This portion of the story features the following NPC's
Kal-El Kowalski and Delano Mills
Security Officers:
Kyle Ellison, Hamish Drummond and Esperanza Fuentes
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Approaching the Omeron System

USS Hawking
XO's Office

"No, we cannot just make up a tribe to be affiliated with. The history is far too intertwined for there to be a group that no one is familiar with. We can choose to either be a group or several groups of outcasts from a far flung tribe, or pick the furtherest out and be a scouting, hunting or for lack of a better term diplomatic envoys." Kerrin's face scrunched up. "Not that they really exist as such, but so many things are shifting that we might be able to pass it off."

Harry, who had made straight for the replicator as the two entered his office held up a finger, "Coffee, hot… stupidly strong," he looked towards the avid archeologist of his dreams (and only his dreams, lately, dammit), "and another, hot, with cream." As his one approved addiction appeared and the two took the first, calming gulp, "Right, so… we don't have accurate telemetry from the surface as yet… no way of knowing where Kamaal has landed… or if she has…" he started to walk the room, which was much more pace-worthy than the old Security office, "but once we have that… what's more believable.. one medium sized group with no kids or a couple small scouting parties?"

Wrapping her hands around the mug, Kerrin pursed her lips in thought. "Well one big group might be a mess…but I think a bunch of little groups all just happening to show up at the same time screams 'bullshit'." She took another sip. "Maybe two groups? One larger that is a scouting party, then a smaller…carefully constructed group that are the outcasts. They will have latitude that the scouting party will not, outcasts are not invisible, just no longer worthy of sharing in the bounty of the tribe. And if we make them seem to be looking for alliance on their own…"

"They can actively scour the steppes for the mysterious Kamaal Bedie and her troupe of merry mercenaries… got it." Harry drained his mug and put it down on the first available surface, which was a PADD on top of the sofa's end table. "I'll take the lead on the smaller group," no need to point out to Kerrin that he had a certain amount of experience in covert operations. "That should include an engineer, in case the tech goes south and, if I can just get Wendy and her bow, I'll finally get to play Robin Hood." He didn't get the laugh he'd been hoping for, on that.

He made another circuit around the desk before stopping to face the scientist, "I'll need an archeologist, too… I think I should take Hallows… he knows his way around a sword and can be on the lookout for whatever holy grail this woman is after…" and it's pretty damned clear you don't want to spend too much time around me.

"Sounds like a plan." Is it wrong that I am happy at the prospect of being away from both Harry and Jason for a bit? "Err, are we allowed to make this plan?"

"It's part of my job description," he replied, pretty calmly, considering… well, considering. "Listen… we haven't had much time for anything but this mis…."

"And what is this I hear about sneaking a phaser down?" Kerrin folded her arms across her chest. "We can hide, and I can see hiding a commlink for emergencies, but a phaser?"

"Actually," he crossed his arms right back, "two phasers, now… one for each party." Who squealed? Hamish… had to be… Fuentes was still too new and Fehr never gave away anything unless it led to a drink or a… ahem, and Ellison… well he just didn't talk.

Kerrin threw her hands up into the air. "Ahh! What for? These people have no tech to speak of and if someone gets 'trigger happy' it will blow everything." She knew it was an irrational dislike of the weapons that made her react so violently, but she couldn't help it.

"For one thing," he said, remaining quite still, "We are not the only visitors to this bucolic little planet and I guarantee that, whomever Kamaal has working for her does not possess the same delicate scruples that we do on the matter of contaminating a young culture. And second," he continued, moving closer to the livid woman, "there will be no 'trigger happy' individual's carrying… I'm not 'trigger happy,'" he asserted but then, did she really know that? She knew he could kill, she'd seen him do it… shit… moving on, "And three, this is not a decision that you get to have any say on… not when it comes to the safety of our people."

"Great, just great." Was it too late to run and hide? I am getting a bad feeling about this. "What next?"

"On the mission?" he was only half a meter away from her, and it felt like lightyears, "Nothing." They had to clear their plan with Nils, of course, and everyone on the teams had to go to sickbay for their makeovers but, as far as this meeting went… "So," he said, finally asking what was on his mind, "are we done?" And before she could answer, "I mean, us," he wanted to reach out but didn't… "are we… done?"

Kerrin froze and she could feel all the color drain from her face. "Jesus Christ." Backing away from him she rubbed her hands over her face. "What do you want me to say? The truth?" Of course he did. "I don't know, its all mixed up inside. No one, no one has ever effected me like you do. But is that enough?"

"I don't know," he watched her moving away, and couldn't stop himself from following, "I don't… I guess I just… I thought after everything that happened on Kendrassa…" but no, she didn't know everything that had happened. And she wouldn't, either. "I suppose it would be good to know if I should be trying or," he was close enough now and she'd stopped running, "or not." And leaning down, carefully keeping his hands at his sides, he gave in to the desire which had been dogging him for the better part of three weeks and kissed her.

Oh god, she had missed this, Kerrin all but fell into him as her hands reached for his shoulders. Lost in the kiss, lost in him once again. Shit. Breaking away, she stumbled back as tears sprung to her eyes. "Too easy, it is too easy for you to do that to me." She wasn't sure whether he started for her or not but she held up her hand just in case. "I need to think." Kerrin watched something not quite identifiable flash across his face. "And I can't think when you are here, and no…it isn't Jason either, no matter what you think." She continued backing toward the door. "It never was Jason, but…I am afraid." There, she said it. "Afraid of what I saw and afraid that I have no idea who you really are. And please, I know it isn't fair, but I need time. Time to think." Bumping back against the doorway she signaled it to open, then threw on last little. "Sorry, so sorry." over her shoulder before letting it slide closed.

"That's my line," he said to the echo of the word 'sorry' she'd left hovering behind.

JP with Tee, as Dr. Kerrin Schaeffer
Originally Posted 8/5/08 by Harry Finn

:: Edge of the Omeron System ::

A starburst of white light split dark space in two as the USS Hawking emerged from warp. She rolled lazily on her side and resumed a much slower forward momentum. Passing the outer orbit of the furthest planet from the sun, the Intrepid class ship began a painstakingly slow eliptical approach of the fourth planet in the system - Omeron 341.

“Taking us in at three quarters impulse, sir,” Ven announced from the helm. “Keeping the moon primary moon between us and the mercenary ship.” The Andorian seemed to be taking the transfer from Astrometrics very well. An image of the moon in question popped up on the screen.


“Any indication that the mercenaries can detect us,” Nils asked, his eyes on the main screen.

“None,” O’keefe answered sharply, fully aware that the question was meant for her. “There is no guarantee that they won’t notice our approach, but the data I pulled on Beradis ship technology gives us good odds.”

The Girijin moon slowly grew on the viewscreen as they drew closer. “How long until we are in transporter range of the planet?” The goal of having all of the teams ready for insertion upon arrival looked attainable.

“Five hours and twenty seven minutes at present speed,” Ven answered eagerly.

“I think that should be plenty of time to finish Doctor Munro’s procedures…” Vail sat in the first officer’s seat next to Nils - a fact that the Bajoran deeply regretted.

“Mmm,” the CO responded half-heartedly. In an effort to preserve the peace Nils had ignored the man’s presence on the ship, despite the elder’s penchant for popping up and casting his opinions about. Though he’d attended Bayal’s service on their journey towards the system, he’d yet to receive the patience he’d been asking for during the prayers.

“Temporary Commanding Officer Torrik,” Vail said, leaning in close and keeping his voice down. “As much as you try to shield those feelings of yours, you are one of the easiest reads I’ve ever encountered as a listener. If you’re going to gain the trust and respect of this crew you either need to get whatever problem you have off of your chest, or learn to be a better actor.”

And the Bajoran snapped.

“My problem is you, Lt. Commander Vail,” Nils hissed venomously. His eyes looked out from under his brow is if he were a viper waiting to strike and his jaw muscles quivered with tension. “I find you completely disingenuous… And I resent your presence on this ship in every conceivable way.”

Vail’s eyebrows slowly lifted and he even looked mildly amused. “Is this about Command’s decision to issue your orders through me?”

“I could give an empty slip of latinum about how our orders get here. They are orders and we’ll follow them… That’s why their called ‘orders.’ What you…” A sharp intake of breath indicated the younger man was rethinking whether or not to continue. He glanced around the bridge and noticed one of Ven’s antenna pointed in their direction. “The Captain’s ready room,” he groaned.

The two men rose and slipped off the bridge, one gliding gracefully, the other stalking about like the curmudgeon that he was.

Once through the doors Vail began, “I apologize if…”

“I don’t need an apology,” the angry Bajoran said through almost clenched teeth. His gruff voice added intensity to his already impassioned speech. “I need you to steer clear of this crew. There is a Bajoran proverb that says, ‘Avoid those who’s presence casts a shadow.’ And you cast a lonnnnng shadow. Your records are sealed and your personnel file is virtually blank, yet you’ve served in the ‘Fleet for a century.”

“Captain I’m not trying to…”

“I’m not done,” Nils growled. “Upon your arrival, several of our security team suddenly take leave and go for a pleasure cruise aboard your runabout… And on your return to the ship you miraculously bring with you Harry Finn, who’s been MIA for weeks. Then Harry’s records are sealed and he’s promoted to Executive Officer of this ship. You’ve got a direct line to command and you’ve got this crew keeping secrets they’ve no business keeping.” He paused before continuing. “This concerns me,” he concluded in one long a threatening breath.

“I understand your concern, Captain Torrik,” Vail began, his expression blank. “I wish I could alleviate that concern, but sometimes there are things that one must…”

“Are you Section 31?” The question was curt and sharp.

And for the first time Vail looked genuinely taken aback. It was the only time since their initial meeting that Nils felt he saw the real man behind the ‘spook.’ “I am not,” he answered seriously. He seemed almost downtrodden. “I most certainly am not,” he said again appearing a little defeated. In a moment of quiet contemplation he moved away from the CO and to one of the large viewports.

“It seems I misjudged you, Nils. May I call you Nils? I had you pegged for a Golden ‘Fleeter.” He momentarily glanced over shoulder and continued, “Do you know what that is?”

“No,” answered Nils holding his ground and his mood.

“That’s the term we use for an officer who is fast tracked due primarily to luck… A teacher’s pet who gains a promotion at every turn do in no part to their own merit. You know…despite your high marks in the academy, your records indicate as much to a seasoned eye.”

“How so…” Still gravel and fire.

“A lowly science cadet makes a lucky call on the Sentinel regarding particle buoyancy and saves a lost ship… The Captain moves him into Operations and puts the Chief title on it, though Operations truly needs no chief. A few more good calls and the loss of the ship’s Chief of Science makes a void that you easily slip into with your education.” Vail practically sang his history as if it were a ballad. The next refrain bore an incredulous melody. “A hole opens in space and swallows you up, only to spit you out on the doorstep of this ship, on which the Chief of Science moves aside and you again…slip into the role. Who goes next? Oh the First Officer of course. And a teenage Captain promotes you… Why you? Well, that’s the mystery isn’t it? Where does your favor come from? But that’s not the end of the story is it?”

Vail turned slowly and stepped easily back towards the Bajoran, his arms crossed over his chest. “Once again fate deals you the hand of a lifetime as the Captain of the ship falls to his Borg programming and in the ensuing mess that follows… You are granted command of an entire starship…” Now face to face, the showdown began in earnest. “I thought you were just one lucky undeserving son of a bitch. But it turns out I was wrong. You’re as shrewd as a snake, aren’t you, Nils.”

Vail seemed rabidly eager for an answer. But the young Bajoran was unsure how to answer. The song the man had sung did something Nils wasn’t expecting in the least. It removed him from his life. And the tapestry that looked so wildly convoluted and disheartening from up close, suddenly came into focus. And it made sense… His faith increased in the moment and a new found perspective began to emerge.

“I walk with the Prophets,” Nils answered, his tone softening. “I’m not sure what you are accusing me of Mister Vail, but I’ve never had eyes for Command. Never… But here we are. And if this is where my walk with the Prophet’s places me right now… Then this is where I will stand.”

Again Vail looked pleasantly surprised. “You are a conundrum, aren’t you?”

“Why do you ask me to agree with you if you’ve already made up your mind. In science we call that a biased hypothesis. But if I am a conundrum then that makes two of us… And that brings me back to my original discussion. I’ve had enough of your underhanded meddling. Section 31 or not I don’t have room on this ship for string pullers or back alley puppeteers. If you know something, I consider it your duty to report it directly to me. If you intend to pull pieces of my crew to form some Prophet forsaken special ops ever again… Don’t. If you have suggestions regarding reassigments on this vessel, keep them to yourself. And if you don’t care for that arrangement, please feel free to ‘complete your repairs’ and be on your way.”

Vail smiled and backed off a bit. After examining the younger man intently for a moment, he nodded. “Very well. I’ll play by your rules while I’m on this ship, Nils.”

The Bajoran spun on his heal and headed back to the bridge. “That’s Captain Torrik, to you.”

Featuring NPC Callan Vail
Originally Posted 8/6/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking
Dedicated Lab 1138

"Here, you can hang it around your neck." Kerrin tried to put the tribal medallion around Javier's neck and…missed. "What? This is something that is common, I have very carefully created the symbols, it will not only hide the commlink but help you blend in."

"So what happens when a person needs to use it?" the engineer asked. "Surely the Devanagari will notice if you are fiddling with your medallion too much?" He dodged the necklace once more, not wishing to look like the tribal Flava-Flav unless absolutely necessary.

Kerrin grunted in frustration. Boys and their vanity. "You pick it up, it will look like you are saying prayers for your ancestors." Giving up on Javier, she hung the chain over the outwardly placid Del, then patted it fondly. "See? Nice right?" He blinked down at her sweetly, at least she chose to believe it was sweetly….rather that than vacantly. Turning back to Javier she blew her bangs out of her eyes while she thought. "We can always have it put into the yoke part of the riding cloaks. Once your hood is up, it would be impossible to tell you were speaking into anything."

Javier looked at Delano Mills who stared back at him with his usual blank look. "What do you think Crewman Mills? It doesn't detract from your stylish ensemble does it? Maybe I could get you some Pumas and a track suit?" Costala asked the engineer, hoping to draw Delano out of his nervous disposition.

Del shifted the medallion around and tested its weight. He had never worn man jewelry but the medallion felt like it fit him. "It f-f-f-feels okay Ch-ch-chief," he said quietly before glancing back at Dr. Schaeffer then letting his eyes drop downward. "I th-th-think I can m-m-manage."

Awww. Kerrin ran back over and gave him a big squeeze. "I think it is dashing."

The husky engineer blushed and found a spot on the deck to stare at. "I..uh..k-k-kay."

"I guess chains and chest hair are back in Dr. Schaeffer," Javier said before turning to the anthropologist. "In combat training we've been using those small bucklers to fight with, what if I reinforced the front and hid a tricorder within the back part? That way the teams could perform a scan of the area and remain clandestine. I could have a flap of hide that covers it from the back. What do you think?"

"Hmm, you would need to be careful of inhibiting your field of vision while looking at the readout, and I wouldn't recommend using it to deflect weapons if you want your tricorder to work again…but it seems doable."

"I'll construct it where the readout piece is attached to the flap, so that it flips outward when opened. That way the team could use the tricorder at any stance or even while riding," Javier thought aloud while sketching the idea out in his mind. "I'll re-inforce it with starship materials beneath the leather..that should make it more durable and offer better protection. Is there another item that would work? It would be prudent to have more than one option." That sounds very much like a certain Vulcan I know. Javier realized as soon as he had asked the question. He smiled at the other two at this thought.

Kerrin's face lit up with excitement. "Hey! Good idea." Tapping her toe to help her think, she scrounged for other alternatives. "What about the same technique on a water flask…skin…you know what I mean, a chisira." Great, you can come up with the Devanagari name but not the standard?

"Th-th-that m-m-might w-w-work," Del suddenly said, speaking up for the first time. Javier stared at the man. He had never heard him speak up without first being addressed. He had just been about to explain how the idea may be more trouble than it was worth. "What's your idea Crewman?"

"W-w-we m-m-make it wa-wa-wa-waterproof!" Del spat out. He glanced shyly at Schaeffer then switched his gaze over to look at the Chief Engineer, waiting for his approval.

I think that hug had some effect on Mills.. Costala thought. "Make a design, then present it to Dr. Schaeffer and we'll see if we can use it," Javier encouraged the younger man. Mills nodded. "Okay Ch-ch-chief."

"Last of all," Javier said as he gave Schaeffer a wary look, "phasers, I know we need them but I'm not sure I agree with taking them down there. Problem is if we catch up with Bedie and her crew I doubt they'll stop for a sword fight. I sent a report to the Chief of Security and each team will be taking modified Type I phasers. The Type I is small enough to be hidden within the folds of one's clothing so we won't have to camouflage them as something else. Just in case one gets lost, I've modified them where they are rendered inactive after a five day period from when they are first charged," the engineer explained. "I think this will keep us from doing any major damage to Devanagari culture if a phaser goes missing."

"Phasers.." Kerrin folded her arms over her chest, she could feel her teeth starting to grind. "I was told one phaser per party…" Her voice was deceptively mild. "has that changed?" By god she would rip Harry in two if he told her one thing to shut her up and then went and issued other orders.

"I receive orders and I make them happen," the Chief Engineer replied stoicly. "I have no idea how many phasers are needed but I'm going to make enough to enable security officers to do their duty, barring that I'd take one down myself if I was going planetside." He shrugged and said, "It's not my call to say how many phasers a team gets, it is my job to see that the officers have them and that they work flawlessly."

"Mmmph." It was tough to argue with that, especially since Kerrin knew that Tee was going and Javier was not. "Fine. Alright, we don't have much time to get this together, I will work up the commlinks, Javier, you take the tricorders and Del, as soon as you get the plans for the chisira you will send them to me." There was a short pause. "Right?"


JP with Kerrin Schaeffer (by T'Shaini), Javier Costala and Delano Mills
Originally Posted 8/6/08 by Javier Costala

:: USS Hawking :: Sickbay ::

Doctor Ayre stood in front of the chief medical officer with a dermal stimulator and a face guide. He sighed deeply as he read over her instructions, “You sure this is right?”

Chris Hodges got up from behind his desk and stood behind the Scottish doctor, “Let me take a look?” He skimmed the details and nodded, “Uhhh well….” He skewed his face, "Technically you've got it. Artistically? Meh."

Matt shook his head, “Just seems wrong”.

Jillian would have raised an eyebrow, had the muscles in her face not been paralyzed by the dermatiraelian plasticine, instead she managed to mumble through partially frozen lips, “Whaa ree yooo tawkinng ‘bout”

Matt shot her one of his heart melting grins, “Reconstructing such a perfect face.”

Jillian rolled her eyes, "Ohh puuwwease."

Chris chuckled, “I’d be worried, Jill. You might want to consider putting yourself back together. Who knows what you'll look like after.”

Matt held a dermal stimulator to Jillian’s neck, “Alright….one last thing and you should be ready to go…” Jillian flinched as full sensation returned to her face, “…how’s that?”

She lightly ran her fingers across her face. Different. Foreign. “Well, I don't feel like me, so I guess that's a good sign.”

Pleased with himself, Matt picked up his instruments and walked over to the next patient, Jillian followed.

“I’d like to take the last patient, if you don’t mind.”

"Not at all," Matt took a step to the side and ushered her towards the biobed where Harry Finn sat waiting.

"Hi Harry," Jillian flipped open her medical tricorder, “…as always, I save the best patient for last.” She smiled.

Looking up from his study of the Yassira… the 'code' by which the natives of Girijin lived, Harry blinked, then he blinked again. "I thought Jillian was… oh…" he tilted his head, "damn. Different… definitely… different."

"It'll take a little getting used to, that's for sure." She filled a hypo with 5cc of colgonite astringent, "You ready?" She asked.

"I wuz born ready," Harry slurred jokingly. In truth he was always a bit leery of cosmetic alterations… kept thinking he'd lose himself in someone else's face.

:: 20 minutes later ::

"You're going to feel a slight buzz throughout your face," Jillian held up a dermal stimulator for him to see, "Think of it like 'waking up' your muscles." She pressed the stimulator to his sternomastoid muscle, "…and there we go. You're finished." She picked up a mirror and held it against her chest, "Would you like to meet the new Harry Finn?"

"That's Harad, now," he corrected absently, unable to keep himself from moving his brows up and down repeatedly as the new weight over his eyes made itself known. Looking into the small mirror, "Gah!" he shook his head, "this works way better on you, 'J'lian' he addressed her by her Gijirin-adapted name." Taking one more quick peek, he felt a slight twinge, "You know, I think I was just getting used to being me, again."

Jillian squeezed his arm softly, "You're still you. Harad is only a mask." She scanned him once more with the tricorder, "All vitals are stable…" she paused as she continued to scan, "…your muscles have taken to the plasticine quite well. If you feel any discomfort it is most likely your muscles adjusting to the added weight on your face."

"Yeah… that's probably it," he shook off the hovering shadows of the recent past and grinned at the doctor, "Well, we'd better go get our local duds on… it's time to go hunt some wabbits! Or…" he glanced at the PADD he still held, "zaars." He looked back up at the transformed doctor, "I wonder how big a zaar is, anyway?"

She shook her head, "All I know is, I'll be standing behind you. I'm still recovering from those damn zombies."

"Oh, ahh," Harry/Harad started to slink away, "Didn't you get the memo? You're actually going to be on Kowalski's team… but don't worry, Fehr is on that one… and, Drummond and…" he started to back away, "remember, it's the bigger team! Safety in numbers!"

Jillian crossed her arms and watched as Harad backed away towards the exit, "Yeah, yeah. Get outta here!" She grinned, "I'll see you planetside!"

"Only if there are no zaars in sight!" came filtering from the corridor as the remade man escaped.

A joint post by: Harry Finn
Featuring: Chris Hodges & Matt Ayre
Originally Posted 8/7/08 by Jillian Munro

USS Hawking

When the doors of the turbolift opened and the rangy, sword-toting, zaar-skin-clad Devanagari stepped out, there was a universal intake of breath and, despite herself, Jereen started reaching for her phaser before a cuttingly familiar voice snapped out, "Don't shoot… unless you promise to get rid of these brow implants while I'm out."

Such an outburst was so uncommon on the bridge that Nils almost drew his own phaser. Once he craned his neck around the back of his chair, however, the anxiety fled in the wake of sheer amusement. The Executive Officer looked anything but executive. Jillian's surgical procedures and the costuming department, whomever that ended up being, had transformed him completely. The Bajoran even smiled a little. "I'm… I'm overwhelmed," he said as he stood up to get a better look.

"Yeah, well, wait til you get a whiff of the eu de native we have to spray on before the drop… talk about overwhelming," Harry shifted the blade which, while he was comfortable enough wielding (especially in the mock battles against Hallows), was cumbersome to wear. "Reporting for final briefing, Captain," he made sure to emphasize the title.

"Right well… I don't know what I can add to that gem of information," Nils said before angling towards the briefing room. "But we'll try anyway…" The short walk to the briefing room gave Nils enough time to revert to his characteristic humorlessness. Upon entering he wondered why he'd chosen the briefing room over his own ready room, but decided he didn't want to analyze himself any more today. "Are the teams ready for transport?" Best to jump straight to business.

"Geared up," Harry confirmed, "Readiness is more subjective." Delano Mills, for instance, looked about to collapse from sheer nerves but… "What's the skinny on Kamaal and her troops? I mean, do we have a viable target for landing?"

"Not precisely," answered the CO as he leaned on one of the chairs around the table. "The distance we're maintaining from the merc ship and our proximity to the primary moon make scans more inconclusive than I'd prefer. We have, however, localized a matter stream trail that indicates Kamaal and her team beamed somewhere on the eastern coast of the planet's single continent. Sensors show pockets of habitation up and down the coastal region." It wasn't much, but it was something. They'd have to reveal their presence to the mercenaries to get better telemetry than that.

Finn nodded, his right hand tapping the sword's hilt, "You know, it's a crapshoot, whether or not she's openly revealed her presence to the locals. If she has, do we attempt damage control, or local defense?" He glanced back at his CO, uncertain of how any of this was going to be received, "Did Vail indicate a priority if we run into that scenario? I know he wants to find out what she's after but…"

"But what Vail wants is irrelevant to me," Nils cursed, his expression suddenly much darker. His green eyes momentarily glazed over as he replayed his conversation with the El Aurian in his head. "Vail…" he growled once more for good measure. "I stand by my assertion that the preservation of Girijin society is our primary objective. At any cost, Harry… Even if we lose the item to Kamaal…"

"Even if that item could be used against the Bajoran's back home?" Harry had no idea what this woman could be seeking but he did know that everything he'd read about the Circle (more Circles, he thought, disgusted at the memory of a similarly titled organization back on Kendrassa) made him certain that she shouldn't be allowed to get her hands on it. "My gut tells me this woman would not have come all the way out to the sticks just to pick up a trinket. She's here, in force, looking for something that will serve her cause. Maybe Commander Vail…"

"So you agree with Vail," the Bajoran interjected with more acid in his tone than he'd intended. He couldn't help but feel somewhat betrayed, but he also wasn't surprised. From what he'd observed it was probable that felt he Finn owed the Intelligence officer. In a number of ways perhaps… Nils sucked a breath through his nostrils and held it for a second before blowing it out of his mouth. "I don't know what the item is… And I don't know what Kamaal plans to use it for. But what I do know is that this planet… These people have one chance to evolve as a society. And even the smallest interference could alter their entire history to come." He locked eyes with Harry and wouldn't let go. "Bajor has the sum of Starfleet, the Bajoran militia and the Prophet's to watch over them. These people have us…"

"Have us to do what? I mean, if we interfere with Kamaal it won't be all swords and bows… non-interference, if that's what you really want, keeps us on the ship, watching and waiting to see what damage she'll inflict… maybe she's already inflicting," Harry's eyes narrowed, "Regulations and directives are there for a reason, yes but at the same time, they don't… they can't… they aren't the answer to everything. There are… problems… out there," he gestured towards the ports, "beyond the power of any 'Fleet regulations to deal with."

"But we are in the 'Fleet…" Nils felt duty bound to defend the directives that he believed in. "It is what we signed on for - to uphold the ideals of the 'Fleet. Not our personal ideals and not the ideals of our respective cultures. But the fundamental philosophy of this body. And if Kamaal were not involved we'd pass this planet by and let them grow. But she crossed the line. We have to follow her over and pull her back. She is not part of their natural development…" Nils waved his hands around trying to physically clear the air. "Are we talking about the same thing, here? Vail is hell bent on retrieving the artifact before the Circle, but I'm hard pressed to believe you're as invested in the idea as he is…"

"No, I'm not… as such." Harry started to rub at his forehead but ran into interference at the brow area, "I just… between you and Vail, I'm having trouble determining the mission's parameters… seek intelligence… don't interfere… find the treasure… ignore the treasure… and, due respect, he did deliver the orders from Command and… yes, okay, yes… I do… I can see where he's coming from. If we have to risk being down there at all, why not find out as much as we can about a known threat? We're already there…"

Nils sighed. "I'm not telling you to ignore the threat. We're talking about my homeworld, after all…" Did Command always mean every point of view had merit? Because the Bajoran suddenly felt very trapped. "What I'm saying is, if it comes down to it… If you have to make a choice between the 'treasure' and the people… Choose the people. Our orders stand - Investigate and act appropriately. But the Prime Directive is the limit to every issued order. And I'll be damned if our ship will be the pawn of some Prophet forsaken initiative of Section 31," he added under his breath.

"He's not Section 31," Finn declared, though quietly. "You don't like him, fine, but…" Harry shook his head and walked a few steps away before turning back, "He saved my life," the soft admission flowed back at Nils, "which, okay, maybe that's not so high on the gains roster for you but if he hadn't… just try and imagine how many more Dana's there would be… how many more Vanona's and Ajani's…" he felt his jaw tightening with too many memories, none of which he could ever share.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. But instead of fueling Nils' argument, it humbled him. He truly didn't have the full spetrum of truth regarding what had happened since Harry left the ship. "Have both teams check in every two hours if possible. We won't worry unless it's been three, however, in case Girijin presence makes communication ill-advised. As soon as you've located Kamaal and her group, let us know… And if you get an inkling of a notion about what the artifact is report in immediately… Please…" The conversation had turned somewhat sour and there was too much unspoken history to muck through it now.

"Aye to that," the relief at returning to the basics of the mission was hard to disguise. "Did you want to give the troops a sendoff? Probably everyone's made it to the transporter room by now… got their eu de Devanagari on and everything…"

A sendoff? The Bajoran couldn't think of anything more absurd than an awkward send off from the ship's former Chief of Science. He remembered Carl Foster and Lien Marc giving speeches and such at the beginning of each mission. They'd been both inspiring and motivating. "No," he answered, sounding a little cool. "They know their duty." His presence and words were anything but inspiring and motivating and the Captain shoes still fit a little too tightly.

Riiight. "Well, okay but just to be safe I think I'll remind Drummond that he's not allowed to open a Raktajino stand on the beach… wait, there are no beaches…" Harry started for the exit but then suddenly turned, "One more thing, sir… I'd appreciate it if you looked out for Jenny while I'm gone. I'm taking Wendy and Jillian away with me and she might start to feel… I mean, if you could just make sure she has something… some work… anything to keep her from…" from thinking. He held his captain's gaze, hoping the other man understood.

Nils nodded solemnly. "I'll have T'Landra brief her on the nature of being First Officer's yeoman. T'Landra's ability to distract is…legendary…" He felt like he should say something else. This was typically the spot where a Captain would interject a wise word or a final thought… Nothing came. He simply stared at Harry Finn for a moment then glanced away, feeling something akin to shame. "Take care of our people, Harry," he suddenly said without thinking about it.

Harry nodded, "That's the plan, sir," and with no more he left the room, becoming, as he did, less and less Harry Finn and more and more Harad of no tribe. But then, Harry was an old hand at being Outcast.

A joint clash of opinions with Torrik Nils
Originally Posted 8/8/08 by Harry Finn

:: Girijin ::
:: The Cliffs Beyond the Sh’kesh of the Azuchi Clan ::

In the sleeting rain of the dim-grey dusk it took far longer than usual to descend the cliff face and Tchiva feared he was too late. Already delayed by the hunt running afoul of a pack of hungry d’algs, tearing into the prey which should rightly have been the Clan’s… the Juvayni had been forced to destroy the ravening predators before the true and (because of the d’algs/ thinning of the herd) much reduced zaar hunt could proceed.

By the time the Juvayni had returned to the sh’kesh, the tide was too high to visit the cavern and he’d been forced to wait for the waters to recede and then the rain had begun to fall, slicking the nighttime cliffs and the bhandi-line beneath the hunter’s fingers. He knew it would have been wiser to wait until the next tri-moon but still he persevered… it was unthinkable that he not make his pilgrimage… the Great Spirit expected him (and was not that a wonder, that one of the Spirits spoke to him, Tchiva, Hunt Master of the Azuchi Clan). He would not, at the first, have thought to keep such beneficence a secret… the world of the Spirits belonged more to the Herati but the Deep Spirit had been clear… Tchiva had discovered it and it was Tchiva alone to whom it would speak.

Though, truth be known, the communications the Azuchi warrior received from the Spirit was as far above speech as a flight of severen above the plains and it was in this place of glory that Tchiva first learned of his destiny… to make the Azuchi the First of the Clans, and in that making, himself become Andhra over them all.

In earnest of this, the Spirit granted him knowledge… the design of a more powerful bow, the method of procuring strong medicine from a plant long thought inimical to the Devanagari, the blending of different elements to smelt a stronger blade and so on…

At last in the safety of the cavern, Tchiva lit the oiled torch and wound his way through the tide-washed tunnels to his goal, remembering how, humbled, he had asked what payment the Deep One wished for this largesse, and been told that all he need ever do was continue to visit… continue to accept enlightenment on behalf of his people and thereby would he, Azuchi, bring the Seeker to the light.

Posted by Torrik Nils harnessing the ability of the great and powerful Oz… I mean Harry… Pay no attention to the XO behind the curtain!
Originally Posted 8/8/08 by Torrik Nils

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Transporter Room 2 ::

In the crowded transporter room, Tommy Jenkins skimmed her readouts before adopting a professionally pleasant tone and reporting that, “Ladies and gentleman, at present time it is full night, local time, which, by the way, lasts only 9.3 standard hours, this time of year. The current temperature is a balmy 11º centigrade, near the eastern ocean. In the unlikley event of a water landing, your packs are NOT recommended as a flotation device…"

"Is there a prerequisite that the Hawking only accepts smartasses?" Kerrin wondered aloud.

"Nine point four standard hours you mean," Kal-El sounded off while rolling his eyes at the transporter officer. "Maybe you should concentrate on scrambling my molecules correctly instead of providing us with a travel monologue."

Jillian took one last glance around at all their faces, "This may sound strange, but if any of you feel like your faces are, for lack of a better word, melting, be sure to let me know right away." She smiled, "I doubt it will happen, chances are very low, but if it does…"

For a moment the room went dead silent as everyone contemplated the visual.

"FYI," Jenkins, in a much less pleasant voice burst in, "your team will be landing approximately 24 kilometers from the coast… and if anyone's interested, it's also raining, right now."

"Does anyone know if these implants are waterproof?" Hamish was asking as he stepped onto the transporter platform.

"As waterproof as something that hasn't been man made can be." Kerrin assured him…sorta. She was a little on edge. Why do they need to be here early, neither Jason nor Harry are due to leave for another hour. "I made sure, though I don't really think I will melt in the rain, I would be willing to bet that at least a couple in this room would be willing to testify otherwise."

Jillian looked up at the transporter chief, "I think we're ready to go." On any other day she would have enjoyed the witty banter between crew, but in this moment all she wanted to do was get down to the planet. Her relationship with Nils was undefined, and that was OK, but she at least thought he would come down to say goodbye.

"Perhaps you could try to place us in a position where there isn't a torrential downpour," Kal-El suggested, "it will be a testament to your rudimentary skills as a transporter officer." He caught a sharp look from the Chief Engineer, who had come to say farewell to the counselor and see off his engineers. "What? It was meant as a compliment," the engineer offered in a voice that bled away into silence.

"I can see," Fehr commented, as he drew his sword prior to transport, "that this is going to be a very long trip."

"It grows longer with each minute wasted on pithy remarks," the engineer commented in a low tone. With his sword drawn, Fehr looked menacing but Kal-El was sure he could take the man in a battle of wits.

Kerrin felt the tingle of transport start to overtake her and a surge of panic had her searching out Harry. "I changed my mind! I want to be an outcaaaa" And then they were gone.

A joint post by: THE A-TEAM, and a silent appearance by that Javi guy.
Originally Posted 8/8/08 by Jillian Munro

.:: USS Hawking : Shuttle Bay ::.

Vince stood at the base of the Wraith, thumbing through a series of PADD's, showing the scematics for all the craft in the shuttlebay, save for the Wraith. He started walking towards one of the shuttles, noticing a discrepency in one of the read outs. He walked up the ramp, still looking at the PADD, and sat down in the pilot's seat.

He brought up the computer, and began running a diagnostic, hoping that the problem would present itself in an easy manner, rather than causing him to have to tear the thing apart looking for it.

He was aware of somthing going on that involved the planet below them, but he decided that the minor things connected to the helm needed attention, and he was just the man for the job. Scott was supposed to be in the bay assisting him, but had probably gotten distracted somehow, and he'd be along later. Vince sat back in the chair, staring at the read out infront of him, waiting for a red light to show itself.

The diagnostic completed, and the red light he was looking for started flashing, indicating that several circit boards needed to be replaced, and several other minor things needed some fixing. He walked out of the back of the shuttle, and Scott was just starting to walk up.

" Here, I just ran a diagnostic on this shuttle, and it's not flight worthy. Some boards need to be replaced, and there's some wiring that needs to be tended to." Vince walked over to the tool bax next to the shuttle.

Scott looked at the PADD, then up at Vince," Well, sounds good to me. I'll grab the boards from the supply room, and I suppose you're going to start tearing the shuttle apart."

" You are correct, so let's get the stuff and get started." Vince grabbed a tool from the box.

" No problem," Scott started to turn around, but stopped looking back at Vince," Hey, what's going on with the Senior staff, they seem to have somthing going on."

Vince looked up," Well, not to sound crude, but I don't really care much. I've been given light duty for a bit, all I need to worry about are these shuttles, but if Nils decides I need to be involved, then I'll ask whats up."

" Sounds good, be right back."

As scott walked off, Vince slid under the shuttle, ready to start on one of his many loves, tearing things apart, and hoping he could put it back together…….

Originally Posted 8/9/08 by Vince Stryfe

After the first team disappeared in the shimmering transporter light, Javier left the staging area and headed in the direction of T'Shaini's office. He was concerned for her, knowing that T'Shaini could defend herself, but also realizing that there were many ways the mission could 'go south'. The two of them always seemed to get separated on away team missions. He didn't know if it was done on purpose or was just 'the luck of the draw.' Whatever it was, the engineer was growing tired of the selection process. Maybe sometime in the future I could actaully stand up in a staff meeting and say: "No, sorry, T'Shaini and I are on our own away team. He wondered if Nils' eyebrows would do battle over this revelation or if Harry would voice some concern with 'fraternization while on duty.' I've never worked with her in a mission..except for the Q one, and that really doesn't even count since we were different people. There was the time on Halcyon..all two hours spent in a bunker. Next time it will be different. he promised himself.

Javier passed through the doors and immediately went on the defensive as he found a strange humanoid in T'Shaini's office. Numerous ship emergencies had drilled security procedure into the lieutenant as his hand slapped his commlink. =^=Costala to Security, there's an intruder in…ah shit.=^= his alert tapering off into a curse as Javier realized he was looking at his cosmetically altered partner. =^=Belay that order Security, false alarm. Costala out.=^= He shrugged and eased into one of the office's comfy chairs.

"Well you look positively hideous," he said to T'Shaini after closing the comm channel, "which means the make-up is working."

She bit back the smile that was threatening and crossed her arms. "I should warn you, Jillian was concerned that it would be difficult to reverse."

"Excellent, so I'll be the Beauty in the relationship and you'll be the Beast!" He looked her over as if imagining what she would look like if the make-up were permanent. "No, I want my pretty Vulcan back. I'm too handsome to be stuck with a troll," he teased.

T'Shaini tried to raise one eyebrow…and raised both. "And I would have to learn all new facial expressions, horrifying thought…rather a good thing that it was just a poor attempt at a joke." Her fingers gingerly brushed across her augmented features. "It is odd, I keep thinking I can see something out of the corner of my eye, as if something is on my face…and it is my face."

"You do have prominent features now," Javier admitted. "But even if there was the possibility of it getting stuck that way, I'd just have Jillian alter my face too and we can be the Hawking trolls. Oh..I could even build us a bridge to live under. Or we could keep our quarters because they are under the bridge anyway." He laughed and sang the first line of TRHCP's 'Under the Bridge' before it crossed his mind that he wasting valuable Tee time.

Sobering up, Javier motioned for her to come over, taking her hand in his and pulling T'Shaini onto his lap. "I realize you don't have long until you have to go," he said, "and I know I've told you this before but I've always tried to uphold it..if you need me, I'll come find you." He paused then said, "even if it means breaking the Prime Directive."

She reached up to cup his face with her hands. "I know." T'Shaini whispered before brushing her lips across his. Lifting her gaze to meet his eyes she smiled slightly. "Of course I would prefer the situation not arise," Then leaned in to kiss him again before finishing. "but I know if I ever needed you, you would find a way."

Javier languished in the moment, enjoying the closeness and the understanding that he and T'Shaini shared. He lifted his hand to brush her face then pulled it back so he wouldn't muss any of the work that had gone into making her Devangari-like. Javier's lips found T'Shaini's, sucking softly on her bottom lip, holding it captive in his mouth as his tongue explored the inner recesses of her mouth. Pulling it back slowly to trace her lips, Javier broke their kiss. "Just remember to be the anti-me," he said, "don't do anything without first weighing the consequences." It was concern that made him mention this, not any doubt about her abilities to meet the challenge. His lips met hers again, kissing her gently with many smaller, light kisses.

"Mmmm." Granted at the moment she would have likely agreed to anything he proposed, but she did not need to tell him that. "I guess my plan for being wild and reckless will have to be abandoned." Running her fingers through his hair T'Shaini sighed heavily. "I suppose I should make my way to the transporter room." Somehow she did not seem to be moving. "On the count of three."

"Let's count by one hundreths then," he suggested, placing another kiss before saying, "And you're only allowed to be wild and reckless when we're together…alone together."

"I think I can agree to that…provisionally of course." The Vulcan looked down with a slight smile. "I propose you give me a push." Her smile grew as his decided lack of movement. "Or not." Grabbing his hands T'Shaini shifted her feet to the floor and pulled him up to stand with her. "There, that is a step in the right direction."

"And just when you thought you would never hear me say the words: 'We're moving too fast.'" Javier punned as he took her hand and they began to slowly walk towards the door. "Did you remember to get your sword?"

"I did, I am hoping to leave it in the scabbard." Her nose wrinkled with distaste as she reviewed her last training sim. "I am much more proficient with the bow, I will attempt to make that my primary weapon…if needed." And she sincerely hoped it would not be needed.

T'Shaini belted on her sword and placed the unstrung bow in the outside pocket of her pack and slung it over her shoulder. One last look around her office took carried her eyes to rest on Javier. Her chest grew tight as she contemplated the separation. You would think I would be more accustomed to it by now…and yet, no. Taking his hand in hers, she drew him into step beside her. "I am assuming you are coming with me to the transporter room, I find I will be quite put out if went to see Kal-El off and not me."

"Of course I'm going with you," he answered, then let go of her hand so he could take T'Shaini's pack and sling it over his own shoulder. "You never had a boyfriend while in high school, did you?" Javier asked her.

T'Shaini shook her head lightly. "No, why do you ask?"

"Because if you had, you would know that while your boyfriend is around, he carries the backpack," Javier explained with a smile, as he took her hand again. "Now let's go see if your flight is on time."

JP Joanie and Chachi
Originally Posted 8/9/08 by T'Shaini

:: Girijin ::
:: Somewhere on the Eastern Coast ::

Slick rain fell from the sky like oily needles and pelted the woman's face as she watched her team demolish another barrier blocking the entrance to yet another cave. Their search had uncovered nothing for days. The alien mercs smashed and destroyed quite efficiently though, despite their constant complaining. Evidently, their one run in with the locals had not spilled enough blood to quench their warrior god…or whatever he was. But the Beradi Mercenaries seemed well worth the price paid thus far.

"We can't fill the Warrior's Heart with stones and smashed relics of death…" Kona was the leader. He was also the most vocal complainer.

"I'm not interested in filling your warrior's heart," Kamaal said, quite sincerely. The prospect of spilling so much blood sickened her. Essa had taught her over the years that sometimes killing was a necessity, but that no one should relish in the deed done. And she never did. "But if another party comes along and sees how we desicrate their cliffs I'm sure you'll have your chance to defend our efforts here." The Devanagari seemed to revere these coastlines as a holy place. That didn't surprise the Bajoran in light of some of their discoveries. Many of the caves held the remains of the dead. And hopefully one of them held what she sought. Everything depended on it.

"The coterie will find your trinket, Bedie. You've secured the best or our lot… And we do not fail once payment is recieved. Relax…" Kona didn't fully understand the value of what Kamaal sought, but he could smell the worry pouring off of her.

"You may call me Kamaal, not Bedie. And I have the utmost faith that we'll discover what we're seeking." She didn't add that the faith she spoke of was not in those aliens whom she'd employed. But rather the Prophets, who would use the discovery to restore Bajor to her full and pure glory. Once the Orb of Reflection was back on Bajor and under the control of the Alliance, then their influence would rival that of the Vedek Assembly. Followers would flock in droves to see that which the Prophets had granted Jaro Essa and his 'Circle.' No longer would her group be viewed as terrorists or extremists, but they could take their rightful place as the ruling D'Jarra.

A Beradi Scout descended the cliff face with deft footing, even though the stones were slick and wet. Moving like a beast evolved for cliff scaling, the alien skimmed over the rocks and directly to the two overseers. "Another Devanagari raiding party approaches. This one is twice as large as the last." Delight and excitement colored the dark skinned alien's tone.

Bedie sighed. "Can you turn them back without bloodshed?" The two aliens looked revolted at the thought. She shook her head and rubbed her temples. The oily water dripped from her nose to the ground. "Do what you must," she relented.

A shrill yet throaty whistle erupted from Kona's mouth and the Beradi emerged from all over the cliff face. Their weapons were instantly in their hands and they ascended the sheer wall like insects, bounding and leaping to the battle that would surely fill their Warrior's Heart with much blood. "Do what you must…" she said quietly - even sadly - as the last of the mercenaries disappeared over the top of the cliff. "It must be done," she lamented. And though a shroud of despair fell over her when she heard the battle rage, her resolve only grew more certain.

Featuring NPC's Kamaal Bedie and Kona
Originally Posted 8/9/08 by Torrik Nils

USS Hawking
Transporter Room 2

“Comm check,” Harry ordered and, as each of the four members of the Outcast… en’yassryn… party tested their covert commbadges (Harry had opted for the hood version, as had most of the males on the teams), took stock of the group. T’Shaini was as calm as expected, her bow unstrung for the weather though he’d seen her get it strung and an arrow notched in less than a minute. Delano Mills, aka, Delan was still tense, though having his tricorder/shield functional seemed to ground him some. Jasaon Hallows… Jerad… was outwardly cool as a really cool thing, though he’d looked a bit heated, earlier, when Kerrin’s outburst had been pointed at Harry.

But for now, the upcoming insertion… into a society they had no business touching… was foremost in everyone’s minds. Less than six days of holographic practice in hunting and dressing game, setting up the small en’kesh tents and learning how to choke down what they expected of the local foodstuffs were, in Harry’s opinion, not sufficient to allow them to blend.

What was worse, to his mind, was that the other party they knew to be on-planet, Kamaal Bedie and her hired mercenaries, were unlikely to even be trying to avoid the kind of cultural contamination that Starfleet had declared anathema.

Once their communications were pronounced sound by Tommy, Harry continued, “Just so we’re clear,” he focused on Torrik’s stated priorities, “our main objective is to protect the local population from any kind of incursion by Kamaal or her hired hands. If that leads to information useful to Intelligence, or even the discovery of her goal, that’s great but first and foremost, we protect the locals.”

He glanced over at ‘Jerad’. According to Hallows, who’d been researching the nomadic patterns of the Devanagari, the coastal regions would more populated this time of year. The coast… being termed the summerland… brought the herds of zaar to graze on the sweet grass of the region and approximately a third of the continent’s tribes were, for lack of a better term, custodians to these particular herds. They summered near the cliffs, harvested whatever indigenous plant life was available and, for some unknown reason, placed the remains of whatever dead they had accrued through the winter in the endless series of caves littering the cliffs… sometimes rappelling down 250 meters to get to a prime burial spot.

Which was all very interesting on an anthropological level but, to Harry/Harad, it just meant there were too damn many people around.

“We’re going to land in the dark and I want to keep us as invisible as possible so, once we arrive, hold your position until your eyes have a chance to adjust.” They had oiled torches and flints to light them but that, to Harad, was like waving a red cape at a bull. “If we’re in the clear, than we start running scans for any non-indigenous life forms or… well… anything odd.”

Nods and murmurs of assent followed and then it was all over but the getting there. As the four took their places, each facing outward and, depending on the individual, weapons or covert tricorders to hand, Harry took a deep breath, “Energize,” he ordered.

In moments, the quartet had shimmered out of the 24th century…

… and into the damply smoking remains of what had, until recently, been a morayni of the Kitiran Yassryn, come to defend their honored dead.

Originally Posted 8/10/08 by Harry Finn

Near the Eastern Coast

Yurik had been hiding for a long time… the moons, softly glowing behind the now-tattered clouds had moved halfway across the sky while he’d remained buried beneath the drooping shelter of sweetgrass. Not sweet enough to cover the stench of death which had marked the Kitiran morayni’s violent passing.

Laying flat in the damp grass and fingering the small zuut at his side, the boy admitted to himself that Mynna was right… he was too young to stray so far from the sh’kesh… to follow the warriors to battle like a d'rag looking for easy meat… even if his bond-mother was part of the morayni…

He felt a betraying burning in his eyes and quickly blinked away any sign of emotion. Koryl had been a warrior and death in battle was her most likely path.

But surely, the younger part of Yurik thought, not this death. Not even the Azuchi’s recent depredations had been so…

“You shouldn’t be here.”

Yurik spat out a word that Koryl had strictly forbade him to use as he scuttled backwards, away from the tall warrior who had pushed aside the concealing grasses. Unfortunately, he only backed into the legs of another warrior… female and, he now realized, neither of these were of his tribe.

“Are you of the Azuchi yassryn?” he was proud that his voice shook only a little, “will you kill me, now?”

The two adults looked at one another, then the man who had first spoken shook his head, “We are traveler's, far from our herds; this was not our battle.”

“Nor, I think, was it yours,” the woman’s silken voice offered.

Yurik’s face went hot, “No… I followed… I come to my quest soon and wondered if mine would be the warrior’s path.”

Suddenly the man’s face was in front of his as he crouched down to Yurik's level and his eyes, dark in the darkness, were nonetheless hard, “Did you see this battle?”

The boy shook his head, “Only heard… it was not like… the Kitiran have been in battle before, against the Azuchi most lately… and there are the games but… whatever spirits guided these en’Hentuu are strong… and foul. They carried with them a stench…”

For some reason his ignorance eased the man. “I think that was a… a potion made by the enemy’s Hentari to put fear in the hearts of their foes.” He glanced up and Yurik, following the stranger's gaze saw two others approaching, “Is that not so, Jerad?”

"It is." The tall man who joined them moved with the grace of a hunter, surely he was highly skilled. "A cowards way to win."

The woman joined the first man on the ground next to Yurik and her voice washed over him like rainfall after a drought. "It would bring us honor if you would allow us to escort you back to your Yassryn."

The man looked less than pleased by her offer… at least Yurik thought so. Nonetheless, "Delan," he spoke as he rose, "are there any signs of the enemy… or…"

"N-n-noo.. Harad…" the fourth sputtered out. "Nothing…"

"Then we take the boy home," his hand reached down and Yurik surprised, took it without thinking.

"May I ask the gift of your name?" If one of the men had asked he might have hesitated, but the woman…exuded safe.


"Yurik." The Hunter joined them. "We must give warning, we are en'yassryn. We can escort you within sight of your sh'kesh without making contact to keep you from dishonor."

Yurik and the Warrior both looked at their linked hands and Yurik was shocked yet again by the lightning flash of a smile, "I will not tell if you do not."

In spite of everything, the loss and the fear, Yurik, nodding, smiled back.

JP with T'Shaini featuring NPC's Yurik of the Kitiran with Jason Hallows and Delano Mills
Originally Posted 8/11/08 by Harry Finn

:: USS Hawking ::
:: Captain's Ready Room ::

Reports from Deep Space Nine's encounter with the 'Circle' littered Nils' desk. He'd decided the best thing he could do was make himself an expert on the subject and on any subject that ran tangent to the subject…and any subject tangent to that. From the history he was reading he couldn't understand how Jaro Essa was allowed to walk free, much less orchestrate the activities of the supposed Alliance for Global Unity even to this day. It sickened the Bajoran that after so many years, there were still populations among his people who bought into the xenophobic propaganda. The scars of the Occupation ran deep…

"Come in," Nils called the moment his chime rang.

Bayal Paven entered somewhat timidly. "Do you know that even after all my time on this ship, this is my first time to the Bridge? I mean aside from the crew tours before we relaunched and rechristened her…"

"I didn't know that," Nils said with a crooked smile. He rose, quickly stepped around his desk and shook the man's hand.

"Congratulations, Captain Torrik," Bayal said kindly. "I've seen you sneak in and out of services, but never had a chance to offer my congratulations formally. It is good…that you are in Command."

"Maybe so," Nils answered half-heartedly. "I asked you to come up because I have a new job for you… It's not engineering related, but you might be the most qualified on the ship."

"I hope I can help," Bayal answered with a smile.

"First… You'll need to hear this…" The young CO stepped back to his desk and after sorting through the stack of PADDs, activated the one he was looking for.

Kamaal's recorded voice cut through the silence…

“…are in our employ. If our interpretations of the Prophecies are reliable, the item will be ours within the week and we can move to the next phase of…”

"The Prophecies she's referring to are Bajoran… And I'm far from familiar enough with them to make heads or tails of that the hell she's talking about." Nils exasperation was obvious.

"Hmmm… Nothing comes to mind… But that doesn't mean it won't. I'll be glad to work on this puzzle for you." His cheery demeanor had come to put Nils at ease, though upon their first few meetings it had done the opposite.

"Good," Nils said continuing in full business mode. "I'll upload mission data and everything we've got, along with some of my own analysis…" And he did, rather quickly in fact, passing one PADD over the next until the task was complete. "I hope your familiarity with the Bajoran Texts will make the job a little more manageable… And I can turn my attention elsewhere."

"It will be nice to read some of the great's again… Shabren… Horan… Trakor… Did you know that…"

"I'm sorry Bayal, but I don't have time to wax philosophical with you," Nils said, trying to sound gentle. But failing. "That's… That's the reason I asked you to do it… No time…"

"Very well," the computer technician said, unphased. "But if I may… You're going to lose your perspective if you keep going at this pace."

"My perspective on what?" Nils said quietly, a little ashamed.

"On everything…" The technician/cleric turned and waved his newly recieved PADD in the air. "I'll get back to you as soon as I've found something… And Captain… You need to clear you head. You should take a walk," he called brightly just before the doors shut between them.

Featuring NPC Bayal Paven
Originally Posted 8/12/08 by Torrik Nils

-USS Hawking-

"Then Captain Nathan Benjamin was the Commanding Officer of this vessel when I was brought aboard?" Siggy inquired of Javier, hovering three feet above the deck plates as he watched the Chief Engineer weld the framework for what the human had referred to as a 'motorcycle'. "That's right," Javier replied between the crack of the welding tool. The engineer had taken an unused section of the shuttle bay, close to the mechanic's area and transformed it into a small workshop. He had a number of toolboxes laying around, some which held tools that were useless because he was building the bike according to 20th century specs. Luckily, he had a fine socket set to utilize, courtesy of Jenny Anderson, and some other tools that the shuttle mechanics had lent him.

"Why was he replaced? Was he broken?" Siggy asked as he maneuvered to the side, moving out of the humans way.

Javier stood up as he surveyed his completed work. "No, not exactly, he was.." the engineer paused trying to figure out how best to explain his old captain's removal from command. "He was compromised."

"Ahhhhh." The sound was a digital sigh which struck Javier as funny but he didn't laugh. To laugh at that moment might have made the change in command seem flippant, which it was not. "He was made obsolete by the compromising of his systems," the floating sentient beacon stated.

"He wasn't made obsolete," Costala answered, irritation reflecting in his tone more than he had meant it to, "he was..Captain Benjamin was hurt and he defended himself and in doing so compromised himself.."

"Benjamin's replacement is here."

"Yeah, he's here, he's a friend..we used to be roommates before he got a promotion to…"

"No, he is present in this bay," Siggy explained, causing Javier to turn and look behind him. Torrik Nils was in the shuttlebay. The new CO was studying the shuttle that he and Jillian Munro had arrived on. Costala made his way over to the Vespucci. "Seems like a long time since that day we tractored you in, doesn't it?" he commented.

Gazing at the symbol of a simpler life, the Bajoran sighed. His finger traced a line along the side of the Vespucci and he smiled a little. "I don't remember the tractoring, actually," he commented before turning to face the 'other' former inhabitant of the small shuttle. "My atoms were cycling through the pattern buffer at that particular moment… But yeah… All of that does seem like a ridiculous amount of time ago." He took a few steps away from the craft and toward his friend. "Transporter crew says both teams are away… I've been poring over old reports and even older Bajoran Prophecies. I needed to take a walk."

"Right," Javier responded, "I saw T'Shaini to the transporter room then decided to come down here and tinker around." There was not a whole lot left for him to do in Main Engineering. The warpcore and the systems were running like clockwork. The teams had adjusted to one another over the past few weeks and everything was running smoothly in Javier's department. Mustapha, lord love him, had taken care of all the transfer and new crew paperwork during the time Javier had been in the regatta. "How does it feel to be one of the first Bajorans in Starfleet to command a starship?" Javier suddenly asked.

Nils shrugged it off. "I hadn't actually thought about it in those terms, I suppose. But so far commanding a starship doesn't feel good at all - no matter what planet I come from…" His voice trailed off and he kicked at the shuttlebay floor. "Although, I'm trying to stop complaining about it." He looked a little like a chastised child, though he didn't realize it. Fortunately his relationship with Javier allowed for him to be a little more relaxed… Or perhaps that was unfortunate. "I'll… (sigh) get through it. The Prophet's walk with me," he added by rote.

The Chief Engineer chuckled as he shook his head slowly in accepted disbelief. "Trust Torrik Nils to suck all the fun out of one of the greatest honors in Starfleet. You should learn to enjoy your laurels a little more. Scott's Ghost, you're the CO of one of the..of the finest ship in the Fleet and you're not happy about it??" Javier's tone sobered as his thoughts returned to Siggy's line of questioning.

"Is it because of how Captain Benjamin left?" he asked, before forging ahead to add, "That was Starfleet HQ's decision, my friend. When orders come down we follow them..we had a saying in the marines: 'We can't control anything but our cross-hairs.'" The engineer contemplated the statement, it seemed more poignant now than it had been when he first had heard it. "It's a simple way of looking at a complex situation. But helpful in that it reminds us to be concerned about the things that we have control over and not worry about the rest."

Nils nodded. "It's good advice," he admitted. Honestly, Captain Benjamin's untimely departure had left him reeling on several emotional fronts. Focus had always been a relative weakness even when things were running as expected. But in times of great need he could apply his intellect with the best of them. But more often than not, personal issues, or his own insecurities drew his 'eye from the prize,' as it were. "I suppose that's another thing the Prophets will have to teach me…in time."

"I always thought the Prophets were the ones who lived in the wormhole," Javier said, switching gears. "Can they travel beyond the wormhole? Or do they have some sort of power that lets them see what their followers are doing?"

Unsure whether or not he was being mocked Nils began speaking slowly at first. "The Prophets aren't necessarily bound by space and time like we are. I'm no Vedek so I can't give you any sound theology on the subject…" He paused then picked up a little more steam since it appeared Javi wasn't laughing and pointing fingers thus far. "But as a scientist I can explain how they exist outside the fabric of linear time and three dimensional space. It makes their existence less…limited. Are you familiar with the Q Continuum?"

"Ha, more than I would like to be," Javier interjected, before realizing the Hawking's brush with Q had taken place before Nils had joined the crew. "For about a week I was part of them; it was after we broke away from the Sentinel..near the robot planet. We had a run-in with Q after that and our reality got twisted around. I received Q's abilities for a week..and the blame for everything he orchestrated." Costala's hand rubbed his throat absentmindedly as the memory of an enraged Harry Finn trying to strangle him replayed in the engineer's thoughts. "That aside, the Prophets are like Q?" he asked, concerned that his friend would revere entities that were as fickle as Q.

"Not like the Q in any sense that we can recognize… I mean, they don't necessarily look like the Q or behave like him…them…" Talking about the Continuum was always peculiar. "But the Prophets aren't all that dissimilar either. They are very beyond ordinary reckoning. They take an interest in the lives of sentients. And sometimes they intervene. Not to mention that in order for them to exist outside the temporal and physical realm they have to bear certain similarities on a quantum level as well. They're both more and less than pure energy, yet maintain a cohesive consciousness. I'd also speculate that they exist in all possible dimensions as singular entities rather than multiple, and yet they maintain the ability to impact every brane of reality according to…well evidently at their whim." Nils smiled and quirked his eyebrow. "I didn't know you were part of the Q Continuum. I mean…were you actually a member or did you just have their…" The Bajoran waved his hand around as he searched for the right word. There wasn't one. "Their powers?"

"No one ever told me what being a member of the Q Continuum entailed so I don't know if I was a member or not," the engineer replied with the utmost sincerity. "I could sense things that were taking place beyond the realm of my perception, but I never was in contact with the other Q, just the one annoying guy." He was almost relieved that the Prophets were nothing at all like the Q, or a Q for that matter. "The thing I enjoyed the most was the ability to think of a place then go there..T'Shaini and I went to Central Park and my parent's home in Oporto on a whim." Javier's smile faded when he remembered the cold, almost cruel version of T'Shaini from the universe Q had created. Created? More like distorted. "I also managed to beat up Captain Benjamin and was on the brink of torturing Pev to death," he admitted in a quiet voice. "The hardest part of having all that power was not using it. At times it almost seemed as if anything I did to help the crew only made it worse on them." Javier's hand idly patted the side of the Vespucci as if the touch of something familiar would ground him. "I'm glad Q took it back."

After a few moments of silence Javier said, "So has anyone ever seen a Prophet?"

"Yes and no, actually." The scientist considered how to continue into more mystical areas, where he was much less comfortable. "They aren't beings of matter, so there really isn't anything to see. But they do take shape from time to time… At least they appear to. The Emissary saw the Prophets most. But they've been known to reveal themselves in Pagh'tem'far to a few others… That's like a holy vision," Nils added offhandedly. "That's not their primary means of revelation though. Over the last ten thousand years, they've sent the Bajoran people nine Orbs for imparting wisdom and guidance. And since the Prophets are non-corporeal, these physical items are highly revered as a means to touch the untouchable. Some of them were lost during the Occupation, though," the CO added, somewhat melancholy.

All of the questions suddenly made Nils wonder. Though they'd served together for some time now, they really never had the opportunity to speak on such a level. Or perhaps, the solitary Bajoran had avoided such a level, which was probably more likely. "Javier… Do you have a religion? I'm no scholar on the subject, but doesn't Earth have a great number of faiths that originated there?" The notion of one planet having so many different belief systems seemed almost absurd from his perspective.

"I think at one point we had quite a few," Javier agreed. "My mother still retains vestiges of some form of religion..Christianity, I think." The engineer remembered that his mother still said her prayers or 'crossed' herself when problems had threatened the household. His mother had taught Lia to say her prayers at night before bedtime. At first he had been skeptical but after watching the child beseech a higher power 'to help Autumn, Eli, Scotty, Kadence, Daddy and T'Shaini' it seemed petty to stop Lia from taking part in a religious act which allowed her to feel as if she was making a difference. "I tend to follow my father's line of thought, 'Trust to your wits and your strong right arm.' Or left, as the case may be."

Again Nils nodded. It was a practical viewpoint. In fact, not long ago it may well have defined his own perspective on the universe - minus the strong right arm and double the wits. But somehow the religion of his people had drawn him back. It had been gradual and definitely without his conscious decision to drive him there. But it had occurred none the less. "I'm sure that makes life simpler in many ways," the Bajoran conceded with a tight grin. "But I can't seem to escape from the grasp of the Prophets… Though I assure you I've tried…"

"I guess it would be difficult to escape something that is so much a part of your culture," Javier reckoned. He tried to think of how many Bajorans he knew and of that number how many were religious. Three. And all three believe in their Prophets. "It would be like me not knowing how to play Battleship," the engineer concluded. The look on Nils' features prompted further explanation from Javier. "Battleship was something my father and I would play on our lunch break to pass the time at the Lisbon Starport. It became our own observance you could say, not as significant as a religion but something that brought my father and I together, like your religion unites your people."

"Battleship?" Of course he knew what a Battleship was. They held prominent military roles throughout many culture's history. The Klingon's had them. The Jem'Hadar had them. Sometimes the Defiant class of the Federation were called battleships. But for the life of him, the Bajoran couldn't figure out what in the hell Javier was talking about. "Warships united your family?"

"Not just any warships, Battleship..the game?" he explained because Nils seemed confused. "Don't tell me you've never played Battleship before? Oh, Bajoran, right," the engineer said aloud as if explaining to himself why Torrik was not familiar with an Earth game. "Not even in the Academy? I know some of those classes were snoozers..no? Okay I have got to teach you this game. It's like dabo, poker and trilevel chess all rolled into one easy format but with ten times the excitement!" Javier exclaimed as he began to relate the intricacies of the game to his friend.

This short novel is brought to you by the CO and the CE.
Originally Posted 8/12/08 by Javier Costala


Harad’s eyes scanned the plains under the light of three moons, interspersed with the occasional cloud shadow. Behind him, the kid they’d picked up was (predictably) telling T’Shaini his life story.

“I have nine migrations beneath my boots and soon my path will be chosen,” the boy, Yurik, was saying proudly to T’Shaini when Harad pulled up short, causing a stumbling halt of the small party.

“What?” Jerad whispered from where he covered their six.

“Company, I think,” Harad replied, sword already drawn, “Delan?”

Incongruously, the large man looked to his shield, “Oh… boy.”

Harad rolled his eyes at the young man, “Meaning?”

But by then the plains around the en’yassryn and their charge had erupted… humps of grass became warriors, arrows notched to bows or zuuts drawn and, from behind a small copse of scrubby trees, an elderly woman walked… elderly but tall and with a distinct no-nonsense air about her.

She barely noted Harad’s sword or T’Shaini’s own arrow, notched before the first concealed Devanagari had come to full height.

“Yurik,” the woman snapped and, when the boy immediately stepped forward, she gave him the universal ‘disappointed’ face, “What would Koryl say…”

“Amma… Koryl walks the paths of the dead,” Yurik said, quickly, as if to avoid feeling what he voiced. “All the morayni do so.”

A soft sigh fled the woman’s… Amma’s… lips, “I know, child,” she said, not unkindly, “this I have seen, though not the means of their crossing.” Her face became troubled as her recent, and by far most potent, visitation by the ancestors came back upon her, “There is a darkness covering the Hentuu…” but it was not revealed if this darkness were related to the heightened aggressions of the Azuchi, who’s sh’kesh was but a day’s ride to the south.

“I did also see that these would bring you safe home,” and so saying the woman’s eyes briefly met Jerad’s, hesitated over Delan, slid past Harad and finally settled on T’Shaini, “Your coming was… shown to me… en’yassryn though you be, the spirits acknowledge you,” she didn’t seem pleased by the prospect. “It may be that there is a way for you to make recompense for your transgressions… perhaps even find the true path once again.”

Yurik looked thrilled… too bad none of the en’yassryn wanted to find their true path.

Harad stepped forward, “Our thanks but…”

“I was not speaking of you,” Amma’s cold words cut the air between the two.

It didn’t seem possible but Harad was almost certain he could hear Jerad puffing up with satisfaction.

It was obvious work but Amma took and held Harad’s gaze, “Your path is strewn with the dead,” she told him, “many by your own hand, and the rest by following your trail. I will not allow your path to cross the Kitiran’s.

“You three,” Amma continued, again as if the stricken warrior didn’t exist, “may walk in our sh’kesh until the sun reaches the mid-point of her path. In that time we may come to learn of one another… and perhaps together we will come to see what is this shadow which grows over the Hentuu.”

T’Shaini’s uncertainty was apparent… as was Jerad’s reluctance. This was the exact opposite of keeping a low profile. She looked to Harad, who, after a breathless moment, gave a barely perceptible nod and sheathed his zuut. “It is well,” he said to his companions, “All knowledge is useful,” he added by way of explanation, “I will wait, here and seek my own instruction from the stars.” He then adjusted his hood, making sure T’Shaini saw his hand pass over the space where his commbadge had been hidden.

Nodding her own understanding, T’Shaini stepped forward, followed by Delan and Jerad, the latter favoring the older man with a look. Yurik, who’d been struck dumb by Amma’s condemnation of his new friend, cast one long, lost glance over his shoulder as the Hentari of the Kitiran led the way to the sh’kesh.

In moments, the boy and his Hentari had crested a small swell of the plain and he, the three en’yassryn and the dozen or so hunters had faded away into the remains of the night, leaving Harad to contemplate his own, lonely path.

Originally Posted 8/13/08 by Harry Finn

The corridorsof the ship seemed empty in the early hours, and Vince was starting to feel alone as he walked them. He had felt alone for sometime now, but keep pushing himself along, knowing that he'd feel different eventually. The rounded a corner, and caught a short glimpse of someone going into their quarter's. Did anyone else feel like he did, or was he alone in his thoughts, just wandering the reaches of space, mentally alone, phisycally surrounded by emptiness from his fellow crew. He shook his head, running his hand through his hair, stepping into the turbo lift.

While the lift moved up, Vince thought back to his conversation with Scott. There was some kind of away mission going on, and for the first time in quite qwhile, he hadn't been asked to be a part of it. Why would they just pass him by, and leave him on a orbiting ship, one that really doesn't need a person at the helm, with the most exciting part of the shift being a minor course change. He leaned against the wall, still in thought. The doors opened, and Deck 1 stared back at him. He stepped off the lift, and headed towards the bridge doors.

As the doors opened, the bridge revealed itself, and the activity was just as Vince thought it would be, slow and unexciting. He walked past the Captain's seat, and over to the helm, which was being watched by Lt. Ven. At the sight of Vince, Ven stood up and headed towards the exit of the bridge. Vince watched as the man walked off the bridge, suprised at the lack of a briefing about where they were, what the course was, or any changes that had to be made during the shift. He just shook his head, and sat down in the seat.

He stared down at the controls, and immediatly had to make a course change, tapping a couple buttons, hen confriming the course correction. He looked up at the view screen, realizing the reason why he was sitting where he was at the moment. He loved to fly, and he loved the feel of a big ship at his finger tips, making it move gracefully through the air, or jerking it out of the way of oncoming threats. He glanced back down towards the console, and noticed that a more efficient coursecould be set, increasing the ships connectivity with the away team, and allowing a better chance of not wasting any of their resources.

Vince tapped some more buttons on the console, and felt the ship move ever so slightly, but enough for someone that knew what to feel for could feel. The task gave Vince what he had always felt being at the helm, a sense of control, and knowing that so much could ride on his decsign on what course to lay, or what action to take.

A few more taps on theconsole,and Vince had locked in the location of the away team. He entered the coordinates into the the flight control system, tying it into the cousre correction that he had already set, and nowthe system would act more efficently. He brought up a detailed description of the course, breaking it down over the next few hours, assuring the ship's location would never cause a blackout, thus putting the team in danger.

When everything was confirmed, he streched his legs out, and put his hands behind his head,locking his fingers together. There were other things that he could be doing at the moment, but his place was behind the helm, ensuring the ship would never come in harms way, oratleast try to keep anything from happening to the Hawking, or the away team……….

Originally Posted 8/14/08 by Vince Stryfe

At the entrance of the Kitiran sh'kesh

Uneasy, T'Shaini followed Amma, oddly reassured by Yurik's presence beside her. She was uncertain what she was supposed to accomplish, the Vulcan had assumed her role in this mission was one of subordinate and had not given enough forethought to shift seamlessly into another position. She also realized that for most this would not be an issue, they would 'improvise'. The small grumble that accompanied that thought had Yurik looking up at her questioningly.

"Do you not wish to leave Harad behind? Are you concerned for his safety?"

Focus. "I am not concerned for his safety, he is a great warrior who can well take care of himself, but no, I did not wish to leave him behind." Jason, Jerad…she reminded herself, fell into step beside them. The counselor rather felt like she was flanked with two, very disparate, bodyguards. The feeling was completed by Delan who, stumbling forward a few steps, moved into position behind her. T'Shaini threw an approving look over her shoulder and was rewarded by a shy smile that lit his face. Javier was right…'he's just extremely introverted..you can tell by his speech, then there are times when the look on his face clue in that he's with you. At those times, he's probably five miles ahead of everyone else.'

Amma, who had been Hentari of the Kitiran for… she grimaced… over forty migrations, glanced covertly back at their foundlings. En'yassryn they may be but, except for their bloody leader, she sensed little of the way-breaker in any of them. Some fear, some pride, some… anger, certainly but nothing that could not be shed. Turning towards her own home, she gestured to her escort that they were released, but for the two who would stand sentry over these visitors. "We will take tea in my sh'kesha'a," she announced, "We four," she clarified to the eager youngling, "Yurik, you must return to your sibs and speak not of what you have seen… it is for those who already have their paths to tell."

T'Shaini stopped and inclined her head toward the youngster. "Thank you, you have brought us great honor by your willingness to see what others will not."

"I… I… you are most welcome," the boy managed to grasp the basics of good manners, "I hope our paths cross again, under better skies." T'Shaini's words almost… almost made up for being sent off to bed.

The counselor struggled with the urge to hug the boy, she was quite sure that he would consider himself too 'far along in migrations' to be treated like a child, so she simple bowed. Watching the boy make his way through the encampment, T'Shaini murmured almost under her breath. "The future of the Kitiran is full of promise."

"If it is allowed to flourish," Amma's voice cut in. "Which, if this darkness is not sped, will not be. Come… we have much to explore and little time," for already she saw the blush of the sun rising from her slumber in the great Ahmadiyya.

"What makes you doubt that?" T'Shaini blurted out as she hurried after the Hentari. At Jason's look she added. "If I may be so forward, being only en’yassryn."

Amma spun back on T'Shaini so quickly the other woman almost tripped to a halt, "You are far more than that," the old woman said, though softly, "If the spirits see fit to bring you to my attention…" the black eyes bored into T'Shaini's, "and they were right to do so. You have walked the left-hand path… you have seen what may not be seen… in your own soul and other's… for others." She paused a moment but her eyes didn't leave the younger woman's, "Then I see what must be done," she turned again and parting one last draping barrier, opened the way to a space filled with color, varying shades of light and speaking of home.

The deep probing of the Hentari should have set the Vulcan on edge, but somehow it was as if she had been enfolded in a warm blanket, and that feeling only escalated in the sh'kesha'a of the older woman. Oh oh. Now she wanted, she needed to help these people, and T'Shaini had a feeling this was not what Harry was going to want to hear when they returned.

Gesturing towards the small mountain of pillows, Amma strode to her cask of medicines. Lifting the lid she said a soft prayer to the ancestors and withdrew the small pouch of enokitake, dried and powdered to its purest state. "Your coming was pronounced to me by the ancestors," she echoed her earlier statement as she returned her attentions to the en'yassryn, "which means your paths have not yet been erased. It also means," she took and held each of the trio's gaze for a moment, "that your paths may well widen ours. You," she pointed to the youngest male who jumped a bit at the attention, "and you," now her finger, like a divining rod, landed upon the ever-cool Jerad, "will attend Laerta, the Kitiran hunt leader. She will tell of the strange happenings of the summer.

"You," Amma now focused on T'Shaini and holding up the medicine bag, "you will go questing with me. Together we may find the brighter path."

Jason took a step toward T'Shaini, he was uncomfortable with how they were getting split into smaller and smaller groups. Any advantage they had was dissipated with every move. He started to open his mouth to argue when the obvious calm acceptance of the Vulcan made him hesitate. Of course she is calm, she is a Vulcan. Then the entrance of a young male who had been summoned, How? How was he summoned? Jesus, this woman is freaky. to escort them to Laerta made Jason keep his concerns to himself…well almost. With what he hoped read as 'I will only be a short distance away if you need me' look, he followed Delan and the young man outside.

"I know not what turnings brought you and these together," Amma said as the two men left, "but they all have great faith in you… as must I, now."

"I pray to the ancestors that I am found worthy of undertaking whatever task that must be done." Oh yes, Harry is going to be angry. Then the Vulcan winced internally. I wonder if this is what Javier was referring to when cautioning me not to be reckless…

JP with HarryAmma…harryamma amma amma hari haari

Originally Posted 8/14/08 by T'Shaini

:: A TEAM ::

The shock of materializing into a wet and dark environment sent instant chills up Jillian's spine. She looked worriedly around the pitch black surroundings when she heard the first roar of rolling thunder. Thick sheets of rain hammered down on their heads, soaking their clothing through to the skin. Jillian reached under her furry hide hat and wiped away the beads of rain that threatened to drown her eyes, "Nobody thought to bring an umbrella?" She called out. Obviously a standard issue starfleet umbrella would be unacceptable but the thought of treking through this freezing torrential downpour almost made her say to hell with the prime directive.

Kyle Ellison, El'san for the duration of this trip, immediately flanked the doctor, they'd materialized on a high plateau above what, in the brief flashes of lightning, appeared to be some prime grazing land… he thought he might even see some mammalian lumps out there… but with no viable light sources, it would be easy enough to step wrong. "Hold position!" he yelled out. Fehr had been positioned at El'san's three o'clock and wouldn't have seen the drop. "wait for your eyes to adjust before you move!"

Over the din of thunder he thought Kal-El might be grumbling over the hard-to-access tricorders but then, if Kal-El wasn't grumbling, the universe had probably ceased to expand.

A sudden fork of lightening split the sky directly in front of them and the crisp night was lit brightly for a moment. Seconds later an explosive loud clap of thunder shook the ground, followed by subsequent low rumblings in the distance which only added to the alarm. Slowly, Jillian's eyes began to adjust. She squinted her eyes towards the steep bank, "We've got to get going!" She looked up at Kyle, "This rain and these hills…", she pointed down toward the land below and shook her head, "…I've got a bad feeling about this."

"Yes, ma'am," he replied, finishing the head count he'd begun at the last blast of electricity and was pleased to see that both Fehr and Esperanza… Spera, had closed in on Schaeffer. Finn had been very specific about her ability to find trouble… er, her safety. He waited for Munro/J'lian to begin to back away from the precipice but, even as she slid past him, another, quite literally earth-shattering rumble exploded across the atmosphere and the sodden, overburdened ground beneath their feet simply dissolved. Before either the security officer of the doc could react they were sliding, tumbling and concussing their way down and down to where the… not antelope but their distant six legged cousins… played.

Rocks and rubble struck Jillian from all sides until her fall was broken by a hard collision with the creature. She ricocheted off the beast and in a puddle of mud. Her small body was suddenly paralyzed by fear, "Is everyone OK?" she yelled.

El'san, rolling painfully to his feet, stumbled to where the doctor was shouting, right next to a slowly waking… really big thing and grabbed the woman's arm, pulling her back. "We should probably not be making a lot of noise, just now, ma'am," he said into her ear. They should also get away from the cliffside, which could dump more land… or worse, the rest of their party… on top of their heads.
There was another low rumbling sound but this one was a great deal more, organic, than that provided by the storm. He thought it might have come from the giant hairball J'lian had landed on. "That's not a good sound."

Jillian tilted her head sideways and listened. As if on cue, a lone creature stepped into visibility, watching them. Behind it they could head the sounds of splashing water, it wasn't alone, that she was sure of. Keeping her eyes on the beast, the doctor slowly gripped the zuut that was fastened to her belt. Out of the corner of her eye should could see Kyle, who already had his weapon in ready stance. There were three now, and they were slowly making their way towards the team of two. A fourth emerged from the darkness.

Kyle's eyes darted from one snarling bag of teeth to the next and beyond. He had the curved blade, he'd lost the bow in the fall. Cautiously, his left hand started for the concealed phaser but the nearest predator didn't feel like waiting and he was diving sideways and slashing at the thing's belly as it leaped to exactly where the tall Human had been standing just half a second prior. "Try to get your phaser," he ordered as the rain washed drops of carniverous blood from his face and he tried to cover Jillian from the three remaining critters.

She set the phaser to kill and aimed it at the closest beast. It snarled back. They stalked forward, hackles raised. Their heads were low to the ground and their red eyes watched them warily. Jillian held the phaser at the ready with both hands, determined to kill. One of the creatures sprang at her from the right. Her weapon caught the creature in the side, deflecting the attack and eliciting a yelp as it fell back towards the ground. It didn't get up again, but the other two moved in at once, furious with howls and excited by the smell of blood. One of them caught hold of Kyle's left ankle while he aimed his phaser. Unable to hold the phaser steady, he instead sent the weapon crashing down against the side of its head, knocking it loose and away from him. Jillian jumped backwards as the last beast lunged toward her. It dug its claws into the side of her face and pulled back. She screamed, unable to move from the weight of its body against her chest. Suddenly a flood of warm liquid washed across her face, and the weight went limp. She pushed herself out from under the animal and scurried backwards with her hands on the ground. She looked up at Kyle, her chest heaving from adrenaline. Gripping his leg with one hand and his sword in the other, he looked down at the headless remains of the monster who had, moments before, took a swipe at Jillian's face.

"Shit!" he dropped to one knee, "Comand.. J'lian," stay in character one never knew if there was someone around to hear and thinking that, Kyle stashed his phaser back in it's hiding place, "how bad is this? Do you need an extraction?" Hard to see, in the rain and the dark… was that her blood?

Jillian swallowed hard. She reached up to touch her own face expecting a cluster of exposed nerves to send shooting pain throughout her face. But no pain came. With utter surprise she sat up straight and felt around with both hands. A soft smile crept across her face, "Dermatirailian plasticsine…" Her second face had saved her from being cut open.

"Gesundheit," he said, offering a hand up. "We need to contact Hawking… it's too risky to tag the rest of the team… I don't think any of the locals would be out and about in all this, the sword gestured towards the rain and the mudslide and the dead carnivores, "but there's no…" his words trailed off as he realized that the doctor didn't just have two faces… she had an extra leg. "J'lian," he pulled her towards him and saw… "ohhh, crap." Then he sheathed his sword and started to dig hoping that whomever was beneath the mound of earth was still breathing… and that whomever hadn't also seen them zapping the local fauna with their phasers. Jillian got down beside him and began pulling the earth away from the body. A hand suddenly burst out from within the dirt, she immediately grabbed it, "It's OK, we're going to get you out of here." Kyle stabbed the dirt with his arms and pulled up underneath the Devanagari's back, revealing a young female, blinking away the mud and shaking and struggling as her lungs expanded to take in as much air as possible.

Setting the young woman down, he glanced over at the doctor, "J'lian," his voice was harsh in the wet darkness, "cover yourself." The last thing they needed were tales of the mutant Devanagari spirit quester crossing the plains ahead of them. He briefly thought about calling for a transport but Ellison hadn't yet become so hardened that he'd leave this girl alone in the storm to die. "Crap," he whispered again as the now carefully hooded Dr. Munro began to tend her newest patient.

A joint post by Jillian and Kyle Ellison (powered by Harry)
Originally Posted 8/14/08 by Jillian Munro


"Light tropical showers," Kal-El grumbled as the security officers yelled about staying together. "And a nice spring breeze." The wind whipped at his clothing something fierce. A bolt of lightning struck the plateau in the distance. "Just a little light show for the tourists," Kowalski remarked in a falsetto tone as he mimicked Tommy Jenkins, the transporter officer. He held his shield up to keep the rain off his face then thought, And that's when lightning struck the engineer who used his shield as an umbrella. Kal-El lowered his shield. He shifted his weight and was pushed off balance as a gust of wind drove him forward. With a curse Kal-El tripped over the clunky hide shoes on his own feet and fell face forward into the soup that the ground had become.

"Way to go, Grace." Kerrin thanked God for letting her be close enough to see that in this him forsaken weather. Reaching out a hand to help him up she frowned in thought. "This is unusual for this time of year, something odd is going on…weather-wise, I mean."

The anthropologist's cutting remark caused Kal-El to pull at the pro-offered hand just a little more than he might have if Schaeffer wouldn't have said anything at all. The woman took a dive into the earthy gloop. "Oh doctor, you seem to have lost your footing," Kal-El stated smugly. "The weather is a bit wet isn't it?"

Scraping a glob of mud off her nose she flicked it in his smarmy-ass direction. "I hope you realize this means war…"

"Children, children." Fehr stepped in are raised his voice to be heard over the wind and the rising temper of Dr. Schaeffer. "Am I going to have to separate you?" His teeth gleamed bright in the murk. "I would offer to spank you to make you behave Doctor, but I am certain our XO would object."

"I'd object too," Kowalski said, "on the grounds that I'd lose my lunch at having to view such a spectacle." He shakily regained his footing, slipping in some mud but getting a helping hand from one of the other security officers. He flipped open his trusty tricorder shield and took some readings of their surroundings. "There's some shelter about half a click.." The sudden rumble of shifting earth interrupted the engineer. He looked up in time to watch as the silhouettes of two of their group were swallowed up by the ground. "What the..?" Kale-El ventured forward but quickly moved back as the ground beneath his feet threatened to give way. In the next flash of lightning he was able to see that the ground on which the two officers had been standing had shifted to the bottom of a ravine. Kal-El couldn't even see the two people and the walls were too steep to scale down. He scanned the area with his tricorder. "I've got lifesigns! They're down there..way down there."

"How do we get to them?" Kerrin was annoyed by the arm holding her back no matter how much that little logical voice in her head knew Fehr was right.

"The walls are too steep and slick for us to get down there without ropes," Hammish assessed as he looked down into the dark opening. "If we try now we may not make it or injure ourselves in trying to help them."

"We can return once the rain has let up..and there's a little more light?" Kowalski suggested.

"And let god knows what happen to them?" Kerrin all but shouted.

Fehr gave the agitated woman a little shake to get her attention. "Ellison is down there, Kal-El has registered life signs, they are neither children nor helpless. If the situation is truly dire he will call back to the Hawking to be beamed up." Feeling her start to calm he pushed further. "What is more important, that we keep the team together or that we continue on our objective?"

"The mission comes first," Kal-El said, and then added, "the Devangari come first."

Kerrin went limp in Fehr's arms. "Right, you are right." She shook off his grip and stepped away from him. "So what next? Do we wait until morning or do we press on and try to find the Azuchi?"

"Wait out here?" Kal-El said in disbelief. "I strongly recommend.." He paused as a peal of thunder interrupted him then said, "I recommend we find shelter then find the Azuchi." There was a muddy taste in his mouth. Kowalski spat. "Eurgh."

"South." Kerrin said in a voice thick with defeat. "The Azuchi are encamped to the south."

All during this exchange 'Spera' had been scanning the surroundings. "The plateau slopes down southwards, if we follow it down we should be getting out of the worst of the weather, have a chance to find a place to shelter and heading toward the Azuchi." He checked in with the group before continuing. "Sounds good to me."

"Like I said, half a click away," Kal-El said for the benefit of everyone. "Can we go now? My hides aren't getting any drier." He sniffed the fur sleeve of his Devangari shirt. "And they smell rank."

The whole group began to move in the direction indicated and dragging slightly behind Kerrin grumbled under her breath. "Are you sure it isn't the stench of your rotten disposition."

JP by the B-sides of the A-team
Originally Posted 8/14/08 by Javier Costala

:: Girijan ::

Having settled himself in a defensible cranny of rock which overlooked the strictly 'no-Harad' zone of the Kitiran's sh'kesh, Harry activated his 'comhood'. =/\=Finn to Hawking=/\=

The comm came through to Jezera just as she'd finished reallocating personnel to man the transporters in case of emergency beamout. Better safe than sorry was her mantra. "Hawking… Let me locate the captain for you, Lt. Finn." With a few deft flicks of her wrist she'd garnered the information from the ship's computer and routed the communication directly to the Captain. "Jezera to Captain Torrik. The First Officer is reporting in."

=/\= Patch it through, =/\= Nils said eagerly. He was greatly anticipating this comm.

"Aye sir…" And once again a few finger slides and the XO was patched into the Commanding Officer. "You are patched through…"

=/\= Torrik to Finn… Report. =/\=

=/\=We were too late,=/\= the terse reply came through =/\=The team arrived in the remains of what had been a skirmish party of one of the local clans… eighteen foot-soldiers, all dead, all exsanguinated by as-yet unknown means. There were some wounds which indicated weapons not of local design so, despite indications of a local turf war, I don't believe these people were killed by their neighbors. Also unfortunately, there was some low-grade interference in the area… the tricorders couldn't isolate anything… local, alien… nothing. It read to Delan… to Mills like white noise but it eased off about two kilometers inland.=/\=

Nils sighed, and the depth of disappointment that breath conveyed carried through the combadge to the other end. =/\= That's… Unfortunate. If that attack was from Kamaal's people that means you're close though… Try to… Just… Damage control, Harry. Any contact with other locals? And if so are your disguises holding up? =/\=

There was a pause which lasted a few beats too long before =/\=There was a kid… a boy name of Yurik, roughly nine years old. We found him near the massacre but luck was with us there, he didn't see anything, though he did hear it. He said it sounded… and smelled… unfamiliar. We escorted him back to his people… the Kitiran… and, from the surface, yeah, I'd say the cover's working but… listen, I thought I covered the Vulcan intell pretty carefully… did I miss the section on telepathy as an indigenous trait?=/\=

=/\= Telepathy? =/\= One very brief scan of his own memory confirmed his next statement. =/\= There was nothing on telepathic ability. In fact, the Vulcans found very little note-worthy information. Fortunately a Vulcan cursory evaluation is pretty extensive, but they didn't dwell in the area very long. And they mentioned nothing… anomalous. =/\= If the locals were telepathic that meant their disguises would be useless eventually. And that altered the equation radically to the Commanding Officer. =/\= We may need to reevaluate or methodology… What makes you think they are extra-sensory? =/\=

=/\=That's the weird part… well, one of the weird parts…when we returned Yurik to his sh'kesh… his people were waiting for us… specifically for us. One of them, a woman named Amma, told T'Shaini that…=/\= there was moment of dead air and when Harry continued there was a detectable strain in his voice =/\=she said that, en'yassryn though we… they… were, the spirits acknowledged them. She didn't behave as if we were alien… or out of place or anything but she knew…=/\= there was another break though, this time, the space was filled with a quiet curse, =/\= Nils, are you alone?=/\=

A brief pause followed. =/\= I am now… What's wrong? =/\=

=/\=This Amma woman… had to be the clan's Hentari… either she has a very selective brand of ESP or there are spirits and…. okay, she told me that she won't allow my my 'path' to cross that of her clan… they have a thing about paths by the way… anyway, the other three were given a temporary pass into the sh'kesh while I was very coolly informed that my path was 'strewn with the dead'… many by my own hand and many who were… who were following my trail.=/\= Harry's voice halted abruptly but was soon back, =/\=So, you know, casting-wise… you couldn't get more en'yassryn than that but, how did she know? And if she knows… that… why doesn't she know everything?=/\=

Nils let the information bounce around in his head for a moment. He knew that in this universe there were nothing but possibilities. And having himself experienced a few 'mystical' moments in Pagh'tem'far and prayer, he was open to a vast array of unknown. As a scientist also knew there was always an explanation. And perhaps the key to their success rested in that explanation. =/\= Fascinating, =/\= he commented as a footnote to his thoughts. =/\= If this woman has insight, perhaps she can fill in some blank spots in our tricorder readings…so to speak. Since you are persona non grata, suggest that T'Shaini seek some answers regarding Kamaal… And the artifact. =/\= That course toed the line of the Directive he was hell bent on keeping in his own estimation. But he thought it might be the only way.

=/\=T'Shaini's already out of range… we had to make an immediate call on the invite and I went for it… Amma wanted to discuss the 'shadow' growing over their 'Hentuu' which, given what we've seen so far, could easily be Kamaal. T'Shaini's with it enough to dig for what we need discretely and I'm in a position to observe, so if anything goes pear-shaped, I'll know soon enough. Once the rest of the team returns, I want to head back to those cliffs. And, when Kerrin's group checks in, make sure they're informed.=/\=

=/\=That sounds good. Keep us informed as well. I'd like to prevent any of this from unraveling any further. Eighteen dead… =/\= The weight of the unnecessary loss of life pulled at Nils' tone. =/\= I know I don't have to tell you this, Harry… But use force if necessary. If she's killed, she'll kill again. The damage they're doing must be halted. The alien involvement necessitates our intervention. =/\= He was trying to convince himself more than the Executive Officer. Nils considered broaching the subject of Harry's path 'strewn with the dead' but he decided it could wait. And more than likely that bundle of knowledge fell under Vail's super secret classified pile of vole sh*t. =/\= Anything else? =/\=

Well, it was nice to know he had permission to use more than his basilisk glare against the mercenaries… =/\=Unless you want a report on the ferret-like thing that's currently looking me over, that's all I got. I'll check in again in two hours… ish… Finn out.=/\= He met the creature's beady little gaze, "So, what are you looking at?"

First report by Harry Finn to Torrik Nils

Originally Posted 8/15/08 by Torrik Nils

Unhelpful Tears

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