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

  1. #601
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "I'm sorry for causing so much trouble."

    "He's normally so gentle."

    "I'm not worth it."


    Graham waits quietly for the resolution of Kylah's request to speak with him, meanwhile ticking off each text book sign of why a piece of shit like Rangin would have targeted her and seized upon her fears like some kind of blood-fattened bug that needed to be smashed into body oblivion between two fists.

    But it's not about him now, it's about being supportive for her, he reminds himself, we can have him performing his song and dance for the JAG in due time.

    Despite trying to get in the right headspace, he's peeved that it's taking Collins so long to get with the program. Is it just lack of experience? Falling for Rangin's bullshit? Did she skip the the Academy class on abusers?

  2. #602
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    T'Var mulls over Kylah's request for a moment before answering.

    "Mr. Graham may speak with you alone briefly," the doctor says. "However, Mr. Collins and I will be right outside. If at any time I feel you are becoming more distraught, no one will be allowed in this room until such time as I see fit."

    T'Var gives Graham a stern look. "Do I make myself clear?"

  3. #603
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham is glad to hear T'Var taking responsibility for safeguarding Kylah's room--few better on the ship to do it, he thinks.

    But then he's confused why she gives him the hairy eyeball. Protective of her patient versus...anyone? She saw what happened plain as I did...Or is the kind of control scum like Rangin have over their targets too illogical for Vulcans to easily appreciate?

    "Uh...sure..." Graham replies, puzzled, then quickly adds, moved by T'Var's pretty compelling projection of authority. "Ma'am."

  4. #604
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    T'Var and Collins step into the Sickbay central ward outside, and the door whooshes shut behind them. Graham and Kylah are alone.

    Rangin strides down the corridor, not far from Sickbay, oblivious to all who pass by. Something in his expression keeps them from saying anything to him. He does not, for the moment, know where he is going.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 09 Jun 2015 at 03:20 PM.

  5. #605
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah shows her gratitude toward T'Var and Collins with her gaze more than her murmured thank you. When the door closes behind the two women, leaving her with Graham, she continues to hug her bag to her like a security blanket, as dirty and torn as it is.

    At last she takes a preparatory breath. "Mr. Graham," she says, her voice sounding tiny in this newly empty room. "I thank you for wishing to protect me. But I do not understand what happened just now. With you and... him. I wish you would tell me. It was too much to take in, but I heard what you said--you think he did this. I swear he did not. I do not remember everything, but even if I never recall it in a million years, I know Velir Rangin did not attack me. He could not have done such a thing, he would not. Except--" Except break her heart. But Kylah cannot say such things to Graham, so she just shakes her head and finishes softly: "Except with his words. So why do you blame him?"

    Kylah casts a furtive glance at the older man. "You must think it makes no sense, my wanting to talk to you alone, after so many times when I told you I was afraid of you. But that was before last night. I need someone I can trust. And I have no one else. Not anymore. The person whom I used to trust most on this ship..." Tears betray her again, and she looks down, trying not to envision Velir's face. "He hates me," she whispers.

    "But it is not that you are a--a default." She wipes her eyes and turns back to Graham, her stare earnest. "I do not mean that. I just know that after we spoke yesterday, and you told me of your daughter... I thought you would understand. I do not wish to take advantage of the confidences you shared. Please do not think that. But I have no father. I have no mother. I have only my uncle, my Guardian, and he--"

    The thought of Aldaan sends an unconscious shiver through her, and she turns back to the bag in her arms. It falls down onto the bed as she remembers her dream. How angry he was at the broken zither. It was their method of communication, it was his mother's heirloom... As horrible as the dream was, and of course it was surreal and contained actions that her uncle would never perform, the truth is, Kylah is terrified of what he will do when he finds out.

    She pushes the bag from her, as if by not touching it she will somehow avoid responsibility for the destroyed zither. "He is not a typical Guardian," is all she says. "I need someone else for such advice. I thought if I--if I tell you things, you might think of me, not just of rules, of Starfleet." Kylah does her best to stand again. "Mr. Graham, do you mind... is it too selfish, too presumptuous, for me to ask that of you?"
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 03:27 PM.

  6. #606
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham sits down, trying to ensure he respects he space and maintains a little distance between them, while at the same time giving her his full attention.

    I was never good at the victim interaction stuff,
    he thinks, trying to recall his training, and observing those who were really good at it--usually while he was standing by making sure the real pros weren't interrupted.

    Nothing she says at first is a surprise: "he would not." After they talk awhile, when she's ready, he expects she'll add a word: "again."

    Don't push, he reminds himself. Make sure she is in control.

    And then: "He is not a typical Guardian."

    Abuse perpetuates abuse. Oh no, oh dear...

    For a moment Graham wonders what it must be like to be truly empathic--something he's always struggled with--because he can't imagine how much she must hurt.

    For a moment, Graham teeters on the edge of being overwhelmed: Collins and T'Var don't trust me, or believe Rangin's no doubt cleverly woven tale, probably crafted well in advance for just a situation like this, the command staff don't know me, if Kylah is royalty then her uncle must be some kind of ranking official...

    And then he's once again a scrawny young boy, looking up at the Starfleet Security officer who found Fiona. Who saved Fiona's life. Who showed no hesitation, no doubt, no fear.

    I will never be afraid. I will never turn away.

    The Grand Poobah of Elas or any other world can show up with his whole goddamned fleet and will shove his stupid alien hat up his frigging alien ass.

    Graham centers himself and focuses on Kylah. It hasn't come to that yet, and it may never.

    He suddenly misses Rachael Weinstein: What would she do now? She was kind of a pyscho and a discipline case herself, but she could really reach people in this...situation...well...she had been there.

    "I'm here to talk about whatever you want to talk about," Graham replies quietly. "For whatever you need."

  7. #607
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah examines Graham, wondering what he knows, what he thinks he knows. She is well aware that he did not answer her question about why he blames Velir. It may just be his prejudice--he has never liked Velir. But I thought he believed Velir was a weakling, a... a pacifist of some kind. How could Graham now believe that such a man would do this?

    She leans toward him unconsciously. If she could bear it, she would take his hand and measure his thoughts. But she cannot. "You say you are here for whatever I need," Kylah murmurs. Her voice is as low as it can go, without requiring her to whisper in his ear. She cannot risk this being heard. "Many men have told me that before, and it was... it was more for what they needed. But again, you are the only person I think I can trust.

    "Still, I must ask you, before I say anything. As I said, I do not remember much about the--the attack. Yet I do know... at least, I thought I knew... who did it. As for why... I thought I knew that too, but that has changed." She cannot help looking back at her bag before returning to Graham. Again she wishes she dared to reach out to him, even purely mentally. Her headache makes her too vulnerable and she cannot risk the pain.

    Just say it. Kylah blinks, her eyes solemn and scared. "I brought this on myself," she murmurs. "Velir would say it, and I cannot deny he would be right. I earned this. For you to understand, you have to know. But here lies my problem, Mr. Graham. I can tell you the truth. And I can tell you what I will tell Starfleet." She swallows, her throat dry. "My question to you is: if they are not the same things... will you keep my secret? Will you protect me?"
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 05:33 PM.

  8. #608
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "No one earns this," Graham starts to reply. He acknowledges that he's going on training in this case, rather than what he personally believes--he can think of a number of people who have, including one on this very ship right now...

    His focus on her and the here and now is tested by the look of fear in her eyes: my god, what if Lizzy was ever this scared. Has she ever been this scared?

    He resists wincing when she says "Many men have told me that before...it was more for what they needed."

    At least she is right that she can trust him. "Your safety is my number one concern," he concludes--with full honesty, this time.
    Last edited by general_urko; 09 Jun 2015 at 06:02 PM.

  9. #609
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Tired again, Kylah sinks onto the bed. She bunches the blankets in her fists, a habit from childhood, and kneads them as she contemplates what to tell Graham. My safety is his concern. Safety from what? From violence, yes. But from punishment? From my uncle's contempt? From the fate he will force upon me if I must leave Starfleet?

    She stares down at her fingers, lost in the white softness she is tying into knots. "When Mr. Rangin and I went down to the planet, I... I brought my zither with me." Kylah hesitates and finally looks up at the security officer. "This is what I told him, and Lt. Thalen, and Cmdr. Vargas. I needed to have the instrument fixed. The music shop in Thoth was closed, and so we went to this bar. I do not know what the name was, but it was a... a common sort of place."

    She blushes again. "That sounds elitist, I do not mean it that way. I asked the bartender if he knew where I could get my zither repaired. He knew someone, but this person would only take cash. No Federation credits. And so I had to wait for someone to exchange my money. I went to see this person in the basement of the bar. By the time I got back, Velir--Mr. Rangin--was gone. I do not know why. I suppose I was rude, I should not have left him so long.

    Kylah continues the tale, just as she told Thalen, and explains about buying Velir the gift and eventually catching up with him. She says simply that Velir went back up to the ship without her. "So that is why you are wrong, Mr. Graham. He left the planet. I was alone. He could not have been involved."

    She tries to gather her wits before concluding. "So I went back to the bar, down into the office, to exchange the money. It went smoothly. As I will tell Starfleet," she repeats with some emphasis, "I planned to meet the music artisan later. But... this is where I am hazy. I know I was on a street, it was getting late." Kylah closes her eyes, trying to dig into her foggy memory. "But somehow--suddenly I was not there. I was in a... a dark room. I must have been transported but I do not remember. And there were men there. I dreamt about them... I did not remember them until I dreamed them. But they were there. Their faces were blank. In masks. Then..."

    Her eyes open, not seeing Graham, just seeing the black room. "They wanted the cash. That is why I told you I know who at least one of them was. It must have been the man who exchanged my money. How else would he know I was holding so much money? The bartender knew about the exchange, but it did not sound like him. The voice was familiar but, at the same time, I did not recognize it." She shrugs helplessly, unable to define what she means. "He said he would not hurt me but--but--they did. I do not remember why. I do not remember anything after they took the money. Except flashes. I woke up alone and in pain. Then I was outside, somewhere. And finally I was here. I have no idea how I got back to the ship."

    After a long pause, Kylah bows her head. "That... that is what I will tell Starfleet, Mr. Graham," she says softly.

  10. #610
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham resist pursing his lips, listening carefully to Kylah's story. It makes complete sense to Graham that she might concoct something to cover for him--at the same time, what she's saying now is consistent with an alternative course of events.

    With his original hypothesis: they had some falling out, he left her alone... And she was the victim of a crime of a sort the local cops had seen before.

    It doesn't account for "wanting to get off planet." Of course I heard that from the bartender who set her up--a goose chase, assuming we wouldn't find her...body...?


    Now Graham is a lot less sure of what happened that he was five minutes ago, but he keeps his expression neutral and patient.

    He nods gently. "And...what you wanted to tell me...?"

  11. #611
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah gnaws at her inner lip. She can end the tale here. He will believe her... or he will claim to. But the bartender will be questioned, and they might find the perpetrator after all. And if they reveal too much... At least if Graham knows, he might be able to cover for her.

    The bald thought makes her ill. I am asking him to be complicit. I am selfish. Velir is right, he is right.

    She faces the floor. "I said I trusted you," she mutters. "But what I am doing is imposing on you. You may do whatever you wish with this information. I am so tired," she adds, the words barely a breath of a sigh.

    And then she begins anew. "As I said, I went down to the planet with Mr. Rangin. I did not really want to go with him. Things were... awkward. We are--we were friends, but during the last mission on OCIII, there started to be... more. The hope for more, at any rate. Except I ruined things. That first night--you know. You know what happened. Most of it." She flushes and still will not look at Graham.

    "Once we returned, he would not believe that I had only been with Mr. Svejla that one time. But it was the truth, I swore it, I still swear it. To be with that man a second time would have been impossible. I did not even want it the first--" No, no, she cannot be this candid with Graham.

    "Anyway. Between that, and the other rumors, and even seeing you in my room last night... Mr. Rangin would not believe me. But I am not what people think, Mr. Graham." She uses the blanket to wipe her tears away. "I promise I am not. But it did not matter. We were uncomfortable, pretending to be normal but I could tell he was giving me one last chance.

    "What he did not know... what no one knows, except soon, you, is that I was giving Starfleet one last chance. I went to the planet with my zither, and two dresses, and... and my jewelry. I was going to exchange half my available Federation credits--I can spend up to 15,000 without my Uncle's being informed--into cash. And then, depending on--depending on so many things," Kylah says, shaking her head hopelessly, "I would either keep the cash just in case, or I would use it. To escape."

    And then her tears spill over again. "I could not bear to be on the ship with him. Or Ferguson, or anyone else who believed what has been said of me. I know it is cowardice, I know you can have me up on charges now. But there is so much pressure on me. I cannot even tell you everything I am expected to do. My duties for my planet, they are... a burden. And I, because I am not a true daughter of Elas, wanted to escape like a little child running from home. Except I have no true home.

    "After I spoke to Lt. Thalen and received permission to extend my shore leave--supposedly to fix my zither--I felt... different. Hopeful. His kindness made me feel better, and I thought perhaps I did not have to escape. So I went to buy Velir--Mr. Rangin--the present. I wanted to please him, it is all I want to do. But when I caught up with him, he had changed. He was cold--not as bad as you saw him, earlier, but very close.

    "He was furious with me for making him wait at the bar. I told him the story about the zither, but he did not believe me. Instead... instead he accused me of being with another man." Kylah's tone is filled with shame. "That is what he thinks of me. The person I thought knew me best in the entire Federation believed that I would leave him in a shabby bar, go down some rickety stairwell with a stranger I had picked up, and sleep with this person in a grubby, filthy office. All while the man I truly care about was waiting for me one flight above--" The disgusting thought chokes the words in her throat, and she turns her head, aghast at the realization of what Velir believes her capable of.

    "Of course I denied it but he would not listen. He said he did not want to see me. He did not want to know me. I think if he could have expunged me from his mind, he would have. And then he contacted the ship. One to beam up. He would not even ask if I would join him. I was so upset I ran, I did not want to watch him leave. But he must have beamed up then."

    Kylah sniffs and, after again wiping her eyes, turns her reddened face to Graham. "So... that decided me. I was finished. I fled. I went back to the bar, I changed my clothes because I did not want any hint of Starfleet to show. And then, when the time came, I went down to meet this money exchanger. The transaction went through and he gave me a briefcase with thousands in Andorian crowns. At the time I thought it was strange that he gave me the briefcase, but..." She sighs. She quickly explains what she remembers of the rest: talking to the people from one of the ships--she does not remember the name--and trying to get to the starport.

    "The rest is the same. I thought it was the money exchanger and some friends. They took my money, they took my jewelry... my mother's jewelry, the only thing she ever gave me..." Kylah is barely audible. "I suppose they must have taken my knife as well. My uniform... I do not understand that. Why did they steal that too? And what I truly do not understand: why... why did they destroy my zither? It is worth thousands. It is priceless to me for many reasons, but it is certainly valuable enough to steal, anyone who sees it can tell. Why crush it to bits the way they did? Now that I have seen it..."

    She turns to the bag and delicately picks up a razor-sharp piece of stone from the zither's back. "This was not an accident. It was hurtful. It was spite. Why?" Kylah starts to cry in earnest. "Even strangers hate me. It is not fair. I gave him the money he wanted, I would have given him a bigger percentage. But he had to take it all, and my mother's things, and beat me, and do this. It is not right." Kylah throws the broken piece back in the bag and shakes her head.

    "So that is the truth, Mr. Graham. If T'Var finds out, she will tell Starfleet I am unstable. Collins... I do not know, but I think she values ambition more than the fractious peace we have made. And you know what some of the other security officers think of me. Kjaerstad or Russell... if either interviews the barman or discovers the people I spoke with asking to leave the planet... I will be put in prison. Or demoted. Or quietly removed from Starfleet and sent back to Elas, where I will have to--" Kylah stops abruptly. "I will have to fulfill my duties in other ways."

    Kylah puts the heel of her right hand against her exhausted eyes. "I... I have nowhere to turn. And now you see why I tell you I earned this. Aside from my cowardice, I was ignorant and nave to think I could get away with escaping. Someone might have recognized me. Maybe someone even hired them, an enemy of Elas. Maybe they were one of the masked men. Maybe that is why they punished me. I do not know. I do not know." She finally drops her hand and stares hollowly at the man opposite her. "I am sorry, Mr. Graham. I am sorry to put this on you."
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 08:06 PM.

  12. #612
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham can see that Kylah is exhausted. Good thing too, the thought nibbles at the back of his mind: 'cause jeez, so am I...

    Kylah's story is so incredible he feels it either has to be true, or she's a terrible liar, but it would be positively sadistic to push on her story to find out now.

    Just what Rangin would expect from me, he thinks--what irony. I've seen a whole lot of mean and ugly from him today, and the fact that he just might not have committed physical assault after all doesn't much change my opinion.

    What if Lizzy were ever this tired, or this scared? For a moment he's looking at a young woman his daughter's age. It doesn't matter which version of her story is true: she's tired, desperate, feeling alone. And the worst thing she did wrong was be young and scared and maybe stupid. If that's a crime we're all guilty.

    He shakes his head. "Don't worry about me. A lot of things have been put on me. Ah, often heavy, sharp, and wielded with malicious intent." He frowns. "I'm sorry, I guess you've just experienced that yourself."

    "Hey...maybe we're part of a little club, you and I...people who went--or, ah, at least tried to go--AWOL from Starfleet," he says reassuringly. He shrugs and smiles just slightly, not sure humor is welcome but not sure where else to go. "Maybe we should have a little secret sign..." He draws his right hand out to the right and then across his buddy with a little "whoosh" like an accelerating starship.

    He sees her hand lying in front of him. He extends both his hands, and folds them like a roof over hers--but stopping just short of touching hers. Let her be in control.

    "Look," he begins, glancing down at their hands and then back to her face. "I don't think any of these terrible things are going to happen. I'm 100% certain there's no way they possibly could before you've had the chance to get a little rest."

    He pauses and clears his throat. "I guess your impression of...ah, maybe everybody, Starfleet, men...may not be so great. But the worst you did was make a mistake. We don't abandon our people for making a mistake," he says no doubt of that in his mind. "Just..promise me not to do anything...ah, rash until you've had a chance to recover a bit, OK? Until I, uh, have had a chance to think through some of what you told me, too. I'll, um... Well, you'll be all right," he says, hoping she'll believe she can relax a little--not that he has a fully-fleshed out brilliant plan, but at least convinced that throwing her to one of take-your-pick pack of wolves is to be avoided.

  13. #613
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah's nerves feel on edge, just having Graham's hands in close proximity to hers. But she listens as best she can. "You... you went AWOL?" she whispers, staring up at him. "Will you tell me about it, some time? If it is not too personal?"

    It is strange, he is not as tall as Aldaan, but he seems so much larger. Not long ago--indeed, less than twenty-four hours--rather than tolerate his nearness, she would have skittishly edged to the other side of the room. Now she is both too tired and too reliant on his goodwill to keep her distance. For better or worse, imposition or not, Kylah has put Booker Graham in the position to be her shield. She must hide behind him, and continue to trust him.

    For so long, she believed Graham more judgmental than Velir. Now she thinks the older man is much more accepting of her flaws. Her innate, relentless flaws.

    "I will not do anything rash," she murmurs. "I lost the opportunity to do so. If those men had not attacked me, I would not have returned to the Yorktown. I would have found my way onto some cargo ship. Changed my name, changed my life. Now... Now I am still here. On this ship that is so large, but not large enough for me to avoid him."

    She looks down at his hands again. "Mr. Graham... I... I would hold your hand. I wish I could. But after what happened, I find I cannot bear to be touched. Even gently or kindly. But I want you to know that... I would do it, if I could." Kylah lifts her chin so their eyes meet. "Whatever you decide, thank you for hearing me out. For listening." After a moment of tortured thought, Kylah slips her hand from beneath his and tentatively brushes her fingertips along his sleeve, light as a feather. Then she pulls her hand back and is about to lie back down when she finds her canvas bag is in the way. Slowly she lifts it by the one working handle and places it on the floor--where she finds the small paper gift bag. She inhales deeply and sighs.

    "I so wanted him to have this," she says forlornly, almost to herself. "I was so happy when I found it..."

    Tired at regretful, she lies back on the bed and pulls the covers over her. "Thank you again, Mr. Graham. I will pray you are right that things will work out, but... that has not been my experience. Still, you are kind. You are kind," she repeats softly, her dark eyes pinning his in hopes that he understands just how much she means the words. As much as she tries, though, she cannot keep her eyes open for long. Before she can say a final good night she is asleep.
    Last edited by choie; 09 Jun 2015 at 10:05 PM.

  14. #614
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    Graham stands for a few moments, silently, watching Kylah sleep.

    Many feelings pass over Graham, but the only ones he allows to take hold are those worthy of being called "kind."

    That's for out there, not in here, he thinks.

    Well, almost all out there. Before he leaves quietly he turns back and carefully takes the gift bag.

    He turns to watch the door close behind him as if he's watching a secure vault door close when he steps out into Sickbay.

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    T'Var and Collins are seated and talking quietly nearby. The doctor rises and asks Graham, "Is she all right?"

    Lt. Onn is still in the big chair on the Bridge when Lt. Thalen, at the Communications station, says, "Incoming message from Thoth police, ma'am."

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    Nia, who has been contemplating getting in touch with Graham to find out exactly what's happening on the planet, turns to Thalen with a grateful nod. "Thanks, Lieutenant," she says, and hits her chair's comm switch to announce: "This is Lieutenant Onn of the Yorktown. Any news for us down there?"

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    The cold fury that had sustained Rangin in the Sick Bay is slowly dissipating and his steps become heavier as he begins to slow down and try to piece together what just happened. The only thing he is sure of that no matter what happened, Graham would not be disciplined for assaulting him. Security always stuck together. What could he do now, Kylah no longer cared about him, that is also certain. She had seen him grabbed by Graham and all she wanted to do is talk to Graham, with himself an afterthought. Again.

    Feeling sick as both his mind and stomach churn, the only thing he can decide on, is that he is not going to run. Years ago, he would have been straight for a transfer elsewhere, no point staying in such a poisonous atmosphere and it was still an option, if needed. But he was going to force the issue.

    Besides he had a job to do, something which would keep the others away from him, something he can use to ignore the rest of the world and the science labs were always open no matter what the time.

    Stopping and slowly turning, he heads for his quarters to freshen up. A fresh purpose of the scientific in his steps, but devoid of any hint of caring anymore.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  18. #618
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    Collins also stands, but says nothing, at the moment.

  19. #619
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    Graham clears his throat. "She's...as all right as she can be, I guess given the circumstances." He adds softly with a glance back at the door. "She's asleep, now."

    He turns to T'Var awkwardly. "Uh, Doc, I disobeyed your order. Under the circumstances, I thought it was necessary. But..." he pauses a moment. "I regret that it was you. If you, ah, feel the need to, uh, do something about it, I respect your decision."

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    Collins just watches Graham as he apologizes to T'Var. When he's done, she says "You, me, gym, now!" and once he starts walking that way follows him closely.

    In the gym, she first checks to make sure no one else is there, then turns to him and yells "What is your problem, Ensign?"

    The first thing that pops into Graham's mind is to yell back "I DON'T KNOW WHY YOU ARE SHOUTING AT ME!" but he decides Collins is no mood for humor.

    "Well," he clears his throat and rubs his chin. He exhales deeply. "Well I don't mean to tell you our business, L-T, but we should have..." He avoids saying "you should have let me." No need to up the ante by making this personal - now they are talking business. "We should have gotten Rangin out of there immediately, before he had time for his little performance." He shakes his head slowly. "That last dose of manipulation can't have been good for Kylah."

    "Agreed, but why are you so convinced that he was involved in what happened to Kylah? He was on the bridge when it happened. That aside, I now see why you lost your last promotion. You have got to listen to people when they tell you to do something. And you need to do something about your temper." Collins feels like a school teacher giving a student a time out. "I don't get it, Booker. You've been in Starfleet longer than me or Kylah or Rangin. You should be more professional. Why are you behaving like a first year cadet on his first break?"

    Ironically, Graham was not angry with Collins at all, but being lectured by someone who hasn't even asked what went down before she entered the room is starting to get to him. He takes another deep breath. "Look," he says, trying not to sound heated but instinctively pointing at Collins. "I know you don't owe me the benefit of the doubt, given my big moments of stupid down on OCIII." He pauses and collects himself, speaking now as if giving a report.

    "But when a suspect--" he says it matter-of-factly, reflecting his view at the time. "Lays hands on a helpless patient who says 'stop' and 'you promised you wouldn't hurt me' using a textbook compliance hold to separate him from her immediately if not a temper tantrum...it's our job." He emphasizes the last two words and folds his arms across his chest, widening his stance. There, now maybe I've piqued your curiosity and we can talk about the real problem. Problems.

    "Okay. Tell me what you know, without making any assumptions as to what really happened on Anubis." Collins is calmer now. He's right, of course, but he should have released Rangin when T'Var told him to. "Did you learn anything useful in the bar?"

    Graham unfolds his arms and adopts a less aggressive posture. He rubs his head. "I know I can be a giant pain-in-the-ass, L-T. But I'm not totally crazy." He shakes his head--sadly if nothing else for everything that happened that day. "We both saw some mean and ugly from Rangin earlier, and from what I gather that may just have been the tip of the iceberg in relation to what happened between the two of them earlier." He pauses and exhales again. "But, ah, yeah, at this point I think he came back--or the odds are he came back to the ship--before the...before it happened, that he's not our assailaint." This time, still lurks as a suspicion in his mind, but he decides discretion is the better part of valor with Collins at the moment.

    He sighs and starts to pace. "I don't want to get ahead of Kylah making her statement. She needs to rest, first..." he pauses. "Sheesh. For sure."

    "Ahhh...anyway, ah, she was the victim of a robbery. I'm pretty sure the bartender knew she had some money, and some...valuables." He looks at Collins and shrugs. "Apparently that zither thing was worth a lot." He spreads his hands. "I know what you're going to ask--so why did they smash it?" He shakes his head. "Not sure--bunch of local assholes dissatisfied with their tip-off, expecting something more obvious--or more cash." He frowns. "That might explain the viciousness of the assault, too."

    He stops pacing. "As near as I can tell she wants to forget about the whole thing. Not uncommon."

    He grimaces. "Like I said, I don't want to get ahead of her statement. If I were the locals, I'd add a close eye on the bartender to their net investigating similar crimes where a visitor was transported and robbed."

    Graham wonders how Collins will react--at the moment, he's crossed no Rubicons and told no explicit lies, and if he's lucky she'll be content with dressing me down...Or am I content to stop here, without bringing up the hotel on OCIII and Collins' order to stand down...?

    "Yes, she definitely needs to rest and heal." Collins is relieved to hear that Graham no longer suspects Rangin. "So, okay, what do you suggest we do, other than filling the local LEOs in on what we've found out, while we wait for Kylah to gather her thoughts and give us her statement? We could let them handle it from here, since it involves their citizens, and not delay whatever it is we were headed to do in the first place before shore leave."

    Graham can't help but laugh. "Ah hell, well shit, you're right, L-T...there was something we were actually supposed to be doing..." He's grateful for an "out." We're all wired, tired...

    "Ah, look, I promise I'll avoid Rangin tonight. My guts says leave this to the locals." He deadpans: "unless you want me to beam down there and hold that bartender upside-down by his ankles from the roof of the bar until he talks." He raises an eyebrow. "Just kidding--really." He shrugs. "Maybe we--or Kylah--will feel differently in the morning, but..." He shakes his head again. "I feel kind of...dirty...from all this. Maybe we should all just clear our heads and have done with it."

    "Yeah, a good night's sleep will help," Collins half-laughs with Graham. "But save that roof/ankle move. We still might need it, you never know." More seriously, she adds "We're going to have to report to Vargas, including the incident between you and Rangin. Surely he's already told his CO."

    Graham sighs and nods. "Understood L-T. The fact is I did use force on the..." he pauses, then substitutes as different word rather than "asshole". "...guy. So I'll file a full report. I'll verbally reach out to Vargas first too."

    Graham is sanguine about the possibility of a transfer to the wrong end of nowhere--except for his concerns about Kylah. Collins seems like she may really have it together, now, he thinks. If it does come to that, we can have a talk... But for god's sake not now.

    "Good. I'm sure he'll ask me about it, too. But okay," Collins holds out her right hand, "We're good," and smiles at Graham.




    Collins by anyrose, Graham by g_u. Duplicative text then removed at anyrose's request by Elendil's Heir; light editing.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Jun 2015 at 03:35 PM. Reason: spellcheck wants anyrose to be anywise even though I don't think anywise is a word

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    Rangin's quarters are empty for the moment; his bunkmate is not there.

    A male voice comes from the speaker grille in the big chair. Onn hears, "This is Det. Velgee Lunnd of the Major Crimes Unit, Thoth Constabulary. We have a probable but not definite DNA identification of whoever was in that Hathor warehouse with your Ens. Kylah. Hathor's a small copshop and they're letting us run with this. Is Lt. JG Collins still leading the investigation? If not, I'd like to speak to whoever is."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Jun 2015 at 03:42 PM.

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    Nia nods to herself. "That's encouraging, Detective, thank you very much. As far as I know, Lt. Collins is still leading, although her second, Ensign Graham, is the one who was working down in Thoth... last I heard, anyway. I'll send you through." She glances back at Thalen to address him. "Please open additional channels to Collins and Graham?"

    Assuming she is connected, Nia will tell the security officers: "Lt. Onn to Collins and Graham. I've just received word from a Detective Lunnd down on the planet, from the Thoth Constabulary. Says they have a likely match on the DNA from the warehouse. He wants to talk to Collins, or whoever's leading the investigation. Graham, are you still on the planet? Either way, you can both take part in the discussion as far as I'm concerned--it'll save some back-and-forth--but it's your call, Lt. Collins."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 10 Jun 2015 at 04:04 PM.

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    Collins strides over to the wall communications panel. "Collins here, that's great news, Lieutenant. Graham is here with me. Please put Detective Luund through to here."

    When the connection is active "Detective, this is Lieutenant JG Collins. I'm glad to hear you've made some progress. Ensign Kylah is going to make a full recovery, although for the present, her memory is a little foggy."

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    When the contact is established and the others take over, Nia sits back in her chair and taps her tented fingers together, wearing an amused expression despite her mild annoyance. She swivels to Thalen. "You know, Lieutenant," she says playfully, "I wonder if the crew might benefit from a mandatory refresher course on intra-staff communications--in particular, a reminder in keeping our superiors and teammates in the loop so that we, and I'm using the royal 'we' here, might not look foolish when we're unaware of the comings and goings of a landing party. Thoughts?"

    Before he responds, she holds up a finger and decides to take her own advice. "Onn to T'Var. Doctor, how's Ensign Kylah doing? My shift'll be ending soon and I'd like to make sure I can hand over an accurate, updated status report."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 10 Jun 2015 at 04:35 PM.

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    Graham's barely finished shaking Collins' hand when they hear the hail.

    Despite the fact that Kylah seems to wants to forget the whole thing, it would be good to take the perps off the street. Recovering a boatload of cash and jewelry would be awkward: he hopes he can remind her that carrying around a lot of bling is neither against the law nor Starfleet regulations. And what matters is not what she was thinking about doing what what actually happened...

    Or I could just try to calm her down by comparing this situation to my own: hell, when I went AWOL I stole a shuttle intending to hunt down and kill some people...

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    Grumbling as he heads at speed down the corridor, well aware of what duties Chef is planning for him tonight, Ship's Cook Johnson hastily makes his way to Sickbay. He knows who will be there from the scuttlebutt going round, Ens. Kylah severely injured on shore leave to the point of being fixed up by T'Var. Two birds, one stone so to speak. It was just a shame he would not be able to stay for too long.

    Arriving he looks around for T'Var and his heart flutters slightly as he spies her. Damnable emotions getting in the way, but it is always good to see her and he approaches respectfully while keeping out of sight of the other doctors.

    "Hello Dr. T'Var, how are you? I dropped you a message last night about another chess game. Oh and I thought you might like some more of these..." Johnson comments as he pulls out a small tray of Vulcan pastries.

    "I was also going to drop these off for Ens. Kylah if she's ok to have them. I was going to give it to her last night, but something or other happened. It's Bellaque, she might appreciate it, taste of home cooking and all that after what just happened."

    Johnson hands a second plate across to T'Var. "Please can you pass them across. I'd stay but I have to prep the Captain's table tonight for guests. Chef'll marmalade me if I miss it."
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    T'Var gives Onn a status report on Kylah.

    She accepts the pastries. "I am sure Ensign Kylah will appreciate your efforts, Mr. Johnson," T'Var says. "And yes, I would enjoy another chess game."

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    Det. Lunnd tells Collins, "Well, I hope she'll be better soon. We might need her to ID the suspect. The partial DNA results we got suggest that the blood came from Lez Trovon, a Thoth resident who's got an extensive criminal record. We think we know where he is. Did you want to send anyone along when we pick him up?"

    Lt. Thalen thinks for a moment. "Perhaps, Lt. Onn, Transporter Room personnel should report to the Bridge whenever anyone comes or goes? It could be a standing order. That way the BCDO would know who's where without making further inquiries."

    It is now 1501 hours ship's time.

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    "Dr T'Var, you are a star. After the Captain's table, I'm free all night just for once. When you're ready, let me know and yeah, let us know how the little Ensign's doing, though she's probably gonna bend my ear over that Bellaque. Seeya round Ma'am."

    Johnson heads off ready to take on the world, he just hopes his gift for Kylah is up to scratch.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Kylah turns slightly in her sleep, a slight frown revealing some residual pain from her ribs, but it quickly dissipates.

    * * *

    The baby is crying. Something hurts. It is not her own pain, but she feels it anyway, somewhere deep inside her heart. A sense that nothing will be right again because something, someone, has gone away forever.

    She cannot express words, she is too little, but her tears produce a desired result. He is suddenly near, and soon she is in his arms. His heartbeat beneath her head soothes her somewhat, except in truth, the pain is stronger now. Is it his pain? She lifts a scrawny, tiny hand up to his chin. Stubble hurts her fingers but he kisses them and, using his free hand, takes them gently away. His own hand is massive compared to hers. Mostly all she sees is light brown hair, a white shirt, and his large blue eyes. They are also crying.

    He says something she cannot understand, it is all just a deep, husky sound of words of which she only identifies 'mama.' Then he cradles her against him and sings the song, one that appears to be an ancient lullaby.

    "Nothing's gonna harm you,
    Not while I'm around,
    Nothing's gonna harm you, dear one,
    Not while I'm around..."

    She closes her eyes and listens to his soft voice, which is broken and tight but the song is one she has heard forever, and it relieves her even though his pain is getting more pronounced.

    Luckily he puts her back in the crib rather than keeping her in his arms. That helps. As does his gently running a hand along the back of her head, so gently he seems afraid to touch her.

    "...No one's gonna hurt you,
    No one's gonna dare,
    Other's can desert you,
    Not to worry; whistle I'll be there,
    Demons'll charm you with a smile, for a while,
    But in time...
    Nothing's gonna harm you,
    Not while..."

    The voice fades away.


    * * *

    Her right hand curled beneath her pillow, Kylah sighs and briefly opens her eyes. Her face is wet with tears, just as in the dream--one she has had several times before in her life.

    She has never understood the dream or known where it comes from. It cannot be a memory; her father certainly never sang to her, and the songs Aldaan taught her were playful, not lullabies. Besides, the lyrics and tune are not typical of any Elasian songs.

    The dream always ends unfinished, as it did just now. But it never lasted so long. Instead of the song fading on the sinister 'demons' or the 'others can desert you' lines, the man's words went further. They reassured her, they did not merely threaten.

    Someone, even this mythical stranger who has always seemed in pain himself, promised to be there for her. To protect her against... something. Some kind of nameless harm and abandonment.

    In the quiet sickbay room, Kylah is far too hazy to think about it. But she pulls herself more deeply into her pillow. Whenever she has awoken from this dream before, it has always been with an unspoken ache, a sense of longing. While those feelings are still present, now there is more; there is comfort: Comfort from the idea that someone wanted her safe. Someone promised to keep her safe.

    Before sleep overtakes her again, she sees a flash of Graham's face. Of course, she knows that he is not the man from her dream, if such a person ever truly existed outside of fantasy. Still, she cannot help remember Graham's own promise. Will he keep it? Perhaps he will. She believes he will. At least... she believes he will try. It is more than she has any right to expect.

    Kylah sighs and slowly drifts back to sleep. As always, her last conscious thought is the hope that this time, she will get to finish the bittersweet yet lovely dream.

    But, also as always, she does not.
    Last edited by choie; 11 Jun 2015 at 11:33 AM. Reason: Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, with a slight change due to three centuries of time.

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    Rangin enters the cabin as quiet and as empty as he feels given the last few hours. The lights flicker on and illuminate the room, and he stands for a moment, almost gathering his bearings, deciding on what course of action to take. Freshen up, that was it, a brief shower, get changed and then just head to the science labs to start working on the sensor. Simple tasks, not requiring much thought. Things he can't get wrong, things others can't hurt him with, things he can't hurt others with. It didn't matter, what was done was done and there is no point in trying to hide from it, just accept the responsibility for his words and actions and move on.

    It's then that he looks across at the small table and sees the pile of trinkets he had bought on Anubis for his sister. The gifts he had bought. The little special somethings for those he cared about.

    "Here you go Mr Graham, I am of the opinion that I do not deserve this gift from Mr. Kylah any more, perhaps you should have it instead."

    Rangin slumps into a chair, shaking as the scene starts to play out over in his mind once again, all the while his gaze is fixed firmly on a little bracelet in a gift box. Kylah had bought him a gift and he had thrown it back in her face, not just that but rejected her almost outright. No he had rejected her outright.

    Rangin felt alone. He would have asked Kylah for help but his own actions had driven a wedge, no a chasm, between them.

    The others would all be round comforting Kylah, she would not be alone, the poor wounded princess in her bed, the accusatory glances in his direction. Accusations of what he didn't know, apparently not being there when he should be. Oh there were other on the ship he could talk to, others he probably knew better than Kylah, Pourtash for one, some of the science crew for more.

    But...for the last few days he had become close to Kylah, was getting to know...well no he hadn't. He still didn't know about her and because of it he had pushed her away, scared in case history repeated itself. Well, history had just repeated itself only this time he was going to be around to see the pieces fall down.

    He misses her.

    Like her before, Rangin misses Kylah. A little piece of his heart cut out and trampled on the floor, only this time he had done it to himself. Despite it all, Kylah is, well was, someone Rangin could talk to, someone who seemed to know what he was thinking, only instead of running away, this time he was just walking away.

    Rangin continues to sit and look at the gifts, lost in his own nightmares, as he wonders what he can do to change it this time around.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    The brief, almost terse report from T'Var tells Nia almost nothing new. Except she has the strangest sense that T'Var could have told her more, but chose not to. Maybe some brief medical screw-up that got fixed so she doesn't think it's important enough to mention? Who knows with doctors? Nia thinks. Inscrutable bunch. And that goes triple for Vulcans.

    She decides she'll get more out of a report from Collins or Graham, assuming either of them decides to go against apparent Security protocol and actually talks to someone outside the thin red wall.

    Thin red wall? More like a big fat red fortress.

    Thalen's suggestion puts a smile back on her face. "That's the sorta thing exactly. Excellent idea. You mind if I steal it--giving you full credit, of course--and pass it along in a note to the Captain?" Nia's gaze falls back on the tablet from Russell. "It'll be part of a theme, as it were. Of proposals on how to facilitate intercourse among the crew."

    If the others hear her low chuckle or see the wicked gleam in her eyes, Nia does not care.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 11 Jun 2015 at 12:01 PM.

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    Collins replies to Det. Lunnd, "Yes, if we are still in orbit, we will definitely send someone. I know the ship is expected elsewhere, but I am not sure of the timeline. As for Ensign Kylah being able to ID anyone, she said they all wore masks; maybe a voice line up instead? Also, I still have to bring my CO up to speed. Ultimately, it will be his call what we here do next."

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    While Collins speaks to the detective, Graham gestures for just a second to speak with her offline. "I'm going to take a second to give Vargas a heads up about the...incident...before I do anything else."

    He moves away and hails Vargas.

    assuming Vargas answers

    "Cmdr. Vargas, this is Ens. Graham. A short time ago in the course of the investigation into the assault on Ens. Kylah I used force against a member of the crew--specifically, a control-and-compliance hold on Mr. Rangin, in Sickbay. I will of course file a report, but as this was a member of the crew I wanted to inform you personally and immediately."

    "Lt. Collins is aware and partially witness to the incident. Dr. T'Var witnessed its entirety. There was no complaint of injury by Mr. Rangin."

    "Based on the totality of events at the time I came to the conclusion Mr. Rangin was a suspect and separating him from Mr. Kylah was urgent and necessary for her safety. To be clear, new information has come to light that indicates he is not a suspect...in this case."

    He pauses and almost stops, then adds "If you or the Captain initiate any formal inquiry, I will waive my right to counsel and appeal. I'll speak for myself, sir, and accept your findings."

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    Collins, still talking with the detective, gives Graham a thumbs up.

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    The duty nurse looks in on Kylah, then quietly withdraws.

    Thalen smiles. "Take full credit, if you like, Mr. Onn. It's not original to me."

    Bennett turns around and rolls her eyes at the Sidonian officer's pun, then cannot help but chuckle.

    Vargas seems taken aback but says, "All right, thank you, Mr. Graham. I will take that under advisement, and will contact Mr. Rangin in the meantime."

    The Thoth detective says, "We'll be moving in the next ten minutes. We don't want him slipping away. Let me know ASAP if you want to go. Lunnd out."

    Rangin's desk computer terminal beeps, and the First Officer appears on the small viewscreen. "Vargas to Rangin."

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    The beep catches Rangin unawares as Cmdr. Vargas' voice echoes through the room and Rangin's mind whirls with what it could be about.

    Was Vargas giving him an update on the hunt for Kylah's attackers, maybe the findings he had handed across had come in useful after all. Or is he being reported for the scene in Sickbay, where despite everything he had tried to do to help, he is the one on the outside. After all Security sticks together. A small part of him wishes that none of it is happening and Vargas is just asking if he wants a game of 4-D chess, instead of the traditional version, but that would be a very remote possibility.

    Sitting up straight and calming himself, Rangin steels himself to talk to the stern Commander and flicks the switch to acknowledge receipt. "Yes sir, Ensign Rangin here."
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    "Yes, I ..." will be right down, without permission, without checking in with Vargas, "... will get back to you shortly. If you don't hear back from me in five," Collins tells the detective, "Go ahead without us. Collins out." She terminates that call and quickly calls Cmdr. Vargas "Collins here, sir. Detective Lunnd of the Thoth police are closing in on their prime suspect and want to know if we'll be sending anyone to assist?"

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    Vargas is talking to Collins and Rangin a few minutes apart, naturally.

    He says to the Security officer, "An assault on a member of this crew requires our continued involvement, even if local law enforcement is taking the lead. Assemble a landing party and beam down to assist. The Captain has postponed our departure until we have a better understanding of what happened down there, or until Thoth police say we're no longer needed."

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    "Yes, sir." Collins says to Vargas with a happy glint in her voice. This is the kind of security work she loves. Catching the bad guys. "Collins out." She taps the comm again "This is Lieutenant Collins. Please put me through to Detective Lunnd on Anubis." While she waits for the call to go through, she says into the comm "This is Collins. Lieutenant Jones and Ensign Rawlings, meet us in Transporter Room One, armed and ready."

    When Det, Lunnd is put through, she'll tell him that four security officers will beam down immediately, then says "Let's hit it" to Graham and heads to Transporter Room 1 at a fast clip.

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    "I'll be 30 seconds behind you," Graham says, realizing he needs to drop off the bag he took from Sickbay in his quarters. He moves as quickly as he can without running into anyone or walls to do so and then join Collins in Transporter Room One.

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    Lunnd replies, "Acknowledged, Lt. Collins. We'll meet you shortly at these coordinates." He provides them and breaks the connection.

    Jones and Rawlings meet Collins in Transporter Room 1. Graham arrives soon after. "What's up, Lieutenant?" Jones asks as they each draw a phaser-2 from the arms locker. Rawlings gets a Security tricorder, as well.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 12 Jun 2015 at 02:51 PM.

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    Collins gives the coordinates Lunnd gave her to the transporter chief. As she steps onto the pad, she tells the other security personnel "The local LEOs have IDed one of the suspects and are about to go in for the grab. Vargas said we should be there since it was one of ours that was attacked."

    As soon as all four are on the pad, she tells the chief to energize.

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    T'Var continues to monitor Kylah's stats while watching her fitful sleep. Kylah's physical injuries should heal completely with time. Her emotional wounds are another matter. Hopefully, those wounds can be addressed as well.

    The doctor looks forward to her next chess match with Johnson. Her encounters with him over the chessboard help to relax and recharge her.

  45. #645
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Even in her sleep, Kylah feels a calm descending upon her, as well as what feels like a tightening band around her head. This change in her emotions gradually rouses her. She opens her eyes, squinting against the dull pain, and stares at the room, at first a little disoriented but gradually remembering where she is, and why she is here. Also, she becomes aware that she is not alone. At last her gaze catches sight of T'Var, who is currently looking at a monitor.

    Kylah moistens her dry lips. "Doctor," she whispers, then clears her throat before continuing. "May I have some water?"

  46. #646
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    Collins and the other Yorktown Security officers beam down. They find themselves in a large, somewhat dusty room. Three airbuses with THOTH SCHOOLS on the sides are parked nearby. There are four large doors, now closed, apparently leading outside. Det. Lunnd and four other police officers, all in body armor, are there. Lunnd shakes Collins's hand and says, "We're using this School Board garage as a staging area. Lez Trovon was spotted by our citywide facial-recognition system half an hour ago, going into an apartment building nearby. He hasn't come out since. He has some violent crime on his record, so we're not going to take any chances when we go in and grab him. Questions?"

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    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
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    Collins sees the body armor, assesses the risk, and say. "Nope, we'll take up positions outside covering the exits." She turns to her crewmates, "Graham and Jones, you take the rear exit, Rawlings and I will cover the front. Phasers on heavy stun, guys." She turns back to Lunnd. "Good?"
    Last edited by anyrose; 13 Jun 2015 at 05:50 PM.

  48. #648
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham nods appreciatively at the body armor.

    Good times, he thinks (without only a little irony) of past experiences being fully geared-up calls to mind.

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    "Of course," T'Var says. The doctor gets Kylah a cool glass of water. "How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to make you more comfortable?"

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    Pushing herself up slightly, Kylah thanks the doctor for the water. Physically, she does feel better; the bruising and healed bones are more like the memories of pain, except when she exerts herself. However... something is definitely wrong with her empathic abilities. Kylah's head did not bother her when she was alone, but now with T'Var by her bed, she again feels vaguely dizzy.

    As controlled as the Vulcan's emotions are, Kylah can still sense something--they are radiating out to her in pulse-like waves. Kylah's empathic powers are not usually this acute--certainly not without physical contact--and they usually do not fade in and out like this. It is giving her vertigo.

    "My physical wounds are better. But--" Kylah looks around to make sure there is no one nearby, and then continues quietly. "There is something wrong. I cannot explain it very well. My--my empathic abilities seem to have been affected. I cannot focus. They are giving me random impressions from everyone, even when I am not trying at all. Even you. You are looking forward to something...to being with someone."

    Kylah bites her lips. "I do not mean to be invasive. I cannot help it. I should not be able to know this, especially not with you. And what is worse... I think I have told you that my impressions are stronger with physical contact? Since I woke up here, every time someone touches me, it burns. The flood of emotions feels like acid through my veins, from wherever they touch me to here." She lifts her good hand to her eyes and right temple. "Behind my eyes. I am in dread of anyone touching me. I already dreaded it after OCIII, I did not think it would get worse." Regretting having said as much, she closes her eyes. "I just... I know Vulcans are experienced with such abilities, at least with telepathy. Have you ever heard of a physical injury--a head injury--causing problems with such things?"

    She looks at T'Var again, trying to find some hope. "Could it just be temporary? I was hit in the back of my head, perhaps it somehow caused my brain to--to bruise, in some way?" Kylah sighs and stares down at the glass of water. "You are the only one I can ask, doctor. Dr. Villa mentioned my brain scan was 'interesting' and I only hope it is because she has not seen someone who is half-Elasian before. Is there anything you can do to find out, without... without telling anyone else?"

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