USS BASTET - Mission 08
IN PROGRESS
POST INDEX
Post # Character Title
001 Valentine Distant Shores
Sarena is given new orders
002 Gemma New Purpose
Gemma considers the crew as family
003 Andersson In The Blink Of An Eye
Sofia is scared about the blink jump
004 Mitshiba Looking For Something
Having arrived, the HATHOR searches for the probe
005 Gemma Testing Patience
The crew feels bad at their lack of progress
006 Valentine Path of Nothingness
The HATHOR discovers a planet inside negative space
007 Andersson Just Another Desert Planet
The away team discovers they are not alone
008 Valentine Language Barrier
The away team is taken away by the hunters
009 Gemma Cool Tracking
Gemma follows the group and discoveres something
010 Andersson Hazy Destination
The away team continues on their long journey
011 Valentine Tests
The team arrives at a settlement
012 Gemma Winning Conditions
The team passes the test and move to the next stage
Post # Character Title
013 Valentine Beyond Reality
The away team meets Adrien
014 Mitshiba Wandering Through Space...
Aki expolores with Adrien
015 Gemma Inner Reflection
Gemma is faced with her multiple identities
016 Andersson Days Gone By
Sofia is brought face-to-face with her pains
017 Dima Spirited Away
Nicole speaks to Adrien about her past
018 Valentine The Return
The away team returns to complete the mission
019 Iverson Why Ask How...
Selene is reinstated as Captain
020 Mitshiba Stuck on Why
Aki meets with Selene to talk about what happened
021 Dima To Boldly Go... Home
Nic records a message for her parents
M08-P001: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33119.0600 ("Distant Shores")
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"Distant Shores"
[previous post (ANU) "Unexpected Damage" / (BAS) "Mind Games, pt 2")]

Setting:  USS BASTET, Mess Hall
Stardate: 33119.0600

The Executive Officer sat alone at a table, a steaming cup of coffee cradled in her hands while her eyes were locked on the small cup resting on the recently added shelf in the corner of the Mess Hall. Sarena wanted to be here, to spend time alone and away from anything that might remind her of her responsibilities.  Here, in the early hours of the morning, she could spend some time as a regular person wishing that things had not happened the way they had, but the weight of her position made this exceptionally difficult.

As the acting Commanding Officer of the BASTET, she did not have the time to indulge in what was, in the end, nothing more than a colossal waste of time. Every second of every day needed to be spent dealing with the needs of the ship and its crew who relied on every single decision of their Captain. So she took in a slow deep breath and allowed her gaze to fall onto the PADD she had brought with her.  One after the other the reports concerning the ship were read, the important details carefully noted to be addressed at a later time. Not so long ago, Captain Iverson would have done the exact same thing and delegated some of these items to the Executive Officer. Today, Sarena sat alone to perform all of these tasks, tasks she knew sooner rather than later would require the help of someone else to handle.

Admiral Koniki had made her acting Captain, and as such she now possessed the authority to elevate someone else to the position of acting Executive Officer. The question was who? Even before she could start thinking about who amongst the senior staff might be able to fill that role, Sarena had to deal with the changes in staff. Following the stress incurred during their last mission, Ensign Ashton Dean requested a leave of absence from the BASTET. His reasoning was more than understandable as he wanted to see his daughters safe and be able to spend more time with them, something that he could easily be accomplished inside of their base of operation.

With Ashton gone, at least for the time being, this meant that there would be two positions needing to be filled before the start of their next mission; a Flight Control Officer and an Executive Officer. Since it would be easier to find a replacement FCO, Sarena decided to work on looking for someone who would be able to help her as acting Commanding Officer. Due to rank and skills, two names immediately came to mind; Lt. Mitshiba and Lt. Gemma.

Sarena was sure that both women would readily accept the position if offered to them, so that was not the problem. What might prove to be difficult was their personalities as well as the way the rest of the crew looked at them. Misaki, or Aki as she liked to be called, was a dedicated scientist who loved to tackle any mystery they came across, and for a vessel capable of traveling to other dimensions and time, this insatiable thirst for knowledge had proven to be an asset to them more than once. The problem was that as an Executive Officer she would need to curb this desire to perform more administrative tasks as she would be directly responsible for the crew.

Where Misaki could be considered to have a weakness, Lt. Gemma could be seen as having a huge advantage. As an experienced Intel Operative, she knew exactly how to handle people and present herself in the best possible way in order to get others to behave as the situation required. The problem there was how, or more accurately, how would be the person to make this happen. The greatest advantage of the ILO, that of being able to be anyone the exact person needed to deal with a situation would also prove to be the greatest weakness for an Executive Officer as no one would know whom they would be dealing with.

With Sofia and Nicole both being Ensigns and Chief Medical Officer and Ship's Counselor respectively, neither seemed to be a good fit for taking on the responsibilities of an Executive Officer.

=/\= Admiral Koniki to Commander Valentine. =/\=

As unexpected as the call was, it proved to be perfectly timed to have the acting Commanding Officer delay having to make a decision on her temporary replacement.  "Valentine here, what can I do for you, Admiral?"

=/\= Need to see you in my office as quickly as possible. So, I am expecting you as soon as you have finished your coffee. Admiral Koniki out. =/\=

"That man knows everything that happens, be it here inside NEW ALEXANDRIA or anywhere else in the universe, and strangely enough that thought is not at all comforting," Sarena said before taking one last sip of her coffee.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] 
Setting:  NEW ALEXANDRIA, Admiral Koniki's office
Stardate: 33119.0630

"Good morning Admiral, you wanted to see me?" Sarena asked as she walked into the large office possessing an unmistakeable Egyptian decor.

"Good morning Commander, thank you for coming so quickly. I have reviewed your report and I thought you might be interested in seeing this," the Admiral said as he handed over a PADD to the puzzled woman standing before him.

"What is this?" Valentine asked as she quickly scanned the data contained on the PADD.

"Several deep space monitoring stations keeping a close watch on the Gorn Hegemony picked up something that I thought you would be interested in. Although the resolution is weak, the object detected on the other side of their space does appear to have several similarities to the probes used by the HAWKING in their trans-dimensional search for the BASTET. Since long-range sensors also detected a dimensional disturbance in the general vicinity, the odds do seem to point to this being one of theirs," the Admiral explained.

"You believe that Captain Iverson might have been able to use one of the probes to escape the Lokustaar and find her way back?" Sarena asked displaying a great deal more exuberance than she had wanted to.

"The odds of that being the case are rather slim. I am far more convinced that it may be an attempt by the Lokustaar to get a better lock on this dimension. In either case, the event cannot be ignored, so I want you and your senior staff to take the HATHOR and investigate. Your primary objective is to locate whatever the monitoring stations discovered, once that is accomplished you are to perform a threat assessment and if at all possible bring the object back. If you are unable to do this, you are under orders to destroying there and then. If it is some sort of probe capable of transdimensional travel, we cannot afford it falling into the hands of the Gorn or anyone else for that matter.  Thanks to the new blink-drive, you will be able to make the trip to the far side of Gorn space in no time, which means that you will have a head start on anyone else who detected what we did."

"Guess that means you want us to leave right away."

"Actually, I would like to have you already be on your way, but using the BASTET's temporal drive to get all of you there before we have this discussion might actually cause more trouble than it is worth. So yes, I want you and your crew on the HATHOR as soon as possible.  With a smaller ship and crew, I believe that it will make things easier for you to handle being in commander. Just look upon this as a long distance away mission."

"Thank you, Admiral," Sarena said, not at all sounding impressed by the man's last few words which she saw as him believing that she was not capable of meeting the challenge.  With the Admiral's permission, Commander Valentine exited the office and summoned her officers to the HATHOR for a rushed mission briefing.

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Setting:  USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 33119.0700

Sarena had made it clear that everyone needed to hurry up, and no one disappointed.

"We are all here, so what's the rush?" Doctor Andersson asked.

"Actually, we are not all here. Where is Ensign Dean?" Misaki asked, the CSciO being her keen observant self as always.

"Ashton will be staying on NEW ALEXANDRIA for this mission," the acting Commanding Officer replied.

"Makes sense," Nicole said. "After all that happened during our last mission and the constant worries he had about his girls, it makes sense that he wants to keep them as far away from the craziness that we deal on a regular basis."

"His family should never have been brought on board the BASTET," Gemma said making it evident as to where she stood in that regards. "What's our mission? based on you asking for us to report here as quickly as possible, we can only surmise that time is of the essence and that we will be using the HATHOR's blink-drive to get wherever we are going as quickly as possible."

With those few words, the ILO had proven Sarena's point in both wanting Gemma as her Executive Officer as well as the reasons why she could not do so for fear of alienating the rest of the senior officers. With that matter settled, the Commander called forth a holographic representation of the region of space they would be traveling to. "Deep space monitoring stations looking into Gorn space saw this." All eyes studied the image with interest, everyone trying to understand what it is they were looking at.

"That looks like one of the probes used by the HAWKING," Misaki observed. "How is that possible though? Could they have sent another probe back here?"

"Could it be one of those they sent out to search for the BASTET that somehow found its way back?" Sofia proposed, clearly wanting to present the possibility, even if slim, that the probe had been used as the means for their Captain to come back.

"We do not have any answers, that is why we are being dispatched to investigate. Whatever it is, if it possesses transdimensional travel capabilities, we are under orders to collect it and bring it back, or if we cannot to destroy it so that its technology does not fall into enemy hands."

"Sounds like a wild goose chase, but it is better than us being here," Gemma said not hiding the fact that she was ready to accept any excuse that would take her away from NEW ALEXANDRIA.

"I want the HATHOR out and the blink drive ready within the hour. We can figure out what our next step will be once we are on location. Lt. Gemma, since Ensign Dean will not be with us, I would appreciate if you took the helm. You have proven yourself to be a skilled pilot and we will be in need of someone like that both to get there and once we arrive as there is no telling what we might run into."

"Yes Captain," the ILO replied, again not showing any hesitation in doing anything that would get her as far away from the secret base of operation.

"Guess you will be performing the duties of both the Captain and Executive Officer for this mission?" Nicole whispered as the other officers scattered to take care of their respective duties.

"As the Admiral said, this is a smaller ship with a smaller crew so I can look upon this as a long distance away mission," Sarena said repeating Koniki's words.

"Don't let him convince you that you would not have been able to handle something more. It is what you believe that matters, not what he does."

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Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P002: USS BASTET: Gemma: 33119.0720 ("New Purpose")
=-=
"New Purpose"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Unexpected Damage" / (BAS) "Distant Shores"]
=-=

Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 33119.0720

The moment the meeting came to an end Gemma made her way to the front of the bridge and the flight control station. The console was much more compact than that of the BASTET but she did not appear to mind. As long as they were heading away from NEW ALEXANDRIA, she didn't care what type of ship she was on. The bonus of being on board a ship with a blink-drive was that they would be able to travel a great deal of distance in very little time. That alone was enough to make the ILO smile, even if only inwardly.

Gemma paused as she looked down at the vacant chair now by her side.  The more she studied the Spartan seat, the more she felt an odd sensation sneak its way into her mind. The woman actually felt sorry that Ashton would not be joining them. He had shown himself to be a skilled pilot and a competent officer during their last mission. Due to that alone, he would be missed. The issue was that they already had a large void to deal with in the absence of Captain Iverson. His decision to remain on NEW ALEXANDRIA would only serve to make that emptiness larger.

That said she could not begrudge the man's decision to stay behind.  Following the events of their last mission, Ashton needed to be a father first and above all else. This was a feeling that, although Gemma understood, she could not personally relate to. Thanks to her past, or what she could recall of it, Gemma had never been part of a family.  When that thought embedded itself in her mind, the woman turned around to scan the occupants of the command deck.

For as long as she could remember, Gemma had been a loner, a person who sought out solitude whenever possible. True, she was never alone thanks to her omnipresent associates, but that was different. Being around people she did not thoroughly know was an issue for her. That was the reason why she learned as much about them as quickly as possible. That was why she was a natural in the field of Intel gathering.

That attitude began to change the day she became a member of this crew. The choice had not been hers, but that no longer mattered. Those around her were not strangers in the sense that she considered everyone else. Like her, they were part of an organization dedicated to fighting the darkness wherever it hid. Gemma did not know about their innermost fears or dreams, yet she could not claim to not knowing them at all.  Aki was a dedicated scientist who loved discovering anything about the universe. Sofia and Nicole were skilled officers in their respective domains. Each looked at the ILO with a professional interest that forced them to be cautious. Commander Valentine was a leader despite herself, trying to make the best of a bad situation.

As a member of the crew they represented, Gemma had to consider them each an important part of the team. This meant that in some strange and twisted definition of the word, they were her family. Since she had never been part of such a group before, the ILO tried to understand what this meant. All she could do was to fall back on what she had observed during her undercover missions. Her knowledge of what a family meant was unfortunately second hand at best. On countless worlds, in completely different cultures, she witnessed parents sacrificing themselves for their child. On war-torn planets, the ILO observed siblings standing shoulder to shoulder against impossible odds. She could even recall a few instances when small infants stood before their parents in the hopes of protecting them at the cost of their own existence.

As far as Gemma could tell, being part of a family meant putting someone else's safety above your own. As strange as the concept may seem to be, it somehow felt right as she looked at the other members of the crew. Being here was her new reality, and as such, she would do everything in her power to protect them. Maybe in doing so she would also come to better understand the emotions that came along with being part of a family.

Holding on to this though, Gemma turned back to face the flight control station. With a new sense of purpose, she eased herself onto the chair. The uncertainty of her abilities in performing the desired task gradually vanished. The more she studied the controls, the more familiar they became.

"Helm, are we ready?" Commander Valentine asked.

The delicate hands of an expert pilot moved over the flight controls with confidence. All indicators showed ready, something that the blonde-haired Varro woman was pleased to see. "We are ready to go at your discretion, Captain."

It would take some time for Dalra to get used to being a pilot to more than a shuttle. She had proven herself capable back on the BASTET in a crunch. This would be different as she could take on the role of a full-time Flight Control Officer for the mission. If that was not enough, she would also need to think about those on board with her. Although they were not associates like Gemma and the others, they were part of this new family.

"Take us out!" The Captain ordered making the Varro woman openly smile.

Fingers tapped several controls as if repeating gestures that they had done countless times before.  **It might not be as hard to get used to as I thought,** Dalra thought. With ease she complied with the order, her mind finding peace in the movements of her hands. As the ship began moving, the Varro woman made a silent vow to herself. She would act as any member of a family would towards each other. She, as well as her associates, would protect those on board the HATHOR.  "We have cleared all moorings. Using maneuvering thrusters and setting a course for the primary space doors. We will reach open space in two minutes. After that, our next stop will be Gorn space."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Intel Operative
USS BASTET

[The fun is getting to wear multiple disguises and getting to explore multiple personalities and bring them to life. - Jenna Fischer]
M08-P003: USS BASTET: Andersson: 33119.0745 ("In The Blink of an Eye")
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"In The Blink of an Eye"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Elusive Simplicity" by Rachel / (BAS) "New Purpose" by Rachel]
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Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 33119.0745 

With all of its five decks, the HATHOR was a cozy little ship where space was at a premium forcing everything to be compact, including the room the CMO would call home for the duration of their mission. One treatment bed, which doubled as a convalescence bed, was all that could be afforded, which made sense as the crew of the ship totaled no more than 35. As logic and efficient as the design of the room was though, Sofia already longed for the spaciousness of the BASTET. At least there, she could spread her arms and legs without risking knocking something important over.

=/\= Attention all hands; this is Commander Valentine speaking, standby for the blink jump. =/\=

"The blink jump," the CMO repeated with a nervous chuckle. "Sound like something that would be done in grade school," Andersson said to herself, trying to ward off the nervousness she felt creeping up on her. The term might have seemed childish in some ways, but the science behind it was anything but. The ship would travel from one place in space to a distant another in the proverbial blink of an eye, and in that split second countless things could go wrong sending the ship and crew somewhere completely different.

Sofia held tightly onto the one and only bed of her department, trying her best to reason away her fears. On board the BASTET they would travel to entirely different dimensions, so here on the HATHOR, this little jump should be nothing special or of concerned. After all, this was the ship that saved Nicole and her from the Reman detention center on JDO-SHEN, so clearly it could do the task. Still, Doctor Andersson felt her hold on the bed increase with each passing second, so much so that her fingers began to hurt.

If something unexpected were to happen, would she be able to treat the injuries if there was more than one? A number of alternate scenarios filled her mind as she waited for the jump to take place. From deep inside the HATHOR, Sofia would not see anything to confirm that they had performed the jump or even that it had gone according to plan. So she listened for sounds that would indicate that something had indeed happened. Without really realizing it, the CMO strained to hear the sounds of someone in trouble. If something were to go wrong, she could end up being the only one able to help everyone else, so she needed to be ready.

The more she listened, the more deafening the silence that surrounded her grew. When her fears became too much for her to contain, Sofia finally let go of the bed noticing the deep imprints she had left behind before reaching for her communicator. "Doctor Anderson to Commander Valentine."

For a brief moment, the CMO feared that the delay in the reply meant that the acting CO had been incapable of acknowledging the call and that maybe the rest of the bridge officers were in the same predicament.  Sofia let out a sigh of relief when a reply finally came in a few heartbeats later. =/\= Yes, Doctor? =/\=

"Sorry, I was just wondering when this jump was going to take place."

=/\= It already has Doctor. =/\= Commander Valentine informed.

=/\= Sensors confirm that we are clear across Gorn space. Their nearest monitoring outpost is 21 light-years away, =/\= Lt. Mitshiba added, the woman sounding thrilled by the entire journey.

=/\= Is everything alright Sofia? =/\= Nicole sounded concerned, the Trill clearly having heard something in the CMO's voice that she had tried to hide.

"Everything is fine," the Doctor replied. "I was just expecting there to be some noise or maybe a little rattle. I was not expecting there to be nothing."

=/\= Since the last time the blink drive was used, a lot of modifications were made, =/\= Misaki said thinking that an explanation was in order. =/\= As long as we are able to enter specific coordinates, the HATHOR is able to reach them in mere seconds. The problem is that the drive cannot be used again right away, but we still have our cloaking device to make sure we do not attract any unwanted attention. =/\=

=/\= Sofia, why don't you come to the bridge. Since no one is injured, there is no need for you to be there by yourself. Even if something were to happen, Sickbay is not at all far away from here. You would be able to get back very quickly. That is one of the advantages of being on the HATHOR, everything is so close, =/\= Nicole said, clearly wanting to ease the CMO's nervousness which she had noticed in her friend's voice without effort.

"I'll be right there," Sofia said forcing her fingers into a straighter form. Once the channel was closed, the CMO reached for a muscle relaxant and injected a small dosage directly to the back of her hands to help her regain mobility in her fingers. Once this was done, she fluffed the corner of the bed in an effort to erase the imprint of her earlier death grip on it.

They had traveled beyond the borders of Gorn space without any issues, and this in the span of only a few seconds. The more Sofia thought about this, the more impressed she became, allowing herself to think that maybe this mission would be a quick and simple one.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M08-P004: USS BASTET: Mitshiba: 33119.0830 ("Looking for Something")
"Looking for Something"
Previous posts: (ANU) "Tracking" & (BAS) "In the Blink of an Eye"

///^\\\
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 33119.0830

The trip to this remote location in space had happened quickly and without any problems, and although this was worthy of a celebration, it was nothing more than the first step. Now they needed to figure out where the probe that had been detected had actually gone to. The data collected by the Gorn and intercepted by NEW ALEXANDRIA had been good enough to get the HATHOR and its crew here but that was it. The Asian scientist needed to find a way to trace the whereabouts of this mystery probe starting by where it had appeared and where it was heading.

"Any luck?" Commander Valentine asked, her patience starting to wear thin. Although the HATHOR was not in enemy territory and hidden by the cloaking device, everyone felt a little on edge with having the ship just be there, motionless. Following their arrival, the ship had come to a complete stop and waited for Aki to give some general idea as to a direction to take, but so far the CSciO had been unable to do that.

"The trail of ionized particles left behind by the probe detected by the Gorn was weak when they first discovered it. With the data we had at our disposal, which wasn't all that much, there was no way to know if this trail would degrade faster or slower than normal. Right now, I can't even tell you that something came from another dimension and passed through this region of space, then again the sensors of the BASTET are far better calibrated to detect such occurrences. I am doing my best, but I might need to entirely reconfigure the sensor array, and that might take some time." Aki explained, wishing that she had better news to report, but alas this was the best she had.

"Could the data collected by the Gorn have been wrong?" The woman currently at the helm of the HATHOR asked. "Could the image of the probe have been something else, or even worse, a ruse to draw someone, like us, here to be preyed upon?"

"The sensors may not be able to pick up any signs of that probe or of its possible inter-dimensional trail, but our instruments are more than good enough to detect another ship should there be one in this area," Aki reported, actually sounding relieved that the sensors at shown there to be nothing in this region of space, thus dismissing the ILO's last suggested possibility. "You would think if this was a trap of some sort, they would have left bait, something for whoever came here to focus on and draw their attention away while they moved in. So far, I have not detected anything that could remotely be considered as bait or as someone waiting."

"It would seem that our options are limited," Commander Valentine said. "Either we wait for the blink drive to recharge and return home, or we stay here and expand our search to the best of our current abilities and equipment."

"Given the choices available to us, I say we stay and continue to look for that probe, or whatever that thing that brought us here was," Dalra said. "I would much rather be here than back there," the woman added making her sentiments clear to everyone else.

"I agree," Aki said shortly after, "it would be a shame for us to have made it all the way here only to go back simply because we have not found anything right off the bat. Once the modifications to the sensor array are made, I am sure that we will be able to pick up the probe's trail. In the meantime, may I suggest we initiate a standard spiral search patter? Who knows, maybe we can find traces of the probe through normal means or we might even find something completely unexpected. We are after all far from our regular stomping grounds."

"You have to admire the endless curiosity of anyone in the position of CSciO," the Trill CNS said laughing as she recalled the same thirst for knowledge that another scientist on board the ANUBIS displayed on a daily basis.

"Not sure if that is what I would call it," Commander Valentine said, her seriousness broken only by a quick smirk as she looked at the CSciO. "Helm, start us on a gradually increasing circular search pattern. Lt. Mitshiba, get started on those sensor modifications. Everyone else, enjoy the view, we have no idea how long we will be here."

Aki smiled back and quickly began working on the sensor array. Even if they failed to find the probe, them being here was a golden opportunity for research and discovery, and the Asian scientist could not be happier. Of course, finding traces of the trans-dimensional craft would be a nice bonus, not to mention that it would keep the hopes alive that Captain Iverson might, against all odds, have escaped the Lokustaar and found her way back to this dimension.

///^\\\
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M08-P005: USS BASTET: Gemma: 33119.1900 ("Testing Patience")
=-=
"Testing Patience"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Being Someone Else" / (BAS) "Looking For Something"]
=-=

Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 1, Bridge
Stardate: 33119.1900

It had been over 10 hours since their arrival to this distant region of space. It had also been over 10 hours since their search for the probe had begun. In the heat of action, 10 hours could pass as if they had been mere minutes. This had not been the case here, far from it. Every second of every minute of every hour painfully ticked away. Each was a harsh reminder of their failure.

"I don't get it," Misaki sighed. "The array sensor was modified and tested. Despite that, we still can't pick up any traces of the probe. I even started scanning for dimensional anomalies. I have to consider every possibility as unlikely as it may be. Could the probe have come and gone to another dimension? No matter how carefully we scan, there is nothing out there. This region of space seems to be completely deprived of residual matter or energy."

A hush spread through the bridge. They had done everything they could, and yet had nothing to show for.  After a few minutes, the pilot broke the silence.

"Captain, may I be excuse from the bridge?" Dalra asked. She had been at her post since their departure from NEW ALEXANDRIA.

"I think we could all use a break," Sarena said, rolling her head on her shoulders. "Helm, bring us to a complete stop. Let's take a few minutes to stretch our legs. Maybe looking at something different for a little while will help. We can resume the search for the probe after."

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 3, Engineering
Stardate: 33119.1910

The Varro pilot had left the bridge, needing to stretch her legs. A change of scenery had been in order. Normally, Dalra went to the nearest observation area to look at the stars. The twinkling distant lights were what she found the most relaxing. On board the HATHOR though, that was not a possibility.

That was why Gemma had come to the ship's Engineering section. Here, in relative solitude, she would be able to clear her mind. The rhythmic pulses of the warp core helping her focus her thoughts.

"I have to adapt better than this," the ILO said to herself. "I am part of a crew, and I have to behave as such. I can't hide every chance I get."

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 2, Mess Hall
Stardate: 33119.1920

Gemma walked into the mess hall and found the senior officers sitting around a single table. Likely they were discussing their current situation. The ILO debated what to do and eventually headed for the food replicator. After getting a glass of water she turned her attention to one of the vacant tables.

"Lieutenant," Commander Valentine called out just as the woman was about to sit. "Join us; there is ample room here for another."

Gemma hesitated. Being part of a crew instead of being an independant operative was hard enough. Interacting with those same people in a non-official manner could prove to be very difficult. The ILO eventually conceded and with her glass of water in hand joined the others.

"What is taking Misaki so long?" Doctor Anderson asked. The last time any of them had seen the scientist had been on the bridge.

"I doubt that she will be joining us," the Trill Counselor replied. "She is taking our inability to find the probe rather hard. I suspect that she won't stop until we find something, anything."

"I doubt that she is the only one feeling bad about our not having found anything," Gemma said. Her effort to join in the conversation had been unexpected. The ILO's words triggered a few nods of agreement. It was the scowl from Nicole that she noticed about all else though. A burst of anger flashed in the back of the woman's head. Anya was not too pleased with the Trill and she was not against teaching the CNS a lesson she would not soon forget.

"I hope we do find something soon," Sofia added. Unaware that her words had defused the situation before it became one. "If we go back without finding something, a lot of people are going to be unhappy. Let's face it; we would all be left with a lot of unanswered questions."

"Life is filled with unanswered questions," the ILO offered. Her own life was a sequence of unanswered questions that started with the one that plagued her every day. Who was she? From that fateful day in one of the labs in NEW ALEXANDRIA, that question haunted her. No matter how hard she searched, the answers could never be found.  "With your permission Commander, I will go and check on Misaki."

The gathered officers quickly understood that this had not been a question. Gemma had already stood from her chair making her way out of the Mess Hall, her glass of water left behind.

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 2, Mess Hall
Stardate: 33119.1940

It was not Gemma who walked onto the bridge but rather Wimdalli. The Uxali scientist had been thinking about their situation since leaving the Mess Hall.

"Any luck?" Misaki was so engulfed in her work that she did not even realize who had asked the question.

"No," came the unenthusiastic reply. "There is nothing. No traces of the probe or anything else for that matter."

"Maybe you are trying too hard. You might be looking at this from an unwavering perspective. Space is immense, just as the number of possibilities it holds. Whatever you do though, don't give up," Wimda said. "It is the absence of any findings that holds the greatest potential for discovery."

The CSciO paused for a moment, letting the words that had just been spoken wash over her. "Absence of any findings... of course," Misaki's demeanour instantly brightened up. Without wasting a moment, she reached for her communicator and tapped it. "Bridge to Commander Valentine, I think I've figured it out. I know why we have not been able to pick up any traces of the probe."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Intel Operative
USS BASTET

[The fun is getting to wear multiple disguises and getting to explore multiple personalities and bring them to life. - Jenna Fischer]
M08-P006: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33119.2000 ("Path of Nothingness")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Path of Nothingness"
[previous post (ANU) "Darker Horizons" / (BAS) "Testing Patience")]

Setting:  USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 33119.2000

The Executive Officer of the BASTET, now acting Commanding Officer of the HATHOR stepped onto the bridge to see the Uxali scientist standing behind their Chief Science Officer, Lt. Mitshiba. The moment their eyes met, the woman known as Wimdalli vanished to be replaced by the ILO who quickly moved away as if not wanting to be involved with what was about to happen.

"What did you find?" Doctor Andersson asked, her curiosity making her jump ahead of Sarena who was momentarily distracted.

"I could not understand why we were unable to pick up anything," Misaki began. "I mean not just the probe, but particles or other matter that should normally be present in space. There was nothing at all. I never considered the possibility of this nothingness being a natural phenomenon."

"A natural phenomenon?" Valentine asked, turning her attention away from Gemma and onto Misaki. "What do you mean?"

"Phenomenon like this have been identified and clearly mapped throughout the Federation and in surrounding areas, but here, on the other side of Gorn space, things like this have not been cataloged. I will say that this one has to be one of the largest I have ever seen, but I still should have thought of this as a possible explanation as to why our sensors picked up nothing even after the modifications."

"Misaki," Counselor Dima said. "You are rambling, so slow down and focus on what you want to say."

"Sorry about that," the CSciO apologized. "We are in the middle of what if referred to as 'negative space'. I will skip the detailed explanation as to what this is and how it works. All you need to know to understand what is happening is that our instruments are unable to detect anything within this type of space. The largest encountered area of 'negative space' by a Federation vessel was a roughly spherical area less than a few kilometers across. The space we landed in the middle of appears to be several lightyears across and appears to be of a cylindrical shape instead of spherical. I'm not sure what the cause of this phenomenon is, but it does seem that the probe arrived as we did, right in the middle of it, and followed its path."

"That is going to make things slightly more difficult," Sarena said as if the challenges of their current mission had not been enough. "How do we proceed?"

"As long as we remain inside this anomaly, our sensors will be useless. The only way to get any sort of readings is for us to make our way to the outer edge and scan around the phenomenon for traces of the probe as it exited the 'negative space' corridor." The CSciO explained.

"The HATHOR will need to perform a continuous circular path around the corridor to make sure our instruments can get a complete readout. To follow the corridor on a straight line would only give us a partial picture and we could completely miss the point of exit and flight path of the probe," Dalra said, the Varro pilot having returned to the ship's helm. "It should not be all that difficult to do this. I can use the sensors to plot the outer edge of this corridor and keep the HATHOR a few kilometers above it. This should allow us to have a fair enough sensor range while keeping the extra travel distance to as little as possible. This flight path though is going to add a lot of time on our journey to wherever that corridor leads to."

"It will be better than us going around in circles," Sarena said heading for her chair. "Take us out of this negative space and plot a course according to the last known direction of the probe."

"Aye, Aye, Captain," the Varro pilot said, gladly acknowledging the order. At least now, as the Executive Officer had just said, they would be going somewhere.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting:  USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 33120.0900

Getting out of the negative space had not been all that difficult, and thanks to the expertise of their acting FCO, following the invisible corridor had also not been overly demanding. The real first problem they encountered was the actual size of this phenomenon which extended to well over 4 lightyears in width and stretched out beyond their ability to detect. This meant that thanks to the forced new flight path, their actual forward progression had been greatly reduced.

The crew had accepted the fact that the search for the probe would not be a quick mission, and Sarena could only draw some minor comfort in that anyone else trying to find the same objective would be faced with equal difficulties.

Now into their second day of search in an unknown sector of space, the small crew of the HATHOR had gradually taken on a routine that helped them deal with the monotony of their task.

"Commander Valentine, we might have found something." the pilot reported causing everyone present on the bridge to look up at the main view screen. There, in the middle of the negative space corridor, was a small planet.

"Is that an actual planet?" Sarena asked, not sure if this was a good find or not.

"Looks like it," Mitshiba replied. "I would say that its size is approximately that of Mercury or Mars. Hard to tell without sensors which is also part of the problem. While inside the negative space corridor there is no way for us to scan the planet for signs of the probe. Our only way option is for us to do a visual survey of the surface and see if we can detect something that would lead us to believe the probe crashed on the surface."

"I really do not think we have a choice here," Sarena said clearly unimpressed. "Our mission is to find the probe, so we cannot leave any possibilities unchecked."

"Changing course to bring us back into the corridor. We should be in orbit of that planet in a few minutes," the pilot announced, anticipating the acting Captain's next orders.

Since sensors would not be functional while in orbit of the planet, the HATHOR was brought in to a tight low orbit allowing for all eyes to help in the search via the main viewscreen. The planet appeared as a barren desert world with a few scattered small village-like settlements. No roads or any signs of technology could be seen, which actually made the search for any indication of a crash that much easier.  It took several more hours but finally, the crew saw what they had been looking for, a large straight crevice that seemed to have been carved into the surface of the planet.

"Your orders Captain?" The Varro pilot asked.

"How is the cloaking device?" Sarena replied.

"The cloaking device does not appear t be affected by this negative space," Mitshiba replied. "I believe that it would be safe for us to land, at least a lot safer than trying to use the transporter as there would be no way for us to lock in or even guess as to any set of coordinates."

"This does seem o be one of those missions where we have very little say in what or how we do things," Nicole said, trying to keep a good humor about the situation.

"Helm, take us down. Land the ship a few hundred meters away so as to not disturb the crash site," Sarena ordered causing Dalra to immediately comply.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting:  Okari homeworld
Stardate: 33120.1215

The Okari hunting party sought refuge when the wind suddenly picked up causing a wall of dust and sand to blow through their long blue hair. They waited behind whatever cover they could find, curious as to what transgression had summoned this wrath upon them. Just as the lead hunter was about to motion for his men to move, a strange noise caused them to hide once more. They watched in stunned horror as a portal opened and members of another tribe stepped out to step foot on their land.

They appeared as they did, with two arms, two legs, and a face that closely resembled their own. The most obvious difference was the color of their hair and the garments they wore identifying them as a tribe they had never before seen or heard of.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P007: USS BASTET: Andersson: 33120.1230 ("Just Another Desert Planet")
=-=
"Just Another Desert Planet"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Time For A Breakthrough" by Jessica / (BAS) "Path of Nothingness" by Karen]
=-=

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains
Stardate: 33120.1230 

The ship's sensors didn't work, and tricorders were just as useless. That is why Sofia had to resort to basic chemical field tests to make sure that the atmosphere of this planet was safe.

"This could be worse," Nic said looking at the barren horizon before dropping her gaze to her feet to see the sand gathering on her EVA covered feet.

"This place seems to be nothing more than an endless beach without the benefits of an ocean," Sofia argued. "What would possibly be worse than all this sand?"

"Snow," the Counselor replied in a matter-of-fact manner, the one-word answer being more than enough to make them bore remember a certain ice world located deep inside Romulan space.

"You win," Sofia sadly admitted giving the set of vials she was holding another good shake to make sure all of the chemical reactants had been triggered.

"What are the results of your tests, Doctor?" Commander Valentine asked looking at the CMO through the clear facemask of her EVA suit.

"The atmosphere of this world appears to be a little richer in oxygen than what we are used to, and there does not seem to be any dangerous airborne bacteria present, at least as far as I can detect. These field tests are rather limited as to what they can detect," Doctor Andersson reported, looking at half a dozen small vials of clear liquid in her hand. Officially the tests were over, but the CMO was still waiting to see if one or more of the vials would change color indicating that there was something to be concerned about. She glared at them as if trying to will this change to happen to give them an excuse to return to the HATHOR and prove to her friend that this place was actually worse than the ice planet of JDO-SHEN.

Sofia eventually gave up on seeing the liquid change color and turned her attention onto the Commander. It was at that moment that the physician saw the Captain removing her headgear. By the time the rest of the officers noticed this unexpected turn of events, it was already too late.

"The air does seem to be fresher, although there is an odd odor floating about," Sarena said.

"COMMANDER!" Nicole hollered. "What are you thinking? You cannot take these kinds of risks. As a ship's ExO and away team leader, you did have a greater latitude in what you could do, but you are also our one and only Commanding Officer. You cannot take such risks, especially when the next ranking officers, one of whom could have to take command, are Gemma and Aki."

Commander Valentine just stood there, looking back at the Counselor, trying to say something but all that she could manage was an accepting nod of her head. Visibly troubled by this, Sarena turned away and looked at the open hatch of the HATHOR's airlock.

Feeling troubled by what had just taken place; Sofia put the field test kit down on the sandy ground by her feet and removed her own headgear. "You are right," the CMO said causing everyone to quickly turn around at the Doctor. "There is an odd smell in the air. Maybe this is caused by whatever giant sandworms roam this planet."

"Giant sandworms?" Dima repeated while shaking her head. "This planet is not ARRAKIS."

"Are you sure?" Andersson said, looking around them as if fearing that something would attack them. "We have not been stomping the ground, so we should be safe from those worms for the time being, but those Fremen can be quite sneaky. We should be careful."

"I am quite sure that there are no sandworms or Fremen on this world," Commander Valentine said in a reassuring tone, not trying to hide her amusement at the Doctor's attempt to lighten the mood.

"Fine, then maybe we found our way to TATOOINE. There seems to be more than enough sand for this planet to qualify, and we have yet to encounter any of those small robbed robot thieves or those tall, staff yielding, nomads."

"I think you are suffering from a severe case of an overactive imagination," Valentine laughed. "Had we come to this place on board the BASTET, I might have given you the possibility of us being in another dimension where those worlds could be real, but I am afraid that this is just another desert planet like so many others in the galaxy."

"A desert planet with an oxygen atmosphere without any signs of vegetation or other sources of photosynthesis," Misaki said as she rejoined the group. "Call this planet whatever you want, I'm, calling it strange and unusual."

"I think that the planet being strange just became a less important issue," Nic said as she pointed to a group of heads that had just appeared behind a rock formation. "We are not alone here," the Counselor added, noting to herself the odd blue color of their hair.

"They appear to be humanoid, and relatively timid by the looks of things," Misaki observed. "Although we are not seeing only their heads, I would say based on first observations that their technology appears to be quite limited," the CSciO added.

"Is that a spear in their hands?" Sofia gasped as the handful of humanoid natives suddenly stood, the weapons that had been in their hands already flying through the air in the direction of the HATHOR's crew.

The long-bladed spears embedded into the sand surrounding the away team, making it clear that they were not to move. If they did, the odds were well in favor of the native inhabitants that the next volley would be more than a simple warning.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M08-P008: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33120.1245 ("Language Barrier")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Language Barrier"
[previous post (ANU) "Trying Not To Think" / (BAS) "Just Another Desert Planet")]

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains  
Stardate: 33120.1245

The Executive Officer stood ready for a fight as the away team found themselves in the middle of a spear-made circle. Whoever these blue-haired natives of this world were, they were the quiet sorts, letting the points of their weapons speak.

"They do not appear to be looking for a fight," the Trill Counselor said. "If they had, I am sure that one or more of those spears around us would have found their mark instead."

"It would seem so," Sarena cautiously agreed. "The question is, what do they want?"

"Ekki hreyfa!" The lead hunter said in a commanding manner as he and the others moved in with their spears pointed directly at the members of the crew.

"Either the universal translators, like our sensors, are being affected by this negative space, or there is no common base for the computer to figure out what is being said," Misaki theorized.

"Either way, we don't know what they are saying to us," Doctor Andersson added, not at all pleased about the situation they were in.

"Right now, the best course of action would be for us not to engage. We have no reasons to provoke them, and if we are lucky we might be able to learn from them the location of the probe we are here for," the Executive Officer said keeping her eyes on the lead hunter.

The two groups remained motionless for quite some time as they sized each other leading the Counselor to finally break the silence by whispering to the acting Captain. "With your permission, I would like to try and communicate with them."

"Be my guess Counselor. It can't be any worse then us being here like this."

Nicole nodded and turned to face the lead hunter, presenting her opened hands as a show of peace. "We mean you no harm. We are simply here searching for something. We believe that it crashed over there."

The expression on the blue-haired people made it evident that they understood nothing of what had just been said. "Nic," Sofia offered as she carefully moved closer to the CNS. "You might have better luck using some sort of sign language."

"Even basic sign language requires a common understanding which right now we do not have," Nicole explained. "Pointing to the crater where be believe the probe may have crashed could be understood in a variety of ways that would have nothing to do with the crater or what it is we are searching for."

"Stoova!"

The abruptness of the command made every freeze, unsure if someone had done or said something to anger the hunters or their leader who appeared rather puzzled by the Counselor's extended arm and finger.

"See," Sofia teased. "Sign language does work."

"Quiet," Sarena snapped in a whispered voice. As much as it did appear they had made some progress in regards to communication with the humanoid life forms found on this planet, there was still no way for any of them to get a solid grasp of what it was that had been understood. The blue-haired hunters did seem to be making an effort to understand the strange visitors to their world, but the sharp points of their spears still meant that the situation was far from being a friendly one.

Following a short discussion between them, the group of hunters approached and carefully retrieved the spears that had been sent to surround the crew of the HATHOR.

"Are we free to go?" Misaki asked, thinking that things had not been as bad as they could have been.

"I am not sure," Commander Valentine cautioned being very aware that the spears in the hands of the hunters were still being pointed at them in what could easily be perceived to be a threatening manner.

"Fylgja."

"I may not understand their verbal language, but the body language is loud and clear," Counselor Dima said. "They want us to go with them."

"We have no idea where they want to take us," Doctor Andersson objected.

"I do not believe that we are in any position to argue at this time," Sarena said. "Without sensors, communications or universal translators, we have very limited options. Since I do not believe we are in any immediate danger, we are best to do as they ask. We need to build some level of trust between us as we are likely going to need their help at some point in this mission."

Reluctantly the rest of the away team agreed and followed the Executive Officer as they were being escorted to a yet to be determined location.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]  
Setting: HATHOR, Air Lock  
Stardate: 33120.1300

Through the opened doorway, Gemma watched with interest as Commander Valentine and the others were being taken away at spear point. The quick glance from Sarena made it clear that the acting Captain wanted the ILO to remain unseen, but that did not mean that she was not to follow. No knowing where they were being taken or even why meant that it was prudent to have someone nearby to make sure nothing happened to the away team.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P009: USS BASTET: Gemma: 33120.1500 ("Cool Tracking")
=-=
"Cool Tracking"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Pushing The Limits" / (BAS) "Language Barrier"]
=-=

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains
Stardate: 33120.1500

The heat was intense but the Russian huntress was not bothered by it. Anya had dealt with much less hospitable environments than this, but there was one aspect of this world she hated. The bare open plains made it very difficult for her to remain hidden from her prey. The rocks she could use to escape from sight were few and far in between. This meant that at any moment she could be discovered if she followed too closely.

Not knowing the extent of the hearing and sight capabilities of the local inhabitants added a layer of difficulty to her task. In order to keep her presence unknown, she needed to use every trick at her disposal. This meant that every so often the ILO would crawl through whatever shallow ravine she came across. The advantage in doing this was that her hair blended well with the surrounding rusty color of the hard soil. It was not much, but it made the woman following the group that much less visible to them.

Whenever the group would stop, Anya would follow suit and study the interaction from afar. She could not hear them, but their body gesture spoke volume. So far, the other members of the crew did not appear to be in any immediate danger. The hunters seemed content with the escort they were providing although referring to them as such bothered the Russian.

The lack of any visible game for the blue-haired inhabitant to pursue troubled her. The humanoids living on this world had displayed skill with their chosen weapons. This hinted to a fair amount of practice and their need to be experts, but against what?  No signs of any aerial life forms had been seen, and so far no traces of land animals had been encountered. The only tracks visible were those left by the group as they made their way to some large hill in the distance. As much as this made her tracking easier, it presented the hunter with a puzzling mystery.

The more she followed, the less Anya believed that the armed inhabitants were simple hunters. If they had been, why be so far away from the creatures they normally chased? The Russian could not accept that their proximity to the probe's crash site was a mere coincidence. Experience had taught her that coincidence was nothing more than a fool's explanation. Nothing in this universe just happened for no reason. Stars followed a specific set of cosmic rules and every life form did just the same. Those rules might change from planet to planet, but the core remained the same no matter what. Survival was the driving force in the universe, just as it was now for the crew of the HATHOR. Commander Valentine followed the local inhabitant in order to survive the encounter. Discovering what had happened to the probe would only be a side effect. Misaki and Sofia followed their Captain because they too wanted to survive. Both women knew that their odds were much greater if they remained together. Even Anya had to admit that she did what she was doing for that same reason. Her own survival depended, for the moment, on the continued existence of the others. Although alien, this new concept would not be challenged by the Russian huntress, at least not at this time.

Keeping what she believed to be a safe distance from the group, Anya continued following them. The trek was long but the hill they were heading for gradually grew larger. There was no way for her to know how far they had traveled or how much further they needed to go. All that the ILO knew was that she needed to continue, learning as much as she could along the way. It was when she hid down another small ravine that another discovery was made. The Russian huntress had no shadow. A quick search of the sky above revealed no sun or source of light. Although this explained the lack of a shadow, it created several more questions.

This world was a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The humanoid life form they encountered fell into the same general description. There was something odd about all of this. The planet hiding inside a corridor of negative space was just the tip of the iceberg. The world and the inhabitants were just pieces of a much larger puzzle that Anya could not yet understand. The only way to get to the bottom of this was for her to continue her tracking. More clues were sure to be found along the way. Both Commander Valentine and the ILO would use these clues in order to make sense of whatever this was. Before that though, everyone needed to focus on their first and most important priority – survival.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Intel Operative
USS BASTET

[The fun is getting to wear multiple disguises and getting to explore multiple personalities and bring them to life. - Jenna Fischer]
M08-P010: USS BASTET: Andersson: 33120.1615 ("Hazy Destination")
=-=
"Hazy Destination"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Flash News Bulleting" by Marissa / (BAS) "Cool Tracking" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains
Stardate: 33120.1615 

If walking on this hot desert planet without any possibility of shade was not bad enough, doing so with a dozen or so spears pointing at them only exasperated the physician's feelings about the whole affair.

"You know," Sofia quietly complained to Nic who was walking right next to her. "If they wanted to kill us, they could just have used those spears instead of trying to turn us into dried up raisins."

"I am sure that Misaki would theorize that they have a higher resistance to heat, or that their biology is more adapted to life in an environment such as this."

"Why are you finding all of this fascinating?" Sofia demanded. "For all we know they could be taking us to their village so that they can devour us. Not sure if you noticed, but there doesn't appear to be a great deal of game for them to hunt."

"Why are you finding all of this so scary?" Nicole countered. "I think they are behaving in a very civilized manner given that they just encountered a group of aliens. Based simply on where we found this planet, it is unlikely that they get a lot of visitors."

"And that is part of the reason why I am surprised that these blue-haired savages have not turned us into shish kabob with those spears of theirs," the physician said, glaring at the nearest hunter. "Those blades look sharp enough to cut through a Klingon's thick hide, and I have no way to medically treat whatever injuries they end up inflicting on us."

"You are overreacting, Sofia," Nic said shaking her head. "If they were truly afraid of us to the point of wanting us harm, we would not be having this conversation as they would have treated us as a possible hostile threat from the moment they saw us."

"So you want me to believe that being held at spear-point by these savages is something perfectly normal and safe?"

Counselor Dima could see that Doctor Andersson was getting increasingly upset. As much as the Trill could understand this frustration, Nicole also knew that nothing good could come out of anyone being in that state.

"Færa!" One of the hunters commanded from the rear. Although the CNS did not understand the language, she again clearly understood the intent, the man with the blue hair urging the group to keep up with their leader who was not in the least bothered by the dry heat of this desert world.

"I hate this place," Sofia grumbled. "I hate these people, and worse of all is that I hate this heat."

Nicole just smiled and shook her head. "Look on the bright side. At least here we are not locked way in the underground of a frozen planet."

"We do seem to have a way of finding ourselves on the most desolate worlds, don't we?" The physician rhetorically asked, doing her best to keep up with the others so as to not trigger the anger of their escort.

=-=
Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains
Stardate: 33120.1715 

After another hour of traveling, the world felt hotter and drier, and with each step they took, Sofia's thirst grew. Clearly, the blue-haired native inhabitants of this inhospitable desert planet had evolved to not require as much water if any at all, but that discovery was of little comfort for the away team.

"Are we there yet?" Doctor Andersson asked, the whining in her voice causing everyone else to glare in her direction.

"Parna!" The lead hunter announced, pointing with his spear toward a specific point on the shimmering horizon, somewhere between the distant mountain and their current location.

"What is he pointing at?" Sofia grumblingly asked, unable to see anything.

"There eyes must have adapted to see through the effect of heat haze," Misaki said, the woman never stopping being a scientist, even for a single second, no matter how bad or uncomfortable the situation was.

"Whatever he is pointing at, I hope it means that we are almost wherever we are supposed to be going. I think the blisters on my feet have blisters of their own," Doctor Andersson said. the heat and general discomfort made her into an annoying complainer testing the patience of everyone around her.

"I think I see something," Misaki announced. "I think it's a small village."

"I don't care anymore," Sofia lamented. "As long as there is some shade and water, I no longer care what they do to us once we get there. I just want to no longer be under an open sky where the sun doesn't seem to want to stop pounding down on us." As the physician looked up to cast an accusatory glare at the offending sphere she expected to find, she realized for the first time that there was no sun to be seen. Whatever light and heat they felt came from somewhere else.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M08-P011: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33120.1730 ("Tests")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Tests"
[previous post (ANU) "Old Fashion Tech" / (BAS) "Hazy Destination")]

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Isolated Village
Stardate: 33120.1730   

The journey to wherever this place was had been demanding, on so many levels. Without any possibilities of shade, the relentless heat had made it difficult to breathe, increasing the need for water with each step. The firmness of the desert plains they were traveling on created an unforgiving surface that added to the general demands of their steps. Then, as if everything else had not been enough, there was the CMO's constant complaining which all too often proved to be the one aspect that risked putting an end to their journey and mission.

For over the last 4 and a half hours the away team had walked through this desolate land to reach this place and the Executive Officer wondered if this had been the right decision every step along the way. Confronting the blue-haired natives would not have resolved anything and could have easily led to those she was responsible for from suffering severe injuries. That possibility along with their mission to retrieve the probe had left Valentine with few options.

With the small settlement now in sight, Sarena hoped that her decision to have the team follow would be vindicated. The closer they came to the village, the larger the mountains beyond the hazy horizon appeared to be. This only added to the whole scene appearing even more surreal, as it taken from a strange and twisted dream.

"Commander," the CSciO whispered as she quickly moved alongside the Acting Commanding Officer. "There does not appear to be any sort of well or source of water. In fact, I can't see any reason as to why this settlement was established here instead of anywhere else."

"Guess we'll just have to add that to the list of strange and weird things we have come across since leaving the HATHOR behind," Sarena said, the woman had given up trying to make sense of what they were dealing with. A hot, desert planet without a visible sun to account for the light and heat. A group of skilled hunters without any visible prey, as far as the eyes could see, for them to hunt. Now, a settlement set in the middle of nowhere as if it had just been randomly established without any logical reason. If it was not for the voyage that had taken them here, Valentine might have believed this to be nothing more than a dream that she would wake up from at any moment now.

"How is this supposed to help us," Doctor Andersson complained as she saw the nomadic buildings that made up the settlement. "The roofs are made of some sort of mesh, which means that it won't offer any real shade, not that it would matter since there is no actual source for this light and heat. My guess is that the HATHOR didn't bring us to the other side of Gorn space but rather to the innermost circle of hell itself."

"With all of the complaining you have been doing, I am starting to agree with you," Sarena said, instantly regretting her words. This had been difficult on all of them and as the Executive Officer and Acting Commanding Officer; she needed to be more in control of her emotions. "Excuse me," Valentine said addressing the lead hunter. "Do you have any water, something for us to drink?" Knowing that the verbal language was limited, she added whatever gestures she could come up with to help carry the need and importance of her request.

To everyone's surprise, the lead hunter vanished into one of the buildings coming back out shortly after with what appeared to be a couple of large clay-made amphoric style pottery. By the perceived heaviness of these, everyone quickly concluded that they contained the requested liquid or some type of facsimile that they would all be more than happy to accept.  Cupping their hands together, the members of the team welcomed the liquid without ever questioning its origin or possible effects.

"Where did this water come from?" Misaki asked, a quick glance into the building from which the containers had been brought out from revealing no well or any other possible source of water. If their instruments worked, she would at least be able to scan the liquid and confirm its molecular make-up, or at the very least see if there was something that they should be concerned about in it.

"I don't care," Sofia said, slurping the liquid from her hands. "It cold, refreshing and even tastes like water. I am well past the point of asking any questions as to what this is or even where it came from, in fact, I think it might be better if I don't know."

"Vatn," the lead hunter said, encouraging the members of the team to drink as much as they could.

"See!" the CMO quickly pointed out, "it is water and he wants us to drink it."

No one, especially not the Doctor, understood the language of the blue-haired natives, the best they could do was hope that she was right. As Counselor Dima had pointed out at some point before, if they had truly wanted them dead, they would have already acted accordingly. The one thing that remained in Sarena's thoughts was the possibility of them having brought them here for another reason, one that would prove just as dangerous for them.

Once everyone's thirst was quenched while under the close watch of the hunters who had escorted them to this place, the leader motioned for them to follow him "Koma!"

"Looks like he wants us to follow him," Misaki said, the gestures made had been more than clear in that regards.

"I hope they have a nice cool pool hidden somewhere nearby," Sofia said, still drinking the liquid that was being poured into her hands.

"I don't think we are being taken to a pool or somewhere where we will be able to rest," Nicole said noticing what appeared to be some sort of makeshift arena, the outer limit of which being set by spears driven into the ground.

"By the looks of things, I would guess that we are about to be told to fight," Sarena said, the almost 8 feet tall giant waiting for them in the middle of the arena appearing rather muscular and unfriendly. Surrounded by hunters pointing their spears at them, there was little choice for them. The one advantage seemed to be that the man waiting for them was unarmed.

The moment they entered the arena, the fighter lunged at the closest member of the team, which was the CSciO, Lt. Mitshiba. The size of his hands easily dwarfed the woman's frame, making it easy for him to take hold of her before tossing her body clear across the arena. With nowhere to hide, the away team did their best to avoid the fighter's attacks, but his speed proved to be as formidable as his size.

Once everyone was down, the giant approached Sarena, an expression of disappointment visible on his dirt-stained face. Just as he reached down to grab the concerned woman; something pushed him clean off his feet causing the man to fall like a mighty tree. All eyes turned onto the person who had accomplished this, and whatever their personal feelings might have been about her, they were all very glad to see the ILO standing there ready to deal with whatever else was sent their way.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P012: USS BASTET: Gemma: 33120.1800 ("Winning Conditions")
=-=
"Winning Conditions"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Through The Shadows" / (BAS) "Tests"]
=-=

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Desert Plains
Stardate: 33120.1800

Her red hair flowed in the hot dry wind as the Russian Huntress stood in a low to the ground combat posture. Those blue-haired hunters brought them here, in this arena, for no other reason than to fight. Therefore, it made sense to have Anya be the one to join in -- Hunter-to-hunter.  Initially, Yshuni Talz was the one who wanted to step in, the blue-haired Kotakian certain she was the best person to help. Although she preferred to serve drinks, her skills as a listener would have been perfect. It might have taken some time, but she was confident in learning their language. That was if they spoke more than a single word at a time.

At one point, even Ema Fairchild offered to step forward. For some reason, the Oltharian Priestest believed that she could bridge the gap between them. As a warrior, she could understand the driving forces of the blue-haired escort. As a priestess her belief that all life is sacred would ensure a peaceful exchange.

Following the attack against her shipmates by the towering giant there was only one possible choice. The assault demanded that it was the Huntress to step forward and make her presence known.  Most would have been concerned with going up against such an imposing being. The muscle structure of his arms alone would make most Klingons think twice. As for the red-haired huntress, she looked at the blue-haired hulk with a smile. At his size, the vulnerable targets on his massive body were just that much easier to hit.

"Gemma?" Counselor Dima asked in a way that confused the Russian Huntress. Why had she called out the name of the ILO? Granted her skills might have been good enough, but she had not been the one in the arena.

"Disable only, do not kill him." Anya shot a quick glare at Sarena. The beast had knocked everyone down, threatened everyone's lives, and still, the Commander wanted to play nice. It was one of the many drawbacks of following the rules set by Starfleet. It was also one of the reasons the Russian Huntress had followed Gemma. Outside of the Federation's sphere of influence, they could do whatever they needed to do in order to get the job done.

With her new instructions, the redhead Russian altered her stance. She had knocked him down once; doing it again would not be a problem. Once back on his feet, the giant glared at her. Seeing this would have terrified many but not Anya. The Russian Huntress had dealt with much worse over the years. That is why she actually smiled, easily predicting that he would move his left leg forward first while raising his right arm over his head. The force of the blow would be impressive, likely able to shatter bones. Of course, in order to do that though he would need to hit his intended target first.

It took little effort for the Huntress to avoid the giant's punch. By the time he realized he had missed, the target had already moved up his arm. Trained as she was, Anya quickly wrapped her legs around the neck of the hulk-like man. Using his already unbalanced stance along with her own momentum, she easily brought him crashing to the ground.

Returning to a stand-by combat posture, the Russian Huntress noticed the way everyone around her was intently watching. It made sense for the members of her crew to cheer her on. What seemed out of place was that the blue-haired aliens were doing the same. She might have been wrong, but it seemed that they were on her side. Why force them to fight this giant if they actually wanted to see their guests win? It made no sense.

This place was already strange enough without adding this to the mix. Every time the giant crashed to the ground, the cheers of admiration confused her a little more. There was no arguing that in some way Anya liked the reaction of the crowd. Never before had she been a gladiator fighting to the encouragement of others. When she was forced to fight, the Russian did so in order to save her life. When she won, it was usually at the discontent of those around her at the time. 

After sending the giant crashing to the ground for the sixth time, she grew tired of this repetitious game. Her opponent clearly was not smart enough to adapt his tactics. Even if he had, it would only serve to break the monotony of this pointless confrontation. He was stronger, there was no denying that. Her skill, speed, and expertise in combat though clearly gave her an insurmountable advantage. Anya needed to end this fight before someone actually got hurt.

So, instead of releasing her hold on his neck, she used her legs to squeeze as hard as possible once he was once again down. Making sure that she was applying pressure at the right location, the giant quickly lost consciousness. The cheers that immediately followed were louder than any other before.  Anya met the eyes of the lead hunter, trying to understand what this had all been about. All she got was a delighted smile as he pointed to the distant mountain set against the horizon.

"Was this nothing more than a test? Something for us to prove that we were somehow worthy?" The Russian Huntress asked, her frustration clearly showing.

"We have no idea how these people think, and even less on how their culture works," Nicole said.

"We don't even have an idea as to how this place works," Misaki added. "We have heat and light without there being a sun. This planet doesn't make sense, so why would the inhabitants do so?"

"Whatever is going on, it would seem that we won the right to move on," Sarena said.

"Does that mean we have to walk again?" Sofia wasted no time to voice her discontent. "It could take us days to reach that mountain."

"She is right," Misaki agreed. "With the manner in which the ground appears to be, there is no way for us to get an accurate feel of distances."

"I really don't think that we have much of a choice. We have a mission to complete, and right now, these people are our only lead. We may have better luck finding the probe there." Gemma said, the ILO now standing where Anya had been mere seconds ago. "It may not be what any of us wants, but it is what we have to do. I am sure that we will reach the mountain faster than he expected."

Following the ILO's finger pointing to the mountain, everyone suddenly became completely silent. Somehow, the mountain had gone from being a distant hazy objective to being less than 100 meters away. No one could have expected this to happen, and no one, not even Misaki, could explain how it had happened. The rocky structure stretched for kilometers to either side and seemed to touch the sky in its height. If that was not impressive enough, the large stone-carved doors now in front of them made everyone feel even smaller. They appeared large enough to allow the BASTET to fly through with room to spare.

As if all of this was perfectly normal, the lead hunter made his way to the doors. With a motion of his hand, he invited the Starfleet Officers to follow. For understandable reasons, they all hesitated before turning to their own leader. Commander Valentine was at a loss for words.

"Instant teleportation?" Sofia asked, sounding rather pleased that she would not have to walk.

"Possibly some sort of miniaturization," Misaki added. This was the only way she could accept the size of the structure and doors now before them.

"Could all of this be nothing more than us being inside a fancy holodeck?" Gemma wondered. "It would explain a great many things."

"Maybe. Any of these suggested possibilities could be true. Then again, we could be dealing with something completely different." Sarena was awestruck as she looked at the massive doors now in front of them. "There is only one way for us to find out," she added motioning for everyone to walk towards the gigantic doors.

Gemma complied, although reluctantly. Never before had she felt so small, almost insignificant. She was no stranger to things hiding behind doors, but the size of these made this something completely unknown to her.

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Intel Operative
USS BASTET

[The fun is getting to wear multiple disguises and getting to explore multiple personalities and bring them to life. - Jenna Fischer]
M08-P013: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33120.1830 ("Beyond Reality")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"Beyond Reality"
[previous post (ANU) "Inescapable Death" / (BAS) "Winning Conditions")]

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Inside the Mountain
Stardate: 33120.1830   

Stepping through the immense stone doors, everyone in their own way expected to find something equally imposing inside. The intricacy of the carvings hinted to an ancient intellect being responsible for the structure and everything that surrounded it. With such power, there was no telling what they might encounter, and with the possibility that they had somehow found their way inside some sort of fancy oversized simulation meant that anything was truly possible. Despite all of this, no one could have expected to find what they discovered inside the mountain.

"We are inside the mountain, right?" Doctor Andersson asked as she gazed at the sight far over their heads.

"Could it be some sort of holographic display?" Lt. Mitshiba offered as a possible explanation for what they were seeing.

"Why would there be this level of technology inside while there is nothing remotely close outside?" Counselor Dima argued. "Could we be looking at some sort of social divide?"

"Looking at this, I have no idea what to believe," Gemma said, the perfect starscape over their heads making them feel as if they were floating in space.

"What kind of being lives in a place like this?" Commander Valentine asked of no one, in particular, simply voicing her amazement at what they were all seeing.

"No one special," the answer was offered, the word as well as their author unexpected in so many different ways. "I am just a man who has chosen to lose himself in the void found in the emptiness between the stars. Someone who delights in watching and listening to the never-ending stories of the universe."

The man appeared humanoid, not taller or shorter than would have been expected. He just seemed to be like anyone that they might have run into, putting aside the expectations created by the area they were currently in. Just listening to him, it was clear that his verbal communication skills were much more developed than those of the blue-haired hunters the away team had encountered. There was also a strange perception of an ageless wisdom in his voice.

"We are sorry to barge in like this. I am Commander Sarena Valentine, acting Commanding Officer of the USS HATHOR."

"I know who you are," the man said, his voice soothing whipping away concerns that had not yet begun to form. "I know who you all are and even why you are here," he added, as a beam of light appeared to shine directly over the probe they had followed to this location. "I am known by countless names, but today you can call me Adrien."

"Adrien?" Gemma said, trying to sound suspicious but find it impossible to hold on to that feeling. There was something about this man, this Adrien, that was different, and that was the only thing the ILO could try to hold against him.

With a motion of her hand, Sarena instructed Misaki to investigate the probe. After all that they had gone through to find it, it made sense for them to confirm that this was the object they were after.

"You must be tired after your long journey. Please, have a seat, rest, replenish yourselves." With a motion of his hand, Adrien made a lavish feast appear on a large carve wooden table that seemed to have been taken directly from EARTH during the days of Knights and chivalry.

"Countless names?" Sofia chuckled. "Would one of them have been Merlin by any chance?"

"No," Adrien replied with a smile. "That name belongs to another, but I know of his stories, of his adventures, and of his pain. Today though, we should be talking of happier times and adventures. So come, I promise you that there is no trickery. Your instruments may not be able to confirm my words, but you have my guarantee that everything here, in this place, is completely safe and will in no way harm you."

Sarena felt no hesitation in accepting Adrien's offer. Normally, she should have questioned everything about this, but somehow she trusted the man and by the looks of things so did everyone else.

"Smells like the home cook meals I used to enjoy back home when I was a child," Sofia said, looking at the wide variety of foods before her. "But I will say this, those meals never looked this good."

"You even have food from the Trill homeworld here," Nicole happily noted. "How is that possible?"

"My question is how are you able to so perfectly trick our senses?" No matter the situation, Misaki was a scientist and looked upon the world around her with a unique perspective. "Is this place even real or are you managing to make us experience something that is purely in our minds?"

Adrien laughed. "I assure you that all of this is quite real. Your understanding of space and time, despite what you may believe it to be, is actually very limited. The way you perceive the BASTET and HATHOR and what they are capable of doing is a perfect example of this. As much as you want to believe those technologies to be a great leap forward, they are in fact nothing more than a single step in a journey that stretches far beyond your ability to understand."

"If this place is real, how do you explain that?" Gemma asked, the ILO managing to hold onto some of her suspicions.

"That?" Adrien again laughed. "That is nothing more than a window able to be pointed to anywhere and anytime. Using it, I can look at the birth of an ancient civilization or the death of a star that has yet to be born. I can look into galactic realms that defy your understanding of reality or gaze into the smallest reaches of a single atom to see another complete universe." As he described those amazing places, the images that corresponded to them appeared overhead, filling the endless sky above them.

"This place is truly amazing," Sarena admitted. "I am not sure how I will be able to give it justice in my report."

"You concern yourselves of things that matter not," Adrien said, the man still holding onto a heart-warming smile. "Your report will not be able to convey what this place is or what it can do. I could spend an eternity trying to explain, instead allow me to show you."

The moment those words were uttered; the table, food and everyone around it vanished leaving Sarena alone in complete darkness. After a few seconds, items began to fade into reality all around her until she found herself standing on the promenade deck of a space station.

"Where is this, why have you brought me here?"

"I did not bring you here, you did."

"It can't be. STARBASE 114 is too far from here, and it went through major repairs, so it wouldn't look this way."

"You are not there, now," Adrien explained. "You are there, then. This is not a memory, it is a moment frozen in time that we have traveled to visit. This place just happens to be part of your past, of your story."

"I don't understand."

"Inside the hall that you and your friends were in, thoughts dictate reality. This place as it appears now means something to you and therefore you were brought here just as your friends have been taken to places and times that mean something to them. All of these places exist as a moment frozen in time, side by side. You and your friends will try to understand how this has happened instead of enjoying that moment, wasting it to your inability to understand that you created it and that I had nothing to do with any of this."

"I am here because I wanted to be? But Why?"

"And that's the real question that you should all be asking of yourselves. Once you are able to understand the 'why' you will be that much closer to understanding the 'who', meaning the person you truly are in this endless universe. Trust me, that is the ultimate quest of life, no matter what time or place you are from." Adrien smiled, looking at his visitors as only he could. Although each was now in a reality of their own creation, he was there with all of them, without worries or concerns.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P014: USS BASTET: Mitshiba: 33120.1900
("Wandering Through Space and Time")
"Wandering Through Space and Time"
Previous posts: (ANU) "Beyond Reality" & (BAS) "Inescapable Death"

///^\\\
Setting: Open Space
Stardate: 33120.1900

"How did we get here?" Aki was puzzled and a little frightened especially considering that she was floating in space without any sort of suit. These feelings were tempered by a sense of complete awe as she gazed upon the countless number of stars set against the dark background of the universe.

"You brought us here," Adrien replied smiling as he stood next to the Asian woman, both of them admiring the stars and constellations that were all around them.

"I brought us here? How did that manage that? You said that everything we saw was real, so how can this be real. No human can survive in the vacuum of space without an EVA suit. You might be able to do this, but last I checked I was unable to survive in such an environment. Not long ago, you said that the stars over our heads were visible as through some sort of window. Is this just another type of 'window'?"

"You are still trying to put things into a box using your limited understanding of the universe. What you see here is a moment frozen in time allowing you to enjoy it in as many different ways as you can imagine," Adrien said, trying to explain what he knew was beyond the scientist's reach. "Do not worry about the 'how', instead focus on the 'why'. You brought yourself here instead of any other place in the universe all because of a reason that is entirely yours. This place is only a result of this 'why', and it is up to you to figure it out."

"I don't understand," Aki said unaware that she had not been the first to say this and certainly would not be the last.

"Do not try to see the universe as something that can be measured using your lacking concepts of time and space, instead look upon the endless possibilities that your thoughts can create."

"So I could see anywhere, anytime simply by thinking about it?"

"Yes and no," Adrien's patience, as his powers and abilities, seemed to be boundless.  "Let me try to explain all of this in ways that you can understand. Think of a place, something small, something specific."

Aki nodded her head, closed her eyes and did as she was instructed. When she reopened her eyes, the Asian CSciO found herself back on the bridge of the BASTET. Out of curiosity brought on by where she had just been, Mitshiba tapped her foot on the floor beneath her, just to make sure that this was real.

"I guess this is as good of a place to start," Adrien said sounding a little disappointed. After all, the woman had all of the infinite reaches of time and space to chose from and she instinctively returned to the safe and familiar. "Look around, what do you see?"

"I see what I expected to see, the bridge of the BASTET," Aki replied now taking a little more time to study the scenery around them. "Why are the controls frozen? None of the indicators are reporting on any of the normal ship's functions?"

"As I said, you can travel to any moment frozen in time and space that you can think of. We are here, on the bridge of your ship at the time you chose."

"But I didn't choose a specific time, I only thought of this location as per your instructions. I know this place and thought that I would be able to understand what it is that you are trying to show me." Aki was even more confused than before.

"You may not have consciously thought of a time, but yet here we are in this place in between seconds for a reason that reflects a part of you that you may not be aware of. Your thoughts brought us to this place."

"I'm trying to understand," Aki said as she scanned the area for something that might give her some indication as to the time she had chosen, even if only on a subconscious level. When she noticed who was sitting in the Captain's chair, the Asian woman smiled. "Is she alive? Did you do this?"

Adrien sighed. As much as he may wish to make them understand what was happening, it was plain to see that they lacked the concepts to understand. "This is a moment frozen in time; the woman you see is there at that precise moment in time. I did not create this, nor could I have created life, only the universe can do this. I am only able to make it possible for you to see beyond the restriction of space and time that you so strongly believe trap you.

"So she's not real," Aki said realizing after having said those words that her statement was wrong according to everything Adrien had been trying to explain to her. "Sorry, she is here, real, as she was then, whenever I choose to bring us."

"You are making progress but are still far from understanding. This is not *then* but *now* as far as your understanding of time goes. We have come to this place and time, more than a wandering thought but less than what you would qualify as a physical form. We are in-between moments, therefore our being here will be so finite in her ability to measure space and time, she will not be aware of our presence."

"It doesn't matter," the CSciO said, gazing upon the woman with gratitude. "You made it possible for me to see her one more time."

"There might be hope for you and your people," Adrien said before a beaming smile appeared on his face. "You may be closer to understanding the 'why' you brought us here than I thought possible.

///^\\\
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M08-P015: USS BASTET: Gemma: 33120.1900 ("Inner Reflection")
=-=
"Inner Reflection"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Waiting IS Always The Hardest Part" / (BAS) "Wandering Through Space and Time"]
=-=

Setting: Dark void
Stardate: 33120.1900

Gemma was not sure how she had come o be here, wherever here was. All that the ILO knew was that she was looking into a mirror, seeing someone else.

"This is most interesting. I do believe that this is the first time I have ever come across such a scene." Adrien was beyond fascinated by what the woman had created. The darkness around them was perfect and infinite. The wall-mounted mirror hung in nothingness. As strange as these things were though, he was most interested in the reflection. The woman looking in and the reflection looking back were not the same.

"Who is she?"

The man smiled. Most people focussed on the 'how'. The shock of finding themselves somewhere else was just too much. Only a few could skip ahead to the 'why'. The scene created by their own thoughts being familiar enough to trigger the question. It was exceptionally rare to see someone immediately question his or her own identity. In a realm where thoughts reshaped space and time, it was atypical for someone to see himself or herself. Even more interesting in this particular case was that the woman was not looking at herself.

"I do not know. She is who you chose her to be. We are here because of you. Therefore, the answer is within you."  Adrien watched as the reflection changed to be that of another woman. Both reflections appeared quite similar to the woman, but very different at the same time.  Adrien knew what Gemma was. Like so many others before, he had looked into her life. He knew what she had endured and even why. The events that led her to be here were simple enough for a being such as him. Still, the question of who she was seemed to be most important for his latest guests.

"She is me, but not me." Gemma looked at the reflection as it changed once more. She knew these people well, yet for some reason, they all appeared as strangers to her now. Gemma knew Anya, Dalra, and Wimdalli well. Maybe that was the reason why their reflections were the ones looking back at her. Meeting their gazes though, she felt like she did not know them as if they were nothing more than a lifeless image. How could that be possible? It was a mirror she was looking into, and the reflections were of her without being of her.

"I do not understand." Her voice was shaky, filled with fear. This caused yet another reflection to appear, this one of the black-haired Lantra. Seconds later, the blonde-haired Finnja was the one looking back at Gemma. "Who are all these people?" Where there was fear before, now stood frustration and anger.

"Are they not a reflection of who you are?"

Adrien thought that the question would ease the woman's irritation. If she could come to terms that they were all a different aspect of herself, the next step would come on its own. Instead, it only exasperated Gemma as different reflections appeared in the mirror in rapid sequence.

"NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" Gemma screamed at the top of her lungs, falling to her knees as she did so. In this realm of thought, the cry of desperation actually created a visible shockwave. It was so powerful that it actually pushed Adrien back, but it was its effect on the mirror that concerned him the most.  The single smooth reflective surface was shattered in dozens upon dozens of small fragments. Studying these smaller segments revealed a different person looking back, each in agonizing pain.

Usually, Adrien allowed these scenes to play out on their own. This was a test to see how each person though and determine if they could expand beyond their current limits. Never had this been meant to cause harm or pain in any way. There were times when realizations were not as comfortable as one might have hoped. In cases like those, a few tears were the extent of an external display. In Gemma's case, the woman had gone into a full rage that went beyond the limits of the physical world.

"Everything is alright. You have nothing to fear, nothing to be angry at. Close your eyes and focus on a single image, a single person. Make the mirror reflect that one thought over everything else."

"I can't. There are just too many."

Adrien could fee Gemma's pain. Knowing what he did about her past, maybe he should have anticipated this. Her psyche, just as the mirror, was shattered beyond any hope of repair. Therefore, he needed to have the woman focus on something or someone else.

"Think of someone that has helped you the most. Someone who made you feel whole. Someone who understood you more than anyone else. Forget everyone else, just focus on that one person. Remember how they made you feel. Push everything else aside and focus on that one moment in time."

Gemma's rapid breathing indicated that this was a struggle. In time, though it began to slow down as she managed to do as she was instructed. Adrien watched the shattered mirror gradually become one once again. The item stood for much more than a simple tool to reflect an image. It was a physical representation of the woman's self-image. As the cracks on the smooth surface vanished, the man waited with baited curiosity to see what image would appear. Which her of inner persona would she find as the one that helped her the most? Better still, would the likeness of one of her shipmates be the one to appear?

The journey was one of self-discovery, but Adrien found just as much enjoyment in this search. Having lived for as long as he had, it was the innermost discoveries that fueled his existence. "You are almost there," he said, encouraging the woman to continue. The mirror was almost back as it had been but no reflection could yet be seen.

When the hazy image of a black-0haired woman appeared, Adrien grinned with surprise. How could the 'infiltrator' Za'Ran be the one to give her the peace she so desperately sought? Even the 'deal maker' Lantra seemed to be an odd choice for this task. As the image became more in focus, the man nodded with understanding.

"Of course," he said. "I should have known. You can open your eyes now."

Gemma did as she was told and gazed upon the reflection on the newly repaired mirror. The image was still not her own, but this one was easily accepted, so much so that the kneeling woman smiled.

"Who is she to you? Someone of importance? Someone dear to you?"

"She was," Gemma replied, she smile vanishing as tears filled her eyes. "She accepted me for who I am, more so than anyone else."

"Fascinating," Adrien said, stepping back to see that the darkness that was around them seemed a little lighter. "Most fascinating."

=-=
Rachel Jackie Johnson

Intel Operative
USS BASTET

[The fun is getting to wear multiple disguises and getting to explore multiple personalities and bring them to life. - Jenna Fischer]
M08-P016: USS BASTET: Andersson: 33120.1900 ("Days Gone By")
=-=
"Days Gone By"
[the previous post was (ANU) "Rushed Ideas" by Lorraine / (BAS) "Inner Reflection" by Rachel]
=-=

Setting: EARTH, Paris
Stardate: 33120.1900 

From the terrace, the Eiffel Tower could be seen in all of its majestic splendor, towering over the city like the beacon it was designed to be. Sofia smiled as she enjoyed the sight before the memories of her time with the Neo-Essentialists came rushing back. Her experience and involvement with the group that would eventually lead to the destruction of this magnificent city made it impossible for the physician to accept what she was seeing.

"How is this possible?" Sofia asked her heart racing. "This is Paris, but it was destroyed. How did I get here?"

"You brought us here," Adrien replied with a smile. No matter the scene, no matter the person, the question and answer were the same. Some might be upset or even frustrated at this endless repetition, but for the ageless man, this was a proof that all was well with the universe and that his quest would continue for quite some time.

"Why would I do that?" Sofia demanded almost in tears as she turned to face Adrien. "I helped destroy this city by supporting the madman who led the Neo-Essentialists. So why would I bring us here?" Following the outburst, the troubled woman turned around to look at the towering monument, but instead, her eyes fell upon a desolated landscape. "This is what I helped to bring about," she added before sobbing uncontrollably.  "Why are we here?"

"This place as you see it now is the answer," Adrien replied, glad to see that the woman was focussing on the right question. How they had made it here was irrelevant, it was the 'why' that was important, and that was the question Sofia continued to ask.

"It hurts," Sofia admitted through her tears. "I feel this pain every day when I close my eyes and remember the millions who died on this day. I was cleared of any direct involvement but the guilt is still with me. Despite all of the help and support I have received, I still feel responsible for what happened here."

"You believe that the punishment you received was not sufficient?" The man asked, able to see the woman's past as clear as if he had been there himself.

"How could it have been? Yes, I am grateful for not being given what I should have. Yes, I am grateful for everything that was done on my behalf. No matter how grateful I am though, it does not change the fact that millions died and I should have been one of them."

A cold wind suddenly swept through the scene, picking up the dust that blanketed the city making it impossible to see anything else. The grey storm caused Sofia to close her eyes making her wish that it would engulf her whole. When she felt the bite of coldness against her exposed skin, the physician reopened her eyes to see a barren landscape of ice and snow.

"I survived this place too," Sofia said. "This is where I met Nicole. The two of us were in a real mess. If it were not for her, I would not have survived. Guess I should be grateful to her as well."

Adrien gazed upon the woman, curious to see if she would discover the reason why she focussed so heavily on these particular moment scattered in time and space. Sofia had already done a great deal of progress in asking 'why' she was here, clearly these places being more than her memories of them, but yet she seemed unable to grasp the answer even when it was right there for her to hold.

"You survived maybe because you were meant to."

"Meant to? What do you mean? Are you saying that I have some sort of destiny?"

"Destiny as you define it would require time and events to be set. Time is not a line that you travel upon, it is fluid, forever changing. The one constant in your life is your thoughts; they are the ones shaping your life."

"I don't understand," Sofia said looking straight at the man.

"Most don't," Adrien said, still smiling.

"Will I be able to understand this one day?"

"There is too much pain. You hold on to it as if it somehow defines who you are."

"It's hard to let go of pain," Sofia pointed out. "Every time I feel happy, every time I feel like I truly belong, something happens. I was part of something greater than I was while part of the Neo-Essentialists and millions died. I was part of a friendly and caring crew who became like a family and found myself on that ice planet. I was rescued by an equally friendly and caring crew who welcomed Nicole and me with open arms, and then we lost our Captain. Each time I am happy, something happens to push the joy away. Is that my destiny?"

With tear-filled eyes, Sofia gazed into the distant darkness. The dust of what was once Paris and the snow of what had once been her prison were gone, replaced by a void in which the outline of a single figure could be seen.

"Maybe you are closer to understanding the 'why' than I gave you and your friends credit," Adrien said as he looked at the distant figure easily recognizing her. "You all have so much pain and sadness that it defines you in many ways. Your people are capable of such wonders and understanding, yet you limit yourselves by fear, pain and even fear of pain."

"Pain is what makes us human," the physician said as she turned away from the distant figure trying to shield herself from the emotion she had just mentioned. "Pain is what keeps us going when there is nothing else, at least as long as you accept it for what it is. Failure to understand this can make the pain be more than can be managed. I guess it's all a matter of thought and where they are focused on."

"Where or who?" Adrien corrected, looking at the distant figure.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M08-P017: USS BASTET: Dima: 33120.1900 ("Spirited Away")
"Spirited Away"
[previous posts (ANU) "Death Is Only The Beginning"/ (BAS) "Days Gone By"]

=/\=
Setting: Organa Family Home, TRILLIUS PRIME
Stardate: 33120.1900

Something fluttered like butterfly wings or a pursed breath on a dandelion. Nicole hadn’t felt or seen anything change, and yet she was now home. Judging by the furnishings, it was at a time before she had been joined.  “Where did everyone else go?” she asked the man who they had just met.

Adrien smiled. “They went to places in their minds of their own choosing, just as you have.”

“Then why am I here?”

His voice was peaceful and slightly amused. “That is a question only you can answer. It was your thoughts that brought us to this place.”

“If that is true, then why are you here? Are you my tour guide?”

He laughed. It was a beautiful sound. “I suppose that’s as good a description as any. I am able to be anywhere and everywhere, so rest assured I am assisting all of you simultaneously.”

Nic looked around the open room and saw her parents at the dining table, eating what appeared to be dinner. However, they were frozen in place, unmoving, silent. They were caught in gestures of talking and enjoying their food. Her older brother Ric wasn’t there. And there was no place setting for her, either. She sat down, studying them in their immobile state. “Was this during the time I was at the Academy?”

“You already know that to be correct. This is your creation.”

“I guess I do,” she ruefully admitted. “But I don’t understand how I could imagine a moment in time where I was somewhere else.”

“The only limits are those we place on ourselves.”

Nic put her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her hands. “I agree with that. But I would also say the choices we make can limit us.”

Adrien tilted his head to the side, in a knowing but inquisitive way. “How so?”

“Even before I decided I wanted to be in Starfleet, I knew I wanted to be joined with a symbiont. I pursued my own development with the idea that I would become the best possible candidate.”

“And you achieved that goal.”

She looked at both her parents and sighed. “But I did not understand there would be consequences.”

“Consequences -- regarding your mother and father?”

Nicole nodded. “They were accepting of my need to be joined, but not my career path. I had always hoped for a reconciliation with them, a coming together. But when I became a host to Dima, they grew more distant, or perhaps they and I simply grew apart. With Dima here, I am never truly alone, but I miss being close to my family.”

“Your crew is a family.”

“Yes, they are. But that could change at any moment. I had a family on the ANUBIS too, before it was taken from me. As Captain Iverson and Lieutenant Commander Janeel were taken from the BASTET. I know I chose this path, but there are still times I yearn for permanence.”

“If you alone could not be satisfied with the way things were, surely you can see that with four other lifetimes jockeying to find a place within you, that possibility would be even less.” 

“Right again. And also, I was naive about one thing.”

There was a twinkle in Adrien’s eye. “What was that?”

“I looked toward joining as the end of a journey, the result of careful personal preparation and analysis from the Symbiosis Commission. However, it was only a beginning. I thought that Dima’s arrival would answer my questions about my purpose in life, but it only seems to have created new questions.”

=/\=
Susan Ledbetter
Writing For

Cns
USS BASTET
M08-P018: USS BASTET: Valentine: 33120.1930 ("The Return")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
"The Return"
[previous post (ANU) "Time For Action" / (BAS) "Spirited Away")]

Setting: Okari Homeworld, Inside the Mountain
Stardate: 33120.1930   

Her mind was whirling, so much so that she left dizzy. Trying to make sense of what Adrien was saying, Sarena had traveled to other specific moments in her past, always trying to figure out the ever so elusive 'why' that the alien being seemed desperate for the acting Commanding Officer to find. From the old Starbase 114, Valentine had found her way back at Starfleet Academy on the day of her graduation; Starfleet Command on the day of her assignment to the USS VICTORY and lastly on NEW ALEXANDRIA after she was recruited to be the Chief of Operations for the USS MA'AT.

Each time Adrien tried to have Sarena understand the 'why' she had come to be where and when she was and each time the alien being explained that the 'why' was just the first step in figuring out the 'who'. What had left Valentine even more disturbed was the last place and time she had traveled to before returning to the main hall inside the mountain. She found herself back on board the BASTET, looking at Captain Iverson sitting at her desk while speaking with Counselor Dima. Although the scene was frozen in time, the Executive Officer knew exactly when this moment had taken place. This had been when Selene took the decision to pilot the shuttle that would eventually allow the BASTET to escape from the Lokustaar dimension and claim the life of their CO in the process.

"Each of the places and times you visited is a clue in your quest to understand who you are," Adrien explained. "You were progressing well and I believe that you may be close to finally answering the question that is at the heart of your journey."

"I appreciate what it is that you are trying to do," Sarena said while rubbing the base of her neck trying to push back the headache threatening to settle in. "Alright, I have no idea what it is that you are trying to do, but I appreciate that you are trying to help me and the rest of my officers in figuring it out. Unfortunately, that is not why we are here. We came for the probe, the one that those blue-skinned people who brought us here found and handed over to you."

"The Okari are more than they seem," Adrien said with a smile. "You look upon them as being inferior because of their lack of a spoken language or technological expertise, yet I can assure you that they would be able to surprise you in countless ways."

"With all due respect, I really don't care about them or what they truly are. We were sent here on a mission, and that is all that matters to us right now."

Adrien was visibly disappointed by the sudden change in the woman's attitude. She had done so much in the quest that he had set her and the others upon, but it seemed that it had all been for not. As much as he had tried to open their minds to the possibilities of the universe, they returned to the mundane familiar of their existence when things became too much.  "I am sorry that you feel that way, but I do understand."

"Commander?" Doctor Andersson said sounding genuinely surprised at seeing the woman before noticing that everyone else had also been present in the main hall. "Nicole! Am I glad to see you, and moving to boot."

"That was a very interesting experience," Misaki said, the CSciO appearing a little lightheaded. "What are we doing back? Sorry, Adrien, I should have asked *why* are we back?"

"We are back because we have a mission to complete," Sarena answered as she did a quick scan to make sure everyone was accounted for. "Gemma, are you alright?" Valentine asked of the blank-faced ILO. When no reply was given, the acting Commanding Officer motioned for both the CMO and CNS to check her out.

"She is fine," Adrien said anticipating the question from the BASTET's Executive Officer. "Each one of you dealt with your journey in your own unique way, based on your perception of the universe and you place in it. Gemma had, shall we say, a very inwardly focused experience."

"Gemma, are you alright?" Sofia asked of the woman who was doing nothing else but looking directly ahead. "Her pulse is steady," the CMO added using her fingers against the woman's neck to gather the information since their instruments were useless on this world.

"Gemma, can you hear me?" Nicole asked, joining in on the effort to bring their ILO back. As much as the Trill did not trust the woman and her multiple personalities, Dima had never been one to not help someone when their need was so clearly evident.

"She is fine," the alien being repeated. "Her journey back is just a more complicated than yours was."

"What does that mean?" Sarena demanded, not willing to simply accept the man's explanation.

"It means that it was more difficult for me to gather myself," the ILO answered as she greeted both the CMO and CNS with a gentle nod of her heads

"Let me guess," Sofia grinned. "No pun intended?"

"Alright," Sarena softly growled at the CMO before turning her full attention back onto Adrien. "We've played your game, now all we want is to investigate the probe and bring it back with us to our ship."

"Very well," Adrien agreed his disappointment complete. "Follow me." The group followed the alien being to another section of the great hall where the probe just seemed to appear inside a beam of light. "Here is the item you seek. It is exactly as the Okari found it."

"The outer panels do not appear to have been tampered with," Misaki reported before unlatching the main access panel so that they could visually scan the inside of the probe.  Everyone held their breaths as they waited for the CSciO's report. The official purpose of their mission was to make sure the HAWKING's technology would not fall into hostile hands. The unofficial purpose and the reason that had everyone's hopes so high was the possibility that their Captain had found her way back to them.  "The equipment, which fills the probe entirely, does appear to be intact."

The disappointment in Misaki's voice was matched by the way her words were received by the others. Their official mission would prove to be a success, yet it was evident that no one was overly happy about it.

"I will have the Okari bring the p[robe to your ship," Adrian offered as the massive doors opened revealing not only the desert landscape but also a group of blue-skinned hunters standing right in front of a de-cloaked HATHOR.

Sarena was about to inquire as to how their ship had been discovered and moved, but in the end, the Executive Officer and Acting Commanding Officer decided that there had been more than enough questions asked for a single mission. "Thank you for everything you have done for us," Valentine politely offered.

"I am glad that I was able to be of some assistance," Adrien said in return. "Are you sure that there is not something more I could help you with? If not a 'what' or 'why', maybe a 'who'?

The hesitation in the woman's reply spoke volumes, not that Adrien needed this to know what was on the mind of each and every person as he asked the question. He had not expected an answer but instead wanted to see if someone would actually voice the one thing they had all been thinking about.

"We are fine," Sarena confirmed. "With your permission, we will be on our way."

With great disappointment, the alien sighed before nodding and wishing the group farewell. As the last of his visitors stepped back into the desert landscape, a humanoid form slowly emerged from the darkness behind him, hesitantly stepping forward

"Where am I? Why am I here? Who am I?"

Adrien smiled, never taking his eyes from the departing group. "You have nothing to worry about. You are safe and I will explain everything. All you need to know right now is that you are someone of great importance to some very interesting people."

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Karen Price

Acting Commanding Officer / Executive Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M08-P019: USS BASTET: Iverson: 33322.1100
("Why Ask How When What You Wanted Was The Who")
---
"Why Ask How When What You Wanted Was The Who"
(Previous Post: (ANU) "Deeper Darkness" / (BAS) "The Return")
---

Setting: USS BASTET, Infirmary
Stardate: 33322.1100

"Everything checks out," Doctor Andersson joyfully reported following the most recent study of her scans. It was plain to see that the expectations of the crew had been squarely set on the shoulders of the Chief Medical Officer. The reason for this was after all quite simple; who else could confirm that the woman currently on her medical examination table was the person they claimed to be. The entire crew of the HATHOR wanted to believe that the claim was true, but following the mysterious journey they had all been on thanks to the alien named Adrien, it made sense for them not to trust their own senses. "Allow me to be the first one to officially welcome you back, Captain."

"Thank you, Sofia, but you can call me Selene. Sarena is the one who officially holds that title, for now, I am just... me." Iverson hesitated to qualify herself in any other way for the simple reason that she was not entirely certain of 'who' she was. Upon her walking out of the shadows, he had taken a fair amount of time trying to explain 'who' she was. Although the former Commanding Officer of the BASTET understood that she had been plucked from time itself to be here amongst friends instead of there as a prisoner of the shadows, she felt incomplete.

"I am sure that everyone here, and I mean everyone including Commander Valentine, will be happy that you are back," Sofia explained, the woman barely able to contain her excitement.

"Doctor Andersoon, did you notice the time index on your instruments?" Lieutenant Mitshiba asked as the Asian Chief Science Officer stepped into the Infirmary.  "Sorry Captain," Misaki added, bowing to the woman sitting on the examination table. "I did not mean to interrupt."

"It is quite alright Misaki, and you can call me Selene. Sarena is your Captain, not I."

"I am sure that this will be all worked out as soon as Sofia confirms who you are and gives you a clean bill of health," Mitshiba said, her excitement matching that of the Chief Medical Officer. "I am sure that it is nothing more than a matter of time. Speaking of which," the scientist continued focussing her full attention onto the Doctor. "Did you notice the onboard chronometers?"

"Why?" Sofia asked, the simple question instantly bringing back countless memories of the man who seemed dedicated to having her answer that same question in order for her to make her way to the next questions which eventually lead to the ultimate 'who'.

"We landed on the Okari planet on stardate 33120.1230, look at the current stardate."

"That cannot be," Doctor Andersson said shocked by what she had just read. "We have been back on board the HATHOR for less than an hour, so that would mean that we spent..." The monumental discovery proved to be more than the woman could voice.

"I checked the main computer and every device on board. The displayed stardate is accurate. We were on that planet for over 200 *days*," Misaki confirmed. "I can only guess that our little journey through time happened a lot slower than we experienced. Actually, to be entirely honest, there is no way for me to tell if this passage of time was a result of what Adrien did or just a normal discrepancy between normal space and how time passes on the world of the Okari."

"The explanation Adrien tried to give me did seem to drag on, but I doubt that it accounts for all of those 200 days," Iverson joked, the amused tone of her own voice surprising her just as much as it did the other two women in the room with her.

"Anyway, Commander Valentine would like to discuss this with you as soon as Doctor Andersson authorizes you to leave the Infirmary," Misaki explained to the still sitting woman they were all beyond happy to see alive.

"Of course, I would not have expected anything less. I am sure that Sarena has a great many questions for me, I just hope that I will actually be able to answer some of them as I find myself with just as many questions, if not more."

---
Setting: USS BASTET, Bridge
Stardate: 33322.1130

The moment Selene stepped onto the bridge, she was greeted by Gemma and Nicole, both approaching the woman from different sides.

"Welcome back Captain," the Intelligence Liaison Operative said before shooting a quick warning glare in the direction of the Trill Counsellor.

"It is delightful to having you back with us Captain," Dima followed up with, dismissing what Gemma had done as being just another quirk of the woman with too many personalities to list.

"Thank you both, but as I have been saying to everyone, just call me Selene. The Captain is the woman over there," the former Commanding officer said pointing to Valentine who now stood next to the central chair.

"They are all happy to see you back, as I am, *Captain,*" Sarena said emphasizing the word to make it clear that she would not in any way oppose the woman should she wish to reclaim the position and responsibilities that were hers before the unfortunate events that took place in the Lokustaar dimension. "I have some green tea waiting in the Ready Room if you are up for it."

"Are you setting up a trap for me?" Selene said in jest which again took her as much by surprise as it did those on the bridge. "Thank you, it will be greatly appreciated."

---
Setting: USS BASTET, Ready Room
Stardate: 33322.1135

"So, Doctor Andersson says that you are in perfect health," Sarena said as she presented the steaming cup of green tea to the Captain and inviting her to sit.

"I have the feeling that I spent some of those lost 200 days of yours recuperating from what happened to me," Selene said accepting the cup and realizing that she seemed far more at ease than ever before in trying to bring humour to a conversation.

"Tell me, what did happen?" Sarena asked joining the other woman with a cup of her own, sitting on the front side of the desk so that nothing stood between them.

"I am not entirely certain," Selene admitted. "I remember being cold, very cold, surrounded by emptiness without end with all of my fears being reflected back at me. I also remember pain the likes of which I could never have imagined and just when that pain grew to be more than I could handle, it stopped and I found myself standing next to Adrian."

"So he rescued you from the Lokustaar?"

"I am not sure that either one of us can qualify what he did as a rescue. He explained that he had plucked me from time, a single heartbeat from the end of 'who' I was then. I am not completely certain what he meant, but it was evident that the 'who' I was meant something to him."

"He was rather insistent in all of us discovering 'who' we truly are. I am wondering if that is not part of the reason why you are here. What possible reason could he have had to bring you back, not that any of us are complaining."

"I noticed that, but back to our conversation, I believe that we are going about these questions in reverse order. Are we not supposed to start with the 'what', work our way to the 'why' and eventually finishing with the 'who'?" Selene teased, again finding it strange that her usual professionalism was nowhere to be found.

"Something changed," Sarena pointed out. "You are not the same person you were the last time we were together."

Iverson had been ready to make another joke, this one claiming that after 200 days lost in the vastness of the unknown could easily explain a slight change in character, but instead Selene forced herself to react as she would have in her previous life. "I know. Although I do feel like I am the same person that I was, I also can feel something different. The problem is that I cannot tell if this is because of what the Lokustaar did to me or if it is because of what Adrien did."

"We may never know for sure," Sarena noted before tapping on her communicator. "Counselor Dima, could you please come into the Ready Room."  Within seconds the door opened and the Trill woman stepped in.

"Yes, Commander?"

"Captain Iverson will be resuming her duties as Commanding Officer effective immediately. I want you to support her in any way possible. I do not expect the transition to be a difficult one, but I am sure that the Captain will be more than happy to know that she is not alone in dealing with whatever may come up during our journey back to NEW ALEXANDRIA."  The announcement took both Selene and Nicole by surprise, especially after the fact that Iverson had been telling everyone that she was no the one in command.

"I will do everything I can to help, Captain," Nicole said to the woman who did not appear to be all that against her reclaiming the role and position she had been in before her disappearance and capture by the Lokustaar.

"Thank you, Counsellor," Commander Valentine said dismissing the joint Trill back to the bridge. "I hope that you can forgive me."

"There is nothing to forgive Sarena," Selene said going as far as to add a smile. "I know how difficult it was for you, for all of you. I can only guess that it was thanks to Adrien that I know this, but I do understand. All I can say is that I will need you just as much as you needed me. After all that has happened, I cannot trust myself in the same manner that I once did, so I will need you to keep an eye on me. I will make sure to speak to Nicole on a daily basis and report to Sofia for regular check-ups.  You can tell Koniki that I am officially back, although I am sure that he will want me to answer some questions of his own, at least this way things will have been made to be as they were, as they needed to be."

"Thank you, and welcome back, Captain." With that, Sarena exited the Ready Room and left Selene to her own to finish the cup of green tea.

Iverson slowly made her way around the desk and sat in the chair that was hers by rank. "Captain," she repeated trying to see if the sound of the word was a pleasant or disruptive one to her ears. So much had happened back in the Lokustaar dimension, so much that she wished to forget as if it had never happened, and yet there was so much that she could not remember, memories that might help her understand the one question Adrien had been hounding her with. Who was she?

---
Jessica Solarik

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

&

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

"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)
M08-P020: USS BASTET: Mitshiba: 33322.1130 ("Stuck On Why")
"Stuck On Why"
Previous posts: (ANU) "Deeper Darkness" & (BAS) "Why Ask How..."

///^\\\
Setting: USS HATHOR, Ready Room
Stardate: 33322.1130

"I hope I am not interrupting anything," Aki said walking in after the door to the Ready Room had been opened by Captain Iverson.

"Not at all, Lieutenant. In fact, I was expecting you."

"You were expecting me?" The CSciO said eyes wide opened as she stopped dead in her tracks. "Why?"

"Exactly," Iverson replied, the smile on the Captain's lips taking the Asian woman completely by surprise. "I figured that you would have some questions for me, and since for obvious reasons the 'who" is going to be tackled by Counselor Dima, I strongly suspected that the 'how' and 'why' would fall on you to investigate."

"Well, that answers one of my questions," Aki giggled. "Adrien gave you the same speech he gave to everyone else. Unfortunately, I fear that none of us is any closer to figuring out 'who' we are despite all of the frozen moments in time we were made to visit. This brings me to my main question, 'how' is it that you are here, moving? I mean, from what I have heard others say, and from my own experience, we all saw you in one or more of those moments frozen in time, but that was it, you were there, frozen. Now you are here, alive and moving, and I am trying to make sense of it."

"You and I both Misaki," the Captain said gazing into the half-empty cup of tea. "Adrien did try to explain it to me, but I am not entirely sure that I understand what he said. I mean, I get it, the pure definition of the words he used, but it is the reasoning behind them that eludes me. I know that I was a prisoner of the Lokustaar. I clearly remember the pain I felt and that moment when it seemed like it all ended. According to Adrien, I was plucked out of time, a single heartbeat away from the end of 'who' I was then. Now I am here with all of the memories while at the same time feeling like I am someone different."

"As much time as it seems we spent with Adrien, over 200 days to be exact, we actually know next to nothing about him, what or who he is, or the extent of his powers. For all we know he is a Q or someone with powers very close to them. His ability to travel to any place and time could have been but a fraction of his powers. Without being able to study him further, we may never be able to answer those questions. I will say this though, whatever he was, we are all very grateful that he brought you back to us."

"Thank you," Captain Iverson said, clearly still having some trouble accepting the welcome that her return had generated. "Not just for welcoming me back but for bringing me back."

"For bringing you back? Why do you believe that it was our doing?"

"By your own account, Adrien brought you all into specific moments in your past, moments frozen in time where I was there in one form or another. My guess is that upon seeing this, he believed it necessary to find out more, and how better to do this than to pluck me out of time and bring me back here with you. Although we are heading back to NEW ALEXANDRIA, I am quite certain that he is watching us as only he can."

"You believe that all of this is nothing more than some sort of experiment?" Aki theorized.  "Do you think this is nothing more than research into our thought pattern? Do you think Adrien did this to better understanding our perception of time?" The CSciO asked, not having considered that possibility until now.

"I don't know," the Captain said. "We might never find out. Right now, the best we can do is to answer whatever few questions we can and leave the rest behind. If this is some sort of research initiated by Adrien, our thinking about it will only serve to taint the results and take away from whatever time we have. If my being here has nothing to do with some sort of research, then our trying to understand it will again lead to nothing more than our wasting time. It is best for us to just go on and not worry about the 'why'."

"Easier said than done," Aki chuckled. "I'm a scientist, the 'why' is what I live for, which may be one of the reasons that I felt Adrien was rather annoyed with me during all of those journeys through space and time. In any case, we are all very happy to have you back Captain and I for one will be happy to accept this as is without the needed to figure out the 'why'."

"Glad to hear it," Selene said. "I have the feeling that there are going to be far more pressing questions for us to address, especially based on these latest reports. My dealings with the Lokustaar were only a drop in the bucket. The Shadows are doing everything they can to undermine every aspect of this galaxy, creating chaos and destruction wherever they can.

"That is part of the reason why we are all so happy to have you back," Aki explained. "As much as everyone has done their best, we are barely managing to hold them back. Every time we think we have come up with a win, we receive half a dozen reports that show we are losing ground. There just seems to be too many of them, involved in the affairs of too many other words for us to actually make a difference."

"No, we are making a difference," the Captain said.

"How can you be so certain?"

"I am not sure why I know this, but I remember the feelings I experienced while I was captive of the Lokustaar. I could not explain it, but I could feel that they thought of us as a danger to their plan. By us, I do not mean the crew of the BASTET or even the NEW ALEXANDRIA team, but humanity as a whole. There is something about us that they despise, which may be why they are so driven to taking over our dimension."

"Being able to answer that 'why' would go a long way for us to find a better way to send those shadows back from the hell that spawned them."

"Agreed," the Captain said. "We need to figure out 'why' they see us as being such a threat."

///^\\\
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M08-P021: USS BASTET: Dima: 33322.1150 ("To Boldly Go... Home")
“To Boldly Go... Home”
[Previous Posts: (ANU) "Deeper Darkness" / (BAS) "Stuck On Why”]

=/\=

Setting: USS BASTET, Dima’s Quarters
Stardate: 33322.1150

Nicole allowed herself a satisfied smile as she sat on the loveseat. She had returned from the Bridge, where an impromptu reinstatement of the CO had been happily completed, and replicated a berry smoothie so cold the glass was frosted with a fine layer of ice crystals. Every sip tempted to give her a wicked case of brain freeze, but it was so refreshing it was easy to brave the consequences.

She willed her body to relax and sink into the cushions. Nic had a great many questions about their experience with the Okari and their homeworld, and Adrien. She didn’t expect to get the  answers, but they still flooded her mind. What was his relationship to the Okari people? How did he facilitate Selene’s rescue and recovery? Two hundred days had passed unknowingly, until their return had revealed this information. But Selene Iverson’s return was worth more than time. While the probe had been the item that was lost, in reality she was the missing piece they needed. 

A serious look clouded Nicole’s impish face. Adrien had given her a lot to think about. “Computer, open up a subspace channel and record.”

A well modulated beep signaled the order. =/\= Recording, Ensign Dima. =/\=

Nicole rubbed her hands together. “Mom, I know it’s been too long since I last sent you a message. I wanted you to know I am well, good actually, and that we were... outside normal communications range, which was the only reason you haven’t heard from me.”  Hopefully the slight fib would be enough to keep her mother from worrying too much.

“While we were on assignment, I thought of you many times. Dad and Ric too. Times we spent together as a family, at the dinner table. At home. Talking about anything and everything. I didn’t want to let any more time pass by without telling you how much those moments meant to me, and how much they still do.”

The Counselor sighed, ruffling her dark, short hair. “Since Dima came into my life, a lot has changed. I know that couldn’t have been easy for you, to see your daughter become, in some ways, a stranger. To see your guidance and influence be either set aside or usurped by the former hosts’ experiences and wisdom. Sometimes I’m still surprised by where my thoughts go or when an unexpected point of view appears. It is both me, and not me.”

“I understand that my desire to be in Starfleet was a huge sticking point for you, even more so than trying to qualify for joining with the Symbiosis Commission. Maybe you even hoped that once I became joined, I would go in another direction. A direction closer to all of you. Carrina saw something in me, however, that strongly suggested to her that Dima and I would be a perfect match, and she was right. Dima supported my decision by complimenting my skills with its own. This propelled me forward in my dream to be an officer.”

“I never intended to make this a choice between my life and my family. I always thought we could co-exist. I still want both. I guess I was being a little naive. Even if I was just plain old Nicole Organa, I would still be far away on a ship or Starbase, doing what I love to do- helping people. I might not have been doing it with the same peace of mind or understanding that Dima provides to me, but I’d like to think I was accomplished enough without Dima to be a success.”

“I wanted you to know that our time apart, which is necessary for me to fulfill my life’s goals, was never meant as a slight to you or meant to diminish the love I have for you, all of you. I think you already know that, but a certain someone reminded me that there was a chance that I hadn’t made it perfectly clear, and this was a good time to do it. I don’t know when I will have the chance to visit, but just know when I do, I promise to make our time together unforgettable. I will talk again as soon as I am able. I love you, Mom.”

Nicole leaned her head back into the soft fabric upholstery. A weight had been lifted from her shoulders… and her heart. Maybe now the Counselor would be in a better frame of mind to help Selene with her ‘who’ as she began to uncover more of her own identity. “End transmission.” The computer chirped in acknowledgement. “Send that to my family home in Kural, when we’re in a safe location and close enough to do so.”

=/\= Acknowledged, Ensign.=/\=

=/\=
Susan Ledbetter
Writing For

Cns
USS BASTET

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