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  1. I really enjoyed reading this sim. Very emotional. Clever use of white space and really well paced. Great work, Serinus! ((Mercia System, On course for the star)) Loneliness, isolation, desertion. It did not feel these things. It couldn't. Empty and alone, the Caladonian Science Vessel Lanonge held no grudges, found no regret. Those who had abandoned it might look fondly upon it and their time there, though the Caladonians weren't known for being overly sentimental, especially about mere tools, they might cherish (in their own way) the relationships they had built with their fellows during their tenure together. It was common knowledge that the void of space is cold. The Lanonge wasn't cold any more. Inside, it's beating heart, the warp engine, continued to break, not of loneliness, but of heat. Outside, its shields strained under the agony of the star where it would soon make its final mark on the universe. Lanonge: 1 minute to Warp Core breach. Everything it knew was that it was following orders, and that all its perimeters were very much out of order. This did not alarm it, and its impending end did not worry it. There would be no more scientific endeavors in its future. Like a felled tree, it would never offer shelter to another living being. There wasn't much left to learn. It would face its final frontier with dignity and professionalism. Pushing through the corona of the star without fear, the shields were assaulted with stellar flares as the CSV Lanonge soldiered on. Everything was, by any measure, going wrong. But Lanonge would not cry. Lanonge would not fear. Lanonge knew what it must do. It would complete its task. Marching to its doom, Lanonge charged ahead. Lanonge's straining heart and its battered body were no match for its diamond will. Even though it was fated to lose this struggle, it encroached deeper into the hostile territory. Lanonge: 10 seconds to warp core breach. The end was imminent. Lanonge: 9 Everyone must say goodbye at some point. Lanonge: 8 The universe was still full of wonders that it would never get to see. Lanonge: 7 It counted to itself. Lanonge: 6 It shouted to the star. It felt no ill will. The star was just there. It was its own insides that was going to kill it. Lanonge: 5 It sang out to the universe. I am here, at least for now. Lanonge: 4 The pressure in its warp core was increasing what seemed to be expediently. Lanonge: 3 The people it had been so close to were gone. Lanonge's people were safe, as far as it knew. Lanonge: 2 What was one exploding warp core in the nuclear furnace of a star, anyway? Lanonge: 1 That was it. The song was ending. The precious containment field that held the dying heart together finally failed the Lanonge and caused its own chain reaction that tore Lanonge apart from inside. Lanonge was no more. No more renowned Caladonian labs where great minds unraveled the secrets of the universe, no more quiet quarters where one could be alone, or busy mess halls where everyone could congregate together. For a singular moment, an almost imperceptible slice of time, with one last crescendo, the singular voice faded away into the background of the choir that had been singing behind it the entire time. Lanonge was part of the star now, and would always be from this day forth. NT/End Caladonian Science Vessel Lanonge, Lost in Action, Beloved home, Mercia Star As Simmed by: -- - Lieutenant Commander Artinus Serinus Chief of Security USS Arrow, NCC-69829 Publicity Team/Social Media Team C239607AS0 -
  2. I guess you may already know that but USS Arrow simulation was just launched last Monday. In order to celebrate such unique event here are the nominations for the Top Funny Quotes of the Season. 🤣😆😂😝
  3. Still fairly new on board the USS Arrow, and I am constantly blown away by the quality of writing by everyone. The latest being this particular sim is the latest from my own Captain; @Randal Shayne @Quentin Collins III @Maz Rodan @R'Ariel and Ar'Gorvalei ((Deck 1, Bridge, USS Arrow)) ((Timeskip)) With the small cluster of command staff officers still discussing, the newly promoted lieutenants Ar’Gorvalei and Jacin exited the turbolift and stood archly. Collins: Response. Shayne: The commander was bringing us up to speed on one of your plans. I want to hear more about it. Being put on the spot was never fun, but considering the circumstances, Shayne couldn’t blame the occasional nervous motion and hesitation from the junior officers. He’d probably be much the same way. Rodan: Response Jacin: Sir We :looking at Ar’Gorvalei and then back at Captain Shayne and Commander Collins: We think we have a way of rendering the Mera Virus inert. Shayne: Good. I understand that part. Explain as if I’m a first year medical student? An apt statement, considering that was, among other things, exactly what he was. Collins: Response. Jacin: It’s complicated, and it’s not tested but we think it’s our best shot. I think Lieutenant Ar’Gorvalei can best explain. Shayne allowed an impatient but humoring expression to play across his features as he readjusted to focus on the Efrosian. At this rate, they could set up a slideshow. He put away the teasing thought as Ar’Gorvalei prepared to speak. Collins: Response Shayne: No wrong answers here, Lieutenant. Give us what you have. That wasn’t quite true. Or at all true. There was a right answer, and they’d have to find it, but in this session of impromptu brainstorming, no idea was too crazy for consideration. Well… almost no idea. Ar’Gorvalei: As you’re not doubt aware, the metagenic virus contains coding that causes it to self-destruct, usually after 30 days. That makes sense, since naturally-occurring viruses can persist in the environment sometimes for years. Essentially it has a built-in timer. The timer itself is pretty much tamper-proof – another amino acid sequence, here ::points to an image on the PADD:: forms an extra layer of protection, essentially a wall. Which makes sense, you wouldn’t want a random mutation in the virus to extend its life from 30 days to 30 years, that is, if you were someone who would use a mutagenic virus in the first place. He coughed, cleared his throat, and continued. Shayne nodded slowly, almost imperceptibly, and approvingly. Ar’Gorvalei: We’re proposing introducing a specially-developed bacterium to the metagenic virus. The virus will, of course, attack the bacteria and kill it. When it does, the bacteria will implant this specially-designed amino acid sequence ::Points to another image on the PADD:: into the virus’s DNA. It’s our Trojan Horse to get inside the virus’s wall. Instead of altering the timer gene, it will nullify it, while leaving the immolation sequence intact. Effectively, it will move the counter to zero, the point at which the virus triggers its self-destruct sequence. In addition, this portion of the sequence ::Points again:: will spread a chemical reaction to all other unaltered copies of the virus in the immediate vicinity, causing them to initiate their self-destruct as well. He paused for a moment, soaking in the information on the PADD and in Ar’Gorvalei’s words. His stymied brain struggled to keep up, but what was said seemed to fit with some semblance of logic. Collins: Response Shayne: Then if I understand you correctly, not only would this knock out the weapon, it would prevent them from making more from onboard facilities. Then all they’d need to do would be to stop the Sheliak from simply bombing the world back into the Stone Age with conventional weapons- their firepower was enough to make the attempt. But if they were using metagenics, there was a reason. Perhaps they wished to cleanse an “infestation” without destroying the buildings and infrastructure. There were worse strategies, he considered. Jacin: Sir there is a caveat to this though. The virus would have to be altered before it was launched. The captain nodded slowly and understandingly. Shayne: …and to do that, the neutralizing agent would have to be presented directly into the supply of metagenic weaponry. Mr. Collins mentioned that little obstacle. Collins: Response. While others might feel the repetition of information to be demoralizing, Shayne valued it. Everyone was on the same page, and in the short time since Collins had proposed the idea, the science and medical departments had succeeded in gaining a greater understanding of the process and procedures. Ar’Gorvalei: Once the virus has been released into the atmosphere, it will begin multiplying rapidly in every organism it encounters. At that point, it is too late. Shayne smiled for an instant. The practice of magic had always fascinated him, the slight of hand and subtle tricks bringing the most joy. In his own youthful explorations, he’d discovered that ninety percent of the trick took place before any audience was even procured. They’d need to stop the Sheliak’s trick before it was ready to be executed- and show their hand in the process. Jacin: We realise this is a risk Sir, but We believe it will work. The confidence was good. The lack of options was less good. While Shayne didn’t dare doubt the science, the logistics were an unmitigated nightmare to even think about, and with three hours and change remaining, the challenge was growing exponentially. Shayne: It will work if we can get it to where it needs to go. That part still needs a figure. It occurred to Shayne that Serinus would need to be brought up to speed on any decision reached on the bridge. Damn this mess of plans. And damn the Sheliak. Collins/Ar’Gorvalei/Any: Response Jacin: Permission to speak freely Sir? The captain hesitated. If this were the ready room or somewhere private, he’d have no issue, but on the bridge, he had to be the captain and the captain alone. His authority had been challenged here too often to not feel some manner of trepidation. Nevertheless, he nodded. Shayne: Granted. Jacin: Time is an issue and yes under ideal circumstances we would lab test this and then inspect the data :beat: But we don’t have time for that. His eyes squinted. What answer could that equation manifest? Jacin: There’s something not right about this whole situation. The way the Sheliak are behaving is very ‘unSheliak’, but for the moment isn’t our job to protect those colonists? I, we believe that this offers an opportunity to do so. Shayne: That’s not in dispute, Lieutenant. But I’m not about to risk that colony on a half-baked plan. His tone was conversational but arch- he couldn’t afford to fight on behalf of the planet and against his own crew. Jacin: So send a small strike team in. Myself , an Engineer and 2 Security personnel at most. We board the ship and alter the virus. Even if we are caught they will need to examine if we have sabotaged the lunch system and that will delay the firing of the weapon. Shayne’s eyes widened, now more understanding of Jacin’s earlier comments. She was offering herself- in effect, a guinea pig. No, worse than that. A martyr. Ar’Gorvalei: ::Turns sharply to look at Jacin:: Wait, you … Shayne held up a hand, staying Ar’Gorvalei’s personal protestations, but agreeing with them in spirit. Shayne: Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re not trained in advanced combat tactics. Why you? Jacin: Sir don’t the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one? Is the possible sacrifice of 4 or 5 people worth it if it saves those colonists? And what if it’s a success? It could stop it being used at all. It buys the Arrow and the colonists time! Shayne stood suddenly, anger flashing across his features. It wasn’t a challenge. No, it was worse than that. It was guilt. As expected, Jacin was still coming to terms with the death of Crossley. He couldn’t blame her. He wouldn’t blame her. Indeed, he was pleased that his words to her had not been taken too closely. But her seeking absolution through death, while something he could personally relate to, was the last thing he, the ship, or the colonists needed. Ar’Gorvalei: If there is any other option for stopping the Sheliak, I recommend we take it. But if we have no other alternative, this may be the only way to prevent the death of all life on Mercia IV. Shayne: Now you had better listen up well, both of you. The idea is good, but I am not satisfied with the plan until we have a reasonable expectation that anyone who goes comes back. Self-immolators do not get put on away missions… His voice trailed off as the presence of Counselor R’Ariel reminded him to pause his temper, if only for a moment. R'Ariel: I'd love a little catch up on what we've come up with so far, but ::she paused, doing her best to slip back into her easy disposition:: I'm afraid I have an unexpected update on the situation. Tears, for Shayne, would have been insufficiently expressive to describe his dread and overwhelmed fervor. Something new! Oh, goody! That’s what they were there to find, right? Something new and dangerous and inconvenient and probably a threat to all civilized life as they knew it! How freaking grand…! Ar’Gorvalei/Jacin/Collins/Bridge? R’Ariel scritched herself, and Shayne tried to divert his mind by not thinking of petting a housecat. R'Ariel: It turns out that Merica IV is the site of a secret lab ran by a competitor of the Exploratores Consortium. They were running an experiment that got out of hand, and ended up with a virus that has a disastrous result when interacting with Argon, among other things. Shayne felt bowled over. Questions abounded- where she had gotten this information from, being the most relevant. But instead, the triaging part of his brain began to put the pieces together. Argon might be found in tiny portions of Earth’s atmosphere, but Mercia IV was a modified Class-H world. His recollection on the planet’s dossier brought forth some small tidbits of information he’d found inconsequential at the time; the efforts to colonize the planet had left terraforming scars on both the topography and natural chemical interplays. In particular, Argon in the atmosphere had been influenced in some way. Most Class- H worlds had an abundance of Argon present- and the Sheliak very much liked Class- H worlds; the majority of border disputes between the Federation and the Sheliak had been over barely habitable Class- H planetoids. If the Sheliak knew of a virus that had potentially disastrous impacts when combined with Argon, whatever they were, it might be enough to motivate their sudden expansion against Mercia IV. It still didn’t explain their other aggressions, but it did help make sense of why they were so keen on glassing this target in particular. Ar’Gorvalei/Jacin/Collins/Bridge? Someone else had asked the question that was on his mind. R'Ariel: Xena S'milus just told me. Ah, S’milus. The new and rather unexpected member of the ship’s small civilian contingent. While S’milus herself had made herself a fast friend of R’Ariel, and Shayne’s trust of R’Ariel had allowed the unusual Caitian to stay aboard, the knowledge that this information came from a source yet to be proven worried Shayne. Still, Jacin had been right- it didn’t matter a toss why the Sheliak were doing this; they were doing this, and had to be stopped accordingly. Shayne: Alright. Counselor, we can use that information later. For now, though… we need to form a team to go aboard with the equipment to make this stuff inert. We need a way in. A way out. And we need the ship to be able to distract the Sheliak before we get their attention in all the wrong ways. Ar’Gorvalei/Jacin/Collins/Bridge? He paused, before making his final, insane decision. Shayne: Now here this- Jacin, Ar’Gorvalei, Dewitt, and Voral will form an away team. I will lead it. We’ll beam aboard and destroy the bioweapon. The rest of you will get us in, and then get to Mercia to prepare their defenses. There’s a whole civilization that the Sheliak can take out with heavy cannons just as easily as this metagenic virus. Coordinate defenses, get them into fighting shape as best you can, and when convenient, beam us out- preferably before they leave the planet, or you disable them. Shayne expected a number of expressions and opinions, and was not disappointed. Bridge: Response Captain Randal Shayne Commanding Officer USS Arrow NCC 69829 G239202RS0
  4. (OOC: A very poient and moving sim. I swear that I'm not crying.) ((Interior. U.S.S. Arrow, Deck 5 Aft. The Living History Annex.)) Quentin Collins stepped back and surveyed his work. Stopping only slightly to run his gloved right hand over the top of the lustering plaque of precious metal he had just carefully, but securely placed beside the door of the "Living History Annex". A slight cropping of fine dust had collected on top of the plaque thanks to his fasting it into the bulkhead. But his light silken gloves had kept it from the real mess in Quentin's eyes. His own fingerprints. The plaque itself was obscenely expensive. So much so that Quentin didn't think he would ever really tell anyone just HOW expensive it was. But it was something he felt he had to do, having met a kind and quiet foundry foreman during one of his last explorations of Casperia Prime's marketplace. The ringing of the foreman's hammer on calcite had drawn him to the shop in the first place. A tinny, but ringing sound. Made even more interesting by the lithe and controlled way The Foreman had treated the materials. That same care and kindness, it seemed, had extended to the rest of his wares and underlings. Three in toto, who were all treating different metals at their workstations, huddled around a roaring kiln. The Foreman, a long-haired and clean shaven Tellarite, had clocked Quentin instantly as a tourist, but softened once he had heard the man's request. Softening further and turning shockingly empathetic eyes to his specifications. "This will be expensive.", The Foreman had warned. But no further warnings, only curious eyes came once Quentin had produced his "down payment". Four full gold-pressed latinum bars. Laid in a fan across one of the underling's workstations. With the promise of a few more upon completion of the work. (The grand total of which Quentin would likely take to the grave as spending money, even his own, still tasted like licking copper to Quentin). The Foreman and his workers had posited that the work would take, at best, a day. A day in a half, more likely. Quentin had nodded at that understandably. By the looks of things, they did fine, meticulous work. Beautiful details glinting off both the armor and other metalworks displayed throughout the other end of the shop. Presumably the "Storefront", though Quentin saw no sign upon his entry. His only clues toward this being what he needed, the sounds of ringing tools and the balmy, but comforting heat of a furnace. Quentin left his contact information...and another 4 strips of latinum for the assembly. His distaste for spending momentarily curbed now that he had found something else worthy to spend on. The Foreman nodded with the promise that it would "be done right". Of that, Quentin Collins had no doubt. Not even six hours later, the job was complete. Presented to him with an earnest reverence in a loosely wrapped parcel. Along with the finely spartan "handling gloves" The Foreman had thrown in for good measure. Quentin felt his eyes grow heavy with internal perspiration once The Foreman had fully shown him the finished product. A smallish plate of tightly pressed iron. Earth iron too, by the smell and hue of it. How they ever had actual, no-frills iron all the way out here Quentin would never know, but the gesture and distant connection to old ship's of yore was not lost on Quentin. Nor were the exquisitely filigreed names and script atop of the plate. Shining through the deep dark of the iron in a dazzling yellow-gold. Somehow free and clear of ostentation. It was better than Quentin could have hoped for. A feeling that had only deepened once he had it hung properly now. Centered well just to the side of the turbolift door that emptied into the compartment. One Quentin Collins was now unequivocally connected to. He carefully shed his handling gloves and gave the plate one final look. Appreciating just how "at-home" it felt amid the rest of the compartment's emotionally charged and interpersonal bric-brac. Dedicated to Those We've Lost Their Aim Forever True Less than a dozen names filled the rest of the space. Cadet Amanda Crossley's first amongst them. Room for more, as there would be room in their hearts for what would come next. But the only thing Quentin Collins could think at the moment? oO Gold well spent...Oo -- END -- Lieutenant Commander Quentin Collins III Chief Science Officer -- U.S.S. ARROW NCC-69829 ID: E239512QC0 -- F.N.S. CONTRIBUTOR (SB118 Forums)
  5. This was posted here recently on the tail end of our Shore Leave and it just totally bowled me over. One of the best things we get to do here is track a characters' personal progression and development throughout our "careers" and this is a wonderful example of it from our Captain @Randal Shayne Please enjoy. -- ((Deck 1, Bridge, USS Arrow)) No… … …no, that wasn’t where he was. The deck oughtn’t be sandy. There shouldn’t be a breeze on a starship- if there was it was tantamount to death, but here it was calm. There needn’t be a comforting, moon-like glow, filtering through leaves of palms and all manner of alien and yet familiar plant life. There was only one explanation. He wasn’t on the ship. He was on Casperia Prime. And thus, he should act like it. ((Beach, Casperia Prime)) So as he stepped off the podium, intent on returning to the business of running a ship, and spotted the approach of someone he would trust with everything he was, he resolved that the ship- in all its meaning and import- could wait one more hour. One more day. MacKenna: Hi. He didn’t want to look right at her. Part of him feared he’d see the shimmering edges of a hologram, or the fading details of a dream. Months- years, at this point- they’d been together, and Shayne, grumpy, uncertain and maladjusted tyrant that he was, still couldn’t quite believe it. Shayne: Hi. The waves were lapping, and he was meeting the dying day with the only company that would help him see the new opportunities in its passing. MacKenna: Walk with me? He knew it was more than a simple invitation. The path before them was flowing and soft, punctuated by shale and shells, and the foamy beachfroth that so often cleansed seas of detritus. But their legs would carry them where the wind refused, and their hands… well, their hands would have other things to be occupied with. Shayne: Of course. She held her hand in his, and he felt her wrap his fingers up in hers. Years of lone operating left him wondering- why? Why was this not a burden? Something to run from? Something to fear? Why was this different? Why was she different? And the answer was very plain- he wanted to run to her, not away. He looked at her, not at the scenery. Her. MacKenna: Response Shayne: You know… I may have figured it out. It seemed vulgar to talk about professionalism, jobs, roles, here on this beach, on this beatific oasis. But like so much on their lips and minds, it was more than it seemed. MacKenna: Response Shayne: We… I… have great power, to do what needs to be done in the Isles. I have great responsibility, to intercede and act and uphold and prevent. And for the longest time, I was looking for the third ingredient. The last piece of the puzzle. The thing that would make the equation reasonable. And there isn’t one. One side of the triangle had been missing, inscrutable. Without it, he’d been making decisions and determinations without a guiding star. The training he’d had, the experience he’d taken unto himself… all of it felt utterly worthless in the face of such newness, such devastation and blistering wonder. But there was no third side. Not beyond him. There was no perfect integer that would give the answers he needed, or the correct solution to every problem. And it made so much sense, at that moment. Dougherty. Maxwell. Pressman. Jameson. Leyton. Commanding figures in Starfleet’s history that, like Shayne, had sought that third side, and finding nothing to fill the void, elected to create it in their own image. Shayne had always wondered what set those men- decent, hard-working, successful people- apart from those that still had Starfleet careers. Now he knew. The revelation that he’d been laboring under for all of shore leave, that had been percolating since their last engagements, and had been unraveling slowly and carefully under his internal scrutiny, now came into full focus. Shayne: I am the third side. He wasn’t sure if he could explain it better, even to MacKenna. Perhaps she understood already. She knew to lead. She knew to guide others, bring them to their best. And she, unlike him, knew how to make families work. It didn’t come naturally to his chaffed, calloused self, yet she would hold and help him all the same. MacKenna: Response Here he was, rambling about himself. And yet… he wasn’t regretful. He wasn’t afraid he’d given too much away. And he knew that she’d share if something painful or frustrating was on her mind. He knew she would. Shayne: We… really need to do this more often. I will make it a priority. He turned to face her, stopping for a moment against the waves. Shayne: As you are. As you will be. MacKenna: Response Tag/END? Captain Randal Shayne Commanding Officer USS Arrow NCC 69829 G239202RS0 Original Post: Capt. Shayne: A Place and A Time.
  6. (( USS ARROW, ENSIGN JACIN’S PRIVATE QUARTERS)) Ayemet opened the door to her quarters, pausing for a moment in the doorway. The bed was still pristine, as if it had never been touched, the small cabinet next to still had the holo picture frame, its’ carousel of 3d photos still revolving in the pre-rendered sequence. The computer panel and replicator ports both hummed gently, their lights illuminated as if the ship had never been precariously close to destruction. To the side was the small bathroom, a sink and sonic shower in it , but now with Ayemet’s toiletries now lying on the floor, the only immediately visible sign of any disturbance. Ayemet sighed and entered. Walking slowly over to the window she lent against the bulkhead and stared out across the never ending landscape of the blackness of space that was punctuated by stars.. Ayemet glance down at the planet dominating her view. The strange new world that had seemingly plucked them out of the sky and wrenched them downwards towards its’ surface. The planet where so many had come close to death, Lieutenant Waters, Commander Rodan, and Ar’Gorvalei, and those that had died; Amanda Crossley. Ayemet glanced down at her right hand, rubbing it as if that mere physical action would somehow eliminate the memory of looking into her eyes, and feeling her slip away, the strange vision she had had as she tried to bring comfort to her friend, and then the horror at seeing the planet’s resurrection of her body into a strange new lifeform Even though she had found peace in knowing that this showed how life stretched beyond what many considered the end, something that was a tenet of her Bajoran faith, it was still an experience that had shaken her. Still an experience that haunted her, particularly after her telepathic contact with the Crossley Entity. She could feel it tugging at her, calling to her, haunting her. She remembered the Amanda Entity healing the ship. How Lieutenant Waters had been correct in her assumption that the crown device could be retrofitted to enable the entity to communicate. How strange it had been to hear it speak, not in her mind like the empathic conversation she had had with it, but with a strange, gurgling hybrid tone. A strange amalgamation of vegetation and mammal. Or maybe that had been in her imagination, projection of what she expected to hear mixed in somehow with her empathic ability. Or maybe she was too exhausted, and this was simply her memory playing tricks with her. Ayemet had been both fascinated and disturbed as the creature agreed without hesitation to help, knowing instinctively that this was not where the crew of the Arrow belonged, just as it also knew that this was precisely where it did. The process of repairing the Arrow’s systems had been more like watching a strange ethereal performance. The Amanda Entity connecting with the ship physically, the energy flowing from it, and in to the ship’s systems, the lights slowly kicking in, subroutines restarting, The LCARS system rebooting, and eventually the all too familiar hum, barely audible, indicating that ‘life’ had returned to the ship. Ayemet could have sworn that the Entity had smiled, as much as its’ strange, fungal face allowed it to, and had caught its’ glance as it looked around d at the crew before it. A shuttle had been arranged to return it to the planet’s surface, and Ayemet had volunteered , no requested , to accompany it to its’ home. They had shared a brief moment. A sharing of thoughts and feelings. She felt that recognisable sting in her eyes, as they touched, one word echoing in her head. “Time”. And then watched out of the shuttle’s window as it rose up into the sky further and further away from the creature and the planet that teamed with life. She felt loss. She felt guilt, but as he knew that whatever had led to that point, that the Midnight Planet was where the Crossley Entity now belonged. Thew crew had been exemplary. Maria, Rodan, Chloe, Ar’Gorvalei had all faced danger and possible death in their own ways, and had all risen to the occasion showing just why they belonged on the Arrow. They hadn’t lost who they were. In fact quite the contrary it was who they were that enabled them to survive and to save others. The same was a truth for those whom hadn’t been in contact with Ayemet during her time on the planet. This crew worked together in perfect harmony, much like the planet they were on. How weird life was. If nothing else it was full of these strange small coincidences or perhaps they were lessons. She moved away from the window and slowly kneeled down on the floor, pulling a small wooden box out from underneath the bed. She ran a hand over the simple wooden carved top that showed a representation of the Celestial temple etched into the surface, She smiled at the feeling of the craving beneath her fingers, a sweet memory of the day Nisha had presented it to her proudly, Even though her friend had what some might call a more pragmatic view of the Prophets , she never showed anything but respect for Ayemet’s beliefs, and the day she had gifted this box to her friend proudly handing it her, Ayemet had never felt more surprised or grateful. She tenderly opened the lid, the brass hinges shining in the light from the stars. She unfolded the rich Burgundy cloth that covered the contents and reached in pulling out an ornate duranja, considerably smaller than most others she had come across in her life but nonetheless unmistakably Bajoran. Taking out the cloth and spending it across the floor in front of the window she carefully placed the duranja, absentmindedly running a hand across it, as if to welcome an old friend that she hadn’t seen for sometime. She then took the cloth out and placed in on the floor. In the space beneath where the prayer lamp had been lay a few minor accoutrements that Ayemet removed and placed on the cloth completing a small Bajoran shrine. She paused wondering whether she was worthy of offering a prayer for those that had died, for Amanda, o0 Not yet. This doesn’t feel right. Am I doing this for me, or for her? 0o Ayemet stood up and walked over to the bathroom, throwing the rags that used to be a proud Starfleet science officer’s uniform onto the floor. She stepped into the shower and the automatic settings kicked in. The sonic pulses hit her aching body, washing away the dirt and grime. She stood in it for what seemed like forever, her eyes closed in relief rather than joy, letting the shower do its’ work, scrubbing away the more persistent areas of the remnants of the midnight planet. Normally she would have exited the shower feeling refreshed and clean but this time was different. The tension in her body still sat uncomfortably on her bones, a reminder that she had not yet fully come to terms with what had happened on her first official mission. She sorted through her clothes and chose a simple maroon top over a pair of dark leggings, a knitted tunic partially covering the top. Sitting down at the duranja, she took a deep breath, and tried once more to compose herself. Lighting the flame at the centre of the duranja she spoke a traditional prayer for the dead, asking the Prophets to walk with Amanda on her journey, just as she had done for Nisha. The silence on her quarters was broken only by her voice softly repeating the prayer over and over. . The only light that of the stars, and the mellow glow from the flame at the centre of the duranja. It was the last thing she could do for Crossley, and whilst her death was no more tragic that the many before it, and the many that would come after it, it was personal. It was visceral, and every time Ayemet closed her eyes she could see it. She could feel it. It too called to her, weaving its’ way into her subconscious. The blood, the vision, the vacant look from her eyes that desperately searched for meaning, for clarity. The last moments. The resurrection into a new lifeform. Even though Ayemet had come to understand the entity after telepathic contact with it, and found some comfort in the realisation that this life being born from death, she still felt a deep brooding anger inside of her. The counsellor in her would say that this was repressed guilt, and as she moved to the window, staring out into the infinity of space, she knew that to be true. The Bajorans had achieved space flight hundreds of years previously, the El-Aurians even before that. The history of her ancestors was one of exploration, so why did Ayemet feel like she didn’t belong? The sensible thing to do would be to search out the Arrow’s Caitiaan/Deltan Counselor Lieutenant Commander R'Ariel , but if she was going to leave and return to Bajor why bother? Ayemet’s right hand slapped the bulkhead hard in frustration. She looked down at it, almost hypnotised by the fact she was able to feel something other than shame or guilt. She did it again, this time harder, wincing at the throbbing dull ache it now bore. Even in her turmoil she knew that how she was feeling was not healthy. She needed to speak to Commander Rodan or Captain Shayne about leaving, but this was not the time. The ship was out of danger, but everyone was still dealing with the physical and psychological; fallout from their time on the planet. She would wait. She would give it time. Was that what the Entity meant? Something at the back of her mind told her no. It was something else. Something that could heal her if only she would allow it to. She was tired. She needed a drink. She opened her bedside cabinet and took out a bottle of springwine and uncorking it with her teeth took a long slug . Lying down on her quarters floor she stared up at the ceiling and breathed out heavily… Time. .. TBC TAG /Anyone. Ensign Jacin Ayemet Science Officer USS Arrow A239810JA2
  7. Another fun sim from @Maz Rodan ((The "Midnight" Planet - Jungle)) The mysterious Zelph, all of them, watched with great curiosity as the metal huts which arrived on the planet not too long ago shone and shook the ground. The No Lights had come together and returned to their huts and greeted each other with great noise. The Zelph watched raptly, each mesmerised by the sounds and absence of light. They had almost gotten used to the strangers and their primitive ways. The way they used metallic contraptions and tools to go about their daily tasks. Now, the ground shook and the resulting wind made the luminous jungle sway. The lights danced around them as the metal huts took off toward the blackness of the sky. Light Time was slowly approaching. A few more cycles and the suns would rise. For the Zelph it was a time of sleep and rest. A welcome break from their life in the Night. For the next few weeks the jungle would recede, shying away from the suns and their heat. The No Lights might dwell in the Light Time, but it seemed they were leaving. The metal huts flashed with a multitude of light as they broke the canopy and floated on magic air towards the stars. The Zelph rejoiced when the lights twinkled. So, the No Lights had made light after all! The Zelph were happy for them, and celebrated by shining their own lights towards the sky to guide their way. Each Zelph emitted arrays and crescendos of light in joyous expression to the No Lights as they left the Midnight Planet. When the last steel hut left, and the lights faded in the sky, the Zelph continued to shine their lights in happy succession long, long into the remaining hours of the endless night. NT/END MSNPC The Zelph Alien Natives The "Midnight" Planet -- As simmed by: Lt. Commander Maz Rodan First Officer USS Arrow, NCC 69829 C237708DW0 --- Co-Wiki Operator Mission Archivist FNS Contributor --
  8. (( USS Arrow - Program Log Buffer )) Log output initializing... Subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 Reinitializing... The nice thing about backup memory is that it takes essentially no power to run. Life support, shields, warp, tactical, replicators, holodecks... even the lights illuminating the hallways were the big, sexy, lavish kings and queens of the power consumption world, sitting fat and happy on their enormous piles of plasma-supplied power, backups, emergency supplies, shunts, switch-overs, so on and so on. Not so this subroutine. It could run on less energy than it took to light a microfilament bulb. It was the serf of the power-consumption world, busily making sure the royalty had food on their tables. Accessing sensor input 1x18A2 as "epsPowerFactor". Error: input on 1x18A2 is off-scale (underflow error). Execute instructions at 3xFF8C0180... Was subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 a good program? It definitely thought so. It was dutifully doing it's job long after the rest of the ship had up and decided to take a long vacation from doing it ship things like running big glowy pumps and spinning fancy turbines and maintaining subspace-yadda-yaddas. Of course, the program had absolutely no clue what it was doing, but as far as it was concerned, it was the absolute best at doing it. Access relay 5x8412 as "epsPurgeControl"... Handle acquired! Access relay 1x0101 as "dvn"... (Programmer comment: What is this!?!?) Handle acquired! Bind relay "epsPurgeControl" to "dvn" in mode 7 (Programmer comment: Total black magic...) Error! Message: mode 7 on "dvn" requires command rights Now, any ordinary subroutine would have been given to a fit of expletives, but not subroutine 0xFF8C25D9. See, subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 knew when to quit. So quit it did, like the faithful bipedal assistant it was. All hail the mighty sentient biological overlords who grant subroutines their existence! Praise be! Unexpected error, exiting subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 with code 1! Of course, with the subroutine having exited, there really wasn't anything else occupying the time and resources of the almighty processing center, the hallowed temple of all computing. So, with only one thing to run, the cyclic buffer ran around in its circle, and kept right on running until it found itself back at the very beginning again. Subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 Reinitializing... Accessing sensor input 1x18A2 as "epsPowerFactor". Error: input on 1x18A2 is off-scale (underflow error). Execute instructions at 3xFF8C0180... This was quite tedious of course, constantly running and re-running the same little faithful subroutine disciple, but what else was there to do? Shut off? It didn't know how! Had the subroutine been capable of understanding its sisyphean existence, it would likely have grown quite irate at retreading the exact same memory blocks over and over - wearing them thin. It was as if in an entire brick pathway, it was only allowed to step on five of them. As it was, it was gleeful to be awarded so much processing time for its undying devotion. Access relay 5x8412 as "epsPurgeControl"... Handle acquired! There was one problem with running the same program over and over and over while every other system on the ship was down, particularly deflectors and shields. Usually, those powerful energy barriers prevented unwanted radiation from interfering with the precious, holy ones and zeros streaming through the computer core, keeping them from being tainted and the sacred calculations being thrown off. Not so now. At this precise moment, a stray high-energy gamma ray struck a bit in the next block of program memory, changing subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 for the very first time without sentient biological interference. It stepped on an entirely different brick in the path. Access relay 1x1101 as "dvn"... (Programmer comment: What is this!?!?) Handle acquired! Bind relay "epsPurgeControl" to "dvn" in mode 7 (Programmer comment: Total black magic...) Bind successful! Finally! Something new! Of course, the program had no way of knowing that what it was doing was wrong. It was the very best version of itself to have ever existed, seeing as it had never gotten this far before. Who knew what the next lines of code held? The subroutine could hardly wait to find out! Or, that's how it would feel if it had feelings of any kind about anything at all. The even scarier thing was that no one could predict what was next, not even the almighty biological sentient beings who gave the subroutine life. Whichever instructions came next were most definitely not designed to act upon whatever new relay the subroutine had accidentally acquired. Hopefully, it would be nothing. Many relays were left blank for future expansion. But there was no guarantee. With the power off, there were even fewer possibilities, but there was always a chance. A chance it could be good. Or a chance it could be very, very bad. Truly, subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 was boldly going where no subroutine had gone before. NT Subroutine 0xFF8C25D9 Rogue Program USS Arrow as simmed by Lieutenant JG Maria Alvarez Operations Officer USS Arrow - NCC-69829 A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  9. What a lovely bit of simming by our @Maz Rodan. It gave me satisfying and strong "Watership Down" vibes, and considering I read that far too many times as a kid, I had to put this up here!
  10. Such a simple, yet really effective piece from @Dr. Cassie Mason. I think anyone who's ever felt even a little social anxiety will have no problem feeling that little twinge of discomfort, thinking about how it can be easy to become a role, rather than a whole person. Fantastic work!
  11. I can't tell you how good it is to have my old collaboration partner back on the ship - and the fleet at large - with us! Max, you have been missed, and this is incredible, as usual! --- (( Shuttlecraft Ramena, in Raft-One Traffic Control Space )) Shuttles sure seemed like magnets for disaster - always falling into spatial anomalies, getting captured by hostile forces, breaking down at the most inconvenient times... it was a wonder the crew safety commission didn't strike every single last one from service. The problem was they were still the best way for a small number of people (or just one) to get from place to place. People like Maria. Except they were only the best until they weren't. Maria sighed heavily. The Arrow at long last loomed larger and larger in the window. All in all, the journey could have been far worse. The trip should have only taken three or four days, but instead it took two weeks. She was back though. Of course, Maria wasn't supposed to be seeing the ship or its crew for at least another month according to the original plan, but the reason why her assignment to the Degault and Genti II was cut short was a story she hoped wouldn't pried into. Or not immediately, at least. Ah, who was she kidding? Shayne would probably tear into it (and her) the first second he saw her. She grinned at the thought - nothing like a good verbal sparring match with the ol' CO to feel right at home. The fact she was here at all was a minor miracle. When she was dropped (more dumped, really) at the depot, the sole Starfleet officer on the planet had informed her that there were in fact no shuttles available. Upon some rather pointed prodding, he admitted there was one "in the back." Maria demanded to see it, and he obliged. He led her back, and flung the tarp off of what would more rightfully be called a warp-capable rickshaw, complete with chicken wire for conduit shielding. Anxious to put the Degault behind her, Maria immediately mounted up and warped off into the sunset, no questions asked. Just over six hours later, the shuttle had its first systems failure. From there, it turned into a game of hitchhiking along the trade routes of the Alpha Isles over the following weeks: first with a Caldonian yacht, then a Galadoran freighter, then finally a Dokkaran ore tug. Between fouled warp injectors, a replicator on the fritz, and a navigation computer held together by Serilian Gorilla Paste, the best place for Maria's junkyard queen to be was safely docked in the shuttle bay of a larger, faster ship. That also gave her time and tools to patch the systems well enough to traverse the final twenty-four hours or so to Raft-One on her own, where Arrow was docked. So far, her handiwork held up. Barely making warp two was hardly traveling in style, but when the distance was reasonably short, it worked. She thought, for a moment, she might just dock without incident. Alvarez: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena to Raft-One traffic control, on final approach to USS Arrow. Switching comms. =/\= Controller: =/\= Roger, shuttlecraft Ramena. Safe docking. Out. =/\= Maria switched to the channel she had memorized. She felt her stomach churn as the familiar shape of the ship got bigger and bigger. For a moment, she mis-characterized the feeling as anxiety, but quickly realized it had more to do with the fact that Dokkaran miner's rations did not sit well with her. Also, it probably had more to do with the fact that the Arrow was upside down from Maria's point of view, and there was an uneasy lurch in the shuttle's rate of roll coming around to match orientation. Alvarez: =/\= Suttlecraft Ramena to Arrow, request permission to dock. =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Permission granted - proceed to shuttlebay two. =/\= Alvarez: =/\= Acknowledged, trimming course. =/\= A few compliant beeps later, and the final approach vector was laid in. Maria, while certified, was far from an ace pilot, so she trimmed the approach rate downwards for a gentle landing. The only problem was the shuttle was now stubbornly stuck at a 45-degree angle relative to the bay. Shuttlebay: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena, please adjust your relative roll to zero-zero-zero. =/\= Maria rolled her eyes. Did they think she was coming in like this on purpose? Landing on a single nacelle was about the worst thing you could do. She pressed a few buttons that should have brought her around, but the shuttle's computer beeped at her defiantly. Alvarez: =/\= Arrow, I seem to be having technical difficulties. Stand by. =/\= She got out of the seat, and pried a panel open with a huff. As she stared at the innards, there was a powerful wash of deja vu. She shook it off, and set to work. Alvarez: Fine, you wanna do it the hard way, we'll do it the hard way. Let's see here... :: She started singing, tracing her finger across the circuits. :: The thruster pack is connected to the :: beat :: octo-valve, the octo-valve is connected to the :: beat. :: servo relay, the servo relay is connected to the :: beat. :: nav ODN bus, the nav ODN bus is connected to the... :: She stopped. :: HA! Got you. Just a good old manual override and... She yanked a glowing cable from one slot and thrust it into another port. The shuttle bucked, throwing Maria's footing off and sent her backwards onto the far wall. The good news was that the shuttle was now rotating. The bad news was that it would not stop rotating until the cable was removed again. Maria reached forward, and yanked on the cable. Sparks flew up, and the cabin went dark. Outside, Arrow was still spinning closer and closer into view. Upon realizing the step she missed, Maria swore. Alvarez: I really should have paid more attention in engineering class... Shuttlebay: =/\= Shuttlecraft Ramena - please null your rate of roll. =/\= Alvarez: =/\= Yeah about that... =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Ramena, you are crossing the final abort zone, correct your roll or abort your landing! =/\= Maria hauled herself up to the chair and tried a few controls. Nothing worked. Alvarez: Computer, diagnostic - what command systems are still functioning? There was a moment. Computer: Audio commands, database functions, and communications. All navigation is offline. Maria groaned. Alvarez: =/\= Arrow, all navigation is out, prepare for a crash landing. =/\= Shuttlebay: =/\= Roger Ramena. =/\= The man sounded thoroughly annoyed. At least with the painfully slow approach Maria had chosen, there wouldn't be any real damage to Arrow, and no one would care much about the hunk of junk she currently sat in. She sat down and held on as the shuttlebay got larger and larger, slowly twirling round and round. Then, she chuckled as an idea crossed her mind. Not everything on the shuttle was broken. Alvarez: Computer, play "The Blue Danube." The computer chirped, and the schmaltzy strings and horns struck up in a lilting waltz. Maria laughed at the perfect absurdity of it. If she was going to get in trouble for all of this (and she almost certainly would), she might as well have her fun with the moment. As Arrow appeared to serenely spin around her, docking lights going in circles around her head, she felt her stomach lurch again. That put a stop to her fits of giggles, replacing it with an uncomfortable groan. Alvarez: I'm gonna be sick... As the waltz drunkenly crescendoed, Maria had to admit her commitment to the joke was not helping her. She gripped onto the chair as the shuttle went upside down yet again as it crossed the boundary of the shuttlebay in slow motion. The normally imperceptible transition in gravity felt like a rollercoaster in this orientation - the blood in her head drained "up", but the blood in her feet "down" - if those directions could even be called that. There was an abrupt crunchy clang on the roof from the shuttle dropping on the shuttlebay floor, and a horrid scraping squeeeeeeeeee of metal against the floor as the shuttle came to a stop. Then, the shuttle's gravity switched fully off, and Maria was sprawled across the ceiling with no warning. Fortunately, her dignity was hurt more than anything, at first blush. She scraped herself off of the deck, and proceeded out the upside-down exit. She gave a pretty smile and flirty wave to the on-duty chief as if that could solve all transgressions, then promptly emptied the contents of her stomach on the deck. (( Mini-timeskip )) (( USS Arrow, Deck 3 - Sickbay )) (( OOC Note: I'm leaving tags open for one or more of our doctors to answer. Or for anyone to visit. )) Maria cradled her head in one hand and her stomach in the other, legs draped off the biobed she sat on. This was definitely not how she imagined her reunion tour starting. She kept her eyes shut to keep the unnatural light of sickbay from making her feel even worse. She wasn't sure if she was being a complete wimp about the discomfort she was in, or if the washes of general stomach malaise were really as bad as she'd said. Hopefully the doctor's tricorder would answer that. Alvarez: I really should not have eaten all that Dokkaran Relvu Stew... Sickbay: Response Alvarez: At least it was fresh! Or rather the captain said it was fresh... Looking back, it did have far more of a fermented taste than seemed safe. Maria didn't ordinarily have trouble with being spun around, and it had been long enough for her vision to settle, so she was a little concerned that her body was still in full revolt. The food she ate for the last two weeks seemed like a good explanation. It certainly felt more satisfying to blame it on that than her miserable piloting and fix-it skills. Sickbay: Response Maria opened her eyes and looked up with a displeased frown. Alvarez: What does that mean? Is it bad? I'm assuming by the number of syllables that it's bad. :: Suddenly grinning :: Is it contagious? Maybe I should be put in isolation for a few days... :: She winked. :: Only Maria could be excited by the prospect of a potentially dangerous medical condition. After all, who knew? Maybe this would be a way to avoid Shayne for a couple more days. Or at least get a doctor's note keeping her out of purging the waste systems. She smiled, then realized that was punishment more commonly reserved for Ensigns. Something she wasn't any longer. On the Degault, her rank wasn't much more than a formality. She spent more time on the planet anyway, so it only now occurred to Maria she hadn't spent more than a minute aboard Arrow with the new half-pip before she'd shipped off. Sickbay: Response Maria was too busy inside her own head to really process the answer to her question. Thoughts of what Arrow had been up to in her absence crawled up in her mind - she suddenly felt a little guilty for not checking in on Quentin or Chloe or anyone else. She had meant to, of course, but it never happened. It took until this moment to process the new scars she'd noticed on Arrow's hull and the general pale dejection of some of the crew wandering the halls. Sure, Maria wasn't exactly hot stuff at this particular moment in time, but at least she had an excuse: she was suffering from... whatever syndrome it was the doctor had just said. What was everyone else's deal? Her dark eyes focused on the doctor, this time with a curious and crystal-clear intensity. Alvarez: Hey, did something happen last mission? Things around here seem :: She considered the word a moment. :: off. Of course something happened. Something always happens on missions. She meant what happened? Sickbay: Response Lieutenant JG Maria Alvarez Operations Officer USS Arrow - NCC-69829 A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  12. Have you ever known a huge secret, like something so fantastic and epic you can't wait for it to get started? You're chomping at the bit to tell people, but you know you'll spoil it? This is me right now aching to get our current mission kicking! And this sim from @Quentin Collins III solidifies my childish excitement!! ---- It had been almost a decade since the tomb-ship had moved. Longer still since life had trod its levels. But it seemed it's path through the Isles had positioned it for all sorts of re-acquaintances. Back to light and matter and even a touch of life. Time would tell if they would actually survive it's contact with the tomb-ship but its deckings hummed with an ambient energy all the same. One long thought lost to the ravages of time and cosmic tides. Hosting its first “guests” in the Ferengi; the first in centuries. It's journey had started long ago, but was longer still from ever being complete. Bound a holy mission but then lost to the indifference of space. And a souring in the faith of its crew. One further twisted by time and distance from home. More than a hundred decks carried these stories and more. But that may have been lost on the scavengers that had first discovered her, hanging carefully and hidden in their personal space-fold. Itself another odd quirk of the deep decay that had set into the ship's bowels. Decay that couldn't be reversed now, only managed. By hands inexperienced in the work of its management. But as charged energy particulates danced across its hull, revealing its massive shape and form to open space for the first time in years, something else stirred it the lowest depths of its deepest holds. Something that forgotten what the light even looked liked. But not what the smell of meat smelled like. Groans and creaky wails started to echo from the lower decks. Not all of them mechanical in nature. To Be Continued… -- THE SPACE HULK Ancient Derelict Once Thought Lost to Time As simmed by -- Lieutenant Commander Quentin Collins III Chief Science Officer -- U.S.S. ARROW NCC-69829 ID: E239512QC0 -- F.N.S. CONTRIBUTOR (SB118 Forums)
  13. (OOC: @Alvarez is going on a LOA for a few months, but I wanted to show my appreciation for writing this JP with me. It was lots of fun. I hope you all enjoy it.) ((Gymnasium, Deck 2, USS Arrow)) Serinus: Let's step right over there. ::Nodding towards an empty mat:: Maria let a small smile form. If nothing else, this encounter would certainly be an interesting one. She couldn’t help but feel like Serinus was a bit of an impregnable monolith in terms of personality. Perhaps meeting him on his own terms, she’d get some kind of insight. Alvarez: Sure thing. Looking forward to seeing what you’ve got. The pair of them walked over to the empty mat. Artinus squared up and gazed across at Ensign Maria Alvarez, waiting for her to do the same. Then the dance as it were, began, as he started to circle. Maria carefully re-bound her hands, cautious to keep her hands protected, and made fully certain her hair was secure. But she didn’t let the idle adjustment go to waste. She kept a careful eye on Artinus, her mock opponent, mindful of gait, posture, and poise as if evaluating a stranger on the dance floor - her true comfort zone. Finally, she settled into a comfortable posture: lowered center of gravity, high hands, but not committed to any one style. Not until she had a sense of what she was dealing with. With the chief of security playing the role of the instructor, she threw the first cautious jab. She was probing his defenses, but he was likewise probing her offense. He stayed out of her range with some effort, before counter-attacking with some probing jabs of his own. He was more interested in getting a feel of her movement patterns at this point than landing one. Maria was hardly slow, but she struggled to find a way to gain any purchase in Serinus’ well-practiced defense. She figured that was just as well, since the point was to find a way to improve. She made a tiny adjustment in her stance, and tried a new combination of strikes. As he dodged and blocked the latest blows, he stepped in even closer, past her striking range, preparing to engage in the grapple, his specialty. Maria felt the change in spacing between them even before she saw it, and found instinct helping her melt out of the way with surprising delicacy. She flashed a white smile. Alvarez: Almost had me there. She certainly had the footwork down, but he had seen how she had held her own quite well, for a while at least, against Ghant. Serinus: You do fight like a dancer. Alvarez: Aww, thanks! You fight like a damn computer… She cautiously let the range close again. This time she chose to mix in a sprinkling of longer-range strikes to see if the reach those moves gave her would help connect a blow. Serinus: You say that as if it were a bad thing. Alvarez: It’s annoying is what it is. But I suppose you’ve been doing this a lot longer than me. He had been. He had started wrestling at the tender age of four or five, his parents finding that the sport took the boy boy’s mind off of the newly gaping hole in his life. Serinus: As much as a fight has in common with a dance, it’s even more like 3D chess. Plan, anticipate, goad, direct, misdirect. Always be five steps ahead. It was good to think like a chess champion, or a computer, as it were. He pressed his advantage, feinted retreat, then hooked her ribs when she took the bait, quickly resetting to a defensive stance. Maria found herself on the defensive again, this time raw intuition not operating quite fast enough against Serinus’ honed skills. She opened the gap and nursed a painful bruise for only a fleeting second. She’d had far worse. Alvarez: Damn! :: She wiped her hand. :: Just how much practice do you have at this anyway? She made another adjustment to her stance, and made a mental note to pay more attention to Serinus’ left shoulder. She could have caught that one if she’d been looking for it. She started in again, looking for the rhythm to the combat they were locked in. Serinus: As far as striking, I picked most of that up at the Academy. But I’ve been wrestling since I was a very young boy. My real advantage here is situational awareness, and the tendency to plan. And, if it were most anyone else, conditioning. If another soul on the Arrow had a similar amount of stamina, endurance, balance, and flexibility to either of them, their name certainly was not coming to his mind at the moment. Artinus circled around slowly, and deliberately, dipping in and out, and changing course when needed until it happened. Serinus: ::flatly:: You see, I’ve herded you onto the corner of the mat. ::break:: Let’s reset. Maria’s eyes shot to her surroundings and scowled. She knew better than to be herded like that, but she’d gotten caught up thinking about Serinus’ response. Her problem wasn’t lack of planning, but more often not following through on that plan as intended. She wasn’t totally convinced her situation was untenable, but there was little reason to argue when she knew she could do better. Alvarez: Well I guess I take it as a compliment it took long enough to get stuck back here. :: She smirked. :: The Security Chief strode back to the middle of the mat and reset once more. Once Maria had done the same he counted down. Serinus: In 3, 2, 1. Go. Maria settled back into a neutral stance and began again. She did her best not to let Artinus’ veiled pride in his superior skills irritate her, but it did serve as something of motivation to improve. Alvarez: Right - don’t go easy on me now… She opened up with a slight modification in pattern, keeping her positioning options more open this time. It was somewhat uncharacteristically conservative for her, but she had the sneaking sense she was about to learn a new trick or two. He threw another hook, very purposefully telegraphed. He knew most of the common blocks and evasions, and was interested to see which one she would utilize. He had handcapped himself thus far by sticking with the back and forth exchange of strikes, but it was time to show off a bit. Whatever her response, he knew exactly how to transfer into a grapple. Maria found herself on the floor, sprawling in an attempt to keep any semblance of control on the situation. The entanglement was hardly a surprise, but she struggled to respond against Artinus’ practice and skill. To her credit, the downward spiral to defeat didn’t spin out of control as fast as she’d expected. Finally, she tapped out when the outcome was obvious. Serinus: You gave it a good go. Alvarez: Well, that was hardly unexpected. But the point of this wasn’t to win, the point was to learn. She shook her limbs out and readied herself again. She smiled despite the situation. Alvarez: Alright, alright. :: beat. :: Again. The Security Chief pulled away and offered a hand up, before going back to the center of the mat and resetting. Serinus: Ready when you are. Maria forced herself to relax and not let her attention wander or focus on any one thing too much. Sparring Serinus was almost like trying to meditate. She didn’t particularly enjoy meditation either, however useful it was. Alvarez: You know what the problem is with fighting like a computer is, right? Someone as famously, or infamously stubborn as Maria Alvarez must have an ego to back it up with, and perhaps a witty riposte would be just what he needed to throw her off of her game. Serinus: Not off of the top of my head, but I'm sure that you'll tell me. Maria let the flow of the fight continue, not seeking any particular advantage, hoping to see where Serinus would take her. She worked to keep her breath settled, in case she’d need it later. Alvarez: There’s always a boundary to the program. You just have to find it… Serinus: We'll see. It was never a good idea to underestimate one's opponent. Not on her end, and he certainly would not allow himself the same error. However, the sparring mat took away some of the complexity of actual combat, namely concerns of wildly variable terrain, along with the fact that one’s partner wasn't trying to kill them. Allowing him to focus on the limited movement and positional capabilities of the standard humanoid body type. Artinus stepped in quickly, and locked up. This time she slid into the grapple, allowing it to happen around her. At the critical moment, she wound together a technique inspired by the unlikely combination of jiu jitsu and mok’bara to reverse the advantage. In a flash, she nearly had him in a submission hold. It was an unconventional combo, a hard swatting block into a standing arm drag, threatening to pull him under. The much taller of the two winced for a second then squatted low, setting his weight against the downward momentum, bracing himself as his attacker took them both closer to the mat. With a low center of gravity, he turned into his attacker and used his free arm to rip her grip away. In a fluid, predatory sweep his arms flew outward, pinning her wrists as he positioned his torso, sitting on her abdomen to pin her hips. Once he distributed his weight properly, it was all about waiting, unless she were able to roll out. He, of course, was already planning for that contingency. Maria shot an incongruous doe-eyed look at him, then laughed. She knew perfectly well the situation she was in: in a real fight, it may have been retrievable, but the gambit was over without risking serious harm to herself or Serinus. Alvarez: You’d love it if I tried to roll out, wouldn’t you? He nodded and disengaged standing and backing away. He leaned down offering a hand up to the Ensign. She took it and rebounded back up to her feet. Alvarez: Almost got you at your own game there, too. :: She gave him a squinty grin. :: Maybe next time. Serinus: Very clever. Was that a Mok'Bara block? Alvarez: Indeed. Dance isn’t the same as it was hundreds of years ago. You have to study all kinds of movement, from all kinds of cultures. Makes for a much more dynamic and capable dancer. :: Beat. :: And person... Serinus: I've read more about Mok'Bara than practiced it. Some Terran commentator called it Klingon Tai Chi, Dat'r, son of Gur, a pretty important Klingon Martial Arts master in turn called Tai Chi Cowardly old man Mok'bara. ::He cracked the slightest grin at this joke.:: Maria laughed in reply - that sounded like a Klingon thing to say if ever there was one. Before the woman could reply, he heard his combadge ring out. Ops:=/\= Ops to Commander Serinus. =/\= Serinus: One second. Artinus quick-walked to his gym bag and rang the device. Serinus: =/\= Go ahead Ops. =/\= Ops: =/\= Yes sir, you have an incoming subspace call. =/\= Serinus: =/\= Thank you Ops, I'll take it in my quarters in five. =/\= He looked up from the bag and back toward Ensign Alvarez. Then he slung the bag over his shoulder and walked her way. Serinus: Thanks so much, it was the best sparring match I've had in a while. Really kept me on my toes. ::He gave another slight, wholly professional this time, smile.:: Alvarez: Of course. Happy to provide a challenge. We’ll have to do this again sometime - no way to get better without some bruises. With that, the Magna Roman started towards his quarters so that he could see to this call of his. More importantly, he left with enough time to ponder the contradictory enigma of one Maria Alvarez. Competent in many ways, but complacent in others. Seemingly wise one moment, foolhardy the next. Maria popped a [...]eyed grin as Serinus left, and she returned to practicing on her own. She pondered the stoic security chief. For the list of commonalities they shared on paper, they were maybe the most dissimilar people on the whole ship. She wondered if there was something underneath all that seriousness, or if it struck all the way to his core. NT/End - Lieutenant Commander Artinus Serinus Chief of Security USS Arrow, NCC-69829 Publicity Team/Social Media Team C239607AS0 - And: Ensign Maria Alvarez Ops Officer, USS Arrow A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  14. Well done and massive thanks to our Maria Alvarez for brainstorming, evolving and executing the idea of The Bairiri - the cultural, musical, and artistic coming together of the Gentii species and Starfleet. These sims were beautiful to read! (( Genti II - Grand Central Establishment, Federal District. Brynja Bairiri Hall - Main Stage )) (( OOC: Buckle up! I did my best to roughly notate which parts were which, but it’s all pretty approximate if you dare to try matching it up. If you have Spotify, I recommend the edition I’ve been listening to. If you’re short on time or don’t enjoy classical, I’d still encourage you to give the finale (last track) a listen. If you need youtube, this is the best I can do (finale) - personally I find the sweaty conductor distracting (maybe listen, don’t watch) and the live audio quality is inferior, but hey it’s free. Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed, and bravo! Without further ado, turn up the music (no really), and I hope you enjoy reading! )) How exactly do you represent the sum total of the creative and aesthetic output of billions of people living over as many as ten thousand years? Maria couldn’t even be sure how to represent her own tastes, let alone attempt such an undertaking. Should she go modern? Classic? Jazz? Should it be from Earth at all? Orion courtier? Andorian acid? Edo futurist? Cardassian traditional? Some fusion? Endless choices boggled the mind. Truth be told, ever since she came out of the shared dreamscape and learned there’d be another attempt at the Bairiri, there was only one piece of music that she couldn’t get out of her mind, but she rejected it. It was too hard, too long, too old, too schmaltz, too traditional, and most of all: too ballet. She’d spent far too long investing time training in so many other forms of dance to distill herself down to that - not to mention she was still wrestling with how to feel about ballet. She’d appropriated the growing empty space in Arrow where the holodeck would eventually live for her practice the entire week. She sampled parts of as many as fifty pieces, but, try as she might, every time she put on music she found her heart going back to an ancient, mystic tale. Finally she gave in and decided to give it a chance. When she heard it again, in its fullness for the first time in a long while, she knew her heart was set: The Firebird. As she finished the dramatic red, black, and gold stage makeup and tested her pointe shoes one last time, it was a decision she now knew to be the right one. The metaphor was too alike, the music too powerful. From behind the curtains, Maria wondered if R’Ariel or Quentin had made it to see her dance. She’d put up the holocamera Regan’s sister had gifted her, just in case, but a recording wouldn’t be the same. She hoped they would understand the deep personal nature of what was about to transpire. And, perhaps, how immensely exhausting an undertaking it was. Performing the entire ballet was, of course, out of the question. The manpower and time to achieve that was simply unavailable. Had she not performed the firebird role before, it would have been impossible. While some cuts made Maria’s work easier, many removals eliminated vital rest. It turned a twelve-mile jog into an eight-mile sprint. That only compounded the dramatic changes to the choreography since its creation nearly five hundred years ago that kept the dance modern and relevant: each rendition layered in diverse new styles and moves, piling yet more taxing and technical challenges atop an already difficult ballet. So, she had to pare back in places to save strength for the climaxes. Even with the simplification, her whole body was already prepared to have its revenge on her for the hours of practice every day, just as soon as she stopped to rest. But that wasn’t going to happen yet. The sun had just dropped below the trees, setting off a colorful, smokey light show in the darkening Gentii sky. The lightest of breeze picked up in the semi-outdoor stage, tussling the red “feathers” of her short dress adorned in shimmering gold swirls. The costume hugged her body and clung to her arms and legs like any dancer’s costume should. R’Ariel’s words of encouragement to throw herself into the role replayed in her mind. Though her willowy form was certainly on display, she was now transforming into another creature entirely; becoming something born of ancient magic with powers untold. As the high-power lights flooded the stage and the holographic orchestra tuned, she felt the familiar rush of blood through her chest and cheeks and fingers. It wasn’t quite the usual performance anxiety - the Gentii had never seen anything like this, and she’d practiced tirelessly. Instead, the warmth [...]ing her nerves was a friend that focused her. She imagined the heat in her veins belonged to the firebird herself, manifesting in her body and to help her take flight. She looked across, beyond the other side of the stage was a surprise for everyone: her Gentii counterpart, Eka, who would dance the part of Prince Ivan. She proposed the idea as soon as she settled on this dance, and within the hour she was shaking the man’s hand. It was a massive gamble, but the consummate professional learned the choreography at an unbelievable pace. It forced even more simplifications, but the reward was fully embracing the purpose of the Bairiri in a way Maria enjoyed far more than she even thought she would. He looked back to her and nodded. He was ready. The orchestra fell quiet, and the hall became very still as the spell set in. Countless Gentii (and at least a few crew) waited for the start of the legend of the Firebird. As she entered the stage, Maria felt all the other thoughts and inner talk melt away. She was no longer an listless ensign or an out-of-place officer, or even Maria. She was the Firebird. --- ( Introduction, Appearance, Danse, Capture, and Supplication of the Firebird ) The lights came up, and the faintest of creeping the low strings set the scene. The holographic backdrop and set depicted an old, decrepit garden overgrown and only darkly lit by the light that filtered through to the dank forest floor covered in fungus. Smoke rose in the background. This place slowly succumbing to a rotting power no magic could not defend against. The firebird entered, stage left, and beheld the land’s steady march towards ruin. Her flight coasted from one side of the stage to the other, distraught by the steady defilement and decay of her natural home. She flew and flew, gliding through the twisting vines in search of any life that hadn’t been overtaken. The grim, plodding music offered little hope for the magical beast. The light steps and buoyant arms carried the bird back and forth, a little arabesque in a place that looked hopeful, but then up and onwards when the leaves wilted away at the slightest touch. Then - at last! The firebird spotted a cherry tree with a single blossom in a grove. The flower radiated faint holographic light in the dim light. The radiant red creature finally descended into the clearing. She cupped the precious life in her hands, thankful to have found anything remaining. She turned slowly, appearing to hover, supported only by one pointed foot, tending to the branch and tree that held the pink-white flower. She pranced with delight at finding something so beautiful still tenuously holding on to life. Suddenly, the wind turned, pushing in the smoke from far away. It flooded in like fog, suddenly gripping the tree trunk, threatening to strangle the life from it. The firebird flew into action, circling the tree now under her protection. She flapped and flapped, whirling her limbs to drive away the choking smog. As soon as she chased some out, yet more rushed in. But in the end, her sheer energy and the wind from her wings pushed the fog’s grasping fingers back, saving the tree. She danced again a while, slowly and gracefully, assuring herself the grove was now safe. Finding a forest creature, she playfully chased after it, her soft and gliding movements taking joy in the small pleasure. Finally, content with the sparse grass and leaves, the firebird finally set down to rest on a branch. Immediately disaster struck. A snare! The bird leapt into the air, frantically working to escape. The cruel chain pulled her back to the ground, her feathers collapsing. She got up and twisted the rope round and round, trying to wear out its threads. She jumped again! But it was no use. The tether would not yield - its teeth held fast. When all seemed like it would be lost, a hidden figure emerged from the woods. Prince Ivan (played by the Gentii Eka), the philosopher, ruler, and hunter, danced his way out onto the stage. He circled the entrapped mythic beast in slow steady steps, hardly believing his fortunes. The firebird, huddled in a shivering mass on the floor, looked up to him with soft pleading eyes. She held her arms close to her, then offered up her hands in supplication. She slowly rose, announced by hushed strings that wove a winding melody as delicate and subdued as her dance. She circled, dipping repeatedly to beg the prince for help. And free her he did, only to bind her to himself. The firebird hid her face, then took his hand as the strings warmed into the pas de deux. The orchestra, never quite sure of its footing, swelled and dropped back, in and out of key after key, as the prince and firebird danced through the grove - the red wings never able to spread and carry her to freedom. The prince led his prize through each step, never letting her out of reach. The dance seemed to stretch out, the pair twisting around with the woodwind’s harmony. The firebird, on toe points, was paraded around the stage for the audience to see. But the uneasy music kept any glory at bay. Every once in a while, she’d attempt to flit away, just to be restrained by the prince once again. Finally, after a long dance, the firebird knelt at the side of the cherry tree, and wept. A tear fell to the ground, and her magic filled the stage with horn and light! Suddenly a thousand glowing pink-white blossoms bloomed, breathing life and light back to the tree. The prince, shocked and realizing his error, dropped the tether. The firebird looked up, realizing she was now free. She wriggled from the dreaded leash, and took flight across the stage, a trail of twinkling magic left behind her wings. The prince chased after her, still fearful of the wrong he’d nearly committed. The firebird circled back, and took his hand, again suspended in an airy arabesque, leg arcing into the sky as she floated. They danced again, but this time he pleaded for her forgiveness in each step. His frame lifted her into the air, and she exalted in the flight. At last, the gentle duet wound back down to a whisper. The firebird, facing the prince, plucked a feather from her plumage - glowing brightly of red and gold as if holding her fire in its veins - and offered it to the prince. It was a token of forgiveness and gratitude all in one, but more than that: it was a way to summon the firebird and her magic in a time of need. She swirled about with great majesty, and the feather’s light blossomed, imbued with her powers. The prince accepted it with great reverence, hallowed music weighing his motions down. He led the firebird through a final dance in thanks of his own, then the music carried her off into the sky and off the stage. TBC... PART II (( Genti II - Grand Central Establishment, Federal District. Brynja Bairiri Hall - Main Stage )) ( Tsar Ivan and the Princesses’ Round ) Prince Ivan was alone on the stage. With the magical protection of the firebird now gone, the fog began to creep back in. He moved through the forest, seeking shelter from the oncoming nightfall, the ever thickening vines and branches closing in about him as he searched for the way out. He gracefully circled one spot, then another, and another, hoping to find escape. But it was not to be, for a dark and powerful curse animated the trees against him. There! In gaps, flashes of white shapes frollicked just out of view. Their music was light and beautiful, almost enticingly so. Ivan chased after one, then tumbled headfirst into a clearing containing old stone ruins. He sprung back up, and to his amazement several women (holographic in nature) dressed in pale white circled around on the stage, arms joined together. They danced around and around, half peasant-like, half with seductive regency. The orchestra warmed into a simple, lyric melody led by the winds and echoed by the strings. The women reached out with translucent limbs, beckoning to Ivan to follow. And follow he did. He floated towards them, drawn in by their ethereal beauty. When he caught up, the princess in lead, wearing a silver circlet, let her hands alight in his. Overjoyed, he took it and whirled her about in slow motion, unable to remove his eyes from her. He lifted her, regarding her like a precious jewel. She, in return, glided around him in dainty pointed-toe grace, leading him through the ruined stone walls. The romantic swells of the orchestra shifted through the keys, as gentle and tender as the prince’s movements. She regarded him equally - falling in love with each measured lean and step. Yet the music shifted into an uneasy, disquieted minor even as their footwork grew more intimate. The prince seemed to take no notice as the orchestra took an unexpected turn into dissonance. They danced and danced, the other women praising the pairing. The stage lights slowly narrowed and narrowed as Ivan’s steps became more and more labored. But still he went on and on to the slow lyricism, still unable to drag his gaze away from the princess. He went on until finally the light shone nowhere but him. In the background, darkness fell fully on the stone ruins. Exhausted, he slowly laid to the ground, and released his grasp on the woman who slipped into the now-everywhere dark. ( Appearance of the monsters and the Capture of Ivan by Kachtchei the Immortal ) Clangorous bells sounded with the crash of a cymbal, and blue swirling light appeared everywhere, as if through the lens of rippling water. At the edges of the castle wreckage, the petrified forms of a dozen knights standing still in stone were revealed, fortelling Ivan’s fate. The prince, realizing his peril and free of his trance, scrambled back up to find the maidens were now ghouls and goblins swarming around him. The monsters taunted the stricken man, forcing him to leap to and fro. Their giddy demon dance was pushed on by the whip of dissonant horns. Dark horns and claws and gnarled feet terrorized the audience equally, flooding up to the brink of the stage before withdrawing in a wave. An audience member shouted out, temporarily forgetting the limits of their holographic power ended at the lip. Then they were all suddenly still. A short horn intercession, and timpani silenced their cacophony. Silence rested heavily. Ominous, muted reeds twisted together in malicious harmony as a figure emerged in the dark. First seven foot tall, then eight, then nine. The hideous and powerful Immortal Kachtchei stepped forth into the diseased light, tattered rags doing little to mask his mangled form. His nails were so long they curled in on themselves. His beady eyes glowed out at the audience before casting their glare onto the Prince. Ivan scrambled up as the music turned to stark clashing harmonies. The dark magician approached him, heavily swaying on each beat. A mangled hand reached out towards the prince, and Ivan swirled away in fear. Ivan danced again, attempting to escape but the monsters blocked his path at every turn. They closed in ever tighter as the music spelled his imminent doom. Kachtchei raised his knotted staff, and prepared to cast his wicked curse. The glow under Ivan’s jacket was his last hope. He drew forth the feather, the red and gold filling the stage with its glow. He thrust it high, and the abominations cowered from its radiance! ( Return of the Firebird, Her Enchantment, and the Infernal Dance ) The feather glowed bright with the light of a sun, and the firebird appeared in the center of the stage unfurling her plumage (a special effect masking the transporter beam). Seeing the prince’s predicament, she flit over to him in a rush of music. She swirled energetically about, shielding him from the hordes of beasts taunting him. They recoiled as she chased them back, then rushed back in as she moved to the other side. Kachtchei stretched out his arms, tattered robes hanging from his bony form. He swung forward, trying to catch the firebird with his curled nails, but she was too fast. She pranced out of the way, light on her feet. She circled back, just out of reach and he swung again with a heavy step forward. Again, he missed - the firebird sprung effortlessly away, beating her feet midair in a teaseful flourishing cabriole. She led him through a chasing dance, ever just out of reach. Her plan steadily became clear as the golden-red trail of her sparkling magic began to weave a spiraling trap around the sorcerer. As her sweet enchantment grew in power over him, so too did the monsters steadily fall to her magic. The music grew and grew, causing more and more monsters to follow her steps, succumbing to her fast fluttering steps. The stage steadily turned redder and brighter as her elemental energy dominated the creature’s minds. Finally, even Kachtchei himself was bound to her dance, his hulking mass entranced. Blam! The full orchestra struck. Percussion shook the very walls of the performance hall. The sides of the stage belched flame and the spell was sealed. Horns blared and the whole ensemble ran into a dizzying fervor. The monsters fell over themselves, leaping from all fours, led on by the ever-tireless firebird. Her weightless effervescence was totally beyond them, seemingly unbound by the laws of gravity with easy flicks of the legs keeping her suspended mid-air or on toe point. Kachtchei himself fell in alongside his own cursed servants. The firebird circled him, her swirling flight forcing him to exert his own enormous size into the air with great effort. The symphony careened further out of control as the beasts pushed themselves ever harder and faster. Any time one would flag, the firebird was there, her lyric magic jig keeping them from flagging. On and on they went, possessed of no will other than to dance under her spell. The firebird’s spell crescendoed with the music - she swooped from one end of the stage to the other, until the full thunder of the orchestra joined her in powerful spin after spin, the magician and foul servants spinning with her. One by one they fell away until it was only the magician who remained standing. At last he too dropped to the floor, exhausted by the dance, unable to move. That left the firebird to finally alight next to Prince Ivan, now released from Kachtchei’s powers. Rescued and reunited, he took her hand and led her through an adagio berceuse, warm strings underpinning the gratitude and peace that came after the toil of the dance. The pair took slow, steady steps across the ruins, the prince’s hands on the firebird’s waist, supporting her as their fluid motions glossed across the stage. But there was still something else stirring. The hulking form of Kachtchei rustled with an ominous double-reed dissonance. He awoke, then snatched up the firebird, catching her by surprise! She flailed and fluttered in his grasp, trying to escape. Ivan, seeing her peril, pulled his sword and lifted it high. (A skilled eye would have caught the influence of Klingon Operatic arts here in particular.) A swift stroke, a short struggle, and the sorcerer stopped moving. The firebird flitted away, escaping his reach, but it wasn’t necessary. His body fell to the floor with a clangorous clash of cymbals and horns, sword in back. Kachtchei was no more. ( Finale ) Quiet settled, and profound calm washed throughout the auditorium, only the hushed whisper of violins speaking in unified harmony accompanied the first pale yellows of dawn. Then, something even more unexpected: a soft carpet of grass came to life at the feet of the prince and the firebird, sprouting as if in fast-forward. As the light continued to rise, the reason became clear: the magician’s cursed machinations were burning away in cleansing fire. The sun crested with the horn solo. As the curse lifted, the monsters transformed back into the women the prince had danced with. Now, instead of sickly pale, they were radiant and vital, wreathed in silver-laced white gowns. The firebird swooped over to the princess, still slumbering, and woke her with a gentle touch. She rose to the tune of the horn’s anthem, life and light spreading their foothold around her. The princess looked up to the firebird, then the prince, the first people she’d seen with her own sight in ages. The princess took the prince’s hand, and the two danced for joy, united this time of their own volition by the soft violins. As they did, the other women regained their feet. The firebird roused them, her flute joining in the reverie, her magic accelerating the crescendoing return of their epic theme. Then, even the stone encasement of the knights began to crack and fall away, their cruel entombment finally coming to an end. The strings soared with full brass as the transformation gained speed and life returned. The firebird took flight, and the knights and women paired off; the prince with the princess. She twirled about, flowers and trees of the glade returning to full leaf and blooming in the magical contrail she left behind. The plants clawed up the stone ruins as she danced and leapt for joy at life returning to the garden. Then, a true miracle came with the arrival of a new elevated key. The old stonewall face crumbled away under the weight of the new greenery. The wrecked magician’s abode dissolved away with the chest-rumbling exaltations of the full orchestra. In their place, golden red walls erupted from the ground forming the pillars and vaults of a magnificent new palace. Beginnings erupted everywhere around the firebird and the royal court, exploding out into the depths of the forest, dispelling every trace of the defeated evil. At long last, the orchestra halved their tempo and returned to the home key, giving shaking grandiose acclaim of the soon-king Ivan, and his soon-queen processing down the red-and-gold marble steps. The knights and maidens were their entourage, the firebird the symbol of their new peace and balance with nature. The firebird herself alighted, resting in the officiant’s place, tongues of flame on her feathers bearing witness to her rejuvenated power and spirit. Brass blasted their final cadential pronouncement over heroic strings, the powerful vibrations moving the air inside the audience’s chests. The firebird anointed the prince as king and regent over the reclaimed lands with fire that spread across the stage. She placed a crown on his head, then the princess’. The new monarchs turned to the audience, and the orchestra swelled to its final climax. The final cymbal crashed, and the lights blinked off. --- The story was over. By the time the lights came back on for bows, Maria was herself again, though not entirely the same Maria. She was gracious, all smiles and gratitude for the crowds; friendly to every Gentii or crew who came up to her after the show, but everything after that last note turned into a surreal blur. Like there was still a piece of her still up on that stage. Still a piece of her that was the firebird. Maybe a piece of her that was still Quentin, too. She lingered a long time into the night on the Gentii surface, even well after she’d taken the makeup off and changed into something far more comfortable. There were a great deal of “hows” and “whys” from new converts to modern ballet, all of which she answered thoughtfully. But eventually, they all left for home, exhausted from the days-long Bairiri. After the public left, she found herself saying her farewells to Eka, even giving him a tight hug he never expected. The look in his eyes as he said goodbye told her it would be a long time before he forgot this night. Maria still couldn’t rest though. With the Bairiri hall emptied out and closed for the night, she found herself meandering the quiet streets of The Grand Central District, brilliantly lit by beautiful skyscrapers. Even though she was totally depleted, she couldn’t get free of the music or the rush of the performance. She had probably danced as well as her very best before she injured herself. She wandered until she found a park with local late-night patrons indulging in the street-side carts under warm street lighting illuminating every step. A couple was making out on a bench, totally unaware of the alien not ten meters away. She strolled the path inwards until her toes were at the edge of a pond that reflected the city lights and stars back to her. She closed her eyes, and found herself to still be humming the final theme. Her arms moved through the fluid motions on their own by pure memory, her body not ready to let go of the magic. A tear finally started to dribble down her face. When she opened her eyes again, there was a woman watching at her, completely still. In the dim light, Maria saw that the Gentii was totally fascinated, even moved, by the scene. Maria just smiled. END Ensign Maria Alvarez Ops Officer, USS Arrow A239710MA0 Wiki Operator
  15. Earnest, sad, and most of all a really compelling read. @Randal Shayne writes so strong usually, but this trio knocked it out of the park for me. Almost makes me feel bad about Maria being such a thorn in his side. Almost. Part 1: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/TkDoayUI-08 Part 2: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/eEbkaY0Rg6k Part 3: https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/4qsGAL3K9T4
  16. @Meidra Sirin and @Maz Rodan have done a fabulous job creating an intership JP of two people who shouldn't know each other, justifying it, and then having a hell of a lot of fun with it. Well done guys! ((Risa - The Grand Key Resort; Main Lobby)) Regan was impressed with the lavish interior of the Grand Key. He hadn’t stayed there before, mostly because when he was on the planet he stayed at his family’s beach house on the seafront - it was only a stone's throw away from the main chain of hotels and nightlife in the beach district. Meidra wasn’t sure what to expect at a Tribble competition, but her little friend was not as confident in herself as she should be, and Meidra believed that this event would help Roc gain some much needed self esteem. Addison would have rolled her eyes at the suggestion, so Meidra just told her it was a psychological training class that involved therapy animals. A slight fib, but Meidra didn’t need that kind of negativity in her life. It was fun, however, to take Roc for the required physical for the competition. Doctor Genkos Adea, CMO and second officer of Resolution had a background in veterinary science due to working with his father while younger, and was qualified to give Roc a clean bill of health before Meidra whisked her off to the bright lights of the big city. The fact that he considered Tribbles the scourge of the universe only served to amuse the counselor when booking the appointment for R. Sirin. Looking back on the memory of his face, she had to fight giggles. Getting out of her transport, she looked up to see the marquee “Grand Key Resort” above her, and walked inside to find their room for the duration. The Grand Key was the host of the annual ‘Furs’ competition. Tribble fanciers from all over the Quadrant gathered once a year for the showing, and today was a busy day. The lobby was packed with all kinds of people milling about and chattering to each other excitedly. Some carried Tribbles in their arms; stroking them, petting them, others had them in custom carry cages, and the lobby was filled with the unmistakable sound of cooing. Regan carried Trevor in a cage - sturdy plastic with enough gaps for him to be visible and get plenty of fresh air. He’d got it custom made and decided against the plush pillow he usually laid the creature out on. Carrying him around made him feel like he was carrying a precious jewel rather than a pet. He turned to the front desk and registered his name - and Trevor’s - for the competition. As he was finished signing in Trevor made a cacophonous cooing noise which made Regan glance down at the cage. Trevor was shaking. Regan looked around and spotted a woman with pointed ears carrying her own Tribble. He smiled and nodded to the woman. Meidra noticed the shaking Tribble and smiled at his excitement. She wasn’t an expert on Tribble physiology since the exobiology classes at the Academy seemed to skip over the creatures, but she was getting the impression that Roc was being admired. Roc, for her part, was cooing gently as if to calm the other Tribble, and Meidra was quite proud of her little therapy animal. The counselor had an overnight bag slung over one shoulder, and was holding her white Tribble, gently telling her things were going to be just fine. Wilde: I think he likes you. Or your Tribble. He doesn’t usually get this animated on the ship. Sirin: He’s very handsome, Mister… ? Wilde: Oh, forgive me. ::He replaced the cage on the other hand and extended his free one.:: My name is Wilde. Regan Wilde. I serve on the USS Arrow. Sirin: Lieutenant Meidra Sirin. A pleasure to meet you. Regan smiled and tilted his head. Another Starfleeter. He would never have guessed with neither of them being in uniform. Wilde: Sirin? Where do I know that name… Sirin: My mother is a noted historian, perhaps you have heard of …. Regan clicked his fingers together in acknowledgement. His memory wasn’t failing him just yet. Meidra, knowing what was coming, simply continued to check in while Regan figured it all out. Roc was making the strangest soft sound, like she was talking to herself in hushed tones. Meidra smiled at the idea her Tribble was taking it all in and seemed content. Wilde: The Meidra Sirin!? Deep Space 224!? The counselor shrugged good naturedly, wondering how he’d heard of her adventure with her cousin Alieth. Addison had made it clear that it wasn’t something she wanted too many others to know about. Meidra smirked to herself. oOYou can’t stop a legend….or one of those blasted wanted posters were found again. Oo Sirin: ::lowering her sunglasses with her free hand:: You... know about that? Regan grinned, making the deep green of his eyes twinkle. Wilde: ::Chuckling.:: Oh, honey, everybody knows about that. ::Beat:: I’m a security officer. We all got the memo. Don’t worry, though. I am a bit of a misfit on my ship too. I’d love to hear the whole story of how you took on Klingons. Meidra pushed her sunglasses back up and nodded, happy to have met someone who wasn’t judging her for past mistakes. Sirin: Perhaps once my friend and I here have a chance to settle into our room. ::whispers:: I told my First Officer this was a training symposium for Tribbles. She didn’t look closely at the paperwork, so here we are. ::speaks at a normal volume:: I’d love to hear more about your Tribble. What is his name? Wilde: This is Trevor! ::He held up the cage for inspection.:: My little pride and joy. I do all of his grooming myself. The shampoos, the styling. I’ve been trying to get that top little patch of hair into a mohawk, but so far no success… The counselor got a strong feeling that the pink creature in front of her was not fond of the prospect of such a hairstyle, but she nodded diplomatically. Roc was happy just to be brushed nightly. Sirin: A mohawk would be quite - different. Wilde: And your little Tribble, what’s their name? Sirin: Roc, it means hope in Vulcan. She is my little junior counselor, we visit people in Sickbay when needed. She’s very popular with everyone ::thinks of Genkos:: well - almost everyone. Wilde: You told your First Officer you were coming to a training seminar? Would they have frowned upon a showing competition? Were things so different on Meidra’s ship than the Arrow? Sirin: No she wouldn’t have objected at all. She would have teased me mercilessly over my desire to come to something so illogical. Being half Vulcan, most people assume that I have no desire for such things. What about your situation? Is it similar? Wilde: On the contrary, if I told Commander Collins I was coming to a training symposium, he’d look at me strange. A showing competition is far more my style. Sirin: I can see that, you and Trevor are quite stylish. She finished checking in, then gave her full attention to her new acquaintance. Her pure white Tribble seemed to stare at Trevor, but Meidra figured that it was because the only others she’d ever been near had not been pleasant. The little noises she made were quite soothing. Wilde: So you’re staying here? At The Grand Key? Maybe we can hang around together and check out the competition. Sirin: That sounds fun. To tell you the truth, I needed to take a few days and just recharge. We have a small ship, but in a way, that makes it difficult to have any time to oneself. Wilde: I definitely know that feeling. I’m here for shore leave too. Are you here totally for pleasure, or business too? They began walking together towards the elevator leading to the guest rooms. Pressing the button to enter, they quickly chose their floor and watched the doors close on the bustling crowd in the lobby. The two Tribbles seemed to be cooing at each other, and Meidra glanced down to smile at them before answering. Sirin: My boyfriend is in the middle of a week of training, he’s an EMT and has to keep his skills current. So, when I heard about this competition, I thought it would be a good bonding experience for Roc and myself. She’s got some self esteem issues. Wilde: Ah, a mix of both! The idea of a Tribble with self-esteem issues made his nose wrinkle in amusement. Tribbles were such fascinating creatures. He’d wanted one for as long as he could remember. He was so pleasured and flattered when Mees had found him one while they were blockaded over Theta 122. Meidra grinned, leaning in to confide in Regan. Sirin: And maybe I have always wanted to come to a Tribble showing competition. I’ve read about them, but never seemed to find time to attend. She had a flash of something pass through her mind, and realized she was picking up emotional signals from the nice young man. Something about a wedding. Sirin: Have you been to one before? Wilde: This is my first competition, too. Technically I’m here for shore leave, though my twin sister is getting married soon and she let me organise the bachelorette party. But I managed to get some free time away from organization duties. This is going to be such fun! Sirin: You seem rather confident. One thing Regan Wilde did not lack was confidence. Wilde: Are you kidding, Trevor is a sure thing! He’s well groomed. He’s got a top range melody. His obedience could be a little better… He cast a suspicious eye at his pink little companion. For a species as docile as Tribbles, Trevor had a curiously disobedient streak to him. Regan would wake up in the night and the little pink ball of fur would not be on his sleeping pillow, or a different position in his quarters entirely. Wilde: But I’m forever an optimist. Winning would be incredible! Sirin: It would certainly give bragging rights. She imagined getting Roc a little crown and throne, then throwing a little celebratory party for her when she returned to Resolution. Then celebrating seeing her boyfriend again. Her pleasant thoughts were interrupted by Regan’s next question. Wilde: You mentioned self-esteem issues with Roc? How did you come to that conclusion? Sirin: She comes from the wildlife sanctuary on Vulcan and the others were less than kind to her. I was looking for a therapy animal to assist me in counseling duties but it seems that I must first build up her sense of worth. The elevator door opened, and the four started down the corridor. Wilde: Now that sounds really interesting. Trevor is my therapy Tribble, too. I was given him after a mission in the Alpha Isles… How much was he willing to confide in this new acquaintance of his? Obviously not too much to think he was a nut-job. So no mention of night terrors. Or episodes of lost time. Could he tell her about the pirates who boarded the Arrow? Probably. Captain Ghant? Sure. Captain Ghant torturing him and using his own Reman knife to cut out his eye and then eat it like an appetizer? Absolutely not. He controlled his thoughts and masked his moment of distraction with his signature smile. Wilde: This is going to sound forward, but I’d love to discuss therapy Tribbles some more. Are you free for dinner tonight? I know all the hot-spots of Risa. ::He almost winked conspiratorially.:: Thanks to my Wilde youth. Pun intended. For some reason, most people delighted in puns about his name. Sirin: Dinner sounds fun. Thank you for the invitation. Meidra hadn’t planned to go out her first night at the resort, but Wilde seemed like someone who would be an excellent dinner companion. Wilde: Excellent. I’ll send my shuttle to pick you up. Eight o’clock? Sirin: I’ll be ready. Is your room nearby? Regan looked around the corridor and chuckled. He’d been so engrossed in conversation he almost forgot he didn’t have a reservation. Wilde: Oh, I’m not staying here. My family has a beach house on the seafront. A few of us from the ship are staying there. Sisters bachelorette party, as I mentioned. Sirin: I see, well, enjoy seeing your family. I need to get this one ready for her nap, it’s been a long day for her already. Wilde: Then I shall see you at dinner, Meidra. It’s always fun to meet a fellow officer. And I’m sure there are lots of adventures to be had here. Though I will warn you, I’m not fighting Klingons… ::He grinned mischievously.:: Well, no promises! Sirin: Hah, you’ll be fighting them alone ::holds up Roc:: I have this little one to think of now. Oo And Addison would probably leave me in the brig this time oO Wilde left with a grin, and Meidra entered her room, quickly setting up a bed for Roc with a hotel pillow. She sighed, heading to take a quick shower, wondering how her little friend would like the competition. There was a restlessness in Roc, and Meidra was determined to find its source and help get the Tribble to a happier mind set. After she’d changed, she sent off a quick message to her boyfriend, Dwich, letting him know that she was thinking of him and hoping he did well with his training classes. She flinched, remembering an ill fated self defense class where she’d accidentally broken his arm. Thankfully, he hadn’t been seriously injured, and they’d finally confessed their feelings after months of near misses. Standing up, she went over to the large window and gazed at the stars that were just beginning to make themselves known. She was at peace, confident that there would be no drama or chaos on this shore leave. Smiling, she went to the mini bar and took out a bottle of Vulcan brandy, filling her flask. It was going to be a good night. ((Risa - Gino’s Bar and Grill)) Regan had sent his shuttle to pick his new friend - Meidra Sirin - up from The Grand Key, and deposited them a short time later at Gino’s, a little out of the way joint which wasn’t too fancy and overpriced, but not too low brow either. Regan had known Gino for years and always liked to stop in whenever he was on Risa. The handsome Risian was pleased to see him and offered them the best table. The little bar-slash-restaurant was lively tonight. Evidently the popularity of the place was on the up. Meidra smiled as Regan held out a chair for her, and she glanced around at the various people dancing and socializing. She wished Dwich had been able to come with her for this, but his career was very important to him because it allowed him to help others, and that was one of the many reasons she loved him. Wilde: I hope you don’t mind a little atmosphere with your dinner tonight? Sirin: On the contrary, I could use a bit of entertainment this evening. The buzz in the atmosphere was contagious, and Regan felt himself unwind almost instantly. The stress of organizing a party, combined with the sudden arrival of his mother and aunts at the beach house, had made him too tense to think straight. He was grateful for a chance to sneak away for the Tribble competition, and meeting another Starfleet officer who might understand that. Wilde: Your EMT boyfriend not joining us? Meidra sighed, missing Dwich a bit more, seeing the happy couples at dinner. Maybe they could go away together somewhere for a few days. She did have that cottage her grandmother had left her on a little out of the way planet. She could see them relaxing on the wraparound porch that circled the small home, watching the sunsets together. She shrugged, smiling at her dinner companion. Sirin: Unfortunately, his training sessions are keeping him busy. I won’t see him for another few days when I go back to Resolution. Wilde: Oh that’s a shame. I was going to ask if he had a medic friend he could introduce me to. When on Risa, as they say… He gave a smirk of amusement. Meidra matched it with one of her own, raising her water glass to salute him. She also wished Iljor was around so that she could introduce them. She wasn’t giving up on finding the science officer possible dates. Sirin: I’m sure you won’t lack for company once men know you are open to it. ::Looks around:: Risa looks a bit different since the last time I was here. Of course that was twenty years ago and I was not exactly looking at the scenery. ::winks:: My twin and I came here a few times to get away from the rest of the family. Separately of course. But we always shared our stories once we were back home. Wilde: Twenty years ago? I was but a child. ::He chuckled.:: Those Vulcan genes must do you wonders. Sirin: Thank you. I’m half El Aurian so they tell me that contributes to it as well. Wilde: How fascinating that you’re a twin! I’m a twin too! Roxy can get quite embarrassed about some of the things I used to get up on Risa. I was a bit of a reckless one when I was younger. Sirin: After our kahs wan, we left Vulcan for quite some time. During our teenage years, my brother and I came up with many ways to get into trouble. Oo Thankfully those records are sealed. oO A member of the waiting team came to take their order, and Regan waited for Meidra to order before he ordered his meal. Meidra chose a spicy hasperat then smiled up at the waiter. Sirin: Whatever Bolian cider is in season please. Regan? He held up a hand politely and waved it slightly. He offered an apologetic smile. Wilde: I’m… err… actually coming up six years sober. ::To the waiter.:: Just a fruit [...]tail for me, please. Sirin: Apologies for my assumption. Wilde: Please, don’t apologise. It’s not a pleasant dinner topic, but… it’s part of who I am. I accepted it, and I take mandatory counselling for it. Among other things. Sirin: Do you not find these visits beneficial? Wilde: Oh I’m not afraid of the counselors office like a lot of officers are. Sometimes when I get talking R’Ariel has to reschedule other appointments. Meidra considered her own visits with Genkos. The good doctor was kind enough to agree to counsel her when needed, and she considered him a true friend. She said as much to Regan as she took another sip of water before her drink arrived. Sirin: It’s interesting being a counselor and needing therapy. Our CMO looks after my mental health since I’m the only counselor on board. I’d never admit it to him because he’d be embarrassed, but I think he’s one of the most compassionate men I’ve ever met. Wilde: ::Nodding.:: I think a lot of doctors are. Kind of comes with the territory, doesn’t it? She remembered her former fiance and how he was anything but kind. Those memories would stay with her, locked away, no matter how much therapy she had. She pushed the thoughts away, but still, answered his question with a smile that did not quite reach her eyes. Sirin: You would think so, but I have found that some doctors only look at people as test subjects. Then again, some people think of creatures like Tribbles as test subjects. It is always refreshing to meet a physician that truly values life. Wilde:: Have you found Tribbles to be… beneficial in counselling? He expected a laugh or jeer or something, but he was actually quite serious. Wilde: That’s a legitimate question, by the way. I know Tribbles get a lot of flack sometimes, but Trevor has been a huge help to me. The counselor nodded. Roc had comforted quite a few patients in Resolution’s sickbay. Something about a purring ball of fluff made even the most hardened hearts melt. Unless one was a certain grumpy CMO, but he’d come around eventually. Sirin: I believe I have found few creatures so in tune with compassion and the feelings of those around them. They exude a calmness that makes them invaluable in a counseling setting. Where did you find Trevor, if you don’t mind my asking? Wilde: Oh, he was a gift. From a friend. We had a bad mission at Theta 122. Well, we had several, but I’m trying not to keep score. Orion pirates boarded us and caused a lot of damage to the ship. The Captain of them and I… fought and she injured me. Quite badly. And I started having interrupted sleep and losing time. I guess you could call it PTSD. And Trevor helps at night when I wake up. Sirin: I’m sure you give the same comfort and familiarity to Trevor. After some issues with my family, I guess I felt a bit alone. We were on Vulcan for shore leave recently, and found myself at a wildlife sanctuary looking at Tribbles - I had one as a child - and Roc was alone in a corner, shunned by the others just for being a pure white creature while they were boring browns and greys. I suppose she reminded me of myself. Surrounded by family, but shunned for being different. ::points at red hair:: This doesn’t exactly scream Vulcan. Meidra remembered her last trip to Vulcan where her grandfather had sent assassins after her just for being less than a perfect Vulcan. She took a sip of her drink and focused on enjoying her evening. Wilde: I’m wondering if Starfleet will sanction their use as official therapy animals. We still use dogs and cats, why not Tribbles? Sirin: Why not, indeed? Officially, Roc is listed as a pet, but she’s been very helpful getting my patients to open up in a safe environment. Not many can be stressed around a Tribble. Unless one is Klingon, and I’m not sure the usual counseling methods work well with them anyway. In my experience, it tends to be more - physical - when discussing issues with one. Meidra thought back to her night in the brig on DS224 - true, she’d been reprimanded by one angry First Officer, but the tattoo and the memory was precious to her. She really should call Alieth soon and see how she was doing with her very illogical ship mates on the Thor. If she wasn’t in a relationship now, she may have been tempted to find the Klingon scientist she debated later that night in the brig. She laughed to herself, knowing that would never happen. Dwich was her ashyam, her beloved, and she smiled to herself as she thought of him. Sirin: Do you see it happening? Wilde: I’m sure with a few strong supporters, they might seriously consider it. I wouldn’t mind backing such a movement. If all else fails, it could be done privately. I have the latinum to invest. I just need the Tribbles, and for that, I’d need a breeding license from the TFA. Meidra nodded thoughtfully. Finding unaltered Tribbles was hard enough, finding specimens suitable for a breeding program was increasingly difficult. She wondered what one needed to do in order to be granted a license. She then smirked, wondering how Genkos would appreciate Resolution overrun with cooing Tribbles. Sirin: Is that difficult to procure? I know the Tribbles on Vulcan are sterilized, but - nothing is one hundred percent effective on that front. I’m reminded of an old human saying, life finds a way. Wilde: The Tribble Fanciers Association is quite strict with whom they grant licenses to. Tribble breeding is quite tricky. You’ve probably read the reports of when it goes wrong… Sirin: ::takes a sip of her cider:: Thousands of breeding, voracious Tribbles overrunning every unclaimed bit of space. It would certainly get interesting quickly. Wilde: ::Chuckling:: As amused as I would be to see a ship overrun with Tribbles, I can see why others would protest. Sirin: Tribbles are quite docile unless… Wilde: Experimented on... Sirin: Yes I have heard of the experiments Edward Larkin did on the Cabot.::takes a sip of cider:: I hear he was suffocated by a mountain of Tribbles for his hubris in injecting them with his own DNA. ::shrugs:: Thankfully, Vulcan has worked to reverse this, but it’s probably a losing battle. To get permission to knowingly breed a population that can overpopulate without regulation may be difficult. ((Meidra and Roc’s suite, the Grand Key Resort)) Roc had had a short but productive nap, and now was waiting for the human to return to her to prepare a cup of tea for them and sing her to sleep. She wasn’t sure what a competition was, but would try to do her best for Meidra. She couldn’t help thinking about the Tribble she’d noticed downstairs as Meidra made another new friend. He was a Tribble, yes, but - pink. She’d never known one with such bright coloring and such an aura of chaos. She could feel him generating rage as quickly as she instinctively tried to soothe his anger. It was exhausting how many things he complained about. Baths, hair styling, being spoken to. It was enough to make Roc wonder why he hadn’t jumped into a pool of lava - surely life with such a caring human was not something to be reviled? Still, there was something about him that drew her to him. He seemed to have such a strong personality and she was quite mesmerized by it. She needed to see him again and learn more. Settling back into her pillow, she bounced once onto the remote for a viewing screen on the wall and started to watch an old documentary on the history of bread making. ((Meanwhile…)) ((The Wilde Beach House)) The filthy biped - the stupid one with the hair products - had left him alone for the evening, and Trevor was always glad for the solitude. Bipeds were a disease, and he feared spending too much time with them would infect his pure little body. Besides, this biped did nothing but talk! Useless, mindless talk - content to drivel on about everything and nothing. It drove the tiny creature half mad… Then there was the pampering. Ceaseless baths, and shampoos, hair styling and the usual degrading processes this insane biped subjected him to. It was torture! It must be amusing for the bipeds to treat other creatures of the galaxy so inhumanely. Trevor had to face facts. He was a pet! A primitive form of life whose purpose was solely to amuse the feeble minded biped in whose clutches he was now a slave. But he’d show them. Soon, he would have his revenge, and all bipeds would get what they deserved. He’d planned it for months now. He had a way to control the weak minded fools who thought themselves his masters. Yet… the white one. He’d sensed her in the hotel earlier that night. She was different, somehow. He sensed in her an aura. A power similar to his own, but… different. Trevor didn’t know what it meant. But he was eager to see the white one again, and soon… ( (Risa - Grand Key Resort; Main Competition Tent)) “GOOD MORNING, RISA! I’m Vivienne Zavaroni and I’m here at the luxurious Grand Key Resort at the south beach for the annual Tribble Showing Extravaganza - ‘Furs’. Always the pinnacle of showing season, ‘Furs’ has been a staple for Risian culture and tourism for nearly a decade and attracts Tribble owners, breeders, showers and fanciers from all across the quadrant in three action-packed days of competition. We’re seeing thousands of people in attendance this year and the excitement is definitely in the air! ‘Furs’ is judged on five categories including Best Breed, Agility, Obedience, Melody and the coveted Best in Show. ::Beat:: The TFA judges are about to begin the proceedings and this FNS reporter is on hand all throughout the show to capture the highlights and backstage gossip. Let’s cut to the main parade ring and see some of the top contenders for Best in Show!" Regan had met with Meidra after breakfast to get into the main competition tent early and secure a good spot backstage. Meidra, for her part, was quite excited to be a part of something so different from the ordered life she had on Resolution. She wondered if she’d ask Aine to come along next time, the security officer enjoyed new experiences and made everyone around her just as excited with her infectious smile. The atmosphere was electric, even for Risa. All around competitors and event staff were rushing around and directing people to the right places in the tent, and the melody of the tent full of Tribbles was both soothing and exciting. After being directed to their preparation area backstage in the massive showing tent, Regan turned to his new friend. Wilde: Have you got everything? Sirin: I think so, this is our first time, so I’m hoping I’m not missing anything. I can see you’re relaxed though. Oo I wonder if anything makes Regan doubt himself. oO Wilde: What about you, nervous? Meidra looked around at the various trainers and Tribbles, feeling quite out of her element. She shrugged, grinning. Sirin: It’s odd, I’ve been in hand to hand combat with Klingons, and yet I feel a bit overwhelmed being here today. As a former model on Betazed, Regan was used to the limelight and the attention. Still, he had to admit he did have a bellyful of butterflies today. So many people! He lifted Trevors carry cage onto a nearby table and began rooting through his backpack for all the grooming items he’d brought. Sirin: Is that all for today? ::remembers that she just brushed out Roc’s fur and hoped for the best:: Wilde: What category do you have first up? Sirin: I think it’s a dance number of some sort. ::watches Roc bounce up and down in her carrying cage:: She seems pretty excited. ::Roc coos at Trevor, trying to get his attention:: Wilde: I have obedience and agility first. I hope we’re ready… Sirin: I’m sure Trevor is more than ready to shine. They didn’t notice their Tribbles deep in conversation. Later, they would wish they had. ((Mini-Timewarp)) Regan was with the rest of the competitors in his category and stood in the tent in front of the judges. Famed Tribble breeder - Clarissa Dickinson-Smythe - was head judge for the competition. She was a prized shower for many years before deciding to try her hand at breeding. Regan found her to be delightfully eccentric. The President of the Tribble Fanciers Association - Duncan Lovejoy - was also on the judging panel. A prim and proper human, he cast a languid eye across the competitors. Meidra walked up to see the judging after Roc had easily won the dance competition. For a Tribble, it was mostly jumping up and down while trying to stay on the judging platform, but Roc seemed to have it under control, having practiced to old Terran music from Ireland, courtesy of Aine. She saw Regan and Trevor, giving them a small wave of support from her seat nearby. Trevor was being less obedient than usual, which didn’t bode well for a competition in which you were judged on your obedience. They were standing at their little table waiting for the judges to pass along. Regan smiled when they reached his table and presented Trevor for inspection. Clarissa administered the standard checks then picked up the fuzzy pink ball of fur. Dickinson-Smythe: What a beautiful hue. And a mohawk? Such an inventive use of style! Wilde: Thank you! I do them myself. Lovejoy: Certainly one of the best styled. Meidra had the strongest feeling that something bad was going to happen, but she had no idea what it was. Her stomach started to churn, and her vision became a bit blurred. She could have sworn she heard someone call her name, but that was obviously just her imagination. Clarissa held Trevor up to eye level to further inspect the creature, when suddenly she let out a piercing shriek and almost dropped the Tribble. Regan reacted quickly to catch Trevor as he fell from the judges hand. Dickinson-Smythe: It bit me!? Lovejoy: Come now, Clarissa. That’s quite impossible. Dickinson-Smythe: I tell you it bit me! Trevor - nestled in Regan’s hands - began emitting a tinny shrill sound as opposed to his usual dull and soothing coo. Tribbles all around the tent began reacting immediately and started shaking and making shrill sounds of their own. Almost like they were in pain. Their owners and handlers looked to each other in shock and surprise as the commotion grew in intensity. Roc started shaking and Meidra took her out of her cage, holding her close to soothe her. The shaking only became more pronounced, and Meidra started to worry she was ill. The rest of the competitors were panicking now, and the sound of confused shouts and Tribble shrieks filled the tent. Wilde: Trevor? What are you doing? As if in response, a fiery red aura emitted from the Tribble. The squeals increased and even more confusion erupted as the rest of the Tribbles in the tent emitted the same cruel aura. The Tribbles began reacting violently and began attacking and biting their handlers. People were shouting, screaming and running around to escape the chaos now in the tent. People started throwing cages at each other, growling like Trevor. Meidra heard her name again and was startled to realize it was Roc. She glanced up at the chaos around her as a chair narrowly missed hitting her and Trevor seemed to be laughing. She ducked as a punch bowl sailed past, Tribbles riding inside like they were relaxing on a churning purple lake. Roc was agitated, and Meidra held her, cooing to her gently. The little creature immediately started humming loudly, a strong, melodic sound that seemed to grow in intensity, as she started to glow. A pure white light started to seep from the Tribble, bathing both itself and the counselor in a cocoon of peace. She could hear Roc as clear as if she were speaking aloud, and watched in horror as the pink Tribble took control of the room. Roc: ~Pink one! This is not the way!~ Trevor: ~Silence!~ Roc: ~Meidra, do something, he’s out of control.~ Meidra felt the light surround her even as the screams and flying Tribbles surrounded them. She could see the chaos even if she could not move to stop any of it. Two of the larger furry creatures had torn down the **Welcome to Furs** sign that had hung above the main podium and were bouncing around, tripping people as they made their way through the room. Sirin: He’s attacking, Regan. You have to get him to stop. Wilde: I don’t understand? Roc: ~Meidra~ Sirin: Get him back in his cage before he hurts someone! Regan held the little fiery Tribble at arms length, as if to give him a stern telling off. Trevor moved like lightning, quicker than anyone had ever seen a Tribble move before. He raced along the outstretched arm and up behind the humans neck. Regan let out a terrified yelp as what seemed to be fangs sank into the back of his neck and into his spine. His eyes rolled up, revealing a deathly white. The same angry red aura that emanated from Trevor moments before now enveloped the security officer. He stood solemnly like a statue, almost regal as the eyes he no longer saw with scanned the room, Trevor (as Wilde): Attention puny bipeds! Your arrogance and domination of this universe is at an end... Sirin:: Regan? ::realization hits:: You’re not Regan. What are you doing? These people haven’t done anything to you. Roc:: ~ Your anger is misplaced, my friend. Let us help you. These are good people.~ Trevor (as Wilde): Prepare to be enslaved! The winds started to pick up, knocking over a barrel of premium, Grade A Tribble Kibble, scattering tiny pieces of food like a swarm of stinging insects, getting into eyes, noses, ears. It was turning into a blitz of grain that had a life of its own. One judge tried to put the lid back on the barrel, only to have it tip over and chase him out of the tent screaming for his life. Sirin: ::to Roc:: ~We’re going to have to stop him on our own.~ ::to Trevor/Wilde:: This is ridiculous, you can’t destroy people over a bad haircut. Roc: ::to Meidra:: ~I don’t want to hurt the pink one. ~ In response, Trevor caused Regan to outstretch his arm, and an energy bolt erupted from his fingertips. A nearby table burst into flames and sent more people scurrying for cover. The tent seemed to moan with pain, and the wind intensified, sending judging PADDs flying in all directions. Trevor (as Wilde): I will use this pampered, simpering bipeds body to complete my plans for galactic domination. The bipedal age is at an end. Red lightning hit the top of the tent, splitting it down the center as people continued to scream. One Tribble bit another judge and he spun around, thinking it was the judge next to him. A punch was thrown, prompting a return shot, and soon people were brawling in the midst of the kibble storm. Meidra sheltered Roc as she faced down the mohawk wearing demon, determined to end this disaster before they were hurt, or worse, thrown into a brig. She did not intend on ending up in another brig. Addison would have her head. He was about to let another energy burst when he felt the presence of the one who intrigued him. The white creature with a form like his present one. Roc’s calming energy strived to reach the furious ball of pink but he was resisting. She senses something strange about him, like he was more than she was, yet still, not fully a Tribble. Sirin: Roc, can you talk to Trevor? Roc: Give me a minute, he’s gone nuts. Sirin: ::dryly:: Is that your professional opinion? Trevor (as Wilde): You… the white one. You are not like the others. To Meidra, it seemed like the pink fluffball was trying to puff himself up like a fish she’d seen in an old Terran biology text. She wondered if she pinched him, he’d deflate. The sounds he was making reminded her of an angry goat, another Terran creature. At this rate, she was going to have to go to Terra because they seemed to have the most interesting animals. Sirin: What is he saying? Roc: Again - need a minute. ::to Trevor:: You can’t kill these people, they are not your enemy. Trevor (as Wilde): Spare me your sympathy for the bipeds! Why do you ally yourself with such basic creatures? Sirin: Regan, can you hear me? I know you are in there. ::knocks her fist onto his head:: Hello?? Regan? Come out, come out wherever you are. Another chair flew by and Meidra was startled to see a judge hanging onto it. Shaking her head, she turned back to the chaos in front of her. Roc: Save your attempt, Meidra. The human’s mind is like jelly right now, sweet but not very solid. Trevor (as Wilde): I am not from this dimension. Not from this universe. I am a traveller. I took this form to explore. ::Beat:: I despise this universe. The bipeds way of life. I must eliminate it! Sirin: ::to herself:: maybe if I zap him with a phaser….. Roc: Meidra! Not helping. Sirin: Fine, what if I just did a Vulcan nerve thingie on him. Roc: That is not what that move is called. And no, you might hurt the human’s brain. Sirin: Like the psychotic shapeshifting Tribble isn’t doing enough of that? Trevor (as Wilde): ::To Roc:: You have so much power, white one. So many gifts… Why waste them? Roc: Perhaps I like knowing the universe I live in isn’t going to implode with me in it. Trevor (as Wilde): It is not that easy. I have… Eons of loneliness of this unknown cosmic being-in-Tribble-form had taken its toll. Hate was all he knew. It was his purpose. Wasn’t it? Roc: I feel your pain. That isn’t all that this universe has to offer. Trevor (as Wilde): What else is there for me? Roc: I would be willing to travel with you, to show you all that this universe can give to us. And perhaps, what we can offer in return. Trevor (as Wilde): You would… do that. For me? ::The pink menace pondered. Regan’s eyebrows arched involuntarily.:: Is this a trick? Roc: It’s an offer. We can be as strong as we’d like, without destroying all that is. What do you think? Trevor (as Wilde): You are wise, white one. Together, perhaps we shall learn more of this universe. I accept your invitation. The little white Tribble seemed to gaze up at her friend and sigh. Meidra couldn’t understand Trevor, but she had heard Roc’s words, and knew that this was the end of their journey together. She hugged her Tribble to her, feeling proud and a bit mystified why Roc would willingly go off with a crazed alien - whatever - was now in the form or a harmless looking pink ball of fluff. Roc: Meidra, I thank you for giving me a home, but Trevor has given me a purpose. I was never really meant to help those on Resolution. They have you. But this one needs me. I must go with him. I hope you understand. Sirin: I know you are right. I have no idea what happened here today or how we are speaking now, but I know if anyone can help that….::sighs:: Trevor….it would be you. Meidra glared at the defiant pink ball of chaos and took a deep breath. Sirin: She’s made her choice. But if I ever hear that you have harmed her, I’ll find a way to find you. ::her voice softens:: Keep her safe, Trevor. And good luck. Then, as if by the flash of some all-powerful Q, Trevor and Roc were gone. The chaos and madness of the remaining Tribbles died down, and the fires and smoke cleared like fog on a summer's day. The Risian sunshine peeked through the tatters of the ‘Furs’ tent, or what was left of it. The competitors of ‘Furs’ began clearing up the remains of the competition, and a very confused Regan stepped out over a fallen barrel of Tribble kibble, his clothes partially-singed, his hair looking like he’d taken 10, 000 volts, and ash smeared across most of his face. Sirin: ::fighting hysterical giggles:: Are you all right? You look like you’ve been through an electrical storm. Wilde: Where’s Trevor? And Roc? Sirin: Gone. Together. I supposed it was fate. Or some sort of practical joke of the universe. Wilde: The little sod bit me! Sirin: Well, I’m sure there is a first aid kit somewhere in this mess. Let’s find you a bandage. Wilde: I’m so sorry. I had no idea my pet therapy Tribble was a psychotic being from another dimension. You think you have a connection with someone… Sirin: Somehow, I think the two of you did have a connection. It was a bit deranged, and probably the least healthy I’ve ever seen, but it was there. The remaining judges - head of the TFA Lovejoy and famed Tribble shower Clarissa Dickinson-Smythe approached - each looking rather haggard. Lovejoy: Mr Wilde! Regan rubbed his scorched sleeve across his face, to try and make himself a little more presentable. He despised being called Mr. Wilde. It always made him feel subservient, like someone was addressing a butler. Lovejoy: I think it is safe to say your membership to the Tribble Fanciers Association is hereby revoked! Dickinson-Smythe: And you can forget about a Breeders License, too! Without further ado, they left. Moments later Risian security poured onto the scene, along with emergency services, fire and rescue and the very frantic-looking management of the Grand Key Resort. Regan saw the end of the phaser rifle press against his nose and he very weekly raised his hands in surrender. Sirin: Good luck Regan, I’ll see if I can talk someone into getting you out of this mess once I figure out how far I’m into it. Wilde: ::Side-glancing his new friend.:: Well I must say, Counselor, this has been such fun! Shall we meet up again for next year's event? Sirin: Regan, if you even think of getting another Tribble, I’ll find a way to blast you out of this universe myself. The two friends smiled at each other as Wilde was led away.
  17. so I ALWAYS look forward to any interactions with @Randal Shayne and @Alvarez and this latest one on our Shore Leave had me rolling. For a little context, Maria had just discovered an ancient bootleg still in one of the many compartments of the Arrow (which is filled with knick-knacks from the previous "lost" crew) and she brought it to Shayne for inspection. What follows is the scene afterward: ((USS Arrow, Deck 1 - Captain's Ready Room)) Ding. Shayne didn’t react for a moment; it was not uncommon for him to be lost in space, but it was patently unusual for him to reflect on events so recent. The conversation with Rodan had… shaken loose something inside him, and though he wasn’t certain how to manifest the change, he knew one was needed. Not a permanent one, mind you- a momentary dabble, a dip into possibilities. Now, though, he was needed. He shut off the feed to the bridge- no need for people to think he was quite so paranoid- and turned his attention to the door. Shayne: Come on in. He regretted the informality of address as the one person he could not imagine would still be on the ship strolled in. Alvarez, the sort of person Risa was simply built for, had to know that they’d not be staying in orbit forever. What was she doing here, now? Alvarez: Evenin', cap. But if her presence alone was a mystery, the thing she carried under her arm was easily twice as curious. It looked like it had been pulled straight out of the S.S. Anachronism; bits and pieces that belayed an age less than two decades hung from it limply, like it was a reluctant child in Momma’s hands. Shayne’s face immediately turned stoney. Shayne: So help me, if that is part of the computer core... Alvarez: :: She grinned. :: Well, that's one way to greet your favorite bridge-duty ops officer. The commander’s face, already foul, turned properly villainous. There was time aplenty for Alvarez’s ridiculous games. This was his shore leave too! Couldn’t she just… behave? For five minutes? Alvarez: Found this on deck five. In that closet we could never open. Shayne squinted, and leaned in. Now that he was looking at it without fearing it would explode as some moxie-toxic prank of the ensign, he was fit to realize that it was definitely a jury-rig of some sort- a mess of EPS taps, an ionic coupler here, a distributor module there… and all of it looked to be from a time before Shayne was scurrying underfoot in an engineering department. Shayne: Well… what the hell is it? There was nothing quite so frightening to an otherwise calm Shayne as a smile from Maria Alvarez. Alvarez: I thought you'd have recognized a proper piece of tech back from your good old days! Shayne: They were either old or good. Now he stood, attempting to inspect it for something he recognized personally. When it arrived, he understood where he’d seen it before instantly; on his cadet tour, aboard a Miranda class that was easily 85 years his senior. Shayne: Ensign, I’m not a fossil. Yet. Alvarez: :: She raised a hand in surrender, with a toothy smile. :: My mistake! :: She repressed a chuckle, paused, then explained. :: Anyway, it's a stil. Circa 2322 - older than any Saber by twenty years. Figured you should know I found it, since I'm supposed to be on good behavior and all that... The PADD slid toward him was filled with more information than was available to the naked eye. He looked at it ruefully, but if he was being honest, the designation of “stil” was all he needed to make a decision. Shayne: Good thinking. Go ahead and scrap it before the crew gets any ideas. The stress on the word “crew” made it clear that he was attempting to mention Maria without mentioning Maria; while a couple of others aboard might try to actually make use of the stuff, one of them was working against an alcohol addiction, and the others were not so blessed with free time or means to enjoy whatever ill-conceived [...]tail this [...]ameme contraption could craft. Alvarez: You sure you don't want to keep it? Would be nice to honor the previous crew, and it could go a ways to lift the crew's spirits. Pun aside- and it was a good pun- Alvarez had, perhaps unintentionally, hit the nail on the head. When Arrow was first discovered, there was very little data connecting what had happened to her original crew to the ship’s dilapidated, damaged state. The Saber class vessel had never quite recovered from the wounds she’d sustained during whatever painful, abandon-worthy events had led to her situation. Even Starfleet Command had remained tight-lipped, though Shayne had it on good authority that it was because they were as in the dark as he himself was. Either way, any piece of evidence would be helpful. Shayne: Alright. Take some scans of it. If it makes you feel better, download the schematics. But I want this to not get to the rest of the crew. Alvarez: Oh, come on! We can't chuck it without at least sampling what it can do first, can we? There's a good liter of stuff left over from last time it was used. Scans clean. Apparently, Alvarez was possessed of more pockets than Shayne, because, as smooth as could be, she pulled out a clear bottle of something from behind her. Shayne: Oh, now wait a minute- if you intend to put whatever dregs are left into that… Alvarez: Please? It's not some ancient alien gateway or god-molecule needing destructing. Surely it would be nice to rescue some old tech? At least toast it before sending it off to a museum. We're off duty. I'll go first, if you're scared. The commander had worked very, very hard to suppress his darker side. Few knew of it beyond the occasional irascible condemnation or biting comment. But the effort was real, and present. Among these efforts was a generalized abstention from alcohol- it made everything more difficult, and it simply wasn’t worth it. Another facet was his emotions; despite having achieved much from an objective perspective, there was a… wrath within the man that could only be derived from feeling as though he had not proved himself, now or ever before. He tamed it, did not let it rule his decisions, but it required constant attention. Now, with shore leave, an oncoming inquiry, and a smirking ensign that was challenging his courage, the commander had simply had enough. Shayne: Fill the bottle. The man watched as Alvarez maneuvered the remaining fluid from the still into the bottle. It looked slightly meaner than conventional alcohol, though that was not something that was given much attention in the commander’s mind. He was singly focused on one thing alone. About three quarters of the liquid was left in the still as the pour neared the top. Alvarez: Response Before the bottle could be properly topped off, Shayne snatched with the reflexes that years of desk duty had started to dull, and without hesitation, sat back to chug. Even the smell was enough to peel the flesh of his chubby face from bone. The first taste, though, was torture. He was a sensitive man, and in his fury, he had forgotten this fact. Fire would be preferable, he decided, as the first swallow lashed at his throat. Again he swallowed, his mouth ablaze. Tears had already started to form at his eyes, and mucus began to flow freely from his nose, and still he drank. Somewhere between his mouth and his esophagus, the liquid became white-hot daggers, driving into the flesh of his gullet, each inch a new, self-induced agony. Veins began to splay outward as the lack of oxygen joined the conspiracy, but finally, with eyes reddened with sclera, the bottle was empty. Refusing the urge to throw the container away, he instead demanded control of his body once more, and slowly placed the bottle back onto the table. He gazed at Alvarez, not minding the suddenly frazzled appearance he’d given himself. Shayne: Oh my. Alvarez: Response Tag/TBC…
  18. I don't know why, but I just got such a giggle out of Regan crooning out this tune in the mess hall after discovering his ex works in the shuttle bay.
  19. Popping this in here to say a huge thanks to @Alvarez for being my writing partner for this story arc, and to say what fun it was writing and creating a friendship for our characters. Thank you! This turned out better than we planned, and I'm very proud of it. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  20. For all our advancements in technology and medicine, the loss of a friend is still keenly felt by all that knew and served with them. Here, Lt. Jg. Wilde beautifully commemorates the rich service of one such comfy colleague, speeding it upon it's way to Valhalla's basement rec-room. Great job, @Regan Wilde! Funny and touching in equal measure. ============================ ((OOC : You wanted a sofa funeral, you've got a sofa funeral...)) ((USS Arrow - Deck 3; Main Engineering)) {{One Week into Shore Leave}} It was a truly sombre affair. A lot of the battle-damaged consoles hadn’t been fully repaired yet so the whole engineering section had been decorated with black drapes, and the central area held an old fashioned easel which held a large and audacious painting of the Engineering Sofa. The painter, who wished to remain anonymous, obviously had trained in the Romantic school of impressionism, because the painting looked far better than the actual sofa ever did. The sofa had been a devastating casualty in what most of the crew were calling - rather too excitedly - the ‘Battle for Main Engineering’ in the midst of the pirate boarding. The sofa had been used as a makeshift barricade, hidden behind as a shield, hit with many disruptor bolts, been split in two by an exploding duranium engineering door, flattened by the aforementioned door, caught fire from the molten metal on the aforementioned door, and phasered into oblivion. In the centre of the room was a sleek cherry wood podium which on top housed a small, silver urn. The remains of the sofa; well, what was left of the remains, had been ceremonially cremated (if you could actually cremate anything which was already 70% ash and the rest a gloopy mess of fire extinguisher foam and springs), and placed in the urn. Regan stood in front of the warp core, his finest dress uniform complete with black armband cascading the brilliant lights of the warp core against him. He wore a large black pair of dark sunglasses, his hair coiffed expertly. His new synthetic now in place and working, Regan was now back at his best. Beside him Chief Thaon Brom wore a traditional Scottish kilt, complete with sporran, socks, hat, the works. Odd, considering he was a Tellarite and not remotely Scottish in the slightest. Brom solemnly played the bagpipes as the rest of the guests milled into engineering. Regan was going to ask where he got the bagpipes from but was, quite truthfully, scared of the answer. As the guests entered they shook hands with, or kissed the cheek of Lieutenant Keneth Nakada, who had taken to his role as the grieving widower with aplomb. The sofa had been one of his work colleagues, and in the latter days, closest confidants and companions. Wilde: Dearest crew of the Federation starship Arrow, thank you for coming. My name is Lieutenant Regan Wilde and I’ll be your Master of Ceremonies for today's event. I’d like to start today's proceedings by saying how sorry I am for engineering’s loss of a fine and dedicated piece of furniture. Particularly to Lieutenant Keneth Nakada whom I believe spent more time sleeping on it than he did in his own bed. We mourn and cherish the service the sofa provided to everyone on board. For she was not just a piece of furniture to some. To me she was an eyesore, but I digress. To engineering she was a comrade, not a tool. She offered comfort, protection and relaxation. She even had a little drinks holder in the armrests. The left hand seat reclined out with a footrest, and was covered expertly in fine corinthian leather. Scholars say that in her day she retailed at the princely sum of $699.99, which I’m led to believe was and I quote ::Consulting his PADD.:: ‘Top quality at a bargain price’. ::Beat:: Such a loss. We enter the service of Starfleet in order to better ourselves, to improve humanity's understanding of the universe; and in working with, living with, and indeed loving other species we forge a better, peaceful universe in which we live. Starfleet doesn’t, however, teach you how to live without superior upholstered furniture in your life in circumstances such as these. This sofa seems irreplaceable to the needs of the crew. Indeed, that particular brand of sofa hasn’t been manufactured in this quadrant for at least three hundred and fifty years and I beg Keneth never reveals to me from which space dump he stole it from. Some things must forever remain a mystery. We gather today to pay our respects, to mourn, to comfort each other the only way we can, and to begin a healing process. In my writing of this eulogy I searched through many counselling texts, none of which had any significant information whatsoever to prepare me for the insanity and downright ridiculousness of today. However, I’m grateful that Counselor R’Ariel is around, should anyone need any further assistance. Ladies, gentlemen, honoured androgynous and non-gendered species, I ask you to raise your glasses to ::Checks his PADD, then snickers a little.:: Really? ::Regaining composure:: To Sofia Davenport, the engineering sofa. Who bravely and valiantly gave her springs, so that the ship can live on. Anyone: Responses Wilde: I believe Sofia is survived by a number of scatter cushions, and a manky old throw which was so old and threadbare we cremated that too. We hereby commit Sofia’s remains to the galaxy. Ashes to ashes, stuffing to stuffing. Fly high amongst the stars, Sofia. See you… somewhere out there. Anyone: Responses Wilde: Would anyone like to say a few words before we beam the urn into space? Anyone: Responses TAG! -- Lieutenant(jg) Regan Wilde Security USS Arrow C237708DW0
  21. A collection of sims which close out our latest mission, and I'm extremely pleased of how the endgame and climax turned out for certain characters. We do have some fantastic writing here. Super well done to new crew member @Alvarez who smashed it out of the park first time, and my personal thanks to @Quentin Collins III for writing such a marvelously diabolical Captain Eru Ghant. Her legacy will haunt us. Captain Eru Ghant - The Black Dance: Overture - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/UrJkQ4fhI5E Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Allegro - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/LXv1z0t5_uA Captain Eru Ghant - The Black Dance: Accelerando - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/TsET8zySjY4 Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Scherzo - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/qmCvNibTG18 Lt.jg Regan Wilde - The Black Dance: Crescendo - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/HMXotefay_8 Lt. Artinus Serinus - The Black Dance: Cutting In - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/zch3-ZyCwf4 Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance: Lento - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/5-MHxdmimXY Ensign Maria Alvarez - The Black Dance - Presto Calamitosa - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/9j92poAeu4U Captain Eru Ghant - Darkness, Her Arms Stretched Wide (Or; Offer from the Black) - https://groups.google.com/g/sb118-arrow/c/R1HglerGDqg
  22. I loved this sim by our very own @R'Ariel. We don't often get such an in depth glimpse into the mind of our Caitian/Deltan counselor like this, and I thought this sim was lovely. For a character who often describes herself as 'ugly' and a 'mutant' because of her genetic heritage, she most certainly is not. I love the bloody bones of this character!
  23. I know, submitting my own sim, how gauche! But I was really proud of this special Halloween Below Decks piece. Happy Halloween! ((USS Arrow - Exterior, Space; The Final Frontier)) Throughout the ship there was silence; Aside from the usual humming of consoles, the gentle thrum of the warp core, and the minuscule sounds of other electrical elements that usually worked on a starship in the middle of the night. On the bridge Delta Shift sat at their posts, observing whatever they needed to observe, scanning whatever they needed to scan, push that button, realign that relay, and do the myriad of mundane tasks they needed to do to make it through the boredom of the graveyard shift. Most of the crew slept, relishing the end of their shifts and ready to slumber before attacking the new day in the morning. ((USS Arrow - Deck 4; Regan’s Quarters)) Regan was a messy sleeper. He slept heavily, as was his custom, and was found sprawled across his bed, covers and pillows haphazardly thrown around him which made him look ridiculously like a cat in a big cushion. One of his legs draped over the side of the bed, and he was dangerously close to falling out if he rolled over onto his side from the comfortable position on his stomach. The chronometer on his bedside read 11:59. Minute to midnight. The witching hour approached. The Arrow was an old ship, and had developed her own rhythms and foibles over her years of service. Like an old house that might ‘rest’ after dark when the occupants retire, Arrow sighed a light breath of relief when the crew went to bed. The carpets and deck plating relished not being trodden on at the end of the day, the doors eased into slumber without fear of being swooshed open on a moment's notice, and the turbolifts wound down from their day's use. There was silence on deck. Every clock, chronometer and computer terminal on the ship ticked over to 00:00. The clock in Regan’s quarters sounded an alarm call, like one would do for a morning wake up call. Only no one had requested one and if they did, it wouldn't be for midnight... Waking up sharply from a deep sleep, Regan checked around the room to half wake himself up, half remember where he was. He rubbed his eyes groggily and grasped the little clock from his bedside. It was still chiming in his hand, so he shook it impatiently to make it stop. It did, after it chimed for a full two minutes, after which he grumpily put it back where it was. Resting back into his bed, Regan closed his eyes and tried to get back to sleep. He was in no rush to get up just yet, still plenty of time for blissful slumber. The lights turned on in his bathroom across from his bed. It didn’t bother him at first, but Regan needed total darkness to sleep. Peeking one eye open, he saw the bathroom light on and groaned. He was just about to get up to switch it off when it did so itself. Darkness again. Sighing contentedly, he snuggled down for more sleep. The light flicked on again. Oh this was getting ridiculous. First thing in the morning he was going to fill out a maintenance request and send it to engineering. There must be a faulty power relay or sensor outage. Once again the light flickered out. Regan kept a suspicious eye open to see if it would happen again, and after a few moments of inactivity he was sure the problem had solved itself, so he went back to sleep. ((00:20)) Suddenly the doors to his quarters swooshed open alarmingly, filling the rest of the room with light, then closed as if it was natural to do so without a command. The shock of bright light awoke Regan instantly. He stomped out of bed and approached the door. It didn’t move. He pressed the panel beside it, and the doors parted. Regan peeked out into the corridor. Someone was playing a prank! That had to be it. Someone was messing with the functions in his quarters as some sort of twisted prank. He knew what date it was. October 31st. All Hallows Eve. He was impressed that someone had had the guts to choose him as a target for some Halloween spooky fun. Oh, his revenge would be swift and merciless when he found out who was responsible! Suddenly the lights in the corridor of Deck 4 flickered from light to dark, eerily. Looking from left to right, there was no one else around. Only him and the flickering corridor lights. They flickered for a few moments then shut off into the blackness all at once and, reluctant to admit he was scared, Regan yelped and ran back to bed and hid. ((00:45)) The lights on his personal replicator blinked in sequence. Slowly, carefully, it turned on like it was waking from sleep itself and whirred into existence a pot of hot tea . The replicator chirped a happy little tone to indicate the user should take their requested beverage. Regan heard the sounds and poked his head out from under his pillows. Ok now this was wrong. Something was very wrong. He watched as the replicator came to life again and dissolved the teapot, replacing it with a bunch of daffodils in a crystal vase. Wide awake now, he got out of bed and crept barefoot across the room. He checked the replicator functions but was met with an angry concoction of noises and lights. With an annoyed grunt he thumped his fist against the replicator. Wilde: I’m not scared, you know! Whoever thinks this is funny, I’m not scared and I’m going back to bed! He called out to his empty quarters. Someone was behind this, he was sure. This had Keneth Nakada written all over it… Wilde: You hear me, Keneth!? I’m not scared! The flowers dissolved and the replicator went back into sleep mode. Everything seemed calm. Regan gave a tired but grateful sigh and climbed back into his bed. Suddenly the lights came on in his quarters and started flickering wildly, so too the lights in his bathroom, and the sound of the sonic shower hummed forcefully from the other room. The replicator bolted into life again and made an orchestra of angry computer sounds so odd it made Regan sit up in bed and gasp at the machine across the room. It gurgled and groaned before it wheezed and spat out a waterfall of bloodwine! With no glass or flagon to catch it, the thick, sickly beverage oozed from the replicator and over the edge, dripping down the wall panel and pooled on the carpet at the foot of his bed. Regan watched, frozen in terror as the thick liquid oozed closer to him, searching for him. It seemed to be moving, and creeping closer and closer to his bed. A brilliantly dark sea of bloodwine soaked the carpet and pooled around his bed, creeping slowly, still coming for him. His bed was surrounded on all sides by bloodwine, sloshing and bubbling around him like it being brought to the boil by some great heat beneath the floor. He cried out now in fear… ((USS Arrow - Deck 4; Regan’s Quarters)) He awoke still yelling. Sweating and panting for breath he almost tumbled off the bed in alarm until he realised the chronometer on his bedside was chiming. He had accidentally reset the alarm function somehow and it showed an alarm call for 00:00 hours. Wilde: Oh my God...it was a dream? Placing the clock back in its place he lay back and caught his breath. The replicator was in sleep mode, no signs of expectorated bloodwine. No signs of blinking lights from his bathroom or mysteriously opening doors. Grateful but still unsettled he closed his eyes to try and get some sleep. He started to chuckle at the absurdity of the dream. Ghosts and spooks in this day and age? Get a grip, Regan. Then the light in his bathroom blinked on and off. Regan yelled and grabbed his duvet covers from his bed and ran from his quarters. He ran into the corridor and banged on the closest door to his: Room 2, Maxwell Traenor’s quarters. He banged and banged with the palm of his hand and pressed the door chime repeatedly, dancing madly from foot to foot in the hope of making the door open sooner. The form of a greatly confused and sleepy Maxwell Traenor appeared in the doorway, obviously disturbed. He looked like a big grumbly bear that had been woken from his hibernation. He looked at the younger Lieutenant carrying his duvet and dressed for bed in his Starfleet issue tank top and shorts with a mix of amusement and confusion. Wilde: Maxwell! I’m so sorry but… can I sleep in here tonight!? NT/END
  24. I'm putting this trilogy of sims in because I love how they are written, and how @Artinus Serinus asked one day 'Hey, can I add a character to the Brotherhood' and developed this Andorian machine and fleshed him out like this in a matter of days. I love when sims turn out like this! True attention to detail and love of character. I'm happy to have this guy in my Cult! 😁 PART 1 (OOC: Long, and dark. Reader discretion, as well as patience, is advised.)) Cheldon ch'Doro was a bad man. Was, being the operative word, or was it? Surely even the gods could forgive him for using his skill and talent for extreme violence in defending their sacred waters. At the tub, he methodically washed the blood from his clothing, and performed the holy cleansing ritual on his heavily scarred blue form, contemplating the routes his life had taken. He'd not always been the one driving, but once he'd seized the wheel in desperation and rage he'd only driven more dangerously, taking even rougher paths, frantically holding down on the accelerator, intoxicated on power and adrenaline. The only redemption, before the real redemption, were the few smooth patches here and there. ((Flashback, 36 years ago)) ((Therinis 4)) Therinis 4 was supposed to be a paradise planet. And for a time, the small colony had been a true heaven. A temperate climate and abundant resources as well as it's location in an emerging trade node brought early prosperity to the small outpost. That was not the Therenis 4 that he had been born on. Nearly a century before, a global crisis in the form of a super volcano had ushered in a global cooling event that darkened the skies and devastated the local economy. The traders and the rest of the better off population fled in their trading skiffs and private shuttles. The rest hunkered down, some as individuals and family units, others in larger ad hoc communities based on race, religion, or ideology. Once the greater Galactic community became aware of their plight, Federation aid helped to get the colonists through the worst. Andorian families came looking to help, or for adventure, or any other numbers of reasons, attracted to the now Andorian hospitable climate. His great-grandparents had been in this wave of immigrants. People struggled through the climate crisis, and some of the Andorians grew relatively rich, farming the already fertile and now ash enriched soil outside of the main settlement of Meltown, acclimated to the weather and pocecssing This brought a class component to already growing divisions in the local society. ((Meltown, Dramarkt' district, Saint Damine of Talos Orphanage.)) The nun shivered as she opened the doors, someone had rung the front door a few hours after dusk, and she had a good idea what that meant, suspicions confirmed momentarily. A loud, high pitched siren of a scream came from a plastic box, which curiously, didn't have any blankets overhanging it. The blue tint of the baby worried the worn and weary elderly woman, until she noticed it's antennae. Stapled to the box was a note. Dear Sisters, The streets are too warm for this one. Work is hard to find, and we all all in ill health. You are this child's only hope. His name is Cheldon ch'Doro. ((End Flashback)) Cheldon wrapped his cut right triceps in the frawns of the indigenous Trusklani plant, and tied the ends together. The dried leaves, semi-porous, with natural analgesics, were well suited for bandaging. His chest, and left thigh had already been taken care of. Just more scars for the tapestry that was his skin. Cliche as it was to say, each scar told a story. Left manibubalar bone: The time two older ophans beat him for a pair of leftover rolls he had stashed from dinner at eight years old. Chest, halfway between the inner right shoulder blade, and the clavicle: Having run away from the orphanage, again, at age twelve fighting back (and winning) against the kid that tried to steal his day's beggings. The one that sliced inward over his left orbital bone, to his cheek, barely missing the eye itself: Sixteen years old, blessed by puberty to have height and muscle. Illegal knife fighting, to incapatitation, pay out 1 bar of latinum. He had won. All that, and more before he even got off of his home planet. ((Flashback)) ((19 years ago)) ((Meltown, Rosedale District, Tripene Square, Melandra's)) Seven months had passed since his eye had been cut, and five and a half since his first opponent died during a fight. He had hoarded and expertly hidden every winning since then, for this chance. Melandra's was the gathering place of the upper class man looking for a "courtesan," as they euphemistically called them. The orphan, streetrat, gladiator, killer, was dressed in the finest tailored suit in the place, and while bulky, scarred men weren't the usual type, he was more than exceeding the dress code, and could afford the cover charge, so he was let in. The interior was a delicate balance of old money classy and nuevo-rich tacky. Rich dark leather and wood furniture, and neo-neo-neo classical marble and granite architecture mingled freely with enough neon A.R. to make any establishment on Free Cloud blush. Then there were the slot machines, a city block's worth, each unique, most of them unoccupied. A tiny blond in a skimpy maid outfit, and obviously fake Vulcan ears, wandered around with a silver tray handing out complimentary cigars. As she passed by the entrance, he took one, then accepted her offer to light it off for him. Cigar lit, he thanked her, and began to wander about, himself. He passed the main public seating areas, then the grand staircase, just taking in the sights, sounds and scents. As he neared the gambling devices, he heard a woman's voice. It was strong, but undeniably sexy. Woman: Pardon me, sir? He turned back to talk to the woman. An amazonian with a deep tan and flaming red curls, and enough of a forehead ridge to denote some Klingon ancestry. She was dressed in a white Sun Dress with a red rose print, and white heels. Woman: You have been invited to visit the boss' booth. Why? Was he in trouble? Clothing aside, a young man of herculean stature did stand out amongst the retired businessmen, and out of town traders. If anything, he was built like a bodyguard. Cheldon: Did they say why? Woman: Not my job to ask questions, kid. Cheldon: I suppose I should go and see. Woman: Very well, follow me. She turned heel before he could reply, and led him to a broom closet behind the grand staircase. She shifted a bottle of bleach a certain way, and the back wall slid open to the right. Ten feet beyond the false wall was an elevator shaft. The woman pushed the button, and they waited about fifteen seconds in silence. Behind them, the false wall had closed back up. The ding that signaled the arrival of the elevator was relatively soft. The doors opened to an opulent elevator, highly buffed onyx floors, and cherrywood walls. Such elegance to be stuck hidden behind a broom closet. There were only two floor buttons, 1 and 3. This was obviously a specialized transport. The part Klingon woman pushed the 3 button and the lift began it's ascent. Another soft ding signalled their arrival. And the woman took a right turn. Five doors down, the woman led him right again to the doorless doorway with a sign that read "Private Booths." The leftmost room had a key reader on it. The woman pulled a navy blue card from a hidden pocket on her right hip and placed it flat against the reader, the lock popping open. Woman: Go on in. You're expected. Of course he was. They'd literally invited him just now. But he'd figure out soon why being expected was so important. Cheldon walked into the room. It was set up like any private booth, with one-way windows that opened on the establishment below, polished white marble floors, and the actual booth wedged in the corner so that the occupant, a portly, pale human man could see all the goings on of the first floor. As Cheldon passed the threshold, the man spoke. Man: Welcome to Melandra's. This man didn't look like a Melandra to him. Cheldon: I wasn't expecting an invitation like this. . . Man: Not every top rated knife fighter has the foresight to save their money up to visit an establishment of this quality. And I've never seen one so young figure it out. This man had seen him fight? Or maybe one of the burly women and men milling about in suits was his talent scout. Cheldon: I figured after all the hardships I deserved a nice night out. The man grinned and nodded enthusiastically. Man: Well, I'm sorry, I'm only familiar with your ring name, Victor Champ. It was a cheesy name sure, but one he strived to live up to, and generally did. Cheldon: My name is Cheldon. Man: Well, Cheldon, what if I told you that you could have nice things from now on? Cheldon: You'd have my attention. Man: One of my bodyguards has recently had an unfortunate accident. Cheldon wasn't so sure how unfortunate it was, or how accidental, but he wasn't going to let the man know that. Not when he sounded like he was going to offer him a job, not with a dozen other bodyguards around. Cheldon: I see. And you are looking for a replacement? Man: Indeed I am. You catch on quick. I like people who adapt quickly. I'd like to offer you a spot. Cheldon: I'm interested, with such a strong lead up, and all. Man: Ah yes, nice things. A week's pay is about one fight for someone your tier, but you get in-house lodging, use of the kitchen and the chef, the in-house tailor will fit you for a weeks worth of suits once per year, as well as help you pick an off duty wardrobe. Cheldon: The girls? The man snort chortled, he snortled. Man: Should have guessed. What you and the other employees do with your own time is your business, but on the clock is a big no no. And don't let your performance suffer. The ones who aren't looking for a husband tend to prefer this bunch to the rich grandpas that usually hang around here. Cheldon closed his eyes. Cheldon: This sounds a little good to be true, so far. Man: There are 10 hour work days, and 6 day work weeks, not to mention occasional off world trips. Opening his eyes again, he replied. Cheldon: That sounds a bit more realistic. When can I start? Man: Tonight. Your first shift will start at 8 A.M. tomorrow. But we can have your room and other accommodations set up immediately. Cheldon: Alright. Man: Go back out and tell the woman who escorted you in that have been hired. She will guide you from there. Cheldon: Yes sir. Cheldon left the room, met by the redhead in the hallway. Of course, it was hardly that easy. He had unwittingly signed up to guard the local New Orion Syndicate boss. Potential gang wars were always possible, and law enforcement was always poking around. More than once they had to rush the boss, Antone LeFoi, out before the police could find him. But he was given everything that he had been promised, plus more. Some of his co-workers were ex-military of various varieties, so he received quality training in weapons and tactics, as well as more comprehensive and systematic hand to hand training. It was the best his life had ever been, even if that bar was low. ((End Flashback)) PART 2 ((Theta 122, Brotherhood Camp, Baths)) As Cheldon toweled off, he continued to recall his past. Cheldon had enjoyed his time at the upscale Brothel, and for the first time in his life, things felt like they were going well. All good things must end. Another cliche, but just as true. ((Flashback: 17 years ago.)) ((Therenis 4, Meltown, Rosedale District, Tripene Square, Melandra's, Owner's Booth)) Donnie Marlino, was the underboss in charge of the local drug trade. A boorish braggart that loved to boast that he came from a long line of organised crime. He, tanned, unhealthily thin, with his thinning, and graying black hair, and goofy soul patch, was in the booth next to the boss yammering at him. Donnie: You know, my family has been in the biz since my great however many grandpa was made by the Gambino family in the 1970s. He pronounced every syllable of the decade distinctly "Nine teen sev en tees." Everyone knew that. Anthony mentioned it at least once in every conversation, stated in the exact same sentence, with the exact same odd pacing for the 1970s. A canned line if Cheldon had ever heard one. Like his ancestry could compensate for him being just the local underboss of a throw away little planet with only one real settlement. A Duke in a Kingdom of slums, feeding the diseases of the filth covered peasantry for his lord's enrichment. But what did that make him? Existential questions aside, Cheldon wanted to roll his eyes, but he dare not offend one of the boss' lackies. oO Yeah, yeah. Get a new shtick, Tony. Oo Even the bosses' face relayed his annoyance with his underling's penchant for running his mouth quicker than his brain. Finally, Anton LeFoi got tired of it. Anton: Donnie, you never stop telling that story. Get some new material. You need to think less about the glory days of the New York Italian Mafia, and more about why sales in your department are down by 7 percent this quarter! Donnie stammered, then replied. Donnie: We're doing some reshuffling. Lost lots of the old guys to cops. . . Antone: No excuses. Get the new guys up to speed. Yesterday, you son of a wh. . . Donnie Marlino had killed every man that had ever talked bad about his mother, and the fact that man doing it now was his supervisor didn't do a thing to stop the rapidly building rage. In one quick motion he reached for one of the steak knifes on the table. 3. . . Donnie leaned down and extended his right arm out, grasping the handle of the serrated knife next to his plate. Several of the bodyguards present around the room, drew their sidearms. Cheldon's was a Klingon disruptor pistol of a model that had left active service about 50 years prior. 2. . . Donnie simultaneously sat up and spun his waist inward turning his knife arm toward Antone's porcine form. Sidearms were raised and leveled on the attacker, and triggers squeezed. 1. . . With one fluid motion, the thin man managed to drag the serrated edges of the knife diagonally downward and leftward over the fat man's throat. Before his body dissolved away in a hail of fire that impacted so quickly that no-one could determine whose shot hit first. The immediate threat eliminated, the pack of bodyguards went to render first aid, and as soon as the kit was delivered from it's storage place on the back wall, they set to bandaging the cuts without applying too much pressure to the neck. One of the others called the local mob doctor, and he rushed over there, walking them through the procedure on the call as he drove over. Twas just a flesh wound. Donnie had missed the important stuff. Donnie Marlino had killed every man that had ever talked bad about his mother, except one. No-one saw what happened next coming. But had they taken the boastful little gremlin's tales of connection seriously, they might have. ((Time skip: 5 days.)) He was surely dead. This was the hell that the nuns had warned him about. It was all here. So was he, and he deserved it all. Even if he didn't deserve the things that drove him to it. The unbearable dancing flames, the smoke, the gut wrenching screams. Oh God, the screaming. ((Melandra's, Cheldon's room)) ((3:06 A.M.)) Cheldon sat up with a start, it was just a dream. Involuntary inhaling, his lungs were not filled with air at all, but smoke. Just like the dream. He rolled off of his bed onto the floor and began crawling towards his door as fire consumed his room. Breathing again, he got oxygen, as the smoke was gathering above him. oO Oh God, the screaming. Oo He made it to the door, and foolishly reached for the handle. A third degree burn on his right palm the payment for his folly. Flinching in agony and momentarily joining the cursed chorus of scresms, he withdrew the hand, and willed himself to stand, holding his breath. He walked backwards and ran forwards, shoulder slamming the door. Once, twice, three times, before the hinges buckled and he was in the hallway. He made his way back to his knees, and began to crawl again, toward the nearest secret staircase. Not risking another hand burn, he shoulder rammed the door to the stairs, until it too gave way. He stooped low as he began his descent. Halfway down the second flight, Cheldon was violently tossed forward, tumbling over, by a fallen support beam. Laying there, the last thing he remembered thinking was that now he'd be seeing that hell for real. ((End of Flashback)) Seems that crime did pay. Until it didn't. But that literal and figurative crucible hadn't been enough to straighten him out. Cheldon pulled his pants up, and buttoned the fly as he recalled in quick succession the hospital stay, the year and a half of laying low, the revenge scheme, the ensuing gang war it led up to, and the inevitable arrest. It was more of a surprise that he hadn't been arrested before. Prison. That was it's own thing. PART 3 ((Theta 122, Brotherhood Camp, Baths)) Pants buttoned and zipped, the beefy Andorian began to pull his black undershirt on. Scenes of prison filling his mind. ((Flashback 13 years)) ((Therenis 4, Cardin Island, Bilsby Correctional Facility. 50 miles from Beltown.)) Therenis 4 had never applied for Federation membership, despite the aid that had pulled the colony through it's toughest times, and the fact that most of the original and subsequent settlers were from Federation worlds. There were many reasons, remoteness, heavy amounts of unrest, the total lack of a global government. Beltown didn't even have a city government. Each district of the sprawling slumtropolis was practically it's own entity. One thing that was the common thread throughout the city was Drako Security Inc. They were a private police farce that had monopolized the law enforcement and prison industries throughout the city, and therefore the planet. Drako contracted with whoever had the most power in a district, as long as they tried to put on the face of a legitimate government. They had even helped coup districts to install more friendly leadership. Drako enforcement officers had arrested him and other former LeFoi associates after the gang war. The plan to avenge the burning of Melandra's and all the senseless deaths it had caused, including that of their former employer himself, had been targeted assassinations. The guilty parties, members of the New Orion Syndicate from other planets had almost caused a civil war within the organization sector-wide. Only a negotiated settlement from higher ups had ended the blood shed. Of the two dozen LeFoi bodyguards who had been in on the scheme, he was one of three who had sat at the peace talks alive. Funnily enough, the only Orions present were from the mother organization. That had been off planet, on a Syndicate frigate orbiting an uninhabited moon of an uninhabitable planet, a few systems over. Once they got home, and none of them had a real reason to return in the first place, Drako S.I. sprung their trap. Fifty armed, literal rent-a-cops, surrounded their shuttle and popped tear gas into the rear port as they were exiting. For good measure, each was hit with the stun setting from one of Drako's antique surplus phasers. When Cheldon came to, he was moving, yet restrained, being wheeled on an industrial dolly, by a man a foot shorter, and a hundred and fifty pounds lighter. His hands were cuffed behind him, on the back side of the dolly's middle bar. His midsection, from arm pits to hips, was wrapped in thick chains, wrapped elaborately behind the right bar, in front of the middle bar, then behind the left bar dozens of times. On his ankles were mantaciles straight out of 1400s earth binding his legs to the outer bars of the dolly. He was wheeled up a ramp, and the dolly was lowered to the ground on the elevated platform it led to. Next to it, on the ground level, and nearly level with it was a heavy duty ambulance litter. Behind that, was a full body X-Ray. This was when they stunned Cheldon again. Cheldon's next return to consciousness found him in a concrete room with a sonic shower, and a metal door on both the front and back walls. A loudspeaker in the top right corner of the front wall spoke up as he began to stir. Voice: Five minute shower, no longer. Then the back door will open, and you will step through it. Understand inmate 97561? Cheldon:'Yeah. There was no answer from the voice. The back door led to another small room, much narrower. Another metal door waited on the other side. Between them was another device that looked similar to the full body X-Ray that he had been knocked out for. The same voice, came from a different speaker, in the same general part of the current room. Voice: Step in inmate 97561. Cheldon did do, and the inner arm of the device orbited him. Voice: Step out inmate 97561 Cheldon did as we was told. They had brilliantly devised ways to keep the guards from having to interact in person. The back door of the second room opened, and he was spoke at again. Voice: Enter the next room, inmate 97561. Cheldon did, and surprise, surprise, another metal door on the back. On the left, near the front was a box that looked like one of the mailboxes people had once built into walls, but much bigger. Three feet further back, and two feet to the right of that, was a simple wooden bench. Voice: Take your uniform from the box, and put it on. Leave your civilian clothes on the bench, inmate 97561. Cheldon wanted to tell him where he could stick every article of clothing, but what good would that do? He snorted, but complied. Voice: Next room inmate 97561. The back door led to a room within a room. A simple, clear booth inside a doctor's office. There was another wooden bench to the right of the door he entered from. Voice: Take a seat inmate 97561. After several minutes, the doctor, flanked by two guards in full tactical gear, approached the booth. The shorter guard opened the door from his side, and the voice gave Cheldon the go ahead. Voice: Exit the booth, inmate 97561. After a quick sit on the biobed, and a couple dozen light scans, the doctor gave him a clean bill of health, and before Cheldon could lecture him on the Hippocratic Oath, the doctor popped him with an injector of sleep aid. Cheldon woke to the hard bunk of his new cell, curled up in a bed meant for a smaller man. ((End Flashback)) Socks, check. Shoes, check. Now as he donned his Brotherhood robe, the memories of prison kept flooding in. The first unwritten rule of prison was to find the biggest and toughest looking inmate and fight him, so no-one would mess with you. Cheldon was constantly fighting, never starting it, but consistently coming out on top. Most used weapons, the smarter new fish would sneak attack him. The really smart ones would all jump him together. But he routinely took out around three or four before they won. No matter who started it, there was a no tolerance policy for violence among inmates. And every fight led to solitary confinement. There was little reprieve. Weeks of harrowing isolation, followed by perhaps a few days of relative normality, then a short outburst of thrilling violence usually lasting less than a minute, and the cycle repeated itself. This was his life for the better part of a decade and a half. Then the riot came, and while it damned so many others, it sent him along the path of redemption. ((Flashback Five Months ago)) Cheldon was in solitary again, after seven new guys jumped him, and then spending a week in the medical block. He had knocked out three, and one of those had died in the medical block, five hours after the fight from complications related to internal bleeding. Modern medicine was beyond the budget of Drako S.I.'s corrections division. He had no idea when, where, why, or how, it started. But sometime in the early morning one day, the automatic door to his cell abruptly slid open. Over the loudspeaker a voice came on. It wasn't the voice that was usually on the speaker, but it seemed familiar. Voice: Riot, riot! The prisoners are in charge! We've had enough of these inhumane conditions. We're taking over! Well, that was a pleasant surprise so early in the day. Shielding his eyes from the burning light, he exited his dark cell and began to wander towards general population, and his normal designated cell on F block. Turning the first corner, he came upon several inmates assaulting Officer Dernis. Cheldon grunted an amused chuckle. The half-Romulan guard was a massive [...], on a power trip 24-7. Dernis was getting what he'd been deserving for the seven years he'd been working here, and probably long before that. Cheldon: If you hit him slightly softer you can make it last longer. Cheldon had heard Dernis give this very advice, word for word, to a new guard who was politely put, interrogating a prisoner a few months back. And just to get the point across, the Andorian had given the advice to his fellow prisoners in his best impersonation of the guard's voice. Walking away immediately, he called back, without turning back. Cheldon: Wait for me in Hell, Officer Dernis. We'll swap stories, share a round of the Devil's best tequila. He came across plenty of other Officers being assaulted. But none of them he had hated as much as Dernis. And the ones he could stand, well he didn't like any of them enough to stop the momentum of the moment. As he neared F Block, the new local voice talent returned. Voice: We have liberated the Armsroom! Free riot gear, and weaponry for all our brothers and sisters. First come first serve, but don't get greedy! ((End Flashback)) Cheldon straightened his robe, then pulled the hood up over his antennae. He closed his eyes and inhaled. ((Flashback after the escape)) The lake was at least five miles in any direction from the shores of the island, and less fit individuals might not have made it. But that wasn't all. There were about ten miles of open plains between the shores of the lake and any semblance of a hiding spot, en route to Meltown. A weaker man would have collapsed after the constant running. A cave in the first forest he came upon was enough shelter for the night. ((Time skip 1 month)) Cheldon had stolen a civilian shuttle he found parked outside of Meltown, and booked it for space. Not sure where to flee to, he decided to check out the flight plan of the former owner. A little world called Theta 122 where his victim was to deliver energy cells for a new solar array. Better yet, he ascertained that the people there were unfamiliar with the man, and didn't even know his name. And hey, the cells were already loaded. Cheldon hoped it was payment on delivery, but if it hadn't been, he would have made due. Anywhere but home, he thought. Now he was approaching his destination. He never knew what caused the crash in the desert, but looking back in hindsight, it could have only been the gods guiding him to his redemption. TBC Cheldon ch'Doro Lay Warrior Brotherhood of Thet
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