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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #4: "Codex Aelyrr"

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    "We found you in Hathor," Collins tells her roommate, "several kilometers from Thoth. We still aren't sure how you got there, but we have some working theories. What do you remember?" She keeps her voice calm and friendly, trying very hard not to sound like an interrogator.

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    The captain of the Scamp and the communications officer of the Wistful Penelope both seem helpful. They tell Onn that they will distribute the image of Ens. Kylah to all of their passengers and crew. It will take some time for responses from everyone, of course.

    Lt. Patel says to Rangin, "I'll see that all applicable data is uploaded to your shipboard comm account. Ens. Zweller can direct you to the key sections as to biosensor spillover. Chief Engineer Cheverez has designated a secondary sensor module that we can use in isolation with Dr. Brold's prototype, which may be useful, although those kinds of tests have already been done on Gagarin VII. What we really want to see is how the prototype interacts with the biosensors of the Yorktown's full sensor suite in actual field operations."

    The Captain nods. "To that end, Mr. Roble, my Science Officer, has suggested we go to the FGC 23 pulsar cluster. There's an inhabited planet there, so we should be able to both test the radio astronomy capabilities of the prototype, and see its impact, if any, on our biosensors."

    Dr. T'Var notes that Kylah's heart and perspiration rates are returning to normal, although brain scan readings show that she is still agitated.

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    Hathor? Thoth? The words are gibberish. For an instant Kylah is afraid she is losing her ability to understand language. After some scary seconds of thought, the first word still means nothing, but the latter sounds familiar. "Thoth," she repeats. She is aware she must seem slow-witted, and in all likelihood she is. "There was a store. A music store. I asked to be beamed down there, I think. But it was closed, and I... I went to a bar, to--"

    At the word bar she gets an instant image. Not her own. Kylah looks up at Collins, peering at her. The other woman knows of this bar, somehow. She remembers it better than Kylah does. "It was ugly," Kylah continues softly, reading more from Collins's memories than her own. "There was a bartender. Blue. A... a Bolian, I think. He did not like my being there."

    Gradually some flashes of her own experiences bleed through, and she has to turn away from the others to make sure she is not affected by them. A swell of vertigo accompanies her movement, which pauses her until she can get her bearings. Why was I there? Why cannot I remember? She knows she spoke to the man. She asked him for a favor. Kylah looks down at her hands. Her left hand is bandaged around the wrist. The other is fine, but looks very pale even against the white blanket.

    "I needed... my zither. Something about it... That is why I went to the music shop, to get it repaired. But how did it break... I am so careful. The barman was not happy I was there. Not just me." Kylah's eyes widen, which hurts her but she cannot help herself. A flood of emotional memories return, almost choking her with their onslaught. Anger. Fear. Jealousy. Mistrust. "Velir," she whispers, and she wants to crawl under the blanket at the vision of his face. "Velir Rangin was there. Where is he now?" She looks around, already knowing he is not in the room. "He did not want to be in the bar either. But I needed something... the bartender gave me advice about--"

    Money. Leaving the ship. Gold pieces, heavy and too many to count, all in a briefcase. Kylah's heart starts to pound as the recollections return. Instinctively she knows she cannot explain. What did she use as an excuse? The zither, of course. "--About my zither. The bartender knew someone. Promised they could fix it. But... but I had to wait. And give cash. I had to get cash.

    "Velir--Ensign Rangin--he did not wait with me. He was gone by the time I got back. I do not know why. I do not know." Except he was angry, she remembers that. Furious. "It was my fault, he was right. Something went wrong. He predicted things would go wrong, he knew it would happen and it did. And now I am here and I..." Kylah's right hand lifts to shade her eyes, which are still burning, but this time with tears. "I do not know what happened next. It is blank."

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    "Ensign Rangin found you with the ship's sensors," Collins tells Kylah. "He was very worried about you. He helped us with the first phase of our investigation. Ensign Graham and other Security personnel are following up on what we know so far. We will find out what happened." She pauses, then quietly adds "But your zither, Kylah, I'm sorry to tell you it's been smashed. We salvaged what we could, maybe it can be rebuilt," she takes Kylah's hand "maybe we can send to Elas for another one." Jeremi is trying to sound hopeful, but she can see how uneasy her roommate is. Something happened on Anubis, something Kylah had walked right into it without back up. Why would she do that? She should know you don't go into an unknown environment without back up. Rangin should have known better, too. There had to be a reason he left her alone, something more than just not wanting to wait around in a seedy tavern. "Don't stress yourself out right now, heal first. Remember later."

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    It is too much to take in, at first. Velir used sensors to find her--why did she need to be found? And an investigation... security people looking into her movements, into what happened? It is intrusive, invasive. Kylah does not want any of this. She shakes her head weakly, not understanding how everything has become so complicated. Graham must come back, they must all come back...

    And then Collins tells her about her zither.

    Kylah's breath freezes and she stares at Collins. Her head shakes more quickly with every word. Smashed. Salvaged. Rebuilt. "No," she mouths, horrified, even as Collins suggests sending to Elas for a replacement. "No!" Kylah chokes out. She turns to T'Var, still blurry, hoping for some proof that Collins is lying. "It was fine. It was safe. It was in my bag, I wrapped it... Where is my bag? Let me see it, please!" She wrests her hand free from Collins, who is only trying to be helpful, but the pain that results from the connection is too much for Kylah to bear. "Where is it?"

    Smashed, she thinks again in abject misery. Not an accident, not if it was broken to the extent that things had to be salvaged. The concept of sending to Elas sinks in and Kylah's heart begins to palpitate even as her breathing returns to her, fast and shallow. The thought of what her uncle will do...

    "You must not tell anyone," she gasps, starting to tremble and feeling lightheaded from lack of enough air. "He cannot know, he will be enraged, he will blame me. It cannot be replaced, and he will think I did it on purpose." And then she remembers Velir's accusing words, which return to her in a flash: Your zither is in your bag! He knew she had lied about it, and now what will he say? He will be even more cruel.

    "Please, Lieutenant, please do not tell Velir," Kylah pleads, now hyperventilating. "He--he will be angrier... He will say I--I deserved it--" She puts her good hand on her chest as if it will help her catch her breath.

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    The outburst startles Collins and she lets go of Kylah's hand. She looks to T'Var as if to ask the doctor to administer another sedative. "I'm sorry, Kylah. It will be okay. We won't tell anyone unless you say so. But Ensign Rangin won't be angry. He will be relieved that you are healing and that you will be fine."

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    Graham mentions to Rawlings--at his side in the bar--that the ships in orbit are cooperative, "and that may give us something."

    He offers to clink a glass "So--Starfleet living up to all your hopes and dreams, Rawlings?"

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    Dr. T'Var looks again, with concern, at the bed's sensor display. "You are becoming upset, Mr. Kylah. It would be best if you remained calm. Would you like a sedative?"

    Rawlings lifts his glass of beer as well, and bumps Graham's with it. "Most days, Mr. Graham. Most days." He takes a deep drink. "And you?"
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 04 Jun 2015 at 10:26 PM.

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    Trying to control her breathing, Kylah shakes her head and whispers no--an answer to both T'Var's question and Collins's assertion that Velir will be relieved. She remembers only snatches of their last argument, but what she recalls is enough to know he no longer cares for her.

    The loss of his friendship as well as her zither seems too much to bear. She turns her head away from both women, letting her tears burn a trail down to the pillow as she faces the monitors on the side of her bed.

    The various medical screens would mean nothing to her even if she could see them clearly, but the faint but present ache from her ribs and head--and the strange, on-and-off pain behind her eyes that does not seem to respond to whatever treatment T'Var gave her--lead her to mutter, "What happened to me, exactly--what are my injuries? And when may I leave here?"

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    Collins takes a few steps away while T'Var tends to Kylah, and takes out her communicator. She reads Grahams message and replies, No, not really. I'm in Sick Bay with Kylah.

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    Rangin makes a few notes and then checks with Lt. Cmdr Roble as to the best area in the science labs to set up the experiment in.

    Once that's done, he turns to the rest. "Ok, no time like the present I guess, I had better get started." If permission has been given he will also show any of the group to the Science Labs, who may be interested.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Dr. T'Var describes Kylah's injuries. "You are recovering well and I expect you can be discharged in a day or so."

    Cheverez says, "There's a Jefferies Tube adjoining this cargo bay, so we'll be able to hook the prototype module into ship's systems without any difficulty. You can work out of the Xenobiology Lab, Ensign, or right here - I can have a sensor control console brought in for you, if you like."

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    "Right here will do just fine, Sir. If there is anything else, I'm sure we can shift it down if needs be." Rangin thanks the Senior Engineer while looking forward to playing with the new shiny - well slightly dull grey radio astonomy sensor.

    But even so, it's something new.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah closes her eyes. A day, possibly more. The description of her injuries is surreal and grisly, particularly the fractured skull--this makes the patchy, inchoate memories even more alarming. And if my head wound was in the back, why do my eyes hurt so whenever I sense emotions? Why are they so strong? Having so little control over her mind is all too familiar from that night with Jan.

    Of course she says nothing about this--she cannot, in front of Collins. She only asks in a small voice: "If I am recovering, why is it so hard to remember things? It is like looking at a moth-eaten quilt. The more I try to see, the less there is of it. And what I do remember, I am not certain I trust." Her right hand bunches up the blanket in a knot, her knuckles white. "Are you sure this is not permanent?"
    Last edited by choie; 05 Jun 2015 at 11:48 AM.

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    "You are in Sickbay, Kylah, and you will fully recover from your injuries," the doctor assures her.

    T'Var gives Collins a glance. "Mr. Collins may briefly explain what transpired on the planet. However, I must insist that a longer interview should wait until later."

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    The cargo bay doors open and a bearded man in Command yellow walks in. The Captain smiles and says, "Lt. Vaudreuil, would you please give Dr. Brold and his assistants a tour of the ship, and then show them to their quarters? Gentlemen, I look forward to having dinner with you tonight."

    The officer says, "Certainly, ma'am. If you'll come with me, please...?" They leave.

    In Sickbay, Dr. Villa looks in on Kylah, and overhears the young woman's question. "There's no reason to think it's permanent," the CMO says reassuringly. "All of your brain scans look good. But you've been through some trauma, and even with all the modern medicine at our disposal, there's still no substitute for rest and allowing the body's natural healing processes to work."
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    "Don't have much in the way of hopes and dreams anymore, my friend," Graham says quietly with a slight shake of his head, taking a sip of his beer afterward.

    Mid-sip he notices Collins has replied.

    "Fuck,' he mutters--almost--under his breath. He glances at Rawlings. "We're kind of stuck here until we can hear from Kylah first hand..." He turns his attention back to the communicator and texts a reply hurriedly.

    Permission to come aboard--if she's awake--I'd really like to see....

    He pauses a moment. Her? Why?

    You don't need to check on her, if T'Var thinks she'll be OK she knows better than me.

    To see the...damage...and say that if I could have done something, I would have done something... And I for sure wouldn't be spraining my elbow patting my own goddamned back about how great I am for being back on the ship the moment goddamned shore leave was over while you were...down there...

    He continues,

    ...if she can remember any details that would give us a next step to take in the investigation.

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    T'Var's concerns are understandable but Kylah makes the effort to appear helpful. "I do not mind answering questions, but I fear I will be of little use unless my mind clears--"

    Suddenly Kylah digests Dr. Villa's words, which resound in her head as if the other woman spoke them in an echoing cave. She turns over immediately, regretting the sudden movement that makes the room dip and tilt around her like a poorly balanced boat.

    "Brain scans," she repeats in a low, wary tone, and shifts her alarmed gaze to T'Var. Endless rounds of tests and experimental treatments from her childhood--all to uncover and fix her psychic deformity, and all unsuccessful--have caused Kylah to dread any examination, especially of her brain.

    With everything else she risks exposing, the possibility of the others learning of her biological anomaly did not even occur to her. "You scanned me. But you did not..." She swallows and tries to communicate her true meaning to T'Var, the only living person aside from her Uncle who knows her secret. "You did not find anything to--to worry about?"

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    The Docs won't let you question her yet, Collins messages back to Graham, and her memory right now is hazy at best. If you've stalled, you may as well all come back. We'll give Vargas a complete run down and see how he says to proceed. After she sends that off, she messages Vargas: The security team on the surface is beaming back up. The local LEOs have copies of everything. At your earliest convenience, may Jones, Graham, and I meet with you to discuss further courses of action?

    Once Collins sends that off, she turns back to Kylah and the doctors. "Yes, please, Kylah, rest and heal. We can talk again in the morning." She takes Kylah's hand again, and holds in gently in both her hands a few moments, then let's go and looks up at the other woman. "Doctor Villa, if now is convenient for you? If not, I can reschedule my appointment."

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    Vargas approves the return of any or all of the Security personnel from the surface, "if you've learned everything you can down there for now."

    Dr. Villa says to Kylah, "You have some interesting brain scans, Ensign, but no, nothing to worry about. Truly."

    When Kylah is done talking with her she says to Collins, "Yes, I can see you now, if you wish." When alone with the Security officer she asks, "A full checkup, or something in particular...?"

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    "I'd like to know how I'm healing," Collins tells Dr. Villa, "and to get my booster shot so I don't have to go through that again." She smiles at Villa. "The being pregnant and miscarrying part, not the being involved in a criminal investigation part." she adds.

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    Kylah just nods weakly in response to Villa's words, still looking helplessly at T'Var for a few seconds before dropping her gaze. Then Collins takes her hand--this is the most she has ever touched Kylah since the two have known each other, and naturally it is only after Kylah pleaded with her not to. If Collins had no history of being poorly attuned to Kylah's wishes, Kylah would almost think it malicious. Instead, she tolerates the presumably well-meant gesture, even as her eyes burn and a haphazard flood of Collins's thoughts and emotions fills her unwilling mind.

    The relief when Collins releases her is exhausting and Kylah closes her eyes with a ragged sigh. She does not understand why her empathic powers feel so raw and painful. Perhaps it is just related to the head injury, she thinks. Like there has been a bruise to... to whatever makes me the way I am. Maybe it will go away.

    If it does not, Kylah cannot imagine ever wanting to be touched again. It is too much, the feelings penetrate her so brutally it is like a rape. She bites her lip and tries not to imagine Jan. Or Velir, in her room less than 24 hours ago. The thought of allowing Velir to kiss her, to caress her, every part of her naked body visible to him as it was last night... Even then, without this new injury, Kylah wanted him but feared being overpowered physically and emotionally.

    What would she do if his hands were on her now? Not that he ever will do that again, she thinks, holding back a sob. He has not even bothered visiting her. His contempt earlier today... That is the strongest memory she has of the past few hours. I am anathema to him, he wants to be rid of me. And I tried to make it happen, she recalls vaguely. I tried to leave, to do what he wanted, but somehow I am back here. I failed even that. I always try and I always fail. Velir, her parents, Aldaan--even Starfleet, though no one yet realizes that she was willing to abandon her commission.

    With the belief that she is doomed to disappoint everyone around her swirling in her disjointed thoughts, Kylah gradually falls into another fitful sleep.
    Last edited by choie; 06 Jun 2015 at 04:40 AM.

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    Graham pays for the drinks and gestures for Rawlings to follow him outside. "Word from Collins and Vargas is beam up if we've got nothing more to do down here for the moment," he explains approvingly. He transmits the order to beam up to the Security team on planet: "Return to the Yorktown and take ten for whatever you need - food, clear your head, whatever...but be prepared to de-brief, this investigation is still in progress. Make sure you let any locals you're working with with that they should contact you via Yorktown."

    Graham signals for beam-up and once onboard tries to make it a a point to try to avoid anyone and slip over to Sickbay to find Ens. Kylah.

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    Dr. Villa laughs and picks up a tricorder. She scans Collins and says, "You're healing well. I like what I'm seeing." She puts down the tricorder, picks up a hypospray and selects an ampule from a nearby cabinet. She sets the dosage and holds the hypospray up to Collins's throat; it hisses as the dose passes through Collins's skin. "There you are. Anything else?"

    The other members of Ens. Graham's Security party acknowledge his message and beam back to the Yorktown. Graham sees no one to delay him en route to Sickbay. The duty nurse shows him into Kylah's recovery room; Dr. T'Var is still seated beside the sleeping Elasian woman.

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    "No," Collins says, then, "Well actually, I seem to go from emotionally high to emotionally low very quickly. Is that withdrawal or my recently befuddled hormones?"

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    Graham stands unmoving behind T'Var for a moment, looking at the injured young woman, keenly aware of each breath he takes, in and out.

    His hands at his sides, he clenches and unclenches his fists once.

    "I will be safe."

    "I get myself into situations."

    What "situation" caused this?

    Who did this?


    Graham is not tall, but he is solid, and even though Kylah is short (and Lizzy not much taller) seeing either of them lying down at rest makes them seem smaller than they would standing.

    And why were you alone?

    He remembers the moment he decided to obey Collins' orders not to continue on to the hotel.

    You shouldn't have been alone. I knew it, I just didn't act on it....

    "How's she doing, Doc?" he barely more than whispers.

    It's not his place to put a hand on her head while she rests. It's probably not even my place anymore to put a hand on Lizzy's head while she rests.


    To find who did this, To find a way to stop something like this from happening again, and that will have to be enough.

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    Rangin watches the group leave the cargo bay and then looks back at the sensor before making a few more notes. Halfway through a set of test cases he is trying to construct, he suddenly wonders if the Captain is including him at dinner that night. No, it was aimed at the guests, not him.

    Snapped out of his technical thoughts, Rangin starts to think of everything else going on and, if there is the slight possibility he is going to be invited, there is one thing he needs to do in advance.

    It is time to at least see how Kylah is doing. If he can sit and read to Fujishiro, he can do the same for her. Hopefully though, she is recovering and conscious. He hadn't been to see her yet given his orders, so now is the time. Rangin heads for Sickbay to see how she is.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    "She will fully recover, Mr. Graham," T'Var replies. "Of course, she needs time and rest. If you wish to question her about what happened on the planet, such questioning will indeed have to wait."

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    Graham swallows hard, once, in response to T'Var's statement.

    "Question her."

    As if I'd push her....

    ...Hurt her...


    He has no doubt that T'Var is communicating the facts as she sees them. Nor does he have any doubt that Kylah's as safe with T'Var at her side than she possibly could be.

    He rubs his chin and takes a step back into the corner of the room. "Understood," he whispers. "I'd just like to...stand here, for awhile, if that's all right."

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    Dr. Villa says, "Your hormones are still in flux, it's true. Nothing to worry about, and nothing too out of the ordinary given your past biochemistry parameters, but I'm not surprised that you've been feeling its effects. It's post-pregnancy rather than post-Elsewhere. Is it bad enough that you'd prefer to be taken temporarily off-duty? I'll order it if you think it would be for the best."

    Rangin arrives in Sickbay. The duty nurse shows him into Kylah's room; Dr. T'Var and Ens. Graham are already there.
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    "What? No!" Collins is shocked by the suggestion, then in a normal voice says, "I mean, I don't notice it when I'm on duty. It's only when I spend too much time thinking about stuff, when I'm alone and quiet. Is there something I can do about that? Other than trying not to dwell on stuff, I mean."

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    Rangin braces himself for what he is to do next and mulls it over in his mind. He had said his piece on the planet and they had parted on harsh terms. He had never wanted to do that and he doesn't want to lose a friend but what had occurred between them, well he doesn't want to remember.

    It shames him to think so, but all he could do was wonder what she had done to earn it. It didn't make him feel any better thinking that way, as guilt gnawed at him. Could he have stopped her, been more of a friend, not got so angry and cursed her out? He wouldn't forgive himself if it was the case.

    Heading into Sickbay where the doctors have left her sleeping, he heads straight across to the bed with barely a passing nod to T'Var sat next to her. Nothing and no-one else registers as Rangin can finally see Kylah lying there, his eyes are fixed firmly on her asleep and gently drowsing under the sheets, the rest of the room may as well not be there. He shudders as he fully sees the results of the assault she must have suffered, instead of the brief glance of the crumpled bloodstained figure he saw on planet's surface before Kylah was immediately transported back to the Yorktown. Bruises slowly fading on her forehead, grazes carefully tended but still marking her skin. Rangin is struck by how different it was from last night.

    Last time, he had seen her in bed, her body had been almost perfect, unblemished and tanned, but she had been as taut as those zither strings, nervous, forced and almost hesitant. And now, despite the injuries, she looked more at peace, uneasy though it is. Someone he wouldn't run away from, someone he wouldn't say those things to. Rangin shakes his head, it wouldn't last, would it. Once she wakes up it would be back to the status quo, regardless of how she is. What could have changed for him to give her a second chance, without the expectation of it going wrong again.

    "I'm sorry Kylah, it didn't have to be like this. I never wanted this to happen.". The words crawl slowly and quietly from Rangin's mouth as the guilt starts to consume him, but he is unsure if she can hear his words or even if she would want to respond to them.

    Looking for another chair to sit on he notices her bag, the one that had contained the zither that had never been broken, placed carefully to one side and alongside it, a bloodstained and torn dress, the last remnants of what she was wearing at the time, neatly folded, but beyond any further chance of being worn again. Even while unconscious, she had refused to let go of the bag, holding it tightly as if it was the most important thing to her. Perhaps it still is.

    He can't help it, he knows it is wrong, but he needs to know. Before T'Var can react or even say anything, Rangin opens the bag to look inside and his heart breaks once again for her. Nestled in the soft cloth of another dress is the remains of her zither, matching those left behind on the planet, smashed and broken beyond repair. And then he spies the gift box behind it, the gift she had tried to offer him only a few hours ago. The emotions come flooding back, the pain, the hurt she had caused him and he stands up straight trying to catch his breath and think clearly once again.

    Rangin thoughts are disturbed by the noise of Kylah beginning to toss and turn on the bed. He can see her hands pulling at the sheets, wringing them as she reacts to some enemy in her dreams. Unthinking he steps around and puts a hand on her upper arm, holding it gently, but firmly, and trying to stop Kylah from threshing around.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  33. #583
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Aldaan is enraged. She has forgotten to send him the latest report and now that she is home for a visit, she cannot escape a one-on-one meeting with him. The room is dingy, not anything she recognizes as belonging to her family. But mostly her attention focuses on her uncle. He starts out deathly quiet and deceptively calm.

    "Tell me the truth," he says, circling his niece while he seems to stare through her mind--as if he has the empathic ability rather than her. "Tell the truth, if you even know how. You know whatever it is, I will not hurt you. I have never hurt you before, have I?"

    "No," Kylah whispers, hugging her arms around her thin yellow dress--too cold for the temperature within the room. "But you are frightening me. You do not sound like yourself."

    He does not--his voice is muffled, indistinct. "You should be frightened. I told you I wanted us to be honest with each other, it is the only way our unique relationship can work. But you failed. Time and again I've asked, waiting for you to be honest, but you defy me, and my patience is at an end. Talk to me! I know you're hiding something!"

    She shakes her head. The questioning continues and she tries to appease him, but nothing works. She does not know what he wants, and the more he tries to wrest the truth from her, the more stubborn she gets. "I cannot tell you anything further," she says, broken. "All I want is to please you. I love you, why is that not enough?"

    With a disgusted noise he grabs her left wrist and yanks her to him. "You miserable, lying siren," he spits at her, inches away, and twists her arm until she cries out for mercy. He has never been violent to her and she is in utter shock. "Don't play-act for me. I know you too well. I should never have trusted you. You've broken faith with me and your entire family! You've whored yourself out to the Federation filth!"

    "No, no, I would never--"

    "Liar!" He backhands her, the slap ringing in her ears, and she tumbles backward, held up only by his vicious grip. Tears blind her. He points down at a pile of broken crystal on the grubby floor, remnants of some object she cannot identify. "Do you see what you did? In pieces. A treasure like that, the one thing tying you to me, the one thing that let you prove your value. You didn't deserve to be trusted with such an heirloom. You haven't done your duty, you haven't done as I asked. If I hadn't coddled you for so long you wouldn't have destroyed this, as you do everything!"

    Kylah has no idea what the crystal shards are, but she stammers an apology. Aldaan ignores her words, pushing her backwards until she topples down onto a bed--a bed that seems to have come from nowhere. In fact, the room has changed--it is dark, there is music playing... dance music, Terran music... and Aldaan is wearing... a mask? A Coridanite mask.

    "I'm sorry Kylah," says the voice from behind the mask. It sounds regretful. Final. "It didn't have to be like this. I never wanted this to happen..."

    The unspoken threat is too apparent. This is not Aldaan at all. Someone else is here, someone who feels guilt and regret. Wanted what to happen? What is he going to do to her? Panic electrifies her every muscle and she starts to roll off the hard, uncomfortable bed.

    But now he is on top of her, and while his right hand is still locked around her painful left wrist, suddenly she feels his fingers around her right arm, and though his touch is light, it is agonizing--a sharp burning sensation rushes through her, connecting his mind to hers like a leash of fire.

    But the thoughts are not Aldaan's, they cannot be those of her uncle. The feelings are very different: Anger, resentment, sadness, and--most disturbing of all--a tiny flicker of longing. Of desire. Not just a desire for her, but a desire for vengeance. It is faint, but it is there.

    Horrified, she tries again to escape but the man's superior weight bearing down upon her locks her in place. He is now half-dressed, and he has clasped her wrists together above her head with his left hand. With his right, he strips the dress from her--black silk, not yellow, she does not understand how everything has changed, but she is mortified by her naked vulnerability and struggles harder. Somehow, on some animal level, she knows her knife is gone and she has nothing left to protect herself.

    Instead of ogling her body, he raises his free arm above his head. For the first time Kylah sees the heavy club in his hand. Her confused, alarmed expression makes the man laugh--and his voice is now silvery, almost mockingly gentle. The voice of someone who used to be a friend but has turned against her.

    "Of course. You thought I wanted you, right? That I would be desperate to sleep with you, like all the other men you think you can control? Never. Never. I wouldn't soil myself with your touch." He bends down and nearly kisses her as he mutters contemptuously: "I want you out of my life, do you hear me? I don't want to see you again. I don't want to know you. It's time I got rid of you once and for all. You are useless, useless!" And at last his arm swings down, the club striking her shoulder, then her neck and ribs.

    Kylah screams, pleading, but it is in vain. As if the weapon's brutal force isn't enough, she can also feel the broken shards of crystal digging into her naked back. Her warm blood seeps into the sheets beneath her. He keeps beating her, and suddenly there are two more men behind him, both in masks too, laughing and raising their clubs to join in. Each vicious slam of their weapons is accompanied by the repeated words: useless liar...useless, filthy liar...


    In sickbay, Kylah cries out. "Stop! Stop, forgive me!" Her tortured words are almost indistinguishable from sobs. "Please..."

    The sound of her own voice wakes her, which should be a relief, but when her eyes open, the man is still there, even now, looming over her, not letting her move. With his hand curling around her chilly flesh, the physical and psychic connection is so strong Kylah can no longer confuse this man's identity. It is Velir. She has never been inside his mind before, so conscientious despite all her temptations, but now he that is forcing his emotions on her there is no mistaking it. Worse, he is as calm as ever. He thinks he is being kind. But she is not the only one who lied. He did.

    She gasps and shrinks from him, though she is so weak she can only turn her head. "You promised you would not hurt me," she whispers, weeping, remembering the words in her dream. "You promised."
    Last edited by choie; 08 Jun 2015 at 07:44 AM.

  34. #584
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham is surprised to see Rangin enter the room, and not sure whether he should be surprised or that it's to be expected that Rangin completely ignores him.

    He almost blurts out "aren't you worried you'll be late for something?" but aside from trying to keep things professional, Rangin moves like a man on a mission over to Kylah.

    What the hell is he doing? Graham wonders, leaning forward a little to better see and hear. At first he takes it as a chance to get a better sense of what happened given how un-forthcoming Rangin was on the planet, but any sense of putting puzzle pieces together is eclipsed in an instant as three and only three things immediately consume all of his attention:

    Rangin grabs her arm.

    Kylah yells "stop."

    "You promised you would not hurt me."


    Graham closes the distance in a half step, half-leap and from behind Rangin wedges the heel of his left hand hard under his chin, against the artery, and takes with his right takes hold of Rangin's right arm just under the shoulder, forcing his fingers into the armpit so if necessary he can not only pull the arm but also push his fingers up and under to pinch the nerve--pushing him up and away from Kylah if he tried to hang on, or to hunker down and grab her.

    If he doesn't let. go. of. her. now. cut blood flow to cause temporary blackout, spin him to my right away from Kylah, face down to the floor...

    "You have three seconds to step away from her under your own power mister," Graham says icily in Rangin's ear.

    He really doesn't care how Rangin responds; he's simply certain that whatever the hell he did to her he's never going to be able to do it again.
    Last edited by general_urko; 08 Jun 2015 at 12:04 PM. Reason: clarified that the way Graham grabbed Rangin is all about making sure he can move him away from Kylah; 5 secs to 3 secs

  35. #585
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    Dr. Villa says, "Perhaps you'd like to meet with Dr. Noel? Talking things through with an experienced counselor can be very helpful."

    There is a moment of stunned silence in the recovery ward as the others react to what Graham has done. Then Dr. T'Var says sharply, "Release Mr. Rangin immediately, Mr. Graham. That is a direct order."

  36. #586
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    "Yeah, maybe." Collins is not at all sure that's the right move for her, but continues, "I'll think about that." She gets up to leave. "Thank you for seeing me, and the shot, Doc."

    Jeremi steps out of Dr. Villa's office and hears something coming form Kylah's room. As she arrives in the doorway, she sees Graham holding Rangin by the neck, and T'Var on her feet looking very stern. Kylah is still in bed, but now looks more frightened than before. Collins moves in to pull Graham off Rangin, and pushes him towards the doorway. "What the hell is wrong with you?" she hisses at Booker.
    Last edited by anyrose; 08 Jun 2015 at 02:47 PM.

  37. #587
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Getting written up is pretty much the last thing on Graham's mind at the moment. Unfortunately, trying to fight with Collins to retain control over Rangin is a receipt for getting Kylah hurt.

    Hurt more.

    Graham doesn't resist when Collins pulls him off Rangin, but when she pushes him toward the door he doesn't give a centimeter. "Separating Mr. Rangin from his victim," he answers Collins intensely but evenly, his eyes fixed on Rangin rather than her. His eyes flick only for a moment to T'Var and then back. "You heard as well as I did, Doc."

    "What were you looking for in the bag so intently, some piece of incriminating evidence you'd forgotten about on Anubis?" he asks Rangin.

  38. #588
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    "Ensign Graham!" Collins shays sharply, "You are excused." She points to the hallway like an angry parent. "Go cool off. We will discuss this later." She stands between Graham and Rangin. Jeremi doesn't know exactly what transpired between Kylah and Rangin, but her gut tells her Rangin was not the cause of Kylah's injuries. When Graham still doesn't budge, she adds "You have now disobeyed two superior officers. Shall I call Commander Vargas in for a hat trick?"

  39. #589
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham's doesn't move, but his eyes do to fix Collins' eyes directly. "Fuck. Rank." he replies without raising his voice.

    "Your word, grunt-to-grunt, he won't be alone with her--not for a second."

  40. #590
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    "Doctor T'Var is here, and we can set it so all visits are supervised," Collins tilts her head back towards T'Var, "Right, Doctor?"

  41. #591
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    Kylah might no longer be sleeping, but she has awoken to another nightmare.

    It begins when she discovers Velir grabbing her. Then, out of nowhere, someone latches onto Velir, and the utter rage has seeped from this blur through Velir's skin right to Kylah. The result is a trail of chaotic fury and confusion that sears her brain. She whines like a beaten dog before cringing back, as far back as she can. There are too many people around her--a third now rises, and through her tears she sees it is tall, taller than either of the others. But this one is the calmest of the three.

    An image from her dream blinds her for an instant. Three. There were three of them. Three men, three masks...

    She shakes her head and focuses on the only person who seems likely to listen to her. Of course she now understands that it is T'Var--there is no one but the Vulcan whose controlled emotions are such a balm. "Stop them," she moans, "please stop them." But her words are inaudible compared to the harsh voices around her.

    In truth Kylah cannot understand what they are saying, either. Their emotions are nearly as violent an assault as what she experienced in that room.

    Then others enter--Collins, Kylah recognizes immediately, is one of them, and she barks an order at the man--the one grabbing Velir--the one whose fury is so white hot and powerful with coiled energy he could be powering the ship. When his attention is momentarily broken from Velir, Kylah senses the shift in his emotions, just slightly, and at last she regains some clarity.

    Graham. Graham. Defending her. And risking himself, too, if Collins's words are an indication.

    Kylah is so stunned that, disregarding her weakened left wrist and dizzy brain, she forces herself to rise, or at least attempts it before she falls back on the bed. "Mr. Graham," she begs hoarsely. "Do not do this, do not get in trouble for me, I am not worth it." She turns to everyone--everyone but Velir, who has said nothing and whom she cannot face--and weeps with embarrassment. "He just wanted to help me. Let me speak with him. Please. Please."

  42. #592
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    Fiona helped Graham to his feet, the usual bullies having had their entertainment.

    Catcalls, gestures, touching, grabbing...

    Stop it, he said again. And once again, mostly it seemed for entertainment value, the largest boy, the ringleader of the pack who'd take a special...liking...to Fiona had administered the customary beating.

    Who would they complain to? You're her brother, take care of it, Dad would say. Mom would say nothing at all. Or maybe something worse than nothing. Did you bring this on yourself...?

    You have to stop doing this, Fiona said to him. I'm not worth it.

    It was only when he was older he understood the context: the 23rd Century and a particular evil still lurked in some men, something that simply wouldn't die...

    Unless you killed it.

  43. #593
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    Kylah stares at Graham for a few seconds, watching him carefully, and then turns to T'Var, because if the doctor will allow it, she is certain Collins will too. "I will be all right," she says shakily. "I know Mr. Graham will... he will just listen. Please let me talk to him. I do not want anyone else here. No one."

    She emphasizes the last word as much as her weak voice will let her. And if Velir takes that badly, Kylah--for once, perhaps the only time in their brief relationship--does not care. But then she amends it, because she cannot help herself. "If someone does wish to speak to me after, that will be all right as well," she finishes softly.

  44. #594
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    Rangin's concern for Kylah, as she wakes from whatever nightmare she is suffering, is brutally and viciously cut short as he is grabbed from behind. Overwhelmed that something like this could happen in Sickbay, of all places, especially with T'Var sat right there, leave Rangin's thoughts reeling until he hears the cold growl in his ear from what sounds like Ensign Graham shortly before the raid on the old colony buildings on OCIII. Realising that Graham is not going to be reasoned with or questioned in any way, Rangin lets go of Kylah's arm but doesn't move feeling an icy cold fear of what might happen in the very, very near future as the events of the last few days start to run through his mind, everything that has happened in brief and vivid relief as he waits for Graham to ignore anything he might say and do and try and strangle him anyway.

    T'Var's whipcrack of an order brings the world back into sharp relief, but still Graham is not letting go, like some rabid dog who doesn't know any better. Rangin stays still, unmoving, not daring to change the situation in case it triggers Graham's temper and does something that, although Graham might regret later on, could have more serious and far-reaching implications for Rangin despite the close proximity of so may doctors. The twisted irony is not lost on him.

    And then he feels Graham being pulled off by another, the low hiss making it difficult to place the female, and while Graham mutters something incoherent about Kylah being Rangin's victim as well as the accusation about evidence, Rangin slowly tries to stand up feeling pulled out of shape and unsteady on his feet wondering if Graham's knows, or even cares, that his tight grip is likely to leave bruises. Then he recognises the red headed form of Collins standing between them, trying to push Graham away.

    Rangin breathes deeply trying to maintain his composure and recover his senses only to hear Collins agree with Graham that she doesn't trust him around Kylah. Untrusted: was there anyone on this ship who did trust him. Kylah certainly didn't; she had proved that in spades and now both Collins and Graham are of the same mind. Rangin starts to settle into an cold, icy fury.

    It hurts more when Kylah wakes up and the first thing she does is plead for Graham. For Graham. Rangin grits his teeth, and stands there in the storm of words that swirls round him. There is one long exhale as he stands up straight, fury in his eyes at what just happened, his muscles locked tight and his own feelings of being betrayed and untrusted by those who were supposed to be colleagues racing through his veins. He feels as cold as the Coridan poles, wanting nothing more to do with those here.

    "No Mr. Kylah, I will not be waiting to speak to you again. I came to see you, to make sure you were safe and recovering. I have done so." The tone comes out, clipped, enunciated, civil and genteel with no hint of what just happened inflected in it, but one that brooks the attention of everyone in the room.

    "As it appears that Security considers me a threat to your person and I am not to be trusted alone with you." Rangin's gaze fixes on Collins on Graham with cold, hostile fury, "I do believe any further conversation between us maybe a little...stilted. That is should you wish to discuss your actions while on Anubis. Don't worry, I'm sure plenty of plenty of people will be only too delighted to visit you, perhaps ask you questions about what happened, but only when you have recovered, of course."

    A thin crease of a smile showing no feeling appears on his face, "However, before I leave," Rangin steps across and down to the bag and reaches inside, past the broken zither pieces to the little gift box at the back. As he looks inside and plucks it out, it dawns on him that the dress still in there is another of Kylah's dresses, a glance to one side confirms his memory that she was assaulted in her yellow dress.

    Standing up clutching the box he turns holding it in front of him before thrusting it past Collins and into Graham's chest forcing him to catch it before it is dropped. "Here you go Mr Graham," Rangin says ever-so-politely, "I am of the opinion that I do not deserve this gift from Mr. Kylah any more, perhaps you should have it instead."

    Rangin turns to Lt. Collins. "I'm sorry Ma'am, I'm afraid I do not have a gift of you, but I do have a suggestion," his voice almost sing-song as if talking to a young child, "You may wish to consider what happened to your roommates uniform. She was wearing it when I left, and now..." Rangin gestures as if it had just vanished in a magician's trick.

    Stepping past them Collins and Graham and turning to Dr T'Var. "Ma'am, I'm sure you can physically heal Mr Kylah to the best of health. But I do fear that just like her zither, she's broken." The last word slips out as an epithet, rolled off the tongue in disgust, as Rangin's mask of gentility slips for a moment, before it disappears and is replaced by the serene look of someone of doing little more than taking a daily stroll and chatting to friends.

    "Now, if you will excuse me all, I have work to do on a new sensor array, Captain's orders." Rangin steps to the door...

    just a few more moments, keep it together.

    don't let them know how you feel, so untrusted and hated.

    don't let them know how much it hurts, how your insides are twisted like a Gordian knot.

    don't let them know how betrayed you feel by your colleagues, by Starfleet.


    "Good night all." as he strides confidently through it and out of Sickbay.

    don't give them anything.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  45. #595
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    Only when Velir uses her name--Mr. Kylah--is Kylah forced to look up at him. And she wishes she had not. This is not the kind, warm face she has sought out with growing affection since their first dinner back on Starbase 27. This is the distant, granite-hard gaze of a stranger.

    No: an enemy.

    She clutches her right wrist to her, still tingling from his touch, and stares in acute, shocked misery while Velir Rangin addresses her with the same icy, accusatory tone he used with Fellim Palver--a murderer. Each word stabs at her, first his cutting off all communication, next a threat of some kind about others learning of her behavior on Anubis... What behavior?

    Then his hands reach down and, to her astonishment, pull open a canvas bag. My bag, she thinks with a gasp, thinking it was lost, only now to see this man who suddenly hates her rustling through her belongings. No, no, why does he think he has the right--?

    The gift box appears and it all rushes back to her. Purchasing it with such absurd, childlike hope that he would be pleased. Velir's cutting refusal, as if she were trying to bribe him. And now, once again he shows his contempt for what was bought with pure affection and admiration, shoving it into Graham's chest as if he is trying to divest himself of a package that might explode.

    "Velir..." she starts to say, but the effort is overtaken by his making some pointed remark about her uniform. She does not understand. Which is the theme to this entire confrontation, really. Her mind does not seem able to process what is happening. He thinks she does not trust him, as he has said dozens of times, but it is worse than that. He thinks... he thinks she blames him for her attack? He thinks the others do, too--can he be right? Is that what Graham truly thinks? Kylah turns helplessly to face both security officers and T'Var, shaking her head in confusion, before returning to Velir.

    Just in time to hear him remind her of her zither, and compare her to it. Broken. A final blow, no less hurtful than whatever physically assaulted her. She groans as he turns to leave, and with some stored strength--or masochistic need to debase herself--she drags herself to the edge of the bed, grabbing onto a small table nearby for support as she tries to stand. "Do not go, not like this," she gasps dizzily and reaches her right arm out, as if she can pull him back through sheer will. Wildly she turns to grasp the package back from Graham. "This is yours, this is for you, it is... it survived, it is still here, that must mean something!"

    But he is gone now. The rejection--one of so many, everything she has offered him, from this gift to her very self--is more than she can bear. Kylah cannot remain on her shaky legs any longer and she tries to sit on the bed, but instead she clumsily misses the bunk entirely and falls to her knees.

    Her bag is on the floor nearby, where Velir left it. Just as he left her, as he keeps leaving her, no matter how much she tries to hold on to him. Setting down the Velir's gift with precise care, Kylah pulls at the canvas bag's opening with trembling fingers. When she stares inside, for the first time since awaking on the ship, she sees how empty it is. Her uniform is missing. And not just that: her knife, and her jewelry, her mother's jewelry. "It is gone," she whispers, horrified as the truth strikes her as brutally as when she first discovered the loss. "They took it, they took everything..."

    And finally she sees the true desecration of what was her cherished zither. Cracked pieces of paper-thin stone. The delicate crystal strings shattered, turned to dust. This is not an accident, something that occurred if the bag had merely fallen to the ground. It is spite. A foot stomped on this, or the clubs battered it. For no reason. It had worth, it was valuable. But it meant the world to her, and so apparently it had to be destroyed. Why? Why?

    There is nothing left to repair. Nothing will put it together again. Like me, she thinks, unable to argue with Velir's cruel verdict. Like us.

    She cradles her head in her hands and sobs.
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 08:48 AM.

  46. #596
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    Collins is surprised by Rangin's words. She wants to tell him it's not that she doesn't trust him, she was just placating Graham. But Rangin did not appear receptive to any explanation, so she watched, stunned, as he delivered his verdict and left.

    Then Jeremi turns to see Kylah trying to stand and then falling to the floor. She rushes to help her roommate up then hears the girl's exclamation. Robbery. That makes sense, given the evidence. What did she have with her in that bag? Why did she take it on shore leave? It had to something more valuable than the zither or the robbers wouldn't have destroyed it, they'd have just taken it, too. Why take the zither on shore leave? And what *did* happen to her uniform?

    Collins holds her hands out for Kylah to take hold of.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 09 Jun 2015 at 03:08 PM. Reason: Edited as anyrose requested.

  47. #597
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    Graham is dumbfounded T'Var and Collins stand by while Rangin plays out his sick manipulative tirade.

    They haven't heard some version of this script a hundred times before like I have. That doesn't reduce his frustration: that's why we needed to get this bastard out of the room and away from her.

    It takes supreme effort for Graham to remain still, silent, and express no emotion when Rangin pushes some little box into his hands. Whatever he's doing, he's doing to push her buttons. Odds are I'll only make it worse by bumbling into whatever trap he's laying.

    Plus--regs on the use of force aside--his odds of hauling--no, how about hurling--Rangin out of the room are actually not good at all if Collins and T'Var both wanted to stop him.

    Rangin's sociopathic mask of civility slips only for a second when he describes her as "broken" and for a moment Graham weighs testing the odds anyway.

    Resisting that urge is easy compared to remaining still while Kylah desperately tries to take the box from his hands. It's not the moment to say anything until the scumbag leaves and they can pick up the pieces from there,

    Stupidly he hopes he can somehow project or manifest reassurance:

    Don't worry, I know it's hard, but you're safe.

    I know it's hard to believe now, but no matter what he says, he can never hurt you again.


    When Rangin finishes and leaves, Collins moves to comfort Kylah. That works for him: he leans in behind Collins and murmurs in her ear. "That is one sick fucking son of a bitch."

    Then he moves to take a position blocking the the door: he's sure it's extremely unlikely Rangin would return. That would undermine the power of his little performance.

    But Graham's purpose is crystal clear: should he, he'll enter this room over my dead body.

  48. #598
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
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    Collins resists the urge to shove her elbow backwards into what ever piece of Graham is closest to it. She just ignores him and helps Kylah back into bed.

  49. #599
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah feels Collins's presence nearby, trying to help, but Kylah just shakes her head, bringing her tear-dampened hands down to clutch them at her chin, almost prayerfully. "How did everything go so wrong?" she whispers, eyes vacantly staring at the doorway. "I do not know. I truly do not know."

    Her movements painfully slow, she gathers her bag into a bundle, remembering in a flash of agony to take Velir's present. Collins insists on helping her despite her refusal, and again Kylah must tolerate someone putting hands on her against her will. And, just as it has ever since she woke up, her head aches angrily in response.

    Somehow she gets to her feet, wobbling for a few seconds before sitting back on the bed. She hugs her bag close to her and continues to shake her head. Feeling the weight of everyone's gaze, she closes her eyes in shame.

    "I am sorry for causing such trouble," she says, muffled against her hand that embraces the canvas. "You are wrong about Velir, Mr. Graham. He had nothing to do with what happened to me, I am sure of it. I do not know why you think he could do such a thing..." Except how much he hates me. Kylah still cannot comprehend how quickly Velir turned against her, like a viper. Only I could make such a good man be so cruel. "It is not in his nature, he is normally... normally so gentle. So please do not blame Vel... Mr. Rangin," Kylah amends. She realizes she has no right to use his first name; there is no warmth between them now.

    Kylah opens her eyes and looks at Collins. "It was a robbery. That is all. Some personal things were taken. Some money. My uniform, I do not know why. All I remember is that they wore masks. I cannot identify whoever did it. I beg you to forget it. If we are staying in orbit because of this investigation, please, please do not. I am not worth it," she repeats. Her gaze travels back to Graham. "May I speak with you? Alone? Please, Lt. Collins, Dr. T'Var--I will not rest otherwise."
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 12:56 PM.

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    "Yes you are worth it." Collins quietly tells Kylah, "Every member of this crew is worth it." Collins then looks to T'Var and wordlessly asks if the doctor thinks it's okay to leave Graham alone with Kylah.

    If T'Var nods, Collins will leave, but not before an intense eye-to-eye with Graham. "We'll be right outside," she says to all within earshot.

    If T'Var indicates it's not a good idea. Collins will move to the back of the room in the shadows and remain there, very quiet.

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