USS ANUBIS - Mission 15
Peace Negociations
POST INDEX
Post # Character Title
001 Morningstar Time To Move On
The ANUBIS heads outfor its next mission
002 Shar'El Elasian Tactical Review
Shar'El reads the info on the Elasian factions
003 Lopez Professional Assessment
Adriana and Xana talk about the mission
004 Ya'Han Elasian Combat Training
Ya'Han trains and ends up in Sickbay
005 Maya Tears Can Be A Dangerous...
Maya researches Elasian bio-engeneered weapons
006 Bonviva Agita
Xana starts the search for Amanda
007 Shar'El Digging Up Dirt
Shar'El gathers intel on the Elasian
008 Bruxa Stomach Churning
Satella reads the Elasian's bioengineering work
009 Stark The List
Xana gives Jayson a list of items to get
010 Shar'El A Friendly Chat
Shar'El seeks out Ya'Han to speak to her
011 Paquette The Mother of All Talks
Ya'Han goes to see Sonja
012 Bonviva Who Is Rilliz?
Xana gets a call from her son
013 Lopez Counseling The Junior...
Adriana fights with Amanda
014 Bonviva Reveange
Xana talks to Adriana and then to Erik
015 Morningstar A Universe of Uncertainty
Two Elasian Destroyers rush in to intercept
016 Bruxa Rapid Modifications
Erik informs Satella and Shar'El of his plan
017 Bonviva The Biscotti Talks
Xana and Adriana contemplate their next move
018 Lopez Reachin Out
Adriana and Xana contact War Master Daanold
019 Shar'El Jumping Ship
Shar'El heads for one of the Elasian Destroyers
020 Ya'Han Tracking
Ya'Han tracks Shar'El and the Elasian Destroyers
021 Bonviva Who We Need You To Be
The Ambassadorial team received two calls
022 Shar'El Inside Intel
Shar'El makes contact with an Intel operative
023 Bruxa Unnerving Stillness
Satella waits in Sickbay for what may come to pass
024 Ya'Han Waiting
Ya'Han and Jayson banter on the bridge
025 Shar'El Plan B
Shar'El receives an update from her contact
026 Maya C is for Covert Approach
Maya offers a new plan
027 Lopez Deliberating
Adriana watches as the SPHINX gets ready to go
028 Stark Emotions
Jayson gets to speak to Ya'Han before she leaves
029 Bruxa Frightening Fragility
Satella meets the 2 Marines Rebecca and Grace
030 Ya'Han Grim
Ya'Han goes to see Satella for her cosmetic surgery
031 Bonviva Hidden
Xana and Adriana contact the Faction Leaders
032 Paquette Inconceivable
Sonja voices her concerns at everything going well
033 Shar'El Jolan-Tru
The SPHINX pickes up a coded Romulan signal
Post # Character Title
034 Lopez Killing Time
Adriana has concerns about their mission
035 Bruxa Last but not Least
Satella convinces Maya to undergo the procedure
036 Shar'El Madness
The extration team arrives at ELAS
037 Ya'Han Need To Know
Ya'Han ad Shar'El go to the tavern
038 Bruxa Obmutescent
Satella monitors te situation with Ya'Han and Shar'El
039 Lopez Pledge
Xana and Adriana arrive on ELAS
040 Bonviva Questions and Qualms
Adriana and Xana get searched
041 Shar'El Rescued
Shar'El and Ya'Han find Lujem
042 Lopez Sad Stinky Situation
Things turn ugly for Xana and Adriana
043 Bruxa Tenuous Tranquility
Satella wants someone to do something
044 Bonviva Unreachable and Undaunted
Xana and Adriana discover an interesting graffiti
045 Shar'El Vehement Veracity
Shar'El and Ya'Han find unexpected company
046 Paquette Wineless Woman
Sonja and Ani go after Shar'El and Ya'Han
047 Ya'Han X Marks The Spot
The away team decides on a new plan of action
048 Shar'El You Know You Are In...
The away team runs into trouble
049 Bonviva Zuzim
Sonja & Ani join the team faced by the Brute Squad
050 Ya'Han Anxiety And Anticipation
Ya'Han prepares for a fight
051 Shar'El Bravado or Bold Betrayal
Shar'El meets with Tarken
052 Lopez Completely Crazy Concept
The team is trapped in the building
053 Bruxa Doubts, Dread and Danger
Satella is getting increasingly concerned
054 Bonviva Elegant Equation
Xana and Adriana lead the peac talks
055 Shar'El False Forum
The peace talks stall
056 Lopez Gut Grinding
Adriana and Ya'Han have a chat
057 Ya'Han Hesitations and Headaches
Ya'Han makes a surprising discovery
058 Bruxa Inconceivable Imaginings
A new plan to devised to deal with the clones
059 Bonviva Jaded Justice
The delegates are forced into giving a blood sample
060 Shar'El Killer Knockout Kiss
A clone is discovered amongst the delegates
061 Maya Leaping Ladies
Maya runs after the escaped clone
062 Bruxa Medical Misery
A clone kills one of the faction leaders
063 Morningstar Needs of Necessity
Peace talks are finally successful
064 Bonviva Outreach
Xana contacts her children, then Adriana
065 Ya'Han Paranoid Posture
Ya'Han is obsessed with the Lokustaar on board
066 Lopez Quenched Queries
Xana and Adriana share a few drinks
M15-P001: USS ANUBIS: Morningstar: 34020.1400 ("Time To Move On")
##########
"Time To Move On"
Previous posts (ANU) "Loose Ends" / (BAS) "We Lost Paradise But Found Something Better"
##########

"The greatest challenge in any diplomatic negotiation is to actually get everyone to sit at the same table without them trying to destroy the building that it is in."
- Ambassador Karnakos, special Federation envoy to ELAS

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge 
Stardate: 34020.1400

The Native American Captain sat in his chair at the center of the bridge, leaning slightly forward with the weight of his torso resting on his left elbow which was firmly planted on the armrest. Seeing the man in this particular position could indicate a myriad of things dealing with the past, the present as well as the future, and the odds were good that it was all three. Their mission to OLTHAR PRIME had been an interesting one, to say the least, concluding in the most unexpected of ways. Some had died in the most horrific ways imaginable, some had sacrificed themselves for love, and some even managed to come back from death to once again stand amongst the living. One man had moved on and left the ANUBIS to be with the woman he loved so that the two of them could have a better future together while one woman decided to stay to help shape a better future for her protégé.
 
Now it was time for the USS ANUBIS to leave OLTHAR PRIME behind and head to their next mission, this one on a planet called ELAS, the homeworld of the Elasian who were facing the horrors of a civil war.
 
"Operations?" Erik demanded.
 
"All systems are showing ready, Sir," the recently promoted Chief of Operations replied.
 
"Tactical?" The Captain requested next.
 
"All offensive and defensive systems are at full battle readiness, Captain," the Chief of Security who had also been recently promoted to the rank of Lieutenant stated.
 
"Bridge to Main Engineering, how are we doing down there?" The Native American asked next, realizing that he had just contacted the three officers who stood a little taller than before thanks to their promotions.
 
=/\= How do you think we're doing down here? =/\= The newly minted Lieutenant Commander shot back sounding rather upset. =/\= You are up there sitting on the bridge while I am down here working my fingers to the bone to get everything up and running because let's face it, I have to meet your expectations. Now, Captain, do me a favour and try not to break anything this time. It would be nice to be able to make it through just one mission without my having to replace half of the power conduits, shield generators or replace some control panel that exploded in someone's face. =/\=
 
"Does that mean we are ready to leave orbit?" the Captain asked, rolling his eyes and shaking his head. It was hard to believe that someone like Sonja Paquette could ever be on a Starfleet vessel, but as shown by her new rank, the woman was good at what she did and that granted her a fair amount of leeway with the rest of the crew including the Commanding Officer.
 
=/\= Of course we are ready to leave orbit, =/\= the Chief Engineer replied suddenly sounding hyper joyous. =/\= Warp and transwarp speeds are available at your discretion, Captain, and by that, I don't mean it in the USS EXCELSIOR kind of way. If I tell you that it is ready to work, it's because it's ready to work. =/\=
 
"Very well," Erik said understanding the obscure historical reference made by Sonja. "Helm set course for the planet ELAS, warp 8. Engage when ready." The curved azure horizon of the planet quickly slid to one side of the main view screen to be replaced by a magnificent field of stars that also vanished soon after replaced by the streaking multicoloured lines indicative of the ship traveling faster than the speed of light.
 
"At our current speed and heading, we should reach ELAS in four days," Lieutenant Stark reported.
 
"A lot of things could happen in four days," Counsellor Lopez said from the back of the Bridge. "I hope that we will arrive in time to stop the war before it starts."
 
"So do I Counsellor, but if you want this ship to go faster, you will have to take it up with our Chief Engineer," the Native American added.
 
"Four days will do just fine, Captain," the woman added making it known by her reply that she had been on the bridge long enough to have heard the earlier exchange between the Sonja and Erik. "Now that we are on our way, could I take a few moments of your time?"
 
"Of course," the Native American said as she stood from his chair and began to make his way to the Ready Room before suddenly stopping to look at the woman. "Just for the record, will this be as this Ship's Counsellor or as the ANUBIS' official Junior Ambassador?"
 
"If it is all right with you, I would like to speak to you on a personal matter, therefore, to answer your question, I would like to speak to you as Adriana Lopez," the woman replied taking the Captain and everyone else present on the Bridge by surprise.
 
"By all means," Erik said inviting Adriana to step into his office once the door opened.
 
=====
 Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
 Stardate: 34020.1410 
 
"Is everything all right?" Erik inquired. It was strange to have the Lieutenant JG in his office like this, especially after seeing her more assertive side in action.
 
"Everything is fine Captain and is part of the reason why I wanted to speak to you. I know that my recent actions have not been beyond reproach and I am also aware that this whole Junior Ambassador thing has not made things between Admiral Koniki and yourself any easier," Adriana said trying to work up to some sort of an apology.
 
"Let me make this easier for you," the Native American said with a reassuring smile as he approached the visibly nervous woman. "Things between Koniki and I have never been smooth at the best of times. The man has his way of doing things, which usually revolves around working in the shadows found behind the scenes without letting others know what he is planning. Me, on the other hand, I prefer a more direct and upfront approach. As for what happened on OLTHAR PRIME, I can give you the official statement, which is the same one that was entered in my Captain's log, or I could give you my personal opinion. Which would you prefer?"
 
"To be perfectly honest, I am not sure which of the two sounds scarier," Adriana said forcing a smile to appear on her lips.
 
"Officially, I had to state my disappointment in your performance, especially in taking matters into your own hands without checking with me or Commander Shar'El first. I also had to state that thanks to your being officially appointed as Junior Ambassador, there was nothing I could do as you made it abundantly clear to everyone that you were acting in that role and not as this ship's Counsellor," Erik explained.
 
"Unofficially?" Lopez cautiously inquired.
 
"Unofficially, I believe you did the right thing," Morningstar stated. "The artifact belongs on the OLTHAR PRIME, and I was concerned as to what Koniki would have done with the clone of the High Elder of that planet. Your solution might not have been the most diplomatic one, but it was the one that achieved the best result. Koniki was not able to get his hands on the clone, the artifact is no longer in play and as a bonus, and Ambassador Bonviva was given a new lease on life. All of that after we completed our mission objective which was to stop Mordana from doing any more harm than she had already done. So, as far as I am concerned, personally speaking, I do not believe we could have wished for a better way to end this mission."
 
"Thank you, Captain. That means a lot to me," Adriana said clearly showing signs of relief.
 
"The ANUBIS is not your typical vessel," Erik explained. "Our missions are certainly not the type of missions that were ever mentioned at the Academy and as for the crew, well we both know just how atypical we are."
 
"Our Chief Engineer comes to mind," the Counsellor said laughing.
 
"I am very happy that you are still with us," the Captain said. "Not only do I not have to break in a new Ship's Counsellor but the ANUBIS officially gained the services of an Ambassador and Junior Ambassador. I honestly feel like I came up on top this time around. That said, I would ask something of you."
 
"Of course Captain, anything," Lopez said feeling more than ever ready to help the man standing before her.
 
"Next time you plan something like what happened on OLTHAR PRIME, please, let me know first. At least that way I will have some time to prepare myself before Koniki blasts me into the next century and I might be able to make sure that a few pillows are waiting for you next time you do something that will land you in the brig."
 
"Very well," Adriana said grinning. "I will let you know, but I think I will be avoiding doing anything like that ever again. I got lucky the first time around and I am not entirely certain that my luck will hold a second round. Thank you again, Captain, for being so understanding."
 
"Don't go out there telling everyone," Erik joked. "I still have a reputation to uphold. Now, I am sure that you have things to do as both this ship's Counsellor and Junior Ambassador, and I have a stack full of reports to get through before we reach ELAS."
 
Adriana smiled and nodded her head before leaving Erik to his work.

--==(/\)==--
Francois Charette

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA (currently on OLTHAR PRIME with his fiancée)
M15-P002: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34021.0515 ("Elasian Tactical Review")
=-=
"A Few Concerns"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Time To Move On" by Francois / (BAS) "Personal Reflections" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, IGC
Stardate: 34021.0515

In the world of Intel, there was no such thing as being too early to do anything. If something needed to be done, it is a safe bet to assume that it was already overdue by the time someone even started working on it. With the ANUBIS heading to the Tellun Star System and ELAS, the Elasian homeworld at the maximum speed allowed by the Chief Engineer, a great deal of information needed to be sorted through. This data was essential for the diplomatic and retrieval teams to be as ready as they needed to be to ensure the success of their respective missions. The whole thing might have sounded relatively simple to some, but the ExO / ILO knew better than to just sit back and assume that all would go as planned. Experience had taught her time and time again that life on board this vessel was just not meant to unfold that way.

Because of that experience, the Chief of Security had already been informed of a potential complication that the crew might be facing during their stay on the Elasian homeworld. Ya'Han requested to be given any available information as soon as possible, something that the ExO / ILO quickly figured would be used by the Nylaan as an excuse to be too busy to do anything else, be it with Jayson or anyone else. As this served the Commander's needs to properly prepare the crew for their mission to ELAS, Shar'El saw no reason to refuse the woman's request.

The reports provided to the Chief of Security regarding a bio-engineered weapon based on the tears of Elasian women was not something to be dismissed or ignored, and that was only one of several dozen potential problems the IGC team had already come across. Not being as technologically advanced as the Federation did not mean that the Elasians were unable to make things very difficult for everyone who dared to get in their way. In fact, this race of warrior-minded fighters could easily make things very unpleasant for others without giving their own safety a second thought.

Thinking back to the weaponized tears, the ExO / ILO thought that it was fortunate that their diplomatic team was made up of only members of the female gender, making the unorthodox weapon far less effective against them. Maybe that was part of the reason why Admiral Koniki had been so willing to see Ambassador Bonviva remain on board the ANUBIS to assist the newly appointed Junior Ambassador, Lt. Adriana Lopez. Whatever the plan was, the fact that the diplomatic team consisted of only women solved one problem out of several more.

To ensure that the retrieval team would not be a potential target of this weapon, the ExO / ILO made plans to see the male senior officers remain on the ANUBIS. As much as Lieutenant Stark might object to this, the Commander had more than enough work to keep him occupied while the ship was in orbit. What it did mean though was that Jayson and Ya'Han would once again be separated, not that it seemed to be that much of a problem at this time. The hints provided by the Chief of Security, consciously or not, pointed to her wanting it that way, at least for the time being.

"Commander," one of the IGC Techs called out from his station. "We have compiled the preliminary data on the two main Elasian factions."

"Transfer it to my station," Shar'El ordered, the ExO / ILO was genuinely looking forward to better understanding the reasons behind this conflict. Reading through the report, the Commander quickly identified the main points that would fuel hostilities between the factions. The 'Elasian Nationalist Puritans', led by a woman called Evaanku, believed that the only way their race could survive in the growing age of darkness that was spreading through the galaxy was to sever all liaisons with the Federation, its allies and anyone else the planet dealt with on a professional or personal level. The fact that her father was the War Master of the Elasian military only strengthened her position and credibility in the eyes of the general population.

Evaanku vowed to use her father's military resources to seek out and remove all of the undesirables from their world. This meant that anyone proven to not be 100% Elasian would be shipped off-planet on the first available transport without any considerations as to their current role in the planet's government or economy. That was as long as those found guilty of being 'unpure' did not simply vanish to never be seen again, that they made it to a transport ship or not. Her promises about this 'cleaning of the Elasian bloodline' would spare no one and separate any bastard child from their parents and family should they be found to have less than a pure Elasian ancestry. The second phase of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans' plan was to arm every citizen no matter their age or social status, claiming that this would be the only way to truly ensure the safety of their world.

Shar'El sighed with disbelief after reading that part of the report. Evidently, the apple had not fallen far from the tree, Evaanku's words and action closely echoing those of her father, the War Master Daanold. Nothing good ever came when fanatics were armed, this no matter what their reasons were, especially when those weapons came with the support and endorsement of a governmental figure. Chaos and anarchy were sure to follow close by, but then again was it not what the Lokustaar wanted to accomplish? At this point, there was no need for a conflict between factions as the 'Elasian Nationalist Puritans' possessed all they needed to destroy the home world's culture all on their own. With that unsettling thought in mind, the ExO / ILO resumed her reading of the report on the current state of the Elasian factions.

On the other side of this extreme political standpoint stood the 'Expansionist' led by Jeruun, a well known and highly respected Elasian businessman who believed that the survival of the Elasian people could only be assured if they reached out and strengthened their alliances with all Federation member worlds starting with the Troyians. Since there was still a sizable portion of the population who despised their closest neighbors for no other reason than because they saw them as being weak, these ideals of collaboration were not as popular as some might have liked them to be. Still, many supported the belief that the odds of survival would be much greater with the help of stronger, more prosperous and peace-oriented allies who would help curb the increasing oppressive ways of the Elasian military.

With these two factions standing on such opposing political platforms, it was easy to understand how easy it would be for a Lokustaar operative to bring the planet to the brink of an all-consuming civil war that would leave the planet in utter and complete ruins. After gathering her thoughts, the ExO / ILO continued reading the report, half wondering how any of this could be made worse.

The information compiled by the IGC techs showed several 'informational campaigns' distributed to the general population designed to polarize opinions to one side or the other of this rapidly growing conflict. This would ensure that people's fears were used in the best possible way to create distrust and chaos between the factions and even within their ranks. Several smaller factions were also involved but mostly in throwing their support behind one of the two main forces of this civil battle. Although smaller and not as influential, these lesser-known factions could not be simply ignored and required an eye to be kept on them at all time. Two such secondary factions were the 'The Dark Order', a group of elite warriors led by a skilled, seasoned and morally questionable officer by the name of Puunce who not surprisingly supported the faction of the War Master Daanold. The leader of the other smaller faction was a woman by the name of Anshaa, a remarkable Elasian beauty who made a name for herself as a charmer of man and trader of goods. Although there were no indications that she was responsible for turning tears into a weapon, the ExO / ILO did not put that possibility beyond the grasp of that woman. Her track record on her various trades made it clear that she was not a person to be taken lightly. Her supporting Jeruun's side most certainly gave him and his faction extra power in their corner.

"This gets better and better by the minute," Shar'El said to herself before taking a long and deep calming breath. "Xana and Adriana sure have their work cut out for them," the ExO / ILO added as she continued with her reading, which thankfully dealt more about the planetary logistics and respective assets of each of the factions instead of the lead players in this head-spinning political game. With roughly 3 days and 12 hours before reaching their destination, things would need to happen quickly if the ANUBIS and its crew were to be fully prepared to deal with growing civil unrest on ELAS and stop a bloody conflict from erupting.

Maybe one way to achieve this would be for the Ambassador and Junior Ambassador to reach out and communicate with the factions before their arrival. This would allow everyone to get an even better idea of what they would be dealing with while at the same time making sure that the diplomatic team remained perfectly safe.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P003: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34021.0730 ("Professional Assessment")
-=-=-
"Professional Assessment"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Elasian Tactical Review" & (BAS) "A Sorrow-Filled Farewell"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Counselor Lopez' Office  
Stardate: 34021.0730

Adriana's office had been transformed into 'Diplomatic Central' with holographic displays now all over the room showing the leaders of the main factions, their closest allies, and the reach of their sphere of influence on the Elasian people and beyond. The task of getting a solid understanding of the unstable Elasian political situation was not going to be an easy one. Just looking at all of the faces and the colored links between them indicating who was a friend or foe was starting to give the Junior Ambassador a wicked headache. To make this a little easier to deal with, Xana replicated several small dishes making this a working breakfast claiming that the fruits were an excellent way to ward of the pain she was suffering from.

"This Daanold fellow worries me," the Junior Ambassador said reading for the third time the PADD containing the War Master's list of accomplishments before looking up at the man's holographic face. "He is ruthless and unyielding in his beliefs. In some ways, he reminds me of Khan Noonien Singh in the hay days of the Eugenics Wars. His policies in regards to others he sees as 'inferior' are a match to those Khan used as his rallying cry. The War Master clearly sees himself as being superior to everyone else and does not tolerate being surrounded by anyone he considers to be weak in the slightest manner. I just can't figure out why a man trained as he is and possessing all of the experience he has is not the one leading the Elasian Nationalist Puritans."

"It's all about the image," Xana said as she took a bite out of some unknown red-colored fruit. "By putting his own daughter at the head of that faction, he gives her and their political platform that much more credibility. Plus, the Elasians see women as natural leaders to be respected and even feared, a fact that Daanold knows and understands all too well. He knows that Evaanku will draw-in support just because of who and what she is without either one of them having to raise a finger."

"How are we supposed to deal with someone like that?" Adriana was visibly overwhelmed by the task that stood before them. "Even if we do manage to get the factions to talk, Evaanku and Daanold are capable all on their own to reshape ELAS to suit whatever the Lokustaar wanted. Even with the Shadows in full retreat throughout the galaxy, they are still managing to exert their dark influence on other worlds. How do we fight against that?"

"One battle at a time," the Ambassador said sitting down on the couch and taking a bit out of another fruit, this one yellow in color. "Think of it this way," Xana continued taking hold of an apple and tossing it to Adriana. "To conquer that fruit, you cannot just swallow it whole, you need to take one bite, then another, and continue until the fruit has been completely eaten. We are faced with a similar, although much less appetizing scenario. We have to take this one bite at a time while making sure that we do not sink our teeth into a section of the fruit that might be rotting from the inside."

"That is not a very appetizing, or comforting image," the Junior Ambassador said carefully placing the apple down on the table where the bowls were set.

"It was not supposed to be," the Bolian/Human woman said as she looked at the Hispanic woman with a sudden increase in interest. "Can I ask you a personal question?"

"Of course," Adriana said not at all having expected that question.

"Your sister, how do you see her?" Xana asked still looking at the woman as if trying to see something that was not there. "I mean, how does she physically appear to you? I know that you are twins, but do you actually see yourself when you see and hear her or are there physical differences that might reflect what you believe happened to her."

"Oh this should be interesting," Amanda said, the sister in question having appeared sitting right next to the inquisitive Ambassador. "How *do* you see me, sis? Am I better looking than you see yourself, or maybe you see me as having an air of smarts that you lack and could not live without?"

"I see her as I imagine my sister would be if she were here," Adriana firmly replied. This was bound to happen sooner or later, and it might as well happen now so that it could be dealt with and pushed out of the way. "I see my sister as an annoying and argumentative sibling who gets on my nerves more times than I would care for."

"That is very unsisterly of you," the hallucination of the twin said pouting. "How about all those times that I helped you when no one else would or could? Face it, you may not *like* me, but you *need* me. As a projection of your mind, it is not like you can get rid of me, although you have tried, repeatedly."

"So, you actually argue with her?" Xana asked. Satella had defended the woman, but this admission concerned the Ambassador quite a bit. Seeing and hearing her missing sister was almost understandable, but arguing with her seemed to be pushing the envelope a little more than the Bolian/Human hybrid was willing to accept at this moment.

"Argue in the sense that, as a projection of my own mind, she offers me those options that I would not normally consider," Adriana explained trying not to look directly at the pouting hallucination sitting right next to the woman she was speaking to. "The greater majority of people debate courses of actions silently in their heads on a daily basis, most of the time never realizing that they are doing so. Should I have the apple or the orange? Should I go to the gym or the holodeck? Everyone does it and no one around them gives it a second thought. In some cases, these internal debates seep out into the real world as people voice those debates aloud. Again, most people don't give it a second thought, understanding that the person was simply listing options available to them at that moment in time. Look at Captain Morningstar, when the ANUBIS is faced with a dangerous situation and there is time to debate what is the best course of action to follow, he demands that his command staff openly give their opinion and no one questions his sanity or the sanity of those who complied with his request."

"You seeing and hearing Amanda is not the same thing," the azure-skinned woman said.

"I am very aware that Amanda is nothing more than a mental projection rooted in the pain of my having lost my sister at a young age," the Counselor said. "The psychological trauma has caused me to externalize those feelings through an audio-visual hallucination that allows me to deal with the fact that she is not here and that I have no idea as to where she is or even how she is. The *arguments* we have are nothing more than her, meaning me, presenting options and course of actions that I might not be overly comfortable with but that are as valid and any other option if not more. The only real difference is that I openly acknowledge her presence instead of brushing it off to others as me just talking to myself." Adriana stopped realizing that the tone of her voice had gradually gone up as her defense and explanation went on. "A long-distance runner will encourage himself throughout a race," the sister said having returned her voice to a more passive tone. "At the end of the race, they will credit themselves for having had the strength to push their body and mind to the limit. They might even offer thanks to someone close to them for inspiring them. The difference here is that I credit Amanda for helping me make it through those moments I thought I would never have been able to. She is my inspiration, my drive and she is the one I thank for my being here now. It was because of her that I joined Starfleet, and it was still because of her that I made it through some of the darkest times in my career. It was also thanks to her that I did not back down from doing what I believed needed to be done back on OLTHAR PRIME.  I am sorry if you believe that makes me less of a person or even unworthy of being your Junior Ambassador."

"You care," Amanda said with an exaggerated smiled. "You actually care about me. That is so sweet," the hallucination continued before suddenly turning completely serious. "Now, stop feeling sorry for yourself. If she really did not trust you, she would not have wanted this meeting with you, brought you fruits after you complained of a headache or asked about me. She would have tossed you and whatever hallucination you have out the nearest airlock for fear that you might jeopardize the mission."

"I do not believe that this makes you any different than anyone else," Xana quickly defended. "I was simply curious as to how your sister appeared to you. Is she taller, shorter, has the same curly hair or does she have green-skin?"

"Green-skin?" The twins said in perfect unison looking at the woman with the blue-colored skin.  "We are not Orion or Martian," the sisters said, again speaking as one, which in truth they were.

"The question was not meant to insult or even put your skills and ability in question," Xana further explained. I just thought that it would be nice for you to think of something other than the Elasians for a moment, and it was a perfect opportunity for me to address my own personal curiosity. I know how close sister can be, and I am sorry if my question upset you."

"I should be the one to apologize," Adriana said. "I overreacted."

"Good," the Ambassador said as she stood. "You can use this as a learning experience. Those people," Xana said pointing at the holographic images of the faction leaders. "They are going to do everything they can in order to prove their point and win, this means that they are most likely going to try an undermine our efforts in one way or another. Whatever is said, whatever is done, we have to remain calm and in control. Do not let them get the upper hand. You have to think as a diplomatic officer, not a Counselor. That means you have to anticipate their words and actions allowing only those that are beneficial to the talks to make it out in the open. You cannot let them take control, nor can you just sit there and passively listen to what they have to say. Doing so will result in people getting hurt. If they manage to say something, do not take it personally, and more importantly, do not let their words bait you into an emotional outburst. If you do that, we lose any hope of keeping control and getting them to talk peace."

"Are you sure that we can do this?" The Junior Ambassador asked. "More to the point, are you sure *I* can do this?"

"Of course you can," Xana laughed. "You brought me back from the doors of the great beyond, to me that means that there is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it."

"She's right," Amanda said, the hallucination still sitting on the couch. "If you can keep a semblance of sanity while arguing with yourself the way you regularly do with me, it's the Elasians who are going to have their hands full, not you. Trust me on that, I'm your sister, that means that I know crazy better than most."

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P004: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34021.0800 ("Elasian Combat Training")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Elasian Combat Training"
[previous post were (ANU) "Professional Assessment" / (BAS) "No Looking Back"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: ELAS, dark alley
Stardate: 34021.0800

This was not the first time the Sec/Tac found herself fighting against multiple opponents, her training both on NYLA IV and Starfleet Academy had prepared her for such situations, but this fight was proving to be a lot more demanding than the red-haired woman could have expected.  The fighting style of the Elasians was like most others, utilizing the same basic moves with a few flares native to that race. What made things more difficult for Ya'Han though was her inability to completely focus on the fight, her mind still managing to wonder off to somewhere it should not, to someone she could not.

The Sec/Tac managed to block the assault of one of the three Elasian fighters she was up against, quickly setting up for a counter attack against the second, but as she did so the third, whom she had lost track of for only a few seconds, landed a powerful blow against her jaw sending the Nylaan down to the ground.  Unable to properly defend herself, the other two attackers quickly landed shots of their own, kicking the red-haired Starfleet officer in the abdomen and head.  She Ya'Han saw a trickle of blood pouring from the corner of her lips, she understood that it was over.

"Computer, end program."

The three Elasian fighters vanished, quickly followed by the alley that served as their battle arena as the holodeck returned to its normal, inactive state.  Ya'Han remained on her hands and knees for a few moments, assessing the extent of her injuries. The cut and bruises on her face would be easily enough for her to deal with once she returned to her quarters, but the one or maybe two broken ribs she could feel would be a completely different matter.  Painfully forcing herself back onto her feet, the Sec/Tac surrendered to the inevitable as she slowly limp her way out of the room heading for Sickbay.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Sickbay
Stardate: 34021.0820

"Do you have a death wish?" Doctor Bruxa demanded. "You almost died on OLTHAR PRIME, so you would think that you would be more careful or at the very least more grateful instead of going up against some crazed holographic fighter with the safeties off."

"There were three of them," Ya'Han winced.

"That is not helping your case," Satella hissed. "I understand that you feel guilty for what happened to the clone," the Doctor said avoiding calling it by name. "That does not mean that you have to punish yourself like this."

"I was not punishing myself, Doctor," the Sec/Tac said in her defense. "The Elasians are a warrior race, that means that even if they give Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez the respect their positions call for, they will not hesitate to attack the rest of us, especially if we are out there wondering the streets looking for that Lokustaar operative."

"Making those guys invisible to sensors is just plain nasty," the Doctor said while taking care of the broken ribs the Sec/Tac had walked in with.

"Making them invisible to sensors was a brilliant tactical move by the Lokustaar," Ya'Han said. "As much as I might not like what it means for us, I have to admit that it is a sound tactical decision and it forces us to be on the planet to search for the operative. This means that one way or another we will have to deal with the locals, and I wanted to be ready. Reading about their fighting style is not enough; I have to experience it in order to come up with the best counter moves in order to avoid being beaten."

"How did that go for you?" Satella asked pocking her patient to make her point.

"Not as well as it should have," the Sec/Tac admitted. "I was distracted."

"You know, I should get Adriana in here. Clearly, you need to talk to someone about this."

"The Counselor is currently locked away in her officer with the Ambassador," Ya'Han stated. "My guess is that they are going over their strategies to figure out which will have the better odds for success."

"How do you know that?" Bruxa asked.

"Doctor, I was the daughter of the High Sovereign of NYLA IV and even though I might not have been trained to be an Ambassador or even a negotiator, the role that my sister and I had meant that we had to know how to read people and quickly find the best way to win their favors," Ya'Han explained. "Also, I am this ship's Chief of Security and that means I keep track of everyone's location at all times."

"Everyone? I find it hard to believe that you are able to keep track of everyone on board the ANUBIS. The only one who should be able to do that is ANI, but then again she can only do so because she cheats," Satella challenged.

"Alright, maybe not *everyone*, but I do keep track of the most important people on board to ensure that safety."

The Doctor slightly tilted her head to one side while looking back at the Sec/Tac clearly not believing her. "I will give you that you know where some of the members of the senior staff are, simply because that is where they usually are. Shar'El is in the IGC, Captain Morningstar is on the bridge or in his office, Sonja is in main engineering and I was, as I usually am, in Sickbay. What I believe is that you are going out of your way to keep track of Adriana. Officially, you can claim that you are keeping an eye on the ANUBIS' Ambassadorial team, personally, I believe that you are keeping track of her whereabouts to avoid running into her because if you did, she might force you to talk about what happened."

"Doctor, you are, I believe the expression is, fishing," the Sec/Tac sighed.

"Maybe I am, or maybe I am right. Either way, I know what I know. You coming to me injured the way you were shows me that there is something wrong. While we are on board the ANUBIS, you being distracted may not lead to issues, but once you are on ELAS, you and I both know that those mistakes can be unforgiving," Satella said trying her best to make Ya'Han understand that she was not alone to deal with any of this. "You are all fixed up. It might be sore for a few hours, so take it easy.

"Thank you, Doctor," red and black-haired Nylaan said, leaving it unsaid as to whether she was thanking the woman for her professional and medical assistance or for simply being an understanding and concerned friend.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P005: USS ANUBIS: Maya: 34021.0830
("Tears Can Be A Very Dangerous Weapon")
---
"Tears Can Be A Very Dangerous Weapon"
(Previous Posts: (ANU) "Elasian Combat Training" / (BAS) "No Looking Back")
---

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Science Lab
Stardate: 34021.0830

Being the Chief Science Officer of the USS ANUBIS was not an easy task and it kept the Shillian very busy, and because of that Maya spent the greater majority of her time locked away in some laboratory away from the normal hustle and bustle of the crew. Most of the time, this did not bother her, in fact, this was what she preferred doing as dedicating herself to science, in all of its aspects, had become her life. There were some days though, being few and far in between, when the shapeshifting woman felt a sting of loneliness as memories of the reasons why she was a scientist unwillingly came back to her. Accompanying those memories was also a unescapable reminder that she was the last of her kind, a reality that forced her to dismiss those feelings as they risked plunging her into a depression that she might never recover from. Her only solace was her work and the fact that she was part of a crew who, for all intents and purposes, had become her family in more ways than one. So it was with joy that she set out to work on whatever she could get her hands on ensured that her new family were as well informed and ready as could be.

From researching the bio-engineered vessels used by the Lokustaar to the life-force transferring device brought back from, and soon after returned to, OLTHAR PRIME, Maya had moved on to looking into the use of biological weapons by the Elasians. Most races tended to stay away from such tools of warfare as they could not only prove dangerous to their opponent but also for the people using them. Despite not being as technologically advanced at the Federation, the Elasians moved forward with their research into bio-engineered weapons not letting the prossibilities of their work mutating into something that the designers could not expect, entificate and, of course, had no way to protect themselves from.

Searching through all available data concerning the use of this type of weapons by the Elasians, the Chief Science Officer discovered that these people were no stranger to bio-engineering and the problems generated by this kind of work. On ELAS, there were several smaller islands dedicated to this type of research, some of them having been permanently quarantined following undisclosed incidents claiming the lives of all those who were working there. Being isolated from the main land provided a natural defense mechanism should there be any such problems as the effects would be contained, but according to some of the records the Shillian was reading through, this had not always been the case.  One such example was the attempt to create a viral infection that would only target the Troyians which backfired and created instead a virus that saw thousands of Elasians die in a most horrific manner before a cure was created. Other attempts at creating biological weapons with specific targets in mind proved equally ill-conceived and forced all of the research teams to eventually change their methodology.

Instead of focusing on what could kill a loathed adversary, the Elasians shifted their research to improving everything they considered as a strength for their people. From bio-engineered weapons, the race of warrior began tinkering into bio-engineering of their own people with the aim of increasing strength, endurance, skill and speed. The parallel with the historical records of EARTH and the Eugenics Wars was impossible to miss, and even more so where the similar consequences involving the newly created members of the warrior race who saw themselves as superior to the rest. The main difference between EARTH and ELAS was that the Elasians were able to overcome their creations before it was too late, thus putting an end to the threat as well as that particular type of research.

With their efforts in bio-engineering people having failed so completely, the Elasians, instead of abandoning all work in the field of bio-engineering, returned to their initial work of creating a weapon that would give them the edge they sought against their adversaries. Using the failures of the past as guidelines, they eventually managed to create something that proved to be as successful as it was strange. The concept and weapon used the tears of Elasian women.

Looking back at the long list of failures from the Elasians in this field of work, the Shillian Scientist had to admit that she was impressed by the success of this latest work. By simple design, half of their own population would already be immune to the effects of this weapon, and the other half, if affected by it, would simply fall hopelessly in a state of deep admiration with the first woman they saw. This meant that as long as a woman was in charge, the men would continue to fight, maybe with even more passion than they had before, no longer caring about anything else. The problem with such a weapon was that it could only target half of the people it was meant to be used against, but of all the weapons at the disposal of the Elasians, this one was by far the one they would use with the least amount of concerns.  Used in small quantities and in specific areas, such a weapons could prove to be exceptionally effective in giving the Elasians the advantage they needed.

Maya was actually thankful that she belonged to the gender that could not be affected by this weapon and quickly confirmed how this bio-engineered weapons functioned. According to the research and test notes on this weapon, the tears of Elasian women were a pure, liquid form of pheromones that would affect a target immediately upon contact. This meant that the final weapon would be 99.9% effective against males regardless of species as this natural substance was common throughout the galaxy. Simple and effective, turning pheromones into a potent weapon made the Chief Science Officer fear that there was little they could do to protect the male population, be them of the ANUBIS or anywhere else in the galaxy.

It was easy to see and understand why Commander Shar'El and Lieutenant Ya'Han were so concerned about this weapon and how it could be used on friends and foes alike to ensure that some gained control over others.

---
Jessica Solarik

Lieutenant Commander Maya [Access Character BIO for Maya]
Chief Science Officer
USS ANUBIS

&

Captain Selene Fiona Iverson [Access Character BIO for Selene Iverson]
Commanding Officer
USS BASTET

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M15-P006: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34021.1000 ("Agita")
"Agita”
(Previous Posts: (ANU) "Tears Can Be A Very Dangerous Weapon" / (BAS) "No Looking Back")

=/\=
Location: USS ANUBIS, Corridor
Stardate: 34021.1000

“What am I making for ya now, Ambassador?”

Xana looked over at the CEO and smiled.  “I didn’t say you had to make anything for me, Sonya,” she said as she walked down the corridor.  “Did I?”

Sonya was rolling her eyes.  “All I know this *was* supposed to be a simple discussion now I’m hearing weaponized tears and that means I’ve gotta make a miracle.”  

Xana smiled at that.  “I love that my work is “simple”.”

“There’s probably something there in talking so much that people just give in--”

“That might be the most accurate description of my job I’ve ever heard,” Xana agreed.

The engineer gave a look.  “But are ya making a marvel of engineering to save the day?” 

The azure woman raised an eyebrow.  “Tell me, what are you making to help save the day.”

“I canna tell you as I haven’t made it yet!” Sonya fussed.  Looking over she said, “Aren’t you sassy since you’ve gotten better?”

Xana smiled at that but she felt the churning in her stomach again when she thought about getting better.  “I’ve always been sassy--”

“That’s a way to put it,” Sonya quipped.

The Ambassador chuckled.  “But you have me thinking about what’s been bothering me.”  Smiling she said, “Thanks, Sonya. I appreciate it.” Winking she said, “I won’t tell Adriana that you’re now a backup Counselor now!”

“Ya, ya, I’ll add that to the other jobs I’m doing!” Sonya grinned.

=/\=
Location: USS ANUBIS, Xana’s quarters

She was supposed to be doing outreaching or researching…instead her stomach was in knots.  Drumming her fingers on her desk she mindlessly scrolled through the notes on the Elasians wondering about what type of people would put their kids at risk and why she was living for this.  She also had a job to do, she also had to help Adriana…

“Computer, reach out to Bonviva, Gavrosh,” she tried first, thinking to reach out to her eldest son.  Getting a message, which wasn’t unusual for the far-flung places places her son found himself in, she left her son a message knowing this was going to be ping pong.  

“Computer, contact Captain Siobhan Reardon,” she tried next, expecting the same reaction.  Much to her surprise the computer changed from the symbol of the Federation to the redheaded Captain she knew so well.  

[/\] Xan… do you have any idea what time it is? [/\] She looked a little groggy, but otherwise the same.

“Siobhan!” Xana said, relief pouring into her as she saw her long time friend.  “I have so much to tell you!”

It took a few seconds for the azure woman’s enthusiasm and urgency to rub off on the Captain of the BHUTTO, but she managed a more alert response. [/\] Wait- where are you? [/\]

“Except that,” the white-haired woman said. The two women were no strangers to need-to-know privilege and all that entailed. 

The former Counselor mentally shrugged. [/\] Okay, I’m listening. [/\]  

Xana explained about her recovery, how she never had to worry about the illness again.  “Siobhan...I should be thrilled. I am thrilled! Why am I feeling this agita every time I think about getting better?”

[/\] Obviously something is bothering you about it… [/\] Sio remembered Xana’s need for control in all aspects of her life. Why would her death be any different? [/\] There was a part of you that was ready to go, wasn’t there? [/\]

The Bolian/Human thought about it.  “I made all the arrangements,” she said quietly.

[/\] That’s not the same as being ready, [/\] Sio pointed out.  She looked sympathetic across the light-years.  

“It wasn’t like how I thought it would be...at the end,” Xana said quietly.  

[/\] Very few people, anywhere, get the death they think they will. Or the death they deserve. Even you don’t get to control that, [/\] Siobhan said.  

The Ambassador sat quietly looking off to the stars.  “Am I terrible if I say I was ready?” Looking back at the screen she said, “Nothing was how I planned it but...no one asked me how I felt, my family wasn’t there, but some small part of me was….ok.  I had several Bolian firewaters, I was level with the stars again and I thought to myself, “You know, this isn’t such a bad way to go”. My kids were safe. I did my job. I was...at peace. And it was good.”  She was really quiet for a moment; then she shook her head. “A few hypos later, flash, bam, boom, I’m saved. I don’t even remember being asked if I wanted to be. I know that sounds horrific, childish...I mean obviously yes, living is wonderful but...I was *ready*. “  There was a pause before she finally said what she had long felt but hadn’t said all this time. “I was at peace...I was ready to die.”

Siobhan looked troubled. She was getting a lot of information, amazingly good news, really, but it still didn’t seem like it was all there. Like there were important things missing. Maybe if- [/\] Can you come visit? I’m sure I talk Admiral T’Sen into having you aboard. There aren’t many places that couldn’t use an Ambassador these days. [/\] It seemed foolish to ask the question, but the pain that Xana was still feeling was palpable, even on a comm link. The only good thing about it, is that it wasn’t physical anymore. But her friend was still in some kind of distress.

Xana smiled sadly.  “I’d like to but I’m needed here.  I actually pulled some strings to say here with my Junior Ambassador.”  Tapping on the keyboard, she said, “Actually, that's the reason why I was reaching out before I just started venting…you have gone to all sorts of places.  I’m sending you information on a missing persons case, a kidnapping actually. Let me know what if anything this matches for you.”

 [/\] Telling me you’re alive and well is *not* venting. It’s the best news I’ve had in quite some time. So stop it. [/\] Sio scanned the data, which was for a woman named Amanda Lopez. She’d been missing since she was a little girl. The case looked pretty cold, but her occasional foray into Intel told her there could easily be more there than met the eye. She wondered what the connection was between the case and Xana. [/\] Did you know her? [/\]

“No but I know the family,” Xana said.  “I figured I’d reach out to those that I know who go to unusual places and I can trust.”

The Captain nodded at that. [/\] You tried Gavi, didn’t you? [/\]

“And knowing my son, he’ll call me back at 0300 sometime,” Xana sighed.  

[/\] I wonder where he learned that from, [/\] Sio yawned.  The CO looked over the file. [/\] You know who could be helpful-- [/\]

Xana sat up straight in her chair.  “I recognize that tone, Siobhan Reardon.”

[/\] -- he would probably help you if you asked -- [/\]

“Absolutely not.”

[/\] --I’m just saying, he does go to a lot of places, different places that I go to.  Jake would probably be useful here. [/\]

Xana glared across the universe. “I am NOT calling my ex-husband.”

[/\] Your friend, your decision, [/\] Siobhan said, holding up her hands in surrender. [/\] Speaking of friends, you know if you need to just talk, I’ll be here, right? You don’t need a reason. [/\] 

“I do, thanks,” Xana smiled.  “You too. Bonviva out.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501

With Guest Appearance By 

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for 

Captain Siobhan Reardon
USS BENZAIR BHUTTO
M15-P007: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34021.1100 ("Digging Up Dirt")
=-=
"Digging Up Dirt"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Agita" by Sarah / (BAS) "Asking A Few Questions" by Karen]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, IGC
Stardate: 34021.1100

In missions such as the one they were heading into, Intel on the groups as well as the individuals were of the utmost importance as the slightest detail could change the landscape of the negotiations. It was expected that each side had something to hide and that they would have done everything in their power to uncover the secrets of their counterparts. What the ExO / ILO needed to was to find those pieces of information that stood beyond these hidden gems, the ones that no one else knew about but the selected few.

Normally, doing this kind of in-depth search required an agent to be on location, but thanks to the Elasians being members of the Federation, a lot of this information was already out there buried in the public records. All that was required was to find the links that had been purposefully omitted or removed from those details to protect those who did not want this information to be known by others.

Due to War Master Daanold's rank and position, Shar'El decided to skip him for the time being as an in-depth search of military records of this 52 years old Elasian might prove to be more timeconsuming than she could afford at this point. Therefore, the ExO / ILO decided to instead focus her initial focus on his daughter, the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans, Evaanku.

The 26 years old woman grew up enjoying all of the privileges afforded by her father's high ranking position within the Elasian military. Evaanku attended the most prestigious schools, followed rigorous extra-curriculum activities and accompanied her father in many of his troop inspections. Every second of her life appeared to have been planned, monitored and closely followed by people of the highest level. Knowing all that, it made perfect sense that the young woman followed her father's lead in regards to the way she perceived the world around her. A harsh and demanding government, very much like the one in charge of their military was the only way to ensure the safety and compliance of the population.

For a brief moment, Shar'El actually felt sorry for the young woman who had known nothing other than the life her father had laid out in front of her. According to everything the ExO / ILO had seen so far, Evaanku had never enjoyed any sort of freedom or the intimate company of another. Her existence was devoted to upholding the ideals of her father in any and every way she could, and that was why she created the faction she now led.

As clean and straight forward as Evaanku's life had been, the opposite could be said about the leader of the Dark Order. Puunce had grown up in one of the harshest districts forcing him to fight for survival on a daily basis. Abandoned by his parents at an early age, he had to rely on his cunning and ruthlessness to take full advantage of whatever presented itself. As soon as he came of age, he joined the military and volunteered for some of the most demanding campaigns in order to prove himself worthy. During the five years that followed, he was brought in front of a disciplinary committee seven times to address charges of gross misconduct towards superior officers and insubordination. Apparently, he knew better than his superiors when it came to striking a quick and decisive blow against their enemies. The fact that his service record noted him as being one of the most ruthless of his battalion played in his favor during sentencing. The Elasians did not abide by any universal rules of conduct when it came to warfare, so he was spared the full extent of his punishments in acknowledgment of his prowess in action. Such reward normally reinforced the man's already twisted psychology and view on how he should behave.

It was when he fell under the command of Daanold that his life took a turn for the better, finally being recognized and rewarded for what he did best. The high ranking military officer often sent him on missions without any specific course of action to follow, only a goal that he had to accomplish if he wanted to be accepted back into the ranks when he returned. This drove the man to become even more unforgiving and heatless, ensuring that he would be welcomed back with open arms, which he was, time and time again. Of course, this chain of events secured Puunce's loyalty to the War Master making him an exceptionally dangerous and unscrupulous 38 years old man ready to do whatever was necessary to get the job done. and please his 'master'.

Shar'El made a quick mental note to keep Puunce in sight at all times. Of all the people who would be at the peace talks, he certainly was the only to be the most cautious of since, according to his list of accomplishments, he would not hesitate to do what was asked of him by the War Master, even if it ended up costing him his own life.

Moving on to the next person on her list, the ExO / ILO started looking into the past of the respected 44 years old Elasian businessman. Very much like the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans Jerrun had grown up in the lap of luxury and never wanted for anything making him appreciate the benefits of prosperity. As soon as he was of age, he followed his father out onto various trade routes learning the skills of the trade hands-on. Within a few years, he took on his own trade routes which soon grew into a full network that accounted for nearly 20% of the planet's global trades. More than once he forwent profit to hire more Elasians so as to 'spread the wealth' to his people knowing that through the prosperity of some, many more could come to live better lives.

During one of his trade expansion efforts, he met a very attractive Elasian woman by the name of Anshaa who although gave him quite a hard time at first grew to respect and even admire Jeruun for what he was doing. This is why the 32 years old trader offered her support to his cause, agreeing that prosperity for their people could not come as a result of endless conflicts and even wars.

What Shar'El found especially interesting was the fact that there was a period of two full years during which time the stunning Elasian trader seemed to have stopped all commercial activities. In fact, for those years there were absolutely no records of her doing *anything*. As this was the kind of anomaly the ExO / ILO could not ignore, she started digging a little further. What the Ullian uncovered was a list of ship manifests that covered the week before the woman's sudden disappearance. What was truly interesting was that those records indicated that the ships operating under Anshaa's control had ventured into the domain of the Orion Syndicate.

"What were you doing there," Shar'El asked of the screen, now more than ever resolved to discover the reason for this two-year hiatus. "Computer, access all available Intel on the Orion Syndicate for the period coinciding with the two years Anshaa was inactive. List all occurrences of an Elasian woman."

=/\= Initialting search, =/\= the Computer acknowledged. =/\= There is one mention of an Elasian woman found within the specified time parameters. =/\=

"Show me the report," the ExO / ILO ordered. Whatever she went through so much effort to hide from her own people was certainly not going to be enough to stop Shar'El from getting to the bottom of this. As soon as the report appeared on her monitor, the Commander began reading it, getting a completely new impression of the Elasian beauty. "Rilliz? What were you doing talking with that sorry excuse for an Orion smile? More important, why try to keep it a secret from your own people? That guy could not convince a Ferengi to accept free latinum if his life depended on it, so why would Anshaa go all the way to an underground Orion trading outpost to see you? What were you selling that she needed so badly, or was it that she was trying to sell you something? Either way, this could prove to be very interesting, not to mention potentially damaging if it fell into the hands of Evaanku. Let's face it, Rilliz may not be the best, but he sure one of the most versatile dealing in everything the Orion Syndicate manages to get their hands on."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P008: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34021.1300 ("Stomach Churning")
=-=
"Stomach Churning"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Digging Up Dirt" / (BAS) "Far-Reaching Implications"]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, CMO's Office
Stardate: 34021.1300

Cmdr. Shar'El was an amazing First Officer. The woman always seemed to be there to lend a hand or answer whatever question came up. As the ANUBIS' ILO, she was a force to be reckoned with day or night. At her best, there was nothing out of her reach, and in some ways that fact scared Satella. What would the raven-haired woman find if she ever decided to go digging into the crew's past? Bruxa had nothing to hide, but still, maybe there was something in her past that was better her not knowing about it. Luckily for everyone, the woman in charge of the IGC was currently too preoccupied to worry about such trivial things.

The moment the news of a bio-engineered weapon reached the CMO, she inquired about getting more information. Shar'El was more than accommodating and provided the Doctor with pages upon pages of data. Obviously, the Elasians were a race that enjoyed risking their own lives. If any of their previous work had become an airborne contagion, everyone on the planet could have easily perished. What was truly scary was that this could have happened several dozen times over the last century or so. These people were either more skilled than they let on, or they were the luckiest race in the galaxy.

Satella had set herself up to eat her lunch in her office while reading the files provided by Cmdr. Shar'El. The moment she began reading though, the CMO instantly lost her appetite. That was why her bowl of Mikulak Vegetable Stew was now cold and likely to remain so for quite some time. Nightmarish visions filled the Doctor's mind as she read some of the work done by the Elasians. What were they thinking?

The list of ideas for a bio-engineered weapon quickly went from bad to worse as Satella read the list. A neuro-toxin meant not to paralyze anyone expose but instead to kill them by liquefying the nervous system. A flesh eating genetically engineered bacteria that could devour a full-grown man in minutes. A modified strand of the Ruthian plague, capable of ending all life on a planetary scale within days of its release. There were even plans to attempt a genetic merger of some of the most deadly viruses known int he galaxy.

"Weaponizing the tears of Elasian women is nothing compared to these abominations. How did these people ever manage to be accepted into the Federation?" The Doctor was clearly shocked and in total disbelief. "These people are monsters."

"That is not fair," Adriana said. The CNS had apparently come to join her friend for a late lunch. "You are judging them by their mistakes, not their accomplishments."

Doctor Bruxa threw herself back into her chair. "What accomplishments?" She demanded. "How many people did those bioengineered weapons kill? Is that the accomplishments you are referring to?"

Adriana smiled and pulled a chair to sit across from her friend. "The Elasians were able to create a stable planetary government, something that not every race is capable of doing. For a time, they also managed to have peace with their neighbors the Troyians. Keep in mind that at one point in their history, all they wanted was to kill every one of them. They have a thriving trade industry and have a few social aid programs. All of those is enough to make them valid Federation members. I am sure that keeping an eye on their bioengineering work was part of the decision. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer."

Satella just shook her head. "Everyday you sound more like an Ambassador than a Counselor."

"Is that such a bad thing?"

"Maybe," Doctor Bruxa said, concern for her friend appearing on her face. "I don't trust the Elasians. The fact that they are on the brink of a civil war is not going to make them reasonable. I believe that it will be quite the opposite. They have come to a point where they re ready to turn their weapons against their own people. That is never a good sign/"

"If they truly wanted to do it, they would already have," Adriana said. "This internal conflict was brought on by the interference of the Lokustaar. They are the ones who want to see war break out on ELAS. Our job, meaning Xana's and mine, is to remind them of this. We have to get them to realize that they have the same enemy."

"What if they don't listen? What if they decide to use any one of those nightmare bioengineered weapons on you to make a point?"

Adriana shrugged and smiled. "I am not worried."

"Why are you not worried? Have you read this report from Shar'El? I feel like I am about to throw up. Just reading about all of those things is enough to make me ill."

The CNS laughed ever so gently. "I am not worried because I know that you will be there to save the day."

"Save the day? I am not even sure I would be able to save your life. I understand the need to restore peace on ELAS. Trust me, that is the one thing I am in full agreement about. I just don't like the idea that someone will have to be down there to do it."

"I guess I should inform Cmdr. Shar'El and Cpt. Morningstar in a change to our plan."

"A change in your plan? What plan are you talking about?"

Adriana was actually finding this very amusing. "I requested that you and Maya be part of the diplomatic away team. That way you would be able to keep an eye on us while the discussions proceeded."

"Me on ELAS?!?" Satella felt a knot growing in her stomach. "Now I am really going to be sick."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P009: USS ANUBIS: Stark: 34021.1400 ("The List")
"The List"
[previous (ANU) "Stomach Churning" / (BAS) "Far-Reaching Implications"]

[/\]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34021.1400

They were still over three days from ELAS and their next mission but the OPS Officer was already experiencing a lot of misgivings about what was to come.  Every report the senior staff was told to read painted an increasingly troubling picture of the planet and its people. By the looks of things, the Elasians were a race with a level of technology that far surpassed the wisdom required to properly use it. Their unhealthy and persistent tinkering with bio-engineered weapons was proof enough of this, confirming just how dangerous these people could be to everyone including themselves.

Jayson certainly did not envy the task the Adriana and Xana faced, easily imagining numerous ways for the peace talks to turn ugly in the blink of an eye. What made it worse was that he, along with every other male crew member, would have to remain on the ANUBIS to avoid them falling victim to the Elasian's latest weapon.

"Is everything alright Lieutenant?" Ambassador Bonviva asked, the azure-skinned woman having made a straight line to the Operations station as soon as she stepped onto the bridge.

"Yes, Ambassador, I was just..."

"Good," Xana interrupted; apparently, her question was misinterpreted as one of concern instead of a simple gesture of politeness to make sure that she would have his complete attention. "Here is the list of items that both Junior Ambassador Lopez and I will require before we reach the orbit of ELAS." Jayson had barely had time to take hold of the PADD being handed to him before the Ambassador continued. "As the Chief of Operations for this vessel, I presume that there will not be any problem for you to fill this list before our arrival, and by you filling the list I do mean *you*. I need you to personally ensure that each item is exactly as described, no exceptions, no substitutions."

"Why do you need..."

"If you have any problems procuring any of the items listed, let Junior Ambassador Lopez know as soon as possible," Xana said interrupting Jayson once again. "As a newly promoted Lieutenant though, I suspect that you will not have any issues with any of the items on that list, well, maybe one or two, but Adriana said to trust you, so here I am." Whatever schedule the Ambassador was on clearly did not afford her the time for idle chat, that or she simply did not want to speak to the OPS Officer any more than she absolutely had to. In either case, Xana was already boarding the turbolift by the time he realized that she was leaving without answering his question.

With the Ambassador gone as quickly as she had come, Jayson had no other choice but to reread the list Xana handed to him. Some of the items listed made sense, in some ways, but several others seemed to be completely out of place. "What are they going to do?" The OPS Officer asked aloud rereading the items on the PADD to make sure that he had read them correctly. Once he reached the end of the list and confirmed that all of the items were as he had read them to be, Jayson laughed. "Maybe I should just throw in a couple of Quantum torpedoes, given some of the items on this list; I doubt that she would even notice that they are there." Following a short pause, he checked on his console the location of a specific member of the crew. "Might as well get this over with."

[/\]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Main Engineering
Stardate: 34021.1420

Jayson walked in and made his way to where he knew the CEO was. "Lt. Commander, may I have a word with you?"

"What do you want?" Sonja asked, not happy to see the OPS Officer, not that she ever was happy to see him. The woman took a perverted pleasure in taking shots at him whenever she could for no other reason than because she could.

"Ambassador Boniva gave me a list of items that she needs for the away mission to ELAS and she requested that I be the one to procure each item personally. No exceptions and no substitutions," Jayson said handing over a PADD listing those items that Sonja would be able to provide.

"Ambassador Bonviva asked you to get this?" The CEO asked, looking down at the list with puzzled curiosity. "What does she want to do with any of this equipment?"

"She did not tell me," the OPS Officer said. "She just exploded onto the bridge, handed me the list and rushed back out as if the devil itself was after her."

"Even if the devil itself was after her, it would not explain some of the items on this list," Sonja quipped. "Which brings up an interesting question, do Bolians believe in the devil or something like it? Then again, I guess it does not matter as she is half-Human, so trying to avoid half a devil would still be bad enough.  Alright, so let me see what I can do, but in the meantime, I need you to answer one question. Why ask you to do this? What did you do to tick her off?"

"I don't know," Jayson shrugged. "The closest I got to an answer on that is Adriana trusts me. So I can only guess that my landing this task was thanks to her."

"Obviously, Adriana becoming a Junior Ambassador has dulled her judgment," the CEO said rolling her eyes.

Jayson was not in the mood for this kind of dealings, but right now he needed Sonja on another matter. "Can I ask you a personal question, Sir?"

"Oh, this should be good," the redhead grinned evilly.

"Is Ya'Han alright? I have barely seen her over the last 24 hours and I am worried about her."

"Listen," Sonja hissed. "She's a big girl and does not need you playing Boy Scout. Whatever is troubling her, and I am not saying that there is something, she will work it out without you hovering over her every move. Now, leave Ya'Han alone, go back to your work, and I will take care of this list for Xana."

As much as he did not like the answer he got, Jayson had little choice but to do what he was told.  As soon as he left Main Engineering, Sonja turned to the ship's avatar. "Find Ya'Han. She and I need to talk."

[/\]
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant Jayson Stark [Access Character BIO for Jayson Stark]
Chief of Operations
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P010: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34021.1600 ("A Friendly Chat")
=-=
"A Friendly Chat"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "The List" by Jayson / (BAS) "Code Black" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Holodeck
Stardate: 34021.1600

Watching Ya'Han move was mesmerizing. The way her movements effortlessly flowed one into the other made it seem as if the Nylaan was performing some magical ballet that the ExO / ILO could not help but admire. The best part of this was that their Chief of Security was not sporting the green-colored hair of an entertainer but rather the full bright red of her warrior training. To Shar'El, the dance of the entertainer and the fighting style of the warrior were very close, but the final results were worlds apart.

The Ullian started clapping her hands as soon as the lastest fight sequence was completed leaving a single person standing, surrounded by more than a dozen computer-generated opponents. "I think you have the fighting style of the Elasians figured out to perfection. I took the liberty of checking the settings of the program before walking in. Do you truly believe that you or any members of the retrieval team will be attacked by a full dozen of expert, military-trained, highly trained members of the Crimson Blade Order?"

"It never hurts to be prepared," Ya'Han replied while trying to catch her breath. "The situation on ELAS is likely to be volatile and dangerous, and as much as I am sure that the ANUBIS will be keeping a transporter look on every member of the away team at all times, we both know how easily that lock can be interfered with of straight out interrupted. We are being sent to apprehend a Shadow operative, and we know from experience how difficult that can be."

"Agreed, but Mordana is gone," the ExO / ILO clarified. "She was the worst of the worst, in every way imaginable. This one should not be anywhere as complicated or difficult to get our hands on."

"Commander, with all due respect, it is not like you to down-play a situation," the bright red-haired Chief of Security said as she moved in closer to the woman.

"Granted," Shar'El nodded. "Just like it is not like you to question your combat skills to this extent. No one could expect someone to do what you just did, this regardless of their combat proficiency. You are pushing yourself beyond even your limits, and that is not good, not for you and certainly not for the mission."

"I am not pushing myself any harder than I usually do," the Nylaan challenged in a tone that Ya'Han quickly realized was much more confrontational than it should have been, especially when addressing a superior officer.

"Ya'Han, I am not here as the ANUBIS' ExO or the ILO, I am here as a friend," Shar'El said, keeping her voice down to help make the Chief of Security feel a little less threatened. "You are pushing yourself harder than ever before, we both know it and we both know why." The Nylaan narrowed her eyes in a distinct show of displeasure but the Ullian did not give the woman the chance to voice her rapidly mounting anger. "I did not scan your memories, I did not have to. When anyone trains to this extent, they lose the ability to control their thoughts and memories. Each time you punched one of them down or flipped them into the air, you rage towards yourself came loud and clear. So much so that I was able to feel it from the IGC."

"Really?" Ya'Han gasped in horror.

"No, not really," Shar'El chuckled. "No matter how powerful a memory may be or how strongly it was projected, I still need to be in a line-of-sight to pick it up, but your reaction indicates that you know I am right. You are angry at yourself for what happened to the other Jayson, you are angry at yourself for the way you felt for him and you are angry at yourself for not being able to just go back to the real Jayson as if nothing happened."

"Sounds like you have been speaking to Adriana," Ya'Han sighed. As much as she wanted to argue all of the points made by the ExO / ILO, she knew that there was no point because everything said was true.

"I did not need to," Shar'El admitted. "I am the ANUBIS' ExO, this means that the well-being of the crew, be it physical, mental or even emotional, falls under my responsibility. The moment we came back from OLTHAR PRIME, I suspected how difficult things would be for you and hoped that I was wrong." The ExO / ILO stopped and looked at the dozen bodies scattered on the ground left there by the Chief of Security following her latest training exercise.

"Computer, end program," the Nylaan ordered, erasing the evidence being used against her, but that, of course, changed nothing about what Shar'El saw and how Ya'Han felt. "I guess my saying that I am alright is not going to change anything, right?"

"Right," Shar'El confirmed. "As your friend, I have to tell you that you need help. You need to talk to someone, and if it is not me, then talk to Adriana or Sonja. Honestly, I would suggest you stay away from Maya though unless you plan on spending a few hours being lectures as to the biochemical imbalances that your feelings are causing throughout your body."

Ya'Han actually laughed even if not for very long. "You are not going to tell me to talk to Jayson?"

"No," the raven-haired woman sais shaking her head. "Right now you owe it to yourself to get your thoughts and feelings straight first. Jayson cares a great deal for you and we both know that he will wait as long as it takes. He understands, at least in some part, what you are going through and he cares enough to not push you to resolve your feelings overnight."

"Thank you," Ya'Han said, "for being my friend."

"Do not thank me too quickly," the Commander added. "As the ANUBIS' ExO / ILO, I have to add one more thing. Until I get a clean bill of emotional health from Counselor Lopez in your regards, you will remain on restricted duty, this means that you will not be permitted to beam down to ELAS and take part in the hunt for the Shadow Operative."

Again Ya'Han was ready to challenge Shar'El but following a few long breaths, the Chief of Security simply nodded her head. "I understand."

"You have three days before we reach ELAS," Shar'El pointed out. "Speak to Sonja, speak to Satella, heck you can even speak to Xana. Get all of the help you need before going to see Adriana. I am not doing this because I don't believe you to be capable of performing your duties, you have proven yourself more than physically capable. I am doing this because I am worried about you and I would hate for the ANUBIS to lose you."

"Are you saying that as a friend of the ExO / ILO?" Ya'Han teased.

"Both," Shar'El replied. "Now, go take a shower and put on a fresh uniform. I do not think Captain Morningstar would appreciate having his Chief of Security look like she just came back from waging a war on some distant planet."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P011: USS ANUBIS: Paquette: 34019.1630 ("The Mother of All Talks")
"The Mother of All Talks"
previous posts were (ANU) "A Friendly Chat" / (BAS) "What's In The Box"

=====
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Paquette's Quarters
Stardate: 34019.1630

After making her presence known and being granted access to the Chief Engineer's quarters, Ya'Han carefully entered to find Sonja sitting at her desk speaking to someone on her desktop console.

"Hang on, I have a visitor," Sonja said as she muted the conversation in order to speak more freely with her guest.  "Are you done beating people up?"

"What?" Ya'Han said not having expected those to be the first words out of her friend's mouth. After realizing what she was talking about, the Nylaan sighed, holding her head down. "I am, but how did you know?

"Just a little over two hours ago I asked ANI to find you, which she did, in the holodeck. I went to talk to you then and walked in on you beating up half dozen Elasians into the afterlife only to bring them back and do it all over again, so I said to myself 'screw that, I am not talking to her like this'." Sonja explained. "I was not going to get in the middle of your Nylaan-style therapy session and I figured that when you were ready you would come to see me, which seems to be right now."

"I'm sorry," the woman with the now solid black hair said. "I did not mean to interrupt your conversation with whomever it is that you are talking to."

"Relax," the redhead said waving the woman's concerns away. "I'm just talking with my mother, and it's about you anyway."

"About me?" Ya'Han demanded before moving closer to confirm that it was indeed Sonja's mother on the other end of the communications channel. "What are you two talking about me for?" The woman with the black hair asked to which Sonja only unmuted the channel as a reply.

[/\] There you are sweetie, wait, weren't you a redhead last time we spoke. Black really doesn't suit you, it makes you seem sadder, anyway, Sonja told me everything, poor you, but you have to realize that you had more than this one, [/\] the older Terran woman said nodding towards her daughter. [/\] You had the love of two men, yes they were nearly identical, but you have to embrace their differences because although they might have appeared to be the same to you, I am sure that they saw you in a completely different manner as compared to the other. Even if they did share the same memories, they saw you from a completely different perspective. Your problem is that you are trying to look back at them from only one. [/\]

It was Ya'Han's turn to mute the conversation as she turned to look at Sonja with utter dismay. "You revealed the details of our last mission to your mother?"

"Will you relax," Sonja said again dismissing Ya'Han's concerns with a flamboyant wave of her hand. "Clones, transporter malfunctions, they are all the same to her and by tomorrow she won't even remember any of the details save those of your love life. As long as she is focussed on your love life, she'll leave me alone. As for the rest, don't you start accusing me of breaching our security protocols. Your situation is a lot more problematic than my talking to my mother could ever be." Having said this, the engineer unmuted the channel once more. "Mother, I have to go. We can talk about this later; right now Ya'Han needs my help."

[/\] Speaking of help, did you know that your sister managed to get to the ruins on ALTAR SIGMA all by herself? Those idiots at the museum actually pulled her funding away and she still managed to get a fully equipped team there to start digging. There is a lot you both could learn from her. [/\]

The daughter rolled her eyes with frustration and reached for the controls to the monitor. "Good bye, mother," the redhead engineer said just as she terminated the conversation. Now looking at Ya'Han, Sonja gave her friend a careful study before speaking. "I hate to admit it, but she is right."

"She's right? About what?" Ya'Han asked.

"Let's start with the fact that black really doesn't suit you. It might have been who you were once, but that is not who you are today. As for anything else, I am not admitting to my mother being right about anything without at least two full glasses of wine in me. At least that way I have enough ground to claim that it was not really me speaking but rather the wine."

"Would you rather us talking at a later time?"

"Absolutely not," Sonja fired back as she got up and went to fetch two large wine glasses and a bottle of red Chardonnay from her personal wine cellar located in a bottom cupboard. The Chief Engineer was not one to use replicated wine in a situation like this, or any situation come to think of it. "You are not leaving my quarters until you have drank enough that you hair will actually have forgotten what black is."

"I do not need to drink wine to change my hair color," Ya'Han said as her hair went from solid black to the more customary red/black mix. "I can do that all on my own."

=====
Lorraine Paquette

Lt Commander Sonja Paquette [Access Character BIO for Sonja Paquette]
Chief Engineering Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501
M15-P012: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34021.1915 ("Who Is Rilliz?")
Who Is Rilliz
previous posts were (ANU) "The Mother of All Talks" / (BAS) "What's In The Box"

=/\=
The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand 
-Frank Herbert

=/\=
Location: USS ANUBIS, Counselor’s Office
Stardate: 34019.1915


Adriana was sipping her water as she leaned back in her seat.  “There are many ways to respect the image but get what we want.”  Tilting her head, she said, “On the surface we need to ensure we are being friendly in a way that the Elusians will recognize and respect.”

Xana thought about that.  Skimming through the notes on her PADD she nodded,  “I agree.  This will be very tricky.  We’re going to have to be monitoring their body language closely.  I’m concerned that what they’re saying is not going to match what how they really feel.”

The Junior Ambassador/Counselor nodded at that.  “That’s true in so many areas of our lives; what we say and how we’re acting don’t often align.  It would take a true actor to not be able to show their feelings while saying another thing.”

Xana paused for a moment and just stared at Adriana, wondering how to bring up her missing twin.  She desperately wanted to ask how could Adriana have interactions with her deceased twin and everyone else around her not be aware of it.  

A sound trilled through the air.  =/\= Message for Bonviva, Xana, Ambassador =/\=

Xana sighed as she looked over at Adriana; she was loathe to interrupt their conversation.  “Computer, unless this is a priority message--”

=/\= Priority message,=/\= the Computer confirmed.

The azure woman closed her eyes.  “I brought that on myself.”  Rubbing her left temple she asked, “From whom?”

=/\= Bonviva, Gavirosh of F.I.E.R.C.E. =/\=

“I love my children...they’ve all mastered the art of ‘How To Send A Priority Message’.  This is only off because he’s not calling at 0300,” Xana admitted.  Pointing to a console she asked, “Do you mind?”

“Go ahead,” Adriana nodded.  

Xana moved over to the desk and tapped the screen so the images changed from the Federation to that of a man with long black hair, the beginnings of a beard (or more likely as Xana would have explained -- he just simply hadn’t shaved today), high cheekbones, and dark almost sleepy eyes.  Wherever he was it was daytime and they could see the desert vista behind him.  

It was clear, to Adriana, that despite the shared name, Gavrisosh Bonviva was not biologically related to the Ambassador.  However, when he opened his mouth, he certainly sounded like the woman sharing the room with her.  =/\=Hey Ma.   I got the note on you getting better but I know that’s not why you told me to call.  So what is this wild goose chase?  And who am I doing this wild goose chase for?  And news flash, I have a job. =/\=

Xana waved her hand as she changed the subject.  “First of all, it would not kill you to clean up. Shave your beard--”

=/\= I like my beard.=/\=

“You look like an uncivilized mountain man,” his mother shot back.  Sighing dramatically she said, “Adriana, meet my son, the Mountain Man.”

Adriana leaned over and looked at the screen.  The Ambassador’s eldest son looked to be about her age; nodding at him from she said, “Hello.”

Gavi threw up his hands, and Adriana noticed for a brief moment that Xana’s son wore black gloves on his hands.  =/\= Gods, woman, I’d tell you to stop interfering but that would be like telling you not to breath, =/\= he shot back.  Looking over at Adriana he said, =/\= And hello and welcome to our family drama. =/\=

Adriana looked vaguely amused.  “Not the first one I’ve been involved in.”

Gavi rolled his eyes.  =/\=Not shocking. =/\= Leaning in he said to his mother, =/\= Listen, do you want to know what I know or not? =/\=

Xana tapped her fingers on the desk.  She thought about the rounds of negotiation that she’d have to deal with and decided to cut to the chase.  Sighing she asked, “What will this cost me?”  

=/\= To be determined at a later date and time, =/\= Gavi shot back with a grin that transformed his usual serious face into something that was near charming.  Leaning back in his chair he said, =/\= After talking to the usual drifters and grifters that come into these camps, I found someone. =/\=  Seeing his mother open up her mouth a warning finger came up, =/\= Don’t even, Ma -- stay focused. =/\=

The Ambassador rolled her eyes.  “Get to the point, Gavi.  You found someone and….?”

Gavi sighed.  =/\=Right about that.  I found someone for your friend who lost her twin. =/\=  Pausing for a moment as he asked seriously, =/\= I’m surprised you didn’t just tell her about Aunt Corina.  That seems like it would be more appropriate here.=/\=

Xana paused for a moment, a ton of emotions playing on her face.  “Gavi, honey, what do you have?”

Gavi leaned in towards the screen.  =/\=All I got you was a name, Ma.  They said to find Rilliz.  I even tried to find out more info from my source but they upped and vanished.=/\=  The man across the universe looked questioning back at his mother, =/\=Who is Rilliz? =/\=

Xana looked over at Adriana who also looked confused. “Good question, I don’t think we know.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P013: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.0830 ("Counseling The Junior Ambassador")
-=-=-
"Counseling The Junior Ambassador"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Who is Rilliz?" & (BAS) "Patient vs Patience"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Counselor Lopez' Office  
Stardate: 34023.0830

The idea of being made a Junior Ambassador by Xana Bonviva was actually exciting. How many people could claim to have been given such an opportunity in their lifetime? The problem was that the work matched, and most of the time surpassed, the expected demands of the position leaving Adriana to feeling seriously overwhelmed. Not seeing the inside of her quarters or even feeling the comfort of her bed for over 24 hours straight was not helping matters.

The ANUBIS was less than 36 hours away from its destination, the Elasian homeworld of ELAS, a planet torn by conflicting political ideas that threatened to plunge the inhabitants into a civil war at a moment's notice. As a result, the pressure was on the diplomatic team to find an expedient way to resolve this situation as quickly as possible before things turned ugly making their mission that much more complicated, if not impossible.  The Counselor knew that the two Ambassadors would not only have to face the difficulties of the negotiations but that they would also have to keep an eye open for the Lokustaar operative responsible for this mess. With the retrieval team hunting the instigator, it was a likely possibility that the Shadow Agent might turn his attention on the diplomatic delegation to ensure that war did break out, one way or another.

The Lokustaar were not after any political gains, they were not even after making claims on lands, territory or people. The only thing the race was interested in seemed to be to spread chaos and destruction as far and wide as they could, going as far as to doing so beyond the confines of their own dimension. This changed everything as normal conflict resolution methods and techniques would prove ineffective in this situation. What Xana and Adriana needed to do was to make the Elasians understand that they were being played by an outside force that cared nothing about them, their ideas or even the outcome of this conflict. All they truly cared about was to see things unravel to the point where the streets would be covered with blood.

With that lovely thought dancing in the back of her mind, Adriana forced herself to study the dossiers of the faction leaders he diplomatic team would be dealing with. Evaanku was a dangerous woman who followed her father's footsteps in his views of cleansing ELAS of the influence of others. How ironic that the push for this had come from a being who himself was being influenced by creatures not even of this dimension?  Jeruun was the kind of businessman that could be found on countless outposts and starbases; a man doing his best to secure prosperity for himself and those who believed in him.  It was Anshaa who struct the Junior Ambassador as being a little on the odd side. Given her looks and skills, at least as they were listed to be on her dossier, the Elasian woman appeared to be somewhat out of place in the role of a trader. Either she was forced to work in this field for a reason not mentioned in the report of the well-known and attractive trader was using this as a cover for other, darker purposes.  One thing was certain, Lopez would have to keep a close eye on that woman.

"So," Amanda said, the mental projection of the missing twin sister having appeared sitting on the couch directly across from where Adriana was. "Figured out a way to fix this mess?"

"You know I have not," the sister sighed. "Why come now? You left me along throughout the night, so why appear now?"

"You are the Counselor," Amanda laughed. "You tell me. Maybe it's just because you felt lonely or you are seeking a way to get out of this. Let's face it, this is your first official stint as an Ambassador, and it is certainly not as glamorous as you might have hoped it to be. No grand banquet or fancy state dinner. You are heading into a room with people who are bent on ripping each other to shreds. Even if you do manage to get them to talk and realize that they are being played for fools, nothing will change unless the other team gets their hands on the Lokustaar agent. You guys are fighting an Intel war on two separate fronts in the hopes of stopping a civil war from starting."

"Do you truly think I do not know that?" Adriana snapped, her being tired making it impossible for her to think clearly. "I am trying to prove myself worthy of the honor Xana has given me, and I am not just talking about her officially making me a Junior Ambassador but also for protecting me when she could have just left me to rot in the brig."

"Yeah," Amanda chuckled. "Wanting to leave the person who saved your life to rot in jail is the usual reaction."

"That is not what I meant," Adriana fired back. "She could have looked at me and decided that I was too impulsive, too emotional, too undisciplined. All I wanted was to get her help in finding you and I was ready to sacrifice my career to accomplish that because I knew that her resources would go a long way. I knew that if I asked Shar'El of the Captain they might agree to help, but I was just a small, insignificant part of this crew. By saving Xana's life, I would make sure that she owed me a debt and that way I could rest knowing that someone was truly pulling out all of the stops to find you."

The Junior Ambassador paused and just stared at her sister for several seconds as the hair on the back of her neck stood on end. her back was to the door to her office but somehow she knew that someone had walked in during her conversation with her sister. That meant that whoever that person was had been given a front-row seat to the madness that was hers.  

Scared to discover who the person was, Adriana slowly turned to face the doorway, half hoping that she was imagining the presence of someone there. After seeing and hearing her missing sister, having to deal with another imaginary presence would not be all that strange. That possibility was quickly dismissed when the Junior Ambassador's eyes fell onto the azure tones of the Bolian/Human woman standing there, looking back at her with more than a hint of confusion and concern.

"Xana... I can explain."

"There is no need."

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P014: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34023: 0840 ("Vengeance")
“Vengeance”
[Previous post: (ANU) "Counseling The Junior Ambassador" & (BAS) "Patient vs Patience"]

=/\=
The song is ended, but the melody lingers on
-Irving Berlin

=/\=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Counselor Lopez' Office  
Stardate: 34023.0840

Xana watched Adriana, the Counselor’s dark eyes wide and unsure.  The Ambassador moved across the room and sat down on a chair in front of a console.  She typed something into the console as she said, “It’s hard.  I think even though we think we understand grief, we don’t allow for it.”  Pausing as she looked up she said, “Not really.”

Adriana just looked at the Ambassador.  “What do you know?” she asked, her voice wavering between defiance and curiosity.  

“It’s interesting.  Twins begin their identity in the womb.  Doesn’t matter if they’re identical or fraternal, it begins there.  And when the loss occurs there are the natural steps,” Xana said naturally.  

“I know what the steps of grief are,” Adriana grounded out.  Ticking them off she said, “Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; the stages are not linear nor progressive.”  Pacing she said, “The Kubler-Ross theory is centuries old, and has been built upon, tore down, and expanded upon in more ways than I can count.  Furthermore, Kubler-Ross wrote it as a way to help people understand how people understood the dying, not grief.”  Giving a pointed look to the Ambassador she said, “Know anything about that?”

The azure woman crossed her legs, appearing to be studying the Counselor.  “You know I do.”  Pausing the Ambassador thought through her next words, “After the initial shock, there’s a sense of vengeance after a loss of twin….it never leaves.  There are lots of reasons, from the cliche of having to live for two lives in one to the sense of survival to that ever presence echo in your soul...whatever the reason or reasons, that vengeance will be there.”  Standing up she walked over to the Counselor.  “But that vengeance can either drive you or kill you.  Only you can decide what to do with it.”

“I can’t control it,” Adriana snapped.  

Xana shook her head.  “I don’t believe that and I don’t think you do either.”  Touching Adriana’s arm she said, “If that were true, then Amanda’s image wouldn’t come to you when you were upset, she wouldn’t goad you when you were contemplating something.  She’d come to you at other times too.  That she *only* comes to you then means you are controlling it.”

There was a long pause before Adriana wrenched herself away.  “You don’t understand.”

The azure woman just looked at the Counselor before saying softly.  “If you say so.”  Without further word, she turned and walked out of the office.  

Adriana exhaled and collapsed on the couch, rubbing her brow.  After some time, she had a thought to get something to drink, perhaps find someone to see if they wanted something to drink or eat too...and only then did it occur to her to turn off everything in her office.  

Walking over to her console did Adriana see what the Ambassador had brought up on her screen.  Sitting down, the Counselor studied the two pictures.  It didn’t take a huge leap to figure out these were family pictures, but unlike the previous pictures Adrianna had seen these were of Ambassador with (what Adriana guessed) her siblings.  The first picture, judging from the age of it, Xana was young, perhaps just before a teenager with a twin sister, a younger brother, and much younger sister.  All four siblings were smiling, and judging from the location, Adriana guessed it to be on EARTH.

“Oh no,” Adriana murmured as she scanned down to the next picture.  

As the next picture was several years later judging from how much older everyone was but there were only 3 siblings: Xana with her brother and the much younger sister...but her twin sister was gone.  

=/\=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 34023.1100

Xana stood at the large windows, staring at the stars, when she heard the doors open.

“Ambassador.”  

It probably was the height of rudeness but she didn’t turn around right away.  She held her tea, desperately wishing for something stronger, as she greedily stared at the stars.  “You know, before Adriana bargained for my life, I had the realization that I missed the view.”  Turning around she addressed the person in the room, “Captain Morningstar.”

The Captain looked at the Ambassador questioningly.  “You asked for a meeting to discuss the view?”

Xana smiled at that.  “I wish,” she said.  Pausing she weighed her words.  “You’ve had enough time to review my record--”

“You’re record for Ambassador stands for itself--”

“Before that.”

There was a weighted silence in the Observation Lounge for the space of several minutes as the Ambassador and the Commanding Officer took measures of each other.  “You’re still here,” Erik Morningstar said finally breaking the tense silence.  

“I’m worried about someone on the crew,” Xana said quietly.

Erik studied the Ambassador.  Why was she being cagey?  “If you have a concern then bring it to--”

“I’m bringing it to you for a reason,” the Ambassador pointed out.  “Watch them.”  Walking over to stare at him she said, “Just watch.  You know better than I, there’s been a lot of stress.  It would break even the strongest person.”

“Regulations are clear here, either they can handle it or they can’t.  If they can’t, then they are removed from duty,” Morningstar pointed out.

Xana smiled wanly at that.  “Regulations are the only thing that are black and white; the rest of the universe operates in the gray.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P015: USS ANUBIS: Morningstar: 34023.1120 ("A Universe of Uncertainty")
##########
"A Universe of Uncertainty"
Previous posts (ANU) "Vengeance" / (BAS) "Patient vs Patience"
##########

"Part of being a captain is knowing when to smile, make the troops happy even when it's the last thing in the world you want to do. Because they're your troops and you have to take care of them."
- Captain Benjamin Sisko

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 34023.1120

“Regulations are the only thing that are black and white; the rest of the universe operates in the gray.”

The Native American Captain smiled as he joined the Bolian/Human Ambassador in her admiration of the starscape beyond the windows of the Observation Lounge. Erik knew all too well that Xana was right and that without him taking into account the specific field in which the ANUBIS and its crew operated in. Absolutes were not a part of life and even less so in the world of Intel. A life-long adversary could become an ally overnight, just as much as a trusted friend could turn into an unmatched enemy. Nothing about any of what they did was certain with maybe one single exception -- uncertainty.

Thinking back to recent events, Erik could easily see how everything fell under this banner. The way the situation with the clone of Lt. Jayson Stark, the subsequent undercover mission undertaken by their Chief of Security Lt. Ya'Han. The journey to OLTHAR PRIME and the battle in the underground ruins. No one could have predicted how any of this came to pass, just as no one could have imagined the way the lives of the Ship's Counsellor and Ambassador would be forever changed following what transpired on the planet.

Refocusing his thoughts on the warning he had just been given by Xana, Erik considered the uncertainties that laid before them. The mission to ELAS was uncertainty-given-form as there was no way to even begin to predict how things would unfold, especially when taking into consideration that the situation was being manipulated by an agent of the Lokustaar. Was this what the Ambassador was referring to when she offered her cryptic warning or was there something else? Was the azure-skinned woman's concern a general one or was it more specific, targetting one member of the crew above everyone else?

The Native American was about to ask, in a diplomatic manner, for some clarification when the voice of of the First Officer was heard =/\= Commander Shar'El to Captain Morningstar. You are needed on the bridge. =/\=

"That does not sound good," Xana pointed out.

"It never is," Erik agreed. Whatever discussion the Captain and Ambassador were in the middle of would have to wait.

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34023.1135

"Report," the Native American ordered as he stepped onto the command deck closely followed by the Ambassador.

"We have two Elasian destroyer-class vessels heading our way on an intercept course," Ya'Han reported. Erik was happy to see her back at her station but this was not the time to make that sentiment known.

"They are refusing to identify themselves or state the reason for their rapid approach," Jayson added.

=/\= Captain, I recommend that we do not take any chances. They might have been sent to escort us to ELAS but they could also have been sent to stop us from reaching the planet. There is no way for us to be 100% certain at this time, =/\= Shar'El said. Despite the First Officer not being on the bridge, the woman was more than involved with what was happening, partially thanks to her access to the resources of the IGC.

"Even with two ships, they are no match for the ANUBIS," Ya'Han pointed out. "We do not even need to deploy the ablative armour to ward off their main weapons."

"Captain," Xana interjected. "I should not need to remind you that we are here on an official diplomatic mission. Any action we take here could have negative repercussions on what we have been sent here to do."

"You are right, you do not need to remind me," Erik sad shooting a quick glare back at the Ambassador before returning his focus to the main view screen. "I am pretty certain that this is exactly the reason why they have been sent on this suicide mission. Whoever is behind this is expecting us to see those ships as a threatening move that will force us to act accordingly. Even if our actions are purely defensive, we will be portrayed as being the ones who used excessive force. How long before they are in firing range?"

"Based on what we know about this class of ship, optimal firing resolution will be in 45 seconds," the Chief of Security reported. "They could fire within the next 25 seconds, but the odds of them hitting us would be insignificant.

=/\= Captain, =/\= Shar'El jumped in. =/\= The Elasians are aware that a Federation vessel is being sent with a diplomatic team on board, but they do not know the ship or its tactical capabilities. =/\=

"Revealing any of our strengths is going to weaken our position later on," the Native American said thinking aloud. "We need to get out of this without tipping our hand. Helm, turn us around," Erik ordered before tapping his communicator. "Morningstar to Paquette, I need emergency warp speed in 5 seconds."

=/\= WHAT?!? =/\= Sonja blasted. =/\= Are you out of your cotton-picking mind? What do you think I am? A miracle worker? =/\=

"Sonja!" The Captain sighed making it clear that he was not in the mood for one of her flamboyant displays.

=/\= All right, just for the record, you certainly know how to take the fun out of this. Emergency warp speed at your disposal now. =/\=

"Lt. Stark, as soon as at the edge of sensor range of those Elasian destroyers, launch a Mark IV decoy probe. Let them think that we are heading back the way we came. Lt. Ya'Han, as soon as the probe is launched, engage the ablative amour. Once that is done, we will drop out of warp and wait to see what they do next," the Native American finally made his way to his chair and sat down. "Bridge to Commander Maya, I need you to perform a complete passive sensor scan of those ships. I want o know everything we can about them without giving any signs of our location and activities."

=/\= As you wish Captain, =/\= Maya replied.

=/\= The IGC will monitor all communications to and from those vessels, =/\= Shar'El added. =/\= The moment they believe we have withdrawn, someone is bound to brag about their victory, however fake it will be. =/\=

"Ambassador," Erik continued as he turned to look at the Bolian/Human woman who had not moved from where she had stopped following her exit of the Observation Lounge. "I suggest that you and Counsellor Lopez use this to get some information from the factions. Although I am sure that both will act very surprised at our *withdraw*, one of them should be hiding a certain level of joy if not relief. We need to know which side and this will likely identify who sent these destroyers our way."

"There is always the possibility that neither one of them did this," Xana pointed out. "Our sudden withdraw could be used by each side to blame the other for derailing the peace talks before they even started. Are you sure you want to *tip our hand* in this fashion?"

"They are going to learn about this one way or the other," the Captain noted. "I would prefer if we could manage to get some Intel out of this if at all possible."

"Very well," the Ambassador sighed, clearly not liking this part of the plan.

With Xana heading to the turbolift, the Captain tapped his communicator once again. "Bridge to Doctor Bruxa, I need to see you in my Reay Room as soon as possible. We may require your skills."

=/\= Ah... All right, =/\= Satella said, not at all certain as to what this was all about.

--==(/\)==--
Francois Charette

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA (currently on OLTHAR PRIME with his fiancée)
M15-P016: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34023.1200 ("Rapid Modifications")
=-=
"Rapid Modifications"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Digging Up Dirt" / (BAS) "Far-Reaching Implications"]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 34023.1200

As per the Captain's request, Satella walked into the Commanding Officer's Ready Room. The man was sitting at his desk, a pensive expression on his face.  "You wanted to see me, Captain? Is everything alright? Are you feeling ill?" The question made sense, at least to the CMO. The ANUBIS was not under attack and no injury report was made Sickbay. Morningstar being unwell was the only explanation she could come up with to justify why she was here.

"Everything is fine, Doctor," the Captain replied. "I needed you here for your expertise?"

Satella jerked back with surprise. "My expertise?" Epidemiology was her major at the Academy while Alien Biology was her minor. Had Shar'El discovered something new about the Elaisnas and their tinkering with bioweapons? Her additional training in Experimental Treatments and Genetics might be considered as expertise. One thing was for certain, her being able to play the violin was not what this was about.

The Captain's explanation was delayed by the sound of the door hissing open. It was the First Officer who walked in, surprised to see the Doctor standing there. Satella, on the other hand, accepted the woman's presence as proof of what she suspected. Something changed and it would likely not be good for the CMO of the ANUBIS.

The Captain turned his attenion to his First Officer. "What is our status with those Elasian Destroyers?"

Keeping an eye on Bruxa, Shar'El gave Morningstar a verbal report. "They took the bait. Both ships are following the decoy we sent. According to the pattern of their sensor sweeps, they have no idea as to our position.  Commander Maya is still analyzing the data gathered from our sensor scans as the ships flew by us." With that said, she turned to look at the Captain straight on. "Are you alright? Are you feeling ill?"

Erik shook his head. "Alright, point taken. I will need to have the Doctor report to my Ready Room more often. Even if only to say hello. She is actually here for you Commander." The two women turned and looked at each other, trying to figure out what this was all about. Morningstar took the opportunity to continue and explain his reasoning for bringing them here. "It is evident that someone is doing everything they can to sabotage the peace talks. This means that both our primary and secondary missions will be made that much more difficult. We need to position ourselves in the best possible way. That way we will be able to protect the diplomatic team and get our hands on the Lokustaar operative."

"You already wanted me and the rest of the retrieval team to beam down as Elasians. That way I would be able to scan the memories of the faction leaders before rejoining the team. What changed?" Shar'El was a little puzzled.

"The fact that those Destroyers were sent to stop us from reaching ELAS. Someone down there is worried and I intend to use this to our advantage."

"I was afraid of that," Shar'El sighed as she turned to Satella. "How quickly can you change my appearance to be like that of an Elasian?"

The CMO was actually taken aback by the question. Both the Captain and First Officer were operating on a level that she was not accustomed to. After regaining her mental footing, Satella offered an answer. "It should take an hour, maybe a little less if there are no complications."

"My guess is that those Destroyers are not going to be pursuing the decoy forever. Once they are confident enough that we are not changing course, they will set course back to ELAS. We need to be ready before then as it will be our goal to beam me on board one of those ships." Shar'El paused as she turned back to look at Erik. "Half hour, tops?"

"If we are lucky," the Captain said.

"Alright," the First Officer said turning back to look at the CMO before taking hold of her arm. "Come on Doctor. You have a lot of work to do and little time to do it in." With no other choice, if she wanted to keep her arm attached, Satella followed.  

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P017: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34023. 1220 ("The Biscotti Talks")
=/\=
“The Biscotti Talks”
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Rapid Modifications” / (BAS) "Patient vs Patience"]

=/\=
Look and see which way the wind blows before you commit yourself.
-Aesop’s Fables


=/\=
Location: USS ANUBIS, Black Hole Lounge
Stardate: 34023.1220

Often they met in the Counselor’s Office to discuss Diplomatic measures but as Adriana wandered into the Black Hole Lounge she wasn’t sure what to expect.  Her last discussion with the Ambassador had been exhausting; and the Junior Ambassador wasn’t sure if she wanted to have another conversation again so soon. 

Lopez walked into the Black Hole Lounge and started looking around at the tables, both lower and upper levels, for the Ambassador.  After several, if unfruitful, minutes of that she was about to question the computer if the Bolian/Terran woman was really here when something caught her eye.  Walking across the room, as she got closer the smell was what next hit the woman; a combination of citrus zest and something rich and deeply aromatic.  Finally, she made her way to the bar, where behind the counter where food was prepared she saw...the Ambassador baking.

“Oh hello, Adrianna,” Xana said.  As she moved around behind the counter, the other woman noted the change in appearance from earlier.  Gone were any robes, or accouterments indicating that there was any kind of formal discussions here.  Xana had her white hair pulled back into a haphazard ponytail and was dressed informally in a pair of black yoga slacks and tunic.  As she held a triangular bag with a metal pipe, melted chocolate with orange zest came out to be layered upon each log on the counter.  “I apologize for the change in venue, but after my time on the Bridge, I needed to think.  And I do my best thinking when I’m baking.  I figured I was close to being done when we had to meet so hence the change in venue.”

Looking over at the counter at the Adriana looked at Xana who went back to intently dippling each baked good into a bowl of chocolate and orange so each was ½ way covered with chocolate and the other ½ was still a dry baked good.  “What is that?”

“Biscotti,”  and asked.  “It’s an Italian, twice baked biscuit.  Typically it’s dipped in a drink.”

Adrianna looked over in interest.  “What was the reason for the chocolate?”

Xana stopped dipping each biscotti nicely half-way and instead dropped the last biscotti entirely in the bowl so it was “dunked”.  “I need a reason for chocolate?”  The dismay was apparent in her voice as she looked at the other woman.  

Taking pity on the older woman, Adriana smiled.  “No, I suppose not.” 

Sighing in relief, Xana looked at the damage.  “We have food, I have a drink, if you want one--”

“I got it,” Adriana replied.  Eager to get herself back on track she said, “And I’ve read the report from the Bridge.”

Xana cleaned up biscotti crumbs as she said, “Adriana...I’m going to say something.  And I’m probably going to say it badly.”  Pausing she searched for the right words before trying, “I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life.  I know the typical cliche is that the mistake you regret is the most is the one you didn’t take.  I don’t know about that.  But the mistakes I regret the most are the ones where I’ve hurt people...and that’s almost always because I didn’t give myself time. Time to heal from whatever I had, because I pushed myself.  Now you’re not me, you’re you but...serving the Federation whether its in the Fleet or as an Ambassador, always means you’re being pushed, unless you have enough recognition to say: ‘I need a break now’.”  

Adriana thought about that as she helped stacked the biscotti on the plate.  “A briefing...some analysis ...this is not what pushes me.”  When Xana looked worried the Junior Ambassador looked back steadily.  “I know what my trigger points are, for lack of a better term.”

The azure woman thought about that as she walked around the bar, balancing her tea and biscotti, momentarily marveling that not that long ago this would have been a herculean task.  And if it hadn’t been for Adriana, Xana would not would have been able to do this; which made the Ambassador wonder if that was her impetus for wanting to protect her.  Sighing to herself, she tried to make a mental note to come back to that train of thought as she acknowledged she had to trust Adriana’s analysis that she could handle the next steps.  Finding a table out of the way, she sat down and waited for the other woman to join her.  “So you got the report from the bridge, what do you think?”

Adriana twirled the biscotti above her own warm beverage.  “Daanold does concern me,” she admitted.  Thinking about it she swayed in her seat, “But perhaps that is what we have been told.  What we were led to believe.”

“You think he’s fluffy and kind,” Xana asked, slightly amused as she dipped her biscotti in her cappuccino before enjoying the treat, remembering well the last conversation she and Adriana had on Daanold.  

A snort of derision escaped the Junior Ambassador before she became serious.  “No he’s not.  But it would be rather convenient for us to focus all our attention on Daanold wouldn’t it?”  Suddenly Adriana became thoughtful, “It helps Puunce doesn’t it?  We focus on Daanold who appear to be the apparent immediate threat--”

“--and it clears the way for someone else to take over the board.  Puunce is resourceful, and didn’t strike me as the type of person who would be opposed to using tactics not approved by those advocating for the ELIAS peace talks,” Xana finished off as she agreed.  Thinking it through, she asked, “Wasn’t there someone else in the report?”

Adriana looked thoughtful.  “Lots of people.  You’re going to have to narrow it down.”

The Bolian/Human woman munched on her biscotti as she rearranged items on the table.  On one side she placed her own steaming mug, on the other side was Adriana’s mug, in the middle was the large plate.  Pointing to Adriana’s mug she said, “That’s Daanold and his faction.”  Pointing to her own mug she said, “That’s Puunce and his faction.”  Pointing to the middle she asked, “Who was left?”

“Assuming this is not to scale,” Adriana said. “I believe you’re referring to what was in the report as “Other interests”.  Jeruun and Anshaa are high profile traders are two to start.”  Tilting her head to the side as she picked up a biscotti she asked, “Why?”

Xana shook her head, as if trying to physically unlodge a prickly memory.  “Ferengi Rule of Acquisition 34: War Is Good For Business.”  Sighing she said, “I have the feeling that it’s not only the Ferengi who think war is good for business.”

“You know we’re not seeing the Ferengi,” Adriana pointed out.  “And there’s Ferengi Rule of Acquisition 35: Peace Is Good For Business.”  Looking at Xana’s face she asked, “You’re not buying that is the case here? A third outreach is what you’re thinking?”

“It’s taking initiative,” Xana said.  Pointing to each of the mugs and the plate of biscotti she said, “Ok, so who do you want to start with?  I figured we’re each going to have to start reaching out to the groups.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P018: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.1245 ("Reaching Out")
-=-=-
"Reaching Out"
[Previous post: (ANU) "The Biscotti Talks" & (BAS) "The OGRAAM"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Black Hole Lounge  
Stardate: 34023.1245

Adriana studied the cup in her hand thinking back to the exercise Xana and her had just went through. The situation on ELAS was complex and filled with pitfalls, but the Ambassador was right, they needed to take the initiative. Someone on that world wanted the peace talks to fail and see the planet plunged into the chaos and destruction of a civil war. The odds were good that the dark, unseen forces behind the scenes that were manipulating things were the same ones as those who caused the rapid increase in friction back on EARTH leading to the destruction of Paris. This also meant that it would be nearly impossible to clearly identify those responsibly. The solution needed to come from within, and given the respective mindset of the faction leaders, this would be a challenge all onto itself.

"The choice is simple," the Junior Ambassador said, bringing her cup up as if it held the answer to their dilemma. "As War Master of the Elasian military, Daanold is the one we need to reach out to first. As much as Puunce is the leader of the 'Dark Order', he is a subordinate, following the War Master's lead, so contacting him first could create friction hat we are trying our best to avoid. Also, Daanold's reaction to our reaching out to him should provide us with the answer we need about those Elasian destroyers that came after us."

"Are you sure?" Xana asked. "What about his daughter Evaanku? She is the leader of the Nationalist Puritans and the most vocal force to see ELAS cut all ties to all aliens."

"The faction, as well as its leader, are nothing more than a public front, a more acceptable and pleasing image to rally the public's support. Daanold knew that he would face a stronger opposition if it was him leading the charge, some likely accusing him of trying to mount a coup. This way, his daughter gets to be in the spotlight while he controls the military situation from the shadows," Adriana said. "I am sure that the War Master will sooner rather than later direct us to speak to his daughter in order to maintain his political distance from her and her faction, but he real power on that side of the debate is his."

"Could Jeruun and Anshaa see us reaching out to Daanold first as us taking sides in this conflict?" The Ambassador tried her best to come across as genuinely concerned, but as a Counselor, Adriana easily picked up on what was happening here. Xana was testing her Junior Ambassador making certain that the decision was sound and well thought through.

"Both Jeruun and Anshaa are experienced traders, that means they understand the need to properly set the scene in order to avoid problems and misunderstanding," Adriana explained. "It is unlikely that they will see us as taking sides because we reached out to Daanold first, but that is as long as we do not try to hide this from them. There is no need for us to inform the War Master that we are starting the peace talks from a distance, but it would be unwise for us to keep this information a secret from the other two as that could make them much less likely to trust us."

"Alright," Xana said with a smile. That the explanation was right or wrong, the Ambassador seemed to agree with it, at least enough to see them go back to a better-suited location in order to make the dreaded call.

-=-=-
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Counselor Lopez's Office  
Stardate: 34023.1300

As soon as the two Ambassadors entered the room, the Bolian/Human woman headed for the nearest communication terminal and activated it.

[/\] Yes Counselor, [/\] Jayson Stark said, not having actually looked at the image on his end of the communication channel before speaking. [/\] Sorry Ambassador, I just assumed based on where the signal was coming from. [/\]

"No need to apologize, Lieutenant," Xana said, the tone of her voice hinting that things might not be so easy. "What you could do is to establish a secured communication channel to ELAS. Junior Ambassador Lopez and I need to speak to War master Daanold."

[/\] Is that all? [/\] Jayson said, meeting the woman's casual tone with one of stunned disbelief. [/\] I strongly doubt that the man is that easily reached. [/\]

"If you are unable to do this, I am sure that Commander Shar'El or Lt. Commander Paquette will be able to find a way to get the War Master on the other end of a channel," Adriana said without actually walking in the frame of the visual communication between her office and the bridge.

[/\] I will see what I can do. Bridge out. [/\]

Xana turned to look at Adriana, both woman sharing a quick understated smile between them. "Impressive," the azure-skinned woman said. "That was a nice little way to flex your Ambassadorial muscles."

"Not really," Adriana chuckled. "That was more along the lines of a Ship's Counselor using the information they possessed on a member of the crew. "Jayson is always struggling to prove himself, and he dislikes the way Sonja always picks on him. So I knew that by using their names, it would motivate him to find a way to accomplish what we needed instead of finding excuses to justify what he believed to be impossible."

"I still think it was impressive, even if not for the same reasons." The friendly discussion between the two women ended when the small screen came alive once again, this time showing the face of the Elasian War Master Daanold.

[/\] I was told that this was important, [/\] the man said. It was easy to see by the expression and scars on his face that the War Master was not the type of individual who just sat behind a desk all day. He was a man of action, a man who did not like having his time wasted. Therefore, knowing this both Xana and Adriana jumped into action.

"War Master Daanold, my name if Xana Bonviva, Federation Ambassador on our way to ELAS to help you and your people resolve the mounting friction that is threatening to rip your world and people apart." The introduction was short, sweet and did not offer any sort of apologies, experience having taught the Bolian that this would only weaken their position in the eyes of the Elasian Military Leader.

[/\] Yes, we were informed of your coming, [/\] the War Master said, not sounding overly impressed or enthusiastic. [/\] We have already assured the Federation that you and your vessel would be safe for the duration of your diplomatic mission to ELAS, so I see no reason why you are contacting me like this. [/\]

Xana and Adriana shared a quick glance. The man did not give any indications that he was surprised by the call, but his annoyance was genuine.

"We simply wanted to extend our gratitude for the Destroyer escort that was sent to meet us," Adriana said. There was no real way to see if the War Master had been involved with this other than to confront him straight on about the situation, but there was a way to do this that would minimize any potential problem.

Daanold's eyes narrowed ever so slightly before he spoke again. [/\] I look forward to speaking with in person when you arrive. In the meantime, I have pressing matters that require my immediate attention. [/\] With hat said the channel was closed leaving the two Ambassadors to analyze what had just happened.

"He was not the one who sent those Destroyers," Adriana said with a sigh.

"It was highly unlikely that he would have been the one to do it. This way he could claim to be unaware of it, but you are right, his reaction was not one of concealment but of displeasure. Someone went over his head and he is not happy about it," Xana said before turning back to the small communication monitor. "Now we have to contact Jeruun and Anshaa and see how they react to this."

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P019: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.1245 ("Jumping Ship")
=-=
"Jumping Ship"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Reaching Out" by Marissa / (BAS) "The OGRAAM" by Dawn]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Sickbay
Stardate: 34023.1300

Shar'El studied the reflection in the mirror that was not her own. The similarities were unmistakable but the woman looking back at the ExO / ILO was not Ullian nor Terran but clearly Elasian. Her hair was still as black as night but instead of being straight the flowing hair was now in long, tight curls. The shape of her eyes was slightly different but she could still acknowledge the person hiding behind the black pupils as someone she recognized.

"Excellent work Doctor," Shar'El said while her fingers traced the contour of her new face.

"It would have been a lot harder had you still been sporting your initial features," the CMO explained. "The cosmetic surgery performed on you to make you appear more Human made things a great deal easier for me, not that your Ullian features would have made things worse, just a lot more time-consuming."

The ExO / ILO diligently scrutinized the reflection, trying as best as she could to recall the woman that was once looking back so many years ago. The faces of those she had seen the more private and personal memories of were the only ones she could bring up, her own former appearance remaining beyond her reach. As troubling as this realization was, the ExO / ILO could not let this distract her from the mission she was about to embark on. "Thank you, Doctor," Shar'El said as she forced herself to look away from the reflective surface. "I believe it is time for me to head to the transporter room."

=-=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Transporter Room 2
Stardate: 34023.1330

The Elasian woman dressed in a standard military uniform stood on the other side of the transporter control station waiting for a report from the bridge. In theory, Shar'El could have returned to the IGC and coordinate the beaming efforts but doing a sight-to-sight transport from the IGC to the transporter room only to be beamed onto one of the Elasian Destroyers did seemed to be problematic. It was best to keep things simple even if it went against the nature of the ExO / ILO.

=/\= Bridge to Commander Shar'El, we have one of the Elasian Destroyers heading back this way, =/\= the Chief of Operations reported. =/\= What is strange is that they are now broadcasting a message on all open frequencies. It seems that they are here to escort us to ELAS. It has to be some sort of a trap, =/\= Jayson added. =/\= If this is what they wanted to do from the start, why wait until now to make such an announcement? =/\=

"There might be another reason," Shar'El sighed as she reached for the communications controls on the transporter station. "Shar'El to Ambassador Bonviva. Were you able to get a hold of War Master Daanold?"

=/\= We did, =/\= Xana confirmed. =/\= Is that a problem? =/\=

"No, not really," the ExO / ILO replied. 'We just have one of the Destroyers heading back this way announcing on all open channels that they are here to escort us to ELAS."

=/\= The War Master did seem rather surprised when we thanked him for sending those ships, =/\= the Bolian/Human Ambassador said. =/\= My guess is that one of his 'pressing matters' he referred to at the end of our conversation was to contact those ships and clarify or counter the orders they were given. =/\=

"Could also be his way to bring himself above suspicion," the surgically altered woman added. "Either way, it changes nothing to the Captain's plan. I will be beaming over and see what I can find out. It should be easy enough to scan the memories of one of the command-level officers to see where the order to intercept us came from."

=/\= Commander, I would like to officially state my objection to this course of action. Should you be found out, it would undermine any diplomatic effort to resolve this situation. =/\=

"Ambassador," Shar'El sighed. "I understand where you are coming from, but you have to remember that your diplomatic mission to ELAS is only half of the reason why we are here. Whatever peace you and Lopez might manage to usher would be short-lived if the Lokustaar operative is not found and removed from that world.  For this mission to succeed, we need to win on *both* fronts, not just one. Also, any information I am able to gather could prove highly useful to you and your Junior Ambassador as it could provide you with a negotiating edge that you would otherwise not have."

=/\= I agree, =/\= Xana stated in a nonchalant manner. =/\= I just needed to make it official that as the Diplomatic Officer on board this ship, I have to oppose your chosen course of action. =/\=

"So noted Ambassador, so noted," and with that said the ExO / ILO closed the channel. "Can you get me onto that Destroyer in an area where I will not be seen, preferably a moving turbolift?" the Elasian military officer asked of the Transporter Chief.

"He can't," Sonja said as she walked into the room, "but I can." Shar'El smiled as she watched the red-haired woman hip-bump the Transporter Chief out of her way. The Chief Engineer would have made a wonderful Intel Operative, but it would likely have been a waste of her knowledge and expertise. Being onboard the ANUBIS and in charge of all of its state-of-the-art gadgets was where the woman belonged. "If you would be so kind as to step onto the transporter platform, I will take care of sending you over without anyone being the wiser."

"Thank you Sonja," the ExO / ILO said before turning to make her way up a couple of steps to the stated area.

"Sonja? How do you know me? I have no idea who you are. I am just here to get you off my ship and back onto that flying garbage tug the Elasians refer to as a Destroyer." The smile on the Chief Engineer's lips showed that she was kidding, but it also served to show that the surgical alterations performed by Doctor Bruxa were as convincing as they needed to be.  "Try to not have too much fun while you are over there," Sonja added. "I would hate to have to beam in after you and arrange for your extraction."

"So noted," the ExO / ILO smiled just before the transporter sequence was activated sending the Elasian military woman where she would not draw any sort of attention, or so they all hoped.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P020: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34023.1345 ("Tracking")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Tracking"
[previous post were (ANU) "Jumping Ship" / (BAS) "The OGRAAM"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34023.1345

"Transport completed," the Sec/Tac reported. "Shar'El is on the Elasian Destroyer and I am not picking up any signs that her arrival was detected.

"No reasons why they should," ANI said sounding almost smug about it. "We transmitted a computer file a split second before the Commander's beaming so that the internal sensors would recognize her as being a member of the crew. This also serves to make sure that she will have complete access to every section of the ship."

"The mechanical aspects were covered," Jayson reluctantly agreed. "The problem is the 'Human element', or I guess in this case I should say the 'Elasian element'. Fooling the computer into believing that the crew was always 'plus one' is one thing, but it will not be that easy to convince the crew. This is not a luxury star-liner; it's a military vessel where everyone knows everyone else."

"Do not underestimate Shar'El," Ya'Han said. "This is not her first undercover mission. The woman had been in worse situations, and she has skills that will make things a lot easier. She can scan someone's memories and use details there to help convince anyone that she was there with them, that they remember her being there or not.  Plus, I doubt that Shar'El is going to be doing a lot of socializing with the crew of the Elasian Destroyer, doing so is just not her style."

The red and black-haired Nylaan paused for a moment, thinking back to the times spent with Shar'El, usually in Sonja's quarters enjoying wine. On top of her engineering expertise, Paquette had quite a refined taste for fine wines, a beverage that always helped those present to unwind allowing them to be something other than a simple off-duty officer. Even while under the influence of the intoxicating liquid, the normally stoic woman remained pretty much the same. Yes, she would appear more relaxed and maybe even smile a little more often but as a whole, the raven-haired woman kept to herself, choosing observation over interaction.

"What is the status of the Elasian Destroyers?" The Captain's question drew the Sec/Tac out of her thoughts, which should have been on her duties and not memories.

A quick scan of the tactical station provided Ya'Han with all of the information she needed to answer the Captain's question. "The Ablative Armor is still making it impossible for them to detect us. According to their flight path and sensor sweeps, they are desperately looking for us while making their way back to ELAS."

"Ship's records will show that they were looking for us, but they are in no rush to find us," Jayson noted. "If they were, they would not be heading in the opposite direction they last saw us following."

"Ambassador Bonviva's little chat with War Master Daanold rattled things. If the Elasian was the one who dispatched those Destroyers, he is playing the innocent quite well, and if it was not him, someone is likely trying to avoid him at all costs. Either way, the ships have been recalled home," the Captain said.

"I think this is better," Ya'Han added. "I would much rather us doing the escorting than the other way around. At least this way we can keep control of the situation and investigate without anyone paying too close attention to what we are doing."

"Maybe so," Jayson countered. "The problem is that it is going to make it difficult for us to explain how the Ambassadors are suddenly going to appear on ELAS. The existence of the covert retrieval team not being known is part of the game, but Bonviva and Lopez need to make a more public entrance to avoid being seen as trying to do something underhanded."

"We will have to address that problem once we reach ELAS," the Captain said. "Whatever Intel Shar'El is able to gather on that Destroyer might very well dictate our course of action once we arrive. Worst case scenario will be for Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez to conduct the negotiations from a distance, maybe using holographic technology instead of them beaming down to the planet surface."

"The Ambassador is not going to like that," the Sec/Tac said. Ya'Han may not have known Xana as well as she might need to, but the Nylaan knew enough about the Bolian/Human hybrid to understand that she was the type of person who liked to be where the action was. In addition, remotely conducting any sort of peace negotiation was possibly the worst way to handle things as it displayed a lack of trust and commitment that was essential for people to even just start to acknowledge that they needed to be there to talk instead of anywhere else fighting.

A set of flashing indicator on the tactical display accompanied by an alarm drew the urgent attention of the Sec/Tac who immediately displayed a head of bright red hair.  "That does not sound good," the Captain said.

"Sensors are tracking four more Elasian Destroyers heading this way at maximum speed. Their weapons systems are fully powered," Ya'Han reported.

"I thought you said that they could no detect us," Jayson said, not understanding what was happening.

"They can't," the Sec/Tac confirmed. "They are not rushing in to confront us," Ya'Han added. "The flight path of the new Destroyers is putting them on a direct intercept course with the first Elasian Destroyers sent to meet us. By the looks of things, this new wave is under orders to engage the first group."

"How are we supposed to usher in peace when all they want to do is kill each other?" Jayson complained aloud.

"I think we have a bigger issue," the bright red-haired Nylaan said. "The destroyers nearest to us have raised their battle deflectors which is making it impossible for us to beam Shar'El back."

A shared sighed of frustration echoed through the command deck of the ANUBIS. Many options were available to them; they could engage the attacking Destroyers, easily dispatching them, or they could offer support to the first group by using the heavily armored shell to deflect the weapons fire. The problem was that in either case, the presence of the Federation vessel, as well as its cloaking capabilities, would be revealed to the Elasians, something that would most certainly weaken their position as well as hinder their chances to complete both of their missions.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P021: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34023.1400 ("Who We Need You To Be")
“Who We Need You To Be”
[previous post were (ANU) "Tracking" / (BAS) "Healing The Healer"]

=/\=
I know that we can win
I know that greatness lies in you
But remember from here on in
History has its eyes on you

--From Hamilton’s “History Has Its Eyes On You”

=/\=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Counselor Lopez's Office 
Stardate: 34023.1400

“You didn’t think Commander Shar’El would really turn around did you?” Adriana asked.  

Xana drummed her fingers on the arm of her chair as she looked at the screen while reading.  “No,” she murmured.  “But sometimes you need to raise the point even if you know nothing will happen.”

The two women went back to sitting, waiting, swiping along the PADDs waiting to see how long it would be before they could contact their contacts again.  Suddenly the console went off began beeping and both women went for it to activate it.  Jayson Stark was on the other side.  

[/\] Hello.  We’ve gone from silence to being the most popular.  We’ve two communications for you -- we have Puunce waiting for you and also Jeruun. [/\]  

Xana ran a hand through her hair.  Puunce, the leader of one of the Dark Order faction, and Jeruun, business leader and leader of the Expensionists' on another line.  “I’m never the popular one at the party,” she snorted.  “One console and two calls.  Someone is bound to be pissed off if we keep them waiting.”

Adriana got up and looked around her office and the waiting area.  “Two,” she said.  Looking over she clarified.  “I have two.  One in here and one out there.”

The Bolian/Human woman thought quickly on that and nodded.  “Delay them for two minutes and then send one to the outer room, Jayson, and one to Adriana’s office.”

[/\] Delay them how? [/\] Jayson asked.

Xana threw up her hands at that.  “Sing them an aria.  Juggle.  Try a dramatic reading of Admiral Koniki’s autobiography--”

[/\] He does not have an autobiography, [/\] Jayson sighed.

“He does and much like the man himself, it’s boring and mean.  I even said that on my dust jacket review, read them that too,” Xana said.  “Go forth and stall, I have faith in you.  Bonviva out,” the Ambassador said.  Quickly turning to Adriana she said, “We need to get info out of Puunce and Jeruun.”

“This could be coordinated if they’re calling together,” Adriana said.

Moving to the outer room, Xana nodded.  “Could be.  Still doesn’t mean we can’t use this.”  

As the Ambassador sat down on the sofa, she made sure she could still see Adriana out of the corner of her eye.  Taking a deep breath, she checked that her white robes were on straight she looked at the console and tapped it.  Slowly the image changed from the Federation symbol to that of an Elasian male.

=/\=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, CO’s Ready Room
Stardate: 34023.1430

“So neither party said that they were responsible for the destroyers?” Captain Morningstar said, clearly not happy.

Ambassador Bonviva, on the other side of the desk pointed out.  “Well I didn’t think they were going to go ‘Whoops you got me,’.  I think that would be a bit optimistic.”   At CO’s look she shrugged, “Nice, yes, but not terribly realistic outcome.”

“So what was your 'realistic' outcome,” Morningstar asked, clearly not happy with the Diplomatic team.

“We do have commitment from Puunce that he’ll meet us and will show us around his operations on ELAS as a sign of good faith.  He also extended an invitation to anyone we want from the ANUBIS,” Bonviva said.  Leaning in she said, “I think he’s going overboard to out-do Daanold.  If we’re smart, we could use this to our advantage.”

“This is not a field trip,” Morningstar replied.  Thinking about it he said, “Still it’s an unprecedented opportunity.  We need to be careful.”

“I agree,” Xana nodded.  

The Captain nodded then turned to Adriana.  “How was your conversation?”

“Business is neutral, officially, on the talks,” she said.  

“To be expected,” Captain replied.  Looking at the CNS/Junior Ambassador he asked, “Is there something else?”

Adriana hesitated for a moment.  “I said this to the Ambassador too, but I got the feeling that Jeruun is holding back.  Not just waiting to see who comes out on top, but he’s got more of an interest in this than he’s saying.”

=/\=
Setting: ELASIAN DESTROYER, Corridor outside Engineering -> Engineering
Stardate: 34023.1435

Shar’El kept to herself as she made her way down the corridor.  She had not been here long, but so far no one had noticed her.  Obviously the longer she went without being noticed, the better it was for the ExO/ILO.  

“Where have you been?  You’re needed there,” an officer yelled at her.

Expertly hiding her surprise at being noticed, Shar’El gave a crisp nod and followed the officer.  Looking around she saw that she was being led to Engineering.  Inhaling slightly she followed the rough jerk of the head to see what console she was supposed to be at.  Moving to the 2nd console at the far side of the room, she had barely gotten there when an Elasian man came up next to her.  “Not here,” he said quietly.

Shar’El didn’t need to reach out much telepathically to sense that he was very nervous; troubled even.  “Where?” she asked quietly.

“Come,” he said.  Quietly he led her across Engineering to a different console, before walking away.  

Shar’El looked at him before looking at the screen.  At first it looked like normal schematics of the destroyer but suddenly the schematics shifted and a question popped up on screen:

ARE YOU WHO WE NEED YOU TO BE?

The question disappeared within a matter of moments and the schematics came back; without turning around, Shar’El felt around for the person who led her here.  He was gone.

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P022: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.1440 ("Insider Intel")
=-=
"Insider Intel"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Who We Need You To Be" by Sarah / (BAS) "Healing The Healer" by moi]
=-=

Setting: Elysian Destroyer, Engineering
Stardate: 34023.1440

The undercover Ullian scanned the most recent memories of everyone in the room, searching for anything that might give her a clue as to the identity and whereabouts of the Elasian officer who ushered her to this station. Despite her best efforts though, the ExO / ILO was unable to find anything useful making Shar'El silently note to herself that whoever this person was, they would make a great Intel Operative if they did not already hold such a position.

Refocusing her attention to the engineering screen and the schematics displayed there, the ExO / ILO caught a glimpse of a small picture in the upper right corner of the screen. With a touch of her finger, Shar'El enlarged the image to discover that it was a tactical display, one that clearly showed the new Destroyers on an intercept course.  "This can't be good," the undercover officer whispered to herself just as the screen flashed the previous question once more. Clearly, someone was waiting for an answer, and the fact that the words were written in Terran English instead of Elasian, causing them to be dismissed as incomprehensible garbage should anyone else see this, it was clear that she was the one targetted by this question.

Shar'El gave the occupants of the room another quick telepathic scan before turning back and offering a single written word as her reply -- 'yes'. When the lights began to flicker soon after, the ExO / ILO believed that maybe the ship had been fired upon by one of the approaching Destroyer, but that quickly changed when someone took hold of her arm and pulled her into a secret passage hidden right next to the workstation.

The panel that suddenly opened closed just as quickly, trapping the undercover ExO / ILO in a small, dark corridor with another Elasian who quickly displayed his wide opened hands to show that they were unarmed. "Commander Shar'El I presume," the man said, looking at the woman's face with great interest as if trying to see beyond the expert work of Doctor Bruxa.

The Ullian narrowed her eyes in muted anger. Not only had she been made but also they knew who she was, and this did not sit well with the undercover officer. It was true that since her appointment to the ANUBIS her field operations had dwindled to near nothing, but Shar'El hoped that she was not that much out of practice to be so inept as what she was trained to do.  A quick scan of the man's memories somewhat softened her stance through the discovery of a name she recognized. "You know Tarken?"

"Yes," the Elasian man confirmed. "He sent us here. The moment he heard that the ANUBIS was heading to ELAS, he suspected that you would find your way onboard one of the Destroyers to gather Intel. We are not many, but enough to have a few people present on each of the ships. It also helped that he told us exactly what to look for."

As the Elasian said this, the memories of the man in question came to the surface allowing Shar'El to 'see' that what was being said was indeed the truth. Tarken, another operative working under the cloak of NEW ALEXANDRIA had been sent to ELAS a while ago to keep an eye on the political rumblings of that world. The reason why the two of them knew each other so well was that they spent a great deal of time together at the Academy before being both drafted by Admiral Koniki into his world of Intel. The two of them had stayed in contact as best they could over the years, but their respective missions made it impossible for them to do more than share a few written lines here and there. "You said he sent 'us'. Who is this 'us'?"

"Things on ELAS are not good," the man explained. "Since Evaanku began pushing the Nationalist Puritans' agenda, tensions have increased in the population. Some quickly sided with her but most simply feared her thanks to her father. As a War Master of the Elasian military, his name was quickly associated with the disappearance of those who openly voiced their objections to his daughter. No proofs were ever discovered to be able to point the finger at him, but those who might have been ready to speak up soon found themselves too scared to do so."

"How did Jeruun managed to avoid this fate?" Shar'El asked. The more the man spoke, and the more she scanned his memories of what he was talking about, the more the undercover officer knew that she could trust him to be a viable source of information. The fact that Tarken was their handler only made the task of trusting them that much easier as she did not doubt in the least his abilities to assess just how much worth a potential ally possessed.

"Jeruun was the leader of the Expansionists long before Evaanku came to be known to the public," the Elasian man said. "This made him too much of a public figure to be suddenly take out of the picture. There are also rumors that one of his trading partners, Anshaa, possesses some incriminating information on both Evaanku and Daanold. No one knows what this information is, but the fact that both father and daughter seem to be actively avoiding the woman supports this idea."

"According to the reports, neither the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans nor the decorated War Master is the type of person to be scared of someone or something," Shar'El noted. "So for them to keep their distances from someone is quite telling. This will definitively be worth looking into."

"There is another reason why Tarken sent us here in the hopes of finding you," the Elasian man said. "He came across some Intel that made it clear someone in a position of influence is planning on using the ANUBIS and its crew to plunge ELAS into a civil war the likes of which has never been seen or imagined by my people. The conflict between opposing views is only the excuse being used to fuel the fire and heat tempers. In order for any peace talks to even have the chance to succeed, this individual must be removed from the equation."

"You wouldn't happen to have the name of this person by any chance?" the ExO / ILO asked, already knowing the answer but hoping that maybe she was wrong.

The Elasian man shook his head. "He could not even confirm that this person is Elasian or not. Whoever they are, they are as impossible to find as a shadow in a dark alley."

"Strange that you chose that way to describe this person," Shar'El half chuckled. "My crew and I have some experience in dealing with shadows, especially the type that does not want to be found and exposed.  Now, all we need is a way to get the ANUBIS to ELAS without our presence actually starting this war."

"I am not sure if that is going to be possible," the Elasian said. "From what I heard from the control room, there was another group of Destroyers sent, and this one is not looking for your ship but is instead targetting our ships. The war may start right here without any help from you. I am sure that the story will be spun to claim that your ship was somehow responsible, but I am afraid that it may be too late for you to do anything to stop this war from happening."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P023: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34023.1445 ("Unnerving Stillness")
=-=
"Unnerving Stillness"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Insider Intel" / (BAS) "Healing The Healer"]
=-=

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Sickbay
Stardate: 34023.1445

Satella stood in the middle of Sickbay, alone. The medical staff was out getting ready for what might come to pass. The yellow flashing lights indicated that the situation had deteriorated but was still not a crisis. To be honest, the CMO doubted that it would go that far. It was unlikely that the Elasian Destroyers would breach the ANUBIS' defenses. Even if they combined their firepower, Dr. Bruxa was confident that the ship's external protective armor would hold. As sure as she was about this though, protocol dictated that her department stood at the ready, just in case. At the very least, it gave everyone in the medical department something to focus on instead of waiting to see what would happen next. Everyone with one glaring exception.

The primary role of Dr. Bruxa in such a situation was to be ready to coordinate and help with triage. It would also be her responsibility to address the medical needs of those most in need. Given what she knew of their current situation, Satella could not help wonder if there was not a better way. As a Doctor, she wholeheartedly believed in the idea of doing no harm. This belief often came under fire because of her chosen field of work. Dealing with the darkness of the universe often made it impossible to uphold her Hippocratic Oath to the idealistic visions imposed by her professors. Sometimes, it was necessary to inflict pain to a few in order to save many from suffering even more. Of course, Bruxa did this reluctantly but life in Starfleet was not about what one wanted to do. There was no escaping that life on board a starship was about what needed to be done.

What would happen if they fired first? Satella trusted Ya'Han and her expertise with the ship's weapons to limit the damage to an absolute minimum. The woman with the flowing red hair could easily target critical systems without actually destroying the ships. Would that not be a better outcome over waiting for the Elasians to attack each other and putting the ANUBIS right in the middle of this battle?

It would be better if they found a way to stop this conflict before it even started. That was part of the reason why the ANUBIS and its diplomatic team were sent here. Unlike the Doctor though, the Elasian faction leaders seemed more than willing to see this conflict spread as far and wide as they could manage it.  Thinking this, Satella found herself looking around Sickbay once again. Not so long ago, there would have been someone here with whom she could talk to. Not only did this help the physician in dealing with whatever situation was happening, but it also helped the CNS with her own issues. Sharing reassuring words between them meant that she was not dealing with the visions of her sister.  Now, Adriana was a Junior Ambassador, dealing with this particular situation firsthand.

Bruxa had to acknowledge the irony of this. In some ways, Adriana being where she was now was better than her being here in Sickbay. In her new role as a Junior Ambassador, she possessed the authority to stop all of this before people suffered. Despite this, Satella still wished that her friend was here keeping her company.

Knowing that thinking this way was counterproductive, Dr. Bruxa forced herself back to work. Internal sensors showed that all of the emergency teams were in place. Everyone was where they needed to be to provide a quick medical response should the need arise. Everything in Sickbay was equally ready, even if the department head was not. All that was left to do was to wait and see if Adriana and Xana would succeed with their diplomatic efforts. If those failed, it would be up to Ya'Han, Jayson and the other bridge officers to limit the damage. In the end, it would be up to the CMO and her teams to pick up the pieces if it went that far.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P024: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34023.1500 ("Waiting")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Waiting"
[previous post were (ANU) "Unnerving Stillness" / (BAS) "Why? Why Not?"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34023.1500

The situation was tense. The Elasian Destroyers sent to intercept the ANUBIS were on their way back home when the second group of ships confronted them head-on. Based on their formation and status of their weapons, the Sec/Tac was certain that the encounter would quickly escalate into a full-blown confrontation.  As bad as it sounded though, Ya'Han was not at all concerned for the safety of the ship or its crew.

While under the protection of the Cloaking Ablative Armor, the ANUBIS was as safe as could be for no other reason than none of the Destroyers could lock their sensors or weapons on them. Even if they did manage to get a lucky shot in against the Intel Cruiser, the strength of the protective shell was more than enough to ward off any possible damage. What worried the Sec/Tac though was that none of the Elasian Destroyers possessed this sort of defensive technology and Commander Shar'El was on board one of them. The possibility of her death following the ship she was on being damaged was all too real.

So it made sense that the ANUBIS stood at the ready to jump into the fight in order to protect the first set of Destroyers and the undercover officer on board. It would only take a single volley of their weapons to end this battle and save the first group of ships, but that would result in the official start of a civil war they were here to stop from happening. The record of how a smaller force defeated a larger one would soon be forgotten in the chaos that would follow and it was more than likely that no one would recall the specifics of how this all started. The Lokustaar and their agents did not care about how history took note of how things came to pass, all they cared about was to see war, destruction, and chaos be spread as far and wide as it could.

"What are they waiting for?" Jayson impatiently asked as he watched the two groups of ships facing one another on the main view screen. "If they were sent to start this war, why have they not done so already?"

"Maybe Ambassador Bonviva or Junior Ambassador Lopez had something to do with that?" The Sec/Tac offered as a possible explanation. "History often claims that it only takes one person to start a war, but the same can be said for the opposite. It only takes one person to stop a war, so maybe Xana and Adriana were able to reach that one person."

"I still say we should beam Commander Shar'El back," Jayson argued. "Once she is no longer in danger, we could easily disable all of the ships and let them limp their way back home. By the time they reach ELAS, we will have this whole situation resolved."

"It's not that easy," Ya'Han said, shooting a sideways glare at the man. "It's never that easy. As far as the Elasians are concerned, the ANUBIS left their system, so anyone could use the involvement by an unseen and unknown force to push the tension on that world to beyond the breaking point. If our presence is discovered, be it by an operative being discovered on board one of those destroyers or by this ship being detected, one side would surely try to claim that we are here to help the other in an effort to rally support. As much as we both want to see *something* happen, we have no other choice but to wait and see what happens next.  Shar'El, Xana, and Adriana are the only ones currently in a position to be able to act and help."

"Patience is one of the greatest tools we have in this line of work," Captain Morningstar said, the man had remained silent through the back and forth argument between his two bridge officers. "As much as we all would rather be actively involved in this, we have to be patient and wait to see what happens next. Anything we do could have a major impact on this situation, so we have to tread carefully.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P025: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.1515 ("Plan B")
=-=
"Plan B"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Waiting" by Hanali / (BAS) "Like Waves On a Beach" by Francois]
=-=

Setting: Elysian Destroyer, Maintenance Corridor
Stardate: 34023.1515

In order to avoid her presence on this alien ship being detected, Shar'El had set up in one of the narrow maintenance corridors situated right next to the primary power conduits. Unless something major was to happen, it was unlikely that someone from the crew of the Destroyer would come down here, the problem was that this left the undercover officer with no way to know what was happening. Her contact reported that a new group of Elasian vessels had been dispatched to intercept the first group, but so far, the ships had not engaged. The best-case scenario the ExO / ILO could come up with was that Ambassador Bonviva and/or Junior Ambassador Lopez had successfully worked their diplomatic magic and smoothed things over. All other options to explain this uneasy tranquility were less than palpable as it involved various degrees of betrayal and murders at the upper echelons of the Elasian Government.

At least there was one comforting thought; Tarken was on ELAS keeping an eye on things. His being there would make things easier for the ANUBIS and its crew, but that was as long as they managed to reach the planet without triggering a civil war. Under normal circumstances, the cloaking armor would be more than sufficient to hide the ship while the crew proceeded with their mission, but thanks to the Elasians actively searching for any reason to start this war, the ANUBIS could not afford to be anywhere near the planet. They needed to come up with another plan, another way for them to safely reach the planet in order to proceded with their mission.

The sound of someone making their way toward her made the ExO / ILO change position, both to offer her a better explanation as to why she was here and to permit her to defend herself should the need arise. Shar'El's posture softened when she saw that is was her Elasian contact who was approaching.

"We have been ordered back to ELAS," the Elasian said clearly sounding demoralized. "In order to avoid any issues, the Captains of the Destroyers sent after the ANUBIS have agreed to surrender their command and have their ships escorted back home."

"Alright," the ExO / ILO said nodding her head. "This should give the ANUBIS the flexibility to get a little closer to ELAS without being detected."

"I would not count on that," the Elasian said. "Whoever is behind this wants to make sure that your ship does not get anywhere close to ELAS, at least not without triggering every alarm on the planet. There are countless vessels patrolling the system, casting a detection net capable of picking up cloaked vessels, and the orbital communication network has been modified to search for hidden vessels. Someone is doing their best to drag your ship into this mess and pin the start of the civil war on you."

"That is going to make things a great deal more difficult," Shar'El noted. "Bonviva and Lopez can conduct their peace talk remotely, but our mission also includes extracting the Lokustaar agent who is more than likely behind all this. That is going to be very difficult to accomplish if we are not able to reach ELAS."

"I wish I could help, but this is well beyond what I can do. Your best bet is to return to your ship and figure something out, in the meantime, I will wait for us to be brought back to ELAS and inform Tarken of what happened here. Maybe another opportunity will present itself before it is too late for you to help my people." The Elasian paused for a moment. "Can I ask you for a favor?"

"You can ask," the undercover ExO / ILO replied.

"Don't give up on my world," he pleaded. "I know that the Elasians are not the nicest and friendliest of people, but the last thing I want to see is my world destroyed by our own hands. We have accomplished too much to see all destroyed because of the ignorance and prejudice of a select few."

"We will do our best," Shar'El said trying to be as reassuring as possible. The truth was that there were no guarantees in this line of work, but the ExO / ILO understood where the man was coming from, and for that alone she would leave no stone unturned to help him and his people see their way through the darkness that was upon them.

The Elasian smiled and silently thanked the undercover agent before returning to his life and duties leaving the ExO / ILO to consider what their next course of action might be. How would they reach ELAS without the ANUBIS? How would they set foot on the planet in order to hunt the Lokustaar operative without triggering any of the alarms set specifically for them? How would they manage to save a world on the edge of civil war without triggering what they were here to stop?

With all of these questions dancing in her head, Shar'El reached for the subdermal communicator implanted behind her ear and signaled her readiness to return to the ANUBIS. Maybe there was someone there who would be able to offer a viable 'Plan B' for them to use in order to complete their mission and save an entire world from total devastation.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P026: USS ANUBIS: Maya: 34023.1530 ("C is for Covert Approach")
---
"C is for Covert Approach"
(Previous Posts: (ANU) "Plan B" / (BAS) "Like Waves on a Beach")
---

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 34023.1530

As soon as Commander Shar'El was back on the ANUBIS, an emergency senior staff meeting was called by Captain Morningstar to discuss the situation, the latest Intel and their best course of action. It was evident that plan A, the ANUBIS reaching ELAS and establishing standard orbit, was no longer valid forcing the crew to come up with an alternate plan. Judging by the way the First Officer was fidgeting, if Plan B had been formed in any way it was still in its early infancy, which explained the need for this emergency meeting.

Even before the last of the senior officer was sitting, Commander Shar'El began the meeting with her report. "We have an asset on ELAS by the name of Tarken. He was able to send some of his people to make contact with us, which they did with me. The situation on ELAS is precarious, to say the least, and the ANUBIS is being targeted to provide a reason for the civil war to start and drag the Federation into this conflict."

"So we have to reach ELAS without being detected?" The Chief Engineer rhetorically asked. "That should be easy enough; the Elasian sensors are no match for our cloaking armour. We could land the ANUBIS right in the middle of their capital city without them knowing we were there. Alright, the starship-shaped crush zone might give our presence away, but you get what I mean."

"Unfortunately it will not be that easy," the Commander added. "The Elasians have mobilized the majority of their starships to search the system for any ship that might be trying to sneak its way to ELAS, and even if we did manage to get close enough, the planetary communication grid has been modified to search for cloaked vessels. Whoever is responsible for this is making sure that every possibility has been looked at. Even the HATHOR would have a hard time making its way to the planet without being detected."

"What about this asset of ours?" Lieutenant Stark asked. "Could he not help us in some way?"

"Tarken has already done the best he could by sending trusted individuals to make contact with us," the Commander replied. "He took a huge risk in spreading his people onto every ship that might make contact with us, greatly increasing the odds of him and his operation being discovered. We cannot ask any more from him, not without ensuring that his situation is compromised."

"So, what do you have in mind?" Doctor Bruxa asked of the woman who still appeared Elasian.

"To be completely honest, I am not sure," Shar'El replied.

"We do have a little bit of time," Ya'Han offered while calling up a holographic tactical display in the center of the conference table. "The Destroyers do not appear to be in any rush to head back to ELAS, this will give us some time to come up with a plan."

"Time is relative," the Commander added. "The closer we get to ELAS, the great the odds are of us running into one of their detection nets. Whatever we decided to do, we need to do it quickly."

"The Elasians are looking for the ANUBIS, so they will be ignoring their own vessels, no?" The Shillian Chief Science Officer asked.

"They are not searching for the ANUBIS specifically," the Commander corrected. "They know that it was this ship that was sent to lead the peace talks, but they are looking for any Federation vessel in order to use their presence in the system as an excuse to start this war."

"What if we took the SPHINX to ELAS?" Maya suggested looking directly at the First Officer. "The Mobile Command Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art camouflage and sensor dampening equipment. It is also able to magnetically attach itself to the outer hull of any of those destroyers. In theory, the craft would be able to easily get passed all of the detection grid and scan since the Elasians are looking for a full-size vessel and not a small infiltration team. Even if they conducted a thorough search of the Destroyers, searching for an infiltration team inside, they would not find anything while visual and sensor sweeps of the outside would reveal nothing that might raise any concerns. We could reach ELAS without any issues and still have some technical support from the SPHINX to aid us in our mission."

Shar'El considered the suggestion before looking at the Captain who appeared in favour of this new plan as it seemed to provide them with everything they needed in order to proceed with their mission. "How long would it take to get the SPHINX ready for this?" the Commander asked of the Chief Engineer.

"Two, maybe three hours," Sonja said in all seriousness, "but for you, I'll have it done in less than 10 minutes."

"The SPHINX has a maximum complement of 8," Junior Ambassador Lopez stated. "Who will you be sending?" The question was directed to both the First officer and Commanding Officer who quickly looked at each other before Shar'El answered.

"I will lead the extraction team and need Ya'Han to be there with me," Shar'El explained. "Lieutenant Commander Maya can take care of sensors and help coordinate our efforts from the SPHINX. Doctor Bruxa will need to come alone to perform her magic on the team as having any non-Elasians on the planet surface could make things a lot more complicated for us. I believe that the best choice for the remaining four members of the team would be Sonja, Ani, and two marine officers."

"So you intend for me and Adriana to remain on the ANUBIS and conduct the peace talks how exactly?" Xana hissed. Having a few conversations using the communication channels with the faction leaders was one thing, but taking care of a sensitive matter such as peace talks required them to be on site.

"We could always set one of the holodecks to offer a more general meeting area," the Chief of Operations suggested. "That way, everyone would be safe while still being able to talk and see each other during the negotiations."

"That might sound good to you, but I can assure you that a holodeck meeting is not going to be as effective as the real thing," Ambassador Bonviva stated. "The first step to getting people to talk is to have them in the same room and recognize that those sitting on the other side of the table are just as scared and vulnerable as they are, even if they claim otherwise. This "safety" you want us to enjoy is going to hinder our ability to accomplish our objective."

"Ambassador," Maya offered. "Even if you were to come with us on the SPHINX, it would be much safer for both you and Junior Ambassador Lopez to remain on the craft and conduct your negotiations remotely. At least here on the ANUBIS, you would benefit from all of the available resources including comfortable beds to rest in between the negotiations."

The Captain could see that Xana and Adriana were about to voice their disagreement with this plan, so Erik stepped in. "I understand how sensitive this whole thing is, but I also have to take into account the safety of everyone under my command. Once the Lokustaar operative had been extracted from ELAS and the situation defused, we can arrange for both of you to reach ELAS safely, but right now I believe it best for you to remain on the ANUBIS."

"Then it is decided," Commander Shar'El quickly followed with. "Everyone going to the SPHINX has 5 minutes to get ready. We are leaving in ten, so get going."

---
Jessica Solarik

Lieutenant Commander Maya [Access Character BIO for Maya]
Chief Science Officer
USS ANUBIS

&

Captain Selene Fiona Iverson [Access Character BIO for Selene Iverson]
Commanding Officer
USS BASTET

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M15-P027: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.1535 ("Deliberating")
-=-=-
"Deliberating"
[Previous post: (ANU) "C is for Covert Approach" & (BAS) "Light-Footed"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Deck 28, Ventral Access Bay Observation Platform
Stardate: 34023.1535

Adriana stood behind the thick, protective glass separating the ANUBIS' Ventral Access Bay and the Observation Platform. From where she stood, the Junior Ambassador could see the retrieval team rushing to get ready as quickly as possible. Right now, Xana was speaking with the Captain, making her point as to the Ambassadorial team being including in this covert mission. Their ability to bring any sort of peace talks to a successful completion would be greatly increased even if only one of the two Ambassadors were physically present on ELAS.

The Junior Ambassador agreed that conducting such talks via a holodeck would make everything a lot safer for everyone involved, but confronting danger was an integral part of the dynamic of such an endeavor. Knowing that either side could strike without warning kept everyone on their toes and far more willing to listen and possibly agree to less appealing compromises. With the faction leaders in the relative safety of their home bases, all sides could simple elect to tune everyone else out without anyone being the wiser.  The more Adriana thought about this, the more the Counselor turned Junior Ambassador believed that them being on ELAS was the only way to achieve their goal of saving the planet from what would most certainly turn out to be a history shattering civil conflict. When it came to creating havoc, the Lokustaar and their agents never did another on a small scale. If the Elasians could not be convinced that they were being manipulated into this civil war, the final result would leave their world in ruins the likes of which they would not be able to emerge for several decades, if at all.

A nervous smile flashed on the Counsellor's lips when she saw her friend the Chief Medical Officer making her way to the SPHINX. Satella stopped and looked over her shoulder as if somehow aware that someone was looking at her from the observation platform. The two women exchanged a quick wave of the hand, acknowledging each other's presence and concerns without saying anything. It was more than likely that Bruxa was relieved that neither Lopez nor Bonviva was part of the team giving her fewer people to be concerned about.

On the other hand, Adriana not being there with Satella during this covert mission made the Counselor more nervous as she would not be there to share in whatever hell the team would run into on ELAS. As a Junior Ambassador, that sentiment seemed to make little sense to the woman, but as the Ship's Counselor for the ANUBIS, and close friend to the Chief Medical Officer, the uneasiness she experienced made perfect sense.

"Why not just go and sneak onto the SPHINX?" Amanda asked, the hallucination of the twin sister manifested herself with her back leaning against the angled protective glass.

Adriana laughed. She knew that this was just her own way of explaining to herself why this impulsive thought was not a valid option. "Let's see," the sister said without even looking at the mental projection of her sister. "The SPHINX only has room for eight and any extra weight and mass could cause the craft to not operate at peak efficiency leading to it possibly being detected by the Elasians. At least, that is what I imagine Sonja would say even if it were not entirely true. My being on ELAS could also create problems on its own as I would have to try and contact the faction leaders in order to start the peace talks, something that would be impossible to do without revealing how I managed to arrive on the planet." The Counselor paused before turning to look at her illusion of her sister. "As much as I want to be there with them, to be there with Satella, my place is here with Xana. Whatever may come to pass, the mission of the Ambassadorial team can only be completed if we work together. Getting the Elasians to realize how they are being played is already going to be difficult enough without splitting our resources."

"You realize that you have made a choice between the woman who is your friend and the woman who elevated you to the position that you currently hold, right?" The question was a simple one, but the implications that it held caused Adriana to very carefully consider her answer, even if she did not intend to voice it aloud.

=/\= Bonviva to Lopez, meet me in Shuttle Bay 2, =/\= Xana said over the communication system surprising Adriana who was momentarily lost in her own thoughts.

"Shuttle Bay 2?" the Junior Ambassador said.

=/\= This is going to make for a very long and pointless conversation if you repeat everything I say, =/\= Xana pointed out in a way that left Adriana to wonder if the Bolian/Human was kidding or not. =/\= Captain Morningstar has agreed to have us head to ELAS using one of the runabouts. Once the SPHINX the ANUBIS will leave the sector and allow us to leave the ship well out of range of any detection grid. We will then made our way back to the destroyer convoy and request them to provide us with a diplomatic escort. =/\=

"What is going to stop them from shooting us the moment we get within range?" Adriana asked, the Junior Ambassador not completely sold on this idea.

=/\= We will have a few minutes to get a hold of the faction leaders and convince them that it is to their best advantage to ensure our safe journey to ELAS, =/\= Xana explained. =/\= The ANUBIS will not be too far behind and I have the Captain's assurance that he will have everything in place to make sure nothing happens to us. I will explain the rest of this plan once you are here in Shuttle Bay 2. See you soon, Bonviva out. =/\=

"Looks like Xana made the decision for you," Amanda said, the hallucination of the missing twin sister still leaning back against the protective glass. "You should be happy, now you get to be out there instead of in here without having to worry Satella."

"Should I be happy?" Adriana asked of herself giving the Ventral Access Bay and the SPHINX one last glance before making her way to Shuttle Bay 2.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P028: USS ANUBIS: Stark: 34023.1540 ("Emotions")
"Emotions"
[previous (ANU) "Deliberating" / (BAS) "Light-Footed"]

[/\]
Setting: USS SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34021.1540

Shar'El sat at the command station while Ani, Sonja, Maya, and Ya'Han respectively sat at the Operations, Engineering, Communications, and Tactical stations. The final pre-flight checks had been completed and the SPHINX was ready to leave. That was when an unexpected call from the OPS Officer came through.

=/\= I am sorry to bother you Commander, but I need Ya'Han to step out of the SPHINX for a moment. Your departure will only be delayed by a few seconds. =/\=

The Commander and the Chief of Security exchange a quick look before Shar'El reluctantly motioned with her head for the red and black-haired Nylaan to go.

"Don't let him take too much of your time," Sonja said to Ya'Han as she watched the Chief of Security make a hasty exit out of the SPHINX.

[/\]
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Deck 29, Ventral Access Bay
Stardate: 34021.1541

"Jayson, what is it?" Ya'Han said, her hair now appearing as red as could be hinting to her mood.

He could tell that she was annoyed for having interrupted their departure, but what he needed to say would not take that much time. "I just wanted to say that I love you. I know that things between us have not been as good as they have been or as they should be, but I did not want you to leave on this mission without being absolutely certain of my feelings for you.  I could have asked Captain Morningstar to take Ani's place on the SPHINX, but that would have added another unwanted variable thanks to that bio-engineered weapon of the Elasians that targets males. That is the only reason why I am staying here because I believe that my presence by your side might make things more dangerous for you. I just had to let you know this, and I suspect that it would not have gone over well if I have done so over an opened comm channel."

"I have to go," Ya'Han said. This was certainly not the reaction he expected, but it was still one that he understood. As much as he would have liked to see her acknowledge his feelings with more passion, the Ops Officer also knew that making such a display was not in her character, especially not after all that had happened on OLTHAR PRIME.  Jayson just watched as the woman stepped back into the SPHINX before the doors to the specialized craft closed and sealed behind her. The best he could do was to take some level of comfort in the fact that he voiced his feelings to her and that maybe it would help her make it through what they would face and back to the ANUBIS safe and sound.

[/\]
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34021.1550

Jayson returned as quickly as he could to the bridge and the Operations station so that he could take note of the SPHINX's progress in attaching itself to one of the Elasian destroyers. "Thanks to the slow speed of the destroyers, the SPHINX is not having any issues catching up to them. They should be in an optimal position in a few minutes. According to the sensor sweeps from the Elasian ships, they have no clues as to what is about to happen."

"I will be feeling a lot better once the SPHINX reports that they have attached to one of the hulls without anyone noticing," the Captain said. "Once that is done, we need to take the ANUBIS out of this system in order to give the Runabout with Ambassador Bonviva and Lopez on board the chance to leave without being detected. We will track their progress back to the destroyers from that point on."

"It is amazing the amount of work that we have to do just to place ourselves in a position where we can help these people," Jayson said, voicing his feelings. "You would think that it would be easier to help people not destroy themselves."

"If it was not for the Lokustaar interference, I am sure that all of this would not be necessary," the Captain said. "The Elasians are an unfortunate pawn in this game, and it is even more unfortunate that one side of this conflict cares nothing about what happens to them. Their goal is to create mistrust leading to chaos, and from there war would be just a simple and almost expected next step. Sometimes, we have to fight against the most basic of common sense in order to get things done, and even then, there are no guarantees that it will work."

Jayson thought about what the Captain had just said, shifting the focus from the Elasians to s more personal issue. His relationship with Ya'Han was going through hard times and there were instances when he felt as if he was fighting against things that he should never have been. Understanding, at least in part, the emotional tug-of-war Ya'Han was dealing with due to the death of his clone, there was little Stark could do other than to wait and hope that she would return to him.

[/\]
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant Jayson Stark [Access Character BIO for Jayson Stark]
Chief of Operations
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P029: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34023.1600 ("Frightening Fragility")
=-=
"Frightening Fragility"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Emotions" / (BAS) "Light-Footed"]
=-=

Setting: USS SPHINX, Infirmary
Stardate: 34023.1600

The command staff was in charge of the craft. Their tasks of piloting the SPHINX to attach it to one of the Elasian destroyers demanded all of their attention. That was why the two Marines who came along waited in the back section while the Doctor sat alone in the infirmary.

The room was perfectly Spartan in its design. Everything was within arm's reach of the CMO and there was nothing here to distract her thoughts. Satella had planned on reviewing the Elasian's weaponized tears, but right now Dr. Bruxa was just too scared to do this.  While on board the ANUBIS, she felt safe. The armor and sheer size of the Intel cruiser were enough to instill such feelings in her.

Unfortunately, the SPHINX possessed neither the size nor defensive resources of the ANUBIS.  Here, sitting in this small room, Satella was painfully aware of every shift and turn the specialized craft was making. Bruxa even considered for a moment that it would have been nice for Lopez to be here. As a friend and Counselor, she would have been able to help her stay calm. The Doctor quickly scolded herself for having such selfish thoughts. Adriana was needed for far more important things, namely stopping the war on ELAS before it started.

Satella closed her eyes when the SPHINX began to shake. Out of simple reflex, the CMO grabbed hold of the first thing she could reach. Had they been discovered? Was this unexpected jolt because they were trying to escape? Were they being fired upon? A thousand and one possibilities flashed in her mind. None of them good ones. Maybe this had not been such a good idea, but in order to reach ELAS they had to try something.

"Relax Doctor," one of the Marines said. "We are likely only going through the magnetic field surrounding these old-style ships. There is nothing to be concerned about, it is all perfectly normal."

"What makes you think that I was worried?" Satella was trying to be as confident as she could. The odds were that she was not fooling the Marine in the least, but she still needed to try.

"The death-grip in that panel says otherwise." The Marine appeared amused as she pointed this out to the physician.  Satella quickly looked at her hand. Her knuckles were white and the muscles of her arm were as tight as could be. There was no way for the CMO to explain this away. Her fear was out in the open and there was nothing she could do to hide it.

"Don't worry Doctor, we have done worse," the second Marine said as she joined in on the discussion. "The first time you get deployed on one of those drop ships, you feel like the universe is about to fall apart. Everything shakes so much that you are sure your equipment is going to fall off your shoulders."

"It takes some getting used to," the first marine added. "Some never do, so you have nothing to feel bad about. By the way, I'm Sergeant Carter and this is Corporal O'Malley."

Another rumble delayed Satella's next acknowledgment of the introductions. Dr. Bruxa quickly regained control of herself and continued. "Glad to have you both here with us. Did you volunteer for this mission or were you drafted?"

"We volunteered," Carter said glancing at O'Malley. "The Major said that he needed two Human females for a search and retrieve mission. He did not explain why his request was so specific, and we did not ask. That is part of the reason why we are here now."

"We noticed that every other officer on this ship is also female," O'Malley said. "So we were wondering what kind of 'retrieval' mission we were taking part in."

Satella chuckled easily imagining what the Marines might be thinking. "Captain Morningstar wanted to reduce the potential for trouble to the bare minimum. The Elasians have developed a bio-engineered weapon that specifically targets males. This makes them completely susceptible to suggestions made by the first woman they encounter."

"That's a weird weapon to engineer," O'Malley said. "That said, I could see how someone would want to use something like that. Most military forces we are aware of are predominantly male in their composition."

"Alright," Carter continued. "That explains the gender specifications, but why Humans? There are much stronger and faster Marines out there, so why limit ourselves this way?"

"Everyone on board the SPHINX will need to be made to appear Elasian," Satella explained. "Human physiology is the easiest one to alter to chive this. Physically, Humans and Elasians are also very similar, making it that much easier for us to blend in."

"See," O'Malley grinned. "Told you that is was something like that. It made no sense for the Major to target Human females like that. The only way that might have made sense would be for him to be a Ferengi in disguise."

Carter laughed. "It would explain a few things though. Alright Doctor, when do you need us to undergo these cosmetic changes?"

"I would be ready to do them now," the CMO said hesitantly. "The problem is that as long as the SPHINX shakes like this, I will not be able to do anything. Any unexpected vibration could cause me to do something that might be so easily undone.  Just as Satella said this, the sound of metal touching metal filled the entire craft.  O'Malley, Carter, and Bruxa looked around as if trying to determine what exactly was the cause of this noise.

"Looks like you have already met our two Marines," Shar'El said. The Commander had left the flight deck to inform the Doctor of their situation. "We are magnetically attached to one of the destroyers. The camouflage system is holding and there does not seem to be any issues. The Elasians show no sign of being aware that we are here. Maya figures that we should reach ELAS in about 22 hours. Do you believe that this will be enough time for you to do what is needed?"

Satella looked at the two Marines before returning her attention to Shar'El who already appeared Elasian. "I am sure that it will not take 3 hours per person to complete the cosmetic alterations. There should be ample time."

"Good," Shar'El said. "Anyone specific you would like to start with?"

"The two ladies here have already volunteered to be here, I could start with them."

"Very well Doctor," the Commander said. "Let me know when you are done."

As soon as Shar'El was gone, Satella turned her attention back to Carter. "Sergeant?"

"Call me Rebecca," the woman said with a smile before pointing to the Corporal. "Grace can go first. That way you get to have a trial run before me."

Clearly not having a choice in the matter, O'Malley jumped on the one bed present in the room. "Can I ask you for a favor?" Grace said in a whispered voice.

"Of course," Satella replied.

"Whatever you do, don't make me look like her," Grace said pointing to Rebecca. "I'll take looks over a higher rank any day."

The three women laughed. As dangerous as their situation was, it was nice to be able to forget about it all, even if only for a brief moment.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P030: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34023.1800 ("Grim")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Grim"
[previous post were (ANU) "Frightening Fragility" / (BAS) "Business Breakfast"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS SPHINX, Infirmary
Stardate: 34023.1800

With 3 Elasians already wandering the inside of the SPHINX, it was the Sec/Tac's turn to report to the Infirmary and join their ranks. The procedure, according to Sergeant Carter, was simple and painless, exactly what Ya'Han expected from Satella.

"Welcome to my humble abode," the CMO said greeting the Sec/Tac. "If you would be so kind as to carefully make your way to the examination bed, I will be right with you. I say 'carefully' because this room is by no means my Sickbay and the amount of elbow space is much less than I am used to or prefer."

"Commander Shar'El said that you wanted to see me next," the Sec/Tac said as she lifted herself on the bed. "Any specific reason?"

"Changing a Human to appear Elasian is easy, doing the same with a Nylaan may prove to be slightly more challenging," Satella said.

"Physiologically speaking, Nylaans are for the greater part as similar to Elasians as Humans," Ya'Han pointed out.

"You do have one ability that the Elasians do not," Satella said slightly tilting her head to one side. "Your hair color changes according to your mood, and according to your medical file, this ability is not 100% controlled. Part of what I have to do here is to find a way to suppress this ability so that your hair doesn't suddenly change in the middle of a stressful situation."

Ya'Han caught a glimpse of a lock of black hair as it fell into view, perfectly proving Satella's point. Knowing that there was nothing she could say to oppose or even challenge the Doctor, the Sec/Tac moved the lock of hair behind her ear and leaned back on the examination bed. For as long as she can remember, the now exiled daughter of the High Sovereign was made to look upon her hair as something to be proud of, something that defined her identity not only as a Nylaan but as a member of the royal family. She learned to control the changes in color but as time passed this ability became more of a reflex than a conscious act.

"Now just relax," Satella said applying a hypospray to Ya'Han's neck. "This is nothing more than a mild muscular sedative in order to make sure that there are no scar tissues caused by the surgery. It will also make it more comfortable for you while I do what needs to be done. You may experience a sensation of light-headedness but it will not last very long. You have nothing to worry about, everything will be just fine."

The Sec/Tac gently nodded her head already feeling the effect of whatever she had been injected with. Her body felt heavy, sinking into thin padding of the medical examination table. A few seconds later, Ya'Han found it impossible to keep her eyes open so she abandoned herself to the peace that was being forced upon her.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: Dreamscape

Ya'Han found herself standing in the courtyard of the Imperial palace, her eyes drawn to the grayness that surrounded her. Not a hint of color could be seen in the skies overhead of the mountain range in the distant. The flowers in the nearby garden were equally grim in appearance giving the scene a nightmarish feel about it.

In the blink of an eye, Ya'Han found herself back in her room, surrounded by the familiar objects that she grew up knowing. Like everything outside, every item and wall was completely deprived of color, appearing as nothing more than shades of gray. The Nylaan was ready to accept this as being normal, blaming her eyes for not being able to see colors, but when she caught a glimpse of her hair in the mirror she understood that this was not the case.

Ya'Han gazed at the reflection in the mirror, looking at the gray-skin tones framed by the bright and vibrant red of her hair. There were no doubts about it, she could see colors, but right now, her hair was the only thing that she could see in this manner, everything else was as gray as could be.  As she continued to gaze upon her reflection, she noticed that the bright red color of her hair was slowly vanishing, replaced by the same gray that now filled this world.

"You are nothing," the woman heard her father say, his voice filled with anger and hatred. "You could have been admired by countless, cherished and even envied by all, but instead you decided to be a nobody. Every day you become less and less, and soon you will be made to lose what little bit you had left that gave you any real reason to look back upon yourself with any amount of pride. You ran away and gave up your right to be someone of importance within your family. You turned your back on your world and will never be accepted back as a Nylaan, not even as a black-haired commoner. You even went as far as to turn your back to the one person you found it within him to love you despite all of your flaws, and because of this, you will end up being alone for the rest of your days. You are nothing, and that is exactly what you deserve to be. You are not worthy to be a wife, a daughter and certainly not a Nylaan."

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: USS SPHINX, Infirmary
Stardate: 34023.1845

Ya'Han opened her eyes to see Doctor Bruxa looking down at her. "Hope you had a nice nap," Satella said helping her patient to sit up. "You will be pleased to hear that all went well. I was able to inhibit your natural ability to change your hair color and, if I may say so myself, I am quite pleased with the cosmetic alterations to your appearance. I think even Jayson would have a hard time recognizing you."

The Sec/Tac quickly looked around for any sort of reflective surface and when she found one, Ya'Han was shocked to see someone else looking back at her, someone who was not the woman she knew herself to be, someone who was not Nylaan, both in appearance and spirit.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P031: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34023: 1845 ("Hidden")
=/\=
“Hidden”
<continued from ANUBIS “Grim” and BASTET “Business Breakfast”

=/\=
My lying is a second skin by now, so easy to forget it's there, so I don't always remember that lying is actually an art, and those who aren't meticulous about it are easily exposed.
--Jillian Cantor

=/\=
Location: ELAS, Nationalist Puritian HQ
Stardate: 34023.1845

These were the calls that her father normally took.  He took all the calls from off-worlders.  Although she was the next in line, the heir apparent as it were, that was an empty title.  

Instead the War Master was off planning with his council, so Evaanku was left sitting in her office staring at the ringing screen.  It had already cycled once and she let it go without an answer; she could let it go again.  Evaanku knew who it was in all likelihood; it was the Federation calling about the Peace Talks.  

Exhaling, she answered the call.  Not because she wanted to but because to let it ring was to deal with the War Master and his anger.  She never did call him Father, not even when she was a babe  

Evaanku tapped the screen and expected to see the white haired Bolian woman she heard about from last time.  Instead she was puzzled to see a Human woman who if she judged correctly was about her age.  “Hail ELAS,” Evaanku said.  

The woman on the other side of the screen blinked at that and said, =/\= Greetings from the Federation.  I’m Junior Ambassador Adriana Lopez.  I’m contacting you to negotiate our entry to your planet for the Peace Talks.=/\=

For a moment, Evaanku looked out the window.  At one time there were poets who said this area had streams, and in those streams were small beit that attracted the moonbeams to light your way home or so you dance in the magic.  But that kind of evening magic was long gone from ELAS.

As she listened, Evaanku stared at Junior Ambassador but tapped her fingers on the console...

=/\=
Location: ELAS, Downtown Marketplace, Backroom
Stardate: 34023.1850

“We got the message!” Anshaa called out as entered the room.  Walking back over to Jeruun, the leader of the ‘Expensionists’ she leaned over the table and said, “This is what we’ve been waiting for.”

The console began to ring and both Anshaa and Jeruun turned to stare at it.  “That’s the Federation Ambassador calling,” Anshaa said.  “She’s calling for you.”

Jeruun paced back and forth.  “Is it though?  I’m not really feeling it,” he muttered.  Rubbing his protrund stomach he looked around, “Where is my hypo?”

Anshaa tossed him the hypo as she said, “We got the message from our contact--”

The ‘Expensionists’ leader, having administered the hypo, pivoted again.  “And who is our contact?  We don’t know who he is?”

“Well yes, that is the point of being a secret contact.  If they were well known, then that’s a really bad secret,” Anshaa pointed out dryly.  Throwing up her hands she said, “But everything they said has come to fruition.”

“And why are they helping?” Jeruun groused.  

Anshaa tilted her head to the side.  “You don’t argue with our other true believers.  Why this one?”

Jeruun glared.  “We ask our other believers for their dues and unwavering support.”  Pointing to the now dormant console he said, “Our anonymous supporter wants *us* to do *their* bidding.  The whole point of our enterprise was not to do someone else’s bidding.”

The console kept ringing.  “You need to answer the Federation’s call.  The Ambassador is calling for help,” Anshaa said.  

Jeruun glared at the console.  “Maybe.  Maybe not.  But I won’t do this secret contact’s work anymore.”

Rilliz, who had been sitting in the corner, watching all this slipped out and went to another console out in the main square to make his own call….

=/\=
Location: ELAS, The Dark Order HQ
Stardate: 34023.1855

“Ambassador, I’m surprised it took so long for you to call me,” Puunce, the head of ‘The Dark Order’, said to the Bolian/Human woman on the other side.  

The azure woman on the other side of the screen looked at him straight on.  =/\=It was not my intention to slight you.  I simply had other matters I had to attend to.=/\=  

“Come now,” Puunce said.  “You and I are citizens of the universe.  Beating around what you want won’t do.”

The Federation Ambassador appeared to consider that.  =/\=No, I suppose not.  Very well.  The Peace Talks will not happen--=/\=

“Unless you and your coterie can come to ELAS, I agree,” Puunce finished off. “You’ll come to ELAS.  Simple.”  With that he typed some commands into his console giving out what orders he deemed necessary.  Of course he knew he was only part of the equation...

=/\=Simple,=/\= Xana drolled.  

Puunce was about to say something else when he realized that there was someone else with the Ambassador, a Human woman.  The Federation Ambassador held up a hand as she spoke to her counterpart.  =/\=My Junior Ambassador just finished her call with your counterpart and was able to negotiate what she needed to.  We’ll see you soon.=/\=

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P032: USS ANUBIS: Paquette: 34023.1900 ("Inconceivable")
"Inconceivable"
previous posts were (ANU) "Hidden" / (BAS) "Business breakfast"

=====
Setting: USS SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.1900

The redhead Engineer verified the magnetic connector that held camouflaged craft against the hull of the Elasian destroyer. So far everything was working perfectly; the magnetic hold was solid, the dampening barrier had kept the noise of their contact to well below what could trigger the internal sensors and the holographic camouflage system of the SPHYNX kept the smaller ship concealed from wondering eyes. Sonja could not have hoped for anything better.

"Is everything alright Sonja?" the Elasian woman formerly known as Shar'El asked, easily noticing an expression of concern disbelief on the engineer's face.

"Inconceivable," the redhead said in a whispered voice.

"Inconceivable?" The surgically altered Commander repeated. "That doesn't sound good."

"Everything is working perfectly," Sonja explained shrugging her shoulders. "In situations like this, we always end up with something not working the way it was meant to. Usually, the holographic matrix goes wonky because of some spatial radiation or the magnetic hold is not as solid as it should be because of interference from the ship's hull or some malfunctioning piece of equipment on either side of the equation. In fact, with the way our luck usually goes, those malfunctions end up being on our side of the fence, but so far there is nothing wrong happening. Hence the resounding 'inconceivable', because this simply cannot be."

"You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means," Ani said, quoting the passage from the movie Sonja had been quoting that particular word from.

The Engineer turned to face the Android ready to fire some obscure quote from another movie to see if the latest addition to her programming was working as well as everything, but when she saw the expression on the new face of her friend Ya'Han, Sonja quickly altered her plan and focus. "Is everything alright? You look like someone died."

"I'm fine," the black-haired Elasian-looking woman said, but her words failed to convince the red-haired engineer.

"You? Fine! Really? The way you look? Inconceivable!" Sonja said after having stood from her station in order to meet her friend who was making her way back to the tactical station.

Shar'El gave a quick glance at the Chief of Security before looking at Sonja and then Ani who simply shook her head before speaking, "This may be one of those running gags."  The Commander could have made a comment but opted instead to allow the Chief Engineer and Chief of Security to speak freely.

"Sonja," Ya'Han said trying to come across as convincing as possible. "I am fine. I am just not used to looking in a mirror and seeing someone else looking back at me."

"I do that every morning following a night of drinking," the Chief Engineer said in jest. "You get used to it after a while, but I have the feeling that there is something more here that you are not telling me. We have been friends for too long, gone through hell and back too many times for me not to notice when something big is bothering you, and that is exactly what I see in your eyes right now."

"Right now is not the time for this," Ya'Han said glancing over to Satella, the look making it clear that the Chief of Security wanted the Doctor to step in and put an end to this conversation.

"Lieutenant Commander Paquette, if you would be so kind as to follow me," Doctor Bruxa said making it clear that it was Sonja's turn to undergo the cosmetic transformation that would make her appear Elasian.

"Me? Why now? Why not take care of Maya or Ani first?"

"I cannot take care of Maya at this time as you suggested because of her shapeshifting ability. It will require a lot more time from me to properly figure out, if altering her appearance is at all possible without hindering her natural ability to take on other forms," Satella said. "As for Ani, I thought it might be wiser if you took care of altering her appearance," the Doctor said before turning to the android. "No offense meant, but thanks to your mechanical systems you fall under the jurisdiction of the Chief Engineer much more than that of the Chief Medical Officer."

"No offense taken, Doctor," the Avatar stated. "Your statement is perfectly logical and makes complete sense."

"You too! You are turning against me?" Sonja exclaimed. "Inconceivable!"
 
"I see what you meant by this being becoming a running gag," Shar'El quietly chuckled to Ani.

"Fine!" The redhead Engineer said casting her arms in the air. "I know when I am beaten, but this is not over Ya'Han. You and I will finish this little conversation, Elasian to Elasian if it must, but we will finish it. Now Doctor," Sonja continued this time taking Satella by the arm to drag her back to the Infirmary. "I have a few ideas as to how I want to look. I did some research on the women of ELAS and found some interesting physiological traits that I believe would look especially good on me, and who know, once I see them on myself I might be inclined to replicate them on my traitorous robotic creation over there. So let's see what you can do Doctor."

With Satella and Sonja out of the Flight Deck, Shar'El turned her attention onto Ya'Han and as much as she might not have wanted to admit it, the Commander had to agree that there seemed to be something not quite right with their Chief of Security.

=====
Lorraine Paquette 

Lt Commander Sonja Paquette [Access Character BIO for Sonja Paquette]
Chief Engineering Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501
M15-P033: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.1930 ("Jolan-Tru")
=-=
"Jolan-Tru"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Inconceivable" by Lorraine / (BAS) "Business Breakfast" by moi]
=-=

Setting: SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.1930

The ExO / ILO sat in the chair located in the center of the flight deck. The room was much smaller than the bridge of the ANUBIS, but the perspective of the surroundings was relatively the same. From where she was, Shar'El could see all of the workstations and those working there. Starting to her far left was the Communications and Life Support station currently manned by Maya. Her task was simple; to monitor the Elasian channels and see if anything suspicious was happening.

Next was the Flight Controls and Operations station under the supervision of the ship's avatar Ani. Located on the left side of the forward controls, that station was responsible for all of the systems found on the SPHINX. Needless to say that Shar'El was not in the least concerned about anything relating to that station as long as the android was there keeping an eye on things. On the other side of the computer mainframe was the Flight Controls and Engineering station which was under the control of their Chief Engineering Officer, at least it would be as soon as Sonja returned from her cosmetic surgery.

To the far right was the Tactical and Sensors station that was under the current jurisdiction of their Chief of Security. Following the exchange between Ya'Han and Sonja, Shar'El paid more attention to the now black-haired woman, scanning whatever memories the Nylaan allowed to escape. The woman did appear troubled by something but there were a lot of possible reasons to account for this. Being on the SPHINX while it was magnetically locked to the underbelly of an Elasian destroyer was more than enough to make some nervous. That their mission was taking them to a planet on the verge of a civil war to search and apprehend a Lokustaar operative was not making matters any easier.

Shar'El desperately wanted to dig into the memories of the Nylaan woman. The psychological file on their Chief of Security was extensive but the ExO / ILO knew that there was a lot more about Ya'Han than what was contained in that dossier. To start her life as the youngest daughter of the ruler of NYLA IV and be forced to escape to Federation space left no doubts in the Ullian's mind that there was a lot of suppressed memories that could surface and possibly even hinder her ability to perform. So far, this had not been the case, but Shar'El did notice that Ya'Han had not been quite herself since their return from OLTHAR PRIME and the death of Jayson Stark's clone.

"Commander," Maya said drawing Shar'El's attention across the flight deck. "I am picking up a very faint and strange communication signal. It is encoded and does not appear to be targeted to anyone of any place, in particular, to make things even more interesting, the signal's amplitude is not Elasian. If I were to guess as to who is sending this signal, I would have to say that it is the Romulans as it most closely matches the type of frequencies they use. Of course, this can mean only one of two things, either someone on ELAS is in possession of Romulan technology or..."

"Or the Romulans are on ELAS," Shar'El sighed making everyone aware that of the two offered possibilities the latter one was by far the least desirable.  "Can we decode the signal?" the ExO / ILO asked.

"We might have been able to do so had we been on the ANUBIS, or at the very least have access to the main computer, but the SPHINX was not given the necessary files to even attempt to decode this type of signal," Maya explained. "We never expected to run into the Romulans here of all places."

"My link to the ANUBIS was temporarily suspended to make sure that it would not give our location away should it somehow be discovered," the Avatar said. "Lt. Commander Maya is right, we could not have anticipated running into the Romulans here, especially not on a Federation controlled world."

"The Romulans are like a bad fungal infection," the ExO / ILO sighed. "They always show up when they are the least expected and when they are going to be the most trouble for everyone else.  Can you show me the signal," Shar'El added, hoping that she would be able to get a little more information from the wave pattern.  Maya quickly complied displaying the signal on one of her monitors.

While sitting at her station, Ani could get a good view of the signal and provide a quick analysis of what she was seeing. "The signal appears to be one of the older encoded system used by the Romulans. I strongly doubt that they would be using it now, which could indicate that we are dealing with older equipment in the hands of the Elasians."

"There is another possibility," Shar'El offered, sighing for the third time. "Try using the decoding protocol used during the GROSHTA Incident."

"That was over a decade ago," Ani pointed out.

"There is something familiar about that wave pattern, something that I believe I saw in the memories of someone we dealt with in a previous mission," Shar'El vaguely explained, not wanting to give out more information than was necessary, especially if she ended up being wrong about this.

"It's working," Maya said with glee and surprise. "We are able to decode the signal," the Chief Science Officer said while doing exactly that.

=/\= Jolan-Tru, dear friends.=/\= the voice of what sounded like an elderly man said. =/\= My name is Lujem and I hope that someone will be able to receive this before it is too late. I am on ELAS, as I have been for the last 14 years, exiled by my own people. I have been living here, out of the public's eye as best as could but things have changed. I am unable to contact the Elasian authorities to warn them of what I know so I am left with only one option, this. If you are able to receive and decode this transmission, and if you are able to make it to ELAS, please meet me at the Toluss Tavern located on the outskirts of the city of Poljah. I will be there every day, just ask for a glass of Romulan Ale, no one else there asks for that but me, that way I will know that you have received my message and are willing to listen to what I have to say. Please hurry; I am not sure how much longer we have. =/\=

"The message repeats from there on," Maya said looking over her shoulder to Shar'El. "What are we going to do about this? It could be a trap."

"I always think everything could be a trap, which is why I'm still alive," the ExO / ILO said, rolling her eyes and sighing once again causing Maya to appear puzzled while Ani simply smiled knowing exactly where that line originated.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P034: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.2000 ("Killing Time")
-=-=-
"Killing Time"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Jolan-Tru" & (BAS) "Plan of Action"]
-=-=-

Setting: Runabout USS ISIS, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.2000

There was very little for the Junior Ambassador to do, the ISIS was on autopilot keeping pace with the fleet of Elasian Destroyers that stood all around them. The Ambassadorial team had been granted safe passage to ELAS, but the condition for this was for their ship to be accompanied for the entire duration of the journey. Adriana should have felt reassured in having so many armed vessels surrounding them, but the presence of the destroyers achieved the opposite effect, at least as far as she was concerned. Ambassador Bonviva appeared not in the least bit concerned or troubled by their predicament, the azure-skin woman radiating an air of peace that was impossible to ignore.

"You do realize that you are just making this worse for yourself," Xana said before taking a sip on the drink she had in her hands. "Everything is going according to plan. We are en route to ELAS and have been granted safe passage which the escort we currently have will ensure."

"What about the fact that half of the destroyers around us were, not that long ago, ready to fire and destroy the other half?" Adriana asked.

"Political posturing," the Human/Bolian dismissed without a second thought. "I will not claim that the situation is not dire, or even not dangerous, but it is far from being as bad as it could be. The Lokustaar operative did his job, I will grant him that, but if the plan was to get the civil war started, it would have already happened."

"All of the information we have been able to gather on the Lokustaar points to them working on a more long-term basis, not to mention having plans within plans, each with countless redundancies to secure their final objective," Lopez said, her voice ever so quietly trembling as she spoke.

"That is another reason why there is nothing for us to be concerned about," Bonviva said smiling before taking another sip of her drink. "Think about everything that went into the Shadows setting all of this up. They have the War Master Daanold and his daughter in one corner of the arena, the leader of The Dark Order, Puunce in the other with the leader of the Expansionists, Jerrun, and the trader Anshaa in one of the opposite corners while Tarken and his underground forces are in the last corner. As much as we are meant to look at this as a battle between two sides, there are clear indications if you know where to look that point to things not being that simple. Setting one side to fight against another is easy, but it is equally easy to stop, but getting everyone to not fully trust friends and foes alike will ensure that the conflict will be nearly impossible to stop. To accomplish this though, they needed an outside force to break the status-quo, and that is where the Federation comes into play."

"Would it not mean that our going to ELAS is going to trigger the thing that we are trying to avoid?" Adriana asked appearing confused.

"The Lokustaar hoped that the ANUBIS would be the trigger, the spark that ignited the flames of war, but Captain Morningstar understood this and his decision to have the ANUBIS withdraw without engaging the first set of destroyers forced the Shadows to go to their contingency plan. That is where we come in," Xana continued. "They need us to be on ELAS and even to start these peace talks in order to trigger something that will have the general same effect. Our real challenge will be once we arrive and start the talks, we will have a short window of opportunity to make everyone realize that they have been played by the Lokustaar for no other reason than to devastate their world and be able to have others point an accusatory finger at the mighty Federation. Until then, there is nothing we can do, and worrying about what might or might not happen is pointless. So, enjoy this moment and relax," the Human/Bolian said taking one last gulp from her drink.

The Junior Ambassador let out a slow elongated breath as she thought that this would be a lot easier said than done. Xana possessed the experience and knowledge granting her this clarity of purpose, two things that Adriana lacked. Her experience as a Ship's Counselor might have given her an edge on some aspects, but when it came down to a situation like the one they were heading into, Lopez had no other choice but to acknowledge that she was not at all ready to approach what was to come with the calmness of her mentor.

As much as she had been prompted to relax by Xana, Adriana found herself calling up the names of the major players they would be dealing with once they arrived on ELAS on the small screen atop of the flight controls.

War Master Daanold - a ruthless military man who dedicated his entire life to the protection of his homeworld and its native inhabitants. The man earned the respect of his peers through countless displays of bravery and tactical brilliance. The only thing he ever did for himself was to marry and obtain an offspring. No official records could be found about the details of thins, but judging by what was available, Adriana could guess that the War master had been disappointed in having a daughter instead of a son.

Leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans Evaanku - a determined and driven woman who fought her entire life to be more than simply her father's daughter. Proving herself was never an easy task and even when she succeeded, there were indications that she believed more could have been done do to the lackluster reaction of her father. Adriana almost felt sorry for the Elasian woman knowing that the task to meet a parent's expectations was never an easy one, and in her case, things were made even more difficult thanks to her father's position and the absence of her mother to help temper the War Master's expectations.

Leader of The Dark Order Puunce - foes and friends alike feared this brutal and pitiless man. To become the one in charge of a group of warriors whose missions were those that no one else dared to even try was not easy, and yet there he was. Fear was not something he knew, nor was he accustomed to come up against a situation that he could not shape to his will and needs.

Leader of the Expansionists Jeruun - a crafty and talented businessman who quickly elevated himself to a position of power and importance thanks to forging alliances that stretched far beyond the Elasian star system. The man had a gift to turn everything he touched into a successful enterprise, spreading wealth and prosperity everywhere he went. Many Elasians loved him for what he did to help his people, others hated him for opening their world to outside influence. Whichever side they stood on though, one thing was certain, no one could ignore the man and his influence.

The successful and equally attractive trader Anshaa - the woman's name was known by most, either as a person to be contacted when trying to obtain something impossible to get or when in need to put a face on what Elasian business success could be. Although such a thing was not part of the Elasian culture, Anshaa was as close to a superstar as could be, commanding respect as well as controversy wherever she appeared.

The undercover NEW ALEXANDRIA agent Tarken - a shadow amongst shadows, the deep cover operative likely possessed the best understanding of what they would be facing on ELAS, but his role made it equally difficult for them to access his knowledge. There was no way for Xana or Adriana just simply call upon him and have the operative explain what he knew. This meant that it was up to him to find a way to contact them as he had Shar'El back on the Elasian destroyer, and that meant the Ambassadorial team would sooner or later be faced with an unknown variable above those they already needed to deal with.

The problem with all of these people was not their accomplishments or status within the culture of their people, it was the fact that they were only a handful of those involved in this affair. It was more than likely that other, less known and reputable individuals were working for and against these five making the political landscape even more complicated. Xana was right in stating that getting to ELAS was the easy part, their challenge would start when they would begin to interact with these people in more than through simple communications.

The Junior Ambassador closed her eyes and leaned back in her chair, trying her best to relax and not be overwhelmed by everything she had read and everything else that for one reason or another had not been part of the information they possessed.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P035: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34023.2000 ("Last But Not Least")
=-=
"Last But Not Least"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Killing Time" / (BAS) "Back and Forth"]
=-=

Setting: USS SPHINX, Infirmary
Stardate: 34023.2000

Sonja exited the Infirmary looking positively Elasian. Satella was pleased with her work, the cosmetic alterations being exactly as she wanted them to. As great as her achievements were though, the physician still needed to deal with the last of the infiltration team. Satella knew that the Shillian would be her greatest challenge. Stopping Ya'Han's hair from changing color was one thing, but Maya was a completely different story. The one advantage the CMO could see was that the CSciO had complete control over her ability to shapeshift.

"Sonja said that you wanted to see me, Doctor?"

"Yes," Satella said gently patting the examination bed. "It's your turn."

"My turn?" Maya appeared genuinely surprised.

"Yes," the CMO confirmed. "Last time I checked, Cmdr. Shar'El had you as being part of the infiltration team. Although your appearance is not entirely humanoid, I am quite certain that you will stick out in a crowd. I suspect that the Elasians have no idea what a Shillian looks like. Your problem is that you share a lot of physical characteristics with the Trills, and that would be problematic."

"Maybe not as much as you might believe," Maya said. The Shillian had not moved from the doorway to the Infirmary, and by the looks of things, she was not about to anytime soon. "There is a Trill research station on ELAS. This means that the Elasians have been exposed to the presence of Trills on their home planet. I understand that given the current political uneasiness, things could be difficult. Members of certain factions would see them and me as unwelcomed outsiders. Drawing such attention though might not be such a bad thing as it could help us draw out the Lokustaar operative."

"That is a valid point. My problem is that Cmdr. Shar'El gave me specific orders. Everyone is to undergo cosmetic alteration to appear more Elasian." Satella did not want to fight with Maya. The physician respected the scientist too much for that. The problem was that Bruxa had no choice in the matter. Orders were orders, and without more time available to them, there was no room to argue or delay. Every minute wasted talking about this was a minute less the CMO had to make this work.

"I do not believe that Cmdr. Shar'El considered all of the variables when she gave you those orders." Satella could see that Maya was ready for a fight, even if only a verbal one. "I am more than capable of avoiding drawing unwanted attention. Actually, I am better able to do this as I am rather than being made to appear Elasian."

"If you are referring to your shapeshifting ability, I agree. The one problem I see though is you being able to maintain whatever form you chose for as long as it might be required. According to your medical file, this process is quite physically demanding. I did see that you have made quite a lot of progress in maintaining those animal forms for longer than you used to. The problem is again the question of how long you might be called upon to hold that form. As of right now, we have no idea who or even where the Lokustaar agent is. It might take us days if not weeks to just identify him. Can you maintain your animal form for that long?"

Satella knew the answer. The longest amount of time Maya was able to keep one of her shapeshifting forms was 12 hours. This was amazing when considering that she could barely manage to hold it for an hour in the beginning. That said, 12 hours was almost certainly going to be well short of what they would need while on ELAS.

"Maybe I could ask Cmdr. Shar'El to grant me permission to remain on the SPHINX. I could help coordinate the research efforts from here." The CMO could see that the CSciO was grasping at straws. Maya's role had already been defined and was exactly what she had just suggested it to be. The mission's team leader wanted everyone to be surgically altered in case something went wrong. If there was a need, both Maya and Satella could venture out without drawing too much attention. That was as long as they looked like they belonged on ELAS.

"I understand your reluctance," Bruxa said. "You see this as everyone else being able to go on this mission while able to call upon their respective and defining skills. Rebecca, Grace, and Ya'Han can still call upon their combat training. Sonja can still find a way to turn a piece of scrap metal into an unstoppable weapon. Even Shar'El can still look into the memories of those they would encounter. Although your shapeshifting ability is part of who you are, it is not what defines you. You are a remarkably intelligent and resourceful person. I could not even begin to think and analyze things the way you do. You can see all of the science behind everything you encounter. Better yet, if you do not understand what you see, you immediately start looking for a way to explain it."

"As a Doctor, you do the same. Every patient that comes to you is a mystery that you immediately try to solve. The only difference is that you deal in the smaller, biological realm while I deal with the larger universe as a whole." Satella smiled at the compliment and the fact that this was going exactly where she needed it to go.

"You are right, but you do it better," the CMO said. "In both cases, our respective abilities are what we are good at. The color of my hair or your ability to shapeshift have no impact on what we do."

Maya sighed having realized that she would not be able to win this argument. "You win, Doctor." After having said this, the CSciO walked into the Infirmary and took her place on the examination bed.

"This was not a battle. You did not lose and I certainly did not win. I simply pointed out something that you chose not to consider at this time. If you have to blame someone, blame Adriana. Like it or not, I think I have been picking up some of her counseling ways." Satella smiled as he looked down at the visibly nervous woman on the medical bed. "Just relax. I will do my best to make the necessary alterations as easy to remove as possible. That way, if there is an emergency need for your shapeshifting ability, you will still be able to do it. Just keep in mind that I need to make the alterations be as realistic as possible though. If you appeared as some sort of sick Elasian, we might end up in even more trouble than if they saw a Trill."

"Do what you have to do. You are right; I cannot allow myself to be solely defined by my shapeshifting ability. As much as it identifies me as a Shillian, I am also a Starfleet officer and a scientist. That is what I need to hold on to at this time." Maya sounded as if she was trying to convince herself, but it appeared to be working.

"I have seen you at work. You are one heck of a Science Officer, never doubt that."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P036: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.2130 ("Madness")
=-=
"Madness"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Last But Not Least" by Rachel / (BAS) "From Peace to Chaos" by moi]
=-=

Setting: SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.2130

Shar'El gave the members of her team currently on the Flight Deck a quick once over, finding it strange to see a group of Elasians where a Nylaan, Shillian, Terran and Android had been not that long ago. It was a heartwarming display of their individual dedication to this mission and their roles in its successful completion. Despite some of the personal issues some had, they were still here ready to do what was required to help a world avoid falling prey to the darkness of the Lokustaar.

"The destroyers are starting their final approach of ELAS, our best time to disengage will be when they go over the Southern Sea," Ya'Han reported. "The planetary sensor web is at its weakest there, likely because there is nothing there for them to protect. Our entering the planet's atmosphere there will minimize the chances of us being detected."

"We will also need to set up a slow descent into the atmosphere," Maya added. "Even if the sensor web is not as dense over that part of the planet, we still risk being detected, electronically or visually, if our atmospheric disturbance is too large. We could risk trying to make the SPHINX pass as a rogue meteor crashing into the ocean, but someone is likely to wonder why it was not detected by anyone until it actually came in contact with the atmosphere. The Elasian authorities might not be looking for us as we will have vanished into the ocean, but there is bound to be a lot of questions asked of everyone on the destroyers and those in charge of planetary security to see why no one saw the meteor."

"It should be easy enough to have the SPHINX perform a slow controlled atmospheric entry," Ani stated. "We can also modify the external field generator to reduce the drag effect of the ship as it makes contact."

"Instead of a meteor, we could make ourselves appear more like a piece of debris that just happened to fall down to the planet," Sonja added. "Looking at all of the destroyers that are here, it should not be that much of a surprise to anyone watching to see something falling loose. Just looking at some of those destroyers, I am amazed to see them in service and not gathering dust in some graveyard. The Elasians may have space travel capabilities, but their ships are far from being in line with the technology used by the Federation or any of the other major powers out there. Their inferior technology is going to make things a lot easier for us."

"Do what is required to avoid our presence being detected," the ExO / ILO said, confident that the team had everything well under control.

"Ani, according to your instruments, which of the three closest destroyers, not counting the one we are attached to, is the weakest structurally?" The question presented by the Chief Engineer took the ExO / ILO and everyone else by surprise.

"The destroyer directly to our right shows clear signs of structural weakness allow its hull," the android replied. "A direct hit might not be enough to knock some of the panels off but it would certainly be sufficient to cause the ship to lose attitude control, maybe enough to fall prey to the planet's gravity. Once they are caught in it, any effort to escape could see the ship begin to tear apart."

"Are you actually discussing destroying one of those destroyers?" Maya was beside herself. "We were sent here to stop a war, not to start one."

"Shar'El did say for us to do what is *required* to make sure our presence is not detected," Sonja said shrugging. "Can you think of any better way to camouflage our entry other than to ride the trail of debris that a disintegrating destroyer would create? The authorities would be so busy trying to figure out what happened that they would not have time to even think about looking for us. Come on, it's the perfect plan."

"The perfect plan to start a war," Ya'Han sighed. "Whatever side the destroyer will belong to will want answers as to what happened and the other side will deny having anything to do with what happened which the first side will claim is a lie."

"Uh, EARTH to Ya'Han, I was making a joke," the woman who was a red-haired Terran when this mission started said.  The Nylaan turned Elasian slowly closed her eyes and began to shake her head in visible disappointment.  "Geez, you people are WAY too uptight," the Chief Engineer said rolling her eyes. "Here I am trying to make everyone feel a little less stressed about this whole thing and instead you are all jumping down my throat. Do not worry, I got the hint, how could I not? I will stay quiet from now on, but before I do, I wonder if all great geniuses felt this way when they had to deal with this kind of crowd."

"There's a fine line between genius and insanity," Ani said.

"No great mind has ever existed without a touch of madness," Sonja fired back.

"True genius is rarely recognized during one's life," Shar'El jumped int with. "Will you spare our lives if we acknowledge your genius now?"

"You people take all of the fun out of it," the Chief Engineer signed.

"I hate to interrupt this pointless exchange, but if we are to take full advantage of the weaker sensor web, we need to act now," Maya said ending the madness that had taken over the flight deck.

"Standing by to disengage the magnetic holds," Sonja said, her voice having turned completely serious within a single breath.

"Alright people, its show time!"

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P037: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34023.2240 ("Need To Known")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Need To Known"
[previous post were (ANU) "Madness" / (BAS) "Figuring Things Out"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.2240 (0645 local time)

Despite all of the talks about destroying one of the Elasian destroyers to help camouflage the SPHINX as it entered the planet's atmosphere, the ship and crew indeed without any incident. According to Maya, the planetary sensor net failed to detect their presence and by the looks and sounds of things, their landing in a small clearing remained unnoticed by the locals.

"Let us not take too much of a gamble with this part of the mission," Shar'El said. "I would prefer if our friend Lujem did not know the extent of our presence on ELAS. That is why Ya'Han and I will go to the Toluss Tavern alone."

"Commander, with all due respect," Sergeant Carter said. "The Corporal and I did not come here to enjoy a leisurely ride in the SPHINX. We are here to offer support and protection to your team wherever they may be. Meeting this Romulan could be a trap and you could need an extra set of muscles to help you get out of there."  Both Rebecca and Grace, who appeared as two formidable Elasian women, were visibly more than ready to jump into action.

"I appreciate the offer Sergeant, but my decision stands," the Commander said. "Our objective is to find this Lujem. I will scan his memories and walkout even before anyone knows that we were there. If trouble should find us, I am sure that Ya'Han will be more than capable of taking care of things in a quiet manner, allowing us to make a discrete exit. The more people walk into that tavern, the more attention we will be drawing onto ourselves, and that would not help anyone. You two are to stay here and wait for our return. Maya and Ani will be monitoring the information and communication net while Sonja will keep an eye on any suspicious activities in this part of the city. You two and Doctor Bruxa are on standby. Understood?"

"Sir, yes Sir," the Marine Sergeant said in a less than happy manner. That she agreed with her orders or not changed nothing in the fact that she would follow whatever instructions they were given.


[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: ELAS, outskirts of the City of Poljah
Stardate: 34023.2245 (0650 local time)

The two women made their way through the field and towards the city's limits, the silence that followed them interrupted by a softly whispered conversation shared only between them.

"You were a little hard on our Marine friends back there," the black-haired Elasian said. "All they wanted to do was to do their job, the job that they came here to do. You cannot fault them for that."

"I am not faulting them or anyone else for wanting to do their job. My sternness was a response to the sparkle I recognized in her eyes," the other Elasian woman said. "I saw that she was a little too anxious to prove herself and likely saw the setting of a tavern as a perfect opportunity to do just that. No matter what world such an establishment may be found on, the general rules remain the same. People who go there are either running away from or looking for something. I saw no reason to make it easier for those already there to find a reason to start something."

As dark and cynical as Shar'El's views were, the Nylaan hiding beneath the disguise of an Elasian woman had to agree with the statement. Even as a young daughter of the High Sovereign, Ya'Han knew that such establishments were to be avoided by everyone. At first, she believed that the reason for this was because those places were beneath the position of importance that those working for her father held, but over time she came to understand that the real reason was something much darker. Any official agent of her father would most certainly be putting their lives on the line by encountering a crowd of displeased and angry subjects more than anxious to display their discontent.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, outside the Toluss Tavern
Stardate: 34023.2255 (0700 local time)

"We might be here a little too early," Ya'Han said as she looked around at the deserted streets. "There might not be anyone in there and that is going to make it difficult for us to keep our entrance a low-key one."

"Maybe so, but it will also make it easier for me to scan the memories of those people who are there," Shar'El said. "If anyone knows anything about an ale-drinking Romulan, it should not take me too long to get the information we need. Stay out here and keep an eye open, I will call out if I need you."

=/\= Sonja here, =/\= the Chief Engineer jumped in with. =/\= Communications and information channels are quiet, so you should not encounter any problems. That said, we will be monitoring your progress from here. If anything happens, Rebecca and Grace will head your way, even if only to make sure no one was following you back."

"Fine," the Commander reluctantly agreed, "but wait for my signal. I am still hoping to get this down without anyone even saying a single word." With that said, Shar'El walked into he tavern leaving Ya'Han behind to keep watch, which was exceptional easy since no one was around. It did not take long for the Sec/Tac to feel a little uneasy by being the only out there. What would someone think if they saw here like this, a simple, single woman standing outside of a tavern that, for all intents and purposes appeared to be a less than reputable establishment? Every culture was different, but certain ideas were common throughout the universe and her being alone like this could actually prove to be more of a problem than anything else.

Minutes passed without any word from Shar'El. Were there more people than she had expected for her to scan or had one particular individual monopolized her time and efforts? The other option, the one that the Sec/Tac liked the least, was that something had happened making it impossible for the Commander to call out for help. Using the subdermal communicator would answer this quickly enough, but it might also interrupt the Ullian's scan, something that would delay them requiring them to be exposed the way they were for even longer.

Just when she was about to contact Shar'El, the Commander emerged from the tavern and made her way down one of the side streets, the Elasian woman looking rather flushed. The Sec/Tac quickly followed but remained quiet realizing that they were no longer alone and that their conversation might be overheard.

Wanting to know what was happening, Ya'Han took a chance. "Is there something wrong?"

"No," Shar'El bluntly replied. "We just need to go."

"Go where?"

"This way," the Commander said, pointing down a small alleyway thus managing to offer an answer that provided no clues as to what was happening.

=/\= What's going on? =/\= Sonja asked.

"Not sure," the Sec/Tac replied. "I'm just following. My guess is that she saw or heard something in the tavern that made her decide that we needed to go."

=/\= Go where? =/\=

"I do not know," Ya'Han said barely managing to keep pace with the rushing woman.

=/\= Well, I need to know. =/\= Sonja said, her frustration impossible to be ignored.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P038: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34023.2300 ("Obmutescent")
=-=
"Obmutescent"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Need To Know" / (BAS) "Figuring Things Out"]
=-=

Setting: USS SPHINX, Infirmary
Stardate: 34023.2300 (0705 local time)

Maya, Sonja, and Ani were keeping an eye out for trouble. That was their duty leaving Satella to monitor the vitals of the two women who went out to meet the exiled Romulan. The idea was a simple one. Should something happen making it impossible for either one to request assistance, the CMO would be able to notify the others.

The moment Shar'El and Ya'Han left the SPHINX, their vitals were elevated. That was to be expected given the situation they were all in. The covert operations team was, for all intents and purposes, on a hostile planet. Using cosmetic alterations to appear similar to the locals did not guarantee that they would not run into trouble. Even taking into account the women's expertise and experiences, the elevated levels were quite normal. Something had to reflect the level of stress they were dealing with.

Satella noticed that the stress level of Ya'Han had risen sharply when she was waiting for Shar'El. That was not at all surprising, but what to see a sudden spike in the Commander's vitals did surprise the Doctor. There was no way for Bruxa to know if it was because of something that was said or done. It was also impossible to ignore that something major had happened. The conversation that followed between the two women only served to add to the mystery. For a reason only known to Shar'El, the woman seemed less than willing to share what had triggered her rushed exit.

The Doctor shared in the Chief Engineer's curiosity. It would have been nice to know what was happening but like Sonja, Satella would have to wait. If an answer was to come, it would do so at the discretion of the Commander.  The only thing the physician could be sure of was that Shar'El's vitals were indicative of someone going through a very stressful episode. As for Ya'Han's vitals, they were reflective of someone trying to keep up with someone else.

=/\= Would someone mind telling us what is going on out there? =/\= Sonja bellowed. The woman was usually the patient sort, most of the time. Right now though was not going to be one of those particular moments.

=/\= We are heading into an underground passage. =/\= Ya'Han's report was short and to the point. The woman sounded out of breath indicating that they were moving quickly to wherever they were going. =/\= Still not getting any clues as to we are going. All I can say is that she knows where she is going. There is no hesitation in any of the turns we are taking. =/\=

=/\= Do you need the Marines to join up with you? =/\= If Sonja could not be there at least she would make sure that someone else was there to help. Satell could easily imagine that Rebecca and Grace were itching to get into the action.

=/\= NO! =/\= The reply from Shar'El was abrupt and made it perfectly clear that it also was non-negotiable. Whatever side mission she was on would be for her and Ya'Han alone to complete, whatever it may be.

Satella continued monitoring the women's vital signs. As much as she hated it, it was the only thing she could do. Unfortunately, the undercover officers had not chosen to bring along a remote camera. This meant that there was nothing to provide the team on the SPHINX with more information than what little they were receiving. After a few more minutes, Doctor Bruxa was shocked to see the two displays of the women's vitals suddenly go flat.  The CMO quickly panic but pushed away those disturbing thoughts. There had to be another explanation other than them being dead to account for this. In order to prove this theory right, the physician checked the status of her instruments.

"Bruxa to Paquette," Satella said trying her best to remain calm. "Is there something wrong with our communication system. I have lost both of their vital signals.

=/\= The comm channel has also gone silent. We are not receiving any transmissions from them. =/\=

Satella could feel her breathing quicken. "Are they..."

=/\= It is highly unlikely that they are dead Doctor, =/\= said Maya. =/\= It is far more likely that they have entered a section that inhibits any sort of signal to be transmitted or received. I am basing this on the fact that both the vitals and communications went silent at the exact same time. Even if they ran into some sort of disintegration field, there would have been a brief spike of energy. Our instruments did not register any such energy outburst. Likewise, all other unsavory possibilities that would result in their rapid demise would have provided us with some kind of clue. They appear to simply have gone obmutescent. =/\=

"Obmuteswhat?!?"

=/\= Obmutescent, =/\= the avatar offered. =/\= It is the act of becoming mute or silent. Such a term is usually attributed to someone being stubborn about such silence.  It is refers to a more willful act. I suspect that this was not the case based on the data we have. =/\=

=/\= Will you two knock it off! =/\= Sonja snapped. =/\= Both the Commander and our Chief of Security are missing. This is NOT the time to argue about the definition of a word. =/\=

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P039: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.2310 ("Pledge")
-=-=-
"Pledge"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Obmutescent" & (BAS) "Figuring Things Out"]
-=-=-

Setting: Runabout USS ISIS, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34023.2310 (0715 local time)

The runabout sat in the middle of a large landing platform designed for ship much larger than the ISIS which only helped to make the Ambassadorial duo feel a little out of place.

"Sensors are not picking up anyone in the vicinity," Adriana said. "Are we sure that these are the coordinate we were given?"

Speaking from experience, the Bolian/Human woman said, "Getting a diplomatic welcome with a fanfare, honor guards and cheering crowd is not all that it is cracked up to be." Xana added a soft growl as she rolled her eyes. "Let us not forget that we are here on ELAS to lead several opposing sides towards a peace agreement. Making a big show of our arrival, by any side, could be misinterpreted as us having sided with one faction over the others. Then again, the quiet, almost secret air surrounding our arrival could also be interpreted as us being here to serve the agenda of one side over the other."

"Great," Adriana sighed. "It is the Kobayashi Maru all over again, although this time it is not a holographic recreation that we can just walk out of."

"You can always walk out, or away," Xana pointed out in a tone that hinted to some profound wisdom. "The only difference is that here, in the real world, the consequences of such an action would involve not only you, me, or the members of your team but everyone with the slightest bit of invested interest in what is happening. In this particular case, it is the fate of an entire planet that rests on our actions. We could have chosen to never get involved, or not to offer assistance, or to not board the ISIS, and we can still choose not to step out. Life is all about making choices and for everyone involved to live with the consequences of those choices, but you already know that."

Adriana understood what Xana was referring to, the Ambassador's choice of words not having been random in the least. Back on OLTHAR PRIME, the Junior Ambassador had made several choices that lead to them being here, together, alive. After given the security console another quick look, Lopez looked at Bonviva. "Sensors are still showing no one out there, maybe we should step out and make our presence known."

"Let us do so," the Bolian/Human woman said with a smile. "I would hate to have come all the way here for nothing, plus it will be nice for me to stretch my legs. Since my recovery, I have not been as physically active as I should have been, although I will say that my muscles do not feel as weak as I expected them to, not that I ever expected to be standing like this ever again. A perfect example of how a person's choices and actions can affect the lives of others in ways they might never have expected or imagined."

Smiling, Adriana said, "You have made your point."

"I am not sure I have," Xana countered. "At least not fully. Thanks to you, there are children out there who did not lose their mother. There are good people who have not lost a friend and bad people who have not gotten rid of an enemy. Your decision is affecting a lot more people than you could have ever imagined. Just look at the ANUBIS and Captain Morningstar. My remaining onboard changed his life even if he was not directly involved in anything that happened. That is what we have to keep in mind as we move forward with these peace talks, whatever choices are made, whatever decisions are agreed upon, they will affect more than those initially considered by those choices and decisions. As important as this peace is, we have to keep the bigger picture in view and make sure that everyone else sees this as well. There are countless people counting on us without even them knowing that we are here."

"Well, one of them know we are here," the Junior Ambassador said as her gaze fell back onto the security console. "Someone is approaching the runabout. It looks like Puunce, and he's alone."

"That is a bold gesture, one that demonstrates the importance or urgency of the situation, maybe even both," the Bolian/Human Ambassador said. "Let us make a vow that we will do everything in our power to make this work, not for us, not for him, not for the other faction leaders, but for the entire population of ELAS and those whose lives they touch in one form or another."

As inspiring words, Adriana had to admit that she had never heard anything quite as powerful and direct making her choice to follow and do as Xana had mentioned an all too easy one. “Let’s go,” the Junior Ambassador said as she reached for the controls and release the lock on the outside doors.

-=-=-
Setting: ELAS, Landing Platform
Stardate: 34023.2325 (0730 local time)

The Elasian man gave no indications of being nervous, scared or even concerned in the slightest way as the two Federation Ambassadors approached him. As the leader of the Dark Order, remaining in control of his emotions and how they were perceived by others was essential, and that was something both Xana and Adriana understood.

"I am glad to see you here safe and sound," the Elasian said, welcoming his two guests with a respectful nod of his head, but he never took his eyes from them.

"We are glad to be here," Xana offered in return but the rest of what she was planning to say remained lodged in her throat as she saw several dozen armed soldiers rushing in their direction.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P040: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34023.2310 ("Questions and Qualms")
“Questions and Qualms”
[Previous post: (ANU) "Pledge" & (BAS) "Figuring Things Out"]

=/\=

I would rather have questions that can't be answered than answers that can't be questioned
--Richard Feynman

=/\=
Location: ELIAS, National Puritan HQ
Stardate: 34023.2310 (0715 local time)

“Do I have to be here for this?” Rilliz asked.

Evaanku shrugged as she kept typing away at her terminal, sending a message to one of her contacts.  “Have to...that’s a very strong phrase.  I’d think, though, you’d want to be here.”

Tugging on the collar of his tunic, Rilliz said, “I feel like I want to die.”

Evaanku shrugged.  “You get used to that feeling.”

“It’s not that bad,” she tried.  

Rilliz looked skeptically over at her as he paced.  “Really?  Because he came across as very stern and loud when we negotiating the negotiations.”

The daughter of the War Master gave a long suffering sigh.  “Look, he had to give a full-throated defense of our side.  You will see that he is just--”

“EVAANKU!”  

There was a large slam from an old-fashioned wooden door followed by another slam.  Evaanku didn’t have to look up to know that it was because the War Master had taken a large blunt instrument and was banging along the walls to get everyone’s attention.  “EVAANKU!”

“I’m still here in my office,” she called out mildly.

The War Master came stomping into Evaanku’s office swinging a large bat with metal spikes on the end.  “EVAANKU!  I will *kill* people today,” Daanold bellowed as he came into her office.  Pointing with his free hand to his oy’naQ he said, “I was given this by Jagehl of House Konugh of Q’onoS and I will kill people with it.  And then I will them again with my bare hands.”

“Hello, War Master,” she said when he finally took a breath; although she didn’t look up from her terminal.

“Evaanku.  Has anyone in this blasted building heard of what we are trying to do today,” Daanold said.  

Sighing Evaanku attempted to answer, even though she knew it was futile.  “You mean dragging the Federation here again--”

“It is only the most important day in our people’s history, which is nothing to say of *my* history and has anyone bothered to follow my carefully scripted 74 point plan?”

“No, because it was 72 points too long,” Evaanku muttered under her breath.  

The War Master started swinging his oy’naQ as he moved freely about Evaanku’s office.  “Now, I have to go --”  when Evaanku cleared her throat loudly he amended “we have to go meet the Federation clearly unprepared.”  As he paced and swung his oy’naQ he nearly hit Rilliz, who thankfully ducked out of the way in time.  Looking blankly at Rilliz for a moment he then turned to Evaanku and asked, “Who’s this?”

Evaanku finally stopped typing and looked at the War Master.  “That’s Rilliz, he’s our liaison to Jerrun.”  She paused before continuing on dryly, “He was scared of meeting you for some reason.”

The War Master was beyond dry text, and instead spoke about Rilliz as if he wasn’t there.  “Rilliz...Jerrun...Oh, Jerrun….the Expensionists.”  Looking at Rilliz he said decisively.  “You’re an idiot.”  Shrugging he said, “Jerrun is the bigger idiot, so there’s that I suppose.”

Rilliz looked at Evaanku and said, “Evaanku.”

Evaanku held up a hand to the Orion trader and focused on the War Master.  “We’re not going to get anywhere like this.”  

“I don’t pretend to have respect for idiots,” the War Master snapped.  Turning to Rilliz he said, “Jerrun is nothing more than selling himself and has no respect for anyone or anything unless its for credit.  Since I can’t be bought or sold, I will remain intolerant of him.”  With that he swung off in a perfect march. 

“You need me,” Evaanku reminded him.  “I recall reading that in one of the 74 points.  And the plan was for all of us to sit down.  Jerrun needs to be a part of this.  Rilliz is our way into the Expensionists.”  

The War Master walked back into the room.  “Excuse me?  I need you?”

“The Federation agreed to meet with *all* of us,” Evaanku said.  “They think we’re all coming to the table.”  Looking at her beeping monitor she said dispassionately, “And now Puunce beat us to greeting the Federation.”

=/\=
Setting: ELAS, Landing Platform
Stardate: 34023.2345 (0750 local time)

“Well I will give you points for being thorough,” Xana said to one of the soldiers who was currently rifling through her belongings.  “Although what clues my shoes and accessories hold, please let me know.”  

The soldiers continued to scan, open up catalog everything in the Federation Ambassadors’ belongings, and shove it back in.  “Your articles are a credit to bourgeois taste,” one of the soldiers said.

“Thank you,” Xana sighed.

“You’re welcome,” the soldier replied, as he continued on.

The Federation Ambassador looked around.  They had been scanned, poked, prodded, and now they were being inventoried.  “How much longer?” she asked.  

“I’m not sure,” the soldier said.  “I don’t know even what I’m looking for but all off-worlders need to be inspected.  And the inspection stations are down so we need to do this by hand.  I guess I can tell you this, but there’s an extreme mistrust of the Federation.  Probably because the last time we had an Ambassador here, they gifted us with a statue of a horse, which was really obscene.  After they left, it exploded.” 

The azure woman nodded and waved her hand.  “Take all the time you need.”  Clearing her throat, she said, “But mind the shoes, I’m rather fond of those.”

Walking away, Xana kept to herself the fact that there had been *no* previous Ambassadorial party to ELIAS.  So who had sent the exploding Trojan Horse?  Lokusstar? That didn’t sound like them.  But they could have used that as a decoy for something else.  Maybe though it was someone else though.  Wandering over to Adriana, who was watching the other soldiers rifle through her stuff she asked quietly, “How’s it going?”

“Fine,” the Human woman nodded.  “I’m almost done.  And in speaking with Puunce he said after this inspection we should be able to go for our inspection of his operations soon.”

Xana watched where Puunce was standing off to the side talking to one of his people.  Nodding she said, “And I want to tell you what I just--”

As the Bolian/Human was speaking, two large parties started descending upon the group, one from the West and one from the South.  “I think we have company,” Adriana said.  Squinting, she said, “That looks like Daanold.  And I’ll bet that’s Jeruun in the other group.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P041: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34023.2320 ("Rescued")
=-=
"Rescued"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Questions and Qualms" by Sarah / (BAS) "Figuring Things Out" by Karen]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, alleyway
Stardate: 34023.2320 (0725 local time)

The ExO / ILO had no time to waste. If what she saw in the mind of the bartender was any indication, the life of the Romulan exile was in danger and required their immediate action. Shar'El agreed that the decision to act might have been taken quickly, but she would defend this course of action to the very end. In his communication, the Romulan claimed to have been on ELAS for the last 14 years. By itself, that number might not have meant all that much, but it established the man as having become an accepted fixture in these parts, so why the sudden shift to label him as a threat to be immediately disposed of unless he knew something of great importance?

"We are here," Shar'El whispered too Ya'Han who, to her credit, had not only kept up but done so without asking too many questions.  "The Romulan is in there, and if we are lucky, he will still be alive."

"In other words, this is still not a good time for me to ask what this is all about," the Chief of Security said in quiet resignation. This was a time for action, not for questions, so Ya'Han readied herself to break through the door and storm whatever was inside. With a quick nod of her, the Elasian-looking Nylaan confirmed her readiness. The sight was a little strange to behold for the ExO / ILO who clearly saw the woman she knew despite her altered appearance and the fact that her hair had not changed color to reflect her mindset.

=-=
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Shadow filled room
Stardate: 34023.2325 (0730 local time)

With a single powerful kick, the door was removed from their way allowing both women to rush in. Thanks to the memories Shar'El found in the mind of the bartender, they had been able to find this place, but now the advantage was gone. There was no way for them to know what the layout of this place would be or how many people they would come up against, still, the ExO / ILO believed that taking this chance was well worth it if it meant saving the Romulan's life.

The unexpected and dramatic entrance of the two undercover Federation officers appeared to take everyone by surprise, at least those who were standing. Shar'El quickly focused her attention on the nearest individual standing to her left while Ya'Han rushed in to take care of the other Elasian-shaped form.  The battle was fierce as their adversaries displayed more than a simple passing knowledge of combat expertise but in the end, the two women proved themselves to be better, or at the very least lucky.

Confirming that her opponent was down and out, the ExO / ILO glanced over to Ya'Han to make sure that she too was alright. Since no sounds of a continued struggle were heard, Shar'El assumed that the Chief of Security had taken care of her opponent but looking in her direction the Commander found that the Nylaan had not taken care of one Elasian man but rather three.  

"Glad to see you in full form," Shar'El grinned before making her way to the Romulan who was lying face-down on the cold stone floor.

"Is he..."

"The pulse is faint, but he is still alive," the ExO / ILO said. "He does not look like he suffered any external injuries as I see no green liquid coming from him but judging by his labored breathing he might need medical attention. We need to get him back to the SPHINX, and that without drawing any attention."

"That should be easy enough," Ya'Han sarcastically said as she knelt down and looked at the unconscious Romulan before carefully taking hold of him order to place him over her shoulder for easy transport. "Two Elasian women running through the vacant alleys of the city while carrying a barely conscious Romulan, I do not see what could possibly draw any kind of attention to us. Maybe we could try to skip down the main streets just to see how good our luck is."

Shar'El just shook her head. Sarcasm did not suit Ya'Han but her words did ring all too true. The morning light was waking up this city more with each passing moment, and it would be impossible for them to do as the ExO / ILO had requested without someone seeing them.  "Alright, we need another plan."

"There is something in this area of the city that is interfering with our ability to communicate with the SPHINX," Ya'Han said. "My guess is that whatever it is, it is also blocking sensors, so there is no way for the rest of our team to know where we are. Our primary objective should be to find a way out of whatever this zone is, from there maybe Sonja or Maya can figure something out to help us get back to the SPHINX undetected."

"We certainly cannot stay here," the ExO / ILO said looking at the unconscious Elasians at their feet. "Alright, I will take point and you follow. Stay close, I will try to find us a quick way through the back alleys."

The two women made their exit, leaving the unconscious Elasian men to enjoy the tranquility of the shadow-filled room. As soon as they were out though something made its presence known, a single shimmering nightmarish form appeared as if born of the shadows themselves. A great many guesses could have been made as to what this form was, but when eight small red spheres broke through the partial darkness, all questions as to who or what this thing was were cast aside. The ANUBIS was sent to ELAS to help usher peace and capture a Lokustaar operative, but now it seemed that they were dealing with the genuine article, a true agent of night, one that could hide with ease in the shadows of this world.

The Romulan might have been in the hands of the Federation officers, but he was far from having been rescued.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P042: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34023.2355 ("Sad and Stinky Situation")
-=-=-
"Sad and Stinky Situation"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Rescued" & (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity"]
-=-=-

Setting: ELAS, Landing Platform
Stardate: 34023.2355 (0800 local time)

Adriana was not expecting a red-carpet treatment, the situation on ELAS making the visit of the Ambassadorial team more of a quite necessity than an occasion to publicly acknowledge the arrival of dignitaries. That said, the Junior Ambassador had also not expected to be treated like common outsiders upon their arrival, and she even less expected to see two other factions descend upon their position,

"We were not planning on making a quiet arrival, right?" Lopez asked of Bonviva who was looking in the direction of the group displaying the colors of the Elasian War Master.

"Something is not right," Xana said as she studied the expression on Puunce's face.

"Which part?" Adriana gasped. "That we are literally in the middle of this or that we do not seem to be doing anything about it?"

"You two need to get out of here, NOW!" Puunce's announcement was urgent as he grabbed both Ambassadors by the arm to dragged them to a nearby drainage grid. "This is your only way out."

"In there!?!" Adriana demanded barely able to keep her eyes open from the pungent stench that came from beneath the grill.

"If you value your lives, then yes," the head of the Elasian Dark Order snapped back. "We will hold them back for as long as we can."

"We are here to negotiate peace," Xana said managing to maintain her professional tone and posture. "Not to go running through the sewers or whatever it is that is down there."

With a kick of his heel, the seal of the grill broke allowing it to swing down. "This is not what any of us wanted, least of all me. We cannot take the chance to have whatever slight hope of peace you represent be ended before the talks even start. It may sound crazy, but I believe that you are the best hope we all have at saving this world from a war that no one will survive. NOW GO!" Not allowing either woman to argue, Puunce forced them down the foul-smelling hole.

Against their better judgment and desires, the Bolian/Human Ambassador and her Junior Assistant made their way down the 12 or so meters long ladder. Just as they reached the bottom, they heard weapons fire followed by what appeared to be a heavy plate being dropped on top of the opening, plunging the two women into complete darkness.

"Now what?" Adriana asked as she desperately tried to keep the fear she felt from her voice.

"Now," Xana began as she turned on a hand-held lamp, "we find a way out of this place."

"You brought a lamp?" The Junior Ambassador asked in pleasant disbelief.

"It never hurts to be ready for the most unlikely happening," the Ambassador said casting both the light and her gaze to the upper end of the ladder. "I just hope that whatever is happening up there does not cost me my favorite pair of shoes. I am rather fond of that particular pair."

Adriana could not believe what she was hearing. Here they were, locked in the foulest stench imaginable while a fight was happening overhead and Xana was complaining about her possibly losing a pair of shoes. "I can't believe you. How can you stay so calm through all of this?"

"Would you believe me if I said that this was not the first time I was making my way through the sewers of an alien world?" The Bolian/Human asked not sounding anywhere close to being as upset as Adriana imagined the Ambassador should be. "I will admit that this one smells a great deal more unpleasant, but hopefully that means we will not have to deal with any R.O.U.Ss"

"Deal with what?" Adriana asked, not being familiar with the acronym used.

"Rodents Of Unusual Size," Xana said grinning.

The Junior Ambassador sighed and allowed her head to drop only to raise it back a few seconds later. "Well, I guess it would be better than us having to deal with the Five Ss."

"And those would be?"

"Slithering Stealthy Slimy Sewer Serpents," Adriana replied, trying to infuse some humor in this dark and dreary situation.  "I heard that they eat R.O.U.Ss for lunch.

"That's the spirit," the Ambassador chimed casting the light of her lamp down one end of the pipe before doing to the same to the other side. "Now, if this abundant bouquet of cringy and disgustingly embarrassing fragrance has not completely destroyed my sense of orientation, we need to go this way if we are to even get close to the main buildings."

At a loss for words, Adriana simply followed, trying her best not to think of the stench that assaulted her sense of smell of the feeling of the slimy sludge finding its way into her shoes and between her toes.

The more they walked, the more the Junior Ambassador thought of what had brought them here. Had Puunce truly saved their lives or had this just been a ploy to get them out of sight and unable to take on the role they were here to fulfill? Had this been a show of confrontation between the head of the Dark Order and the War Master or was this all a nicely orchestrated deception for Jeruun's benefit or anyone else who might have been watching. If this was the case, Adriana feared that their time in this disease-filled dark drainage dumpster might not end quite as well as they might have hoped for.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P043: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34024.0020 ("Tenuous Tranquility")
=-=
"Tenuous Tranquility"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Sad Stinky Situation" / (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity"]
=-=

Setting: USS SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34024.0020 (0825 local time)

Satella watched as Sonja tried to contact the away team. Although the CEO was not saying much, her body posture indicated that her efforts were met with little success.  Sonja glanced at the android who just shook her head, answering the question before it was asked aloud.

"I am guessing that this means we are nowhere close to getting a signal through." Dr. Bruxa was concerned. If either one of them needed any type of medical assistance, there was no way for them to ask for it. Shar'El and Ya'Han were more than capable of taking care of whatever situation they came across. Satella knew this but it did little to counter her growing concerns. This was not the ANUBIS and its relatively safe environment. They were on ELAS, a planet on the brink of civil war, and there was no telling what could happen.

"According to our sensors, there is no reason for this communication blackout." Ani's report did nothing to make anyone feel any better. Actually, it only served to make the red-haired engineer appear even more upset.

"The signal just *died*. The only way to explain that is some sort of interference field that they walked into. That field would need to be very specific as to its location. It also means that it should be a cinch to locate, but everything we tried has so far proved useless. There are no signs of an energy field. No signs of some sort of natural or artificial interference. As far as our instruments are concerned, everything out there is perfect."

Satella took a single step forward before speaking. "Then we do not have a choice. We have to go out there and see what is happening. They could be in trouble and in need of assistance."

"They could also be perfectly fine, speaking with Lujem. There is nothing, other than a lack of communication, to indicate that something is wrong. Our leaving the SPHINX could reveal our presence and jeopardize our mission. The logical course of action is for us to wait." As the next senior-most officer, Maya was in charge. Her words made perfect sense, and her analysis was as expected for a woman of science. As a Doctor, Satella was also a woman of science, but feelings played a large role in how she went about doing things. Medical scans could only reveal certain things and it was up to her to feel her way through the rest.

"Permission to go out and look for them." The CMO's request surprised everyone, including the physician herself. The words came from her lips, but she actually wondered if it was her who had spoken. After a few moments, and the fact that everyone was looking back at her, Satella accepted that she said this.

Sonja rolled her eyes. "With all due respect, Doctor, you are the last person that should be going out there."

"Why?" Satella asked, not hurt or angry, but curious as to what the woman's reasons were. "You think that I could not handle myself out there because I am a Doctor?"

"You being a Doctor actually has nothing to do with it," Sonja commented. "Well, it does but not the way that you believe it does. You are the one we all depend on should something go wrong. It would be irresponsible for us, as a group, to allow you to leave. What if Maya broke a nail or I stubbed my toe?"

Bruxa did not appear in any way impressed by the woman's humor. "Those are not valid reasons, and you know it."

"Fine," the redhead sighed. "We depend on you to make sure we all return to the ANUBIS in one piece, medically speaking. Captain Morningstar is also counting on us to bring you back in one piece. If either one of those reasons is enough, here is another. Of everyone on the SPHINX, you are the only one who does not appear as one of the locals. That alone makes it a very bad idea for you to go out there. We have no idea how the Elasians will react to seeing an outsider given the way things are going."

"But we cannot just stay here and do nothing." It was clear that Satella was very concerned. "If I cannot go, then one of you should go."

Maya smiled. "We could use this as a way to get a better idea of where this interference field is. By keeping an active comm channel, we could map the limit of this field. While we are doing this, whoever is out there might be able to get a clue as to where Shar'El and Ya'Han are."

"Either one of the Marines could do that," Dr. Bruxa said. "Maybe even Ani. Either would be more than capable of dealing with whatever is out there and help to figure out this field."

An uneasy silence returned onto the flight deck of the SPHINX. The idea had merits, and either one of the Marines or the avatar could make it work. The question was to decide who would actually go. As much as she would have liked to go herself, Satella understood the reasons why she should not. That did not mean that she did not want to see someone go out there. Shar'El and Ya'Han might be in trouble, and that was all that the CMO needed to push the issue.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P044: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34024.0040 ("Unreachable and Undaunted")
"Unreachable and Undaunted"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Tenuous Tranquility" / (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity"]

=/\=
What do people feel like after they have been in your presence? Do they walk away saying, “I saw another possibility in life?” Or do they depart undaunted, unaffected, and none the better?
-Rick Rigsby

=/\=
Setting: ELAS, Tunnel
Stardate:34024.0040 (0845 local time)

“What is the obsession with your shoes?”

Xana smiled at that question as she continued on along the tunnels.  “I have my reasons for liking my shoes, Adriana.”

The Junior Ambassador thought it wise not to point out that no shoes, in her estimation, were not worth their lives over.  So instead she tried another tactic as they walked through what was undoubtedly at least a day (if not several days’) worth of muck that seeped into them.  “You know that being here is probably ruining your shoes?”  She looked down; the Ambassador had been wearing red, shiny shoes.  Now with the muck, the shoes were less red and more a shade of putrid carcass.  

Adriana tried again when Xana made some general sounds of agreement. “I don’t want them to get ruined,” she pointed out.  When the other woman raised an eyebrow.  “Well not now... but if we were to go somewhere nice, now these shoes are not fit for anything--”

“Except mucking about, point taken,” Xana mused.  Stopping at a wall she stared at it for a moment and said, “I don't like large banquets anymore.  I mean the banquets are fine in theory, the food is good, usually.  But too many things could go wrong.”

“This is an example of things going right?” Adriana playfully asked.  

Xana smiled at that.  “Touche.”  Shining the light on the wall, she said seriously, “Our hosts now seem to have their minds on something else but I never thought to ask for a banquet.  I could have, some people do.  Scratch that, I know they do.  Before a mission, people don’t always have their minds on work, they want fun and banquets are a way to blow off steam before the work of diplomacy.  Long ago, I would have loved that. But for most of my Ambassadorial career I’ve been married.  And I was faithful, even when I wasn’t in the same quadrant as my spouse, which was most of the time so that's why I avoided banquets, too much temptations... well clearly I'm not meant for marriage but it's been a long time since I've had fun...”  

Before Adriana could ask more about what exactly happened at an Ambassadorial banquet, and completely unsure what to do with that startling personal insight, Xana cleared her throat as she stared at the wall.  “This graffiti is interesting, isn’t it?” she asked quickly changing the topic.  “This is clearly anti-Federation but I’m not sure from whom.”

Adriana’s head spun at the fast turn of topics.  Adjusting to the new topic, she studied the wall.  “Graffiti is as much about artistic expression as it as about marking territory,” she explained.  “Whoever did this is definitely marked their territory.  Judging from the dark colors and clear distrust of distablishing themselves from the current status, this leads me to believe it’s Dark Order or Expansionists--”

Xana began rubbing her temple, trying to stave off the headache to come.  “Don’t say it,” she begged.

“This is the Elasian graffiti version of antidisestablishmentarianism,” Adriana finished with a slight grin at the other woman.  The Junior Ambassador/Counselor asked, “Why the groan?”

The Ambassador sighed as she stared at the graffiti.  “The officer who was ripping apart my luggage told me that the reason they were doing that was because they had Federation Ambassadors before and the last time they were here there had been an incident.  The kind of incident that led to an explosion.”  Shining her light down the tunnel some more she said, “It was an actual Trojan Horse, so to speak.”

Adriana looked at the graffiti.  “You mean like the kind we’re looking at here on the wall.”  

“Yes,” Xana frowned.  “I thought that really odd, since we’re the first ones here--”

“So someone sabotaged them,” Adriana pointed out.  “Not unheard of when there are hostilities.”

“Before you or I could talk about it, or even before we could discuss it as a group, we get shuffled off here,” Xana said.  Frowning she tapped her toes in the muck, “I really want to touch base with the ANUBIS.”

Adriana nodded.  “Perhaps Shar’El knows of other activity that’s happened here,” she nodded.  Tapping her foot she asked, “Think anyone we’ve been out of touch because we’ve been shoved into a tunnel?”

The Ambassador shook her head.  “Makes it all the more important we find a way to get back to the surface and figure out what’s going on.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P045: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34024.0105 ("Vehement Veracity")
=-=
"Vehement Veracity"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Unreachable and Undaunted" by Sarah / (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Maintenance Shed
Stardate: 34024.0105 (0910 local time)

The journey of the Elasian sun through the sky ushered a new day for the city and its people, unfortunately it also meant that a foot traffic on the streets, even the smallest ones, was rapidly picking up making it impossible for the two undercover officers and their ward to make a single step without raising some sort of suspicion from onlookers.  Thanks to their continued inability to communicate with the SPHINX, Shar'El and Ya'Han opted to find a place where they could hide and figure out their best plan of action, one that would not involve any sort of confrontation with the Elasian authorities, no matter what faction they might be aligned with.

The small and almost fragile looking lock on the maintenance shed proved to be no match for the Chief of Security's well-placed strike using a small metallic rod. The fact that the small building was so lightly secured meant that the structure stood some distance from the regular routes of the every-day populace, something that both Shar'El and Ya'Han were very thankful for.

The ExO / ILO sat in the far corner, watching the unconscious Romulan as he laid next to the Chief of Security who was keeping a vigilant watch on the door. Shar'El almost wished that someone would walk in if only to see just how fast Ya'Han would bounce back to her feet and tackle whatever poor soul would have the misfortune to walk in.  The attention of both Elasian women turned to their ward as he began to stir.

"Looks like he's waking up," Ya'Han said, readying herself for what she suspected might be his lashing out from surprise in finding himself in such an odd place with two women he could not recognize.

"It's alright," the ExO / ILO said as the Romulan woke. "You are safe."

"Safe!" Lujem exclaimed quickly sitting up. "How can we be when we are so vulnerable? Our valiant and valorous vigil of vigilance is being threatened by these villainous and vicious vermin who have vowed to vanquish, with the most venomous violence imaginable, our way of life to see it vanish from existence. As voluptuous as our vitality may be, it will not be enough for us to be victorious against these vile vampiric villains ready to make victims of us all." The Romulan paused for a moment, taking in the confused and bemused expression of his audience. "Forgive the volume and voracity of my vocabulary, I did not intend to vex but these dark visions have vivified my volition to stand for what we value most. In view of this, we must launch a vendetta to vanguard against these vulgar and evil creatures that..."

Shar'El rose a hand to stop him from continuing with this verbose verbiage. "The creatures you are referring to are called the Lokustaar, and we know about them. What we did not know was they are here on ELAS."

"Knowing that they are here has placed us all in grave danger," the Romulan added making the Chief of Security let out a sigh of relief as she expected the alliteration to continue.

"We have to get you back to our ship," the ExO / ILO said. "Once that is accomplished, we can figure out what we need to do next. We came here with the goal of extracting a Lokustaar operative, not to deal with one of them straight on. We need to change our plans."

"He's worse than Maya," the Chief of Security noted with dismay. "It would also be wise for us to inform the Ambassadorial team of this," Ya'Han said. "The presence of the Lokustaar on ELAS might have quite an impact on the peace talks."

"Peace talks?!?" Lujem exclaimed.

"Here we go again," Ya'Han lamented as she took hold of the Romulan by his shoulders to make sure his attention was solely on her. "We have not had the best day so far, and right now the last thing we need is another longwinded exposition about things that, right now, there is little if anything we can do about.  If you have something to say, it better be something helpful."

The Romulan nervously pointed to one of the floor tiles of the maintenance shed which began to move as if the man possessed some sort of telekinetic power. Shar'El and Ya'Han watched in a stupor as the tile rose and began to slide across the floor, revealing an opening beneath it.  An unimaginable stench emerged from the opening, filling the small maintenance shed. The initial reaction was for them to leave but this would risk them being discovered, so instead, they waited to see what unspeakable horror responsible for this offending aroma would come out of the newly discovered opening.

"Ambassador Bonviva?" Shar'El gasped. "What are you doing here?"

"Long story," Xana said sounding rather relieved that Adriana and she were finally out of the sewers. "Give us a minute to clean our shoes. I will explain everything after."
"We may not have a great deal of time," Ya'Han said while helping the Counselor out. "We have a report that there is at least one Lokustaar here on ELAS."

"Well, that might explain a few things," Adriana said wasting little time in taking off her shoes and emptying them of whatever gooey muck had slithered its way into them. "Have you been able to inform the others?"

"We are in a communication dead zone," the ExO / ILO explained. "There is no way for us to communicate with the others, and because of our friend here we thought it best to stay out of sight for the time being."

"Your friend?" Xana said, studying the aged Romulan man.

"My name is Lujem and I have been here on ELAS in exile for the last 14 rotations of this planet around its sum. During this time, I have managed to make a few friends and learn a few things. I have seen the rise of the factions and how the friction between them gradually increased. It was only recently that I discovered that there was another resident 'alien' on this planet besides me, and it played an important role in what has come to be."

"No surprises there," Ya'Han sighed.

"We need to get back to the SPHINX now more than ever before," Shar'El said. "If not to inform the others of what we discovered her, to at the very least get as far away from the stench that you two just came out of."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P046: USS ANUBIS: Paquette: 34024.0110 ("Wineless Woman")
"Wineless Woman"
previous posts were (ANU) "Vehement Veracity" / (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity"

=====
Setting: USS SPHINX, Airlock
Stardate: 34024.0110 (0915 local time)

Sonja stood in between the two sets of doors of the airlock letting her eyes adjust to the natural morning light of the world they were on. "You know, I have been living on a space ship for so long that I forgot how bright sunlight can be," the surgically altered woman announced. "Maybe Satella should have given us some kind of sun-shield-contact lenses."

"If I did not know you better, I would say that you are delaying," Ani said, the Elasian-looking avatar standing several steps away from the camouflaged ship.

"If I am not in Main Engineering working on fixing something or working on one of your upgrades, I end up in some dark underground fighting living shadows," Sonja countered. "Give me a minute."

"Unless my internal chronometer needs repair or replacement, you have been in that exact same location for three minutes and 42 seconds," Ani pointed out, almost smiling as she did so.

"Betrayed by my own creation," the Chief Engineer quietly exclaimed. "Next time I have a wine party, you are not invited," Sonja added finally setting foot on Elasian soil. "Let's go. We have an interference field to map out and two missing officers to find.

=====
Setting: ELAS, Outskirts of the City of Poljah
Stardate: 34024.0130 (0935 local time)

Except for the clearly Elasian architecture, the city appeared like countless others across the Federation. Buildings of various shapes and sizes lined the streets while the local population went about their daily business.

"Maya, you should be the one here," Sonja said knowing that the Shillian Chief Science Officer was back on the SPHINX monitoring the open communications channel.

"Lt. Commander Maya is the next most senior officer while Commander Shar'El is absent, as such her place is on the SPHINX," the Avatar stated with the cold efficiency and tack of a computer.

"Remind me again why she is here with me instead of one of the two Marines?"

=/\= You said that she would be able to map out the interference field quicker and more accurately than even you could by using a tricorder. The fact that she would not have to try and hide the alien device was a major bonus that you believed t be essential to the success of this mission. =/\= Maya explained.

"Was I drunk when I said this?" Sonja asked.

=/\= I do not believe that you were, =/\= the Chief Science Officer replied sounding a little surprised by the question.

"Then I am going to need to be by the time I get back," the engineer quipped. "This simple mission is going to be a true test of my patience, but before that, we need to get back to work. Looks like we have located the tavern they were going to, we are going to follow the path they took before we lost their signals."

=/\= Do be careful, =/\= Maya strongly suggested. =/\= We cannot afford to lose any more of our officers. =/\=

"Maya, I'm touched. I did not realize that you cared."

=====
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, alleyway
Stardate: 34024.0140 (0945 local time)

"This is where we lost contact," Ani announced as she scrutinized their surroundings, searching for anything that might be responsible for the interference field that was cutting Commander Shar'El and Lieutenant Ya'Han from the rest of the team. "I do not see anything that could be responsible for the generation or control of any sort of energy dampening field. It is possible that the technology is embedded inside the building, but my built-in sensors are not picking up anything that supports that theory. It is too bad that we could not deploy the D.R.O.N.E.s here, they would be able to get a much wider view and scan of the area."  After saying this, the Avatar took a few steps forward.

=/\= We just lost contact with ANI, =/\= Maya announced.

"Well, it's official, we are dealing with some sort of dampening field, but this technology is far beyond what we know the Elasians possess," Sonja commented.

=/\= Could we be looking at some sort of adapted Lokustaar technology? =/\=

"That or any one of countless other possibilities," Sonja added. "This could be new tech from the Elasians that we were not aware of, it could also be something the Orion Syndicate placed here to hide their activities from anyone too curious. Heck, it could even be some sort of natural phenomenon that we have never before encountered."

=/\= You are there and see the area, what do you believe it could be? =/\= The scientist was clearly wanting answers that no one could provide at this time, so the best they could do was to speculate.

"As much as I hate to admit it, the theory about this being from our unfriendly neighbourhood Shadows is the best and most likely answer," Sonja said. "This means that we might be dealing with more than just a rogue operative trying to create chaos on this planet. Ani, can you modify your primary sensor and communication array to allow us to go in there without losing contact with the others?"

"I should be able to, but it might take some time," the android replied while looking around.

"Let us try not to take too long," Sonja commented. "We have been fortunate so far in not attracting any unwanted attention, but that might not last. It only takes one overly curious Elasian to make things exceptionally difficult for us."

"Excuse me, miss?"

Sonja nearly jumped out of her skin. the little girl who had just uttered those words had seemingly come out of nowhere. Then again, the fact that she currently stood inside the interference field meant that the SPHINX could not have seen her and Ani was likely too busy with her reprogramming to allow her to pay attention to their immediate surroundings.  "Hey there little girl," the Engineer said lowering herself down onto one knee. "What can I do for you?"

"You should not be here," she said as if the statement had been perfectly normal for someone of her age to say. "It is not safe.  Bad things happen in this part of town."

"It can't be that dangerous if you are here by yourself," Sonja said, trying to keep the tone as lighthearted as possible while at the same time keeping a watchful eye out for anything that might actually be dangerous to them and their mission.

"It is dangerous enough for me to know better than to stay here like the two of you are," the little girls said before running off and vanishing around one of the corners.

"What a charming little brat," the Chief Engineer mumbled.

=/\= I thought you wanted kids, at least at some point in your life. =/\= Satella said, the Doctor clearly listening in on what was happening.

"It may be what my mother wants," Sonja pointed out. "I can assure you that I would need to be beyond drunk for me to want to have any sort of miniature ankle-biters. I get cranky not having a good large glass of wine after a few days, so imagine how I would be after months and even years. No, it is better that I do not become a mother because sooner or later one of us would end up dead, crazy or both."

"I believe that I might have found a way to circumvent the interference field," Ani announced.

=/\= The signal is not entirely clear, but it is more than we were able to get before, =/\= Maya reported from the SPHINX. =/\= We should be able to keep track of you and maintain communication as you progress deeper in. =/\=

"Well, then let us get moving. The quicker we find Shar'El and Ya'Han, the quicker we can get back and the quicker I can replicate a tall glass of wine that will help me forget about this whole child-from-hell encounter.

=====
Lorraine Paquette

Lt Commander Sonja Paquette [Access Character BIO for Sonja Paquette]
Chief Engineering Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501
M15-P047: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34024.0145 ("X Marks The Spot")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"X Marks The Spot"
[previous post were (ANU) "Wineless Woman" / (BAS) "Fraudulend Authenticity"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Maintenance Shed
Stardate: 34024.0145 (0950 local time)

The stench from the sewer was gradually dissipating but it did little to lighten the somber mood shared by those trapped inside the maintenance shed. The fact that there was a Lokustaar out there only made matters worse. Dealing with the extraction of one of their operatives was one thing, but to have to go toe-to-toe with one of those walking nightmares was something that none of them were looking forward to.

"We cannot just stay here an do nothing," Ya'Han said as her frustration became more than she could contain. It is only a matter of time before the Lokustaar figure out where we are.

"We are not doing *nothing*," the Human/Bolian Ambassador said sounding as calm and collected as ever. "We are thinking, and right now that is likely the best thing for us to be doing."

"Letting one's mind wander on these wicked and woeful wights simply invites their wrath while we wait. We must find a way to swiftly win this war or risk wasting our welfare away," Lujem said.

The frustrated Sec/Tac lunged at the Romulan only to be stopped short of her target by a quick-thinking Commander. "He's actually on our side, remember? On the brighter side of things, he did move from *Vs* to *Ws*."

As funny as Shar'El tried to make this seem to be, it failed to make Ya'Han feel any better about their situation or the presence of the Romulan. If the exiled man was not as crazy as she believed him to be, the end result might be that the rest of them might end up sounding like him, something that the Sec/Tac truly wished to avoid at all costs.

"Are you sure about the presence of a Lokustaar on ELAS?" Xana asked Shar'El, the Ambassador clearly having a specific train of thought she was entertaining.

"As crazy as he may seem to be by the way he talks," the Commander said glancing in the Romulan's direction. "The intel is sound," she added gently tapping the side of her head. The memories of his dealings with the Lokustaar are clear, more so than any dream or fabricated delusion would be. I am not claiming that this is 100% reliable as I know first hand how certain memories can be forced and implanted into the minds of others, but I have dealt with enough of those to recognize this when I encounter it."

"This was not the case," whispered Adriana. The Junior Ambassador understood why the question had been posed by the Ambassador and it was likely that both hoped that the answer would not be as certain as the one they received. "This puts the peace talks at risk, that is if there ever was an actual hope, to begin with."

"I Agree," Ya'Han added. "We know how the Lokustaar operates, so it is very feasible that the idea of peace talks was nothing more than a ploy to drag the Federation into this affair to expand the scope of the confrontation."

"And that would be even more of a reason for us to make sure that these peace talks happen," the Ambassador said with unwavering conviction. "If the Elasians truly want peace, then we cannot turn our backs on them and we must do everything in our power to help them. If, on the other hand, this is nothing more than trick orchestrated by the Lokustar, we have a responsibility to see that this plan fails, and I cannot see any better way to accomplish this than to have the factions of this world reach a peaceful resolution." Xana paused as she turned her attention onto Ya'Han. "Are you familiar with Sun Tzu?"

"Of course," the Sec/Tac replied. "He is required reading and study at the Academy for anyone entering the fields of Security or Tactical. In fact, it is highly recommended that his Thirty-Six Strategies be memorized, if not to be used at the very least to be kept in mind when dealing with combat situations."

"Please, allow me to test your memory," the Ambassador said, a grin playing on the corner of her lips. "What is the 17th Strategy?"

Ya'Han sighed. As much as she might have considered this to be a waste of time, she knew the Ambassador enough to realize that she was building up to making a point. "Prepare a trap then lure your enemy into the trap by using bait. In war, the bait is the illusion of an opportunity for gain."

"Well done Lieutenant, your Academy instructor would be proud of you," Xana smiled. "The trap, if there is one, which we suspect there is, uses the bait of peace, not only for the Elasian but for the Federation. We will not be trying to circumvent this trap or even deny the bait, but what we need to do is to change our objective. Peace was the goal of us being here, now it will simply be a side-effect, our new primary objective is to defeat the Lokustaar."

"The trap is meant to see us fail in trying to establish peace on this world," the Sec/Tac said nodding her head in agreement. "They are not planning on us not even trying to get these peace talks started. If we could rally the Elasian factions to fight the Lokustaar instead of each other, even if only for a short time, it would drastically change things."

"Nothing like fighting a common enemy to make people forget their differences," Adriana noted.

"Easier said than done I'm afraid," Ya'Han said.  "Even if we did manage to rally the factions together on this plan, we need to give them a clear target to go after and based on what we know of the Lokustaar, they are not the type to make their presence known to the general public.

"True, but we do have a good place to start looking," Shar'El said while looking at the Romulan. "He was the last one to see it and I cannot think of a better place for us to start with."

"Returning to that residence is ridiculous and, let me remind you, beyond risky. That ravenous reaper is going to remove us from this reality with ruthless and reprehensible relentless resilience."

"That is why you are going to be leading the pack," Ya'Han growled as she took the Romulan by the shoulder and ushered him out of the maintenance shed.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P048: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34024.0200 ("You Know You Are In Trouble When...")
=-=
"You Know You Are In Trouble When..."
[the previous posts were (ANU) "X Marks The Spot" by Hanali / (BAS) "Fraudulent Authenticity" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Side Streets
Stardate: 34024.0200 (1005 local time)

"The best defense is a strong offense," the ExO / ILO muttered to herself while keeping a close watch on the group and especially on the Romulan who was several steps ahead of the pack. Since the team left the maintenance shed, Shar'El had been thinking of all of the strategy sayings and idioms she had ever been exposed to in order to convince herself that what they were doing was the right thing. Their current situation and the discovery of the presence of a Lokustaar of this world had made things a great deal more difficult.

Being on ELAS was already risky thanks to the tension between the factions. Even if the away team appeared like everyone else thanks to Doctor Bruxa's magic, there was still the unpleasant possibility that someone might question their presence and identities, thus jeopardizing their mission. As far as the ExO / ILO was concerned, having the group led by an exiled Romulan drastically increased the odds of something going wrong. If that was not enough, they now had to deal with the extraction team and Ambassadorial team forced together making them stick out from the genera crowd even more.

That said, the Elasians they encountered seemed to pay little attention to Lujem, the Romulan apparently having become just another oddity that no longer piqued anyone's interest. As long as Xana and Adriana kept their hoods on and heads down, they might actually manage to make it without drawing too much attention. Also, as bad as the pungent odor that hung onto the two Ambassadors was, it did seem to help keep some of the attention away.  The biological reports on the people of ELAS did not indicate any heightened sense of smell, but right now Shar'El was not about to question any advantage, however small, they might have.

"The material used to make these cloaks is exceptionally rough," the Junior Ambassador quietly noted.

"Don't complain too much," Ya'Han said, the Chief of Security walking between the Romulan and two Ambassadors, keeping an eye on the first while offering protection to the other two. "We were lucky to find those hooded cloaks. Without them, it would have been nearly impossible for us to make it this far without drawing attention, and that's even with that sewer stench that doesn't seem to want to go away."

"Complaining is the only thing I can do right now," Lopez huffed. "I'm hiding under a cloak that might as well be made of sandpaper while smelling like something that came out of some oversized beast. I can only imagine that I appear more like a wandering leper than a Junior Ambassador on a mission to help a world save itself from an all-out civil war."

"Would you rather walk through these streets as an Elasian version of Lady Godiva?" Xana asked sounding as if she was finding this far more entertaining than it should have been.

"Normally, I would not even consider the possibility of my going out in public naked," Adriana sighed. "Right now though, I do not believe that it would make me feel any less shame than I am already feeling. In fact, it might even be preferable as I would be looked upon by passersby with interest and lust instead of loathing and disgust."

"That was one Elasian woman," Shar'El pointed out. "Th only reason she reacted so strongly was that she once fell into the sewers as a child. The stench brought back a very unpleasant memory, a memory that she broadcasted loud and wide, so much so that I could barely block it after I became aware of it."

"As interesting as all of this may be," Ya'Han called out sounding a little frustrated. "Our pointed-ear friend is picking up the pace, so it might be a good idea to keep our attention on the current mission and less of the looks and smells of things."

The ExO / ILO quickly nodded her head in agreement and with a motion of her head instructed everyone to follow suit. Lujem had for some reason decided to hurry things up and it was best for everyone to follow without asking too many questions. As much as any of them wanted to admit it, the Romulan was the one with the most valid and current Intel about this part of the city.
=-=
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Back Alleyway
Stardate: 34024.0220 (1025 local time)

Navigating the maze of small side streets and back alleys was quite a physical ordeal but it also allowed the team to reduce their contact with the Elasians to the absolute minimum.  The group came to a sudden and unexpected stop when, after turning another corner, Lujem came face-to-face with someone.

"What are you doing here?" The Elasian man appeared to know the Romulan, maybe a little more than the rest of the group might have cared for. "Searching for your moving darkness again?"

"Darkness can be discovered anywhere one dares to look, be it out of despair, desperation or a deep desire to decipher the truth. To decline the presence of this truth can only lead people to their downfall and eventual damnation," the Romulan said in his defense, once again using a manner of speech they all had started to expect from him. "Belief in these black beasts is best kept to those able to beat them, so begone and let us be."

"What?" The Elasian chuckled as he looked over the Romulan's shoulders to two women and two cloaked figures. "What lies did you use to trick them into following you? Do they know how much of a drunken fool you are?"

"I am no fool," the Romulan snapped. "I have found these fowl foreboding fiends and know that our end if not far unless we fiercely fight for our future."

"You! Fight?" The Elasian could not contain his amusement especially after pushing the Romulan down to the ground using but a single hand.

"We do not have time for this," Ya'Han quietly growled as she closed the gap between her and the Elasian blocking their path. The man expected some sort of verbal lashing and was completely taken aback when the woman took hold of the same hand he had used to push the Romulan in order to flip him onto his back. By the time the Elasian was able to look around, Ya'Han had already helped Lujem back onto his feet.

"Was that truly necessary?" Adriana asked, the group having left the stunned Elasian behind.

"The longer we are out here, exposed, the greater the odds are that we are going to run into something that is going to make our lives a great deal more difficult than we care for," the Chief of Security explained. "I will grant you that there is a time and a place for diplomacy, all I ask is for you to accept this was not it."

"How about now?" Xana chirped, redirecting the Nylaan's attention to a group of Elasian blocking their path, these one appearing far more ready for a fight than the single man they had previously encountered.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P049: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34024.0300 ("Zuzim")
"Zuzim"
[previous (ANU) "You Know You Are In Trouble When..." / (BAS) "Unlikely Allies"]

=/\=
Demand a convocation of inquiry for the purpose of resolving disputes in the event of a conflict between oneself and other thieves, or between thieves.
--Thieves Code of Honor, Number 7

=/\=
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Back Alleyway
Stardate: 34024.0300 (1105 local time)

The team looked at Shar’El.  Shar’El and Xana exchanged the briefest of looks before looking back at the rough group at the end of the alley.  Despite being in an alley, enough sunshine was coming through the cracks between buildings so that the team could see that these were not from any of the factions (or at least anyone that they knew of). Actually it appeared, Xana thought to herself, that they were--

“Beat it,” said a familiar voice from *behind* the rough group, “or I’ll call the Brute Squad.”

The rough looking crowd turned and parted enough so that they saw Sonja with Ani, the former looking rather annoyed at being held up by this rough and tumble group.  A rather large and intimidating woman looked down at Sonja and said, “I’m on the... Brute Squad.”

Sonja just rolled her eyes at that.  “You *are* the Brute Squad.”

Xana and Shar’El walked forward from their side of the alley, with Ya’Han and Adriana close.  It was readily apparent that no one actually believed that these individuals were “the Brute Squad”.  Instead this large woman who had just been talking to Sonja then turned around with surprising brusqueness and said, “Who is the leader here?”

Unprepared for the question, undeniably exhausted, and without any forethought both women said while pointing at the other, “She is.”

“That’s it, Ani, I’m finding some studs and promoting you,” Sonja quipped.

“According to protocol, it would take more than finding aurum circles for a promotion,” Ani pointed out.  

The large woman who was clearly their leader studied the XO.  “What are you here for?”

Shar’El looked up at the sunlight and keeping her face perfectly neutral she said, “The day is lovely.”

“It could always rain later,” the Brute Squad woman replied.

Adriana leaned in and whispered to Xana.  “We’re going to discuss the weather?”

The Bolian/Human whispered as she took a step back.  “Yes.  And no.”  Holding up a finger in a bid for patience she said, “It’s thieves code, I believe.”  

Ya’Han, never taking her eyes off the situation also whispered, “You know this code?”

“It’s remarkably similar to diplomatic code; they’re two sides of one coin many times,” Xana shrugged.  

The Security Officer continued her glare of the Brute Squad but couldn’t help but say, “That explains so much.”

For a few moments Shar’El and the Brute Squad woman discussed the weather, then umbrellas and rain gear, all of which was code.  Finally the Brute Squad woman said, “Where were you taking refuge from?”

Shar’El paused for a moment and looked over to catch Xana’s eye.  The Ambassador leaned against a grimy door that lead to somewhere she couldn’t tell.  “We’re Zuzim,” she finally said, referring to the ancient tribe that meant “restless”.  When the Brute Squad woman looked at her and grunted the Ambassador said, “As you can imagine we are in need of--”

“Convocation,” Shar’El interjected as inspiration struck.  “We call convocation.”  Pausing for a moment, she said, “With all parties.”

The other members of the Brute Squad behind the large woman groaned; Sonja may have joined in as well, it was unclear.  It was clear the Brute Squad wanted a fight; but they adhered to the old established rules.  Convocation had been called for and they would agree to it.  Still the Shar’El straightened up and said, “A convocation needs to happen.”

“You called, we agree,” the woman nodded.  

“Does convocation include a shower and food?” Adriana asked.  When everyone turned around to look at her she asked, “What?  Too obvious?”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P050: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34024.0430 ("Anxiety And Anticipation")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Anxiety And Anticipation"
[previous post were (ANU) "Zuzim" / (BAS) "Unlikely Allies"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown building
Stardate: 34024.0430 (1235 local time)

The team as a whole had been brought to this location, a room located on the third floor of an unassuming building. From the bay window, the Sec/Tac could see a fair portion of the city as well as the streets surrounding the structure. This was not by any stretch of the imagination the best location for them to be in, but Ya'Han had do admit that it was a reasonable place for them to defend themselves should the need arise.

"Red," Sonja said calling the Nylaan by her nickname which made the Sec/Tac look unhappily at a stray strand of solid black hair from her head. Whatever Doctor Bruxa had done to suppress the ability of her hair to change color according to her mood had worked. There were times when the Sec/Tac found this to be more of a nuisance than anything else, giving away her mindset to everyone around, but now that she had lost this ability Ya'Han actually found herself missing this distinct feature that was part of who she was. "Red? Stop daydreaming and come join us for a drink. It may not be wine but it's not all that bad, once you get used to the initial taste."

"I am just making sure that the perimeter is secured," the Sec/Tac replied. Sonja never seemed to allow stress to get to her even during the most demanding of times. Some might have looked upon this as a lack of professionalism but Ya'Han knew better although there were times when the Nylaan was concerned about the nonchalant attitude of the woman.

"The perimeter *is* secured," Sonja said with complete assurance. "The 'brute squad' of one is out there acting as a secondary door to this building. Her appearance alone should be a deterrent enough to stop anyone from thinking about coming in here."

"We have been here too long," the Sec/Tac pointed out. "The worst part is that we are still in the communication dead-zone which means that the SPHINX has no idea where we are or even if we are safe."

"I would not be overly concerned about any of that," Xana chimed in. "The request of a convocation involving *all* parties is likely going to be picked up by the SPHINX and I am sure that it will not take long for Doctor Bruxa to put the pieces together."

"What did I miss?" Counselor Lopez asked as she stepped out of the shower, the woman covered by nothing more than a bath towel.

"I was starting to worry about you having vanished down the drain," Sonja said in a teasing manner. "You have been in there for quite some time."

"The stench of the sewer was not an easy one to scrub off," Adriana said. "I think it is going to take more than airing out the clothes to finally get rid of that awful smell."

"In order to truly appreciate a planet and its society you have to experience the full range of what they have to offer," Xana pointed out. "As an Ambassador we are all too often subjected to a biased and warped sample of a world, this little adventure provided us with insights that we would never have been able to get otherwise."

"You are right," Adriana reluctantly agreed. "Still, I wish we could have sampled odors that were less pervasive and offensive."

"Smells seldom support the selected style of survival sustained by a segment of a specific society," the Romulan said in his customary way of speaking. "The best strategy is to see past these scents and salute the serenity of something that stands beyond the supposed."

Ya'Han just rolled her eyes. As helpful as Lujem had been, there was something about him that just did not sit well with the Sec/Tac. Maybe it was his being a Romulan or simply the way he spoke, but whatever it was Ya'Han knew that she could have done without.  Returning her gaze to the section of the Elasian city visible through the window, the Nylaan noted something different. "There is a heavy-armed group of men heading this way, the problem is that from here I cannot see what faction they belong to or even if they do belong to one. Judging by their steps though, it is clear that they are not patrolling the streets but rather going to a specific location."

"Great!" Xana exclaimed, "We can get our gears going." The fact that the Bolian/Human Ambassador was trying to sound like their Romulan friend did not go unnoticed by those in the room, everyone including Ya'Han having turned to glare at the woman. "Is it not desirable for us to not dwell on our difficulties but rather dive into defusing the dangers and difficulties we are all having to deal with?"  The Ambassador looked surprised at the reaction she was receiving, especially when even the Romulan man appeared to find her speech pattern to be odd.

"I better go get dressed," Adriana said. "Not entire certain as to how my being this way would affect the talks that are about to take place."

Ya'Han shook her head in clear disagreement. There was no certainty that the heavily armed group of men were here to take part in the convocation requested by Commander Shar'El. As far as the Sec/Tac was concerned those men could have been heading their way to use this to strike at them while they were at their weakest and most vulnerable. It made sense that Adriana and Xana, as Ambassadors, looked upon any and all situations with a more positive and hopeful perspective, but as the Chief of Security and the one officially responsible for the safety of everyone here, it was her duty to anticipate the worst-case scenarios.

Now, if only Shar'El had been here with them instead of somewhere else in the building, Ya'Han might not have been so ready to look upon things with such a grim perspective.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P051: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34024.0445 ("Bravado or Bold Betrayal")
=-=
"Bravado or Bold Betrayal "
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Anxiety and Anticipation" by Hanali / (BAS) "Unlikely Allies" by Jayson]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0445 (1250 local time)

With the rest of the team safe on the floor above, the ExO / ILO ventured down to the second floor where she had been informed that someone wanted to see her. After speaking with a few members of the 'brute squad', Shar'El was left alone, or so it seemed but experience had long taught the woman that appearances were, more often than not, deceiving.

"Glad to see that you and your people made it here in one piece," a man said as he stepped out of the shadows. "There was a point where I was not entirely sure that you would make it, but I should have known better than to doubt you or anyone that you chose to work with."

"Still playing hide-and-seek Tarken?" Shar'El asked in a barely amused tone. "You took a huge risk in sending your people to contact us. It could have exposed your presence and allegiance to everyone else."

"A calculated risk," the NEW ALEXANDRIA Operative said as he stepped into the light to make himself fully visible. "I needed to make sure you knew that there was a friend here waiting for you on ELAS. There are a lot of forces at play in this conflict, more than anyone realizes. Did you know that the Lokustaar are here? I am not referring to any of their lackeys. Those walking nightmares are here in person if you can call it that. Those beasts may be described as a great many things but being a 'person' is definitively not a descriptive I would use."

"Lujem, the Romulan we picked up, had some personal dealing with one of them. We were on the way to confront the Lokustaar when the 'Brute Squad' intercepted us."

Tarken laughed. "Here I thought that the drunken Romulan fossil was nothing more than a crazy fool who kept telling wild stories when in fact he actually had dealt with the Lokustaar. Might explain why he acts the way he does. You have to agree that dealing directly with the Lokustaar changes someone in ways that they may never fully understand or realize."

"They do seem to have a way to mess with people's minds," the ExO / ILO said as she finally turned to face the NEW ALEXANDRIA Intel operative.

"Whatever dealings you have had with them does not seem to have affected you all that much," Tarken said smiling as he studied the woman standing before him. "You look good, even under all that Elasian facade. I am glad to see that the War of Shadows has spared you some of its more unpleasantries."

"My crew and I have not been immune to the effects of this conflict," Shar'El clarified. "In fact, we have taken one more than our fair share through our various missions. I am just glad to see that the conflict is finally coming to an end with us, meaning all of the life forms in this dimension, not cast into eternal darkness."

"The war is not over," Tarken hissed. "The Lokustaar were dealt a damaging blow that deprived them of remaining unseen by their opponents. As much as this may seem to be an advantage for everyone fighting them, it forced the Lokustaar to be more devious and blatant in their efforts to destroy everyone. There is nothing more dangerous than a cornered wounded beast."

"True," the ExO / ILO agreed although she sounded as if there was an addendum to this. "Dealing with dangerous beasts has never been an issue for you before, guess that is why you are here on ELAS."

"I go where I am needed," the operative replied, "and I do what is required," he added just as two Elasian men exploded into the room and took hold of Shar'El's arms before forcing her down onto her knees. "You are good, but not good enough. How did you know that I was working for the Lokustaar?"

The two men holding her down were too strong making it impossible for her to break free. Since a physical escape was impossible, the ExO / ILO decided to play the game for the time being, not that she had any other option at her disposal. "I knew Tarken before he started at NEW ALEXANDRIA. My guess is that you are one of those clones the Lokustaar likes to use to replace people."

"Yes," the man softly growled as he lowered himself to be face-to-face with the restrained woman. "The discovery of the clones on KTARIS and the subsequent destruction of the pods did create a few problems, but it was not the only such facility scattered throughout this universe. The Lokustaar are many things, one of them being exceptionally thorough in their preparations and planning. Take this world as an example, they knew that the Federation would try to resolve the issue on ELAS, and they also know that more than one plan would be put into action, so they came up with plans of their own. Whatever you and your crew would manage to accomplish, it would be used to point the finger back to the Federation when this world fell into complete chaos. It is inevitable."

"Unexpected, maybe even unwanted but nothing is inevitable," the Romulan said as he stepped into the room. "Your unruly union with those unspeakable and unfeeling agents of the underworld will prove unsuccessful in undoing what this or any other civilization has unleashed."

"Lujem," Tarken sighed as he rolled his eyes and returned to a fully upright stands. "I think it is time to put you out of your misery. Your death will be added to the hundreds that will be blamed on the meddling Federation. That way you will die knowing that you were right and have helped bring about the darkness you were warning everyone about."

"I don't think so," a familiar voice said from behind the kneeling ExO / ILO. A blink of an eye after those words were uttered, the two Elasian men holding Shar'El down were themselves knocked to the ground. Moving with a speed of a highly trained and motivated Chief of Security, Ya'Han bounced towards the clone and with a single move snapped his neck sending the man collapsing to the ground, lifeless.  "I think this makes it official," the Nylaan said panting heavily. "I hate clones."

"It looks like this entire affair has been painstakingly orchestrated by the Lokustaar to ensure that we had as little effect on the final outcome as possible," the ExO / ILO said, looking down at the two unconscious men by her side.

"Things are not going to get any easier I am afraid," Ya'Han added. "There is a group of heavily armed Elasian heading this way, but there is no way for us to know their intents. We can't even identify what faction, if any, they belong to."

"Our best, and likely only course of action is for us to regroup with the others and see what happens next," Shar'El said. "It might require some fancy convincing, but that is why Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez are here, no?"

"In other words, I should start planning for another way to see us get out of this mess?"

"It would not be a bad idea," the ExO / ILO grinned. "It never hurts to be prepared, and when dealing with the Lokustaar, it is even a better idea to have multiple plans at the ready, because we now know for a fact that they have multiple plans of their own already in the works."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P052: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34024.0525 ("Completely Crazy Concept")
-=-=-
"Completely Crazy Concept"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Bravado or Bold Betrayal" & (BAS) "Unlikely Allies"]
-=-=-

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0525 (1330 local time)

Xana and Adriana attended to Shar'El who did not appear to be as shaken as the woman should be following the betrayal she had just been the target of. Had it not been for Ya'Han's quick intervention, it was very likely that the Commander would not be here with them at this time. The CNS was a little concerned about this lack of trauma, but all things considered, the woman not showing any signs of emotional shock following what happened might not have been such a bad thing as everyone's thoughts needed to be on a much more urgent matter.

"The building is completely surrounded," Sonja reported as she and the android she created hurried back into the room. "The Brute Squad is standing ready on the ground floor should they try to force their way in, but despite her size, I doubt that even she will be able to stop them all." The Engineer was referring to the large Elasian woman she had earlier confronted before being brought here.

"All exits out of this building are covered," Ani added. "There is no way for us to leave without running into a large number of armed men. I have also checked the basement, and there are no signs of any underground access that we could use to make a covert exit. Therefore, it would seem that they have us trapped."

"Tarken did mention that the Lokustaar had planned for every possible contingency," Shar'El said batting the hands of the Junior Ambassador away out of frustration. "If we are to have the slightest chance of making any sort of headway, not to mention getting ourselves out of this mess, we need to start thinking out of the box, and I mean by go completely off-book."

"Based on everything we know about the Lokustaar, that may not be that simple," Ya'Han said. "They are an ancient and patient race. This means that they can rely on their vast experience to plan things after having observed those more directly involved. Thinking 'outside the box' may not be enough."

"Our options seem to have gone from limited to none," the Bolian/Human Ambassador noted. "Even if we did manage to come up with an 'outside-the-box' plan, it is likely that the Lokustaar have someone in place to address it."

"So, what can we do?" Adriana asked, concern quickly mounting in her voice.

"Nothing," Xana replied with an ease and calmness that took pretty much everyone by surprise.

"That's the perfect way to make sure we all die," Ya'Han quickly objected.

"Maybe not," Bonviva shrugged. "If the Lokustaar have studied us for as long as we believe they have, they will expect us to fight despite the odds being against us. Let's face it if we have to reduce our respective species to the bare minimum ideas, we all share this common trait -- we fight for what we believe to be right no matter the odds.  If we go against this basic trait, it might just be enough to derail their plans, at least momentarily."

"That is taking one huge risk," Shar'El said. "I agree that those armed Elasians out there may wait for an excuse to reduce this building to dust, but sooner or later their patience will run out."

"Remember," Adriana began. "The Lokustaar need to have the Federation be the bad guy in this story. If they start opening fire without cause, rumors and witness accounts might create a sympathy movement instead of the outrage they are doing their best to create. ELAS is nothing but a pawn in this galactic game of chess to them and sacrificing these people only serves their greater purpose if the Federation ends up being blamed for what happened. Anything else will be nothing more than a single world destroyed by its own inability to resolve the conflicts brought upon by internal opposing points of view."

"Looks like you have been listening and learning," Xana said as she looked at Adriana with a distinct hint of pride.

"We do nothing?" Sonja was not ready to endorse this lunatic idea. "Maybe we could send out a paper airplane inviting them to join us as we sit in a circle and sing kumbaya."

"That is not such a bad idea," the Bolian/Human Ambassador shot back.

"I was kidding," the Engineer pointed out.

"I was not," Xana clarified. "They are expecting us to offer some sort of resistance in order to justify their assault. If we invite them in and to join us, offering no resistance what-so-ever, they could end up being part of the convocation instead of being the force and reason that stops it."

"That is completely nuts!" Ya'Han exclaimed.

"And that could very well be the reason why it will work," Adriana said. "I will tell the others to stand down and join us up here."

Sonja and Ya'Han could not stop shaking their heads in disbelief. This went against everything they knew and had been trained for but it was evident that Shar'El supported this course of action, at least enough for her to remain quiet and not offer an opposing view.

-=-=-
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0540 (1345 local time)

It took a few minutes for the troops to walk into the building after the doors were unlocked and opened. No one had fired upon them, no one had offered any sort of resistance, physical or verbal. They were certain that this was some kind of a trap which is why they all took great care in entering but with each step, their confusion grew.

By the time they reached the third floor, having thoroughly secured the levels before, the armed men were beginning to wonder what had happened. Did the evil force they had been told about someone managed to find a way to escape?  Whatever questions and confusion they might have had before grew in leaps and bounds as they walked into the largest room of the highest floor where they found the 'enemy', some sitting in a circle while the others sat with their backs against the wall.

Surely these people could not be the vile enemy of the state they had been described to be. Except for a Romulan male, a blue-skinned, white-haired woman and what appeared to be a Terran woman, all of the others were Elasian and as much as some of them appeared to be more on the rough side of things, the group as a whole most certainly did not come across as being the dangerous threat they had been sent to deal with.

"Welcome friends," Adriana said, both Xana and she had set themselves to look straight at the door making them the first people the armed troops would make eye contact with. "We are glad to see you have decided to join us."

"Yes," Xana followed suit while looking up at the lead Elasian trooper. "There is a great deal that we should all talk about, so please join us. We are here on a mission of peace, nothing more, but in order to achieve this peace we all have to be involved and all voices must be heard."

Adriana waited nervously for what would come next. Ya'Han was twitching, ready to jump at the nearest armed Elasians likely planning on disarming them and use their weapons to take care of the others. Likewise, the soldiers were studying the room's occupants, trying to figure out what this was all truly about. If this was a trap, it was a lousy one that certainly did not fit the image of the adversary they had been provided with.

As the seconds passed, the Junior Ambassador started to believe that this crazy plan might actually work.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P053: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34024.0600 ("Doubts, Dread and Danger")
=-=
"Doubts, Dreed and Danger"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Completely Crazy Concept" / (BAS) "Unlikely Allies"]
=-=

Setting: USS SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34024.0600 (1405 local time)

As a Doctor, Satella was accustomed to waiting. She had to wait for lab results, blood sample cultures, and countless other things. All too often she also needed to wait to see if a patient was responding as hoped to treatments. Like it or not, patience was a key ingredient in what was required to make a good CMO. Like all good things though, patience is a limited resource.

The team that boarded the SPHINX and came to ELAS consisted of eight people. Out of that number, only half now remained on board the craft. The first group to leave consisted of Shar'El and Ya'Han who ventured out in search of a Romulan contact. The second group, consisting of Ani and Sonja, went after the first when contact was lost. Maya and Satella were left behind, trying their best to figure out what happened. Both had expected the ship's avatar to find a way to pierce the communication wall, but so far no signal had made its way back. Without communication or sensors, there was no way for them to know what was happening or even if everyone was safe.

The option of sending out the Marines out had been seriously considered. Their training and experience made them the perfect candidates for this, but in the end, Maya decided not to further split the team. Keeping the SPHINX safe meant that they maintained a way to leave available. This allowed them to make a hasty retreat or even get back up from the ANUBIS if it was needed. Maya's logic was sound, but it did little to offset Satella's doubts. What if the away team had fallen prey to the agent of the Lokustaar? Waiting for them on the SPHINX meant they risked greater danger with each passing second. Delaying any sort of action could end up costing them their lives, and the CMO was not okay with that., not at all.

"I can imagine how Adriana would deal with me right about now," Satella said thinking aloud. Trying to sound like hr friend, she continued, "I am putting my personal feelings above my professional judgment." The CMO sighed heavily. "I just can't help it. Thinking about the away team being out there like this gives me the creeps. It may not be professional. Alright, it is not in the least professional, but I just have a bad feeling about this. The worst part is that there is nothing we can do about it. I think that is what is upsetting me the most."  When Maya said nothing in response to this rant, Satella looked over to where the Shillian was sitting. The woman was hard at work on something which meant that she likely did not hear a single word of what had just been said. "Figures," the Doctor lamented.

"I was listening," Maya said while still frantically working at the console. "I am just trying to boost the signal that we are receiving. It is exceptionally weak, but it is definitively ours. More specifically, it is originating from Ani."

Satella bounced out of her seat, barely touching the floor as she made her way to Maya. "Are they in trouble? Do they need medical assistance? Do we know where they are so we can send in the Marines to help?"

"No, no and no," Maya replied uncharacteristically using the fewest possible number of words. "I believe they are safe and in the middle of a 'sit-in'," she explained further. "I must have heard that wrong though. Why would Cmdr. Shar'El and the others be involved in some sort of 'sit-in'? There has to be a better explanation, but the signal is too disrupted to allow me to get a clearer sense of what she said."

Satella was ecstatic. "If we are able to receive her signal, maybe she can receive ours. So, ask her? Are they hurt? Do they need medical assistance? Do they need us to go to their rescue?"

A few seconds of silence were shared between the two women before Maya replied. "No, no and no."

"Really?!?" The CMO's patience was completely depleted. "Were those 'no’s' meant as a reply or a statement. Was it you echoing what Ani said or you telling me that we cannot be asking those questions? You are usually more articulate than this, so why ration your words now? Are you doing it on purpose to aggravate me?"

Maya finally stopped what she was doing and looked back at Satella. "It was never my intent to irritate you in any way. I was simply trying to be as efficient as possible in my replies to your numerous questions. You seem to be expecting answers faster than I would normally be able to provide them. It was because of that I decided to be more direct with my replies. I apologize if they proved to be too short for your liking. I will endeavor to provide you with more detailed answers without being too lengthy in my explanations."

"Maya!" Satella interrupted.

"Yes, Doctor Bruxa?"

"Never mind," the CMO said, figuring that anything else said would not change a thing. "Is the away team alright?

"They are," Maya replied. "According to Ani, and if I am understanding her correctly through the interference, they found Ambassador Bonviva and Lopez."

"They went out to look for a Romulan and found the Ambassadorial team?"Bruxa was completely flummoxed.   "At least they are alright. Guess that is what matters the most."

"They are alright, at least again based on what I am able t make out from Ani's transmission. There does seem to be an issue though. I believe she is trying to relay the fact that the Lokustaar are here."

"We knew that," the CMO brushed off.

"No Doctor," Maya said shaking her head. "She is not referring to a Shadow agent but to the race itself. It would seem they have proof to support that the Lokustaar are physically here on ELAS."

Satella stumbled backward until she fell sitting down into the nearest chair. "This is not good. Not good at all. We need to get them back here and us off this planet. The Lokustaar being here makes things much more dangerous and unpredictable. We need to regroup and figure out what our best next move is."

"I believe Cmdr. Shar'El is already addressing that as we speak. Actually, I believe it is the Ambassador who is spearheading this effort. Something about a convocation of all involved parties. They are discussing the situation here on ELAS."

"That's a good thing, right?" Satella asked. "That is what this mission was meant to accomplish. At least half of it. Getting people talking instead of fighting."

"Yes," Maya confirmed. "That said, Ani seems to be trying to convey some sort of imminent danger."

"So, they *are* in danger?"

"Not them... us."  Just as she said this, the SPHINX, under the camouflage of its external holographic emitters, was violently struck by something.  "I believe we are under attack."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P054: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34024.0700 ("Elegant Equation")
Elegant Equations
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Doubts, Dread and Danger" / (BAS) "Unsettling Feelings"]

=/\=
Peace cannot be kept by force.  It can only be achieved by understanding.
-Albert Einstein

=/\=
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0700 (1505 local time)

“The people do not want you here.”

They had been at this for an hour.  The refrain from all factions of the sit down was consistent and the same: We don’t want you.  Don’t know why you came.  Go back to where you came from.  

On one hand, it was an hour gone from her life that Xana was never going to get back again.  On the other...they were no closer to a solution than they had before.

“Please tell me when we breakout into songs and s'mores,” Sonya muttered.  

Adriana leaned into the “circle of trust” and tried her best with Evaanku, the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans.  “Are we really saying the people want constant conflict?”

Evaanku looked at Adriana; however, before she could respond Daanold jumped in.  “*WE* are not saying anything!” he thundered.

“You wouldn’t,” Puunce replied from across the way, the sole representative of the Dark Order.  Looking over at Adrianna he said, “Remember when you came to this planet, it was my team and I who met you.  We tried to greet you with open arms.”

“And this talk is held in a sewer?  Because that’s where you put them,” Anshaa pointed out, from her seat with the business faction.

“Aside from that earlier mishap,” Xana said loudly to draw attention to her and away from another argument, “is there any truth to what was said earlier, what has continued to be said?”  When she saw a circle of blank faces from around a large table she clarified, “Do the people not want peace?”

There were a series of murmurs, and uneasy looks, until finally Jerruun said, “It’s not a question of wanting peace.  It’s a question of what price.”  When the Bolian/Human gave him a look he said, “There are some prices too high for everyone.”

Shar’El appeared thoughtful for a moment.  “And Federation’s terms for peace are too high?” she asked quietly.  

Again there was silence before Evaanku nodded.  “It is.  For us.”

“I didn’t agree--” Daanold tried to step in.

“It’s too high,” Evaanku said, speaking over her father, not even bothering to look at him.

Recognizing that was the best answer they were going to get Adriana asked, “Why?  Help us understand.”

“There are too many conditions if we go with Federation’s plan,” Jerruun said.  When everyone looked at him he continued on, “Everyone says.”

Xana got up to pace (under the pretense of getting another glass of water and some food).  “What does that mean ‘Everyone says’?  Have you all asked the people?  Taken a referendum or poll?”

The Elasian people all looked at each other before Anshaa finally said. “Yes every group has taken a poll, or multiple.  I’ve seen them all but they all are consistent.  The Elasian people are distrustful of the conditions.”

“And what do the people say?” Adriana asked.  

“76% of the Elasians think that Federation is to blame and should go, 14% do not think so and 10% are undecided with a +/- 3% spread,” Anshaa answered.  Shrugging her shoulders, she said, “That's a good summary of the latest info.”

There was quiet in the room as the team absorbed that before Xana wiped her mouth from the muffin she had popped in her mouth.  “Numbers lie,” she finally declared.

“Excuse me?” Anshaa asked.

Daanold stood up and glared at the Ambassador.  “Our people don’t lie!”

“I didn’t say your people lied, I said *numbers* lied,” Xana pointed out.

Jerruun gave a haughty look of derision at the Ambassador.  “Well if this is Federation math then I really think we’re on the right path.  Numbers are clear cut and do not lie.”

“Numbers will seduce, entrance, and lie to you all the time to make you believe whatever it is you want,” the Bolian/Human woman stated.  “It may make you feel good one day, but I’m telling you by the next you regret it.”

Sonja leaned in.  “What numbers are you hanging out with?”  

Xana briefly opened up her mouth to answer the Engineer when a question came from the other side of the table.  “Prove it,” Evaanku said.  “Prove to me that our numbers, which you have not seen until now, are lying to all of us.”

“I need to move to think,” Xana murmured as she got up to pace.  “76/14/10 split with a plus/minus 3,” she muttered out loud.  Pacing back and forth she stopped for a moment when she got to the far end of the area and looked down at an officer’s shoes.  “Someone remind me again about your military.”

“We have a fine military,” Daanold pointed out.  “Best in the sector.”

“I don’t doubt it,” the Ambassador smiled.  “But I need numbers,” Xana said.  “Stats.”

For several minutes Daanold went through the military program for the Elasians, which included standard programs.  There was something about the way he described that sounded different than the Federation program that the Ambassador could not put her finger on.  

“Pardon me,” Shar’El asked.  “But your program if I recall, has conscription for all healthy adults once they reach the age of maturity.”

“Of course,” Daanold nodded.  Waving his hand he said, “We have exceptions for various health issues or religious factors but that is not many.”  Shrugging he said, “We’ve had this for generations.  After their period of service, they may leave but many stay.”

Ya’Han, who up until now was surveying the room, had clued into the conversation.  “Service based on conscription, or mainly conscription, do not historically last for long,” she pointed out softly.  “There would need to be another program in place for the people.”

“It works,” Daanold said.

Xana walked back to the table.  “It does work,” the Ambassador nodded.  Looking at Jerrun she said, “But if they are tired of it, they don’t know their options.  Almost always, people stay with what they know rather than leaping into the unknown.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Daanold said.  

“No, that’s preservation,” Adriana said softly.  Leaning in she continued on, “But we can help.  We can help educate on their options.  Let’s give people a real understanding of what they have before them.  If they still don’t like it, then they don’t.”

“I need to think on this,” Puunce said, who had been uncharacteristically quiet.  

Shar’El raised a hand and said, “That’s fine.  Let’s take a short break and reconvene.”  As the Elasians moved off to the side to discuss, the XO moved off to the side to seemingly check on something.

“We got the Elasians thinking about letting us talk to their people to present a plan,” Adriana smiled.

Xana smiled back.  “It’s a start.”  

Shar’El motioned for the others to come over and once the ANUBIS team rejoined them she said, “There’s been a development…”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P055: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34024.0715 ("False Forum")
=-=
"False Forum "
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Elegant Equation" by Sarah / (BAS) "Where To Start" by Dawn]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0715 (1520 local time)

"There's been a development..."

"Clearly you have not been in the same room as we have been," Sonja hissed in frustration. "There had not been the slightest development in that meeting since the start. Everything that has been said is nothing more than political posturing. They are all reminding me of just I hate politics and those who dwell in that field... no offense meant to either one of you, the redheaded engineer quickly added looking at Xana and Adriana. "You two may play politics from time to time, but I also know you both to be women of action when the time comes. These guys in there are just yapping for the sake of hearing each other talk."

"Sonja!" The ExO / ILO quietly yet forcefully snapped, ending her rant. "That is not the type of development I was referring to. The SPHINX was attacked, and we lost contact with the team. As of right now, we have no way to know what happened to them or the craft."

"How is that possible?!?" Sonja had gone from frustrated to outraged in only a few seconds. "The SPHINX was protected by its holographic camouflage system. Even if someone did manage to find it, there is no way they would have been able to damage it or gain access to it."

Shar'El shook her head, trying her best not to let her concerns and fears that the best of her. "I do not know what happened. All I know is that we lost contact with the SPHINX and before anyone steps forward volunteering to go and see what happened, let me remind you all that our first priority is to see these peace talks through. We can deal with the SPHINX after."

"Are you sure that is the wisest course of action?" Lopez asked, straddling her roles of Ship's Counselor and Junior Ambassador.

"Maybe, maybe not," the Commander admitted with visible reluctance. "This mission has been one surprise after another, and I am trying to avoid us having to deal with even more. Right now, I would prefer that we all remain in the same location instead of spreading our forces all over ELAS. It may not be the right call, but it is mine to make."

"Maya and Satella are able to take care of themselves," Ya'Han offered. "Plus, let us not forget that they have Rebecca and Grace with them. I am confident that the four of them will be able to handle whatever caused us to lose contact with them."

"Alright then," Xana began. "Since the decision has been made, let us return to the discussion at hand. The Commander may not like the political game currently being played, but as of right now it is the only game we have. Maybe we can prove you wrong and actually get them to reach an agreement."

"Do not hold fast to your false hopes for this forum of fakes as their fury against the Federation is forcing them to fabricate formidable fables meant to cause these talks to falter and fail," the Romulan Lujem said, not actually joining in on the conversation but simply walking by as if lost in his own thoughts. "The shadows have shrouded these talks by shaping these mindless and shameful echoes of their former shells.  You are part of a shamble meant to shatter the truth."

"What is he ranting about?" Sonja said, finding the Romulan to be too many power cells short to be of any useful help in these moments.

"I wish I could tell," the ExO / ILO admitted. "His memories are scrambled to such a point that I can only guess that his dealings with the Lokustaar have affected him more than we might have originally suspected."

"It is too bad that Satella is not here," Adriana added. "She might have been able to help him, even if only a little."

"Then let us make it our goal to get these peace talks completed so that we can find our people and make sure that Lujem gets the assistance he needs," Shar'El said, trying her best to motivate the others by having them focus on a single task. As the group moved out and returned to the makeshift deliberation chamber, the Commander gave the Romulan one last lengthy stare. As crazy as he might sound and act, there was something about the way he behaved that made her reluctant to simply dismiss his words and warnings. It was evident that he knew something, or at the very least believed he knew something that others did not, but trying to get to the bottom of what that particular *thing* was would likely be as much of a quest as getting these peace talks to move forward at a faster rate than they had been so far.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P056: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34024.0525 ("Gut Grinding")
-=-=-
"Gut Grinding"
[Previous post: (ANU) "False Forum" & (BAS) "Where To Start"]
-=-=-

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.0730 (1535 local time)

The Junior Ambassador stood back, allowing Xana to fully take control of this leg of the peace talks. Her experience and expertise would be tested to their fullest potential and in some way, Adriana rather liked the idea of simply observing the proceedings. So, she stood with her back against the wall, standing right next to their Chief of Security Lt. Ya'Han who was right next to the door making sure that no one came or left without being seen and intercepted.

"What do you think of Lujem?" the Counselor asked in a whispered tone. As a mental health professional, Adriana already had her own take on the Romulan but she wanted someone else's opinion and Ya'Han's perspective as Chief of Security could provide an interesting insight into the man and the way his actions and words were being perceived by others.

"He's crazy," she replied in the same soft-spoken tone used by Adriana. "I am not sure if he always was like that, but my guess is that being exiled from his own world messed him up quite a bit. Strangely enough, I can relate to that feeling. Add it whatever direct dealings he had with the Lokustaar and you can easily understand why he is the way he is now. Actually, I would also say that I am surprised that he is as lucid as he sometimes appears to be. Why? Do you believe that he may be crazier than he sounds?"

"Actually," Adriana said locking her gaze on the man in question, "I think it is the opposite. I think he understands things far more than we give him credit for granting him a much clearer view of the situation."

"So you are accepting all of his rambles about all of them being empty shells?" Ya'Han asked referring to the faction leaders.

The Counselor gently shook her head 'no'. "Lujem's mind is heavily troubled, making him see the world around him from a very unique perspective. None of us can take his words figuratively. His words reflect a meaning that only he fully understands, so we should not dismiss them because they make little to no sense to us. Lujem's referring to the faction leaders as empty shells could simply be his way of stating that they are not the same people they once were, having lost whatever it was that made them who he knew them to be at some point in his life."

"That sounds like something a crazy man would say," Ya'Han argued back, still keeping her voice to nothing more than a whisper.

"Think of it this way. Jayson's clone had us pretty much all fooled, but you knew that there was something different about the man, something that did not quite fit into the person you knew him to be. Had he real Jayson not been there, we might have considered you crazy for saying what you did about him. Your feelings and even your guts were telling you that something was not right. To the rest of us, it might have just sounded as if it was you who had changed or lost your perspective, the one that we all shared."

"Jayson was a completely different story," Ya'Han snapped in a tone of voice that proved to be much louder than anyone could have expected, interrupting the conversation that was taking place at the time. "Sorry," the Chief of Security added before walking out closely followed by the Ship's Counselor.

"Ya'Han, I sorry. It was not my intention to say something hurtful. It was just the first example that came to mind, an example that I should have known better than to say out loud," Adriana was beside herself with regret. As the Ship's Counselor, she of all people knew how much of a sore spot the entire subject of Jayson's clone was to her. The man had played with her emotions and love, and although her loyalties never changed, she found herself in a position that no one could envy. That the clone had sacrificed his existence to save her only made things that much more difficult for her to handle. After what had just been said, Lopez feared that whatever progress the Nylaan had managed to do on dealing with this had been completely erased.

"Thank you, Counselor," Ya'Han said through clenched teeth. "With all due respect though, I believe that your expertise as a Junior Ambassador are more required at this time than those of a Ship's Counselor."

Adriana understood that she had just been dismissed by the woman, but after the exchange they had just shared, the Counselor could hardly blame the Chief of Security for feeling the way she was. As Lopez returned to the room where Xana was talking with the faction leaders, her gaze fell upon the Romulan once again before she turned her attention on the people arguing. Without knowing them more than she did, it was impossible for the Junior Ambassador to know if they were different in any way from the people they had been before, but the idea stuck in the Counselor's mind, enough to make her own guts to start feeling queasy.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M15-P057: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34024.0930 ("Hesitations and Headaches")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Hesitations and Headaches"
[previous post were (ANU) "Gut Grinding" / (BAS) "Outsiders"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown building, Third floor
Stardate: 34024.0930 (1735 local time)

The Sec/Tac was getting increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress that was taking place. Each time the talks seemed to be finally taking a step in the right direction someone would say something to send it all back to the proverbial starting line. If Ya'Han didn't know better, she would have sworn that they were doing it on purpose, delaying these talks for as long as they could while they waited for something. Of course, this made no sense and only served to frustrate everyone present, include Ambassador Bonviva and her aid, Junior Ambassador Lopez.

The earlier mention of Jayson's clone made the Sec/Tac wish to be anywhere else but here. She needed to be busy, to be moving, to do something to take her mind off the thoughts that she could not shake away. Instead, she was stuck here, watching the Ambassadors going back and forth to no avail while the team left behind on the SPHINX remained out of contact.

Ya'Han had to agree that the four officers could take care of themselves. With her ability to shapeshift into various animals, Commander Maya would be able to escape most situations with ease. Sergeant Carter and Corporal O'Malley, thanks to their Marine training, could fight their way out of most situations, so the Sec/Tac had to again concede that they would be able to handle pretty much anything that came their way. The only one the Nylaan could find any real reasons to be concerned about was Satella Bruxa, but the Doctor was not alone in the SPHINX. If something had happened, the CMO would have been able to rely on the others to ensure her safety.

A strange banging noize coming from the ground floor brought the Sec/Tac's thought back to the here and now.

"Great!" Sonja exclaimed. "Maybe someone ordered some pizza? There is just so many of these *snacks* I can handle, especially without a large glass of wine to wash it all down."

"Maybe it is someone else, someone trying to interrupt these talks," the Commander said.

"Really," the CEO snarled. "These talks are already at a dead standstill, anything new would actually be an improvement." The comment made by Sonja drew the ire of both Xana and Adriana.

"The security detail on the ground floor would have taken care of things if it was any sort of a threat to these talks," Ya'Han said. "Just to be safe though, I could go down and check things out," the Sec/Tac said looking straight as the Commander hoping that she would agree to this allowing for the Nylaan to do more than just standing there waiting for something to happen.

With a nod of her head, Shar'El gave Ya'Han the go-ahead which she wasted no time in taking. The ship's Avatar followed either because she too had been bored or because Sonja had through some unseen or unheard fashion directed her to do so. Either way, the Sec/Tac would not complain as long as she got to do *something*.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown building, First floor
Stardate: 34024.0940 (1745 local time)

At first, Ya'Han and Ani had nonchalantly made their way down the stairs, that as until they reached the last flight and noticed that the security detail that should have been there was missing.

"I am not detecting any signs of a struggle," Ani reported. "They just seem to have left."

"That makes absolutely no sense," Ya'Han said in return, carefully stepping down the final few stairs trying to see if she could find any signs of the security detail or what might have happened to them. "The 'brute squad' is not a group that would have just walked away from any sort of trouble. Something else had to happen here."

"Maybe they stepped out to intercept whatever problem they saw heading this way," Ani said, trying to come up with a more acceptable theory to explain the vacant ground floor.

"Then why didn't they leave one person behind to inform us of what was happening?" the Sec/Tac said, not accepting the latest possible explanation. "None of this makes sense. Something happened, but what. You stay behind and keep a close watch on me. If something happens, go back and warn the others."

Ani believed that thanks to her skills, strength, and resources it would have been more prudent for her to be there with the Sec/Tac, but as the Ship's Avatar, she was programmed to obey orders which she did. From halfway up the first flight of stairs, the android watched Ya'Han ever so carefully make her way to the front entrance and open the door to see if she could find some sort of explanation for the absence of the security detail.

When nothing was discovered, Ya'Han turned her attention to the back entrance, still searching for any clues or indications that might explain why everyone had just vanished. Looking up at Ani just to make sure that the avatar was still there, the Sec/Tac pressed on and soon reached the back entrance which she opened with even more care and caution.

"Maya?!" Of all the people she could have seen, the Shillian Commander was certainly not anywhere on Ya'Han's list. "What are you doing here? We thought..."

Satella quickly came into view holding a single finger up to her lips indicating that they needed the Sec/Tac to be quiet. "Sorry about that, but we had to try and get someone's attention. I am just glad that it was you," the Doctor explained. As she looked around, Ya'Han saw the two Marines as well, this meant that the entire *missing* crew of the SPHINX was here. What she saw after took the Sec/Tac by complete surprise.  "That is part of the reason why we needed to get someone down here. Things are not as simple as they seem, not that they ever were simple to start with."

"What is going on?" Ya'Han asked, turning her attention to the next most senior officer, Lt. Commander Maya.

"We suspect that whatever is happening up there has been organized to delay your intervention in helping our world," Evaanku said, the daughter of the War Master Daanold moving forward to stand between the two Marines despite the fact that Ya'Han clearly recalled seeing her at the peace talks only a few minutes ago. "Since before the arrival of your diplomatic team, we have been struggling with replicants, copies of the faction leaders who have been trying very hard to undermine everyone and everything, at least that is what we believe. We are not completely certain why, but they seem to be bent on starting a war and making sure that the Federation is to blame for it. Beyond that, I cannot confirm who is real and who is not, but I can assure you of at least one thing, the Evaanku that is there with your diplomatic team now is not the real one."

The Sec/Tac gave both Maya and Satella a quick glance, both officers confirming this with a nod of their heads.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P058: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34024.0945 ("Inconceivable Imaginings")
=-=
"Inconceivable Imaginings"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Hesitations and Headaches" / (BAS) "Outsiders"]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, outside Unknown building, Back Door
Stardate: 34024.0945 (1750 local time)

The expression of unimaginable confusion on Ya'Han's face was priceless. The Nylaan had not expected to see any of them here, how could she have? None of them could have ever imagined how things came to unfold while on ELAS. The mission had gone 'off-tracks' from the moment it started. Every minute seemed to bring forth a new surprise, a new challenge for them to overcome. There was just no way for anyone to predict what would happen next. And maybe that was for the best. Had they known what they would have to deal with, some might not have accepted to go on this mission.

Focusing on something more pleasant, Satella smiled as she looked at Ya'Han.  The Doctor was happy to see that the surgical alterations had held nicely. The Nylaan looked visibly tired and frustrated. The CMO could only imagine the hell the others had gone through based on the most recent events. As shielded from everything as those on board the SPHINX were, they still managed to get dragged into this.

How the Elasians were able to find the camouflaged craft was unknown, but that no longer mattered. The knocking against the hull of the SPHINX had seemed as if they were under attack. Once they figured out that it was Evaanku trying to get their attention, things changed. She explained the situation; that replicants were impersonating the faction leaders. Maya quickly figured out that these replicants were Lokustaar clones. In order to avoid things from further unraveling, it was decided to implement a full communications blackout. They needed to hold onto whatever advantage they had, however small.

Thanks to Evaanku and members of her faction, the team made its way here safe and sound. Informing Ya'Han of the situation was just the first step. Now they needed to move on to phase two of their plan.

"How do you plan on unmasking the clones?" Satella could tell that Ya'Han was upset. Any dealing with clones brought back memories that she did not need to be dealing with at this time.

"Thanks to the research done by the Elasian Nationalist Puritans, we have a way to do this." The announcement made by Evaanku came across more like a boast than anything else. They had figured out something that the mighty Federation had not.

"The identification process locks in on specific Elasian enzyme," Maya explained. The CSciO was not willing to accept the Elasians trying to claim that the Federation was unable to do this. "For a yet to be determined reason, the process of creating a clone for this race is unable to produce that particular enzyme. Since we only did research on the one human clone we had access to, we never uncovered this flaw. I have not had the time to more thoroughly review the findings, but I believe that this flaw may be unique to clones for Elasians. At the very least, this will give us the opportunity to identify which of the faction leaders are real and those who are not."

"You make it sound easy," Ya'Han said, doing her best to keep her emotions in check.

Satella shook her head. "It is not. We need a blood sample of each of the faction leaders. we could try and program a medical tricorder to perform this, but it will take time."

"Time is something that we do not have," Evaanku said. "The replicants are doing everything they can to delay these talks. The only reason for this is because they are planning something. There are other factions fighting against them, but it is only a matter of time before they accomplish their goal. Time is on *their* side, so we need to act now."

"It is clear that the Lokustaar planned for this. From what we know of them, they do not rush in, using time to their advantage. The only way to beat them at this game is for us to act quickly." Maya paused as she looked at those standing by the back entrance to the building. "There are no guarantees that any of this will work. The only certainty we are faced with is that the longer we take, the more solid the Lokustaar's position on ELAS becomes."

"What do you suggest we do?" Ya'Han was convinced, but that was still far from being ready to act. "We can't just rush in and start slicing the faction leaders in order to get a blood sample.

"Maya may have a way to get this done without creating too much of a fuss. The problem is that we are going to need everyone in on this plan. So the real problem will be to inform the others without letting the faction leaders know what is happening." Satella said, not looking overly certain about any of this.

Maya nodded in meek agreement. "I will need the attention of the faction leaders to be completely on whatever is happening. This will allow me to go from person to person and retrieve a blood sample which will be passed on to Doctor Bruxa for analysis. Once all of the replicants, sorry clones, are identified, you and the Marines can move in." The Shillian was looking straight as Ya'Han as she said the last words.

"Again, you make it sound easy." The Nylaan was not convinced but they had few options available. "I know first-hand as to just how strong one of those clones can be. Even if there is only one in that room, we might not have enough people to win that fight."

"We might have something to help with that," Evaanku said with pride. "The scientists for the Elasian Nationalist Puritans have been hard at work. It has not been tested but we believe that it will destroy any replicant from the inside out." The Elasian woman held a small vial of liquid. The smile on her face hinted as to the potential of whatever was inside.

"We have to make sure that the target of that mixture is a clone," Maya quickly added. "The vial contains a high potent cellular destructive agent. One that would not be limited to killing clones."

"It was designed to kill any non-Elasian it is injected into," Evaanku said, her pride growing with each word spoken.

"The liquid forces cells not perfectly matching its design into apoptosis. The cells are forced into a type of suicide and send a chemical signal to all other nearby cells to do the same." Satella could feel her throat tighten as she explained this. "This causes an exponential death of the cells leading to the death of the person in mere minutes."

"Another of the Elasian's bio-engineered weapons?" Ya'Han sighed. "I thought those types of research had been stopped."

"We needed to find something in order to protect our people and the integrity of our race." Evaanku's defense was clearly rehearsed.

Dr. Bruxa leaned in closer to Ya'Han. Whispering her next few words. "We had to convince her not to use the vial's content on the entire room. As far as she is concerned, as long as the clones are killed, everyone else is acceptable collateral. She knows that the Federation is needed to restore peace on ELAS. She just wants to make sure that this peace is on *her* terms."

Ya'Han simply shook her head, finding it hard to believe the mentality of the Elasians. "One step at a time. First, we need to let Cmdr. Shar'El and the others know what needs to happen. After that, it will be up to Maya to get the blood samples. The doctor to figure out who is a clone using those samples. Anything beyond that will only matter if we make it that far."

"Now it's you that makes this sound easy." Satella knew that there was nothing easy about any of this. It just seemed to be the right thing to say, if only to lighten the mood. Needless to say, it did not.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P059: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34024.1000 ("Jaded Justice")
“Jaded Justice”
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Inconceivable Imaginings" / (BAS) "Another Story"]

=/\=
In archaeology you uncover the unknown. In diplomacy you cover the known.
-Thomas Pickering

=/\=
Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, inside Unknown building
Stardate: 34024.1000 (1805 local time)

“You want us to what?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Over our dead bodies; you just want our blood to perform some eugenics manipulations.”

Xana looked over at Commander Shar’El who was, as always, remarkably calm during these types of situations.  The XO was stood there in the face of the yelling Elasians and looked back as she waited for the situation to calm down; the only sign she was at all impacted was the slight raise of her dark eyebrows.  

The Bolian/Human Ambassador was not as calm. “What choice do you have?” she asked, raising her voice above the din.  As the voices began to wane she folded her arms across her chest and looked across the room, “Despite your protests, you *asked* for the Federation to come and help.  We are here.  Since we’ve come we have been attacked, multiple times.  We have held in abusive situations.  And we have been lied to about the veracity of your desire to have peace, the *entire* reason why we agreed to this mission.  Yet, we are still here attempting to assist.”  Pointing to Satella and Maya who were standing across the way, Xana gave an icy violet glare while tilting her head down, “Now, form a line in front of Dr. Bruxa and Commander Maya and submit to testing if you have any hope of turning around conditions on your planet.”

There was a strained period of silence, during which not a breath was exhaled, not even by Lujeum.  Finally, the members of the ‘Dark Order’ lined up, shocking the members of the ‘Elasian Nationalist Puritans’ who immediately rushed in to line as well.

Shar’El began walking away from the crowd, still keeping her sharp eyes on them, and the Ambassador followed suit.  “Why do I have the feeling you’ve used that type of speech before?”

The Ambassador didn’t meet the XO’s eyes.  “I may have.  It’s remarkably effective on relacitrant teenagers and moody world leaders,” she smiled gently.  

The XO shook her head, almost amused at the surreal turns that took place when talking with the Ambassador.  “Teenagers?”

“You’ve never chaperoned a class trip I take it,” Xana replied with a grin.  Both women watched the lines form; it was clear that while their conversation was light they were both on edge.  Pausing for a moment the Ambassador asked quietly, “What do you think of this situation?  I don’t doubt the test.  I’m wondering about what comes next.”

Shar’El paused for a moment.  The Ambassador’s question was deceptively simple and yet the layers beneath it hinted that the Bolian/Human was not quite comfortable.  “What do you think?” Shar’El parried back.

Before Xana could say something a member of the Expansionists, who had been meandering towards the line, yelled “FOR ELAS!” and went running for the door.  Everyone in the room just about turned around to watch the action as Ya’Han went running after him.  Just as the Expansionist was mere steps to the door, Ya’Han caught up to him, grabbed his arms, secured him, and brought him up front for testing; although at this point there was an undercurrent in the room that this runner was probably a clone.

Shar’El noticed that during all this, Xana had taken off one of her red shoes and had been holding it in her hand as if to throw it but waited to see if Ya’Han was ok as she caught the Expansionist.  When Ya’Han was indeed ok, Xana dropped the shoe back on the floor with a “klunk” sound.  Glancing at the shoe, it appeared to be what Terrans called a “red ballet slipper” and not something that should have made a “klunk” sound, indicating there was something in the ballet slipper making it heavier than it appeared.  The XO wondered what was hidden in that shoe that made that sound and had the Ambassador holding it like she was going to use it like a throwing weapon.

Looking back over at the Ambassador, the XO asked again, “What do you think?”

“I am always advocating peace,” Xana said as she slid her foot back into her shoe.  “But peace is like any relationship. People have to work for it, they have to want it.  We’re going to be leaving soon, and ...I'm not sure I see people here wanting and working for it.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P060: USS ANUBIS: Shar'El: 34024.1000 ("Killer Knockout Kiss")
=-=
"Killer Knockout Kitten"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Jaded Justice" by Sarah / (BAS) "Another Story" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown Building
Stardate: 34024.1000 (1805 local time)
(The first parts are simultaneous with Sarah's post)

Xana looked over at Shar'El just as the ExO / ILO was thinking back to how this latest burst of political mayhem came to be.

As soon as she returned to the uppermost level, the Nylaan had locked eyes with the Ullian and thought back to seeing Satella, Maya, the two Marines. Most importantly, the memories focused on Evaanku and her report of the clone infiltration as well as their plan to unmask these Lokustaar fabrications.  Judging by the expression that quickly took over the face of the ExO/ILO, the message had been relayed loud and clear. This was also why the expression had reverted to a more passive and controlled one, the same expression that was currently on the woman's face as the Ambassador glanced in her direction.

The initial plan had been to have Maya, in one of her smaller animal forms, travel from one faction leader to the next and retrieve the blood samples without, hopefully drawing any unwanted attention. Unfortunately, like so many other carefully considered and prepared plans, that one was met with an early demise forcing the Federation Officers to come up with an alternative in less than a single split second. Luckily for them, the Bolian/Terran Ambassador was quick-witted and wasted no time to put something into motion. The ExO / ILO might have liked things to be a little less dramatic, but in the end, it would the results that counted, in this particular case the identification of the Lokustaar clone or clones within the ranks of the faction delegates.

The first test, this one somewhat less intrusive, was to bring Maya and Satella out for them to see. By doing this the ExO / ILO had hoped to trigger a reaction from one or more of the faction leaders, identifying them as being responsible for some of the hardships they had faced since before their arrival. That plan too failed as not a single of the delegates remotely reacted to the unexpected appearance of the two Starfleet Officers, neither one of them hidden behind any sort of Elasian mask.

“Why do I have the feeling you’ve used that type of speech before?”  Shar'El said as she walked away referring to the speech Xana had just given. What followed was a quick exchange between the two women which ended when the Ambassador inquired as to what would happen *after* the results of the blood tests were revealed.  The uneasy silence that followed was quickly interrupted by one of the Elasians making a run for it as he screamed out his pride for his world. Like the most recent plans born before it that one too met an untimely demise thanks to the rapid intervention of the Chief of Security. A quick blood test of the still struggling Elansian proved him to be nothing more than a troubled man clinging to some extremist ideas as to the future of his people.

The ExO / ILO actually allowed a faint smile to appear as she found comfort in seeing that Ya'Han was in full form, the smile turning into a moe puzzled look when the Commander saw the Ambassador holding up one red shoe in her hand as if branding some powerful blunt weapon.  Another quick exchange between the two women followed, Xana reminding Shar'El of the personal commitments people need to have in the achievement of peace.

With the faction delegates mostly in line to provide Doctor Bruxa with a sample of their blood to be analyzed by Commander Maya, the ExO / ILO debated as to when it would be a good time to reveal their proverbial 'ace in the hole'. This entire process was meant for them to identify who was a clone, but thanks to the War Master's daughter waiting out in the hallway just out of sight, the team already knew the identity of one such replicant.

One by one, the Elansians presented themselves, reluctantly presenting their arms and sometimes grumbling their displeasure at this affront to their claim of who they were. In an effort to appease them, the blood samples were tested right there in front of everyone before being properly disposed of, thus laying to rest any fears of the Federation conducting any sort of genetic tests on the blood beyond the one they had agreed to.

Everyone watched as tests were called out negative allowed for the Elasian standing at the front of the line to return to their seat. Tensions quickly rose as the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans stood only one away from having her blood tested.

"We got one!" Maya exclaimed surprising everyone as the expected announcement came one blood test too early.  The clone took a moment to look around meeting the stunned gazes of most before knocking the Doctor clean off her feet and making a mad dash towards one of the windows.  In what felt like a single blink of an eye, the Elasian had knocked several others down as he flew across the room before crashing through the glass panel.  Many half-expected to see the Elasian fly as he began to vanish from sight but all they saw was the darkening evening skies followed by a rather unpleasant sounding wet crash.

Ya'Han was the first to reach the window, looking over the edge only for a brief moment before coming back inside. "He's dead," she announced wide-eyed. "As strong as the Lokustaar clones may be, there is no walking away from that. His remains are going to have to be washed off the streets."

"It would seem that you have found your replicant," Evaanku said as she returned to her feet, the clone having knocked her down as he rushed passed her to avoid capture. "Maybe it would be best for us all to take this opportunity for a recess. I know for one I could use some fresh air to regain my wits following what just happened."

"I would prefer if you all stayed here," the Commander stated suspecting that this was nothing more than a diversion to allow the clone of Evaanku to escape detection and capture. The words were barely fresh out from her lips when Shar'El found herself on the receiving end of several other delegates pointing out that they were here on their own volition and therefore could come and go as they pleased. Some went on to point out that the Federation had no power here and that it was not her place to make any sort of requests of them.

Quickly stepped back, the ExO / ILO glanced over to Ambassador Bonviva hoping that she would be able to step in before this situation went completely out of hand. Xana cleared her throat in order to draw some attention to her before starting. "Ladies and gentlemen, I understand that what just happened may have upset some of you, but please understand that you are all here doing this for the betterment of your people and world. Our task of finding these traitors to your goal for peace may still be amongst you. I, therefore, ask for you all to remain here and allow us to continue with the blood tests until everyone has been checked."

"I am the leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans and the daughter of the War Master Daanold," the clone of Evaanku unleashed with force and authority. "If I want to step out and get some fresh hair, who is going to stop me?"

"*I* am!" The voice that came from around the doorway matched the force and authority used before with pristine perfection.  As the woman stepped into view, she added. "I am the true leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans and the daughter of the War Master Daanold. You are nothing more than a fake, a flawed copy, a mass of biomatter that I will personally cast out that window so that you can join with your spineless traitorous compatriot."

Before anyone could react to what had just happened, the two Evaanku leaped at one another, knocking anything and anyone that found themselves in their path. By the time the dust began to settle, one Elansian woman was laying on her back mortally wounded while the other made her way down the stairs at an inhuman speed.

"If she escapes, we can kiss peace on this world goodbye," the ExO / ILO said hoping that someone, anyone would be able to do something at this point.  Satella rushed to the wounded woman's side to hopefully save her life, so there was nothing she could do to stop the other, Ya'Han was still on the other side of the room and despite her great skills and speed, there was no way for her to make up the distance already separating them. Sonja and Ani made it clear by their expressions that it was better for them to remain here and make sure that all heel did not in fact break loose. With the two Marines found on the other side of the door, knocked to the ground by the escaping clone, the only one left able to remotely do anything about this was Maya who grabbed one of the hyposprays from Doctor Bruxa's opened kit before jumping down the stairs as if skydiving.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET
M15-P061: USS ANUBIS: Maya: 34024.1020 ("Leaping Ladies")
---
"Leaping Ladies"
(Previous Posts: (ANU) "Killer Knockout Kiss" / (BAS) "Another Story")
---

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown building, Staircase
Stardate: 34024.1020

She was in a three-story-high building with a rough estimate of 2.5 meters per level. This meant that the Chief Science Officer was likely going to be traveling just over 6 meters from the point where she jumped into the stairway until she abruptly came in contact with the all so rapidly approaching floor. Even considering a delay in reaching terminal velocity, Maya would still hit the ground in only a couple of seconds at best. Based on the report made by Ya'Han earlier as to the state of the clone after his jump out of the window, the Shillian knew that she had little time to waste if any. Falls from this height could prove highly unforgiving on ELAS.

With the hypospray firmly in her hand, Maya reached out for one of the bars wooshing past her during the rapid descent. The only thing that ended up hitting the ground though was a set of clothes followed by a small primate, its prehensile tail allowing it to easily swing over what would have been the impact zone to instead follow the escaped clone out of the building.

It took no time for the monkey to send the hypospray it was carrying in its small paw to instead be held by the much more agile and flexible tail. This had the added advantage of freeing up her hands to better grasp things as the Trusa bounced from one ledge to the next.

The clone was fast, faster than most runners would have been; there was no denying that but as great as her running speed was, the small monkey proved just as quick allowing it to follow the mad dashing clone. Maya could not gain any ground on the woman by sheer speed, so the transformed Shillian had to take advantage of everything the encountered. Each time Evaanku ran into someone or had to jump sideways to avoid something, the monkey gained that little much on her. Clinging to nearby buildings as they turned corners was another way for Maya to ever so slightly reduce the distance between them. This was a strange game of cat and mouse, where the cat was a primate from a long-gone world and the mouse was a copy of a very important and prominent person on this planet.  The sight for those who might have actually caught a glimpse of this speedy chase would have most likely been one of the strangest things they had ever seen.

With all of the running and jumping, Maya took great care to make certain that the hypospray held by her tail remained intact. The injection was prepared by Doctor Bruxa in case a discovered clone tried to fight its way free. Using the knowledge they had gained from the encounter with the clone of the Chief of Operations, the content had been specifically prepared to disable a being of similar strength, skill, and speed. As no tests on a clone could be conducted prior, this would double as such, that was of course if the small primate could catch up to its rapidly moving target.

The knowledge the clone possessed on the layout of the streets only made the job of the transformed Chief Science Officer that much more difficult. There were times when Maya wondered why she was continuing this pursuit, not seeing the ground gained so far as being any real indication that she would ever be able to catch up to the woman. This all changed when Evaanku came to a sudden and complete stop. Something ahead had brought her to a complete standstill and the Shillian could not afford the time to investigate the cause for fear that she might lose the one opportunity she had just been given.

With one mighty leap, the monkey landed on one of the shoulders before the tail swung to press the hypospray against the neck. Fearing that the clone might retaliate, Maya quickly jumped off landing on a nearby ledge, noticing for the first time why Evaanku had so suddenly stopped in her tracks. Standing in front of her was a large number of troops and mobile artillery, all displaying the insignia of the Elasian military.

From where she sat, the transformed Shillian could see the growing struggle of the clone as she tried to stay standing eventually falling onto one knee. The sedative was working and it would not take much for the military to take custody of the fake Evaanku, or at least that was what Maya believed. To her surprise and horror, the troops opened fire turning the weakened woman into a pile of charred remains.

This was not the end she had expected or even hoped for, but the Chief Science Officer felt no sadness in the demise of the Lokustaar clone. What did draw her concerns was the way those same troops turned their attention up at her location as if preparing to unleash the same kind of firepower against her. Instead, after a few eternal seconds, they lowered their weapons and withdrew allowing for the small primate to make its way back on its own, unchallenged and unbothered.

---
Jessica Solarik

Lieutenant Commander Maya [Access Character BIO for Maya]
Chief Science Officer
USS ANUBIS

&

Captain Selene Fiona Iverson [Access Character BIO for Selene Iverson]
Commanding Officer
USS BASTET

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M15-P062: USS ANUBIS: Bruxa: 34024.1030 ("Medical Misery")
=-=
"Medical Misery"
[the previous posts were (ANU) "Leaping Ladies" / (BAS) "Houdini Switch"]
=-=

Setting: ELAS, City of Poljah, Unknown building, 3rd floor
Stardate: 34024.1030 (1835 local time)

Evaanku lay motionless on the floor in a pool of her own blood.  The leader of the Elasian Nationalist Puritans, like everyone else in the room, was taken off-guard by the replicant's speed. Satella rushed to her side and tried everything she could. The CMO needed to stabilize the woman's condition and quickly. Vitals signs were dropping at an alarming rate and it soon became evident that the physician was powerless to change the woman's fate.  The daughter of the War Master Daanold would be dead in the next few seconds.

This was not the first time Bruxa faced the death of a patient. Such a possibility was part of the job of a Starfleet Doctor. Sometimes this inevitability was the result of a lack of time and equipment. Seeing the extent of the injuries suffered by Evaanku, neither would have allowed her to be saved. The replicant knew exactly where to strike and did so with deadly efficiency. The moment the attack was completed, the victim was dead, even if she had not yet collapsed to the ground.

Despite that knowledge, Satella frantically labored on the woman's form. Maybe Dr. Bruxa had missed something about Elasian physiology. Maybe there was some redundant organ that would kick in and allow her to live. The CMO continued her efforts to restart the heart of the faction leader until she felt someone pulling her away. The gesture was gentle and polite. It was not meant to point out the futility of her efforts, but rather to acknowledge that nothing more could be done. Evaanku was dead.

"You did everything you could." Satella recognized Adriana's voice. The CMO was not certain if the words were spoken as a CNS of Junior Ambassador. In the end though it didn't matter. The Elasian woman was dead, surrounded by a pool of crimson liquid.

It was Ambassador Bonviva who came into her field of vision. Xana spread a cloak of some sort over the woman's body. Right now, this was the only way to deal with the situation.

"You will all pay for this." The angered words of the War Master filled everyone with dreed. The man was not known for making idle threats. Even if they would be able to reason with the high-ranking military man, it was unlikely that the father would listen. His grief was unparalleled and nothing anyone could say or do would change this. "There will be no peace as long as the Federation is here on ELAS."

"It was not their fault War Master." The 44 years old Elasian man tried to reason with the grief stricken father. Despite his position as leader of the Expansionists, Jeruun had to try. The future of their world could very well rest on the shoulders of a single man. A man who had just witnessed his one and only daughter murdered mere moments ago.

"I DON'T CARE!" The man's thundering voice was accompanied by a fist that destroyed the table that was in front of him. If given the slightest chance he would carry out the threat himself, and with his bare hands.

Ya'han stood at the ready for a fight. The Nylaan knew no fear and she understood that reasoning with the man was not an option at this point. Maybe once his rage subsided someone might be able to reach him. For now though, the only language he was ready to hear was that of conflicts and war.

"Sorrow is not something sensed by the Shadows. Sinister subterfuges meant to supress any semblance of serenity is their ultimate score. "The Romulan was visibly certain of what he was trying to say. All that was required would be for the others to understand what he was actually talking about. "Sadness can only be seen by the soul. Those soulless shades are simply simulating this sensation to snare you all into silencing your struggle. Do not surrender to these Shadows for they will see you all slay one another."

The Rambling of the Romulan was more than Daanold's rage could take. With a simple swing of his hand, the War Master sent the man flying through their air.  A single second later Lujem landed with a bone crushing thud. The impact was so powerful and the sound so loud that the CMO knew immediately what had happened. No medical instruments were required to know that the man's back had been broken. Satella quickly rushed to the side of the Romulan who simply smiled back at the CMO. As he slipped into eternal rest, the Doctor felt something in her hand. She gazed down at the small blood stained blade as she stood up once again.

"I already feel better now that the annoying Romulan is gone. I know that I will feel even better once the rest of you join him."

Xana move to stand directly in front of the War Master. Physically she was no match for him, but maybe she could reason with him. He was not the first muscle-bound brute she needed to face. If fate was on her side, it would not be the last one either.  While the Ambassador desperately tried to talk to the War Master, Bruxa followed a hunch. A quick test of the man's blood confirmed her suspicions.

Satella turned to face the others, holding the result of the test. "He is not the real War Master Daanold. He is just another clone, a replicant."

That was all that the others needed to convince them of what to do next. As strong as the clone might be, he would not be able to fight them all and win. The battle raged on for several minutes, Elasian and Federation Officers fighting side by side against a common adversary. The fight came to an unexpected end when a weapon was fired, disintegrating the replicant.  All eyes turned to the doorway to see Maya and the real War Master behind her.

Satella moved towards the man, his weapon still pointing to where his copy had been. "I am truly sorry for your loss." The Doctor glanced at the form beneath the cloak. "It was her replicant that did this to her."

"I know," he growled, holstering back his weapon.

"It was thanks to the Federation that we were able to identify these replicants." Jeruun thought it wise to involve their guests and show them in a more positive light. It was very possible that the real War Master would follow in the clone's mentality.

"I know," he growled again, looking at the Shillian as he walked passed her.  "I will take care of my daughter. As her father it is my responsibility and duty. In the meantime, my troops will escort you to the nearest secured location. When I return, we will sit down and talk about peace. These replicants have done enough damage on ELAS. This ends today."

Everyone watched as Daanold knelt and took the lifeless form of his daughter into his arms. No one said anything as he walked away. The Ambassador followed, keeping a respectful distance but her Junior Ambassador was unable to follow. Satella had taken hold of her friend's arm as she walked by. "What about Lujem?"

Adriana nodded her head and looked back at Sonja and Ani. "We will take him back to the SPHINX. Once things are settled here, we can give him the final rest he deserves."

Satella smiled as that was all she could do. Peace would come to ELAS thanks to the sacrifices of an Elasian and Romulan.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Lieutenant JG Satella Bruxa [Access Character BIO for Satella Bruxa]
Chief Medical Officer
USS ANUBIS

[Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint. - Mark Twain]
M15-P063: USS ANUBIS: Morningstar: 34024.1330 ("Needs of Necessity")
##########
"Needs of Necessity"
Previous posts (ANU) "Medical Misery" / (BAS) "Houdini Switch"
##########

"Everyone who is successful must have dreamed of something."
- Maricopa

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34024.1330

"Captain," Lt. Stark called out from the Operations Station. "We are receiving a communication signal from Commander Shar'El.

"This can't be good," the Native American noted to himself. The mission to ELAS lead by the Commander was meant to be a covert operation so it was not a good sign to have her contact them this way.  "On the main viewer," the Captain ordered.

[/\] Greetings Captain, [/\] Shar'El said as soon as her likeness appeared on the bridge's forward screen.

"Am I to gather that the mission has taken a turn for the worse?" Erik inquired.

[/\] We definitively have gone through 'a turn', but strangely enough I believe that things are actually going to be getting better from this point on, [/\] Shar'El reported. [/\] It has been discovered that several clones were on ELAS, some impersonating faction leaders. This would explain why Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez had such a hard time getting the peace talks started. It would seem that the Lokustaar had planned for one contingency after another, each one trying to make sure that the federation was to blame for whatever conflict erupted here on ELAS. [/\]

"What changed?" The Native American asked, curious to see if the ANUBIS would be required to fly in and rescue the members of the crew.

[/\] In a nutshell, a great many things. I will have a more detailed report heading your way soon, but I thought you would like to know that we are all safe and sound. Ambassador Bonviva is assisting War master Daanold with the funeral preparations for his daughter Evaanku while the rest of us are comfortable and waiting in guest quarters. [/\]

"I am looking forward to reading your report, Commander," Morningstar said while being visibly stunned by the news of the passing of the War Master's daughter. "If there is anything we can do to assist, let us know."

[/\] Right now the Lokustaar plans seem to have been effectively derailed,[/\] Shar'El offered. [/\] The only issue we still have to deal with in that regard is finding the Lokustaar who orchestrated this whole thing. We had a first-hand account of a member of the Shadow being here. [/\]

"That is not good news," the Native American said, his concerns quickly mounting.

[/\] Under normal circumstances I would have to agree, but the Elasian are now fully aware of the presence of the Lokustaar and their clones on their world and they are taking every measure possible to end that threat. Part of these measures does appear to genuinely move forward with the peace talks, that is as soon as the faction leaders are in the right mindset to do so. Right now, feelings are running just a little too high for that. [/\]

"Understood," Erik nodded. "Keep us informed of your progress. ANUBIS out."

As soon as the communication channel was closed, Jayson spoke. "Captain, if there is an actual Lokustaar on ELAS, maybe we should move in and offer assistance."

"I would tend to agree with you Lieutenant, but the Elasians are a proud people, which is part of the reason why they are in the situation they are in at the moment. Right now, the safest course of action for us is to continue as we were. I am sure that Commander Shar'El, with the help of Ya'Han, Maya and Sonja, will be able to handle things on her end. The ANUBIS forcing its way into the orbit of ELAS might just make a bad situation worse, so we wait.

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 34028.1100

The Native American had just finished reading the latest report from his First Officer. The funeral arrangements for the War Master's daughter were complete and the state funerals would take place the following day. What truly surprised the Captain was the fact that Daanold personally invited the ANUBIS and its commanding officer to come. As unexpected as the offer was, Morningstar was not about to turn down this opportunity to be closer to his people. Also, he suspected that if he did refuse, Ambassador Bonviva would not let him live the decision down.

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34029.0825

"The ANUBIS is in standard orbit of ELAS," Stark reported. "None of the Elasian Battle Cruisers in orbit seem to be paying any attention to us."

"Still expecting them to open fire on us?" Erik chuckled, but the truth was that the Native American was not entirely convinced that the fears of his Chief of Operations were not entirely unfounded.

"Captain, we are receiving a communication signal from the planet. It's War Master Daanold," Jayson could not fully hide his misgivings from his voice as he spoke.

"On screen, Lieutenant."

[/\] Welcome to ELAS Captain Morningstar. Thank you for accepting my invitation. [/\]

"War Master Daanold, please accept our deepest and most profound condolences for your loss," Erik said. The Native American would have liked this meeting to have occurred under better circumstances, but there was little either one of them could do to change things at this time. At least they were speaking to each other instead of firing at one another.

The Elasian General bowed his head in thanks for the offered sentiments. "Your crew is waiting for your arrival Captain. We will see you shortly, Daanold out."

"Not the talkative sort is he?" Jayson noted aloud.

"We cannot look upon him as a War Master," the Native American offered. 'Right now, he is a grieving father who is about to say his final goodbyes to his daughter. That is something that will change a person in ways that none of us can fully understand, and in some ways, I hope that we never have to."

=====
Setting:  ELAS, Hall of Assembly
Stardate: 34030.1800

It was customary for Elasians of higher social status to be laid to rest as sunset, and Evaanku most certainly fit the bill. The Hall of Assembly was filled beyond capacity, every seat taken and every spare space occupied by someone who had come to pay their final respects to the War Master's daughter. The crew of the ANUBIS had been granted front-row seats as guests of honour, a consideration that Erik was still struggling to fully understand.

"Have you had the chance to read my latest report?" Shar'El asked in a barely audible whispered voice to the man sitting right next to her.

"No," the Captain admitted. "Since my arrival onto ELAS I have not had a single moment's rest. I have been intercepted by every faction leader there is, each one thanking me for everything that you and the rest of the away team have done for them."

"There is still one last thing for us to do though," Shar'El sighed. "We have yet to locate the Lokustaar who created this mess in the first place."

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 34037.1300

The Native American sat at his desk, stacks of PADDs resting in front of him, each device containing reports on the status of things on the planet ELAS.

"Captain Log, supplemental. It has been a week since the state funeral of Evaanku. Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez have voiced their confidence in the outcome of the negotiations that are set to restart tomorrow. Both are in agreement that the process will not be an easy one, but it does seem that every party involved is committed to making this peace treaty become reality.  Commander Shar'El and Lieutenant Ya'Han have remained on the planet surface continuing their efforts to locate the Lokustaar. As of their latest report, no other clones, or replicants as the Elasians refer to them, have been identified.  It is my hope that both of these matters will be dealt with quickly so that the ship and its crew can return home."

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 34038.1600

"How can I be of assistance Ambassador?" The Native American asked following a call from Xana.

=/\= I only called to let you know that the peace negotiations have officially restarted. The faction leaders are all here, in a completely secluded building. Everyone agreed that due to the importance of these talks, none of us will be permitted to leave until a final agreement is reached. =/\=

"Sounds like you have been put in some sort of jail," Erik pointed out sounding a little concerned.

=/\= There is no need to be concerned Captain, =/\= Xana reassured. =/\= If this is a jail, I will be booking my next incarceration here. We are being treated like royalty with every possible comfort with only a few exceptions, namely no visual communication in or out. This was done to avoid delegates from being distracted from our ultimate goal -- to see this peace treaty finalized. =/\=

"Good luck," Morningstar said with a smile.

=/\= Thank you Captain, I am not sure if luck is what we will be in need of, but the sentiment is greatly appreciated. =/\=

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34039.0600

The Captain stepped onto the command deck to find his Chief of Security at her station. "Lieutenant Ya'Han, glad to see you back at your post."

"Sorry Captain, but I am not here for long. Commander Shar'El requested that I return to the ANUBIS to synchronize our tactical systems with those of the planetary defense net. We believe that we might have a lock on the Lokustaar's position.  We are dispatching a group of Marines to join forces with the Elasian military. The operation is to take place shortly, so I need to get this ready and return to the planet surface, with your permission of course captain."

Erik chuckled. It was evident that Shar'El had things under control as far as cornering the Lokustaar, and as much as he might have wanted to get involved he knew better than to interfere. "Good hunting Lieutenant."

Ya'Han smiled and rushed off the bridge leaving the captain to wonder if the Chief of Operations had been aware of the Chief of Security's presence on board the ANUBIS.

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 34052.0900

Ambassador Bonviva and Junior Ambassador Lopez sat on opposite sides of the table, the Captain sitting at the end looking at them both.  "So what happened during these last two weeks?"

"Everyone agreed to take a break," Adriana said rubbing the back of her neck.

"The factions have been very cooperative in their efforts," Xana added. "Unfortunately they are not being as cooperative when it comes to giving concessions to the other side. I am afraid that the peace talks are going to take a lot longer than I had initially anticipated."

"Well, at least you are out of there now," Erik grinned.

"For two days," the Junior Ambassador said. "If it is all right with you Captain, I would like to take the opportunity to not be confined to four walls. As beautiful as the negotiation chambers are, and the quarters we were assigned to are, I would like to be able to stretch my legs and look upon a horizon or something other than a flat surface."

"Of course," Erik said. "In fact, I might even join you. Following your daily reports, there is one location that I would like to personally visit."

"Tomorrow, please," Xana begged. "I would like to spend at least one day doing nothing. My brain feels like it has gone through a pin-hole sized quantum rift a few hundred times."

=====
Setting:  ELAS, Fields of Heroes
Stardate: 34053.1000

With Junior Ambassador Lopez by his side, the Native American made his way to the monument created in honour of Evaanku.

"Quite impressive," Erik noted as he looked upon the larger than life recreation of the Elasian woman. "I am also quite impressed that her death did not lead to an increase in her faction's beliefs of isolation."

"It did," Adriana said. "At least for a short period of time. War Master Daanold had to remind them that it was thanks to the intervention of outsiders that the threat of the Lokustaar was stopped. There is still a lot of apprehension towards the Federation and non-Elasians, but Xana is working hard at shifting mentalities away from that."

"I am sure that the two of you will manage to bring peace to this world, one way or another."

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Captain Ready Room
Stardate: 34054.0800

The sound of the door chime made the Native American look up at the door to his Ready Room. "Enter."

The Chief Engineer followed by the Chief Medical Officer walked in, both women appearing to be on a single-minded quest. "Captain," Sonja began, "we need to talk to you about Lujem. The man was instrumental in getting us where we are today with the Elasians, and yet his death is being completely ignored by the planet's inhabitants. I would like to remedy this."

"What did you have in mind Commander?" Erik asked knowing all too well that the engineer would have told him even if he had not asked.

"You saw the monument for Evaanku in the Elasian Fields of Heroes," Satella said. "We would like to do something similar."

"There is no way the Elasians would allow a statue, no matter how small, of a non-native to be placed in the Fields of Heroes," Erik pointed out. "Please tell me that you have not already done this. News of such a monument could undo everything Xana and Adriana have been able to achieve thus far."

"No," Sonja said reassuringly. "We found a little spot out in the wilderness. It would not be much but it would be something that acknowledges what he did for all of us."

"I believe he would have liked the area as well," Satella added. "All we want to do is to put a small plaque in his memory. The man has no home for his body to be returned to, so it only makes sense that he is laid to rest on ELAS."

"I will contact Ambassador Bonviva and see if she can get the authorization to do this," the Native American said. "In the meantime, do not proceed with this idea of yours. Understood?"

"Yes, Captain," the two women replied in unison.

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Transporter Room 1
Stardate: 34075.0830

"Welcome back," Erik said as the Ambassador and Junior Ambassador materialized onto the transporter platform. "I can only imagine that you are happy to be back after the lastest three-week session of talks.

The two women mumbled to themselves quietly as they stepped down. "Here," Xana said slapping a data chip into the Captain's hand before making her way out of the room.

"We are both exceptionally tired, Captain," Adriana explained. "The data chip contains the authorization for the memorial plaque you requested."

"Splendid," Erik said with a beaming smile. "Sonja and Satella will be very happy to hear this. I hope that it was not too complicated to obtain this."

"Complicated?" the Junior Ambassador shrugging her shoulders. "Guess it all depends on whether or not you believe that the Ambassador having to give up an entire case of her favorite wine was a complicated transaction."

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, IGC
Stardate: 34076.1630

The Elasians had authorized only a specific number of Federation personnel to be on the planet's surface, hence why Commander Shar'El had been there instead of here in the IGC. With all of the time and work involved in their search, the First Officer wanted to be there when they would apprehend the missing Lokustaar.

Erik watched as multiple groups surrounded one particular location, blocking any and all escape routes.

=/\= Move it... NOW! =/\=

The coordinated efforts between the Federation Officers, Marines and Elasian military appeared to proceed perfectly and the Native American was certain that this would be the end of this part of their mission.

=/\= WHAT! HOW? =/\= Shar'El sounded as angered as she was disappointed. The Lokustaar had escaped once again.

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Captain Ready Room
Stardate: 34077.0545

[/\] Good Morning Captain Morningstar, [/\] the Admiral said. [/\] It is the morning where you are right? [/\]

"Yes Admiral," Erik sighed. "To what do I owe this call?"

[/\] I read Shar'El's latest report on the failed capture of the Lokustaar. I just wanted to make it clear that you and the ANUBIS are to remain in orbit of ELAS until the Lokustaar is found, dead or alive. Their fleet is on the run and i want the one you have cornered to stay there and not get the chance to regroup with its kind. As long as the ANUBIS is in orbit, the Lokustaar are not likely to try and send a ship to rescue it. So, until further orders, you are to stay there. Koniki out. [/\]

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Transporter Room 1
Stardate: 34098.0830

The Native American stood in front of the transporter platform as only one beam appeared. As soon as the form of the Junior Ambassador materialized, Erik stepped forth. "Where is the Ambassador?"

"Xana requested to be beamed directly to her quarters," Adriana explained. "The last three weeks have been quite grueling. That said though, we are making progress. It is taking time, but we are making progress. I believe that another two or three weeks will be enough to finalize the treaty.

"I hope so," Erik noted. "I am starting to worry about Xana. It is not like her to be like this."

"She will be fine, Captain," the Junior Ambassador said. "Just give her time."

=====
Setting:  ELAS, Wilderness some 20 kilometers from the nearest city
Stardate: 34099.1400

Sonja and Satella had requested for the Captain to see what they had done. It was not much but it would have to do.  As they arrived by a small pond, the redhead engineer removed the coverings to reveal a small stone-made monument with a plaque affixed to it.

Satella knelt down and gently ran her fingers over the inscription written in Romulan as she read it. "The sacrifice of one's self is not something to be stated with sadness or even sweet sorrow, Instead, see it with serene satisfaction in the savoir that this spirit did so in sympathy of fellow sentient souls."

Erik appeared puzzled by the words spoken by the Chief Medical Officer, and yet both she and Sonja smiled hinting that the inscription meant more than just the words engraved upon it.

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Transporter Room 1
Stardate: 34128.0830

Erik watched as once again only one transporter beam activated following the latest four-week negotiation session. This time, even Adriana appeared emotionally drained as she stepped off the platform.

"Rough four weeks?"

"Yes and no," Adriana replied. "We are making progress and suspect that we should have everything resolved within the next three to four weeks."

"Was it not what you claimed the last time?" The Captain pointed out.

"This time though it's true... I hope."

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 34132.1445

"Captain's log. I am receiving a large number of reports from Lieutenant Stark about transport vessels going and coming from ELAS. Ambassador Bonviva is still in the midst of negotiations with the Elasian faction but it would appear that some progress had been made in reopening trades with other worlds. As good as this news might be, it, unfortunately, is going to make things much more difficult for Commander Shar'El, Lieutenant Ya'Han and the rest of the security detail who have not yet been able to locate and apprehend the Lokustaar. With all of these new vessels coming and going, it is likely that the Lokustaar will find a way to leave ELAS. The ANUBIS remains on high alert trying to avoid this from happening."

=====
Setting:  ANUBIS, Transporter Room 1
Stardate: 34153.0830

To the Captain's great joy, two transporter beams were active on the platform. Expressions of great relief were visible on the faces of the Ambassador and Junior Ambassador as they stepped off the platform.

"It is done," Xana announced. "Peace has officially returned to ELAS, and the agreement in place should last for quite some time as everything that could be thought of was brought up and addressed."

"Congratulations Ambassador, this will be a nice addition to your list of achievements."

"It was not easy," Adriana said looking at Xana, "but she did it. The Expansionists have what they wanted, a more open trade system with other worlds, while what is left of the Puritans have locked in the Elasian's control of their own affairs. This should not have taken as long as it did, but emotions were still running very high following the death of Evaanku. In the end, though, Xana was able to make them see that they are all part of a greater universe, one that they needed to be an active part of."

"Captain," Xana interrupted having had enough of being the target of all this praise. "We have been invited to the official celebration of the completion of the treaty. This celebration is to be held in two days. It would be nice for you and all members of the Senior Staff to be in attendance as a show of support from the Federation."

"Of course Ambassador, we will all be there."

=====
Setting:   ELAS, Hall of Assembly
Stardate: 34155.1000

By the looks of those gathered in the Hall of Assembly, everyone was beyond happy with the peace treaty, either that or everyone was putting on quite a show to make it seem that way. Either way, Erik was glad to see this part of their mission finally concluded.

"Commander Shar'El, glad you were able to join us," the Captain said to his First Officer.  "Where is Ya'Han?" He added as he searched for the Chief of Security.

"She's busy," Shar'El replied, a grin dancing on her lips. "We finally caught it. It was trying to board an Orion freighter but Ya'Han was there waiting for it. Good or bad, she started thinking the way it did giving us the advantage we needed to finally corner it."

"Where is it now?" Erik inquired.

"Heading up to the ANUBIS where it will be safely locked away."

"Today is a good day," the Captain smiled. "We are actually going to be able to head home."

=====
Setting:   ELAS, Military Headquarters
Stardate: 34156.1400

With the peace treaty completed and the celebrations done and over with, life on ELAS could finally return to normal thanks to the Lokustaar threat having been dealt with.

"Captain Morningstar," the War Master said as he greeted the ANUBIS' Commanding Officer in his office. "Thank you for accepting to see me like this. I wanted to personally express my thanks for all that you and your people have done for the people of ELAS. There is still a great deal of distrust towards the Federation but I believe that following what happened those sentiments will gradually fade and be forgotten."

"I am glad that we were able to help, War Master," the Native American offered. "I am sorry that peace came at such a high personal price though."

"The price would have been greater for us all had the replicants succeeded in carrying out the Lokustaar's plan.  Your Ambassador was kind and patient enough to make us all see that, and I am sure that Evaanku would have been pleased with the results. Despite all of our different views and opinions, peace for ELAS was all that any of us truly wanted."

"I am glad to hear that," Morningstar said extending a hand in friendship. "I wish you and your people peace and prosperity. Maybe one day my crew and I will return under better circumstances."

"I hope so," Daanold said accepting the Native American's hand into his. "You and the ANUBIS will always be welcomed to ELAS."

=====
Setting:  ELAS, Mountain Observation Ledge
Stardate: 34157.1300

"Why are we here?" Adriana asked of Xana following the two women making their way to a small ledge on the side of a mountain.

"I have been on this world as an Ambassador since day one," the Bolian/Human hybrid stated. "I just wanted to enjoy the scenery as someone without a title, without responsibilities and without having to worry about someone else's agenda. I just wanted to be able to remember this world without seeing the same four walls that we both have been looking at for far too long."

Adriana smiled and quietly joined the Ambassador in her admiration of the natural landscape stretching before them.

=====
Setting:  USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34158.0700

"All stations are reporting ready, Sir," Lt. Stark reported.

"We have been cleared to leave orbit, Sir," Lt. Ya'Han followed with.

"Cargo is safe and secured behind more force field that I thought were able to be put in one place," Maya announced referring to the Lokustaar.

"What?" Sonja chimed in. "I was not going to take any chances with that *thing* on board.  That is why it is in one of the cargo bays that can be jettisoned in case of trouble."

"Nothing like a healthy dose of paranoia," Counsellor Lopez said, the Junior Ambassador having resumed, for the time being, her role and duty as Ship's Counsellor for the time being.

"I will just be happy to put some distance between us and that world," Doctor Bruxa added. "I think we have spent enough time there for a while... a long while I hope."

"Captain," Shar'El grinned as she came to stand next to the Captain. 'I believe everyone is anxiously waiting for you to give the order."

The Native American smiled and nodded. "Helm, take us out of orbit and out of the Elasian Star System on a course for NEW ALEXANDRA. As soon as we are cleared, engage at maximum warp speed. It is time for us to head home."

--==(/\)==--
Francois Charette

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA (currently on OLTHAR PRIME with his fiancée)
M15-P064: USS ANUBIS: Bonviva: 34158.2115 ("Outreach")
“Outreach”
Previous posts (ANU) "Needs of Necessity" / (BAS) "Houdini Switch" / (PHOENIX) “Vanguard”

=/\=
You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there
-Edwin Louis Cole

=/\=
Location: USS ANUBIS
Scene: Bonviva’s Quarters
STARDATE:  (ANUBIS): 34158.2115 / (PHOENIX): [2.19]1229.2147/

Xana sat in her quarters, going through the correspondence that had piled up.  “So many reports,” she sighed.  Going through her messages she muttered, “Those can be a story for another day.”

Next she sorted out the pile of messages she labeled “fake meat” messages.  Things labeled:

Buy one bat’leth, get your next 2 for free!
You too can get free latinum, click here to find out more
Hello - I am a long lost Prince of Romulaniandia and I need some credits to escape…

“Definitely not those messages,” she said as she swept right on those messages.  Figuring she should check in on her kids, she got up to get some tea and called out, “Computer start a message to Dahlia Bonviva-McInnis and Benito Bonviva-Crichton on the USS PHOENIX.”  

[/\] Ship-to-ship communication is possible.  Initiate? [/\]

Xana smiled at that, “Yes.”  Walking back over she waited as the symbol changed from the Federation symbol to showing her youngest two children -- 13 year old Dahlia and 9 year old Ben.  

[/\] MOM! [/\]  Her son’s enthusiasm was apparent across the stars.  [/\] Dahlia, it’s Mom! [/\]  Before his sister could join him, Ben started up his usual rapid-fire speaking, [/\] Mom, where are you?  Are you on a ship?  Where is the ship?  Are you coming to join us? [/\]

Xana smiled and before she could answer her daughter joined them, sitting next to her younger brother.  [/\] You know how this works.  Mom is stationed somewhere else.  Besides, why would they send Mom here? [/\]

[/\] Duh, cause *we’re* here, [/\] Ben pointed out.  

Xana smiled at her children.  “I miss you both so much.  But Ben, I don’t think the Federation would send me somewhere just because you two are there.  I’m sorry,” she said.

[/\] But...I’m here.  Dahlia is here.  Dad is here, [/\] Ben pointed out.  [/\] I remember when we were all on EARTH or VULCAN or BOLARUS or wherever else and Dad was on the ship, you’d ask if he could get a transfer.  Why is this different? Besides now that you’re on a ship, another ship can’t be so different. Can it? [/\]

Xana sighed.  She knew the divorce had been hard on her kids, but she thought they had gotten to a place they were more accepting of it.  Clearly if Ben thought that she was going to get a posting somewhere to be with her ex-husband...then maybe he was less accepting of it than Xana thought.

[/\] I think Ben has gotten the whole “We’re still a family” confused with what divorce means, [/\] Dahlia drawled.  [/\] It’s why I tried to sign him up for counseling but we need an adult’s permission. Jake is on the Bridge, Aunt Iphie barely qualifies as an adult, and you’re on the other side of the universe,[/\] Dahlia said, with a mixture of truth and sarcasm as she laid out the adults in her life including Xana’s sister who was the chef/bartender on the PHOENIX.

[/\] I went to Counseling! [/\] Ben protested.

[/\] Giving Captain Smooshy belly rubs doesn’t count! [/\] Dahlia yelled back, referring to the PHOENIX’s resident therapy pug.

Xana smiled at that, despite herself.  She was going to say something in that moment, something very “mom-like” that yes divorce didn’t mean they weren’t still loved and cared for…

When suddenly her eye caught something over her children’s shoulders.  It was a photograph, turned around so she could only see the back of the frame.  In almost anyone else’s quarters she wouldn’t have thought twice about a photograph on a table.  But 10 years of marriage, gave Xana some insight into Jake, even if they spent most of their marriage in different quadrants.  He was kind and determined...but he was not inclined to keep personal mementos around.  At least none that she ever knew of.

Clearly Jake had moved on since the divorce, and the realization hit Xana like the proverbial ton of bricks.  In the years since the divorce, she hadn’t.  She had focused on her health and getting her children to a better place emotionally.  Now it was questionable if she did either.  Ben clearly was still hurting, Dahlia still felt like she had to take care of him, and Xana knew that she would not be sitting here if it weren’t for Adriana.  

Most definitely, she had not moved on in a way that Jake had.  The awareness of this new knowledge left the Bolian/Human feeling oddly uncomfortable; as if she had been asleep for a long time and just now was waking up.  

Being on the ANUBIS would give her the time and space to focus on her career, and certainly the last 2 missions had done that.  That was good, and she was proud of that.  Now, she just had to figure out...well...everything else.

Swallowing the lump in her throat, she said, “Counseling is always good.  And it sounds like both of you could use a few sessions.  While I have no doubt Captain Smooshy is very capable, perhaps a few sessions with...a humanoid Counselor is in order too.”   Sipping some tea she thought about it and said, “Talk to Jake, but I’m sure he’d agree.  It’s up to him as he’s the one who is with you everyday.  But for what it is worth, I do think you should go.”

Sipping her tea some more she listened to her children update her on the rest of their time since she last saw them.  Finally she was starting to wrap up with promises to call them more (because she knew trying to get them to call her was not going to happen) when the screen went red.  [/\] Mom, we’re going to red alert, [/\] Dahlia said.  

Xana’s heart leapt into her throat; her children were on the PHOENIX during a red alert and there was nothing she could do from here. Keeping her voice calm she told her children, “You know the drill.  Stay in your quarters unless your father or some other officer directs you otherwise.”

[/\] We know, [/\] Dahlia and Ben said.  [/\] Love you. [/\]

“Love you too,” Xana replied before the screen went blank. 

Getting up to recycle the tea cup Xana looked around the quarters and figured she needed to get out of here.  Tapping her commbadge she said, “Bonviva to Lopez.”

The voice of the Counselor/Junior Ambassador came back.  =/\= Lopez here.  What’s up? =/\=

“I wanted to know if you wanted to get together,” Xana said.  “I realize we haven’t chatted in a while.”

=/\= The whole time on ELAS doesn’t count? =/\= Adriana asked with a laugh in her voice.

Xana rolled her violet eyes at that.  “Maybe something where the fate of a planet or the Federation isn’t on our daily minds…color me crazy but right now we need a break.  At least I do.  What do you say?”

=/\= Well speaking as Ship’s Counselor, taking a break from rigorous mental and physical activity is good for you,=/\= Adriana replied.

“Occasionally I do have a good idea,” Bonviva grinned.  “See you in 20.”

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond

USS ANUBIS NCC 18501
M15-P065: USS ANUBIS: Ya'Han: 34160.0530 ("Paranoid Posture")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Paranoid Posture"
[previous post were (ANU) "Outreach" / (BAS) "Houdini Switch"]
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bridge
Stardate: 34160.0530

ELAS stood a little less than two days behind them and NEW ALEXANDRIA was still over a full day's travel from their current position. Sensors showed no trouble in their path or anywhere nearby and all of the tactical reports concerning the Lokustaar pretty much said the same thing. The Shadows were on the run trying their best to find somewhere where they would be able to hide without being discovered.  All of this should have made the Sec/Tac smile, or at the very least made Ya'Han feel more relaxed than she was, but the presence of a Lokustaar on board the ANUBIS made that impossible.

It took the combined efforts of the Elasian military and the ANUBIS' Marines over several months to finally trap the creature. Even without its ability to become invisible, the nightmarish beast proved to be an exceptionally cunning adversary that had them running back and forth to every conceivable corners of the city's underground and less than welcoming areas. It was only after the Sec/Tac began to draw on her experience dealing with Jayson's clone and Mordana that the joint forces were able to capture it.

Ya'Han looked down at the Security and Tactical station, more specifically at a particular corner where the image of the trapped Lokustaar was being displayed since its arrival. Due to past experiences, the bright red-haired Sec/Tac was unwilling to take her eyes from the creature and allow it to take the slightest advantage of their guard being lowered, even if only briefly.

"It's not going anywhere you know," Jayson said as he stepped onto the bridge to find Ya'Han at her post, exactly where he had left her when he left the bridge at the end of his shift the day before. "You need to rest. Let someone else watch over that thing, heck, you could even ask Carter and O'Malley to do it. From what I heard, you and those two Marines grew quite close during your hunt for the Lokustaar."

"As long as that thing is on the ANUBIS," the Sec/Tac said with a hint of a growl in her voice. "It is my responsibility to make sure it stays confined and that the members of the crew are safe from it."

"I can't believe I am going to be saying that, but Sonja pulled out all of the stops to make sure the Lokustaar cannot even come close to escaping from that cargo hold," Jayson was finding it hard to believe that he was singing the woman's praises, even if only a little. "Looks, even Doctor Bruxa got involved in setting up those multi-leveled force fields. Whatever bio-matter the Lokustaar are made of is not getting through that energy barrier."

"Someone has to keep watch over it," the Sec/Tac argued back.

"Ya'Han!" For a moment Jayson had lost his cool. He had been as patient as he could be, waiting for the woman he loved to come back to him, but since her spending time with his clone the Nylaan had not been the same. So much so that Stark even wondered if maybe she had herself been replaced by a clone. Taking a deep breath, the Chief of Operations regained controlled of his emotions. "This is not healthy. Please, I beg of you, come back to our quarters and rest. If my being there with you is the issue, I will gladly go back to my quarters. I just want you to rest."

"You could report your concerns to Counselor Lopez, Doctor Bruxa, Commander Shar'El or even Captain Morningstar," Ya'Han said.

"I could," Jayson agreed. "If I do, you will end up hating me even more than you do now."

"I do not hate you Jayson," the Nylaan said lovingly, her hair losing some of its fiery bright red color ever so slightly as she looked up at him, but that lasted only a few seconds. The moment her gaze returned onto her console, the brightness of her hair returned to its fullest intensity. "I just have a lot on my mind and I have to make sure that this thing does not cause us any more trouble than it already has."

An uneasy silence was shared between the two officers. Both had so much to say but neither one of them could find the words. After a few moments, it was Ya'Han who broke the deafening silence. "Fine, you win. I will leave but I need you to do me one favor."

"Anything," Jayson's reply came almost faster than Ya'Han had finished speaking.

"Take over the Security and Tactical station until someone else comes to replace me. I know that you believe that i am being paranoid, but it would make me feel a lot better knowing that it is you keeping an eye on it for the time being."

Jayson agreed without hesitation, happy to see the Sec/Tac finally giving into reason.

Ya'Han kissed the man on the cheek before making her way to the turbolift and vanishing from the ANUBIS' bridge

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Deck 25, Cargo Bay 15 Observation Station
Stardate: 34160.0550

She felt bad lying to Jayson, but then again she had not specifically said that she was heading to her quarters, only that she was leaving the bridge. From the cargo bay's observation station, the Sec/Tac could directly look down upon the Lokustaar. The dark, multi-legged beast stood motionless in the middle of the cargo bay as if waiting for something or someone.

Most prisoners would have lashed out at the force field or paced the length and width of their cell, but the Lokustaar remained perfectly still, not moving the slightest since it was brought on board the ANUBIS. That only fueled Ya'Han's fears that it was planning something and it was why she could not just go back to her quarters and rest. With maybe one exception, being Commander Shar'El who touched the mind of a Lokustaar with her own, the Sec/Tac was the only person who understood the way those beasts thought and operated.

During her entire time on ELAS Ya'Han kept worrying that Mordana would suddenly appear from one of the shadow-filled corners. Now that they were back on the ANUBIS, the Sec/Tac knew that this could not happen, but her concerns were now entirely focused on the Lokustaar who remained perfectly still and now directly in her line of sight.

Never taking her eyes off of it, Ya'Han pulled out a chair and made herself comfortable. She would rest, at least as much as she could while keeping an eye on the creature she could not permit herself to ignore even if only for a split second.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M15-P066: USS ANUBIS: Lopez: 34160.0600 ("Quenched Queries")
-=-=-
"Quenched Queries"
[Previous post: (ANU) "Paranoid Posture" & (BAS) "Houdini Switch"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS ANUBIS, Lopez' Quarters
Stardate: 34160.0600

"How does Sonja do it?" The Counselor sat on the edge of her bed, her eyes focussing on her bare feet in an effort to avoid the spinning room from making her ill.  Adriana met with Xana in the Black Hole Lounge shortly after the Bolian/Human woman reached out to her. It was evident that she needed to talk and unwind. The diplomatic mission to ELAS had been rough on many different levels and forced the Ambassador to repeatedly dig into her bag of tricks. Now they were back on the ANUBIS and it was time for them to return to a more 'normal' way of life.

Adriana was glad to see Xana sitting at one of the tables appearing more relaxed than she had been for a very long time, but there was still something about the Bolian/Human woman that seemed off.  That should have been the hint for the Counselor to proceed with more caution then she did.

-=-=-
FLASHBACK
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Black Hole Lounge
Stardate: 34158.2145

"Here," Xana said pushing one of the two glasses that were on the table in front of her. Not seeing anything wrong with joining the Ambassador and accepting the offering, Adriana pulled out a chair, sat and took the small glass into her hand.  "To us and our having survived another mission!"

Lopez raised her glass to meet Bonviva's and after seeing the Ambassador swig the entire drink the Counselor followed suit. The moment the liquid began to flow down her throat, Adriana's eyes opened to their widest. Quickly bringing the glass back to her lips she was going to spit out the strong liquor but was stopped by her friend.

"Don't you dare spit that out! It's a vintage brew from BOLARUS and it deserves better than to be wasted like that."

With tears streaming from her eyes Adriana put the glass back down and forced herself to swallow. As soon as that was accomplished she motioned for one of the waiters to come with haste, barely managing to voice her urgent need for water.  Xana reached beneath the table and produced the bottle from which the offending brew had come from, pouring herself another glass while she watched the Junior Ambassador desperately wave for the waiter to return with her requested salvation.

"You could have told me that this was not synthahol," Adriana said after downing the tall glass of water, her eyes still filled with tears.

"I invited you for drinks," Xana said shrugging her shoulders. "I thought you knew me better than to expect me to be drinking water after everything we went through."

"Maybe not water," the Counselor said motioning for the waiter to bring a refill. "I did expect that you would be enjoying something with a little more bite, but I was certainly not expecting that to be strong enough to peel the Ablative Armor off the ANUBIS.

"I needed something stronger," Xana said dismissively as she downed the content of her glass once again.

"Alright, I might not have 'known you well enough' to expect this type of drink, but I have been working with you long enough to know that something is wrong. There is something bothering you, something that I would guess has nothing to do with what happened on the mission. We have already spoken about the deaths of Evaanku and Lujem and have accepted that their sacrifice was necessary to bring about peace of ELAS. So what is it? What is bothering you?"

"My life," Xana said as she filled her glass once more before reaching over the table and filling Adriana's glass as well. "More accurately, the lack thereof."

"Something happened with Dahlia and Ben and you are feeling guilty for not being there for them?"

The Bolian/Human hybrid shook her head. The guess was a good one, closer than many others might have been, but it made Xana realise that Adriana was just the person she needed to be there sitting in front of her at this time.  "It's Jake," Bonviva explained in as fewer words as she could manage. "He's moved on with his life." As soon as the words left her lips, the glass in her hand was raised and emptied of its content.

"So have you," Adriana pointed out. "Granted, your chosen path is not his. You decided to focus on your career and to make sure your children would have the best possible life ahead of them. Remember, you were dying and that forced you to make decisions that you would not have taken otherwise. You cannot blame yourself for what happened."

"You are right," Xana said looking straight at Adriana before narrowing her eyes. "It's all your fault."

"My fault!?!"

"Alright, I will give you that the fault is shared between you and Miss Satori," Xana conceded. "it if was not for you two, I would not be feeling this way, actually i would not be feeling anything as I would not be here."

The Counselor feared that following the demands and stress of their last mission the Ambassador had now slipped into a deep depression, one that drinks would not help solve in any way.  "Xana, you cannot think that way."

"I'm not," the Bolian/Human said with a smile. "I just wanted to make sure that you were here, talking to me as a friend, and not as the Ship's Counselor. So, I needed to get the professional stuff out of the way so that you would be willing and able to continue as a friend and nothing more."

"You are going to drive me to drink," Adriana laughed.

"Good," Xana said raising her glass one again. "Then we can do so together."

With some level of hesitation Adriana reached for the glass the Bolian/Human had refilled and raised it to meet its counterpart. "I am not chugging it down this time."

"Deal," Bonviva said waiting for Lopez to bring the glass to her lips before doing the same. Once the glasses were returned to the table empty of their content, Xana smiled. "Now we can talk. Both you and I have made decisions based on major events in our lives. You lost your twin sister and I was dying. Neither one of us expected that things would come to change what we were sure would be an set path.  I could never have expected to find myself cured of my illness and you never expected to find a clue as to where your sister might be in this vast universe."

"I don't have a clue as to where she is," Adriana pointed out.

"You do now," Xana said pushing a small data chip across the table. "Once the negotiations were completed, I was able to get a hold of an old acquaintance by the name of Rilliz. He gave me this. It is not much, but it is at least somewhere for you to start."

"Thank you," Lopez said as tears once again began to flow from her eyes. "How can I ever repay you?"

"Stay, drink and listen," Bonviva said refilling the glasses once more. "I still have a few things I want to talk about."

"Then why give me the data chip now instead of later?"

The Bolian/Human woman smiled as she produced a second bottle from beneath the table as the answer to the question.

The rest of the day was spent drinking and talking, talking and drinking until Adriana could do neither no more. The two women withdrew back to their quarters, Xana feeling lighthearted while her drinking buddy barely managed to make it back to her quarters.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS

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