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

  1. #151
    Elephant SidonianGal's avatar
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    Nia nods at Thalen when he enters, not certain if he's seen her, but is quick to return her attention to Graham. "A personal stash," she says speculatively, her voice lilting in light surprise when she feels his fingers brush hers--which reflexively reach up just a little to prolong the connection. Warm. "I'd be honored to partake in that sometime. And until then, I'll take that last drink now. I've got an early watch coming up."

    While Graham orders, Nia's gaze shifts to Thalen. "As for dancing, if you want lessons, Thalen over there organizes most of the cultural stuff on board the ship. I'm a novice myself, and maybe it's time I learned too. So if you need a partner..." She lets the thought hang in the air before continuing. "...Otherwise there's not much opportunity for dancing. Not the kind you do in public, anyway."

    She leans her elbow on the table, chin in hand, and lets her eyes meet Graham's. "That hypothetical fast-swimming, smooth-talking, high-ranking flyboy you mentioned? Sure, I've been with him, and plenty like him.

    "The thing is, most aren't all that thrilled by a woman who can out-fly them. They like the shy, retiring, admiring types. And that ain't me."

    When the drinks arrive, Nia lifts her glass, takes a sip and enjoys the taste even more. Then she lets the glass rest on the table, her finger absently circling with the rim.

    "Besides, those flyboys are all about competition and speed--you know, who can get there first, to hell with paying attention to the finer details of the journey. I've reached the point in my life where I'm starting to appreciate those finer details." Her voice softens as she contemplates Graham; her eyelids are lowered but she sees him very, very clearly. "Quick jaunts are exciting, don't get me wrong, and I'm happy to take them. But I've found that a slower, more deliberate pace is much more intensely satisfying. It's worth taking the time to get things right."

    She finishes the drink and rises. Before she leaves, she bends down, letting her hair fall against his cheek as she murmurs: "Which is the only reason I'm not asking for a tour of that private stash now. In case you were wondering." Straightening, Nia smiles and pats his shoulder. "Good to meet you, Booker Graham, and thanks for the drinks. Hope we'll be in touch soon?"

    Her arm lingers along Graham's when she passes him by. With a low, pleasant greeting to Thalen, Nia leaves the lounge. She feels as if she's been immersed in that Scottish mist Graham spoke about, or walking in the dewy spring grass back in Oregon. Refreshed. Pliant. And looking forward to the future.

  2. #152
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham lives up (up?) to Onn's preference for men who aren't fast movers and smooth talkers by grunting "uh" and mumbling "sure" at her parting words.

    He watches her leave the lounge.

    Well son of a bitch, he thinks, finishing what's left in his glass. That was unexpected.

    He stands, straightens his shirt, and nonetheless frowns slightly as he makes for his quarters. Dammit, I don't actually want to learn to dance, though...

  3. #153
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    Thalen smiles and nods at Nia as she passes. He seems preoccupied.

    Graham makes his way back to his quarters and finds Mahmoud, his roomie, with his boots off, sprawled against a pillow. He is reading in bed - The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. "Hey, Booker. What's going on?"

    It is now 1927 hours.

  4. #154
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Uh...not really sure," Graham says, scratching his head, but smiling slightly. "You know a lieutenant named Onn, Faisal?"

  5. #155
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    Kylah backs up slightly and, flushing with her murmured 'thank you,' re-ties her bathrobe. She would get dressed entirely but something electric in the air makes her sense urgency, impatience--she cannot even tell if it is coming from her or him. Either way, she must not waste his time. Besides, she does not want him to think she is less comfortable in such an outfit in front of him, as opposed to Graham and Johnson.

    When finished, she draws him over to the bed and sits down. "Now please," she says searchingly, caressing his hand. "Tell me how the tests went. You say they were boring? Then they were not painful at all? Invasive?" The memories of her own experience haunt her and she fears Velir might be shielding her from the worst. "No scans or sonic probes?"

    * * *

    Rangin is beginning to wonder why Kylah seems to not want to let go of him. Sweet though it is, he thought she was a little more sure of herself than as she is acting now. But he puts the worries aside for the moment and beings to relate what happened in Sick Bay.

    "It was nothing quite so sinister in being tested. There was the trying to guess the cards test, the guess what I am reading test. They also had a brain scan running while I was shown some pictures. I have no idea how the test went, Dr Villa and Dr T'Var went to study the results behind closed doors, so I honestly don't know what happened. Well, that's not quite true."

    Rangin thinks back to the Dr Villa's comments and doubt begins to creep in. "Villa did also say she wanted to run the test results past some colleagues, but I'm sure if there was anything serious I would have been told by now. Then again, she was interested in getting T'Var to try a mind meld with me to see if she could find anything of note."

    Rangin looks back across and realises that Kylah has been constantly stroking his hand for the last few minutes. "Kylah, you can stop stroking the back of my hand or you are going to wear it out."

    * * *

    At once Kylah lets go, a little hurt by his small joke. She is still trying to understand what he is going through. And now...

    "A mind meld," she whispers, eyes wide at the thought. Even the medical procedures she underwent had not been as terrifying a prospect. "Is it even safe? With T'Var having been controlled by Mr. Palver..."

    Kylah stands up, walking away from Velir before turning back. "What if it is a plot? Perhaps Palver found some way of--of transmitting a message or scheme from one person to another through their minds, like a virus?" She sinks back on the bed. "They cannot even tell you how or why you escaped Palver's control, and now they want to let T'Var's consciousness invade yours... No, Velir, I do not think you should allow this!"

    * * *

    Rangin is caught slightly off balance by Kylah's protestations and takes a moment to gather himself. "I raised the same points with Dr Villa. T'Var has been through her own battery of tests and has come out clean, no ill effects, no lasting damage as far as they can tell. No, she hasn't tried a mind-meld yet and I was given the option of waiting until Anubis and having a Vulcan from there carry out one instead. If, and I do mean if, it is necessary. Dr. Villa wasn't even sure it would be."

    He looks across at her, something catching at his thoughts. "Kylah, you sound like there is more to it than just a mind-meld. It won't be an invasion, more a sharing. And besides I do trust T'Var to to be respectful of my thoughts at the same time." Rangin shakes his head and rises quickly, the bed reminding him of days past, of things he had done, and he slowly walks across the room and back. "And besides, I'm not going to run away from it, just because it might, possibly, maybe, perhaps be an issue."

    Rangin slumps back down on to the bed, "Please enough of the psi testing. It was very, very tedious and nothing really happened," he says wearily, hoping to change the subject. "How was your day, hopefully more exciting than mine was?"

    * * *

    Watching him practically collapse on the bed is a relief, at least for a moment. This way Kylah can avoid his eyes, which gives her time to rein in her galloping thoughts. The prospect of a mind-meld clearly does not cause the same visceral response in Velir that it does to her. But then, his thoughts and feelings have always been his own. Kylah does not have that luxury. Especially not after she lost herself so completely on OCIII.

    Now, judging his mood, Kylah knows she must not voice any more concerns. This need to censor herself even more than usual worries her. Something has changed, some turning point has been reached in their relationship. Until recently, every moment with Velir made her feel as if their connection was growing stronger. Lately everything she says and does seems to create a wall between them, brick by brick.

    "My watch was uneventful," she begins hesitantly. "I... I had a good talk with Lt. Collins in the mess hall. We have reached a new level of understanding. Then Graham arrived and things were... awkward. I left without eating and decided to take a shower, and suddenly he was at the door, wishing to apologize. That is why I look like this..." Kylah fingers the edge of her robe. "I did not expect him. Then Johnson arrived, and then you. It was almost amusing." She says the last part more in hope than sincerity.

    * * *

    Rangin relaxes slightly as Kylah starts to talk about what happened, glad the focus is no longer on him and those tests. He has no idea about them, but Kylah seems more worried than he does.

    "Well, it certainly sounds more interesting than trying to guess the pattern on a card. I'll be honest, I was very surprised to see you in this robe chatting away to Mr Graham and Mr Johnson like that, especially out in the corridor."

    He keeps his voice even, wondering if ease in wearing practically nothing was an Elasian thing, although it seems like he was going to be the last person to see anything further. "I did speak with Mr Johnson briefly, though he didn't say what he was here for, just that it was some kind of favour. I will admit," Rangin's head drops slightly to one side as he looks at Kylah, "that it did look slightly farcical. Perhaps I should expect someone hidden in the wardrobe or under the bed."

    Rangin smiles, hoping Kylah will also relax as well, though she still seems tense and nervous. "You also mentioned you haven't eaten, well, neither have I. Do you have any plans for later?"

    * * *

    Johnson. What did he say to Velir? He must not have mentioned the Ferguson rumor, or Velir would have repeated it--she assumes--but then again, who knows what Johnson and his infernal insinuating jokes might have placed in Velir's mind? Kylah's anxiety rises and she edges nearer to the man on her bed. "You were my plan for later," she says unthinkingly. "I mean... dining with you."

    She reaches out to lightly touch his knee, hoping to get him to look at her. "That was why Johnson was here. I wanted to please you after the tests, to surprise you with something special. He promised he would return in an hour with whatever he comes up with. You see, he owes me, after a misunderstanding a while back, so I thought he could cook something you like as a favor. Although somehow I seem to have ended up owing him..."

    She frowns. How did things get turned around in that conversation so that a debt that Johnson promised her turned into something that Kylah must repay herself?

    With a shake of her head she dismisses Johnson from her mind. Velir is right here, next to her, but he seems terribly far away. It is taking every ounce of will not to use her empathic abilities to gauge his emotions. "Does that make you happy?" she asks, searching his eyes for something, anything. "To know I was thinking of you?"
    Last edited by CatInASuit; 24 Apr 2015 at 04:33 PM. Reason: Kylah by choie, Rangin by CatInASuit
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  6. #156
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Rangin's mouth gapes open slightly. His earlier conversation with Johnson suddenly makes a little more sense. He places his hand over hers on his knee. "Yes, it does make me happy, but you honestly didn't need to call in a favour, especially if you now owe him a favour..." Rangin pauses as what Kylah said slowly registers. "...Just what kind of favour did you give up for this meal?"

    He slowly releases Kylah's hand and places it back in his own lap. "Kylah, I'm flattered that you would want to do something like that for me, truly I am, but I thought you said you wanted to keep this private for the moment?"

    * * *

    "I do not know what kind of favor, he only said I would enjoy it. It should not worry you." Kylah's stomach seems to be sinking to her knees. Nothing she does seems to be right. Another layer of bricks has heightened the wall between them. "And yes, I did want this to be private, but I thought... I thought a gesture like this would be worth sharing just a little of the truth with Mr. Johnson. All he knows is that I care about you."

    Then the thought occurs to her. "Do you want to keep this a secret?" She swallows back a rising sense of panic. "Do you--do you fear that people will think less of you for being with me? Because they think you are merely one of many?" Her voice drops to a whisper. "Because you think you are merely one of many?"

    * * *

    Rangin looks on, baffled as to where Kylah is taking this, and recoils slightly. "I...I have no problems with us being together, where did you get the idea otherwise? I want to be with you, to learn more about you, to be happy together, to have no secrets between us." The words turn to ashes in his mouth as he says them. Perhaps...perhaps in the fullness of time it could occur, if Kylah is truly someone he can trust implicity with everything.

    But then he remembers OCIII and Jan and her reluctance to tell him about it. She had been with that stranger, that much was almost a given. The horrible thought slowly rises and makes him feel sick: am I just one of many? He takes a deep breath and looks into her eyes, trying to work out what she is thinking. "I thought you wanted us to be together as a couple, I didn't think I was one of many and I can't understand why you would say that. Am I?"

    * * *

    His backing away only makes Kylah more desperate to be closer. And then he asks the question, the question she knows he has been thinking. "I said that because I saw how you looked at me, because I heard what you implied about Graham and Johnson being in my room, and because--because of how you have acted ever since that last night on the planet."

    Leaning forward, Kylah reaches to cradle his face in her hands. "Velir. You are not one of many. You are alone. And if--when--something happens, you will be the first one whom I have ever--" She chokes and her eyelids flutter down, hiding him from her. "I mean... I wish you could have been the first."

    She opens her eyes again, terror of losing him and determination mingling to drive her beyond reason. "I will show you," she whispers, and moves over him to press herself against him, kissing him with trembling lips, whispering his name in a plea. When he does not react, she feels like sobbing. I have lost him, I have lost the one person in my life who has ever cared for me...

    Wordlessly she pulls back, just inches away. She is not ready for this, but neither is she ready to lose him. Her hands lower to her belt, somehow clumsily pulling it loose and, as she gulps for air and strength, lets the satin material fall from her shoulders. Kylah keeps her eyes open for now, because if she closes them she knows she will be back in that hotel suite, and it will be Jan's hands untying her halter top, Jan's eyes drinking in her bare flesh.

    "Velir, please..." Her robe exposing half of her to him, Kylah takes hold of his hands and lifts them, urging them toward her body. "Please let me show you what you mean to me." She embraces him, kissing him in a fog of longing and dread. Part of her has no idea how she will react if he still does not touch her.

    And part of her, the part that remains trapped in that hotel room, has no idea how she will react if he does.

    * * *

    As Rangin watches her open her robe again and feels her hands pull his across to her chest, he inhales sharply. He can't help but accede to her request. He gently caresses one incredibly soft breast, feeling her react before slipping his hands behind her back and kissing her deeply while he holds her close. His throat has gone dry. He has wanted to be next to her for so long... Astonishingly, it seems she has obviously decided now is a good time.

    He slowly starts to kiss down the side of her neck, enjoying the taste of her smooth skin and breathing in the new, intoxicating scent she's wearing. The kisses became more urgent and harder as he leans her backwards and starts working his way down her chest, his gaze drinking in what there had only been glimpses of before.

    After a few moments and now breathing deeply, he relaxes and looks back up at her, one hand now idly curling itself through her hair and the other stroking down one arm. "Are you sure?"

    * * *

    Kylah is gently pulled down to her bed, and she has never been so elated yet so miserable in her life. She keeps reminding herself: His hands are not Jan's, his kisses are not Jan's. The tongue tasting her skin and teasing her, making her breathing even more shallow, is not Jan's. Nor is his question:

    Are you sure?

    She cannot say no. Not because spores are forcing her to; not even because Velir's own desire is influencing her, although she can sense it, and physically feels it as well. But because she has to prove that what happened with Jan was not important, not nearly as important as what she and Velir have. Act. Act. Play the role. You have played roles all your life, why is this different?

    Kylah shuts her eyes at last and increases her ardor, clutching Velir's soft hair, pulling his face upwards towards her mouth. "Yes," she shudders, but pretends it is yearning for him. "Velir, please. I want you." She says this while her lips are trailing down his temple, and repeats it--"I want you"--when she feels his hand moving from her breast down to caress her soft waist, then her hip, before slowly, inevitably, moving between her legs.

    Her eyes squeeze tighter and, into his ear, she whispers in a near sob: "I... I love you."

    * * *

    Rangin blinks as his mind is torn away by Kylah's words. It feels as if someone has dumped a bucket of cold water all over him. He can only think of one other person who's said that in this position, and he has to check himself to make he hasn't gone back several years, that it is Kylah lying right by him.

    His roaming hand stops and returns to her hip as he looks up and down her body now fully disrobed on the bed. She is beautiful indeed, her curves and smoothness of her skin, lying there with a slight sheen of sweat glistening in the light. But the more he struggles with his thoughts, the more the sense stays with him that something just feels wrong.

    Is this what she really wants? Or is he just being played once again for the fool in following his desires? He promised himself he would never do it again, but here he is, in the same situation. Memories of joy, desire, anguish and pain cross his mind, and Rangin shudders.

    He still doesn't know her, she isn't telling him anything, is she lying again? It is obvious she's slept with Jan, and so quickly after they met... Is Rangin so similar, will he end up in the same situation? No, he's been there before a long time ago and he doesn't want a part of it. Not...not until he knows her better. Knows who this Ensign Kylah is.

    It is what he said only a few days ago, and what has changed since then? Nothing. She hasn't explained, hasn't revealed anything, and now she is trying to trap him. Just like he had been before.

    Rangin pulls back and sits up, removing his hands from Kylah, "I'm sorry, I can't, not now. I...I should go, this is wrong." Before she can react, he moves from her side off the bed and crouches on the floor before picking himself up. "You love me. I so want to believe that, but...do you? So soon? I know you care, but love is more than that. It's also about trust. But you don't trust me, you keep asking me to wait before you'll open up to me about whatever went on. Why, if you truly love me?

    "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have let it get this far. And you were right after all, I should have waited. Waited to know more about you, waited for you to tell me what happened, waited and not rushed in like an idiot thinking of only one thing."

    Shaking his head in self-recrimination, he murmurs "I had better go" as he rises to leave for the door.

    * * *

    Kylah's entire body turns cold, awash with mortification. She pulls the discarded robe haphazardly around her, so stunned and wounded she can only croak Velir's name, first once, then twice, each time more hoarsely. But he is out the door and gone.

    She sits up with difficulty and just stares at the floor. Everything she did, everything she said: wrong. He says she does not trust him. But look what she just did for him, how raw and vulnerable she made herself. She has never before exposed so much of her body to any man--not of her own free will. I have bared myself to him and he thinks it is nothing. A mere game. No, it is Velir Rangin who cannot trust her.

    Maybe he is right to mistrust her in the big picture. But not now. Not about this. She did not lie.

    Strangely, she remains dry-eyed. She just sits, she does not know how long. Finally an incongruous thought occurs to her, and she slowly reaches for her communicator.

    Her fingers type out the message she does not dare attempt to speak aloud: JOHNSON, ANDREW: Please do not bring the food to my quarters. It is for Mr. Rangin. Deliver it to him. Thank you very much. KYLAH

    Then, tossing the communicator back on the dresser, she drags the bedcovers over her and curls into a tight ball of self-loathing. At last she begins to weep silently, and when there are no more tears left, she falls asleep.
    Last edited by choie; 24 Apr 2015 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Credits as you'd imagine. Kylah=me, Velir=CIAS.

  7. #157
    Administrator CatInASuit's avatar
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    The chime at the door is not something that Rangin is expecting, least of all the call of "Dinner's up" said in a jaunty accent.

    Rangin cringes inwardly, it would be Johnson with the meal, that meal, that he and Kylah were meant to share earlier that evening, that Kylah had asked for especially for him. With a heavy heart, he calls out "Open" and watches as the door slides quietly open and the tall figure in whites wanders in with a covered object.

    "Evening Sir, I believe this is for you, courtesy of Ens. Kylah." Johnson says, before pulling the cover off with a flourish obviously learned from many hours practice and placing it in front of him. Rangin can't help but start salivating at the aroma drifting off the plate as memories of home flood back from just seeing the dish in front of him.

    "That must be one hell of a favour Kylah owes you to make this," he can't help but ask while his stomach turns cartwheels in anticipation of the meal in front of him. "I can't accept it though, it just wouldn't be right."

    "Too late," comes the cheery reply from Johnson, "she owes me and in fact I'm on my way over there now to collect."

    "What exactly did she offer in return?" Rangin voice fills with concern about what Kylah may have done.

    "She doesn't know and didn't ask, she just wanted to get you that meal. Damn, she must like you something chronic." Johnson shrugs. "But that's between me and her."

    Rangin looks at the meal torn between his guilt over how he treated Kylah this evening and the heavenly smell that permeated the air.

    "Go on tuck in", Johnson tempts him, "she's going to want to know if you like it or not. Actually, I want to know if you like it or not."

    Rangin picks up the fork and takes a taste. "Oh grief, it's as good as I remember. Rathan Sweet Fritters. I remember you asking about my favourite dish, I didn't realise you could make it." He takes another mouthful savouring it slowly as if trying to make it last forever.

    Rangin puts the fork down and looks back up at Johnson. "Seriously, just what did it cost her? What are you going to ask of her? I don't think she is going to be that receptive tonight."

    Johnson raises an eyebrow. "So that's why I'm delivering here is it?" before sucking his breath through his teeth, "Don't want to know what happened between you, none of my business."

    "Could you, could you put it off a day, wait until morning at least?" Rangin asks more in hope than anticipation.

    "Excuse me, oh alright, alright, it can wait. She probably wouldn't be in the mood for what I want her for then," Johnson says in resignation as he sees the look on Rangin's face. "Enjoy it, anyway." he gestures at the meal before heading out the door.

    Rangin's face darkens as he wonders what exactly Johnson had in mind, was he another one, or was Rangin just clutching at straws?

    He picks up the fork, but it drops from his fingers onto the plate as he thinks about Kylah. She cared, she so desperately cared, and maybe she thought it was love. Rangin could see that, but could she ever love him as he wants to love her.

    He picks up his communicator and taps out a message trying to get his feelings out.

    Kylah, forgive me. You are not the only one who has answers to give and I hope that perhaps some day I may be able to tell you what you need to know. Velir


    He looked at it, he hadn't done anything wrong though, had he? What was he apologising for. He erased it and started again.

    Kylah, I hope you're all right, I didn't want to upset you. I wish things had gone differently but I don't think either of us is ready until we know each other much better. Velir.

    It wasn't much better, but he sends the message off. Wondering when she will receive it, Rangin picks up the fork and slowly begins to eat again. The taste of sorrow in this mouth slowly replaced by a warmer, homely feeling, but the worry still foremost in his mind.
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  8. #158
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    Mahmoud says, "The helmswoman? Sidonian? Great lady. I like her. Did you just meet her? She can come on a little strong sometimes. Very direct."

  9. #159
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    "Uh, yeah, I like her too, she has nice..." Graham pauses and rubs his jaw. "Scales."

    He clears his throat. "Direct, I, ah, can see how she might get that rep."

    He strips his shirt off and rummages around the cabin for his kit to get ready for bed. "It almost feels like its a shame to turn in--it seems like it's been my lucky night." He pauses and gestures toward Mahmoud. "No need to get up--not so lucky I need to ask you to sack out in the Arboretum."

    He shrugs, sighs, and moves toward the bathroom. "Sure felt a hell of a lot closer to crossing that bridge than I expected anytime soon, though."

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    Mahmoud, who has not moved a centimeter, grunts. "Here's hoping. You'd be a lot more tolerable as a roommate if you got laid once in awhile."

  11. #161
    I'm the Cute one! =^.^= anyrose's avatar
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    After about an hour of post-appreciation cuddling, Collins stands up, pulls herself together, and leans over to kiss Cooper goodnight. "The mission starts in the morning, I'm going to get some sleep. Walk me home?" she asks him sweetly.

  12. #162
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham, sonic toothbrush already in his mouth, turns and grunts back something like "hardee har har" to his roommate.

    A few moments later, while Mahmoud is still reading, Graham slips into his own bunk. "Guess I'd better get my beauty sleep, then, to help the odds. If the bedbugs bite, I recommend light stun on wide dispersion. Nightie night, Faisal."

    Graham has dreams about staggering through hot, swirling desert sandstorms to finally find a peaceful, cool, oasis where he dives into the water...only once he is in the middle of the deep, dark pool, shadowy, half-visible creatures are slicing through the water around him. He can't tell whether they are friend or foe...
    Last edited by general_urko; 25 Apr 2015 at 10:14 PM.

  13. #163
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    Cooper kisses Collins, puts his uniform in order and offers her his arm, then escorts her back to her quarters. Kylah is already asleep. In time, Rangin goes to bed, as do T'Var and many others, and the night passes without incident.

    The next day, after breakfast and your respective morning routines, each of you are on the Bridge when the Yorktown arrives in the Anubis system, right on schedule. Kylah is at the Communications station, Collins at Security, Graham at Security II, Rangin at Science - with Science Officer Roble looking over his shoulder occasionally - and Dr. T'Var at Life Sciences. The Captain is in the big chair, Lt. Onn is at the Helm, and Lt. Bennett at Navigation (she gave Graham a warm smile when he came on the Bridge).

    Anubis is a lush, beautiful Class-M world. An older Earth colony, now a full Federation member world with a current population of over twelve million, it is a manufacturing, communications, commerce and banking center for the sector, as well as a major shipping hub. Although technically "Anubis II," the second world out from the star Anubis, it is commonly - if somewhat confusingly - referred to as Anubis itself, as none of the other ten planets in the system are either habitable or even notable.

    Kylah receives a hail as the heavy cruiser drops out of warp: "Starport Control to Yorktown. Welcome to Anubis. Please take orbital station 433A."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 26 Apr 2015 at 07:37 PM.

  14. #164
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    Kylah is tired but does her best to hide it, just as she wishes she could hide from Velir.

    "Thank you, message received, Starport Control," she says, her voice hoarse, and relays the orbital information to the Captain as necessary.

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    Nia is busy at the helm when Graham arrives; in fact, since her attention is, by necessity, often focused on her colleague at Navigation--both Helm and Navigation officers must work together to pilot the ship--Nia notices the brightness of Bennett's smile before she identifies who the other woman is targeting. When it turns out to be Graham, Nia can't help an inward chuckle. So, is this just a friend thing, or is Bennett already sniffing around another newcomer? Young Pourtash, Nia's fellow helm officer, was similarly the object of Bennett's flirtatious attention about five minutes after he stepped on board the shuttle that would take him to the Yorktown.

    Nia's not really judging her, and she can't argue with her taste. But she does consider it bad form considering Bennett is supposedly involved with someone else. Nia may play the field but she doesn't try to tag out two men at once.

    She herself gives Graham a sidelong glance and a teasing smile of recognition before returning to her work.

    Now, when she hears Kylah's report, she shifts her hands to hover above the necessary areas on the helm panel in front of her. She's waiting for the Captain's order for Bennett to set the course and for Nia to take the ship in.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 26 Apr 2015 at 08:40 PM.

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    Graham welcomes assignment to the bridge: although the fact is that either the need to provide local security--like repelling boarders--or engage in ship-to-ship combat are both extremely rare, every time he prepares as if it were a near certainty.

    If he has a chance on the lift in, he gives Collins a tap on the shoulder and a thumbs-up.

    Once on the bridge, he immediately keys in on people, stations, and distances: who's where, entrances, exits, cover, how many steps to get from here to there.

    Then Bennett gives him a big smile, which he starts to return with a slight smile and nod, when he realizes Onn is sitting right next to her. He manages to pull off the slight smile and nod to each in turn, but he can feel blood rushing from his face and a sense of alarm--stark terror, actually.

    The only two women on the ship I've some much as come within an iota of flirting with and they work right next to each other...

    He realizes his reaction isn't completely rational: it's not like these are mistresses from different ports who just showed up on my doorstep at the same time. Nonetheless he starts to blush and quickly occupies himself by running through different damage control scenarios in his head.

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    As Graham taps her shoulder, Collins playfully moves her elbow back towards his gut. She notices Booker is looking towards the helm and navigation stations. She muses to herself that Graham is going to have has handful if he tries to pursue both women at once.
    Last edited by anyrose; 26 Apr 2015 at 09:08 PM.

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    "Acknowledged, Starport Control," Capt. Singh says. "Stand by. Mr. Onn, if you please...?"

    "Aye, Captain." She glances at the coordinates, shared with Bennett, and snaps the switches on her board. The Yorktown shifts just perceptibly under your feet. After a few seconds she says, "Moving into position now, and... done. Orbit established, ma'am. Orbital station 433A."

    Singh nods. "Thrusters at station-keeping."

    "Thrusters at station-keeping, aye."

    "Very well. Thank you, Mr. Onn."

    Standard orbital space above Anubis is crowded; Rangin's proximity sensors show almost a hundred ships of all classes and sizes. You can easily see two dozen on the Bridge's main viewscreen, and know there are many more beyond your field of vision, lost to the eye among the backdrop of stars. Workbees, couriers, lighters, orbital barges and Starport Control skiffs weave past and among the larger ships. An Altairian liner is just leaving, even as a huge Dytallix ore carrier eases into an orbital slot not far away from the Yorktown.

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    Collins scans and makes record of the ships nearest to the Yorktown, just in case security becomes an issue while they are docked.
    Last edited by anyrose; 26 Apr 2015 at 10:46 PM.

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    Kylah stares at the crowded viewscreen. All those unknown people on all those unknown vessels. No one on this ship knows who they are or where they are going. I wish I were one of them. The thought makes her sigh. What if she could be one of them? What if she created some new name, some false background, and started a new life?

    I could do it. A spark of yearning reaches through the cold numbness that has shrouded her senses since last night. I could go and no one here would miss me.

    She does not look at Velir but remembers discovering his message this morning. Kind, gentlemanly, but as cold as a stranger. Her actions have repulsed him, the very opposite of her intent. She risked everything and ruined everything. Would he miss all the pain and distress she seems to have caused him?

    Kylah cannot fathom how she dared to imagine herself capable of making him happy. Someone good, honest, stable, dependable, open--that is the sort of woman Velir Rangin wants and deserves. Not someone as damaged and unworldly and toxically flawed as she. No, he would forget her and find someone far better for him. And he would be more likely to do so if she were not on board the Yorktown. She would be making things easier for him; he would not be bound by some gentlemanly sense of honor to linger on and attempt to forge a relationship with such poor material.

    Now her gaze examines each of the dozens of ships so intensely that she can almost pick up emotions from them, like a hint of a signal among the chaos of static. If the crew is given shore leave, Kylah could beam down to this planet, find someone greedy enough to exchange her credits for untraceable gold-pressed latinum--at some exorbitant rate, of course--and then she could pay off some anonymous captain of an obscure little cruiser, a yacht, a shipping barge, even a garbage scow. And thus she would escape.

    It would mean abandoning her commission from Starfleet, but what does that matter? They are not at war, they would hardly put a price on her head for desertion. She would probably be dismissed as a dilettante, a flighty royal who never really made a suitable officer anyway.

    Velir would be concerned, because he is gallant and might feel responsible--but that would not last forever. Eventually he would probably decide she was just a coward, and give her up as a bad experience he was fortunate enough to have escaped. Graham would probably think she was abducted by some evildoers and want to give chase. Yet such hysteria would not be enough to convince the Yorktown to abandon their mission. T'Var would find her behavior illogical and would likely argue against following her. Collins? She could argue either way. Probably her roommate would find herself agreeing with those who found her a dilettante.

    No, Starfleet would not waste the time or effort to hunt Kylah down.

    But Aldaan would.

    Her thoughts darken and she swivels away slightly, looking at the Communications panel without seeing it. He controls my finances, he would know I paid someone. But... even so. If I were careful enough how would he find me? Even he would give up, eventually. What would it be like to be anonymous? No one knowing her name, her family, her freakish power? Such an uncertain future is frightening to contemplate--frightening but also intoxicating.

    Slowly Kylah returns her hungry gaze to the viewscreen. The fantasy is becoming so powerful that she can almost taste it. Why can I not just... disappear?
    Last edited by choie; 27 Apr 2015 at 12:23 AM.

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    Just round from the communication station, Rangin is relieved that Lt. Cmdr. Roble is grilling him on the finer points of the Bridge station, as it means he doesn't have to look at Kylah. The consistent questioning keeping him occupied as his fingers move from panel to panel and providing the answers that the senior officer is looking for.

    When Kylah speaks, if only briefly, Rangin suppresses a shudder, as his guilt and feelings refuse to fade away. He doesn't know if she has received his message or not, but she hasn't made any contact. He can still picture her from last night and questions himself as to why he didn't continue, but all the unanswered problems, rise in the back of his head. Rangin hopes that Lt. Cmdr Roble doesn't notice the slight slip, but given Roble's perceptiveness, he might as well be wishing on star.

    Of course, Rangin feels just as culpable given that there are plenty of events in his past, few of them known to only a select group. Could he ever feel that he could trust someone else with them? Someone who hadn't been there. Trust her, he isn't even sure he can trust himself.

    As they achieve stationary orbit, Lt Cmd. Roble gives a few more orders and Rangin goes back to analysing all the ships, their types and paths through the coldness of space. At this moment, Rangin wishes he could join them.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    Collins completes a tactical scan. She sees no indication of any threat to the Yorktown.

    Rangin's analysis will take longer, but he is growing more confident in his use of the ship's sensors and Roble is there to help, if necessary.

    Kylah's Communications board lights up with greetings and welcomes from many of the other ships. She recognizes a few ship's masters by name from her previous review of signals traffic in the sector: Capt. Helena Morgan of the Farseeker, a doughty old scoutship from Drello III, discoverer of a hundred new worlds; Capt. Perry Garnett of the Pioneer, a well-known science vessel out of Ardule; and Capt. Essil Grotel'ig of the Bizer's Champion, a famous racing yacht from New Kingston, her sleek, silvery-blue hull agleam in the light of Anubis. She does not know any of the others.

    Cmdr. Vargas enters the Bridge, goes down the low stairs and stands next to the Captain, who smiles at him.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Apr 2015 at 02:25 PM.

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    Graham notices approvingly that Collins has proactively run tactical scans.

    Then finds himself distracted by the play of Bennett's and Onn's fingers over their shared console.

    With any good Helm and Nav team there are patterns where certain actions by one trigger related actions by the other. Graham doesn't know either function well enough to predict them, but he can certainly detect some logic to one moving, then the other...elegant, almost mesmerizing...

    Jesus christ Booker, get a grip.

    He pulls his gaze back to focus for a moment on the back of Vargas' head.

    That'll pull me back to reality...

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    The back of Vargas's head is much less interesting, but does at least serve the desired purpose of taking Graham's attention away - if only briefly - from Onn and Bennett.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Apr 2015 at 01:57 PM.

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    Kylah relays the hails of the various ships to the Captain, identifying them in a soft, contemplative voice. At least I know which ships to avoid if I were to... hypothetically... escape, she thinks. Given the contact they are seeking with the Yorktown, it is unlikely they would willingly hide her presence from a ship they clearly admire.

    "They are attempting to communicate their respect and friendly intentions with us," Kylah adds, still talking quietly but with added meaning for the man seated at Science. "Would you like to react in kind, Captain? It seems rude to ignore such overtures."
    Last edited by choie; 27 Apr 2015 at 05:06 PM.

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    Hearing Kylah's voice and the subtle insinuation behind them leaves Rangin wondering how he is going to apologise, let alone when
    Rangin makes a few last sweeps across the panel leaving the sensors to continue their calculations and turns in his chair to look at the viewscreen and then slightly further on so he can see Kylah at the communications area.

    If the bridge wasn't so full of people, Rangin would quite happily go up right now, but that is just not possible. If Kylah does look across to him, Rangin will nod briefly in her direction.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    T'Var checks her readouts at Life Sciences. It will be good for the crew to begin a new mission. It will be good for her as well.

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    Singh grins as she learns who is hailing the Yorktown. She hits the comm switch on her chair arm. "Morgan, you old pirate! How are you? And did you know Garnett is here, too? Wait a second, and let's tie him in." Kylah does so. The three are obviously old friends and talk briefly before Singh ends the transmission, still smiling. She says, "Please pass along my compliments to the other ships, Mr. Kylah. Standard greetings."

    All is well on the Life Sciences instruments, T'Var sees.

    Kylah sees another message come in for the Captain and Chief Engineer, from a Dr. Brold in the city of Thoth, on the surface: Unfortunate delays here. Package will be ready in five hours. Apologies and regrets. BROLD.

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    After fulfilling Singh's orders about the standard greetings, Kylah notes the new transmission and frowns, mildly curious, before relaying Brold's message aloud.

    Only then do her tired but wistful eyes shift from the large viewscreen to see Velir. Does he know what this package might be? With the engineer having been addressed in the message, Kylah assumes it is some technology or mechanical object.

    Just looking at him is embarrassing and her gaze can barely brush his face him before hurriedly returning to the ships outside in the expanse of space near Anubis.

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    "Send an acknowledgement to Dr. Brold, please, Ensign," the Captain says. "Then get me Captains Morgan and Garnett again, and invite them over for a visit in, say, half an hour. I'll meet them in Transporter Room 1." She turns to Vargas. "Looks like we have time for a brief shore leave on Anubis after all, Mr. Vargas. Four hours for all off-duty personnel, effective immediately." She looks over at Graham and adds, "And Mr. Graham's landing party from OC3. I'd say they've earned it."

    Vargas doesn't look thrilled but says, "Yes, Captain." He nods to Collins and Graham to go; Rangin, Kylah and Dr. T'Var know they are included too, of course.

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    Kylah turns around and obeys Singh's orders. She does not rush through the tasks, wondering if she delays long enough she will either get the courage to see Velir--or he will have left and the courage will not be needed.

    Shore leave after all, she thinks in between relaying the messages. Her heart pounds hard upon recognizing that her earlier escape fantasies have become possible after all. No, it is madness, I cannot really contemplate this...

    But contemplating this is what she is doing, madness or not. Guilt and confusion flooding through her, Kylah completes her various communications, gets up from her chair, and faces Singh. "Thank you, Captain," she murmurs hesitantly. "For allowing us the shore leave."
    Last edited by choie; 28 Apr 2015 at 10:16 PM.

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    Graham returns Vargas' nod. He follows on Kylah's thanks to the captain.

    "Ye, thank you, Captain. Ah...for the record--with all due respect--as I see for it, it was as much Lt. Collins' and the whole team's landing party as mine, ma'am."

    He ends with a respectful nod and a step backwards toward the turbolift.

    In fact he's not sure he really wants shore leave: maybe I can buy something for Nia, he thinks--self-deprecatingly, remembering his angst over the perfume for Bennett.. Although she did seem to like it. What would someone from a desert planet like? Does a shop on Anubis stock snowglobes?

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    Nia smiles wryly to herself at the news that, since she's on duty, she won't be among the group enjoying shore leave. When the captain emphasizes Graham's team--and oh, how Nia can't help enjoying Vargas's displeasure about that!--the smile turns to one of approval.

    Good. Even if they were on a resort, they had some bad times down there. She remembers hearing that Graham and that young Elasian girl were stunned to oblivion and back. And the cute, quiet one, Rangin? He was with the same pair when that psycho psi-user paralyzed them. Nia nods to herself. Yeah, they all deserve at least a few hours of R&R, with the emphasis on the latter.

    Her gaze dances over to Graham briefly to send him a look tacitly telling him to have a blast down there. Then she leans slightly nearer to the woman at her side. "Well, Bennett," she murmurs with mock disappointment. "Guess we stay behind like--what's that fairy tale story from Earth? Cinderella?--while the others go to the ball. Wouldn't mind joining them, but they've earned it."

    Then she overhears Graham's words to Singh and her lips tilt into another smile. A solid leader and gives credit to others. Nice. Not your typical Security lifer. She watches him leave through the turbolift--not a bad view either--and looks back down at her panel, making sure the orbit's stable, not that she has any doubt.

    "That Booker Graham seems gracious," she adds noncommittally under her breath. "Off to a good start, don't you think?" She's more curious about Bennett's reaction than anything.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 Apr 2015 at 12:02 AM.

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    In the Turbolift, Collins turns to Graham, smiles broadly and holds her hand up for a high five (or whatever the 23rd Century equivalent is).

    She tells the Turbolift her deck number. When she gets to her quarters, she messages Cooper to find out when he gets off duty.
    Last edited by anyrose; 29 Apr 2015 at 01:58 AM.

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    Before heading to the surface for shore leave, Dr. T'Var will check the computer files for information as to what a Vulcan might enjoy while visiting Anubis.

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    Other officers soon arrive to take your Bridge posts, and you leave via the turbolift.

    The Captain smiles at Kylah and Graham. "Certainly. Have a good time."

    Lt. Bennett leans over a little towards Onn and says, too quietly for Singh to hear, "Yes, I like Booker. He does seem to be doing well in Security, although I understand the OC3 mission was rather rocky. Just between you and me, he came on a bit too strong when we first met, but nothing I couldn't handle."

    Collins gets an immediate response: I'm off-duty now; only doing some odds and ends in my quarters. Just got the word about shore leave. Are you headed dirtside? COOPER.

    Anubis is a large, populous, thriving world, and offers something for probably every taste. What does T'Var have in mind?

    The corridors become a little more congested as your crewmates begin making their way to the transporter rooms to beam down.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 29 Apr 2015 at 09:57 AM.

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    It seems that perhaps Rangin was mistaken, as no sooner did Kylah look at him, she then looked away, a slight red flush on her cheeks. Maybe she wasn't interested in making contact after all. Nevertheless, it was up to him to at least try.

    "Thank you, Captain." he says after shore leave is mentioned before turning back to the panel and checking the last of the calculations are completed. He stands up and thanks Lt. Cmdr Roble for the opportunity at the science position. He then waits for Kylah to finish and joins her in the turbolift, "Would you be interested in taking a look around Anubis?" he asks politely
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    Graham returns Collins' gesture, forcing a smile--it occurs to him being out in the wild might tempt Collins to fall off the wagon, but he's encouraged she seems to be in good spirits.

    Despite Nia's look of what he takes as encouragement to enjoy shore leave, he'd almost rather prefer a work-a-day watch. But turning down the Captain's offer would be stupid, he thinks. Nia'd probably be interesting on shore leave, he muses. A lot more likely to somehow be at the epicenter of rumble with Klingons in a dive bar than Bennett.


    He thinks about trying to say something nice to Rangin--remembering Kylah's comment from the previous night--but I don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to see he wants to talk to her. It'll wait...

    He heads to the transporter room.*

    *Stopping by his quarters to change if that's appropriate-he'll wear whatever's common pratice.

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    Collins replies immediately to Cooper "Hell, yeah! Transporter Room 3 in 5 minutes? She hurriedly changes into comfortable civvies and a pair of boots good for hiking and climbing, then runs to meet Cooper.

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    Graham is fine as he is, but it's his decision. Starfleet personnel customarily remain in uniform while on shore leave. See ST:TOS "Shore Leave," "The Trouble with Tribbles" and "Wolf in the Fold," for instance.

    Cooper meets up with Collins and sees she's changed. He says, "So... feeling outdoorsy, are we?" He excuses himself, returns to his quarters to change as well, and then returns to Transporter Room 3. The transporter chief asks where, in particular, they'd like to go. There are several nature preserves, and also still huge areas of wilderness well beyond the settled areas.

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    "Let's start with one of the nature preserves and take it from there," Collins looks at Cooper, "Okay?"

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    Kylah is incredibly awkward in the turbolift alone with Velir. She cannot flee her mortification over what a spectacle she made of herself last night; this man saw her naked, and rejected her, rightly so. He obviously wants to go back to being friends, comrades, as they were on Starbase 27. Kylah is unconvinced that she can go back--not after so pathetically exposing both her flesh and her desperation.

    Since she is unwilling to meet his gaze, she just looks at the door in front of them. "I... I suppose so," she murmurs after his invitation. "If you really... if you would like." She takes a deep breath. "I need to go to my quarters for a moment first. There are some things I would like to bring along. For errands." she adds even more quietly.

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    At Bennett's remark--"too strong, but nothing I can't handle"--Nia lifts an eyebrow. The Graham she met didn't seem particularly pushy. Self-confident, perhaps, but that was a pure mocking pose.

    Maybe he just behaved differently with Nia due to lack of interest. Scales aren't everyone's cup of tea, and besides, as a human he's probably more attracted to fellow humans--although Nia's never lacked for Terran partners.

    Well, likely he was bowled over by Bennett's physical charms and couldn't help flinging himself to lie prostrate at her feet. Or that's what Bennett wants her to think. Amused by both prospects, Nia just smiles and comments solely on the reference to OC3. "Yes, I heard things were difficult down there. That's what impresses me. It's easy to do a good job when everything goes smoothly--it's how you operate under fire that's the true test of a man. Or woman."

    Nia continues to monitor the ship's course, but since it takes very little of her brain, she's able to ponder what her friends who are lucky enough to be off-duty might get up to on Anubis.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 Apr 2015 at 02:47 PM.

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    Crewman Felice Dobson enters the Bridge and sits at the Security station.

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    Graham's not feeling especially social or enthusiastic about shore leave, but has adopted finding a snow globe as his mission.

    He's comforted by his uniform: maybe there will be a lost kid in a shopping center I can help to keep me occupied... He shakes his head slightly. Probably the lamest response to shore leave ever. Given Nia's apparently positive opinion of how I led the away mission, if I do find such a thing, that'll make a great story: What did you do planetside? I, uh, hunted down a silly toy.

    Well at least I'm spared the embarrassment of the highly unlikely event that both Bennett and Nia would be off duty and want to waste their shore leave with me...


    Somewhat lost in his thoughts, he attempts not to bump into anyone while heading to a transporter room, where he'll wait his turn to beam down.

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    After consulting an Anubis tourism guide on the Library Computer, Collins and Cooper are beamed down to the Horus Nature Preserve. It is heavily forested, and a deep, cold river runs lazily through it. There are extensive hiking trails, and hills and low mountains to climb. It is early afternoon, local time. The sun is shining brightly and they are soon working up a sweat.

    Lt. Onn has an uneventful watch on the Bridge, as does Dobson. The Yorktown remains in orbit; nearby ships and small craft come and go. The Captain and First Officer head belowdecks a few minutes after Graham and the others depart. "You have the conn, Mr. Bennett," the Captain says as she leaves. The navigator acknowledges the order and settles into the big chair with pleasure. Ens. Horst Leventhal takes over at Navigation; the young German gives Onn a friendly nod as he sits down.

    Graham also checks the tourism guide. He does not have a long wait before beaming down, and decides to go to a well-reviewed shopping and dining area in the city of Thoth. There are many different stores and restaurants, and the streets are crowded with people. The city compares favorably with any he's seen on Earth or the other Federation coreworlds. He spots Engineering Ensigns Emebet Woizera and Meredith Davis sitting in a corner cafe; they wave.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 29 Apr 2015 at 11:39 PM.

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    At the summit of the mountain they have been hiking, Collins finds a clearing and sits down facing the expansive vista below. She leans back on her elbows and stretches out her legs, then nods to Cooper to join her.

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    Rangin tries hard to swallow but his mouth has gone dry. "Yes, I really would like that very much indeed, if, that is you would not mind as well." he croaks out, somehow feeling like he is 12 years old again asking out one of the local girls.

    "Can I wait for you in Transporter Room 2?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  49. #199
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham returns the wave and walks over to Woizera and Davis. He nods. "Afternoon--don't let me intrude, just stopping by to say hi. How are things in Engineering?"

  50. #200
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Kylah nods. "Yes, I will meet you there," she says quietly. When the turbolift reaches Deck 7, she gives Velir one quick look that barely reaches his chest and chin before hastening down the corridor to her cabin.

    Her throat is tight with the urge to cry but she does not give in to it, not even when she enters the room and finds herself alone and there would be no one to witness a breakdown. All her emotions seem to be caged in a glass jar. She knows they are there--sorrow, shame, anger, fear--but she will not let them out.

    It does not take her long to decide what to take. Two of her plainest civilian dresses, both of which are short and made of thin enough material that even after she rolls them up and stuffs them into a canvas overnight bag, there is plenty of room. One pair of plain black sandals. The small red jewelry box given to her by her mother. And finally the zither, wrapped in its usual velvet cover. She packs it most carefully of all.

    When she is done, the bag is still very easy to carry over her shoulder. The zither is the only thing of any substantial size, after all. Kylah looks at her closet again, contemplating whether to change out of her uniform, but then decides against it. Too suspicious to change for no reason. If she really ends up brave enough to go through with this, she can get rid of it later.

    She glances around the room one last time, wondering if it will be the last time, and finally hurries out.

    Kylah reaches the transporter room, conscious of her bag but having already decided how to explain its presence. Fortunately, the one prospect she forgot to think about--whether Lt. Ferguson will be here--is not an issue. The only person who matters is Velir, waiting for her. She cannot help the flush when she sees him.

    "I am ready," she says somewhat unnecessarily. "I do not care where we go, but I do wish to find a place that might be able to repair my zither, if there is one." She automatically adjusts her bag's strap more securely over her shoulder. "I broke it and should have fixed this a long time ago," she adds, almost choking on the words. A wave of sadness overtakes her and in order to keep her expression from Velir, she busies herself by patting the bag as if to ensure that the instrument is safe.

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