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

  1. #1101
    Stegodon stolz's avatar
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    Is Kylah worried about him? If she were worried about herself she would probably stick with the security officers. This place looks like a normal hospital, even well-equipped as far as frontier hospitals go. It probably has to be, considering all the traffic through the system. [I am assuming all this is the case, since nobody actually saw anything weird...] Mercenary, sure, but if there were anything unseemly going on, it probably would have already transpired.

    Kylah's sudden concern and cryptic warnings momentarily throws him out of kilter and makes him feel queer; or that could just be pure fatigue mingled with adrenaline catching up to him.

    Dr. Mäkeläinen says to her, "Yes, you may join me if you like. I'm going back to the emergency room, where everybody else is. Mr. Rawlings is ready to be discharged, if he hasn't been already, and they should let Mr. Rangin go soon. The doctor promised to check with ships in orbit for that Bilitrium. It could be good news or bad news; either way, there will be a lot of work to do. I warn you it may not be very interesting to watch. Nor is it my ER, so I expect to do some waiting myself. They do have coffee, and other hot beverages.

    He tells Graham, "Rawlings is fine, Lieutenant. He's probably milling around the Emergency Room wondering where we are. Lt. Onn​—​it's no secret by now she needs Bilitrium to breathe. I wouldn't have mentioned something like that, but the Portmaster had to know why we suddenly need a rare and volatile element in the middle of the night, especially if he is going to make it happen. I was just saying, the ER doctor is on the local comms network scouring all the ships in orbit to try to find some. Best-case scenario, we purchase what we need and the lab here can prepare it; she will still be spending all night in the hospital, at the very least. Without it... I think we can keep her alive, but you should be aware she could lapse into a coma-like state."

    Despite everything that is going on, before/if the crew splits up, Bizhi will not forget to pay Maude off, plus 25 percent. He did promise.

  2. #1102
    Member Elendil's Heir's avatar
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    Maude flops back down into her seat. She pulls out a personal datapad and says, "The meter's running. Let me know when you're ready to go."

    The Portmaster and his aide leave the conference room; the third Tellarite joins them from the Emergency Room, and they trudge out into the freezing night.

  3. #1103
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    If Kylah thought it even 1 AU near appropriate, she would be hugging Lt. Graham's arm now in relief and gratitude. She has only realized just now how long it has been since they all had someone in a position of authority. It may be wrong to judge Lt. Onn, but she has not been anything like at full capacity, physically and (more importantly) mentally.

    When Maude yet again asks for her money, Kylah puts on her most diplomatically correct expression and faces her. "Thank you again for your help. Perhaps you would like us to pay for what we owe now, and restart the...the meter, as you say, when we--assuming we leave for the hotel? I feel as if you might prefer having the certainty of monits in your possession immediately." If so, she will wait for Maude to tell her the current total and pay.

    Meanwhile she watches Dr. Mäkeläinen as attentively as her tired eyes can focus--a little better, now that she is so glad that Lt. Graham is more engaged, and that Ens. Rawlings is all right. Velir's continuing presence in the ER worries her, however. After a mere stun? She was stunned on OCIII, but by an unfamiliar weapon; she has nothing to compare it to, and does not know if it was worse or better than the low level setting on a normal phaser.

    Kylah shakes her head infinitesimally, still paying attention to the doctor. "I am very familiar with waiting, Doctor. I have been on both sides of a hospital room door, either waiting to be released or waiting for reports on someone else's status. It is not pleasant but I can bear it. Especially if they do have hot beverages."

    Her brief small smile fades quickly. She has put off thinking of what Lt. Onn is going through. "Is there nothing we can do for her? I suppose a blood transfusion would make no difference, if there are no internal injuries. Or an organ donation?" She grimaces. "A foolish thought, I know. Her physiology... I know nothing about it, her race I mean."

  4. #1104
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham shakes his head and rubs the back of his neck.

    "Thanks, doc....thank you, Mr. Kylah." Other conversation aside, he addresses Maude. "We're ready - but we'll go via the hospital, to collect our people. And...I need to see Lt. Onn."

    He nods crisply. "I assure you, as our doctor has, you'll be treated more than fairly."

  5. #1105
    Stegodon stolz's avatar
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    "I remember the way back." Bizhi starts heading back from the conference room to where he left Nia in the Emergency Room.

    Kylah seems genuinely sympathetic about her colleague. Were they on each other's nerves earlier? Seems like ancient history, already. Bizhi simply says, "Finding oneself alone, in a hospital, as a patient, is no one's idea of fun. But she is not alone. We are going to check on her, right now. And nothing is the last thing we are going to do for her; far from it.

    "It is a good thought, but even replacing all her blood would not help. All of her tissues need Bilitrium, like there are trace elements without which your or my metabolism would eventually fail." Maybe there is some sort of substitute, or it does not have to be pure elemental Bilitrium? Humans can breathe certain liquids instead of air, for example, but oxygen still needs to be introduced into the system. After going to see Nia, he had really better see what Dr. Anikwata has come up with, if anything.

  6. #1106
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    Muade accepts payment from Dr. Mäkeläinen with a smile. To Kylah she says, not unkindly, "As long as I'm sitting here I'm not at home, happy in my nice warm bed, so the meter's still running, honey."

    Back in the ER Dr. Anikwata tells Dr. Mäkeläinen, "I've confirmed there's no Bilitrium on the planet, so I've sent a request to the medical officers, or the equivalent, of all the orbiting ships, but nothing yet. By the morning, I hope."

    Rawlings is completely healed and eager to leave, despite, like the rest of you, being very tired. He yawns hugely. Rangin is also ready to go, but Dr. Anikwata, being less knowledgeable of Coridanite physiology, would prefer to keep him in the hospital and under observation overnight.

    She says you may now see Onn, if you wish.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 10 Feb 2023 at 08:13 AM.

  7. #1107
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham claps Rawlings on the (uninjured) shoulder. "Good man, Rawlings. Glad you're with us." Then he adds "Dr. Mäkeläinen, I'm inclined to bring Mr. Rangin along, but where Rangin spends the night is your call."

    He thanks Dr. Anikwata. "Then I'll see N- Lt. Onn now, thank you."

  8. #1108
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    "I say it's up to him," replies Bizhi. "The ER doctor is right that, by the book, he should stay under observation for another couple of hours, in case there are any late effects." What about that latent virus Kylah mentioned might have side effects? Surely that would already have kicked in if it were going to be triggered by stress? Better ask Rangin himself about it. "But, if he is feeling fine and wants to go, I won't stop him."

    Bizhi himself will soon not be much good if he does not get some rest, but he does not fancy leaving Nia alone---he definitely wants to be around should her condition suddenly destabilize, or, conversely, should some Bilitrium turn up after all. Perhaps he could snooze or kip in the waiting area, later. Though it will probably be cold. And he imagines he is starting to feel dirty in his uniform, high-tech wonder fabric or not.

  9. #1109
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    Dr. Anikwata shows Graham - and anyone else who'd like to come along - into Onn's private room. Rawlings and Rangin (who will indeed be heading to the hotel with you), perhaps sensing that Graham might like to be alone with her, take seats in the waiting room outside the ER.

  10. #1110
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    Kylah would like to see Lt. Onn, though it might be overwhelming to have so many visitors, especially unannounced. Too, while the Helm Officer has a casual demeanor, Kylah knows there is pride, too. She does not know what precise state Lt. Onn is currently in, but she must be ill and weak. Being seen like this might cause her undue stress. And since the other woman has often expressed some irritation with her, she might not wish Kylah's company.

    Of course, Dr. Mäkeläinen likely needs to check on Lt. Onn's status. Three would make them a crowd, so Kylah backs away before placing a delicate hand on Lt. Graham's elbow. She suspects he wishes to be alone. The pair are no longer... well, a pair... but there are still warm feelings between them. Kylah would know this without any empathic ability at all.

    "I shall wait, if she agrees to more visitors. If not, please send my hopes for her recovery." She doubts he hears her. She remembers how she felt while waiting for her still-living mother after the cruiser accident, for Velir after his. The circumstances narrowed her focus to the object of her worry. For Lt. Graham, that person is most certainly, understandably, not Kylah. Still she gives his arm a little squeeze of comfort before moving from the door.

    She nearly turns right to Velir to ask him how he feels, whether there was any damage from that monster--and to blurt how happy she is to see him, at long last conscious. But it strikes her that it might appear in poor taste until Lt. Graham is gone; she does not wish anyone to think Velir is why she is not visiting Lt. Onn.

    So instead she nods to Ens. Rawlings, murmuring that she is gratified to see his arm healed, and walks to a seat beside Velir. Kylah does give him a relieved look, but accompanied by no smile or word. This is not the time.

  11. #1111
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen stares at the ceiling for a moment, looking for order hidden beyond the runs of pipes and panels.

    Since Lt. Rangin says he is feeling fine and wants to go, as Dr. Mäkeläinen said, he does not interfere. A thorough examination (including checking how a virus may have edited his genetic code) can come later, and it is his medical opinion that that does not seem currently relevant, and also that he seems recovered from the phaser's effects and that he will be getting some well-needed rest in a hotel room, not going on his way to pull a double watch.

    He says to Kylah, "After they are done," meaning Graham and Onn, "we can go visit her. Our plan for later... wait for any news regarding Bilitrium, of course, and wait for planetary subspace comms to be restored if we cannot get a message to Starfleet relayed through one of the ships in orbit. And an early order of business, if we have to do a lot of sitting around, may be to scrounge up a couple of blankets.

    "If you will excuse me, I need to confer with the doctor." Dr. Mäkeläinen consults with Dr. Anikwata about further treatment beyond merely keeping Lt. Onn under observation. Small details like titrating the tapering off of the Lexorin, but also any ideas that might help to save her life. For instance, is there another substance, perhaps not a perfect substitute, but that might give her some energy, or at least keep her somewhat stable? He does have, by now, at least a modicum of information on Sidonian biology, which he can contribute to the discussion. As for the possibility of slowing down her metabolism, he asks if they have any cryosleep facilities, stasis fields, or anything similarly high-tech, and also about the possibility of an induced coma.

    Unless he does not get the chance because everyone will have slipped out during this discussion, he uses his access to the team's borrowed funds to pay Maude the agreed-upon amount owed for the trip to the hospital, generously augmented, but this will not include the upcoming ride to the hotel, which Lt. Graham can deal with. He uses the opportunity to ask a presumably placated Maude if she knows a good place to get appropriately warm clothing like work coveralls; something decent-quality from the slop trade, not the even more outrageously expensive apparel normally offered to everyone who does not know any better.

  12. #1112
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    Surprised and (despite the severity of the circumstances) pleased that Dr. Mäkeläinen is specifically informing and including her in his proposed actions, Kylah nods, thanks him, and watches him leave with purpose to see the other doctor.

    She sits back slowly, embarrassed that she does not know exactly what Bilitrium is or why it is so rare. Lt. Onn seems to breathe perfectly normally on the Yorktown and on missions. But again she knows nothing of the Sidonian race. Not even a word of their language. It is, naturally given the obscurity, not a course of study at the Academy--at least, not when she was there. (Almost a year ago, she realizes with a little start. It does not seem so very long, while simultaneously so much has happened since graduation, it might as well be a decade.)

    At last she turns to Velir. "How are you? You were out for so long..." She peers into his eyes to see if he has the lingering dazed effect of the stun. Her fingers, gripping the edge of her chair, surreptitiously slide over to his and brush his skin with the gentlest of strokes before quickly pulling them back. "I was afraid," she says, stating what is no doubt obvious to him. "Did the doctors say if you were injured from the--I forget the name--oh yes, the icevamp?"

  13. #1113
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    Rawlings tells Kylah, "I'm fine, thanks." He yawns again, hugely. "Just really tired. And hungry, come to think of it."

    Rangin smiles crookedly says to her, "The icevamp didn't get me, I guess," gingerly feeling around his neck and upper chest. "No puncture wounds, fortunately. The phaser blast caught me a little, but I feel all better now. Thanks for asking. How are you doing?"

    Dr. Anikwata tells Dr. Mäkeläinen, "I think continued dosages, as needed, of Lexorin should get her though the night, at least. No helpful word yet from any of the orbiting ships, but a lot of 'No, sorry' responses. I'm looking into Bilitrium substitutes, but nothing quite seems to fit the bill, given how little is known of the Sidonian physiology. I have no cryosleep facilities or stasis fields, sorry. Wish I did! An induced coma is an extreme step and I'm not willing to consider it yet."

    Maude is happy to accept payment from the Starfleet physician. She looks not quite so grumpy as she waits to take you to your hotel. She says, "Lefty's is a good place for warm, useful clothes of all kinds. They're closed until the morning, though. I think they open at 0900."

  14. #1114
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham clears his throat, take a deep breath, and enters Nia's room.

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    When Ens. Rawlings mentions hunger, Kylah automatically puts her hand on her belly, which is both flat and right now, quite empty--something she did not really notice until now. She is tired too, of course, and Mr. Rawlings's yawning is contagious. Covering her mouth, she follows suit but is alert when Velir speaks.

    "I am as well as can be expected." She watches him rub his neck and must tamp down her instinct to ask if she might do so for him. Kylah would be grateful for the chance, but he would refuse such intimacy in front of their colleagues for the same reason she does not offer. "Grateful to have made it here, but extremely sorry for what the Lieutenant is going through. I do not...fully understand it," she adds in a feat of understatement.

    The sounds of the hospital, echoing voices and machines and people moving about, fill the brief silence. "I should have said something. There was something different about her throughout the trip. She was not herself. Not that I have really spent much time with her other than missions. I do not think she thinks well of me as an officer, to put it mildly. Yet she was kind to me when I had that--the panic attack. In the gym." Her cheeks warm and she looks back to the door where Lt. Graham has just entered. "That speaks well of her."

    It occurs to her that she sounds as if she is practicing for a eulogy. "All this reminds me of Lt. Fujishiro," she says softly. "Of course I hope it goes very differently, but--" Kylah shakes her head slightly, focusing on Dr. Mäkeläinen farther down the hall, and hurries to change the subject. "Perhaps I should look for some food dispensaries... vending machines, whatever they call them here. I could bring the two of you back some coffee or tea, at least. Or maybe we should all go to get something to eat, maybe with Dr. Mäkeläinen?"

  16. #1116
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is, naturally, frustrated, but not really surprised at the lack of Bilitrium procurable from the first ship or two that happen to be nearby. He does not understand what is going on with the system's main subspace relay, but he is pinning more hopes on it being available by morning, as the Portmaster hinted, or on them finding a ship that can relay a message for them. He really needs to talk to Ens. Kylah about communication possibilities. That one thing will open up a range of hopeful possibilities, like arranging an emergency medical evacuation.

    "I understand," he tells Dr. Anikwata, "and I thank you for your diligent help with this even though it must be monopolizing a lot of your time. I agree with you about the Lexorin, and we are trying to find a working comms relay soonest, to seek any possible off-world resources."

    He does want to go in to see Onn, to see for himself how she is doing, and not to deliver bad news but to try to reassure her. Should she and Graham still be speaking after he is done conferring with Dr. Anikwata, he will head back to join Kylah and the others.

  17. #1117
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    As Nia lies on her bed, waiting for the Lexorin to work its magic--seems to be taking longer now that she's worse off--she hears the door open and close. Somehow, even without lifting her head, Nia just knows.

    Doing her best to push herself up slightly, Nia stares at Booker in silence for a few long seconds, examining his state just as he's probably doing to her. His skin is mottled, red and pale, maybe even frostbitten. Are they even treating him? The others?

    His hair, usually neat in its ponytail, is fighting being reined in, disheveled, stray hairs framing his tired face and somehow making him look... softer. Which isn't the vibe she gets from him--soft, that is. His muscles visible beneath this... What the hell is he wearing?... this coverall-like uniform that's too tight for his biceps oh how I loved those arms around me are visible, clenched and taut. When he moves up to her, his familiar gait is tense, leg muscles coiled and ready to spring into action. For her? Nice to think so, but she's beyond his kind of action. He must hate this.

    And she caused it. Not just whatever he's feeling--the responsibility for which she finds gut-wrenching--or her own sorry circumstances, but the risked lives of the crew here and the wasted work of the Yorktown team who worked on the Tesla...

    "Book," she says, barely a croak. She can't hold herself up anymore and she lets her head fall back on the pillow. Groaning, she lets her muscles rest so that she'll gather more strength. There's so much she wants to say and probably not much time enough to do it. Overwhelmed, she focuses on the here and now: her duty.

    "What's... what's happening? What are they doing for you?" Searching his gaze, she braces for more bad news. Bad is all this whole impossibly long day has consisted of. A wellspring of despair whirls within her. The only way she'll get through this is by remembering that she's C.O. for at least a few minutes longer. "The crew. How are the others?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 20 Feb 2023 at 01:05 AM.

  18. #1118
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham knows he must look like hell, but Nia…

    She still looks cold, shivering even, and he’s not sure why the hell that hasn’t been fixed. Her skin is…not normal, gray. Her hair’s spread out all over the pillow behind her, it’s almost as if…

    They never found Jane’s body. Is that what she looked like, alone, fading…?

    But Nia’s not Jane. He can see her scales, and almost a silver sheen…

    Is this a defensive mechanism? Or…a prelude to…


    "Fine, all fine," he replies quickly, unnaturally so, not wanting what looks to be an already overtaxed Nia suffer further. He clears his throat. "It seems as long as the Portmaster can count on being well-reimbursed, he's more than happy to extend every courtesy." He pauses awkawardly and then shakes his head. "Nothing for you ro worry about, Nia."

  19. #1119
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    A brief silence falls as Nia's tense muscles relax slightly at Booker's words. He might be brushing her concerns aside in deference to her situation, normally something she'd resent and push right back. But shamefully, she's willing to let him pacify her. At least for now. She wants to speak to him, very aware of the time passing.

    "Hard to believe," she begins haltingly, her aching lungs hitching a little. "Couple of weeks ago we were giving each other flowers and books and picnics. Life sure took a weird fucking turn." Her best attempt at a smile flickers on her lips. "But that's how it goes. Plot out in advance, navigate all you want. Gonna be asteroids you can't dodge. Novy Rostov, for one."

    She runs out of air and stops. The memories are too painful anyway. Inhaling, she gives a tiny shake of her head. "No. Don't worry, Book. I'm not ending this on a guilt trip. You made the best choice. We didn't plan for this, but it worked out. She'll be good for you. Already is. I wouldn't've been able to give you what she can. I mean, I'm so..." Nia swallows with difficulty and her hands fumble for the cup on the tray attached to the bed.

    * * *

    Graham’s reactions aren’t as fast as they were when he was practicing quick-drawing a phase in the Academy–over and over, for hours and hour–but there’s still some muscle memory there, he thinks, jerking forward to ensure the cup stays upright, and he can guide into her hands…or to her lips, if necessary.

    “No one’s ending anything,” he answers tightly while leaning to support her movements. “Not here, not now, not this way,” he says maybe as much to himself as to her. “Nothing’s ending.”

    He wishes he could believe it with as much intensity as he says it.

    ***

    Once she finishes a long sip of the water, with his help, Nia shuts her eyes briefly, then gives a low chuckle before looking fondly back up at him. "Everything's ended for me. No magic'll bring the Yorktown here with my supplies. If there's actually Bilitrium anywhere nearby it's probably in Romulan territory.

    "But it's not only that," she says hoarsely. "My body's already giving up on me. Villa told me this morning--" She frowns. "Was it just this morning? I don't know time anymore." A few seconds pass as she breathes deeply, her lungs filling her with substandard air.

    Then she exhales the painful truth. "I've entered the Sunset. Prematurely. Years prematurely, I don't know why." Belatedly she remembers that he must have no idea what that means. "Sunset... that's the phase when Sidonian women lose their... fertility."

    Her gaze avoids him. "Being fertile's the whole reason I exist. At least according to my people. Everything I was taught. I know it's not true, rationally." A thin smile lightens her face. "Never thought that crap belief was still inside me, but, well. Guess you can take the girl outta Sidonia...

    "I had five kids before I was twenty," Nia murmurs as her hazy thoughts take her back to her planet, her heartache. "Never saw them after birth. It broke me and when I left I swore I was done. Never again. My years in Starfleet were spent celebrating--flaunting--that now I could choose what I did with my body, who I could be with. Breaking our Laws with birth control."

    Nia sighs. "Last couple of years, I've felt calmer. Really free. Free enough to be flexible. Maybe someday I'd change my mind after all. Have another chance. Another child. Just one. One I could keep, watch grow. With a partner who wasn't forced on me. I waited too long. I didn't realize what I felt until..." Booker's right in front of her, and they're alone. But the shadows of him at his wedding, with his new family of Marala and Nikolai, haunt her. "I--I just fucked up."

    The prickling sensation in the back of her eyes--a remnant from when Sidonians could easily produce tears--makes her wince. "I did, Book," she says, her voice soft. "I fucked up so much."

    * * *

    “Slag it from orbit.”

    The mission was classified, the stakes high. Maybe open war if they failed–one in which the Federation might start at a disadvantage, if their quarry and its payload made it to enemy space.

    And they’d fucked it up.

    Officially the mission was the captain’s responsibility, but the crew had been selected because they were good. They thought they were good–they’d all accepted the mission with swagger.

    And they’d fucked it up.

    Taken casualties: missing, presumed dead. Probably dead. Almost certainly dead.

    (Who wants to tell a family “dad was almost certainly dead before we vaporized three square kilometers around his last known location.”)

    Lost the element of surprise.

    Took too long.

    Fucked. Everything. Up.

    The feeling in his gut and heart at the moment makes the memory that Nia’s self imprecations just evoked feel like merely a random bad day by comparison.

    “Nia–” Graham blinks and takes a breath. He’s wishing there was something he could slag from orbit. Or smash.

    He forces himself to kneel by her bedside. “I know a lot about fucking things up. But…I’m sorry. I–I can’t imagine.” He shakes his head slowly. “I’m sorry Nia.”

    It takes him a second to collect himself, and even then he can’t help a sob. “The Fedration is not fucking Sidonia.” His hands grip the sheets. “We’ll find a way. We will find a way.”

    The last was a whisper: intense, intent, not even sure what he’s talking about.

    That you don’t die here. That you get more years of life. That you have a chance to…

    I’d been thinking about taking her to meet Lizzy.

    “We’ll find a way.” But his last statement sounds hollow to his own ears: it’s a plea, a mindless platitude, a last gasp of giving in to exhaustion.

    Or not.

    ***

    He's so close to her. Nia should be able to see every flickering expression in his eyes. But she can't fully read him. She's not sure if even he believes his reassurances. But she loves that he's trying. She loves that he's here, inches away.

    She loves--

    Abruptly her mind flees from what's begging to be said. Despite a chest heavy as if she's being slowly crushed by a boulder, she breathes through the obstacles. Truth is, the Lexorin is working and her energy's improved a bit--but her tight chest is from her efforts to smother her emotions. "Maybe. If anyone can find it, you will." Twitching her fingers, she reaches for the communicator beside her.

    "I... I wrote to the Yorktown. Where we are, why we're here. Explaining everything. Ruining the Tesla. Endangering my crew. I commended all of you. But I couldn't send it. No link. Stupid to forget that." Her fingertips push the device on the bed toward Booker. "Once you're able, will you... will you make sure to get it to them ASAP? After I... if I can't?"

    A shudder runs through her, no longer from the cold. Staring at her trembling grey-sliver fingers and the communicator she's essentially bequeathing to Booker, she closes her eyes. "Book," she whispers, in a small voice that no one's heard since she was a twelve-year-old girl preparing to birth her first child. "I'm scared."



    Graham by general_urko, Nia by me.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 22 Feb 2023 at 04:09 AM.

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    Rawlings smiles wearily and says to Kylah, "I can't tell if I'm more tired or more hungry, but if there's a roasted ox anywhere nearby, I think I'd eat it all now."

    Rangin nods. "I could go for a bite, too, if there's anything here worth biting."

    Dr. Mäkeläinen is told by a nurse that Onn and Graham are still talking. He returns to find Rawlings, Rangin and Kylah talking about getting something to eat before leaving for the hotel.

  21. #1121
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    A tired Dr. Mäkeläinen joins the other waiting crewmembers. His expression does not give very much away. "I forgot all about food," he says. "I did find out where we can procure some warm clothes in the morning." He looks down at his possibly stained, certainly not pristine Starfleet uniform. "I am rather ravenous, now that you mention it." He can tell eating will hasten him to the point where he can no longer keep his eyes open.

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    Graham swallows hard and closes his eyes for a moment, then places a hand on Nia's shoulder.

    His first vocalization is a sigh. Then her name.

    "I'll stay with you if...if..."

    You want me to?
    You might die alone tonight?


    He can't finish the thought and clears his throat instead. "Should I send for the doc?"

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    Kylah stands, a little unsteady from her own tiredness. "Yes, I hope we can eat somewhere close by. I do not whether we should wait for Lt. Graham. Do you think I ought to ask..." She takes a step toward the door but goes no further. Her senses are pervaded by something very... dark. Not ominous, not dangerous, just devoid of hope. It is too strong to come from just one person.

    "Oh," she says softly, the word drawn out of her. Swallowing, she shakes her head and retreats without a word.

  24. #1124
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    Once Booker places his hand on her shoulder, Nia automatically leans her cheek against it, desolate and in need of the comfort, warmth and tenderness of his touch. She expects, hopes for more, for him to hold her. The safety of his arms enveloping her, trying to protect her even if this isn't something he can vanquish. He would do that--offer a hug of consolation--for just about anyone, man or woman, relative or friend, much less a former... whatever she was to him.

    But there's no embrace. The sting of confused disappointment is swiftly followed by something worse. He makes a weak offer to stay "if." If. His continued presence is apparently conditional. Only if necessary. If she really requires it.

    If it won't take too long for her to die and let him get back to real life.

    She turns her head from him and stares at the opposite wall. She's laid bare her terror to Starfleet's most famous protector of Women Who Must Be Defended and gets a shoulder shake in response. She's no longer belongs in that category. If she ever did in the first place. The ease and sheer speed with which he willingly committed himself for life, not just for convenience, to a woman he last saw twentysomething years ago pretty much proved that Nia was never long-term material.

    Even so, it doesn't explain his behavior...or lack of it..now. Maybe she shouldn't have mentioned giving up her children. Or being newly barren. He didn't react with much sympathy. In fact he gave no reaction at all. Is that what did it? He can't comprehend abandoning her infants, anathema to his idea of maternal behavior? And now that her fertility is nearly over, she's losing the most purely feminine aspect a woman can possess.

    She wouldn't've thought he had a--what do they call it, something like a madonna/whore complex?--given what his sister went through. But that's the thing. Those bullies were lying about her. Fiona was innocent, not what the boys were accusing in their taunts. Wasn't even into guys at all.

    Jane was the mother of his child, taken from Lizzie only by death. Poor widowed Marala, of course, kept Nikolai with her.

    Nia's breathing is constricted and each inhale comes with a soft moan. She has one more dose left in the nebulizer over on the sidetable. But she won't ask him for it. Too much like that night when, both naked in her bed, they were interrupted by her choking attack. Afterward he lay there, allowed her to rest in his arms. That had meant so much to her, and she'd been able to sleep on the even, calming rise and fall of his chest. Not quite the passionate evening they'd expected. Maybe they'd have continued in the morning if duty hadn't called them to the Bridge.

    They'd tried again another night but his attempt at lovemaking was anger, misplaced anger, and Nia put a stop to it. She was right to do so, she still believes that now. She wasn't gonna be the sexual version of a punching bag. He seemed to agree once he realized what he was doing, but...

    With one thing and another occupying their schedules, the opportunity never came again.

    Her eyes close at the realization. That's probably it. He spent weeks with the ship's mattress and never even got laid. Only thing I was good for and he never sealed the deal.

    No wonder he grabbed at the Marala-shaped lifeline when it suddenly presented itself. One day of courtship was probably all it took to start where they'd left off. Their lovemaking must've been joyful. Tender. Familiar in the best sense.

    Better a warm-blooded human saint than a cold-blooded reptile-thing whore.

    "No, thank you. I trust the Doc's judgement; I don't need to ask," she says as steadily as she can. "You can all report to me in the morning if I'm still here." She means in the hospital but of course, there's an alternative, morbid meaning, She doesn't bother clarifying since that more grim option is equally likely--more so.

    Her sigh is like a creaking door swinging shut on exhausted hinges barely able to support it. "Otherwise, I guess... I guess that's it, Lieutenant." Nia closes her eyes and softly corrects herself. "Book."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 26 Feb 2023 at 06:23 PM.

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    Graham lets his hand linger on Nia's shoulder. The tenderness of her cheek against it...her beautiful and stunning skin against his scars...

    And yet I'm the one who's healthy and not in danger...

    "Nia..."

    That's all he manages at first: just stating her name in response to his.

    "That's it."


    He has no idea what to do.

    He clears his throat. "In the morning, then," he says, slowly rising, and turning to go.

    He manages one step away before looking over his shoulder at her face, eyes closed, then turns back to clasp her cheeks in his hands and kiss her forehead.


    "Nia" is just a whisper.

  26. #1126
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    The light cupping of his fingers on her cheek is unexpected, and Nia inhales sharply--a mistake, since her lungs hitch and protest, treating the air like a poison to be avoided. But though her chest hurts she is focused solely on the brush of his lips on her forehead, and he's staying here, just for a moment. At least he's giving her that. Despite the shield she wants to raise against anything that's more bitter than sweet, Nia takes what she can get. If these are her last hours, what use is there in being proud? She'll be remembered--or forgotten--the same either way.

    So she lifts her right hand to cover his. Barely a caress. Just a connection. Maybe their last. Maybe their most important.

    To her surprise she feels something wet on her cheek. Is she bleeding? Where? That isn't it. Can't be sweat, she's still cold. Fingertips still delicately holding Booker's, she opens her eyes and finds her vision impaired, Booker's face a blur. In disbelief, she raises her free hand to touch the few drops that have fallen down the side of her face and stares at the result. Tears.

    The wonder is swiftly followed by a wave of despair. Her body's losing its capacity to restrict loss of fluids. One of the most basic abilities of her race. Even that defense is gone.

    Blinking--it doesn't take much to clear her eyes of the few tears turning to hot rivulets down her cheek--she meets Booker's gaze. She could tell him what she longs to. It's just words. If she's facing death, what danger can three little words hold for her?

    She can't. She just can't. Frozen for a few seconds, instead she tugs gently at his fingers to remove them from her right cheek. But she doesn't let go. She just turns his hand over and kisses his wrist where his pulse is beating against her lips. She moves to the soft flesh of his palm and kisses it, too. Then, finally, she turns his hand one last time and presses her cool lips against his fingers, a last heartfelt kiss.

    A Sidonian would recognize these gestures. They were part of the bonding ceremony--something that used to be permanent, like marriage, but has lost much of its meaning over the years. Marriage is rare and Nia never expected to have any part of it. She knows she never will.

    Too cowardly to say what she wants, she expresses it through the silent language of her people's dying tradition. Maybe someday he'll understand.

    Finally, she lets him go.

  27. #1127
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    I love you.

    Graham thinks it.

    But it doesn't make it to words as he stands, turns, and leaves Nia's room to find the team.

  28. #1128
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    There is a small food dispenser off the waiting room and you're able to get some not-especially-appetizing packaged food.

    All of you but Onn go back out into the cold, and Mad Maude drives you to the hotel. It has seen better days but at least looks clean. The night manager seems about to turn you away but Maude mentions the Portmaster and he changes his tune at once. Kylah gets a tiny single room, and the four men are crammed into a room that really would be more comfortable for three, or even two, although you each at least have a narrow bed. Your funds are reduced by 650 monits.

    The night passes without incident, and you awake to a bright sun shining brilliantly on the snowy town and icy streets outside. The day manager offers to call Maude or arrange for other transportation, or some or all of you may choose to walk.

    Onn, in her hospital room, sleeps dreamlessly and wakes feeling, to her surprise, considerably better.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 05 Mar 2023 at 09:13 PM. Reason: Monits, not munits.

  29. #1129
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    Graham looks grim when he comes out of Onn's room. Is she that unwell?

    [Assuming Dr. Mäkeläinen gets in to see Nia before they all leave to get some rest] he tries to judge whether she looks better or worse. His professional perspective is that at least she is breathing and stable and out of immediate danger of crashing thanks to Dr. Anikwata's (and his) efforts, precarious though her status may be. He is not sure if she is in a state to listen, but he explains all that they have done and goes on to say that they are going to continue to try to access out-of-system comms; it was promised by morning but how can they know the veracity of that statement? In any case they will pay for a relay if they have to. He has to step out for some food and a little rest, but they will be back soon and he will bring her some better clothes and anything else she might ask for.

    The night does not pass comfortably, but that is more due to worry than to any physical discomfort. He is no stranger to spartan conditions, and, in any case, when one is tired enough blessed sleep comes upon one literally anywhere, possibly short of standing up unsupported. He worries about sending that emergency message by hook or by crook, like he promised, but that is really Ens. Kylah's purvue, even if he were to stay up all night, though he can help if it is a matter of talking to more people in parallel.

    Come morning, he will take breakfast to regain some energy and invites anyone who cares to join him in walking to Maude's recommended clothing outlet. Despite everything, he is still able to appreciate the sunny, snowy, utilitarian town.

    He asks Kylah how she is doing in general, and also whether an urgent status message to Starfleet can get through now that time has passed.

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    Kylah huddles in her large but inadequate for the weather clothing, greeting any of the crew who are in the vicinity. She notes the others do not seem to have had a very comfortable night, and she is a little guilty for having better accommodations. Hearing Dr. Mäkeläinen's question, she moves toward him with arms crossing her chest and hands stuffed beneath her sleeves for warmth.

    "I am well. Cold but well. I am sorry you did not have as much room as I. Really, one or two of you could have stayed with me. It would not have been troublesome to share a bed--" Her gaze falls on Velir and her cheeks, already red from the cold, add much-needed warmth with her flush. "Bedroom," she clarifies swiftly before she changes focus. "I intended to get up early to arrange for a subspace link, if one is finally available. I fear I overslept. It is terrible, the Yorktown will have expected to have heard from us hours ago. Indeed, I believe the time has past when we were to have met up with them."

    She turns to the Day Manager. "Please, sir, we do need to get to the Port Authority if that is the only place where we might test our ability to send a subspace message. Do you know if the problems have been fixed?" Kylah takes a swift look around at the bright outdoors. "If it is far I do think we ought to contact Maude. Our clothing is helpful but not...suitable for the weather. Though of course I can cope if walking is best," she adds hurriedly.

    How she wishes she had her marmot fur cloak, used during her few ceremonial trips to Elas's northern-most sub-realms. Soft as down but dense with long white fur, the cloaks--two for day use, and one for evening events as well--were excellent protection from the frigid temperatures.

    Kylah takes a surreptitious look at Lt. Graham, wondering how he has fared. "Doctor," she murmurs, "I assume you have not heard anything about Lt. Onn? If not, that would be... good, would it not? I mean surely they would have told us if... her condition changed."

  31. #1131
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    The doctor says, "I would have been alerted. ER patients' vital signs are constantly monitored, and they had nurses regularly looking in on her. It all looked ship-shape.

    "I know we originally planned to spend all night nearby, but Lt. Onn needed some rest most of all, as did we. I talked to her before we left. The best thing we can do is get on subspace and arrange transport out of here.

    "I was about to go through a place called Lefty's for some suitable clothing. We can't keep walking around in these thin uniforms, even if we are technically on duty." He adds quietly, "Also, we will be less conspicuous, with whatever is going on with that other ship."

  32. #1132
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    "I agree, doctor," Graham says. "We're sticking out like sore thumbs in Starfleet uniforms. All things considered, saving credits is the last thing on my mind so I think we should take the offer of calling Maude for transport. Let's get some inconspicuous - and weather appropriate - gear."

    Unless anyone says otherwise we agrees to the day manager's offer to call Maude.

  33. #1133
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    You have a decent breakfast at the hotel.

    Maude responds to the manager's call after about ten minutes, and pulls up in her crawler another ten minutes or so after that. She takes you to Lefty's, a cavernous, poorly-heated prefab structure not too far away. It is filled with second-hand stuff of all kinds from just about every corner of known space. Quite a bit of it is junk, but there's some good stuff, too, if you look hard enough. There is clothing of all kinds and styles available, including cold-weather gear, some items of which smell better than others. Lefty himself is there, a small, tired-looking Human male, and a young sales clerk who looks like she'd rather be somewhere else. Neither of them seem especially delighted to see Starfleet personnel, although Lefty smiles a little when he learns you have monits to spend.

  34. #1134
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    Our heroes are far from being naïfs, but do they actually know how much clothes are really worth? Bizhi is mindful of their rapidly disappearing supply of monits. He knows they will not be able to afford another night in a hotel, and possibly equally essential services, unless they are able to contact someone at a Starfleet disbursing office to authorize funds (and who knows how long it will take such an officer to verify their circumstances, get approval for emergency disbursement, of non-Federation hard currency moreover, and get back to both them and the appropriate local official?)

    But he was not necessarily going to look for coats of rare and expensive furs in any case. For his part, Bizhi looks for cold-weather gear suitable for a humanoid his size. He is not completely indifferent to looks, but he primarily selects for useful functions and features like active heating/thermal regulation. Hopefully his past experience with specialized Martian clothing gives him at least somewhat of an eye for distinguishing quality functional textiles from junk and useless bling.

    "Nia will need something, too," he says. With the implication she will eventually be out of a hospital bed and in a position to need it.

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    With no response from the Day Manager at the hotel regarding whether the subspace communications system has been fixed, and as usual getting little of value from Maude, Kylah looks without much interest at the unappealing clothing selection. She suspects she could probably buy the entire lot if she wished, but nothing is particularly aesthetically pleasing and besides, her mind is elsewhere.

    Since the fastest way to get to a communications unit is buying something and leaving, she grabs something that seems roughly her size, seems warm--neoprene, it says, though that does not enlighten Kylah much. Except for her Starfleet-issue uniforms, her clothes are made from natural sources. The legs might be too long for her, but it is stretchy and it will probably be easy to tuck anything extra inside her boots.

    She finds a coat with a furry hood and tries it on, still distracted. When she catches sight of Lt. Graham, she moves closer. "Sir, what do you suggest we do next? I truly must get in touch with the ship--or with someone who can pass along the message for us. It is insupportable to be out of contact this long. They might be thinking anything happened to us. They will know something is wrong. Lt. Onn would not have lagged so far behind schedule. That is not her..." Kylah shrugs in the outsized coat, its fur hood temporarily falling over her eyes until she pushes it back. "Her usual style."

    She tries to see if the Lieutenant is trying on anything that will fit him, or if his own thoughts are taken up by thoughts of being so far from his wife, of being so far from the safety of the Yorktown, utterly without any means to leave, and with their commanding officer in a medical emergency. There is an empty hole, a chasm, between all of them, and it is hard not to get lost in it.

    "We might as well be in the Delta Quadrant," she says softly, her own thoughts drifting back to a dark place. "They cannot help us, try though they might, and we cannot reach them. Lt. Onn... I cannot imagine what it must be like for her to be trapped on an unfamiliar planet, desperate and surrounded by danger just for being here, regretting things, dreading that she will die in such a strange place..."

    Kylah pales and hugs herself in the coat's puffy warmth. Of course she is wrong. She does not have to imagine it. Beaten and battered in the dwindling twilight in a cold alley. "Anubis," she whispers to herself. "I wanted you to find me but could not fathom anything but how helpless and hopeless it was."

    Now too warm in the coat, she looks down and unzips it, having some trouble with the zipper through her hazy, fearful thoughts that make her clumsy. "Forgive me. This is no way to talk," she mutters when she finally pulls the jacket off and stuffs it in her arms. Kylah looks up at Lt. Graham again, sensing that some of her despair is bleeding from him. She tightens her embrace around the coat. "We will do our best."

  36. #1136
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    A day. How has it only been a day? Has it been a day? Nia reaches for her communicator to check the time, although her still slow-moving thoughts can't remember if it's auto-adjusted to local time vs. whatever time it would be on the Yorktown. As she looks she realizes that Booker didn't take the device from her, to pass along her message to the Captain. He must really think I'm leaving here, she thinks with a sad but fond shake of her head. She'll forward it to him instead. (Assuming the communicators can link to one another locally?)

    Nia pushes herself up against her pillows to a seated position, going slowly to avoid a sense of vertigo. Her stomach is empty as a black hole and she's almost grateful for the nagging ache of hunger. She eyes whatever wires or tubes she's connected to, wondering if any of them are some sort of nutrients. Almost certainly they're giving her fluids with electrolytes. Her mouth's still dry and she finds the call button to ask if she might have something to eat.

    If Nia's room has a window, she'll look outside at the sunny day and try to fathom what it would be like to inhale that crisp, cold air--what it'd feel like to be invigorated and alive, instead of having lungs that shrivel against the temperature and lack of necessary elements.

    In addition to being hungry, she's awake, which is more than she expected last night. She didn't even want to fall asleep, terrified it would be her last. But she did, and here she is, so... she gets another few hours? I don't want to spend them in bed, she vows, although with a wry, fleeting smile she thinks there might be one situation where a bed wouldn't be so bad to spend your last hours in.

    With her current endurance, though? She wouldn't last thirty seconds. She can think of men where that'd be plenty, but... not any she wants to be with.

    She coughs and her chest and abdomen ache with how often she's abused those muscles. It's automatic for her to reach for her nebulizer around her neck, so she does, but... it's not there. It's empty, anyway, wherever it is. She managed to reach for and use its last precious dose last night, after Book left and after that sweet kiss, did I dream it? Please let it be real.

    Book. And the crew. What are they doing now? Are they in contact with the ship yet?

    Jaw jutting as firm as cement, Nia stares out ahead of her. "I'm getting out of here," she says aloud to no one, her voice weak and rough but determined. "I will be with my people when I go."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 07 Mar 2023 at 02:24 AM.

  37. #1137
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    "That's good to hear, Doctor," Graham reflexively says when the doctor implies Nia will be...up and at 'em A-S-A-P...his own thoughts mock his thin reed of hope.

    Deluded hope? Selfish hope? Hope...

    Hopeless. Helpless.

    It takes him a second focus on an earnest Mr. Kylah, and for all of her earnest--and commendable--efforts to stay on mission and focus the team's attention, she might have been a Denebian Slime Devil ripping out his heart and giving it a good chew before pissing on it.

    Hopeless. Helpless.

    Like Nia.

    Like Jane.

    You saved Marala...

    But at what price: I was going to bring Nia to meet Lizzy.


    A fiendish jester-like Graham flashes before his eyes, garish smile, dancing in front of a bedridden Nia.

    Look now I've got a s-o-n...

    He paws at some greasy looking fake leathery tunic - that nonetheless looks cheap and warm.

    Graham's first attempt at replying doesn't work. It's just a "wh--" sound.

    He clears his throat, forcing at least the outward shell over his hollow void to look resolute.

    "We need to contact the ship, you're right. Any Starfleet ship. By any and all means necessary."

  38. #1138
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    The hotel's day manager had no update for you on communications links offworld.

    With some diligent searching, you can all find cold-weather gear that fits you and isn't too expensive. Please specify if you'll just be buying outerwear, or a replacement for your Starfleet uniform too (shirt and pants).

    Onn is able to reach the communicators of Graham and all her Yorktown shipmates on Ollos.

  39. #1139
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    Kylah bites her lip in consternation over the churning emotions evident in Lt. Graham beside her, so carefully controlling himself despite the dark, bleak veil shrouding him. Guilty for having said anything, she looks around self-consciously to make sure no one sees them.

    Once she is confident others' attentions are elsewhere, she moves closer to Lt. Graham and tucks her arm underneath his, resting her cheek against his sleeve and giving him a quick but warm, one-armed hug. "We will do so, sir, thank you," she says softly, and then--even more quietly: "You help make me stronger."

    Slipping away to allow him his privacy--and out of embarrassment for saying something so personal--she takes heed of Dr. Mäkeläinen's remark about finding something for Lt. Onn... who, hopefully, will have use for it despite the grim prospects. Kylah's eyes scan the racks and tables. The older woman needs warmth above all, so she searches for the heaviest coat that might fit the taller, well-proportioned helmswoman.

    The best option is in a section for male clothing, and Kylah moves to take a better look. It is thick leather, tough externally but with a soft fleece lining. Clearly it has seen many years of rough wear; some mended tears are proof of that. But though older, the coat is well-made, with waterproof hide that while stiff now, could probably feel smooth as butter if carefully tended. Whatever injuries the garment has endured, it has been skillfully--albeit visibly--stitched together, and rugged enough to protect from the elements.

    It is like Lt. Graham.

    Flushing at the thought, which he might not appreciate, she drapes it over her arm. He might not approve or agree with the comparison, but the truth is, Kylah knows he too would protect Lt. Onn from anything if he could.

    Laden by the coat, Kylah brings it and the black thermal ski suit for herself (which serves as a replacement for her uniform as well as an outer garment), and the fur hood, toward the front of the store. At the last minute she spots a pair of fur-lined mittens and impulsively grabs from a bin. They are almost clownishly big and floppy on her hands, but the warmth is undeniable and that is what matters.

    Plonking her heavy burdens on the counter, and giving a little nod of greeting to "Lefty," she turns to see if the men are on their way. And some claim women take longer to buy things, she thinks with amusement. Kylah is somewhat proud that she never takes long to shop. (That this talent is due to having almost unlimited funds, which allows her to buy whatever catches her fancy, does not immediately cross her mind.)

  40. #1140
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    Bizhi does look for some serviceable shirt and pants, or sark, trousers, robe, tunic, jumpsuit, essentially something or anything that resembles the ordinary clothing he has observed local civilians wearing. It cannot cost much more on top of decent outerwear, and, after all, who knows what might happen? He could fall into a frozen lake and get soaked, for example, and then where would he be without a change of clothes?

  41. #1141
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    "You help make me stronger."

    Graham tries to come up with words to respond, but fails before Kylah moves away.

    Marala made me stronger, when I was weak.

    Too weak to make my sister stronger.

    Would Jane have said that?

    Would Lizzy say that?

    Nia?


    Nonetheless it's a lifeline.

    You show up to do the job.

    Graham looks for utilitarian shirt and pants and then some outer garments built as best he can find for both warmth and durability.

    I'll take something that can slow down a shiv as a coat given our reception so far...

  42. #1142
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    Everyone is able to find what they want, more or less, including by Kylah for Onn, and Graham completes the purchase. The final bill is for 422 monits.

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    Anxious to find news of the subspace link, Kylah bounces lightly on her feet while waiting for the transaction to finish. She quickly offers to pay from her account, at least from her portion of the monits if there is enough to pay for all. She glances at the bright outdoors and turns to the doctor and Lt. Graham.

    "If either of you is going to the hospital, perhaps you might deliver the coat for me? If Lt. Onn is... up," she finishes somewhat inadequately. Then she looks across to Velir and then up at Ens. Rawlings--quite a study in contrasting views. "Unless you are going. As a xenobiologist I would imagine you might be of great value," she says gently to Velir, then to Mr. Rawlings: "And of course you are a--"

    Kylah is suddenly at a loss for words. From comments here and there it is clear Lt. Onn and the Security Officer are, at the very least, friends, a friendship that was most likely not always platonic. "As a--colleague?" she concludes, even more inadequately than before.

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    Rawlings says, "I'd be glad to see Lt. Onn again, but I'll go where I'm needed."

    Rangin nods. "Likewise. Communicating with our ship and finding a way off this rock have to be our priorities, if you ask me." He looks at Graham.

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    Regarding the monits, Bizhi says, "I do not think we have individual portions. I thought that just about did it for our funds, but it seems the transaction went through. Otherwise we would end up looking for odd jobs."

    "As soon as we are done here, I plan to go straight to the hospital to visit Lt. Onn. At any rate, it does not look like anyone in this port is spontaneously going to go out of their way to help us. Those priorities are something we must actively pursue.

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    Kylah is suddenly aware that she feels a trifle... defensive, with a hint of irritation. Neither the doctor nor Velir needs to remind her that getting in touch with the ship is their first priority. She does not think she has been remiss in stressing the urgency of her finding a method to get in touch with one of the ships in orbit.

    And for Velir to be so unhelpful towards a dying crewmate is unnerving. He was so attentive to Lt. Fujishiro and they did not serve together nearly as long. Perhaps his dislike of Lt. Graham is spreading to Lt. Onn? It is an unworthy thought but while he is not human, he has his prejudices too, as everyone does. She glances at Lt. Graham, wondering if he notices the lack of assistance from an expert on alien biology.

    Shrugging off the vague sense that the men seem to believe she must be told of her job--possibly because she is the sole female active on this mission--Kylah turns and reaches to deposit the heavy coat for Lt. Onn into Dr. Mäkeläinen's arms. "Thank you, Doctor. If she is awake, I am sure she will be glad to see a member of her crew. Especially one of those who can possibly assist her case," she says with a note of acerbity aimed in Velir's direction. "Please take this coat to her?"

    She turns to Lucky. "I wish to change into my warm clothing now. Is there a dressing room or other area to do so, please?" A thought occurs to her, and Kylah again looks to Lt. Graham. "Sir, do we report our status to Lt. Onn, if she is... conscious? Or are you now... Has Lt. Onn..." An awkward pause ensues as she tries to think of a tactful way to ask this, and fails. "Is she considered unfit to command?"

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    Graham blinks and takes a moment to process Kylah's question.

    "She ah--last night she really needed rest," he replies evenly and reasonably truthfully. He clears his throat. "Next steps will be up to the doctor's evaluation..."

    He rubs his chin. "Give the potential hostility toward Starfleet the Portmaster warned us about, no one travels solo if we avoid it. Rawlings - you go with the doc."

    He pauses again. "As for the rest of us - well, in this case, Mr. Rangin is right, that's our first order of business." He adds after a second, "Unless Lt. Onn chooses to issue other orders."

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    Rawlings says to Dr. Mäkeläinen, "I think that's right, about the monits. At least, that's how I understood it." Naturally he accepts Graham's order to go with the doctor to the hospital.

    Lefty directs you to two none-too-clean changing rooms. You all change into your new clothes before leaving the store.

    Maude, waiting outside in the crawler, agrees to take Dr. Mäkeläinen and Rawlings to the hospital. Where do the rest of you wish to go?

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen nods and receives the coat from Ens. Kylah without comment.

    He is pleased with his new clothes after spending so much time, and, of course, so many days, in the same Starfleet uniform (and, not that Fleet dress ever featured prominently in his thoughts, but it lacks something, fashion-wise). It is nice to select clothes based on practical considerations. Plus, they are properly warm. He would feel even better about them if they had been cleaned in living memory, but he judges that any probable exotic pathogens would not have lasted that long, either.

    Lt Onn... he will have to see how she is, obviously, but, unless she suddenly took a turn for the worse overnight, as far as he is concerned she is still in charge of this mission. Not that she would be passing any physicals if it is exhausting just to keep breathing and stay awake for a few hours at a time. [A chill as he pictures the physical and mental sensations, and begins to successfully imagine how she must be feeling....] But what is left to do on this mission but arrange to get off this rock, as Rangin put it? So much depends on simply accessing a subspace relay. The wreckage of the Tesla will have to be recovered and every piece carefully examined, and there is that nasty business with the rogue ship or whatever it was, but it seems like they are in a position to help with none of those things.

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    Kylah tilts her head at Velir and Lt. Graham. She is part of a trio that she would not have anticipated to work alone together, and is not certain how well they will do so now. She hopes their usual... animus... does not rear its head. They are professionals but that has hardly stopped the men from clashing before. Velir can be caustic and Lt. Graham somewhat aggressive. Frankly she cannot tell if her presence will help or hurt their ability to maintain civil relations. Especially if the Lieutenant-- Oh! They are both lieutenants now. Well then if Lt. Graham is in as tense a state as he is now.

    With a little clearing of her throat, Kylah lifts a hand in the vague direction away from the hotel. Her furry mitten flaps a little and Kylah feels like a child wearing her parent's clothing. But the mittens were not chosen for their dignity.

    "The Port Authority, sir? Sirs," she corrects with a small smile towards Velir before sobering. "I should think that would be the best place to get in touch with ships in orbit, or possibly even access to a nearby subspace relay if the transmitter has been repaired." Her gaze finds Maude. "Have you heard if the system is back online, madam?"

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