USS HATHOR - Mission 01
The Black Ship
IN PROGRESS
POST INDEX
Post # Character Title
001 Morningstar The Mission, Part 1
Koniki gives Erik his new order, and new ship
002 Mitshiba The Mission, Part 2
The senior officers meet on the HATHOR
003 Paquette Getting Comfortable
A'Janni offers an idea to Sonja
004 Ya’Han/Enel Sizing Things Up
Ya'Han and Zub get a feel for the HATHOR
005 Lopez/Bonviva Serve At the Pleasure of...
Adriana visits Xana as she packs
006 Morningstar Status Report
Aki gives Erik a crew status report
007 Gemma Intel Games
Gemma looks into the ANUBIS's officer
008 Bonviva Dizzying
Xana is beamed aboard the HATHOR
009 Lopez No Time for Hypnosis
Adriana, Sofia and Nicole chat
010 A'Janni/Enel Rattling Some Scales
Zub is not happy about the 'skip' drive
011 Mitshiba Note to Self
Aki makes a personal log entry
012 Maya Next Stop, the ARGALIS...
The HATHOR blinks to its destination
013 Gemma Nothing New
Gemma thinks about the place they are going to
014 Enel/Mitshiba An Eye Opened
Aki goes to speak to Zub
015 Andersson An Hour Too Long
Sofia is anxious as they travel
016 Bonviva/Lopez There Is Always More
Xana and Adriana discuss the mission
017 A'Janni Hide and Seek
The HATHOR encounters two small crafts
018 Morningstar Divide and Conquer
Erik creates three teams
019 Mitshiba Nice and Easy
Beta team is on the surface
020 Ya'Han Peace and Order
Ya'Han hesitates after seeing a ship
021 Bonviva The Haunting of Pepper's...
Alpha Team runs into an old visual trick
022 A'Janni A Cat, a Monkey, and...
Gamma Team runs into a little trouble
Post # Character Title
023 Enel Nuts and Bolts
Beta Team tries offeres a trade
024 Gemma Black Wolf
Beta Team is saved by an mysterious figure
025 Ya'Han Patience and Tranquility
Alpha Team finds themselves locked in a room
026 Mitshiba Shades of Grey
Beta Team plans their next move
027 Gemma/Enel Watery Encounter
Beta Team runs into a few problems
028 Lopez Back Together
Beta and Gamma team are reunited
029 A'Janni/Enel Thunder Bunny
The pursuing Grogg are abled to be delayed
030 Maya A Short-Lived Break
While taking a breather, Maya analyses a rock
031 Andersson What's In A Color
Sofia is in a trance looking at the painting
032 Bonviva/Ya'Han The Man In White
Alpha Team confronts the Man in White
033 Morningstar Cause and Effect
The teams regroup and return to the HATHOR
034 Andersson/Ya'Han Safe and Sound
Sofia takes care of Ya'Han broken leg
035 Gemma Questions Aplenty
Balthier and Fran are debriefed
036 Ya'Han/Enel Loose Lips
Zub visits Ya'Han in Sickbay
037 Mitshiba Slow and Steady
The HATHOR is traveling at low warp
038 A'Janni Cat and Mouse
The HATHOR encounters something strange
039 Gemma Moves and Counternoves
Gemma gives her opinion on the situation
040 Enel Null Hypothesis
Zub and A'Janni discuss what happened
041 Andersson Brace for Nothing
Nicole comforts Sofia
042 Mitshiba Back on Track
HATHOR resums course for GORLAPOLIS
043 A'Janni/Lopez Looking Down
The HATHOR arrives at GORLAPOLIS
044 Maya Busy Little Planet
Sensors pick up smething interesting
M01-001: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36101.0700 ("The Mission, Part 1")
##########
"The Mission, Part 1"
Previous posts (ANU) "Thoughts and Memories" / (BAS) "Beyond Medical Analysis"
##########

"We will not pray for anything. Nor will we seek help from anyone. Never again will we fight under another's flag. We will keep on fighting only for what we believe in, under only OUR flag, as long as we live! Under MY flag!"
– Captain Harlock

--==/\==--
Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section A, Level 6, Waiting Room
Stardate: 36101.0700

It had been nearly two weeks since the ANUBIS and BASTET, along with their crew, had returned to their base of operations, two weeks since the ships were brought in for repairs, two weeks since the crew was undergoing psychological evaluations to see how well they had fared during their last mission. It had also been two weeks since the Native American had heard from the Admiral and being summoned to Koniki's office first thing this morning worried Morningstar.

It was no secret that the Commanding Officer of the covert base of operations known as NEW ALEXANDRIA and the Captain of the USS ANUBIS did not see eye to eye. In fact, it was rare that the two men agreed on anything leading the Native American to wonder how this latest meeting would unfold. Two weeks had been more than enough time for the Admiral to collect all of the data and evidence required to end the Captain's career, or at the very least take his ship and crew from him.  After facing some of his greatest fears while stuck at the heart of the HR8619 star system, Erik wondered if maybe this was not the right time for him to retire.  Shar'El was a dedicated First Officer, and even though her inter-personal skills were sometimes rough around the edges, he was certain that she would make a formidable Captain and Commanding Officer of the ANUBIS.

"Admiral Koniki will see you now," the always smiling and joyous Allyson said from behind the reception desk. The woman was strange in that respect as she never seemed to be in anything less than a happy and helpful disposition, but there was something slightly different about her today. The fact that she had not offered Morningstar anything to eat or drink as it was her customary 'modus operandi' further troubled the Native American.

Erik rose to his feet and made his way into the Admiral's office. The old-fashion looking automated doors swung open showing the complex's Commanding Officer sitting behind his onyx desk.

"That was quite the experience the ANUBIS and BASTET went through," the Admiral said foregoing any sort of welcoming, a nuance that the Captain was almost thankful for as he despised the way Koniki always used this standard social convention to evaluate the state of mind of whoever had come to see him. "This is just a fraction of the psychological evaluations of the two crews," he added placing a PADD from his hands to the top of one of three piles, each made up of at least a dozen similar devices.

"Whatever that sphere was, it did do quite a number on everyone," Morningstar offered, already planning his defence against whatever attack Koniki would through in his direction.

"There is still quite a lot that we do not know about the Chaos Dimension, but after what happened at HR8619, I am reluctant to sending anyone to 'poke the bear'," the Admiral explained before standing and turning to look out the large windows behind his desk giving him a perfect view of the numerous docking bays of the NEW ALEXANDRIA complex.  "There is a situation that is causing me some... *issues* and you are the only one who can fix it."

As mentally prepared as he believed himself to be, Native American found himself taken aback by the Admiral's admission. Erik quickly forced himself to regain his mental composure, not wanting to give the Admiral any sort of satisfaction in seeing the Captain upset or even angry.  "Will you be giving the ANUBIS to Shar'El?"

"The ANUBIS?" Koniki asked as he turned, the puzzled expression on his face make it evident that Morningstar had misunderstood what the *issues* mentioned by the Admiral were. "I am not taking her from you, but for your next mission, I will need you to take charge of the HATHOR."

"The HATHOR?" It was Erik's turn to look puzzled.

"One, the ANUBIS is still being repaired and two, you will need something that can move a great deal faster than the ANUBIS or any other ship we have available. The specifications and expectations for you and your crew have been sent to your First Officer for the mission."

"Very well," Erik said as he prepared to leave the Admiral's office. "I will check in with Shar'El."

"Shar'El will not be your First Officer for this mission," the Admiral said, keeping his gaze on the docking area where the HATHOR was berthed. "In fact, the majority of your crew for this mission will be made of officers from the BASTET."

"Why?" Erik demanded, delaying his departure for obvious reasons.

"You said it yourself, that journey to the heart of HR8619 did a number of a lot of your officers and I cannot afford to wait for them to get back onto their proverbial feet. This issue requires immediate attention, that is why I am sending you in. Lt. Commander Mitshiba, the First Officer of the BASTET will act as your Executive Officer for this mission."

"What about Iverson or Shar'El? Why are they not part of this mission?"

"Captain Morningstar!" Koniki barked as he spun on his heels to face the inquisitive Native American. "As Admiral and Commanding Officer of this complex, I am under no obligations to explain any of my orders to you." The Admiral took a moment to take a breath before continuing, "That said, Captain Iverson is needed elsewhere and Commander Shar'El requested to remain at NEW ALEXANDRIA for personal reasons.  As for the rest of your officers, most of them need more time to recuperate from what happened, and we simply do not have the time to waste. The HATHOR is set to depart in two hours, dismiss."

With the meeting over, that he liked it or not, Erik made his way back to the waiting area where he found Lt. Commander Mitshiba.  "Good morning Captain, I have just been informed that I will be your First Officer for this mission. I will do my best to prove myself worthy of your expectations."

The Native American grinned. "After working under Selene, I suspect that I will not have any issues with you, your work ethics or anything else for that matter. Now, since we are dealing with a mixed crew, I believe that the best thing for us to do at this time is to get everyone together. You have the crew and mission specifications?"

"Yes, Sir," Mitshiba promptly replied showing the PADD which contained the information.

Erik extended his open hand, asking for the device without speaking which his new First Officer did right away. "Have all of the senior officers assigned to the HATHOR report to the Observation lounge for 0745. That will give us about an hour to get the ship ready for departure after the meeting is over."

"Aye, aye, Sir," the Asian woman acknowledged before making a rapid exit leaving the Native American to review the details of this apparently urgent mission.

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

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-002: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.0735 ("The Mission, Part 2")
"The Mission, Part 2"
Previous posts: (ANU) "The Mission, Part 1" & (BAS) "Beyond Medical Analysis"

///^\\\
Setting: USS BASTET, Deck 3, Starboard Airlock
Stardate: 36101.0735

Thanks to the size of the HATHOR, Aki could easily stand just outside the airlock and take a manual survey of who had come aboard. The Asian woman had wanted to do this in order to introduce herself to those officers coming from the ANUBIS. It also gave her the chance to answer a few questions before the official senior staff meeting.

"Commander," the towering bipedal reptilian asked as he approached. "What is going on?"

"One minute one of the base's Counselors is playing mind-games with Zub and the next we are asked to report here," A'Janni said, the Caitian and Voth having become almost inseparable friends over the course of the last few missions.  "Are we off on a new mission?"

Aki smiled. "Yes we are, the briefing will take place in just a few minutes."

"Good," the Chief of Security eagerly said. "It will be good to be back out there. Has the Captain already boarded the HATHOR?"

"Yes he has," Mitshibe replied. It was only after seeing the mirrored expression of confusion on the two officers that the ExO/CSciO realized what she had just said.

"*He*?" A'Janni asked in a way that made it clear that he was expecting the Lt. Commander to make a quick correction.  Both the Caitian and Voth would be disappointed by what Mitshiba would say next.

"Yes, *he*. The HATHOR will be under the command of Captain Morningstar of the ANUBIS for this mission, and before you ask, Captain Iverson is fine. All that I was told about her was that she has been requested to stay by Admiral Koniki himself. Now, no time to waste, the Captain is waiting for everyone to gather in the observation lounge, so get moving."

//^\\
Setting: USS BASTET, Deck 1, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0740

Aki stepped out of the turbolift and onto the bridge of the BASTET, but before she could make her way to the observation lounge, the ExO/CSciO would have to deal with the ship's CMO.

"Why is Captain Morningstar here and not Captain Iverson? Is she alright?"

Mitshiba sighed. Maybe she should have called for  pre-meeting with the BASTET's officers, at least she would not have to be fielding all these questions and queries about the state of their Commanding Officer. There was one good thing though about all of these concerns, it showed that everyone liked Selene, either that or they hated Erik even more.  That possibility made the ExO/CSciO take an extra moment to consider her words.

"Admiral Koniki needed Captain Iverson for something else, and since this mission is time sensitive, he decided to merge the crews of the ANUBIS and BASTET. Will that be a problem?"

It was Andersson's turn to take a moment to think about what she had been told and asked.  It only took a few seconds before the blonde CMO simply smiled and walked into the observation lounge.

//^\\
Setting: USS BASTET, Deck 1, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 36101.0745

Everything about this seemed strange and weird. This was not the observation lounge she was accustomed to and this was most certainly not the crew she had come to know as her own. It was true that many of the faces looking back at her were familiar ones, but they seemed out of place when surrounded by others who were not as familiar, most of them though she knew by reputation and from having worked with them during their visit to SPACE STATION NOWHERE.

"Welcome everyone," Captain Morningstar said, starting the meeting exactly as he had said he would. Aki could not help but smile to herself as she thought that serving under him might not be that different from being Iverson's ExO, both apparently being people who liked things to follow a certain dictated pattern. "Admiral Koniki has given us a specific mission to do and the HATHOR is scheduled to depart at 0900, so this will not be a long meeting. Before we start though, I suspect that many of you have the same question, so let me put your minds at ease, Captain Iverson is well, the only reason she could not be here was due to the Admiral having something else for her to do. That is all I know, but rest assured that for those of you who are from the BASTET, you will see your Captain again once this mission is completed."

Mitshiba watched the faces of the officers she knew personally reflect relief and gratitude. Maybe serving under Captain Morningstar might not be such a bad thing as the man clearly understood and shared in his officer's emotions, something that Selene rarely, if ever, demonstrated.

Aki was in for another surprise. She had most certainly not expected to hear Erik say what he did next. "Lt. Commander Mitshiba will now explain our mission as given to us by the Admiral." Mission briefings were usually the responsibility of the Commanding Officer, so why had he passed this task to her? Had she done something wrong? Was he somehow testing her to see if she would forget some important detail? Was this his way to make it known that he was not happy about the selection of senior officers for this mission?  Aki had so many questions and no way to answer even one.

She cleared her throat as she studied the expressions of everyone gathered, all eyes now firmly on her. "Let's start with each of your responsibilities," Mitshiba said trying to calm the trembling in her voice. "As you have already figured out, Captain Morningstar will be the Commanding Officer and I will be his First Officer. On this mission though, I will not be taking on the additional duties of the Chief Science Officer, that will be Lt. Commander Maya's role. Lt. Commander Paquette will take care of the ship's Engineering. Both are experts in their respective fields, so there are no surprises there. The role of Chief of Security will be handled by Lieutenant Ya'Han, Ensign Zub Enel will, for this mission, act as her assistant. Sickbay will be under the jurisdiction of Lieutenant JG Sofia Andersson. All counseling needs of the crew will be shared by Lieutenant JG Nicole Dima and Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez. Any Ambassadorial needs will, of course, be handled by Ambassador Xana Bonviva."

"Looks like you're going to be the ship's mascot or pet," Zub whispered to A'Janni, clearly a little louder than he had wanted to as everyone turned to look at the Voth and Caitian.

"The responsibility of piloting the HATHOR will be that of Lieutenant JG A'Janni," Aki said, setting the record straight and ending her list of who's who for this mission, well, almost. There was still one name on the list that she had not mentioned, and the reason for that was that the officer in question had not come aboard. Just as the ExO was about to move forward with the mission briefing, the woman in question stepped into the room.

"My apologies, there were certain last-minute details the Admiral wanted to make me, and us, aware of before our departure."

"GEMMA!" Sofia exclaimed, glad to see the woman on her feet. Aki could see that the CMO's feelings were echoed by the other members of the BASTET's crew.

"I hope I have not missed too much of the briefing," Gemma said as she handed a PADD over to Mitshiba before offering Captain Morningstar a deep, respectful bow of her head.

"I was just wrapping up with the list of senior officers and their responsibilities," Aki replied before turning to address the others. "The roles of Chief of Operations and Intel Liaison Officer will be Lieutenant Gemma's responsibilities."  The Asian woman waited for the latest arrival to be seated before continuing.  "Now, for our mission. We are being sent to track down and stop a rogue vessel which has been terrorizing several systems. If possible, we are to apprehend its commanding officer and bring him back to NEW ALEXANDRIA to face justice."

"This sounds like it's going to be a piece of cake," Sonja chuckled dryly. "With the HATHOR's jump drive, we will be there and back before supper. So, why the urgency? Getting the HATHOR on a mission like this seems... overkill?!?"

"Admiral Koniki is now known for acting in excess," Maya said, glancing at her Captain who was likely the person with the most experience in dealing with the NEW ALEXANDRIA's Commanding Officer.

"Sending in the HATHOR is not overkill," Gemma calmly said. "The ship we are being asked to find and stop has proven to be rather elusive. The only thing we have to go on are vague reports from the crews of the ships it attacked and pilfered."

"Sounds like this ship is nothing more than simple pirates," Dima said, narrowing her eyes ever so slightly as she looked at Gemma before turning her gaze towards the standing Mitshiba.

"Pirates, yes. Simple, not so much," Captain Morningstar corrected.

"According to the reports we have gathered regarding this ship, it appears out of nowhere, sometimes emerging from a black cloud. It seems that no sensors are able to detect it until it is too late and is on top of its target.  Once there, it strikes with lightning speed before vanishing just as quickly once its crew has boarded and taken what they want from their victims," the Asian ExO explained.

"Sounds like they might have a blink drive or something similar," Ya'Han said. "That would explain why the HATHOR is needed for this mission."

"I still don't understand why Admiral Koniki is so interested in this ship," Ambassador Bonviva said. "Yes it might have a blink drive, but that is far from sufficient to explain mobilizing us the way he is. There has to be something more."

"There is," Gemma agreed. "The latest ship to be attacked was the USS NILE, one of our own transport vessels. According to the Captain, it appeared out of nowhere, took out their shields with their first and only attack before sending a boarding party that gained access through the hole they created in the side of the ship. They came in, took something that the Admiral wants back."

"Now it all makes sense," Lieutenant JG Lopez said. "That last attack made it personal for him, now he wants to show whoever is in charge of that pirate ship that they are dealing with the wrong people."

"I have one question," A'Janni said, raising his right paw. "If sensors are not able to detect this ship, how are we supposed to know that we have found it once we do?"

"According to some of the reports, at least those that don't read like the ramblings of a drunken fool, the ship is very large and can be easily recognized by the skull and crossbones located on its forward section, displayed on its dar-colored hull and on the black flag it flies overhead."

"Wait? What?" Zub gasped. "Skull and crossbones?"

"Those make up an ancient EARTH symbol attributed to pirates," Gemma explained. "Lawless man who sailed the planet's ocean terrorizing the nearby coastal towns and stealing whatever they wanted."

"Great," Doctor Andersson sighed. "We are being sent to hunt a ghost pirate ship. This should be fun. Do I have time to fetch my saws, peg legs and hooks? Just in case an imputation is required."

"I understand that this may sound like a joke to some," Morningstar said as he stood. "The truth is that this ship poses a real threat and it is our mission to locate and stop it. Our first stop will be the ARGALIS CLUSTER, there we will beam down to a small, out of the way trading post where several people have reported seeing this *ghost ship*. If there are no other questions or comments, man your stations, we leave as scheduled at 0900."

///^\\\
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-003: USS HATHOR: Paquette: 36101.0815 ("Getting Comfortable")
"Getting Comfortable"
previous posts were (ANU) "The Mission, Part 1" / (BAS) "The Mission, Part2"  

=====
Setting: USS HATHOR, Main Engineering
Stardate: 36101.0815

Sonja was no stranger to the HATHOR or its Blink-Drive. The redhead engineer had been here before, more than a few times in fact and although this was not by any stretch of the imagination the ANUBIS’ engineering section, her home, there was enough of a sense of familiarity to make the woman feel quite at ease where she stood. With the clock ticking, the CEO knew that there was no time to waste, so she went to work making sure that all the ship’s systems, especially the Blink-Drive, were ready for what was to come.

As she bounced from one station to the next, Sonja almost ran into a wall of fur which she quickly identified as the HATHOR’s Flight Control Officer. "What is it with cats, even overgrown ones, to always get in your way when you try to get somewhere? Is it some sore of feline genetic flaw or is it just your way to get even with the rest of the universe for making you like… that?" The redhead engineer said waving her hands at the Caitian to show him that she was referring to him as a whole and not just one uniquely annoying characteristic.

Having grown accustomed to being on the receiving end of insults thanks to his friendship with Zub, A’Janni just ignore the woman’s comments, focusing instead of the reason that brought him to Engineering. "I was checking the Blink-Drive control interface at the Flight Control station and noticed that there is a 12-minute cooldown lock on the device."

"I notice that too," Sonja said, accepting without any opposition that this would be all business. "We need to figure out why this is and how we can override it. If this ghost pirate ship is as quick as they claim it to be, we might need to perform a few quick sequence jumps. My guess is that this forced delay is to ensure that the computer has time to calculate the jump coordinates, without those we might risk finding ourselves across the galaxy or right in the middle of a star."

The Caitian’s one eye grew as large as it could at the description of the fate that might befall them. After a few seconds of serious consideration, the FCO offered his thoughts. "What if we created a brand-new jump protocol? The one currently in place is meant for travelling hundreds if not thousands of light-years, which explains the need to careful calculations. If we set our goals to be just at the limit of our long-range sensors, there should not be any need for extensive calculations, thus allowing us to perform quick skips."

The redhead engineer found the idea interesting, this judging by the expression now visible on her features. "So instead of a *blink* drive, we would turn this contraption into what? A *skip* drive? I can work with that," Sonja added before tapping her communicator." Paquette to Maya, I need you in Main Engineering, I have a task for you and your science-minded brain."

=/\= On my way. =/\=

"Do you think it will be possible?" A’Janni asked, still thinking that the Chief Engineer was only considering the idea and not already well into its implementation.

"It is not a question of *if* it is possible," the redhead stated while she worked on several stations at once. "It is a question of *when* I get all of the programmings in place, link the Blink-Drive coordinate matrix with the long-range sensors which will need to be calibrated for this purpose, hence why I called the ‘Queen of the animal kingdom’ down here."

"Queen of the animal kingdom?" The Caitain repeated, quite certain that he had never heard that title bestowed on anyone else before.

"Of course," Sonja said dismissing the question. "She’s a shapeshifter limited to animals. Unlike you though, she doesn't shed quite as much and knows when to make herself useful," the engineer said brushing off her chest as if cleaning it of whatever hair had landed on her. "Get back to the bridge and start working on the calibration of the long-range sensors. I am sure that your Operations Officer can lend a hand if the fur gets in your way."

A’Janni understood that his presence in Main Engineering was no longer welcome, so he turned to leave meeting the arriving Shillian Chief Science Officer as he did so.  The two officers shared a quick smile as they cross paths.  The Caitian glanced over his shoulder to see the two women talking about the idea that he had offered.

"It may not be that easy," Maya stated. "The primary computer on the HATHOR is nowhere as powerful as the one on the ANUBIS, so we might need to have an extra sub-processor installed. Although the work to accomplish this may take some time, the idea itself is quite ingenious."

"Don’t look at me," Sonja said pointing towards the Caitian. "It was ‘walking throw rug's idea."

Maya smiled at the FCO. "Thank you Lieutenant A’Janni, your idea may provide us with an advantage that no other ships had when dealing against the ship that we are going after.  Please return to the bridge, we will need your assistance to properly calibrate the long-range sensors. Also, please relay a message to Captain Morningstar and Lieutenant Commander Mitshiba; we will need an auxiliary computer processor to be beamed over to this location before the HATHOR’s departure."

=====
Lorraine Paquette

Lt Commander Sonja Paquette [Access Character BIO for Sonja Paquette]
Chief Engineering Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501
M01-004: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han/Enel: 36101.0820 ("Sizing Things Up")
=-=
“Sizing Things Up”
Previous posts: "Getting Comfortable” by Lorraine

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0820

Following the mission briefing, the Nylaan sat at the tactical station, the cascading hair over her shoulders not quite as red as it would be while she faced a combat situation, but certainly not as dark as it usually was when all was well. Clearly, there was something on the mind of the Sec/Tac, something that occupied her thoughts enough to put her on edge.

==========
FLASHBACK
==========

Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Docking Bay Level
Stardate: 36101.0735

Jayson was holding Ya'Han's hands into his own as he looked into her eyes. "Everything will be fine," he said for the Nth time. "You are the one being called for a mission, not me."

"That is why I am worried," she said, her hair as black as the void between stars. "Obviously something is wrong or you would have been called as I have. I cannot just leave you like this, not again."

"You are not leaving me *like this*," Jayson gently argued. "The last time you left was because of a covert mission, an opportunity that presented itself and which you needed to take then. I understand that now, as I understand that this is not the same thing. You are not leaving me, you are going on a mission that I am not ready for." The Terran could see her desire to argue, to convince him that he belonged with her, that together they would be able to surmount whatever it was that he was dealing with. Before she could say another word, he placed a single finger against her lips. "This is something that I need to deal with on my own. You learned very early on in your life to use the hardships of your past to give you strength, I have yet to figure out how to do this, that is why I have to stay, for me, for us. Now, go. They are waiting for you. So, go and be the kickass Sec/Tac I know you to be, then when it is all over and the mission is complete come back to me. I will be waiting for you."

She wanted to cry, to scream, but deep down she understood. Her past had made her who she was, just as his had done the same with him. The loss of his wife and unborn child still haunted him, now more so than ever before thanks to what had taken place at the heart of the HR8619 system. Reluctantly, she pulled her hands from his and walked away, her determination growing with each step she took and even more so after she turned the corner. She needed to be stronger and more determined than she had ever been, if not for her sake, it would be for his.

To Zub Enel, Lt. Ya’Han seemed set on being one of the first aboard the USS HATHOR. Even though she was much shorter than her 7-foot tall Voth Assistant Chief of Security, he had to hurry to keep up with her. She made a beeline to the teleport stations for the Defiant Class ship. She stopped only when she was standing on the teleport dais waiting for the hulking officer to catch up.

“I hope I fit aboard this vessel,” the towering aSec/Tac said. “It is a third of the size of the USS BASTET.” He ducked his crested head like he was about to be transported into a crawlspace.

Ya’Han gave him a piercing glance with eyes as black as space, contrasting her now fiery red hair. “I have reviewed the Security and Tactical specs of the HATHOR via the holodeck. What I am curious about is the armory.”

Zub Enel looked doubtful. “There is an armory? On a ship this small, it probably is only big enough to hold one phaser.”

The transporter sparkled to life at that moment. It cut off what looked like an angry retort from the fiery haired woman whose waist-length mane was as red as could be, something that the Voth clearly understood as meaning he needed to be cautious.

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Transporter Room 1
Stardate: 36101.0740

Ya’Han was still scowling when the two of them reassembled in pillars of converging golden beams aboard the HATHOR.

The Voth, a soaring lizard of a man, habitually stepped off the transporter first for a quick look around the room. Only a blueberry-colored operator with curved antennae was present. The Assistant Security Chief turned toward his new Chief. “There is a weapons locker noted on the deck schematics. Perhaps that is the extent of any armory.”

She said tartly up to Zub Enel, “We can see what size phaser it has after the mission briefing.” Her hair was still red as blood, signaling rage as she glared up at him.

=================
END OF FLASHBACK
=================

Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0825

Zub waved his three-fingered hand in front of the woman's face who clearly appeared to be elsewhere. He said softly, “I apologize if I inadvertently upset you earlier as we came aboard.”

Ya’Han blinked a few times before saying to Zub Enel, “If you recall, the mission briefing mentioned that these pirates seem to have an affinity to physically boarding the vessels they target. We may well have energy weapons disabled by means unknown and have to resort to hand-to-hand. Since this appears to be their preferred method of engagement, they likely are well trained and highly experienced in close-quarter combat. You and I both need to see what this squat little tick has for defense and what tools are at our disposal to help us fight back should the situation arise.”

Whatever had been on the woman's mind clearly did not matter anymore, and Zub Enel was happy to let it go and focus on what they needed to do to avoid future problems. “Very sensible,” the aSec/Tac rumbled.

With the taller Voth in tow, the Nylaan Sec/Tac led the way to Deck 2 where the ship's schematics listed the weapons locker's location.

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 2
Stardate: 36101.0830

The weapons locker turned out to be guarded with double doors. The Sec/Tac and aSec/Tac had to request permission from the computer to gain access before the thick doors slid aside. Physical entry into the room was blocked by a wall of vertical panels.

The Nylaan made a tsking sound to herself. “We will need quicker access if we’re already boarded. I’ll look at the access protocols.”

She touched a spot on one of the panels and with a low sigh a weapons rack slid into the corridor.

“Nice rack,” the scaly Voth exclaimed as he eyed the tidy rows of hand-held phasers.

Ya’Han stood with her fists jammed on her hips. “Looks like enough of a full crew complement. Let’s see what else we have here.”

Racks rolled out into the corridor. There were phaser rifles. There was a rack full of spare charging packs. There was a rack full of white staves with black tips.

The Nylaan snatched up one of the sticks. It spun so fast that it whirred and buzzed. Her mastery of its use was clear in her expression of casualness. “These look like Federation versions of the Klingon pain sticks," Ya'Han noted. "They should shock the muffins off anyone it touches. Since they can also break things and hurt people when uncharged, these might do well if the pirates have energy dampening technology.”

“Agreed,” the big Voth echoed. He pulled one loose and whirled it in a different pattern than Ya’Han had used.

“That is the Khan Po Spinning Dragon,” she said as she set her stave back into the rack. “Remember, we may end up fighting shoulder to shoulder and advancing in rows. You can’t be bashing those advancing with you.”

“True,” Zub Enel said as he brought the whirling staff to a vertical stop. “I was just testing its heft.”

“Mm,” was all Ya’Han said, her face distant. As Zub put the stave back into its charging holder, she added, “I’ll need to replicate some other things we might need to slow down any invaders.”

After the racks retracted with soft whispers and clicks and the weapons locker doors closed automatically, the Nylaan stood facing Zub Enel with her boots spread wide, hands still on her hips. “We definitely need to get more intel on how these pirates fight before we meet them.”

Her tall assistant nodded. “I will review all the known reports again. That should help until we can interview people at that trading post in the ARGALIS CLUSTER.”

=-=
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501

and

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
- E. L. Doctorow
M01-005: USS HATHOR: Lopez/Bonviva: 36101.0725
("Serve At the Pleasure of the Federation")
"Serve At the Pleasure of the Federation"
<cont'd from "Sizing Things Up">

=/\=
Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.
-William James

=/\=
Setting: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Section A, Level 6, Waiting Room
Stardate: 36101.0725

(This starts right after Morningstar left after speaking with Koniki)

“How does it feel to be the woman who has everything, Xana?”

Xana Bonviva knew she was an Ambassador.  Most people knew it before she showed up anywhere.  As such she didn’t wear her actual Ambassadorial robes most places unless it was for Federation business. Or in the case of this moment, she wore the robes as a sign of her rank.  Not that the person who was standing here appreciated that.  All the creatures in the universe were tools, to be deployed or fought against it.

With that in mind, Xana took her hands out of the pockets of her Ambassador robes and turned around from the vastness of space that she was looking at to the man before her.  “Charles, if this is *everything* then perhaps we should discuss precisely what the word *everything* means.”

Admiral Charles Koniki did not appreciate the use of his first name, the slight bristle in his stern manner was any indication.  Good.

“You are going out with Morningstar and the crew on the HATHOR,” the Admiral said.  It was less of a question than a statement of fact.  It could have been a question as Ambassador her life didn’t always lend itself to being on a ship for this long.

Xana deliberately kept her face neutral; she wasn’t sure where Koniki was going with this.  She was appreciative of her current post.  A beautiful ship and a kind crew were rare; Gods above and below she knew that.  “I serve at the pleasure of the Federation,” she said, which was her oft repeated phrase when people questioned her.  

Charles continued on, not bothering to acknowledge what she had said.  “Everything means you have what you wanted.  You’ve had your choice of assignments either on the front line or in the backrooms of power.  You have a ship that will help you.”  Pausing he studied her.  “You even have your children.  That one was in doubt with the recent one—”

One sure way to have Xana drop the veneer of Ambassadorial neutrality was to start questioning her family. She divorced her ex-husband but they were still family.  “My ex-husband is and was an excellent husband, no matter what my failings as a spouse maybe.  The only reason I have full custody of my son is because—”

“He went to prison,” Koniki filled in, referring to Xana’s ex-husband.  He paused before leaning in.  “That was very… convenient, wasn’t it?  No nasty custody battles, no cross-galaxy parental hand offs.  No that worked out very nicely for you.”

There were so many reasons why it wasn’t “nice” for her and Ben, let alone her ex, but the Ambassador didn’t think the Admiral cared to hear about that.  Nor did she like the implications that her ex-husband went to prison less for his own actions then because of some larger plot.

“Where are you going with this, Charles?”

It was calculated risk but needling him was the one way to distract him from this current train of monologuing.  The only way out was through this, Xana figured, and that included reminding Charles that she respected him as much as he respected her.  

Koniki snapped then.  “Have fun in the ARGALIS Cluster,” he said.  Leaning in he said, “See if you can define the word “everything” there.”

=/\=
Setting: USS ANUBIS, Bonviva’s quarters
Stardate: 36101.0820

(This is after the mission briefing)

The word had been to pack up a few things and make their way over to their new ship.  They could replicate what they wanted but take only those essentials.

“But I thought I was going to visit Uncle Horatio,” Ben said as he packed a bag.

That had been the plan; after hearing the mission briefing and knowing what Ben went through in the last mission, it had been Xana’s intention to have her brother, Horatio, watch Ben.  Now after talking with Koniki, the Ambassador had the urge to have Ben close by and safe.  Safe was optional on these trips, but he’d be close by at least.

“I’m just saying you told me that Uncle Horatio was coming,” Ben continued on.  “And now you’ve said that I’m going with you.”

“Ben, just pack,” his mother said, her voice full of worry with a thread of firmness.

10-year-old boys do not pick up on nuance; so, Ben kept talking.  “Does Uncle Horatio know this?”

Xana ignored the questions and went about her own packing.  Maybe that would work.

Out of all her children, Ben had the unfortunate disposition to be like his mother; he continued on the path he thought was right. That meant more questions.  “What happens to me going to distance school?  And then you said there would be some new crew.  I know I shouldn’t bother them but could I—”

“BENITO WILLIAM BONVIVA-CRICHTON,” Xana announced, not only “full-naming” her son but doing so in her best deck voice.

With that the door chime rang, Ben ran to answer it.  When he saw the Counselor/Junior Ambassador he smiled in relief.  “Hi Lt. Lopez!”  Tugging her inside before she could even speak, “My mom wants to speak to you.”  Turning to his mother the 10-year-old said, “I just remembered I have to finish my PE homework.”

With that he dashed out the door, leaving Adriana in his wake.

“Ben seems very industrious, and he still calls me Lt. Lopez, this even after all the playtime we spent together,” Adriana commented as she moved inside.  

Xana sighed as she sat down.  Now back in her quarters, she was back to being in her typical casual clothes, her Ambassadorial robes folded neatly next to a bag.  “Ben got on my nerves and I snapped,” she admitted, rubbing her face.  

Adriana nodded as she sat down across from Xana.  “Ben’s getting ready for—”

Xana cut off her friend.  “Ben is coming with me,” she said firmly.  

“That’s a change,” the Counselor noted.  She had known of the plans for Ben to go with Xana’s brother.

Xana sighed as she drummed her fingers on the arm of the chair.  “We’re going to the ARGALIS CLUSTER,” she said, as if that answered everything.

It clearly did not as Adriana just stared at her.  “Okay,” she replied clearly, not making the connection her friend was.  After several moments Adriana said, “Do I get another clue?”

“I have not always been the upstanding Ambassador,” Xana admitted.

Adriana watched her friend for a moment, looking for the tell-tale joking.  No, it appeared that Xana was serious.  “Xana… in the time I’ve known you, during our missions, you’ve threatened to take over a neutral planet, you had us break *into* a prison, you stole a ship that looked like an old EARTH vehicle and I’ve barely scratched the surface,” she pointed out.  “And you’re telling me that all of *that* was upstanding Ambassador?”

Xana had the look of nervous exhaustion.  “Yes.”

Adriana laughed. This was Xana Bonviva, juggling all that she was, all that she tried to be in just a few words. "It's a bad idea but I know better than to argue with you.  Here, On the ANUBIS, Ben had room to play, room to run, and lots of other people to bother when he got bored. Things are not going to be the same on the HATHOR, there are no Ambassadorial quarters, everyone will be sharing bunks. Best case scenario, you get to be in the same room as only one other person.  Where will Ben sleep? What will he do during the day? Will you be bringing him down to whatever away mission we end up on or will you be asking Captain Morningstar to keep an eye on him while you are away?"

"I thought you weren't going to argue with me?" Xana said, shooting a sideways glare at her protégé.

"I was not arguing," the CNS/Junior Ambassador clarified. "I am simply pointing out facts. Arguing would be me challenging your current choice of action by informing you that your choice is wrong or offering an alternative course of action, I am not. All I am doing is presenting the facts, allowing you to make a more educated decision."

"Where did you ever learn to be so conniving?" 

Lopez scanned the Ambassador's quarters to make sure that the item she was searching for was still there and intact, when she didm Adriana invited Xana to gaze into the mirror hanging on the wall. The Human/Bolian woman just scoffed her discontent.  "We will manage. We always manage."

"I am looking forward to seeing how well you manage this time," Adriana said, still not arguing the mother's decision to bring her child onto the HATHOR.  "Between a Caitian FCO who does not appear to be the nice and cuddly type; a CO and ExO who have never served together; a walking godzilla-like Chief of Security who has been demoted to *assistant*; an ILO who from what Nicole has told me can and will be changing personalities on a regular basis; a Doctor with only one bed to treat whatever injuries the crew might collect along the way; two Counselors who are likely going to have their hands full thanks to our previous mission; and an engineer who is locked in a room less than half the size of the one she is used to, I can see that you managing will be a breeze."

Xana stared at Adriana, curious to see if the CNS/Junior Ambassador had done with her bow-to-stern description of the crew and their possible issues. "Ben is coming with me," Bonviva said after confirming that Lopez' rant had come to an end.

"Of course he is," the Hispanic woman agreed. "I was not arguing with you.  You might want to bring a few extra shirts through. Things might get a little rough out there, and I am not referring to the ARGALIS CLUSTER, the ghost ship we are being sent to hunt or the grimmy, dirty locales we will have to visit to obtain any sort of valid Intel on said ship and crew."  Adriana made her way towards the door before offering a few last words, "Better hurry up with the packing though, the HATHOR is leaving at 0900 hours on the dot. You know Captain Morningstar, he does not like to be late for anything, and I am sure he will be looking forward to seeing you *manage* this, as we will all be.  See you soon," and with that Adriana left Xana to finish packing while she thought of the argument that never took place.

-=-=-
Sarah Albertini-Bond
USS ANUBIS

and

Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-006: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36101.0840 ("Status Report")
##########
"Status Report"
Previous posts "Serve At the Pleasure of the Federation"
##########

I choose
To live by choice, not by chance,
To be motivated, not manipulated,
To be useful, not used,
To make changes, not excuses,
To excel, not compete.
I choose self-esteem, not self-pity,
I choose to listen to my inner voice,
not to the random opinions of others.
I choose to do the things that you
won’t so I can continue to do
the things you can’t.
- Miranda Marrott

--==/\==--
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 1, Captain Ready Room
Stardate: 36101.0840

The door chime rang making the Native American raise his gaze from the PADD he had been reading. "Come in."

The door slid open to reveal Lt. Commander Mitshiba holding another set of PADDS. "Here are the department reports, as you requested," she said handing over the handheld devices. "Everything looks good, there should not be any issues with the HATHOR departing on time."

"Good to hear," Erik acknowledged.  "Any problems installing the extra computer processor Sonja requested?"

"None at all," Misaki replied. "Lt. Gemma went down to Main Engineering and lent a hand once the processor was beamed over. It was up and operational in a matter of minutes."

"Captain Iverson did say that her ILO was versatile," Morningstar noted.

"That's an understatement I'm afraid," Mitshiba offered. "Gemma is the proverbial Swiss Army Knife of the BASTET, you just have to be wary of some of her less than friendly personalities."

Erik knew that he could spend hours if not days discussing the BASTET's Intel Operative, but there was simply no time for that now, not with the HATHOR's set departure so close. "How are the rest of the senior staff? Are they adapting well to the new environment and mix crew?"

Misaki hesitated for a moment. She understood that as the ExO it was her responsibility to know this, to make sure that all personnel transitions went well, but she also recognized the fact that she was an integral part of this.  This was not the BASTET and her current CO was not the person she had grown accustomed to.

Easily picking up on this hesitation, Morningstar put down the PADD he was holding and invited his First Officer to sit. "Not a lot of room in here, but they did manage to squeeze in a couple of extra chairs, so sit."  As soon as the Asian woman complied, the Native American spoke. "I understand that this mission is going to be difficult for some. Not only because we are on a ship that we are not used to, but also because we are going to have to closely work with people with styles and ideas very different from what we usually deal with daily. We are all professionals, experienced Starfleet Officers who have faced some of the greatest and darkest moments in recent Federation history. I am not expecting everything to go smoothly, but I am hoping that everyone will do their best to bridge whatever gap might be encountered during the course of this mission. Trust in others is earned, there is no going around that, so we have to start with trusting ourselves in that we can and will make this work.  I am not Selene and will not try to be her, not that I think I could even if I tried my hardest. I also know that you are not Shar'El, and I do not expect you to even try to be like her.  Captain Iverson trusts you, your skills, your knowledge and your insight, and I have no reason to question that trust, so I trust you in the same way she does."

"Thank you, Captain," Misaki said before allowing a faint smile to grace her lips. "You are right, you are not Captain Iverson," she added with a chuckle.  "The senior officers are adapting quite well, at least as far as I have so far seen. Lt. Gemma is likely the one whom we can predict the least because of what she is. Right now, she appears to be more than happy to be part of this mission."

"Good," Erik offered. "I will gladly take that for now. What about the others?"

"Lt. A'Janni is an expert pilot and being placed in charge of the HATHOR's Flight Control is something that he is thrilled about. I was half expecting him to start purring when he first sat at the controls." That made the Captain chuckled, a display that the First Officer was happy to see, something that she was not used to dealing with while working under the Vulcan-like ways of Captain Iverson.

"So far so good," Morningstar said. "Go on," he prompted his First Officer.

"Lt. Commander Maya took over the science station like a fish to water," Misaki said. "Being a scientist myself, I understand her love for all things scientific, but I have to admit that she figuratively jumped in faster than even I would have.  As for Lt. Commander Paquette, she has made herself quite at ease in engineering. It took her only a few minutes to figure out our potential needs and implement ways to make our mission that much easier."

Erik nodded enthusiastically. "Yup, that's Sonja. She's a born problem-solver with an all-out hands-on approach.  I would not be surprised if the HATHOR came back from this mission better than when we leave."

"It already is," Mitshiba pointed out. "Thanks to the new processor, she believes that we will be able to perform short-range jumps using the blink-drive without having to deal with any computer cool-downs.  I am just afraid that when we start doing these *skips*, some of the crew might feel some adverse biological or psychological effects."

"Well, we have a CMO and two CNS to take care of those should it come to that," Morningstar said.  "Speaking of which, how is Doctor Andersson liking her Sickbay?"

"She hates it," Misaki replied without the slightest bit of hesitation. "It is far too small for her liking."

"The size of the HATHOR, unfortunately, means there is limited space for everything, just that fact that people are going to have to share rooms is likely going to cause some friction."

"I am already working on figuring out who will be bunking with whom," Mitshiba stated. "I am doing my best to limit any potential character conflicts."

"Speaking of which, how are Ya'Han and Zub Enel doing?" Morningstar asked. "Of all the members of the senior staff, I believe that the two of them are the ones most likely to get on each other's nerves."

"Ensign Enel is actually a very accommodating officer," Misaki said in his defence. "I believe that he will accept Lieutenant Ya'Han's rank and expertise without any issues. I just hope that she will in turn realize that he does have some difficulties adjusting to some of the finer nuances of being a Starfleet Officer."

"Well, we have all been there at one point or another," Erik stated before going through the list of senior officers in his head. "That leaves the Counsellors and Ambassador."

The Asian First Officer hesitated once again, making it know without actually saying anything that things were not going as well there.  "Counselor Dima is doing what she can to calm Doctor Andersson. As for the Ambassador, she returned to the ANUBIS to get some essential personal items," Misaki explained. "I believe that Counselor Lopez followed her in the hopes of assisting her."

"Great," Erik sighed. "We are scheduled to leave in roughly 15 minutes and both the Ambassador and Junior Ambassador are off the ship. I would say to just leave them behind if they are late, but I fear that we are going to need their special brand of inter-personal skills on this mission. Just looking at the Intel on the ARGALIS CLUSTER is enough to make me want to avoid that place."

"I am sure that they will be both back in time," Misaki said.

"To be perfectly honest with you, I am more concerned about what 'essential personal items' she is going to be bringing back with her," the Native American said as he closed his eyes and gently rubbed his forehead.  "Please see that both Adriana and Xana are back before we leave."

"Aye, aye, Sir," Mitshiba said before leaving Morningstar to his thoughts and likely mounting headache.

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

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-007: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.0845 ("Intel Games")
=-=
"Intel Games"
[the previous post was "Status Report"]
=-=  

Setting: USS BASTET, Bridge
Stardate:  36101.0845

Sitting at the OPS station, the ILO was overseeing the progress of the ongoing work. The HATHOR was scheduled to leave at 0900 and Cpt Morningstar was not one who enjoyed delays. His service record, which Gemma had accessed, clearly showed his dislike for lateness. A character trait that Gemma honestly understood. Therefore, it was prudent to make sure that everything proceeded smoothly. There was no reason to have their CO be in a foul mood at the start of their mission. A trait that the ILO could again personally understand.

Being the ILO, the Captain's dossier was not the only one she accessed. Gemma knew everyone from the BASTET, down to their most personal quirks. So, it made sense that she would extend the same courtesy to the officers of the ANUBIS. Knowing how they acted and reacted could prove essential during their mission. In the game of Intel, the lack of knowledge could, and often was, a fatal flaw.

Gemma decided to go down the list of officers by rank, thus placing Erik Morningstar's dossier at the top. The next dossier was, of course, that of his First Officer. Cmdr. Shar'El's request for a temporary leave of absence was strange. Out of character for someone who had worked so hard to be where she was. It likely had to do with the nightmare she and Gemma had shared. Well, a nightmare for only one of them at least. Upon their return from this mission, the ILO would have to look more closely at this situation. There was a link that tied the two ILOs together. Something that forced them closer than either wished. A connection that Gemma was certain meant more than she could imagine at this time.

Putting the dossier of the ANUBIS's ILO aside, Gemma continued. The next officer was Lt. Cmdr. Maya. The entire content of the file could be summarized in a few words. She was a single-minded scientist who lived for research and discovery. The reason for her being that way was easy to uncover. The shapeshifter wanted to distract herself from what she had lost. Being the last surviving member of a lost world could not be easy. Oddly enough, Gemma felt a certain kinship with the woman. A person able to change who she was while trying to piece her shattered past back together.

Next was Lt. Cmdr. Paquette. Chief Engineer and a talented tinkerer who seemed able to do the impossible. The woman deserved a great deal of respect based on what she had accomplished. That was why Gemma made plans to keep a close eye on her.

Lt. Stark was next. His staying at NEW ALEXANDRIA was no surprise after she read his file. Losing his wife and unborn child had to be a nightmare unto itself. A nightmare that he most certainly had to relive while he was forced to relive his worst fears. That the man had not gone completely mad was a credit to his resilience.  Likely, his feelings for his new flame, Lt. Ya'Han had played an important role in this.  Speaking of the Nylaan CoS, she was the poster child of a troubled youth. Everything she did seemed to prove to someone that she was better than her father believed her to be. The advantage of this was that it made her a formidable fighter. One that was always on the search for ways to improve herself. Zub would be able to learn a few things. Both in what to do and what not to do in certain situations. Likewise, the Nylaan might learn a few things from the Voth.

Lt. JG Satella Bruxa, the ANUBIS' CMO, had also requested to remain behind. The reasons for her request were not as clear cut. Her request preceding that of Lt. Stark meant that he had not been the reason. Maybe she had hoped to distance herself from him. A plan that backfired when he asked for the same. How things would play out between the two was still to be seen. Hopefully Satella knew better than to act in a way that would anger Ya'Han. The Nylaan did not come across as the forgiving type.

The next two dossiers were quite interesting. Lt. JG Adriana Lopez acted as both CNS and Jr Ambassador. The twin missing her other half was a wildcard. She often acted against orders, finding some ways to justify her actions.  Clearly, she had learned this from her mentor, the Bolian/Human Ambassador. The woman's dossier read like a string of bad novels. Escapades, marriages, births and deaths. The woman was even more of a wildcard than her underling. Her Ambassadorial resume was filled with less than stellar events. Obviously, these were the reasons why she had associated herself with Adm. Koniki. She would be another officer from the ANUBIS that Gemma would be keeping an eye on. That is if she ever returned to the HATHOR before its departure.

As Cmdr. Mitshiba returned to the bridge, the Asian woman took a straight path for the ILO. "Gemma, do you know where Ambassador Bonviva and CNS Lopez are?"

The ILO glanced up at the ExO, not even bothering to look at her instruments. "The last time I checked, both were on the ANUBIS."

"The Captain wants me to make sure they are aboard before we leave."

Gemma nodded her head to show her understanding. "I will keep a transporter lock on them. Ready or not, they will be on the HATHOR when we leave."

=-=
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]
M01-008: USS HATHOR: Bonviva: 36101.0850 ("Dizzying")
“Dizzying”
<continued from Rachel’s “Intel Games”>

=/\=
We must stop regarding unpleasant or unexpected things as interruptions of real life.  The truth is that interruptions are real life.
-C.S. Lewis

=/\=
Location: NEW ALEXANDRIA, Observation Lounge
Stardate:  36101.0850

Her brother wasn’t going to make it in time.  

For the last few hours Xana had been torn about what to do with Ben.  Instinctively, she wanted to keep her son close by.  It seemed counter to what most would do, but she knew there was danger.  If he was close by she could do *something*; if she was on the other side of the galaxy then there was *nothing* she could do.

But it was clear that something held up her brother.  Rubbing her face, Xana considered her options.  She could call her eldest child; he was 21 now.  And while Gavi might not be as firm as she would be (homework would NEVER get done); she also knew Gavi would take care of Ben.  But Gavi also was hours, if not days, away.  

So the Ambassador was stuck with this choice.  Fine, Ben would come.

That was the last thought she had before she was enveloped in a blue light.

=/\=
Location:  USS HATHOR, Transporter Room -> Corridor
Stardate:  36101.0855

Xana glared at the unfortunate soul who was manning the transporter console.  “Who said you could do that?” she asked as she dropped her bag on the transporter pad and stomped off the platform.

A large Voth with his dark eyes watchful was instinctively protective of his crew.  “The order came from Captain Morningstar,” he said.

Xana whipped her head around to look at the Security officer to her right.  She appeared to consider that for a moment before she decided something.  “I’ll deal with him in a moment.  First I need to find a console.”  

The Security officer was not impressed by the Ambassadorial temper tantrum.  Passing over a PADD he said, “Here is the information you are looking for: your quarters, who you’re sharing with, work assignments—”

Xana took the PADD, turned around to pick up her bag, before pivoting again to the two people in the room. “Thank you.”  

With that she walked out of the room and smacked into Captain Morningstar.  “Even for you I’m not making peace with the pirates,” she announced in no uncertain terms.  “I think I know who it is and if I’m right then I can’t.  You have the wrong person for this job.”

Morningstar watched the Bolian/Human walk down the corridor and simply said with little emotion in his voice. It was clear he was used to Ambassadorial meltdowns and it didn't phase him in the least. “Good to have you on board, Ambassador.”  Following her he asked, “Do you want to—”

“No not really,” she said.  Pivoting she said, “But I imagine at some point I’ll have to tell you.  That moment is not this moment however.”  Then she pivoted back the way she was going and continued her inexorable march down the corridor.

Morningstar did not get to where he was if he hadn’t learned to deal with incalcitrant people, Ambassadors or not.  “Ambassador.”

Xana sighed and turned around again.  “Gods above and below, I’m getting dizzy.”  Walking to the Captain she said, “Look you’re going to want to know what I know.  But know that I need a console before we can chat.”

“Writing to Admiral Koniki?” the Captain asked.

The azure woman glared at the Captain.  “Captain, we’re beyond that kind of pettiness or so I thought.  I deal with Koniki the same way I do with a toothache – quickly so as to remove the pain and with plenty of mind-numbing antidotes afterwards.” Sighing she said, “I was beamed here before I could get Ben to a guardian and I want to settle that quickly so I can tell you that this mission is—”

“Not able to be peaceable,” Morningstar finished off.  It was well known that the Ambassador was devoted to her children, and Ben, her 10-year-old, had started to create a home on the ANUBIS.  It was not unexpected that the Ambassador wanted to see him settled.  Waving her off he said, “We will reconvene later.”

Xana sighed and said, “Lovely.  I’ll be the one with the liquor and the food.  Just tell me where and when to show up.”  

=/\=
TO: Jayson Stark, Lieutenant and Satella Bruxa, Lieutenant JG
FROM: Xana Bonviva, Ambassador
SUBJECT: Favor

Hello Jayson and Satella – 

I have a favor to ask each of you.  Please find Ben and keep him safe.  My brother was supposed to come and watch him but he didn’t arrive before I was sent to the HATHOR.  I’ve also asked my eldest son, Gavi, to come in case my brother can’t make it.  One of them should come; I’ve attached their latest pictures and bios so you can recognize either one of them.  

I appreciate this and I am in your debt.

Please tell Ben I love him and will be back as soon as I can.

Thank you,

Xana

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond
USS ANUBIS
M01-009: USS HATHOR: Lopez: 36101.0855 ("No Time for Hypnosis")
-=-=-
"No Time for Hypnosis"
[the previous post was Sarah's "Dizzying"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.0855

Three women sat in what the ship's schematics listed as 'Sickbay', a title that Doctor Andersson felt was quite an exaggeration, especially when there were two visitors present

"All of the medical needs will be mine, but I might need some assistance depending on what sort of mess we end up in," Sofia said while sitting cross legged on the one and only treatment bed while the other two were on whatever crates they had managed to find. "I do not have a medical staff here, not that there is room for any. I barely have enough room for an extra medkit, let alone a nurse. So, I am going to need to rely on someone else should injuries start piling up."

"Don't look at me," Adriana said waving both her hands in front of her. "My fields of studies were Psychology, Sociology, Memory retrieval using Hypnosis and Linguistics. I am clearly not the best person to assist you should 'injuries start piling up'."

"Memory retrieval using Hypnosis! Really?" The joint Trill sounded honestly fascinated by the earlier statement. "In all my lifetimes, I have never tried that. Thanks to Dima I have more memories that I can keep track of, but to actually go under hypnosis to retrieve more of those experiences, some that might have gotten lost in all of the moves from one host to the next might be fun."

"Hey!" Sofia exclaimed, her hands resting firmly on her hips, a sight that proved somewhat amusing given that she was still sitting cross legged on the bed. "I thought we were discussing *my* needs here?"

"Don't I always take care of your needs?" Nicole said in a teasing manner before adding a playful wink.

"Alright you two," Adriana said, leaning back as far as the small room permitted. "As interesting as this might be, I skipped the advanced classes of inter-racial biology for a reason. Maybe I should hypnotize you both into believing that we are in some kind of monastery."

"One of my previous hosts did something similar in a monastery, so that won't help," Nicole said grinning.

The three women started to laugh, realizing the absurdity of their predicament. Trying to have a meeting in such a tight space was in itself an exercise in futility, lending itself to them going off subject, which they had.  The overall joviality came to an abrupt halt when the door opened to reveal a less than happy-looking Bolian/Human woman.

"THERE YOU ARE!" Xana blasted as she walked into the small medical bay, easily reaching the one person she had been searching for.

"Looks like the hypnosis session will have to wait," Nicole whispered to herself as she turned to look at the sitting Sofia. "Your skills and expertise might be required a lot earlier than expected," the Counselor said to the Doctor as the Trill moved away from the battleground that would pit the Ambassador vs the Junior Ambassador.

"You! Me! Meeting! Now!" It was not like Xana to use single word sentences, which only further demonstrated the extent of her mood.

"We are in the middle of a meeting," the Junior Ambassador said, glancing at the other two women before adding, "well, sort of. In any case, I am sure that this can wait." The truth was that Adriana had wanted to give Xana a few minutes to cool down. As a Counselor, Lopez knew that it was pointless to try to calm someone when they were in such an agitated state.  As a Junior Ambassador though, she should have known that her trying to oppose Bonviva would only make a bad situation worse.

"My apologies ladies," Xana said, addressing Doctor Andersson and Counselor Dima. " It would seem that my underling, a Junior Ambassador, has forgotten how the diplomatic chain of command functions. I promise that she will be returned to you in large enough pieces for you to put her back together again, with some effort."

Adriana quickly rose to her feet and offered a silent 'sorry' to the other two women before falling in step with Xana who had already started to walk out.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-010: USS HATHOR: A’Jann/Enel: 36101.0855 ("Rattling Some Scales")
=-=
“Rattling Some Scales”
Previous posts: "No Time for Hypnosis” by Marissa

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0855

“Rapid blink jumps? Who came up with that idea?" The Voth asked as he entered the Bridge. He stopped just behind the Captain’s chair. His gaze was riveted on a set of portable secondary processors installed near the Flight station.

"I did," the Caitian proudly replied.

"It's madness," the Voth gasped.

"Well, our Chief Engineer likes it, and so does our Chief Science Officer."

"Alright, you are all MAD. The ship may be able to do rapid jumps, but what about the defensive and offensive systems? The shields take several seconds to engage after a jump because of the power transfer, and there is no way our targeting sensors are going to be able to lock onto anything, especially if we performed several back-to-back jumps beforehand. The system can't adapt that quickly."

"The idea is for the HATHOR to be able to keep up with that ghost ship," the Caitian FCO said.

"It won't do us any good if they can destroy us without any real effort. With our shields down, a single lucky shot would end our mission right there and then."

"They would have to hit us first," A'Janni grinned. "The HATHOR is far more maneuverable than the BASTET. In fact, this ship could run circles around a full fleet of warships trying to hit us. You also forget that we have a cloaking device. If things get too heated, we can always vanish from sight and sensors."

"Again, the cloaking device, like the shields, will take several seconds to engage following a jump. It's a tactical flaw in the Blink Drive, one that I made a point to look into. We also have no data on how multiple jumps will affect our systems, we might not even be able to raise shields or cloak at all if the power is completely depleted or worse, one of the conduits ruptures."

"You really are a pessimist, aren't you?" The furry FCO shook his head at the scaly Voth.

"No, I am a realist. The security of this ship and its crew cannot be left to chance or the perceived piloting skills of an overgrown kitty."

The Caitian straightened as if slapped. His one remaining white eye dilated until his iris formed a thin ring of ivory. “I guess whether or not this modification compromises the ship’s defenses is up to the Chief of Security to decide.”

Ya'Han was at the Tactical station preparing for the HATHOR’s first mission jump. Her hair had changed during the testy exchange between the two enormous males from streaked black and red to ever larger streaks of ruby red. She turned a scowling face toward the 7-foot Voth. “Your objections are far too late for any of us to do anything about it, Ensign. I have taken into consideration our vulnerabilities. Lt. A’Janni is right. The benefits of the HATHOR being able to make quick jumps will outweigh the drawbacks. The HATHOR should be able to target its jumps well enough to give it those few extra seconds we need to deploy shields or engage the cloaking device.”

Zub Enel felt his downy feathers rising between his scales. He closed his fists at the triumphant look A’Janni gave him. He narrowed his eyes at the Nylaan who stared back at him implacably with her black eyes. After another moment of assessment, Ya’Han turned her back to him. So did A’Janni, both of them returning to pre-jump preparations.

For the first time in a very long time Zub felt as if he was adrift parsecs away in deep, cold space. His heartbeat felt feebler. His stomach slowly twisted. He smarted at how he had been reminded that aboard the HATHOR he was not Chief of Security. His opinion, like his diminished status, carried as little weight as a loose feather. He pressed his lips together as he worked not to sigh. He clasped his three-fingered hands behind him and took up his new position as Assistant Chief of Security - at the back of the Bridge. He scowled at A’Janni’s back.

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

and

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Family quarrels are bitter things. They don't go according to any rules. They're not like aches or wounds, they're more like splits in the skin that won’t heal because there is not enough material.“
 - F. Scott Fitzgerald
M01-011: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.0900 ("Note To Self")
"Note to Self"
Previous posts: Rattling Some Scales"

///^\\\
Setting: USS BASTET, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0900

First Officer's personal log, stardate 36101.09,

Here we go.

The HATHOR, under the command of Captain Erik Morningstar, is off on its mission, and by all accounts it has been a rough start. Setting aside the mission objective to find a pirate ship that is terrorizing the region of space near and around the ARGALIS CLUSTER, and hopefully apprehend the crew and leader so that they can answer for their crimes, the crew needs to first figure out how to work together. To be honest, things could have been a lot worse in that regard. Forcing two groups of people with distinct ways and ideas together is never an easy feat, and always requires a certain time of adjustments. Unfortunately, due to the urgent nature of our mission, we all have been thrown into the proverbial 'deep-end' from the get go, and that has not helped to make things any easier.

The moment I saw the crew roster, I suspected that there might be some issues with our Security department. I do have the utmost respect for Lt. Ya'Han as it is evident in reading her Starfleet record and seeing her in action that she a formidable Sec/Tac, but she and Ensign Zub are, aside from physical characteristics, two very distinct people who approach their duties and responsibilities from different angles. I can only guess that his being assigned as her assistant, a technical demotion, was part of the reason why he and Lt. A'Janni had a blow out right there on the bridge just before our departure. That Lt. Ya'Han sided with our Caitian FCO only made things worse forcing me, as First Officer, to sooner rather than later step in and see what I can do to smooth things over.

Speaking of my being First Officer, I will say that it is oddly refreshing to only have to worry about one set of responsibilities.  I do miss being the head of the science department, that has always been what I had wanted to do and be but being able to focus on just being an ExO is something that I am actually looking forward to. Knowing that the task of dealing with all things scientific will be handled by Lt. Commander Maya does make it that much easier, the woman is a natural in that field. Then again, my not being able to work side-by-side with her is a downer, but I have the strange feeling that this mission is not going to be overly heavy on scientific research and discoveries.

The best thing we can do at the moment as a single crew is to focus on the mission and its objective. Our first stop in the ARGALIS CLUSTER will be some sort of planetoid upon which a trading post has been established. Based on the Intel we have on this place, whoever little it may be, it is clear that this is not going to be a leisurely stop. Some of the worst kinds of people frequent that remote outpost located well beyond the jurisdiction of any major government influence of military oppression. That makes it the perfect place for people who do not wish to have to answer questions and yet that is where we are heading seeking answers.

Let's just hope that finding this ghost ship and stopping it from continued in its pirating ways will be easier than it sounds. I do find it odd though that this is the first time we heard about this ship, and that only because something was stolen from one of the NEW ALEXANDRIA's transport cruisers.  So we the HATHOR is being sent in to 'apprehend' its leader so that he can be brought to justice, at least that's the official story. I just can't help the feeling that there is something more, something more sinister about this whole affair. Although Captain Morningstar is easier to read than Captain Iverson, I am not entirely certain that he feels the same way. I can see a hint of distrust but that could be due to the two crews being forced together for this mission.

I guess only time will tell.

End of personal log.

///^\\\
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-012: USS HATHOR: Maya: 36101.0905 ("Next Stop, the ARGALIS CLUSTER")
---
"Next Stop, the ARGALIS CLUSTER"
(Previous Post: "Note to Self")
---

Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0905

Passing through the massive opening left by the parting doors protecting the docking area of the NEW ALEXANDRIA complex was always something that fascinated the Shillian scientist. Aside from the similar door system found on Starbase 1, which orbited EARTH, this was one of the few places in the Federation where one could feel as if the whole of the universe was opening before their very eyes.  As majestic as the scenery was though, Maya was looking forward to an even more prestigious sight; the HATHOR blinking from one location in space to a distant other far out of reach of their instruments.

It was true that there would be very little to *see* as the entire process actually took less than a second when you disregarded all of the preparations that went into performing this scientific miracle, but the Shillian was not planning to just *look* as the event. From the science console on the bridge of the HATHOR, the Chief Science Officer would be able to monitor the energy buildup around the ship and the creation of a tachyon shell that would allow the vessel to break all known limitations of Faster-than-light travel. When compared to what the Blink-Drive could do, the standard Warp Engines seemed to be centuries out-of-date.  The USS HATHOR would be able to travel hundreds of lightyears in the blink of an eye, likely the reason for naming the device responsible for this the way they had.

This was possible thanks to the genius work done by Professor Elijah Arken, a man that Maya could not help but admire for what he had created. In many ways, she felt a sense of pride in him and his work that she could only hope one day someone else would feel for her in regards to something she had accomplished.

"We have cleared the interference field of  NEW ALEXANDRIA," the Flight Control Officer announced, the Caitian sounding almost as excited as the Shillian felt.  As short-lived as the event would be, it was still something momentous to be part of, a sentiment that A'Janni appeared to share.

"Bridge to Main Engineering," Captain Morningstar said after opening a communication channel. "Stand by to engage the Jump-Drive."

=/\= Ready when you are, Captain, =/\= Sonja acknowledged in a far more cautious tone than Maya knew the woman to usually express herself in. It made sense for the Chief Engineer to be a little nervous though, as this was neither her ship nor the propulsion system that she had developed a strange and unique relationship with.  Paquette always referred to the ANUBIS as *she*, but the anthropomorphism of the ship went well beyond the woman simply assigning humanoid attributes and even feelings to an inanimate object. The redhead engineer actually considered the vessel as being a living entity with moods and feelings.  To her, the HATHOR was an entirely different *person* that she needed to make friends with on a level that went far beyond what anyone else could consider or maybe even imagine.

"Lt. Gemma..." the Captain continued, turning to look at the Chief of Operations who never allowed him to finish his sentence.

"Jump coordinates for the ARGALIS CLUSTER have been entered into the jump-drive matrix," the Intel Liaison Officer reported. "It should take only a few seconds for the calculations to be completed. Our destination is a small gaseous cloud roughly .74 lightyears from our final destination. The particles present there should be more than sufficient to hide our arrival and presence, at least long enough for us to engage our cloaking device."

There was no denying the fact that Gemma knew what she was doing and that the woman excelled in her role as Chief of Operations.

"Very well," the Captain acknowledged before opening a ship-wide channel. "Attention all hands, stand by for Blink-Drive activation. Secure all stations."

Maya braced herself, not that she needed to. All of the data compiled on the Jump-drive since its initial first activation had allowed for the process to be as smooth as possible, leaving the crew of the HATHOR almost unaware that something was happening unless they were directly involved.

"Tachyon field at saturation point," Gemma reported.

"Coordinates set, the helm is responding," A'Janni added.

Everything was as it should, and soon the HATHOR and its crew would find themselves clear across the Beta Quadrant into a region of space that only the bravest souls dared to venture within.

The Captain eased himself to the edge of his seat in anticipation before giving the order. "Engage!"

Maya felt a slight rush as she felt a static electrical change come and go as if they had passed through some sort of polarized field. The truth was far more exciting as her instruments confirmed that the ship had successfully completed its jump.

"Long-range sensors are coming back online," the Chief Science Officer reported. "Visual locations and identification of major star groups and constellations, not to mention the surrounding gaseous cloud around the HATHOR, confirms that we have arrived at the targeted coordinates. The 6 main stars which comprise the core of the ARGALIS CLUSTER are on a heading of 341 mark 3. Sensors are back online, so I can confirm that we are as Lieutenant Gemma predicted point 74 lightyears from our intended destination. No ships or any sort of observation post has been identified. It would appear that no one was here to witness our arrival, so it should be smooth sailing from this point forward."

"Let us keep it that way," Gemma said. "Engaging cloaking device."

"Welcome to the outer edge of the Beta Quadrant," Lieutenant Commander Mitshiba said. "Our next stop, the ARGALIS CLUSTER."

"Aye aye," the Flight Control Officer said. "Setting course 341 mark 3. At normal cruising speed, we will arrive in just over an hour."

---
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)
M01-013: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.0910 ("Nothing New")
=-=
"Nothing New"
[the previous post was "Next Stop, the ARGALIS CLUSTER"]
=-=  

Setting: USS BASTET, Bridge
Stardate:  36101.0910

To Gemma, the ARGALIS CLUSTER was nothing special. It was just a collection of stars and planetary systems tightly packed into a relatively small region of space. Due to its location, no major power could be bothered to claim the area as theirs. This made the area into a safe-haven for thieves, crooks and the worst societies had to offer. This was a realm of lawlessness and chaos where only the strongest prevailed. Diplomacy, at least in its civilized incarnation, would be useless. Words had no meaning and threats were pointless. That is unless you could back them up yourself with immediate action. The crew of the HATHOR would have no choice but to use force to make any headway. This was not a place for the weak. Hesitation could get you killed, and compassion was something that existed only in another reality.

Even though she had never set foot on any of those worlds, the ILO already knew how such places behaved. Actions were all that mattered. Anyone going there would be judged and tested the moment they set foot on the ground. The away team would be strangers; people to avoid or be crushed.  Those who called this place home would only acknowledge others if they survived their first few encounters. Even the natives to this place needed to prove themselves on a regular basis, Weakness was not accepted or tolerated, not in any form.

Never having been in a place like this before meant trouble for any newcomer. Their strength, both physical and mental, would be immediately tested. As for trust, that would never even be considered. There was no such thing as friends in a place like this. The best anyone could hope was to find someone with shared goals and interests. Allegiances rang only as deep as the packets of those who could pay.

If the crew of the HATHOR was to stand any sort of chance, the ILO would need to draw on past experiences. As an ILO she had visited similar locations and faced their hardships head on. The one advantage Gemma had was that she could also draw on the experiences of others.

According to Jinx, her most memorable hunts were in places very much like this. The bounties she was after often sought refuge in such locations. They believed that no one would dare to chase them there. That was part of the reason why these hunts were amongst the favorites for the Bounty Hunter. Just walking into a place like this was a challenge, a thrill. Every step was an invitation for trouble. Each sideways glance hinted to dark and dangerous thoughts. That was what made those hunts that much sweeter.

Anya also remembered some of her travels into such unsavory surroundings. Her recollections echoed very closely those of the Bounty Hunter. The one major difference though was the final body count once the dust finally settled. In both cases, the accounts were a warning as to what the HATHOR would have to deal with. The crew needed to be ready for a fight. Not a battle for power or control, but for their very lives. Any show of weakness would doom their mission and likely led to their very unpleasant deaths.

With that in mind, Gemma glanced over to the Nylaan and Voth. It would be unwise to ask them both to beam down together. Although their combined strength would be an asset, one of them needed to remain on the HATHOR. There was no way to tell if someone out there could pierce their cloaking device. So, they needed to be ready for that possibility, even if it was an unlikely one. Of course, the question was which between them should accompany the away team?

There was no questioning their prowess in combat. Both would be more than capable of defending themselves as well as the members of their away team. The problem was, as strange as it may seem, their appearance. Ya'Han's looks were sure to draw attention and not be the kind that would make things easier. Zub's imposing stature would most certainly catch the curiosity of onlookers.  The problem is that some might see him as a perfect target to test their strength and prove themselves to their fellow scum.

In the end, though, it would be the Captain's call. The best Gemma could do was to offer her thoughts and whatever insight she possessed. The ARGALIS CLUSTER might never have been visited by them, but it was by no means an unknown place.

=-=
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]
M01-014: USS HATHOR: Enel/Mitshiba: 36101.0915 ("An Eye Opened")
“An Eye Opened”
Previous post: “Nothing New” by Rachel 

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0915

With the jump behind them, and the HATHOR under the protection of its cloaking device, the ExO thought that this was the best possible time for her to speak with the Assistant Chief of Security.

"Ensign Enel, could I see you in the observation room, please."

Zub was instantly nervous. It was never a good sign when a senior officer politely asked for anything. Of course, there was no way the Voth would refuse. As unsettled as he may have been, he still trusted the Asian woman implicitly.

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 36101.0916

Ensign Zub Enel was already in the lounge when Commander Mitshiba arrived. The top of his crested head hovered a faction below the ceiling in the small room. His hands were clasped behind his back as he gazed out into a cloud of amber glowing gas. A star field sprinkled with bright blue gems and a few dimmer red ones was slowly growing clearer as the HATHOR steadily cruised through ever thinner gas. He turned as she came in. 

“Thank you,” she said breezily as she took a nearby seat. “Enjoying the view?”

He took a seat down the table from her, but facing her. He rumbled, “The stars of the Beta Quadrant look remarkably like the stars of the Alpha Quadrant.”

She nodded. “Amazing how the laws of physics hold everything together the exact same way even trillions and quintillions of parsecs from where the laws were first discovered.” She stopped herself from gushing forth more science trivia. 

Zub Enel rested his long arms on the table. He interlaced his three fingered hands and looked at her expectantly.

“Alright," she said, reading his expression, “Why are we here?” She immediately raised a hand in a stop motion. “Not the existential 'Why Are We Here' question,” she half giggled as her words came out too fast. She realized she was nervous, maybe as much as he was. The Asian woman reset her composure. She reminded herself that this was an officer she had worked well with on many missions. Aki imitated his clasped hands in a subtle effort to make them both feel more connected. “I will be honest with you, Zub Enel. I noticed you had a heated exchange with Ya’Han and A’Janni before the jump. You looked unhappy afterward.”

A silence stretched between them as his golden eyes assessed her expression. He said, softly for such a big brute of a lizard man, “I have not asked you to intercede for me.”

“I’m not,” she said quickly but firmly. “As First Officer it is my duty to ensure the ship and all its crew work smoothly together to accomplish our mission. I am making sure I understand how you feel after that tense exchange and what you plan to do about it. It will only be after your answer that I will decide if there is a need for me to *intercede* as you have mentioned.” It was hard for Aki to keep a stern, professional tone while at the same time trying to offer the junior officer the assistance and support he might be unable to voice his needs for.

“I see,” he said. He sat still and looked at her.

She prompted, “Please be honest. I promise it won’t leave this room. You’re upset. That is correct, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he admitted. He huffed out a sigh. His down became visible in the overhead lights, making it possible to see it stirred as if the Voth was sitting under an active air vent. He frowned for only a few seconds then shook his head and shrugged.

She asked, “You’re not sure how you feel?”

“It is complicated,” he said.

“Just spew it out, Zub Enel. I don’t need a perfect description of what is going on in one sentence. I assure you, I’ll be able to spot the pattern.”

 He gave her a genuine smile of admiration. “Yes, you are very good at that.” He paused, allowing his thoughts to coalesce into words he was able to speak.  “I feel,” he said. He put a hand up to his mouth and pulled his scaly lower lip out straight and then let it go. “I feel that my argument about the defensive and offensive capabilities of this vessel being compromised was not taken seriously.”

“Why is that upsetting?”

“I think I was right and A’Janni pulled rank on me to win.”

“You mean when he asked the Chief of Security to decide who was right?”

“Yes. He did that to hurt me.”

Aki was silent a moment or two. “As I recall, you and he exchanged differing views concerning the speed of recovery of critical systems after several quick blink jumps.”

“Yes.”
 
She said gently, “This is just an observation. He didn’t ask Ya’Han for her opinion until after you called him an overgrown kitty.”

The big Voth winced. “Correct.”

“You called him a big kitty, on the Bridge, in front of a mixed crew of senior staff. You probably embarrassed him. Perhaps he was simply lashing back.”

Zub Enel was silent as he considered her interpretation of the event. He flattened his scaly palms on the table. “Tit for tat?”

“That seems a logical description of how your argument devolved.”

Zub Enel scrunched up his big face as if in pain. His tone was more contrite. “In retrospect, I did call him names. That was not very professional of me.”

The ExO nodded. She kept judgement out of her tone. “I am sure that as smart and experienced as our senior officers are, you will encounter other objections to any view on a course of action you state. It is actually supposed to be that way. Offering differing views. Picking the best argument or course of action for the entire ship. Accepting someone else’s course of action. That is what Captain Morningstar expects from us.”

The Voth’s scales colored deep red before they quickly faded to brown. He said emphatically, “I do see now that I need to handle similar situations better.”

The Asian woman added, “Ya’Han is a highly experienced and capable officer. She is also quite forthright. It will not occur to her to spare your feelings if she disagrees with you because she will mean nothing personal by disagreeing. She has all of our best interests in mind, her own way.”

The scaly Assistant Chief of Security put his big hands into his lap. He held the Commander’s gaze. “I will keep my emotions in check. Duty first. Ego last.”

Aki gave a soft sigh. She smiled up at the Ensign. “Is it true to say that you and I are in agreement?”

The big ensign nodded. He rubbed at his nose. He rested loose fists on the table. “Yes, Sir. We are.”

“Thank you, Zub Enel. I am returning to my other duties. When you’re ready, you should do the same.”

The Voth stood when the ExO stood. “Yes, Sir. Thank you, Sir.”

"You have nothing to thank me for," the Asian woman said. "I am simply trying to understand what happened and by doing so make you understand it as well. You and A'Jannie are friends, that is obvious to anyone who sees the two of you together. You two have always enjoyed a certain engaging in back-and-forth bantering, and there is nothing wrong with that. The only issue is the context in which this last exchange happened. I think that both of you allowed your emotions to take over, and that is never a good thing.  On a purely professional level, your objections and reason for them were voiced and noted, that is all you can do. We have to trust each other to take the best possible course of actions to complete this mission and have everyone return safe and sound. We all bring different opinions, perspectives and experiences to the table, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel hurt or even targeted when our voices are not considered in the way we might have hoped for.  I am sure that Captain Morningstar will disagree with more on many things during the course of this mission, but it is my role as his ExO to voice my concerns and objections, even if only to make sure he has considered all of the possibilities.  As the Assistant Chief of Security, it is your duty to offer Lt. Ya'Han as well as everyone else your opinions, especially if it differs from what may have been previously decided."

Aki stopped talking realizing that she was on the verge of a full blown lecture.  So she smiled at the standing Voth, leaning back her head in order to look into his eyes. After sharing a few seconds of silence between them, she left him there in the Lounge to contemplate not only her words but also the six brightest stars of the ARGALIS CLUSTER blazing at his back.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

To err is human; but contrition felt for the crime distinguishes the virtuous from the wicked.
 - Vittorio Alfieri.”

with some assistance by

Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-015: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36101.0920 ("One Hour Too Long")
=-=
“One Hour Too Long”
Previous posts: "An Eye Opened" by David and Dawn
=-=

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.0920

When things were quiet, the CMO would normally take a basic inventory of the medical supplies and equipment, making sure that nothing had been misplaced, broken, or lost. Given the size of the Sickbay on the HATHOR, such a task had required no more than a couple of minutes, and was completed without the physician taking a single step. Well, alright, maybe a few, but it sure did not feel like she had walked any significant distance during the time it took to complete this.

"Is it bad that I actually hope someone stumps a toe or something?" Sofia asked of the only other person in the small room.

"I believe you voicing that aloud constitutes a direct violation of your Hippocratic oath," Nicole grinned, the joint Trill now being the one sitting cross legged on the only biobed this Sickbay possessed. "I am afraid that I will have to report such a blatant transgression to the Captain.

"Just raise your voice a little," the Doctor sighed. "This ship is small enough that I am sure he will hear you."

"It is not that bad," the Counselor offered. "You are just antsy because there is not that much room for you to go running around. Remember, I have seen you on the BASTET when you get nervous. All of the medkits get rather edgy knowing that you are going to be yanking them from their peaceful rest to have their insides laid out on the nearest flat surface to be thoroughly inspected before being put back."

"I am not *that* bad," Sofia argued but did not press the issue knowing that Nicole was right. Doing what she had described helped the physician to calm her nerves, especially when they were about to deal with some unknown. Right now, the ARGALIS CLUSTER was about as big of an unknown as it got. "I just need to keep myself occupied."

"What's the worst thing that could happen?" Dima inquired. "We are currently on the Intel gathering portion of our mission. Once we arrive at our first stop, an away team will beam down, ask a few questions and return. Then it's nothing more than rinse and repeat until we have enough to figure out where this ghost ship is."

"Are you actually asking me what I think could go wrong?!?" Andersson was besides herself with astonishment. "Where do I start? There are just too many possibilities. Let's start with the HATHOR is somehow detected despite being under cloak. We run into the ship we are looking for and get into a fight that could lead to several people getting injured or worse, die."

"At least that way you would be busy and not going out of your mind imagining what could happen," Nicole said matter-of-factly.

"You are not being funny."

"I am not trying to be funny," the Counselor pointed out. "I am trying to make you see the absurdity of you trying to keep your mind on what *might* happen. You said it yourself, there are just too many possibilities. There is nothing more you can do at this time. You and I can only wait for something to happen and that's it."

"You make it sound so simple."

"After multiple lifetimes of getting myself all worked up for various reasons, you get to realize that it serves no purpose. It can actually be counterproductive as it makes you to be in such a state that you end up not being able to properly respond to an issue when it happens. Come," the Trill said tapping the vacant area on the bed next to her. "Sit, relax and keep me company.  We should arrive in a little less than an hour, and we will see what happens then."

"One hour?!?" Sofia gasped. "Maybe we can go around the HATHOR and see where the emergency medits are."

The joint Trill just shook her head. "My guess is that they ran off the shi the moment they heard *you* were coming aboard. Fine, let's go. At least that way you won't be creating a hole in the floor plates currently beneath your feet.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Lieutenant JG Sofia Andersson [Access Character BIO for Sofia Andersson]
Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-016: USS HATHOR: Bonviva/Lopez: 36101.0920 ("There Is Always More")
-=-=-
"There Is Always More"
[the previous post was Tiffany's "One Hour Too Long"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS HATHOR, Quarters
Stardate: 36101.0920

Adriana and Xana shared one of the quarters on the USS HATHOR, an arrangement that made sense as it allowed the two members of the diplomatic team to discuss matters, past, present, and future.  At least that had been the intent, but following the Ambassador's sudden arrival on the ship, very few words had been shared between the two women.

"The ARGALIS CLUSTER is actually something to behold," Lopex said as she sat on the bottom bunk, looking at the relayed image being displayed on the bridge's main monitor.  The statement had nothing to do with Ambassadorial duties, but Adriana hoped that it would be a starting point to start a conversation.  One of the disadvantages of the HATHOR, aside from its restrictive space, was the complete lack of windows in the crew quarters which seemed to only exacerbate Bonviva's unspoken desire to be left alone.

"No matter how it looks, it's going to be a nasty place for us to go to," Bonviva grumbled, the Bolian/Human hybrid was clearly not impressed by whatever site the Junior Ambassador was looking at.

"Have you been there before?" Adriana gasped. As unlikely as that was, Lopez was not about to simply dismiss the possibility, especially knowing that the Ambassador was known for having traveled to distant locations in the name of serving Federation interests. Also, the Hispanic Counselor hoped to keep the verbal momentum going.

"I have not," Xana somberly said as she made her way down the upper bunk using the opening on the wall as a ladder. "I just know the type," she added, keeping her answers to short, one sentence statements.

"Why does it sound like that's not the whole story?" The Junior Ambassador pressed. Adriana needed to keep Xana talking, at least that way the Ambassador would be thinking about something other than what was troubling her which the Counselor understood even if she herself was not a mother.

"Is it ever?" Xana cryptically answered with a question of her own which was more than enough to confirm that there was something the Ambassador was not saying.  The Ambassador, now fully on the ground, began to pace.  “This is transfrontier diplomacy.  Diplomacy traditionally is about maintaining relationships for mutually beneficial relationships. This is closer to consociationalism than anything else.”

Adriana thought about that.  “Consociationalism refers to a power sharing mechanism.  It’s often divided up by some kind of socio-cultural line such as language.”  Pausing she said, “Not to put too fine a point on it, but we’re chasing pirates.  Not dealing with warring factions.”

Xana nodded as she pivoted and continued her pacing.  “So if we bring these so-called pirates to justice… what will happen to this area?”

Adriana looked up to the ceiling.  “I want to say have peace and prosperity but I’m sure you’ll say—”

“Not going to happen,” Xana filled in.  “The vast majority of pirates throughout history were not interested in wealth making, but just getting supplies.  Their goal was to disrupt the local area.  Why?”

The Junior Ambassador asked, “Am I back in Federation History class?  Is there going to be a pop quiz?”

The azure woman ignored that and continued on.  “They did it for politics. It was to disrupt the local political establishment, with the backing of another government.  Some even had armadas at their disposal just to do this.”  Stopping in front of Adriana she said, “The *how* of pirates traveled may have changed but the reasons *why* remain the same.  I would bet that these pirates have the implicit, if not explicit, backing to do what they're doing.  We remove them and it’s going to cause bigger problems.”

“Isn’t that for Admiral Koniki to solve,” Adriana replied.  When Xana just made a face she continued on, “Okay point taken.”  Sighing she said, “So this is consociationalism – we’re dealing with some kind of power sharing and we need to make everyone happy.  But how does that tie into transfrontier diplomacy?”

“Most times we have goals we want to accomplish – trade deals, science to exchange, etcetera.  Our primary goal here is to survive.  That’s it,” Xana said.

The Ambassador's words left her Junior Assistant thinking about what they were truly here for. It was not like Admiral Koniki to not consider all aspects and possible outcomes of a mission. The man was well known for having plans within plans and back-ups at the ready in case something outside of the expected came into play.  So the question remained, what else was going on with these pirates and the ARGALIS CLUSTER?

-=-=-
Sarah Albertini-Bond
USS ANUBIS

and

Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-017: USS HATHOR: A'Janni: 36101.0935 ("Hide and Seek")
=-=
“Hide and Seek”
Previous posts: "There Is Always More” by Marissa and Sarah

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.0935

The HATHOR was about halfway to the ARGALIS CLUSTER and everything was going well. The ship had not encountered anything, and even if they had the cloaking device would have kept them from being detected. If this was an indication of how the mission would proceed, the Caitian might be able to kick back and simply enjoy piloting.

"Captain," Ya'Han said from the Tactical Station. "Sensors are picking up two small vessels of unknown configuration on a heading of 014 mark 27. They appear to be engaged in battle with one another. Distance 320 million kilometers."

"Helm, adjust our course to give these ships as much fighting room as possible. I do not want us to get caught up in their conflict." Captain Morningstar ordered, causing the FCO to slightly sigh as he complied. The detour would not add any significant time to their journey to the ARGALIS CLUSTER, but it would end the peacefulness they had been enjoying up to that point.

"There is something odd about these ships," Gemma noted from the Operations station. "The engine's power readouts of those ships appears to be far too weak to account for them being so far away from any point of origin."

"Confirmed," Maya added from the science station. "We are looking at two short-range interceptors, very much like the VIPERs on the ANUBIS. They are highly maneuverable and fast on short distances, but their operational range is rather limited. There is no way ships of that size would have made it out this far on their own. Captain, there is also something odd about the way they are *fighting*."

"I noticed that too," A'Janni jumped in. "Both ships have allowed the other to go when they had the kill shot. It is as if they are not actually fighting but rather... playing."

"A training exercise?" Misaki asked aloud.

"That would explain the relatively low power ratings we have detected from their weapon's discharge," the CSciO added. "Those two vessels are likely performing nothing more than battle drills, switching from predator to prey each time a fatal shot would be registered."

"Alright," the FCO continued. "So that means we are in no danger but that doesn't explain how they got so far out. Obviously, there has to be some sort of larger ship or starbase in the vicinity."

"Sensors are not picking up anything other than the two small crafts," Maya said. "We are either dealing with a larger ship or station able to hide from our instruments, or the two small ships have long-range capabilities that we are unable to determine."

"To be honest, I am not sure which of those two options I find the least appealing," Commander Mitshiba stated. "A cloaked larger ship could mean that we are dealing with a specialized strike vessel, maybe even the pirate ship we are here in search of, or there is a technology or building material that allows for larger vessels to be undetectable by our instruments. On the other hand, if we are dealing with interceptor-class crafts able to venture so far in space on their own, it could drastically change the dynamic of how ships patrol and engage in combat in this region of space. We could find ourselves ill-prepared and struggling to catch up with tactics we have never had to deal with before."

"And I thought Zub was the pessimist on this ship," the Caitian said as he offered a friendly grin to his scaly friend but before the Voth could say anything, the Shillian cut him off.

"They're gone! Sensors are no longer picking up the two ships."

"Running a level 1 diagnostic on the long-range sensor array," Gemma said then paused as the process ran its course. "No malfunctions detected, everything is showing nominal."

"Could they have simply moved out of the range of our sensors?" The Captain asked, hoping for an easy solution to this problem.

"The last observed vectors of the two small hips do not support this theory," Maya said. "As we know nothing about the full capabilities of those ships, it is impossible to confirm or refute that hypothesis. Also, due to the vessel's low energy signatures, there is no way for us to track them unless we go closer."

"I would recommend against that," Zub carefully offered. "We have no idea what we might run into."

"Run into might be more than figurative if there is a ship out there that we cannot see or detect."

"Maintain current course and heading," Morningstar ordered. "Let us reach the ARGALIS CLUSTER first, maybe we can get lucky and get some answers on those small ships at the same time as we look for Intel on the pirates."

Everyone went quiet as they considered what had just taken place. A'Janni resumed piloting the HATHOR, but the sense of peacefulness had completely vanished, leaving the FCO visibly puffier than he had been before, an unfortunate genetic side-effect of his being nervous and a Caitian.

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-018: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36101.1010 ("Divide and Conquer")
##########
"Divide and Conquer"
Previous posts "Hide and Seek"
##########

"The unseen enemy is always the most fearsome."
― George R.R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

--==/\==--
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1010

"We are three minutes from the fourth planet of this system," the Flight Control Officer announced, neither the system nor the planets having been given any official names as far as Starfleet was concerned.

"Long-range sensors are picking up a few hundred small settlements scattered throughout the planet's mainland but nothing resembling a major city.  No roads or global communication systems have also been detected. I am not picking up any sort of power signatures from any of the settlements. If it was not for the several dozen smaller ships on the surface and the half dozen larger ones in orbit, it would be hard to claim this world as being admissible for First Contact protocol," the Shilian scientist reported.

"Although no Federation has ever officially been here," Mitshiba chimed in, "I doubt that the rules governing First Contact apply. According to the limited Intel we have about the worlds found within the ARGALIS CLUSTER, we are dealing with nothing more than a gathering of people from various other worlds. It is therefore reasonable for us to expect a wild collection of races and cultures, each different from anything else."

"Those settlements appear to be made of nothing more than the most basic of building materials," Gemma added. "These small gatherings serve as trading posts and hiding places more than permanent locations for people to live for any lengthy period of time.  I am sure that many of these vanish after a few months only to reappear somewhere else."

"Lt. Gemma," the Native American said as he turned to look at the woman manning the Operations Station. "As our resident Intel Liaison Operative, how do you suggest we proceed?"

"Very carefully," the ILO instinctively replied. "The fact that we are not picking up any energy signature from any of the buildings on the surface indicates that they likely are all protected by a dampening field, making transport in or out of those structures impossible.  We will need to beam down out of sight and walk to the settlement knowing that if something happens we will not be able to make a quick exit."

"Confirmed," Maya noted. "After what Lt. Gemma said, I reconfigured the sensors to pick up the distortion usually attributed to transporter dampening fields. It looks like there are several dozens of them located at every settlement location. What is most interesting is that there appears to be a wide range of dampening frequencies being employed."

"Each building being protected is under the jurisdiction of a different race or faction," Gemma theorized. "That would explain the differences between them as each race or coalition would utilize slightly different technology."

"Without any communication system, there is no way for us to tap in and gather any sort of Intel from whatever transmissions are being made," Ya'Han pointed out.

"The transporter dampening fields also makes it impossible for us to slip in any sort of listening device which would allow us to gather some level of Intel over time," Zub added.

"It is obvious that there is only one way for us to gather any sort of Intel," Xana said as she approached the Captain. "The old fashion way. We go down, ask a few questions and hope that we live to report back whatever answer we managed to get."

"Am I to gather that you recommend we send in more than just a few people down?" The Native American man questioned, half grinning as he stared at the Bolian/Human woman.

"There are just a few of us that could manage to be down there alone," Xana said glancing at the more imposing and combat-trained members of the crew. "Even then though, being alone in a place like this would certainly be a disadvantage, one that we would be unable to offset due to our being incapable to transport anyone in or out."

"It is also conceivable that those dampening fields could interfere with communications as well as transporters," Adriana added as she joined the Ambassador's side. "This means that even if others were waiting nearby, they would be unable to quickly realize that there is a problem requiring their intervention."

"Guess that settles it," Sonja sighed. "We have to send a team down. I pity the fools," she added in her best Mr. T impersonation.

"There are hundreds of settlements down there," Nicole Dima pointed out. "It will take months to visit them all."

"And that would still not guarantee that we would find any usable Intel on the pirates we are after," Gemma offered. "Remember, those people down there are not likely to be the trusting talkative type. Getting any sort of Intel will not be easy."

"That means we have to send those people most able to get people talking and make sure that they are accompanied by a team able to take care of the situation if things get out of hand," the Asian Commander noted.

"Why do I have the sinking feeling that this is not going to end well for any of us," Doctor Andersson said, voicing concerns that several others on the bridge of the HATHOR had but dared not to mention.

"If the teams are well balanced, I do not see why this would not work," the joint Trill said, supporting the proposed plan while at the same time trying to reassure the nervous CMO.

"All right," Morningstar acknowledged pushing himself out of his chair. "We will send three teams of four down. We will survey one settlement at a time, but at least with multiple teams present, the odds will be that someone will be able to come to the help of someone else if things get unruly." Erik paused as he looked at the gathered officers, giving everyone time to voice any additional concerns or objections they might have.  "We will split up into three teams, each will have a Command-rank leader and an *interrogator*, the others will offer whatever support they can.  Lt. Commander Maya, Gamma team is yours, along with Counsellor Lopez, Lt. A'Janni and Lt. Commander Paquette. Beta team will be led by Lt. Commander Mitshiba who will be accompanied by Lt. Gemma, Ensign Enel, and Counsellor Dima. Ambassador Bonviva, Lt. Ya'Han and Doctor Andersson will be with me on Alpha team.  Any objections?"

"Wouldn't two teams of six not be better?" Adriana asked, clearly siding on the idea that strength and safety were in numbers.

"Three teams of four makes more sense," Xana said, although her tone of voice hinted that she was not entirely in favour of the plan as it had been set. "We go down with too few people and we risk being taken out one by one. Too large of a group and we will draw far too much attention which will greatly reduce our effectiveness in gathering any sort of Intel.  I may not like this plan, but it is better than the alternatives."

"All right, it is settled," the Native American said as he turned back to the FCO. "Helm, place us in high orbit over the northern magnetic pole of the planet, that way the HATHOR will be doubly hidden from sensors and prying eyes.  As for the rest of us, I suggest we get changed into something a little less..."

"Starfleet?" Ya'Han half giggled.

"I was going to say obvious," Erik said as he returned the woman's smile. "We will be beaming down to one of the mid-sized settlements as soon as everyone is ready. Dismiss."
 
--==(/\)==--
Francois Charette

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-019: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.1020 ("Nice and Easy")
“Nice and Easy”
Previous post: “Divide and Conquer” by Francois

=-=
Setting: Planet Surface, 2 KM from nearest settlement
Stardate: 36101.1020

They had left NEW ALEXANDRIA an hour or so ago and here they were walking on an alien planet that orbited in a system just on the outer edge of known space.  Aki could not help herself in feeling a sense of wonder at this simple truth, thinking more as a science officer than a team leader sent to gather Intel.

"No vegetation, no signs of water, this place is nothing more than an arid wasteland," the Trill Counselor said as she covered her mouth and nose to avoid breathing in the dust lifted by the steps of those in front of her.

"There is water on this world," Mitshiba corrected, looking at her tricorder. "It is just buried several kilometers beneath the surface. The atmospheric conditions are also one of the reasons the Captain elected for a settlement closer to the polar regions, as the temperature here is more along what we are used to. Near the equatorial regions, the heat would have made things far more unpleasant."

"I don't mind the heat," the Voth said, bringing up the rear thus ensuring that he would be able to keep an eye on the other three members of his team.

"Put the tricorder away, Misaki," the ILO said, uncharacteristically using the woman's first name. "From this point on we are nothing more than merchants with questionable intentions. We address each other by first name only and that with nothing more than a passing familiarity.  We are not a crew or even a team, but four entrepreneurs who have come together for mutual benefits."

"Sounds like you have done this before," Dima said.

"This? Not exactly. I never would have gone to a place like this with someone else. It would have meant that my attention was not entirely on what I was here to accomplish. The most dangerous thing in a place like this is the unknown," Gemma said, her voice cold and her eyes narrowed as they approached the landing site of some of the ships earlier detected by the HATHOR's sensors.

"I recognize the configuration and markings on some of those vessels," Aki noted. "That one is a Takaran warp-shuttle, and the one next to it is a Hazari Hunter."

"The Hazari are from the Delta Quadrant," Nicole gasped. "What are they doing here."

"Bounty Hunters do not care how far they have to travel, Counselor," Gemma said clearly speaking from experience. "The pilot of that ship is likely here to settle a bounty."

"Settle a bounty in which way?" the Joint Trill asked. "Capturing someone or cashing in?"

"In a place like this, both are equally possible," the ILO said with an unsettling calmness that oddly enough seemed to fit the woman perfectly.

"Gemma, do you recognize any of the other ships?" Misaki asked. Although she had been able to identify the first two, the other three were a complete mystery to her, nothing about them appearing remotely familiar.

"The one in the middle is a Markalian runner, a ship designed for smuggling illegal goods," the ILO replied.

"I guess it makes sense for the Ferengi to have agents in a place like this," the Counselor sighed. "The potential for profit has to be significant for someone brave enough to come all the way here."

Zub just smiled as he kept pace with the others. The Counselor's fears justified his presence on the team, not to mention his desire to show that he could do as he had been tasked, to keep the members of the team safe from any and all harm. There was no denying that this place appeared to be dangerous, and the closer they came to the settlement, the more obvious this became. Every step they took would take them deeper into this lawless land, and they needed to be ready for anything if they were to make it back to the HATHOR in one piece.

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-020: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han: 36101.1020 ("Peace and Order")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Peace and Order”
Previous posts: "Nice and Easy” by Dawn
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: Planet Surface, 2 KM from the settlement, approaching from the East
Stardate: 36101.1020

From afar, the settlement resembled some of the camps her father visited every so often. To the youngest daughter of the High Sovereign, that is what she believed he was doing, but as the years passed she came to understand that it was not the camps of those living in them that he was interested in, but rather the troops that maintained peace and order. This was often achieved through massive arrests and public executions, which her brothers were expected to witness as part of their 'learning the harsh truths of their responsibilities'.  Thinking back to those days, Ya'Han understood a little more as to why her brother Ya'Kun had turned out the way he had.

"We are almost there," Captain Morningstar said, summoning the Sec/Tac's thoughts back to the here and now.

"I have the strange feeling that things might get complicated," the Ambassador said as she looked in the directions of three crafts that had landed near the settlement. "That ship over there belongs to a group of especially nasty Rutian Marauders, I will recognize those markings anywhere."

"I am not sure what scares me more," Doctor Andersson said. "The fact that there are Rutiam Marauders here, nasty or otherwise, or that you know their markings so well as to recognize them from this far away."

"The Ambassador possesses a wide range of knowledge which extends far beyond the limits of a diplomatic meeting room or assembly," Morningstar said, clearly teasing the Bolian/Human hybrid. "I am more interested in what a Barolian craft is doing so far away from the Romulan Star Empire? It is leading me to fear that the HATHOR might not be the only cloaked vessel in orbit of this planet or in the ARGALIS CLUSTER.  Ya'Han, what do you think?"

The red-haired Sec/Tac found it impossible for her to offer a reply as she was staring at the third ship, one that the other members of her team would not have paid any special attention to as it was almost expected to find one here. The Ferengi shuttle was clearly the smallest of the trio, but to Ya'Han it represented the largest threat. It was unlikely that the Rutian or Barolian would recognize a Nylaan woman, but the same could not be said of the Ferengi.

"Captain, I now believe that my presence here might hinder our mission," the Sec/Tac announced. "Maybe it would be best if I returned to the ship and waited there."

"Ya'Han, what has you so terrified?" Xana asked, easily noticing the change in the Nylaan woman.

"Terrified might be too strong of a word," the Sec/Tac stated, forcing her hair to take on the full black coloring of her people's lowest social standing. "I am simply concerned that I might be recognized as a Nylaan by any of the Ferengi we come across. It is not common to find people of my race this far away from our home world, unless they are of royal blood and have been married to some political ally."

"We need you," Sofia said, looking at Ya'Han with visible fear. "You are here to make sure we are safe, and to make sure we get back to the ship safely. I'm sorry if this comes across as selfish, but you are needed here, so whatever is issues you have with the Ferengi will just have to be put on hold for the time being."

The outburst took Ya'Han by surprise, as it did Captain Morningstar and Ambassador Bonviva who took a few seconds before speaking on behlaf of the black-haired woman. "I am sure that she had a valid reason to ask for what she did," Xana said, expecting the Sec/Tac to use this to explain herself. Instead, the Nylaan simply stared at the Ferengi ship while reliving her betroval and subsequent escape from her home world.

"My apologies, my request was out of line and souly based on a personal experience. Please disregard what I asked. I will stay and perform my duties and responsibilities to the highest possible level as expected. My presence by your side should be easily enough explained once i display my green hair. You can always claim that I have not met your expectations and are here to sell me to whoever wants a Nylaan entertainer. Any Ferengi will be quick to jump at the change as those members of my race are highly sought after."

"You and I will have to have a long talk one of those days," Xana said, waving an accusatory finger in Ya'Han's face.

"If there are no other objections, let us resume," the Captain said taking the lead once again before being quickly followed by the other three members of his team.

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

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M01-021: USS HATHOR: Bonviva: 36101.1040 ("The Haunting of Pepper's Ghost")
The Haunting of Pepper’s Ghost
<continued from Hanali’s “Peace and Order”>

=/\=
There aren’t any good guys, and there aren’t any bad guys. There’s just us.  People. Doing our best to get by.
-John Constatine from Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic: the Shadow World

=/\=
Setting: Planet Surface, 1 KM from East 
Stardate: 36101.1040

The golden-orange sand stretched as far as Alpha Team could see.  Above their heads were large black birds that were akin to EARTH’s vultures, except they emitted an ear-piercing moan as they dove down to the planet surface and silence as they went flapping back in the sky.  Watching the birds dive for food and then fly above any suspected prey, assuming they were not the food the birds were looking for.

The team continued their walking in the torrid heat, past the ships that were “parked”, through waves of arid heat shimmering in the distance.  There was relative silence within the group, so as to not let the grit of the desert inside their dry mouths.  Also given the earlier discussion, there seemed to be a general consensus of “letting sleeping dogs lie”. 

As they continued their trek, Xana adjusted the hood of her long white wrap that covered the loose blue and white clothing she had on underneath.  As this was not an “official” visit, she dressed for comfort over impression.  Slipping her hand out of pocket, she slipped open the canteen she had been carrying and sipped from it.  She silently offered it to the others, but only Sofia decided she needed a sip now.  

They continued on their silent trek in the oppressive heat until Morningstar said as he nodded ahead, “Over there.” 

“Over there” was a large red rock monolith looming in the distance.  As they picked up the pace, they noticed two things about the monolith.  The first was that there was a waterfall coming out from within the center of the rock; the second was that there was a skull and crossbones carved into the rock.  The water was flowing out of the skull’s carved mouth.  The monolith stood at least 8 m tall and was at least double that in width.  

Suddenly a bluish image appeared in front of Alpha Team.  Ya’Han instinctively moved herself up in the group, to put herself in front of the danger despite her own misgivings about the planet.  

“Hello, strangers,” the image said.  The image sharpened until it was clear that they were looking at a man with long dark hair, a full beard and both the hair and beard had a fair amount of white, and dressed in a loose white shirt and dark slacks.  “You may want to turn around here.”

The group exchanged a glance quickly.  This was expected; they weren’t thinking that they’d be welcomed as heroes here.  “Morning.  We’re traveling and need some rest and refreshments,” Morningstar said.  

The image of the man seemed close to laughing but he never came out and said it.  “Go back to your ship.”  

Xana exchanged a glance with the Captain, and after a silent agreement, moved up to the front next to Ya’Han.  Slipping off her hood, she revealed her face and pulled back the rest of the robe so the image could see her fully knowing must cultures trust people more easily when they see them.  “Apologies,” she started out even though they had done nothing wrong.  Indicating to those in the team she said, “We are weary and perhaps that makes us not speak properly.  Please we’re not asking for anything we’re not willing to trade or pay for.”

“There was no chance for hospitality, all who come pay or make their own way,” the image said.  “Request denied.  Go back to where you came from.  And tell ‘em we’re not coming.”

Suddenly a bright light shone in their eyes causing everyone to shield their eyes.  After the light disappeared so did the image.  

Sofia suddenly saw something and went towards it.  “Look,” she called out pointing to something off to the left.  As they all turned their heads to where Sofia was pointing there was another flash of light before it was gone.  Drawing a line in the air from where the light shone to where the image appeared she said, “It’s an illusion.”

“It’s Pepper’s Ghost to be precise,” the CO said.  Pointing to where they stood he said, “This is the area they wanted the projection to appear.  The “ghost” is located off to the side where it is not in direct view.  The person who is the ghost should be in a black room and plexiglass is positioned in front of the audience.”

Sofia looked around and pointed up.  “The eyes of the skull would make good locations for the glass.”

Morningstar nodded.  “The plexiglass is set at a 45 degree angle to both the audience and the ghost.  At that angle, the background is clearly visible but the glass projects the image or the “ghost”.  To the audience, it appears as if there is a transparent ghost in front of them.”

Ya’Han looked around and asked, “Why do you keep referring to an audience?”

“This was a technique developed, on EARTH at least, in the mid-to-late 19th century.  Performers used this to show “ghosts”,” Morningstar said.  Looking over at the Ambassador he commented, “You’re quiet.”

Xana smiled at that observation but then her demeanor changed.  “Did you hear what he said?”  Quoting as she looked up at the waterfall she said, “And tell ‘em we’re not coming.”  Looking back at the Captain she said, “Either they were expecting us or--”

“--we’re not the first ones to try to make contact,” Morningstar said.  “We need to convince them otherwise.”

Ya’Han looked up at the rock face.  “That was just the first level of defense, the warning before the shot.”  

“We’re going to get nowhere out here,” Xana said.  Pausing to consider their options, she nodded to herself and walked up closer to the rock face.  Ya'Han was clearly trying to protect her and the others, she called out, “We can help with your defense.”

As the others watched, somewhat askance, the image appeared again.  “Who said we need help?”

“Hello, welcome to the present.  We’ve graduated from tricks of light.  We want to come in, you can see that I don’t have a weapon,” the Ambassador said holding out her arms and doing a slow spin so they could see she had no weapons.  “You let us in and we’ll help with the things that matter.”

The image disappeared but in the distance they heard a great scraping of rock on rock.  A hidden door opened up into the darkness.

“We’re not here to help,” Morningstar said.  

“I didn’t say who I was helping or even how,” Xana replied.  Turning around she said to the Captain, “The words you’re looking for are ‘Thank you, Xana’.”  

Ya’Han looked skeptical at the entire enterprise.  “Normally I agree but I am skeptical.”

Sofia looked forward to the opening and said, “Well there’s no way but forward.”  

=/\=
Sarah Albertini-Bond
USS ANUBIS
M01-022: USS HATHOR: A'Janni: 36101.1040
("A Cat, a Monkey, and a Rabbit Walk Into a Bar")
=-=
“A Cat, a Monkey, and a Rabbit Walk Into a Bar”
Previous posts: "The Haunting of Pepper’s Ghost” by Sarah

=-=
Setting: Planet Surface, Settlement
Stardate: 36101.1040

The approach from the South had proven to be exceptionally rough for the team lead by the Shillian scientist through no fault of own. The temperature seemed to be going up just as fast as they were closing the gap between them and the buildings they were aiming for. By the time they reached the outskirts of the settlement, the scorching heat had left the four travelers with only one thought in mind.

"There," A'Janni said panting, pointing a clawed finger to a building with an advertisement over the entrance written in several dozen languages. "I might not recognize most of what is written there, but those few I do understand clearly identify that building as somewhere 0we can get something to drink."

With their canteen running low, if not emptied, Maya was quite willing to follow the Caitian's lead while trying her best to figure out how she could have miscalculated the effect of the heat to such an extent. It would have to be something she would more closely look into, but right now was neither the time or place. Dealing with their dehydration was their top priority if they were to be in any condition to continue with their Intel gathering mission.

The moment they walked into the building and made their way down the stairs, the team was met with a gush of cool air. The sensation would have been heavenly had it not been for the various scents and odors that accompanied it, hinting to the grand mixture of races that had gathered in this place.

"Gawd," Sonja gagged. "I have smelled zoos after feeding time that smelled better than this place. Are we sure this is where we want to go? There does not appear to be any windows to crack open, although I suspect that the stench will eat through the walls and ceiling soon enough."

"Beggars can't be choosers," Adriana said, leaving Sonja's side and pushing her way past A'Janni who had been standing directly behind the Shillian Commander. "As bad as this place might smell, I think it is the perfect location for us to start fishing," she added in a whispered voice.

"Adding fish stench to this mess is the last thing we need," the Chief Engineer chuckled. Despite any misgivings they might have had, the team finished the last few steps to set foot on the establishment's main floor which was populated by a collection of ruffians and scoundrels the likes of which none of them had previously seen.

The ambient lighting was soft, the air was cool, but neither one of these things helped to make the general atmosphere of this location pleasant in any way. The hair was thick and the place packed to near capacity. It was easy to see that people came here to do business, whatever that might be. All that the team needed was to figure out how to get the information they were here for without drawing any unwanted attention onto themselves.

"You two have a seat over there," the Counselor said to Maya and Sonja as she pointed to one of the few empty tables. "Big, tall, and furry is coming with me. We will see what kind of conversation we can interject ourselves in."

Whatever plan Counselor Lopez had, A'Janni had little choice but to follow as it was his responsibility to keep her and the other members of the team safe. The Junior Ambassador forced her way through the crowd with relative ease until she reached the circular bar at the center of the room. The variety of available drinks on display was quite impressive, but not as much as the multi-limb bartender who was taking care of several orders at the same time.

While Adriana was talking to one of the bar's patrons, A'Janni's attention fell onto a long set of white furry ears that stood well above the general crowd. He had never seen or even heard about a rabbit-like being to whom those ears could have belonged to. As he kept his one good eye on the moving oddity, he finally managed to get a good look at the being. Her slender appearance perfectly fit her towering height, which was only made that much more impressive thanks to her ears which were standing fully upright. Whoever she was, she radiated unparallel confidence that the rest of the patrons were more than ready to acknowledge by moving out of her way.

After quickly glancing in the Counselor's direction to make sure she was alright, the FCO tried to make his way through the crowd to reach the long-eared woman if for no other reason than to enquire as to what race she was. A'Janni quickly discovered that he could not navigate through the crowd with the ease that Adriana or the mysterious woman had displayed, finding himself being bounced from one patron to the next. This impersonation of a pinball came to a sudden end when the Caitian impacted against a black wall of coarse fur several times his size.

"Grogg doesn't like small furs," the 3+ meter tall giant growled before swatting the Caitian clean off his feet with nothing more than a simple backhand. By the time the FCO's wits had returned, Sonja and Maya were kneeling next to A'Janni.

"Who's your new friend?" the CEO asked, trying her best not to last at the sight of the dazed Caitian.

"I think he said his name is Grogg," A'Janni replied just before shaking his head to clear whatever dizziness was still bothering him.

"That's not his name," a voice said from behind them. "That's his race. They refer to themselves as Grogg and only use their personal names between themselves, and even then, they do so only telepathically."

"That monstrosity of a beast has telepathic abilities?" The Caitian asked nearly choking on his own words.

"Yes, they are," the humanoid man sighed. "And by the looks of things he heard you. Well, it was nice meeting you, have a nice death."

Maya, Sonja, and A'Janni watched in horror as the giant gorilla-beast pushed whoever was in his way out with no visible effort, clearing a path to the Caitian. The fire in the eyes of the Grogg was more than enough to imagine what he would do to his victim once he reached him.

"We are only here to trade!" Maya said, pleading to anyone who cared to listen, but it was evident that no one dared to oppose the enraged beast. Whatever the newcomers might be trading, it was not worth going up against a Grogg, especially not one as enraged as the one that was plowing his way through the crowd.

Without any effort, the Grogg pushed the two women kneeling next to the Caitian aside and lifted him by this throat using a single, massive hand. Clearly seeing this as a no-win scenario, Adriana did the only thing that she could think of at the moment. "We are here looking for the pirate ghost ship."  Her voice echoed throughout the bar, instantly rendering everyone as quiet and still as could be, with the exception of the angered primate.

The gazes of the three women of the away team were fixated on the limp body Caitian, so they failed to notice the quick head gesture made by the humanoid man to his travel companion. Seconds later, the Grogg suddenly stopped moving before dropping to his knees, releasing the chokehold he had on A'Janni.  When the gorilla-like beast fell fully to the ground, the tall rabbit-featured female stood in his place, her fingers pointed in a manner that indicated she had applied some sort of pressure-point attack to render the giant gorilla-like man unconscious.

"I believe that we have all overstayed our welcome in this place," the humanoid man said as he pressed one of the markings on the wall opening a secret door providing a quick escape route for the group.

"Thank you," Adriana said as she helped the others get A'Janni back onto his feet.

"Don't thank me yet little lady, this party is far from over," with that said he motioned for his companion to follow, which she did while making sure that no one followed them as they escaped.

As soon as the secret door closed behind the group of six, the Counselor took a moment to introduce everyone, thinking that this might seal their collaboration, at least for the time being. "My name is Adriana, this is Sonja, Maya and the furry one you just saved is A'Janni."

"The name is Balthier," the man said with a debonair smile, "and the lady over there is Fran. Don't let our good looks fool you, we are not the kind and generous sort. Now, you said that you were looking for the 'Pirate Ghost ship', well, so are we."

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-023: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36101.1040 ("Nuts and Bolts")
=-=
“Nuts and Bolts”
Previous post: “A Cat, a Monkey, and a Rabbit Walk Into a Bar” by Jayson

=-=
Setting: Planet Surface, 2 km North from Settlement
Stardate: 36101.1040

A chorus of screeches came from the sky. Zub had to raise a three-fingered hand to block the sun as he looked up. Black flyers soared high above them. He guessed they were carrion feeders.

“This dust is caking my throat,” Nicole said through her hand. She noticed there was more of the peach-colored dust than raised by the four of them. Figures moved from under the parked ships. “We have company.”

Gemma said quietly, “They’ve decided to show themselves.” She glanced at the away team, “Stop walking in step! You have Starfleet written all over you.”

Zub Enel faked a limp.

Gemma seemed wholly unimpressed. “They might have landed together outside the settlement because they are transacting something dangerous. Stay alert.”

Aki squinted at the approaching aliens. “A big Takaran, male. There is a Hazari female. The short one, no idea.”

Gemma said softly, “Show your hands. Smile.” Her face lit with a broad smile.

Zub Enel was reminded how pretty Gemma was. His down stirred in the hot, gritty air. He realized all three women were exceptionally pretty. Perhaps not a good thing on a lawless planet like this.

The Hazari female in the center stopped 6 paces from the away team. An energy rifle rested in the crook of her scaly arm. When she stopped the other two stopped. The Takaran crossed bare, scaly arms over his chest. The shortest member wore a dark robe with a cowl cinched down so that only piercing eyes gazed out.

The Hazari female had large eyes as gray as ash. Her lips curled into a smirk as she swept her gaze over the three females with Zub. She set her hand lightly on her energy rifle. She said up to 7-foot-tall Voth, “There is no mystery what *you* are trading.”

Screeches from above drowned out Zub’s denial her assumption. The Hazari woman raised her rifle straight up and fired a brilliant blue bolt. There was a cry of pain. Something heavy and smelly thudded on top of Zub. He swept it off with one arm. The creature flopped, oily black skin instead of feathers, a toothed beak.

The Hazari had now pointed her rifle directly at Zub Enel’s head, her expression lethally serious. “Free these females or I turn that big, handsome head of yours into an incense holder.”

The three women instantly spoke up.

“Wait,” Gemma said.

Aki said, “We’re not that kind of girls.”

“He’s with us,” Nicole said. “We are traveling together for each other’s safety.”

Zub tried to be an nonthreatening giant clawed lizard.

The Hazari female relaxed her aim. Unsmiling, she cradled her rifle as she once again closely looked the group over.

NEW ALEXANDRIA had expunged all records of anyone on the team. Reading the Hazar’s intent, Gemma said, “There is no bounty on us. Scan us.  Check.”

 “No bounty shows a disturbing lack of ambition.”

The wind grew stronger. Aki suspected the planet’s sunlit and shaded temperature differences could raise gale force winds.

The female bounty hunter said, “Come to my ship. We will be out of this wind. I can offer refreshments.”

Gemma stated, “We negotiate outdoors.”

The Hazari female asked, “What exactly?”

Aki said , “Astrometric probes.”

Gemma said, “Industrial Energy Cells”

Nicole’s hand muffled her voice. “Seismic stabilizers.”

Zub Enel’s hesitation brought curious gazes. He said, “Self-sealing steam bolts.”

The Takaran male laughed uproariously.

Zub pulled a long metal bolt from under his shirt. It had been replicated aboard the HATHOR and given the identification number of a freighter recently plundered by the pirates.All the parts they claimed to offer were from the stricken ship’s cargo manifest.

The male chortled. “I give one crushed tulaberry.”

Zub looked stricken. “There are many needs for these bolts.”

The Hazari smiled at Zub. “I thought you were an enslaver of females. No, you trade useless things.”

The short person lifted the cowl off her head. A Ferengi female with enormous ears gazed up at Zub. Her mouth show razor sharp teeth. “Do you have a terraformer?”

Gemma took over. “The merchandise we offer could be used to service or even build a terraformer. We are hoping to move large quantities of machine parts in bulk to a large client. We are hoping to contact such a person in the settlement.” She held the Ferengi’s steady blue-eyed gaze. “Do you know of such a person?”

The big Takaran male threw back his scaly head and laughed derisively. “They promise much. They show one bolt.”

The Hazari female also looked doubtful. She adjusted the lay of her cradled rifle. Her gray eyes minutely studied the four. She said to the Ferengi, “I don’t think they are lying, Gigi.”

“Coming from you that usually means they aren’t,” quipped the Ferengi. Her own wide face was a picture of suspicion. “I may be inclined recommend someone for you regarding moving large amounts of goods. How is it you have so much access to so many machinery parts?”

Gemma spoke up. “We would rather deal directly with the contact.”

The Ferengi woman named Gigi reached up to scratch at one enormous ear lobe. She looked at the gun-toting Hazari, “T’Sara, they are denying me this opportunity?”

Zub Enel tapped the self-sealing steam bolt against an open palm. “If you give us a contact, we will mention your name. This contact may reward you for your referral.”

“Ah,” Gigi said, her tone one of lingering disappointment. “No name comes to mind.”

The male Takaran asked in a sarcastic tone, his gaze on Zub’s bolt, “Free sample?”

“This?” Zub asked.

The big male’s face lit with hope. “Free?”

“No. Trade. For what?” the tall Voth asked.

“Whole tulaberry!” the male exclaimed and laughed.

“Is it fresh?” Zub asked.

The Takaran laughed deafeningly loud.

“IF!” Gigi shouted over the laughing male. He stopped and scowled darkly at her. In the silence she continued, “If I were to refer you to a trader on that scale, what do you want from the trader in compensation?”

Gemma said, “Let’s start with a contact. Someone serious about buying such large lots. Then we can discuss compensation with that trader.”

Gigi rubbed at one lobe. “Alright, to put it quite bluntly, I know exactly who to refer you to. What am I going to receive in exchange for such a valuable referral?”

In the silence, Zub offered, “Tulaberries.”

The big male laughed again.

The Ferengi female cut him off sharply with, “Aran!” The male, Aran, looked highly insulted.

Gigi addressed Gemma. “One bolt does not a deal make. Now, since you refuse my help, I shall get out of this infernal wind and leave you to search the entre settlement for a trader who may not even be there.”

T’sara gave Zub Enel a big smile. “My ship is that big silver one. I would truly like to help you more closely assess the wholesale value of your bolt.”

“Some other time,” Gemma cut in. “We need his help.”

The big male named Aran pointed at the dead flier slumped at Zub Enel’s boots. “Eat?”

“No.”

“Good,” Aran said. He stepped over. He fetched the limp flier and held in in the wind by its neck. He glanced over his shoulder at the Ferengi and then said something in low tones to the Voth.

Gigi pulled her cowl up over her bald head and tucked in her wide ears. The cowl riffled and snapped in the stiff wind. She, T’sara with her rifle and Aran with his next meal turned and trudged against the wind toward their ships.

Gemma said sternly. “All in all, that was a waste of our time. Let’s get to the settlement before the weather gets any worse.”

Zub stepped up close to the center of the group as they faced the settlement and trudged, bent against the wind. “I think Aran didn’t like Gigi cutting him off for laughing so much. He told me something that may be meant to undercut her deal to name a contact.”

Gemma had to yell over the grit choked wind. “So what did he tell you?”

“White rabbit.”

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.”
 - John Ciardi
M01-024: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.1055 ("Black Wolf")
=-=
"Black Wolf"
[the previous post was "Nuts and Bolts"]
=-=  

Setting: Planet Surface, less than 1 km North from Settlement
Stardate:  36101.1055

There was nothing pleasant about this planet. One moment the sun was threatening to dry a person down to their bones. The next, hurricane-force winds fueled a sand storm that risked burying everyone alive. That was if the sand itself did not kill you first. The razor-sharp grains easily shredded whatever exposed skin it came in contact with. Something that the CSciO could not have known from orbit.

Even with the settlement in sight, it was evident that they would not make it. As if that had not been enough, there was something interfering with their communicators. The situation was so bad that Gemma considered returning to the Ferengi Gigi. At least the trader and her accomplices would be able to offer shelter. The problem was that, according to her calculations, those ships were now further away than the buildings of the settlement.

Through the storm, Gemma tried to see the others. Thanks to her nanites, she would be able to make it through this without as much as a scratch to show for it. The others though were not as fortunate. It took no time for the ILO to spot the towering Voth. The reptilian humanoid seemed to be doing well despite the ferocity of the storm. When she searched for the others though, she discovered that they had vanished.

"Where are Misaki and Nicole!" Gemma screamed in order to be heard through the howling wind.  The ILO could barely see Zub now. There was no way to tell if he had replied or even heard her. With the wind growing in intensity, there was only one thing for her to do. She knelt down and covered herself as best she could. There was no use trying to do anything else right now. She would have to wait for the storm to end and hope that the others would still be alive when she found them.

=-=
Setting: Unknown location
Stardate:  36101.1110

The ILO woke up with a startle. Something was not right. A quick distant scan of her surroundings indicated that she was no longer on the planet's surface. The rocky walls around her meant that she was in a cave or underground. Gemma looked around more closely and found the others unconscious. All three were resting peacefully on mats laid on the rocky terrain. Someone had gone through a lot of effort to make them as comfortable as possible.

A man dressed in a long black hooded cloak appeared, sending Gemma into a full combat posture. "You woke up a lot faster than I expected," he said, keeping his distance. "Makes sense I guess based on how fast you healed. You are certainly not like your friends. Well, the females at least. That other thing was not even injured to start with. Must have been those scales of his."

A hundred questions came to the ILO, but there was one that intrigued her the most. "Why did we pass out?"

The cloaked man eased himself down onto a nearby boulder. "Most people ask me who I am. Then again, you are not like anyone else, are you?" He paused, staring at the woman ready to pounce at him. "Oxygen deprivation. You all passed out because the wind made it impossible for any of you to breathe."

Gemma accepted the explanation. It made sense and also explained why she could not remember how she had been brought here. The ILO quickly continued with her interrogation. "Why bring us here?"

She could hear the man's labored breathing. He was old, or at least he sounded the part. Gemma guessed that it would not take long for someone's respiratory system to suffer permanent damage after a while. It was quickly becoming evident that this planet was not a nice place to live on. "To save you. Well, at least your female friends. Somehow, I suspect that you and that lizard would have managed on your own."

The ILO narrowed her eyes as she stared at the hooded man. He was not the type to offer any sort of information freely. Not even his face had been offered to Gemma. She didn't really mind though. The interrogation itself was half the fun. "Where are we?"

The man briefly chuckled before answering. "Underground, but I suspect that you already knew that."

It was true, the lack of wind or sunlight did indicate that they were nowhere near the surface. To be honest, though, the ILO had hoped for a little more information than she had received.  Gemma would need to try something else if she was to get useable info.  "Why the hood? Scared that someone will recognize you?

The man lowered his head before standing. "I doubt anyone would recognize the man I was." His voice was filled with sorrow. Something had happened to him, but like everything else, it would remain a mystery for the time being. He tossed a small field medical kit to Gemma before he started t walk away "Take care of your friends."

With the med-kit in her hand, Gemma decided to go for a more direct question. "Who are you?"

The man's steps did not waver as he continued to walk away. "No one of importance."

the ILO had time for only one last question before he vanished into the darkness. "Do you know who or what the 'white rabbit' is?"

The hooded figure stopped but did not turn around. His breathing quickened forcing him to take longer, slower breaths to calm himself. "Pray that I do not find your 'white rabbit'. If I do, your trip to this world will have been for nothing. Take care of your friends and be gone by the time I return."  He turned to look back at Gemma, pulling back his hood as he did so. Despite the low light, it was evident that the man was horribly disfigured. He was relatively young, his labored breathing being caused by his twisted face. He took a single step back towards the woman and her travel companions. "The last thing you want is to have the 'black wolf' as your enemy. Leave while you still can."

=-=
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]
M01-025: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han: 36101.1055 ("Patience and Tranquility")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Patience and Tranquility”
Previous posts: "Black Wolf” by Rachel
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1055

The moment the team made their way underground, the Sec/Tac took point to ensure the safety of those behind her. This place and the person they had spoken with were as much of an unknown as could be and there was no reason to take any unnecessary risks. Once they made their way into a small room though, a door closed and latched behind them leaving the team of four with nowhere to go and nothing else to do but wait.

"Maybe we should have stayed on the surface," Doctor Andersson lamented as she sat on one of the rudimentary chairs firmly bolted to the sidewalls of the room they were in.

"We have to assume that being here was a better option than staying on the surface with that storm approaching," Morningstar said, the man pacing back and forth since their arrival here. "Any luck?" He asked of Ya'Han, the Sec/Tac was still trying to figure out a way to open the door that stood in their way, the team had agreed that moving forward was a better option than trying to backtrack their steps, not that they could have thanks to the other now door standing in their way.

"This thing is sealed solid," the black-haired Nylaan said. "There is not even an access panel that I can pry open. Whatever this place is, it is meant to keep whoever is inside from going anywhere."

"It's a waiting room," Xana said, the Ambassador sitting on one of the chairs opposite where the Chief Medical Officer was. "They are watching us, making sure that we present no threat to them. It would just be nice if they spoke to us or at the very least played some music to help pass the time."  Seconds after saying this soft and peaceful music began to play, confirming that someone was indeed watching and listening in on them. "Nice, but I don't recognize the melody."

"Just be thankful that it's not a Klingon opera or a Chrysalian lullaby," the Doctor sighed.

"It sounds like some of the music I used to hear coming from the palace late at night," Ya'Han said, keeping up the appearance of her being nothing more than a commoner of her race. The truth was that she did recognize the music playing as being a variant of a Markalian melody usually sung by mothers as their children went to sleep. It was not the sort of music that played in the palace, but rather in the most impoverished regions of the city surrounding the Imperial Palace where she grew up. At nights, when she ventured out into the courtyard, she could sometimes hear this melody. The youngest daughter of the High Sovereign had also heard the same song sang by a mother to her child as they waited for their fate in the palace's dungeons.

"If they are trying to put us asleep, they are doing a good job," Sofia said, her frustration growing increasingly more vocal and evident to the other members of the team and likely to those watching them as well.  An uneasy silence settled on the members of the team as their wait continued until the sound of a large metal latch being moved echoed through the room which was soon followed by the door Ya'Han had been working on opening.

The Nylaan scrambled back to her feet, readying herself for whatever might be coming in. What she saw only half surprised her as a scruffy-looking Markalian stood in the opened doorway. The way he was dressed identified him as some sort of soldier, although Ya'Han did not recognize any of the markings displayed on the tattered uniform.

"He will see you know," the soldier said as he motioned for the two Humans, Nylaan and Bolian/Human hybrid to follow him.

The team was taken down a long corridor lined with a few scattered closed doors, none of them had any sort of indication as to what might be found beyond them.  It soon became evident that they were being escorted to the open doorway at the end of this corridor where they found another man. He was dressed in a white cloak, but his back was turned to them so that they could not see his features allowing them to identify him or his race.  His attention was fixated on a wall-size painting of a thick green forest with mountain peaks in the distant background under a strikingly blue sky.  The scene was breathtaking and seemed oddly familiar to the Nylaan.

"Thank you for seeing us," Xana immediately offered, thinking that politeness and diplomacy would be the best course of action at this time.

"Yeah, the music was a nice touch, although a little on the late side," Sofia sighed, the woman's patience had clearly reached its limits, but her words quickly drew a warning glare from both the Captain and Sec/Tac. There was no reason to antagonize their host at this point.

"My apologies," the unknown man said sounding slightly distracted. "I had other matters to attend to. It would seem that the Grogg are gathering for some kind of attack."

"The Grogg?" Ya'Han asked, the Sec/Tac had never heard the name before now so she could not judge the scale or significance of the information they had just been offered.

The man laughed. "Consider yourself lucky to not have dealt with the Grogg before. Let's just say that they are as large and strong as they are smelly. A single one of them could destroy this entire settlement with their bare hands, so imagine what a dozen or so of those muscle-bound walking disasters could unleash. I am just trying to figure out what has them so worked up."

"They sound like they would be a handful to handle at the best of times," Xana said, trying her best to gauge the situation and how they could play it to their advantage. "Maybe you could tell us how we can help. At the very least we might be able to offer you some advice."

The man laughed once again, louder this time. "Free advice is seldom cheap," the cloaked man said, quoting the Ferengi 59th Rule of Acquisition, something that Ya'Han immediately picked up on.  The Sec/Tac was about to ask how the man came to know those words when a small beep drew his attention to a small device he was holding in his left hand.

"I should have known," the man said, clearly upset by what he had just read. "Tell me, do you know a Viera by the name of Fran?"

"Neither sounds familiar," Xana answered glancing at Ya'Han who confirmed that she too had never heard of either. "Why?"

"It seems that the Grogg are in the mood for rabbit stew, with a side order of whatever gets in their way.  It might be safest for you four to remain here, for the time being, of course, it will not be safe for anyone who gets in their way. I pity those four travelers who went with them. They are going to get caught in a most unpleasant affair."

"Four travelers?" Erik asked, his instinct immediately linking what had just been said to the other two teams.

"Yes, very much like yourself," the man said nodding his head before returning to his scrutiny of the painting in front of him. "Three women and a cat-like creature who was foolish enough to start a fight with one of the Grogg."

Ya'Han turned to the Captain and mouthed the FCO's name in a less than pleasant manner. Was A'Janni responsible for all this?

"Maybe we could offer some sort of mediation," the Ambassador said. "It might save the settlement from being torn apart as these Grogg as they search for whoever wronged them." Xana was trying her best to find a way to help the other team without making it too obvious that they were part of the same crew.

"I am sorry," the man said, continuing to study the painting with unparalleled intensity.  "I am afraid that you currently have more pressing issues to be concerned about than the well-being of your friends."

It was now clear that the man in the white cloak knew much more than he had initially let on, leaving the team to wonder who exactly they were dealing with and what his role in all of this was.

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

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M01-026: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.1115 ("Shades of Grey")
“Shades of Grey”
Previous post: “Patience and Tranquility” by Hanali

=-=
Setting: Unnamed planet, underground chamber
Stardate: 36101.1115

Aki slowly opened her eyes to see Nicole using a dermal regenerator on her arm.  Seeing the Asian Commander finally waking up brought a smile to the Trill counselor's lips. Instinctively, Mitshiba tried to sit up but her efforts were quickly stopped thanks to Dima placing a forceful yet caring hand on the woman's shoulder.

"You still need to rest," Nicole said, continuing to run the dermal regenerator on her patient's arm as soon as she accepted to stay as she was.

"What happened?" Mitshiba asked. "The last thing I remember was losing track of the away team when the storm hit us full force."

"We were rescued by a cloaked figure who referred to himself only as the 'Black Wolf'," Gemma said as she looked down the passageway where the man in question had vanished from sight. "Other than his nickname, he was less than forthcoming with any information that might prove useful to us," the ILO added in a low growl.  "The worst part of it is that he knew who or what the 'white rabbit' was."

"Why did he leave?" The Asian Commander asked.

"He was angry," Gemma said in such a way that the other two women could hear her eyes rolling. "He either believed that we were in league with this 'white rabbit' or that we were after it for some reason. Either way, the moment I mentioned the *rabbit*, the *wolf* decided to show his teeth."

The conversation was put on hold as Zub walked out of the passageway Gemma had been guarding. "The caves continue for a while before going down sharply.  From there, I saw several splits, so there is no way to know which way he went.  I did my best to investigate them all, but in the end, I was not able to pick up his trail."

"Sounds like your wolf is rather foxy," Aki said with a sigh.  "So, what's next?"

"The first thing is for you to stop moving and let me finish taking care of your wounds," Nicole said a little more forcefully than she should have. After all, she was the Ship's Counselor and not the CMO, and the officer she was addressing was none other than the First Officer. "I'm sorry Commander," the joint Trill offered. "I am worried about Sofia and..."

"No need," Aki said, cutting off the woman's heart-felt apology. "This Intel gathering mission went off the deep-end the moment we set foot on this world. It might be best for all involved if we regroup and return to the ship to re-evaluate our plan of action."

"Commander," Ensign Enel said as he approached the ExO and CNS. "I did notice something else in one of the passageways. The presence of roots across the way made it clear that no one had gone that way in quite some time, but I am quite sure that I recognized the scent that came from that direction."

"Scent?" Aki asked, her curiosity piqued.

"It was A'Janni," Zub explained. "I can smell that Caitian flyboy a proverbial light-year away."

Nicole and Aki both laughed. "I am not sure if our FCO should be honored or insulted by that statement. Either way though, it does give us something new to move on.  Are you absolutely certain that it was A'Janni and not some other Caitian?"

"Absolutely certain, Commander," the towering lizard-man stated with great assurance. "The Voth sense of smell is highly evolved. I am able to tell when someone in particular has been in a room without even looking."

"Great," Gemma said grinning. "We have our own scaly bloodhound."

"If it allows us to regroup with Lt. Commander Maya and the rest of the Gamma team, I am more than happy to take it, regardless of the name," the Asian woman said, trying once again to sit up. The joint Trill understood that trying to keep the team leader down would be a waste of time, so Nicole helped Aki back onto her feet.

Gemma just watched from where she was, the ILO not having moved a single muscle since the Zub Enel's return.  As the other three approached her, the joint Trill waved her hand in front of the woman's face.

"I am here and awake, Counselor," Gemma sighed.

"Sorry, just wanted to make sure. You looked like you were in another world or dimension," Dima explained.

"What's on your mind?" Aki prompted. There was no doubt that something was bothering Gemma, and that was more than enough to worry the Asian Commander.

"Just thinking of the cloak man's reactions to my mentioning the 'white rabbit'," the ILO explained. "There was no reason for him to rescue us, so why did he do it? Furthermore, if he believed us to be in league with this 'rabbit', why not use us as bait or simply kill us if he believed us to be some sort of threat to his plan?"

"I am sure that you are right, but has anyone ever told you that you have a very pessimistic way of looking at things and people?" The CNS pointed out.

"It is what kept me alive for all those years of deep covert operations," the ILO replied. "Right now, my pessimism allows me to see things very clearly. This 'Black Wolf' had no reason to save us, but he did. He then spared us after learning that we were also after this 'white rabbit'. Something does not add up."

"Clearly this situation is not as 'black and white' as we would like it to be," Enel said, drawing glares from all three women simultaneously. "What?"

"Just take the lead and let us find A'Janni and the others," Aki softly ordered. "We can try to figure out the significance and implication of these "Black Wolf', 'White Rabbit' and whatever other colored creature comes our way.

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-027: USS HATHOR: Gemma/Enel: 36101.1130 ("Watery Encounter")
=-=
“Watery Encounter”
Previous post: “Shades of Grey” by Dawn

=-=
Setting: Unnamed planet, underground chamber
Stardate: 36101.1130

The four officers formed a tight line as they ventured into the darkened depths of the cave. Cmdr Mitshiba brought up the rear. The Asia woman did not wish a repeat of what had happened on the surface. If she could help it, she would not lose sight of anyone on her team ever again. The CNS was directly in front of the ExO, the joint Trill feeling the woman's proximity at her back. Next was the ILO, her heightened senses exploring their near invisible surroundings. In the lead was the Voth aSec/Tac. Enel's acute sense of smell allowed him to track what they could not see. This allowed him to lead the others deeper into the cave's slithering passageways.

Every step they took seemed to echo down the passageway. Gemma knew that this was not possible due to the large number of roots they were fighting through. Yet, the ILO could not help the feeling that their approach would not be as quiet as she would have hoped. Tracking A'Janni was one thing, announcing their presence to others was a completely different matter.

When the Voth came to an unexpected stop, the team nearly crashed into one another. It was Mitshiba who would inquire as to what had caused this. "Problems?"

Zub Enel hesitated a few seconds before offering an explanation. "There is water up ahead. Due to the downslope of the passageway, I dare not go further."

The ILO spoke next, offering her take on their situation. "Water is not an issue. Go on, unless you have lost the scent trail."

Invisible in the darkness, the Voth sounded insulted. "I did not lose the trail. A'Janni is further down that cave. I am just concerned about the safety of the team."

Gemma looked up at the towering reptilian, looking into his eyes even though she could not see them. Using his voice and remembering his physical build, the ILO accurately estimated their location. "Granted, the scent would not travel as easily through water as it does through air. If you are still picking up the scent though, it means that the water does not reach the cave's ceiling."

The reptilian’s deep voice raised nearly half an octave. “If it rises over my head, I cannot swim.”

The Commander made a soft sympathetic sound.

Nicole, the ship’s Counselor, said, “How did you get out of the Academy without learning to swim?”

Zub Enel voice still sounded strained. “I know *how* to swim. It is my body density. I sink no matter what stroke I try or how hard I try.”

Gemma was glad that the darkness hid her scowl. The ILO had no patience for this sort of thing at the moment. In fact, she tended to have little patience when dealing with anyone's lack of skills or abilities. The big Ensign would not have found that encouraging. “You can hold your breath, can’t you? If you go under, you can power walk yourself through. We have to keep moving or A’Janni’s scent will evaporate to nothing. Let’s move out.”

She’d never heard the Voth sound so tentative. “Yes, sir,” he said. To his credit, she heard his boots splash into the water. Gemma followed, the water quite cool as it rose up to overtop her boots. It felt slimy, unclean. As she pushed forward through thick roots hanging from the ceiling, the water rose to her hips.

A hand closed on her upper arm from behind. Nicole said, her voice shuddering, “I’ve got Aki in tow. Let’s not get separated again, even if we’re in the dark, pushing through roots and treading sewage.”

Aki asked a little further back, each word a note higher, “This is sewage?”

Gemma shushed them. She said softly, “Zub Enel, I need to take hold of your arm.” Something long, scaly, and muscular bumped against the entire front of her body and immediately withdraw. She was surprised for a moment by the intimate contact but recovered. “It is okay. I’m not offended. Give me your arm again.”

“You are not offended?” he asked in the darkness, sounding rather puzzled by the ILO's statement.

The ILO rolled her eyes, not that anyone noticed. "Of course not. It would take a great deal more than an accidental bump to offend, trust me. After what I have gone through during my years of deep covert operations, *this* is nothing." The emphasis made it clear that she was referring to more than just his arm hitting her.

After a moment Zub’s tight voice went deeper into a warning. “I did not touch you. I was using my arms to clear roots. I had not yet offered it to you.”

A worried silence took hold of the team which was shattered when Mitshiba made a high squeak. “Something touched my waist, felt around and left!”

Nicole's hand on Gemma’s arm took on a vice-like grip. “Just what we need. Something in the water and we can’t see.”

Aki’s voice sounded calmer. Her tone betrayed she’d sipped into analysis mode. “Might have been a tentacle. Exploring before grabbing. It, whatever it is, might not be able to see either.”

Here they were, in an underground cave, filthy water up to their waist, fighting not only the darkness and thickly clustered roots but some unknown creature. This was not the worst situation the ILO had been in, far from it. The difference though was that this time, she was not alone. She needed to think of the others as well as herself. Confronting the creature was therefore not an option, the only thing they could do was to continue forward. Gemma placed her hand on Enel's back, an easy target to make contact with. "Forward, and don't stop for anything. There is no way for us to get the advantage against whatever this is. So, we need to move beyond its reach. So go!"

Zub complied, so much so that at times he moved beyond the ILO's immediate reach. They pushed ahead faster. Within a few steps, the slimy water was up to Gemma neck which meant the shorter Nicole and Aki would soon have to tread water. The ILO sent her hands forward, waving them where she thought Zub Enel was. She thudded against his broad back. She heard and felt him startle at her touch. Fearing a defensive blow she said quickly, “It’s me. Stop a second.”

He complied.

Despite not being the ranking officer, Gemma took control of the situation. Survival was part of her training, and right now they needed every advantage they could get. “Everybody, get a good grip on each other’s arm. Float. Zub is going to tow us across. It’ll be faster than all of us finding our steps. Be ready to punch and kick like hell.”

She took hold of the Voth’s meaty bicep. Thankfully, Zub took that as a signal to move forward. All of his tentativeness was gone. She felt him thrashing at the tangle of hanging roots. Loosened roots bumped and slid along her body and down her other outstretched arm held tightly by Nicole.

As Zub moved forward, she had to change her grip on him because the water worked its way up over his shoulders and his own neck. She crooked his neck in her arm from behind, still towing the other two. Her arm stretched at the elbow, but the pain was tolerable.

The hanging roots vanished. They seemed to be towed into open water. Gemma’s face was near the back and top of Zub Enel’s crested head. She guessed he was holding his breath. She could feel his heart racing, the pulsating veins in his neck pressing against her bare arm. The ILO figured that he was exerting himself and terrified of drowning at the same time. He wouldn’t last much longer without a breath.

The water eased down his head to gurgle at her arm as he strode powerfully forward while gasping loudly. Aki gave a high, ear piercing shriek. Nicole’s hand was jerked hard backward. “It’s got Aki!” Nicole shouted.

Chest deep now, Gemma and Zub Enel turned to face where they could hear Aki struggling. “She’s to our left,” Gemma said.

A wavering bluish light filled the watery cavern. The hanging roots gave the appearance of hideously long teeth descending from an open maw. Aki was hanging onto a double-fistful of those roots, her face rigid with terror. Her body moved like she was kicking. A thick green appendage arose to wrap around her between her shoulder and neck. Without a word, Nicole, Zub and Gemma charged the thing.

Something whizzed passed their heads from behind. A small glowing comet of blue light. It struck the water near Aki and slid under the surface. Embedded in green flesh, the tip still glowed underwater, a pool of light showing a portion of muscular tentacle wrapped around Aki’s neck. The appendage loosened and flopped around spasmodically. The three team members rushed to the Asian woman's aid.

“I’m okay,” she gasped. “It let go. Now, if only *I* could let go.” She wheezed in breath after breath. Her hands were bone-white from her grip on the roots.

Gemma turned toward the bluish glow. It was bright, but guttered and swirled like a lit torch. A tall, slender figure stood on the dry side of the pool, legs spread, distinctly female in shape. Large rabbit-like ears rose from her head. These ears were cupped toward the Beta Team standing in sewage. The ears flexed and swiveled as if questing for every sound. The figure was holding a large bow with one arm straight and the other pulling back on the string. The blue glow was coming from the tip of an arrow. In that glow, a round face with mocha-colored skin, a pointed chin and white eyebrows over dark eyes was glaring sternly toward them.

“Thank you,” Nicole said from beside Gemma, but toward the figure. Aki, still recovering from her ordeal, soaked through, hair in straggles, could only nod her gratitude.

The figure said with a slight accent, “There is more than one in there.”

That was enough to break through the team’s surprise and get them moving onto the dry side of the pool of water. The female with the bow backed away on high stiletto heels, her arrow pointed down, the string still partly taut and the nock still firmly gripped in long thin fingers with white claw-like nails.

When the team stopped, dripping wet, stinking, the female archer stopped backing away, too. In the glow of her plasma flamed arrow, dark red eyes surveyed them all. “You are like the others.”

Zub Enel had recovered enough from gasping to ask, “Was one of them a large, smelly catlike person?”

The archer person lowered her bow completely. “Follow me.” She pivoted on her high heels. That sent her hip-length mane of white hair flying. She strode away, her tall, lithe figure silhouetted by the glowing arrow in front of her.

The ILO carefully studied their latest benefactor. Gemma had, over her career, encountered countless races and researched even more. Strangely enough, this one she had never seen or even heard of before. Curiosity, and the need to gather Intel in any form, forced the operative to inquire. "What are you?"

Only the ears of the slender figure shifted, turning back towards the group that was following her. "I'm a Viera," she said, her exotic accent only adding to her charms and mystery, "and my name is Fran."

=-=
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]

and

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

‘I shoot an arrow into the air, where it lands I do not care: I get my arrows wholesale!”
- Curly Howard
M01-028: USS HATHOR: Lopez: 36101.1150 ("Back Together")
-=-=-
"Back Together"
[the previous post was Rachel and David's "Watery Encounter"]
-=-=-

Setting: Unnamed planet, an underground passageway
Stardate: 36101.1150

It was nice to see the members of Beta team, even if their aroma was a little less than appealing. Like the team that was welcoming them, the soaking group of officers owed their lives to the charming pair of adventurers of Balthier and Fran.

The humanoid man had yet to declare his origins, but his companion had not hesitated to reveal that she was a member of the Viera, a rare race from the outer reaches of the Beta Quadrant. There was no denying that the exotic woman possessed a great deal of allure and charm, which by the appearance of things had ensnared the Caitian FCO and seemed to be having a similar effect on the Voth Assistant Chief of Security. The only male who appeared unaffected by Fran's sensual body, movements, and voice was her companion Balthier.

"Looks like you had quite an adventure," Adriana said while offering a helping hand to Nicole.

"You've smelled better," A'Janni said, directing his words to Zub whom he was helping out of the knee-deep water. The Caitian's ears were glued to his head and his nose scrunched at the base in a distinct display of dislike for the offending smell.

"It was your stench that led us to find you," the Voth fired back without hesitation.

"Our ranks grow by the hour," Fran said, looking at Balthier while the two teams shared pleasantries.

"And our troubles with them," the debonair man noted. "As great as this little family reunion might be, we need to continue moving," Balthier announced. "This would not be the best place for the Grogg to find us."

"The Grogg?" Mitshiba asked.

"Big, tall, nasty, overgrown ape-like creatures," Sonja said with a sigh.

"Relatives of your?" Enel asked, unable to let such a golden opportunity to tease the Caitian pass by.

"The one Lt. A'Janni ran into when we were at the bar decided to seek revenge," Commander Maya explained. "Apparently they have a very low tolerance to being referred to as 'monstrosity'. That was all it took to set that particular being on a quest to eradicate our Flight Control Officer and anyone who might get in his way."

"We were able to escape thanks to Fran and Balthier," Adriana added. "They knew of a secret door that allowed us to escape to these caves."

"So the Grogg is after A'Janni?" Gemma asked in a less than amused manner.

"Your friend is not the only one the Grogg are after I am afraid," Balthier stated. "They seem to have a particular dislike for anything with white fur," Fran confirmed the man's words with a simple nod of her head. "That is why it would be prudent for us to keep moving."

"It would seem that you are on more than one 'wanted' list," the ILO said, glaring at the long-eared woman in question. "The man in the black cloak was rather adamant about finding you as well."

"The Black Wolf *and* the White Guard," Balthier exclaimed. "We have definitively overstayed our welcome on this sand planet, my Dear," he added looking straight at Fran. "Maybe it would be best for us to part ways with our new-found-friends and find another place to be. One that might hopefully have better scenery than this."

"That might not be so easy," Fran noted. "Our ship is still under repaired, and that is if the White Guard did not get involved, which I doubt. Delaying our repairs would ensure that we remain within his reach." As bad as the prospect was, the Viera's accent almost made it sound pleasant.

"Pirates without a sky," Balthier lamented. "What has become of us?"

"You are pirates?" Adriana gasped with surprise.

"Of sorts," the debonair man casually replied. "That is what they call us, but I would rather think of ourselves as adventurers with a taste for the finer things in life."

"We have come to this world in search of pirates," the Junior Ambassador said. It was highly unlikely that Balthier and Fran were the ones they were specifically looking for, but Adriana figured that they might be able to help them in their search. 

"Looking for pirates... Fancy that," Balthier did not appear concerned in the least, the man radiated unwavering confidence and assurance that were part of his charm.

"We need a guide to help us find who we are licking for while we are in the ARGALIS CLUSTER, and you need off this planet," Lopez explained. With a quick glance to the senior-most officer present, which was Mitshiba, the Counselor / Junior Ambassador received the approval she hoped for. "We are willing to offer you a way off in exchange for your services."

Balthier and Fran exchange a lingering look, debating in silence the pros and cons of the offer that had just been made. When the debonair man appeared ready to give his reply though, the sound of heavy footsteps was heard coming from down the passageway.

"The Grogg!" Fran said, her elongated ears twitching at the sound which was rapidly growing louder. "They have found us."

"Looks like our decision has been made for us," Balthier admitted. "Lead the way to your ship."

"We have to pick up four other members of our team," Mitshiba announced. "We will need to return to the settlement to find them."

"Of course you do," the man sighed. "May I strongly suggest that we hurry. The Gorgg may be known for a great many things, the least of which is being able to rip a man apart with their bare hands, but having patience is certainly not one of them. We will take you back to the settlement. I just hope that your ship is ready for a speedy departure."

"No worries, it will be fast enough," Sonja grinned.

With that said, Beta and Gamma team rushed behind a hurrying Balthier and Fran who were not in a mood to have any sort of dealings with the Grogg which were quickly closing in on them.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-029: USS HATHOR: A’Janni/Enel: 36101.1155 ("Thunder Bunny")
=-=
“Thunder Bunny”
Previous post: “Back Together” by Marissa

=-=
Setting: Unnamed planet, an underground passageway
Stardate: 36101.1155


Luckily for the team, the cave they were running through had grown in width to allow more spread out formation than a straight line. Unfortunately for the Caitian FCO, it seemed that he and the member of his team had been running from the Grogg since pretty much the time they had set foot in the settlement.  That said, A'Janni easily kept up with the rest of the group, going as far as forcing himself to slow down so that he did not overtake Balthier and Fran who were leading the pack.

"I don't know why we bother with these covert missions," the Caitian said to the Voth with whom he was matching steps with. "Whatever we do, wherever we go, we always seem to be either running to someplace or running away from someone."

"Would you rather be chasing your tail?"

A'Janni quickly looked behind him before realizing that he had fallen for the bait. Caitians do not have a tail, which was lucky for him as it would make sitting at the Helm of any ship that much less comfortable.  The big lizard man keeping stride next to him smiled smugly.

"I hope we get back to the surface quickly," A'Janni added.

"Why? Are you in a rush to go somewhere?"

"Not somewhere," the Caitian said scrunching his nose. "Just away from you. That sewage you swam through sure has some staying power. Maybe you should stay back and face the Grogg that are following us. I bet that the stench alone will be able to declare you victorious without lifting a single finger."

The scaly Voth ignored the insult. “You and I should mentally prepare to apply some sort of rearguard action.

A’Janni scoffed. “Against the Grogg?  Have you seen them?  Three meters tall!  Arms as thick as your body. And there is more than one of them after us.”

“Very well.  You should confront them first.  I am sure Fran would appreciate your sacrifice.”

The mention of the Veira's name made the Caitian's one good eye lock onto the woman in question. Trying not to think about the monstrous brutes chasing them, it was easy for the FCO to lethis thoughts drift onto more pleasant prospects than them meeting an untimely end at the hands of a group of enraged ape-like telepathic beings,

"That Fran sure can move," A'Janni whispered, admiring how the Viera moved down the cave's passageway, avoiding all obstacles with the agility of a nimble gazelle. "I would love to learn more about her species," the Caitian said.

"She's not your type," the Voth fired back.

"Why do you say that?"

"For starters, she has *two* eyes, so she's twice as likely to see you for the love-sick kitty you are."

Angry bellowing echoed up the corridor behind them.  A’Janni’s white eye dilated.  "We need to find a way to delay them before they really catch up to us, and I am hoping for an idea that does not involve my sacrifice."

"How about closing and barricading a door behind us?" Zub asked with a grin.

"We are in a cave," the Caitian scoffed. "There are no doors in caves."

The running Voth pointed ahead.  “Well, our chance is about to change.”

Fran and Balthier disappeared through an arched doorway closely followed by A'Janni and Zub who had picked-up the pace to give themselves time to survey the door and what they might be able to use to delay the rapidly gaining Grogg.  The remaining away team smoothly formed into a column of twos and sped through the doorway between Zub and A’Janni.

"There is no door, just a metal gate," the Caitian pointed out with disappointment.

"As long as it can block the way, it will have to do," Zub said, already halfway in closing the gate. "Find something that we can use to stop it from reopening."

"You mean more than that latch?" A'Janni asked in a half-joking manner, the Caitian moving to roll a small boulder to be up against the gate.

Enel had ignored his friend's question, but still took the time to engage the latch. At this point, every little bit would help although upon seeing the stampede of massive Grogg heading their way, the Voth quickly reconsidered their plan. "This is not going to stop them. In fact, I suspect it might not even delay them. We need something bigger."

"You two, move!" Fran said, causing the Caitian and Voth to turn and look at her.

A'Janni and Zub had just enough time to get out of the way as she drew the string back on her bow and released a single red-glowing arrow over their heads. The explosion that followed caused a cave in that even the Grogg would need several minutes to dig through.

'"Let's go!" Mitshiba prompted, motioning for the FCO and Sec/Tac to catch up with the rest of the group which had already resumed running.

A’Janni ran with his ears still down from the thundering blast. Fran, tall in her own right, long legs carving out great strides, easily outran him as she returned to the front of the line. When a moment later the Voth caught up with him, the Caitian said, “I gotta get me one of those.”

“Exploding arrows?” The Voth asked with a smile.

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

and

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“In my books, women often solve the problem. Even if the woman is not the hero, she's a strong character. She does change the plot. She'll often rescue the male character from some situation.”
- Ken Follett
M01-030: USS HATHOR: Maya: 36101.1215 ("A Short-Lived Break")
---
"A Short-Lived Break"
(Previous Post: "Thunder Bunny")
---

Setting: Unnamed planet, an underground passageway
Stardate: 36101.1215

The group had taken a moment to catch their breath, granting the Shillian Chief Science Officer the chance to study the cave structure that they had found themselves in. The initial scan of the planet had not revealed any underground structures, and certainly nothing that would have hinted to the complex network of natural corridors and chambers the team had so far encountered.

"Is everything all right?" The question from Lieutenant Commander Mitshiba made sense when considering the perplexed expression on the face of the Shilian as she carefully analyses, as best she could without, the composition of a specific section of the cave wall.

"Everything is fine," Maya replied without taking her eyes away from the geological analysis provided by her tricorder. "I was just trying to understand why our sensors did not pick up these tunnels during our initial survey of the planet. It made sense that we would not have been able to see anything directly beneath the dampening fields protecting the buildings, but we have covered a great deal of distance, more than enough to take us well beyond the reach of those energy barriers. The only possible explanation is that the soil of this planet contains something that shielded these underground structures from our scans, and I am simply trying to identify the specific cause of this. The discovery could prove invaluable if the material can be incorporated into the construction of a ship, but I suspect that this has already been accomplished based on the accounts of the vessel we have been sent to locate, one that was reported to be undetectable by sensor technology."

"Looks like we have a scientist in our midst," Balthier said, not in a derogatory manner, but not quite in an admiring way either. "You are quite correct, the mineral composition of the rocks of this world is able to make a vessel invisible to scanning instruments. The problem is that the process of turning this rock," he explained, holding a sample of the rock in question in his hand," into something useful is very difficult and time consuming. Most feel that the final product is simply not worth the investment."

"Obviously, someone did not think so," Mitshiba noted. "That is unless the mentions of the ship we are after are purely fictional."

"They are quite real," Fran pointed out, "which is just another reason why you should reconsider your plan. That ship does not like being searched for."

"You make it sound as if that ship was alive," Gemma said, the ILO skeptical of the whole affair.

"That ship will be more alive than we will be if we stay any longer," Balthier said, changing the subject. "Collapsing the passageway will delay the Grogg, but not as much as we would like. I suspect that it will take only a few minutes for those muscled arms of theirs to move the boulders that stand in their way. So, if everyone has managed to catch their second wind, I say we get back to moving. We still have your four friends to locate before we can leave this planet, and I for one would like to see this ball of sand several lightyears behind me soon sooner rather than later."

The two pirates wasted no time continuing down the cavern, leaving the others to either follow and be lost in this underground maze, or follow. The Shillian made a point to get near the First Officer of the HATHOR so that she could speak with her without her words being overheard by their new allies.  "Commander Mitshiba, it is my belief that Balthier and Fran are not being completely honest with us in regard to the ship. I believe that they know more than they are letting on, the simple fact that they knew about the properties of the mineral content of the rocks and how difficult the transformation process is, indicates that they possess a deeper understanding and knowledge than they care to admit."

"I agree," Gemma said, joining the other two officers, unlike them though, the Intel Liaison Officer did not appear to be in any way bothered by their running. "They are hiding something."

"Just another reason for us to keep them close," Misaki said. "I think Captain Morningstar would agree that having those two on the HATHOR will help us in our mission. If they are part of its crew or just collaborate with them from time to time, having them with us could draw the ship to us. If, on the other hand, they have nothing to do with that ship, their knowledge of it and of the ARGALIS CLUSTER will certainly come in handy as we continue our search. We will just have to keep an eye on them."

"I intend to keep both eyes on them," Gemma said before picking up the pace, easily catching up to the pair while leaving the First Officer and Chief Science Officer to do their best to just keep up.

---
Jessica Solarik

Lieutenant Commander Maya
Chief Science Officer
USS ANUBIS

&

Captain Selene Fiona Iverson
Commanding Officer
USS BASTET

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M01-031: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36101.1215 ("What's In A Color?")
=-=
“What's In A Color?”
Previous posts: "An Eye Opened" by David and Dawn
=-=

Setting: Unnamed planet, Underground Chamber
Stardate: 36101.1215

The moment the team encountered the man in white, Sofia felt her stomach twist. She was not sure why, but the man gave her the 'heebie jeebies', the creeps, that feeling that makes you instantly uncomfortable in your own skin. Andersson kept expecting something or someone to jump from the shadows behind them and impale them with whatever weapon they held.

The CMO would have run away, likely screaming at the top of her lungs as she did so, or at the very least she would have turned around to see what would come their way, but Sofia found it impossible to look away from the painting on the far wall. There was something equally unsettling about that painting, something that tugged at her mind making her feel like she was on the edge of madness, and yet she could not look away.

She was aware of the conversation happening around her and even offered a few quick replies or comments when they first walked in, but it did not take the Doctor long to wish for the tranquility of the waiting room they had been in beforehand. That, even if the music that played proved to be as annoying as could be. Sofia had no choice but to remain in this room though, her feet were glued to the floor by no other means than her inability to move them. Her eyes were equally immovable, locked on the painting while she listened to what the others were saying. All that Andersson could do was to try her best to make sense of what she was experiencing and feeling.

Like so many other things though, that was easier said than done.

The man in white should have been a friend, an ally, a good guy, at least that was according to all of the stereotypes Sofia had been led to believe as a child. White was the color of purity and innocence, it also symbolized cleanliness, freshness, and simplicity, but there was nothing simple about that man. Just the way he stood there sent shivers down her spine. The man was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. Everything about him screamed caution, so much so that the whole team should never have walked into the room to start with.

Was Sofia overreacting? Maybe so, but that was the way she felt, the way her mind raced, the way her skin crawled, the way her heart rushed to set a new beats-per-minute record, only to try and shatter that record the minute after. She could hear the drumming of her heart as it pushed against her chest as if wanting t break free. What a horrific sight that would be, the kind of scene that should have been an integral part of some late 20th-century movie.

A million and one questions echoed in the CMO's head. What horrible truth would the mysterious man reveal? How would it affect the team lead by Captain Morningstar and the crew of the HATHOR? Would it lead to the end of their mission or the end of their lives?   In the end, though, the most important question remained unanswered. Who was the man in white?

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Lieutenant JG Sofia Andersson [Access Character BIO for Sofia Andersson]
Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-032: USS HATHOR: Bonviva/Ya’Han: 36101.1230 ("The Man in White")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“The Man in White”
Previous posts: "What's In A Color?” by Tiffany
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1230

The team from the HATHOR shared a look; it was clear that they weren’t expecting this direction.  They had barely had stepped into this room, but it was clear The Man in White knew them.  Or at least knew of them.

“I’m thinking you came in a small ship; it moved quickly and easily.  Nothing too large to make us aware of who you were,” the man said, his tone between bored and contemplative.  “I suppose I should count myself “lucky” that I got the Captain and the Security Chief.  You other two I’m not sure who you are but it will sort itself out.”  

“I can assure you--” Erik began.

The man held up a hand as if to cut him off.  “Don’t bother trying to contradict me,” he said with the calm, yet firm, air.  “Did you think you were the first?” Not waiting for an answer the Man in White gestured to the picture in front of him.  “Captain, tell me, what do you see here?”

Erik studied the picture, then the man. This was clearly a test but he was unsure what the purpose or outcome would be. “What good does this do us?”

“Indulge me,” the Man in White said.

Morningstar stifled a sigh but after the Ambassador gave a short nod to him, the CO looked at the picture.  “It’s a simple picture; it’s trying to appear to be old with the yellowed background.  It’s a picture of a valley with homes high, drawn only with the lightest of sketches.”

The Man in White seemed prepared to anticipate the next reaction.  “Security, you don’t see that do you?”

“Who are you,” Ya’Han asked.  The picture she was looking at was far different than the one that the Captain described.  In fact, no matter how she looked at the picture it never came out the way Morningstar described. No Nylaan landscape could be described as muted and hand-drawn.  It would never be done. The Sec/Tac glanced towards the CMO and noticed Sofia staring intently at the same picture. Whatever she was seeing had caught her fullest attention, freezing her in place. "I see..." Ya'Han began before letting her words drift into an extended silence.

The Man in White grinned. Even with his back to them, they could tell that he was taking a perverse pleasure in antagonizing the black-haired woman.  "Come on, tell me what you see," he urged. "You would not want your Captain to feel left out, now would you?"

"A luscious forest and distant mountains which are very reminiscent of those I could see from my room as a child," Ya'Han said, but she kept anything else to herself as she felt there was no need to share any more information than she already had.

"A yes," the Man in White said, his grin growing to a full-blown smile which again could be seen despite his not having turned to face his visitors. "The countryside of NYLA IV as seen from the Imperial Palace. One of the few pleasant childhood memories you have managed to hold on to I suspect."

The members of the Alpha Team remained completely quiet. What could they say? The man knew a great deal about them, and anything they said would either serve to confirm what he knew or only prove that he had them at a disadvantage the likes of which no one could have expected.

"How?" The Ambassador questioned. If this was a trick of some sort, she and the others needed to figure it out, and they could not do so without pressing the issue, even if only with one-word queries.

“It’s an old Betazoid painting.  It picks up on your mental state and reflects it back to you.  Counselors used to use this to determine their patient’s mindset.”  The Man in White turned around.  “I use it to determine whoever Koniki sends.”  Smiling he asked, “How is my old mentor?”

Ya'Han hair changed to bright red. If it had not been for the Captain shaking his head 'no', the Sec/Tac would have leaped at the Man in White and forced the answers out of him.

"That is mighty decent of you, Captain," the Man in White said, his smile never wavering, "but quite unnecessary I assure you. I am quite aware of your Lieutenant's skills and abilities, and I am very well prepared for anything she can try to do to me."

"Very well," Morningstar said. There was no reason for any presents at this point in the game. "What do you want?"

"For Koniki to leave me alone," the Man in White said with a sigh as he turned back to look at the painting.

"Fine, we will relay the message to him," the Captain said hoping that this would bring an end to whatever this was.

"I am sorry, but I am afraid that it is not that easy," he said.

"Is it ever?" Xana countered. "Let me guess, we will not be leaving this place?"

"Clever girl," the Man in White said with a hint of pride in his voice.

Upon hearing this, the Sec/Tac figure that she had nothing to lose and decided to take full advantage of the man not looking at them to act, despite his earlier claim. Both Erik and Xana tried to stop Ya'Han, but by the time they noticed what she was doing it was already too late, the Nylaan already in the air, hallway to landing a powerful kick right between the Man in White's shoulders.  The impact was fierce, as judged by the way the bright red-haired woman flew back after hitting the personal forcefield protecting the intended target.

"Like I said," the man cooed. "I am prepared for all eventualities."

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Sarah Albertini-Bond
USS ANUBIS

and

Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M01-033: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36101.1240 ("Cause and Effect")
##########
"Cause and Effect"
Previous posts "The Man In White"
##########

"If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it.”
― Captain Jack Sparrow

--==/\==--
Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1240

"YA'HAN!"

Whatever trance the CMO was in ended the moment the Chief of Security flew backward from her assault on the Man in White, the field protecting him pushing the flying Nylaan back with as much force as she had used to strike.

"Her leg, it's broken," Sofia said wincing, the CMO not needing any medical scanner to make a preliminary diagnosis.  "We need to bring her back to our ship."

"I do not believe that will be possible, Doctor," the Native American said, glaring at the Man in White. "Do your best with what is available."

"See, that is why Koniki likes you, well at least tolerates you," the man said, his words confident to the point of tipping into arrogance. "You don't waste time trying to find some impossible solution. You accept what is and carry on."

"I have not accepted us being stuck here," Morningstar forcefully challenged. "If you know so much about us, you know that we will not stop trying to escape."

"Speaking of knowing so much," the Ambassador added, "How is it that you know them?"

"Let's just say that your *Captain" is not by any stretch of the imagination the only troubled soul Koniki recruited into his shadowy world," the Man in White said. "The only difference is that I decided not to stay and continue to be subjected to his ever-shifting moods."  The man's explanation was cut short when a soft beep came from the PADD in his hand, causing him to cast his gaze upon it.

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, a Trade Building
Stardate: 36101.1240  

"Here we are," Balthier proudly announced. "Back on the surface."

"Are you sure?" Commander Mitshiba sarcastically inquired. "This place is just as dark and damp as the cave we were in."

"Maybe so," the debonair gentleman smiled, "but the merchandise here is much less dangerous than the Grogg. That is as long as all you do is look at it. Now, where are your friends?"

"The dampening field generated by the buildings is making it impossible for the tricorder to get any sort of readings," the Shillian scientist reported. "Even if we stepped out of range of this particular field, we might not be able to locate them if they are in or under another similar field."

"We have to figure out a way to locate them," Gemma softly growled. "Those Grogg that were after us will not be delayed forever. Despite all of the forks and detours we took to get here, it is only a matter of time before they find us."

"There might be a way," the Viera said, looking straight at her travel companion. "What about... Kryd?"

"Who is Kryd?" Adriana asked, the Counselor picking up on the hesitation in Fran's voice followed by Balthier's face when the name was mentioned.

"Kryd is a *what*, not a *who*," the pirate said, visibly not wanting to entertain the suggestion made by his exotic companion.

"If it will allow us to locate the Captain and the others, what are we waiting for?" A'Janni offered, the Caitian quickly siding with the Viera.

"Down kitty, down," Zub half-whispered to his friend.

"All right," Counselor Dima pressed on. "*what* is a Kryd?"

"It's a telepathic giant ooze used by the 'Seekers of All', a religious sect dedicated to the search for a universal force that binds the universe together," Balthier replied. "When one of them steps into the ooze, their mind can be taken countless light-years away. With a little control, you can focus your thoughts on a person or place. According to the sect's followers, the experience can be quite intense and enlightening."

"Giant ape-like warriors on one side, a giant telepathic ooze on the other, this place is full of surprises," Mitshiba offered in shock.

"That's just on this planet," Balthier noted. "Fine, I guess it is time for us to go for a little bit of enlightenment. Let's go."

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1245

The more the Man in White read the content of his latest message, the angrier he became until his rage could no longer be contained, leading him to throw the small handheld device across the room to crash and shatter against the far wall.

"Bad news?" Xana asked, the Bolian/Human hybrid sounding rather pleased by the man's display of emotions, which showed him to not be as in control of himself or his environment as he tried to appear to others.

"Nothing that concerns you," the Man in White snapped before walking through the wall where the Betazoid painting was.

"Well, that was unexpected," the Ambassador said wide-eyed, not having expected the man to just phase through the wall.

"How is Ya'Han?" the Native American asked of the Doctor who was attending to the injured Chief of Security as best she could.

"She's in pain and is unable to walk," Andersson reported, not sounding pleased in any way by this turn of events. "We need to get her back to the ship ASAP."

"Easier said than done I'm afraid," Erik offered with a deep sigh.  "What is your take on our host?" The Captain asked of the Ambassador.

"Clearly he served under Koniki at some point, likely before I joined your crew, hence why he had no idea of who I was. The same can be said about Sofia, and the fact that he did not know anything about us also indicates that he has had no recent contact or Intel from NEW ALEXANDRIA, a lack that we might be able to use to our advantage."

"Our first priority is to get out of here and regroup with the others," Morningstar said giving the room a thorough search for anything that might aid them in this task.

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, Temple
Stardate: 36101.1250

"So where is this Kryd you spoke of?" Gemma asked, the ILO clearly growing impatient.

"One does not simply walk into the Temple of the Seekers of All and jump into their sacred ooze," Balthier explained. "I might not agree with their beliefs, but these people still deserve to be respected and their ways honoured."

"What did you do to them?" Counsellor Lopez asked, certain that the pirate had somehow wronged the members of this sect, thus explaining his abundant willingness to show them respect.

"Nothing," Balthier quickly said in his defence in a higher pitch than usual.

"Why are you back?" A man dressed in plain brown robes asked, the disapproval in his voice along with his clothing and general posture easily identifying him as a member of the sect.

"I brought you some friends in search of knowledge and enlightenment," the pirate explained.

"The sacred ooze is not meant for the general public, Balthier," the monk said defiantly. "The purity of the ooze cannot be tainted by the presence of someone who has not proven themselves worthy of its gifts."

"Great," Sonja sighed. "So we are no closer to finding the Captain and the others."

"Maybe I can help," a bald woman, standing where the ILO had been mere seconds before said. "My name is Ema, Ema Fairchild, I am an..."

"Oltharian?" The monk gasped. "We are honoured by your presence. My apologies, I had not been aware that you were with him," the robed man added as he bowed, directing the priestess's attention to Balthier with a movement of his head.

Knowing that time was of the essence, the Oltharian woman stepped forward to stand alone in front of the monk. "I am on a mission of great importance, a quest for knowledge that holds the lives of four people in its timely completion. This gentleman informed me that you and your sect would be able to greatly facilitate my search for this knowledge. Was he in error?"

"Not at all," the monk replied bowing once more. "It would be an honour for this temple to help one such as you on your quest for knowledge and the saving of lives. Your people's quest for knowledge and respect for all life is well known and is it truly an honour to have you here. Please, come with me, I will take you to our meditation room."

"What just happened? Who is she? Where did she come from?" Balthier asked, both he and his travel companion appearing as confused as could be.

"Let me explain," Nicole said before stopping herself. "No, let me summarize. She's a friend, one that always knows what we need when we need it most. Trust her."

"Yup,"  Sonja agreed. "Leave it to an Oltharian to find a way to solve an impossible task, especially those who belong to the Religious Circle."

"Elan was not a member of the Religious Circle," the Shillian corrected.

"No, but he wanted to be, and that just as bad."

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1255

While Sofia cared for Ya'Han, Erik and Xana thoroughly surveyed the room they were in, hoping to find something that would allow them to escape. Judging by the expression on the faces of the Captain and Ambassador, their search had proven less than successful.

"That might be why he phased out through the wall," Bonviva theorized. "This room is sealed as tight as a Ferengi vault filled with gold-pressed-latinum."

Morningstar raised an eyebrow. "Why do I have the feeling that I should not ask how you know that?"

"There are some things that are better left unknown," the Ambassador replied in all seriousness.  Before anything else could be said both Erik and Xana saw something from the corner of their eyes, drawing them to look at the Betazoid painting. "Tell me you saw that."

"I saw *something*," the Native American confirmed. "Could not tell you what it was though."

"This thing is freaky enough without having it looking at us," the Bolian/Human noted.  "I am sure I saw a set of eyes, and they were looking right at us."

"The Man in White said that it reflects our feelings and mood, maybe it just picked up on one of us feeling watched," Morningstar offered as a counter-theory.

"Sofia is too preoccupied with Ya'Han's condition and she is too much in pain to think about anything else. So, either it was you feeling that way or me, and I know it was not me." Bonviva paused for a few seconds, staring at the painting. "There is also a flaw in your theory, none of us were able to see what the others saw on that painting before, so we both would have had to think and feel the exact same thing, which is highly improbable."

The discussion stopped when the same eyes they thought they had seen appeared once again on the painting, the slow repetitive blink only adding to the unsettling sight. This lasted only for a few seconds before the eyes vanished, returning the painting to the scene that each had observed before.

"What was that all about?" The Captain asked, not expecting an answer.

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, Temple
Stardate: 36101.1300

"I know where they are," Gemma announced as she hurried down the corridor leading to the Temple's main lobby where the others had been waiting. "The Captain and the others are trapped in a room, prisoners and Ya'Han is injured."

"Where did you come from?" Balthier asked.

"No time to explain. We need to get to the underground chambers beneath the southernmost building of this settlement, the one with the large double iron doors," the ILO said, already pushing her way through the gathered officers.

"That building is controlled by the Grogg," Fran gasped. "You can't just walk in, and certainly not reach the underground chambers."

"Trust her," Balthier added. "We have tried."

"Commander," Zub said looking at the Asian woman. "I made a point to keep track of the underground passageways we encountered, and I have identified a couple that should lead in that general direction. A direct frontal assault may not be wise, but maybe we can find a way to gain access to that specific room from one of these passageways."

"You memorized the layouts of the caves and passageways?" Mitshiba gasped.

"Not the layout per se, but the smell associated with each.," the Voth explained. "I am sure that I can find the passageway we need to get us where Lt. Gemma stated we needed to be. There was one particular one that was very reminiscent of the Grogg, so at the time I thought it was best for us to avoid it. Now it seems that it was the way we needed to go all along."

"All right then, Balthier, take us back to the underground tunnels, once there Ensign Enel will take the lead," the Commander ordered. "Let's move out!"

"What about the Grogg?" Adriana demanded.

"The ones that were after us took a different path," the ILO replied. "We should not have any issues with them."

"I was more concerned about the one *in* that building," the Counselor / Junior Ambassador amended.

"The room is unguarded," Gemma said. "There should not be any problems as long as we get in and out quickly enough."

"How many times have I heard that one," Sonja said rolling her eyes. "Let's go. We can all discuss how bad of a plan this was after we get the Captain and the others back." The CEO added as she did her best to keep her concerns for her friend and shipmates to herself.

=====
Setting: Unknown planet, underground structure
Stardate: 36101.1315

"How is she?" Erik asked of Sofia once again as he leaned over the two women.

"She passed out," the Doctor informed. "The pain must have been too much.  Are we ever going to get out of here?"

"We will," the Native American said in as reassuring a tone as he could. The truth was that he was not sure how they would manage to get out of this predicament.

"Did you feel that?" Xana asked of Erik. When she saw the questioning look on the Captain's face, the Ambassador elaborated. "There was a low vibration through the floor and walls."

"An earthquake?" The Native American theorized until he too felt what the Bolian/Human hybrid had described, a low, continuous vibration that was growing stronger.

"If I didn't know better, I would say that it's some kind of runaway track vehicle, and it's coming closer, fast," Andersson noted looking up at Morningstar and Bonviva with a distinct air of concern.

The Captain and Ambassador continued to listen to the steadily growing rumble until it was clear that it was not just coming closer but heading straight for them.  The two had just enough time to dive out of the way and offer as much protection to the Doctor and her patient as they could before the sealed door flew clear across the room followed by a couple of Grogg who soon after collapsed to the ground unconscious.

"Captain Morningstar?" Misaki asked through the dust as she made her way around the two stunned ape-like creatures.

"Right here," Erik coughed as he raised a hand to indicate his location. "We are all here, and Ya'Han is..."

"Hurt, we know," Gemma announced as she walked in, not having any issues walking over the bodies of the two Grogg. "Zub, take care of Ya'Han. Captain Morningstar, Ambassador Bonviva, Doctor Andersson, I am sorry but time is of the essence. We have a group of Grogg on our tail. The others are doing their best to delay them, but they can't do it for long.  We drew those two here to help open the door."

"And a fine job you did at that," Xana noted, looking at the door which was now embedded into the Betazoid painting, likely rendering it no longer usable.

"We have to regroup with Balthier, Fran and the others before we can make our way to somewhere where the ship will be able to lock transporters on us," the Asian First Officer explained.

"Balthier?" Erik asked.

"Fran?" Xana followed suit.

"I will explain once we are safely back on the ship," Mitshiba said as she watched Zub effortlessly lift the unconscious Ya'Han, taking every care to not aggravate her injury.

"Looks like we found a way to get out of here," Xana said, smiling at Erik.

"I would say that the way out found us," the Native American said glancing at the two massive forms currently unconscious on the floor.

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

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-034: USS HATHOR: Andersson/Ya’Han: 36101.1430 ("Safe and Sound")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Safe and Sound”
Previous posts: "Cause and Effect” by Francois
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.1430

As small as the Sickbay of the HATHOR was, Sofia was glad to be back. The second the teams returned to the ship, the CMO jumped into action and took care of mending the Sec/Tac's badly broken leg. It took some work, but the bones were eventually restored to their former glory allowing the physician's patient to walk once again, after taking some time to rest of course.

"Her legs look better," Nic said as she made her way into Sickbay, the joint Trill having little other choices but to see the patient who was right there in front of her. thanks to the restricting size of the room. "Is she still unconscious?"

"I am not Counselor," Ya'Han replied, the black-haired Nylaan opening her eyes to look at the shocked Trill. "I was just resting, as per the Doctor's orders."

"It was more of a strong recommendation," Sofia said, grinning.

"Did she wave her tricorder in your face when she gave you this *recommendation?" Dima asked of Ya'Han.

The Sec/Tac smiled, opened her eyes wide and nodded her head. "She did, why?"

"Anytime she performs a medical scan and finds something she doesn't like, she waves her tricorder while listing everything they need or cannot do. Whatever she says though, it is an order," the CNS explained, occasionally glancing at the CMO as she did so.

"Fine," Sofia said as she threw her hands up over her head in defeat, "but it's a *medical* order for their own good."

With that out of the way, Nicole sat on the bottom edge of the only biobed, making sure not to come anywhere close to Ya'Han's legs.  "How are you doing? Someone on the bridge has been worried about you."

"Doctor Andersson says that I will be able to resume my full duties in a couple of hours, although she did *recommend* that I not engage in any kicking force fields for at least a couple of days," Ya'Han replied as she looked down at her feet which she was ever so gently moving to display that all was as it needed to be. "It is sweet of Captain Morningstar to be concerned?"

"I am sure that the Captain is concerned about your well-being, as I am certain he is for all of the members of his crew, but it was not him I was referring to," the joint Trill explained.

"Ambassador Bonviva?" Ya'Han questioned.

"As disturbed as she was by your injury, the Ambassador did not appear overly concerned. I can only guess that she has seen worse injuries and knows that they can be easily fixed," Nicole replied.

"Easily fixed from her point of view," Sofia argued from the other side of the small room. It would have been impossible for the CMO not to overhear the conversation even if she had wanted to. "Both her Fibula and Tibia were shattered by the force of the impact. I had to pretty much rebuild those two bones, not to mention fix the countless other fractures which went from her Themur all the way to her ribcage. If it is so damn easy, maybe next time she can be the one in here fixing someone up."

"As I was saying," the CNS continued. "The Ambassador likely knew that the injury would be easily fixed thanks to the skills, knowledge and sheer dedication of our resourceful Chief Medical Officer."

"Nice save," Andersson chuckled, her back still facing the other two ladies.

"That still does not tell me who was so concerned about me," the Sec/Tac said, the woman going through the list of the senior officers aboard the HATHOR in her mind. "Was it Sonja?"

"Our Chief Engineer was livid when she learned of you being injured and it was easy to see her concerns for you drove her to take some major risks as we confronted the Grogg to reach you and your team. Strangely enough, though, her concerns seemed to vanish the moment we returned to the HATHOR."

"Sonja is not one to just be concerned for the sake of it," Ya'Han said smiling. "She is the type of person who gets the job done and uses whatever reason she can to do it to the best of her skills. Once we were back aboard, her focus went to making sure everyone was safe by ensuring that the ship functioned at peak efficiency."

"Speaking of Lt. Cmdr Paquette," Sofia interrupted. "I need to go see her in Main Engineering. She reported having pain in her right hand, and from what she described it sounds like she might have broken a finger. I would have fixed it right away, but she insisted that I take care of you first," the CMO said looking straight at Ya'Han. "I dared not go against her order."

"I think it was only a strong recommendation," Nicole said teasingly, smiling at the Doctor.

"Whichever it was, I was not going to against her, but now that everything here has been taken care of, I should head to the engineering section and take care of her hand. Behave you two," Sofia said as she stepped out of Sickbay with a medkit in hand.

As soon as the CMO was gone, the CNS stood up promoting the Sec/Tac to speak. "You can't leave me not knowing."

"I'm not," Nicole said as she stepped out into the corridor, but before Ya'Han could say anything more, the imposing aSec/Tac appeared in the doorway of Sickbay. "See, the joint Trill said to the Voth, "See, she is fine," and with that Dima walked away leaving them to talk.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Tiffany Reeve

Lieutenant JG Sofia Andersson [Access Character BIO for Sofia Andersson]
Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS

and

Hanali Han <sectacyahan@gmail.com>

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M01-035: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.1430 ("Questions Aplenty")
=-=
“Questions Aplenty”
Previous post: “Safe and Sound” by Tiffany and Hanali

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Observation Lounge
Stardate: 36101.1430

The ILO took it upon herself to debrief their guests. Part of the deal was that they would provide Intel on this region of space in exchange for transport off the planet. With them now abroad the HATHOR, the Federation's half of the deal had been fulfilled. It was now time for Balthier and Fran to deliver on their half of the agreement.

Gemma was not known for doing things in a round-about sort of way. So, it should not have been a surprise that the ILO started with the most important question. "What do you know about this pirate ghost ship that has been reported as terrorizing the region?"

The Viera's ears spun to focus entirely on the ILO sitting on the other side of the table. "A pirate ghost ship?"

Her companion leaned forward, crossing his arms in front of him on the table. "Terrorizing? I am afraid that we cannot help you with any pirate ghost ship. Maybe you should search for more information in the fiction section of whichever library you have access to."

Gemma narrowed her eyes and pressed her lips tightly together. "Do not play games with me. You said you had knowledge. You also said that you were pirates."

Balthier smiled. "That is what they call us. I never said that that was what we were. I think of ourselves as adventurers with a taste for the finer things in life."

The ILO was visibly not amused. "Fine, what do you know about a pirate ship that is said to be able to appear out of nowhere?"

Balthier and Fran exchanged a quick glance before the not-so-pirate man replied. "Stories, myths, legends, nothing more. It would not be much of a ghost pirate ship if everyone knew everything there is to know about it.  We might not be able to provide you with schematics or tactical strengths and weaknesses, but we might be able to offer something."

Gemma recognized the look in the man's eyes. He was ready to offer something, but that as long as he got something in return.  Gemma's demeanor went from unamused to well beyond annoyed. "Getting you off that planet was not enough for you?"

Balthier quickly leaned back into his chair. He knew little about Gemma, but it was clear that she was not someone you wanted to anger. "I just have one question. A simple query. Nothing major, just something to ease my piqued curiosity."

The ILO knew better than to give any sort of an agreement. The question, as simple as it may be, could touch on sensitive or even classified information. On the other hand, Gemma could tell that Balthier knew more than he was saying. Maybe his knowledge would prove useless, but she couldn't take that chance. Their lack of Intel on its region of space, let alone the ship, could prove costly. "I am not making you any promises. Ask your question."

A glimmer of joy appeared in the man's eyes. "Who was that woman at the Temple? You know, the bald one? The Priestess."

Gemma's facial expression remained as it was. "Her name is Ema, Ema Fairchild." The ILO's answer matched the Oltharian's self-introduction perfectly. Even the woman's tone and cadence as she said the name matched that used by the Priestess."

Balthier would have pressed on. He already knew the woman's name since she introduced herself to him. What the man wanted to know was why had she appeared at the same time that Gemma vanished. Judging by the intensity of the ILO's stare though, he understood that he would not get any more out of her. "Alright, a deal is a deal. We may not know about your ghost ship, but we might know others who do.  We can also provide you with a list of planets and systems to avoid. At the very least, we can provide you with the names of the planets we will be visiting. Our first stop should be GORLAPOLIS, the third planet in the nearest system. There are a few people I know who might be able to help in your search."

The ILO noted the name and location of the planet before she stood. "Thank you. You have access to the ship's public areas. This means you are not allowed on the bridge or main engineering. Any sensitive section is also off limits."

Fran looked at the standing woman. "Where *can* we go?"

Gemma's facial expression remained perfectly stoic. "Your assigned quarters, sickbay, and this room."  After saying this, the ILO exited the Observation Lounge, leaving Balthier and Fran to enjoy what little of the HATHOR they could see.

=-=
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]
M01-036: USS HATHOR: Ya'Han/Enel: 36101.1435 ("Loose Lips")
=-=
“Loose Lips”
Previous post: “Questions Aplenty” by Rachel

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.1435

When the tall, scaly Assistant Chief of Security stepped up where Ya’Han lay, the Nylaan Chief of Security’s hair flashed to red so bright that the color reflected off her biobed. She said tartly up to Zub Enel, “Do *not* HOVER!”

Zub Enel looked surprised. He backed off a step or two.

Ya’Han took a moment to reflect on why she had barked at her assistant. Since her escape from her homeworld, the Nylaan had learned not to trust the kindness of strangers, especially when offered to her by larger men. Their offers to help or even to protect usually carried with it a price that she ended up being forced to pay, whether she wanted to or not. This eventually led her to focus her training once she was accepted in Starfleet, but her trust in men remained for a very long time shaky at best. Over time, the Sec/Tac had come to trust a few members of the opposite gender, thanks to the true caring nature of Captain Morningstar and Jayson. Both men had come to know her for who she had become, a woman able to take care of herself no matter the situation. Whether she liked it or not, Zub Enel reminded her of how weak she had been, back when she was the youngest daughter of the High Sovereign and when her attack against the Man in White had so drastically failed.

"I'm sorry," the woman with the fiery red hair grumbled. Adriana would have had a field day psychoanalyzing Ya'Han right about now. She was angry, a fact that the Nylaan would have a hard time denying given the current color of her hair, but the question was why? Why was she so angry? The reason, or more accurately the lengthy list of reasons, grew more and more evident to the injured woman. She was angry at her father, at her eldest brother, at Jayson, and even Zub Enel only to name a few, but for the most part, she was angry at herself.

As much as her attack against the Man in White had been ill-conceived, and led to such an utter failure, Ya'Han found herself angry because she could not accept the fact that she had needed the assistance of someone else to return to the ship. Despite her shattered leg and the fact that she had been unconscious at the time, the Sec/Tac still believed that she should have been able to get up and walk out as the others did. Her efforts to overcome this anger proved to be more difficult than she cared for, leading her to change her hair color to being only a lighter red instead of the firestorm she had been displaying beforehand.

After a few moments of awkwardly shared silence, she spoke more civilly. “Dr. Andersson says my fractures are healed completely. I’m supposed to lay here a little while longer before returning to duty.”

An unfamiliar, accented female voice caught the CSO’s attention. “Healed? So soon?”

“The miracle of modern medicine,” Ya’Han quipped as she looked over the slender, exotic female who was almost the same height as hulking, 7-foot Zub Enel, if including her long, erect ears. This person, introduced earlier as a Viera named Fran, had followed the Voth into Sickbay uninvited.

Fran had dark red eyes that put out a steady confident gaze. She said to Ya’Han, “No one here has scars. I assumed you were weak or untried. I see now it is a boon from your ‘modern medicine.’”

Ya’Han sat up, her hair instantly returning to the bright red that she had worked so hard to vanquish moments before. She swung her legs off the bed and made an athletic hop so she landed lightly on the floor in her bare feet. Her thin, blue surgical robe fell to mid-thigh. Sickbay was small enough that she faced the white-haired Viera with little space between them. Fran did not back away. Her gaze remained firm. The only movement was her long white ears, frosted at the tips with chocolate brown. One cupped toward the Nylaan. The other swiveled toward the door and then Zub Enel. Fran presented a picture of calm alertness.

Zub Enel made a shift of his position, enough to draw both females’ attention. He said, his golden-eyed gaze moving from one to the other, “Even though we are cloaked and, in theory, invisible to all known scans, I am concerned about the Grogg telepathic ability. They are certainly still hunting Fran and Balthier. Can they not detect our presence with their minds?”

The Sec/Tac looked up at her assistant, silently thanking him yet again for what he had done. As much as she could not bring herself to verbally state her gratitude, his effort to avoid a confrontation and redirect the topic at hand onto something more constructive was well appreciated. That said, Ya'Han felt her anger towards Zub grow once more due to his revealing a unique property of the HATHOR she was sure the Captain would not have wanted their guests to be made aware of unless it became absolutely necessary.

"Cloaked? As in Invisible?" The Viera noted with visible interest.

"Only to sensors," the Nylaan quickly offered as an amendment.

"That must have been why the spotted lady was so interested in the minerals found in the cave," Fran said, referring to the Shillian scientist, Cmdr Maya.

“True cloaking ability would, as you say, be a boon for us,” Ya’Han said, deliberately implying that the HATHOR was limited in its cloaking ability.

The Viera stood expressionless, statuesque, save for two long ears that constantly swiveled and sampled the sounds around them.

The aSec/Tac Zub Enel stared at the tiny area of the deck between Ya’Han’s bare toes and the pointed toes of Fran’s armored stilettos. His brown scales had tinted fiery pink when he realized, belatedly, his question about the Grogg had revealed too much about the HATHOR’s capabilities. This to a person he had no idea of where her priorities lay. She and the smooth-talking Balthier might well be in league with the pirates the HATHOR sought or might even be the pirates themselves. That realization of his strategic clumsiness made him flash over to a tingling red almost as bright as Ya’Han’s hair. His down stood and stirred like he was whipped by gale-force winds. He looked up. Both women were staring at him.

“Forgive me,” he said, glancing first at Ya’Han. He hoped she caught that this was his acknowledgment of his reveal of secrets. To cover the apology as having a different shade of meaning, he glanced into the red eyes of Fran. “I am still quite concerned about the danger of detection from Grogg telepathic searches.”

“You Voth look brutish and cruel, but you allow your emotions to flutter delicately in full view. Curious beings you are,” Fran said, both ears aimed at him. Never having seen or even heard of the Viera before today, Zub was taken aback that Fran knew of his race.

“Curious indeed,” Ya’Han stated with heavy sarcasm. Her eyes narrowed toward the evasive, talking rabbit woman in armored lingerie. “The Grogg found you on the planet we just left. Was that by simple tracking or did they home in on you with telepathy?”

“I hope, with your help getting us quickly to GORLAPOLIS, we never find out,” Fran said. She pivoted on her high heels. Her waist-length white mane, done up in a ponytail, would have slapped Ya’Han across the face had the Nylaan not adroitly leaned back a fraction of a second as it flashed by. With more hip action than absolutely necessary, the Viera strode from the Sickbay leaving the door ajar.

Ya’Han’s hair took on a frightfully bright red, the color of freshly spilled blood, so much so that Zub Enel took a defensive step away from her. The Sec/Tac glared up at him, her lips clamped tight.

“I know,” Zub Enel said apologetically. “I will be more circumspect about the ship and crew.”

Her hair faded to a darker red. “You are a reliable and capable Security officer, but you are still a rank amateur at Intel operations. No more questions in front of him or her!”

“Understood!” Zub said, automatically coming to attention.

Her face grew less fierce. Her thick hair faded to black with streaks of red, her normal coloration. Her tone was more consolatory. “Take over the Tactical station. I want to talk to our Chief Engineer about piercing personal force fields.”

“Sir,” her towering assistant said before he turned to leave.

She glanced at her replicated ‘civilian’ clothes in a heap on a fold-down seat. “And close that damned door,” she yelled after him.

=-=
Hanali Han

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501

and

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Pirate ships were built for stealth and invisibility. They filed no manifests with any agency or government. When they went missing or sunk, nobody went looking for them. They simply disappeared into the ether.”
- Robert Kurson
M01-037: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.1710 ("Slow and Steady")
“Slow and Steady”
Previous post: “Loose Lips” by Hanali and David

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1710

With the HATHOR traveling at Warp 3, it would take another 16 hours for the ship to reach GORLAPOLIS. After Aki mentioned this to Captain Morningstar, he simply nodded his head and gave a quick glance at their guests. Balthier and Fran did not appear overly bothered by this timeframe and the ExO quickly figured that this was what their CO wanted.  There was no need to display to their pirate friends the full abilities of the ship, and it would give their Sec/Tac the chance to get back into her feet before they arrived at their destination.  Unfortunately, not everyone was as happy or understanding of the casual speed of the ship.

"Is there a problem!" The Chief Engineer had stormed onto the command deck, and it was clear to see that the woman was not happy, not one bit. To avoid a public scene from unfolding in front of their guests, Aki quickly ushered the woman off the bridge.

"Everything is fine," Mitshiba whispered to the woman as the two of them headed back towards Main Engineering. Although Aki did hold a higher position than that of the Chief Engineer, the ExO also took into account that both of them were Lt. Commanders, and as such Misaki did not feel it right for her to just snap back any sort of command. "The Captain wants us to take our time."

"Take our time?!?" Paquette quietly yelled, her face almost as red as her hair. "We folded space to cross millions of light-years in the blink of an eye for what? So that we could take a casual stroll in a part of the galaxy where a ship with yet-to-be-determined combat capacities can just lock on us and have some target practice? Has everyone forgotten the fact that this ship is said to be *undetectable*? So, please, tell me why we have not engaged the clo..."

Mitshiba cut the woman short by pushing her in the nearest room, waiting for the door to close behind them before speaking. "We have two people aboard the HATHOR whom we have no idea as to their true allegiances. Captain Iverson is doing what is required for us to continue with our mission without revealing what this ship is truly capable of at this time. That includes not only our maximum sustainable speed but also the fact that we have a cloaking device."

The CEO just looked back at the ExO. Aki could only wonder if the woman would accept the explanation or unleash some rant about the equipment or their guests.  What the woman said next took Mitshiba completely by surprise. "Captain Iverson?" Sonja asked, her head slightly tilted to one side.

The stunned Asian woman blinked a few times before speaking, processing the words and their significance.  "I meant Captain Morningstar," Aki bashfully corrected, regretting the slip of the tongue. Quickly regaining her mental footing, the ExO continued. "We have to take things slowly to ensure that we don't make any unnecessary mistakes."

"Seems to be a little too late for some mistakes," the Chief Engineer quickly fired back.

"It can be difficult to adapt to a new Commanding Officer and ship," Aki said, certain that the woman's comment was directed solely at her and the mention of the BASTET's Captain's name.

Before the Asian Lt. Commander could continue though, the Canadian Engineer spoke. "Hey, I've called him far worse, and to his face no less. The mistake I was referring to was bringing those two aboard the HATHOR. Getting Intel on this area of space is one thing, but we cannot afford to pick up every stray rabbit we come across. Let's face it, this ship is just not large enough to accommodate that many people."

Aki's shoulders slumped. From one mistake, namely calling their CO by the wrong name, to the next, thinking that Sonja's comment was directed at her, Aki felt beyond sheepish.  "I'm sorry, I guess my head is not where it needs to be at the moment."

Paquette placed a caring hand on Mitshiba's shoulder. "Listen, we are light-years from anything resembling a Federation outpost, we are in a part of the galaxy that we know next to nothing about *and* we are hunting a pirate ship that we decided, for some weird reason, decided to refer to as a *ghost ship*. Frankly, I'm surprised we have not all gone completely bonkers at this point."

"Thank you for understanding," Aki offered as she bowed her head. After a few seconds of silence, the ExO continued in a way she hoped would avoid her making more mistakes like the ones she did before. "When you came onto the bridge you were asking if there was a problem. Was it because you were questioning the HATHOR's low speed or was there something else that you were questioning?"

"Nope," Sonja bluntly replied. "The warp engines are operating well above the stated parameters, the cloaking device is ready to be engaged, all offensive and defensive systems are just a switch away from being at full battle readiness. I just thought I could rattle Erik's cage a little. Captain's need to be kept on their toes from time to time and I didn't want our slow and steady pace to let him think he could take a nap.  I also figured that showing some discord amongst the crew might force Balthier and Fran to tip their hand. I thought that if they suspected me not having the best possible relationship with our Captain, they might feel a little more at ease approaching me. After all, we are on an Intel gathering mission, so why not start with those two?"

Once again Aki blinked several times as she processed the CEO's words. Although both the ANUBIS and BASTET operated from the same ultra-secret complex, it was now beyond evident that the two ships and their crew did not follow the same mission profiles.  Intelligence gathering was clearly something that the crew of the ANUBIS was much more comfortable with than anyone else on the BASTET, with maybe a single exception.  It was because of this realization that Mitshiba made a mental note to speak to Gemma and see if the ILO could help the ExO in making sure that there were no other mistakes made by her.

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-038: USS HATHOR: A’Janni: 36101.1725 ("Cat and Mouse")
=-=
“Cat and Mouse”
Previous post: “Slow and Steady” by Dawn

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1725

At Warp 3, the Caitian FCO could fly the HATHOR with one eye closed, figuratively speaking of course since A'Janni was already missing an eye.  Although this was an unknown region of space for them, things were remarkably quiet. Long-range sensors had yet to detect anything of concern and the crew seemed to adapt for the most part with the slower pace their mission had taken, all thanks to Balthier and Fran.

Speaking of which, it was a good thing that piloting of the HATHOR did not require the FCO's complete attention, as his one good eye kept finding its way off the flight control console and onto the sensual form of the Viera. There was something about her slender exoticness that the Caitian could simply not ignore, not that he was trying all that hard.

His nostrils flared every time he glanced in her direction, taking in her distinct aroma. His heart raced at the prospect of the hunt she would most certainly offer him. One might look upon the two of them as nothing more than the humanoid form of the animals they roughly resembled. A'Janni would be the cat to Fran's rabbit, but there was no way for the Caitian to look at the Veira and seen only a prey. Just looking at her, it was evident that she was a fighter, a match for his skills and speed. At least that was what the FCO imagined.

"Captain," Enel called out, the VOTH manning the Tactical station while the Nylaan recuperated from her injuries. "Long-range sensors are picking up something directing in our path."

"Something?" The Captain repeated, hoping to get a little more details so that he would be able to make the proper decision.

"I am truly sorry Captain, but I can not give you more," Zub explained. "It registers as solid, but sensors are unable to identify the shape or compassion of whatever it is."

"Lt. A'Janni, alter course and give us as much room as you can while keeping it in sensor range," the Captain ordered. "Lt. Commander Maya, see if you can get a little more on whatever that thing is."

"Altering course to heading 018 mark 342," the Caitian confirmed, his mind no longer on the Viera although his heart was racing just as much as before.

"Object is moving to match our new heading. It is already directly back in our path," Ensign Enel reported.

"Still unable to get any sort of detailed readings from the object," Maya added. "Whatever it is, it is moving fast and matching our every move. Collision in 45 seconds."

"Helm!" The Captain's order was interrupted by A'Janni who had anticipated his next words.

"New heading 324 mark 036. This will put us on a completely opposite course to the one we were on, there is no way that they would be able to..."

"The mass is directly ahead of us," Enel reported.

"Collision in 30 seconds," Maya added.

"Helm, drop us out of warp speed," the Captain ordered to which the FCO complied immediately as proven by the streaking stars visible on the main view screen being replaced by the normal starry view. "RED ALERT!"

"The object is still directly ahead of us, matching our every move," the aSec/Tac reported which a growing sense of frustration.

"Why do I have the feeling that this was not the best of time for us to join this party?" Balthier said, witnessing the situation unfold while staying out of everyone's way.

"Captain, the object is heading for us," Maya reported. "Collision in 20 seconds."

"Helm, evasive maneuvers," the Captain ordered, their options quickly dwindling to nothing. The Caitian did everything he could, moving the ship to one side, then the next. Everything he did was pushing the limits of the inertial dampeners causing people to either shift in their seat or scramble to reach for something to hold on to.

"It's no use," the Voth exclaimed. "That thing is too fast, it's matching our every move."

"SOUND COLLISION ALERT!"

Everyone braced as best they could and waited... and waited... and waited.  After several seconds of nothing happening, the Shillian scientist broke the silence with her report. "Neither the shields nor the hull has registered any sort of impact. According to the sensors, something should have collided with us, but nothing did."

"Helm, full stop," Morningstar ordered as he pushed himself out of the center chair. "I want a full system's diagnostic. What this someone playing with us or was it our instruments giving us false readings?"

"According to the diagnostics, all systems are operating either at or above specified parameters," Enel reported. "This was not a sensor malfunction."

"I am very glad to hear that," Balthier said as he breathed a sigh of relief. "Now, if you do not mind, I think I need to return to our quarters for a change of clothes."

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-039: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.1745 ("Moves and Counternoves")
=-=
“Moves and Counternoves”
Previous post: “Cat and Mouse” by Jayson

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Captain's Ready Room
Stardate: 36101.1745

There were lots of questions that needed answers. What was the 'something' they encountered? Where had it originated from? Why did it stay in their path and later rush in to collide with the ship? How did it manage to match their every move with such precision and speed? Why had nothing happened after the collision? Had all of this been real or just an elaborate illusion? If so, what purpose did it serve?

The issue was that they had no answers, only strange theories, and wild guesses. Those were two things that the ILO did not care for in the least. Guesswork had no place in the world of Intel. It was an unspoken rule diligently obeyed by all. That is if they wanted on surviving to see the next day. Knowledge was power, and right now the three officers were feeling rather powerless.

The nervous-looking ExO stood in front of their sitting Captain. The Asian woman was trying very hard not to think about referring to him as 'Iverson' earlier on. Doing so once was embarrassing enough. The last thing she needed was to slip up again, especially while standing in front of him. Morningstar needed his First Officer to be at her very best, and Misaki knew that. All she could do was to carry on with her duties as best she could. "Lt. Cmdr Paquette is performing a complete sensor review. She should have it all done in two hours."

A faint smile from the CO indicated that he knew the CEO would be done before then. That was the pattern of any self-respecting Chief Engineer. To always give a higher estimate than what the work actually required. Knowing that things were well in hand in that regard, the CO moved on to the next matter. "What about the review of the sensor logs?"

Both Mitshiba and Morningstar knew that with Maya on the case, the review would be thorough. What they needed though were answers which would dictate their next course of action. With the HATHOR holding position, they needed those answers quickly. Staying in one place was risky, but rushing ahead into an unknown situation could be disastrous. On the other side, the longer they remained in one place, the greater the risks grew. They had to consider all possibilities and outcomes. The next time, the *thing* might not just vanish before impacting the ship as if it had never been there. "Lt. Gemma, your thoughts?"

The ILO thought for a moment. Her experiences, as well as that of her 'friends', provided a great deal of material to work with. Gemma was not interested in offering speculations, theories, or guesses. She wanted to offer something constructive, something useful.

The first to speak up was the Varro pilot. Dalra had flown almost every type of craft out there. She understood the ins and outs of what ships could and could not do. "Whatever that thing was, it did not obey the laws of momentum. No ship that we are aware of can make the kind of course changes it did at the speed it did.

The words had barely escaped from the pilot's lips when the Uxali scientist appeared. Wimdalli had her own take on the encounter. "Dalra is only looking at the unknown object as being a piloted craft. It would have been some sort of a probe utilizing a propulsion system that we are not aware of. A simple computer program would suffice to have any object behave as we saw.  The sensors did pick up faint traces of dark matter where the craft was seen. Any engine using dark matter could prove to be far more maneuverable than anything we know."

The arrival of the fiery-haired bounty hunter took the Co and ExO by surprise. Neither had expected to see Jinx be part of this discussion. "Forget that! Yes, there might have been dark matter residual traces, but where did the craft go? This was not some new tech. We were made to react to something that was not there. Someone, somewhere was out there, was watching. That is what a good hunter does. Evaluate your prey's capabilities before engaging them. Figure out how they will act and react before you do anything."

The Bounty Hunter gave way to the one persona of the ILO that no one wanted to deal with. The Russian Assassin was not the kind of person you dealt with unless you had no other choice. Anya just stood there; her arms crossed. The expression on her face was not a happy one, which further concerned the CO and ExO. "It was a test, one that we failed."

Mitshiba gathered her courage and asked the question she knew both Morningstar and her had. "Failed? How so?" We are still here, aren't we?"

Anya narrowed her eyes as she turned to look straight as the Asian woman. "Failed in that we showed ourselves to be weak. When confronted by an unknown object in our path, we changed course. When it matched our new heading, we tried to avoid it again. When that didn't work, we dropped out of warp speed and raised shields. When it challenged our defensive posture, we braced for impact.  Each time, we showed ourselves to be less than ready to confront whatever that thing was.  Now, we are performing tests on our equipment, showing that we doubt ourselves and our instruments.  It was a test, and we failed."

As harsh as her words might have been, neither Erik nor Misaki could argue the Assassin's logic. The question now was: what would they do about it?

=-=
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]
M01-040: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36101.1746 ("Null Hypothesis")
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“Null Hypothesis”
Previous post: “Moves and Countermoves” by Rachel

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Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1746

A’Janni’s white tiger face hovered so close beside Zub Enel’s while he stared at the Security console that his white mane tickled the scaly aSec/Tac’s cheek. “No,” the big cat man rumbled, “you’re right. No one else is onboard but us. Have the internal Security sweeps covered the whole ship?”

“One hundred percent. I have scanned multiple times. I would say nothing came aboard after whatever it was faux-collided with us.”

The felinoid Caitian moved back to his Flight Control station, his white eye unfocused from deep thought. “Was something attached to the hull?”

Zub Enel bent to his Security console. He checked the logs and current readouts of the bio-regenerative hull matrix. He checked the log and readouts of the ablative armor generators. He didn’t want to say the ship’s systems out loud for fear of it being picked up by the giant, prying rabbit ears of the winsome Viera female named Fran. The massive Voth Security officer shook his crested head at the Flight Control Officer. “There is nothing there now that was not there before the ‘attack.’”

The hulking cat man drummed his claws on the Flight console. “Nacelles?”

After another careful check, Zub crossed his thick arms over his chest. “No. Besides, I suspect Cmdr Paquette can literally feel anything foreign lodging itself in one of her engines.”

“Yes,” A’Janni said with a crooked smile. “I suspect we would have heard loud and clear from our chief engineer by now.” His eye enlarged. He flattened his fuzzy ears.

“Hmm,” Zub Enel responded as he tried to parse where else something would have come aboard from the strangely agile and now long vanished ship.

A’Janni tugged at his long facial whiskers and looked equally lost in concentration. “Is anything missing? Maybe it grabbed something and winked out of existence.”

“A complete inventory would take quite a bit of time,” the aSec/Tac warned. “Even on a ship as small as the HATHOR.”

“Oh,” A’Janni said dramatically as he thrust his large paw-hands over his head like he was surrendering. “Never mind if you’re too busy at the moment - while we sit here - dead in space - command staff in conference.”

Zub Enel gave him a wink. “Computer, scan the HATHOR for any missing components.”

=/\= That request has already been initiated by Lt. Commander Sonja Paquette. =/\=

The Voth raise his three-fingered hands over his head in surrender as he mimicked the FCO’s raised paw-hands. A’Janni chuckled and wrapped his muscular arms around his barrel of a chest. His face grew thoughtful again.

Zub Enel played back the Tactical log of the entire encounter with the impossibly maneuverable and ultimately vanishing ship. A’Janni’s furry face again drew up next to the Voth’s. “Did it scan us?”

The aSec/Tac tapped at his console. “Yes.”

“Ah ha!” the Caitian said as if he had discovered something of great significance. 

Zub Enel frowned slightly. “Nothing unusual. Ordinary scans for determining range, speed and heading. Similar to what we were doing to it.”

“What was the vessel’s mass?”

 Zub Enel sighed. “It was extremely difficult to get any solid scans. It could have been our size. Could have been 10 times our size. When it comes to firepower and maneuverability, size does not matter.”

The mention of size made A’Janni look over his shoulder for the comely rabbit-eared Viera. Even though she wasn’t on the Bridge, he knew she stood about his height, though more slender and certainly curvier. “She’s big for a girl her size but quick,” he heard himself say.

Zub looked behind him as he tried to parse what the cat man was talking about. “You have lost me. Are you referring to the craft that rammed us?”

A’Janni looked at Zub. His one white eye was dilated with excitement. “I was not.” His pupil shrank quickly to its usual dark dot. “I’d love to fly a ship that maneuverable.”

The aSec/Tac looked confused, “Are you not speaking metaphorically about a certain someone aboard?”

A’Janni stabbed an open paw toward the Security console that still played back the ship encounter on a loop. “No! *That* ship. I’d love to fly that!”

Zub Enel flattened a palm over his forehead just above his brow ridge. He shook his head slowly. “You were maneuvering hard against that ship, so much so that the action was throwing us around. The inertial dampers could not keep up. That alien ship still was quicker in its turns, faster in its acceleration. It easily outflew us despite your formidable piloting skills. Imagine what all that inertia would do to you if you were actually in it maneuvering as fast as it was.”

The FCO smiled in ecstasy. “Yes. What inertia!” His face sobered. “Maybe it uses better inertial dampening.”

“Or has no crew.”

A’Janni brought his paw-hands up to cover his mouth as if stifling a scream. His eye narrowed. His furry eyebrow arched. “There’s a thought. Do you know what a Jedi Mind Trick is?”

The Voth shook his crested head. 

“Me neither,” the Caitian admitted. “Still, what if something made us *think* we saw something? Someone aboard? Someone we know almost nothing about?”

“How would an imaginary ship register on our logs and sensors?”

The immense cat man stood. “Maybe the deception is still ongoing. We simply think it is on the logs and sensors, but we’re being actively fooled!”

The aSec/Tac let his doubt show plainly. “Imagining that none of this is happening leads to madness.”

“Too late!” A’Janni said with a goofy grin. He turned like he was headed off the Bridge. “I’ll just see what our guests are up to.”

Zub pointed to the Security console and said, “Balthier and Fran are in the mess hall talking.” 

“Oh,” the FCO said with a note of disappointment.  He returned to the Helm.

Zub frowned. Even though the HATHOR had secured from Red Alert and space in every measurable direction and distance seemed occupied by only the most ordinary of vessels, Zub wondered if his felinoid friend was getting too distracted by their beautiful, long-eared guest.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Ensign Zub Enel
Security/Tactical
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“The characteristic of scientific progress is our knowing that we did not know.”  
- Gaston Bachelard 
M01-041: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36101.1747 ("Brace for Nothing")
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“Brace for Nothing”
Previous posts: "Null Hypothesis" by David
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Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.1747

The moment the collision alarm sounded through the ship, Sofia prepared herself for the nightmare that was to come. The HATHOR was about to hit something or something was about to hit the HATHOR, either way, it meant trouble on the largest possible scale for the crew. The physical damage would be extensive, but it would pale in comparison to the injuries and loss of life that came along with such a devastating event.

Getting from where she was to where she needed to be would be made countless times more difficult thanks to whatever debris would now be littering the corridors, and that was if she was able to actually reach her destination. In the event of a hull breach, forcefields would automatically activate to establish a barrier between the rest of the ship and the vacuum of space. Of course, this meant that anyone on the other side of those energy barriers would be condemned to death if they had not already succumbed to their injuries of the cold emptiness of the cosmos.

Even after the alarm stopped, the CMO stood at the ready with her medkit firmly in hand. Each time she pushed away one of the nightmarish scenes that crept in her mind, another immediately took its place, fueled by her time in Paris following the devastation brought upon by the Neo-Essentialists. It was true that the HATHOR was nowhere close to the size of the once world-renowned capital, but the loss of a single of the officers she had worked with for a while now would hit her with even more force than what had destroyed the city.

"It's okay, Sofia," Nic said as she gently took the medkit from the physician's hand. "All is well. Nothing hit us."

Although the Doctor was more than happy to hear this news, she found herself frozen in place, the images of the Paris aftermath still haunting her. "So much destruction... so much death," Andersson muttered making Dima quickly realize that she was not speaking about the HATHOR. With multiple lifetimes of experiences, and as a trained Counselor, it did not take long for the joint Trill to understand what the stunned-looking woman was referring to.  Without saying a word, Nicole led Sofia to the only bed in the room and guided her to sit.

"You are here, on the HATHOR, and everyone is safe, you have nothing to worry about." Nicole's voice was soft, gentle, and caring. If it had been anyone else, the reaction might not have been as quick as it was with Sofia, but in this case, it was more than enough to have the blonde-haired physician turn her head and smile.

"I'm so sorry," Sofia said, but the rest of her apology was muted as a single finger from the joint Trill was placed against the Terran's lips.

"You have nothing to be sorry for," Nicole reassured. "You were thinking of Paris, weren't you?"

"Yes," Andersson admitted. "Was it that obvious?"

"Only to someone who knows you," Dima clarified. "This is not the first time that you have said those words, although usually, it is when you are asleep and having a nightmare. It is very understandable that what happened to Paris affected you as much as it did."

"Will I ever stop thinking about it?" The physician asked in a hopeful tone.

The answer came in the form of a silent, slow shake of the Counselor's head. "I am not going to list the reasons why, mainly because you know them better than I do.  What I can tell you though is that it does get easier over time and that you are not alone in having to face those nightmares."

"Thank you," Sofia said before pressing her lips against those of the woman who had proven herself to be far more than a shipmate, a friend, or a lover. The embrace lasted for several delightful seconds before it came to an end. "If the ship and crew are safe, what's next?"

"Captain Morningstar, Commander Mitshiba, and Lt. Gemma are trying to figure that as we speak," Nicole stated.

Andersson chuckled. "Well, if Gemma has any say in it, we are either going to rush in at maximum warp speed or figure out a way to destroy the whole of the ARGALIS CLUSTER."

Dima laughed. "Yes, Gemma is not the type to do anything at half-measure, that no matter which of her personality is in control."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

Lieutenant JG Sofia Andersson [Access Character BIO for Sofia Andersson]
Chief Medical Officer
USS BASTET

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-042: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.1800 ("Back on Track")
“Back on Track”
Previous post: “Brace for Nothing” by Tiffany

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Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1800

During the meeting, Gemma made her views crystal clear, and the more the Asian ExO thought about the events leading to their current situation, the more she had to agree with the ILO. Not only had the HATHOR and its crew been tested, but they had failed, showing themselves to be unwilling to fight in a region of space that appeared to favor shows of strength.  Just looking at the Grogg was enough to prove that point.

An atmosphere of anticipation greeted the three officers as they returned to the command deck. It was easy to see that everyone was anxious to see what they would do next. Aki stood at the back of the bridge as Captain Morningstar and Lt. Gemma took their seats.

"Helm, resume course for GORLAPOLIS," the Asian ExO paused for a few seconds as if her next words would be some sort of great surprise. "Warp 6."

"Warp 6?" Ensign Enel questioned. "At that speed, we will reach the planet in just under two hours."

"That's the idea," Gemma noted from the Operations station.

"I thought we did not want to show our guest the full extent of what the HATHOR can do," The Voth politely offered as a counterargument.

"We are taking a more *aggressive* stance from now own," the Captain added before focusing his attention on the Caitian FCO. "Engage!"

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1900

The HATHOR would remain on yellow alert for the duration of their journey to GORLAPOLIS, the Captain not wanting to take any chances should another unexpected test was to cross their path. With a little less than an hour left, Balthier and Fran were summoned to the bridge.  It was a pleasant surprise to see Lt. Ya'Han escort their guests, showing that the Sec/Tac was literally back on her feet.

"Love what you did with the new lighting," the debonair pirate said referring to the flashing yellow lights over the console all around the bridge.

"What can you tell us about this GORLAPOLIS?" The ILO asked, Gemma always ready to obtain new information.

"Are we not still five or so hours away?" Balthier inquired.

"We will be in orbit in 55 minutes," A'Janni replied, enjoying putting the man in his place while at the same time hoping that he had impressed the Viera even if just a little.

"Well then," Balthier said without missing a beat. "Look like this ship has a few surprises in store. That's a good thing because I can assure you that there are a lot of surprises out there waiting for us.  As for GORLAPOLIS, what would you like to know?"

"You could start by telling us the kind of environment we can expect," Maya said, the Chief Science Officer hoping to avoid the kind of surprises they ended up encountering while on the surface of their previous stop.

"GORLAPOLIS is, in short, a paradise," Balthier said. "Tall trees, flowing rivers, gorgeous flowers, that world has something for everyone."

"Sounds like an odd location for smugglers and crooks," Ambassador Bonviva noted. "Too, nice and welcoming. Some might even say that it is too *soft* for people who live their lives on the edge."

Fran chuckled. "It is because it is not a place for 'smugglers and crooks', it is a place of worship."

"Worship?" Gemma sighed.

"The entire planet was dedicated to those who needed a place to become closer to their beliefs," Balthier explained. "Temples for every known faith can be found on GORLAPOLIS and those who call these places home will defend them with might that some would call comes from a divine origin."

"I thought we were going there to get information on the 'ghost ship'?" Ya'Han asked, the Sec/Tac now curious if their plan had somehow changed.

"We are," Balthier confirmed. "Following a faith does not mean that one forgoes knowledge. In fact, the opposite could be said. I have a few... acquaintances on GORLAPOLIS who might be able to provide us with a great deal of information.

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Main Engineering
Stardate: 36101.1920

News as to the unique nature of GORLAPOLIS spread through the HATHOR, leading many to discuss what they might encounter once there.

"So what do you think?" Adriana asked of Sonja.

"Don't expect me to bow, kneel or sing at any of the altars that we might run into," the Chief Engineer scuffed. "Once you have seen a 'one-eyed, one-horned, flyin' purple people eater' you have seen them all. People have elevated the strangest things and creatures to the rank of deity. All it proves is that they are in desperate need of help, and I am not referring to the type of divine intervention."

"Religious beliefs can be a source of strength," Adriana countered. "Just look at the Klingons or that Bajorans. Their faith defines them as a people and gives them not only strength but purpose."

"I am not having this discussion," Sonja said dismissing Adriana. "The only religion I believe in is that of the great cosmic pulsating forces contained in there," the CEO said pointing to the warp core.  It provides us with tremendous power which allows us to breathe, eat and even clothe ourselves. It permits us to travel through space at unimaginable speeds, and should it become angry, it can destroy us like that," she said snapping her fingers.  "As I said, people can and have elevated pretty much anything to the level of an all-powerful entity. If it gives them a sense of purpose, good for them. I for one do not need to know about their beliefs, nor do I wish to have to deal with whatever weird ritual they have come up with to justify and encourage their doubts."

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Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36101.1925

With Ya'Han back on her feet, the one bed in Sickbay was once again free, allowing the CMO to sit on it with her legs crossed as she read a PADD. "Balthier was kind enough to provide a list of some of the faiths that are on GORLAPOLIS. The list is huge."

"Not as large as some of the temples," Dima added. " According to the data Maya has been able to obtain by using the long-range sensors, some of the structures are actually visible from orbit. Just having a single faith on a planet can be difficult, and the history of many worlds as seem conflicts arise because of differences in beliefs, but on GORLAPOLIS, there are hundreds of different beliefs all cohabitating one net to each other. It's amazing."

"Cohabitating does not mean that there are no conflicts," Adriana pointed out. "My guess is that they all stay within the limits of their little plot of land, avoiding everyone else as much as possible. That way, no one gets offended by someone's opposing views and beliefs.  Just imagine two warring beliefs, say the Klingons and Nausicaan, set up one next to the other. There would be war between them, each trying to earn their place in the afterlife."

"I agree," Xana said as she joined the Junior Ambassador and Doctor. "Even with each of these beliefs being isolated from others, there is still a risk of conflict, and I am afraid that our arrival may be used to some of these opposing views to come out into the open.

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-043: USS HATHOR: A'Janni/Lopez: 36101.1955 ("Looking Down")
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"Looking Down"
Previous post: "Back on Track" by Dawn

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Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.1955

The planet GORLAPOLIS filled the HATHOR's forward view screen, its luscious greenery was easily visible from orbit, as well as several buildings which eerily pierced through not only the abundant forest but the clouds as well. The imposing size of those structures impressed the Caitian but not nearly as much as they concerned him.

"I don't know about any of you, but this planet is making me nervous," A'Janni admitted aloud.

"Why is that?" Misaki asked.

"I have dealt with religious zealots in the past, and it is my experience that the larger the building where they worship is, the more radical the followers are," the FCO explained. "It is their way to show they don't care about what others think, this is the way they are and everyone else has to deal with it, or be crushed under it."

"There should not be anything for any of us to be concerned about," Adriana said as she walked onto the bridge along with Xana. "After all, this is a 'planet of shepherds'," the CNS added.

"Shepherds?" Zub asked, his scales fluttering ever so slightly hinting that word had triggered some sort of involuntary reaction in the Voth.

"What?" The ExO questioned, her almond eyes narrowed even tighter as she looked at the Junior Ambassador.

"I think they want to know how you came to referring to GORLAPOLIS as a 'planet of shepherds'," the Bolian/Human Ambassador said, casting a playful grin in the direction of her Junior assistant. "Inquiring minds want to know."

"Following what Balthier told us about our destination, I decided to do a little bit of research. The name of the planet struck me as odd, so I wanted to see if I could figure out if it meant something more. Using linguistic analysis, I was able to identify a few interesting things about the planet's designation," Adriana said, tugging down on her shirt. "Polis is Greek for 'a city' of significance, a terminology that is strangely found in several other languages throughout the galaxy. It is as if the Greeks learned it from another ancient race, but that's for another discussion. Depending on which language you believe the word originated from, polis can refer to a large city or location where people gather. Garlo, again depending on which language you chose to link it to, can stand for a watcher, keeper, or protector of a group or flock. Hense, my referring to GORLAPOLIS as 'the planet of shepherds'," Lopez explained, the Hispanic woman appearing rather pleased with herself after having used her alien linguistics studies to good use.

"As interesting as that linguistic explanation was, I will admit that it does not make me feel any better," A'Janni said. "A religious zealot by any other name is still just as dangerous. Extremists are rarely the type that ends up creating something that truly benefits the masses. They tend to be more the ones that end up destroying things."

As much as Adriana wanted to argue against A'Janni's perception, the thoughts of the Junior Ambassador went to the HATHOR's CMO and her personal experiences with an extremist group which led to the destruction of the city of Paris back on EARTH. With that thought in mind, Lopez decided to let the Caitian hold on to his views unchallenged.

"Mr. Balthier," Captain Morningstar called out to their guest. "Where will we be able to find your friend?"

"He is certainly not hiding... I mean worshiping in one of the larger temples," the pirate announced causing A'Janni to softly growl as he rolled his eyes.  "Scan the structures for this symbol," he added as he traced a glyph of some sort to the Shillian scientist.

"The search is not going to be easy thanks to all those trees," Maya said. "Doing a visual scan of the buildings found beneath the canopy will take some time and may require the ship to be on a lower orbit."

"Sorry about that," Balthier said. "I would suggest that you focus your search on the equatorial region of the planet, at least that will reduce the area that you will need to search."

The Asian woman sighed, realizing that this would not be as simple as they had been initially led to believe. "Lt. A'Janni, bring the ship in closer to the planet following an equatorial orbit.  Lt. Gemma, please assist Commander Maya in searching for that symbol.

"Aye, aye," the Caitian acknowledged in a distinctly unimpressed tone. The HATHOR was small enough to make such a maneuver an easy one, but bringing the ship into such a lower orbit would greatly reduce their maneuverability should something come to cross their path, like last time. Hopefully, if it happened this time, the ship and crew would not try to run but rather engage whatever would stand in their way. In the meantime, the FCO needed to focus on flying the ship
while Maya and Gemma figured out where Balthier's 'friend' was hiding.

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

and

Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-044: USS HATHOR: Maya: 36101.2025 ("Busy Little Planet")
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"Busy Little Planet"
(Previous Post: "Looking Down")
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Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.2025

With the USS HATHOR in a low orbit of GORLAPOLIS, the sensors were able to gather quite a bit of information on every aspect of life on the planet.  Nearly 80 percent of the landmass was covered by a thick, ancient forest with many trees being several centuries old, this was based on the observations of the Chief Science Officer as to their size, branch, and root system. The rest of the planet was covered with minor mountain ranges, small oceans, lakes, and rivers, all of which served to sustain a varied and diverse planetary ecosystem.

The difficult part for Maya was to focus on her search for the sigil provided by Balthier, a task that was challenging in its own way thanks to the obstruction provided by the same trees the Shillian scientist had grown to increasingly admire. She could spend a lifetime researching the abundant flora and fauna life on this planet and not even scratch the surface. How many strange and unexpected creatures would she discover if she could? Alas, this was not their mission nor the reason for them being here.  The computer system of the HATHOR was not designed for this kind of research, and the sensors were far from those aboard the ANUBIS.

With a twinge of sadness, the Chief Science Officer reminded herself once again that for the time being, they needed to focus on locating one particular temple and hopefully find the acquaintance Balthier had brought them here to see.

"There are a lot of smaller buildings completely hidden by those damn trees," Gemma grumbled, the Intel Operative clearly not sharing the admiration the scientist felt. "Even with us being in such a low orbit and focusing our sensors as close to the planet's horizon as possible, we can't see enough of the buildings to find what we are looking for." The Intelligence Liaison Officer paused, her gaze slowly falling upon Balthier. "We need more information."

"I am truly sorry," the elegant pirate said. "I have told you all that I could. The symbol is meant to identify where my friend can be found, and I know that the temple is located along the equatorial region of this planet."

"Some friend," Gemma growled. "You would think that you would be better aware of his whereabouts."

"Well, 'friend' is a polite way of saying that we have had dealings in the past."

"Sorry to interrupt," Maya said. "Sensors are picking up a strange energy signature from the planet surface. It appears to be emanating from one of the smaller structures located along our search area. So far, every building we have scanned has displayed some sort of limited power output, but this one is registering through the whole spectrum. We are picking up signs of fusion, matter/antimatter, quantum, and even gravitational singularity just to name a few."

"Either they are using a multi-processing source of power or they have miniature warp-core technology from various other races. The gravitational singularity is very reminiscent of the Romulans and their use of a miniature singularity to power their ships," Gemma detailed.

"Looks like that could be a good place for us to start looking," Commander Mitshiba noted.

"My apologies," the Shillian continued, "but it might not be that easy. Sensors are also picking up a small dampening field around another structure which stands 2.3 kilometres from the first. This second structure is also too heavily camouflaged by the foliage for us to be able to see any sort of markings on it."

"What kind of worshipers use a dampening field around their temple?" Misaki inquired.

"The kind that are either hiding something or themselves from wandering eyes," the Intel Operative noted with a certitude that made everyone understand that she had dealt with a similar situation at some point in her past.

"Two possible locations," Captain Morningstar announced as he looked over his shoulder at his First Officer.

"Looks like we are going to be splitting into teams once again," Misaki said with a grin.

"I would caution everyone to be especially careful, no matter which location they will be heading for," Maya said. "It is evident that GORLAPOLIS, or this 'planet of shepherds' is more than it appears to be."

The Voth visibly shuttered at the sound of the word 'shepherd' but Zub Enel kept his composure, keeping the reason for this to himself for the time being.

---
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)

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