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Literary Challenge #46 : Risian Getaway

pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
edited July 2013 in Ten Forward
Hello and welcome to another edition of our writers' challenges! :cool:

Today we start the two-week run of the forty-sixth Literary Challenge: Risian Getaway
Write a Captain's Log entry about your experiences on Risa during the Lohlunat Festival. What did you do while you were there? Did you find anything interesting? Maybe met new friends? Let us know! (Just keep it appropriate ;))

This is the writer's thread -- only entries should be made here.
The Discussion Thread can be found HERE.
We also have an Index of previous challenges HERE.

The rules may change from one challenge to another, but I'd like to remind everyone what the base rules are. These may grow as we move on, so also feel free to give feedback!
  • Each Challenge will run for two weeks. For 2 weeks we will sticky the challenge and let you make your entry.
  • There are no right or wrong entry.
  • The background story, questions I ask, and format requested are only to serve as a platform that you can start your writing from. Feel free to change up the back-story or the way you deliver, as long as the entry stays on topic of the original challenge.
  • Write as little or as much as you would like.
  • Please keep discussion about the entries in the appropriate Discussion Thread.
  • In the Discussion Thread, feel free to write what inspired you and what your thoughts on the topic are.
  • A few other important reminders:
    • Please heed the rest of the forum's rules when submitting your entry! All of them apply to these posts.
    • Each poster can have one entry. Feel free to edit your post to fix typos or add/ remove content as you see fit during the next two weeks.
    • After two weeks time, the thread will be unstickied, as we move on to the next challenge.
    • We'll have two threads: One to post the entries in and one to discuss the entries. **Cross-linking between these two threads is acceptable for these challenges ONLY!!**
Post edited by pwebranflakes on

Comments

  • selenelangofeselenelangofe Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Langofe sighed, glancing over the PADD, placing her head on the rest of the beach chair. The Risian suns were just dipping over the horizon, purple hues wisping themselves across the sky in announcement of night. Laughter and soft chatter filled the air from the locals and occasional Starfleet Officer as they set up fire pits.

    Dozing off, the Augmented Captain jumped at the touch of a hand on her shoulder. Pulling her shades off, she smiled at the intruder.

    "Do I know you stranger?" She teased, moving her feet so they could sit.

    The other looked at her in surprise, "It's me, David?"

    She placed her hand on her forehead, pretending to think, "Hmmm, got nothing."

    David chuckled, taking a sip from his cocktail, looking over his shoulder at the night sky in slight awe.

    "Don't got that space," He murmured.

    "Fireworks?"

    "Nah, simplicity," He replied, swirling the contents of his drink around in the lute of a glass, contemplating something.

    Langofe watched him with a concerned look, personal thoughts about the past week of odd behavior. Both had come to Risa with the rest of their fleet and had enjoyed zooming around the island and late night parties together. After a moment, David jumped up, waking her sehlat who sleep quietly next to her.

    "Come on," He demanded, pulling her off the beach chair.

    "Where we going?" Langofe asked confusedly, reaching for her PADD.

    "Dance Party," He told over his shoulder.

    She buried her feet in the sand, "I hate dancing."

    A grin appeared on his face, "Come on pointy-ears, you know you dance."

    Langofe folded her arms, pointed brow rose in question, "What makes you think that?"

    ?Neva told me,? David replied with a shrug, grabbing her wrist again, dragging her to the dance platform.

    "****," She muttered under her breath, then louder so David could hear, "It was a late night decision, already had a round of Long Island Ice Teas."

    David laughed, jumping on the platform, "It's easy."

    She shook her head reluctantly, waving off her overly-protective sehlat, "Alright, le's see what ya got."
    ya gotta be jokin' kidding me....
  • darthgranicdarthgranic Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    This was written originally for Priority One Podcast to be feature as a guest blog. Its currently going through their channels to be feature. Its meant to be informative as a wiki and entertaining as holo novel.
    Please feel free to message me with any feedback this is my first time writing something for non-academic reasons.

    Red name of the accolades required for Master Relaxer(MR)
    Yellow is telling how to get the accolade
    Green other key parts of Risa and accolades not required for MR


    Captain's Personal Log
    Stardate: 86516.66

    After six months in the Tau Dewa Sector Block helping the Young Romulan Republic secure a new homeworld providing across the board assistance. The Le-Matya was ordered to spend two weeks at Starbase 12 to undergo repairs and maintenance to better outfit our ship to counter the new Elachi threat. At the same time the Le-Matya was to be in dock. We were ordered by Fleet to take a mandatory shore leave with starbase staff responsible for repairs and updates. Not wanting to have disobeyed a lawful order and not be too far from the Le-Matya I chose to go from what I heard from a holoterminal to be the gem of the sector, Risa, advertising the Lohlunat:Festival of the Moon to take my R&R. I took the Mississippi, a runabout assigned to Starbase 12, in cased there was a need for me to handle any emergencies instead of waiting for the Risa Express.

    I arrived at Risa with no problems at approximately 1500 Zeta setting down at a Starfleet hanger in the Risan Capital of Nuvia. From there, I made my way through the Federation Embassy to be transported to Suraya Bay. Soon as I transported into the Bay I was greeted warmly by the locals to take part in their festival. As "I walked the boardwalk". I received an accolade from beautiful Risian Woman on my way to the Floater Vendor. I reached the Festival's Coordinator and she gave me a Lohlunat Favor; I assumed that the Lohlunat is a name of the primary moon or its god from Risian Mythology. I will leave that for future conjecture. I took the Lohlunat Favor as advised and used it to start a reputation program that will evenly let me win a Risian Corvette. I was told this could be done by earning Lohlunat Pearl either participating in "Flying High" event with a floater or turning in Lobi Crystals. After hearing this I couldn't help to be "On Looker" of a Trill and Klingon arguing about what couples typically argue over. I made my way to the hotel after I got my floater. After I checked into my room. I went and scouted out the dance floor. On my way I bumped into the coordinator of Horga'hn Hunts. He told me that the Horga'hn Hunts start 15 and 45 after of every hour. He mentioned that tourists occasionally lose these statuettes which the hunt is named after and that if I recover 10 I them I could receive 25 Lohiunat Favors, not counting the favors would I find in the wild, which I could use to purchase souvenirs, outfits, local beverages, and cuisines. I participated wishing to get a high performance floater, little did I know these Horga'hn are symbols of Risian fertility and to display one is to seek Jamaharon. Which is a Risian Fertility Ritual I will leave to the imagination. Which ,needless to say, created few awkward conversations especially when I met up with the dance instructor. In not so many words, we settle on dancing instead of Jamaharon, she taught me how to "Samba". She invited me back later to dance at the top or bottom of the hour when I had time and I could earn up to 25 favors depending how long and how well I moved. I told her I would be at the next dance and after dancing for the full thing I discover how to do the advance samba to become a "Samba Master". After dancing and dinner with a beautiful Risian, she invited me to join her on the piers for the firework show. We followed the crowd to the piers and waited for the show to begin with my fellow "Fireworks Observers". Soon after the night sky was almost turned into day with the brilliant display. After the lights faded, show ended, and the crowd dissipated, we made our way to the dabo table. Picking the numbers 4,11,22 I managed to win 100,000 bars of GPL. With my lucky girl and horga'hn leading the way. We made our way to an "Unauthorized Beach Party" on the east side of the island to live the night away.

    The next morning I woke up with both extremes of a good night and I had a cup of Earl Grey and Risian Mai-Tai to pick me up. I decided to spend some of that Latinum buying all the awesome Risian shades. With my new shades and floater, I set off to explore more of the Suraya Bay. Not being much of a bird watcher, I could not help but to follow the beautiful flock of Risan birds around the island stopping at some of the best views and high points of the island making "The Big Year" so small and frivolous. The Horga'hn Hunt coordinator chimed in and asked if I could pick up a few Horga'hn on my way back to the hotel. Trying to get done as soon as possible with the hunt, I took few shortcuts under a couple of arches feeling I had some "Arc Flight Mastery" from following the birds. Then, I made my way up to the top of the old volcano instead of flying around it. There at the highest peak I heard myself say, "Why are you flying over a volcano?" After that, I made my way down to the hotel to turn the Horga'hns I found in for some favors. On my way down, I landed on the roof spotting some "Risa Roofers" hard at work setting up subspace party amplifiers. Finishing the hunt again, I picked another Risian Flower who happen to be ornithologist who raises Risian birds from an egg to adulthood with the assistance of duty officers to be turned in for marks of your choice. She wanted to show me her favorite places to bird watch at the tops of the lighthouses. While flying over the beach, we met a friend named Pavyl who invited us to play a game of exploration to see the places that aren't on brochures and offer accolades as rewards for being more than "TRIBBLE Packers" as we would say on Earth. On our way over to the second lighthouse, we noticed some Klingons were doing some Mok'Bara we tried to join them, but the "Practitioner of Mok'Bara" " Denied Mok'Bara" us or me at least, since I was Starfleet. The puzzling part was Risa is a Federation world. If they have such disdain for us ,why are they here? Not wanting to spoil my Risian Flower's mood we continued onto the second lighthouse. "We lightly landed on a Lighthouse" and soaked in the view of the two suns and two moons as I became the "Master Relaxer".

    Now, back aboard the Mississippi. I am refresh and look forward to taking on Elachi, the Unknown, and everything the galaxy as to offer.

    Computer End Recording

    P.S. Pavyl Accolades are not needed for Master Relaxer

    Out of Game Sources:
    http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Risa
    http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Risa
    http://sto.gamepedia.com/Risa
  • grylakgrylak Member Posts: 1,572 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Personal Log.


    I left the Sentinel at Serenity Station and made my way to Risa for the Laluhanuit festival. That's not what it's really called, but it's as close as I can pronounce it.



    As the Evanescence, the runabout I took from Sentinel, arrived in the system, I noticed a blip on the sensors. There is heavy traffic in the system, and I don't think anyone noticed it. However, I decided to investigate it. The Evanescence made her way to the larger moon where I took up a geostationary orbit over the Northern Pole. Sensors picked up very minute gravity distortions which required a closer look.



    As the ship closed in on the surface of the moon, there was a sudden shift in position. No light or sensation accompanied it. One moment, I was closing in on the surface, the next, I was over a hundred kilometers above the moons. Sensors put my position..... and this is where it gets weird. Sensors put my position as 'off the map'. They couldn't position me in relation to the rest of the star system.


    I attempted to get back to the planet but suddenly everything went blue. Space surrounding me was a monotone blue. I don't know how it happened, but sensors couldn't pick up anything. And by that, I mean the sensors were literally showing nothing. No planet. No moon. No dust particles. Not even a quantumn signature. It was as if I had somehow ended up in a..... a pocket dimension of nothing. I've heard stories of such a place referred to as 'Blue Hell', and requires some kind of cheating to get out of, but I never thought I would experience it myself. However, my fascination was short lived, as I discovered warp drive was offline. The impulse engines would engage, but there was no evidence I was moving. There was no frame of reference to head for.



    I'm attempting to link the engines via the subspace comms array to establish a lock on with the transwarp gate at Serenity Station. Hopefully, that will open a transwarp gate that will allow me to get back to normal space. If it does, I intend to bring the Sentinel back here to perform a full analysis of Blue Hell. If it doesn't work.... I need to think of something else.



    Well, here goes nothing...
    *******************************************

    A Romulan Strike Team, Missing Farmers and an ancient base on a Klingon Border world. But what connects them? Find out in my First Foundary mission: 'The Jeroan Farmer Escapade'
  • kaaskrulkaaskrul Member Posts: 37 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Captains Log star date: 81827.1
    after 9 months of attacking Klingon outposts i have been relieved of command by my chief medical officer because according to her my judgement is impaired because of the Klingon's killing my Number one i have yet to fill in a replacement but i decided to take a LONG earned break from Fighting and go to risa(it was better than being forced to go to earth and spend life there). When i was there i met Hundreds of new people but then came my Fear of the Gorn again they ate my Parents so after 5 hours of hiding from them i continued on my holiday Pyvel was a rothon person who contuinally made me chase him off according to him he is in love with me so after having him arrested i relaxed again but this time with my Favoret Phaser( i know it was illegal but i did get permission from the head of Security at risa)
    i met a old friend there by the name of lt. Monro he was a old friend he was the head to the Hazard team back when voyager was in the Delta Quadrent a was old he tought me all i know he even asked if he could join my Crew and i accepted but atleast the Romulans were on our side because he hated them
    computer End the Log
  • patchouli19patchouli19 Member Posts: 15 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Captain's Personal Log:

    I have been ordered to Risa for relaxation. As much as I appreciate time to myself, I have this nagging feeling that I need to be on the battlefield. It's not exactly unusual for me, but with the Interstellar Concordium advancing its front and the constant violent clashes between the Lyrans and Mirak getting closer and closer to civilian worlds, I'm just not comfortable with this. Maybe I should just go stretch my legs a little. It's been a while since I've been on a jog without people shooting at me. And besides, the crew of the
    Patriot can use a little shore leave.

    Captain Julia McMillan stepped outside the Risan resort, her grey oval sunglasses protecting her eyes from the binary suns' light. Bending down, she grasped her ankles stretching out her well toned legs. Taking her time as she continued her stretching routine.

    "Captain!"

    She turned, brushing her hand through her auburn bob, "Commander Dorvala..."

    The Vorta woman strutted toward her commanding officer, sporting a near identical set of tank top and running shorts as her captain, "Going out for a jog, Sir?"

    A chuckle, "Dorvala, we're on shore leave. You don't have to use formalities."

    After stretching her back out a little more, she added, "Ahh, and yes, I am."

    Taking a spot in the sand next to McMillan, Dorvala tied her long jet black hair back in a tight ponytail, "Well, Julie, do you have room for one more?"

    Lowering her sunglasses, McMillan gave the Vorta a sly smile and said, "Well, it depends. Do you think you can keep up?"

    Dorvala bent her head back laughing merrily, "Julie, how long have we trained together, since our time in MACO?"

    Looking into McMillan's light green eyes, she gave a toothy grin, "Looking back to then, I think I can do that and more."

    Smirking, McMillan brought her sunglasses back up, "Alright then...let's go."

    Instantly, the two of them dashed across the Risan beach. Dodging vacationers and natives as they sprinted side by side.


    The sun wasn't even setting as they scaled the nearby cliff overlooking the resort. Reaching the edge, the two of them looked at each other, laughing between gasps.

    "It's been...quite a while since I've run that hard..." McMillan said.

    After regaining her breath, Dorvala replied, "Tell me about it."

    They both looked down at the beach. People were talking and laughing amongst themselves. Enjoying the paradise Risa had to offer.

    "You know, it's amazing what a little bit of paradise can do to a person."

    Dorvala turned to McMillan, her violet eyes twinkling curiously, "What do you mean?"

    McMillan smiled, "It kinda makes you forget about forget about everything. Well, everything except how to have a good time."

    Chuckling lightly, Dorvala shook her head, "Aw come on, Julie. Don't you enjoy it? You can't be focused on duty forever."

    "It took me a little bit," McMillan said with a wide grin, "but yeah, I think I can get used to it."

    She walked over to Dorvala, grasping her shoulder, "Come on, let's head back to the resort. I'll even treat you to dinner."

    The Vorta grabbed McMillan's hand, letting the captain pull her along, "That sounds like a good time to me."


    Twin moons hung in the night sky over the Risan cafe. The terrace was littered with numerous diners chatting with each other about whatever. Meanwhile, McMillan, dressed in her favorite strapless black satin dress, and Dorvala, in her traditional light blue Vorta robes, sat at the edge of the balcony, looking out to the moonlit beach.

    Pouring a glass of spring wine, McMillan said, "Well, it's been good to finally get some personal time with you, Dorvala."

    Dorvala rested her chin on her hands, "See, Julie, a little vacation time isn't that bad," she said teasingly.

    The captain merely smiled, handing Dorvala her glass, "I do have to admit, you're right."

    "Tell me something I don't know."

    The two of them laughed, "Okay, fine. I had some fun. Happy?"

    Taking a small sip of wine, the Vorta paused to think, "Let's go with...moderately satisfied."

    McMillan tipped her glass toward Dorvala, "I'll accept that."

    Their glasses tinked as Dorvala tipped hers as well. The two of them chatted some more, talking about numerous topics, ranging from the weather to plans for the next day.

    "Well," Dorvala said, "We never really got a chance to join in the dance party today. Maybe we should..."

    Her voice trailed off, looking around her. Numerous Starfleet personnel were standing up, hastily leaving the cafe. McMillan seemed to notice the phenomena as well, "What's going..."

    Before she could finish her query, her tricorder emitted several shrill beeps.

    Dorvala quirked an eyebrow, "Looks like we're about to find out."

    "Yeah..." The captain flipped open the device. Her eyes scanning a recently received message, "Directly from Starfleet Command...?"

    Dorvala's face creased with worry, "That can't be any good."

    She was shushed by raised finger from McMillan. Her eyes darted back and forth across the tricorder's screen, and then she stopped, her eyes growing to the size of saucer plates.

    "Oh my God..."

    Dorvala stood from her seat, walking over to the human, "Julia?"

    McMillan shuddered, you could practically see her mind working looking at her.

    The Vorta reached out, placing her hand on McMillan's bare shoulder, "Julia, what is it?"

    McMillan stopped, her eye's narrowing, "Get in uniform, shore leave's over."

    Dorvala stepped back, her mouth agape, "What?"

    "You heard me," her voice was sharp, "get dressed. We're heading back to the Patriot."

    "The Patriot? Julia, come on. Can you at least tell me what's going on?"

    McMillan nodded, "I'll brief you on the way back to our room."


    Starfleet officers practically formed a river through the Risan resort, the sound of their voices supplementing the torrent.

    McMillan marched into the resort, Dorvala barely keeping up with her captain, "Sir, what's going on? Why is everyone all antsy all the sudden?"

    "It's just what I thought," She muttered, "right as soon as the best Captains are busy enjoying the distractions of Risa, they strike."

    Dorvala stopped, then rushed back to McMillan's side, "Captain, who struck? What are you talking about?!"

    Now McMillan stopped, almost causing Dorvala to overshoot.

    McMillan looked up into Dorvala's eyes, her own narrowed into daggers, "It's the Interstellar Concordium, they've launched a full scale invasion into the Briar Patch. The first line of defense fell within five minutes and if we don't hurry, so will the rest of the patch."

    Time stood still around the two. Despite McMillan's hardened look, Dorvala could detect a quiver in her Captain's voice, "Oh my. You're not...you're not serious, are you?"

    Not an inch of McMillan's face moved, and Dorvala shook her head, eyes wide open.

    McMillan marched ahead, "We need to hurry. We can't afford to delay any longer."

    Gulping, Dorvala nodded, "Yes, Sir!"
  • marcusdkanemarcusdkane Member Posts: 7,439 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    - Author's note: H'mL'n's message is provided courtesy of sander233.

    Some people stand in the darkness
    Afraid to step into the light
    Some people need
    To help somebody
    When the edge of surrender's in sight
    Don't you worry
    It's gonna be alright

    Cause I'm always ready
    I won't let you out of my sight


    I'll be ready
    I'll be ready
    Never you fear
    No don't you fear
    I'll be ready
    Forever and always
    I'm always here


    In us we all have the power
    But sometimes it's so hard to see
    An instinct is stronger than reason
    It's just human nature to me
    Don't you worry
    It's gonna be alright

    Cause I'm always ready
    I won't let you out of my sight


    I'll be ready
    I'll be ready
    Never you fear
    No don't you fear
    I'll be ready
    Forever and always
    I'm always here


    Cause I'm always ready
    I won't let you out of my sight
    No

    I'll be ready
    I'll be ready
    Never you fear
    No don't you fear
    I'll be ready
    Forever and always
    I'm always here
    Forever and always
    I'm always here


    Jimi Jamison - I'm Always Here


    Lines in the Sand


    From his vantage point on the guard tower, Sam Yates looked out over Suraya bay, his eyes scanning the shoreline for signs of anyone in trouble. Just another day at the beach... Sam thought, his eyes taking in the multitude of tourists enjoying the heat from Risas twin suns. If it was not for the myriad alien faces, he could have been back on Will Rogers Beach in LA, back in 1993, working alongside Mitch, Craig and Cort, but that electrical storm surrounding tower twelve had changed all that.

    At least, 'electrical storm' was the way Sam had described what they explained to him had been a 'free floating chronometric cascade'. The people at Starfleet had been as helpful as possible in assisting him with his temporal dislocation, but there was only so much they could do to help someone who's only goal had been to be a lifeguard. He had no higher education beyond his high school diploma -- he had never thought he would need it. He had only basic military training from his national service -- he had only intended to serve by helping others in need, and no other skills which could realistically qualify him for any kind of service aboard a starship. Oh sure, he had a keen eye, the ability to act without hesitation when someone was in danger, and the medical knowledge equivalent to that of a first year medic, but that simply didn't meet Starfleet's requirements, nor did Sam expect to. He was no intellectual slouch -- he had read Dostoyevsky and Nietzsche, but he accepted that in the 25th Century, with nearly five hundred years of scientific and cultural advances, since he last sat in a class room, he was quite simply out of his league.

    Until one of the counsellors assigned to help his integration mentioned Risa: Sand, sea and surf, those were the things he knew, things which were unchanged. Of course, he could have remained on Earth as a lifeguard, but that was too much a constant reminder that everyone he had ever known and loved was dead, that history recorded him as dead, when the 'electrical storm' had blown up tower twelve, and that he now lived in a world in which he simply could not participate on an equal footing. Risa was something different though, where if he pretended just a little, he could simply be on vacation somewhere exotic, but where the basics remained the same: The sand was the sand, the water was the water, and the suns kept things hot. As back in the nineties, the beach was the great equaliser.

    A Human girl in a sky-blue bikini with honey-blonde hair piled high on her head and an incredible figure, walked passed the ramp to his tower and smiled at him. The Vulcan female beside her was smaller busted, but equally toned. She wore a bikini of deep emerald green, and had a swirling tattoo on the side of her ribs which Sam recognised as writing. She dipped her head in acknowledgement, and Sam nodded back to them. Wether they were colleagues, friends, lovers or any permutation therein made no difference on Risa, nor to Sam, who had grown accustomed to the extremely open-minded customs of the locals, almost like working the beach in Rio, where male, female or even TRIBBLE made no difference: Beauty was beauty whatever form it wore, and these two young women were most certainly beautiful.

    "Ladies," he politely greeted them, before returning his attention to the crashing surf. Just another day at the beach...
    ******

    Captain Amanda Palmer stepped out of the turbolift on deck four, and headed towards transporter room two. From the opposing end of the corridor, she saw Ensign Tilly Campbell-Black and Ensign T'Natra approaching her. Rather than their uniforms, both young women wore skimpy bathing suits, and T'Natra carried a reasonably sized drinks cooler.

    "We were just heading down to the surface, Captain," Tilly began to explain. "We didn't want to book into a hotel, just to visit Suraya bay for the day. I didn't think we'd see anyone else in the corridor."

    "I didn't think you were heading to the mess hall dressed like that," Palmer quipped, before frowning mildly. "Miss Campbell-Black, I haven't seen you properly since we launched. Let me see..."

    Tilly knew exactly what Palmer was referring to, and stepping closer to the Captain, lifted her face slightly toward the taller woman.

    Palmer lightly took hold of her chin, gently tilting her head left, then right.

    "They've done a good job," she remarked, dropping her hand. "I'd never know your nose had been broken. How is your ankle?"

    "Thank you, ma'am," Tilly replied. "That's fine too, thank you for asking. Doctor Kincaid did a great job."

    Palmer nodded, before turning to T'Natra.

    "And you, Miss T'Natra? How is the dermal regeneration settling?"

    "Only minor irritation, thank you, Captain," replied the Vulcan navigator. "I am making every effort not to scratch. Are you also visiting the surface?"

    "I am," Palmer replied, gesturing for the two ensigns to precede her into the transporter room. Damn, what an TRIBBLE... she thought, as Tilly hopped lightly onto the transporter platform. Looking to Chief Petty Officer th'Shaan, who appeared utterly unfazed by the amount of bare flesh in front of him, she said: "Set me down in the middle of Nuvia, and the ensigns at Suraya bay."

    "Aye, Captain," the Andorian acknowledged. "Targets locked."

    "Energise," Palmer ordered, and moments later, found herself on a bustling sidewalk. Crossing to a yellow-painted landskimmer, she climbed into the passenger compartment and addressed the autopilot. "Take me to the nearest Turkish bath..."
    ******

    Settling herself, Tilly gasped as the heated sand contacted her buttocks. Gradually, she reclined completely, resting her head on a rolled towel, and allowing the heat to seep into her back and limbs.

    "Do you have a sufficient view of the tower?" T'Natra enquired, laying down beside her roommate and opening the drinks cooler.

    "Oh I think so," Tilly replied, popping the lid of a can of RedTarg, and sipping the chilled beverage as she ogled the muscular lifeguard from behind her aviator-style sunglasses.
    ***

    Sitting at a conference table, Ahd'r I'sH'd watched as S'rR's Kane drummed her fingertips against the smooth surface.

    Try as he might, he could not get used to her clawless-fingers, and the clear nails were a morbid fascination he could not look away from, no matter how they unsettled him.

    "You're staring again, Ahd'r..." S'rR's observed, not lifting her gaze from her PADD as she correlated files between some strewn across the desk, and another held by Claire, the holographic avatar of the USS Vanguard's AI computer.

    "My apologies, Ambassador," he immediately replied. "I'm still getting used to -- it's unsettling to see a Pentaxian without claws..."

    While continuing to read from the PADD held before her, S'rR's rested her hand flat on the stack of PADDs.

    I'sH'd watched silently as she spread her fingers, then pulled the middle fingers together, and from between the outer fingers, two ten inch long claws sprang into place like organic blades.

    "G'ron'sh!" I'sH'd hissed as he shot to his feet in horror, barely retaining control of his bladder and bowel. F**k!

    S'rR's looked up, a mixture of amusement and sadness in her eyes. Amusement at I'sH'd's dramatic reaction, sadness at the inevitability of it

    "I have claws," she said quietly, relaxing the voluntary muscles and retracting the claws. As the tips retracted back into her hand, the cuts between her fingers immediately healed.

    "I apologise, Ambassador. I meant no offence," I'sH'd assured her, lowering himself somewhat unsteadily back into his chair. He was now utterly unable to take his eyes from her hand. It looked just like any Terran woman's hand: Delicate, long slender fingers, absolutely no sign whatsoever of the monstrous bone blades which lay within. They had looked like double-edged ivory knives! Capable of inflicting as much, if not more, damage than the s'ada, his honor blade, sheathed at his waist. "I knew that you could heal injuries, but was not aware that you were-"

    "So different? The term you are looking for, Ahd'r, is 'modified'," S'rR's clarified. "I'm just a genetic experiment who was lucky enough to win the Empress' pity and patronage."

    I'sH'd shook his head, looking down in shame.

    "I incorrectly assumed you were a half-breed resulting from a Human taking one of our females, I did not realise that this was done to you intentionally."

    "Well, now you know..." S'rR's replied, using both thumbs now to type rapidly on her PADD. "The Humans have a saying 'to assume makes an TRIBBLE out of you and me'," her tone was light, indicating she considered the subject was closed.

    I'sH'd nodded silently. If I can accept Alyosha as a friend, is this truly any different? He thought, recalling the Russian captain who had really been a Devidian, raised to always wear a Human form. If he could overcome his instincts and behave with decency rather than feasting on his crew, like his ravenous blood-kin would, I can do no differently...

    "I'm surprised you didn't want to go down to the surface with Commander Bowen," I'sH'd observed, intentionally trying to lighten the mood.

    Raising her gaze from her PADD, S'rR's raised an eyebrow.

    "You would have let us go to the beach unaccompanied?" she asked.

    "Of course not," I'sH'd replied. "I would have accompanied you to ensure your safety. Given the amount of visiting captains, this is the ideal place for covert operations, and who knows what other debauched scum may lurk there to pray on the unsuspecting."

    "Risian custom does not permit the carrying of weapons," S'rR's observed, tapping a quick notation into the screen, before tossing the PADD down and taking another from Claire. "And I know you would have refused to relinquish your sword. No, I think I'll pass on this visit, and let Mel get her jamaharon on by herself. We have a fine view of the planet from here. This is why I insisted on my office and my quarters being on the port side of the ship: I always get to see any planets visited."

    "Ambassador," said Claire. "You have an incoming communique. It is from Lieutenant H'mL'n."

    "Put it on my PADD, Claire," S'rR's replied with a sigh. "I wonder who's offended her this time..."

    Claire pointed her finger at S'rR's' PADD like an old fashioned handgun, tweaked her thumb, and the message filled the screen.

    From:
    Lt. H'mL'n, senior tactical officer, USS
    Hammerhead

    Salutations, Empress -

    By now you will have heard from Ambassador S'rR's of the Battle of Moab in which I took part. I've attached Admiral LaRoca's official After-Action Report which will give you a better idea of the actual casualties the system suffered.

    The ship on which I served, the USS Tiburon, was severely damaged in the attack and is now being towed to [REDACTED - TRIBBLE - CLASSIFIED] for refitting. The Admiral has temporarily transferred his flag to the USS Hammerhead. Much like our own patrol ships, the Hammerhead is compact and heavily-armed. I am receiving instruction in the tactical systems from Commander th'Ibear, whose species, the Andorians, designed the hull and weapons complement.

    I received serious injuries during the battle when the Tiburon was boarded by enemy forces. The ship's surgeon, Doctor Espinoza, proved to be most adept and reasonably knowledgeable concerning our anatomy and was able to treat me. The instruments she replicated for my surgery were somewhat crude, but effective nonetheless. I am now recovered fully.

    Commander Traa'cee, the Vulcan I was called in to replace, apparently died a week before the battle, having never woken up from her coma, so Admiral LaRoca has requested that I continue to serve in his Consular Operations Task Force for the duration of my exchange term. I have agreed.

    On a personal note, I have discovered thanks to the Admiral that not all Human food is as bland as it first appears. Although the crew is in poor spirits following the losses sustained in the battle, I am making friends and doing my best to uphold and promote Pentaxian culture.

    Thank you once again for honoring me with this assignment.

    Your humble servant,
    - H'mL'n h'lL'r Z'ln'ya


    "It would appear our cultural exchange officer is finally settling in," S'rR's mused, forwarding the message to the private server of Empress Ch'K'rr.
    ***

    Palmer entered the white and blue-tiled steam room of the Turkish bath and discretely looked about.

    Through the swirling mists, she could see naked women of various ages and races: Mostly Humans, but also, Risians, Bolians, Cardassians, even a handful of Vulcans and Orions. Some were engaging in conversation, reclining around low tables with platters of fruits and various beverages. Others were bathing in the cold pool, some lay on tiled shelves, and others openly made love to each other, making no attempt to hide their carnal behaviour from their fellow bathers. Cries and moans of pleasure echoed lazily from the tiled walls.

    When on Risa... Palmer thought, as her lips curled into a predatory smile, the cab had definitely brought her to the right place. Indeed, such a venue was a better way to sate her longings than drooling over pretty ensigns in the corridor... She had learned early in her career that relationships with other officers rarely ended well, and as the captain of a starship, a relationship with any of her crew was out of the question. For Palmer, places like this were the only time she could truly let her hair down and indulge herself. As she padded across the slick tiles to an unoccupied shelf, she could feel the gaze of others upon her. Daily workouts in the ship's gym ensured her slender form remained perfectly toned. For a woman nearing fifty years, she knew she had a good body, and was not ashamed to show it.

    She not been sitting for more than a few moments when a slender woman with wavy chestnut hair approached her.

    "Are you here for the Lohlunat festival?" she asked, sliding onto the shelf beside Palmer, and extending her hand.

    "Among other things," Palmer replied, accepting the offered hand. "I'm Amanda."

    "I'm Renata," replied the woman. "I saw your tattoos when you came in, and thought you looked -- interesting... This is a beautiful design..." she brushed her fingers across the black ink chain looping round the middle of Palmer's right forearm above an ornate cameo.

    "That one's new..." Palmer admitted as the light touch on the still-sensitive skin sent a shiver up her arm. "It's a representation of a necklace I inherited from my grandmother, but recently lost..."

    Renata's gaze rose to the arrowhead-shaped tattoo above Palmer's left breast, where a Starfleet comm badge would be affixed to a jacket. Inside the delta-shaped outline, was the stylised form of a mako shark.

    "You don't look like a commando," she observed.

    Palmer shook her head.

    "Command division," she replied, impressed that Renata recognised the MACO insignia. "I had that done over twenty years ago, after completing advanced tactical training."

    "This one must have a very interesting story," Renata murmured, reaching round to let the fingers of her left hand rest at the base of Palmer's spine, where a winged-Cardassian Sentinel blended into the Klingon trefoil. "

    "Ahh, that's classified," Palmer replied truthfully, recalling the covert mission beyond the quantum barrier, and feeling a shiver run down her spine which had nothing to do with the other woman's touch.

    "That's a shame," Renata sighed, but not removing her hand. "Perhaps you would like to come for a drink in my hotel room? It's just a few minutes walk down the street..."

    "That would be perfect," Palmer replied with a smile, still holding Renata's hand and rising from the bench.
    ***

    "We're out of RedTarg," Tilly said, reaching her hand into the drinks cooler and feeling only crushed empties and melted ice.

    "Paying local prices would be illogical when we could simply return to the Vanguard and replicate more," T'Natra observed.

    Tilly sighed.

    "I suppose we ought to be returning to the ship," she replied. "We did tell the captain we were only coming down for the day, and we've both got the early shift tomorrow."

    "Indeed we do," T'Natra agreed. "Although we could always return after our shifts finish. Perhaps you should invite the Ahd'r to join us..."

    Tilly's mouth dropped open.

    "He'd never agree," she insisted as they passed the lifeguard tower. "But what a thought!"

    "I hope you had a good day, ladies," Sam said as the Human and Vulcan beauties passed him, to which they nodded and waved. With a content sigh, Sam watched the suns begin to dip toward the horizon. Just another day at the beach...
    ***

    Fin
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  • shevetshevet Member Posts: 1,644 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Personal log: Tylha Shohl

    Wind whistles over my antennae, dragging my ponytail out like a white banner behind me, as I accelerate over the sea. I flick the controls, and the floater descends, until my bare feet touch the crystal waters, sending up rooster-tails of spray as I speed on. The breeze, and the spray, combine to make me feel, briefly, cool again. I smile.

    Risa is lovely... but so damned hot.

    The racing-grade floater is an extravagance, an indulgence... I've done so many scheduled events, dancing and hunting for horga'hn statuettes in the jungle... it feels good just to get away, to hurtle over the sea by myself, or take the floater up to its maximum height and gaze down at the caldera of the old volcano, a green jewel in the glittering sea....

    The floater beeps politely in my ear. The backpack is down to five per cent charge; time for me to take it back to the resort, unless I want an unscheduled swim. I turn back towards the beach. I'm not really dressed for swimming - I found a pair of white shorts, and a Ferengi entrepreneur's jacket in red, which Klerupiru, the Ferengi traditionalist, says is completely inappropriate for a female. Even on Risa, though, I'm not dressing in traditional Ferengi style.

    Beneath my feet, glass-clear shallow water gives way to dazzling white sand. I slow down for a graceful landing on the beach, and pause for a moment, adjusting to the heat. I wiggle my toes in the soft sand. The resort is not a long way off; I decide to walk back. The floater doesn't weigh all that much, and it's a nice day for a walk. Of course, it's always a nice day on Risa.

    It's so hot, though. Once the floater's recharged, I will make my next flight at night, I think, under the light of the twin moons. People do that; you can see the white lights of the floaters' propulsors, winking like fireflies deep in the night.

    I hum an old Tellarite marching song, quietly, as I walk along the beach.

    There is a hooting sound in the air above me; I glance up. Someone is flying overhead, using a standard low-powered rental floater. I give them an amiable wave. The floater swings round, and the flier seems to study me briefly. It's a humanoid female, pink-skinned and dark-haired - I have an impression of Vulcan pointed ears behind her mirrored visor. She waves back, turns, and shoots away.

    I don't give it another thought as I walk back to the resort.

    ---

    "Dh'syara tunnel wine," I say.

    "What is ours, is yours," the Risian hospitality officer murmurs, but she frowns faintly. "It... will have to be replicated, I'm afraid. We don't have enough... um, enough interest... to keep stock on hand -"

    "That's fine," I say. "It's - kind of a specialist taste, I guess."

    She smiles and turns away. I look around the bar. It's not busy, at this time of day; most of the resort's guests are out playing games in the jungle, or relaxing on the beach. The bar, though, has the advantage of being air-conditioned.

    Still, there are people around - several humans or humanoids, clustered hopefully around a dabo table; a Ferengi looking as though he's calculating how much his drink is costing him; a dark-haired Vulcan woman with her face turned away from me - Is that the woman with the floater, earlier? I wonder, idly, as the hospitality officer comes back with my drink.

    Then the Vulcan woman turns her head, and there is a sudden double-click of recognition. The woman from the floater, yes - but not Vulcan.

    Romulan.

    I take my drink and walk over to her table. "Subcommander T'laihhae?"

    She looks up, and favours me with one of her switch-on, switch-off smiles for a millisecond. "Vice Admiral Shohl... I thought I recognized you, on the beach, earlier." She gestures at a chair. "Please, feel free to join me."

    "Thank you." I take a seat. She sips her drink - some fruity concoction - and seems to study my face for a moment.

    "Incidentally," she says, "I am now a Vice Admiral myself. The Republic navy is expanding rapidly... promotions come quickly. I'm sure I haven't done enough to merit it, but...." She makes a non-committal gesture.

    "Congratulations," I say. I take a sip of my own drink. It's fine - I never have understood all this snobbery about non-replicated food, anyway. Despite some lengthy lectures, and demonstrations, from several ship's chefs...

    "Is that the infamous tunnel wine?" T'laihhae wrinkles her nose. "Very... Andorian."

    "I like it. Are you enjoying Risa?"

    "Yes - though briefly. I am here while my new command is refitting."

    "I'm doing much the same myself."

    "It is a popular choice." T'laihhae seems to be studying my face, in a way which makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. Her expression is unreadable.

    I decide to be direct. "What's the matter?" I ask.

    "I was just considering something," she replies. "I don't see any marks, from your... misadventure, last time we met, on Nimbus III."

    I touch my face, self-consciously. "Standard dermal regeneration took care of everything." Last time I saw T'laihhae, a good percentage of my skin was falling off, courtesy of a Tal Shiar bio-weapon.

    She nods. "You asked me, once, about mourning tattoos," she says. "The markings we make - or acquire - express things about us. I... was rather expecting to see you had kept some scars, from that experience."

    "Why would I do that?" I'm genuinely puzzled.

    "Some - warrior cultures - value such things," she says. "And you do retain some old scars - I thought that might be your motivation."

    Self-consciously again, I brush my fingertips over the looped marks on my right cheek. "This is, well... the relic of a very old injury. There's not much to be done about it, now."

    T'laihhae raises an eyebrow at that. "I would have thought that modern medicine could erase such marks easily."

    "Not that easily," I say. "There's a lot of underlying damage, and even a cloned-tissue replacement - well, it would take a series of complex operations to put one in place, and then there's all the nervel connections that would have to be made... I'd be looking at weeks of surgery and months of neural therapy, possibly learning to speak all over again. It's not worth it, just for a - a cosmetic procedure."

    "I think I see," says T'laihhae. She gives me another flash of smile, and this time it looks a little wry. "I'm afraid I may have misjudged you," she says. "I thought you might be one of those warriors who wear their scars... proudly and showily...."

    "I don't want to send any messages with this." I run my finger over the whorls again. "Except, possibly, that it's not a good idea to get hit in the head by a disruptor bolt."

    "Sound advice." Then T'laihhae's eyes narrow, and her gaze darts past me, at something else. I look in that direction.

    Three men have come into the bar: Romulans. One is tall and dignified, with hair greying at the temples; one is dark, gaunt-faced, with darting, watchful eyes; the third is merely big and brutal. All three are wearing gaudy uniforms - Romulan Imperial uniforms. T'laihhae's mouth compresses into an ugly line.

    "Risa is open to everyone," I say.

    "What is theirs, is ours," T'laihhae replies. "Don't worry. I'm not about to start a diplomatic incident."

    But she doesn't look the least bit diplomatic.

    ---

    Bulpli Yulan looks completely at home, stretched out on a Risian sun-lounger, her bronze skin turning a deeper shade in the blazing sunlight. She moves her head slightly, raises one hand languidly, and removes her sunglasses, turning her black Betazoid eyes at me.

    "All I'm saying is," I say, "I'd be happier if I knew for certain nothing was going on."

    My security commander lets out an exasperated sigh. I suppose, after all, she is on leave. "I'm sure we'd know if there were something going on, sir."

    "You don't... sense anything, in the air? That sort of thing? Undercurrents?"

    "Of course there are undercurrents." Bulpli snorts. "This place is heaving with psychic tension - almost all of it from sexual intrigues of one kind or another. Personally, I have every intention of getting in on some of that." She regards me critically. "And, frankly, sir, a sexual intrigue would do you some good, too. I'm sure there must be two compatible Andorian men and an Andorian woman in the vicinity...."

    "That's really not -" I begin.

    "Or two Andorian males and a... sufficiently adventurous... humanoid female, even," Bulpli adds. She can, quite clearly, feel my discomfort.

    "Can we stay on the subject, here?"

    Bulpli sighs again. "Starfleet Intelligence has given Senator Parlok a low significance rating," she says. "His two minders are undoubtedly Tal Shiar... but the mere fact that he's here on Risa suggests that he's not important to the Imperial government. He has no known family, so the Romulan government can't hold them as hostages... so, since he's here with no levers to prevent him defecting, it's obvious the Imperials don't care if they lose him or not. If he's not important enough to warrant protection, it's equally obvious the Republic isn't interested enough to capture him. That, at least, is Intelligence's assessment of the situation."

    "You didn't get all that just now," I say.

    "I checked up," says Bulpli. "Because I knew you'd worry. Now, sir, please get on with some sort of intrigue. I have something in mind," she adds, "a Caitian, with a cute tail... and long, impressive, tickly whiskers... and a rough, wet tongue...."

    "All right." I stand up. "I know when I'm licked." And I make my retreat, before she can find something to throw at me.

    ---

    The three Imperial Romulans keep themselves to themselves, rather. Of course, Senator Parlok is a little too old and dignified to be waving his hands in the air at the dance competitions.... His two aides are always with him, the gaunt one even checking his food as they eat together, at a corner table in the common dining room, away from everyone else.

    I watch them idly for a little while, as I finish my own meal. They don't look like they're enjoying themselves, much. The Risian staff seem to get that impression, too, and I can see it bothers them. They hang, nervously, in the background, ready to offer help at a moment's notice. Risians pride themselves on their hospitality; they must feel this situation keenly.

    I finish my meal about the same time as Parlok gives up on his; I'm following them out of the dining room when I see T'laihhae coming in... and my antennae twitch. She's giving the Imperials a wide berth, but I go over to speak to her.

    "I'm trying to avoid any, ahh, tensions," she says, before I speak.

    "Keeping out of their way?"

    "As much as is... reasonable. I don't intend to change my own plans just because of them."

    "What are your plans? I thought you weren't going to be here all that long."

    "I will leave as soon as the Messalina is ready."

    "Messalina? You've switched ships from the Octavia, then."

    "Oh, yes. I believe, frankly, the Messalina might be a match even for your impressive King Estmere."

    "Well," I say, "I'm not anxious to test that." And I mean it. There is a real core of steel to this enigmatic young Romulan.

    "I must take my meal," she says. "Excuse me." And she goes to her table, with a cheery little wave, which I return.

    Everything she says makes sense, of course. But -

    Andorian antennae are sensitive to a number of things, and one of them is ionization in the atmosphere. We can taste energies in the air, and I have tasted many, and grown to recognize some of the flavours. And there is a taste I know in the air right now; faint and elusive, but definitely there. The taste of a high-frequency biochemical sensor beam.

    Somebody has been using the active sensor functions of a pretty sophisticated medical scanner or tricorder - recently, and nearby.

    I don't know for sure it's T'laihhae, of course. But does it make sense for it to be anyone else?

    ---

    One afternoon, I take a long, luxurious, cool shower in my suite, washing away the feeling of the omnipresent heat. My hair is still damp a little while later, when there's a knock at my door.

    "Come in."

    T'laihhae enters, flashing a quick smile. "I hope I'm not intruding."

    "Not at all. What can I do for you?"

    "I was wondering...." Four quick strides take her to the window, looking out onto a curved metallic roof, with the trees beyond. "Yes... I'm in one of those round rooms on the seventh floor. This window, though, might be suitable...."

    Oho, I think to myself. "For someone to climb out of?"

    "It might prove convenient." T'laihhae looks at me, her expression distinctly thoughtful.

    "Let me guess," I say. "This is all part of some harmless game, right? Some merry little Risian romp."

    "That... would be a reasonable assumption."

    "And so it's nothing to do with Senator Parlok, or those scans you've been running."

    That one rocks her; her eyes widen. I grin at her. "Can't fool these antennae."

    "Evidently not." T'laihhae bites her lower lip. "I thought I was being discreet... evidently, not discreet enough. And if you spotted me... Veblius and D'Gron might have done likewise."

    She must mean Parlok's pair of Tal Shiar minders. "What can I do to help?" I ask.

    "I'm not sure. My plans must become... fluid." T'laihhae looks hard at me. "There may be an interruption in the resort's power supplies tonight," she says. "During a brief interval of confusion, you will receive a visitor. It would help if you, ahh, assisted their egress."

    "All right," I say.

    ---

    I'm reading peacefully by my bedside when the lights go out. All of a sudden, there is nothing but the faint glow from the PADD and the twin moons shining through the window. After a moment, dull orange emergency lights spring into life along the skirting boards, giving the room a peculiar subterranean quality.

    All right, I think to myself. I stand up, go to the door, make sure it's open. I listen carefully, intently. I can hear a few sounds of confused motion, and, far off, a Risian voice saying, "Honoured guests, there has been a malfunction. It is being attended to. Please, remain calm while the difficulty is resolved."

    What I don't hear is anyone approaching my room.

    I think for a moment. Of course, T'laihhae said her plans had to be fluid. And I can't discount the idea that her whole visit was simply some piece of misdirection, to get the Tal Shiar looking at me while she spirits Parlok away by some other route....

    On the other hand, something could have gone very wrong.

    Technically, the Federation is not currently at war with the Imperial Romulans, but if something on Risa goes very wrong, that could easily change. In any case, I'm very bad at staying in my room and remaining calm.

    I slip out of my room. The corridor is lit by the same floor-level emergency lights, casting distorted shadows from the many trinkets and knick-knacks on display along the walls. My bare feet make no sound on the carpeted floor. T'laihhae said her room was on the seventh floor -

    I get as far as the sixth before the lights go out completely. I stand there for a moment in pitch darkness, thinking to myself: well, that shouldn't happen.

    Then, I make my way up the stairs to the next floor. There isn't enough light to see by, but I don't necessarily need it. My antennae tingle, sensing air currents, changes in pressure, the few residual flows of energy. I reach the seventh floor corridor. There's a very faint glow; there's some sort of light in one room... and I can hear voices.

    Something blocks the light.

    I have only a very vague glimpse of an outline, but it's enough to convince me: one of the Romulans. The big one. I take a deep breath, then move forward on silent feet.

    The Andorian martial art of th'kara isn't widely known; it's a style very specifically developed for in-fighting in the cramped and lightless environment of the deep tunnels. Some humans who've seen it in action compare it to that game of theirs, anbo-jyutsu. I suppose I can see the similarities. Anbo-jyutsu is very like th'kara, in the same way that a water pistol is like a phaser rifle.

    I call my lessons to mind, bringing myself to a total awareness of the presence of my opponent, of his position, of the space he takes up in the darkness....

    A th'kara bout begins, always, with light, probing touches, aiming to establish the location of the enemy, and to confuse them about the direction of your attack. Seen in visible light, it looks more than a little ridiculous. But that's the point, it's not meant to be seen.

    So, from the Romulan's point of view, someone nearby is touching him, gently, quickly, in the darkness, now on one side of him, now on the other, the touch gone before he can react -

    He makes an inarticulate, questioning noise. I have his position, now, fixed as firmly in my head as if I could actually see him. I hit him with a classical double-strike to the neck; flawlessly executed, my instructors would be proud of me. It'd kill an Andorian, but Romulan anatomy is different... still, it's enough to drop him, temporarily paralyzed and unconscious. The raised voices in the lighted room are enough to cover the sound of his fall. I sneak up to the door, reaching out along the way for any sort of weapon - I think I will need an equalizer, of some sort. My hand closes on something rounded and wooden, and I smile in the darkness.

    I reach the door of the lighted room.

    ---

    "I have heard enough," a snide voice is saying as I push the door with my fingertips; it's a little ajar, and it swings smoothly and silently at my touch. "You cannot suborn the Tal Shiar, and you are foolish to attempt it."

    Three people in the room, the light coming from a portable lantern set on a table. T'laihhae and Parlok are standing facing the door; they both have the good sense not to react as it opens. The thin Tal Shiar officer is facing them, covering them both with a nasty-looking nanite disruptor pistol. His back is to me.

    "Your attempt at defection was doomed from the start, Senator," he is saying. "I have deployed Agent Gamma in the lower region of the resort, so you would not survive to leave the planet. And, once transporter functions are restored, my assault group will take both you and your traitorous Republic cohort, here. Centurion T'laihhae, you may look forward to trial and execution under your correct rank. Now, you will move, over there."

    He gestures with the gun. Of course, that means the gun's no longer pointed at them, for a moment, but that never bothers the people who make speeches like that one. People like him always gesture with the gun. That's when people like me hit people like him very hard over the head with a horga'hn.

    He drops. The Senator blinks. "Much obliged," says T'laihhae dryly. "Where's D'Gron?"

    "The big guy? Lying down on the job."

    T'laihhae pulls something out of her belt. "Drop that," she tells me. I let the horga'hn fall; she aims some sort of spray at it. "Biolytic compound. It will remove any DNA or other forensic traces." She frowns. "We still have problems...."

    "So I gather. Who's Agent Gamma?"

    "Not a who. A what." She glances quickly at Parlok. "The Senator's loyalty to the Tal Shiar has been... reinforced... by infecting him with a biological agent. Veblius was here to administer a regular dose of a palliative that holds it in check. Agent Gamma is an airborne substance that will activate and accelerate the bio-toxin."

    "It's heavier than air," Parlok says, in a deep, disgruntled tone, "so it won't reach up here... but the damn stuff will be pooling at ground level. Going into the jungle would be suicide for me."

    "So that was what all your scanning was about," I say. "Getting a reading for the molecular structure of the palliative?"

    "No," says T'laihhae firmly, "for the toxic agent itself. I was alerted today that my science team has formulated a complete cure. We do not use Tal Shiar methods."

    "Okay," I say. "So, we transport him out."

    "If only," says T'laihhae. "The... fallback option... which damped down the power supply for the emergency lights, also engaged a transport inhibitor. It prevents the Tal Shiar from transporting personnel... but restricts us, as well."

    "And, by the time the Risians have figured out the problem and unblocked everything," Parlok adds, "Veblius's people will be ready to deploy in force - and they'll be tracking every transporter signature in and out of the area."

    "It's vitally necessary that the Senator's, ahh, departure should be quick and clean," says T'laihhae.

    "It was." Parlok sits down heavily on T'laihhae's bed. "I don't see any way out, now."

    "I do," I say with a grin. "All we have to do is keep you above ground level, right? T'laihhae, do you have communications with a shuttle?" T'laihhae nods. "Senator, how much do you weigh?"

    ---

    There are still a few fliers out at night, unaware of the power loss at the resort, their floaters' propulsors twinkling in the darkness. And, if one of those lights is twinkling a little brighter, as the propulsors labour under a heavy load... no one will pay attention. I hope.

    "Will you hold tighter?" Parlok hisses at me.

    "I have to hold the controls," I hiss back. "Keep a grip, damn it! I thought Romulans were meant to be strong...."

    "Well, I thought Andorians were meant to be sane!"

    We are entwined together, lashed rather insecurely by strips of T'laihhae's bedclothes, Parlok gripping me tightly around the upper body, me holding him as tightly as I can, given that my hands are occupied by the control grips. The floater isn't making any warning noises. Of course, I've seen Gorn using these things, it should hold a Romulan and an Andorian... should.

    Below us, the jungle is a vague tangled mass in the moonlight, full of animal noises and heady scents. I just hope that none of those scents is "Agent Gamma"....

    A pocket of turbulent air catches us, and we wobble for a worrying moment. "Eneh hwau' kllhwnia na immirrhlhhse!" Parlok yells. I can think of a few choice phrases myself. The control handles seem very slippery in my hands, all of a sudden.

    We steady, and start to climb again. Parlok's face is inches from mine, his limbs tightly wrapped around mine. It occurs to me that, in other circumstances, Bulpli Yulan might approve of this. I don't laugh.

    "We'll never make it," Parlok moans. "This was... this was stupid. I don't want to die stupidly."

    "We'll make it," I tell him, grimly. The tall lighthouse is in sight already, its coppery domed roof gleaming in the moonlight. I steer towards it, grimly, trying not to think about the drop below us.

    "The Tal Shiar will pick up the shuttle," Parlok groans at me. "It will all be for nothing, for nothing -"

    "They won't spot the shuttle." I spit the words out. "T'laihhae's people are very good at cloaking operations. I've seen them. Or, rather, I haven't."

    We are getting close to the lighthouse; I try to angle upwards, towards the domed top. T'laihhae said she'd point her shuttle at the most obvious landmark.... Parlok wails wordlessly and hugs me tighter as we ascend. I just hope the shuttle's there... he is starting to crush the breath out of me. Wind whistles around us as we climb towards the dome.

    I keep telling myself I can't hear the floater protesting under the load.

    We rise until we're level with the roof of the lighthouse, then above it. The moons' light strikes gleaming highlights from it. The sky is full of stars, and the two moons, and it would be beautiful, if it weren't so empty....

    "I don't know how long I can hang on," Parlok croaks.

    Then there is a gleam of a different light on the dome below us....

    The shuttle's hatch opens, apparently in thin air; T'laihhae's people really are good with battle cloaks. I hit the controls and draw one more spurt of power from the floater, taking us through the doorway. It clangs shut behind me. T'laihhae's hulking science officer is there, taking hold of Parlok as he slumps out of my arms. My muscles ache as though I've been beaten.

    "Thank you," says Parlok. I can tell he means it.

    The science officer has a hypo in his hand; he applies it to Parlok's neck. "That'll do it," he grunts. "Gonna be a rough few hours, though, while you sweat all that muck outta yourself.... We brought a bucket. You'll need it."

    Parlok manages a wan smile. "It will be worth it," he says. He undoes the last of the wrappings that bind us together, steps back, and manages a formal salute. "You have my thanks, Vice Admiral Shohl."

    "You're welcome," I say. I look at the science officer. "You don't need me, do you?"

    "Nah." He glances towards the pilot, a Romulan tactical officer with a careworn look. "We clear?"

    "No scanning beams, cloak is steady," the pilot answers. He touches a control, and the hatch opens behind me.

    "That's my cue." I throw a sketchy salute at them. "See you guys around." I step backwards, out of the hatch, into the air.

    The hatch closes and vanishes as I fall. I squeeze the control grips, and the floater pushes me hard in the small of the back as its propulsors kick in. I check its charge; still fine, good for some hours yet. There is a faint ripple in the air as the cloaked shuttle moves off. If I wasn't Andorian, I'd never have spotted it.

    All of a sudden, I feel immensely relieved.

    I spin, slowly, in place, above the lighthouse, drinking in the view of the ghostly landscape in the moonlight, the crystal sea shimmering as it laps at the dark bulk of the island. It really is a beautiful sight....

    And if the Tal Shiar come looking... all they will see, now, is me. Out for a night flight by myself. Dancing in the air, by the light of the moons....

    ---

    "Reman terrorists!" Veblius's voice is clearly audible across the resort's hallway. There is a dressing on his head, and his face is pale in the early morning light, but he seems to be making a good recovery. "No one else attacks under cover of darkness, spirits away our people! I tell you, this is the work of Obisek's fanatics!"

    "Honoured guest," the senior Risian hospitality officer says, patiently, "there are no Reman visitors currently on our planet, nor have any departed recently. We would honour them if they came, as we do all, but the Remans do not favour us with their presence." I don't think he knows I'm standing close enough to hear him.

    "I tell you, the Remans have kidnapped Senator Parlok! There must be immediate action!"

    "We do not restrict the arrival or the departure of our guests," the officer murmurs. "The circumstances are... strange, I must with justice concede. But we are sure of one thing, that there have been no Remans here for an indefinite but lengthy time. However -"

    "You people are incompetent! There must be a full investigation!"

    "However," the officer continues, with as close to asperity as the Risians ever come, "there are issues which must be considered. For instance, the equipment failures at the resort last night - the computer tampering bears hallmarks, I am informed, which strongly suggest a Tal Shiar data-warfare software package."

    "Technology stolen by the Remans!"

    "Perhaps. But then there was the unexpected advent of your associates." I was still dancing in the air when the transporters came back online and the Tal Shiar troops beamed in. The other guests at the resort have talked of nothing else, all through breakfast. "And, also, there is this -" The officer holds up Veblius's disruptor pistol with every appearance of distaste. "Honoured guest, we know that some cultures attach great significance to personal weapons, and we make accommodation for these beliefs... but we do insist, for the safety of all, that personal arms be properly registered, and borne only in appropriate circumstances. Yet, this weapon is yours, it carries your biometric signature for security - do you deny that?"

    "Of course not -"

    "And yet it is not registered to you, and was found fully charged and unsafed where you suffered your... mishap. Honoured guest, together with the interference with the resort, this matter reflects poorly on you. We sorrow to rebuke you, but we must. And it is our desire that you convey our sorrows to your government. Transportation has been arranged to make your homewards journey swift, and we beg you to avail yourself of it."

    I don't think I've ever heard someone being deported more politely. Veblius looks distinctly ill. Going to Risa with a Senator, and coming back with a diplomatic protest instead, isn't going to do his standing in the Tal Shiar much good. I decide I've seen enough, and sidle discreetly out of the hall, into the sunlight by the beach.

    I look out over the sea. It's so bright out there, so hot....

    "Shaoi dan." T'laihhae comes to stand beside me. She looks faintly dishevelled, more than faintly tired, but still pleased with herself.

    "The Risians seem to be putting most of the blame on Veblius," I say.

    "I, ahh, arranged matters so that it seemed plausible he'd met with an accident," she says. "It took a little time to place him and his weapon realistically... but it seems to have worked."

    "Won't Risian security get a little suspicious when they find DNA-free blank patches from your biolytic spray?"

    "I didn't use it. I covered myself in a dermal sealant so that no traces of me would be left." She shifts, embarrassed. "I've spent half the morning scrubbing it off. I will concede that I was lucky, in that no one encountered me, wandering the corridors in the darkness, wearing nothing but a plastic coating and an unconscious Tal Shiar officer.... There would have been questions."

    "Well, maybe not. This is Risa."

    T'laihhae's smile flashes on and off. "The notion that this is some Tal Shiar... internal struggle... seems acceptable to the Risians," she says. "I think they expected Veblius to try to implicate me. Fortunately, they didn't insist on questioning under verifier scan or psychotricorder."

    "They take the privacy of their guests pretty seriously, here."

    "And D'Gron and Veblius have helped, unintentionally, by their baseless accusations against the Remans." She glances sharply at me. "So, you fight in the dark like a Reman. It's useful to know... the capabilities of one's allies."

    "Like I said," I say with a grin, "you can't fool these antennae."

    "Indeed." T'laihhae sighs. "It's good when a complex intelligence operation runs precisely to plan, without problems. Or so I'm told, at any rate. Someday I may find out for myself."

    "At least it worked," I say.

    "Quite. Well, I must now return to the Messalina and proceed to Mol'Rihan. I understand I have a passenger, in a somewhat delicate, but steadily improving, condition." She throws me an informal salute. "Until we meet again, Vice Admiral Shohl."

    "I'll look forward to it."

    "Enjoy the rest of your stay on Risa." And she strolls off, towards the resort's transporter pad.

    "I think I will," I say to myself, softly.
    8b6YIel.png?1
  • flightofcrimsonflightofcrimson Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    "I love Risa," said Tepon cheerfully as he stared up at the sky. "It's just so ... relaxing."

    His companion nodded, obviously agreeing with his sentiments. Otep was an Andorian of few words, but it was obvious to the vice admiral that his best friend was definitely of the same mind as he; such vigorous nods were signs of great emotion from the chief engineer.

    "There's no reason for anyone to pester us," he continued. "Well at least, no legitimate reason. Because I think I saw Drake hanging around the dabo table earlier today, and I'm sure he shouldn't be here."

    It had been a long time since the crew of the Oceania had taken any time off; with all the problems involving the Devidians, Klingons and Jem'Hadar, there had never been any opportunities to simply relax. But now, with their escapades over, the crew could finally enjoy their shore leave on Risa and experience all that the Lohlunat Festival had to offer.

    "Do you think leaving Rufa in charge of the ship was a good idea?" asked Otep, the chief engineer turning onto his side to look at his captain.

    Tepon took off his sunglasses and smiled. "Don't worry, she'll be fine - after all, Sovos is up there helping out."

    ---

    "Food fight!"

    Rufa ducked behind an overturned table as what appeared to be chocolate fudge sailed over her head. The ship's cafeteria had been thrown into chaos as half the crew turned against each other in order to achieve dominance in the food fight that she had started by accident.

    "The vice admiral is gonna kill me," she said with a shudder, looking to Sovos, who had joined her behind the table.

    "He will not," replied the Vulcan doctor. "Also, I would like to address the issue of the currently locked doors to the cafeteria."

    The security chief groaned, burying her head in her hands. She was never going to get promoted at this rate.

    ---

    "Well, there'll be a fifty-fifty chance that she'll be okay," added the vice admiral hesitantly. "But anyway, do you know where the others are?"

    Otep shook his head, and returned to his previous activity of staring up at the clouds. Risa had always possessed the best beaches, and the sand below him was especially comfortable. He had no idea where his fellow officers were, but he didn't really care - all he wanted to do was relax.

    "Oh well," said Tepon with a shrug, putting his sunglasses back on. "Doesn't matter anyway - let's just keep staring at the sky."

    ---

    Corpsa did not like Klingons.

    Many of her fellow Starfleet officers agreed, although the reasoning behind their dislike was the war between the Federation and the Empire. But the Oceania's first officer had always disliked them, even before joining Starfleet. To her, the Klingons felt like cheap knock-offs of her own people; for all they said about honour and duty, they lacked passion - all they truly cared about was war.

    She did however, enjoy the Klingon version of Hamlet. It was one of the few good things that ever came out of the Empire ("The Tragedy of Khamlet, Son of the Emperor of Qo'noS" held a special place in her heart). Of course, Corpsa did consider the Andorian version of the renowned play to be infinitely superior. She really needed to obtain a hardcover version for her library.

    However, her current predicament was not related to her lack of hardcover editions of Shakespeare's works; it was in fact related to the presence of a rather familiar adversary in the bar - a captain of the Empire who had opposed the crew of the Oceania many, many times.

    "Ah, Commander Corpsa," said Zaylia as she strode over to where the aforementioned Andorian was sitting. "Starfleet still refusing to give you your own command?"

    Although lacking a visible forehead ridge, Zaylia claimed that she was a hundred percent Klingon, and would strongly deny any accusations that she was anything but a loyal servant of the Empire. It was impossible to doubt the later, but the first ... was iffy.

    "I have no need for a command," replied the Andorian tactical officer, keeping her tone level. "I am satisfied with my current arrangement - the Oceania is a beautiful ship, after all. Do you not agree, Captain?"

    Zaylia bristled. In their first encounters, the Klingon considered Tepon to a rival of some sorts, and to be reminded of the fact that the Trill was now a much higher-ranking officer stung - it hurt her pride to see such someone who was once an equal leave her behind.

    "Well I suppose we can't be all better than your admiral," she said coolly, taking a seat next to Corpsa. "Although I heard you were, once. At the Academy?"

    The captain leaned over the counter, waving the Risian tending the bar to come over. She quickly barked something in Klingon that Corpsa did not understand, and was soon rewarded with a bottle of bloodwine. It was obvious to the Andorian what her unwanted companion was trying to do: stir up any possible feelings of inadequacy and jealousy. Not that she would take the bait; it would not help matters.

    "My school days are long gone," said Corpsa. "They do not matter now. Although yours do to you, no?"

    There was a growl from the Klingon as she placed her bottle back on the counter. Zaylia possessed much less self-control, and was incredibly easy to goad. A few more comments would push her over the brink, and she would no longer be able to stop herself from beating the Andorian into a pulp.

    "Insult me one more time and I will make you suffer," she growled, already halfway out of the chair.

    "You are very passionate about defending your pride, are you not?" asked the Andorian, the ghost of a smile present on her face.

    The tension between the two was growing stronger, and was so thick that not even a Klingon bat'leth would be able to cut through. Other Starfleet and Imperial officers in the bar were already beginning to eye each other, and the Risian bartender had wisely decided to duck behind the counter.

    So nobody was surprised when someone lost control of their floater and crashed into the bar, starting one of the greatest brawls in Risian history.

    ---

    "Ambres."

    When one thinks of Franklin Drake, the image of a scowling, scarred man in a jet-black and professional uniform comes to mind. One does NOT think of a scowling, scarred man wearing nothing but swimming trunks flying around on a top-end floater and showing off his remarkable (but notably scarred) physique.

    Unfortunately for Tepon, however, it was his fate to be interrupted by this sight obscuring his view of the clouds.

    "Have I mentioned how disturbing it is to see you like this?" said the Trill, peering over his sunglasses at the head of Section 31.

    Well, he assumed that Drake was the head. One was never certain when it came to the secretive and amoral organisation that was Section 31.

    "I would say the same," replied the secret agent as he continued to circle over Otep and Tepon. "I am more familiar with your Starfleet uniforms, not these ... monstrous affronts to fashion."

    Tepon and Otep shared a glance. Both of them were wearing Hawaiian shirts that were a shockingly bright shade of pink and simple white shorts. Where was the problem?

    "You know Drake, sometimes I think I'll never understand you," sighed the vice admiral, shaking his head wistfully. "Zuchiiini bought us these outfits when she took some time off on Earth."

    "And there's your problem," said Drake dryly. "But speaking of Zuchiiini ... she's the reason why I am here, hanging over your head and speaking to you."

    "What did she do now?"

    "I don't know, maybe she and your first officer started a diplomatic incident between the Federation, Klingon Empire, both the Romulan Republic and Empire, the Dominion, Tholians, and several other factions that I can't be bothered to mention."

    The vice admiral was already up and running before Drake had even managed to get all the words of out of his mouth. Section 31's head (possible head!) sighed, and looked over at Otep, who was rather unaffected by what had just occurred.

    "... Do you want me to chase after him?" asked the Andorian blandly.

    "As a superior, I am ordering you to," said Drake bluntly, descending onto the sand. "Do you really think your captain can handle a diplomatic incident by himself?

    Otep thought back to one of their earlier missions, when his best friend was still a Lieutenant. Although everything had turned out fine, the actions taken were ... somewhat less than satisfactory.

    "No," he admitted. "I shall try and assist him. But sir, there is one thing I wish to ask of you first."

    "What is it?"

    "Please put a shirt on."

    ---

    When Tepon had arrived at the bar, he expected to find a brawl of epic proportions, and he was not disappointed. Although he could barely make out anything from all the dust and bodies flying everywhere, he knew that there there was a massive fight occurring all around him; one that he hoped that he did not have to participate in.

    He ducked as a bottle of ale flew over his head, followed by a limp Hirogen. A hunter, to be exact, but the Trill didn't really care. He was too busy searching for signs of his first officer and the Romulan who may or may not have started this mess. He definitely knew that Zuchiini was involved, though: there was no way such chaos could have occurred without her intervention.

    "For honour and glory!"

    The vice admiral rolled to the side, dodging a Tholian and wondering how the speaker managed to be heard over all the noise. She sounded familiar too, but he couldn't place where he had heard the voice before. Not that it really mattered right now. He was attempting to prevent a diplomatic incident, not wondering who the speaker was.

    A Breen officer slammed into him, sending them both sprawling to the ground. Tepon winced in pain, and pushed the unconscious being off. He really needed to find his first officer and Zuchiini quickly and stop everyone from trying to kill each other. Risa was not a place for fighting, and he wanted to keep it that way.

    "This is not how I expected to spend my vacation," he groaned.

    "Same," said a familiar voice.

    Tepon turned to see his first officer, still dressed in her Starfleet uniform, offering him a hand. It was fortunate to see that she had not been hurt in the brawl, and having her with him would make his attempts to stop the fighting much easier.

    "Can you tell me why Franklin Drake is accusing you of starting all this?" asked the vice admiral, getting into a sitting position. "Because I want answers. Like, now."

    There was a crash, and the two turned to see a Klingon sprawled over the bar counter.

    "Well," he continued. "Yesterday would have been nice too, but explanations. Now."

    "I believe I went too far when taunting your rival," said Corpsa sheepishly.

    The Trill moved his head forward, letting a piece of wood fly past. "Zaylia's here, huh? Nice to know. But what I actually want to know is how the Romulan Republic's war hero is responsible as well."

    Corpsa did not reply, simply nodding in the direction of the brawl. Even from their location, on the outskirts of the fight, the purple coral on Zuchiini's head was clearly visible. The Romulan Republic's most renowned figures appeared to be fighting several other beings at once, and surprisingly, possessed the upper hand. There was an expression of great cheer present on her face, and a smile that grew even larger than physically possible as another being was beaten into the bar's floor.

    "I'm not seeing anything here, Commander."

    "... She crashed into the bar during a rather tense moment."

    Tepon sighed, moving to his feet. He should have known that the brawl had been started over something stupid. All bar brawls were. Fortunately, he had some experience with such things, so it was possible that he could stop the fight without anyone getting seriously injured.

    Although there was a possibility that he would be banned from this particular bar for quite some time.

    He quickly strode over to the wall, unlocking the glass cover with surprising speed. In most situations, he would have broken the glass, but he was on vacation, and people on vacation did not usually bring along weapons.

    With a heave, he roughly pulled down the lever, and the familiar sound of a fire alarm began to ring out across the room. All the occupants of the room instantly stopped, the noise diverting their attention from the fight to the annoyed admiral in a horrendous Hawaiian shirt.

    "I am disappointed," he said, giving everyone in the room a heated glare. "This is Risa; a place of relaxation for people of all species and allegiances. It is not a place for fighting. Now, I would like my vacation to progress peacefully, and I assume most of you do as well, so can you all please stop trying to kill each other?"

    All of the former combatants simultaneously nodded, or for those who were of species without the capability nod, made a gesture of acknowledgement. It was actually rather surprising how many different species were present in the room: there were Klingons, Romulans, Pakleds, Tholians, Hirogen, and even a Devidian hanging around the back. Everyone seemed to love Risa these days.

    Seconds later, the alarms stopped, and a sudden downpour of water splashed all over them.

    "At least it isn't a rain of spices this time," sighed the soggy vice admiral as he looked to his equally soggy first officer. "Come on Corpsa, we've done enough here."

    The Andorian woman gestured up at the sprinklers, which were still running and showering them in lots and lots of water. "Aren't we going to fix that first?"

    "We'll log a report later. Let's just leave before someone blames us."

    She didn't need to be told twice.

    ---

    "Looks like the captain did not need my assistance," said Otep calmly as he and Drake made their way to the entrance of the half-flooded bar. "Although ... it would have been better if the bar had not become a swamp."

    Drake shook his head and sighed. "There are times when I wonder why I have not recruited your captain into Section 31 - but then I see him do things like this."

    "At least we successfully avoided a diplomatic incident," said Tepon cheerily, walking up to the duo. "I did exactly what you wanted me to do."

    "You also might have broken the sprinklers," muttered Corpsa, who had taken off her Starfleet jacket in an attempt to wring the water out. "Your diplomatic skills have not improved in the slightest."

    "You started it. You can't talk."

    There was something about the crew of the Oceania that made them rather charming, decided Franklin Drake. He did not know if it was their carefree personalities or the reckless way they solved problems, but in the end, it did not matter. It his duty to make sure that Starfleet would continue to serve as the carefree peacekeepers of the galaxy, and as a member of Section 31, he would continue to blacken his soul to make sure people like Tepon and his crew still existed among the stars.

    "I shall be going then," he said, activating his floater. "I hope all of you will be able to enjoy this vacation ... without any further mishaps."

    As he took to the air, the barest hint of a smile appeared on Drake's face. He may have been Section 31, but that would not stop him from enjoying his vacation as well.

    ---

    Sometimes, Tovan Khev wished his captain was more responsible. But that was a wish that would never become reality - not that he wanted it to. They had become friends because of Zuchiini's irresponsibility, and it was one of the few traits of the admiral that had never changed during their service to the Republic.

    Of course, it was still frustrating at times.

    "Starting a bar fight, really?" he asked.

    The alien (they really needed to find out what she actually was) relaxing on the couch shrugged, giving him a smug grin. "Not exactly. I just crashed, yannow? I was like ... the wine that poured onto the fire and helped the flames spread."

    Zuchiini had never been good with metaphors.

    "Well now that you've gotten all of that out of your system," continued Tovan, giving his friend a glare that would not have been out of place on a father. "Our shore leave is over - we have new orders from the Flotilla."

    "Sweet, what is it?" asked the vice admiral, who seemed to be rather unaffected by the lack of vacation time.

    "Right then, have you ever heard of the Organians?"

    FIN
    Idealist.
  • danquellerdanqueller Member Posts: 485 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Commander's Log

    Stardate 86153.47


    We continue our extended visit to the recreation planet Risa as part of our agreements with the Federation. In truth, I must admit that my earlier misgivings about this use of the R'uhuv and her crew may have been premature. There have been several beneficial outcomes I had not anticipated, and only a foolish commander does not consider the effect of morale from such a visit. It is, perhaps, only the unprecedented length of time we are spending away from our other duties that accounts for my unease at being at one of the most beautiful worlds in the galaxy.


    Master Healer Kirana, in particular, has appeared to benefit from the assignment. Risa is, of course, her homeworld despite her Romulan heritage, and seeing it again after completing her training on Mol'rihan has lifted much of the isolation I detected between herself and the rest of the crew. I do not know if her family fully supports her enlistment in our Forces, but the young Centurion has already proven her skill and dedication, and if this visit has put to rest some barrier she has carried, I will consider it worthwhile in the extreme.


    Centurion L'voss has used the time to, unsurprisingly, 'consult' with a Klingon Master of Mok'Bara who was also visiting the planet as part of the Risan Lohlunat Festival outreach program that brought my own crew here. While I do not believe the injuries to either are noteworthy, I admit to surprise that the Risan monitors allowed the 'discussion' to continue until both fell from the natural stone archway they had elected to hold their meeting upon. Fortunately, the antigrav emitters embedded at ground level functioned normally, and both were transported automatically to the nearest medical facility. I am grateful that the Risan engineers were so dilligent in preparing the Enlisted facilities for the crews of such divergent cultures, but I am not so confident in L'voss' decision to accept the Master's invitation to a Blood Wine celebration. I can only amend a plee to the Five that I will not have to seek a new Troop Commander when we depart.


    For myself, this assignment has provided an opportunity to meet several of Starfleet's senior commanders, and the opening of a new Command resort a short distance from Suraya Bay provided me with reason to attend a conference to compile strategies against the ongoing threat of the Borg. Most of all, I was given a chance to speak with Vice Admiral Kelro Verne, returned from the Omega Sector for this occasion. A commander also reluctantly thrust into Command, I admit I had felt a kinship of sorts since I had first read the reports of his activities since leaving his home 'Mirror' universe, and wanted to evaluate him for myself. I found him a serious, dedicated officer who seemed to carry the weight of Lore upon his back, a refreshing change from the idealistic optimism of the other Starfleet at the meeting, and our discussions were quite easy to hold. Perhaps I should not have expected otherwise from a man almost three hundred years past his origin time, but I nonetheless hope to have a chance to accept his invitation to tour the U.S.S. Legacy to expand more both upon my understanding of Galaxy-class starships and a Starfleet Admiral all but exiled from the Federation. His insights may also prove critical to our next mission, of which I have grave concerns.


    Master Engineer Xa'Jev has reported his consultations with his Federation counterparts while on-planet have produced the hoped-for improved warp engines for the R'uhuv. By accounts, these were on hand to be fitted to one of the new Risan armed liners and will improve our speed considerably at the cost of increased fuel usage by the impulse engines. The Meguli have never failed the Empire since their submission fifty years ago, and so I have no reason to doubt in Xa'Jev's claims despite how the concept of my ship using Federation engines damages my pride. Still, the needs of the Republic in this matter come, as always, before personal concerns, and Duty will be served only if my ship succeeds.


    However, the Master Engineer's transaction on the planet has also resulted in an incident that I must now address personally. While granted authorization to visit the Command resort area for the purposes of finalizing the transfer of the engines, it seems he provided the means for two other members of my crew to also gain access to that area in violation of agreements made with all three visiting Fleets. I have been called to report to the Risan Port Administrator in Nuvia to account for my officers' actions, and will depart as soon as I take appropriate action here. It is distasteful when a Commander must discipline their subordinants for actions expected more of apprentices, but perhaps I may take the advice given by Admiral Verne.


    As I conclude this entry, Subcommander Tosik and Centurion Rycho await outside my Ready Room. I have been aware since the day I accepted Rycho from Fleet Intelligence that the Human's ambition matched his physical abilities, and certainly Starfleet's records on the Reliant Incident give ample caution in where that could lead. However, I am confident his hatred of the Tal Shiar and desire for revenge upon them will keep him in line as long as we are aligned in this regard. Diffusing the unconstructive friction between himself and Tosik while also punishing him for his actions on Risa requires...unconventional thinking, and in this I must admit a level of satisfaction that Starfleet has such a history of imaginative solutions to draw upon.


    Subcommander Tosik's punishment requires more careful consideration, however.....



    _______________________________



    The door to the Commander's Ready Room opened and Centurion Rycho walked out in what Tosik could only think of as a dazed state, his eyes barely registering the corridor beyond that led to the Bridge. Stopping in front of Tosik but staring into the distance, Rycho whispered "Magnificent.", but it seemed the Centurion was speaking as one impressed with the manner of his upcoming execution rather than any enjoyment in the outcome of what had passed behind the closed doors.

    Still with that detatched expression, he turned his head and stared at Tosik with eyes that seemed to be baffled and just seeing him for the first time. In a dead voice, he said "She has appointed me.....Executive Officer."

    Tosik frowned in confusion and disbelief. "Do you mean you have been made First, Centurion? "

    "No. Executive...Officer. ", Rycho said, pronouncing the title as though they were alien words. Then he ran a hand through his hair, his mouth working for a moment before he continued. "I am....responsible....for ensuring the...well-being of the crew. For all of the crew. Me. Responsible....to the Commander. There is no First on this ship any longer."

    Tosik had only a moment to process this information before the voice of the Commander called from beyond the door. "Subcommander Tosik. Report."




    Unable to stop the unease in his gut at the dread still dawning in Rycho's eyes, Tosik stepped past him into the Ready Room, the door closing behind as he walked to stand at attention in front of the Commander's desk. She did not acknowledge his presence as she tapped keys on her PADD, reading the files there as moments passed in silence.

    Finally, as Tosik began to wonder if she expected him to announce his presence, she spoke without turning from her task "You violated a restricted area. You deceived a security system with false title to Command, and you caused an incident that has resulted in the Command area being relocated to another island, with the resultant disruption in schedules, local trade, and arranged planning of three interstellar Fleets and the planetary population. I have been called to report to the Planetary authority to explain your actions, and the image of your presenting a Horga'hn to me on the steps of the Fleet Conference has been circulated among both the local information networks and the Republic Fleet subspace channels."

    Finally looking up at Tosik, she fixed him with eyes that would have done the Raptor proud as she asked him "Have I forgotten anything, Subcommander?"

    Tosik could only continue to stand at attention as sweat began to crawl down his back and upon his brow. With a supreme effort, he said "No, my Commander. That sounds...complete."




    Standing, the Commander forced him to meet her gaze as she dropped the PADD to clatter to the desk. "To say I am disappointed in you is an understatement. You, who I took aboard when you wore nothing but rags and only the word of Q, of all beings, to vouch for your value to my ship. I expected you, of all people, to think before you acted."

    Tosik did not let his eyes follow her as she stepped around her desk to circle around him, looking him over as though she were inspecting a particularly unappealing piece of equipment. "Perhaps I might think this something an inexperienced Apprentice might do, and just put it down to senseless incaution in the heat of the moment, but you are supposedly an experienced Officer in the Republic's Defense Force. I took it as granted you had the discipline to be my Science Officer, and to be worthy of the trust I and the Republic have placed in you."

    Completing her circle, she stood directly in front of him, her eyes cutting into him as though they were plasma beams. "Was I wrong?"

    Choking on the humiliation and shame each of her words pounded into him, Tosik shook with the effort not to let his emotions shame him. "My Commander. He is a Human! He dares to think he could take your Command! He dares.....!"

    Tosik's voice failed him as he saw his words bouncing off of her as though she were a neutronium statue. In a cool voice she said "I am aware of his racial background, Subcommander. I knew it when I accepted his posting aboard my ship. And I will not reject any asset that serves to protect the Republic and the Rihan'iLu'vorr for such a petty reason. We cannot afford such luxury. We are not the Tal Shiar. We do not have resources to throw aside merely because they are less pure than we like."

    Before Tosik could reply, she continued "And I know of Rycho's ambition. How could I not? And why should I fear it? Do you think he is ready to Command? He has much to learn yet about the demands of such a position, as well as how to execute it well. He does not have the loyalty of the crew, and knows it. Further, he is aware that High Command will not accept his appointment without my consent and approval, and that any attempt to seize command without that approval will lead to the Fleet rejecting support, even if the entire crew desired him to sit upon the Judgement Seat."




    Walking back behind her desk, the Commander stood and watched him as he visibly sagged. In a lower voice, she said "Subcommander, I could and probably should reduce you some steps in rank for this, but I am not blind to the facts. You were manuevered into a situation where you were expected to show yourself as irresponsible and unworthy of your position. What I find fault in is that you fell into that trap so willingly. I don't expect my Officers to spot every situation they might find themselves in, but I do expect them to meet those situations as Officers of the Republic.

    "I trust you will do so in the future."

    Tosik could only nod his head in deep agreement as he replied in a subdued voice "Yes, my Commander."

    Nodding, the Commander sat and picked up her PADD. Looking down at it once more, she tapped several points on its surface. "Dismissed."

    Turning on his heel, Tosik moved to exit the room as quickly as he could without seeming to rush, then stopped before the door opened. Turning back, he asked "Why did you make him Executive Officer?"

    Looking up, the Commander gave him an inscrutible look. "Centurion Rycho wishes to command. He will now learn what being responsible for an entire crew means, and answer for any mistakes. I assure you, he is not being rewarded, as I am sure he has realized."

    Thinking a moment, Tosik realized the truth of the Commander's words, and how it must be eating at the Human even now. For a brief instant, he felt a measure of satisfaction in all the ways he could work to make the new Executive Officer's task all the more difficult, but then remembered the Commander's words to himself, and knew the blade of Judgement was just as firmly upon his own neck as Rycho's.

    With undisguised eagerness, he left the Ready Room, the Officer of the Watch wondering at the sweat Tosik wiped from his forehead as he passed through the Bridge and into the turbolift. When the Science Officer had disappeared behind the closing doors, the Watch Officer merely shrugged and muttered "Guess someone got lucky on Risa."



    _________________________

    .

  • knightraider6knightraider6 Member Posts: 370 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    (bit longish, and a little risque, but then it IS Risa. What happens in Risa stays in Risa. :D I figured after her questioning by the Tal Shiar in the last LC, Polekitty could use something good for a change, and it was fun to write before I go back to poor Schrodi losing her mind ;) )

    Risa, tuesday morning

    Rhonda 'Polekitty' Evans wasn't the most heavily dressed person in the hotel, but she was close. She didn't want to be here to be honest, oh sure, meeting her family for a few days was fine, but Risa, during the Lohlunat festival? for someone who was still using a cane while recovering from nerve damaged done by a Tal'shiar interrogator, the crowds just made it harder for her to get around. Plus the everpresent clusters of couples or more was rather like diving into a swimming pool filled with double edged razor blade then rolling around on the salt flats of Mars.

    Still, it had been close to six months since she had seen her parents, and her baby sister April was barely walking then. She had been planning to continue her rehab after the incident with Colonel S'tana at Starfleet Medical in San Francisco, where she'd also been helping out with cases before she was thrown out on her ear by the CMO.

    "you need a break" he said, "you hadn't had so much as a weekend shore leave since you were comisioned..." her Betazoid therapist had admonished her.

    Really sucks when the arguments you used on your own crew and paitents get used back at you. She sighed, looking around-there they were. Of course finding them wasn't as hard as one would expect, it was several hundred years since cowboy hats were commonly worn, and being they were sitting on an outside patio of course her father was wearing one. She stopped and watched them from the entryway to the patio for a moment, her father had a little more grey in his hair than she remembered, but she still had to look up at him, the former PPD Detective's eyes the same color of blue as her own.

    Her mother however was different, for one the nerve damage from a drunk driver hitting her motorcycle on Daytona Beach had been easily repaired with modern medicine, as were the scars from that accident. Ironically the cane Rhonda was now using used to be the one her mother depended on back in the alternate 21st century they all had come from. April had gotten bigger, of course kids grew like a weed at that age, the toddler having the natural tan coloring that came from having mixed race parents. Not that things like that were an issue in 2413, unlike Rhonda's own white hair and black fur, or April's tail wagging back and forth from a hole in her chair..wait what?

    She stepped out of the doorway, walking over. Her parents looked up and smiled, her dad standing to give her a hug while her mom helped her to a chair, April almost exploding in excitement, the toddler slipping from her chair and running over, squealing "ranaranarana!". She still couldn't pronounce her sisters name, but she was getting closer, as she attached herself to Rhonda's bad leg like a lamprey.

    She staggered and semi fell into the chair, her mom reaching over to pull April away "April, Rhonda's leg is hurt, she can't pick you up right now."

    Rhonda just shook her head "not standing no, but I always have lap room for you" she said, scooping the toddler up into her lap.

    Randy just chuckled" be glad you diddn't see her this morning, she got into some chocolate covered espresso beans they had out for guests in the lobby..."

    "oof, I remember when Jake got into some of those. How's he doing by the way?"

    "he's good, still with his girlfriend and business partner out on Ferenginar. He says they're making latinum hand over fist these days from adapting stuff that your ship downloaded from the internet when you rescued us. They're really making money selling holo programs to the Klingons, they seem to love Game of Thrones and for some reason, My Little Pony."

    Rhonda groaned, one hand over her face "that explains the ship I saw coming in, Vo'Quv carrier, one of their biggest ships. it was the IKS Shy Joq..or if you translate the name, the IKS Fluttershy."

    Sandra Evans laughed "not exactly a name to inspire fear in ones enemies I'd say."

    "probably not." Rhonda looked down again at her little sister happily snuggled in her lap as she watched the colorful birds fly over head. She leaned in a bit "when did this?" she said, pointing towards the fuzzy tail, looking like it would fit a cocker spaniel better than her little sister.

    Her mom just shrugged "about six weeks ago, you were still in recovery. As for how" she said "do you have to ask? We spent eight years in Paragon City. Between toxic waste, arcane energies, mad scientists, mutagenic chemicals, and lets not forget radioactive critters that bite people"

    She looked down at her black fur covered arm "as if I could forget the last one."

    "Me neither" her dad replied. "that's why we're leaving Earth."

    "Buhwhat??"


    "The docs back there, were arguing if they wanted to quarantine her, or run experiments on her, or 'cure' her. Hell there aint' anything wrong with her. She's different. Too different for earth nowadays."

    "what do you mean, the Federation has thousands of races in it-"

    " earth is mostly human. Humans who don't like anything that should be human, but isn't. I remember you telling me about your time in the Academy, how you only really made friends with aliens."

    "well...yeah. They have a history of bad things when peoples DNA gets tinkered with, they're still pretty much spooked by it."

    "That was what, five hundred years ago? It's kind of like my idiot uncle James, who disowned me when I married your mom, because she's half japanese and half black, and kept shouting that the 'south would rise again" till the day he died."

    "they don't come out and say it" her mom said quietly "but I see the looks , the way parents pulled their kids back at the playgrounds. Plus with your dad and I unable to find work on Earth-"

    "but people don't have to work now-"

    "No, we do" her dad leaned forward "maybe the people nowadays can sit around, spend their time in holosuites, and walk to the replicator for their free meals every six hours. But I need to work. People need to. We're taken care of, but if you just give someone everything , and not make them go get it themselves, they never learn. They don't grow. Out side of the people in Starfleet, how many on earth actually DO anything? push themselves?" he sat back and sighed "yeah there's some that do science, art, do things to try to improve themselves. But there's a whole lot more that don't."

    He grinned at her "which is why we're here. I put my resume out in whatever they call the net nowadays, and got back a couple nibbles. While a lot of the major worlds might have cameras in every room and street, some of the further out places, a detective is still needed."

    "what, you're gonna be the Sheriff Taylor of Risa?"

    "naw" he said "but a resort this big still has problems with theft, crimes of oppurtunity, there's been a couple stabbings and the like. Can't say I'm really thrilled with their no weapons policy, that assumes that any one with bad intent is gonna abide by it, but the resort is looking for a detective to handle such things." Randy grinned "so instead of a deputy with one bullet, I might have to get hawaiian shirts, and grow my moustache back-"

    "no moustaches." They both looked at Sandra "but mom, if he gets that job, he'll be Magnum PI, in space!"

    "I've got to get it first, have another interview tonight, with the night manager."

    Rhonda nodded, bouncing April a bit "where are the other two?"

    "one of them, well I don't think I'll be able to even go to the interview. It's called Moab III-"

    "wait..thats a Klingon world! Well it is now, didn't use to be.."

    "you say that like it's a bad thing" Randy replied "from what I've heard, they treat their people better than the Federation. They don't meddle in how people live their lives, sanatize and bubble wrap the world as to keep people's feelings from being hurt. Did you know that in the preschool in our town, they don't let the kids play outside? they may be stung by bees or other insects, so they have a 'holosuite' playground. Safe. Secure. Sanitary."

    She said nothing, it was an argument she'd had with others in the past, with her taking the same position as her father "you could get there, there are ways..."

    "we know, but then we'd have problems if we ever wanted to see you, at least as long as this idiot war keeps going on." he took a sip of his tea "so that's off the table. Besides, it's a bit dry there I hear. Spent enough time in the desert in the Marines before your mom and i got married."

    "I'm not fond of deserts either. Whats the third place?"

    "its really out there, but they're looking for people who are adaptable and willing to work. Kind of cold, but they've got domed cities where you can go

    out without bundling up, think it's called Denali."

    It was bad timing. She was just drinking her lemonade when he said that, her surprise causing her to breathe some in instead. Several coughing seconds later, she wiped her face with a napkin "you ok?"her mom asked

    "yeah, it's just ,well i know someone from there."

    "ooh a special someone?" That got Sandra a look, one she returned "Randy, it's almost time to take April for the children's club trip."

    The mention of the children's trip got April's attention "see ponies?" she said as she held her arms up to be picked up by her daddy

    "ponies, ducks, tribbles, and you'll get to watch fireworks with the other kids. Say g'nite to your mom and sister."

    "nini!"

    Rhonda watched her dad and April walk off. "I didn't realize a place like this would have children's events."

    Her mom just smiled, sipping her drink "why not? parents need time to themselves too, she'll have fun at the petting zoo, then get to watch fireworks then sleep under the stars on the beach with the other kids. She loved it last night while your dad and I went dancing and to the turkish baths." she chuckled softly "we met a nice Caitian girl who ended up staying the night with us-"

    There was another drink emergency, this time the lemonade coming out of her nose, making everything smell lemon scented. She'd known for years that her parents had a open relationship of course, but it was one thing knowing in the abstract, different when you see it first hand "Mom!"

    "Rhonda!" she replied "I've read your letters, you always talk about how your doing this for those people, and saving that planet. Where's time for yourself?"

    She grumbled, looking down at her lemonade "you sound like my therapist."

    "well he, or she is right. When was the last time you had someone in your life?"

    Rhonda didn't say anything "I thought so. Your father has that interview tonight, and Ch'arice is going to meet up with me later at a club she told me about. What were you planning to do, sit in your room and read reports and medical journals?"

    "uhm..." one advantage to fur, is that it was hard to noticed when you blushed. Unfortunately her mother was well able to spot it "I thought so. now, I'm just your mother I know. but I know you're not happy."

    She stared down into her drink, swishing the melting ice around idly "there was someone, a couple years ago. It was just before they stuck me in command,before I got thrown back home and brought ya'll here. I thought things were going good...then she suddenly transfers me off the ship, no explaniation. though i do suspect her hand in my promotion right afterwards."

    "did you ever talk to her about it, ask her why?"

    "no...ah figured it was because ah was a freak."

    Her mom sighed, she could tell her daughter was getting upset, her accent was showing up. "Rhonda, you've got to stop selling yourself short. Don't be obvious, but look over at the bar, those two in the shorts. Then the cute guy by the piano, and the two girls in the booth by the wall."

    She did, slowly glancing about "why are they all staring at me?"

    Sandra reached over, and squeezed her daughters black furred hand "Because you're beautiful, even if you don't realize it. This isn't earth, these aren't the idiots who think because your DNA was modified you're the next coming of Korn-"

    That got a giggle "Khan, not korn mom. Korn was a band Jake listened to."

    "Whatever. point is, your a wonderful person. and you need to realize it."

    She smirked "now you're sounding like what I told one of the ensigns I was counseling when a guy he was dating in broke up with him."

    "and you need to sit up straight."

    Rhonda blinked "huh?"

    "you're slouched over, almost as if you're trying to hide. Do you stand that way when you're on your bridge, or in the operating room?"

    "no, of course not, I've got people counting on me then-"

    "and you have someone counting on you now. I think i see the problem."

    She frowned , crossing her arms "What do you mean?"

    Her mom smiled sadly "you never had a chance to learn how to interact in situations like this. you got bitten, then we moved to Rhode Island because thats where people with powers went. You spent your teenage years flying around being a hero. Then when you get sent here..you lose the powers, but become a doctor in Starfleet. Then you get put in command..everything you've done for over half your life is for others, you've got to be confident to keep others safe, so you are."

    She reached over and squeezed Rhonda's hand again "I understand the fear of being different, I remember the stares when I had to get around with crutches, braces on my legs for years. Your sister is going to have to go through that too, sure it's just a tail now but who knows what will happen in ten years?

    "...if she sees me acting timid, because I'm different."

    "she'll think she should do the same, because she is. but you're a Starfleet officer. You command a Galaxy class Starship, you're a skilled surgeon, and you even used to be a hero. Hell I remember that picture Helen took of you when you were fifteen, after you beat what's his name, Reckless"

    That got her to chuckle "Recluse, and it took close to a dozen of us."

    She waved her hand "no matter, you did what you had to even though you were afraid. Same as you do every day in space, because someone is depending on you doing it. Well, a room full of people dancing might not be as dangerous, but there are two I know of who are counting on you. April, and Rhonda."

    She looked down at the now melted ice from her lemonade "you're right."


    "of course I'm right" Sandra said teasingly "I'm a mom. Give me a grandkid or two and you can be right too." she grinned as she stood up "so take your own advice. I've got a few hours Ch'arice and I are supposed to meet up, right now, we're going shopping. We're going to get you something nice to wear, and tonight you're going to be social, and have fun."

    Rhonda laughed as she stood up, knowing she was outranked. "yes Mom."



    Several hours later.

    It had been a long time since she'd worn anything other than a uniform, or sweats when she was off duty. Sandra chose well, a light blue dress that matched Rhonda's eyes, the soft fabric clinging to her curves, showing off her admittedly modest assets (though as the lady at the store said when she helped them pick it out, it wasn't the size of the portion but the presentation that was important.) Sandra had one cut in a similar fashion, but jade green instead. Eyes tracked across the room as the two of them made their way to a largish booth, ordering drinks from the barechested Risan waiter.

    "root beer? you can drink in front of me" Sandra teased.

    Rhonda just laughed "if anything happens, and I'm not saying it will, I'd rather it be me and not the booze. Besides" she smirked, eyeing her mom's drink "Tequila makes me lose my clothes."



    "you say that like it is a bad thing." they both looked up, one of the Risans was at their table, tall and tanned like a lot of them, carrying a horga'hn like the one on all of the tables in the club "I saw you sit down here" he said with a smile" he said, a slightly shorter Risan woman, long blonde hair going down her back joining him. She smiled at them "would the two of you like to join us for Jamaharon?"

    Rhonda and Sandra just looked at each other and started giggling, not exactly the reaction the Risan's were expecting. Rhonda was blushing furiously as Sanda caught her breath "she's my daughter, so I'm afraid that would a bit too weird."

    He looked embarased, but Sandra just smiled waving them both to sit down "it's ok, I'm waiting for someone , but Rhonda-"

    she smiled reassuringly at the two Risans, giving a wink to her mom "is open to discuss it."

    The Risan girl just laughed "but you don't look anything alike" she said, siting down next to Rhonda and running her fingers through the soft fur covering her arm. "I'm Deety, and this is Jhim" she said, the blonde haired man sitting down next to Sandra "it's so soft and fluffy, why do you look so different?"

    "it's kind of a long story."

    "I like stories, especially ones of exciting places."

    "I like stories too" they looked up, there were two Caitians standing by the table, both of them a rust color, the male tall, heavily muscled and shirtless in the style on Risa, the female, wearing something close to the barely bikini that Deety had. Sandra smiled and half turned, as the caitian girl leaned down and hugged her. "This is Ch'arice, I told you about her earlier. This is my daughter Rhonda, and Jhim and Deety, and I assume that's your brother you mentioned?"

    "Just picked me up from the transporter,been here before but didn't know how to get to this place." he said, his long tail swishing behind him. "name's M'karret" he and Ch'arice slipping into the booth beween Sandra and Rhonda as they scooted to give them room too.

    "good to meet you" she said, trying not to get too nervous as everyone got comfortable, looking at her "well, it all stated with the Rikti..."




    Many hours later.

    There had been drinks, stories had been told, there had been dancing (though with her bad leg Rhonda had to sit out the fast ones, the slow ones were easier. Jhim was a talented dancer, Deety was surprisingly strong enough to support her when they danced and , well, M'karret was over a foot taller, so it was easier for her to just put her arms around his neck and let him sort of carry her while they danced. The band was winding it's set down , Deety was curled up in M'karret's lap while Jhim nearly put Rhonda to sleep with a shoulder massage. As the last song died out he stretched. Deety sat up "we were planning on going to a little cove we know, would you two like to join us?"

    Sandra laughed softly from where she and Ch'arice were curled up in the booth "I'd suggest a hotel room instead, trust me there are some places you do not want sand to get..."

    "that's probably a better idea" Rhonda sat up, and absently pulled the top of her dress back up from where it had slipped down during the massage. Not that anyone at the club would say anything or even care but still. she hugged Sandra and Ch'arice as did the others, then headed off for the lifts.


    Next morning


    The room was cold, but she wasn't. Close to hot actually, with two Risan's and a Caitian snoring peacefully in the bed with her, the light from the suns peeking through the windows. She'd happily have stayed in bed, but something was beeping, and she needed to pee..oh. the com. She extricated herself carefully as she could, staggering over to the com on the desk still half asleep. At least until she saw her father's face on the screen, and realized she wasn't wearing anything.

    Randy Evans just laughed and politely turned away from the screen on his end, as Rhonda gave out a mouse like squeek and dived under the desk, coming up a few seconds later holding a blanket up as he chuckled "Girl I changed your diapers, you don't have anything I aint' seen " he said, though he didn't turn around till she was covered.

    She laughed at that "whats up?"

    He held up a badge where it could be seen "hope you like this planet, cause we're gonna be here a while. Seems the fact that I'm used to old low tech policing helped, they liked my experience. So starting next week I'm a hotel detective."

    "that's great daddy!"

    "thanks. your mom said she's gonna make pancakes later, after we pick up April from the kids camp in a couple hours."

    "oooh, definetly be there then."

    there was a sound behind her as Deety woke up, walking over and looking over her shoulder "What's going on?"

    "my dad just got a job as hotel detective at the resort here" she said. Deety waved at the screen "congratulations!"

    Randall blinked at the naked Risan girl in the com then just chuckled "thank you. Anyway, see you in a couple hours."

    "will be there."

    She dropped the blanket as soon as the com cut off. Deety just smiled "couple hours? time for a shower at least." she said, taking Rhonda's hand and leading her towards the bathroom.

    "mm, true. what about them?" she said, pointing towards the still snoring Jhim and M'karret.

    "if they don't wake up in time, it's their problem."
    "It may be better to be a live jackal than a dead lion, but it is better still to be a live lion. And usually easier." R.A.Heinlein

    "he's as dangerous as a ferret with a chainsaw."



  • rextorvan36rextorvan36 Member Posts: 150 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Who's afraid of Risa?

    The Decius was still at Earth Space dock and for some reason it seemed as if my crew and myself were forgotten. It almost seemed as if Starfleet Command had no use for a well equipped and trained Mogai and her crew. It was different with all the Deridexes and Dreadnaughts we kept seeing. They just kept coming and going. At times some of our fellow republican ships looked to be in a rather sorry state.

    That afternoon my day brightened and changed. This time, one of the many types of Starfleet cruisers came in to dock and it was a type and a ship I knew all to well. USS Limburg-A, Vesta class and part of the cavalry that had rescued New Romulus, and under the command of one of the very few people in the Federation I would call a friend. Vice Admiral Jenn Torvan.

    And apparently Jenn was surprised by what her ships sensors had told her.
    'Hail coming in from the Limburg, sir.' I didn't know the Centurion on comms duty so I ordered it switched over to my ready room. The signal was switched over effortlessly. I could see Jenn was in her own ready room as well.

    'Hello Eris still twisting your thumbs I see.' Jenn was to the point as always.

    'Yes, still being kept busy by doing nothing.' I could almost feel the small chuckle that emanated from the other ready room. However, that same small chuckle soon disappeared and was replaced by Jenn her mission face. I felt a little tingle on the inside. Finally, out there again.

    ' I may have something to do for you, if you're willing.'

    I heard myself saying 'Yes.' Before I even thought about it some more. I noticed Jenn smile again.

    ' I was hoping you'd say that.' My screen lit up, indicating the arrival of a data package. 'Thing is, Risa is always in need of parts for the weather control systems. These parts are made here on Earth. It seems they fetch a rather interesting price on the black market.'

    I finished the phrase for her 'I know the Limburg is a pretty capable vessel but you figure having an escort from say a well equipped Mogai might just make the difference.' Jenn smiled again.

    'You and me are going to have a certain talk on Risa.' She lifted a finger, just like my lower school teacher would have done not all that many years ago.

    All of a sudden an icy and twisted knot formed in my stomach. ' On Risa?'

    Jenn smiled rather innocently 'Yes, your crew needs a little time off, and you do as well, Eris. Now guess what? Risa is just the place for that.'

    I wasn't sure what I was thinking. I did I wonder if I needed to see ensign Miraz, the ships counselor that came my way via an officer exchange or was it better to see the CMO? But it wasn't really the most important question at all. The most important thing was why I was so afraid of going to Risa?

    Naturally the trip went off without a hitch. Oh, there were a few wisps of of marauding Klingons and some Orion free traders gave us a close look as well. There was one enterprizing Ferengi that also tried to offer aid after the Limburg had to drop out of warp due to a short in the EPS relays. I think his ship would have taken the record for fastest entry into warp under non combat conditions, but then, I figured our 'method of arrival' would cause something like that.

    We pulled into standard orbit of Risa without further trouble. My own troubles however were just beginning.

    “The Limburg is hailing us again.” the Comms Centurion reported as my ship pulled into standard orbit as well.

    It could only be about one thing. “On screen.”

    It was Jenn, on her bridge and smiling one of those radiant happy smiles I'd come to detest. And I also detested what she asked me next “ Ready for some Risian fun and sun, Eris?”

    Wheter or not it was to my credit or not, I didn't answer. I fell silent. And she noticed “Eris? Anything the matter?” I still couldn't speak, I had 'clammed up' as humans rather aptly put it. Finally I found the words I was looking for “Jenn, I'd rather discuss this in a more private setting.”

    “Your Ready room?” She asked.

    “Please.” With that the connection went down. I promptly instructed Tovan to get to the transporter room and escort Jenn to my ready room. She was there not fifteen minutes later. I was stunned by her entrance at first, as she was wearing an outfit undoubtly designed with nothing but relaxing on Risa in mind, yet, it seemed so very earthy. She had those weird things they call slippers on her bare feet. Part of her legs were bare, other part being covered by a rather short version of something which I knew to be jeans. She wore a blouse that one could see through and I thought I felt myself blushing as I could indeed see through it. Then the fear came back.

    “What's going on Eris?”

    Again I failed to find the words. Instead I bent my head and looked at the floor, hoping I would something before Jenn really started to push.

    “Eris?” There was a hint of worry in her voice and suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder. As I looked up I noticed the worry in Jenn her eyes.

    “Why are you so afraid of having fun?”

    I sighed. Jenn had cut straight through the ribbon, again. My hastily erected defenses were down so there was only one thing left to do; tell the truth. I sighed again and resigned myself to the consequences.

    “It's because of Virinath. Right before the republic found us, there was a festival on the colony. The Elachi came during the festival...” I felt as if I had shared enough. “And besides, I really don't have anything to wear.”

    To my own surprise I heard Jenn chuckle.” One thing at at time, Eris, one thing at a time. Come on, I want to show you something.” We left the ready room.

    “ Ops, please zoom out from the planet, maximum distance.” at a nod from me the duty science officer carried out the order and before I knew it I was looking at Risa, from a certain distance, and the planet looked like it was surrounded by a swarm of Khelids. Of course, each speckling part of that swarm was a star ship, loaded for bear.

    “I'd almost pity the Elachi if they come here.” Jenn remarked to no one in particular. And I began to feel a little better. Yet I knew I wasn't quite out of the woods yet.

    “ As far as wardrobe is concerned...” At Jenn her comment I figured it was gonna happen anyway and smiled back. The lions and the flame would have to wait.
  • jonsillsjonsills Member Posts: 8,707 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Captain's Log, USS Hephaestus NCC-91748.
    Commander Grunt recording.

    Starfleet has informed us that with shipbuilding activites hampered by the raid on the Utopia Planitia yards at Mars, there are currently no ships available to us to replace the
    Bastogne; however, we were allowed to keep the wreck of the Hephaestus, and even given three weeks in drydock at Deep Space Nine to make her spaceworthy. Mr. Vovonek didn't sign off on anything until almost end of shift on the last day, so I'm pretty sure he's gotten her in shape. Our shakedown cruise was a run from DS9 to Risa; we've been authorized a one-week shore leave, in conjunction with something the locals call a "Lohlunat Festival". Gydap's taken a civilian transport to Andoria, of course - we'll be picking him up there after we're done here. We'll be expanding our crew roster while we're here too, as a Dakota-class needs a few more hands on controls than an old Constitution-refit. There are some personnel requests we can fill internally, as well - some more surprising than others. It's like my dad's accountant always said, though - resources are everywhere, the key is to exploit them profitably.

    Grunt looked again at the PADD in his hand. "Are you sure about this, Vov?"

    The Pakled engineer nodded. "We got that one part for the warp matrix that they stopped making about fifteen years ago - you know, the bit we swiped from our old ship, to sub for the Herpes' dead field stabilizer. No way it'd fit, no way the drive would work without it, and no such thing as a replacement field stabilizer inside sixty parsecs. Fitzsimmons got it in and functioning in two hours. He didn't stop talking the entire time, of course, but I'll take babbling as long as it comes along with that kind of talent."

    "Okay, I'll grant you that - but as your second in Engineering? What about Jazerad? Isn't he the one that saved those three men when one of the compartments lost pressure on the way back from Gamma Quadrant?"

    "Yes, sir, he was. He was also the one who welded that patch in the first place. And he's the one who tried to fix the replicators to give you tube grubs for dinner that one night."

    Grunt shuddered. "I take your point. Didn't get that taste out of my mouth for days. I'm still not sure what a 'strawberry' is, but a tube grub shouldn't taste like one." He touched the PADD, then stretched. "Okay, Fitzsimmons is all yours. Good luck with him. As for me, I'll be heading down to the resort to meet our new crewmates."


    Grunt surveyed the crowd. At least here he wouldn't stand out that much - he could see the distinctive multi-lobed bare heads of at least seven Ferengi from the arrival pad. Lots of others, too - Humans, Trill, a few uncomfortable-looking Andorians, several Vulcans (managing to look cool even while wearing robes in the afternoon heat), and even a handful of Klingons in fur-lined armor (and how could they stand that, he wondered). He knew two of his new personnel, both bridge officers, were somewhere in the area of the Festival grounds, and he wanted to meet with them in a semi-informal setting, to gauge their reactions to being under a Ferengi's command. He knew from experience that there were quite a few, even in Starfleet, who had trouble adjusting to the fact.

    First, he'd look for his new Tactical Officer trainee, Ensign Zoex. This, Grunt decided, would probably be fairly simple - Zoex was Ferengi too, so he would just look in the places he'd have been when he was a brand-new, wet-behind-the-lobes ensign. In the distance, he could make out the clatter of a dabo table. Grinning, he made his way toward the sound, emanating from deep in the recesses of the nearby hotel.

    He paused in the entranceway, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness inside. None of the people clustered around the dabo table looked like the holo in Zoex's file; Grunt moved past the table, and finally spotted his quarry, huddled in a corner with a shadowy-looking hominid in a cloak and hood. He moved a little closer, cocked his head, and could finally hear the whispered conversation between the two. Zoex appeared to be negotiating for black-market weapons. Grunt shook his head and smiled to himself, then stood up, polished his commander's pips, put on his best stern look, and marched up the the pair.

    "Mr. Zoex!" he announced in tones of mock outrage. "I'm surprised at you!"

    Zoex whirled guiltily. "Commander!! Um, this, uh, isn't what it looks like, sir--"

    "No, Mr. Zoex, it's exactly what it looks like! You're trying to buy illegal weapons from an obviously fake salesman!" He turned to the being in the cloak. "You'll have to forgive my young friend here - he hasn't my experience at spotting real salespersons. Are you an informant, or just a scam artist?"

    "What? Why, I'm an honest--"

    "You're an 'honest' nothing. No real black-marketeer goes around looking like you, especially on Risa! The resort world of the galaxy, with heat like this during the day, and you're dressed like an escapee from Rura Penthe? Far too obvious." He turned to the younger Ferengi. "A real black-marketeer would no more advertise his calling like that than a Ferengi Trade Authority Enforcement Squad would wear T-shirts reading 'We Take Bribes'! Really, what are the schools on Ferenginar coming to?" He shook his head. "Now report to Ms. Shelana aboard the Hephaestus for your assignment. If she's not there, report to your quarters until you're sent for - it's far too dangerous to let you wander loose on this planet with so much as a slip of latinum in your pockets."

    Zoex stood at attention. "Yes, sir!"

    "Dismissed." At Grunt's waved command, Zoex began marching quickly toward the transporter pad. Grunt looked around, and saw that the supposed black-market salesman had slipped away while he was distracted. He chuckled, and turned back to his second quarry, a Human named Ruben Manalang. This search was rather longer, and eventually led him back out to the beach area. Eventually, he spotted Lt. Manalang, lounging on a beach chair with a Caitian female beside him, twining her tail about his legs in a rather suggestive fashion.

    Grunt walked up to the two. "Mr. Manalang?"

    Ruben looked up. "Commander Grunt," he replied. "As long as we're off-duty, sir, please feel free to call me Ruben. Is this a formal occasion?"

    "Are there formal occasions on Risa?" Grunt wondered aloud.

    Ruben chuckled. "Not that I'm aware of, sir, but you are in uniform, on the beach."

    Grunt looked down. "So I am. I suppose it's a bit of a habit by now."

    "If you say so, sir," Ruben said agreeably. "I recieved the roster on my PADD earlier - I understand that I'm scheduled to report to your office at 0800 tomorrow. While we're here, though, sir, why not relax a bit? I've spoken with your first officer, and he seems to believe that you could use some time off."

    "He's been talking to Brel again, I see. Where's Roclak at?"

    "He and a striking lady named Shelana heard there was a mok'bara master here, and wanted to go speak with him."

    "Striking?" Grunt said, amused. "I've heard Shelana described a number of ways, but 'striking' has never been one of them - except maybe 'striking a fellow officer', but honestly he deserved it." He squared his shoulders. "Very well, Mr. Manalang, I'll have to come right out and ask you. Is your assignment going to cause you any difficulties?"

    "Difficulties, sir? I have no idea what you mean. I have no personal entanglements to get in the way, except perhaps this young lady," and here Ruben caressed the arm of the Caitian beside him, to which she responded with a trill, "who might want to entangle with me this evening. I mean, I've heard about your other ships - half the fleet's heard about them - but from the reports I saw, it was amazing you and your crew managed to keep them flying even half as long as they did. I look forward to this assignment, sir, and it'll be an honor to serve with you."

    As far as Grunt could tell, and with formal training from the Trade Authority he could tell pretty far, the young man was completely sincere. "That's good to hear, Mr. Manalang."

    "Please, sir - Ruben."

    "Ruben," Grunt acknowledged. "And make that meeting 1000 - 0800's a little early, since technically we'll all still be on leave."

    "Thank you, sir," Ruben said, smiling. "And if I might suggest, sir - that Trill over there has been looking at you for several minutes now, and she has a horga'hn on display beside her. This might be a good opportunity to, ah, strengthen interspecies relationships, sir."

    "You have a point, Ruben. I'll see you tomorrow morning aboard ship."
    Lorna-Wing-sig.png
  • flamesightflamesight Member Posts: 0 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Conscription


    "Captain's Log, stardate...86518 point...one. Ugh. Denton Myles speaking, captain of the A.I.G. Muginn - err... Sorry, it's the U.S.S. Muginn now.

    "It's been three months since I was pressed into service for the Federation - and let's be honest, it was a forced conscription. Vulcan may have committed their personal protection fleet to the Fed-Klingon war years ago, but the Andorian Imperial Guard didn't; the Federation Council signed a resolution, and here I am. Heh. The way things are going, pretty soon Risa is going to be building weapons of war. Anyway, I'm sure anyone listening to this is as sick of hearing this diatribe as I am of delivering it.

    "The Risian Lohlunat Festival is in full swing, and I've been...partaking in the local culture. Perhaps a bit too much for my button-down First Officer, Ara Calavadras. She's ordered Otelia, my new - that is, VERY new - ship's doctor to abstain from treating my nightly overindulgences. I think she's trying to teach me some kind of lesson about Federation decorum, but I think she'll find me made of sterner stuff. You don't grow up and survive as a human in the Andorian Imperial Guard if you're weak.

    "So, with complete sobriety and the agony of excess looming menacingly on the horizon, I've had something on my mind and I need to work it out. Maybe this stupid log will help me focus.

    "Two weeks ago, we were assisting in the Tau Dewa sector; the Romulans and their new nation were getting pummeled by every Klingon, Hirogen, and Nausicaan thug in the galaxy. That's nothing new; there's always someone trying to pick on the new kid. What was interesting was that on the way between inevitable distress calls, Quireth, my Rigellian Operations officer, detected something on long range sensors.

    "Against vehement objections from my First Officer, I diverted from a mission to rescue a Romulan battle group from a wolfpack of Gorn cruisers. Not exactly something we were needed for, really. Sometimes I wonder if the Romulans hit the panic button so quickly because they're testing us; our resolve, our readiness, our technology...I don't know. It just seems so subtly suspicious, but I'm getting off-topic.

    "In one of the most innocuous expanses of Tau Dewa, Quireth stumbled on a fantastic mystery at the fuzzy edge of our sensors: dozens of dead Romulans floating among burned up pieces of hull.

    "I know, it doesn't sound like a big deal; Romulan ships get blown up all the time. But that's the mystery! The hull fragments were painted green and the bodies were wearing old Star Empire uniforms. Kind of a giveaway, screams Tal'Shiar, but knowing the 'who' only raises more questions, like, "What the hell were they doing there?" Or, "How long had they been there before we showed up?"

    "The second question, at least, we could answer...to a point. How did Otelia put it? "I wasn't very good at xenobiology of non-Federation races." Using her knowledge of Vulcan physiology - which is more of a reasonable analog than a direct parallel - she estimated they died less than a day before we got there. She also said that they had no other injuries, which is...troubling.

    "So there's the 'who' and the 'when,' then there's the 'what,' which is where things get really interesting. Those panels we found with the bodies, for example, which have been bothering me since they were brought aboard. Metallurgical testing showed that the hull fragments were composed of alloys we've never seen, which is particularly troubling with my research.

    "Before you say anything, yes, I'm aware that when compared to your average Fed captain, I'm a little wild and a lot unprofessional, but I also attended the Andorian War College. I've spent years studying every known ship type in the galaxy, and I've never seen a hull configuration like the one which the panels suggest.

    "Those are just two problems with the fragments: they're made from unknown materials and they add up to an unknown design. Then there's the fact that they are fragments. I mean, when a ship is destroyed in combat, in addition to there being far more debris than a few scraps of skin, there's evidence of weapons fire on the hull. There's burns, scars, warps, tears, occasionally blood or viscera from nearby crew...and there's none of that; the edges are simply...erased, and irregulalry.

    "Maq'boh, my Bolian science officer says that the scars on the metal look like it got caught in an energy storm, or another spatial anomaly. He also said that there was no sign of oxidation on the inside of the panels, and that there was absolutely no sign of anything out of the ordinary on our sensor sweeps.

    "Now...if there were no signs of weapons fire, no after-images of energy storms, spatial or temporal anomalies, no traumatic injuries to the bodies, and no warp trails... There was no battle. Those Romulans, for one reason or another, were "spaced" and the hull fragments planted to cover it up, make it look like a destroyed ship.

    "This means that somewhere out there is an enormous ship of unknown design, with a hugely-thick, scarily-strong double hull, the ability to completely mask a warp signature, and it's crewed by the Tal'Shiar. Granted, they're a few Tal'Shiar lighter now, but still...

    "Sorry, log, I have to go find my First Officer and give her this information. Let's see if she's worth her anal-retentive salt.

    "Myles out."
  • cmdrscarletcmdrscarlet Member Posts: 5,137 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    The air is cool and the breeze perfectly flows around me. I close my eyes and slowly lean onto the railing, shifting my weight onto one leg. Even though I enjoy letting my hair down when on duty, somehow on Risa doing so seems more comfortable. The breeze wisps through my red hair and over my cheek, tickling my nose. I can't help but smile at the feeling and from the fragrance. Such beauty from the aroma alone. Breathing it in reminds me of a word: Amaranth. It is a flower, but its the word that just comes to mind for no real reason I can make a link to. I whisper the word then slowly open my eyes. Before me is just a small part of the Lohlunat Festival - the dance floor. The lights made brighter against the night above the resort.

    My room is twelve stories high with another two stories more. From this height I am confident I have enough privacy. Sure, people could look up and see me at the railing to the balcony but all they would see is my silhouette, if even that as the light in my room is dim. My smile widens as the breeze sends a chill up my bare back and ends with goosebumps on my arms. Its a sensation you rarely feel on board a starship. I've missed being outside. At the Academy there was plenty of opportunity to study and stroll in the outdoor quad. Maybe that was intentional: to give the Cadets a last chance (so to speak) to enjoy such atmosphere as most of us would find our way on board climate-controlled ships or stations. Of course there were planetary postings, both alien and "earth-like" ... but nothing like Earth. Risa is wonderful, but it's not the same. Right now, it doesn't matter. I'm not on Solaris. Not on Earth. And I'm fine with that for now.

    I shift my weight onto my other leg and continue looking at the dance floor. The varied species of the galaxy are gyrating on the brightly colored tiles. I think that's a Gorn shaking his ... her? ... posterior to a ... Rigilian? That is a Breen wearing shorts - I shudder slightly and look to my left. The two balcony's next to me are empty. There is a couple kissing passionately on the following balcony. I blush a little as I stare at them, then I remember that I'm the one standing naked in the dark. I back away from the railing. Reaching the door frame, I reach for my glass of Kanar. The drink is a little thicker than I'm used to, but it is perfect for my mood. The regulated weather has been rejuvenating. Rest has been needed. The glass is emptied and I lick my lips to clean them of remaining flavor.

    Turning into my dimly lit room I pause at the threshold of the doorway and let the breeze pull my hair back. After another moment I decide I need to finish what I started. Sitting at the desk I pick up the PADD and approve the following Duty Officers for transfer to the Solaris: Nurse Jimmie Massie, Hazard System Officer Belwan Fale, Security Officer Craig McClaren, Projectile Officer Beggonge, and Warp Core Engineer Jeff Nayee.
  • hfmuddhfmudd Member Posts: 878 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    With surprising grace for a creature of his size and bulk - assisted by the precise steering jets of the top-of-the-line racing floater strapped to his broad back - the tan-scaled Gorn touched down in the resort's long gallery. As he strode toward the comparatively tiny woman at one end of the hall, he reached into his shoulder bag and withdrew a cloth-wrapped bundle. Vacationers scattered like startled birds at his approach. Stopping before his objective, with a deep bow and a flourish that whipped the fabric away, he presented his prize: an egg the size of his closed fist, its pale shell colorfully speckled and banded.

    S'Rastaa stepped back as the petite ornithologist's coterie closed in and began to coo over the egg, admiring its beauty and speculating from its markings what breed it might contain. He watched with satisfaction, arms crossed over his chest, until a very familiar voice spoke up from behind him:

    "You're blending in well."

    Turning, he saw exactly what he knew he would: Mishara, tall and strikingly beautiful (in a way that only another Gorn could appreciate), wearing the same long white coat and smoky, glittering compound lenses she always did. Psychological armor, a layer of cloth and glass and projected data between her and the world, keeping everything at arm's length... even him. Especially him.

    "Isn't that what you're usually telling me to do more of?" he answered wryly. A lifetime of service in the Star Navy had left him with habits that didn't always fit well with his new life - neither his public role as a simple freighter captain, nor a secret operative for those working to weaken and someday throw off the chains of Klingon dominion. He'd never cared for the shadowy world of intelligence, one of the many things that had kept him and Mishara (who'd been part of it as long as he'd known her) from ever getting too close; not a day went by that he didn't wish he was back in the command chair of his old ship, taking the fight to the enemy head-on. But that was no longer an option: his ship was gone, blown out from under him during the final push on the homeworld, and for the moment, this was the best way he could serve His Majesty and the cause of freedom. Playing at being a humble merchant, wandering from one port to another with no apparent goal besides the pursuit of profit, enjoying his "retirement." Tilting his head, he added, "You could stand to do some yourself, actually. You're a bit overdressed for this place."

    Mishara snorted. "I'm an analyst, not a field op. I wouldn't be here at all if you and your crew didn't need a..."

    "Handler?" he suggested.

    "Liaison," she insisted. This, too, was a familiar conversation. S'Rastaa privately suspected that one of her superiors had a perverse sense of humor, or perhaps the joke was on the part of the universe itself. How else to explain that, out of all the agents that might have been assigned as his contact, he'd gotten her?

    Conceding the point with a shrug, he turned and began walking away from the crowd, toward the beach. She followed, as he knew she would. The things they had to discuss were not for others' ears.

    "Remind me again what you're doing here? Besides bothering the local wildlife."

    He favored her with a sidelong look, lips drawing back from teeth on that side of his muzzle in a half-grin. "Officially? Loading up on rare Risian wine, seismic stabilizers... and examples of handcrafted native art." His grin became a leer as he produced one of the wooden totems from his bag. "Guaranteed to bring the possessor good fortune and success in all their endeavours." She snorted again, and though he couldn't see her eyes behind the dataglasses, he knew she was rolling them at him. "Unofficially? Negotiating with the Lobi Consortium for the purchase of one of those beauties." He gestured toward where one of the Risians' new corvettes floated just offshore, its sleek hull painted cyan and hot pink like some enormous tropical fish. He hardly needed to explain to Mishara the uses that a "simple freighter captain" might have for a small, agile and blisteringly fast starship with a low sensor profile - especially one with a built-in mechanism for disrupting pursuit - and indeed, she did not ask.

    "And very unofficially?"

    He turned to face her, lowering his voice to match hers. They were a fair distance away from the hotel building now, the pink sand delightfully warm under his bare clawed feet. "Very unofficially, how many places do you know of where members of all the major powers have an excuse to meet and mingle freely? Federation, Klingons, Romulans... I half expect to hear that a nest of Tholians has leased one of the active volcanos for a day spa." He smirked. "Even with a war simmering, the Risians extend their welcome and hospitality to all. And they come - oh, do they come - with their indiscretions and their intrigues and their needs and their secrets. Look past the suns, the surf and the hedonism, and you'll find another Drozana."

    "Ssssss... very good, Ras," she teased, using her favorite diminutive. "We'll make a spy of you yet."

    His response was a faint growl, baring his teeth again - but like a human, there was little humor in this display. "The trick, as you probably know, is separating the truly interesting and valuable from the petty schemes and betrayals. And the constant fixation on mating, and all the rituals that go with it. If anything, it's worse here - like they've sprayed the whole planet with musk." (That wasn't quite what he actually said - a collection of hisses, grunts and snarls describing the cocktail of pheremones that enkindled the usually dormant Gorn urge - but how a translator would have rendered it into Federation Standard.) "It's a wonder they manage to get anything else done."

    Mishara indicated her understanding and sympathy. "Would you like my help?"

    "Thank you, but no." He resumed his unhurried walk down the beach. "That's what I have junior officers for. And if I didn't keep them busy, who knows what mischief they might get up to?"



    On another beach, one of those officers was currently stretched out on a large towel, taking full advantage of Risa's very lenient dress code to bare as much olive-green skin, and soak up as much of the twin suns' rays, as possible. A pair of sunglasses and an earring were literally all that she had on. She was also enjoying the full attention of a half-dozen appreciative males (and one female), split evenly between natives and fellow guests.

    This sybaritic scene was interrupted by the arrival of another Orion, this one wearing slightly more than the first - a mirrored visor and khaki shorts. He took a moment to look things over, then clapped his hands loudly twice. "All right, all of you, clear out. Don't look so disappointed... she probably wasn't going to sleep with more than half of you."

    As her admirers murmured their farewells and began to disperse - some giving the muscular newcomer look-overs as they went - the Orion woman pushed herself up on her elbows. "Always spoiling my fun, cousin," Nismi murmured in mild reproach. The two weren't actually related to any significant degree, but they'd been addressing each other thus almost from the day they'd met.

    "Just passing it along," Orsin replied, laying out his own towel. "Captain had me doing sig-int all morning. So boring."

    "I was wondering where you were." She turned to the side to face him, still propped on one elbow and letting the other arm drape along the lithe curves of her body. "But now you're here, and you've gone and chased off all of my servants. So I suppose you'll have to attend me yourself." She smiled. "You can start by getting me another drink."

    "Your charms don't work on me, cousin," he reminded her, doffing his shorts and lying down on the beach towel.

    Nismi laughed merrily. "My charms work on everyone, cousin. You're just too stubborn to admit it." She lay back again herself, stretching and almost purring; all this sunlight was making her skin practically hum, and it was impossible to stay mad at Orsin, even if she really had been. It made her feel good enough to admit, "I like that. Sometimes I like a challenge... and other times, I just want to not be bothered."

    "You've got the Captain and the other Gorn for that," he reminded her. "Or the Lethean."

    Nismi shuddered, as if a cloud had passed overhead and momentarily blocked the radiance of Risa's primaries. "Cousin. Don't even joke."



    The Lethean in question had staked out a spot by the resort's pool, mostly to observe and enjoy the reactions of the other guests. His lean, predatory, vaguely avian appearance was made surreal (and hardly less threatening) by his choice of attire: a colorful floral print shirt with short sleeves, swim trunks, and sandals. A golden mai tai was close at hand, complete with paper umbrella and straw, the latter of which he took into his beak for a sip every now and then. Whenever he caught a vacationer looking at him, he would return their gaze with a crimson-eyed stare of his own across the top of his sunglasses, cackling as they quickly averted their eyes and/or hurried away.

    When the looming shadow fell over him, however, he didn't deign to look up. "So, they sent you."

    Zeera rumbled an affirmative. As with many reptilian species, Gorn females were often larger and more aggressive than the males; this was certainly true of the crew's pilot, driver, and heavy-weapons specialist. She was enormous even for a Gorn, standing a full head taller than her captain, with the blue-tinted and gold-speckled scales especially prized by her kind. "Guests complain to staff. Staff complains to Captain. Captain tells me to tell you--"

    "Yes, yes, I know," Cerazod snapped, dismissing the rest with an impatient wave. "Really, they should thank me for adding some zest - a delicious sour note, to offset all this cloying sweetness." His dramatic sigh (unappreciated and unjustly put-upon) was meant to evoke sympathy, but found none from Zeera (unimpressed and unmoved).

    "You 'hear' anything good today?"

    "So far, only the tediously ordinary. Sex, profit, sex, sex, food, profit... tribble." He lazily reached for his drink, then sat up straighter and put it aside. "Ah... here we go."

    "What?"

    "Hsssh." Cerazod held up a hand, his expression one of intense concentration, as if trying to listen to a conversation on the other side of the room... which was, in a sense, exactly what he was doing.



    "... only a junior researcher, hardly more than a lab tech," Cerazod explained, his voice sounding tinny and flanged through the secure communicator. "Not the sort to know anything really secret, which is why they let her come here. But she'll know their security setup, access codes for the computers..."

    "Yes, I get the idea," S'Rastaa murmured. If anyone had been watching, they might have thought he was talking to himself; the communicator bud fitted snugly into one of his earholes, leaving little external indication of its presence. But here in the shade of a tall palm tree, it had been several minutes since he'd seen anyone else. As he'd expected, few ventured into the jungle behind the resort, and fewer still left the marked trails. "So what did you have in mind?"

    "I thought I'd pay her a visit tonight after she goes to bed. Just the two of us, me and her brain."

    He growled softly, scratching at one cheek with a claw. "All right, but remember - if you damage her, all those codes will be changed the moment they find out."

    "Captain, do you take me for a common thug?" The Lethean's wounded pride could be heard even through the encrypted connection. "The young lady will wake up tomorrow none the wiser, save for some unpleasant dreams. A slight headache, at most."

    "Very well. Report to me in the morning. S'Rastaa out." He began making his way back toward the hotel, wading carefully through ferns and high grass until he reached the mossy dirt path. Even now, an hour after the setting of the larger sun, the evening air was still pleasantly warm and full of the natural perfumes of countless blossoms, the varied cries of a dozen kinds of bird and beast, and here and there, small clouds of whirling golden motes - insects engaged in their own nocturnal dance of courtship. It was, he had to admit, quite beautiful... if slightly too tame to be truly natural.

    Not for the first time, he considered the idea of actual retirement - no more subterfuge, suspicion and skullduggery, no more deception and evasion, just rest and relaxation. He'd given decades, most of his life, to the Hegemony; surely he'd earned it, was earning it right now? But in his heart, the old Gorn knew he'd never be able to rest so long as his people were ruled not by themselves, but by Klingons. True, the Empire had allowed their new "vassals" many freedoms, many privileges... but privileges could be revoked, and S'Rastaa knew they would never be considered equals. Nor would he bend knee to any Klingon, or take orders from one, or have one on his ship. It was a matter of principle, of honor. He'd lost too many old friends and good officers to them, during the long siege. He would not give up the fight now, not if it took the rest of his life.

    But even in war, there were times of respite, moments between battles, to enjoy simple (and not so simple) pleasures. This stopover and their "working shore leave" had definitely improved morale. It was almost a shame that they'd have to depart soon, to put the information that Cerazod would be acquiring to use. A part of his mind was already planning the raid against the Federation research station. Orsin to crack the security, Nismi to infiltrate, Zeera and her team to cover their exit if (make that "when") something went wrong...

    That part ground to an abrupt halt as he took in the sight of what was waiting for him at the Dabo table. Crowned and garlanded with native flowers, a sarong wrapped around her waist, and with her tactical mirrorshades nowhere to be seen, Mishara was scarcely recognizable; it seemed that she'd taken his encouragement to "dress down" to heart, and then some. While showing that much skin didn't have the same significance it would for a mammal, S'Rastaa had to admit that it looked good on her. Damn good.

    Catching sight of him in turn, she strode toward him (a few other gamblers sensibly giving way) until they were face to face, then reached out and gently closed the jaw he hadn't realized was hanging open. "Really, Ras. You act as if you've never seen a female before."

    "I was just thinking of the first time we met," he replied, trying to cover his lapse. "A briefing on the Dominion. I was a junior lieutenant, second officer on the Arang'Sa, and you were attached to Admiral Raltha's staff."

    She cocked her head, regarding him dubiously with one slitted golden eye. "That was... what, forty years ago?"

    He nodded. "I don't remember a word of that briefing. But I remember you. For me, it was as if I'd never seen a female before." He chuckled. "And you weren't even in season."

    She put a hand on his chest. "We shouldn't," she murmured.

    "I know. Back then I was a line officer, and you were intelligence. Now I'm a field op - deniable and expendable, if it comes to that - and you're my contact. But just for tonight..." He took her hand. "Dance with me?"

    And so it was that a few dozen lucky tourists would be able to take home with them (and tell their friends about) the possibly once-in-a-lifetime sight of two Gorn slow-dancing under the stars.
    Join Date: January 2011
  • vdiddy5000vdiddy5000 Member Posts: 8 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Risa, Geosynchronous Orbit
    U.S.S. Huntress, Federation Runabout assigned to the U.S.S. Heart of Courage


    Lelia watched as the Risan sun set behind the curved horizon of the planet, the ensuing darkness blanketing the planet below and the Huntress herself. She looked herself over once more, her current outfit quite familiar now that she'd spent some time in it. She nodded to herself, satisfied, and stepped over to the transporter pad.

    "Computer, lock-on to the Resort transporter co-ordinates."

    The shuttles computer beeped, then chimed as it succeeded in her request.

    She spoke the magic word, "Energize", and the shuttle faded into a blue, glowing haze.

    Risa, Resort

    Moments later, the haze was replaced by the darkened scenery of the Risan resort, still very much a buzzing hub of activity.

    Lelia closed her eyes and breathed deeply, replacing the dry, monotonous air of the shuttle with the Risan beachside air. She wasn't overly fond of it; the humidity in the air choked her ever slightly, and the salt was sometimes palpable. She'd gotten a bit used to it through multiple visits, however, and tonight she found she somewhat liked it. Casually strolling away from the pad, she maneuvered along the wooden pier until she was at the far end. This was always her first stop, where she'd lean against the rail and simply stare into the ocean, watching it's symphony of movement in near-silence.

    She stood there for a time, perhaps as long as five or ten minutes, before she turned around and began towards the beach in earnest. She knew her bridge officers, as well as captains and bridge officers from dozens of other ships, were likely still spending the night away. In the base of the cove leading towards the resort hotel, a stone dance platform stood amongst the water. She could already see that a couple dozen people were on it, dancing for whatever reasons. She chuckled to herself; she'd done it once, but she wasn't much on unfamiliar groups...or dancing. Thank Gods nobody from the Courage saw me, she thought to herself.

    Instead, she found her usual quiet spot: at the lip of the of the beach was a cluster of three beach loungers, all facing out to the ocean. With nobody there to claim the space, she quietly reclined in one, letting the ambient sounds soak in as she gazed upwards to the stars. She knew that far out there, peacefully sleeping in the arms of the Fleet Shipyard, the Courage was patiently waiting for both her crew, and for the retrofit materials necessary to promote her to Fleet-standard. For now, however, she would have to continue to sleep.

    Several minutes passed by before she heard the soft, squishy footsteps of someone walking towards her. They stopped just short, their originator waiting for Lelias acknowledgement. "I know it's you, Imezei," Lelia said, chuckling. The Trill, the Courage's Head of the Science Department, wordlessly stepped up beside the chair and sat down on the sand.

    There was silence for several moments before Lelia looked over at her, noticing the slight smile on her tanned face. She found herself secretly approving of Imezeis new hair style; normally she kept it up in a bun, but on Risa she seemed to prefer it down. It looked good on her, or so Lelia thought anyway. "So, how's everyone?" she asked Imezei.

    Imezei sighed contently. "Oh, the usual. Korrah's been practicing Mokhbara all evening, though I think he's gone for a walk on the beach now. Thobak's been busy tweaking his Floater, no doubt to prove his is better than Korrahs." She chuckled, taking a breath. "Florence and Clarence have been playing a close-quarters-combat style of "hide and go seek", while Kheyes has been out-drinking everyone he's come across. Oh, and he's still willing to shave that beard of his if someone pulls it off, though he won't admit his little Andorian antennas go nuts every time he mentions it." She paused to think for a moment. "Meanwhile, Carma's had to fix her VISOR a third time this week thanks to sand and water...and Eight punched and Orion."

    Lelia twitched, slightly startled. "Eight punched an Orion? What for?"

    Imezei chuckled. "He was...heavily drunk, and got quite confused as to WHO he was grabbing...er...and she just reacted. Thankfully, the resort got footage of it and pardoned her for this one incident." Her smile dimmed slightly. "I think she went up to her room and hasn't been back since."

    Lelia nodded in understanding, then relaxed again. "Pota still flirting with the sunglasses vendor?"

    Imezei chuckled, faking shock. "THAT's what Ferengi call flirting? Looked more like a negotiation for a ten-year contract...seriously, though, I've learned more about the Rules of Acquisition here than I think I'm supposed to." She shook her head, chuckling. "I guess that's about it, though."

    It was Lelias turn to chuckle now. "I think you left yourself out of that status report, Commander." She raised an eyebrow playfully, smirking.

    "Well, Admiral, since we're suddenly so formal," Imezei began, "I started today where I left off from yesterday; since I'd collected five sea shells yesterday, I began searching for any forest snail shells today. I eventually found three, of two differing species. I then made a cursory analysis based on weight, color, shape..."

    Lelia laughed, waving her off. "Enough, enough, Ime. I was kidding," she chuckled again, sticking out her tongue. Imezei shrugged, then stuck out her own in mock defiance. They both fell quiet again, both eventually gazing off into the ocean.

    Minutes passed before Imezei finally spoke up. "Hey, let's go into the resort and grab a couple of drinks with Kheyes, no? Surely most everyone is back by now...besides, none of us has seen Admiral Wellingtons' 'Legendary' dance moves." The playful smile had returned.

    Lelia chuckled, squirming just a bit. "This Admiral will politely decline your request, as she doubts she will match the reputation that precedes her."

    Imezeis shoulder slumped. "Leli, come on! Every night you come down and just sit out here until you fall asleep. You never stay during the day, you never DO anything here...listen, from one friend to another?"

    Lelias face relaxed, knowing Imezei had something to say. "Go ahead, Ime."

    Ime frowned uncomfortably, then spoke her mind regardless. "Loosen up a little. There's no time like now." She stood, taking time to brush the sand off of her backside. "Besides, we'd all at least like to spend some casual time, together."

    Lelia frowned, uncomfortable about the thought. She sat there, thinking while Imezei simply waited, her patience waning as the Admirals reply took longer and longer. Finally, though, Lelia stood up and straightened out the Entrepreneurs Jacket she custom-ordered from the Consortium. "Alright, you're tactical application of blunt charm and honesty in the face of your commanding officer has worn me down."

    Imezeis face lit up. "Seriously?"

    Lelia chuckled. "Yeah, yeah." She sighed, trying to bury her self-conscious attitude. "Lead the way, Ime."

    Imezei audibly squealed, hooked her arm in Lelias, and started leading her to the building. Even from here, they could hear Kheyes slurred voice over the hum of everyone else. "Now, if you prefer your drinks sweet, you can probably get..." Imezei began, and Leli already knew this was gonna be one heck of a night.
  • ambassadormolariambassadormolari Member Posts: 709 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    "It's too bright out here," Ziala said for what felt like the thousandth time that day.

    It might have sounded cliche by this point, but it was the truth. Everything about Risa seemed to be going out of its way to assault Ziala's sensitive eyes: if it wasn't baleful, blazing orb of the Risian sun searing at her poor retinas, then it was the effulgent blue of the sky, the blistering white of the buildings, or the nauseatingly dizzying rainbow of pinks, greens, oranges and other bright colours being worn by the general populace. As a young woman used to living in the dark of mining outposts and night-worlds all of her life, Ziala's eyes were practically being bombarded with a brightness that they could not adapt to. Even with the shield-framed sunglasses she she had just brought from a nearby Ferengi vendor, it was still damnably uncomfortable for her.

    Next to her, Centurion Taliv, the R.R.W. Terix's ranking officer, flashed her a white smile. "You say that about every world we visit, Lieutenant," he said with a chuckle. Taliv was a newly-promoted member of the Republic military, like her, and he was handsome, for a Romulan, with broad facial features, deep brown eyes and dark hair tied back in a ponytail. And like her, he was out of uniform at the moment, wearing a casual beige shirt and loose khakis instead of his olive jacket and jumpsuit.

    "Yes, and that's because every world we visit is too bright!" Ziala huffed. And warm, she mentally added. On Crateris, at least, it had been cool and temperate in the mountain valleys. Here, though, on Risa, the temperature was practically baking. Which was part of the reason why, at Lieutenant Nalae's suggestion, she had come down here dressed in a loose white dress from her personal wardrobe. This had made her feel much less uncomfortable, and at least, she thought, she was dressed more modestly than the flocks of Risians, Humans, Vulcans, Caitians, Andorians, and even Klingons swarming the hotel in skimpy swimwear that left little to the imagination. And she wasn't even going to get started on the Orions...

    Taliv simply chuckled again and shook his head. "This is shore leave, Ziala!" he said, taking a sip from his mai-tai. "A time to relax, to cut loose and have a little fun! Which means not minding that the planet is a little bright."

    Ziala raised an eyebrow at him. "In that case, can we go on shore leave someplace cavernous next time?" she suggested.

    The Centurion gave her a modest shrug. "Well, that's up to the Subcommander, not me," he said, "though I can suggest it to her if you want." He finished off his mai-tai and put it onto the tray of a nearby Risian waiter. "Anyway, there's much more that you can do here on Risa instead of standing in the shade all day looking grumpy, Ziala. I hear they're holding horgh'an hunts with floaters."

    Ziala laughed a little, despite herself. "Thanks, Centurion, but that's a bad idea," she said to Taliv. "If there's one thing that we Remans aren't, it's aerodynamic." She blushed a little. "That, and, well...the vendors banned me after I tried to tinker with one of their display floaters."

    Taliv flashed the Terix's Chief Engineer a quizzical frown.

    "What?" Ziala protested. "I was curious!"

    The Centurion sighed. "Sometimes I'm glad we don't attend any official diplomatic functions," he said, before suddenly frowning and inclining his head to the side. Ziala heard it too: the heavily synthesized beat of Risian pop-funk, and the magnified voice of a dance instructor shouting out commands to her partygoing minions.

    A slow grin crept over Taliv's broad, handsome features. "Hear that? That's the sound of about a dozen sentient beings having more fun than you. It is your duty as an officer of the Romulan Republic to prove them wrong." He beckoned to her. "Come on, let's dance."

    Ziala blinked in surprise, and felt her cheeks burn. Or was that the sun? She could no longer tell. "I'm...not that good a dancer, sir," she managed to blurt out.

    Taliv responded with a good-natured laugh. "Here's a secret: neither am I. But I'm not going to let something like that stop me from enjoying myself on a Risa vacation." He flashed her a mischievous grin. "Of course, if you want it to be said that a Romulan could out-dance a Reman any day of the week, then you can just stay here and grumble."

    Ziala hesitated. It wasn't just that she was a poor dancer and was afraid of embarrassing herself. Back on Crateris, she had heard endless stories about the Romulans and their cruelty and oppression from the elders of the colony, her father included. She had allowed herself to believe that, until the Republic's forces came, swooping in like the raptor of legend, to rescue Crateris' inhabitants from the invading Elachi. She had learned, on that day, that no matter what had happened in the past, the Romulans of the Republic, at least, weren't the monsters she had been taught about. They were capable of great evil, true, but also of heroism, nobility and generosity.

    She knew her father would have had an apoplectic fit if he had known Ziala was accepting a Romulan's offer to dance. He would have reminded her of the various crimes that Romulans had committed against Reman women. But her father wasn't here now.

    "You're on, sir," she said with a smile, accepting Taliv's hand.



    *****

    "Subcommander," Jarok began, "maybe we should--"

    "Shush," the Subcommander said.

    Jarok fidgeted. He was sure one of the local insects must have crawled down his shirt. "I was just about to say that--"

    "I said 'shush.'" The Subcommander didn't bother looking back at him. "You know, the one vowel that seems to mean the same thing in every galactic dialect? Do that."

    Jarok bit his lower lip and shut up, holding onto the biometric container all the more tightly as he crouched against the tall grass. In front of them, the Subcommander knelt gently against the nearby undergrowth and held the tangled knots of vines back with one hand, gazing intently through the opening at whatever-the-Elements-it-was that fascinated her.

    They had been out here in the wilderness for over an hour now, traversing the entire island in what could only be called an impromptu nature expedition. Jarok hadn't minded, at first, when they had flown above the jungle canopy on floaters. The brief period of flight had been exhilarating and enjoyable, and had been one of the many things he had been looking forward to here on Risa. Unfortunately, the moment of fun hadn't lasted long when, out of the blue, the Subcommander had ordered him to touch down along the slopes of a forest-encrusted mountain. From there, for the last half hour or so, they had been traversing on foot, wading through tangled jungle and enduring the heat, the steep incline, the sickly-sweet plant smell, and the Elements-forsaken bugs and their incessant bites. And the most infuriating part of it all was that the Subcommander didn't seem bothered by these inconveniences in the slightest.

    "If you only told me what we were looking for..." Jarok said again.

    "I don't need you to look, Jarok," Subcommander Ta'nara cut in sharply as she peered through the clearing. ""I just need you to hold on to that container and do as you're told. I trust you can manage that."

    Jarok bit back a retort-- he knew better than to badmouth a commanding officer, even if that commanding officer had dragged him away on this little trip just when a rather fetching Orion woman had been showing him a hor'gahn. "Yes Subcommander," he mumbled, annoyed again at the ruination of what might have possibly been the best night of his life.

    Not that Ta'nara had paid heed to his tone. The slim woman remained crouched by the clearing, the vine cluster aside with one gloved hand, gazing out into the clearing with the same cold intensity with which she usually read reports or stared at unknown vessels. Like most of the crew of the Terix, she was dressed for shore leave, wearing a loose green sleevless tunic and a match lateen skirt, along with an elaborate auburn scarf that hung loosely from around her shoulders, and a bandolier full of assorted kits and bottles. Her short-cropped black hair remained smoothe and unruffled by the journey, and if she was bothered at all by the heat, then her cool gaze didn't show it. The Subcommander was, Jarok had to admit, an attractive woman, with a slim build and delicate facial features.

    But, Elements, the woman could be utterly frightening sometimes. Some captains commanded by charisma, or feats of personal valour, or simply by having records that spoke for themselves. Subcommander Ta'nara fit into none of the above categories-- she was a stern, uncompromising woman with a hard-bitten, icy personality and a ruthless streak a mile wide. While she was certainly competent, and definitely respected aboard the Terix, she was hardly liked or loved by her crew. Some rumours circulated that she was a defector from the Star Empire, or worse, from the Tal Shiar. Jarok had never believed any of those rumours, but he had to admit, it wasn't difficult for him to imagine the Subcommander as one of the dread operatives of the Tal Shiar.

    "Alright," Ta'nara suddenly breathed, "follow me, Jarok. Try not to step on anything fragile on the way."

    And with that, Ta'nara rose to her feet and ghosted right through the vine cluster. She was courteous enough, at least, to hold the vines back to allow Jarok to stumble and stagger his way through, clutching the biometric container all the while. Ta'nara still hadn't told him why they needed the container in the first place-- the only explanation she had given when this whole ordeal had begun was a statement of "You're a biologist." He was a veterinarian, for the Elements' sake!

    As Jarok finally made his way through the vines, however, the reason for this entire unpleasant trip was finally revealed, sitting in front of him as though on display.

    "An egg," he said flatly.

    Ta'nara raised an eyebrow as she let go of the vines. "Very observant of you, Mr. Jarok," she said.

    It was indeed an egg-- a beige-gold shell, roughly the size of Jarok's head, sitting squatly on a tangled nest of twigs and branches. In the midday sun, the egg seemed to glow a vibrant gold, illluminating the latticework of cracks and ridges on its surface.

    Slowly, Jarok took a deep breath and set the container down. "Permission to speak freely, Subcommander?" he asked.

    "Granted," Ta'nara said almost absent-mindedly as she crept forwards, running a gloved hand across the egg's surface.

    "Subcommander, with all due respect...what are we doing out here, in the sweltering jungle, looking for an egg?" Jarok asked, doing his best to keep the exasperation from his voice as he wiped the sweat from his brow.

    Ta'nara didn't even look back at him as she stared at the egg. "Jarok, what do you know of Risian avian lifeforms?"

    Jarok gave a tired shrug. "Tropical birds? Very little, Subcommander," he said. "Back on New Haakona, I mainly dealt with canines, the odd feline or targ...I'm more or less a mammal person."

    "And yet here you are now, with a science officer's posting on a Republic vessel." Ta'nara glanced back at him. "Think of this as an opportunity, Jarok, to explore and to learn. To become more than just a 'mammal person.'"

    She didn't even wait for Jarok to respond as she turned back to the egg. "Now," she said, "take out your tricorder, scan this egg, and tell me what you find."

    Still unsure of where this was going, Jarok nonetheless did as he was told, pulling out his tricorder. The device hummed and blinked as it fed him readings. "The lifeform inside seems to be entering its final stage of development," he said. "Vital signs are good...everything about it seems to be normal as far as I can tell."

    "Can you determine any genetic makeup at this stage?" she asked.

    Jarok frowned as he entered a new query. "Beyond just avian, no Subcommander," he said. "I can't pinpoint an exact species."

    Ta'nara nodded sagely, as though she had expected this answer. "That's one of the noteworthy things about Risian birds, Jarok," she said. "Aside from their colourful plumage and tremendous possible wingspan, their biology seems completely random. Something about their genetics not only baffles sensors at the conceptual stage, but it seems to form completely independent of inherited DNA-- a sunspray, for instance, could just as easily birth a grotto glider as one of its own flock. To this day, apparently, even the Federation's best haven't found an answer as to why their DNA is so indeterminate." She glanced back at the egg. "Every single egg is a mystery, Jarok. You never know which species of bird you're going to get, even if you do know the species of the parents."

    Jarok was stunned. Not just because of the information he had just been given, but because this was the first time he had ever heard Ta'nara share information so openly and so willingly. "You seem very knowledgeable about this, Subcommander," he said.

    The Subcommander's face remained impassive as she stared at the egg. "You're not the only one who was something else before he joined the Republic, Jarok," she said. "Ready the container. We're taking this egg back to the ship for prenatal care."

    Jarok glanced at the egg. "If I may ask, Subcommander...why? I would have thought the egg would do just fine in its home environment."

    Ta'nara shook her head. "In case you hadn't noticed, Jarok, this egg's mother is missing." She gestured to the clearing. "I made sure to get a good look at our environment before we came here, Jarok. Under normal circumstances, you would see signs of activity here-- bird droppings, detritus from nest-building, freshly-dropped feathers. I see none of those: this egg's mother has been absent for some time. Chances are, she was killed by a natural predator, or possible was poached, either by an offworld party or the Risians themselves. Either way, this egg's mother is gone, and without her, the hatching will die soon after it's born."

    The reply left Jarok speechless. This was the first time Ta'nara had seemed to genuinely care about something. "But why us?" he asked. "Why so much trouble over one bird hatchling?"

    The Subcommander's reply was heralded by something Jarok thought he would never see: a faint smile. "Because we're kindred spirits with this bird, Jarok," she replied. "Like this bird, we've been cast adrift and abandoned. Like this bird, we all would have died if someone hadn't shown up at the right place, and the right time."

    She glanced back at the egg, and ran a gloved hand across its surface almost affectionately. "And like this egg, Jarok, our Republic will grow. It will be slow, and it will be painful, but by the end of it all, the Republic will grow into something magnificent and fearsome. That is why we're taking it back to the ship: so we can all have a living symbol and reminder of what it is we're striving towards."

    Slowly, Ta'nara stood back up and glanced down at Jarok. "Incidtentally, I'm leaving it to you to give the bird a name and take care of it once it's hatched, Jarok."

    Jarok glanced up at her quizzically. "Why me?" he asked, even as he stood up and gently lifted the egg to place it in the biometric container."

    That faint smile returned again. "Because, Lieutenant, you're the ship's biologist."
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • wraithshadow13wraithshadow13 Member Posts: 1,538 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    I dislike Ferengi, I suppose I've always disliked them, even before being forced to sit here listening to one try to extort me for money I didn't have. Such greedy little things they are, and here I was sitting poolside with a grubby little whelp like this standing between me and my ultimate goal of revenge against Hakeev. For the most part he was brash and foolish, driven solely by greed. The meeting place was here on Risa, some generic resort, budget of course, but he picked some where very public, which means that he was expecting me to double cross him, or more probably he was planning to double cross me and use the crowd to get away safely.

    We were poolside as he smiled that wretched little sharp toothed grin at me. It made me sick to my stomach to think he had vital information to me. Vrel T'Sod wasn't the sort to have a grubby worm like this making demands. I couldn't stand to look at the thing any longer when suddenly it happened. Suddenly in the pool area, there was a massive splash and a huge commotion bringing the crowd over to see what was going on. As the masses gathered I looked over at the mongrel and gave him a nice little smile of my own. He threw up his hands in submission and the whelp whimpered a little.

    I can't say that I took great pleasure in what happened next, but I really did. The Ferengi had brought with him a horga'hn statue, a mistake he soon regret as I began bludgeoning him repeatedly with it. The shock and awe poolside was making enough noise to cover his screams, my ocular implant making sure I didn't do any serious injury beyond a simple bludgeoning. I then emptied his pockets and slid in my own modified tricorder into his pocket before slipping away into the the distance. It didn't take long for the Risan officials arrived to the scene bringing with them a medical team to take two bodies to the nearest facility.

    Luckily for me the tricorder would be easy to track since I'd modified it heavily from the both my own systems as well as from the Arien, my commandeered Adapted Battle Cruiser. It's Borg pieces would make it easy enough to track if you knew what to look for, a fact I was counting on to find what I'd come to Risa for.

    Dr. Amar San

    A hedonistic and sadistic monster behind a scalpel, and a butcher, even before becoming Hakeev's assistant in the assimilation experiments. A sociopath and a murder held strictly in check by fear, which speaks volumes for his methods if it's enough to keep some one like San under control. Annually the Lohlunat festival what Dr. San's only vacation and reprieve from the strict control of the Tal Shiar. From what sources tell me Amar kept a special lab some where here on Risa, some place where the occasional traveler could disappear without too many question, for some less than scientific experiments.

    Thanks to me planting a specially modified tricorder on him, it would be a big red flag for a Ferengi to be carrying something like that. All I had to do was follow the trail myself and it would give me the location that the selfish little Ferengi was supposed too. It didn't take long for the ambulance to reroute, giving me a direct ticket to which ever location held the good doctor. A few minutes later the ambulance stopped off at what seemed to be a private hospital, well guarded, which was more private security than Risan, which was odd given that security had been tight and fast since some crazy cult managed to take over the weather generators a few decades earlier.

    It seemed that as part of hiding a shop of horrors was putting up a front of as a free service for visitors. Hiding in plain sight was an easy way to keep yourself covered when enough money was involved. Risa wasn't asking questions since it was a free and well stocked hospital, a well paid dispatcher or two was all it took to keep an eye out for certain distinct oddities that might gain Amar San's attention. The work I put into the tricorder was nothing major, but the tech had Tal Shiar finger prints all over it, so it wouldn't take long for San to catch wind.

    As a front, I was able to simply walk in, but I was almost sure that I'd been made at the moment I'd walked into the front gate, not for who I was as much as for what I was. I'm sure my internal systems had very similar fingerprints, and given that I was Hakeev's "Perfect Specimen", so surely Amar would be able to recognize the face on closer inspection giving me the perfect chance to cross one more name from my list ridding Risa and the Universe of one more bit of undeserving scum. I made my way to reception and simply told them that I was here to see my lover, a small Ferengi that had been attacked and robbed while waiting for me at the pool, a tragic accident.

    I signed in under a false name, half of which belonged to the swollen pair of ears lying in the hospital bed. It would take a moment or two to get the attention of Amar's assistant and then another to get the Doctor out of what ever experiment happening behind the hospital facade, all I had to do was bide my time. A nurse led me to beaten little man who lie unconscious in a hospital bed with all of his injuries still intact, bad for him, but a good sign for me. My little message had indeed been noticed, because normally injuries like these would have been treated already, maybe nothing more than a little bruising. As I stood there waiting I emptied my pockets of the Ferengi's personal effects and an I.O.U. of sorts for his troubles.

    Out of now where my head began spinning. An odd sensation letting me know that it wasn't a normal feeling as I gripped the side of the medical bed trying to steady myself.

    A fail safe...

    It had to be, there was no other explanation. Somehow the sadistic monster or it's master had managed to place a fail safe of my internal systems in case such a thing ever happened. I raised my head as best as I could only to see the blurring shape of a long white lab coat coming in my direction as I drifted slowly to the floor. At least it seemed like it was floating slowly, but I'm sure I'd hit my head pretty good as I had a massive headache when I'd awoke in an all too familiar room filled with many familiar old tools and instruments. I was in an operating room much like the one I'd been in when Hakeev had implanted me with so much Borg Technology.

    Across from me, laying flat on a very similar dissection table as mine, was a strange young man, he looked like one of my people, or at least a Vulcan given the ears but no forehead ridges, he looked like he was in the early stages of assimilation not to mention he looked as though he'd been hit by a small shuttle craft, but from what my ocular implant was showing me, I was looking at an empty table. Who knows what types of experiments Amar San had been putting this poor kid through leaving him in such an abused state, only to continue Hakeev's twisted mission of creating an army of Drones under the Tal Shiar's control, drones that could hide in the most undetectable place: plain sight. Millions of Drones across galaxies, all feeding the Tal Shiar any number of secrets from unknowing government officials, sleeper agents ready to assassinate or assimilate without even knowing they'd been assimilated.

    Who knows what technology Amar San might have accumulated over the last few years, as well as what ever she could have done to this new style of drone before me. At least that's what I'd thought until the Doctor had begun telling me what a gift had been found here on Risa, like it had been some sort of present offered to her by Hakeev's masters. Fate itself couldn't have been more kind as the Ferengi with the adapted tricorder arrived after an accident involving an anomaly of a man which would all end in a day when Hakeev's second greatest work had returned to in a nice little package to return to the Tal Shiar. I was more than a little confused at this point given what I was seeing, as well as what I suppose I wasn't seeing, and I was going to be forced to watch as San tore into the boy to find out how he worked.

    The young man began trying to ask questions as the doctor began to cut into him with no regard for his health or safety, much like my own experience with this psycho. I couldn't help but cringe as he yelled out in pain. I've been there, i've been under the precision scalpel of a completely insane surgeon, and I can remember every cut made until the point I would pass out. My guess was none of the instruments or scanners were working on this drone given that my implants couldn't even detect him, so surgery was entirely exploratory. I couldn't even struggle since I was still under what ever kill switch they'd implanted in me, so I began yelling for attention.

    Attention is exactly what I received. Amar San was not one to be interrupted or yelled at, a lesson I knew all too well, as I was struck with some sort of electrical prod. I heard laughter as I was struck again and again and again as I could feel myself getting close to blacking out again when I realized that the laughter wasn't coming from just one person, a fact that seemed to dawn on San as well, who turned in time to see the man struggling against his restraints, restraints which a normal Vulcan or Romulan should not have been able to break yet like a beast breaking its chains, he was slowly freed. San's eyes widened as well as the frightened and beaten young man suddenly became so much more. Like a monster from fables he changed before our eyes as his bonds snapped and he slowly moved to stand up.

    I couldn't imagine what strength it might have it's current state, but it was no longer the boy who I awoke too, and the look on Amar's face was complete awe. I almost believed that the doctor had thought this... creature as nothing more than a thing of absolute beauty. As it moved closer Amar snapped back to reality calling for security, which obliged in no time. San moved back to safety, yelling "I want it alive, and if not, I want it to be salvageable!" The team moved in armed with some type of stun baton, and again I was forced to watch a surgery driven by brutality.

    The guards moved in, but any attempt to attack or restrain the boy was met with a harsh counter, none of them were spared as the bloodied and battered drone began moving towards the doctor. As one guard came at him and swung, the boy caught the wrist, snapping it by grip alone before driving his knee almost through the ribcage. As he brought his foot down it went straight into the calf of an approaching guard breaking it in half. Before the first man even dropped to the floor the monster had brought his fist sideways into the second guards face as he screamed from the busted leg, his jaw shattered from the sheer force. As guard after guard moved in, the thing dispatched them with ease, not a single movement was wasted.

    The Doctor ran as the private army fell as soon as they dared raise a hand. As long as they weren't attacking yet, he didn't move against them, but as soon as they became a perceived threat they were dealt with, I honestly couldn't say if he was killing them, but the injuries for sure would cripple them for life. He must have been running off of nothing but instinct at this point, perhaps Borg in nature, but something I could use to my advantage since my implants seemed to be malfunctioning from the what ever that prod had been hitting me with, though I could move slightly, the fail safe had failed.

    I called out to him as he fought... no, fought wasn't the right word, they stood no chance, and I might be able to use this to make sure Doctor Amar San didn't stand any chance either, so I called out to the boy. I played to his instinct as we were both (more than likely) filled with Borg technology of some type, I played to the common enemy of San. As the last guard fell it came over and observed me, staring me in the eyes, its own overly dilated and purely animal. It stared at me, the expression was cold and angry, a primal anger... It reached up and ripped my own restraints clear before heading out of the door.

    I reached down and pulled the pin on one of the explosives before stumbling out of the room. The initial explosion wasn't much, but it triggered the rest of the plasma grenades began to go off. The wall next to me burst from the force tossing me into the adjacent wall, as much as it hurt, I kept pushing forward through it though. I must see this this to the end, so I pushed further. As the standard fire suppression systems began going off, the patients began evacuating, probably for the better, since a laboratory like San's couldn't be allowed to exist anymore.

    I tracked them to the roof, the signs of chase were obvious, terrified patients fleeing an unseen horror, blast marks on the walls leading to the stairwell. As I reached the top I found my temporary ally, and what better way to slay a monster than with a monster of your own? As she neared her shuttle I handed the boy a small vial and ordered him to put it between the two. As he did so I picked the weapon from a downed guard and fired, igniting the fluid as it spilled out, effectively putting a plasma fire up so the ship was in accessible. I leaned up against the door as the man went after Amar, explosions continued to shake the building as he approached her, his torso, still bleeding as he grabbed San by the throat in a single hand.

    Then nothing....

    The monster was no longer that, no longer driven by hatred. The anger was gone, that killer instinct was gone, and I was standing behind that young make who I had met as I had come too. That boy, I know now, is not the killer that hunted the doctor to this end, but fate as it seemed, would be on my side as another explosion caused the roof to cave in. Once upon a time Dr. Amar San had been a beautiful woman, she was smart, and lovely, and a gifted surgeon, all held together by a large amount of insanity. Now however she was nothing more than a screaming smoldering mess pressed under the burning bits of rooftop. The boy went to help her, but I placed my hand on his foot and stopped him, he looked at me confused, but I suppose he read my expression and could tell that this one could, but shouldn't be saved.

    He didn't say a word, but his face became a sad look as he reached down and grabbed my uniform, dragging me out of the building as it came down around us. As we got outside he lifted me to my feet with a single arm like it was nothing, leading me to a group of doctors and patients, but didn't stop. He just kept walking off towards the treeline, my best guess was back to where ever he had been staying before what ever accident placed him in the hands of the late Dr. Amar San. I don't know who he was but I would be sure to put out a few lines to see what I might catch, this strange young man would be impossible to not notice, so some one out there must know more about them.

    As I watched him disappear slowly into the jungle lit only by the burning hospital, I decided I'd had enough of a pleasure planet like Risa. I hit a small transmitter in the sleeve of my coat and beamed myself out with one less name weighing down on my soul, sadly as that poor wretch had many more added onto his...
  • zidanetribalzidanetribal Member Posts: 218 Arc User
    edited March 2016
    Literary Challenge #46: Risian Getaway

    LC46: How to Tame Your Dragon

    Last time on Star Trek Online: Lord English...

    ---
    Captain's Log, supplemental. Admiral Kathryn Janeway, once captain of USS Voyager, described the Vaadwaur in unsavory terms. With their species driven close to extinction over nine hundred years ago, the remaining Vaadwaur, members of an elite military battalion, attempted to commandeer Voyager in an effort to destroy their enemies before fleeing to parts unknown. Now one of these Vaadwaur has made her way to the Lord English. Captain Sulu has given me free rein to deal with our new visitor, and as a result, I've sent the Jake English to an undersea trench in case the debriefing of our new visitor fails and drastic actions have to be taken to prevent loss of civilian life.

    ===

    Deep in an undersea trench, an Aquarius mission pod ran silent, undisturbed by the abyssal life which floated around it. On board, Orion Security Chief Aranea Serket and Aenar Senior Counselor Jhamyn Othisi were finishing their debriefing with their Vaadwaur visitor, Junior Scout Lesa. Meanwhile Vice Admiral Remus Lee had an open channel to Captain Akira Sulu.

    "So what have you learned from your captive, admiral?" Sulu asked.
    "Outside of her name and species, nothing much," Lee replied. "She seems to be withholding information out of spite. My counselor is unable to get much information telepathically. However, what both she and my security chief have gathered through body language though is that she truly is concerned about being far from Vaadwaur space."
    "Starfleet Command has asked the USS Solaris to reach your position if you need it. Do you believe the Vaadwaur prisoner is dangerous?" Sulu asked.

    Lee nonchalantly waved off Sulu's concerns.

    "I don't think we need to bother Admiral Beringer about this. In my opinion, our Vaadwaur guest can be treated as an ambassador from the Vaadwaur rather than a potential threat," he stated.

    Sulu's brow furrowed as he pondered Lee's unorthodox plan. The Federation-Klingon War has depleted Starfleet's pool of officers with years of command experience, and Admiral Lee, like most of the captains minted after Vega IX, used enthusiasm and drive to compensate for his lack of professionalism and maturity. On the other hand, it was this same James Kirk-like independent streak which allowed captains like Remus Lee to outlive more by-the-books officers. Sulu thought of his old friend, the late Captain John Hollingsworth...

    "I've never doubted your opinion before, admiral, and I won't do so now," he finally replied. "The Vaadwaur prisoner is in your hands, and I expect that you'll adhere to Federation principles in your dealings with her."
    "You've known me since I was a lieutenant on the Tavros Nitram, 'kira. You can trust me not to TRIBBLE up our guest too much. By the way, you should spend some time here; the weather is fine and the mai tais are excellent," Lee suggested.
    "Another time, admiral. I have much work to do defending the Federation. Sulu out."

    Admiral Lee closed his PADD and stuck it back in his pocket. On the horizon, the Jake English broke the surface of the water right in front of the twin sunrise of Risa. Lee waved at his security chief on the mission pod's bridge before flying off in search of more horgh'ans.

    ---

    Junior Scout Lesa examined her environs. There were no signs of heavy industry, no war machines in parked formation, no battalions enforcing martial law on discontent subjects. This was indeed an alien world to Lesa. She saw a couple frolicking around in the sands.

    "Those aliens are moving very carelessly. One of them already fell down and dragged its companion down with it. It seems as if the inhabitants of this planet are very undisciplined and inefficient with their time."

    Lesa's attention then turned to the Aenar walking on the boardwalk. Clad in a white sundress and broad-brimmed straw hat and holding a parasol, Senior Counselor Jhamyn Othisi strode to Lesa and offered her a combadge.

    "Admiral Lee has allowed you to explore Risa at your leisure with the stipulation that somebody accompany you. As long as you don't start wrecking the pleasure planet, he sees no need to keep you in our custody," she told Lesa.

    Lesa stared gamely at the young Aenar. Not so long ago, she was sitting across from her, a grim visage trying to break down the Vaadwaur for information. Now here she was, all sunshine, without a trace of the enmity which she wore for the past eight hours.

    "Leisure is not for a Vaadwaur," Lesa told Jhamyn. "A Vaadwaur's duty is to strengthen our Supremacy until all threats are eliminated."
    "Forgoing leisure time can be detrimental to one's mental health, you know," Jhamyn stated. "I should know, I'm a counselor. Here, let me take you to where my friends are."

    Grasping Lesa's hand, Jhamyn took Lesa down the boardwalk in search of her friends. Lesa could only wonder how aliens could devote an entire planet to pleasure. The Vaadwaur would have drained the planet dry if it furthered the Supremacy's agenda, she thought.

    ---

    "Tulip ga kaze ni katamuki yoko muita~"

    Singing an ancient Japanese folk tune to herself, Commander Ten of Twenty-Five reclined in her gazebo chair while drawing on her PADD. Across the way, her friend Commander Newa leaned on an end table eating a Deferi Snow Tuber while waiting for Jhamyn to join them in a jaunt on Risa. Presently, Jhamyn and Lesa arrived at their gazebo. Lesa took a seat next to Ten, much to Ten's annoyance.

    "The admiral has suggested that we extend to the fullest the Federation's hospitality to the representative of the Vaadwaur regardless of what first impressions we all have," Jhamyn explained.
    "It's all well and good, but does our Vaadwaur guest even want Federation hospitality?" Newa said around her snow tuber.
    "The hospitality of the Federation is unnecessary," she replied. "Protecting the Vaadwaur against their enemies is more than enough to sustain me."

    Ten frowned. The way the Vaadwaur talked about service to her species reminded her about the Borg, and it made the former drone uncomfortable. Sensing her discomfort, Jhamyn tried to change the subject.

    "Would you like something to eat?" she asked. "I assume that you would be hungry since you have been under surveillance as soon as you arrived here."
    "Vaadwaur service personnel subsist on a nutrient solution to be consumed during combat operations. Solid food is rationed for the leaders of the Vaadwaur as well as for Vaadwaur too young for active duty," Lesa replied. As if on cue, Lesa's stomach grumbled, garnering a smirk from Newa.
    "We don't have any nutrient solutions here, but I have something that would be just as effective in filling you up," she said, holding up a fried catfish.
    "Don't worry, it won't bite," she added smugly as she placed the catfish in Lesa's shocked mouth.

    Rather than killing her outright, as Lesa expected, the fish actually felt and tasted delectable, much more than the nutrition cubes she ate as a Vaadwaur toddler, and worlds apart from the nutrient solution she usually eats. As she consumed the fish, the tension around the gazebo started dissipating. Newa and Jhamyn smiled at each other while Ten visibly relaxed. Soon the gazebo atmosphere dissolved into a haze of good cheer as the three Starfleet officers ordered more potent foods for everyone to consume.

    ---

    Before long, the twin suns of Risa began to set, and crowds of partygoers thronged the docks to watch the fireworks. The three Lord English officers and their Vaadwaur ward picked out a spot on the beach to watch the fireworks, although Lesa still had questions as to the purpose of the event.

    "So hundreds of labor-hours and many metric tons of explosives are expended to produce visual stimuli lasting minutes?" she asked.
    "The combinations of colors, patterns, and sounds are designed to evoke emotional responses in the watchers, so that those who gaze upon them will come away enriched from the experience," Ten replied.
    "Even those who cannot fully enjoy the event due to a cultural or biological reason," Jhamyn added, pointing to her Aenar eyes, "can still appreciate it in the company of close friends."

    Newa punctuated the discussion by opening a bottle of Slug-o-cola.

    "The aim of a fireworks show is to provide a momentary distraction from the tribulations which beset the citizens of the Federation," Newa said in between sips. "Even though the Federation is fighting fang and claw to prevent its enemies from conquering it, its citizens still find the time to celebrate life and even invite those same enemies as a gesture of goodwill."

    Soon the fireworks started, and the crowds on the beach sat in awe at the pyrotechnic display which lit up the Risian sky. Lesa pondered her experiences in Federation space, and stared into the fireworks-lit sky.

    Director Gaul described the Voyagers as selfish and devious people who denied the Vaadwaur what they needed to restart our civilization and then tried to annihilate them when they protested, Lesa thought. Yet these Federation aliens have shown themselves to be generous and forthright, willing to share what they have even to those who seek to conquer them. I still can't rule out that this is one very drawn-out subterfuge to trick me to betray the Vaadwaur though.

    "So what do you think of the Vaadwaur?" Lesa asked aloud.

    Ten glanced aside at Lesa.

    "To be honest, we don't know what to think," she confessed. "The Vaadwaur were among the myriad aliens USS Voyager encountered during its seven-year trip home. We had to do some deep digging to find anything. Captain Janeway of the Voyager described first contact with your people as "shaky" since it ended with Voyager having to defend itself from Vaadwaur fighters trying to take over her ship."
    "Given the distance between Vaadwaur territory and the Federation, Starfleet was initially not ready to receive you as an envoy of the Vaadwaur," Jhamyn adjoined. "With the current state of Federation affairs, Starfleet does not desire to fight the Vaadwaur any more than they desire to fight the other interstellar governments we're combatting now. The Federation is more than willing to resort to arms to defend its citizens, but prefers making solutions which provide mutual benefits to all involved. This is our guiding principle."

    Lesa grew silent. The idea of mutual benefit was foreign to her; all sentient beings, Vaadwaur or alien, were ordered by Director Gaul to sacrifice everything for the continuation of the Vaadwaur species, or die violently as an example to others. This Federation, on the other hand, governs itself through cooperation and mutual support, yet is still strong enough to maintain the existence of its aliens. For the first time in her life, Lesa began to doubt herself and the goal to ensure the Vaadwaur's existence by denying their enemies existence. Lesa attempted reciting The Victories of the Vaadwaur but found that even that time-honored tradition lost its soothing effect on her as she began seeing the detrimental effects the victories had on the Vaadwaur.

    Seeing Lesa talking to herself, Newa turned towards her.

    "You seem distracted. Is there something on your mind?" she asked.
    "I was raised on the concept that the galaxy has nothing to offer the Vaadwaur except pain and misery if the Vaadwaur didn't act to tame it," Lesa responded. "Aliens like you, Ten, and Jhamyn were supposed to be conquered or destroyed if the Vaadwaur were to survive another decade. It never occurred to me that some aliens in the galaxy were like the Vaadwaur- just scratching an existence in a cold, unforgiving universe. Not to mention your dedication to sharing that existence with other aliens."

    Newa gave Lesa a cold stare before grinning.

    "Not every species in the galaxy is as welcoming as those belonging to the Federation. I'm sure you've heard of the Borg and their plan to assimilate all life into their Collective. Even then, the Federation is actively attempting to find a way to rescue as many drones as we can. The Federation is all about giving people chances, even if it ends up clawing us in the hindquarters. If you want to go back to the Vaadwaur, we will do our damnedest to get you back home, even if it kills us. Now let's enjoy the rest of the fireworks."

    Lesa fell silent once more. The fireworks show reached its climax, and in that span of time, Lesa decided on what she could do.

    ---

    The next day, Commander Kay Taylor met with Lesa as the latter requested, in the Admiral's ready room.

    "So Lesa, how can I help you?" she asked.
    "Commander Taylor, until the time comes when I can return to the Vaadwaur Supremacy, I will allow your Federation to utilize my skills for the service of the Vaadwaur," Lesa pledged while placing a fist over her heart.
    "I'm not exactly sure what you want, Miss Lesa," Kay answered with a bemused look. "Do you wish to establish a contract between you and Admiral Lee? He's still on Risa's surface."
    "I... not exactly, Commander. Counselor Othisi has told me that your Federation values mutual cooperation, and therefore I grant permission to use me in a way which serves both the Vaadwaur and the Federation."
    "So... you want to work with the Federation?"
    "'Working' with aliens is strictly forbidden under orders of Director Gaul, because a true Vaadwaur should take what is needed and get everything else by force. However, a Vaadwaur's first duty is to ensure his or her own survival in emergencies using whatever steps necessary. As the senior Vaadwaur combatant in the area, I've decided that cooperation with the Federation is required to ensure my survival."

    Kay smiled inside, though her face betrayed none of her emotion. She could clearly see that Lesa was now willing to cooperate with the Federation now that the enormity of her situation dawned on her. Her pride in being a Vaadwaur, however, prevented her from stating it outright and showing weakness as a result. No matter, she thought, it would be her honor to accept Lesa as a guest of the Federation.

    ===
    Captain's Log, supplemental. Operation Delta Defrost has paid off in spades. The Vaadwaur passenger we picked up in Pelia is prepared to play ball. We will escort her to Earth Spacedock where she will initiate a more formal working relationship with the Federation, and hopefully open doors to further relations with the Vaadwaur. This will also serve as a good excuse to test out the new Risian Corvette, RXS Serenity. After we take Lesa to meet with Ambassador Sugihara, we will meet up with Captain Yim again for another galaxy tour for credits.
    Post edited by zidanetribal on
  • pwebranflakespwebranflakes Member Posts: 7,741
    edited July 2013
    Sounds like some great getaways! Thanks to everyone who participated :)

    I'll be posting #47 shortly (hehe, "47"... just you wait ;)) -- feel free to still participate in this challenge if you have not yet, though!

    Cheers,

    Brandon =/\=
  • masopwmasopw Member Posts: 157 Arc User
    edited July 2013
    Chief Medical Officer's Personal Log, USS Bonaventure.

    Well, six days of relaxation and counting.

    For somebody else, that is. The last five days have had me busier than I've been in months...and that's including the various battles with the Borg, Klingon, and assorted races that do their best to make my patients experience the wonders of vacuum.

    But I'm not too busy to question the judgement of this crew. An observer checking the Sickbay logs would seriously doubt that the human race is advanced enough to achieve spaceflight.

    Never mind become warp capable.

    Ah...this is a personal log. It's only going to become available to others should I expire or commit some unspeakably unwholesome act...so I can be frank with how I feel that some of the crew have apparently beamed down without a portion of their brains. It's healthy to vent:

    Despite having graduated from Starfleet Academy, 16 officers have forgotten the adage of, "what goes up, must come down." 12 of those are science officers. Science officers that have forgotten about gravity. 8 single leg breaks from falling when their blasted floaters ran out of fuel, 3 dual leg breaks, and 5 dual leg breaks with either spinal or pelvic trauma to boot. The most severe injuries came when the victim thought that water would be a better place to fall than the land. Yes...these are the same science officers I trust to guide us through temporal, gravimetric, and other assorted spatial anomalies...officers who can't remember that water does not compress.

    *sigh*

    The next category of idiocy makes me regret serving on an Oddy, just because of the number of cases I had to deal with.

    Sunburn.

    This time it wasn't just the sciences that forgot about thermal radiation. 347 of these geniuses forgot to apply protection. Some of Starfleet's finest had burns on the most interesting parts of their anatomy... and no, I don't care to go over them in my personal log. Suffice to say that I have 67 bottles of Romulan Ale from those who asked very nicely for me to omit their treatment from their personnel file. After all, a prospective future captain can't have it become known that they burnt their....

    *shudder*

    Yes, I took the bribes. I need to stock up on medicinal supplies...and they make excellent bartering items when I need to "borrow" a shuttle. Hmm...actually, I'll be able to "borrow" the Rouge Valley, along with a double crew, for the next couple of months...

    Where was I? Ah...yes...thermal injuries. I don't know if I should include this with the sunburns, or open a new category of stupidity. How does one forget that sand gets hot? And how does one stay on a beach so long as to burn the soles of their feet?

    I ask only because the beaches at the resort island are narrow, with cool grass only meters away. Cool grass, and shady paths everywhere.

    But no...a half dozen souls burnt their soles by staying *on* the sand that was burning them. They didn't move to the grass, or even walk in the water. They stayed on the sand.

    I had to leave Sickbay and cry in my quarters for an hour after treating the fourth victim. Cried because this particular member of our crew holds such a lofty position, yet forgot their mind.

    And on the topic of injuries to the feet...you'd think that this crew has their brains in their boots...once they remove the boots, they remove the ability to think.

    How else do you describe why 132 of our crew had lacerations...some severe...on the tops of their feet? Again, those blasted floaters are to blame. I can almost hear the brain cells not firing as the thoughts came to them:

    "Uh...yeah...let's use a high speed device to dangle our legs as we fly though the air! It feels hot...let's dip our toes in that non-compressible water and hope the skin stays on!"

    or...

    "Hey...let's hunt for those horgon-whatchits! Let's use a high speed device to dangle our legs as we fly through the air...I'm sure I've cleared those trees...but those branches are small, they shouldn't hurt much!"

    Oh...how so very, very wrong.

    Ah. Starfleet's finest minds.

    One last category for our crew. Allergic reactions and abrasions from floral necklaces, bracelets, belts, garters...*sigh*....it seems like this crew draped flowers wherever they could. Not replicated ones, with neutral makeups, but the local flora that accounts for an astounding 288 casualties.

    288.

    Not a single one which was a minor reaction where one would say, "Hey...this stings a bit...better take it off." All 288 were severe enough to where topical analgesic creams wouldn't be adequate treatment.

    *pop*

    Ah...the sounds of a good Romulan Ale that starts to breathe...I need it.

    But first...a follow up on our Captain.

    I'm becoming very concerned about him...him and our XO. Since that incident a month ago, he's been a little withdrawn. Quiet. And our Betazoids have reported signs that our Captain is exhibiting symptoms of severe PTSD. Nightmares...intrusive thoughts...depression. When even the Betazoids who aren't in our Counselling Division report it out of concern, it's time to take notice. It was...no, I won't betray confidence, even in a personal log...well, a junior officer said she felt the Captain become extremely agitated at the announcement that Risa was our shore leave destination. She said his mind screamed, "Risa is gone...destroyed by the Borg."

    But it's not. And the fact that he thought it was disturbs me at many levels.

    Our XO? Her eyes have been red...and not from some pollen allergies. I've seen those kind of eyes a thousand times...eyes that have been up all night crying.

    Neither of them has beamed down yet.

    Think I'll invite them over to share this bottle...and politely suggest they get off this ship for a spell.

    Computer, end log.
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