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

  1. #451
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    Rangin catches the restart of the hearing and the now insistence of pleading guilty. He slumps in his chair slightly as if all the interest in what he is doing is being sucked away. So much for looking further into any medical ailments that Hutchinson might be suffering as the guilty verdict is just going to wrap up everything neatly. Too neatly really, Rangin wonders what mitigation the accused is going to pull out to reduce the sentence to a few years instead of decades. People don’t just quietly give up like that without something in their back pocket.

    He leans back and waits to hear what happens next. At least if this trial ends quickly he can find Kylah and ask those questions about the communicator.

  2. #452
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    Interesting that Hutchinson was apparently offered (and she refused) a court martial. He thought she was a pure civilian?

    Bizhi notices Kylah becoming increasingly agitated. What is she thinking about? To him, so far, it is still a tawdry coda to a gruesome affair. Murder--- an awful crime, yet such a peculiarity of humans (and related cultures). Are they not supposed to be exploring the galaxy? Yet, here they are, harming each other and squabbling amongst themselves. If not murder, then war. Surely, from some beings' perspective we are all squirming ants. Then again, to anyone operating on that level, who knows if there be not things unimaginably worse than murder?

  3. #453
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    After many more questions, Singh finally asks Hutchinson, "How do you plead, then, to a charge of homicide in the first degree, alleging that you killed your wife, Patricia Hutchinson, by poisoning, while on active duty as a commissioned officer of Starfleet, at Starbase 9 on or about Stardate 3142.7?"

    "Guilty."

    "How do you plead to a charge of homicide in the first degree, alleging that you killed your son, Kevin Hutchinson, a minor, age 7, also by poisoning, while on active duty as a commissioned officer of Starfleet, at Starbase 9 on or about Stardate 3142.7?"

    "Guilty."

    "And how do you plead to a charge of obstruction of justice, having been then under official investigation and having left your assigned post contrary to the direct order of a superior officer, thereby intending to remove yourself from the lawful authority of the Federation, while on active duty as a commissioned officer of Starfleet, at Starbase 9 on or about Stardate 3142.7?"

    "Guilty."

    Singh nods somberly. "By the authority vested in me by Starfleet Command, I accept your pleas and find you guilty of all three charges. Do the other members of this court-martial panel concur with my decision?"

    "Yes, ma'am," says Capt. Potter.

    "I do, Madame President," says Capt. Norita.

    "Very well. Does the defense wish to proceed to sentencing at this time?"

    "No, thank you, Madame President," Atty. Emily Martin says. "I am authorized by my client to request that she be given the benefit of a pre-sentence investigation."

    "Mr. Baird?" Singh says to the lead prosecutor.

    "No objection, Madame President."

    "In light of the seriousness of the crimes to which defendant has just pled guilty," Singh says after a pause, "I will grant the defense request. We will reconvene here for sentencing at 0900 hours, three days from now. Anything else from the Federation?"

    "No, ma'am."

    "Or the defense?"

    "No, thank you, ma'am."

    Singh nods. "Then the defendant is hereby remanded, pending sentencing. We are adjourned." With the mallet, she raps the ancient ship's bell on the table twice more.

    Everyone stands as the three captains and then the defendant, her lawyer and the guards leave. The room is filled again with the low buzz of conversations.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 01 Mar 2022 at 04:33 PM.

  4. #454
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    Nia's fingers alternate between stretching out and clenching into fists. She's restless and aggravated, and once the panel exits she turns to those nearest her to speak softly. "This whole process and the rules and laws are all well beyond my pay grade. What's a pre-sentencing investigation? If Hutchinson's guilty, he's--she's--"

    Nia stops. No, she refuses, she refuses to give in to a pretense she finds offensive. Singh may have no choice but to accede to the killer's claim that this sex-change was anything other than a scheme to flee justice. Nia won't play along.

    She tightens her jaw and barely manages to avoid rolling her eyes before going on. "--They're guilty. The victims are just as dead as they were before their murderer had a swell of belated remorse. What's left to investigate?" Nia hesitates, suddenly wondering if Booker would be involved. It's not a shipboard matter, and Starfleet must already have their own people taking care of stuff like this back in the original scene of the crime, or jurisdiction, or whatever you'd call it. Still... she can't prevent herself from darting a look at him. "And who does the investigating?"

  5. #455
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    Kylah stands along with everyone else, but just looks at the exit behind which Ms. Hutchinson, her attorney and the panel disappeared. Her curiosity is on high boil. She hopes she may attend the sentencing in three days.

    Sighing to herself, she turns back and finds Dr. Mäkeläinen again. It is absurd to avoid approaching a new colleague out of some hypothetical judgment by others of her male-focused attention. Kylah is not likely under such a spotlight, even if it sometimes seems so. She gives a mental tsk at her paranoia and moves to him.

    "Good afternoon, Doctor," she says cordially. "How is your second day aboard the Yorktown? Let us hope this is not very representative of the sort of thing you'll encounter during our travels." Kylah glances at the door again. "I found it all captivating, if it is not too ghoulish to admit. It is all new to me. Have you ever been part of such proceedings?"

    Hearing her own question, she is aghast at how intrusive it sounds. What if someone he knows was killed? Or if he has had his own legal problems in the past? What an inelegant turn in the conversation. Kylah's mother would be disdainful, and rightfully so.

    She hurries on. "Oh--I meant as a professional witness, as a doctor, not--not--I am sorry, it is none of my business."

  6. #456
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Once again, Graham isn't sure if Lt. Onn is intending to ask him, personally, a question or not, but the surprise of her eyes on him while he was trying to puzzle out what just happened makes his response almost purely instinctive.

    "I don't know, Nia," he replies in a low voice, rubbing the back of his neck. He frowns, looks down, and shakes his head slightly. "It's a serious charge, but a PSI on what looks like premeditated murder and carefully planned flight...?"

    Now he looks back at Nia, now slightly embarrassed by perhaps answering a question that wasn't meant for him. "Ah...it seems as likely to surface information that makes the defendant less sympathetic, rather than deserving some leniency..."

  7. #457
    Stegodon stolz's avatar
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen smiles wryly. "I know what you meant. And I have been in the middle of unpleasant investigations before. But give evidence in a general court martial? For desertion and murder? Not even close. Not the kind of thing one expects to see too much of in Starfleet.

    "I'm not here for fun—not that you are [he is beginning to feel Kylah appreciates clarity on such points], or anyone else is—at least we'd better hope not—but they are going to open a medical investigation for sure. Not only because of the black-market identity masking. Even if the defendant admitted guilt, there could still be an issue of determining whether she was in her right mind, whatever that means under the circumstances. Or other matters they did not mention in public. You heard them call for a three-day pre-sentence investigation. So, some of us—he tilts his head to indicate Dr. Villa as well—are going to be involved, one way or another. I just got here, as you pointed out, but it's my duty to see how I may help."

  8. #458
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    The rest of the day passes without incident. The next morning, the Captain announces that the Yorktown will be breaking orbit, after resupply and maintenance, the afternoon of Hutchinson's sentencing. You each receive a message in your personal comm account offering you an additional 24 hours' shore leave, effective immediately.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 03 Mar 2022 at 09:37 AM.

  9. #459
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Making sure Marala isn't around to see, Graham enters a message to Cmdr. Vargas:

    Sir- Permission requested to leave the ship with Marala during shore leave, for our honeymoon, as it were. - Lt. Jg. Graham

  10. #460
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    Pleased by the extra day off, Kylah has taken a longer time for her shower and general morning routine. "Longer" being a relative term: it is excessive for her life in Starfleet, true, but the time and care with which she has applied various skin lotions, braided her lightly perfumed hair, and applied her makeup are normal--even efficient--for a woman of her class back home. Still clad in her silk robe, she pads to the mirror by her closet door to see the result.

    Why--I look like Sitraa!

    Her sister is six years younger, and in addition to being exquisitely skilled at beautification--far more so than Kylah--Sitraa has a talented servant who dresses her hair. Yet Kylah and Sitraa do share the same black hair and dark eyes, though the younger girl’s are warm brown, not jet black. Similar rounded faces, too. Kylah's has thinned out over the past couple of months--but that same weight loss has brought her closer to Sitraa in body shape.

    Of course the resemblance is not hereditary: as an adoptee, Kylah shares no blood with her family. Still, it has been quite some time since she has displayed the proper bearing and appearance of a member of the Royal House of the Silver Weeping Tree.

    The makeup is considerably toned down from the glittering jewel tones typically worn on Elasian lips and eyelids. Kylah has chosen a sheer, glossy raspberry color for her lips, and just a hint of translucent silver eye powder, with a shimmer barely seen except in direct light. But it emphasizes her dark eyes in a way that makes her smile. Vanity is something in which she has not indulged for ages.

    Not since Omicron Ceti III.

    Her expression dims. That is not a night she wants to remember. By now, though, it is easy to push the thoughts away, pack them into a section of memories she wishes never to access again.

    Kylah tosses her head and moves to her desk and the terminal. Accessing the net, she searches for recreation opportunities on the planet. A spark of an idea piques her interest and she changes from the general to specific.

    LOCATE: Parks with publicly accessible bodies of water. Boat rentals. Then, after some further thought and a playful, sideways smile: Nearby pub with hamburgers on menu.

    After starting the search, she shifts her attention from the results to her communicator. But--instead of contacting Velir, as intended--she begins a quick note to her superior officer:
    THALEN, LT. Good morning, sir. For some time you have graciously suggested that I participate in the Lyceum. I have not found myself able to do so, but I hope you know it was not
    She pauses to see if her search results found anything that suits her plans.

  11. #461
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    Shore leave? Nuh-uh. Thanks but no thanks, Captain.

    Instead, Nia's going to work herself into a stupor of exhaustion.

    She's uniformed up--an older one, stained and kinda worn, that she keeps around for this purpose because to her there's no sense messing up multiple uniforms. Her hair's in its standard low ponytail and her right hand clasps the lever of the turbolift as it thrums down to Deck 20.

    Her mind is occupied with silently reciting every single one of the design changes and tech additions made to her baby, her Tesla. She doesn't need this list as a reminder--it's rote by now, given how much time she's spent in the shuttle that's being used as a test bed for a variety of experimental upgrades.

    The Tesla's not really hers, of course. She just feels proprietary, protective of the little craft. At some point it'll be out of her hands. Like everything else in her life.

    Nope, she's reciting because it fills her brain with information instead of emotion. Or memories.

    Because when Booker called her Nia yesterday after the hearing, possibly without thinking, probably forgetting she'd only just been Lt. Onn to him not long before...it flooded her with the many ways his lips have uttered her name, the many shades his voice could add to it and make her laugh or grin or melt or just delight in the delicious heat suffusing every part of her body.

    At that point, to her horror, right in front of him, she felt prickles behind her eyes--pretty much the closest she gets to crying.

    Sidonian biology has generally evolved away from producing tears, learning over generations to save precious body fluids. But the ability to cry still exists--barely. It hasn't been completely winnowed out of her race. Triggering it is very rare, and for most Sidonians it's born only from the most extreme pain, the most all-consuming grief.

    Unfortunately, Nia's known both. She's shed tears at least five times in her life. But hearing Booker Graham say her name sure as hell wasn't gonna add to the list--she's not let herself get that insanely attached to a man yet. Still, she panicked. She muttered a "thanks" to Booker for the information and practically fled the chamber.

    Annnd here she's doing it again. Memories and emotions, damn them to the forever burning ashes of her planet's Northern reaches.

    She mutters a not-so-silent fuck, let me out of here already and as if on cue, the doors open and allow her to stride toward the Shuttlecraft Maintenance bay.

    The familiarity of her surroundings washes over her like a blissful wave, cooling her and waking her up. Nia can't help but give a relieved sigh of homecoming when she spots the Tesla in its usual place.

    The fight with the Klingons over that Aelyrr codex thing left some damage, both to the shuttle and one of its crew members who Nia is abso-fucking-lutely not going to think about But anyway, it happened under her command. Causing damage is anathema to her. She has engineering in her blood, almost as much as flying. Fixing things, making them better, that is what she's supposed to do.

    And, trying to muster the strength of Sid'Os and Lia'Nel'Seht*, Nia vows to fulfill that purpose.

    She smiles, jogs forward and calls out to see if any of the engies are working on the Tesla.






    * - If curious, see brief descriptions of these deities here, under Religious Culture..
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 04 Mar 2022 at 03:04 AM.

  12. #462
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    Graham soon has a texted response, Permission gladly granted. In fact, take 48 hours - the least I can do for the newlyweds! VARGAS.

    Beta Antares IV boasts the large (over a thousand square kilometers, about a third the size of Rhode Island) and beautiful Armstrong Park. It has several lakes of varying sizes, a well-reviewed restaurant near the main entrance, Nataliya's, with burgers and many other things on the menu, and a boat rental firm. Does Kylah wish a motorized, sail or person-powered boat (such as a canoe or rowboat)?

    The shuttlecraft Tesla has been completely repaired since its damaging on the Aelyrr mission, of course. Spec/1 Therin, a maintenance tech, is hunched over its partly-disassembled starboard nacelle, with several dozen parts and tools strewn across the deck nearby. The young, craggy Andorian man stands respectfully as Onn approaches. "Good morning, ma'am," he says.

  13. #463
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is not so burnt out after only a day or so aboard that he feels a pressing need to beam off the ship for a few hours, nor does he think that would make a good first impression. He first checks with Dr. Villa to see if he can be useful around the sick bay or on any other medical tasks.

  14. #464
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    Graham smiles slightly. Old Man Vargas must've got up on the right side of the bed this morning, he thinks.

    He rubs his chin, trying to come up with some clever way to tell Marala.

  15. #465
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    Kylah smiles, happy that her hoped-for plans are indeed possible. Before arranging things, she returns to the unfinished note to Lt. Thalen.
    THALEN, LT. Good morning, sir. For some time you have graciously suggested that I participate in the Lyceum. I have not found myself able to do so, but I hope you know it was not for lack of interest in or gratitude for your invitation. Circumstances have kept me from such activities.

    May I still accept your invitation? I am eager to participate, and would especially like to join a music ensemble, if there are any available positions. I have the Vulcan lute that was lent to me, but would be happy to play any string instrument for which there is a need. Otherwise I am also a capable player of certain woodwind instruments, such as flutes of various types or some of the smaller reed pipes.

    Do you know of any openings, sir? Thank you very much. -- KYLAH, ENS.
    She looks it over with a little thrill of anxiety that is not unpleasant, and sends the message. That accomplished--and it does indeed feel like an accomplishment--she sets the communicator down temporarily to reread the information she called up.

    After registering that the boat options include a rowboat, she furrows her brow in instinctive distaste. A vessel they would have to propel themselves? Physical labor is almost completely unknown to her. And asking Velir to use the... rowing paddles, or whatever they are called... while she sits idly by would be an insult. Such a job is for a servant or a subordinate.

    Velir might be adept at sailing. She will have to find out before she reserves anything. When she glances down at her communicator again, she realizes she does not even know if Velir already has plans today. Perhaps she is presuming too much?

    The answer to her own question surprises her. Strangely, she feels confident that... no. It is not presumptuous. He will wish to see her, too.

    Kylah inhales deeply, relishing the peace that comes from such atypical self-assurance. Then she flips open the communicator. "Ensign Kylah to Lt. Rangin."

  16. #466
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    Dr. Villa welcomes Dr. Mäkeläinen back to Sickbay. She says, "I was just about to conduct a yearly physical on a crewmember, but I have a huge pile of paperwork I really need to get to. Would you mind doing the physical? Oh, and what did you think of the court-martial yesterday?"

    After a few minutes Kylah sees on her communicator's small text screen the response, Great! Thanks, Kylah. We'd be glad to have you play with the Lyceum. You pick the instrument you want to play; I'm sure we could find a place for just about any of them. We have a concert planned for next week, if that wouldn't be too soon. THALEN.

    Rangin's communicator beeps.

  17. #467
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    Nia greets the tech and sort of pats the air, silently assuring him that he doesn't need to rise for her. She squats down herself to encourage him. "Good to see you again, Therin. And I am so glad to get back here." Her words have the warm emphasis of a soldier having returned home from battle.

    Which is pretty much how she feels. During the Novy Rostov emergency, all the restrictions, overcrowding and tight scheduling prevented pretty much all non-essential work. Even though it's been a few days since those restrictions were lifted, her energy's been consumed by personal crap. But the Tesla offers the perfect productive way to set all that aside.

    Now her eyes scan the nacelle, then the array of its disassembled parts, with almost avaricious interest. "So what's all this then? And what did that poor nacelle ever do to you?" Nia grins to defuse the joke--you never know with techs, they can get defensive--and continues her speculation. Just a private little game to test her assessment skills: can she figure out what's being done before Therin tells her?
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 05 Mar 2022 at 02:45 PM.

  18. #468
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    "Thank you, ma'am, and welcome back," Therin says. He does not seem at all defensive. "The starboard nacelle's warp field coil was slightly out of synch with the port coil in the most recent diagnostic we ran." That's about what Onn suspected, from what she could see. He goes on, "Nothing dangerous, but not optimal, either. I couldn't figure out, just from an exterior scan or telemetry download, what the problem was, so I thought I'd better open it up and take a look inside. So here we are."

  19. #469
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    24 hours of shore leave, well Rangin is not going to waste it if it is right there on offer. Walk around a starship, or get back to nature and see some more of the wildlife on the planet below.

    Admittedly he could do with catching up with Kylah, but it can wait for a day. As for the research on Hutchinson, well it was an interesting read, but that is as far as it will go.

    But…but…but… Rangin shakes his head at the constant stream of his thoughts and wonders if he is playing good news, bad news with himself. Given everything, that game is either too easy or too close to real life, so best not to think about it right now. 'But' nothing indeed.

    He is on the verge of contacting Lt. Cmdr. Roble when his communicator beeps, so he picks it up to see what it is.

    Rangin smiles, it’s Kylah contacting him for some reason and he wonders what it might be and the only way to find out would be to answer.

    “Hello Kylah, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

  20. #470
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    Mäkeläinen tells Villa, "Certainly, I can do the physical.

    "The court-martial, it was very... formal. I knew next to nothing about the case going in, and was not sure at first what it had to do with us, beyond the fact the Yorktown was at Novy Rostov. That a Star Fleet officer could snap like that—not a pleasant thought. Who knows what the court members make of it, especially since Hutchinson pleaded guilty and avoided an actual trial. Speaking as a doctor, there is a lot to understand there, though I am not sure if any of it will have any legal relevance, assuming the defendant was compos mentis."

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    Dr. Villa nods. "That's just about how I see it, too. The defense didn't suggest he, I mean she, was at all mentally impaired, and didn't ask for a psych eval. For what it's worth, she seemed to be articulate, fully oriented and aware of what was going on. Well, in any event, thank you, Doctor." She hands him a data tablet. "Your patient is Ens. Horst Leventhal. He just arrived and is in the examination room, right over there."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 08 Mar 2022 at 06:30 PM.

  22. #472
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    "Huh," Nia exhales in a combination of interest and puzzlement, and her fingers absently pinch her chin while she thinks aloud. "The nacelles out of sync. And after the first and only time the Tesla's seen action. Well, since all the latest upgrades, anyway..."

    She frowns, sending her memories back to the incident three months ago. "Meyer did his usual immaculate pre-flight check before we got onboard," she murmurs, half to herself. "And I double-checked. There's no way we'd've missed something like that. As far as the excursion itself..."

    Mentally, she runs over the unorthodox plan to ambush and catch the three rogue Klingons responsible for stealing a unique holy artifact. At Nia's suggestion, when the Yorktown gave chase to the fleeing Klingon shuttlecraft, the Tesla --powered off and thus invisible to the enemies' sensors--was nestled in the ship's warp bubble as if hitching a ride.

    At the last possible minute, the Yorktown released the shuttle, letting Nia bring the Tesla to life again while the Yorktown distracted the enemy with a nifty upward arc.

    At least, that's what was supposed to happen. Unfortunately, the ship's Nav officer--Thanks a lot, CeCe--had been a couple of seconds late making their move, because instead of the Klingons being scared shitless by the overhead approach of the massive Constitution-class ship looming above, the bastards spotted the Tesla sneaking beneath them to target their underbelly.

    No way that would've happened without a delay on the ship's part, tiny though it was. As a result, the Tesla caught some hostile fire.

    But it was nothing serious, Nia remembers dismissively. She'd pulled off some slick barrel rolls to evade further attacks while the Klingons were quickly disabled by expert shooting from both Collins on the Yorktown and Booker in the shuttle.

    She rises to her feet, still outside the Tesla but imagining the view from within. That's right: Booker had been in the co-pilot's seat by her side. Just like in the Kaku last week.

    "We only took a single blast to our forward shields, barely a tap," Nia says after a pause. She places an affectionate palm on the shuttle's cool metal hull, then glances back at the disassembled nacelle. "Nothing that could have somehow jarred this puppy out of sync. Anyway it would've been caught during repairs."

    Nia pivots to Therin, her smile almost aggressively chipper. "Well, it's been caught now, so that's a damn good job. I'm happy to help dig into it, if you want. Just toss me a spanner or hydrocoil integrator and put me to work."




    See Mission #4, Codex Aelyrr. Nia's strategy for the Tesla begins its execution about here.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 08 Mar 2022 at 06:33 PM.

  23. #473
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    Kylah straightens at the sound of Velir's voice and rushes through the usual opening pleasantries--wishing him a good morning and so on. Then she looks at the monitor with the information about the park. "I was hoping to go down to the planet again for some more fresh air and nature and... If you do not already have plans, would you like to join me? There is a park and a lake, very large and beautiful, and I thought we could go there, if the weather is suitable--"

    She scowls at herself. She should have checked that first. "--Well, I so enjoy being near water. Does that interest you? We could even rent a boat and some time just... enjoying things... and maybe take some lemonade or something, and perhaps have something to eat afterwards. I must reserve a craft, and may choose between motorboats and sailboats. But I admit I do not know how to operate them. Which probably does not surprise you," she adds with a little smile while anxiously twisting a loose tendril of hair. "Can you, though? If you would like to?"

  24. #474
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    Therin says, "Yes, it might not have been the Klingon attack that knocked them out of synch... in fact, I doubt it was. It could be for any number of reasons, including microscopic, nearly-undetectable manufacturing, installation or calibration issues." He rubs his chin thoughtfully, looks over the array of tools and then passes Onn a hydrocoil integrator. "I appreciate your offer to help. Take a look at the M332 and V140 circuit pathways, if you please, ma'am, and tell me what you find. I'll work on the secondary pulse node assembly."

  25. #475
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    "I'm on it," Nia says, accepting the integrator's familiar weight, flipping it over a bit in her hands as she heads over to the nacelle. We should name you, she thinks whimsically at the second of the two warp drive housings. Calling you 'Starboardy' isn't exactly imaginative. Or respectful, considering you guys are the whole reason we're able to...

    Her train of thought derails when she kneels to get started and a memory strikes her. "Huh," she says a second time, addressing the actual living, breathing person in the bay. "Y'know, this isn't the only problem we've had with nacelle equipment lately. 'Bout a month ago, one of our port nacelle's IFSes* crapped out--M09, maybe? And that was right on the heels of an earlier failure on M10. Or was it the other way around?"

    Nia squints when her confusion triggers an annoying sense of déjà vu, then shrugs. "Wasn't a disaster, just part of a bad batch from the manufacturer--someone, probably Delaney or Dahlquist, told me several others in inventory were junk too. Sound familiar? This turns out to be the same sorta problem, and the same manufacturer, we'd better start shopping around for a new dealer."

    With a cluck of her tongue, she leans into the open housing to get a better look at the circuit pathways; surrounded by metal, her voice echoes around her as she continues speaking. "And now I remember some tools disappeared from storage, or were misplaced, or the lockers got broken... something along those lines. We didn't accidentally piss off some technology-worshiping culture, did we? Maybe their deity cursed us."



    * Inlet flow sensors.

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    Therin, continuing to work, says thoughtfully, "It's very different equipment, obviously, the ship's warp nacelles and the much smaller shuttlecraft nacelles, ma'am, but it does make one wonder if there may be some connection. I will raise the matter with the Chief Engineer the next time I see him."

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    Rangin waits for Kylah to finish, being amused by the breathless rattling off of suggestions and requests she is making to him and he can’t help grinning even though he knows she cannot see it.

    “Ok, Let’s slow that down a little. No, I don’t have any plans for shore leave but yes, I would love to go down to the park and lake with you. I’m sure we can find something to do, I don’t know much about sailing boats, but if they have something a little more mechanical or with an engine, then I’m sure I can figure out how to take one out. A picnic down there also sounds like a great idea or, if not, then I would not be surprised if there were places to find food if there are enough people enjoying the area.”

    Realising he is likely dictating plans, Rangin stops speaking for a moment. If Kylah is the one arranging it, then better for her to arrange it.

    “Ok, whatever we wind up doing, I’m fairly certain I will enjoy it. So, where and when do you want to meet? I’ll confirm with Roble that I can head down on shore leave and then I am at your disposal.”

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    Nodding and smiling brightly as Velir speaks, Kylah taps her screen to reserve a motorboat before he even finishes. "I am sure Lt. Cmdr. Roble will allow it, we are all supposed to be free. Oh this is wonderful, it has been so long! Can we meet at transporter room 1, in an hour, perhaps? I have not yet dressed..."

    She glances over her shoulder toward her closet, trying to pick something appropriate for such plans. Of course most crew members on shore leave remain in their uniforms, but Kylah has rarely done so herself. It just does not seem natural.

    A sudden thought broadens her smile. "I wonder. Do you--this may seem strange or improper or--" She shakes her head. Nothing could feel improper right now. "Would you perhaps consider wearing civilian clothes? I see you so often Starfleet uniforms, and--well, there was that old Earth-style suit on Sigma Iotia, but that was not really a reflection of you. I mean, what you would choose to look like in a normal situation."

    Fluttering her free hand inarticulately like chasing away flies, she shrugs with a little frustrated laugh. "Oh, you must know what I mean. I just want to see you out of uniform, as you have seen me so often. Not Lieutenant Junior Grade Rangin. Velir." She says his name gently, a vocal caress. "So... will you?"

  29. #479
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    Hidden within the depths of the machinery, Nia snorts a little in amusement and lifts her head to respond something snarky about being mildly cognizant that the huge-ass nacelles for a Constitution-class ship differ from the Tesla's petite but powerful pair. But then she bumps her head lightly on the hatch, which ruins the smug effect.

    "Yeah," she says with a rueful wince while shaking it off. "There are a quadrillion moving and non-moving mechanical parts onboard. Some of them are gonna be duds. Just noting the coincidence. I'm guessing the only thing they have in common might be a crappy manufacturer."

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    Following his discussion with Dr. Villa (as well as washing his hands, et cetera!), Dr. Mäkeläinen enters the examination room where Ens. Leventhal is waiting.

    He quickly looks the man over for a first impression as he greets him genially. "How do you do, Ensign," he says and offers up a handshake, "My name is Bizhi Mäkeläinen. I'm new on board, if you have not heard, but they already have me hard at work. So, you're here for a routine physical? How about it, any complaints?" He listens to the crewman first, before engaging in any systematic scanning.

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    "That is certainly possible, ma'am," Therin says. "I will look into it further with Mr. Cheverez."

    Ens. Horst Leventhal is a lean, wiry young German man with a shock of black hair. He shakes Bizhi's hand and says politely, "How do you do, Doctor? No, I've been feeling all right, mostly." After a moment he adds, "Although I have been having some bad headaches lately. I hardly ever used to get them."
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 14 Mar 2022 at 08:54 PM. Reason: Fixed dialogue

  32. #482
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen asks Ens. Leventhal, "How long have you been getting these headaches? Any changes in your routine? When you say you used to get them, when was that?"

    He begins the examination by performing a full-body diagnostic using a medical tricorder set to narrow angle, which is part of the usual routine. He compares the scanned data to Leventhal's record on the datapad to see if there are any significant changes, and also checks for foreign substances like toxins in the bloodstream.

  33. #483
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    Nia smiles, still hidden from Therin's view. He's a serious guy but welcome company nevertheless. For some time she checks and rechecks the circuit pathways, not just M332 and V140 but the others nearest to them. Best she can do from here is test them for any physical issues, sub-microscopic deformations in the hardware or connection points.

    If she finds anything, she'll call it to Therin's attention and try to diagnose the issue.

    Otherwise, her thoughts will stray to finding a different angle. So far, judging from the array of parts gutted from the nacelle, Therin's coming at this from mechanical perspective--the same one Nia tends to gravitate herself when dealing with most engineering issues.

    But she's flown solo on crafts she's helped build too often not to take a more holistic view. Identifying this current issue could require switching her mindset from tinkering to programming.

    So if she can't spot a physical or installation flaw, and Therin hasn't either, Nia will offer to hop up and head into the Tesla to run some diagnostics on the shuttle's internal network.

  34. #484
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    Rangin holds the communicator away from him slightly and looks at it, wondering exactly who is at the far end before he tells himself he is being silly and that it is just Kylah. Well, not just Kylah as this seems a little out of the ordinary for her, but he is certainly willing to play along.

    “Civilian? Clothes? Okay, I’m sure I can find something.” He thinks back to the last time he was in civilian clothes on something like this. A disastrous night on Omicron Ceti III, which Rangin is doing his level best to forget. The linen suit he wore had been stuffed to the back in a rumpled state and is not going to see the light of day any time soon. No, something simple and relaxing would have to suffice. Perhaps waterproof, he chuckles silently to himself. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure there is something other than a uniform to wear, it would be good to make a change.”

    Well, there are worse ways to spend some free time than boating in a park with Kylah. Then he remembers what Elasians considered casual wear and gives a rueful smile. He is going to have a lot of very pretty scenery to look at. He catches himself thinking about what might be, but as their common past has shown, that’s not exactly how it plays out. At all. In the slightest.

    But, if they are alone, maybe he can get some answers out of Kylah about the communicator. Then, who knows where it could lead.

    “Ok, I’ll catch up with you shortly, let me contact Roble to confirm, then I’ll meet you at the transporter room of your choice.”

    He drops he line before he goes and says something stupid before contacting Lt Cmdr. Roble just to make sure he is ok to go on shore leave for the day.

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    Though Velir seems nonplussed at first, his willingness to follow Kylah's suggestion delights her. He rushes off before she has a chance to respond. Probably, he is concerned about finding something to wear, Kylah thinks in affectionate amusement. As if Velir Rangin could look anything other than appropriate and attractive.

    Delving into her closet, she frowns upon noting her diminished quantity of civilian dresses. She knows she left her pretty aqua blue dress in a locker back on OCIII--but she does not wish to remember that. And her favorite butter-yellow silk was torn and ruined on Anubis. She will not linger on that either. Kylah quickly flicks the ugly memories away and decides on a pale blue dress with tiny white dots, a color combination that seems appropriate for sailing. The style does, too.

    At times, Kylah has sensed that Velir is... disconcerted... by Elasian-style clothing. But she is certain he cannot object to the decorously high neckline. Only when she slips the dress over her head and fastens the halter top does she belatedly note that the frock is not quite as decorous in the back. She pauses to examine herself in the mirror, then gives a little defiant shrug. Why would he be looking there, on a boat?

    The material is quite thin, though, and Kylah wonders if she ought to bring a shawl or scarf. After strapping on her sandals, she returns to the computer to find out what the weather is like in the vicinity of the largest lake. If it is cool or windy, Kylah will grab a light, pearl-colored shawl to wrap around her shoulders, and then rush from her quarters to Transporter Room 1.

  36. #486
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    Leventhal says, "I tend to get the headaches in the late afternoon. I can't think of anything in particular that I do differently, or that happens to me, just before I get them. I haven't really changed my routine recently, either. I had them before I went to the Academy, now and then, but I don't remember them being this severe." The full-body diagnostic that Bizhi runs reveals nothing out of the ordinary. Leventhal appears to be in good health, with no foreign substances like toxins in his bloodstream, and nothing unusual showing up since his last checkup.

    Onn and Therin also find nothing unusual in their work on the shuttlecraft. Therin puts down a node assembly clasp and scratches thoughtfully at the base of one of his powder-blue antennae.

    Kylah sees from a planetary weather report that it is a warm and calm day on and around Lake Armstrong, but with a chance of higher winds and even rain in the next few hours.

  37. #487
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    As she clambers back out of the open nacelle, Nia blows some spiraling hair away from her forward. "This might not stem from the nacelle or warp coils themselves. Maybe it’s a communication glitch. The Tesla's commands could be going off-sync farther up the line, even before they reach the plasma conduits, much less that warp coil."

    Nia tilts her head toward the shuttle's hatch and heads over. "Lemme run a sim or two. We don't have to put everything back together, it can stay offline. I just want to test the other nodes along the way." She's jogged one step up the ramp before hesitating out of belated courtesy. "That okay with you?”

  38. #488
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    “Do you think Nikolai’s upset that he couldn’t come with us?” Booker asked.

    Marala laughs and splashes water at him.

    Booker flinches, although the water was warm and not at all unpleasant, and Marala’s naked body in motion was...appealing.

    “Oh Boojee, don’t be silly. The chance to sit in on that Starfleet--Starfleet--” she smiled widely and reached to the rim of the big soaking tub to grab a chilled flute and take another sip of champagne--”training session and watch a proton--no, what did you call it? ‘Photon’ torpedo being taken apart…”

    She paussd and Booker sees the hint of a tear in one eye. Now it was her turn to look away for a moment. “He loves Starfleet. It was so kind of you to find him the chance to feel a part of it, and learn more...I guess I’d prefer it if it was something other than about weapons…” She shrugged. Booker resisted dropping his gaze from her eyes to her breasts. Almost resisted.

    “But Starfleet must have a strong defense,” Marala states with certainty.

    Booker couldn’t help but smile. Marala always had strong opinions. That hasn’t changed.

    The resort on Beta Antares IV was probably nothing special on a hundred or a thousand M-class worlds, but it had a “honeymoon suite” and that was good enough for the couple.

    “Well, Mahmoud will collect him after the session is over and make sure he’s tucked into bed. I’m--I’m glad you think it was good for him, Marala.” Now he frowns. “I, um--I wasn’t always the best parent to my daughter, Marala, I, ah--I don’t want to fail him…”

    Marala’s eyes flare and she launches herself to press his shoulders back against his side of the tub. She punches his chest. She was strong, but he was sturdy--and any discomfort was balanced by his autonomic response to her closeness…

    “You’re the kindest man I’ve ever met, Boojee.” She shakes her head. “You always doubted your own self. I won’t let you do that. Ever.”

    Punch.

    Punch.

    Punch.

    “Hey--ah…” Graham takes her hands in his, not because the pain of the jabs was intolerable, but because he wanted to. They were warm, soft. “Kind...well, still, Marala, I’ve killed people…”

    Her gaze was fierce. “Because it had to be done. Or they deserved it.”

    Graham clears his throat. “Well, yeah, I mean--yes, when you put it like that.”

    “I wouldn’t have married you if I didn’t believe you would be a strong but gentle father to my son.”

    Graham freezes, then his eyes widened. “Of course…” There was no other possible answer. No other acceptable commitment.

    She puts a finger over his lips. “And I want you to be a strong but gentle husband to me, Boojee,” her voice intense, low. Her body closer to his, obviously, intentionally.

    After a long moment, Graham nods slowly. Rising, he takes her in his arms and carries her to the bed.

    After their wedding night, the they'll return to the ship. But that's a full night away.

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    The weather forecast is disappointing, but Kylah hopes they will be able to get at least an hour of time on the water before they must find shelter at one of the restaurants. She picks out her favorite shawl, an iridescent silk wrap gifted to her by a friend Kylah misses very much. She rubs its edges with sad fondness, admiring the dainty stitching and material as shining and slippery as mercury. Suddenly she realizes that while this lovely item will keep her shoulders warm, rain will not treat it kindly.

    Back when Kylah was preparing to leave Elas several months ago, two of her family's maids packed numerous items of dubious utility for a Starfleet officer's life onboard a ship. Fanciful items--even more fanciful than the gown she wore for Lt. Graham's wedding--such as satin gloves, fur-lined cloaks, massive cases of makeup and vials of perfume, an Elasian ceremonial leather baldric tooled with the silver weeping tree emblem of her House... These and other items have been kept on the top shelf of her closet since she arrived. Now she drags a chair to climb up and search for something she hopes the maids included...

    Luck is with her. Kylah happily discovers a rainshield, an umbrella-like accessory stored compactly in a silver housing the size of a thick stylus or piccolo.

    The thought of the latter instrument draws her mind back to music, and then the Lyceum. Oh! I never responded to Lt. Thalen, did I? Once she steps down from the chair, she takes up her communicator to dash off a quick reply, thanking and telling her superior officer that she will gladly take part in a concert even as early as next week.

    At last she grabs the same simple but elegant bag she used at the wedding, stuffs the communicator and rainshield inside, and hurries off to meet Velir.

  40. #490
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    "Of course," Therin says. "Thank you, Lieutenant." He returns to his work.

    Graham and his bride pass a blissful honeymoon night together at the Beta Antares IV resort.

    In a few moments Kylah has the texted response, Excellent - thank you. I'll see that you get the sheet music. THALEN.

  41. #491
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    Only a few more strides up the ramp and through the hatch, and Nia's inside the Tesla. It's familiar, like all the shuttles are, although only in the Tesla does she feel this indefinable, electrical atmospheric buzz of newness, of adventure, of promise, that she can't quite describe but has felt from every vessel she's had any hand in building.

    As she walks forward, hands brushing against each seatback she passes--a superstitious ritual she hardly notices--Nia eyes the interior. Several unique additions to the standard layout can be seen here and there, along with tools and a crate or two, but most of the Tesla's customizations aren't visible except through access panels and the other entries to the inner workings of the shuttle.

    She reaches the helm and takes the seat she belongs in, and--another superstition--pats the panel in front of her like a rider gently soothing her horse's velvety muzzle. "Been a long time," she murmurs, tsking at herself. Things have been pretty busy since she was last here. By "here" she doesn't mean just specifically in the pilot's seat, but in the Tesla itself. For a year she's spent much of her free time in this space. Not the past two months, though. Not since the Klingon battle. There's always been something else to do, to think about.

    Nia lifts her shoulder--more of a tic-like jerk than a shrug--and taps at the controls to bring the system online. As she does, she can't help glancing at the seat beside her. Empty, like all the others, of course. Again she remembers Booker sitting there, after they'd finished that crazy stunt that disabled the Klingons.

    He was in his EVA suit, like all of the team including Nia, and she'd taken one last look at his sober, shadowed, hard, grim, attractive face before they both helmeted up. He'd been endearingly concerned for her, she remembers. She was about to launch herself from the Tesla, flinging herself toward the Klingon shuttle's hull so she could get a good lock at the enemies' positions.

    I must've smiled at him, Nia thinks, furrowing her brow. I would have. Wouldn't I? To reassure him. She'd be safe, she'd be fine.

    And she was. Reconnaissance complete, Nia returned here, made a couple of utterly dumbass decisions, gave the signal for the Yorktown to beam them all into the Klingon vessel, all without a scratch on her, not even out of breath.

    It was Booker who wasn't fine. Thanks to those dumbass decisions, and also her own incompetence even before then. He confronted that head Klingon, the one she was supposed to have blasted earlier back on the Naradraen but had missed like a pathetic cadet who'd never handled a phaser. And because of her shitty aim then, and her screwing up the timing now when ordering the beam-out, that Klingon bastard was free to shoot Booker. Disruptor fire at almost point-blank range, in Book's thigh. Nearly lost it. Nearly lost him.

    Blinking, Nia forces her gaze back to the control panel and jabs away, ordering the Tesla to start a simulation of going to warp. She sets it to run multiple times to see if the program can identify any hiccup in the route to the nacelles.

    Nia looks through the viewport ahead, which of course shows nothing but the other side of the Maintenance Bay.

    I nearly lost him, she thinks, shaking her head at her indescribably stupid mistake all those weeks ago. She was careless. Didn't think the plan through. Didn't think of anything beyond surviving the emergency and solving the immediate problem. Not the consequences, they hadn't even occurred to her. And so she let Booker go and nearly lost him.

    "Now I've done the same thing again," she whispers. "The same. Fucking. Thing. And I have lost him."

    The heaviness in Nia's chest hurts and that unfamiliar prickle against the back of her eyes again reminds her of the tears she's evolved away from.

    Serves me right.

    Her hand presses against her forehead. Not again. This can't be normal. This can't be natural. Or maybe it's too natural. The medical issue she's been suspecting all week. She can't waste time feeling like this. She has to get checked out. If nothing else maybe whoever's in Sickbay can prescribe her some antidepressant hypo. Maybe something to help her sleep, too.

    She whirls off the pilot seat and strides back to the hatch and down the ramp. Passing Therin, she lifts her thumb and points it back at the Tesla. "Just remembered I've got an appointment, but I've set up the sims. You should run 'em in slo-mo, see if we can track the path of every command as they run through each system, maybe that'll show us exactly where the starboard side's not synching up. If that's even what the issue is. Sorry to run like this, but..."

    She doesn't stop and finish, too busy trying to hide her emerging scales and rushing to the exit like she's being chased by living manifestations of her own sorrow and fear. These ravenous tigers have stalked her for a week, and she's not sure she'll reach Sickbay before they tear her to shreds.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 17 Mar 2022 at 09:03 PM.

  42. #492
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    Mäkeläinen considers. There could be an environmental factor. In any case, there are many things that could cause headaches but not show up on a simple scan, from simple stress to ultrasonic vibrations to remote psychic interference or stray radiation, to the weird.

    He asks Leventhal, "How about the other crew on your afternoon watch? Has anyone mentioned headaches, or any other symptoms?"

  43. #493
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    Onn misses Therin's reply as she rushes out.

    Leventhal thinks. "I haven't asked anyone, but no, no one's brought it up."

  44. #494
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    Kylah arrives at Transporter Room 1 hoping to find Velir either inside waiting for her.

  45. #495
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    After winding her way through the ship, Nia reaches Sickbay and after a slight hesitation, enters. If asked she'll explain that she just needs a checkup and probably a new birth control prescription.

  46. #496
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen asks, "Is there anything else you can tell me about the pain? For example, do you mostly feel it after certain activities, or food or drink, or is it random? Is it on both sides of the head, or just part? Would you describe it as a kind of pressure, or does it pulsate or stab? Any nausea or sensitivity along with it?

    "Your checkup shows you are in perfect health, otherwise. I'll take your word for it as to whether you need a rest, or, if you feel up to it there is no reason not to certify you fit for active duty, on the condition you come in next week for a follow-up, or even sooner if you feel it getting worse. For now, I want you to take a couple of these—" Bizhi produces a container with a handful of small white pills from the sickbay supplies in it— "every day around lunchtime, and cut back on the coffee if you can. And try to get enough sleep. In all likelihood, that should take care of it, but I want you see you in a few days, regardless."

    The pills—no reason to start in with the hyposprays right away, he feels—are a compound of a mild synthetic analgesic and Triox that should clear up any normal tension-type headaches or migraines. If that does not work, or if Ens. Leventhal reports the chronic headaches are disabling, the next step will be a full live trace of the nervous system. Simple enough.

    In any case, the pad automatically records all the new data, and, after Leventhal leaves, Bizhi fills in his observations and recommendations. He summarizes the case for Dr. Villa, concluding that they should keep an eye out for anyone else from Leventhal's department or watch coming in, just in case.

  47. #497
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    Rangin, who already had permission to take shore leave, is standing just outside Transporter Room 1 when Kylah arrives.

    Leventhal explains that the headaches seem to be random, that they're usually concentrated just behind his forehead as a steadily-growing pressure, and that they haven't been accompanied by any nausea or sensitivity, except to bright light. He thanks Bizhi, eagerly accepts the pills, promises to follow the good doctor's directions, and leaves Sickbay. Dr. Villa does not immediately acknowledge her young colleague's report.

    A harried-looking nurse tells Onn, "Dr. Mäkeläinen is with another patient right now, Lieutenant, but should be available shortly, if you don't mind waiting. Ah, here he is now...!"

  48. #498
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    Distracted, Nia only belatedly registers Leventhal as he leaves Sickbay. Too late to say anything to her Helm colleague--and honestly she's not feeling sociable right now anyway--she thanks the nurse and looks over to a man she's never seen before. "Dr. Mäkeläinen? Do you have time available? I'm having some weird issues..." She hesitates and glances down to see that her scales have somewhat receded to their normal level of visibility. "...Um, even weirder than usual, to humans, I guess. I could use a checkup."

  49. #499
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    Dressed in something a little more relaxed than a uniform, Rangin waits patiently by the Transporter Room. Hoping for reasonable weather, the jacket and top are fairly non-descript, the slightly muted colours not standing out too much as are the trousers and the more comfortable sneakers he is wearing. It certainly beats wearing mining boots and clothes that can stand several days in the wilderness tracking down some unknown creature.

    He sees Kylah approaching and nods to her, seeing that she is also dressed in something a little different.

    “Hi there. Well, I’m looking forward to seeing what you have in mind on the planet. I’m at your disposal.”

  50. #500
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    Kylah is pleased by Velir’s unfamiliar outfit--seeing him outside his standard Science blue uniform makes everything seem so new, a fresh start. She instinctively holds out a hand as if to grasp his, but then drops her arm quickly. Best to wait before initiating any obvious contact. And perhaps he should be the one to do so, if he is inclined.

    “The weather might change soon,” she says, eyeing his jacket with approval. “You are better dressed for it than I.”

    She precedes him into the transporter room and, if everything goes normally, gives the chief their destination and coordinates.

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