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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #3: "Some Other Side of Paradise"

  1. #101
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    It's while checking in over the xenobiology that Rangin lets his mind wander back over the conversation he just had with Kylah.

    She had seemed ok when she left and he had headed off in the other direction. She had apologised for getting his name wrong and then there was her business with Ferguson. Rangin couldn't understand why would someone in Starfleet would act that way towards one of their colleagues, let alone one of their shipmates, and considered that Kylah was probably just reading too much into it. Back on his own planet, Rangin would have steered well clear of the matter, a bit of corruption and intimidation still existed, although it was certainly much reduced from previous times. But then he had joined up with Starfleet precisely because it was wrong.

    Rangin didn't really know Ferguson, so it was possible he was just a bit of a creepy guy anyway, they exist and in general you have to accept it. Given her lack of tact on shore leave, perhaps Kylah didn't realise this. But the one thing Rangin couldn't doubt was her sincerity. If she thought it had happened, it had probably happened, although it was more likely to be a misunderstanding on both parts. It was not like she was an actual princess, she had said so.

    Rangin tried to remember what she had said she was. He had almost missed it first time around when she was speaking about Ferguson and her voice had dipped slightly.

    "She's not a princess," she said, "just a minor member of the royal family" or something like that. Perhaps that was why she was being so coy about saying anything about where she had come from. He had assumed she was human, which could now be considered a mistake, but he wasn't sure which planet she came from.

    Rangin felt himself getting a headache, possibly for the trials of the last few weeks and possibly because he had just bought burger and fries for nobility, which she had appeared to enjoy immensely. He cringed inwardly at the thought he had had a princess on his arm and wondered if his manners had been up to scratch. He shook his head and took a deep breath. She was an ensign just like himself, the same rank, nothing different, equals.

    He could go and see if he could find out something about where she had come from, but that...that just seemed wrong. No, it would be better if he was her friend, plain and simple. Ferguson on the other hand. Well a brief bit of looking where he came from wouldn't hurt. Something to do while finishing off here. Actually, a brief look at everyone might be a good idea, and hopefully it would prevent him from making the same mistake again.

    He sighed and settled down to look over the ships compliment.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  2. #102
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    Rangin clicks a switch on the Xenobiology lab's access terminal. He is alone in the room. "Library Computer," comes the almost-feminine voice over the familiar quiet metal-chattering noise.

    He clears his throat. "Ship's personnel records, USS Yorktown. Nonclassified."

    More chattering. "Working... ready."

    "Engineering personnel. Last name Ferguson."

    More chattering, then a beep. "There are two USS Yorktown Engineering personnel named Ferguson."

    Hadn't thought of that. "Uh, a transporter technician."

    The computer says promptly, "Ferguson, Lt. JG Mark. Engineering. Transporter specialist. Age 32. Born Portland, Maine, United States of America, Earth. Public schools. Graduated University of Maine. Graduated Starfleet Academy. Previous service, USS Constitution and USS Jakarta, also as transporter specialist. Assigned to USS Yorktown eight months ago. Two commendations for Engineering excellence."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 02 Sep 2013 at 11:24 AM.

  3. #103
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    Rangin rubs his eyes wondering what he is doing. A normal human from Earth, what's the deal with that.

    "Any non-classified issues concerning females. Also any connection to Ensign Kylah in Communication."

    He waits for the answers but expects nothing. It probably is just a big misunderstanding. Perhaps his room mate from Engineering might have some gossip on him that would be of more value.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  4. #104
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    "Thank you for sharing this with me, Kylah," T'Var says in as gentle and reassuring a tone as possible. There are times when T'Var's words come forth and sound cold, heartless -- though the doctor tries to inject a bit of "humanity" with every word. Not an easy task for a Vulcan.

    "Perhaps I can train you with several Vulcan techniques to help control your emotions and neutralize -- as much as possible -- the emotions of others."

    The doctor smiles. "I have used these techniques on myself and have trained others. They seem to work quite well."

    T'Var pauses a moment. She has her own secrets buried deep within her. Would sharing them with Kylah help the young woman now? Would she feel less alone?

  5. #105
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    The Library Computer buzzes. "Clarify inquiry, 'non-classified issues concerning females,' or rephrase." More whirring. "No known connection to Ens. Kylah, Communications, USS Yorktown."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 02 Sep 2013 at 03:07 PM.

  6. #106
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    Just being in such close proximity to the Vulcan has always seemed like a balm to Kylah's often churning emotions. T'Var's offer seems like a possible lifeline.

    Kylah leans forward, her hands clutching her knees to keep from grabbing at T'Var in a plea for help. "Yes, please, Doctor. If there were anything you could teach me that might help... I would be extraordinarily grateful. You must possess remarkable powers of control and if anything could be imparted to me... if you ever knew of someone who had been so uncontrolled and managed to find a solution..." She shakes her head at the thought. "At least I would have some sense of hope that has eluded me, ever since..."

    Kylah realizes she should probably mention the last time she dared hope for a cure, even though it relates to an unpleasant memory. "My parents once tried to solve the problem by consulting with our family's private physician--someone sworn to secrecy, of course, but that is true of all royal healers. I was... seven, I think? Eight?" She shrugs, as the precise age probably doesn't matter. "He used a variety of brain scans, flooding with electricity, medications... anything he had available short of surgery in attempts to shut down whatever is causing this. But he could not identify the precise malformation. I do not know exactly what he determined, those records would be back on Elas and either sealed or destroyed. All I know is that the treatments were ineffective, aside from some lost memories and slow-wittedness for a period after the sessions.

    "Finally they gave up. By the time I was ten, I was no longer their only hope for a Dohlman--they'd had two children of their own and could give up the facade that I was their natural child. Once they told me of my true origin, that I had a human parent, they seemed certain that it was my mixed heritage that caused the problem. Humans and Elasians should not interbreed, they said." She flushes, somewhat embarrassed by the recollection of that discussion. "And besides, I was old enough to understand the need to hide the condition, as best I could. They were content with that. Soon they were dead anyway, and though my uncle--by now our Guardian--knew of the problem he followed my parents' choices and did not try to find a solution." This, of course, is putting it mildly, but the exploitation of her skills is far beyond the scope of what she dares reveal.

    Kylah keeps her gaze trained hopefully on T'Var's. "I just thought I should mention all this in case a medical cure might be a possibility. The physician had little of the technology you possess here, so perhaps more could be done...?"
    Last edited by choie; 02 Sep 2013 at 03:28 PM.

  7. #107
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    "Yeah, that was probably not the greatest question I could have asked", Rangin muses to himself. "Besides, his boss is female, so I doubt that's a good line."

    A slight pause.

    "Perhaps he just doesn't like royalty on principle."

    "Computer: any affiliation or connection of Lt Mark Ferguson to monarchist or anti-monarchist groups or connection to the royal family associated to Ensign Kylah, Communications."
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  8. #108
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    The computer whirrs. "Working... Lt. JG Mark Ferguson has no known affiliation or connection to any monarchist or antimonarchist group in Federation records. No known connection to the family of Ens. Kylah."

    Rangin reminds himself that he's accessing only the nonclassified personnel database; there may be more information of interest, perhaps even much more, deeper in Ferguson's file. The young xenobiologist has a basic security clearance as a Starfleet ensign but must, under the regs, have an official, lawful and non-personal reason for inquiring more deeply about any other member of Starfleet. He could do so, but might also get in trouble....
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 02 Sep 2013 at 09:04 PM.

  9. #109
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    Graham nods. “Great—lead the way buddy.”

    It would be a stretch—no, a lie—Graham thinks—to say he felt “at peace.” But at the moment, he does feel as if things are coming together for him in uncharacteristically positive ways. It’s good to be a on a ship again—a great ship at that. The time he served on the Invictus was not a happy one in his life—but the comradeship-in-arms he felt with some of the crew, foremost among them Mahmoud, was a key factor that helped him work through it.

    And tonight, he reflects, I can give my demons the night off. I can have an unhurried meal, and a drink—a civilized drink, not an I-want-to-crawl-into-the-bottle drink—relax, and get rested up for whatever the upcoming days would bring.

    Don’t worry, demons, he adds mentally. You’ll never be out a job. I’m sure you’ll be back with a freakin’ vengeance soon enough.

  10. #110
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    Rangin leans over and turns the connection off. Much as he might like Kylah, getting into trouble again and so soon after being confined to quarters for a day. just isn't worth it. Besides this guy is a Lt and Rangin's superior, not to mention Kylah's. Same rank as Collins, but the chances of Kylah going that way were none. Shame, because if they really hated each other that much, how come they were still sharing the same quarters.

    He shook his head thinking over it. Maybe it was as simple as that. Rank. In any other situation Kylah would outrank Ferguson and he was just trying to rub it in. Maybe it rankled with Ferguson. Rangin chuckled out loud at the bad joke. However, the best thing Kylah could do was just to steer clear of him, confronting a superior officer was only going to end in trouble. Like that hadn't happened already.

    Finishing tidying up the lab, Rangin considers heading back to his quarters to get some long overdue sleep.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  11. #111
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    T'Var nods in understanding. "I once dealt with emotions that were certainly 'out of control' -- for a Vulcan at least."

    The doctor grins a bit sheepishly. "My parents were quite concerned."

    After a moment, T'Var continues....

    "I could research possible medical solutions, of course," T'Var says. "Quite frankly, I believe learning to control your abilities and use them in a positive way would be the best course of action."

  12. #112
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    Collins awakes with a start from a very disturbing nightmare. She sits up and stares at her otherwise unoccupied quarters. She wants to talk to someone, but Kylah has not returned, and how could she talk to her roommate about this anyway. She checks the chronometer to find out how much sleep she's actually had this night.


    if she's slept more than 5 hours, she'll get dressed and go to the gym; otherwise, she try to go back to sleep.
    Last edited by anyrose; 03 Sep 2013 at 10:57 AM.

  13. #113
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    Kylah's face falls slightly with disappointment. She was hoping for some medical solution--something to fix her, something to make her like other Elasians. And something that would help her avoid both the psychological and political ramifications of her strange and usually unwanted skills. Academy poker winnings aside, she is not the only one who has used her 'gift' for unmerited gain.

    But no. Life is not that simple, and in a way, she knows it shouldn't be. Her people are not cowards, and she suspects if she were stronger she would be able to fight her battles regardless of what biology has saddled her with. The fact that she hasn't been able to has been a lifelong shame to her.

    "I understand," Kylah says softly. "I will do whatever you say, within my abilities, to learn control. I just... I just want answers, I suppose. Why I am so different. What deformed me in such a way from the others of my race. I admit I am no scientist, but I cannot believe it is all from being tainted by human genetics." Kylah hastens to explain: "The 'tainted' is not my word; my relatives and our physician used it. Constantly," she finishes with a sigh.

    After a moment of thought, she clamps down on her tongue before speaking. "You--you do not think it will be necessary to inform your superiors, do you? I mean, regarding whether I am fit for assignment on another mission. If I work very hard perhaps I can get past my fears of having to harm someone else. Or, to be honest, I suppose I most fear feeling the act of harming others. I do not wish to hesitate to defend myself or a crewmate." Finally, she can't help adding shyly: "And if it is not too intrusive I would be grateful to know how you conquered your own emotions... the ones that worried your parents."
    Last edited by choie; 03 Sep 2013 at 05:04 PM.

  14. #114
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    Lt. JG Pourtash is still on the Bridge, which is now fully staffed, when Capt. Singh steps out of the turbolift. "Captain on the Bridge," he says, rising from the big chair.

    "Thank you, Mr. Pourtash," she says, smiling warmly. "Anything to report?"

    "Yes, ma'am. All crew present and accounted for. All scheduled cargo and supplies loaded. All systems nominal; the ship is ready for deep space. We have departure clearance from Starbase 27."

    "Very well. I relieve you, sir."

    "I stand relieved, ma'am."

    Singh takes the big chair and leans back. "Mr. Bennett, set course for Omicron Ceti III."

    The navigator has been ready for hours. "Course plotted and laid in, Captain."

    "Time to destination at warp factor four?"

    She double-checks. "Three days, nine hours, ma'am."

    "Very well. Take us out of orbit, if you would, please. Ahead, warp four."

    "Warp four, aye." The thrum of the great engines grows in volume and power as the Yorktown pulls away from the planet.

    Bennett has plotted a scenic route out of the star system, and Pourtash lingers on the Bridge for a few minutes, watching the outer gas giants and lifeless, rocky worlds grow large and then swiftly drop behind on the main viewscreen before the starship plunges into the great dark void beyond. With the Captain's permission, he leaves the Bridge, deciding as the turbolift descends to take a late swim before bed.

    Graham and Mahmoud have some coffee and a long talk before turning in for the night. Graham falls asleep at once on his new bunk and sleeps like a rock.

    Rangin also soon drops off to sleep.

    Collins rubs her eyes, checks her bedside chrono and sees she's only been asleep for a little over two hours. She punches her pillow a few times, rolls over and tries to forget her nightmare, but sleep returns to her only with difficulty.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 03 Sep 2013 at 11:46 PM.

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    T'Var once again gives Kylah and reassuring smile. "What we have discussed here is confidential and shall remain so." she says.

    "And you are not 'tainted'. You have a gift which you must learn to control. With training, this is possible. I am certain of it."

    T'Var will share her own emotional struggles with Kylah as long as these memories are helpful.

    "This path we take together is a long one," the doctor warns. "It is not an easy path. Yet I believe it will prove useful to us both," she says.

  16. #116
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    Kylah exhales in relief at the doctor's reassurance--though the difficult road lying ahead does feel intimidating. She stands up, shaking the other woman's hand in gratitude and friendship. "Thank you, Dr. T'Var," she says, wishing her voice weren't so shaky. "This has meant a great deal to me, and I truly appreciate that you have been so understanding and... and nonjudgmental. Revealing this after so many years remains frightening but you have let me dared hope there might be a way to..." Kylah searches for the right words. "...To find some measure of peace."

    Kylah bows her head again in gratitude and heads to the door. She is very aware that T'Var remained silent about her own private struggles, which seems to indicate that they are, most likely, truly private. Kylah hopes she has not crossed a line, and that in time T'Var might trust her with the tales of how she personally conquered her own emotional battles. Having kept her own secrets nearly all her life, Kylah knows she would never divulge anyone else's, even at great risk to herself.

    Before she leaves, she asks T'Var when they may meet again. Once they schedule another time, Kylah quickly thanks her and hastens to allow the Vulcan her solitude. Kylah has much to think on herself on the way back to her quarters--and in the long hours that she suspects will inevitably pass before she falls asleep. I should have asked for some sleeping medication, she thinks ruefully.
    Last edited by choie; 04 Sep 2013 at 11:33 AM.

  17. #117
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    The rest of the night passes quietly for all as the Yorktown moves deeper into space.

    The next morning, you each wake to find an invitation in your comm account for dinner with the senior officers and Vice Adm. Patrick Hardin, Comptroller General of Starfleet.

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    Collins dresses and heads to the Mess for coffee and something to eat, although she's more nauseated than hungry. She grabs what she wants from the dispensers, then heads to one of the lounges to sit quietly by herself before heading to her appointment with Dr. Noel.

  19. #119
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    Kylah is surprised by the invitation and mulls it over, trying to figure out why she would be involved in such a gathering--and with a comptroller? She shakes her head.

    After dressing, she faces the reality that she can no longer procrastinate in her duty to her Guardian. She pulls her zither from its ancient leather container, activates her tricorder's audio recorder, and--after some contemplation--composes a melody and harmony, banal enough, but containing a counterpoint line that will encrypt her hidden message using the notation code she created long ago, at Aldaan's behest.

    When finished, Kylah listens to the recorded tune. Not a particularly pleasant composition, with more dissonance thanks to the counterpoint melody than Kylah prefers, but musical beauty is hardly the point. She sighs and looks down at her tricorder, distaste and guilt gnawing at her. But her role is her role, and she must play it.

    Replying to her uncle's letter, Kylah types:

    Honored Guardian Aldaan,

    I send my own humble greetings and thanks to my brother His Serenity for his generosity in addressing me. I hope the Dohlman thrives and is wisely counselled by both you and the Nobles.

    I apologize for not having communicated to you earlier. My first weeks and initial mission did indeed occupy my attention and responsibility, as of course they must. I assure you I am well aware of the duty I owe Elas as well as Starfleet, and hope to perform both as well as I possibly can.

    The work on the Yorktown is challenging yet rewarding. Having recently returned from my first mission, I do regret to say there were some difficulties, and I must blame myself and my inexperience for not rising to all occasions. I hope you will forgive me for not excelling in this. My superiors expect much of me, as do I, and I plan to do everything possible to learn from mistakes and meet these expectations.

    You ask of tales of life in my new society. The cultures here are indeed manifold and I learn more each day. My roommate is a human female and a highly-respected member of the ship's security team. I believe I shall learn patience through her, as our temperaments differ, but as you have told me, such challenges often reap the most rewards. I have also met a kind Vulcan doctor who has done her best to teach me the ways of the ship, and I think will be a highly fortunate role model for me. There is also a Coridanite xenobiologist with whom I hope to believe I am forming a friendshi
    Kylah suddenly stops typing and bites at her lower lip, almost hard enough to cut the skin. What was she thinking when she started this sentence? This is not a diary. She would not send anything like this to Aldaan.

    She deletes the last line and continues.

    There are others including a Coridanite and many humans, all of whom are diligent and worthy Starfleet crew members. I know I will learn a great deal and am looking forward to serving by their side. Of course it is my greatest hope to prove valuable and do justice to the trust Starfleet has shown me by giving me this honorable assignment. I also hope my family, and my people, will find some measure of pride in my service here, but that will be up to me.

    Please send my love and continued pledge of obedience to His Serenity, and my love and affection to my dear sister Her Grace Ditraa. I hope the lack of reference to her in your last communication was simply an oversight rather than an indication that something is wrong with her. But then, she has always enjoyed good health and I pray that continues. Perhaps the Council of Nobles have selected her groom at last, and she is occupied thusly.

    To all the household staff who remember me, please pass forth my warmest regards. To you I send my respectful gratitude for your patience. In addition, since you thoughtfully remembered my music studies, I am also sending a brief song I have composed in my off-duty hours. It is a trifle but perhaps you will find it passably pleasing.

    Kylah
    She rereads the letter. She has no doubt that her young sister Ditraa is perfectly well; Ditraa barely acknowledges her presence when Kylah is right in front of her, much less now that Kylah's light years away.

    Finally she attaches the uploaded recording and, after fighting with the guilt that makes her fingers hover over the control panel ready to remove the attachment, closes her eyes and sends the message... and the song.

    The song's hidden message, once decoded, will translate to:

    Code:
    Mission revealed ulterior motives by Sakath government previously unknown to Federation. Possibly sought genetic engineering using Earth and Federation scientists. Disastrous results. Our mission proved dangerous. Multiple deaths. Cooperative effort appears to be failure. Current Sakath relations with Federation uncertain but likely unstable at best. No more known.
    Once her reply has been sent, Kylah quickly deletes the recording from both the system and her tricorder. It is likely an unnecessary precaution, as there is only one key to the code and Aldaan is the sole possessor of it--outside Kylah's own mind.

    Then she puts away the zither and heads out to the mess hall, walking fast and standing tall despite the self-loathing eating at her. She hopes to see T'Var again this morning, that would be pleasant. Or Velir. Mr. Rangin, she corrects herself quickly as she enters the mess and scans the tables.
    Last edited by choie; 04 Sep 2013 at 04:15 PM.

  20. #120
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    Graham can't help but laugh that it now seems that their mission to a spa planet involves transporting one of Starfleet's most senior pencil-pushers. He dresses and heads to the mess. Since it seems like he'll have some free time, he intends to grab coffee, eggs, and potatoes, and then get some exercise. His usual routine would be fine, but he wonders if he might meet someone at breakfast interested in sports or sparring.

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    Rangin wonders out loud how on earth he has an invite to the Captain's table and along with a Vice Admiral as well. He check the comms again just to make sure its not a joke, only to find out it isn't. Of course, this means getting any work done early, getting prepared for later and making sure he does not let Coridan down. He decides that later on it might be worth just brushing upon what is required at one of these, especially with someone of such a high rank.

    He is on half days anyway, under Doctor's Orders that hopefully will not last for too long. Time for breakfast and see what else is going on. Then he remembers last night as the other things going on make it past the mental block of dinner tonight, As he heads out to the mess, he wonders if Kylah made it to Dr T'var and had a good meeting. Perhaps he should mention about Ferguson, but that might have to wait for a better time. Also, he wonders what the rest of the science crew got up to on shore leave, he'd have to find out what he missed.

    Somehow, he thinks, it's going to be an interesting day.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah, Graham and Rangin all arrive in Mess Hall 1 within a few minutes of each other; Collins has already been and gone. It is just before 0700. Kylah is expected on the Bridge to begin standing a Communications watch at 0800, and Graham is due in the Security office at that time for a general orientation. Rangin, still on doctor-ordered half-duty, is not expected in the Xenobiology lab until 1200.

    Delaney also soon shows up, looking tired, and gets a mug of coffee. He smiles when he sees you. Pourtash comes in moments later.

  23. #123
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    As Kylah searches the Mess, she returns Delaney's smile with a respectful nod. There was a time when his smile would have made her heart beat a little faster, but things during the mission seem to have chilled her a bit.

    Then she notices someone entering shortly after her--someone she's never seen before. He's not as tall as most Elasian males, or even most human males, but he's still about a full hand taller than she is, and his well-muscled and fit body would do any man half his age proud. In truth, in years he is likely the same age as Aldaan, but this is no bureaucrat: even if the thin scar weren't evidence enough, everything in his bearing speaks of... someone walking on an edge. This is most obvious in his eyes, a vivid green in contrast to his gray hair; they are eyes, Kylah senses, that have seen a lot.

    She starts to move a little closer, wondering if the fact that he's alone indicates that he's new, like her, or just someone who prefers solitude. It would be nice to commiserate with someone else to whom the ship is still largely a mystery. But then she sees Rangin enter as well, and immediately all the insecurity of last night returns. As does the shame. How she acted! He must think her a paranoid, sloppy drunk.

    Nevertheless she's still flushed with pleasure at seeing him. Or maybe it's just embarrassment. Should I return to calling him Mr. Rangin? Would using his first name seem too familiar? Or will he think I've forgotten it again? She decides on a neutral tactic. "Good morning," she says carefully, wearing what she hopes is a friendly expression. "How are you feeling today?"
    Last edited by choie; 05 Sep 2013 at 12:12 AM.

  24. #124
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    Rangin bounces into the mess hall feeling better than he has for a while. The Yorktown had left for somewhere new and interesting and it probably couldn't get worse than last time...actually that was asking for trouble, so never mind.

    He was about to get some food when he sees Kylah approaching looking slightly tentative and judging by her greeting perhaps slightly unsure about how to follow on from last night. No problems.

    He fixes her with a happy smile and speaks informally and friendly.
    "Morning Kylah, yeah I'm feeling fine thanks. How are you and mind if I join you for breakfast? Oh, and how did last night go, get things sorted?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  25. #125
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    T'Var prepares for duty in Sickbay.

    She reflects on her meeting with Kylah. How best to help the young woman? Perhaps using her own struggles with anger -- and at times outright rage -- as an example, Kylah could learn from T'Var's mistakes and how a Vulcan was able to overcome them.

    T'Var heads to the Mess Hall for a light breakfast and, of course, a cup or two of Vulcan Spice Tea.

    She walks over to the assembled group of shipmates. "May I join you?" T'Var asks.

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    Delaney has already sat down with his coffee, and says, "Yes, please do. Good morning, Doctor." Pourtash is coming near with a breakfast tray, too. T'Var sees he has a glass of orange juice and a plate of small pastries.

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    Dr. Helen Noel welcomes Collins into her office at 0900 sharp. "What can I do for you, Lieutenant?" she asks once the door has whooshed shut.

    "I'm a wreck, Doctor," Collins says as she goes to sit in the chair opposite the doctor. "I thought I had this all figured out. I know who I am, I like who I am. But Ben - Ensign Cooper - is making this very difficult for me." There is a little anxiety in Jeremi's voice, even though her body language is calm.

    "Concerning your pregnancy, I presume." She nods. "What can I do to help?"

    "I'm not sure. We took shore leave yesterday and had a wonderful time. Until we started talking. I want to terminate. I'm only 26 and I'm just not ready to be a mother. But Ben wants the baby very badly. He won't listen to reason. Then last night, I had a nightmare that he ripped the baby out of me and left me bleeding on the floor!" Collins pauses briefly to catch her breath. "I'm a little worried about what he's capable of."

    The psychiatrist frowns, and she leans forward. "Has he said or done anything that makes you think might act violently against you?"

    "Not as such. But he's so insistent that I keep this baby. He's being very passive-aggressive, coated in kind words. But underneath it all...." Collins sighs heavily and shakes her head. "He says he cares about me but he's more focused on the baby. A baby I'm not ready for. I don't know why this is getting to me. I'd already made up my mind, but it's almost as though he doesn't care what I want."

    "Mr. Coll-- I'm sorry, but may I call you Jeremi? Or Jeri?"

    "Jeri is fine."

    "Thank you, Jeri. Tell me, what do you really want to do? What is the ideal outcome for you?" She pauses. "You say you wish to terminate, and of course you have that right, but have you fully considered your options? It's not an either/or situation. You could arrange for surgical transfer to a gestational surrogate, or carry the baby to full term and then either give Ens. Cooper full parental rights, or give the baby up for adoption outright. Would any of those courses be more appealing to you?"

    "Gestational surrogate?" Collins pauses and mulls this over for a few moments. "Who would be the carrier? Would I get to meet her? I think I like this idea, but I want to think about it some more."

    "Well, we'd have to find someone, either on board or elsewhere. There are lists of interested, willing women kept by various medical associations and parenting organizations. Dr. Villa might have some suggestions of her own, as well. But would you want Ens. Cooper to play any role in the child's future?"

    "If I go this route, yes; he is the father, after all." Collins pauses to create a mental flowchart of future events. "Definitely have to let it sink in, and talk to him, of course. This certainly puts a different spin on things." She gets up to leave, and extends her hand to the doctor. "Thank you, Dr. Noel. You have been very helpful. May I come back after I've spoken to Ben?"

    Dr. Noel stands, takes Collins's hand and looks her in the eye. She smiles encouragingly. "Of course. Take all the time you need, Jeri. This isn't the kind of decision you'll want to rush into. Just let me know when you next wish to meet. Keep your chin up and remember you're not alone."



    Collins's dialogue by anyrose; Dr. Noel's by Elendil's Heir.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 05 Sep 2013 at 11:03 AM.

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    "Thank you," T'Var says as she sits down. The doctor looks about her as she takes a sip of tea. She notices the newest member of the crew.

    "Welcome aboard," she says with a nod. "Mr. Graham, I believe?"

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    Graham glances around the mess. He’s starting to feel “in the zone again:” maintaining situational awareness, assessing the lay of the room, who’s coming and going it, and what’s happening around him. Some argue that the latest inertial dampeners reduce the vibration of a ship during normal conditions below levels humans can feel—Graham disagrees. The hum of activity and motion at the back of his mind doesn’t leave much room for dwelling on the demons of the past. Maybe you bastards have today off, too, he thinks.

    Out of the corner of his eye he notices a young, attractive woman who seems to be staring at him. At first glance she doesn’t seem like the type who’d be interested in sparring (although Graham muses tat if she had a thing for Greco-Roman wrestling this just might be the best ship to be on in the fleet) but he realizes that he may not have time for a workout before his orientation anyway.

    He’s about to take his tray and walk over to introduce himself when she reacts visibly to the entrance of a short, olive skinned ensign. Graham shakes his head clear. OK Booker, he thinks, Vargas worries you’re a drunk, Bennett thinks you’re a idiot—so let’s not start day one by stumbling into provoking the jealous boyfriend of a woman half your age.

    There looks to be a friendly-enough looking group assembling at a table: Graham decides he’ll introduce himself there. As he approaches the table, a striking Vulcan woman welcomes him aboard—now she, Booker thinks, may want to spar, and just might kick my ass…but I’m totally OK with that. “Thanks—Booker Graham, Security. Just came aboard yesterday. Mind if I join you?”

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    Collins decides she needs another cup of coffee before reporting for duty, so she heads to the Mess. She sees her "crew" sitting together along with someone who looks like he'd belong in images she's seen of Old Earth Hell's Angels. She sees he's an ensign which surprises her. Surely someone his age in Starfleet is at least a Commander, if not a Captain or an Admiral. She goes over to the group.
    "Good morning all. How is everyone feeling?" She holds out her hand to the new guy "Lieutenant Junior Grade Jeremi Collins, Assistant Chief of Security. Nice to meet you, Ensign...?"

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    Rangin's obvious good mood puts Kylah more at ease. He certainly doesn't seem to look down on her for her conduct. She gives him a soft smile in return. "I am well, thank you. Yes, I would be happy to join you." As they walk to get some food, Kylah adds after a bit of thought: "My meeting was... productive. I cannot say if everything was sorted out, but perhaps it will be. I hope it will be."

    Choosing a bowl of fruit, she glances over at Rangin. "Thank you again for last night. I apologize again for my mistakes in communicating with you. Perhaps I am in the wrong field," she says with a rueful shake of her head.

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    Before Booker can sit down, a fit redhead about his own height approaches and extends a hand. He takes it in a firm but restrained grip. “Ensign Booker Graham…boss. Security. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

    If he could go back in time 30 seconds and shoot himself with a phaser set to heavy stun he would do it: why did I say that? What am I supposed to say if she asks—“I’ve heard rumors you’re a loose cannon and preggers to boot?” He hopes against hope their interchange triggers a quick round of introductions, allowing his last line to slip quietly into oblivion.

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    "Oh?" Collins raises an eyebrow, but smiles "Only half of it is true. Welcome aboard." She takes a seat an listens to the conversation resume.

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    Rangin piles some bacon and eggs on to his tray with some coffee, while listening to Kylah.

    He then quietly talks back to him below the background hum. "Kylah, please stop apologising for last night, once is enough. Look we had a good time, despite the missteps, and I'm sure some of it is my fault as well. Its also good to hear your meeting went well, here's hoping for the future. "

    "Come, on, let's find somewhere to sit and eat. Anywhere in particular?" Rangin asks Kylah, while looking round the mess hall.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    T'Var observes Graham closely.... Scanning the room for potential threats -- even when there are none. Assessing carefully each crew member he comes into contact with. Definitely Security through and through. Also, quite human. The doctor allows herself a brief smile. Then again, she finds humans rather interesting.

    Perhaps T'Var will invite him to join her for a bit of hand-to-hand combat training. She may be a physician now, but the V'Shar still flows through her veins. Mr. Graham might prove to be a worthy opponent, T'Var muses.
    Last edited by WES; 06 Sep 2013 at 11:07 AM.

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    Kylah nods at Rangin, glad to be reassured that he does not bear a grudge--and suddenly feels a lightness she rarely gets to enjoy. "You are right," she says. "It was at least half your fault." But while her tone is serious, her eyes gleam playfully at him, and she holds the look just long enough for the Coridanite to notice. Then, with a raised chin that her old governess taught her was the proper demeanor for a royal daughter, she turns back to the Mess with new confidence. "I see some empty seats at the end of Dr. T'Var's table. Thus we may be sociable but also separate enough to speak privately."

    She moves toward the table where their colleagues are seated, casting a beckoning glance at Rangin as she does. Kylah isn't certain why she's feeling so unburdened right now, but doesn't wish to examine it--although she does suspect it's likely due to the combination of the presence of the friendly Rangin by her side, her meeting with T'Var, the unusual and admittedly flattering invitation to dinner tonight, and perhaps most of all, the fact that her duty to her Guardian is behind her and she needn't think of it or even Aldaan himself at all for some time.

    When she reaches the end of the table, she pauses to greet T'Var warmly, Collins... not as warmly but not coldly either, and finally the stranger, with more shyness than the other two. Never certain how to handle such things--when she was growing up, the correct protocol was for others to be introduced to her--all she does is say quietly, "I am Ensign Kylah. I do not believe we have met."

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    Graham inwardly breathes a sigh of relief that Collins lets his comment slide. He is encouraged that she seems to have a sense of humor—and also a little shocked to see what looks like a quick smile from the Vulcan. That’s not something he expected: he wonders for a moment if his eyes are playing tricks on him. He discounts this when the woman he thought was watching him earlier greets her with a lot more affection than he’d expect either a typical human to show toward a Vulcan—or a typical Vulcan would be inclined to appreciate.

    Almost everyone around is younger than he is—except of course the Emo Vulcan, who is assuredly much older than she looks—but up close he realizes this “Ensign Kylah” is even younger than most: probably his daughter’s age. She seems vulnerable—actually, almost nervous about speaking to him. Just like my daughter, he thinks, with a pang of regret.

    And much like when I speak with my daughter, he thinks, I have no god dammed idea what to say. At least a joke’s a better coping mechanism than a drink…

    He tries to look disarming (something he’s not always successful at doing). “Don’t let the red shirt and the ugly face worry you, Ensign. I don’t bite.” He gestures toward Collins. “At least not unless the L-T* were to make it an order.”

    *"ELL-TEE"

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    Rangin looks at Kylah while attempting to be serious about it, but his eyes also show his mirth creeping through.

    "Those seats will be fine, besides there's something else I need to mention to you. Later is fine if we don't get a chance now." He follows Kylah across to the table where the others are currently seated.

    "Good Morning all", says Rangin as he sits down with his tray opposite Kylah. Once he's put his tray down and Kylah has introduced herself, he nods a greeting to the now surrounded new Ensign. "Hi, Ensign Rangin, although I guess you're used to everyone asking who you are?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Knowing Kylah's hyper sensitivity, Collins catches Graham's eye and quickly, briefly, shakes her head 'no' letting him know some folks don't appreciate that kind of joke, then she smiles. I'll have to keep an eye on him, she muses to herself, he could end up alienating the entire crew with that sense of humor.
    Last edited by anyrose; 06 Sep 2013 at 05:55 PM.

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    Rangin's comment about having something to discuss with her puts Kylah on alert. What could this mean? She just watches him move nearer the stranger--whose name she still doesn't know--and then switches her focus back to the older man.

    There's something unusual about the way he's looking at her but she resists the urge to sense more. If she is to gain control on being affected by others' unwanted emotions, she knows she should exert some discipline on her own actions. Then, when he greets her with such a self-deprecating remark, Kylah's eyes widen slightly. Not having the best experience with men of his age, she's usually guarded around them, but something makes her assure him with sudden, quiet candor: "Your face is not ugly."

    Flushing a bit at having made such a personal remark, Kylah sits down and looks away. Of course, she says nothing about his joke about biting, but does not miss Collins's warning look at the newcomer. Let us hope he has not given her ideas, she thinks, and hides a wry smirk by stabbing a piece of melon with a fork and lifting it to her lips.

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    “Uh, thanks…” Graham mumbles, a bit taken aback. He catches Collins giving him the evil eye and is momentarily annoyed: what the hell is her problem? I’m just trying to be nice…

    Then again, Kylah’s behavior was a little odd: she looks human enough, but maybe she’s from a species—or a culture--that doesn’t get humor? For all he knew maybe they euthanize everybody over thirty over and that’s why she’s acting strange around me? He tries to give Collins the benefit of the doubt that she’s trying to give him a helpful warning as opposed to needlessly busting his chops.

    He’s relieved when Kylah’s—boyfriend? Husband? Friend? —Rangin breaks the silence. “Um, yeah,” Graham says a little too loudly. “I mean, there’s not much to say, you know? ‘Graham, Security.’ And folks can guess the latter from the shirt. I…” he tries to address this to the whole group. “I was going to try to hit the gym later…I wasn’t sure if anybody was interested in sparring? …If they’ll go easy on the old guy, of course,” he adds earnestly.

    He loosens and subtly shifts his shoulders a bit. Now he’s feeling more comfortable: when he was teaching combat tactics at the Academy, that line never failed to draw out the cowboy—or girl, it was often but not always a male—who was gunning to show off in front of the class by dumping the instructor on his butt.

    Not that he had any desire to embarrass his new crew mates, but the line brought back some positive memories. Not because—or, he mentally conceded, solely because—the next five minutes involved him giving a young punk a clinic, but because people who went into Security eager to show off usually got themselves and/or people around them killed. He liked to think a red face on the first day of his class might have saved some lives down the road.

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    "I'll go a couple of rounds with you after I get off duty." Collins offers. And let's make me too tired to meet ben for dinner, shall we? she thinks

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    Well son a gun, Graham thinks: Collins was right before, exactly half of what I've heard is in fact not true. She's obviously not pregnant if she's keen to hop into the ring.

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    By now this particular Mess Hall table is quite full, but no one seems to mind. The good food and the easy camaraderie of those gathered helps the time fly by. Eventually Pourtash wipes his mouth on his napkin and asks, "Does anyone know anything about this admiral we have aboard? I've never heard of him. What's a 'Comptroller General' do, anyway?"

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    "My guess?" Collins chimes in, "He's the bean counters' bean counter. Someone has to keep an eye on the bureaucrats" She finishes her coffee and stands "I'll see you all later." Collins heads for the turbolift to report to duty.

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    Kylah raises an eyebrow and waits until Collins leaves, then murmurs with a brief glance toward Pourtash: "In simplistic terms, she is correct. A comptroller general is charged to ensure that the government's assets or treasury have oversight and are used properly according to the laws of the republic, or democracy, or whatever system is used by the state. The intent is to maintain fiscal transparency. Ideally, anyway."

    As she recites the facts she learned at a very young age when learning about different--and according to her tutors, inferior--government systems, Kylah tears absently at a piece of pineapple, watching the fruit's yellow strands fall apart in her fingers. "It is... not always a popular position within the government. Nor is it one every government finds necessary or desirable."

    Elas certainly has no such equivalent. The idea of the Council of Nobles, much less the Dohlman, allowing such oversight is laughable. The Elasian coffers are used however the Council chooses--except during reigns of a particularly strong Dohlman, in which case she--or he--has complete control of the royal treasury.

    She sucks the sweet juice off her fingers, then wipes them delicately on her napkin. Her gaze lifts to examine Rangin across from her. Did he receive an invitation to dinner tonight? She wants to ask him but is afraid of being tactless if he was not. Perhaps that's what he wished to speak to her about.

    Rather belatedly she looks around the table. Perhaps it was not her place to speak. She is the least senior in age and experience. But I know about governments! Why should I not speak if that is the case? She hates how uncertain she is, how she continually must balance her desire to prove herself with her childish yearning to fit in. Did her unpopularity on the mission teach her nothing? Kylah quickly returns to her meal, again picking up the fork and hoping her response wasn't inappropriate.

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    "That's my understanding, too, Kylah," Delaney says. "I looked it up after I heard he'd come aboard. He's like the chief financial officer for Starfleet. Billions of credits pass through his office - purchasing, payroll, R&D, starship construction, general contracting, all that. He's the Fleet's money guy. He's been a desk officer practically his whole career."

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    T'Var finishes her breakfast of a biscuit with butter and honey, then takes a last sip of her tea.

    "I would enjoy a good workout," the doctor tells Graham. "I am certain we can both learn something from each other."

    T'Var stands, then addresses the assembled group. "I am off to Sickbay. I look forward to seeing you all at dinner this evening. I am sure we will learn more about our guest at that time."

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    Graham nods an acknowledgment of the Vulcan's offer as she leaves.

    For a moment, he watches as she walks away: he can't put his finger on it, but there's something in the way she moves that strikes him as more like "Security" than "Medical." He supposes he'll find out soon enough if they hit the gym.

    He stands. "Well if the big shot who pays the bills is onboard, I guess I'd better get 'on the clock' as they used to say back on Earth. Thanks for making a newbie feel welcome."

    Well sort of, he adds mentally. The fact that this young ensign almost exactly his daughter's age seems uncomfortable around him bothers him--more than it rationally should, he acknowledges. The prudent thing to do is probably to let it lie given Collin's--what: warning? admonishment?--not to mention his stellar skills at complex social interactions.

    Yeah just walk away-- like you did from Jane, and from Elizabeth. Coward.

    He winces as that unbidden thought crystallizes and lances through his brain.

    For a moment he feels physically ill; he wrestles to pull himself back together, and gives Ensign Kylah what he struggles mightily to make a very brief, reassuring little smile as he leaves...quickly.

    Looks like the demons are back on the today clock, too, he thinks as he heads to his scheduled orientation.

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    Kylah says goodbye to T'Var, and then belatedly processes what she just said. So all of them are invited to the gathering tonight? She's relieved--this means she can discuss it with Rangin--though curious to know what a special dinner with such a disparate group of shipmates could mean.

    As she's about to address Rangin, she senses an odd wave of... jumbled emotions, conflict and disappointment and even some anger?... from the new security officer. She's compelled to face him, and discovers he's looking down at her. With a smile--a smile that seems hard-won, somehow.

    She doesn't smile easily herself, so she can empathize. But she gives him what she hopes is a welcoming acknowedgment in the form of a nod with warmth in her gaze. Or as close as she can get to it.

    When he leaves--putting Kylah more at ease thanks to the loss of his strong, warring emotions--she turns to Rangin again. Pourtash and Delaney are at the other side of the table and she and Velir are more than able to talk in privacy. However, it's nearly time for her shift and she's anxious to hear what he wanted to say. Unbidden, the thought occurs to her that perhaps he's about to tell her that he's married or otherwise attached. Not that it would be any of her business if he were. In fact, she's not even sure why that should be the first thing that springs to her mind, and she's as embarrassed by the thought as if she'd spoken it aloud.

    "Did you... want to tell me something?" she asks, her hands toying nervously with the utensils near her bowl.

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