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  1. OOC - Second day of shore leave, shortly after 0930 hours ((Corridor, USS Athena)) :: Asno walked quickly along the corridor away from his quarters and towards the nearest lift. He was a tall man, 5’11” with an athletic build and a quick easy way of moving. He had shoulder length black hair that was currently tied back into a pony tail, a deep tanned complexion and brown eyes. :: :: Currently he was out of uniform, wearing loose black pants tucked into mid-calf high black boots with a loose cream colored shirt with loose sleeves that was open half way down his hairy chest. Over it he was wearing a dark brown leather vest. Tucked into the top of his left boot was a knife, the hilt of which was plain black with a stylized silver V like shape built into it. :: :: He started to jog, moving with a strong gait but when he turned the corner leading into the next corridor, the one with the nearest lift he had to suddenly stop and reach out to prevent slamming into a young woman who was in uniform. :: :: Dressed in a fresh uniform and full of renewed determination after a good night's sleep, Nia strode purposefully down the corridor. She had decided, upon waking this morning, that she would not get lost today. Of course, if she was being honest with herself, she doubted her ability to find her way round this ship had improved that much over night but one could always hope. :: :: Nia was about to turn the corner into, what she presumed would be another long, and not at all confusing, corridor. When a athletically built man with shoulder length black hair came jogging round it. His hands found her shoulders and gripped as he forced himself to a sudden stop .:: :: Slightly stunned by his sudden appearance she struggled to think of something to say. He was standing so close to her, they were the same height and the only thought that moved through her stunned brain was that his eyes were a perfect shade of brown. :: Plito: Are you OK? :: Asno asked in a concerned tone, his warm brown eyes mirroring that concern as he let go of her shoulders which he had instinctively grabbed in order to prevent a more serious impact between them. :: :: The man's warm brown eyes mirroring the concern in his voice as he let go of her shoulders. :: Stone: Yes, I... I'm fine. :: Her brain sliding back into gear. :: Plito: It was completely my fault. I was in a hurry and not really looking where I was going. :: He replied as he stepped back placing a more acceptable distance between him and the young woman. As he did he could not help but notice both her hair with its vibrant and unusual color and her eyes. If he had to guess he would say that she was an Antosian. :: :: He took a step back as he spoke and Nia finally pulled her eyes away from his. :: Stone: Don't worry about it. :: She smiled at him, hopping it would offer reassurance. :: :: Asno stood about arm’s length away from an attractive young Antosian woman, one he had literally just ran into and now he was introducing himself to her even as he tried to maintain a calm and relaxed image. His sudden contact with her had been a surprise and if he had not grabbed her by the shoulders he might have knocked her to the ground by accident. What had surprised him was his reaction to her. :: Plito: Plito, Ensign Asno Plito, paramedic. :: He replied with a smile as he offered her his hand to shake. Her grip was firm, the skin soft, warm and for some reason he found himself checking her out, impressed by her beauty and poise. :: Stone: Ensign Niastrave Stone, HCO. Plito: Niastrave, :: Asno did his best to pronounce it exactly as she had said it, being careful to use the same diction that she had when saying it even as he released her hand. :: that’s an interesting name. Stone: Call me Nia. :: Her eyes slide across him. He was her height, with shoulder length black hair tied back into a pony tail, his eyes were brown and his skin tanned. He was dressed in a cream shirt with a dark vest and loose black trousers tucked into mid-calf high black boots. Nia tried not to notice how well everything fit him. :: Stone: oO He's handsome, I'll give him that. Oo :: The thought made her blush and she cast her mind around for something else to say. :: Plito: Ok Nia. Nice to meet you. :: He responded with a big smile, one that softened his features in a nice way. :: :: Asno noticed it when her cheeks changed color, the rosy hue both surprising and charming, causing him to notice just how entrancing her eyes were, a beautiful deep green, different from the deep green of her hair. :: Stone: So what brings you down this corridor at, :: she checked the time, :: 0930? Plito: I was going to meet a couple friends; we are going over to the station to explore. Stone: :: A slight frown creased her brow. :: Isn't it still closed off? Plito: Yes, most of the station is still off limits but most of what must have been a common area, a kind of recreational zone has been deemed safe. Not sure what we will find but that’s the reason to go exploring is it not? :: He asked in an excited tone. :: Stone: :: Her smiled returned, this time with a playful hint to it. :: Always looking for adventure? Plito: Ha, ha, ha, :: He laughed easily, in a soft masculine manner. :: That’s one way to put it I guess. Stone: So why explore the station? Plito: I like new things, new experiences, it’s one of the reasons I joined Starfleet. Stone: I can understand that. It's one of the reasons I joined to. Plito: I think that’s why we all joined. :: He replied even as he moved his arms to indicate everyone around them, on the whole ship. :: Stone: The adventure of if all, the mystery. Everyday a chance to see something new. Plito: That an excellent way to phrase it. :: Asno paused for a moment as he admired the way her face went from beautiful to enchanting just because of her smile. :: Sort of poetic almost… :: She looked down and away from him when he said that and it was a few moments before a slight sigh escaped from her as she looked back up at him again. :: :: Nia smiled again, her eyes flickered down then glanced at the time. With a slight sigh she looked back up at Asno again even as she spoke. :: Stone: Well, I need to finish getting myself sorted here; check in with Medical, that sort of thing. But maybe we could happen into each other again soon? Plito: I think I would like that. :: As he said it he smiled again. :: How about tonight? Stone: :: She bit her lip, thinking. :: Not tonight, I'm still getting settled in here, shore leave won't last forever and I want to be prepared. oO Make sure I know everyone's names, or even just the senior staffs'. Oo Plito: OK. I can understand that, how about this weekend instead? Stone: :: Her left eyebrow raised slightly. :: Persistent are we? Plito: My people have an old saying, “Only the determined bird gets the worm. “ It means if you want something do not give up. :: As he finished saying it he smiled again. :: Stone: oO Attractive and charming. Oo Nice phrase. :: Nia hid her smile. :: It implies you have something to pursue. Plito: I think having a chance to get to know you is something worth pursuing. Don’t you? Stone: :: This time she couldn't hid her smile but she couldn't resist being coy just one last time. :: If you continue with that kind of flattery, I might just take you up on that offer. :: As she walked past him, Asno turned to watch her. He smiled slightly, hoping that she might turn back, waiting patiently and was rewarded when she stopped just short of where the corridor turned away to look back at him even as she spoke. :: Stone: Saturday, 1900? Plito: Sounds great. :: He replied with a big smile. :: Stone: Okay. I'll see you Saturday. oO Well that didn't last long. Oo :: She shrugged to herself. :: oO The coy thing doesn't suit me anyway. Oo :: For a moment longer Asno kept watching as she turned away and walked around the corner and out of sight. If anything his smile got slightly bigger as he turned to hurry away as well, his friends were waiting. :: TBC/TAG ************************************ Ensign Niastrave Stone HCO Officer USS Athena A239401NS0 and PNPC – Ensign Asno Plito Paramedic/Emergency Combat Medic USS Athena, NCC-97780 As simmed by Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar Chief Tactical Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 darylpea[...]@hotmail.com Daryl.Pea[...]@ontario.ca Tal Tel-ar’s Writer’s ID: T237708TT0
  2. Data here used on the species wiki page OOC – First day of shore leave ((Science Department, USS Athena)) :: Hsina had just left what had turned out to be a somewhat less brutal interrogation than she had expected, no doubt made a little easier by the good night’s sleep, hearty meals and vigorous workout she had enjoyed between her arrival on the ship and her appointment with the Intel officers. :: :: She still hadn’t met the captain though no doubt she would be summoned as soon as the intel reports were in, but it was clear that her file and codes had been uploaded and she now had at least basic access to some of the science facilities. :: :: Basic clearance, strangely, couldn’t access most of her own research concerning the Preservers and other ancient spacefaring species, but that was to be expected. What she was able to access was the Starfleet unclassified library, which included the one item she wanted most; the definitive history of the Preservers, published in Oxford University Press way back in the year 2324 one Hsina Amman, Ph.D and doctoral candidates Natsuko Imai, Jason Klein and Semak, who was a Lieutenant Commander in Starfleet on an educational leave. Based on Hsina’s work decoding Preserver cuneiform script 19 years earlier, the four scholars had undertaken the massive project of translating all extant Preserver texts and, most importantly, cross-indexing them with ancient Terran, Vulcan and Klingon writings that linked Preserver contact with those respective species. :: :: Information, including full cuneiform lexicon and translation matrix loaded into a PADD, Hsina logged out of the research system and headed for the door, almost running into the last thing she expected to see, which was to a say a woman of roughly the same height. She had known a few, VERY few, but it still usually came as something of a surprise. :: ******* :: Torali stretched and then reached up to massage her neck. She had put in a lot of hours already and the little interruption by that barbarian had not helped. A glance to the side showed that it was past time that she should have stopped and gone to get something to eat. :: :: With a shrug she turned off the computer she was working on and stood. As she did her mind wandered back to her home. She had not been back since she had informed her father that she was going to enlist in the Federation militaristic war machine as a scientist. He had exploded, the first and only time she had ever seen him angry in her life. :: :: In fact that was the last time that she had spoken to him. He could not grasp the concept that his daughter had chosen to live with and work beside such primitive barbaric species and while she understood his worries and his disdain for any species that could not rise above any and all forms of violence her intellectual curiosity had driven her to take the step that she knew might drive a wedge between her and her people. :: :: So far it had proven to be a mix of interesting new experiences and disappointments, mostly disappointments. Far too many of the species that belonged to the Federation were noticeably inferior, barbaric and savage. Even the Vulcans who were intellectually on a level close enough to be considered members of an intelligent species harbored a dark and primitive capability. :: :: Still the exposure to so many different species, cultures, worlds and societies was a treasure trove of unexpected new concepts, information and even experiences. All of which she recorded, preserved in analytical and concise scientific reports that she diligently sent back to her world. :: :: She doubted that it would make any difference with her father but she knew far too many others and not just scientists who would read, debate and study her reports. If her people were to survive in this savage universe they needed to be warned, to be prepared for just how uncivilized all of those species were. :: :: With a shrug she shook off her thoughts and turned to leave. As soon as she exited the lab she had been working in she had to stop before bumping into someone who was almost as tall as she was, a female Lt. Cmdr. that she had seen a few times here in the science department. :: Elzizabath: Excuse me. Amman: Pardon me, I should pay more attention. :: Torali found it refreshing not to have to look down when speaking to someone, especially another female even if she was old enough to be her mother. :: Elzizabath: Ensign Torali Azivalora Poracin Elzizabath Amman: Hsina Amman, nice to meet you. Elzizabath: I came aboard the USS Athena just before leaving the Alpha Quadrant. Amman: I came aboard yesterday. I’ve actually been stranded on that space station the last three weeks, and was transported there from a very, very distant planet, most likely by some sort of gate. Elzizabath: I had heard about that, the circumstances which resulted in that occurrence seem to be unusual and deserving of further scientific research. Unfortunately that is not my field of expertise, is it yours? Amman: I’m an archaeologist actually. You? Elzizabath: Technically I am a planetologist but I also have a solid understanding of most of the sciences associated with planets and their ecology. I have been assigned to this vessel to study the various new planets this vessel comes into contact with. Amman: Well, being as far out as we are, its likely I’m stuck here for at least the near future. Elzizabath: I would expect that to be correct. :: Torali tilted her head slightly and asked a question in a curious tone. :: I take it you would have preferred not being rescued or was there some place you would rather be? Amman: Well, a ship assignment is not what I was looking for. I was in charge of a rather extensive research project for the last few years, based on a bronze-age planet. High gravity, harsh weather, no technology. I’d gotten rather comfortable not having any of the bureaucracy or protocol of Starfleet. Elzizabath: Aahhh…. I think I understand…. :: She paused for a moment then continued. :: Having scientists on a military vessel seems wrong… being free of the bureaucracy… the savage Neanderthal mentalities of most Federation individuals would have been a wonderful way to immerse yourself into proper scientific research. Amman: I wasn’t there to study a primitive culture, rather exploiting a long-lost library left behind by the Preservers; ancient spacefarers who seeded many of the galaxy’s humanoid species. Elzizabath: That is not what I mean, merely that maintaining an intellectual devotion to peaceful scientific research should be the goal of all scientists. Amman: Is that why you are here, to peacefully study us Federation savages? Elzizabath: Call it scientific curiosity. My people have never been able to understand how the Federation has managed to survive considering the barbaric and violent nature of most of the species that are members of it. :: She paused for a moment and then smiled as she continued. :: In many ways that phenomenon deserves to be studied so that some kind of understanding of the events and forces involved can be better cataloged and understood. Amman: Yes, it is rather surprising we haven’t blasted ourselves into tiny bits yet. Elzizabath: I meant no insult by my words, my only real desire is to develop a better understanding of the various species that make up this Federation. My people find it difficult if not impossible to understand why any intelligent being would ever resort to physical methods of dealing with problems in regards to others. It is my hope that by exposing myself to these species I may eventually develop some king of logical hypothesis as to why they do it. Amman: No insult taken, I was being serious. It really is surprising. My ancestry is Greek and Iraqi, specifically Spartan and Assyrian, with the Spartans in ancient Greece known for their military prowess and purity and the Assyrians of ancient Iraq for their military power and brutality. Elzizabath: Spartans…. Assyrian…. Ohh… I read about them at the academy. They were both ancient human cultures, militaristic, savage, brutal… an unusual heritage for someone who values logic and knowledge. Amman: The Spartans, and all ancient Greeks were eventually enslaved by the Romans, who not coincidentally based their military on the records of the Assyrians. Sometimes I think I was born 30 centuries too late. :: For a human this woman was surprisingly intelligent, showing unexpected depths. Too bad most of her species seemed to lack those fundamental qualities. :: Elzizabath: That is a surprising statement. Considering what I know about those cultures you would have been treated as less than a person, useful only for the work you could do and the children you could produce. I believe that would have been a waste of a brilliant mind. Still that does not explain why you are here in this quadrant. Amman: That bronze age world I was on was a Preserver seed world, an almost exact duplicate of Earth in the 7th century bce. I was, in a way, living among my Assyrian ancestors, right down to their language, their foods and their religion. Elzizabath: Ahhh…. Hence the unusual connection to your own heritage, still I believe that this opportunity must have also allowed you to make numerous discoveries that may have an impact on the history of your own world and people. I almost envy you the opportunity that you were able to involve yourself in. Amman: Tell me about your species. Since by your own admission they lack an understanding of violence, I’d be curious to learn of your history, and how they reached such a state. Elzizabath: My homeworld is Ash’lie IV in the Draco Sigma Sector of the Alpha Quadrant. It is deep within the current borders of your Federation. My people had mastered space travel and visited most of the planets in my own system more than 5,000 years ago. Amman: I’m slightly familiar with it. Your people didn’t leave many footprints on surrounding worlds. Elzizabath: We never really traveled farther than our own system although we did visit many of the systems within a twenty light year radius. On those worlds that we observed intelligent life we left satellites to observe and send back data. Amman: 5,000-year-ago even the Vulcans were 3,000 years before Surak taught them to embrace logic and suppress emotion. The Preservers were still seeding worlds and extracting resources, but had already abandoned the Alpha quadrant a few thousand years before that. Elzizabath: It was due to these observations that we learned about the savage, violent nature inherent in all of these species. Long debates among the council with input from a vast majority of our intellectual leaders resulted in us removing those satellites and withdrawing back behind the border of our own system. Amman: Hence the lack of an exploratory footprint. Elzizabath: It was just a precaution, to prolong the inevitable contact that must eventually occur once one of those species mastered enough engineering and scientific knowledge to allow them to produce some form of space craft. Most of our leaders believed that those species would never reach that stage or that they would cause their own extinction before it could occur. Amman: We came very close on many occasions to wiping ourselves out, but give us time, we might still bring about our own destruction. Elzizabath: That is a conclusion that many of our intellectual leaders believes applies to all of the other species we have encountered so far. I just find it unusual that someone from one of those species would agree with them. Is there a reason for this belief? Amman: Despite all of our altruistic laws and lofty ideals, most of our species maintain not only their potential for violence, but dare I say our reliance on it. Thanks to a 60-year nap in a stasis tube I’ve lived more than a century, and I honestly believe that the galaxy is just as dangerous, or perhaps even more so than it was at the time of my birth. Elzizabath: You would find many of my people who would agree with you. Still it is nice to meet someone who does not ooze testosterone fueled primitive aspects. :: As she said it she smiled. :: Amman: I’m perhaps not as peaceful or evolved as you might think. In addition to being a scientist, I’m also a boxer, a Terran blood sport in which two fighters, following certain rules, beat one another up with their thinly padded hands until a certain number of timed periods elapse or more often, one is knocked unconscious. Elzizabath: I observed a few such matches at the academy as well as others involving martial arts, although I never did learn where the arts came into those activities. Even those sports, I believe that is what they are called that did not have physical violence built into them seemed to be aggressive and rudimentary with undertones of primitive savagery. :: Torali paused for a moment as she considered how best to ask the question she now wished to ask. :: If I may ask, why? Amman: I started as a teenager and have always excelled at it. Physical strength runs in my family, and I guess I enjoy the contest on many very different levels. The thrill of the challenge, the pain and even the pride at winning far more often losing. :: Torali shook her head. The answer matched those that she had received from others during her years at the Academy. It still made little sense to her, how could anyone enjoy hitting another sentient, intelligent being. It was cruel, sadistic and inhuman. Yet they did and neither party involved in the barbaric acts seemed to even realise that it was wrong. If anything both parties seemed to emerge from the encounters experiencing joy, happiness and elation. Again she shook her head, still baffled by the very concept and the fact that everyone else around her accepted it as a normal part of their existence. :: Elzizabath: I fear that I may never understand. However that is part of why I joined your Starfleet, to learn about other species. Amman: I take it your decision wasn’t a popular one. Elzizabath: My people may never understand, my family certainly did not. None of them have spoken to me or replied to any of my messages since I announced my decision. ::Hsina found it almost amusing that a species that prided itself on being so highly evolved would be so narrow-minded when it came to one of them wanting to explore and study. Amman: Not a particularly evolved response. Elzizabath: You must understand. While some of my people do have limited but regular contact with other species only a very small percentage have ever left our world to live and work among aliens. Amman: Strange that they chose to excommunicate you over your choice to explore and serve. Elzizabath: It was my decision to join Starfleet that created the insurmountable gulf between me and my family. Regardless of all the medical, scientific and altruistic acts that members of the fleet take part in each and every year it is and always will be considered by my people as a militaristic war machine. One whose sole purpose is to fight, maim and kill others regardless of the reason for such actions. Amman: Well, we do fight, main and kill others from time to time, though for the most part it is usually done in defense of innocents or to thwart the aggression of others. Elzizabath: My studies at the Academy for the most part were fairly complete in regards to this aspect of service. That does not mean I understand or condone such actions. Amman: Tell me, have you ever taken a life? I mean personally, up close. :: The question was both shocking and abhorrent at the same time. Torali could not help allowing the feelings to be mirrored on her face but her time at the Academy had presented her with so many shocks that she was quickly able to regain her composure and hide her reactions behind a mask. :: Elzizabath: Never!!!! I have never intentionally or accidentally struck, injured or by some action allowed someone to be injured. It would be unthinkable. Amman: Not even in self-defense? Elzizabath: No. Not even to protect myself. Amman: What if it came down to self-defense, or defense of your shipmates? Starfleet is pretty clear on such things. Elzizabath: I enlisted under a provision that ensures that I will never be expected or asked to take part in any such acts of barbaric violence. Amman: I have, more than once. The first time was when I was 19-years-old, at university in Los Angeles, a big city on Earth. :: Against her better judgement Torali found herself asking the question. :: Elzizabath: How did it happen? Amman: It was self defense. I was late coming home from school, and a man grabbed me and tried to force himself on me. Elzizabath: Force himself…. :: Torali had to think about that for a moment. It was a foreign concept to her people but one that she had quickly learned about while living on Earth herself. :: He wished to mate with you. :: The nod she received in response confirmed her guess even as the other woman continued tio speak. :: Amman: He knocked me to the ground and then got on top of me, but I was able to grab a rock and I hit him in the head with it, and kept hitting him until he was dead. Elzizabath: Your actions were extreme… :: Torali said even as she allowed a slight smile to soften her features. :: but from what I have learned about your species it may have been instinctual, not a rational response…. Did it not bother you??? Amman: I’m not really sure. It bothered me at the time, and I remember having nightmares for years afterwards, but I never felt sorry or that what I did was wrong. If anything, I think what bothered me the most was the thought that he wasn’t really any different than me, or anyone else for that matter, but somewhere in his past, or perhaps in his genetics, something went ever so slightly differently and resulted in a criminal or a deviant, instead of a scholar, or a baker, or anything else that humans could grow up to be. I don’t even think he was that much older than I was at the time. Elzizabath: It is incidents just like that, that make me glad that I was raised on my world. :: As she said it Torali thought back to her childhood, the flowers, music, art, a time of wonder and joy. It brought a wide, warm smile to her face even as she continued to talk. :: Still it must have been a traumatic experience for you. :: The smile had faded as she talked but her expression was still warm and soft. :: Still you seem to have survived more or less intact. Amman: Honestly I hadn’t thought about it for many years, but I’m sure it was a formative experience. :: Hsina found herself enjoying the conversation despite the dark memories it brought up. :: Elzizabath: You humans. :: Torali said with a smile and a soft laugh. :: How many species could say that of attempted rape and defensive murder. Amman: Quite a few I would imagine. From what I’ve seen, violence, at least in defense seems more the norm than the exception. Even in just the criminal context, there are so many crimes related to taking a life. Homicide is the generic, of which are varying degrees of murder depending in intent, manslaughter is a lesser version. Voluntary, involuntary, reckless, justifiable, I’m sure I am missing a few. Elzizabath: I stand corrected…. That is yet another peculiarity that I have not yet mastered, this series of descriptive designations used to describe and define the parameters of someone’s death. Amman: Well, we must differentiate between natural causes and otherwise. Elzizabath: For us it is simple. Either one is alive or he is dead. Amman: Rather simplistic, don’t you think? Elzizabath: Every member of my species that dies is medically examined. In this way we continue to improve our understanding of medicine and the frailties of the physical form. Amman: Frailty is something I do my very best to avoid. A great comedian from my world named Groucho Marx perhaps said it best, “Time wounds all heels.” Elzizabath: That makes no sense. :: Torali replied with a puzzled expression on her face. :: Amman: It’s a play on an older saying, “Time heals all wounds”, meant to help people grieving a loss or suffering an illness or injury. Reversed it’s a metaphor for aging and the delicacy of life. Elzizabath: I think I understand… :: Torali still had a puzzled expression on her face, it was just not as puzzled as it was. :: sort of, but….. this helps? Amman: My father died when I was a young girl. He was a police officer and was killed on duty. My mother died about 7-years-later when I was a teenager. She was a medical doctor, healthy and strong, but she slipped, fell down a flight of stairs and broke her neck. It doesn’t matter how young or how strong you are, when it’s your time, it’s your time. Elzizabath: That sounds more like fate and fate I understand even if my people do not believe in it themselves. Still from what I understand of most human cultures there is a grieving process, it varies from culture to culture but most seem to have one. If it is not prying was that true for you? :: Torali asked politely. :: Amman: I remember when my father died, I cried for weeks. We all did, my mother, my brother and my two sisters. It took us a few years, but eventually life returned to a new normal, and then that ended too. Elzizabath: If there is one thing that I have learned since leaving my world, it is that regardless of the species nothing stays the same forever, change is inevitable. :: Torali paused for a minute as she tilted her head and pursed her lips while looking away. It only lasted for a moment then she returned her gaze back to the Lt. Cmdr. and continued to speak even as she tilted her head back upright. :: Obviously something else happened, may I ask what? Amman: Nuri, my oldest sister was away at police academy, following in father’s footsteps. Day, my brother was a professional boxer, and Samira, my other sister was a college student. For a few weeks Samira and I stayed in the house, but she withdrew, hardly said a word, ate almost nothing. One day I came home from school and found her hanging. Elzizabath: Hanging…. I am unfamiliar with that term…. I understand how things hang but a person? Amman: She took her own life, asphyxiation. :: A shocked expression appeared on Torali’s face, one that lingered even as she spoke in a tone that was also stunned. :: Elzizabath: But that is illogical…. to take one’s own life….. :: She reached over and placed a hand on the older woman’s shoulder. :: I do not understand… why… there is no logic to such an action… this must have been…. confusing… disorienting… how did you respond? Amman: I’m not sure really. That time is rather foggy, but I remember moving in with my brother and he made me go to the gym with him after school and do my homework while he trained. Elzizabath: He worried about you, cared for you… that is good, I think I would like your brother, as a person, not as a barbarian. :: As she said the last Torali smiled to take any sting out of her words even as she dropped her hand from the other woman’s shoulder. :: Still it is obvious that you overcame a series of unusual traumas to become the person you are. I have a feeling that your brother was instrumental in that development. Amman: Well, I started boxing, stopped mourning, stopped hurting, stopped crying and stopped fearing. Right or wrong, I learned that pain and pleasure were basically the same, and that since everyone will die anyway, there was no point fearing it. Death revealed itself to me as just an inevitable part of life, the last page, a comforting future rather than something to be feared. Elzizabath: Death comes to all living things, it is not to be feared, nor is it to be embraced. My people believe that life is for living, to be enjoyed. So we learn, live, laugh and love. We do so for as long as possible, knowing that eventually it will end. Amman: Many of my kind believe the same way. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we can be a rather chaotic lot. Learning is seen by many humans as a chore, by some as a challenge, and by a few of us as a passion. Laughing, living and loving, we try to do as much of those as well. In fact it can be argued that most human behavior at some basic level is aimed at attracting an appropriate mate. Elzizabath: ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, :: Torali laughed, the sound almost musical for the sheer sense of joy that rang through it even as it lit up her face. :: Sometimes I forget just how different our species are. :: She finally managed to say when the laugh died out but the smile remained. :: Amman: So you no longer have baser passions? Elzizabath: Those are for the most part myths and preconceptions regarding my people. Yes we do enjoy the physical act but just as much as the emotional aspect. It just does not rule our lives, it is merely a part of a healthy and rewarding life. To be enjoyed as much as music, art, dancing, the thrill of learning something new, reading a new book or hearing a new poem. :: As she finished speaking she turned and motioned in a way that seemed to ask, shall we walk while we talk. :: :: Hsina walked alongside this most interesting officer, eager to learn more about her and her kind. :: Amman: I think most humans have evolved far beyond their animal instincts, but still the drive remains. I tend to think that most humans put far too little effort into their relationships and perhaps too much into their careers and hobbies. I am quite guilty of this myself. I’ve only had two intimate relationships in my life, and neither of them went particularly far. The physical aspects were fine, but I’ve always found it difficult to make a deeper connection with living people and tend to prefer studying people who’ve been dead for millennia. How do your people approach physical intimacy? Elzizabath: I would not go that far, :: Torali replied even as she started to walk along beside the other woman. :: still I will admit that from my experience my people do tend to pour a bit more effort into the physical aspect, much like some of your athletes do with their sports. Especially the one called a marathon. Amman: I’ve run more than one marathon, and can’t imagine the “physical aspects” having that kind of duration. Is that normal with your people? Elzizabath: Not bragging, merely a statement, still I will admit that I could be wrong, after all my experiences in this regard would not be what you could call all that conclusive. After all I did spend most of my time at the Academy learning about your Federation and the species in it, not experimenting. Amman: I would very much like to learn more, perhaps experience such a different approach to life. Elzizabath: That is the scientist in you. :: Torali replied calmly. :: Something that I think we both have in common. Although I believe that we approach it in slightly different ways. :: Torali glanced over at the other woman as she continued to speak and walk. :: Would you not agree? Amman: While archaeology was always my primary field, anthropology was my minor and is quite closely related. In my last assignment, it was always a struggle when reporting back to Starfleet to drop the mannerisms of the culture I had assimilated into. I love to “go native” as many scholars refer to fully assimilating into a culture to facilitate a deeper understanding of it. Elzizabath: As I thought, while I have enjoyed studying the various species and cultures I have encountered since joining Starfleet I have never felt the urge to “go native” as you call it. However the idea is intriguing. Could you elaborate on the concept if you do not mind? :: She asked is a curious tone. :: Amman: Pisces IV had most of the cultures that Earth had 30-centuries-ago. While I spent most of my time among the Assyrians for access to the Preserver library, I also spent considerable time with the Shang Chinese and the Egyptians, and was able to integrate into different strata of their societies and truly “go native”. Elzizabath: An interesting concept, one that would most likely result in a better and fuller understanding of the culture and species. :: For a few moments they walked along in silence before Torali again spoke. :: However I doubt that such an experiment would work for me. I fear that certain aspects of my cultural beliefs would prevent me from being able to achieve a status even faintly close to what you describe. Amman: That’s the point, you have to abandon your cultural beliefs and live within someone else’s. Certainly you’ve had to adapt somewhat to be where you are now. Elzizabath: My first year at the Academy was most definitely a cultural shock but I was fortunate to have a good roommate who helped me to adjust. Amman: How so? Elzizabath: Perela was a Serilian from Seril IV. However she had spent most of her formative years off world with her father living aboard a freighter. As a result she was able to fit in with little to no difficulty. Amman: People in isolated environments like a freighter, or even a farm, tend to be far more egalitarian, while in most large groups gender norms tend to be more strict. Its something I’m always very keenly aware of when I try to blend into a society. Most humans tend to have rather rigid views on age, gender and many other immutable characteristics. Elzizabath: She mentioned that. :: Torali replied calmly but then her tone changed to one tinged with puzzlement as she continued to speak. :: Even after all this time I have difficulty understanding how any intelligent species could logically think there is a difference between the sexes. From what she told me most females from her world would never have the opportunity to join Starfleet like she did. :: The two of them stopped at the lift and waited for it as they continued to talk. :: Amman: But there are differences, beyond the strictly anatomical. There is a spectrum in any given trait, but averages definitely exist, and are vary among species. In humans men do average stronger than women and women on average have a longer life span. Of course there are men who live to be vastly older than the average woman, and women who are vastly stronger than the average man, but in general there are traits and identifiable differences. Elzizabath: ha, ha, ha, ha, :: Again Torali laughed her musical laugh before she continued to speak. :: From what she told me she was most definitely not your typical female Serilian but I think that was a good thing. If she had been I doubt that she would have gotten into Starfleet or been assigned as my roommate. :: As she finished talking the lift doors opened and they both entered. :: Amman: And how exactly did she help you adapt? Elzizabath: She encouraged me to try different things, foods, activities, even some sports…. :: A large smile lite up her face as she spoke. It stayed there as the lift doors opened and they walked out into the corridor. :: Amman: Sports? Elzizabath: I know, silly really but it seems that there are some that do not require a baser instinct for savagery, besides, regardless of anything you may have heard about my people we all tend to spend a portion of every day in some kind of physical fitness activity, swimming being one of the most popular. Amman: I love sports, at least individual sports. I was never much of a team player, but I did always enjoy direct competition. I’m a mediocre tennis player, but I’ve always enjoyed the game. It’s the same with swimming, where I have excellent endurance but am rather slow. Which sports have you tried? Elzizabath: Most were classed as track and field activities but I also tried gymnastics which are very similar to something we have on my world but we consider it to be a visual performing art set to music however Perela and I did play a lot of tennis as well. I found it challenging and an excellent way in which to exercise. Amman: Perhaps we can play some time. Elzizabath: I would love to, for some reason I have found that it is not as popular an activity among most humans. :: As they turned a corner Torali had to pause her speaking for a moment and sidestep out of the way or she would have bumped into a purple skinned being with three eyes and strange waving tentacles hanging down from the top of its head. However as soon as it had passed she continued speaking. :: If you do not mind my asking, are there any other activities that you enjoy? Amman: You mean hobbies? Well, I’m not very good yet, might never be, but I’ve gotten involved in ballroom dance and try to practice at least two or three times per week. I also like combining my professional knowledge with cooking, vinting and brewing. Elzizabath: An interesting selection of activities. I am not sure what form of dancing, ballroom is but cooking I am familiar with and correct me if I am wrong but vinting is to create wine and brewing is for ales? :: Looking over Torali saw her new friend nod to indicate that she was basically correct. :: Amman: That’s the fun part. Ancient recipes are very easy to find, and with archaeological evidence we can often get a fairly accurate picture of the processes they used, but in many cases ingredients are no longer the same or even available due to changed climates and extinct plant and animal species, and of course we can often only guess. Elzizabath: While I was at the Academy I heard about some university students that had managed to recreate what many believe may be one of the first brewing recipes on Earth, something from approximately 5,000 BC. Amman: The oldest I’ve managed was an Sumerian millet beer dating to about one thousand years later. How about you, any hobbies? Elzizabath: Me. I paint, do some drawing, play a few musical instruments. I use to perform as part of the Ulasivierathalosovoron Olarisian Ensemble. My mother is one of the senior musicians with the company. Amman: Olarisian Ensemble? Elzizabath: Olarisia is the most popular form of performing art on my world. Every major city has a couple dozen performance troupes. :: Hsina was genuinely curious. :: Amman: Can you describe it to me? Elzizabath: If I had to describe it I would say that it is a large spectacle. :: Torali paused for a moment to consider how best to describe just what a performance was like before she continued. :: Think of it as a hybrid blend of Earth like ballet combined with circus de soile acrobatics and backed up by a symphony orchestra of 50 plus musicians and an audience participation that might resemble those individuals attending a performance of the Earth cult classic “Rocky Horror Picture Show” but without the audience wearing any silly costumes. As you might expect most performance groups have at least 100 performers. Amman: I’m not familiar with the Picture Show you mentioned, but it does sound like something I’d like to see. What is your part in it? Elzizabath: I played the coralis, an instrument that is faintly like one of your Earth saxophones but with one mouth piece connected to two sloping metal tubes, one longer and thinner than the other which is slightly thicker and each with its own keys. Amman: I sort of know a woman who was a world class violinist, but I don’t believe she still plays. Elzizabath: Violinist? :: Torali answered in a slightly puzzled tone even as she glanced over at her new friend. Then her expression changed as she continued to speak. :: Oh yes, a stringed instrument from Earth. It has some wonderful tonal qualities as I recall. What happened? Amman: It’s a long story. Someone my shipmates and I rescued, a woman out of time. Elzizabath: That is an unusual statement. If you do not mind my asking, how and why did you describe her in such a way? :: Torali asked as they turned the corner and came to a stop near the entrance to the officer’s mess hall. :: Amman: We found the wreck of an early Federation starship in orbit around a remote world with unusual conditions much like the planet Ba’ku in that it caused organic cells to regenerate themselves. The crew of that ship had been stranded on the surface of Kjenta II for almost 220 years, but were all in their physical primes. In the three weeks I was there I reverted physiologically ten years. It’s a rather desolate place, extreme gravity and weather, but it was also the proverbial fountain of youth. Elzizabath: That is a human reference correct? :: Torali asked and was rewarded by a nod even as she continued to talk. :: something to do with one of your mythological stories, water that prevents aging…. An interesting biological mystery, one that would be sure to interest anyone with a medical background, I take it that the Federation is now studying it? Amman: It’s quarantined now. Elzizabath: That is a unexpected decision. I would have thought that scientific curiosity would have won out… still that has no bearing on your story. What happened to her? The violinist. Amman: Major Irina Pavlova is her name. She was accepted to the Moscow symphony in the year 2165, but chose to join Starfleet instead. About a week after we had evacuated the survivors to the Discovery she tried to play, but couldn’t make her left hand work the strings without severely cramping. That was three-years-ago, and when I saw her a few-months-ago she didn’t mention playing again, and I didn’t think to ask. I hope she did. Elzizabath: My musical talents may not be nearly as extensive or impressive as my mother’s but I would miss them greatly if for some reason I could never play again. Did you ever play an instrument? Amman: I tried the guitar and the flute as a child, but I had no talent whatsoever, and I’m a horrible singer. Something about female vocals and tenor just not being a pleasing combination. Elzizabath: I think I understand, most species that I have encountered since leaving my world seem to produce only a small number of musicians, artists or performers. Amman: None of my my brothers and sisters ever had any musical talent. I guess its just not in our gene pool. Elzizabath: Almost everyone on my world practices some form of artistic expression. Amman: You are known for it. Elzizabath: I had to laugh when I read the Federation description of my people at the academy. We were described as a species of artists, our world a gallery of visual and performing arts to delight the senses. Our achievements as doctors, scientists or engineers received only a short mention. Amman: I’ve only read of your world once, and if my memory serves, we hadn’t made first contact yet when I was a student. I hope you’re not offended by my lack of knowledge or my people’s oversimplification of your society. Elzizabath: It did not offend me. After all there has been less than a dozen visitors to my world from the Federation that I know about. I can see how it might be possible for them to have come to the conclusion that they did. Amman: Not unlike some of your people’s impression that we are all violent barbarians. Anyway, I do need to take care of a few things and I believe I’m due to be interrogated by a punch of Intel types who seem to think I’m not who I say I am. Should be fun. Elzizabath: Oh… I’m sorry. I did not mean to keep you. :: Torali replied in response to her new friends statement that she had to run as she was expected elsewhere. :: Amman: Oh no, I most enjoyed our conversation. If you don’t mind, I’d very much like to spend more time with you. Perhaps you could show me one of those performances on the holodeck? Just because I have no musical or artistic talent doesn’t mean I’m not a discerning spectator. Elzizabath: I would like that. :: She replied with a smile. :: This has been an interesting meeting, one that I welcome the opportunity to continue at another time. Amman: I’ll see you soon. Elzizabath: Till we meet again. :: Torali replied as her new friend turned and left. As for her she turned and entered the officers mess. It was long past time that she should be getting something to eat, or at least that was what her stomach was telling her. :: TAG/TBC ************************************ Lt. Cmdr. Hsina Amman Science Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 Author ID 0238908HA0 And PNPC – Ensign Torali Azivalora Poracin Elzizabath Science Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 As simmed by Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar Chief Tactical Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 darylpea[...]@hotmail.com Daryl.Pea[...]@ontario.ca Tal Tel-ar’s Writer’s ID: T237708TT0
  3. ((USS Blackwell, Chief Science Officers Office)) ::Sometimes times the brightest days can have their own special darkness. A shadow that cast itself on life and one that resists all attempts to dispel it..:: ::Merrick sat in his office, the lights dimmed to the point where the fixtures were but glowing embers, hardly enough to be seen against the blackness of the room. However between them and the screen in front of him there was more than enough illumination for Merrick to see his screen.:: ::D E A R:: ::Four letters hung there staring at Merrick as if daring him to add anything more.:: ::He was writing family. Rodulan family. Yet the Vulcan part of himself, the part that was cultural rather than biological, demanded he excise the emotion laden word. Merrick just gazed at them, transfixed and silent as he contemplated what seemed to be an exercise in impossibility.:: ::For the past several months Merrick had been at war with himself about home, about talking to his people. However for a man with so many memories locked inside his head, fighting with himself had taken on new and epic proportions. Voices and emotions spoke to him. There were images of alien landscapes. He could smell the gardens, hear the tinkling laughter and feel the happy little kisses of children on his cheeks. Other memories displayed for him broken vistas where the Borg had come and decimated entire homes, tribes, cultures and even planets. The burning sense of loss was almost overwhelming as he continued in his unmoving vigil of his screen.:: R’Ven: oO Home. Oo ::It was a word that had become unmoored from almost all meaning.:: ::Even Merrick’s own childhood had been one of travel, moving from this planet to the next. The only cord of continuity was the Vulcan ship that threaded itself through his life. It represented family, school, work, and in many ways life. His whole personality . . . .his whole being had been consumed and tied by all things Vulcan. The language, the culture and the driving desire for logic and order.:: R’Ven: oO But are we Vulcan . . or . . . ? ? Oo ::The very plurality of his question was a reminder of the changes he had gone through . . and was still going through.:: R’Ven: oO No! . . . we are something more. Oo ::The desktop was pleasantly cool to the touch as Merrick rested his hands on it and leaned forward to watch his screen. It was if through sheer desire and determination that he could force more letters to appear. The futility of that desire was making itself felt as pain, spreading from his neck and across the back of his head.:: ::He was not even sure why he was composing this letter. Merrick was writing someone he had not seen in decades.:: R’Ven: oO Would she still want to hear from us . . . from me . . . after all this time? Oo ::The only answer was silence and four letters glowing defiantly in the darkness.:: ::Standing up Merrick stepped away from his desk. He could hear his shoulders pop as he stretched. After a moment of silent contemplation Merrick folded his arms behind his back as he came to a decision and turned to face his desk and the quartet of letters still standing on his screen.:: R’Ven: Computer delete the last letter and begin again. ::Instantly the screen became a blank canvas upon which Merrick could once again attempt to pour out his thoughts. The question was how would it appear when converted to text?:: R’Ven: Greetings Akeelah ::It was a compromise between ‘To: Akeelah’, and ‘Dear Cousin’. Neither felt . . . genuine.:: R’Ven: It has been some time since we have last spoken and I am curious . . . how are you doing? ::Actually the last time they had spoken Merrick was still living on Vulcan and had gone to Rodul for one of his sporadic visits. It had been during a time that his parents were reconnecting with relatives that they had not seen during the occupation. it had given him a strange feeling of contentedness and had a centering affect on him. Now he felt so much less Rodulan than he had ever felt. He felt so completely removed from himself that he felt almost alien in his own skin.:: R’Ven: I have been through . . . . a few changes since last time we met. ::Partially assimilated by the Borg, lost his telepathy, accused of treason, promoted to Lt. Commander and department head, assigned to a new fleet and ship to name a few. The first two changes were in sealed medical records available to his Captain and any medical staff it pertained to. The third one was accessible with digging and the last few were on his service jacket.:: ::All of it felt like a cacophony of sudden and disjointed changes, like a man stumbling drunkenly in the darkness and crashing through the events of his life. What would being next?.:: R’Ven: I wonder if perhaps there might come a time when we could meet again, or perhaps correspond. It has been many years since I have had a chance to speak with family. ::He was conveniently ignoring his parents, who no doubt were out gallivanting from one place or another. Then there was Dorn his older and adoptive brother. It had been years since they had talked as well. Merrick's isolation was partly of his own creation.:: R’Ven: I look forward to hearing from you. ::and he signed it:: Merrick R’Ven. ::Merrick slid into his chair and turned to face his desk. Resting his elbows on the arms of his chair, he interlacing his fingers together he stared resolutely at his monitor. He was satisfied that at least there were more than four letters this time, even if they were not the same ones as before.:: ::The letter was so short and it looked painfully stilted and forced even to him.:: ::Sighing, Merrick looked over one last time and was satisfied that there was nothing else he could think to add.:: R’Ven: Computer, please send to Akeelah D'Sena of the Constitution. ::As the letter spun and then vanished from his screen Merrick leaned back in his chair wondering what the woman on the other side would think of his letter . . . or even think of him. Would she welcome family after so many years of silence? . . . . Would she answer? . . . . Would she even remember?:: ::The answer would require time and patience. Two qualities Merrick had in abundance.:: --------------------------------- LT. Commander Merrick R’Ven Andaris Task Force | CSO @ USS Blackwell Training Team A239210MR0
  4. ((Conference Room 1, Level 4 - Deep Space 26)) ::It has been a nice evening full of success for Isabel. She had met some new people, was recognised for her achievements during the last mission with two new ribbons added to her collection and was able to celebrate with others who had received promotions and other accolades.:: ::It appeared to her, that Starfleet parties are always over quite abruptly. It didn’t even need a red alert or other similar emergency. As soon as people start to leave, it was basically a rap for everyone. Right now, their guests from across the galaxy were leaving, from Isabel’s point of view simply by disappearing.:: ::This was bad news, as one of the more important items on her imaginary To-Do-List was not yet checked. She was quite relieved when she saw Commander Traenor still being there, obviously in the last moments of a talk with Commander Thomas.:: ::Isabel smiled, as this pair most certainly brought up some memories. It was the two officers who had led her mockup mission serving as part of the final exams of the Academy. Even though Thomas had been the Commanding Officer, she had always thought of Traenor being her examiner, since they had had to split the team during the mission, leaving her without much time with Thomas.:: ::This bond has been strengthened further on Turisan, where Traenor and Isabel had met again and shared an apartment for a couple of weeks. But unfortunately, he had been assigned to another position and their correspondence had dropped to literally nothing.:: ::Now, it was time to act, as it appeared as if he got ready to leave this place as well. Isabel made a quick exit out of her current conversation which could easily be continued as her counterpart was not disappearing to a place lightyears away.:: ::She rushed over and actually reached him in time. The quick sprint across the room had actually taken her breath a little.:: Pond: oO I have to start exercising again, instead of laying around with Randal on the couch all the time… Oo Pond: Commander! ::trying to find her breath again:: I’ve been trying to get a hold on you the whole evening. Do you have a couple of seconds for your old student? ::smiling:: ::Having mentally prepared to exit the simulation that placed him at the celebration on Deep Space 26, Maxwell Traenor had steeled himself to consider this the last time to see his former colleagues for a long time, if not forever. Therefore, he was quite surprised to be interrupted at the last second by someone he was very fond of, and had not gotten the chance to talk to before this very moment. The smile that erupted on his face was enough to give him facial cramps.:: Traenor: Isabel! None of this rank stuff! We’re former flatmates, after all. ::With all these previous thoughts, Isabel had a bit of a substitute-dad-reunion-vibe going on, which was quite confusing, as she had never actually felt their connection was that strong before.:: ::She somewhat awkwardly extended her arms for an invitation to a hug, until she realised that this surely wouldn’t be inappropriate, leaving her standing like a old scarecrow with arms that had already bent under the weight of the rain soaked coat.:: ::Maxwell saw the momentary hesitation in Isabel’s carriage and doubt on her face, and understood fully. A combination of time apart and rank, conflicting with familiarity and shared history, made for a perfectly reasonable moment of awkwardness between the pair. Whether it was proper or not, the scientist swept in and gave the doctor a warm hug. It was simply the mood he was in.:: Traenor: You look good, Isabel. Happy and content. Everything is going well, then? Pond: ::Happy about how the hug-attempt turned out:: Yes, very! A lot’s going on recently, with Randal and the new ships and everything… Traenor: This is an exciting time for you and all the rest. New ships, new region, new adventures. It’s a great time to have a party, and has been a great chance to catch up with everyone. ::There might have been a trace of wistfulness on his visage, but Maxwell buried it behind an authentic smile. He could live vicariously through the accomplishments of those like Isabel, whom he had seen rise through the ranks and become an accomplished officer and doctor.:: Pond: It is a great party, and really great that they were able to bring you all here! But I see, you’ve changed colours! Blue suits you well, I must say. ::smiling:: How come? Traenor: Thank you! I’ve worn blue for so long, that I just couldn’t give it up for long. ::conspiratorial wink:: Actually, I was given the chance of a lifetime to specialize in my scientific field. It’s not a step back so much as a step sideways. I’ll get the chance to wear a red collar again someday, but for now, I’m happy and healthy, and that’s what truly matters. ::Isabel was relieved to hear that. Seeing her previous mentor drop out of the command path against his will would have been really heartbreaking. Although not entirely sure if that was the entire truth, Isabel decided to stick to the version to not kill the all around good mood.:: Pond: That sounds great. I kind of got a new position as well, as it sometimes gets a bit boring in Sickbay… Whenever there’s a biological question to ask, I guess I am the girl for that on the Atlantis now. ::laughing:: Traenor: I see you and Randal managed to get posted on the same ship in the Task Force, then. I ran into him earlier, he seems pleased as punch to get to pilot an Intrepid class. ::There was an unspoken question that Maxwell left hanging. He knew that Starfleet was launching a dedicated medical ship as part of the Task Force, the USS Blackwell, and he didn’t know if missing out on the opportunity to serve on such a vessel was a bad thing or not. If he knew Isabel at all, though, he was certain that she’d be content to serve wherever she was needed, and if she had Randal at her side, then all the better. Those two were one of the most successful couples he’d ever had the privilege of witnessing.:: Pond: Yes, I am so happy about that! I am quite sure Renos has pulled some strings to make sure of that. I was a bit afraid that Randal felt like being dragged along with me, as the Blackwell surely is bigger than the Atlantis. But if you say he said that, I am quite relieved... Traenor: ::laughing:: Oh, I’d say he is. I mean, if you can put up with that haircut of his, then it must all be good. That probably makes him happy enough. Pond: ::jokingly:: Heey, don’t speak ill of my boyfriend! His hairdo is brilliant! ::The laughter was hearty at that last jab. Glad to be finally in a place where he could joke about and with his former colleagues, Maxwell felt a warmth and happiness that had been muted for a long time. Any doubts that he had about visiting the ceremony had fully dissipated, and he was left with a contentment over all that had transpired during this virtual visit.:: Pond: ::hesitant:: Can I let you in on a secret? Traenor: Of course. I’m all ears and zipped lips. ::It really was a spur-of-the-moment decision to tell, as she hadn’t had the chance to talk about that to anyone. But with him leaving quite soon, there literally was no chance for some ill-informed rumor to spread which could ruin the whole endeavour.:: Pond: I think it might be time for Randal and me to tackle the next step… ::It was such an open-ended statement that Maxwell was left with an unflattering blank expression as his mind reeled through several possibilities. Before his imagination could run roughshod over the truth, he prodded Isabel for more.:: Traenor: Such as… ::Once again, Isabel was hesitating. She hadn’t told anyone and she was not sure if it was a good idea to do so right now.:: Pond: I am thinking about a way to ask him to marry me. ::If the grin that prefaced their fortuitous meeting was grand, then his latest one was simply macabre. There was no way for Traenor to express how overjoyed he was with the state of these two young friends’ union. He couldn’t help himself, he swept Isabel up in another bear hug.:: Traenor: That is the best secret ever! I’m so proud of you, so proud for both of you! There better be an invitation for me that comes across subspace when the date is announced! Pond: ::laughing while being hugged:: Easy! I said I was thinking about it! ::getting out of the hug:: But seriously. I have read that on Earth it is custom for the man to do that and you somehow have to ask the parents? That all doesn’t make much sense to me, do you think that would be a problem? Traenor: Randal doesn’t strike me as an overly traditional type of guy, especially with a custom as archaic as all that. I honestly believe that regardless of who does the asking, he’ll be over the moon. Don’t worry about it one bit. Do what’s right for you and him, and let tradition be damned. Pond: ::playfully grimmly:: Yeah. Screw tradition, I always say that! ::Isabel burst out with laughter. It was good to hear from another individual from the same culture as Randal hailed from that her plans weren’t doomed from the beginning.:: Traenor: ::once his own laughter subsided:: Look, my chronometer is telling me that my time is about up. But this visit wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t had the chance to reconnect with you. Thank you so much for tracking me down like this. It made my evening to hear from you. Pond: That’s too bad. But I am glad that I’ve caught you. So, already a new mission on the screens? Traenor: Yep, that’s the life of Starfleet, isn’t it? New life and new civilizations, etcetera. The Marchlands, our new area of operations, has it’s fair share of all that, and I get to chart it all. Pond: Let me know if you make any exciting new discoveries. Send me your papers or something, I have always time to read while waiting for patients. ::Isabel realized that there hadn’t been a big farewell scene the last time they had parted. She wasn’t sure if she had missed it or if there simply wasn’t time for that. It made the whole deal just more awkward as it was already.:: Treanor: The same goes for you. I’m always game for following the career trajectory of my former students and friends, and it’s so much more tasteful when I don’t have to cyberstalk them to get the details. ::wink:: Pond: I guess I’ll let you disappear then. Fair winds and all that… ::quite sad:: ::Before they got too wistful again, Maxwell gave Isabel a friendly wave and moved as if to walk away. But before he did, he leaned in conspiratorially.:: Traenor: I’m serious about that invitation. I better get it! Destination weddings are always nice, say Casperia Prime? ::chuckling:: Pond: Send me a leaflet, I’ll consider it. ::smiling:: ::Maxwell Traenor stepped back once again and disappeared. There was no transporter blur that normally accompanied such an event, it actually made Isabel startle for a second. After he had vanished, Isabel stood there for a moment reminiscing.:: Pond: oO Alright, time to go make plans, then. Oo __________________________________ Lt Isabel Pond Medical Officer USS Atlantis D239212IP0 ~and~ LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor Scientific Specialist, USS Constitution =/\= Top Sims Contest Facilitator =/\= A239111MT0
  5. ((OOC: SUBMITTER'S NOTES: For context's sake, there is a lot of alcohol consumption going on in this meeting. As a consummate imbiber, Traenor hides it well, so his responses don't show the same level of intoxication as the others without the background text to make it obvious. Rest assured, the entire scene is of a same vein, if not as 'stellar' as this prime post!)) (( Starbase 104 - Habitat Area, The Sink )) Iel’ue: Commander Traenor here is one of the best kept secrets of the Constitution. I’d call him the foremost expert in Astrometrics and Stellar Cartography, but I’m sure he’d deny it. ::Commander Traenor seemed a little flustered by the remark, giving a muted “harrumph” in response. The ensign didn’t think that Aurelians could “harrumph,” but if they could the entire conversation would probably be the two veteran scientists harrumphing back and forth, since that was just the sort of thing the Professor enjoyed.:: Traenor: Is there another Commander Traenor on the Constitution? Because THIS Commander Traenor may be a stellar physicist, but he's far from a stellar stellar physicist. ::musing distractedly:: Unless we're talking about exceptional stars. Then I could be a stellar stellar physicist. But I wouldn't characterize myself as a stellar stellar stellar physicist in that case... ::shaking his head:: What I mean is that you pay me too high of praise, kind sir. ::The Aurelian chirruped his pleasure. A wide grin was spreading across Ji-hu’s face. He loved nerds. Maybe this was what he had missed all those times his fellow cadets had asked him out into the city.:: Iel’ue: Too damn humble, Commander. We stellar cartographers gossip like Ferengi housewives, and your name and work has come up enough to put me to shame. Choi: I’ll leave you two to talk, I don’t want to interrupt! ::The Commander turned to Ji-hu, looking mischievous.:: Traenor: I need a witness for this, Ji-hu. The Professor here is buttering me up for something, and if I'm going to be swindled, I'll need corroborating evidence. Iel’ue: Nonsense, sit! ::The Aurelian waved over a server. The winter wine seemed to be going straight to his feathered head. He’d never thought the scientist could be so giddy.:: I simply wanted to give Commander Traenor a flash drive with some of my data on astrophysical phenomenon in the Lembatta Cluster for his perusal. Nothing too interrupt. ::He pulled a small disk from his robe and slid the flash drive across the table.:: Now, drink! I call the first Lembatta Sun Scientific Conference to order! ::Commander Traenor took the disk and tucked it away, looking a little surprised.:: Traenor: This is too kind of you, Professor. I must have read and re-read the papers you published on the ternary star system within the Cluster. That's the sort of papers that careers hinge on. It was a fantastic analysis. ::Ji-hu nodded enthusiastically. After the first couple of classes in Professor Iel’ue’s “Probability and Statistics” course Ji-hu had looked up some of the scholars work, including his masterwork “Gravitational Impact on Terrestrial Planet B3 In Lembatta Trip Star System.” He hated himself for not taking more stellar cartography and astrophysics courses. Maybe if he’d done another two years… The Aurelian’s chest puffed out, his neck feathers ruffling proudly.:: Iel'ue: I had a damn good team under me on that work. It was as much their success as my own. Speaking of work, a couple of the Darwin’s crew spoke very highly of your work in astrometrics. I was hoping you might be applying your talents to our little corner of the universe… Traenor: We're focusing all of our efforts on the Leron system right now, but trust me, I will be pestering my captain for a trip to the Lembatta Cluster at the earliest possible convenience. And, if I have any sway whatsoever, I'll ensure that there's a berth for you to join us as a subject matter expert if you would so enjoy. ::The Aurelian clicked his beak against the glass in excitement.:: Iel'ue: A perch in a cargo bay would do if it got me off this damn hunk of metal and out into the stars! ::Iel’ue and Traenor began to swap stories of their exploits plotting the universe and the strange maths that arose out of unexplored astral phenomenon, and Ji-hu was rapt by their conversation. He could only dream that some day he had seen as much of the universe and its infinite combinations of gravitational forces and explosive matter that these two scientists had plotted. He was so lost in the flow of conversation as Professor Iel’ue waxed poetic on the hues of his favourite binary star system in the Lembatta Cluster that Ji-hu almost hadn’t realized the Commander was speaking to him, a kind smile on the older man’s face. Ji-hu straightened in his seat at the attention.:: Traenor: So, Choi Ji-hu. I can only assume that there's a story about how you were taught by the venerable Professor here and yet became an engineer. Do you have a minor in the sciences? Choi: A d-d-double major, sir! Science and Engineering! Although m-my science courses mainly focused on pathology and m-mathematics. I specialized in nanotechnology and advanced computational systems in m-m-my Engineering courses! Traenor: My new best friend! I couldn't program my way out of a wet paper heuristic algorithm. You would be surprised how often I've had to bribe, beg, and steal my way through the simplest of computer tasks. Thankfully, I've always found a sympathetic specialist to assist me... speaking of, what are you drinking? Refreshments are on me during the inaugural Lembatta Suns Scientific Conference! ::The Terran scientists gave a wink and grin, and the Aurelian crowed enthusiastically. Ji-hu grinned nervously. He wasn’t sure if the professor should have another glass of…:: Iel’ue: Winter wine, my good sir! The more you drink, the less it tastes like berries that have sat out in the violent rays of a red hypergiant! ::Traenor looked to Ji-hu expectantly. Ji-hu opened his mouth to order another water, but then he remembered his conversation with Commander Foster earlier in the day. How sometimes “party things” could be a change of pace, and a way to celebrate getting through danger. Sure, his life hadn’t really been in danger today, altough Lieutenant Sindri certainly made his heart feel like it would stop, but he’d joined his first starship crew. Certainly that was worth celebrating?:: Choi: I’ll… I’ll have a d-drink! ::Although he didn’t know what to order as the Gorn server came over. Luckily, the Professor seemed prepared.:: Iel’ue: A glass of winter wine for me, and two Heart-of-Golds for the Terrans! ::the Aurelian chirruped contentedly as the server walked away with the order:: You’ll have to forgive me, gentlemen, but its a reference to an apocryphal old-Earth science fiction story, or so I’m told. These Gorns have a strange taste for old-Earth literature, if you would believe it! ::The drinks showed up, and the three went to, although Ji-hu was a little more cautious. A “Heart-of-Gold” turned out to be an opaque white drink with colourful swirls of other liquids. He sipped it and the taste was… not good, but not as offensive as he’d assumed it would be.:: Choi: ::whispering:: Turing, keep track of my blood-alcohol level. Turing: ::sigh:: Can do, meatsack. ::As Professor Iel’ue had explained, the taste of alcohol got better with each new glass. After his second “Heart-of-Gold” Ji-hu was wholly convinced that he had never had better friends than the Professor and Commander Maxwell. They were both SO INTERESTING! And SMART! And FUNNY! He wanted to be JUST LIKE THEM, and he even found that he could speak to them without stuttering too much! Maxnor Commander was just the best, and being really nice even though Ji-hu was just a tiny little ensign. This was great! He was smiling to himself, and he couldn’t help it! This was the best night of his entire life! They were up to round three, and Ji-hu was snorting with laughter as the Professor began to croon an Aurelian mating song to them, for the purpose of scientific demonstration, when a thought struck the young ensign.:: oO Oh no. Oh, alcohol is evil. Oo Choi: ::slurring slightly, whispering:: Turing, I thought I told you to keep track of my blood-alcohol level! ::The leaf-green icon appeared on his wrist console, although there seemed to be two icons instead of one. Curious.:: Turing: I have been keeping track, meatsack. You were fine until the second sip of your second beverage. Choi: ::slurring, slightly louder:: Damnit, computer! What am I supposed to do now?! Search LCARS, parameter, “what to do when you’ve had too much to drink…” Traenor: What is that, and what did it just tell you to do? ::Ji-hu sat up straight in his seat so fast his knees slammed against the underside of the table. Professor Iel’ue let out a started hoot, punctuating a pickup line to a very disinterested Bajoran mercenary sitting at the next table.:: oO Normal voice. Do normal voice brain. Oo Choi: ::slurring:: This is my best friend Turing, he’s a VI who lives inside my wrist PADD, but someday I think I might turn him into a full blown AI. ::Ji-hu grinned:: I made him myself! But my online friends added a bunch’a… uh… jokes and stuff… tell a joke, Turing! ::Ji-hu held his wrist out toward the Commander, almost bopping him on the nose. The leaf-green icon appeared, and Turing’s cool, androgynous voice buzzed out of the wrist mounted PADD system.:: Turing: Tell me, Commander Traenor, how do you stop a sentient AI from destroying you and the rest of civilization? Traenor: I don't know, Turing. How do you stop a sentient AI from destroying me and the rest of civilization? Turing: You don’t. ::Ji-hu shoved the wrist console into his lap, his face going as red as Iel’ue’s winter wine.:: Choi: ::slurring:: THAT WAS JUST A JOKE! I promise! My friends and I liked old-Earth stories about killer robots and stuff, so we put a bunch’a that kind of stuff into his personality matrix! And he’s not sentient! He’s just a virtual intelligence! NOOOOOO sentience! Traenor: I like it. In fact, I love it! I would love to have an access device on my wrist when I'm working, and if it had enough attitude to keep me on my toes, all the better. Good work with that, Ji-hu. Choi: ::slurring:: Thanks Commander… ::Ji-hu hiccups:: You know… this is the most fun I think I’ve ever had… ever! Do you think people on the Constitution are gonna like me? Traenor: Well... ::grinning:: I like ya just fine. You're a good egg. Others will like you too. Just got to give them all a chance to get to know the real you. Choi: ::slurring:: I really like Commander Foster… and Ms. D’Sena’s nice even though she acts scary… and Cap’n… Cap’n Tiger… and… uh… XO… and Mc… McLarry? But Lieutenant Sindri scared the hell out of me… you’re really nice though! ::Ji-hu probably shouldn’t have had that third Heart-of-Gold. His brain was mush, he was swimming through his thoughts upstream just to keep up with the flow. Neon lights spinning around your head was not a fun feeling… like a whirlpool. He braced himself on the table, giggling to himself.:: Choi: ::slurring:: … Sindriiiiiiiiiiii… ::Professor Iel’ue plopped himself between Ji-hu and Traenor, spurned by the Bajoran, leaning in close to the Commander, speaking low. The Aurelian didn’t slur, but he could barely keep himself upright after his fourth glass of winter wine. Ji-hu could still hear, even though he couldn’t make much sense of what the Aurelian was saying. Damn alcohol…:: Iel’ue: We think it’s a megastructure… my dearest Commander… Traenor: A megastructure? What megastructure? Iel’ue: You’ll find it in my notes… a solar megastructure around Star HK 10822, deep in the Lembatta Cluster… unauthorized, no recorded development, although when I brought it to my superior officer he accepted my report, but there was no further inquiry. A damn megastructure, and we can’t even go in to look at it closer… You understand my concern, sir… Traenor: You can't be serious, Professor. Are - are you sure? Iel’ue: And my dear Oel’ett, all the way back on Aurelia, and she won’t even take a call… aaaaaaaaah, Oel’ett! Choi: ::slurring, patting Iel'ue's feathered hand:: Professor! Don’t be sad! I looooooved your courses! You were the best professor! Iel’ue: ::pining:: Oel’ett, my dear Oel’ett! tbc/tags ***** Ensign Choi Ji-hu Engineering Officer USS Constitution-B C239402CJ0
  6. ((Starbase 118, Ensign Maxwell’s Apartment – Thirty-one hours after the Columbia’s return.)) ::His face and neck were itching like mad were Dr Ezo had removed the scarring that belonged to the now discarded persona of Logan Lang. The rest of his body was also sore and aching, but that wasn’t the worst part of how he felt. There was a deep ache in his chest, which some would call a broken heart. No, that wasn’t it. They’d split up for the final time when he was a year into the Academy. She’d breezed back into his – and Milly’s – life like she’d never been away. Maxwell had honestly thought his mother was going to throw her back out of the door. Without opening it first. They’d been back together about three months when she decided to flit off again, and that was the point Maxwell decided enough was enough. For good. Not for him, but for Milly. It wouldn’t be any good for her as she grew up to have some random woman popping in and out of her life on a whim. She hadn’t been near the house – or Maxwell – ever since anyway. He was confused about how he felt. On the one hand, he was utterly crushed. Because somebody he’d been friends with since he was nine, and later in love and had a daughter with had died. Despite their constant on-off relationship, his own feelings had never really changed. And then even when she’d dumped Milly on him and swanned off, he still felt strongly about her. On the other hand, the way she’d destroyed her own life and shown no interest in Milly except when it suited, the way she had insulted his parents amongst other things, he didn’t care that she’d taken a [...]tail of various “highs” and had succumbed to their negative effects. He loved her. He hated her. He missed her. He was glad – in a way – she was gone as it would be less painful for Milly as she grew up. He didn’t really know if he actually knew what he felt. And then that thought hit him. Milly was four. Even though Maxwell and his sister didn’t get along in the slightest – couldn’t stand each other in fact – Milly absolutely adored her. She would eventually begin to wonder why she had her Grandmamma and her Auntie Rosetta, but no Mamma of her own.:: oO How the hell do I explain something like this without breaking her heart when she’s older? Do I explain it at all….? Oo ::He hadn’t even realised he was still playing, as the door chime broke him from his swirling thoughts. He removed the bow from the strings slowly, turning his head to face the door:: Maxwell: A-Aye, who is it? ::Did his voice just crack?:: oO Get a grip man! Oo Erin: Hey Max! It’s only me! ::She sounded chirpy as ever:: Maxwell: Enter ::His voice allowing the door to hiss open:: ::And in she bounced. Even though they’d only known each other as long as they’d been on the station, they’d hit it off the moment they’d met in the lobby. She was without doubt, his best friend. But being fair, he only knew any other people on the station via working at present. At that wasn’t the same. She was still in uniform, and based on the time, had probably finished her shift and come here instead of next door. Knowing that he was back and wanting a chinwag. He replaced the cello on it’s stand, along with the bow, before standing. He walked over and gave her a big hug, before arching a questioning eyebrow at her:: Erin: Why thank you, Max. I would love a drink. ::She smirked at him:: Maxwell: Get yourself sat doon, I’ll get it. ::He went over to the little fridge in the kitchen area, ripping open the small case of Turners. He removed two of the six bottles and cracked off the lids. Closing the fridge again, he wandered back as Erin flopped onto one of the sofas. She grinned as he handed her one of the bottles. He sat in one of the chairs facing her, careful to not sit in his usual knees-apart posture. They chatted for a little while about what they’d both been up to. Eventually, she sat upright, putting the empty bottle on the coffee table:: Erin: Max, what’s the matter? I can tell something is bothering you. ::And so he told her everything. Maxwell wasn’t one for showing a lot of emotions, so the dozen or so tears he shed highlighted to Erin just how bad he was feeling. She stood, walked over and – kneeling beside him – gave him a hug. He returned it, holding on tight as he swallowed everything back. He gently broke the hug off, smiling at her and returning to his padded stool. He picked up the bow and cello, offering her a smile as he began to play one of his favourite pieces.:: Erin: So what are you going to do? About your daughter that is? Maxwell: I’ve two bedrooms. I only need one. So I’m going to speak to the ex-oh about getting Milly out here with me. ::He paused, suddenly feeling a little selfish:: If she wants to that is…. ::Erin offered a smile that said ‘Why wouldn’t she?’ but remained silent, instead sitting back with her eyes closed, listening to the music.:: Maxwell: Anyway! You’ve got plans tonight lassie! Best go get ready for your date wi’ the wee green man… ::She opened one eye, before sitting upright. She fiddled with the think plait that lay across her shoulder before standing up and smoothing down the skirt of her blue-trimmed uniform.:: Erin: ::Laughing:: He’s a Marine, Max. And his name is Carl. ::She poked her tongue out at him:: Maxwell: Marine, sure. A wee green man. ::He said with a wink, and he began to play a romantic piece of music.:: ::She huffed at him, although it was playful, and flounced theatrically to the door:: Erin: Jealousy gets you nowhere, Mr Maxwell! ::She said with a laugh as the door opened.:: Maxwell: He’d best treat you like an Empress! ::He called after her as she disappeared from view:: ::He continued to play, the tune faltering a few moments after the door had closed itself. He began to play a classical nineteenth century piece he’d learnt at the Academy, but after only a couple of bars he stopped again. He closed his eyes briefly before beginning to play a slow, melancholy piece instead.:: Maxwell: Forge on, lad. Forge on. ::Once again his beloved cello found itself back on the stand, and if an inanimate object could look fed up, this cello certainly did as it listed ever so slightly to the side. He went and washed his face, before returning to his desk:: Maxwell: Computer, record and send this message. Computer: Waiting…. Maxwell: Counsellor, I would like to request an appointment with you sometime this week if possible. I could use your…guidance. Ensign Maxwell::He tapped a button on the keypad to end the recording.:: Send to Ensign Reyes. Computer: Message delivered. ::He had the rest of the evening to kill, and he had a great idea about how to spend it. Despite not being on duty, he had still pinned his issue comm-badge to his t-shirt. He grabbed his wallet, stuffing it into the sporran on his kilt, and made for the door. He tapped his badge as the door opened:: Maxwell: =/\= Maxwell to Antraydin. Beer O’Clock big man? =/\= Antraydin? --- Ensign Arturo Maxwell. Tactical Officer. Starbase 118 Operations. O239311AM0.
  7. ((Starbase 118 – Twenty-seven hours after the Columbia’s return.)) ::Crewman Julien Paradi had been in uniform just over a year, having joined Starfleet as soon as he turned eighteen. He’d completed his training and been shipped out to Starbase 118 as a “Transport & Storage Operative”. It was a glorious sounding title for what was essentially a Starfleet order picker. He ran lift loaders and other equipment, shunted palletised freight and equipment from storage locations to transporter bays or aboard shuttles and larger cargo haulers. Some days he was in one of the transit offices, generating or reviewing manifests for anything and everything that went in or out of the storage areas. He found it pretty dull, so when he was asked near the end of his days rotation if he would take a couple of items up to an officers apartment in the next “block” from his own, he’d been halfway up the corridor before realising he’d left the items behind. Still, he was here now. Deck 830 North, Apartment 49C. He entered the common lobby, and proceeded to the apartment in question, chiming the door as he came to a halt. The tiny speaker set flush into the chime sounded. “Hello?”:: Paradi: Crewman Paradi, I have your items from the cargo bay sir. ::“Enter” came the voice, and a moment later the door hissed open. He stepped over the threshold and into an apartment that was identical in layout – but mirrored – to his own. To his left were a trio of doors that led to bedrooms and a dedicated washroom, he was stood in what was the open plan entry/lounge area, and to his right was the rest of the apartment that was the remainder of the lounge area and an open plan family/dining/kitchen layout. There were framed posters of musicians and bands adorning the walls, along with framed examples of what looked like….:: Paradi: oO Surely they can’t be vinyl records, can they? Oo ::There was a pair of two seat sofas and three comfy looking chairs in the lounge area, and there was a fair sized coffee table in the middle of them. There were a couple of old style printed music magazines on the table, sat beside a trio of empty beer bottles, and one half-full. There were several display stands and bookcases dotted about the room, with all manner of militaria and music memorabilia on show. He even spotted a storage rack with a decent collection of records in it. No record player though…. A padded stool was sat by one of the three windows – Paradi knew the ‘outer’ bedroom would have it’s own window too – beside a Cello on a stand and also a stand for sheet music. Behind the stool was what looked like a violin case as well. His gaze flicked back to the left, noting a short bookcase against the wall between the inner bedroom and washroom. Sat upon it in a glass case was a highly detailed and intricate model of an old Ambassador-class Starship, and beside the case was a framed photograph of a Science Officer and his blushing bride. His attention had been drawn that way by the hissing of the door to the outer bedroom. Out of which strode a shirtless man who looked to be about twenty-two. Paradi took in the slim but toned physique at a glance and felt a mild flush of excitement. One side of his face and neck was reddened and looked to be mildly irritated; the other side of his neck had a square dressing on it, low down. His torso was peppered with purple-green bruising and not a few nasty looking scratches and gouges. He had short hair and a short beard, and his eyes were different colours. He also didn’t have any trousers on. Instead, he was wearing a pair of heavy-duty black boots. And a kilt.:: Paradi: oO Kinda hot really… Oo Maxwell: Awright pal? Those ma things? ::He nodded at the bag strap on Paradi’s shoulder, but also meaning the case of Turners Lager couched under the other arm. Paradi nodded, relieved. He put the duffel bag and beer case down, smiled and made to leave. His eyes flicking briefly over to the stool by the window. Maxwell turned, following the gaze, his own eyes falling on the Cello:: Maxwell: Aye, she’s a beauty ain’t she? D’you play by chance? ::Paradi’s heart skipped a beat. He did indeed play the Cello! He nodded enthusiastically:: Maxwell: Aye, great. Tell ye what lad. Why don’t ye come doon at some point? We can sit oot on the veranda and play a while. By the “veranda”, Paradi took him to mean the communal area outside the apartments. He nodded again, excused himself, and left. Maxwell: oO Who’d have thought? Another Cello player! Oo ::He glanced up at his wall-mounted clock, noting the time before grabbing a t-shirt from over the back of a chair and pulling it on. There were still boxes of his collectibles and clothes dotted about, and stray piles of clothes strewn about everywhere. Brushing a pile of socks of a chair, he sat down in front of his viewer, declaring the recipient of the call. About a minute later, the screen came to life and an olive-skinned woman with dark hair and sparkling green eyes appeared before him. An enormous smile broke across her face and a hand went to her mouth. Maxwell: Hello mam ::He couldn’t help but grin, and he realised how much he was missing her. She tutted. Abrielle Maxwell: Italiano! ::she scolded, but there was a playful edge to it:: ::He shook his head, laughing.:: Maxwell: Ciao Mamma. ::She smiled. She always wanted to talk to him – to all of the kids – in Italian, a fact that mildly irritated his father. They talked this was and that for a while, at one point the screen splitting as his father had joined in. Maxwell’s mother calling out to him, and Maxwell had heard his father in the background calling back that he couldn’t understand a bloody word she was saying. The rest of the family knew full well that William could speak Italian almost as well as his wife. To any outside observers, it would have sounded like the brewing of an argument, but it was just a playful little routine his parents had gotten into during their thirty years of marriage. He’d spoken briefly with his brother Henry and got a relatively polite ‘hello’ from his sister as she had passed Amelia into her “Granmamma’s” lap. He’d never once stopped smiling as he sat there listening to her chatter away about everything and nothing that was world-spinningly important to a four year old.:: Maxwell: Okay, Milly. You go with your auntie Rosetta. Be good, night night. Daddy loves you! ::She’d waved at him, then held her arms out to be picked up. Maxwell’s mother smiled, giving her a kiss goodnight and watching as she was taken from the room. Then her expression changed to one of sadness:: William Maxwell: Awright, son. I’ll leave you be to chat wi’ your mother. I’m proud of you son. Speak soon, aye? ::And with that, the split screen went back to a full screen of his mother’s face. He knew that look. Something had happened. It was a month or so since his Grandad had passed away, so it couldn’t be that. He lapsed back into English as he spoke:: Maxwell: Sup, Ma? What’s happened? ::His beloved Mamma began to weep:: Ensign Arturo Maxwell. Tactical Officer. Starbase 118 Operations. O239311AM0.
  8. ((FLASHBACK - Vulcan, 2362)) ::She was supposed to be producing a historical analysis of the political and economic circumstances surrounding the last Vulcan intra-planetary war and the Awakening, but after the first few journal articles, T'Reshik found herself losing interest. At eleven years old she did not yet have the resistance to boredom that most adult Vulcans were disciplined enough to maintain, and besides, she could not see what possible applications this subject might have to her planned future career as a brilliant doctor and/or scientist (she hadn't quite decided which one she was going to be yet).:: ::In this light, the amount of detail she was obliged to go into seemed quite irrelevant. Before Surak, her people were violent, irrational and murderous, and eventually began to fling nuclear weapons at each other until they almost wiped themselves out; after that the philosophy of Surak spread until they all became sensible and productive enough not to play with atomic bombs any more and that was that. There's your tedious bloody essay, Professor Barok: now sod off back to your archives to look at old bits of paper and leave the scientists to get on with the interesting stuff.:: ::Knowing she would likely get in trouble for this, but not especially caring, T'Reshik dismissed the historical journals from her screen and diverted her attention back to this week's object of affection: her genetics textbook.:: ::She opened it reverently, eyes bright and hungry for the reams of knowledge within. Formulae, diagrams, long streams of symbols denoting the secrets hidden within her own flesh... she could spend all night reading this kind of thing, and in fact frequently had, much to Barok's disapproval when she started nodding off in his seminars. (It wasn't her fault that history class was the perfect place to catch up on sleep.):: ::Her small finger followed the page as she read, first in Vulcan, then in Federation Standard English, and the subtle linguistic discrepancies between the two columns did not fascinate her nearly so much as the content. She thought of her own DNA, encoded deep in her cells, its chemical signals sending out instructions like a general directing her troops from the war room, tissues proliferating and growing and shedding and dying as every day her body grew older and stronger...:: ::At first she did not realise why her eyes had paused on a specific section, re-reading it over and over before she even knew it was happening.:: T'Reshik: o O Iris coloration is determined by the below factors... Blue is largely the result of a recessive gene... Green eyes are caused by an inherited variance on the following and in Vulcans will always dominate that which causes blue and grey pigmentation if the superseding pattern for brown is not present... O o ::Will always dominate.:: ::T'Reshik closed the book.:: ::She did not need to consult a mirror. Nor did she seek, as a human child might have done, a family photograph for reference, or perhaps to try and reassure herself that she had made a mistake. The relevant faces had been burned into her mind as clearly as those damning paragraphs were now.:: ::Two blue-eyed parents and a green-eyed child.:: ::She grabbed the textbook and consulted furiously; then, after a few minutes, brought up the genetic science database and consulted that as well, scouring all the available knowledge for anything that might disprove her unsettling conclusion. There were genetic disorders that could cause this, but none that were relevant here; mutations of this kind would have caused other observable factors in her genes, none of which she manifested... :: ::Eventually her hands went slack on the inputs and she stared at the screen, her mind reaching for an explanation.:: ::She already knew a little about Pon Farr, mostly from demurely-worded biology lessons and the dubious assertions of her classmates (some of which were more reliable than others - she was fairly sure that it didn't temporarily turn you into a mountain lion, for example). She was vaguely aware that she had an uncle, Shirok, who had died of the condition, and that these sort of things were rarely spoken of.:: ::And she knew, with a cold flood of realisation, that whatever circumstances had driven her parents to conceal her true lineage - for surely a straightforward adoption would not have needed to be concealed, in a family as open and forthright as her own - they had been driven by a horrific kind of necessity.:: ::Abruptly she returned her attention to the screen and rattled out a brief and petulant set of logical arguments for Professor Barok regarding the irrelevance of historical study to the progress of modern science. Then she turned elsewhere, back to the journal database, and this time her search was fuelled with determination.:: ::As expected, there wasn't much out there about Pon Farr, or if there was it was couched too deeply in euphemism and scientific jargon for her to uncover as yet. The only thing she could find, hidden away in a second-rate offworld journal, was a case study, authored by one Professor Sutek of the local university, regarding the potential long-term uses of a particular hormone antagonist. Although the purpose of his research was not stated outright, the language in his conclusion hinted at the necessity of discussing such issues, the lives ruined and lost due to wilful ignorance where science could surely find a solution if only it were given the chance.:: ::The rest of the article was mostly beyond her understanding, but T'Reshik wasn't going to let a small thing like that deter her. She hefted her biochemistry textbook onto her desk and prepared herself for a long night of study.:: ::It was clear she had a lot of work to do.:: Ensign T'Reshik Science USS Constitution D239311T10
  9. ((Deep Space 26, Deck 6, near Xenobiology Labs)) Ferentis: Gree-sa-sa... gree-sa-sa... ::With his face still firmly embedded into the deck, Ferentis snored his gentle, reptilian snore, perfectly unaware of the events that were occurring inside and out of the station. Firefights, diplomatic struggles, mechanical wizardry, medical miracles- it all played out around him, unrecognized and ignored. His internal workings, however, had his full attention. Memories and imagination, interwoven so one could not be told from the other, plagued his thoughts. Synapses and dendrites processed barely understandable information at 110% percent, and he found himself equal parts exhilarated and exhausted. Terrified of looking over the edge but unable to resist the temptation, he continued to spiral downwards into the murky, rusted depths of his subconscious...:: ((Somewhere, somewhen, somehow...)) ::He'd never been afraid of the night.:: ::One couldn't have light without darkness, and he'd always found the solitude of poorly lit areas to be comforting. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that he enjoyed relatively excellent eyesight, even in dark conditions, or maybe it was the fact that few people would follow a dinosaur into an unlit corner, but the enveloping loveliness of the black had never caused him to feel fear.:: ::So imagine his surprise when he looked out, saw darkness, and was more afraid than anyone had ever been.:: ::The reason he knew the thing before him was large was because it blotted out the stars. Planets that orbited the monstrosity, planets that he knew had a mass far exceeding his native Dupwa'thuv, appeared as pointless pin[...]s against the all-consuming, hungry, eternal, hateful mass of hellish emptiness. In his hearts of hearts, he knew that one day, those pointless planets would drift into the maw of that beast and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.:: ::He stared for a second, he stared for an eon. And then everything sped up considerably. One by one, the planets came closer and closer to the singularity, and in turn, each was consumed without so much as a scream. Entire civilizations, whole solar systems, complete galaxies were torn asunder, and enveloped by the darkness. And though it was already the darkest thing in the pseudo-universe of Ferentis' mind, with each dead world, each stomached galaxy, the surrounding light dimmed a little further...a little further...:: ::He had to get out, had to escape! He clawed against the thick nothingness, knowing neither where he was, or how he was kept alive- knowing only that he needed to get away. He dragged his front paws against the fabric of reality, but reality wasn't as strong as it used to be. He sliced through it like a bat'leth through paper. And something latched onto his leg, and he was slowly pulled backward...:: ::No. No! Nothing had ever gotten him so desperate, and it had been a long time since anything, within his mind, or in the real world, had approached that level of terror. He bit, he screamed, he sold his soul. And just when it seemed that nothing would help, nothing would save him from his downward plunge into what could only be described as hell, those same forces let go, and he was able to escape. He...swam?...walked?.. as fast as his limbs would carry him, and only when he was certain that he had left the beast far behind did he turn and observe.:: ::And that's when the real disaster hit him.:: ::Because he'd done it. He'd gotten away from the singularity that was sucking in anything and everything.:: ::But nothing else had.:: ::The universe was so completely, perfectly silent. Empty. Pointless. And untarnished.:: ::And he realized that he'd been handed something that could never be replaced. The chance to define the laws of physics in this new reality of one. The chance to bend and shape and coerce the fabric of truth to his will, to his perception.:: ::The beast still waited, quiet, ready to strike and absorb anything that came near it. But it had already taken everything. Everything! And it could never die...:: ((Reality.)) Ferentis: Gree...sa-hmm? ::Rarely had anything looked quite so comically stupid. His elongated snout was buried into the floor. It seemed impossible, but through no fault of his own, a Pakhwa'thanh had managed to face plant.:: ::His arms, legs,,,and neck (oh, his neck!) ached with a fire that would have set a Klingon crying. How long had he been here? And why? Now that he was awake, he faculties began to return to him. Wisps of consciousness teased him, telling him that he had been thinking something dreadfully important, something that mustn't be forgotten, but nothing was forthcoming. He sat for several seconds, straining his brain, before coming up totally empty. He knew he'd see those thoughts again, sometime. Until then, he had a situation to ascertain.:: ::Wiping the considerable amount of drool from his chin disgustedly, he gathered his strength.:: Ferentis: ::Staggering to his feet.:: Hello? ::No reply. Though the station appeared fine, and nothing particularly strange drew his attention, he hardly trusted it.:: Ferentis: ::Under his breath.:: If you are unconscious, please report immediately. ::Again, nothing. Perhaps he should go hunting himself. No- bad term. When it came to his people, the word "hunting" meant something far more literal than most species were generally prepared for. He would investigate on his own. Doing his best to keep his balance, he set off, tail wagging.:: Ensign Ferentis Engineer USS El Corazon NCC 74220 =========As simmed by========= Lieutenant Randal Shayne Helmsman USS Darwin NCC 99312-A G239202RS0
  10. ((Somewhere on DS 26)) … ((Isabel had promised to not tell anyone where)) ::It had occurred to Isabel that one very rarely saw the ship one was serving on. Isabel very rarely had gotten the chance to fly on shuttles which would approach the Darwin. They would just beam in and out from surfaces or space stations.:: ::It was when she had received the transfer orders from Starfleet, she had felt the need for that visual image once again. Some extensive research, a couple of determined questionings and a few pulled strings later, she actually had found and gotten access to a window where she could see what she wanted to see.:: ::Right bellow her, there was the Darwin, docked to the space station. For the reason mentioned above, Isabel had never grown fond of its unshaped exterior, that space-wise rather inefficient ball at the front and the dark-grey-ish paint job. But still, she had had the most amazing time on that vessel, had seen things she had never dared to imagine and met people that were now more important to her than anyone she had known before.:: ::But a little more to the side, there was laying her new assignment, the USS Atlantis. It was a fitting metaphor for the future, with its sleek, streamlined shape and very light hull. Nitpicking the aesthetics as always, the Trill found some of the proportions of the ship quite odd, but it was definitely much closer to what she imagined, when she entered the Academy.:: ::Isabel would have never thought that a transfer order could cause that much shock. When the guy at the recruitment center had warned her about ever changing postings, she had looked at it as an advantage. She had been adventurous, alone, independent… Who cares for packing the suitcases every once in a while, right? A new assignment would mean new things to learn, new patients to treat, new species to discover, new people to meet…:: ::Never had she thought that her first thought would be to the future of a relationship. Correspondingly relieved she was when Randal had come to her with the same set of fears, only to discover that he had received the same orders as well.:: ::The Trill was quite sure that somebody had actually made sure that this would be the case. However, it was unclear for whom it would be actually beneficial, career-wise. Yes, as a physician, it would have been tempting to go to the hospital ship, where most of the crew were transferred to. But there, there were dozens of Doctors walking around, all of them at least as competent as herself. She actually (and it bothered her quite a bit) still did not know how the personal situation on the Atlantis would look like, but surely it would be a more intimate work climate at least. The first glimpses at the medical facilities at least were more than promising.:: ::For Randal, on the other hand, it could also really be both. To Isabel’s understanding, in a helmsman’s career, the rule was „the bigger, the better“. And the Blackwell was definitely bigger. At the same time, the mission profile of the Atlantis sounded much more interesting if you are interested in high speeds and reckless maneuvers. Isabel decided to bring that issue up on the next opportunity.:: ((USS Atlantis, Pond and Shayne’s Quarters, Later)) ::One of the many things Isabel had never thought recently was how stressful moving from a ship to another was. Of course there was only a little time window to do so, as both ships had to be ready to return to their respective missions as soon as possible. A couple of days were intended, at least to Isabel’s knowledge, but one had always to be ready for an emergency. Therefore, she had crammed everything into the standard Starfleet baggage set, even though the last time it had proven to be a mistake.:: ::But luckily, no fastener malfunction caused a surge of delicates spilling out on the hallway and there was also Security Officer standing ready to embarrass her even further. However, Isabel was even more convinced that the bags where bigger on the inside, when her things (magically, as she later insisted) could now literally been found everywhere in their shared quarters. It was only a question of time until Randal would ask her to restore her usual exterior apparent of orderliness that was vastly contradicted by the inside of every single drawer and cupboard. But for now, both of them where quite busy, so Isabel sincerely hoped that they could spend their first free time together since half an eternity for just a nice, quite dinner in their new home, without thinking about such nuisances.:: ::They had been talking for quite some time about this and that, when the Trill saw the opportunity to bring up what she had been thinking about at her observation spot on DS26.:: Pond: Do you think you got dragged along with me to the Atlantis, when you really could have made much more career progress somewhere else? ::It was kind of an out-of-the-blue question, but Isabel did not think quite much by it. By now, she was convinced that even if he would think so, it wouldn’t really matter, as the more important thing was happening right here, right now. So, she actually wasn’t worried or anything, just interested.:: Shayne: ::Laughing gently.:: Where did that come from? Isabel, if I had to forsake my career to be with you, I'd do it in a heartbeat. You come first, before Starfleet, before anything else. I love you. ::Before she could even react to that answer, the door chime rang.:: Pond: ::mildly annoyed:: Who could that be… Shayne: At a guess? Someone with the worst timing in the world. ::As it was probably best to not show her chaos to every possible visitor, she decided to actually have a look herself and not just order the door to open.:: Pond: Just keep sitting, I’ll have a look. ::She walked over to the door and used the button on the side to open it. When it actually had opened, she faced a glass tank with two glowing fish and a distorted blue face looking through it. Apparently the First Officer himself had come for a visit.:: Brell: I’ve brought you a house warming gift. Pond: ::excited, without any bit of annoyance left:: Commander! How lovely they are! And how thoughtful of you. Please, come inside and try to not look at my stuff lying around… ::… and a bit louder …:: Pond: Randal, we have a high guest! Shayne: Hello! ::Still out of range of Brell's vision.:: Brell: Hello! ::He called out to Shayne. Then looked back to pond at the door.:: How are you both doing this evening? Pond: We’re just having dinner, would you care to join? I would say there were enough for you, too, but I guess there’s always enough coming out of the replicator, am I right? ::smiling:: ::Isabel realised to late that this harmless reference to times when one would cook a pan full of a dish which later had to suffice for everyone at the table could easily be mistaken for an insult on the implied appetite of the Bolian. Fingers crossed he would not notice or interpret it correctly. Brell: ::He chuckled a bit at Ponds unending replicator joke.:: As long as the power flows so does the chow. Sure I’d enjoy joining the two of you for a bite. Shayne: I apologize for the mess, sir. We're still trying to set up. ::The human came into view.:: Please, have a seat. Always room for you here. Can I get you a drink? ________________ Lt Isabel Pond Medical Officer USS Darwin-A D239212IP0
  11. ((School. Samual's School. And Tristam should definitely not be seated at a teacher's desk.)) ::Samual sat with his head in his hands, elbows rested on the desk, caramel skin on his cheek now doing it's best impression of the colour purple, spreading up to his eye.:: ::Taywor should have been here for this. Not Tristam. And the fact that Taywor was for some reason MIA stirred an anger that the Rodulan didn't think he was capable of towards his brother. ::He had his arms crossed, eyes intently staring at the young boy next to him. That was the point of all this - he was young. He was *allowed* mistakes. But violence as a Rodulan was one thing, violence as a young Rodulan in a place of learning was another.:: Samual: It's not my fault. Core: Really? Samual: She kept going on about mum and dad. Core: I hate to break it to you, Samual, but you were at fault the second you decided to hit her. ::Samual only shut himself further from his uncle. Tristam sighed, resting his elbows on his knees to clasp his hands together.:: Core: You need to tell me everything that's happening at home. Because I am concerned. I am concerned that you have lied to me. For months. Then your parents and gradda lie to me, for *years*. No one is giving me a straight answer about anything, and the second I think that everything is starting to get back onto stable ground, I get called up because Taywor and Yanata "can't make it" and that I'm the next one on the line to sort this out. ::He rubbed at his beard.:: Where are your parents, Mual? Samual: Mum was headed back to Cardassia. Dad didn't say. Core: Great. So they're AWOL. Your gradda is with doctors. Should I even ask about Ilen? Samual: Mum got into a fight with her. Haven't heard from her since. ::He was losing the ability to care at this point, now pinching the bridge of his nose and taking a deep, calming breath as he swallowed the pill.:: Core: Of course. ::He muttered.:: ::The door slid open to reveal the student coordinator - less then pleased, evidently, not giving Samual a second glance before perching in her chair as if she were a snobby kind of bird. She even had the beak for it.:: Salamara: Daneil Core. I am Sage Salamara. I'm sorry we've had to pull you into this, but with no other close family available- Core: It's fine. Let's just . . . skip the pleasantries please. Salamara: Alright. Samual from this point forward will need to a new place of education. Our staff here, we feel his temperament doesn't suit us here at Maddel. ::Oh he didn't need this right now. This did not need to be the tip of the iceberg that would sink him. Tristam rubbed his eyes with a deep sigh, Samuals shoulder's sinking to a new level.:: Salamara: Given his previous successes in his education, we can recommend some high-caliber institutes in the area, but with this on his record- Core: Who made this decision? Salamara: The school council, Daneil Core. Core: And did the council at any point in time consider the emotional aspect of this entire situation? Samual was *provoked*, Sage. He is having problems at home, and coming to this decision in the aftermath of another kid picking on him about his situation is hardly fair. Salamara: I hate to inform you, Daneil, but this decision was made well informed of Samual's behaviour over the period of the last four months. I'm sorry that this incident may have been due to an emotional outburst, but we can't excuse that he has been deliberately skipping classes - not to mention that one of our teachers logged an incident with Samual regarding some of his work- Samual: That wasn't my fault and he *knows* it- Core: Stay out of this. ::He snapped coldly.:: ::Wisely, the boy shut his mouth, looking away as those more mature debated what to do with him.:: ::Tristam turned back to the sage.:: Core: Is there nothing? Not even a probation period? Salamara: The council's decision was final. oO And suspiciously swift. Oo Core: And the other involved? What about her? Salamara: That is a private matter. Core: So she stays put? After deliberately provoking another student, engaging him in physical confrontation? Salamara: No, Daneil. But I cannot discuss another family's private matters with you. ::Tristam leaned back in his chair, eyes closed as he gave a deep sigh.:: Core: I need guidance. Samual's parents are . . . having some problems, and his other family members are otherwise indisposed. Do I have authority here? Can I actually say 'yes, alright, I'll find somewhere else to take him'? Salamara: Samual is your community's first priority. ::she looked back at Samual, finally addressing him for the first time.:: If you needed assistance at home, you have the right to a new carer, which will require a short investigation. There are also other resources you have access to - but if you wish to re-enroll here, you'll be required to undergo an assistance program. Samual: I'm fine. ::Samual wasn't fine.:: ::Salamara looked back towards Tristam.:: Salamara: Last I checked, Daneil Core, you have the authority as a family member to assist Samual, given that your fellows have not made attempts to contact us regarding him. ::The entire thing sounded juvenile - and it was. Taywor and Yanata, neglecting their kid? In what reality could that even be possible? It was unrealistic. It defied everything Tristam knew up to this point - hell, Tasnim wasn't even related to Tristam, not by any means other than his relationship with Roshanara, but he didn't downright ignore her existence, didn't provide a miserable atmosphere in her presence, and was there on the off-chance she needed something. Taywor and Yanata had a biological requirement to care for their child. 'Being busy' might be a valid excuse for the first week, but four *months* past that and you entered some dangerous territory. ::Salamara had given him a sympathetic look, and despite her initial reaction to Samual as she walked in - the same reaction Tristam imagined any education representative would have given that the kid had literally gotten into a punch up, which was a *huge* no in any square metre of Rodul other than training gym - she seemed to have a concerned bystander's approach to this topic in particular. She clearly didn't want to insult Taywor and Yanata, but she also wanted Tristam's involvement. ::How the hell did Tristam become the mature one, yet Taywor stuck with his child-like attitude to responsibility? And where the hell was Yanata during all this?:: Salamara: I can forward you more details and information about other education institutes and assistance regarding this problem. I assume your contact information is still as it was? ::Tristam shook his head, watching as she slid over a notepad to him on the desk's touch display, entering new details.:: ((Qucaberry Park)) Core: You didn't tell me what's happening at home. ::They'd been forced to clear out Samual's locker. Despite being incredibly helpful when Tristam volunteered himself as a new parental for the kid, Salamara had stressed that they no longer wanted Mual within the area of the school. He was to leave immediately. The fact that other learners had scattered when they saw him spoke wonders about how serious the 'scuffle' had been. ::All of Mual's music gear had been stuffed into his bag, Tristam cringing when he heard what might have been the boy's instrument crack under the pressure of the books, trinkets, and electronic devices now pushed up against it. Textbooks that had been given to him over the years by the school had been returned - Tristam had never seen a librarian shove her nose so far into the air, eyes piercing downwards in a clearly judgemental look. If it hurt Tristam, Samual was definitely feeling the scrutiny. ::When they finally left the building, Maul looked back over his shoulder, recognizing a slightly older boy leaning up against the paved outer wall. Tristam watched on as his nephew almost crumbled.:: ::Now they were slowly walking home, Tristam having stopped to get a bag of pop rocks, now sharing them with Samual. He didn't need anymore attitude, didn't need Tristam saying how incredibly bad his actions had made him look. Now he just needed a shoulder to lean on.:: Samual: There's not much to tell. Core: Four months worth of bad behaviour on a kid's otherwise stellar record says to the contrary. Spill. ::Mual sighed, rubbing his forehead.:: Samual: They're just . . . always arguing. I ask them to stop, they look at me like I broke their basotile, and *I* get told to back off. Help with homework? Forget about it. Then every word mum says at me . . . It's not abusive - at least, I don't think it is. But she picks on basically everything I do. And then says that I'm better off for hearing it, strengthening me for someone harsher. ::He paused.:: It sounds worse when I say it then it actually is. Core: I don't think so. Samual: I do. I love her. She loves me. Dad loves me, too. But when they broke their basotile, they tried playing tug of war with me, and that wasn't . . . it wasn't good. Mum wanted me to go with her on her trips, dad said I should go do overseas studies so that I'm out of the house and in a "more positive environment". Core: And what does Huzana think? Samual: She's been gone since last Areil. ::As Medledore was to Tristam and Nygeyan, Huzana was Samual's individual tutor. In the event Samual needed more assistance in his studies, Huzana was the go-to. Tristam knew extraordinarily little about her, having never met her. Her job was like Medledore's for him - help the kid, always be there for the kid in his studies and the stress they involve, be the guiding rock for the kid until they're no longer a kid. ::Last Areil was almost a year ago. ::He'd been without a mentor or a guiding rock for a freaking *year*. No wonder he had some pent-up emotional issues. There had been no one around to recognize he was having problems - no one unbiased in their opinion of him.:: Core: You're telling me she's been gone a year? Samual: She moved overseas. Core: And nobody found you a replacement? Samual: We just . . . didn't have time to, I guess. ::They live on Rodul. Rodul has 29 hour days. "Didn't have time to" was a lie. Nobody could say that unless they dealt with the 24 hour time most Federation vessels stuck to - *that* was a nightmare when first getting used to it.:: Core: Because of gradda's illness? Samual: I think they just didn't get around to it. ::Tristam sighed, throwing a handful of pop rocks into his mouth, chewing as he thought of his next words, swallowing when he was ready to say them.:: Core: Okay. So the way I see if, yours being at home, at this stage in your life, is not ideal. That's not because I think your parents are evil beings from the shadows of the canvas, ::he said before Samual could interrupt:: but at some point they've not realized that what's happening between them is clearly affecting you. And I am *not* okay with that. ::Silence. He was honestly surprised Mual had had enough courage to grab a handful of pop rocks, picking one by one out of his hand.:: Core: You have two options. You stay at home, ride this out, put up with whatever is happening between your parents right now. Or, you can exercise your right to find a new carer - if only temporary until they can sort out their problems. Samual: Are you volunteering? Core:::sighing:: I'm not sure the Gate's legal teams will recognize my ability to look after you, given that I tend to be off-planet for decades at a time - not to mention currently sleeping on my best friend's couch because I've nowhere else to go. Samual: Nygeyan? Core: Does it seem like I have any other friends here? ::He grinned.:: ::Samual just shrugged, still depressed about the entire day.:: Samual: If I leave, they'll hate me. Core: They won't hate you. Samual: They will. Core: Emotionally blackmailing you to stay isn't fair. It's all the more reason to leave. I'm here now - I will defend you if required. If I have to step up as the oldest, then so be it. Samual: But you're *not* the oldest. Neither of you are. It's a two minute gap. Core: Exactly. I'm older. Not to mention apparently more mature then both of them combined. ::He sighed again.:: Samual, this is your decision. And it's a tough one to make, I know - but it's not permanent. I know that my saying you should leave is harsh, unfair and unwanted, but hearing everything today, hearing that neither of them so much as lifted a finger to support or be there for you today, proves to me that you are better off with them in the background until they can get their act together. It's not just me that will rally, it's the entire freaking *neighborhood*. Vebra is probably shaking in her slippers right about now. ::That earned a giggle from Samual, likely picturing his elderly neighbor literally shivering in her woolly brown slippers.:: Core: If you want to leave, you only have to give the word, and I'll have people on the com to make it happen. You just have to say when and who. ::The boy glanced back to his uncle, gripping the straps of his bag.:: Samual: Okay. But . . . not today. Core:::nodding:: Not today. Tbc . . . Tristam Core
  12. ((USS Blackwell, Deck One, Captain’s Ready Room)) ::The only thing more dazzling than the perfectly white teeth grinning back to Akinor was his hair. As white as the snowcaps of the stunning Eromeva mountain range, it was combed to perfection. He adjusted his collar and cuffs as he groomed himself so he would be ready to face his new crew. After all first impressions were important and you only got once chance to do it right. This would set the tone for how things would be under his command and he wanted to make a good impression upon his crew as much as he was sure they wanted to do the same with him. This would be his second command and he couldn’t have been more excited as was evident from the spirited singing on an upbeat song that matched the joy and excitement in his heart.::Zaekia: Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team, Everything is awesome, when we're living our dream... ((Meanwhile, on the bridge)) ::Morin could not believe his luck. Getting to work on a brand new top of the line medical starship for his cadet cruise and working with real patients for the first time instead of holograms was a dream come true. He was positive he was going to be posted to some far off starbase or installation where he would be doing nothing but waving a dermal regenerator over scrapes and bumps maybe mend a broken bone or two. But here he would be in out in an unsteady region working with some of Starfleet’s finest on a dedicated medical vessel where there would be experts in many fields he could learn from. They would also be a first responder to any medical emergency in the whole of the Expanse from what he read about the region on the trip to DS26 from earth it was more than possible they could be called upon to assist someone. He was excited as he stood before the ready room door of the ship's captain with a huge grin on his blue face. Without hesitation he rang the chime.:: ((Captain’s Ready Room)) ::Captain Akinor Onali Zaekia, a Kalean of only 300 years, was in his prime. His people often lived to 850 years old but the oldest had lived for over a century, reaching the impressive age of 1,003! Akinor wondered what it might be like to live that old. When he thought about ageing, he didn’t think about his body or mind slowing down or growing weak. Many generations of his family were currently in excellent health. To him, it sounded fantastic. He could scarcely imagine all the things he could see and do over such a long time span. It had been a terrible shock to him to learn that most other humanoid species lived nothing near as long as that. He had already lived three times as long as many individuals of a shorter-lived species! Akinor had done much in his life and joining Starfleet had opened up many new doors and catapulted him through them. It was an unusual career path among his kind, and indeed he had the great distinction of being the first Kalean accepted into Starfleet! This was a point of great pride for him. Not to mention, the knowledge he had gained had garnered respect on a personal level for him among his peers and for his order. Being in Starfleet made him stand out in a crowded order and provided a fulfilling career in its own right. That career was once again headed in new and exciting directions!:: ::He heard the door and wondered which of his crew had come to see him. The most likely candidate and the one he was waiting on was his First Officer. They hadn’t worked together before but Commander Rennyn came highly recommended by his direct superior Fleet Captain Renos. If he’d been looking forward to working with the Trill before now, sharing Hasperat with him had only fueled his enthusiasm. He was very much looking forward to another meeting the Trill and hoped they would have a good working relationship. With a last glance in the mirror he pushed a stray white hair off his forehead and faced the door, inviting the visitor in confidently, in a strong clear voice.:: Zaekia: Enter! ::The young Bolian entered, keeping himself standing as straight as possible. He had never met a member of the Captain’s species but knew they were one of the few beside Andorians and his own people that had cobalt based blood. He didn’t know much else about the non-federation member Kaleans but their medical data would be the first thing he looked up after he left this meeting. He had to make sure he would how to help save the man’s life without needing to reference a PADD at the surgical biobed if such an emergency circumstance ever occurred. He realised that he was going to have to do a lot of reading on species not extensively covered by Starfleet Medical Academy.:: Morin: Cadet Morin, reporting for duty sir. Zaekia: Well, well, well! This is a surprise. Blue skin. No spots. You, sir, are not my first officer but you surely do get the prize for most eager crew member. Welcome! ::The young cadet was thrown off. Every officer he had ever interacted with had been quite formal. Granted most of them were also teachers whose job it was to ingrain respect and proper protocol into their student's heads. He kept himself at full attention waiting until he was told to do otherwise.:: Morin: Th..Thank you. Sir. Zaekia: At ease cadet. Relax. I understand you're here to complete your cadet cruise and medical residency. What expectations do you have? Morin: ::Standing at ease.:: Yes, Sir, I am looking forward to working with real patients and getting to learn how to be a Starfleet doctor first hand. I feel really lucky to be here. ::It had been his dedication to his studies that had gotten him placed here but he felt everyone worked hard and there were only so many positions available throughout the fleet for advanced placement. He already knew some his classmates were jealous he had been sent to the Blackwell as they had told him as much quite directly.:: ::The Captain nodded and smiled, he would have loved for an opportunity like this to have been available when he was at Starfleet Medical all those years ago. He couldn’t imagine anything more exciting than having the opportunity to study and learn on the job. Of course, Cadet Morin would not be able to treat any patient without proper supervision, however, the chance to learn on a working Starship like this was incredibly rare and highly sought after. Not only had cadet Morin shown himself to be among the top of his class, he had expressed an interest in the species out in the Par’tha Expanse through the reports and exercises he turned in. Since the Olympic Class medical ship was launching in the region, a golden opportunity had presented itself and he had been delighted to support it.:: Zaekia: You don’t need me to tell you how lucky you are but you can thank me and help yourself by studying hard. There’s no room for complacency here and I have high expectations. I’ve a lifetime of experience in the medical field, that’s 278 years in all, so far, including 80 in which I was a lecturer at two prominent medical schools. If you need any help, advice or guidance about anything I would be delighted to help. ::Akinor might not have taught in a classroom in some time, but one of the things he had always loved was being able to share some of his knowledge to enrich the lives of others. In doing so he elevated others, he elevated his order and himself.:: ::Captain Zaekia was more relaxed with certain protocols and had a more open and friendly demeanour than some commanding officers he had worked with but he stopped short of putting his feet on his desk. The was a healthy amount of perfectionism in him and the reputation he had as someone with high standards was well earned. The bar he’d set for himself was notoriously high and he expected the best from his crew too. He didn’t mind fun and wanted a happy crew but there was a fine line between managing a culture where people could enjoy their work and were more productive as a result, and having things become lazy, slack or carefree. With 5 years of experience commanding the Intrepid Class USS Edinton, he felt he managed to get the balance right. Now a new crew was going to have to adjust to his style and hopefully, there wouldn’t be too many teething issues. He glanced fondly towards there the model of the Intrepid ship sat next to the newest model he had acquired, for this very ship. Then he returned his attention to the Bolian before him, who seemed to be understandably nervous. Meeting superiors for the first time was often nerve-wracking and though he had tried to break the ice with his friendly demeanour, it seemed Morin was unsure about just how much he could relax in this setting.:: Zaekia: You know we’re not so different you and I. I’m not referring to the wonderful complexion we have or the cobalt blood that courses through our veins either, though those are acceptable examples. I come from a medical background myself, you know. My first assignment was to the Starfleet Academy Dreshna Campus on Andoria. Can you imagine? After all those years at Starfleet Academy and Starfleet Medical, only to be assigned to such an installation to care for the new crop of cadets? It rarely got above freezing, even in the summer… in many ways, it was just like being at home! ::Cheerfully:: ::He chuckled fondly at the memories he had of those times. There would be plenty time to swap stories later, for now, he wanted to get to know something of this cadet who was joining them:: Zaekia: Why don’t you tell me about yourself? Morin: Well sir I am from Bolarus, where my family operates an undersea farming business out of our homestead. I enjoy vectorboarding … also springball. ::He stumbled over his words wondering where his confidence went. He hated bringing up the fact he had been orphaned at age eight, as he had so much family he never felt it: and people always reacted to that piece of information of his past with pity.:: Morin: I have an uncle in Starfleet as well whom I’m close to. Zaekia: ::With genuine glee:: Delightful! I like a good holoadventure myself! No family in Starfleet for me. You won’t find another Kalean in Starfleet at all as it stands actually. I’m a unique case. ::Chuckling again:: Was your Uncle your inspiration for joining, or was it something else? ::He was unsure how to act. He was expecting someone firm and rigid like nearly all of his instructors had been at the academy. This Captain Zaekia was open, humorous, and seemingly had genuine interest in learning more about him. He felt a bit intimidated by someone who has practising medicine for hundreds of years and still looked young.:: Morin: He was kinda. I lived with him at an embassy and on a starbase for awhile. I think it was seeing all the aliens working together and all of the heroic acts Starfleet officers did that really made me want to go to the academy. Zaekia: ::In a tone that suggested he had just discovered something extraordinary:: Oooooh! So you want to be a hero! Morin: Well … yes … but not in a run into danger without thinking way. I don’t care if the whole federation knows what I do or if it is just one person oO Or their family. Oo who I helped save who thinks me heroic. ::To the young Bolian, all doctors and medical staff were heroes for caring about others more than themselves. He also, ever since taking basic psychology classes at the academy had begun to wonder if he wanted to save people simply because no one was there to save his parents. He liked to think he would have found biology interesting and still been led to medicine from that interest. He also hoped some of that made sense to the Captain other than ramblings of one who must be to him an incredibly young person.:: Zaekia: I understand. You want to make a difference. Be a force for good! A common goal in those who choose this path. I hope you find your career as rewarding as mine has been to me. Morin: ::Smirking.:: It just might not be quite as long of one. ::He nearly gasped. He had been put into a relaxed mood by the commanding officer’s joviality and had just possibly put his foot in his mouth because of it. What would he do if age is a sensitive topic to Zaekia’s people? Or they may not like to talk about how much longer they live than most other humanoids. They could pity them for living so comparatively short lives, he hoped that was not the case. At least so far he did not get any condescending vibes from the captain’s words.::::Zaekia’s grin matched that of his new blue friend. If this was a joke he could give as good as he got and wondered what the cadet would make of his retort.:: Zaekia: Perhaps but from my point of view it can be difficult having to work with children all of the time. I’ll try to cope. ::Of course, he didn’t regard any of them as children, as his sarcastic tone ought to reveal. He didn’t know how old Morin was but if his best guess was anything like accurate, anyone this age on his world would be barely halfway through their apprentice degree. There would be another 22 years ahead before their education was finished! If members of these short-lived species were to spend as much time in education as the Kaleans did, half their lives would be used up before they truly entered their orders as fully qualified adults! That was to him at least an incredible thought. It was helpful to him to avoid thinking about the age differences, otherwise, it was tempting to see them as children with little experience of the world.:: ::The Cadet let out a short laugh. He felt relieved that the response to his comment was one of humour. He liked this idea of a Captain that would crack jokes, though he was sure it would not be the same with every officer on this ship who was going to be his superior. Which was basically all them as he was a Cadet.:: Morin: I think we know how to change our own diapers so we should not be too much of a worry. Might need burping in the form of a pat on the back from time to time, however. ::He cut himself off here before becoming too relaxed with what he said around the higher ups.:: Zaekia: If you seek my praise you’ll have to be truly astounding. ::As much as it was delivered in a friendly manner, he was careful not to be overly playful about this. He had a reputation for having some of the highest standards in the fleet, nevermind Andaris Task Force. He believed there was a time for having fun and a time for working hard. If hard work was worth rewarding, the end results were more so. What good was it to try endlessly hard but achieve nothing? Those who achieved great things would receive great rewards, while those who achieved nothing could expect nothing in return. He had enjoyed meeting this cadet a great deal and liked that he had a sense of humour and was brave enough to loosen up a little around him. There was potential there. His First Officer would be chiming the door any time and he was sure Morin had other things he wanted to be doing as well - like settling himself in and meeting his new colleagues.:: Zaekia: Well it is a pleasure to meet you Mister Morin and I’m sure I’ve taken up quite a bit of your time already. Is there anything you’d like to ask me before I let you go?Morin: Only who I will I be coordinating with in regards to my distance academy class requirements? My orders did not say specifically and I’d like to meet them as soon as I can as well. Zaekia: That would be my First Officer, Rendal Rennyn. I thought that might have been him at the door funnily enough - or perhaps our new CMO Graeme Cook. ::With a cheeky grin:: Morin: I see, Well I will wait in line to meet him then and go check out my quarters. ::He stood and saluted.:: It was a pleasure to report in and meet you, sir. Zaekia: Yes it was! ::Cheerfully:: Captain Akinor Onali Zaekia - Commanding Officer, USS Blackwell NCC-58999 * Executive Council & Captain's Council Member * Academy Commandant A238805EB0 & Cadet Morin, Medical Trainee, Uss Blackwell, NCC-58999 Simmed by, LtCmdr Brell, First Officer, USS Atlantis, NCC-74682 PotW Co-Facilitator - Publicity Team - Training Team E239109B10
  13. [Ed. note: The nomination below is stitched from several sims to present the completed scene.] ((Bridge, USS Veritas)) Delano: Given how large a problem piracy has become in recent years, it’s not uncommon for freighters to employ smuggler's techniques to protect valuable cargo. I wouldn't assume anything nefarious. ::It was a good point, and one that Roshanara surmised Delano had come to trust from his time here in the region thus far.:: ::Still, their chief engineer had her doubts.:: Walker: With all due respect? I'd not assume the reverse either. And I'd say odds are better than even at least one of them was working with the pirates. Sepek: ::controlling his excitement:: Captain, it seems the warp trail heads to an area where the tetryon fields are more dense and active, but then cuts off. I'm assuming that this area is the Shadows? Blake: Every pirate gang from one end of the Shoals to another knows that we are *all* blind in there. ::Mei'konda scratched his chin, deep in thought.:: Mei’konda: We’re probaably better equipped than most shiips to operaate in the Shadows. Most shiips don’t haave Starfleet sensors and the combinaation of durability and maneuverability that the Veritas class has. Still... Delano: Unless we know exactly what we’re looking for, I’d advise against entering the Shadows. Blake: By the time we reach the Shadows, tracking them will be ten times harder. But last time we tried going after them, we had a good idea where one of their haunts. Walker: If we have the locations where they were, it’s possible we could use the warp trails to verify where they were going. A lot better than going in with blinders on… ::She chuckled softly to soften the statement.:: Blake: Reports suggest Veritas got called away before the crew could investigate further. I wouldn't personally know - I was on my personal leave. ::There was a lull in the conversation, and Evan sensed a measure of frustration from the gathered officers. First Lenik. Now, likely, the Kos’karii. And they still weren’t any closer to bringing justice to Captain Carerro’s killers.:: ::Mei'konda turned towards Roshanara.:: Mei’konda: I thiink we should interrogaate the Klingon, as soon as she waakes up. If she would taalk, she might have all the informaation we need. Up to date guidance chaarts, information on their fleet’s strength… it’s just a matter of getting it from her. ::Roshanara nodded. Warp trails as Sepek noted only went so far. The best place to look for where to go next wasn't out in space but down in sickbay.:: Rahman: Agreed. Mei’konda: We could offer her plenty in return. Supplies, mediciine, a small pre-fabriicated house of her own on one of the colony worlds, or baack in Federation space… I mean, if she’d want any of that. ::Delano chuckled softly. When someone looked at him, Evan just shrugged.:: Delano: You think she’d owe us one for saving her from certain death. Blake: Maybe not a house on the colony worlds. Something tells me the Coalition would gladly set us on fire for that. ::Roshanara leaned against the worktable with both arms, looking first to Walker and Sepek.:: Rahman: Continue to prepare the ship and the Falcon for the warp tow. Ensign Sepek, you'll be working with Commander Walker. Walker: We’ll get the Falcon ready to soar again Captain. ::chuckling:: Or at least be dragged with her wings open. Sepek: Understood captain. ::The captain then glanced over to Evan, Blake, and Mei’konda.:: Rahman: I want you- ::She stopped when her gaze met Delano’s.:: ::In that moment of hesitation, Evan knew exactly what she was thinking. He averted his eyes.:: ::Given how the man's previous interrogation of a prisoner had turned out, she decided to keep him away from a similar situation.:: Rahman: ...Commanders Blake and Mei'konda to head to sickbay and see if you can get our "guest" to talk. Blake: We're bribing her? Mei'konda: If it works, I suppose. Yes, Captain. Rahman: Feel free to offer incentives for her, but... ::She thought of the suggestions Mei'konda had made earlier about what they could offer the Klingon.::: Rahman: ...don't be afraid to use the stick with the carrot. ::A shorter prison sentence was also an incentive after all.:: Blake: We'll see. ::The Caitian shook his head.:: Mei'konda: We won’t be. Of courrse. Good cop, bad cop, riight? ::Good. They all had their tasks.:: ::Well, except...:: Rahman: Let's get some answers. Dismissed. ::As the other officers split off to their duties, Roshanara and Delano remained at the table.:: ::She looked to him.:: Delano: Shall I return to my quarters? Rahman: You should feel free to continue offering your insight, agent... on the bridge. Delano: But not in sickbay. Or the brig. ::The accusation in his voice wasn’t really fair, but the bitterness Evan felt was getting the better of him. That look she’d given him had been a visceral representation of all the frustration he’d felt about Starfleet since he’d left the Invicta.:: ::What he’d done had ultimately saved the president’s life. But even that consolation wasn’t enough to make him feel good about what had happened. And, perhaps worst of all, a part of him would still be tempted to do it again, if the circumstances were the same. He’d grown so much in the last year, but a part of him feared he was still unworthy of the uniform he’d put aside. Perhaps that’s why it had felt so uncomfortable. And why he’d chosen the civilian clothing now.:: ::She took a breath.:: Rahman: ...let's go to my ready room. :: Evan nodded, pausing just long enough to save his work and log off his partition. :: Delano: After you, Captain. ::She led the way as they walked off the bridge into the small office.:: ((Captain’s Ready Room)) :: She didn’t waste time once the doors were shut behind them. She turned, and faced him with that stern captain’s expression he’d seen a few times since he’d come aboard. :: Rahman: You had further questions, agent? ::The man in front of her took a long breath before he spoke.:: :: Evan bit back a sarcastic response and instead focused on the imagery exercises the Reya-Laialara often employed to control strong outbursts of emotion. He saw himself on a mountain. He could feel the wind and the cold, and see the clouds below, but he did not need to do more than acknowledge they were there. :: :: He took a deep breath, then spoke in a measured tone. :: Delano: I understand why you don’t want me interrogating a prisoner. If not for the Ross incident, then there would still be the simple fact that I'm not here in an official Starfleet capacity. ::She crossed her arms. He was right, although the matter was not quite as simple, actually. His capacity as a part of Federation Security might have privileged him to participate in the interrogation. The simple fact was the "Ross incident.":: ::She didn't say anything just yet, and so he continued.:: Delano: What concerns me is that you weren't willing to let me down there, even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room. ::She looked up at him. "Even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room," Delano stood at an impressive 191 cm, with the physicality to match his height. Standing here now in her ready room, he towered over her, with the top of her head barely reaching his shoulders.:: Rahman: You find that unreasonable? Delano: No. And I don’t blame you for being cautious. :: A part of him did blame her, and he suspected she would be able to recognize that small lie for what it was. Still, he was trying not to, and he hoped that counted for something. :: Delano: I just… I'm not sure I can be aboard this ship if every time something like this comes up, you look at me like I've just kicked your favorite puppy. Rahman: Nonsense. ::She kept her gaze on him.:: Rahman: You didn't kick a puppy. You assaulted a prisoner during an interrogation. I don't see any reason to place you in a position where that situation may occur again--and neither did Captain Kells, if you recall. ::She hadn't meant that last point as a jab, just a reminder that her hesitation to let him near a prisoner wasn't unprecedented.:: ::But it still felt a bit harsh. She took a deep breath herself.:: Rahman: I respect that you feel differently. And as we discussed after your court martial, I am willing to move forward since what happened with Ross. But it would be negligent of me to not take some precautions in light of what happened. ::She could see--and sense--the earnest frustration he was feeling.:: Delano: I am what I am. But, I've come a long way, if that matters. ::beat:: At the settlement, I felt like I was in a place where I could be myself without the pressure of always living up to this impossible Starfleet standard. ::The frustration he’d been feeling was bleeding into his voice, but he took a few measured breaths and let it slide down the mountain, acknowledged but not in control.:: Delano: I’m sorry, Captain. I'm not angry at you. I honestly thought I was passed this whole Ross thing. But whenever it comes up there's just this raw, gordian knot of emotion I can't seem to untangle. Not when I'm face to face with it, anyway. ::beat:: Maybe keeping me out of that interrogation was the right call. Rahman: You took an oath to uphold that standard. One that your colleagues did as well. And up until what happened back at Astrofori One, you *did* live up to that standard. Why is it impossible now? ::She frowned, genuinely interested in wanting to know more about what was behind that sliver of vulnerability he was showing her now.:: :: Evan looked back at her, blue eyes betraying his own uncertainty. :: Delano: I don’t know. ::He finally admitted.:: But Ross wasn’t the first time I’ve lost control. In some ways, I can’t help but think this was inevitable. Rahman: Did those at the settlement help you come to terms with what happened? Delano: In some ways. I never denied responsibility for what happened - that’s why I pleaded guilty. But, the Reya-Laialara helped me find a way to have control without resorting to a traditional Vulcan philosophy of stoicism and unfaltering logic. Rahman: You already know this, but perhaps it would help to talk with a counselor. Delano: Perhaps. :: He agreed. :: I’ve worked with counselors in the past. ::He left it at that, though the idea of sitting down with Raissa made him uncomfortable for some reason. He’d do it. But it wasn’t something he was looking forward to.:: ::She nodded.:: Rahman: I know. There is no magical fix. And even the ones we love can feel helpless when they're not sure what they can do to make things better. Delano: Sometimes there’s nothing they can do. For whatever it’s worth, I still appreciate the thought and effort. ::She leaned back against the edge of her desk, looking down for a moment towards Delano's shoes.:: Rahman: Maybe keeping you out of that interrogation was the right call, but maybe it was also unfair to you. You took responsibility for your actions, and you accepted the consequences. Delano: I tried. ::She raised her head back up to look at him, her arms still crossed in front of her.:: Rahman: I was telling your fiance when he first stepped aboard this vessel and walked through that door, asking to join the mission to find you... I told him about how even after you and I had agreed to try to work on moving forward together, I was disheartened to see first you and then him leave. I felt sorry again for having ever known Harrison Ross and for having asked you to conduct that interrogation. ::She had asked Delano to interrogate Ross because she'd been wary of her own ability to do so without being compromised. It was one of the few decisions in her career--like when she'd first invited Tristam to join her research--that had haunted her long after.:: Delano: It’s… a complicated situation. And I’m sorry for putting you through that. At the time, it seemed like leaving Invicta - and taking this assignment with Federation Security - was the best thing I could do to help you and the crew get past it. Rahman: Yet despite what we told ourselves in that last conversation, we obviously have not moved on. ::Taking a breath, the captain straightened, then took a step towards him. Evan felt the urge to stand up straighter and tuck his hands behind his back. He resisted the latter.:: Rahman: Only you can answer this question: how do you feel? How much have you changed? If you were back in that interrogation room with Ross as the man you are now, would things have happened differently?
 ::And of course, could she trust him? But that question remained unsaid.:: Delano: Honestly, Captain, I don’t know. I want to believe that it would be different. But… ::He paused, looking her in the eye. Finally, he resolved to be as open as he could about this. :: Delano: We needed the information Ross had. Lives were at stake. The integrity of the Federation itself was at risk. ::beat:: I let my anger and frustration take charge back in that cell. I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. That said - all emotion aside - there’s a part of me that can’t help but think that the end justified the means. ::She shook her head slightly. But he already knew what she was going to say. She’d said it at his court martial.:: Rahman: You know very well my thoughts on that line of thinking. ::Though he remained motionless, she could sense the emotional maelstrom that lay behind that cool Vulcanoid exterior.:: ::He took a carefully measured breath, allowing him a precious moment to collect his thoughts and to allow the emotion behind his voice to settle from boil to simmer.:: Delano: And, maybe that’s why I don’t belong in that uniform anymore. I’m not sure that I ever did. Rahman: That’s not what your academy instructors thought. It’s not what Captain Kells or I thought. ::She raised her eyebrow at him.:: Rahman: And it’s not what your fiancé thinks. Delano: I don’t think Mei’konda understands. He wants me to ask for you to reinstate me and give me a permanent posting here on Veritas. ::She looked back at him earnestly.:: Rahman: What do you want? Delano: I think… maybe I just need some time. We still haven’t figured out exactly how the Reya-Laialara are connected to Lenik, the Kos’karii, and Captain Carrero’s death. Until that’s resolved, I’ll help out however I can. Whether that means putting me at a station on the bridge, or keeping me below decks until you need me for something is your call. ::The captain seemed to consider that, though her body language made Evan think she was still somewhat uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had gone.:: ::She nodded, her arms still crossed in front of her.:: Rahman: I appreciate that. You and Commander Blake are the two most experienced individuals among my senior staff when it comes to this region. From what I gather, this isn’t just a short-term assignment, so I would value your expertise beyond just the current mission. Delano: What would that mean exactly? Rahman: We’ll work out the specifics later, but for now, you may consider yourself a bridge officer. Delano: I’m up-to-date on most of the Veritas specs. With the exception of what’s classified. ::The captain’s hands went to her hips.:: Rahman: I trust a refresher course in starship operations isn’t necessary? ::Evan suppressed a small chuckle, if only because he wasn’t 100% sure it was a joke.:: Delano: No, Captain. I think I’ll be fine. ::There was a momentary calm between them and Evan found himself straightening his posture.:: Rahman: Just focus on your job, and I think a path will reveal itself. Whether that’s back to Starfleet or to something else… well, only God or whomever you wish to attribute your fate knows. Delano: I’ll… try not to disappoint you. ::She looked at him for a moment, standing before her in his civilian clothing. And then, she took another step closer to him still, plucking the combadge from her chest and placing it over his left breast. After she finished adjusting it, she took a step back and looked back up at him.:: Rahman: Consider that a bit of a nudge towards one direction. :: Evan placed a hand on the warm metal, his fingertips finding the familiar points. :: Delano: Thank you, Captain. ::And finally, for the first time in a long while, she smiled at Delano.:: Rahman: Dismissed, agent. === Agent @Evan Delano Special Advisor, USS Veritas Writer ID: T239007ED0 & Capt. @Roshanara Rahman Commanding Officer, USS Veritas Writer ID: I238705TZ0
  14. ((Traenor's Personal Quarters - USS Constitution)) ::Another sound from beyond the door. Muffled footprints, muffled noises. This was a new room, in a new place, and Barque needed to be alert. Turning his head to the side, he listened closely until the sound disappeared from his senses, then he relaxed from his primary role as defender of his human's domain and focused on his secondary role. Chew the toys.:: ::His human had left again, and again promised that when he returned they would go to the Real-Room. Of course, his human liked to bark in funny yips, and it came out as Arboretum. Barque thought his human would have an easier time calling it Real-Room, since that's what it really was. Real-Room had real grass to roll in, real dirt to dig in, real trees and bushes to mark. His human preferred the Not-Real-Room, and all the Not-Real things behind those heavy doors. The only benefit to the Not-Real-Room was the Not-Real birds and Not-Real squirrels and the Not-Real rabbits, which were really really fun to chase even if they were Not-Real. His human had a funny yip for the Not-Real-Room too, a weird howl that sounded like Holodeck.:: ::Barque vaguely remembered when he was but a pup, there was something like the Not-Real-Room but had all the Real things like the Real-Room did. Real grass to chew, Real water to splash in, Real mice to sniff out. Ever since he had joined his human, he had lived in these metal rooms that were all the same but were not. The humans and not-humans, of which many liked to pet him and skritch his ears, were different in these metal rooms. His human called it Transfer To A New Ship. They had done this a couple times now, and Barque kept hoping they would Transfer To A New Ship with endless Real-Rooms like when he was a pup, but they hadn't yet. It didn't matter, his human needed him to defend his domain and that made Barque very happy.:: ::Barque jumped back up on the couch and looked out the window. He liked looking out the window, even thought it was night. Again. Every Transfer To A New Ship they lived in always was night, but that didn't matter. He liked watching the tiny sunbeams streak by. Although it would be nice to see a bird or a squirrel or a rabbit once in a while.:: ::Properly sated by the view, Barque hopped down from the couch and wandered over to the food bowl. He had gobbled down his breakfast as soon as his human had left, but it never hurt to check and make sure he didn't miss any. He hadn't. So he took a big draught of water from the adjacent bowl and moved off to the bedroom.:: ::His human liked to keep things untidy in here, and Barque appreciated it. He was certain his human did so just so Barque could amuse himself, snuffling through piles of clothes and rolling on his human's bed. Rolling on the sheets was almost as nice as rolling on grass. He longingly spied the chew toys that his human wore on his paws, which were called Boots. He was not allowed to chew on those chew toys, would be in big trouble if he did, which was a shame because Boots were so tasty. Instead, he found his bone and alternated between viciously chewing it and napping in the master's bed.:: ::Now, Barque found himself sitting before the door, waiting patiently and tail thumping against the floor. His instincts knew when his human would come home; he didn't understand how he knew, but he just did. He heard the sounds and sniffed the smells of other humans and not-humans passing beyond the door, but other than being alert against intruders, he was calm. He knew they were not his human, so he didn't jump up or yip or whine at their passing presence. He would save that adoration for his human. Or anyone else who would pat him or skritch his ears. Or give him a Cookie. Cookie was one of his favorite words, second only to Ball. Perhaps his human would bring him Cookies today. With this thought, the steady staccato of a thumping tail filled the Traenor residence again as its brave protector waited for his human to come home.:: Barque the Beagle Erstwhile Protector and Shredder of Shoes ~as simmed by~ LtCmdr Maxwell Traenor Scientific Specialist, USS Constitution
  15. ((Til’ahn – Kainga Ranch)) :: This was it. This was her BIG DAY! This was the day that Chief Engine Lady was going to take her on a tour of the Thunder’s engine room! :: T’Sara: Weeheeheeee!! :: The little blonde girl came running out of her room and smacked right into Ceedel’s big haunch. :: Ceedel: Hey. Cut it out. If you break yourself I’ll get in trouble. :: He held out one of his three large fingers. The tiny girl took hold as she climbed back to her feet and picked up her backpack. :: T’Sara: I gets ta see the slippery steam drive, ‘n I gets ta help fix fings, ‘n I gets ta play wiff all dah buttons and lights! :: The large Shrakkian hunkered down to the child’s level as if this were suddenly a competition. :: Ceedel: Oh yeah? Well, I get to sit in a bar, and get drunk, and hopefully have a lovely lady play with - T’Lea: Idiot! Shut up. :: She jabbed him hard in the ribcage as she walked by. Her daughter didn’t need to hear about his disgusting habits… and neither did *she*. :: :: Kneeling down to T’Sara’s level she doted over her daughter, smirking at the girl’s choice of clothes for the big event. A pair of pink pants and a replica uniform t-shirt, in gold, of course. :: T’Lea: Ready nugglet? What’s in the bag? :: With an excited nod, T’Sara whipped around the backpack and opened it up to reveal all the important tools she thought she would need for engineering. Mostly they were toy replicas of the real gear, spanner, tricorder, etc., but there was also a wrench, pliers, glue, tape, Ensign Fluffypants, candy and a few other things that she simply could not live without. :: T’Lea: Oh, wow. You’re prepared for anything. :: She managed to say that without laughing, which was a huge feat.:: Ceedel: Oooo… Is that candy? :: T’Sara snapped the bag shut and hugged it close. :: T’Sara: Mines! You eated yours already. Ceedel: No, I- T’Lea: Okay, let’s go before this turns into a complex war of words. :: T’Sara stuck out her tongue at the Shrakkian.:: T’Sara: Dids so. Ceedel: Did not! :: Stepping onto the transporter pad in the living room, T’Lea put T’Sara in place and ordered up the transport. Just as the lights activated, T’Sara smiled at Ceedel.:: T’Sara: Dids so! :: Before the giant could reply she was gone and he was left standing there looking like a big looser, defeated by a tiny girl.:: ((USS Thunder, Main Engineering)) :: In a way Aria was looking forward to giving the tour. Her official position was she didn't like children, but she had discussed them with Alea enough to know she was malleable. She had also met T'Sara and seen enough of herself in the young girl. She had taken things apart as a girl, put them back together, sometimes working, sometimes not. She had even disappeared for days looking for parts in junk heaps. :: oO Hopefully T'Sara isn't doing that. Well not yet, if so I'll have to give her some tips. Oo :: She was taking a deep drink of her coffee, the third for the day, when the Commander and her daughter came through the doors, smiling. :: :: The bay doors parted to reveal a much better looking room than the last time T’Lea had seen it. T’Sara stood in awe for a moment, and then started bouncing anxiously on her toes when she saw the Chief Engine Lady.:: T’Lea: Lieutenant Oddas. Thanks again for having us. ::looking around:: You’ve been busy. :: Well, just a good task master. Aria was about to respond when the little girl, blonde hair, spots, and ears, jumped forward in a rough approximation of an Engineering uniform. She stood in a very stiff salute that Aria hadn't seen since the academy. :: T’Sara: Capn’ T’Sara Maren weporting for dooties, sir. :: It was times like these when T’Lea literally had to bite her tongue and draw blood to stop herself from bursting out laughing.:: :: Aria smiled, or smirked, and hoped T'Sara wouldn't tell the difference. :: Oddas: Welcome aboard Captain. I see you brought some supplies for your inspection? T’Sara: I bringded everything I could thinks to help fix fings. See! :: The little girl opened up a bag and spilled its contents right on the engineering deck, it appeared to be some toys, but a few actual pieces of real tools. There were also several bits of kid ... flotsam: toys, candy, and odds and ends. :: T’Sara: I has tricorders, spanners, sonic divers, flux cuppler, micro-resnator, and glue. I thoughted you might need my help after you broked the Thunder. Don’t worry I can fix stuff. Mommy n’ me is makin’ a grabbity bike all new again. Right? :: The little girl seemed absolutely ecstatic with herself as she looked to her mother for confirmation. :: T’Lea: Yes, ma’am. The Captain here is a very skilled engineer. Tiny hands in tight places. Very handy with small parts. T’Sara: See? Oddas: I see. I've never had a gravity bike. You'll have to show me sometime. T’Sara: Canni see dah main engines console? An dah matters chambers? And den dah slippery steam drive? Oddas: Of course, we'll see all of that. First, lets gather up your supplies and we'll see the engineering console. :: After T'Sara gathered up the supplies Oddas took the bag and slung it over her own shoulder and led them to the Engineering console. Realizing it was about the same height as the girl’s height she got the girl the stool used for shorter crew members began bringing up various displays. She had the display in simulation mode, displaying routing training data from a previous trip the Thunder had made. T'Sara could execute a self destruct and the ship would go through the motions without actually doing anything. She tapped a few controls and brought up power supplies. :: Oddas: And this is the how power is being distributed across the various decks right now. T'Sara: I knew’d it. :: she looked at T’Lea :: Capn’s like Mommy are dah boss, but it dah Engineers who weally command dah ships. ::at Oddas:: What ifen we was being attacked n’ we needed to make dah phasies shoot more? Oddas: Well, we would push this :: click :: and reroute power from that deck to the weapons. T'Sara: N’dis makes it go to shields? :: She tapped the other button and viola, another deck rerouted to shields. So excited that she got it right she nearly fell off her stool.:: Oddas: That's exactly right. :: Aria was impressed, the little girl had figured it out. Granted, it was labelled fairly well, but stilll for a child her age it was an impressive feat. :: T’Sara: How’d you do the dah upside-downy piggyback slippery steams ride? Mamma T told me ‘bout it. It sounds cool! :: Aria had assumed the non-engineers in Starfleet would have just shrugged off the latest crazy bit of Engineering as something they could do on a daily basis, and the engineers would talk about it as something they had to do to get home. One more problem to solve. Obviously T'Lea had been discussing it at home, its not as if it was classified though. :: Oddas: Well, :: drinking her coffee :: we had to get home, and the ship was too damaged to do it on its own. We had to do something :: she realized saying 'or people may not have gotten home' might not have been the best thing to say to a little girl in front of her mother :: or we would have had to abandoned ship and send others back for it. As an Engineer sometimes you have to put things together in ways that haven't been tried before. oO That's it Aria, give her an explanation that doesn't make too much sense. Oo :: She was still mentally berating herself when T'Sara was off to the next question, oblivious to the concern running through Aria's mind. :: T’Sara: Whad’about stabilities and compensayshuns wiff dah tracky beams? An’are bof ships weally in the slipper steams or is one just gitten dragged along? Whad’about the rippley wake stuffs like on dah waters when deres a big boat and wittle boat behind it gets all bonked around on dah water. Din’t dat happen too? :: T’Lea made an apologetic face and thumbed that she would be over at the replicator getting herself a hot beverage. Aria nodded in return. :: Oddas: We pulled the two ships in nice and tight to each other :: she made two open palms and brought them close almost touching ::, the bigger ship :: she shook one :: created the stream and pulled the ships along. The ships acted like one boat in the water. T’Sara: But wad’about the slippery steams drive? How’d it knows to be bigger dan one ship? Oddas: oO That is one smart wild flower Oo the smaller ship :: shaking the other hand :: emitted a beam, pressing the stream outward, which forced it to go around the smaller ship. T’Sara: I wanna see! :: Aria pulled up a file of notes and diagrams and hastily put together simulations of the maneuver and brought up a dragram of the Thunder's deflector emissions wrapping the Discovery's slipstream around the smaller ship. :: Oddas: So this is the slip stream and this is the deflector moving it around the other ship. :: she watched as the small girl's eyes watched her explain the various point of how the stream moved around the ship. :: T'Sara: Oh, dah defwector makes dah qauntums open, like a door. ::she made a cute frown:: But what makes dah ship go? Oddas: Come on, I'll show you. :: she pulled a panel open from underneath the QSSD's interface and began pointing out the various components. She crawled on her back with the girl by her side. :: T'Sara: Ooo… pwetty. What dat? An’dat? Oddas: :: in response to the girl :: well, those emit the graviton stream. The central control matrix interface is :: pointing :: here. :: Over the next little while T’Lea kept out of the way and let Oddas occupy T’Sara’s inquisitive little brain… or was it the other way around. The amount of questions the girl was throwing at Oddas had, no doubt, put the engineer to the test with basic applications of warp and QSSD theory. In fact, some of the stuff T’Sara knew about almost seemed impossible, but maybe she was just *that* smart.:: :: T’Lea sipped her tea and sat at the main engineering console kind of watching the two of them explore the QSSD’s actually working components. She had an eye and an ear on them, but she was mostly researching a few possible leads to Iconian artifacts.:: T’Sara: I knows dat the slippery steams works in dah quantums barriers, and dat why warps don’t work wiff dis driver. :: The little girl was on her back looking at the innards of a console, mesmerized by the little blinking lights, wires and biogel packs.:: T’Sara: So what about dah transwarps, lik dah Borgies use? Where do dat come in? Befores or after quantumifications? Oddas: Transwarps are more like transporter beams mixed in with warp drive. Where did you learn about that? :: Now that was fascinating to the little girl, because she used transporters every day. She gave a nonchalant little shrug to Oddas’s question.:: T’Sara: My friend Mo knows stuff. He teaches me sometimes. Sometimes I learns on my own. But dah hard stuff he shows me. Mostly. :: T’Lea’s eyes lifted with concern. The mere mention of Mo, T’Sara’s secret imaginary friend, filled the Romu-vulc with a cold chill of worry. Was he back? Was T’Sara so scarred by separation anxiety that she needed fake friends in order to have some stability in her life?:: :: The other thing that bothered T’Lea was that the little girl had not told either parent about the imaginary friend. They had both learned about it second hand from another officer. And here T’Sara was again, talking about Mo to a stranger first. It was enough to make the Romu-vulc feel like a failure of a mother.:: Oddas: I see. Is he a teacher at the school? :: The truth was Aria hadn't really looked into the schooling available on Til'ahn, but she doubted it included advanced warp theory for five or six year olds. If it did then the Laudeans were much more advanced than she had realized. :: T’Sara: No, Mo is everywhere. He’s not a teacher, but he teaches me. He pops in and out like a ghost. ::pause:: What about dah transwarps? Oddas: :: uncertainly, but deciding to let it drop for now :: Well, you need to get access to some Transwarp corridors to make it work and so far no one around here has really made it work. T’Sara: Dat make sense. I bet Mo could make it work. ::looking up at a gelpack:: Dis ones not right, you know? Dah fibers is old n’ weak. See? :: She showed Oddas the tricorder readings.:: :: In truth, Aria had seen it on the repair schedule for the day and left it there, planning to let the girl replace it, but had gotten distracted by the questions. It was a good turn of events the little girl had found it on her own. :: T’Sara: It getting’ all squishy. Oddas: Well, I guess we need to replace it then. :: she pulled out a standard tool kit, she had not expected T'Sara to bring along so much stuff and placed it between them and handed the little girl a Hyperspanner, the first thing needed to remove the pack from its receptical. :: T'Sara: Weally! Okays! :: Even though she was more excited than she could ever possibly contain, T’Sara managed to not drop the tool she’d just been handed.:: :: Carefully following the Chief Engine Lady’s instructions, T’Sara manipulated the tool against the gelpack to disconnect it. Once that was done she paused and smiled at Oddas.:: Oddas: :: smiling :: good work. Now pull it gently from place. :: Little fingers and hands started to work the pack from its place and after a couple of “no-go’s” it finally came loose.:: Oddas: :: gently taking the pack from the girl and handing her a new one, hoping she didn't notice there was a new one readily available :: now place this back in its place. :: She watched as the girl gingerly placed the pack in its place and then used the spanner to secure it. She smiled when she noticed how serious the girl was taking the procedure. :: Oddas: Ok, now, take this tricoder :: she switched it to diagnostics mode :: and verify its working. :: The little girl waited for the readings to settle into place, and then grinned.:: T'Sara: All deh levels is green. We did it! Oddas: Good Work! :: When they were standing she shook the little girl's hand. :: Thank you! T'Sara: Dat was supah funs! Oddas: Oh, I almost forgot. :: she snapped the tool kit together and handed it to T'Sara, and then realized maybe she should have asked the girl's mother before giving her actual tools. She looked in T'Lea's direction as if to say 'Sorry' , but the Romu-vulc shook her head that it was okay.:: T'Sara: Weally?! Dis for me? It’s all mine? I can has it for keeps? :: T’Lea patted the excited little girls head.:: Oddas: Oh! One more thing! :: Aria pulled out a small circular object from her pocket. It was an embroidered disc in a style she had come across when looking up ways to entertain kids. It was the Starfleet Engineering Core logo and the Thunder-A in a style she hoped mimicked a 'merrit badge'. She had no idea if the little girl would care, but it had amused Aria. :: To commemorate your first starship repair. :: She dropped from her tippy-toes as Oddas reached down with another gift. As it was handed over, T’Sara’s eyes lit up even bigger. It was an official looking patch, like she’d seen official engineers wear on their uniforms, and she was so happy she could only think to do one thing.:: :: Flying two steps forward, T’Sara slammed into the Chief’s leg and wrapped her in a tiny, but heartfelt bear hug.:: T’Sara: Thank you Lootanant Oddie. Thank you! Thank you! Oddas: oO Great, now what do I do? Oo :: A chuckle slipped out of T’Lea’s throat. The new name for the Chief Engines Lady was icing on the cake. Honestly it was the best T’Sara could do to pronounce the name, but it was priceless.:: :: Aria looked at T'Lea as if for help, she had expected the girl to be excited and had planned for it to a degree and it had gone better than expected, but this was more than planned. She gingerly patted the girl on the head, hoping it was the right thing to do. :: Oddas: You're welcome, Captain. :: T’Lea reached forward to gently disengaged the tiny hugger from Oddas’s leg, otherwise the girl may have just stayed there. She had a feeling Lootanant Oddie was T’Sara’s new hero. With any luck maybe she would replace, Mo.:: T’Lea: Okay, nugglet, it’s time for us to go. We need to get back to the ranch, and Oddie has other obligations. T’Sara: Aww… I guess so. :: Clearly she would have liked to have stayed longer, and perhaps even arrange for a bunk in engineering to live there permanently, but today was such a good day that nothing was going to spoil it, not even leaving. :: Oddas: :: smiling at them both :: Just today, you can come back soon. :: T’Sara gave the Bajoran one more quick hug of gratitude, and then T’Lea directed her over to the main engineering console.:: T’Lea: Why don’t you self-destruct the ship before we go, I’d like a moment with the Lieutenant. :: With an eager nod, T’Sara grabbed her official tool bag, backpack, and patch, and then climbed the stool, parking herself at the console for some explosive entertainment. :: :: Meanwhile, T’Lea nodded for Oddas to follow her a short distance away, out of earshot.:: T’Lea: I wanted to thank you for taking the time to do this for her. ::smiling at the girl across the room:: She’s going to be dismantling everything she can get her hands on with that tool kit though. Not that she wasn’t before, but now it will be more efficient. Oddas: :: smiling :: Glad I could be of help. :: That wasn’t the reason why she’d called Oddas for a private talk. There was something else on the Romu-vulc’s mind, and she was about to get to it, bluntly, as usual.:: T’Lea: I heard her mention Mo. What did she tell you about him? Oddas: Mostly he was a teacher. I assumed he was a friend somewhere she had picked up along the way. :: Disappointed was the best way to describe T’Lea’s expression. As unperceptive as Aria was, she still noticed it looked confused herself. :: T’Lea: Damn. I thought we were rid of him. :: When she looked over at Oddas, she realized that an explanation was deserved.:: T’Lea: We think he’s an imaginary friend. ::she hated to even say the words:: It’s nothing to worry about, so I’m told. Oddas: :: Aria was more confused by T'Lea's reaction than the news. :: Is this news? Do all kids not have imaginary friends? T’Sara: KabooooOOoooom! :: Obviously, she just blew up the ship, and couldn’t have been more happy about it. Yep, that was T’Lea’s girl alright.:: T’Lea: Ones that are well versed in engineering? I don’t know. She’s not the type to make things up, or keep secrets from me. I just… ::shaking her head:: Sorry. It’s not your problem. Thanks again. :: As T'Lea turned to go Aria surprised herself and touched her arm, stopping her gently. :: Oddas: I don't have children, but I do know what its like to identify with machines instead of people as a kid. I had an imaginary friend, he was the only person around me who didn't want to run around with a phaser and relive the :: mock emphasis :: glory days of the Resistance. It might be ok. T’Lea: ::nodding:: Maybe. :: T'Lea headed off, not wanting to reveal just how vulnerable she felt. That and something just felt wrong about the whole “Mo” thing. For instance some of T’Sara’s knowledge was too damned advanced to have been learned through books. Somebody had to have taught her, and it wasn’t T’Lea.:: :: T’Sara glanced up as they approached. Her finger pointed at the console screen, which depicted the Thunder in pieces.:: T’Sara: I blew’d it up. But I waited till dah crew vacuated. Oddas: Good idea. T’Lea: Ready? :: With an eager nod, T’Sara took to her mother’s side and waved at Oddas.:: T’Sara: Bye lootanant Oddie. Fank you for dah tools. Oddas: See you soon. oO Prophets, don't let 'Oddie' stick. Oo Lieutenant Oddas Aria Chief Engineering Officer Duronis II Embassy - USS Thunder-A - 70605-A ID number: E239305OA0 and Lieutenant Commander T’Lea Chief Science Officer Historian & Archaeology Specialist Embassy, Duronis II Author ID I238301T10
  16. ooc-I'm back. RL had to take priority, but I wanted to read what everyone posted. RL is still a but fuddled, but getting better. Thankfully our CO is wonderful and understanding. This is just a post bringing Ceilidh up to speed. Hope it's okay. (( Embassy Beach Area)) Riverview...life in recent review ::Ceilidh sat at the edge where the grass turns into sand and stared at the water. The slow ebb and flow of the waves as they touched the shore and then retreated held her captive. Time here at the Embassy seemed to be a fickle thing, never really keeping a predictable rhythm. At times, moments passed by as quickly as one blinked, while at others, they seemed to take hours for a single nanosecond of time to pass. The only constant seemed to be the patterns of the waves as they washed up against shore. It was this that kept Ceilidh feeling in sync with the world she now inhabited. The people here also kept her attention, as she tried to understand each one. Coming from a large family, people always assumed that she was quite at ease in large crowds, but the truth be told, she was anything but. Ceilidh appreciated her time alone, her imagination her true source of comfort and confidence. Perhaps that is why she always seemed to just...what was it? Drop from reality as often as she did. Now, sitting here close to the shore with people interacting on the beach, she questioned if perhaps her own comfort within her imagination was truly a blessing of Kerlia, or a curse. Whether curse or blessing, Ceilidh’s mind drifted with the breeze deep within her and tried to fit various pieces of information with the faces and names she was beginning to become familiar with. Your crew was to be your family she remembered some commander muttering one day while she was a cadet in the academy. She never really fully understood that, nor did she want to. She had a family, it was back on Kerelia where it was supposed to be. Those on the ship she would work with would simply be her crew mates, not family. Oh how she had kept that rational of thinking all this time, even up until now. The idea that her shipmates would become her family was an uncomfortable notion for her. Her family was constant, whereas her assignments were not. The idea of constantly starting a new family over and over again was unbearable. Every day Ceilidh was forced to acknowledge and live with the reality that part of her family had been taken from her, and that no amount of wanting them back would ever make it happen. She mourned for the other two who she never got to know. Was retreating into her imagination a way to conjure up what they might have been like? Frazier Stelin T’Lea These were individuals she had gotten to know since she had arrived on the Embassy, but could she call them family? Wasn’t family something that was comfortable, familiar? She had worked with them, even interacted with them off duty in a social setting, but that was it. Would she invite them over to just ‘relax’ and talk together the way she used to back home with her brothers and sisters? Toni Waltas These two flustered Ceilidh and how opposite at times they seemed to be, then the next in perfect sync. They reminded her of the winds just before a storm would hit shore back home. One moment a north wind would swoop in bringing cold air, the next, a western wind would dash in from just off the coast and clash against the north. Moments later, they would seemingly become one and create magnificent fierce storms. But when they got out of unison, heaven beware, for the depths of their emotions were unbridled and fiercely opposing each other. Her new commanding officer and spouse reminded her of those winds. She wasn’t certain if she should be frightened of them, wary, or simply accept the current situation. She had seen them both socially - at their wedding - and then on duty when things got haywire. One a loving parent who provided the best examples of what to remember in life; while the other was split in two, each child at the opposing ends, yet it was easy to see they truly were one before life forced them to grow up. Glancing momentarily from the waves to the prints in the sand at the edge of the water, Ceilidh had to ask herself if she was comfortable referring to them as her family? After all, wouldn’t the commanding officer typically be seen as the head of the family? If so, was this the type of family Ceilidh was comfortable having? Her own parents always seemed to be in such harmony, even when at opposite sides. Could she ever get to a point of comfort where she would refer to them as family? Irena Ceilidh’s aunt was a woman renowned for her passion and joy of life and her temper. She didn’t hesitate to enjoy life and include those around her in experiencing life with her, no matter how embarrassing it might be. Yet, cross her path or her family, and there was no shadow you could hide in where she wouldn’t track you down. If Ceilidh had to call anyone family at the Embassy, it would be Irena. She reminded her of her aunt, and to her, it was a comforting thought, and one she doubted her Aunt Maude would actually mind. This small thought produced a small spark in Ceilidhs memory, as if a wick was finally being lit after such a long time dormant and unused. The warm winds slowly dying down brought Ceilidh out of her thoughts and back into the present. Looking around, she noticed that in the span of 5 minutes the beach had filled up with much of the crew and that people were starting to drift to the left to form some type of assembly. Standing up, Ceilidh dusted off the sand from the crinkles of her clothes and joined the group. There were still so many faces she didn’t recognize, but hopefully over the course of the next while she would become familiar with them. Perhaps it was time to take her eldest brothers’ advice and create her own family where she was, and to not be afraid that if she created a new one that her original family would be forgotten or ignored. It was what their parents had hoped for, that as they got older, they would create their own lives and live them to the fullest. It wasn’t until recently that Ceilidh was starting to understand this. Sure, she had moved away from home, but family had always been there, just back on Kerelia. Yet this had left her lonely, and a sense of emptiness that never seemed to be filled. With understanding comes new challenges...this time to think in new terms of what the term family meant. Ceilidh desperately needed family...heck, everyone did. Turning to face her commanding officer, she hushed as the crowd was addressed. Apparently this was to be a celebration of awards, ribbons and promotions being handed out amongs the crew. Each was fitting, especially the promotions. It was nice to see the crew being recognized by Star Fleet command for their service to the Federation. When her own name was called, not once, but twice, Ceilidh blushed, and honestly didn’t feel that she deserved either of the Ribbons she received. Back in her small spot, she looked over the two and felt the material between her fingers. The ribbons were small, and the material was smooth underneath and course on the front. The Explorer’s ribbon with its hues of blue and yellows, and it’s capital E in the middle, reminded her of her time on the Invicta and those she had served with. The War of Shadows Blockbuster ribbon with it’s brilliant emerald green and single star held her gaze much longer. Emeralds reminded her of home, and perhaps it was fitting that she was now receiving here, on her new home, with her new family. As the presentation ended and the music and food were served up, the introvert within tried to rear it’s head once again. But Ceilidh wasn’t having any of that this time. If this was to be her new family...and she desperately needed one, then she would have to work through her uncomfortable and awkward silence and interact with others...for longer than 2 minutes. Talk about a challenge.:: En. Ceilidh Riverview Diplomatic AttachéDuronis II Embassy - USS Thunder-A ID number: C239209CR0
  17. ((D’Sena’s Quarters, USS Conny)) ::It was the battle of the wills. One vulcan-betazoid and one rodulan. Both stubborn as hell it seemed. T’Mar refused to leave Akeelah in her state, but Akeelah did not seem to be having any of it.:: D'Sena: All I want is to be left alone. :: After all everyone else was so good at it. :: ::T’Mar shook her head in the negative. She wasn’t going to give in. She may not be able to read into the Rodulan’s mind, but she had the overpowering sense that she just had to help her. There was no other option.:: T'Mar: I can’t just leave you. D’Sena: Of course you can ::She stretched out her arm to the side.:: There's the door! T’Mar: Why is it so hard for you to accept my help? D’Sena: Why is it so hard for you to understand that I don't want it? ::She retorted.:: Doubt you're doing that for everyone you feel guilty about. T’Mar: No, there’s more to it than that. You don’t understand. You can’t possible be able to understand what it’s like. ::She was talking to Akeelah, but her thoughts weren’t even focused on the woman. Her thoughts drifted to her parents, to the Vulcans that ostracized her. To Zage who got her to open up and feel.. to love.. only to disappear without a sound.:: D’Sena: Yeah you keep going on believe that. T’Mar: It doesn’t matter. ::pause:: You may not like me. You may not want this help. But you need it and I’m going to do it. D’Sena: You will not. You'll leave my quarters right now. T’Mar: Or what? You will stay on the floor for hours on end without anyone to check in on your well-being? ::It was a low blow. T’Mar couldn’t even believe she said it. Why was she angry at Akeelah? She had done nothing but gotten injured under T’Mar’s watch. Was that really something to be angry about or was she simply angry at herself and taking it out on the poor woman?:: D’Sena: Yes sure, why not? It's not like anyone cares. ::And there it was. T’Mar hit below the belt and Akeelah responded in kind. Did anyone care? She wasn’t always sure she was capable of controlling her feelings, but she did have them. And she did care in her own way.. as messed up as it was.:: T'Mar: ::repugnant:: I care.. D'Sena: You care that it happened on your shift. That's it and nothing more. T'Mar: Is that really what you think? You need to stop feeling sorry for yourself! ::Was she talking to Akeelah with that or herself? The Vulcan wasn’t really sure.:: D'Sena: You can't order me around in my personal life, your rank means nothing here. T'Mar: No, I can’t order you, but I can help you if you would only let me. D'Sena: You are not leaving before you can do your good deed of the day. :: It was a statement not a question and T’Mar knew the Rodulan woman was conceding finally. At least a little bit. T’Mar knew enough to know that wouldn’t be the end :: T'Mar: If you want to put it that way.. yes. D'Sena: Then do it so I can get my peace back. ::It would have been embarassing if it hadn't been necessary. Could just as well make it embarassing for T'Mar as well.:: I need to use the bathroom. ::Blink. Blink-blink. T’Mar wasn’t sure how to respond. Was she serious? Well, surely she wouldn’t be joking now. But T’Mar hadn’t been expecting that request. After an uncomfortable pause, she nodded.:: T'Mar: Okay. Lets go in there and I can move you. TAG/TBC --------------- PNPC Cmdr. T’Mar Security Officer USS Constitution-B as played by: Commander Sarah Mason First Officer USS Constitution-B
  18. ((Science Labs, USS Athena)) :: Tal walked past various different science departments, looking for the one that he needed. When he spotted it he slowed down, approached the door and entered when it automatically opened for him. He glanced around, looking to see if anyone was currently present. :: Tel-ar: Anyone here? Elzizabath: Here in the back. :: At the sound of the voice Tal’s antenna twitched. Youthful, female with a underlying hint of controlled tones. It reminded him of the civilian nurse that the Captain had added to the crew a while back and kept on when they transferred vessels. :: :: Tal circled past a number of elaborate and completely confusing devices and workstations until he spotted the woman. She was over 6 with long straight pale blond hair that hung down to the small of her back. She wore a lab coat over her science uniform but he could see the rank on her collar, she was an ensign. She was slim, with long delicate fingers and the pointy ears that one normally associated with Vulcans but there was no way anyone would ever mistake this young lady for a Vulcan. The tattoo on her face that started near the center of her forehead and circled out and around her right eye to end on her cheek was a colorful maze of swirls and flowers. It marked her as a member of the Ash’lie species which Tal found surprising. :: :: According to all the data that he had seen on them less than a hundred thousand of them had ever left their homeworld and only a small fraction of them had ever joined Starfleet. For there to be two on the ship, a civilian nurse and this scientist was highly unlikely but they were here. :: :: She finished what she was doing and stood up from where she had been slightly bent over working on something. As she did she turned to face him. As expected her face was slim with a high forehead, unusual greenish blue eyes and high cheekbones that gave her face a haughty appearance. :: Elzizabath: How can I help you Cmdr? :: She asked in that melodious tone that he had come to associate with others of her species. :: Tel-ar: I was curious if anyone in this department had examined the data in regards to the various different planets in this system? Elzizabath: Let me check. :: She replied as she turned back to the work station in front of her and quickly searched for the information even as she asked another question. :: Was there anything in particular you were looking for? Tel-ar: Any artificial or alien structures, artifacts, devices or facilities in the system other than the station. :: She worked away, calmly but with a certain degree of confidence that seemed to indicate that this was child’s play for her. :: Elzizabath: Scans show the 4th planet has the remains of a colony, it most likely had a population between 100,000 to 150,000 based on the size and number of buildings and was abandoned approximately 50 years ago. There also seems to have been 4 other colony sites on the planet, all abandoned at approximately the same time but with much smaller populations ranging between a few hundred and a few thousand. There are 3 deactivated satellites in orbit of the planet. :: She paused for a moment as she continued to examine more data. Then she continued to speak. :: Elzizabath: The 4th largest moon in orbit of the systems 8th planet, a gas giant has some kind of structure on the surface of it, estimated size is that of a Federation Saber class vessel. :: Again she stopped speaking for a few moments while she searched for anything else in the records. It took only a few moments before she spoke again. :: Elzizabath: The 3rd planet which is a desert planet shows signs that it was not always so desolate. There are numerous readings that might be an indication of unknown foreign objects beneath the sand. :: Tal considered what she had told him so far as she again searched the records for anything else. As expected the information available to him here was more useful for planning his next steps than the data he had been able to access by doing the scans himself. :: Elzizabath: There is a possibility that there is some unknown object on the surface of the 7th planet as well as something floating inside the asteroid field at the edge of this system. :: She stood and faced him as she continued to speak. :: In order to give you more conclusive information we would have to do further scans and deploy probes. :: Again she paused, her green blue eyes probing, curious but her voice resumed as calm and melodious as before. :: Do you wish me to do so Cmdr? Tel-ar: No Ensign. That will not be necessary. :: Tal replied. He had the authority that he could have ordered her to do so, his being the head of the Tactical department gave him that authority but they were far from the Federation and they had a limited number of probes on board and while they could most likely build more it would be a time consuming process. :: Elzizabath: Is there anything more I can do for you Cmdr? Tel-ar: No. Thank you Ensign. :: Tal replied before he turned and left. :: ************************************ PNPC – Ensign Torali Azivalora Poracin Elzizabath Science Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 As simmed by Cmdr. Tal Tel-ar Chief Tactical Officer USS Athena, NCC-97780 darylpea[...]@hotmail.com Daryl.Pea[...]@ontario.ca Tal Tel-ar’s Writer’s ID: T237708TT0
  19. ((Black Hole Bar, Deck 9 -- USS Za)) ::Drinks in hand Trellis walked back over to the table where Kaitlyn sat waiting. In one hand he held what he hoped was a lovely new Ktarian merlot, vintage 2367 -- he’d heard good things about that year but had never tried it -- and in the other a chai tea. The different scents from the wine and tea were mixing in odd ways. The merlot was fruity, nutty and woody; the tea a bit sweet. ::He placed the tea down in front of Kaitlyn before sitting down. She had moved her piece after a prolonged analysis of the situation. He tilted his head as he looked at the chess board.:: Vondaryan: ::smirking:: Ah, I see you’re using the Roskarian gambit. ::Right. THAT was the name.:: ::Kaitlyn had actually spent pretty much the entire time Trellis had been up trying to remember how the pattern went. Given her level of experience with chess (just shy of nil), she had looked up a thing or two prior to this long awaited duel of wits.:: ::The result? Well… she had not lost horribly. Yet.:: Falcon: Ah, noticed that, huh? ::Kaitlyn took a sip of the chai, giving Trellis a grateful nod.:: Vondaryan: ::he sniffed his wine but didn’t sip it yet, letting the tannins flow free:: Of course I recognized you were heading that way a few moves ago. ::Kaitlyn smirked.:: Falcon: Heh. No surprise, there. Vondaryan: ::he lifted his own piece, putting on another level of the board:: But you didn’t seem to notice my own incorporation of the Mimolotian Tactic. ::The redhead looked carefully at his pieces, trying to analyse what he was up to… However, strategy had never really been Kaitlyn’s strong suit; she was usually one for the straight-up approach.:: Falcon: The what? Vondaryan: ::he chuckled:: The Mimolotion Tactic. Named after the famed Zakdorn tactician who invented it. Falcon: ::Moving her white bishop forward in counter.:: And that means…? Vondaryan: ::he grinned, then chuckled:: That means you’ll be losing your knight at the moment. ::Kaitlyn watched as he effortlessly swooped a piece in and relieved her of one of her knights.:: Falcon: Oh… Well, then, he should just be embarrassed to get snuck up on, like that. Right? ::Trellis had to admit, that was funny. He laughed while Kaitlyn continue to contemplate her move.:: ::She tried to put a bit of dry wit into her tone. Admittedly, she did not much care for losing, but this WAS Trellis’s thing more than hers. And she got to win in their last thing, so it was only fair.:: ::...is what she kept telling herself, at least. She took another sip of her chai, studying the board before moving a pawn up.:: Vondaryan: And now you’ve lost a rook, too. ::He moved a bishop down a level to take the rook. It left his own knight open, but that was a trap. Take it and it’d be mate in three moves. Leave it and he could use it to make mate in seven. The game was more or less over but it’d be an excellent training tool. Kaitlyn had been very patient with him in their previous exercises, so the least he could do was show the same patience.:: ::Kaitlyn squinted her eyes slightly as the rook was removed from the board:: Falcon: Why hast thou forsaken me, traitorous tower… ::While intended as a funny quip, Kaitlyn’s irritation at losing was starting to come forth.:: Vondaryan: I understand your frustration. It can be a complicated game sometimes. ::he smiled:: But you’re definitely getting better. ::Kaitlyn took a breath, and a sip of chai, before looking at Trellis with a renewed smile.:: Falcon: Hey, I can take this in stride… after griping about it for a bit. ::Smirks.:: Vondaryan: Ah, but that was the trap I had set. No way out of it, I’m afraid. A no-win scenario for you. ::Another analysis of the board… really told Kaitlyn little. She guessed it was the newly vulnerable knight. A look around its general area revealed at least one other piece covering it.:: ::She could not quite keep the slight twitch of grimace from the corner of her lip.:: Falcon: I’ve never really liked no-win scenarios. ::He pursed his lips as he listened. That was a very Kaitlyn thing to say.:: Vondaryan: So not a fan of the Kobyashi Maru, then? ::he smirked:: Falcon: ::Smirks back, giving a slight shake of her head.:: Not particularly, no. ::Chuckles.:: Haven’t met many who were. Vondaryan: ::he tilted his head:: Oh, I don’t know. It’s a good learning experience if nothing else. Want to talk about it? Falcon: Sure, why not? ::Smiles.:: I’ll tell you mine if you tell me yours. Vondaryan: ::he couldn’t help but chuckle. A very human phrase, that ‘mine’ and ‘yours’.:: Good, I can learn from your test. ::Kaitlyn leaned back, taking a slight break from the game as she took another sip of her chai.:: Falcon: Well, I pretty much knew what to expect of it going in. Both my parents AND both of my sisters are ‘Fleet, after all, though my older sister didn’t take the test, herself. Anyway; I was given an Intrepid for the test, so I tried to use speed and agility to my advantage. ::Using her hands to pantomime as all pilots did.:: Run straight between the Romulan Warbirds they put me against, keeping my velocity high enough for them to miss me and hit each other. ::Trellis nodded in understanding. It was a fairly good plan, tactically speaking. But, being the Kobyashi Maru of course there was more than just that.:: Vondaryan: It couldn’t have been that easy. Falcon: ::Shakes her head.:: Not really, but it was worth a shot. But I think I was able to take at least one of them with me into photonic oblivion. ::Smirks.:: Thing is; most traps depend on the target not knowing they’re there. So, I’ve always had a bit of a policy. If I see a trap… ::Kaitlyn reached out to the board, taking hold of her remaining bishop and taking out Trellis’s vulnerable knight.:: Falcon: ...I spring it. ::Smiles.:: ::Not that she had any expectations of winning, at that point. But for something like this, Kaitlyn was okay with Operation: Blaze of Glory.:: ::Trellis laughed out loud. He knew very few people who actually enjoyed getting into traps. Oddly, it was one of the things he liked about Kaitlyn. He would never willingly spring a trap. He’d try to figure out some way around, or to turn it against the trapper. But she went right ahead, her two guns blazing. Sometimes he needed that recklessness in his life. Haylie was like that, too -- a real adrenaline fiend. It was probably why he liked both women so much.:: Vondaryan: Okay, so what happened then? ::he idly picked up a pawn, pushing the game forward.:: Mate in three, by the way. Falcon: Oh, I made it barely thirty seconds past that. ::Smiles.:: That ‘one-in-a-million’ shield failure that’ll always happen in the worst-case scenario. The instructor liked my guts, but suggested I might want to try something a bit more defensive ‘next time’. ::Smiles.:: How about you? ::Kaitlyn reached for her queen, pulling it back to cover the gap left by her bishop.:: Vondaryan: Mine was on a Galaxy-class. I knew I wouldn’t be able to outgun the Warbirds, even with all the enhancements they’ve had in the last thirty years. But it’s too big to be maneuverable, so anything quick and fast was out of the question. So I tried subterfuge. Had myself disguised as a Romulan, claimed I was a hostage and somehow get them to fire upon themselves. ::He moved a rook, threatening the queen and king at the same time.:: ::While Kaitlyn had typically been the one to think up crazy plans needing a lot of luck to succeed, Trellis had always countered her with a well thought out idea with far greater chances of success. Kaitlyn might usually quip that his ideas sounded ‘less fun’, she knew he was right. It was one of the reasons she had enjoyed working with him; he kept her from getting shot at more than she might like.:: Falcon: Interesting idea. ::Smiles.:: They buy it? ::She looked over the board, seeing both her queen and king at risk. Tracking back from his rook, Kaitlyn spotted his other knight in position to eliminate her queen should she take it out.:: ::So, which piece would she trade?:: ::While an unbalanced swap, Kaitlyn wanted to at least take a piece with hers. She slid her queen over, taking the rook.:: Vondaryan: Of course they didn’t believe me. ::he chuckled:: They were holograms, of course, and programmed not to. But I thought it might be interesting to see their reaction. ::he frowned:: I did manage to save the hostage ship, but lost my own in the process. I’m not sure it was worth it, in the end… ::He tilted his head, thinking about the situation. Would it really have been better to save the hostages and not engage the Romulans? Would it have been better to let the hostages die and somehow destroy the Romulans? There really wasn’t a good answer to that question. Which, he supposed, was the point.:: ::He smiled at the board, moving his other bishop to place the King in check. Two more moves.:: Falcon: Well… The way my father put it; it’s not just what you do in the Kobiyashi Maru test. It’s why you do it. How you justify your actions, for good or for ill. Hell, I’ve even heard of folks who decided the whole thing was a trap, and refused to respond to the distress call at all. I’m not sure there’s really a ‘wrong’ answer. Vondaryan: ::he nodded:: Yes, I suppose. Part of me wanted to take it again just to see a different outcome. Haylie thought I would be a glutton for punishment if I did, though. Besides, I had plenty of other finals to study for. Falcon: ::Chuckles.:: Didn’t we all? ::With a small, thoughtful, sigh, Kaitlyn looked over the mess before her. Her queen could move to block the bishop, but not in a way that would meaningfully protect her king… So, she grabbed an as-of-yet unmoved pawn and moved him two spaces up instead.:: Vondaryan: ::he tilted his head at the board:: Interesting. Desperate, but interesting. Still, it won’t keep you from losing in two moves. ::he moved his remaining rook, blocking off all retreat for the King next move.:: ::Desperate moves… For some reason, that was catching in her head…:: ::No… She knew exactly why. It was hardly her first time doing something desperate. Granted, this was just a game of chess, but…:: ::Some of the edge fell from Kaitlyn’s smirk as she reached out to the board again. She could see the inevitable loss. While she knew she could always just go and tip her king, it felt… wrong to go and rob Trellis of his victory. He had worked for it, after all.:: ::Given her level of skill, she did not think Trellis had needed to work particularly hard for the win, but it was the principle of the thing.:: ::With a soft sigh she grabbed her queen, pulling it back to stand next to the king. While it would be unable to protect the king from all angles, it was still something.:: ::With Kaitlyn’s queen right where he wanted it, he moved his own queen to position. With the King in check Kaitlyn would be forced to move it in the only space available, leaving the opposite queen for the taking and the king mated.:: Vondaryan: Check. ::Kaitlyn saw. And heard. Though some of her mind was not fully there. When she looked up at Trellis, part of her saw him a few months back… That uncertainty in his eyes, and the shudder at what he saw.:: Falcon: Trellis… Are… Were… ::Pauses a moment, trying to unjumble her words.:: Were you afraid of me? ::They had never discussed what had happened back on the Marauder…:: ::Trellis let out a long, deep sigh. It was a question he suspected might have been coming at some point. It was a perfectly normal question and he’d had plenty of time to think about the answer. Not that he really needed to think about it, per se. It was more about phrasing, than anything.:: Vondaryan: At that particular moment, for that small fraction of time, a little. ::he sighed again:: But it wasn’t being afraid OF you, rather being afraid FOR you. ::He wasn’t sure if that would make complete sense to her. Honestly, he wasn’t sure it made sense to him.:: ::To Trellis’s first sentence, Kaitlyn had given a soft sigh and a nod of understanding. Honestly, she did not blame anyone for it; the sight had been… But to his second sentence, she looked back at him with a look of slight confusion.:: Falcon: ‘For’ me? Vondaryan: I think I was worried about what could cause my friend to act in such a matter. I knew you would never do that sort of thing without good reason. You’re not a cold-blooded, heartless, killer ::he smirked, almost forcing a chuckle to lighten the mood:: despite your facade. It would take a lot to push you past a breaking point. Which must have been hard on you. I wasn’t sure you’d be able to get back to being right. Falcon: Truth be told, what happened there was a surprise to me as well. ::Sighs.:: It was something that happened a long time ago, something I thought I was well passed. ::She leaned back in her seat, taking another sip of her chai.:: Honestly, I think the only reason it came back up was because of… Because of someone we ran into on that ship. ::He nodded in understanding. He knew she’d had troubles with the Syndicate before. He was just sorry to see the outcome in such a… violent… manner.:: Vondaryan: ::he frowned:: I’m sorry I brought it up. Falcon: No, it’s okay to bring up. I’ve had a lot of time to process it, and I’m pretty much back to where I was before. ::She set her hands onto the table, trying to show that she really was calm about it all.:: If you’d like to know more about it, what happened and all, you can ask. ::Small smile.:: Vondaryan: ::he gave a small smile:: That I’m glad to hear. In case I haven’t said it, I’m glad you’re on my side. ::he blinked:: And that you’re my friend. ::To that, Kaitlyn gave a smile much closer to her typical.:: Falcon: Right back at you. ::Soft chuckle.:: You’re the best friend I’ve got. ::Not just on Za, either. At that point, Kaitlyn was not sure how many friends she had left outside the family circle.:: ::She finally reached back to the board and slid her king to the only remaining spot he could move.:: ::Trellis nodded. While he was tempted to actually leave the match as it was, not completed, he wasn’t sure that would be fair to Kaitlyn. She had tried rather hard this match, after all, and she deserved closure on this.:: ::So, with a bit of a heavy hand he moved his queen to its final position threatening the king.:: Vondaryan: That’s game over. ::he sipped his merlot, enjoying the flavors as they reached his senses:: ::Kaitlyn reached over to her king, setting him onto his side. For some she might have pouted, but for Trellis she could be graceful in defeat.:: Falcon: Congratulations. ::Smiles.:: I hope I was, at least, interesting to watch. ::He chuckled. Without meaning to she could be quite funny.:: Vondaryan: I had fun, thank you. ::he finished his merlot and came away with a smirk:: A game of Velocity? ::Kaitlyn smiled. Simple target shooting was Kaitlyn’s strong point, as chess was Trellis’s. Velocity combined shooting with strategy; best of both worlds.:: Falcon: ::Finishing her chai.:: Sounds perfect to me. -- Lt Commander Kaitlyn Falcon Chief Helm Officer U.S.S. Za; NCC-65385 F237507RF0 & Lieutenant Commander Trellis Vondaryan First Officer USS Za O239208TV0
  20. ((Alora’s Quarters; U.S.S. Za )) ::It had been a long day.:: ::Alora had hit the ground running and hadn’t stopped until the situation was over. After that, she still hadn’t stopped for quite some time until things had settled down somewhat and Sickbay wasn’t quite so hectic. While not a doctor, she had first aid training and had remained unharmed, so put her able body to use for minor injuries. All hands on deck, so to speak. The day had waned into night and even those hours passed, so by the time she actually made it to the quarters she’d been assigned, the first time she’d actually seen them, night was technically morning. Despite that, Alora found herself with a little too much energy to go to bed, even after changing and preparing to do so. After lying down and tossing and turning for a bit, she’d finally arisen, gotten some chamomile tea, and settled in the provided armchair.:: ::Around her, all her things cluttered the floor, still packed in boxes, each one carefully labeled with its contents. One item, however, had been too awkward a shape to be packed and had been carried in its own personal case - her Vulcan harp. It brought to mind the one who had given her.:: ::Saveron.:: ::Someone had mentioned him on the ship and it was then Alora realised that he was stationed there. Normally, she would have taken time to get to know most of the senior staff in writing before arriving, but her transfer had been so quick, she’d only been able to peruse the information of a few of them. She hadn’t even gotten to his name on the list.:: ::Taking a sip of her tea before setting it down on a side table, Alora then picked up her triPADD. A moment of effort allowed her to connect to the ship’s network and she plugged in his name. There he was. His profile was there, the USS Za’s Chief Medical Officer, his stern features and striking eyes staring up at her.:: ::She had loved those eyes.:: ::Space was enormous. Not even a quarter of the galaxy had been explored and who knew how much was still out there to discover. In all the hundred thousand light years of distance, between all the stars and planets, nebulas and anomalies, somehow, she had been assigned to the same ship once more. Only now, things were different.:: ::Now she was going to have to face them after they were no longer together. Now she was going to have to find a way to work with a man who had broken her heart. Oh she could do it. She had to do it. There was no choice in the matter. Starfleet wouldn’t take their past as an excuse to transfer her elsewhere, and truly, what did that say about her, if she ran away from someone she used to care about?:: ::Someone she still cared about.:: ::Someone she still loved.:: ::Except he didn’t love her. Alora rose and crossed over to the harp. Laying it flat on the ground, she opened the case and peered down at the beautiful instrument crafted from replicated wood that seemed to be of walnut. Dark cherry formed the inlaid designs, curling in an abstract fashion upon it. Carefully constructed, it was Alora’s most prized possession along with her cat, Sachiko, even after everything. A single finger stretched out, tracing the pattern of one of those curls.:: ~~~~Flashback~~~~ ((Alora’s Quarters, USS Invicta)) ::Saveron stopped outside Alora’s quarters, pausing briefly before keying the door chime.:: DeVeau: Come in! ::While her voice couldn’t be heard outside, it was the signal for the computer to open the doors and allow the person on the other end into her quarters. The Vulcan stepped inside, long robes swirling about his feet as he entered, and Alora’s face lit up with a smile. She had perched herself on the couch and was enjoying a book, but she certainly didn’t mind putting it aside for this particular visitor.:: Saveron: Sochya, Alora. ::He offered her the ta’al, the traditional Vulcan salute.:: DeVeau: Hello, Sav. ::She offered the ta’al, finding the greeting formal, but then, Vulcan’s were a pretty formal people. Saveron: I wish to speak with you, if your time is not otherwise occupied. DeVeau: Always. ::The lanky doctor helped himself to a seat on the couch and perched on the edge stiffly, never quite at home with sitting on something other than the floor.:: ::Now, she knew Vulcans were a generally reserved people, but something about the whole set up wasn’t quite right. Even for Sav, things were a bit more...distant than usual. Alora set her book on the table and turned her body toward the Vulcan.:: DeVeau: Is something wrong? ::The Vulcan considered the question.:: Saveron: I anticipate that you would say that there is. ::He said at last.:: I have received notification of another transfer. DeVeau: Another transfer? ::That wasn’t highly unusual. Starfleet posted those who had specific skills, knowledge, and ability where they were most needed. Evidently, Saveron was needed somewhere else more than he was needed on the Invicta - which meant he would be leaving.:: Saveron: A second Romulan situation. ::Perhaps his success at the first was his undoing.:: DeVeau: I see. ::Even though she knew such things happened, and it wasn’t odd, that didn’t mean Alora had to like it.:: Saveron: I do not know how long my presence will be required, which is one of the reasons that I wished to speak with you. ::Alora nodded. She didn’t want Sav to transfer, but really, neither of them had much say in it. Well, he had more. He could refuse the transfer. The refusal might not be accepted, but he could try. However, that wasn’t the sort of thing the Vulcan would do.:: DeVeau: But we can keep in touch like we did last time. It’s not ideal, but I’m glad there we have that sort of technology. We could even do holographic calls from time to time if you’d like. Saveron: That is correct. ::He agreed.:: However, as you note, the situation is not ideal. ::It was something that had been weighing on his mind, amongst other things.:: DeVeau: No, it’s not. ::Alora thought about saying more, but something stopped her and she waited for him to continue instead.:: Saveron: I anticipate that this may be the pattern for the foreseeable future. I do not know when I will return to the Corridor, nor for how long. ::Indeed, even if he would be able to return. His meditations on the subject had not been calming.:: Such a situation will be less than agreeable for both of us. Thus, whilst I will always be your friend, I consider it preferable to finalise our closer relationship. DeVeau: I disagree. I would much rather continue our relationship. We’re not the only ones who would have ever had to deal with distance. ::Or was there something more than just that?:: Saveron: That is correct, however I do not consider a long-distance relationship to be preferable. ::And he hadn’t considered that she would disagree with his preference.:: DeVeau: It’s not like it’s never been done before. Even some married couples have to do it at points sometimes. ::The Vulcan laced his long fingers together, a thoughtful gesture.:: Saveron: Alora, whilst courtship is uncommon in Vulcan culture due to the practice of bonding in childhood, if one member of a courting pair no longer considers the pairing preferable, the courtship ends and the pair return to their previous friendship. ::He tried to explain.:: Nothing I have read has indicated to me that there is a requirement to continue in Terran culture. ::And he was endeavouring to end the relationship as gently as possible.:: ::For a moment Alora remained quiet, her green eyes studying the stoic face of the Vulcan.:: DeVeau: And it’s simply because of the distance that you don’t find it preferable? Saveron: There are other factors that I have taken into consideration. ::He allowed.:: DeVeau: Then what else? Saveron: It has become apparent that there are considerable differences between our expectations for a relationship. DeVeau: Oh? Saveron: I am aware that you have certain… reservations regarding relationships, stemming from your previous experiences. I suggested previously that you seek Counselling on the subject, but you declined to do so. I do not believe that our relationship can progress without your resolving these issues. ::As he had done. Multiple sessions with two different Counsellors had been required - along with the intervention of a mischievous Q - before he had finally been able to resolve the issues surrounding T’Rel. But he had, and only then had he moved on.:: DeVeau: Actually, I’ve spoken to Raissa about it. ::Her frown deepened, drawing lines across her brow.:: DeVeau: Are you talking about the desire to wait for physical intimacy? Saveron: Negative. ::He replied.:: Such is common in my own culture. ::Though he knew it was less common in hers.:: DeVeau: Then I’m not sure I understand. ::Alora didn’t like where this was headed one bit and she shifted. There was truth in that statement, she didn’t understand, she wanted to understand but was also afraid that understanding would lead to a result she didn’t desire. Unfortunately, it was aimed in that direction no matter what, and she didn’t think there was any way to stop it.:: DeVeau: What, exactly, is troubling you? ::The Vulcan had held it preferable that she would simply accept his statement of preference regarding the ending of their relationship. It would, after all, be illogical to attempt to persuade someone to continue a relationship they no long desired. But Terrans were often quite illogical; sometimes their leaps of intuition and faith achieved great things, things the steady progress of logic could not. And sometimes they made things difficult.:: Saveron: It has become apparent that you have an expectation of the manner in which the relationship would progress. At the same time, you have expressed a preference that I should take the initiative in the relationship. This puts me in the difficult situation of living up to your expectations; were I not a telepath it would be impossible. ::Saveron was a Vulcan, and therefore he was quite adept and hiding his feelings, even when they touched telepathically. Lately, they’d both been so busy, they hadn’t had much time together, but even when they were, she hadn’t suspected anything was wrong. Obviously, something was.:: DeVeau: I’m sorry, I never intended to make you uncomfortable. Saveron: Never the less, I find the situation disagreeable. I respect your right to your preferences, but I cannot live them. ::Part of a relationship was talking, communicating. Lately, it seemed he’d been harbouring feelings that he hadn’t shared with her, and that definitely wasn’t healthy in a relationship. Alora might not be as experienced as he, but even she knew that. DeVeau: So instead of discussing things with me and try to work them out, you’d rather just break things off? Why? ::The Vulcan rose to his feet.:: Saveron: Because you are still looking for Prince Charming, and we have already established that he is not me. I trust that you will find him one day. Live long and prosper, Alora. ::He turned and, robes swirling about his feet, walked out.:: ~~~~End Flashback~~~~ ::He must have received transfer orders after that and been placed on the Za. If Alora had paid closer attention to the senior staff list, she wouldn’t have been taken by surprise. Still, surprise or no, they were now fellow officers on the same ship. She would respect him, work politely with him, and always fulfill her duty. While she did so, she would never let him know how much her heart hurt, never reveal the pain he’d caused her, the stabbing that sliced through her every time she thought of him and the way he’d left.:: ::Alora inhaled and closed the case once more, shutting the instrument off from the world once again. Rising, she returned to her tea and clutched the cup in her hands, the heat warming her skin. He’d never know. He’d moved on, and all he would see was that she had too.:: ::Even if she hadn’t.:: ******** Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau Science Officer USS Za M239008AD0 With Guest Star Appearance by Commander Saveron Chief Medical Officer USS Za
  21. ((TIL’AHN – EMBASSY GROUNDS)) :: It was pouring rain. The drops were so big that it felt like T’Lea was getting pelted with water balloons. The seasons were changing on Til’ahn, and wet weather meant a cold front was moving in. That was something T’Lea was very much not looking forward to. But right now there was the issue of avoiding looking like a drown rat by the time she reached the holodeck.:: :: Why was she running to the holodeck, one might ask? Well, it wasn’t for a relaxing day of hand-to-hand combat with multiple varieties of large idiots that needed dismembering. No, this was not an invitation for fun. This was the dreaded mandatory weapons recertification test. A run and gun obstacle course that in the past had been T’Lea’s one flaw in combat.:: :: Lake sized puddles splashed beneath the Romu-vulc’s boots as she raced toward the cover of the building. She recalled what one instructor at the academy had said about her marksmanship skills, “can’t hit the broadside of a Borg Cube”. It was true, and it was something T’Lea could never correct, until the illegal upgrade.:: :: She entered the building, leaving behind her rain gear, and gripping the dual pistol case in her hand. She felt confident, but she still carried a bit of residual trepidation from past experiences. Failure after failure, or just barely passing by the skin of her teeth made her hate these drills. But that was then, and this was now. And right now the holodeck awaited.:: ((HOLODECK 3)) :: Irina was already in the holodeck and had finished her own qualification courses with Captain Martinez signing off. Unlike most Starfleet officers, Irina had three courses she needed to maintain currency on; the Starfleet Security Officers’ certification, which was a more involved and difficult course than the standard Starfleet course, but also the standard marine course which was mostly rifle based and involved longer range shooting, and finally the marine sniper course, which was pretty much the most difficult course in all of the Federation’s various departments.:: ::For Irina, none of these were much trouble. She still had a perfect record, one shot, one kill, dead center, each and every time irregardless of size, speed or distance. She had held the Federation record from 2169 through 2172, and while no longer the record holder since her return in 2389, she did hold the record for ORGANIC life forms, and when synthetics were added was still in the top three.:: ::Sniper course complete and boxes all checked, Irina looked up and noticed T’Lea entering with a pistol case. A quick check of the board indicated it was her time to qualify. Irina having rangemaster as one of her collateral duties decided she would run the course herself and dismissed Captain Martinez.:: Pavlova: Do you need a practice run first? T’Lea: No, just give me a minute to set up. Are you qualifying also? :: She plopped her pistol case on the table, and opened it up to reveal the standard Starfleet issue phaser, and the other weapon which was military issue, just not Starfleet. It was her mother’s disruptor, and a special one only issued to Tal Shiar agents.:: Pavlova: I just finished, but I’ll be running you through your course. ::Irina looked at the disruptor, which looked Romulan in design, if her guess was right:: Nice toy. :: A bit surprised by the news that Irina would be running the show, T’Lea glanced up at her for a split second, and then shrugged.:: T’Lea: I know it’s not regulation, but I’d also like to qualify to carry this as well. :: She gestured at the disruptor fully expecting a “hell no, we don’t allow Romulan garbage in Starfleet.” After all, the last time she tried this she was met with exactly that kind of response.:: Pavlova: Hmmmmm, non-regulation weapon. ::Irina glanced down at her own 22nd century phase pistol that was still on the bench:: Pavlova: So long as I verify its within accuracy standards. T’Lea: Be my guest. :: She moved aside allowing Irina to handle the weapon.:: ::Irina picked up the weapon and inspected it closer. The craftsmanship was superb, far better than standard Federation or Romulan weapons, and its balance was about as close to perfect as possible without custom weighting to the individual owner, or perhaps it was custom, but for somebody other than Irina.:: Pavlova: Romulan? T’Lea: It was my mother’s. She used it to assassinate my father. :: A total lie, but she wanted to see how the woman would react to it. Raivus hadn’t killed Keros with the disruptor, it had been poison.:: Pavlova: Let me guess, he left dirty dishes on the table, or did he always forget to put the toilet seat down? Poison or even good old-fashioned suffocation is cleaner. :: Not what the Romu-vulc expected in return, but she hardly knew the woman. In fact, she was beginning to think that maybe she had pegged her wrong. T’Lea had always steered clear of Irina in the past, believing her to be a goody-two-shoed, by-the-book, strict follower of code and conduct, which was something T’Lea disliked thoroughly. Of course, it was going to take a lot more than just two minutes of time together to change her mind, but she would be more than happy to admit she was wrong.:: T’Lea: Well, we all make do with what we have at the time. :: She held out her hand for the disruptor, holstering it and then the phaser.:: ::Putting the weapon back down in the case Irina stepped aside.:: Pavlova: Well, lets get you qualified. We’ll start with the standard phaser, I’ll append your little toy after I see that you can actually hit what you aim at. T’Lea: I hear you’re one of our top shooters. Feel like taking a tandem run with me? Unless, you’re too tired. :: The last time T’Lea qualified had been under the strict eye of Skye Blake, who held the record also. T’Lea didn’t break it, not because she couldn’t, but she made certain that she came close enough to make Blake sweat. It was a good laugh.:: Pavlova: I’m not a bad shot. Hannibal’s almost as fast, but not as accurate. ::Irina set up the standard officer qualification course and picked up her brand-new 250-year-old phase pistol.:: Pavlova: Ready? :: T’Lea turned her back to Irina, pulled the phaser, and blinked. The innocent little bat of her eyes activated her optical targeting system, (OTS). The reticle instantly came online and she felt the surge of power twitch through her shoulders all the way down to her finger tips. Muscle stimulators were active and her reaction time doubled.:: ::Anyone look at T’Lea wouldn’t know that she was now under the influence of cybernetic enhancements, unless they look very closely at her right eye and saw the faint shadow of a holographic red dot sight overlaid in the lens in her eye. T’Lea: Indeed. ::Irina started the course with two adjacent lanes open, T’Lea’s targets in blue, her own in set to black to accommodate her color blindness as the blue targets were very close in tone to the gray walls and white targets would just be too easy.:: ::The first set of ten appeared at varying distances and size as per the standard course outlines, and each time Irina hit it dead-center in a fraction of second.:: :: The OTS recognized the color blue as T’Lea’s primary target after the first two eye movements tracked the objects. Swift shifting flight patterns and variable sizes made little difference in the optical systems ability to identify and hold the targets unpredictable actions. The reflex stimulators were icing on the cake, thought T’Lea with every sharp jerk of her muscles. The ability to snap to the center of the target worked in perfect unison with OTS and the users own thought. The system was flawless. SFI’s upgrades hadn’t just protected T’Lea from being hijacked again, but they seem to have improved on an already impeccable system. It was like her OTS was on steroids. Hell, she couldn’t have missed even if she’d tried!:: :: When the round was over, she turned to Irina and did her best not to look as surprised at herself as she felt.:: T’Lea: Can we skip the targdren and go straight to the difficult stuff? Pavlova: Sure thing. T’Lea: Simulated fleshy objects are more entertaining than flying discs don’t you think? Pavlova: Even better when they shoot back. :: The holodeck imagery reconfigured into an abandoned building with Klingon architecture. The structure looked like it had been through war. When the sounds of shelling in the distance concussed the air, it was clear that it was still going through a war.:: T’Lea: Clearing the building? Pavlova: Sure, why not; T’Lea: On my six. :: Since she was the one in review she knew the lead was hers.:: Pavlova: And, begin. :: T’Lea plucked the disruptor from its resting place on her thigh and now both hands were armed. She’d never done this before, but she wanted to push her OTS and reflexes to see if the system could handle dual targeting at once. She was about to find out just how good SFI had made her.:: :: Not two steps down the hall and suddenly the lower level came alive with a pair of Klingons exiting from opposite doorways in front of her at the same time. In a split second her system calculated all of the important factors for both of them – distance, predictions based on tracking movements, and much more. It was determined that the one on the right had raised his weapon a fraction faster than the one on the left. The VOTS, (vital organ targeting software), selected the best organ for a fatal shot according to the angle of her body, and then it did the same for the second hostile. With hardly a thought, T’Lea raised both arms almost simultaneously, and fired. The one on the left fell seconds after the Klingon on the right, both mortal wounds.:: :: The Romu-vulc smiled at herself, then quickly wiped it away and glanced back at Irina, giving her a little quirk of the brow before moving on. Without the OTS those kinds of results never would have happened… at least not as efficiently.:: :: A couple of more rooms were cleared and the shelling started getting closer to the building.:: T’Lea: Is that our artillery or theirs? Pavlova: Theirs. T’Lea: I assume we’ll be taking them out down range. I’m not a sniper… ::mumbling:: well, as far as I know, I’m not. :: Something told her those SFI upgrades may have made her one.:: Pavlova: I am. T’Lea: That sounds ominous. Let’s see if we make it to the top first. :: They went up the flight of stairs, dropping Klingons and a couple of Cardassians for good measure along the way.:: ::Irina was positive that something was up with T’Lea. Even Hannibal wasn’t that fast or accurate, and it was likely that Irina wouldn’t be either without the benefit of a few centuries experience and the intuition that went with it. As she had lead, most of the targets were placed in front of T’Lea, but the computer had a few surprises for Irina as well, and despite the age of her weapon she hit everything that presented itself, in a fraction of a second, and unlike T’Lea with her computer suggesting vital organs, Irina just did what she always did and hit everything she shot at right between the eyes. :: ::Finally the pair made it to the roof :: Pavlova: That was fun. T’Lea: I must admit… I have a new appreciation for these. :: She indicated to the two weapons in her hands. She had always felt that using projectile, or energy based weapons was cheating in combat. She much preferred to have personal face-time with her victims, but, as Irina had said, it was fun, and now that she could hit her targets it kinda was.:: T’Lea: By the way, you were right -- shooting the Waltas Twins. It was the only logical choice. Pavlova: I’ve known Tyr a long time. I promised I wouldn’t kill his kids, and that was the only way to keep that promise. :: The Romu-vulc gave a nod, and holstered both weapons.:: T’Lea: So, pass or fail? :: Like she had to ask.:: Pavlova: Not bad at all. So what are you using, some kind of computer enhancement. :: The sound of Irina’s voice prompted the Romu-vulc to turn her thoughts elsewhere. She should have made a point to miss a few. She got greedy and she got caught.:: : :T’Lea turned with a serious Vulcan expression.:: T’Lea: Are you accusing me of cheating? Pavlova: I’m asking what you are using, because whatever it is, it is not limited to skill and experience. :: T’Lea had to be careful with her next choice of words. Not that her implants were a secret, but the less people that knew about them, the better off she was.:: T’Lea: I can assure you that no external help was applied. ::thoughtful pause:: If you had one fatal flaw that may put your family and co-workers in jeopardy, would you not do everything in your power to correct it? Pavlova: Oh I cheat too, wherever I can. Counterweights, custom beam focusing lenses, optimized ammunition and even custom weapon fitting. Not to sound arrogant but, but without some electronic cheats, I’m guessing linked from eye to hand, there’s just no way you can shoot as quickly and accurately as you just did. I can, with practice on the course, but not with two weapons and I’m sure…… :: Another loud explosion hit the ground a few yards away from the building they were standing on. T’Lea scowled and then glanced at Irina.:: T’Lea: Do you mind dispensing with that annoyance? ::Irina looked quickly and saw that the Klingon with the mortar was 1500 meters away on an distant rooftop. With casual disdain she picked up the rifle from the its perch at the ledge and quickly brought it to eye level, aimed and fired. The whole process from target identification to .50 caliber hole between his eyes took barely two seconds, more than half of that just picking up the weapon.:: :: It was in those two seconds that T’Lea recognized something… interesting.:: Pavlova: I’m guessing you want me to fudge the score a bit? :: The Romu-vulc stared the woman in the eyes for a mere moment, trying to gauge her motives. Suspicion rose in T’Lea.:: T’Lea: Something consistent with my previous records. :: Records that would probably horrify the woman if she saw them. She said the last statement hesitantly, wondering if she would owe Irina something in return :: Pavlova: Sixty-four percent it is. ::Irina then raised her voice and went somewhat monotone:: : Computer, End program. :: As the holodeck fell to grid form, with only a table remaining, she went about placing her gear in the case. She half glanced at Irina who was collecting her own belongings, and then T’Lea decided to prod.:: T’Lea: Careful. Pavlova: Of? T’Lea: If you keep breaking the rules I may start to like you – a little. Pavlova: Just don’t start following me home and begging for scraps. :: The Romu-vulc gave her wry smirk and poked a bit more.:: T’Lea: Everyone knows your reputation, Ms. Pavlova. Superior marksman, skilled in hand to hand combat, the perfect soldier. Two-hundred and fifty years of experience. Starfleet loves that kind of officer, as long as you don’t cause problems for them. Something tells me you have a history of problem causing. ::looking at her as if seeing through her:: I know darkness when I see it. People try to hide it, try to deny it, but once you’ve touched it, it never really goes away. You’re not fooling me, but I’ll pretend. ::Darkness. Most of her life was spent in darkness. For 219 years she brutally acquired and drove a slave labor force to built Treng’s great sub-particulate antennas. Even since then, the darkness was always just one step behind her, waiting around every corner, under the bed, and most importantly, behind her eyelids. The faces of all of the people she had killed, and perhaps worse, the ones she had left behind, waiting at the window until they withered and died.:: Pavlova: What Starfleet loves most about me is the possibility of my vivisected organs in some secret laboratory unlocking the secrets of making old rich people young again. :: The expression on T’Lea’s face narrowed into a slight frown. She wondered how deeply Starfleet had their claws in her. Or whom had manipulated whom.:: T’Lea: Obviously you have enough influence to prevent that from happening; otherwise you wouldn’t be standing here. Pavlova: Me, influence? Anyway, they’ve already tried, more than once. There were four of us on Kjenta II who were not in stasis, the other three were found in trashbags in San Francisco China Town with their organs harvested. At first Tyr doctoring my medical file made them think I was in stasis the whole time with the other 9, but somewhere along the way someone got a medical scan out, and now they know. T’Lea: You think they’re coming for you? Pavlova: Its been a few months since I sent their last would-be abductor back to them in a box, but they’ll try again, maybe not right away, but eventually. T’Lea: What are you going to do if they try to take you in? Pavlova: Not let them. T’Lea: You do realize that they may not even show their faces. They may blackmail you, manipulate you, or leverage your loved ones until you surrender yourself. If I were you, I would find them before they find you, and I would start with the fecal matter that leaked your medical scan. :: She gave a little shrug at the end, as if trying not to get to involved.:: Pavlova: The release was accidental, I walked a bit too close to a biobed. They’ve already tried for people I care about. Katya was with me the first time they made a move, and they did kill AJ. She may have died from some pollen, but I’m positive it wasn’t accidental. I definitely received that particular message. :: While Irina was talking, T’Lea studied the woman a bit. Admittedly she was handling the murder of her wife really well. Had it been T’Lea she would have gone supernova on the galaxy until it coughed up the people responsible.:: T’Lea: I see. Well, if Oddas means anything to you, then you owe it to her to warn her. If these people are as sinister as you say they are, then she’s not safe. She has a right to know and decide for herself if she wants to risk her neck for… whatever it is you two have going on. :: T'Lea had recalled the intimate moment she'd stumbled on in Engineering between the two, and quickly put it together that they were more than colleagues, or friends. Being the blunt force that she was, T'Lea didn't mind bringing it up. After all, she knew very well the liability of love and family when enemies were out for blood.:: :Irina stopped moving as she was overcome with sadness at the thought of Aria getting in the middle of this.:: Pavlova: You’re right of course. She was just a kid with a funny nose until the night before the wedding. I should know better than to think I could ever find happiness. T’Lea: Oh, please. If *I* can find it anybody can. The hard part is keeping it. :: She thought about how close she’d come to losing Della recently, and how the long distance relationship was making everything that harder.:: Pavlova: They all leave, one way or another. Dimitri died waiting while I was marooned on Kjenta II. AJ died just an hour after our wedding. The sad part is, I wasn’t looking for anything, but I can’t stop thinking about her and when I do, everything else just fades away. :: Uncomfortable with the opening thought of Irina’s confession, T’Lea Vulcan-ed up inside to reject any lingering doubt she had about her own marriage.:: T’Lea: But not Oddas. Pavlova: Well, we didn’t have Bajorans when I come from. ::Irina felt a sudden need to change the subject.:: Pavlova: You still didn’t answer my question though. Computer enhancement? Muscle and/or ocular implants? Both? T’Lea: Yes. ::pause, frown:: You weren’t there for the “off the books” rescue mission to Vetka, were you? :: She was a bit fuzzy on the participating players, because at the time of her rescue her cybernetics had been hijacked by a Cardassian CBI agent, Dal Selta, and T’Lea was not operating under her own accord.:: Pavlova: Yes, but I was busy in Lokesh city at the time. T’Lea: Ah, well, long story short my implants were hijacked and I turned against everyone. ::shaking her head remembering:: It was frakked up. Nearly killed everyone that came to help, including Della, but then that wouldn’t have been the first bondmate I was directly responsible for murdering. ::she shook her head again and quickly moved on:: After Vetka I agreed to allow SFI to upgrade and protect the cybernetics from further security breaches. Only now… :: She looked thoughtfully at her hands, letting her worry hang in the air.:: Pavlova: So do you know what SFI added or changed? T’Lea: Just what they promised me. But since my mother was directly involved… I don’t know for certain. They may have protected me from outside hacking, but… Pavlova: But you have no idea if they put in a back door. :: She sneered at Irina.:: T’Lea: You just had to say it, didn’t you? Anyway, while I was on the Invicta, SFI assigned a handler to me. They were supposed to watch me, run tests, and update the implants now and then, and I’m sure they were supposed to do some other things that I’m not aware of. Luckily, my handler was a… friend-ish-like person. What’s disconcerting is, now that I’m here no new handler has been assigned. When SFI stops talking, I start to worry. So… ::looking directly at Irina:: … it seems we’re both looking over our shoulders. Pavlova: Knowing SFI like I do, my guess is that you have a handler here too, just not revealed to you. T’Lea: I hate that idea even more. Now I don’t know who to harass. ::she gave a little shrug:: I’ll find out. :: A call to her mother would be enough, she hoped. If her mother didn’t know, then it would be time to worry.:: T’Lea: Well, if you ever need me to kill something for you, let me know. :: An offer like that from T’Lea wasn’t in jest, even though that’s what I may have sounded like. She collected the last of her things and prepared to brave the rain once again.:: Pavlova: I’ll keep that in mind. T’Lea: Tell Oddas, I’m looking forward to our date. :: She couldn’t resist tossing that out there. The date was for T’Sara, but it was amusing to think that other thoughts might rub Irina the wrong way. It was just in T’Lea’s nature to do that sort of thing.:: ::Irina saw through the barb immediately, both due to being present at T’Lea and Della’s wedding herself, and what she had come to know of Oddas. Pavlova: Well, I can tell you that those ridges on her nose aren’t sharp. -end- Major Irina Pavlova Chief of Security Duronis Embassy / USS Thunder Author ID 0238908HA0 and Lieutenant Commander T’Lea Chief Science Officer Historian & Archaeology Specialist Embassy, Duronis II Author ID I238301T10
  22. ((USS Darwin-A, Sickbay)) ::Ren had no conscious awareness that he had been moved to the special quarantine aboard Darwin, but some part of him sensed he was caught in a transporter beam, and knew he was placed gently in a reclining position, separated from the shoulder of a captain he didn’t know yet. The puddle of drool he’d left had soaked through the captain’s uniform enough to still be present when they awoke later, but for now, Ren contented himself to curl up where he was left, and continue dreaming, breathing the clean, quarantined Darwin air.:: ((Ren’s Dream)) ::Arnom, that mysteriously unsymbiotic symbiont who served as the master of ceremonies to Ren’s afterlife, or dream, or whatever this happened to be, had already sent Ren through two dreams. In one, he saw what life might have been like if Navin was still alive. In another more nightmarish landscape, he saw what his fate could be if he chose to try again with Sovak.:: ::Now, Ren was deposited into a third and final dream, wandering out of the bright white mist onto a familiar scene. He emerged from a turbolift onto a Starfleet bridge, not one he knew, not even a class of ship that was real, but the whole thing was so Starfleet. In his dream state, he knew he had been there before. This was his ship. This was his crew. This was the future.:: Tarch: Captain on the bridge! ::The crew rose and stood to face him, all smiles. Ren blushed.:: Rennyn: Who, me? Ravenscroft: Welcome back, Captain Ren! We’ve been waiting for you. ::Ren paused in his celebration, and started to look more closely at the faces around him. Why was his ship crewed by dead people? Barbara Tarch stood proudly as his first officer, in her old maroon uniform with the white collar, her jacket buttoned uncomfortably high. Emerson Ravenscroft’s bright auburn hair and warm smile looked impossibly real, but he couldn’t be true. He was long gone now. And Mort Opfer was there. What was a deck chief doing on the bridge? Especially one who was dead?:: Rennyn: Am I dead? Opfer: Not yet, guy. But don’t worry. You’re getting there. ::A warm shimmer of light captured Ren. This dream was taking a dark direction, but suddenly there was blue light, and Ren was taken from the place that was killing him, and deposited somewhere safe. In his dream state, it was a long, protracted process that he observed as an outsider.:: Ravenscroft: Where’d the captain go? Rennyn: You guys, I’m right here. Tarch: Fire all torpedoes! Opfer, scramble all the jets! Launch the megazords! Power up the noisy crickets! Dispatch the battlemech! Call in Mega Maid! Rennyn: Yeah, but, you guys, I’m right h-- Oh! ::He was suddenly not right there. He was, instead, on a planet, alone in a barren, rocky landscape. Alone except for a Gorn who was bearing down on him in his clumsy but powerful way.:: Rennyn: What the--? ::Ren grappled with the Gorn. The Trill’s shirt was artfully ripped open for some reason, exposing one shoulder and part of his chest, heaving now with the effort of fighting off the powerful enemy. The struggle was tough, but Ren felt exhilarated. He knew more now about what it meant to be in command of a starship, and just how much it took, but when he was a kid, this right here was exactly what he thought it would be like!:: ::Just when the powerful Gorn seemed to have the upper hand, something magical happened. Ren was aware of a purple cloud gathering above them. It swooped down and swarmed the Gorn’s face, confusing the lizard and causing him to release his death grip on Ren. The Gorn ran away.:: Rover: It is Rover! ::Ren looked up in delight at the sound of the squeaky, excitable little voice. His friend was back! Rover was his mischievous cloudy self again, and all was right in the universe!:: Rennyn: How is this possible? Rover: Spotted One, you healed Rover with the power of your love! Rennyn: That makes so much sense! ::With Rover finally at his side -- or, suspended somewhere over his shoulder -- again, Ren was finally at peace. He was living his best dream, and he could be exactly what he wanted to be. He could have it all! His shirt torn artfully open, and a proud look on his face, he struck a heroic pose with one leg up on an outcropping and his chest heaving broadly.:: ::It wasn’t about being a captain. It was wasn’t about commanding his own ship. If Ren was second officer for the rest of his life, he would be happy, as long as he got to be the one thing he’d always dreamed of being, lying in a field in Arnmere gazing up at the stars. As long as he got to pull up from the drudgery Starfleet sometimes became, and be just the thing the wanted to be…:: Rennyn: Space hero! ::Rover was part of it, but this was the real dream Arnom was showing him. To prove it, the dream kept on giving.:: ::A storm of troopers in white helmets thundered over the horizon, and only Ren could stop them.:: ::He shot his laser effortlessly, and hit everything he meant to. All the return fire missed.:: Rennyn: Pew! Pew! Pew! ::To the victor went the spoils, and Ren happily accepted a large delivery of pizzas.:: Rover: Rover wishes Rover had a stomach! ::Someone was rubbing Ren’s shoulders, and another was feeding him slices with pepperoni and mushroom. It was the hunky Orion bartender from Outpost Unity, and some kind of sultry cat man. Ren found himself purring.:: Rennyn: Space babes! How YOU doin’? ::A plate appeared in the air before him, and the cat man took it down with one paw. Ren’s eyes went wide in excitement.:: Rennyn: NACHOS! ::Rover was playing electric guitar riffs and the Orion had duplicated himself to massage Ren’s feet. Everything was awesome! Ren leaned back across the cat man’s lap and sighed in deep contentment. His was a charmed life with barely a problem in it. Even the rocky landscape had been replaced with a luxury resort, with lush greenery, no tourists, and bottle service to the hot tub.:: ::Then Ren’s head turned to the side, and his eyes opened slightly, and he almost choked on a pizza-nacho combo bite when he saw that cheap plastic gate again. It was just like the first one he’d stepped through, at Arnom’s insistence. He knew this meant his dreams were coming to an end. Just like the other dreams, he knew this life wasn’t quite right. But it sure did feel good while it lasted.:: ::Ren had been obedient to Arnom throughout this ordeal, following through each gate no matter how difficult it was. This time, the feeling of a warm coat of fur against his cheek and the offer of a blue margarita with a lot of ridiculous umbrellas in it made Ren reconsider. He called out towards the gate.:: Rennyn: Five more minutes, Arnom! Half an hour, tops! ::Ren turned back to the scene at hand, and was pleased to find there was now three of the Orion. This dream was going well.:: Rennyn: Hey Rover. Why don’t you go see if there’s some other kids to play with? ::He hated to chase the little cloud away so soon, but there were six muscular green arms holding slices of pizza, and to be honest, it wouldn’t be fair in front of someone who didn’t have a stomach or taste buds.:: ::The dream faded to PG. No one wanted to see Ren eat that much pizza.:: LtCmdr Ren Rennyn First Officer USS Blackwell, Andaris Task Force A239102RR0
  23. ((Burellion, Azinda, Consortium HQ, Sub Basement Level 7)) ::Stalking through the corridors, Dominic Gray inspected his new domain. The Consortium’s new HQ went above and beyond any mere tower. Set on the edge of the city it was practically a whole new district in its own right. It’s two towers situated at 0 and 180 degrees around a circular ring of flats looked down upon the rest of the city. The HQ formed the shape of the Consortium’s logo and was visible from space. They had very much stamped their mark on this planet. The towers housed their pharmaceutical and heavy industries respectively, with the lower levels reserved for industrial operations and machinery, while the upper levels were related to the managerial aspects of running a galactic corporation - marketing, finances, legal department and much much more. It was no wonder they needed such dominant and far reaching towers as big as their ambition. The deepest, most secret and secure levels were for the special projects. These were need to know and he was directly in charge of most of it. This was his domain and down here, he was king.:: Richardson: Jasin Maradere was quite impressed with our investment here and of course the access to skilled workers will help us recover our strength after the unfortunate loss of the Vanquish. Tor’kath let his success go to his head. He got sloppy and all his plans went awry but you know what they say... “the best laid schemes of mice and men do often go awry.” I can’t have another incident like that Mr Gray, I must and will protect my business interests with any means necessary. ::While it was clearly good news that their settlement here was going well, they wouldn’t have lost business and been forced to move out here had it not been for Tor’kath. Dr Richardson was a man with little patience for fools and no tolerance of mistakes. Since the Federation started poking around and investigating the Vanquish and other assets the CEO had been especially difficult to work with. When he told you heads would roll, he meant it. Right now his menacing tone betrayed his fury that one of their most important special projects had hit the rocks. This was down to one of his own people - Natalya Lagunova but as lead developer the buck stopped with him. He would make her pay for her failure, for making him look incompetent in front of the boss! He had given her a spearhead class ship for the smuggling operation. The CSS Repulse was fast, maneuverable and tough. It didn’t have a lot of raw firepower but it’s EM warfare systems could lock down enemy systems, leaving them disabled and unable to prevent them fleeing to distant lands. He rounded on his boss, as his own short fuse sparked. He had already explained the cause of the setback and the individual behind it so there was no point rehashing the same points repeatedly.:: Gray: It is the plans of lesser men that go awry. ::He ran a hand through his cropped black hair, which was flecked with grey, giving it a tousled look. The back of his hand swiped his rough chin as he cooled his demeanour and sought to remind Victor just how valuable an asset he was to The Consortium. His proven track record and talent for disposing of the competition had easily secured him this position and he had no desire to lose everything he’d worked so hard to gain.:: Gray: Being as resourceful as I am, I was able to develop a cheaper substitute. Not only have we claimed three months back from the initial setback, we’ll save billions of bars of latinum in the long run - not to mention the heat generated by efforts to acquire biomimetic gel. ::Of course there was a catch, several actually. The product was being of lower quality, not suitable for use in all experiments. It wouldn’t eliminate their need for biomimetic gel, it would merely reduce it. The fact that the substitute was more unstable and hazardous than the real deal made it a poor long term solution in his mind. However, the ultimate goal was to start production of biomimetic gel in their own facilities and plans for a small manufacturing plant had already been passed to fabrication. The underground site was being dug out and fortified as they spoke.::Richardson: In that case it won’t bother you to hear that this Captain Renos has been placed in charge of an operation in the region then? Gray: What? ::He turned his head, steely grey eyes met Dr Richardson’s. This was the first he’d heard of any operation involving the Federation, nevermind this Captain Renos. They couldn’t be here simply on their account surely? It worried him little. The Federation had no territory, very little presence and less influence out here. They were all aware that House Larokon would be little more than fair weather friends, but as long as looking after Consortium interests was in their interests they could do as they pleased.::Richardson: Official line is that they are here as peacekeepers, responding to Caraadian pleas for help in the war against the Valcarians.::A war they intended to profit from considerably.::Gray: Unofficially? Richardson: I have it on good authority they plan to ‘keep an eye on us’. ::He paused for dramatic effect:: I thought it might be nice to extend the hand of hospitality to our suspicious neighbours to personally show them what an upstanding business we run here.Gray: Wonderful. ::In an oily manner::::A sly smile crept across his face, which was mirrored by the man before him who was both his employer and mentor.::Richardson: I’m headed up to the core. I have a meeting at 2 to discuss the Scorpous serum. Our new friends are very keen to see a sample in action to verify the effectiveness of the product. They will suffer no more delays Gray. You will have your deadline by 5pm and you will rise to the challenge because the consequences of failure would be dire indeed.PNPCs Dr Richardson, CEO and Dr Dominic Gray lead developer at The ConsortiumSimmed by:-Fleet Captain Renos - Commanding Officer, Andaris Task Force * Executive Council & Captain's Council Member * Academy Commandant A238805EB0
  24. ((Bridge, USS Discovery)) Oddas: =/\= Ideally the Thunder would be assisting in this maneuver but the damage was more extensive than we thought. I just re-calibrated the tractor beams, but at this rate I'm going to need to do it again in about 20 minutes. =/\= Waltas::Checking the navigation chart:: =/\= 20 minutes should be all we need. =/\= Oddas: =/\= We should be in range of the Sand Bar by then, we'll have to drop out of Quantum Slip Stream then anyway. As soon as we do, I recommend we drop all of the tractor beams as soon we're out of the stream. =/\= Waltas: =/\= Since the Thunder only has thrusters that could be a problem. She won't be able to make it on her own without some help and we've got company closing in on us. ::He paused, thinking:: Lieutenant, once we drop out of the slipstream I want you to transfer every ounce of power to the impulse engines. Take it from everywhere but life support and the tractors. =/\= Oddas: =/\= Can do sir, but care to ... =/\= Waltas: =/\= I'm going to see how my starshp-tossing skills have fared. I've done it once before. ::looking at Mitchell and grinning:: It was fun. =/\= Oddas: =/\= Sir, I don't think the Discovery is going to be pilotable under those conditions, the sheering forces from the slipstream are going to try and tear the nacelles off the ship. =/\= Waltas: =/\= You let me worry about the helm. Just get me that power. Waltas out. =/\= ::Tyr could imagine right now Oddas was muttering about unrealistic demands made by Captains and he smiled, then sat back in the seat. His idea was just as insane as it was the first time he'd done it, when he launched a Miranda-class starship out of the hold of the USS Odyssey and used its inertia to force it to collide with the USS Constitution, ending a climactic battle between the two starships and bringing his former Captain to justice.:: Mitchell: Just don’t miss. The last time was a little close. Waltas: Let's hope we have the same positive result. I don't want you to go back and have to explain how your little evaluation cruise resulted in the destruction of the Discovery. Get me the Thunder. Mitchell: ::chuckling:: Well, Raj is technically on the hook since he signed the forms. I’ll just the be one having to fix it all. ::pressing the needed keys:: Comm’s up. ::The viewscreen snapped on and Tyr was eye-to-eye with Jorey.:: Waltas: =/\= Commander, our "friends" are approaching quickly and we're going to turn and confront them. We're going to attempt to slingshot the Thunder through the sandbar and get you home. When you're out of jamming range, I need you to contact Chang and the Bronwyn and have them get underway to rendezvous with us in case we need assistance. =/\= Jorey: =/\= Of course. But I don't have to tell you that if we have incoming, it's very likely that Director Chang already knows. As for being slingshot through the sandbar corridor… well at least I can say it's not the craziest thing the Thunder has had to endure today. =/\= Waltas: =/\= We're sitting ducks with you between our nacelles. one stray torpedo could destroy both ships. I don't think we have any other choice. =/\= Jorey: =/\= I differ to the expertise our engineers and scientists. =/\= Waltas: Stand by. I'd recommend reinforcing the dampers. This won't be a smooth ride. Waltas out. ::Time, as it was wont to do, passed all too quickly, and the time for the insane maneuver came. Tyr looked over at T'Lea.:: Waltas: Let's hope our luck with crazy maneuvers holds. Anders, take us out of warp, then I have the helm. ::Tapping the comm panel:: =/\= Bridge to engineering. We're dropping out of the slipstream. Transfer all power on my mark. =/\= Oddas: =/\= We're ready sir. =/\= ::Anders dropped the Discovery and Thunder out of the slipstream, with the ships emerging still in their configuration, but the tractor beams violently fluxuating.:: Mitchell: Tractor beams are about to blow! Waltas: Understood. =/\= Bridge to engineering-transfer power now! =/\= Oddas: =/\= Initiating =/\= ::The lights on the bridge dimmed as every kilojoule of power was dumped into the impulse engines, which flared a fiery red in response. The ship vibrated with as the engines "redlined".:: Waltas: Computer, activate manual steering column. ::With an obedient beep, a panel on the deck of the bridge slid open and a column emerged, with a flight-stick reminiscent of military jets of ancient earth emerged. Tyr gripped the flight stick and depressed the trigger, signalling full impulse. The Sovereign-class blazed forward at break-neck speed toward the sandbar.:: Waltas: Where's our friends, Mitchell? Mitchell: Closing way faster than I’d like. Waltas::Shaking his head:: We're out of time. =/\= Waltas to Thunder, brace for inertia. =/\= Mitchell, disengage tractors on my mark. T'Lea, try to compensate for the inertia as much as you can. T'Lea: Aye Mitchell: Finger’s on the button. ::Tyr pulled hard on the flight control, banking the massive starship hard to port and rolling her onto her side.:: Waltas: Release the tractors! ::On the viewscreen, the two starships separated, and the Thunder was catapaulted, inverted, deep into the sandbar while Discovery banked away and turned her bow to the threat. Both ships shuddered with the effort, but both survived, and the Thunder was well on her way through the Sandbar.:: Waltas::Mimicking T'Lea's voice:: Huh. What do you know? It worked. T'Lea: ::mumbling:: …smartass… Waltas::Chuckling, touching the comm panel:: =/\= Bridge to Engineering. Well done. The Thunder is on her way. Return power levels to normal. =/\= Oddas: =/\= Understood Sir. =/\= Waltas: Now let's see what our friends want. Red alert, Mitchell. Mitchell: Roger that. ::He hit his favorite button, the big red one sending full power to the shields and phasers, darkening the bridge and sliding torpedoes into the tubes.:: Wait…hang on, contact’s fadding out. Their gone. Odd….. Waltas::Frowning:: They cloaked. Romulans. Mitchell: Gee haven’t we been here before. But they’d be the only thing out this way beside us. Waltas: T'Lea scan for neutron radiation. Get me a fix on them if you can. T'Lea: Aye ((Space)) ::The Discovery stood, indominable, blocking the way to the crippled Thunder and the sandbar, and in proxy to the Embassy itself. Her shields snapped on and deadly weapons went to full power, waiting on the adversaries to reveal themselves.:: ================================== Captain Tyr Waltas Commanding Officer USS Discovery C237910TW0
  25. (( Deep Space 26, Central Hub Level 3, Starfleet Intelligence Sector Chief’s Office )) ::When fully illuminated, the office looked completely normal, like any other Starfleet installation anywhere else in the galaxy. At the moment, however, with the lights low and flickering, and the station’s natural green glow cast about, the place looked eerie, sinister, as if something were afoot around every corner. Like one might think an intelligence office should look, if all he had for reference were holosuite programs about espionage and interstellar intrigue.:: ::In this office, nothing could be further from the truth. On most days, it more closely resembled an office block at Starfleet Accounting than an intelligence outfit. The men and women who staffed this location were data analysts, not field operatives. They pored over information that came in from across the neighboring sectors, finding commonalities and drawing connections between things that were otherwise dissimilar. Or at least they had been doing so, before they all fell asleep.:: ::Tucked away in his office, Yogan Yalu had all but face-planted onto his trio of computer terminals, the data streaming down the screens in rows of letters and numbers. The 42-year-old Trill officer had a sorely disappointing fantasy life, seldom dreaming about much at all besides his work. For some reason, however, this sleep was different. It was deep and full of vivid imagery, with characters from his own and four previous lifetimes making random appearances, one immediately after the other.:: ::He saw Vorss, the third husband of his fourth host, chatting over a raktajino with Viyana, the mother of his first host. And his own new bride, Zenna, whom he married earlier this year and was now carrying their first child, was hunched over a dom-jot table, in the middle of a match with his second host’s childhood best friend.:: Yalu: What is going on? ::No one answered him. They continued about their business, mingling with each other like guests at a dinner party. As they faded from view, they were replaced with others, and Yogan knew them all. Nearly two hundred fifty years’ and five lifetimes’ worth of friends, acquaintances, lovers, relatives, and friends, cascaded before him in a way that filled him with dread.:: Yalu: Is this what happens when you’re about to die? ::From his extensive work alongside humans, Yogan had heard of a phenomenon in which one’s life “flashed” before one’s eyes when facing imminent death. He thought it to be rubbish, like most aspects of human culture, but couldn’t ignore the similarity of that phenomenon to what he was currently experiencing.:: Zenna: Would you like to play? ::Yogan’s wife casually beckoned him to join their game of dom-jot, but his confusion only paralyzed him further. He looked at Zenna, heavily pregnant, with suspicion.:: Yalu: You only found out you were pregnant two weeks ago. You’re not showing yet. ::Zenna immediately vanished, as did her anachronistic dom-jot partner. They were replaced by two other figures from Yalu’s past lifetimes, but their faces and names blurred in his memory, and he couldn’t remember which host they belonged to. Was it Idarro’s favorite aunt? Or Ethezia’s university professor? Oled’s best friend? Or Mavili’s obnoxious neighbor?:: ::His entire life had been devoted to understanding and processing data, but he was unable to make heads or tails of what was unfolding before him. Unaware that he was dreaming, he was confounded by how flagrantly the universe betrayed the rules of logic and physics.:: ::From the distance, four figures emerged and began walking toward him. Unlike the flurry of relatives and business associates that had been milling about, Yogan had no trouble recognizing this quartet. They were his symbiont’s previous hosts. The four people who, despite having lived in different times, he knew better than anyone else. The four people with whom he, someday, would exist alongside, within a new host. As they neared, he felt their collective presence, which triggered his own sense of inferiority. They were great, he was average. They were worthy of the gift of joining, he was not.:: ::They closed the distance and stood before him, side by side.:: Hosts: You still have much to learn. Lt Cmdr Yogan Yalu Starfleet Intelligence Data Cruncher Deep Space 26 as simmed by Lt Cmdr Didrik Stennes Lead Counselor USS Blackwell NCC-58999 Justin D238804DS0 FNS Contributor "There is but little need to spend time with foolish diversions for time flies away so swiftly by itself; and, when once gone, is never to be recalled."
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