Docstoc

20

Document Sample
20 Powered By Docstoc
					20.01.2003 – 02.07.2003


Posted by Galen Winters on 20.01.2003 at10:29:

 The Razor's Edge

Galen sat at his customary station in the pilot‘s chair, fingers easing Heart of Gold through
final approach procedures to the Hole, home to a plethora of unsavory characters. He had
decloaked the ship barely outside the station‘s detection ranges, not wanting to get fired
upon nor appear hostile to any of a dozen ships that might be there at any given moment.
Etiquette was a term that one did not normally associate with pirates and smugglers, but it
existed, in its own warped form. There were rules, and ways of doing things, which
seemed mad to the outside observer, but when taken in context actually made perfect
sense. The docking instructions were handled with a minimum of chatter, and completely
by text message, to avoid identification of the speaker. The Heart of Gold‘s ID transponder
was likewise shut off, advertising one‘s identity frowned upon in these circles. With a
rather short wait, the text flowed across Galen‘s number three VDU, and he followed it to
the letter. Armed stations were the norm, not the exception in the Alkes field, and he had
no doubt that passive sensors were pointing several large and powerful cannon in his
direction.

The Heart of Gold slid into bay four quietly, parked between a rather battered mining
freighter, and a sleek-looking Angel, no doubt someone of status around here. A few
missile bays and guns were evident upon her curvaceous hull, nothing which Galen wanted
to test against HoG‘s shields, to be sure. With a low hum of hydraulics, the landing gear
deployed, the familiar lurch as the ship‘s artificial gravity shut down, only to be replaced
by the station‘s own no doubt playing havoc with his navigator‘s fragile stomach. At least
the station was kept at a respectable .55 G, which would help the unspacerlike valertrez
keep his lunch down.

A rather grimy looking tech sauntered over slowly, attaching the external power feed to
the port on the starboard landing leg, and Galen dropped output on the reactor to bare
minimum to sustain a reaction. One did not leave the ship unpowered in the Hole if you
wished to maintain safety. Shutting down his consoles, Galen rose from the temper foam
cushions, stretching the tension out of his muscles, if not his mind. He punched the comm
button for shipwide, and spoke quickly. ―We‘ve docked for a little stopover, ladies and
gentlemen. I don‘t want anyone off the ship alone, it‘s rather nasty out there, but this
place boasts one of the better black markets in the system. I‘m going to be leaving in a bit
to go shopping, and I want at least two ship officers on board at all times while we‘re here.
Salfiri, if you could meet me in twenty minutes, port side airlock, with full armaments. We
want to fit in, after all. Once we get our business done here, which shouldn‘t take more
than a day or two, we‘ll be leaving straight for Anuurn to find the good doctor. If you have
any questions, meet me at the airlock before I leave. Captain out,‖ he concluded,
depressing the button again, and marching off to his quarters to get dressed in more
businesslike attire.

Eighteen minutes later, Galen was standing by the airlock, wearing a pair of pants and a
vest in charcoal grey mohair over a pale blue cotton shirt and a blood red silk tie, all of
which which was covered by the pale grey trench coat. The comforting weight of both
pistols likewise adorned his frame, the caster held in a low-rise holster attached to his
right thigh, the small Vultenna in a shoulder holster under his right arm, ready to be drawn
by the left hand if necessary. The fact that he wore nothing openly and his ateva
companion likely would spoke volumes about what his apparent status was. Those who
walked into the Hole without a weapon were either very foolish, or very dangerous, and
Galen was hoping that no one would test which he was.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 20.01.2003 at23:13:
Too concentrated on his work, Ragnar didn‘t even notice as Galen worked away behind
him. Hell, he didn‘t even notice as they approached the Hole. The slight yet sudden lurch
of the new gravity well gave him a distinct (but quite manageable, unlike at Stargazer)
discomfort. He stopped his work and squeezed his eyes shut, listening to his captain on
the intercom.

…Nasty? Sounds like a great place. I‟m gonna be sleeping with my gun next to me
tonight…

His train of thought broke. Armaments. Quickly, he fumbled the PDA out of his left front
pocket and worked it with quick precision. He found that he had a few thousand deccas left
in his account. That would be more than enough.

Ragnar trudged wearily down the corridor to the ladder. Finding it difficult to make it
down, the tired mechanic decided he‘d had enough. After this, he‘d head back to his
quarters (next to the reactor core, of course) and get some rest.

Finding Galen alone, he said, ―Going out, are ya? If you don‘t mind, there‘s a requisition
I‘d like to make while you‘re out there.‖

"Yeah?" The big Valertrez said neutrally.

Ragnar was about to continue, but a steady (yet somehow unnerving) voice came through
his earpiece, planted firmly on his left ear. That voice, he recognized, was that of Rewedyk
Videlius.

―Ragnar, could you please bring a Repairer Toolkit in the dropship is, quick? I…‖ Though
The Serpent‘s voice trailed off, Ragnar got the message clear enough.

Licking his lips, he continued quickly. ―I want a Caster pistol. Smoked finish, soft rubber
grip, and a barrel-tip sight. I have the money for it, and…‖ He lost his train of thought for a
moment; he was trying not to think about the message. What was it, a short circuit?
Ragnar thought it to be something a little more than that…

―…and, uhh, I can make an e-transfer to your account any time you‘d like. Except for now,
seeing as shipmate Videlius may be needing my help presently. Sound good?‖ He didn‘t
wait for a reply; his head was starting to fog up slightly from fatigue and the gravity shift.
―Good…have a safe trip, Galen.‖ He ended with a note of sobriety. After a moment, he
turned down the hallway and sighed. He picked his heels up as he made his way to the
ladder. This day doesn‟t want to end, does it? He frowned visibly.

―Yeah, Rewedyk, I copy that. Grabbing some stuff, I‘ll be down there ASAP.‖ He didn‘t
need to know more; it wouldn‘t help any.

Almost bursting through the doorway to the maintenance bay, he quickly scanned the
room and grabbed a medium-sized textured plastic case. In it was all the basic tools a
mechanic would need to do things ranging from electronic work to routine testing to simple
machine adjustment. If this didn‘t contain all he needed… We be screwed.

Quickly, but without so much energy, the mechanic hustled down to the bay. His heels
resounded clearly as he made his way down.

At last, he came through the doors of the bay. Rewedyk was poking at their newly
acquired dropship.

―I‘m here, Rewedyk.‖ He said sternly. ―What‘s going on?‖ He came to a stop a few feet
from the ship.




Posted by The Serpent on 23.01.2003 at00:02:
Rewedyk picked away haplessly at the worm through his Wrist DB, the little creep being
simple enough to get to through outside means. He wondered if he was correct at all,
which he was fairly certain he was, would it be his fault if the Dropship decided to
spontaneously combust and most probably take 1/3 of The Heart of Gold with him. Hey,
the ship was his responsibility at the moment as he had been the one to be put in charge
of cleaning up the rotten thing. Over-evaluation sucks ass, he knew that much.
So he just went on, killing the little bugs in the system as much as he could get to, though
he knew it would do no good, if not even make matters worse, waiting for Argoth and the
package he was ment to bring the greyhaired freak of Osiris.
Ragnar came rather quickly – Rewedyk had only managed to murder one little btton on his
Wrist DB by excessive nervous tapping, driving the poor thing into the deeper end of the
plastic core it was mounted on – and the hacker was quite thankful for it, at least he would
have someone else to mutter at besides his lonesome self.

Without much glorification or welcoming words – read: none – Videlius grabbed the parcel
the mechanic had brought and cracked it open immediately, rummaging through the inner
of it with haste. He quickly found what he was after, a simple miniature plasmatorch and a
wannabe knife and unceremoniously picked them out, pushing the rest of the box aside.
Sitting Indian-style as he was, pricking away at the hull of the modified vessel under him,
he proved to quite the extravagant sight. The small sparks sprinkled all around, though
they were mostly harmless and even if they weren‘t, Serp was much too preoccupied with
trying to spoon his way into the damn ship to notice any pain. ―Success!‖ he muttered
darkly as the edges parted from the majority of the covering and he was able to part the
piece and nonchalantly throw it aside, making it impact sharply with the ground not so far
below.

Nearly blind to the rest of the world, the lanky man selected a standard edition power
cutter from the stash at his side and stuck it into the void before him, searching around
with it for awhile before feeling it click into place. He gave a glance to the screen of his DB
and muttered a titbit of something, his complection going even paler than usual. Miracles
can happen, folks.
Rewedyk grinned weakly as he cared to note the older Valertrez, standing apathetically by
the ship. The serpent must have been too busy to process the data that someone else was
in the room besides him and his demons. ―Say, Argoth, ever seen a bomb the size of a
dropship?‖




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 23.01.2003 at05:31:

 Two posts in one month! I'm moving now!

Ragnar watched with some curiosity as the lanky Videlius snatched the case from his left
hand. Unmoving still, he watched as the other began to work on the dropship before him.

It looked to be in very good shape, possibly new. It was a more expensive model, quite an
impressive addition to a ship such as this (especially when it hadn‘t been paid for).

Had Rewedyk told him of the situation, he might not have thought it such an ‗impressive
addition.‘

He continued watching his fellow shipmate work, not bothering to ask what the problem
was, or address the fact that Ragnar thought he could probably help. Truth was, he was
thinking more about sleeping at the moment. If he could, he‘d stay a few minutes, but he
was sure he was going to be peacefully asleep in ten minutes‘ time.

Of course, he took a few steps toward the action and squatted down when Rewedyk finally
muttered something. Something he‘d just cut up hit the ground next to them.

He blinked, then heard the silent one next to him speak directly at him.

What he said hung in Ragnar‘s mind for a long moment. He turned it over several times,
poked it with a ten-foot pole several times, and still didn‘t like the sound of it. Finally, he
decided to break out in a sweat. It was the sort that came out suddenly, and made his skin
itch madly. He knew damn well what it meant.

―Well…to be blunt, I suppose I have seen a bomb the size of a small ship. In fact, I didn‘t
know it was a bomb until this fellow named Rewedyk told me it was.‖

Somewhat annoyed by his own humor, he thought, What fun! Only bombs I‟ve ever dealt
with were those simple powder bombs back on SCeven (Ragnar‘s shorthand for Scorpion
Seven; he didn‘t, and still doesn‘t, like the word ‗scorpion‘ after living on the stations for
20 years)…and I don‟t think this is a powder bomb.

―I know electronics, though I‘ve never worked with a bomb like that before. I‘d like to see
us come out of this in one piece as much as you, so give me something to do, if you can..‖




Posted by Salfiri on 23.01.2003 at12:04:



Salfiri had grasped Galen's hand in her own larger one and assured him that it would be an
honour to serve aboard the Heart of Gold until she recieved orders from Lord Remo to
return to Shai-san. And in that time since their conversation in the mess hall, she had
done her best to do just that.

She had been aware that they were approaching their destination within the Alkes Fields,
and place the Captain referred to colloquially as 'The Hole'. Having been planet-bound for
most of her life, she had never heard of the place before, let along been there, but there
are such places throughout the universe, and it was not hard to guess what they were
facing. There is something universal about smugglers' dives.

There is also something universal about security jackets. They are big, bulky and usually
covered in shiny bits of metal, all designed to be intimidating, and Salfiri's was no
exception. The metal plates on the shoulders of the sleeves were covered in angular Atevi
script, and it had a miriad of pockets and clips for objects.

―We‘ve docked for a little stopover, ladies and gentlemen. I don‘t want anyone off the ship
alone, it‘s rather nasty out there, but this place boasts one of the better black markets in
the system. I‘m going to be leaving in a bit to go shopping, and I want at least two ship
officers on board at all times while we‘re here. Salfiri, if you could meet me in twenty
minutes, port side airlock, with full armaments. We want to fit in, after all. Once we get
our business done here, which shouldn‘t take more than a day or two, we‘ll be leaving
straight for Anuurn to find the good doctor. If you have any questions, meet me at the
airlock before I leave. Captain out.‖

It was a good jacket, like an old faithful associate, and she caught it up and pulled it on,
doing the zip all the way up under her chin. She adjusted the ship's headset on her black
hair, and permitted a glance in the mirror before she made her way to the airlock to meet
Galen.

Eight and a half feet of ebony-skinned, golden-eyed alien is enough to intimidate anybody.
The same in a black security uniform is even more so. Her weapons belt was slung almost
casually about her hips, her Phoenix plasma pistol at her right hip and the long, wavy-
edged blade of a kris, a traditional Atevi fighting knife, at her left. The grips of two delicate
ritalanium blades were visible on her jacket in sheath-pockets, one on each sleeve, a
subtle statement. The things were usually sold in sets of five or six, no one would ever buy
only two. It begged the question 'Where are the others?' and the susequent thought: 'Are
you sure you want to piss me off enough to find out?'

Of course, the last thing that one would want in a place like The Hole would be to look
official, and it first thought it might seem that Salfiri's attire would give the wrong
impression. But although there is something universal about security jackets, there are
also subtle differences, and people in places like this tend to be observant. Her jacket
practically screamed 'planet-bred', and could never belong to properly uniformed space-
ship guard.

The space jackets were purely for show in the controlled environments onboard ship,
usually made of some hi-tech synthetic fibre and very light weight. Salfiri's jacket was real
leather, heavy and warm, the kind of thing that cost a small fortune out here in space, and
it looked well worn and well loved, no collector's piece. Her knee high boots were likewise
of smooth black leather, the silver zips as shiny as the studs on her jacket.

Salfiri greeted Galen at the hatch with a grave nod. "Nand' Captain." She said simply in
acknowledgement. Her impassive golden gaze looked him over, noting that he had no
weapons obvious, but also seeing the tell-tale signs in his posture and the way his clothing
fell that indicated the two pistols he carried. When one served as the security of a Lord of
the Association, one learned to spot such things. "One is ready, nand' Captain." She said
quietly. She nodded to Ragnar as he raced up, passed Galen his order and dissapeared
again, but said nothing, waiting mutely to follow orders.




Posted by The Serpent on 24.01.2003 at20:29:



―You know, if we were still in open space, I‘d advise to flush this thing right out. It keeps
reviving bugs in the system, not to mention producing what seem to be trackers
spontaneously. If I‘d say that I know what this thing is exactly, I‘d be telling the biggest lie
of my short life. From what I‘m guessing, it‘ll keep on manufacturing holes in the software
until it reaches the main power cores and kills them off too, which probably will lead to a
shiny fire.‖ He continued on voicing his lament to no one in particular, equally trying to
clear things up for himself and to brief his fellow crewmember – who looked like he had
gone through a Mannex cloud, by the way – Argoth. They both looked like they needed
sleep, though.

―Where the fuck are we anyway?‖ Rewedyk questioned lowly, red eyes glued to the
illuminate screen of his Wrist DB, trying to figure out exactly what to do with the gigantic
heap of trouble in front of him. It didn‘t really make much difference to him where they
were parked, he just knew they were thanks to the fact that he almost doubled over in
surprise as the tougher gravity set it. Didn‘t pay attention do whatever the captain had
said, though.
Heeey, that was a thought, the captain. Wonder if I should tell him that his ship could go
up in fireballs… he chuckled inwardly at the image that sprouted itself in his mind. Good ol‘
Winters probably wouldn‘t like to come back from a day in town and find that his grand
ship was nothing more than a steaming pile of ash and rithelanium. Goldie wouldn‘t be
very happy either, he guessed.
―Hey, do you think we should tell the captain? Or Goldie, if she doesn‘t know already?‖
Videlius questioned, at Ragnar.

―And yeah, you can do something. Start shutting off the smaller systems that feed off of
the 4 extra power routers, don‘t touch the main though, I don‘t know what that‘d do. And
try to be mindful, ‗cause this thing could kill us both.‖ Cheery little point to be made.




Posted by Donen Krell on 25.01.2003 at00:33:

 Nope...not dead yet.

Donen was thoroughly absorbed in pouring over the files on Atevi anatomy, physiology,
common illnesses…it was all fascinating. He had sort of a vague notion of the Atevi through
his training in the discipline of sarafin as a method of self-defense. Donen hated carrying
weapons, but he wasn‘t stupid. He‘d grown up in Alkes Field and had developed a healthy
paranoia and an ability to scare the shit out of people who thought he might be an easy
mark since he almost always traveled unarmed. But now that he had an Atevi crewmate,
he was becoming a bit obsessed about everything Atevi. He really wanted to talk more
with Salfiri about her home planet, her race‘s culture…maybe even have her give him
some pointers on his training in sarafin; although he wasn‘t sure if it was something she
even practiced. Just because the technique was developed by the Atevi didn‘t mean that all
Atevi practiced the discipline, after all.

Then an announcement from Captain Winters came out over the ship‘s comm.

“We‟ve docked for a little stopover, ladies and gentlemen. I don‟t want anyone
off the ship alone, it‟s rather nasty out there, but this place boasts one of the
better black markets in the system. I‟m going to be leaving in a bit to go
shopping, and I want at least two ship officers on board at all times while we‟re
here. Salfiri, if you could meet me in twenty minutes, port side airlock, with full
armaments. We want to fit in, after all. Once we get our business done here,
which shouldn‟t take more than a day or two, we‟ll be leaving straight for Anuurn
to find the good doctor. If you have any questions, meet me at the airlock before
I leave. Captain out.”

Hell, maybe I‟ll head out and see if I can tag along with Winters and Salfiri. Beats moping
around here or wandering around trying to avoid my mothers‟ questions or running into
old friends better forgotten. And his mind made up, Donen packed up his work station and
sprinted down to the portside airlock, hoping to catch up with the captain and the Atevi,
and finagle a way to butt in on their outing.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 25.01.2003 at06:47:



Ragnar listened to the man next to him as he talked frighteningly calmly. It was poignant
enough, though Ragnar had little experience in dealing with things of this sort. Things of
this sort, like bombs that could turn bay four (probably bays three and five as well) to little
more than memory. Like bugged ships and skinny hackers he wouldn‘t trust with his lunch
money. Like being in situations where he knew the risks and felt in at least a little control
of the situation.

Previous encounters with death had mostly dealt with firefights and quick flashes of
daggers as they approached his gullet, the like. Things he could evaluate the danger of
quite easily, things he could deal with-he always thought-rather easily. After all, he wasn‘t
dead yet, was he? In a gunfight, or a brawl, or a failed backstab, he‘d always been able to
see exactly what he was up against. Whether a scrawny Terran who proclaimed himself
‗the shit‘ with his little knife (―Wanna test that theory?‖ Ragnar once said as he drew his
sword from its concealed position in his trench coat), or a ring of street hustlers who were
fed up with his gang‘s thievery and beatings, he had always been able to analyze the
threat. That guy has a Sunburst, that guy is twice my size, there are fourteen of them.

This time, it was different. He didn‘t know just what the fuck was in that ship (A bomb,
yes, a bomb, but just what the fuck?), and he didn‘t know just what had to be done to
rectify the situation. Shooting the hell out of it was almost surely not going to work. At
least, not on the level it had done in the past. Sure, it‟ll solve the problem, but you won‟t
have time to celebrate victory before you‟re a smattering of atoms on the charred station
ceiling. He didn‘t have a solid idea on how to rid the ship of the bomb, short of maybe
staring absurdly at it and drinking the heaviest liquor he could find. But that really
wouldn‘t solve it…

So what was one to do in this situation? Follow someone who does know what they‘re
doing. Or, at least, has a slight idea of what they‘re doing. Or, at the very least, someone
who could give him the pretense that he did know what he was doing. Either way, Ragnar
was committed.
―Where the fuck are we anyway?‖ The Serpent said next to him.

Though Ragnar was thinking of other things at the moment than whatever Rewedyk had to
say to him, he replied automatically. ―We‘re in some minor gravity well good-humoredly
dubbed The Hole. Cap Winters is stopping in for something…I told him to get me a Caster
while he was out…‖ I may never see that pistol, Ragnar finished.

Ragnar blinked when he heard Galen and Goldie‘s names mentioned. He thought for a long
moment, then listened as his shipmate finished.

Great, I can do something. Ragnar smiled grimly as he made his way toward the hole in
the ship. He let Rewedyk move aside, then hoisted himself up easily and stood up in the
ship.

As he made his way to the rear of the ship, where the small reactor was humming slightly,
he thought about telling Winters and/or Goldie. ―I…suppose he-the cap-should know about
the situation, and seeing as I told him you needed help when I was in the middle of talking
to him, he‘s probably wondering. If she (he used the word very loosely) doesn‘t already
know about it…‖ Ragnar lowered his tone. ―she doesn‘t need to. I‘ll tell the captain…‖

―Captain Winters?‖ The mechanic paused for a response. ―That situation with Rewedyk I
spoke briefly of earlier… It seems you brought us a present with that ship of yours. There‘s
a bomb on the dropship you stole, apparently with some very clever tricks to go with it.
We‘re taking care of it, of course, but if you know me you should know there are no
guarantees…‖ He tried to end with a verbal wink, but he didn‘t think he pulled it off quite
right. ―You guys go out and get your stuff; there‘s nothing you guys can do that we can‘t.
As it is, there isn‘t much for me to do here. Even so, the problem is nothing we can‘t
handle…I‘ll be in bed by the time you get back.‖

Ragnar, weary but alert now, headed to the main power junction console, trying to
determine what he could shut off. Main power router…propulsion…this looks like enviro
system power…controls…and this. Whatever this is. After a moment, and with the rapid
tapping of keys, he found all the secondary systems (and, therefore, the ones he could
shut off).

―So…how‘re things looking?‖ Ragnar called from behind him, expecting to hear a ‗fine and
dandy‘ with a distracted and dismayed voice.




Posted by Galen Winters on 25.01.2003 at11:11:



Galen perked a brow over his stormy grey eyes, listening to the rather haphazard trail of
words spouted at him by Ragnar. ―Caster, got it.‖ he replied absently, equally preoccupied
with matters away from their current location. He had never had trouble here before, but
there was always a first time for everything. He gave a quiet nod to Salfiri, before
speaking. ―I certainly hope so, nadi.‖

The lock hissed open quickly, as if wanting to disgorge its contents and close as quickly as
possible, trying to keep the fetid air of the docks out of Heart of Gold‘s recyclers. The
boarding ramp was clear, as he had verified with the external cameras before opening the
outer door, but it still reeked of danger. Galen was about to take his first stride onto that
ramp, when the hurried pace of Donen Krell caught his ears, and he stopped, wondering
what the medic was up to. Getting a quick explanation from Donen, Galen merely
shrugged and said ―If you want to come along, you‘re more than welcome.

The first step out onto the perforated steel was hesitant, which struck Galen as a little odd.
They had barely been upon HoG for a month, yet those clean corridors still seemed
infinitely more like home than the grimy halls of IMC-7. The booted steps of all three
crewmates rang upon the deck plating, the ramp bouncing slightly with the considerable
weight of them upon it. Galen kept himself from reaching for the safety railing, only
because he thought losing his step was far less dangerous than laying a hand on the filthy
thing. Gods-be damned lazy station techs. You‟d think they‟d take at least a little pride in
their home he thought derisively, having been in their line of work once.

The ramp behind them, Galen halted a bit to take inventory of the dockside crowd, grey
eyes roving silently behind sunglasses that served to intensify the cold and calculating
manner he was trying to project. People without eyes always seemed a bit more
intimidating, and Galen was pulling out all the stops to avoid trouble. Well, to be fair,
people with three meter tall bodyguards also tend to be more intimidating he mused wryly,
thinking of Salfiri and his gratitude for having her along on this trip. Donen‘s presence was
likely welcome, a quick patch job on a sucking chest wound more than out of his area of
expertise.

The various crewmen and dock workers paid them little heed, beyond a quick visual
inventory of them, to assess them in the same manner as Galen, probably Salfiri, and
possibly even our good Mister Krell had done already. There were a few knots of hani,
staying clannishly close together and avoiding dealing with anyone not covered in fur. A
pair of atevi, likely in similar employ to Salfiri, flanked a rat-like human in a dark red flight
suit. This man kept his brown-eyed stare on the trio longer than most, before making a
show of dismissing them as unlikely to threaten whatever position he held.

The walk down the docks was taken at a leisurely pace, Galen certainly not wanting to
appear in any hurry, knowing that it would be seen as weakness, inviting more trouble
than he cared to think about. At last they reached the place, Galen coming to a halt before
a rather unremarkable hatchway attached to what looked to be a warehouse. Letting his
mental barriers drop, Galen let his mind wander, literally, before opening himself to Salfiri
and Donen, speaking directly into their minds to avoid any possibility of their conversation
being intercepted. Unless she‟s changed since I last saw her, Kendra‟s no threat. She has a
couple first generation enforcer „droids for that, so keep an eye out for them should the
need arise. I know they‟re illegal, so let‟s not get into that. They like to hide in the
shadows around the warehouse, and are very touchy if we end up getting rough with this
woman. Well, here goes nothing, he concluded, cutting contact in as expeditious a manner
as he could manage without causing discomfort to either the ateva or the human.

Trying to flick his ear slightly to hear the reassuring chime of the rings attached there,
Galen had to think a few moments before he realized that the reason he heard nothing
was that they weren‘t there in the first place. Muttering a low oath, Galen depressed the
large, grime-caked button next to the door, an off-key beep confirming the keystroke. The
door ground slowly open, gears obviously in sore need of lubrication, revealing a rather
dimly-lit cavern of a room, filled with all manner of ship parts, and other sundries needed
for space travel, all available for a price. That these prices were not marked, nor the
inventory sorted into any kind of order, did not go unnoticed by any of the crewmates.
Galen paused, waiting for the photosensitive plastic in his glasses to adjust to the lack of
light, their deep grey fading to near transparency after several seconds. Once this was
done, he cast about, looking for the shop‘s proprietor. At last locating her by the sound of
a grumbled string of epithets which Galen would have almost blushed at, had he not
known the source, Galen smiled softly.

―You really ought to watch your language, Kendra, or else I‘ll have to wash your mouth out
with SaniKleen,‖ Galen said cheerily, voice raised to reach his target wherever she might
be hiding.

‖Who the fuck are you to tell me to watch my fuckin‘ language, ya pillowbiting
cocksucker?‖ came a shouted reply. A few moments silence ensued, Galen smirking at
Kendra Washington‘s good mood. ‖Wait a minute. I know that fuckin‘ voice,‖ she
continued, waddling out from behind a stack of conspicuously unmarked crates. ‖Well, how
the fuck are ya, Galen?‖ she asked, an ivory smile wide upon her dark brown face. The
woman was human, if you could call it that, wearing a set of olive green coveralls that left
little to the imagination. The only problem with this was that most men would want
something of concealment from the very corpulent woman. Tipping the scales at nearly
100 kilos, despite her stature barely topping a meter and a half, didn‘t win Kendra many
dates. Those that did try to get to know her found her manner rather too abrasive to
continue upon any romantic path. Abrasive? Calling her abrasive is like saying a black hole
sucks he thought wryly, keeping a warm smile for Kendra, negotiations with her being
famously difficult when she was in a good mood, nearly impossible when she was pissed.

―I‘m doing okay, Kendra. Nice to see you‘re polite as ever,‖ he said, chuckling a bit.

‖Yeah. Well, if you don‘t like my mouth, fuck you.‖ she concluded as if it were a universal
truth. ‖And who‘s the bitch? You shoulda told me you liked big women, I might have given
you a taste, sweetie,‖ she said leeringly, meaning every word of it. Getting a placid gaze
from Galen, Her smile faded a bit, her feelings hurt. ‖S‘only a fuckin‘ joke, you guys, come
on,‖ she chided, before fixing Galen with those covetous eyes again.

―We‘re here on business, Kendra,‖ Galen stated flatly.




Posted by Galen Winters on 25.01.2003 at11:11:



A transformation took Kendra then, her smile going from lewd to downright wicked, profit
and business central to her way of thinking. ‖Ahh, well, you came to the right fuckin‘ place.
Whatcha need?‖

―Weapons,‖ the grey-eyed captain stated simply.

‖Ahh, yes. I heard you got your grandpa‘s fuckin‘ ship. Been tryin‘ to sell him a pair of
matched cloudbursts for years. Guess you finally decided to see fuckin‘ sense where he
didn‘t, huh?‖ she asked.

Galen was only mildly surprised to find Kendra so well-informed, her sources manifest and
widespread. ―Nothing so light, Kendra dear. I would have gone to a more reputable, and
more . . . legally sound . . . source if I wanted something that small.‖

‖Galen, you‘re breaking my fuckin‘ balls here. You know I carry only legal fuckin‘ salvage.
Anyone who says different is full of shit, or fuckin‘ dead,‖ she said, menace rising in her
inflection.

Galen gave her a dismissive look, forcing an air of non-chalance. ―Kendra, let‘s cut the
bullshit, shall we? You have items I need. Items which would raise all sorts of questions if
they were found in your possession by more law-abiding people? Given the military nature
of these weapons, I‘d say it‘s a cast iron bitch finding anyone who could mount them
properly. Am I right?‖

‖Galen, I‘m quite sure I don‘t know what the fuck you‘re talking about,‖ Kendra replied,
anger tempered a little now by fear.

―I saw the report about the Engreia ship your buddies offed near here. You‘re the best
fence in Alkes, Kendra. They sold you salvage you couldn‘t resist, for the price, and which
you‘ve recently found out you can‘t dump quick enough, am I right?‖ Galen asked, already
knowing the answer from the woman‘s surface mood. ―I‘d also wager to say that the boys
in blue are working over anyone who deals in salvage around here, to find out if they have
anything from that wreck. They haven‘t gotten to you yet, but it‘s only a matter of time
before they do. Now I doubt you‘d be stupid enough to try and bluff your way out of
interrogation. Engreia Special Services doesn‘t pull punches, and they‘ll take the
information from you by force. Once they do that, you‘re a walking corpse. Whatever
contacts you have will want you dead faster than you can blink. I can take these items off
your hands for you, and I‘ll even reimburse your costs in acquiring them. It‘s a win-win,
Kendra. I get guns on the cheap, you get trouble off your doorstep. A rather neat and tidy
deal, if I do say so myself.‖

Kendra threw daggers in Galen‘s direction, a withering gaze which would have been far
more effective if she hadn‘t known he was right. ‖Fuck you, Winters,‖ she replied simply,
trying to salvage some pride with bluster, and failing miserably. ‖What the fuck do you
need?‖

―What do you have left?‖

‖I still have R-type missile magazines for Ravager, Swarmer and Artemis launchers, half a
dozen each. That and a quartet of Theratron D-79 gauss cannons, dust guns,‖ she
elaborated.

―I‘ll take the lot,‖ Galen said with a smile.

‖Are you outta your fuckin‘ mind? You try and sell that shit anywhere, you‘re gonna have
the same little problem, and they‘ll trace it back to me and I‘ll be just as dead,‖ she
protested.

―Who said I‘m selling any of it?‖ Galen asked with an aloof look.

The stopped another gout of profanity-riddled speech from Kendra‘s filthy mouth for a few
seconds, before her shock wore off. ‖You‘re going to mount four dust cannons on a
Pegasus?!?‖

―I don‘t have the Gold Digger anymore, Kendra. HoG can handle that loadout and more
besides. Whatever half-wit you‘ve got as a tech can probably even install them, if your
friends removed them with care from their original mounts.‖

Kendra slowly put two and two together, a mischievous smile creasing her pudgy face.
‖Ahhh, so that‘s you what‘s makin‘ all the fuckin‘ noise down on the docks. Beauty of a
ship, Galen. Be a pity if she were damaged,‖ Kendra remarked off-handedly.

―Yes, it would. Because I‘d have to rip out someone‘s throat if that happened,‖ Galen shot
back, trying to tense claws that weren‘t there.

The dark-skinned woman relaxed some then, pulling a small PDA from her pocket, and
punching in a few codes. ‖Docking bay four, right?‖ she asked, getting a nod from Galen.
She tapped once more on the touch screen with the stylus, sending instructions to her
people to get things underway.

Galen trusted her to her word, strangely enough, knowing that one didn‘t deal in stolen
goods long with people who resorted to plasma and blade when cheated, instead of the
courts. He withdrew a small data crystal from his right pocket, with the temporary
accounts holding the majority of what money they had left. ―Half of the account codes are
burned on there, you get the rest when I have delivered goods. Pleasure doing business
with you, Kendra,‖ he said smoothly.

‖Yeah, what-the-fuck-ever, Galen,‖ she shot back grumpily, pocketing the money quickly.
Galen turned to leave then, wanting to put as much distance between him and a very
unhappy Kendra Washington as quickly as possible.


The door ground shut behind the pair, and Galen let go a sigh of relief, thinking the worst
of this visit over. ―Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think that went well,‖ he said
optimistically, before his eyes fell on a small knot of humans sitting in their path back to
the docks, behind which stood the red-clad rat, complete with atevi escort. The lot of them
had the easy look of ones who felt that they held the edge. Courage in numbers Masahiko-
san had called it, once long ago, and Galen knew that this was going to be a very
interesting conversation. Large spanners and blades were evident, also a few sidearms
hanging loosely in holsters that looked like they had seen plenty of use.

Then there was this cheery notice, delivered via the brand new comm headset he was
wearing.

―Captain Winters? That situation with Rewedyk I spoke briefly of earlier… It seems you
brought us a present with that ship of yours. There‘s a bomb on the dropship you stole,
apparently with some very clever tricks to go with it. We‘re taking care of it, of course, but
if you know me you should know there are no guarantees…‖

―Then again, I could be wrong,‖ Galen remarked sotto voce.




Posted by Salfiri on 28.01.2003 at13:22:



Salfiri followed Galen out onto the disgustingly dirty deck plating, walking to the side and
slightly behind the Captain, where she could watch him and everything he saw, as well as
more to either side of him. He was also still within reach, given her greater armspan. She
was also watching Donen out of the corner of her eye as the medic walked in the Captain's
wake, aware that she was responsible for his safety as well, and that unlike the Captain,
Donen wasn't carrying any weaponry.

As they stepped out onto the dock Salfiri noted it's ill-kempt and dirty nature, but was far
more interested in the people that occupied it. A few humans here and there, lounging
against oddments of cargo or strolling unhurriedly - she still could not tell Terran from
Valertrez, but suspected that these were largely the latter - and several groups of hani
talking together and avoiding anyone outside of their circles. She gave all of the above a
quick glance over, noting weapons obvious and hidden where she could tell them, but
none seemed particularly agressive, and her flat golden gaze - much like Galen's glasses in
that, amongst species accustomed to eyes with pupils, she did not appear to see - elicited
no reactions from them.

But that same gaze was drawn to the pair of Atevi guards flanking a small and unpleasant
looking human, presumably serving much the same function as she did. The small human
watched them for a long moment, and though it wasn't as obvious due to their golden
gaze, his two bodyguards did the same, obviously noting their employer's interest.

And employer he must be, for it was rare for a non-Atevi to hold an Ateva's man-chi. And
indeed, she could see that each of them had a single white ribbon woven through their
braids, signifying that they had no alliegence at all. Traditionally only Atevi Lords had no
man-chi to others, and they wore their family colours. Only non-Atevi and those who had
been outcast or had somehow lost those to who they held man-chi wore the white. So
these two were true mercenaries, and therefor doubly dangerous.

And it wasn't just that thought that made the hair on the back of Salfiri's neck rise. As she
spotted them, a name sounded in her head, Padiri. Padiri was a member of the Atevi
assassin's Guild, and had a partner called Kawari. Only now Kawari was dead, at the hands
of Salfiri and her erstwhile partner, Tairo. So Padiri had filed Intent on them. Tairo was still
on Shai-san, but Salfiri had been sent off planet along with the information that Padiri and
Kawari had come after her and Tairo for, information they had aquired on Padiri's Lord,
Gerasumi, for their Lord, Remo.

But neither of the two were Padiri. She would recognise the man on sight, and anyway, the
pair wore only the white ribbon, not intertwined with the black of the Assassin's Guild. But
she could understand their interest in her, and why the young male showed a hint of
curiosity, albeit no doubt unintentionally. She still wore Remo's colours bound in her hair,
and they were therefor likely to assume that Galen had something to do with Remo or his
family, the Karathans. An Ateva in her situation was almost unheard of. Either way, the
two were outside of her association, with no links to Remo, and therefor people to be wary
of. A pity, since the older one was rather attractive, and it would be pleasant to speak with
someone without using a Babelfish, and be sure they understood.

However, the amount of interest their employer was showing in them before making an
obvious show of dissmissing them made the trio a group to be wary of, and Salfiri was
relieved when they passed them, and relaxed her muscles, no longer on hair-trigger stand-
by to pull her plasma pistol from it's holster.

Salfiri guarded Galen's steps through the station and towards a non-descript warehouse,
always watching for signs of trouble. Still, when they reached the door the warning she
recieved came as quite a surprise. Unless she‟s changed since I last saw her, Kendra‟s no
threat. She has a couple first generation enforcer „droids for that, so keep an eye out for
them should the need arise. I know they‟re illegal, so let‟s not get into that. They like to
hide in the shadows around the warehouse, and are very touchy if we end up getting
rough with this woman. Well, here goes nothing,

She hadn't known that Galen was telepathic, but in hindsight perhaps she should not have
been surprised, and perhaps it was more the feeling of the incredibly alien mind that was
the Captain thinking in her head than the actual fact of his telepathy that she found
disconcerting. After all, he often seemed to have a good grasp of what was going on. She
sent a silent affirmative, wordless and extremely weak, but definately there. She knew she
had some talent in the skill along with object manipulation - they'd all been tested in
school - but she was almost entirely untrained in it's use. The skills of the security guard
had been her focus: hand to hand combat, firearms, security systems, surveilence. Tairo
had been a surveilence expert, the brains of their outfit.

As the elderly door ground painstakingly open, Salfiri's eyes adjusted to the gloom within.
Atevi were renowned for their keen eyesight, especially nightsight. It was not difficult
however to locate the proprietoress, and Galen appeared to do so at the same moment
she did. The woman seemed as loud physically as her language, though Salfiri was more
interested in locating the 'droids that Galen had warned them about. She'd already spotted
one in a dark corner, and was searching for the other.

Her golden gaze did return to Kendra when she fat woman made her comment about
Galen liking big women. She could have commented, both on Galen not having her man-
chi, personal or otherwise, and on her not being a salad or flower arrangement to be liked
or disliked, but she knew that other species often used that term for people as well as
objects, crudely summing up their opinion of them in a broad yes or no, and was aware
that Kendra was simply joking in her own coarse way. So she settled for raising an
eyebrow at her.

Salfiri left the bargaining and bitching to the Captain and Kendra, and occupied herself
with looking for the second enforcer 'droid and anything else that might be dangerous,
listening with half an ear and keeping half an eye on Kendra, ready to jump in if she
suddenly tried something rash. She was also getting quite an education in the Terran
language. Many of the words Kendra used did not translate properly into Ragi, but Salfiri
got the idea.

Once Galen had finished his negotiations, Salfiri followed him, alert for any tricks as she
was well aware that Kendra was not happy. But trouble didn't find them until they were
further along the docks, and whether or not it was Kendra's doing was impossible to tell.

Salfiri eyed the array of humans, noting that many of their weapons were impromtu and
that therefor they were likely to be untrained in them, though that did not mean that they
were not necessarily effective, meerly unorthadox. Some of them had pistols of various
descriptions, and her own was loose in it's holster, but she did not reach for it. Her golden
gaze fell on the pair Atevi and the human between them, and she twitched her left wrist
ever so slightly, feeling the blade of one of her ritalanium daggers slide into her palm from
it's sheath up that sleeve, ready to be thrown. She flicked a glance at Donen, hoping that
the unarmed medic had the sense to stay out of the way, and stood ready to defend the
two humans, but remained silent. She would let Galen do the talking.




Posted by Donen Krell on 30.01.2003 at07:59:



Tagging along with the captain and the Atevi was certainly a much better way to explore
IMC-7 again, rather than doing so on his own. Of course, there really isn’t much of a
reason to do so alone anyway…this grimy little spec in space is hardly a tourist
attraction, thought Donen wryly. Donen had purposely headed to Engreia to get away
from Alkes Field in the first place. The irony at having headed back here practically out of
the box on his first ship assignment was not lost on him. Fortunately, this was to just be a
brief stop over, then they would be off again on this wild adventure of Captain Winters
again.

Taking the precaution of being very aware of his surroundings, Donen was not surprised
that things were still as rough-edged as always. Not the friendliest sector of space
there is, but a hell of a place to grow up if you want to develop a healthy sense of
paranoia and learn to take care of yourself, he mused as he spotted little knots of
tough-looking spacers as they walked along the corridors. Immediately, the Valertrez
settled his mind into the meditative stance he used in his training with delirium and
sarafin. Any ruffian who supposed that Donen would be an easy mark would soon discover
the error of their ways…not that this was very likely with a nine foot tall Atevi with security
officer training for a partner on this little jaunt. He hoped he would get an opportunity to
discuss the topic of sarafin at some point with the Atevi, or at the least have some
conversation about Atevi culture. A little bit of first hand knowledge could add
tremendously to the med spec‘s academic knowledge of Atevi physiology or Atevi martial
arts.

It was just then when Donen spotted two Atevi guards with a small ugly human. Actually,
the med spec wouldn‘t have done more than a cursory assessment of the trio had not
Salfiri given off some rather intense feelings from the sight of three. Despite the decidedly
alien nature of her true thoughts which were completely incomprehensible to Donen, the
emotions came across fairly clearly…these Atevi had Salfiri spewing waves of ―danger‖ and
―caution‖ in all directions…although why these Atevi should spark that immediate visceral
reaction in Salfiri remained a mystery. Donen shot his crewmate a quizzical glance, but it
was hard to say if she caught it…those blank, golden eyes were mysterious and
inscrutable.

Then Galen broadcast a little telepathic message, much to Donen‘s surprise. Surprising,
because Galen felt it necessary to use that method to communicate in this circumstance
(perhaps an indication of the touchy nature of their business in Alkes Field); also because,
although he knew that Galen was a telepath, he wasn‘t really aware of how skilled Galen
was at it…clearly Donen was no where near Galen‘s level.

Unless she’s changed since I last saw her, Kendra’s no threat. She has a couple
first generation enforcer ‘droids for that, so keep an eye out for them should the
need arise. I know they’re illegal, so let’s not get into that. They like to hide in
the shadows around the warehouse, and are very touchy if we end up getting
rough with this woman. Well, here goes nothing,

Donen was not at all surprised to find that the word ―illegal‖ had cropped up in the
comment. Although he no longer thought of his crewmates as pirates, shaking his head
slightly with the memory that he had thought that originally, he still was not totally clear
where they were on the wide spectrum between the ―bad guys‖ and the ―good guys‖. If his
mothers had any inkling of what he was up to at the moment, and what company he was
keeping even if they were more likely to be on the right side of the law for the majority of
the time, it would undoubtedly be the object of a rather intensive intercessory prayer
session in the fundamentalist Valertrez religion they practiced. That thought occasioned an
embarrassed grimace.

Donen felt an immediate dislike of this Kendra person, but having had Galen‘s telepathic
heads up, he tried to cultivate a neutral expression and zoned out of the negotiations for
some armaments of doubtful provenance, and concentrated on his martial arts meditations
again which brought his mind and body into phase at a higher level of awareness to his
surroundings, even though the content of the captain‘s haggling with this strange woman
swept past him without disturbing his concentration.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, I think that went well,” said Galen. Which was then
immediately followed by an alarming statement from Ragnar over the commset.

“Captain Winters? That situation with Rewedyk I spoke briefly of earlier… It
seems you brought us a present with that ship of yours. There‟s a bomb on the
dropship you stole, apparently with some very clever tricks to go with it. We‟re
taking care of it, of course, but if you know me you should know there are no
guarantees….”

“Then again, I could be wrong,” Donen heard Galen remark quietly.

And bringing chi and karma back into a growingly commonplace alignment with
the dangerously absurd, thought Donen sarcastically with a sigh, in his own silent
rejoinder.




Posted by Galen Winters on 31.01.2003 at22:57:



Galen surveyed the dozen or so toughs directly in front of him and his crewmates with a
detached air, having seen their ilk before. It didn‘t make the situation any less volatile, but
his knowledge gave him at least some guidance on how to deal with them. ―Can I help you
gentlemen with something?‖ he asked coolly of the gang of greasy thugs before them.

One of them, braver than most apparently, took a step forward, standing not three meters
from Galen. There was no weapon in his hand yet, but a wicked looking blade hung
sheathed at his right hip, pommel canted forward to permit a quick draw. Whether it was
the right hand for a backhand grip or the left for a cross draw, Galen couldn‘t tell, and
truly didn‘t care. Greaseball would get his head turned into an energy duct before that
blade ever cleared syntheleather. ‖Yeah, you c‗n tell ush where our friends are, you
double-dealin‘ shon of a bish!‖ he shouted angrily, the alcohol on his breath nearly enough
to knock over an uruus. Great. A pissed off spacer high on rocket fuel he thought, wisely
keeping this assessment to himself.

―I‘m afraid I don‘t quite follow you,‖ Galen replied, wondering what half-assed justification
for a tussle this dirtbag was playing at.

‖Yeah you do, mudderfucker! They went on that preddy black ship o‘ yours two months
ago. I seen the body bags, you bastard, and now you show up back here like it ain‘t
nobody‘s bishness. How‘d you get out without a shcratch? Ya know whud I think? I think
you just tricked Jimmy an‘em, and turned ‗em in to the pigs! And you ain‘t getting‘ away
with it!‖ he screamed, before jumping forward in a drunken attempt at a tackle.

Being raised around the docks and freighters of Ras Elased had its advantages for the
young Galen Winters, even if he didn‘t think so at the time. One of these was that being
around hani and disaffected spacers tended to give you a rather harsh, if valuable,
education in the ways of unarmed combat. This manifested quickly, as Galen, forewarned
by the mounting rage bubbling out of the human‘s brain, sidestepped a bit, before
wrapping Greaseball‘s right hand in both of his, twisting quickly with the punch. In a split
second it was over, Galen‘s thumbs pressing mercilessly against the back of his opponent‘s
hand, the arm twisted to near full torsion. The pain was certainly exquisite for the rather
surprised man, even getting through the drunken mush that was his brain. The wrist lock
twisted his torso parallel with the deck, his left hand flailing uselessly at his right shoulder,
trying to stave off the pain. Galen maintained his focus on the entire group, and was
somewhat relieved to see that they were riveted on the speed with which he had subdued
their erstwhile leader. Greaseball cried out in agony every time he tried to move, for Galen
merely applied more pressure to the lock to gain compliance from his target.

―Ya know what I think, you rag-eared bastard? I think that you should go back to your
boss, the one standing over there with the two slabs of meat behind him, and tell him that
if he‘s got an issue with me, he‘d best step up and settle it Captain to Captain. You
understand? I said do you understand?‖ he asked, flinching forward a bit to emphasize
those two words, getting a satisfying nod of Greaseball‘s head for an answer. With one
more shove, Galen released the hand and pushed the human spacer away from him like an
offensively soiled glove. The daggers stared back at him for a moment were not
encouraging, indicating that at least one person wouldn‘t be happy until he was dead,
preferably in as painful and protracted a manner as possible. With one last acrid glance,
Greaseball did as he was told, speaking in a servile and abashed manner to the red-garbed
man with the atevi bodyguards.

This man didn‘t seem to take the incident as personally as Greaseball, but was clearly not
happy with this turn of events. With an air of detached annoyance, the man stepped
through the crowd, getting more than enough room for he and his two bodyguards to walk
through the rabble. He likewise stopped a short distance away from Galen and his small
entourage.

‖I‘m sorry if my boys seem a little upset. It‘s just that their friends got lied to, and now
they‘re dead,‖ this new player said in an icy voice. He wore raven black hair in a short
plait, mimicking the two atevi males flanking him. The flight suit was well worn, a few
patches here and there, stains from industrial lubricants besmirching what was once a
pristine bright red suit. A caster pistol hung at the man‘s right hip, cradled in a well-worn,
and presumably well-used, syntheleather holster, the black dye having given way long ago
to the ashy grey of the abraded material.

‖I can‘t say as I‘m too happy about your appearance here either. You took some of my
best crewmen, and I have nothing to show for it but an empty ship, and an empty bank
account. Do you have anything to say for yourself?‖ he asked, all civility gone from his
voice now.

Galen stared into those dead brown eyes for several moments, a contest of wills brewing
between the two men, at least to the outside observer. In fact, Galen was performing the
quickest and most dangerous probe a telepath could try, jumping in with no preparation
and not leaving a trace afterwards. Quick probes usually left some hint as to their intrusion
into the target‘s mind, but Galen desperately wished that not to be the case. Sifting
through the surface thoughts of . . . Alfonse?, Galen quickly obtained the information he
truly wished wasn‘t there, before exiting as quickly as he had gotten in. He‟s going to
attack us no matter what answer I give. he thought with dread, before opening his mind to
Donen and Salfiri.

Danger, wait for my signal was the silent warning he sent to both of his comrades, almost
too long, Alfonse turning to leave the trio to his minions. This retreat was stopped short by
Galen‘s voice, low and throaty.

―Yes, as a matter of fact I do,‖ he said, pausing to frame his voice to the precise pitch he
needed. The grey-eyed spacer‘s hands dropped low, directly in front of and below the belt
of his coat, fingertips pressed together loosely, fingers splayed wide. ―Teddy bear,‖ he
uttered in a low, even voice, before all hell broke loose.

The world slowed almost to a crawl, the only thing heard a tiny click emanating from the
back of the leather-clad captain, a contraption of his own devising jumping into action just
as planned. The spring tension yanked on the kevlar cording Galen had threaded into the
interior of the jacket, the end result being the long sharkskin coat drawing back at the
waist like a theater curtain in very rapid fashion. This allowed for very easy access to the
low-ride holster hugging Galen‘s right thigh, his hand already in motion to retrieve the
powerful weapon from its cradle. As quickly as he had practiced, both before and after he
and Ragnar had erected the very realistic gunnery range inside Heart of Gold‗s forward
cargo bay, his right hand closed about the butt of the weapon, pulling it free, rotating,
meeting the second hand and punching out toward the target, which was the shocked, if
not totally surprised Alfonse. The red-suited valertrez barely had the muzzle of his weapon
clear of the holster when the first of three plasma shots burned a neatly cauterized hole
through his heart. The armor-piercing effect of the filter Galen had in place made an
equally neat exit wound before the charge of superheated gas drilled almost through an
interior bulkhead behind Alfonse. The second shot burned a black spot on Alfonse‘s chest
scant millimeters away from the first, before his world flashed white for a nanosecond,
then faded to black, the third and final shot boring a tunnel through his forehead and out
the back of his now thoroughly curdled brainpan.

Galen quickly dropped to one knee, ducking a return volley from the two atevi bodyguards,
which sailed barely above his skull and between the pair of his crewmates. Galen brought
around his weapon quickly, point shooting rather than using the sights, at this range it was
faster and just as accurate, two atevi leaping for any available cover as two more blasts
from Galen‘s pistol drilled precise little holes in an ebon-skinned arm before its owner
disappeared behind an idle docking console which barely hid his large frame.

Galen barely had time to think about how bad this was going, and to hope for Donen‘s and
Salfiri‘s safety, before another burst of fire from his left burnt smoking craters into the
deck plating at his feet. Electing to do the unexpected perhaps, Galen somersaulted
forward covering the few meters to Alfonse‘s body in rather unorthodox fashion. Galen‘s
hand quickly retrieved the loose caster from its deceased owner‘s grasp, and the
adrenaline fueled spacer brought both weapons to bear to the group‘s left, taking cover
from fire on the other side of the wounded ateva‘s console.

This is going rather well he thought sarcastically.




Posted by Salfiri on 03.02.2003 at06:45:



Salfiri stood stock still by Galen's side, allowing her Captain to make the negotiations, but
watching the gang of toughs before them, ritalanium dagger in her left hand, right hand
ready to grap her plasma pistol. She eyed the obviously inebriated spacer who came out to
represent the whole of his dissafected group, noting the blade but also the fact that it was
sheathed, and that in his current state he would not be as quick to draw it.

Not that the man even tried. Infuriated by Galen's response and having worked himself up,
the enraged spacer launched himself at the Captain. And even as she saw him tense to do
so Salfiri did as well, about to move to meet him... but Galen was already there! The man
had moved before the enemy had even twitched, before Salfiri had even known the man
was going to attack. But how? Nand' Captain is a telepath. She reminded herself as she
watched Galen perform a very efficient take-down, then returned her attention to the rest
of the group.

She had never actually moved, and thus chose to maintain the illusion that she deemed
their attacker no threat at all, and thus had seen no need to step in, allowing Galen to
make an impact instead. The fact that she had been about to leap to his rescue she kept to
herself.

But the man Galen had dealt with was the least of their worries, far more dangerous was
the Terran in red and the two men flanking him. Salfiri had a physical advantage over the
other races simply due to her size and strength, but she had no such advantage over these
two, and the older male was bigger than she was.

Danger, wait for my signal Galen's oh so alien thoughts sounded in her mind. Salfiri gave
no response, and waited until she felt the Captain's attention turn elsewhere, for she had
no intention of doing so. The best employees pre-emted their employers, anticipating what
was needed. If they were attacked, there was no way Salfiri was waiting to be told to
respond.

And in truth she didn't have long to wait, the two Terran males went for their weapons
almost simultaneosly, but Galen was faster on the draw, a fact that the red-garbed Terran
discovered much to his detriment. Another Terran in the gang behind was drawing a
plasma pistol, but Salfiri pinned his arm to a packing crate with the dagger she'd had
palmed, his pistol flying off into the shadows, before drawing her own pistol from it's hip
holster, ducking a volley of shots and going after the older Atevi male, even as Galen
managed to injure the younger one on the arm, and the two went to ground on opposite
sides of the same console.

Salfiri rounded the pile of equipment that the older Atevi was hiding behind, firing around
it before she cleared it's shelter, causing the other Atevi to duck back to avoid getting hit.
He returned a volley, but unwilling to risk taking the time to aim well his shots went wide.
Salfiri ducked back and then let off another volley, aiming as best she could, just as her
opponent made the mistake of ducking out to try to hit her while she was visible, and
collected a hit to the arm.

The arm should have been useless, but though the man grunted in pain he pulled his
trigger again, forcing Salfiri to duck back behind her end of the pile of equipment, but not
before she noticed something. The man's hair had started to turn golden-blonde at the
roots. An Absorber! She cursed. If he had the Aura Flash or Sarafin skill as well she was in
trouble, because he'd direct the energy back at her. But then, if his hair was starting to
bleach after one shot he couldn't be very good at the skill, because it meant he was
reaching his maximum absorbtion level already, and he was injured, plasma could only be
partially absorbed.

She heard movement off to one side, and spotted another of the Terran's who'd been in
the gang surrounded the one in the red suit. He obviously thought he was being stealthy,
but he was drunk out of his skull, and a wrench doesn't make a very effective weapon
anyway. Salfiri fired and hit him square in the chest, he was dead before he hit the floor.

But even as the corpse impacted the decking Salfiri heard movement, and brought her
pistol around, but not fast enough! The wounded Ateva was desperate, and had taken her
moment of pre-occupation to cover the distance around the side of the pile of equipment
they'd been hiding behind, and knocked the pistol from her grip and sent it skittering
across the deck plates even as he closed the gap and brought his own to bear.

But if he was close enough to grab her pistol then she was close enough to reach his, and
she grabbed it with one hand and his wrist with the other, twisting his wrist hard enough
to break bones and loosen his grip. She was crouched down, and his momentum was likely
to send him crashing into her, so intead she rolled with it, rolling onto her back, putting
her booted feet into his stomache and heaving him over her head to crash into another
console. She flipped to her feet and rounded on him, then dropped the pistol in her hand
as the heat of the thing registered. The vindictive bastard had released the energy that
he'd absorbed from her earlier shot into his own pistol to prevent her using it on him, and
her own was off in a corner.

She drew her kris and a ritalanium dagger, and advanced on the man. With an injured arm
- his dominant arm - he would be slowed, but a wounded man was at his most desperate,
and therefor most dangerous. He got to his feet just as she reached him and a drew a long
fighting dagger, an ugly, Terran-made thing, but she was sure it was effective. He was a
big man too, and had a longer reach than she did, but apparently only one weapon, and
this he was holding in his off hand.

He slashed at her and she dodged it easily, thrusting towards him with her kris - a
traditional Atevi fighting blade, and her favourite hand to hand weapon - in a move that he
dodged as easily, testing each others defences. Then he moved forward quickly, his dagger
snaking in, meeting her ritalanium one as she brought it in to block, but twisting and
sliding off it, darting in at her chest, only to meet the kris, and lock at the hilt. He snatched
it out of the lock, the anger obvious in his movements as it was not on his face, no doubt
he was in pain as well, and that made him rash. He darted him blade in again, and this
time she met it with her kris. He used the same twisting trick to slide his blade out from
her block, as she had known he would, and this time brought his blade around towards her
face, obviously hoping that she would shy away from it.

But her old partner Tairo had pulled those kind of tricks on her a thousand times when
they were training together and she didn't flinch, simply brought her ritalanium blade up in
a block, this time forcing his blade upwards and opening his guard, and the next instant
the kris flashed in, through the heavy jacket, up under the ribs, and through the beating
heart. Bright blood went everywhere and the man gasped, golden gaze locking onto hers
even as he died. "A name," she whispered, "and I will tell them." She'd do him the service
of sending his name home, so that his family would know that he was dead.

"Shiro." He whispered, and then slumped against her, his eyes gone dull as bronze and
sightless, and his blood stopped pulsing from the wound and simply ran. The man was
dead. Salfiri let him fall, and turned her attention to the world outside their fight,
specifically looking for the Captain. There was shouting going on around her, but it was
incomprehensible. Some time in the fight her headset had fallen off, along with the
Babelfish it contained. Salfiri spoke nothing but Ragi, and the people around her were
speaking anything but.




Posted by Donen Krell on 04.02.2003 at00:04:



Donen felt a sickening lump in his gut as soon as the blitzed spacer thug confronted Galen.
No way is this going to go well, he thought sardonically. But then he watched as
Captain Winters managed to score a few points with some rough diplomacy, which
impressed the Valertrez med spec, and earned Galen a conversation with the thug‘s boss.
Briefly tapping into the man‘s surface thoughts, Donen felt a trace of Galen‘s presence, too
subtle for a non-telepath to sense, but enough for Donen to catch due to his familiarity
with the Valertrez captain. The telepathic med spec quickly began to pull out, not wanting
to disturb Galen‘s deeper probe, but not before realizing that the black-haired human,
flanked by the two Atevi he had seen earlier, was planning on killing the whole crew of the
Heart of Gold, talking be damned.

Danger, wait for my signal, came a silent command from Captain Winters. Like hell, I will!
Donen thought, attempting to keep it to himself, and then he began to drop into his
meditative trance. As he started to fall into his trance the scene around him began to slow
to a crawl, and sound dropped into a lower register, as his senses began to pitch to a
higher and faster plane. He saw Galen complete a quick draw of his weapon and fire three
blasts into the black-haired man before the bastard could even get off a single shot. Then
Galen dropped gracefully to one knee as the two Atevi bodyguards fired off a shot each
and then sailed gracefully through the air behind a docking console. All of this appeared to
happen in extreme slow motion.

By then, Donen was deep into a delirium transformation, his hair going from dark brown to
a white blond and his eyes becoming a pupilless black, not unlike the Atevis‘ blank,
golden-eyed stare. It was fortunate that Donen chose the delirium stance first, since both
of the two plasma bolts from the Atevi bodyguards connected with him, as Galen and
Salfiri peeled off in different directions. The process of summoning the dark aura of
delirium effectively shed the energy from the plasma weapons, rendering the blasts
harmless, apart from a sharp, stinging electrical surge.

Donen struck out toward the side opposite from Salfiri toward a drunken Terran spacer
goggling at Donen‘s transformation, the man‘s plasma pistol limp at his side. Rushing
toward him, Donen dove at him, palm outstretched, sending a bolt of energy through the
man‘s heart as Donen‘s hand came into contact with the Terran‘s chest. The electric shock
of the impact instantly stopped the drunken spacer‘s heart and he crumpled to the deck as
Donen rolled over him and into a defensive crouch, taking stock of the current situation,
and trying to get his breath back as his delirium energy faded.

Salfiri had daggered one Terran‘s arm to a packing crate, and had killed another, and was
in a close fight with one of the Atevi. Galen seemed to have wounded the other Atevi and
had him pinned down behind the docking console. Donen was out of the line of fire for the
moment, when he noticed that the first Terran Salfiri had hit with her dagger had
wrenched it out, freeing his arm, and was searching to retrieve his pistol. Lying nearby
was the dock wrench, which had been the weapon of the Terran Salfiri had killed. Focusing
on the wrench, Donen visualized himself picking up the wrench and flinging it at the
injured Terran…and in answer to his will, the wrench was lifted from the deck plate and
sailed into the air, hitting the Terran at the base of his skull with a sickening clump and
the Terran crumpled to the floor.

As Salfiri seemed to have the one Atevi at a disadvantage, Donen shifted his focus to
Captain Winters and the other Atevi who had hunkered down behind the docking console.
Donen recalled Salfiri‘s emotional reaction to these two: an immediate sense of danger and
the need for caution. Were these Atevi part of the Assassin‘s Guild? Was that why they
were dangerous? Donen knew the Atevi had an assassin‘s guild…some perfectly
acceptable Atevi cultural thing about personal honor and chivalry, or some such.
I’ll have to ask Salfiri later…if we are both alive later, reflected Donen wryly, not
exactly sure if that was the answer to her fear, or if it was something deeper, more
obscure, like this man-chi stuff he had come across in his readings on the Atevi. No
matter. Whatever the reason, the Atevi were probably the ones to worry about first, and
since Salfiri was getting the upper hand on one, maybe he and Galen could take on the
other.

Although Donen did not have the same telepathic ability as Galen, he could do a bit of
broadcasting himself, so after formulating a plan of attack, he opened his mind to Salfiri
and Captain Winters.

Don’t worry about us, Salfiri. We will get the other assassin. Galen, take out that
Atevi when you hear the detonation of sarafin I’m going to send behind that
console.

With that, Donen cleared his mind again and prepared himself to enter his meditative
stance once again. All this mental work was beginning to drain the med spec, and he could
feel a monster headache coming on, but he pushed all sensation of the physical realm
behind him once again as he brought himself onto what he termed his plane of energy.
This time, he tuned his attention to building a sarafin attack of pure kinetic energy focused
just behind the docking console where the second Atevi crouched. The strain of building up
yet another energy attack was beginning to show in the taut features of Donen‘s face, and
the throbbing pulses of the arteries in his temples. Cold sweat was trickling down the back
of the Valertrez‘s neck. Donen built up the kinetic charge as high as he could, and then
with a loud, piercing cry slammed his hand into the deck willing the impact to emerge just
under the Atevi. At that instant, there was a strong, dull thump of detonation behind the
console followed by an echoing thunk of the console itself rocking from the impact, and
then Donen lost consciousness and slumped senseless to the decking.




Posted by Galen Winters on 05.02.2003 at17:08:



Galen‘s heart pounded in his ears, a dull roar drowning everything else out for the
moment. Dodging flaming plasma death wasn‘t exactly the most calming experience in
one‘s life, and Galen was hardly used to it. Bar fights and dockside rumbles weren‘t
foreign, but weapons fire was generally kept to a minimum in the circles he traveled. The
fact that this had gotten entirely out of hand wasn‘t exactly his fault, though Alfonse would
likely argue otherwise, were he capable.

He looked up just in time to see Salfiri plant one unfortunate fellow with a well placed shot
to the poor bastard‘s five-ring. She disappeared from his sight just as quickly, leaving
Galen to wonder about exactly he was going to do about the wounded ateva on the other
side of his console. The rest of the rabble had scattered for cover, or to flank the trio of
crewmates with their improvised weapons, so the grey-eyed spacer was left with only the
solitary threat in close proximity on his radar.

He was wondering if it was wise to try and drill through the console with his caster, since
he had no idea exactly what the battered grey box controlled, when Donen‘s thoughts
drifted through his mind, and who knew how many Gods-be others‘. Sarafin? What the
fuck is sara… he began to think, before the soft whump of the blast flattened his eardrums,
leaving an unpleasant ringing tone behind. Galen had no time to contemplate this, as he
was greatly surprised to see the flailing body of his target vault involuntarily over the
control console, a slight scorching of his clothing indicating the cause.

The younger ateva hit the deck scant microseconds after superheated plasma burned a
quartet of channels through his expansive ribcage, perforating both lungs and rupturing a
pulmonary artery. The late human‘s bodyguard was dead, he just didn‘t have the decency
to stop moving yet, instead gasping in pain and shock, trying to gulp air down into his
lungs, which were rapidly filling with blood.

Galen almost felt like congratulating himself when another burst of fire hit the console
behind him, scant millimeters from his left ear, sending molten droplets of steel in a spray
from the impact site, singeing the base of Galen‘s scalp and wafting the rather unpleasant
odor of burnt hair into his nostrils. The sting of it wasn‘t felt, with the adrenaline coursing
through his bloodstream, but action was called for nonetheless, Galen‘s pair of weapons
training out in the general direction of his newest adversary. Both triggers worked
frantically to lay down a barrage of fire, so thick that one could walk on it, the needle-like
shots from his own pistol complimented by fat bursts of plasma from the newly acquired
caster in his left hand. These blew small craters in a bulkhead and several plasteel crates
in front of it, the armor-piercing shots from the filtered weapon leaving very tiny holes
which trailed wisps of smoke as evidence of the superheated gas‘ passage through the
material.

He was almost worried that this would devolve into a nasty game of hide and seek, when a
body slumped from behind the crates, half a dozen tiny holes in his torso. Leaving nothing
to chance, Galen dropped a pair of shots into the immobile human‘s skull, standing from
his crouch to survey the battlefield a moment, trying to locate the rest of his crew. Donen
was found almost immediately, out in the open, and unconscious. Muttering a salty oath,
Galen trotted over to his medic, keeping an eye out for any more adventurous rabble.
Checking him over quickly, Galen was relieved to see that at least he wasn‘t dead, though
the human‘s reason for being passed out wasn‘t readily apparent. The grey-eyed and -
garbed valertrez dragged his crewmate back to where he had originally taken cover, by the
console with the now quite dead ateva nearby. Crouching low, he tried to shake the man
awake again, being as gentle as he dared. ―Come on, Donen, we‘re not out of this yet,
wake up damn it!‖ he shouted urgently.




Posted by Donen Krell on 05.02.2003 at21:45:



The Valertrez med spec was actually enjoying his dreamless slumber on the cold
deckplate, when he was rudely dragged back to consciousness, as well as being hauled
physically into better cover. "Aw come on...jus' five more minutes," he mumbled
incoherently, before realizing that he was still in the middle of a plasma fire fight.

"Come on, Donen, we are not out of this yet, wake up damn it!" came an urgent
demand from a familiar voice...riiiight, Captain Winters.

"Did we get that bastard Atevi assassin?" muttered Donen hoarsely. "I'm
alright...just all that mental gymnastics knocked it out of me for a nanosec. You
don't happen to have a sandwich on you by any chance? Damn energy attacks
just suck out the calories..." he said groaning and leveraging himself up into a sitting
position. "Nevermind...just kidding...I'm fine, just need to catch my breath. So
how are we doing? What are we left with? And where's Salfiri?" he added, trying to
get up to speed on the current situation, and debating if he would be able to continue
completely on his own or if he should ask Galen if he could spare a side-arm. Doing a
thorough review of his status, Donen felt fairly confident he could continue on his own,
concluding that his brief collapse was more due to the rapid switching between different
combat modes and not due to physical or mental exhaustion.




Posted by Salfiri on 06.02.2003 at05:52:



Salfiri wiped her ritalanium dagger on the jacket of the dead Ateva at her feet and
sheathed it, then transfered her kris to her left hand. Glancing about to make sure the
coast was clear, she stepped out past the console the Ateva who'd identified himself as
'Shiro' had slammed into, and picked up her pistol. She checked it quickly, but the things
were tough and it wasn't damaged.

Hearing the familiar voice of Captain Winters shouting something, Salfiri turns, expecting
the worse. But for a moment the Captain seems to have found the quiet eye of the storm,
and she can see Donen's feet sticking out past the console they were hiding behind, and
nearby the dead body of the other Ateva.

Unfortunately that peace wasn't going to last. There were still several human combatants,
although one or two seemed to have lost conviction in their cause since the deaths of the
Atevi, and were well in hiding. Not so one young man who was armed with a ballistic
firearm, a Lancer Series Light Firearm to be precise, one of the kind that was starting to
come back into fashion. And certainly they had an advantage when your opponent was an
Absorber, like Shiro had been.

But the man had seen her and suddenly decided that she made a much easier target than
the two sheltering behind the console. He raised his weapon to fire, but Salfiri was already
ducking and rolling, the bullets skimming through the air where she had been a split
second later. She rolled to her feet and fired off a series of plasma rounds, the first
catching the man a glancing blow across the back as he turned to dive for his sanctuary
again. When he dissapeared Salfiri made a lightening-fast move to join Galen and Donen.

She was not a pretty sight. The front of her jacket was slick with blood, her black trousers
were stained with the same, and her hands were sticky with it. The blade of her kris was
likewise dark, but her expression was all business. She glanced inquiringly at Donen, but
saw that he appeared to be alright, so she said nothing.

The female Ateva nodded politely to the two humans, noting that Donen was contious if
only just, then since Galen's attention was largely focused on Donen, she appropriated his
caster pistol for a moment, along with it's filters, and set her own Phoenix plasma pistol
back in it's holster, having noted that the Captain had aquired a second one anyway.

The pulled out the armour piercing filter and fitted the ricochet filter, then peered around
the console back the way she'd come and fired off several rapid rounds at the far wall,
each one approximately ten centimeters apart. The shot rebounded off the wall and in
behind a console, the back of which was currently hidden from view. One of the shots
resulted in someone crying out, and Salfiri rebounded several shots off the same spot. The
last two brought no response, the man with the ballistic pistol was dead or very close to it.
Wordlessly she handed the caster pistol back to Galen and drew her own once more.




Posted by Galen Winters on 14.02.2003 at04:48:



Galen‘s mouth gaped a bit in an unasked question, wondering whether Salfiri was just
impolite, or had no time for customary Ateva pleasantries in the thick of battle. Her
gunplay was impressive, no doubt about it, so Galen left the inquiry unspoken, his jaw
shutting with a barely audible click. Not entirely trusting the rest of Alfonse‘s crew to have
fled in the chaos, Galen carefully surveyed the immediate area, looking for signs of
resistance, or worse yet, vultures come to finish off the weakened survivors of a fight that
wasn‘t theirs to begin with. Seeing neither of these, the grey-eyed captain relaxed a little,
returning to the small mystery of Donen Krell‘s unconsciousness. The medic had regained
consciousness without Galen realizing it, so concentrated on Salfiri‗s gunwork he had been.
Shaking himself from that near trance, Galen‘s mouth opened to answer Donen‘s questions
and ask a few of his own.

The pale-garbed man was lucky he did, a meter-long torque wrench plummeting towards
the back of his skull instead finding his shoulder, a horrendous, liquid snap emanating
from his left side as a result. The breath was forced from his lungs in a labored grunt, even
as he rolled forward to bring the pistol in his right hand to bear upon this latest adversary.
He hit the deck plating with a sharp jolt, the pain in his shoulder nearly causing him to
black out, sheer force of will holding him in the realm of consciousness. The sights of his
weapon came into focus a bit slower than normal, but still with a goodly bit of speed, only
to find the target had already obtained a ritelanium necktie from Salfiri‘s well-honed
arsenal. The man was ugly, and the haft of the dagger protruding awkwardly from his
throat did nothing to compliment his appearance. The body stood still a moment, before
collapsing limply over the console he had used to hide his approach from he and the ateva
woman.

This time the adrenaline wore off quickly, the shattered collarbone already causing a very
uncomfortable swelling under his well tailored suit. One attempt was all that was needed
to convince Galen of the uselessness of his left arm, the pistol held in its grasp having
already clattered to the floor. ―Son of a bitch!‖ he said through clenched teeth, slowly
getting back into a crouch, hissing in pain as he did so. ―Fuck!‖ he exclaimed, punching the
thin sheet metal covering the console, ―I think it‘s broken. Looks like you get me for
another torture session, Doc.― he said, trying to find at least a little humor in situation that
seemed utterly bereft of it.

Seeing that joke go straight out the airlock, Galen took as deep a breath as he dared,
before quickly assessing their situation. ―We need to get off the docks. Now. This is going
to draw jackals like flies to shit. Eggsuckers who couldn‘t take us down by themselves are
going to look to pick apart the survivors. I can walk, but just barely.‖ he admitted, even
though that truth was already quite apparent, his face a mask of barely subdued pain.
Galen holstered his own caster, then picked up the spare he had obtained and stuck that
into his belt. ―Unless one of you two want to use it,― he offered.

Their attempt at a quiet exit was now futile, and Galen left his jacket furled behind him,
the low ride holster at his right hip carrying its cargo with lethal grace. ―Come on, let‘s get
out of here.‖




Posted by Salfiri on 15.02.2003 at12:24:



The tall Ateva glanced from Galen to Donen, as Galen was about to say something to the
doctor, when the torque wrench came flying over the console and impacted into the
Captain's shoulder. He reeled to the ground but Salfiri did not hesitate, jumping up and
shaking the dagger from her left sleeve into that palm - since her right held her plasma
pistol - and snapping it out quick as lightening, to spin end over end and embed itself in
the human's throat. He gave her a stunned look before he collapsed.

Standing now, Salfiri brought her pistol up and scanned the area for any other potential
attackers, but seeing the rapid demise of the last one, if there was anyone else thinking to
pick them off within the next few minutes, they were keeping well out of sight.

Sighting her headset where it had fallen during her fight with the older Ateva, Salfiri made
a 'just a moment' gesture at Galen as she stooped to retrieve it, given that without the
Universal Translater that was imbedded within, she couldn't understand what he was
saying. She also took a moment to retrieve her daggers and pull the ID collars off the two
Atevi, something she'd noticed when she looked at the younger one. They were the Atevi
equivalent of dog-tags, which explained a lot. These two were deserters from the military.

She hunched back down behind their console while Galen alternately swore and laid out
their plan of action. He was injured and Donen was tired, though looking better by the
moment, but no doubt they could make it back to the ship. Salfiri's only injury was a burnt
hand, which was making itself known again, and she switched her pistol to her left hand.
She was right hand dominant, but if she could throw a dagger that accurately with her left,
no doubt she could shoot as accurately as well.

Contemplating the caster pistol that Galen offered them, Salfiri shook her head gently, her
long black braid waving. "No thankyou, nand' Captain." She said carefully, and pointed
with one long, dark finger. "This pistol has been modified, nand' Captain. One has the
knowledge to see this, and to see that it has broken, but not to fix it." She explained, and
shrugged. Her Hacker/Crafter knowledge wasn't that good. For now her plasma pistol and
her knives would suffice. Tairo had always been better at hacking, surveilance and
intelligence than she had, but she was faster and more deadly with her weapons. They'd
made a good team.

Salfiri could have offered to carry either Galen or Donen, if their wounds or wearyness
warranted it, but it would seem that both were able to make their own way, if only just.
But far better for them all to be seen to exit walking, and therefor not appear weak. If
Galen made it to HoG's entry hatch and collapsed just inside it would be enough. Salfiri
kept her pistol in her hand as they walked, deliberately scanning the area for any potential
offers of further violence. Hopefully people would see the carnage and them walking out of
it, and have the sense not to want to suffer the same fate as the last lot who threatened
them.




Posted by Donen Krell on 21.02.2003 at14:23:



Galen was just about to answer some of Donen's questions, when a torque wrench came
flying at the back of the Valertrez captain's head. Donen tried to deflect the wrench
telekinetically, but the tool still connected with Galen's shoulder in a bone-crunching snap
and the captain sunk to the deck plating gasping in pain. Salfiri made quick work of
punishing the ruffian for his insult against the captain of the HoG.

Donen rapidly recuperated from his brief blackout with no more residual effects than
having a minor headache and feeling a bit winded. He nodded mutely when the grey-eyed
captain stated that his collarbone was broken. "I probably don't need to say this, but
don't move your left arm and I'll set that collarbone right when we can get you to
the medbay," said Donen, all business...choosing to ignore the captain's joke. He also
wordlessly waved off on the handgun Galen offered and getting to his feet, Donen followed
after him and the Atevi--all his senses still alert to any possibility of danger on the way
back to the ship.




Posted by The Serpent on 22.02.2003 at13:06:



―The Hole? You kidding me? Tell me, does the captain have a habit of picking the worst
and most certainly the deadliest place in the near vicinity? Jeesh, one would think that
with his so-called experience he‘d know what usually goes down around here. Wouldn‘t
really be surprising if one or more of the ones that went strolling about would not end up
returning.‖ His voice was rather grim and shallow, vainly attempting to hide the rapid
beating of his heart and the whirlwind that went about his mind. The Hole was one of the
key locations for ‗The Sun‘ corp‘s pirate points and Rewedyk knew very well that in a
relatively short while this place would be crawling with Engreia officers and pissed off
pirates. He really didn‘t want to stick around to see that.

The skinny hacker continued to dawdle with the bomb, which was quite obviously made by
a female considering the variety of pretty pieces and strings and such that were planted
within. He was sure that he could shut the thing down but he wasn‘t all that confident that
it would stay down like a good puppy. Never the less he picked out a few fine pointed tools
from the toolbox set shakily next to him and started poking around in the system, just
lifting and nudging various particles from his way to provide a clearer view of whatever
this was and how it was built. He wasn‘t all that positive about blowing up in nickel-sized
pieces, after all. Rewedyk had always adored dismantling things and making them tick the
other way but at that very point he wanted to simply grunt unhappily, throw away his
tools/toys and go get shot in the closest alley. At least it would have ment that there was
less importance lying upon his shoulders. No one cared if a usual with-no-point-in-life-but-
taking-up-artificial-air boy would die. Just more meat to the ravens and jackals of the
community.

―You don‘t want to know.‖ He muttered roughly as an answer to Ragnar before slipping his
hand back deep within the ships core and keeping his eyes on the steady climbing of the
energy level of the ship on his WD. ―Just tell me when you‘ve killed all the auxiliary
systems so I could start cutting up things.‖

(OOC: Short message, so sue me. There are about 7 boxes missing of the stuff for the
apartment and I don't have too much time, okay? Thank you. =) )




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 23.02.2003 at05:26:



(No, thank you.. *RPs*)

―The Hole? You kidding me? Tell me, does the captain have a habit of picking the worst
and most certainly the deadliest place in the near vicinity? Jeesh…‖

Ragnar listened to Rewedyk with half an ear. He was busy getting to the main power
managing program.

―I know what you mean..I‘ve heard a couple things about this place myself. I think he
must have some reason to come here, though whatever it is, there are probably better
places to do get it done. And if someone doesn‘t return…‖ He lost his train of thought, but
didn‘t try to get it back. He‘d opened the power managing program.

―Got it.‖ he whispered as he began scanning rapidly changing screens. His fingers darted
with automatic speed, as if he didn‘t have to think to input commands. ―Secondary
propulsion…backup enviro…nav…comms…backup cooling…auxiliary power…and, other. All
disengaged…only systems still operational are mechanical maint, core systems, propulsion,
and lights, of course. Cut at your leisure, pal.‖

He sat at the console for a few moments, not knowing what to do. He listened to the sound
of Rewedyk messing with the bomb a few feet from him, and wished more than ever that
he was lying on his bed. Hell, the he‘d settle for being dumped weaponless in the heart of
The Hole. As long as this was over. Not that he didn‘t trust Rewedyk (which he didn‘t
anyway).

Finally, Ragnar stood up and looked in his crewmate‘s direction. He felt a twinge of guilt
between his shoulder blades. Out of the crew of the Heart of Gold, Rewedyk was probably
the only one who had a good shot of getting this bomb dismantled.

A twinge of anything, however, never really changes anything. Especially when habits like
distrust and apathy had been his way of life for more than ten years. So he stood over
Rewedyk, careful not to get in his light or disrupt him, and simply put his hands in his
pockets.




Posted by Galen Winters on 28.02.2003 at04:46:



Galen nodded in agreement, leaving the caster where it was for the time being, before
remembering he had promised to get Rags one on this shopping trip. They had been
derailed from any further excursions, and it would give the absent-minded mechanic
something to do en route to Anuurn. If we make off this station alive, that is, he reminded
himself silently, knowing that even the short half-kilometer to the Heart of Gold would be a
marathon if they faltered.

He staggered to his feet, trying to do so with only one good arm wasn‘t a cakewalk, to be
sure. Add to that the pain at the slightest jostle or impact to his shattered collarbone, and
Galen would need some serious medication when they got back to the ship. That, and
about forty-eight hours of blissful, uninterrupted sleep. Like that‟s going to happen
anytime before the heat death of the universe he chided himself.

Forcing one foot in front of the other was his main priority, leaving the observation duties
to Salfiri and Donen, as tired as he might be. The trip back was agonizingly slow, the trio‘s
nerves on the ragged edge as they affected an air of nonchalance to stave off future
attacks. Something about besting a group five times your size earned you a rough sort of
respect on the Hole, and Galen was milking it for all it was worth. The docks had
unsurprisingly become a ghost town, the very few who stood witness to their progress
being those who had nothing to fear from either party, or were too stupid to know better.
Galen‘s narrowed awareness still chuckled softly as he took note of the former
inventorying the latter for later action. This place wouldn‘t calm down for months after a
showdown like this, and he could see a few notices on the dock station boards, indicating
that several ships had upped their departure priority, by as much as three days in one
case. He couldn‘t blame them, really, as he would be doing the same when, if, those
weapons got delivered and installed.

Putting that worry at the back of his mind for now, Galen led the party ever onward, at last
coming to the sleek black hull of their home. The loading ramp stood undisturbed, save for
a few new smears of grease that some maintenance tech had doubtless tracked up during
his rounds. Avoiding these, more to spare his rather expensive shoes than to maintain any
sort of safety, Galen hurriedly punched in the access code to Heart of Gold‘s port airlock,
getting a reassuring >beep< from the console before the door hummed open. Ushering
himself and his two crewmates into the entrance almost casually, the grey-eyed captain hit
the close button so hard he could here the plastic creak under the heel of his fist.

―Jesus fucking Christ, people. That was close,‖ he said, falling back a bit to lean against
the bulkhead in relief. This he instantly regretted as the impact transformed his entire left
side into a new adventure in pain. Gasping harshly, Galen fought to keep from crying out
in agony, breathing hard through clenched teeth to do so. ―Doc, I do believe I‘ll be seeing
you in sickbay shortly, after I finish up a few things here. Excellent job, both of you,‖ he
added by way of belated praise. ―Dismissed.‖

Galen molded himself against the ritelanium plating, allowing the other valertrez and the
imposing ateva woman to pass by him in the narrow corridor, allowing him the use of the
comm panel nearest the airlock. He thumbed the button for Shipwide, not knowing where
exactly Ragnar and Rewedyk had gotten to, but suspecting they were still in the aft shuttle
bay. ―Ragnar, Rewedyk, status report,‖[/b] he ordered tersely, not having time for
pleasantries. Hearing the reply, his already-haggard face looked like death warmed over,
worse news piling on top of bad. Letting his two crewmen handle that mess for the time
being, Galen punched in the sequence to connect him directly to the ship‘s AI.

―Goldie?‖ he asked, voice nearly cracking.

‖Whatcha need, sweetie?‖ she replied in her saccharin-sweet voice, sure to be lethal to an
untreated diabetic.

―Get hold of Kendra Washington, request an ETA on her delivery. She won‘t likely give you
one, but it lets her know that we‘re alive and more than capable of kicking, should the
need arise.‖ he said sardonically, closing the connection before Goldie could fire back some
smart-assed remark. He had already dealt with enough today without having to play
verbal footsie with his grandfather‘s irascible brainchild.

With a silent epithet hurled at the old man, Galen padded his way slowly down the corridor
to the ship‘s sickbay to let Donen work his magic on him.
Posted by The Serpent on 01.03.2003 at17:17:



Rewedyk really took little to no notice of the captain‘s request, save for the slight mumble
he threw at Ragnar. ―Just tell him that if we go up in flames, it‘s his fault.‖ Grumpy chap,
indeed. He tended to get that way whenever he was dealing with a contraption that could
easily kill him and the rest of the crew. And he didn‘t really understand the majority of the
toy before him. Such luck. Would have been a lot easier if the hani woman would have left
me to suffocate in the crate…
As he had already gotten a go ahead from the mechanic, Rewedyk set to look for some
wire cutters, flow-blocks and other such nifty toys that would keep him from gettng
electrocuted and perhaps aid him on the way of putting an end to the unfriendly ticker‘s
lifeline. The Valertrez nearly knocked the box over after finding his last tool, which led him
to choke a gasp and emptily peek at Argoth. ―Thanks for the help, I think that‘s all you can
do to abet in this particular situation.‖ He wasn‘t really attempting to drive the man away,
but hey, one had to admit that he‘d do a lot better knowing that there were no other
individuals in the immediate vicinity to be killed by his clumsiness. Anyway, with that
stated, he took possession of the few items he had picked out prior and slid down lightly
on the side of the dropship until he was less comfortable than before and when only pure
luck was holding the skinny dude glued to the side. The ground looked somewhat hard
from his point of view.

Another half-assed sigh, which led to him having a coughing fit simply due to his throat
being filled with razors, or so it seemed. Rewedyk began his drear work on the system,
separating wires from each other, flat-out tearing some stuff out because he doubted that
they would make much of a difference, checking his wrist database every now and then in
hope or fear of any changes to come. At that very moment, he couldn‘t believe he used to
be a normal kid with a normal job just trying to make a living for himself on one of the
most exciting planets of the known systems. Yeah, he had once been a simple grey-haired
man on Osiris who only had to worry for where his next lunch was coming from. He missed
it a lot.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 01.03.2003 at22:59:



Ragnar nodded nonchalantly, turning to hide a grimace. ―Captain. Well…we‘re still alive.
We haven‘t really gotten into it yet, and it looks like someone knew what they were doing.
So if we screw up…you can blame me.‖ He tried to grin grimly at his poor humor. You don‟t
sound too well, Galen… ―Like I said, no problem.‖

Returning to the task at hand (if there was one for him), he listened to Rewedyk for a few
seconds.

―Yeah man, you‘re right. There really isn‘t much I can do. So…good luck. Not to be
apathetic or anything, but I don‘t really think you need me here cheering you on.‖ With a
half wave, he dropped himself out of the ship and started toward the hall.

Back in the midsection of the ship, he was still slightly apprehensive about leaving
Rewedyk like that. It seemed more than a little cold to him, though he hadn‘t had the
intention to be. But really…what more can I do there? He‟ll probably even work better
there without me.

Still frowning, he found the entrance to the maintenance bay after a short walk. After a
quick peek inside, and a quick look in the medical bay opposite it, he made a break for his
quarters. He hoped he wouldn‘t get stopped or messaged on his way there. He was very
tired, and he felt like he could sleep despite the little problem with the dropship. He‘d just
get to his bed, lay down for awhile…
Posted by Donen Krell on 06.03.2003 at00:28:




OOC: After being stranded without internet access in "remote" Toronto      I also came
down with the flu there...THEN I come home to a crashed computer that I could only get
back up and running after re-initializing the hard drive and wiping everything clean.
Aaaarrggggh!     Anyway, I'm back now.

IC: “Doc, I do believe I‟ll be seeing you in sickbay shortly, after I finish up a few
things here. Excellent job, both of you. Dismissed.”

"Oh take your time, Captain," said Donen, tongue firmly in cheek. "The longer you
take, the more pain-inducing fun I get to have in my chamber of horrors." Then
smirking to himself the young med spec headed down to his med bay to prepare for
treating his crewmembers injuries.

"Hey, Salfiri!" called out the Valertrez medic. "Do you have any injuries I should look
at?" he asked, hoping he would also get a chance to chat some about Atevi culture.




Posted by Salfiri on 10.03.2003 at04:18:



―Jesus fucking Christ, people. That was close,‖ Galen said.

Salfiri watched impassively as the Captain leant back against the bulkhead and instantly
regretted it. She was on hair-trigger stand-by to catch him should he fall, but outwardly
she looked her usual neutral, living-statue standard self.

―Doc, I do believe I‘ll be seeing you in sickbay shortly, after I finish up a few things here.
Excellent job, both of you, Dismissed.‖

"Oh take your time, Captain," said Donen, tongue firmly in cheek. "The longer you take,
the more pain-inducing fun I get to have in my chamber of horrors." Then smirking to
himself the young med spec headed down to his med bay to prepare for treating his
crewmembers injuries.

"Hey, Salfiri!" called out the Valertrez medic. "Do you have any injuries I should look at?"
he asked, hoping he would also get a chance to chat some about Atevi culture.

Salfiri turned from watching Galen limp away to regard Donen with her impassive golden
gaze. "One believes that one can find many exuses for not visiting you, nand' Doctor, and
your 'chamber of horrors'." He said. Her expression was completely dead-pan, her tone of
voice neutral, yet her words surely were meant as a joke on his threat to the Captain.

She glanced down and indicated her uniform, which was crusty with the dried blood of the
older Ateva. "One is not currently presentable, but one will make one's self so, and meet
you in the medical bay." She said. "One has a minor injury, however one believes that the
Captain takes precedence." Plus Atevi beleived in persevering despite personal pain or
difficulties. Being a wimp was one of the worst kinds of social crimes.

She made her way down the corridoor towards the head she shared with Nadia de Vries,
stripped off and stepped in under the shower. She was not surprised to find that the water
was running freezing cold, Goldie was still holding a grudge, but Salfiri did not protest.
Compared to spending the night on a roof in the rain watching for any potential threats
approaching the villa where Lord Remo happened to be staying, a cold shower was hardly
a hardship, and it was soothing to her burnt hand besides.

Shutting the water off she wrapped herself in a large furry towel and carried her blood-
stained clothing back to her cabin. She dressed in a fresh pair of black pants and a shirt,
and spent a moment cleaning the blood off her equipment belt before putting it back on.
Then she brushed and rebraided her hair, and set out for the med bay, pausing along the
way at the laundry to set her clothing to clean. Trousers and shirt could go through the
normal cycle, jacket and boots would have to go through a sonic wash, water would ruin
the leather.

That done she padded bare-foot down the corridoor, making unerringly little noise for
someone who was almost nine feet tall, and rapped her knuckled on the hatchway of the
med bay before entering.

"Nadi Donen?" She said quietly, and when she had his attention, held her right hand out
infront of her, palm up. The palm was burnt from heel to fingertips, mostly first degree but
the barrel of the pistol where she'd gripped it was imprinted in her palm in second degree
burns, the whole probably quite painful, though she showed no sign of it.




Posted by Donen Krell on 15.03.2003 at22:57:



"One believes that one can find many exuses for not visiting you, nand' Doctor,
and your 'chamber of horrors'," she said. Her expression was completely dead-pan, her
tone of voice neutral, but Donen knew her words were surely meant as a joke, though
Donen couldn't imagine humor being part of the standard Atevi personality. The
incongruity of the remark coming from Salfiri's impossibly blank face doubled Donen over
in what must have seemed like hysterical laughter. Of course, Salfiri wouldn't so much as
raise an eyebrow no matter how strange Donen's behavior might seem, which only made it
that much harder for the med spec to control his mirth.

She glanced down and indicated her uniform, which was crusty with the dried blood of the
older Ateva. "One is not currently presentable, but one will make one's self so, and
meet you in the medical bay," she said. "One has a minor injury, however one
believes that the Captain takes precedence."

Gasping for breath, tears streaming down his face and leaning against the bulkhead as he
continued to chortle, the Valertrez tried to respond to the retreating Atevi security officer.
"Right...the captain takes preference...if he gets his macho ass down to my med
bay first...otherwise I'm all yours!" called Donen after her. Still chuckling to himself,
the med spec continued down to the med bay, after stopping off to pick up a couple of
MRE packets of stew. Damn, someone else needs to stock the galley besides Galen next
time...this stuff is pathetic...but I'm hungry enough to eat anything, even this shit, he
thought, eyeing the packets somewhat dubiously.

Finally entering his med bay, Donen opened the first self-heating stew packet then found
himself some mild analgesics for the dull throbbing headache which had returned, and
downed them with a liter of an electrolyte-balancing intravenous solution, which he drank
greedily rather than infused, figuring it wouldn't much matter how the fluid got into him
just so it counteracted the dehydration caused by the energy intensive workout he'd had
earlier with the "friendly" locals. He then attacked the now-hot stew with a vengence,
gulping it down so fast that he barely tasted it...which seemed a bonus.

He cracked open the second stew packet to heat and grabbed another liter of electrolyte
solution, and then began setting up some of the supplies he would need for Galen and
Salfiri. With everything set up he went back to his meal, which he was able to eat at a
slower pace, and that, of course, meant that he enjoyed it less. I just gotta get some real
food in here, or I'm gonna starve, he resolved. He was just finishing the last of his meal
and washing it down with the IV solution when he heard a knock on the hatchway of the
med bay. Turning in his chair he saw the tall shape of the Atevi come through the
bulkhead.

"Nadi Donen?" She said quietly, and when she had his attention, held her right hand out
infront of her, palm up. Donen could see that her palm was burnt from heel to fingertips,
mostly first degree but where she'd gripped the barrel of the pistol was imprinted in her
palm in second degree burns. It must have been quite painful, though she showed no sign
of it.

"You beat the Captain down, Salfiri, so you get looked at first after all," grinned
Donen. "Come on over here and let me take care of that hand," he said, motioning
the security officer to one of the med bay alcoves he had set up for her. "Hhhmmmm...,"
mused Donen looking at the tall Atevi whose body was almost a meter taller than the med
bay bed was long. "I guess you can just sit up there with your back leaning against
the wall...I'm going to have to ask Ragnar to modify one of these beds to fit you,
in case you ever need surgery though. Can't have you flopping over the ends
during some delicate procedure," he said with a grin.

The med spec poked and prodded the Atevi's burned hand, then he applied a mix of
pharmaceutical ingredients which would sooth and heal Salfiri's burns, as well as fight off
any infection, before finally bandaging her hand. "You will need to avoid using that
hand to much for the next week or so, and I'll need to change the dressings
daily." Donen was about to say that the Atevi was free to go, when he remembered he'd
had a few questions for her.

"Salfiri? You sensed something dangerous about those other Atevi, the first time
we saw them...before the fight started," Donen asked, unselfconsciously admitting his
telepathic abilities, if Salfiri hadn't already been aware of it. "Was it because they were
part of the Assassins Guild, or was it something else?" he asked. Then feeling
suddenly uncomfortable that he had in essence revealed he had eavesdropped on the
security officer's thoughts and feelings, he surged ahead on a different tack he had also
hoped to discuss with Salfiri. "Uh, I was also curious if you knew much about
sarafin...it is an energy-attack discipline I've been learning, and I understand it
was developed first by the Atevi," he said.




Posted by Salfiri on 17.03.2003 at04:19:



"I guess you can just sit up there with your back leaning against the wall...I'm
going to have to ask Ragnar to modify one of these beds to fit you, in case you
ever need surgery though. Can't have you flopping over the ends during some
delicate procedure," Donen said with a grin.

Salfiri boosted herself up onto the med bed with little difficulty given her height, and
leaned back against the wall as instructed. "One could, as I have done in my quarters
nadi Donen, place a packing crate of the right height at the end of the bed, if it
were an emergency." She said quietly while Donen treated her burns.

"You will need to avoid using that hand to much for the next week or so, and I'll
need to change the dressings daily."

"One hears, nadi Donen." Salfiri acknowledged. She had watched him carefully while he
treated and bandaged her hand, and now turned to examing the white bandages. Her hand
was so swathed as to be all but useless, and she was sufficiently competant with her left
hand in any respect, but she did not wish to obstruct the healing in any way, she would do
what she was told.

"Salfiri? You sensed something dangerous about those other Atevi, the first time
we saw them...before the fight started," Donen asked, unselfconsciously admitting his
telepathic abilities, if Salfiri hadn't already been aware of it. "Was it because they were
part of the Assassins Guild, or was it something else?"
Salfiri turned her attention from her bandaged hand and med Donen's gaze, giving him the
unnering honour of her undivided attention. She hadn't been aware that he was telepathic.
Though truth be told, this crew was turning to be rather unusual, so she perhaps should be
coming to expect it.

"When I first saw them, I suspected that they were... without man-chi and when
I saw the white ribbons in their braids, it was confirmed." She told him quietly. She
reached back with her left hand and pulled her long, glossy black braid over her shoulder,
to show him the red and yellow ribbons braided through it in an intricate pattern. "The
colours and style indicate the focus of our man-chi, in my case Lord Remo of
Karaidi Province." She released her long braid and let it fall back.

"The white ribbon means that the wearer has no man-chi to anyone. I suspected
as much because our man-chi evolves through association, and is strengthened
by it. The longer they were away from Shai-san and the focus of their own
loyalties, the more tenuous those loyalties would be." Dr Lunquist had tried to
explain things to her from a human's point of view, and she was largely repeating it to
Donen. Still, she didn't look pleased, a moue of concern pursing her lips. She was aware of
the lengthening time that she herself had been away from Shai-san.

"You see, nadi Donen, an Ateva without man-chi is dangerous, unpredictable, as
they can change their intentions easily, having no guiding force. Those two were
even more so, as it turned out. They were military deserters, I took their ID
collars." She said, and pulled them out of her pocket. "Itami and Kuraido of house
Zharieso. Brothers. Why Kuraido identified himself to me as 'Shiro' I am not
sure." It wasn't a name she recognised.

"But to answer your question, no, they were not members of the Assassin's Guild,
it would have been obvious to me." She said, and caught him watching her. The man
was telepathic, how much of what she thought could he hear? She could almost hear the
question, Why would it have been obvious to you? Could he see? And if not, would what he
suspected be worse than the truth?

"The ways of the Assassins are known, nadi Donen, though one is not a member
of the Assassin's Guild." She said at length, and there was a long pause. "One's
application is... pending. She admitted at last. Which of course, begged the question
Pending what? "Pending my survival, nadi Donen. A member of the Guild, Padiri,
filed Intent on myself and my partner Tairo for killing his partner, Kawari, also a
Guild member. It was then that we decided to apply, but the Guild sees no point
in processing the applications until they know if we will survive."

There, surely that would explain enough. The question then was, would the crew want a
someone with a death sentence hanging over their heads on board? Salfiri knew that they
were in no danger, there were severe penalties within the Guild for involving third parties,
let along killing them, but they might not know that. The uncomfortable silence
lengthened.

Then Donen changed the topic. "Uh, I was also curious if you knew much about
sarafin...it is an energy-attack discipline I've been learning, and I understand it
was developed first by the Atevi," he said.

"One regrets that one is not versed in the skill, nadi Donen." She said, reverting to
the more formal, third-person form of address. She was still unsure of where she stood
with these people, alien as well as well outside of her man-chi. "One has been assessed
as having aptitudes in Telepathy and Object Manipulation, though one has not
developed either talent. However, one could perhaps put you in touch with the
Shai-san university network, though one does not doubt that you are more than
capable of linking in on your own, nadi Donen." She ammended.

"I am sorry that I cannot offer any further assistance, nadi Donen, and thus I
would be loathe to ask in return, though I am now aware that you have some
skill in Telepathy, and one had thought that perhaps it is time to develop the
skill." She shrugged broad, muscular shoulders in an oddly graceful gesture, golden eyes
set in that angular, attractive face, watching him for an answer.


Posted by Galen Winters on 21.03.2003 at01:56:



Galen stepped lightly into the medbay, the two occupants too engrossed in their
conversation to notice him, the grey outfit he had worn on the docks blending well with the
dull steel bulkhead. Intent filed? he asked himself silently, still having the precise timing
needed to intrude at precisely the worst moment possible, despite his injuries. How typical,
he chided himself softly, his inner pessimist in full bluster. He listened silently as Donen
and the ebon-skinned ateva finished their conversation, the crew beginning to gel
admirably. Deciding to make his presence known at last, Galen spoke up in a clear voice.
―I might be able to help you with that, nadi,‖ he said, referring to her telepathic talent. ―As
you‘ve both no doubt noticed, I have a little skill in that area,‖ he added nonchalantly,
striding gingerly over to stand near the pair of crewmates.

―Salfiri, I‘m not going to ask why you and your partner killed Kawari, because frankly I
don‘t care. Unless it involves this ship, and this crew. Is the Guild liable to get us involved
as a group, or do they just want you? Actually, strike that. All of it. It doesn‘t matter,‖ the
grey-eyed captain said, changing tack in mid-thought. ―You‘re part of my crew, nadi.
They‘re not getting to you, or any of us, without a fight. I‘m not losing anyone else if I can
help it,‖ he declared with an unusual amount of vehemence, grasping her shoulder with his
good hand in a show of solidarity, not knowing, or caring, whether or not it was acceptable
Atevi etiquette. A shadow passed over Galen‘s face then, the subject of conversation
flirting dangerously close to something he didn‘t want to share just yet, even with those he
was willing to defend to the last.

Releasing Salfiri‘s shoulder, Galen awkwardly pulled off his long grey overcoat, dropping it
onto the closest exam table, the ugly swelling very evident under his rumpled grey suit,
the emerald green tie providing the only spark of color to the otherwise pale valertrez.
―Doc, could you give me a hand?‖ he asked, being obviously incapable of removing the
much more confining coat and shirt without help. With that, he settled onto a table,
enduring the pokes and prods of the Med Nazi with as much stoicism as possible, given the
rather blinding pain he was in.

―Nadi, I‘ll need you to double check our deliveries for any problems, have Ragnar help you
with the more technical aspects if you need. He‘ll need to be there to supervise the
installation anyway. I don‘t trust Kendra farther than I can throw this station, though she‘s
not stupid enough to try anything too overt. Just keep your eyes open, and we can get out
of here as soon as our equipment is installed. Our little dustup is proof of just how
dangerous the Hole can OW! be.‖ he concluded, taking umbrage with Donen‘s latest
examination.




Posted by Donen Krell on 22.03.2003 at17:30:



Donen had read about the Atevi concept of "man-chi", though he hadn't understood much.
Salfiri's short explanation in reference to the two Atevi mercenaries, however, made
everthing suddenly clear to the Valertrez medic. The light was beginning to dawn on
something of Atevi culture which had previously eluded him. He also felt a bit silly about
his question about the Assassin's Guild, apparently his guess had been way off base...so
much for racial stereotypes, he groaned inwardly. Initially feeling somewhat sheepish as
Salfiri went on to speak directly to his question about the Guild, Donen expected to get a
lecture on his cheek and racial prejudice.

"The ways of the Assassins are known, nadi Donen, though one is not a member
of the Assassin's Guild," she said at length, and there was a long pause. "One's
application is... pending," she admitted at last. Donen face went completely slack in
surprized response to the unexpected admission from Salfiri. A tumble of questions
instantly filled Donen's mind, but he stood in stunned silence, unable to put the questions
into coherent sentences. Fortunately, Salfiri went on to explain without his having to ask.
"Pending my survival, nadi Donen. A member of the Guild, Padiri, filed Intent on
myself and my partner Tairo for killing his partner, Kawari, also a Guild member.
It was then that we decided to apply, but the Guild sees no point in processing
the applications until they know if we will survive."

There was a long uncomfortable pause, during which time Donen had increasingly more
questions, but he wasn't sure how much more Salfiri would be willing to disclose. He was
already pretty sure that this much of a personal confession was very uncharacteristic of
the taciturn Atevi, and he didn't want to offend Salfiri by probing. Salfiri seemed very cool
and focused as security for the Heart of Gold crew, despite having a price on her head, and
Donen just couldn't imagine her being outwitted by anyone. His respect for her went up
several notches with these revelations, but instead of pursuing this line of conversation,
Donen decided to change the subject and ask about the Atevi sarafin discipline.

"One regrets that one is not versed in the skill, nadi Donen," She said in response
to his question, reverting to the more formal, third-person form of address. "One has
been assessed as having aptitudes in Telepathy and Object Manipulation, though
one has not developed either talent. However, one could perhaps put you in
touch with the Shai-san university network, though one does not doubt that you
are more than capable of linking in on your own, nadi Donen," she ammended.

"I am sorry that I cannot offer any further assistance, nadi Donen, and thus I
would be loathe to ask in return, though I am now aware that you have some
skill in Telepathy, and one had thought that perhaps it is time to develop the
skill." She shrugged broad, muscular shoulders in an oddly graceful gesture, golden eyes
set in that angular, attractive face, watching him for an answer.

"Actually, Salfiri, Galen is much more skilled..." Donen began, and then he was
interrupted by the man himself, finally showing up in the medbay.

“I might be able to help you with that, nadi,” he said, referring to her telepathic
talent. “As you‟ve both no doubt noticed, I have a little skill in that area,” he added
nonchalantly, striding gingerly over to stand near the pair of crewmates.

Gah! The local alpha male asserts his dominance, thought Donen sardonically with a sigh.

“Salfiri, I‟m not going to ask why you and your partner killed Kawari, because
frankly I don‟t care. Unless it involves this ship, and this crew. Is the Guild liable
to get us involved as a group, or do they just want you? Actually, strike that. All
of it. It doesn‟t matter,” the grey-eyed captain said, changing tack in mid-thought.
“You‟re part of my crew, nadi. They‟re not getting to you, or any of us, without a
fight. I‟m not losing anyone else if I can help it,” he declared with an unusual amount
of vehemence, grasping her shoulder with his good hand in a show of solidarity.

Typical macho bullshit, thought Donen with a smile. But I know now that the guy really
means it. It's sort of corny, but endearing in it's own way, thought the medic, successfully
stifling a very inappropriate chuckle.

Releasing Salfiri‘s shoulder, Galen awkwardly pulled off his long grey overcoat, dropping it
onto the closest exam table, the ugly swelling very evident under his rumpled grey suit,
the emerald green tie providing the only spark of color to the otherwise pale Valertrez.
“Doc, could you give me a hand?” he asked, being obviously incapable of removing the
much more confining coat and shirt without help. Wordlessly Donen helped the captain
remove his coat and shirt, and got Galen up onto an adjacent medbay bed. Examining the
captain's injuries as gently and professionally as possible, it was quite easy to see that the
captain had a nasty compound fracture of the left clavicle. Donen was impressed how
Galen was handling his injury with as much stoicism as possible, given the rather blinding
pain he was probably in.
Donen was going to have to set the captain's collarbone, and he was certain that Galen
would not like that at all. And he was equally certain that the macho Valertrez would hate
the needed recovery process even more. Donen shrugged and waited for the moment
when the captain would be completely distracted.

“Nadi, I‟ll need you to double check our deliveries for any problems, have Ragnar
help you with the more technical aspects if you need. He‟ll need to be there to
supervise the installation anyway. I don‟t trust Kendra farther than I can throw
this station, though she‟s not stupid enough to try anything too overt. Just keep
your eyes open, and we can get out of here as soon as our equipment is installed.
Our little dustup is proof of just how dangerous the Hole can..." OK, Donen...do it
now! he thought, and with an expert twist with his hands on either side of the captain's
splintered clavicle, he brought the two broken ends into alighnment. Donen smiled to
himself in triumph. "OW! be.” concluded Galen, glaring at Donen.

"The bone is set Captain Winters," said Donen smugly, knowing that Galen probably
thought he was still just examining him instead of being nearly done. Now I have to tell
him the really painful part, he thought, rolling his eyes. "OK, Captain, now I have to
tape down your entire left arm to your ribs. You won't be able to move it AT ALL
for about six weeks...unless we manage to find funds for something other than
armamentarium for this tub. A micro-regen unit would have cut down healing
time to under a week...if we had such a thing...like I requisitioned."




Posted by Salfiri on 23.03.2003 at05:03:



"Actually, Salfiri, Galen is much more skilled..." Donen began, and then he was
interrupted by the man himself, finally showing up in the medbay.

“I might be able to help you with that, nadi,” Galen said, referring to her telepathic
talent. “As you‟ve both no doubt noticed, I have a little skill in that area,” he added
nonchalantly, striding gingerly over to stand near the pair of crewmates.

Salfiri turned her golden gaze on Galen as he approached them. "One did not wish to
presume upon your time, nand' Captain." Salfiri said carefully, aware that Galen had
entered while she was talking, and painfully aware that she had said far too much.

“Salfiri, I‟m not going to ask why you and your partner killed Kawari, because
frankly I don‟t care. Unless it involves this ship, and this crew. Is the Guild liable
to get us involved as a group, or do they just want you? Actually, strike that. All
of it. It doesn‟t matter,” the grey-eyed captain said, changing tack in mid-thought.
“You‟re part of my crew, nadi. They‟re not getting to you, or any of us, without a
fight. I‟m not losing anyone else if I can help it,” he declared with an unusual amount
of vehemence, grasping her shoulder with his good hand in a show of solidarity.

Salfiri blinked down at the Captain from where she sat on the bench, aware of the grip of
his hand on her shoulder. Such a small hand, pale and delicate, yet the Atevi remembered
the terrible battles the two races had fought, largely over missunderstandings, often over
such gestures. But Salfiri had learned that the ways of other races were different, and had
seen much of the way Terran's interracted. The gesture was meant to express association,
such as Terran's saw it. The implications of the touch and the Captain's words were harder
to reconcile however.

"The Guild will not involve you, nand' Captain, or any of the crew." She assured
him, despite his declaring that it did not matter. "biichi-gi is always required.
'Finesse', nand' Captain. Third parties must not be involved, not even as
witnesses. My greatest safety lies in my..." she searched for the right word, aware
that many things did not translate well "involvement, with you and your crew." She
said at last.
Still, the simple declaration that Salfiri was a part of Galen's crew and that he intended to
ensure her safety was difficult. Her man-chi was not to him, these people were not her
association, and yet he acted as though this was so. They have the potential to associate
with anyone, regardless of man-chi. She'd been told once. That was what had triggered
the war, their making their associations, their friendships across lines of man-chi, drawing
together people who would not associate or even held feud against each other. It has
resulted in a haronniin, a system under stress that was in need of adjustment. Usually that
adjustment involved the neat removal of the person causing the stress, the job of the
Assassin's Guild. In the case of the Terrans however, it had resulted in a bloody war.

She regarded Galen for a long moment before speaking again. "One is grateful, nand'
Captain, for your support. Understand that Kawari was killed because he made an
attempt on the life of Lord Remo, the man whom I serve." She said solomnly.
"There is no secrecy surrounding the circumstances. He tried to carry out the
Intent filed on Lord Remo. I shot him." She said, golden gaze impassive. "Deeming
us too great an obstacle, Lord Gerissumi filed Intent on myself and my partner,
Tairo, contracting Padiri - his guard and Kawari's partner - to carry out the
Intent. Padiri has no new partner, nand' Captain. He will come alone, and it will
only be me he wants. It would be safer for you to not become involved." Because
she had a feeling that Padiri might not consider it a breach of finesse to take out a few
Humans. They weren't Atevi.

Salfiri slid off the med bed and silently took Galen's coat from him as she could see he was
having difficulty, while Donen helped him out of his shirt and proceeded to examine his
broken collarbone.

“Nadi, I‟ll need you to double check our deliveries for any problems, have Ragnar
help you with the more technical aspects if you need. He‟ll need to be there to
supervise the installation anyway. I don‟t trust Kendra farther than I can throw
this station, though she‟s not stupid enough to try anything too overt. Just keep
your eyes open, and we can get out of here as soon as our equipment is installed.
Our little dustup is proof of just how dangerous the Hole can OW! be.” he
concluded, while Donen continued setting his shoulder.

The tall Ateva nodded gently, her long, angular and above all alien face it's usual grave,
impassive expression. "One would be pleased to work with nadi Ragnar." She said
quietly, pleased to be off the topic of Intent, crew and associations. "One intends to
sleep until the delivery arrives, unless the Captain has further orders?" She said,
turning the statement into a question. "One believes that we are currently safe
enough for you to do the same, nand' Captain." She added, with a quick glance at
Donen where a Human might have winked. If Salfiri thought it was safe enough for her to
sleep then probably the entire crew could snooze. Someone would have to be fairly
determined to gain entry to the Heart of Gold, and in any case, Goldie would know.

"If you will excuse me nand' Captain, nadi Donen." She bowed deeply in the Atevi
fashion, hands on her knees, the gesture made perhaps slightly incongruous by the fact
that she was dressed only in trousers and a shirt - and of course the ever present weapons
belt - feet bare and one hand swathed in a white bandage, though as ever her thick black
hair was braided tightly back.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 23.03.2003 at11:55:

 W00t! Posty goodness!

Ragnar sat up in bed. It had been the better part of an hour that he‘d been asleep, but it
was enough to send him into a deep, dreamless slumber. Blinking, he wondered what had
awoken him.

Goldie said, ―Wakey wakey, boy-o. You‘ve got some work to do.‖ She sounded more
insistent than normal, as if she wanted it to be done as soon as possible. Of course, who
wouldn‘t want a few high-powered military weapons attached to their body?
―What‘s going on Goldie?‖ Ragnar asked, standing up and stepping into his work boots.

―Well, Galen was out getting some pretty new jewelry for me..looks like it‘s arrived. I think
it‘d be nice if someone with your..knowledge of my anatomy..to be there making sure
things slide in and out smoothly. Besides, I heard Galen say he‘d like you down there.‖

Ragnar raised a brow at Goldie‘s innuendo as he finished lacing his boots. ―Thanks for the,
uhh, yeah. I‘ll be going to check on that then.‖ He stood up in the complete darkness,
stretching, and somehow feeling a little refreshed from his short nap. He gave the issue
with the dropship a few moments‘ thought before fastening his gun‘s holster to his right
hip.

Wearing plain blue denim pants and a green tank top was a loud statement in a place
where everyone is carrying a concealed weapon, and usually more than one. It was plain
that Ragnar had very little more than his energy pistol about him, and certainly not his
wits; any man in a place such as The Hole keeps as much protection as they can about
them with only a menacing level of weapons showing. Ragnar had a single energy pistol,
all he had, showing.

It wasn‘t as if he cared, though. It was in port, so there was little chance of encounter. But
then again, these weapons had been purchased in The Hole. Meaning, the dealer might be
a hassle. Which is why you‟re going to be your smug, confident self while you‟re out there.
Wouldn‟t want to let down the good captain now, would we? Wonder how his trip went,
speaking of..must‟ve been good enough if he got some goods and came back alive.

Ragnar‘s ritelanium-toed boots resounded sharply on the floor grating as he made his way
quickly from his quarters to the lower exit. His eyes were somewhere between glazed and
steeled; he was distant, thinking about long lost subjects at the moment, but he was ready
to give hell to whoever wanted to tempt him. He was in no mood to screw around; he
wanted sleep, though he wasn‘t tired. Maybe I should go back to 40-hour days? It‟d be a
lot easier..just take a little readjustment.

With an otherwise stern look on his face, Ragnar exited the ship, exuding an aura of stern
confidence. He headed down to the main deck of the maintenance platform. Here laid two
rows of various weapons, one on either side of the sleek Pulsar. One techie ran up to
Ragnar. The blue-clad man, unkempt and seemingly dissatisfied with his current position,
said, ―Hey bud, we was just about to call you. Galen Winters?‖

‖Nah, I'm Ragnar.‖ The ex-gangster said carelessly. Still looking around, and running his
finger along the grip of his pistol, he said, ―I‘m his engineer. I‘m the one that makes sure
your guys put all the pieces in the right places. You can go ahead and get to work, if that‘s
alright.‖ Ragnar cut himself off there, not wanting to sound too aggressive.

―Sure.‖ The grease monkey started back toward his previous position apathetically.

What fun...

(Sal, you can jump in any time..)




Posted by Salfiri on 30.03.2003 at10:42:



The greasy tech got a few steps, then seemed to think of something and turned back as
though to speak to Ragnar. The the man stopped dead, an expression of trepidation
passing briefly over his features, and he presumably thought better of whatever he'd been
going to say, turning back and hurrying away.

Behind Ragnar a low-pitched and decievingly gentle voice greeted him. "Nadi Ragnar."
Salfiri was once again wearing her full uniform, black shirt and trousers, heavy, studded
black leather jacket and black leather boots that had the ritalanium toe caps in common
with Ragnar's. Attached to her weapons belt was her plasma pistol at her right hip and the
long and rather dangerous looking kris knife at her left, along with a ritalanium dagger.
Two more were in their sheaths on the sleeves of her jacket, and as always it begged the
question of where the others were, and did you really want to find out.

The reason for the tech's sudden turn-around was the dissaproving expression on her
smooth, dark features. She looked like an angry young goddess, and a pissed Ateva
security guard was every low-life's worst nightmare. In actual fact, Salfiri was in quite a
good mood, feeling much better after a sleep, the scowl had been purely for the tech's
benefit, and it vanished when her golden gaze met Ragnar's grey-blue one. She didn't look
any the worse for wear despite the fight on the way back not long ago, and she'd removed
Donen's bandage, though kept the dressing in place, and donned instead a pair of black
leather gloves to hide her injury.

"Are the tekikiin working to you satisfaction, nadi Ragnar?" She asked after
observing them for a long moment. Tekikiin was one of the few Atevi words that many
people knew, largely because Atevi has adopted it from Humans in the first place. Tekiki
was the best attempt Atevi could make at the syllables of 'Technician', which gave them no
end of trouble. Tekikiin was simply the plural, and since it was understood there was no
need for the Babelfish to translate it. Prior to contact they'd used a different word for every
type of tech, as each discipline had evolved seperately, but had taken to the grouping
concept.

Triti was another adopted word, from the Terran 'Treaty'. It was the closest Atevi came to
the concept of friendship, an agreed upon association for mutual benefit. Although it was
usually agreed between governments, by aijiin, who by their very nature had no man-chi,
but rather were the focus of others' man-chi. The Atevi word for Captain mean 'ship-aiji',
although Captains still usually held man-chi to a lord.

Salfiri returned her impassive gaze to where the techs were unloading the weaponry Galen
had purchased from Kendra but a few hours before, and scurrying around with various
tool-kits, preparing to install it. "One believes we should check our new aquisitions
for... problems, before they are installed." She commented. "One is sure the
Captain mentioned, nadi Ragnar." she added, not wishing to give offence by implying
that he had been left out of the loop or that she was giving orders.

-----------

Salfiri's wake-up call had not been pleasant that morning. Ever since her attempt to
remove the ship's AI, Goldie had begun a campaign of antisocial behavior directed at the
Security Officer. Her loud and obnoxious announcement had roused Salfiri out of bed only
to find that the lights weren't working, opening her door required just about every access
code she's programmed in, and her shower was cold; again. In fact Goldie had found it
highly dissapointing how little the patient Ateva was reacting.

She was simply glad that it hadn't extended to anything that would actually impede her
doing her job, but she doubted that the Captain would stand for that. Her uniform had
finished it's cleaning cycle and was wrinkle-free, and she was still able to get something to
eat, even if it was cold and - the far worse factor to her sensibilities - processed.

And so she was only marginally late when the consignment began arriving, the ship's
mechanic having arrived before her. Together they approached the first load, prepared to
go over it with a fine-toothed comb for bugs, trackers, squeakers, viruses and all manner
of other nasty little surprises that people might think to include. And once they were clean
the tekikiin could get on with the installation, and add to the arsenal that embodiment of
baji-naji, Goldie-daja, had at her command.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 02.04.2003 at03:59:

 I waited a couple days..heh..
Ragnar furrowed his brow when the techie turned around. He thought he was curt enough
to have prevented the fool from coming back to clear anything up. He wanted to scowl, but
held his features in an apathetic yet surveying gaze. When the man turned back around,
Ragnar mentally breathed a sigh of relief. He didn‘t feel like dealing with some moron‘s
stupid question at the moment. Actually, he didn‘t even feel like interacting with anyone
around here. He was under the impression that people that lived here tended to be
assholes, which was probably a safe assumption.

―Nadi Ragnar.‖

Ragnar slowly turned, not recognizing the voice over the banter of the various works being
done in the vicinity. Once he saw that it was his fellow crewmate, he smiled curtly and his
eyes brightened a little. ―Hello, Salfiri. Good of you to join me; there‘s a lot of stuff going
on down here.‖

They both turned to take in the work being done on their present home, the Heart of Gold.
The last of the equipment had arrived, and it was being arranged and prepped for
installation. The dockhands, from the way they moved about (and from where they lived),
had probably not gone to a formal school for training in the area of ship accessories, as
Ragnar had. Ragnar had been forced to go, of course, but he still had gone and learned.

Ragnar didn‘t like what he saw in the dockhands at all. Whoever sent these guys was too
cheap to hire standard dockside techies..they just sent their own chumps to do it for
cheap. This could be a little more tiresome than I thought..what am I supposed to do
anyway? Dammit, I should have talked to the captain about this.

Beside him, it seemed as if the tall woman had read his mind. ―Are the tekikiin working to
your satisfaction, nadi Ragnar?‖

Smirking, Ragnar replied, ―No, these greaseballs don‘t look like they know the second
thing about proper ship work. If I were a stickler for good workers, these guys would
probably get shot.‖

After a moment, his crewmate placidly said, ―One believes we should check our new
acquisitions for… problems, before they are installed. One is sure the Captain mentioned,
nadi Ragnar.‖

The Valertrez‘s eyebrows drooped slightly. I hate being left out of the loop. Thank you
Goldie. Managing to hide his dismay, he said brightly, ―Actually, I haven‘t talked to the
captain since before he left.‖ With a healthy dose of sarcasm, he continued, ―Our little gift
Goldie told me Galen wanted it done. I probably should have talked to him.. In any case, I
think it‘d be a good idea to check this stuff out before we let it on.‖ Duh, why didn‟t you
think of that? Don‟t you know where you are? Ragnar bit his lower lip as he started toward
the nearest row of weapons, having to keep a quicker pace to keep up with the taller
Salfiri.

...Do we have a real reason to be looking for „problems‟ in our stuff, other than because
we‟re in The Hole? As they started looking through things, Ragnar mulled the question
over in his head. It got him to realize he didn‘t know a great deal of what was going on at
the moment. But that was just fine with him; if no one saw it fit to keep him informed,
there was no need to do it. After all, he was just the mechanic, wasn‘t he?




Posted by Salfiri on 07.04.2003 at04:01:



Smirking, Ragnar replied, “No, these greaseballs don‟t look like they know the
second thing about proper ship work. If I were a stickler for good workers, these
guys would probably get shot.”
"It is an option, nadi Ragnar." Salfiri said quietly, expression deadpan. But it was for
the benefit of the techs. Assassination was legal in Atevi society, but not random killing.
One had to go through the proper channels, and one had to file Intent. The target had the
right to know.

Managing to hide his dismay, Ragnar said brightly, “Actually, I haven‟t talked to the
captain since before he left.” With a healthy dose of sarcasm, he continued, “Our little
gift Goldie told me Galen wanted it done. I probably should have talked to him..
In any case, I think it‟d be a good idea to check this stuff out before we let it on.”

Salfiri nodded thoughtfully. "Galen-captain was in the med bay with nadi Donen."
She did not mention what he was there for within hearing range of the techs. "It was
then that he asked me to inspect the deliveries, and I would prefer your
assistance. Salfiri knew the sort of tell-tale signs to look for, but very little of this was
Atevi technology, and Ragnar knew more about hacking and modifying than she did.
Between them they should be able to clean everything.

----------

Galen had been right in his assumption that Kendra wouldn't try anything big, but Salfiri
had found a couple of tracking bugs, and a Trojan Horse in some of the software, designed
to be triggerred by certain events. Most likely anything that Kendra thought might lead to
the equipment being traced back to her.

Ragnar spent some time reprimanding and directing the techs in their installation of the
parts, with Salfiri silently looming behind him, implying that if they didn't do what he said
they'd have to deal with her, and none of them came close to her size or abilities.

Salfiri watched as the intallation neared completion, impressed inspite of herself at the
sheer array of destructive capability the Heart of Gold possessed. She just hoped that
embodyment of baji-naji, Chance and Fortune, the demons in the design, would behave
herself.




Posted by Galen Winters on 08.04.2003 at11:32:



Six weeks? he thought in alarm, wondering exactly how he was expected to pilot the Heart
of Gold with only one good arm. ―Point taken, doc. I‘ll get you one of those . . . things,
first chance we get. However, you‘ll understand if we have to wait until we‘re clear of the
Hole before we go shopping. It‘s not exactly the Osiris Merchant Ultraplex around here, if
you haven‘t noticed. Hani merchants, thankfully, ask a lot fewer questions than those in
Engreia space,‖ he stated flatly, his own limited experience in the matter keeping with
what he had told the crew. He listened to Salfiri‘s not-so-subtle hint with skeptical ears,
but knew deep down that the ebon-skinned female was absolutely right. ―Carry on, nadI,‖
he gave as the barest of orders to the ateva, knowing that she would likely have done it
anyway.

Once Donen was done with patching him up, for the second time in as many weeks, no
less, he gathered his things, draping the long coat and the rest of his clothes bulkily in his
one good arm and staggered into the main corridor of the Heart of Gold‘s second deck. The
wide hallway was clear of people for the time being, which was a relief to the very
haggard-looking valertrez, the LED light arrays seeming to flare in brightness with each
throb of his growing headache. Putting that in the back of his mind, he stepped to the
forward ladderwell, punching up the small cargo lift with the nudge of his elbow.

The little thing was barely capable of supporting one hundred fifty kilos, and was primarily
meant for bulky cargo that needed to be lifted up to the uppermost deck of the sleek
Pulsar. The perforated steel platform sagged slightly as he stepped onto it, the gears
whining in protest as he slowly ascended to the third deck, and his quarters. The lift
reached its destination with a sharp jolt, which did not a thing to alleviate the pain of his
broken clavicle, Galen leaning against the side of the shaft for a moment lest he black out
from the pain. Several ragged breaths later, he opened his bloodshot grey eyes again,
glaring blearily across the corridor the scant few meters to his cabin, slowly gathering the
will to get his feet into motion, tentative shuffling steps carrying him slowly onward, the
light hiss of the door‘s hydraulics greeting him non-judgmentally.

The bundled clothing fell onto the floor, Galen caring little for a clean cabin at this
juncture, the only thing he was focusing on was the cool sheets and blessedly soft
embrace of the temperfoam mattress, beckoning to him like a sweet siren‘s song. He sat
on the edge of the bed, shucking his shoes and belt with little trouble, the grey silk pants
following soon after to lie in a shimmering heap at the foot of the bed. Bracing himself with
one arm, Captain Winters scooted up to lie upon the mattress, experimenting until he
found a position which was less painful than others, lying on his uninjured right side,
curled into almost a fetal ball, keeping from tipping over easily. Seeking sweet oblivion,
Galen was sadly disappointed as sleep did not come, his custom of shifting in bed waking
him with every new stab of pain. ―Fuck this‖ he said to no one in particular, before
dragging himself out of bed to find some of the meds he‘d managed to pilfer from Donen‘s
chest of magical happy pills. Popping several into his mouth, he chewed on the bitter-
tasting chalky pills, before washing them down with a swig of water from the tap. He felt
his tongue start to go tingly and numb halfway back to the bed, and silently rejoiced for
the miracles of modern medicine, conscious thought patterns dissipating before his head
hit the pillow.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 12.04.2003 at00:38:



"Galen-captain was in the med bay with nadi Donen. It was then that he asked me to
inspect the deliveries, and I would prefer your assistance."

Med bay. Med bay. That can‟t be good. Ragnar quite visibly frowned while inspecting one
of the stabilizing junctions for one of the larger batteries. After a moment, he finally said,
―Yeah..I would hope you‘d think to call me down. After all, what was I hired to do?‖

The maintenance man was pleased to see the serial codes removed from the items which
would raise the most questions; Ragnar figured that whoever had sold these (probably
stolen) high-grade goods hadn‘t wanted these items to be traced back to The Hole at all.
To his dismay, however, he did have to use his limited knowledge on viruses and other
pesky little bugs within the computers of the batteries. Fortunately, they were easily
removed, along with anything else the two inspectors found.

Though he did look at some of the equipment, and help Salfiri with some of the items,
much of his time was spent barking at the technicians (and very nearly throwing one off of
a catwalk), who he constantly insulted and had to show how to do things the way he
wanted them done. Yes, he was probably being bossy and demanding, but it was his ship
to take care of, and he didn‘t want things done half-assedly by these no-account thugs.

Most of the while he kept his right hand on his gun belt, mere inches from the smoky black
pistol on his side. That, coupled with the huge, ominous Atevi behind him, kept the
workers from talking back too much, even (or especially) when he hurried forward to do
something himself or randomly stop this person or that.

And though he carried himself very confidently, and acted like he didn‘t even expect a
word of backtalk, he noticed some of the bigger guys grumble and sneer at the ex-
gangster, though it didn‘t stop him from calling one particularly large fellow ‗dickless.‘ He
was a bit taller than the average Valertrez or Terran, but he wasn‘t built heavily. He was
sure that he‘d likely kill someone (one of these guys anyway) before they bruised him
though, if he wanted to.

All in all (and despite the catwalk incident), the whole operation took less than three
hours. There was a fair amount of equipment that had to be put on, but they were in large
batteries, and the ship was (strangely) already fitted for such batteries. Which is why he
bought what he bought.. Ragnar thought, watching the last few pieces of artillery hoisted
into position by the now nearly fed-up team of dockhands.

Remembering Goldie, and his crewmate behind him, he called (above the racket of the
crew), ―Heh, that freaky AI is certainly going to like her new toys, eh?‖ He personally
wasn‘t terribly fond of the thing, but as it stood, they didn‘t have much a choice: either
pay a large chunk of money for a new one (from *which* loaded bank account would this
come from?), get rid of Goldie and run things themselves (On five crew members? [He still
thought of Nadia as a client, rather than a crewmember] I don‟t think so..even if they were
all trained..), or let the psycho have her guns. Trying times ineed..




Posted by Donen Krell on 12.04.2003 at01:34:



Despite not getting an instant sign-off from Galen on the requisition for the micro-regen
unit, Donen felt smugly assured that the Valertrez captain would soon see the need for a
relatively minor expenditure for medical equipment in a much different light after suffering
without the use of one arm for a few weeks. It wasn‘t that Donen wanted anyone to
experience pain and suffering, far from it, but if there was something that could powerfully
focus one‘s priorities, a little pain and discomfort could do the trick.

Speaking of pain…I forgot to ask our reticent captain if he needed any meds, he thought as
he began to search through his medication drawer for an appropriate analgesic. Being a
fairly organized fellow, though some might label him a bit anal retentive if they fancied
old-Earth archeo-psychology, he noted, with some irritation, that his unconventional and
macho captain had nicked a bottle of some new nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
”Damn him, anyway!” he blurted aloud. ”Why can‟t the guy just ask for what he
wants instead of just taking my shit?” The fact that the captain happened to take one
of the meds he would have prescribed anyway, did little to assuage the med spec‘s
umbrage. At least he didn‟t take any of my barbiturates or narcotics…I‟m glad I have
those hidden under special lock and key. I can‟t have everyone popping whatever color
pill they happen to like without understanding how they interact with alcohol or recreation
drugs…or taking whatever dosages they feel like!

Donen then proceeded to stomp around the other cubicles and cabinets in search of other
things which might have been ―appropriated‖ from his medbay, swearing in a way that
would have shocked both his mothers. Finally convinced that nothing else was missing, the
Valertrez medspec tried to calm himself down by trying to access the Shai-san University
network that Salfiri had mentioned earlier. As he sat down at his workstation and began
accessing the Net, there was an alert about an incoming message for him. He was frankly
somewhat nonplussed that it had managed to find him since he had told no one he had
signed onto the Heart of Gold crew.

Before acknowledging the message and accessing it, Donen had the computer run an
analysis of the message‘s packaging and routing. If growing up in Alkes Field had taught
him anything, it was that caution and suspicion could be life-saving virtues. There was no
return address on the message‘s packaging, which was unusual, and the routing
subroutines were a complicated macro which literally bounced the message around the Net
in ever-increasing spirals until it managed to locate him, not just by name, but also by a
sophisticated matrix of demographic data that would narrow the field of search quite
specifically. It was an impressive bit of programming, and it puzzled him who would be
trying that hard to contact him. And then a realization hit him that froze his blood—
”Something‟s happened at home!” he gasped.

One of his mothers, Lisa, had always been a pretty good hacker in addition to being a
crack asteroid-mining laser-drill operator. She could probably have hacked up a pretty
good search routine, though this was a step better than anything she had cooked up
previously…but why the urgency? The only thing that came to mind was that something
must have happened to his other mother, Sarah. Sarah was a feisty captain of the family‘s
ore-hauling freighter, despite being petite and pretty attractive for a woman in middle age,
and she had had some bad run-ins with pirates in her time, including once getting spaced
from her own ship by two especially nasty thugs who didn‘t think religious lesbians had
any right to be captaining freighters. She had managed to get back onboard by some
―miracle‖, she said, and then prayed for the two bastards‘ souls…after she sent them both
to hell with her blaster. But the incident had left her with weak and damaged lungs. Donen
had pleaded with her to accept a transplant of the newest model of cybernetic lungs, but
Sarah had politely demurred. ”These are the lungs God gave me and I‟m gonna keep
them until She calls me home,” she had said stubbornly. And now Donen feared the
worst.

He had left home under difficult circumstances, turning his back on the family asteroid
mining business and the religion of his mothers, both of which had probably earned him
temporary, if not permanent exile. But despite the disagreements, Donen still cared for his
mothers, even though he didn‘t necessarily want to share their lifestyle. But if anything
had happened to Sarah, he wasn‘t sure he‘d be able to forgive himself for leaving in such a
huff.

With much fear and trepidation, Donen accessed the message. It was in an encoded video
format. The bulky, shorthaired blonde form of a serious-looking Lisa did nothing to allay
his fears, she looked somewhat haggard and a bit older than her age, which was in her
late forties.

“Hello Donen…son. I know we didn‟t part on exactly the best of terms, but I
wanted you to know, that despite everything, we still love you and pray for your
safety every day…Sarah, too. Come on over here, Sarah honey, be nice to your
only child.” Then the big blonde pulled in the petite figure of a pretty brunette with a
muscular arm wrapped around the younger woman‘s waist and brought her into camera-
view. Donen sighed with relief that Sarah looked fine and healthy, she was in her late
thirties yet she always looked much younger, but seeing her still petulant expression
kicked up a little of Donen‘s residual anger. And then the younger woman‘s expression
softened.

“Oh Donen, I don‟t mind that you don‟t have an interest in the family business. I
know it‟s a hard and dirty life, and you‟ve got to follow your own dreams not
mine and Lisa‟s, but dammit don‟t go off denying your spiritual nature and all.”

“Oh hush on the missionary routine, Sarah! We raised the boy right, he‟ll come
around fine. Just leave him be awhile. Anyway, son, we didn‟t send this to fuss at
you, did we Sarah?” she added with a playful dig to the younger woman‘s ribs.

“No, son. We just wanted to wish you a happy birthday…wherever you are. And
we are hoping you‟re safe and enjoying your new life. And dammit…send us a
message sometime so we know you are ok, will you?” A splash of tears spilled down
the brunette‘s face, and the blonde hugged her tightly and affectionately.

“Will you cut the waterworks, darlin‟. He‟s just fine. You‟ll see, and I‟ll cook up a
fancy search routine that‟ll get this to him in no time. Well, anyway, Donen, we
got you a present, but it‟ll be sitting in Alkes station until you can get it sent to
wherever you are. I think you‟ll like it, but we ain‟t telling you nothing. You‟ll just
have to claim it yourself and have it shipped wherever you are. Of course we‟ll
know where you picked it up from, with the search subroutine I‟m writing, but
we won‟t bug you.”

“We love you, Donen. Be good and be safe out there. And really, I hope you had a
happy birthday. We miss you!” said Sarah wiping away the tears that still stained her
pretty cheeks.

“Love you, son. Take care out there and be smart…stay away from trouble.”

When the video went blank, Donen was surprised to feel tears on his own cheeks. ”Oh
shit, Donen. What a gravity-bound wuss you are,” he said aloud, with a self-
deprecating chuckle. Then, knowing full well that his moms would soon know that he was
in the neighborhood, he couldn‘t resist claiming his package and having a courier hotfoot it
over to the HoG. To forestall a visit from Sarah and Lisa, he hurriedly typed in a response
to their greetings. No way did he want his parents to get a look at this high-powered
gunboat--they‘d come to all the wrong conclusions about him…well, maybe. And video
wasn‘t going to do at all. Even though neither of his parents had any telepathic abilities at
all, they still seemed to be able to read him as easily as they read a star chart.
quote:

Hi Lisa. Hi Sarah.

I got your vid. Thanks for the thoughts. I love you both, too. Sorry I haven‘t contacted
you yet. I got a job as a medspec in Energia and right away we had to leave on a priority
run. We just happened to be in Alkes for a quick refit. Can‘t stay long, though. In fact, I
hope the courier makes it to the ship quick or I might miss the package you sent. I‘m
sure I‘ll love it, whatever it is. I‘ll drop you a line after this run, OK?

Did you ever get that medbay upgrade for the ―Arm of God‖ that I recommended? I‘d
feel a lot better if that old tub of yours carried a better class of auto-med
components…and maybe that cybernetics module. Maybe you could also get Luken back
as medspec…he wasn‘t that bad.

I‘m good. Really. You two just stay safe also. And tell those two clowns you hired for
security to keep up the maintenance on their Wasps. Prayer is fine and all, but I think
God likes her people to do their part too.

Take care.

Love,
Donen



After sending his message, Donen began to feel his bone weariness again and decided to
just sack out in one of the medbay‘s exam beds, but in order not to miss the courier when
he arrived, he keyed up Goldie.

The voluptuous ship AI materialized in the medbay wearing a form-fitting, white nurses
uniform. The micro-mini pleated white skirt just barely covered the essentials, and the
white blouse with a plunging neckline didn‘t leave much to the imagination. When Donen‘s
eyes finally made it up to the perky old-fashioned nurses cap. Goldie seemed to have a
smirk on her face.

“I didn‟t think you wanted me here for an anatomy lesson, Doc.”

”Could have fooled me, Goldie, with that outfit,” said Donen. ”Anyway…” he began
again, suddenly uncomfortably aware of how long it had been since his last relationship,
duly noted by his unbidden physiological response to the teasing AI‘s manner of projection.
”I have a package that is being couriered over to the ship. It‟s from my mothers.
Just let me know when it arrives, please? I‟ll be sleeping here in the meanwhile.
Thanks.” And then he began to curl up to sleep.

”Sure thing, Doc. And if anyone comes into the medbay while you are napping,
I‟ll take care of things for you,” said Goldie suddenly donning a pair of surgical gloves
and mask.

”Whoa, whoa! Goldie, you have auto-med functions programmed in the main
computer?” said Donen, suddenly awake again.

”D‟uh, Doc. Of course. You think I‟m stupid or something?” she said, hands firmly
on her hips.

”No Goldie, I‟m just surprised I hadn‟t discovered that earlier.”

”Well, a girl is allowed to have a few secrets…even from her doctor, right hun?”
she said with a wink.

”OK, OK. But please don‟t use any of those routines until we‟ve reviewed them
together, Goldie. I‟m not all that happy with some of the off the shelf automed
products.”

”Off the shelf! Doc, I‟m gonna have to revoke your license for even thinking that
I‟m that kind of girl.”

”Sorry, Goldie. No offense intended. I should know better by now. Still, I‟d feel
much happier if we went over them together, alright? But hey, you might just run
through your routines for me and come up with a list of equipment you‟d
like…maybe Galen would listen more to you that to me.”

”Yeah, right , Doc. You been sampling your own prescriptions or something?”

”Just please do the list for me anyway, Goldie…and wake me when the package
comes.”

”No problem, Doc. Nighty-nite!” said the scantily clad AI, blowing a kiss in Donen‘s
direction. And despite himself, the Valertrez medspec felt himself blushing before he
drifted quickly off to sleep.




Posted by Salfiri on 15.04.2003 at10:24:



“Heh, that freaky AI is certainly going to like her new toys, eh?” Ragnar said over
his shoulder as he watched the technicians put in the finishing touches.

"One believes so, nadi Ragnar." Salfiri agreed, inclining her head ever so slightly. She
didn't pronounce the r at the end of his name, Atevi names and words often ending in a,
so it was always 'Ragna' when she referred to him. She couldn't pronounce 'Rewedyk'
either, having a hell of a time with some of the consonants. So it was either 'Videlius',
which she had no problems with, or else 'Reredi', which was her closest attempt, akin to
'Technician' and 'Tekiki'. 'Galen' and 'Donen' were easy, as was 'Nadia', but 'Nadia' was
actually a word in Ragi, which was why she persisted in referring to their client as
'Deveriis-daja', 'daja' meaning lady, and 'deveriis' being her best attempt at de Vries.
'Goldie' wasn't hard either, although it came out as 'Goldi'.

But Salfiri agreed with Ragnar that Goldie would most likely be very pleased with her
upgrades. Whether or not the crew was pleased with what she did with them was another
matter. Salfiri did not approve of the AI, but she could understand Galen's reasons for
wanting her, and Galen was the Captain. But it was an area that Atevi scientists didn't
dabble, the numbers had to add up. The problem with AI's was that they were greater
than the sum of their parts.

Once the equipment was cleaned and the installation was completed to Ragnar's
satisfaction, or at least gruding acceptance, Salfiri shooed the dockies away from the Heart
of Gold's immediate area, watching as they left to ensure that they would not return in a
hurry, then she bid Ragnar a good evening and headed back up inside the ship.

She retuend to her cabin, where Goldie tried to bar her progress, requesting access codes
what should have been above Salfiri's authorisation. The problem was that Salfiri had
programmed all the new ones in herself, and Atevi had an amazing ability for numbers.
She didn't argue with the AI, just gave her the codes she wanted and went inside, Goldie
grudgingly opening the door.

Salfiri doffed her jacket, gloves and boots, lay back on her extended bunk, clapsed hand in
bandaged hand behind her head and stared at the ceiling. Goldie, it would seem, was
going to hold the grudge for a very long time, but it was causing delays. There had to be
some way to adjust this situation, so it was no longer in a state of haroniin. She couldn't,
of course, remove the person causing the problem, more's the pity.

((ooc: I'm going to be on holiday from the 17th to the 26th of April, I'll post something
intelligent when I get back.))




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 16.04.2003 at19:56:

 Thank you Sarah, and have a good time! :D

The ex-gangster watched amusedly as Salfiri deterred the greasy dockhands (who were
more than a little unhappy at their treatment by the cocky know-it-all Valertrez with the
gun). The installation had gone smoothly, and they‘d probably be leaving shortly anyway,
but all the better that they wouldn‘t be lingering. Who knows which one of them would
decide to get revenge for their near-slave treatment and plant a little present on their
docking gear.

Nodding at Salfiri as she kept walking past him (he stopped at the control panel inside to
close the hatch they‘d come from), he said, more to himself, ―I‘m getting us out of here
soon as we can manage it..‖ He breathed a long sigh and turned toward the midsection of
the ship. Alright..that was fun. Now to get us the hell out of here as soon as Galen is
willing, which shouldn‟t be to long..but what was that about him being in the medbay?
Maybe as soon as he‟s able, we‟ll leave..bah, fuck.

―..Goldie?‖ Ragnar said, starting slowly for the nearby main corridor.

A few speakers silently activated around him. ―Good job out there, Ragsy. Mm..I love a
man who‘s forceful about it.‖

―One would think one could get used to something like this..‖ Ragnar mumbled to himself.
Then, raising his voice for the ship to hear him, he said, ―I wouldn‘t mind it if we got out of
here as soon as an able pilot would get us.‖

Goldie‘s saucy voice feigned hurt at this point, saying, ―Aww..you mean to say you can‘t
provide for me? I suppose I‘ll have to look to someone else for my needs then..‖

Ragnar frowned sarcastically as he leaned against the wall and held his burned and
bandaged left forearm. ―I‘m heartbroken, really. Could you just find someone to get us out
of here, if captain Winters can‘t do it? I‘ll feel a lot better when we‘re out of here.‖ He still
had a slight headache and a little vertigo from the gravity flux, but he didn‘t want to give
himself the time to adjust. He‘d feel a lot better cleared from this place.

After a short giggle, the fickle thing said, ―Yeah, you got it, hon.‖

Alone again (it bothered him to think of it/her as a presence), Ragnar was trying to decide
what to do next. He wasn‘t tired anymore; the nap, coupled with the slight adrenaline rush
of taking a man by the collar and holding half of his body over the catwalk railing (―Bastard
refused to do his work,‖ Ragnar grumbled to Sal when he came back and folded his arms,
returning to simply surveying the scene), had awakened him sufficiently. And, as he
remembered there was still an as-of-yet immeasurable amount of work to be done, it
made him feel even less like sleeping.

Not that there was too much to do. He knew they were still a couple days out of their
destination of Anuurn, and in that time he‘d be able to do just about every immediate
thing that needed doing. He‘d finished the maintenance bay‘s construction a couple days
ago, as well as arrange all the excess cargo that dealt with his area.

So finally, after a minute of leaning against the wall, he finally started for his quarters,
where he‘d get one of Donen‘s pills (the aching was starting to come back, and he would
have to do some work with his injured arm), then he‘d stop at the maintenance bay and
pick up a tool kit and a cache of wires and other small parts, cut a few duraglas panes to
size, and head toward the battered bridge.

Entering the battered bridge fifteen minutes later with a bit of fortified milk in his stomach,
he set his things down along one wall and looked around. The smell of the firefight that
had taken place perhaps a month before still lingered. Ragnar was familiar with the smell
of stale plasma discharge and the sight of bits of crunchy shell casings on the ground; he‘d
seen it several times before, though it had been years since he‘d last seen any sort of
action like that.

It had been in the dusty abandoned warehouse where they congregated where he‘d last
seen the plasma burns on the walls and smelled the plasma-charred flesh of people he‘d
been playing cards with minutes before. On Scorpion 5 is where his life had completely
changed twice.

Any fairly innocent nine year old (USC) like Ragnar Beshein (he‘d changed his last name
since then) who witnesses something as violent as a drive by shooting (he was so close to
it his face was spattered with blood) is traumatized, at least. In Ragnar‘s case, he and his
friends (who had witnessed it as well) were driven so fiercely against such acts that they
took matters into their own hands to prevent these things from happening, even in the
more violent of the Scorpion stations.

Snapping his conscious back to the present, he licked his lips and set to work on the
control consoles of the bridge. They looked like they needed quite a bit of work.

Racen…Maylor…Eladriel… Damn, what‟s it matter? Racen was the only one who seemed to
still have his wits about him after we got out anyway. Hrm..I should message him soon.
He was a good friend..

The communications panel was first to be fixed, because it was in the back corner and
wasn‘t badly damaged. After a replaced screen, and a few connection
checks/replacements, it was in perfect working order.

Ragnar decided to use it to find where his friend had been lately. He‘d checked up on the
Wrath of Darkness, the Aurora ship that five of the six surviving gang members had
eventually joined, and the results that had turned up were unexpected. The ship had been
destroyed, apparently. Which made Ragnar wonder about Maylor and Eladriel, not to
mention Mohrs and Eva. As for Racen…

After fixing the console, Ragnar checked his message account. Three pieces of junk mail
and one old message from Racen that had been sent a week or two ago. He read it over
for the tenth time.

To: RagArgoth@tenwich.dat

From:

Subject: Where you been man?

Hey, it‟s me, Racen. It‟s been awhile since you were arrested. Were you fined at
all?

You left at a good time, though..something wasn‟t right within the group. El and
Maylor seemed weird. I don‟t think they really wanted to go on anymore, in truth.
I‟m surprised Eva even came back at all. That, and we were attacked in space.
The ship was destroyed, the rest of the crew was fragged. I was picked up from
there…since then, I‟ve been around, meeting new people, the like. How about
you?

We should meet up one of these days.. I had my address removed so this couldn‟t
be traced, just in case (because we‟re fuckin‟ ex-cons, for one thing). If you want
to contact me, do it here.

Be seeing you,
Racen

Ragnar read over the message a couple times, then clicked the link. A window opened.
From there, he quickly typed out a message to his old friend.

To: ***************

From: RagArgoth@tenwich.dat

Hehe, I actually didn‟t get fined at all. Broke out of the bastards‟ place after they
tried interrogating me. I got a burn from it, but I got out alright. Joined a pretty
fair crew, we‟re in Alkes right now. Where are you?

It‟s a bummer the group disbanded yet again, permanently this time..Eladriel and
Maylor did seem odd though. Too bad we couldn‟t do it. Ah well..shit happens,
right? If only we could brush it off like that.

We should get together one of these days..it‟s been long enough. Now that
there‟s only two of us, especially…do you think we could still be in danger?

Farewell, brother..

Ragnar

After reading the note over, and silently pondering over Maylor and Eladriel again (he‘d
have prayed, but he lost all faith long ago), he sent the message to Racen and closed
everything.

There‟s still work to be done, after all… Ragnar bent down to one denim-covered knee and
gathered materials to fix the next console. His hands were trembling, he discovered, and
he had a very definite set of lines across his forehead and on either sides of his lips. Sure,
he knew he was cool under pressure. But what about when ghosts were haunting his
memories?

Biting his lip, he shook his head vigorously. He‘d have to do some heavy-G training later
on to relieve his stress. After the consoles, Ragnar, after the consoles. There‟s work that
needs to be done on the ship.

Breathing deep, he collected his thoughts, threw them in a deep, dark hole, and went back
to work.




Posted by Donen Krell on 17.04.2003 at06:56:



“Wakey, wakey, Doc,” said a sultry voice, seemingly in Donen‘s ear. The medspec was
awake instantly…Alkes Field trained you that way, no matter what you did in the asteroid
fields. It was a rough unpredictable life, and the presence of pirates enforced the need of
alertness as well. Doctoring in the Field carried its own unpredictability as well. Accidents
happened whenever they damned well felt like it, and the old saw about taking two
aspirins and come see me tomorrow wouldn‘t cut it…the only calls you ever got meant that
if you didn‘t arrive quick enough, there wasn‘t any point in bothering later.

”I‟m awake, Goldie. What is it?” said the Valertrez, alert, adrenaline pumping,
expecting some news about another injury among his current rough and ready crew which
had already, in the space of a few hours, royal pissed off a few of the local toughs…the
ones that were still alive, at any rate.

“Calm down, Doc. No emergency…just a courier at the main airlock. Care package
from home, hun?” said the ship‘s teasing AI, dressed in her sexy nurse outfit.
”Birthday present, Goldie. Say, you think you could tone down the outfit just a
bit?” said Donen, somewhat self-consciously.

“Too hot for you in here, Doc?” said Goldie with a pout. “Oh, alright…whatever the
doctor orders,” she added with a resigned sigh, and immediately donned a new look: a
prim, professorial, bespectacled young woman in a tightly buttoned and starched white lab
coat with her hair in a bun and holding a clipboard. “Better?” she asked, teasingly
sucking on the end of her pen.

”Better. Thanks, Goldie,” Donen replied, laughing despite himself. No matter how the AI
came packaged she was still programmed to be a tease. Galen‟s grandfather must have
been quite a character, he thought continuing to chuckle as he headed over to the com
panel.

”Donen Krell, here” he said toggling the speaker at the main airlock.

”Station courier with a package for you, Mr. Krell,” said a young raven-haired and
rather attractive woman in the uniform of an Alkes Field courier.

”I‟ll be right down.”

“Don‟t fall over your tongue on the way down, Doc,” smirked Goldie over the rims of
her spectacles. “By the way, Doc, I‟ve downloaded a list for interface-compatible
medical equipment. Galen‟s not gonna like it though, Doc. He likes to keep the
toys to himself.”

”Oh, right. Like you aren‟t at all spoiled. Most of those toys are ones you get to
play with too, Later Goldie,” he said darting out of the medbay and heading down to
the airlock, Goldie‘s comeback, whatever it was, was lost to Donen‘s ears.

Opening the hatch, Donen stepped out of the Heart of Gold handing his ID to the courier
for verification and transferred the necessary deccas. Donen toyed with the idea of flirting
with the pretty courier, then decided against it, knowing that they could easily have to bug
out on a few minutes notice, now that the refit was complete. Instead he smiled weakly,
accepted the package with a perfunctory thank you, and re-entered the HoG.

Back in his room, Donen opened the package and was thoroughly shocked to find a shiny
new micro-regen unit, with a simple handwritten note….

quote:

Happy Birthday, Son.
Do good and come home safe.
Love, Lisa and Sarah



Donen just couldn‘t imagine how they‘d managed to finagle a new unit, with the slim
margin they made in the mining business, let alone all the channels that they would have
to go through to procure a legal unit: his Moms would never go the black market route.
Despite himself, his cheeks were soon wet again. He felt childish being this emotional
about his parents, especially since he had gone to such lengths to get out from under their
pervasive influence in his life, but by the same token he was grateful that they were
seemingly allowing him to find his own life at last. He hoped he would end up doing
something of which he, and they, could be proud.




Posted by Galen Winters on 27.04.2003 at07:10:

 Yes, I'm still alive...

Galen‘s grey eyes fluttered open blearily, bloodshot orbs regarding the bulkhead of his
cabin groggily, the only item in his field of view at the moment. He normally slept on his
left side, but a rather nasty fracture of the clavicle was preventing one of the few familiar
comforts left to him, and so there he was, contemplating life, the universe and his relative
place within them. The bulkhead wall itself was vaguely annoying him for some reason he
couldn‘t quite place at the moment, his fatigued brain writing it off to the textured plastic
being too perfect. It was a uniformity borne of robotic manufacturing and synthetic
materials, and the fact that this part of the ship had barely seen use, even after Galen had
assumed command. Crashing either on a workbench, or in his cozy pilot‘s chair, Galen was
running on pure force of will these days, and even that was rapidly running out. A few
labored breaths, and the weary spacer rolled gingerly onto his back, the concentrated
infusion of drugs bubbling merrily away in his bloodstream, keeping him from feeling any
pain for the moment.

He could have turned his head further to look at the sinister red display of the
chronometer, but decided not to. Partially because he didn‘t want to push the effectiveness
of the meds, but mostly because he didn‘t need anything else to be depressed about.
Leaving the question of how little sleep he had gotten for another day, Galen rose slowly
from the temperfoam mattress, groaning in protest at his aching muscles, still felt despite
the medications he had taken a mere…

Fuck he thought, catching a glance of the clock, and doing the relatively easy math in his
head. Two hours? How the fuck do I keep moving? he wondered pessimistically. Sighing in
futility of ever figuring that little mystery out, Galen sat at the foot of the bed, pondering
the pile of clothing on the floor, bitching at himself for being so careless, but not having
the energy to fix it anyway. Standing un unsteady feet, he shuffled to the closet, and
removed a clean flight suit, the hanger swinging wildly as he plucked the garment from it.
Sitting back down on the bed, the grey-eyed captain went through the torturous process of
getting dressed with only one arm. Several minutes later, the bottom half of the flight suit
was relatively secure, the arms and torso dangling precariously close to the floor before he
stuffed them into the thin belt, an unruly frill of black nylon rimming his abdomen.

The door to Galen‘s cabin hissed open, and spat him into the narrow corridors of the
uppermost deck of the Heart of Gold, a left turn pointing him in the direction of the bridge.
The syntherubber floor tiles were thankfully engineered to absorb shock as well as be
tough and easy to clean, even the shaky footsteps of Captain Winters not bringing him
pain just yet. With a hydraulic hum, the door to the main bridge slid open, and Galen half
stumbled up to his station, sliding gingerly into the seat and calling up diagnostics.

‖What‗s the matter honey, don‗t trust me alone with Ragsie?‖ Goldie chirped up from
behind him.

―Goldie, I wouldn‘t trust you farther than I could throw this station. Is everything
mounted? I want to get the hell out of here as soon as possible.‖

‖Why don‗t you ask my sweetie? He‗s right over there.‖ she piped back, all sweetness.

Craning his neck over a bit, he indeed saw the rather unflattering view of Ragnar‘s ass,
poking from behind a console he was working in on his knees. ―Well, how are we looking,
Ragsie?‖ he asked, Goldie‘s syrupy sweet voice in his falsetto, the darker side of his sense
of humor showing through.




Posted by Salfiri on 28.04.2003 at14:25:



The room was dimmed was not entirely dark, the twilight-like gloom a comfort to someone
who, unlike most of the crew, had not been born in space. Twilight had always been her
favourite time, when everything seemed to blend into the grey light. Everything, except
your target. Salfiri's golden eyes moved, and to an observer, had there been one, flashed
momentarily in the dim light, reflecting back what light there was, like a cat's. All Atevi
eyes did that, and she'd found it quite disturbing to discover that the eyes of other races
didn't necessarily. They could hide completely in the grey light.

She was thinking, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say, calculating. Specificially
she was writing programming in her head, which given the Atevi instinct for mathematics
wasn't hard to do. It wasn't a hugely complicated piece of programming - computer
language was hardly her specialty - but it incorporated some pieces of Atevi mathematics
that Salfiri was certain would prove more efficient that certain pieces of programming
currently in place, said programming incorporating Human mathematics, and some fairly
eccentric maths at that.

It didn't take her long to finish debugging it as best she could, the telling moment would
be when she gave it to Goldie to look at. She blinked, sighed thoughtfully, then rose from
her bunk and tapped the panel for the lights. She checked her uniform, straightened her
shirt and pulled her jacket on over it, zipping the leather garment up to her chin, then
pulling on her boots and her gloves, the right one carefully so as not to dislodge the
dressing over her burn. It was hurting, but it was healing, and she ignored it. The black
leather glove would protect it, and allow her to continue her work.

The ship's mercurial AI must have had her attention elsewhere, because the tall Ateva
gained access to the corridoor without any trouble, and headed straight for the bridge, the
heels of her boots making disturbingly little sound on the deck plating for someone of her
size. Even the leather of her jacket made no noise, though the ritalanium studs caught the
artificial lighting, as did the caps on her boots.

There was the faint hiss of hydrolics as the door to the bridge slid open, and that alien
golden gaze flicked from one occupant to the other, before Salfiri executed an Atevi-style
bow. "Nand' Captain, nadi Ragnar." She acknowledged solomnly, even though she was
greeting a rather dishevelled Galen, and Ragnar's arse.

Seeing that nothing appeared to be amiss, Salfiri moved quietly past them to chose an
auxillary station, perching on the edge of the seat that couldn't possibly fit into, and keyed
it into opperancy.

"Hey, Ragsie's doing the upgrades. Who let you out?" Goldie turned on the tall
Ateva, not at all pleased to see her, remembering the rather rough treatment last time
Salfiri had accessed the computer systems.

"One has devised some programming that perhaps you would care to look at,
Goldie-daja." Salfiri said, all cool composure and courtesy. "One believes that you
may find it more efficient than the coding which was supplied with the recent
hardware."

Goldie look dubious, momentarily distracted from flirting with the boys. "I'll look at it,
but you're not installing anything." she warned. Salfiri seemed to have no problems
with this, and started typing, feeding in the code she'd devised entirely from memory. This
would take a while.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 29.04.2003 at21:41:



Ragnar continued his work on the bridge for another hour, retooling the consoles and
checking the cabling and wiring behind the holy (literally) wall panels. There were a lot of
frayed wires, loose connections, and broken circuits to fix, too.

Occasionally, he‘d think about Racen, and them as high schoolers, and all of the stupid
things they used to do, or how much fun they had. He‘d think about all of the times they
almost got caught, or all those late nights they‘d stay up and have drunken shooting
contests.

While he was lost in thought, Galen managed to enter unnoticed. ―Well, how are we
looking, Ragsie?‖ came a definitely masculine voice from behind him, with a womanish
tone.

It quite literally scared Ragnar senseless to hear something like that. He‘d been in prison
for a few long years, and not one of the safest ones either. The Scorpion prison was as bad
as the stations themselves, which was saying something. Upon his arrival, he‘d been met
by one of the larger killer queens. The second day, he ended up shoving seven of the big
guy‘s teeth down his throat and fracturing a few random things when he made a move on
him. He made practically the same voice, and it frightened the hell out of him.

So it was little surprise that Ragnar, ducked under the console on his knees, bashed his
head into the very thing he was working on in an instinctual move. When he realized a
moment later, before he‘d regained full consciousness, that it was only Galen (though one
couldn‘t be too cautious), he sat back down and slowly turned around, holding his head.
With his eyes half-shut in surprise and pain, he muttered, ―Heh..good one, cap. Scared me
shitless for a sec. What‘d you ask now…?‖

―Nand‟ captain, nadi Ragnar.‖ Voiced the Atevi, nonchalantly making her presence known
to both of them.

After another moment, he answered his own question, standing up and shaking off the
bump. ―Hey Salfiri..umm, got all but two of the consoles done, the one I‘m almost done
with now and the pilot‘s, which I was saving for last. Anything else I need to be doing?‖

Ragnar couldn‘t help but see Galen‘s condition. ―I‘ve had a pretty uneventful day..took
care of the new additions to the ship, fixed some stuff.‖ Suggestively nodding toward
Galen‘s shoulder, he added, ―How about you..?‖ Ragnar also wondered about his request
for a Caster, but didn't press the issue.




Posted by Galen Winters on 30.04.2003 at15:53:



Galen chuckled darkly as he heard the thunk of Ragnar's head hitting the console, his
mean side prodded into rare form by the events of the past month or so. He also
immediately regretted it, as it jarred the jagged edges of his broken collarbone together in
ways suited to nothing but even the most lurid of masochists. Biting back a curse with a
hissed intake of breath, the grey-eyed spacer turned a little further to regard Salfiri's
placid expression as she reported in, wishing he could shove all of his worries into a deep,
dark hole like she seemed to all the time. He knew it was cultural, but he envied her
nonetheless.

"I was asking about the weapons I had delivered. Are we good to go? Or at least good
enough that you can finish things up in transit? I'm not exactly happy with sitting here on
the docks with my ass hanging out in the breeze. In case you hadn‘t noticed, The Hole can
be rough going at times. Besides, we‘ve got a date at Anuurn I intend to keep.‖ Galen
paused a moment, cautioning himself against revealing too much. It would be too much to
ask them to stay on a ship with him, given his rather fractured mental state. Well, when
piled on top of the barely-armed ship, barely-functional pilot, dangerously eccentric
artificial intelligence, still-acquainting crew, and rather interesting and hazardous mission
they were on.

All in all, the crew had taken things quite well so far.

Still, he felt that he had forgotten something in the mad shuffle that was his life, and that
little tickle at the edge of his already frayed mind wasn‘t helping matters. ―Off the subject,
I did manage to pick up what you asked me for, Rags. Needs a little TLC, but I‘m sure you
can handle that. Stop by my quarters later, when we‘re both not busy,‖ he said, stopping
as he realized the chances of that occurring sometime before the heat death of the
universe were slim at best. ―All right, stop by next chance you get.‖
―Nadi, I assume things went smoothly?‖ he asked, before letting her go back to her work.
He was going to tell her how much he appreciated her work, but stopped himself for some
reason. Excess praise didn‘t seem right, to him anyway, and he pondered this decision a
moment, deciding to talk to her in private at some later date. At least I know Kendra was
on the up and up with us, well as much as she possibly could be. Though it‟s not like her to
try and put a bomb on board someone‟s ship. he thought, before feeling that old gnawing
sensation at the edge of him consciousness.

Bomb, he mused, rolling the simple word over his thoughts, swirling it about like a taste of
some fine wine, discerning the subtle flavors within. Bomb?

―Oh, fuck.‖

Galen‘s functional hand quickly punched in the comm feed to the docking bay, fearing the
worst. ―Rewedyk, report!‖ he barked as harshly as he dared, given what the somber
Osiran was working on, had been working on, when last they had chatted. Galen could feel
a singularity point form in his stomach, sucking inward as he got nothing but silence from
the other end of the line. ―Rewedyk? Answer me!‖ he shouted, hoping against hope that he
was merely busy, or hadn‘t heard him. ―Shit. I‘ll be in the shuttle bay,‖ he said, rising as
quickly as he could from his seat, pain be damned, and heading aft.

Footsteps echoed softly against the wall plating as Galen jogged down the spine of the
Heart of Gold, pushing the door controls for the reactor room open, and slipping through
sideways as soon as there was enough room between the massive containment doors.
Skirting the Phoenix Corp. reactor vessel on the perforated aluminum catwalk, he again
had to wait for the slow reactor containment doors to admit him aft, the narrow passage
spitting him out on the observation deck above the shuttle bay. Darting over to the port
side ladderwell, he half-slid, half-fell down to the main deck below, grunting in pain as he
touched down, his vision hazing over in white-hot agony.

Regaining his composure, Galen cast his gaze about the spacious ‗bay, looking on, over
and under the sleek black dropship he‘d managed to acquire during their brief stay on
Stargazer Station. Not seeing anything out of the ordinary, he approached the open door
of the heavily modified Icarus, stopping at the open hatch, his nose wrinkling at the acrid
odor. ―What the fuck?‖ he asked softly of no one in particular, before sorting it out with an
alarming realization. The air outside the Icarus was run through the ship‘s environmental
systems, but this close to the interior, the metallic tang of ozone still lingered, overlaid by
the sweetly sickening scent of seared flesh.

Memories flooded into him then, smelling much like that day, so long ago, a puddle of pink
and blue on the TPT floor, all that was left of his father. Getting his mouth to work took
several tries, but eventually, he managed, barking at the nearest comm panel, hoping to
God that the ship‘s AI was monitoring it.

―Goldie, I need Doc down here in the shuttle bay right now!‖ he shouted, already dreading
that Donen‘s aid would be far too late, his feet barely wanting to move as he stepped into
the Icarus, looking for what he really did not want to find.




Posted by Donen Krell on 02.05.2003 at01:35:



Donen had fallen fast asleep, fully dressed, in his cabin and he was slow to awaken when
the alert went off on his com unit.

"Come on, Doc, wake up! Galen wants you STAT in the shuttle bay," said an urgent
feminine voice that could only belong to the HoG's eccentric AI.

"OK, alright. I'm awake, Goldie. What's up, anyway?" said Donen yawning widely,
his mouth feeling all starchy and sticky from minor dehydration and his eyes still droopy
from sleep deficiency.
"Get a move on, Doc. I'm not sure what's up, but Rewedyk was working on
defusing a bomb down there and I'm not showing any traffic from him in the logs
for quite some time. You need to get down there quick, Doc," said Goldie, with an
edge of what might have been concern. It wasn't something the medspec had heard from
the teasing AI in the past, and that alone prompted Donen to splash water on his face,
grab the emergency kit he always kept in his room, and rush out the door thumbing his
com unit.

"Captain Winters? This is Donen...I'm heading down to the shuttle bay now," he
said as he made his way to the aft portside ladderwell.

Emerging from the ladderwell and into the open shuttle bay, Donen was instantly aware of
the scent of ozone and burnt flesh in the air. The medspec caught sight of Galen standing,
apparently in a daze, just outside the open hatch of the dropship he had stolen on
Stargazer Station. Donen didn't have a good feeling about this, but he quickly headed over
to the dropship.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 03.05.2003 at02:11:



―Yeah,‖ the techie said to Galen. ―I don‘t like sitting here either..and we‘re completely
done with the weapons, I even got Goldie to link up the weapons and update the grid,
which will suffice unless one of us feels like customizing it. I wanted to come get you to
pilot us out of here, but I figured I‘d let you sleep, considering I heard you were in the
medbay…‖ he ended somewhat cautiously, knowing that his arm injury had something to
do with that trip.

―..I did manage to pick up what you asked me for, Rags. Needs a little TLC, but I‘m sure
you can handle that.‖ Galen handed Ragnar the scoffed red Caster by the barrel.

Ragnar took it by the grip and felt the weight of it in his hand. It had been years since he‘d
held one, and with the custom modifications he‘d no doubt be starting tonight or the next,
he‘d love it even more. ―Thanks man..doesn‘t look like you bought this one though, heh..‖

―Stop by my quarters later, when we‘re both not busy…‖ Galen said, pausing a moment
before continuing. ―…All right, stop by next chance you get.‖

‖You got it..‖ Ragnar said offhandedly after a few seconds. Of course, by now Galen was
talking to Salfiri; he was just admiring the heft of the large pistol. He had just started
paying attention to the beginnings of their conversation when Galen suddenly remembered
what Ragnar had actually forgot and messaged the shuttle bay.

Oh shit…oh shit! It‟s been hours since I left Rewedyk with the bomb..what the hell could
have happened for him to have been on it this long? Damn..well, if we haven‟t gone up
after this long, I don‟t think we‟re going to, in any case…

Though Ragnar probably should have been alarmed and nervous about it, he actually
wasn‘t. Maybe it was that he was just a little messed up, or maybe it was that he thought
he couldn‘t die just yet. Either way, I‟ve got work to do…not like there‟s anything I can do
down there anyway… Of course, he had no idea of what had happened to Rewedyk,
otherwise he might have wanted to go down and see him.

Instead, he neatly set the Caster down next to his tools and prepared to finish the last
console (since the pilot‘s chair hadn‘t been damaged during the firefight that lingered
faintly in the air), working in silence.
Posted by Salfiri on 03.05.2003 at04:19:



“Nadi, I assume things went smoothly?” Galen asked, before letting her go back to
her work.

"Yes, nand' Captain." Salfiri affirmed. As smoothly as could be expected anyway, but
Galen would know that, or he wouldn't have asked her to assist. They'd cleaned the
equipment and accompanying programs of anything nasty, they'd bullied the technicians
until it got installed properly, and now everything was exactly how they wanted it.

They only thing that was letting the system down somewhat was the fact that Goldie, who
was running most of it, had programming that was designed for another ship, that much
was plainly obvious. An older, smaller ship. She was coping fine, but Salfiri was certain
that is that particular section of programming were replaced with something that was both
more up to date and designed to suit the Heart of Gold, rather than whatever ship Goldie
had originally been designed for. That was what she was currently inputting, with a
combination of typing the code, and transferring chunks she'd written earlier from an e-
notepad. Goldie had stopped grumbling at her and was going through the code with a fine-
toothed comb piece by piece as Salfiri gave it too her.

“Oh, fuck.” Galen‘s functional hand quickly punched in the comm feed to the docking bay,
fearing the worst. “Rewedyk, report!” he barked as harshly as he dared. “Rewedyk?
Answer me!” he shouted. “Shit. I‟ll be in the shuttle bay,” he said, rising as quickly as
he could from his seat, pain be damned, and heading aft.

Salfiri had turned to look at Galen when he called up the ship's navigator, and was out of
her seat and after him as bolted from the bridge. Her duties also including bodyguarding,
as far as she was concerned, and it sounded like there could be a serious problem.

She followed the Captain as he jogged down the corridoors, herself using a brisk walk, and
dropped after him down onto the main deck, and reached out a hand to steady Galen as
he grimaced in pain, though only long enough for the main to regain his balance, she had
no wish to embarrass him.

But they had more to worry about. As they approached the drop-ship. The smell of
something burnt reached them both at the same time, along with the acrid smell of ozone.
Something had gone horribly wrong.

“Goldie, I need Doc down here in the shuttle bay right now!” Galen shouted,
already dreading that Donen‘s aid would be far too late, his feet barely wanting to move as
he stepped into the Icarus, looking for what he really did not want to find.

She held out one hand in a warding gesture to Galen, "Nand' Captain," meaning that he
should keep back, and Salfiri drew one of her tiny ritalanium daggers and tossed it gently,
hilt-first, into the doorway of the drop-ship, looking for any motion-sensing traps. Nothing
happened, and she followed the dagger into the ship, all eyes and ears, watching for a hint
of what had gone wrong. After all, security work included traps and bombs, both the
setting of and the dissarming of. And she needed to get Rewedyk out of there, if it was
safe to move him. Elsewise it needed to be safe for Donen to treat him in here.




Posted by The Serpent on 03.05.2003 at15:30:



So there he had been, picking away busily at the annoyance of a bomb when a specific
wire shorted out on him. It did little harm to him, save for the fact that he felt a tinge in
his fingers, but it did upset him quite a bit anyhow. Now he had to spend around a quarter
of an hour to get the damnable thing fixed again so he could carry on killing the silent
plague that dared to threaten the lot of them on the Heart of Gold. Sometimes he couldn‘t
help but hate his job more than one could ever expect. It wasn‘t so much the fear of dying
or blowing up along with captain Winters‘ new toy, but the knowing that if this did spiral
out of control, it would be no one‘s fault but his and that could never be good. So Rewedyk
sighed, threw a few sticky locks of hair from his face and continued poking away at his
new-found irritator, sitting on top of the dropship as if he owned the sleek creature.

Actually, it was quite a miracle hours and hours later when he found himself grinning
stupidly at the beeping hole in the hull of the vessel that he was still intact, he reckoned.
An assembly of tools, pieces of some strange green wire and various other such trinkets
laid scattered all over the top of the ship as well as the floor far below, as the Valertrez
had resorted to either throwing simply pushing down some of the more invaluable tools in
fit of discouragement from time to time when he simply felt like it would be best to let the
contraption that he was ment to fix go skyward and relieve him of the pain of having to
attempt to rid it of the electronical diseases. If one would stop and think about it, it would
become rather obvious that there really was no bomb on the ship, but the whole blasted
thing was waiting to go off at any second. The ship had been modelled to function
according to different modes, one of them installed to take place when it was unlawfully
hijacked for the lack of a better term. It was capable of being started from kilometres
away and the owner would have nothing more to do than watch giddily as the punks that
made away with his ship ended up as crisp, sooty piles of bones. What Rewedyk had been
doing the whole while was trying to stall the procedure that flowed through the artificial
veins of the mass of metal so he could get to removing the few lines of code that made the
vessel tick the wrong way. Even though the majority of the system was closed down for
the time being, there was a high risk of one of the still active parts to start the sequence
prematurely and thus set off a chain reaction, which could consult in just the destruction
Videlius was attempting to remove.

After slaving over the complicated problem for what seemed like a millennium, the young
man finally reached a point where he could solemnly vouch that he had done all that he
could do. As far as he knew, the threat was more or less over as he had removed all of the
misplaced particles, rewritten half the bloody system and done so without messing up the
pretty beast all that much. That only took me forever… He thought dryly, stretching his
neck tiredly and listening to the ominous cracks that his body gave after being released
from the crouching stance it had been forced into hours ago. With the back of his hand and
sleeve, he mopped up the pool that had formed on his forehead and with a sign of disgust
shook his hand the moment later, thoroughly grossed out with how he was feeling. But
hey, he had done it, hadn‘t he? Raked the dropship of the virus, if he dared call it that,
kept the crew alive through it and did not kick the bucket while doing so as well. All things
considered, he should have been pretty proud of himself but all he could think of was his
uncomfortable bed and the pleasure he would get of landing on it. The crimson eyes that
had long ago become blood-shot as well, showing just how nerve-wrecking the job was. He
studied over the bay grimly, the soothing grey doing nothing to boost his spirits or
retrieving his dull persona from the depths of misery. Sleep and work, that seemed to be
the only thing he had been doing for the last 20 years of his life, as depressing as it was
and all.

Though being glum and moody was yummy and all, he had no time for it at the moment
and instead started patching the various holes he had made in the hull with attaching the
covers back upon the power routers and covering up the weakened spots. He‘d have to
remember to ask Ragnar to look them over later and fasten them better as he did not wish
for the dropship to spontaneously fall in pieces when on a mission or anything, but that
could wait as well, he guessed. As soon as the taunting task of finding out which piece of
metal belonged to which hole and they had all been secured tightly and the Valertrez had
gathered the tools he had around the top of the ship, he slid down with the aid of the hull
and grinned contentedly when his feet touched solid ground once again. The thought of
heading out of the bay at once and finishing this up later after a refreshing nap dawned on
him for a moment but he dismissed it just as quick as he did not want to see the ship for a
good while now and having to return to it later on would simply be a pain in his side. With
a sigh of unhappiness he bent down and collected the remainder of tools from the ground,
even though the smell of something burnt hit his nose as soon as he had done so. Wait a
minute, burnt? The hell? The man thought to himself, raising slowly up again, a frown
resting over his expression. A bit puzzled and questioning, the man slowly crept into the
Icarus, the bulky thing compensating for a second home already. The look of apprehension
still glinting away on his face, he decided to follow his nose and thus scrambled over the
floor towards one of the walls, where the secondary oxygen unit was stationed behind a
heavy combination of wires running into it, connecting it to the rest of the ship. It was
designed to shut itself from the rest of the programs that kept the occupants of the Icarus
alive when in times of emergency, and give a mild dosage of oxygen into the ship when
the primary life support fuzzed out. One could understand that Rewedyk was somewhat
surprised when he felt the scent of melting wires and such coming from the small station.
He placed the parcel of tools down before daring to close in on the makeshift cabinet and
open it, as it was one of the few in the ship that was designed for quick and easy
maintenance thus it was not behind lock and key as the others seemed to be. As soon as
the lid had slid to the side a bit, the sight of a slowly bubbling stew of wires greeted the
hacker, an array of golden sparks constantly sprinkling out. Apparently, even though
Ragnar had shut the life support down, the secondary unit had sprung to life later on, as it
was designed to. Seeing as none of them knew that the ship functioned in quite that way,
it couldn‘t have been held against neither Rewedyk nor Ragnar as they truly had no idea.

Immediately after the door had been open, the wrist DB that the lanky one carried along
with him started screaming off an alarm, a flashy message of Highly Dangerous,
experiencing malfunction in sector SO5 appeared, doing nothing more than amusing the
hell out of Rewedyk. ―Now you tell me.‖ He scoffed, shutting the annoying alarm. At that
point, the sparks grew larger and larger and the hiss of the melting system grew. The
Valertrez could only frown once more and look back at the cabinet, before the enraged
roar of the dying thing engulfed him and particles started flying out from the wall before
he could do anything to prevent it. The cabinet was soon in shambles and the Valertrez?
Well, he too. The sharp pieces had been spit from the system with astronomical speeds, all
raining over the contents of the dropship and a good portion of them slammed into the
frail form of the hacker. In fact, his throat had been punctured and his lungs pierced even
before he hit the ground, the small-scale explosion clearly visible all out his torso and face.
His face and neck were scarred in many places, more than a few scratches adorning his
pale self. His clothes were a bit torn and scorched, the true mayhem unknown as it was
hidden by the textures. He had taken the biggest hits in the chest, the modicums
slamming through his form, only to be stopped in the lungs or stomach.

***

The unit shimmed with a low seethe, the hushed lights shining nearly unnoticeably in the
ship and the ground was sprinkled with miniature grains, arranged around the fallen body
of a Valertrez. The cracked and broken glasses lay farther from him, as if fleeing from their
broken master. Rewedyk looked beyond awful, his crimson eyes wide open and his
expression illustrating a perfect sense of shock. There was little more to say, save for the
fact that no medic had anything to do anymore. It was long ago decided and happened,
the force of the blast being strong enough to ignore any other will as it made its own rules.
The secondary life support unit was placed far from any other systems to prevent it getting
harmed as it might prove to be the single thing keeping everyone animate at one point.
Well, it didn‘t this time. Thanks to it being so secluded, the other hidden systems were left
mostly untouched and all in working order, though the cover plating of a few probably
needed renewing. The explosion was caused by a minor glitch in the program, as it had
come online along with the others left while Rewedyk was working, it got changed the
same way. Because the system was of a different nature and made to work independently
from the others, it did not cope with the new script quite as well as expected and due to a
minor malfunction…
Just another stupid way of dying, really.




Posted by Galen Winters on 08.05.2003 at04:03:



Galen was quick to follow the large ateva into the ship, taking on the mission personally,
delegation of authority still a concept unfamiliar to him. Unfortunately, the sight which
greeted him was quite the opposite.
"Fuck. Just . . . fuck," he breathed, voice barely above a whisper. The pool of blood
surrounding Rewdyk's body was already beginning to congeal at the edges, and was much
too large to even contemplate the young navigator surviving his injuries. Letting Salfiri
tend to her responsibilities, Galen shuffled out of the ebon-skinned dropship with nowhere
near the alacrity had displayed in entering it. He stood aside a moment, leaning back
against the slippery hull of the shuttle, feeling his back slide slowly down the gentle slope
of its curves.

Galen said not a word to Donen, his posture more than enough communication to the
medic as to the situation inside. Eyelids slid mercifully closed, the grey-eyed captain lost in
his thoughts for now.

How many, Galen? How many? he asked himself, mocking his own ability to run his life, let
alone Captain a starship. Dimara, Koku, ker Memoria, now this. Galen was walloing in self-
pity so deeply that he barely even registered those names as being completely foreign to
his life.

Rising from his low crouch with a resigned sigh, he looked to Donen with tired eyes. ―There
should be room in the freezer, until we can get him to Anuurn. Umm, strike that, Osiris.‖
he said, correcting himself quickly. Rewedyk had been from Osiris, right? ―Let me know
what you find, doc. I‗ll be in my ready room.‖

With that, he shuffled slowly back to the bow of the ship, clambering slowly up the number
one ladderwell and pacing slowly to the spacious briefing room adjoining his cabin. Sliding
irritably into the temperfoam chair, he began to peck his way through a search routine,
finding that the scarlet-eyed hacker had covered his tracks well, if not perfectly. Getting
the information he wanted after nearly an hour of searching, he began to slowly tap out a
short communique with his one good hand, grumbling softly at the numerous errors he
had to correct.
quote:

To:J.Videlius@Halford.subnet.OSR.DSR.net
From:G.Winters@JV-9833529.mobile.DSR.net
Subject:Rewedyk

Mister Videlius,

You may not know me, I don‘t know how much your son communicated with you, but I
am the Captain of the IV Heart of Gold, upon which Rewedyk was serving as navigator
and computer tech. He has been with us for nearly a month now, and has performed his
duties admirably and without question.

I regret to inform you that your son has lost his life in service to his ship and his
crewmates. His actions prior to his death spoke well of his dedication and perseverance,
and I can say that I was proud to serve with him. His sacrifice saved his ship, the lives of
his crewmates, and that of several thousand civilians and dockside personnel. Though I
know it is little comfort, please remember that his loss was not in vain, and that his
crewmates and I will remember him fondly in the years to come.

We will be storing his remains on board until we can make port at Osiris, unless you wish
to make other arrangements for burial. My business comm address is attached to this
message, should you wish to speak to me personally.

Again, the thoughts of the entire crew go out to you and your family in this time of
sadness.

Sincerely,

Galen Winters



Galen pushed the cursor over and pressed the send button, before slumping visibly in his
chair.
How many, Galen? he asked himself silently.

‖You okay, hon?‖ Goldie asked, her voice soft and full of concern.

His only reply for a moment was a soft sigh, Galen‘s gaze flitting up to find her staring
back at him from the screen. ―I sometimes wonder, Goldie,‖ he said softly, shoulders
slumped in his chair. ―Goldie, go ahead and start the prelaunch procedures, we‘re getting
the fuck out of here.‖

‖You got it, boss!‖ she chirped, glad to be of use again, the long hours of dock time not her
favorite in the least.

Galen felt rather than heard the gentle hum of the reactor powering up, a soft thrum he
could sense through the deck plating. Folding the video screen back into his desk, Captain
Winters stood, shuffling forward to the bridge to perform his end of the prelaunch checks.




Posted by Donen Krell on 08.05.2003 at18:59:



As Donen passed the slumping form of Captain Winters, he prepared himself to see the
worst. Standing in the open hatchway of the dropship, the medspec first saw the hulking
shape of Salfiri crouching within, reconnoitering, ever the efficient security officer.
Belatedly Donen noted the shattered form of the red-eyed hacker slumped on the decking
in a congealing mass of blood, the sickeningly sweet scent of blood and burnt flesh and
clothing wrenched at his guts, but years of experience enabled the Valertrez medspec to
avoid losing his lunch over it.

”Shiiit!” said the medic to himself, seeing instantly that there was nothing at all he could
do for the morose young hacker. Is there no place for me to go to escape senseless
violence and death? he asked himself.

“There should be room in the freezer, until we can get him to Anuurn. Umm,
strike that, Osiris,” said Galen quietly to Donen, his eyes looking tired and somehow far
away in thought. “Let me know what you find, doc. I„ll be in my ready room.”

He was fucking blown to pieces by this goddamned time bomb you fucking hijacked at
Stargazer, Galen, said Donen‘s voice, fortunately only inside his head. And then the more
rational side of Donen kicked in, realizing how hard the Valertrez captain seemed to be
taking this, and silently hoped the captain was too preoccupied with his grief to pick up
Donen‘s thoughts. Instead, he just managed to say before Galen got up to leave,
”Yeah…sure, Galen. I‟ll let you know.” And then the medic watched the captain shuffle
slowly off.

Donen turned to the Atevi still searching the small vessel. ”Salfiri? I‟m going to go get
a bodybag for Rewedyk, here. When I return, could you help me get him into cold
storage?” Without waiting for a response, the Valertrez quickly made his way back to the
medbay, picked up what he needed and returned to the dropship. ”I‟m ready when you
are, Salfiri,” he said softly, just feeling numb all over.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 09.05.2003 at00:51:



Ten quick minutes later, Ragnar stood up stiff-legged from the last console. It had been a
fairly simple job. Just a replaced duraglas panel and a few wiring checks, a broken button,
and an easily fixed plasma burn in the plastic casing.
After getting together the tools and piling the cases and junk near the door, the techie
stretched. (He liked to be thought of as more like an old-fashioned grease monkey, going
on what he‘s learned and what he can figure out rather than a formally-trained
‗maintenance technician.‘ Of course, that wasn‘t the case; he had obtained a couple
degrees in his stay on the Scorpions.)

He hadn‘t heard anything from anyone else at this point, so he simply tucked his new
(meaning, newly acquired; the thing looked like was a decade old) Caster into the waist of
his jeans and sat down in a temperfoam chair. He figured Galen would get along on getting
out of The Hole as soon as he possibly could, so he would be back shortly. Until then…

The ex-gangster calmly removed his PDA from its stretch-formed alcove in the front left
pocket of his jeans. He checked all of his personal mailing accounts, conveniently directed
into one (fortunate for him he‘d set up forwarding checkpoints in all of the other ones
except his main one), and found (already? I checked it less than an hour ago..) another
message. This one, however, was a pleasant surprise, being from his one friend Racen
Hathro.

Wait… Ragnar thought idly to himself. What about the crew? He hadn‘t really thought
about it before. He had a strong sense of loyalty for his friends, and was adamant about
the separation between real friends and ‗necessity relationships.‘ Of course, all his on the
Heart of Gold had originally been necessary ones. The question he asked himself was, Are
they still only necessary?

Before he could check the message, and lost in his altogether stupid thought (later, when
he thought about how much he‘d worked these things over in his mind, he felt like an
idiot), he didn‘t hear when Galen trudged into the ready room near the bridge. He heard it,
however, when, a few minutes later, he made his way into the bridge itself. ―Captain,‖ he
said with a little concern, ―what‘s been going on?‖ A little edgy with the captain‘s facial
expression, he slipped the PDA back in its position in his pocket. Then he noticed the ship
was getting ready to take off, and swiveled in the chair to check the engine room stats.




Posted by Salfiri on 09.05.2003 at05:24:



It was a mess, there was no doubt about that. Once inside it was easy to see that the
dissaster had not been caused by a trap, but by some fault in one of the little ship's
systems, which had caused the emergency environmental systems to blow. And Rewedyk
had been right in the line of fire.

Salfiri had quickly checked the inside of the ship, and whatever it's status as a bomb
embodied, it currently posed no further threat to those inside the cockpit, she was certain.
Unfortunately, in Rewedyk's case, it hadn't even required a set trap, and she listened
carefully for any change in the noises the ship's systems made, that might warn of further
danger.

It was common knowledge that most races were built along the same kind of blueprint, the
design that was most efficient being the one that usually manifested. Convergent evolution
was the technical term. She laid two long, dark fingers alongside Rewedyk's throat, feeling
for a pulse. She didn't know what a human pulse would feel like, but there must be some
discernable movement if it was present. But truth be told she didn't expect there to be
any. His chest had been ripped into by shrapnel, and surely the blood that was on the floor
must be almost all that that small body contained.

Red blood, it always surprised her. They were so small and most of them pale, and the
way they thought was completely alien to her, but they bled as red as any man.

It seemed like she'd been crouched there for ages, but in truth it had only taken her a few
moments to check the cockpit and turn her attention to Rewedyk, and Galen climbed in
beside her in the cramped space, made more so by the Ateva woman's bulk. "Nand'
Captain. She acknowledged quietly, as politeness dictated.

"Fuck. Just . . . fuck," Galen breathed. Salfiri was aware that it was a swear expression
in the Human's language, and ignored the translation her Babelfish gave her. She was
thinking much the same thing. Glancing at the Captain, the expression on his face one of
pain, striking in the strength of it, to someone accustomed to keeping their thoughts from
their face save amongst close associates.

The Captain didn't stay long, and Salfiri stayed in the dropship, examining more closely the
interior for anything she might have missed that would evidence danger, or perhaps give
some hint as to exactly what had happened.

A few moments later Salfiri could hear the Captain talking quietly with the Doctor outside,
and not long after Donen clambered inside and surveyed the carnage. ”Shiiit!” said the
medic to himself, expressing the same kind of shock the Captain had.

"Nand' Doctor." Salfiri said quietly, turning from her search of the interior and opting for
the more formal mode of address, given the grave circumstances.

Donen turned to the Ateva. ”Salfiri? I‟m going to go get a bodybag for Rewedyk,
here. When I return, could you help me get him into cold storage?”

"Yes, nandi, one will assist." She confirmed, and returned her attention to her earlier
search, including flicking through the read-outs on Rewedyk's instruments to see what
he'd been doing when the dissaster happened.

The Valertrez quickly made his way back to the medbay, picked up what he needed and
returned to the dropship. ”I‟m ready when you are, Salfiri,” he said softly, just feeling
numb all over.

"Ready, nand' Doctor." Salfiri said quietly in her smooth contralto. While Donen
unzipped the bag she eased her gloved hands gently under Rewedyk's rapidly cooling form
- and Donen might notice in the process that she'd removed the bandage he'd swathed her
hand in to get her right glove on - and picked the deceased hacker up as easily as one
might lift a child. He was child-sized, cradled against her leather jacket, no larger than a
child of ten earth years. But he hadn't died a child's death.

She laid him gently inside the bag as Donen held it open for her, carefully arranging his
arms and legs rather than just letting them flop everywhere. Then she reached out and
closed his scarlet eyes. Atevi eyes might look very different, but they were considered the
windows onto the soul by her people as well, and this man's soul had fled.

She helped Donen zip up the bag. "A stupid accident." She hissed harshly, a faint frown
on her ebony features. "Reredi-hama died for our safety," she said, awarding Rewedyk
the honourific of someone who died a valiant death, not that the Babelfish would translate
it as anything more than 'sir' for the Valertrez doctor, "but it was only a mechanical
malfunction. It didn't need to happen." She said.

Then that expression dissapeared, and her face was once more it's accustomed pleasant
neutral. "Forgive me, nand' Doctor." She said simply, and picked up the body bag so
that he wouldn't have to try to manouver it out of the drop ship. "If you would lead the
way, nadi." And it was possible that she didn't know where the freezer was, but more
likely it was a polite way of saying 'move', since he was between her and the hatch.




Posted by Donen Krell on 09.05.2003 at13:51:



Donen unzipped, and held open, the bodybag as Salfiri placed the Valertrez hacker into it.
Rewedyk looked like a small rag doll in the large Atevi hands, but she treated his limp
body with a surpisingly gentle reverence as she laid him out in the bag and helped Donen
zip it closed.

"A stupid accident." Salfiri hissed harshly, a faint frown on her ebony features. "Reredi-
hama died for our safety," she said, "but it was only a mechanical malfunction. It
didn't need to happen."

"Be sure to tell the captain that, Salfiri," remarked Donen. "For some reason, we
humans are somewhat comforted knowing the details about someone's death. It
doesn't really answer the question of 'Why?' but it gives us something earthy and
concrete to talk about while we deal with our grief." The medspec sighed heavily
and then continued. "Knowing the captain, he'll want me to do an autopsy just to
make sure this wasn't a special surprise by the dropship's previous owner. I'll
look for combat-grade microbials, and when you or Ragnar double check the
systems, I can give you some extra-strength antibiotic disinfectants to clean the
mess up with. Or maybe I should do that myself...I don't know. Well, let's take
him up."

Then that expression disappeared, and her face was once more its accustomed pleasant
neutral. "Forgive me, nand' Doctor." She said simply, and picked up the body bag so
that he wouldn't have to try to manouver it out of the drop ship. "If you would lead the
way, nadi."

Donen was a bit slow in response...still somewhat in numb shock...he always took deaths
under his watch personally, as if death were just mocking him. Death always wins the
game, Donen. The best you can ever do is just stall the game a little. Goddamn, that's a
depressing thought, Donen. Shelve it!

Finally recovering from his reverie, the medspec saw he was just in the powerful Atevi's
way and walked out the hatchway of the dropship. At first, the Valertrez had thought they
would need to use the cargo lift, but with Salfiri able to heft the body alone, she might
even be able to just use the ladderwells. "Just bring him up to the medbay, Salfiri. I'll
do a quickie autopsy, then clean him and stitch him up, so he looks better before
we ship his body back to his family. The four freezer compartments for bodies are
just in the back of the medbay anyway."

As Donen turned to go back to the medbay, suddenly feeling downright maudlin. If it
weren't for Rewedyk's body in her arms, the Valertrez might have hugged the massive
Atevi and created a whole host of cross-species issues. Fortunately, he refrained. Instead
he just turn to her and simply said, "Thank you." It referred to nothing specific, just
everthing in general. As strange as this ship and her crew were, Donen was beginning to
feel as if they were a part of his family.




Posted by Salfiri on 12.05.2003 at06:01:



"Be sure to tell the captain that, Salfiri," remarked Donen. "For some reason, we
humans are somewhat comforted knowing the details about someone's death. It
doesn't really answer the question of 'Why?' but it gives us something earthy and
concrete to talk about while we deal with our grief." The medspec sighed heavily
and then continued.

"Knowing the captain, he'll want me to do an autopsy just to make sure this
wasn't a special surprise by the dropship's previous owner. I'll look for combat-
grade microbials, and when you or Ragnar double check the systems, I can give
you some extra-strength antibiotic disinfectants to clean the mess up with. Or
maybe I should do that myself...I don't know. Well, let's take him up."

Salfiri nodded, acknowledging all that the Doctor had said, the bag with Rewedyk's body
cradled in her arms. "Knowledge of the manner of the death gives hope of
prevention in the future, nand' doctor." she said simply. The concept was common to
their peoples. Of course, there were some deaths that were very hard to prevent, even
when they came with a forwarning, printed on the official Guild letterhead.

"One has seen death before nadi Donen," heck, she'd admitted to causing a man's
death before, and there were more dead on the docks by her hand, "but one should
never become so... calloused," she searched for the right word, "that one fails to
grieve over the death of an... associate." Again, she could only hope that she'd chosen
the right words. And did Donen consider Rewedyk to be within his association? She knew
that Human relations did not work at all like Atevi ones. And that thought begged the
question of her own opinion of Rewedyk, the member of the crew with whom she had,
perhaps, spent the least amount of time.

She got the jist of Donen's explanation of what he intended to do, but the combination of
the language barrier - even with the Babelfish - and the fact that Salfiri's medical
knowledge was limited to what she needed to know to kill and a little field first aid, a lot of
it went over her head. "It would seem that the auxillary environmental systems
overloaded due to some modifications Reredi-hama was trialling, nadi, though
one would prefer nadi Ragnar to confirm my surmise." She said, when Donen
mentioned that he would be looking for the cause of death, feeling that the detail might
perhaps be useful.

Salfiri clambered out of the drop-ship after Donen, but opted to use the cargo lift to get
them up to the right floor. While it was possible for her to lift Rewedyk's rapidly cooling
corpse through the ladder wells, it was extremely undignified, and the dead deserved
respect. Still, it didn't take them long to reach the right deck.

"Just bring him up to the medbay, Salfiri. I'll do a quickie autopsy, then clean him
and stitch him up, so he looks better before we ship his body back to his family.
The four freezer compartments for bodies are just in the back of the medbay
anyway."

"Nadi." Salfiri acknowledged with a nod, back on the polite but not quite so formal mode
of address. Somehow the more formal honourific didn't seem to fit with the Doctor's more
casual manner, though she might have recieved a very wrong impression of him, working
across a cultural barrier like that which existed between their races.

She made as though to follow Donen to the ship's medical bay, but the medic paused and
looked back at her, the mix of emotions on his face so chaotic as to be as unreadable as if
he'd had nothing written there at all. It was an effort to keep her confusion from her own
face. Clearly the death had affected him deeply. "Thank you." he said at last.

"Nadi." Salfiri acknowledged, and bowed her head, being unable to bow properly with the
body bag in her arms. She wasn't sure what she was being thanked for, but Donen was
grateful, perhaps for her aid, perhaps simply for her presence, and in some way she was
glad to have helped, how she might have done so. She didn't understand, but she could
accept.

A short distance down the corridoor and through the med bay door and Salfiri deposited
the body-bag containing the erstwhile hacker where the Doctor indicated. The body was
largely cooled now, and begining to stiffen. And it would seem that she and Ragnar had
work to do.

"Nadi Donen," she said, "one will leave you to your work." She somehow doubted
she could help much. "Should you require any assistance further, please do not
hesitate to ask." She said at last, though she would have thought that this was granted,
something promted her to say it. "Nand' Doctor." she said formally, bowed deeply, and
headed for the hatch, swift and silent as a shadow.




Posted by Galen Winters on 13.05.2003 at18:40:
Galen‘s good hand hovered over a keypad, lids flickering over his bloodshot grey eyes as
his brain tried to wrap itself around Ragnar‘s exceedingly uninformed question. Tried and
failed.

He turned as much as he dared in the pilot‘s seat, the design clearly much more amenable
to keeping him facing forward and his injury not helping either. The look on his face, had
one the wherewithal to capture it in digital memory, might have even amused him, when
looked upon at a later date. Sheer disbelief at the somewhat flip nature of the query, given
what he knew, waged war with unadulterated rage across his bag-eyed visage. The
incident at Scorpion Seven, losing Gold Digger, his mangled psyche, the still-sore hole in
his leg, the broken collarbone, and now the death of one of his crew was just too much to
take in the face of Ragnar‘s innocent, yet horribly mistimed question.

―What‘s been going on?‖ he parroted back, voice full of scorn and acrimony. ―What‘s been
going on is that while you were up here jerking off, your crewmates were picking up the
dead body of our navigator from off the deck. Someone who you were supposed to be
fucking helping do his job! What‘s going on is Donen‘s putting Rewedyk on a fucking slab
to make sure what killed him so someone else doesn‘t have to pay the price for someone
else‘s fuck up. What‘s going on is I just wrote a letter to two people I don‘t even know,
telling them their son is dead. Do you have any fucking idea what that‘s like? Do you?‖ he
demanded angrily, voice rising dangerously high, his fury washing over Ragnar‘s thoughts
like a flood surge.

―No, you don‘t,‖ he added, answering his own rhetorical question, ―And Gods forbid you
ever do. I am responsible for the lives of everyone on board this ship, including you, and I
am not going to tolerate sloppiness and slacking off. You get lazy out here and people
fucking die. I didn‘t need a reminder of that, and I‘m not going to let another one happen
on board my fucking ship!‖

―What‘s going on is you‘re going to put down that cakework, find Salfiri, and clean that
dropship. You‘re going to go over every centimeter of wiring. Every bolt. Every weld. Every
gods-forsaken circuit. I want it triple-checked, and I want it fucking done ten hours ago!‖
he practically screamed, eyes not even registering Ragnar‗s expression.

Seeing that he hadn‘t received instant compliance, Galen‘s face became a mask of
unbridled rage. ”Cherra ne hech mahen mrrau llurrn chi nerrun nich taiwa trrun naf‟feh
krrau?” he yelled at Ragnar, not even realizing that the engineer had absolutely no chance
of understanding him. Even the most experienced hani linguists would barely recognize his
badly mangled attempt at ”What in a mahen hell are you waiting for, you egg-sucking,
rag-eared bastard?”, let alone the much cruder babelfish technology.

Seeing him still standing there, and with a quite puzzled expression on his face to boot,
Galen pulled himself out of the pilot‘s chair, ignoring the rather sharp pain in his enraged
state, taking a few steps towards Ragnar. ―MOVE!‖ he screamed, the challenge to his
captaincy intolerable, the narrowing vision of the hunter threatening to end the easy-going
valertrez‘s life on the spot.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 15.05.2003 at06:04:



When Galen shot daggers at Ragnar with his eyes, even before he commenced the
annihilation of Ragnar‘s calm, he instantly knew something was wrong. It was haggard,
furious, almost murderous (he‘d seen it before), and he almost wished he was one of those
heartless people that didn‘t receive the emotions that others conveyed. This one was going
to be gut-wrenching.

―…your crewmates were picking up the dead body of our navigator from off the deck.
Someone who you were supposed to be fucking helping do his job!‖
With that, Ragnar‘s jaw dropped. He didn‘t have any idea of that up until then, and it hit
him like a Lancer T right up the ass. His throat dried up, and his tongue felt like a big
flopping fish on the deck of a trawler. He couldn‘t even work up the response that he didn‘t
have a clue what to do with the bomb, or that Rewedyk made it seem like he wanted to be
left alone (which he wasn‘t so sure of anymore, as vibes can be perceived differently in
retrospect). So he sat, his eyes wide and blank, his mouth open, his arm (which had
begun to ache before) numb, while he took his verbal twenty lashes. He felt more than
guilty or ashamed, but those words would have to do for the moment.

The enraged captain continued. ―What‘s going on is you‘re going to put down that
cakework, find Salfiri, and clean that dropship. You‘re going to go over every centimeter of
wiring. Every bolt. Every weld. Every gods-forsaken circuit. I want it triple-checked, and I
want it fucking done ten hours ago!‖

After that, he dumbly stood up, not sure exactly what to do. His thoughts of the Caster
were far away, as were the memories of the past, and the e-mail he‘d received recently.
He looked at the floor, trying to gather up the tools in the room, which would be rather
useful in the ordered milling through of the entire dropship, but found himself quite unable
to move.

‗Fortunately‘ for him, the captain also must have seen his confusion. He yelled something
incoherent, which Ragnar winced at, then finally, ―MOVE!‖ He physically (and mentally)
cringed when Galen, a much bigger man, closed in the electrified distance between them.

Head hanging low, he uttered a meek ―Yes, sir..‖ and went out the door with the tools in
hand. God damn…more like forty… Not that he thought he didn‘t deserve it. He realized
that his crewmate was dead, and the one most like him on the ship, probably. A part of
him wasn‘t willing to take any of the blame for what had happened; after all, he‘d shut
down the systems and didn‘t have much expertise to do much else, so he‘d…

Slept. That was what he‘d been doing, hadn‘t it? He was sleeping after he‘d left Rewedyk.
That was one of the worst things that he could‘ve done. Not other work, not anything else.
Sleeping. Wincing, he continued down the hall. Not feeling like doing anything right now
that was the least bit impersonal (he wondered if the other members of the crew blamed
him as well), he continued down to the dropship to drop off the equipment before
proceeding to where Salfiri was located himself, rather than calling her.

With a quick question from a clearly disturbed Goldie, who didn‘t do a single thing to
comfort his quickly deteriorating conscience, he found Salfiri to be just heading out of the
medbay. Of course.

Quickly, he caught up to her in the main hall. He didn‘t want to break the silence, but
solemnly made his presence known by coming up right next to her. ―Hey..‖ he finally
managed to say quite lamely. ―You want to..‖ he‘d lost all train of thought in the past few
minutes. After a moment, he finally returned to his abandoned sentence. ―..uhh, want to
help me take a really close look at that dropship?‖ he finally managed to utter.




Posted by Salfiri on 15.05.2003 at07:09:



Salfiri left the med-bay quietly, leaving the Doctor to his grisly task, and headed up the
corridoor, intending to head back to the bridge, save what she'd been working on, collect
Ragnar and head back for the drop-ship. But as it turned out, the Valertrez engineer had
come looking for her, or so it seemed, as he fell in wordlessly beside her.

“Hey..” He finally managed to say quite lamely. “You want to..” he‘d lost all train of
thought in the past few minutes. After a moment, he finally returned to his abandoned
sentence. “..uhh, want to help me take a really close look at that dropship?” he
finally managed to utter.
The death seemed to have affected Ragnar as badly as the others, so far as she could tell.
He appeared very subdued. Salfiri nodded quietly. "One believes that would be the
best course of action, nadi Ragnar." She said in her pleasant contralto. "Nadi Donen
intends to bring disinfecting agents when he has finished." she added to inform
him.

Back inside the drop ship, the place was a mess. The congealed pool of blood on the floor
still held Rewedyk's imprint where he had died, and the bulkhead opposite the
environmental systems that had caused the hacker's death were spattered with blood.
Rewedyk's tools were still spread out over the floor.

"The cause appears to be been that the emergency environmental systems
overloaded, presumably due to some modifications Reredi-hama made, nadi." She
said, summing up her observations. "One has not found any traps or pitfalls as yet,
save the main bomb, but one will continue the search, if that is agreeable, nadi."
she said, leaving Ragnar to assess the mess from his engineer's point of view.


Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 15.05.2003 at23:52:



Donen‟s coming down too.. Ragnar mulled over this new information, taking note that the
Atevi did not seem to be displeased with his actions, as had the captain. She hadn‘t even
raised her voice from her soothing and comforting norm. The mechanic was a little relieved
that he hadn‘t gotten another verbal beating, or even a vibe of the slightest ill feeling
towards him. As it was, he was sweating, though not from physical exertion at all.

Turning around with Salfiri, the two made it down to the docks quickly, Ragnar more than
willing to keep up with her pace with longer strides of his own. At the scene, it was
different from how he‘d left it.

He could clearly see the source of the shrapnel, due to the markings opposite the open
panel, which was filled with a hard, bubbly mass of melted plastic and metal. The
coagulated puddle of dark red goo, definitely looking like hours-old blood (Ragnar, of
course, had seen-and smelled-it before), lay between the scarred wall and the melted
system.

He must‟ve been cut to fucking ribbons, Ragnar thought as he took a quick yet close look
at the shrapnel, careful not to step in the blood. Ready to take a look at the bomb before
anything (just to make sure Rewedyk had finished the job), he moved towards that a
moment later.

"The cause appears to be been that the emergency environmental systems overloaded,
presumably due to some modifications Reredi-hama made, nadi. One has not found any
traps or pitfalls as yet, save the main bomb, but one will continue the search, if that is
agreeable, nadi." Salfiri, in her always-polite manner, intended to leave Ragnar to get
things rolling initially, which was fine with him.

―Thanks for the insight..and yeah, you can check around, I certainly don't mind…‖ he said,
still a little timid from before. ―The bomb is completely dismantled..there are frayed wires
everywhere, the power source has been thrown over there,‖ He pointed in the direction of
the main hatch. ―and the trigger is missing. The bomb‘s totally useless as it is right now,
fortunately.‖ Getting a little bit of his usual cool and consummate attitude back, he
finished. ―I‘m going to take a look at this environmental system. It doesn‘t even appear to
be routed to the main power core…‖

Ragnar was interested. Sure, he‘d done work on small vessels before, which had several
very distinct differences from their larger counterparts, but he mostly had dealt with
stationary mechanics (like the gigantic generators for stations and large-class ships) and
mid-size ships.
So he dove right into his work, still feeling bad for the loss of his companion. And smelling
him, too. I‟m sorry… He didn‘t care what for, or who it was to (the entire crew, in a way),
he felt sorry.




Posted by Donen Krell on 16.05.2003 at06:23:



Donen, with a heavy sigh, opened Rewedyk's bodybag. Not wishing to desecrate the
remains of the young hacker, the med spec decided to do just a minimally invasive
procedure rather than a full autopsy. The cause of death seemed pretty self-evident, and
Donen just wanted confirmation...and maybe a little insurance that what had happened
hadn't left any 'surprises'. The Valertrez made some preliminary passes with his bioscan
glove which didn't tell him anything interesting beyond what he already expected. And
there did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary in terms of microbial activity by
scan.

Not taking any chances though, Donen took swabs from several areas of direct shrapnel
wounds, setting them up in the small, automated microlab in the medbay and coding in a
several different batches of growth medium. Within 24-48 hours he should have all the
data he needed to rule out anything but really sophisticated cryptoviral biowarfare strains,
and that seemed highly unlikely. Plus if something like that were used, they didn't stand a
chance anyway.

Returning to Rewedyk's body, Donen carefully went over each wound again...this time
removing all the bits of shrapnel, inspecting the damage done, and attempting to quess
the exact nature of his violent death. It wasn't difficult. Two pieces of metal had probably
been the ultimate cause. One had severed the pulmonary artery coming out of the right
ventricle of the heart, and another had severed the right carotid artery. Either wound
would have been fatal and probably instantaneous. He was undoubtably dead before he hit
the floor...that at least was a mercy. Donen cleaned the body as best he could, and tried
to stitch things back together again to make things a bit easier for the undertaker. He then
scrubbed everything down with a strong mixture of antimicrobial disinfectants, placed the
body in the #1 cryochamber and cleaned himself up.

Gathering up a selection of disinfectants (liquids for use with decking, aerosols for
uneven/difficult to reach surfaces and gases which could be used even with sensitive
electronic equipment), Donen made his way down to the dropship which had claimed the
crewman's life and joined the Atevi and the engineer.

Donen nodded his greeting to the two as they tried to work despite the sickeningly sweet
scents of congealed blood, burnt flesh, and the sharp tang of lingering ozone. After an
awkward silence, the medspec spoke quietly, not looking up from his work, as he began to
clean up the mess. "For whatever it's worth, Rewedyk died almost
instantaneously...probably never knew what hit him...I doubt he had time to even
feel any pain."




Posted by Salfiri on 18.05.2003 at04:22:



Salfiri bent to continue where she had left off, careful to give the blood puddle and
splatters a wide berth, but otherwise returning to her inspection of the ship's interior. She
peered at the pile of wiring that Rewedyk had left hanging out of one panel where he'd
been dissabling the bomb, and for a moment she desperately wished Tairo was with her.
Her partner was a surveillance expert, while she was training more towards being a
'technician', as the Assassin's Guild so delicately put it. Unusual in that they were a mixed
pair.
But that was what had brought them to Remo's attention. The man was no fool, quite the
opposite actually, he was very intelligent and had a good head for business. That was what
had allowed him to take advantage of his province's new-found mineral wealth and
increase his prominance in the Association.

In the process of course he had become more of a target, and so had had to aquire skilled
security. And he had specifically sought out a mixed-skill team of exactly the kind that
Salfiri and Tairo were. The idea being that they could act virtually autonomously, Tairo
gathering the information that Salfiri needed to act in Lord Remo's best interests.

And they'd not been easy to win over, but Remo had proven a strong leader, and in the
end instinct had won out, and the lure of the stronger leadership prevailed. And they'd
proven to be everything that Remo had hoped for, until they'd caught the notice of his
arch nemesis, Lord Gerisumi of the next Province. Then things had gotten messy. The theft
of confidential information, the retalliation, the death of Kawari, Padiri's sworn vengence,
Tairo being forced to go to ground and her being sent off planet, where she now was,
waiting for her orders.

Of course, her companion was oblivious to all this as he worked, and Salfiri shook off the
sudden moment of what a human might have termed homesickness, but which was for her
the awful feeling of being unable to satisfy the instinct which embodied itself in man-chi.
Human love could be conveyed over distance, Atevi association could not.

Donen nodded his greeting to the two as they tried to work despite the sickeningly sweet
scents of congealed blood, burnt flesh, and the sharp tang of lingering ozone. After an
awkward silence, the medspec spoke quietly, not looking up from his work, as he began to
clean up the mess. "For whatever it's worth, Rewedyk died almost
instantaneously...probably never knew what hit him...I doubt he had time to even
feel any pain."

Salfiri nodded a silent acknowledgement and moved over to allow room for Donen to join
them in the inside of the tiny drop ship that stank of death and machinery gone wrong.
"Nand' Doctor." Salfiri said at length, almost as an afterthought.

It was cramped in that tiny drop-ship, more so with three of them in there and one being
an Atevi. In the end Salfiri removed her bulky jacket and tossed it out the hatch onto the
bay floor, easing the cramping somewhat, and continued working in shirt-sleeves, her
gloved hands moving nimbly over the various components onfront of her, for all their size.

Atevi were typically willowy of build, not hugely broad for all their height, though as always
there are exceptions to the rule. Salfiri was slightly larger than average for an Atevi
female, and she had broader shoulders than was strictly standard for the female of the
species, but not to the point where she looked strangely proportioned. She simply had a
build that lent itself to the kind of work she did. Movements that were quick, efficient and
surprisingly graceful, she cleared up the tangle of wires and replaced the panel that had
been removed.

"One will inform the Captain," she said at length, "that one does not believe the
drop ship poses further threat. It would appear that the bomb Reredi-hama was
working on was the primary safeguard, and he appears to have removed the
software problems. Do you concur, nadi Ragnar?" she asked, directing her
unreadable golden gaze at the ship's mechanic.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 18.05.2003 at08:13:

 Excuse the made up techno babble..^_^

Completely useless… Ragnar referred to the rather large bomb taking up a fair portion of
the floor space of the small dropship. He stood up to let Donen through, nodding tersely to
him as he did so. He contemplated simply kicking the deadweight down the hatch. Hell, it
might even be slightly cathartic to hear the cursed thing fall and break, the way he felt
right now. But he wasn‘t sure what the bomb was, really. If it was chemical, and
something inside broke, he surely wouldn‘t be feeling any better.

So he went back to carefully examining the emergency enviro system that had done so
much more damage than the bomb. As it turned out, it did have its own power cell that
had fed off of the power core. Of course, since Ragnar himself had shut down all the
secondary systems, and it considered itself a secondary system, the cell ‗thought‘ that it
was no longer receiving power, so it automatically kicked on as a precaution. At the same
time, however, it registered that the power core was still pumping juice, so it tried to
regain power flow on its own by enlarging the input capacity.

The failsafe had worked all too well. The inward flow was almost triple what it was
designed to normally operate at, even though the emergency cell kept trying to increase it
because it had been supposedly cut off along with the rest. Obviously, such a glitch had
spawned from the fact that the emergency cell had been added after the ship had been
sold (Ragnar could tell from the way the electrical work went; it didn‘t match the rest of
the system‘s design).

At any rate, the cell kept pumping 300% power into the system, because the cell itself
could only hold so much of it. After several hours, the oxygen turbines and carbon dioxide
filters decided to stop working so hard, and simply exploded.

With the shake of his head, he stood up. It would take him three minutes at the most to
correct the glitch. He was no computer whiz, but he could edit the cell‘s programming with
little trouble. All he had to do was delete the code that told the cell to watch the other
secondary systems. The system was probably designed for a small class ship anyway, like
a Pegasus, if such programming had been installed.

Lost deep in his own technical little world, he barely heard Donen when he commented on
Rewedyk‘s death. Snapping himself back to reality, and his own sorrow that accompanied
it, he felt at least a little solace at the fact that the Serpent hadn‘t been sucking blood and
air in from his chest for an hour before he finally gave up.

A few seconds later, Salfiri grabbed his already floating consciousness and put it back in
his head. Looking at him, she said, "One will inform the Captain that one does not believe
the drop ship poses further threat. It would appear that the bomb Reredi-hama was
working on was the primary safeguard, and he appears to have removed the software
problems. Do you concur, nadi Ragnar?"

Returning her look with a frank, if distant, one of his own, he replied, ―Yeah, I agree,
things look good here. The bomb‘s trash, we can get rid of it any time. I don‘t think
anything else was put on here, either.‖ He finished offhandedly. The only thing left to do,
really, was delete a few lines of programming and fix (scratch that, replace, Ragnar
thought as he took another look at it) the backup environmental system, designed to save
lives in event of an emergency. It had done the opposite, ironically.




Posted by Donen Krell on 19.05.2003 at20:11:



As Salfiri and Ragnar quietly went about their work to ensure that the dropship was
completely safe and functional, Donen, with equal silence, completed the task of cleaning
up the variety of remaining bodily fluids and tissues splattered inside when the explosion
of the back-up environmental system took the hacker‘s life. A grisly task. It helped some
when the med spec stopped thinking of it as gathering up stray bits of Rewedyk, and
thought of it as eradicating potential pathogens, or removing growth material for possible
microorganisms. Although the Valertrez was, as usual, very detail oriented…trying to sop
up every drop and gobbet, and disinfect every surface that might have been
contaminated…the job was done before too long.
”I‟ve done everything I can for now,” said Donen to his two crewmates. ”I just need
to set up a disinfecting gas bomb…geez, not bomb, device…” he corrected
awkwardly, embarrassed by his choice of words given the nature of what they were all
trying to do. ”Anyway, I need to set up this device in the dropship, and it will
release a powerful disinfecting gas inside the sealed ship. It‟ll take about 4 hours
to completely sterilize anything I may have missed. If you two are done in here
for now, I can do it right away, otherwise just let me know and I‟ll come back,”
he said, gathering up all his supplies and the gory bucket of miscellaneous biomass.

”Oh! By the way, I am now in possession of a brand new micro regen unit,”
announced the med spec, smiling weakly. ”So when you are off duty, come on over to
the med bay and I can significantly speed up healing times on everyone‟s
wounds. It was a present from my paren…uh, my mothers,” he said, at first
glossing over his atypical upbringing, then got hit with one of those ‗what-the-fuck‘
moments. There is absolutely no gaddamn reason to avoid the issues about my family. I‟m
gonna be with this crew for a while and there is no sense in hiding who I am. If awkward
questions come up or I get ribbed because of it, I‟m just gonna have to deal with it.




Posted by Salfiri on 20.05.2003 at04:04:



Returning her look with a frank, if distant, one of his own, Ragnar replied, “Yeah, I
agree, things look good here. The bomb‟s trash, we can get rid of it any time. I
don‟t think anything else was put on here, either.” He finished offhandedly.

Salfiri nodded, concurring. Provided the bomb did work, any other safety system would be
unecessary. And judging by the amount of work required to dissable the bomb, it's makers
must have judged the possability unlikely in the extreme.

”I‟ve done everything I can for now,” said Donen to his two crewmates. ”I just need
to set up a disinfecting gas bomb…geez, not bomb, device…” he corrected
awkwardly, embarrassed by his choice of words given the nature of what they were all
trying to do. ”Anyway, I need to set up this device in the dropship, and it will
release a powerful disinfecting gas inside the sealed ship. It‟ll take about 4 hours
to completely sterilize anything I may have missed. If you two are done in here
for now, I can do it right away, otherwise just let me know and I‟ll come back,”
he said, gathering up all his supplies and the gory bucket of miscellaneous biomass.

Salfiri sat back on her heels and met Ragnar's gaze for a long moment, judging his
reaction, before turning that golden glance on Donen and nodded gently. "One has
finished for the present, nand' Doctor, and one believes that the repairs would
best be affected after the sterilisation is complete." Ragnar could, of course, over-
rule her on that if he saw a potential problem with leaving the systems as they were, but
from her point of view, working in a potentially biohazardous environment was currently
the greater risk, and should be dealt with first.

Waiting until the way was clear, Salfiri unfolded her tall form and clambered out the drop-
ship's hatch, far more comfortable now that she was free of the confining space which
simply wasn't meant for someone her size. Most Atevi-designed equipment was Atevi
made, since lone Atevi like herself were very rare due to the nature of association.
Generall you got non, or whole ship of them. She collected her jacket off the floor and
slipped it back on, zipping it all the way up to under her chin.

”Oh! By the way, I am now in possession of a brand new micro regen unit,”
announced the med spec, smiling weakly. ”So when you are off duty, come on over to
the med bay and I can significantly speed up healing times on everyone‟s
wounds. It was a present from my paren…uh, my mothers,”

Salfiri raised a mental eyebrow at the 'mothers' commented, but outwardly she seemed
not to react at all. She thought she could guess. Even as similar environments led to the
evolution of similar forms, those forms lent themselves to certain behavioral
characteristics, and thus similar patterns emerged. She had a brother in mass media who
had an interest in social patterns.

[b]"One must finish the programming work one left, nand' doctor, but if such technology is
applicable given the type of wound, one would appreciate anything that will speed
healing."[b] She said, holding out her right, currently gloved, hand a moment, meaning
the burn on the palm that the leather of the glove hid. It was obviously starting to
inconvenience someone who so often had to work with their hands.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 22.05.2003 at01:40:



The three of them worked in complete silence. Still quite shocked from his reaming out
earlier, he began sweating every time he made a little ticking noise with the small prybar
he was using to remove the small backup environmental system. Usually, of course, six or
eight bolts/screws would have been removed, and he‘d done this. But since it was sort of
melted to the wall, it was a little tougher than just removing a few bolts.

Fuck it, he finally said as he gripped the loosened end with his hands, braced himself, and
yanked back with considerable force. With a peeling noise, almost like a couple of statically
electrified pieces of plastic being separated, the thing tore loose. Stopping himself from
completely crashing into the opposite wall, he merely bumped against it with his rear end,
passing a crouched Donen by a few inches. The already toasted system clattered to the
floor dully. He cleared his throat when the two looked at him oddly. It had been very bad
timing, seeing as Donen had said something right before he‘d torn the thing off the wall.

After a very awkward silence on the part of Ragnar, Salfiri bailed him out, while replying to
Donen‘s comment. "One has finished for the present, nand' Doctor, and one believes that
the repairs would best be affected after the sterilisation is complete."

Donen, maybe trying to save Ragnar as well, said a few more words, some of which
caught the mechanic‘s attention: ―Oh! By the way, I am now in possession of a brand new
micro regen unit, so when you are off duty, come on over to the med bay and I can
significantly speed up healing times on everyone‘s wounds. It was a present from my
paren…uh, my mothers,‖ He ended firmly, if nonchalantly, evidently not regretting that
he‘d said what he did.

Concentrating more on nudging the trashed environmental system (He‘d order a new one
when they went dockside next; this one was completely unusable, save the battery cell,
which was still attached to the ship.), he didn‘t quite get what Donen meant by ‗mothers.‘
After a few moments, he got it, and looked up from the pile of junk he was kicking towards
the hatch at Donen. He felt a little stupid at his reaction, and looked down again. He didn‘t
really mind the fact that his crewmate had different parents than most, it was just that the
already scatterbrained Ragnar had been thrown off further. Not every day a friend tells
you he had a couple of lesbian mothers…

Friend? Once again, Ragnar pondered the question. He had to give this one a good think
tonight.

Putting the thought out of his mind yet again, he listened to the conversation continue
without him as Salfiri talked about her apparently injured hand. Finally gathering his
thoughts after she finished, he said, ―Yeah, my work here‘s done. I can‘t do anything more
except install a new backup system and work out the kink in the programming that caused
this stupid thing. Just a simple contradiction was all it was…‖

His thoughts trailed off for a moment, thinking about what Galen had said. “Someone who
you were supposed to be fucking helping do his job!” echoed through his mind loudly.
Some paranoid notion in him said that it had even resounded loud enough for the others to
hear it. That was pretty foolish, even for him.
Shaking his head, he continued before the others began to wonder if he was really loopy.
―…Ahem. You can use that cleaner of yours right now, if you like. And I‘ll be sure to stop in
for a little quick fix,‖ he paused, extending his still-wrapped left forearm a bit. After kicking
the useless pile of melted junk out of the hatch nonchalantly, he finished up. ―so I‘ll see
you in a few, Donen. I‘m off to do a little cleaning up myself, for now, getting rid of this
thing.‖ He kicked the bomb lightly. ―Someone care to hand this down to me after I hop
down?‖

Shortly after his last comment, he exited the ship quickly. He left the tools inside in case
they needed to be cleaned; of course, he‘d used a few of them, so he‘d go clean his own
arms up before too long.




Posted by Donen Krell on 23.05.2003 at23:39:



“…Ahem. You can use that cleaner of yours right now, if you like. And I‟ll be sure
to stop in for a little quick fix,” he paused, extending his still-wrapped left forearm a
bit. After kicking the useless pile of melted junk out of the hatch nonchalantly, he finished
up. “…so I‟ll see you in a few, Donen. I‟m off to do a little cleaning up myself, for
now, getting rid of this thing.” He kicked the bomb lightly. “…Someone care to hand
this down to me after I hop down?”

Donen was somewhat alarmed at how the mechanic was roughing up a potentially
explosive device, but he decided it might be safer for him if he handed the bomb down to
Ragnar than letting the man boot it into the cargo bay and have it bounce off the ship‘s
hull. ”Uh, sure Rags…I mean, Ragnar…I‟ll hand it down to you,” said the med spec,
wincing in the use of Goldie‘s pet name for the mechanic, since Donen wasn‘t sure if
Ragnar would tolerate anyone else using it. He then bent down and carefully picked up the
bomb. Ragnar may be going suicidal, but I‟m certainly not, he thought. Maybe I should
have a talk with him about this business with the bomb. Since he was supposed to be
working on it with Rewedyk, he may be feeling responsible or something. Normal grief is
one thing, but suicidal depression is another, and that falls into my professional
responsibilities on this ship. Gingerly, Donen handed off the device to Ragnar. ”Please be
careful with this until it is safely off the ship, please. I don‟t want to have to
scrape anyone else off the deck plating,” he said, trying to make light of it, but
instantly realizing how inappropriate the comment probably was. He sighed.

”Ok, I‟ll set up the sterilization canisters and then meet up in the medbay with
whoever wants a micro regen treatment,” he called out to Salfiri and Ragnar as the
left the area of the dropship. He then placed three canisters equidistant from one another
in the ship, set the timers for one minute, activated them all and closed the airtight hatch.
When his chrono had timed out the minute, he heard the dull ‘krump!’ of the canisters
beginning to discharge inside the small ship and he reset the chrono for the six hours
needed to finish the neutralization of any pathogenic microbial life that might be aboard.

With that job done, Donen head back to his medbay and began briefing himself again on
atevi physiology in the database that Salfiri had given him. He became fascinated by the
differences in atevi biology and physiology…xenobiology hadn‘t been a big part of his
medical training. Before long the med spec was looking up the history of first contact with
the alien race, as well as other aspects of atevi culture.




Posted by Salfiri on 25.05.2003 at10:18:



Salfiri watched quietly as Ragnar exited the ship and Donen proceeded back inside to set
up the sterilisation canisters. Best that was done before they attempted any further work
on the dropship.

She matched strides with Ragnar towards the little lift, since he was carrying the bomb,
and rode up to the next level with him. "One is curious, nadi Ragnar. Do Humans also
name small ships and fighters?" She asked him quietly. Atevi did, preferring not to
designate craft by a number, since every number had connotations, and somewhere along
the line some ship would be assigned an infelicitous one. It was instant economic doom for
that ship. [OOC] Like how hotels often don't have rooms or floors numbered 13. [/OOC]

They parted ways and Salfiri returned to the bridge and the half-written program that she
had left behind. The Captain was brooding in one of the chairs, and Salfiri acknowledged
him with a nod, "Nand' Captain." as she resumed her cushion and the work she'd been
doing. Goldie had been messing with it, trying to fit the different pieces together with
educated guessed. Salfiri had to undo a lot of it, it was based on human programming
which was not what she was doing. But evidently the AI realised that her attempts weren't
going to make the pieces work, so she made no objections, her attention fixed on the
Captain anyway.

"Nand' Doctor has set up sterilization measures within the dropship, nand'
Captain." She informed Galen quietly, after several long moments of nothing but
keystrikes and stransfers between her ePad and the ship's computer.

More typing, a long pause while Salfiri mentally debugged a section before putting her
musing into practice. Then, "On Shai-san it is custom to name even small pace craft,
such as star-fighters or drop-ships, to avoid the felicities and infelicities of
assigning number designations." Though the things obviously had to have a number,
especially if they left Atevi space, but they were ignored as much as possible. Even in this
day and age there were strict number counters. "One wondered if nand' Captain had
considered naming the drop ship, and if so one believes that perhaps a name in
rememberance might be appropriate?" She suggested quietly.

She didn't turn to look at Captain Winters, just kept on with her work, since he seemed to
be preoccupied, and no wonder. But Salfiri had nothing further to say, nothing that would
alleviate the burden, so she said nothing. The facts remained, a crewmember had died
because of a terrible accident, and it would seem that each was grieving quietly in their
own way.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 27.05.2003 at23:28:



Ragnar carefully (with more caution than he had used when kicking it earlier) took the still
dangerous parcel into his arms, thanking Donen as he did so. Had he noticed Donen‘s use
of Rags, he would have simply smiled inwardly at it and wonder how the infernal AI had
ever come up with that one.

"Please be careful with this until it is safely off the ship, please. I don‘t want to have to
scrape anyone else off the deck plating,‖ Donen said, trying to make light of things, but
failing miserably.

Seeing the tidbit of sick humor, he almost let out a small chuckle. Yeah, then they really
would have thought I needed help. Starting towards the small lift, he opted out of sending
either of them a verbal farewell; he would be seeing Donen in a few minutes, and he heard
Salfiri coming up behind him.

They continued on in silence; Ragnar thought that Sal had something on her mind, so he
waited for her to say it. Finally, she said, "One is curious, nadi Ragnar. Do Humans also
name small ships and fighters?"

After thinking the question over, he remembered the all-important cultural gap and
reconsidered it as a strange question. He replied simply, ―Yes, most small craft, such as
our Icarus back there, are named.‖ Seeing her acknowledge, and then turn to head to the
bridge, he called after her, ―I‘m going to need Goldie to use the weapons for a moment, so
don‘t be alarmed when she powers them up, alright?‖

A few seconds later, Goldie came over. Apparently she‘d heard what he said. ―You say
something about me, Rags?‖

―Yeah, actually…got the bomb right here in my hands,‖ he shrugged his shoulders as he
stopped in front of the air lock and opened it with his elbow, ―and it‘s going to need to be
detonated after I shoot it out of the lock. You can make a shot like that, can‘t you?‖

After a moment, she answered, ―No problem at all, though I‘d think you would be the one
doing the shooting..‖

Shrugging, he said, ―Yeah, well..ready?‖ He had placed the bomb in the airlock and closed
the inner chamber.

―Sure thing..‖ Goldie said automatically.

He opened the tube, and the rush of escaping air swept the bomb, which was placed next
to the outer door, out into open space. Quickly, it was left behind, as the Heart of Gold
was still maintaining cruising speed. After moment, Goldie locked on to the small bomb
and fired several bursts at it from a weapon or two, indeterminable from Ragnar‘s position.
―..You get it?‖ he said after a few seconds had gone by.

―Of course I did! I wouldn‘t let something like that get away..‖

Silently thanking her for not coming up with some outrageous innuendo about shooting
stuff, he said, ―I‘m going to go see Donen now about my arm..thanks for the help.‖

Apparently, Goldie was a psychic. ―No problem..call me if you ever need me to warm your
bed…‖

Of course, they both knew that Ragnar‘s bed had a heating coil running through it. It just
didn‘t sound that way.

Smiling grimly, he wandered toward the medbay. Finally, he entered to see Donen staring
at a projected screen like some holo-vid addict. ―Hello, doctor..‖ the mechanic said quietly.




Posted by Donen Krell on 29.05.2003 at06:41:



Donen looked up from his computerized studies at the sound of the ship mechanic‘s
greeting. ”Hello again, Ragnar,” said Donen, carefully avoiding the nickname Goldie
used for the Valertrez this time. ”I take it that damnable bomb has been properly
disposed of? Come on over to one of the exam beds and I‟ll take a look at your
arm,” he said casually, walking over to the nearest, which he had already prepped for
regen treatments.

”Take a load off, my friend, and enjoy a lie down. I don‟t think any of us have had
very regular sleep recently,” said the med spec, trying, perhaps a bit too hard, to be
chummy in order to find out how the mechanic was really doing over the death of
Rewedyk. ”How‟s the arm feeling?” asked Donen, as he helped Ragnar lie down and
began unwrapping the bandages. He inspected the arm‘s natural healing process, which
seemed reasonable…no signs of infection, and the graft seemed to be taking well.
”Considering how low tech the graft was, it seems to be doing quite well. As soon
as we set you up for some regular regen treatments, it should speed things along
like a dream,” he said as he began to set up the micro regen unit on Ragnar‘s arm and
positioned it over the healing tissues. Turning on the unit produced a sonic hum almost out
of hearing range and produced a tingling feeling when Donen‘s fingers passed briefly
through the field.

”Nothing to do now but relax,” said the med spec, trying to sound cheerful. ”I think at
least a half-hour treatment once a day for a standard week and everything
should be completely healed.”

”So how are you doing, Ragnar? I mean about Rewedyk‟s death. I‟m sure it must
have hit you as hard as the rest of us…maybe more so, since you worked more
closely with him than the rest of us did,” he asked. Donen pulled up a stool hoping to
just chat with the mechanic while doing a covert mental status exam, and leaving himself
open to any strong emotions or thoughts Ragnar might be having. Donen was determined
not to do any intrusive telepathic probing, but he wasn‘t above a little surface
eavesdropping…especially since it was out of concern for the man‘s emotional health, after
all.




Posted by Salfiri on 30.05.2003 at03:45:

 Mail from home - a post in two parts.

"Alright, I'll give. That's not half bad." Goldie admitted grudgingly when Salfiri had
finished putting together the piece of programming she's been working on. She didn't try
to work it into the ship's programming, Goldie had taken serious offence last time she'd
done anything major, though admitedly she had been trying to wipe that embodiement of
baji-naji from the system that was even now pouring over the programming she'd brought
as a peace offering. If Goldie wanted it she could slip it in herself, it was obvious where it
went.

"Well, Rags wants that little bomb dealt with, so I guess there's no time like the
present to try it out." Goldie said at last. It was plain that she was loathe to let this be
the last word on the erasure debacle, but the fact was it was a good piece of
programming, and the kind that a human computer tech was never going to come up with.
Still, the AI's comment explained why Ragnar had warned her that Goldie would be
powering up the guns.

Salfiri said nothing while the Heart of Gold's weapons came online and the image of Goldie
in the holotank behind her took a grip on an invisible set of firing controls. "Here goes
nothing." And there went nothing, by the time Goldie was finished bringing half the HoG's
weaponry to bear on it. It would have been excessive, if it weren't for the fact that Goldie
did it to test out the new programming which was designed to allow her a better interface
with the HoG's computer matrix, given that she was obviously designed for a smaller
vessel, and that easier interface meant better and faster control over the ship's systems,
the most precarious of which was often the weaponry, usually added on later and
commonly jury-rigged.

Goldie affected a nonchalent pose in the holotank and regarded the result of her
handiwork. "Yeah, alright." She said at last. "I'll take it. But what's the deal?" She
asked.

"Deal, Goldie-daja?" Salfiri asked, expression neutral but tone of voice radiating
innocence and maybe even hurt pride that Goldie would suggest it was for a price.

"Yeah, what do you want for it? You don't do that sort of thing for nothing." The
ship's AI elaborated.

"Improving the efficiency of the ship serves us all, Goldie-daja. It is my duty, and
to my benefit, to do so." Salfiri informed her. "But a hot shower would be
appreciated."

---------------------
And she got one too. Leaving the Captain to his thoughts and that embodyment of the
Demon in the Design, the ship's AI, playing with her new toy, Salfiri left the bridge on
hushed footsteps and made her way to the head she shared with the ship's passenger, and
revelled in the hot water, scrubbing the smell of blood, burnt flesh, frazzled electronics and
dissinfecting agents from her skin and hair. She was careful however not to get the
dressing on her burn wet. She'd already dissobeyed the doctor's admonishment not to use
that hand, and had taken the outer bandage off. Getting the whole thing wet could well be
the last straw, and she wanted to retain full use of that hand.

She towelled off, re-dressed and made her way back to her cabin. She doffed her jacket
and hung it off the edge of her bunk, then kicked her cushion across the floor and sat
down infront of her computer console, punched up the latest datafeed. A little icon in the
corner flashed at her, she had a message waiting. From Shai-san.

Feeling a momentary thrill, certain that this was the communique she'd been waiting for,
her recall to Kaimaren Province and Remo's court, for a reunion with her association. She
flicked the message open, and it started loading the vidio file within. The head and
shoulders of the figure that appeared on the screen were immediately recognisable to her.

Most Atevi were willowy for all their height, but not so this man. Broad chested, broad
shouldered and built like a Patinandi transport shuttle, the man had an unusually broad
and surprisingly open face, the kind that people instinctively trusted. He looked like
someone's big friendly bear of an older brother.

She'd not expected to see Lord Remo of course, but Tairo's bookish good looks would have
been both expected and welcome. Even petite Gisasu or wise-cracking Todeni would not
have been surprising, as they too were high up on Remo's staff. But the good-natured face
of her baby brother Maidgadi was not at all what she had looked to see. Maidgadi worked
for the Kaimaren News Network, who found that his open face and matter-of-fact manner
were very popular with the masses.

The only reason that she could think of for Maidgadi sending her a message was a death in
the family. Fearing the worst, she keyed the button, and the image sprang to life.

quote:

"'Firi-ji." Maidgadi opened. "One can only assume this reached you. It was sent
via Kaiben, who promised to put tracing software on it, and I have faith in the
Guild's work."

He sighed then, and rubbed his face as though very tired. "One wished to reach you
before the newscast. I don't doubt it will be all over the regional space
networks before long, but for the moment the details are being suppressed." he
told her, still not telling her anything.

"I'm sorry 'Firi-ji, there is no easy way to say this to you, but I wanted to be the
one to do it. Remo-ma is dead, 'Firi-ji." he said the last quietly, looking completely
crestfallen. He was using the most relaxed and intimate mode of speech, used between
family members and the closest of collegues, people with strong associations.

"And not just Remo-ma." He added, the pain writ large across his broad face, shown
to someone he knew he could trust. "Onandari-mai, Darisi-daja, the entire
household." There was a long pause. "And all their staff." he added, the crushing
blow.

"It was Padiri, 'Firi-ji." He said, using the name of the Guild Assassin without any
honourifics, a sign of disrespect. "The Guild is suppressing the details for the time
being. As far as we can tell, Kawari's death unsettled Padiri, more than his
peers realised. I know he took up the contract on behalf of Lord Gerasumi on
you and Tairo-hama," and there he used the suffix for someone departed in
honourable death, "but you know as well as I that the Guild would never sanction
anything like this. He's not even an ordinance expert, but he managed to blow
up the entire manor house. They were at Remo-ma's summer retreat." as they
would be at this time of year.

Maidgadi shrugged his massive shoulders. "The only consolation I can offer 'Firi-ji,
is that they found Padiri's body at the edge of the wreckage. I mentioned he
wasn't an expert in ordinance, apparently he got the timer wrong." Maidgadi
sighed again. "The Guild has revoked the Intent filed against you 'Firi-ji. Come
home. The Province will sort itself out eventually, Lord Gerasumi's been delt an
official notice from Shejidan to make no move on the Province, given that he's a
prime instigator in this mess."

"There is a message from Kaiben appended to the end of this." Maidgadi finished
up, regaining some of his composure. "Come home 'Firi-ji. We'll be waiting for
you."

-End transmission-



He meant the family. At the death of a family member or some other deep personal crisis,
one returned home if one was able, and reaffirmed one's most basic man-chi. It had
become a figure of speech, to 'reaffirm man-chi' but in many ways it was true. To
strengthen connections that could only be strengthened by physical presence.

"'Gadiji." She said softly, an acknowledgement to a man who couldn't hear her. Remo
was gone. Tairo was gone. Gesasu and Todeni. All those who shared her direct man-chi to
Remo. It was worse than loosing family, she'd lost her association. Absently, she reached
across the desk to the tiny wooden carving of the Wiitiki'in that held pride of place, the one
Tairo had given her. You'll come back to us, 'Firi-ji. Only now they were no longer there to
come back to. And she missed him. Gods felicitous, she missed all of them, as she had
ever since she had left. Only now she would never reaffirm her connection with them, they
were gone.

Salfiri sat there, her mind a blank, letting the tape run through a second time, watching
her baby brother's earnest face without really hearing his words this time. Remo was dead.
Remo's whole household was dead. It was unheard of. The whole point of the Guild was to
avoid amateur slaughters like this. There was no finesse at all.

Normally, at Remo's death, another strong member of the family would become Lord of
Kaimaren Province, either Remo's daughter Onandari or his brother Tameri, and the man-
chi that people had held to Remo would largely fall to his successor, with a few possible
defections if the successor proved to be not as strong a leader. It was even possible that
Onandari ad Tameri would compete for the position, though less likely with Gerasumi and
his designs leaning over them, splitting the loyalty of the Province between them if they
did. But presumably Tameri was dead as well, even though Maidgadi hadn't listed his
name, given that it sounded like the leadership of the province would take some time to
work out. As long as it's another Edi. Salfiri thought idly. Edi was the dominant ethnic
group in the province.




Posted by Salfiri on 30.05.2003 at03:45:



But the full implications had barely hit her, she was still dealing with the shock. A simple
assassination, though tragic, could be coped with. But this kind of slaughter was unheard
of. Numbly she opened the attachment that had followed Maidgadi's message. It was a
text letter, this one from her older half-brother, a man high up in both the Guild and in the
aiji's own security. A man she hadn't seen in two years, though his face was as plain to her
as though he too had sent a video.

Kaiben didn't have the broad-shouldered build of his younger siblings - though admitedly
Maidgadi took it to the extreme. He was a slight man, willowy, barely taller than Salfiri,
and no bigger. He had a thin face, long like any Ateva's, and was handsome in a bookish
kind of way. He looked like a clerk, and that was one reason he hadn't send a video, very
rarely showed his face outside of Shejidan, because his unnasuming appearance meant the
aiji could slip him into places other operatives couldn't go. His partner Tiimara was
positively tiny, but not someone Salfiri would choose to mess with on any day of the week.

quote:


Nadi Salfiri,

Felicitous sympathies for your recent loss.

The Guild wishes to inform you that your application for a Guild Licence has been
accepted. Given your level of training and present situation, you are hereby licenced as a
Junior Field Operative. To aquire further training, and should you desire an on-world
posting, please return to Guild headquarters in Shejidan.

Kaiben Bari-igena
Senior Technician
Guild Headquarters
Shejidan

PS If there is nothing further for you in Kaimaren, 'Firi-ji, they are recruiting Junior
Security at the Bu-javid.



It was an official communique, though the post script was obviously Kaiben's own addition.
But the very fact that Kaiben had been the one to send it meant that he was aware of the
situation. It was his way of offering what support he could.

Junior Field Operative. Junior because she wasn't as skilled as she could be, there was
Guild-sanctioned training to complete. Field Operative was what they called people who
specialised in working off-planet. There weren't many of them, and for that reason they
were one of the few groups that rarely worked in pairs. Usually they were loners, missfits
who preferred to be by themselves. Others had their own reasons, like she did.

But Kaiben's post script echoed in her head. If there was no longer anything to hold her
man-chi in her home province - for unlike Maidgadi who had several levels of superiors in
the news corporation to follow, she had held man-chi directly to Remo - then she could go
to Shejidan. The lines of man-chi were strong there, they had to be around the aiji, the
greatest leader of the Association. It would be hard for her not to become caught up in
them. That was what Kaiben was offering, a place to belong.

And that was what she should do really, go home, first to Kaimaren and reconnect with her
family, and then follow Kaiben to Shejidan. She could get employment at the Bu-javid, and
continue her training. Her brother had risen quickly through the ranks of the Guild, maybe
she even had the same potential. She would have to ask Captain Winters to let her off at
Anuurn, since she was taken on board as part of Deveriis-daja's contract with the ship.

But the thought of leaving brought a surprising pang of loss. 'Lonely' had no equivalent in
Ragi, neither did many other words that hinged on having no other person near you, since
the concept was an anaethema to Atevi. But, although she wanted to go home, she
suddenly realised that she did not want to leave this ship, this crew. It caught her quite by
surprise. Fit for the Machimi plays, she thought wryly.

The Machimi were a traditional style of play, pivotting usually around a Lord of the
Association and their closest associates, and usually a competing Lord. Of course, if this
were a true Machimi I'd've proved to hold [i]man-chi to someone who was linked to
Gerasumi.[/i] She mused. And was that what it truelly was? Man-chi? She flicked off the
console's screen and shoved away from it, sprawling out on her bunk, frowning. She did
not need this complication in the slightest, the dissaster at home was more than enough to
throw her world into confusion. Above all, she needed time to think.
Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 31.05.2003 at00:40:



Taking Donen‘s advice to go over to the nearby bed and relax, he slowly moved over to it
and got on it comfortably and easily, without using his left arm. Laying down, he itched the
back of his leg and said, ―Yeah, with a little help from Goldie, we got rid of it.‖ His
expression was unmoving, and his voice was equally as emotionless. He was distraught
over the death of his crewmate, and in a way worse was Galen being one word from
blaming him for it. Of course, his mind was completely off of it; he didn‘t want to seem on
the verge of breakdown in front of the doctor, now, did he?

Fortunately for him, it seemed like the doctor wasn‘t looking to add to Ragnar‘s troubles.
―The arm‘s doing okay, took one of those pills today and it‘s been feeling fine. Healing
pretty well, it‘s been a couple weeks and it looks alright.‖ He watched with disinterest as
Donen placed the unit over his arm, which he held slightly away from his body. When he
turned it on, Ragnar twitched and let out a small, quick chuckle; the very slight humming
felt strange on his still-sensitive arm.

―Nothing to do now but relax,‖ said the med spec, trying to sound cheerful. ―I think at
least a half-hour treatment once a day for a standard week and everything should be
completely healed.‖

―Yeah, okay, that‘s good. Feels okay now, but it‘s still a bit unusable.‖ Ragnar shifted,
wondering how long it would take this time. Is it really going to take a half hour now? he
wondered.

―So how are you doing, Ragnar? I mean about Rewedyk‘s death. I‘m sure it must have hit
you as hard as the rest of us…maybe more so, since you worked more closely with him
than the rest of us did..‖ Donen pulled up a stool while talking, apparently meaning that
the treatment would indeed take a half hour.

Shrugging to himself, he accepted the fact and turned slightly to the doctor. Frowning, he
thought about the question for a few seconds. Of course, Donen didn‘t know about how
Captain Winters had broken the news to him.

Gotta give him credit, that had to be the loudest I‟ve ever heard someone get, Ragnar
mused darkly. He almost hated Galen for going off on him like that, but he believed him
more than anything. It was his fault that Rewedyk had died, after all, wasn‘t it? Another
part of him itched to know how Galen would feel about it in another week. Would he shove
him off the crew when they reached Anuurn? With the look he had had in his eyes, Ragnar
wouldn‘t be surprised. So he‘d get thrown off the ship with next to nothing on the Hani
home world, expelled from the crew he‘d come to grow fond of..

Quickly snapping back to reality, he replied, ―Rewedyk..yeah, it hurt to hear it..not like I‘m
going mental or anything from it, but it is sort of disturbing..‖ It was the truth, after all,
wasn‘t it? Oddly, Rewedyk‘s death probably hadn‘t had the same impact as Galen had.
Looking for something to finish with, he quickly spurted, ―I‘ve had it happen before,
though..with what I used to do and all. Not like we were invincible, no matter why we were
out there. Anyway, it‘s always hard to lose someone so senselessly like that, no matter
how many times it happens..if you‘re sane, anyway..‖

Though he had just made that last statement up, he surprised himself with how true it
was. Of course, he‘d lost friends before. ―Playing vigilante over the Scorpion stations
wasn‘t exactly a desk job,‖ as his friend Racen had once told him a year later.

Trying to keep his thoughts from wandering too far, he looked directly at Donen. It hadn‘t
really occurred to him yet that the med spec could be looking at Ragnar with more than his
eyes, much less mentally examining him.
Posted by Donen Krell on 01.06.2003 at06:25:



As Donen settled down on his stool to talk with the HoG‘s mechanic, he was surprised by
how acute his telepathic abilities had become. He wondered if being in the presence of
another strong telepath, like Captain Winters, had helped to sharpen his skills somehow,
or if it was due to something more mundane like simple male competitiveness. Whatever
the cause, his skills were growing. As Ragnar talked, the difficulty was not so much in the
eavesdropping, as it was in trying not to probe too deeply…to just sit at the surface.
Donen had always felt awkward and embarrassed by his telepathic talents…it just felt
voyeuristic. He justified using it in this instance as ―professionally necessary‖ and even
then, tried to be as non-invasive as he could. Actually it is really more like picking up what
thoughts and feelings Rags is broadcasting…more like really good intuition on my part,
thought Donen, but even as the thoughts entered his head, he knew it was starting to
sound more like rationalizations to invade the man‘s privacy. Of course, for all the
agonizing the med spec was doing over it, he wasn‘t about to actually stop using his
telepathic ability to help the mechanic, if he could. So, after calming his own internal
monologue, he tuned his attention to the Ragnar‘s surface thoughts and feelings.

Beneath the mechanic‘s words, he was indeed feeling guilty about Rewedyk‘s death and
felt some responsibility for the accident, as Donen had surmised, but something more
troubling to Ragnar was a conversation with Captain Winters where the captain had
apparently laid all the blame for the death on the poor man‘s shoulders…remarks spoken
with an intensity that seemed almost a visible scar on the man‘s psyche. Although Donen
was curious about the captain‘s actual words, getting such information out of the
Valertrez‘s memory engrams could only be done by a very intrusive probe that Donen
would not be able to justify, even to himself.

Professionally, Donen was satisfied that Rags‘ mental state was normal, under the
circumstances, although he could bear some watching in the near future. Personally, the
med spec was furious that the captain had dumped all the blame from what appeared to
be a simple, unfortunate accident onto a man‘s shoulder‘s who was already feeling guilty
and responsible for something which probably couldn‘t have been avoided anyway. Donen
was just about to rail against the son-of-a-bitch captain, when he realized that doing such
a thing would not only be unprofessional, but would undermined the captain‘s legitimate
authority aboard his ship. Alright, Captain Winters. I‟ll give you the benefit of the doubt
for now, but we‟re gonna have a heart to heart on this in private, as soon as I can manage
it. You may need discipline and authority, but dammit, I‟m responsible for fitness for duty.
And whatever you said to Rags seems harsher than necessary given the facts, from my
opinion, mused Donen, as he tried to find a way to take out some of the emotional sting
from Ragnar‘s guilt without directly challenging whatever the captain‘s words had been.

”For whatever it‟s worth, Ragnar, I don‟t think you are „going mental‟ on this,”
said Donen quietly, with a reassuring hand on the man‘s shoulder. ”Losing a crewmate
always comes with a heavy blow. And one due to a senseless accident…a random
malfunction…is even harder to deal with sometimes. Well, at least that was the
case with me when I was crewing with prospectors in Alkes Field. You bring back
one fellow‟s remains from a mining explosion, and everyone is saying, „Serves
the dumb bastard right! He was using a laser rig too close to a methane pocket.
Every miner worth his weight in oxygen knows to use a mechanical drill that
close to flammable gases.‟ And then you bring up someone whose helmet was
pierced by a random micro-meteor, and everyone just says, „Fuck!‟, because it‟s
just random and senseless and there wasn‟t a damn thing anyone could do about
it. And that‟s just what happened to Rewedyk…it was just random and senseless
and there wasn‟t a damn thing anyone could do about it. If you had been there
with him when it happened, I‟d just have two bodies instead of one on ice now.”
Donen hoped that a little bit of reality testing would help the mechanic to lighten up a bit.

Looking at his chrono, the med spec shut off the regen unit and unstrapped it from
Ragnar‘s arm. ”Whoa! Look at that will you?,” said Donen genuinely surprised at the
visible improvement in healing around the graft from only one application of the regen
unit. ”Now that‟s what I call high-tech medicine. Damn, if we get that kind of
response with each application, full healing may take less than a standard week,”
said Donen grinning at his new ―toy‖. "You go and catch yourself some real rest, OK?
Your other work can wait a few hours…I‟ll clear it with Captain Winters,” added
the med spec, assisting the mechanic in getting up off the med bay exam table.

After the man had left the med bay, Donen keyed his comm unit. ”Captain Winters?
Donen here. Unless you have an emergency situation going, I‟d like to authorize
at least 6 hours sleep for Ragnar…he‟s asleep on his feet, sir. Oh! And at your
earliest convenience drop by the med bay, I have some business to discuss with
you…and I had a micro regen unit delivered to the HoG a little while ago, so if I
can get you to come down for some treatments, I can have both your thigh and
collarbone healed before we reach Anuurn,” said Donen, trying to sound nonchalant.




Posted by Salfiri on 02.06.2003 at10:33:



Salfiri got the confirmation on the screen of her terminal, and was assured that the courier
would be at the Heart of Gold's dock within the hour, as soon as the modifications were
complete.

Well, the wheels were set in motion. She could do nothing further on that task. She flexed
the fingers of her right hand, feeling the abused flesh pull slightly, and frowned. That
needed seeing to. She rose to her feet with surprising grace for one of her size, kicked her
cushion under the bunk, flicked off the terminal and stepped out into the hallway, noting
that this time the door access gave her no trouble at all.

She was still far from certain she was doing the right thing, but the fact of the matter was
that she couldn't bring herself to do what was expected of her. It wasn't logical, it came
down to instinct. The problem was that right now instinct dictated something that made no
sense. The annoying part was that sense was not required. Her long features drew into a
moue that was indicative of concern, deep thought and a nagging feeling that she could be
making a mistake. However, she had considered the alternatives, and found them
unpalatable to say the least. Thus, set on her path - a path that had perhaps never been
trod before - she would stand by what she felt to be right.

As the sickbay hatch hissed open she composed her features into careful neutrality, though
to those within it might seem that her expression was perhaps unusually serious this day,
almost as though she were trying too hard to keep anything else from showing.

"Nand' Doctor, nadi Ragnar." she acknowledged as she entered, bowing from the waist,
then turned her golden gaze on the ship's medic. "You are busy, nadi Donen?" She
asked, framing the statement as a question, and indicating Ragnar with a gentle gesture
from a gloved hand. "One can return at a later time if it would be more convenient,
nadiin." she offered, using the plural form of adress to include Ragnar in the
conversation.




Posted by Galen Winters on 03.06.2003 at03:29:

 It lives!!

Galen watched the back of his departing mechanic, still fuming from his outburst, ever so
slowly coming down from his tirade. His sigh matched that of the closing bridge hatch‘s
hydraulic cylinder, a deflating of his anger and his thoughts, the entire episode with
Rewedyk having drained him dangerously close to a breakdown.

‖Did you have to be so hard on Ragsie, Galen?‖ asked Goldie, shimmering into view with a
look of concern upon her digitally-rendered face, matched by the muted (for her, anyway)
nature of her chosen clothing; a simple flight suit, form-fitting, but not tight as was
normally her wont.

―Yes, I did, Goldie. We lost a crewman today. If I let things get sloppy, who knows what
else could go wrong? I don‘t want to lose anyone else, Goldie. Ever. I‘m the Captain of a
starship. It‘s high time I started acting like one,‖ Galen confided, blaming himself as much
as anyone. The responsibility of his job now extended to everyone else on board, a far cry
from the days when he had just himself and Goldie to worry about.

The holographic mistress of the Heart of Gold nodded with eyes downcast slightly,
swallowing the unpleasant truth of the matter. ‖Space is a dangerous place, hon. Don‘t let
that turn you into a bundle of worry and doubt. I don‘t want you burning out on me,
sweetie. Speaking of burning, I‘ve got the engines warmed up and on line. Reactor output
at seventy percent, all systems nominal. I show green on all external hatches, and fuel
reserves are at one hundred percent. We can go whenever you‘re ready.‖

―First good news I‘ve had all month, Goldie. Let me get the crew situated and we‘ll be off.
Also, I need a course for Anuurn, best possible speed.‖

‖Aye, Cap‘n!‖ she chirped back, before shimmering out of view again.

I wonder where she goes when she disappears like that Galen wondered idly, settling back
into his seat with a soft grunt of pain, the ends of his broken clavicle grinding together in
delicious agony. Taking a few deep breaths to settle his voice, he thumbed the shipwide
intercom button, pausing a moment to make sure the jitters and anger were out of his
voice before he spoke.

―All hands, we‘re getting out of here. Departure stations in twenty. Anything that isn‘t tied
down and rigged for flight, get it there now. We‘ve got a job to do, and I‘m tired of dicking
around instead of doing it. If anything‘s not ready to go in twenty minutes, I want to know
about it. Ragnar, you can finish that job as soon as we clear the outer markers. Captain
out.‖

With bleary eyes, Galen switched his gaze back to his VDT‘s, trying to figure out how he
was going to pilot effectively with only one good arm. Very carefully he replied
sarcastically to himself.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 03.06.2003 at07:38:



Ragnar waited, after he had stopped speaking for several moments, for Donen to respond.
It was if he was lost in deep thought. Not like Ragnar cared, though. Rarely did he demand
attention or all of someone‘s thoughts, especially not when he himself was drugged, tired,
and stressed. Quite the opposite at the moment, actually. He was more than grateful that
Donen hadn‘t simply hooked him up to that unit and gone back to his holo-vid.

After apparently thinking for just a short yet noticeable while, the doctor came to and gave
Ragnar a bit of reassurance. Putting his hand on his (unhurt) shoulder for a second, he
recalled a brief bit about his time with some Alkes miners, and how it related to their case
with Rewedyk.

Ragnar thought about that..had he ever had a case like that? Had someone ever died not
because they had enemies with guns, or they were hitting a bar, but just because? He
couldn‘t recall an instance where someone had died so senselessly as that. At first, it
saddened him further, that he had been around death so long, lost dozens of friends, and
yet he had never had anything like this happen.

For some reason, though, he found it insanely funny after a contemplative minute of
silence between the two. It was somehow hilarious to him that he‘d been around death so
long and missed one of its precious facets, the mysterious one that gets people the most.
How could he have missed something like that?

Of course, some (not much, obviously) of Ragnar‘s rationale remained, so he contained his
sudden outburst as best he could. Through a valiant effort, he contained the laughter to a
grin, which he tucked on one side of his mouth, and a few short, nasal giggles. During a
time when the doc was talking about senseless deaths, and Ragnar‘s own being avoided,
laughter wouldn‘t have been very inconspicuous, health wise. As it was, the mechanic now
knew Donen was concerned with his mental health.

As if on cue, the med spec hopped up and started spouting something about the injured
arm. Ragnar was far too busy keeping himself from laughing to really pay attention to him
at first. He just saw him take the regen unit away and back off for Ragnar to stand up.

He did so, not really aware of what was going on. The laughter died down inside,
fortunately, and he was able to listen to Donen. ―Captain Winters? Donen here. Unless you
have an emergency situation going, I‘d like to authorize at least 6 hours sleep for
Ragnar…he‘s asleep on his feet, sir. Oh! And at your earliest convenience...‖

That was all the cue he needed; he was out of there. ―Thanks, Donen..‖ he said coolly,
before turning and almost being startled by Salfiri. Donen had made a nonverbal gesture
to Ragnar as he was turning, so it had held his attention longer. He was still on the verge
of hysteria, so he quickly nodded to her and left the medbay.

Halfway down to his quarters, he felt it safe to laugh and let everything out. Only as he did
so did he realize he didn‘t want to laugh at all. He let out a single yell of everything he‘d
felt in the past two hours; anguish, hate, pain, the heat from the cinders of memory,
everything.

Entering the black room, he slammed his good right hand, made into a fist, against the
nearest metal bunk leg. It rattled furiously, bolted to the rit deck plating, and quieted
down. It didn‘t hurt, though it was a little hard to unclench the fist. He‘d feel that one
tomorrow. For now, though, all he wanted was that six hours of ‗medical leave‘ the doctor
had promised him…




Posted by Galen Winters on 05.06.2003 at03:37:

 Two posts in as many days, when will the madness end?

Pre-flight preparations went so smoothly that Galen was pessimistically wondering what
wasn‘t showing up in the checklists and diagnostics boards. The dock crew had already
removed the umbilical, deferring to the Heart of Gold‘s internal reactor where power needs
were concerned. The berth illumination went from actinic white to deep red, the internal
bay doors grinding closed before the atmosphere was pumped from the berth, mimicking
the vacuum outside the station. Outside monitoring sensors relayed the rapidly dropping
pressure and temperature to Galen‘s console, before the grey-eyed pilot changed the input
to an array of temperature readings from the engine nacelles, their sheer power and
output necessitating a watchful eye to avert possible disaster.

Winters‘ one good hand was busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest,
darting back and forth over controls and keys designed for pilots without a clipped wing.
The cycle of the bay complete, the bulkier outer doors started to creep open with all the
grace and alacrity of a glacier, Galen‘s impatience not liking the leisurely pace one bit. He
threw himself back into a fourth check of every possible system, trying to avoid noticing
the wait, finding everything nominal and green across the board for the fourth time.
Punching the gravity controls, the slight lurch between the station‘s artificial gravity
dropping out of existence and the field generators on the Heart of Gold coming online. It
was not a noticeable because of the miniscule difference in the strength between the two,
other outposts and gateway stations usually being much closer to Terran standard than
was the Hole.
Another check on the external monitor showed that the outside hatch was still taking
forever to open, and a niggling doubt began to gnaw the edges of his consciousness. Their
departure could not help but be noticed by the powers that be, and those who held sway
here were hardly benevolent or generous. ―Goldie, warm up the reactor to full power and
bring the weapons online. I hope we don‘t need them, but it doesn‘t hurt to be prepared‖

‖I always knew you were a Boy Scout, hon.‖ she piped up, Galen‘s focus keeping him from
seeing whatever take she had on a uniform, doubtlessly tight, sexy and nearly non-
existent. He felt more than heard the gentle thrum of power being increased and diverted
to the new dust guns, their targeting reticle shimmering into view in his heads-up display.
The large glassteel panel before him held the more important performance displays near
the margins of the large oval, all in cool amber or green, contrasting sharply with the
angry, dull red of the crosshair pip. Grey eyes flicking down to check one last item before
take-off, Galen did a double take, looking back to the HUD to find that the weapons
crosshair was following his gaze, a perfunctory glance at the periphery of the panel
confirming the presence of multiple optical sensors dedicated to the task.

Donen's short, but somewhat chipper, message came over the comm, informing him of the
medic's request, which he would get to. Eventually.

Hmmph he grunted softly, before reaching around to his left to activate the landing gear,
the hum of distant hydraulics in operation confirming his order had been carried out. With
no external gravity, Heart of Gold floated motionless at the same distance above the deck
plating as it had been before, but now with no means of support whatsoever. ―Station
control, this is Heart of Gold, requesting departure clearance‖ Galen said automatically
over the comm, even such a rough place having to have the most basic of courtesies and
safety procedures, backing a several hundred ton freighter into a maintenance skiff circling
the station could have quite lethal results for the crew of the skiff, and do severe damage
to the ship.

‖Heart of Gold, you are cleared. Lane seven alpha is open to the outer marker for thirty
mikes.‖

―Roger that, Heart of Gold out‖ Galen replied, just as mechanically as the control center
had.

Galen called up the touchscreen interface for the docking thrusters, and selected the
double clusters in the needle-like nose of the ship which faced forward, sliding the power
level to fifty percent. A gentle nudge was felt before the inertial dampers kicked in to
nullify the vector change, the stark lines representing the interior of the docking bay on
Galen‘s screens shifting in response, the ebon-skinned vessel sliding gracefully from hiding
into the inky void.

Free from the confines of the Hole, Galen‘s screens were once again filled with the familiar
blips and signals of ship transponders and nav markers, a tapestry of landmark points
necessary to navigation in space, and a sign of homecoming for the beleaguered valertrez.
Galen shut down the nose thrusters once they had gained two thousand meters from the
station, switching to the aft port side units, swinging the nose around to just past
perpendicular to the station‘s axis, slotting the ship into their assigned lane. A short burst
from the starboard thrusters halted the rotation with ease, and Galen once again had to
wrap his good arm around his body to unlock the main throttle control, the latch button
also controlling the nacelle hatches, their rounded leaves opening like a flower to expose
the main drive thrusters to space. Easing the T handle forward, Galen could feel the gentle
press of acceleration pull him into his seat, the dampers leaving enough inertia to allow
the pilot to fly by the seat of his pants. The readouts were nominal across the board as
Heart of Gold poured hard radiation into space, main drive nozzles spitting white hot
plumes of fusion fire as the vessel accelerated towards Anuurn, the FTL drive preparing to
mold the laws of physics to the will of man as they raced onward towards fate and fortune.




Posted by Salfiri on 05.06.2003 at11:15:
 Yeesh, give a girl a chance to post, will ya?

Salfiri tilted her head slightly as the comm system relayed the Captain's message across
the ship, her headset changing it from incomprehensible Terran gibber into semi-
understandable Ragi. She's always found it amusing - though supremely sensible - that the
Babelfish had been programmed with the Children's Language. That way if there were any
mistakes, no one would take offence, for the very forms used - far less complicated than
adult Ragi - indicated that this was an impaired speaker, not fluent, which the translater
certainly wasn't. But you found out which words it did know and what it could translate
and learned to talk around the holes.

“All hands, we‟re getting out of here. Departure stations in twenty. Anything that
isn‟t tied down and rigged for flight, get it there now. We‟ve got a job to do, and
I‟m tired of dicking around instead of doing it. If anything‟s not ready to go in
twenty minutes, I want to know about it. Ragnar, you can finish that job as soon
as we clear the outer markers. Captain out.”

"Nand' Captain." Salfiri said, tapping the sensor spot on the earphone of her headset to
tell it to transmit her words. "One is expecting a delivery within the hour. One
doubts it will arrive sooner, nand' Captain." She relayed.

"Uh, hun." Goldie piped up. "I think this might be your boy coming along the docks
now. I dunno what you said to him, but he looks like he's in a hurry."

"Understood, Goldie-daja." She acknowledged. "Please ask the Captain to
disreguard my last message."

"Sure, will do." Came Goldie's voice over the comm system. That was one innovation of
the current Babelfish model, it was able to translate the words using the voice modulations
of the person speaking, so you weren't constantly hearing a toneless computer. One had to
remember that in actual fact, one's crewmembers were not so fluent.

"Your pardon, nand' Doctor, one will return, but one does not wish one's
shopping to be left on the dock." She said, and momentarily quirked one eyebrow in
what could, possibly, be taken as an amused expression, before dissapearing out the hatch
once more.

-------------------

"Who in the seven hells orders this kind of thing, I mean really?" the courier
muttered to himself as he pushed the little antigrav-trolley along the dock. It was the kind
of little hand-trolley that you could stack three boxes up on, and that was about it. Just
enough for one person. This time it had one very long box on it, with a smaller plastic
packet stuck under one of the plastic straps holding the box shut.

"I mean, c'mon, they're big, unwieldy beasts, they're dangerous as hell, and
they're heavy and hard to carry too." The man continued his own personal tirade as he
took a turn down the dock to the actual berth he was delivering to, keen to get this thing
out of the way so he could knock off early.

He spotted the sleek black shape of the Heart of Gold at the end of the dock. "Oh shit."
he grumbled. "Well, that would be the right type. Some aggressive, ball-brained
dickhead who hasn't thought about the practicalities, and just gone with 'biggest
is best, and with firepower to boot'." The man spat in disgust at idiots and their
overpowered toys before picking up the pace again. He'd heard about this ship, and about
the massacre upstation where three crewmembers had been set upon by about twenty
disgruntled dockers, and all three had walked away unscathed. "Yup, just the right kind
of egotystical maniac."
The hatch on the side of the ship slid open, and an overly tall figure in a black leather
jacket fixed it's golden gaze on him. Never mind testosterone-pumped spacers, the courier
thought in dismay, just my luck, a bloody Ateva. He'd forgotten someone had mentioned
that one of the three in the fight wasn't human.
----------------

Salfiri leant against the side of the hatch nonchalently while the courier made his way
along the dock, pushing a trolley with a package that had to be what she'd ordered. The
man was some breed of human, Terran or Valertrez, and like all his kind he had amazingly
expressive features, and right now it was plain that he did not want to be here.

He arrived at the hatch, keeping a respectful distance, and Salfiri shoved off from where
she'd been leaning and approached him, moving with the grace of a hunting cat, her
plasma pistol and kris knife plainly visible on her belt.

"Are you..." the man paused to read the name on his e-pad, and cursed himself for not
doing so before. There was no way "Salfiri Bari'igena?" was human, and in truth the
first name was a dead giveaway.

Salfiri nodded. "I am, nadi." She confirmed in typical Atevi form, very verbally
conservative.

"Well, ah, miss, if I could get a swipe of your ID card, and some form of
payment..." the man looked hopeful. "Oh, and your other order's here." He said,
pointing out the little plastic packet. Salfiri wondered if the little man realised what it was
for. Probably not.

Not all the places in the Hole were like Kendra's, though there was a good mixture. But
Salfiri preferred to buy what she could legitimately. You were assured of better quality,
and since she commonly needed alterations made to equipment that was designed for
smaller races, it was better to go with a legit firm.

She handed over her ID card and the little slip of green plas that would give the man
access to the funds she'd taken out for just that purpose. The courier took them with an
expression of profound relief, swiped both through the e-pad's reader to check their
legitimacy, pocketed the piece of plas and handed the ID back.

"Did you want me to bring this inside?" He asked at length, once he'd got the pad
stowed in a pocket.

"No, thank you nadi." Salfiri said, acknowledging the offer with a shallow bow. She
picked up the box and hoisted it over one shoulder, then turned and walked back into the
Heart of Gold's interior, leaving the courier staring after her. There was something about
the few Atevi he'd met that gave him the creeps, though he had to admit, he'd never
encountered a female one before.

---------------------

"Batten down the hatches, and lets get the hell outa here." Goldie greeted her as
Salfiri came back inside and slapped the hatch controls, bringing it hissing shut behind her.
"Whatcha got girl? Been doing some shopping huh. Something fancy to wear
maybe? I've got my new outift, we could hit the town." Salfiri could hear Goldie's
new weaponry swivelling in their mountings. She raised one eyebrow at the suggestion,
well aware that Goldie monitored the interior and would seel. "Ok, maybe not. But are
you going to give us a look?" It would seem that the peace offering had gone down
well, or at least that Goldie's curiosity over the package had taken priority to any
remaining grudge.

"One has to inspect it first, Goldie-daja." she informed the AI. "One will no doubt
demonstrate it at a later date." she added, leaving no doubt that, whatever her
package was, it wasn't a party dress.

But then Goldie got distracted because Galen began called for the undocking sequence,
and the AI was needed elsewhere. Salfiri headed back to her little berth and shoved the
long box under her bed, wedging it where it wasn't going to slide about if they performed
any tight manouvers. She hadn't even paused to look at it, just plucked the small plastic
package from under the packing strap. She stood up and opened the packet, pulling out
the roll of ribbon it contained. She drew one of her little ritalanium daggers and cut
suitable lengths off the rol', lying them flat on the tiny deskspace beside her console.

Setting the roll down and sheathing the dagger, she pulled her long braid over her
shoulder and undid the ornate clip that held the end. Then, long fingers moving with an
expertise born of years of practice, she unwound the complicated braid, pulling out the
ribbons as she did so. At length, her hair hung loose, and she ran her comb through it a
few times to tease out any snarls. It was butt-lenth when free, and currently wavy from
the braid, but as soon as she was satisfied that it was tangle-free, she started re-braiding
it, this time working the new pieces of ribbon into it, and finally fastening the clip. Given
that she'd been doing this all her life, the braid didn't take long at all, and finally lay, ruler
straight, down her back. She turned so that she could peer at it critically over her shoulder
in the mirror. It looked strange to see something other than Remo-ma's heraldic red and
yellow, but at the same time it felt, somehow, right.

The colour wasn't one that would be recognised in the Atevi system of heraldic colours, yet
in the circumstances it was the only one to choose. As she stepped quietly out of her door,
headed once more for sickbay, the ribbons gleamed in the fading light from her quarters.
Every one of them was gold.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 06.06.2003 at23:50:



Staring into the blackness above him, he laid on his usual bed on his back. It had been ten
minutes, and he hadn‘t been able to calm down enough to sleep. He felt helpless and
confused, even though he knew there was nothing for him to do and nothing for him to be
confused about.

With a frown, he sat up and groped for his PDA, which he‘d put on a side table. Even in the
dark, he could see its outline faintly, so he picked it up easily. He sat up in bed, swinging
his feet out to the left side. Somehow, he‘d remembered what he‘d done just before Galen
came in and fucked up his day.

Switching the device on, he recalled that he‘d seen a message from Racen in his Tenwich
mailbox. Quickly and mindlessly, he accessed the account to read his friend‘s message.

From: RaHathro@wamink.dlt
To: RagArgoth@tenwich.dat

Ragnar,

Good to hear from you. Well during my free time on Capella, where I was for
quite a while, I did some research into who ordered everyone dead. And I found
this guy, no picture, but I found a description, he's no major player, but he knows
something, I can feel it.

He's a drug runner, small time on Beletchi. I'll get some minor deccas off his
bounty, but he's a small fry. Hopefully he'll lead to someone major. The guy's
name is Rayn Donic, short, short hair and light eyes.

How about you? Have you run into anyone trying to kill you since Scorpion? I ran
into Mohrs not too long ago, but he didn't make it, died saving my sorry ass. But
so ya know, you can use this address to contact me from now on. No need to
conceal it.

Farewell and good luck,
Racen

After looking it over carefully, he read it again. Before he had time to think, he turned on a
nearby light and quickly opened up a new audio/video document and began recording
through the small eye on the top of the PDA. He didn‘t care that he had forgot to put on a
shirt, or that his hair, which was longer than normal now, was slightly matted.

―Hey again, Racen.‖ He started with a quiet, dark tone. Picking it up slightly, he continued,
―I‘m on my way to Anuurn right now. So you‘re going to Beletchi, eh? Send me a
postcard.‖ After a brief pause for effect, he lost the grin. ―Be careful. Sounds like you‘re
running solo on this. I know you can do it, we‘ve taught ourselves to be real good over the
years, just..be careful. He might not be alone.

―So Mohrs died saving you, huh? Sounds like him. He was a good guy.. I‘ve got an Ateva
(thanks Sarah) on my crew right now, actually, named Salfiri. He was quite different from
her..anyway. I haven‘t had anyone try to kill me or anything since Scorpion. Not related to
TSV, anyway, heh.‖ He stopped talking and took his eyes away from the device. A few
seconds later, he muttered, ―We lost a crewman today. I‘ll talk to you later when I get
some time, okay? Bye.‖

He saved the message, sent it out quickly (under his tenwich account), turned off the light,
and laid back down. He thought he could sleep now.




Posted by Salfiri on 08.06.2003 at03:31:



[OOC]Ugh, can't be bothered finding something interesting to post about the corridoor. I
think we can assume she makes it safely back to sickbay.

Oh yeah, just thought I'd mention: 'Atevi' is the plural. 'Ateva' is the singular. No, it's not a
typo, though I do produce enough of those. Damn keyboard dyslexia.           [/OOC]




Posted by Donen Krell on 08.06.2003 at04:58:



“Thanks, Donen...” Ragnar said coolly, before turning and almost being startled by
Salfiri‘s almost silent entrance. Salfiri composed her features into careful neutrality, though
to Donen it seemed that her expression was perhaps unusually serious, almost as though
she were trying hard to keep anything else from showing.

"Nand' Doctor, nadi Ragnar." she acknowledged as she entered, bowing from the waist,
then turned her golden gaze on the ship's medic. "You are busy, nadi Donen?" She
asked, framing the statement as a question, and indicating Ragnar with a gentle gesture
from a gloved hand. "One can return at a later time if it would be more convenient,
nadiin," she offered, using the plural form of address to include Ragnar in the
conversation.

”Actually, we had just finished, Salfiri…” began Donen, as the mechanic quickly
nodded to her and left the medbay. ”Now is as good as…” he continued before being cut
off by the captain‘s voice over the comm system.

“All hands, we‟re getting out of here. Departure stations in twenty. Anything that
isn‟t tied down and rigged for flight, get it there now. We‟ve got a job to do, and
I‟m tired of dicking around instead of doing it. If anything‟s not ready to go in
twenty minutes, I want to know about it. Ragnar, you can finish that job as soon
as we clear the outer markers. Captain out.”

"Nand' Captain," Salfiri said, tapping the sensor spot on the earphone of her headset to
tell it to transmit her words. "One is expecting a delivery within the hour. One
doubts it will arrive sooner, nand' Captain," she relayed.
"Uh, hun," Goldie piped up. "I think this might be your boy coming along the docks
now. I dunno what you said to him, but he looks like he's in a hurry."

"Understood, Goldie-daja," she acknowledged. "Please ask the Captain to disregard
my last message."

"Sure, will do," came Goldie's voice over the comm system.

"Your pardon, nand' Doctor, one will return, but one does not wish one's
shopping to be left on the dock," she said, and momentarily quirked one eyebrow in
what could, possibly, be taken as an amused expression, before disappearing out the
hatch once more.

”Of course, nadi Salfiri,” said the med spec trying to get his mind around some
unfamiliar Ateva words and customs as the HoG‘s resident alien security officer hurried out
to the ship‘s main airlock.

Donen quickly stowed everything properly within his medbay, eager to be in space again,
not only to be out of Alkes Field, but also to be on ship grav instead of station gee. Despite
using the grav distorter he had purchased for personal training in his off hours, he still
preferred low grav or zero gee. The Valertrez med spec felt the ship‘s engines coming
online and noticed the subtle shift in gee when the ship‘s artificial gravity replaced station
grav, and he awaited the vector changes, which signaled their departure with a thrill of
anticipation. He wanted to be in space again…heading off into new directions, new
worlds…and probably meeting new people leveling blasters in our direction, he added
ruefully.

After the HoG settled into its cruising velocity, Donen began to set up the med bay again
for Salfiri or Captain Winters…whoever showed up first. He wasn‘t surprised that it was
Salfiri…Galen had a lot on his mind, no doubt…but the Ateva looked different somehow to
Donen, and he just couldn‘t put his finger on the change from when he had seen her only
moments before. Momentarily putting the question into the background of his
consciousness, the med spec motioned the security officer over to the exam bed he had
prepared.

”Hello again, nadi,” he said, grinning, but feeling a bit awkward with the use of what
very little Ragi he was trying to pick up in his study of the Atevi. ”I need to get Ragnar
to build me some kind of extension to these exam beds, so you can really lie
down instead of having to lean against the bulkheads every time you come down
here, Salfiri-ji,” he said, trying out another variant of proper Atevi address, as he
motioned her to jump up on the exam bed. ”God, I hope, I‟m using your language
appropriately, Salfiri. I‟m trying to learn some Ragi and some Atevi customs,” he
said somewhat sheepishly, as he began to remove the bandage from her injured hand.

The burn still looked raw and red, but there was no sign of infection. In no time at all the
regen unit was strapped across the Ateva‘s large hand, humming quietly. That task
accomplished, Donen‘s thoughts returned to the mysterious change that had he had
perceived earlier. ”Salfiri…have you changed something since you were here
earlier? Your hair, or….” The Valertrez stopped suddenly mid-sentence, dumbfounded,
when he finally realized the change he had noted. ”You changed your ribbons…but, I
thought…aren‟t an Ateva‟s ribbons supposed to indicate something about one‟s
man-chi?” he asked, truly puzzled.




Posted by Salfiri on 10.06.2003 at09:26:



”Hello again, nadi,” Donen said, grinning, but feeling a bit awkward with the use of what
very little Ragi he was trying to pick up in his study of the Atevi. ”I need to get Ragnar
to build me some kind of extension to these exam beds, so you can really lie
down instead of having to lean against the bulkheads every time you come down
here, Salfiri-ji,” he said, trying out another variant of proper Atevi address, as he
motioned her to jump up on the exam bed.

Salfiri quirked an eyebrow faintly at Donen's greeting, but bowed and return with a
"Nand' Doctor," indicating respect, in this case for the profession, before turning and
boosting herself up onto the examination bed that Donen indicated. As she turned to do so
the ribbons in her braid flashed in the sickbay's lighting, obviously a metallic gold colour,
which was definately not the red and yellow she had worn last time he had seen her. The
pattern of braiding was different too, though that was something that was less likely to be
noticed by someone not culturally adept.

”God, I hope, I‟m using your language appropriately, Salfiri. I‟m trying to learn
some Ragi and some Atevi customs,” he said somewhat sheepishly. Salfiri pulled off
her leather gloves, the right of which had been protecting the dressing on her burn after
she had removed the cumbersome bandage, and let Donen remove the dressing.

"One would ask why, Nand' Doctor." Salfiri said, watching him work. "This is, is it
not, a Human ship?" She asked. She didn't know if they were all Valertrez or Terran, or
possibly mixed, so she left it at that, not indicating either sub-species.

Still, it was interesting in a way, that he was so curious about her people. Perhaps he was
curious about other species in general, some people were, and he just happened to
currently have and Atevi crewmate. And he had, in an oblique way, asked if his usage was
correct. She tilted her head to one side slightly, curious more than anything to see what he
would do with the knowledge.

"'Nadi' is the correct usage, with or without a name, nadi Donen." she both
explained and demonstrated. "One believes that Humans use the term 'Mister' or
'Miss' in the same fashion." In fact, that was what they translated as. "The suffix 'ji'
indicates a close professional or personal association when - often a level of trust
- when added to a name, or goodwill when added to a title." she explained. "It is
less formal that nadi and the appropriateness of it's use is a matter of personal
perception, nadi Donen." Salfiri certainly hadn't used in it referring to any member of
the crew, sticking to the strictly polite 'nadi'. The less formal and polite one got, the more
one presumed on a level of association and the greater the potential to give offence.

The burn still looked raw and red, but in no time at all the regen unit was strapped across
the Ateva‘s large hand, humming quietly. Salfiri regarded it curiously for a moment, but
her attention returned to the Doctor when he posed a question. ”Salfiri…have you
changed something since you were here earlier? Your hair, or….” The Valertrez
stopped suddenly mid-sentence, dumbfounded, when he finally realized the change he had
noted. ”You changed your ribbons…but, I thought…aren‟t an Ateva‟s ribbons
supposed to indicate something about one‟s man-chi?”

The puzzled expression on his face would have been comical, had not the nature of his
question been so serious. Salfiri's full lips compressed into a narrow line of dissaproval,
and it was a long moment before her expression returned to something resembling
neutral, though she looked faintly unhappy.

"The ribbons in the braid are broadly indicative of the direction of an idividual's
man-chi, yes, nand' Doctor." She said, returning to the most formal and strictly
professional form of address. "The colours are heraldic, different combinations for
different noble families." She explained. There was a pause, then, "You were not to
know, nand' Doctor, but it is considered most impolite to question an individual
on the direction of their man-chi." which would explain her expression. Not that man-
chi wasn't often more complicated than the ribbons indicated, that was largely the basis
for the machimi plays, but the ideal was a loyalty steady as a rock, to a people for whom
that loyalty was their driving force.

She sat quietly while the micro regen unit did it's work. She needed to be as healthy as
possible when she spoke to Galen. Her own man-chi was in doubt now, though few
seemed to realise this. That had to change. When there were upheavals one returned to
one's home to 'reaffirm man-chi' as the saying went. She wasn't going home, but that was
something that still had to be done. She sat, deep in thought, for a many minutes while
her hand was healed, her mind elsewhere, returning to reality when Donen passed infront
of her field of vision, focused on the middle distance.

Salfiri glanced at the computer terminal on which the Doctor had brought up the Atevi
cultural and language references he was reading. "Are we truelly so fascinating, nadi
Donen?" she asked, raising one eyebrow. Many people she had encountered preferred to
avoid as much alienness as possible, and given that this was a Human ship, she'd been
watching how they acted and interacted.

"You will not find my ribbons in the cultural database, nand' Doctor." She said
stifly, imagining the man up at all hours sifting through archives. "Metallics are not
recognised in Atevi heraldry." Yet it was the only obvious answer. "The different
combinations of colours indicate different lordly houses. Remo-ma's were red and
yellow." Which he had seen her wear before. But she had obviously used the past tense,
and her expression turned grim. "But Remo-ma is dead, nand' Doctor." She said, as
though it should have been obvious, and did not elaborate, her voice and expression were
carefully formal, walling off whatever was going on behind those golden eyes. She wasn't
even sure why she'd said that much. There was something about his air of innocent
curiosity despite what he must surely see in his profession that seemed to draw one to fill
the silence. Most likely it was something he was trained in, Salfiri thought cynically.

She glanced down at the machine working it's magic on her hand as it beeped. "It is
finished, nand' Doctor?" Another of those statement/questions Atevi were good at.
"One needs to speak with the Captain." The sooner the better.




Posted by Donen Krell on 10.06.2003 at21:01:



Donen was pleased with himself in beginning to use some Ragi with Salfiri, and seemed to
be doing alright until he had used the -ji suffix inappropriately. Shit, Donen, go slow on the
Ragi. It‟s not just a foreign language…it‟s an alien language. For all the med spec knew,
the use of the suffix with Salfiri might have been a rude sexual proposition. Feeling
chagrined and politely chastised, the Valertrez vowed to pick up the pace in his study of
the Atevi, and slow down in his use of Ragi until he felt more confident of its usage.

Of course, all that good self-advice went to hell as soon as Donen realized that the Ateva
security officer‘s braid had changed and he had blurted out his comment on man-chi,
which he knew was a proximity mine in Salfiri‘s culture. The studious med spec winced as
the words left his mouth, expecting the rebuke that had come…however mild Salfiri‘s
rebuff had been. His mind spun at the thought of what could alter an Ateva‘s man-chi.
From what he had read, the Atevi were hardwired with this concept of man-chi and it
wasn‘t something that shifted on a whim…it was the fucking central core of Atevi society
on an instinctual level, and something weird was going on with Salfiri‘s man-chi and
Donen was dumbstruck with incomprehension.

”'One regrets the error. Forgive one’s lack of understanding,'” attempted Donen in
poorly pronounced Ragi, which was probably a childlike Ragi version of 'Sorry…I‟m a
dumbass,' in the best case scenario, and hopefully not something grossly insulting in his
mangled usage of the phrases.

Salfiri glanced at the computer terminal on which the Doctor had brought up the Atevi
cultural and language references he was reading. "Are we truly so fascinating, nadi
Donen?" she asked, raising one eyebrow.

”Well, nadi Salfiri, since I am now a doctor for an Ateva, I find that I must
'know', 'understand', 'translate',” he said, using the equivalent Atevi concepts. ”in
order to better serve Captain Winters and the crew of the Heart of Gold. I
suppose I‟m kind of like Galen‟s 'paidhi' aboard ship,” said Donen only half seriously,
thinking the term meant ‗go-between/translator‘, unaware of the broader implications of
the office in Atevi-Human relations history. And a piss-poor 'paidhi' I am too, when I can‟t
figure out what is going on with Salfiri, he thought as he tried to open up his mind to the
alien female, just enough to be receptive to any thoughts or feelings the alien might be
broadcasting, and not meaning to probe.

Donen was struck again by how alien her thoughts and feelings were…like when they were
at the station in Alkes Field before the fight, when he‘d first tried to pick-up on her
thoughts. He just couldn‘t read any thoughts at all. The words and concepts were too
foreign, too alien. Atevi emotions weren‘t human either, but there were some
correspondences and the Valertrez telepath could pick up something that seemed like
sadness and confusion, but he could make sense of nothing else. What do the goddamn
gold ribbons mean? mused Donen, perplexed.

"You will not find my ribbons in the cultural database, nand' Doctor," she said
stiffly, as if she had been reading his mind, and then remembered that Salfiri had confided
in him earlier that she had been told she had telepathic potential, so maybe she had read
his thoughts without realizing it. "Metallics are not recognized in Atevi heraldry. The
different combinations of colors indicate different lordly houses. Remo-ma's were
red and yellow." Which Donen remembered as she said it. Yes, he had seen her wear
those color ribbons previously. But Salfiri had obviously used the past tense, and her
expression seemed to turn grim. "But Remo is dead, nand' Doctor," she said, as
though it should have been obvious, and did not elaborate, her voice and expression were
carefully formal, walling off whatever was going on behind those golden eyes.

Donen was shocked to hear the words ‗Remo-ma is dead,‘ not because he had any clue as
to who the Ateva was that held Salfiri‘s man-chi, but because it must mean that Salfiri was
without man-chi at the moment, and the med spec had no idea what that might mean. He
tried hard to control his emotions and his facial expressions…Atevi held rigid control over
emotional displays, and whatever was going on, Donen didn‘t want to commit any more
linguistic or emotional mistakes when he was clueless about what was going on behind
those impassive golden…and alien…eyes. Salfiri had mentioned something about the Atevi
guards they had encountered at Alkes Field station, that they didn‘t have man-chi and
were dangerous, she said. But they had had white ribbons…what the fuck do gold ribbons
mean? Is Salfiri going rogue on us? thought Donen beginning to feel panicky, but trying to
maintain a neutral expression.

‟The Atevi have no concept of friendship, but they have fourteen words for betrayal,‟
thought Donen, remembering a quote from his readings on the Atevi. Despite the fact that
we human‟s may have feel something like friendship toward an Ateva as a fellow
crewmember. It‟s all about man-chi for Atevi, and assassination is an accepted, even
venerable, practice in her culture. Shit! What does this all mean?!

Salfiri glanced down at the machine working its science on her hand as it beeped. "It is
finished, nand' Doctor? One needs to speak with the Captain."

Donen deliberately calmed himself down as he removed the device from Salfiri‘s hand; the
burn visibly improved. ”Nand’ Salfiri, the wound is healing well. You may need only
two or three more sessions during the next several standard days for complete
healing,” said the med spec carefully, as he bandaged up her hand once more. ”You are
free to go, nadi,” he said while he began to clear away his equipment, nodding with a
slight bow in her direction, in what he hoped was an Atevi gesture of sympathy and
respect, as she exited the med bay.

As the med spec was trying to ponder all that Salfiri had said, he suddenly remembered
that Goldie had told her that a courier had arrived just prior to their take-off. As soon as
Donen was sure she had left, he keyed in the ship‘s AI over the comm. ”Goldie? What
kind of package did Salfiri pick up at the airlock?” he asked, suddenly filled with an
intense curiosity.

”No idea, hun. But it was huge…and I don‟t think it was lingerie, Doc,” said the
ship‘s irreverent AI, with an intimation which made the med spec go scarlet. Donen was
glad that Goldie was on audio only at the moment so she couldn‘t tease him even more.
Goldie didn‘t seem to know what Salfiri‘s package was, but she did seem to suggest that it
was weaponry of some kind, which brought back Donen‘s feeling of panic.

Instantly, he keyed his comm unit for a private channel with Captain Winters. ”Captain
Winters? Donen here, on a private channel. Something‟s up with Salfiri and I
think she‟s heading your way. She‟s having a really, really bad hair day. Scratch
that…bad joke. She‟s lost her man-chi and that is exceptionally bad for an Ateva.
Man-chi is like a kind of loyalty, but hardwired in Atevi…biological, instinctual.
Ateva‟s have to have it, and the Ateva who held the direction of her man-chi is
dead. Shit! There‟s no time to explain! I don‟t know what an Ateva without man-
chi will do. She could go nuts, or go rogue, or God-knows what! Just be careful,
OK?” he said, trying his best to sound calm and rational.

The Valertrez wasn‘t at all sure how Galen would take the information…or if he knew more
than Donen about the Ateva…or if he thought Donen himself was losing it. Goddamn it to
hell, I don’t even know myself! As if losing one crewman today wasn‟t enough, there
are people out to kill us for some unknown reason, and I‟m rocketing off to Anuurn for
hell-knows why with a homicidal captain, a suicidal mechanic, and an unhinged Ateva.
Donen, you've gotten yourself into some really deep 'bantha pudu' this time, dude, he
thought, rubbing his temples and trying to soothe the roaring headache he felt coming on.




Posted by Salfiri on 14.06.2003 at10:54:

 *Offers the Doc a Valium*

[OOC]*sigh* Well, if you lot aren't going to post then I'm just going to have to bore you all
to death with another of mine. *Writes 'Post Whore' across her forhead in texta and gets
typing*[/OOC]

Donen deliberately calmed himself down as he removed the device from Salfiri‘s hand; the
burn visibly improved. ”Nand’ Salfiri, the wound is healing well. You may need only
two or three more sessions during the next several standard days for complete
healing,” said the med spec carefully, as he bandaged up her hand once more. ”You are
free to go, nadi,” he said while he began to clear away his equipment, nodding with a
slight bow in her direction, in what he hoped was an Atevi gesture of sympathy and
respect, as she exited the med bay.

Salfiri pulled her gloves back on, the right one protecting the dressing, and hopped off the
med bed. The Doctor's amazingly expressive face bore a look of worry, though he was
obviously trying to hide it. She admonished herself silently, he had no desire to hear about
her problems, she thought, or perhaps it had been a wake-up call. The paidhiin of years
past had been highly trained professionals, diplomats as well as translators, ambassadors
between two very different species. She bowed respectfully in response to his unpolished
gesture, and left quietly.

Still, the Doctor's presumption amused her to an extent, worried her as well. The idea that
one could take on the role of paidhiin, having studied a little of the other culture was naive
in the extreme, but then perhaps the man was, and that innocent curiosity was unfeigned.
But the risks he took on the assumptions he made... an Ateva would not dare. Humans
seemed to delight in it, the baji-naji of the alien races. Mad creatures, all of them.

And yet there were an awful lot of things that their peoples had in common. Too many
perhaps, for it was on that common ground that Humans had based the assumptions that
had brought about the wars between their peoples. But that was in the past, and the
paidhiin had been created to be experts on dealing across the Atevi-Human interface, and
both species had learned a little tolerance.

It was surprisingly easy, really. She had been on this ship only a few weeks, but she had
become comfortable. She didn't claim to understand her crewmates, but she could accept
them, and that, in the end, was the key. It was a strange concept, on Shai-san one
preferred to be as sure as possible of one's associate's man-chi, but Human didn't have
man-chi.

And are they associates? Salfiri wondered as she made her way up the corridoor towards
the ship's bridge and, hopefully, Captain Winters. Well, that would be decided soon
enough, and in the end, though there might be points of association, the call was not hers
to make.

She reached the hatch to the bridge and slapped the panel to open the hatch, which hissed
back with a pleasing efficiency. Galen Winters sat in the pilot's seat, arm still in a sling,
attention obviously largely on their course.

"Nand' Captain." Salfiri greeted him formally, a measure of gravity in the tones of her
low-pitched voice that suggest this was important. When she caught Galen's attention she
bowed, Atevi-fashion, hands on knees, with a slow deliberateness which was not her
normal practiced fashion.

"One would speak with you, nand' Captain, if one may." She said formally, and when
Galen gestured that she continue, she went ahead, reminding herself of the time in
sickbay when she had mentioned Padiri, and Galen had clapped her shoulder and said she
was a part of the crew. She only hoped she had understood his meaning correctly.

Straightening up from her bow she stood in what was obviously some kind of formal
stance, back ram-rod straight, hands linked behind her, expression fixed. "One is aware,
nand' Captain, that one signed on board this ship for the journey to Anuurn, with
further travel with your crew to be considered, given that one's summons to
return to Shai-san could come at any time." She began, leading up to what she
wanted to say.

Her expression remained resolutely deadpan, but her golden gaze seemed to seek out his,
in as much as could be told with those alien eyes lacking iris or pupil. "That summons
will not come, nand' Captain. Remo-ma is dead, and all his household. Padiri was
responsible, but he too is dead." She might not ordinarily have gone into such detail,
but she wanted him to understand.

"There is nothing left for me on Shai-san, nand' Captain, and thus one would
respectfully request to remain on board as a member of your crew." She said,
finally coming to her point. "One's injuries are minor and will soon be healed, nand'
Captain. One is skilled and experienced in many areas of Security work, including
bodyguarding. One is now fully equipped in the manner one believes will be most
appropriate given the nature of your work," such as she had seen of it, "and the
Guild has withdrawn the filing of Intent. One is now a licenced Guild member, a
Junior Field Opperative. One may raise one's rank if one returns to Shai-san for
further training."

And Galen must surely realise that what she was doing as she stood there like a soldier at
attention was listing off her credentials, like someone looking for a job, which in a sense
she was. She hadn't been signed on - in her eyes at least - as a permanent crew member,
and now she sought to change that.

It was a not unimpressive list, given all that it implied. And a Field Opperative. They were
the arm of the Guild that stretched beyond Shai-san's gravity well. All Atevi- as other
species had their own equivalent - all highly trained, and all deadly. Considered by some
on Shai-san as a group of misfits who couldn't fit in to the more rigid structure planetside,
the Field Operatives were a mixed bag, some were crazy, some were geniuses, and some
were both. They worked without partners, since they were few and far between. But they
were all effective.

Salfiri stood there, looking like an ebon statue, the picture of Atevi efficiency in her
uniform, not a single crease and every piece of metal shining, and the weapons belt that
carried her plasma pistol, the kris knife and two ritalanium daggers. Yet despite all that
she would make no assumptions, take no risks. She was waiting for Galen's decision.
Posted by Galen Winters on 16.06.2003 at02:22:



Galen blinked at the speaker which had just delivered Donen‘s warning, before sighing
softly in grim pessimism. I knew the other shoe was going to drop, just didn‟t know it
would be this soon he mused darkly, setting the autopilot for the moment. If he was to
meet some dark fate at Salfiri‘s hands, it would be on his feet, with both hands, well, the
one that worked anyway, around her windpipe, resisting to the last. Galen heaved himself
out of the pilot‘s chair, draping his sharkskin coat as well as his suit jacket over the back of
the chair, leaving him in the grey silk pants he had been wearing all day, and the white
shirt that went with the suit, his golden yellow silk tie having long since been loosened in
relief. In such a manner of undress, Galen‘s sidearm was also plainly visible to even the
most dense or insane ateva, and it was a calculated move on Galen‘s part to show
strength and control over the situation. What little he had, at least.

Winters fixed his bleary grey eyes on the bridge door, the acrid taste of bile hovering at
the back of his throat, nervous and anxious to get it over and done with. The prospect of
death did not frighten him anymore, not consciously at least. Galen had been through
enough lately to merit that attitude, and then some. Fate was fate, and luck was luck, and
Galen wasn‘t about to let either of those run his life. Even were he to die today, it would
be on his terms, his way.

Perhaps that cavalier attitude was arrogant, bordering on suicidal, but Galen didn‘t care
anymore. That freedom was worth more than life itself, and Galen knew all too well that
sometimes that price had to be paid.

He never even considered locking down the ship to prevent Salfiri‘s entry onto the bridge,
nor alerting the rest of his crew (granted, that only consisted of Ragnar) to the supposed
danger. They would meet life as he was doing: face into the wind, ready to accept the
consequences.

The gentle hum of hydraulics interrupted Galen‘s reverie, the hatch from the central
corridor opening to reveal the ebon-skinned ateva, who quickly ducked her head under the
threshold and entered. She had a slight hint of humility in her posture, though whether
that was from the constant reminder of her excess (on board Heart of Gold anyway)
height, or something else, Galen could not tell. The door shut behind her with equal
efficiency, and Salfiri took a few steps forward, maintaining enough distance to keep from
looming over Galen uncomfortably. The grey-eyed valertrez blinked once at how this was
going so far, before willing his mouth into action.

"Nand' Captain." Salfiri greeted him formally.

―Nadi,‖ he said softly but firmly, acknowledging her presence like a good Captain would, he
imagined. ―I believe you have something to tell me?‖ he stated more than asked, curiosity
piqued at the odd situation. The story that spilled from the ateva‘s ebon lips was much
odder than he even could have dreamed. He found himself pondering the request of his
security officer with a slack jaw and slowly blinking eyes.

Finally realizing that the pause had become decidedly uncomfortable, Galen tried to get his
mouth moving again, fumbling for the words for such a fragile moment. Standing up
straighter than he had in quite some time, Galen decided that this opportunity would not
go to waste.

―Salfiri, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have on board this ship than you. You
have performed your duties in exemplary fashion ever since you came on board, and have
followed my orders without question. You have taken initiative on behalf of yourself, and
this crew. You will always have a place in this crew, for as long as I am Captain.‖ he said
solemnly, stepping forward to offer his hand, almost tiny when compared to hers, but the
gesture warm nevertheless.
Posted by Salfiri on 20.06.2003 at02:32:



Salfiri could hardly fail to notice that Galen was obviously battle ready, and assuming that
he had had some hint of her situation - most likely from the Doctor - it was hardly
surprising. Anyone would wonder how someone in her position was going to align. Which
was why she'd come straight to speak with the Captain.

She stood there, still as an ebony statue, as the silence lengthened between herself and
the Captain. Did he understand what she was asking? Or was he trying to figure her out?
Would he refuse her, a touch of xenophobia showing through at the last minute? Many
ships would take on temporary crew outside of their own species, but preferred their
permanents to be whatever they were.

“Salfiri, I cannot think of anyone I would rather have on board this ship than you.
You have performed your duties in exemplary fashion ever since you came on
board, and have followed my orders without question. You have taken initiative
on behalf of yourself, and this crew. You will always have a place in this crew, for
as long as I am Captain.” he said solemnly, stepping forward to offer his hand, almost
tiny when compared to hers, but the gesture warm nevertheless.

Salfiri understood that the ceremonial hand-grasp was important to humans, a gesture of
greeting or agreement or the finalising of a deal. She had accepted the Captain's hand-
shake when she first came on board, and she did so now, her large, dark hand dwarfing
his own, though her grip was gentle, Galen could feel the potential strength in it. "Then,
felicitous gods willing, one trusts that you will always have command of the
Heart of Gold, Galen-ma." she replied, using a term of reference she had never before
used for Galen. The only other place he would have heard her use that suffix was 'Remo-
ma'. As always, the Babelfish was all but useless in interpreting the nuances of Ragi,
rendering it as 'sir'.

The tall Ateva released Galen's hand, grasping her own behind her back again, though she
relaxed her posture somewhat, though Salfiri tended to look like she was at attention and
on duty at all hours, which in some ways she was, given that she was the only Security
Officer on the ship. It was odd to hear the Captain praise her for performing her duties
well and following orders, any Lord of the Association would have expected no less, and
though she had held fealty to Remo, slackness would have been inexcusable regardless of
where she was working. But it would seem that she had made a good impression.

"If there is nothing further, Galen-ma?" She asked quietly. "One will speak with
nadi Ragnar about upgrading the firing range. A low-level plasma practice shield
is a standard accessory with the Phoenix Corps Rail Rifle, and it would no doubt
be safer to install it properly and connect it to the ship's systems." That way she
wouldn't be causing hull breaches when she put that particularly powerful piece of
weaponry into practice. The statement also answered questions about what the big box
she'd had delivered contained.




Posted by Donen Krell on 20.06.2003 at05:53:



After sending off his frantic warning to Galen, Donen stared helpless at his monitor trying
to puzzle out what Salfiri had said and what it might mean. She had pointedly stated,
"You will not find my ribbons in the cultural database, nand' Doctor," and the
Valertrez med spec was pretty sure…”Hell, I‟m damn sure I‟m missing something.
What the fuck does a gold ribbon mean, for God‟s sake?” he said aloud in his
frustration. And the instant the words left his mouth, he knew. ”Gold…Heart of Gold!
Shit! Salfiri is in Galen‟s man-chi. Donen you just made an idiot of yourself in
front of the Captain and probably just fucked up royally on some Atevi social
taboo with Salfiri again. Damn, damn, damn!” said Donen, his heart sinking into the
pit of his stomach as he let his forehead slump onto the monitor before him. He could feel
his cheeks coloring with embarrassment. Wonderful impression everyone will have of your
intelligence and intuition now, he thought, miserably.

After a few more moments of berating and feeling sorry for himself, he began thinking
about what it meant for an Ateva to be within the man-chi of Captain Winters and then
Donen‘s mind began racing again. That‟s crazy! How can an Ateva have man-chi with a
human? Humans don‟t have man-chi! There is nothing in this damn database about such
a thing…it doesn‟t happen, he thought, his headache beginning to come on full force. Don‟t
over analyze, Donen. If Salfiri is in Galen‟s man-chi, whatever the hell that means in this
case, it probably just means Salfiri is even more solidly behind Galen and the whole HoG
crew…that‟s a good thing, he thought, hopefully.

Then, finally steeling himself for what he felt was an inevitable tongue-lashing from the
captain for his probably needless panicky warning, Donen keyed the comm again to
apologize for giving Galen a bad analysis of Salfiri‘s situation. As he did, he was suddenly,
irrationally fearful that his information had led to a violent confrontation between the
captain and Salfiri. If it had, Donen knew he would fry in hell for it. ”Uh, Captain?
Everything all right up there? My analysis might have been a bit off, sir. I take
full responsibility for the error…. Oh, don‟t forget about the regen treatment for
your injuries,” he said weakly, feeling the damned fool.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 21.06.2003 at06:40:



For a long time, Ragnar stared into the perfect black around him, unsure as to whether or
not he was awake. Finally, he tried sitting up, and did so easily. He snatched his PDA up
from where he‘d placed it, switched it on, and found that he‘d been out for about five
hours.

Getting up, he found his body to be quite stiff and unresponsive. Getting to the floor, he
started stretching out his legs, sighing gratefully as he heard various joints crack free and
muscles loosen up for the day ahead of them. He could feel a massive gravity well growing
nearer in the back of his mind, which he was almost certain was Anuurn, and he felt that
he might need to be refreshed and prepared for whatever awaited them there. After all,
the captain had been knocked in the shoulder with a large blunt object last time he‘d gone
out, and shot in the damned leg the time before.

Bah..not like he‟ll let me out of the ship anyway, will he? “Sit and watch the fucking ship,
and don‟t kill anyone,” Galen said as he exited the bridge with the tall form of Salfiri close
behind. Donen was already waiting at the hatch for the two. …Damn, I should be a writer
or something.

Sighing, he stood up and continued to stretch his body out. Though not tired, he didn‘t feel
much like doing anything. Obligation held him fast, though. Even though he thought he
wouldn‘t have as much to do, his sense of duty brought him into motion. It was hard for
him to just sit around and be lazy when he was perfectly fine and capable of doing things
that needed to be done.

Heading out to the maintenance shop, which was right across from the medbay, he
intended to take care of some items on his to-do list. Like get to Donen‟s request for an
elongated med table..finish up the firing range..well, at least I have the bridge done.

Entering the bay tiredly, he once again stretched his arms out, yawned, and grabbed a
measuring tool for use in the medbay. He‘d need to know how wide the tables were. He
didn‘t bother alerting Donen of his presence when he entered the medbay, or about four
seconds later when he left.

Spending a few minutes with a plate of sheet ritelanium and the molding press, he quickly
formed an end piece. With a trained efficiently honed by years of experience, Ragnar
completed the end piece in just about a minute and a half, after which he used the small
fusion welder he had bought to seal the piece‘s flaps together.

Throwing the scraps of ritelanium into a large container (he hated to see good ritelanium
go to waste, and he thought he might use it one day for something), he headed across the
hall once again with the half-meter long ritelanium shell upturned in his hands. In it was
the small fusion welder, a level, and four precision support braces.

Entering the bay again, he made his presence known this time. ―Hey there, Donen..‖
Noting the distressed look on his friend‘s face as he set his things down and began to
calibrate the braces, he added, ―Something on your mind too, huh? We all fuck up, I
should know that..‖


Posted by Galen Winters on 22.06.2003 at03:14:



―Railgun? Yeah, that would be a good idea. Rags should be able to get the final touches
done on the range while we‘re en route to Anuurn. Hopefully we can get some range time
in before we get back on Lundquist‘s trail. I have a feeling that is going to be much
messier than I had initially thought. I should be back to full strength just in time to kick
this fiasco off. Maybe we can have a fully functional crew for once, Salfiri.‖ he said,
pausing a bit. ―Yeah, I know, but I can dream can‘t I?‖ he added pessimistically.

Rubbing his temples with his good hand, Galen allowed himself to relax somewhat, the
tension draining from his body slowly. ―Dismissed, nadi‖ he added easily, starting to get
the hang of this Captain thing at least. He watched her leave, the intricate braid of newly-
decorated ebon hair swaying gently with Salfiri‘s easy gait. It sparkled softly, flecks of light
dancing among the thick rope of silky night like stars. It was a far cry from the more
significant colors the ateva had worn scant hours before, but an altogether more felicitous
combination. Galen pondered his easy usage of that word a moment, before shrugging it
off and returning to his bridge tasks.

‖I like the hair, hon.‖ Goldie‘s voice announced from over his shoulder. ‖Nice to know I‘m
not the only girl around here who likes a change of pace.‖

Galen turned and found the holographic temptress floating there in much the same garb as
his security officer, black leather and chrome fittings in just the right proportions, though
Goldie‘s newest outfit was much more form-fitting than Salfiri‘s. Almost disturbing, or
amusing, depending on one‘s viewpoint, the ship‘s artificial intelligence had adopted a long
ateva-style braid as well, her ribbons mirroring that of the real one. She was not returning
his gaze, but was instead stretching and preening in her latest incarnation, trying it on for
size for her own benefit, not her master‘s.

―I wouldn‘t let her see you like that, Goldie. I don‘t know whether or not she‘d take it well‖
Galen mused darkly, hoping that he‘d never have to find out.

‖Awww, you‘re never any fun, Galen.‖ she pouted, before the glint returned to her
mischievous eyes. ‖How about this?‖ she asked impishly, before the outline of her digitally
projected body shifted and warped, reminding Galen uncannily of his last bender in orbit
around Capella.

Reforming swiftly, Galen‘s jaw nearly dropped at the sight that now confronted him. The
salacious AI had decided to put on a bikini. Well, bikini was the only word the
dumbfounded spacer could use to describe what she was wearing, since it covered just
enough of the requisite patches of skin to qualify for the designation. The fact that it was
made entirely of soap suds was almost too much to bear, and Galen had to adjust himself
before glowering at the holographic minx. ―Goldie!‖ he barked harshly.

Goldie‘s grin faded into a pout, before she shifted back into one of her only-slightly-less
revealing selections, a tight red silk dress slit to the hip on one side. ‖Hmmph! You
certainly seemed to enjoy it, even if you won‘t admit it to yourself. I swear, you need to
get laid, Galen. Seriously. Before you explode.‖ she chided him, scowling softly at her
Captain‘s seeming attack of morals.

Galen would have said something back, but he knew the collection of bits and bytes was
right, damn her. Sighing softly, Galen returned to his post, resuming the one task he knew
he could do without having to interact with her too much. The temperfoam seat sighed in
protest as he eased his battered body into the pilot‘s chair, his fingers darting over course
corrections and navigational computations, before the soft chirp of the comm interrupted
his routine. Listening to Donen‘s sheepish withdrawal of his earlier predictions of doom and
gloom, Galen could not help but chuckle softly. ―Thanks, Donen, we got things
straightened out. I‘ll be down to sickbay as soon as I get the autos and cloak engaged.
Winters out.‖

Galen leaned his head to the side, trying to realign an errant vertebra, a wet crunching
sound reporting only partial success. ―Oh well,‖ he said softly, gripping the control stick in
practiced hands as the Heart of Gold sped onward into the void, engines belching white
flame and hard gammas behind her, burying the recent past in trails of plasma.




Posted by Donen Krell on 25.06.2003 at01:45:



Listening to Donen‘s sheepish withdrawal of his earlier predictions of doom and gloom,
Galen could not help but chuckle softly. “Thanks, Donen, we got things straightened
out. I‟ll be down to sickbay as soon as I get the autos and cloak engaged.
Winters out.” The med spec relaxed a bit when he heard a hint of amusement in the
captain‘s voice, then cringed expecting the incident would make him the butt of jokes for
the foreseeable future.

Entering the bay again, Ragnar‘s previous entrance having been completely missed by the
preoccupied Valertrez medic, the mechanic made his presence known this time. “Hey
there, Donen…” he said amiably. Noting the distressed look on his friend‘s face as he set
his things down and began to calibrate the braces, he added, “Something on your mind
too, huh? We all fuck up, I should know that….”

”Hi Ragnar. Yeah, I fucked up, but I‟ll let Galen tell you the story,” said Donen
running a hand through his perennially tousled hair, to no effect. ”I‟m sure his version
would be much more entertaining,” he added cryptically, then quickly changed the
subject.

”Extending an exam bed for Salfiri? Wonderful!” said Donen, leaving his workstation
and sitting on a nearby exam bed as the mechanic worked. ”I didn‟t think you‟d have
time to work on my requisition with so much on your „To Do‟ database.”

”Listen, Ragnar…” said Donen, dropping his usual reserve. ”Aren‟t you just a bit
curious what Galen is up to with this stealthed gunboat? Well, maybe it‟s just
because all my other work was with asteroid miners, but I think it‟s odd that I‟m
not sure what business we‟re in. I mean, I‟m solid with everyone on the crew,
even with some people apparently out to get us and all. I just feel like I‟m
navigating blind through a nebula.” Donen wasn‘t sure that voicing his feelings was
the best thing to be doing at the moment, but hell, since he had already blown his cool
reserve why not spill it all.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 25.06.2003 at21:22:

 Look! It's Rags! ...Minus the blond highlights.
Kneeling down to set the first brace, he turned and raised a brow at Donen‘s first comment
about how he fucked up. Still working, he listened as Donen approached Ragnar from
behind and sat on a nearby table while continuing to speak.

‖I didn‘t think you‘d have time to work on my requisition with so much on your ‗To Do‘
database.‖ The doctor said somewhat humbly.

Ragnar snickered lightly. He was just about out of things to do for the moment, actually. I
might actually get some time to work out before we hit Anuurn..been wanting to do that,
actually. Nonchalantly, he said, ―Nah, it‘s no problem at all..all I really have left to do
around the place is finish that firing range and clean up that Caster Galen found for me..‖

After a period of silence, Donen said cautiously, ―Listen, Ragnar…‖

At that point, Ragnar turned around and stood up to listen to Donen who sounded like he
had something a little more serious on his mind at the moment.

―Aren‘t you just a bit curious what Galen is up to with this stealthed gunboat? Well, maybe
it‘s just because all my other work was with asteroid miners, but I think it‘s odd that I‘m
not sure what business we‘re in? I mean, I‘m solid with everyone on the crew, even with
some people apparently out to get us and all. I just feel like I‘m navigating blind through a
nebula.‖

The mechanic paused calibrating the second brace to think. He looked up at the med spec,
who seemed a little distraught. After a few seconds, he said, ―I suppose I know what you
mean. Winters sure is strapping us up with a lot of weapons..we picked up quite a load
back in The Hole there. Makes me a little wary about what we‘re doing. Not exactly sure,
but hell, you know I‘ve done enough on the other side of things for both of us. Even if we
are just couriers, we have been getting into some strange things from the beginning.
There is probably something going on, but it‘s understandable if he wants to keep some
things to himself. As long as he doesn‘t get the rest of us too far mixed up without telling
us, I think it‘s okay.‖

Returning to the brace, he casually added, ―But that‘s coming from an ex-gangster. My
views can be a little skewed..‖ Setting down the rest of the braces quickly, he used the
level to make sure the extension was even with the rest of the bed, which it was,
thankfully.




Posted by Donen Krell on 25.06.2003 at23:08:



“I suppose I know what you mean,” said the mechanic, pausing from his work.
“Winters sure is strapping us up with a lot of weapons…we picked up quite a load
back in The Hole there. Makes me a little wary about what we‟re doing. Not
exactly sure, but hell, you know I‟ve done enough on the other side of things for
both of us. Even if we are just couriers, we have been getting into some strange
things from the beginning. There is probably something going on, but it‟s
understandable if he wants to keep some things to himself. As long as he doesn‟t
get the rest of us too far mixed up without telling us, I think it‟s okay.”

”Well, alright then. That makes me feel better to know that it‟s all just my
problem,” Donen retorted sardonically, chuckling and shaking his head, and having failed
to pick up the meaning behind the mechanic‘s phrase ‘the other side of things‘.

Returning to the brace, Ragnar casually added, “But that‟s coming from an ex-
gangster. My views can be a little skewed…”

The med spec‘s expression didn‘t outwardly change after hearing the mechanic‘s
confession of previous lawless conduct began to sink in, but it did take Donen a few beats
to process the information. Donen wasn‘t exactly a prude, but he had lived a sheltered life
of sorts with his mothers and all their religious trappings. It divided the Valertrez‘s world
into stark contrasts of black and white; good versus evil. He didn‘t intellectually buy into
that reductionistic view of the universe, but it did tend to color his emotional overlay until
he could bring his mind to bear. …ex-gangster…that‟s good…I suppose, he thought, when
his brain came back online.

”Well, yes…I suppose that might just influence one‟s view of our current
circumstances,” said Donen, diplomatically, as his voice became operational again.
”How did you get into…and out of, that particular…uh, line of work? Unless you‟d
rather not talk of it…” added Donen, his innate curiosity winning out over the safer
vector of just leaving the topic alone.




Posted by Salfiri on 26.06.2003 at08:33:

 A wanted man, a gangster, an assassin and a... mammas' boy?

Rubbing his temples with his good hand, Galen allowed himself to relax somewhat, the
tension draining from his body slowly. “Dismissed, nadi” he added easily, starting to get
the hang of this Captain thing at least.

"Nand' Captain." Salfiri acknowledged, turned smartly on her heel and strode off the
bridge.

”I like the hair, hon.” Goldie‘s voice announced from over his shoulder. ”Nice to know
I‟m not the only girl around here who likes a change of pace.”

Did she like the change of pace? It was more a case of having no choice, this was the way
things were, the only alternative being to return to Shai-san and a network of strong man-
chi and try to forget the crazy humans and their ship. But she knew that she would prefer
to remain, and Captain Winters had confirmed that she was welcome as part of the crew,
so here she would stay.

Making short work of the distance to her quarters, Salfiri entered and retrieved the
oversized box from under her bed. It wasn't that it was particularly wide, but almost six
feet long and very heavy. She balanced it on her shoulder, stood up slowly, and slipped
out the door.

Standing in the corridoor, she directed a query at the air in general. "Goldie-daja, is nadi
Ragnar in his workshop?" She asked.

"No hon." Came the reply. "He's in sickbay having a gas-bag with the doctor while
he fixes one of the med beds." Goldie informed her laconically. "So that's what's in
the box, a rail rifle. Nice to know I'm not the only girl round here who likes her
toys, but you could have just told me."

"One did not deem it prudent at the time, Goldie-daja." Salfiri replied. And if Goldie's
first impulse was to wonder what she meant, surely Donen's earlier message to the
Captain would explain it.

"True, you managed to get both the Doc and the Captain pretty worked up as it
is. I don't know if I can stand the competition." The AI huffed theatrically.

Salfiri cocked her head to one side as though considering this. The the Babelfish made a
hash of the nuance but the Ateva had become sufficiently familiar with Goldie's nature that
she caught her meaning. "It is generally more efficient to combine efforts and work
together, Nokhada-baji."Salfiri said, full lips twisting in a wry smile. The words
translated literally as 'fiesty fortune', and since Salfiri had already declared that Goldie was
the embodyment of the baji-naji - Fortune and Chance - the Demon in the Design that
played hell with Atevi number theory and accounted for when things didn't go as, quite
literally, calculated. "One believes there are enough to go around." It would seem
that every race had these types, those who never outgrew their mainaigi impulses.
Carrying the box on her shoulder, long braid swaying as she walked, the eight and a half
foot Ateva made her way down to where the sickbay opened onto the walkway, and as the
door hissed open voices greeted her.

”Well, yes…I suppose that might just influence one‟s view of our current
circumstances,” said Donen, diplomatically, as his voice became operational again.
”How did you get into…and out of, that particular…uh, line of work? Unless you‟d
rather not talk of it…” added Donen, his innate curiosity winning out over the safer
vector of just leaving the topic alone.

She could see Donen leaning against a biobed while Ragnar worked on extending the one
opposite. "Nadiin." Salfiri greeted them. "One trusts one is not intruding [i]nadiin.
One wished to discuss a change regarding th firing range, at your convenience,
nadi Ragnar." She set the box she was carrying on a third bed and regarded the ship's
mechanic expressionlessly.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 27.06.2003 at04:20:

 Excusez-moi for the long-winded, meandering rant. ^^

Ragnar began powering up the small arc welder for use on the medbay. The regular bed
was two and a half meters long..with this extension, that‟ll make it an even three..should
be plenty enough for Salfiri, if I remember correctly.

Just then, he heard the door hiss open and the tall figure of Salfiri herself walk in with a
large parcel on her. Yup, looks about right.. he chuckled to himself. The hell‟s in the box,
though?

Ragnar turned back to Donen, though, when he said, ―Well, yes…I suppose that might just
influence one‘s view of our current circumstances,‖ said Donen, seeming to have a bit of a
hard time speaking. ―How did you get into…and out of, that particular…uh, line of work?
Unless you‘d rather not talk of it…‖ he finished awkwardly.

A million images of his past flashed through his mind in an instant. Let‟s get the hell out of
here..don‟t worry about it..that was too risky..what the hell?..where did they come from..
Finally, he gathered his own thought. So much to tell…

Again, the mechanic turned, but to listen to Salfiri speak this time. ―Nadiin.‖ Salfiri greeted
them. ―One trusts one is not intruding nadiin. One wished to discuss a change regarding
the firing range, at your convenience, nadi Ragnar.‖ She set the box she was carrying on a
third bed and regarded the ship's mechanic expressionlessly.

Ragnar decided to answer before the doctor had a chance. After all, it was his story he was
going to tell, wasn‘t it? ―I still have a couple things I‘d like to do to that firing range
anyway; it‘d be no problem if you went down there and helped me finish it. And don‘t
worry about interrupting, I was just about to tell Donen a little story. You can listen in, if
you don‘t mind hearing about me.‖

Taking a deep breath, and taking a seat in the middle of the medbay he was working on,
he looked at the ground for a few seconds, seemingly gathering his thoughts. After awhile,
he started slowly, as if he didn‘t know exactly what he was going to say. ―Well..I wasn‘t
really a gangster, as you both probably think of the word. Sure, we stole so we wouldn‘t
have to work. We broke the law, and all carried around maskers with a various assortment
of weapons wherever we went. But it wasn‘t like we were drug traffickers or some
organized crime unit or anything. More like the opposite, actually..

―Growing up in the Scorpions was real fun. You‘d think, being near Engreia headquarters,
that that big slum would be a better place… Yeah, I did have my friends, but it wasn‘t like
we could do much. We‘d just go about our daily business, which included avoiding the
outside as much as possible.
―I figure we were around 9 (13 or 14 Earth years) when we first saw Scorpion 5 in action.
When you live in a place like that, there are two types of people: those that accept the
outside world and avoid it constantly, and those that constantly need to be reassured that
they shouldn‘t be out there, that something might happen to them. We were the second
kind. And something did happen to us.

―We were just out and about, going to a random person‘s house to bug ‗em, when we
witnessed a drive-by shooting. Let‘s see..there were four of us there. I recall having to
explain the blood spattered on my clothes when I came home dumbfounded a few minutes
later. It really got to me, seeing it like that..probably just some random woman they hit up
for kicks, too. Surprised we weren‘t hit. That‘s when we started thinking about doing
something about assholes like that.

―Wasn‘t long before us four took things into our own hands. Started with one of us, I think
it was Maylor, taking his dad‘s plasma pistol and us going for a walk during the night
hours, just waiting for some mugger asshole to try and hit us up or something. Heh,
damn, we were stupid.. It sort of exploded from there..

―To shorten things up, several years passed by, and by then, we had a good 15 or 20
other guys to our names. We‘d do all sorts of things, like play as buyers and then ambush
dealers, or hit up gangs that prowled the station like they owned the place..and then we
did something we probably shouldn‘t have done, but we had to do.‖ By now, Ragnar had
started speaking louder and more surely, spouting words out fast enough to almost trip
over his tongue saying them.

―We discovered a big crime ring that had planted themselves there, and though they were
big and had connections outside the station, we hit ‗em anyway. You know, pushing the
limits of our existence and shit. So we gathered up all our resources, pooled together all
the guys we could, even hiring a couple freelancers, and took down everything and
everyone they had there in one night.‖ After saying that, he paused for a few seconds and
switched to a slightly somber yet still excited tone.

―Seems they had some connections after all..we were gonna lay it low for awhile, we‘d
gotten on the news too many times lately, so we decided to just chill in our usual spot,
some old warehouse that somebody forgot about on 5. Somebody must‘ve found out,
though. All of us were there one day, doing the usual, shooting competitions, cards,
sleeping, whatever. Big mob comes up to our main doors, blasts them to hell, and we‘re
just about cornered in the warehouse. We held ‗em off, but there‘s only so much you can
do against a group of heavily armed and armored guys. They were as well-prepared as a
special forces platoon. And for awhile, I thought they were Engreia, until I saw the guys
directing them and the vehicles they‘d used.

―So..they took us out. There were six of us left when we‘d finally forced them back. They
didn‘t seem satisfied with even that, though, so after we‘d all gotten out of jail, they got
four out of those six, even though we‘d regrouped and tried to get away from it… The only
one that‘s left besides me is Racen Hathro, who‘s on Beletchi taking care of some business
right now. He‘s out for blood now... I can say I‘m not going to leave you all, but I am
going to take care of one of the higher-ups that took us down eventually.‖

After another long pause, he lightened up with a small grin and said, ―Well, that‘s all for
today. If you want the elongated version, I‘ll write you a book. Any questions?‖ he said as
he prepared to fire up the arc welder.




Posted by Donen Krell on 27.06.2003 at23:00:



Donen was apparently lost somewhere in his own private world, and completely oblivious
to the Ateva‘s entrance into the med bay, as he asked Ragnar to elaborate on his nefarious
past, otherwise he wouldn‘t have asked within hearing of another crewmember. Silently,
he cursed himself for zoning out like that…it just wasn‘t professional, but the Valertrez was
on a steep, slippery slope of fuck-ups at the moment that showed no signs of abating.

For whatever reason, the mechanic decided to clue in Salfiri on his past at the same time
as Donen and poured out his story of teenage vigilantism. Oddly enough, the med spec
resonated with parts of the man‘s story himself. Because of his family‘s experience with
pirates periodically raiding the asteroid mines where his moms and friends worked, he had
gone through a stage where he wanted to be the biggest, baddest pirate-hunter around
and to single-handedly wipe out their menace from their sector. For whatever reasons, he
passed through that phase into an ethic of relatively firm non-violence, and from there
made the grand leap into healing the sick and injured.

Ragnar, it seemed, had lived out that particular fantasy for a while, and still had at least
one bit of unfinished business before he would leave it behind.

Hell, thought Donen. Maybe I still have some unfinished business myself. It felt damn
good to come out on top of those thugs that ambushed us in „The Hole,‟ he thought with
mixed emotions of satisfaction and revulsion. Just watch yourself, Donen! Don‟t fall off into
that self-righteous vigilante shit. Ragnar‟s story is enough of a warning for you…only two
of his gang still alive, and both of them are still hunting or being hunted….it‟s not a passion
you die old with, he cautioned himself, but felt much less judgmental, and even friendly
toward the hardworking mechanic.

The med spec wasn‘t exactly sure how to respond to Ragnar‘s confession and came out
with a lame, ”Thanks for the story, man. No questions now. Maybe later, though.
Who knows? You might even get me to spill some history.” Then he turned to
Salfiri, somewhat sheepishly. ”Sorry about giving the captain a false alarm about
your intentions, nand’ Salfiri. Guess I make a piss-poor ship‟s paid-hi, but I‟ll
keep working on it, if you‟re willing to give me pointers. No hard feelings, nadi?‖
he asked extending a hand.




Posted by Salfiri on 28.06.2003 at05:06:



Leaning against the edge of the bed she'd dropped her box on, Salfiri listened quietly as
Ragnar revealed a bit of his background, something he presumably wanted them to hear
or he would have held his silence.

After another long pause, he lightened up with a small grin and said, “Well, that‟s all for
today. If you want the elongated version, I‟ll write you a book. Any questions?”
he said as he prepared to fire up the arc welder.

Salfiri tilted her head to one side as though considering, watching Ragnar with the arc
welder. "One is curious as to the necessity, nadi Ragnar." She admitted. "One has
heard of po-lis, and there is always Engreia." Which might be a good point for the
space-bred Valertrez to remember that Salfiri was planet-born and bred, and had only
come to space in the last few months. "One assumes they did not frequent Scorpi-on
5." She said, pronouncing the name as best she could.

The med-spec wasn‘t exactly sure how to respond to Ragnar‘s confession and came out
with a lame, ”Thanks for the story, man. No questions now. Maybe later, though.
Who knows? You might even get me to spill some history.” Then he turned to
Salfiri, somewhat sheepishly. ”Sorry about giving the captain a false alarm about
your intentions, nand’/[i] Salfiri. Guess I make a piss-poor ship’s [i]paid-hi, but
I‟ll keep working on it, if you‟re willing to give me pointers. No hard feelings,
nadi?” he asked extending a hand.

Again that tilt of the head, a gesture that could mean a number of things but at this point
seemed to indicate that the Atevan Security Officer was trying to understand something,
usually past an almost incomprehensible dual language-cultural barrier. "'Hard feelings',
nadi Donen?" She asked. "One apologises, but the Babelfish appears to not be
functioning correctly, the translation offered makes little sense." She said, never
suggesting the fault was his.

Salfiri hadn't heard the alarm passed on by Donen to Galen, but she could guess. The
Doctor had picked up on just enough Atevi culture to get him into trouble. "One would
assume, nadi Donen, that in the case of a potential risk to a crew member, that a
warning would be conveyed or action taken. In this case it was unnecessary, but
you were not wrong to be concerned." she acknowledged. "However, the Captain
has accepted my offer to remain permanently as a member of his crew. Had he
not, I would have left at Anuurn and found other transport back to Shai-san." All
of which probably caused Ragnar - who had missed the entire drama, most of which had
happened inside the med-spec's head - no end of confusion.

"The paidhiin, nadi Donen, were specially selected from many applicants, and
spent years training for what would become a life's vocation. One does not
expect a paidhi's understanding after a few hours of study. But one is in the
unenviable situation of being the alien amongst people of the same cultural
background, and if you would willing to answer a question when needed, one
would be pleased to do the same." She said, and finally reached out to grasp the hand
he proffered, not seeing that the pause might be construed as hesitation. Her grip was no
less firm though gentle, her large hand dwarfing his as it did that of ever other
crewmember to date.

Prior to leaving Shai-san, her few previous experiences with aliens had been just that, they
had been the alien in a world of tall, gracious gods. Now it was her turn.




Posted by Donen Krell on 30.06.2003 at23:19:



Salfiri postured with a certain tilt of the head, a gesture that could mean a number of
things but at this point seemed to indicate that the Atevan Security Officer was trying to
understand something that didn‘t seem to translate well past an almost incomprehensible
dual language-cultural barrier. "'Hard feelings', nadi Donen?" she asked. "One
apologizes, but the Babelfish appears to not be functioning correctly. The
translation offered makes little sense," she said, never suggesting the fault was his.

”One hopes there was no infelicitous coupling…er, feelings, nadi Salfiri” attempted
Donen in Children‘s Ragi, with at least one significant mispronunciation.

"One would assume, nadi Donen, that in the case of a potential risk to a crew
member, that a warning would be conveyed or action taken. In this case it was
unnecessary, but you were not wrong to be concerned," she acknowledged.
"However, the Captain has accepted my offer to remain permanently as a
member of his crew. Had he not, I would have left at Anuurn and found other
transport back to Shai-san."

”Great! Wonderful, nadi!” said Donen. ”I‟m getting a much better understanding of
Atevi physiology, but the language and cultural differences are much more
daunting. I‟m glad you‟ll be around to answer my questions. I doubt I‟d ever be
able to be good enough as a real paid-hi though...I would probably create many
infelicitous numbers,” he admitted, having become a bit anxious about Salfiri not
shaking his outstretched hand.

"The paidhiin, nadi Donen, were specially selected from many applicants, and
spent years training for what would become a life's vocation. One does not
expect a paidhi's understanding after a few hours of study. But one is in the
unenviable situation of being the alien amongst people of the same cultural
background, and if you would willing to answer a question when needed, one
would be pleased to do the same," she said, and finally reached out to grasp the hand
he proffered, not seeing that the pause might be construed as hesitation. Her grip was no
less firm though gentle, her large hand dwarfing his as it did that of ever other
crewmember to date.

”Yes, one would be fish-bait…um, honored, nadi,” stumbled Donen, wincing through
his mispronunciation, but plowing bravely ahead undaunted in Children‘s Ragi.




Posted by Salfiri on 01.07.2003 at02:47:



On first meeting an Ateva, especially one trained in the protocol expected in the service of
a Lord of the Association, one might think Atevi cold, overly formal and eerily alien. But
one cannot judge a race by one individual, and back when first contact was made and
Humans and Atevi started interacting, Humans were struck instead by the similarities
between their races, and to their detriment they did not realise the differences.

And up until now Salfiri had been walking a knife's blade of duty, loyalty and a severe case
of being a fish out of water. Perhaps it was only natural that she deal with people in the
strictly formal manner that she was trained in. So her reaction might have come as
something of a surprise.

”One hopes there was no infelicitous coupling…er, feelings, nadi Salfiri” attempted
Donen in Children‘s Ragi, with at least one significant mispronunciation.

Salfiri laughed. A rich, melodic sound that seem to bring out the resonances of her deep
voice and echoed off the hard panels of the walls. "One asks your forgiveness, nand'
Doctor, but that was a most infelicitous mispronounciation." She said, using the
most polite form to indicate that there was no disrispect intended, but she was still
smiling. One thing Humans had discovered early on was that Atevi did have a sense of
humour, and indeed few qualms about making people the but of their jokes, though
perhaps Salfiri might be somewhat forgiving given her own situation.

"One is curious, nand' Doctor, as to why you wish to learn our language? Does
the translator not suffice?" she asked. Was he simply curious? He seemed to take a
genuine interest in the culture as well, though as she'd observes, he knew just enough to
make some serious mistakes. She was in a similar situation, which was the reason for her
usual caution and reserve.

Seeing that Ragnar had finished his welding, she drew one of her ritalanium blades - tiny
in her large hand - and slashed the packing straps on the plastic container sitting on the
bed she'd been leaning against. Lifting the lid revealed a smaller case for transporting
something, and an object that looked like an oversized soup tin and had a number of small
hatches and a key panel. There was an instruction booklet stuck to the back of it. It was
this she lifted out, and it was obvious from the way she did so that it was heavy, even for
an Ateva.

"R-20 CDX Plasma Practice Shield." She read from the section of the booklet that was
in Ragi. "Suitable for use with plasma projectile weapons up to type-II hand-held
plasma canon. For type-III and above we recommend the R-30 CDXS Plasma
Practice Shield." She raised one eyebrow faintly, scanning the rest of the instructions,
then set it down on the biobed. "One would suggest that it be made a permanent
part of the firing range, nadi Ragnar, if this is possible."

Then she reached back into the crate and pulled out the case inside, setting it down on the
bed and snapping the catches, throwing the lid back and examining the contents with a
practiced eye. It wasn't assembled, but it was painfully obvious what it was. A Sunburst
Rail Rifle, Phoenix-Corp make judging by the logo imprinted on the main housing, along
with a collection of shall magazines and even a bandolier to hang them off if you ran out of
room on your belt.
With an ease that belied experience Salfiri pulled the various components out of the case
and fitted them together, and within a minute she had a fully assembled rail rifle in her
hands, which she held with the same ease a human might carry an assault rifle. She
peered at it critically, turning it this way and that, before finally nodding. "Given our
recent experiences one thought a higher level of firepower would be prudent,
nadiin." she explained.

And the advantage was obvious. Rail rifles were big, unwieldy things, easy enough to carry
if you had to, but you couldn't run and fire the things with any kind of accuracy, not like an
assault rifle which was designed for it. Rail rifles, like sniper rifles, were really meant to be
used from a stationary position, either set up on a tripod like the fully-automatic rifles of
the first three world wars, or carried, and then the average wielder would stop, brace
themself, fire a brief round and move on. Of course, the average wielder wasn't eight and
a half feet tall and built like an amazon. The ease with which Salfiri handle the rifle as she
inspected it made it obvious that she would have no trouble carrying it.




Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 01.07.2003 at08:49:



―One is curious as to the necessity, nadi Ragnar. One has heard of po-lis, and there is
always Engreia. One assumes they did not frequent Scorpi-on 5.‖ She ended, having a bit
of a hard time pronouncing a couple of words but managing to convey her message.

The Valertrez mechanic nodded to Salfiri. ―Engreia was pretty absent from the stations,
which was ironic, since they were so damned close..‖ Sighing, he went back to the arc
welder, and brought it to life silently. The almost invisible flame leapt a half inch out of the
forged tip.

After another second, Ragnar quickly and quietly bonded the two sections without leaving
more of a seam than a small smudge on the plating. He tried listening to Donen and Salfiri
talk, but it mostly escaped him. He could make out that Donen was trying to learn about
the Atevi, but little more. When he finished, he casually turned and sat on the extension,
making sure the bond had sealed completely, which it had.

After she finished talking to Donen, Salfiri deftly drew out her plasma shield and read
Ragnar the basics about what it was. ―One would suggest that it be made a permanent
part of the firing range, nadi Ragnar, if this is possible. Given our recent experiences one
thought a higher level of firepower would be prudent, nadiin.‖

Grinning at her last comment, Ragnar said, ―Yeah, judging by what‘s happened to us the
past few times we‘ve hit port, I can see what you‘re getting at.‖ Speaking of which, I‟m
going to have to buy some stuff of my own when we get to Anuurn, I believe.. ―I‘ll be sure
to put that shield in right away so you can use that railgun. In fact, let‘s go and do that
right now, if you wouldn‘t mind carrying it.‖ He ended with a grin, knowing it‘d be quite a
task to haul the large thing all the way to the range.

(zips to ‗Fuzzy Memories‘)

(Oh, and Sarah, serious props to ya for RPing Sal! @.@)




Posted by Donen Krell on 01.07.2003 at17:33:



Salfiri laughed. A rich, melodic sound that seemed to bring out the resonances of her deep
voice and echoed off the hard panels of the walls. "One asks your forgiveness, nand'
Doctor, but that was a most infelicitous mispronunciation." She said, using the
most polite form to indicate that there was no disrespect intended, but she was still
smiling. One thing humans had discovered early on was that Atevi did have a sense of
humour, and indeed few qualms about making people the butt of their jokes, though
perhaps Salfiri might be somewhat forgiving given her own situation.

Donen was embarrassed at having made a mistake in pronouncing the little bit of Ragi he
had picked up so far, but receiving Salfiri‘s laughter at his expense seemed a far lesser
alternative than seriously botching the Ateva‘s language and not being laughed
at…especially given that this particular Ateva was a formal applicant to the Atevi Assassins
Guild and currently shouldering a huge railgun as if it were a simple plasma rifle. In that
light, laughter was by far the better alternative, so apart from a momentary blush at his
mistake, the Valertrez med spec joined in the laughter at his own expense.

"One is curious, nand' Doctor, as to why you wish to learn our language? Does
the translator not suffice?" she asked. Was he simply curious? He seemed to take a
genuine interest in the culture as well, though as she'd observes, he knew just enough to
make some serious mistakes. She was in a similar situation, which was the reason for her
usual caution and reserve.

Salfiri‘s question to him was a damned good one, prompting Donen to reflect on the
answer, not only to respond but also to answer the same question for himself. Why had he
suddenly become so engrossed in not only Atevi physiology, which was simply his job as
ship‘s doctor, but also in Atevi culture and the Ragi language, the language of the ruling
association on the Atevi homeworld? Salfiri turned to Ragnar to discuss the practice range
modifications before Donen could respond but it was just as well, since he needed the time
anyway to formulate his response.

”I led a pretty sheltered life among the Valertrez asteroid miners in Alkes Field,
nadi,” said Donen after the conversation between Salfiri and Ragnar waned, using a more
familiar form of address to indicate that that no offense was taken from Salfiri‘s laughter at
his mistake. ”One of my reasons for leaving Alkes Field and signing on to the Heart
of Gold was to encounter the wider universe…to see new things, experience new
people and new cultures, and to learn new things. You are the first non-human I
have ever met and I am not content to remain ignorant of your culture…and
perhaps like the paidhiin I see the language of your people to be a key to
understanding, and therefore the translator is not sufficient for that purpose, and
I must seek to learn what I can,” he continued, acknowledging for himself the truth of
the revelation to himself, and the likelihood that he might feel the same toward other
spacefaring races as well, for similar reasons. ”But please promise me that you won‟t
let me speak adult Ragi until I‟ve master the children‟s version and begin to
understand something of Atevi number theory…I value my life, nand’ Salfiri” he
said smiling, tongue in cheek, hoping that Salfiri would forgive the joke on the Atevi
culture of using legal assassination to seek redress for insults occurring as a result of the
use of infelicitous numbers or inappropriate modes of address.




Posted by Salfiri on 02.07.2003 at04:59:



The Valertrez mechanic nodded to Salfiri. “Engreia was pretty absent from the
stations, which was ironic, since they were so damned close..” Sighing, he went
back to the arc welder, and brought it to life silently.

Judging by places like the Alkes Hole and Scorpion 5 as Ragnar described it, Engreia's
resources were stretched pretty thin. Of course, lawless hold-outs like those always found
a way to exist, even if it was on the wild edge of a hunting preserve or in the unwatched
corners of an Industrial estate. There was a thriving black market on Shai-san that was
impossible to control. Admitedly most of the trading was in contraband alien imports, since
there was almost no control on weaponry. All Atevi hunted, even if only on their holidays,
and no self-respecting family didn't own a rifle.
”I led a pretty sheltered life among the Valertrez asteroid miners in Alkes Field,
nadi. One of my reasons for leaving Alkes Field and signing on to the Heart of
Gold was to encounter the wider universe…to see new things, experience new
people and new cultures, and to learn new things. You are the first non-human I
have ever met and I am not content to remain ignorant of your culture…and
perhaps like the paidhiinI see the language of your people to be a key to
understanding, and therefore the translator is not sufficient for that purpose, and
I must seek to learn what I can."

Salfiri raised an eyebrow faintly. She hadn't realised that Donen had never met a member
of another sentient species before, which might explain the reaction.

”But please promise me that you won‟t let me speak adult Ragi until I‟ve master
the children‟s version and begin to understand something of Atevi number
theory…I value my life, nand’ Salfiri”

"One is given to understand that the conceptual differences far outweigh the
grammatical ones between our languages nadi," Salfiri said carefully, "and one is
willing to answer questions, as one has said." She added, obviously feeling her way
around what she was trying to say, working with the limitations of the translator. "One
recommends remaining with the Children's language while you learn, as you
would know it implies an impared speaker and people will not take offence. That
is safest nadi." She wasn't certain as to what exactly he was asking of her, though it was
plain the issue was important to him, or seemed to be. Humans had such expressive faces.

"One has encountered members of other races before nadi Donen, but before
leaving Shai-san one never had to live within another culture." However much
culture could be said to exist on a ship with four crewmembers. She tilted her head to one
side, as though considering something. "One trusts that any infelicitous actions
would be pointed out before one repeats them." she said quietly.

[insert gun talk]

Grinning at her, Ragnar said, “Yeah, judging by what‟s happened to us the past few
times we‟ve hit port, I can see what you‟re getting at. I‟ll be sure to put that
shield in right away so you can use that railgun. In fact, let‟s go and do that right
now, if you wouldn‟t mind carrying it.” He ended with a grin, knowing it‘d be quite a
task to haul the large thing all the way to the range.

Salfiri nodded. "One moment, nadi." She dismantled the rail rifle in a flash, packed it
back into it's case, and piled that and the shield generator into the packing case they'd
come in before hoisting all of the above back onto her shoulder. "Nand' Doctor." she said
in farewell, and followed Ragnar and his welding kit out the door. (And into the new
thread)

[OOC] LOL Thanks.     I have a great time with her, thanks for playing along. *Loves the
quality posty goodness she gets from this crew.*[/OOC]

				
DOCUMENT INFO