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

  1. #351
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    The thought of her mother's jewelry, her grandmother's zither, in the hands of this filth is too much for Kylah to bear. Everything that has happened to her today--no, more than that, over the past week--seems to erupt with volcanic fury.

    "I said no!" she cries, recovering from the shove and latching onto her bag for dear life. "How dare you put your hands on me! Let go!" As small as she is, Kylah manages to keep hold of the straps as she spits out: "It is mine!"
    Last edited by choie; 17 May 2015 at 10:57 PM.

  2. #352
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    "Unless you'd rather postpone again?" Collins asks half jokingly, half seriously, as she starts to notice exhaustion welling up through the fading euphoria of the afternoon.

  3. #353
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    Back on the bridge at the Science console, Rangin tries to put aside the last few hours and just concentrate on his work. The previous analysis had completed and he decides to run checks to see how accurate the estimates were. He blocks out the rest of the chatter on the bridge, not because he wouldn't mind joining in, but knowing that at some point Kylah is likely to return and the last thing he wants to do is think of her at this time or hear her voice.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  4. #354
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    Lez the thug pushes Kylah again and swings his club, striking a glancing blow against her right shoulder as she pulls back. The strap of the bag breaks and it starts to fall.

    Rangin sees that the previous analysis was correct. The proximity-scan display, he notes, is changing minute by minute, given the heavy orbital traffic around the Yorktown.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 18 May 2015 at 11:55 AM.

  5. #355
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    Crying out at the sudden pain, Kylah almost falls but manages to keep her balance. Animal instinct kicks in and she refuses to let this man hurt her any further--this brief injury could be much worse unless she acts to stop him.

    Still clutching the bag with her right hand, she sweeps her left down to her thigh in a well-practiced movement, yanks her knife from its holster, and darts forward to slash her attacker's club-wielding arm with the blade.

  6. #356
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    Kylah's blade pierces the man's forearm and he yells in pain. The bag is off-balance and unwieldy. The other thug drops the briefcase and moves forward, raising his club as he does.

  7. #357
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    Graham clears his throat, glancing down at the console--not that it's actually showing anything interesting.

    The hell of it is I would have been happy to stay on duty earlier, but now that I had a nice walk and a fine drink, I'd rather...what? Maybe I need a massage... And ironically I had no purpose in going on leave except for...the snow globe...

    He's got "massage" and "snow globe" in mind when he glances toward Bennett and Onn's station--only to catch Onn's eye as she's glancing his way. He immediately feels his face flush and redden and he jerks his head back to the console as it ha just alerted him to a dozen de-cloaking warbirds.

    He clears his throat again and glances furtively at Collins. "I, ah...I'm not sure how much fight's in me today," he says. Although I sure feel better than Rangin looks, he notes. And where's Kylah, anyway? He shrugs apologetically. Maybe I should offer an alternative? 'Hey L-T, how about a mani-pedi, we can have adjacent chairs...' "Maybe we can play it by ear....who knows, maybe something in a completely innocuous watch managing a standard orbit will really piss me off, right?"
    Last edited by general_urko; 18 May 2015 at 03:47 PM. Reason: added a bit

  8. #358
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    Kylah tries to hold on to the bag, but with her hurt shoulder she cannot maintain her one-handed grasp. It falls to the ground. When she looks up and sees the other man coming toward her, she redoubles her effort to drag her belongings backward--just when her back hits the wall again. She turns right but there is a wall there too--she is cornered.

    When she lifts her head up to stare like a trapped wolf at the men surrounding her, sweat stings her eyes. "Stay away from me!" she screams, brandishing the knife.

  9. #359
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    The men pace before Kylah warily for a few seconds, and then one of them quickly darts in, on the attack. She slashes him in the side, but he brings his club down on her wrist, knocking the knife from it. Almost simultaneously, from the other side, the other man hits her in the temple, hard, with his club. Everything goes black and she feels herself falling.

    Later - she can't be sure how much time has passed - she regains consciousness. She is alone. She has a terrible headache, and her wrist is very sore. Grit sticks to her cheek and palms as she hauls herself off the floor. Her bag has been ripped apart and the zither is badly broken. Her communicator is also smashed. Her uniform, knife and mother's jewelry are all missing.

    Vargas looks at the big chair's chrono and hits the comm button. "Bridge to Transporter Room. Has Mr. Kylah returned from the surface yet?"

    "No, sir."

    Vargas turns to Ens. Meredith Davis, the duty Communications officer. "Hail her, please."

    Davis taps her console. "Yorktown to Ens. Kylah, come in, please." She waits. "Yorktown to Ens. Kylah, please respond." She frowns. "No answer, sir." She taps additional keys. "Her communicator isn't showing up at all, sir."

  10. #360
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    When Collins hears what Davis has said, her body becomes alert. She spins her chair to face the center of the bridge waiting to hear what Vargas will say about this development.

  11. #361
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    Everything hurts. Kylah starts to take a step but she stumbles to her knees, her hands grabbing onto the bag for purchase. Her left wrist buckles, unable to bear her weight, and she cries out when she falls and finds herself staring down inside the bag. At once she notices the missing jewelry case. It is gone. Oh mother, it is gone! Even as she processes this, something is crunching beneath her knee, hurting it, and somehow she shifts to see what it is.

    The communicator. She stares at it, numbly trying to understand where it came from. Then the memory returns and she lifts her left hand to her bosom. Her dress is torn down the front--they must have grabbed her by the flimsy material's neckline at some point; it is the only way her communicator could have been discovered. Even Kylah forgot all about it. So stupid. How could I not...

    Her gaze lifting to the bag again, Kylah sees that the gift box she stuffed in earlier appears untouched, hidden behind some clothes in its hard protective box. And that is when she discovers the zither.

    Her grandmother's zither--a cherished relic, a much-needed instrument vital for her role here on the Yorktown: mere wreckage. All the delicate crystal strings turned into shattered, ice-like shards. The shining, thin slate back is now nothing but sharp pieces.

    She sobs in grief and reaches for it before the agonizing pain reminds her that her left hand is useless. Pulling it back, she holds it against her chest protectively, still crying.

    After a few moments of silent tears, Kylah's sense of self-preservation reminds her that she might not be safe. They might return. Or she might be locked in here. Without her communicator she cannot contact anyone. And by now... by now, the ship might have left. The Yorktown must be gone by now, leaving her behind on this horrible planet. And she would deserve it. She was abandoning them, why should they not abandon her?

    Somehow she closes up her bag and, hooking the strap around her good right arm, crawls with it, dragging both her aching body and the bag toward the only sliver of light she can find in the otherwise dark void of a room. Her head swims with every movement and nausea roils within her. The grimness of her situation weighs her down as well. The stark truth is that she is wounded, weaponless, alone and defenseless. If this light is not from a door, and the door does not open, Kylah does not know what she will do.

    She continues crying even as she forces herself forward, both consciousness and hope fading with every step.

  12. #362
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    Rangin freezes on the bridge at the call that Kylah has gone missing and for one moment is torn between "What has she got herself into?" and "Could I have stopped it?"

    But neither of those thoughts would help and he activates the science panel in front of him looking for the spot where her communicator was last located. It was perhaps a start to try and find her on the planet somewhere. He had no idea what had happened, but she was still a fellow shipmate and he needed to know what had befallen her.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  13. #363
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    Graham's head snaps away from the console to Davis, then Vargas--and then Rangin.

    I assumed they were taking this leave together, he thinks, wondering if he was wrong or Rangin will have an explanation for the delay..

    There's no reason to worry, he thinks, the local cops saw the area as safe a place, but...Shit. Anybody would have thought no place could be safer than OCIII...

    Graham shoots to his feet, a slight lean toward the door. His head turns from Rangin to Vargas--and then Collins. "Permission to scramble a Security team for surface deployment, sir...sirs," he asks quickly. She's Elasian--ship's sensors ought to be able to find her, but wherever she is they'll need to beam down some boots on the ground...

  14. #364
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    When Graham jumps up, Collins does as well and moves to his side in solidarity. She looks at Vargas "With your permission, Commander?"
    Last edited by anyrose; 18 May 2015 at 06:23 PM.

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    Kylah sees that the light is coming from the bottom edge of a corroded old metal door. It just barely ajar. She is able to force it open by putting her uninjured shoulder to it and pushing with all her might. Beyond it is a weed-strewn paved lot, and beyond that, several large, run-down buildings much like the one from which she just emerged. Everything is desolate and empty.

    Rangin cross-checks the Communications logs and sees that Kylah's communicator last automatically registered on ship's sensors in the North Central neighborhood of the city of Thoth, about 20 minutes ago. Davis is just discovering the same thing, and tells Vargas.

    The First Officer nods. "Mr. Collins, select and take charge of a landing party. Phaser-2s and tricorders. Mr. Davis, notify the Thoth Constabulary, provide a description and ID data for Mr. Kylah, and liaise with them going forward. Mr. Rangin, conduct a more intensive scan for Mr. Kylah and her communicator." He punches the comm button on his chair arm. "Vargas to Capt. Singh. Please report to the Bridge."

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    "Aye, Sir." Collins turns and presses the shipwide communications button. "Lieutenant Jones, Ensign Kjaerstad, and Ensign Rawlings to Transporter Room 3 armed and ready." She releases the button and turns to Graham. "With me." she says to him, then heads for the Turbolift.
    Last edited by anyrose; 19 May 2015 at 12:37 AM.

  17. #367
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    Wincing at the light, Kyjah cannot help moaning aloud at the empty expanse before her. She is relieved to be outside, but she fears she lacks the strength to travel much farther. Still, she has no choice. She has already lost consciousness once; with her dizziness and nausea there is a significant chance she has a concussion. If she blacks out again in this secluded area, it is likely no one will find her until it is too late. Waves of exhaustion try to drag her down but she knows she must fight them.

    She takes deep breaths in hopes the oxygen will refresh her and starts slowly forward. The bag--with only some shoes, a dress, the remains of her zither and the gift box--feels impossibly heavy as she pulls it along behind her. But she refuses to let go, she must not, let go. I have to fix it, He will be so furious, she thinks dazedly, the thought of her uncle's disapproval as great a burden on her as much as the bag.

    Hours seem to pass before she looks up to see how far she has gone. The shabby buildings are closer but they seem to swim away from her, cruelly taunting Kylah in a game of cat and mouse. The longer she walks the farther away they look. She is certain she is near one of the buildings and she looks up. Is there an alley between them? Somewhere she can pass through to a street?

    She turns her head too fast while searching and a shudder runs through her. Suddenly her stomach lurches, and barely in time she drops her bag, staggers over to some weeds and is sick, losing what little she has eaten and drunk today. After several spasms of her muscles she finally backs away while wiping her mouth in disgust. Staggering, Kylah shudders again, and now she cannot shop shivering. The perspiration that covered her body during the fight has long since dried, but she still feels as if she has been dropped into ice water.

    "I cannot do this," she slurs, hugging herself with her one good arm, trying to pull up the torn collar to cover as much skin as she can. The exhaustion and nausea and cold--probably actually a fever or dehydration, she realizes dully--are too much to combat. All at once, like a marionette whose strings have been cut, Kylah crumples first to her knees and then to her side on the hard pavement, squeezing her eyes shut and cradling the bag against her shaking body like a pillow.

    "I am sorry," she whispers over and over into the canvas. Whirling visions of her attackers' masks compete with the images of her mother and Aldaan's disappointed expressions. But it is Velir's angry, hurt face that is the last she remembers, and the last to whom she apologizes, before her lips fall silent and the world dwindles to gray.

  18. #368
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    By the time Cmdr Vargas asks for a better scan, Rangin''s fingers are already flying across the panel, staccato taps punching in the request to find Kylah. A shiver begins to run down his spine as he tries to push aside his worries and concerns about what could be happening on the planet's surface and concentrating on the one task only.

    Aside from scanning for the communicator, Rangin considers that there must be a better way to find her, but Thoth is a veritable haystack to find a needle in, even one as sharp as Kylah. As they say, when looking for a needle use a magnet, something obvious that would be distinctive to her and her alone.

    Concentrating on where the communicator was last noted, he starts a scan for human forms in the area and then narrows it down to only respond on Elasians, but whether it would be that accurate who knows. Searching for Klingons would be easier, the physiology was so different, but Rangin's mind is dragged back to the previous evening, Kylah lying there on the bed, looking for all the world as human as any. Rangin ground his teeth, if Elasian was too close to human it could just sweep right over her.

    Something more specific, something only Kylah would have, Rangin hums to himself for a moment and realises what he is doing and knows what to look for. It was what had shown him that she had lied, something that was so dear and precious to her, she wouldn't ever let it go if she could. That zither, that damnable zither, the crystal structure of it would be different and possibly unique or at least a lot rarer on the planet than the people milling around on the surface.

    The previous scans were set up and running and would provide a useful backup, but he sets up a new resonance scan which would send out a focused wave causing the crystal zither to vibrate in harmony and then let the scanners pick up the response. The irony was not lost on Rangin as he smiles. He had asked Kylah if she could play it for him after it was fixed, well, it appears that the time is now. Only this time, he would be playing it for her.

    After all, it's hard to hide when the instrument you love is singing to the world.
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

  19. #369
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    In his scan, Rangin finds no Elasians among the almost a million people in Thoth. However, his resonance scan turns up over a thousand crystal or crystalline objects. He realizes that he is not certain of the exact type of crystal in Kylah's zither; he may wish to do further research before refining his scan.

    Lt. JG Ryan Jones, Ens. Haakon Kjaerstad and Ens. Terrance Thayer "Two Tons" Rawlings promptly meet Collins and Graham in Transporter Room 3. Each red-shirted officer draws a phaser-2 from the arms locker, and Kjaerstad and Rawlings pick up Security tricorders, as well. They look eager and alert.

    Capt. Singh arrives on the Bridge and is quickly briefed by Cmdr. Vargas. She orders two other Security teams to stand by to beam down. Ens. Mary Three Crows takes her seat at the Security console.

    Kylah remains alone, bleeding and unconscious.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 19 May 2015 at 10:53 AM.

  20. #370
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    No Elasians - that cannot be right , Rangin eyes flicker over the readouts while simultaneously calling up the specifics for crystals used in Elasian zithers.

    While the data is being retrieved he maps the presence of people and crystalline objects in the proximity to the last known location of Kylah's communicator and sets it up to show objects in near spatial contact with a person. When he gets the data, and the crystalline signature, he can then forward it to the Security detail for them to track locally on their tricorders.

    Wait a minute - Rangin checks the location again, just how close was it to the bar that he had been in only an hour or so ago?

    Shaking his head, he immediately flips the scan for Elasians to go planetwide, where is she, she cannot have just vanished off planet, can she?
    In the land of the blind, the one-arm man is king.

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    In the turbolift, Collins says "We should get flashlights, too." She looks at Graham trying to gauge his emotions. "But she's probably just hooked up with some local guy and having some fun. No excuse, but typical Kylah." She tries to sound reassuring, but she doesn't fully believe what she'd just said.
    Last edited by anyrose; 19 May 2015 at 11:34 AM.

  22. #372
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    At the first sign of the missing crew member, Nia was alerted. Now that a full alarm seems to have gone up, with Vargas even notifying the captain and a security team deployed, a small wrinkle appears above her brow as she frowns and shakes her head.

    Seems like an awful lot of fuss for a flighty ensign who might've just decided Starfleet wasn't as much fun as regal cotillions or whatever she's used to back home. Then again, Nia ponders, those connections are probably why Vargas is up-in-arms. Wouldn't do to tell the Elasian ambassador that a member of his royal family went AWOL.

    Nevertheless, she respects that the newer officers--Graham, Collins, Rangin--must be closer to the girl than she is. All Nia knows is what little she's seen during a couple of watches, and a whole mess of gossip about the ensign and Lt. JG Ferguson... and that Fastolfe guy, and what seems to be half the guests at the OCIII resort, depending on who's telling the story.

    The watches told her little except that Ensign Kylah was competent and quiet. But if half of the rumors are true--and that's as much as Nia is inclined to believe--her ladyship seems to be experiencing what Nia herself did after leaving her home planet for the first time: uncaged bird syndrome. Once the little barred door is open, there's a whole world of freedom to explore. Maybe the ensign found her duties on the Yorktown too similar to being cooped up again.

    Still, better safe than sorry. After a while of merely observing, Nia hears the orders from Vargas to Rangin and, watching what appears to be growing frustration on the Coridanite's attractive face, eventually leans over. "Ensign Rangin, might your scans be more effective if we were in a lower orbit?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 19 May 2015 at 12:24 PM.

  23. #373
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    I put myself in situations.

    Words from the previous night are running through his mind when Collins makes her comment.

    A certain type of man...seeks out those who might be vulnerable, or alone...

    I put myself in situations.

    He knows at the back of his mind that Collins must be making a joke to lighten the mood, but it has the opposite effect.

    For the first time in a very long time, Booker Graham is afraid: afraid of what they will find when they do locate Ens. Kylah.

    His expression is flat when he glances at Collins. He does not hold her gaze, instead he methodically checks his phaser charge and settings again.

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    In the corridor on the way to the transporter, Collins locates a supply closet and grabs five flashlights. In the transporter room, she greets the others, hands each one a flashlight, and motions that they all get on the pads. Once all five are in place, Collins tells the chief "Please set us down as close as possible to Ensign Kylah's communicator's last known location." She stands alert as she awaits the disassembling of her molecules.

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    Collins and her landing party materialize on the street outside Ysobel's, in Thoth. It looks like a rundown bar.

    The Yorktown's sensors cannot scan the entire surface of Anubis from a single orbital point at once, as the bulk of the planet itself is between the starship and the opposite side of the planet. A complete planetary surface scan may be accomplished from a polar orbit (going from north to south and back again, as if peeling an apple) in an hour or so, rather than from a synchronous or standard orbit (fixed over a single point on the planet's surface), as the ship is now in. In any event, Rangin still finds no Elasians.

    He next learns from the Library Computer's file on Elasian musical instruments that three types of crystal - known as gileen, yral and coniral - are traditionally used to make Elasian zithers. He looks up the crystalline structure of each type, and cross-references them with the readings he already has. He finds only one "hit," in the industrial town of Hathor, about 70 km southeast of Thoth. Kylah's communicator was last automatically noted by ship's sensors at Ysobel's, the bar he and she visited in Thoth.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 19 May 2015 at 02:37 PM.

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    Collins visually surveys the area. "Nice area" she observes sarcastically. "Okay, this is as good a place as any to start. Jones, you, Graham, and Kjaerstad, check around here and in the back of the building. Rawlings and I will check out the inside." She waits until her crewmates acknowledge her orders then goes into the bar, hopefully followed closely by Rawlings.

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    "Yes, ma'am," Jones briskly says. "I'll check around back. Mr. Graham, why don't you and Mr. Kjaerstad look around out front here?" There are not many people on the street, and nothing you can see to suggest that Kylah has been in the area. The Norwegian unlimbers his tricorder and begins scanning.

    Rawlings is right behind Collins as she enters the bar. A Bolian male calmly nods at you from behind the bar. Four uniformed Caldonians are whooping it up at one table. A single Human male is drinking in a booth, two Tellarite males are in another booth with a gadget of some kind between them, and two Human females are at a table. All of them seem to notice the two Starfleet Security officers who have just entered, but play it cool.

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    Collins allows her eyes adjust to the subdued lighting of the bar before returning the Bolian's greeting and approaching him. "I hope you will be able to help us," Collins indicates Rawlings standing beside her. "At any point this afternoon, did a young female Starfleet officer come in here? And do you happen to know where she went?" Collins knows that the bartender won't be very helpful, but at least it's a jumping off point.

    After she gets her answer, she'll study the room for alternate exits and/or closets. If that doesn't yield anything useful, she'll go over to the table of Caldonians.
    Last edited by anyrose; 19 May 2015 at 04:37 PM.

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    The bartender says, "Yes, there were two Starfleet people in here earlier. One was a young female. They left separately about half an hour ago, and I haven't seen them since."

    From where she stands at the bar, Collins sees the main entry she just came in, several doors along the hallway to her right, and another door opposite the main entry and to the left by three meters or so. She doesn't know which, if any, are closets.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 19 May 2015 at 04:43 PM.

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    Rangin looks up at the sound of his name being called and looks around realising the Lt at helm had asked him a question and is looking for a reply. "Thank you ma'am," he replies with an acknowledging nod, "but my scans are more effective when I know what I am looking for."

    As the cross matches come in, he face becomes a puzzled mask. "That cannot be right" he mutters under his breath, but the computer can only display the possible to him. Somehow Ensign Kylah had travelled quite a distance in a short space of time. Rangin begins to sweat with worry as he wonders just what had happened. There was no reason for her to have travelled that far if indeed it was here, but it was the only match he had.

    Quickly he sends details of the crystalline structure of Kylah's zither to Collins and Graham for them to scan using their tricorders in the vicinity of the bar, but doubts they will find much.

    Then with that one single hit, Rangin turns all the scanners onto that area looking for life signs in the vicinity, hoping against hope that he finds something.

    Straightening up and taking a deep breath, he calls out. "Captain, there is no sign of Ensign Kylah in Thoth, but I believe I have a lock on her zither instead. I am unsure how but it appears to be located in Hathor at...." Rangin reads off the co-ordinates showing the jump in distance. "I'm confirming for any life signs in the area."
    Last edited by CatInASuit; 19 May 2015 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Added note to Security team.
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    Collins moves towards the Caldonians, visually examining the various doors as she does. One of these has to be an exit, or a rest room, or even a basement door, she reasons to herself. She quietly says to Rawlings "Do a scan. See which of these doors lead outside and which leads downstairs."

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    "You're welcome," the bartender says to Collins's back. "Glad to help."

    Rawlings smiles a little at what the bartender said, and unlimbers his tricorder.

    "No scans," the bartender says sharply. "House rules. Our customers hate 'em." Several of the patrons do indeed look uneasy. The Caldonians don't look at all jolly now, and the two women hurriedly get up to leave. Rawlings looks at Collins.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 19 May 2015 at 09:38 PM.

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    Collins turns back to the bartender. "I'm sorry, but we really do have to." She keeps her voice even and polite. "We're trying to find a missing Starfleet officer. Anything not directly related to our search will be ignored. You have my word. Okay." She smiles, but not too broadly, and offers her right hand.

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    Collins's and Graham's communicators both beep.

    The Captain acknowledges the xenobiologist's sensor update. "Thank you, Mr. Rangin. Carry on."

    Rangin finds a single life sign near the crystal. It reads as humanoid but he can't be sure it's Elasian. There are other lifesigns, also humanoid, not far away.

    The bartender crosses his arms and doesn't take Collins's hand. "No, sorry. You got a warrant?"

    The two women slip out the door. Every other eye in the place is now looking at Collins and the bartender.

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    "Just a moment, please" Collins tells the bartender, then moves a few steps away from him and opens her communicator. "Collins, here"

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    The bartender looks even less pleased. The Caldonians begin talking quietly and urgently among themselves.

    Collins hears a voice message from Rangin, with details of the crystalline structure of Kylah's zither for the landing party's tricorder scans.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 20 May 2015 at 10:21 AM.

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    "Captain, I have a single lifeform at that point. I can't confirm that it is Ens. Kylah," Rangin tries to hide the concern in his voice and keep calm. "but I would recommend sending a party to investigate it and the surrounding area. Whoever it is, does not appear to be completely alone."
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    Collins turns to Rawlings "Let's go. I don't think we're going to get anywhere here." Once outside the bar, she opens her communicator in front of Rawlings, Kjaerstad, and Graham. "Collins to Jones, Meet us out front, we have new info."

    While they wait for Jones, Collins asks Graham and Kjaerstad what, if anything, they were able to find.
    Last edited by anyrose; 19 May 2015 at 11:21 PM.

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    Nia scowls as she listens to the various reports. "Seventy klicks is a relatively long way to travel in less than a half-hour--assuming that's when she was last in Thoth, and for that matter, what land transportation options are available to her. Has anyone narrowed down an approximate schedule for Ensign Kylah? Either by witnesses or communicator check-ins? If our last sighting is significantly less than twenty minutes ago, I'd say we're not talking about regular travel."

    She twists back to Rangin. "Any of those lifesigns moving, Mr. Rangin? Would be nice to know if she's on route somewhere."

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    Graham starts to open his mouth to object when Collins has him outside canvassing the area--at best somebody good with a tricorder might find some trace, but I'd be better used talking to people in the bar...

    But he shuts it again and nods--got to put some trust in her and Rawlings, who seems solid... He tricorder scans the area and visually looks for anyone sitting in a window who might have been hanging out watching the sights all day. Fat chance, he thinks.

    Graham reports on anything worthwhile he observed.

    Assuming that isn't anything worthwhile

    Graham is visibly tense. "What's the word - the new info? And was the bartender cooperative?" he asks, jerking his thumb toward the bar.

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    At the Lt's comment, Rangin looks down at his feet, a cold feeling settling in the pit of his stomach that he could possibly have been the last one to see her, and he had no idea what she had done next. He wasn't sure if he should say anything, in fact he hadn't even known she was still down there. Why hadn't she come back up when shore leave was over, why was she still down on the planet. The thoughts ran through his head, had she told the Yorktown the same lies, she had given him.

    She had lied to him, hurt him and yet, for all her faults, he still wants to know she is safe back on board, the alternatives are worse.

    Wiping his hands on his trousers to try and remove the sweat from them, he turns back to the science panel to get the answer about whether the life signs are moving or not. "Yes, ma'am, scanning now."
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    T'Var turns toward Singh. "Captain, I would like to be a member of any landing party sent to investigate the latest readings," she says. "If Ensign Kylah is injured, a medical officer should be present."

    The doctor had wanted to join the original party, but for whatever reason, the captain did not feel it necessary. Hopefully, she will feel differently now.

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    "No, the bartender was no help, as expected" Collins tells Graham and Kjaerstad. "Rangin has identified the resonance signature of the crystals in Kylah's zither. Apparently she brought it down with her." She transmits the frequency into to the tricorders. "If you two want to have a go at the bartender, be my guest. Rawlings and I will stay out here."

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    Rangin refines his scan. The lifeform closest to the Elasian crystal is of a mixed-race humanoid genome, and stationary. The nearest other lifesigns are about 200 meters away; some are moving, and some are not. None are approaching the stationary lifeform.

    Jones joins the other redshirts on the sidewalk outside Ysobel's and reports that he found nothing in back. Graham (who does not have a tricorder) and Kjaerstad likewise came up empty in the short time they had to look around on the street. Rawlings says to Collins, "With respect, I wouldn't say the bartender was no help, ma'am. He did confirm that two Starfleet officers, one of them a young female, were here and left about half an hour ago. Perhaps we might show him Mr. Kylah's picture? And do we know who the other officer was with her...?"

    T'Var remembers that Collins, not the Captain, chose the members of her landing party. Singh now says, "I'm not sure yet if your services will be needed, Doctor, but when the time comes and if necessary, yes, you may go."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 20 May 2015 at 10:44 AM.

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    Rangin raps on the scanner panel, frowning at the results and hoping that the result will magically change into Kylah, but it stubbornly shows something he is just not expecting. Could it be Kylah - all Rangin really knew is that she was humanoid from Elas. Was there really more to hear than meets the eye, perhaps yet another secret she would never tell him.

    Rangin instructs the scanner to identify the two humanoid genomes, but somehow its extraneous to what he can see there That point is the only match he can find for Kylah's zither. So, if it isn't Kylah, then it's someone who will know what has happened to her and either way, they had to get down there.

    "Captain, I have a single humanoid at that point, not moving. No other matches found for the crystals used in her zither.No-one currently approaching them, other humanoids 200 at metres and moving away."

    Rangin takes a deep brath and stands straight "Sir, I would suggest a party goes down to find the person. It may either be Ensign Kylah, or if not, someone who knows what happened to her and has obtained her zither somehow."
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    Collins considers Rawlings' suggestion. "Yes, good idea. Graham, go in with Rawlings. Meanwhile, Jones, did you get the data I'd just sent? Scan for traces of those crystals, please."

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    The Captain, "Agreed. Thank you, Mr. Rangin." She punches the comm button on her chair arm. "Security, Singh here. Send another landing party to the coordinates Mr. Rangin will be relaying to Transporter Room 1. You may find Ens. Kylah there, or someone who has obtained her Elasian zither, perhaps by theft."

    Ens. Jeanne St. Croix responds, "Aye, Captain. We're on our way."

    Jones scans for the crystals and finds no trace. Graham and Rawlings go back into the bar.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 20 May 2015 at 12:38 PM.

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    Graham whispers to Rawlings on the way in "When I ask you to pull up a picture of Kylah to show the bartender, pull up a picture of any female human crew member besides her."

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    Rawlings nods.

    The bartender is still there, and does not look happy to see you. He leans on the bar with both dark-blue hands and stares at you. "Yes?"

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    The grayness will not fade entirely to black. It lightens enough for Kylah's eyes to open and see blurred shapes, thin pale fingers stained with something that seems rust-colored. It takes a while for her to recognize them as her own. When she tries to lift her head, the nausea hits her again, along with vertigo, and she cannot bear to move very much. Still, she is able to notice the material of her canvas bag, against which she was lying, and which is now a deeper red than usual--warm and damp. Blood, she thinks with dull objectivity. On my hand. I must be bleeding. Normally she would panic at this discovery, but her emotions seem distant and unreachable.

    Keep moving, she orders herself. And like a trained soldier she obeys, forcing her right hand to drag itself to the ground. The pavement's coldness briefly disturbs the cocoon of sleepiness that tempts her. She pulls her knees into position and begins to crawl. At one point an agonizing mistake finds her leaning on her left hand and the pain from her wrist elicits a sharp cry of shock. It does not stop her for long. Since she cannot use that hand for support, she hooks her left elbow around one of the bag's straps; at least it can be useful in taking her bag with her.

    She is not even sure where she is, or where she should be heading. But Kylah inches forward, making only a little progress before she must pause to shut her eyes and banish the dizziness. Each time it gets harder and harder to force her eyes open again. I will be in a coma soon. Just like Fujishiro. The thought of her colleague reminds her that her wrist probably hurts because of the slime devil attack.

    Of course: that explains it. That is where she is. She never left the Sakathian station. The other crew must have left her behind, they do not know she is still here. Her head wound and the bleeding now make grim sense. The altered creatures got her. She will be changing soon. At least I will finally be strong. The creatures are powerful. Hard to hurt. No second-thoughts, no doubts, just determination, anger and hunger. It will not be so bad to have such single-minded strength.

    Except she could hurt someone else. I do not want to do that, Kylah thinks, stopping her movements at once. She does not know her crewmates very well, it is only her first assignment, but... T'Var seems to understand her. Rangin... he made her laugh, he kept her secret about her knives. No, she would not want to hurt either of them. Except she has the gnawing suspicion that she already has.

    Velir Rangin's face swims before her. Did she harm him? He helped her against the slime devil, they fought together as if choreographed. Has she repaid him by lashing out, now that she is turning into a monster? Maybe he is the one who attacked her in self-defense. She would not blame him. He must have had no choice, or he would not have done it.

    She starts to weep and sits back against her heels. Maybe it is better for her to just wait for the end. Maybe she will not turn completely, just like Fujishiro. She could just close her eyes and sink into a coma. It will prevent her from turning completely into a beast, someone toxic and deadly to everyone she meets. Yes, she would like that. I will not be a bother to anyone if I just sleep.

    The shuttle with her escaping crewmates has left her behind, the station is full of monsters like her, and soon she will be eaten by one of her own kind. Or, like Fujishiro, she will fall asleep until her body gives up. That sounds like the best solution. Kylah is still crying but at least she knows what to do. She will crawl until she just drops. So Kylah begins her pitiful journey again.

    Sure enough, it does not take long. After only another two meters, all strength ebbs from her and she drops, this time her face falling on the cold, hard pavement, gravel digging into her cheek. But the pain is far away and soon she is no longer conscious enough to notice.

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