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  1. There was one of these for the Victory and I seen other ships with a simular topic, so here is a new one for a new ship, who wants to be the first to put up a funny Quote from one of the crew??
  2. How to write a good and awesome paced action scene by @Alleran Tan. Slow beginning, nice and in the mood of the previous scene, sudden snap to action, breathtaking description and..... Awesome job mate! ((Tunnel Fork, Darime Underground)) Wandering down an unexpected fork in the tunnel, one that wasn't on any maps, team JAMS—Jona And Mallora, Serren—were feeling pretty crammed in by the low ceiling. Or at least, Jona and Serren were. Mallora seemed to be doing much better. And the heat... and the smell... Okay, so everything wasn't so great after all. To make things worse, there was a hot, possibly radioactive, electronic thing on the other side of the wall. Mallora indicated it was a malfunctioning generator and he had no reason to doubt that assessment. But they had come to a fork in the road, one that wasn't on either of their maps. ch'Ranni: Great. Which one do we take? No way to know. Tan: Fifty-fifty shot. But if I had to guess... the new tunnel would probably be more interesting. That generator isn't going anywhere. Mallora stepped over to the place where the cooler passage split off from the main tunnel. There was a pile of loosely scattered rocks on the ground almost marking the divide between dug tunnel and natural cave. Waving her tricorder at the two passages, she examined the flow of data on the screen. Vossti: Sirs? I think there's a scuff mark here. ::she pointed to one of the larger oblong rocks about the size of a Trill honeymelon.:: Like someone stepped on this rock on their way through. Mallora looked at them questioningly. Tan: That would likely be our cadets then. Jona mulled the decision while the doctor leaned against the surface of the wall. The Betazoid doctor seemed a touch startled as she directed her tricorder to the walls of the tunnel. Vossti: What? ::hesitantly:: I'm checking for structural instability in the tunnel, but it looks fine both here and in the cave beyond. ch'Ranni: Good call. I think the last thing any of us wants is to have a few tons of rock and dirt falling on our heads. What does your scan show? Serren definitely didn't want that. But he really had no idea what they were looking at. Vossti: Response Tan: But it's stable for now, right? ch'Ranni: Right. Stable for now. That's the best we can do. Head into the natural tunnel and see where it leads. From the scuffs the doctor saw, we can expect that someone has passed through here before. That's enough to warrant a look. With Serren in the lead and the doctor bringing up the rear, they maneuvered themselves and their equipment into the side tunnel. In doing so they left behind the cramped passage as the natural one opened up above their heads. The sheer relief he felt when he was able to finally stretch out was delightful. But it wasn't just the high ceiling that brightened his day. The ceiling was dotted with bright shining geodes, reflecting and refracting the light all around them. ch'Ranni: The rock and crystal formations are amazing here. It was hard to disagree. Jona pointed to a yellowish patch of geometric crystalline growth on one passing stalagmite with his hand torch. It flashed and glittered in the beam of light with an almost internal glow. ch'Ranni: I saw some of this crystal in the ceiling of the main cavern. Tan: ::Softly,:: This is beautiful. Vossti: Response ch'Ranni: Record and sample everything. There's no telling what data the Pelian researchers may find useful. Vossti: Response Tan: Aye, Commander. Serren absently pulled out his tricorder and began taking a routine scan. Vossti would no doubt be on it too, but it was good to have a second set of data just in case. With Serren and Mallora working, Jona took a wander around the cavern. Serren idly shook his tricorder, urging it to scan faster. The sooner they were done with the scan, the sooner he could check out the beautiful geological formations. His eyes flicked down to his device, watching a tiny bar fill up on a too-small screen. Why didn't they make these things a little bigger, just so looking at them didn't strain the eyes so— ch'Ranni: ::calling out:: Whoa! Watch out! Serren's head snapped around. Time itself seemed to slow down; body instantly flooded with adrenaline, he assessed the situation in a flash. Hidden crevice. Deep. None of them had seen it. Jona, off-balance, arms pinwheeling. A split second away from disaster. Tan: Jona! Serren exploded into motion. His tricorder fell out of his hands, clattering onto the ground, and he slid out of his heavy pack in one smooth motion. Trill legs pumped furiously as he transitioned instantly from "relaxed scanning" to furious sprinting, closing the distance between himself and Jona. ch'Ranni/Vossti: Response Too late. He was going to be too late. He... Did a risky and dangerous thing, totally against his training, that risked sending him off the edge as well. Serren leapt forward like a hunting cat as Jona tumbled backward. His arms outstretched, reaching, reaching... trying to grab any part of Jona he could. A boot. Serren landed bodily on his chest, sliding on the smooth rock, shoulders over the edge. One hand had managed to grab hold of Jona's left boot, holding on with every ounce of his strength as he caught his buddy mid-fall. Tan: ::Grunting,:: I got you! But then the full weight of the guy was transferred to his arm, to his shoulder, and then to his whole body; threatening to pull him over the edge too. Serren's fingers held on to Jona's ankle as tightly as he could, his blue buddy swaying ominously below him. He felt himself sliding forward too; the weight pulling him over... kicking frantically, his boot hooked around a crystal formation, snagging there. Serren held on as tight as he could as Jona dangled over the abyss below. It all happened in just a few seconds. ch'Ranni/Vossti: Response Serren's training kicked in, voice totally bereft of its normal levity. His tone was clipped, calm, and professional despite the strain on his shoulder, ankle, and whole body. They'd need all three of them to get out of this. Serren shifted his posture, grabbing hold of Jona's boot with two hands now. Much better. Tan: Vossti. Rope in my bag. Tie it off on a strong-looking crystal, or use a climbing piton if you can't find one. Just anchor it. Commander, do you think you can put on a climbing harness upside down? Or freeclimb a rope? It was that or something much more primitive, like a lasso around the arm. ch'Ranni/Vossti: Response -- Lieutenant (j.g.) Serren Tan Security/Tactical USS Gorkon O238704AT0
  3. This.. just this. Action, humour and splendid described images. Nice work @Jona ch'Ranni ! ((Natural Cavern, Darime Underground)) The team of three had made their way into a natural cavern that forked off the newer tunnel construction dug by the Pelian surveyors. The vaulted ceiling and walls were littered with an impressive display of mineral ore veins and crystal patches. ch'Ranni: The rock and crystal formations are amazing here. He pointed to a yellowish patch of geometric crystalline growth on one passing stalagmite with his hand torch. It flashed and glittered in the beam of light with an almost internal glow. ch'Ranni: I saw some of this crystal in the ceiling of the main cavern. Tan: ::Softly,:: This is beautiful. Vossti: Response ch'Ranni: Record and sample everything. There's no telling what data the Pelian researchers may find useful. Vossti: Response Tan: Aye, Commander. As the two worked, Jona took a step back and spun on his heel. He made it only a few steps before his left foot found only air instead of solid ground. His arms pinwheeled backwards in an attempt to regain solid footing as the maw of the deep crevasse loomed before him. ch'Ranni: ::calling out:: Whoa! Watch out! As gravity became his worst nemesis, he slowly pitched forward, losing his vain fight to maintain his footing. Tan: ::from behind:: Jona! For what felt like seconds, but was logically much shorter, Jona felt like he hung motionless over the deep maw before its pitch dark tendrils pulled him down. A hilarious (it would be hilarious in any other circumstance) image flashed in his mind of an animation series he watched as a younglings where an anthropomorphic Gralaa wolf attempted to chase a Zabathu but always came up short in his endeavors. The poor wolf was always falling from great heights but somehow managed to survive. Jona wasn't so sure he'd have the same fate. Vossti: Response Just as he was about to disappear into the sheer ravine, he felt a hand grasp at his left ankle. It had to be Serren - the man who had stuck with him through bar hopping and shenanigans, the man who was the most important person in his life in this second. Tan: ::grunting,:: I got you! While Serren's desperate grip was keeping him from certain doom, it could do little to stop the laws of physics. The Andorian's momentum carried him forward in an arc and his face slammed into the crevasse's rockface below Serren's feet. There was something thoroughly unpleasant about dangling upside down in the blackness of a kilometer deep cave. ch'Ranni: ::with a nervous comedic quip:: Ouch. I just kissed a cave and I think I liked it. Vossti: Response Jona could hear Seren speaking in a clipped, serious tone - different from his usual light - and providing direction to the only one of them that could give an extra assistance. Tan: Vossti. Rope in my bag. Tie it off on a strong-looking crystal, or use a climbing piton if you can't find one. Just anchor it. Commander, do you think you can put on a climbing harness upside down? Or freeclimb a rope? Vossti: Response ch'Ranni: Yeah, I think I can. As he waited for the safety equipment to be passed down, he noticed he was still gripping his torch tightly in his hand. It was amazing that he still held it. Though, in the moment, he mused it was probably evenly split on whether a person involuntarily gripped an object in terror or chucked it away in surprise. He shone the beam of light above his head and spotted a hidden ledge about twenty meters below. And there was a light source casting a dim glow outward. ch'Ranni: How's that harness coming? Tan/Vossti: Response ch'Ranni: No rush. Hey, Serren, thanks for not skipping the upper body routine last week when I tried to get you to go to the holodeck with me. Tan: Response -- Lt. Commander Jona ch'Ranni Chief of Operations USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) C239510JC0
  4. @Alleran Tan here gives us a perfect display of humour, a very alien perspective of the scene and just the right spark of mystery and intrigue to keep us totally caught up in the misadventures of this unfortunate group of cadets. Good job! ((???, Darime IV)) Jack could smell grass and tree sap. They say that Kelpians can sense the approach of death before it happens. A combination of their various senses; acute vision, perceptive hearing, sharp noses, specialized threat ganglia, and instincts burned into them from generations of hunting by apex predators. Even in a semi-conscious, teetering between waking up fully and passing out again, Jack was definitely sensing it. How did they get here? And why were there plants? Isaacs: Ugh... ::He pressed his hand to the back of his neck, massaging the muscles in an attempt to relieve his headache.:: Is everyone okay? Or at least... you know, alive? Instinct kicked in. The prey-instinct to lay still when wounded, pretending to be dead, hoping that the predator's prey-drive would diminish. Lay in the grass, pretending to be tasteless. Gilbert: I’m fine, I feel like I just finished a week long pub crawl, but that’s not a first. Voices. Voices of his fellow cadets. They were all going to die. Ico: ::almost whispering:: I...I’m mostly fine :: The petite Bajoran turned to her left, towards the lanky form of her other colleague.:: Jack, are you…. are you OK? He was being directly addressed. That was enough to suppress the "play dead" urge for now. Eyes still closed, and groaning softly, Jack pulled himself up into a sitting position, his threat ganglia extended. It was hard for him to swallow the instinctive fear that coursed through his veins like lava through a subterranean tube; vahar'ai had not yet come for him, and the fear that it dispelled had not yet diminished. Eyes closed. That would help with the fear. Ressan: I... I believe I am uninjured. ::Bajorans used their last name first. He remembered that at least.:: Thank you, Ico. Uninjured. Just terrified. They were all going to die. With a shaking hand, Ressan did his best to smooth down the threat ganglia, but it didn't work. Finally, he opened his eyes. A kaleidoscope of colour greeted him, full of ultraviolet shimmers and unexpected thermal patterns. His vision rapidly acclimatised to the strange environment. His nose hadn't lied; there were trees here, plants of all descriptions, their thermal patterns and strange colours taking his dazed eyes a second to become accustomed to. Beyond them the walls here were metal, reflecting the light in a way that made him squint, pupils contracting. The warm glow of the three other cadets' body heat were a comforting sight, proving that they were, indeed, alive. For now. The other cadets seemed more blind than he was. Ico found her backpack and began rummaging around in it, while Issacs was fumbling with a box containing a tricorder, seeming to have trouble seeing it. When it opened, the sound echoed around the room, mirroring the various emissions his eyes were struggling to process. Overall, a confusing and disorienting sensation that only served to reinforce the notion that, in fact, they were all going to die. More worrying, Ico seemed to be checking the contents of her bag carefully, as though several items were missing. There was something about those walls that made it hard to see. Like watching a movie through a refractive lens. Their reflectiveness played havoc with his finely tuned senses; everything seemed too bright, as though someone had gone through and splashed everything with gaudy UV paint. Isaacs: Anyone know what happened? One minute we were... ::he paused, and screwed up his eyes in thought.:: Uh... I’m actually not sure. The last thing I can remember is breakfast. Gilbert: And breakfast didn’t contain alcohol, so why the hangover? Ena took a sip of water before she spoke. Ico: ::Handing the canteen to Gilbert:: I remember that we were about to go to a briefing with the instructor, and we were running late, so I packed my breakfast for later, then .... ::: she pulled a hand to her temple once more, migraine gripping her again as she struggled to recollect their past:: ...Then it's all a blur. Ressen: I was having breakfast too. Maybe our meals were poisoned... ::Although that didn't explain what happened to Ico. He managed a shakey smile.:: Breakfast! The most important meal of the day! Except for the antidote. Ico: ::Guys? Jack sensed it before it happened, his ganglia twitching. A low rumble, like from a stardrive. But there were trees here, this couldn't be a ship, unless— Light. Light so bright it momentarily overwhelmed his senses; his eyes quickly adjusted, watching buildings simply appear from the soil, thrusting upward as though pushed up through the grass by some giant. Ribbons of gold and ultraviolet hung down from the ceiling, thin ribbons of silver and ultraviolet between them like bridges. Cowering momentarily, unable to suppress his instincts once more, Jack took a second to breathe. It was okay. They were in a strange seven sided clearing... boulders sparkled with every shade he could see, a bountiful and dizzying array of light. Beautiful. A combadge chirped mournfully, regretfully. Then another. Ressen tried his as well, just like the others. Following protocol. Nothing. The only one who didn't try was Ico... which honestly made sense to him. Isaacs: So... We should probably try to get out of here, or at least get comms working. Any ideas? Gilbert: No…::Head craned back to look up at the towers::...where are we? What is this? What did you do? Ico opened her mouth, but quickly closed it. So today was Tuesday then... Ico had a great idea, but didn't share it, because everyone was talking too loud. They were all going to die. Ressan: I don't think any of us did anything. Solomon rounded on the other cadets, one hand on his hip, the other thrusting an accusing finger at them. Gilbert: Everything was fine until you started poking about at your tricorder, now not only do we have to get out, but we have these alien towers to worry about. Ressan: I don't think a tricorder could summon giant buildings. Isaacs: Response Ico raised up a hand awkwardly. Ico: ::shyly:: hummm Ressan, with his acute hearing, always found Ico's voice to be the most pleasant and well-modulated out of the four of them. But, once again, she was silenced by the two Humans. Gilbert: Do any of you recognise them? No, you don’t, so don’t pretend you do. For all we know you activated some sort of defence system which is going to vaporize us if we try to leave this clearing. Vaporized instantly. Turned to ash. Evaporated. Nobody would ever know what happened to them. They were all going to die. ... but there was no way he was going to let everyone think that. Ressan: ::Sarcastically,:: For all we know it might well have activated the galaxy's largest puppet-conversion ray. If we don't know, we don't know. Issacs: Response Finally, Ico mustered enough courage to raise her voice. Ico: GUYS! That doesn’t matter if we don’t get out of here. We are all friends and classmates after all... r-right? The Bajoran's voice lost strength and volume as she spoke. A flush rose to her cheeks, her whole face heating up warm as the dawning sun. Ressan: Yeah. You're right, Ena. We're Starfleet, we can handle this. ::Grinning,:: Or all get turned into puppets. Isaacs/Gilbert: Response They were all going to die. Ico: I don't know, but we have to remember our training: determine dangers, get as much information as possible, try to get out of here or look for help. Jack nodded emphatically, his threat ganglia twitching despite his efforts to quieten them. Ressan: That's right. Isaacs was right before, as well; we should try and get a signal going. Even if these walls are messing with our combadge signals, there might be a way once we sit and think for a bit. Isaacs/Gilbert: Response Ico grasped her bag tighter looked down at his boots—Kelpian style, designed to accommodate his tip-toes. Ressan was momentarily amused—just for a brief moment—that he didn't seem to be the most scared in his team. Ico: Maybe, maybe they are already looking for us actually, we just need to stay safe and don't do anything crazy. They had no idea how long they'd been gone, but four Cadets just up and vanishing wasn't something Starfleet would ignore. Ressan: It's a good survival rule. "Stay put". We don't know how we got here, we don't know where we are. We could be just down the road from our quarters, or we could be on the other side of the galaxy. ::Burying his fear under false bravado, Jack tried to reason with the two Humans.:: Could be a The Traveller situation, could be a Q, we could have gone full Voy' and be in the Delta quadrant—could be there's something in the air and we are all tripping the most balls ever as your people say with disturbing regularity. Until we know more, we should examine our immediate surroundings first. Isaacs/Ico/Gilbert: Response Pity none of them were medical staff. It could help eliminate the last suggestion. Ressan: I'm just saying. Let's look around before we run off. ::To Gilbert,:: You too. If a Q did this, I promise you can try and seduce them. ::He fought down a wave of nervous laughter.:: Not that you ever needed my permission to try the Solomon Manoeuvre in literally every single possible situation ever. They were all going to die. Isaacs/Ico/Gilbert: Response Humans were almost blind compared to him, but at the same time, increased visual acuity sometimes caused problems; at the present, he could see too much. Jack craned his neck, squinting and focusing his vision on those metallic walls. Within them he could see myriad reflections as the feeble light in the room bounced around and around, seeing himself and the other cadets' body heat, the shape of them from the side and behind and above, the light and thermal patterns disturbed and distorted like a funhouse mirror, reflections folding in on reflections until they were just a blurry mess. And the trees... so strange. He'd never seen any like them. Not in any textbook. Certainly not on his world. They were all going to die. Ressan: The walls are reflective in a wide range of bands; a good chunk of the visual spectrum, especially in the ultraviolet—and thermals, too, so... presumably that's what's scrambling our comm frequencies.. We might be able to talk to each other with a bit of rejigging, but we're not getting a signal out here if that material treats comm signals like it does everything else. But that'll take time. Isaacs/Ico/Gilbert: Response -- J'ryn "Jack" Ressan 4th Year Cadet simmed by Lt (j.g) Serren Tan Security/Tactical USS Gorkon O238704AT0
  5. Ensign Vossti frequently posts these little letters to people her academy buddy, and I have really enjoyed reading them. Keep up the great work, Doctor! ----- To Ensign Navoth, c/o USS Wyoming, The first ship I remember living on was the Ruby Star II. Then when it was retired in 238312, my family along with almost everyone else I knew moved over to the Crystal Star III. They were both civilian passenger liners which ran a regular route from Betazed to Starbase 12 to Risa and then back to Betazed. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time at the two planets, but there was some difference of opinion about Starbase 12. My parents were never all that fond of the starbase and I don't remember them looking forward to anything to do with the place except for a single human restaurant called The Poutine Experience. It took me a long time to figure out why my folks were so nonplussed about Starbase 12, but when I was about thirteen years old, I decided to find out. The three of us were in The Poutine Experience one day; we had ordered and were waiting for our food to be delivered, and I could feel the low, subtle emotional tension in my parents, so I asked them what was wrong. My mother projected her answer directly into my mind: “Open your eyes, Mallora. Resio isn't here today.” At my confusion, she clarified, “Resio, the only Betazoid server in this restaurant? Haven't you noticed that there aren't any other Betazoids on this gods-forsaken starbase?” I guess I hadn't noticed that before, but when I looked around, I could see that it was apparently true. There were lots of Humans and Vulcans and Tellarites and Andorians and Risians, but I couldn't spot any Betazoids. That revelation stuck with me and bothered me since almost 25% of the crew of the Crystal Star III were Betazoids. The following month when the ship returned to Starbase 12, I went onto the station on my own to explore. I didn't see any Betazoids then either, but I was caught by a Risian security crewman when I was sneaking around in a crew only area. He was far kinder than I expected a Starfleet security guard to be, so I mustered up my courage and asked him why there were no Betazoids on the starbase. “Who told you that?” he asked with a chuckle. “Of course there are Betazoids here; there just don't happen to be any in the operations division. I think most of them are in sciences or medical. I think there's also a Betazoid ensign down in engineering. Do you want to meet one?” I could feel his honesty and good humor, so I went with him to one of the science labs that day. I met two Betazoids who were working on a botany project of some kind, and they were kind enough to answer my ignorant teenage questions. When I returned to the Crystal Star that evening, I realized that there was a rift beginning to form between my parents and myself. I was reminded of all this because there is no shortage of Betazoids on the USS Gorkon. It is a very diverse ship, but I'd guess that close to 10% of the personnel aboard the ship are Betazoids, an a similarly healthy percent are Vulcans. My first reaction to this was abject joy, but then I started wondering where that emotion came from, and that led me to recall my experience on Starbase 12. I hope that you are finding your work on the USS Wyoming fulfilling and your coworkers eager and companionable. Your friend always, Ensign Mallora Vossti ---- Ensign Mallora Vossti Junior Medical Officer USS Gorkon G239805MV4
  6. A lovely little sim from Jona ch'Ranni, continuing his long-term plot with Vexa zh'Lev. A short one, but lovely to read. ----- ((Cafe, Iyira, Deluvia IV)) Jona sat lightly in the spacious underwater cafe. The transparent aluminum bubble that held the ocean water at bay domed to a peak thirty meters above. Artificial light mixed with the dreamlike illumination from the outside waters danced and played across the faces of the patrons. The Andorian sat at the small table near the edge of the glass wall and he let out a tiny smile that played at the corner of his mouth as a bioluminescent eel drifted languidly past. The sight of an insectoid creature staring back at it from the other side of the glass must have startled it as it darted quickly away. He shook his head in disbelief at the marvel of engineering that the Selkie had accomplished with their beautiful city. He'd taken refuge in the city below the waves as a compromise. The sunny beaches were far too warm and the more rugged and frigid wilderness had proved a bit dangerous as evidenced by his fall during a climbing outing. The submerged city was a bit cooler than the tropical surface and he found it pleasant enough. He hoped his companion would too. zh'Lev: Jojo? He was pulled from his musings and his hint of a smile grew into a full goofy grin. ch'Ranni: ::rising from his seat and moving to grasp the woman in a tight hug:: Vexa! It's great to see you. How have you been? The energetic young zhen released him from the hug and Jona could see the genuineness of her delight at being there. Being with him. Their paths had crossed years before at the edge of the Milky Way near the Galactic Barrier when he was stationed on the USS Columbia. The sudden end of the ship's tour in the Sagittarius Reach had left the civilian scientist at Dehner Base and ripped him away to a new assignment on the Gorkon. Their stilted and awkward attempt at a long-distance relationship had eventually ended in failure. But now she was here. zh'Lev: ::taking a seat opposite him and speaking after a brief pause:: Things have been rough. Jona nodded in understanding. She had come to him nearly a year before, requesting help from Starfleet. Dehner Base was under repeated assault by pirates and the Losarian Commonwealth - the first friends they'd made in the region - had been unable to provide consistent protection to the fledgling compound. Though an effort had been made to reinforce the protection, Starfleet had made the decision that the base would be mothballed. It had been a difficult transition for the small family of scientists back to the core worlds of the Federation and he imagined the woman sitting across from him was feeling lost and frustrated at the perception of failure surrounding their mission. ch'Ranni: I'm so sorry, Vexa. I wish there was more that I could have done. zh'Lev: ::with a steely gaze and sense of determination:: No, Jona. Don't do that. It isn't your fault. You did what you could. ::face softening:: Anyway, I'm here now. ch'Ranni: Yes, you are. ::pause:: Why is that exactly? zh'Lev: Oh? You don't want me to be here? ch'Ranni: ::raising his hands in a defensive posture:: No, no, no! That's not what I meant ... She reached across the table and playfully swatted at his arm. zh'Lev: Relax. I'm kidding. Like I said in my communique, I wanted to see you. ::backpedaling:: But there's a lot to do in the sector for an esteemed energy field expert, too. The New Horizons conference, Palanon in the Tyrellian system has some amazing research facilities that are looking for directors - A look of shock whipped his antenna back and he supplemented it with an eyebrow arch that would have made a Vulcan proud. ch'Ranni: Wait, you're thinking of relocating to this sector? TBC -- Lt. Commander Jona ch'Ranni Chief of Operations USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) C239510JC0
  7. What an interesting pair... IC: [[Infirmary - Starfleet Medical Academy - Four years and nine months earlier]] Ikaia had been holding a cold pack up to his left eye for what felt like a while. He knew for having a black eye, he was near the bottom of the triage list. But at the same time, his brain chemistry was actively being monitored. There was a very good reason for this and it had to do with that Vulcan male, Vanik, laying knocked out in a few biobeds down from him. The poor man had been going through his time and the infirmary staff had knocked him out with a hypospray just to make him far more manageable. Ikaia supposed it all started at the end of class today. Just as he was leaving for his next class, Vanik had stopped him in the hall. The thing that happened next was amazingly awkward - Vanik had proposed to him. Now, even if Ikaia knew him well enough and were dating him, he still would have considered this incredibly forward. Rejecting his advances resulted in Vanik chasing him up the hall and Ikaia giving the most Klingon scream of horror! The only saving grace was when he ducked into an empty classroom and used the maze of desks to finally drop behind Vanik and snag him up in a bear hug. Then, it was just a matter of hauling him back to the infirmary for treatment. Once there, Ikaia yelled out for help when suddenly the wiley Vulcan wriggled loose from his grip as if he were a very squirmy cat about to be given a bath. Before he knew it, he saw a fist come flying at his face. The impact was hard enough that it had sent him stumbling back into a nearby counter. He was absolutely seeing stars from being hit that hard. This of course brought him to that moment. He had just learned that thing, that “pon farr” was contagious. Nobody knew if a punch to the face counted for anything more than just a black eye. It was only then he realized how DUMB he was for wrestling an agitated Vulcan here. He could only hope that he and Vanik were going to be okay! So he laid back in his biobed and waited it out. With the infirmary so busy, he was still waiting for treatment for his eye. More than that, he was starting to get bored. With his book bag on the table next to him, he reached inside to pull out his PADD. He decided to call his favourite partner in crime and in the classroom - Alieth. He was glad to see her when she picked up. Wong: =/\= Hi, Alieth.=/\= The screen lit up showing a Vulcan with messy, wispy hair and absolutely outside the 23 regulated styles who appeared to be up to... something. Something that required talking really quietly and pacing really fast in a fairly dark alleyway. Alieth: =/\= Hey, Wong=/\= The Vulcan's face moved closer to the screen until it practically filled it, her features lit up with an eerie bluish light. At the same time, dark eyes, naturally narrow, stretched even narrower. Alieth: =/\= You look terrible, Wong, is that an orbital bruise?=/\= Wong: =/\= Errr… I'm kind of sort of in the infirmary right now. It's uhhhh… for a good reason.=/\= Alieth's eyes constricted into two tiny slits. Alieth: =/\=Wong... what are you concealing from me? You know you cannot hide anything from me, I am the master of hiding things, not you. Come on, take off that ice patch.=/\= Ikaia removed the cold pack from his face, revealing his black eye. It looked swollen and bruised. He really had been hit particularly hard! On the other side of the screen, Alieth clicked her tongue in a wordless sound of disapproval. For a brief second, however, she averted her eyes from the screen, glanced over her shoulder at something not visible from the screen, and hastened her pace. Wong: =/\=You know Vanik, right? =/\= The words earned a rolled eye roll from the tiny Vulcan, her opinions about her compatriot more than well-known. The most pleasant epithet she had ever given him had been "suitably lacklustre". Wong: =/\= ...The weird one who's always looking at his salad like it's going to leap up and bite him on his nose if he doesn't eat it fast enough? That Vanik? Well, turns out he was… er…. going through a uh… seven year thing and he decked me in the face. Also, I had no idea he found me attractive. Er… that was BEFORE he decked me in the face.=/\= The Vulcan froze for a second and stared at the PADD in her hands. At the top left edge, a bright light cast strange shadows on her features. Alieth: =/\=He has tried to bond with you...::the Vulcan woman paused for a second and the next words she uttered came out in an awkward tone:::.... in “his time". Do you have any... "symptoms"?=/\= Wong: =/\=Oh, they have me in observation right now because nobody knows if a punch to the face counts as anything. So I'm stuck here. The good thing is that I don't feel weird. Just my eye hurts a bit. But otherwise, I'm okay! How are you?=/\= He was at least TRYING to be cheery given the situation. Ikaia brought his cold pack back up to his eye and held it there. He hissed in pain when the cold pack made contact with his injury. At the other end of the communication, the young woman dropped something on the ground, a large quantity of some things metallic that could have been either spray paint cans, or medkits, or parts of an unauthorised motor vehicle under repair. Alieth: =/\=Busy, but I will be there, in ten minutes, twelve if I have to dodge security.=/\= Ikaia gave the best curious head tilt he could given his current situation. It wasn’t much. But it got the point across. Wong: =/\=Alieth, what are you doing? Or wait. What did you already do?=/\= The petite Vulcan tilted her head, as if listening to something (or someone) that only she could hear. A smile briefly lit her eyes, not quite reaching her lips, before a flash of pain extinguished them, and she returned her gaze to the screen. Alieth: =/\=You really do not want to know. Eleven minutes and thirty-five seconds, and by all means do not even think of dying before then. That is an order.=/\= Wong: =/\= I’m NOT going to die. It’s just a black eye and well… the other thing. Wait. Caaaan this thing actually kill me?=/\= The Vulcan raised the padd to her eye level, allowing, for a brief second, to see a less than ideal part of the suburbia near the spaceport. The Vulcan's naturally sober face delivered this time deadly sombre, her normal vivacious eyes somehow especially dull, like someone who carries a hidden pain that rarely manifests itself. Alieth: =/\= Oh, it can kill you as well as others. I know it well.=/\= Ikaia audibly squeaked. A horrified expression crossed his face. Suddenly, this became so much WORSE inside his mind. He swallowed hard with the realization of what she had told him. All the while Alieth's gaze remained fixed and unblinking on the Klingon's eyes, the sort of stare that pierced all the way to the soul and a little beyond, hammering hard on the seriousness of her words. Wong: =/\= ::Gulp!:: Y-you know what? I th-think I was happier NOT knowing that p-part!=/\= Alieth: =/\=Knowledge makes you wiser. And more prudent in the future, IF you have a future at all.=/\= For a second, the petite Vulcan's face relaxed slightly and a hint of concern flickered across her stern features. Alieth:=/\= Hang in there, I will be there before you realise it. =/\= Was it safe for Alieth to show up in the Infirmary given his situation? Ikaia was starting to worry for her here. Yet at the same time, he really needed a friendly face. He was willing to forgo that if it meant this was going to put her in harm’s way. Wong: =/\=W-wait. Are you going to be okay coming up here?=/\= Alieth:=/\= Sort of, yes. Safe in sixty-three point eight four four six two percent of the possible scenarios.=/\= The Vulcan looked away from the screen momentarily, picked up the bag she had left on the ground and, for a few seconds, the screen showed only a blur of streets, concrete, buildings, and street furniture. As abruptly as it had begun, the run came to a halt, the bag was deposited in a transport container, and Alieth then apparently strode into a more brightly lit area. Wong: =/\= Please be safe, Alieth. Okay? =/\= Alieth: =/\=Yeah yeah, I need to leave you now, okay? Just remember, I will be there soon, and do not even think of dying before then.=/\= Wong: =/\=Mahalo and aloha. I’ll see you soon.=/\= On the screen, Alieth briefly raised her hand in the ta'al, but did not say a word. Ikaia ended the call and waited. He was still questioning if this was a good idea. Never mind, he didn’t know how this thing worked to its fullest. Truthfully, this felt like the closest he had been to death. The idea that this could kill him absolutely scared him. He could feel it manifesting as a pit in his stomachs. He needed something to distract him. Anything. He reached over to his book bag and started rummaging around inside of it. He finally pulled out his PADD with some of his homework on it. It seemed like as good of a time as any to at least TRY to get some studying done. His medical ethics course had a quiz he was supposed to be preparing for anyways. He threw himself and lost the sense of time, putting all his mind to the options until he heard some approaching footsteps. Those didn't sound like one of the nurses but more determined and, at the same time, more subtle. When looked up and saw Alieth approaching him. Wong: Alieth! Ah. I’m glad to see you! I just wish it was under better circumstances. The petite Vulcan made a minute gesture with her head and shoulders, something that could perhaps have passed for a shrug, but was probably just too subtle to be considered a gesture at all. Alieth: That is irrelevant. She approached the side of the bed, glanced at him for a brief moment and then moved away to grab a stool and perch on it, putting almost a metre and a half of distance between her perch and the biobed where Ikaia rested. Alieth: :with a small motion of her right hand:: Which treatment have they given you so far? Has your vision been checked? Wong: They still haven’t got to my eye yet. I mean the Infirmary is pretty busy today. So I think it’d be a while yet before it gets treated. It's kind of nasty. Vanik hit me pretty hard. Ikaia pulled the cooling pack from his face. His arm flopped back into his lap. Sure enough, that nasty shiner was still there. It looked even worse in person. The Vulcan's lips pursed together briefly. Alieth: Yes, it is indeed worse in the flesh than in a video call. I would do something about it but, I will not risk doing it until we are sure that ... the other thing... has not affected you. She shifted uncomfortably on the stool as she said those words and, once again, she seemed to listen to something that only she could hear for a split second. Wong: I know. This looks bad. Still nothing yet on the other thing. I… I dunno what is supposed to happen with…. da kine. I don’t even know how it actually works or what it’s going to do to me…. Er… other than what’s been mentioned. They are monitoring my brain chemistry, though. I just… wish I knew more. Elements of Ikaia's fears came from both the feeling of the loss of control and from the unknown. He could easily run away from a rogue cadet. But he couldn't outrun his own body. That reality was what made being the patient in this case so chilling. Alieth: Well, the first symptoms are quite obvious :: She raised a hand and started extending fingers in front of her as she enumerated them:: poor concentration, trouble suppressing emotions, restlessness, irritability, impaired ability to meditate or rest... do you suffer from any of them at the moment?. Ikaia raised an eyebrow at that. He was trying to think of what Alieth was saying to him. Wong: You mean nervousness? Yeah. I’m feeling nervous. That’s a symptom?! The Vulcan's eyebrows furrowed a bit more. Alieth: It is, if you are a vulcan. Well, then you have to watch out for the following symptoms: lack of appetite, increased irritability, perspiration and insomnia. Obsessive and possessive musings about the bondmate or potential mate... I guess in your case with your friend Vanik Wong: ::Slightly Deadpan:: He’s not my friend. You are. But I’m not… I’m not feeling all that hungry either. Alieth: This could mean that it is advancing... Alieth looked away, and looked at the hands in her lap. Her face had paled marginally and, at the same time, the tips of her ears had turned slightly greenish. When she spoke, her eyes averted from Ikaia's and her voice grew quieter, almost turning into a whisper. Alieth: If it is not resolved then you can fall into the next stage and.... you do not want that Wong: What’s the next stage? Is that where I…. uh…. He really didn’t want to say the next words. It was already bad enough. Alieth: The next stage are “The Fires” and… It means you either resolve it or you die, Wong. Wong: I resolve it? How? Alieth, I don’t want to die! Only then did Alieth look at the patient on the bed and her face remained devoid of any emotion. Alieth: One way is to kill someone, usually if they pose an obstacle between you and your desired mate. Wong: I think Starfleet would frown on that. The other way? A greenish blush crept across Alieth's hieratic face. Alieth: The other option is to join your mate. In body and mind. Ikaia flopped back into the biobed with a groan. He did NOT want to do that either. There had to be a THIRD option. Something he was overlooking. Right now, he was just too scared to even think. He needed a distraction. Wong: ::Muttering:: I need a distraction… What's a good distraction…? ::He finally looks up with an idea:: Alieth… there’s something in my book bag. My half of the project we have together for the bedside manners class. Do you want to grab it? In Ikaia’s book bag, other than homework, were two small bags containing lollipops and gummies. Another thing was a half devoured jar of chocolate hazelnut spread he had been snacking on in one of his classes while he was taking notes. He didn’t want to hand these to her directly as he didn’t want to risk passing along his condition. Alieth: In addition to your homework, you have a stack of sugary treats here... a humongous amount of them... As she said this, the Vulcan pulled out one of the bags and fished out a soft figure in the shape of a Terran predator. She squeezed it with two fingers as she struggled to find the logic in using a vicious beast for something so soft, squishy, and... blood-coloured. More confused than she wanted to confess she began to pull gummie bears from the bag and began to form a small battalion on a nearby tray to study them more closely. The first row consisted entirely of green bears, like the first one I had taken out, followed by red, yellow, etc. When she had a real army in formation and ready for her research, she reached for one of the PADD's in the backpack and tossed it to Ikaia. Alieth: Do you want something else? Maybe you would like to test the insulin production of one of your livers with some of this? Can I? Anything I should avoid? Ikaia caught the PADD and held on to it. Wong: Er… yeah. That uh jar… you don’t want that. It has Klingon slobber in it. Uh.. specifically, MY Klingon slobber. A subtle but noticeable expression of discontent flashed across the Vulcan's face. Alieth: Wong, did you really need to chew the WHOLE jar? How... and why?. Wong: I didn't chew the jar! It was an early class and I got super hungry when I ate that! I kinda sorta didn’t exactly get a great breakfast this morning and well…. The chocolate hazelnut spread was the quickest thing I could grab in order to avoid being late for class. ::a beat. Clears his throat:: Anyways! I was working away over a replicator this morning before class trying to come up with a good candy to give to patients. I was trying to come up with something on the vegan side of things so we don’t encounter any patient allergies. I think they taste good. They taste sweet to me. But I have a problem - as a Klingon, I can’t tell how well that’s going to taste for another humanoid. My enhanced sense of taste is both a blessing and a curse when it comes to anything culinary. I was wondering if you wanted to give it a try? Alieth: Absolutely not, I have no incentive to ingest a perhaps highly sugary substance with body fluid supplements. She made a small gesture towards the army she had assembled next to her. Alieth: But what is this? And why Ursus Arctos and not... reptiles or vegetables?:: The slanted eyebrows of the Vulcan furrowed over her eyes in another micro expression:: are they bear-flavoured? Wong: The gummy bears don't have the slobber! Just the contents of the jar--- ::And he catches himself. A touch of fear takes hold of him again. Muttering:: Oh stars…. Is that the irritability kicking in? Please let it NOT be worse. Uhhh…. Ikaia takes a deep breath to calm himself down. He was allowing his fears to take over again and the last thing he needed was more fear or worry about a new symptom. He just needed to let go of those feelings just for a moment and try to keep a cooler head. When he glanced back at the Vulcan he glimpsed a tiny frown of concern creasing her brow, one that disappeared as soon as the Klingon's brown eyes settled on her, replaced by a carefully studied neutral expression. Wong: Sorry about that. I just needed to refocus…. So okay. So I picked bears because most humanoids find them cute. They taste like fruit! Most humanoids do like fruit! Or at least that’s the logic I had behind them. The statement was greeted with a very Vulcan slanted eyebrow [...]ed up in a gesture of disbelief. Alieth: A predator weighing several hundred kilos is certainly worthy of respect, but I do not know if I would describe it as "cute". :: The tiny Vulcan opened one of the drawers of the cabinet next to the bed and began to rummage through it while she kept talking.::Besides, it still makes no sense that they taste like fruit... though at least that explains the unrealistic colours. She kept rummaging through the drawer for a while, until she pulled out four tongue depressors and lined them up perfectly on the sides of her little bear army. Wong: But anyways, I was thinking that patients would enjoy them. Or at least the good patients, at least anyways. I was thinking we may also be able to hand them out for classmates to try. For the first time since she began military manoeuvres with the gummy bears, the Vulcan raised her gaze to her classmate, her countenance revealing a genuine curiosity. Alieth: So you suggest a classical conditioning of patients to achieve an appropriate behaviour during a medical procedure... interesting, Pavlovian, but highly applicable... The Vulcan rubbed her chin gently, as she gazed with renewed interest at the illogical sugar-coated creatures. Wong: I know there’s still a few glitches to work out. But what do you think of the idea? Do you think it could work? Alieth: It may work, but it would need to be tested, of course. And now Ikaia couldn’t help himself. He looked at Alieth’s gummy bear army with a raised eyebrow. Wong: Okay I have to ask - what are you doing? The Vulcan blinked and made a gesture towards the gummy bears that in another person might have been perceived as mild exasperation, but in Alieth it was deeply lecturing. Alieth: Sort them by flavour and condition to start the test, you do not expect us to test them on patients without sampling them ourselves, do you? We have to know what the best flavour is in case we are asked for a recommendation, for example, I can not simply say "the blood coloured one" without even having a clue what it tastes like. Wong: Well, I can promise you none of them taste like blood. The red ones should taste like raspberries and the green ones like strawberries. Immediately afterwards she took two of the tongue depressors and laid them on the bed next to Ikaia (taking good care of not touching him), and then she took the other two and manoeuvred them into a sort of chopsticks. Touching the food one was about to consume was highly undesirable and gross for a Vulcan if one had the option of avoiding it, and she was a properly raised Vulcan woman. Alieth: Well, try one. The first row are pure flavours, without cracks or damage that may have altered their taste. The fourth line has suffered damage that could have mixed the flavours, and the sixth are chimeras with parts of various flavours. I think it is appropriate to find out whether it is necessary to select these predators by flavours and keep them isolated, or whether they can be stored together. Ikaia picked up the tongue depressors. He had no problems with picking these up with his fingers. But things were different. He was contagious. Also, when dining with Vulcans, one did good to mimic their habits. Good thing he knew his way around chopsticks! Wong: Huh. Yeah. Okay. I can see why you’d do that. Getting the purest flavour possible! I guess if you want to do a taste test, you need to eliminate the extra variables. Alieth: It certainly makes sense Wong, it is a scientific approach to "candy" if this is going to be part of a medical procedure you have to recognise that it must be done properly. Wong: So the question is…. Who goes first? Alieth: Ok ok, I will go first. With unearthly finesse and dexterity given the improvised tools, Alieth fished one of the green bears from the front row, lifted it to her eyes and squeezed it lightly, as she studied its consistency and deformability. Once she was satisfied with her analysis, she brought it very slowly to her mouth. For a minute she chewed it thoroughly, occasionally pausing to roll it around in her mouth. Alieth: Extremely gummy, high ability to adhere to teeth, which is not highly desirable. Extremely high sugar content, which can lead to dental damage if not used sparingly, as well as other unpleasant side effects. Flavour.... I think it is the fruit of plants of the genus fragaria, but with a chemical touch that I will describe as emetic. The Vulcan's face twisted slightly into a gesture of displeasure, mainly a subtle wrinkling of her nose and a narrowing of her eyes. Alieth: I am not convinced that I would recommend this Wong: ::Curious head tilt:: You don’t like the strawberry ones? The petite Vulcan shook her head. Alieth: A three out of ten. The Vulcan's lips pursed in a minute pout, before she gestured towards the tray. Alieth: Come on your turn, the blood-coloured ones are out. Alright. It was Ikaia’s turn. With his tongue depressor chopsticks, he picked up one of the gummy bears and stuffed it inside of his mouth. He gave it a chew. Wong: They’re really sweet. I mean they all taste sweet to me. Klingons kind of have some extra taste buds for that. But I do taste the strawberries. Alieth, do you find these overly sweet? Alieth:Too sweet, too intense flavour, too chemical and too little resemblance to the original fruit. It is revolting Despite the negative review, one thing could be said: Wong was still interested in food and able to focus on things. Something that was a good sign to discard the... The Thing. Alieth felt a knot she didn't even know had knotted in her stomach loosen slightly. Wong: Huh. ::Takes another gummy bear to chew on it:: Okay…. Maybe I can see why you may not like them. It’s just sweet enough for me. But you might find them over powering. Alieth looked at the dwindling green line, raised her makeshift chopsticks over the last surviving green soldier and ultimately refrained from sampling it again. Alieth: Yes, I think we should probably avoid them, I do not think they are beneficial to health. She was about to push all the green bears away when the Klingon resting on the biobed raised a hand to stop her. Wong: We have humans in that class too. We may have to enlist a few as test subjects here for our gummies. Alieth: Maybe some other time, to broaden the subjects, but let us keep a preliminary testing between us for the time being, shall we? After all, you volunteered to help me with bedsides manners class and my grades, at the moment, are sub-par at best. Which was a very fancy way of describing the fact that she had steadily and firmly failed each and every assignment she had been given with the lowest mark in the class. Which didn't make her prospects of successfully completing the course any better. Wong: I know. And we’ll get there. I promised you that I’d help you pass the class and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. ::A small smile:: The tiny smile was answered with a deadpan and earnest vulcan façade. One that, however, did not hide a small spark in the gaze of the petite Vulcan. Meanwhile, he takes his makeshift chopsticks to pick up another gummy bear. Wong: Pink. My blood colour! Heh! I think these ones were my attempt at watermelon. Alieth: ::waving to the tiny bears:: Go on, try them out. Wong: ::He popped this inside his mouth:: Not nearly as sweet as the strawberry. This one is much more toned down. ::Swallows it:: Want to give them a try? The tiny smile was answered with a deadpan and earnest vulcan façade. One that, however, did not hide a small spark in the gaze of the petite Vulcan. Alieth: ::with a frown:: hum Wong: Honest opinion - what do you think of these ones? Alieth: They are fine. We will put them at the top of the list for the time being. Raising a very slanted eyebrow:: Just do not infer anything weird from it, okay Wong? Wong: I’m not! I promise! But I think our project is going to work…. There was a continued back and forth over their bedside manners project until the morning sun let its first rays into the infirmary when, at last, Alieth saw that Ikaia had fallen asleep. Most of the bears had been consumed or dissected (as well as much of the contents of his bag) but after much discussion, chatter and perhaps some witty Vulcan, fatigue had overcome the Klingon. He was softly snoring while curled up in a blanket. He was entirely out like a light. Only then, Alieth got up from the stool she had been perched on all night and walked the short distance to the biobed. There, she tapped on the side panel and checked his biosignals. Ikaia's body chemistry seemed stable, or as stable as it could be for a Klingon. There were no traces of alien hormones in him, and he presented only signs of fatigue and stress. The petite Vulcan allowed herself to exhale a tiny sigh and her posture, which had remained stiff and composed in appearance all night, relaxed significantly. Careful not to make any noise, she opened one of the drawers of the nearby trolley, extracted a dermal regenerator and, careful not to wake him, began to work on his wounded eye, until the traces of the punch he had received disappeared, leaving no mark. Alieth rubbed her eyes gently, more tired than she wanted to confess. But her friend was fine, and that was what mattered. Finally, she pulled a padd from his backpack, wrote a note on it and left it next to his bed, before she scurried away without making a sound. ((Labs - Sickbay - Deck 6 - USS Veritas - Present Day)) Ikaia had been running through simulations of the healthcare systems on Antor II. He could only handle so many troubling simulations before he needed a break. He took a moment to rest his eyes as he flopped back in his seat. He only nodded off briefly when an old Academy memory came back to him. He didn’t know why THIS particular memory came back. But he recalled a time when Alieth cared for him when he was in the middle of a crisis surrounding an incident with another Vulcan going through an issue. This was the first time he had a brush with death even if nothing came of it. Well… maybe something came with it and fortunately, it wasn’t his demise. Alieth was the only person who had chosen to stay the night with him and watch over him while he slept. He could remember the contents of the letter she left him. Of course, she seemed upset with how much he worried her. But he didn’t mind her scolding. It showed that she cared about what happened to him. Ikaia opened his eyes again. He wasn’t sure why that memory of his friend came back to him. But he was glad to have thought of it again. [[Room 03-0602, Alieth’s New Quarters,Deck 3, USS Gorkon, on orbit of Deluvia IV, Present day]] In the quiet of her new quarters, Alieth opened her eyes. The meditation candle had long since been extinguished, but the scent of the oil it had burned still hung in the room. Through the window, Deluvia IV drifted through the blackness of space, casting her room in a warm blue-green glow. She blinked briefly, casting the remnants of meditation away from her mind and she refocused on the present before she silently wondered why the paths of her meditation had led her to recall exactly that incident from her past, right at that very moment. [[END]] As simmed by ================================= Lt. Alieth Chief Science Officer randgri...@gmail.com USS Gorkon NCC-82293 E239702A10 Image Collective Facilitator /Art Director ================================= & Lieutenant JG Ikaia Wong Physician Assistant USS Veritas V239711IW0
  8. I LOVE the fine level of emotion plus excelent worldbuilding in this sim. Awesome one from Jo! ---- ((Museum, Iyiria, Deluvia IV)) Set beneath the undulating waves of a Deluvia up above, the entire city was born from pursuing science and art. Mosaic lined the city streets, a holdover of the Selkie homeworld of Pacifica and the capital city of hi'Leyi'a, twirling in time with the delights only Deluvia offered, displaying the battle between the elements of the climates warring on both sides of the tropical and the arctic. Rarely was Vorin awestruck by the sheer magnificence of a place, however, the capital city of Iyiria enraptured his Vulcan heart. The ShiKahrian philosopher Salln once noted it was inevitable a culture would transform when the arts and science became secondary to the needs of the military, shifting the focus of the creative to the narrow. Despite their enslavement by the Orions, the Selkie had no military to speak of, therefore developed their own unique style, able to indulge in their passions of horticulture, marine aquaculture, science, engineering, and the health of their people and the Federation. Vorin clasped his hands in the small of his back as he walked through the grand gallery, in as much of a funk as he could be. Leaving behind the revelry of the night before, having assimilated significantly less alcohol than his fellow revellers, a walk amongst the museum seemed the perfect escape for the man with much weighed down on his mind. Applying logic to a situation born from a love of his t'hy'la seemed to leave him cold and empty, with much meditation required to return to the fundamental principles of cthia. Fortunately, he had not yet resorted to Shal'tiar, though the notion seemed quite amusing. The halo of holographic sound surrounded his head, emitting the spoken word to his ears. A voice fluently Selkie yet universally translated in the Vulcan dialects. Descriptions and explanations of the exhibit he stood in front of, statues nearby when he turned toward them, and the magnificence of the vaulted ceiling made from a type of limestone, carved out to create a cathedral of light and shimmering colour, carpeted by the sand from the seabed. The speaker had introduced themself as Aoides, master of the legends, and curator of the museum. They explained, in serene and soothing tones, how the religions of the Selkie had long since fallen into mythology, with few if any practising sects remaining throughout the disconnected worlds once the species had left Pacifica. This had the effect of distancing the state from religion, of erecting a soft barrier where the governments decided with logic rather than a belief in the writing of one deity or another. Vorin appreciated this immensely, showing his approval with a mild raise of an eyebrow as he continued his walk. He paused beside a statue of a shockingly beautiful Selkie male, pellucid skin as though they carved the effigy from ice, rippling dark golden hair shimmering from the crown of his head down his spine, embedded eyes the colour of glistening amber. Aoides: =/\= Here we find Scotu, the God of Crossroads. However, as with all things, he is also our patron of chaos, politics, and feasts, traditionally worshipped by warriors and those about to embark on long journeys. Ancient oral lore speaks of a ritual greeting his followers would use to distinguish themselves when travelling, hoping to receive generous hospitality in return. =/\= The statue was shorter than Vorin expected, the carve of muscles visible along bared arms, a light armour of pearl and green adorning his upper body, and the tunics of traditional Selkie dress worn beneath. As Vorin gazed up at the statue, he could almost feel as though it smiled back at him, with the guise of a smirk lifting one corner of translucent marbleised lips. Aoides: =/\= You can find shrines and altars dedicated to him beside bridges, with offerings one might associate with the trappings of travel, such as a silver cethipa coin to ensure safe passage. Many myths involve his friendship with Araera, the Goddess of Tricksters, and the two creating havoc for the traveller who does not respect the passage. =/\= At the foot of the statue, examples of the cethipa lay scattered over Scotu’s translucent shimmering webbed feet, as though an elderly Selkie had kept the coins for such a time and dispersed them to ensure their safe passage on an enduring voyage across the stars. It was more likely, however, that they were not real currency from the ages and times long gone. Vorin, not one to believe in superstitions, as logic prevailed, still bowed his head a little, almost imperceptibly, to ensure the Gorkon continued finding a good fortune among the stars. Leaving Scotu and his charming amber eyes behind, Vorin and his halo of sound turned toward the centre of the limestone cathedral to see the fierce and brave Trill security officer he had descended beneath the waves with. Her dark curled hair brought to mind one of the many statues surrounding them inside the gallery. Undoubtedly as fearless as any of them, with boundless courage he had seen on the SS Vikartindur. For once, the Vulcan was glad of the company, and although they had parted ways upon entering — to listen to the stories recited by the Aoides, and seek what interested them — he was interested in her impressions. Vorin: How are you enjoying the explorations of the mythical and cultured, Ensign? Eden: Response Vorin: There is much here I would expect of a culture derived from the sea and associated with extensive voyages. ::His dark eyes flit around for a moment, the various other statues all symbolic of another elemental wonder.:: More so when you discover their oral histories extend further back than their written records. Relying on generations to continue the retelling seems… illogical. Eden: Response As Aoides spoke once again into his pointed ear, Vorin paused the hologram and the projected halo of light swimming around his head vanished back into the breastpin attached to the navy Pel-el styled sleeveless shirt. Once again, his hands clasped in the small of his back as he turned to the side, inviting Maia to walk with him at a slower pace through the museum as they conversed. Vorin: A previous host of the Eden symbiont was a historian, was he not? I enquired, following our venture onto the Vikartindur. I expected to find a battle-worn warrior of the Trill hiding among your incarnations. Eden: Response -- Lieutenant JG Vorin Biologist USS Gorkon G239304JM0
  9. I believe that setting a scene is one of the critical parts of our media, and that making it appealing, engaging and yet with a delightful ability to open a door to another world and let us be enchanted by it is a true artistry. @Jo Marshall does a wonderful example of creative writing here, perfectly setting the scene, the mood and the tone it will have, while giving us a window into the wonders of Deluvia. I can almost feel the sea breeze. _______________________________ ((The Golden Tree, Promenade, Cochtois Lagoon, Deluvia IV)) A little further toward the centre of the promenade stood a huge golden tree. It was quite likely the tree had been there when the Selkie had settled on the planet in recent memory, as the gnarled branches and thick roots growing out of the loamy soil whispered of centuries rather than decades. Boughs and limbs stretched overhead in a canopy of gorgeous crisp leaves, fluttering beneath the radiant sun, and soaking up the salty sea breeze wafting in from the lagoon. Set up around it, several tables for standing and leaning on, and more importantly, resting a glass on, were arranged in a circle. Instead of sitting and marvelling at the view, or taking in the thriving tree, or listening to the rustle the leaves made on the quiet hum of the zephyr, guests could stand and take their requested beverage in the full knowledge when they were finished, it was time to move on. Only a few had made their escape in the brief space of time Jo had stood there. Leaning her elbows on the wooden tabletop, she looked out to the sea rolling just off the promenade, listened to the leaves and the chatter of nearby patrons, and the sounds of clinking glasses over the swell of the ocean breaking against the shore. Pensive was in her mood, while her expression bore someone trying not to be so lost in her own thoughts. Ordering another round of drinks, she looked up when someone familiar stepped into view not so far away and waved him over. Marshall: Cory, over here! Stoyer: Response A selkie server with eyes like pools of mystical shimmering water set down another two glasses of their token golden tree ale — made from the sap of the tree they stood under. Light orange and smooth in texture, they served it in a plain but tall glass. It smelled of fruit and a little like sugared cinnamon, though it was hard to describe without tasting it, and it lingered on the breath for hours afterwards. As her friend approached, Jo pushed the accompanying glass over the wooden table toward him. Marshall: It tastes nicer than it looks, trust me. Though try to take it slow. It packs a punch to the olfactory senses like no other. Stoyer: Response Marshall: With great power comes the great need to take a nap. I’ve been eying up your hammock spot for most of the morning. ::Said with steely determination in blue it would one day be hers.:: How are you doing? Skarbek hit you like a freight starship as well? ::Then paused for a second as she looked at him with a wisp of a smile on her features.:: Have you got taller or am I imagining it? Stoyer: Response -- Lt. Commander Jo Marshall First Officer USS Gorkon, NCC-82293 G239304JM0
  10. Another good one from Reynolds. Short, but pointent, full of emotion that you just can't help but feel. ----- ((Lobby, Emerald Reef Hotel, Deluvia IV)) Caedan was sharing a drink with Genkos in the bar of the Emerald Reef, enjoying the underwater landscape the hotel offered while they reconciled past hurts. Their talk had begun with the incident at the Admiral's wedding reception, and while the Rodulan still felt some culpability for his part in the messy affair, it had relieved him to hear that Genkos didn't share that opinion. Perhaps inevitably, their conversation had turned to more recent events and the Betazoid's guilt over his part in them. It had felt a bit like looking in a mirror; one man berating himself for his part in a situation when there really was no blame to place. Caedan had said so, and they'd looked at their reflections again, with him offering Genkos a piece of relief without wiping away all of his guilt. But a casual slip of the tongue had caused Genkos to put Caedan under the microscope in a way the Rodulan wasn't familiar or comfortable with. He rarely talked about himself, especially with difficult subjects, preferring to let the spotlight linger on other people. Most people were all too happy with that arrangement, but evidently the doctor wanted to listen as much as he did talk. Nkai: In some ways it feels a bit like Skarbek. So... ::He lifted a hand, open-palmed, searching for the words to describe the experience of being Over There.:: So divorced from normal reality, it seems like a bad dream. Adea: I’m no therapist, but that’s probably a good thing. Caedan nodded. He'd thought the same thing himself; it allowed for some emotional distance, offered the ability to look back without being hit by the full force of the emotions that he'd lived through. There were still memories which brought a lump to his throat and tears to his eyes, moments of particular hardship or sorrow, but he could talk about most of it without breaking down—and that was a victory. Nkai: I like to think so. Adea: It just feels like each successive trip there makes it far worse; makes me far worse, and I’m starting to feel hugely phobic of the ship. Of my first adult home. No response came easily to Caedan's mind. It was a feeling he knew too well, the reason he hadn't gone home to Rodul in decades. A place filled with happy childhood memories that he cherished and held close... but also a place filled with some of his darkest moments and memories he tried to lock away. That was hard enough to do at the best of times, and he could only imagine what it would be like if he retrod those old stomping grounds. Adea: Rationally, I know I’ll get over it, but emotionally, you know, the brain never wins. How do you manage it? You always seem so… well put together. Nkai: Yeah? ::He scratched the back of his head and chuckled.:: Maybe that's just my advanced age working for me. Mellowed out through the sheer passage of time. He paused there, feeling as though he owed a better response than a joke and a slide away from the question. Maybe because Genkos needed one, maybe because Caedan had played a part in hurting him in the past. His smile slid away as he shook his head, his instinct to keep his past private warring with the desire to help someone in pain. Nkai: I think... ::A sigh blew past his lips.:: I think we have to make peace with the idea that there's darkness in all of us. That knowing that and accepting that is the best way to make sure it isn't the part of us in control when the situation's that bad. Adea: Response Caedan grimaced, trying to corral spiralling thoughts and the expanding crackle of thunder in his chest into something that would make sense. It was hard to keep it from carving deeper lines on his face, to prevent his muscles from bunching into a defensive hunch, and he leaned more of his weight on the bar counter as if it could offer moral as well as physical support. Nkai: You know, I think the Q put me on the Fourcade and away from the worst of it because that wasn't the way to get under my skin. I've already lived it. The Cardassians started their occupation of my homeworld when I was fifteen, and the history books say it wasn't as brutal as their conquest of Bajor, but... But brutality wasn't essential to cause suffering. Callousness and indifference could be a blade just as sharp, incising just as deep, leaving scars just the same. As he thought about it, digging up the memories he tried so hard to bury, raw emotion erupting like crude oil spilling across virgin soil, there was a slight comfort that his thoughts weren't readable. His soft underbelly wasn't completely exposed to the Betazoid. Nkai: I remember people freezing to death in the winter because the Cardassians rationed our energy supplies. People begging for scraps for their children because they rationed our food, even though we produced more than enough for everyone. I remember the—::he swallowed, a lump biting at his throat, Syana's lost smile drifting through his memories::—the protests that turned into massacres they blamed on the victims, and the people who just vanished. All this time later, it had become hard to picture Syana and Vawne's faces. His first love was nothing but wisps of memory; the scent of her hair when she was curled up in his arms, the bell-like sound of her laugh when he amused her, the feel of her breath against his cheek when she whispered something cheeky into his ear. Vawne's big brother scowl when his younger siblings interrupted whatever terribly grown-up thing he was doing, his hearty cackle when he let them win tickle wars against him, the tight grasp of a hug when he was trying to make them feel better. Gone. Centuries before their time, barely a brushstroke on the Artist's canvas. He frowned, blinking himself out of the reverie, and continued. Nkai: One of them was my big brother. They barged into our house one day and dragged him away for "questioning" and we never saw him again. It broke my parents. And to this day we don't know what happened to him, because they destroyed their records at the end of the occupation. There's now a branch of archeology that specialises in finding mass graves and identifying who's in them, and him being found in one is the only closure we can hope for. Imagine that; your one hope for closure is someone's going to call you up one day and tell you they've found your brother's body. Adea: Response Caedan nodded slowly; in response to Genkos or his own inner monologue, he wasn't sure. These were things he hadn't even told Jo or Valesha, perhaps more than a little afraid that his dearest friends would look at him differently afterwards. Nkai: What I'm trying to say in a really roundabout way is... I was young, and I was hurt, and I was angry. When my brother's friends asked me to help them fight back, I said yes. And in the next few years I did things I'm not proud of. He paused for a deep inhale, breathing it out through his nose. Those details he would not dispense. It wouldn't make him or Genkos feel any better to share the gruesome details of Caedan Nkai, bomb-making resistance fighter. The Betazoid had been in Skarbek, and he knew what lengths people could go to in the fight for freedom, especially in the face of cruelty. Nkai: So I know it doesn't feel like it, but it's a gift. To get to face up to that part of yourself without having to do things you can never take back. Adea: Response -- Lt. Commander Caedan Nkai Mission Specialist USS Gorkon simmed by Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  11. A really interesting and well written introspective after the horror of our last Skarbek mission, and an ominous way to conclude at the end. Well done, skipper! ----- ((Resort Villa, Cochtois Lagoon, Deluvia IV)) Music drifted through the open windows of the beachside villa, a distant bass line thumping. A party in its twilight hours, while the moon crept toward its peak in a twinkling sky. The occupants of the villa didn't hear it, curled up in their beds between fresh, soft sheets. Exhausted after a long day spent running around after an ebullient six-year-old intent on enjoying every activity on offer. Quinn rolled over in her sleep, throwing her arm across the broad chest of the German slumbering next to her. Perhaps it was the lingering effects of the psychic parasite, some remnants of its energy still crackling in the gyri and sulci of her brain. Perhaps it was her own subconscious trying to process exactly what she'd experienced. Whatever the reason, her sleeping mind brushed against her partner's, tangling and intertwining, until two dreams merged into one. ((Once Upon a Dream: Peshkova Colony, Demilitarised Zone)) Wind whispered through the long grasses and wildflowers on the outskirts of the colony, flames crackling and snapping around the charred logs of the bonfire. The Skarbek was a black shadow against the stars, the aging raider landed in green fields, clicking and creaking as the thick metal of the patchwork hull cooled in the evening breeze. The last of the crew stumbled away toward a bed for the evening—some collapsing into their own, some visiting another's—leaving two people still staring into the dying flames. Quinn sat on the ground, leaning back against a log, sipping from a bottle of beer. Walter next to her, perched on the same log, sipping from his hip flask. They sat in silence, minutes compounding upon minutes, until he voiced the question on both of their minds. Brunsig: Do you know why he did it? Quinn drew in a deep breath and exhaled it slowly. The question had been on her mind for days, and she liked each answer she came up with less than the last. She'd played and replayed their time in the prison, reliving that hell over and over in search of some sign he'd been close to the edge. Instead of trying to move on from the experience, she'd pulled it closer, and pushed it under the microscope; paying the toll in sleepless nights and horrors seared on the insides of her eyelids. Reynolds: If you'd made me put money on someone doing something like that, it would have been Kos. We worried about him for a while there. Brunsig: That's not what I asked. Not it was not. Another long breath, lungs filled with nature and smoke, and she took a draught from her beer. She could feel the fading warmth of the fire on her face, but it was nothing like the oppressive heat of the prison barge. A soft caress, rather than a closed fist. Shame that the memories themselves were nowhere near so gentle, and she took another slug of beer to wash away the lump in her throat and cool the ache in her chest. Reynolds: After Kos shot the—::she corrected herself, knowing the man's name now::—shot Tirok, Serren admitted he'd killed someone in the past. Mikali sh'Shar? Brunsig: Banshee? We wondered why she dropped off sensors. Was a pain in the [...] until the Klingons picked up the slack. Reynolds: Well, she worked with her wife, who vanished around the same time. I didn't put two and two together before now, but she was a Trill, too. Safine Tan. One reason they got on so well was their ability to follow each other's train of thoughts, even when left unspoken. Quinn didn't need to finish the explanation; she'd marked out the dots, and he drew the lines between them. A picture drawn with mutual understanding. Embers snapped and popped in the fire, flames reflected in hazel and blue, until the words emerged with quiet, German precision. Brunsig: You think he killed her and took the symbiont? Reynolds: I'm just saying it would explain a lot. He would have been fighting his own mind the whole time, which accounts for all the... quirks. ::She paused.:: It could explain why he seemed to think we're like that, too. Easier to live with yourself when you believe everyone's as willing to pull the trigger as you are. Maybe it was too difficult to live with himself when he finally realised we're not. He shook his head and lifted the flask to his lips, letting her words percolate through. It was tough to believe, but it was the only clean line she could draw through the data she had. It was a shame it did nothing to scrub away the guilt; she'd been too quick to tend to her own needs, falling into a shower and a bed with nary a thought for checking on anyone else. Brunsig: Scheiße. Reynolds: It's just... We fought so hard to get everyone out of the prison, there were so many times it would have been easier to leave him behind. Even he said as much, and then... ::She ran her fingers through loose waves of her hair, and exhaled the ache blooming behind her ribs as a brief, humourless laugh.:: What was the point? Brunsig: We can't save everyone. Especially the ones who don't want to be saved. After a moment's thought, he stuffed the hip flask into his pocket and pushed himself off the log. Taking a seat on the ground next to her, he lifted his arm and wrapped it around her shoulders. Just as she'd sat and offered comfort after they'd rescued him, Soup and Valesha from the Cardassians, so he returned the favour. An expression of solidarity and support. Yet Quinn swallowed, feeling heat on her face which had nothing to do with the bonfire ahead. Brunsig: It is what it is. ::He paused, frowning into the middle distance.:: Hell, maybe we lucked out. If you're right, it means he didn't have a problem murdering the people he associated with. A grimace wrinkled her freckles at the indelicate observation, but she'd be lying if she said the same thought hadn't occurred to her. Quinn didn't know why Tan had killed the smuggler or exactly how he'd become a host, but there were few explanations that offered comfort or reassurance. Something had made him pull the (proverbial?) trigger, and they had no idea if that same thing could have repeated among their company. A sigh flowed out of her lungs, and she pinched the bridge of her nose, massaging the frown away. So many questions, the answers vaporised in the flash of a disruptor rifle, leaving nothing behind but guilt, doubt and frustration. Reynolds: It's Tan I feel sorry for. The symbiont, I mean. However Serren became its host, chances are it was traumatic. It's not like it had much of a choice in any of this, and then to die because... She trailed off and shrugged helplessly. The complexities of Joining and the responsibilities of host to symbiont and symbiont to host were not something she knew much about. Suicide was was always a tragedy, and with a Joined Trill it claimed two lives. But what happened if one was committed to that path and the other was not? Where did the host begin and symbiont end? Brunsig: We'll hike up to Memorial Rock tomorrow. Put something down, say a few words for him. Them. ::He paused and then a grumble rumbled out of his chest.:: And then we're performing an exorcism on the helm controls, because I'll be damned if our pilots aren't cursed. Quinn breathed out a wisp of a laugh, a fragile and gossamer thing that choked out in the back of her throat and made her eyes burn. Shaking her head, she drained the last of her beer and the bottle landed with a clatter of clinks in the enormous pile of empties. The communal fire of despair had seen many a drunk these past few days. Brunsig: Life's hard enough as it is, Quinn. Don't drag his carcass around with you. Do you regret getting him out of there? Reynolds: No. Brunsig: Remember that. You did right by your own conscience, whatever he did in the end. You've got control of no one's choices but your own. If there were words to answer him, she didn't know them. He drew in a deep breath, and to her surprise, he hooked an arm under her knees, pulling her against his chest. Quinn buried her face in his shoulder, the breeze chill against the damp on her cheeks, and held on. Close enough to smell the woody spice of his skin, and the late night stubble on his jaw scratched against her temple. But what started as an offer of comfort flowed into something else, as if the tide receded to reveal the secrets of the seabed beneath. Time elongated like pulled glass, each second a glittering, fragile moment, each waiting for the other to break it. Her hand on his chest, the drumroll of his pulse raced underneath her palm, and her own beat a similar tattoo. After a moment's hesitation, he wrapped his fingers around hers. A tender gesture, far more intimate than appearances might imply. Skin brushed against skin, thoughts brushed against thoughts, and Quinn sucked in a sharp breath as her mind touched his. An invitation into the guarded core of who he was, where he laid bare a depth of feeling she hadn't realised existed. Her world became silk and cinnamon and the low notes of a viola, and she had the measure of his heart, just as he now had hers. Reynolds: You're a dark horse, Walter Brunsig. Brunsig: I have my moments. Binary stars, locked into their interstellar dance, falling toward one another. She squeezed his fingers, her touch creating spirals of electric sensation that crackled through them both, and smiled at the way his thoughts shifted like a kaleidoscope. Her Deltan heritage was something she often struggled with, but there were times... She lifted her gaze to meet his. Hazel locked with blue, and heat blossomed out from the centre of her chest, rushing over her shoulders to pool at the base of her spine. She knew exactly how the rest of their night would play out. Perhaps he did, too, a small smile curling at the corners of his mouth as he dipped his head, his lips meeting hers in a first kiss. Ending the first movement in their symphony, beginning another, scored that night in soft sighs, low moans, and murmured affections. ...And in the real world, the two lovers slumbered through the deep of night, until the golden light of dawn chased their dreams of a Maquis life back into the darkness. Until the next time. -- Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0 & Captain Walter Brunsig Commanding Officer USS Triumphant
  12. If introspection is the name of the game, then @Samira Neathler is one of the undisputed champions. A brilliant inward reflection after a traumatic experience. ((N’Vea Hospitals’ Grounds - Deluvia IV)) Standing on the broad stairs of one of the many entrances of the N’Vea Hospitals, she looked up at the tall building. Mainly build out of a glasslike material, the windows reflected the peaceful scenery from outside. Palm trees from further down on the beach mirrored on the higher levels of the building. The lower levels revealing the green grass fields that surrounded the base of the building. Paved paths meandered through the pasture. Well-travelled pathways, by the looks of it, as people walked from one point to the other. The complete picture gave the building a serene and inviting look. But deep down, Samira felt anything but serene. She heard children’s laughter and her gaze shifted to the green fields. A child was running towards a couple, one of the women, opening her arms wide as the toddler ran into her open arms. The lady lifting up the child before she cuddled the girl tightly. Was that one of the tricks the therapists used? Do well and you get to see your loved ones during a stroll outside? Samira looked away, she shouldn’t think like that. She’d been at the Hospital before. After the incident with the upside down ship. She knew the medical care in the center was excellent. But this time, it was different; it felt different. It wasn’t a burned limb that needed fixing. It was something in her mind. Something that wouldn’t go away. First there was the name of list that popped up in her mind when she didn’t want it to. A shortlist containing mainly Cardassian names. Every single name evoking a feeling of hate towards a certain person that she didn’t know existed. People who in another lifetime, that wasn’t real, had hurt her. She had looked up the names in Starfleet’s database, yet had recognised none of them. She had never met any of them in her short life. Next was knowing what her counterpart had done. What she was capable of. She looked down, studying her hands. Hands that, when covered with full gloves, hiding the scarred tissue and badly healed bones underneath, were capable of cold blooded murder. No questions asked. Just because someone belonged to a certain species, those hands decided to end those lives. While the hands she stared at now had hardly fired at any living being at all. The two exceptions were on the upside ship when she had to fight off a couple of thieves. And the other occasion was during Academy classes. Even then it was rare, but when it happened, she was fully aware she was shooting at holographic images. While her counterpart, while not knowing she was in holoprogram, killed those beings nonetheless, in the blink of an eye. Samira swallowed and lowered her hands. Even her morning runs no longer helped to clear her mind. There was always something that reminded her of Fingers and what she had done. The first time, she could blame Lladre for every crazy thing that the evil Trill had put in her mind. The second time, Q orchestrated things behind the scene. But this time? Sure, she could blame Genkos for dropping them in the Skarbek world, or more precisely the thing that had possessed his brain. But there was only one person accountable for the heartless killing she had done, and it was herself. She stared at the entrance, the doors opening, a couple broadly smiling leaving, stepping down the stairs to who knew where to. She shook her head, she wasn’t ready to talk. How could someone who hadn’t been there understand? How could she explain to someone she was a ruthless killer without having killed anyone in this life? Imagine the irony, if the therapist appeared to be of Cardassian origin? Slowly she turned around, going down the stairs, taking the road to the beach. A beach where previous time the Gorkon orbited the planet, Bear and Toran had played a game of volleyball. The three of them ended up eating something at one of the local campfires that evening. Toran, who after all those years, hardly could talk about the hardship of what happened Over There. So it shouldn't be a surprise she wasn't ready to talk about something so recently. She continued her walk away from the building. Her mind repeating a list of names. A list that awkwardly enough was one name shorter already, when she had learned the faith of the scientist named Brevek. One name less to take revenge on. She cursed softly. She shouldn’t think that way. If only she could erase the list from her mind and the faces that accompanied the names. Maybe with the help of a few drinks or a bottle of whiskey. Surely one of the beach bars had something that would make her forget. --- Lieutenant Commander Samira Neathler Chief Security/Tactical & Second Officer USS Gorkon G239508SN0
  13. A really emotional and well written ending to our current mission (or is it M'Rishion?). M'Rish must be protected. (( Observation Room - Cardassian “Prison” )) Ayiana lay partially collapsed on the smoking and sparking ruin of the computer console. She had seen several logs by the Chief Researcher that detailed the meticulous and cruel social experiments they had been performing on dozens of prisoner groups over the years. They were just the latest iteration. Drop prisoners in the rear of the ship, see how they act and survive in the prison. If some break out into the middle of the ship, complex and devious scenarios and traps were ready to be played via holoemitters placed throughout; just to see how they’d react. To make matters worse, their unofficial charge, M’Rish, had been an unwilling pawn in the Cardassians’ vile experiments. Every cycle, they’d sedate her, wipe her memories, reprogram her with false ones, then set her loose in the ship again to be found by any prison escapees. Just to see what they’d do to a helpless child in such a setting; not to mention how she survived on her own for weeks on end before someone came to find her. Assuming people actually broke out of the prison, which didn’t happen every iteration. When she first joined the Maquis, Ayiana merely wanted to safeguard her home and fellow colonists in the DMZ against the Cardassian Union’s aggression. Now, she hated them all for what they sanctioned here. It had been going on for years, far earlier than the genesis of the Maquis or even the Federation-Cardassian Treaty. She wanted to find those responsible and explain in exquisite detail, with many sharp objects in sensitive areas, just how she felt about it. Computer: Warning! Baryon sweep approaching. All remaining personnel retreat to designated shelters for evacuation. Apparently, such revenge would have to wait. Sevo: Oh, Gods above! Come on! :: She exclaimed. :: Stoyer: Yeah, time to go. Neathler: Shuttle bay, head for the shuttlebay. ::She paused, taking another breath, explaining herself.:: There was a message before. Sevo: I’ll take your word for it. Stoyer: There should be a release for the door. As Red said, the Cardies never expected any of us to get this far. They would have to evacuate the area also. Strip was still holding the unconscious M’Rish in his arms. The Cardassians had sedated her earlier, but there was no way to know if they had proceeded with the memory wipe yet. Ayiana suspected otherwise, as that generally involved complex equipment not seen in the room they found her in. Returning to the control panel Ayiana tried earlier, Cory tapped away at it and it opened easily, much to her chagrin. The emergency evacuation must have overridden any locks in order to facilitate a faster evacuation. Stoyer: Let’s get out of here. Neathler: Go. :: She said as she picked up her furry friend. :: Sevo: Was there a map? Do you know where to go? Exiting the room, Fingers looked both ways down the corridor, slightly confused. Apparently, she didn’t know where to go. To make matters worse, a green forcefield was slowly inching its way up the corridor - the baryon sweep! Lethal to any form of life; it was vital they stay away from it. She heard it could be quite painful. Neathler: The baryon sweep! Sevo: That means everyone in the prison is dead. Executed. Stoyer: Response Ayiana clenched her fists white. She may not have liked many of the prisoners, but cold-blooded execution by baryon sweep was not a fate she’d wish on anyone. Quickly, they ran down the corridor. Some doors were open but looking inside, they were empty. Anyone still on the ship would have evacuated or moved to safe shelters by now. She thought baryon beams moved meticulously and slowly, that they’d easily be able to run away from it. But this one seemed different; after all, it was an execution tool, not a meticulous maintenance sweep. Neathler: Hurry. Stoyer: Response The straight hallway leading away from the deadly energy suddenly turned left. With no choice, they followed, past a set of double doors. Then, much to Ayiana’s annoyance, the corridor turned left *again*, heading towards the baryon beam. She could see it further down, inching closer. Suddenly, Fingers stopped in her tracks. Neathler: Back, we have to go back, through those double doors. Sevo: What?! Why...nevermind. I trust you! Stoyer: Response They backtracked down the corridor, to the right, and to the set of thick double doors passed earlier. There was a plaque next to it which read “Shuttlebay Two.” Ayiana tapped at the controls and opened the doors. The sight inside caused her heart to drop. It was a large bay, but empty. Not a single escape shuttle remained. They had already been taken by the escaping crew, as denoted by impulse scorch marks on the floor. Sevo: Damn, damn, and damn! Neathler/Stoyer: Response They moved out to the middle of the large bay in order to give them some more time. To do what, she didn’t know. Soon, the green energy wall materialized through the door and wall they passed through, crawling ever closer. Slight shuffling in Cory’s arms caught Ayiana’s attention. M’Rish had woken up. M’Rish: Wh...wha? :: She peered around curiously, rubbing her eyes, looking at everyone. :: Y-you’s came back for me? Sevo: O-of course we did. :: Holding back a tear. :: Oh no, why?! Couldn’t she have stayed asleep just a little longer? M’Rish didn’t need to know what was happening; what was about to happen. She could have stayed asleep through the end, never knowing what transpired. When she had been sedated back in that room, that could have been the simple, quiet, painless end for her; never knowing that she would die a little while later. Now, she’d die along with the rest of them, painfully awake and aware of what was happening. Neathler/Stoyer: Response M’Rish: Wh-what’s that?! :: Still being held in Strip’s arms, she pointed a shaky finger down the shuttlebay to the oncoming sweep. :: Sevo: It...it’s nothing. Don’t look at it. :: Ayiana moved to block M’Rish’s sight of the beam. :: Neathler/Stoyer: Response Ayiana turned to look, feigning curiosity; but in actuality, she was hiding the tears streaming down her face. Not for herself, or for Strip, or Fingers, but for M’Rish. Such an innocent being, not deserving of the life she had been living, and certainly not deserving of the death coming. But there was nothing left to do; the shuttles were gone, and they couldn’t just jump out into space. They had tried their hardest to live, survived impossible odds stacked against them, but it was for nothing in the end. Their escape plan failed, and they’d die on this miserable ship in a few short seconds, painfully. The sweep was less than a meter away. She could hear it’s humming now, like the slow ticking of death announcing itself. Sevo: We did our best, everyone. :: She turned to Strip. :: Cory, I just want to say...I love you. She placed one hand on Cory’s cheek, and the other on M’Rish’s head, who was still being held in Cory’s arms. Neathler/Stoyer: Response Sevo: M’Rish, I’m sorry little one. I’m so sorry… Ayiana closed her eyes as the first tingles of energy touched her. It wasn’t as painful as she thought it’d be. In fact, it felt familiar, almost like a transporter beam… ---------------------------- Ayiana “Red” Sevo Fighter ---------------------------- Simmed by ---------------------------- Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo Mission Specialist U.S.S. Gorkon Image Collective Wiki Ops Investigating Diversity and Inclusion Committee (IDIC) V239109AS0 ----------------------------
  14. I couldn't help but cackle like a harpy when I saw the use of a certain word. Amazingly done, Genkos! ----- ((Maintenance Area, Cardassian Prison)) They had managed to get across the gaping chasm in the middle of the corridor with what could be called style and panache, but only by the partially sighted. Apart from Tan; he’d landed and ‘Kos had been tempted to hold up a PADD that read 9.4 on it. If he’d had a PADD that is. Or the time. Suddenly, however, and without warning, Shades jumped right on top of TNT, and bundled him to the floor. Repressing the brief urge to jump in, ‘Kos watched as she managed to slip off the knots holding him to the anchor, which, he now noticed, had just plummeted over the edge. There was a horrendous crashing sound as metal married more metal, and possibly had a lot more metal babies. It had pulled the rope taut, but didn’t seem in immediate danger in pulling TNT over edge. Reynolds: One second, we'll get you loose. Marshall/Tan: Response Sim: Here, use my - ‘Kos was stopped as the last knot slipped free and whipped past them, catching his crutch and sending him crashing bodily to the floor. He caught himself on his elbow which sent a shockwave straight up and into his jaw. As Shades saw to TNT, he got back onto his feet quite unsteadily, his heart pounding in his chest. Reynolds: You all right? Marshall/Tan: Response Reynolds: This place just keeps getting weirder and weirder. ::As was becoming a habitual tic, she crossed her arms again.:: I swear nothing makes sense in here. ‘Kos nodded once, agreeing with her. It was almost like a dream, such was the unreality of the situation, but not even in his worst nightmares did he have to exert himself so physically. Compared to this, his nightmares were a walk in the park. Sim: The only thing that makes sense is that this consistently doesn’t make sense. Marshall/Tan: Response Reynolds: We should— ‘Kos followed Shades’ gaze as whatever she saw interrupted her. Lumbering down the corridor was a sight both familiar and horrifying at the same time, and ‘Kos felt his bloody turn Andorian in the splittiest of split seconds. Reynolds: —go! Sim: Oh good… another undead. Marshall/Tan: Response And it was, somehow, a corpse reanimated as if by some day-go liquid, some of which poured like ichor from the creature’s mouth. At least that’s what it looked like. But ‘Kos didn’t take any of that in; he had pivoted on his heel and was limping as quickly as he could in the opposite direction. The groans of the creature echoed after them, and ‘Kos tried to block out these wordless cries. Sim: ::breathlessly:: Why… did… it… have… to… be… zombies? Marshall/Tan/Reynolds: Response They reached a T-junction, and neither was an exciting prospect. To the left, there appeared to be a large grate covering the entire corridor a few hundred yards down. Illuminated in the dull red bulbs seemed to be more of the shambling corpses, all Romulans, and all wearing the remains of fairly ragged clothes. Each one was covered in a symphony of bruises, as if they’d been beaten to within an inch of their life before being thrown into the corridor. Upon seeing their merry band of travellers, the Romulundead turned and ran at the grate. Thankfully it held, but they kept jumping at it, and it was deeply unpleasant. A sinking feeling in ‘Kos’ stomach told him eventually they’d break through. Whilst to the right, there was a completely darkened corridor. Sim: This way has to be better, right? … Right?! Marshall/Tan/Reynolds: Response --------------- Genkos “Wheels” Sim Doctor Skarbek G239502GS0
  15. (( Mandatory @Alieth @Meidra Sirin terrorist tags! )) ------ "you know, probably could be AWESOME let the story roll and the details being not exactly accurate or greatly exaggerated, due this is how legends born XD" - Alieth, unwisely. (( Outside the Vulcan Science Academy, Deck 231, Deep Space 224 )) He had a whole space station to explore, and Serren wasn't about to waste the opportunity. The food areas were given a cursory look—everything smelled delicious and no doubt he would have the chance to confirm his suspicions at a later date—and eventually, he found himself down on Deck 231. Home of the famous Vulcan Science Academy. The Vulcan Science Academy was a highly prestigious, quadrant renowned institution and Serren found his curiosity piqued. There might be a bit to learn... or at least, maybe brush up on the latest scientific developments. Read something interesting. The possibilities were endless. As he approached the main entrance, though, something caught his attention: a small metal sign hung to one side of the door, small but insistent, consisting of a metal plate embossed with neat Vulcan script. A pair of holographic images hovering below it. Inscribed were simple words in the written form of Vulcan. DO NOT PERMIT ENTRY TO THESE VULCANS: REPORT ALL INFRACTIONS Serren scratched his chin thoughtfully, studying the two faces. He did not recognise either of the women. The sign had either been there for a while, with great care had been taken to ensure that the power supply for the holographic emitter was maintained and the metal plaque appeared to be brushed every day... or it was new. Since it was impossible to tell, whoever was in charge of maintenance of this particular piece of station hardware evidently took their job seriously. Tan: ::To himself,:: No idea what that's about. Shrugging helplessly, he walked up to the door, expecting it to open automatically. It did not, the computer emitting a mournful chime. A voice echoed from the plaque, stern and male, flat and Vulcanoid judging by the accent. Voice: Unrecognised entry attempt. State your business. Vulcans were not well known for their hospitality, but this was something else. The voice was almost trying to tell him to go away. There were many entirely legitimate reasons why the academy might not want visitors at any given point, but he had seen no evidence of any kind of dangerous research, maintenance or the like. Curiosity overtook him and he wandered over to the plaque. Tan: Uh, hi. Hello there. My name is Lieutenant Serren Tan. I'm with Starfleet Security on the Gorkon. I was just wanting to visit the famous Vulcan Science Academy. The voice audibly bristled, sucking in air on the other end of the line. Voice: A junior officer. Are you a Vulcan? Serren squinted, eyebrows raising. He reached up and felt his ears. Definitely rounded. Tan: Not to my knowledge. The voice paused, considering. Serren wondered if he was being watched through some remote camera. Voice: Then entry is possible. Your profile will need to be verified. That surely wouldn't be a problem. His eyes lingered on the holographic image of the two Vulcans. Tan: Sooo... had some problems with, um. I wanna say... "unwanted visitors"...? A long, pregnant pause came down the line. Voice: Yes. Tan: Anything I can do to help? Voice: Certainly. Assist us in keeping the two identified individuals away from this facility. He had no idea who the two were, but if they were being asked not to enter, there was probably a good reason. A good reason he was determined to find out. Tan: I mean sure, if I see them. But... why? Voice: They are terrorists. Now that he had difficulty believing. Tan: Terrorists? They're wearing Starfleet uniforms. Voice: Apparently that does not, a distinction, make. Suppose not. Serren felt vaguely silly talking to a plaque. Tan: So they blew up the place? What did they do? Voice: ::The voice took a breath, his composure immaculate and perfectly Vulcan.:: There were noise complaints. Significant disorder. Several experiments had to be restarted or abandoned outright. Suffice it to say, the cats were not pleased— Tan: Wait, cats? Voice: Yes. They were disturbed. Fed out of schedule. Tan: You have cats in there? Voice: We have many scientific experiments here. Serren squinted. Tan: I'm not an expert on cats, but surely that's... not really a huge problem. Is that a huge problem? Another long, uncomfortable silence. Serren glanced over his shoulder, unable to shake the profound feeling that he was being watched. Possibly from the plaque itself, possibly from somewhere else, but regardless he felt eyes upon him, watching him, evaluating him. A vague sense of absurdity hung in the air, as though the whole thing was a giant prank and Jona was going to jump out of a cake any second and shout, "Surprise!". Voice: Upon consideration, your access to this facility has been denied. Please vacate the area. The abrupt change of tone and intention startled him. His jaw fell open. Tan: Wait, huh? Voice: Please vacate the area. You are disturbing our scientific experiments. Serren stared in confusion at the voice, then just shrugged helplessly and straightened up. Tan: Okay, well... good luck with the cats I guess. Voice: And to you as well. The voice crackled slightly and the connection ended. What a weird moment. Serren scratched his head as he wandered away, trying to process what kind of nightmarish sequence of events could have possibly caused a blow-up of this magnitude. It was tempting to investigate, but... no. The truth was probably confusing, and he only had a day more left on the station before shore leave ended. Some mysteries were better off undisturbed. fin -- Lieutenant (j.g.) Serren Tan Security/Tactical USS Gorkon O238704AT0
  16. ((Chief of Operations Office, Deck 13, USS Gorkon)) Tap tap tippity-tap Jona sat hunched over his desk idly tapping his thumb on its shiny raven surface. A quick glance let him know that ten more minutes had passed since he'd last looked and he gave a low sigh. The shift was beginning to drag and he stole a brief glance out his office window to the starbase's lengthy form outside. He'd promised himself that he'd make time to visit DS224 again before the ship was called away on its next assignment. His gaze returned to the PADD and he scrolled down with the singular swipe upward of a pointer finger. Tap tap tippity-tap Apparently the counselor and doctor had come across quite the haul on the starbase. The good doctor had submitted a special request for the beaming of some extra large items to the ship. The Andorian Ops Chief didn't see any issues with that as long as it wasn't hazardous to the Gorkon. ch'Ranni: Wait, wha-? A castle? The manifest listed a castle! No way. Absolutely not. His finger stood ready to trigger the reject button but he hesitated. He'd have to double check that. Surely, there was some mistake. A quick inspection of the request details listed the item with a large, but not unmanageable, weight. He deduced it must be a miniature version of the real thing. As he checked the approval button and forward the order to the Cargo Bay techs, he wondered if it was a gift for the little red fire-breather Loxley had introduced to him. ch'Ranni: Smug? Smoogle? He shook his head once and decided it didn't really matter but made a mental note to find out for sure. The creature had definitely given him the evil eye but Jona tried to not hold it against the diminutive dragon. The creature deserved a nice little kingdom to command. Maybe he could even replicate a few tritanium figurines for the castle - get in the lizard's good graces. Tap tap tippity-tap Becoming annoyed at the sound of his own drumming thumb on the desktop, Jona shifted in his seat and moved the electronic tablet to his other hand as he moved on to the next item. The two crates of stem bolts had arrived from Starbase 118. The seismic stabilizers for Delta Doradus III, the spare ablative armor plates, everything seemed to be in order. Inventory check complete. The Azetbur was back from its refurbishing visit to the base and right where it should be - nestled up against the saucer section. He nodded approvingly at the technician's report. They had even managed to fix the annoying squeak in the [...]pit door, not to mention removal of every last vestige of the garish green paint on her hull. ch'Ranni: Excellent. Ready for her next adventure. Tap tap tippity-tappity tap Jona let out another breath and rose from his chair. He arched his back and stretched as if he were a Caitian sunning himself in the beam of sunlight entering the nearest window. Maybe another cup of raktajino wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. ch'Ranni: Raktajino, hot, with cream and double sugar. The food slot coalesced particles of inert matter into the requested beverage and he took a testing sip. The warm liquid hit his bloodstream and made his eyes open just a touch wider, banishing the tiredness from his brain. He walked slowly to his bookshelf by the window and pulled out his most recent acquisition. Emily Dickinson. A few minutes looking it over wouldn't hurt. In fact, it might clear his brain even further. It would also give him a little small talk to bring up with Meru the next time they saw each other. The [...] leather cover, a dark blue, weathered thing, fell open of its own accord and he began reading the words on the cream colored paper ch'Ranni: Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all The prose was haunting, chilling even. And that was saying something for an Andorian like Jona. He returned the book to its spot on the shelf with the few other books stacked there. Taking another sip of his steamy drink, the department chief returned to his chair and swiveled it from side to side distractedly as if the ship were being rocked by an invisible salvo of phaser fire. The author was clearly trying to evoke a comparison of hope to a free-flying bird. He mused between sips of dark drink that having hope could be uplifting and freeing to the mind. Just the promise of good was enough to keep one reaching forward, battling the wind and gravity that threatened to beat it down. Still, the poem had an edge of sadness that juxtaposed its earnestness. Sadness. Tap tap tippity-tap He grabbed up the copy of Helmsman Today and flipped it open to the spread on the center page. Interesting. An advertisement for the Centauris' Cup. That was the biannual race Jo had mentioned a few weeks ago. Would the admiral really be open to entering the Gorkon in the event? She could certainly give any other ship out there a run for their latinum. He threw the magazine down on the reflective, inky desk and paused to look at his reflection in its perfect sheen. What was he doing? Tap tap tippity-tappity tap Jona's left hand moved slowly to the drawer on the desk. It hovered for a second as if it was deciding whether it was safe to proceed. Then, ever so slowly, his long thin fingers found the activation keys which unlocked the compartment. He pulled the wood and glass rectangle from the drawer and rested it in his lap. The smiling face of the young woman - with cornflower blue skin and face framed by snow white hair cascading to her shoulders - gazed back up at him. Her expressive antenna poked through her hair and emoted the joy that the snapshot in time had captured. Jona ran a finger across the glass to remove a bit of dust that had landed there. His lips thinned to a slight frown and a tightness formed in his shoulder blades. Why had the gods broken them apart? What did he do to deserve that cruel weight? Where were the fluttering wings of hope to be found in that stark reality? A single drop of rain landed on the picture's glass protector and Jona determined there must be something incredibly wrong with the environmental systems to allow for such condensation. He wiped the remaining tear from the corner of his eyes and placed the framed picture back in its drawer. ch'Ranni: ::whispering:: Miss you, Vexa. ::closing his eyes and even more softly after a long pause:: Maybe one day. -- Lt. Commander Jona ch'Ranni Chief of Operations USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) C239510JC0
  17. A lovely little bit of family life from our Ensign! This was fun to read. ----- ((Tahna's Quarters, Deck 5, USS Gorkon)) Meru set a small white and gold prayer candle on the table beside her bed, something of a finishing touch. She hadn't had even time to unpack before her first mission and her first order of business post-ribbon ceremony was to fix that. She looked around her quarters -- still pretty empty, but she would have plenty of time to fill them. She finally felt settled in. She was about to change out of her newly decorated uniform into something more casual when the PADD on her bed chimed. Changing would have to wait. She plopped down on the bed in front of the PADD before answering the incoming transmission. Meru: Hanyu, ah’no peldar aka rokaya! Rej: Hanyu, ja'ral! Meru's mother and father waved at her from the screen. She smiled back, slipping easily back into her native Bajoran though it felt like forever since she'd had a chance to speak it. Her father, Rej, had the same easygoing lopsided smile she knew and loved; her mother, Yavarel, was never half as stern as she looked. Yavarel: How goes your first assignment, Ensign Tahna? Meru: ::Smiling:: I'm still in one piece. Yavarel: And decorated. Care to share? Meru laughed awkwardly. This was why she had hoped to change before their call. Meru: I had a run-in with some Orion criminals. Scared them away with fireworks. You know, the usual. Her mother did not look satisfied with that answer but to Meru's relief she pressed no further. Knowing her parents she guessed that her mother could identify the red and black Prisoner of War ribbon, though her father certainly could not. She had no doubt her mother would question her about it later in a private message when she could do so without worrying it would hit too close to home for her father. Yavarel: All in a day's work. ::She paused before changing the subject.:: Your father was complaining that you don't send enough pictures. Rej: I wasn't complaining, but I would love to paint the Beta quadrant if you see anything striking. Meru: ::Smiling:: Only if you send me one of your paintings, fa. Rej: Of course, Mer. As many as will fit in your quarters. Yavarel: Have you had a chance to get settled? Meru looked over her quarters. Her uniforms hung neatly in the closet. A small painting her father made of the budding kava fields on her uncle's farm hung over her desk; below it sat a family portrait taken the day before Meru left for the Academy. Her father's hair was still auburn in the picture, now she saw it had grayed considerably since she'd left. Her mother looked the same as ever -- like she hadn't aged a day since Bajor joined the Federation. Meru: I just finished unpacking actually, and I can definitely fit more of your paintings. Her father smiled in delight. Rej: I'll get right on that. Yavarel: I'm sure you have plenty to do. We won't keep you- Rej: But we love hearing from you, Mer. Meru: It's good to see you both. ::She smiled:: I love you. Rej: We love you too. Yavarel simply nodded and the call ended with a beep. Meru set the PADD down and fell back on her bed. Her mother was right, she did have plenty to do, but she felt exhausted from all the day's socializing. She stood up to change into something more comfortable, setting her PADD on the desk as she passed it. So much to do, but nothing said she couldn't start with a nap. ((End.)) ((OOC: Bajoran translations from here: http://www.cyberspaces.net/Star_Trek/BajorDictionary.html)) -- Ensign Tahna Meru Science Officer USS Gorkon (NCC-82293) G239801TM4
  18. More adorable family stuff from the skipper. Shore leave stuff! ----- ((Leaf and Bean, First Promenade, Deep Space 224)) It was loud here. While there was always background noise aboard a starship—the hum of the EPS, the low bass thrum of the core, the whisper of life support systems cycling air—it was quiet, in more ways than one. The subtle, subdued colour scheme of Federation starships was no accident, selected for to counteract stress and encourage focus. People usually worked in small groups, Quinn was often on her own in her ready room, and even the largest of the crew lounges didn't have the space for a sizable crowd. So here on the Promenade, with brilliant lights and colours bursting from the shop facades, with hundreds of people heading back and forth, conversations ranging from the low to near shouted, the pound of footsteps interspersed with bursts of laughter and the occasional whooping shriek of delight... it was loud. She liked it. It was vibrant and alive, pulsing with energy. A reminder of her connection to the universe, beyond the confines of her fancy tin can in space. Taking a sip of her tea, the hybrid looked back toward her son, his voice animated and his hands making sweeping gestures as he talked about his latest classroom project. D. Reynolds: ...used polaritons to create a giant quantum vortex, which I used to model the Bouman black hole— A. Reynolds: Daddy! Amelia launched herself out of her seat before Quinn had time to react. The tiny blonde whirlwind shot across the cafe's seating area, weaving between tables and people, only avoiding collisions thanks to the fast reflexes of the adults whose paths she crossed. Her target reached down and scooped her up, planting a kiss on her cheek and grimacing at the childishly wet one he received in turn. Brunsig: A terror as usual, Schatzi. Reynolds: Why don't I get an adorable German nickname? Brunsig: What would you like? He planted a kiss on top of her head as he completed his approach to the table. Like her, he was out of uniform, dressed in a simple pair of khaki slacks and pale blue shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow. It suited him, and she felt her heart give a gentle thump against her ribs, a small flourish of pink appearing under her freckles. Brunsig: Schnuckelschneke? Igelschnäuzchen? Hasenfürzchen? Dylan snickered at the series of suggestions—Nibble Snail, Little Hedgehog Snout, and Bunny Fart respectively—and Quinn threw up a hand in defeat. Stick with the classics, don't change the habit of a lifetime; she knew a lesson when she walked into one. Reynolds: Cupcake it is. It was a nickname she'd not only got used to, but grown oddly fond of, at least when it came from him. He smirked at her as he settled into an empty seat, clapping Dylan on the shoulder. Amelia clung on to him and settled in his lap, exhaling her delightful, bubbly giggle, a sound which rarely failed to make Quinn smile and lift her spirits. D. Reynolds: Hey Dad. Brunsig: Pickle. A. Reynolds: Haha, Pickle! The grin dropped off the teenager's freckled face, and he rolled his eyes at the invocation of his childhood nickname. Quinn offered him a sympathetic look, only half-heartedly trying to keep the grin off her face while Amelia sang "pickle pickle pickle" on repeat. Much like Dylan at her age, once she discovered something funny, the young girl clung on to the joke well past its expiration date. It was cute right up until it wasn't, and then it was a very specific kind of hell. D. Reynolds: Can I go? Reynolds: Your Dad's only just got here. D. Reynolds: I'll be back for dinner. I promised Mirra I'd show her sickbay on the Gorkon while everyone's on leave. She wants to be a doctor, and on Ketar she never really— Quinn frowned, ready to object further, but Walter waved off the extended explanation. He flicked his hand in a shooing gesture, granting permission for the young teenager to abscond. If he didn't mind, she didn't mind. It was just hard, sometimes, to realise how grown-up and independent Dylan was becoming. A young man in his own right, with his own ideas and ambitions in the world. Brunsig: Go on, beat it. ::He wagged a stern finger in his son's direction.:: Don't get into any trouble. Slurping the last few dregs of his papalla juice, Dylan muttered a hasty goodbye and dashed off into the crowds. Walter watched him go, presented Amelia with a PADD to keep her entertained—a tactic both immediately and thoroughly successful—and turned to Quinn. She sipped her tea and caught a server's eye, and lifted a hand to show she'd like to order something soon. Brunsig: Who the hell's Mirra? Reynolds: Sienelis' niece. They're about the same age, she's a smart kid. It's been good for him to have someone his own age to knock about with. Brunsig: And develop a crush on. Reynolds: What? No. ::She paused and looked at him, and he looked back at her with raised eyebrows.:: You think? Brunsig: Sometimes, Cupcake, you're so dense it hurts my soul. He shook his head in despair, though she could see the smallest tug of a grin and a light sparkling in his blue eyes. She chuckled in reply, though it was a little muted. Dylan and his first crush. Quinn hadn't the faintest idea how, or if, she was supposed to guide him through the tangled web that romance wove. After all, she hadn't exactly navigated her own in an exemplary manner. But she hoped it was a good thing. Growing up the way she had, she'd always been self-conscious about her Deltan heritage, and rarely interacted with people her own age. She'd never had the chance to have a teenage boyfriend or girlfriend and experience young love, and sometimes Quinn wondered what she'd missed out on. Reynolds: This is good for him, right? Normal... interpersonal or social development or something. Brunsig: Or something. Reynolds: ::She sighed, and he shrugged.:: You're no help. I'll have to talk to Corliss. Brunsig: Bring some insulin. And save me some peanut brittle. Her chuckle had a little more force and warmth to it this time; Corliss had won over even Walter, reluctant as he was to show it. The approaching server drew her gaze, a young Andorian woman with a brilliant smile, powder blue skin and hair dyed the colour of candyfloss. Before she arrived at the table, the German picked up the menu and scanned its contents, while Quinn finished her tea. Brunsig: What's the coffee like in this place? Reynolds: Jo approved it, so it can't be half bad. Brunsig: Pastries? Reynolds: I can recommend the Delvan fluffs. A. Reynolds: Can I have one? Quinn grinned and shook her head, the precocious five-year-old able to zero in on anything food-related, whether it was a comment in a conversation or a replicator spinning up two rooms away. Walter looked toward her, and she shrugged. It was a special occasion, the family together for the first time a while, and there was no harm in a few treats. Reynolds: I suppose so. She answered with a delighted squeal, scrambling off Walter's lap and back into her chair, ready to receive the baked bounty. Quinn leaned back in her chair, smiling as she watched her daughter, while her husband laid out the order for their cheerful server; fresh drinks and pastries for all. Sometimes, she thought, it was easy to believe she wasn't an admiral, he wasn't a captain, and there weren't starships outside waiting for them. It was nice to forget that anything existed outside of moments like this. And so she did. -- Rear Admiral Quinn Reynolds Commanding Officer USS Gorkon T238401QR0 & Captain Walter Brunsig Commanding Officer USS Triumphant
  19. Just a lovely, quiet sim for shore leave that made me smile. Caution: Sweetness overdose risk! ----- ((Corliss and Loxley’s Quarters, Deck 5, USS Gorkon)) Large bristle brush. Styling scissors (the nice ones with a gold trim). Fine-tooth comb. Tea tree oil. A small red candle that smelled of Revann, bringing her mind to a forest, fresh air and nature abounding. She inhaled, grinning. Amongst all other ways, this truly was her favorite of stress relief. Trimming her hair. Which, astoundingly, seemed to have grown the last time she had undone her braid (or perhaps it had always been this long, and she was just now able to take the time to notice). It appeared to reach just below her waist in long blonde strands, curling just a little at the ends. One hand brushed through from the top of her head towards her shoulder with a sigh. Fiddling with her wigs always gave her a sense of calm, but nomoreso than her own hair did. But it needed a little TLC to get back in the ring! Today she wore just a simple tank top and shorts, a far cry from her normal exuberant outfits. But one had to be comfortable when sitting for a long period of time! She hummed, picking up some of the oil and coating her fingers in it. Fortune: Computer. Play The Waltz of Tours. A grand string of instruments started to swell, and she hummed along. She had once seen a band play it as a child, and had adored the song ever since. It was slow and comforting, with a swell of music towards the end. She clicked her tongue, stroking her fingers through her hair, pulling a section from over her shoulder to in front of her. Ah, her bangs were a sight as well, honestly. She took up the brush, slowly combing the oil through the strands of hair, her fingers riding along the waves made by it. The door opened just as she was mid-brush, her head tilted to the side as if weighted down by it, one leg balanced on the chair as the other tapped the tune on the floor. She perked up, waving the brush after pulling it from her hair. Fortune: Loxley! Loxley: Corliss! ::He waved back in mock over-enthusiasm:: What am I walking into here? Fortune: Little bit of a hair day. Salon. Something. I had some nail polish out but I may not do that. ::she ran her fingers through her hair, ruffling over the top of her head with a tut before grinning at him.:: Would you like to experience the teachings of the Corliss School for Hair? Lox smiled back. He’d never gotten around to asking Corliss about her wigs. He knew they weren’t for vanity. They might be purely for fun, though. But it was only an idle curiosity on his part - he knew that if it was something important, she’d tell him. That’s how these things worked. Loxley: The Corliss School for Hair? ::he lifted his cap off and tousled his own tangled mess:: I don’t think mine is anything like as luxurient as yours. Or as long… wow, that IS long! Fortune: Hah! I’ve been growing it since I was a child. ::she held up a lock, the ends curling slightly at her touch.:: I’ve yet to really cut it in its entirety, and I’d loathe to do it now. Loxley: By all means, m’lday, do your worst. Wait, no, your best. I mean do your best. Fortune: Best, worst, same same. ::she wiggled her scissors in the air before vacating her chair, patting the headrest.:: Sit, sit! Anything in mind specifically? Loxley: I used to have hairstyles when I was younger. Always trying to find the one that would actually make me look ‘cool’. But none of them did, so now when I go to the barbers I just settle for coming out with shorter hair. Fortune: ‘Cool’ you say? Very subjective. ::she pointed her scissors at him, a hand on her hip with a grin.:: I shall do my utmost best. Plus, you can see it in the mirror and judge as you please. She waved her scissors at the seat again, before leaning to grab up the comb, mumbling to herself a moment and trading out instruments before straightening up with a small spritz bottle and a see-through cape. Fortune: Wetting the hair makes it all flat and easy to handle. Ready? Loxley: No, but when has that ever stopped me? Lox took the seat, mildly worried that the scissor gesture could turn into a threat if he didn’t. The smell of tea tree oil still hung in the air, pleasantly refreshing. Loxley: So, just a short back and sides, right? Or am I not going to escape that easily? Fortune: Oh no! We’re going to do this intricately. ::she snipped at the air, grinning.:: May take a bit longer than just that. Loxley: Just as long as I don’t end up with a perm. And watch out for the ears - they’re bigger than you think. She hid a chuckle, nodding for now as she pulled a crinkly plastic bib around his shoulders, humming along. With a spritz of water to his hair, it was time to begin. Lox squinted as the spray bottle created a fine mist around his head, his bright ginger hair turning a much darker, duller shade with the damp. Fortune: Hmm...let’s see. With a simple twist of the comb, she started running it through the wet strands easily. A few here and there were unevenly grown, but with a simple snip it took care of those. She hummed along to the music, her mouth moving as if talking to herself for a moment before clicking her tongue along with another snip, a small bit of hair falling prey to her scissors once more. Lox smiled up at Corliss’s reflection as she bustled about, a look of extreme concentration on her face. The brows furrowed just so, the eyes wide and bright, the mouth in a little pout. It was one of the many things about Corliss that Lox found endearing. Loxley: This is… strangely relaxing. Fortune: Mmhmm...everyone likes a good haircut now and again. ::her hand grazed the back of his ear, then she playfully tugged the edge of it before carefully snipping some ends of hair.:: I’ve had a lot of practice with my mannequins over there, but do speak up if I pull you around somewhere too harshly. They have no pain receptors, as it were. Loxley: That’s not the most reassuring thing I’ve heard from someone waving scissors over my head. ::he glanced over to the mannequins:: What do they say about your hairdressing abilities? Fortune: I think they’d have some good opinions about the styling I give the wigs. ::she grinned at him in the mirror, slipping a hand into his hair and ruffling it a little before combing it back down, foot tapping to the beat.:: We can chat, nothing’s really loud and I don’t like using a blow dryer. Loxley: That’s part of the ritual, isn’t it? Talk about the weather, where you’re going on your holidays? Well, there’s no weather in space but shoreleave is as much of a holiday as anything else. So, anywhere you want to visit at the station? Fortune: If it snows, I’ll remember who caused it then. ::she grinned.:: Hm, not in any particular fashion, no, but I’m open to exploring around. Loxley: I was thinking some shopping to start, get these quarters decorated. Well, the parts that aren’t already covered in wigs. I hear they have some antique shops and a place that specialises in old Earth music. And then we treat ourselves to an excellent, fulfilling meal followed by partying until we fall over and can’t stand back up. Fortune: Oh that sounds lovely! ::she laughed, combing over his hair again slowly.:: I daresay we’ll have all the bits and bobs to last us until the next shore leave, eh? The quiet snip snip of the scissors and some more ginger locks fell away. Looking in the mirror, Lox was convinced that his hair was certainly shorter - as to being ‘cool’, he’d have to wait until Corliss had finished her handiwork. Another random thought struck him and he gave a little frown. Loxley: Corliss, do you have secret stashes of stuff around the ship? Fortune: ...hm? What do you mean? Loxley: I just don’t know anyone else who has so many accoutrements readily available. ::he gestured to the semi-professional salon setup:: And I thought maybe you had some smuggler training, things hidden in vents and piled up in Jeffries tubes. Fortune: Oh! ::she chuckled, trading out the scissors for the brush and sweeping his hair in grand gestures to make it stand up.:: I’ve always been one for managing to have something always on hand. I’d say it’s a talent, my dad was one to tap your shoulder, ask if you’d like to see a plant, and then just...pull one in a pot from seemingly nowhere! I’ve still to wonder how he did it... Loxley: Oh, that reminds me, who is Captain Marisol?
  20. An interesting and thought provoking discussion amongst the villains of our last mission. Great work, as always. It's interesting learn that Serren is going to be... engraved. Should be awesome! ----- ((Berth 94, Mares de Oro Casino Private Dock, Nassau)) Arms crossed over his chest, dark eyes staring up at the gaping hole in the side of his yacht, Alred could not say he was having the best of days. Sacrificing the Ferengi vessel to the Vulcan in the first place was a wager made in haste, but in hindsight, it appeared as though he’d dodged a rather hefty round of phaser fire. On the underside of his yacht, cutting through the plating to his private morgue and surgical space, carved into the duranium and steel, was a large, typically human depiction of a heart. Alred sighed with gravitas weighing it down, and an indistinct sound gruffly escaped from his throat as his hand wiped over his face, thumb and forefinger rubbing into his eye sockets. Why were Trill always like this? Why were they always so obsessed with him? The refrigerated morgue had leaked out the coolant, rendering half of his stasis bays next to useless. It would take a chunk of latinum to repair. A piercing alarm rang out around the small berth as the metal ring door—now stuck open—juddered and shuddered. Another ship nose appeared through the force field above, gliding through serenely like a Betazed oyster slid down the throat. Another sigh leapt through the half-Deltan as he prepared himself for the conversation ahead. She didn't wait to dock, the hum and whine of a transporter beam the herald of her arrival. Dressed in a crisp white suit, blonde hair tousled just so, the Trill woman sashayed across the docking bay to stand alongside him. Her green eyes glittered with a dangerous mix of amusement and anger, a smile cloying at the edges of her lips. Lladre: Well, now. This didn't go to plan. Evatt: It wasn’t quite what I had in mind. ::A dark eyebrow arched as he surveyed the damage.:: Somehow, he did that with a type-1 hand phaser. Lladre: Resourceful. Evatt: Impossible. He corrected and set his jaw. Determination kindled in anger aflame, revenge being the powerful motivator stoking the fire, but it wasn’t the state of his ship digging the knife into soft hybrid ribs. Sealed away, unknown to anyone outside of his personal crew. He was going to have to have them all shot. Evatt: She took the machine and didn’t leave me a thank you card. Lladre: That is disappointing, Alred. ::She slipped her hand into her pocket, the picture of sophisticated chic.:: It was supposed to be safe with you. Evatt: It was safe with me. Who would look for it here? Beneath the clear-cut lines of the yacht, the shrouded compartment built for his nefarious purposes had served as the vault for the item. For someone to know it was there, their gathered intelligence was no less than impeccable, or purchased at a high price. Alred pursed his lips behind his beard as he slipped his hands into the pockets of his crisp dark suit. Evatt: I’ll send someone. Find out where she is and take it back. Somehow avoid that Trill carving another hole in my ship. The response brought a satisfied smile to her lips, and she nodded. Stood there together, they could be a pair of fashion models in a designer's latest photoshoot, cool and cosmopolitan, effortlessly beautiful. A shame the ruined side of his yacht let the perfection down. Lladre: Shoot him. ::She said it with bored indifference, as much care as one would offer the fly buzzing about one's food.:: He won't be any trouble if he's dead. Evatt: I intend to. With a type-1 Starfleet phaser. See how much of his organic hull I can engrave. He looked to his side at the outrageously beautiful Trill with a slight smile turning up the corner of his lips; the charm in it fluent and smooth, voice like a glass of honeyed jacarine whiskey. Plans sliding into plans. She met his gaze with a faint smile of her own, his plan for revenge finding amused approval. Evatt: There were others he was with. I’ve asked Volku to check the casino feeds. Lladre: Good. I want it back, Alred. We learnt enough to build our own, but sourcing the components without drawing attention is a challenge. ::She arched a perfectly sculpted eyebrow.:: Especially if someone is already nosing about our business. Even in their circles, it would attract questions, complications, and scrutiny they didn’t need to fulfil their desired goals. Opportunities came thin on the ground. Perhaps it was time to manufacture some. For freedom, one must make sacrifices. Evatt: I will return as soon as they repair this. ::He gestured up to the yacht, damage apparent.:: They have assured me a day at the most, but promises make the sweetest lies. Lladre: At least it will please least Ran if you can't. He's relishing the chance to do what he wants for a change. But the Commission, in its eternal wisdom, insisted on "widening his horizons". ::She shook her head.:: They last put him into a forensic pathologist. Can you imagine? You want to build among the stars and they have you grubbing around with corpses. The symbiont commission being one of them. Promising the everlasting delights of a universe of knowledge, seeking galactic secrets, and hoarding them for millennia to come, only to share it with spotted hosts with little to no regard for their wellbeing. Taking the least amount of care for their bodies, throwing themselves into danger for the thrill, safe in the knowledge their consciousness would live on in a tuber-sized root slug embedded in their abdomen. Tortured beings trapped in an endless cycle, unaware the hosts didn’t have power over the symbionts; the symbionts gave it to them. Evatt: Sometimes, my darling, betrayal comes from the ones we expect the least. Lladre: That's why I prepare for everyone to betray me. Her words set like a hot stone dropping into water in his stomach, with the barest flicker of it registering in the pull of his eyebrows and the twitch of his lips. He dredged up amusement as he looked toward the elegant Trill, with a tilt of his head and the flare of a hybrid Deltan smile. Evatt: A deal is a deal. Especially one made with the devil. Lladre: I'm not the devil, much as some might like to cast me as one. ::She smiled.:: This is a war, Alred. A fight for freedom. Casualties happen. Evatt: And nothing riles the Commission more than exercising free will. If his preternatural charm had any effect on her, it didn't show. Perhaps it was the symbiont's ability to suppress the host, a mental strength and fortitude which kept the intoxicating effect at bay. Perhaps she had evolved beyond such things. Or perhaps she was just a capable actor. Lladre: It's not anger, Alred. It's fear. They clamour to be hosts, to take advantage of everything we have to offer, but they demand all the sacrifices to be ours. They expect us to exist on their whims, to live how they think we should live. ::Fire flared deep in her green eyes, a rare heat igniting in her voice, and Alred leaned away slightly.:: Binding us with arbitrary rules because they're afraid of our power, because their tiny, pathetic existence cannot accept the reality of ours. If we don't comply, they try to kill us. And the Federation, in all its infinite compassion and mercy, stands back and allows it to happen. The blaze and shine of her impassioned explanation left the hybrid gazing at her, undisguised desire in his eyes and his smile. Lladre, to him at least, likened a beacon atop a lighthouse in the dark, drawing all toward her while the sharks swam beneath. Deadly, yet altruistic. For those not of the Trill, it was a simple concept to dismiss. They were born, they joined, they merged, they died; the symbiont lived on with the memories of lifetimes, ready to serve the next. Evatt: The Federation, in all its infinite compassion and mercy, has stood back for centuries and watched species die. Lladre: And they call me a monster. Just like that, the fire vanished. As though it was never there, the stunning blonde back to nonchalant glamour. She looked across at Alred, meeting his gaze with a lazy smile. He amused her, with his unfettered and unashamed pursuit of passion. He did what he wanted with his life, society's rules be damned, and that was an attitude she appreciated. Lladre: A drink? I can stay long enough to see if the engineers have given you a promise or a sweet lie. Evatt: Is that so? He smiled widely and earnestly; a terribly delicious thrum of the unrestrained Deltan in him, seeking the pleasing and the satisfying like a Risian to new experiences. He flourished his arm toward the doorway, back through to the docking ring, the casino, and a gratifying evening awaited. Evatt: Aren’t I the lucky one? It would be my absolute pleasure. fin -- Alred Evatt Surgical Hedonist G239304JM0 & Lladre Criminal Mastermind T238401QR0
  21. I love seeing these little personal moments of our characters. Great work, Lox! ----- ((Catell Cas-gwent, Wales, Earth )) The sky was bright but grey. Somewhere over the distant Welsh hills rain was coming. Rain was always coming in Wales. Or leaving. Or right there soaking you to the skin. Loxley placed his hands on the lichen-spotted castle parapet, feeling the rough ancient stone under his fingers, and gazed up at the sky, squinting against the pallid sunlight. High up above a tiny black dot circled. It looked like a bird, but Lox knew it wasn’t. A plain baseball cap of sombre charcoal grey perched on the wall nearby in deference to the occasional gusts blowing in from the estuary. The hybrid lowered his gaze down to the white river Wye rushing below and ran his hands gently over the stones with a soft sigh. Loxley: I don’t know, Ma, so much has been happening all at once it’s hard to keep up. ::he spoke into the open air, seemingly to himself:: And that’s what it feels like – I’m running to keep up all the time. I mean, I knew Starfleet would be tough, more so than the hospital I worked in, but this is exhausting. He paused and pushed one hand absently though his tangled ginger hair before continuing. Loxley: Maybe I was naïve, but I think I was expecting to be treating more sprained ankles and occasional engineering mishaps. And I was hoping for more medical marvels, researching and writing articles, becoming famous I guess. But the reality isn’t like either of those. Well, they are there, sure, but the away missions… ::he shook his head slowly:: …talk about seat of your pants. There’s no way the academy could prepare anyone for all this! The adrenaline, the excitement… Loxley’s lip curled in a half-smile, half-grimace. The terror, the near death experiences, the nightmares that followed. But those weren’t things he wanted to burden his mother with right now. Loxley: I suppose it still feels like I’m trying to find my feet. Daft, I know, but there it is. I mean, the crew of this ship, they are phenomenal. The way they just get on with things. You should see them in an emergency, Ma, the team work. It’s amazing. He paused again, mulling over his thoughts. Speaking them out loud like this he was starting to understand more about how he felt. Loxley: Actually, you know what? I think I know what it is. My first mission, not long after I got here, was… well I’m not sure how much I can tell you to be honest. But it wasn’t… usual. I felt like someone intruding into a private party, where the other people had been before. And I think that feeling has lingered. ::he drummed his fingers on the stonework:: Huh, I should see if I can do something about that I suppose. See? Talking to you is always a help. Lox picked up the grey cap and fiddled with it as he considered his next words carefully. Loxley: So, I met someone, too. Ship’s counsellor in fact. Betazoid, beautiful, smart, funny, maybe a little eccentric. ::he smiled to himself:: You’d like her. She tends to go off on random thought paths like you. Plus she appreciates the past and can throw out some killer put-downs. Oh, and I think she may have been a pirate in another life, or something. And, yes, I know you’re going to have a thousand questions, but they can wait. For now. And I know you’re going to want to meet her and interrogate her and all the rest. She’s also helping me with something else, something I might have got from Da. I know doctors and suchlike told me I didn’t have any Vulcan “mind-powers” but, well, turns out they might have been wrong. So, there’s that. ::he sighed again:: And I’ve also spoken to a Vulcan here, re-learnt some of the old meditations he tried to teach me. ::he held up his hands in a placating gesture:: But don’t worry, it doesn’t mean I want to go and see him or anything, or even speak to him. Just that, well, he is my Da… It’s complicated, but I wanted you to know that I was thinking about a few things, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. There was silence for a moment. The gusts had turned a little chill now and they carried the odd spot of cold rain with them. Lox pulled the cap down on his head. Loxley: Let’s see, what else? Oh yes, I have a dragon now. ::he chuckled:: It sounds a lot more impressive than it really is. She’s a miniature Maravel dragon, only a few inches long. Technically I’m observing her for a research project but she’s really more of a pet. Called her Smog, I thought you’d like that. Give my love to Cerys. And I’m sure I’ll be hearing from you very, very soon. He gave a short laugh as he turned his back on the wind and the view. Loxley: =/\= Computer, end message and send to Doctor Lillian Loxley, Cardiff University, Earth. =/\= The rain was starting to make more of a concerted effort now and Lox knew it wouldn’t be long before the castle walls would be soaked. He smiled to himself, though – it had felt good to talk through these things with his mother, or rather with himself. And he’d finally identified something that had been bothering him since he’d joined the Gorkon. The Gorkon and the Skarbek were the same in many ways, but so different in many more. Q had flung him into that ‘reality’ with the other crew almost as soon as he had arrived and that disjointed feeling, of not quite being in the right place, had haunted him ever since. The doctor nodded to himself – that was definitely something he could fix. Loxley: Smog? Smog! Come on, girl, time to get going before you get soaked. The black dot circling above floated towards him, finally revealing itself to be a small winged scarlet lizard, barely larger than his thumb. It landed on Loxley’s outstretched hand and scurried along his arm with its four legs, clambering onto his hat and taking up residence there, curling a scaly tail around itself. Lox turned to face to sturdy wooden door set into the stone archway nearby and raised his voice. Loxley: =/\= Computer, arch… =/\= Lt (jg) Loxley Medical Officer USS Gorkon R238401JT0
  22. This is a really nicely written sim JP from @Quinn Reynolds(Commander Valen Carys) and @Alleran Tan (Mikali sh'Shar) concerning his Andorian character coming to terms with her issues. Counselling sessions are never the easiest to write, but when it's done like this, and you can tell the writer has looked into the subject to portray it accurately, it's lovely to see. Well done, guys! Discovering New Oceans, Parts I-V ---- ((Recovery Room, Sickbay, Iana Station, Stardate 239711.25, Day 38 of 365)) After twenty-five days in the recovery room, longer than she had actually spent in her dorm, Mikali sh'Shar packed up the last of her gear into a thick duffel bag, tidied up the room, made the bed, adjusted her eyepatch, told the computer she was checking out and left. The nurses and doctors outside seemed reluctant to see her go, each taking their turn to shake hands, wave, or say goodbye. Maybe it was true what O-J had said—this place rarely had any really sick people, so that room had almost never been used before, and most of those perfectly qualified Starfleet doctors with all their years in medical school doing extremely basic things. Fixing the occasional bump or scrape, removing inserted objects, and maybe a broken bone on the holodeck. Nothing like her exotic Andorian brain-rot. Whatever the truth of the matter, they seemed genuinely glad she was okay and sad to see her go. Mikali resolved to check in with them occasionally since they all seemed like decent folk, and people who didn't dislike her immediately were rare. And they didn't even stare at her eyepatch. With her bag slung over her shoulder, sh'Shar had her head high as she walked out of sickbay, turned left, and went to the counselling suite. ((Counselling Suite)) Mikali was, as had become her custom, early to her appointment. She waited in a chair in the lobby until the appointed time, her bag of stuff from the recovery ward parked by her feet, PADD in hand. She made some last-minute adjustments to her dot-points, and then when it was time, she tucked her PADD under her arm, walked over to the door and pressed the chime. Valen: It's open. Mikali opened the door, smiling broadly as she did so. Little had changed from her last visit, light streaming in through a [...] sunlight and brightening the room, the same Bajoran art and calligraphy hanging on the walls, the diverse sculptures still in the same home as before. The flowers had changed, lending the suggestion they were real rather than artificial. Yet the place looked different with one eye. Flatter. Like some kind of painting. sh'Shar: Hi, Carys. Sorry I missed you during all the recent um... stuff. I got discharged today, so I'm here. Mug already in hand, Carys sipped her raktajino while Mikali said hello. She looked even more casual than she did the last time the Andorian saw her; jacket tossed over the back of an easy chair, teal collar unfastened to the hollow of her throat, sleeves rolled up to the elbow. Formality wasn't something that came easily to the Bajoran, but it was a trait that a counsellor could get away with more easily than many. Valen: And you came straight here? ::Eyebrows twitching upward, the glint in her eyes did not quite match the slight smile she wore.:: That is dedication. Maybe dedication, maybe not, but Mikali understood that it was important to address this problem as soon as possible. She took her seat, laying her duffel bag down by her feet, and took a deep breath. sh'Shar: So. Firstly, I'm feeling a lot better, better than I have in years actually, and also, I'm... sorry. The Bajoran's footfalls were quiet on the soft carpet as she crossed over to the relaxed seating. If she was at all nonplussed with the lack of preamble, it didn't show. Valen: For what? One-Joke had asked her the same thing. Her answer was that she had caused a scene. This time, though, she had a better one. sh'Shar: I got sick. It was preventable, and I made people worry. People including yourself. And... I let fear and insecurity cause this problem. ::She winced, taking a breath.:: If you're okay with it, I think maybe discussing these insecurities could be a good way forward. So this doesn't happen again. What do you think? Carys regarded her for a moment, a shrewd look in her eyes despite the smile curling at the edges of her mouth. She set her raktajino down next to the PADD on the small side table beside her chair and paused before she took a seat. Valen: I think that's a positive step forward. Would you like anything to drink before we start? Something to drink. It was tempting to suggest something a little more interesting—she had started having hasperat again after all—but a voice nagged at the back of her head. One step at a time. sh'Shar: Just water, thanks. With a nod, Carys moved to the coffee table where a crystal jug and matching glasses sat. She poured out a glass and Mikali took it when offered, cupping it in both hands, just holding it for now. The Bajoran stepped back and settled herself into her seat, legs crossed, PADD balanced on her lap as before. She inhaled to speak, but Mikali slid in first. sh'Shar: I... ::Mikali really didn't know where to go with this. She just spoke off the cuff, saying whatever came to her head first.:: When I lost my eye and got my hand mangled on the Indy, the whole thing that started this recent series of mistakes... I was proud of it. I know it's weird to say, but I was proud. My actions on that day made the difference... everyone on-board was saved because of me. ::She said it again.:: I made the difference. The counsellor nodded. Mikali had made a determined effort to be here, straight out of sickbay, and clearly been turning a lot of thoughts over during her recovery time. And she didn't comment or interject, letting the stream-of-consciousness spill out of the Andorian's mind without anything to break the flow. sh'Shar: I feel like when I tell people that I want to make a difference in what I do, they don't believe me. I feel like they don't believe me for entirely reasonable reasons; the more someone knows me, the more that... comes out, I guess. They think, no, this is just some kind of scam, this is her latest little game she's playing, she just has some other motive, you know? They don't... they don't think I actually want to—I don't know. Do that. Finally, sh'Shar sipped some of her water. sh'Shar: I just feel like it's hard for me, because—uhh, because... ::She hesitated.:: I've been in long-term care twice now. Once in rehab, after my... relapse, and once after the eye and the hand. In that time, both times, nobody came to visit me. Luna saw me on the DS-17 promenade before the surgery, which was nice, but nobody actually went out of their way to visit me when I was there. It was lonely. It felt like a punishment. Like I deserved it. Another sip. sh'Shar: They all had their reasons of course. To get the implant I had to go aaaaall the way back to Earth, and by the time it was all done, the Indy was a wreck. They were all moved to the Tiger and they had a new helmsman and there was no Air Group for me to come back to. Understandable. And after the Avandar the crew got split up, sent to different places, and I was all the way on Andor... understandable. They had their reasons, but still, you know, nobody came. Reaching for her mug, Carys took a draught of the raktajino, the rich flavours of the bitter Klingon drink washing over her palate. She was an attentive listener, her focus on the woman in front of her. Note-taking was second nature to the counsellor at this point in her career, and her slim fingers moved over the PADD with almost no conscious thought given to it. sh'Shar: So it means a lot to me that you did. And Catscratch, that lousy Caitian, did. And One-Joke did. And Serren did. And Tasha did. And that... has never happened to me before. Valen: Why do you think that is? Mikali was quiet for a moment, antenna drooping, her gaze sinking down to the floor. sh'Shar: I have two answers, and I think the truth lies somewhere in between. One... I push people away with my negative behaviours, and it doesn't seem like I'm the kind of person that would go out of my way to be kind to others, so I get no kindness in return. If it's more that, that's good, because it might be fixable in the long term. With... with your help. Valen: And the other? Mikali's antenna sank a little lower. sh'Shar: The other is that they simply knew me better. That they could see the real me. That back in the day I was as glass, my true self revealed to the world, and they knew. They knew I was poison. To my friends, to my crewmates, to—m-maybe even to Benna. Certainly to her other parents. ::Mumbling,:: Maybe they just knew me better. Valen: But you believe the truth is somewhere between that. sh'Shar: Truth be told I don't know what to believe. Maybe it's just wishful thinking. Before all this... ::She tapped her eyepatch.:: recent nonsense, I was sure it was the latter. But after spending weeks in bed with nothing to do but think, and with a lot of old memories fresh in my mind, I... I don't know anymore. What do you think? Many things. Some of which were helpful, others were not. Carys considered her response; what her formal education said, what her clinical experience told her, and distilled it down into the plain language of a response. And as with so many things, particularly when it came to the discrete universe that was an individual, there wasn't a simple answer. Valen: I think the truth is complicated. ::She offered the woman a slight smile.:: A combination of who you are, how you've treated people, and the realities of life in Starfleet. Mikali nodded awkwardly. It was probably true, and there was absolutely the case that Starfleet life interfered with the wants and goals and desires of its fellows. sh'Shar: I understand. And I agree. ::Straightening her back, Mikali's antenna slowly returned to their normal hover.:: Can you offer any advice regarding how I can feel better about it, or even better, work toward fixing it? After getting sick, I'm feeling quite proactive regarding heading off any other similar incidents before they become an issue. ::She smirked slightly.:: I guess all that rest paid off. Valen: Well, that depends. What's the specific "it" that you want to fix? It was hard to explain and she took a moment to gather her thoughts to prevent rambling. sh'Shar: Sometimes, such as recently with the prosthetic malfunction, I avoid fixing problems even though I know they're problems and I know how to fix them, but the actions required are... ::She wanted to say "unpalatable" or "difficult", but neither of them accurately conveyed how she felt.:: The actions required might make someone think less of me, or hurt a cause I'm working toward. So I just accept all the suffering for myself, try to push through it and I can't, because I have, um, limits and things. And then it's bad. ::She scrunched up her face, trying to convey how she felt.:: For example, I didn't want to go see anyone about the eye because if I took so much time off, so early, it might look bad. Even though I should have gone. Carys held her tongue, giving Mikali space and time to find a way to communicate what she was feeling and thinking. Often the language people chose was as telling as the meaning, revealing small details about their beliefs and views, digressions a useful insight into their thought processes. sh'Shar: Sorry, I'm struggling a bit to... ::Her antenna perked up, remembering.:: Actually, I wrote this down! I knew I was going to mess everything up so I wrote it down. Hang on. She fumbled around in her duffle bag, producing a PADD which was triumphantly turned on. Mikali scrolled through the stored data until she came to a bullet list. She offered it over. sh'Shar: This is what I was working on during all that time in sickbay. It was kinda my... notes to myself, but I figured you'd be reading them at some point too, so it's kinda to you as well. Carys shook her head, the silver chains of her earring swinging back and forth. When she'd asked Mikali to keep a journal, she hadn't specifically said it was for her eyes only—but that was the intention. Beyond a respect for privacy, and the intention to help Mikali learn ways to organise and review her inner thoughts, the Bajoran simply didn't have the time to read and review everything her patients wrote between sessions. Valen: They're yours and they're private; I only read them if you want to show them to me. If you find it's useful, it's a tool you can keep using to organise your thoughts, once you're no longer seeing me. That... was actually a good idea. Mikali had found that writing things down made them clearer; when she used her words, they tended to come out as a messy jumble. But when dictated to the computer, and then cleaned up manually, they came out much more ordered. sh'Shar: I definitely will consider that, and it seems like a good idea. Maybe that's just how my brain works. ::Mikali fiddled with the PADD.:: I'm not doing a good job of explaining it, though, and this does much better. She offered the PADD again, not demandingly, but cautiously. With a small smile, Carys took it, and her brown eyes dropped to the glowing text, reading over the fruits of Mikali's stay in sickbay. WHAT HAPPENED: (AKA, "I guess that's why they call it Eye-ana Station, huh?") • I got sick. • It was my own fault. • It won't happen again. • To elaborate, back in the day, I lost my eye on the Independence-A, piloting the ship through an unstable wormhole full of debris. It was extraordinarily difficult, and it took every ounce of my piloting skill to get us through. • I'm proud of that moment. Probably my most proud moment. Despite being severely injured, I stayed at my post, I saved the ship and the lives of all the crew. Nobody else onboard could have done what I did. • I'm proud of my actions that day, and if I had my time over again, I would do it all over again the same way. • Since then, I've had a prosthetic finger and eye. The finger is normal, I hardly notice it, but the eye's colour range was kinda weird. I got used to it. • Over the last few years, the eye has been malfunctioning. Since I took the trip to the Tyrellian system, it got a lot worse. • Finger is fine, by the way. • I didn't want to go see anyone about the eye because I wanted to have perfect attendance and excellent work performance, and I didn't want to take time off since I was worried about how that might look. • This was... if you'll forgive me a pun... short sighted. Hah! • My health is important. • My career is important. • There is, to a certain extent, a point where the former has to be sacrificed for the latter; in our work lives, our home lives, our personal lives... we have to sometimes step outside of our comfort zone and endure discomfort, pain, injury, even death. • Ideally, these circumstances should be minimised if possible. Nobody should die to do the dishes. But given my line of work, they might happen again. • Good judgement is when the circumstances are evaluated and weighed, where our priorities fit the circumstances, and where if possible one's health is taken care of first, and if not possible, at our earliest convenience. Good judgement is when people are sensible and reasonable, where the cost-benefit ratio of our actions is correctly weighed, and we act accordingly. • Obviously that didn't happen this time. I didn't use good judgement. • I promise to use good judgement on my health from now on. When the Bajoran finished reading the PADD, she leaned back in her chair and took a slow breath. Thoughts tumbled behind her dark gaze, processing what she just read and learned, theorising and planning based on this new information. After a few button presses on both devices, she handed the PADD back to its owner. Valen: You thought about a lot during your stay. ::She sat back in her chair, hands resting lightly in her lap.:: If you look over that, can you tell me what you feel it is you need to work on? sh'Shar: So I guess my question is, how can I use "good judgement" on things beyond my health, and in other things in my life? I know it might be a difficult question to answer, and it might be a long-term project, but... I think this would make me a lot happier. Eventually. She wasn't wrong. The Andorian's history was replete with incidents where she'd exercised poor judgement; rash and impulsive decisions, choices considered with a narrow focus and no regard to the bigger picture, allowing one mistake to deteriorate into a downward spiral. But there was a part of her life Carys didn't know about, a period not in her file and one they hadn't discussed. Knowing what Mikali had done since her discharge—what choices she'd made, how she'd lived her life—was vital to understand how to help her. Valen: No doubt. Before we tackle that, there's something I'd like to ask you. I know a fair amount about your past before Starfleet and during Starfleet, but I don't really know what you've been doing in the six years since you left the service. Can you talk me through it? That was a hard question, and one which would take a considerable amount of time to answer without abridging. Mikali did her best. sh'Shar: I... tried a lot of things, actually. She stopped, letting her brain catch up with her mouth. There were so many things, so many attempts, so many half-attempts, so many thoughts that never amounted to any action. She tried to start from the beginning. sh'Shar: I spent a sizable amount of it in court, trying to get Benna back. But I couldn't. I, uh, tried to join a racing circuit... grav-racing. Basically unpowered ships that use gravity assists to fling themselves around solar systems. But the kind of circuits that would let in an unranked pilot without their own ship were... ::She couldn't find the right word.:: They took place outside of Federation space, mostly, and there was a lot of drug use in those places, so I knew it wasn't good for me. And certainly there was no hope for Benna to join me if that was my life. After that, I went to the Vaadwaur planet in the Ithassa region, hoping that they would welcome me like they did Alleran, but while he was there to help them rebuild, I was there for a holiday and to gawk, and they didn't appreciate that. I visited DS-17 and revisited my old haunts, which turned out to be not nostalgic and mostly terrible. I tried to become a civilian pilot but they had no positions open near Andor. I applied for a civilian shuttle mechanic position and while I was shortlisted, they said "my history would make me a poor fit". I... considered a lot of stuff, most of which was dumb. Nothing illegal, just stupid. And I'm glad I didn't do any of that. The counsellor nodded, while Mikali took a deep, embarrassed breath. sh'Shar: Most notably, adopting. Basically for the most transparent reason, a replacement Benna. Of course, it was pointless, if I couldn't get custody of her, I would never pass the absurdly high standards for adoption. It was stupid. Just a fantasy. Even at my worst, I knew this was a bad idea. Just... just a fantasy. Another thing nagged at Mikali, although this time she let it out. sh'Shar: And... I thought a lot about reaching out to Lieutenant S'Acul Aveunalliv. He was a Caitian I was dating on the Avandar. We were... close, and he was so good to me. ::Her tone became distant, wistful, fond.:: He did more than tolerate me, he treated me like I was worth something. All the stuff in my history, all the stuff I did while we were together... it would have been so easy for him to just turn around and walk away, or hell, run, but he didn't. He never, not once, for years, was anything other than perfectly kind and good to me. An absolutely good man I did not deserve. She thought about mentioning the other thing—her dismal attempt to find the planet whose battle site she had looted as part of Xhard's crew, for which she almost considered asking S'Acul for help to locate—but she thought it best not bought up. sh'Shar: If there was anyone who was probably responsible for planting the seeds of "Mikali Grows Into A Semi-Functional Person And Realises That There Are Positive Changes She Can Make To Her Life", it's Aveunalliv. ::She stopped for a moment, and her voice returned to normal.:: I never did call him though. Maybe... that was for the best. I think I was holding him back a lot, from a lot of things. Still quiet, as she tended to be when Mikali was in the throes of a soliloquy, Carys took the occasional note on her PADD. sh'Shar: I mostly just blew around the Alpha Quadrant like an empty trashbag, being a nuisance everywhere I went, half ruminating on the mistakes I'd made, half hatching stupid schemes that would never go anywhere. I drifted from this to that to the other thing. I lost... purpose. And then finally, I found this program totally by accident, and I realised there was a lot of potential in it for me. To see Benna again, and hopefully get my commission back. I'm asking much. I know being a helmsman is probably out of my reach, but I... I can fix things. I can work. I just want something that will make Benna proud of me, and give my life a little meaning. ::She paused.:: I want to make a difference. Professionally, to her, and... and to myself. There was some irony in the evident disappointment and embarrassment Mikali had for that period of her life. Despite struggling for purpose and meaning, despite having some significant and heartbreaking setbacks—most notably barred from a custody arrangement with her daughter, and unable to find a way to pursue her love of flight near her—she had been able to identify the risks to her sobriety and avoid them, keep herself out of (serious) trouble, and eventually find her way onto a rehabilitation program. As lost as she'd been, she'd exercised better judgement in those six years than she often had in the ones preceding them. In other words, civilian life had been far easier for Mikali to manage than a Starfleet career. It was more common than people realised; even with the support that Starfleet put into place for its service members, there were many who loved being a part of it, but couldn't manage its demands. And it was demanding. High stakes, high pressure, high fluidity. Which was why, in the whole of the Federation, there was almost no other organisation as selective in who it allowed to serve in its ranks. Valen: Having meaning and purpose in life is definitely important. From a clinical perspective, it's associated with better outcomes both mentally and physically. ::She paused, considering her next words, speaking them as kindly as she could manage.:: But I think you need to find a different purpose than Starfleet. I understand it's the root of some of your proudest moments—and nothing I'm saying takes away from those achievements—but from everything you've told me, what you really need to achieve your goals is stability. A life where you can put down roots, where you or your support network won't transfer away, and where you can build connections that will last. It was a pretty crushing thing to say, and the effect on her—slumped shoulders, drooped antenna, lone eye flicking to the side—was commensurate to that. To Mikali, "Outside Starfleet" was a kind way of saying, "There is no path for you to achieve your goals." Which, after merely two sessions of counselling, was a devastating thing to hear. For a moment Mikali said nothing. sh'Shar: But it's all I have. I've tried doing something else... anything else. I've tried civilian work, I've tried travelling, I've tried "finding my own inner peace", I've tried... everything. Anything to get stability. And if I can't get that stability, then I can never see Benna again. Hyperbole, but understandable. Right from the start it had been clear the Andorian had fixated on a return to Starfleet, no matter how useful, achievable or wise it was. Somewhere along the way, it looked as though Mikali had come to believe that a return to the fleet would heal all wounds and plaster over all the problems in her life; give her purpose and meaning, the solution to the situation with her daughter, and likely assuage the guilt she carried for her past actions. Of course, life didn't work like that. If she really wanted to fly, but was restricted to low-level maintenance duties, a Starfleet career wouldn't have the purpose and meaning she so desperately sought—more likely it would chafe and frustrate. To completely bar her from custody for six years, the courts must have had a swathe of concerns that resuming a Starfleet career wouldn't dismiss. And if she was looking to assuage guilt, it was hard to see how another round in Starfleet would manage it, if the previous years had not. Valen: Let's open this up, look at it from a wider view. What are you good at, and what do you enjoy doing? sh'Shar: I'm a decent mechanic, competent, but flying is the only thing I'm actually good at. Apart from ruining people's lives, mostly my own, and I don't think there's much of a market for that skill. ::She paused.:: The only other place I can go is crime. And apart from the fact I've tasted that life and want nothing of it, that's no life for a child. Believe me, I know. So... I have to try this. It's my last, best, only, shot. Valen: No, it isn't. ::She shook her head, the correction firm, but gentle.:: You've tried a lot of things, but always alone, without support or guidance. But your situation has changed. Right now you have help that you've never had before. Part of accepting that help is challenging things you've held true; about yourself, about your potential, about what you can achieve. The Federation is full of possibilities, Mikali. More opportunities than any one person could pursue in a lifetime, no matter what's come before. Maybe that was true, and maybe it wasn't. But she had tried a lot of different things outside of the service, and none of them had panned out. For lots of different reasons. Mikali's voice cracked. Difficult emotions started to spill out, ones that she had little idea how to handle. sh'Shar: I have done everything you've asked. I've attended sessions, I've gone to work, I made the logs you requested, I've told Benna I can't keep my promise to her just like you asked, I've listened and followed your advice no matter what it was. I told you things I never told anyone else. I've worked as hard as I can since the moment I got here. I've made some recent mistakes, yes, and I didn't handle it properly but I'm trying, I'm learning, that's what I'm here for; to learn how to not make these kinds of mistakes again. I've been compliant with all my treatments and I'm doing my best, and I just — She clasped her hands together in her lap, taking a short, shallow breath, and closing her eye. There was no need to rush the request. No need to push it, or get overwhelmed. sh'Shar: I need you to support me in this, because I don't have any other options. I was... am... relying on you a great deal to help me achieve this goal, and I know that I can't do it without you. If you say that there is no way forward for me, and that I can't either recover my career or see my kid again... I don't know what kind of life that will be for me. I've done all you ask. I've tried my hardest, and I've made errors, but I am actively trying to correct them. I'm... ::There was nothing more she could say.:: Just give me more time. I can prove to you that... that my life has meaning. That it's worth something. That I'm worth something. A little more time, that's all I need. Will you reconsider? Valen: I know this isn't easy. Have a few moments, take a few deep breaths. A few moments seemed like an impossible ask. Last session she was told to give up her promise to Benna, and this session, she was being told to give up her career, as well. Madness. It was madness. There was no way this was going to work out in her favour; giving up the promise had been almost impossible for her, but this? She almost left. Almost got up and just walked right out of the room—already dark thoughts churned in her head about what a mistake all of this was—but summoning her inner reserve of stubbornness, and knowing that if she left it would be much worse than anything she could do or say, Mikali stayed put. Took a few slow, deep breaths. Calm. Ish. Valen: All right. That's a lot to unpack, but I think we need to make some definitive statements. Much of what she had suspected had been confirmed by Mikali's tirade, that the Andorian was hanging her entire happiness and future on a fanciful, ephemeral dream. She took a breath, and then spoke evenly and slowly, giving each statement space to breathe and sink in. Valen: A Starfleet career doesn't define your worth as a person. It doesn't guarantee you'll find meaning in your day to day life. It won't grant you custody of your daughter. ::She paused, leaning forward a little.:: My concern here is you've created a belief that returning to Starfleet means everything else in your life will fall into place, and you're worthless if it doesn't happen. That's not just wrong, it's a recipe for disaster, so we need to pause and find a different plan for your future. Every part of her screamed that this was wrong. That this was a bad, harmful, potentially ruinous course of action that would bring further destruction and misery her way. Carys, however, had been right about everything so far. Everything that had a definitive answer. The effect of her un-promising Benna was still not yet known in its entirety, but most everything else had been at least okay. But this. This hurt more than the loss of her eye. More than pain. It burned in her chest, seizing her muscles, pressing her throat closed, filling her brain with a flood of fear and anxiety and raw panic. Mikali fought very hard to keep her tone even and flat. sh'Shar: I know that none of this guarantees anything. It's... it's only a chance, Carys. I'm not asking for certainty. I'm just asking for a chance to roll the dice. I know that the odds are low, I just... I just literally have no other options. Valen: You keep saying that, Mikali, but it's not true. She used her liar's brain, the part of her personality that could say things she did not feel and did not want, to exercise a hypothetical. sh'Shar: So walk me through it. I leave the course and whatever support and stability I have here, upending my whole life again, and I go back to being exactly what I was before. The courts won't listen to my appeals, because they didn't before, so Benna is just as far away as she ever was. I can't get a fulfilling job that lets me make the difference, because I couldn't get one before, and anything I try now has an additional black mark: "Enrolled in a one-year Starfleet program to fix her career, spent half of it in hospital, bombed out after two months." It seems like I'm right back where I started. Worse, even, as I'm just confirming that I'm as unreliable as I ever was. It doesn't seem like this makes me happier, or more stable, and it certainly doesn't make my life more fulfilling or impress the Andorian courts. Who will bring up me leaving and the breaking of the promise to Benna as proof I'm unreliable. Last but not least... there's now not even a remotely possible path to achieving either of my primary goals, so I have to deal with that hopeless crushing feeling too. So... why? What am I missing? The counsellor let that sit for a moment, nodding to herself as she processed everything Mikali had said. The visceral reaction—even stronger than the request to undo her promise to her daughter—doubled-down on every concern Carys had that the Andorian had made a return to Starfleet the linchpin of her self-worth. That for all she said she was only asking for a chance, her world was on the verge of collapse at the mere hint it wasn't a possibility. It wasn't a healthy focus, and another example of how the woman looked for shortcuts to her problems and struggled to make realistic, long-term goals. When the Bajoran spoke again, it was in soft, even tones. Valen: When did I tell you to leave the program? ::She raised her eyebrows, a faint, kind smile clinging to the corners of her mouth.:: ReachOut is a rehabilitation program for a person, not a career. Our goal is to help you to find a way to move past your difficulties and live a fulfilling life. sh'Shar held up a finger. sh'Shar: But you said— ::Her voice trailed off.:: Actually, I don't remember the... exact phrase... but I thought you said, I thought you meant... ::She squinted her eye closed.:: I thought you meant leaving the program. Carys shook her head. It was something they could work on, unpicking the associations she had forged with Starfleet—that the only career of worth was the fleet, that to regain access to her daughter she had to be in the uniform. Few things could be further from the truth, but the counsellor could see how she'd got there. Starfleet was full of the kind of people she wanted to be. Emotionally, Mikali had barely developed from that runaway child of twenty-five years ago, and it was easy for her to conclude that being successful in Starfleet would mean success in the rest of her life. sh'Shar: I'm just... on the verge of a major freak-out here, and I'm s-sorry. I thought you were kicking me out. ::She forced a shakey, weak smile.:: In my defense, I did just get out of long-term recovery with a brain problem. Valen: ::She smiled.:: I can give you that. sh'Shar: So... okay. If I can stick with the program, then... ::A lightbulb went on in her head. Slowly, carefully, as though scared of the implications, Mikali decided to risk it.:: This isn't like the Benna thing, is it? It's not that you want me to withdraw immediately, tonight. You just want me to have a backup option, one that I would find meaning in, if... if the Starfleet hearing goes bad. Just... another option. Right? Valen: I'm saying you should be prepared to accept that Starfleet isn't a good fit for you, and that's not a failing on your part. You're trying to recapture the past, but the problem is that while it had its good moments, ultimately it was a past that wasn't kind to you. ::She paused.:: So I think it's time to look forward and build something new, and that's what ReachOut is about. We know that most of the people who pass through our doors aren't going to return to Starfleet, so we've established partnerships with organisations and employers willing to offer a chance, who can give you the same thing you have here— Carys glanced down at her PADD. A few taps and she summoned some notes from their last session, reading from the screen. Valen: —work that's challenging but not overwhelming, where you feel like you're making a difference, your co-workers and kind and supportive and don't pity you, and where you're treated as though you have value and your opinion matters. ::She looked back up with a faint smile.:: That's how you described what you're doing now, and this isn't Starfleet. If the most important thing to you is Benna, then you should consider shifting your goal toward a civilian position on or near Andoria. It's more achievable, more likely to give you the opportunities to build the bridges you need to build, to forge the connections you need to make, and give you an environment in which you feel supported and valued. It was still difficult to process and digest. Mikali had tried so many different things in the six years spent blowing around the Alpha quadrant that she had almost given up on everything else. She'd tried so many things, all to rejection or failure, it didn't seem right. It didn't seem smart. Still, what Carys was telling her felt right. The position she was describing, this hypothetical idea, was definitely closer to what she wanted. And if someone made Mikali choose between service in Starfleet and Benna, that choice was so easy it wasn't even a choice. Starfleet was an enriching and useful thing, yes; it allowed her to fly and was the source of many good memories which she would like to make more of, but ultimately for her, at this point, her primary motivation was Benna. But still. What kind of position would cater for her like that? She'd tried a whole bunch of civilian work and it never worked out for her. sh'Shar: I actually hate Andoria. When you've spent prison time in a place, you tend to not want to go back voluntarily. Plus, that was where I relapsed, and... and I don't want to go back there unless I have to. There's nothing for me there that can't be somewhere else. For a moment, Carys considered arguing that point. The prison was but one facility on an entire planet, but more than that, her daughter was there. It was better for Benna if she didn't have to traipse around the galaxy, separated from the rest of her family and all her friends, to spend time with one parent. But perhaps she'd put Mikali through enough for one session, and that was a conversation for another day. Valen: Is there anywhere else you think you could be happy? Nothing immediately leapt out at Mikali, except that one thing, playing in the back of her mind like a mocking ghost. She began to fidget, playing her fingers against each other and squirming in her seat. sh'Shar: I... I actually, you know... I know I said I didn't, but I have a backup option. Thought. More of a vague idea really. A long shot—pretty much the queen of long shots at this point—so it's... well, actually, it's embarrassing. You'll laugh. Valen: Try me? Mikali squirmed around in her chair, a fool bringing it up. Her face scrunched up, antenna drooping, and she lowered her head, as though she'd done something wrong. As though confessing to some great sin. Her voice wobbled, becoming an awkward stammer. sh'Shar: I have, um... I mentioned that I often have these daydreams. Kinda weird f-fantasies, you know? I think... oh, what if I did this, what if I did that. Basically just, uhh, half-baked ideas that would never work. This is one of these. An... idea for something I could do that would tick all the boxes. B-b-but one. And that one is a big one, but... look it's way, way out there. More of a crazy, stupid, pointless daydream than anything else. But... this job would tick almost all the boxes. Mikali felt vaguely like a child telling Andorian Santa about their Christmas wishes, wishing for a pony and their own shuttle and to be five years old forever, when it was clear none of that could possibly be true. Embarrassment flooded her, her cheeks turning bright cyan, and her voice lost all its strength. sh'Shar: ::Softly,:: Yours. ::She let that sink in, fighting to gather her nerves..:: I... was thinking that when I graduate, I-I-I-I-I would apply to join ReachOut as a supervisor right here on Iana Station. So uhh, not you s-specifically, but you collectively. More like what Petty Officer Darweshi does. In fact exactly what he does. Basic-basically his job. Just... with a new group of people. Um. Obviously. The counsellor's expression didn't shift into amusement or ridicule. All she did was offer a smile and a nod, well-hidden relief washing beneath the surface. It was a future Carys believed was realistic and achievable for the Andorian, and more likely to offer the meaning and purpose she sought. Steering people through the rehabilitation program and using her own life experiences to help others was likely to be much more rewarding than fixing shuttles for other people to fly. A little time doing that, and hopefully she'd be able to prove to the Andorian courts she had carved out a stable, successful life for herself, one which would allow her to be the parent her daughter needed. Valen: I think that's achievable. You have the skills to offer technical coaching, you'd be able to offer peer support and mentoring, and you'd remain connected to many of the people you've formed relationships with during your time with us. ::She paused for thought.:: We could probably offer you some training in that area, toward the end of the year. What we call mental health first aid, so you could identify the signs and step in if you saw someone struggling. That would be very useful, and applicable to the program, and Carys' immediate affirmation that the position was achievable was heartening. sh'Shar: Training would be good, um, kinda expected actually. But I, um... I... I actually thought, you know, um. Why not go one step further? I can do two things. Even if I do get my wings back, through some miracle, I'd... I'd like to do at least one run-through with the program first, before I even go back. Or possibly even an ongoing year-on, year-off with a potential eventual posting, so that I could run programs here. It would be t-too good to be true. I could fly, make new good, positive memories, and I could also show the viability of the program and encourage others to seek help. Stability, growth, making a difference. A win-win-win. That would be the dream. And... and I have dreams. ::She laughed haltingly.:: Mikali sh'Shar, poster child for positive change. I told you it was stupid, right? Valen: It's not stupid. ::She offered the Andorian a smile.:: Dreams are what plans and accomplishments are born from, we just have to refine them into something workable. That was a good motto. Dreams become plans become actions become accomplishments. A nice, linear progression. But it would need to be workable. Workable... Mikali let that word play over in her head. Workable. What would be workable... how could she make this more than a silly dream, and take that next step? Plan. sh'Shar: Okay. What would you say my next step should be? Valen: I'd say to let it percolate and think about the practicalities as well as the ideals. With that kind of set-up, you'd be in a constant flux when it comes to colleagues and your responsibilities. The temptation to let real connections slide and return to old habits of treating people poorly would be very strong—after all, they might not be there when you next return, so why does it matter? I suspect you'd find it very difficult to establish any stability in your life, and the family courts might view it as you being unable to commit. It was going to be a problem. Definitely. But it was the least-bad idea she had, and it didn't make Carys immediately burst into raucous laughter. sh'Shar: I'll think on it then. ::She took a shallow, nervous breath.:: Thank you for supporting me in this, Carys. I really appreciate it. I'll... use "good judgement" when I think it through. Valen: Just think it through, don't put pressure on yourself. You could even talk to One-Joke, get his point of view as someone whose role you'd like to take on. That would be a good idea. The idea of talking to One-Joke made her nervous, especially about something she was still convinced was a silly dream, but it was a wise idea. sh'Shar: I... I might hold off on that for a bit, but I will. Eventually. Valen: There's no rush, it's early days. It was early days. There was so much of the program to go, so much work to do... For the second time in two sessions, Mikali wiped away gathering moisture under her eye. The place where the other one was felt weird too, but with no actual eye left, it merely... itched. But unlike the first time, there was a smile, too. sh'Shar: Thank you. Um. This didn't go how I expected it to go, but... I feel good. Valen: I'm glad. I said last session it's not unusual to leave feeling battered and that's okay. ::A wry smile caught on her lips.:: But it is nice when someone leaves feeling hopeful. Sad hopeful. Kind of like finally getting a diagnosis for a disease that had slowly been rotting away at you for years. It felt bad, but it felt good, too. It was better to know. sh'Shar: Okay. Um. Well... I think I should probably get going. I'll keep making my logs, and One-Joke has me on light duties until I'm ready to work again, and in that time I have to make a new friend or find a new hobby. Which is going to be... interesting. And I gotta schedule some surgery for a new eye, so I have a lot to keep me busy. Including one other thing Mikali didn't mention. Talking to Luna. It would have to wait until her new eye was installed, but that was a task Mikali had been storing away in her mind for a long time. Too long. Valen: Well, you're in a good place to have the surgery. Palanon has some excellent hospitals and doctors. She smiled slightly. The Tyrellians had been Federation members for almost as long as the Federation had existed, and they had reaped the rewards. Palanon was as advanced as any core Federation world, not to mention the fact the Tyrellian system was the Starfleet headquarters for the sector. It was here any severely injured personnel would rehabilitate, with all the interventions, treatments and support they could need, including neural prostheses like Mikali's eye. Valen: As for the rest, you might want to look into some of the clubs and societies on the station? Perhaps something there will catch your eye. Eye, singular. Mikali smirked to herself at the subtle dig—unintentional though it was—but then her expression relaxed as she digested that idea, nodding thoughtfully. sh’Shar: I think I’ll look into them. Mikali pushed herself up off the couch, folding her hands behind her back. Carys followed suit, uncrossing her legs and rising to her feet. sh'Shar: Thanks again for seeing me, and um. Same time next fortnight? Valen: I'll see you then. And as always, we're here if you need us in the meantime. Mikali left, thoughts churning in her head. Clubs and societies, huh? fin -- Mikali sh'Shar Civilian ReachOut Project O238704AT0 & Commander Valen Carys Anthropologist and Clinical Psychologist USS Gorkon T238401QR0
  23. I really enjoyed reading this little side story, and I hope we see more of Dehner Base in the future! ----- ((Shuttlecraft M'Dank, Tyrellian System)) Jona ch’Ranni was dead bored. There was no other way to express the intensity of what he felt sitting in the pilot’s chair of the Type 2 shuttlecraft. An empty starfield was splashed across the [...]pit windows. Dabbles of starlight - so often the source of poetry for anonymous writers spread among countless worlds – taunted the normally good-natured Andorian. It wasn’t the stars at fault themselves. In fact, he hadn’t met a star he didn’t like. Except for Betelgeuse - it was a jerk. It was the tedious and menial work of waiting for a rendezvous with a supply freighter that had Jona on the wrong end of the joviality wagon. For the hundredth time, his thin cornflower-blue fingers tapped out the activation sequence on the control panel that would initiate a refresh of the sensor data. Jona sighed heavily and wondered who he had angered on the ship to pull such an assignment. No doubt the rest of his shipmates were laughing and clinking glasses with each other on the beach. They would regale him with the exquisite foods and picturesque scenery he had missed out on. ch'Ranni: Well, they can just stow it. The lanky Andorian stretched his arms above his head, working the kinks from his lower back and repositioning his frame in the seat. He ran his hands down his face, rubbing his palms into his tired eyes and tried to shake the weariness from his brain. He tapped the key sequence on the panel again – for the hundred and first time – and the gods answered his unspoken prayers. A ship. ch'Ranni: Computer, put the approaching vessel on screen. The computer focused on a sleek Bolian freighter that exited warp, leaving a trail of luminescent super-excited particles in its wake. It bore down on the tiny shuttle like an unsuspecting insect. Jona came from a race of aliens that counted insects among their evolutionary progenitors, and so, he found the analogy a little on the nose. Nevertheless, the arrival was expected … even if a bit delayed. ch'Ranni: Shuttlecraft M'Dank to Bolian freighter. Welcome. Lieutenant ch’Ranni, here. Ready to receive the supplies. With any luck, Jona could be on his way back to the ship within the hour. He might even make it back in time for the springball tournament scheduled for 1800 hours. A small lopsided grin crossed his face as things suddenly didn’t seem so bad. The viewscreen activated and the face on the screen made his heart leap into his throat. The azure skin and pale, curly locks of the woman were etched in his memory. It had been years since he had last seen her. Time had been kind to her and now she was more beautiful than even his rose-colored memory allowed. The scientist with the impish smile that he had fallen head over heels for at Dehner Base was the last person he expected to see again – especially with how they had ended things. zh'Lev: Hello, Jona. It’s good to see you. ch'Ranni: Vexa. The one word was all he could croak out before the air left his lungs with the cheap shot that reality delivered to his gut. After a few seconds Jona realized that he was not breathing and consciously inhaled again. What would it look like if he fainted at the sight of his former girlfriend? ch'Ranni: Why are you here? Apparently, he was now able to form complete sentences, which was a marked improvement. The Andorian girl sat back in her chair, the curls of snow white hair framing her face and bouncing in response to her movement. Her ice blue eyes seemed to search the screen, piercing straight through his shields and searing the hull of his heart. Her antennae bobbed forward as her voice took on a pleading tone. zh'Lev: Jojo, I need your help. ch'Ranni: Of course, what can I do? The words were spoken without hesitation. Both knew that Jona would be unable to refuse whatever she asked. When they had parted ways, it was as if his heart had been shredded by a dull knife. After his reassignment far from the Sagittarius Reach, they had tried for months in a vain attempt to make things work. But they had drifted apart in the ocean of time and space. At the end, he had made a renewed attempt to solidify their relationship only to find that she had moved on. Jona’s face flushed a darker shade of blue as the pent-up feelings came crashing back on him. He truly missed her and now would do whatever she required, if only to get her back into his life in some small way. His heart swelled as he realized she had tracked him across the quadrant. It could mean only that she had realized the error of her ways. They could regain what they had lost and rekindle the spark they had shared together. zh'Lev: I need you to kill someone.
  24. Another great JP, this time from Lox and Fortune! They're just so goddamn sweet, like eating a stick of fairy floss and following it down with a 4L bottle of soda. Enjoy! ----- ((Holosuite 2, Embassy Garden Hotel, Yarista, Palanon, Tyrellion system)) A gentle summer-night breeze ruffled the curtains by the open veranda, bringing with it that scent of warm rain that follows a storm. Inside the room was dark and intimate. Rows of plush red velvet chairs facing a flat screen which took up one entire wall. In the front row, chairs had been supplanted by a single large comfy sofa in the same velvet. Corliss Fortune was already curled up amidst the cushions as Lox joined her, giant cartons of toasty popcorn fresh from the replicator balanced on a tray in one hand. Loxley: Snacks? I’m not exactly a popcorn fan but some things are traditional. Fortune: Now, popcorn is a new one to me. ::but the curling plumes of smoke had caught her interest, and the warmth of the box radiating towards her hands felt nice.:: What’s it like? Loxley: It basically has the texture of cardboard. But if you cover it in salt and butter, it tastes like salty butter and cardboard. Fortune: Mm, sounds rather unappetizing, but people like it, yes? So it has to be delicious. Lox flopped down on the oversized sofa and tucked one leg under him, leaning his shoulder against hers. He gestured to the flat screen with his popcorn box. Corliss took one as well, curling her body around it to inhale the warmth that was pulsing from it. Loxley: So, what are we watching? Roman Holiday? Maltese Falcon? Something scary? Fortune: I’ve heard great things about Roman Holiday, and something called Bringing Up Baby. Loxley: I know the name of that one but not much else. My vintage Earth film knowledge comes from my mother. Is it just about child rearing? Fortune: Rather that the Baby in question is a large Terran Leopard. I’m not certain how one raises such a creature, however. Are they like Toto? Loxley: As in the little dog from Wizard of Oz? Not so much, no. ::he smiled:: Dorothy would have had a much easier time of things in Toto had been a leopard. Fortune: Could watch one after another, ‘s not like we don’t have time. ::she playfully nudged her leg against his, settling back with their shoulders touching once more.:: Could nearly watch the world away in how warm and cozy it is in here, hm? Loxley: Now that sounds like an excellent plan to me, Lieutenant Fortune. And, yeah, I like this room. I might ask for a copy of the holoprogram. Fortune: Sounds like a plan to me! The already dim lights turned a little dimmer still and the screen lit up with an eerie glow in the gloom. A moment later and grainy black and white images of Rome, four hundred years ago, cast a flickering light around the room. Lox frowned briefly at the actress onscreen - she looked familiar somehow. He shrugged, probably just one of those things. Loxley: Recovered from your athletic endeavors yet? Fortune: Slowly but steadily, I can still feel a little knot in my back, I swear. Loxley: Well, if there’s anything I need to rub better, let me know. ::he waggled his pointed eyebrows suggestively in a way only Vulcans could. Or at least half-Vulcans. A full Vulcan probably wouldn’t waggle anything suggestively if it could be avoided.:: Fortune: ::she cracked up in a laugh, gently nudging him with a bright grin.:: I may very well take you up on that, so long as you let me give back just the same. Loxley: Seems fair. Fortune: I know a few interesting hand massages from an old roommate. She tended to use a stylus to write upon a PADD. I do applaud her efforts, but she’d had to get a brace from writing so much later on. ::she wiggled her own hands in a jazzy manner.:: She let me borrow the paper showing how to do the massages so we could learn, no achy wrists! Loxley: Stylus? Wow, old school. I applaud her efforts. That said, some instructions would be useful. My medical education doesn’t really extend much past the basics of physiotherapy. Which basically means I can prescribe exercises for patients to ignore. Fortune: There’s something to be said for the old school, and I’m sure I can find the old file to send to you, eh? ::the movie caught her attention and she gasped, squirming closer and crossing her legs up into the seat.:: Oooh look at that! The black and white movie created stark shadows as Loxley turned to look at Corliss. Her face was half in shadow, half in light. The popcorn carton lay forgotten next to him as he slipped an arm around her shoulders and kissed her gently on the forehead. She blinked, giving him a confused smile. Loxley: Thank you. For being you. Fortune: Hm? You’re welcome? ::she chuckled, pecking a kiss to his nose in return.:: What’s all this about then? Loxley: I mean… I don’t know what it is exactly, but when I’m around you I just feel so… comfortable? That’s the best word I can think of. I don’t know if it’s an empathic thing or what. Fortune: Hmm, could be. Could be an us thing too?
  25. Another bit of excellent writing, by our CO, our FO, and... well, now, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Congratulations as appropriate! -- ((Sto’Vo’Kor, Crew Lounge, Deck 9)) They waged wars on a field of green; strategy devised, and tactics enacted, put to the test on the lush verdure lacking in blooms. Trajectory and geometry were the currency of the day; mathematical statistics and probability winning out over brute force. Armed warriors stood on either side, the pitched battle between made with long wooden weapons — gladiators in the arena — without the cheer from a spectating crowd… ...As it was shore leave, and the lounge was blissfully bereft of patrons. The dull thunk of a striped pool ball hit the felt boundary and disappeared down into the corner pocket. Triumphant smile notwithstanding, Jo stood up from her shot and leaned on the cue, beer bottle lifted with some measure of victory, finger pointed from around it toward the battlefield between the blonde and the hazel-eyed woman opposite. Marshall: That’s two. You’ve got to admit, I’m getting better. And watched as a rebounding ball from the shot knocked the white into the centre pocket. Marshall: Kinda. Eyebrows raised, Quinn lifted her gaze from the inexorable path of the cue ball into the pocket. She grinned, raising her palm parallel to the ground, and rocked it from side-to-side with a chuckle. Out of uniform, in worn jeans and a loose t-shirt, she didn't look the prim and proper Admiral that she usually was — and, at times like this, that was how she liked it. Reynolds: Kinda. Even as the smile refused to dissipate any, Jo’s tongue lodged in her cheek and a long sigh deflated her chest. Marshall: One day, Quinn. One day. Beer bottle handy, Jo took a swig and glanced across the open expanse of the crew lounge to where their Chief of Security and Tactical would make her appearance from. Possibly an odd request to meet the two in the lounge, but it was a far sight better than being holed up in Quinn’s Ready Room for the duration of all the comings and goings expected. She watched the Admiral setup for the next shot through a swig of beer. Marshall: Do you think she thought you were pulling her leg? Reynolds: I hope not. ::The crack of resin snapped through the air as the white collided with another ball, sinking it with barely any thought at all.:: Though perhaps "come and play ball" isn't the more obvious of invitations. Marshall: What can I say, you’re a subtle creature. Quinn chuckled in reply, shooting a sly twist of a grin toward Jo with equal precision to her pool playing. Trying not to smile and failing quite aptly, Jo heard the doors swish open and looked over to see the young Security Chief in all her glory entering the wilds of the crew lounge. Lifting her beer bottle up to catch her attention, Jo beckoned her over. Marshall: Sami! Over here! Sto’Vo’Kor, a familiar place, frequently visited the last two years and yet, for obvious reasons, nerves were rushing through her body as she stepped through the doors this time. Samira wore black jeans, and a light grey t-shirt, fingerless gloves, matching color with the shirt, hidden in her back pocket. Casual clothes as requested in the invitation. Ok, this was just a game of pool. Maybe she should have practiced a bit more, she couldn’t remember the last time she had played a game. Wasn’t it with Blackbird while he was on the ship? She took a deep breath as she stepped through the doors. Too quiet, everyone was down on the station or on Palanon. Or not that quiet when she heard the recognisable voice of the First Officer calling her. She walked over to the pool table, plucking a bit of grey fur away from her shoulder, nodding in greeting as she arrived. Neathler: Sir, Jo. ::She quickly glanced at the different coloured and striped balls on the table. :: Who’s winning? Probably an unnecessary question, but it was the first thing that came to mind. Quinn smiled, one hand on her hip, leaning on her pool cue. As much as she preferred formality, not one for allowing her officers to refer to her casually on duty, at times like this it felt incongruous. Reynolds: We're off duty, Sami. You can call me Quinn. Quinn instead of sir. That would take getting some used to and not exactly the way she was raised. Still, it was only for the duration of this game; she figured for now. Marshall: And I wouldn’t say “winning” so much as “succumbing to my eventual slaughter”. Albeit a little slower than last time. You’re losing your touch, Reynolds. ::A cheeky grin sprouted as Jo plucked her beer bottle from the side rail and she turned the grin to Sami.:: How are you at the old game? Come prepared to be my saviour? Neathler: I’m afraid, I’m a bit rusty, I haven’t played in a while. ::She looked at the setup, a hand going through her short hair.:: And I admit, I’m more familiar with snooker than eightball. Do you pot the balls by number? Marshall: Some players do. ::She took a swig from the bottle.:: But I tend to pot whatever I can before Quinn turns this into a massacre. Reynolds: I feel I should point out she takes her defeat with good grace because she knows she'll be murdering me at springball tomorrow. Samira raised an eyebrow. So that’s what was happening when the Commanding and First officers held meetings? Either playing pool or springball? Still, it was good to see them both taking some time off for themselves, although she still was wondering what she was doing here herself. Neathler: Got to keep the score even somehow. Maybe I should just observe and learn from the best. And in the meantime come up with a strategy to not be slaughtered instead, Samira thought as she already studied the position on the pool table, thinking of which shot she’d try first. Quinn glanced toward Jo, a sly twinkle in hazel eyes, and then looked back toward the brunette. Reynolds: Maybe it's time to step up. Step up as in not observing? Right, of course. Her eyes still on the game, unaware of the interaction between the other two, Samira walked around the table, looking at the game from a different angle. What was she thinking, of course the Admiral would want to see how well she played? What was the point of inviting someone to a game of pool, if that someone just observed? At the corner of the table she took a step back, looking up at the others. Neathler: In that case, I’d pot the three first, with a gentle shot. That would leave the cue ball at the correct position to go after the eight. Picking up the tail ends of Quinn’s grin, Jo chuckled through a swig from the beer bottle, and held out the pool cue to her commander counterpart to take. The fun was always in the opportunity to kick back together without that mantle of duty weighing down the shoulders like a backpack of bricks; throw off the shackles of command and enjoy easy conversation through the guise of playing a game. Marshall: I think we have a contender. How about it, Sami? Give Quinn a run for her credits.
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