The final part of this mission features the following NPCs:

~ Earlier ~

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Bridge ::

=^=Costala to Bridge, we've rerouted non-essential power to the shields and phaser banks. Far be it from me to complain about being rattled around like a pair of dice but maybe we could go on the offensive now?=^=

“Indeed,” said Nils under his breath. He assumed the question was rhetorical and didn’t respond. “Get us away from Girijan,” the CO called to the helm. “I doubt they can see a firefight with the naked eye, but the last thing we need to do is leave evidence of our presence in orbit… They’ll be looking up here one day.” Or worse… Send a flaming heap of wrecked ship down into their atmosphere…

“Aye, sir,” Warof returned curtly.

The ship shuddered beneath them as another volley of alien weaponry danced across their hull. “Return fire! Full torpedo spread… And keep hailing them,” he added to Ops. The mercenary ship had not responded to communications up to this point.

The deck plating vibrated violently and Nils struggled a bit to stay on his feet. He heard the telltale warbles of damage indications playing across multiple displays.


“Minimal damage… There is a jam in the aft starboard torpedo bay. Sending a team,” T’Preen replied.

“Status on the shields…” The young Bajoran Captain felt ill at ease, but found himself slipping into a zone of concentration. There were multiple problems vying for his attention, but he forced them out of his consciousness. Instead of focusing on problems, he spent his mental energies on creating solutions.

“Sir, I’ve got more unusual readings… The focal point for the energies we’ve been bleeding off has begun altering subspace on a fundamental level,” O’Keefe began, with a look of concern on her face. “I’m reading a cascade reaction occurring that… Honestly, I can’t even begin to decipher this stuff. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

A problem for later… “Cut power to the tractor emitter and move us away from the reaction. Tenanji, get those shields up. And helm, take us to the edge of the system, full impulse.” Nils drew in a long slow breath and forced out his tense lips.

Next to him Finn skimmed the incoming reports on the Hawking’s status, apparently hesitant to interrupt his captain’s flow.

“And have Stryfe start drawing the other Beradi ship to the edge of the system,” said Nils over his shoulder. “And keep an eye on him. At the first sign that the aeroshuttle is taking real damage call him back.” The Intrepid Class starship shook one more time. This time one of the mission ops screens blew a relay and a minor explosion burst from its circuitry. “We need those shields,” the Bajoran called out to anyone who could do something about it.

“The solar fluctuations are playing havoc with the generators. A little more distance and they should cycle up fine,” O’Keefe interjected.

“If I could speak to you privately for a moment,” a sickeningly calm voice said suddenly at Nils’ ear.

“Vail, I’m somewhat preoccupied at the moment,” The CO answered curtly.

Callan eyed Finn warily and repeated his request. “It might be important.”

“It might be?” The Bajoran’s tone was incredulous. “Well, I’ve got an array of things going on at present that I know are important so forgive me if I don’t indulge you right away…”

Vail nodded, and backed away retaking his spot at another mission specific console.

Nils stepped back to the XO and got close to him. “Harry, I assume you’ve kept a close eye on these mercs for the past several hours. How do we measure up in a two on one brawl?”

Harry, who’d been aware of Vail’s interest, shrugged it off, “Make ‘em fight each other,” he suggested and, at Torrik’s immediately furrowed brow held up a hand, “First blush, sounds stupid but given the way the now-deceased prisoners behaved before they became deceased, I’m betting these guys are way more in touch with their ids than their egos right now.”

“And how do you suggest we use that id instinct against them?” Nils asked seriously. “If they’re fighting us…” His voice trailed off and he waited for an explanation.

“What I’m saying is, if each of them thinks the other has what they want, there’s a chance they’ll go after it.” He nodded towards Tenanji, “You say they fell for a bluff once before so let’s try sending out a com to indicate that the Atar’a’kor has taken possession of the artifact and see where that leads us.”

A twinkle played across the Bajoran’s eye and he smiled ever so slightly. “Nice…” He nodded and turned back to the rest of the bridge. Though he suddenly became aware of Counselor T’Shaini’s presence, he put a greeting off for the time being and moved closer to T’Preen. The counselor seemed intent on speaking with Harry at the moment anyway.

“T’Preen I have a job for you…” the Captain began before laying out the rest of the First Officer’s plan.

With an appearance by XO Harry Finn
Originally Posted 9/22/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

He'd just recovered from the shock of seeing her on the bridge when T'Shaini walked over to him and grasped his hand in both of hers.

“I am relieved that you are whole and well. Is there anything I can do?”

There was a moment of uncertainty as all of Finn's habitual responses tripped over her cool touch. “At the moment,” he recovered, leading her towards the XO’s chair and motioning her to sit while the combination of Warof’s evasive maneuvers and a glancing blow from an enemy disruptor on their fluctuating shields max'd out the inertial dampeners and set everyone to rocking, “you can play wait and see with the rest of us… with luck I've just come up with a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.”

Am I supposed to understand that phrase? T'Shaini lifted one eyebrow at the incomprehensible image.

At her look, Harry sighed, "Hold that thought," Then he leaned over the status display next to where she was now seated, "Finn: Sigma-Epsilon-Seven-Seven-Zero-Niner," he said aloud, using the First Officer's access code to unlock the screen, “It'd be a help if you kept an eye on the secondary EPS relays,” he told her, tapping into the appropriate systems' diagnostics, “The trunk took some damage a few minutes back and T’Preen is swamped and…” he paused, considering, then leaned in closer, “there's one more thing…"

T'Shaini was mid scan of the data flowing before her when the edge in his voice stopped her.

"You could also maybe keep an eye on me… I mean…" Harry ran a weary hand over his face, "shit…"

"Harry, if there is something I can do to help it will be easier for me to do so if you give me some inkling of what is wrong…" The counselor hoped her light tone would ease him enough for the aforesaid information to be expressed.

One hand gestured vaguely towards his right temple, “I don’t know how but I got concussed somewhere between the Orb and the Hawking and Dr. Ayre warned that there might be some memory gaps but that's…" he lowered his voice as T'Preen began to transmit the false message, "That's not how I feel. It's more that I feel… kind of like a book that's had a bunch of pages ripped out and then put back in the wrong order and now every decision feels like it's coming out of nowhere so I start second-guessing myself and…" Harry glanced up, saw Vail's eyes resting on him and looked back to T'Shaini, "I'd feel better if someone who knew me fairly well were watching so if I do start to screw the pooch, you can let me know," he finished flatly.

Another affect of the orb? She still had not heard the full explanation of what had happened to Javier, who knows what else may have been altered by close proximity to such an intense exposure. T'Shaini nodded her acceptance of the responsibility, but before she could formulate an appropriate response there was an interruption.

"Sir," T'Preen's voice stilled their conversation, "the Beradi are broadcasting a response to the com…"

Nils nodded shortly, "Let's hear it."

The Ops officer's fingers flew across her controls. =/\=The unworthy lies of the Federation will no longer be tolerated. We shall collect the blood of our enemies even as we claim the Eye from the Hawking's burning husk…=/\=

Nils made a cutting motion and the rest of the foretelling of their imminent doom went unheard. "They think we have the Orb," he told Harry, his expression dark.

"And the second vessel is changing course… it looks as if they intend cut off our departure from the system," Tenanji added.

"So this would be far more 'screwing the pooch' than pinning the tail on the wombat…weasel." T'Shaini murmured to Harry under her breath.

At Tenanji's proclamation, Nils' expression had gone darker still, "We'll just have to outrun…"

"Sir, impulse engines are losing strength…" Warof broke in, "we're now slowing to 1/2 impulse."

"It's because of the cascade effect from the massing protonic energies we siphoned off of Girijan," O'Keefe said, not bothering to look up from her readings. "They're having the same scattershot effect on the Hawking as they did on the away teams' tech…"

Nils spun back to the con, "Maintain course, I don't care if someone has to get out and push…"

"There's more," O'Keefe interrupted her captain.

"Of course there is," Rasoul muttered from the Engineering station.

Jada ignored him, "The proliferation of ionic protons hasn't ceased with their removal from the planet's atmosphere. In fact, it seems that the graviton emissions of our tractor beam may have… excited them further and the state of protonic flux is such that…"

"Cut to the chase, Lieutenant," it was Finn, surprisingly, who drove a verbal wedge into the scientist's dire recitation.

Jada's eyes hardened to agate but she did as she was ordered, "There's a subspace rift opening approximately 9300 kilometers off our port."

Harry's expression didn't change… his only response to the news was a sudden clenching of his left fist as he turned to face the viewscreen which now displayed, in the halo of the sun's bloody glare, what looked to be a coruscating rent in the fabric of space and was certainly the culmination of every decision he'd made since walking onto the bridge. “Captain,” he said, deeply aware of the eyes upon him… in particular T'Shaini's, “this is fairly ill-timed, I know but," he let out a sort of desperate breath, "request permission to stand down as first officer.”

JP with the lovely T'Shaini and the spiritual inspiration of Nils
Originally Posted 9/23/08 by Harry Finn

-USS Hawking-
-Main Engineering-

"The core is becoming less stable," Tehamia called out as another blow to the Hawking's shields reverberated through the deck and cause Javier to perform a side-step to keep from falling over.

"Stabilize it," Javier replied as he looked over the engineer's shoulder at her console.

"I can't, there isn't enough power in the injectors to balance the flow of matter and anti-matter.." Tehamia replied, her tone full of intensity.

"Kowalski? What's the problem?" the Chief Engineer asked the systems tech, who stood near the main engineering console tapping at the controls while constantly checking the readouts another monitor displayed.

"We're losing power, steadily, it's being drained from the ship's.." before Kal-El could go further Mustapha was yelling out that they had fallen to half impulse. "IT'S being drained from the ship by the polaric chain reaction we started on Girijan," Kowalsi answered in a loud, huffy voice. "It's also wreaking havoc on the systems, the energy is siphoning off so quickly that the relay's are overloading." As if to add sincerity to his statement, the warp core console chose to blow out at that moment. Ensign Tehamia was caught in mid-sequence and felt electricity claw its way up her body before she was flung backwards into Chief Costala's arms by the jolt.

Javier caught the woman and let her down to the deck before his hand went to check her pulse. Nothing..oh shit. Forgoing the use of his commbadge to call sickbay, he began to administer CPR while shouting out orders. "Kowalski find a way to get that power back up," the Chief Engineer said before leaning over to breath into Tehamia's mouth. "Oakley institute that backup relay system you've been working on and get the main warp console working again," Javier instructed once he came up for a breath so he could try and jump-start the ensign's heart. At the third push he knelt down to breathe into the officer's mouth once more. I seem to be giving CPR a lot these days. Javier concluded as his thoughts went back to the end of his Dosi trials.

This time when Javier came up he found himself looking at Sialuk, the young Dosi woman that he had had to resuscitate at the end of his trials. For a second he faltered then continued with the resuscitation technique wondering if he was going crazy. Sialuk coughed and then took a deep breath as her eyes fluttered open. The Dosi groaned in obvious pain.

"Hello Time-Keeper, what are you doing on the Hawking?" Javier asked gently, fearing that he had just gone a little crazy.

"Chief?" Tehamia's voice came from Sialuk's mouth. And even as Javier gaped at Sialuk she morphed into the blonde haired, blue eyed warp core officer. What did that pah-wraith do to me? "You're not you," the chief engineer said, the chaos around them forgotten for the moment.

"I'm an empathic metamorph Chief," Tehamia reminded him as she flexed her arm and winced at the pain the movement caused, "I can be whomever you want to see..if contact is initiated between us."

"Oh." Javier felt like he had acted..inappropriately. ""

"Chief, I found a way to decrease the power that's being siphoned from the ship." Javier had never been fond of Kowalski's bragging but at that moment he was glad the man had taken the time to pat himself on the back..once more. "If we..oh hell."

"What is it?"

"There's a portal opening inbetween us and the planet."

"A portal? What sort of.." Another hit from the Beradi knocked out some relays, sent a shower of sparks up from the Master Systems Display and plunged Main Engineering into utter darkness. Only the lights on the functioning consoles and the bluish light from the warp core lit the area.

"This is not good.." Javier heard Kowalski say.

No shit Sherlock.

Originally Posted 9/23/08 by Javier Costala

:: Aerowing Shuttle ::.

Vince glanced down at the console, checking to make sure that he was still going to pop up right infront of the second merc vessel, and noticed that they had changed their course. Now he would come out of warp right behind them, and hopfully be able to knock out their engines, or atleast deter their advance. He glanced around the inside of the shuttle, making sure everyone was in their place, ready when he gave the word.

" Drummond, you ready to fire the torpedos when I give the word," Vince looked back at the man settled into the tactical seat.

" Well, we only have two onboard, and I'm sure their shields will take the blasts." The man looked up at the pilot.

Vince smiled," Well, I know you're security and all, but it's just standard thought that you don't need shields until you're within another ships firing range, so hopefully we can surprise em'."

" So basically we're taking a shot in the dark chance that we come out of warp, shoot this ship, and cripple them ever so slightly at the least?" Jameson added from the ops station.

" Well, pretty much, ain't it exciting?" Vince smiled again as he looked back at the console.

" You have been called stupid from time to time, and I think this may be one of those stupid moments. Why don't we just come out of warp just out of their firing range, lure them away?" Ellison looked over at the pilot from the co-pilot seat.

Jameson leaned up between the two," Yea that sounds like a good idea to me, then we'll be able to run if need be."

Vince looked up at Drummond, who was nodding his approval with the other two, but Gran wasn't saying anything," So Gran, what do you think we should do?"

" Vince you know as well as I do that they're fixed on the Hawking. Seeing us will only cause a memory note to deal with us later, after they take out the Hawking. So I'm with whatever you want to do Lt." Gran looked at the other three," He does out rank all of us, and we're on our own right now, so he's our CO, so it looks like we have no choice."

Vince's smile became a smirk," That's right guys, I'm a higher rank, so get ready, we…."

Vince cut himself short as they dropped out of warp," FIRE the Torpedos!!!" Vince yelled out as Drummond launched the two torpedos. They flew through space, slicing their way to their target, with all of the men on the shuttle watching, hoping that they hit.

Their hopes were granted as they watched the two torpedos crash into the merc vessel's main, and one of it's support engines, slowing it to a crawl. Vince laughed as he realized that his plan had actually worked, and now they were sitting in the blindside of a crippled ship. He looked at the others, who seemed like they were a little out of it, thinking they'd be breathing cold air, but relieved not to be. Vince smiled as he hit the comm.

" Hawking, this is Stryfe, We've crippled this other merc vessel, but if we move from where we are we'll be shot, so we'll just hangout here and watch them for a bit." Vince leaned back in the seat, awaiting the return comm from the Hawking.

Originally Posted 9/24/08 by Vince Stryfe

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Bridge ::

Jada's eyes hardened to agate but she did as she was ordered, "There's a subspace rift opening approximately 9300 kilometers off our port."

Harry's expression didn't change… his only response to the news was a sudden clenching of his left fist as he turned to face the viewscreen which now displayed, in the halo of the sun's bloody glare, what looked to be a coruscating rent in the fabric of space and was certainly the culmination of every decision he'd made since walking onto the bridge. “Captain,” he said, deeply aware of the eyes upon him… in particular T'Shaini's, “this is fairly ill-timed, I know but," he let out a sort of desperate breath, "request permission to stand down as first officer.”

“What?” Nils didn’t quite believe what he was hearing. Their situation had gone from bad, to worse, to borderline unmanageable and Harry wanted to be relieved?

“Sir, power levels are fluctuating all over the ship,” T’Preen said over the din. "EPS conduits are blown on decks four and five."

“Have Javier send a team,” the CO responded impatiently. “Harry what do you mean you…”

“Stryfe has disabled the second mercenary ship, Captain,” O’Keefe interjected calmly. “I’m reading system failures on multiple decks, but their energy net is resetting as we speak.”

“Still having problems raising shields, sir,” came Tenanji’s terse update. “I’m reading the generator’s online, but they are not responding.”

Nils sighed. “Warof, move us into range of the second Beradi ship at full impulse. Then keep us moving around that ship. I want the disabled ship between our attacker and us at all times… That should buy us some time,” he added under his breath.

“Aye, sir,” Warof responded as he quickly began inputting his latest orders.

Nils spun on his heal and took a step towards Harry, who still stood next to T'Shaini. His voice was hushed but intense. "What is this all about?"

"Sir," equally quiet Harry responded quickly, "this mess is my responsibility," he jerked his chin towards the pulsating rift dominating the viewscreen, "it was my decision to siphon off those emissions and now look where we are…"

"And we would have been better off if you had not?" T'Shaini stepped in automatically. "I much prefer where we are to the prospect of an untouched culture being decimated because we have done nothing."

"Look…" Nils took a breath and tried to calm himself. Aside from this being his very first time in command of a starship in combat (his failure at Javi's Battleship notwithstanding), he also felt completely blindsided by a statement so completely out of character for the Executive Officer. "This is not the time to second guess any our decisions. Let's get through this and debrief another time." He felt sincerely stressed out.

Finn huffed out a breath and sent a long look to T'Shaini, then he turned and joined Tenanji at Tactical, "Fine. I've got one more and if it goes to shit f**k then you can take my advice and kick me off the bridge," he started checking systems, "I say we shut everything down, go silent running. The proton's banging is messing with our systems so it has to be messing with theirs…"

A frown creased T'Shaini's forehead. First the possibly imagined look, then the offer to step down…something was off. If Harry Finn was not insisting that he 'do the job' there was something far more unsettling in the system than one Beradi mercenary ship.

"Protons? Oh the polaric…right… That's a helluva gamble, isn't it?" The young Captain made note of T'Shaini's expression. Clearly he wasn't the only one concerned with these unfolding events. "What do we win if we go silent? Are we resting in the hope that their sensors will lose us in the particulate mess spewing out of that portal?"

"In part," it was O'Keefe who picked up the debate, "but also, sir, the more we try to boost any of our systems, the more awry they go… if we shut down, there's a chance…"

"… the Beradi will attempt to take us out and in so doing," Tenanji added…

"… screw their own pooch," Finn concluded.

Theoretically it made sense to Nils. But the problem with theories lay in their lack of having been proved. Gamble it is then… "Do it," he cast Harry's way, before stepping closer to the counselor.

With a short nod, Harry slid between Usher and his console… while T'Preen and Rasoul sent orders and began, in essence, putting Hawking to sleep, Harry's right hand tapped out a quick code while the order to stand down went to auxiliary and the torpedo bay.

"His injuries?" Nils asked quietly keeping his back towards the occupied First Officer. "I understand he came back from Girijan pretty banged up, but I can't have an XO willing to bail in the middle of a firefight." He took a long breath and glanced over his shoulder. "Any insight?"

The counselor shook her head worriedly. "I can say that there is something not quite right, but nothing I can put my finger on. He does not seem to be reacting to situations in accordance with his previous habituated routines."

"Agreed," nodded the CO. "Is there any reason he should not be on duty?" He felt that a direct, cut and dry evaluation from the ship's counselor would ease this present concern so that he could move on to the next.

"I see no signs of instability that would interfere with his performance…" While true, T'Shaini did not believe that it encompassed the entire story.

Again he nodded then moved away intent to update himself on their progress. "Report."

"Everything's in place," T'Preen said eagerly. "All stations report ready for shut down."

"Warof has us strategically placed, using the downed ship as cover," Tenanji said scanning his console. "When we cut power we'll drift, however. We'll know rather quickly if…"

"Right…" Nils didn't need to hear the end of the sentence. If it worked they lived. If it failed… "Bridge to Engineering… Shut down the Hawking."

The Intrepid class ship darkened from stem to stern and listed to he side. The running lights faded and the engines went cold and pale. Within moments of cutting power, the ship drifted dead in space.

A joint effort with Harry and T'Shaini. Joint as in joined… Not marijuana.
Originally Posted 9/25/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking

The only luminescence came from a few panels indicating that life support was functioning and a smattering of battery-operated light sources… the viewscreen was active because they couldn’t afford to be utterly blind but beyond that, the Hawking was as a dead thing; adrift at the stern of an enemy vessel and, as the minutes slouched roughly past, she waited for the moment of her demise to be born.

Lt. Commander Callan Vail had held his position and his opinion as the bridge went into hibernation but the fact was that, in the one hundred plus years he’d served the ‘Fleet, this had to be the most idiotic plan Vail had ever… no, wait, there was that time on Cestus III… well then, this was the second most idiotic… ahh but then there’d been that incident with the USS Cadmus and the sirens… which made this the third most idiotic… “Sod it, Callan, call it an idiotic plan and be done with it,” he muttered to himself, eyeballing the source of the idiocy, who was only just visible in the dimness and then his eyes slid away from Finn and towards the youthful captain of the Hawking who was, as he’d feared, quite unseasoned. Well, you’d have to be a rank amateur to think for a moment that Harry’s idea had any kind of…

“There’s something happening,” Lt. O’Keefe’s voice was just above a whisper, an automatic response to the darkness.

“The Beradi?” Torrik’s eyes parsed the viewscreen, seeking information.

“No. Well, yes but beyond… look.” Everyone on the bridge followed the science officer’s gesture as she strode towards the screen and pointed out the rift, which was…

“It’s stabilizing,” the Captain’s voice was disgusted. A stable rift meant the Beradi’s systems would be functioning normally and that meant…

“The Atar’a’kor is coming round the other ship,” Tenanji added as, in the foreground, the battered merc vessel rose, outlined by the suddenly searing light of the portal. Next to Usher, Harry remained still, though the security officer could feel the tension rippling from the XO’s frame.

“Bring us back online,” Nils ordered.

“There is not enough time,” T’Preen replied, though forwarding the order to Engineering.

That settled it, Callan thought to himself, this was, hands down, the most idiotic plan…

“Atar’a’kor has us in her sights,” Tenanji announced with commendable calm, eyeballing the angle of the enemy disruptors.

But before the fatal fire could rain down upon them, a new element… conceived of the massing energies first seen as a storm on Girijan, then brought to maturation in the light of the Omiron system’s maddened star, sprang to full and effervescent life. Behind the ominous rising of the Atar’a’kor a vortex opened and with no fanfare whatsoever spat out…

“By the Prophets…” Nils whispered and around the bridge a series of similarly reverent vocalizations sounded as the Atar’a’kor and then her sister ship both erupted in sudden, silent destruction beneath the fully operational phasers of…

“Is that truly…?” T’Shaini voiced what everyone was certainly thinking.

“Us,” Harry answered the incomplete question, stepping towards the center of the bridge to better view. “That’s…”

“… the Hawking,” Nils concluded, staring at the most unlikely rescue of all.

Brig - Deck 15

Torrik Nils entered the brig and made straight for the center cell. “I thought you should know,” he addressed the lone inhabitant, who was currently leaning against the rear wall, eyes focused balefully on the Bajoran visitor, “that the mission was a success. The Hawking has crossed over.

“We’ve brought you home, Lieutenant Finn.”

Cliffhanger featuring T'Shaini, Nils and Harry… and Nils and Harry and Callan Vail
Originally Posted 9/26/08 by Harry Finn


As Nils Called Down the Light

As she huddled close with Sallin and the Kitirans in a mixture of fear and grief for their lost companions a sudden sound, lingering and… yes, blinding in its enormity… and unlike anything Frey had experienced outside of her dreams ripped through the troubled atmosphere above their hiding place. For all her terror that the dreadful splintering sound was the sky cracking all to pieces, her body flew to the ravine’s opening and out into the storm to end all storms and there she saw that she had dreamt true and that someone had, indeed, brought the light to the plains. Who she could not say but in her heart, the young woman felt it must have been the spirits of the dead Ekkurans, gathering together all the stray lightning as they would a scattered herd of zaar and in so doing, emptied the sky of the storm’s deadly stampede.

“How is this?” Sallin asked from behind her, having raced after his impetuous clanswoman. Two more shadows joined them, Amma and Laerta as witness for the Kitiran.

“I know not,” Amma, the eldest present replied as the four climbed further up to see, over the eastern cliffs, something quite… magical. She did not know if the time long foretold in the Nevlim had come to pass but, of a certainty, this day had seen great strife and now, from the depths of the deepest Hentuu there rose a column of… of luminescence. It was the heat mirage seen over the plateaus of a summer’s day but magnified by the tens and rising up and up and up through the scudding clouds, themselves tinged red as with the setting of the sun, though sunset was still some time off.

“Perhaps T’Shaini did succeed,” Laerta offered as Sallin uttered another silent chant for brave Kerrin and all her shadow walkers and Frey sent up her own small hope that El’san had found his wife waiting for him at the last.

Many migrations after that extraordinary day, Sallin, husband to Frey, perched on the telling stone in the midst of the combined Azuchi and Kitiran yassryni to tell the tale of the wild dark and the Ekkurans who’s spirits had sliced through that darkness as they made their way home. Looking out over the horde of small ones, he caught his wife’s eyes and then the both of them took time to pick out the tousled heads of little Kerrin and her bond-brother El’san… next to Laerta’s Delan, of course and all three were clearly planning some great adventure during the feasting (T’Shaini, at nine, had no time for such childly games… unless there was sure to be a zuut involved).

Taking a deep breath the Hentari began to speak, “We gather now to remember the time of the dark, ten migrations past, and the courage of the Ekkurans who came from so far to find their final path… and in that finding end the destruction that was breeding in the depths of the Hentuu…

At the sound of their bond-father’s voice, El’san and Kerrin stilled and their eyes went wide to hear the story they had heard so many times before. Seeing it, Sallin’s heart grew large and his voice deepened with emotion. While it was true that all of the Azuchi were his children, these… oh, these…

Many thanks to T'Shaini, for creating the Devanagari
Originally Posted 9/26/08 by Harry Finn

Unhelpful Tears

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