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

  1. #2551
    Global Moderator choie's avatar
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    Almost tripping at the sound of her name, in his voice, Kylah girds herself before turning to face Darren Zweller. But seeing him so close, so insinuatingly smug, eradicates her composure and turns her into a sort of frightened, spellbound statue.

    She does not even understand why she is so afraid; he can do nothing to her, he holds no power over her. And yet she is in a frozen trance while staring up at this man she has not seen for two years.

    ...Except she has seen him, in a way. He has been lurking in her thoughts for two days. Unexpressed, unexplained, and even unaccepted by her consciousness.

    "I hoped I had imagined you," she whispers, staring ahead. Her words are as hushed as they were with Collins. "I do not understand. How... how are you here? How long have you been on the ship? You could not have been here before I joined, I would have sen--" She cuts herself off. She cannot explain that she would have felt his hostility if he had been anywhere near her.

    Kylah tries to catch her breath before continuing. "And what do you mean, 'seeing so much of me'? We have not met until..." Belatedly she suspects him of a double entendre, and hurries to hug herself to hide her cleavage and neck. Her fingers hold onto her shoulders as if her arms are a shield.

    A swell of deja vu tangles her thoughts. The conversation seems familiar. Suddenly she is overcome by a moment of vertigo. In her mind's eye she pictures herself falling into his arms as he holds her, clutches her to him, then lifts her up...

    She struggles to get control. A trembling hand reaches up to her forehead, massaging it. That never happened! I threw my knife, he ran from my dorm room. What is happening? Zweller is still grinning down at her, and she wants to slap him. "Stop smirking at me and tell me what you are doing here!" Her flashing eyes shift to the corner where she saw him earlier. "And how do you know Lt. Ferguson?"

  2. #2552
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    "Better to vent than to hold it inside," Graham says to Collins after he releases him. He gives her shoulder a quick squeeze with one hand and then shrugs. "Well, for my part I can't complain...sure could've been a lot worse..."

    Graham's relieved that Collins seems to be holding up as well--or better--than he might have expected. But his attention is divided. He glances from Collins to Kylah's retreating form...which only gets as far as the Ferguson guy with whom she had some kind of dust-up during one of his patrols, and some other guy he doesn't recognize.

    His ability to focus on Collins steadily degrades as he glances in Kylah's direction.

    "So, what about..." he attempts to make small talk with Collins, then interrupts himself. "Aw fuck it, who am I kidding?" he leans in closer to Collins, lowers his voice, and gestures toward the trio. "Do you know what the deal is with K-- Ens. Kylah and those guys? She does not look happy over there..."

    He stops, and then adds before Collins has a chance to reply. "Ah, look," he says, lowering his voice further. "I'm going to hobble over there. Do you--" he clears is throat. "Uh, if I wind up putting another asshole in a headlock Vargas'll probably do worse than that Klingon...do you want to come along and keep me from doing anything that gets me court-martialed?"

  3. #2553
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    Collins snickers a little and says "On your six." She follows Graham over to Kylah and the person she's talking to, or rather shrinking from.

  4. #2554
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    Having carefully stowed his nhorel and considering his duty done to Fujishiro, Rangin heads to the reception, no doubt to swap memories of the dearly departed. He can hear the hubbub from down the hall, so many people together all talking make a certain amount of noise, even when being quiet and respectful and in some ways, he's glad about it.

    On stepping through the door, he is surprised to see almost in front of him, Ens. Kylah and Ens. Zweller talking away. "Oh hello Kylah, Darren," he says acknowledging both with a nod, "how's the reception going?" It's only after the words have escaped his lips that he realises that Zweller is looking smugger than usual while Kylah is looking tense and nervous. "Ah, did I interrupt something?"
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  5. #2555
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    "Who's smirking?" Zweller asks, arching his eyebrows innocently. "But yeah, Ferguson and I go 'way back. A great guy - you know him, too, I guess. He's told me all about you. I've been on the Yorktown working on a sensor prototype, and he's been very helpful." He sips from his coffee. "Well, don't let me keep you. 'Bye."

    He nods to Rangin and says, "Hey, Velir. Excuse me, please," then moves back through the crowd towards Ferguson and the two women. Ferguson makes eye contact with Kylah and raises his glass in mock salute.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 06 Apr 2016 at 03:24 PM. Reason: Added interaction with Rangin

  6. #2556
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    Ajay looks at Nia and smiles, the friendly concern always comforting, "Don't worry about me Nia, I'm doing fine. Only knew her for a few weeks, but got on pretty well with her. She was adventurous in the area of vegetarian food and she was always interested in trying something new, bit like you with new partners. And she did teach me to make a proper cup of tea following all the formalities, instead of that interesting English tea she was never too fond of."

    He drops his voice slightly, "Scuttlebut says, a few people are a little ashamed of what happened to her, hence the little extra pomp and circumstance, if you get my drift. Anyway, here's to her memory. Did you know her much at all, I'm guessing your paths didn't cross that much."

  7. #2557
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    Nia nearly asks about A.J.'s reference to "ashamed," but decides against it. This isn't the time or place.

    "Unfortunately I didn't know her. I've been trying to remember times I might've served with her on the Bridge, but..." She shrugs her shoulders resignedly. "Watches on the Bridge tend to blur into one another, y'know? At least when we're just traveling in between destinations. And there's not much interaction."

    She sighs and gives another shrug. "I mean, when I'm in the big chair I try to keep chatter up. It's good for morale and helps us bond as a unit... not to mention keeping everyone alert instead of zoning out, which is far too easy to do across light years.

    "But I'm an anomaly in that regard. So unless she was on the Bridge while I was in command, I wouldn't have really had much interaction. Maybe if she'd been an engineer..." Nia points her chin toward Delaney across the room. "But I'm rarely dealing directly with Science folks except on some missions."

    Nia twists her mouth into a flat line of distaste and reaches over to grab a veggie crudité. "Anyway, enough about me. Tell me, how is Dr. T'Var handling all this? They were on the same mission, and I know T'Var was handling her case. Have you and she talked about that? And also... how are you guys?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 06 Apr 2016 at 12:42 PM.

  8. #2558
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    Kylah just stands there stupefied, lips parted in disbelief, when Velir walks up and casually greets Mr. Zweller by his first name. And when Zweller reveals that he has known Mark Ferguson for a long time... that they have spoken "all about" her...

    Even after Zweller leaves, the walls seem to be closing in, choking off her air.

    "That is why," she whispers to herself as comprehension dawns, far too slowly. Ferguson calling her "Princess" when she was about to transport to the Sakathian lab. That hostile look he gave her. Then, in the rec room, his vicious overreaction and scurrilous lies he spat about her being a sexual predator...

    What stories has Zweller told regarding what happened between them back at the Academy? Has he filled Ferguson's head with the belief that she, somehow, led Zweller on and then nearly stabbed him?

    She finally acknowledges Velir's presence by looking dazedly over to him. "Y-you... know him?" The broken words sound like a rusty hinge, barely audible, and she starts again. "You know Mr. Zweller? How?"
    Last edited by choie; 06 Apr 2016 at 01:03 PM.

  9. #2559
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    Hobbled by his leg, Graham's too slow to reach Kylah before those two guys have left and Rangin of all people has joined her.

    Which might be just as well, because he likes the body language of the two guys even less than Kylah's. Like a pack. Like predators drawn to someone--or something--they see as weak.

    By the time he's almost reached her he's tense to the point of feeling...well, lethal.

    He grimaces slightly. For god's sake, don't read too much into it, Booker. And remember she's not your daughter. And even if she were that doesn't mean you can go medieval on people because you don't like the way they look at her...

    Talking himself down rationally is not entirely successful, but it helps. He spares Collins a quick glance over his shoulder as he approaches Kylah and Rangin. He looks in the direction of the two men who just left and then turns toward Kylah.

    "Is everything all right?" he asks quietly.

    For once Rangin isn't his primary concern.

  10. #2560
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    Collins places herself between Graham and Rangin, just in case, but focuses on Kylah.

  11. #2561
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    "Who Darren Zweller? We're working on the new prototype sensor together. I've known him for years though, we graduated same year from the Academy. He's a good man really, saved my hide once and I still owe him for it. Then again, he always did like to flirt. He wasn't getting overly familiar with you?" Rangin is still slightly nonplussed by what is going on. It's not something he is expecting from either Ensign.

    Then Ensign Graham limps up and cuts in, as if he has some given right to interfere.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  12. #2562
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    Ajay can feel the hairs prickling on the back of his neck as he looks round and then spies the group by the door.

    "Oh crap, I hope you can keep a rein on 'im," he mutters under his breath while guiding Nia's attention to the scene.

  13. #2563
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    Lt. Thalen and Chief Engineer Cheverez walk in, and people make way for them to pass through the crowd to the food and drink tables.

    Kylah's communicator subtly shakes, and she sees a text from Zweller: Sorry to have surprised you. I thought you'd have expected me, considering the message I sent you....
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 06 Apr 2016 at 03:34 PM.

  14. #2564
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    It takes significant effort for Graham not to laugh out loud, never mind remain impassive, as Rangin spontaneously chimes in about how a guy Graham marked from across the room as an asshole was a great guy who'd saved his hide.

    Birds of a fucking feather...

    Graham starts slightly at Nia's intervention. "I..."

    He glances from Nia back to Kylah. "I knew Ens. Kylah hasn't been feeling well. It seemed like she was looking...uh, not well again." Sign me up for the diplomatic corps. "Jeri- ah, Lt. Collins thought maybe she might want some company walking back to her quarters...or Sickbay."

    He glances at Collins, hoping for a lifeline.
    Last edited by general_urko; 06 Apr 2016 at 03:47 PM. Reason: Ninja'd!

  15. #2565
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    Nia turns and cannot help lifting her eyes to the ceiling in a prayer to no one in particular. "Unbelievable," she murmurs. "With Booker, I might need reins, spurs and a whip."

    Before her 'friend plus' makes the comment that she knows she just invited, she lifts a mock warning finger and makes her way through the crowd.

    Noticing Singh and Vargas, she hopes that their presence will force the happy little quartet at the door to break up. But no, when she finally reaches the entrance, they're still here.

    Nia plants her hands on her hips and addresses everyone. "Really, people? At a funeral?" She lowers her voice to the security officers. "For heaven's sake, stand down, you two. You're about as subtle as a pair of Rigellian oxen."

  16. #2566
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    There is no communicator. There is no Lt. Collins, or Mr. Graham, or Captain or First Officer or Lt. Onn or any milling crowd surrounding them.

    To Kylah, there is only Velir Rangin. His mask is gone now, but he is still hidden from her. These past few weeks, while they grew closer, she has been assiduous in her vow not to invade his privacy, not to reach out to his mind and heart to find out what lay within. Now she cannot do so.

    He has known Zweller for years. Zweller helped him, somehow.

    He owes Zweller.


    Zweller said he has known Ferguson for years. Just like Velir. Is there a connection? How can there not be?

    Suddenly she sees it. Ferguson's role was obviously to be the blatant enemy. To harass her, to make her frightened and isolated. To make her need a friend.

    Someone like Velir.

    And did he not oblige? She fell for him, hard, because of how lonely she was, and because he seemed kind, gentle, everything the men who have hurt her were not. By the end of OC3 she was desperate for such kindness. Then, after they grew close, he began to chip away at her self-esteem. Turning cold. Accusing her of the worst motivations--really, not much different from Ferguson after all.

    It was insidious. Invasive. Ingenious.

    She moves her head, tiny little shakes of disbelief. Finally she answers his question, as if none of the others have spoken.

    "No," she says softly, though her body remains as rigid as a block of ice. "He was not overly familiar." A humorless laugh--really, a mere exhale--escapes her, but that is all the emotion she displays--her face is blank. She continues in a small whisper. "I always believed you a loyal friend. Even when you hurt me, I defended you. I see I was right after all. I just... did not realize to whom your loyalty belonged. Now I know. Now I understand."

    Gradually she becomes aware of the four others nearby. "Lt. Onn is right. This is a funeral." She looks down, somewhere in the vicinity of Velir's boots. "We can only mourn one ending at a time."

    Sorrow and fear and anger are battling for control, and all it does is make her dizzy. She backs away and lifts a trembling hand--as if that would be enough to stop Booker Graham. "I am sorry. I will go. Please, do not... please leave me alone." Sweeping a final pleading look toward Mr. Graham and Lt. Collins, Kylah turns and walks, then runs, from the reception.
    Last edited by choie; 06 Apr 2016 at 04:30 PM.

  17. #2567
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    There's only a slight twitch of Graham's right hand as all the pieces click together: otherwise he forces himself stock still.

    "Now I understand too," he says matter-of-factly, eyes squarely on Rangin.

    The contempt in his eyes is replaced by an almost pleading look at his addresses Collins. "Do you think you could make sure she gets...someplace...OK? As OK as can be."

  18. #2568
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    Collins is already about to follow Kylah when Graham suggests it. "I'll make sure she's okay. Don't worry." Before she goes, she turns to Lt. Onn, "Not everything Security does is about confrontation, you know. Sometimes, we're just about maintaining order." Collins leaves and hurries after Kylah.

  19. #2569
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    "...'She said, confrontationally.'" Nia's words are bone dry as she tilts her head at Collins's figure without bothering to look in her direction. "That one's lucky my people evolved away from having venom sacks."

    Her gaze switches from Booker to Rangin and back again. "Now that the testosterone level has lowered considerably, let's move on. Clearly Ensign Kylah's yet again at the center of some melodrama, but she's left the stage, thankfully without much of a display. So can you please take your own cues and exeunt omnes?"

    She drops her volume and arch tone. "Seriously, guys. This isn't the time and it's most definitely not the place. Do I need to escort one of you out of here?"

    Her last question is aimed at Booker. Nia wouldn't mind escorting him to his bed, or preferably hers since Mahmoud is certain not to interrupt them there. But if Booker wants to have some words with Rangin--or vice versa--she's not going to play nanny. As long as words are all it is.

  20. #2570
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham is grateful beyond words to Collins, and reminds himself to tell her that.

    Then his gaze shifts to Nia rather than Rangin, which is just as well because at this point he's sad, desperately sad...

    I've seen this before, less in Starfleet than in the Academy, bullies and predators who take advantage of kids from different cultures, different worlds the first time they're away from home...Only then I had a position, some authority to do something...And now? Whatever I had I've blown. And Nia doesn't...doesn't seem to understand...

    "I think Kylah said all that needs to be said," he answers very softly. It tears at him to say it, for more reasons than he can figure out at the moment. "Maybe I could use a hand." He holds out an arm for Nia to take, as if to assist him given his bad leg.
    Last edited by general_urko; 06 Apr 2016 at 11:54 PM. Reason: typo

  21. #2571
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    Rangin stands stock still wondering what is happening and feeling as if he walked into the eye of a hurricane with people arriving and leaving faster than he can comprehend. He cannot fathom what he has said or done that would elicit such actions to take place.

    Is greeting two friends such a bad thing? While his body is straight, his eyes begin to betray his bewilderment and he begins to wish he was still wearing his nhorel from only a few minutes ago.

    "I...don't get it. What, what did I miss?" Rangin cannot help but feel he walked in midway on some private meeting to which he wasn't invited. He looks round at the remaining people, unable to fully close his mouth and looking for all the world, a fool stuttering nonsense to a crowd.

    Unable to comprehend what just happened, perhaps the only to find out is to ask her, Kylah, why she reacted so badly. The room seems to swirl round as he turns to the door only to see the back of Collins as she heads for the exit with no sign of her.

    As it appears that Lt Onn is going to leaving with Graham, he turns to the only person left...he was sure there had been someone else around, Mr Johnson, but no he had disappeared as well, leaving him standing in a group of one, by the door, alone again.

    He looks around the group in the reception, feeling for all the world like the first time he had set foot on earth, fresh-faced and ready to serve in Starfleet. This time, he's a lot older, a lot wiser, but feeling more alone than he has for a long time.

    You're a fool, Velir Rangin, a voice from his past whispers sweetly in his ear, unable to see what's right in front of you. Drawing in a deep breath, Rangin wonders once again, if he is doing the right thing, and somehow knowing he is not, but unable to act in any other way.

    He puts on his own blank mask, smiles politely and steps into the party to make conversation and engage with the others in the group, while a part of him screams helplessly inside as to why he is such a coward not to go to Kylah.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  22. #2572
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    Nia sends a sympathetic glance toward Rangin--who, even though he was apparently in the middle of it, seems to have as little clue about what just transpired as she does.

    Then again, that could be a facade. Booker certainly seems to have the guy pegged as abusive or at least manipulative.

    Someday I should have a sit-down with this Elasian trouble-magnet, she thinks. As annoyed by she is by the girl's propensity to stir up the worst in everyone around her, Nia can't forget Kylah's huge, hurt-filled eyes while whispering those words to Rangin. The rest of her face was bizarrely affectless, but there was crushing heartbreak in her stare.

    She's so young. I don't think I was ever that young; not that way. And of course, Nia can't help thinking of her oldest daughter, almost Kylah's age now. But Sidonian girls don't grow up naive. They don't even have dreams, apart from hoping they'll be prolific and useful to the men who control them.

    Nia pats Booker's arm and walks him out of the reception. She's silent for a few moments, not sure what's going on in his head, or what to say that won't piss him off.

    "I hope you're not angry," she ventures. "You and Collins may not realize just how strong your attack-dog vibes were. Andy Johnson could tell something serious was about to happen from 'way across the room. I had to do something."

    She pauses before trying to lighten the mood a little. "Lucky everything cooled down once Kylah left. I wonder if she gives off some kinda pheromone causing people to act on their most aggressive instincts--could be an Elasian thing, like the tears. The pheromone draws 'em in, the tears enslave them. I'm not even joking, y'know. That could really be a thing. It sure seems like emotions run pretty high whenever Ensign Kylah is around."

    They're near the Turbolift now, and she stops to stand squarely in front of Booker. She gently takes hold of both his arms, then moves closer. "Your quarters or mine? I'd like to talk, but... I get if you don't feel like it."

  23. #2573
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    Uncertain whether anyone is following her, but unwilling to take the risk, Kylah makes several turns into varying corridors until she herself is lost. She must find somewhere to hide, somewhere alone--she feels like a tiny rabbit fleeing the shadow of a hawk overhead, desperate to dive into a hole and fill it in behind her.

    Spying a small, empty crew lounge, she rushes in and finds the head, where she ducks inside and orders the door to lock itself behind her. Kylah edges away until her back strikes the wall behind her, and she sinks down, staring at the door as if it will open any second to reveal Zweller himself advancing upon her.

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    Collins sets off in the direction she saw Kylah run, but doesn't see the young ensign ahead of her anywhere. As she goes along, not too quickly but at a good pace, she peers down the side corridors for any sign of her roommate. After several minutes, Collins comes to the conclusion that Kylah just doesn't want to be found right now, so she heads back to the reception and Cooper.

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    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 09 Apr 2016 at 01:44 AM.

  26. #2576
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    Hiding in the locked restroom, Kylah closes her eyes. Velir's face haunts her. She sobs at what a fool she has been. How could she have trusted him, cared for him, imagined him the first man to want nothing more than her friendship--even love?

    She should have known better by now. One cannot love a mere object, and that is what she is: a thing, a tool, to be used by others. For status. Power. Wealth. Lust. Her body and her empathic skills are all anyone has valued. It has happened too many times for her to deny the truth. Now that she has no empathic power, what is left?

    That much is all too clear. Kylah cannot forget Jan. Fastolfe. Even her guardian. And Velir. Tears burn her eyes and at last she lets them fall. Velir is the only one she wanted in return. She would have given herself freely to him... if only he were the man she's thought him to be. Maybe I am wrong. Please let me be wrong...

    But all signs are against it. Zweller does not act alone, she remembers. Back at the Academy, Zweller did not enter her room by himself to intimidate her into sleeping with him. He had brought that other boy, and both had leered while they watched her remove her clothes under the threat of force. Zweller must like an audience.

    And now he has a bigger and more powerful coterie. A superior officer, Ferguson. Why not Velir as well? Zweller has shown no remorse, and if Ferguson's behavior is to be judged, feels as viciously vindictive as he did once she turned the tables on him that night courtesy of her knife.

    Kylah shakes her head. But he must know what he was attempting was reprehensible! She simply cannot believe him unable to tell the difference between right and wrong. So how he could hold such hatred for her trying to defend herself? So much hatred, and for so long? Two years! She has barely thought of him since, much less had any contact that could have rekindled his resentment.

    Suddenly she remembers the text he sent her earlier. She was so focused on Velir that she could not truly take in the words. Kylah swallows and pulls the device from her belt. Her fingers are numb and shaky as she taps the tiny buttons to read his note.

    Sorry to have surprised you. I thought you'd have expected me, considering the message I sent you....

    She wipes the tears from her eyes and stares at the small screen without comprehension. It makes no sense. She received no other messages. Unless it was lost in her other communicator, but her data should have been saved.

    Why would he even want to contact her? Why would he not have stayed hidden, hatching whatever plan he seems to have concocted with Ferguson. And maybe Velir, she thinks with a choking sob. They have surrounded me.

    All this, simply because two years ago, she refused to be part of Zweller's sick sexual collection of aliens. He is mad, if he still bears that grudge. He is utterly--

    Kylah stops breathing, stops blinking, stops thinking. For one ageless moment she remains there, on the cold floor, and remembers.

    The note on her night stand. The one with the crossed-out word: ELASIAN

    A lurch of nausea cramps her stomach. Again, she is assaulted by flashes of memory: Zweller's arm around her. Pulling her close. Jabbing her back with something metallic. "This won't hurt."

    "No," she moans softly, hugging her knees to her chest. Her head bends until it touches her knees, and she rocks, closing her eyes shut as wave after wave of icy tremors run through her body. "Please, no."

    It was no dream. The note makes it clear: he was definitely in her quarters. He was near her bed. Perhaps in her bed--she has no idea. She was asleep for nearly an entire day, and sick for a day after that. Did he drug her? Would he be so vile?

    Yes. The man who once tried to rape her, who brought a younger cadet along for her to "initiate"... Yes, he is capable of anything.

    Including not being alone, she thinks in rising horror. Including letting Ferguson... and maybe even Velir...

    Zweller likes an audience.

    Overtaken by nausea, Kylah crawls to the nearest stall to be sick.
    Last edited by choie; 08 Apr 2016 at 05:44 PM.

  27. #2577
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    Graham squeezes his eyes tightly shut for a moment as Nia gently squeezes his arms.

    He's not sure if it's real or psychosomatic, but his leg is throbbing. As is his head.

    And part of his desperately wants to explain what's going to Nia. Except that part of his warns that would be unfair to--or at least really, really unwelcomed by--Kylah.

    And part of him is angry--he wants to shout at Nia that she doesn't understand what the hell is going, would she just listen for one fucking minute...

    Graham opens his eyes, swallows, and takes her hands away from his arms--but only to fold them in his, between them.

    "I want to talk, Nia...but right now I'm afraid I'm likely to say something somebody will regret. Not even sure who. Me, you, Kylah--maybe all three."

    His shoulders tense and then slump. "There are things you don't know about--ah, hell." He shakes his head. "Maybe I'm just being an idiot, projecting...like I said, she's my daughter's age, sometimes even reminds me..."

    He give her hands little squeeze. "But it'd be better--let's talk tomorrow. Please." He starts to let go and turn away, then pauses and turns back toward her, looking down for a moment, and then into Nia's eyes. "It's just hard to let go. A man who doesn't take of his family's no goddamned good." He gives her hands one more gentle squeeze and turns to limp toward the turbolift.

  28. #2578
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    The reception goes on for a few hours more, as Fujishiro is toasted and fondly remembered, before winding down.

    The Yorktown has meanwhile turned away from the newly-named star, as one with the woman whose name it now bears. The ship sails on with the Naradraen, her Aelyrr companion, towards their rendezvous with the Watney, as shipboard day turns to night....

  29. #2579
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    This mission is now concluded.

    For the next mission: http://www.mellophant.com/forums/sho...and-Capos-quot

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