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

  1. #1801
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    There is a brief pause, and then Jol's voice comes on the line: "You wish to send a subspace message? That could be done, yes, certainly. To whom, and how long will it be?"

    The Uwat children stop and stare at Onn, and one says something to the other. They each suddenly make a shrill noise which sounds like it might be laughter. They point at each other, then at Onn, then at each other again before running away, still making the laughter-noise.

    "Damn, they're annoying," Rangin, shaking his head, says when it's quiet again.

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    "They're just...young," Nia retorts mildly to Rangin, not entirely certain how to react to the apparent mockery and rejection by the children. Or maybe they're playing a game? Is she supposed to chase them? Since she's clueless, and since a mistake like running after kids for no reason could seem aggressive to any adult Uwat who catches her, Nia decides to stay put and pretend she's not embarrassed.

    She nods to Dr. M. "Makes sense. You have a career that's not exactly family-friendly. And you've got years ahead of you, if you ever want to change your mind. Another privilege," Nia adds, much more quietly. He'll know what she means.

    Clearing her throat, she turns to the Vulcan. "I wonder why the adults haven't taught them Fed Standard. Or at least haven't installed a Universal Translator that works with their language."

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    Graham glances at Kylah. "Not long," he replies. "And we'd prefer discretion in the matter of 'to whom.'"

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    Kylah nods. Mr. Jol knows--or at least, seems to have guessed--their tenuous position. Lt. Graham was wise to remind him of the need for privacy. She takes a deep breath and rests her clasped hands in front of her, prepared to be respectful but self-assured.

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    T'Ves says to Onn, "The same thought had occurred to me. Yet another illustration of just how different other cultures, and their childrearing practices, can be. Very unlike Vulcan... and, I suspect, Sidonia."

    Jol says, "A moment, please." After about a minute, the heavy door grinds open, revealing a dimly-lit corridor directly ahead, with several doors opening off to either side. Jol is standing there. "This way," he says, closing the door behind you and leading you down the corridor and then through the third door on your left. It is a cramped compartment, with another Uwat sitting at a control console there. Jol says, "This is Grod, our communications officer. She will help you."

    He speaks what sounds like a few sentences to her, to which she responds with just a couple of words. He grunts and turns to go.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen does not regret his career choices, just the opposite, but Nia is not wrong: should he choose to go in that direction, he could start a bonnie family. Now, or decades from now, or anytime in between. The same would be true for a typical human woman in Starfleet, and is so taken for granted it does not usually come up as an issue. What goes even more without saying is the principle that people have the autonomy to make such choices for themselves and the freedom to realize them. Ashamed at all she has been through, his eyes speak much, but what is there to say?

    They will get out of their present jam, and it is too early to know exactly what she has to look forward to, but he will do all he can to help her; at least medically he may be able to make a difference.

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    Nia is struck by Mäkeläinen's wordless but intensely expressive gaze, which is more personal than she's seen from him before. Of course, since her medical issues began spiraling, he's been sympathetic in an appropriately doctorish way...not that all doctors achieve it, case in point being Dr. Bennett and Bucci. (The former, in his short time onboard, being pretty consistently a dick--and not the good kind; the latter being almost excessively jovial to the point where Nia sometimes wants to slug him.)

    But she feels seen now, and while pity is never appreciated and certainly never intentionally sought, this silent empathy touches her. The doc gets it. She's not 100% sure even Book comprehends what she's been through, or what she's facing. He doesn't know, though, does he? He knows she's in grave risk from the hypobilitria, but not the less physically fatal fertility situation. And she can't fathom sharing it with him unless...

    Nia blinks this line of thought away, because there's only one circumstance she can picture where it would be relevant, and it's absurdly unrealistic.

    Ending the mental rumination, she sends a flash of a warmly appreciative and even tender smile to Mäkeläinen. She flits her gaze to Rawlings. "This is good, by the way," she says while lifting the mug. An exaggeration but not too much of one. If nothing else, the heat down her throat into her belly is a balm.

    Turning back to T'Ves, she gives a terse nod. "Sidonian culture is very... insular. And self-protective. Some would have been happy never to hear a different dialect, much less an entirely unknown language. But otherwise, you're right. Very much not like Sidonia." Nia moves quickly on. "Speaking of cultural differences, I'm sorry if you've mentioned this already, but: The others in your party. How long before they can start talking? Or is this vow of silence thing permanent? I don't mean to be offensive, it's just, um, a lot of discipline. I know you guys can communicate using some psi powers, though I forget exactly how that works. Is that allowed during this whole silent thing? Like a loophole?"

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    During the introduction Kylah has been trying to take a swift measure of whether she can spot any distinguishing gender characteristics, but Mr. Jol's quick leave-taking surprises her. She abruptly lifts a hand. "Just a--a moment, sir? I just want to make sure..." She faces Grod and realizes that it might be insulting to ask whether the Uwat officer is capable of understanding her. With little hesitation Kylah reframes the question mid-flow:

    "Forgive me, madam; is my accent clear enough? Mr. Jol may have grown used to it, but I have been told my pronunciation makes it difficult for translators to interpret. Sometimes I get lazy and forget to enunciate. Father has warned me about that," she says with a dutifully abashed look toward Lt. Graham.

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    The mention of “psi powers” catches Mäkeläinen's attention, both for obvious reasons in light of recent conversation (T'Ves said she did not sense anything unusual, though, did she not?), and more generally. Vulcans would not typically think of telepathy and such as extraordinary “powers”, though, would they?

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    Rawlings nods to Onn and smiles. "Glad you like it... or, at least, that it's palatable."

    T'Ves tells Onn, "I don't in the least mind answering your questions. Our Order has always sought a wider understanding of our calling among all lifeforms. Novitiates of our Order may not speak for three years, except when given permission to do so by an Adept under extraordinary circumstances, such as emergencies. Use of telepathy is also prohibited during that time; we consider it important that Novitiates focus on their inner spiritual life and become comfortable with solitude, even isolation, in every way. It is a useful skill and a necessary one, we have found over many centuries. There is no 'loophole,' as such, if I understand your idiom correctly."

    Jol pauses in the doorway. Grod says to Kylah, in a voice very similar to his but somewhat monotone, "Yes, I understand you. If there is any difficulty, Mr. Jol may return."

  11. #1811
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    Graham isn't at all sure what to do with the father-daughter schtick Kylah has spun up, but from the presence of Uwat children on the ship he can at least guess that their hosts place some value on filial relations.

    He clears his throat. "Very good...daughter." He nods. "I thank for your respect for our hosts, and not only our own needs."

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    "We are all of us, even untrained in the mental arts, even small children—" he indicates where the children have gone — "capable of wordless communication," Dr. Mäkeläinen observes. "But, later, it's not talking that might take as much discipline as any telepathy. I have met one or two people whom a vow of silence might do some good. Certainly it would have done their audience some good," he says wryly.

    "No one has sensed any— psychic broadcast, though?" he asks without even a flicker of a glance towards Rangin. "Forgive the crude terminology. The Uwat, for instance, communicate using sound? And scent, and visual cues? So much that the untrained observer can miss, especially if they are not aware to look for it."

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    About to apologize to T'Ves, in case her "loophole" remark might've been offensive, Nia is struck by Mäkeläinen's remark--which, at first, she thought was his tactfully chiding her for speaking too much.

    Then he talks about psychic broadcasts and she inspects his face more carefully. What the hell? Nia glances at the others and ends on Rawlings, mainly because Booker's not here. Frowning, she tries to send him a wordless message of her own--Did something happen last night?--but isn't really sure how to convey that in a mere look. She suspects she just appears confused. Which is essentially how she's felt for two days.

    Yet again Nia chastizes herself for not getting caught up on whatever went on once she conked out after they boarded. And she vows to get briefed, ASAP.

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    Daughter. Kylah freezes, not having expected... whatever this reaction is, flooding her cheeks with heat and forcing a swell of emotion to catch her words in her tightened throat.

    It has been a long time since she heard anyone call her daughter. Even before her parents died, they had stopped addressing her in this manner. Of course, Lt. Graham's tone is rather stiff--like her own father's, to be truthful. There is no paternal feeling in it, which is understandable as he likely does not understand why she has done this. Further, he is not an actor, nor wears a facade easily.

    But he is an older male whom she cares for, and who has been very kind and protective, and...and... it is surprising how this unnatural, strained word triggers a deep longing. Lt. Graham's daughter should pray nightly for her good fortune.

    She lifts her fingertips to her eye, brushing away a tear under the guise of sweeping her hair from her forehead. "Thank you," she murmurs, aiming the words at both Lt. Graham and Grod, and hurries ahead so neither will notice her irrelevant emotion. "Do please let me know if I am unclear," she says to the latter. "We wish to send a message to Elas, a planet in the Tellun System. The recipient is Regency Councillor Aldaan, in the Palace of the House of the Silver Weeping Tree."

    Easily she relates the frequency and technical details required--although, given her ignorance of exactly where they are and lack of access to a subspace beacon map, she must leave the precise method and journey up to the Doregg officer.

    Then, a flash of inspiration hits her, and she lowers her voice in apparent concern. "It does not matter that we Elasians are not part of the Federation, does it?"

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    Rangin looks briefly uncomfortable but says, "The Uwat certainly communicate with us, and with each other, by sound. Visual cues, too, I suppose, since they do use at least some gestures. Don't know that they communicate with each other in any other way, but I suppose it's possible." He grimaces a little. "Sure would be nice to have a tricorder, huh?"

    Onn isn't sure if Rawlings picks up on her unspoken signal. He is paying attention to Dr. Mäkeläinen.

    Grod seems not to care in the least what relation Graham and Kylah may be to each other. She presses about a dozen disparate keys on her board, the controls of which baffle Kylah, and after a few moments says, "Yes, I can send a message to that person. At this distance, subspace transmission time will be just under two hours. It does not matter that Elas is not a Federation member; we are not, either. Do you wish to send a text, audio or audiovisual message? Each is more expensive than the last. The longer or more complex, the more expensive, as well."

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    If neither T'Ves, nor Rangin himself, has noticed any (respectively, any further) "psychic" events--- Mäkeläinen thinks if pressed he might even remember a few relevant native Vulcan terms from eclectic reading--- there is not much to pursue without someone working a science station or, as Rangin just said, a tricorder.

    Of course now Nia is giving him an inquisitive look; what did he expect? So are Rawlings and T'Ves. For now he replies to Rangin, "True. And given one it couldn't hurt to confirm that there is nothing leaking through these deck plates besides heat, while we were at it. It's not a concrete theory, though I would be surprised if the Uwat were not sensitive to various things we would never normally notice, high frequencies of sound for example, and vice versa."

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    "Money is irrelevant," Kylah mutters distractedly, frowning as she contemplates the various methods the Uwat has laid out for them. "I think video would be best. His Serenity Aldaan will wish to ensure it is really I. We," she corrects herself with another respectful bob of her head to Lt. Graham. "Of course videos can be faked..."

    Another thought has struck her and she begs Grod's forgiveness. "May we have a moment to consider what we ought to convey? I am sorry, I did not think what to say earlier before we made this request. And I wish to be clear. I do not get to speak with His Serenity as often as I wish, you see, and now I am a little nervous..." The words are still fairly random and distracted while thoughts ping around her mind like popcorn in a pot.

    With a soft "I crave your indulgence, Father?" she reaches for Lt. Graham's hand, clutching his fingers like a child needing guidance crossing a street, and tries to draw him away to a private niche, if there is one--and if he agrees.

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    T'Ves sips her tea. In response to Dr. Mäkeläinen's observation, she says, "That is certainly possible."

    Grod does not seem put out by Kylah's request. She simply says, "I will wait for you here."

    The communications chamber is small and there is no private niche. There is the corridor outside, but the doors along it are all closed.

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    "My high-frequency hearing is very good, typically," Nia replies, somewhat randomly in response to Dr. M's musings. "I haven't heard anything, for what it's worth. Any particularly low-frequency tones'll have to be your responsibility. My hearing's not so hot anyway, at least compared to humans."

    She's mostly speaking to keep herself awake, which is also why she's busy drumming her fingertips along the rim of her mug. "We do need tricorders. It's absurd that they're confiscated. I suppose they'll charge us a holding and release fee to get 'em back. Did they do the same to you, T'Ves? I don't know what if any devices you had on you, but was there anything taken because it was... what did Jol call it? Contraband."

    It just occurs to her that it's likely only because it was Starfleet tech that the 'contraband' label applied. But if there was anything valuable held by the Sisters--wait, no, Daughters--they'd probably been relieved of it too.

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    With no very private area, Kylah still prefers to draw Lt. Graham from the small Communications chamber to the corridor. Perfect must not be the enemy of the good.

    Once the door closes behind them and she ensures they are a good enough distance from the chamber they just left, Kylah stares humbly at Lt. Graham and begins in as quiet a voice as she can expect him to hear. "I am sorry, sir. This likely seems convoluted. But I just realized that of course, you would know best what message I should relay to Aldaan--my Guardian," she adds, realizing that while Lt. Graham knows she has an uncle, she might not have used his name before.

    "At any rate... I can convey any message you wish. We have a sort of...a silly code. A childhood game," she adds hurriedly, glancing down for a second. "So whatever you want to get across to... our people... it should be safe. He will relay it to whomever we wish."

    For a flash she has an instant of concern about whether Aldaan will actually obey her request, but then, she did him a tremendous service with his comrades back on Novy Rostov. This should not be a boon he would deny her. Her eyes brighten and she squeezes Lt. Graham's hands with a little pleasant pride.

    "And it will serve two purposes. First, to speak confidentially, but second, to ensure my identity to Uncle Aldaan. Video, audio and text can be faked, but not this code. He and I are the only ones who know it. Tell me what I should say overtly, and what--if anything--you think should be conveyed covertly, within the lines. About Vel--Ginran, or Nia's status--perhaps they have suggestions as they may know her needs better than we do."

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen neutrally studies Nia.

    He cannot think of many reasons why a tricorder would be truly contraband, per se. They are not dangerous or highly powered items. He has had the thought that if the Uwat are as zealous about upholding their customers' privacy as they claim, or at least about their own, then a bunch of tricorders loose on board certainly would not do. The range may be limited, but in the right hands one may detect, and log, a lot of things. Individual bio-signatures, for instance, even through a wall or two. Signals, including cloaked or encrypted ones. A tricorder could even be programmed to broadcast, though that would do little good unless a ship were already following closely.

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    Graham raises an eyebrow at Kylah's revelation. He has to grant it's a clever exploitation of whatever family thing she's got going on. He clears his throat and ducks down so he's closer to Kylah. "Straightforward story about location and destination out loud," he says as softly as he can. "Message for...uh, mother ship: pressing medical need, life at risk..." He pauses a moment to compose himself. "Lt. Onn's."

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    Grod sits patiently at her comm console as Kylah and Graham step out into the corridor to talk.

    T'Ves says, "We do not make as much use of technology as Starfleet does, but yes, we had several devices which were collected by the Uwat when we came aboard: communicators and data tablets. No weapons, of course."

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    It is difficult to keep from beaming her pleasure at Lt. Graham's agreement with her plan. But this is a serious situation and pride is unseemly, especially once he speaks of Lt. Onn. Only inches away, Kylah senses a faint chill of dread flashing from the Lieutenant before it is quickly smothered.

    After a solemn nod, Kylah begs his pardon and walks alone a few steps closer to the corridor wall, hugging herself while she stares down at the deck. She is not seeing it. Her mind is busy calling forth the dozens of different songs and instrumental pieces Aldaan taught her, and those she composed by herself.

    The lyrics are immaterial. Their code is music-based, and information is imparted via notes, tempo, intervals...even rests and note durations add nuance.

    Now Kylah is daunted by the paucity of musical vocabulary she may use. The instruments she usually plays are capable of chords, of counterpoint melodies, and a breadth of range that no Elasian voice can hope to achieve. Adding all these together has always allowed Kylah to convey an extraordinary amount of complex data to Aldaan.

    With nothing but her voice--which she has not used for singing in some while and is likely ill-prepared to ascend or descend to much of her vocal cords typical three-octave range--she can use only one melody line. Kylah must limit herself to craft the simplest of messages.

    She closes her eyes and breathes a hum, very soft, as her fingers press against her crossed arms as if playing a keyboard instrument. It takes her longer than she wishes, and with a reddened face, she finally turns back to Lt. Graham. "Forgive me," she murmurs. "It has been a while. I am ready now."

    They are not very far down the corridor, and it takes Kylah only a few steps to return to the comm panel and request to be let in. If Grod allows them without difficulty, Kylah will walk up to the Uwat officer and bob her head. "Thank you for your forbearance, ma'am. We are ready, when convenient for you."

  25. #1825
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    Mäkeläinen says to Nia, “I agree it's silly, and moreover we could badly use some of those devices right now. I will say this for our hosts, though: in exchange for exorbitant amounts of credit we were promised, among other things, a certain amount of discretion and anonymity. Not being subject to random scans from other passengers could be in support of that; at least they seem consistent about it, and we weren't singled out.” He smiles, “They could also be systematically reverse-engineering every piece of portable tech they get their hands on. Let us not forget to ask for our stuff back before we alight.”

  26. #1826
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    Nia's nearly nodding off when T'Ves's remark jolts her awake. "Yikes, ix-nay on the arfleet-Stay," she blurts with a casual sidelong look toward the Vulcan--who, she realizes belatedly, likely hasn't had the pleasure of learning weird old Terran joke languages from a hot human chef. Well, you never know. Ajay gets around. "I mean... the less we mention certain unpopular organizations, the better."

    To Dr. M., she nods and lets her head lean against her palm, bestowing a tired, wry smile. "Yeah we don't need to create another Sigma Iota situation. But now you make me curious about how our massive hairy fellow passengers took to getting their toys taken away. Can you see them agreeing to it without a fight? They must really have had no other way to travel. Or Jol does some way to control us."

    She hesitates, then takes a curious look at his non-biological arm. "You don't mind my asking about that, do you? Nothing too personal--although I wouldn't mind learning a bit more about you. I've been wondering about its capabilities. Your capabilities," she corrects herself. "That's as much you as any other, uh, extremity." Nia's smile quirks slightly but she returns to a more professional expression. "Speaking as an engineer...that's a fine piece of equipment. What's it do that the other one can't?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 18 Jul 2024 at 02:55 PM.

  27. #1827
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    “Jol does have a way to control us,” says Bizhi. “This is his and his colleagues' ship, they run it, and it is a long walk home if it does not suit.”

    As for the mention of his arm, he was not expecting it. He would just as soon it not come up as a subject for claver, and it is not something everybody needs to know about. He covers any reaction by lowering his eyes as he rolls up his left sleeve. The arm and hand are currently covered in high-quality synthflesh, although there are telltale seams if one knows where to look; it was meant as integument, not perfect camouflage.

    “If you were hoping for a devastating secret weapon you'll be disappointed. While there is currently a laser on it, that is for delicate cuts and incisions; if you wanted to do gross damage it would be vastly quicker to break a glass or use the cutlery.

    “More metal than flesh below the elbow. But you are right about the engineering: it is well-made in the best fabs in the Federation for this style of bionics—” Martian, of course— “so balance is not an issue. In fact, while being able to configure small tools— you've seen the torch— is obviously useful, the principal thing it can do that the other can't, is hold itself and hold tools completely steady, or move precisely, and it doesn't get tired. Invaluable for surgery, and for loosening stubborn jar lids.”

    He would definitely have an advantage arm-wrestling, however the mechanical parts are still anchored to flesh and bone so there is a definite limit on how much force can be applied; there are not going to be any miraculous feats of strength. It does not take too much imagination (so it seems to him) to reason that a cybernetic arm set up like his could, with a little creativity, prove invaluable in an emergency with non-medical uses as well, like if they had to pop open a sealed access panel without any tools, but Bizhi does not feel the need to point any of that out.

    The trauma of his injury is not a pleasant memory. He goes silent for a moment as he involuntarily relives it. He knows there were things he could have done differently. Too late now.
    Last edited by stolz; 20 Jul 2024 at 12:50 PM.

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    Grod lets Graham and Kylah back into the Comm Room at once. "I am ready," she says. She reactivates the comm console. "So: do you wish to send a text, an audio or audiovisual message?"

    T'Ves nods, looking as abashed as a Vulcan can. "Of course. Please forgive my indiscretion." She thinks for a moment, then finishes her tea and stands. "I should check on my sisters now, if you will excuse me."

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