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Thread: Star Trek RPG - Mission #7: "The War-Brotherhood of Irkhuit"

  1. #1751
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    Since Lt. Onn has chosen not to respond, at least to Kylah, the younger woman uncrosses her legs and shifts slightly toward the others. "You both spoke eloquently," she directs at the doctor and Lt. Graham. "Even with opposing tactics." She smiles encouragingly at Mr. Rawlings for his own instincts, then finally brings her attention to the one person she most wishes to speak to.

    Her intent eyes peer into Velir's face as she considers how to phrase her next words. "The Chalnoth left rather unexpectedly," she whispers. "Forgive me, but did you...?"

    She lets her voice trail into silence, for he must know what she is asking.

  2. #1752
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham's puzzled by Kylah's question to Rangin.

    Did he what, pass gas or something?

    As far as he's concerned, Gorom Telloq's esteem is the least important thing in the galaxy at the moment. And if they've been emboldened to try something, if they "walk their talk" it will be a straight up confrontation, not subterfuge, so without surprise they'd be put right back at a confrontation moment they avoided...but with the slightest bit of luck, could they just avoid it until they were off this ship?

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    The two younger Vulcan women look at each other and seem to relax infinitesimally. T'Ves picks up and sips her tea, saying calmly, "And yet, oddly enough, the Chalnoth are not frequently invited to fancy dinner parties."

    Rawlings returns Onn's grin and sits down again. He picks up a spoonlike utensil resumes eating.

    Rangin squeezes Kylah's hand back, and shakes his head at her question. He pushes away his food. "For some reason, I'm not hungry anymore."

  4. #1754
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    Responding to T'Ves's opening, Bizhi says to her, "Perhaps not, but, as we keep hearing, they are a direct and forthright people. Whereas, of the worst villains ever to have plagued this quadrant with misery and woe, how many have been charming manipulators with impeccable manners?"

    He considers how to bring up the issue of Rangin's uncanny sensations. "Forgive me for being inquisitive, but you have been on board longer than we, and have had the opportunity to observe the other passengers. Was the drama just now about what you expected, or did you sense anything unusual, as it were? Or last night?" He looks over himself and his companions, mock-sheepishly. "Besides us, of course."

  5. #1755
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    Nia, after slowly making her way to the replicator and trying her luck at ordering some basic bread and fruit--anything she can recall from Booker's choices--gets back to the table and gratefully sets the new tray down in front of him with a slight clatter. She grips his shoulder briefly for support (this time literally, as she gets her balance), then moves her hand to rest on the chair.

    "Good question," she says to Dr. M., turning to the Vulcans. "Have they tried a display like that with you, or are they just this charming with us?"

  6. #1756
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    Kylah misses the implication of Dr. Mäkeläinen's question to T'Ves. Instead, understanding Velir's lack of appetite, she pushes her own tray farther from her. "I cannot eat after so many hands messed with my tray. But regardless, I am hungry, and you should have something. Besides..." She eyes Lt. Graham, then the Vulcans, before resuming her steady examination of Velir's face. "Will you come with me?" she asks softly. "I have a question."

    She gets up and tugs gently at Velir's hand, hoping he will follow her to the replicator now that Lt. Onn has finished with it. If he does, and if it is safe to speak privately, she will continue to speak softly. "Teloqq was looking straight at you. Almost as if he knew what you did last night. How could he? You did not say anything to him to identify yourself. Did you?"

    (If he does not follow her, Kylah will go to the replicator by herself and repeat her order from earlier, albeit minus the sausage-like objects while adding an extra pastry for Velir. Then she will return and quietly insist that he eats, while they listen to the others.)

  7. #1757
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    Graham perks up at Nia's question to the Vulcans.

    Smart. Is their behavior species or gender conditioned?

    "Also a good question," he says with a nod.

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    T'Ves smiles just a little and says to the good doctor, "A fair point. In any event, I sensed nothing amiss, last night or just now, other than the obvious." As to his other questions and Onn's she replies, "Yes, they were somewhat boorish with us soon after we came aboard, although not as much as they were with you just now. I believe that the Chalnoth are at least somewhat religious, or perhaps one might say superstitious, and are reluctant to go looking for trouble with those in holy orders."

    Rangin goes along with Kylah, although with a somewhat embarrassed look back at Onn and the others. He says to her quietly, "I don't know if he was aware that I'd done anything. I didn't say anything to him; he just seems to have taken an odd interest in me, worst luck."

  9. #1759
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    If the Vulcans did not sense anything--- maybe that rules a handful of things out regarding Rangin's experience, but approximately infinitely many possibilities remain. One episode is not data, anyway. Dr. Mäkeläinen may end up having to run Rangin through the full gamut of medical tests: full body scan, blood panel, CSF analysis--- to rule out any detectable abnormalities before dismissing his story as just the stress talking. The man has been through a lot, it is true, but (even if it was the stress) he does not want to believe he would just crack.

    To T'Ves he says, "I cannot vouch for everyone's superstitions, but I promise my colleagues and I respect the holy orders as well, Madame Adept. At any rate, we are only booked for a short hop. In a couple of days we'll be out of both your hair and the Chalnoth's."

  10. #1760
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    Although the empty mug is no longer warm, Nia curls her hands around it anyway. "A short hop," she echoes, as if in agreement with Dr. M. It doesn't feel that short to her right now, with the Yorktown and her Bilitrium so impossibly far away. She shrugs it off as her gaze sweeps to the floor and Booker's discarded food. "Funny how that slop only enhances the decor."

    Then, looking up at T'Ves, she clears her throat. "Um, so... do you know anything about this 'War-Brotherhood' group?"

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    Her focus intent on Velir's eyes, Kylah listens carefully. "Yes, you have caught his attention," she says softly. "It cannot be a coincidence, after you made that...that 'suggestion' to him, last night. We have no idea what it felt like, from his perspective. If he heard you, or just sensed you. Or if he genuinely thinks it was his own spontaneous choice to leave."

    She swallows, glances to see if anyone is near, and then takes the plunge, speaking in a rushed near-whisper. "Velir. Do it to me. Make me do something." Her throat is dry and tight at the thought. Losing control of her own actions, her own will, is one of her greatest nightmares, one she has faced too often. And she has the unsettling notion that Velir himself might have already unwittingly influenced her.

    But she breathes and tries to keep the fear out of her voice and expression. "It can be something simple. Harmless. Something I would not usually do. Let us go back to the table and then you can--try to influence my actions when I am not fully expecting it. We will then know whether I hear your voice, or have any sense that I am doing anything I do not mean to. I give you my permission," she finishes, almost a vow.

  12. #1762
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    T'Ves nods to Bizhi and says, "Yes, thank you, Doc. I am in no hurry for you to leave, however. There is strength in numbers, and as a counterweight to the Chalnoth, I confess I am grateful to have you here."

    She tells Onn, "We know little more than you do, unfortunately. None of us had ever heard of this 'War-Brotherhood' before we came aboard. We have learned from Teloqq, however - for what little it may be worth - that the Irkhuit are one of the oldest and most honored Chalnoth mercenary groups, with a long and bloody history, but that they have never fought Vulcans." She smiles thinly. "Although I'm sure they would be happy to, if the opportunity ever presented itself."

    Rangin looks closely at Kylah. "Really? Are you sure?" She convinces him and, a few moments later, as you both return to the table, Kylah feels the sudden impulse to clean up Graham's spilled tray of food. The thought did not come naturally to her; she senses but cannot be sure that Rangin has sent a psi command. She wonders if she should try to disobey it.

    An Uwat comes aft, goes to the replicator and selects and fills a tray of food. He takes it a little way down the corridor to a door you haven't yet seen open. The door opens. He then passes the tray to the room's occupant, whom none of you can see from where you stand or sit.

  13. #1763
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    Kylah's brows knit into a slight frown, an uncanny sense making her brain feel... not itself. Not entirely her own, even. She told Velir to practice on her, but she cannot tell if her current unease is a result of his effort, or her knowledge that he might try something. Perhaps it is psychosomatic? No, the other thing. Self-fulfilled prophecy? Maybe like every foolish person awed by a street fair charlatan with a pair of gloves and a crystal orb, she has convinced herself and fallen right into the trap every conjurer sets.

    She looks distastefully at the puddle of goo on the deck. How uncivilized to treat someone else's home thus. Someone might walk through it, unseeing, and skid, injuring himself. Her fingers twitch toward a napkin, but she curls them around the table edge. She will not stoop to... to stooping. A mop will suffice. Anyway, the crew of the Doregg will take care of it. Kylah shifts her gaze toward Velir when he is not looking at her. Is he smiling? Curious? Perhaps afraid. He is usually quite respectful of her privacy... usually. There are lines he will not cross. Might he have decided against it? This whole thing could be her imagination.

    If this is mere self-delusion, I can ignore it, can i not? What if she simply sits, in her usual graceful manner befitting her family? She has taught herself how to stop sneezing--a trick her nurse Reenie taught her--and if one can ignore a physical compulsion surely this should be easy.

    Biting her lip, hard, she looks in the opposite direction from the mess, makes a tiny hmph sound, and sits more solidly in her chair. If she can.

  14. #1764
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    "Sorry, my mind's a bit foggy. I'm...under the weather." Nia smiles briefly at the Vulcans. "But did you tell us last night whether you'll be at your destination before the Chalnoths? Or are they getting off before you?" Just like a man, she thinks with dull amusement. Amazing that she can feel lousy but her mind still retains its base humor.

    She watches the Uwat idly, curious as to who gets special treatment, like breakfast in bed. Or maybe it's someone's office and they're eating at their desk. Then again the Uwat don't seem likely to be big on busywork. Still, mundane efforts must be made even in far more sophisticated ships than this one.

    Her curiosity isn't enough to get her to her feet to follow the crew member. She's more interested in a) staying off her feet and b) learning more about T'Ves and the others on board. There's nothing else for her to do except sleep. And get in touch with Singh. Shit, I forgot all about that. Nice work, Lieutenant.

    She glances at Kylah. The girl looks crabby, like she's sitting on the business end of a pine cone. Maybe she and Rangin, uh, Ginran, had a fight. With a one-shouldered shrug, Nia returns to the Vulcan to listen--having forgotten what she was going to ask her communications officer.

  15. #1765
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    He does not know ships like she does, but Bizhi thinks Nia is being a bit unfair where the Uwat vessel is concerned. It is not Starfleet aesthetic, to be sure, but the utilitarian design makes it seem like one should be able to tell what does what and whether it is working correctly, an invaluable quality when something inevitably goes piriform and sleek curves, luxurious panels, and advanced automation no longer help you. In any case, he is as certain as certain can be that no officer anywhere will tolerate slop on the deck.

    "It is literally their business to be happy, or at least seem to be happy, to fight against anyone, anytime," he says. "But stories have a way of circulating, and what is said amidst the tales and rhodomontade is, those who have had the opportunity to fight Vulcans speak of those adversaries with healthy respect, shall we say." The character that Bizhi is playing knows as well as he does that this is not necessarily a subject to bring up comfortably with a Vulcan, much less a disciple of Surak, so he is glad Nia is, if not exactly changing the subject, following a harmless tangent.

  16. #1766
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    Graham raises an eyebrow at T'Ves' comment, and then the doctor's.

    "Hm well, I've fought Vulcans--at the Academy, that is. In their sincere interest of providing high-quality instruction in hand-to-hand combat as instructors, I think I still may have a few of the bruises," he offers with a smile.

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    Rangin's expression is carefully neutral, Kylah sees, although she has a fleeting psi sense of disappointment from him. She is able to sit at the table again despite her earlier strong inclination to clean up the mess on the deck.

    Rawlings chuckles at Bizhi's remarks. "Okay, Doc, I'm gonna have to ask you to define 'rhodomontade.' That's a new one on me."

    "We will be debarking before the Chalnoth," T'Ves tells Onn. "And not a moment too soon, I'd say." At Graham's comment she raises an eyebrow and says, "Indeed. Which Academy, sir, if I may ask?"

    The Uwat continues down the corridor, away from you.

  18. #1768
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    Graham has a sinking feeling in his stomach as he realizes he may have just spilled the beans on the group being Starfleet.

    "I was in, ah...law enforcement, on Earth, back in the day." He adds after a pause. "Before going, ah, independent."

  19. #1769
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    "Well, Terrance," Bizhi says smiling, "it means the embellished bravado of those with something to prove. Don't get me wrong: I am willing to stipulate that our War Brothers are possessed of a certain doughtiness, why not? But truly dangerous people have no need nor use for big talk."
    Last edited by stolz; 25 May 2024 at 08:43 AM.

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    Nia's focus suddenly concentrates and whips to Booker. A slip like that is not like him. He recovers, sort of, but she wonders if the other day's emergency landing and subsequent exertion took a greater toll on him than she thought. Truth is, she hasn't given much thought to his well-being. Or anyone's, apart from Rangin. And that was only because he, y'know. Killed a guy.

    "He's our token Terran," she says mildly, directing it to the Vulcans though she's measuring Booker carefully with her gaze--and it's a lie anyway since Double T is right there. "They've got these places where people have to get taught how to keep order. Nothing like that on my planet, that's for damn sure." Finally she returns to look at T'Ves. "Where are you from? Obviously I know your race, and I know you're on a journey for your, uh, order, but I mean... Vulcans aren't confined to Vulcan any more than humans on Earth."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 25 May 2024 at 09:20 PM.

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    As she sits, Kylah notices that Lt. Graham seems unnerved and Lt. Onn somewhat alarmed, though these emotions are not readily seen in their expressions. And Dr. Mäkeläinen, ever unflappable, is explaining something to Ens. Rawlings that Kylah did not catch.

    Beneath the table, Kylah brushes Velir's shirt cuff to get his attention, wearing a slight smile of amusement as she murmurs, "You will have to be more forceful than that if you wish to see me clean like a drudge."

    She does not let him see that the experiment is still unnerving, even if she was able to shake off his command. In truth, she is not entirely sure she would have noticed the unusual intrusion of such thoughts, had she not been expecting something.

    Wondering if the inclination still exists, she turns back casually toward the mess. The impulse to clean up the food does indeed tug at her--as if she would be betraying Velir by not following his wishes--but it is more like a memory, not a compulsion. Indeed, that impulse is soon overtaken by curiosity. Her attention has slipped beyond to the Uwat walking down the corridor. This gets her thinking of his having delivered food to someone in person.

    Why would these highly unaccommodating Uwat actually serve one of their guests a meal? The answer comes quickly: Perhaps he is not a guest. Maybe a superior officer, or whatever the hierarchy on such a ship would be. Maybe even the ship's owner? If this is someone of importance it might be worth gaining his or her favor somehow.

    Since she really must contact the Yorktown anyway, Kylah decides she can always ask this owner or officer for directions to the Bridge. She says a quick excuse me to Velir and gets up, heading to the door. The mess on the floor will be a good excuse: she decides she can always ask if there is a mop nearby.

    When she reaches the door, she looks around for a means of communication, or at least a door chime. If she finds one she will use it to request admittance. If she finds neither, she will simply knock. Even as she does, her mind suddenly sparks with the belated recollection of T'Ves having mentioned a lone traveler who has not left his cabin. Could this be he?

  22. #1772
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    T'Ves says to Graham, "Ah, a police academy of some kind, then? Where on Earth, may I further inquire?"

    To Kylah she says, "That is certainly true; not all Vulcans are from Vulcan. But, as it happens, we are."

    Rawlings says to Bizhi with a rueful chuckle, "Absolutely right, Doc. I wish more people understood that. It'd probably make for a better Universe."

    Rangin murmurs to Kylah, "Well, I'll try harder next time, if you insist." She remembers the feeling of really wanting to clean up the mess, but it is already swiftly ebbing into memory.

    There is indeed a door chime button on the door to which the Uwat just delivered food. Kylah touches it, and after a long pause hears a voice from within say, "Yes?" It is muffled through the door, and does not come from a com speaker, of which there is apparently none installed.

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    Kylah hesitates, uncertain how to respond now that she has received a response. "Excuse me. I am a passenger, and I--I was trying to find a utility closet or some other place for cleaning supplies. There has been an...accident." She looks back at the distasteful mess, then returns to the door. "Do you know...I am sorry, I should ask, are you a crewmember? I did see someone bringing your meal, and I did not mean to interrupt your breakfast..."

  24. #1774
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    Bizhi has been peripherally listening to what Graham has been telling T'Ves. Are there really Vulcan coppers on Earth? Enough of them to account for multiple martial-arts instructors wherever he is from, or going to say he is from?

    "You are familiar with Terran cities, then?" he butts in. "I've actually been a few times. When I met this fellow and he mentioned something about law enforcement, I couldn't believe it either that there was still a police force, as in a visible deterrent to crime and disorder, like in the... er... twenty-first century, it is called? Nineteenth? Not something you could tell, or else I missed the most interesting places."

  25. #1775
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    Nia sends a speculative look at the rest of her party. Her glance holds on Book--both because it always does, and because she's particularly invested in ensuring that he's doing okay. This is a big burden to place on his shoulders, capable and strong as they might be.

    As Dr. M. breezily and with admirable skill flings some BS in the Vulcans' direction, Nia smiles slightly before being struck by a thought. She checks to see if the doctor's maintaining their attention, and at any opportune moment when she can be sure of confidentiality, reaches toward Booker as if merely pushing her untouched tray over to him. "Doubt this is the right place," she murmurs almost into his ear, "Much less the time. But what's the downside of sharing our IDs with our allies here?"

  26. #1776
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    Graham softly grunts. Nia's made an incisive point. And also gotten very close.

    He turns so she can hear his near whisper. "Huh. Yeah, it would be a bet...on having allies. Or not." He pauses a moment and closes his eyes, feeling her closeness and her smell. He physically tenses, then relaxes, resolved. He pats Nia's knee.

    "Doc's right," he says to T'Ves. "Even in the present day, the need for law enforcement is still a sad fact on Earth. But, ah..." Graham lowers his voice. "Vulcans are famously honest, T'Ves, so I'll be honest with you." He glances at the doctor and Nia before proceeding. Leaning forward he says "The fact of the matter is we're Starfleet officers, and thanks to...exigent circumstances, here we are, and reaching our destination is...a matter of urgency. And not something we want to discuss with our hosts or the other, ah, guests. " He takes a breath. "I hope we can count on your discretion."

    Rubicon crossed....

  27. #1777
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    The person in the cabin replies from behind the closed door to Kylah, "No, I'm not a member of the crew. I suggest you ask them for help. Please don't bother me again." Although muffled, it appears to be a male voice in unaccented Federation Standard.

    T'Ves raises an eyebrow, then turns and says something in an alien tongue to her two younger colleagues. Without a word, they rise and leave. She then says to Graham, "Thank you for confiding in me. I indeed thought you might be Starfleet personnel, but was not sure. You may certainly count on my discretion, and that of my sisters. I am not sure of the Uwats' probable response, but it would do none of us any good for the Chalnoth to know. Is that why you were trying to keep it secret?"
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01 Jun 2024 at 11:07 PM.

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    Biting her lip, Kylah nods unconsciously despite not being visible to the person inside, and tries to lighten the mood. "Of course. I suppose you paid extra for personal service of your meals? We did not think to do that--indeed, I am shocked that we were not offered the option to upgrade." She cannot help her curiosity, and reaches out empathically to see if this person is mollified or upset. "Anyway, please forgive my mistake. My name is Kylah--perhaps we will meet later?"

  29. #1779
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    Mars is different, of course--- no policing in the Earth metropolitan sense, the habitats and facilities there supporting a smaller population in a much more controlled environment. Not that there is never any trouble....

    Bizhi is not concerned about T'Ves's group knowing their identities. Fact is, if Graham had not said anything just now, she would have shortly confirmed her suspicions through implacable logic, all the quicker if they attempted outright deception. Someone truly devious, he muses, would have "Starfleet officers" as yet another cover identity to satisfy the curious, concealing deeper layers of intrigue. Are they devious? Kylah's knocking on random doors just down the corridor would have to be part of some brilliant ploy not to draw attention.

    "Until we boarded," he says, "none of us had ever laid eyes on a Chalnoth. We are not worried about them specifically, but we learned the hard way that not everybody out here is fond of Starfleet, or the Federation; not on Ollos and not at Cavinre. We therefore decided amongst ourselves that our best chance for a peaceful, inconsequential journey was to keep our occupation vague."

  30. #1780
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    Now that she's seated again, Nia's heart races, and she's unsure if it's due to Booker's risk paying off, or his confidence in her, or... likliest of all: with the thinness of the absurd green catsuit she's wearing, the warmth from his palm--an utterly unexpected gesture--radiated to her skin beneath, and the memory makes the sensation linger still. Anything that grants her some heat is a boon, but a touch from Book, is...very different.

    Turning to T'Ves, she nods to confirm the Doc's version of events, which is both helpful and true. Not a combo they've been able to produce lately.

    The Vulcan's having sussed out that they were Starfleet is concerning. "So much for our future in theater," Nia mutters. "What gave us away? If you let us know, maybe we can stop doing it. Or start doing whatever we're not."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 04 Jun 2024 at 09:17 PM.

  31. #1781
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    Whoever is behind the door says firmly, "I don't want to talk anymore. Please go away, or I'll have to make a complaint to the Captain." Kylah can't quite tell from the voice, muffled as it is, but has the faintest psi sense that it is a Human male.

    T'Ves nods at Dr. Mäkeläinen's comments, and says, "I understand. Thank you, Doc." To Onn she says, "Several of your early, if I may say, unguarded remarks made me suspect you were with Starfleet. Also, all of the men among you have pointed sideburns, which I have noticed is common among Starfleet personnel."

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheKirk

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    "Forgive me," Kylah repeats, backing up a step before turning away. She is curious about this human, but has no real reason to be concerned other than the oddness of his demeanor and apparent personality. Walking slowly toward the others, she avoids the congealing mess on the floor--she still has a vague desire to do something about it, which swiftly changes to annoyance that there are no crew members to clean their own deck.

    The nearer she gets to the table, the greater the impression that some dynamic has changed among her party and the Vulcan, now alone. Her gaze flits from face to face, landing at last on Dr. Mäkeläinen before she intuits that the Tesla crew are more open and the tension buzzing around them has decreased.

    T'Ves knows who we are, Kylah guesses; not really a guess as it seems so obvious. Did she figure it out on her own, or was her team honest with their fellow Federation passenger? Nodding at T'Ves in recognition of the change in status, she approaches to stand behind her chair, hands clasped in front of her.

    "I met the solo traveler," she reports to the senior officers. "That is, I spoke to the solo traveler. He seems quite...adamant...that he should stay that way." Looking expectantly from Lt. Onn to Lt. Graham, she clears her throat. "I would like to find a way to send a message. It is past time that we did so. May someone accompany me?"

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    Reminded of Kylah's presence, Nia hides a frown of annoyance that the ensign sought out some stranger on her own. Fortunately, the rest of the crew are nearby. Even Kylah couldn't get in too much trouble with her fellow officers near her.

    Yeah that's not entirely true, is it. Back on Sigma Iota, the girl had been only ten meters away across the nightclub floor from Nia--with Booker and Double-T even closer--when one of those mafia goons brutally stabbed her.

    Recalling that gruesome sight sharpens Nia's voice. "Yes, you'll be accompanied, and it's not a 'may' but a 'will'. I don't want you prancing off and running into a Chalnoth by yourself."

    Kylah's jaw juts out slightly as she holds her head a little higher. "They do not frighten me," she says, probably a bluff. "I suspect it is only men they find challenging. Note how Teloqq ignored me entirely just now, and you as well. And further, I ran into one last night alone, and nothing happened. While he was gruff, I think it was just shame due--"

    "You what?" Nia leans forward and this time it's her glare that stabs Kylah. "I may have been nearly unconscious last night but I know Book warned you all not to go out unaccompanied."

    "I--it was before we went to sleep. I had to wash my face and brush my teeth." The younger woman's face turns pink, but she's obnoxiously unapologetic. "There was significant turbulence, after which I heard someone being ill. I went to check on him, and it turned out to be a Chalnoth. He was here, actually, earlier." She gestures vaguely toward a table in the back. "I offered to get the doctor but he did not wish it. He was embarrassed at being seen so indisposed. He left, and I went about my business. That is all."

    Nia's finger taps on the table as if it's a phaser cannon control. She looks over to the people who were, presumably, more conscious than Nia was. Frankly she's nearly as annoyed that someone either allowed this, or they didn't notice it at all. She's not sure which is worse. She remarks on this aloud to the others and adds, "Any words, boys?"



    Nia by me, Kylah graciously provided by choie, who doesn't mind Kylah looking like a screw-up.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 09 Jun 2024 at 12:47 PM.

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    Rawlings looks embarrassed. "I guess I was asleep," he says. "My apologies."

    Rangin nods, although he has a neutral expression. "Me, too. No excuses, ma'am."

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    Graham can't help but rub his forehead. "From here on in, no one moves about solo without explicit permission from N-- Lt. Onn or myself. Is that clear?" He glances at Nia, and the back to Ens. Kylah. "With that said, I assume this ship probably has the capacity to get a message to Yorktown, and Mr. Kylah is right that we have every reason to want to do that." He spread his hands. "And I'm as good an escort as any."

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is, actually, sympathetic towards Kylah. It had been clear that no one was to wander off alone, but it was not his understanding that one needed to organize an escort for a trip to the cludgie one door down.

    For now, he goes along: "Fast asleep, in a separate cabin. We never considered how well sound carries across these doors and bulkheads, whether we could hear a hypothetical disturbance out in the corridor or Common Room.

    Medium-range subspace communications... I would not be surprised to find a sympathetic radio operator glad to help us with a short message for a mere token 500 credits or so."
    Last edited by stolz; 11 Jun 2024 at 02:44 PM.

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    Kylah keeps her chin high, but inwardly she cringes at Lt. Onn's dressing her down, especially in front of T'Ves, an Adept. Her hands drop to her sides, where she tightens them into fists in order to maintain her cool demeanor.

    She casts an apologetic glance toward Velir and Ens. Rawlings, who should not be blamed for her 'crime,' such as it was. At Lt. Graham's commanding words, she swallows and nods. "Yes, sir. Booker," she adds hastily. The Vulcan may know who and what they are, but Kylah fears getting mixed up by returning to their usual ranks and forms of address.

    When he volunteers to accompany her she fears he will lecture her the whole way. Perhaps she deserves it. In retrospect, it was foolish to walk about, even interacting with one of these aliens about whom they know so little. Nevertheless, Kylah dreads hearing Lt. Graham's disappointment--especially since it has been earned. Her gaze again flickers to Velir, wishing he would have volunteered to join her.

    "We will need to seek out Mr. Jol," she says softly to Lt. Graham. "He told me he is in charge of communications. I fear that means going to the Bridge. Shall we go?"

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    Graham grunts, glancing at Kylah and then the doctor. "Yeah, another shakedown for credits, I fear...well, whatever it takes," he grumbles.

    "Look..." he glances at his colleagues and the Vulcans. "Stay frosty, stay close, and stay near friends," he says. His gaze last lands on Nia. "And soon we'll put this whole thing well behind us."

    He nods to Kylah. "All right, let's go."

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    "Very good," is all Nia says, and it's not spoken with much confidence, but only a grateful look to Dr. M., and a grateful-and-apologetic look to Booker. She notices what seems like a mute plea from Kylah to Rangin. Nice try, but Nia's not letting Rangin loose again, after he went walkabout at the nightclub and ended up nearly dead and a killer, to boot. He still seems...off. They probably all do, maybe especially Nia, but Rangin's giving her odd vibes.

    Her mug is empty, and she'd like a refill. Licking her lips to no avail--her mouth's pretty dry, more than usual--Nia tries to stand but quickly discovers her legs are numb, as if asleep. Which is natural given slower circulation. So, masking the somewhat clumsy attempt as an effort to pull her chair closer to the table, she says mildly to Rawlings, "Sorry to ask, but you mind getting me another mug of...something, please? Not the coffee again, or whatever this was pretending to be. If they have something hot and spicy, like cider, that'd be great."

    The odds of getting something so specific are less than 10%, Nia suspects, but it won't hurt to ask. If Double-T agrees, she'll pass her mug to him and, afterward, turn back to T'Ves.

    "Um, sorry about all that. Discipline's a little...slack. Anyway, I'm realizing we've asked about the Chalnoths, but we don't know much more about the Uwat. Can you tell us anything? I mean, these guys in particular. All I know for sure so far is that they're slippery and money-hungry. They try to fleece you out of funds too?" She frowns. "Also, Jol said something about having control of people onboard. Any idea what that meant?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 12 Jun 2024 at 06:57 PM.

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    Graham and Kylah leave the Common Room and head towards the bow and, presumably, the Bridge. A Chalnoth watches them as they pass, but says nothing. They have not gone far when they come to a heavy gastight door which, unlike others, doesn't open as they approach. A comm panel is set into the bulkhead beside it.

    Rawlings says to Onn, "Sure, let me see what I can find for you." He goes over to the replicator.

    T'Ves replies to her, "No apology is necessary. I think that's a fair description of the Uwat. They have not been very long as a starfaring race, frankly, and are not as technologically sophisticated in most things as Vulcan... or Earth." She sips from her mug. "I am not certain what Jol meant about controlling people, however. Perhaps some defensive or anti-hijacking system we have not yet seen? Or perhaps a bluff?"

    Two of the roly-poly Uwat children enter the Common Room and look around.

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    At Lt. Graham's side, Kylah chews at her lower lip and takes little glances at him before she approaches the comm panel. "I hope they will allow us to speak confidentially." The wish is low and doubtful.

    Her fingers hover near the panel control, and Kylah is surprised to see them trembling. She did not realize her anxiety was so acute. The reason why quickly zaps her brain in a shock of recognition. "Sir," she whispers. "Even if they let us talk outside their hearing, we will not remain anonymous once the destination of our message is known. Do you think if we request complete privacy--likely for an extra fee--that might be enough?"

    An alternative possibility winks into existence, something not entire pleasant nor likely to keep their identities hidden...at least, not hers. Still, it is a valid solution. She keeps it in abeyance in case Lt. Graham prefers a different route.

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    Nia thanks Double-T with a nod and smile, watching his familiar figure walk away with an easy, smooth motion you rarely see from someone so large.

    Book's like that too, she notes, though with him the surprise at his grace doesn't stem from his breadth. He just looks too tough, too grim. He is both. But also, sometimes, neither. She's often felt fortunate--honored, even--to be let in enough to know his tender side: his gentleness, in gait and touch--

    She steers away from where her thoughts are headed, with an assist from the children's sudden arrival. They're cute. Well, almost, even if only in comparison to the adult Uwat. Don't be so judgy. You must look pretty damn creepy to them yourself.

    Allowing children on board a working vessel--other than passengers--seems crazy to her. Crazy but kinda... endearing. The Uwat must be family-oriented if they keep their young with them during voyages. Envy tightens her throat at the idea of having such a privilege. Of having a reason to need the privilege. The medical circumstances that began this whole mission loom over her like persistent storm clouds. And again, damn it, she thinks of Booker and Marala and her son. Their son.

    Oh fuck off, her mind barks, and she jerks her focus back to the Adept. "We saw them last night," she says with a slight, unobtrusive tilt of her head in the children's direction. "Or at least, kids like them. I was barely sentient, I'm not sure I'd recognize if they're the same ones."

    She eyes Mäkeläinen quizzically to find out whether they look the same to him. "Gotta say," she continues to T'Ves, "it seems...I'm not sure how to put it...unexpected, I guess, for the crew to keep family on board. With their apparent values, I'd've thought they'd rather use all space for paying passengers. You know whose they are?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 14 Jun 2024 at 02:10 PM.

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    Mäkeläinen sees Graham and Kylah head off. Is it really worth the exorbitant fee just to report (and broadcast their presence to anyone in the sector who might actually be looking for them) that, yes, they are still on the ship they reported boarding less than a day ago? Cannot hurt too much if they do it, though.

    He looks over at Rangin. He and Kylah were exchanging some odd looks. Well, he asked him to report any further unusual episodes. For now, he looks fine.

    He says, "I'll not be caught out discoursing at length on what I wot not, but the children's presence says something about Uwat social structure. The first officer mentioned that Uwat usually travel with their children. So, they keep them close. At the same time, he did not recognize whose descendants they were, even whether or not they were his own. Therefore the offspring are not completely fungible, but the effective parents seem to be the clan or community, in this case the ship, not individuals."

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    Graham sighs. "I suspect our hosts would focus on any opportunity to get paid that much more...whether to preserve our, ah, privacy...or as a result of learning, uh, more about us."

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    With a slow nod at Lt. Graham's concise but accurate suspicion, Kylah lowers her hand for a second. "I do not care so much what money it costs me," she murmurs. "But I do not trust that we can buy true privacy at any price."

    She exhales, straightens her shoulders and speaks at her usual volume on the off chance their conversation can be overheard, her look toward Lt. Graham now arch. "Well, we wished to call home, and so I shall. My family will take it quite amiss if I do not confirm that we are safely on our way." Arm rising again to let her fingertips brush the comm pad control, she requests entry.

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    The two Uwat children bumble around the room, including brushing up against Rangin's leg several times. He looks a little annoyed but forces a smile.

    Rawlings comes back from the replicator with a steaming mug of something purplish-brown for Onn. "I tasted it for you," he says. "It's definitely hot and spicy. If you hate it, don't worry, my feelings won't be hurt."

    T'Ves says quietly, "I do not know whose children they are, specifically, but am inclined to agree with Doc. Some cultures, including some quite advanced ones, bring their children along with them even in places and situations that might not seem entirely safe to us. They tend to place a higher premium on togetherness, shared formative experiences and communal living, and group child-rearing, than on safety, as such."

    Kylah has to press the comm button several times before someone answers: "Bridge. Who is this? What do you want?" She and Graham are not sure they recognize the voice, although it does sound like an Uwat.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 24 Jun 2024 at 11:03 PM.

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    After a quick questioning glance at Lt. Graham, Kylah responds to the voice. "Good morning, sir. It is two members of the Booker party. Mr. Booker and--" She calculates the use of being singled out due to her origins, and decides swiftly against it. "--And his daughter, Kylah."

    Surely the Uwat will not be able to tell she and Lt. Graham are not of the same race, much less the same family. Their complexions are not starkly different, especially as she is quite fair-skinned for an Elasian. She smiles apologetically to her superior, hoping he does not mind the temporary change in his royal status, and continues. "We are sorry to bother you, but First Officer Jol told us we might use your comm system to contact our people?"

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    Nia accepts the drink and tilts her head at Rawlings in a semblance of her usual playfulness. "You know my tastes pretty well, T. Did I ever have a problem with hot and spicy?" She grins and takes an experimental sip while listening to the others' words about the children. Even if the drink's repulsive she'll keep her face even and pleasant. It'd take one helluva bad brew to cause a Sidonian to bat an eye at a potable liquid's flavor.

    But as Mäkeläinen and T'Ves describe the Uwat community ideals, Nia stops drinking and looks over the rim of the mug to watch the charmingly clumsy children.

    On the one hand, putting children in harm's way, not just through the dangers of constant space travel but among a constant flow of strangers of dubious character, is immeasurably more abhorrent to a Sidonian than bad coffee. Still...

    "What privilege," she says softly--almost reverently. The grungy, ugly ship she's mocked might as well be a palace temple. "Imagine being able to share such gifts with one another. Instead of... hoarding them. Imagine never having to say goodbye."

    Imagine hearing 'hello.' Just once.

    Nia blinks when the familiar, fruitless itchy sensation stings her eyes. She refreshes her smile and greets the kids, making a beckoning gesture so they'll leave poor Rangin alone. "Hey. You guys speak Federation Standard?" Her gaze flickers for an instant to Mäkeläinen, then back to the children. "I don't remember asking you, Doc. Got any of your own?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 26 Jun 2024 at 10:23 PM.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen watches the children's antics benignly. Their playful innocence is a reminder to everyone that there is something beyond simply dealing with one crisis after another.

    He comments, "Some human captains, at least on Earth, used to do much the same thing, bring their families along. I do not know whether they had the run of the ship, though if not I imagine travel could quickly become wearisome."

    Nia's question nearly catches him off guard, but he answers honestly enough, "No, I do not. I would always be leaving them behind, or, were they somehow with me— not that we have that option— I would feel, if anything happened, that it was my fault for dragging them into it. Not because my ultimate premium is on safety as such, but if anyone is going to be taking on peril on my account, they should have a choice."

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    Graham cocks an eyebrow at Kylah's subterfuge. Surely he's old enough (at least by Terran standards and biology) to be her father.

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