This portion of the story includes the following NPC's:


Engineers Delano Mills and Kal-El Kowalski
Security Officer Kyle Ellison

:: Girijan ::
:: Eastern Cliffs ::

There was no beach to speak of. The course dark sand stretched for no more than three meters before descending into the foamy, rising surf. Down in the open chasm the whine of phasers and the flash of a fire fight lit the darkness.

Before Nils could issue an order, Javier was moving with phaser rifle raised with great speed and purpose. Without much time for thought, he deferred to the ‘haphazard one’s’ marine experience and followed him in. He momentarily fumbled with his rifle as he surged forward. But the moment gave him clarity and soon he was matching Javi stride for stride.

Once the cavern swallowed them whole, the sea juices began digesting them. The floor got wetter and wetter as they descended. By the time they rounded a bend to witness the full assault of a Beradi unit’s incursion, their feet were covered with water.

“Down,” called Costala, as he deftly ducked behind an outcropping and punched out a few bursts of phased energy. Nils obliged, but maneuvered himself into a position that gave him an optimal view. Observation was his strength. So he observed…

Counselor T’Shaini and Delano Mills crouched behind a boulder, relatively small considering it served as their chief means of cover. Five Beradi moved forward toward their position. And one…Bajoran stood behind them. If his read on her body language were remotely accurate, she was not comfortable with the situation at all.

Bolts of plasma ripped through the cavern wall over his head and showered a rain of dust and rock. Javier immediately returned fire and covered the CO. Nils echoed the engineer’s move and fired a few more bolts into the fray. A crackling shell of yellow energy glowed and sputtered around one of the Beradi mercenaries as the combined firepower of Nils and Javi rained down on it. The alien fell to the last bolt.

“One down,” Nils heard Costala mutter.

A deep rumble aroused a sudden concern from the Bajoran Captain. Initially he thought the thunder outside the cave had grown to deafening proportions… Until he realized that the sound was emanating from the very stones under their feet. From deep in the caves the trembling radiated up into the two men’s feet.

“Rockslide,” Nils said in warning. The others seemed to notice as well. The Beradi fire slowed and the Bajoran woman Nils had spied earlier began backing deeper into the cave. Putting the pieces together the CO realized that there was a good chance she may be breaking for the Orb. And he couldn’t let that happen.

Taking full advantage of the cave’s sudden and deep protestations to so much energetic disturbance, he rose and sprinted through the narrow cavern. With his eyes fully on the prize ahead he followed after Kamaal, as did one other Beradi alien. Errant beams of energy streaked past him, both from ahead and behind. But Javier proved invaluable and dropped one more mercenary.

“Two down,” Nils whispered to himself as he closed the gap between he and his quarry.

Then the whole world turned upside down. Rocks fell from above as the floor gave way beneath. A crack opened up beneath Kamaal and her lackey and swallowed them. In its immense hunger however it did not stop there. Before he could stop himself, Hawking’s new Captain fell headlong into a deep pit. Everything vanished in an instant. The only thing left was inky black darkness.

Channeling the spirit of Javi!
Originally Posted 8/28/08 by Torrik Nil

De'kesh on the Azuchi/Kitiran Mid-plain

=/\= It is our intention to follow this Hentari to the source of the disturbances… whatever affected he and Dr. Schaeffer could well be the result of some advanced technology brought to bear by the mercenaries…=/\=

=/\=Or,=/\= Kyle Ellison interrupted Fehr’s report, =/\=It could be a side effect of whatever hallucinogen they ingested for their ‘trip’.=/\=

=/\=I do not discount the possibility=/\= was the lieutenant’s cool response, =/\=But if we take into account the mad weather patterns and the similarly directed ‘trip’ of Commander T’Shaini, which Finn not only reported but has acted upon… worst case, we join the other team and increase our strength on the ground. Better, we discover and put a stop to the Beradi interference with this planet. Best, we find the artifact Kamaal is seeking.=/\=

Ellison shrugged against the whipping air currents, wondering how long his claim to be answering nature’s call could reasonably last in this weather. He’d felt the telltale buzzing of the com as Frey had been laying out bedrolls and made the most obvious excuse to go out and take the com. =/\=Due respect, I thought the scavenger hunt aspect wasn’t a priority. And now,=/\= he sighed before continuing, =/\= we’ve sort of become committed to escorting this girl, Frey, to the Kitiran’s territory.=/\=

There was a slight pause, =/\=I am afraid you will have to uncommit. We are going to investigate these cliffs come morning. I understand you cannot make it this far south in so short a time but similarly, you cannot be heading in the opposite direction. I need you and if we do find the Beradi, no doubt Dr. Munro will be needed, as well. How far have you traveled from the landslide?=/\=

=/\=We’ve managed maybe twelve klicks, north, north east… no… make it ten. This weather’s as bitchy as Gran on a diet=/\=

=/\=Understood=/\= the Elasian’s smile translated across the kilometers as he worked out their relative coordinates in his head =/\=You will need to make your way south, south east… best speed… approximately thirteen kilometers. I know… on foot, in this weather… but we must follow our orders and they do not include escorting young ladies across yassryn lines. And… I know you cannot tell her this but there have been some changes. Frey’s presence will be most welcome at her home.=/\=

=/\=Yes, sir.=/\= Crap! If there were anything worse than being stuck helping a teenager run away, it had to be wrangling that same teenager back to a place she didn’t want to be. =/\=We’ll proceed as soon as there’s enough light to see the d’rag before they jump us.=/\=

=/\=Copy that… continue to maintain com silence. With luck, you will arrive to find us enjoying a quiet zaar roast by the ocean.=/\= there was another short space in which each man considered the unlikelihood of such a scenario. It was far more possible that Ellison and Munro would show up just in time to mop up the blood…

=/\=Looking forward to it,=/\= Kyle responded, playing the game because, what else could you do? =/\=Ellison out=/\=

Turning to go back to the de’kesh (and the fire… he couldn’t feel his toes anymore) Kyle realized that there were some darker shapes coming out of the darkness.

“I see you’ve made yourself at home in our de’kesh.”

“Only at great need,” he replied, squinting into the rain as a tall, lean female slid down from the first juvaal Ellison had seen up close and personal, motioning to those behind her to remain mounted.

Dark eyes considered the strange warrior (more strangers in our lands). “Perhaps you would be as willing to share your name as our supplies?”

“El’san of the Ekkuran… I am a shadow-walker to our en-Hentari, somewhat lost. Myself and two others became separated in the storm but our serronayni was bound for the Azuchi keshii…”

“Well, El’san of the Ekkuran… I am Laerta, hunt master of the Kitiran and interestingly, also bound for the Azuchi keshii.” She glanced back at her juvayni and noted the lack of any such mounts for El’san and his party.

“They may join our juvayni,” another voice, also female, spoke from on high. Kyle looked up to see an older woman astride one of the lumpy beasts, “It is in my heart that you need to be there… perhaps more than we. I am Amma,” she added, clicking at the juvaal and sliding gracefully down once it had folded itself to the wet ground. “For now, let us all go inside and come to know one another.”

Featuring NPC’s Kyle Ellison and Ferh, as well as Laerta and Amma of the Kitiran
Originally Posted 8/29/08 by Harry Finn


The shifting earth threw off his aim as the engineer switched targets, moving from the Beradi he had downed to the next mercenary to fill his sights. Javier had aimed for the Beradi's chest but the misguided phaser pulses hit the mercenary in the face. Even though the phaser was set on high stun, the focused energy struck the softer part of the mercenary's body with deadly effect. A purple mist wreathed the merc's skull and his lifeless body fell to the floor of the cave. Headshot. I didn't mean for it to be though. Javier thought as a fleeting sense of regret washed over him. The remaining Beradi let out a chilling war cry, discarded his disruptor in favor of a blade and began to move rapidly toward Javier's position, ignoring the phaser fire as he was dedicated to utterly destroying the enemy that had killed his comrade in such a ruthless manner. If you want it that way, Javier surmised as he aimed toward the merc, prepared to put the Beradi down hard for his error in judgment. The mercenary was between himself and T'Shaini's position and Javier had no qualms about bringing a gun to a knife fight in this particular case.

Loosened by the shifting foundations, a rock dislodged from the ceiling and struck his arm causing Javier to drop the rifle as his left arm went numb with pain. He let out a yell of pain as the blow drove him to his knees, but Javier still grabbed for his hand phaser. The movement was smooth and effortless. He had practiced it over a thousand times while in the marines but the Beradi was fast and bent upon the engineer's destruction. Javier realized he wasn't going to get the weapon up in time and the Beradi was wielding a very nasty looking blade.

Like the cavalry of the old vids… T'Shaini felt a surge of relief at the sudden appearance of Javier and Nils, taking aim at the roof of the cavern once again, she selected a formation hoping it would drop down on the Beradi. Then almost knocked from her feet by the shifting of rock, the Vulcan watched in horror as a hole opened across the way and she saw one of the Beradi, Bedie and then Nils disappear in a shower of debris.

Hearing Del's gasp behind her, T'Shaini looked down to see the flash of a blade descending toward Javier. Stepping in, she leveled a kick, knocking the blade from it's hand while turning to drive the arrow she still had clutched in her left hand into the shoulder joint…it worked before, why not try it again. A shout from behind left the arrow stuck in the Beradi while she turned to see her original attacker, knife drawn, bearing down on Delano, who either thinking quickly or with incredible instincts, rolled backwards out of the way of the blade pulling himself and the Beradi to the edge of the cliff entrance. The weight of the armor propelling them over the edge, T'Shaini leaped forward to grab onto the young engineer's arm and with all her strength, yanked him backwards as the Beradi fell from view.

Momentarily distracted by the arrow in his shoulder joint, the Beradi cried out in pain as he turned to deal with the interloper who had come between he and his prey. It gave Javier the seconds he needed to level the hand phaser and give the mercenary a full burst in the torso, overloading its armor and hammering the Beradi to the floor of the cavern. He turned towards the others in time to see another Beradi disappear from view and T'Shaini pull Crewman Mills away from certain death. The engineer's first thought was to run over and embrace them both but he realized that there still might be more Beradi in the vicinity. He studied the cave and the chasm in the middle of the floor, while nudging the unconscious Beradi with his boot just to be sure the merc was fully incapacitated.

"Costala to Captain Torrik," Javier said after tapping his commbadge. There was no reply and he couldn't see the bottom of the chasm. Did he survive the fall? He turned to T'Shaini as she approached him. "I don't you think he survived?" Javier asked as he handed his phaser to Mills then embraced T'Shaini with his good arm.

She hugged him tightly for a moment, not wanting to entertain the possibility of Nils loss. Pulling back, T'Shaini looked over his shoulder into the maw that he had fallen and frowned to herself. "We will not know for certain until we have searched…and for Harry as well."

"Where is he?" Javier asked. And where was the archaeologist guy? "I think you'd better tell me what's been going on down here," Javier said as he walked back to retrieve his phaser rifle. He patted Del on the shoulder as he passed, as if to say: 'Good work engineer'. Picking up the rifle he brought it back and switched weapons with Del, giving the younger man the rifle. He had lost all feeling in his left arm and the engineer doubted he would be able to use the weapon.

"Excuse m-m-me Ch-ch-chief," Del said as he reached over and took the tricorder from where it was clipped to the engineer's belt. Mills flipped open the device and began to scan the chasm and the makeshift rock wall he had created.

T'Shaini recounted the events of the last few hours as quickly as she could. "And then Delano sealed the passage way that led back to the orb by using his tricorder as an explosive, at which point we we encountered by Kamaal Bedie and the Beradi. Luckily for us you arrived soon after."

"Lucky for me you were here," Javier intoned, unable to stop himself from pulling T'Shaini close to him once more. He noticed Mills was busy with his scans and took the moment to place a quick kiss on T'Shaini's lips. "I was worried for you." The engineer's thoughts returned to the situation at hand, "First we'll need to clean this place up and remove any evidence that compromises the Prime Directive. The Beradi can be taken into custody on the Hawking. The Aerowing is nearby and Scott can fly the mercs back to the ship, then return with the supplies we need to start searching for our missing Command Team."

"You are correct. How do you propose we return to the surface? And did Jason tell you where we were?" T'Shaini hoped the archaeologist was safe.

"No, we didn't see him." That explains where he is or why he isn't here now. "Nils and I used ropes to climb down here," Javier said, "we can use them to climb out and hoist these guys," he gave the stunned Beradi a tap with the toe of his boot, "up to the top. Or if the storm clears, perhaps even transport them out." He reached down with his right hand and began to tug at the mercenary, trying to pull the Beradi up the tunnel. The creature was damn heavy. "Or we could just tie them up down here."

"Yes, secure them here…we can transport them out later. It is unlikely any of the Devanagari will be anywhere near here during this weather."

"I like how you think..among other things," Javier said with a sly grin. He was glad to be with T'Shaini, and once they had the Beradi secured, they could begin searching for their other missing friends.

JP by the dynamic duo, Tee and Javi, with help from their sidekick, Del.
Originally Posted 8/29/08 by Harry Finn


After the pain of the bloodletting had come the light and that light had made the twin slices across his right palm and left shoulder feel like a tickle because it wasn’t just light… it was light and… and words which he could only just identify as such but not understand and that was a little too close to madness and then beyond the pain and the light and the mutterings there was a kind of low-level vibration which in time grew so intense that he thought it might well be shredding him on a cellular level and then it just… stopped and left him alone.

Unfortunately, coming out of that madness, it took a few very important seconds to realize it had left him alone under at least ten meters of water.

USS Hawking

Tenanji had finally bowed to the reality of a long, silent standoff with the Beradi vessel and taken the command seat. A theoretical shift change had come and gone since the captain’s departure and the raising of the Hawking’s status to red alert. Theoretical in that, while helm, ops, tactical and engineering stations had followed procedure, Usher had no intention of leaving the bridge at a heightened alert and O’Keefe had been blatantly ignoring Ensign Rotaran’s presence for the past half hour. Vail apparently had nowhere better to be because the Intelligence officer had also remained on the bridge. In fact he’d recently replicated some coffee and was now sitting and observing everything and everyone with placid interest.

“There hasn’t been a blip in hours,” Rotaran was saying to his section chief, “there’s probably not going to…”

“I have a blip,” O’Keefe’s deadpan interruption pulled the attention of everyone on the bridge. “Bringing the sensors to bear… 38.22 kilometers due east of the storm's epicenter." Which would put the signal in the middle of the ocean. She looked towards Quincy, on tactical, “Are you getting this?”

“It’s an automated distress signal,” Quincy confirmed the contact, “from Lt. Finn’s badge. Transferring data to Transporter One.”

=/\=Tenanji to Transporter One…=/\=

=/\=Lottz here, receiving coordinates… I have a lock, once the shields are dropped…=/\=

=/\=Stand ready=/\= Usher ordered before looking back at Quincy, “What’s the status of the Beradi vessel?”

“Shields raised, weapons charged but no change in orbit, no targeting.”

Tenanji nodded, =/\=Chief Lottz, on my mark,=/\= then he gave Quincy the signal to drop the Hawking’s shields. Once Quincy confirmed their lowered status, =/\=Energize=/\=

There was a tense passage of time, only seconds but it felt much longer, while the bridge crew held their collective breaths… except for Lt. Commander Vail who looked as if he were taking tea on Risa… then…

=/\=We have him aboard=/\=

“Shields raised… the Beradi vessel shows no change,” Quincy reported before he could be asked.

=/\=Lottz to bridge, I’m sure this comes as no surprise, but the lieutenant required some medical attention. I’ve taken the liberty of beaming him to sickbay.=/\=

Usher’s cheek twitched ever so slightly, though he was aware of Vail’s sudden alertness, =/\=Thank you, Chief=/\=

“I wonder what could have brought Lt. Finn so far from the continent?” Callan asked of no one in particular.

“Once he’s been cleared by medical, I’m sure we’ll find out,” Tenanji replied calmly, returning to the command chair, though he found it hard to settle. What had brought Finn so far from the continent? And what was happening with the rest of the crew?

Fifteen minutes later

“Sir, Lt. Finn… sir!” Dr. Lewis, who’d had the bad luck to be on deck when the XO had beamed in, tried to hold him back but Finn was on the move. “Sir, we’ve only just repaired the lacerations, I need to do a full scan…”

“Nothing but a little headache,” he said, dripping towards the door. He’d been divested of the sodden coat and hood and was now left in the hide leggings and thin-woven shirt of the plains people. But I’ve got my own face, back, at least. “Now that the implants are off, I bet that’ll be gone in a few minutes…” the room spun unfortunately but the wet and shivering man ignored the sensation. After that thing with the lights and the Orb and holding his breath for so long in the icy seas, then a double transport, hells, who wouldn’t be a little dizzy?

“We don’t know that unless we do a full scan,” Brandi was forced to trail after Finn like a yapping terrier. “Let me just…” she raised her medical tricorder.

“If you keep waving that thing in my face I’ll take it away and step on it,” Harry told her as he pressed the call pad on the turbolift.

“Lt. Finn, I realize you must be concerned about the ship and… things… but, but, you’re certainly hypothermic and you might be concussed…”

“I’m sorry but, have you met me?”

“No, as a matter of fact…” Brandi hid the tricorder and its abridged revelations behind her back before he could make good on his threat of destruction of Starfleet property.

Finn looked momentarily confused, “Ah, well, there you go. Just… ask around… this kind of thing happens to me all the time. I promise, I’ll come down for a full check-up once I get the sit rep.” The doors opened and the wet-hide-clothed, executive officer jumped in before the doctor could even think of stopping him. “Bridge,” he ordered as the door closed on her shocked expression then, smelling himself or, more appropriately, the wet clothing all over himself, added, “Computer, contact the XO’s yeoman and have a uniform brought to the bridge… and… some towels might be good, too.”

=/\=Complying=/\= the calm voice responded and Harry settled in for the ride, wondering just what was happening down on the planet and how exciting things were likely to become in the near future.

Featuring the NPC's of the Hawking
Originally Posted 8/30/08 by Harry Finn

:: Girijan ::
:: In the chasm of the cavern ::

Realizing that in fact, the nothing was darkness became a comfort. In realizing, Nils knew that he dwelled in consciousness. But it was so dark. And something didn’t feel right. A deep baritone voice spoke off in the distance, echoing off hard, stone walls. And though he could not make out the words, he thought he recognized the speaker. The hearty, rich tones blended together in a muffled but comforting melody. The drone formed a pattern and it became clear that a single phrase repeated over and over.

Suddenly it felt as if someone stood right over his shoulder and the voice was clear. And unmistakably that of the Emissary.

“…we are not alone in our loneliness…”

Nils reached out toward the voice, but embraced only empty space. The darkness was so complete that he wasn’t even sure if his eyes were open, so he strained to pull his lids up, stretching his eyes and his capacity to see. This action accomplished nothing.

“…we are not alone in our loneliness…”

Again the voice, so near, yet also without form. Pagh’tem’far? The Bajoran shook it off. More likely he’d hit his head… Yes, he’d fallen. Memory flooded back and the urgency of the moment stirred him. Kamaal had to be stopped. But one more time, the voice lulled him with the phrase…

“…we are not alone in our loneliness…”

This time however the resonating voice continued.

“Others have been here and known
grieves we thought our special own.
Problems that we could not solve,
lovers that we could not have,
pleasures that we missed by inches…
I thank you and I say how proud
that I have been by fate allowed
to stand here having the joyful chance
to claim my inheritance.
For most have died in the day before
the opening of that holy door.”

A blinding flash caused Nils to bring his hands over his eyes. Then he felt the butt of a gun at his neck. Slowly his eyes peeled back to reveal a new darkness. This one was less oppressive and complete as the one he’d just left. Forms and shadows danced in this darkness. The sound of some type of scanning device tinkled about as well.

“Kill him?” This voice was alien and not at all akin to the last he’d heard.

“No,” cried an emphatic female. Kamaal? “He is Bajoran…” Relief and hope mingled in her tone. “He is Bajoran…”

Featuring the poem "Thank you, Thank you" by Patrick Kavanaugh
Originally Posted 8/30/08 by Torrik Nils

:: Girijan ::
:: Chasm of the Cavern ::

Even though pain shot through portions of his body, especially his legs, Nils did not think he’d been significantly injured in the fall. Everything seemed to be mobile and connected, so he shrugged off the discomfort and tried to stand.

“Stay,” growled the mercenary who’d never removed his weapon from Nils’ throat.

“Let him up Kona,” Kamaal urged. “He is here to help. The Prophets have granted…”

“I tire of your Prophets. They are too weak. I think they would not fare well in a battle with my Warrior,” said the irritated Beradi. “And although the contract protects your life, Kamaal, blood must be spilt. And it does not cover this one.”

The Captain of the Hawking, propped up on his elbows and watched the exchange back and forth as his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness. As with the proverbial onion, it seemed that this arrangement between the Circle and the Beradi had layers. And it might end up with someone in tears…

“I… think we’re here after the same thing,” Nils said seriously. He had no diplomatic skill, but he could be shrewd if he had to. “My name is Torrik Nils and I’ve come a long way searching for…”

“Torrik!” Nils could see her eyes light up despite the lack of illumination. “From Lonar Province?”

“Yes,” nodded Nils. Though he hadn’t been to Bajor in a number of years, he was in fact from Lonar.

Kamaal shoved the alien rifle away and reached down to help him up. “He’s been sent to aid us, Kona. His father sent him to make sure I get back with the Orb…”

The shock that played across Nils’ face was only partially hidden in the dark. He wasn’t sure what in the hell the Bajoran woman was talking about, but if she knew his father… Then again perhaps it was just a coincidence. Choosing not to chase that answer, Nils continued on another tack.

“The Orb seems to be blocking our scans,” he said honestly.

“How did you get here,” Kamaal asked, not ready to move on. “Are you using one of Essa’s ships?” A little bitterness accompanied the question.

“No,” answered Nils, again trying to be honest. He’d never been a very good liar. “I have my own ship.” It was true…from a certain point of view.

“Good,” Kamaal practically sang. “Good. Yes the Orb is creating quite a disturbance to our scans. It seems this device is working now,” she said holding up the scanner she’d identified Nils’ heritage with. “But I don’t know why.”

Nils held out his hand for the device, offering to help. “I studied at the Bajoran Institute of Science.” Kamaal’s reaction told him he’d said the wrong thing. The more fundamental lot felt that science diminished the faith. His father certainly felt that way…

Reluctantly, the Bajoran woman handed over the tech and nodded. Her expression, however, bore the first signs of doubt.

Ignoring her possible suspicions, Nils activated the device. It operated on the same general principle as a tricorder, but was not nearly as sensitive. It did give them pretty active telemetry in the present location and in every other direction but one. “I think the Orb is that way,” Nils offered pointing off into one of the splitting crevices. “The readings become more muddled towards those caverns… So it’s probably safe to assume it’s the Orb that’s muddling them.” Simple solutions.

“Then let’s go,” Kona interjected with some irritation. “These walls could shift again at any time, and I already feel like we’re in a maze at the bottom of a pit.”

Kamaal turned back to Nils. “Lead on Mister Torrik,” she said kindly. Too kindly, this time. Whatever doubt he’d given her seemed to be taking root. He wasn’t sure if she wanted him to lead because she thought he knew the way, or because it would be easier to shoot him if he misbehaved.

They stepped out into the darkness together with Nils feeling none too easy. For a scientist, adventuring into the unknown without a procedure to follow was like jumping from a low orbital shuttle without antigrav boots or a drop chute. Nils only hoped he wouldn’t burn up upon re-entry.

Featuring the villainous Kamaal Bedie and Kona
Originally Posted 9/1/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

“No, I don’t know how I ended up in the drink,” the damp Finn announced as he stepped onto the bridge. “There was this Orb and then some bleeding and then there was a light show and then, best guess, I got the boot.” He paused, took in the stares of the various and sundry crew then sought out those who’d been in charge. “Your turn,” he told Tenanji and Vail, “what’s our status? I mean, besides being at red alert,” he waved generally at the lighting.

Tenanji, rising, took in the unlikely vision of his XO, “We are as yet holding position behind the moon, though we know the Beradi vessel knows we’re here. Captain Torrik and Chief Costala have taken the aerowing planetside to aid the rest of your team and investigate the… presumed… Orb…” by the time he’d brought Finn up to date, the XO had managed to wring what excess water he could onto the upper tier carpeting. “We did, prior to the Captain’s descent to Girijan, offer up some false communications to indicate our presence was incidental, only a matter of testing some new shield technology,” he finished, his tone even but his disapproval clear.

“Interesting,” Finn strode towards the weapons console, nodding to T’thianco, who’d taken over the station. “Time to come out of hiding,” he declared, placing a careful hand on the edge of the console. The headache hadn’t faded but it’d have to take a number.

“Sir?” The Security Chief felt a shifting at his side. Vail hadn’t risen but it was clear he was watching the XO carefully.

Harry looked at Tenanji, “It’s time to stop playing footsie with the Beradi. Everyone knows everyone’s here… let’s take advantage of it and flex a little muscle. If nothing else, we’ll find out how committed they are to their… search and ideally,” he almost smiled, “we’ll deprive Bedie of her Beradi backup.” His attention shifted, “Helm bring us out of the shadows and into a matching orbit with the mercenaries but let’s keep it non-threatening for now: use a conic intersection path and hold at 150 kilometers.”

“Aye, coming around,” Warof replied, “new bearing from planetary mark 121.6,” he added, “and holding.” And beneath the Klingon’s deft guidance, Hawking had gently curved round the moon and into her own synchronous orbit, falling into place 150 kilometers to port of the Beradi ship. The viewscreen’s image zoomed to include both the mercenary vessel, a thing of abrupt angles and protruding spines, and Girijan itself, which was currently marred by the unnatural storm.

“We’re being hailed,” Quincy called from Tactical.


A face, as angular as the ship which bore it, appeared on the massive screen.

“I am Sub-cotor Goryss of the Atar’a’kor. Why does the Federation spy on us?”

“Spy? There’s no spying, here,” Harry said calmly, “we were just running some tests and taking a few scans of the Omeron system,” he leaned forward, “when we noticed some very unusual activity down below. So let me ask you, Sub-cotor Goryss, why are the Beradi massacring the indigenous peoples of a protected planet?”

“That accusation is untrue and unprovoked,” Goryss replied, mandibles almost fluttering with agitation, “as unprovoked as the assault made on the scout vessel…”

“Oh, you mean the scout vessel that tried to shoot down our transport?” Finn’s voice went very hard as he made use of Tenanji’s report. “The transport which was sent down to the planet to allow our crew to offer what protection is possible to the eastern tribes and,” he held up a hand, “before you deny anything you should know the bodies have been found. Your team left the evidence lying all over the plateau, guaranteeing that any Beradi our people encounter will be placed under arrest upon their discovery.

“And if your vessel in any way interferes with our attempt to clean up the mess your people have made and, by ‘interferes’ I mean ‘remains in orbit around this protected planet,” Harry continued, using the momentum of his argument to carry him around the weapon’s console and down to the center of the bridge, directly between Tenanji and Vail. “the Atar’a’kor and her crew will also be placed in custody…”

Goryss made a truly unique sound that the UT refused to even deal with. “Who are you to challenge the warriors of Beradis…”

Aware of all the eyes in the room carefully not watching him, Harry held his ground despite the crashing waves which were rampaging inside his skull, “Lt. Finn… of the USS Hawking and this isn’t a challenge, it’s a promise.”

From behind the silvered shape of Goryss, another mercenary leaned close and while the whispered conversation was mostly muted, the words ‘corbomite shielding’ slid through to the bridge. Harry had no idea what that meant but it certainly seemed to have an effect.

“We will… depart from this planet,” the Sub-cotor acquiesced. “But we will remain in the system, that we may accompany Hawking when the time comes to depart. I will not allow any of my crew to be buried by these false accusations.”

Whatever. “As you wish. You’ll be notified immediately upon their arrival on our ship. Hawking out,” Harry turned a brief glance to Tactical and the communication was cut.

“That was easy,” Tenanji commented as, true to Goryss' word, the Atar’a’kor broke from orbit.

“Too easy,” Finn replied. “They won’t stay away but if we’re lucky they’ll stay away long enough.”

Usher’s glance slid back to his XO, “Long enough?”

“To get everyone out of that mess,” Harry nodded towards the viewscreen, which now boasted an unimpeded view of the planet, and the destructive mass of the storm.

“You look a might… winded, if you don’t mind my saying,” a smooth voice filtered past the rushing in Harry’s ears. He looked to the left, where Vail now stood, watching.

Before he could respond, however, the ‘lift doors opened and a determined-looking Dr. Lewis strode out, accompanied by a pile of towels and clothing, from behind which peered…

“Anderson, reporting as ordered,” Jenny announced herself as Dr. Lewis glowered at her escaped patient. Looking down to Harry, Jen stifled a grin… he was still dripping… but he was also quite pale and then, in the act of turning towards them Harry went even more pale and then…

“Sir,” she raced towards the deck where her godfather had dropped to his knees.

“Harry,” Commander Vail was already there and had a good view of the trickle of blood from the right ear. “Does the word ‘moderation’ mean anything?”

“I swear, it’s just a…”

“Hairline fracture over the temporal lobe,” Lewis announced primly as she finally got a complete reading on the officer. “And you’ll be coming back to sickbay this instant… sir.” She was so much more accustomed to dealing with children. “You’ll be lucky if there’s no memory loss…”

“Oh, I can think of a couple things I’d like to forget,” was the muttered response but Brandi wisely let that slide.

“I want to be kept apprised of any changes … any news from the planet… any…” Harry tried to pull away from Vail, there was something else, wasn’t there? he was supposed to do something…

“You will be the first to know,” Tenanji promised.

Harry held his gaze for a moment then gave in as Jenny laid a quiet hand on his free arm.

As Finn, now accepting Commander Vail’s assistance, departed with the doctor and Anderson, T’thianco took a moment to join Quincy at the main Tactical station. “Who put their name in the concussion box?” he asked, under his breath.

“I think it was B’Naath,” he replied. “You?”

“Ribs… we can check with Bramley later, get the full report. Damn, B’Naath.”

Quincy, who’s wife would have his hide if he’d even thought of getting in on this kind of action, snorted. “Don’t worry,” he assured the Andorian, “there’s still time to bet on Costala…”

Featuring Goryss of the Beradi and the Hawking's NPC's
Originally Posted 9/1/08 by Harry Finn


A slight tremor ran through the ground and the cavern floor buckled beneath their feet. Del's eyes bugged and Javier was certain his own mirrored the engineering crewman's as he 'rode' the geological shift. A few more rocks dislodged from the ceiling but they were small and the team managed to avoid being hit by the falling debris. They had just re-entered the cave after helping Scott and Vince load the stunned Beradi and all evidence of the mercenary's existence on the aerowing. Javier had had Thorne shoot him up with a pain killer and the feeling had returned to his injured limb. Not all of it was good feeling but at least he could use the arm. Del and T'Shaini had gathered what supplies they would need to search for Nils and the others while Javier, Vince and Scott had cleaned up the caves. Once the Beradi had been secured in the aerowing, the doctor and the two pilots had left for the ship.

Now armed with hand phasers, emergency rations, medical supplies, rope, palm lights and the knowledge of Del's discovery of another tunnel, the small team made their way back into the Devanagari burial caverns to search for their missing team members. After the tremor subsided Javier nodded to Mills, "Okay Crewman, show us this tunnel you found."

"It's b-b-behind one of the other w-w-walls," Delano said as he held his replacement tricorder. "P-p-probably an older t-t-tunnel." The crewman guided Chief Costala and Counselor T'Shaini to the section of wall he had been scanning while the others had loaded/unloaded the shuttle. "I sc-sc-scanned the r-r-rift and f-f-found it."

"Tunnels behind the walls, no wonder this place is falling apart," Javier commented, "this place is honeycombed with passages. There's no structural foundation to speak of, I'm surprised it hasn't collapsed before we arrived."

"It p-p-probably did Ch-ch-chief," Millls answered, "the p-p-path to the orb was once c-c-clear, I th-th-think." He carefully side-stepped the rift into which their captain had disappeared.

Javier shone his palm light down into the crevice. He could see the bottom now but Nils was no where to be seen. That's a good sign right? It means he's alive..there's no body laying down there. Or he could just be buried under all those rocks..

T'Shaini had been silent all through the loading of the aerowing and the 'clean up' of the Beradi mercenaries. Though her body was focused on her task, her mind was running in circles wondering how they were going to find Nils, and if they did…would he still be alive. Once dispatched, Delano's welcome news gave her hope that she had not even realized she was lacking. Peering over Javier's shoulder at the nothingness that his light shone over the Vulcan felt a small rush of relief. "Nothing there, he must have been mobile enough to leave the immediate area…" Then the realization that no matter how much there was only one she was concerned with there had been more than one that had fallen. "as were Kamaal Bedie and the Beradi."

His fingers tightened around the hand phaser at the mention of the Beradi. The mercenaries had been ferocious in the firefight and Javier had a feeling that they would fight just as fierce, if not fiercer, if they were cornered in the caverns beneath them. The engineer had left the phaser rifles in the aerowing, realizing that the tight space in the tunnels was not suitable for manuevering with a rifle. He also reasoned that if they ran into any Devanagari, the hand phasers could be easily concealed from the primitive people.

"I sc-sc-scanned the r-r-rift, no sign of the C-c-captain down there," Mills stated as he glanced at the rift.

"Okay, so where do we need to shoot?" Javier asked the engineer as he set his phaser to a higher level.

"Just here," Delano said, pointing to a space about three feet above the floor. He stood back and adjusted his own phaser, fiddling with the weapon nervously. Once he finished and T'Shaini was ready, all three of them aimed at the spot Del had indicated and fired a sustained burst. The rock crumbled and shifted to reveal a smaller tunnel.

"That's about as big as a Jeffries Tube," Javier commented. "Do you think there's enough room Counselor?"

"We sh-sh-should be able to c-c-crawl through Chief," Del answered, unsure why the Chief Engineer had asked a question with such an obvious answer. He looked from T'Shaini to Javier in confusion.

T'Shaini smiled slightly, both at the reference to their meeting on the Hawking and to Delano's bewilderment. "I believe it will suffice." She started to offer to go first, then at the glint in Javier's eye thought better of it. "After you, sir?"

Del moved forward and started to climb into the tunnel. He felt a hand on his shoulder and looked back to find the Chief Engineer shaking his head. "I think she means me Crewman Mills, after all you have the tricorder. I can't let the navigator go first." Javier turned to T'Shaini and added, "You're the ranking officer and they always go last." With a grin, Javier ducked his head and crawled into the tunnel. A slight breeze wafted over him inside of the cramped space, which told Javier that there was more than one opening to the tunnel. "So far so good," he whispered and began to crawl forward. The floor of the tunnel was smooth rock. Maybe worn down by water? the engineer thought as he moved downward. The light from his palm light played against the walls but showed no openings along the smooth walls. Javier stopped to affix the light to the front of his tunic. Behind him, Javier could hear the others stop moving.

"Another twenty m-m-meters and then a t-t-turn," Del said after glancing at his tricorder.

"Any sign of Nils?" The Vulcan whispered.

"N-n-no C-c-commander," Del answered then began to move forward again as he followed Lieutenant Costala. His knees began to feel the travel. The stone was smooth but still very hard and the texture of the fur pants didn't maek the journey any more comfortable. He began to wonder if he was claustrophobic too. "If I'm not I will be after this," Del said, talking to himself outloud.

"What did you say?" Javier asked, thinking that Mills had just given him directions.

"T-t-ten m-more m-m-meters," Del answered while scolding himself for not staying on task. He glanced back down at the tricorder, which suddenly blipped as it registered a body laying in the tunnel just after the turn. "G-g-got him!" Del said triumphantly. "He's after the turn, or near it," Mills indicated, not realizing he had lost his stutter due to excitement. The engineer quickened his crawl to keep up with the Chief. "He's just to the left of the..that's..wait.." The Chief's light disappeared as he turned the corner. Del scrambled after him. "Ch-ch-chief wait.." Mills heard an 'oof' as if someone had just been punched. After rounding the corner the tunnel widened into a cavern of sorts and Del could just make out Javier laying on the stone floor. A figure knelt over the engineer and in his upraised arm Del caught the flash of light off a blade.

"Hey! Stop!" Mills yelled and scrambled to palm his phaser. Rather than fleeing the shadowy figure snarled and lunged toward Del, the knife caught in his clothing and pierced the engineer's skin. Del groaned in pain as the blade dug into his shoulder. His tricorder clattered to the floor. "Chief, he got me." There was another feeling, as if someone had punched him in chest then Del slid to the floor.

T'Shaini could feel panic begin to rise as she could hear what was going on, but could neither see, nor get around Del to do anything about it. "Who is that?"

The Huntmaster of the Azuchi hissed at the newest voice. "They don't want you…"

Realizing that this must have been the Devanagari that Harry had followed down the cliffside T'Shaini tried to reason with him. "We are not here to steal your…spirit guides." It was a tight fit, but she saw no other choice. The counselor looked at Del seeking forgiveness as she began to push her way over him toward the opening. "We merely seek our friend to keep him safe."

"Liar," The voice she heard sounded otherworldly, as if many voices became one. "they have a purpose and any who stand in their way will be…" It halted abruptly, internal struggle apparent.

"Will be?" Almost there. "Will be what?"

"No, the intruders must not be allowed."

"We will not intrude, we simply seek our friend." T'Shaini's face was level with Del's and she shot him a look of apology before edging past him.

"You must not waste your words… end them…" She heard. "I… no… they must be warned…" Hearing the turn in the voice/voices T'Shaini shot out of the tunnel feeling material and skin tear in the struggle to break free and latched onto the arm holding the hunting knife that had wounded Del.

Chief, he got me, Javier thought about the words groggily. He had crawled into the area thinking it was Nils laying on the ground. But the man laying there had ambushed the engineer and stunned him with a blow. Javier could hear T'Shaini and the man talking but the words made no sense to him. One thought penetrated the haze. T'Shaini's in trouble. He searched for a weapon but couldn't find his phaser. Turning he could see Del laying on the ground and T'Shaini trying to fend off the knife-wielding Devanagari.

Javier moved forward; the man started to turn but before he could react the engineer grabbed a handful of the huntmaster's long hair and bashed his head into the rock wall beside them. After slamming the man's head into the wall twice he dropped the knife and Javier stopped the movement, letting the man slide to the floor. The engineer picked up the knife and tossed it to the other side of the cavern before crawling towards an unmoving Delano Mills. Javier dragged the younger man into the open area as his eyes went to the man's wounds. He'd been stabbed twice, once in the shoulder and once in the chest. The shoulder wound was bleeding profusely while the chest wound wasn't bleeding at all, which seemed odd to Javier.

While Javier tended to Delano, T'Shaini crossed over to the prone body of the Devanagari and knelt down. Seeing the blood seeping from the back of his head she gently closed his eyes, then a hand reached up and grasped her wrist. Letting him pull her down towards his mouth she heard his words carried on a breath so light she could barely make them out. "They said… I was their true child but… I think they meant… my other self" Then with a shudder he was gone.

He used some of the medical supplies they had brought to tend to Delano, staunching the flow of blood from his shoulder and giving him a hypo shot of anaprovaline. Javier tore the younger man's shirt, which had been slashed by the knife, to get to the chest wound. Instead of blood there was only bruised flesh and a small coin of some type of metal hanging from his neck. "It's a good thing you had that lucky charm Crewman," Javier commented.

Del felt his face grow hot. "Laerta gave it to m-m-me," he whispered and looked away.

JPness by T'Shaini, Javier and Pincushion Delano
Originally Posted 9/1/08 by Javier Costala

:: Girijan ::
:: Caverns ::

“Who sent you,” Kamaal asked as matter of fact as possible. They’d been walking, crawling, and squeezing through the tunnels for some time, always choosing the path that led towards the most interference. The downside was that the scanning device became more useless the further they went.

“Callan Vail,” Nils answered honestly. The more lies he told the harder it would be to keep track of a story. And the chances that either of his two companions actually knew Vail were slim to none.

“I don’t know Callan Vail,” Kamaal replied. Kona, who’d been traveling between them ‘hmph’d in response.

“Most don’t,” interjected Nils, hoping to divert the conversation. “He keeps a very low profile, as you might imagine.” A particularly tight crevice made his last phrase sound strained. “How do you know my father?” Perhaps the question would draw the woman off his tail.

“I don’t,” she answered, her own tone tense as she squeezed through the crevice after Kona. “At least, not personally. I’ve only heard of him by reputation.” She paused momentarily and seemed to work a suspicion through her mind. “I’d thought it would be he who’d sent you. Such a devout man surely spawned a devout family.”

Nils almost laughed. “To be honest I’ve been a cynic most of my life,” he commented. Something about the woman’s own sincerity of purpose drew the same from the young Captain. However misguided she was, everything about her demeanor screamed complete devotion. These were the types that had scared Nils in his later teen years. “I’ve only just recently graduated to skeptic.”

“I’m not sure I understand the distinction…”

Surprisingly, it was Kona who spoke next. “The cynic leaves no room for hope and truth. The skeptic moves through quiet hope ever closer to the truth, ruling everything else out.”

Nils paused, taken aback. He turned and examined the alien who’d been following him. “Exactly,” he said coldly. Clearly, Kamaal was just as shocked as Nils at the Beradi response.

“Why do you look so surprised,” Kona growled. “Our people are as devoted to the Warrior as yours are to the…prophets…” He spat the word, as if it burned is mouth. “More so… We will do what must be done to insure our relationship with them. There is no room for failure.”

The fanaticism in his voice chilled Nils to the core. For the first time, he realized how close he walked to death. Kona didn’t need any more reason to kill him than was already present. Only the opportunity needed to arise.

“There is no room for failure for me either,” Kamaal answered, her tone souring. “The fate of my world rests in our success. Torrik Nils can tell you how far from the truth our people have drifted. With our world opening itself to new and destructive ideologies, our faith has been diluted…” Bedie sounded disgusted. “Vulcan logic… Human optimism… Klingon honor… They taint the truth that the Prophets handed down to generation after generation. Our faith is for the Bajoran people alone.”

“But the Emissary is human…” The moment he spoke he knew he’d screwed up. The silence that followed confirmed it. Nils pressed on pretending he’d said nothing. “The signal from this device is completely diffused. We are very near the Orb. But I can’t tell if this corridor connects to the chamber that holds it.”

“Who are you?” The question peppered Nils’ back. He almost felt it. Kona’s mandibles clicked in excitement sensing the change in the current state of events.

“I am Torrik Nils, of Lonar Province,” the Bajoran answered as he turned very slowly.

“Perhaps… But why are you here? No member of the Circle would speak of the Emissary in such terms. We know that he was not human, but of Bajor.” Kamaal nodded at Kona who smiled (at least Nils thought it was a smile) and raised his weapon once more.

“He is both,” Hawking’s CO said boldly. He didn’t miss the significance of his own words. As he said them they gained new meaning. “He is both human and of Bajor. And to deny any part of that is to deny the truth of who he is.”

“Kill him?” Nils could almost see Kona’s finger itching at the trigger.

“That’s not even possible. He is one or the other. He can not be both.” Kamaal grew angry, and although the cavern was dark, the flush in her face was clearly visible.

“The nature of the Prophets is still a matter of debate, Kamaal. The quantum expression of who and what they are is undefined enough to allow the Emissary to be both, not just symbolically, but actually as well. The genetic and atomic make up of the man, Benjamin Sisko could be completely Terran in origin. Yet on a quantum level his nature could…”

“You speak blasphemy, Torrik,” Kamaal cried. “The Bajoran Science Institute has tainted your doctrine… Faith and your figuring of how the universe works are mutually exclusive and even the Vedek assembly are coming to realize it. Now, I’ll ask you one more time… Who sent you and why are you here?” Although still completely sincere, the woman seemed lost in a fury bordering on madness.

Nils sighed deeply and his brows fell low. “I’m Commander Torrik Nils, of the Federation starship Hawking.” The dawning realization brought new anger to the Bajoran woman’s face, but seemed to weaken Kona’s resolve. He slumped a little, but didn’t lower his weapon. “I’m here to… I’m here because…” He faltered. The next words that came out of his mouth may very well be his last.

“I’m here because I walk with the Prophets… The path they’ve set before me led me to yours.”

With Kamaal Bedie and Kona
Originally Posted 9/3/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

Jen looked up from the PADD she was reading as Harry began to stir. “It lives,” she commented, since most of the med staff was far enough away to enjoy a little informality.

Squinting his way clear of the sedatives Lewis had forced on him, damn drug pushers, Harry took in the reality of Jenny’s presence. “Define, ‘lives’," he commented, pushing up on his elbows. “What’cha reading?”

“‘The Count of Monte Cristo’” she replied. “You know, there’s not really a prize for playing chicken with death…”

“Dumas, huh?” was his response, “I remember when your favorite reading was that retro-comic thing… what was it? The Y-Men?”

“X-Men,” Jenny sighed as Harry deflected the topic.

Sitting up, he frowned, “You sure?”

“Very sure,” rising from her chair and watching him, “I had a crush on Nightcrawler.”

“And don’t think that didn’t give your Dad a few sleepless nights,” he swung his feet to the side, preparatory to standing.

“Hold it just there, Lieutenant,” the Scottish burr of Dr. Matthew Ayre cut into the mix. “No departure without clearance… yes, yes we all know you’re the first officer but the MD trumps the XO in Starfleet.”

“Hah,” was Finn’s dry response. “Well I feel spiffy… do we really think Dr. Yaps-a-lot would have left anything unfixed?”

He didn’t get an answer right off since Matthew was busy choking over the too-accurate reference to Dr. Lewis.

Jen’s eyes went wide… not that Uncle Harry had ever been known for tact…

“Sorry, no, you’re right,” Matthew ran the numbers from the biobed and then double checked with his own portable scanner, “Dr. Lewis is not one to leave things unfixed… but then, neither am I and I’ve found it’s bad for my rep to let a neurology patient walk before we’ve ascertained a full recovery…”

Harry sighed and waited as the doc ran his tricorder over and around his recently abused cranium. “Good to see you, by the way,” he threw to Jenny as Ayre muttered over his readings.

Jen, who’d been retrieving Harry’s uniform from the bedside table almost dropped it again. “Ahh, good to see you, too.”

“Right,” the doctor turned off his tech and started entering notes on his PADD, which Harry proceeded to read, upside-down, “Now, there was a vertical fracture over the temporal lobe which caused some intracranial pressure, which led to bleeding in the brain and that…”

Harry glanced up, “Sorry, doc, you’re saying intracranial pressure but I’m hearing blah blah blah… what’s the upshot?”

Ayre was shocked to silence for a moment and Finn took that moment to slide off the bed and grab his uniform from Jenny.

Matthew did a mental fast forward because the patient had already slipped behind the curtain to start changing. “The upshot is that there was some trauma to the area of the lobe which controls your memories and, though we can repair the physical damage well enough, there’s damned little we can do about…”

“Me losing some internal files?” Harry’s voice came from behind the curtain, along with the despised hospital garb. “Gotcha.”

“Indeed,” Matt frowned. “So should you experience any blanks in your recall, don’t worry too much but do let me know about it.”

Harry re-appeared, fastening his jacket, “Right, okay… and you were?” Which didn’t go over quite as he’d hoped, “It was a joke, Ayre… a joke.”

Both Jen and the medical officer rolled their eyes at that before Matthew deigned to reply, “In that case, I’m clearing you for duty; get thee to the bridge… wait, you do remember where the bridge is?”

“Ha… and yes,” Harry headed for the door, Jenny trailing after. “What’s happening, anyway? How long have I been out?”

“Just over two hours,” Anderson replied. “Nothing from the Atar’a’kor but also no word from Girijan and as of about thirty minutes ago, the ship’s sensors have been unable to pierce the interference generated by the storm.”

“That’s the Orb,” Harry said, slamming his hand on the ‘lift call. “I have to…” but just then…

=/\=Tenanji to Finn =/\=

Apparently Dr. Ayre had reported his cleared status to the Security Chief. Harry tapped his combadge, =/\=Finn, go ahead=/\=

=/\=Sir, the aerowing is currently en route from the planet with a cargo of Beradi prisoners… and one Beradi corpse. =/\=

=/\=Copy that. Get a full situation report. I’m on my way to the bridge, Finn out.=/\= the doors to the lift opened and the two entered. “Deck two, then bridge,” he ordered, then, to Jenny’s surprised expression he added, “I have a job for you.”

Minutes later, Harry strode onto the bridge while a quietly apprehensive Jenny assembled what he'd requested from the XO's office.

Featuring NPC's Dr. Matthew Ayre and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 9/3/08 by Harry Finn

.:: Aerowing Shuttle : Enroute to USS Hawking ::.

Vince sat behind the console of the Aerowing, tapping buttons, not flying as such, watching an oldie show on the console's screen. The show was showing some guy that would grunt, and request more power. Vince chuckled at what was happening, then turned to look towards the back of the shuttle.

Scott was standing over one of the Beradi prisoners, whom he had just had to detain as the man started to come around. Tatiana was sitting in the adjacent seat to Vince, staring off into the space infront of them. He turned back to the console, then saw a blinking light.

" Well, it would appear that the Hawking is finally able to contact us," Vince tapped the console.

=/\= Hawking to Aerowing, how are things? =/\= The voice came in loud and clear.

" Hawking, Aerowing, Things are great here. We have Beradi prisoners, one deceased, and one has aroused from his stun, but is detained. ETA for arrival should be within' the next 20 mins or so. Have a security team meet us at the recess hatch , I'd like to get rid of these passengers as soon as possible." Vince looked back to the rear of the shuttle again.

=/\= A security team has been placed there already. The acting CO has requested that you report to the bridge immediatly after recoupling the shuttle.=/\=

" I read ya. We'll be there soon." Vince tappedthe console then looked beside him," Well, I guess I'll be skipping any exams after we get back."

Tatiana just smiled as Vince went back to watching his show, Scott still keeping a phaser trained on their prisoners.

Originally Posted 9/4/08 by Vince Stryfe

The Eastern Cliffs

Day had come to the Azuchi Hentuu though here at the cliffs, wherein lay their honored ancestors, there was little to suggest a sunrise. Clouds piled over the Ahmadiyya, colliding one with another and spouting zuuts of lightning which struck the great deeps below as if to make it bleed and… after a time… bleed it did - in slim, twisting gouts of water which erupted… one, three, a dozen, multiple hemorrhages rising from the wounded oceans to, in their turn, prick the tortured skies above.

And this was the sight which greeted the mixed morayni (for no juvaal could be convinced to go towards the source of their disquiet) of Azuchi and Ekkura as they topped the small knoll before the end of world… and what, to Sallin, at least, appeared to be the world's ending.


"It's… beautiful," Spera admitted, transfixed by the glory of the storm.

"It's a killer," Kal-El corrected though he sounded more filled with awe than bile, for once.

"It is coming this way," Fehr said, turning to scan the windblown plateau for cover, his eyes crossing Kerrin's as his words pointed up how dreadfully exposed their small party was.

Kerrin squinted against the wind whipped grit. "Can we get a reading on anyone?" She whispered to Fehr as they stepped away from the group.

He shook his head, "I tried when I stopped to take a drink," he gestured at the chisira which covered his tricorder, "and that was just before we reached the crest of that hill. But that does not mean no one is about," he added quickly, "just… the readings are completely inconclusive. They do not even register the lightning."

"Shit." She wiped her eyes in frustration. "I know they are in the caves and I saw Jason climbing the cliff…" Kerrin stomped several meters away from Fehr, just in case he had something to say about 'what she saw'. "I think we should find him first, then he can tell us more about what is going down in the Hentuu." And they would find him, no matter what the look on Kal-El's face said.

As an Elasian, Fehr was less skeptical regarding matters of the spirit than many Earthers and therefore, "Sallin!" Fehr turned to the Hentari, "with your permission, we will search the area for the traveler Kerrin spied upon her return from your quest. Is it… is there shelter, nearby," he nodded towards the madness over the ocean, "should we have a sudden need?"

The young Hentari shook his head. "We do not linger in the lands not meant for the living. The only shelter that may be found is within the cliffs."

Kal-El snorted in disgust, "Well, from the looks of that mess, we either shelter with the dead or join the…."

Kerrin brushed past the obnoxiousness that was Kowalski and put her hand on Sallin's shoulder. "You saw the man climbing as well? You know this area far better than I, can you tell where we were when we saw him?"

Sallin gave a short nod, then turned to scan the wind-whipped cliff's edge. "We are north of the Hentuu by which he climbed… those are old… many migrations have gone since any have used them for more than their spirit quest." He frowned as his eyes watered in the constant breeze, "there should be a stand of pria, just there," he pointed southwards, towards a rocky trench which had been severely scarred by recent lightning. "I think… I think the man was close to that."

The words had barely left his mouth and Kerrin had already taken off. Eyes scanning the mess of terrain, she picked up her pace assuming the rest of them would follow her…not that she would have done anything different if they were not following her, she just assumed.

"Come along," Fehr took off after the heedless woman. A series of curses which, had Sallin been nearby to hear, would have confounded his Universal Translator, were whipped away by the ever increasing wind off the ocean. He caught up easily and kept pace with Kerrin, reaching out an arm to slow her as they approached the indicated area… a gorge could hide enemies as easily as friends.

She shook of his arm and pushed forward, there was something here, she could smell it…well not smell it, but…whatever. "Jason?" Kerrin got closer to the edge of the trench. "Jason?" She swore she could hear a response. "Jason?"

"No f**king way!" He had been down there for hours. "Kerrin?" Jason tried to pull his leg out from beneath the rockslide he had been caught in after one particularly close lighting strike and yelped in pain as his shredded leg began to protest again. "Kerrin…down here."

Flashing a brilliant smile (maybe slightly tinged with 'I told you so' toward Kal-El) Kerrin yelled back down. "Yup! Kerrin and her mighty band of rescuers! Hang on, we will be right down, or get you right up or whatever they say is best."

It was Sallin, perhaps not surprisingly, who found the easiest descent to where the young hunter was pinned. He also found the remains of one of the pria trees which, with Fehr and Hamish, he used to lever the largest of stones from this… Jason. And throughout the process the morning sky grew darker and soon all noticed how their ears were given to popping.

"That cannot be good," Fehr commented as he and Kerrin did their best to immobilize Jason's leg.

While they were working Jason quietly filled them in on what he had witnessed down in the caverns. "…and then, Kerrin…it was an Orb. I don't know the archaic form well enough to tell much more than that, but I can't see what else it would be." He shook his head and smiled at her. "Explains quite a bit."

"Oh god." Kerrin breathed out. "And…oh god," What she had seen suddenly made more sense. "I saw a figure subsumed with the light of it and another consumed by its darkness." She stared off, reliving her vision.

Fehr watched Jason watching Kerrin and saw the confusion, "The doctor partook of a local ceremony," he explained, "by drinking the, ahh, enokitaki?" He glanced around to make certain they were unheard, "It led us here…"

"Kerrin…Kerrin." Jason waved his hand in front of her face until she broke off and looked at him sheepishly. "You will fill me in on every detail when we have more time." He said with an edge to his voice. "Sure, I get stuck with Har…ad, and you get to go frolic with a Hentari. You owe me."

Before she could stop it Kerrin was sticking her tongue out at Jason. I hope no one else saw that.

"Charming," Fehr told her before continuing in a low voice, "It becomes clear that, no matter the local proscriptions we must protect the
orb… presumed or not, from Kamaal. T'Shaini and her team are still within, and so must we be." He turned his dark, unusually serious gaze to Kerrin, "You have Sallin's trust, now we need his permission… we have to get into those caves…"

"Mmm." Kerrin nodded then walked over to where Sallin was watching the storm. "Hentari, I must elicit your aid. We two have seen the great power and the great evil within the Hentuu and my shadow walkers believe it essential that we go down to epicenter to shield the source of all power, for if we cannot…" She had no idea what to say next. There was no way to explain the Circle or the Beradi.

From where he remained with Jason, both observing the quiet conversation, the security officer watched the doubts scudding across Sallin's face… an apt relfection of the clouds above. He hadn't said this to Kerrin but the fact was, permission or no, he and his team would descend into the cliffs. They had a clear duty to perform and if he needed to go around a stubborn Devanagari to do so, so be it. Truth to tell, it would be simpler if the man had remained in his own sh'kesh…

"I saw the great power… and how displeased the ancestors were with Tchiva," Sallin was saying. "And though I did swear to seek out the darkness… what if… what if the spirits wish to be left alone? What if that is why Tchiva was so… stricken?"

"If they are indeed evil then yes, I am quite sure they wish to be left alone. I am also just as sure that we must not leave them alone or a great ill will befall." Am I really talking like this?

As the word 'befall' fell from her lips a crash of thunder erupted, seemingly, directly above them.

"Yes, yes, I'd say that counts as a 'sign' Kal-El commented from the rock where he'd been parked throughout the rescue op.

Propping himself up, Jason raised his voice to carry over the storm. "Hentari, power can be used for evil if we do nothing. Is it not our duty to intervene? No matter how great the cost?"

Still, Sallin appeared to waver. Fehr's glance slid to Hamish and Esperanza… both of whom understood what was required. His own hand slid towards the concealed phaser but before he could put a hand to it…

"So be it… let us be true seekers," Sallin agreed, though with obvious reluctance. "Perhaps it is only by traveling through the darkness that we may be granted the light." So saying, he turned and began to pick his way eastward to the edge of the ravine… ten meters out he paused, turned to face the strangers with whom he'd cast his lot and pointed downwards, "HERE!" he needed to shout, now to be heard, "this is our best entry!" And then, so quiet that even he could not hear himself speak, "May the ancestors forgive me."

Harry and Tee's NPC funhouse featuring Jason Hallows and Kerrin Schaeffer
Originally Posted 9/4/08 by T'Shaini

USS Hawking
Conference Room - Deck One

Harry, leaning against the wall, listened quietly as Lt. Stryfe gave his report on events planet side. Once the pilot had completed his tale, Finn crossed his arms over his chest, glanced at Tenanji who had also sat in on the debrief. “So the captain is MIA; Costala, Mills and T’Shaini are searching for him and the Orb… and me, which won’t do them any good, clearly, and we still have no twenty on the other teams and we’re missing an archeologist. And there are still Beradi and Kamaal herself to worry about.” He paused a moment, “So, basically, things are normal.”

That brought a slight chuckle from Stryfe and the expected glare from Tenanji.

“We need to get an extraction team in place,” Usher pointed out.

“We need to get the Orb under control before that storm decimates the continent,” Harry amended.

Vince wisely kept his mouth shut but he was too tall to ignore for long.

“Lieutenant,” the XO broke off the staring contest with the Security Chief, “Get your clearance from medical and then report back to the shuttle bay and pre-flight the aerowing. No matter what, we have to make sure our people have a back door off that rock.”

“Sir,” Stryfe acknowledged the order and beat a hasty retreat.

Waiting for the young pilot to exit, Tenanji returned to the argument at hand, “I am uncertain how you can be so sure it is the Orb responsible for the current atmospheric disturbances,” he waved a hand vaguely towards the ports, “For that matter, how can you be certain it even is an Orb?”

“I can’t quite explain it,” Harry took a deep breath and exhaled before continuing, “I just… I was very… close… to it… I don’t know… I don’t how I know, but I know that… thing… is an Orb and it is making that storm happen; somehow it’s doing it.”

“But… why?”

Harry raised his hands in classic WTF, “Like I’d know? This is a question for the scientists or Torrik… or someone who knows about this woo woo shit. Maybe it’s broken? But one way or another, something needs to be done about it because the one thing I do know is things are going to continue to get worse unless we can either remove it from the planet or shield it or siphon off the whatever it is that is creating atmospheric chaos…”

“And how are we…”

“That’s why we have scientists on board, right?” Finn’s tone had gone quite suddenly terse, “Why don’t you get the ice queen… O’Keefe, and her people on the problem instead of engaging in more pointless debate?”

Usher’s expression barely altered. “Sir,” he replied before turning to exit. As he left the room, Crewman Anderson stepped forward.

“LT,” she greeted her erstwhile CO, “Lt. Finn requested some data…”

“That was fast,” Harry appeared in the doorway, almost on Tenanji’s heels. “Come on in,” he stepped back so his yeoman could enter sparing barely a look for his Chief of Security.

“Are you sure you need all this?” Jenny was asking as she lay a handful of isolinear chips and two PADD’s on the conference room table.

“I’m not sure I need any of it… well, except for that prophecy crap… stuff,” he shook his head. “Who knows, there may be a clue as to what the Orb is supposed to be doing in there…”

“But the other?” Anderson’s hand brushed over the collection of crew reports, the ship’s manifest and Harry Finn’s own ship’s and personal logs, which he’d asked her to retrieve.

“Well, like the doc said, I may have blanks in my memory. What if I don’t know something I need to know but don’t know I need it until I do need it and it’s not there?” He frowned, “Or something like that. Anyway, at least, if there’s any down time, I can skim over the stuff and if anything doesn’t jibe, I can contact Ayre about it and we’ll go from there.”

Jen smiled over his jumbled explanation, “Too bad all the good stuff is classified," referring to his 'lost weeks' down on Kendrassa Prime.

“Well,” he collected the intel, “for sure this is no ‘Count of Monte Cristo.’” Glancing up, he frowned a moment, “You look a beat,” Harry commented, “why don’t you take a few hours for some shut eye?”

“But, we’re at Red Alert and you’ve got…”

“And how long have we been holding at Red Alert?” He shook his head and gestured towards the door, “If things get interesting, you’ll know about it, soon enough. For now, get what sleep you can. Four hours, minimum, unless I call.” She hadn’t moved, “Jenny,” he sighed, “don’t make me make it an order.”

Blinking, she tried to shake off the sense of being ‘got rid of’ like some inconvenient kid, “Can’t have that,” she said, following, “Four hours, and I’ll be reporting back.”

“I’ll be looking for you,” he replied though, in fact, after one quick look to the now-bustling science station, Harry was already studying the first PADD, the one which listed the prophecy which had brought Kamaal Bedie and then the Hawking to Girijan in the first place. By the time Jenny had reached the turbolift, he was sitting in the command chair, thoroughly engrossed in the words of a long-dead Bajoran.

Post featuring the spiritual presence of Vince Stryfe and NPC's Usher Tenanji and Jenny Anderson
Originally Posted 9/5/08 by Harry Finn

:: Girijan ::
:: Caverns ::

“I’m here because I walk with the Prophets… The path they’ve set before me led me to yours.”

Kamaal didn’t answer immediately. Nor did she show any outward sign to give Nils an inkling of whether she would let him live or not. She suddenly stepped forward and grasped Nils’ ear, measuring his Pagh in the traditional Bajoran way. With eyes closed she took a deep breath, trying to reach past the barrier of flesh that all spirits dwelled within. There was quiet and a moment’s calm. Even Kona seemed to relax a little.

“Your pagh is sincere… And…alert…” She opened her eyes and stepped back.

Doubt seeped up in Nils’ chest. He’d seen several Bajorans take hold of each others ears and make some profound pronouncement throughout his life. Mostly they said cliché things that meant little to nothing. Or they’d spoken some well known hope or blessing. Only once had he actually felt something. And that was when Kai Opaka had held his ear and spoken over him a mystery that he’d only just begun to decipher in his own life.

This time was nothing like that.

“Perhaps we’re both sincere, Kamaal,” Nils said as honestly as he could. “But that doesn’t mean we’re both right. Consider what you’re doing here. Consider the ramifications of the actions you’ve already taken.”

She seemed to do just that. But then she said, “You’re misguided. Young and misguided. We lost so much to the Cardassians. But now we lose more…to the Federation.”

“No,” Nils rebutted strongly. “That’s not true. The Federation has learned that every culture has innate value. And that unity of purpose can be attained without sacrificing the distinctions that make each of us unique. We don’t have to be one…or the other. We can be both. Our diversity can make us wise… And strong… If you want to isolate our planet from the rest of the galaxy then it will stagnate and die! There are sentient beings reaching out to…”

“You’ve fallen for the whole lie haven’t you?” Bedie’s face grew red and her expression darkened in disgust. “We’re the great and mighty Federation… Including all, and watering down everything that gives a culture its identity. We’re all just one big happy fleet!” Her sarcasm was ugly. Her rage grew with every word. “I say no! I say we fight! There is a war coming, Torrik Nils. A war for the soul of Bajor! Only the most deluded of us could doubt the necessity of this war. And, if we lose, then who will win? Does the Federation win when they obtain secure rights to the Celestial Temple? When on the floor of the House of Ministers they cheer - they cheer - when they pass a motion for Federation membership that is a certain date for surrender, what were they cheering? Surrender? Defeat? No, I will fight for our people and I will fight for what is right!”

“Is it right to kill innocents on your quest for cultural purity?” Nils too was becoming angry. “The Devanagari deserve a chance to evolve into their own people. They deserve the right to grow into space faring sentients in the next several hundred years to join the galactic community. But what have you done here, Kamaal? For the purity of your culture, you’ve potentially destroyed another! Innocent people have died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and they stood on the path of your crusade! That is wrong! Everything about it is wrong!”

“My path is forged by the Prophets!” Their yelling echoed down the long corridors of the cavern. Kona lowered his weapon and stood back to watch. The entertainment value alone was worth the delay. “It is right because the Prophets have ordained it to be right! I do not have to justify their will! Not to the Devanagari, or the Federation, and certainly not to you!”

“Yes, Kamaal! Yes you do!” The Bajoran Captain fumed. He stepped forward and thrust his finger in her face then continued in a slow but vicious tone. “When your faith steps on the lives of others you do have to justify it. It can’t be right because you say so! Right and wrong exist outside of you and outside of the will of the Prophets! The Prophets are as bound by what is good and what is evil as you and I are! If they tread into darkness, I will not follow! My faith is not the faith of a fool! My faith is anchored in reason and morality! When it breaks these bonds it is no longer a faith that has merit. It is no longer a faith that deserves protection. And it is no longer the faith of our Prophets!”

Nils was irate. He rarely raised his voice. In fact, during most times of emotional upheaval he grew more quiet and contemplative. Today was different. A nerve had been set afire. And that inferno had spread, igniting the kindling of duty and honor that defined him. Kamaal stood for everything wrong in every culture since the beginning of time.

“Blasphemy!!!” With wide eyes and a frantic, almost hysterical expression she spat each word at Nils face. “You are not of Bajor!” With a turn she stalked away, her breathing eager and full of force. “Kill him! Kill him, Kona!”

As if he’d been waiting for just that, the Beradi raised his weapon and seemed to smile. Killing a Starfleet Captain would probably have political repercussions, but who’d ever find out if it happened deep below the surface of a backwater world like Girijan. The Warrior would have more blood this day.

He pulled the trigger with great joy…

… and nothing happened.

Featuring Kamaal Bedie and Kona… as well as some sentiments/quotes from John McCain, spoken by Kamaal Bedie.
Originally Posted 9/5/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

The back of the desk chair creaked as the body it supported leaned back. Tatiana raised her legs to the surface of the desk, and crossed them. With her face scrunched in concentration, she reread the last line on the screen and growled before she reached the end of the sentence. Her legs dropped to the ground again and she leaned towards the screen. There was something wrong again. She was entering the facial reconstructions she did into the logs, and running into problems along the way. Her finger tapped the delete key harshly, she had spelt Devanagari wrong. The cursor moved back speedily, while she replaced the second ‘e’ with an ‘a’.

“D-e-v-A-n-a-g-a-r-i,” she said aloud as she hit each key with her index finger.

“Finally,” Tatiana exclaimed and moved to the next line. Her excitement was short lived when she had to describe the procedures. She frowned as she recalled the quick surgeries and the bad run of her first facial reconstruction. “The attempt,” she read back to herself, “was not done thoroughly. Until the return of Lieutenant (j.g.) Javier Costala and Commander Torrik Nils I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of the procedure.”

After the entry was saved, she stood and stretched. Tatiana left the office and put away the kit that she had taken on the Aerowing. Sickbay was quiet, the shift that had been there when she had left, had been replaced with the next. This shift was smaller, and she didn’t associate with most of them.

“Hey Thorne,” someone called out.

She looked to see who had spoken to her. One of that shift’s nurses had come up behind her. “Yes?”

“Oh, someone sent word that Stryfe was coming down.”

“Usha? Is she okay?” Tatiana asked, concerned.

“No, her brother. He needs a quick once-over before he can head back out.”

The young woman nodded, “I’ll take it. Thanks Sarah.” Sarah didn’t respond, but she smiled before going back to whatever she was doing.

Tatiana pulled one of the carts behind her and stopped by a biobed. “A doctor’s work is never done,” Tatiana sighed.

Originally Posted 9/5/08 by Tatiana Thorne

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Bridge ::

Tenanji had been clear. Find out if there was a connection to the ‘orb’ and the bizarre and dangerous weather patterns down on Girijan’s surface. And since Lt. Finn had freed her from the agonizingly slow and inefficient burst telemetry means of data gathering, she’d made significant progress in unraveling what in the seven hells was going on in Girijan’s atmosphere.

In the last hour, Jada brought the entire sensor array online. Every one of Hawking’s scanning pallets brought their full ability to bear on the planet’s surface. And despite the ionization present, some very interesting data had been pouring in. The new Chief of Science's specialty had always been planetary studies. She focused her experience and education on the meteorological events swirling about in the skies of Girijan… And nothing added up.

Only now was the framework of what actually stirred below becoming apparent. “Sir, I’ve got some very interesting readings here,” she said to Finn without looking up. From the corner of her eye she saw him look up. “And I think I can confirm that the storm below is not naturally occurring. And it is a distinct possibility that it’s being generated by the …artifact… Umm.. The orb.”

“What do you have Lieutenant?” Finn didn’t get up.

Her understanding of orbs and mystical alien religions was terribly lacking so she shied away from any theories that led her down those paths. Instead, she stuck to the facts, and her own interpretations of why the planet itself couldn’t be generating this storm. “I’ve reviewed these readouts a few times and what I’m seeing doesn’t add up. The storm itself is classified as diamagnetic and it’s saturated with polaric ion energy. And although there have been a few documented cases of polaric energy occurring in natural storms, these readings are on a scale that dwarfs anything we’ve ever encountered.”

“Go on,” the XO coaxed sarcastically.

“Sir, polaric ions are extremely unstable! Their effects are highly unpredictable and I’m already seeing signs of strain in localized subspace. That vortex of energy swirling around in the guise of a storm could potentially rip a hole in the fabric of reality down on that planet. I don’t know what it’ll do. Captain Torrik’s experience with bizarre phenomenon like this might give him some insight on the subject, but I’m fairly confident I have this right. We’re looking at a subspace storm manifesting in real space. And there is no reason for it. I’ve looked for any trace that the Beradi may have fired a polaric weapon into the upper atmosphere, but there is no way they could have generated enough energy to produce what’s occurring down there. It’s coming from somewhere else. And the orb is the only variable I can’t account for…within reason.”

“Options?” Finn seemed a bit more anxious now.

“I can triangulate a position for the interference and come up with a location for the orb within about sixty meters. I suggest we lock on torpedoes and blow it up. I know it sounds extreme, sir, but if we don’t that storm is only going to grow! I can’t predict what it will do, but worse case scenario is that it swallows the planet in a quantum singularity… The other lesser scenarios aren’t much better, but none of them leave that planet with any chance to sustain life!” Although calm and collected, the gravity of the situation etched itself in her tone.

“Other options?” She was definitely not getting a good read on this man. But certainly he didn’t relish the idea of orbital bombardment of a planet protected by the Prime Directive.

“Well… Yes…” With reservation she ran her fingers over her console quickly and deftly. “Polaric ions are sensitive to gravitons. A multiphase tractor beam could…siphon off the energy effectively. But maintaining a multiphase tractor beam is tricky. And I don’t think it could penetrate the ionization that’s already occurred in the upper and lower atmosphere. We’d need a crew on the ground to bleed off some of the static energy in order to create an environment that would allow for the tractor beam to maintain cohesion. Then we could bleed off the polaric ionization from our end.”

It was quiet on the bridge. Jada felt like everyone was staring at her, so anyone she locked eyes with received daggers in return. Every look was a challenge to her intellect. Every expression made her feel the need to prove herself.

After enough time she’d had enough. She snapped back to the XO and coldly asked, “Orders sir?”

Post by Hawking's Chief of Science Jada O'Keefe
Originally Posted 9/6/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

Harry sat and listened to the last suggestion before him but his thoughts were far, far below… in the cave where the Orb was currently wreaking havoc…

“Orders sir?” the prompt interrupted his line of thought and he threw up a warning finger.

“Processing,” was all he said as he looked back down to the PADD before him. The tractor option was hands down the most appealing, if it could be made to work… and to work they needed groundside support and to get groundside support they needed…

“Option two it is,” he stated, rising and turning the warning finger to a warning hand as O’Keefe looked about to spout the downsides of the plan, again. “You start calibrating the tractor, take any and all talent from every department you need.” He turned to Tactical and Engineering, “Meanwhile, we are going to get in touch with the away teams and get them onto dealing with the excess static…” he had a sudden unfortunate vision of Torrik waving the galaxy’s largest dryer sheet like a flag.

“We can’t get a signal through…” Quincy began, glancing at Tenanji who had remained on the bridge, watching everything.

“Not directly no,” Finn interrupted, "but if we think outside the line…”

“We can bounce the signal,” Lt. Rasoul offered from the Engineering station, “place a communications buoy on planet… in the ocean it will be both out of sight and beyond the influence of the storm…”

“And another in low orbit,” O’Keefe joined in, not willing to allow anyone else ascendency in idea-building.

“We’ll use the aerowing for that position,” Harry threw in. “I want it close enough for quick personnel retrieval. No reason it can’t pull double-duty as a com satellite.” He looked down at the PADD he still held then up at the seemingly frozen bridge. “Sooo, let’s just… make it so.” And with that the place erupted, orders flew across the coms sending pilots where they were needed, putting science, engineering and ops personnel onto repurposing the Hawking’s tractor emitter or deploying the communications buoy.

As the purposeful madness ensued, Harry returned to the command chair and the prophecy and considered the words, again.

Scattered on the seven winds
The eyes of the Prophet’s seek their true children

Four eyes gaze on the faithful remnant
The center eye speaks to the speaker
The lost eyes still search

One lone lost eye stares at its own reflection
And reviles the sight it sees

The remnant reaches out for the lone lost eye
The warriors take the first step into the heart
The heart leads the way to the eye.

What was lost will be found
And in finding, the remnant brings purity

But the reviled watched in return
The merciless strike will come from the dark
And the Pool then threatens the gates of the Remnant.

Bunch of religious gah gah, he thought and then briefly wished that it was Torrik here, facing these ridiculous choices.

Once again, featuring the many NPC's of the Hawking
Originally Posted 9/6/08 by Harry Finn

-The Tunnels-

Javier worked quickly as he tried to staunch the flow of blood from Mills' shoulder wound. He had been taught basic first aid and knew enough about field medicine from his Marine training to keep Delano from bleeding out. But he needs to be patched up. the engineer realized as he rummaged around in the pack of medical supplies the team had brought from the Aerowing. Delano whimpered quietly as Javier withdrew the medical instruments from the pack. He knew their names. Autosuture. Dermal Regenerator. But the engineer had never used them in a combat situation. There's always a first time for everything. he thought before remembering that T'Shaini was part of the medical staff.

"T'Shaini?" he asked as he spotted her kneeling over the body of the man he had just knocked out. "I need your help. I don't know how to suture this wound. Can you do it?"

My other self? Pulling herself away from the Devanagari, T'Shaini moved quickly at the sound of Javier's voice. "I will not pretend to be a doctor, but I will do what I can." Thankfully, the wound was not beyond her modicum of experience. She made quick work of the suturing then stroked Del's hair soothingly. "Well done, Delano. How do you feel?"

"B-b-better," Del said as he swallowed. He'd never been in a fight before and most certainly had never been stabbed. The hypo the Chief had given him had numbed the pain so he hadn't felt the stitches the counsellor had used to close the wound. That was only part of the trouble though, for the first time on the mission he was genuinely scared. And not just scared a little, but frightened by the prospect that someone had actually wanted to kill him. And for what? Some Bajoran artifact that played havoc with electrical devices? The prospect of what might have happened to their XO suddenly became very real to Delano as he looked over at the shape of the man that had attacked them. "Is he dead?"

"No, I just knocked him out," Javier replied to the engineer. He glanced back at their attacker, switching his palm light over so that its beam swept over the man's still form. "He's not moving much is he?" He's expired. Javier thought.

The Vulcan's hand stilled. "I am afraid Delano is correct. He is dead."

"I didn't mean to kill him," Javier stated in a troubled tone, "I thought he would hurt you, like he had Crewman Mills." The engineer swept the light over the Devanagari man once more. We have to find the Orb. resonated in his thoughts. If we find it first then we can stop anyone else from dying. "We need to continue our search for the Orb," Javier told the others.

T'Shaini squeezed Del's good shoulder warmly. Of course they knew Javier did not intend to kill that poor man, they needed no assurance on that account. "Quite right, if Kamaal Bedie has Nils or even if she does not, we can presume that orb is their intended objective and thence finding it, hopefully locate them."

"Can you keep up with us?" Javier asked Mills, "If not I may venture ahead on my own."

"I'll stay w-w-with you Ch-ch-chief," Del replied as sat up. He didn't like the idea of being left alone or with someone in the dark cavern, especially with homicidal Devanagari crawling around nearby. Picking up his tricorder from the dusty floor, Del activated it and began to map out their course only pausing to try and filter out the bursts of static that plagued the device. "I th-th-think we're cl-cl-close anyway." Showing the interference to Javier then adding: "It d-d-did that the l-l-last time." Del started to crawl forward but was halted by a painful twinge in his shoulder. Taking a deep breath the engineer moved forward as he scanned the area in front of them.

There isn't enough time to wait on him. Javier thought as he watched the injured Crewman. "Perhaps I should go ahead," he suggested to T'Shaini, "I can move quicker and get to the Orb then wait for you both to arrive."

A frown creased the counselor's forehead at the impatience in his tone. "I think it more advantageous for us to remain together. If they are already there, then you may be risking more than is wise by encountering them alone, and if we are split up who knows what we may run into, divided we are far weaker than is advisable."

"You're right," Javier immediately acquiesced. What was I thinking? You don't leave a man behind. And you certainly don't split up the team with hostiles in the vicinity, especially if one team member is wounded. the engineer mentally chastised himself. "Del, you lead us, we'll go at your pace." The husky engineer nodded and set off towards the area indicated on his tricorder as the orb's location. "I don't know what I was thinking.." Javier confessed to T'Shaini before following Mills.

I do not know either. As worried as she was about Nils, leaving Delano behind was never an option that had occurred to her. And despite his recent injury (or perhaps because of it) the young engineer led them with surety toward the source of the tricorder disturbance. Within minutes they were emerging into the now drained tunnel where they had left Harry…just around the bend was the Orb, she could feel its energy even before it was within sight. It must be either more exposed, or growing in intensity, I did not notice this before. With a prayer that they would not find the body of their abandoned XO, the Vulcan rounded the corner and shielded her eyes. No Harry, thank the gods.

There was a sense of urgency in his movement as Javier pushed past Delano Mills and entered an area bathed in energy. He paused in front of the glowing rocks which concealed the orb's casket. More debris had fallen from the chamber's ceiling, covering the ark and creating a barrier between the team and the force field that shielded the orb. The engineer stretched out his hand to touch the rock. He didn't even think about the movement, just acted before he knew what he had done.

"Chief! No! It's not safe.." Del blurted before he grabbed Javier's arm and shoved it away from the glowing energy source. Before his tricorder had completely failed Del had taken readings and discovered that the orb was not only sapping energy but its surroundings, it was also emitting a burst of subatomic particles at regular intervals.

Javier jerked his arm away from Mills and glared at the younger man. The lieutenant's fists clenched but before he could speak the sound of footsteps running towards them came from the passageway that led to the orb chamber. "Hide!" Javier hissed at the other two, motioning them to the far side of the chamber, so they wouldn't be immediately seen by the new arrival. Javier hid himself by the entrance and as the footsteps got closer, at the last moment he stuck his leg out to trip the runner.

JP with Tee and Del (who cried in the cave).
Originally Posted 9/6/08 by Javier Costala

Nearing the Azuchi Hentuu

Frey felt sullen as the darkened sky as they approached her yassryn's lands. Though the Kitiran Hentari, Amma, had heard her dreams with respect, she had still insisted that the girl accompany her juvayni south, back to the very place from which she'd run.

A morayni now, as the juvaal they had been riding so quickly across the lands had shared Frey's displeasure. The closer they came to the cliffs, the more skittish and prone to start they had become. Eventually, Vaal's mount had had enough and simply locked its legs… throwing the rider head over hump. Fortunately the hunter's skull was hard (as his brother, Vess, said) but his arm was less so. Even with J'lian's apt skills at splinting, Vaal could not continue and the juvaal would not. Amma ordered both he and Vess to return to the Kitiran lands with the mounts, leaving herself and Laearta to continue the quest. Frey, however, considered the injury a sign of ill will by the spirits towards their venture and said so but…

"Another dreamer has also seen," the old woman had explained, "and seeks to cut off the blackness at its source but we must not wait for others to do what we fear to do for ourselves." Her black eyes, wearing the tread of many migrations, held onto Frey's, "Do you understand?"

And she did, truly she did but… watching the frantic bursts of lightning, smelling the violently charged wind and feeling her skin shudder at the touch of the unnatural rain, Frey was having trouble holding to the resolve which so clearly drove the Kitirans. She jumped beneath the sudden weight of a hand on her shoulder and looked up to see El'san's lean features. He said nothing but only pointed to their left, where the land quite suddenly ceased. They had come far… Laerta, the hunt master, knew the lay of her keshii and more, she knew how to get speed out of the nervous juvaal so that by the time the party had taken to foot, they were near to their supposed destination.

Near, also, to signs of recent destruction. If the gouges in the turf before them were any sign, the great spirals of wind and water that danced madly across the Ahmadiyya had come to pace their measure over the land, as well.

"We could use some cover, about now!" J’lian was shouting as she looked toward the ocean and the waterspouts, one of which was closing in on their current location.

Ellison was already looking… there were some humps and dells in the area, nothing deep enough to… wait a minute, "What about that?" He pointed and Frey came alongside him… brushing against his arm as she did and he sighed, so not the time to deal with teenage hormones, it was the kind of thing Fehr would get a kick out of… so probably it was a good thing that Fehr wasn't around.

"Ah," she nodded, "forgive me, I did not recognize this place earlier… the stand of pria trees is gone but…"

"But?" he prompted, as the ginormous twister was closing in.

"There is a ravine.. deeper than it looks from here, and within… and entrance to the cav…"

"That's it!" Kyle looked at the other three and nodded to Jillian, "we have cover, let's move… now!"

No one argued. Not even the Hentari who understood what the caves meant or the girl who feared so much what was in these particular caves. Laerta kept a hand on her zuut but other than that, the party made speed for the hidden ravine and its promise of relative safety.

Minutes later, dropping into the dark, into El'san's arms, Frey thought that, maybe, there were some things worth the risk.

Post featuring Jillian's essence and NPC's Kyle Ellison and locals Frey, Amma and Laerta
Originally Posted 9/7/08 by Harry Finn

:: Girijan ::
:: The Cliffs of Insanity ::

Nils didn’t waste time wondering why Kona’s weapon didn’t fire. It didn’t matter. He processed the situation at the speed of thought and surged forward Newton’s first law of motion coupled with the Beradi mercenary’s surprise might give him an advantage he desperately needed. In a one on one fight, the Bajoran was dead.

Their bodies tangled and fell to the cavern floor. Kamaal yelled something incoherent. Nils’ skin sizzled against Kona’s armor shielding and the flash of a blade caught his eye as they tumbled. His tactics changed instantly. Avoidance and motion became paramount. His attempts were an exercise in futility however, because he felt cold Beradi steel rip through the flesh in his upper arm. The adrenaline rush that followed gave him clarity, and he thrust both legs toward his opponent driving his own body away and the Kona’s head into a jagged outcropping.

Scrambling up off the floor, Nils tore off through the cavern’s dark corridors hoping to avoid any injury as he ran. With his legs carrying him as fast as he could work them, the CO sprinted blindly through the maze of winding caves. The sound of heavy footfalls behind him revealed that Kona had not been too injured to follow. And that fact spurred Nils on.

A faint glow down a side tunnel drew the young CO’s attention. Thinking he had found another exit he pressed on, trying to ignore his pursuer. As he rounded a bend, however, he realized that he’d not found an exit, but a box that emanated an otherworldly glow. It was the Ark of the Orb…

But before he had time to fully recognize where he was, his leg connected with something that jutted out in front of him and he fell forward and rolled heels over head. The sound of Kona closing in behind him echoed through the cavern…

Originally Posted 9/8/08 by Torrik Nils

Unhelpful Tears

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