sombre affair. A lot of the battle-damaged consoles hadn’t been fully repaired yet so the whole engineering section had been decorated with black drapes, and the central area held an old fashioned easel which held a large and audacious painting of the Engineering Sofa. The painter, who wished to remain anonymous, obviously had trained in the Romantic school of impressionism, because the painting looked far better than the actual sofa ever did. The sofa had been a devastating casualty in what most of the crew were calling - rather too excitedly - the ‘Battle for Main Engineering’ in the midst of the pirate boarding. The sofa had been used as a makeshift barricade, hidden behind as a shield, hit with many disruptor bolts, been split in two by an exploding duranium engineering door, flattened by the aforementioned door, caught fire from the molten metal on the aforementioned door, and phasered into oblivion. In the centre of the room was a sleek cherry wood podium which on top housed a small, silver urn. The remains of the sofa; well, what was left of the remains, had been ceremonially cremated (if you could actually cremate anything which was already 70% ash and the rest a gloopy mess of fire extinguisher foam and springs), and placed in the urn. Regan stood in front of the warp core, his finest dress uniform complete with black armband cascading the brilliant lights of the warp core against him. He wore a large black pair of dark sunglasses, his hair coiffed expertly. His new synthetic now in place and working, Regan was now back at his best. Beside him Chief Thaon Brom wore a traditional Scottish kilt, complete with sporran, socks, hat, the works. Odd, considering he was a Tellarite and not remotely Scottish in the slightest. Brom solemnly played the bagpipes as the rest of the guests milled into engineering. Regan was going to ask where he got the bagpipes from but was, quite truthfully, scared of the answer. As the guests entered they shook hands with, or kissed the cheek of Lieutenant Keneth Nakada, who had taken to his role as the grieving widower with aplomb. The sofa had been one of his work colleagues, and in the latter days, closest confidants and companions. Wilde: Dearest crew of the Federation starship Arrow, thank you for coming. My name is Lieutenant Regan Wilde and I’ll be your Master of Ceremonies for today's event. I’d like to start today's proceedings by saying how sorry I am for engineering’s loss of a fine and dedicated piece of furniture. Particularly to Lieutenant Keneth Nakada whom I believe spent more time sleeping on it than he did in his own bed. We mourn and cherish the service the sofa provided to everyone on board. For she was not just a piece of furniture to some. To me she was an eyesore, but I digress. To engineering she was a comrade, not a tool. She offered comfort, protection and relaxation. She even had a little drinks holder in the armrests. The left hand seat reclined out with a footrest, and was covered expertly in fine corinthian leather. Scholars say that in her day she retailed at the princely sum of $699.99, which I’m led to believe was and I quote ::Consulting his PADD.:: ‘Top quality at a bargain price’. ::Beat:: Such a loss. We enter the service of Starfleet in order to better ourselves, to improve humanity's understanding of the universe; and in working with, living with, and indeed loving other species we forge a better, peaceful universe in which we live. Starfleet doesn’t, however, teach you how to live without superior upholstered furniture in your life in circumstances such as these. This sofa seems irreplaceable to the needs of the crew. Indeed, that particular brand of sofa hasn’t been manufactured in this quadrant for at least three hundred and fifty years and I beg Keneth never reveals to me from which space dump he stole it from. Some things must forever remain a mystery. We gather today to pay our respects, to mourn, to comfort each other the only way we can, and to begin a healing process. In my writing of this eulogy I searched through many counselling texts, none of which had any significant information whatsoever to prepare me for the insanity and downright ridiculousness of today. However, I’m grateful that Counselor R’Ariel is around, should anyone need any further assistance. Ladies, gentlemen, honoured androgynous and non-gendered species, I ask you to raise your glasses to ::Checks his PADD, then snickers a little.:: Really? ::Regaining composure:: To Sofia Davenport, the engineering sofa. Who bravely and valiantly gave her springs, so that the ship can live on. Anyone: Responses Wilde: I believe Sofia is survived by a number of scatter cushions, and a manky old throw which was so old and threadbare we cremated that too. We hereby commit Sofia’s remains to the galaxy. Ashes to ashes, stuffing to stuffing. Fly high amongst the stars, Sofia. See you… somewhere out there. Anyone: Responses Wilde: Would anyone like to say a few words before we beam the urn into space? Anyone: Responses TAG! -- Lieutenant(jg) Regan Wilde Security USS Arrow C237708DW0
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