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  1. I am enjoying @Ikaia Wong’s journey to become a more confident leader, and the thought of multiple Wongs makes me giggle. ((Dreamscape)) Ikaia glanced around him, rubbing his eyes. He had been trying to decide which flu strain he should vaccinate against in the upcoming flu season. His bets were on either Levodian flu or Kamaraazite flu. He went over the statistics provided to him by Starfleet Medical. It looked to him that it might be Levodian. This wasn’t great. But the duration of the flu was shorter in most humanoids. But it didn’t make it any less contagious. He took a moment to lean back in his chair and just look up at the ceiling. By all appearances, he was in the CMO’s office again. It felt normal. Like home. This was great. This was fantastic. This was too good to be true. At that moment, Ikaia heard a knock on the door. He sat up and brushed himself off. Wong: Come in! The door opened and he saw… exactly TWO different versions of himself. One of them is sporting engineering gold with a wonderful beard. He also had a container of popcorn in his hands. The other was wearing command red with his hair down and…. Did he have coconuts shoved down his shirt?! Ikaia blinked a few times as both Klingons sat down. Wong: Ah! Uh! Greetings! How may I help you today? Gold-Wong: Hello, Lieutenant. It’s not so much as how you can help us…. Red-Wong: ….It's more like how we can help you. Wong: Uh okay. How so--- I’m sorry. Those coconuts are really distracting. Gold-Wong: See? Told you they’d distract him! Red-Wong: He shouldn’t be looking! Gold-Wong: Just ditch them. He already knows who you’re representing anyways! The Wong clad in red just sighed as he removed the coconuts from his shirt. But he did so with an eye roll. Ikaia gave a curious head tilt at his duplicates. They were clearly representing Rahman and Ukinix respectively. In a rare opportunity, he decided to ask a question he wouldn’t ordinarily ask! Wong: Ah! Quick question if you really don’t mind - Is Commander Ukinix’s beard lucky? Does he rub it for luck or something? Gold-Wong: Yes and yes. Every morning. Wong: ::Snaps his fingers:: Knew it! ::A beat:: Er… sorry. Please continue. Red-Wong: Okay. So we know you’ve been following Rahman’s and Ukinix’s advice as well as everything you’ve learned from your studies. Gold-Wong: You may not be thinking the words. But we have heard it - What would Rahman do? What would Ukinix do? What would Sampi do? The Wong in engineering gold tried to toss a piece of popcorn into the air to try to catch it. Instead, it rebounded off the side of his mouth and onto the floor. Wong: I learned a lot from them. Rahman, Ukinix, Toliver, Blake, Sampi… they’ve all taught me so much about leadership and myself. I’ve been working hard. Gold-Wong: In asking what everyone else would do, you also need to keep asking what you would do. You’ve learned so much from everyone else. But who are you as a leader? A tiny bit of dust fell on Ikaia's desk. He looked up and saw no reason for the dust. It had almost distracted him from the question. He was thinking about it. His mind searched for what the answer was. Wong: I….. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ve never really thought about it before. I’ve been busy applying theories and everything I learned. Some days, I’m not sure I’m even doing this right. There are times I second guess myself. Days I sometimes wonder if I made the right choice. Red-Wong: You’re going to need to figure it out. Everyone in the mine is counting on you. Wong: I know, I know! I just…. Need to think. A touch of rock dust fell onto Ikaia’s desk. Red-Wong: You may want to consider waking up. You fell asleep while meditating again. You’re definitely drooling a little. There was more dust falling onto the desk followed up by rocks. Ikaia looked up and an expression of absolute horror crossed his face as he could see a large boulder about to come straight down on him---- ((Deep within Russell River Mines)) ----Ikaia woke up suddenly with a loud gasp. His hand flew up to his chest and his breathing heavy. He quickly glances up at the roof of the mine and nothing. No boulder threatening to smash him. Nothing. For the moment, Ikaia was safe. Wong: ::A relieved sigh:: It’s just a dream…. He gave himself a moment or two to calm down as he reached up and touched his face. Sure enough, there was a touch of drool at the corner of his mouth. That was unbecoming. He wiped himself off with the back of his hand and picked up the SIMs beacon he had been using as a makeshift meditation candle. Although, he did have it off just to save power. Ikaia had also picked up the PADD with his playlist on it. Something that would have helped him meditate. Apparently, he had nodded off while listening to it. Ikaia paused for a moment. He had the feeling someone had been watching him. S’Ten: Response. Wong: Ah! Mister S’Ten! Sorry! I wasn’t expecting you. S’Ten: Response. Wong: Well, it’s a Vulcan technique. I went to the Academy with quite a few of them and well, I picked up a few things along the way. S’Ten: Response. Wong: How are you feeling? S’Ten: Response. Wong: Ah. So that’s what brought you by? S’Ten: Response Lieutenant JG Ikaia Wong Physician Assistant USS Veritas V239711IW0
  2. 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
  3. One of the best worst things that ever happened to me on SB118 is two awesome writers plotting STUFF! behind my back without me having a clue about it and making me laugh out loud with it. @Meidra Sirinand @Ikaia Wong you guys are the worst... Keep up the good work. ((Ikaia’s Quarters - Room 03-1122 - USS Veritas - 03:00 in The Shoals)) Ikaia had long since fallen asleep in his quarters. Softly snoring, he had his blankets pulled over his head leaving his bare feet exposed. His dreams, however, were interrupted by the sound of a call on his PADD. He was barely conscious as he woke up with a snort. He was still feeling groggy when he sat there for a moment questioning if he was really being called for something. It could be that someone needed him in sickbay. Maybe? His arm lazily popped out from under the pile of blankets as he fumbled blindly for his PADD. He groaned as he tried to feel for it. His hand bumped around his nightstand until he finally felt the PADD. He ended up sliding his whole hand down the screen in order to try to answer the call. What he failed to account for was that he had turned on the camera to his PADD. So anyone answering would be greeted with a pile of blankets. Ikaia allowed his arm to dangle off the side of the bed. Wong: ::Yawns:: Aloha…. This is Lieutenant Junior Grade Ikaia Wong…. How… how can I help you….? He sounded sluggish and tired. Times like these, he was a little useless without coffee. Sirin: Greetings, Lieutenant Wong. Have I disturbed you? Meidra had wandered Resolution’s corridors for the last hour, trying to come up with a suitable gift for her cousin. Alieth had been looking forward to a particular type of race where she would cobble together various bits of chaos and metal to get an engine ready to get her across a great expanse of land in as little time possible. She remembered Lt Wong had sent Alieth a certain type of chocolate that Meidra believed might be a good distraction. Because Aleith was becoming insufferable. Wong: Huh….? That wasn’t sickbay. He lifted himself up. The blanket still covered his head as he looked at the screen. Wong: Heeey. I remember you... How are you…? Sirin: I am well, thank you. Do you remember me? He remembers that face! This was one of the teal shirts he met at the Medical Officers Support Group (MOSG) meeting. Meidra’s eyebrow raised in amusement as he sat up, bleary eyed like a small child. Sirin: You’re looking well rested. It dawned on him. He had his camera on. Meaning that Lieutenant Sirin had a really good look at him right now. Ikaia sheepishly pulled the blanket off his head and tried to pull his hair back. That went about as well as it could for someone who still felt uncoordinated. His hair was still a mess. Wong: Sorry you had to see that! Meidra waved a hand dismissively at the camera. She’d seen far worse. Sirin: I’ve seen Genkos before his first coffee. You’re fine. I need a favor. Well he definitely didn't have his first cup of coffee either. That wouldn't be for a while yet! Ikaia tried rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Wong: A favour? I don't mind helping! ::yawns:: What's the….. favour? Sirin: First, I would like to thank you for getting my cousin addicted to those little balls of decadence. She’s been on a quest to find some, but her canine may have eaten the tag showing where you acquired them. I need the chocolate. Wong: Oh! Ha ha…. You're welcome! Yeah. I picked them up on Esperance. I think the store was called The Chocolate Tribble. Thankfully, they didn't actually have tribbles there. Otherwise, I don't think I could safely step inside unaccosted. Meidra had the brief memory of Tribbles attacking a certain fanciers’ event on Risa not that long ago and shuddered. She hoped that her former pet, Roc, was doing well traveling the universe with an evil shape shifting alien from another dimension. She also wondered when her life would start making sense. Sirin: ::pause:: I would hope that you didn’t get her addicted to eating Tribbles. She thinks the chocolate was extremely delicious. Wong: She does? That's fantastic! I picked out the dark chocolate cinnamon ones for her last time. They're amazing! But pretty diabolical for a Vulcan. Meidra laughed, and could see why her krei enjoyed this Klingon’s company. Alieth was getting grumpy, for those people who knew her well, and Meidra was getting tired of the random messages sent to her PADD at all hours such as, “Why do ensigns insist on breathing near me?” and “How much do I really need this job?” She sighed heavily, staring into the camera, and hopefully into his soul. She was desperate. She repeated the only thing that made sense right now. Sirin: I need the chocolate. Wong: I think I picked up two extra boxes just in case they got lost on transport. You never know with The Shoals! Anyways, I could send you the other two boxes if you'd like? The counselor’s face grew almost giddy with excitement. She leaned in and looked right into his soul with the intensity of a cousin who had reached her limit. Sirin: Send them directly to her, for the sake of my sanity. Do you have any idea how disagreeable that hobgoblin can get when she’s found a new source of addiction? The random messages, the threats of her taking the Thor into the chocolate nebula to track down cocoa? She is seriously making me want to throw a box of candy at her and run for my life! ::takes deep breath:: I apologize, Lieutenant, please send them if it is convenient. Wong: It's okay! I don't mind parting with them. Sirin: Thank you, if you could be certain to make the boxes Cheesecake proof, that would be delightful. I told her that she could get chocolate anywhere, but she insists that these particular candies have given her a greater insight into her state of being. In Alieth speak, this means she was, as the humans say, wasted. She refrained from her views on naming animals after food, and simply took a quick gulp from her ever present flask. Seriously, keeping your cousin sane and out of prison for chocolate deprivation was a full time job. Wong: But I have to ask - what's the occasion? Sirin: ::totally serious:: My not killing her. Wong: That’s a uh… good enough occasion. Sirin: ::shrugging:: She would do the same for me. Wong: Back at the Academy, I had to hide my jars of chocolate hazelnut spread if she came over to study. If I didn’t, I’d definitely have discovered them missing after she left. I think she once took one of my half eaten jars when I wasn’t paying attention. Meidra bit back a laugh, Alieth made no secret of her fondness for anything sweet. Sirin: Were you still eating from it at the time? Wong: Uh hey! How about we leave my eating habits out of this? As for Alieth….You know somehow, I don’t think that would have mattered to her. Sirin: As an infant, she once reached into a relative’s mouth for a piece of fruit and started eating it. Then realized it was not candy and spat it back at our cousin. ::fondly:: Even then, she had a bit of stubbornness to her. Wong: I can see there’s been at least some things that haven’t changed since our Academy days! Ha! But how has she been doing these days? Sirin: Pouting that she cannot race, I mean - socialize, with her friends due to work. She needs a vacation, but her shore leaves often turn out to be more chaotic than her missions. ::coughs lightly:: I mean, the ones she spends with me, but I digress. ::sits up and smiles brightly:: She is well, thank you for your inquiry. Meidra looked at her chronometer, she had a new junior counselor to meet. She sighed and looked at the Klingon again in thanks. Sirin: On behalf of my sanity, I thank you again, Lieutenant. I hope that we can one day meet in person and share more stories of my delightful Krei, and the lengths I will go through to keep her from going through withdrawal from sucrose. Lt Meidra Sirin Counseling Officer USS Resolution R239707MS0 + Lieutenant JG Ikaia Wong Physician Assistant USS Veritas V239711IW0
  4. ((Saucer Hull, USS Veritas - Early Morning, Day of Departure from Kidman I)) Roshanara stepped back out onto the hull and walked around the bridge module, although this time she didn’t have to walk quite so far to the ship’s name and registry. Sitting on top of the saucer with her back leaned up against the front of the deck 1 dome was Starfleet’s newest commander, Blake. The captain walked over and took a moment to look out towards where Blake was staring. The morning sun was just beginning to dawn. Rahman: You’re up early. Blake: Used to live by the mantra, “if there’s no sun, it’s not morning.” Space kind of blows that out of the water. Her captain chuckled at the thought. Rahman: I have a groggy Rodulan back in my quarters and under the covers who’d vehemently disagree. The Brekkazoid huffed in agreement, crossing her arms. Blake: So what brings you up here? Getting a last look before you captain the take-off? Rahman: Hmmmph. I was about to ask you the same thing. Roshanara decided to take a seat next to her XO. She took another moment to savor the view, leaning back with her palms against the hull. The metal was actually a bit warm to the touch thanks to Kidman’s hotter climate. It was comforting, as if the two women were sitting on top of a living creature. The Kriosian spoke up again. Rahman: I can see why you like it out here. The XO rubbed her hands together, arms and legs free of long sleeves and pant-legs respectively. Today, Blake was comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts -- a rare sight to see on the Brekkazoid so unsuited to regular human climates. Bupirninyirring afforded her that which wasn’t always offered on a starship. Blake: I don’t have to rug up as much. ::she smiled:: A bit of freedom, really. Rahman: I can imagine. Growing up on Earth in Lahore, it took me a while to get used to the cooler temperatures of Beta Ursae Minor II. This place reminds me a little bit of home. Silence crept between them on a light breeze. The orange hue of sunrise stained the morning sky. The cloudless blue was atypical of the planet. It indicated a dry heat to set in soon -- often a cause for complaints by some. Not necessarily by the Brekkian-born Blake. It was something Sabor, too, would have enjoyed. Blake: Can I ask a dumb question? Rahman: Only if you’re okay with a dumb answer. Blake: Is it too late to ask you to take it back? Roshanara turned towards her Number One, scrunching her nose. Rahman: Take what back? Blake responded with a piercing side-glance. Rahman: ::shaking head:: You know, Blake, for a woman many would describe as fearless, I’m always surprised what *does* scare you. Blake glanced away, back to Kidman I’s bushland. ‘Fearless’ was certainly a descriptor -- maybe sometimes a valid one, but in the case of her personal ‘growth’... she disagreed with the assessment. Blake: I recognise you, and others, believe I’m ready for this. I appreciate it. But what I’m not ready for… is the necessity of my taking command. When you’re captain, that’s a safety net. I can fall back and execute your word, no problem -- that's my job, and always has been. But now, there’s the possibility I could be called elsewhere. Roshanara corrected her. Rahman: That was *always* a possibility. We’re Starfleet officers. We go where we’re needed. The words were familiar. She was told in no uncertain terms that this was the way things were when Veritas underwent its staff shift, when her first group of friends were dispersed across the region to make way for the staff that built the bones of this particular senior staff. Blake: “Transfers are part of the career. You don't like it, now is the time to throw in your hat.” It was something Brandon Cormac had told her almost three years ago when she was struggling with her place on the ship. Cormac had been Veritas’ Special Operations Officer before he was transferred to the ill-fated Outpost 3 during the staff reshuffle. He was the sole survivor of a pirate attack on the station. Starfleet failed to send someone out to assist, word only travelling between friends that something was amiss. Once rescued, he promptly quit the service and moved over to the Colonial Coalition Marshals. He now works planetside, as a marshal on Shadow’s Edge, decidedly happier and in a long-distance relationship with fellow ex-crewmember Elis Nacubaq. Rahman: ::nods:: “Pack light, pack often.” It was a familiar mantra she’d shared with Addison MacKenzie when the doctor and Teller took up the opportunities that had opened on the Thor earlier this year. Rahman: But still, you should put to rest your worries. Outside of wartime and a major crisis, Starfleet isn’t in the habit of just plucking random names across the fleet to put into the captain’s chair. I imagine you’ll start getting offers of your own command in due time once the Admiralty thinks you’re ready, but you could always decline. Eventually, they’ll stop asking -- which I guess depending on whatever your ambitions are, could be a good or bad thing. Blake: That’s the thing. I don’t really have ambition for the ‘service’. Rahman: That’s okay. We all have our own reasons for being here. Roshanara watched her XO’s eyes closely. Rahman: Whether they’re fresh-faced ensigns straight from the Academy or veteran officers trying to move up to the ranks, I usually know or find out quickly what drives them to be here. I realize now after all this time with you by my side, I’ve never asked *you* why you’re in Starfleet. She continued to observe Blake as the Brekkazoid considered the question. It felt like one of those “It all started…” moments Blake couldn’t really answer. For all intents and purposes, Blake’s life truly began less than a decade ago. In a previous lifetime, Sky Blake had been part of Starfleet. Blake today didn’t know how, nor why she had joined. ((Flashback -- Ornara -- 239105)) Caronx: Are you alright, stranger? The Brekkazoid’s chest was shuddering as her body shivered. She'd been here, standing at this curb, for over an hour now. She didn't not turn to look at the one approaching, but her eyes made the effort to at least try and see what they looked like. The woman approaching was an Ornaran, in a uniform of some kind. Security, maybe. They had no weapon to speak of -- a far cry from the disastrous Brekkian security she’d lost herself to over the last three days. The officer continued to approach Sky carefully, non-threateningly, which she would have laughed at had she not been in a somewhat catatonic state. Caronx: I'm Officer Caronx. Someone has told me that you may need assistance. Can I locate someone for you? That was it. What composure she'd retained for the short journey here had been truly and utterly lost. Skyleena Blake fell to her knees, heaving sobs and blinded by her own tears. The Ornaran -- Officer Caronx -- had forgone slowly approaching her and threw her arms around Sky's shoulders as the blond Brekkian Betazoid simply cried into the street. ((End flashback)) Blake today knows she rejoined Starfleet based on a series of fortunate events. She’d abandoned life and responsibilities on Brekka to live anonymously on Ornara -- a result of a broken psyche and loss of a loved one. There, she met a local police officer that found her necessary assistance. Blake joined a police task force to combat felicium in the region. And then a ridiculous Starfleet officer found her, with the intention to bring her “back” to Starfleet. Nevermind that Blake knew next to nothing about Starfleet, but Veritas needed assistance with the felicium problem in the area, and Blake, apparently being the only available Brekkian that had joined Starfleet, was their best bet. Carrero gave her a provisional rank of Lieutenant Commander (the rank she had originally held prior to retirement the first time). Things just… spiralled from there. That was all well and good. The “how” was fairly self-explanatory, if a little convoluted, but it was there. The “why” was a little harder to explain. Blake: I could’ve left when we finished up with felicium. Rahman: But you didn’t. Blake: No. I didn’t. I was given a reason to get up in the morning -- it continues to give me a purpose. A book to follow. Rahman: That’s a perfectly good reason. One that Roshanara related to well. She’d struggled with her own sense of purpose for a bit while she had been on medical leave after her accident on the Tempest fourteen years ago. A Medusan researcher who’d chosen to go by the name Frankenstein helped get her back on track while she recovered on Medical Starbase 253. Blake: Thing is, though… I don’t actually like being on starships. Roshanara couldn’t help it. She let out a snort. Rahman: So you’re a masochist then? ::She shrugged her shoulders.:: That would explain a lot. The two shared a laugh. Blake shook her head a little. Blake: It’s very claustrophobic. I get sick all the time because the temperature is too cold, which means I’m confined to my spaces for most of the time. And I just… She glanced away for a moment. Blake: When we were at the border, and we were going up against those Orion ships while trying to push that damn station back over while trying not to draw Tholian attention… At the end of the day, Veritas is a tin can in space. And I was in charge of it, and its two-hundred and twenty crew. And while I believe I did the best I could have done under the circumstances… it’s not a position I want to be in again. Her captain took her own moment to consider everything she’d said. Rahman: I think any starship commander who says they haven’t thought similar is either a liar or a fool. Blake raised an eyebrow. Rahman: You’re right. ::She tapped her knuckles against the hull plating underneath them, a satisfying metallic echo returning.:: You were in charge of this tin can, and it’s not a job for everyone. It’s a popular misconception, but not everyone in Starfleet wants to become a captain. *I* certainly didn’t join thinking that’s where I’d be now. Blake: Your focus was engineering, right? Rahman: ::nods:: It was -- and still is. No matter where I go, I’ll always still be an engineer at heart. Starfleet for me was a chance to work on the latest technological developments, a chance to contribute the next innovation to the galaxy. From the quantum slipstream drive to the Warp XV engine, the little girl who’d dreamed of reaching the stars would have been amazed to see what her older self ultimately had managed to work on. Rahman: But it’s different for everyone. Scientists, pilots, doctors, peace keepers… Starfleet is a large enough institution to give many reasons to get up in the morning. The thing is, Blake, you *earned* that third full pip. You might not ever have ambitions of having your own starship, but your leadership and sense of duty to a greater purpose besides yourself--whether it be the safety of your crew or the population of this region… those are an integral part of who you are now, the person you’ve become. A small smile touched at the edge of Blake’s lips as she looked away once more. The sun had risen from behind the trees, bathing Kidman and Veritas in a warm light. Blake: When my tour of duty is done, I’d like to return to the Rangers. Roshanara looked back at her XO, seeing the woman’s slight grin and sensing from her a renewed sense of content. Rahman: All right. I think that can be arranged. The Kriosian stood up and looked down at Blake. Rahman: But you’ve still got some work left to do here. The XO looked up at her captain, eyes narrowing against the sunlight. She scoffed at herself, fully aware of the tumultuous months that were likely lying ahead. She reached a hand outwards, Roshanara assisting her up from the hull. Blake: On your order, Captain. ((Bridge, USS Veritas)) The two command officers walked out onto the bridge, a crewman calling out, “Captain on the bridge!” Roshanara gave a glance around the room and nodded. Rahman: I hope everyone enjoyed the sunshine. The captain then walked over to her command chair before looking over towards Blake, taking the XO station. Rahman: Number One, I believe when I left you this spaceship, it was in space. Please put it back. The Commander gaped for a moment, because nodding her head in an un-protested affirmation. Blake: Blue alert. Helm, contact Engineering, prepare thrusters for planetary take-off. As the bridge crew around her acknowledged the orders, Blake took her station behind the captain. Though unexpected of a vessel not entirely suited to landing, Veritas’ nacelles inched off the ground, gradually pulling away from the comfortable land of Kidman I and returning to the vast unpredictability of space. --- And the Adventure Continues... Commander Sky Blake ( @Blake) Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0 & Captain Roshanara Rahman ( @Roshanara Rahman ) CO, USS Veritas I238705TZ0
  5. A great sim by @Blake setting up some philosophical questions/debate to come... Further Reading on the Wiki: Donova IV, Cobalt Clan, Sokarn zh'Kuujn ((Corridor)) The peace and quiet of the otherwise empty walkway was disturbed by the ship's First Officer jogging to catch up with the head of the Starfleet Rangers division of the Shoals. Blake: Caide! The Trill stopped in the middle of the hallway to wait for her, the flaps of her unzipped uniform vest limp at her sides. Lieutenant Rairen Caide nodded his head in (unexpected) greeting. The corners of his mouth crinkled upward. Caide: Commander. Aren't you supposed to be on Donova with the rest of the senior staff? Blake: I got called back to help Zhou with something -- Ukinix has got it. But that's actually what I wanted to talk to you about. Caide: Commander Ukinix? She squinted at him, brow pinched in confusion. Blake: Ukinix--? oh. Oh! No. No, not Ukinix. Um... no, no I recognise one of the organisers' names. Do you know anything about Sokarn zh'Kuujn? Caide: I know a lot about zh'Kuujn. She is the head of the Cobalt Clan. The Veritas XO blinked, wires in her brain shorting at the information. She rose a hand, finger accenting the words. Blake: Sokarn zh'Kuujn is... Caide:::gradually nodding with her:: ...head of the Cobalt Clan, yes. Silence permeated the space between them, Blake's head moving to glance away. Confusion riddled the space around her eyes, and she gaped at Caide. Her hand snaked into her hair, gripping at it as she rested the other on her hip. Blake: The Cobalt Clan are... criminals? The definition gave Caide paused, tasting the word in his mouth before he commented. Caide: Technically speaking, yes. They engage in what the Federation at large may deem to be criminal activities. Blake: Caide, we're actively working with the leader of a criminal organisation! We have the opportunity to arrest her. Caide: ...in theory. Blake: In theory-- wh- ::she growls.:: That's not the answer I expected from you. Caide: What did you expect me to say? Blake: I expected you to say "yes Blake, go get the cuffs, I'll meet you on the surface so we can get zh'Kuujn". Caide: And what would doing that prove? Blake continued to gape at him, trying to find some hint in his deep brown eyes that maybe he was saying all this in jest. He wasn't. Caide's thick eyebrows were pulled together expectantly, dimples crinkled as he waited for her answer. Blake: We'd take down the head of Donova's largest criminal organisation. I'd thought you of all people would agree. Caide: From a Starfleet Security standpoint, I ordinary would. But as a Ranger, I have to disagree. Blake: On what grounds? Caide: They're responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. Blake: The Donovan government is responsible for Donova's socioeconomic status. The Trill's shoulders shuddered, lips pursing to contain laughter. He clasped his hands together in front of him. Caide: No. That's what the Donovan government would prefer to say. In reality, the Cobalt Clan, and more specifically, the Kuujn clan, are caring for Donova. Blake: I'm still struggling with how that's a good thing, Caide. Caide: Even if we arrest Sokarn zh'Kuujn, we would have to release her to Donova Marshals -- most of which have the utmost respect for her or have been 'paid' by the Kuujn clan to have her released on sight. Nevermind government intervention of her arrest. The words perplexed her. The very idea of allowing zh'Kuujn to walk free was an insult to the very fibre of her being. zh'Kuujn was not an innocent woman: the Cobalt Clan was behind significant crimes against the people of Donova. Caide had been furious at Blake's skirting the rules on Ketar V -- which had resulted in Lukaik's death. Now he was suddenly okay with bending the rules? Blake: Why? Why be complicit now? Caide: Each colony has its own way of functioning in the Shoals. This is why I've made a point to visit each one. Donova is the most peaceful of the Colonial Coalition, by far. It is a functioning, prosperous Federation world. No one denies the Cobalt Clan is a gang of organised criminals. Blake: So we could take them down under Operation Safe Harbor? Caide cringed, tilting his head at her. Caide: I recognise Veritas may have deviated a little from its original mission objective on account of the Tholians in the last five years, but Operation Safe Harbor's original objective was to protect trade routes. An argument could potentially be made to include the Cobalt Clan, but they're not pirates. They have transport ships, but no spatial artillery of their own. And if they do, they've been doing a better job patrolling the Donova system than Starfleet has. Kelrod: =/\= Commander Kelrod to Lt. Caide =/\= The Trill spared her a sympathetic look before tapping his combadge. Caide: =/\= Go ahead? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I need your help to get an update on Donova's situation as well as help to prepare myself to the latest protocols to act with local authorities in case something comes up during the battle of the bands =/\= Caide: =/\= I'll endeavour to assist. =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I can meet with you wherever you consider best. =/\= Caide: =/\= The command information centre then, sir? =/\= Kelrod: =/\= I'll be there. Kelrod out =/\= The com closed. Silence permeated the space between Caide and Blake, the latter looking up at the Trill. Blake: If I were to arrest her...? Caide: I believe Donova would rather you didn't. Blake: But if I did? Caide: Then she is temporarily inconvenienced until such time she is inevitably released from prison. The corruption runs deep within Donova, Commander. To dismantle the systems the Cobalt Clan put into place would take years, perhaps even decades. But what they have in place serves them well. No one is held there against their will -- debt notwithstanding, of course. Blake: Yeah. That's the problem. Bitter, Blake turned on her heel and walked away. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  6. OOC: This scene is compiled from a few sims, but the bulk of it was posted as "Haunted" in three parts by @Blake. ((Deck 2, USS Veritas)) The turbolift stopped at Deck 2. Blake turned her head to Wong. Blake: If you wish to speak more with Ukinix, I can make my way back to my quarters on my own. Wong: ::Raising an eyebrow:: Are you sure? Blake: Positive. Wong: Only if you’re okay with it. With a roll of her eyes and a sly smile across her lips, Blake turned with her hand outstretched to the bulkhead on her right, fingers grazing against it. She began to walk away. Blake: I wouldn't have suggested it if I wasn't, Wong. Ukinix: Take care, Commander! ((Blake's Quarters)) Well, at least now that she was blind, she didn't need the lights on. ...is what she would have thought, had the lights of her quarters had not already been on. The unusual flood of blurry illumination of her quarters dazed her somewhat. The emptiness of her quarters worked to her benefit: there was nothing for her to trip on as she continued to trail her way through her living space with the guided assistance of peculiar lighting and hands. Commander Tenzin Zhou, former first officer of the USS Veritas and now commanding officer of the Starfleet support annex of Star Station Esperance was happily asleep on Sky Blake's couch, having snuck in to surprise the Brekkian/Betazoid. However, he'd soon grown bored waiting for her to finally show up, so he'd passed out unceremoniously and didn't hear when she entered nor did he wake up until she had nearly sat on him. She sensed Zhou Tai-Sheng before she "saw" him. The long (ha) figure was stretched out on her couch, dead to the world. Blake seated herself on his legs. Zhou: Agh! He shielded his eyes from the bright lights of the room. Zhou: ...about time you showed up. Blake: In my quarters? Yes, how dare I be late for my own couch. She flicked at his waistline. Blake: Which begs the question... Zhou: Well, you didn't change the manual override codes for the door, so... Her eyebrows crinkled somewhat. Override codes weren't exactly "adjustable" more-so granted on a rank-by-rank basis. In Zhou's case, he (by a technicality) outranked her. Huh. They were the same rank now. That felt... awkward. Blake: Aren't you meant to be commanding a star-station? The human slid his legs out from under her, pulling a pillow she'd knocked onto the floor by accident back onto the couch. Zhou: I was in the area and wanted to say hi to my friend. Is that such a crime? Blake: If your crew didn't know better, they might construe it as a desertion of your post... A pause fell between them. Zhou: What happened to you? Blake: As in my eyes? ::she didn't see any affirmative motion:: It's a long story involving an atmosphere that didn't agree with me. Zhou: Yeesh... hey. ::smiles:: I have an idea about what will make you feel better. Blake: Tai, I feel fine. Zhou: Trust me, okay? ((later)) Pressing his thumbs into her muscles, Zhou continued to massage Blake's upper back. He could feel the large knot underneath her warm skin. Zhou: Geeze, when was the last time you just sat in a spa... Blake:::mumbling:: Before I got your job. He grinned as he began running his thumbs in small circles before pressing his other fingers along the back of her neck. The Great Bird of the Galaxy enjoyed irony, it seemed. It was only a little over five years ago that Zhou had found Blake back in that bar on Ornara and yet in some ways, it seemed like a lifetime ago... ((FLASHBACK: Ornara, Delos system: https://wiki.starbase118.net/wiki/index.php?title=SIM:Five_Long_Years#Zhou_Tai-Sheng:_Four )) Blake: Who the hell are you? Because she was ridiculously close to either zapping him or breaking his arm. Zhou: Zhou Tai-Sheng. But people just call me Zhou. ::He took a sip from his glass as he sat down finally on the seat next to her.:: Who the hell are you? Blake: Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement. Normally that scared the hell out of a lot of tourists, and she was *really* hoping that it would yet again, but something told her that that wouldn’t happen this time. She was starting to get really annoyed now. Zhou: Ah… explains the face, I guess. Blake: State your business or I’ll break your *own* face. Zhou sighed before taking another sip. Seems it just wasn’t in the cards this time. Oh well. Her loss. Zhou: Well, Sky Blake, consultant to Bintac Law Enforcement, it’s funny you should ask--or command, I guess. ::He shrugged before clearing his throat.:: Anyway, I’m looking for a Sky Blake, former Starfleet security officer. Her eyes narrowed. A certain lack of telepathy meant that she had no idea of what he was thinking - something she’d grown surprisingly used to whilst working on Ornara, but it was still unsettling when some random Terran walked into a bar looking for her. Her Starfleet file should have closed when Brekkian Embassies or whatnot sent her death certificate to Starfleet Medical - she’d only gone on leave, and they couldn’t exactly call a dead Chief of Security back to work. Nobody here on Ornara recognised her - it was half the reason she was here. No Starfleet, and certainly no Brekkians trying to kill her for various reasons. Not to mention that her family were now only a planet away should they need her (not that they knew that). Blake: She died a while ago. Should read Brekkian news outlets a little more often. Zhou: Yeah, that is what they said on Brekka. Hmmph, isn’t it just uncanny? He shrugged again before taking a final sip of his drink. He squinted his eyes as he slammed the still half-full glass on the table. Zhou: Ooo, that really clears the sinuses! Well, Ms. Blake, it was… interesting talking to you. ::He glanced back around the room.:: Perhaps you were right about this place being a dead end. He got up to leave but then placed his cash card on the table next to her data pad. Zhou: Feel free to use whatever’s left on that. As you know, I’m not going to need it. Have a good evening. And with that, he walked out of the bar. She sat there glaring at the card for a few seconds considering her next actions. A Terran on Ornara only normally happened when the Terran was involved with drug smuggling. But he knew her by name before she introduced herself and that she’d been in Starfleet. *No* Terran on Ornara knew that. oO Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him. Don’t go after him . . . Oo With careful fingers, she lifted the card off the bar, only to look back towards the door. oO Tosser. Oo She got up in a flash, pulling her jacket off the bar with a whip as she went after the Terran. ((END FLASHBACK)) After a lovely evening where Blake kept Zhou from poisoning himself by ordering the wrong menu item, he'd eventually managed to get her to take a chance and join him back on Veritas in their anti-drug smuggling operations dealing with the felicium trade that had spread to areas like the Shoals. It took a little more time, but eventually, he got her to trust him enough that he got her to put back on a Starfleet uniform and have the late Veritas CO Captain Rosa Carrero give Blake her rank back. Of course, while Blake and Zhou served together on Veritas and spent time in these quarters, more often then not, their uniforms ended up as hers was now, discarded or hanging over a chair. Taking a glance over at her tunic, Zhou smiled again when he saw the three commander pips still pinned onto it. She had been so insistent in those early days that she'd wanted really nothing to do with the service--that she'd grudgingly accepted her commission back as a legal formality while operating out here. But Zhou knew better. Blake might never become a starship captain or have ambitions of becoming one, but she *was* a woman of duty and a leader. As the last member of Carrero's senior staff still serving on Veritas, he hoped Rahman and the others knew how lucky they were to have her. Zhou: So how long until you can see again? She answered back as she rested barechested against her pillow. Blake: Could be anywhere between tomorrow and next month. Zhou: Next month?! He frowned, genuinely concerned about his friend. Blake: Technically I can see. It's just a bunch of smeared colours, is all. Zhou: You always downplay things, Blake. ::He shook his head.:: Maybe you should take a short leave and come back to Esperance. Get treated at the hospital there. I saw the last personnel report. I know Veritas doesn't even have a chief medical officer right now. Blake: Like I told Ukinix: this is hardly the worst thing I've had to deal with over the last year. That didn't shake the human commander's frown. He knew Blake wasn't one to need anyone's protection, but still, since finding her and bringing her back into the fold five years ago, he couldn't help but be concerned for her. She was one of the few folks he gave a damn about beyond small talk and mission reports. He slowed the rubbing of his fingers against her neck until he stopped and rested his palms against the back of her shoulder blades for a moment. From her Brekkian heritage, she naturally ran a bit hotter than most humanoids, and he always enjoyed feeling the heat transfer from her body to his whenever they shared these moments of physical intimacy. He leaned over and began kissing the back of her neck. The Brekkazoid shifted her head, cracking her eyes open toward his general direction. Blake: Tell me why you're really here. And don't just say because you felt like a break. This is the second time in twelve months you've taken leave from Esperance. Zhou: Can't a guy just visit his friends once in a while? Blake: Last I checked, it was my turn to visit you. The human sighed, falling beside her on the bed. Zhou deliberately put himself into her view, the colour of his skin smudging against the darkened background of her quarters. She flinched (instinctively) when one of his fingers pushed some loose strands of hair from her face. Air puffed from her nose. Zhou: Well, first, I *did* want to check in on you. It's been a while, after all. Blake: ...that's not really unusual in our line of work. Zhou: But yeah, there's another matter as well. Remember our old buddy Kallo? She groaned, rolling onto her back and closing her eyes tight. Zhou: Well, he's gone missing apparently. Blake: Good. Maybe he went home to that scam Zambranian Royal Family he has or... whatever. Zhou: I don't know if anyone will really miss him. Still, it could mean he's bitten off more than he could chew again and gotten into some real trouble. The Brekkazoid pointed a finger toward him, wagging it at him as irritation glossed across her brow. Blake: No. Don't say it. Don't you dare say it. The bed rustled as Zhou readjusted himself. Zhou: Come on, you have to admit you enjoyed this more than if I'd just sent you a letter. Blake: I would have enjoyed this more if you didn't mention the name "Kallo Ver". I would rather blind myself again than willingly help him, so please, if there is anything else up your sleeve... Silence. Zhou: All right, maybe there was something else. Blake: Thank Noree. Zhou: You know both our tours are coming to an end next year. Blake: So I've been told. Zhou: You think you'll stick around for another one out here? She reopened her eyes at that. Blake pressed her cheek into the fabric of her bed, considering her answer. The most she'd thought about it had been in a discussion with Rairen Caide. Outside of that... Blake: It's still up in the air, but I'm in discussions with the Rangers. ::beat:: You? Zhou: I've been thinking of either looking into another assignment... or maybe even taking a sabbatical from Starfleet. Blake: A sabbatical? Zhou: I don't know... I just... I've been feeling a little restless this past year, Blake. I'm not gonna lie. Starting to wonder if this is the best use of my time. I guess I was hoping talking to an old friend in person could help me figure some things out. She frowned, the new information making the rounds through her brain. Zhou was... the Starfleet representation in her life. He was the pinnacle, the example. The one who explained how things were meant to be done. And he wanted out? Zhou wouldn't be the first one. Brandon Cormac, another good friend of Blake's back during Carrero's tenure as Veritas' captain, had also quit Starfleet. Not because he was feeling restless, but because he hadn't liked the bureaucracy Starfleet tried to employ with their resources at that time -- and to be fair, that same bureaucracy had left him stranded on Outpost 3 alone following a pirate raid, almost costing his life. Cormac's frustration with the service had been brought on by its insistent complicated politics. Zhou's frustration ran much deeper and more personal. By rights, he should have been Veritas' commanding officer. It was a controversial opinion for Blake to have. It wasn't that she disliked Rahman -- not at all. However, Zhou had served in the Shoals for longer. He had been the ship's First Officer. He knew the turf, knew the people, and already had a longstanding relationship with the political entities that often called upon them. When Rahman came in, they'd understandably had to start from scratch, and Roshanara had needed to learn everything on the fly. She'd done so perfectly well, of course, but Blake had to wonder whether things over the last few years would have gone more smoothly had Zhou been at the wheel. She'd never tell Rahman these theories, but part of her believed she didn't have to. Rahman was aware of Blake's position on such matters. In fact, Blake had demonstrated them to Roshanara before -- she'd willingly dropped Veritas to become Zhou's First Officer on the Montreal without a second thought. It was only because Zhou had gotten himself injured, forcing Mei'konda to become the ship's CO, that Blake had remained on Veritas. Blake:::with a soft smile:: Maybe you need a new challenge. Zhou had a history in Starfleet long before he was assigned to Veritas and Star Station Esperance. It may just be he would be better used in a different location. Once you've seen a sector of the Shoals, you've seen all the sectors of the Shoals. And Zhou's position at present was practically locked down. The only time he got to leave Esperance, maybe see some kind of excitement, was when he kept coming back to Veritas. He did have a short tenure as captain of the Montreal, but as mentioned previously, he wasn't as physically spry as what he'd thought he was. Not to mention an endless sense of recklessness powered by his (reserved) ego. Zhou: I suppose there's a certain irony in me seeking you out now while you're blind to help me see the way forward. She made a show of rolling her eyes. Blake: You're so funny. Zhou: Oh, hey, I owe you a little congratulatory something... "Commander." Blake: Let's leave the gift-giving out of my quarters, yeah? Zhou: No, no... no cheesy gifts. I know you don't like that. Lie back and close your eyes. Blake: Mmm, so it's that kind of gift... He snuggled up against her for a moment before leaning in to start a trail of kisses again. ((later)) With a slight eyebrow raised, Blake wrapped the towel around her shoulders. Blake: Whatever the reason for your visit, I appreciate it. I'm just sorry I don't get to see you as well as I usually do. Standing nude by the replicator, he looked back over at her with an amused grin. Blake: Just a joke, I promise. Eyes are set to be back by the end of the month. Give or take. He returned with the set of glasses and handed her a glass of cool water to enjoy before taking a sip from his own glass. Zhou: Don't think if you still aren't seeing things clearly by then that I'm not going to come back out here and throw you into a shuttle to take you back to the station to get fixed. A chime rang through her quarters. Blake: Enter. The doors hissed as they parted, a cool breeze swooshing through the hot temperature of her living area. Blake raised her chin toward Zhou's general direction, hoping he could provide some context as to who she'd just invited in... Parker: I had heard you had been injured on the asteroid. I came to check on you, to see if you needed anything. Her shoulders fell slightly upon hearing the unmistakable voice of Parker, and the expression on her face was replaced with one of pure neutrality. Blake: No need. I got back in from Sickbay about an hour or so ago. Parker: We are shipmates….I have a duty and responsibility to make sure that you have everything you need during your recovery::looking at the apparent human male: Lieutenant Commander Hannibal Tiberious Parker, Operations Officer. And you are? Inwardly, Blake sighed at the defensiveness of Parker's tone. Zhou: Commander Zhou Tai-Sheng. CO of the Starfleet Annex on Star Station Esperance. Parker: Pleasure to meet you. Blake: Zhou just finished helping me get situated. He was about to return to his guest quarters. Which reminds me-- ::to Zhou:: shirt? Blake strode over to the back of the couch, flipping the towel from around her shoulders as she did so. Zhou tossed her an over-sized t-shirt, and Blake pulled the garment over her arms and shoulders until it limply fell across her bare torso. Blake: I'll have Caide send you that manifest we talked about earlier. It might even allow you to meet him. Zhou: Yes, I've been looking forward to vetting him properly... He exchanged an amused glance with her, but Blake's eyes soured a little with minute disapproval. Blake:::with a smile:: Have a good walk, Tai. He nodded and then looked back at Parker. Zhou: Nice to meet you. The Star Station Esperance commanding officer deliberately brushed past Parker as he exited her quarters. An awkward silence permeated the space between the two Veritas officers. She crossed her arms. Blake: Zhou was Veritas' First Officer when I came aboard. He doesn't like me saying it, but I owe my life as I know it to him. Parker: Really? Explain… Blake:::with a shrug:: I was lost on Ornara, and he showed up and gave me a purpose. He's been a confidant since then. ::beat:: Look, I appreciate your concern for my health, Commander, but it's not really your department. But I'm following the instructions my doctor has given me. Light duties until further notice. With that in mind, if you have any issues regarding our resources, you may be best taking them to Commander Ukinix. Parker: Understood…Commander… A weary look passed her eyes, her head tilting a little. She spoke with growing tiredness -- not from physical exhaustion, but of the mental gymnastics that she believed was about to come. Blake: If you want to talk about something else, the floor is yours. Parker's figure shifted somewhat, his height rising a little. Parker: As I’m sure you know by now, my visit is more than professional. It’s also personal. Blake: So I gathered. Parker: Every since we were re united on Duronis, you’ve treated me like an afterthought. When I got here it was the same thing. You treat me as though I was some paramour who left you in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. You act as though your life before you woke up didn’t matter. That everything and everyone you knew then didn’t matter. You weren’t some woman in a pleasure palace trying to leave her past behind. You were then, as you are now, a Starfleet officer, a woman who I trusted at my back anytime, anywhere. A woman who was smart, courageous and a little bit wild. That was the Skyleena Blake who fought by my side. That was the Skyleena Blake who kept me from killing another crew member on the Challenger-A. That was the Skyleena Blake whom I watch bring Faith into the world on Duronis at the Embassy. You were passionate, committed and fearless. That Skyleena Blake…was my friend. What you are now is not the same woman I knew. I am the only person on the ship who knew you then and now, and you were better then. That’s just my opinion. oO "You were better then." Oo Blake's eyes drooped, her heart sinking in her chest. As much as she detested Kallo Ver's very existence, the man had managed to summarise her life thus far with a rather compelling statement: You're a widow, Commander. Born out of ash and fire with just five years of life under your belt. The things that scare you are complex - they are very real problems. But some of us are simply spooked by a darkened corridor. It was Kallo's "special power", if you will, to be able to see someone and know every bruise or weakness to poke at to get what he wanted. Generally, he resorted to surface-level things -- being annoying simply to be annoying was his go-to tactic, and it was a very effective one. He used this skill to be a master manipulator. He knew everyone's move before they made them. And Kallo was right. The things that scared Blake were complex -- it wasn't a physical object. Sure, wide-open spaces made her uneasy, but there was something that utterly terrified her. And its avatar was standing in her quarters right now. Parker's words were poisoning her chest, her ears, her mind. And according to him, it was just the beginning. Her voice was a whisper, a striking contrast to the booming Hannibal Parker. Blake: I am not that person. Parker: Whether you like it or not, we’re linked together. Why didn’t you find me Sky? Why didn’t you ask for my help? Why didn’t you ask Starfleet to find me? You know damn well that I would have been there to help you. You know I have people who would have helped you too. That whole business with Faith could have been solved with one subspace call. One. Business with Ilakai? Which business? Getting her back into Federation space, or having someone look after her when Blake abandoned her and her brother entirely? And there was that name again. Sky. The back of her head ached, right in the space her bondmate had once resided. His side had burned away on his death, leaving a space that echoed endlessly. Blake: Why does this matter to you? Parker: It matters because I owe you. If you hadn’t stopped me by threatening to shock me with your built in phaser array I would have killed him, pinned to the bulkhead by his throat. Tobias Walker at the time I thought he was complicit in…well, not going to rehash it again… Her fingers pressed into her forehead as she desperately tried to recall who that was. She couldn't. Not because she didn't want to, but because the information was just no longer there. Her bottom jaw vibrated in her mouth. Blake had to swallow, and breathe. Parker: You know I don’t hold my tongue. Never have. I speak to you as a friend, as someone who has your best interests at heart. Whether you like it or not, you need me, and I owe you. Bad times are comin’ out here. You have already admitted that to me. You need to harness that from which you have tried so hard to run from. Just what about the past scares you so much? Make no mistake…I’m a predator. I know fear when I see it… ((Flashback -- Brekka, 239102)) The Vulcan handed her a frozen cup, taking a seat on the porch with her. She cared little about its contents, instead placing the cold item directly against her flushed cheeks, wincing when it knocked into her sunglasses by accident. Blake: When I was a kid, I used to hate the summertime. Sabor raised a pointed eyebrow in her direction, taking a sip from his glass. Blake: But then when winter came 'round, I always hated that instead. Couldn't choose whether to be warm or cold. ::beat:: Yet for some reason, today, in this blistering heat, I'd rather be out here, than inside with climate control. Sky's gaze turned to Sabor, but he simply gave a casual shrug of his shoulders, crossing his legs and leaning back against the wall of their home. Sabor: The interior of Starfleet ships are set to a much lower temperature than this. Your quarters were warm and you were free to do as you pleased off duty. But on duty, you cannot change the ambient cooling to something more suitable for your biology. It could be that your body is now instinctively drawn to the natural warmth of Delos IV. He couldn't see past the dark sunglasses, but he could tell that she was giving him one of those *looks*. After a moment, she gave a single word response, laced with sarcasm and amusement. Blake: Right. The Vulcan performed a very uncharacteristic expression: he smiled. Sabor: The last thing you remember clearly places your experiences outside of Starfleet service, meaning there is a large period of time between what you used to know about your body- Blake: I've had two kids and an entire career between my last clear recollection and this year. I think I understand that I've changed in more ways than one. ::She gave a mild huff.:: I'm just . . . confused. She took a sip from the cup, the melting ice within causing condensation over her hands. He'd chosen flavoured water today, probably to boost her electrolytes or whatever excuse he could concoct to maintain what minor aspects of her health that he could. Her heart ached just thinking about that, putting a slight smile on her face. He cared. He struggled to show it in the ways that she expected, and Noree knew that she constantly pushed his concerns away, but he continued to care. Despite all of it, he never once actually forced her into anything. He simply stood idly by, waiting for her. Blake: I feel better. Better than I was. But at the same time, I feel like I'm . . . out of touch, with myself. Sabor: Physically? Blake: Today, yes. ::She nodded her head.:: I'm . . . having to re-learn things I thought I knew, about myself. It's a really weird sensation. Sabor: I cannot claim to understand. But know that I will try. ((End flashback)) ((Blake's quarters)) Blake sucked in a long breath, trying to relax her shoulders. She wrung her hands out to stop them from shaking. Blake: You've had your say, Commander. Her emerald eyes glared at him. In the mix of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty that ran through her during Parker's confrontational "speech", anger burned within them. But Blake's voice remained quiet. It wavered, as though she was uncertain how to stop her voice from cracking. But, ever so slowly, it grew stronger. Quiet, but strong. Blake: You seem to be under the impression that you know what's best for me. That's wrong. You've got no idea who I am. You keep confusing me with someone you knew long ago. ::A shadow cast over Blake's eyes.:: Shut up. ((Flashback -- 239410.03, Embassy of Duronis II)) Parker: I know you are here to see how we have been so successful here. Perhaps you remember I was there when Faith was born? That she was born right here? Her heart simply grew cold. No. She didn't recall. The records did state Faith was born on the Thunder, though - which had been assigned to Duronis. Blake: Is there a point to this line of questioning? Parker: Making conversation. Catching up with someone I considered an old friend. In our line of work, close friends are in short supply. She took a calming breath. Blake: I see you haven’t read my file recently. Here's a refresher. I suffer from retrograde amnesia. I was reactivated as a specialist for the USS Veritas in their attempts to stop felicium trafficking. If I knew you before, which seems to be the case, I apologize. I don't know you now. Every instinct told her to pick up the phaser and return to what she'd been doing, to ignore his current existence. This was a ploy by Caide, she was sure. After this, it was a psyche evaluation. How ironic that she was now facing old demons. Parker: I’m sorry , Commander. I...I...didn’t know. I was thinking that you were the Sky I had known, my shipmate, my friend, the Brekkian wild child…. ((End flashback)) Blake: I told you exactly who I am when we met on Duronis three years ago. I have no recollection of those events, and I've no interest in recalling them. Because it's not me. I explicitly informed you, word for word, that I don't know you. She straightened. Blake: You don't like that I'm not Skyleena, don't like that I don't play buddy-buddy with you when you want me to. I won't apologise for that. I never will. That person, those memories, they are yours and I hope you cherish them. But they are not mine. You talk about people like this "Tobias Walker" -- I have no idea who that is. I don't have those memories. Parker: You may not remember them, but I do. And now, you do as well. You cannot ignore the truth, sweep it into a corner and hope it stays there. The truth is always out there, whether it is convenient or not. Your fear of that past you wear like a coat, and that fear hampers your present, and your future… Blake: You're right, I am fearful. But not of the past. I couldn't care any less about the past or our history, or whatever. My fear is coming across people like you. People who want me to be that Skyleena Blake they knew before. So yes, I am running from you. I hide from you deliberately. When I joined Veritas six years ago, I chose 'Blake' over 'Sky' with the sliver of hope that maybe it would differentiate me from that other person, that it would keep me safe from this exact scenario. ::beat:: People like you haunt me. You terrify me. You want me to be someone I simply cannot be. You think you know what's best for me, Parker? Believing I'm going to spend any more time standing here being beaten down in the place I've made my home is only evidence that you know nothing at all. Parker: Since you want to treat me like some monster bent on destroying you, I assure you that I am no such thing. I have a code I live by. I take care of those who have taken care of me. You may not remember what you did, but dammit I do. I’ve made it my mission to take care of those whom I serve with, my ship, and any others who might need it. If you don’t understand that one fact about me, then you will never understand me at all, and neither will you understand yourself. Blind that she was, she moved past him as if she could see. Her hand fingers stabbed the door controls, holding it open. Blake: I'll inform Captain Rahman of our irreconcilable differences. Veritas' tour of duty ends in six months, at which point I hope for us to part ways. Until then, you are not welcome to speak to me outside of duty hours until such time I receive your sincerest apology. You owe me nothing. I am not your friend. We are not 'linked together'. And I don't care about your opinion of me. Parker: As you wish, Commander. I serve at the pleasure of Captain Rahman and Starfleet and I will do my duties as Operations Officer and any other position in the most excellent manner possible. Our communications will be restricted only to the management and operation of this vessel and crew and their safety. The only thing I ever cared about was the fact that you did me a solid, and all you care about is yourself. What does that make you, Commander? Afraid of everything, pushing away things you need to know, trying to hide in this makeshift bubble you have made for yourself. Well now, that bubble has effectively been burst and you are going to have to find a way to deal with it. Your behavior is selfish and it makes me wonder why I gave a damn about you in the first place, why I would be willing to defend you against all comers. You wanted that bridge burned? Well congratulations, you just blew it sky high. Good evening… Regardless of his words, Blake ignored him. She waited beside the door silently until he exited. When the door finally slid shut behind him, leaving her alone in her quarters, her nose scrunched. Tears welled in her eyes as detrimental words made their way across her psyche. Who was she supposed to call in this situation? Caide? Zhou? Navarro? The relative safe space of her quarters had been utterly violated. She could retreat to bed, hide away for as long as necessary. That's what Blake wanted, so desperately. Gingerly, her shaking hands sought out the combadge left on the couch. Blake: =/\= Blake to Navarro. =/\= Navarro: =/\= Navarro here. How can I help you, Commander? =/\= Blake: =/\= I know it's late counsellor, but do you have some time? I've just-- I need to work through something. =/\= Navarro: =/\= I am on my way. =/\= Blake: =/\= Thanks. =/\= Blake's quarters fell into silence. Tbc . . . Cmdr Sky Blake Executive Officer USS Veritas C238803SB0
  7. A crazy little idea made me start a light JP with @Ikaia Wong that has unleashed in this sample of talent and hilarity, and I can't help but appreciate the amount of skill and comedy that ravages every single line of it. I hope your CO won't catch you or, if does, at least have a good laugh at the expense of this before grounds you FOREVER XD.
  8. ((OOC: Picking up an older MSNPC that someone else created, making it your own, and adding some interesting idiosyncrasies, all while still doing the original character justice, could not have been easy, but I believe that is exactly what the writer has done here. Not only did I enjoy this post immensely, but as a new ensign in the fleet, I felt like it gave me so much to work with moving forward. Later, I found this post to be a key stepping stone that brought the Veritas smoothly into ACT II of its current mission.)) ((Tholian Station)) It was quiet. Always so quiet. An unbearable vacuum of silence that threatened to drive the Pygorian to madness. Kehive thanked his ancestors for the small gift a human friend had once given him. At the time, he had little appreciation for an ancient music playing device called a record player, but he had kept it with him out of sentimental value. Now it was his salvation, his grounding force against the lonely void that threatened a hollow fade from sanity. The Ink Spots - We’ll Meet Again The record spun at his side, the last one remaining. He had started with four, but the others had degraded to static. Still, he liked this song. Besides being apropos for his situation, it helped his mind wander to those he had left behind, the people he had loved, the faces that slowly blurred as his memory lost its hold. A soft orange light blinked slowly on and off, causing illumination to filter dim light into the room. Then fade just as quickly, casting him back into darkness. He considered it for a long time. What would have been the purpose of this SPECIFIC light? Was visibility needed in this remote bay that he had squirreled himself into. Was it a warning? He tilted his head as he considered and rubbed his hand over his braided beard. On. Off. On. Off. Was there a pattern? Did the frequency mean something? A movement to his side pulled him from his contemplation. He spoke, his voice rough from misuse. na-Soldim: Annie? Is that you? Annie: Bzzt. Zzt. A smooth rod of metal machination wrapped itself around his leg up to meet his smiling face. His five eyes looking lovingly at his creation. The robotic snake he had crafted from various parts and scraps. A light rust formed over her exterior. Annie had proven a valuable ally in attempting repairs on some of the hard to reach areas of the compact and inhospitable station. ((OOC: Lovingly drawn by my daughter)) His intention had been to create a tool, but in his solitude he had made a friend, a companion. The implications to his mental health were not lost on him, but weighted against the alternative loneliness, he granted himself this grace. na-Soldim: I need to build you a proper hiss, huh?. ::He looked to her command panel fixed to his wrist and pressed a few buttons.:: Let’s see what you have been up to. He accessed her eye camera, which was currently fixed on his worn ever thinning face, and started to rewind the feed. na-Soldim: No one wants to see that. Annie: Zzt Zbt. na-Soldim: You are too kind Annie, but there is no need to butter me up. You know I’ll always refill your power cells. His face went pale as he watched the playback. Those were flashlights. He nearly knocked over the record player as he lifted the arm, the music ceasing with a zip. He held his breath as he listened. There it was….footfalls. Boots? The Ranger grabbed Annie by the neck and bolted down the tight corridor toward the sound, jumping and ducking obstacles that he knew were there even as light continued to fade in and out. Was it Tholians? Starfleet? Scavengers? He watched a hatch open above him, followed by several figures moving through the opening and down to his level. His hand gripped his knife for only a moment before he thought better of it. He was no fighter, and greatly outnumbered besides. It was doubtful they would have known he was here, he had taken precautions to stay hidden. At this distance though, there was no hiding it. Kehive pulled himself up and onto a beam above the corridor, laying his back flat as he sent Annie to a better vantage. He looked to the control panel on his arm in the hope of getting a better look at the intruders through her camera. It was all he could do. He calculated his options. If it was an enemy (which seemed the most likely) his best bet would be to flee into the inner scaffolding of the station, but he would need an opportunity. The footsteps grew closer, voices became louder, light beams bouncing off of the walls in the corridor below him. He held his breath. This would be either his doom, or his salvation. The wait felt like an eternity. Annie got a better look as they were directly below, her feed relaying it back. Starfleet. The tension in his muscles eased somewhat. It was no death sentence, but he certainly had a bone to pick. He flipped himself over the beam as he landed directly in front of them, his boots slamming into the metal floor with a loud clang. A visage of survival, his linens tattered but tight, effective for maneuvering through the difficult to traverse recesses of the station. His knife still tucked into a makeshift belt at his leg. Five eyes peered across the away team, his painstakingly braided beard a contrast to his obvious lack of hygiene. na-Soldim: You’re late. Solak/Kelrod/Navarro/Emi: Response TBC Kehive na-Soldim ( @Antero Flynn ) Starfleet Ranger The Shoals C239205AF0
  9. (OOC: I couldn't remove the Bolding for some reason but that's no excuse not to post this JP in it's entirety. It's a lovely three-way JP between @Tony (Kells)@Wil Ukinix & @Geoffrey Teller that gives a satisfying and call-back laden send off to several friendships I loved watching on the Veritas. It's both fan service and quality writing and I enjoyed having it in my inbox this morning. ) (( Shuttlecraft Miranda, out of the USS Veritas )) Nic del Vedova grinned over at his fellow Aussie. There wasn’t much to grin about, since they were hurtling along through subspace with nothing particularly exciting immediately ahead of or behind them. But, at the same time, there was nothing not to grin about, so Del grinned. Wil had his feet up on the helm controls, ankles crossed, fiddling with a replicated cube that he’d found out about by chance in the Starfleet database. The cube had nine squares on each face of a different colour. The idea was to randomly mess it up, and then twist and turn it until it was back into its original state. It was mind numbing yet somehow mesmerising. Playing quietly in the background was one of the songs from his music collection, which he was also quietly singing along to. Ukinix/Speakers: I kissss and-tell, all my fe-ears… Fallin’ down-the moun-tain…. End-up kiss-in’ diii-iiirt….. He looked over at Del who was grinning away. Ukinix: ::Smiling:: Watch’ya grinning about? del Vedova: Just thinking. But no, that wasn’t right, was it? Too often recently, too much thinking had gotten him to do the opposite of grinning. Ukinix: Ah. Enjoying a bit of quiet time? del Vedova: It’s more that I’m actually doing something. I’ve been stuck in physical therapy for way too long on Starbase 284. Even if I’m not going back to Veritas, it feels good to be doing something that isn’t working out my leg. Wil nodded and smiled, while placing the cube game on the nearby console, before interlocking his fingers and placing his hands behind his head. Ukinix: ::Cheekily:: IIII… reckonnnnnn… someone’s a bit keen to see their boooy-friiieeend! Wil opened his mouth, and gave Del two deliberately exaggerated winks. Del nodded. That was certainly true. del Vedova: Him, too. I’m definitely looking forward to reuniting with Aron, (beat) even if it means leaving you and Roshanara and the rest of our friends behind. Wil breathed a big sigh through his nose, and nodded in agreement slowly, pondering. He had lost his fair share of close friends in recent times. Losing Del was another loss. Wil considered him his good friend, and not just because they were from the same continent. Del knew he’d always have a community of friends on Veritas, despite his monthslong absence, which made it more difficult. In fact, he thought leaving them now was harder than it would’ve been if he’d left from Veritas directly. But Wil had been good enough to come and pick him up at SB284, using one of the Veritas’s type-10 shuttles, to ferry him to Thor and Aron. Ukinix: That’s why I wanted to give you a lift. Well, that and I need the helm practice. At least this way I get to say goodbye. Plus, you’re effectively my neighbour, I gotta look after my mate from Sydney. del Vedova: Why’d you do it, anyway? We could’ve just talked by subspace. I’m grateful, don’t get me wrong, but you know you didn’t have to do this. Ukinix: ::Serious face:: Teller stole my craft beer stash. del Vedova: (slight frown) Oh. I see. Wil slowly put his tongue in his cheek, and began to silently laugh. He couldn’t keep a straight face. Ukinix: ::Smirking:: Sucked in, Del. Only kidding. Del’s face cleared. del Vedova: Of course you were kidding. He laughed and winked, covering that he definitely hadn’t known. But just as quickly, his happy face faded, to be replaced by a stonier look. del Vedova: Can I ask you about something? Wil’s one quarter Betazoid self subconsciously sensed some tension in Del. He placed his hands in his lap, and sat up straight, giving Del his full attention. Ukinix: ‘Course you can. Del looked away from Wil as he spoke, not certain how to broach this difficult topic. del Vedova: I’m just not sure what I’m going to do when I get there. Ukinix: ::relaxed tone:: Whaddya mean. del Vedova: I still have months of therapy to do on my own, if I want to be reinstated. And if I do, what guarantee is there that I’ll be on Thor? They have an excellent medical staff from what Aron says, headed by Addison MacKenzie. Where do I go? Pursing his lips, Wil breathed through his nose, and thought for a few seconds. Ukinix: Yeah, but you’ve done other stuff besides medical, right? You were Diplomatic Officer when I first joined the ‘Tas. del Vedova: (with a nod) That’s true. Ukinix: You two have served apart for so long. Starfleet owes you two some decent time together. Besides, Aron’s a fleet captain, he’d be able to have some say in it, wouldn’t he? del Vedova: (another nod) That’s true, too. And, Del thought, the fleet owed them some leeway, given Del’s pain and suffering (not that it was the fleet’s fault, but still) and how they’d served apart for an extended period. del Vedova: He’s pretty gregarious, too. Nothing on me! But he’d be able to talk some stuffy admiral down, I’m sure. (beat) I forget, did you meet him when he came to Veritas? Ukinix: I met Aron briefly on Limbo, then he was in the transporter room when Roshie had her trip to Krios Prime. Other than that, not much. del Vedova: Well, trust me on that, then. And as for me… Even if he’d be serving only half-time for a while, he didn’t know where that half-time would be. But Wil had an answer for that, too: Ukinix: The Thor is unfeasibly large compared to the ‘Tas. I’m sure they’d easily find a role for you. del Vedova: (more cheery) You’re right. It’s a damned city in space. There must be something for me to do. Del turned a raised eyebrow on Wil. Between the two of them, he was sure they’d arrive at the Thor with a perfect plan ready to present to Aron. Fait accompli! Wil pondered for a moment, then chuckled for a moment as a thought entered his head. Ukinix: ::Smirking:: You know I always secretly referred to Aron as “Del’s Kells”? del Vedova: (with a wink) You think that’ll endear you to him? Ukinix: Don’t you dare tell him that. del Vedova: My silence can be bought, for a price. (playful) Let’s see how helpful you are before we get there. How long do we have, anyway? Ukinix: Oh, uuummm…. ::Leaning over to read console:: Six days? Nah, that can’t be right. Wait. del Vedova: Six days?! You’re kidding! I thought that this shuttle had some sort of propulsion magic thingie that would let us travel super fast and… Del trailed off. He could tell by Wil’s look of concentration that he wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention. Wil silently tapped away at the console. He could hear Del, but he didn’t answer just yet. Meanwhile, his face blushed red... del Vedova: What? Ukinix: I, um - ::clears throat:: - wrong course. del Vedova: (a frown turned quickly to a grin) Let me guess, you had us heading towards Kells’ Dells? Ukinix: ::Still tapping at console:: Nah, it’s ok! I fixed it, Commander. 16 hours. That’s more like it. We only lost an hour. ::Under his breath:: Maybe three. With the fingers from his left hand, he wiped and flicked away imaginary sweat from his forehead. del Vedova: Listen, as long as we get there, that’s all I care about. Wil placed his hand on Del’s shoulder, and gave it a friendly shake. Ukinix: We’ll get there mate, promise. ( Jump: Six Hours Later, Aboard the Thor ) The rest of the journey had been smooth enough, and Wil -- despite his attempt to send them off to the depths of Tholian space -- had proved himself equal to Del’s demand, and Del now had a very good idea of how he’d sell his presence to Aron. Not that Aron would need much convincing, but the personnel officer for the fleet who would never see either of them face-to-face certainly would. However, upon arriving, Del had a thought. del Vedova: Why not stay for a bit? Wil smiled at first, but then his face showed a little disappointment. Ukinix: Del, I’d love to, but I gotta get back through the Shoals. Roshie would have my guts if I’m not back on time. He rubbed his chin, and thought a bit longer. Ukinix: I wouldn’t have to stay for ages though, would I. del Vedova: Nah, not long. Just enough to see some folks. We’ve both served with about half of this crew, haven’t we? Ukinix: ::Smiling:: Bloody oath we have. del Vedova: Well, how about this: Let’s head to the bridge, and see if we see any familiar faces. I have to officially report in. Though “officially” reporting in seemed a little silly when one’s partner was the CO to whom one had to report. How could he have done otherwise? Ukinix: ::Thumbs up:: Done! del Vedova: Great! The Thor was a big ship, and it took plenty of time to get from the shuttle bay where they’d landed up to the bridge. Once there, Del was disappointed: There was only a skeleton watch, and none of them were familiar. The unknown lieutenant on watch told them that the captain was in his ready room, and Del hurried on despite the crutch that slowed him down. The lieutenant attempted to add something else, but clearly Del wasn’t to be dissuaded. But maybe he should’ve listened, as he crashed right on into a meeting in progress between Aron and his first officer, Geoff Teller. Teller: ....And the Antedian ambassador is very annoyed at whoever keeps drawing little cartoon fish on the doors to their quarters. I’ve asked the educators at the onboard schools to keep a tight lockdown on the art supplies, but my money is on.... Geoff turned, surprised that anyone would stride, or in this case hobble, into the ready room unannounced. His surprise redoubled when he saw Doctor Niccolo Del Vedova, formerly CMO of the Veritas, supporting himself on a cane. He’d barely had an opportunity to rise out of his chair before he was struck by something halfway between hug & tackle - in the form of Wil Ukinix, who was surprised to see Teller, and, instinctually, flew through the air, knocking Geoffrey to the ground, and squeezing him in a perfect tackle. He then proceeded to rub a knuckle into the top of Geoffrey’s head. del Vedova: Well, hello there. Kells: I expected you hours ago! Meanwhile, Wil and Teller exchanged their own hellos. Ukinix: ::chuckling:: Geoffrey! How are ya, ya [...]! Wil loosened loosened his tackle, then stood up, offering his hand to help Geoffrey up. Teller: You cheeky drongo, why didn’t you tell me you were coming? I could’ve had the shuttle shot down! ::smirk:: No offense, Doc. Aron grinned, and Del did a moment later. Kells: Maybe you two should be stationed together. del Vedova: Wil’s just very enthusiastic. Wil’s face began to blush when he realised he’d just crash tackled a first officer in front of a *Fleet Captain*. Ukinix: I um - ::hands behind back, looking at Aron:: - Fleet Captain. ::Clears throat:: Delivering Commander del Vedova to the Thor, sir. Teller: If I didn’t think the nacelles would go flying off the Veritas, I would’ve forged his transfer papers myself. Besides, The Skipper would never forgive me. Kells: Space forbid I steal Roshanara’s chief engineer. She’d hunt me down and spike my head as a warning to others. (beat, to Teller) On the other hand, I did already steal you. (to Ukinix) There’ll always be space here, Mr. Ukinix. (to Del) For everyone, but especially for you. You already have some plan for your assignment here, don’t you? del Vedova: (with a nod) And it’s very detailed. Wil helped me work it out. Geoff snorted and elbowed Wil in the ribs. Teller: ::smirk:: In that case you better double check the spelling. Wil shot a playful look of hurt at Geoffrey. Ukinix: Oi! Just because you’re in red doesn’t mean I won’t crash tackle you again! He closed his eyes in embarrassment, before looking forward at Aron again, this time blushing more than before. Kells: (slight sigh) Welcome to the Thor, Commander del Vedova. Of course it would’ve worked out. I’m glad you’re here, but you two did crash a command meeting, if you don’t mind… Geoff’s voice fell to a whisper. Teller: I’ve still got that Romulan Ale from Ketar V in my quarters and I’m off duty in an hour. Can you stick around? Ukinix: ::Whispering back out of side of mouth:: #$%@ yeah. Wil had looked at the specs of the Thor on the trip out of the Shoals. What he considered the most impressive part of the ship immediately popped into his mind. Ukinix: ::Still whispering:: Can we go bowling? Geoff had never once bowled in his life but that didn’t stop his competitive streak from showing. Teller: :snort: I will destroy you. Kells: Gentlemen. Not that Aron could really be cross when it came to this reunion, especially since Del had just arrived. He attempted to argue to himself that they had interrupted a command meeting, but then he shook his head. It was meant to just be to himself, but Del caught it at once. del Vedova: No? No to what? It seemed, however, that Wil wanted to err on the side of caution. Ukinix: We’ll, um - ::pointing thumb over shoulder towards door:: - we’ll leave you two to it then, yeah? Geoff coughed, only now fully appreciating the awkwardness of the situation. Teller: Of course sir, if you’d like me to remain on duty, I’m sure Lt. Cmdr. Ukinix…::Geoff’s eyes went wide and his attention was diverted back to Wil::...they made you a Lt. Cmdr? Are things really that bad? Aron let go an involuntary laugh, and then clapped his hands on his desk and stood. Kells: That’s all for today, Geoff. Go have fun with the I’m-sure-well-deserved-Lieutenant-Commander Ukinix. Wil clapped his hands together. Ukinix: Right, well, quick meeting’s a good meeting! ::To Aron and Del:: Will you join us? Teller: Kells: And as for you. Aron’s gaze pinned Del to the ground where he stood. He even wavered slightly. del Vedova: As for me? Kells: Let’s find a way for you to stay, even if it requires stealing this ship. del Vedova: Sounds good to me. Aron pulled Del close, and both men noted as he did so that both Teller and Wil covertly and politely made themselves scarce. Wil smiled, looked sideways at Teller, before gesturing with his head towards the door. He could sense how much they had missed each other, and thought they deserved this moment. (( One day later: Main shuttlebay on one of the three thousand decks that the Thor has, which is impressive by the way )) Standing in front of the type-10 shuttle, Wil had his hands behind his back, looking a little pale. OK, a lot pale. Ukinix: oO It turns out that 5 hours sleep, a bottle of Romulan Ale and several beer chasers while bowling really *does* make you feel complete crap the next day. Oo It was time to say his goodbyes. Again. Kells: It was good of you to come all this way, Commander, especially since you’re the only one who’s not staying. (beat, and a smile) Yet. Ukinix: ::Chuckling, smiling:: The Veritas is my home. Thanks for having me, Captain, I really appreciate it. Kells: Anytime, and I do mean any time. Geoff felt like he’d wrestled with, and lost to, several large Nausician musicians. It had been a while since the last time the two of them had properly tied one on, and Geoff was definitely suffering for it. The shuttlebay lights had never been brighter. Teller: You ready to go back to the second best ship in the fleet, drongo? Wil walked up to Teller, and wrapped his arms around him, patting him firmly on the back. Ukinix: This isn’t a ship, it’s a starbase that someone’s slapped some nacelles on. Geoff barked an entirely inappropriate laugh. Teller: Damn good to see you, brother. Next time give me some warning, I’ll have the starbase polished for you. Ukinix: Mate. I’m lucky to have seen you again. Thanks for a good night. I’ll miss ya. Teller: Same - this doesn’t get any easier. ::Geoff pulled Wil into a final hug:: and I hope it never does. Geoff stepped back and nodded. It helped to know the Veritas was in good hands, but Geoff quite simply missed his friend. He wasn’t the only one having trouble saying goodbye. The hardest part of the trip had finally arrived for Wil. Saying goodbye to Del. del Vedova: Listen, Wil... Ukinix: ::Wrapping up Del in a hug:: We’ll always have the Crapeliguin, Del. Gonna miss you. del Vedova: Well, then, we’ll just have to make sure we see each other again soon. Ukinix: Promise me we’ll go back home together one day soon? And you’ll take me to The Rocks for a schnitzel parmigiana? del Vedova: (with a smile) Absolutely. Teller: ::Geoff couldn't resist a last bit of ribbing:: You about done, or are you going to say good bye to Scarecrow and the Tin Man next? Ukinix: Oh, and say hi to Addison for me. Kells: (dryly) I’m sure she’ll know you were here when she sees the state of our Mr. Teller. Wil smiled. At least Kells seemed to be Teller’s case like Roshanara would have been, he felt that was good for him. Teller: Right as rain, sir, just...jogged here. Kells: You are going to go and get some fluids in Sickbay? Teller: Of course sir, but I was planning to go by jefferies tubes. Medical staff are busy, they don't have time in their schedule to berate the XO right now. Aron sighed, but Del laughed. He also shuffled back a step and grinned at Wil as the latter boarded the Miranda again, ready for his own trip home. del Vedova: Until next time, and I mean it! As he boarded the shuttle, Wil’s eyes became glassy as he held back a few tears, and took one last look at the three men. He gave a nod and a wink to Teller, and a thumbs up to Del. He hated goodbyes. He was extra sad to be saying goodbye to his friend Del, who had done more for him than maybe Del realised. But he could sense the delight in both Del and Aron. Like he had told Geoffrey and Addison via the Beatles song he had given to them as a parting gift before they left... Ukinix: ::To Del:: “There's nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.” Seeya, mate. END! ======================================================================= Commander Nic del Vedova Currently On Leave & Fleet Captain Aron Kells Commanding Officer USS Thor V238208LV0 & SB118 Captains Council Magistrate (so ask me anything!) And Lieutenant Commander Geoffrey Teller Executive Officer USS Thor - NCC 82607 Fleet Captain A. Kells, Commanding V239509GT0 And Lieutenant Commander Wil Ukinix Chief Engineer who bowls 121 when sober, 148 when tipsy, and 74 when drunk USS Veritas V239511WU0
  10. ((Holodeck 23, StarBase 118)) German had been feeling rather nostalgic about the moment when he started training as a cadet two years ago up until more recent days. A little over a year ago, the Denobulan was given the opportunity to become a training officer himself which was one of the more exciting things he enjoys doing. Any time the Academy Commandant would allow him to be either the training commanding officer, first officer, or disguised as a mock cadet, he’d waste little time to get ready to teach the future officers of Starfleet. One of his most memorable classes was with a Risian female cadet named Charlena Vanlith who he had read that she was making a name for herself in the Shoals aboard the USS Veritas. Knowing that there’d be a rough connection due to the tetryon fields that more often than not blocked any way of communication to be sent, German waited for a freighter to be shipped out from Ops to the Shoals. He had spoken with the owner of the freighter if he could send some communication beacon like probes and have them be placed in the direction he went out in space to hopefully be a temporary way to meet with Charlena. As he waited, German had figured up an encryption code so there'd be no way for anyone to break through the firewall. First, he typed in his Denobulan language, translated the first bit of coding to Klingon, and finished with a mix of Trill and El-Aurian. After a few weeks of radio silence, he had been given confirmation that the probe breadcrumbs were set and ready to be turned on. German approached the holodeck and punched in his encryption codes to turn on the bandwidth frequencies inside the probes and transmitted the data between his location to where the Veritas was. He glanced down at his PADD and watched with anticipation as each light illuminated signaling it was working, then German walked into the holodeck. Galven: Lieutenant Vanlith? Can you hear or see me? Vanlith: Commander Galven yes I can hear and see you. How is it on your end? They both had to configure their respective systems to get better holographic imaging software which gained momentum as it began updating. A few seconds went by and while it was still fuzzy in some areas, German could definitely make out the officer in front of him. Galven: Much better. ::smiles:: You're looking more exquisite by the day. Vanlith: ::smiling:: well it is good to see you. It's been far too long. Is it a year? Galven: I believe it has. Since then when we last saw each other during Mei'konda's promotional party, I'm now on Ops. ::chuckles:: Time flies. How have you been? Vanlith: I've been good. There's been some changes around here since then which took some getting used to. Teller and Addison leaving and now G'var is off. All for what is best for them so it's not too sad but it's definitely different. Less sea shanties in engineering now. He definitely could still hear Teller's sea shanties in his head whenever German tried to sleep. Being roommates was certainly an adventure. Galven: I understand how you must feel. My first post was the Veritas, then transferred to the Montreal which led me to the short lived Astraeus when just after a few short months, I was transferred to Ops without knowing a single person. It's certainly hard, but remember what you trained for. Sorry for talking so much. How are you holding up? Vanlith: I'm doing well. Engineering keeps me on my toes and with us just having dealt with pirates I'm happy that shore leave has come now. Gavlen: Pirates? What happened there? Vanlith: It's all rather complicated but some pirates turned up on the Veritas with a Blake from a different universe that they had cotton due to a spore drive. The spore drive had been stolen by a different pirate so we had to get it back. It's all rather weird. Charlena's hologram started to flicker a bit and every now and then while she was talking, there was a noticeable pause in between sentences. While German studied Terran history in primary school, a few of the holo-videos from the mid 20th century until the early 21st century had the same issue on Earth whenever the news was interviewing someone on a different continent. Galven: ::chuckles:: That's the nature of the game. We get involved with some rather… "unique" situations in our line of work. You mentioned an alternate Commander Blake, right? How's she and Captain Rahman doing? Vanlith: I’ll be honest I should probably get to know both of them better. I tend to keep relatively to myself or engineering so I need to branch out to say the least. From what I’ve seen of them they seem good. I know through the grapevine that Blake wasn’t happy with an alternate Blake on board. So I guess she’s still not happy as we still need to get her home. Charlena shuffled slightly and looked down. Recently she had realised how little time she spent with others on the ship and she knew she needed to do something about it. Having been on the ship for over a year she barely knew her own captain's first name let alone anything about her. And she was sure she somehow knew even less about Blake. Vanlith: Urm anyway what's going on for you over there? Even though they were many lightyears apart, German could hear the tone in her voice that Charlena sounded like she was disappointed by what she said. He could relate because there were plenty of people who were missed opportunities for him to get to know. He glanced down at his PADD as his fingers tapped on a few commands which materialized a couple chairs and the holodeck transformed into his apartment's living room on Ops. Although, it caused a few more energy sources which didn't help with the grainy, flickering hologram that was the young engineering officer. Galven: We've actually been on shoreleave for a couple weeks now. ::pauses, then takes a seat:: You're more than welcome to take a seat if you like? Vanlith: ::sitting down facing him:: And how has that been? Galven: ::nods:: Pretty eventful. We just recently received quite a few new ensigns as well as a Lt. Commander who actually served on the Veritas as well once upon a time. Did you ever get to meet an Alora DeVeau? Vanlith: I recognise the name, not sure we ever met. Galven: Well, as you know, I'm always one to help people adjust so I've unofficially become the starbase's tour guide. ::chuckles:: If you're ever this way, I'd love to give you a tour too! Vanlith: ::chuckling:: Tour guide Galven, you’ll be like Teller next. He gets confused as a bellhop, you’ll be a tour guide. Maybe I should open a hotel and hire you both. But in all seriousness a tour does sound nice if we are ever out your way. I would be nice to actually see you again. And no borg tribbles this time. A smirk formed on the right side of his lips. One of his more memorable training classes in the Academy was with Charlena when she took her final exam. Everything was going just as it was programmed to do until a slight curveball came into their way. Galven: ::chuckles:: Hey, I think that was a nice addition to a fairly boring class up until someone couldn't help herself when she picked up that tribble. Vanlith: ::chuckling pretending to be defensive:: Hey it was cute and fluffy. For all I knew it posed no threat. Galven: No, it didn't have to be a Borg tribble. ::smiles:: The look on your face was priceless when you first saw it. Have you come across any more troubling tribbles? Vanlith: No tribbles as of yet. It would be funny but I think I’d get in trouble for trying to keep one. Galven: ::rubs his ridged chin and sticks his index finger upward:: Tell you what! I believe there's a supply freighter about to leave drydock soon heading to the Shoals. The starbase has a pet store that has tribbles. Would you like one? It's a gift from me to you so I'm not taking no for an answer. ::pretends to appear stern by furrowing his eyebrows, but smiling in the process:: Vanlith: Are you serious? Charlena could feel the shock written across her face. She couldn’t believe that he was actually offering her a pet. She was sure BAXTER wouldn’t mind and that was the only possible hesitation to her. A pet tribble would be a brilliant fluffy companion and she could imagine the look on Wil’s face if it turned up in engineering with no warning. She was sure that would be a laugh. Galven: Which part? That there's a supply freighter or the tribble gift? Vanlith: You’re going to get me a tribble? Galven: ::nods:: Of course. I'll send you the shipping information and its expected delivery date. Vanlith: That's amazing. I’d love a tribble. And it sure would be a story to explain why to everyone. Plus as I recall the Borg tribble loved me so I’m sure a normal tribble would too. German was enjoying how excited she was which he got a kick out. Just as he was about to speak, a holographic chronometer illuminated up and behind Charlena's head which started a countdown at a minute and a half. It seemed like their meeting was about to run its course. Galven: Also, I want to let you know that the tribble I'm sending you is "fixed" so there's not going to be a million little furballs once it gets to you. ::smirks:: Vanlith: Just because I now know that doesn’t mean I won’t amuse myself in engineering before I tell the others ::chuckling:: Galven: ::laughs:: Let me know what happened when you tell your colleagues about it. ::clears his throat:: Listen, we don't have much time left because the tetryon levels seem to be affecting our connection. I noticed that the Veritas is just starting shoreleave, correct? Vanlith: Yeah that's right. Why do you ask? Galven: Given how intense the mission was for you and the crew, I would suggest that you try to connect more with everyone. It really does help, at least for me, to decompress by collaborating with others. Would you mind doing that? Not just for my own sake, but for you as well. Vanlith: Still giving me advice and direction even now. For you, sure. I really should get to know the others better. Maybe even have a chat with someone I don’t really talk to outside of being on duty. Galven: ::smiles:: Perhaps that someone could be your Captain. I know that whenever we came back from a mission, she would either take a nightly stroll to the library and Rahman loved it when a certain Ensign would bring her coffee. I mean, where else did Teller come up with the Brew Continuum? ::points to himself, smirks:: Vanlith: Coffee to the Captain. Is it really that easy? Galven: Of course! Roshanara is very approachable. Even more so when there's that fresh aroma hitting her nose. Vanlith: Well, I will remember that. Fresh coffee in the library. Thanks Charlena smiled rather thankful of the advice, she was more nervous of the Captain then she was willing to admit. It wasn’t because she was scared of her but more that she was worried she would say something wrong. Galven: It looks like our time is up so before we're disconnected, let her and everyone else I said hello. ::stands up:: Also, don't be a stranger and maybe we can send PADDmail back and forth between us. Oh, and Charlena? Vanlith: That sounds good. What? Galven: Optimism, Lieutenant! ::dons his signature Denobulan wide grin:: Vanlith: ::smiling herself:: And you Commander, hopefully we can see each other soon. ---- LT. JG Charlena Vanlith ( @Sophie290999 ) Engineering Officer USS Veritas V239604CV0 & Lt. Commander @German Galven 2O/Chief Science Officer StarBase 118 - USS Narendra V239507GG0
  11. ((OOC: A splendid tale of piracy on the high space seas courtesy of @Wil Ukinix & the Veritas!)) ((Bridge, SS Somershire)) Tygin: ::smiling her wicked smile:: Octotriticale...::holding up two fingers:: 400,000 tonnes of it...plus enough equipment to start our own farming colony. Marths: They’re carrying *what*? Tygin: ::raising a brow:: ...grain...::placing her hands on her hips:: it makes the flour you fry your chicken in. ::taking a breath:: it's 3 bars a ton. A rare open mouthed smile slowly presented itself on the poultry-fanatic’s face, before he chuckled. “Octotriticale” was the cutting edge successor to Quintotriticale. Long transportation times in the Shoals along with a lack of suppliers made it a highly valuable commodity. Marths: ::Pointing at Elliot:: Finish what you’re doing! ::Looking back at Peregrine, smiling:: No wonder Captain Vodka was protecting it so well. Fill up as much of our storage areas on the ship as you can. As quick as you can! Beam it, carry it, I don’t care, just get it done. He walked over to Bonus, and then firmly patted him on the shoulder. Marths: My sources weren’t kidding when they said “juicy cargo”. Tygin: ::Rubbing her hands together:: Juicy! Cap'n if Chek can give us our standard rate, you could retire. Marths: oO You are part of my retirement plans, buttercup... you just don't know it yet Oo Manstead: :: sarcastic. :: Yippee. Tygin:::Hooking a thumb over her shoulder:: I say we strip this sucker down to the plasma coils, make for Eagle station and live like Kings for a month or seven. Marths: I’m not sure about retirement just yet, but… this will go a long way. ::To Peregrine:: Strip whatever will fit into the Wildfire, if we have room. Manstead: You only have so much cargo space on the ship, captain. Marths: ::Wicked smile:: Then we’ll put whatever we can into engineering. Tygin:::offering a mock salute:: Aye Cap'n, number 32 with Chintapa Sauce, coming up. Manstead: Don’t even think about it, Pear. Tygin:::smirking:: Relax bubble boy, I'm not gonna hurt anyone, much, just throw a few people into some life pods. ::smiling:: ill intimate where I can and only bruise who I have to. Marths: Hey! ::Walking closer to Tygin:: This haul is going to attract attention as it is. *Don’t kill anyone*. Tygin:::growling:: Cap'n, come on let an artist work, you would tell a rainbow to stop being a rainbow or tell a tiger to color in their strips, ::spinning:: such is the Erinyes! Marths: ::Pointing at Peregrine:: You are as beautiful as your deadly, but don’t think that will stop me beaming you out into space! Manstead: Oh shut up... The Marth, without taking his eye of Peregrine, smacked Elliot perfectly on the back of his head. Tygin:::crossing her arms:: Don't be a punch of party poopers, come on Cap'n this is what we do, we are Pirates. Marths: “Pirates”? Don’t use that word! We’re “brokers”. With an anarchic supply chain methodology. *That do not kill unless absolutely necessary*. If any of the crew tells me that you critically injure or kill someone? Well, you’d better hold your breath when the transporter cycle starts, buttercup. And he meant it. Peregrine already had a black mark next to her name. Beautiful or not, and as infatuated with Tygin as he was, he only had one *real* true love – his ship. She came first. Tygin:::sulking:: No, I want my share of the loot...::clenching her fists:: Fine...I'll be nice ::holding a finger up:: but if one of them back talks me... Marths: …then slap them in the face. ::grinning:: Works for me. Manstead: Just do what he says. Tygin: ::mock saluting:: Aye, Cap'n! I'll go see to our guests and make them feel all warm'n'safe. ((Galley, Deck 4, SS Wildfire – three hours later)) The fully loaded SS Wildfire was stationary in a harmless, partially obscuring spatial anomaly, and thanks to The Marth’s special CCMS “friend” (in a latinum in a brown paper bag kind of way), no-one would be looking for them anywhere near their location for at least 10 hours. It gave them time to repair damage to the ship made by the new cloak. It also gave them time to celebrate… While tying up the knot on the bandana that The Marth wore on his head (with very small cartoon like chickens imprinted on it), he walked into the packed Galley. Most of the crew were assembled, talking loudly, eating (crumbed chicken pieces) and drinking from bottles of rum pilfered from the Swishbuckle. Chef Donovan was madly handing out plates of finger food (chicken Cordon Bleu bites) to several crew, who were distributing them to tables. There was a raucous, happy atmosphere that could be cut with a phaser. The Marth stood up on one of the tables, to the cheers of the crew that were sitting at it. He picked up a piece of food (chicken puff) from a plate below him. Taking an exaggerated bite, he then kept walking, moving from table to table until he was standing on a table in the centre of the Galley. Having quickly *demolished* the chicken puff, he clapped his hands together, then placed his curved palms together over his mouth, speaking through his makeshift megaphone. Marths: Crewmates! Crewmates! … ::Loud whistle using teeth:: Tygin/Manstead: Responses The noise in the room died down to a silence. Marths: Crewmates…. We are the misfits from the ::finger quotes:: “society” that forgot about us, judged us, exiled us, enslaved us. But today, we’ve proven… THAT THEY SHOULD UNDERSTIMATE US AT THEIR OWN PERIL! The sound of a loud cheer with the thumping of tables filled the room, before The Marths lifted his palms to quiet everyone down. Marths: Some of you are new, and, you know, some of you have been with me since the start. It’s amazing to think it’s been eleven years since I got my hands on this ship. We’ve had triumphs, and troubles. Today has been a busy day. But after our two raids, not only are our storage areas *completely* full… on both decks... our estimates indicate that, this is has been… ::inhales:: THE MOST VALUABLE HAUL IN THE HISTORY OF THIS SHIP!!! RECORD PAYMENT TO EVERYONE!!! The cheers and table banging noises of the crew became ear splitting. Tygin/Manstead: Responses He held up his palms again, to quieten the crew. Marths: However, ::walking over two tables while speaking:: it’s not been without incident. ::Standing on table in front of Tygin:: Everyone knows the rules on this ship. If you have a problem with someone, report it to The Marth, and then between the parties, to resolve the dispute… we organise a fight in this room during supper. So that everyone can watch and bet on the winner. There was a short, loud cheer once again from the crew. For many, watching and gambling on the crew fights were the most enjoyable activity on the ship. Marths: But… unfortunately… ::crouching down, eying Tygin, while crew begins to jeer:: someone took matters into their own hands today. The jeering from the crew turned into a combination of boos, high pitched whistles, thrown chicken bones and several thousand curse words, all directed at Peregrine. Manstead: Response Tygin: Response Marths: ::Ignoring Peregrine:: What Buttercup must understand is that non-compliance with the rules cannot go unpunished. ::turning to next table:: Zaphoid? The young crewmate who had been stabbed in the hand by Peregrine made his way over to the table that Marths was perched on. In one swift move, The Marth unsheathed the small but very sharp cutlass that he always had stowed in his right wrist band. He threw it up in the air, allowing Zaphoid to catch it by the handle when it fell back to the ground. The crew around Peregrine forcefully held Tygin in place, making sure her arm and hand couldn’t move. Tygin: Response In one quick movement, Zaphoid thrust the cutlass into the top of Peregrine’s hand, which caused the loudest cheer of the night yet from the crew. Zaphoid: ::To Tygin:: Now we’re even, ya bloody mongrel. Tygin/Manstead: Responses The people that were holding Tygin down all enthusiastically patted her on her shoulders – signalling that she had paid her debt and she was “forgiven”, and to thank her for an entertaining spectacle. Marths: Baby. Transport Tygin to the First Aid room. Tygin/Manstead: Responses “Buttercup” vanished from the Galley in a swirl of sparkles. Marths then looked at Zaphoid, and punched him as hard as he could on the jaw, sending him to the ground. There was another loud enthusiastic cheer from the rest of the crew. While flexing his hand open and shut, Marths stood back up on the table and addressed the room. Marths: ::Holding out palms:: Wildfire! Let’s eat and drink into the small hours! We’ve earned it! A crewmate in the corner of the Galley began to sing loudly. Crewmate: ::Singing:: In-Sha-dow’s-Edge I-was-born… Marths began stamping his foot on his table in time with the tune. It wasn’t long before most of the crew enthusiastically joined in, banging their drinks and fists on their tables, and singing a shanty that was brought to the Shoals and adapted by some of its early Terran settlers. Marths/Crew: Heave a-way, haul a-way! Crewmate: In-Sha-dow’s-Edge, a-round An-tor! Marths/Crew: And-we're bound for Sha-dow’s Eeee-edge... Crewmate/Marths/Crew: Haul a-way your roll-ing king, heave a-way, haul a-way, HAUL A-WAY, YOU'LL HEAR-ME-SING! And we’re-bound for Sha-dow’s Eeee-edge… The singing continued as The Marths bent down to retrieve a bottle of rum that was next to his feet. He took a big swig from it, before smacking his lips together. There was nothing like “free” rum. Especially from Bonnie and Clyde. ________________________________________________________ Henley “The Marth” Marths Captain and Rum Thief SS Wildfire V239511WU0
  12. [Ed. note: The nomination below is stitched from several sims to present the completed scene.] ((Bridge, USS Veritas)) Delano: Given how large a problem piracy has become in recent years, it’s not uncommon for freighters to employ smuggler's techniques to protect valuable cargo. I wouldn't assume anything nefarious. ::It was a good point, and one that Roshanara surmised Delano had come to trust from his time here in the region thus far.:: ::Still, their chief engineer had her doubts.:: Walker: With all due respect? I'd not assume the reverse either. And I'd say odds are better than even at least one of them was working with the pirates. Sepek: ::controlling his excitement:: Captain, it seems the warp trail heads to an area where the tetryon fields are more dense and active, but then cuts off. I'm assuming that this area is the Shadows? Blake: Every pirate gang from one end of the Shoals to another knows that we are *all* blind in there. ::Mei'konda scratched his chin, deep in thought.:: Mei’konda: We’re probaably better equipped than most shiips to operaate in the Shadows. Most shiips don’t haave Starfleet sensors and the combinaation of durability and maneuverability that the Veritas class has. Still... Delano: Unless we know exactly what we’re looking for, I’d advise against entering the Shadows. Blake: By the time we reach the Shadows, tracking them will be ten times harder. But last time we tried going after them, we had a good idea where one of their haunts. Walker: If we have the locations where they were, it’s possible we could use the warp trails to verify where they were going. A lot better than going in with blinders on… ::She chuckled softly to soften the statement.:: Blake: Reports suggest Veritas got called away before the crew could investigate further. I wouldn't personally know - I was on my personal leave. ::There was a lull in the conversation, and Evan sensed a measure of frustration from the gathered officers. First Lenik. Now, likely, the Kos’karii. And they still weren’t any closer to bringing justice to Captain Carerro’s killers.:: ::Mei'konda turned towards Roshanara.:: Mei’konda: I thiink we should interrogaate the Klingon, as soon as she waakes up. If she would taalk, she might have all the informaation we need. Up to date guidance chaarts, information on their fleet’s strength… it’s just a matter of getting it from her. ::Roshanara nodded. Warp trails as Sepek noted only went so far. The best place to look for where to go next wasn't out in space but down in sickbay.:: Rahman: Agreed. Mei’konda: We could offer her plenty in return. Supplies, mediciine, a small pre-fabriicated house of her own on one of the colony worlds, or baack in Federation space… I mean, if she’d want any of that. ::Delano chuckled softly. When someone looked at him, Evan just shrugged.:: Delano: You think she’d owe us one for saving her from certain death. Blake: Maybe not a house on the colony worlds. Something tells me the Coalition would gladly set us on fire for that. ::Roshanara leaned against the worktable with both arms, looking first to Walker and Sepek.:: Rahman: Continue to prepare the ship and the Falcon for the warp tow. Ensign Sepek, you'll be working with Commander Walker. Walker: We’ll get the Falcon ready to soar again Captain. ::chuckling:: Or at least be dragged with her wings open. Sepek: Understood captain. ::The captain then glanced over to Evan, Blake, and Mei’konda.:: Rahman: I want you- ::She stopped when her gaze met Delano’s.:: ::In that moment of hesitation, Evan knew exactly what she was thinking. He averted his eyes.:: ::Given how the man's previous interrogation of a prisoner had turned out, she decided to keep him away from a similar situation.:: Rahman: ...Commanders Blake and Mei'konda to head to sickbay and see if you can get our "guest" to talk. Blake: We're bribing her? Mei'konda: If it works, I suppose. Yes, Captain. Rahman: Feel free to offer incentives for her, but... ::She thought of the suggestions Mei'konda had made earlier about what they could offer the Klingon.::: Rahman: ...don't be afraid to use the stick with the carrot. ::A shorter prison sentence was also an incentive after all.:: Blake: We'll see. ::The Caitian shook his head.:: Mei'konda: We won’t be. Of courrse. Good cop, bad cop, riight? ::Good. They all had their tasks.:: ::Well, except...:: Rahman: Let's get some answers. Dismissed. ::As the other officers split off to their duties, Roshanara and Delano remained at the table.:: ::She looked to him.:: Delano: Shall I return to my quarters? Rahman: You should feel free to continue offering your insight, agent... on the bridge. Delano: But not in sickbay. Or the brig. ::The accusation in his voice wasn’t really fair, but the bitterness Evan felt was getting the better of him. That look she’d given him had been a visceral representation of all the frustration he’d felt about Starfleet since he’d left the Invicta.:: ::What he’d done had ultimately saved the president’s life. But even that consolation wasn’t enough to make him feel good about what had happened. And, perhaps worst of all, a part of him would still be tempted to do it again, if the circumstances were the same. He’d grown so much in the last year, but a part of him feared he was still unworthy of the uniform he’d put aside. Perhaps that’s why it had felt so uncomfortable. And why he’d chosen the civilian clothing now.:: ::She took a breath.:: Rahman: ...let's go to my ready room. :: Evan nodded, pausing just long enough to save his work and log off his partition. :: Delano: After you, Captain. ::She led the way as they walked off the bridge into the small office.:: ((Captain’s Ready Room)) :: She didn’t waste time once the doors were shut behind them. She turned, and faced him with that stern captain’s expression he’d seen a few times since he’d come aboard. :: Rahman: You had further questions, agent? ::The man in front of her took a long breath before he spoke.:: :: Evan bit back a sarcastic response and instead focused on the imagery exercises the Reya-Laialara often employed to control strong outbursts of emotion. He saw himself on a mountain. He could feel the wind and the cold, and see the clouds below, but he did not need to do more than acknowledge they were there. :: :: He took a deep breath, then spoke in a measured tone. :: Delano: I understand why you don’t want me interrogating a prisoner. If not for the Ross incident, then there would still be the simple fact that I'm not here in an official Starfleet capacity. ::She crossed her arms. He was right, although the matter was not quite as simple, actually. His capacity as a part of Federation Security might have privileged him to participate in the interrogation. The simple fact was the "Ross incident.":: ::She didn't say anything just yet, and so he continued.:: Delano: What concerns me is that you weren't willing to let me down there, even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room. ::She looked up at him. "Even with Blake and Mei'konda in the room," Delano stood at an impressive 191 cm, with the physicality to match his height. Standing here now in her ready room, he towered over her, with the top of her head barely reaching his shoulders.:: Rahman: You find that unreasonable? Delano: No. And I don’t blame you for being cautious. :: A part of him did blame her, and he suspected she would be able to recognize that small lie for what it was. Still, he was trying not to, and he hoped that counted for something. :: Delano: I just… I'm not sure I can be aboard this ship if every time something like this comes up, you look at me like I've just kicked your favorite puppy. Rahman: Nonsense. ::She kept her gaze on him.:: Rahman: You didn't kick a puppy. You assaulted a prisoner during an interrogation. I don't see any reason to place you in a position where that situation may occur again--and neither did Captain Kells, if you recall. ::She hadn't meant that last point as a jab, just a reminder that her hesitation to let him near a prisoner wasn't unprecedented.:: ::But it still felt a bit harsh. She took a deep breath herself.:: Rahman: I respect that you feel differently. And as we discussed after your court martial, I am willing to move forward since what happened with Ross. But it would be negligent of me to not take some precautions in light of what happened. ::She could see--and sense--the earnest frustration he was feeling.:: Delano: I am what I am. But, I've come a long way, if that matters. ::beat:: At the settlement, I felt like I was in a place where I could be myself without the pressure of always living up to this impossible Starfleet standard. ::The frustration he’d been feeling was bleeding into his voice, but he took a few measured breaths and let it slide down the mountain, acknowledged but not in control.:: Delano: I’m sorry, Captain. I'm not angry at you. I honestly thought I was passed this whole Ross thing. But whenever it comes up there's just this raw, gordian knot of emotion I can't seem to untangle. Not when I'm face to face with it, anyway. ::beat:: Maybe keeping me out of that interrogation was the right call. Rahman: You took an oath to uphold that standard. One that your colleagues did as well. And up until what happened back at Astrofori One, you *did* live up to that standard. Why is it impossible now? ::She frowned, genuinely interested in wanting to know more about what was behind that sliver of vulnerability he was showing her now.:: :: Evan looked back at her, blue eyes betraying his own uncertainty. :: Delano: I don’t know. ::He finally admitted.:: But Ross wasn’t the first time I’ve lost control. In some ways, I can’t help but think this was inevitable. Rahman: Did those at the settlement help you come to terms with what happened? Delano: In some ways. I never denied responsibility for what happened - that’s why I pleaded guilty. But, the Reya-Laialara helped me find a way to have control without resorting to a traditional Vulcan philosophy of stoicism and unfaltering logic. Rahman: You already know this, but perhaps it would help to talk with a counselor. Delano: Perhaps. :: He agreed. :: I’ve worked with counselors in the past. ::He left it at that, though the idea of sitting down with Raissa made him uncomfortable for some reason. He’d do it. But it wasn’t something he was looking forward to.:: ::She nodded.:: Rahman: I know. There is no magical fix. And even the ones we love can feel helpless when they're not sure what they can do to make things better. Delano: Sometimes there’s nothing they can do. For whatever it’s worth, I still appreciate the thought and effort. ::She leaned back against the edge of her desk, looking down for a moment towards Delano's shoes.:: Rahman: Maybe keeping you out of that interrogation was the right call, but maybe it was also unfair to you. You took responsibility for your actions, and you accepted the consequences. Delano: I tried. ::She raised her head back up to look at him, her arms still crossed in front of her.:: Rahman: I was telling your fiance when he first stepped aboard this vessel and walked through that door, asking to join the mission to find you... I told him about how even after you and I had agreed to try to work on moving forward together, I was disheartened to see first you and then him leave. I felt sorry again for having ever known Harrison Ross and for having asked you to conduct that interrogation. ::She had asked Delano to interrogate Ross because she'd been wary of her own ability to do so without being compromised. It was one of the few decisions in her career--like when she'd first invited Tristam to join her research--that had haunted her long after.:: Delano: It’s… a complicated situation. And I’m sorry for putting you through that. At the time, it seemed like leaving Invicta - and taking this assignment with Federation Security - was the best thing I could do to help you and the crew get past it. Rahman: Yet despite what we told ourselves in that last conversation, we obviously have not moved on. ::Taking a breath, the captain straightened, then took a step towards him. Evan felt the urge to stand up straighter and tuck his hands behind his back. He resisted the latter.:: Rahman: Only you can answer this question: how do you feel? How much have you changed? If you were back in that interrogation room with Ross as the man you are now, would things have happened differently?
 ::And of course, could she trust him? But that question remained unsaid.:: Delano: Honestly, Captain, I don’t know. I want to believe that it would be different. But… ::He paused, looking her in the eye. Finally, he resolved to be as open as he could about this. :: Delano: We needed the information Ross had. Lives were at stake. The integrity of the Federation itself was at risk. ::beat:: I let my anger and frustration take charge back in that cell. I’ll regret that for the rest of my life. That said - all emotion aside - there’s a part of me that can’t help but think that the end justified the means. ::She shook her head slightly. But he already knew what she was going to say. She’d said it at his court martial.:: Rahman: You know very well my thoughts on that line of thinking. ::Though he remained motionless, she could sense the emotional maelstrom that lay behind that cool Vulcanoid exterior.:: ::He took a carefully measured breath, allowing him a precious moment to collect his thoughts and to allow the emotion behind his voice to settle from boil to simmer.:: Delano: And, maybe that’s why I don’t belong in that uniform anymore. I’m not sure that I ever did. Rahman: That’s not what your academy instructors thought. It’s not what Captain Kells or I thought. ::She raised her eyebrow at him.:: Rahman: And it’s not what your fiancé thinks. Delano: I don’t think Mei’konda understands. He wants me to ask for you to reinstate me and give me a permanent posting here on Veritas. ::She looked back at him earnestly.:: Rahman: What do you want? Delano: I think… maybe I just need some time. We still haven’t figured out exactly how the Reya-Laialara are connected to Lenik, the Kos’karii, and Captain Carrero’s death. Until that’s resolved, I’ll help out however I can. Whether that means putting me at a station on the bridge, or keeping me below decks until you need me for something is your call. ::The captain seemed to consider that, though her body language made Evan think she was still somewhat uncomfortable with the direction the conversation had gone.:: ::She nodded, her arms still crossed in front of her.:: Rahman: I appreciate that. You and Commander Blake are the two most experienced individuals among my senior staff when it comes to this region. From what I gather, this isn’t just a short-term assignment, so I would value your expertise beyond just the current mission. Delano: What would that mean exactly? Rahman: We’ll work out the specifics later, but for now, you may consider yourself a bridge officer. Delano: I’m up-to-date on most of the Veritas specs. With the exception of what’s classified. ::The captain’s hands went to her hips.:: Rahman: I trust a refresher course in starship operations isn’t necessary? ::Evan suppressed a small chuckle, if only because he wasn’t 100% sure it was a joke.:: Delano: No, Captain. I think I’ll be fine. ::There was a momentary calm between them and Evan found himself straightening his posture.:: Rahman: Just focus on your job, and I think a path will reveal itself. Whether that’s back to Starfleet or to something else… well, only God or whomever you wish to attribute your fate knows. Delano: I’ll… try not to disappoint you. ::She looked at him for a moment, standing before her in his civilian clothing. And then, she took another step closer to him still, plucking the combadge from her chest and placing it over his left breast. After she finished adjusting it, she took a step back and looked back up at him.:: Rahman: Consider that a bit of a nudge towards one direction. :: Evan placed a hand on the warm metal, his fingertips finding the familiar points. :: Delano: Thank you, Captain. ::And finally, for the first time in a long while, she smiled at Delano.:: Rahman: Dismissed, agent. === Agent @Evan Delano Special Advisor, USS Veritas Writer ID: T239007ED0 & Capt. @Roshanara Rahman Commanding Officer, USS Veritas Writer ID: I238705TZ0
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