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

  1. #1251
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham raises his left hand disarmingly (keeping his right loose and free to reach for his phaser or flip the table, if need be). Notwithstanding the standing guy's ominous behavior, he holds Pell's eyes, betting the others will follow his lead. "Mr. Pell--we are indeed Starfleet. We get it, the wounds are raw, and we'll leave you alone." He pauses for just a moment. "I know you've no reason to trust us, but I will tell you that what I've heard about the incident so far, something does not sit right with me," he says evenly. "So much so I gave my word as an officer to the Portmaster I'd try to get to the bottom of what happened." Now his eyes go from Bill to the other two men and back again. "And if that means some fellow Feddy's are held accountable for what turns out to be the unjust and unnecessary deaths of your friends, neither Kylah nor I will back down from making that so."

  2. #1252
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    As soon as the men turn hostile, especially the one reaching for what is undoubtedly a weapon, Kylah's first, heart-stopping thought is: Here is where it happens. She knew avoiding injury on a mission was too much to expect.

    She just sits there, frozen and mortified, while Lt. Graham talks in his low, authoritative but not aggressive voice. Kylah nods weakly to all he says. Her own hands are flat on the table, ready to push herself up to flee.

    "Yes," she says when Lt. Graham makes his promise. "He is right. We know nothing other than the bare fact that the Starfleet ship shot another. The Jaunty," she emphasizes, afraid of giving the impression that she thinks their friends are just anonymous victims on some meaningless vessel.

    "We did think it disturbing when we first heard. If--if you could tell us about what happened, what you might know? About the crew--your friends--or its destination... really, anything. We are so deeply sorry for your losses," Kylah finishes earnestly, concentrating on each man to see if any one of them is at least partially swayed by Lt. Graham's and her responses. If someone seems amenable to persuasion, she will focus on him. "And if we can help investigate what caused this tragedy, we will."

    Her mind races back to yesterday morning, or her watches over the past few days. Did she read or hear anything in various communications messages or news briefs about this incident? She does not think so, but she searches her memory anyway.

  3. #1253
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    "Gotcha, the're broken," Nia says, laugh-coughing as cheerfully as she can manage through her physical--and now mental--discomfort. "Well, I'm still curious about how far up we are. Your altimeter's not broken too, is it?"

    Even as she speaks, seemingly care-free, her gaze darts around the inside of the passenger area, or anything she can see of the cabbie's dashboard. In particular she's looking for any ID, either of the pilot (such as his name or license) or the registry/serial number of the vehicle. There's certainly no obvious reason to be wary--after all, usually a broken shipboard light is just a broken shipboard light. But she doesn't like not getting easy answers to questions any pilot should know, especially one who deals with tourists.

    Force of habit. If the cautious, savvy Doc M. isn't worried, and Double-T's security-focused mind doesn't seem concerned, she's probably overthinking this.

    But she can't ignore the fact that time's not on her side. If this cabbie's a mercenary guy who plans to take the scenic route to drive up their fare, Nia doesn't care about the extra credits or whatever the local money is. The extra minutes, though? They matter. They matter a lot.

  4. #1254
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen is paying close attention to whether the taxi begins descending or not. He hopes the driver has not decided to, well, take them for a ride, because if it comes to a dispute they have zero cards to play compared to a local. For that matter, he would just as soon pay a few extra monits, with or without a smit of pro forma argument, leaving the cabbie satisfied at having got one over on them, if it means avoiding more trouble.

    Nia is not feeling well and he can tell she is starting to get irritated, he promised Lt. Graham to report back soonest, and time is of the essence. He tells the driver, "We know it's not far; it's just that some people are expecting us at the bar and we are already late." Hopefully the cabbie has enough of an imagination to admit the possibility they just might be connected to someone who matters. "If you can get us there quick," he deliberately glances at the taximeter, assuming such is visible, or at least attempts to look over the controls knowingly, "let us say an extra ten percent for a short trip?"

  5. #1255
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    Pell seems somewhat mollified. He takes a long pull from his drink and grunts, not looking at you, "Talk is cheap. Just beat it, would you? And if you can get some justice for those poor bastards on the Jaunty, so much the better. Go on, git." Grend, the standing man, is watching Graham closely, but takes no further action.

    Onn can see no identifiers within the taxi cabin, on the dashboard or elsewhere, either of the taxi itself or the cabbie. He says cheerily, "Yup, almost there!" as the taxi banks sharply and then descends. It comes to a stop with a slight bump. The cabbie puts the vehicle in park and the windows clear. You are now at the curb of the Black Sun, which is in a black, near-ruined but sizable thermocrete pile with its name in zig-zagging purple hololights over the doorway. On one side is a storefront for Wo & Shade, Importers, and on the other a temple-brothel of the Secret Sisterhood. The cabbie taps his chin and says, "That'll be, let's see, three of you... 120 monits, with the extra ten percent, uh, so that's 132 monits."

    What appears to be a body lies partially buried in snow to the left side of the door of the bar. Another, smaller body, uncovered by snow, is beside it.

  6. #1256
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham nods and stands slowly, eyes on Grend, betting that Pell's not full of shit and likely to contradict his words and do anything rash.

    He'll move away from the table assuming and once Kylah is ready to do so.

  7. #1257
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    With a wary look at Grend, and a quick confirming glance toward Lt. Graham, Kylah eases herself off the stool. "I am very sorry to have disturbed your enjoyment," she says with sincere regret. About to turn, she hesitates.

    "If you please, Mr. Pell--any of you--we truly know nothing about the Jaunty or your friends, or what could possibly have happened. Is there someone we ought to talk to? Someone who knew their business, their activities... anything that might help us understand how this tragedy might have occurred? You see..." She pauses for a second. "If we just rely on the Port Authority, or Starfleet's accounts... we will not get a full picture. I think we should get a balanced account from both sides, to the degree we can. Do you know who might be able to help us?"

    If he refuses to respond or can offer no further help, Kylah will thank them and (gladly) return to Lt. Graham's side, to follow wherever he thinks they should go next. (Her gaze will also scan around the club to see if she can spot Velir.)

  8. #1258
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    While the cabbie discusses the fare, he might as well be speaking.... one of the millions of languages Nia doesn't know, and that the UT doesn't translate for her. She assumes her crewmates know what the transaction should cost and the appropriate exchange rates, but that whole issue gets sucked into a black hole named Who the Fuck Cares when she lays her eyes on the two dead bodies right in front of us, what kind of dezorai acid-spit is the deal here?!

    She lets Mäkeläinen deal with the money while she yanks her phaser from her belt, leaving it underneath her coat but keeping it handy. Without thinking she gets to her feet too quickly, her slowed circulation failing to make the adjustment fast enough. The resulting dizziness makes her sink back, practically on Rawlings's lap. Free hand clutching his arm, she murmurs an apology. "Sorry, T. Forgot my brain's running on fumes. I'm delegating this to you. You wanna do a spot check here?"

    Turning to face the cabbie--more slowly to prevent another bout of lightheadedness--she interrupts any conversation the men are having to speak to the cabbie. "Mister--sorry, you don't have your name anywhere, which by the way, you should. There are two dead guys, or guys who look pretty damn dead, right there, and I can't help noticing you're not reacting. Is this..." Nia can hardly think of a sane way to finish the sentence. "Is this normal? What goes on in this place?"

  9. #1259
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    Mäkeläinen pays off the cabbie with a knowing look. He can understand the man transparently looking after his own interests; the cabbie is unsurprisingly adept at quick mental arithmetic.

    As a physician, and a Starfleet officer, he does not panic at the sight of dead bodies, but it was previously told what he thinks of the kind of place where they are carelessly abandoned outside a busy establishment. He has never yet personally dealt with people that (literally!) cutthroat, and he hopes their friends inside are coping successfully.

    While Onn and Rawlings deal with security and talking to the cabbie, he goes ahead and scans the albeit very dead-looking corpses for life signs with a tricorder. If someone is not, in fact, completely dead he will naturally try to revive him or her.

  10. #1260
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    Pell takes a long draw from his mug. He mutters, "Hell, the Portmaster'll know the score. If you don't get it from him, find anyone from the Zephyr. They know what happened for sure. Now beat it!"

    Kylah thinks she may have spotted Rangin farther back in the bar, through the darkness and haze.

    The cabbie glances at the bodies and shrugs. "To tell you the truth, ma'am, I hadn't noticed. But it's not too uncommon to have a stiff or three outside the Black Sun. It happens, y'know?" He still doesn't identify himself. "Good place to meet people, great place to find a ship, but not exactly a Telegraph Hill tea party."

    Rawlings says quietly to Onn, "No problem, Lieutenant. You've got to take it easy. You're not all better yet." He helps her out of the cab and to her feet in the curbside slush and snow.

    Dr. Mäkeläinen transfers the monits from his shared account to the cabbie, who confirms it, nods, and drives quickly away, still on the ground. A tricorder scan reveals that both of the bodies are dead - a Human male, already dead for several hours, and an Axanar male, dead apparently less than half an hour of apparent knife wounds.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 25 May 2023 at 06:31 AM.

  11. #1261
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    After a hastily murmured "thank you" Kylah steps farther away from the men, keeping close to Lt. Graham. "I am sorry I made such a stupid blunder," she says, tiptoeing up to get closer to his ear. "I did not think of the fact that our crash would have made news. Do you think once we are back on the Yorktown we can investigate this Jaunty situation?"

    She peers toward the back of the club. "I hope he is getting on better than I. Velir," she adds in explanation, realizing Lt. Graham cannot read her mind. "I will follow your lead--you are far better equipped to handle all this without stumbling."

  12. #1262
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    Nia's about to ask what the hell a Telegraph Hill party is, but given the circumstances, she quashes her curiosity and lets it all roll off her back. Double-T's considerate assistance is just what she needs and, while the Doc checks the apparently very-dead bodies, she says a soft Thanks and squeezes Rawlings's hand gently before letting go. Hands shoved back in the fur-lined pockets, she shakes her head in disgust at the bodies, seemingly tossed out like refuse.

    A sudden ripple of concern makes her shudder--a worse feeling than the shivering she's been dealing with for what feels like days--and she quickly checks her communicator. Nothing. Shit. Is something going on in there? Wondering if...no, hoping it's just her communicator having issues from being immersed in water for some time, she darts a look to Rawlings. "Try to contact the others, will you? I'm getting nothing back from Graham."

    Nia turns back to Dr. Mäkeläinen and asks hoarsely, "That human. He's not..." She clears her throat. Of course it's not, but she has to ask. "He got an ID on him?"
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 25 May 2023 at 08:51 PM.

  13. #1263
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Graham sighs. "You did fine. This is a hell of a situation, Mr. Kylah," he rumbles.

    "Keep an eye out for Rangin--or anybody wanting to kill us. I've gotten notifications on my communicator I need to check."

    Assuming he's not interrupted, he reads them...

    Fuck.

    And replies quickly to Lt. Onn if her can:

    "We're in the Black Sun. Be advised Starfleet isn't popular."

  14. #1264
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    Rawlings stays near Onn, ready to help and vigilant against any threats from others.

    Dr. Mäkeläinen's tricorder scan does not indicate that either of the corpses have any items such as IDs on them. Does he wish to manually search either or both of the individuals' pockets?

    Onn's communicator vibrates with an incoming text. She sees that it is from Graham.

  15. #1265
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    Both Onn and Rawlings can surely see that the late individuals are beyond medical help. Dr. Mäkeläinen says, “I am loath to just leave them here, but I doubt we will find their caring friends and relatives inside. Since this seems to be a regular occurrence, surely someone will come by— judging by the ambience I would reckon organ harvesters for a black-market body bank, though if so they are pushing their luck in terms of freshness, despite the cold.” He makes little effort to mask his disgust. “They're dead, yet I would like to do something for them, but honestly do not know the protocol here.”

    Unless he has some good ideas what form ID takes on Ollos— genetic database, surveillance-net, implants...— personal items might tell them something. He does not know whether it is respectful to go through their pockets (though probably unremarkable on Ollos; what would be remarkable is if someone has not beaten them to it), so he thinks, what if it were he lying here? He would want word to reach his family rather than just disappear into space for good. In his case, from the items he is carrying it would not take a forensic genius to identify him as a Starfleet officer. Therefore, he searches both men.

  16. #1266
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    Lt. Graham's request for her to keep vigilance makes Kylah straighten--although her usual posture is, of course, already appropriate for a member of an Elasian royal house. She slips her hand into her coat to reach her phaser, then pulls it out surreptitiously. It might be more prudent to keep it hidden, but she does not have confidence in her ability to draw and aim a weapon efficiently, as someone like Lt. Graham would. Still, it is dark and crowded here, and Kylah doubts the weapon will be noticed if she keeps her hand by her side.

    While looking around for Velir, she waits an appropriate moment before asking, "Is everything all right, sir? Is Lt. Onn still... What is her condition?"

  17. #1267
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    Nia's hands are cold enough that it takes a second to realize her communicator is vibrating within her palm. She flips the device open and reads Booker's brief response. It's as if her lungs, having frozen, are melting and able to breathe again. To the degree they can breathe, anyway.

    "They're inside," she says to herself, then speaks more loudly to forestall Rawlings's need to follow her order. "It's him. Graham. He's inside. Says Starfleet's not popular." Her mouth twists into a smile. "Is it ever? Sometimes feels like I can name on one hand the missions where we've been a sight for sore eyes." More sober, she bobs her head toward the club entrance. "You're always prepared, but I guess that's the official heads-up from your boss."

    Nia watches Mäkeläinen searching. "We'll wait for you, once you've got an idea of who these poor guys are."
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 27 May 2023 at 04:11 PM.

  18. #1268
    Ape must not kill ape! general_urko's avatar
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    Kylah's question hits like a knife through the back of Graham's head.

    Because she...because I didn't want to think about it, but she could have been gone.

    He lets the moment of belayed grief and relief wash over him.

    The last thing they need in this place, Ens. Kylah most of all, is a display of weakness.

    Graham clears his throat. "She's giving orders, Mr. Kylah. On her way here." He swallows and forces a confident nod. "Let's not let her down."

  19. #1269
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    The dead Human has what appears to be a communicator in his back left hip pocket, and three tightly-folded pages in his jacket's only chest pocket. The doctor does not know why his tricorder scan did not reveal the communicator. The Axanar male has no pockets and nothing on his person that Dr. Mäkeläinen can find.

    The doors to the Black Sun open and a middle-aged Suliban woman merges, bundled up against the cold and blinking against the bright sunlight on the snow. She only glances at you and then starts to trudge down the street, weaving slightly as she goes.

    Another groundcar passes, dark red and dented, crunching through the snow.

    https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Suliban

  20. #1270
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    Distracted by the Suliban woman's departure--Nia envies the various genetic enhancements made to their systems, especially the ability to tolerate multiple atmospheres, which doesn't seem a viable procedure for Sidonian biology--she quickly drags her concentration back where it belongs. "Find anything, Doc?"

    She hugs herself and edges closer to the club door. She'd really like to get out of this frozen air, but Rawlings can't be split in two--there's enough bulk for two people, but that doesn't help--and Nia doesn't want to either enter this place on her own, or leave the doctor by himself out here in front of a pile of dead bodies. He might be arrested. Or, worse, he could be the newest addition to the heap.

    "And how did they die, anyway? The same way? Same time? Is it consistent with a bar fight, or... well, whatever might've happened in there?"

    The words are out of her mouth when she rolls her eyes at how slow her mind is working. Taking another look at her communicator, she types:

    BOOK - Right by club. Doc's investigating but maybe you know what happened. What's with the corpse trash pile? We walking into an abattoir? Is it safe for me to enter on my own, leave Rawlings w/Doc?
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 29 May 2023 at 09:28 PM.

  21. #1271
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    Graham checks his communicator, staying mindful to maintain awareness of his surroundings.

    "Toward the door," he grunts to Kylah as he sees Onn's message.

    "Rough place but under control ATM. We're moving toward the door, we'll have your back" he texts back unless interrupted.

  22. #1272
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    "A communicator and some papers." Is it a special type of communicator that he recognizes as associated with a specific group? Dr. Mäkeläinen holds them up so that Nia can see. The paper—if that is what it is—pages intrigue him: an uncommon material. The contents are potentially their best clue.

    "They did not die at the same time," he explains. "This man, the Axanar, is barely cold. Stabbed several times with a sharp knife. Could have been a bar fight. The other one has been dead for several hours, at least.

    "Beyond the bare facts, what happened is probably not too much of a mystery as it is safe to assume most everyone inside is lethally armed. We are," he points out, looking at Rawlings who looks ready for action with a phaser or otherwise. "I don't think anyone will simply kill us without warning or provocation, and most of the crowd should be hard-working officers and crew just trying to relax and pass the time, but I would lying if I said I ever walked into a bar where corpses are a regular part of the décor."

  23. #1273
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    The Suliban woman continues down the street and passes out of sight. Rawlings remains alert, but keeps his phaser-1 in his pocket.

    No one interrupts Graham and Kylah as they head back towards the front door. Rangin is apparently still somewhere farther inside the dark, smoky, cavernous bar.

    Dr. Mäkeläinen doesn't recognize this type of communicator, but is certain it isn't Starfleet issue, and thinks it may not be of Federation manufacture at all.

  24. #1274
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    Too cold to wait any longer, Nia nods her chin in the direction of the papers Dr. Mäkeläinen's holding. "Not that you need it, but you've both officially got permission to open those and read 'em. I'd also like to know a cause of death, if you have an inkling."

    She takes a step closer to the door and pauses, adding: "We've got no jurisdiction here, especially if he's not even a Fed citizen, but let's gather the info and hopefully we'll find somebody to hand it to. Anyone resembling a law officer or crimestopper or whatever they call it here."

    Nia glances back at Rawlings. "Stick with the Doc until he finishes with the exam. Hopefully those papers'll offer some clue as to who this guy is. Then get inside where it's warm. Graham says he's on his way to meet up."

    Just as she takes a breath, a blast of icy wind blows her hair in her face and freezes her nostrils and lungs with frigid air. She sweeps her tight curls back and tries to catch her breath. Despite moving to the entry to abandon the outdoors, she draws her coat even closer to her. She'll pause to see if the Doctor has something urgent to say, but otherwise will happily escape inside whatever this gaudily lit circle of hell might be.

  25. #1275
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    Kylah can sense Lt. Graham's urgency and does her best to scan the immediate area with her gaze to see if anyone is approaching in a suspicious manner. Her mind, meanwhile, also scans empathically, trying to be just as focused on the emotions of the clubgoers in order to catch any signs of open hostility.

    She wishes very much that she could seek out Velir through all these chaotic surroundings, since--at least lately--he is a calming influence on her. But this far away, and because of all these distractions, she knows it is pointless to try. So she restrains the impulse and tries to do her job as Lt. Graham wishes.

  26. #1276
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen tells Lt. Onn about any obvious cause of death he has already learned from his quick examination of the dead Human, like more stab wounds or a slit throat or burns from an energy weapon, or something that would have shown up on a routine tricorder scan, such as cellular disruption or lethal (rather than recreational) levels of drugs or toxins, or a mundane heart attack or stroke. Otherwise he says, "I have to take a closer look at him. Everything is well preserved by the cold, so unless he truly died from mysterious causes, we should be able to find something. It will take a few minutes, though. No point in you waiting outside."

    About the papers found on the body, he says to Rawlings and to Onn if she is still outside listening, "Agreed we should look at the papers. I would prefer to do it someplace less... conspicuous. Then we can regroup inside the bar." He looks doubtfully at the shady importers and the brothel (though the latter probably has some private rooms, for their own purposes). Is there any place nearby that seems out of sight, even an alley as long as it is not adjacent to the Black Sun?

  27. #1277
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    Rawlings says to Onn, "Yes, ma'am." He sees an alley just a little way down the street, nothing better, and he and Dr. Mäkeläinen go there.

    Onn enters the bar and is looked over by the two hulking bouncers; they let her pass. She sees, hears and smells much of what the others earlier did upon their entry. After a few seconds, she also notices Graham and Kylah emerging from the gloom, making their way through the crowd towards her.

    Kylah notices no one approaching in a suspicious manner. She does see Onn, however, outlined by the light of the closing main doors. The young Elasian woman's empathic senses, when she extends them, are immediately assaulted by a wave of psi impressions from those around her - most powerfully drunkenness, disorientation, lust, sneakiness, barely-suppressed rage, envy, wariness, fatigue, and too many others to count. She almost feels overwhelmed; it is hard to tell if any of it is directed at her or her shipmates.

  28. #1278
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    The flooding emotions temporarily risk overwhelming the young woman. Kylah looks around in a vain attempt to focus on those that are most likely in need of attention, but the clamor in her mind cannot easily be dissected into individual sources. When she spots the new figure in the doorway, recognition disperses her concentration entirely, then coalesces it on one person.

    Since she is a little weak from the empathic usage, she suspects her voice alone will not be sharp enough to pierce the chaotic noise and catch Lt. Graham's attention. Instead her fingers reach to curl gently around his wrist.

    "Sir," she says to him. "The doorway." Eyeing his face, she suspects her announcement may have been unnecessary.

  29. #1279
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    After the bright, frozen daylight, the club's darkness and warm atmosphere hit Nia like a wall. But that's nothing, not even a fraction, of the impact of seeing Booker Graham.

    Until this instant, she didn't realize just how much she's vastly underestimated the miracle that she survived to see dawn. She didn't expect to see it, and naturally it was a sincere relief to do so, to see Double-T and Dr. Mäkeläinen. And sunlight. And snow.

    But she hadn't said goodbye to any of them. She cares deeply for Double-T, of course, and despite only just meeting him the other day, she respects and likes Dr. M. Still, after seeing them for the last time last night, she hadn't had a thousand, a million regrets about having wasted precious time with the certain knowledge that she'd never get a chance to say all she wanted to. She hadn't cried over them. She hadn't dreamt of parting from them forever.

    All she's missed in her life, the children she birthed and never saw, the battle in Sidonia for the right of self-determination from which she fled, and especially the shared vulnerability of love she's avoided acknowledging and never expressed--it's all made manifest in the man ahead of her. The one who stands out in sharp relief from everyone else around him, making them into inconsequential blurs.

    Nia is both figuratively and literally breathless.

    Disregarding the flashing lights, thumping music and inebriated crowd members blocking her way, Nia uses all her considerable determination to stumble forward to get to Booker.

  30. #1280
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    Dr. Mäkeläinen watches Lt. Onn disappear into the bar.

    He hopes nobody is paying attention to him and Rawlings. Once they are off the street and in the alley, he says, "I still think that, on the balance of probabilities, we are doing the right thing trying to find out who that poor chiel was, but, even so, this is no way to conduct a forensic investigation." He foresees a lot of explaining to do, no matter what happens. "Please, keep an eye out for a minute while I take a look."

    Mäkeläinen carefully unfolds the pages they found and examines them.

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    Kylah's touch is unexpected but immediately welcome as it dials his attention in on...Nia.

    She's alive. That's a flood of relief.

    But she does not look...well at all. Least of all ready to navigate this hellhole safely.


    Graham is sincerely uncomfortable with what he's heard about the Jaunty incident.

    At the same time a phaser tuned to maximum output could blow the hell out of half this establishment, and if any means necessary become necessary...he starts processing the angles while he reacts.

    He gives Kylah's arm a squeeze. "With me, Ensign."

    And heads toward Nia, face expressing his state of mind.

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    Nearly swamped by the psi undertow before she refocuses on Onn, Kylah is unable to focus her senses well enough to determine who might most likely be in need of attention. She does not sense any immediate danger, however.

    Rawlings says, "Understood, Doctor." Neither of you see anyone close by, however. Dr. Mäkeläinen unfolds the three tightly-folded pages. They are cheap and thin, and appear, in the bright winter sun, to be entirely blank, front and back.

    In a few moments, Onn, Graham and Kylah are face to face near the entryway to the bar. One of the big Tellarite guards seems to notice the phaser-1 in Kylah's hand. He frowns but says nothing.

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    Nia stares at Booker as if she's seeing a ghost. But she's the ghost in this scenario. The Walking Not-Quite-Dead. She blinks a few times, feeling grit in her eyes as if tears, those incredibly rare tears, might actually fall as they did last night.

    "Book," she says, her voice soft. Maybe too soft for the environment. Her hand lifts and reaches tenderly, disbelievingly, towards his cheek, but one instant of a touch is all she allows herself before drawing back. First, her fingers are freezing cold and it can't have been pleasant for him. Second, she's just noticed Kylah beside him and this abruptly reminds Nia that she's Booker's commanding officer.

    But she's still weak and she does lean on his arm to maintain balance among the crowd jostling around them, just long enough to steady herself. What does she need to ask? She blinks again, feeling numb and stupid, before she remembers and blurts, "A ship. What's the status? Did you find one?" After a hesitation, she adds with a desperate edge, "Did you get us transport out of here?"

    Though she refuses to put voice to the most pertinent question, Nia's intense eyes betray her trust and confidence in Booker Graham as they search his gaze and ask what is unspoken: You'll save me... won't you?
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 06 Jun 2023 at 05:46 PM.

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    Wonderful, thinks Dr. Mäkeläinen. He was not expecting the man to have been carrying letters patent in his pocket, but was hoping for at least a name or two. Still holding the thin sheets [he is still wearing winter gloves, right? ] he subjects them to a close-range intense scan from his medical tricorder, just in case there are any traces of ink or other residue, and also to try to identify the composition of the pages themselves.

    After he is finished scanning and saving the results, he folds the pages back the way he found them. "Thanks," he says to Rawlings. "I think that is all we are going to get out of these papers outside a lab. Let's go back and finish with the body, see if we can confirm the cause of death. Then I'll buy you a drink."
    Last edited by stolz; 06 Jun 2023 at 04:36 PM.

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    'Nia..."

    Graham's tone - like hers - is hardly "crisp Starfleet professional."

    He forces himself to hold her eyes, wanting to turn away because of his answer.


    He can't help but grunt, then exhale a breath. "Negative so far. Two strikes."

    He scowls then adds "Terran sports metaphor...but, in the game...you get three."

    So we - she - has got one more chance.

    "Hey..." he addresses the Tellarite bouncers. "You see everyone who comes in here, and I'd bet you overhear a lot too. We're looking for someone with a ship for hire. Any pointers? 50 monits in it."

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    Noticing the bouncer's grim eye at her phaser, Kylah lowers it slightly, though she mostly tries to barricade her mind from the powerful, painful emotions blasting at her from the two nearby colleagues--her colleagues, that is; the man and woman are still clearly more than that to one another, even if not romantically involved. Kylah nearly turns her head to look away, given the unspoken intimate bond they share. But something keeps her riveted.

    Lt. Onn's face briefly slackens with evident despair when Lt. Graham gives her the unwelcome news, but her calm mask returns. It is not as successful as usual. While the Security Officer speaks to the bouncer, Kylah makes an attempt to engage Lt. Onn. "It is very good to see you looking so well, ma'am." When the older woman's eyebrow raises, Kylah hurries on. "I mean, comparatively, after last night. How are you feeling? The doctor told us there is a new medication that is helping you?"

    The Lieutenant does not immediately answer, and Kylah touches her hand, much as she did Lt. Graham's. The chill shocks her, and at once she cringes inwardly. "Oh, you are freezing--I cannot think why I did not give you gloves along with the coat! Here," she blurts, pulling the mittens from her pocket and shaking her head in consternation. "These will help a little. I am so sorry."

    She tries to listen to both the C.O. and the answer to Lt. Graham's question.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen's tricorder scan shows that the paper is impregnated with some kind of unidentified dried organic substance.

    Rawlings grunts, nods and leads the way back down the street to the front door of the Black Sun.

    One of the Tellarite bouncers thinks for a moment and says to Graham, "Here? Maybe you'll want to talk to Mendu. She might be able to help you. Give me the monits, and I'll take you to her table."

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    Before they go in, Dr. Mäkeläinen makes a final attempt to identify what the human died of, and whether any of the organic substance is on his clothes or body. He is at the limit of what is plausibly in the scope of an emergency medical examination, but he hangs on to the rest of the evidence (the strange communicator and the blank pages) for now.
    Last edited by stolz; 09 Jun 2023 at 01:14 AM.

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    It's hard to keep from crumpling when Booker shares the news. Nia's not ten seconds from going comatose, but her hope and strength are fragile, and it won't take much more disappointment to break them. But after a few seconds she gathers her composure, or tries to. Book's doing his best. His intense regret and obvious concern make her heart turn over.

    Now Kylah's making small talk, which she ignores at first. Suddenly the girl's yanking some fuzzy things out of her pocket and, practically grabbing Nia's hands, stuffs first her left, then the right (which was holding her medication case, but Nia managed to put it down in time), into a rather large but blissfully warm pair of fur-lined mittens. Nia stares down at Kylah, feeling strangely like a little child being dressed by a fussy parent, and simultaneously like a mother whose daughter's trying to playact that scenario.

    A moment in time, months ago, pushes itself to her consciousness: another time she, Booker and Kylah were together in a desperate attempt to fix a bad situation. When the Elasian girl had a panic attack during a self-defense lesson. Back then it was Book and Nia who were the ones trying to help, and Kylah in distress. Nia remembers with a stab of longing how comfortable and content she felt with Booker, partnering that way. Parenting that way.

    And she'd thought something similar might actually happen with them in the future. Pathetic.

    "Thanks," she says hoarsely, curling her mittened hands together. The ensign seems pleased by the gratitude, and Nia feels a flash of guilt over the resentment she's felt towards her. It's not Kylah's fault she was foisted onto the Tesla by higher-ups, instead of another engineer who might've made up for Nia's incompetence in... doing whatever it is she did--or failed to do--that utterly fucked up the prized shuttle.

    Looking at the bouncer, who's answering Booker now, she continues somewhat distractedly. "Um, yeah, they created this temporary substitute at the hospital." Wary of exacerbating her dizziness, she slowly bends to pick up the case and frowns at it. "I... actually don't know the name. Stupid of me. The thing's a miracle. Temporary, but a miracle," she adds with more confidence than she's feeling.

    "How I am is, I'm better. Vertical is better than horizontal. Sometimes." Realizing the joke isn't quite Kylah's style, she hurries on. "And you have no reason to apologize. The coat's fantastic and the mittens... I really appreciate them. Um, not sure what the heck this... skin-tight green thing is you got me. Clingy enough to see my scales--"

    Nia belatedly notices that Kylah's wearing a very similar outfit, in black, and only slightly thicker material. "Guess it's basically an overstretched version of what you've got on. I forgot your different, uh, culture." She ends with a smile, though, before whipping her head back to Booker and the bouncer.

    "Thanks," she blurts to the latter, not knowing exactly what he said but having gleaned it's something positive. Shuddering, she pulls her coat more tightly around her. The club's much warmer but nothing seems to get to the rock-hard cold that's running through her very marrow. Nia waits for the men to lead the way.
    Last edited by SidonianGal; 09 Jun 2023 at 09:00 PM.

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    Gratified that Lt. Onn found her clothing useful, Kylah pays attention to the other woman's emotions, which seem to be vacillating a great deal. Normally she would not be quite so intrusive, but the truth is, focusing on one person's mind makes it easier to turn the crowded roomful of chaotic feelings into emotional white noise.

    She looks down at her outfit just as Lt. Onn comments wryly on it. To her a bodysuit like this is, well, covering her whole body. It is quite modest. But, as Lt. Onn says,they are from different cultures. And it is true, in retrospect, that Kylah was not able to find a similar ski insulating suit in anything other than her own size. Which would of course be far too small.

    After the Lieutenant thanks the bouncer, Kylah does also. Then she scowls and glances up worriedly at the older woman. Why is she here alone? What has happened to the doctor and Mr. Rawlings? Oh, I knew we should not split up, she frets, still aware that she has no idea where Velir is, either.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen's tricorder scan reveals that the corpse is that of a Human male, about 40, who seems to have frozen to death at least six or seven hours ago. There are very faint trace readings of the organic substance on his fingertips.

    "So?" the bouncer says. "Do you want to meet Mendu, or not?"

  42. #1292
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    Graham nods to the bouncer. "I'd be much obliged," he replies, giving the big Tellarite his promised monits.

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    Kylah does not know who Mendu is--she was not able to divide her attention as hoped--but if Lt. Graham is willing, she of course assumes this is the correct path to get them started back to the Yorktown.

    She offers an encouraging nod to Lt. Onn, but hesitates. "The others, ma'am?" she adds, trying to remind her senior officers that half the party is absent. "Do you wish me to wait for them? Are they near?"

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    Nia's requires a longer reaction time than usual, but when Kylah's question reaches her, she looks carefully (to avoid vertigo) over her shoulder. "The others... they're right outside. Dealing with--oh shit, I forgot to ask--dealing with a couple of corpses out front. The Doc was gonna look at their ID, see what the cause of death was, that sorta thing. Gotta say I found it kinda shocking to see what the club tosses out with the trash," she adds dryly. "But now that I'm inside... not so surprised now. It looks like that sort of place."

    She takes a step to follow Booker, then pauses. "If you can stay in one place and not budge from near here, yes. Tell Dr. M. and Rawlings to--hold on, just a second." Nia suddenly casts a quick gaze over the crowd. "Where's Rangin got to?"

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen finishes up and indicates to Ens. Rawlings that he is ready to go inside. He keeps the dead man's effects with him, out of sight.

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    The Tellarite bouncer accepts his payment and begins to lead Lt. JG Booker Graham farther back into the cavernous bar, heading more or less to the left.

    Ens. Rawlings nods and goes back into the Black Sun with Dr. Mäkeläinen. Not far from the Tellarite bouncer just inside, you can see Lt. Onn and Ens. Kylah talking earnestly, and beyond them, Graham and another large Tellarite walking away from you.

    There is no sign of Lt. JG Rangin.
    Last edited by Elendil's Heir; 14 Jun 2023 at 11:16 PM.

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    "I do not know where he is, exactly," Kylah responds to Lt. Onn. "But he was looking for a prospective ship for us, just as we are. No doubt he is... somewhere in the back." She frowns, disappointed that she still cannot see Velir. She decides it is time to let him know the others have arrived, and pulls out her communicator. "I shall contact him."

    But first she gets a glimpse of the late-arriving pair of crewmates, not surprisingly thanks to the significant height--and breadth--of Ens. Rawlings. The doctor is less obvious, but of course she sees him as well, and raises a hand to catch their attention. "Mr. Rawlings could toss the bouncer around," she comments lightly to Lt. Onn. "I wonder how they would deal with him if he tried to make trouble. Not that he would."

    Even as she speaks, she rapidly taps out a note:
    VELIR - The others have shown up, with Lt. Onn too. Have you found any prospects? We have had poor luck--there are very bad feelings about Starfleet so please be careful. I am sending a text rather than audio to be circumspect. Can you meet us? I do not believe it is safe to be separated for long. -- KYLAH
    After sending the text, she keeps the device in her hand but ignores it, turning to see how Lt. Onn is doing. "The note has been sent. To L--Mr. Rangin," she says quietly, not wishing to announce any ranks that might identify them as Starfleet.

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    Nia flashes a grateful look at both of her arriving companions, if only because it means she doesn't have to worry about leaving Kylah to fend for herself, which... hasn't always worked out so well.

    "Thanks," she says to the younger woman. "For contacting Rangin. And let me know if you hear anything. I'm gonna follow Booker. You guys come with us, but hang back just in case it's not a good idea to overwhelm this... mystery person. Whoever they are."

    Nia navigates her way to follow Booker, glad for the warmth of the club and its crowd, but also feeling a little stifled too. She takes deep breaths, though it's more habitual, instinctive, than all that helpful. How often can I take this med? she wonders, trying to recall if Dr. M. gave her the timing of doses. Then she banishes all thought of time, because it's an enemy right now and no shields or phasers can defend against it.

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    Dr. Mäkeläinen approaches the two women. "Good to see all of you in one piece," he says to Kylah. "Any luck?" he asks quietly, indicating Lt. Graham, who appears to be heading off to conduct some business. He hangs back with the rest as Lt. Onn moves to follow him.

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    Kylah soon gets a text response: Yes, thanks, obvious Starfleet unpopular here. Three ships obviously unsuitable for us, I've learned. Checking on one or two others now. Stand by, please. RANGIN.

    Graham is led by the bouncer, with Onn not far behind, to the left rear of the bar. Onn is struck by the noise, smells and crowdedness of the bar as she goes. Sitting in a corner booth, with a large Human bodyguard standing nearby, is the smallest, oldest Kressari female either of the Starfleet officers has ever seen. The wizened alien is wearing too much makeup, and is in an incongruous yellow dress with a very large, swooping collar. She gestures at two seats to her left. The Tellarite bouncer leaves you to it.

    https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Kressari

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