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

  1. #1051
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham glances sideling at the door the Tellarites are pounding on. Before turning his attention to that, he can honestly manage a small smile. "Trust me, Maude--any subspace operator worth a damn knows Starfleeet's credit is good. And to transmit a Security priority message?" He shrugs his shoulders. "They'll be competing for our business."

  2. #1052
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    Bizhi is willing to grant that Maude is perfectly reasonable to insist on cash payment— hardly a unique situation, especially on the frontier— and that Maude's logic is therefore unassailable, but surely she is taking it a bit far with injured crash survivors. His eyes betray a rare flash and he is about to start arguing with her, offering personal guarantees and explanations but quickly leading to the premise that what they really need is to bring in their patients while she irons out the details with Graham and Kylah. The arrival of the two— orderlies?— has hopefully simplified things. Unless they want cash up front, too? He waits for Maude to open her door or window to the arrivals.

  3. #1053
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    Maude, looking irritated, rolls down her window. "What?" she says.

    "The Portmaster's waiting," the Tellarite wheezes. Both of them are large and hulking and dressed in heavy winter coats; they don't look like hospital orderlies. "Come inside now."

    Grumbling, your driver rolls her window back up, opens the door and gets out. The Tellarites step back and the one who spoke gestures towards the hospital doorway. "This way, please," he calls to you all.

  4. #1054
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    Kylah slides over to what had been Maude's seat, curious about the Tellarites and their connection to Maude and/or the Portmaster. As she steps carefully down from the door exit, she asks, "Is the Portmaster the leader of this community--the equivalent of a city mayor or similar?"

    The two men--if they are male, Kylah is not certain about identifying genders with this race--are imposing, but she is not frightened. Just anxious about getting Velir and Mr. Rawlings the help that they need. And Lt. Onn will be warmer, as they all will. Indeed, she eyes the Tellarites' coats with some longing. "Those look very comfortable," she ventures, and adds an attempt at humor: "I think you would receive quite a profit, if we were allowed to bid at an auction right now."

  5. #1055
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is getting irritated at the seeming unconcern for their welfare. They are more accident victims than unwelcome interlopers. What does it bode when people cannot stick together in a crisis? And what in the world kind of reception is this at the entrance to a hospital? "Everyone OK?" he asks his comrades. "Mind your step on the way out." Sandwiched between Rangin and Rawlings, he is unable to disembark first to help them alight. (Good thing that everyone is ambulatory, for the moment.)

    To Maude he adds, "We have to get inside. But you have my personal guarantee as well, Madame Maude. Something extra for your troubles."

  6. #1056
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    It takes awhile for Nia to notice that the crawler's stopped. She opens her eyes, and for a few disoriented seconds isn't sure where she is, or how long she's been out--either asleep or semiconscious, she can't tell. Wherever she's been, it was comfortable, and she doesn't want to leave.

    Then sudden cold blasts its cruel way towards her: a door has opened, letting the icy wind inside. Wincing, she shies back like a horse faced with a savage wolf, curling even more tightly within the blanket. Why would anyone leave this nest? Her inclination is to burrow inside, hide from the wind and weather, and just let herself get back to the safe, warm void.

    Her eyes open again. It's just occurred to her that they've probably reached their destination. (Nia's forgotten what it was, but it matters little right now.) Oh no just leave me here, she begs silently. Happily there seems to be a delay--at least, no one's moved as far as she can tell. The big bulk of Rawlings is still beside her, for which she's rarely been more grateful. So she stays silent and shuts her eyes until whenever she absolutely must leave.

  7. #1057
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    Tellarite males and females do look very similar, but Kylah thinks these are both males. The first one says with a certain pride, "Yes, the Portmaster's in charge. This is a port, and he's the master of it."

    The second says gruffly, "Our coats are not for sale."

    Maude rolls her eyes at Dr. Mäkeläinen, says nothing and heads for the hospital door.

    Rawlings helps Rangin up and says quietly to Graham, "It looks like Lt. Onn may need some assistance, sir."

  8. #1058
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham nods to Rawlings. In a low voice he says "Good man. Let's get that arm taken care of." He places his hands on Onn's shoulders--as gently as he can, but firm enough to make sure he can prevent her from falling over if Rawlings' departure leaves her unstable.

    "Hey, Nia..." he says quietly. "It's time to go into someplace warm. W-a-r-m. Let me help you."

  9. #1059
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    Since she has often been quick to take offense at jokes herself, Kylah is not surprised that the Tellarite took her offer seriously. She is surprised by Maude's discourteous reaction to Dr. Mäkeläinen's gracious remarks, and turns to him with a look of commiseration. "They are treating us less than hospitably considering what we have been through. The Tellarites might have been ignorant, but Maude knows our situation." Tightening the blanket around her--her uniform is really inadequate for the weather, and her legs are freezing--Kylah adds somewhat archly, "If Maude does not wish the gratuity you are offering, we should respect her wishes and let her purse stay empty."

    She looks to see if there is anything she can do to help Velir. Seeing him so close to Ens. Rawlings only emphasizes Velir's diminished state, and if she can speak any encouraging words to him, she will.

  10. #1060
    Oliphaunt SidonianGal's avatar
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    Once the wall-sized shield that is Double-T Rawlings has moved, Nia's no longer protected from the icy air. She groans, knowing there's no choice now. That is, there is a choice, but she's not willing to make the wrong one. She still has her duty to perform.

    Suddenly warm hands clasp her shoulders and a familiar gentle, low rumble of a voice speaks her name. Nia nods, or at least her shuddering body makes the effort to do something to indicate that she's heard him. "Right," she whispers. "I--I'm okay."

    The words end in a wheezing cough that she tries to disguise in the action of grabbing hold of Booker's arm with fingers that are practically stiff claws. Bad enough that the crew knows she's severely affected by the cold. No one but Mäkeläinen knows her lungs are effectively drowning in this frigid, inadequate air, and that her time's quickly running out. Nia hopes to keep it that way as long as possible. She's the head of what's likely her last mission, and she wants to see it out with at least some dignity.

    As much dignity as an utter failure of a mission commander deserves, anyway.

    "Just keep me on my feet, Lieutenant," she rasps, dragging herself up and intending to let him guide her toward the exit. "I think--maybe I can walk to..." Nia hesitates because her mind's truly blank, and at last she looks up to Booker, eyes questioning. "...The port building?"

  11. #1061
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    The Starfleet contingent makes its way, with some difficulty, into the hospital. It looks better on the inside - clean, well-lit and modern, by all appearances. A nurse in Reception directs Onn, Rangin and Rawlings to the Emergency Room. One of the Tellarites stands by watchfully as a brisk young Nigerian physician, Dr. Sophie Anikwata, welcomes Dr. Mäkeläinen. She quickly looks the three patients over, examining and scanning them. She offers an osteogenic stabilizer to Bizhi to fix Rawlings's broken arm, orders Rangin to remain in bed and under observation for at least three hours, and privately asks Onn what she needs, saying, "I confess I've never seen or treated a Sidonian before."

    Graham and Kylah are taken by the other Tellarite down another hallway to a conference room with a shiny wooden table and six comfortable leather-upholstered chairs. Sitting at the head of the table is another Tellarite, the ugliest Graham has ever seen, broad-shouldered and solemn. He is in a dark suit of a conservative cut, with the portmaster's traditional gold fouled-anchor-and-star insignia of office pinned to one lapel. He gestures to chairs, apparently inviting you to sit down. The Tellarite who escorted you goes to stand behind him.

    https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki...nic_stimulator
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foul_(nautical)
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 15 Jan 2023 at 11:14 AM.

  12. #1062
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen thanks Dr. Anikwata correctly for the warm reception and for the professional courtesy. He is happy to be back in his element—although, under different circumstances, and possibly in hindsight, exploring an alien ice world and experiencing the local wildlife up close might make for a fun and exciting adventure, not that he would deliberately seek out repeated close brushes with death. He tends to Rawlings' arm with the osteogenic stimulator meticulously, making sure that the fractured bone is aligned and fusing correctly. He chit-chats with Dr. Anikwata about how long she has been working here and what it is like, but makes sure to stay out of her way and not impede her work in the emergency room.

    When he gets a chance, he asks Anikwata if he might possibly impose upon her so far as to be allowed to fetch hot coffee from the lounge, for her and for Rawlings (should they want some) as well as for himself. At any rate, the Tesla crew still have a lot to think about, like finding a subspace transmitter.

  13. #1063
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    Kylah does not show her reaction to the Portmaster's appearance--she has met with too many Klingons of varying physical features and decorative medals to let a large, strange-looking man in an imposing uniform throw her off-guard--at least, not under these circumstances. Even so, she does find this man almost aggressively unattractive. If ugliness could be weaponized he would be dangerous indeed.

    She is very glad for Lt. Graham's strong presence. She takes a seat and folds her hands in her lap, remaining silent and giving her superior officer a glance with the slightest hint of warning. This interaction has no reason to be anything but welcoming... eventually. From what Kylah knows of Tellarite society, things may start off less than pleasantly.

  14. #1064
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    The hospital is bright and busy, a little too noisy for Nia's current state but she's too glad to be out of the worst of the weather to care.

    From beneath a blanket she wishes were several kilos heavier and filled with down, she looks hazily at the doctor and draws in her breath with difficulty. "H-heat," she whispers. "Outside and in. My core..." Nia wraps her arms around her middle and shudders. "It's frozen. Even my blood... can you warm... plasma?"

    She means to say intravenously but it's too much effort. The problem is that her knowledge of her own biology is fairly detailed but she's not actually sure of what the technology here can do to raise the temperature of her very organs and veins.

    Is there a point to telling this doctor about her hypobilitremia? Which by now feels well on the way to becoming hypobilitria. It will explain her vitals, at least, and the doctor should know what not to waste time on. If Rangin were here she'd ask him to scan the system for Bilitrium--she'd've done so on the Tesla if their sensors had been online. But the odds of there being any of this extremely rare, highly reactive element in its most relatively stable form, much less the ability to trace, gather and process it safely, are so meager that contemplating them makes her want to cry.

    She can't remember what she told Dr. M., but she's pretty sure he'll have shared the info with this doctor already, she realizes. Nia's hand lifts slightly, a weak gesture intended to point to Mäkeläinen where she vaguely thinks he might be, or at least was when she last remembers seeing him. "I'm running out of time. Ask... the doc. Bilitrium... I only have this much." It's difficult but she drags her hand to the nebulizer chain around her throat. "I'm shutting down anyway. Please just..." A wave of fear chills her as much as the weather did, and she swallows back the instinct to whimper. Instead she stares up at the other woman. "Just keep me comfortable?"

    There's little more to hope for, other than the hope that she can get back to the ship or a usable Bilitrium supply before her organs shut down completely and her upcoming coma/hibernation turns to death.

    She can't remember--when Booker led her here, did she have a chance to tell him what to do? She doubts she needed to ask because it's likely the first thing he'd think of anyway, but in case there's some administrative red tape involved that's causing a delay, she voices the request now to this stranger.

    "Tell the Yorktown we're here," she sighs.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 17 Jan 2023 at 12:26 AM. Reason: Link to Nia's hypobilitria explanation post, and to the Starfleet Medical research on Sidonians.

  15. #1065
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    With Nia's permission, Dr. Mäkeläinen informs Dr. Anikwata, "I have been monitoring her vitals per her request. The primary condition is severe hypothermia. The Sidonian metabolism does not deal with freezing temperatures. To her credit, she is still awake through sheer willpower, but her metabolism is well on its way to shutting down even though we were not out there that long, relatively speaking. We need to get her core temperature back up, immediately.

    "The sequela, or even comorbidity, is hypobilitremia exacerbated by the hypothermia, and she has been under extra stress—she's not the only one, mind you—including sleep deprivation, and medication including hormonal contraceptives and moderately-high doses of Lexorin. She has one, maybe two, doses in reserve, she told me. The only treatment is to get more, as far as I know. It's necessary for Sidonian respiration."

  16. #1066
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    Graham nods acknowledgment of the senior Tellarite and takes a seat himself, nodding and gesturing to Ens. Kylah to take a seat as well.

    "We're grateful for the rescue, port master," he says once he's seated.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is soon able to fully heal Rawlings, and Rangin also is looking much better, although he lies down to rest without only a little grumbling.

    Dr. Anikwata tells Bizhi that she's been on Ollos for almost three years and that she likes it, "although it's not exactly Lagos when it comes to sophisticated amenities, as you've probably already figured out." She asks an orderly to offer hot coffee or tea to any of the Tesla crew who would like some. After having Onn changed out of her damp uniform and dressed in warm hospital garb - an option she gives the others, as well - she places additional blankets on her and adjusts the thermostat to raise the temperature in the room. She also sends a nurse to see if there is any Lexorin in the hospital's pharmacopoeia stores.

    The Portmaster grunts to Graham, "You're welcome. There were some who wanted you shot out of the sky after you came roaring in out of nowhere and then fired off a torpedo. Starfleet has not exactly made many friends here in the past week."

  18. #1068
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    If an orderly comes by this meeting room, Kylah will fight her habit of asking for hot chocolate and gratefully requests hot tea--sweetened, and with lemon and honey (if available).

    She blinks in concern at the Portmaster's comment. They have only been in the system a few hours, what could he mean...? But she focuses on a hurried, profuse apology. "We--we are so terribly sorry for such chaos, sir. There was little we could do; our shuttle was barely operable. I... I do not understand everything that happened regarding the torpedo, or--or torpedoes--" Kylah gives a deferential but uncertain look toward her crew mate before adding quickly, "--As I have little knowledge of weaponry. I was occupied trying to warn you of our situation, along with any vessels in orbit. But Lt. Graham can explain why we needed to take that step. For safety reasons, I am sure."

  19. #1069
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    Buried under the layers of soft, heavy warmth, Nia tries to imagine it radiating through her whole body, even though she feels like ice down to the marrow. This is a great help for now, nearly heavenly compared to how she's felt for the last... how many hours? Truth is, she can't remember not being cold.

    She's not sure if the doctor fully understands Dr. Mäkeläinen's report--the element she requires is little known as a breathable substance even by Starfleet Medical, mainly since they have a test subject sample size of precisely one. Gathering her wits, she tries to explain.

    "He means Bilitrium--the dose, that is. In my atmosphere..." She frowns, eyes closed while trying to concentrate. "My planet's atmosphere... it's what we breathe. Mostly. The dose is a compound with oxygen, nitrogen... much more common here. You may not even know Bilitrium is gaseous. In most systems it's solid. I... I mean, it's only stable in solid crystalline form. Not very, either." She groans in frustration at hearing herself. "Not very stable. Sorry, I'm having..."

    Another plaintive moan. The word that means "difficulty" is evading her entirely, and while attempting to capture its meaning she loses track of whatever she was going to say anyway. Without bothering to continue wasting her breath--literally--she sinks further into the pillow and lapses into silence.

  20. #1070
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is concerned about Nia, but he does not frown or grimace; he tries to do something that will actually help her. He clarifies, "It's not the danger of Lexorin withdrawal, though that should be properly tapered off, of course. To stabilize her we need to get some Bilitrium, and compound it into gaseous form. Unless some other form will do...?" he looks at Nia quizically. "If we have to stay here even a couple of days, that would be cutting things much too close." Or even sealing her fate.

    "Perhaps there is an industrial source? Mining? Research? Unless you happen to have some on hand, I can start searching. We need access to a subspace-capable communications terminal anyway." Even if there is some Bilitrium nearby to be had, he does not expect some shady factor to hand it over purely on his say-so. They need monits urgently, and possibly some official authorization.

  21. #1071
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    Graham nods to acknowledge Kylah's comment. "I can understand how that looked, Portmaster. 'Roaring in' is the operative phrase...we weren't sure at that point if we were going to be able to regain control, and..." he pauses, forehead creasing as he recalls the torpedo malfunction that should have been impossible. "As part of the, ah...technical problems affecting the shuttle, we has also experienced a torpedo malfunction." He rubs his chin. "The long and the short of it being that it we came down hard we wanted to ensure that wouldn't include a live torpedo detonation on the surface."

  22. #1072
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    The orderly does not come by the meeting room, so Kylah does not have the opportunity to order tea. Maude the crawler driver comes in, however, and flops into a chair. The Portmaster looks at her but says nothing, then returns his attention to Graham.

    Dr. Anikwata frowns. "I don't know of any source for bilitrium anywhere here. Maybe one of the ships in orbit has it? Let me make some inquiries." She leaves Dr. Mäkeläinen alone with Onn.

    The Portmaster says, in response to Graham's explanation, "I see." He does not seem convinced. Then he fires off a series of questions, listening carefully to Graham's (and Kylah's, if she chooses to speak) answers:

    "Do you have anything to do with the Beowulf?"
    "How long do you intend to stay here?"
    "What is your destination?"
    "Are you looking to hire a ship, or will Starfleet be picking you up?"
    "How will you pay for your crawler pickup, and for the medical care now being provided to your party?"
    "Where will you be spending the night?"

    Graham and the other Tesla crew are all tired indeed, given recent events, and it is now the middle of the night here.


    Questions asked in sequence here just to move things along.



  23. #1073
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    Bizhi stifles a yawn. Until there is some news, he judges it best to let Nia rest. The lack of available Bilitrium looks like it is going to be a problem. He hopes against hope that Dr. Anikwata will come up with something. It is not like he has better contacts than she does. Except​—​he is a Starfleet officer. Passing this up the chain of command, even if the Yorktown is not in range, some kind of emergency delivery could surely be brokered. At this point, it is imperative to get on the subspace channels without delay.

    He waits for Dr. Anikwata to return with some news. Should it prove disappointing, he will politely ask the Tellarite [bailiff? steward?], whose presence has not escaped him, to lead him to the Portmaster and his colleagues. "It is a matter of life and death."

  24. #1074
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    Graham takes a moment to breathe and rub the back of his neck. He glances at Kylah, wondering if he looks as tired as she does. Or more tired.

    "Well we certainly don't intend to intrude on your hospitality very long at all, port master," he replies. "We were in fact on our way to rendezvous with our ship, the Yorktown. As soon as we can access subspace comms, we will determine how and how quickly we can re-unite with her...and whether or not that entails getting picked up or hiring a ship."

    He spreads his hands in front of himself on the table. "Of course, at the same time we can arrange transfer of credits to do right by our rescuer here, the medical care...and, ah, I suppose, lodging? Given the nature of our arrival we must rely on your guidance on a place to secure overnight quarters."

    He pauses a moment, then shrugs. "Uh, as I mentioned, our ship is Yorktown. I don't have any specific knowledge of a ship "Beowulf."

  25. #1075
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    Dr. Anikwata returns shortly and says to Dr. Mäkeläinen, "As I thought, we have none of it here. I'll send out a call to the ships in-system and see what I can find."

    Rangin and Rawlings are both resting comfortably; Onn, less so. The Tellarite, without a word, nods and leads the doctor to the conference room, where he finds Graham, Kylah and the others.

    The Portmaster grunts. "Subspace comms are offline for now. If you'd like to arrange a loan, Federation credits for Ollos monits, I think I could arrange that. I could also suggest a hotel, if you wish." He goes on, looking even more serious, "Four days ago, the Starfleet frigate Beowulf tried to stop the free trader Jaunty from leaving orbit, and then blew her up. Twenty dead; no survivors. Starfleet is not exactly beloved on Ollos right now." He holds up a hooflike hand. "I know, I know, these things happen - I have friends in the Fleet, and no particular grudge against you all. But you may wish to get new clothes. That, too, can be arranged."

  26. #1076
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    In addition to gazing with some pride toward Lt. Graham for his deft diplomacy in responding to the Tellarite's irritable manner, Kylah has been trying to guess as to what "the Beowulf" might mean. All she knows of such a word is as the title of an ancient Terran tale that was one of the closest things to a Klingon legend she has seen from human literature.

    Lt. Graham's calling it a ship makes her nod with a little relief before backing him up. "Nor I, sir--I do not recall hearing anything about such a vessel either." She turns back to the Portmaster. Simulpost. Can we assume the above is before the Portmaster's response?

    After hearing the Portmaster's disturbing news about this frigate, Kylah hurriedly searches her memory for anything that might be useful regarding Tellarite culture. "I am very sorry to hear of such a grievous loss, Mr.--Mr.--forgive me, I do not know how you prefer to be addressed. Such an action seems...quite drastic." She flashes an alarmed glance at Lt. Graham. "It is not usually Starfleet protocol to..." To fire on a ship that is not threatening their own, she thinks, but realizes she does not know the story at all, and should leave talk of such strategies to Lt. Graham. "To do something without good reason," she says with fading certainty.

    She changes direction with a respectfully somber tone, "May I ask if you know why this Beowulf wished to stop the Jaunty? Is the ship still in this system? Perhaps we could contact them...?"

    The offer of clothing and a hotel is most welcome, and Kylah adds quick words of gratitude to the Postmaster--especially for arranging a way to contact the Yorktown.

    When she hears the door open and close, she turns to see the doctor entering. Her eyes widen slightly, mutely questioning how the various patients are.

  27. #1077
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    A little thrill of anxiety keeps Nia staring at the door while Dr. Mäkeläinen leaves. She doesn't want to be alone, or with strangers, as she feels time slipping away from her. But there's not much she can do in her current state.

    Dr. Anikwata's news about Bilitrium doesn't surprise her. The doctors clearly don't know much about it--which is par for the course. It's not something used in any medical context, aside from her own. Too bad Nia didn't ask Villa on the mission. Not that Villa would've been able to magically conjure up an element that's vanishingly rare. But at least she'd know just how dire things are.

    Maybe it's best that Mäkeläinen not know. Lessens the likelihood he'll pass along his concerns to the others. Though Nia's not sure how the others would react. Probably Rawlings would be most affected, having known her for the longest and most intimately--sexually speaking. Kylah's emotionally fragile and would make a fuss. The others...

    Closing her burning eyes for a second, Nia shakes her head before remarking to the other woman in the room, "Trust me. No one... no one's carrying Bilitrium around. Just not safe. Even the Yorktown isn't thrilled with the small amount I have onboard. They wouldn't go near it, if not... if not for me." Vargas has expressed unease with the ship carrying such an infamously unstable, explosive element--one with no practical use except as a deadly weapon. Cheverez too, but he's been more tactful in his concern.

    Well, if they aren't able to pick up the Tesla crew by morning, likely everyone will get their wish. Nia will be gone and they can safely eject what used to be their late colleague's breathing supplies into a star.

    Forcing herself to look at the other woman, she bites her lip to let the pain waken her somewhat. "The... the Lexnor? I mean..." Nia struggles to remember the name of the drug Mäkeläinen gave her earlier. "Lexorin? Did you find any? I don't want..." She doesn't want to sleep. She'll be sleeping long enough, soon. Taking a heaving but unsatisfying breath, she starts again. "I need to talk to my ship."

  28. #1078
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    The large Tellarite says, "My name is Goll. You may call me Portmaster." He clears his throat, a terrible, wet sound. "The Beowulf's captain said something about contraband and smuggling, but Federation law does not apply here. This is not a Federation world. The Jaunty was only defending itself. The frigate, its deed done, left the system almost immediately afterwards."

    Dr. Anikwata says to Onn, "I will see what I can do. Rest for now. I'll have a nurse look in on you shortly." She leaves.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 27 Jan 2023 at 09:51 PM. Reason: Typo fixed

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    "Sorry to interrupt," says Bizhi. He nods in acknowledgement to Maude and to his colleagues and sits down on one of the chairs in the conference room.

    "Portmaster," he begins. He is unsure of any formalities (or that such would be appreciated, should the Portmaster be a genuine expatriate from Tellar), and the man probably knows exactly who he is, so he quickly gets down to business. "I am the medical officer on our mission. Everyone is all right for now; I mean stable. They are resting in the E.R. and under observation. But we still have one medical emergency that can't be treated here. We need to rejoin our ship. Barring that, or in any case, if subspace comms cannot be re-established, maybe some ship can relay a priority message? At least system-wide? Surely someone can help. I tell you plainly, if we simply wait around, our friend will not make it."

    What if there is nothing within range, no way to get more Bilitrium? Is there anything that could buy Nia more time, he wonders to himself? Cryogenic treatment to slow down or freeze the metabolism? Transporter magic? This is a nightmare scenario, one that evokes unpleasant flashbacks. He reminds himself to think logically and systematically, despite the fatigue.

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    Kylah breathes in sharply after Dr. Mäkeläinen's words. What had been curiosity now turns to a stab of alarm. Velir has been on her mind so much that at first she cannot help immediately assuming that he is the one in jeopardy. But he seemed fairly well recovered from a stun. Mr. Rawlings had but an arm injury. Lt. Onn...

    "From the cold?" she blurts in shock. "It was bad, but we were only exposed for a short while. How can--" She stops short and cannot help a look at Lt. Graham, who probably knows more of his friend's biology than she does. Besides, this is not the place for such questions; not from her, at any rate. Swallowing back her need to understand, Kylah turns hopefully to the Postmaster.

    She knows they should address the Beowulf's extremely inappropriate behavior--and "inappropriate" is putting it mildly, at least if what this Tellarite has told them is true--but time does not seem to be on their side. And if the frigate is out of range, they would need access to a comms signal anyway, so if Postmaster Goll fulfills their request, they can perhaps get to the bottom of his own concern while assisting their unfortunate colleague.

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    Nia watches the doctor leave, dizzy and unsure of what is going on. Why didn't this Anik-whatever-her-name-is person give Nia the Lexorin that Mäkeläinen asked her for earlier? She didn't even remark about it, not specifically. Or the intravenous fluids. Or even something hot to drink. Anything to warm Nia's frozen core, the hard cold dead part of her that the blankets just can't reach.

    Maybe this is a subpar hospital facility with bored, inattentive and/or negilgant staff. Wouldn't surprise Nia--by now, after the day she's had, no turn of bad luck would be a surprise.

    After a few seconds she switches her focus to the lights above her. Cold and harsh, like all hospitals. Not on Sidonia; that's one thing she can say for her culture--they have an innate understanding of just how important ambiance can be when it comes to healing the mind and soul together with the body. Particularly for healthy newborns, which of course is the primary goal of her world's medical practice.

    Nia lets her head drop on the pillow. She doesn't like being here. It's unnerving and she's alone. And scared. The acknowledgment feels shameful but... if she's not gonna be scared of imminent death, when else? With a dry sob she searches the room, trying to find her uniform, her duty belt, and most especially her communicator.

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    The Portmaster says to Bizhi, "We can reach ships in orbit but not beyond this system. But do you wish the loan I offered? You already have debts here - to Maude, and now to this hospital. You must pay for these things you want."

    A nurse comes in with a hypospray, sees Onn on her feet and says sharply, "Get back in bed, please. Doctor's orders." She raises the hypospray. "Here's the Lexorin she also ordered. May I get you anything else?"

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    Bizhi looks to Lt. Graham—​and Ens. Kylah—​for support, or if they have something to add, but continues speaking; there are not many options here.

    He shrugs. "Certainly we will take the loan. We already said as much to Maude. We do not expect any special treatment, nor to be mulcted. We are on official Starfleet business, and our superiors will back us up.

    "But, sir, please understand that this is no longer just a matter of arranging guest accommodations or paying for the bone regenerator, or something that can wait until morning. We need a small quantity of Bilitrium. Now, that is a not-particularly-common industrial chemical which is not going to be randomly kept in stock, given the difficulties of handling it. Dr. Anikwata is checking with ships with orbit as we speak. However, as the Portmaster here, you are best positioned to authorize a deal should she find anything, and if not, well, we will need to hire the first ship heading off-system. I did not quite catch the discussion when I came in, but I don't imagine that saving the life of a Starfleet officer will go unappreciated when it comes to making any persistent problems you may be having with the Federation go away.

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    Graham can't help but start forward slightly as the doctor speaks.

    Dammit... Nia's plight makes sense now in light of his experience back in her quarters...

    Thank god the doc is on top of this.

    But that doesn't help all that much unless they can get Billitrium, or unlock some other option...


    "Portmaster...you've been gracious with your advice, and the offer of a loan...as the doctor says, we'll of course take it, and we will make good on any reasonable terms and then some."

    "I'm sorry to hear about the loss of life on the Jaunty. As the doctor explained, we may be facing a...a potential...loss.." It's hard to get out. "Ourselves."

    Graham leans forward. "As a Security officer, I know use of lethal force against civilian ships is supposed to be very rare indeed. In addition to doing right on any financial terms, I can promise that I will make any lawful inquiry a to what happened with the Beowulf, and, if I can, tell you what caused the...what happened."

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    The more the Tellarite speaks, the more frustrated and aggrieved Kylah gets. Fastening such importance to money when clearly someone's life is on the line! And the entire Tesla crew are survivors of a near-deadly crash, yet even providing simple shelter and medical assistance seems immaterial; only payment seems uppermost on their minds--Maude's as well.

    She remembers one formal event back home some years back, a dinner with Klingons present, when a general tried to boast of all the vastly superior reach the Klingon Empire has throughout the quadrant, including races as yet unknown to the Federation and their meager alliance.

    One society he spoke of with particular contempt--and that is from a Klingon, whose contempt towards others can only be dwarfed by Romulans'. He described them as small little creatures, large heads and enormous ears, who thought of little but acquisitions and commercial trade. If the House of the Silver Weeping Tree and the Royal Council wished to make use of their grasping nature, the Klingon bragged, they would be quite a useful trading partner for a planet as mineral-rich as Elas.

    It was not beyond Klingons to lie, especially when involved with what they considered "diplomacy" (clumsy at best, Kylah felt). Which is why her Uncle took advantage of Kylah's abilities to ferret out such deception. And while she was not certain of this tale's veracity at the time, Uncle Aldaan waved her off from doing research; the matter was considered inconsequential to the Council, and they let the matter drop.

    And indeed, at no time since, either before or after her joining Starfleet, has Kylah ever heard mention of this likely mythical race.

    But right now, staring at the Tellarite who would focus on loans and recompense at such a time... well, she can better believe such a greedy society exists.

    She has kept her mouth shut while the Doctor--an excellent communicator, she notes--and Lt. Graham talk to the Portmaster. But she must back them up and add one question.

    "It is as they said, Portmaster Goll. We will give you whatever we owe, a fair price or whatever we incur during our stay. If you accept credits we will vouchsafe their value. This is our mission commander in danger, sir. I can assure you, you will be well rewarded. I have plenty on hand even personally, I would be willing to..." Her voice falters. Something nags at her and makes her uneasy, but the current situation is more important than figuring out the source of her discomfort.

    She shakes her head free of such distractions. "But as to being unable to communicate outside the system... is that always the case, sir? There are no subspace relays nearby? Or is there interference from some celestial body? I would be grateful for the opportunity to attempt to connect with someone. There are ways to magnify signals considerably. And of course, all such efforts and assistance, along with the provision of the technology we may need, will be generously compensated," Kylah adds respectfully, despite the annoyance raging inside.
    Last edited by choie; 29 Jan 2023 at 05:20 PM. Reason: PoRtmaster, dammit! He's not Louis DeJoy FFS.

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    Nia blinks, surprised and alarmed to realize she's apparently slid from the bed to her feet. She only intended to search the room with her gaze, but she must be so out of it that she's barely in control of her actions. Even so, she's leaning against the bed for support when the nurse orders her back up. And it's a testament to how crappy she feels that Nia doesn't tell the obnoxious nurse to, frankly, perch and rotate.

    But she's glad to be horizontal again, and especially under the covers, and since she's reliant on these medic personnel for what remains of her very life, Nia refrains from giving the waspish nurse any painful anal-related suggestions.

    She holds her arm out for the Lexorin and waits for its restorative powers to kick in. "Yeah," she whispers in response to the offer of whatever she wants (other than freedom, apparently). "Something hot. Soup. Tea. Oatmeal. Anything, please." Again burrowing under the blankets, she looks up at the nurse, hating herself for being so needy. "And my... my communicator? The others... I want to know where my crew is." Closing her tired eyes that are beginning to ache from the light, Nia hesitates before exhaling her next words. "Please? I'm so alone."

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    The big Tellarite glances only briefly at Kylah, then turns his gaze back to Graham. "Good," he says, taking a datapad out of his coat, making a few notes on it and then pushing it across the table to Graham. "I am gladdened. Please review this, sign it and affix your thumbprint." The pad contains a short, straightforward contract, written in Federation Standard. It authorizes a loan of ten thousand monits from the Office of the Portmaster of Ollos to the crew of the Starfleet shuttlecraft Tesla. Graham will be promising, on his honor as a Starfleet officer backed by the full faith and credit of the United Federation of Planets, to repay the loan, with reasonable interest, within six Earth months. Either his personal payment, or that of Starfleet, will be acceptable. Graham has seen more than a few legal documents in his time, and he notices no troubling fine print or suspicious legalese.

    The Lexorin shot soon has Onn feeling better. In response to her request, the nurse brings a bowl of soup and a cup of tea, both steaming hot. The soup tastes good; the tea most definitely does not. A few minutes later, she also brings Onn her communicator.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Mar 2023 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Amount of loan increased - inflation! ;-)

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    Taking a deep breath, Kylah lets it out in a silent, measured exhale. She does not remember enough about Tellarite culture--if she ever knew it, which is doubtful--to know whether they are misogynistic enough to deem females beneath their recognition.

    If the portmaster does not wish to address her, she will not speak until or unless she is required. Anyway, Lt. Graham and the doctor have far more to contribute. Except, somewhat ironically considering the Tellarite's fixation, financially.

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    Graham glances at the doctor and Kylah after scanning the document. "Thank you, Portmaster--very fair." He signs and affixes his thumbprint.

    "In different circumstances I'd offer to buy us all a drink," he says, most directly addressing the Portmaster. "But as it stands right now--we're damn tired and one of our crew is still in hospital...if you could direct us to where we could get some rest, and, in the morning, secure some new clothes...well, we'd all be much obliged, I'm sure."

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    Nia finishes the soup, savoring the heat more than the taste, needless to say. But she's not picky. Her people grew used to eating saggy reeds in barely-filtered swamp water. She can deal with... whatever the hell this is. The warmth hits her throat down her esophagus to her stomach in an achingly delicious journey.

    "Thank you," she whispers to the nurse, both for the food and the communicator. Snuggling down into the covers so they're a virtual chrysalis, she turns on her side and flips open the communicator, thumb absently rubbing the keys as she tries to gather thoughts together.

    It's pointless, the Yorktown's too far away. But Nia has to try. If nothing else, should things continue in their inevitable direction, those who return the Tesla crew to the ship and retrieve her belongings will be able to pass along the message. It takes her far longer than it should to concentrate enough to hit the right keys, and only after the first line does she remember she can dictate instead.
    SINGH, CAPT.; VARGAS, CMDR; CHEVEREZ, LT. CMDR; VILLA, LT:

    I'm sorry to report that on our return trip from the penal colony, the
    Tesla had catastrophic malfunctions that cut off nearly all systems. We were forced to make a crash landing on Ollos. The log will give you details. I don't know what happened to her--I tried to fix her but I wasn't enough. Forgive me, Chief. Worse, we landed on ice and the shuttle sank. If you can reclaim her a full autopsy may reveal the cause.

    Speaking of autopsies, I might need one myself
    Nia coughs a wry chuckle before erasing those words.

    Then she gives a quick explanation of the unexpected repercussions of her having withdrawn so abruptly from the pure Bilitrium. For Villa's sake, she recounts what she remembers of the earliest symptoms, which go back further than she realized at the time. Then the effect of the frigid temperature on her system, taxing it to its limit. Her organ functions slowly ebbing to a hibernation, or possibly death. She emphasizes the extreme care and assistance by her able crewmates.
    I know this is a message in a bottle and won't reach you in time. I'm sending this on an open Starfleet-encoded channel, so maybe another ship will hear this too. If there's a miracle, and the Yorktown has completed its mission and can get here within... I don't know, frankly. Six hours? As many as ten? Not sure how long it'll be by the time this reaches you.
    Closing her eyes to search her memory, Nia recites the coordinates of the system and planet to the best of her ability.
    If someone can arrive with my tank, it might be enough. Or maybe you can contact some mining vessel near one of the known sources... I know some are very close to Romulan territory but...

    Of course I don't expect anyone to drop everything or endanger the crew; each of you have all already accommodated my unique needs more than I could have asked. In the end, please know that serving onboard the Yorktown was the most extraordinarily rewarding experience of my life.
    Nia stares at the small screen and the words that have been recorded. She finishes up her goodbyes quickly, apologizes again for her failure to return the shuttle or to keep her crew out of harm's way--and of course, mentions again how bravely the Tesla team performed through the crisis.
    I hope I'm wrong about my chances. I hope I wake up and give you the chance to chastise me for breaking our girl, Chief. And that Cmdr. Vargas can dole out whatever other punishments he deems fit. And mostly, Captain, that I can thank you in person for providing me with the honor of serving with you.
    Nia shuts her eyes and again falls back on her pillow, exhausted. With her arm lying beneath the covers, her thumb hovers over the SEND button. Then she presses it.

    She looks up at the white blankets covering her, breaths shallow. She argues with herself. Then she flips open the device once more. This time, she forces herself to type. She doesn't trust her ability to speak without emotion right now.
    GRAHAM, LT.

    I'm still conscious. Probably not for long. I need to know what's happening. Please report and debrief. I'm still CO, mister, while my mind's capable.
    The backs of her eyes prickle and burn, and she closes them again. She's feeling the weight of the world on her chest and she's barely awake.
    All of you need food and rest. That should come first. I just don't know if I'll be able to see you and I need
    Frowning slightly at her screen, Nia whispers no and intends to delete the line. Instead, however, her fingers twitch unconsciously and hit the SEND button early. After a groan and another dry, grim chuckle, she shuts the device. They're probably already asleep anyway.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 31 Jan 2023 at 08:38 PM.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen just waits for the Portmaster to get on with it. Rationally, he knows that the Portmaster must not appreciate having been awoken in the middle of the night to deal with a rogue ship, and that overseeing trade, including, in this case, making sure everybody gets paid, is automatically in his scope of responsibility. So he does not say or do anything to annoy him further; he just hopes that, the document having been formally signed to his satisfaction, there will be no more delays before he gets to the admittedly non-trivial task of purveying them some Bilitrium. If there are, he will certainly speak up.

    He apparently missed much of the inevitable speer concerning their crash, and there is obviously some story behind Lt. Graham's mention of lethal force against ships, but he will find out later. Right now, he is dead tired and has his own business to worry about, which cannot wait. If not for that, Graham's suggestion to get some rest would sound pretty good; and he would bet Maude knows where they can get some appropriate clothes.

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    "Might we have our uniforms laundered overnight?" Kylah murmurs distractedly, before adding a hurried "for a price?"

    Her exhausted mind is occupied with trying to understand what is happening with Lt. Onn and wondering if Velir and Ens. Rawlings are still in a ward or hospital rooms or wherever they were healed, or if they are sufficiently recovered to rejoin the group--if only for a small evening meal, and to discuss their current stranded situation.

    "Sir," she says to Lt. Graham, "I feel it is my duty to attempt to notify the Yorktown what has happened. Lt. Onn ordered me repeatedly to make that a priority. Even without the concern over her... ailment..." Kylah is not sure exactly what to call whatever is happening with the older woman. "...We will be expected to return by--by--" Having lost all concept of time, she realizes she knows neither how long they have traveled nor precisely when they were supposed to return to the ship. "Well, probably only a few hours. Before morning, surely. With no trace of the Tesla, how will they know to find us?"

    She turns to the Portmaster and invests her words with as much humility as she can muster. "If you please, sir: are there any ships heading out before morning? Perhaps we could ask--that is, commission--someone to transmit a message for us."

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    Kylah looks tired...no, she looks like shit warmed over, Graham thinks--although I've seen her looking far worse...

    But her questions, and her dangling more credits in front of the Portmaster are smart.

    Graham nods approvingly. "Good ideas, Ensign. I'm pleased to see you're on the ball despite the lateness of the hour."

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    The Lieutenant's compliment is unexpected but of course quite welcome. Kylah does take some pride in the fact that she has been focusing on the party as a whole, rather than being myopically limited to her own immediate troubles. Tired as she is, she still feels more... alert? Aware?... of the absent members of their team. Even more than the superior officers at times. She darts a surreptitious look at the Security officer, expecting him to call her aside to make a request, but as far as she can tell his emotions are not what she would expect them to be.

    But of course, the reason is immediately clear, and she flushes when the answer comes to her: of course he is tired and she more conscious of various business that ought to be attended to. Unlike the others, especially Lts. Graham and Onn, and Dr. Mäkeläinen too, Kylah put forth almost no effort during the shuttle crisis. Not nearly as the rest did. Except for Mr. Rawlings due to his injury.

    Her eyes widen in surprise with a realization. Why... this is the first time I have escaped injury on a mission. She checks her left wrist, which is a little purplish and sore from the harsh landing. As usual, it is particularly prone to such aches--it will not let her forget being bitten by that Slime Beast back on the Sakathian station.

    Still, a bruise and a little soreness? It is nothing to her.

    She gives a little start when she hears a quiet buzz of a communicator notification. Immediately she takes hold of her communicator from her duty belt--it must be Velir, she thinks or rather hopes--but disappointingly, there is no vibration or little light to indicate a message. She must have misidentified the source of the sound. Likely someone is contacting the Portmaster. Or the (thus far) gratifyingly silent Maude.

    She returns to her wish to mention something to Lt. Graham. He seems highly in need of rest, and she does not wish to delay him, but... Kylah hesitates, tugging at her lower lip in consternation. How should she tactfully express something personal?

    "Thank you sir," she says to him at last. "Getting in touch with the Yorktown is our top priority. After all, if we are unexpectedly delayed without a trace or hint of our situation, people might be quite worried. Especially those who--who are close to us."

    The last words are spoken with gentle emphasis, accompanied by the quickest of glances toward the ring finger of Lt. Graham's left hand. Her caring gaze flicks back up to meet his. "If I am successful and able to transmit a message somehow," she finishes softly, "do you wish to convey something to anyone in particular?"

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    Graham smiles a sincere albeit exhausted smile, hand belatedly dropping to his hip where...I think it did?...his communicator had buzzed.

    "That's very thoughtful, Ensign," he replies quietly. "Be clear that we're all OK, and I am sure they will let Marala know."

    Pulling his communicator out, he holds it over his lap and tilts his head down to check for any new messages.

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    The Portmaster takes his datapad back, glances at the screen, taps a few keys and puts it away with a nod. He now seems slightly more friendly. "It's too late for me for a drink, but thank you for your offer, Lieutenant. I've noted the loan on your party's communicators. You can each now draw on the funds. Maude," he says to the crawler driver, "take those who are able to the Starfarer, please. If the night manager gives you any trouble, tell him I would consider it a personal favor if he finds room for Mr. Graham and his crewmates. Those who are still ailing can remain here; perhaps some or all may then be discharged from the hospital in the morning." He says to Kylah, "You can have laundry done while at the hotel. There are, hmm, three ships breaking orbit in the next few hours; you may be able to make use of their comm facilities, or perhaps those of one of the other eighteen ships here. Our own transmitter will likely be back online by morning, in any event."

    Onn's message to Captain Singh and the Yorktown's senior officers goes nowhere, as she does not have access to a transmitter with offworld capabilities. With a flat, muted beep, it remains in the NOT YET SENT queue of her communicator.

    Graham, who is obviously well within communicator range, sees Onn's text appear on his communicator's screen.

    Maude and the two Tellarites rise and head for the door.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 03 Feb 2023 at 11:07 PM.

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    The notification sound produces a dry laugh from Nia, crappy as she feels. She turns onto her side, arms hugging her pillow, and just looks without interest at the various medical instruments and supplies, some unidentifiable, visible nearby.

    It's perfect, really. All that soul-baring for nothing. Failure to connect. Story of my life. What the hell was I thinking? Needless to say, that question has more meaning than a pointless attempt at reaching the ship.

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    "I will not be joining you, at least not right away," says Bizhi. "I still have to wait for Dr. Anikwata and talk to her. Please send me the details once you secure rooms at the hotel."

    He tells the Portmaster and Maude, "Thank you, sir and madam, again for your assistance. It could have gone worse for us, and we were lucky to come out of that crash at all."

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    Kylah nods gratefully to the doctor, who clearly takes his responsibility with appropriate seriousness. For Lt. Graham, however, she must keep her face neutral. The truth is, she is still a little taken aback by his choice of how to communicate his status to his new bride.

    "I--yes, sir, I am sure someone will let inform her," she says slowly. Kylah has never been married of course; indeed, she has actively avoided it, given the options she has been offered. But this all seems a little...cavalier for a newlywed. He need not composer a love note, but still...

    And Lt. Graham's demeanor is off in other ways, too. She searches his eyes for some hint, a slight spark, of concern about their absent colleagues' welfare. He is tired, yet his behavior is pleasant, and even in relative good humor judging by his smiles. Almost sanguine.

    In her experience, Lt. Graham is overprotective towards his crewmates. To a fault, at times, true, but even so, Kylah has personally been the fortunate recipient of his protection on multiple occasions--even when they were at odds. It is his most endearing quality. For this to be absent now almost causes her to wonder if something is affecting his mind.

    "But Lieutenant," she continues, "surely I cannot say we are all well. Half our crew required hospitalization and one is in jeopardy of--of losing her life. And she is your--" Kylah barely prevents herself from referring to his past relationship with Lt. Onn, and changes quickly to, "She is our commander, after all."

    She turns to Dr. Mäkeläinen. "Doctor, may I accompany you? I could use help in composing a succinct message to the Yorktown regarding everyone's health status. Actually--" Another area of concern strikes her, one that Lt. Graham has always treated most seriously: their party has been separated. "I think we should make certain all three are safe. People have been separated from landing parties before, not always under their own volition, or with someone worthy of their trust."

    She avoids looking at Lt. Graham, instead sending her embarrassed glance to the floor. When she speaks it is very quietly, to avoid being heard by anyone but her two crewmates. "I do not lightly suggest any wrongdoing in a hospital, but locations are not always what they seem. In some of those instances when we were isolated, people were... that is, there were incidents..." Kylah steels herself and returns her burning face to the doctor. "Things did not go well."

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    Graham's attention is divided between Nia's alarming message...

    I'm still conscious. Probably not for long. I need to know what's happening. Please report and debrief. I'm still CO, mister, while my mind's capable....All of you need food and rest. That should come first. I just don't know if I'll be able to see you and I need

    ...and Kylah's voice...

    "Half our crew required hospitalization and one is in jeopardy of--of losing her life."

    The spark of connection between those two things is like a jolt of lightning into his heart. What...have I been asleep at the fucking switch?

    He snaps his head up. "Doctor, wait...urgently, situation assessment for Lt. Onn. And--is Rawlings fit for return to duty?"

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