VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 61 POSTED ON: 9/20/2011
28.06.2003 – 12.05.2004 Posted by Galen Winters on 28.06.2003 at03:14: Fuzzy Memories Galen‘s fingers darted over the various controls with much alacrity now, the regen unit Donen had used upon him working as advertised, the mended collarbone under the left shoulder of his flight suit still itching a bit, but functional. The two weeks flight time to Anuurn had given him, and the crew, a much needed break from the frenetic pace they had been keeping up for nearly a month. The crew was healed, and even Galen had lost the bags under his eyes, though his sleep had still been fitful and broken. Strange new dreams had stirred up old nightmares long forgotten, mixing with them in strange and disturbing combinations. He had seen Elena die four times in one sleep cycle, and grumbled his way through his watch without putting more than four words together at a time. Even Goldie had been wary of him that day, though thankfully his ill mood passed with one of the few peaceful night‘s sleep he had gotten during their voyage. Now as they neared the end of their journey, if not the mission at hand, Galen‘s experience and instincts took over, drowning the doubt and worry in procedure and protocol. The fact that he was much too familiar with that aspect, for this system, was one of those nagging worries that he had banished subconsciously. Punching up the ship‘s intercom, the grey-eyed valertrez put on his game face, doing his level best to project calm and clear-headedness to the crew, and more importantly himself. ”All hands, we‟ll be going sub-luminal in a few moments, folks. Arrival stations in twenty. Captain out.” he said curtly, letting the comm fall silent again. Taking hold of the manual controls, Galen‘s left thumb found the fat toggle switch for the interphase drive sitting right where it was supposed to on the right side of the T handle. Grey, unblinking eyes watched the video terminals, and their displayed readouts, dance in amber and green luminescence, numbers, figures and readings changing by the second until all was ready. With a soft click, the switch shifted under his thumb, the blue and red shift of the star field in his video displays grinding to a halt in moments, their normal white and yellow hues coming back to them like a fading blush. Galen elected not to cloak the ship, given the rather harsh treatment that Hani typically dispensed to pirates who misbehaved in their territory. He neither wanted to be mistaken for one, nor did he feel threatened in the least by one. Even if something did happen, the miscreants would have to deal with his entire clan. Clan? Galen asked himself silently, the idle thought fading out of existence as quickly as it had manifested. Shaking his head to clear any cobwebs that he hadn‘t noticed, Galen called up the in-system approach maps, and the transponder net around their destination. Mining vessels, traders, converted Han police ships, and various other attendant clutter and flitters which came with being the center of an entire dominion. Anuurn beckoned like a blue green jewel, shining brightly against the velvet cloak of the void, enticing the equally beautiful ship onward. Almost forgetting, and chiding himself for doing so, Galen activated the transponder for the Heart of Gold, immediately reporting his identification code, location and other pertinent information to Anuurn Gateway, the central point of control for the entire star system. Several seconds of lag ensued, before Heart of Gold appeared on his own data feed from Anuurn control. Checking the approach lanes, he was relieved to find that there were no other ships in the vicinity; none with active transponders anyway. Running blacked out around a densely populated system like this was hardly a smart move, and the Han saw to it that that point was vigorously driven into the brainpan of every pilot in their jurisdiction. Fines were known to run into the tens of thousands of deccas, so pretty much everyone played by the rules, or ran a tremendous risk in not doing so. Aside from the sheer dumb luck of getting run into by someone who didn‘t know they were there, there was also the fact that hani patrols tended to be a bit more aggressive than even Engreia was. Engreia was dangerous out of sheer brute force, and occasional incompetence. The Han law was worse off, funding-wise, but far more competent and lean because of it. Dishonest, or imbecilic, commanders were not very long for their posts, even if they got promoted there at all. They had even spaced a few in recent memory. No where did that come from Galen thought, trying to push it off on something na Toren had said once about restoring proper discipline. At the time, he thought nothing of it, but upon reflection now, Galen came to the striking, and coincidentally correct, conclusion that Toren Rahel had been on the receiving end of such stricture more than once in his life. Again shooing at the nagging problem in his head like an annoying insect, Galen pulled up the raw comm feed from in system, a dozen conversations zipping back and forth between the ships and other locations planet- and station-bound. It was a jumble, mostly in Llunurn, and Galen eased back into the pilot‘s chair, eyes closed and a smile on his face. The jumble of words came through unfiltered, and it sounded like . . . home. Galen thought nothing of it, nor did he have time to, the general comm channel for the gateway station crackling to life in his ear. ”Heart of Gold, Gateway control. State your destination,” came the voice, a lilting hani female voice again familiar to Galen for some reason, her diction precise and clear, but still conveying warmth and welcome in her native tongue. ”Gateway Control, Heart of Gold. We are destined to Anuurn Gateway and from there planetside. Requesting an approach vector and docking clearance in a class three passenger bay. No cargo to declare to Customs either.” Galen added, a courtesy to not have the fine bean counters send unneeded personnel down to inspect something that wasn‘t there. There was a pause as the control technician pondered the total lack of wait between her transmission in Llunurn and the response she got in galactic-standard English. Usually the translators had to chew on hani language for several seconds before matching the phonic groupings and sentence structure to the dialect, and the actual message before a translated version came through. The delay had shown up on her end, but not Galen‘s. Must be one of those new supercomputer translation rigs she‘d heard about. Shaking this off much like the human on the other end of the comm was with his own troubling minutiae, the female opened the link again. ”Heart of Gold, you are cleared for approach to Anuurn Gateway, slow to zero point zero five C, approach vector seventeen, docking bay twelve. Welcome to Anuurn.” she said efficiently, before switching to another channel to speak to a departing comet miner about the delays he was enduring because of faulty equipment on an incoming freighter, not even hearing Galen‘s acknowledgment, nor needing to. Linguistic oddities aside, he seemed competent enough over the comm. Closing the channel from his end, Galen resumed his piloting duties, stick and throttle moving smoothly in his practiced hands, the sub-light drive engines belching white flame into the void, minor course corrections done now on instinct, more than conscious thought on Galen‘s part. Heart of Gold‘s design made his job much easier than most pilots‘, and he knew he‘d be the envy of many if they ever got a hand at the helm. Too bad no one outside the crew ever will he thought with utter insincerity, a faint smile twisting his lips. ----- The braking thrusters fired one more time, their forward progress slowed to scant meters per second, the dull grey hull plating of Anuurn gateway marred only by the various dots and blocks of light, their destination bay one of these, a gaping maw which would encompass the dimensions of Heart of Gold with a bare five meters to spare on all sides. The tiniest of margins, really, Galen‘s hands the only thing keeping them from doing substantial damage to both ship and station. For some reason, this part always felt naughty to Galen, the obvious sexual connotations of the maneuver pulling a soft chuckle from him, before another signal or thruster firing demanded his attention once more. The bay technicians looked up and stared a few moments, the appearance of their latest visitor something of an oddity, even to hani who saw strange ships on a daily basis. It looked like the void had taken shape and was intruding upon their well-lit and clean station, an ebon needle sliding into place with deliberate patience and grace, the custom- designed pulsar gunboat looking like it was superluminal even when standing still. Once stopped, the hatches on the bottom of the vessel opened, marring the obsidian perfection that was her form, landing legs extending down as the Heart of Gold settled into her latest nest. A soft clang announced touchdown, both to the dock crew, and to the ship‘s own, Galen‘s fingers dropping the reactor to bare minimum output in preparation for shutdown, the lights dimming ever so slightly in response. ”We‟re here, folks. Once power gets hooked up, get everything stowed and locked down for our stay and meet me in the ready room.” Galen said over the intercom, the docking crew even now hooking up the large black cable to the receptacle housed on the port landing leg. ”Goldie, if you wouldn‟t mind telling the Customs crew that we‟ll be ready to debark in about an hour?” he added, extricating himself from the temperfoam seat easily, pacing back to his quarters to change to more suitable attire for dockside. Rummaging through the various oddities he had bought before leaving Scorpion Seven, Galen settled on a black syntheleather vest, along with black slacks and a grey silk shirt, looking quite serious without being too intimidating. His caster hung from his right hip, not tight, but not out of control hanging from his hip either. Open displays of weapons were not uncommon given recent events, especially here. Being an outworlder didn‘t exactly instill confidence in non-hani, and they took advantage of the loose dress code more than the locals did. With a quick inspection in the mirror, Galen hmmphed approvingly, and headed into the ready room through the convenient door from his quarters, settling into his place easily, feeling nervous, but still confident in their goal, if not the ground in between it and them. Posted by Salfiri on 03.07.2003 at04:37: Integrating the plasma practice shield into the firing range had been no problem for Ragnar's mechanical expertise, Salfiri providing the heavy lifting ability simply because it was quicker than dragging in a hoist, and now the range was proof against everything up to a heavy duty plasma canon. Finishing a couple minor software tweaks for Goldie to fully adapt her to her new 'body' left the Ateva with a lot of spare time. Most of this was spent either working out using her training droid and gravitational distorter, or on the firing range. It was always obvious when she was using the rail rifle, the resounding boom as the plasma-filled shells impacted into the practice shield reverbrated throughout the ship. They'd tested the shield with a plasma pistol and an assault rifle first, but it was as good as the manufacturers promised. She was on the range when the announcement came through, feeling all the better for the time in subspace, where for what seemed like the first time since joining this crew, they hadn't all either been in fear for their lives or running around like spooked patchikiin. Her hand had healed leaving no trace of the injury, and she'd become more accustomed to her surroundings, ducking the hatch lintels almost without thinking now. She sighted down the barrel of the rifle, it's charging cell humming away near her ear, when her headset sprang to life, the same message echoing over the PA system. ”All hands, we‟ll be going sub-luminal in a few moments, folks. Arrival stations in twenty. Captain out.” Lowering the rifle, Salfiri flicked the safety on and hit the button which would drain the plasma charge from the shells currently in the breech, before shutting the whole thing down and racking it along with the ship's assortment of assault rifles. A quick set of commands on the control console and the range powered down, the red warning strobe outside the entrance flicking off. ------- ”We‟re here, folks. Once power gets hooked up, get everything stowed and locked down for our stay and meet me in the ready room.” Salfiri had felt the shift to station gravity and noticed the dimming of the lights and the reduction in background noise that indicated the reactor shutting down. It didn't take her long to ensure that her few possessions were locked down, and the firing range had been left in a suitably secure manner. She didn't doubt the others were checking areas near them that had been in use recently, but the truth of the matter was that a crew of four on a ship designed for a crew of 18 didn't make a lot of mess. Doing the zip of her jacket up to close the collar and tugging it to sit more neatly, Salfiri glanced quickly in the mirror, but her uniform was, as usual, immaculate. Characteristic weapons belt in place, she turned on her heel and out the door of her quarters, which were almost directly opposite the Captain's ready room anyway, so it was hardly surprising that she was the first one there bar Galen himself. "Nand' Captain." She acknowledged with her customary bow in the doorway, then took up her accustomed spot against the wall, the chairs being to small and her having run out of cushions. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 03.07.2003 at07:15: Ha, Steve gets to be last! XD ―All hands, we‘ll be going sub-luminal in a few moments, folks. Arrival stations in twenty. Captain out.‖ Ragnar heard the captain‘s announcement from the spare enlisted quarters. There, he was doing one of numerous training sessions with his gravitation distorter and, as he‘d done every so often, his sword. He‘d used one of the bolted-down beds as a pull-up bar, and used that quite often as well. His purpose was not only to maybe put on some muscle and use his sword better, but also to get a little more used to the change in gravity he would be experiencing on his journeys, namely their upcoming stop at Anuurn. At first, it would take him awhile to get used to the changes, and he couldn‘t increase the gravity by much. After about a week, though, he began getting a little more used to things. He could alter the gravity from their cozy .7 G to .85 before really feeling any effects, which he thought was good. Breathing in deeply and wiping the sweat off his brow, he reached the distorter and turned it off. After they dropped out of cruising speed, he‘d need to take a shower or something to get ready for their trip. In the two weeks following their takeoff from The Hole, he‘d gotten quite a bit done. Aside from the medbay, he‘d finished up the firing range to his liking and added the railgun shield with the help of Salfiri, and restored and customized the beat-up Caster captain Winters had given him, as well as making a holster for the thing. He also felt a lot better in general, despite constantly testing his body‘s gravity flux limits. His arm was completely healed, thankfully, and his psyche, though being tested by Goldie too often for his liking, had healed to normal form. However stable ‗normal‘ was. And though he hadn‘t heard from his friend Racen for awhile, he oftentimes dreamed he was a kid again, on the streets and kicking ass. That was one of a few reasons he felt the need to buy some more firepower for his travels; he wanted to have them at his disposal whenever, like he used to. After the mechanic took a quick shower, he threw on his work clothes again (the same pair of light blue denim jeans and a random shirt; this one happened to be the hunter green sleeveless shirt he‘d worn on his first trip to the Yamato, renamed the Heart of Gold) and headed for his arrival station at the heart of the ship. Which was the reactor, of course. ―We‘re here, folks. Once power gets hooked up, get everything stowed and locked down for our stay and meet me in the ready room.‖ Galen said over the intercom with a somewhat businesslike tone. Go time, Ragnar thought. After they had made it safely to the dock, and he had powered the reactor down, the Valertrez mechanic made the short walk to his room to prepare for going out in what he deemed ‗appropriate attire,‘ which was whatever he felt like at the moment. He never thought much about what he wore. After quickly pulling on a pair of snug black jeans, he then laced up his black boots while searching his small selection of shirts. Right after he finished tying, he reached up and got a cobalt blue V-neck shirt out to wear. The Valertrez put on a somewhat more businesslike face when he put the belt containing his Newmarke energy pistol on his waist, with the gun hanging from his left hip. He adjusted the homemade holster wrapped around his Caster (which had loops for all of the filters he planned to buy) so it fit snugly along his thigh, and tilted slightly forward for quick access. Finally, he took his shimmering black SL jacket from its position hanging on the bunk nearest the door, cast it over his left shoulder, and headed for the captain‘s ready room. He wore a steely expression to accompany his hard gunmetal eyes, a more expressive face than he usually used, but he didn‘t know what they were going to do. It had crossed his mind before that they might not be thinking what he was expecting, and that he‘d walk into a room full of well-dressed guys geared up for a business trip when he had firearms about him, but he‘d forgotten about that. Upon entering the room, he was quite relieved to see both Galen and Salfiri with weapons. His resolve lightened a bit; after all, he didn‘t want anyone thinking him ‗too intense‘ or some such. ―Afternoon..‖ he said to both of them as he took a seat and laid his jacket in his lap. Posted by Donen Krell on 04.07.2003 at03:15: Bah! Some of us have to work for a living! :p With the new micro regen unit, that little marvel of medical engineering, Donen‘s work became mundane and he began to have the feeling that his presence was almost superfluous. Everyone‘s injuries healed very rapidly, and even Salfiri‘s wounds with her alien physiology, showed significantly accelerated healing. One advantage of the device, from Donen‘s perspective, was that it did provide him with an overabundance of free time, which the Valertrez med spec put to a variety of uses. He, of course, continued his study of Atevi physiology using the data Salfiri had given him and supplemented it with deeper research of material available through medical resources he could access off the Net. He also continued his studies of Ragi and the Atevi culture, and also arranged periodic discussions with Salfiri to help fill out his understanding with her more personal touch. His expertise with Children‘s Ragi improved greatly (he‘d always been a quick study) and his vocabulary had expanded enough to be able to actually connect with Net resources with the university at Shai-san on the Atevi homeworld, both to expand his knowledge of the Atevi language, culture and physiology, and to deepen his study of the Atevi discipline of Sarafin. Of course that meant that he‘d had to start learning some formal Ragi as well, which proved disconcertingly much more difficult. The formal language included a confusingly complex system for keeping track of felicitous and infelicitous numbers, with multiple conjugations of verbs, nouns, adjectives and the like depending on the numbers involved. No singular/plural simplicity for Atevi, where the numbers were paramount…there seemed an almost limitless number of plurals that twisted sentences into pretzels in Donen‘s mind. In frustration, he had asked Salfiri a number of times how she managed to keep things straight without a wrist DB for doing the math. She had just laughed at him and had said that doing complex math in one‘s head came naturally to Atevi. Needless to say, Donen vowed to stick with Children‘s Ragi when speaking…it signified an impaired speaker, did not utilize the complicated numerology of the formal adult version of the language and wouldn‘t offend Atevi listeners with infelicitous conjugations of plurals. Sometimes, during his conversations with Salfiri, he would bring along one of his sewing projects. He‘d learned the basics of sewing from his mothers who were always pinching deccas because of the narrow margins asteroid miners usually operated under…the legendary big strikes of heavy metal rich ores were just that, legend. The reality was much less dramatic and far less lucrative, but rumors of the very rare ―mother lode‖ asteroids still fueled everyone‘s hope for the big, lucky strikes that would set a family up for life. Anyway, he‘d acquired his sewing skills early, dumped them quickly as a teen when he‘d discovered that sewing wasn‘t exactly a cool skill for adolescent males, but picked it up again after his medical training. He‘d learned that old-fashioned, planet-bound Terran surgeons used to take up sewing as a hobby to keep their surgical and suturing skills up and he found that the practice deed indeed keep his fingers nimble. (So it appeared that Terrans had been good for some things anyway.) Donen had purchased a few rolls of Nyfilas fabric as a big splurge back at Stargazer station, but hadn‘t had a chance to work on much until the lull in activity on the way to Anuurn. He wasn‘t exactly sure what Salfiri thought of his projects, but he damned well wasn‘t going to advertise his sewing work for the amusement and teasing he‘d expected from Galen or Ragnar. Salfiri on the other hand, with her species‘ natural reserve, seemed a safer companion during his creation of several outfits out of the exotic fabric, which Donen thought were quite stylish, and Salfiri had commented that one solid black outfit in particular reminded her of similar clothing worn by members of the Assassins Guild in covert operations which had really made Donen‘s day. The young Valertrez also continued to work on his skills with delirium and sarafin: something he worked on in the practice range when others were not using their energy weapons. It was one place on board ship where such displays would not short out the ship‘s electronics. He also put in time with his training droid and the gravitational distorter: the later being his least favorite activity. As much as Donen looked forward to seeing the homeworld of another alien species—the Hani—at Anuurn, he still hated living and working in high gee. He sometimes asked Ragnar if he could borrow the mechanic‘s space suit and went EVA just to get free of even the ship‘s lower than average gee. ------- Donen was in the med bay at his workstation when Galen‘s voice came out over the comm system. ”All hands, we‟ll be going sub-luminal in a few moments, folks. Arrival stations in twenty. Captain out.” The med spec spent the time stowing his gear in the med bay, and twenty minutes later Galen come on again. ”We‟re here, folks. Once power gets hooked up, get everything stowed and locked down for our stay and meet me in the ready room.” Donen then occupied the remainder of his time stowing his stuff in his cabin and changing into the outfit Salfiri had said looked like Assassins Guild issue and then headed for the ready room where he found he was the last to arrive. He found a seat and settled in, waiting for the captain to begin his briefing, and hoping not to have incurred Galen‘s wrath for being late. Posted by Galen Winters on 13.07.2003 at21:26: I'm still here, folks, enjoy the week's worth of postage... The master of the Heart of Gold regarded the well-rested crew with a bit of pride, their mood and appearance having improved markedly during the two weeks‘ transit to Anuurn. Granted this was more the absence of their all-too-recent debacles and misadventures to keep them harried and distracted. Also granted was the fact that it had been mostly his fault, and quite certainly his responsibility as well. Sighing just enough to be audible, Galen set that aside for the moment, once again subverting his concerns and worries to get the job done. ”We‟re finally here. Time to get this job done and over with. What I need now is for you all to stay on your toes. Hani, Mahdi,” he corrected himself, the word‘s implications still not sitting well with him for some reason, ”space is quite a bit different than the rest of the civilized systems. There are things we can get away with that most legitimate businessmen couldn‟t even dream of, but by the same token, there are things that could get us killed without a moment‟s hesitation. Salfiri, if you could get looking for our friend the doctor‟s trail. Donen, you might be of some help, since you‟re able to think like him a little bit. Rags, I need the dropship prepped and ready to go on a moment‟s notice. Using TPTs to get to the surface isn‟t really an option, given the reorganization going on. Security is going to be tight, and if we get caught with anything, I doubt the locals will look very favorably upon it. Being a bit on the grey side as far as that whole good and evil thing isn‟t going to help either.” he concluded, doing absolutely nothing to settle Donen‘s questions about his choices either. ”As for me, I‟m going down to station central to see about the clearances, and finalizing docking arrangements. This is going to be delicate, so try not to call me unless its absolutely urgent. I‟m hoping to get us clear to drop by the end of the watch, but I don‟t know how easy it‟s going to be. If our recent past is any indication, it won‟t be.” Galen admitted, grimly reminding himself and the crew to keep their wits about them. ----- The hydraulic hiss of the airlock had a certain finality to it, sealing him off from the rest of his shipmates, the scent of engine coolant and industrial lubricants stirring on the currents of recycled air. Anuurn gateway was newer than most, but it had already acquired the faint patina of grime common to every outpost in civilized space. Inhaling deeply of the acrid perfume, Galen‘s heart swelled with affection for the place. Putting this off to the connection any seasoned spacer felt, he put one foot in front of the other, heels clicking down the durasteel passenger ramp as if he hadn‘t a single care in the universe. If only that were true A well-uniformed hani met him at the base of the ramp, though calling the simple black trousers a uniform was a bit of a stretch. Equally well-maintained was the weapons belt the customs officer wore, genuine uruus leather no less, from which were suspended the various tools of the trade. These ranged from mundane mechanical restraints through the various non-lethal weapons to the glossy black grip of a plasma pistol. Very new Galen noted to himself, the polish on the butt of the pistol still intact, just like the sheen upon the silver badge worn in front of the left hip. The hani was female, for which Galen was thankful, and bore not a single ring in her loosely furled ears. Alert golden eyes bore the impression of vigilance, if not that of total competence. ”Identicard please,” she asked with due formality and rote discipline. Galen handed over the slim plasteel card wordlessly, and the young officer slipped it into the portable reader she held, consciously keeping her attention on both him and the display. Fresh from the academy are we? he asked of her silently, a faint smile crossing his features as he realized he already knew the answer. Also bringing a slight sigh of relief to the weary captain was the utter lack of cooperation between the hani and Engreia, therefore keeping him completely off the scan as far as the furry Law was concerned. As long as we don’t screw up here he reminded himself before he got too confident. ”Everything seems to be in order, Mister Winters. Any weapons or controlled substances to declare?” the attentive customs agent asked of him. ”Just some items for personal defense, nothing more. My class four weapons permit is on file.” he said smoothly, thanking himself that he had acquired the thing legally ages ago. The Diamond of Rahel had made several calls at Anuurn before, and given the rather rough edge the entire crew had, personal protection was an absolute necessity. Granted, he had never actually owned a weapon all those times, but sometimes na Toren had issued sunbursts from ship‘s stores for special occasions. ”May I see them please?” she said placidly, a little upset at Galen that he was carrying them concealed. “Of course,” he replied softly, pulling the right side of his long sharkskin coat back and drawing the newish caster pistol from its holster. This he set upon the small counter butt- first, before reaching over with his left hand to remove the well-used and reliable Vultenna from the shoulder holster on his right side. This was likewise presented to the well- disciplined hani, who was already surveying the first weapon for illegal modifications. Lastly, Galen‘s hands went for knives that were inexplicably not where they should have been. This gave him pause, as he had no idea why he had thought they would be there in the first place. The odd reaction brought the young hani‘s head up from her work, her curiosity piqued more than her suspicion. ”Something else?” ”I…I must have left them back at the ship. Sorry.” he said sheepishly, a little embarrassed at the slip-up. Galen‘s interrogator smiled a bit, having at last gained a bit of leverage over the unsettling human, a male to boot. She grasped both weapons by the barrels and handed them back to Galen with efficient movements. ”Looks like you„ve got enough hardware already, Mister Winters. Please see to it that you don„t need to use it while you„re here. Also keep in mind that your permit does not extend planetside.” she added with a small note of satisfaction. The grey-eyed spacer retrieved his weapons and replaced them in their respective nests, settling his coat about them before answering the smug hani. ”And where would I go to inquire as to that privilege?” he asked nonchalantly. ”Station security, ker Myfanwy Chorrun.” the youngster replied evenly, knowing full well that he had a better chance of bedding her than getting the clearances he desired. Galen pondered that name for a moment, the implications of Myfanwy‘s position staggering to say the least. Chorrun had been a minor agricultural concern in the western plains of Analfy province only last year, and now had people in such positions of authority on station? ”Things sure have changed around here,“ Galen said sotto voce, pondering the other ramifications of the appointment quickly, which drew a smile from the shrewd Captain. ”You don„t know the half of it, Mister Winters,” came the unexpected reply from his temporary companion, who was equally surprised that a human had understood the implications of such information. Galen gave the young female a soft chuckle in reply, before making his way past the dockside area into the central corridor of the station. The normal hustle and bustle was a bit subdued, at least in comparison to the last time he had made port here, nearly four years ago. It was still an almost exclusively hani population, but there was the occasional ateva or xu-adey making their rounds, standing out like a supernova. These were most likely traders or other businessmen, here to ply their wares in the tempestuous, but potentially lucrative, seas of hani politics. Thankfully, Galen didn‘t have to deal with those headaches, though the one he did have was surely greater in scope than the menschen who scurried about from this appointment to that. He was too busy giggling to himself at how easily it was all falling into place to worry about them one whit. He found the station security office with remarkable speed, had he time to ponder it amongst laying out the particulars of his latest plan. The doors slid open with a slight screech of metal on metal, most likely a bearing gone astray, and the scene which greeted him was a bit chaotic. Apparently the new custodians of Anuurn Gateway Security had decided to rearrange the furniture. Either that or someone had set off a tactical fusion device, the end result would have been much the same. Galen was a bit uncomfortable, as his entrance, and appearance, had drawn at the very least a casual glare from everyone in the office, even the perps in booking. Most of these were from hani who had only recently left the friendly confines of Anuurn‘s atmosphere, the very idea of a human being something of a novelty to them still. It was the difference between being told about something alien and exotic in class, or on the vid, as opposed to seeing one in the flesh. Ahhh, xenophobia. How wonderful. Galen sighed quietly to himself, before at last discerning who the desk sergeant was, or at least should have been, given the placement of the desk itself. The hani behind said desk was harried, and it looked like she hadn‘t slept, let alone bathed, in days. Her fur was matted and her eyes bloodshot. Perfect ”Excuse me, I was told to see ker Myfanwy regarding a permit. Can you tell me where she is?” Galen asked politely, if a little on the loud side. When this drew the wince he had hoped for, Galen smiled softly, passing it off as mere pleasantry. He got little more than an irritated wave of a bronze-furred hand in reply, so Galen proceeded towards the one closed door in the office, which drew a slight sigh of relief from the desk sergeant that she didn‗t have yet another thing to deal with at the moment. Opening it without knocking, Galen drew an angry glare form the lone occupant at the interruption. ”Ker Myfanwy?” he asked with no trace of discord or hint that he understood why she was so angry at him. ”What do you want?” Myfanwy replied gruffly. ”I was told to inquire with you as to obtaining a planetside weapons permit,” he stated simply, already preparing to counter the immediate reply of the hani. ”We don„t give those to offworlders except…” ”In exigent circumstances. Yes, I know. May I sit down? I have quite an interesting proposal for you, ker Myfanwy.” he said, shutting the door behind him gently, taking the seat he had requested without a response from the older hani female. ”Who the hell are you?” she demanded with angry curiosity. ”A friend you don„t know you have yet,” he said cryptically, which drew an even angrier glare from the security chief. ”Galen Winters, Captain of the Independent Vessel Heart of Gold,” he added to placate the hani woman‘s mood. ”And that tells me precisely nothing, Mister Winters. If you think I„ve got nothing better to do with my time than to engage in Gods-be verbal fencing matches with you…” she said with barely veiled menace. ”Well, then I‟ll get down to business. Like I said, I need planetside weapons permits for myself and my crew, as well as landing clearance for an Icarus dropship. I„ll be…” Galen said nonchalantly, before being cut off by Chorrun. ”Out of the question!” Myfanwy shot back, almost dumbfounded at Galen‘s audacity. ”As I was about to say,” he said calmly, mildly impugning the hani for her manners, ”I‟m going to be landing in eastern Analfy.” he added, quite pleased with himself at the stunned silence that comment brought. ”I have business with Rahel” he tacked on absentmindedly, confirming what Myfanwy had already deduced. ”Glad to see I have your attention.” ”What in that Gods-be mind of yours makes you think I want to help you now?” she demanded harshly, following the train of thought out to its conclusion. Rahel and Chorrun had been rivals for several generations now, Rahel having held the mineral rich highlands to Chorrun‘s immediate east since the formation of the Han. The fact that their own efforts at development had been much less successful than Chorrun had led them to raiding fields and orchards, burning crops in spite as well as killing a handful of hani every year. Chorrun had had negligible success ferreting the Rahel raiders from their mountain strongholds, and had long since given up trying. They had settled for beefing up their border security instead, to the point where their skill and advisory knowledge were in great demand, which was quite probably one of the reasons they had obtained the stewardship over the Anuurn Gateway. First contact had not improved the situation much, though it did give the more ambitious and aggressive Rahel kin a bigger and more dangerous hunting ground. The mineral resources they had been unable to exploit properly became a geyser of wealth once modern, off-world, mining equipment was purchased. A disproportionately small clan had suddenly become a major player in interstellar trade, one of the first houses to seize the opportunity contact had presented. That they had mismanaged their initial good fortune could be chalked up to numerous factors, not the least of which was sheer ineptitude on the part of clan leadership. Set in the old ways, they had been unable to adapt quickly to the rapidly shifting political dynamics of the rest of the civilized systems. They quickly fell from favor with off-world traders after several bloody misunderstandings, and thus were condemned by the court of public opinion to trivialization. That stung the prideful Rahel, and to this day they still thirsted to regain their old standing, and damn anyone who got in their way. ”In any case you„d have to file a formal letter of intent with my office, declaring your credible fear of harm and lack of security during your stay on Anuurn. Seeing as Rahel would be hosting you, it„d be a serious hit to their reputation. I doubt they„d appreciate it from a business partner” she said, following the thought out to its logical conclusion. ”Yes, I suppose it would be that.” Galen replied coyly, a sly grin curling his lips. ”But I never said I was selling or buying anything.” Myfanwy Chorrun blinked once as this new twist got thrown into the mix, an unexpected, and welcome, surprise. On the one hand, she was responsible for anything going on, and by extension through, her station. On the other hand, however, blood spilled between the two clans was hardly something to overlook. That Rahel hadn‘t exactly been model citizens either didn‘t help their cause. ”I must say you are exceedingly well-informed, Mister Winters. However, I cannot let my position be abused for personal vendetta, yours or mine.” Myfanwy stated evenly, clearly wishing she didn‘t have to. ”Oh, it‟s not such serious business as that, I assure you. Merely collection of an old debt. My father and I served on na Toren‟s vessel. He owes me my late father‟s back pay, and the insurance money that was due to me from his death. If they wish to hand it over, I will have no further problem with them. On Anuurn, at least.” Galen added, leaving his options open with the woman. ”I suppose I might be able to get something pushed through without too much trouble. However, I need more from you to justify me sticking my neck out like this. I„ve got enough on the blotter as it is.” she confided, confirming to Galen that the chaos in the security office wasn‘t totally the result of the changeover. ”I noticed. Chaos and opportunity go hand in hand, after all.” ”Something like that.” ”Anything I can do to help?” Galen asked askance, already pondering the implications of volunteering his aid. ”I don„t think so. The new government would like to keep as much of our security needs in-house as possible. We have a short list of suspects. They will be dealt with.” Myfanwy added self-assuredly. ”I‟d wager that a lot of them are named Rahel. Am I close?” Galen asked, feeling the woman‘s reaction in his mind despite her outwardly placid appearance. ”I‟d be willing to bet that my demand for payment will be met with silence, if I even obtain an audience with them. If that happens, I believe that I‟d be forced to take my money out of somebody‟s hide. I‟d prefer that happen while under the aegis of a legitimate license.” Galen let that thought hang in the air a moment, the soft whirring of the station‘s climate control whistling through the ventilation grate the only sound in the office. ”And I suppose you expect me to give it to you?” the security chief asked suspiciously. ”Better than you having your hands tied when dealing with them. Maintaining a fair reputation in the face of such history is difficult, yes? We both get what we want, ker Myfanwy. I get my money, you get rid of a problem, and keep your hands clean while doing so.” She pondered that for several moments, mulling it over carefully before she spoke. ”If…if…you run into the problems you describe…come see me again. I might be able to convince my superiors to give you what you ask for.” Myfanwy conceded somewhat reluctantly. ”Thank you. But in order to do that…” ”You„ll get your permits and clearance, Mister Winters.” Myfanwy added dismissively. ”Thank you.” Galen replied gratefully, the first pieces of the puzzle falling into place with such ease that he was wondering when Old Man Murphy was going to round the corner and kick him square in the balls. Now let’s just hope Salfiri has been able to find our quarry, and nothing else conspires against us. he mused darkly. Posted by Salfiri on 23.07.2003 at02:12: ”space is quite a bit different than the rest of the civilized systems. There are things we can get away with that most legitimate businessmen couldn‟t even dream of, but by the same token, there are things that could get us killed without a moment‟s hesitation." Galen corrected himself, the word‘s implications still not sitting well with him for some reason, ”space is quite a bit different than the rest of the civilized systems. There are things we can get away with that most legitimate businessmen couldn‟t even dream of, but by the same token, there are things that could get us killed without a moment‟s hesitation." The briefing began as soon as the small crew of the Heart of Gold was assembled, and Salfiri's golden gaze driften over each individual in turn. Spending two weeks in the same ship during jump they'd spent a lot of time around each other and perhaps become more accustomed to living in the same space, even if, with such a small crew on a ship this size, it wasn't hard to go a whole shift without seeing each other. "Salfiri, if you could get looking for our friend the doctor‟s trail. Donen, you might be of some help, since you‟re able to think like him a little bit.” Salfiri made a hand gesture which was the Atevi equivalent of a nod, since a head bob was a truncated bow and not used to indicate agreement or dissagreement. Nadia had given her the data she'd first used to track the man when they continued the process on the Heart of Gold at the beginning of this journey, and now that they were docked at Anuurn Gateway they would have access to it's records (whether they were supposed to or not was another matter) and could find where the doctor went next. And where would he be likely to go? That depended on what he wanted to do. What was his motive? When trouble arrived, the Atevi instinct was to head to base, to rally to the leader, the focus of their man-chi. That aspect of the instinct was displayed in it's most basic form by many life forms on Shai-san. In a herd of macheiti, a riding animal, the animals would always jostle and even fight to be physically close to the macheit'aiji, the closer they were the more dominant they were. But Dr Lundquist was not an Ateva, so would not act on the same instincts. So what was an instinct that Humans and Atevi shared? Self-preservation. Lundquist presumably had people after him, and presumably he was unable to fight them. Humans were quite capable of fighting, she'd seen her crewmates do it, very effectively. But presumably, as in Atevi society, the majority of the population had only the most basic training, which in this case would not have been enough. So he had run. That meant he could be looking for either of two things, and probably both. 1) a safe haven and 2) an ally who was strong enough to fight off whoever was after him. The question as to what he would offer that ally in return wasn't relevant to her work. The Captain finished up his briefing by explaining he was going to organise clearances, and a warning not to disturb him, before dismissing them. "Galen-ma." Salfiri said, pausing to bow as they all stood to leave, acknowledging her orders with the use of a distinction usually reserved for Lords of the Association. "Nand' Doctor, would you be willing to assist?" Donen might, as a human and a fellow physician, be able to offer some insights into Dr Lundquist's frame of mind. Some, there were of course differences. Presumably, if the man had run, he had neither the strong association Donen had on this ship, nor the medic's Sarafin ability. ---------------- Salfiri punched a key, the last in a sequence which had slowly allowed them to work their way into the computer systems of Anuurn Gateway, at least far enough to get the information they wanted. The fact that this information had been almost too easy to get at - only the most simple hacking techniques requires - meant that Dr Lundquist was not bothering to cover his tracks. Presumably he had not the knowhow, but out here people who did were for hire. No, he was running, and he was scared. "Too easy, nadi Donen." Salfiri said, frowning faintly in dissaproval as she scanned the output on the screen, currently in the angular Atevi script since she read nothing else. For a moment the idea that, on an essentially human ship, she relied all too much on the Babelfish and the computer to render languages into something she could understand. Perhaps the doctor's fascination with her language was not simply a hobby. "Nand' Doctor," Salfiri began, which usually meant she wanted his professional opinion, "If you were being persued by someone and unable to fight them, having run, what would you look for in a place to run to? Is there anywhere a physician such as yourself and your professional colleage would consider particularly favourable as a refuge?" Some other species ran home too. It was one thing to follow Lundquist's tracks, it was quite another to anticipate his next move and thus actually catch him. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 23.07.2003 at09:43: As the mechanic listened to his orders (if they could be called that..things were pretty loose on the ship usually), and their situation following them, he realized this would be a little tougher than he was used to. What had he been all about in the past? He reminisced on all that he used to do in the Scorpion Vigilantes. It consisted mostly of ambushes, traps, raids, and hits on drug houses. This would be a lot different.. Sure, he would be prepared for action beforehand, but this time *they* were the ones going forward in relative blindness.. When you hit a place, you knew how many guys were there, usually, and what was going on. Now, he wasn't exactly sure what was happening, other than that they were supposedly chasing down a Doctor Lundquist. Who, for all they knew, could have hired all the gun touting yahoos on the planet to protect him and shoot at whatever he perceived as a threat. Which, for Ragnar's paranoid mind (from all his years as a gangster, he supposed), sort of sucked. So yes, he'd definitely stay on his toes. Finally, Galen dismissed them nonverbally, and he got up, giving side glances to Donen and Salfiri as he did so. He had awhile yet to prep the dropship, which wouldn't take more than ten minutes to do. He just wished the captain had given him more to do. Ah well, he thought as he headed toward the recently repaired dropship, I'm tired from that workout I did..suppose I'll hit up the firing range for a bit, then take a nap.. The trip to the firing range, of course, was to calm his nerves. He hadn't really been in the action the crew had encountered so far, and since he was the ex-gangster, he thought that the others might be watching him. Which was foolish, of course; they'd be watching themselves.. But he was a gangster, wasn't he? "You some sorta gunslinger, son?" he'd heard in some holo-vid. He was no gunslinger, by any means. Sure, he was shooting things and people on a daily basis, but he was more into the technical things..repairing their stuff, maintaining everything. He was no gunslinger. Sighing, he entered the dropship's cozy cabin and fired up the reactor without thinking. Though the past couple weeks had been satisfying, today seemed like it would be a bit of a change in pace. Twenty minutes later, he was back in his quarters, sleeping. After a quick reactor check, he decided he'd just head back to his room and think about things, rather than fuel his adrenaline with shooting things. So he went back, laid down for a minute..and drifted off. Yeah, his blood was pumping, and he was nervous, excited, and tense..but he'd just worked out in his gravity-enhanced environment for an hour and a half, plus he was a tad woozy from feeling Anuurn's pull on the back of his mind. The feelings balanced out, so he was left to decide for himself. And he decided that an hour or two certainly wouldn't hurt his condition.. Posted by Donen Krell on 06.08.2003 at07:15: Donen nodded dumbly to both Galen and Salfiri when it was suggested that he might have some insight into the good Dr. Lundquist‘s thinking. I’m just a doctor, not a god-damned detective! How the fucking hell am I supposed to know what a crazy shrink on the run from assassins is going to think or do on an alien world I’ve never visited? thought the Valertrez med spec, sensibly keeping his ranting to himself this time. After calming his emotional reactions and beginning to think logically, he realized it couldn‘t hurt to have additional gray matter devoted to the puzzle of the doctor‘s whereabouts. And even if he wasn‘t a law enforcement or criminal type, he did pride himself on being bright, so perhaps he wouldn‘t be as useless as he thought initially in the search for the physician on the run. Donen followed Salfiri to a workstation, where the security officer hacked away at something or other. Donen was only able to make out a very few bits of Ragi on her screen, but presumably the Ateva would clue him in on whatever she found. "Too easy, nadi Donen." Salfiri said, frowning faintly in disapproval as she scanned the output on the screen. "Nand' Doctor," Salfiri began, which usually meant she wanted his professional opinion, "If you were being pursued by someone and unable to fight them, having run, what would you look for in a place to run to? Is there anywhere a physician such as yourself and your professional colleague would consider particularly favorable as a refuge?" Donen had been racking his brain for awhile already, trying to come up with something that at least seemed a plausible plan of action for this Lundquist fellow, so he something to give Salfiri when she asked him the inevitable question. He wasn‘t at all convinced he had any ideas worth mentioning, but he would at least offer what he had and see where his thoughts landed with her more experienced ear. ”I don‟t know all that much about this fellow, nadi, except what Galen‟s told us already,” said the blue-eyed Valertrez, in a self-deprecatory tone. ”He's a shrink…sorry, I mean a psychiatrist…that is a special kind of physician that deals in emotional and/or mental health. Anyway this fellow works mostly with repressed memories and multiple personalities, or something like that. Apparently he was a bit on the arrogant side, and not particularly well liked either, and probably didn‟t damn well care whether he was liked or not. I don‟t know why he‟d run to Anuurn, unless he had some contacts here who could hide him or protect him.” Then another wild thought struck Donen out of the dark. ”Or maybe this is just a transition point for him, a transition between a known danger and a hoped for refuge,” he said, with a growing conviction that it was as likely a possibility as the other scenario. ”He left Stargazer in a hurry, maybe he‟s here to gather supplies, make better plans, trying to scratch together some deccas that no one can trace back to his old accounts. If that‟s what he is here for, he knows he can‟t hang out his old shingle and practice medicine as usual…too much traceable paperwork to do that…but with all his medical background, he could pass himself off as some kind of higher paid med tech in some type of medical facility. That would be a comfortable stretch for him, and he would be confident in his ability to manipulate people enough to get them to buy whatever bullshit he‟s feeding them…at least long enough to come up with some credits and a better plan of escape. That may just be me rambling, but it‟s the best I can think of at the moment. Think any of that is useful? I'll keep working on it anyway...see if anything else strikes me, nand' Salfiri.” Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 21.08.2003 at08:08: Blinking, Ragnar was aware that he was laying on his back with his arms folded behind his head. He remembered that he‘d lain down that way an indeterminable length of time ago; apparently, though, it had been longer rather than shorter, because his arms tingled with numbness. Grunting slightly, he brought his arms down, trying to restore feeling to them. He clumsily grabbed at the PDA on the small table next to him with one of his non-feeling hands to see how long he‘d been out; he didn‘t want to be late for his part in the show, however small it might have been. He saw that only an hour and a half had passed, and that‘d he‘d received two new messages in his mailbox. Curious, the mechanic got to his account while regaining feeling in his extremities. ―Feh..‖ he muttered mindlessly as he noticed the first one to be just an ad from Anuurn‘s chamber of commerce. It might be useful to read the link and get to know the place a little, he thought, but he wasn‘t in the mood. Maybe on the way to the planet-bound station. That, and the second message seemed much more promising. It was from his old friend, Racen Hathro. Sitting up, he quickly opened it, excited to hear from his friend again. He was surprised to get a video link, rather than the usual text. "Hey again. Good to hear from you. I'm sorry to hear that you lost a crewmate. My condolences." Racen's face assumed a somber tone, and then he looked down and then back to the camera. "I'll keep you updated when I get to Beletchi Station. Expect a few files to come your way, it'll be anything I find when I get there." Again he returned his face to it's somber tone. He cleared his throat tensely before continuing. "Yeah, Mohrs was a great guy, didn't deserve that. That's one reason I won't stop until I find the truth man. What can I say?" Ragnar smiled briefly as he saw Racen‘s face break from its usual flatness. In the rare times when it did break like that, he was reminded of their really young days, before they became jaded and hardened from the world they saw. Racen tried to keep it in, but he couldn't; a single tear fell from his eye to his knee. "I found out something right before I joined the crew I'm with right now... It's not really something I want to say in a video like this. It has to do with Julie, something she never told me, something that would have changed my life.. Well, I'll talk to you later man. I've gotta get some stuff done. Stay safe man." With that, Racen's hand went up to the keyboard and then he hit a key, cutting the video feed. Ragnar nodded once to himself, pondering Racen‘s message. What had Julie never told him? If Racen hadn‘t known, they were all in the dark; what one knew, everyone knew. Except in this case, obviously. Sighing, he thought about sending his old friend another message, but decided against it. There‘d be a lot to tell when he got back-if I get back. Frowning, he quickly made a text message stating that he was going to Anuurn to deal with some hot business and would likely be getting into some shit. The mechanic then set it for a ten-day release: if he didn‘t erase it within ten days, the message would be sent. That way, if worst came to worst, Racen would-it won’t come to worst.. All he could do was hope at this point, but it had been quite awhile since the ex-gangster (and high school track star, let‘s not forget) had been on the losing end. In fact, it had been only once, and he didn‘t plan on repeating the incident. Shaking his head vigorously, Ragnar put that thought out of his mind. He wondered how things were going, so he went back to the bridge to wait it out or find someone to talk to. Posted by Diandriaa on 25.08.2003 at09:58: enter the gypsy space tease..(or "hi guys") Diandriaa was now a walking tidal wave of emotions. So, now she had her identity. She was Diandriaa Cameron Enlad. She would be 32 years old at the end of July, Earth time. Her parents were more than likely dead. Alysha was probably that baby that was missing. Who took her though? Was it that godmother she was talking about, and if it was, was she the one who murdered the crew of the Elora Danan? If not, did she know who it was? She had a lot of questions for this "godmother" when she got back to Earth. Diandriaa was positive that Alysha Dawson was her sister, but what made her so sure? There was no "if" at all in her thoughts. She wasn't worried about being proven wrong, she was worried about Alysha believing it all. That poor girl. She had lived her whole life being aware that her parents were dead, she accepted that, she lived with it, she wasn't tramatized by it. Now, here she was, the one with the chip on her shoulder, the one who wasn't willing to let it go, the one who was tramatized by it, coming along and shaking up this girls world. Then she was worried about how Alysha would take the whole thing once it all was proven. "Great, I have a sister, but I hate you. Why did you take so long to find me, why are you coming around now and trying to ruin my life? I didn't ask for this, I didn't ask for you." After all this time trying to find her, Diandriaa was terrified that that was what the girl would say to her. That scared her more than anything else. Then there was Palantir. Diandriaa felt foolish. The man had been dead for five years, and she was still mooning over him. She was allowed to miss him, but wasn't that carrying it too far? Wandering around the universe acting like an uber-bitch to every man she met. "Well Diandriaa, you're never going to get over him unless you give someone a chance." Thats what her heart said. Her brain was saying something else. "You need to get laid. Meet a nice man, spend a full evening and get out all the sexual frustration of the last five years and screw his brains out. Make sure he's a cool guy, someone who understands. Someone who needs it as much as you do. Or else, just go get drunk. Or get drunk then get laid. Either one, just do it." She was going to go with her brain on this one. Of course, this being an alien land, the chances of meeting a good looking man in the same position as herself, was a million to one. So, she opted to just get tanked. She wandered back down the street towards the docking station. She saw a good amount of liguor stores and hotels that way, so she was sure she would find "something" there. The first liquor store she came upon, didn't have much in the way of booze for humans. The Mahdi stuff was fine, if she wanted to be in a coma for the next twenty four hours. She made a mental note to go back there if nothing else panned out. The next one was much better. It was larger and had a wide variety of booze from just about every part of the the universe (at least in her opinion). She made her way over to the cooler where they kept the wine and tried to decide what it was she really wanted. Posted by Salfiri on 26.08.2003 at08:45: There was a long pause as Salfiri worked through what Donen had said, applying her own fuzzy logic filter to what the Babelfish translater handed her. She was becoming more accustomed to the slang as she became accustomed to the people. Donen used more of it when he was uncertain. Salfiri understood the concept of a Psychiatrist, in the same way she understood the concept of friendship. She knew the definition of the word, and understood it on an intellectual level as something important to another species, but she had no gut feeling for it herself. Amongst Atevi there was no such thing as psychology; only pathology. "One did visit Dr Lundquist one's self, nand' Doctor." Salfiri admitted. "He was able to provide much useful explanation of non-Atevi concepts." As well as a few ways of wording Atevi concepts so that aliens would understand. Whatever the man's arrogance, he had been useful. Then another wild thought struck Donen out of the dark. ”Or maybe this is just a transition point for him, a transition between a known danger and a hoped for refuge.” Full dark lips pressed together in an unreadable expression as Salfiri's golden gaze flicked to Donen and back to the computer screen. "One greatly suspects so as well, nadi Donen." Salfiri confirmed. "However, one does not believe Dr Lundquist intends to leave immediately. He has headed for Anuurn's surface." she said, touching one long finger to the computer screen, indicating an Anuurn place name rendered as acurately as possibly into Atevi phenomes, which wasn't very accurately at all. A couple more key stroked and the name appeared in every script used in known space. Posted by Galen Winters on 05.09.2003 at19:09: Well-polished shoes clicked on the durasteel deck plating of Anuurn Gateway, Galen‘s heels barely a nanosecond from clicking together in unabashed glee. He had pulled off one of the greatest cons in his life, and was feeling pretty satisfied with himself as a result. The only downside to the whole arrangement he had obtained with ker Myfanwy was the ease with which he had inserted himself into clan politics, and the even greater ease with which he had twisted them to his advantage. No offworlder should have been able to do that, but to Galen, it had been like tying his shoes, familiar and routine. But that was only a small worry when compared to the massive headache it had saved him and his crew. Getting planetside armed anywhere, let alone Anuurn, wasn‘t exactly a picnic these days. Sign of the times, Galen. he observed silently, grey eyes flitting about the mulling crowds, looking for what, he had no idea. Rounding a bend in a large corridor, he arrived in the main marketplace, a mishmash of established multiplanetary chains, local merchants, and various other vendors of the mundane, the exotic and the barely legal. It was to a combination of the first and third that Galen‘s grey eyes were drawn like a moth to a flame, the rest of his body quickly following suit. The glassteel door slid shut behind Galen, quieting the crowds for a bit as Galen‘s gaze danced over the myriad of choices before him, a small smile creeping onto his pale face. God, but it’s been a while since I last had a drink he thought, sighing inwardly at the wealth of choices now on display before him. Many of the elixirs and liquors were hani in nature, as was only appropriate, but being one of the larger purveyors of spirits on the station had led them to stock several of the better varieties of alien intoxicants as well. It was to this section of the store that Galen wandered, despite feeling a strange craving for a red bottle filled with ka’chi, a very bitter liquid distilled from gfi beans, among other herbal flavorants and trace items. Shaking his head at the memory of tasting the horrid concoction once, Galen moved on, espying a decent selection of Terran wines, three varieties of fiery Atevi houri with their garish pink labels, and finally to his favorite. And it’s even the right brand he said, lifting a red-labeled bottle of Stolichnaya from the bottom shelf. Must be expensive shipping this stuff out from good old Earth… aaaaand I’m right he though pessimistically, spotting the price printed on the shelf‘s edge. Oh well, you only live once he mused, bending to grab two more bottles in his greedy mitts, a soft tink heard as two bumped gently in his grasp. Another bump, or at least a near miss, occurred when Galen straightened up, nearly colliding with another patron of the store. Not quite as tall as he, Galen was nonetheless a bit surprised to find his companion human, and a woman at that. Dark clothing obscured what Galen could deduce was at least a decently constructed frame, no visible deformities or other detractors visible to his casual examination. A moment later, Galen realized he had been obviously looking the young woman over like a piece of meat, or at least a carefully assessing survey, and remembered his manners. ”I‟m sorry, didn‟t see you there.” he offered, before having a soft, nervous chuckle about how he hadn‘t seen her before, but now had quite a good idea of her looks, at least enough to decide she wasn‘t bad looking anyway, and merited further courtesy and conversation. You have to love testosterone. Posted by Diandriaa on 06.09.2003 at02:03: "Hey captain, JR here, just wanted to let you know that we got the items installed and the crew that was working on the med bay only have a few things left to do, but they're coming back in the morning and finishing it up really quick. Terry and I are going to be planetside soon if you need us. JR out." The announcement from her mini-wrist link startled her as she was studying the alcohol content on a bottle of what seemed to be an Ateva version of chablis blush. She stood up quickly, almost as though she were trying to avoid getting caught doing something wrong. "Roger that JR," she replied, pushing the little button on the watch, "good work and have fun, Diandriaa out.." As she proceeded to kneel back down to look at another bottle, she felt something, or someone brush by her, just barely avoiding running into her. She frowned as the person walked past her. The urge she had to lecture whoever it was for not watching where they were going immediately left her when she felt his eyes on her. ‖I‘m sorry, didn‘t see you there.‖ he said, with a chuckle. "Well," she thought, turning to him, "at least one of us thinks its amusing..." "It's quite alright," she replied, lowering her sunglasses to have a better look at him, "just be careful you don't bust open those bottles..." That's when Diandriaa made the mistake of looking at his eyes. They were grey. Just like her vision on Earth, just before her and her crew were nearly jumped. Diandriaa gulped, happy that she didn't have a bottle in her hand, lest she would have dropped it. She quickly shoved her sunglasses in the pocket of her trenchcoat, and extended her hand to him. "Diandriaa Enlad," she murmured nervously, "at your service. And you are?" Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 07.09.2003 at00:24: The bridge was empty, which was actually not what Ragnar had wanted. He bit his lower lip, then turned to leave. The only problem was, he didn‘t know where to go now. He really didn‘t want to bother Salfiri and Donen in their investigation, and he didn‘t know where Galen was. So, what’s to do, what’s to do… He stood in the doorway, thinking for a moment. He contemplated shaving (a millimeter of stubble covered the lower half of his face by now), and the more he thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. Of course, he‘d leave the hair along his jaw, and a little above his lip, but that would be it.. Now with something to do, Ragnar headed to the public head to get in a quick shave. But as he started toward the head, the Caster pistol on his right hip caught his eye in mid stride. He kept toward the room, which wasn‘t too far away, but wondered if he had the time to go out and buy a few things. His account was pretty large by now, and there were a few more things he wouldn‘t mind having. Weapons, mostly. But first, for a quick shave..I’ll have time. He left the ship just as quick as he could, hoping he wouldn‘t get stopped short of the exit. He really felt that it was in his best interest to go out and get a bunch of things today, regardless of whether or not people looked at him like a madman when he was carrying four or five weapons with him on his way back. The mechanic called up a map of the gateway station, and was surprised at the size of it. He wasn‘t even sure there would be an arms shop for him to go to, but after a few seconds of searching, he found there actually was one. Of course, it happened to be on the other side of the fair-sized station, but that wasn‘t too much of a worry. He could afford a couple extra for a cab fare. A quick few minutes later, and Ragnar entered another weapons shop. He‘d been in ones such as this before, with just a guy behind a desk and a crowded wall behind him. A few items were on the walls in front of the guy, mainly knives and the like. But those weren‘t much of a threat when the guy was sitting behind a ritelanium mesh fence. At least it’s not a pawn shop.. he thought with a grin. Most of the stuff was new and had never been outside of the shop; there were a few items, though, that were probably ‗factory reconditioned‘ (Ragnar always found that to be a bullshit statement), and he immediately steered his eyes away from them. By the time the punk behind the counter asked ―Hey, whatcha lookin‘ at?‖ a few seconds after he entered, he‘d already made up his mind. Quickly, and without thinking, he spurted, ―Alright, all four filters over there, a Hawkeye, and that Sunburst..oh, yes, and I have to get that one.‖ Ragnar pointed to the huge Repentance 11.35 mm in the upper left corner. He hadn‘t originally planned on it, but now he wanted it, and didn‘t care how much it would cost. The guy blinked at him, more than a little afraid at giving this slightly crazy-looking guy all these weapons. ―Erm..is that all?‖ Smiling faintly, Ragnar said, ―Oh yeah, forgot. 20 rounds for each of the ballistics. Thanks for reminding me..‖ Posted by Diandriaa on 14.09.2003 at03:32: "Diandriaa Enlad," she murmured nervously, "at your service. And you are?" A couple of seconds later, Diandriaa pulled her hand away, a little ticked at herself for being so "forward" to the handsome stranger. Especially since he hadn't responded. "Obviously not interested," she thought to herself, giving him a slight grin. She quickly reached over grabbing the first bottle of wine closest to her. "I can see you're lost in thought," she stated, feeling stupid for even saying anything to him. She usually just looked over, smiled and was gone. Something made her talk to him, and whatever it was, it was irritating her to no end. "I'll leave you to your Stoli. If you decided you don't want to drink alone, I'll be on the Emerald Queen. Nice meeting you, whoever you are." As she turned her back to him and started to walk away, several random thoughts jumped into her brain. An unfamiliar dark haired woman, a body, a grieving man and a rather pretty ring, the details were vague. Diandriaa is cursed with the ability to blurt things out without even knowing what she's saying or even the meaning behind what she said. "It wasn't your fault," she blurted out, turning back to him briefly. She then walked over to the counter, set her bottle down. "And a pack of that cinnamon gum too," she said to the Mahdi behind the counter. "26 deccas," the cashier gruffly demanded. Diandriaa wondered what kind of wine she was buying as she handed her decca stick to him. About a minute later, the cashier handed her back her stick, placed the wine and the pack of gum in a bag, and handed everything back to her. She gave the Mahdi a mild smile and slowly walked towards the stores exit. Posted by Salfiri on 14.09.2003 at05:11: The datafile with Dr Lundquists whereabouts was in the Captain's inbox next time he deigned to look. Salfiri had bid the doctor a farewell - he'd muttered something about preparing a med kit to take planetside given that the local medications would be Hani-type - and taken herself dockside. The Mahdi tailor set her clawed hands on her hips and looked Salfiri up and down, mustaches wrinkling in an I don't believe this expression. Hani women were notably shorter than the men and the woman only came up to Salfiri's waist. Finally she sighed, and checked her notepad. "So it was two shirts, two pairs of trousers and an Atevi-style formal coat from the nilfilas fabric, and an SL Jacket in the style of the one you're wearing." Which is going to be a god-be pain in the rear to make, you earless witch. Salfiri inclined her head gently. "That is correct, nadi." She said, not according the woman any greater respect since she was being so terse, not that the Mahdi seemed to notice, the nuances lost on her. "Hold on a minute while I get something to stand on so I can take measurements." The tailor started to hurry away. "Nadi, one believes these may assist." Salfiri said, and offered over a shirt and pair of trousers, one of her other uniforms. The tailor accepted them and inspected the tag. Yes, they still had the pattern code, including the adjustments made for this individual. That changed things, all she had to do was stick that into the computer and it would churn out the garments in record time. It saved her all the trouble of programming the pattern in. She'd still have to do that for the formal coat, but it shouldn't be that hard. The furry tailor nodded. "That'll do. I'll have those sent to your ship within an hour, but the SL jacket will take longer, we don't stock your size." Or anything near it. For an answer, Salfiri slipped off her leather jacket and turned it to show the lining and the inside of the collar. It too had a pattern code, though again it had been adapted to fit her. The Mahdi picked up a hand scanner and scanned the code, then the ones on the garments she held, before offering them back. "Yeah, alright. In an hour, like I said." She said, and bustled away with the bolt of black nilfilas fabric Salfiri had chosen. Salfiri bowed and walked away. She had a number of other purchases to make before they went planetside. And were it not for the fact that she required equipment adapted to Atevi size and thus tended to prefer the more respectable store chains, she might have bumped into Ragnar as he exited the weapons shop. Posted by Galen Winters on 15.09.2003 at05:54: The grey-eyed Captain was taken aback by Diandriaa‘s forward manner, especially coming from a complete stranger as it did. He likewise had had his hands full with bottles to the point where his startled mind took just that much too long to figure out what to do with them that the likewise rattled woman almost walked right back out of his life. Almost Her sudden statement hit Galen in the stomach like a sledgehammer, the emotional impact of it entirely too real to the beleaguered man. He knew exactly what she meant somehow, picking up on her surface thoughts without even meaning to, the strange and unnamed images in Diandriaa‘s mind achingly familiar to him. In an instant, he relived it all, elation and loss, bitter tears wept over his own failure. Elena had been everything to Galen, his young mind having had little comprehension of anything else at times, much to the mischievous delight of his coworkers at the time. His dreamlike existence had come crashing to a halt that day, with the subtlety of supernova and such finality as to be incomprehensible to him. The mere thought of Elena Horton had caused his heart to ache for years afterward, and he had had to learn how not think of her to be able to function with any sort of normality. The nightly binges on industrial strength fun-in-a-bottle had deadened him to everything else, but the pain of his loss was still throbbing dully at the back of his mind. Blinking away the tears that threatened to well up in his eyes, Galen turned back to the woman who had so nonchalantly turned his merry world upside down, stepping over to the counter she was at and setting down the three bottles he had thankfully managed to hold on to. ”Who…who are you?” he stammered softly, voice threatening to crack under the emotional strain. Posted by Diandriaa on 15.09.2003 at06:11: ‖Who…who are you?‖ Diandriaa stopped as she reached the automatic doors of the store. She didn't know why she said what she said to that man. It wasn't the first time she blurted things out to a complete stranger without knowing why, and it was doubtful it was going to be the last time. Ra-Tavia, Palantir's Ateva friend told her after the fiasco on Baret Tegul, that her near death experience made her susceptible to the ones who had "passed on", but that was a bit too heavy for Diandriaa to deal with. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She accepted the fact that she was empathic and used that to try and read why her statement upset the man so much. It wasn't long. "If I had paid more attention to her, if I hadn't been working so hard, it would never have happened." Maybe that wasn't exactly what he was thinking, but that was the feeling she got from him. And she understood. For years, she blamed herself for Palantir's death, in almost the same way. He had asked her to go with him that night, but she was too tired and wanted to get some of her backed up training in. She believed for awhile, if she had gone, he wouldn't have gotten drunk, she could have stopped the fight before it happened and he wouldn't have gotten stabbed. Until she ran into Ravyne Quincy a couple years later. Ravyne made it perfectly clear that everyone is responsible for their own destiny. Palantir was responsible for himself, she wasn't. And she also made it clear that things happen for a reason, maybe its a fucked up reason, but its still a reason. Diandriaa opened her eyes, turned around and walked over to the man. She gently took him by the wrist, and leaned over, almost looking as though she were going to kiss him, but whispered in his ear: "I'm Diandriaa Enlad, like I told you. I'm no one special, but I've been there. You're not alone." She then let go of his wrist and walked back towards the door. "That's just great Diandriaa," she mumbled to herself, "you meet a really good looking man and you shake up his world, and what do you do? You make it worse, then walk away. Good work slick." With that, she stopped just outside the entrance and waited to see what he was going to do or say next. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 17.09.2003 at01:24: With a duffel bag full of guns, and a complimentary scanner (the guy threw one in for free, possibly because the half-cocked Valertrez said he was going planetside, or maybe because he wanted to physically take them with him rather than have them delivered), he caught another cab and decided to hit a pharmacy on his way back to the Heart of Gold. He quickly picked up a good retinal enhancement to aid his vision for the hell of it. He was still somewhat young, he could see fine, but there was no harm in being able to see better than fine, now, was there? Now with everything he wanted (at the moment, anyway), he made the trip back to the docks without running into any more impulse buys. Damn, do I hate those.. Ragnar thought as he felt the heft of the Lancer 11.35 mm in his right hand. Yes, this would do oh so nicely on his other hip. He reentered the (he sometimes thought of it as ‗his,‘ as a boy would call his parents‘ home ‗his‘) ship in higher spirits than he‘d left it in; he was nearly drained of his savings (just a thousand left in case of emergency), but he had guns. Lots of guns. He loaded that Repentance gleefully, feeling the raw weight of each full metal jacket and slug in his hand. After moving the energy pistol to a concealed position in his jacket, he strapped the large ballistic gun to his left thigh in an identical fashion to the Caster. It was something one of his friends might laugh at him for, but he didn‘t care. Wait, did I just say friends? The mechanic shrugged it off nonchalantly, as he‘d done it several times before, and decided to practice assembling the shiny new Hawkeye. He removed the seal and cracked the case open, smelling the pleasant odor of fine machined ritelanium (it always smelled sweeter than steel, he thought) and-something unusual for him-gun oil. After putting it together and disassembling it a couple times, he got bored and put it back. He left his quarters, the Sunburst and Hawkeye in his locker (which he‘d reprogrammed for his use sometime last week), and took a couple steps out until he was in the main hall. Well..nothing else to do..maybe I’ll run into someone out here and they’ll ask for my help on something. Sighing wishfully, he started wandering the halls. Perhaps he‘d poke his head in the medbay or the workshop and see if anything needed his attention.. Posted by Donen Krell on 21.09.2003 at20:02: While stowing away his gear in the medbay, Donen had compiled a shopping list for a trip onto the station. Some of the items on the list were professional supplies, for which he hoped the captain would reimburse him, others were just personal items he needed to obtain for himself now that he had a steady income again. He showered and shaved and put on the new black Nyfilas outfit he had made for himself on the trip to Anuurn, and his shades, which he wore more for the mysterious aura he thought it created in his look than for any real reason to do with station lighting. Of course another reason for the sunglasses was so he could get a good surreptitious look at the other alien life forms here on station. He knew something of the Hani/Mahdi population since he had done some reading up on the native species of the planet, but wasn‘t sure what other species frequented the station in orbit around the Hani home world. Despite that minor preparation, he was surprised at his first visceral reaction to seeing the sentient leonine inhabitants of the station. Apart from their upright posture and breeches they did have quite a feral look about them to his naive eyes. The multiple gleaming rings in the hairy ears of the experienced Hani spacers reminded Donen of the holovids he had seen portraying the pirates of old Earth, and he grinned at himself for making the association, and then followed the signs (written in a variety of languages) to the nearest shopping district of the station. The first store was a medical supplies shop and the medic loaded up on the list of pharmaceutical provisions on his list and then noted a nifty medically programmed wrist DB. It was quite a nice product and came with an array of additional modules for a large variety of species. He ended up buying it, and the modules for human, Atevi, Hani/Mahdi and on a whim also bought the Xu-adey module as well. The databases were not as complete as the one Salfiri had given him of Atevi physiology, but it was adequate enough for emergency medical treatment of a variety of trauma and the various illnesses common to each species. They were also having a sale on sensory lenses and Donen had been thinking about getting them sometime soon anyway and went ahead and purchased them, although he decided to wait until he returned to the ship later to install them himself. That one purchase drained a significant amount of credits from his account, so he had to cull the remainder of his list for some of the lower cost supplies. Looking over that list there was really nothing he could afford apart from replacing his worn-out space suit and old tool kit. It took a bit of research to find a shop that had the Valertrez models he preferred, but before too long he had everything he had wanted…well, at least what he could afford, and comfortably carry, and headed back to the Heart of Gold with his purchases, with the intention of stowing his gear and then heading back out to the station for a meal of real food instead of that preprocessed shit Galen always bought. If he was lucky he might even run into Rags or Salfiri and hijack them into a shopping trip to refill the HoG’s stores with edible food for a change. Posted by Salfiri on 23.09.2003 at04:14: A large bag containing various equipment cases clasped in her left hand, and a larger case balanced on her right shoulder, Salfiri at last made her way back towards the Heart of Gold. The larger case had been her first purchase after leaving the tailor's though not before spending a fair bit of time admiring a Hawkeye Sniper Rifle. One day. she had promised herself. But no, the case wasn't nearly so big. It contained an assault rifle, the one she intended to have mounted on her rail rifle, since Ragnar had promised to help her. Her other new toys were a pulse plasma pistol - larger and more destructive than her standard pistol - a leap holster, a masker device and a heavy plasma shield. Leap holsters were generally designed for Whistler pistols, but what most people didn't realise was that the limiting factor on the size of the pistol was not the size of the holster, which could be made to any specifications, but the size of the sleeve up which the pistol would be hidden. Salfiri could fit her standard plasma pistol up her sleeve without any difficulty. So that's where it was going, and the pulse pistol would take it's place at her hip. The masker device was a necessity, given her new situation. Going anywhere unarmed was unthinkable, given her duty and man-chi and her chosen profession. A combination of concealed weapons and the masker would allow her to continue her duties properly. The plasma shield had almost been an afterthought, but it made a lot of sense. And again, her larger size allowed her to carry the heavy version without any difficulty, since it could be strapped to her forarm without getting in the way. She would have purchased a pair of bracers to go with it, but she'd already spent her savings. Still, she was pretty well armed to the teeth, and that was how she liked it. Hearing footsteps Salfiri turned, disturbingly fast for someone eight and a half feet tall, and spotted one of her crewmates. "Nadi Donen." She acknowledged, glancing over the Doctor and his purchases. He was wearing that outfit again, the one that had become his favourite since her chance comment about the design resembling an Atevi uniform. He seemed to have found a fascination with her race, but then he had said that she was the first non-Human he'd ever encountered in more than passing. She knew the type, people who wanted to know about everything, understand everything. Her brother Maidgadi was like that. Posted by Galen Winters on 23.09.2003 at05:14: Galen could do naught but stare blankly after the woman, his purpose in the liquor store long forgotten in a blur of images and memories. His conscience was ablaze in his mind, reinforcing his culpability in Elena‘s death, his ignorance of what was right in front of him the whole time. The little things, the mood swings, the hurried scamper of his love to hide her habit from him. Bathroom doors were never locked before in their quarters, yet now she needed her privacy. Bloodshot eyes were blamed on long study sessions for exams, as was the general disarray of their quarters. The truth of the matter, and one which Galen himself was unwilling or unable to piece together, was that her drive to succeed, to beat even her love at the game of life, had quickly consumed hers. The flash was merely a catalyst to her own self destruction, a bright star snuffed out in a quietly burning supernova of drugs and naked ambition, one which utterly destroyed Galen‘s world. If only I hadn’t been so competitive Galen mused silently, still leaving at least part of the blame at his own feet. Setting the bottles numbly on the counter, Galen staggered out the door after the mystery woman, leaving the mahdi clerk to lunge after one which nearly rolled over the edge of the thick plastic composite surface. He initially chose to look in the wrong direction for Diandriaa, panic bubbling briefly to the surface until he whipped his gaze about to find her still standing there, almost expecting him it seemed. ”Wait!” he called out, rather unnecessarily as it were. ”How do you know…” he asked, afraid still to even mention the source of his pain. Grey eyes looked to hers, expectant and hopeful that she held the answers he had long stopped seeking. ”Wanna get a drink or something?” he asked, quite assuredly the lamest pick-up line he had used in the past ten years. It was also the only occasion he‘d had to use it. Posted by Diandriaa on 23.09.2003 at05:25: ‖Wait!‖ Diandriaa looked up at him as the man rushed out of the store. ‖How do you know…‖ "I don't," she replied, shrugging her shoulders, "its just something that popped into my mind. I don't know the circumstances, but what I do know is, no matter what you think, its not your fault..." ‖Wanna get a drink or something? She looked into the handsome mans eyes. As arrogant as her thoughts were, she couldn't help but feel the stranger needed her. And she probably needed him as well, but she wasn't going to admit that right away. She wanted to listen to his story first. "I think that would be an excellant idea," she replied, holding out her hand to him, motioning for him to take it, "lead the way." Posted by Galen Winters on 01.10.2003 at05:11: Eyelids flicked once over grey eyes, before throwing caution and pessimism to the wind, and taking Diandriaa‘s hand in his. Her skin was slightly warm to the touch, reassuring him that this indeed was something that was right and needed. Remembering his manners after a moment, he slid his arm against hers, holding her elbow in the crook of his, a gesture worthy of a gentleman and courtier. At least grandpa taught me some manners he thought quietly, the silver-haired old fox having been quite the ladies‘ man well into his seventies. ”I know just the place, Diandriaa. Nice and quiet, and off-worlders aren‟t treated like dirt either. Caters to the spacer crowd, mostly. Assuming that you‟ve got no preference?” he asked, having sensed her general unfamiliarity with the station. Getting no response, me continued to act as her gentlemanly escort, regaling her with bits of trivia about the Anuurn Gateway that some of the regular inhabitants didn‘t even know, not noticing or caring that he shouldn‗t have been able to do so. The Rising Moon‘s doors were wide open, hints of music wafting on currents of recycled air from within to without, drawing non-mahdi like moths to a flame. Galen nodded to the grizzled hani matron behind the bar like an old friend, which drew a raised eyebrow from the female, but little else, her bartender‘s sense of etiquette well-honed over the years of running the joint. A few of the other patrons paid them scarcely as much heed, a mere glance to the door out of sheer curiosity more than anything else. Without further ado, Galen selected an out-of-the-way booth, offering the seat with its back to the door to Diandriaa, her presence, though pleasant, still not dulling his sense of self-preservation. Before either of them could open their mouth, a well-groomed, if rather plain, human waitress came to take their order, locks of brown hair styled to resemble the native population, leaving all sorts of interesting questions unanswered in Galen‘s head. ”Vodka, straight up.” he stated curtly, nodding to Diandriaa ”And you?” he asked before the young woman could. After taking the order, their waitress pivoted neatly on her heel, swaying off towards the bar to the beat of some low neo-jazz, a sultry rhythm to match the cat-like grace she sought to emulate. Turning back to face his companion, Galen smiled lightly, trying to use mirth and mischief to avoid the more tender areas of conversation for the moment. ”So, what brings a pretty woman like you to a dive like this?” he asked, a wry smirk on his face keeping his mood light. Posted by Diandriaa on 01.10.2003 at08:07: *swoons* ‖I know just the place, Diandriaa. Nice and quiet, and off-worlders aren‘t treated like dirt either. Caters to the spacer crowd, mostly. Assuming that you‘ve got no preference?‖ Diandriaa shook her head slightly. "I'm not picky," she replied. It had been years since anyone had treated her like a lady. Of course, she did realize that she made it seem like they would get a black eye for doing so, and of course, nine times out of ten, they would. No one treated her like a lady that didn't want something in return. But this guy was different. He led her by the arm, gently, through the streets of Anuurn, like an affectionate tour guide, pointing out little facts and bits of history about the place. It wasn't unwanted, Diandriaa absorbed information. She spent a few years in an orphanage, but that was on the other side of the planet, so he wasn't telling her anything she already knew. She didn't see the name of the bar they walked into, but he apparently knew the place, and the cranky looking Mahdi behind the bar. She saw the woman raise an eyebrow, so she raised one back at her. The woman smirked at her as the gentleman showed her to an out of the way booth. ‖Vodka, straight up.‖ he stated matter of factly, as the waitress walked up to the table, he then nodded his head in her direction, ‖and you?‖ "I'll have a large glass of your best champagne," she replied. "Whoa, okay," the waitress replied, widening her eyes, "one glass of Satyena Springs, raspberry or peach?" "Peach would be nice." "You got it, I'll be right back." Diandriaa smirked as the Terran woman turned and wiggled off. She was flirting, unintentionally or not. She just hoped it was the gentleman she was with that she was flirting with, and not her. ‖So, what brings a pretty woman like you to a dive like this?‖ "Well, you brought me here," she smirked, removing her trenchcoat, "and I never did get your name, mister...?" Posted by Donen Krell on 08.10.2003 at05:29: Donen was not surprised to see that Salfiri had been shopping too. After being trapped for weeks on board ship in deep space, rushing off for a shopping spree at the next port of call to spend all those claustrophobic deccas earned in transit was pretty much standard practice. ”Nadi Salfiri, shopping too, I see,” said the medic with a wry grin. ”Oh! I sent you my analysis of your teas, and my recommendations for your dietary supplements, and if you are interested we might see if we can find Ragnar and make a run for provisions to fill out the good captain‟s meager larder,” he continued with a chuckle. ”And we might want to include a side trip to field test the local intoxicants as well, perhaps,” he added, with some feelings of guilty pleasure since his mother‘s didn‘t exactly approve of the practice. ”Well, let me stow my gear and then maybe we can get everyone into the galley, to discuss our plans, alright?” said Donen, beginning to feel the weight of his purchases and needing to shed himself of the extra mass. He headed to his cabin where he put away his new suit and tool kit, and arranged to have his old suit sent to an on-station charity that accepted such things for resale, it still being quite serviceable even if somewhat used. He also installed his new sensory lenses, which seemed to working just fine, although his eyes were a bit watery as they adjusted to the enhancements. Before heading to the galley, the Valertrez medic decided to bring along his new wrist DB, in order to program in the optional features he had purchased. Within a few moments Donen found himself in the galley, brewing some hot brown liquid purported to be a caffeinated beverage of some sort. Sipping the vile drink, Donen played with his new toy, installing all the additional modules, as well as programming the device to act as another comm unit as well, and then waited for his crewmates to appear. Posted by Galen Winters on 09.10.2003 at00:15: ”Winters.” Galen replied with bit of a smile, chiding himself gently that he had not thought to introduce himself to his companion. Well, that wasn‘t entirely accurate, but her comments in the liquor store had derailed that train of thought before it left the station. ”Galen Winters. Captain of the IV Heart of Gold.” he added, supposing that it sounded impressive and captain-like. ”Stuck in dock for the time being, waiting on some paperwork to clear Customs.” he added, quite accurately, if intentionally vague. Unconsciously he fiddled with the ashtray and salt shaker, still trying to figure out the best way to broach the subject of Diandriaa‘s talent, the unspoken threat of his pain still frightening to the otherwise jaded spacer. ”What you said earlier, it‟s true. But no matter how true it is, no matter how many times I tell myself that it wasn‟t my fault, I can still see her. See her lying on the floor, like a marionette with her strings cut…” he said, trailing off as his voice threatened to crack under the emotional strain. Galen bit his upper lip as his eyes squinted shut, stemming the tide of tears that threatened to spill down his cheeks, their path having been blazed scores of times before. Taking a deep breath, his grey eyes flickered open once again, still glistening softly with unshed tears, looking to Diandriaa‘s for comfort perhaps. ”But…” he said, the barest hint of a squeak evident, ”But no matter how many times I tell myself that, no matter how true it is, I can‟t forgive myself for letting her go. Letting her go without saying goodbye. Fate didn‟t take that from us, nor did she. I did. All for this.” he stated flatly, barely concealed disgust in his voice as he produced a platinum ring set with sapphires and a single diamond. ”I wanted to take her breath away, prove how much I loved her. All I proved was how much of an idiot I was. An arrogant, prideful one at that. I was so engrossed in giving her the perfect ring that I couldn‟t be anywhere near the lover I should have been. Should have wanted to be.” he emphasized, shaking his head gently. Before he could become overly maudlin, their waitress returned with their drinks, the long and slender shot glass typically mahdi, the liquid decidedly not. Crystal clear liquid shook gently as the young girl placed the glass on their table, the meniscus looking like quicksilver as it caught and reflected the lights of the bar. Next came a flute of champagne, the pale amber liquid blushing slightly orange in accordance with its added flavor, tiny bubbles dancing slowly in and against the glass. A soft tinkling could be heard as the bubbles burst against the crystal, gently banishing the silence which had settled between the two spacefarers. Posted by Diandriaa on 09.10.2003 at01:21: Diandriaa stared at Galen as he unloaded his pain to her. "Man," she thought to herself, "how long has he been holding this in?" She stared at the ring that he was holding as he continued. She understood why he felt the way he did, and she didn't blame him at all. It looked like he worked very hard to get that ring for...whatever her name was... Just because the woman was feeding her messages, didn't mean she knew her name. Galen continued to vent until the waitress showed up with their drinks. Diandriaa took the flute from the waitress the minute she sat it down in front of her and took a drink. Damn. Those Mahdi's sure did know how to make a champagne with a kick to it. It tasted very sweet and very peachy, at first, but the minute it slid down your throat, it felt like your brain was about to go into spasms. But Diandriaa was used to it. "I was with a man named Palantir Fairbanks, he used to be a special narcotics office with Engreia before he retired," she stated out of nowhere, when she realized it was getting too quiet, "I stowed away on his ship when I was seventeen, he decided to keep me on board, and started training me to be his co pilot. Our relationship turned personal a few years later. A little over five years ago, we were turning over a bounty on Illia Vanpor, and he asked me to go planetside with him, but I just didn't feel like it, so I told him I was tired. Well, he got drunk, and some Atevi trader, who was also drunk, made some remark that Palantir didn't like, so he started a fight with him. The fight ended when the Atevi plunged a knife in his stomach. He didn't wait around for help, he stumbled his way back to the ship, and died in my arms just before the dock emergency crew could get there..." She took another large drink of her champagne, winced a little, and continued. "For the next couple of years, I blamed myself for what happened. If I had just gone planetside with him, he wouldn't have gotten drunk, and he sure as hell would have let what the Atevi man slide, and he wouldn't have gotten stabbed. Or, I blamed myself for not taking medical training instead of learning how to fire a fucking plasma pistol. I talked to a very wise teenage girl, who told me that everyone is responsible for their own destiny. Palantir chose to drink too much and start a fight, I didn't make him do it. And if I would have went, what would have stopped that Atevi from coming up behind us and killing one, or both of us when we walked out of the bar? I didn't tell Palantir to come back to the ship while he was suffering a potentially fatal stab wound, he made that choice himself...." "I don't know what happened to your lady, but if I'm right, and it was a Flash overdose, there's nothing you could have done. I know this is going to sound mean, but she knew what she was getting herself into when she started taking it in the first place. Flash addicts are so good at hiding it, that most of the time, no one knows until its too late. Whether or not you busted your ass to get her that ring to show her how much you loved her, or you just worked normally and saved the money over time, you wouldn't have known. She would have smiled and said she was just tired, and if you would have tried to confront her, she would have probably just gotten angry, turned it back to you and disappeared. And she would have died anyway..." She took another drink. "I'm not trying to sound like a know it all, and I certainly don't know you or your lady or the situation, but I am just telling you what I've observed, thats all..." She continued to stare at the ring. "She knows you loved her. You were working hard for her, and your future together, and she knew that, so she wanted to do the same, and she chose the wrong way to accomplish that. You didn't lose her due to some ring, you lost her because she, not you, made a mistake. You may not have given it to her, but thats still her ring, and you still take care of it. One day, when you find a good woman to share your heart with, I'm sure she would want her to have it." She choked back a tear and leaned back in her seat. "You didn't lose your love Galen," she continued softly, "I know you keep seeing her lifeless, like I keep seeing Palantir breathe his last while bleeding to death, but they're still here..." She placed her hand over her heart as she tried to keep herself from crying. "And that, no matter what you do, no matter who you end up with emotionally or sexually, that never dies. She's always there, and Palantir is always here, and we have to do our best with our lives, for their memory. Don't waste her memory by constantly blaming yourself for what happened, she doesn't want that." Diandriaa downed the rest of her drink and looked over at Galen, afraid of what his response was going to be. She just hoped he didn't think she was some longwinded know it all. Posted by Salfiri on 09.10.2003 at03:44: ”Well, let me stow my gear and then maybe we can get everyone into the galley, to discuss our plans, alright?” said the medic with a wry grin. ”Oh! I sent you my analysis of your teas, and my recommendations for your dietary supplements, and if you are interested we might see if we can find Ragnar and make a run for provisions to fill out the good captain‟s meager larder,” he continued with a chuckle. ”And we might want to include a side trip to field test the local intoxicants as well, perhaps,” he added, with some feelings of guilty pleasure since his mother‘s didn‘t exactly approve of the practice. There was a long, thoughtful pause while Salfiri considered what the Babelfish offered her of Donen's words, and she mentally edited the slang and expressions as she was becomming increasingly accustomed to doing. She no longer took things quite so literally, though sometimes she took longer to reply. "One would express thanks, nand' Doctor, and will read the analysis at an appropriate time." the the ebon-skinned Ateva said at length. "One would be pleased to accompany yourself and nadi Ragnar on a provisioning trip, nadi." she added. She made no comment on the suggestion about trialing the local intoxicants, but that didn't mean she dissaproved. Salfiri was relatively talkative for an Ateva, but even so, if there was nothing to clarify or add there was little point in making meaningless noise, especially across the kind of language barrier she faced. ”Well, let me stow my gear and then maybe we can get everyone into the galley, to discuss our plans, alright?” said Donen. "Nadi." Salfiri acknowledged, and set off up the gangway with a graceful step, carrying her load of packages with almost negligent ease. -------- Salfiri ducked through the hatchway to the galley only a few minutes later in shirt-sleeves, carrying her jacket as a bundle, obviously wrapped around a few other items. This she deposited on the table and set about brewing one of her teas. It was a particularly pungent variety that was guaranteed to be highly toxic to someone without an Atevi physiology. Carrying over the pot and a mug, Salfiri left the former to brew and unrolled her jacket, revealing a nasty collection of equipment. IN a companionable silence - as though people did this at the dinner table every day - Salfiri undid her plasma pistol holster from her equipment belt, laid it and it's contents on the table, and picked up the pulse pistol. She began checking it over with the deftness of someone going through a well-practiced routine. Satisfied that the pistol was in good condition, she fitted the larger holster to her belt and settled the shiny black armament with the enlarged grip to fit her Atevi hand into it. Snapping the safety strap on, she was more than satisfied by the feel of the heavier firearm at her side. Reaching for the pot and pouring herself a mug of tea with a heavy fragrance and a pinkish tinge to it, Salfiri finally glanced across at Donen where he was playing with his new toy. "A wrist database, nadi?" She inquired politely. Sipping her tea in silence, enjoying the warming feel of it, she waited to see if Ragnar would appear. Presumably Donen had let him know they were meeting. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 09.10.2003 at04:42: Leaning against the wall seemed to get him nowhere, but then, it never got him anywhere, did it? Ragnar wondered what would be next on his list of things to do before the main part of the day (in his mind, at least) went underway. The rather bored mechanic stood up and started for the nearby ladder to run by the two bays and check things out there quick, but when he got to the well, he heard a voice. Not thinking that it would have been anyone other than Salfiri or Donen (Galen was definitely gone, he believed), he slid down the two poles and approached the two. ―I believe I heard my name..‖ he interjected opportunely, sounding way more perky than he had ever intended. He cleared his throat, then continued listening in like a good boy. After they parted, Ragnar left with just a slight nod, stopping in the med bay to inspect his job for a couple minutes before entering the galley. Upon entering, he smelled some soycof, something he wished he never smelled. Yes, it wanted to be coffee. It tried very, very hard. But even copying the coffee bean‘s genes wasn‘t enough to make it taste like coffee, apparently. Sure, it was caffeinated and had the same basic properties of a coffee bean. It surely tasted more like paper paste, rather than coffee, though. Sugar and milk helped, but it still smelled like someone had mistakenly brewed dirt and wood chips unless one bought good soycof. But wasn‘t that an oxymoron, when you could just buy regular coffee instead? Still in what he considered full gear, his SL jacket and three pistols, he continued in on meeting his two crewmates. He did pour himself a little of the blackish liquid, but only sipped at it silently as he listened in on the conversation. Posted by Donen Krell on 13.10.2003 at06:24: As Donen toyed with his new wrist database, Salfiri entered and began playing with her new toy as well. Donen was about to ask the Ateva about her new weapon when the DB began glitching and Donen‘s attention went back to figuring out what was going on with his new purchase. Eventually, all the modules were installed and functioning properly, when Salfiri reached for the pot and began pouring herself a mug of tea with a heavy fragrance and a pinkish tinge to it, Salfiri finally glanced across at Donen where he was playing with his new toy. "A wrist database, nadi?" she inquired politely. ”Yes, nadi, one with emergency medical data for Terran, Valertrez, Atevi, Hani/Mahdi and Xu-adey,” said the medic, beaming. ”These modules aren‟t as complete as the full Ateva database you gave to me, but they are good enough for field triage and keeping people stable until we could dock somewhere with full medical facilities.” Donen caught a whiff of Salfiri‘s tea and coughed. ”Whew! That smells like one of your more potent brews…one I‟m sure I should pass on if offered,” he said with a wry grin. ”It looks like you found yourself a new toy as well, eh, Salfiri?” said Donen. ”Remind me never to make you angry…” he added with a short laugh just as the mechanic made his entrance into the galley and took his life into his hands by pouring himself a cup of soycof. ”Hiya Rags,” said Donen in greeting. ”Salfiri wanted to see mine, and I was just asking to see hers, so you may as well show off your own as well…” teased the medic who was in high spirits for some reason, and delighting himself with double entendres. ”Say, after the show and tell, we should make a run for some real food…maybe even some real coffee. And maybe we could find a good Mahdi tavern and toss down a few…what do you two say, huh? I‟m feeling frisky!” said the staid med spec suddenly feeling in a rowdy mood. Posted by Salfiri on 14.10.2003 at02:44: Salfiri listened with every evidence of genuine interest as Donen talked about his latest aquisition and the upgrades he had obtained for it. Certainly it sounded like a very useful piece of equipment. Donen caught a whiff of Salfiri‘s tea and coughed. ”Whew! That smells like one of your more potent brews…one I‟m sure I should pass on if offered,” he said with a wry grin. "One would not offer a brew one knew to be incompatible with your health, nadi." Salfiri said quietly. She had shared a pot of 'safe' tea with them during the FTL jump, though safe was a relative term and not everyone found it pleasant. Most humans found it an aquired taste but Salfiri seemed to live on it. ”It looks like you found yourself a new toy as well, eh, Salfiri?” said Donen. ”Remind me never to make you angry…” he added with a short laugh. This time Salfiri picked up on the humour, which was always a little hit and miss across species. "One is dissapointed, Donen-ji," she said, full lips curving in a wry smile, "One has yet to find a suitable situation to test it." She patted the pulse pistol, then ripped it from the holster in one fluid and very rapid movement. She held it out, turned it this way and that and then offered it to Donen to inspect. "A pulse plasma pistol nadi, the heavier firepower and greater accuracy can be a distinct advantage." Though of course the things had a much lower rate of fire, but that would be why Salfiri was now fitting her standard plasma pistol to her new leap holster. Her size was a distinct advantage when it came to concealing weaponry, given that she could probably hide an assault rifle beneath her long formal coat. Not thinking that it would have been anyone other than Salfiri or Donen (Galen was definitely gone, he believed), Ragnar slid down the two poles and approached the two. “I believe I heard my name..” he interjected opportunely, sounding way more perky than he had ever intended. "Nadi Ragnar." Salfiri acknowledged as the mechanic made his way into the galley, also apparently in a good mood. Their arrival at Anuurn Gateway had raised the spirits of the entire crew, who dispite the large amount of space they had to rattle around in given their understaffed nature had all all apparently been harbouring chronic cases of cabin fever. A walk on the docks had perked them all up. Or perhaps it was just the retail therapy. "One has aquired an assault rifle nadi and would be pleased to assist in the modification of one's rail rifle at a time that is convenient to you." She said, talking to Rags. "One does not doubt there will be ample time." They spent a fair bit of time in space with little to do, there was no need to rush the job now. Never mind the fact that there was no way in a Terran hell she would be able to take the rail rifle on the transport to Anuurn. ”Hiya Rags,” said Donen in greeting. ”Salfiri wanted to see mine, and I was just asking to see hers, so you may as well show off your own as well…” teased the medic who was in high spirits for some reason, and delighting himself with double entendres. ”Say, after the show and tell, we should make a run for some real food…maybe even some real coffee. And maybe we could find a good Mahdi tavern and toss down a few…what do you two say, huh? I‟m feeling frisky!” said the staid med spec suddenly feeling in a rowdy mood. Salfiri of course missed the double entendre but like anyone in her line of work she had a fascination with weaponry and had noticed that Ragnar was carrying more than he had earlier. "Indeed nadi Ragnar, one would be interested to see your latest aquisition." And Salfiri truelly did have an interest in firearms that went beyond the simply professional. A well made piece was a thing of beauty, whatever other people might say. 'Frisky' turned up a translation that had to do with animals and a certain time of year, and Salfiri dismissed it as incorrect, yet another part of the language barrier, but the prospect of spending some time dockside investigating the various establishments and emporia at a more leisurely pace did appeal. "Certainly, one believes we were agreed in regards to aquiring fresh produce for meals, and now would be the best opportunity nadiin." She said. With Anuurn right there the fresh food would not be nearly so expensive. "And one has never seen a Mahdi tavern." She added with a flicker of a smile. She'd worked with a few Hani or Mahdi, she wasn't too sure of the definition, like that between Terran and Valertrezm save that it seemed to imply a life in space, but Stargazer had been very standardised, whereas Anuurn Gateway was far more alien. The idea appealed. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 15.10.2003 at01:21: As always happens when someone just enters a room like that, the conversation stopped for a few seconds. Whether intentional or not, it just simply happened. It always bothered him, ever since his days in the Scorpion Vigilantes. Whenever you entered a room where three or four people were talking, they would just stop for a second. And when you were part of it, it was always ―Jonesy‘s hooked on Glitter‖ or ―Val tried slitting his wrists last night.‖ He had listened in on one such group talking about him, that he was sort of a glutton for pain, and probably a Fang addict. And, of course, he was both on separate occasions, but that was beside the point and in the past now. Breathing in, he decided it wouldn‘t bother him and continued with his coffee. Once the conversation resumed, then promptly ended, he looked up at Donen as the medic threw him a harmless ‗hiya.‘ Underneath his brow, he looked at him lightly, wondering a little what their previous conversation had been about. Then, slightly to his surprise, he said, "Salfiri wanted to see mine, and I was just asking to see hers, so you may as well show off your own as well…" As the unfortunate mechanic was taking a sip of the steamy stuff the package called Coff- EZ!, and was unprepared for such a thought-provoking statement, he swallowed a bit more than he‘d intended to. Now with a slightly scalded throat, he managed roughly, ―Wh..what?‖ Of course, once he saw Salfiri eye his left hip and ask about his new stuff, he sort of got it. His look of surprise turned to a laugh, and while Donen proposed they all go out and be buddy-buddy for the day, he shot his wrist down with honed precision, twirled his wrist quickly, and returned it to chest level a split-second later with the long barrel of the Repentance in his palm, offering it for Salfiri to inspect. ―11.35 millimeters, biggest they make ‗er. I just couldn‘t help myself..and yeah, I‘m free anytime for that conversion. Should be fun..‖ Grinning to Donen with a sly look in his eye, and much appreciative of the joke, he continued, ―I could go for some decent brew, and just plain old need some good food. If I didn‘t know any better, I‘d say I‘m on a diet right now, I‘m eating so little..‖ He wouldn‘t admit it out loud, but he was rather surprised when he heard Donen mention a bar. He thought it was a great idea, he just wasn‘t expecting it. ―A few drinks sounds real good, man! Shit, I haven‘t sat down at a bar with anyone in particular for years..‖ Reholstering his large pistol and snapping it securely, he took another, smaller drink of the soycof with a genuine smile on his face. Of the past month, he had neither gone outside the ship with anyone else nor had a good drink, both of which, had he thought about it, he would say he felt were needed. Posted by Donen Krell on 17.10.2003 at06:43: The med spec was definitely enjoying his current euphoria, utterly pleased with himself for getting not only a genuine smile out of the normally impassive Ateva, but being called Donen-ji which was a term denoting close association…not ”friend”, the Valertrez had to remind himself. The Ateva had no concept of friendship…the concept being as alien to the Atevi as the lack of such a concept was alien to humans. Nonetheless, Donen felt more secure knowing that he and Ragnar were probably growing more tightly bound into the Ateva bodyguard‘s sense of man-chi toward their captain. The tall, ebony Ateva missed the implications of his banter with Ragnar, which, on the whole, was probably a good thing. Donen really wasn‘t sure what Salfiri would make of references to interspecies sexual practices, or how she would actually interpret such randy, but harmless banter. He was pleased to see that the ship‘s mechanic got the intended double meaning of Donen‘s play on words, although the medic had a fleeting mischievous image of Rags snorting coffee out his nose, instead of just scalding his throat a little in his startled reaction. He immediately had a small twinge of guilt as to what his mothers would say about all this rude banter of his, and plans to go barhopping. He successfully squelched the guilt as he reflected on the fact that he was beginning to bond with his newfound crewmates. He was clearly no longer feeling as if a gang of pirates had shanghaied him, even though he still knew very little of what Captain Winters' work really was all about. Both Salfiri and Ragnar seemed to be as delighted with their new weaponry, as Donen was with his new wrist DB, and everyone seemed keen on both the shopping trip and a visit to a local tavern. ”Well, as soon as you two are finished playing with your new toys, I‟m ready to head back dockside,” said Donen, grimacing after taking another unsatisfying sip of his soycafe. Posted by Salfiri on 17.10.2003 at08:52: Salfiri gravely accepted the Repentance from Ragnar and ran a practiced eye over the weapon, passing it from hand to hand and inspecting it with the casual ease of someone who really knows what they're doing. The hand grip of course wasn't really large enough for her, but the size difference was not so great that she could not hold it. She had borrowed the Captain's Caster pistol before. It was only the rifles with the palm-wide trigger guards that presented a big problem. "An impressive piece of weaponry nadi Ragnar." She said, nodding appreciatively. "There is a certain... biichi-gi," she said, then searched for an approximation, "a finesse to the ballistic arms." She offered the Repentance back. "One would hope to one day aquire a similar weapon, but one must purchase for practicality first in one's profession." She said simply. Then she was getting the Sniper Rifle. Ragnar seconded the idea of the food run with unusual enthusiasm for the jaded engineer, and Donen was grinning from ear to ear. Their faces were so open, so readable. Did they keep no thoughts to themselves? Salfiri tactfully retrieved her Pulse Pistol and reholstered it, then pulled on the leap holster and the masker device. Her jacket went over the top of those and the heavy plasma shield strapped to the outside of her left forarm. ”Well, as soon as you two are finished playing with your new toys, I‟m ready to head back dockside.” Said Donen cheerfully. Salfiri nodded. "One is ready nadi." And for the first time in a very long while she felt it. She was armed to the teeth which was just how she liked it. She had been missing her usual armoury of weapons which had all been left on Shai-san. Rising gracefully to her feet and coming only a couple of inches shy of the ceiling, Salfiri glanced golden-eyed at her two crewmates, the two who, it would see, fell within her man- chi to Captain Winters. She'd never heard of such before, though surely it must have happened, but she could not deny the rightness of it, for all that they were incurably alien. They were her associates, and this was her place. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 18.10.2003 at17:39: Though not entirely certain what they were going to do once they got out there, Ragnar didn‘t much care at the moment. Things seemed to be falling into place, or maybe the flow of this metaphoric river was just right for him. Either way, as the rest of the caffeinated beverage slid down smoothly (almost too smooth, thought Ragnar), he set the cup down and unconsciously wiped his oil-stained hands on the back of his jeans, even though they were clean. The past couple months had been rife with uncertainty and edginess. It really began when he rejoined with his old buddies to start the Wrath of Darkness. Then, it went from his abrupt separation and a burned arm escaping from an Engreia jackass to coping with four new crewmates he thought he‘d be with for quite awhile. Of course, he‘d lost Rewedyk at the halfway point to Anuurn, which was no ‗oh well‘ incident. He still blamed himself, when he made the mistake of thinking about it. Later on, things had calmed down..he healed up finally, got things settled, and could get on with adjusting to his new life on the Heart of Gold. The past two weeks, especially, had been great to smooth things out. The crew had come to know and at least tolerate each other; he noticed that Donen in particular, who had in his eyes avoided and loathed the ex-gangster, had become more friendly towards him, and even joking with him just now. Knowing that you‘re hated for who you are is a terrible feeling, and though Ragnar didn‘t ever quite feel that, he got a hint of it. So here the mechanic stood with two of his friends, taking on a small caffeine high and ready to go out. ―Well, as soon as you two are finished playing with your new toys, I‘m ready to head back dockside.‖ Donen said cheerfully. ―One is ready, nadi.‖ Salfiri added. ―Yeah, I‘m done here.‖ Ragnar said quickly. ―Perhaps one of you two can use those high- tech wrist DBs you have and find us a fresh food mart? There‘s got to be one on station..‖ And with a slight smirk, he nonverbally motioned for the party to start out of the kitchen and outward to the station itself. Posted by Donen Krell on 27.10.2003 at06:16: Donen made his way down to the airlock, still in a positively buoyant mood. Whatever mischief the Captain was up to, the med spec and his two crewmates were looking forward to an evening of shopping for real food to pad the galley, followed by some pure R&R in some thoroughly disreputable Mahdi bar that would positively scandalize your mothers, he thought wryly, with just a hint of rebellious pleasure. The Valertrez medic couldn‘t resist putting the new wrist DB to work…even if it wasn‘t the main reason he purchased it, Donen‘s toy made quick work of locating an enclave of merchants that sold planet-side produce, meat and other natural foodstuff rather than the artificial, processed, tasteless muck the Captain tended to stock. Calling up the station map he was able to make good time in getting his crewmates into the correct section of Anuurn Gateway. As Donen made his way into the odd collection of stalls in that particular segment of the retail market of the station, he wondered if it was such a good idea after all. A confusing mixture of unfamiliar smells almost bowled him over. Although his mothers swore by fresh foodstuffs when they could get it, they often bartered for it with passing traders and very rarely made the shopping trips themselves, and even when they did, Donen had never been along. Thinking about fresh food brought the memories and smells of Sarah‘s cooking to mind…not this cacophony of scent. Ugh, if this is what things smell like downworld, I think I’ll stay in orbit, he thought, his buoyant mood suddenly deflating. The medic turned a somewhat bewildered face toward his two comrades. ”Uh, well…maybe you two should lead from here. I‟ve eaten and cooked a lot of fresh food, but I, er, have never really done any of the shopping before. I‟ll try to help out though…if I see anything that looks familiar…and, uh, edible,” he said tentatively, wrinkling his nose at the odd smells and glancing around at the array of mostly open stalls. Posted by Diandriaa on 27.10.2003 at08:24: Diandriaa ran her fingers around the rim of the empty champagne flute. Galen hadn't said a word, and looked as though he were in some kind of daze. Nothing she said had gotten through to him. She could feel it. She also felt it did more harm than good. Plus, dragging up Palantirs story again to someone else, didn't do her much good either. "Are you allright Galen?" Nothing. She was starting to get pissed. Sighing, she stood up, grabbing her trench coat. "Look, I'm really sorry I dug up a bad memory, it wasn't my intention," she stated, "but if you want to let a woman, dead or alive, control your life, be my guest. I hope you have a nice life Mr. Winters." She hated sounding so harsh, but as she reached over the table and grabbed the wine she purchased earlier, she realized it had no effect on him. She left the bar and started walking briskly down the street towards the nearest hotel room she could check in to. Diandriaa's mind swam with all the days events. Her parents, their possible deaths, her sister, now this guy. And Ravyne Quincy thought she was a nut case. She was probably being too hard on Galen though. He did blame himself for this womans death, and he loved her and he still missed her. She couldn't blame him for that. Palantir was the first love she ever had, the only love she ever had, and she missed him every day. Different people handle things their own way, she supposed. That was when she realized her eyes felt dry, like she was ready to cry, or had been. She continued her pace, while she dug through her coat pocket looking for her sunglasses. She was so preoccupied that she didn't see the Atevi female walking with the two Terran men, until she ran into the dark haired one. "Oh shit I am so sorry." she said, looking up, "I should have been looking where I was....." Wow. This guy was cute. Rock star cute. She almost lost her voice. "Going," she continued, as she backed away from him, "pardon me, sorry.." She then pulled her sunglasses out of their hiding place, gave the cute guy one last look, put them on and continued up the road to the hotel, where she checked in, drank half the bottle of the wine, and fell asleep. ((ooc: okay guys, I'm out. thanks)) Posted by Salfiri on 28.10.2003 at02:48: “Perhaps one of you two can use those high-tech wrist DBs you have and find us a fresh food mart? There‟s got to be one on station..” Ragnar said quickly. “Perhaps one of you two can use those high-tech wrist DBs you have and find us a fresh food mart? There‟s got to be one on station..” And with a slight smirk, he nonverbally motioned for the party to start out of the kitchen and outward to the station itself. As they exited the hatch, Salfiri keyed the lockout codes to seal the ship, also letting Goldie know where they were going and to only admit crew. Then, since it was obvious that Donen was itching for an opportunity to test his new wrist database, Salfiri followed quietly as the Doctor led them through the twists and turns of Anuurn station. At last, an open market appeared, selling every kind of Hani craft and trinket known, but also a wide selection of Hani produce. Foodstuffs of various types; plants, meat, edible fungi, filled the air with a cacophony of smells, a delight to a planet-born nose after the sterile air of the Heart of Gold, smelling of little save synthetics and a slight whiff of grease. Diandraa continued her pace, while she dug through her coat pocket looking for her sunglasses. She was so preoccupied that she didn't see the Atevi female walking with the two Terran men, until she ran into the dark haired one. "Oh shit I am so sorry." she said, looking up, "I should have been looking where I was....." She stared. She almost lost her voice. "Going," she continued, as she backed away from him, "pardon me, sorry.." She then pulled her sunglasses out of their hiding place, gave the cute guy one last look, put them on and continued up the road to the hotel. Salfiri stepped forward as the woman careened into Ragnar, concerned at a possible thread to her associates. In a strange space station and amongst a race she had only limited experience with she was wary. But the human woman only looked startled, muttured an appology, paused to stare a moment at Ragnar with an expression Salfiri wasn't sure she read correctly, and walked away. Salfiri took her hand off her pulse pistol, and returned her attention to the market about them. The medic turned a somewhat bewildered face toward his two comrades. ”Uh, well…maybe you two should lead from here. I‟ve eaten and cooked a lot of fresh food, but I, er, have never really done any of the shopping before. I‟ll try to help out though…if I see anything that looks familiar…and, uh, edible,” Donen said tentatively, wrinkling his nose at the odd smells and glancing around at the array of mostly open stalls. "One would be happy to make selections, nadi Donen, but one is not an expert on nutrition and although one has a broad knowledge of which foods are not tolerated by other races, one could not be certain all one's selections would be safe. However, if you would be willing to test our purchases for safety?" She suggested. The food here was mostly native Anuurn produce, not familiar to any of them. For her part, the black-skinned security officer made a bee-line for a stall selling fresh meat, newly hunted or harvested on Anuurn's surface and shipped up to the station. Tiny signs written in several scripts proclaimed the type of meat and it's origins. Some were sea-based and so presumably came under the clasification of 'fish', while others were land animals or even something referred to as 'birds'. Apparently some worlds had an abundance of airbourne life. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 29.10.2003 at02:41: Didi, we're Valertrez! *cries* Ragnar made his way, with Donen and Salfiri, down the dockside promenades that surrounded the docks. Occasionally, they made some small chat, but all three of them were waiting to get to the store and get something good to last them for awhile. Ah yes..shopping.. As they neared the place, Ragnar recalled a couple old memories of what his version of ‗shopping‘ mostly consisted of back in the day. So he was a little lost himself when this fiery-looking woman ran straight into him, apparently with her head out in space as his was. He shifted his gaze downward curiously to see the dark-haired girl look up from the top of his chest, where she took a step back and stood there a moment, apparently dumbfounded. He didn‘t notice his companions as this pair of emerald eyes caught him for an ephemeral moment. Slowly, as if she was having difficulty doing anything at the moment, the girl muttered an apology, said a quick goodbye, and hesitated another moment before slowly moving on. After a very brief glance to his companions, he himself shrugged, his face a little bewildered, and nonverbally motioned them onward. Sal had looked a little wary, which was understandable. Had she not looked so confused herself, he would‘ve checked all his pockets. Donen, on the other hand, had raised an eyebrow. He was probably wondering why Ragnar hadn‘t apologized himself, or even said a word; but if asked, he would‘ve said that he didn‘t apologize to good-looking women for bumping into them on the street. Because, in truth, he really wasn‘t sorry at all. A quick couple minutes passed by in Ragnar‘s mind as he kept up with his friends. He was still a little dazed from his earlier encounter. He wasn‘t exactly thinking about her, but his mind wasn‘t exactly anywhere else, either. Finally, when they did enter the grocery store, he found it hard to bring himself back around and focus, though the fresh scent of all sorts of good food on his empty stomach prompted him to think about all that later. Donen‘s voice brought him fully back to the real world when he said unsurely, ―Uh, well…maybe you two should lead from here. I‘ve eaten and cooked a lot of fresh food, but I, er, have never really done any of the shopping before. I‘ll try to help out though…if I see anything that looks familiar…and, uh, edible,‖ ―One would be happy to make selections, nadi Donen, but one is not an expert on nutrition and although one has a broad knowledge of which foods are not tolerated by other races, one could not be certain all one's selections would be safe. However, if you would be willing to test our purchases for safety?‖ Salfiri, as always, was insightful; Ragnar hadn't even thought of that. He was confronted with his definition of ‗shopping‘ just then, which typically meant a midnight run out for beer and munchies or some such. He had, however, done his fair share of fresh-food grocery shopping and *gasp!* cooking. Oftentimes they‘d actually get fed up with eating junk and take turns making a real meal, even if for only the few that cared. And on an established, high-population station like his Scorpions, there was always fresh food coming from the agricultural sectors. What little meat they had was expensive, but on a planet‘s gateway station, they didn‘t have that problem. Still uneasy, as he hadn‘t done anything like this in a year or more, he still said, ―I can pick out some things, spices and a few things..maybe there‘s someone who can help us here, like a deli guy or something..‖ The relatively clueless mechanic started perusing the shelves, seeing what there was to see, trying to keep his mind on the situation. Posted by Donen Krell on 31.10.2003 at07:34: At Salfiri‘s prompting, Donen acknowledged that he would attempt to determine the safety of the food items they might decide to purchase. And upon reflection, he remembered that with just a bit of minor modification, his bioscan glove could be used to analyze the nutritional content of the foods contemplated, as well as check for signs of bacterial contamination, other harmful pathogens, or even just ascertain if the food was near to spoiling. He was also able to cross-check this information with the database he had set up to determine what supplements Salfiri might need in her diet. As the Valertrez medic realized how he could utilize his new wrist DB and his bioscan glove to assist in their shopping venture, he became much less reticent to participate in their shopping spree. As Donen walked among the stalls, it became readily evident that the Hani were a carnivorous, hunting species. There seemed to be a wide selection of fresh meat from a large variety of beasts, with which the medic was completely unfamiliar. After looking through a number of refrigerated stalls which hosted an array of whole carcasses of gutted and skinned beasts, the young man returned to the stall that seemed to contain the freshest stock and chatted with the proprietor about the relative merits of the taste and tenderness of the various food animals. Following several moments of animated discussion, Donen chose several sides of some different species, based partly on nutritional data and partly on aesthetics and arranged to have the meat sent to the ship. The medic pointed out several varieties of herbs, apparently used for medicinal purposes among the Hani, but which had relatively high concentrations of the alkaloids Salfiri was lacking, which the Ateva could either imbibe as a variety of tea, or add to a salad to supplement her diet. Donen also came across something the Hani called gfi, which was a drink that contained a mild stimulant like coffee or tea, but with some nutritional value as well…kind of like broth, which was apparently a standard staple on ships with Hani/Mahdi crew. ”Hey Rags!” called out Donen, grinning. ”Maybe we can use this stuff to wean you off of your soycafe addiction,” he teased, as he authorized a shipment to be sent back to the HoG‘s docking bay. Attempting to use both his medical knowledge of proper nutrition, combined with his mother, Lisa‘s, good sense about meal preparation, he tried to identify a host of different grains, tubers, legumes, vegetables and fruits, not to mention spices, that could take the place of most of the processed foods that Captain Winters tended to stock. Bowing to practicalities, Donen realized that processed foods could not, and should not, be completely replaced…in space one quickly learned the wisdom of redundant backups to deal with unforeseen contingencies…but in choosing processed foods the Valertrez tried to get more than the grey stew Galen seemed to favor. With a bit of searching, he was able to find suppliers that stocked processed food from a variety of vendors, including brands of alien cuisine that were guaranteed safe for a wide range of species, and thereby add some diversion to the tedium of bland processed food. Is there anything else you two can think of, that we might need?” he asked his two crewmates. ”Anything I‟ve forgotten? Or are we ready for the serious consumption of fermented grain beverages?” he asked with a mischievous grin. Posted by Galen Winters on 02.11.2003 at14:31: Galen‘s mind wandered as Diandriaa wove her own tale of loss and pain, feeling each stepping stone laid by her words before it fell to the path before him. The story became nearly predictable, not from triteness, but of how close it hit to home for the grey-eyed Valertrez. Part of him, of course, wanted to rail back at her, scream that she didn‘t know what she was talking about, the he and Elena had been different, special. And there’s the trap, my boy he chided himself gently. Without anything in common, people would have nothing to being them together, nothing to reach for, to complete themselves. We are all angels with but one wing. Only by embracing each other may we fly he recited silently, remembering an old Earth quote he was fond of telling Elena. Trouble was, for all these years after, he couldn‘t let go. Elena had been Galen‘s first love, and a completely unexpected one at that. Watching a childish bet turn into the seeds of a blossoming romance would be quite odd, yet remarkably touching, to an outside observer. How could you give up something that unique, that . . . special. Galen could only ask himself what she wanted from him. Give up the memories? Out of the question. Leave behind the pain? Even if he wanted to, it was impossible. What then? Deny himself love? Foolish at best, though Galen refused to admit it. Was there another Elena out there? Probably not. There probably wasn‘t another Diandriaa, or Galen, or anyone else in the small bar they found themselves in. All he had at the moment was himself, and his companion, and a drink he had barely touched. Ahh, yes, have to love the liquid courage he mocked himself, before averting his closed eyes and drinking deeply of the smooth liquid. Firmly planting the stout shotglass onto the plasteel tabletop, Galen exhaled forcefully, clearing the extraneous thoughts from his mind. He wanted to focus on Diandriaa, instead of the past, and set himself on that course. ”Sometimes I couldn‟t tell what Elena want . . . ed” he said, trailing off quickly as he saw the empty glass and empty seat across from him. The slight grin he had worn in remembrance of some of the good times faded slowly, his disappointment more in himself than anything else. Yet another brilliant performance, Galen. I simply must remember that witty banter the next time we have a lady guest. he scolded himself mercilessly. His mouth, however, decided to be more succinct and to the point. ”Fuck.” he breathed quietly. Galen swiped his credstick through the nicely unobtrusive slot built into the table, standing up slowly and straightening his coat, preening gently for no one in particular. Pale grey sharkskin rustled softly as he made his way to the door, looking for an exodus from the debacle that had been his return to social interaction. The corridor outside was thankfully empty of all but the barest hint of pedestrian traffic. With a gentle sigh, the tall Captain turned smartly and strode off towards the store where he had first met the enigmatic empath. Posted by Salfiri on 04.11.2003 at02:32: Whatever Donen's insistance during the jump that the Atevi practice of hunting their meat was not widespread, Salfiri was finding kindred tastes between her people and the Hani. For all that she was twice the height of the female Mahdi behind the game stall that Donen seemed most interested in, the furry woman seemed little intimidated, far more interested in making a sale. As the medic chattered with the stall holder about the merits of each type of game animal, Salfiri indicated which cuts should be the best, if these animals were anything like those on Shai-san, and verified these with the woman. The thought of cooking with the provisions they were now purchasing and having a decent meal was most appealing. Stalls selling vegetables, fruits and grains were duly inspected and a variety purchased. In each case they were careful not to aquire a large quantity of any one thing. For while Donen's equipment could indicate which was safe to eat, it said nothing about taste, and the last thing they wanted was to end up with a fridge full of something they didn't want to eat. As Ragnar picked out a variety of interesting looking herbs and Donen teased him about his soycafe, Salfiri inspected a few prepared foods that one stall offered. Foods either preserved or presented in traditional manners. The idea was interesting, Atevi never preserved meat, but Ragnar had mentioned something called 'pepperoni' - apparently a type of spiced and fermented preserved meat - in relation to pizza. That one she did know, her own people had adopted the idea with relish. ”Anything I‟ve forgotten? Or are we ready for the serious consumption of fermented grain beverages?” Donen asked his two crewmates. ”Anything I‟ve forgotten? Or are we ready for the serious consumption of fermented grain beverages?” he asked with a mischievous grin. Salfiri finished making a last-minute purchase, then nodded in Donen's direction. "One believes we have aquired ample sufficiency nadi." She replied, the fact that she was on guard now that they were out in the open evidenced by her formal speech. "Would you agree, nadi Ragnar?" When it seemed that the three of them had reached an agreement, Donen checked the station map on his DB and the three of them headed off through the crowds. Although spacers of other races were known here, it was primarily a Mahdi station, and the crew of the Heart of Gold stuck out like a sore thumb. Garbed in black in contrast to the golden furred and brightly clad Mahdi, the three were hard to miss. The two Valertrez towered above the Mahdi females and Salfiri towered over even the rarer males. They cut through the crowds like a pulse pistol through flesh, obviously on a mission. The pub was hardly the kind of place Salfiri had been accustomed to frequent in her time as a Lord's bodyguard, though her time on Stargazer had broadened her experience somewhat. It was what one would typically expect in a spacer dive, had she known. Dark, dingy, full of Mahdi spacers with rings in their ears and scars on their noses and a higher concentration of non-Mahdi than was seen on the docks. People obviously tended to gravitate here. The air smelled of alcohol, of the smoke sticks some people were adicted to and the sweat of a variety of species, making a distinctive combination. Ducking under the door lintel in Donen's wake and finding to her consternation that her hair brushed against the ceiling inside, Salfiri joined her crewmates at a booth against a wall where the lighting was even lower, managing to get her legs under the table and settled her wedging her feet against the bottom of the opposite bench, making sure that she could see the door and as much of the bar as possible. "One would doubt nadiin that familiar beverages will be economical, if they are available. One would be interested to sample the local alternatives." Salfiri suggested, feeling slightly adventurous herself, and secure in her posession of a highly tolerant metabolism that, thus far, had not failed her. She was enjoying the closer association that had been growing between the crewmembers of the Heart of Gold, and it was an adventure they were sharing. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 05.11.2003 at01:37: Mm..nothing like good, gourmet.. As he stared down the cold case, specifically the pepperoni (they had been quite fond of easy foods such as pizza back on the Scorps), Donen called to him. He approached, wondering what it was that he could be calling Rags over for. A question, mayhaps? "Maybe we can use this stuff to wean you off of your soycafe addiction!‖ was what he was greeted with instead. ―Oh, yeah, sure..‖ his sarcastic tone faded as he looked at the stuff; there had been a few Mahdi in TSV in its time, so he‘d seen a little gfi, and had even tried some once. ―Oh, yeah, I‘ve had this before. Interesting stuff..it‘s an acquired taste, I‘d say, but I like it. Definitely better than my juice.‖ After noting that the medic had grabbed some of the strange stuff, he went back to the cold case, noticed Salfiri nearby, and ran it by her before adding it to their ever-growing tab, along with an armful of small jars full of various herbs and spices, including a few of the more popular Mahdi blends he‘d never seen before. Before too long, they‘d racked up what seemed to be a pretty sizable load, and one that would probably last them for a week or more out to sea. ―Anything I‘ve forgotten? Or are we ready for the serious consumption of fermented grain beverages?‖ Donen asked his two crewmates with a mischievous grin as they were racking up their bill at the counter. Salfiri finished making a last-minute purchase, then nodded in Donen's direction. ―One believes we have aquired ample sufficiency nadi.‖ She replied, the fact that she was on guard now that they were out in the open evidenced by her formal speech. ―Would you agree, nadi Ragnar?‖ With a small nod, he said, ―Oh yeah, I can‘t wait to get home later and fix something up with all this. But for now, I‘m ready to hit the local drinking hole..‖ And he needed it, alright. It had been such a long time, and when he was used to hitting the local bar whenever he got pissed or lonely or tired or anything else..he would hit it almost nightly. Of course, those feelings didn‘t really fade, but the drinking had. Almost all the time these days, it seemed, he was stowing it. Tonight might do him some good.. Following his two companions out of the grocery store, and into the Mahdi-filled streets, he briefly thought of that human girl he‘d run into earlier. She wouldn‘t be too hard to spot in a crowd like this, but he didn‘t see her, of course. Come to think of it, though, the three of them stuck out even more in this sea of short, furry people. Many of these were traditional Hani venturing up there for the first time, gold furred and unfamiliar with anything off their planet. And while this station was more or less a projection of Anuurn, they were allowed to romp all over it, as they were doing right now. Entering the shady bar, he felt right at home immediately. A dim, golden glow emanated from the sparse lighting fixtures, and even then clouded by the low haze of cigarette smoke. Lucky he‘d brought his with him; as soon as they sat down in their well-positioned booth, he absently lit one up himself, as if he‘d been doing it all his life. He didn‘t feel the urge all that often, but this was one of those times. The mechanic, who had become comfortable all to quickly, surveyed the scene before finally starting to decide what to start off with, keeping in mind that he‘d be trying all new drinks since they were quite a ways from Scorpion territory. As the waitress came up to them, he randomly chose two shots of stuff he‘d never heard of, along with a large appetizer plate to help keep all their heads level longer. ―Ah..‖ Looking at Salfiri and Donen from across the table, he paused before continuing. ―Been a long time since I‘ve done something like this..reminds me of some crazy times, to say the least.‖ He took a deep drag of the smoke between his fingers, remembering some of said crazy times, trying not to lose touch; after all, he was out with friends! That would be just plain impolite.. Posted by Donen Krell on 12.11.2003 at07:11: After following the station map on his DB, Donen found himself entering his first Mahdi bar, which was exactly the sort of low-life joint his mothers always preached against, being very set against intoxicants of any type, not to mention the shady characters inhabiting the darkened tavern. He chuckled to himself that he seemed to have become one of those shady characters, and then had an uncomfortable thought of what they would say if they could see him at that moment. Coloring slightly, he forged ahead, staunchly determined to enjoy himself despite the voices of his mothers echoing in his head tempering his pleasure with a little guilt. Fighting to get himself out of his own head, he noticed how low the ceiling was for Salfiri, and how much taller she was than the Mahdi patrons. Donen noted that both he and Rags were both taller than the majority of locals, which according to his medical notes were the females; the larger ones closer in size to the two Valertrez were the more aggressive males. He found an empty booth, and Salfiri wedged herself in a position where she could view the whole bar. He took a seat on one side of her, and Ragnar found a seat on the other. "One would doubt nadiin that familiar beverages will be economical, if they are available. One would be interested to sample the local alternatives." Salfiri suggested, looking slightly less guarded, and in fact seemed almost gleefully adventurous by comparison to the Rahgari's usual reserve. Donen was feeling just as daring in this little illicit adventure of his, and waving over a waitress he told her to just surprise him with something, grinning like a kid in a confection shop. As the waitress came up to him, Ragnar randomly chose two shots of stuff he‘d never heard of, along with a large appetizer plate to help keep all their heads level longer. “Ah….” Looking at Salfiri and Donen from across the table, he paused before continuing. “Been a long time since I‟ve done something like this reminds me of some crazy times, to say the least.” He took a deep drag of the smoke between his fingers. Donen took a huge swig of the concoction the waitress had brought him, and he went somewhat wide-eyed as the liquid burned its way down his esophagus. Attempting to cover his lack of experience with hard liquor, he tried to speak, hoping to sound more macho. ”Smooth,” he croaked hoarsely. Unbidden he began to pick up random flashes of anger, hostility and fear telepathically, but had trouble focusing his attention on where the feelings were coming from or why. Without alerting his crewmates, Donen tried to enjoy the convivial nature of their outing, but also tried to see if he could make out anything more definitive on the brief flash of negative emotions in the tavern. Posted by Salfiri on 14.11.2003 at04:14: As the Mahdi waitress came over to find out what they wanted, Salfiri listened to her two companions orders before choosing a shot of a simple-sounding spirit for herself, prefering to start with the basics to get a taste for the liquor. It was also less likely to contain something nasty. “Ah….” Looking at Salfiri and Donen from across the table, he paused before continuing. “Been a long time since I‟ve done something like this reminds me of some crazy times, to say the least.” He took a deep drag of the smoke between his fingers. Salfiri had never tried the smoke sticks, had no inclination to do so, but she'd known a few people in her time on Stargazer who did, and knew they were addictive, although certainly Ragnar didn't seem to consume the quantity some of her co-workers at the station had. "One would ask, nadi Ragna, about such times; one is curious." She said softly. "One does not know if the tradition translates across cultures, but we three could, perhaps, trade memories?" 'Stories' was probably the word she wanted, but she had enough problems trying to use language the Babelfish could translate easily into Terran languages. They didn't have long to wait before the waitress returned with their drinks, arrayed their orders infront of each of them. No doubt the food which Ragnar had had the forsight to order would follow. Donen took a huge swig of the concoction the waitress had brought him, and he went somewhat wide-eyed as the liquid burned its way down his esophagus. ”Smooth,” he croaked hoarsely. A smile toyed at the edge of Salfiri's full lips at Donen's obvious discomfiture, which was entirely self inflicted. She raised her glass and sipped her own drink, preferring not to throw it back in the manner favoured by many spacers, as she had no idea about it's potency until she tried it. It was strong, and fiery, warming as it went down, with a hint of some fruit she couldn't define, no doubt some Anuurn variety. The smile played a little futher, and she set the glass down again. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 15.11.2003 at21:57: Taking another unhealthily satisfying drag from the cigarette, Ragnar scanned the room, taking in the amber-lit haze and mostly Mahdi crowd. He had a feeling it would be a long night for him, regardless of whether or not the three of them stayed there, though he didn‘t exactly know why. Salfiri brought his attention back to the table when she said, ―One would ask, nadi Ragnar, about such times; one is curious. One does not know if the tradition translates across cultures, but we three could, perhaps, trade memories?‖ He thought about her proposition for a moment, looking her direction contemplatively as their drinks then arrived. He watched as Donen eagerly accepted his and downed it, not expecting it to have the kick it did. He coughed out a small word, and Ragnar chuckled a little. It seemed everyone did that at one point in their lives; Ragnar himself had done it. ―You‘ll get used to it,‖ he said with a grin before quickly upending one of his own drinks. His neck straightened again, though his eyes were squinted a little, as if not expecting (or liking) what he‘d just tasted. ―I think I‘ll remember not to go headfirst into any more Mahdi drinks. I‘m not sure, but that tasted like a cross between some sort of sweet grain and wood varnish.‖ Breathing in deeply through the filtered stick between his hands, he drew the remainder of it in and crushed it in the small tray across from him. ―Yeah, I think that‘s a great idea, Salfiri.‖ He immersed himself with all the memories he held that seemed to be personified by the smoke he drew in his lungs with every breath. Just then, the large plate was set down between them, somehow spurring more thought from him. As the server girl turned and left them again, he started, ―Well, since we‘re on Anuurn itself, I do have a story to tell relating to that. ―Around the end of my time on the Scorpions…no, at the very end…we had amassed a fair- sized gang. It was actually going pretty well for us. As well as things could go for something like that, anyway.‖ With a pause, he took a few miscellaneous pieces off the tray and ate them quickly before continuing. ―Our ambitions went higher and higher as time went on. By then, we were overconfident enough to take on anyone. There was a big drug ring around all seven of the stations, led by a nasty troupe of leaders. The one we were shooting down was Toren Rahel, this huge Mahdi that lives here on Anuurn. Anyway, we organized this huge thing to bring down all of his assets in one night. We were gonna take all the others down after this, of course, but never got that far. Anyway, we do it alright. Everything that was his was either destroyed or stolen: cars, guns, drugs, men, and even his Scorpion 1 home. Too bad he wasn‘t in it.‖ The mechanic took a moment to look at his friends and decide what to say next (or if he should say anything more at all), with a look on his face somewhere between somberness and nostalgia. Posted by Galen Winters on 09.12.2003 at03:48: Galen sailed the ebb and flow of the mahdi crowds like a true sailor, tacking and weaving amid solo shoppers and entire crews milling throughout the corridors of Anuurn Gateway. Mahdi mostly, with the obligatory smattering of other races thrown in as a politically correct afterthought. A lot more grey-wearing atevi than last time he mused silently, the mercenaries descending upon Mahdi space in greater numbers these days. Crisis and opportunity went hand in hand in mahdi politics, and their shift from the old ways must have been music to the ears of roughnecks and opportunists alike. The fact that Galen had been able to get in to see ker Myfanwy in the first place was evidence enough of that. The fact that he had been able to play her like a violin was something else that just didn‘t fit either. Oh well, best not to look a gift horse in the mouth Galen thought, giving up on trying to figure out exactly what had happened to him anymore. That was what the good doctor was for, and the crew was now that much closer to recovering the wayward psychologist. Heels clicked against the durasteel boarding ramp as Galen ascended to the sleek side of the Heart of Gold, glistening like ebony satin in the arc lighting of the station‘s docking bay. Keying the manual lock code into the pad, the grey-eyed captain was relieved gently when the lock door opened with a gentle hiss, revealing the immaculate white interior of the lock and the interior door beyond. Galen cycled the lock with efficiency, if not haste, eager to return to the one place left he could call home. The clean corridors of the ship‘s interior lay before him, and Galen took the most direct route to the bridge, wanting to check on things and discern the whereabouts of his discomfortingly silent crew. Instead of the bridge watch (or more precisely, a living breathing person on bridge watch) he walked in on Goldie, resplendent in shimmering black latex, slicked back hair and sunglasses which looked capable of blocking out a small nova at close range. ”Heya, hon, where ya been?” asked the mischievous artificial intelligence in a too- cheerful voice. ”Out and about, getting clearances for one. I think we should be able to go later today or tomorrow morning.” ”You‟re going to leave me up here all by my lonesome? I‟ll only have myself to play with.” she practically purred, lips pouting in false disappointment. ”I wouldn‟t want to scorch your pretty backside on an atmospheric entry, Goldie. Besides, they‟re not going to let me take you down there, not with the firepower you‟re packing.” ”Awwwwww.” she moaned immaturely. ”Don‟t worry, I‟ll keep plenty of company down there, should be taking the whole crew, or most of them at least.” Galen stated absently, still planning their excursion in generalities rather than specifics. ”By the way, where is everyone?” he asked, drawing a sheepishly averted gaze from his ship‘s computer, which in turn got an exasperated sigh from her master. ”All of them?” he asked, already knowing they were ashore. This only drew an equally abashed nod from Goldie. ”All right, open the comm and get…” he said, before the tinkling beep of an incoming transmission interrupted his train of thought. ”Goldie?” he asked. ”Station security, Galen, they want to talk to you.” she replied, conveying a tone from the mahdi officials that did not bode well with Galen. ”Pipe them through to my VDT.” he ordered, moving to take his seat in the pilot‘s chair. He had just settled into the temperfoam when the monitor crackled to life, showing him an already familiar face on the other end. ”Ker Myfanwy, to what do I owe the pleasure?‟ he asked, voice carefully neutral. ”I should think you‟d be happy to see me. You‟ve got your clearances, contingent upon your signature on the affidavits certifying your credible fear of harm while in the Rahel holdings.” Galen blinked once, then twice over cool grey eyes, mouth threatening to gape in surprise at the speed with which the new mahdi bureaucracy had moved. ”Things certainly have changed, ker Myfanwy.” he managed to stammer, mind recovering quickly from its initial shock. ”They certainly have.” the mahdi female replied with the barest hint of a smug smirk until her visage again darkened a bit. ”Just out of curiosity, I‟d like to know how you obtained such a grasp on han politics.” she stated, still wondering exactly what wasn’t in Galen‘s dossier, which she had obtained from han foreign intelligence shortly after he had left her office. ”So would I, ker Myfanwy, so would I.” he stated, a short pause following. ”I‟ll be by in a little while to sign the affidavits and pick up the documents. Heart of Gold out.” he said officiously before thumbing the link closed on an even more confused security chief. Galen breathed a sigh of relief, collecting his thoughts and beginning to plan in earnest their recovery operation. ”As I was saying, raise Sal on the comm, and tell her to get her ebony backside back to the ship, along with the rest of the crew.” he said with a little humor, wondering if Goldie would pass on the order literally, as was her impish wont. ”I can„t seem to raise them, any of them, boss.” Goldie said with a little worry. ”Checking the station TPT logs now, and . . . nope, they haven‟t left the station.” she said, a hint of worry creeping into her voice, attachment to her crew becoming stronger by the day. ”Hmm, no comm on all three of them?” Galen asked half-rhetorically. ”No comm means they‟ve either been arrested and are in the holding tank, or . . . shit.” he swore softly, remembering the one place on board the station where comm dampers were used outside of the security areas. With a silent curse at the particularly perverse fate which seemed to toy with his life of late, Galen stormed out of the ship with not a little speed, hoping that nothing had befallen the crew whilst in the most volatile drinking establishment on the station, and checking the heft of his weapons in their nests should his worst fears have come true. The elegant and efficient surfing of the crowds was now replaced by urgency and more than a little rudeness, bumping and jostling to get to his destination that much faster, seconds mattering greatly at this point. A short, heart-quickening journey later, the weary spacer found himself before the Setting Sun bar, more than a little relief showing upon Galen‘s face that the place wasn‘t on fire. A short tug upon his grey coat to straighten it and in he went, eyes darting to and fro over the crowd both searching for his crew and assessing those who weren‘t. He drew more than a few long looks, being alone as he was, for only the foolish or the stupidly brave journeyed into this den without backup. A flash of gold, woven meticulously into an ebon braid, finally caught Galen‘s eye, and he thanked whatever Gods happened to care that all three of his crew were in the same place, and appeared in one piece. Stalking over to behind the scrawny mechanic, he overheard the last snippet of his story, recognizing the name instantly. ”You‟ll have enough to do with na Toren soon enough, Ragnar. We‟re going to be dropping right into his back yard, and pissing his entire clan off in the process.” he stated flatly, settling into a chair between Rags and Salfiri. ”I‟ve just got to go back to the security office on our way back to the ship to pick up our clearances and visas, and we‟ll be on our way.” Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 30.12.2003 at21:25: It's not much, but..gotta do something. :P Surprisingly enough, as soon as he was finished, Rangar heard the steely voice of his own captain to his right. ―You‘ll have enough to do with na Toren soon enough, Ragnar. We‘re going to be dropping right into his back yard, and pissing his entire clan off in the process.‖ ―Hey now,‖ the mechanic returned enthusiastically, ―I was just getting to the good part! It‘d be even better if you told your own bit.‖ After a few more bites, he shouted a drink‘s name to the waitress as she passed by with another tray in her hand. ―So anyway, we get through his house and find he‘s not in it, when our intel said he was in there. It was a damn screwup, but we couldn‘t do anything about it by then. So, after everything, we went back to the warehouse to regroup and lay low for a good while. That night, though, in the middle of our winding-down, a strike team hit our warehouse. These fuckers knew we were there, somehow. Even more to our surprise, once they got through the outer defenses, I saw it was lead by Rahel himself! ―But by this point, the team had taken out all the unlucky ones in the main room, and there were just a few who were getting something to eat or sleeping who actually made it past the first minute of fire. A few of us, mostly the guys I led it with, had managed to beat them back, but the cops were already on their way by then. And when they come on the Scorpions, the entire damn department flocks over there.‖ He paused to take the drink from the server girl, thank her, and lightly sniff it before setting it in front of him. ―So, there you are..they got us, I spent a few good years in a high-security prison getting more into mechanics, and I came out still smelling of the 50-something people who died for the Scorpions that night.‖ Ragnar‘s last few words left his tongue bitterly. Even after all that time, it seemed he was still pissed that the ‗law‘ could put him away for doing what they should have. The ex-TSV member raised his drink and took it down easily, as if pushing the bad sentiment away. Posted by Salfiri on 03.01.2004 at08:15: “You‟ll have enough to do with na Toren soon enough, Ragnar. We‟re going to be dropping right into his back yard, and pissing his entire clan off in the process.” "Nand' Captain." Salfiri acknowledged when Galen addressed them. She'd watched him enter, seen him spot them and make his way over. It was always good policy to sit where one could face the door, and see who and what came through, and that no one might block their entrance. "One would ask, Galen-ma, who this 'na Toren' is that we will be 'piisin'." She said. "One understands the term to be a figure of speaching meaning that he will be unhappy to recieve a visit from us, nandi. Is this correct?" She knew what the Babelfish told her it meant and it wasn't relevant in the situation. But Salfiri had been listening to Ragnar's story and she didn't want to leave yet, they'd only just got there, and truth be told she was enjoying herself. "One would be honoured if you would join us, Galen-ma." She suggested. "One would assume we have a little time before we must leave." She settled back then and listened to the rest of Ragnar's tale, of how his gang was brought to an end and the survivors rounded up and thrown in jail. She had gathered that the Scorpions were a largely lawless area, but she was surprised that there seemed to be no Lord, not even a corrupt one, who would take control. That Ragnar's gang had followed no leader, only what they felt was their moral duty. Strange, strange creatures humans were. Still, it told a lot about Ragnar, that little story. He fought for what he believed in, to the bitter end. And baji-naji had got the better of him. Things not going as they should have. Chance and Fortune. She nodded in acknowledgement of his tale, of what it must take to tell it, before she began her own. She sipped her drink, ebony fingers holding the little glass with care, and thought for a long moment before she spoke. "One would speak of a time two years past, on Shai- san." She said simply. "Understand nadiin that one came of age in Kaimaren Province, a small province in the north of the Western Association. The population is largely of the Edi ethnic group; as am I; as was it's Lord, Remo." She said simply. "One's elder half-brother showed promise as a Security Officer at a young age, and one followed much the same path, though one's younger brother is in media. One trained in security, specialising in bodyguarding and marksmanship, and came through lines of man-chi into Remo-ma's service, along with one's partner, nand' Tairo." She sipped her drink, and relaxed back slightly into the cushioned seat of the booth, the movement only then making it obvious that she had been sitting at attention, which seemed to be situation normal for her. But she seemed to have allowed herself to be at least more relaxed about her duty for a moment, if not exactly off it. "Lord Remo was a minor lord of the Association, previously considered beneath the notice of most political machinations. His senior security, Todeni and Gisasu, were Guild Assassins, the rest of us were not. But he was an astute man, and chose the remainder for certain skills. Tairo and I were initially part of estate security and chosen for our unique combination of skills. It is customary for pairs study the same discipline, but not mandatory. We were a mixed pair; Tairo a surveilence expert, myself a bodyguard and technician." In the Guild, a 'technician' was someone who actually carried out assassinations. Though all Guild members were highly trained, they could specialise elsewhere, and security guards did the same. "The selection was made because Lord Remo held that we had the skills to act semi- autonomously, in his interest." she explained. "And it was so. The discovery of certain rare mineral deposits coupled with a technological breakthrough in a research centre that Lord Remo funded caused a sudden increase in his standing in politics, and brought him to the attention of the Lord of the neighbouring Province, Gerisumi. The two were distantly related, there had been a split in the bloodline, and Gerisimu sought to re-unite the two Provinces under his own leadership, and gain control of those resources. By eliminating Lord Remo. Thus Intent was filed upon him." Her golden gaze flicked from face to face about her. "One understands that assassination is not a common occurance in Human society, but amongst the Atevi Association, the filing of Intent is not, in itself, cause for concern." She sought to explain. "A pair in Gerisumi's man-chi took up the contract. Their names were Padiri and Kawari." And the crew should recognise those names, she'd mentioned them before. "Tairo and I had infiltrated Gerisumi's security network, and succeeded in aquiring some very sensitive information, with which we returned to Lord Remo. But this action proved the catalyst for a strike by Gerisumi's assassins. We had, however, maintained our link to Gerisumi's security system, and thus were forwarned." she told them. "Understand that a Guild assassination must involve no third parties, nor any witnessess. I hid myself on the route we knew the pair would use, and Gisasu and Todeni did the same. Tairo maintained surveilance of the grounds and communication with us. In time, the pair arrived, and we three split up to encircle them." "I found them first." She'd reverted to first-person, a more intimate form of the language, speaking openly amongst people she trusted. "Hidden as I was, I was able to bring down one of them, Kawari, before the second, Padiri, was aware of my presence. Todeni and Gisasu appeared, but Padiri was more experienced than both his partner and my associates, and was able to elude us and escape. But we had foiled the assassination attempt and taken out one of Gerisumi's best assassins." "It was then that, at Todeni's suggestion, Tairo and I applied to become members of the Guild of Assassins. One recalls the day the response arrived informing us that consideration was pending, along with notification of the filing of Intent against us." Another sip of her drink. "It is considered ill form to file Intent against another Lord's employees, such should be beneath the notice of a Lord, but presumably we had become too great an annoyance. Padiri took on the contract personally. To safeguard the information we had obtained, one was sent offworld. The rest, you already know nadiin." she drained her glass and signalled another. Posted by Galen Winters on 26.01.2004 at20:06: Galen nodded politely to the honorific which Salfiri bestowed upon him, as he felt was appropriate in public for the ateva‘s sense of etiquette. Settling into a seat with his crewmates, he listened to both Ragnar and Salfiri‘s stories conclude before speaking again. ”That sounds like a grade A clusterfuck, Rags.” he said with an oddly sympathetic note. “Toren‟s not stupid or foolhardy, but he likes to gloat. I‟d lay odds that you were set up by a mole or someone playing both ends against the middle. Rahel wouldn‟t have been there unless he was reasonably certain that he had the upper hand. But don‟t worry, he‟s getting what‟s coming to him, for damn certain.” he said darkly, leaving the trio of spacers to wonder exactly what Galen‘s connection with the volatile hani was, before continuing for Salfiri‗s benefit. ”Toren Rahel is a high-ranking member of Clan Rahel, one of the nastiest, corrupt member clans of the Han. Well, they used to be.” he corrected himself, remembering that current events had worked as much against this mission as for it. The shift of power had enabled Galen to play ker Myfanwy like a violin, but left him without any means of knowing who stood with whom any more. Dark days indeed. he mused silently. ”I also have issues with na Toren.” he added with vitriol for the hani evident. ”As for angering the Rahel clan, well, they can deal with it. It was the only way I could get us landing clearance and weapons permits was to file a letter claiming I had legitimate fear for our safety within their territory. While anyone with sense would feel that way anywhere on Anuurn, to openly state it is a grave insult. It implies that the clan lords do not have the strength to maintain order within their lands. We might as well be calling those testosterone-saturated furballs eunuchs. Such a declaration also draws considerable notice from the other clans, weakening them in the eyes of others who might use the opportunity to move against Rahel. Let‟s just hope that they don‟t hear about it right away, or we could be looking at a lot of trouble before we even land.” he said cautiously. Gods forbid that Rahel had a mole in the Anuurn Gateway security office, or they‘d be looking at a lot of trouble before they even left. ”But enough chitchat, we need to get out of here. This isn‟t exactly the most quiet and trouble-free establishment you could have chosen.” he added, understating it by far. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 19.02.2004 at03:48: As Galen mentioned the possibility of a mole, he cast his gaze down to his drink and scowled. He'd thought of it before, but refused to think that someone within his own band of experienced-but-ragtag vigilantes would give them away. But he returned to the table after a moment, refusing to let himself brood over the situation, and wanting to hear Salfiri‘s tale besides. During it, he slowly nodded to himself every now and then, a signal he understood well some of the things she was saying. As she finished, he asked quietly, ―Does that mean they‘re still looking for you, if they haven‘t given up?‖ He wondered what would happen if they were, and what would happen if they caught up, before Galen spoke again. ―But don‘t worry, he‘s getting what‘s coming to him, for damn certain.‖ At that, Ragnar‘s eyes steeled and he instinctively put his left hand on the butt of his huge Repentance and downed the drink he had been waiting on for a few minutes. It was a lot better than the last one, thankfully. After Galen had finished, Ragnar replied, ―Well, we can spare a few minutes to finish this food up yet, at least..I wouldn‘t mind a couple more drinks, either. Speaking of…‖ He waved the waitress over, preparing to list off a couple more for himself. ―And come on, even if Sal and Donen here didn‘t know that this place was a little on the rough side, which I‘m sure they did, I certainly knew that. I practically grew up in a place like this! Best way to gather local news there is, even if a bit dangerous to the unwary. But we‘re packin‘ plenty; I don‘t think even a group of rowdy male Mahd‘nai (I put Hani at first, but being a mod n‘ all…*edits*) would try to fuck with us…‖ He ended with a grin, though he knew the place was dangerous and they‘d be on safer grounds outside. But how much safer? I’m gonna have to be on the lookout from now on… Well, I haven’t shot anything for awhile, so I could use a refresher. Hope I’m still quick outside of a training room. Posted by Salfiri on 15.03.2004 at04:37: As she finished, Ragnar asked quietly, “Does that mean they‟re still looking for you, if they haven‟t given up?” It took Salfiri a moment to register Ragnar's meaning, and double check what the Babelfish had given her. The four of them living in a tin can in space, she'd become accustomed to information flowing freely between crew members; but it was true that Ragnar had not been directly involved when the news had arrived, he'd simply been head down, bum up under a console while Salfiri asked Galen permission to stay, and probably hadn't been listening. "No, nadi Ragnar, Padiri will not come." she said eventually, pronouncing the Atevi name without an honourific, indicating that she held no respect for the man in question. "Padiri is dead, nadiin." She added, for the benefit of the others incase they'd only heard part of the story. "Under is given to understand that Kawari's death drove him mad. Unable to reach me, he sought to fullfill the contract in which one had previously thwarted him." "But his method was unthinkable. Padiri was not well trained in explosives. He destroyed Remo-ma's manor house; and everyone in it." She continued. Then added, in a very personal language form and barely above a whisper; "My old association is gone; that was why I asked to stay. Associations change over time, with changing circumstances; there is nothing left for me on Shai-san." And she drained off her drink and set the glass back on the table with a decisive click, indicating that she intended to say no more, indeed had probably already said too much. “Well, we can spare a few minutes to finish this food up yet, at least..I wouldn‟t mind a couple more drinks, either." Said Ragnar, assuring the Captain that they knew where they were and what they were doing. "But we‟re packin‟ plenty; I don‟t think even a group of rowdy male Mahd‟nai would try to fuck with us…” He ended with a grin "Guess that shows what you know, doesn't it?" Growled a voice from the next booth. As per narative tradition, said booth was indeed filled with rowdy male Mahdi, one of whom was now rising to his feet. He wore the blue trousers of a ship's crewman, but they were rather the worse for wear. Several large cold rings hung from the edge of his left ear. The right ear was rather ragged, and putting more holes in it wouldn't have left much. But what his clothing and personal appearance left to be desired his armament did not. The caster pistol in it's hip holster practically gleamed, and it was obvious that the grip had been personalised. He didn't move to draw it however; rather he grinned, showing many sharp teeth, and flexed his claws. "Now, unless yous naked earless creeps wants to get fucked over, I suggest yous finishes yer drinks quiet-like, and leaves." But the grin on his face suggested that, in actual fact, he'd really rather they didn't. He was looking for an excuse for a fight. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 23.03.2004 at02:03: ((Behold, my post! Too bad you guys aren't active, or I'd invite all three of you to be in the saga. Instead, you leave me with a band of freaky spacers I (for the most part) don't know! XD)) Salfiri‘s last statement put a pained expression on Ragnar‘s face. He knew it helped to know things, and this was a stinging reminder. But despite his sympathy for her loss (after all, he‘d once lost everything he knew to a huge, crazed Mahdi drug lord), the mechanic thought it was better to have things out there. To him, it was always less of a burden to share it with those who cared to listen. With little hesitation, Ragnar drained another of his drinks, raising his eyebrows after he did. Not bad…what was that one? Roehi? His thoughts drifting from his latest discovery deep in Mahdi territory to their current situation, he was thoroughly startled when the voice behind him rose up. He flushed with anger, not wanting to be disturbed by these idiots. Nevermind there were a few other Mahdi behind him, or a few dozen behind them, that shared similar sentiments as this one. In an instant, Ragnar‘s legs tensed to propel him upward and he instinctively shot his right hand up to meet the golden-furred Mahdi under the chin. But in that instant, he thought about everything. His SL jacket hung from his shoulders, he knew, but would only accentuate the huge Repentance on his hip opposite the Caster. With those two, how could he not look menacing and looking like he was asking for trouble? By the time his legs fully extended, the cocky meathead might well have been lying flat on the table, but Ragnar himself might have had half a dozen holes in him from the haughty patrons, in no mood to fuck with foreigners. He knew well this guy wasn‘t planning on sitting back down and letting them go; he‘d done something similar to a few gang-bangers once. So his legs untensed, though he had jumped upward slightly before he could control the urge to knock the hell out of his aggressor. His eyes flickered in front of him to the faces of his companions. He knew it looked like he had jumped, but he didn‘t really care. From the reflection in the still-full shotglass in front of him, he could see behind him well enough in the dim light. The empty one still stuck in his right hand. His left thumb eased the snap off the butt of the huge ballistic pistol he wore silently. Suddenly his face drew a taut, grim expression. The shotglass in his hand drew up near his face. To everyone at the table, he said in a falsely regretful tone, ―Well, I guess we‘d better finish, huh guys?‖ His tone prompted an uneasy question in those nearby: finish what? Certainly not any drinks. His eyes looked toward Galen, asking a different question. Let me put a bullet between this fucker’s eyes. Come on, please? Just one? Some nearby Mahdi, sensing the tension (and/or hearing the Mahdi‘s aggressive remark, and Ragnar‘s own, which seemed like an open challenge), turned in eagerly to watch. Others, not wanting to be stuck the rest of the day being interviewed by police over the deaths of three humans and a Rahgari, scooted toward the exit of the bar. Posted by Donen Krell on 07.04.2004 at06:26: OOC: I‟m back! And trying to steal the scene. Donen had been lost in thought for quite sometime, only half listening to everyone‘s personal history, and only vaguely aware of Galen having joined them. His telepathic skills had grown of late, but the Valertrez medic hadn‘t been as disciplined recently in training himself to block out the increased ―noise‖ that seemed to accompany his amplified telepathic acuity. The background buzz of thoughts and emotions was beginning to bring on his version of the telepath‘s headache. While his crewmates continued to talk, he tried to enter the meditative state that accompanied all his training disciplines in order to shut out the bulk of distracting brainwaves swimming through his mind. …And then he heard a gruff, male Mahdi voice growl from an adjoining booth. "Guess that shows what you know, doesn't it?" The booth was filled with rowdy male Mahdi, one of whom was now rising to his feet. He wore the blue trousers of a ship's crewman, but they were rather the worse for wear. Several large cold rings hung from the edge of his left ear. The right ear was rather ragged, and putting more holes in it wouldn't have left much. What riveted Donen‘s attention was not the Mahdi‘s aggressive intentions, but the flash of an image that rose in the crewman‘s mind. It was an image of his Moms‘ ore-hauling freighter, ―Arm of God‖…the name of the ship was right there in the image, painted in that gothic script that Sarah thought looked Biblical, so there was no mistake. There was a flash of venting atmosphere from one of the forward port airlocks and a small spacesuited figure emerged—without a helmet. The Mahdi‘s exhilaration at the spacing of who he knew to be his younger mother, Sarah, turned to anger and frustration when the small figure produced a magnetic grapple gun and fired the grapple back through the rapidly closing door of the airlock and began to quickly re-enter the airlock with the emergency manual override codes. Donen knew that Sarah had been forced to work blind in her desperate bid to re-enter her ship after having been tossed through the airlock by pirates, eyes tightly shut to prevent her eyeballs from freezing in the deeply cold vacuum of space, her lungs on the verge of collapse. He knew she‘d made it back inside, and had killed the two men who had tried to steal her ship…he hadn‘t known that their had been others in league with them though…Sarah had been alone that day, while he and his other Mom, Lisa, had been away on a supply run. They had returned to find two pirates with blaster holes in their chests, and Sarah, unconscious, frostbitten, wheezing and cyanotic. Sarah couldn‘t remember much of the attack, or if other ships had been present, but they had kept the pirate‘s mid- range fighter as compensation for the attack. Coming back to the the reality of the Mahdi tavern Donen‘s mind raged at the grinning Mahdi, showing his many sharp teeth, and flexing his claws. "Now, unless yous naked earless creeps wants to get fucked over, I suggest yous finishes yer drinks quiet- like, and leaves." But the grin on his face suggested that, in actual fact, he'd really rather they didn't. He was looking for an excuse for a fight. Before the normally pacifist medic was aware of what he was doing, and completely heedless of the male‘s gleaming caster pistol with its ipersonalised grip, Donen launched himself bodily at the Mahdi crewman shouting, “You fucking, grass-eating, pirate son- of-a-bitch! You watched them space my Mom, and laughed!” Posted by Salfiri on 08.04.2004 at02:13: Suddenly Ragnar's face drew a taut, grim expression. The shotglass in his hand drew up near his face. To everyone at the table, he said in a falsely regretful tone, “Well, I guess we‟d better finish, huh guys?” His eyes looked toward Galen, asking a different question. Some nearby Mahdi, sensing the tension (and/or hearing the Mahdi‘s aggressive remark, and Ragnar‘s own, which seemed like an open challenge), turned in eagerly to watch. Others, not wanting to be stuck the rest of the day being interviewed by police over the deaths of three humans and a Rahgari, scooted toward the exit of the bar. Salfiri, with her vastly different mindset to those races that had developed in this quadrant, did not pick up the overtones in Ragnar's words directly, but something beyond what the Babelfish told her put her on alarm. Call it 'fighter's instincts'. The sudden movements of the bar's patrons, either to watch or move out of the way, confirmed her thoughts. Ragnar had, in his own way, issued a counter-challenge. That was a move she understood, if not the method of issuing it; call their bluff, counter challenge with challenge, and see how far they're willing to go. Before the normally pacifist medic was aware of what he was doing, and completely heedless of the male‘s gleaming caster pistol with its ipersonalised grip, Donen launched himself bodily at the Mahdi crewman shouting, “You fucking, grass-eating, pirate son- of-a-bitch! You watched them space my Mom, and laughed!” Seeing Donen tense right before he launched himself at the Mahdi, Salfiri's first impulse was to grab him. But the Doctor was clearly furious - his oh so expressive face giving him away - and to do so would mean a dangerous loss of face in front of these very dangerous aliens. If they argued amongst themselves they were an association in dissagreement, and such are easily fragmented. They had to show a united front. "Who the fuck er you?" The Mahdi actually stepped back, so surprised was he by the Valertrez's sudden fury. Then he grinned, showing long canines, and grabbed the front of Donen's jacket, obviously not considering the Valertrez much of a threat. "Poor kitten. Yous gonna go cry? I spaced lotsa furrless, earless freaks. Which one was yer mummy?" He asked, lifting the front of the jacket and pulling Donen off balance. [OOC] Sorry Steve, couldn't resist. Feel free to toast him. [/OOC] There was movement, slow in a careful, calculated way that broadcast threat every inch, as Salfiri got to her feet. Her pulse pistol was easily visible at her hip, and even if it wasn't obvious she was Assassin's Guild, everyone knew they existed, and knew also that all Atevi knew how to handle firearms. There was also the simple fact that, large thought the muscular Mahdi was, Salfiri was bigger. Atevi towered over everyone, and she was good at it. In her SL Jacket and clothes made of Nyfilas fabric, it was a fair bet what she was employed to be. [OOC]Dammit, someone else start the fight, I've run out of time. And welcome back Steve! Great to see you![/OOC] Posted by Galen Winters on 11.04.2004 at20:32: The gang's all here! Now isn't this just a kick in the pants Galen thought cynically, before Donen's outburst fanned the embers into a roaring blaize. Ragnar had not been helping matters much either, and Galen had already been fearing the worst when the medic's personal history caught up with the entire crew at one of the most inopportune times imaginable. Waves of aggression threatened to overwhelm him, the entire bar tensely on the razor's edge. Salfiri's presence likely was the only thing keeping the peace for now, a slew of clawed hands twitching to draw steel, and worse, the reputation of the establishment keeping all but the most confident, arrogant, and well-armed spacefarers from its confines. The position of his medic was intolerable, and the grey-eyed captain qucikly evaluated the passel of rings dangling from Hothead's left ear, and the lack of a decent right, the former earned the very hard, very painful, way. One of his crewmates, whom Galen dubbed Twitch, watched the proceedings with barely contained bloodlust, a nervous tic picking at the corner of his fanged lips. Snarl sat next to him, fangs bared in a rictus grin. Not good, he thought, not good at all. The background hum of adrenaline and testosterone bubbled on the psychic plane, while the bar itself was quelled rapidly into silence. Several of the more reputable crews were already excercising the better part of valor, quietly taking their leave of the situation before things got out of control. All eyes were on Hothead and Donen, waiting for someone to make the next move. Returning from the head, where he had been been disposing of used alcohol, one of Hothead's crewmates was greeted upon his return by the tense tableau of the bar, surprising, but not entirely unexpected, given his captain's tendencies. That the young mahdi shared them was, of course, understood, Krith's young recklessness endearing him to his captain in a rough sort of way. However, hard lessons learned in the vacuum of space had given young Krith a measure of patience, even through his alcohol-fogged senses, and rather than charge blindly into battle, the mahdi elected to exercise a bit of stealth, creeping closer to the center of conflict whilst slowly drawing his plasma pistol. Keeping it low and out of sight, he approached the Heart of Gold crew from behind, stalking like the predatory cat he had evolved from. He was almost in perfect position, when the whim of Old Man Murphy swung the pendulum in the other direction for a change, and he heard the low voice of the man in grey utter the oddest phrase imaginable at a time like this. "Teddy bear" This was follwed in rapid succession by a barely audible click, the rustle of leather and a blindingly fast draw. Krith had gone from wily predator to mewling kitten in the blink of an eye, and his inebriated mind unable to conceive of how it had happened so fast. "Ah ah ahhh." Galen said chidingly, the business end of his Vultenna S-9 now pressed squarely into Krith's forehead. The captian's left arm was back nearly behind him, Galen not even needing to look at his target for the moment. "Hasn't anyone ever told you that sneaking up on a telepath is impossible, not to mention insulting?" he asked, having felt the mahdi the second his shock stood him out from the rest of the background noise. Hothead spared a glance over to the young mahdi, whilst the rest of his crewmates drew their weapons in response. The only thing that kept it from devolving into a free-for all was the continued health of Krith, or at least the implied threat of it not continuing should anyone be hasty. Nonetheless, Galen's right hand closed on the butt of his other weapon, the powerful caster swinging up to a level position as well, ready to put a gaping hole in Hothead's right temple. This drew even more weapons from their holsters around the bar, not all of them pointed in his crew's direction, thankfully. Many of those in the bar didn't exactly like each other, and sensed an opportunity to even old scores without catching the blame. Galen's grey eyes flitted back and forth between the two mahdi he held at gunpoint, sweeping the room every few seconds for signs of further escalation of hostilities. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 13.04.2004 at01:39: ((Wow..guys. This is great. We‘re all here! I hope you don‘t mind, Greg, that I bunnied you oh-so-minorly..)) Through Donen‘s outburst, Ragnar simply kept his gaze fixed upon the glass in front of him and licked his top teeth. He‘d been in situations before that he couldn‘t control himself, but this wasn‘t going to be one of them. He‘d wait. When Galen found the dumb Mahdi from the darkness and put him to shame, that was about the end of his plans. The glass dropped the foot or so to the table, but by the time it had, Ragnar was standing next to Donen, the oil-smelling barrel of his monstrous Repentance staring down at the left eye of Donen‘s adversary, and the Caster at another of the crew. He was done with control; his wide grin and crazed eyes gave that one away clearly. An impulse, one brought through years of such tense situations, spurred a thought. An untested method, but still, one worth exploring. In his thoughts, he practically screamed, Galen! What’s the name of their ship? To the one with the Repentance looming down on him, Ragnar said with eerie calmness and yet a familiar confidence (almost cockiness), ―I think you had better watch out for yourselves getting fucked over.‖ He paused a moment. But it was all he needed. His trusty captain had replied to him. Ah, the wonders of one-way telepathy. Ragnar briefly thought that he‘d have to do that more often. Bluffing and confidence were key to the next line in this scene. But if it worked, hell, they‘d be shouting ‗encore‘. ―Now, unless you like the idea of the rest of our boys picking up the pieces and selling your precious Hunter’s Spear, I‘d suggest sitting the fuck down.‖ He hoped the prospect of others in their crew would be enough to at least make him think twice. Posted by Donen Krell on 16.04.2004 at19:18: OOC: Oopsie! "Who the fuck er you?" The Mahdi actually stepped back, so surprised was he by the Valertrez's sudden fury. Then he grinned, showing long canines, and grabbed the front of Donen's jacket, obviously not considering the Valertrez much of a threat. "Poor kitten. Yous gonna go cry? I spaced lotsa furless, earless freaks. Which one was yer mummy?" He asked, lifting the front of the jacket and pulling Donen off balance. Donen‘s mind was focused, scalpel sharp, on the Mahdi who was now manhandling him, and he had blocked out all other distractions in the tavern…the Captain and the rest of the crew could have anyone else stupid enough to think they could mess with this crew and escape unscathed…but this asshole was his. With a voice that was flat , quiet and dead calm, despite the blaze of rage in his head, Donen replied ”Sarah Krell, Arm of God in Alkes Field, you fucking furball…now let go of my jacket…or else….” "Er else whut, ya little furless miner‟s cub?" smirked the Mahdi, with an air of casual confidence Donen could sense even without the mind probe he was putting to the unsuspecting Mahdi pirate. The probe clearly confirmed the Mahdi‘s memory that he had been part of a two-ship stake out of his mothers‘ ship intending to steal not only the ship, but also the ship‘s full cargo of raw ritelanium ore. ”Or else I‟ll have to remove them myself, “ said the medic coolly to the Madhi pirate who Donen knew had seriously underestimated the danger he was courting with the smaller, unarmed Valertrez. ”Say goodbye, na Rahnen Ahem. I‟ll see you in Hell,” he whispered into the Mahdi‘s snarling animal-like face full of sharp teeth. Then the medic whipped his arms in between the pirate‘s furred, heavily-muscled paws gripping his new handmade jacket and swung them outward in wide opposing circles, breaking the pirate‘s grip, before placing his palms firmly on either side of the spacer‘s sternum and pushed back. Donen felt, rather than planned, the sudden rush of powerful sarafin kinetic energy released between his palms into the pirate‘s thoracic cavity. Still inside the Mahdi‘s mind, Donen felt the male‘s surprise at the force of the push coming from what he thought of as ―the puny hairless cub,‖ and then a flash of feral joy at the thought of being able to ―rip the earless kitten to shreds‖ for the provocation. This was quickly followed with the dual realization by both the Mahdi and Donen, that the largely silent and virtually invisible release of sarafin had stopped the pirate‘s heartbeat. The male‘s pupils suddenly went wide with both surprise and the sudden lack of oxygenated blood to the brain, and he crumpled silently to the floor in a ―dead‖ faint…utterly lifeless. Stunned by the realization that he had just killed someone in cold blood, Donen stood where he was, his arms outstretched before him, his palms open and empty. ”Shit, shit, shit,” he muttered to himself in shocked daze, before sending out a desperate telepathic plea to his crewmates. I think I killed him…we have to get the fuck out of here NOW, before they discover what happened! Jesus! What are my moms gonna say about this? thought Donen helplessly as he backed away to the tavern‘s door, his telepathic senses suddenly acutely aware of the dangerous levels of aggression building around the room, and equally oblivious of the manifold amounts of unadulterated shit this would create for the rest of the Heart of Gold crew as well. Posted by Salfiri on 17.04.2004 at02:05: Salfiri had hoped that they might get out of the bar without violence, or at the least with only a few bruises and blood noses; on the other side. In her work on Stargazer Station she'd broken up enough bar brawls; some people just liked to fight. You'd be called to a fight in some seedy bar, of which Stargazer had it's share, with the patrons armed to the teeth, and they'd all be laying about with bare fists. Why? Because they could come back and do it again tomorrow. Drawing firearms upped the ante, and suddenly things became serious, and deadly. She had understood what Ragnar had been doing, the purpose if not the actual method. The two groups could posture and show power, and then settle down again, or else there might well be a punch-up. Some serious threat had to be percieved to cause the drawing of firearms. And although the Mahdi had hold of Donen, if the spacer had meant to kill him he would have done so, with no fuss. At least, to an Ateva's way of thinking. And then some young Mahdi had tried to creep up on the Captain, and that had been the trigger. Salfiri had seen the youth, though it became obvious that the Captain had known long before, for just as Salfiri was about to reach out and grab the young Mahdi, the Captain drew his Caster. The assorted weaponry that appeared was impressive, though very little of it had been concealed. Left with no choice, and forced to do things the hard way, Salfiri drew her own Pulse Pistol as the rest of the crew did. The larger pistol with it's adapted grip looked the size of a standard plasma pistol in her large hand. Galen and Ragnar had the main antagonist targetted, Salfiri chose his associate at his side. This was not looking good. Atevi security carried weapons, but very seldom did they draw them; they didn't need to. The threat of their presence alone was enough, for an Atevi lord's security were very, very good at what they did. And the Lord trusted them to be so, and let them do their work, and negotiated with other Lords while their respective security watched each other. But humans didn't work like that, it seemed, and the Captain had taken matters into his own hands. He shouldn't have to save in the direst circumstances - which this wasn't - it was undignified. But humans seemed to need to answer their threats personally. But she knew that, now that the counter threat was issued, the force deployed, no Lord could back down, without loosing face, and likely some of the man-chi held to them. And the furious Donen was still clutched in the Mahdi's grip. She could practically feel the anger radiating off him, and the Mahdi seemed to be enjoying it. ”Say goodbye, na Rahnen Ahem. I‟ll see you in Hell,” And Salfiri had to admit, Donen was adept at the basic self defence move he used to break the grip, and likely at more, though shoving the Mahdi away was foolish, and only likely to start a fight. But the Mahdi did not move, and suddenly his eyes widened, pupils big and dark, and he fell. Salfiri knew death when she saw it, long before she heard Donen's telepathic cry. I think I killed him…we have to get the fuck out of here NOW, before they discover what happened! Salfiri glanced at Ragnar. "We go, now nadi." She snapped, and trusted that Ragnar could take care of himself. Her man-chi was to Captain Winters, who was radiating stubbourne agression and indignation, guns still pointed at the hair-trigger crew, who's Captain now lay dead on the floor. She slapped Donen's arm to knock him out of his stupour. They had to move, or this was going to degenerate into a fire fight. Least not because their Captain was determined to leave no slight unanswered, she was certain, as she looked at him as he stood with his guns aimed. Jesus! What are my moms gonna say about this? "One does what one must nadi, to ensure survival." Salfiri replied without thinking. And even as she said it, she moved. Sometimes, despite their unswerving loyalty to them, Security dissagreed with their Lords, usually over the personal safety of said lord. Sometimes you had to act for a person's benefit against their will. Salfiri dropped a shoulder, shoved it into Galen's stomache, wrapped an arm around the back of his knees and lifted. "Guard our retreat nandi." She snapped, still using the politest term. Her meaning was obvious even as she started to run; Galen was now facing backwards over her shoulder, and still had his guns. Pointing the Pulse Pistol at a couple of patrons in her road - who quickly got out of it - Salfiri ducked under the door lintel and sprinted for the open dock and comparative safety, long Atevi legs making short work of the distance. It wasn't until they were out in open crowds that she stopped and set Galen down. "Nand' Captain." she said, sounding vaguely appologetic, though her stance and expression were perfectly propper, as though she had not just bodily picked up her Captain and ran half the length of the docks carrying him. She had not a hair out of place. Posted by Ragnar Argoth on 21.04.2004 at02:23: Of course, Ragnar‘s lightning-quick reflexes and keen senses had dulled in the past five or so years. But he didn‘t know that until Donen exploded in a flurry of movement and left the Mahdi dazed. He was immediately surprised at how he handled himself, though being a practitioner of the art of Sarafin, he supposed he had to be adept at close combat. The mechanic was close enough to feel the energy Donen released, however faint it was. If he had to guess, he‘d give that ability to having worked very near to live energy reactors before and knowing the feeling of pulsating waves of unseen energy. The mechanic knew in a nano that this Mahdi was falling limp to the ground, but he wasn‘t sure how bad it was. He was no doctor, after all… And the other Mahdi were starting to react as well, most starting to bring around weapons themselves. Ragnar figured they were startled at Ragnar‘s display, and especially his captain‘s, and hadn‘t been able to react right away. But as he watched these events unfold, he almost became frantic and started shooting. When things happened faster than he could handle, he usually resorted to making it so things didn‘t happen anymore. There was the one thing that he had never had to factor in before, however. The guys (and Ateva woman) backing him up were not the ‗hardened criminals‘ he was used to having behind him. These weren‘t just a group of ragtag gunslingers looking out for themselves, and even wanting fights. Hell, he wasn‘t even a ‗hardened criminal‘ himself anymore. He had to keep things in check for himself now. That in mind, Salfiri‘s suggestion spurred his thought, and he quickly acknowledged with a quick jump, one foot planting and launching him off of the top of the seat. Fortunately, he angled himself to avoid crashing into a low-hanging light, and instead flew over the fairly short, furry, and now extremely surprised people. Unfortunately, the Mahdi he planned on stopping his descent with moved out of the way. Less than gracefully, Ragnar hit the ground, guns already holstered and snapped (his hands hadn‘t lessened in dexterity at all, he noted), rolling roughly from his feet to knees, followed by his hands, then his shoulder. Still rolling on his side, he waited for Salfiri to whisk over him before getting to his knees and jumping the rest of the way out of the place. Not surprisingly, his right knee and wrist hurt, but they weren‘t sprained, as far as he could tell. Also not surprisingly, he was laughing hard by the time he had gotten to his feet. He caught up to Salfiri, Donen, and their trusty captain not long after, his long legs carrying him easily through the streets. When they all had finally stopped for a moment, Ragnar said with the grin leftover from his laughing, ―Well, there‘s one way to get out of paying the bill, fellas!‖ Posted by Galen Winters on 28.04.2004 at00:34: The brutish caster pistol in Galen's right hand barely flicked downward, following its target for a split second before he realized that it was no longer necessary. Hearing his medic's desperate cry, Galen blinked, an odd dichotomy to be sure; hostilities were starting, yet he and his crew were the only ones who knew it for the moment. Shit he cursed silently, before the massive bulk of Salfiri's shoulder caught him in the midsection, nearly knocking the breath out of the jaded captain. The tangible relief of Galen's other target washed over him like cool water, diminshing with the distance expanding between them with every stride of 'firi-ji's long legs. Had he been more separated from the situation, Galen would have laughed at himself, arms dangling like a ragdoll, still clutching to his weapons as he was carted out of harm's way with little more regard than one would give a small child. The apologetic tone from the ebon monolith of a security officer did a little to ameliorate the situation, but not much. Finally back on his feet, Galen holstered both pistols, drawing his coat about him once more, to hide their presence. The grey-eyed spacer opened his mouth to speak to the crew, but was cut off by Ragnar's comments. A short, but awkward, pause enveloped them, until a mirthful snort escaped Captains Winters' nasal cavity, a smile creeping slowly onto his face. "Yes, it is indeed, Mister Argoth." he said curtly, barely escaping breaking out in full-fledged laughter. Shaking his head gently, he gave Donen a look of inquiry without speaking a word. Death came to all men, and some had to deal it out as well, but he did not know if Donen was one who could accept the fact. He was about to ask the troubled medic about it, when he heard a thin, tinny screech emenating from his pocket of all places. He took a moment to ponder the incongruity of it all, then hastily scrabbled for his comm headset, placing it it over his ear and cringing at the shrill, panicky voice on the other end. "I'm here, I'm here." he said irritably, already dreading the harangue he was about to receive. "WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN?!?" Goldie demanded angrily, more than a little panic tingeing her synthetic voice as Galen pulled the earpiece of his headset a slight distance away from his nearly bleeding eardrum. "I've been looking after everyone else. What's up?" he exaggerated nonchalantly. "There are these guys here with a delivery, asking for you. I know that you didn't order anything, Galen, and I told them so, but they won't go away!" she relayed irritably. The fact that she was right didn't exactly quiet Galen's nerves any. "I'll be right there, Goldie, hold on." he said, trying to reassure the odd bit of programming his Grandfather had silently bequeathed to him. "Come on." he said curtly to his assembled crew, grey eyes already scanning the docks for their berth, assessing potential threats from the milling crowds of mahdi. ===== A short, forcedly casual storll later, Galen rounded the corner of a pressure door, and saw the rather odd assortment of crates, grav-dollies and a smattering of mahdi in tech's breeches lolling about, waiting for work to do. Picking out the one golden-furred sentient that seemed to be slacking less than the rest, Galen approached the mahdi calmly. "Excuse me, but I didn't order anything, and certainly didn't get anything which would need you people to install." he said politely, but with a short note of irritation that they hadn't listened to his ship's AI. "Captain Winters?" the black-breeched mahdi asked, already knowing the answer. "I was instructed to give this to you." she stated calmy, producing a sealed paper envelope for Galen's perusal. Smirking oddly at the anacrhonism of a message format, Galen tore the end off of it and blew into the opened envelope, and shook the short note out of it into his palm. quote: Captain Winters- A present from a friend you don't know you have. Galen's puzzlement ran even deeper now, wondering what faction in the civilized systems was trying to play him. Putting that off until he had more time to noodle it out, Galen extended a hand and plucked the manifest digipad from the head tech, who did not protest. Placing his index finger along the edge of the list, dragging the scroll bar downwards past the various routing and shipping information to the meat oof the manifest. [i]Holy poop-on-a-stick he mused in shock, doing a double take at the size of his mystery benefactor's largesse. quote: Hyperdyne Systems Inc. K-31 series plasma repeater Just a fancy name for a vulcan Galen thought dismissively. quote: Quantity-12 Enough Gods-damned guns to start a small war he goggled mutely. The rest of the list did not do anything but embellish upon that judgement. quote: TOR Corporation 2706 tachyon cannon Quantity-12 UniCorp JK-6 mosquito cannon Quantity-4 Installation to be provided by House Trin Technical Services Trin? Galen mouthed softly, looking up to indeed find the atypical bronze rings hanging from each ear of the mahdi before him and several of her fellows. Trin had been the first mahdi house to gain proficiency in forgecraft, and used their guarded secrets for centuries to grow in power and reputation. The fact that they were here meant several things. The primary of which was that whoever had been good enough to buy these weapons for Galen's ship had been more than generous, the fees for Trin's techs to work their magic on your ship usually outstripped the cost of the modification parts themselves. Secondly was Trin's reputation for absolute neutrality and integrity (you couldn't sell arms to both sides of a war without being completely impartial, after all). Indeed, the house had a reputation (unproven by any reputable source still living) that they had summarily executed several of their members over the centuries who had betrayed a trust in such dealings. Galen stood silent for a moment, not only surprised by the amount of money that had been dumped into the game, but by the manifest iself. The weapons on it matched exactly the technical specification of the empty weapons bays on his ship exactly, without a fault. Galen's already cautious mind now bordered on paranoia, working furiously to find an out from this situation, one which preferably left his ship in one piece, and the Heart of Gold with a full weapons loadout. "Where did these weapons come from?" Galen asked, trying to trace things back to the source. "In-stock merchandise, na Winters." the mahdi answered evenly, already suspecting, and heading off, the interrogation to come. I admit it is all highly irregular, so I checked it out myself. The funding could not be traced by any of our information techs, nor was any name given. However, we are honor-bound to fulfill the contract, unless you refuse delivery. In any case, the monies are non-refundable, so I don't particularly care either way, but for the reputation of my House. Will you accept delivery na Winters?" the bronze-furred mahdi asked pointedly. A pregnant pause hung over the docks for several moments before Galen could not let the opportunity to pass by. "Yes. I'll get the weapons bays open for you. My engineer will be supervising your work, of course, given the highly specialized nature of several of our ship's systems. Please do not hesitate to ask questions of him, or the ship's AI." he said, drawing a hint of sneer from the mahdi, a borderline insult to such a mechanic to have someone looking over their shoulder. Fucking deal with it, furball Galen replied silently, a slight smile creasing his features. "I'll be in my cabin if anyone needs me." he said to everyone and no one in general, before turning for the boarding ramp. "Goldie, open up the gun bays." he said into his comm headset as he approached the door. The click an hum of massive hydrailc rams and locks heralded the silent acceptance of his command, doors in motion marring the sleek lines of the ebon starship. "Welcome home, honey" Goldie said cheerily as he entered the airlock. "So what's in the boxes for me?" she asked with the barely contained joy of a kid at Hannukwanzamas time. "Guns. Lots and lots of guns." he replied flatly, already distracted by the puzzle that had been dropped into his lap. Posted by Salfiri on 11.05.2004 at12:11: Short and fairly pointless, but another step. Salfiri walked quietly at Galen's side as they made their way back towards the Heart of Gold, considering quietly what that embodiement of baji-naji had had to say that had so distracted Captain Winters. It wasn't long before they found out, and the situation surrounding this mysterious delivery of weaponry got Salfiri's hackles up. She and Ragnar had gone over their last weapons installation with a fine-toothed comb; it might well be best to do the same here. The Captain ordered the gun bays opened and dissapeared inside, and Salfiri let him go, secure in the knowledge that he was as safe inside the Heart of Gold as he could be anywhere. Outside of their own territory an Atevi Lord was never without their bodyguards. Within their own residences, they might be allowed a little more space. Never 'privacy', and never 'to be alone'; they weren't concepts the Atevi had. Nothing was secret within the close-knit man-chi of an Atevi household, but there were certain forms of ettiquette. And after the Lord there came the shared loyalty of those within his man-chi. "Nand' Doctor, you were not hurt?" She said, in one of those statements meant as a question that Atevi used so often, while Ragnar talked with the Mahdi tech. When they began opening crates he might well want her to assist, but that depended on the level of trust with the Mahdi tech and his household, and to her they were an unknown. Posted by Donen Krell on 12.05.2004 at17:43: The flight from the tavern was a blur to Donen. It was as if he were watching himself on a holovid through a thick fog and with the audio muted. The image of the HoG‘s captain bouncing over the shoulder of his Rahgari security officer like an infant on a mother‘s arm, under more normal circumstances, would have undoubtedly reduced the Valertrez medic to howls and tears of laughter, penetrated Donen‘s personal misery not at all. When Rags jested about having gotten out of paying the bar tab due to their hasty departure, Donen‘s first inclination in his state of growing guilt and remorse was to return to the tavern and pay the crew‘s bar tab, and he then, in fact, turned bodily to retrace his steps before realizing how hopelessly ill-advised such a gesture would be and rejoined his comrades in the trek back to their ship. The young doctor was aghast at his own behavior on so many levels. It violated the religious ethic his mothers had drilled into him since he was a child. The fact that he was not necessarily committed to the same degree of religious fervor did little to lessen the feelings of impending divine wrath that loomed large in his mind. It went against every instinct of his medical training as well…his dedication to cure disease, overcome disability, and to save lives––not take them. And to have done something which caused his crewmates‘ lives to be endangered as well was inexcusable. He could not look his captain in the face and was sure that Galen was livid with him. And lastly, he could not believe that he had lost control of himself and had let his emotions so overrule his reason that someone was dead because of it. The life of a sentient being snuffed out forever due to blind rage on his part. He tried to rationalize his actions. The Mahdi was a pirate and deserved what he got, thought Donen. Except the only reason you targeted him over any other pirate was because of his involvement in spacing Sarah…and he wasn’t even one of the ones who did it! Sarah killed the two who did…and that was in self-defense. But you killed him in cold blood before he even had a chance to defend himself. Donen flinched visibly when he saw all the activity surrounding the HoG as they arrived at her docking port. He only relaxed somewhat when he noted that they were techs rather than station security. His thoughts and emotions in turmoil, the adrenaline rush of rage and fear ebbing sharply, the medic slumped against the bulkhead of the HoG. The cold metal felt soothing against his forehead, and unbidden, soundless tears dripped from his eyes. "Nand' Doctor, you were not hurt?" came the deep contralto voice of Salfiri behind him. Despite his knowledge, or lack thereof, of Rahgari psychology, the words seemed to carry a note of compassion, no matter how ill-deserving he was, which stung almost as much as it soothed. The question provoked an ironic laugh from the Valertrez medic, who wiped at the salty streaks upon his cheeks and turned to face Salfiri‘s blank, golden gaze. ”No physical injury, „Firi-ji,” said Donen turning around with a look somewhat between a sheepish grin and a grimace. ”Just a mortal wound to my soul. I‟ll be in my cabin if anyone needs me.” Then the haggard young medic keyed open the main airlock and disappeared inside.
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