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
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
Post # Character Title
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
045 Enel Pasta La Vista
Zub is concerned about one particular faith
046 Mitshiba Feeling the Heat
Beta Team runs into some trouble
047 Ya'Han/Maya The Scales of Worship
Alpha Team encounter something unexpected
048 Andersson Breaking and Entering
Sofia is concerned about what Beta team is doing
049 Andersson/Enel There and Gone
Sofia and Zub find themselves elsewhere
050 Gemma Outside Interference
It's Gemma's turn to find herself elsewhere
051 Lopez Bigger Issues
The team encounters a ghost
052 Ya'Han Spectral Encounter
Ya'Han has a close encounter with the 'ghost'
053 Enel Loose Cannon
The team is on edge
054 Gemma Numerous Options
Gemma finds herself in an portal room
055 Maya Not So Ghostly Ghosts
The ghost turns out to be more complex
056 Enel Ears
The two teams regroup
057 Andersson Safer Together
The away teams return to the HATHOR
058 Gemma Tactical Reset
The HATHOR encounters a dark cloud
059 Morningstar Shadow and Light
An unknown ship rescues the HATHOR
060 Mitshiba A Terrying Wonder
The crew gasps at the appearance of the ARCADIA
061 Enel Gorilla
Zub and A'Janni argue
062 Gemma Timely Intervention
Gemma sets the record straight
063 Ya'Han/A'Janni Delayed Reaction
Crew reacts to the ARCADIA before following it
064 Andersson A New Level of Weird
Sofia and Nic discuss the ARCADIA
065 Gemma Inner Voices
Gemma analyses the situation from multiple POV
066 Morningstar Overdue Explanation
Cpt Robert Antares explains the situation
067 Mitshiba Discussion
The bridge officers debate their options
068 Enel Preemption
Fran suffers from side effects after the blink
069 Andersson A Close Call
Sofia and Nic discuss Fran's influence
070 Paquette More Unexpected Dev...
Sonja admires the ARCADIA
071 Lopez Between a Rock and...
Adriana voices her objections
072 Gemma Nervous Landing
Gemma struggles with her inner self
073 Enel Unfazed
The crew disembarks the HATHOR
074 Morningstar
/Mitshiba
Darker Times
After being shot at, an agreement is reached
075 A'Janni Furry Fury
A'Janni is ready to pounce to save Fran
076 Ya'Han/Lopez Trust Issues
Ya'Han and Adriana discuss Mordana
077 Gemma/Enel Sweet Distraction
Zub and Gemma explore the pirate base
078 Gemma/Enel A Moment
Zub and Gemma, as Seksa share a tender moment
079 Lopez Nothing to be Cheerful...
The crew discusses the situation. Zub is injured
080 Ya'Han Shadows of the Past
Ya'Han recalls how Mordana died
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

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

&

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

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
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 [Access Character BIO for Maya]
Chief Science Officer
USS ANUBIS

&

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

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
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")
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“Questions Aplenty”
Previous post: “Safe and Sound” by Tiffany and Hanali

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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")
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“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")
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“Cat and Mouse”
Previous post: “Slow and Steady” by Dawn

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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")
=-=
“Null Hypothesis”
Previous post: “Moves and Countermoves” by Rachel

=-=
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

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
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")
=-=
“Brace for Nothing”
Previous posts: "Null Hypothesis" by David
=-=

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

=-=
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."

=-=
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")
=-=
"Looking Down"
Previous post: "Back on Track" by Dawn

=-=
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")
---
"Busy Little Planet"
(Previous Post: "Looking Down")
---

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

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

&

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

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M01-045: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36101.2030 ("Pasta La Vista")
=-=
“Pasta La Vista”
Previous post: “Busy Little Planet” by Jessica 

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36101.2030

Lt. Ya’Han, her waist length hair speckled with black and red strands, stepped beside the Tactical console so the assistant Sec/Tac could see her. She said in a friendly tone to the scaly Voth, “Thank you, Ensign Enel. I’m relieving you. I want to analyze this planet’s defenses.” 

Her large black eyes followed him as he rose to his full 7-foot height. He said, “Since Lt. A’Janni is skimming the GORLAPOLISIAN treetops, I have been scanning for hand thrown weapons like spears.” 

The main viewer showed the HATHOR was still in low orbit over the verdant planet. Nonetheless, the Caitian Flight Officer, like a hulking white tiger with one remaining eye, exclaimed, “Spears? *That’s* what that clunking sound is!”

Ya’Han’s beautiful face turned serious. She said, “One has to wonder how a planet of religious sects packed cheek to jowl can keep the peace among themselves. This ‘shepherd’s planet’ is also surrounded by space filled with opportunists, pirates and other, shall we say, ‘wolves.’”

The lofty Voth pinched up his scaly face. When he didn’t answer, A’Janni offered, “There might be one heck of a protection racket going on.”

“Very good thought. There just might be,” the Nylaan said as she settled into the Tactical station and focused on the console.

The big tiger of a helmsman gave Enel a smug grin. His one white eye narrowed. He added, “The shepherds on the Shepherd’s Planet are considered shepherd’s shepherds, the way shepherds go.” His grin was wide enough to show sharp teeth.

Zub didn’t smile in spite of knowing A’Janni was teasing. The fine down between his scales rose and did a sailor’s jig. He turned to leave the Bridge. 

The Junior Ambassador Adriana Lopez and Ambassador Xana Bonviva were standing at the back. Both lightly caught his arms as he went to pass between them. They pulled him gently to a stop. 

Lopez, her Hispanic features genuinely curious, said up to him, “I don’t know you well. I do know that when you get all fluffy, that means you’re upset. So, I can see that in your own way it upsets you when you hear the word ‘shepherd.’”

Bonviva, her periwinkle face framed by shoulder length sliver hair, regarded him with steady violet eyes. “Considering that we are going down to a planet with so many shepherds that ’shepherd’ is in its name, I’d like to know if you have issues with shepherds or their flocks.”

Both women had angled their bodies inward so that they hemmed in Zub Enel. They looked up at him expectantly. He felt the down rise and stir again between his scales. Their combined gaze hardened with conviction.

He raised his three-fingered hands palm out toward the pair of ambassadors. “I assure you that it is not my intention to cause a diplomatic incident.”

Xana crossed long, light blue arms over her curvy chest. “Famous last words.” 

Adriana asked him gently, “Are you afraid of meeting followers of the Voth traditional AD or DOT systems of belief?”

Ambassador Bonviva gave a crooked smile to her junior ambassador, “Hail, O Obtuse One.” 

The tall saurian Voth took over. He said to Xana, “She means believers of the Voth Ancient Doctrine versus the Distant Origin Theory. Ambassador Lopez, it is very astute of you to guess that is my issue.”

The Hispanic woman smiled broadly. “I have studied a great many races, even those in the Delta Quadrant.”

Xana cut in, “Don’t let his praise distract you from the question, Adriana.” She looked up at the Voth aSec/Tac. “Is she right? Something about ADs and DOTs and shepherds upsets you?”

The big Voth raised his muscular shoulders into a shrug and held it for a moment. “The proponents of the Ancient Doctrine deliberately retarded the technological and medical advancement of Voth civilization for millennia. They believed we originated in the Delta Quadrant millions of years ago and became the dominant race because of our supposed natural superiority. They felt they needed to shepherd us closely as a people to keep us safe for technologies and any other advancements that would dilute and thus weaken our race. 

“After Voth transwarp was finally invented and Voth society had contact with many more alien races, the ensuing analysis of our bodies and DNA indicated our race’s actual origination had been on EARTH 20 million years ago. Our ancient, highly evolved Hadrosaur forbearers had forsaken EARTH before the meteor strike that extinguished all Dinosauric life. This spacefaring diaspora somehow made it to the Delta Quadrant. EARTH as our origin became the Distant Origin Theory.”

Bonviva nodded her understanding. “I assume both camps had fervent believers. Wars followed.”

The big scaly male nodded, his face tense.

Adriana Lopez said, “You fear there are proponents for both Voth beliefs down there who will force you to choose.”

Xana Bonviva added, “No matter what you chose, one side or the other will hate you.”

“On pain of death, maybe,” the Voth finished. “The ADers will want to shepherd me back into the fold. The DOTs will want me to be a shining example of membership in the expansive galactic citizenry.”

Both women were silent, their faces lit with new understanding. 

“There’s a solution to that,” A’Janni called from Flight Control. His keen hearing had obviously allowed him to eavesdrop. The ambassadors and Zub Enel looked at the furry Caitian. He said with a toothy grin to the Voth, “Tell them you’re the founder of a third Voth religion and *you* are looking for converts! Didn’t EARTH have an alternative religion to Christianity and Satanism called the Macarena?”

Adriana chuckled. “Are you referring to the Pastafarians?”

A’Janni waggled his clawed finger in assent. “That’s the name! Zub, just wave goodbye to the ADs and DOTs and say ‘Pasta la vista.’” He smiled as he returned his attention to the Helm.

Xana looked at Enel with deep skepticism. “Perhaps, if such a situation occurs, a more politic approach is for you to act as though you had never been exposed to these beliefs and you are genuinely interested in learning about both religious views before you make up your mind.”

It was Zub Enel’s turn to look skeptical. “The Ancient Doctrine adherents had camps for non-believers. The non-believers were locked away, sometimes for years, to be ‘reeducated’ until they did believe. What if a group of ADers jumps me and starts a reeducation?”

Bonviva flashed a disarming smile at the better than 2-meter-tall reptilian. “Successfully capturing *you* would take monumental doing. Besides, Captain Morningstar did agree we need to take a more aggressive posture in this area.”

Lopez smiled too. “Don’t worry. If they get you, we’ll jailbreak you.”

Zub Enel scowled. He admitted, “I do not care where my genes come from. My race’s origin has no bearing on my duty to protect the crew. I will tell them that, but I fear it will not change any minds.” He sighed.

Adriana arched a dark eyebrow. “The odds of you running into any AD or DOT believers are minimal since we will be far from covering the whole planet.”

Xana said with a cheeky smile, “Then again, with my connections, I might be able to arrange such a meeting, if that's what you wish.”

“I will let you know,” the Ensign replied solemnly.

To end this well-meant intervention on the Bridge, he willed his downy feathers to stop fluttering. “Thank you,” he said. “You both have given me much to think about.” The ambassadors brightened and parted to let him through.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Too many leaders act as if the sheep... their people... are there for the benefit of the shepherd, not that the shepherd has responsibility for the sheep.”
- Ken Blanchard
M01-046: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36101.2100 ("Feeling the Heat")
“Feeling the Heat”
Previous post: “Pasta La Vista” by David

=-=
Setting: GORLAPOLIS, over-powered temple
Stardate: 36101.2100

With the same idea that was implemented back on their first stop, the crew of the HATHOR split up into teams in order to cover as much investigative ground as possible in the shortest possible time frame. Aki took charge of the Beta team which was tasked with the investigation of the temple from which the numerous power signatures had been detected. Although the Asian Commander was the one officially in charge, it was Lt. Gemma who physically led the team closely followed by an ever-vigilant Ensign Enel. The two officers seemed to be expecting trouble based on the way they stood at the ready for a fight.

"The energy output from that temple makes it very difficult to get any sort of life-sign readings from inside," Gemma announced in a half-whispered tone as she glanced down at her tricorder.

"That might be part of the idea," Zub offered, matching the ILO's tone. "If they did not have access to some sort of dampening field generator, using all of these different power cores would help them shield whatever they are doing inside."

"It's not that simple," the Chief Engineer jumped in with, Sonja paying very close attention to the data being displayed on her tricorder. "The energy generated by those cores *has* to go somewhere. You can't run a core without channeling the energy to something, and according to these readings, there is enough power being generated to run a Galaxy-Class starship."

"The building is less than a quarter of that size," Enel noted. "At least the part that we are seeing."

"What would a religious group want or need that much power for?" Counselor Dima asked with audible concern.

"Faith is often nothing more than a facade," the Viera said. After a few seconds, Fran's ears began to fold to either side of her head, an unconscious reaction to something that was happening.

"Maybe they have a need for an industrial-strength cooling system," Sofia suggested as she gently wiped the sweat from her forehead. "It's pretty hot out here," she added, slowly realizing that she was starting to have some difficulty breathing.

"The higher temperature is likely because we are on the planet's equatorial region," Aki offered, taking advantage of being able to act like a scientist for that brief moment. "Most planets possessing a somewhat vertical rotational axis tend to have much higher temperatures at their equators due to the higher concentration of solar energy."

"Maybe so," Sonja sighed, "but I don't think this is the case here. I am detecting a power spike from the temple, one that is matching the sudden increase in ambient temperature. It would seem that some of that energy being generated by the multiple cores is being turned into heat."

Gemma and Zub took a moment to look at the others, neither one of them feeling any effects in regards to the mentioned rise in heat. Although they did not feel anything at the moment, it was evident that this sudden spike in the temperature was affecting everyone else. The ILO quickly concluded that the Voth's reptilian physiology was responsible for his being able to ward off the effects of the rapidly mounting heat. As for herself, the explanation was simply the ability of her nanites to allow her to immediately adapt to her environment.

Seeing Aki and the others being incapacitated by the mounting heat, Gemma quickly motioned for everyone to withdraw which some were only able to do thanks to the assistance of the ILO or aSec/Tac.  Despite their efforts to move away though, the heat continued to rise, so much so that now even Zub Enel was starting to show signs of discomfort.

"We might not be able to outrun this heatwave," the Voth noted to the ILO.

Gemma agreed with a nod of her head and reached for her communicator to request an emergency beam out. Just as she tapped the device on her sheet though, the heat dissipated allowing the temperature to return to a more normal level.

"What happened?" Aki asked, glad that she could once again breathe.

"We might have triggered some sort of defense mechanism," Zub theorized.

"That doesn't make sense," the ILO countered. "If this was some sort of defense mechanism, it is too weak. It only managed to push us back a few dozen meters at most."

"Not every defense system has to be lethal you know," Doctor Andersson said, sounding rather thankful that it was not.

"Gemma is right," Sonja added. "I mean I also agree that all defense systems don't need to be lethal, but in this case, the way the heat was generated doesn't make sense. It was more like a venting of some sort."

"Their way of controlling the excess reaction of all those cores?" Aki offered as a possible explanation, one that the CEO visibly agreed with.

"Well, if this is not a defense mechanism, maybe we should get inside the temple before another heatwave is released," the aSec/Tac suggested.

The Asian Commander scanned the members of the team, making sure that everyone was able to continue with their mission. Although some appeared less than thrilled with the idea of pressing forward, everyone stood ready to follow whichever way Aki would head to.

"Lt. Gemma, Ensign Enel, take us into that temple."

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-047: USS HATHOR: Ya'Han/Maya: 36101.2100 ("The Scales of Worship")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“The Scales of Worship”
Previous posts: "Feeling the Heat” by Dawn
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, Near shielded temple
Stardate: 36101.2100

The forest was thick, hindering their ability to easily approach but also providing ample cover for the away team to remain undetected. Then again, that was not much of an issue as no one appeared to be anywhere near the structure. No guards, no worshipers, not even a single errant visitor.

While the Captain was debating as to their next course of action, the Sec/Tac studied the structure that stood a little less than 100 meters from their location.  The temple was not as large or elaborate as those the Nylaan had visited when she still was the daughter of the High Sovereign, but there was no questioning the purpose of the building. The decorations clearly identified it as a place of worship although Ya'Han could not identify the specific belief based on the markings she could see. The only symbol the fiery red-haired woman could recognize was the one Balthier had drawn back on the HATHOR, a mark that identified that building as the place they needed to reach.

"You would think that a temple would be bustling with activity," Adriana whispered as she came to kneel next to Ya'Han, the two of them studying the parameter around the building. "There is not a single soul outside, not even a monk or priest searching for a peaceful becoming one with nature."

"They are all inside performing some sort of gruesome blood ritual so they can offer whatever entrails they will pull out to their all-powerful underworld supreme deity," Captain Morningstar said in a tone of seriousness that surprised everyone around him.

"Unlikely," Xana said without missing a beat. "Blood rituals of that sort are usually performed in the light of a full moon, or moons, or during some rare planetary alignment. According to the HATHOR's sensors when we entered orbit, neither one of those things was taking place, so if there is any sort of bloody ritual taking place, it is likely nothing more than a basic sacrifice and blood-draining."  A visible shiver swept over the Caitian's fur as his ears became glued to his head. The images proposed by the Captain and Ambassador had managed, with an impressive amount of success, to trouble the FCO down to his very core. "Is there a problem Lieutenant?" Bonviva teased.

"No problem," A'Janni said. "Other than the overactive imagination of some."

Adriana laughed. "By some, do you mean 'theirs' or 'yours'?"

"My tricorder is not picking up anything," Maya said interrupting the discussion as she extended her arm forward as if the few extra centimeters would make a difference. Apparently, the Shillian scientist had not paid any attention to the conversation happening right next to her. "And by 'anything' I meant *nothing*. Whatever dampening field is being generated from that structure, it extends beyond the limits of the external walls and is rendering our scanning instruments useless."

"Communication is also out," Xana said after tapping her communicator. "We have no way to contact or be contacted by the HATHOR or even the other team.

"It would seem that your *friend* is the sort that does not like to be disturbed," the Captain said as he shot a quick glare in the pirate's direction.

Balthier simply smiled and shrugged. "We all have our little secrets; some just go a little further to protecting them.

"We still need that information on 'ghost ship'," Xana whispered to Erik, suspecting that the Captain was considering a strategic retreat.

Morningstar reluctantly nodded his head. "Lt. Ya'Han, Lt. A'Janni, take point. Do not engage unless absolutely necessary. We are here as visitors and I would like for us to be able to leave as quietly as we came."

The Nylaan and Caitian acknowledged the order and moved beyond the tree line followed by the other members of the team. Everyone reached the temple's steps and entrance without any problems or encountering anything, a fact that bothered Maya.

"I realize that our tricorders are useless, but even without them, we should be aware of some level of life being present in the forest. Since our arrival, we have not seen a single forest or tree-dwelling creature. We have not even heard the slightest ruffle of leaves or the fluttering of wings, let alone the chirping of birds. For a planet possessing such a luscious natural environment, it is odd that this area would be so completely deprived of animal life, especially given that the HATHOR's sensors did pick up a sizable amount of fauna all over the planet."

"Maybe there is something about this dampening field that is keeping the animals away," A'Janni proposed.

Ya'Han smiled but kept her comments to herself as she easily imagined the Voth aSec/Tac making some sort of comment about the field not managing to keep the likes of the Caitian away, thus disproving his theory.  Focusing on their objective, that of entering the temple and locating Balthier's 'associate'. the Nylaan carefully opened the massive double manual doors.  As soon as they were opened and she stepped inside, the Sec/Tac was confronted by a sight that took the Nylaan by complete surprise causing her to take a single step back falling into a battle stance.

"Relax," Maya said. "It is only a statue."

"An ugly one at that," A'Janni added as he studied the stone likeness of the three-meter-tall bipedal reptilian. "Who would worship a giant lizard that walks on its hind legs? Did you notice the size of that tail too? I thought Zub was the stuff of nightmares, but after seeing *that*, I think he has a chance at winning the next Orion Miss Universe contest."

"The statue is clearly that of a large reptilian, but the shape of the body and face are not that of a Voth," Maya said as she closely studied the statue which towered over her. "To be perfectly honest, this representation appears to have more in common with ancient giant dinosaurs the likes of which were suspected to inhabit EARTH and several other planets many million years ago. Of course, if this is the case, this statue is a scaled-down representation of a Theropod, one that might actually belong to the Tyrannosaurus genus, but the musculature appears to be far more defined which could identify it as something completely different. The size of the scales on the back also points to this being a creature not being entirely like those dinosaurs.  I would need to have access to the ship's computer though if I am to confirm any of this. As much as I have spent a large amount of time researching and studying animals, large ancient reptiles were unfortunately not on my list of creatures to look into."

"Whatever that thing is," Ya'Han said pointing at the statue. "It still leaves us with the question of who in their right mind would worship something like *that*?"

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

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

with generous assistance from

Jessica Solarik

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

&

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

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M01-048: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36101.2115 ("Breaking and Entering")
=-=
“Breaking and Entering”
Previous posts: "The Scales of Worship" by Hanali and Jessica
=-=

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, over-powered temple
Stardate: 36101.2115

As per the directive of Lt. Commander Mitshiba, Gemma and Zub took the team forward, aiming for the main entrance of the temple. Misaki was following closely behind the ILO and aSec/Tac with Lt. Commander Paquette and Fran a single step behind her. This left Nicole and Sofia to bring up the rear, several paces behind the rest of the team, neither the CNS nor CMO overly anxious to run into whatever might be waiting for them.

The heatwave the team had encountered earlier had not done any harm, but the physician could not help but look upon that event as a warning of what was to come. next time, the members of the team might not be able to just brush whatever would happen as easily as they had dismissed their sweat.

"The doors are locked," Zub announced after both he and Gemma had done everything they could to open them. Everything short of trying to break the door down.

"A locked temple?" Misaki questioned, scanning the area around the door for something that might explain this unexpected discovery. "What could it mean?"

"First, a power output that matches that of a Galaxy-Class starship and now a locked front door?  There is something very odd about this place," Sonja unhappily muttered. "I have heard of reclusive, power-hungry religious cults, but somehow I don't think this is what they had in mind as being their headquarters. None of this makes any sense, least of all is the displaying of the glyph Balthier showed us on the outside of this structure."

Several questioning looks were cast in the Viera's direction, but Fran only shrugged her shoulders, indicating that she had no answers to offer the rest of the team to explain what they had encountered.

"Guess that leaves us with only one option," Sofia said as she reached for Nicole's hand and pulled the joint Trill closer as if the two of them were leaving, heading back the way they all had come from.

"There are always other options," the ILO said, the woman appearing a lot less like Gemma and a lot more like the Bounty Hunter Jinx. "Kick right there," the bright emerald green-eyed woman said, indicating to the Voth aSec/Tac the exact location on the door she needed him to strike.

Zub was about to comply when he stopped himself and looked at the Asian Commander, making sure that she supported this course of action. The last thing the Ensign needed was to do something that might prove to be against what the team's CO wished. Mitshiba gave a nod of her head indicating that she supported the ILO's idea. "We did agree to be more 'aggressive' in our dealings."

With that said, Enel took a step back and launched all his might and weight into a kick aimed at the exact spot indicated by the Bounty Hunter. A loud crash echoed through the forest, so much so that Doctor Andersson rushed to the towering lizard's side certain that he had broken his leg.  Sofia quickly examined Zub's leg, looking for any signs of injury, but to her surprise, she found nothing of the sort.

"Doctor," Jink sighed. "This is not the first locked door I have broken opened. Every door possesses a weak spot, a location that, if hit right, will cause the door to either break or become unhinged.  I could have done it myself, but since I had access to someone clearly larger and stronger, I did not see any reason to not make sure that all of the odds were in our favor." As the Bounty Hunter turned to look at Commander Mitshiba, the woman's features changed, allowing for the ILO to return.

"No alarms or guards rushing out to see what happened," Gemma pointed out. "I see that as an invitation for us to go in."

"Commander," Sofia pleaded. "I realize that I am just the Chief Medical Officer, but do you truly think that it is a good idea for us to go in there?"

"What I believe Sofia is saying is that she is concerned for the well-being of everyone on this team," Nicole amended, making sure that Commander Mitshiba did not interpret Andersson's words as questioning her authority.

"I do understand your concerns," Misaki said. "I share them, but we are on a mission, and searching for Balthier's contact is, at the moment, the only real lead we have. So, unless you or anyone else has a better idea, I don't see that we have a great many options."

An awkward silence was shared between the members of the team as everyone looked at everyone else to see if someone would be able to offer another option. It was easy to see that no other course of action was available or even being considered, short of returning to the HATHOR and forgetting about this lead, which of course was not a valid option.

Reluctantly, Doctor Andersson lowered and nodded her head, indicating that she would follow without offering any more objections.

"You have nothing to worry about," Zub gently said to the much shorter woman. "We'll make sure nothing happens to you or anyone else."

Sofia took a moment to look up at the imposing figure standing next to her before shifting her gaze onto the ILO. Truth be told, the Doctor could not imagine anything that Zub or Gemma would not be able to handle, either individually or together. That thought helped reassure the CMO who had been fearing equally for Nicole as she had been for herself.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

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

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-049: USS HATHOR: Andersson/Enel: 36101.2125 ("There and Gone")
=-=
"There and Gone"
Previous posts: "Breaking and Entering" by Moi
=-=

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, inside the over-powered temple
Stardate: 36101.2125

The team slowly made its way down a narrow, barely lit corridor. The small, dispersed lights embedded in the upper inner edges where the walls met the ceiling were barely sufficient to allow anyone to see the floor ahead of them, yet the team pressed on.

"All that power and they can't turn on the lights?" Sonja quietly grumbled, voicing what most were thinking.

The away team continued on the downward slope of the floor which luckily was not enough to cause them to slip or fall, but it was more than enough to make it known that they were heading below the surface. If that was not enough to cause some of the team members to be concerned, the humming that seemed to come from beyond the walls grew louder with each step they took. Whatever was causing this noise, they were getting closer to it.

"There is a door ahead," Gemma announced followed a few seconds later by the sound of a gentle electrical shock. "It's protected by a forcefield," the ILO annoyingly added.

"Let me have a crack at it," the Chief Engineer said as she moved to the front of the group while cracking her knuckles. Due to the narrowness of the corridor, the others could only stand and wait, unable to position themselves in a way to see what was happening.

Sofia forced her way next to Zub, hoping that the Voth's height might give him the advantage the Doctor and several others lacked. "What do you see?" Andersson asked.

"Lt. Commander Paquette appears to be trying to open one of the side panels," Enel reported.

Clearly, Sofia had hoped for more, but still, the report from the towering Voth allowed her to have a better idea of what was transpiring. After a few moments, the sound of another electrical shock was heard, this one much more powerful than the first which was quickly followed by the lights, what little there was, going out and plunging everyone in complete darkness.

=-=

One instant the away team’s steps echoed in a massive temple. The next, Sofia and Zub found themselves on their back strapped tightly waist and limb to old-fashioned gurneys. The two were being pushed by muscular attendants in surgical blue. They raced down brightly lit hallways at breakneck speed. The wheels below squealed in protest. The gurneys jarred painfully each time the headrail crashed through a set of double doors. A female doctor with a white surgical mask and latex gloves sprinted up and paralleled the speeding patients. She shouted to someone unseen ahead, “Get these two ready for surgery. We are running out of time!"

"Surgery!" Sofia gasped. "What for? What is wrong with us? WHO ARE YOU?"

"Don't worry, my dear," the running physician said as she pressed a breathing mask over the frantic woman's nose and mouth. "You won't feel a thing." It didn't take long for the CMO to realize that she was being administered some sort of rapid-acting sleeping gas. It only took a few breaths before the woman found herself too weak and disoriented to offer any sort of resistance, not that she could have done a great deal tied the way she was to the speeding gurney.

=-=

“Sofia!” Nicole’s horrified cry echoed in the dim narrow corridor. She looked around in panic for her lover. “She’s gone!”

“Zub Enel, too,” Gemma noted with a calm as steely as Nicole’s cry of fear.

“I certainly hope that wasn’t my doing,” Sonja said in the dim light, “because I have no idea how I did that if I did it at all.”

“Get them back!” Nicole shouted. Her breath came in and out in shudders. She hugged herself as she tried to get control over her emotions.

The whirring and warbling of tricorders rose over Nicole’s labored breathing and the loud hum around them in the corridor.

“I am picking up a trace of a transporter signal,” the Chief Engineer said.  "A least I think I am, the interference from the power core is making getting any sort of detailed reading very difficult," her tone remained calm and professional despite the team missing two of their own. “The energy residual appears to be more Klingon than Federation. Well, not exactly Klingon either. Who knows what parts they scrounge in this backwater and modify themselves. Low energy. Low enough to have been, possibly, a point-to-point elsewhere in the building.”

The ExO’s Asian face was lit by the data displayed on her tricorder. “No identifiable traces of their unique life signs. There is so much interference and shielding here I can’t be sure of that. They could even be on the other side of that door.”

“A lot of fuss using a teleporter instead of just passing through a door,” Gemma said. “I suggest we go back the way we came to check for them. If we don’t find them, we return here, get this door open and press ahead. We can scan for them as we go.”

In the darkness, it was difficult to see anyone looking at her, but Commander Mitshiba could feel their eyes on her waiting for her to make a decision. Thankful for the low light, she swallowed once. “Staying together is a good idea. Let’s proceed with checking our backtrail and then returning.”

The sound of another electrical shock was heard, this one as powerful as the one just before the Chief Medical Officer and aSec/Tac vanished. What little light there was in the noisy, narrow corridor went out and plunged everyone into complete darkness once again.

=-=

Woozy from the anesthetic, it took Sofia several moments to realize she had heard a crash. Her gurney had stopped. A male voice shouted, “He’s loose!” There was a loud slap like a fist hitting flesh. The three remaining big males were looking intently in the direction of Zub Enel’s gurney.

“Jab him. Quick!” the female doctor said, her brown eyes growing quite large.

Sofia raised her head to look around. It felt like it weighed a ton, like after she’d been drinking too many peach soda and gin martinis with Nicole. Her thoughts flashed to the joint Trill. She tried to sit up to look for her, but the straps around her arms and waist kept her tightly in place on the gurney.

Her vision was so fuzzy that she had to close one eye to see clearly. Zub, the seven-foot-tall lizard of a man, was fending off three burly but shorter orderlies. A female nurse in a white uniform held an old-fashioned hypo syringe with the point straight up. She dodged and weaved, staying close behind the struggling men, obviously ready to jab.

The most ridiculous part of all this was that Zub’s massive scaly arms were free, but his waist was still attached to his gurney. Held by the strap-like belt, the gurney had twisted near-horizontal across his backside and moved left and right with his hips as he blocked and punched at the men. It might have been the anesthesia she was feeling, but Sofia couldn’t help but giggle.

The doctor in her surgical mask turned her head to appraise Doctor Andersson. “You should be under by now. At any rate, you must make him calm down. He’s filling his liver with cortisol and other stress hormones. It will make it practically unusable. I can’t save you without a new liver.”

Sofia asked her, “What happens to him afterward without his liver?” but it came out slurred and drunken.

In the next moment, she heard the nurse with the needle give a high squeal. Sofia looked to see the three men slumped to the floor next to the fourth. Zub in his gurney pants had the nurse raised clear off the tiled floor by her needle-wielding arm. Carrying her one-handed like she was a struggling child, he was reaching grim-faced for the doctor. The doctor started to flee by Sofia’s gurney, but too late. Zub’s big three-fingered hand closed on the back collar of her blue surgical scrubs. She too was raised off the floor. Her eyes were wide with terror.

His golden eyes were fixed somewhere beyond Sofia’s head. The CMO guessed there was a surgical team waiting there. He said with true deep-throated menace, “Clear the hall. We leave now and no one else will suffer injury.”

Sofia was happy to be rescued, so far anyway, but was sure she might need help walking.

=-=

The effect of the anesthetic was making it difficult for the CMO to remain conscious or keep track of what was happening around her. What Sofia did know was that she was still tied to the gurney that was being pushed by her rescuer. Based on the rapid flow of the lights overhead, Andersson could only guess at the incredible speed they were rushing through the corridor.

"Hang on!" Zub said causing Sofia to raise her head as much as she could to see what appeared to be a solid wall standing directly in front of them. The crash that soon followed sent the CMO flying through the air before she landed on a cold, dark floor.

"SOFIA!" Doctor Andersson immediately recognized the voice as being that of the Trill CNS, and the urgent hug that followed confirmed the woman's identity. "Where did you go!"

Andersson quickly scanned her dimly lit surroundings, searching for Zub Enel and the gurneys, but despite her diligent efforts, the only thing the CMO could find was the standing Voth who appeared just as confused as she felt.

=-=
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

David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-050: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.2140 ("Outside Interference")
=-=
“Outside Interference”
Previous post: “There and Gone” by Tiffany and David

=-=
Setting: GORLAPOLIS, inside the overpowered temple, narrow dim-lit corridor
Stardate: 36101.2140

This made no sense at all. One moment everyone was together, the next two members of their team were missing. Minutes later, they were back talking about being dragged for some unspecified medical procedure.  If it was not for the fact that Sofia and Zub had vanished, Gemma would have thought them to be crazy. Although no proof of their adventure could be produced or found, the ILO could not dismiss what had taken place. Something had happened to Andersson and Enel, but what?

After confirming that the CMO was alright, the CNS turned to look straight at the ExO. "I suggest that we go back. We have no idea what happened. This means that there is no way for us to even guess as to what might happen next."

Gemma could see that Misaki was about to agree. As First Officer and team leader, her primary duty was to protect the members of the team. The mission, as important as it might be, could always resume once things are settled. Unfortunately, this cautious approach was not the way the ILO was used to doing things. Patience was a strong virtue, one that had proven itself more than important many times before. The problem was this was not a situation where patience would prove to be a useful asset. Waiting for the unknown had never been a smart course of action.

With a motion of her hand, the ILO caught the ExO's attention. The one raised finger was enough to indicate that Gemma needed everyone to wait. "I understand that something happened. I also understand that it has spoked some, but we cannot retreat at this time. We forced our way in and made it this far. Next time, the internal defenses may be much greater than what we have encountered. I understand that this may seem counter-intuitive, but we have to press on. So far, none of us have suffered any injuries that could warrant our retreat."

Dr. Andersson stepped forward; the shorter blonde woman was visibly upset. "The only reason why we were not *injured* was because Zub managed to save us both. I can assure you that it would not have ended so well if not for his timely rescue."

The ILO glared back at the CMO through narrowed eyes. "Were you not under the effect of a sedative? By your own account, you are unsure of what was happening. You also claimed to have been tied to a gurney, yet you were free when you returned. I am not denying that something happened to you and Ens. Enel. The fact that you both vanished cannot be disputed, we all witnessed it. What I am questioning is what exactly happened. All we know for certain is that the two of you were beamed away and returned a few minutes later. We need to figure out what happened, and how it came to be. Retreating now might mean that we cannot return."

If the argument from the curly auburn-haired woman was not enough. Maybe the gentle words of the Edo explorer Lireen might change the ExO's opinion. "I understand that this whole thing might be scary. There is a lot that we do not understand about what happened. That is why we should continue. We are faced with more than one mystery. Not only do we need to know how they were transported away and back, but also why? Was it just that they were the random targets or was there another reason? Was Zub selected because of his size, his race? Was it because they perceived him as the greatest threat? If so, why was Sofia also taken? Why did they experience what they did? Was it real or some sort of elaborately orchestrated hallucination? We have so many questions, and the only way to answer them is for us to go forward, not back."

The gentleness of the blonde, blue-eyed woman was replaced by the fiery-haired, emerald green-eyed bounty hunter.  "We came here to find someone. There is only a small chance that we will find him if we continue. There is absolutely no chance of us finding him if we go back. We cannot allow our fears to stand in our way. If we did, where would we be? Nothing has ever been accomplished by giving in to fear."

It was obvious to see that going forward was important to the ILO. Why else would multiple personalities step forward to justify this course of action? Cmdr. Mitshiba was content to follow these latest recommendations. Partly because they made sense, but also partially because she feared what other personalities might appear.

Looking at the CEO, the ExO asked. "Can you get that door opened?"

Sonja hesitated until she saw Gabrielle Wolfe move closer. The short, blonde-haired Germanic woman smiled as she looked back at the Asian Commander. "I am much better at breaking things open than I am at fixing them. So, give us a couple of minutes and we will have that door open wide."

The two women tinkered with the door controls now accessible. With the panel removed, it would only be a question of time. The two engineers worked well together, and soon the sound of locks opening echoed down the narrow corridor.

Gabrielle smiled and turned to look at the others. "There you go," she said but no one was there to hear her words. At first, she thought that they had been transported away. It took the ILO only a few seconds to realize that it was her who had changed location.  Somehow Gemma had found her way in the middle of an octagon-shaped room with portals on each wall. In the center of the room stood a small pedestal which she suspected might be a control station of some kind.  She carefully approached and studied the strange markings.

As an ILO, Gemma needed to know countless languages. There was no telling where she might end up or what she might encounter. She recognized the markings as being those of an ancient race. As this realization dawned upon her, the woman understood why there was a need for so much power. How this technology had come to being here was a mystery, but who had created it was not.  This meant that they had found much more than the team had set out to,

Gemma returned her gaze onto the control station. Many of the glass-like panels were shattered meaning that the system was unusable. "What are Iconian portals doing here? More important is whether the damage was intentional or accidental? Guess I should also wonder as to how I am going to get back to the others?"

=-=
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]
M01-051: USS HATHOR: Lopez: 36101.2140 ("Bigger Issues")
-=-=-
"Bigger Issues"
[the previous post was Rachel "Outside Interference"]
-=-=-

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, Inside the shielded temple
Stardate: 36101.2140

Over the last 30 or so minutes, the team lead by Captain Morningstar had explored every corner of this *temple*.  So far, the only thing they managed to find though were more statues like the one they encountered when they first arrived. No priests, not worshipers, not even an errant mouse was seen which led the team as a whole to question if this was actually a temple.

In addition to searching with the others, Adriana kept a close watch on the Caitian FCO who appeared to be on edge. Over the last half hour, the CNS / Junior Ambassador had observed the large felinoid nervously make it from one room to the next as if expecting something to leap out at them from the shadows.

"Why build a temple if no one is meant to use it?" Xana inquired aloud, the Bolian/Human Ambassador sounding rather frustrated by their lack of progress in the search for their guest's acquaintance and a possible means to find out more about the ghost ship they were here to stop.

"There is definitively something wrong here," Erik said, turning his attention onto Balthier. "Any idea as to what might have happened?"

The man chuckled. "I understand your need to blame someone, but I assure you that I had nothing to do with any of this. I am as surprised as you all in the apparent emptiness of this temple."

"It is not empty," A'Janni growled as he scanned their surroundings. "There is something here, I can feel it."

"We searched every corner of this temple," Adriana pointed out. "There is nothing here unless you believe that those freakish statues are somehow alive and tracking our movements."

"A'Janni is right," Morningstar said. "There is something else here, something beyond what we can see or hear."

"Great," Adriana sighed. "I didn't realize that we were dealing with ghosts."

Xana glared at her Junior Assistant through narrowed eyes. "You should know better than most that there are people who are able to see or sense things well beyond the reach of others," the Ambassador said making Adriana quickly reconsider her attitude, especially given that, in some way, she was one of those people. Yes, it had been some time she Lopez had not seen or heard her missing twin sister, but that did not nullify the fact that for all intents and purposes, she was able to see and hear something that no one else could.

"My apologies, Captain," Adriana said to Erik. "My words were ill-chosen. I allowed my own frustration to taint my opinion. You have demonstrated, many times before now, that you are able to sense things that no one else could. Maybe it is thanks to your ancestry or simply due to your years of experience in dealing with the strange and unknown of our universe, either way, I should have respected your opinion more than I did." The CNS paused before turning to face the FCO. "Lt. A'Janni, I also owe you an apology. My dealings with your race have unfortunately been limited, so it was inappropriate of me to dismiss your perception as it is very possible that you, as all Caitians, could be more sensitive to certain things. Please, accept my humble apology."

The Caitian seemed more than willing to forgive, after all, he was used to getting quite a bit of resistance and negative feedback from his Voth shipmate, so this had been nothing to him. The team took a moment to take in what had been said, trying to understand their own feelings, be it that they agreed with the Captain and FCO or believed that this was nothing more than an out-of-control imagination.

The moment came to an abrupt end when Ya'Han's panicked voice was heard. "Captain!"

All eyes turned onto the fiery red-haired Chief of Security who was pointing her phaser at something that was not there before. Thanks to the low ambient light of the temple, it would have been difficult to see any details of whatever that thing was, but the fact that it appeared as being partially out of phase made the task impossible. It would have been a stretch to claim that the entity was humanoid in form, the shape being so unspecific.

Maybe this is what Captain Morningstar and Lt. A'Janni had sensed, maybe it was the ghost that Adriana had earlier mentioned. Whatever that thing was, the apparition was just standing there, motionless, not showing any concerns about having an energy weapon aimed right at it or being in a room with half-a-dozen people who had no idea what to make of it.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi {mmlm12121112@gmail.com}
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-052: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han: 36101.2145 ("Spectral Encounter")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Spectral Encounter”
Previous posts: "Bigger Issues” by Marissa
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, Inside the shielded temple
Stardate: 36101.2145

The concept of ghosts was something the Nylaan was not at all familiar with. As the youngest daughter of the High Sovereign of NYLA IV, her time was spent training, studying, or accompanying her father during his imperial tours. It was only after the would-be Starfleet Academy Cadet arrived on EARTH that she started hearing about these strange apparitions believed to be the spirits of the dead.

Looking at the shapeless form hovering in front of the team, Ya'Han regretted not having listened to the stories that were being shared by some of her classmates. Although these tales varied widely according to the individual, their race, and personal beliefs, the general idea of spirits returning to the land of the living was a rather common one. At the time, the Nylaan believed these accounts to be nothing more than the creation of overactive imaginations supported by fears and legends of old. No proofs were ever provided to support whatever claims had been made, but now it seemed that there was no longer any need for any sort of justification. The proof was now standing, well, hovering, right in front of her.

The Sec/Tac was partially relieved that the shapeless haze did not move from where it had appeared. The truth was that Ya'Han had no idea what she would or could do against something that clearly did not have a physical form. She even suspected that her phaser would have little if any, effect against it. Neither the Starfleet Academy combat training classes nor the various science classes she attended during her 4 years on EARTH had covered anything like this.

"Tricorder range is limited due to interference," Maya said, "but I can pick up several distinct energy patterns coming from that thing. All of them are very similar to what would be expected when studying someone's brainwave pattern, the only difference is that there are just a lot of them."

"Wait! You meant that this is not *one* ghost but rather *several*?" Ya'Han gasped. Dealing with one out-worldly entity would have been bad enough, but to have to face multiple of them all rolled into one was proving to be a little overwhelming for the Nylaan Sec/Tac.

"The term 'ghost' may be inaccurate based on what I understand those specters to be," the CSciO explained. "According to these readings, what we are seeing is 'alive', although not in a way that any medical doctor would recognize. The brainwave patterns that I am picking up are extremely complex as if multiple minds were communicating with one another. I can discern distinct patterns and responses, leading me to believe that whatever this thing is, it is asking questions and answering those same questions very much like we are currently doing, although in a much less efficient manner."

"That thing is trying to figure us out in the same way we are trying to figure it out," Counselor Lopez said. As the team did their best to understand what was happening, the 'ghost' decided to move, not slowly or aimlessly, but with a lightning-fast movement that took it from where it was to completely envelop the shocked Sec/Tac.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Setting: Mindscape  

Something had happened. Ya'Han could not tell what exactly, but she knew something had happened. She was still standing in the same spot, in the same room inside the temple, but instead of being with the away team, the Sec/Tac was now surrounded by priests. If that was not creepy enough, all of them were staring at the Nylaan as if they had seen a ghost.

There was a brief moment of silence that quickly gave way to a cacophony of noise which Ya'Han was eventually able to recognize as being voices.  The Sec/Tac could hear the priests talking despite their lips not moving, something that just made this already strange event even stranger. Questions were being asked faster than the Nylaan could process them leaving her unable to offer any sort of reply other than her desperately trying to get them to stop.

The loudness became so much that Ya'Han could no longer stand, so she dropped to one knee extending a single hand out in a plea for them to stop while her other hand was pressed against her ear, not that it was helping to reduce the noise level any.  After a few moments of this, images began to fill the Nylaan's mind, each more disturbing than the one before.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
GORLAPOLIS, Inside the shielded temple
Stardate: 36101.2150

"Are you alright?" It was Captain Morningstar asking the question, making Ya'Han understand that the ordeal was over.

"I... I think I am," the Sec/Tac replied hesitantly. "What happened?"

"That ghost just enveloped you for a few seconds before vanishing," Counselor Lopez explained.

 "I as stated earlier, I doubt that what we encountered was a ghost," Maya said, the CSciO clearly not ready to accept that terminology or its implications.

"Actually," Ya'Han began as she returned to her feet. "I think calling that thing a ghost might be more accurate than we would like to believe. The priests of this temple were... vaporized by some sort of energy blast leaving their consciousness behind which eventually came together into a single form that we have just seen, and which communicated with me."

"What does it mean?" Adriana asked.

"I have absolutely no idea," Ya'Han sadly admitted.

[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
Hanali Han 

Chief of Security / Chief Tactical Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC-18501
M01-053: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36101.2150 ("Loose Cannon")
=-=
“Loose Cannon”
Previous post: “Spectral Encounter” by Hanali

=-=
Setting: GORLAPOLIS, inside over-powered temple, narrow dim-lit corridor
Stardate: 36101.2150

The tall aSec/Tac Zub Enel stood before the opened door in the dim, narrow corridor. There was still a problem, however. “Should not Gemma be back by now?”

“She’s been gone twice as long as you and Dr. Andersson,” the ExO Misaki Mitshiba said, her Asian face pinched with concern.

The Chief Engineer, Sonja Paquette, lowered her tricorder. “Same teleporter traces. Nothing appears different now than when you two vanished.”

“Except now the door is open,” said the exotically beautiful rabbit woman, Fran. Her deep red eyes were focused beyond the opening. Her long white ears swiveled within an arc that covered the doorway.

“You hear something,” Counselor Nicole Dima asked her.

The Viera female in her scanty black armor tilted her head while listening. “Humming, from machinery of an electrical nature. Water in pipes - slow, polymer ones.” She made her ears wide and cupped. “Pinging.” She relaxed; her ears drooped askew. She stood straighter on her stiletto boots. “I found no sound of your highly unusual and changeable comrade.”

“Gemma can take care of herself. There’s that,” the Chief Medical Officer Sofia Andersson said.

“She would press onward,” the aSec/Tac noted. He looked at the ExO.

The ExO was ready to answer. “Zub and Fran take point. Sofia and Nicole, center. Sonja, with me at the rear. Tricorders on. Let’s move forward carefully but quickly. Gemma might be ahead and in trouble.”

Nicole asked, “What if she reappears here after we have already left?”

“She is highly intelligent,” Zub Enel said confidently. “If we leave, she will understand and follow us.”

Commander Mitshiba said, “Let’s move out.”

The narrow corridor descended into rising heat; the darkness was broken by faint lights where the walls met the ceiling. Tricorders sang softly like crickets.

Fran and Zub Enel fell into step. Their heads moved differently but they always managed to look where the other one wasn’t. Fran held her bow down at an angle. Zub Enel held his big three-fingered hands in loose fists. At each switchback they both hurried around the corner, faces alert, always ready.

A sweaty Sonja stopped and said “Mm” with interest. She aimed her tricorder at a rusted boxy structure on the ceiling that pinged softly. “Unusual. It’s generating a strong magnetic field using antiferromagnetic coupling across a tetrametallic unit through noncovalent interactions.”

“You mean it is creating magnetism via chemical reactions?” the ExO asked as she aimed her tricorder.

“For what purpose,” the redheaded Engineer asked, her voice distant as she concentrated on the rusty structure. “It resembles a component used by the Iconians. They were exterminated many thousands of years ago. Yet we find a piece of their technology still active.” She clucked her tongue. “It is a marvel what GORLAPOLISIANS cobble together.” She shook her head in disbelief.

The ExO held her tricorder closer to the box. “Interference makes scanning nearly useless, but there appears to be a functional conduit leading upward. The magnet field lines are shunted upward.”

Enel asked, “For something above this level?”

“Something Iconian?” Misaki asked with reverence. “Their gateways could span the galaxy.”

Sonja patted at her tidy hair bun. “One component does not a galaxy hopping gateway make.”

“True,” Commander Mitshiba said, “but it points to a possible chamber above. If we’re possibly in a maintenance corridor, let’s see if we can find a ladder or access port going up. We might find Gemma up there.”

“I’m ready to leave this darkness,” Nicole said emphatically.

Sonja Paquette’s impish smile could be seen lit by her tricorder display. “The Iconians were called ‘Demons of Air and Darkness.’”

“All the more reason to get up and out,” the blonde CMO said. “Like Nicole, I’m ready for fresh air.”

“Scan for voids,” Misaki said. “Zub. Fran. Take point.”

Neither the 7-foot-tall Voth nor the nearly as tall Viera moved. Both were tautly alert.

Misaki whispered, “What?”

Zub Enel said in a soft rumble, “I smell something alive. An animal or person.”

Fran raised her bow and extended her arm. “I just heard feet splash through water.”

Tricorders whirred as the team scanned ahead.

Aki sighed. “Useless. There’s too much interference.”

The Chef Engineer responded, “We are surrounded by soil that has cloaking properties. These walls are perhaps constructed using the same soil. We also have multiple power sources nearby, likely from different planets. Each gives off excess radiation uniquely as heat or light or who knows what else. These signals actively interfere with each other and swamp our scanners.”

The Voth and Viera edged forward silently; both ready for anything that out of the darkness. They stopped again; Zub sniffing, Fran listening.

aSec/Tac Zub Enel said puzzled to the away team, “Fabric. Sun heated. Sweaty.”

Nicole asked, “Gemma?”

Zub said, “No. Different. I would say fabric means this is more of a who than a what.”

“It’s stopped,” the rabbit-eared archer said. She drew her bow; long ears aimed ahead.

Before Fran could let fly with an arrow, Cmdr. Mitshiba said firmly, “Don’t shoot blind. It has not attacked.”

“Hello?” Nicole called, her voice echoing.

A clunk echoed back. Fran lowered her bow and ears. “It’s gone or standing very still.”

“Forward,” Misaki said, tricorder whirring. “Carefully.”

Fran asked, “Don’t those things have a light you can turn on?”

The Engineer answered, “Not needed. They can detect anything and everything. You can see in darkness with them in multiple wavelengths. When they are working, of course. Don’t your arrows light up?”

“Once,” Fran said emphatically. “They’re expensive and there’s no ready supply if I expend these.”

“I promise I’ll buy you one,” Sofia said.

Fran raised her bow again. She murmured indistinctly. Her arrow tip flared icy blue.

Lit by wavering St. Elmo’s fire, black pipes dripped from the ceiling. A film of water and greenish algae below had boot prints stamped through it.

Farther down, a figure cowled in black stood on the bottom rung of a metal ladder. The rungs were between the figure and team.

A deep male voice shouted, “You!”

Fran’s bow twanged. Her arrow passed where the figure’s chest would have been had he not crouched. Silhouetted in blue, the man rushed up the ladder.

Zub’s long stride took him to the ladder but it had retracted into the ceiling. He leaped up and caught a rung. He dropped pulling the ladder down with him.

“You tried to kill him,” Dr. Andersson said accusingly.

Fran was unapologetic. “The Black Wolf might have killed me.”

“We need to follow him up there,” Misaki stated.

“I won’t stop you,” Fran said.

“Zub goes first,” Aki said.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in his shoes. Then
when you do criticize that person, you'll be a mile away and
have his shoes.”
- from Jokes2Go
M01-054: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36101.2155 ("Numerous Options")
=-=
“Numerous Options”
Previous post: “Loose Cannon” by David

=-=
Setting: GORLAPOLIS, inside the overpowered temple, portal room
Stardate: 36101.2155

Eight walls surrounded her. Eight doorways stood in the middle of each wall. And yet, there seemed to be no easy way out for the ILO. Based on the writing located on the central pedestal, these were Iconian portals. The inscriptions on the outer edges of the walls supported this deduction. The problem was that Gemma did not recognize where any of the gateways led to. So, stepping through any of them might end up leaving her in worse trouble than she already was. Obviously, that was not an option.

Without any way to contact the rest of her team, Gemma was left with only one course of action. She would study the scenes displayed through each gateway and see which she would eventually step through. That idea was not the greatest, but it sure stood well above her staying where she was. The ILO needed to regroup with the others and inform them of what she had discovered. So, staying put was not an option.

Gemma selected the gateway with what appeared to be the most familiar scene. The street and buildings could have been on any planet in the galaxy. The ILO hoped that she would be able to see something that would narrow down the possible locations.  Her study of the scene was interrupted when she heard something behind her. Instantly pivoting on her heels, the Intel Operative came face-to-face with a familiar form. She could have unleashed a pre-emptive strike. She could have knocked him out, but doing so would leave her with no one to answer questions. Given her current situation that was not a valid option.

"What are you doing here?!?" The man known as the 'Black Wolf' bellowed. Clearly, he had not expected to find anyone here. He was also less than pleased by the fact that someone had discovered his little secret. The portals and their uses were his and his alone. Therefore, there was only one thing he could do. He had no other options.

The ILO was not given the chance to reply to the angered query. The man leaped at her, displaying speed and swiftness in line with his nickname. Had the woman been anyone else, he would have easily landed on her, pinning her down without any effort. Unfortunately for him, it was Anya whom he ended up trying to tackle. The Russian assassin easily deflected the man's attack to one side as she stepped the other way. As he returned to his feet, the Black Wolf glared at the curly red-haired woman. Something about her had changed, but that did not alter what he knew needed to be done. The failed first attack did not dissuade him from trying again. He leaped through the air, ready for whatever the woman would throw at him, or so he thought. As skilled as he may have been, he was no match for the highly trained Russian assassin. Thanks to her advanced training and experience, Anya easily avoided his repeated strikes. For every attack, the woman had a slew of options to choose from.

By the time the battle was over, the man was on the floor, blood trickling down the side of his mouth. Anya stood on the other side of the room, smiling as only an assassin could. She could have killed him more than once during their confrontation. The only reason he was still alive was because he had the key out of this place. More accurately, *had* the key as it now was firmly in the Russian woman's hand.

The small device appeared to be some sort of remote control. The markings on it though clearly identified it as Iconian in origin. Glaring at the beaten wolf, the assassin made an offer. "Tell me how this works or die. Those are your only options. I can take the time to figure it out on my own, that is not the issue. I just want to regroup with my team sooner rather than later. So, I am giving you an option, a choice that could save your life.

The black-cloaked man slowly and with great difficulty rose to his feet. He could feel the bruises all over his body. He could also feel the pain from the bones she had broken. There was no way he would win this fight, and he knew it. So, there was no real option for him other than what he had to do. It was no longer a question of what he wanted, but rather what he needed to do. The woman's generous offer had honestly left him with no real option.

Without saying a word, he took a few steps forward, wincing as he did so. The pain extreme but there was nothing else he could do. The last thing he wanted was to see his life end in this place. As he took his next step, his leg collapsed beneath him sending the black-cloaked man tumbling through the nearest gateway. The move might have first appeared to be an accident, but the expression on his face told another story. Of the two choices he had been given, the Black Wolf had created and taken a third option.

Disappointment washed over the Russian woman. Her willingness to spare his life had been a show of weakness, one that he had taken advantage of. Back in the days of her working deep undercover, Anya had never hesitated. Leaving anyone behind was a huge risk, one that the assassin had never before now allowed. It seemed that her time spent on the BASTET had made her softer, weaker. She would need to address that issue at the first available opportunity. Right now though, she needed to figure out how the remote worked and rejoin the others. There were no other options.

=-=
Setting: GORLAPOLIS, inside the overpowered temple, corridor
Stardate: 36101.2220  

The Uxali woman stood in the middle of a small corridor. Wimdalli was visibly thrilled in her having figured out how the remote functioned. She was just as happy to see that the gateway had worked as intended. The brown-haired woman could hear the shuffling of feet drawing nearer. Listening closely, she could pick up six distinct steps. This made the ILO smile as she figured that it was the members of her team.

Upon seeing the woman, the Voth's voice titered between surprise and joy as he asked, "Lt. Gemma?"

The CMO was the next one to speak, echoing Zub Enel's shock and relief. "Are you alright?"

Gemma nodded her head, her long curly locks flowing over her shoulders as she did so. "I am fine. I also have a few new options for us to consider."
 
=-=
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]
M01-055: USS HATHOR: Maya: 36101.2210 ("Not So Ghostly Ghosts")
---
"Not So Ghostly Ghosts"
(Previous Post: "Numerous Options")
---

Setting: GORLAPOLIS, Inside the shielded temple
Stardate: 36101.2210

As a scientist, the general concept of 'ghosts' being some sort of vengeful spirit was something that Maya had a hard time accepting, but that did not mean she did not believe in them. In fact, several scientific explanations could be used to explain such a phenomenon which allowed the Shillian to approach the claim made by the Nylaan with far less skepticism than what others were displaying.

"I believe the term 'manifestation of remnant bioenergy' would be more scientifically accurate," Maya said. "It is far more likely that what you experienced was the result of the individual bio-electrical energy being separated by their physical form and somehow forced to merge rather than the spirits of those priests who perished seeking some sort of vengeance for what happened to them."

"Whatever it was," Ya'Han sighed. "It was not pleasant.

"Dealing with ghosts never is," Adriana said, sending a quick glare in the direction of the Shillian Chief Science Officer before returning her fullest attention back onto the black-haired Nylaan Chief of Security. "Tell me, how do you know that the priests were 'vaporized'?"

Ya'Han considered the question and hesitated before offering any sort of reply. "A feeling... No, it was more like a memory, one that was not my own."

"Sounds like what a *ghost* or *ghosts* would do to get their point across," the Counsellor said, looking at Maya each time she emphasized the word the scientist had wanted to avoid.

"I do not understand you need to refer to this mass of energy as a ghost," Maya noted, the Shillian actually displaying a hint of annoyance which many found oddly amusing. "The term is antiquated and refers back to a time when people needed to find some sort of reason to explain what they could not through more scientific methods. Now that we understand that, in certain instances, the energy and consciousness of an individual can persist beyond the confines of a physical form, we do not need to label such manifestations in the way that you insist on using."

"There is nothing to understand," Adriana said teasingly. "I am just trying to make light of the situation. Look around, this place *should* be haunted."

"Ladies," the Caitian Flight Control Officer chimed in while pointing a single claw in the direction of the Nylaan Chief of Security, "I think something is happening."

"Lieutenant Ya'Han?" Captain Morningstar called out by the Nylaan did not respond, she simply continued walking down the corridor before stopping and turning to face the wall on her left.

"What is going on?" The Ambassador asked, puzzled by the strange behaviour of their Chief of Security. "And do not tell us that she has been possessed," Xana amended as she looked at the junior ambassador.

"What is she doing? It looks like she is drawing something?" Counselor Lopez questioned with puzzlement as she observed Ya'Han tracing odd shapes with a finger.

"It is hard to say," Maya replied. "I cannot make out what she is drawing, but clearly there is a specific pattern that she is using, almost as if she was writing something.

"Iconian," Balthier announced. "I could recognize those markings anywhere."

"Iconian?" The Captain repeated. "What would Ya'Han be doing writing something in that language? The Iconians have been extinct for over 200,000 years."

"Which brings up an even better question," Xana gasped. "Where or how did she learn this ancient language?"  A narrow-eyed glance was shot in the direction of the Counsellor/Junior Ambassador who simply shrugged and smiled.

The answer came in the form of a secret passage opening in front of Ya'Han and her walking through the newly opened passageway without saying anything to anyone. The rest of the team quickly caught up but they were surprised to find no traces of the Nylaan woman, only a pitch dark corridor.

"Where did she go?" Adriana gasped as she studied the dark void where Ya'Han had walked into mere seconds before.

"The answer may be in the language we observed her using," Maya said, the scientist already working on a theory that would explain what they had witnessed. "The Iconians were a highly technologically advanced race possessing the ability to travel from a star system to another without the use of ships, it is, therefore, possible that they used a more rudimentary system for short-range travel, thus allowing them to move from one location to another by simply walking through, say a secret doorway."

"That is an interesting idea," Captain Morningstar said. "How do you propose we test it?"

The Bolian/Human Ambassador let out an audible sigh before walking into the recently opened passageway in which Ya'Han had ventured into before vanishing. By the time the others realized what Xana was doing, it was already too late.

Maya peered into the darkness, trying her best to see something that would explain what had happened. Her tricorder was proving to be less than useful, unable to detect anything, not even the sidewalls of the passageway.

"See anything?" Adriana asked, the Junior Ambassador clearly concerned for the well-being of her mentor.

"Nothing," the Shillian scientist admitted. "The darkness is complete, and this despite some of the light from the corridor making it into the passageway. This is leading me to believe that this darkness is artificial, maybe meant to hide the true purpose of whatever this is."

"Great," the Caitian lamented. "Now we are down two officers and are no closer to understanding what happened." A'Janni was standing right behind Maya, his ears and nose desperately searching for something that might help them figure out what they needed to do next.

It would be Balthier who would make the next move, forcing his way between the Shillian and Caitian before following in the footsteps of the Bolian/Human Ambassador, entering the secret passageway before vanishing into the darkness.  Faced with the dwindling numbers of his team, the Captain had few options other than having the rest of the team follow suit.

---
Setting: UNKNOWN Location, corridor
Stardate: 36101.2225

It was with a great deal of relief that Captain Morningstar and those who had been left behind found themselves reunited with Ya'Han, Xana and Balthier.

"We would have gone back or sent some message but as you can see, this was a one-way trip," the Ambassador said as she motioned to the section of the wall they had apparently walked through.

"Ya'Han, are you all right?" Maya inquired, noticing the slightly bemused expression on the face of the Nylaan woman, her black hair hinting that something was still not as it should be.

"I... I will be okay," Ya'Han replied. "I am not sure what happened, I just felt this uncontrollable need to walk up to that wall and open the passageway. The worst part is that I cannot recall how I managed to accomplish this."

"You were possessed," Adriana said in a half-serious tone. Although she had not said the word 'ghost' it was evident that the Junior Ambassador was hinting that the otherworldly manifestation had likely something to do with what had happened.

Whatever reaction or comment might have come to be following this was set aside as the sound of footsteps was heard down the corridor the team had found itself in. With nowhere to hide, and without knowing where they would end up if they ran in the other direction, the decision was made for them to stand their ground and confront whatever would present itself.

"Maybe the ghosts followed us," Adriana said in a whispered voice.

"Ghosts would not be wearing boots," Ya'Han pointed out, the fiery red-haired Chief of Security standing at the ready for a fight alongside the Caitian Flight Control Officer.

"There are several sets of footsteps," Maya added.  "Some lighter than others, and there is at least one that oddly sounds like high heels."

Balthier smiled long before he or his team saw who or what was responsible for the sound of approaching footsteps. "Fran! Hold your fire!"

"What are you doing here?" Commander Mitshiba asked, not at all having expected to find the other team in the temple.

"Long story," Captain Morningstar replied. "Let's just say that it looks like we discovered an Iconian portal linking the two temples."

"That would make sense," Gemma noted. "We discovered an Iconian portal room," the Intel Liaison Officer added showing the small remote to the other team.
 
---
Jessica Solarik

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

&

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

"To see the world in a grain of sand,
and a heaven in a wild flower.
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour."
- William Blake (British, 1757-1827)
M01-056: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36101.2230 ("Ears")
=-=
“Ears”
Previous post: “Not So Ghostly Ghosts” by Jessica

=-=
Setting: UNKNOWN Location, corridor
Stardate: 36101.2230

The Assistant Security / Tactical Officer Zub Enel smiled. He felt better when the entire away team was together. With so much talent and training, anyone or anything trying to take advantage of them would be sorely tasked.

The Flight Control Officer, a bipedal white tiger, came up smiling at the scaly 7-foot-tall aSec/Tac. A’Janni’s had lost one eye. He fixed the other firmly on the tall, beauteous, and nearly unclad rabbit woman named Fran. She and Balthier had quickly joined one another soon after the team reassembled. They were speaking in low tones and looking around at the others.

“I wish I had her ears right now,” Zub Enel said.

“Alright,” the furry Caitian said like he was sharing a cake, “you can have her ears, although I have to admit that they would look rather odd on that scaly head of yours.”

“I meant her acute hearing. I could hear what she and Balthier are discussing.”

“Ah,” said A’Janni. “I hear well, too.” He trained his white furry tiger ears in Fran’s direction.

After a few moments of watching him without his making any report, Zub prompted. “So?”

“Well, he’s saying they should hide off to some pitch-black part of this corridor and renew their close friendship. Fran is saying he should go suck on a Grogg’s left big toe.”

Ya’Han, her pretty face intent, hurried up to the tall lizard and tiger. Her waist-length hair had more red streaks than black. She didn’t turn her head toward the Balthier and Fran duo. She said almost inaudibly up to A’Janni, “Can you hear what they are saying?”

Zub started with, “Apparently, Balthier wants to hide off with Fran ….” before A’Janni cut him off with a backhanded slap to his chest.

A’Janni ever so casually stepped away from Ya’Han and Zub and toward the pair of their enigmatic guests. He turned his back to the couple. He motioned Ya’Han and Zub Enel to close with him. He leaned forward toward them like he was speaking softly. His ears pointed backward. His furry, white brow was humped up with wrinkles as he concentrated. “It sounds like she has told him something about a wolf.”

“The Black Wolf,” Enel stated. “She almost killed him.”

“Shh!” Ya’Han said, her hair shaded entirely red.

A’Janni squinted at her. “I can tell from my deep and intimate knowledge of the female psyche that you are … upset?”

She whispered to the tiger of a man, “The only way you could be more obvious that you’re eavesdropping is if you backed right up to them. Quick. Trade places with me.”

The Caitian looked abashed, but he swapped positions with her, letting the fiery Nylaan put her back to Balthier and Fran while he faced them. He could easily see over Ya’Han’s red hair. Ya’Han said at low volume, “Now, both of you look at me. A’Janni, listen to them, but look at me.”

The tall scaly Voth looked confused. “Should we not be talking? It looks suspicious just staring at you silently.”

Her dark eyes narrowed for an instant, “They said I opened an Iconian gateway with hand signals while ‘possessed’ by disembodied priests. How about I appear to be demonstrating those hand movements?”

A’Janni asked, “You remember them?”

“It doesn’t matter.” Ya’Han’s hair, already the color of freshly spilled blood, deepened to gleaming ruby. Her scowl told the cat man to shut up. He did, instantly.

The fact the Nylaan did remember in part what she had done troubled her, especially since the reason or significance of her movements completely eluded her. The Sec/Tac was not at all pleased with the idea that she had not been in control of her actions, but right now was not the time nor place to contemplate this. She widened her stance, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. She let it out in a slow rush. She had no clear memory of opening the gateway; such was the trance. Still, she tried to capture the feeling she had as she awoke afterward. She hoped the symbols would come to her. They didn’t need to, of course, but Balthier had recognized them as Iconian. She had to get her gestures close to correct so that he’d believe she was trying to remember them. At the royal palace as a child, she had been drilled endlessly on every known fighting technique. As she progressed, her instructors punished her if she didn’t repeat a new one flawlessly after one demonstration. Her muscle memory was as strong as then. Eyes still closed, she began to move her hands. She tried to find motions that felt familiar.

Her black eyes opened slowly. The aSec/Tac was dutifully watching her hands.

A’Janni’s one remaining eye was cast in the vicinity of her hands, pupil pinpointed. He said in a low voice, “He thinks his contact might be nearby but suspects he may have to barter with one or more of the priests to find the contact’s exact location.”

“The priests are ghosts,” Ya’Han said. “They may not be able to help us.” The thought caused her hands to tremble, something that the red-haired woman did her utmost to hide from the two shipmates nearest to her.

The big lizard man looked puzzled. “What does one swap with a ghost? What do they need?”

“Sheets?” A’Janni asked, his continued efforts to tease his friend showing that neither had noticed Ya'Han's trembling hands, that or they had both selected to ignore it. Whichever was the case, the Nylaan woman found herself grateful.

“Revenge?” Ya’Han offered. “They became ghosts before their time.” She needed to focus on the here and now, and not dwell on how the experience was making her feel, a task that proved more difficult that she would ever care to admit.

Zub Enel glanced over her shoulder. He put his three-fingered hand low in front of her to block the view of his hand from behind. He raised two of his clawed fingers and made a circle with the last one. The gesture looked remarkably like a rabbit head. The ‘ears’ were moving forward and back like the ‘rabbit’ was listening.

Ya’Han’s face registered that she understood. With remarkable smoothness, she said in a normal volume voice, “I’m afraid I can’t remember the exact sequence of the gateway gestures. My mind and body, I sadly have to admit, were not my own.”

Her gaze turned up questioningly to the hulking lizard man. He made the rabbit gesture hop forward. Fran’s high heels clicked in the corridor. Ya’Han smiled. She turned to face Fran and Balthier just as they walked up.

Balthier had the sort of warm smile that put many to ease. He said amiably to Ya’Han, “It looked like you were trying to open a gateway?”

The Nylaan’s hair went black as night. “Unsuccessfully. Is this contact of yours in this temple?”

He laughed deprecatingly. “That’s the 64 bars of gold-pressed latinum question. We may have to ask the locals for help.”

Ya’Han’s dark gaze surveyed the corridor. “The locals may pass this way, albeit through the walls.”

“Indeed,” Balthier replied. He looked up at Enel. “I gather your Gemma found more gateways, and she can control them. Perhaps my contact has slipped through one.”

The tall Voth said to Balthier, “She said the Black Wolf managed to escape us through a gateway.”

“The Black Wolf. Yes.” Balthier’s gaze quickly raced to Fran’s round face topped with long furry white ears. She gazed steadily ahead inscrutably with dark red eyes. He smiled broadly at three officers. “Perhaps we should avoid that particular gateway for the nonce.”

Zub Enel asked in a civil tone, “Does that mean the Black Wolf is not your contact?”

Balthier’s laugh made the corridor ring. He sobered a bit. “Let’s say no. Better, let’s say that it’s complicated. In extremis. I do need a word with your captain.” As he turned away, he smiled disarmingly at Ya’Han, A’Janni, and Zub Enel. Fran did not smile. She did turn away precisely the same way Balthier did.

Ya’Han and Zub Enel looked at each other with narrowed eyes as they both considered what they had learned. A’Janni seemed fascinated by how Fran’s hip-length white ponytail swayed across her narrow behind as she clipped along on her black, armored, stiletto heels.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you’ll be a mile away and you’ll have their shoes.”
 - Steve Martin
M01-057: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36101.2300 ("Safer Together")
=-=
“Safer Together”
Previous posts: "Ears" by David
=-=

Setting: Unnamed planet, Underground Chamber
Stardate: 36101.2300

Sofia was looking at Nicole with an intensity that was impossible to ignore, and after a few moments of this, the Doctor's head tilted ever so slightly to one side as an adoring smile filled her face. The gesture was quickly echoed by the Counselor, although her smile seemed to fall more on the side of amused curiosity.

"What are you doing?" The joint Trill asked in a quiet, half-giggling voice.

"I'm looking at you," Andersson replied, her smile growing even larger.

"I can see that," Dima said rolling her eyes and shaking her head, but never breaking the eye contact the two women were in the middle of. "I meant, why are you looking at me like this?"

"Just agreeing with the universe," Sofia replied matter-of-factly.

"Alright, now you have to explain," Nicole grinned.

"The universe seems unwilling to let us be apart," the CMO explained. "During our first stop, the three teams found themselves reunited, just as we did again this time around. I can only conclude that the universe wants us together."

"Alright," Dima agreed. "So, should you not be looking at everything else the way you are looking at me?"

"I was thinking more of *us*," the Doctor said pointing to Nicole and herself, "than *us*," the physician continued, this time waving her hands to show that she was referring to everyone present.

"We were on different teams during our first stop," Nicole said, "but you and I were on the same team this time around."

"That does not invalidate the sentiment," Sofia argued. "The universe wants *us* together, so who am I to go against the wishes of the universe? That's my story and I am sticking with it."

The two ladies laughed with one another. It was nice to see that no matter what situation they found themselves in, Nicole and Sofia always seemed to find a reason to be glad that they were together. The loving and appreciative exchange came to an end when the pirate Balthier and Captain Morningstar were heard arguing. The two men had done their best to keep their voices down, but there was no escaping the fact that they had reached some sort of disagreement.

Fran and Misaki stood behind their respective CO, neither women appearing keen on joining the argument. It was easy to see that each lady agreed and fully supported the position of the man they were with, but they also understood that joining in would only escalate the situation, which was the last thing any of them needed.

"We are heading back to the ship," Morningstar huffed as he walked away from Balthier and Fran.

"He is not happy," the joint Trill noted.

"And that's why you are the Counselor," the CMO said teasingly. "Wonder what that was all about?"

"I will ask Commander Mitshiba," Nicole said. "Right now, I suspect that Captain Morningstar is not in the mood to share.

"You are right," Sofia agreed. "He looks like he is set to need my skills and expertise far more than yours right now. Whatever Balthier said to him got him more upset than we ever have seen him be. I would actually hesitate to bet against him, even if he was to go up against Zub of A'Janni."

"Neither one of them would hurt the Captain," Dima dismissed. "As boisterous as they both make themselves out to be at times, they would never allow themselves or each other to raise a hand to a superior officer."

"Leaving this place may not be so easy," Gemma said as the ILO was looking around. Keeping track of their movement through the structure would have been easy enough for the highly trained operative, but her little journey to the Iconian Portal Room had made it impossible for her to know exactly where they were in relation to the exit. "The ship's transporters will not be able to get a lock on us down here, we have to exit first."

"You do have access to a 'rapid exit system'," Nicole said to gemma, pointing to the small remote the ILO was holding in her hand.

Gemma was not sure about using it, but the expression on Captain Mornistar's face hinted that everyone would be safer if they got out of here as quickly as possible. Therefore, against her reservations, the ILO decided to use the remote and use the Iconian portal to create a way for them to leave.

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

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

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-058: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36102.0125 ("Tactical Reset")
=-=
“Tactical Reset”
Previous post: “Safer Together” by Tiffany

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0125

The teams were back together and on the HATHOR. It had taken longer than the ILO would have liked but they made it. Figuring out how the Iconian portals operated was a challenge. The remote gave, as far as Gemma could tell, only limited access to what could be done. Luckily, Wimda was not one to shy away from such hurdles. With help from the Shillian, the Uxali figured things out soon enough. After that, it was nothing more than to step through a doorway to have everyone be back where they belonged.

As good as it was to be back on the ship though, things were far from over. Cpt. Morningstar was in the observation lounge along with Balthier and Fran. Cmdr Mitshiba was also there, evening things out on the 'them' against 'us'. Whatever the pirate said back on GORLAPOLIS, the HATHOR's CO was not pleased. Looking around the bridge, it was clear that some expected to degrade even further. That was likely part of the reason why Dr. Andersson had not gone back to Sickbay. The physician waited to see if her skills would be required.

Zub Enel's golden eyes bounced from the Nylaan to the door leading to the Observation Lounge. The Voth was not good at hiding his feelings, which was not such a bad thing. This meant that everyone knew where the man-reptile stood in any situation.  The same could be said about the Nylaan. Her ever-changing hair color gave everyone a clear indication of her mood. Right now, the fiery red locks showed that she was ready for a fight.

This was likely the reason why the aSec/Tac leaned in closer to the Sec/Tac. Although his words were whispered, the stillness on the bridge allowed their sound to be heard by all. "Maybe one of us should be in there with the Captain and Commander."

It was the Jr. Ambassador who jumped in with her observation. "The Captain can take care of himself."

The Caitian FCO saw this as an opportunity to voice his opinion. "What about our guests? Should we not try to ensure their safety as well?"

The Voth let out a heavy sigh before he rolled his eyes and shook his head. "I am quite certain that Fran does not need you or your protection."

A'Janni was halfway out of his chair when Gemma spoke. "You might want to hold on that thought. Sensors are picking up something strange heading this way. Looks like a large black cloud."

Maya quickly turned to the nearest scientist station to see if she could help figure out what they were dealing with. "This makes no sense. The cloud registers on our instruments, but there is nothing there. Sensors are not registering any mass or chemical composition whatsoever. I can tell you the relative shape and size, but that's it. If that was not strange enough, the cloud is moving fast. Much faster than what would be expected from a natural phenomenon."

It was Adriana's turn to sigh and roll her eyes. "Great, more ghosts?"

The Shillian shook her head in visible disappointment. "As much as I did not subscribe to the idea of ghosts. What we encountered on the planet could, in theory, be considered as such. That said, this cloud is nothing like what we saw. The properties, at least those that our sensors can measure, are completely different."

As much as this made Ya'Han feel better, it did not make her stand down from her combat readiness. "Not getting *possessed* will be nice, but we should not count ourselves as being out of the wood. At least not until we have figured out what that thing is. Captain Morningstar to the bridge."

A'Janni did not waste any time returning to his station. The Caitian bounced back into his chair just as quickly and easily as he had leaped out. Whatever issue he had with his friend would have to wait. "The cloud is heading in our general direction. Hard to tell where it is specifically going. The vectors keep changing. Guess that makes sense since we are talking about a cloud."

Cpt Morningstar walked onto the bridge closely followed by Cmdr Mitshiba. "Report."

Since she had been the first to notice it, Gemma took on the responsibility to answer. "Sensors picked up a strange cloud heading in our general direction. Although sensors can detect it, its composition or method of movement are still unknown."

The expression on the faces of Balthier and Fran hinted at a strong feeling of discouragement. The slender Viera summarized this in a single word which her exotic accent only made even more ominous. "Trouble."

Balthier quickly approached the now sitting Captain. "May I suggest a hasty retreat. I may not know what this cloud is, but I have heard enough stories to know that we should not stay here."

The ILO fired a quick glare in the pirate's direction. There were a lot of skills an Intel operative needed to master. Not only was it part of their job, but those skills could save their lives. Being able to know when someone was lying was one such skill. In most cases, spotting a liar was easy. Most people are unaware of their own micro-expressions or physical twitches. When knowing what to look for, it is easy to spot someone not telling the truth.

Balthier was not one of those easy marks though. The man knew very well how to speak and present himself to instill confidence. Just based on that, the ILO could never fully trust anything he said. He had never given Gemma a reason to fully distrust anything he had said though, until now. There was something about that cloud that threw him off his game. Not much, just enough to allow the Intel operative to know that he was lying. He knew more about the cloud than he was claiming. He knew enough that it made him nervous to be so near to it. All that she needed to do was to figure out what that was.

=-=
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]
M01-059: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36102.0135 ("Shadows and Light")
##########
"Shadows and Light"
Previous posts "Tactical Reset"
##########

"I fight for no one’s sake. I only fight for something deep within my heart."
– Captain Harlock

--==/\==--
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0135

"Maya, can you give me anything more on that cloud?" Although the Native American was sitting in his chair, he barely rested on the edge of the seat as if expecting he would need to get back to his feet.

"Sorry," the Shillian CSciO said, "whatever that cloud is, our sensors are unable to get any sort of readings from it or what is inside of it. The best I can give you at this time is that the small electrical discharges we see dancing on the outer edge of the cloud are exactly what they appear to be, a low-power transfer of electrical energy."

"Captain!" Lt. Gemma cut in. "Aft sensors have just picked up a large group of small ships heading our way. They used the planet to keep their presence hidden from us until the very last second. Configuration is unknown, but there are some very familiar readings from those ships. They appear to have Shadow-Technology incorporated into their systems."

"Great," Zub sighed, the towering Voth clearly realizing that the HATHOR and its crew were in an odd version of being caught between a rock and a hard place.

"RED ALERT!" Commander Mitshiba called out, sending everyone to their combat stations. "Helm, get us out from here. I am sure that this is the last place we want to be stuck in at this time."

"Did I not say that a few seconds ago?" Balthier stated, the man sounding almost annoyed that his earlier warning had not been taken seriously.

"Those ships are coming in hot and ready for a fight," the ILO added. "Power readings are off the charts. Whatever weapons system they have at their disposal is going to shred this ship. Our shields and reinforced outer hull are not going to be enough to ward off an attack of that scale."

"Something is coming out of the cloud," Maya announced, the Shillian unable to hide the concern and dread in her voice.

All eyes turned to the main view screen to see what the CSciO had reported. The first thing everyone saw was a large metallic skull and crossbones with softly glowing red eyes affixed to the front of a ship the likes of which had never been seen or dreamt of by anyone abord the USS HATHOR.

"The ARCADIA," Fran muttered as she shot a quick look at Balthier.

"That thing is *huge*," Ya'Han observes, the ship taking several seconds to fully emerge from the dark cloud. "Sensors are unable to get any sort of readings on that ship," the Nylaan Sec/Tac added. "It is as if it was not there."

"I can assure you that it is there," A'Janni gulped.

"Are those gun turrets?" Misaki wondered aloud as multiple sets of three large cylindrical cannons pivoted into firing position as they seemed to flow over the side of the ship to reach the best possible location in preparation for the battle that was about to happen.

"I see twelve turrets, and they all appear to be targeting those smaller ships coming up being us," Ensign Enel reported from the secondary Tactical station.

"HELM!" The Native American called out, sliding back fully into his chair.

"Evasive maneuver *getting the hell out of here* initiated, Sir," the Caitian acknowledged as he quickly pressed controls on the flight station sending the HATHOR into a sharp turn and out of the line of fire. "Warp drive is not responding."

"There appears to be some sort of energy field being generated by the larger ship, a field that is making it impossible for us to create and hold a warp field," Maya explained.

"Get us as far away as you can using impulse drive," the Native American ordered, thinking that maybe he should have heeded Balthier's earlier warning.

--==/\==--
Setting: Space
Stardate: 36102.0140

The small ships that made up the swarm were an odd mixture of metallic technology and black, shadow biotech. As nightmarish as their appearance might have been, they could not compare to the blood-chilling effect the larger ship radiated.

The space between the two opposing sides of this unexpected conflict soon became filled with small bolts of energy as the small ships fired upon the much larger target, their shots easily finding their mark, but that did not slow the other vessel's advance in the least. Once the first volley was over, the gun turrets returned fire, splitting the emptiness of space with streams of blinding light that easily destroyed anything they came in contact with.

Like the ghost it had been portrayed to be, the larger ship flew through space with uncanny ease, bridging the gap between it and its intended targets by making moves that were, until now, considered to be impossible based on the known laws of physics. Whatever ships had managed to avoid the energy streams from the turrets were now desperately trying to avoid colliding with the ship which seemed to glide in whatever direction it wished.

Of the initial five or six dozen smaller crafts, only a handful remained, and those were quickly dispatched by the larger ship's smaller lateral gunnery turrets. It took less than a minute for the battle to end, and by then only one ship remained, not showing the slightest sign of damage despite what it had gone through.

--==/\==--
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0141

"I have never seen a ship move that way or its hull regenerate that quickly," Sonja said, her astonishment mixed with concern. Based on how quickly the ship had dealt with the fleet of smaller ships, the redhead CEO suspected that they had seen only a fraction of the larger ship's full battle capabilities.

"Is it me or is even the flag regenerating?" Counsellor Dima said, the Trill squinting her eyes and crunching her nose in a visible display of her questioning what she was seeing.

"Sensors are still unable to get any sort of readings from that ship," Maya announced. "Whatever sensor dampening tech it is using it actually radiates outward from the ship making it impossible for us to see anything."

"With all due respect Commander," Doctor Andersson said, the CMO and CNS had returned to the bridge to see what was happening. "I can *see* more than enough to tell you that this is not a normal ship."

"It clearly uses shadow technology, but not in a way that I have ever thought possible," the Chief Engineer noted, the woman still sounding unsure if she was in awe or terrified by what she had just witnessed.

"Captain, we are being hailed," Gemma announced, "and it's on a Federation frequency." The news surprised everyone on the HATHOR's command deck.

"On the main screen," the Native American ordered.

"With all dues respect," Balthier interrupted. "Are you sure? They may be trying to lure us into a sense of false security to make it easier for them to destroy us."

"Twelve turrets, each with three cannons able to fire an energy stream that could easily destroy a Galaxy-Class starship," the Voth Assistant Sec/Tac pointed out. "I doubt they need to get us into a false sense of security to destroy us."

With a nod of his head directed to the ILO who was manning the Operations station, the Captain gave the go-ahead to have his earlier order completed.

[/\] Captain Morningstar, [/\] a clearly humanoid man said as soon as he appeared on the viewscreen. [/\] I hope that you are your ship are unhurt. [/\]

"We are all fine, thank you," Erik replied. "How..."

The man on the viewscreen did not give the Native American Captain time to complete his sentence. [/\] I am glad to hear that. Now, I am sure that Admiral Koniki was less than forthcoming in telling you the real reason why he sent you and your crew here. So, I am offering to answer your questions. The first answer though, I am sorry to say, is that neither one of us can beam over to the other's ship. One of the small prices we have to pay to be where I am. [/\]

"What kind of engines and power system are you using," Paquette jumped in with, her curiosity overwriting any idea or concept of decorum.

The man laughed. [/\] Ever the engineer I see. Well, Sonja, the ARCADIA uses a momentum drive, a small piece of technology we borrowed from the Lokustaar.  I am sure that you have taken notice of my ship, and yes, she was constructed using Shadow tech with a little Iconian know-how thrown in for good measure. [/\]

"Those small ships that were attacking you," the Shillian said, opting to follow Sonja's lead. "They also had Shadow technology incorporated into their systems."

[/\] Quite right, Maya, [/\] the man acknowledged, showing that his knowledge of the HATHOR's personnel went far beyond the Captain's name and rank. [/\] We just did it better, and we are doing our best to make sure that it stays that way. We are not pirates, Captain, we are protecting the galaxy from dangers even you are not aware of, including some of the less honourable dealings of our dear Admiral Koniki. I know that you have no reason to believe me, but you can always ask Xana. I am sure that she will voucher for me, at least I hope she will. I hope that you have forgiven me for leaving the way I did so many years ago. I did not have a choice. [/\]

For obvious reasons, all eyes turned onto the azure-skinned Bolian/Human woman who seemed, as oddly as it might seem, at a loss for words. Without saying anything, Xana reached for a nearby console and terminated the communication with the other ship. Clearly, this was not going to be a simple or short explanation.

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

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-060: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36102.0150 ("A Terrifying Wonder")
“A Terrifying Wonder”
Previous post: “Shadows and Light” by Francois

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0150

With the Captain and Ambassador on a walk through the ship, while they discussed the situation and explored the identity of the ARCADIA's CO, Aki remained on the bridge. The forward viewscreen displayed an unscaled view of the pirate ship which easily filled the entire screen despite being several hundred meters away. For obvious reasons, everyone currently on the command deck could do nothing else but observe in awe the ship they had been sent to stop.

"I have gone through the entire range of frequencies and still the sensors are not able to tell us anything about that ship," Maya reported, the Shillian being the only one who had not spent most of her time studying the image on the forward viewscreen. "In fact, sensors are not even registering the ship at all, it is as if it was not there."

"Would not be much of a ghost ship if we could detect or scan it," Adriana said, an expression of concern engraved on her face as she looked at the near pitch-black hull, a color that helped camouflage its true shape and size.

"You really need to stop with that obsession with ghosts," Ya'Han said, the Nylaan with the bright red hair visibly not enjoying the situation they were in.

"Sensors may not be able to tell us anything about that ship, but we can get a pretty good idea of its size and armament by simply looking at it," A'Janni pointed out.

"Based on what we can see, we can estimate the ship's length to roughly be 400m," Maya reported.

"With the HATHOR being 120m, that makes it more than three times our size," Zub Enel added. "How were we supposed to stop that thing?"

"Still based on our observations, the width and heights are approximately 300m and 175m respectively," the Shillian continued, ignoring the Voth's last question. "The forward section of the hull appears to be made of unknown metal with properties very similar to our Ablative Armour but several times stronger. The rest of the ship seems to be made of the same substance the Lokustaar capital ships possessed, giving it accelerated regenerative as well as sensor blocking capabilities."

"I will admit that the defensive systems of that ship are very impressive," Ya'Han added, "but you cannot ignore its combat capabilities, at least those that we were able to witness. We noticed 12 turrets, each with three large energy cannons able to move across the side of the ship. This gives it a near-perfect 360-degree firing arc, able to adjust its targeting vectors to get the best firing resolution possible. Sensors might not be able to get any sort of readings on the ship or what is inside, but the energy streams that were fired from those cannons during the short battle registered just over 10 exawatts of energy, each."

"That is about as much power as a Galaxy-Class starship can generate as a whole," Sonja gasped. "There are a total of *36* of those cannons, each firing at the same time! You would need all of the power cores of an orbital starbase like the spacedock orbiting EARTH to generate the kind of power required to fire those guns just once."

"Let us not forget the lateral gunnery batteries," Zub Enel pointed out. "There must have been over a dozen of those on each side of the ship. We would have had quite a fight on our hands if we had tried to go up against that small fleet of shadow-hybrid ships, but the ARCADIA dispatched them all in mere seconds."

"I noticed that you did not mention us going up against the ARCADIA," Ya'Han said with a nervous grin.

"I think we all know how *that* battle would have turned out," the Voth sighed. "Even with the HATHOR being able to blink from one place to the other, I suspect that those cun turrets would have been able to lock onto us with relative ease. A single one of those energy streams and we would have been reduced to space dust. I do not believe there is a single ship in the fleet that could hold its own against that thing."

"That might be part of the reason why Admiral Koniki fears that ship and its Captain," Aki theorized. "It would take the whole of Starfleet's resources and ships to even stand a chance against something like that," the Asian woman said before glancing in the Counselor's direction and realizing that the two of them shared the same misgivings and concerns.

"Right now, I guess we should count ourselves lucky that the ship and its Captain appear to be 'friends'," the Counselor/Junior Ambassador said.

"The Breen have a saying," Gemma chimed in. "Never trust a friend with a bigger gun, and there is no denying the fact that the ARCADIA has *several* bigger guns."

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-061: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36102.0155 ("Gorilla")
=-=
“Gorilla”
Previous post: “Shadows and Light” by Francois 

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0155

After the ILO Gemma had quoted the Breem distrust of friends with bigger guns, the Bridge fell silent again like after the ARCADIA’s I’m-Not-A-Pirate captain apologized to Xana for running out on her, and Xana then cut the communication. The gargantuan dreadnaught floated before the HATHOR as potent as a sledgehammer poised over a tick. 

The aSec/Tac Zub Enel focused his golden eyes on the Tactical console. Bars and graphs, all with moving data, framed the same view of the massive ship that filled the main viewer. Most of the data points were flashing yellow as the ship refused to give sensor readings.

“We gotta hit ‘em where they ain’t,” rumbled A’Janni, the bipedal white tiger operating the Flight Control station. His one remaining eye gazed impassively at Ensign Enel as the tall Voth turned from Tactical.

When the furry Caitian offered no further mots of down-home stratagem, Zub Enel asked him, “What do you propose? Where is it they are not?”

The big cat man wrinkled his white and black striped brow in thought. “They exist only in the present. We can jump far forward or far backward in time - and do it in a blink. Even if we spend years in some other time, we can return an instant after we left.”

The scaly aSec/Tac brought a three-fingered hand up to rub contemplatively at his chin. “Go into the past and steer the ARCADIA’s captain into a life of solitary religious service? He would then not be here to threaten us.”

“Or go far enough into the future to find out how someone cracked that impregnable nut,” A’Janni said while waving a paw-hand at the main viewer.

The ExO, Commander Misaki Mitshiba, said from the Science Station, “Any application of temporal solutions violates the Prime Directive. This timeline must move forward unperturbed. Who knows what suffering we might unleash on some world somewhere by altering events in the past or the future. We cannot ethically, morally, or safely win by tinkering with time.”

Their ideas shot down, A’Janni and Zub Enel raised their eyebrows at each other. Their faces grew more contemplative as they tried to figure some other way to handle the dreadnaught should it attack.

Zub Enel’s sensitive nose picked up an extra frisson of stress hormones wafting about the Bridge. Even Balthier’s and Fran’s newer scents to him seemed heavier. He turned his crested head toward the Operations Station. Gemma, the red-headed Intelligence Liaison Officer, was moving her fingers over her display, her eyes narrowed. As if sensing his glance, she turned her head. Coppery hair fell in loose ringlets around her shoulders. Her green eyes studied his face without a hint of emotion.

He said to her, “I have read highly redacted reports about many of this crews’ experiences with the Lokustaar. Even with vast areas of detail missing, I can tell the creatures are strange, nightmare-inducing beasts.”

Her delicately arched eyebrows rose as she waited for him to make some sort of point.

He obliged with, “_They were brilliant and, in their way, had designs on ruling worlds in as many dimensions as possible. Could this ship and captain be part of a Lokustaar plot? My understanding of the race is that they are patient, devious, and extremely persuasive.”

He smelled the stress intensify. He added, “Being confronted once again with this race’s technology must be unsettling. Quite understandable, considering.”

Gemma studied his face silently for several seconds more. In an uncharacteristic show of emotion, her symmetrical face, green eyes, and full lips tightened. Her voice blew like an icy wind across the gap between their duty stations. “‘Unsettling?’ You have no idea what hell that race is capable of, its effect on the crew.”

The Ensign stiffened. He knew he had inadvertently triggered her defenses. The last thing Zub wanted was her assassin personality Anya to appear so she could set him straight for the final time. He spoke with humility. “You are correct. I have no direct experience with the Lokustaar. I am noting that the ARCADIA relies on their technology and that their captain’s behavior fits the general description of a suave and charming Lokustaar agent. It occurs to me that he and that ship, willing or unwitting, could be influenced by a larger plot.”

“I’m glad,” Gemma said, her beautiful face back to icy calm, “that you have finally reached the same place that the rest of us have been on since we first saw the ARCADIA.” She turned back to her console with a dismissive swing of her head and shoulders.

The aSec/Tac felt such a mix of emotions that the downy feathers between his scales stirred. He had sought her opinion, and she shut him down. Her approval was important to him, but so was doing his duties as a Security Chief. He tried to unravel this knot of anger, injured pride, and embarrassment. He closed his hands on the edge of the Tactical Station to keep from apologizing for asking the right question. As he stewed, he realized that the Lokustaar, whether present or not, still held powerful sway.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Ensign Zub Enel
Security/Tactical
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“The less pain we tolerate, the more average we become.”
- Jack Butcher
M01-062: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36102.0210 ("Timely Intervention")
=-=
"Timely Intervention”
Previous post: “Gorilla” by David

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0210

A part of the ILO was annoyed. The Uxali scientist thought that they should have known better. Another part of the woman felt extremely disappointed. As a Bounty Hunter, being fully aware of your surroundings was essential. Failure to do this could quickly prove fatal. Lastly, the officer standing at the OPS station felt a hint of compassion. The El-Aurian counselor Gwenvel understood why so many had made such a simple mistake.

The eyes of the Germanic woman scanned the console, confirming what she already knew. The HATHOR was not equipped with a Temporal Drive. That honor was held fastly by the USS BASTET. Yet, the officers who served on that ship had become used to considering new options. For them, time was no longer an enemy, but rather a tool they could manipulate when in a crisis. It was a credit to their ingenuity, but unfortunately, their plan was dead even before it could start.

Looking at the ship displayed on the main viewscreen. It was easy to understand the sentiments of the crew.  The ARCADIA was equal parts impressive and frightening, there was no denying that. It was also a mystery unwilling to reveal any of its secrets to the inquiring crew of the HATHOR. The ship's Captain had given them one hint though. The ship had been constructed using both Lokustaar and Iconian technology. The ILO thought about that particular piece of information a great deal. Apparently so had the Voth aSec/Tac, something Gemma again noted as being a credit to him.

To Zub and the others, the revelation had served as a warning. Could the ARCADIA be the newest creation of the Lokustaar? A ship meant to create confusion while spreading fear and destruction wherever it went. That idea certainly fell into the Shadow's methods of operating. That said though, there was something that did not fit the pattern. The Iconians had been mentioned, and the presence of their tech in the planetary system supported the claim.  The fact that the Ambassador knew the man in command of the pirate ship also play a heavy role in this entire affair.

The mentioning of the Iconians might not have meant a lot to some. To the ILO though, it proved to be enough for her to question things more closely. The Lokustaar's tech was beyond their ability to scan. The Iconian tech though was another story.

Noticing the way the sensors were being used by the ILO, the CSciO voiced a question. "Lt. Gemma, what are you searching for? You are aware that the outer hull of the ARCADIA is the same substance as the Lokustaar vessels. Our sensors will not be able to penetrate the hull."

The ILO continued her search, ignoring the objection. It took a few seconds before Gemma spoke once again. "We were told that both Lokustaar and Iconian technology were used in building the ARCADIA. I am searching for something that was not conceived by the Shadows.  It will likely be something small, to keep the ship's sensor dampening ability intact. Something inconspicuous. Something that if sensors did pick up, it would likely be ignored. Something like *that*."

The image on the front view screen shifted to a close-up of the upper most section of the ARCADIA. Right next to the flag pole where the black flag was hoisted, a small antenna could be seen.

The Caitian narrowed his one eye as he glared at the image. "What does that have to do with anything?"

The ILO lowered her head, but it was the purple-haired hacker who spoke. "Lokustaar tech cannot be breached. I know, I have tried. That antenna though is not Lokustaar. It is some sort of communication tool. With it, I can access the computer system aboard the ARCADIA."

Cmdr Mitshiba beamed a Cheshire cat smile. "You are going to use their own internal scanners? Brilliant!"

The Nylaan Sec/Tac glanced in the hacker's direction. It was easy to see that Ya'Han did not believe Viras would be able to accomplish this feat. "If the computer inside is Lokustaar in design, you will never be able to get anything from it. If it is Iconian, it will take you days, maybe even weeks to decipher anything useful."

The socially awkward woman continued working, ignoring the latest comment. Viras was not good at dealing with people. Figuring our computer systems though was an entirely different matter. "Done. We have access to their internal sensors."

Zub Enel smiled as he looked down at a stunned silent Ya'Han. "She's good."

It was Lt. Cmdr. Paquette's turn to speak. She knew better than to ask 'how', and focused on the 'what' instead. "What do you have?"

Viras' fingers were a blur as they moved over the operations console. "Reading 40 life forms, all humanoids. Most are Terrans, a couple of Andorians, even a Ferengi. There is another life form though, but I cannot pin it down. It is as if it was everywhere all at the same time."

Sonja nodded her head. "Maybe it is some sort of glitch from your interface with their system."

The theory was sound, save for one important detail. "The computers on board the ARCADIA are of Federation construction. I can assure you, there are no glitches in the interface. There are 40 people on that ship. The 41st member of the crew is something that I cannot identify at this time."

=-=
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]
M01-063: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han/A'Janni: 36102.0220 ("Delayed Reaction")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Delayed Reaction”
Previous posts: "Timely Intervention” by Rachel
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0220

The Sec/Tac was still taking in the size and appearance of the ARCADIA as the conversation on the bridge continued. Memories of her earlier confrontations with the Lokustaar haunted the Nylaan's thoughts, so much so that her hair slowly turned pitch black, hinting to the darkness that was gradually taking over her soul. Her one-on-one dealings with the Shadow Operative known as Mordana had given Ya'Han a unique perspective into the conquering race's methods. That was likely the reason why she felt such anxiety while looking at a ship with so openly displayed the technology from that race.

Hearing that the ILO had figured out a way to access the ship's inner systems further filled the Sec/Tac with dread as she imagined countless possible retaliations, each darker and more gruesome than the one before. The Lokustaar were not a race to be trifled with, and their biotechnology was best left alone. Nothing good ever came from a confrontation as displayed by the way the ARCADIA had so easily disposed of the fleet of smaller ships. Only those in league with these living shadows or someone in the throes of madness would dare to attempt to incorporate such dark technology with their own.

"So there are 40 plus 1 crew members on that ship?" The Caitian was surprised by this discovery and for good reason. The HATHOR, at nearly a third of the size of the ARCADIA, had nearly he same crew compliment leaving Ya'Han and several others to wonder how so few people could manage to operate such an imposing vessel.

The thought of there only being 40 people on the ARCADIA was enough to make the black-haired woman wonder what kind of dark 'magic' was at play. The unknown status of the 41st member of the crew only served to solidify the Nylaan's rapidly growing concerns. There was something mysterious about the ship, and the enigma surrounding the last member of the crew only added to the uncertainty of what they were dealing with. Ya'Han was very familiar with that sense of doubt, having experienced it first-hand when she had gone undercover and joined Mordana's side, leaving behind Jayson without as much as the slightest word or explanation.

"There is a massive computer core on the ARCADIA," the ILO announced, the hacker persona still standing at the operations console. "Most of it appears to be of federation design, but I can pick up distinct Iconian elements that have been incorporated into it."

"That would explain how a ship that size can actually function with only 41 people aboard," the FCO said.

"40 plus one unknown," Gemma corrected, the ILO having returned to her normal, charming self.

"Commander," the Caitian called out with a distinct air of panic in his voice. "Long-range sensors are picking up another fleet approaching our position."

"More of those hybrid fighters?" Zub questioned, the Voth not appearing overly worried recalling how the ARCADIA had taken care of the previous fleet.

"Same general configuration," A'Janni reported.

"A lot larger," Gemma added. "We are being hailed by the ARCADIA."

"On screen," Commander Mitshiba ordered.

[/\] I am sure that you see what is heading our way, [/\] the ARCADIA's Captain said. [/\] Normally we would engage head on, but there is no way that I can vouch for your safety. Judging by their size and numbers, there is no way that we will be able to stop them all during the initial encounter. My guess, which is based on experience dealing with those things, is that they will try to split forcing the ARCADIA to divide its attacks leaving us and you more vulnerable. My suggestion is for you to follow us out of here. We will slow down to allow you to follow. [/\]

"If you could deactivate your dampening field, we would be able to engage our warp drive and follow you," Mitshiba explained.

[/\] We will use our shadow drive to leave this area but will remain within range of your long-ranger sensors. You will then be able to follow us. That should give us a little more time to plan our next move. [/\]

"Thank you, but that will not be necessary," Mitshiba said as she took over the Captain's chair. "Just give us the coordinate of your final destination. Once we are able to engage our warp drive we will be able to meet you there."

The man on the view screen laughed. [/\] So Koniki was able to get the Blink-Drive operational, [/\] the Pirate Captain chuckled. [/\] Very well, see you on the other side. Transmitting coordinates now. [/\]

"Coordinate have been received," the FCO reported.

"Helm, set course for those coordinates. Engineering, stand by to engage the blink drive as soon as we are free from that dampening field," the Asian woman ordered.

"Are you sure that is a prudent decision?" Ya'Han questioned, her misgivings as clear as could be in her voice.

"Our mission is still to stop that ship, so right now I see no reason for us not to follow it, that is unless you feel comfortable with us engaging those ships heading our way."

Ya'Han remained silent, shaking her head after a few seconds.

"Captain Morningstar to the bridge!" Mitshiba said. "Attention all hands, stand by for blink drive activation."

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

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

Jayson Sousa [jaysonstatham22@gmail.com]

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-064: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36102.0240 ("A New Level of Weird")
=-=
“A New Level of Weird”
Previous posts: "Delayed Reaction" by Hanali and Jayson
=-=

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36102.0240

With the bridge of the HATHOR as small as it was, both the CMO and CSN decided to return to Sickbay and avoid getting underfoot as they followed the ARCADIA to wherever it was heading. This, of course, would give Sofia and Nicole some time alone to talk and just enjoy each other's company, something that was proving to be increasingly more difficult to do. Instant travel may have many advantages, but there were some distinct drawbacks, such as being able to just sit back and take a few moments for yourself.

"There is something weird about that ship," Dima said as soon as the joint Trill stepped into the room. Nicole had not said a thing during their short trek from the bridge to sickbay and had, in fact, walked so fast that Sofia had fallen behind by several steps.

"Well, that didn't take long," Andersson chuckled as she struggled to catch her breath.

"What didn't take long?" Nicole asked after pivoting on her heels to face the out-of-breath grinning woman that was just now stepping through the opened doorway.

"It didn't take long for you to talk about the ARCADIA," Sofia said. "I figured that we would end up on that subject at some point, but I had hoped that we would be able to talk about something else first."

"I'm sorry," the Trill sheepishly said. "It is just that even with all of the lifetimes of experiences I possess, I have never seen anything like it. The shape, the style, the appearance, even after dealing with the Lokustaar and their ships, which were as alien as could be, the ARCADIA is beyond anything that I could have ever imagined. To be completely honest with you, there is something *mysterious* about that ship, something that draws me to it."

"Should I be jealous?" the CMO teased. Nicole did not respond, instead, she simply narrowed her eyes and glared at the blonde-haired woman. Thinking it best to not linger on that particular exchange, Sofia continued. "I would have expected Misaki, Maya, Gemma, or even Sonja to say something like that," the physician said. "Both Misaki and Maya would have a field day as scientists if they were given even half a chance to study the ARCADIA and all of its systems. Gemma, depending on the personality that is in control at the time, would find a dozen reasons to lose herself in that ship, and Sonja, well, as the Chief Engineer, she would spend all of her time trying to figure out that 'inertia drive' that was earlier mentioned. I suspected that your curiosity would be piqued, but not to an extent that would match theirs."

"I know," Nicole sadly agreed. "I can't explain it either. All I know is that there is something about that ship that just calls out to me. If I were a telepath, I would say that there is a powerful presence reaching out, be it someone on the ship or the ship itself."

"The ship itself?" Sofia gasped. "You are kidding, right?"

"I wish I was," the joint Trill said casting her gaze beyond the walls of sickbay as if she could see the ship in question. "As I said, there is something weird about that ship, something that I cannot explain, something that I also cannot ignore or dismiss."

"You are scaring me," the doctor said, taking the counselor's hands into her own. "I have come to accept some of the weird things that slug in your belly makes you do and say, but this is beyond anything that you have ever done before.  If I did not know better, I might actually believe all those ghost stories Adriana was talking about are true. That would be the only way for me to explain what you are feeling and expressing. The ARCADIA is a ship, not a living entity, so there is no way that you or anyone else could *feel* it the way you have just described."

"Are you sure?" Dima asked as he turned to look straight at Andersson.  "We all agree that we have never seen or dealt with anything like the ARCADIA. We know, based on what the ship's own captain said, that it was created using Lokustaar and Iconian technology, two powerful and ancient species that we know very little about.  Who is to say that merging those two technologies would not create something new, some kind of life force that is beyond our understanding or ability to detect, let alone explain?  All I know is this: that ship is more than it appears. The fact that there are only 40 people aboard is weird enough, but that one extra crew member that we are unable to identify pushes this to an entirely different level."

"If you are right," the physician said feeling a growing tightness in her throat. "That would make the ARCADIA even more frightening than it already is, and I can assure you that I am already scared more than enough as it is thanks to it."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

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

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-065: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36102.0250 ("Inner Voices")
=-=
"Inner Voices”
Previous post: “A New Level of Weird” by Tiffany

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0250

Following the completion of the space jump, the ILO needed to figure out where the HATHOR was. The coordinates provided by the CO o the ARCADIA were helpful, very helpful. They allowed the ship to perform a safe jump into an unknown region of space. With both ships out of reach of the approaching fleet, Gemma could focus on figuring out where they were.

A quick scan of the Operations console confirmed what the ILO expected. "As suspected, the coordinate provided took us to the other side of the ARGALIS CLUSTER. The nearby proximity of a class 2 pulsar is limiting our sensor range."

The explorer from RUBICUN III grinned. Although no one could see her, Gemma could feel the woman's excitement. **Imagine the places we could explore if we took the time and used this wonderful drive to its limits. There would be no world, no region of space out of our reach.**

Mitshiba nodded her head knowingly. "That would make this area a perfect place to set up a secret base of operation. With limited sensor capabilities, locating the ARCADIA would be impossible."

The fiery-haired bounty hunter let her thoughts be known next. **There is no such thing as the *perfect* hiding place. All an area like this serves to do is to lure yourself into a false sense of safety. If someone wants to find you, nothing will stop them. I know, I'm the one usually doing the finding.**

Ya'Han sighed. "The ARCADIA was impossible to locate before we came here. Hiding in this area of space is just overkill. That or a sign of paranoia, something that the Lokustaar know something about."

The El-Aurian Counselor sighed as well. **The Lokustaar are experts at playing mind games. They can build on people's fears like no one else can. They can also destroy everything using those same fears. When used against someone, paranoia can prove to be a deadly weapon. How many civilizations were they able to paralyze or even destroy without firing a single shot?**

The Shillian scientist offered her opinion next. "We have to keep in mind that we may be dealing with higher-level technology. Looking at the ARCADIA, it is very probable that its adversaries possess similar technology. We know that the ships we encountered earlier are also using shadow technology. They may not be as sophisticated, but they are hybrids nonetheless. Therefore, their sensors may be far superior to ours. The extra protection offered by the pulsar might be essential to keep us safe."

The Nylaan chuckled sarcastically. "I don't think that staying safe is much of an issue for the ARCADIA. That said, I do understand where you are coming from. There is a lot about shadow technology that we do not know about, and that includes both offensive and defensive capabilities."

The next voice was that of someone Gemma had never heard before. She knew that it belonged with the others she heard before. She also knew that the woman had never before now made her presence known. **Yes, there is a lot about the Shadows they do not know. They wait in the darkest recesses, feeding on fears, creating distrust. Their technology is just a tool, a means to spread who and what they are across all dimensions. They should consider themselves lucky that they do not know. If they did, the knowledge would consume them whole. Their souls would freeze while their flesh would burn.  That ship is an abomination, an insult to what came before it. The Lokustaar are a great many things, but their patience is eternal. One day, they will come to reclaim what was theirs. On that day, the ARCADIA will be destroyed and all who knew about it will be erased from existence.**

The ILO remained silent. Her vacant gaze staring at the image on the main viewscreen. Gemma had no idea who that woman was. All she knew was that, like the Lokustaar, she was to be feared.

=-=
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]
M01-066: USS HATHOR: Morningstar: 36102.0300 ("Overdue Explanation")
##########
"Overdue Explanation"
Previous posts "Inner Voices"
##########

"We are men of action. Lies do not become us."
― Westley, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts 

--==/\==--
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0300

The Native American sat in his chair at the center of the bridge, his gaze locked on the imposing form of the ARCADIA which stood motionless against the backdrop of distant, unknown stars. Following the rather lengthy discussion with Ambassador Bonviva, Captain Morningstar had a somewhat better understanding of the man in command of that ship. There were still a great many questions left to be answered, but at least now Erik had a general idea of what to expect.

"Captain," Gemma announced from the Operations station, "we are being hailed by the ARCADIA."

"It's about time," Erik muttered to himself. Following Xana's recommendations, the Captain had returned to the bridge to wait to be contacted. This would give the CO of the ARCADIA time to do everything he needed to ensure the safety of both his ship and that of the HATHOR. "On screen!"

[/\] Sorry for the delay, Captain Morningstar. Just needed to make sure that we were not followed or tracked, but given what I just saw from your ship, I doubt that anyone would be able to follow you if you did not want them to. [/\] The man's smile disarming, almost infectious, making most feel quite comfortable in dealing with him, most meaning everyone but Balthier and Fran. Whatever history stood between them; it had clearly posed them on opposite sides of more than one issue.

Morningstar briefly nodded his understanding. "Now, Captain Antares, would it be possible for you to explain what is going on here? Obviously, you know Admiral Koniki and the reason why we have been sent here, but it is equally evident that we have not been told the whole story."

[/\] Captain *Antares*? [/\] The man said in a distinct teasing tone as he looked at the Bolian/Human woman whose azure skin appeared to be ever so slightly darker than usual.

"Yes, Robert," Xana sighed while still managing to allow a faint grin to form on her lips for a brief moment. "I thought being more professional would be more conducive to the discussion and avoid more colourful descriptives to be heard by those few innocents you have yet to corrupt."

Captain Antares burst out laughing. If the Ambassador's words had been meant to insult him in any way, it was easy to see that the attack had failed. [/\] I am quite certain that both you and Charles would be able to use a dictionary full of 'colourful descriptives' towards me. If it makes you feel any better, rest assured that I have been called worse by some of this area's most prominent scum. [/\]

"You know what they say," Bonviva grinned dryly. "It takes one to know one."

The majority of the bridge officers quickly looked at the Ambassador, each trying to figure out what kind of relationship the two had. It was difficult to pin it down but it was easy to see that whatever the two of them shared extended far beyond the simple concept of being 'friend or foe'.

[/\] Now that the happy reunion is out of the way, [/\] Robert said with a genuine smile, [/\] Let's move on to the Q&A portion of our program. To make things a little easier, I will give you the quick and dirty version of what is happening in this region of the cosmos. [/\]

The bridge personnel appeared honestly intrigued, their attention locked on the main view screen and the man whose head and torso was displayed on it. 

"Let me guess," Counsellor Lopez sighed, Adriana letting her suspensions known to all present. "You Starfleet and came here in search of adventure and fame, discovered some dark plot and decided to oppose it, and that under the banner of the rightness and galactic justice."

[/\] Close, [/\] Captain Antares said with a smile before shifting his gaze onto the Bolian/Human Ambassador. [/\] She's one of yours, isn't she? I would recognize that sarcastic disbelief anywhere. [/\] Robert paused for a few seconds and turned his attention back onto the HATHOR's Commanding Officer. [/\] Yes, I did leave Starfleet, but not for adventure and fame. I grew tired of the politics, the lies and the underhanded methods that I was being asked to either support or go up against. The double standards just became too much for me to take, so I left and went as far as I could, which brought me here, to the ARGALIS CLUSTER.  As for discovering some dark plot, that was *after* the War of Shadows.  The Federation was not the only one fighting the Lokustaar and its allies, and there were a lot more of those than popular belief. When those living shadows were finally driven back to the dimension they came from, their allies and associates were left behind to pick up the pieces. [/\]

"That explains the hybrid ships we saw earlier," the red-haired Engineer noted. "With the Lokustaar here to help them, they did their best to incorporate what they could with what they had. Still, those ships are powerful."

[/\] Very powerful, [/\] the ARCADIA's CO agreed. [/\] Even when there was just a handful of them, they threatened to take over the entire cluster, killing anyone that stood in their way. So, with a few friends, we came up with a plan, to create a ship that would be able to stand up to those goons. [/\]

"That is where the Iconian technology comes into play," the Shillian scientist announced. "There is no way that those who possessed Shadow technology would share their knowledge or even allow you to take hold of any of their ships, so you used the portals to get what you needed without being detected."

[/\] That is some smart officers you have with you, Captain Morningstar, [/\] Antares noted with a smile. [/\] I can see why Charles decided to send all of you here to stop me, but maybe that will end up playing against him. Being smart also means that you are not the type to blindly follow orders. [/\]

"Why did the Admiral send us after you now instead of earlier?" Morningstar asked of no one in particular. "With the resources of NEW ALEXANDRIA, he could have sent a fleet after you. He could have also sent the HATHOR the moment the new Blink Drive was operational, so this means that you were not a priority for him, at least not until recently. Therefore, you did something that moved you up his hit list or he sent us here without realizing that we would run into you, which would mean that you took something important from him, something that was on the USS NILE."

[/\] I can see there is no reason for me to even try to keep any secrets from any of you, [/\] Antares said, his demeanour and speech pattern growing more serious with each word spoken. [/\] The crew of the NILE somehow managed to get their hands on a piece of Shadow technology. I just could not allow it to fall into Charles' hands, so using the ARCADIA we intercepted and took the item from them. I was not sure if the 'Admiral' was able to figure out that it was me in charge of the operation, but I knew that he seemed more than happy to leave us alone for the time being while we took care of the Lokustaar's allies. Us taking that piece of equipment changed things and made it personal for him. [/\]

"Who are these *allies* of the Lokustaar?" Commander Mitshiba inquired figuring that they had more than enough background information to understand what was happening.

[/\] A random collection of crooks, thieves and wannabes, [/\] Robert replied. [/\] They were promised great power if they helped, so it did not take a lot of convincing to get them to follow the Lokustaar wherever they might lead. When the Shadows were defeated, the group wasted no time claiming what they believed was theirs and with some of the new technology at their disposal, they could have easily accomplished their goal. [/\]

"They never expected that you would find a way to stop them," Ensign Enel said, his towering height easily allowing him to be part of the conversation even while standing at the back of the bridge."

[/\] Well, slowed them down at the very least, [/\] Captain Antares amended. [/\] Despite the ARCADIA's power, we have yet to locate their base of operations. The best we have been able to accomplish is to make sure they do not have enough ships to fully act on their claim of supremacy over the ARGALIS CLUSTER and other nearby areas and systems. [/\]

"I find that hard to believe," Ya'Han noted. "I mean, based on what we have seen your ship do, it is difficult to imagine it not being able to stop a group of renegades from building a fleet of ships."

[/\] One of the advantages of the Lokustaar vessels is that they are not *built* but grown, [/\] Robert explained. [/\] This greatly speeds up the process allowing them to send ships out almost as quickly as we destroy them. Part of the problem now is that we are victims of our own success. We have been able to destroy every ship that we came across, but that has forced them to speed up production. This has led us to fall behind and it was part of the reason why we wanted to make sure that the stolen technology that was on the USS NILE never reached NEW ALEXANDRIA. [/\]

"I can imagine that the last thing you and your crew wanted to have to deal with was another fleet of hybrid ships, this one originating from NEW ALEXANDRIA," the Caitian Flight Control Officer said.  "Come to think of it, I am not overly fond of the idea of hybrid shadow ships flying all over the Alpha and Beta quadrants."

"Our orders were to stop the ARCADIA and retrieve what was taken from the NILE," Gemma said, taking the obvious opposing position in this conversation. "We were also instructed to capture the person in command of the ship so that they could be interrogated and brought to justice. There was no mention of us helping him in whatever self-imposed mission they are on."

"Really?" Sonja gasped. "You want us to arrest that man even after what he has told us? Don't tell me that you would rather go up against that fleet of hybrid ships alone only to have Admiral Koniki build a fleet of his own."

"I am not," the ILO clarified. "I am simply stating the facts. Any decisions going against our orders could be considered a court-martial offence for the Captain and anyone who follows him."  The bridge went silent for several seconds before Gemma continued. "That said, you know that we will all follow you, Captain."

[/\] Smart and courageous, [/\] Captain Antares said. [/\] Now, before you make a decision that you might regret, please consider that I have no idea how you or your ship would be able to help us. Thanks to the Lokustaar technology those hybrid ships utilize, they are much more powerful than they appear to be. [/\]

"So is the HATHOR," Paquette pointed out. "She may be small but she is far more powerful than she appears, and the Blink drive modified to permit us to do quick back-to-back jumps. We might be able to go places where the ARCADIA has not been able to go, thus giving us a better chance to figuring out where those ships are being built."

"Grown," Gemma corrected.

"Whatever," the Chief Engineer dismissed.

[/\] You are willing to lend a hand, I am more than happy to accept the assistance, [/\] Captain Antares said. [/\] Right now, it is only a matter of time before there are too many of those ships for the ARCADIA to handle alone. If we can locate their base of operations and destroy it, we could save the Federation and all other major power in the galaxy from having to face another war. [/\]

"Let me discuss this with my crew first," the Native American said.

[/\] Of course. I'll be right here waiting for your call. ARCADIA out. [/\]

--==(/\)==--
Francois Charette {fcharette1969@gmail.com}

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-067: USS HATHOR: Mitshiba: 36102.0330 ("Discussion")
“Discussion”
Previous post: “Overdue Explanation” by Francois

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.03300

Aki watched and listened as the others discussed the situation, voicing both support and objections to the idea of helping Captain Antares and the ARCADIA. As the discussion went on, the Asian woman could not help but recall something Captain Iverson had once said about Admiral Koniki.

"You don't become the head of Starfleet Intelligence and later Commander of an ultra-secret base of operations by thinking like everyone else. Koniki is a brilliant man and strategist, always having plans within plans, each with its own back-up and alternative. The man plays by his own rules, and for the most part, one way or another everyone else does what they were meant to do, whether they realize it or not."

Those words echoed in Mitshiba's head as she silently wondered if the possibility of the HATHOR joining the ARCADIA was something the Admiral had envisioned. The man was not perfect in his predictions, or the War of Shadows and many other things would have unfolded very differently, but Aki did note that the Admiral never seemed all that surprised by anything that happened, no matter how unexpected it might have been.

"You seem to be in another galaxy," the ILO said, pulling the Asian woman out of her thoughts only to realize that it was not Gemma standing next to her but rather the El-Aurian Counselor Gwenvel. "Is the prospect of us assisting Captain Antares that disturbing to you?"

Aki hesitated to reply. Gemma had made it evident that her option was to follow orders as they were given to them with no room for deviation, or maybe it had just been the woman's way to make sure everyone understood the possible repercussions of their decisions. Judging by the way Erik was leading this unofficial meeting, it was plain to see that he stood on the other side of this debate. Captain Morningstar's repeated oppositions to the Admiral were no secret, and it made sense that he would be the one to consider siding with the ARCADIA on their quest.  The question that hunted the Asian woman was whether or not this had been all part of Koniki's plans. "There are a few things that are troubling me, yes, but strangely enough assisting Captain Antares is not one of them. I understand his motives and agree with his actions.  We knew that there were many who sided with the Lokustaar during the war, expecting various rewards for their allegiances. With the Shadows no longer calling the shots though, it was only a matter of time before they came out of the woodworks. It does seem logical for us to deal with them here and now instead of waiting for them to build a fleet that we might not be able to stand against."

As the Asian woman looked into the eyes of the El-Aurian, but it was the narrowed killer eyes of the Russian huntress that were looking back at her. "Logic rarely has anything to do in a war," Anya whispered, her thick accent only adding to the foreboding significance of her words. "It is all a matter of survival, of defeating your opponent, whoever they may be before they turn you into nothingness. The universe is ruthless, and we have to be equally ruthless if we are meant to survive."

There was something truly frightening about the woman and that well above and beyond her reputation for being dangerous to deal with on any level. There was a calm coldness about her words, her voice carrying a tone of absolute certainty that left no doubt in Aki's mind that if it came down to it, the Russian Huntress would not hesitate to be as ruthless, if not more, than the universe around her.

"What are your thoughts Commander?" Captain Morningstar asked, surprising Aki and in some ways Anya who quickly gave way back to Gemma, an unexpected turn of even given that the huntress was famed to not be scared of anything.

The Asian woman took a moment to carefully consider her words. "Like so many things, this is not as simple as we would like it to be. Although the question is to either help Captain Antares or not, the repercussions from both of these options are quite far-reaching. If we decide to follow our orders and arrest the ARCADIA's CO, that is if we can successfully do that, it will leave the ARGALIS CLUSTER undefended."

"That ship packs quite a punch," Sonja said, the Chief Engineer evidently in awe of the ship and its abilities.  "We only saw the ARCADIA in action for a short while, but there is no doubt in my mind that if they wanted, they could easily leave us in the dust or blast us *into* that same dust."

"That brings us to the second option," Aki continued. "Siding with the Captain Antares and the ARCADIA will not only force us to defy the Admiral's orders but may very well place a sizeable target on our backs. If we do somehow manage to survive the attack against the base of operations, we might end up facing an even worse fate at the hands of Koniki."

"I am sure that the Admiral would understand our decision once he is provided with all of the information we have gathered, both before and future," the Ambassador said.

"The Admiral sent us here to retake the Lokustaar technology that was taken from the NILE," Morningstar clarified. "Even if we do prevent another war, I doubt that he will be overly forgiving for letting that valuable piece of tech slip from his grasp."

"Like I said," Mitshiba continued, "things are not as simple as we would like them to be."

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977
M01-068: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36102.0335 ("Preemption")
=-=
"Preemption"
Previous post: "Discussion" by Dawn

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0335

The discussion on the Bridge petered into temporary silence as the crew considered the merits of following, or abandoning, or modifying Admiral Koniki's orders to detain Captain Antares of the dreadnaught ARCADIA and retake the Lokustaar technology stolen from the USS NILE.

On the main viewer, the sinister pirate ship was lit repeatedly by flashes of blue-white lightning. The ARCADIA's hull remained a deeper black than space itself, clearly absorbing all light. The silver skull and crossbones across its colossal bow flashed, lending the dreadnaught a great blinking toothless grin of death.

The main viewer's perspective shifted smoothly upward from the ship. Like a celestial lighthouse, a white dot rotated with bright beams projecting from either pole. The blue-white beams cut across the hull of the ARCADIA at an angle. They were brilliant enough to cause the Bridge to strobe in rapid pulses.

The ExO, Misaki Mitshiba, said from the Science Station, "This is a quite ordinary pulsar, a neutron star with the mass of a star crushed down to the size of a large city. Those beams cover an electromagnetic spectrum from gamma rays through optical into radio waves. Its luminosity is 10% less than the SUN in the TERRAN system. The pulsar isn't much of a beacon given all the gas and dust in the ARGALIAN CLUSTER. You have to know exactly where to look for it, which defeats using it for navigation. It completes one full rotation every 0.43 seconds. That is slow for a pulsar and means it is quite old and slowing down. It'll cease to pulse in a few hundred thousand years."

Fran, tall and alluring in her barely-there lingerie armor, stood hipshot near A'Janni, the massive white tiger of a man at the Flight Control Station. Her long rabbit ears curled in his direction as she spoke softly to the cat man; her contralto voice made all the more seductive by her exotic accent. "Amazing we caught up with the ARCADIA in one hop. This Blink Drive of yours is completely new to me. I had no idea what to expect." Her large deep red eyes gazed directly at him.

A'Janni, enjoying the focus of her attention on him, grinned so enthusiastically that his razor-sharp canines showed. "Blinks *can* be disorienting."

She swayed unsteadily. Her hand shot out toward the furry Caitian. Long fingers ending in white claws grabbed him by his broad shoulder. "Disorienting enough that I need to hold onto you for a moment."

A'Janni's remaining white eye shone from his white and black striped face. "Yes. Please."

Her grip tightened enough for her claws to make A'Janni's proud expression pinch in pain. In quick succession, her ears collapsed, eyes crossed, and head lolled back. She spoke a language the universal translator didn't interpret. "Þú ert fýluköttur." Her knees buckled.

Balthier moved with a speed and grace he'd never shown before. He bent and caught the now unconscious rabbit-woman before she had fully crumpled to the Bridge floor. With surprising strength, he straightened, lifting her entire weight in his arms. She lay supine; her dark, pretty face turned outward; her ears dangled loosely. Her eyes were closed but fluttered like she was in a dream state.

"Sickbay," Doctor Sofia Andersson said. She and Counselor Nicole Dima had been standing near each other during the mission discussion on the Bridge. They now led Balthier in quick steps.

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36102.0335

Balthier carried in Fran's limp body. The blonde doctor began to radiate professional calm. She stepped behind the biobed and faced Balthier. She patted the empty bed. "Put the young lady here."

He smiled at Sofia as he laid Fran down in the right direction so that her head was beneath the sensor array at the head of the bed. "She would be most amused at your description of her."

Mentally reviewing Fran's collapse on the Bridge, Sofia said, "The surging power fields and other related dimensional hanky-panky of these jumps can be rough on first-timers. Also, that pulsar was throwing flashing lights all over the Bridge. Has she ever shown sensitivity to blinking lights?"

Balthier's usually confident expression had changed to deep caring as he carefully arranged Fran's floppy ears down either side of her head. He glanced at Sofia and Nicole as they hovered nearby. "This," he indicated Fran lying unconscious, "is a rare state for her. I have known her for, well, let's say forever. She is unusually resilient, even for a Viera. She has never simply collapsed like this." His handsome face showed genuine concern.

Sofia felt warmed by the man's evident affection for the unconscious rabbit lady. Whatever the two of them were or were up to, there was a deep bond between them. She smiled encouragingly. "I will give her a comprehensive set of medical scans." She glanced down at Fran and then back up at him. "You, too, were part of this jump. You saw the flashing lights. How are *you* feeling?"

He retreated several steps. "Honestly, I'm fine. Please give Fran your full attention. I promise to stay out of your way and watch quietly."

Nicole, the joined-Trill, narrowed her blue eyes. Balthier was reluctant to be scanned. She didn't know what that meant, but her symbiont's experiences of many lifetimes told her his retreat had less to do with medical phobia and more to do with secrets he wanted to keep.

The monitors over Fran's head thumped with her heartbeat. Her breathing rate and other vitals formed red, purple, and green squiggly lines and bar graphs that all pulsed up and down in rhythm uniquely her own. Sofia Andersson's handheld medical sensor added a soft warble. When the Chief Medical Officer consulted the scanner's readout, her pretty face tensed.

Nicole glanced at Balthier to judge his distance from Fran. He seemed an ordinary human despite his good looks. She lowered her voice to Sofia so he wouldn't overhear. "You've found something?"

Sofia's brown-eyed gaze traveled quickly to Balthier then into Nicole's bright blue eyes. She raised the handheld and whispered, "This 'young lady' is well over 50."

"A girl, really," the joined Trill said. After so many lifetimes experienced by her symbiont, who could live at least 550 years, half a century seemed a short sprint.

Dr. Andersson raised her eyebrows. "Even so, I'd give a lot to have her long black eyelashes."

A'Janni came into Sickbay and strode past Balthier. He arrived at the biobed and gazed down at the unconscious Fran. "Since we're just drifting along with the ARCADIA, I thought I'd check on how she is doing."

Balthier stated, his tone unequivocal, "How she is doing is none of your concern."

The huge white tiger of a man, easily a head taller than Balthier, turned slowly, his face menacing. His deep voice took on a feral growl. The pupil of his one remaining white eye closed to a tiny dot. "Excuse me?"

Balthier's face colored a shade of overripe plum. He spoke slowly and distinctly. "*She* is my concern. Go fly your 'ship.'" The word ‘ship’ came out as an insult.

A'Janni's paw-hands folded into hard fists. His lips parted in an M-shaped snarl that revealed a set of sharp intermeshed teeth.

Balthier's handsome face solidified into determination. He made fists. He leaned toward the Flight Control Officer despite their size difference.

"Excuse me," interrupted Zub Enel, the giant lizard man and Assistant Chief of Security. "Lt. A'Janni, the ARCADIA is on the move. Our decision of whether or not to join Captain Antares may be upon us. We need you at Flight Control."

Disregarding the scaly Voth's announcement, the hulking bipedal tiger and the smarmy humanoid glared at each other. Neither appeared willing to back down from a fight over Fran.

Sofia said crisply, "Balthier, I need more of Fran's medical history. Lt. A'Janni, Fran is stable and under the best care possible. For all concerned, you should return to your duty station. Immediately."

A'Janni emitted a deep growl. He lowered his fists and broke eye contact with Balthier. He headed back toward the Bridge.

Dr. Andersson and Zub Enel exchanged mutually grateful looks.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

"Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance."
~ Robert Quillen
M01-069: USS HATHOR: Andersson: 36102.0345 ("A Close Call")
=-=
“A Close Call”
Previous posts: "Preemption" by David
=-=

Setting: USS HATHOR, Sickbay
Stardate: 36102.0345

As soon as A'janni stepped out of Sickbay, Nic leaned in toward Sofia, a distinct expression of relief present on her Trill features. "That was close," the Counselor whispered to the Doctor, making sure that Balthier did not overhear what was being said.

"He has had a difficult love life," Andersson mentioned, referring to the Caitian and his feelings for the late Kzinti Queen Sheetora. "I thought that Gemma taking on the likeness and personality of the queen was going to lead to his breaking, but that honor might end up falling on her shoulders," the CMO continued, this time referring to the Viera rabbit woman laying unconscious on the medical bed.

"There is definitely something else at play here," Dima said, the joint Trill keeping her eyes on the helpless Viera woman. "A'Janni may be a great many things, but he is not the type to allow himself to be so easily taken by mere infatuation, no matter how exotic a woman might be." Nicole could not argue that Fran possessed unique charms. Even in the state she was in, a strange aura surrounded the Veira woman; an undetectable field that the joint Trill was almost ready to refer to as being 'magical' in one way or another.

"Please tell me that you are not going to try and tell me that love and affection are nothing more than a biological reaction to pheromones and other bodily chemicals?" Sofia sighed, rolling her eyes with deeply-felt disappointment.

"I am not *telling* you anything that you do not already know," Nic quietly countered while still displaying a smile on her lips. "That said, I suspect that there is something more going on here. A'Janni and Zub have nearly come to blows more than once since we encountered her, and if it had not been for your quick intervention, I have no doubts that our FCO would have gone *feral* on our guest."

"I get your point," Sofia murmured. "I will add some tests to my list, just to make sure of a few things. In the meantime, might I suggest that you speak with Balthier? As charming as he may be, he is hiding something. I have no idea what, but I am sure that he is not telling us everything."

Nicole had to contain her amusement and delight. "I thought *I* was the Counselor here," the joint Trill teased. "You figure out what is going on with Fran, and I will take care of Balthier. Hopefully, one of us will be able to discover something useful."

The physician smiled and nodded her head in acknowledgment, "Good luck," she whispered to the Counselor just before she turned and made her way to the man standing well out of the way. This left Andersson alone with her patient. The Viera looked so peaceful, like the mythical sleeping beauty, that is if she had even been meant to have soft fur and long ears.

As the tricorder carefully hovered over the rabbit-woman so did the physician's eyes, taking in all of the external exotic features, no matter how small or delicate. Sofia was so focused on her patient's body that she failed to notice that Fran's eyes had suddenly opened. Even before the CMO could realize what was happening, the now conscious woman had taken a solid hold of Andersson's wrist halting the motion of the tricorder.

"What are you doing?" Fran demanded, her ears standing at their fullest length, scanning the woman's surroundings with an alarming intensity.

"The Doctor was just making sure that you are alright," Balthier said, interrupting whatever conversation Nicole and he had started. "You have nothing to worry about. We were just concerned after you fainted on the bridge."

Fran accepted Balthier's explanation without hesitation and released her hold on Sofia's wrist, a gesture that the CMO was more than thankful for now that she had sampled the Viera's full physical strength.

"I am sorry," the rabbit woman said, quickly kicking her legs off the examination bed and gracefully landing on her feet displaying agility and balance that should not have been there, at least no for a little while longer.

"Thank you, Doctor," Balthier said, inviting his companion to take his hand. "We are most grateful for everything you have done," he added before both Fran and he made a quick exit out of Sickbay leaving a bemused physician and Counselor behind to wonder what had just happened.

"I do not think I have ever seen either one of them this jumpy," Nicole pointed out.

"Something peculiar is going on here," Sofia grumbled. "Something very peculiar indeed."

=-=
Tiffany Reeve

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

Executive Officer / Intel Liaison Officer
USS ANUBIS
M01-070: USS HATHOR: Paquette: 36102.0400 ("More Unexpected Developments")
"More Unexpected Developments"
the previous post was Tiffany's "A Close Call"

=====
Setting: USS HATHOR, Main Engineering
Stardate: 36102.0400

As soon as the ARCADIA started moving once again, the redhead Engineer rushed back to her domain, just in case something unexpected happened. The reason for this was that so far, pretty much the entire mission had been one unexpected thing after another. It started with the unusual properties of the ARGALIS CLUSTER, next was the strange encounters the crew made followed by the welcoming of unforeseen allies. From there, events brought them to find a spaceship born out of the twisted mind of a dark and deranged individual. Based on that progression, there was no telling what might happen next.

The pirate vessel they were now following was nothing short of a horrific machine, a nightmare brought into the real world. It was a mixture of technologies that should never have seen the light of day, let alone be set loose in any region of space. Its mere appearance was enough to scare most into running away screaming, and its firepower, at least what they had so far seen of it, was enough to freeze a man's soul while he unwillingly emptied his bowels. Maybe that was why Sonja found herself so enthralled by the ship as it was something she could never have imagined in her wildest dreams or nightmares. This left the Chief Engineer with one lingering question; what other secrets did the ship hold?

"Engine room, Paquette to Maya," the Chief Engineer called out. "Are you tracking the ARCADIA as I requested?"

=/\= Of course, =/\= the Chief Science Officer promptly replied. =/\= At least I am trying. Sensors are not tracking the ship or any sort of propulsion wake. The best we can do is to visually track the ship since not even the energy output of its engines registers on our scans.  If it was not for us looking at it, there would be no way to know that the ARCADIA was even there. =/\=

Frustration and admiration mounted in the Chief Engineer as the woman desperately attempted to figure out if she loved or loathed the mysterious vessel. Without knowing more about how the ARCADIA functioned, Sonja was left to base her decision on what they could see as well as what little they knew of the two races whose technology had been fused to create something unimaginable. Just the mention of the Lokustaar was enough to make the redhead growl with anger as she recalled the numerous battles and countless casualties that this trans-dimensional race was responsible for. On the other hand, the Iconians were a legendary, mystical force. The simple mention of their name commanded immediate respect and admiration.

"What about using echolocation?" Sonja suggested.

=/\= Aside from the fact that sound does not travel through space, we have tried using a similar system using photons, anti-protons, and even tachyon particles, but nothing worked. The outer hull of the ARCADIA was clearly designed using Lokustaar technology, allowing it to absorb anything we have managed to use with the hopes of tracking the ship. There might also be some sort of Iconian dampening field surrounding the ship making it even more difficult for our sensors to lock on something. So far, the communication antenna identified by Lt. Gemma is the only thing that we have been able to lock onto, and thanks to its size, it is nearly impossible to maintain a solid lock on it, especially while the vessel is in motion. =/\=

"No ship is 'undetectable'," the engineer muttered. "Even a cloak ship can be located if you know what to look for. The issue here is that we don't know what it is we need to look for to see the ARCADIA.  All we need to do is to figure out what that *thing* is."

=/\= Maya to Paquette. Sensors are picking up something. =/\=

"Yes!" Sonja exclaimed with joy. "I knew that you were the right person to figure this out. Tell me oh great and wise spotted-one, what was it that allowed you to scan the ARCADIA? =/\=

=/\= We are still unable to scan the ship, =/\= the Shillian explained. =/\= What the sensors have picked up is a large asteroid, more along the lines of a small planetoid, and by the looks of things the ARCADIA is heading straight for it. =/\=

"What? Are they planning on crashing into it?" The redhead Engineer was stunned, but that sensation gradually turned into mild amusement. "It's either going to go *through* it or blast it out of this reality," Sonja theorized.

=/\= Unable to tell at its time. The ARCADIA is moving at a steady speed and appears to be aiming right for the center of the structure.  Sensors are not detecting anything other than basic rock formation on the surface. There is something slightly odd though. =/\=

"Of course there is," Sonja chuckled dryly. "There would be a problem if there was not something strange, weird, or otherwise unexpected about that giant floating rock.  What is it?"

=/\= Sensors are unable to penetrate the surface layer of the planetoid, =/\= Maya reported. =/\= Whatever is blocking our sensors is located roughly 25 meters below the surface. =/\=

"Maya, send me the sensor readouts," Sonja said. "I have a suspicion that I need to check."  The Shillian CSciO quickly complied with the request and it took no time for the CEO to confirm her suspicions.  "Paquette to Captain Morningstar."

=/\= Go ahead, =/\= the CO acknowledged.

"That planetoid is hollow," Sonja reported. "I was trying to figure out what the ARCADIA would b heading straight for it and when Maya reported that our sensors could not go more than 25 meters below the surface, I thought of NEW ALEXANDRIA. It would seem that Captain Antares did not only use Lokustaar and Iconian technology in the creation of his new life but also borrowed some of the technology used to build our base of operation."

A silence of anticipation hung between the Bridge and Main Engineering as everyone waited to see if Sonja's suspicions were right.  Seconds stretched into minutes but eventually, the Chief Science Officer reported on what they were seeing, ending the silence that the Chief Engineer was getting increasingly frustrated with.

=/\= Sonja, you were right, =/\= Maya announced. =/\= We can see an opening forming in the planetoid.  Four sections are moving away at right-angles creating an opening large enough for the ARCADIA. =/\=

=/\= Welcome to our little home away from home, =/\= Captain Antares announced. =/\= It may not be much, but it's more than enough to allow us to restock supplies. Just follow us in and make yourselves at home. =/\=

=====
Lorraine Paquette

Lt Commander Sonja Paquette [Access Character BIO for Sonja Paquette]
Chief Engineering Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501
M01-071: USS HATHOR: Lopez: 36102.0430 ("Between A Rock and a Hard Place")
-=-=-
"Between A Rock and a Hard Place"
[the previous post was Lorraine's "More Unexpected Developments"]
-=-=-

Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0430

Adriana was speechless. The decision as to how to deal with Captain Antares and the ARCADIA had not been reached and yet the HATHOR and its crew were following the pirate ship as if all was as normal as could be.  The eyes of the Counselor/Junior Ambassador darted between the main view screen and the azure woman standing next to her. Xana knew the man in command of the dark, mysterious ship they were following, yet the Bolian/Human seemed as much on the fence like everyone else on the bridge. There was something in the man's past, something that Bonviva was aware of, that made her both trust and fear him, and that concerned Lopez a great deal.

"Are we sure we want to do this?" Adriana asked. The HATHOR was a mere moment away from entering the ARCADIA's secret base. "There are still a lot of issues that we need to address."

"Yes, there are," Xana agreed, "but you of all people know that there is no such thing as 'black and white', 'good or evil', 'right or wrong'. They are all subject to personal interpretation and perception. The Admiral might see Robert as the current greatest threat, but he sees himself as a hero, a savior, a man who gave up a great deal to be where he believed he was most needed."

The Hispanic woman narrowed her eyes as she stared at her mentor.  The man was no longer Captain Antares or the Commanding Officer of the ARCADIA, he had simply become 'Robert'.  Knowing that any argument with the Ambassador would be a complete waste of time, the Counselor/Junior Ambassador shifted her focus onto the HATHOR's CO.

"Captain, it is more than probable that Admiral Koniki suspected that Robert Antares was somehow involved with the pirate ship, which is likely part of the reason he chose us to go after him. He would be less oppositional and would not try to destroy us the moment he laid eyes upon us. That was the advantage the Admiral would have been counting on for us to complete our mission."

Although she could see that Morningstar agreed with her analysis, the Captain was unwilling to openly voice this. He was torn, very much as Xana was, although the Counselor/Junior Ambassador was pretty certain that they had completely different reasons. What that meant though was that the HATHOR and its crew would continue on their course and heading, flying straight into the proverbial lion's den.

With her objection voiced and dismissed, Lopez could do nothing else but watch as the ARCADIA entered the secret entrance to its lair closely followed by the HATHOR. Based on what they could see of the interior of the hidden structure, Sonja's assessment appeared to be right on point. The internal appearance of the docking systems was very much reminiscent of those found in NEW ALEXANDRIA, albeit much smaller.

"Looks like there is only one docking port," A'Janni observed, the Caitian sounding half concerned and half relieved.

"There is a landing platform on the lower right," Ya'Han added, the Security Chief paying extreme attention to anything and everything around them. "Appears to be more than large enough to have the HATHOR land there."

"There is one advantage of us being inside this structure," Zub Enel said, the Voth aSec/Tac proving to be as vigilant as the Nylaan Sec/Tac. "Our sensors are actually able to get readings. I am not picking up any sort of weapons array aimed at us, and the platform is showing to be exactly what it appears to be." The towering lizard-man paused as he turned his head toward his immediate superior. "Good eye, the platform is indeed just large enough for the HATHOR to land."

"No weapons trained on us still does not mean that we are welcomed to do as we please," Adriana said, her reluctance growing increasingly more obvious.

"Robert is not one to invite undesirable people into his world," Xana said, the tone of her words hinting that she was speaking from earlier experience and dealing with the man.

"Alright then, helm, bring the HATHOR down on that platform," Morningstar ordered which sent a chill down Lopez's spine.

It was true that the crew had not made their decision as to helping Captain Antares or not. It was equally true that being inside this secret base might make the completion of their mission that much easier as they no longer had to be concerned about the ARCADIA and its deadly weapons. On the other hand, being trapped inside this secret base would make their escape that much more difficult, even when considering that they had the Blink Drive at their disposal.

No matter what the decision would turn out to be, Adriana was worried that things would not end well. There were just too many unanswered questions for anyone to have a solid grasp of what was going on and how to best go about things.  The best they could do was to follow their Captain's lead and hope for the best.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi {mmlm12121112@gmail.com}
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-072: USS HATHOR: Gemma: 36102.0445 ("Nervous Landing")
=-=
"Nervous Landing"
Previous post: “Between A Rock and a Hard Place” by Marissa

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Bridge
Stardate: 36102.0445

"Touchdown in 20 seconds."

The Caitian was focused on landing the HATHOR. The nervousness in his voice, therefore, was by default associated with the task at hand. That said, the ILO suspected that there was more than just landing jitters to explain his trembling words.

Granted, A'Janni had done his best to hide that fact. Only a trained ear would have been able to pick up on the faint subtleties. Meaning that Xana, Adriana, and the ILO should be the only ones aware of his uneasiness. At least they would have had their owners not been lost in their own thoughts.  To be honest, Gemma was in a similar mental state, but the difference was that she was used to dealing with multiple things all at the same time. It was kind of a required skill for Intel Operatives, especially if they wanted to survive.

"Touchdown in 15 seconds."

The atmosphere on the bridge was far from relaxed. The objections voiced by Adriana Lopez only served to remind everyone of their own doubts.  Cpt Antares was a charming individual, a man who knew how to play the game. This did not make Gemma like him any more than she did before, not that it was all that much to start with. Like the ARCADIA, Robert Antares was a mystery wrapped in an enigma. The image he displayed was well crafted and showed him to be exactly how he wanted others to see him.

It was Lygill's words that echoed in the ILO's mind. **Lies are a wonderful thing. The more they are used, the more comfortable they become. Sooner or later, they become truth, a reality indistinguishable from any other reality. The man has many obvious skills, and I suspect that being a talented liar is amongst his highest accomplishments. **

The report from the Voth silenced the voice in the ILO's head.  "Sensors are still not showing anything on or near the landing platform. All is clear."

The report should have been a reassuring one, but it was not. Tensions on the bridge remained high as everyone waited to see what would happen. Gemma was not an exception to this, the ILO imagining countless possibilities. If Antares wanted to destroy the HATHOR, he could have easily done so long before now. That meant he had a plan for the ship and its crew. Maybe it was as he stated, to help find and destroy the enemy's base of operation. The problem was that there were several who were less than convinced.

"Touchdown in 10 seconds."  

As a skilled and experienced Bounty Hunter, Jinx could look beyond the man's pleasant demeanor. **Only a fool lets everyone see who they really are. It is human nature to have secrets, to keep certain things hidden from others. Sometimes these things are nothing more than unimportant personal dealings. Sometimes, those secrets hide a completely different person. A being lurking beneath the surface waiting to pounce when the moment is right.**

The El-Aurian Counselor had an opinion of her own. **Excessive displays of confidence hint to someone ready to deal with anything. They believe they have the means to deal with whatever problem crosses their path. In many cases, such solutions are extreme. In some rarer cases, the means to deal with a problem would lead to a fatal and widespread solution. A madman is only described as such *after* their solution to a specific problem is discovered.**

The Russian assassin was next to voice her thoughts. **It is always wise to lure a target into a sense of safety. It is much easier to strike a fatal blow when their guards are down.**

The Uxali stepped up, no longer able to hold back her frustration. **There is no evidence that Cpt Antares is some sort of dark, and evil man with ulterior motives. Until the indisputable proof is found, we owe it to him and us alike to take him to his word.**

"Touchdown in 5 seconds."

Gemma glanced at the operations console before making her report. "Landing struts are fully extended and locked. Our approach vector is right on the nose. Everything indicates a smooth and uneventful landing."

The remaining seconds passed in near-complete silence as everyone waited to see what would happen. Heartbeats punctuated the slow, eternal passage of time as breaths were held back. Eyes focused on whatever readout was available. Some tracking how close the landing platform stood. Others frightfully realizing how far the closed outer doors were.

The low thud of the landing structs making contact with the landing platform failed to ease everyone's tension. The fact that the HATHOR had safely landed was one of many perceived obstacles that the crew feared.

Zub Enel allowed a faint sigh of relief to escape. "Houston, the falcon has landed."

Gemma sighed and rolled her eyes before speaking in a distinct Germanic accent. "Eagle! The expression is 'the eagle has landed."

=-=
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]
M01-073: USS HATHOR: Enel: 36102.0500 ("Unfazed")
=-=
“Unfazed”
Previous post: Rachel’s ’ “Nervous Landing”

=-=
Setting: USS HATHOR, Deck 3, Aft Airlock
Stardate: 36102.0500

After several conversations between engineers and their increasingly louder Chief, something clunked outside the airlock.

“Offloading ramp deployed,” said the red-haired Chief Engineer, Sonja Paquette. “FINALLY,” she shouted at the retreating engineers. She smiled at the assembled officers. “The ramp and airlocks will work, but it is unusual to land the ship and exit this way physically.”

The 7-foot-tall Assistant Chief of Security Zub Enel tugged down his uniform sleeve. “The airlock and ramp are narrower and thus more defensible than a cargo lift.”

“Zub will bang his scaly head on the bottom of the ship,” quipped A’Janni. The Caitian Flight Control Officer’s white tiger face showed the idea amused him.

Maya, the Shillian Chief Science Officer, asked, “Do we have any idea what this Shadow Tech artifact stolen from the USS NILE is?” Her face, framed by Trill-like blue filigree, showed confusion.

“We’ll have to learn that from either the ARCADIA’s crew or someone else,” Ambassador Xana Bonviva said, her lavender uniform top enhancing her azure skin and white hair.

Gemma, the Intelligence Liaison Officer, gave her coppery ringlets a shake. “I’ll endeavor to pinpoint the object on their systems.” She checked the position of her phaser pistol on the back of her belt.

Paquette announced, “Opening the inner airlock.” In front of the crew, the inner door slid aside to reveal a short passage to the airlock’s closed outer door.

Doctor Sofia Andersson asked, “Can’t we teleport out?”

The Chief Engineer replied, “They fear teleportation signals will give them away.”

“That matches the NEW ALEXANDRA’s desire to remain undetectable,” remarked the Executive Officer, her Asian features openly curious about what might lay ahead.

“I wonder what they call this place,” the bipedal white tiger A’Janni said. “Maybe it’s so secret it doesn’t have a name. Maybe it has a just number; a number is so secret that they refer to it by a code letter.”

“Let’s call it NEW PORT ROYAL,” stated Captain Eric Morningstar, “in honor of the TERRAN pirate base.”

“We shouldn’t honor a bloodthirsty mob,” said the joined-Trill, Counselor Nicole Dima.

“Unless that mob is pointing cannons at your head,” said the scaly Zub Enel.

“I couldn’t find a designation as we approached this planetoid,” CSciO Maya said. “They’re determined to keep this place off any map or log.”

“If we’re quite finished,” the Security Chief Ya’Han cut in, her usually red and black speckled hair more red than black, signaling that she was irked. Forewarned, the HATHOR officers gave her their full attention.

Ya’Han said more civilly, “Captain Morningstar wants us to take things easy, given the complexity of determining friend from foe. He has authorized stun only. Your phaser has a new tracking device to help locate it. My thanks to Sonja for her fast work.”

Sonja didn’t get applause, but she did get several appreciative glances.

Captain Morningstar added, “Our Engineer has erected a force curtain around the HATHOR to block access once we’ve left.” There was an exchange of glances and smiles.

The Native American looked assured. He said, “I want Ambassadors and myself out first, Security, Flight, and Lt. Gemma next, and everyone else following along. Let’s keep Balthier and Fran in the middle for now.” He looked around. “Remember, be slow to anger. Alright, Lt. Cmdr. Paquette, cut us loose.”

Fran, Balthier’s exotic rabbit-eared companion in light armor, held her bow but had no arrow at the ready. She and he stood with their shoulders close together as the other crew formed around them.

The outer hatch slid aside to show a broad ramp slanted down to the metallic gray landing pad. Odors, intense and many of them unfamiliar, wafted in. The air was distinctly cooler. There was bustle and commotion, crews at work servicing ships.

Setting: NEW PORT ROYAL, Docking Bay 13
Stardate: 36102.04??

Eric Morningstar strode down the ramp flanked by the striking Hispanic Junior Ambassador Adriana Lopez and Xana. The wide landing pad had several parked ships with hulls radiating fathomless blackness, characteristic of shadow tech.

Zub Enel and A’Janni, the HATHOR’s two biggest males, were joined by the shorter but every bit as dangerous Ya’Han and Gemma. Under the aft quarter of the ship, the debarking HATHOR crew formed a shallow V behind and centered on the CO. Some distance away, males in black uniforms formed up by twos and threes to block a giant doorway that led into the station. It wasn’t clear the purpose of this group. They were scowling.

Fran, despite her tall ears, hid behind the towering Assistant Chief of Security. She nocked an arrow and held it against her bow.

Balthier, behind the hulking cat man, said to the away team, “I don’t recognize those uniforms, but I know menace begets menace. Instead, reset the dynamic. Smile everyone. Pretend that we’re here for a hearty early breakfast. Isn’t that pancakes I smell?”

The blonde doctor smiled but asked Nicole beside her, “What are ‘pancakes?’”

The joined-Trill shrugged. “I don’t know, but I’m willing to try them.”

“They are little cakes in a pan,” Paquette proclaimed.

The ExO smiled. “If A’Janni made that claim, I’d tell him to say, ‘I don’t know.’”

Sonja asked, “They aren’t little cakes …?”

Blue-green phaser rays fanned from the group by the landing pad exit. Just aft of the HATHOR, the force curtain glimmered and warbled as it deflected the energy. Over the trilling of phasers, Eric boomed, “Stand at … Attention!”

Despite their surprise at the attack, the crew snapped to attention. The doctor, counselor, and ambassadors, unused to drill, straightened a moment later. Balthier and Fran crouched behind Zub and A’Janni.

The force curtain continued to absorb phaser hits. The CO bellowed, “Parade … Rest!”

Unscathed, the crew widened their stance. Hands went crisply into the small of the back - right above where the phaser pistol attached to each belt. Many smiled at the realization of what their Captain had done.

Captain Morningstar stood at Parade Rest. The force curtain still flashed, but incoming phaser hits began to drop off. The males blocking the exit looked frustrated. Several conferred and then simultaneously aimed phasers only at Eric.

“CEASE FIRE!” boomed a woman’s amplified voice. “One more phaser and I will open this bay to hard vacuum. Then, you can explain to your deity or deities why the HELL you attacked a Federation negotiation party.”

The men in black blocking the exit lowered their weapons. Their worried expressions foretold of fearful respect for the unseen woman. Though the HATHOR crew mimicked their Captain’s stoic stance, hands near their stowed phasers, their minds spun as they tried to make sense of their ‘welcome.’

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

“Let your enemies be disarmed by the gentleness of your manner, but at the same time let them feel, the steadiness of your resentment.”
 - Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
M01-074: USS HATHOR: Morningstar/Mitshiba: 36102.0530 ("Darker Times")
“Darker Times”
Previous post: “Unfazed” by David

=-=
Setting: NEW PORT ROYAL, Landing Platform
Stardate: 36102.0530

With the ceasefire in effect, Aki carefully scrutinized their surroundings, confirming that the force field was still operational while at the same time scanning to see if she could figure out how many attackers they were dealing with. The reason as to why they had been welcomed this way would be addressed next, a sentiment that Commander Mitshiba was certain Captain Morningstar shared.

After a few seconds in which she was silently thanking the expertise of their CEO, the Asian ExO leaned in closer to the CO. "NEW PORT ROYAL?!?" Mitshiba whispered with a hint of exasperation. "Next time, maybe I should be the one to pick the name of the unknown location we plan to set foot on."

"It seemed like a fitting name at the time, maybe too much so now that I think about it," the Native American whispered back before turning his attention to the ILO. "I counted 8 Federation phaser rifles and 3 Klingon disruptors divided between two firing locations for a total of twelve."

"Twelve is correct, but there were only 2 Klingon disruptors," Gemma quietly amended. "The third was a Ferengi disruptor. The energy discharges are similar in appearance, but the Ferengi weapon operates on a much higher frequency. It takes some training, but you can hear the difference. In any case, the energy barrier was an excellent call as it saved lives... on both sides."

"We should still proceed with caution," Ya'Han said, the Nylaan Chief of Security standing at the ready to draw her weapon.

"My apologies, Captain Morningstar," a dark-haired woman said as she began to make her way out of the shadows, her facial features still hidden by the odd lighting setup. Although her words were spoken in a softer tone, there was no mistaking the fact that she had been the one who called for the ceasefire. "I assure you that this was not how Captain Antaress meant to welcome you to the ISLE OF TRANQUILITY."

"ISLE OF TRANQUILITY?" A'Janni nearly gasped, recalling the less than peaceful manner in which they had been greeted to this place.

"It is tranquil, now," Zub Enel pointed out, his golden eyes locked on the barely visible form of the woman. From where he stood, the Voth almost believed that the woman had not actually been there but merely an optical illusion created by low lights and shadows.

"Could we ask what this was all about?" Captain Morningstar politely inquired, curious to see the reason being the less than friendly welcome.

"Him," the woman replied with a much more demanding voice while emerging from the shadows and pointing an accusatory finger at Balthier. This immediately prompted Fran to stand in front of her companion as if to shield him from whatever attack the dark-haired woman would unleash. The expression on both of their faces clearly indicated that this was not the first time the two had dealt with the woman.

This unexpected clarification took everyone off-guard, but it was Ya'Han's reaction to the woman herself that truly surprised most. "YOU!" This prompted everyone to look at the woman a little closer. Those who now recognized her found themselves to be just as surprised as the Chief of Security, sending a chill down their spine. It would have been impossible for those who had dealt with the black-haired woman to forget who and what she was -- the cruel and ruthless Lokustaar Operative responsible for countless hardships and deaths.

"You know Mordana?" Captain Antares asked, the CO of the ARCADIA appearing behind the pale-skinned woman who herself appeared completely shocked.

"She is a Lokustaar operative," Gemma growled in a way that made the nearby Voth take a step sideways to avoid being in the way should a certain Russian assassin surfaced. Instead, the ILO took a long deep breath, focusing her thoughts on a less direct and physical approach. "Her appearance very closely matches the description given in Lt. Commander Shar'El's lengthy reports, but you referring to her by name confirms her identity beyond any doubt. She is a known high-ranking Lokustaar agent and therefore cannot be trusted."

Robert chuckled. "With all due respect to you are your officers, Captain Morningstar, Mordana is more trustworthy than the two underhanded lying low-lives that you are keeping company with. The woman standing by my side has helped me make the dream of the ARCADIA a reality and if it was just that, it would still be enough for me to trust her the way I do. The fact that she also has a unique and immeasurable insight into shadow technology, which she used to save my life, is only icing on the cake."

"Here we go with cakes again," Adriana muttered to herself before addressing the two people standing on the other side of the energy barrier. "That woman is a vile and murderous monster. Whatever she may have helped you do, whatever she might have done *for* you does not change the fact that she was directly responsible for the death and suffering of countless."

"I'm... I'm sorry," the black-haired woman said, her apology coming across as both heartfelt and confused. Her tone and demeanour were certainly not that of a ruthless killer. "I might have been the person you claim me to be, but I cannot remember."

"You cannot remember?" Xana bellowed, abandoning any and all efforts to be politically correct.

"We found her on what was left of a Lokustaar capital ship, aimlessly staring at a reflection of herself," Captain Antares explained. "It didn't take a genius to understand that she worked for the Lokustaar. It also did not take long to figure out that there was something wrong, so when my crew and I realized that she had lost her memories, we rescued her and towed the battered shell of a vessel back to a safe location.  At first, she did not trust anyone, but over time she grew to recognize that we meant her no harm and eventually offered to help us in whatever way she could as thanks. We started by taking the Lokustaar ship apart and thanks to her insight we quickly figured out ways to use the technology to our advantage. She was also instrumental in allowing us to better understand the Iconian technology we came across, technology that we quickly incorporated into the project we were working on.  Thanks to her knowledge and expertise, we were able to bring the ARCADIA online in a few months instead of years."

"That does not change what she did," Ya'Han argued, the pain of the death of Jayson's clone returning in full force despite the Nylaan's best efforts to put that chapter of her life behind her.

"We all have things in our past that we would like to never have happened or done," Antares countered. "It is those experiences, as sour as they may be, that help shape the person we are today. Some are destroyed by those events while others grow stronger, better, and based on everything I have seen and experienced with Mordana, she has changed and wishes to make amends for what she and the Lokustaar have done. Right now, that means making sure that Shadow Technology is not used and exploited by others to bring about a second wave of death and destruction across the quadrants." The Captain paused for an instant before continuing. "Now, Captain Morningstar, we can start bringing peace and tranquility to this part of the galaxy with you turning over Balthier and Fran to us. We may all have unsavoury things in our pasts, but those two are the worst of the worst in spreading discourse and chaos wherever they go. I promise no harm will come to you or your crew. Just hand them over."

"What is stopping us from refusing and just leaving?" Paquette sarcastically asked, the defiance in the woman's voice echoed by the visible expression on many of the officers around her.

Robert grinned. "Xana, you know me well enough to know that I do not bluff," the Captain dressed in black said while looking directly at the Bolian/Human Ambassador. "Captain, you and your ship are inside a fortress constructed in the same manner as NEW ALEXANDRIA was, although granted on a much smaller scale, but still, that should make you understand how improbable an unauthorised departure would be. Also..." The sound of all of the ARCADIA's massive turrets turning to target the HATHOR clearly made Antares' second point. "Those two are just too dangerous to allow to escape. I am sorry Captain Morningstar, but this is not negotiable."

With few options, none of them good, the Native American was left little recourse in what he could do next if he was to ensure the safety of his crew and ship.  With a reluctant nod of his head, Erik agreed but not before making one final request, one that he understood Antares could easily refuse. "Captain to Captain, I want your promise that no harm will come to them, at least not before you have explained the situation and made us understand how dangerous they are to the safety and stability of this region of space."

Robert smiled. "I can see why Koniki likes you, always thinking beyond the here and now. Granted, no harm will come to them, I promise. Now, take down your force field so that Mordana and I can escort you to more comfortable accommodations."

The Native American sighed, turned to look at his Chief Engineer and gave the okay to have the energy barrier drop, something that Sonja was less than happy to do.

=-=
Dawn Bohr

Lieutenant Commander Misaki 'Aki' Mitshiba [Access Character BIO for Misaki Mitshiba]
Executive Officer / Chief Science Officer
USS BASTET - NCC 74977

and

Francois Charette {fcharette1969@gmail.com}

Commanding Officer
USS ANUBIS, NCC 18501

AND

Lt. Commander Elan Fairborn [Access Character BIO for Elan Fairborn]
Robotics Engineering Officer
NEW ALEXANDRIA
M01-075: USS HATHOR: A’Janni: 36102.0545 ("Furry Fury")
=-=
"Furry Fury"
Previous post: "Darker Times" by Francois & Dawn

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Landing Platform
Stardate: 36102.0545

The Caitian's blood was boiling with rage. His ears were glued to his head, and the pupil in his one good eye was nothing more than a thin slit, locked on the dark woman with a well known history of working with the Lokustaar.  A'Janni had never dealt with the woman directly, but he heard enough about her to know what kind of person she was, someone who could not be trusted unless you expected her to stab you in the back.

Taking a hint from the reaction of the Sec/Tac, Ya'Han shared his feelings, but their reasons, as personal as they might be, were most certainly not the same as the reason for the Caitian's rage was how willingly the Captain was to hand over Fran and Balthier to Captain Antares and the dark woman Mordana.

A'Janni waited to pounce on his intended targets like the beast he was.  As soon as Sonja Paquette complied with Captain Morningstar's order to bring the force field down he would unleash himself at them without mercy. The Caitian was counting on the element of surprise to reach his objective before Robert Antares' lackeys could open fire once again. To be perfectly honest, the FCO was also counting on the assistance of the ILO or Sec/Tac, suspecting that Gemma and Ya'Han would either beat him to the punch or quickly follow suit knowing that thanks to their skills and speed they would not be far behind him if either or both chose to follow his lead.

As soon as the forcefield was deactivated, the Caitian bent his knees and prepared to leap but instead of flying through the air he found that he could not move as he had intended. Quickly realizing that someone had taken hold of his arm, A'Janni turned to see who had dared to hold him back. It was not a complete surprise to see that it was Zub who held him, the Voth being one of the few members of the HATHOR's crew able to accomplish such a feat.

"Let go of me," A'Janni growled through clenched teeth.

"I will not let you risk your life for nothing," Zub said as he tightened his hold on the Caitian's arm.

"It is not for nothing," the FCO argued. "Are we not sworn to protect our allies?"

"Yes, but right now it is not clear who is truly an ally."

A'Janni glared at Zub, running through his mind how best to disable the Voth. The Caitian was strong enough that he could break the Voth's arm, and maybe even a leg to ensure that the muscle-bound lizard-man would not be able to follow him. The more he explored this possibility, the more the FCO began to question the reasoning behind his plan, not to mention the possible repercussions. There was no doubt that Captain Morningstar would not look kindly on his officers fighting amongst themselves.

The FCO's rage began to cool off when he noticed that neither Ya'Han nor Gemma were displaying any indications of being ready to strike. Had it not been for the Voth Assistance Sec/Tac, it would seem that the Caitian would have been the only one to attack.

"As hard as it may seem for you to believe, I do understand your feelings," Enel said in a quiet, almost whispered tone while still maintaining a solid hold on A'Janni's arm. "Captain Morningstar did the best he could given the situation. Let's hear what Captain Antares has to say first, not only will this give us a better idea of what is going on, but it will also allow us to get out of sight of those turret guns.  I suspect that a shot from a single one of those would be enough to turn us all into subatomic particles."

"Gentlemen," Commander Mitshiba said as the Asian woman approached the two imposing officers. "We are being escorted to guest quarters, put whatever it is you two are doing on hold until we are in more private settings. Let's not give our *hosts* a reason for making our stay shorter on a permanent level.  I am sure that the Captain will do his best to ensure the continued safety of Balthier and Fran, and right now the best thing we can do is to behave and not tip the balance in Captain Antares' favor."

"Aye, aye, Sir," the Caitian reluctantly said before glancing with his only eye at the debonair pirate and his exotic companion as they were being escorted to a different location, likely whatever the ISLE OF TRANQUILITY considered to be a brig.

=-=
Jayson Sousa

Lieutenant JG A'Janni [Access Character BIO for A'Janni]
Flight Control Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977
M01-076: USS HATHOR: Ya'Han/Lopez: 36102.0700 ("Trust Issues")
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]
“Trust Issues”
Previous posts: "Furry Fury” by Jayson
[/\] [/\] [/\] [/\] [/\]

Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Guest Quarters
Stardate: 36102.0700

After everything the crew of the HATHOR had dealt with and gone through since the start of this mission, they needed time to rest and unwhine, but the black-haired Sec/Tac could not bring herself to relax. As comfortable as the quarters she was give were, the Nylaan could not stop thinking about Mordana and the significance of her being here.

Ya'Han was not willing to simply accept the story given by Captain Antares explaining how the Shadow Operative had changed due to her suffering from amnesia. While undercover, the Sec/Tac had dealt first-hand with the woman and found her to be as dark as she was devious. Like her masters the Lokustaar, Mordana kept her sights on the larger, long-term objectives, disposing of anything that might hinder their progress.

Knowing this simple fact about Captain Antares' new collaborator left Ya'Han less than willing to accept the explanation provided, opting instead to imagine that this was all a ploy from the woman.  Honestly, it far far easier to believe that Mordana's amnesia was part of a con aimed to achieve a yet to be determined goal. Whatever this goal was though, the Nylaan was certain that it would spell big trouble for both the crew of the ARCADIA and that of the HATHOR.

A gentle knocking sound at the door made the Sec/Tac take a moment to gather her thoughts before manually opening the door. As advanced as the technology of the ARCADIA and ISLE OF TRANQUILITY were, there were some aspects of the secret base which seemed to have been forgotten by the passage of time.  Ya'Han opened the door and stared at the woman standing in the corridor, Counselor Lopez stood there with a concerned expression engraved on her face.

"How are you doing?" Adriana asked, the intonation of her words mirroring the expression on her face.

"I'm fine," the solid black-haired Nylaan relied, dismissing the query without a second thought.

"Ya'Han," the Hyspanic woman whispered, "you do realize that the question is meant as a way for me to indicate that I am concerned about you. You should also know that I would not be concerned unless something has led me to believe that there is something wrong.  As a Counselor, I am trained to spot tale-tale signs, things that others might miss, but in your case, the indication that something is troubling you is as clear and visible as the colors on a wall."

The Nylaan shook her head to allow a few loose strands of hair to come into view before letting out a lengthy sigh as she realised what color they were. "Maybe I should go bald," Ya'Han moaned as she walked back into her quarters, leaving the door open allowing for Adriana to follow.

"Aside from the fact that I am sure Jayson would be very upset at not being able to see your green hair, I know that the rest of the crew would be very concerned with such a drastic change," Adriana pointed out.

"Concerned! Why?" The Sec/Tac asked as she ran her fingers through her hair in a way to pull it back as tightly as possible, making her appear almost as she had just threatened to become.

"We would no longer be able to tell when it would be best for us to avoid crossing your path," the Cousnelor said in as serious a tone as she could. "Let's face it, that bright fiery red hair of yours is a clear warning to everyone to not be in your way, and I for one like to see it when things get hectic. That way, we all know that whatever poor soul we are facing is in for a very rough time."

"Guess that's part of the problem," Ya'Han sighed as she released the hold on her hair. "I see Mordana and although part of me wants to rip her to shreds with my bare hands, I can't focus long enough to make that happen. I keep thinking back to the time I spent with her and the things I did and saw. It just leaves me without the will or energy to go on."

Lopez was glad to see Ya'Han opening up and apparently willing to talk. As a Counselor, getting someone to talk about what was troubling them could sometimes prove to be quite a challenge. With that out of the way, Adriana could focus on trying to find a way to help the visibly troubled woman.

"Listen Ya'Han, what you went through was beyond horrible in countless ways. You had to take advantage of the short-lived opportunity that presented itself, and in doing so the rest of the crew believed you to be a traitor. True, it was part of the needed deception to make your defection appear genuine, but it left a lot of people angry and very hurt, including me. When you came back, youhad to deal with us and our bruised feelings, and I know that it was not easy.  If that was not enough, while under cover you had to dive right into the heart of the Lokustaar war machine, dealing with whatever twisted and sick plan Mordana was coming up with. You told me that she never fully trusted you and that only made things that much more difficult. When Jayson's clone sacrificed himself to save your life, it was the proverbial last straw, leaving you with emotional scars and messed up feelings that not a single person should ever have to handle."

"And seeing here here just brought it all back," the Sec/Tac sadly admitted.  "I guess I should count myself lucky that Jayson is not here right now, it would just make things that uch more difficult for me to handle."

"Right now, the best thing you can do is try to rest. Let Captain Morningstar and Captain Antares discuss the situation.  As bad as Mordana might be, I still am more than willing to wager everything I have on Xana. The woman can be both exceptionally skilled and terrifying, a worthy match for that Shadow Operative.  If she is lying, Bonviva will figure it out in no time."

"What if Mordana is not lying?" Ya'Han asked, the Nylaan appearing almost on the verge of tears. "What if she is telling the truth? What if she is actually helping Captain Antares in making sure that the Lokustaar technology left behind does not fall into the wrong hands."

"All valid questions," Adriana agreed. "Unfortunately, there is only one answer I can give you at the moment. We hve to trust the Captain and the Ambassador because right now, that is the only thing we can do. Well, short of us getting some well earned rest."

"I am not sure that I can," the Sec/Tac admitted.

"That's alright," the CNS grinned. "I know someone who is more than able to help. Come, I do not know how, but Sonja manage to get her hands on a couple of bottles of wine, or something that is trying to pass as such."

"You want us to get drunk while we are here?" Ya'Han gasped.

"No," Adriana said. "I just want you to trust me, to trust your friends, in doing everything we can to help you feel better."

Given the way she was feeling, which clearly reflected in the color of her hair, the Nylaan decided not to argue and follow her friend.  If there was nothing else she could do, trusting her friends should be the lst thing she should do, no matter how she felt."

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

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

in collaboration with

Marissa Montonera-Lombardi
 
Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-077: USS HATHOR: Gemma/Enel: 36102.0725 ("Sweet Distraction")
=-=
"Sweet Distraction"
Previous post: “Trust Issues” by Hanali and Marissa

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Guest Quarters
Stardate: 36102.0725

At 7-feet tall, the scaly Assistant Chief of Security was too long for his bed.  Still dressed, his boots hung off the end.  He tried lying on his side, but that hurt compared to sprawling on his back.  He sighed in exasperation.  He sat up to face the darkened wall across his small room.  “Lights on at 10%,” he said with his slight lisp. The wall was a faint industrial green, dinghy with age.  There’s been a framed picture but all that was left was a faint outline of the frame in brighter paint.  

The outline reminded him of the arrest of Balthier and the sensual rabbit-women, Fran.  A’Janni, the bipedal, white tiger and Flight Control Officer, had almost pounced on anyone that got near the duo after Sonja, the Chief Engineer, dropped the force field. Zub sensed the hulking FCO’s attack, but barely restrained him long enough for A’Janni’s higher brain functions to kick back in.   

Balthier and Fran looked betrayed by the HATHOR crew who had been helping them.  Zub Enel felt angry about the arrest, but the demand was underscored by the ARCADIA pointing plasma cannons at the HATHOR crew; cannons that would have vaporized the crew, the HATHOR, the landing pad and punched through the station.  Captain Morningstar grudgingly relented.  Everyone lived to fight another day.

Zub considered how he might learn where Balthier and Fran were being held.  The furry FCO seemed set on winning over Fran. The tall Voth knew if there was any sneaking around to do, A’Janni would join him.    

There came a rat-a-tat on Zub’s door.  Thinking A’Janni had reached the same general desire to find Fran, Zub hastened to the door. It was Gemma, the highly complex Intelligence Liaison Officer.

The imposing lizard-man looked down at the woman standing in front of him. His golden eyes diligently studied her features to be sure that the ILO was here as a friend. The last thing he needed was a visit from one of her more dangerous personas. "Is everything alright?"

The ILO huffed and pushed her way past the aSec/Tac. Enel guessed that she did not want to have the discussion out in the openness of the corridor. "What do you think? We are inside an enemy stronghold. We are cut off from our ship and have no means to escape. Lastly, we are dealing with a Lokustaar operative known for her devious cruelty."

Zub nodded his crested head in understanding.  He waved a three-fingered hand toward the only chair as an invitation for her to sit.  She crossed her arms under her ample chest and stood still.  He asked, “I certainly agree we are on the receiving end of this game.  Do you have any idea what to do to change things?”

Lt. Gemma's blue eyes narrowed as she looked up at Zub, the Voth instantly taking a step back in case someone else appeared. Given the way the ILO had been speaking, it was safe to assume that Anya could make an entrance at any moment.  "The only thing we can do is to take advantage of the situation."

Looming and covered with large scales, Ensign Enel tilted his head to one side as he looked down at the woman. "We have no idea of the layout of this place. Also, it would be difficult for someone like me to *sneak* around."

The woman smiled and it quickly became evident that it was no longer Gemma who was standing there. Instead, it was the Kriosian bombshell who was seductively looking up at him, her pupils extra large in the low light. "With the right distraction, anyone can *sneak* around. That is unless you believe me unable to keep a man's attention on me."

The timbre of the woman's sensual voice quickened the Voth's pulse. Although she and he were clearly not of the same race, Seksa's charms were working on him. He spoke, but his mind felt stalled, “I… I..."

The Kriosian woman smiled in such a way that the curvature of her lips promised enough that Enel's knees weakened. Her sultry voice was self-assured. “Then it is settled. I will take care of anyone we come across. You will have the opportunity to check things out in the meantime. At least, I will do my best to give you the time you need."

If the desire smoldering in her voice was not enough to make his head spin, he was certain the way her hands caressed her form would melt solid metal. Fearing that he might lose control and pass out, Zub quickly agreed.

Seksa pursed her lips as if she intended to kiss him, but instead she simply reached up to caress his scaly cheek. "You are so sweet. I will have to find a way to thank you afterwards.”

Zub Eel felt like a teapot one second away from a full boil.  The sensation was strong enough to trigger his natural guardedness. He knew dangerously strong emotions could easily lead to fatal mistakes.  He forced his eyes off her moist lips.  He said, his usually deep voice a little higher than normal from the strain to keep his hands from reaching out to cup her face, “Perhaps you can charm the location of the brig out of someone.”

Seksa pouted prettily. “I’m sure I can.”  Her eyes glittered.  “Shall we?”  

Zub Enel felt his cheeks flaming.  He covered his desire with, “Ladies first.”  He gestured toward his door.

The Kriosian woman smiled as she accepted the invitation. Her hips swayed with carnal desires as she walked to the door. Memories of other adventures flashed into her mind. In them she recalled what others called her. Seksa could only count a couple of times before today when she had been referred to as a *lady*.

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Corridor
Stardate: 36102.0725

Seksa had looked positively disappointed as they made their way quite some distance out of the guest quarters area without seeing a soul.  “Seems awfully deserted for a big rock in space.  Maybe no one but us has access to this whole deck.”

A nearby turbolift whirred ever louder as a lift approached.  After a clank and a squealing door,  a young man who appeared to be TERRAN in a natty black uniform stepped out.  His eyes darted up to Zub’s full height, but then came back to drink in the sensuous woman next to the walking lizard.

Seksa lost no time. “Oh, hello,” she purred at the man who was trying to look at every part of her at once.  “We are *so* glad you found us.”  A tremble came into her voice, “I am afraid we are terribly lost. But, here you are!  My hero!”  She placed a hand on the man’s forearm and squeezed.  Her smile would have lit the night side of any planet.  

“Yes. Well,” the man said, sounding out of breath. “You’re in section H-37.”

She looked horrified. “Isn’t that near the brig?”

“Brig?” he asked as if unfamiliar with the word, his face suddenly as pink as tula berries.  “Do you mean the Lockup?”

She smiled tentatively and pulled him a little closer. “Lockup!  Yes.  Isn’t it near?  Am I safe?”  Her wide-open eyes searched his face, but mostly tarried on his lips as if she hung on his next words.

The man smiled back, his gaze riveted to her face. “No.  I mean, yes.  I mean it’s on decks R and S, a long way from here.  You are perfectly safe.”
  
“I sure I’m safe with you,” she said with another bright smile. Her hands moved up to squeeze his biceps.  “Oh!  So muscular. Do you work out or does your physique come naturally to you?”

The man didn’t look as Zub triggered the turbo lift door.  Seksa’s hands had moved up to the man’s neck.  She was pulling his face toward hers as the door squealed shut.  Zub said clearly and slowly.  “Deck R.”

=/\= Lock. Up. =/\= an androgynous voice said haltingly.  The turbo lift whirred as it sped him away.  He hoped to have a quick peek at the brig deck before returning to H-37 for Seksa.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

and

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]
M01-078: USS HATHOR: Gemma/Enel: 36102.0745 ("A Moment")
=-=
“A Moment”
Previous post: “Sweet Distraction” by Rachel and David

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Secondary Control Room
Stardate: 36102.0745

His back was against one of the control stations. Her body was pressing firmly against his. His heart racing against her own in complete disregard for the universe around them. Their hands quickly uncovering the heat hidden beneath their clothes.

In this small room, only the screens on the wall were witness to their passionate embrace. Seksa could feel the desperation in his hold of her, and she delighted in it. Life as a pirate, however exciting, clearly failed to fulfill the man's basic carnal needs.

The Kriosian inwardly smiled. Her greatest wish was always to please whoever she was with. Their enjoyment was her drug of choice, a drug that she herself wanted to enjoy for as long as possible. As his hands pulled her in even closer, her head rolled back. For a brief moment, her eyes opened as she drew in a breath of anticipation.

Viras' voice unexpectedly echoed into the woman's head. **Those monitors are part of the internal security system. Using that system we might be able to locate Balthier and Fran.**

The voice of the German engineer was heard next. **Locating the base's power source should be the next target. It could provide us with insight on how to safely escape should the need arise.**

Anya, the Russian Assassin, spoke next, silencing all others. **We cannot do anything as long as he is in our way. Get rid of him and let us carry on with our mission.**

Seksa paused for a brief few seconds. It was more than enough to have her partner look at her with puzzlement. Had he done something wrong? Had she changed her mind? Would he allow her to escape his lustful hold? The Kriosian pressed her hands on his chest and pushed ever so gently. The distance between them grew ever so slowly until he strengthened his hold on her. The woman smiled and moved her hands to his shoulders and neck. Her fingers sensually caressed the exposed skin, feeling the pounding of his heart through his veins.

She leaned in towards him, pressing her lips to his. She felt his breathing paused as they passionately kissed. There were no doubts that he believed her to be a dream come true. If only he knew the nightmare that raged within her.

Within seconds the man's body went limp, slipping off the control panel to collapse onto the floor. Looking down at him was the HATHOR's ILO. The woman was clearly struggling with her inner demons.

Finnja, the Bleeding Heart of the Universe, made an announcement. **He will be fine. He might wake up with a massive headache, but he will wake. The pressure on his Carotid artery simply made him lose conscience.**

A single tear escaped from the woman's eyes. This was all the Kriosian Seksa could manage to display her sorrow. She had not wanted to hurt him. She certainly had no intentions of denying him his heart's desire. Alas, her own desires were only one in an endless ocean of conflicting emotions.

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Deck R, Lockup
Stardate: 36102.0750

Zub Enel was grateful that the turbolift stopped nowhere else on its way to the Lockup deck. The rattling of the car made any reckoning of distance and direction difficult. He guessed he was a considerable distance horizontally and down from Deck H where he had left Seksa entwining a young male.

The turbo lift whirred to a stop. =/\= Lock. Up. =/\= an androgynous voice said haltingly. The door squealed open to a bright hallway made all the brighter by walls of polished silver metal.

He stepped out at the end of this shiny hall, his three-fingered hands in loose fists. He was assailed by a stock yard stench. There were no jail cells lining the walls as he had expected, just the sickening odor and a long desk that blocked further passage.

A truly obese Andorian sat behind this desk stacked with alternated piles of what seemed to be PADDS. One of his antennae appeared permanently bent at a right angle to the side. The other swiveled toward the 7-foot-tall lizard as the big blue man appraised him. The Andorian asked in a strikingly cultured voice, “What has happened to Fennwick?”

Zub glanced behind the big man. A closed and dogged hatch formed a secure blockage. Enel smiled. “Young man? Tailored uniform?”

The rotund Andorian regarded Zub Enel with growing wariness. “Fennwick. Did he find any sandwiches?”

“No, a woman.”

The man looked astonished. “Fennwick?” The look became deep suspicion. “He wouldn’t authorize anyone to use the incarceration lift.”

Zub was ready. “I need to see Balthier and Fran, as their legal representation.”

The fat Andorian scoffed. “They have a Federation pettifogger?”

Zub didn’t know the word. “I need to confer with them, together.”

The big Andorian dropped one arm out of sight. He glared up at the Voth. “1) This is the wrong section. 2) Your client Fran injured five guards before she was stunned. She’s in special lockdown.” He raised an empty hand from behind the desk. “And 3) ….” He gloated at Zub Enel. The hatch clanged as it undogged itself.

Zub Enel reasoned that since the Andorian had not raised a weapon, he must have triggered an alarm. Enel knew he was about to be rushed.

He turned and triggered the turbo lift. It squealed open slowly. Boot-steps came from behind him.

Zub spun to confront 5 big males. As they closed in an arc on him, he did not think. He shoved the outer two men in the center of their chests to send them reeling back. He planted his boot in the center of the man right in front of him. That one went flying back. By then, his fists smacked the chins of the two remaining men. All were now off balance.

He backed into the lift. The door shut. He heard pounding on the outer hatch.

“H-37.”

“Second Dary Control” the androgynous force announced. The turbo lift whirred off. The speed increased until the lift halted so abruptly that Zub’s knees buckled under his own inertia.

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Secondary Control Room
Stardate: 36102.0755

Viras' eyes narrowed as she looked at one particular screen. "They are trying to redirect his lift."

A Russian accent was heard next. "That's too bad. He was sloppy. He just better not reveal too much when they start interrogating him."

The Dinall woman spoke next. "We can't leave him! He's already hurt, and they are going to use that against him. We have to rescue him."

The laughter of a platinum-haired woman filled the room. "We don't have to do *anything*. That big oaf is going to get exactly what he deserves. There is no place for the weak in this universe."

The ILO spoke next, Gemma ending the unexpected argument that had come to be. "He is Starfleet. He is a member of our crew. He is a friend. We *will* do what we can to rescue him."

Taking that as her queue, Viras quickly went to work. She had never been one to voice an opinion or engage in an argument. People were just too unpredictable for her liking. Computers were much simpler, always obeying the same rules as per their programming. The lift had almost reached its starting point when it came to another sudden halt. On the monitor, one could see how these sudden shifts were affecting Zub Enel. As big as he was, the rapid change in directions were causing him to fly about like a rag doll.

The hacker did not spend too much time looking at the images though. Her task was to bring the aSec/Tac back. "I have isolated the lift's controls and rerouted it to the nearest access point from here. Nothing will interfere from this point on with his journey. I am sealing the doors on this section to make sure no one reaches the lift once he arrives. The lift will reach this section in 35 seconds."

The woman rushed out of the Secondary Control Room but not before the Kriosian glanced at the unconscious man left behind. "I am so sorry."

=-=
Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Corridor Near Turbolift Access
Stardate: 36102.0757

As soon as the doors opened, a bloodied Enel collapsed onto the floor. As he did so, he muttered the name of the woman he had left behind. As hurt as he was, his first concern was directed to someone else. This had the effect of summoning the Kriosian, replacing the ILO or anyone else who might have come to help.

Zub Enel managed to push himself up to his knees before he was throughly embraced by firm curves and strong arms. “Oh! Zub!” a woman breathed hotly into his ear, “Look at you all bloodied and bruised. Let me make it better.”

He could tell his sympathizer was Seksa. He was relieved she appeared safe, but her lips were leaving wet and warm little splotches down his cheek toward his mouth. He tried to pull her arms loose from around his neck, tried to give himself some distance so he could think properly, but crazy feelings flooded his body and shut down his mind. His feathery down between his scales stood rigidly erect.

Her beautiful face hovered a millimeter from his, her warmth washing over his skin. “Ooh,” she said, “You’re all fluffy.” She put her lips over his and tightened her embrace. The sweet pressure of her lips, her chest, her hips against his started him to tremble. He felt caught on the crumbling edge between desire and restraint. She could turn into anybody, many of them deadly, but her breath was hot. Her lips parted. The tip of her tongue softly explored his closed lips, probed for a way in.

Just as he gave into the inferno of desire, the ardor of her kiss cooled. It was still a kiss but one of light suction on his, a shared kiss more like affection than passion. Her embrace relaxed. Her firm curves eased back. Her arms and hands slid down his neck to his shoulders.

He opened his eyes. Through the fireworks his brain was sending up, he saw Gemma’s face. Her blue eyes fluttered open. Her lips parted from his, but her warm face hung close. Her expression was one of puzzlement but not rejection. Her hands pressed against his chest as she eased her body away, cooler air filling the gap opening between them. The roses in her checks faded. Her wide pupils shrank to normal size. Her lips formed into a line. She took a full step away and dropped her arms.

Lt. Gemma, as cold and professional as ever, stood before the kneeling Voth. “Ensign,” she said in a non-nonsense tone. “Are you able to walk?”

Zub knew whatever moment they had shared had passed. “Yes, Lieutenant.”

Gemma turned toward where the guest quarters were. “Let’s find Doctor Andersson before any reprisals start.”

He stood and tried not to wince as he followed the ILO down the corridor.

=-=
David Michael Inverso

Chief Security and Tactical Officer
USS BASTET, NCC 74977

and

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]
M01-079: USS HATHOR: Lopez: 36102.0800 ("Nothing To Be Cheerful About")
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"Nothing To Be Cheerful About"
[the previous post was Rachel and David's "A Moment"]
-=-=-

Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Sonja's guest quarters
Stardate: 36102.0800

As much as it was Adriana's idea to be here with Ya'Han, the Counselor/Junior Ambassador could not bring herself to relax. It was nice to have the majority of the crew together outside of a life-or-death situation, but the shadow that loomed over their heads could not be ignored.  This was not some joyful resort or even a Federation outpost, this place was the base of operation for the ARCADIA and its crew, and worse, it was the place the Lokustaar operative Mordana was now calling home.

Adriana kept her eyes on Ya'Han, watching the woman's hair above all else.  The Counselor knew the Sec/Tac well enough to understand that her smiles and occasional laughter did not reflect the woman's inner mood. Being here, in this place, would have already been difficult for most as they tried to figure out if Captain Antares was a friend or foe, but the presence of the Shadow Operative added a whole other level of complexity to their situation.

"You are not enjoying yourself," Sonja said as she pushed another glass of wine into Adriana's hands.

"I am," the Counselor said, forcing a smile onto her lips, a smile that she knew would not fool the Chief Engineer or anyone else for that matter. "Alright, I'm trying, but it's not that easy."

"I agree wholeheartedly," Sonja said as she sat down next to Adriana. "I was not expecting people to start dancing on the tables, but I thought that it would be a nice distraction. Right now, we are all on edge and I wanted to give everyone something to do that would not get them into trouble. Then again, trouble can be fun."  Just as she said this, the door to the guest quarters opened allowing a bloodied aSec/Tac and stoic-looking ILO to rush in. "Looks like *someone* found a way to have fun."

"What happened?" Sofia demanded, the CMO already tending to the most visible injuries of the aSec/Tac.

"Reckon," Gemma coldly replied.

"Reckon?" Lopez repeated. "Of what? The entire Cardassian / Klingon Boarder?"

"Please tell me that you did not go onto the ARCADIA without me?!?" Sonja interjected. The woman actually managed to sound as disappointed as could be.

"No," Zub reassured. "We were just looking around. We manage to find where they are keeping Balthier and Fran."

"I would not say that too loudly," the Counselor said. "Might be more than enough to send our fine feline friend on a quest to rescue his damsel in distress, not that I think Fran would ever agree to be referred to in that manner. Luckily for us, A'Janni chose to remain in his quarters and pout instead of joining us."

"What were you thinking?" The solid black-haired Sec/Tac demanded of her assistant. "You could have been killed."

"He's not that easy to kill," Gemma noted as if she herself had tried to accomplish this task, something that not only troubled but also greatly concerned the CNS/Junior Ambassador. When it came to the ILO, it was not prudent to assume that anything was beyond her thoughts or abilities.

"I will be fine," Zub Enel stated. "Just a few bumps and bruises."

Doctor Andersson gasped. "Maybe for someone with your physics, but I can assure you that some of those 'bumps and bruises' would require major surgery if they had been on someone else."

"I am more concerned about possible retaliation," Ya'Han said. "Somehow, I doubt that you managed all of this without drawing some attention and possibly triggering a few alarms along the way."

"We did what needed to be done," the ILO snarled. "We could not just stand by and wait. Being on the defensive, especially with a Lokustaar operative in the vicinity, will only lead to our defeat. The Shadows love to play the long game. They are patient and have no problem waiting. That means we need to push them to reveal their intents. To act as they are not expecting us to."

"Captain Antares and his men are our allies," the CMO pointed out as she continued working on the Ensign's injuries.

"That is still to be proven," Gemma said, the multi-facetted not sounding at all optimistic.

As a ship's Counselor, Adriana needed to keep a positive outlook on everything in general. This was tempered by the requirements of her role as Junior Ambassador which demanded an unclouded and realistic perspective. When it came to the Lokustaar and more specifically Mordana, Lopez had to face the facts that her opinion was very much biased. Trusting someone like Captain Antares was one thing, but trusting his associate, a woman with a long and dark history, this no matter how helpful he claimed her to have been recently, was exceptionally difficult if not flat out impossible.

-=-=-
Marissa Montonera-Lombardi

Lieutenant JG Adriana Lopez [Access Character BIO for Adriana Lopez]
Ship's Counselor & Junior Ambassador
USS ANUBIS
M01-080: USS HATHOR: Ya’Han: 36102.0815 ("Shadows of the Past")
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“Shadows of the Past”
Previous posts: "Nothing To Be Cheerful About” by Marissa
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Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Sonja's Guest Quarters
Stardate: 36102.0815

With Enel in the tender care of Doctor Andersson, and the rest of the gathered officers discussing the current state of their mission, the Sec/Tac decided to withdraw herself from the group. She needed some quiet time to think.

Once she stepped into the corridor and the door closed behind her, Ya'Han leaned against a nearby wall and allowed herself to slide into a sitting position, her back against the wall and her knees bent up to her chest. Her black hair provided the perfect veil to hide her face as she bowed her head.

Memories of her time on the SPHINX with Jayson's clone following their escape from KTARIS and the cloning facility flooded the mind of the Nylaan. So many things had happened between then and now that she had never thought those memories would surface, bringing with them a universe of pain and sorrows.

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FLASHBACK
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Setting: SPHINX, Flight Deck
Stardate: 34003.1510

"You have proven yourself through your actions," Jayson said. "Right now though, she is not ready to trust anyone, not that she truly ever did before. We just have to accept that it will take her time to understand that you have made your choice and embraced the destiny that is yours to claim. Imagine the face of that Ferengi troll Ardax when you take control of the throne of NYLA IV and send a few Shadow vessels to decimate his trade fleet. You will even be able to have him dragged down to kneel before you before his head is separated from his shoulders."

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Setting: OTAR II, Underground Complex
Stardate: 34008.1430

The man who was in charge of the underground complex on OTAR II stood in front of Mordana as if held by some sort of invisible forcefield as his head bounced at his feet. The Shadow Operative was not in the mood to be given excuses and the loss of yet another cloning facility was more than she cared to deal with at this time.

"I'm guessing that we are done here," Jayson said, not at all surprised by the way this meeting had come to an end.

Ya'Han wanted to feel bad for the man. Whatever he had done, she believed that he did not deserve the fate that he received, but then again he did make a choice to side with the Lokustaar, and if only for that reason the Sec/Tac could not find it within her to feel any sort of sorrow for him.  "Why was this facility not better protected?" The Nylaan asked, instinctively falling back on her ways and training.

Mordana shot an icy glare at the Nylaan before storming away; leaving the clone of Jayson Stark to answer the question, if that was his intent.  "According to the computer records, the base was being attacked by local troops. The Lokustaar normally charged with defending this facility were relocated to help protect the upper levels but somehow, someone managed to make it down here and using a plasma grenade, caused a chain reaction that destroyed all of the pods, killing all of the clones inside."

Ya'Han did a quick count of the shattered pods contained in the room. "12 by 12, that's only 144 clones. Is there another room somewhere?"

"The cloning facility of KTARIS was the largest one," Jayson stated. "This one was meant to be for operatives to help solidify control once the Lokustaar would win the war."

The Nylaan made sure that the Shadow Operative was well out of earshot before speaking. "Well, looks like that won't happen anytime soon. The Lokustaar were too arrogant in the way they scattered their assets throughout the galaxy. They believed themselves to be untouchable, unstoppable thanks to their ability to remain unseen, and that lack of planning will prove to be their ultimate downfall."

"Accusing the Lokustaar of 'lack of planning' show just how little you know them," the clone said in their defense. "The plan to invade this dimension was hundreds of years in the making, and this setback does not mean that the war is over."

"Do you truly believe that they can still win and conquer this dimension?" Ya'Han asked showing a hint of surprise.

"I have to," the clone admitted. "I was created by them and they made sure that I could never doubt them or their ability to achieve their goal.

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End of FLASHBACK
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Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Corridor outside Sonja's Guest Quarters
Stardate: 36102.0820

As much as Mordana had never fully trusted Ya'Han then, the Nylaan found herself unable to trust the former Lokustaar operative now. The woman had proven herself to be a loyal servant to the race of dimensional conquerors, not to mention a formidable patient and calculating adversary.  Gemma was right, to trust her now would only lead to trouble.

"Are you alright?" A feminine voice asked.

The sitting daydreamer was so caught up in her thoughts and memories that she failed to notice someone coming to stand in front of her. Given the stealth of the woman, and the Sec/Tac's last thoughts, the Nylaan brushed her black hair out of the way expecting to see the HATHOR's ILO standing there, but instead Ya'Han found a woman with hair and clothing as black as her hair looking down at her.

"YOU!" The Sec/Tac gasped, quickly jumping to her feet in the span of a single heartbeat.

"Hello, Ya'Han," Mordana calmly said even going as far as to add a smile afterward, the woman visibly not in the least bit startled by the Nylaan's speedy reaction. "Are you alright?"

"No," the Sec/Tac grumbled as she tightened her combat stance. "You are here. You should not be here, or anywhere else for that matter."

Mordana offered a gentle, soft smile, the woman still not showing any outward physical reactions to the battle-ready Nylaan in front of her. "I know that my past actions have caused a great deal of pain to you and your friends. I just do not remember doing anything. My last memory is of my waking on a severely damaged ship while being rescued by Captain Antares and his crew."

"You don't remember?!?" Ya'Han was beyond angry, so much so that her hair turned bright red more so then ever before. "Fine!, Then allow me to refresh your memories," she added clenching her teeth.

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FLASHBACK
(taken from M14-P050)
(the below was written by Francois who gave me permission to use)  
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Setting:  OLTHAR PRIME, Underground Ruins, Temple of Light
Stardate: 34016.2245

Ya'Han walked back into the temple followed by Jayson, a sight that surprised no one.

"Welcome back," Commander Shar'El said before turning back to look at Elan. This would be the excuse she would use to end their stay here. It might not have been a truly valid reason, but it was one that the First Officer needed to take full advantage of if she was to get everyone back to the ANUBIS anytime soon.  "It is time for us to go."

A general sigh of sadness filled the temple as everyone came to accept, although reluctantly, what they needed to do next. As they turned toward the entranceway they were surprised to see someone else standing behind the Human/Nylaan couple.

"Elder Emzaw, we are glad to see you here, although I will admit that I am a little puzzled. I was not expecting you to wake for quite some time," Doctor Bruxa stated. Since the clones, as far as she was concerned, had been disposed of, there was no reason for her not to accept the aged Oltharian for the person he appeared to be.

"I am fine," the Oltharian said, easily closing the doors to the temple behind him with a single hand. "Before you all leave though, there is something that we need to take care of."

With the real Jayson now safe on the other side of the closed doors, Ya'Han decided to act. At least now they outnumbered the clones, and hopefully, that would be enough to put an end to this before it went any further. "Commander, these are the clones!"

"The clones?" Shar'El gasped but before anything more could be said or done, the Oltharian Elder raised his hand displaying the odd device strapped against his palm and fired a beam of energy hitting the Nylaan square in the back.  Ya'Han managed to raise her arms up before being frozen in place, an expression of utter agony engraved on her face.

"What are you doing here?" Elan demanded, the giant ready to rush the two clones whom he had believed vanquished by the woman who had sacrificed herself for them.

"What am I doing here?" The Elder repeated with a grin. "My dear nephew, I am doing what I was meant to do. Your little girlfriend only postponed the inevitable by doing what she did, now I am here to correct the mistake she did, both today and so many centuries ago.  Would you believe that instead of banishing us to wherever she sent Mordana, she ended up sending us to some secret room where we were able to find a great many things? One was an explanation as to what she did back then, the other was the means to undo it. This little device was meant to draw out the life energy of a person in order to redirect it elsewhere.  Apparently, it was used as some sort of capital punishment by the ancient Olthairans, but she used the idea employed by this device to seal the ancient Lokustaar by transferring half of her own life force to create the barrier that stands today.  Now, with this, I can undo what she did and let the ancient Lokustaar free to claim this planet and the entire galaxy as their own. Before that though, I will take care of you all."

Using the energy he had drained from the Nylaan during his monologue, the clone of the Oltharian Elder created some sort of force field that pushed everyone back against whatever stood behind them. No matter how strong they were, or how hard they fought against this field, they could do nothing but wait to see what would happen next.

Weakened to the point of not being a threat in any way, Ya'Han crumbled onto the floor and despite being barely able to move, she managed to lift her head enough to look back at the clone of Jayson. She was too weak to say anything but her pleading eyes were all the copy of Lieutenant Stark needed to understand what the now black-haired woman wanted from him.  Quickly looking around to find something that he would be able to use to help, he noticed that the other members of the away team were moving, more than they should have given the circumstances.

"Her life energy is weakening and will not be enough to hold all these people where they stand," Jayson said to the Elder who scanned those he was pinning to the circular walls and pillars of this temple to see that the claim was accurate. Understanding that he needed a more powerful source of energy, the Oltharian switched his target from the Nylaan to the very floor they were standing on. Within seconds, a tremendous wave of energy exploded from the Oltharian Elder and pushed everyone completely back against whatever was behind them. The force of the wave was such that even the limp body of Amber Satori was shoved off the altar to land against Elan who had been standing right next to her.

The gentle giant fought back tears as the lifeless body of his beloved pressed against him while he was powerless to do anything else but watch as a dark shadow began to take form in the center of the temple.  The process took several minutes, but it soon became perfectly clear as to whom this dark figure was. In spite of Amber's greatest effort and sacrifice, the Shadow Operative known as Mordana was back.

As soon as she regained full physical form, the lady in black dropped onto her knees, clearly exhausted by the ordeal she had just suffered through.  Seeing this, and recalling what the device in his hand had been designed to do, the clone of Bardef Emzaw once again shifted the target of the energy-draining beam onto the incapacitated Nylaan woman. Ya'Han immediately let out a scream of agony as the remainder of her energy force was being taken away in order to be given to the Shadow Operative to restore her strength.  The Chief of Security closed her eyes, trying as best she could to make peace with the fact that this would be her final moment. It was not the end she had envisioned, and certainly not the way she had hoped to face death, but there was nothing she could do about it now. That was when the pain suddenly stopped allowing her to, with great difficulty, turn her head to see what had happened.  Standing between the Oltharian Elder and herself was Jayson's clone who had stepped into the path of the beam.

"What are you doing?" The Elder demanded.

"I cannot allow you to kill her," the clone stated with assurance and determination. "You are a coward and undeserving of being a creation of the Lokustaar."

"Is that so?" The Oltharian said laughing. "You are a sentimental fool, making you even less worthy to be a creation of our masters. So I will feel no remorse whatsoever in giving you the end that you so rightfully deserve," after having said this the Elder pushed the device to its highest power setting, draining every ounce of life force from the other clone.

"I may be a fool," Jayson said through clenched teeth as he fought back the pain that was coursing through his body, "but I am a fool who has actually experienced love. That alone makes me better than you or anyone like you will ever be, and that makes me happy."

"Then die a happy man my friend and embrace the knowledge that through your death, Mordana will be stronger than ever."

It took a couple of minutes before the clone of Jayson Stark finally collapsed onto the ground right next to Ya'Han, every cell in his body having been drained of the life energy they contained.  Possessing the clone's energy, Mordana rose back to her feet appearing stronger and more dangerous than ever before.  "What a fool," she said looking at the shriveled, lifeless form laying on the ground. "He actually loved you, and look where that brought him.  Love is not a strength, it is a weakness, and you do not have to look any further than right here for proof of that.  Now, kill her and let them witness the true futility of love and their stupid hopes."

The clone of the Oltharian Elder did as ordered and aimed the beam back at Ya'Han who once again let out a scream of pure agony.  The sight was too much for poor Elan to manage, so he turned his attention back onto the woman being pressed against him thinking that as far as he was concerned, love was not a weakness but something better and stronger than anyone could ever understand. That was when he noticed Amber opening her eyes.

"You are alive!" He gasped in complete astonishment, his overflowing joy enough to allow him to momentarily fight against the force pushing him back in order to wrap his arms around her.

"I was never dead," she explained sounding very weak. "I just used the last of my own life energy to trap Mordana, that same energy that is now being used to hold you and the others.  I am able to reabsorb some of that energy but not enough to be able to fight or help your friend."

"What can I do?" Elan asked, still trying to make sense of what he was seeing, hearing and feeling.

"Just hold me," Amber said feeling the strength of his arms grow as he held her tighter.

Back at the center of the temple, Mordana was enjoying the sight of Ya'Han being drained of her life energy. This was the best possible death the traitor deserved and the only regret the Shadow Operative had was that she was not the one causing her the pain she was currently experiencing. At least, the energy being drained from this foolish woman would serve a greater purpose through its new vessel.

"STOP!" The booming voice filled the temple so much so that it shook the entire structure. It took no time for the Oltharian Elder and Mordana to locate the source of this command which neither one of them could believe.

"Today seems to be a day of surprises," Mordana said as she looked upon a very much alive Amber Satori, the woman still being held by Elan although she had turned around to face the other way.  "I will admit that I am at a loss to understand what happened though. I felt you die, or was that only some sort of trickery on your part?"

"It was no trick," Amber clarified. "I died, in that this physical form ceased to be able to function when I used the last of my life force to trap you as I did the evil so many years ago. Your friend is currently using that same energy to keep everyone from interfering. Although by itself it was not enough for me to do anything, I am using some of Elan's own life energy to give this form the strength it needs to stop you."

"No matter, I will be more than happy to kill you myself. Using your lover's life energy to fight me will be your final mistake," Mordana announced as she called up dark shadowy energy from beneath the temple, directly from the ancient Lokustaar trapped there using one hand and redirecting it towards the woman with the other.

"I only made one mistake," Amber conceded as a shield of light appeared before her, deflecting the dark energy summoned by the Shadow Operative. "Instead of trapping the evil that came to this planet, I should have destroyed it as I will do now to you.  I find it interesting that I have learned more in the last lifetime than I had over countless centuries before, and one thing that I did learn is that trapping evil only allows it to resurface at a later time. The only true way to defeat darkness is to vanquish it." As she said this, Amber stepped out of Elan's embrace and around the altar where she had been laid as her final resting place not that long ago.  "I need your help," Satori said to everyone else. "Please, allow me to use some of your life force so that I can finish this once and for all."

Everyone quickly agreed, not that Amber had suspected that things would go any differently. Now having access to the life force of the others, the one thing she had hoped to avoid doing in order to not endanger their lives, the being of light could call upon powers that she had not used since the times when these walls were the heart of the Oltharian culture.  The shield of light that was protecting her quickly grew to envelop her entire body, making her shine like a blinding sun.  "Love will always defeat hate," she announced as the light grew even brighter. "Light will always defeat darkness, and as long as I am here, there will be light in this universe to fight and push back the darkness that you represent."

The purest of white light filled the temple before everyone found themselves free of the force that was pushing them back against the walls. As eyes readjusted to the normal illumination, the members of the away team noticed that Mordana was gone and that the clone of the Oltharian Elder was now on his hands and knees, reeling in pain.  Fearing that he might try something, Counselor Lopez, who was one of the closest, quickly rushed in and took the device away making sure that he could not use it again.

"Is everyone all right?" Shar'El asked of the others, the Commander feeling weaker than she ever had before.  Several quick acknowledgements were received, everyone sounding as weak as she felt.  "See, it works better when we all work together," the First Officer said to the woman who appeared the weakest of them all.

After doing a rapid check of the others, Doctor Bruxa made her way to Amber to make sure that she too was all right, that was when she felt something unexpected - a heartbeat.  "Are you all right?" Satella asked, not entirely sure what to make of this.

"I am as you all are," Amber cryptically replied. "Trapping evil once required half of my life force. Destroying it has completely stripped me of what I was. It was only thanks to all of the energy you provided me with that I am still here, although it is clear that I am not what I once was."

"We need to get back to the ANUBIS," the Doctor said. "I need to run some tests and figure out what happened."

"Agreed," Shar'El added. "There are a lot of questions that need answers, and I suspect that we will not be able to do this here.  At least now we only have to worry about one prisoner, right?" The Commander asked, looking at the last remaining clone.

"Mordana is quite dead, as are all of the ancient Lokustaar who were trapped beneath this temple," Amber said. "I can assure you that they will not be coming back."

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End of FLASHBACK
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Setting: ISLE OF TRANQUILITY, Corridor outside Sonja's Guest Quarters
Stardate: 36102.0825 

"Interesting," was all that Mordana said before walking away, leaving the enraged Sec/Tac to deal with her pain and emotions on her own, which she did by collapsing back down to the floor in the position she had been found in, sobbing uncontrollably.

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Hanali Han <sectacyahan@gmail.com>

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

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