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Found 47 results

  1. :: Looking around the Science lab, he is painfully aware that someone on the Bridge can cut the power and atmo to the lab with one button; they can eject it from the ship entirely with a second button. It is a tenuous feeling :: Well, I guess they think I'm mostly still me, since they haven't blocked my comm links from here, but I bet it's being monitored - it's what I would do. I sent the full details from my suit and Pegasus sensors to the Federation Council, as I'm sure they need all the info they can get on this new and now stable wormhole in Sector 001. It's interesting that the Ilus have put a gate up to keep undesirables from shooting through and for keeping ships from the passage until they have been fully augmented, to sustain the trip without any negative side effects. :: looks in a mirror and sees an older version of himself looking back :: (q) Side effects, huh? Who wants to stay young and pretty forever? :: sighs :: yeah, silly question. The gate has a construct along one edge that is the size of a Defiant-class ship. My sensor scans of it, as I passed through the opening, show it as having an Earth-like atmosphere and standard gravity. So, are they going to hand over the controls to the Federation? It sure looks like they've already set up a C&C that can be staffed by us mere bipeds. I can't wait to see what the Fed Council thinks of all this - and of me. I included the biosensor output from my exoskeletal suit which includes the period when it was morphing from an external suit to being part of ... me. They also have all of the analysis from the Pegasus systems and everything being collected here in the Science lab. I am making full sets of all of this available to Sovak and the rest of the Manticore crew, as well. So now they'll come in with Biohaz gear on to see if I've been turned into some sort of alien. If I didn't think it would get me Spaced, I am very tempted to scream in gibberish, start to quiver and roll my eyes back into my head. But yeah, I don't think they have that kind of sense of humor, y'know? [[ The Gate can best be described as a combination between the one from The Expanse novel, Abaddon's Gate; the Stargate from SG-1; The Tholian Web from ST:TOS; and a Jumpgate from Babylon-5. Visually, it looks like a gigantic metallic speaker grill ( y'see kids, your parents had "stereo" equipment and this included big boxes that produced sound called speakers and... oh never mind ) ]]
  2. Open Personal Log, Admiral Atragon-9, USS Manticore, NCC-5852-A, Remote, Stardate unknown. Password ********* {whirr, click} I have been in the, uhmm, Ilus sector (I need to workshop that name) for an indeterminate time. As I mentioned before, my bio sensors have been acting strangely - or else my body has been. Time was passing too quickly for me as I came through the wormhole and since I've exited it a few ... days? ago, it's not gotten better. It seemed like time simply stopped, according the Pegasus and my suit's bio sensors. At one point I must have fallen asleep because I jerked awake with terrible full-body pain. My bio monitors started reporting that my exoskeletal suit was taking on many aspects of the Ilus living machines and it is now merging with my body, hence the pain of the suit truly becoming an exoskeleton for me! I'm not sure how the end result is different than the Borg, I just know that the machinery is not the goal, it is an aid, an augmentation, a... okay, I'm not making a lot of sense. Let me get back to this later. Pause recording. Resume Log. It has been another day (ish) and I just worked up the courage to take off my uniform and see what is really going on. My assumptions were correct, my manufactured exoskel suit has altered itself, taking on aspects of the Ilus machines. It has also reduced the clearance between itself and my body and there are mechano-organic entry points at all of my joints, along my spine and the edges of my ribs. I have become a caged man, no, I guess it's more of an armor-clad body. I don't feel any pain now, in fact I feel stronger and healthier than ever. If I can trust the bio monitors, this is not an artificial or drug-induced delusion, my body is physiologically 10 years younger, but chronologically 10 years older. I think I'll need a new frame of reference beside linear time. Speaking of time, the Ilus has spent their time not just altering me, but the Pegasus as well. There is a huge data dump being collected by the Pegasus computer core as a way of "telling their story." There are now physical armor pieces merged with, and just under, the hull. This armor can withstand phaser and photon torpedo attacks as if they were micro meteorites. This technology will fundamentally change the ships of the Federation, if we can incorporate it. I wondered why their smaller ships did not have this same armor when we met them in the Alpha Quadrant. This inquiry lead me back to the topic of time again. I wonder if all of my thoughts will be curved in on themselves (and out at the same time) from now on. I don't think the Ilus personal armor has affected my brain, maybe it has just freed it up to take on my natural serpentine inclinations. Right, Time. The Ilus are not constrained by past and future as rigid constructs. They are the ones who brought the Republic back from our future to our present. They knew how the Shiloh would react when the small ships came through the wormhole. They knew this because it had already happened. They knew this and they wanted to acknowledge our societal advances, so they deliberately sent through un-armored drone ships, as they knew what would happen. They let our linear time play out to verify all of our actions and reactions. They knew the Shiloh would return and they knew exactly when they would attempt to destroy the carrier and the wormhole so they provided this "history" to the Republic and gave them a way to us, so they could stop the Shiloh without the Ilus being directly involved. I have seen all of this even though they occurred after I entered the wormhole. The Pegasus showed me 3-D, or is it 4-D?, recordings of these events, so I can be kept up to date. Or wait, it's not really up-to-date any more, it's future history? Retrograde prophesy? Oh boy, here comes my temporal headache again - I guess my head isn't altered after all. That would be the first thing they would fix, have fixed, will fix.... iiiieee!! Yeah, so time is not just fluid here, it's pretty much a puddle of mercury. So back to my noting of the passing of time - total guesstimate. What I do know is that the upgrades to the Pegasus and myself are almost complete. I know that I will be going back through the wormhole soon. I know that the wormhole's Alpha Quadrant terminus has now been linked with Titan, so it will always be just beyond their magnetosphere. I know that future transit will be safer for Federation ships with small preemptive upgrades to our ship hulls and EVA equipment. Finally, I know the alterations to my exoskeleton (it's really not a suit any more, it's really my exoskeleton) and the Pegasus was something that I discussed with the Ilus at length and agreed to... or I will soon :: rubs temples :: Yeah, oww. All of these things and more were/will be fully explained and explored. Anyway, it's time for me to go back, before any "rescue mission" is executed. I'm done here - for now, I wanna go home. EOM, EOT {whurr, cluck}
  3. "It's just weird, y'know?" A9 is sitting with his cousin, Ian Shoales, grabbing a quick lunch while awaiting the operations report from the USS Prometheus, one of the five support ships the Federation sent to Titan to join the Manticore in relief efforts. "I know I'm from here and I know I still have some family ties back here :: motioning gently to Ian :: but what is this cult of personality I walked into? :: Ian finishes his bite of food and gives his cousin a smirk :: "C'mon, Atty, did you really think you could just show up on Titan and no one would notice you? No one would acknowledge the hometown boy makes good as a Starfleet Admiral? No one would immediately gravitate to you for attention and direction?? Not a chance, bub." "Heck, the Colony Committee has always had a soft spot for our family, why do you think I was given interim Governor after Chelton went down the gravity well to Mother Earth, in search of fame and fortune - or maybe just fortune. That guy always had a personal agenda that ran in tandem with his colonial duties and people noticed. They came to me to put a clean and shiny face on governing since they knew our family was crazy enough to want to help for the sake of helping. I told them I still have my own business to run, so I could just be an interim chief. So, they put me in place 2 months ago and then the ground starting to melt away last week and suddenly I'm in the middle of a family reunion. Your career was watched by a lot of folks around here and then you drop in unexpected - but not unwanted." :: A9 finishes inhaling his meal and checks his PADD to find out when they have to get back on the call with the Captains of the relief effort :: "Well now I'm feeling bad, like I'm a distraction or side show. We just need to organize these ships and find out when Manticore is returning, to bolster our capacity. Captain McFly and Admiral Sovak explained their theory on why they were staying with the lagrange point where the energy output was focused - the one that was right under the dome just a few days ago. I hope they're right and I hope they can figure out how to keep that energy source from waiting for us to get back to it in another 10 days." :: Ian sits back, finishing his drink and enjoying the relative calm before they head back into the command center :: "I have faith in your crew, just like the people here have faith in you, borne out with how much you have organized in the past few days alone." :: A9 tries to wave that off, but gets started down by Ian :: I could not have done all this without you and we both know this still won't be enough if the seismic anomalies return. Not only have you mobilized and inspired the people, you also - let's be honest - distract them from their woes with your persona, your sense of glamour and leadership" :: he raises his voice and speaks faster, to speak over any complaints or false modesty from A9 :: "Look, call it what you will, it has helped calm folks down and got them working for the common goals and not spinning in a panic, so it's a good 'Cult.' But really, what I don't understand is where you fit on that ship of yours. You're not the CO or XO any longer, you're just an... extra Admiral? I'm sorry to be so blunt, but do they need you onboard?" :: A9 moves from modesty to full blush and right into indignation in a matter of a few seconds :: "I am vital to the ship's... the uhmm, the morale?, no the efficiency... the, uhh " :: Ian jumps in right away :: "Exactly - this is my question. I'm sure you're important on your ship... or you were - hey if your cousin can't slap you with the truth, who can? So here's the deal - I'm done with this job. It is nothing I ever wanted to do and definitely not on a long-term basis. The folks around here are loving you, what you stand for and how you get feldercarb done. So, you do the math - and go talk to the Prometheus. I have a meeting with the CO's of the Copernicus, Yellowstone, Melbourne and Drake. They need a little more softening up before you come in for the 'kill' Alright, cuz, lunchtime is over, let's get back to work.
  4. There is a sudden blinding white light and a "deafening" silence and stillness. As their vision returns, everyone finds themselves standing or sitting at their duty stations. Everything is back to normal (this includes the engine room, completely repaired and all of the dead engineers back at their stations, alive and unharmed.) Standing in front of each person is a translucent form, in the shape of the most important person from their past. These mentors and heroes begin speaking as one - to the individual in front of them. "Please allow us to explain this to you all." "In your brief histories, you have encountered many races and species of evolved beings. Some have been at your level of development and some have been at a simpler stage in their own journeys. With the less advanced races, you have reacted with both exploitation and assistance. At other times, your peoples have come across others who were much more advanced than yourselves, evolutionarily. Sometimes they were considered magical and evil, sometimes they were considered powerful and ... holy. Your races needed to find some internal way to justify, to make sense of what they were experiencing. During these encounters, the more advanced races would not be able to stay in contact with you for long. They feared persecution, adoration or annihilation - theirs or yours. These races did not want to prompt any of these reactions, yet they would keep trying to make contact in hopes of a prolonged and peaceful coexistence. This would be beneficial for everyone involved. Every few millennia, contact would be attempted again, in hopes that your peoples would be ready for this coexistence." "The reason for this discussion is to put your recent experiences in perspective. It has been many hundreds of years since the last known contact between your races and any representatives of a strikingly higher evolved race. You have an imperfect historical record of that contact that you refer to as the engagement of the Yaku and the Haiweh, before the founding of your Federation. The facts that are collected on that encounter have been reported incorrectly, but there has been no desire or opportunity to correct them for your history. In addition, it perpetuates the need for distance between the different developmental stages of the races. Many of the more advanced races were quite content to allow many thousands of your years to go by before attempting a fresh contact, but that is no longer in our control now. There is an advanced race that is eager to engage and exploit the younger races. They have recently come in contact with your Federation near a stable wormhole where you are operating a stationary starbase. This race is referring to itself as the Pah-Wraith and their contact is purely for their own benefit. This contact accelerated the timetable and it was decided to consider a fresh connection and your ship was selected. We first brought up the specter of the Yaku to gauge how your crew would react and we were pleased that you did not respond with aggression, especially with the addition of the Haiweh, once again." "That is when we provided you with a number of trials. Borrowing from your own fiction, we exposed you to different environments, allies, enemies and stresses. We are particularly sorry for how we presented the trial with your engineering staff, yet we were very pleased with your reaction, both in resolve and adaptation." "What this all means is that the time for your "First Contact" is imminent, once we resolve the issue of the Pah-Wraith. We thank you for your patience, your understanding and, most of all, your growth as a group of young species. In order to facilitate the trials and to lessen the impact on your current timeline, all of the trials have taken up just a fraction of one of your days. (In other words, yes that *is* Bobby Ewing in the shower!)" "We thank you for your understanding and will leave you now. Please know that we never meant you any harm and we will be watching you, preparing for a more formal re-introduction."
  5. Excerpt from APD (Above the Prime Directive) info feed The Yaku The accepted history of the Federation focuses on the 4-year Earth-Romulan war in the late 2150's. Many still believe the coalition that defeated the Romulans (Terran, Andorian, Vulcan and Tellarite) decided that there was a benefit in maintaining this mutual pact and they formalized this decision a year after the war ended on what is now referred to as Federation Day, October 11, 2161. APD does not dispute the date of Federation Day, or the groups that started the coalition on that day. The true reason for forming this alliance, however, has been discovered. It was in response to the genocide perpetrated by and, later, on the race known as the Yaku. The Earth-Romulan war was winding down in early 2160; all sides were tired of waging and paying the price of war. Unknown to the other, each side of the conflict was planning one, final, desperate offensive. They were both planning on using almost all of their reserve resources and do their best to make it look like it was a simple plan that could be repeated at will - the truth was that these last attacks would take the full effort of each combatant in all-or-nothing gambles. Just before these last great battles were to commence, alarring news was spreading through the galaxy. The neutral and defenseless homeworld of the Haiweh was under attack. The Haiwehese were a race of simple collectors. They focused on collecting data from all and sharing it with all. Neither the Terrans, Vulcans, Tellarites, Andorians or Romulans felt that Haiweh were a threat and the record of these different races' cultures was in the best possible hands (more flippers, in truth) by allowing the Haiwehese to remain neutral and unmolested. This is why the reports of their planet being bombarded brought both sides of the war to their homeworld immediately. When the warships arrived at Haiweh, they found a new threat. There was a fleet of very small ships encircling the planet and using mass drivers to rain down asteroids on the surface. As the weary combatants watched, the fleet of one or two-person ships was turning the peaceful planet of Haiweh into a wasteland. Soon, the old adversaries found themselves as allies in this strange new conflict. As these small ships were attacked and destroyed, it never really made a dent in the planetary bombardment, it was as if the aliens had an inexhaustible supply of vessels and crew. Within 3 day and in spite of the best efforts to stop them, the Haiwehese homeworld and race were destroyed. Near the end of this set of days, it finally looked like the attack on the alien fleet was starting to impact their strength, especially as they started to leave the sector after they wiped out an innocent and helpless race. The warships from the Earth-Romulan conflict gave pursuit, totally abandoning their earlier plans to attack their old enemy. They had enough honor and duty that they decided to find out where these aliens came from and "teach them a lesson they won't forget," a quote from Admiral Potemkin of the Terran fleet. The alien fleet did not try to evade or fight their pursuers and simply led them all back to their own homeworld, Yaku. What followed is obscured by shoddy record-keeping and shrouded in each race's personal shame. It was known that the conflict took 8 months; that there were massive ground assaults, after the Yaku fleet of small craft was destroyed in the second month; that the Yaku were a strange race of mouthless creatures that could speak telepathically with any non-telepaths and would often turn the attackers on their own people - causing massive casualties with their deceptions. Some accounts say that the Yaku never stopped being aggressive and fighting against their enemies, even when they were on the verge of total annihilation. Some accounts said that they laid down their weapons and stopped trying to control peoples' minds, but their attackers were crazed with revenge for the Yaku's unprovoked initial transgressions. Some accounts even postulated that it was the Yaku-controlled enemies that led the charge for the total destruction of Yaku. All that these histories could agree upon is that, at the end of the 8-month struggle, Yaku became more of a smoldering ember than Haiweh ever was. These reliable, but unverified, reports all show this battle concluding less than two weeks before the peace treaty was signed by Romulus and her old enemies. Many believe that the old combatants were physically, psychically and resource depleted and there was nothing left to do, but make peace. At the same time, there were reports that the Yaku problem was discussed at the armistice table and all decided it was for the best if that chapter of our collective histories was kept secret and shut away from the light of media scrutiny. This portrays Federation Day and the end of Earth-Romulan aggression in a very different light than the "story" we've all been told. When you look at it, including this new perspective, which reality makes the most sense? Terra and her allies overwhelmed the Romulan Star Empire, who simply signed a peace treaty and put down their arms? Or that both sides lost their way and performed dishonorably, draining the last of their war chests and the last shred of good will of their peoples at home, so they bowed to the inevitable and simply stopped fighting. Has anyone ever gotten a veteran of the end of the war to speak about their experiences? It is never a topic for reminiscing or pride, don't you wonder why?
  6. I'm home once again, back on the Manticore. After all I went through and all I put my friends, my crew, my "family" through. After my deep cover Op with the Belosians, when I wasn't sure if the Federation would survive, but was pretty sure that I wouldn't. I'm home. I'm back! I'm flat on my back, that is - in a hyperbaric chamber in Sickbay. No exosuit, no feeling below my waist and searing pain in his joints above the waist. The medical staff is doing all they can, but it just takes time. I have to be patient - great, I'm SO good at being patient, huh? I wonder if they'll ever get the groove out of the deck up on the Bridge from where I always pace. ::he chuckles and then catches himself as his neck and shoulders feel like they've just burst into flames. He slows his breathing and catches his breath:: It was nice of Tess to set the chamber to Titan normal grav, so at least I don't have to fight against Terran G's just to lift my head. They tell me the N2 bubbles in my blood are getting smaller and I guess the pain is less than it was when they first put me in here, it's just hard to be objective about my own discomfort. All I know is that I am slowly going crazy being stuck in this storage pod with just my own thoughts for company. One of my biggest thoughts is, why am I still not able to feel anything below my waist? I keep debating whether I should ask the docs about this, but I know they will tell me anything of consequence once they have the facts. If I push them now, they will offer medically-recommended platitudes designed to bolster my self esteem while promising no real answers. So, I wait - in my little box, feeling the thrumming of the ship beneath me. The monotony broken up only by the occasional chat with Vilanne or Tess or even Nancy. What I'm not getting is an update on the ship, the crew, the mission. Isn't part of the healing process to also include keeping the mind engaged, the psyche bolstered? There I go, second guessing the experts, jumping to conclusions, not waiting for events to take their... "I DON'T WANT TO HURT YOU" - The voice is my father's voice. I jerk my head up and look around my chamber and out the window into Sickbay. The people I see through my window looks as stunned as I feel, they are looking around themselves at an invisible speaker. I hear his words in my ears, but it is not coming into my ears, I mean, I don't understand how I'm hearing this, especially since my father has been dead for over a decade. Is this what going crazy is like? Are we all going crazy? "THERE'S NO NEED FOR PEOPLE TO BE HURT" - It is my mother's voice now. She is alive, but she is not on this ship. Without realizing, I raise my arms and clap my hands over my ears. The pain is stunning, but I succeed in covering my ears, just as ... "I WON'T HURT YOU" - My father again, loud and clear, even though my ears are covered. Suddenly, Tess is at the window of my chamber, looking concerned and I realize she hear it too. I slowly lower my hands. "Do we have a special guest onboard, Tess?" "Not that I am aware, Admiral. Did you hear something as well?" I nod yes to her before I can stop myself and wince at the pain. Okay, so something is talking to us and we don't know who or where or why. Is everyone hearing this or just the lucky folks in Sickbay? Is Vilanne experimenting on telepathy? But that didn't feel like communication with a telepath, it was like talking, but no vibrating air in my ears. And the voices... it was like pieces of my memory, spliced together. It was more of the thoughts of safety and comfort and security more than the actual words. It was so powerful - and so comforting - and it stopped! More than anything, this looks like a job for Manticore, I just need to... ::He gasps with pain as he tries to lever himself off the bed and doesn't get anywhere, between the pain and the paralysis. He let's himself go and falls back onto his back:: Yeah, this is the very definition of adding insult to injury. ::he squeezes his eyes shut::
  7. DCS, Caisson Disease, the Bends, Rigelian Dancing Fever (it's Star Trek, there's always an alien name or a future "historical reference") - whatever you want to call it, it affects the great and small, the powerful and the destitute. Once a humanoid body is put under a great deal of increased pressure such as terrestrial deep water diving, moving between space ships and space suits, or even emergency warp plasma conduit repairs (See, I did it again - okay, I'll stop now), you must be careful returning to standard pressure. The condition arises from dissolved gases coming out of solution into bubbles inside the body on depressurization. This can lead to horrible joint pain, shortness of breath, loss of balance, altered senses/memory loss in the brain, spinal cord paralysis, death. ==================== So, where were we? Oh yes, Atragon-9 was in a Belosian shuttlecraft with three of their warriors, guarding him and wearing space suits and helmets because they cannot survive in Terran atmosphere. They decided to set the shuttle for A9's requirements, not their own. It was one of the ways that the Belosians thought differently than many other races, in how they classify their own logical thought. It helped Special Ops defeat their invasion and, he hoped, it would help him defeat his guards. Although they cannot breathe Terran air, their native gravity is similar to Earth, so their outfits were not built as pressure suits. If he was wrong, this experiment in prisoner escape would be quite short-lived. Besides aiming at the Manticore flight path and setting up his thrusters-as-morse-code trick, he had to disable or kill his captors. That would involve the slow build of the shutle's atmospheric pressure. He didn't know how much he could sustain, but he set it for the maximum he had heard about at the Academy. After that, it was a waiting game. Wait to see if they would die before he did; wait to see if he found the Manticore, since he would probably have blacked out by then; wait to see if Manticore would figure out the pressure variance or if they would just rip open the shuttle... From what he was told later, he was very glad to be unconscious when they tore off the hatch. DCS can often take up to 48 hours to kick in, but there have also been cases that affected the patient immediately. Thanks to his good luck, A9 was in the second group. It also didn't help that no one knew why his unconscious and barely breathing form began to suddenly and violently convulse. The Security team in the shuttle bay didn't have the expertise to diagnose his condition, but they had the good sense to rush him to Sickbay. The medical staff had no idea what they were facing, nor were they sure why the initial scans were showing the sudden formation of N2 bubbles in his joints, spine and brain. Thankfully, Dr. Chalice decided to trust in the test results, rather than what should be "possible," in this situation. A9 was moved to a hyperbaric chamber and they cranked it up "to eleven" (Spinal Tap, anyone? In truth, they really had to adjust the pressure to 11 bars just to get the N2 in his system to dissolve once again.) It was going to be a long time before he was able to walk the ship freely, not to mention the extreme stress on his Titanian physiology that has 0.3 Earth G as standard pressure. Maybe he'll look good in the hoverchair with the big shiny X on each side, like Professor Xavier.
  8. ::Atragon sits in his lightly guarded quarters on the Belosian invasion flagship:: {My job is almost done here, feeding my new "masters" slightly wrong intel, calculated to keep me seen as a deeply flawed and disgruntled traitor to the Federation, while not actually giving these aliens the upper hand. Thanks to Sovak and I, we have allowed them to mass their fleet this close to the Fed border. Quite a risk, but the Council felt that having the enemy close by and gathered together was better than a long, drawn out offensive. Unfortunately, it forces our hand to make sure the response to the invasion is swift and massive. We had to be sure they crossed the frontier, so they were seen as the transgressors. We also had to insure they came "ashore" far from a lot of inhabited systems, so that was part of my intel to the Big Bad, showing this as the weakest part of the border.} {Now it's up to Manticore and DS4 to be sure nothing looks amiss all while we lure the Belosians close enough to a point of contact with the Planet Killer. Fleet Science still isn't sure that the station will be enough mass for the PK's matrix, but it's all we have. It just needs to expand to the leading invasion ship and the rest, close by, should fall like dominoes. This won't destroy every enemy vessel, but the Federation fleet is standing by to perform mop up operations for the few that may decide to continue their failed initiative. Meanwhile, the data collected by Sovak will provide us with enough information to prepare for any future attempt by this new enemy. Working directly with them, however, has given me an insight into their perspective on expansion. If I'm right, they will decide we are too much trouble for the benefits they would reap, so they will look elsewhere for more growth.} {So, while I sit here pretending to continue my advising for their offensive, my only thoughts are how to get off this ship not only before it explodes, but long enough before that to be out of range of the chain reaction. Their minds are different enough from ours that there should be a way to convince them my assistance will be enhanced from a different vantage point - but how do I escape without an escort? How do I simply walk into a shuttle by myself? Maybe this is the one I don't walk away from - heaven knows I've cheated death more times than anyone deserves. It's like I'm the star of an old 21st Century vidrama and I have to be alive to come back each week. If it were only that simple. Maybe I should welcome an escort on my shuttle and then dispose of them in flight. I don't know how to accomplish that, but it will be easier than outrunning a chain reaction of massive molecular disruption. I don't know any more, I'm just so tired... }
  9. ::A9 walked away from the conference room, heading back to the Observation Lounge to join back up with Benjamin Harris:: { I have to keep Harris happy in order to get Sovak and McFly back safely and to get the upper hand with the invaders. My primary job now is to keep lying to him, telling him that I will support the "need" for attacking the Federation Council, Starfleet, Earth. Of course, the fleet should not have abandoned him and his crew all those years ago. Bitter, sure, looking for payback, I suppose so, but deciding to destroy the entire planet as a punishment of a few high-ranking Council members' failings? That's just crazy - and I know crazy! } ::He rubbed at his temples, trying to soothe a raging headache from trying to split his focus during the meeting with the Department heads:: { I thought it would be so easy to spout Harris's "company cuckoo line," take pauses for emphasis and then flood my mind with my true feelings, hoping that Erich could pick them up. It's obvious now that different parts of the brain control telekinesis and telepathy, because I feel like I have been spending an hour with my eyes crossed. I had to be clear and basic with my thoughts for Erich; I had to be empathetic and convincing with the crew; and I had to be damned sure that I didn't say what I was thinking or think about what I was saying. Harder than it looked "on paper." Now, it's a waiting game, but I can't wait too long. At some point, I need to check in with Erich again, maybe some sort of checking up on the rebuild of the warp core so we can fly on. Then I can think to him very clearly without the mental juggling. At the same time, I will need to take Ben aside and try to bring him back from the cliff of planetary destruction. There is no way Manticore's crew will go along with that plan! I also have to be fast about this, I can't kid myself that I'm that good of an actor, so I have to be sincere or fast - or both. Then there is Sovak and McFly - I have to get them back onboard, now that I have shown that I am "with" Harris. I should leverage Erich for that too, if I can get him to bring Engineering back up - it will show Harris that we are serious. } ::He pauses right outside the Observation Lounge and takes a deep breath before entering:: { Okay, time for my game face, to play one of my most dangerous games. There are times when I think that Harris can be calmed down, but his second, Xander, is really a loose cannon. He was wearing the McFly face and had no issue with shooting his own men or seriously wounding ours. He's the one who almost killed Kansas before Harris brought me back over here. I hate to think it, but he's going to have to die if we have any chance of turning Harris' crew from their path of Armageddon, of Charam. I don't think I've ever rolled dice this big before. }
  10. (This log contains the musings of Admiral Atragon-9 during the previous sim) I'm back on the ship, this is wonderful! I can go back in my memory, all too easily, to the time I was a prisoner of Charlie Thasus. First I gave up hope of a quick rescue, then I gave up hope of finding a way out of my prison by myself, then I gave up hope of seeing my friends, finally I gave up home of ever getting out of his clutches alive. It was only at that point that I gave up all hope of returning to Manticore. It is such a deeply rooted part of my psyche, it never occurred to me that I wouldn't return here until I was facing my own death. I cannot put into words the happiness (and inevitability) of returning to this ship. . . . I am so pleased that I am back on the Bridge. The overhaul gave her a "fresh coat of paint," and it suits her well. The Science team had a big enough slice of the upper deck that I could be out of the way, but still in the thick of it all, by just taking one of their seats. . . . I had been MIA for months, the fleet had to move on, especially when I was rescued and taken straight to the psych ward of SF Medical. Sovak is an excellent CO and Matt McFly is a surprising and surprisingly good choice for XO. The crew is in fine hands, the ship is in fine hands. I couldn't ask for more. . . . Okay, that's not strictly true, If I was really able to ask, I would ask for my command back. I'm back, the ship is back, what were they thinking. What ARE they thinking. Sovak and Matt are amazing people and amazing members of my crew, but it's *MY CREW* . . . Protecting a convoy from raiders, really? What is this, our first mission with a bunch of green recruits, this is more than just bogus! It's beneath us... well, I suppose it is beneath Them. What am I doing here? they gave me a seat on the Bridge, back, out of the way. Is this like the historical accounts of Earth corporations who used to take their own command staff, their own executives and bring in new executives, while shuffling the old ones to seats on the Board of Directors? What is my role on this ship? Am I the cautionary tale told to hot, young rising officers to make sure they didn't reach too high or to warn them away from any long-term plans of being in charge? . . . I am extraneous, I am unnecessary, I am just sitting here, watching the ship pick off these little raiding craft like picking low-hanging fruit. Am I doomed to reliving my "glory days," telling ensigns about how the Manticore used to make a difference in the quadrant. Telling stories of how we used to be a real fighting ship, not one that babysits convoys to keep away mosquitoes. So, now we escort this convoy? How silly, could it be more boring... ::the main convoy ship fires a spread of photon torpedoes as soon as the Manticore shields are down:: Oh Frak!!
  11. {{Tomorrow night's sim will mark the 17th anniversary of the Manticore's first sim, April 27, 1998, as I look back on 17 years, I get... sentimental}} ======================= ~The crew of the Manticore is back together, the ship is intact, the mission is unknown, but we will all face it together~ These random, wondrous thoughts are the kind that keep flowing through A9's mind. He supposes he never really knew how messed up he was until he was kidnapped, tortured and presumed lost forever. Starfleet Medical has always performed miracles, medically speaking, and Atragon realized they did so with him, even though he never thought he needed one. He was so messed up, he didn't have the strength or will or desire to cut short the therapy, the repairs they performed on him - with him. He didn't realize it, at the time, but between the state of his mind / body and the fact that Manticore was gone for a year and not a "distraction" for him, it was the perfect equation to get him to his current state. Happiness. That may be too simplified, as it was also contentment, renewal of his desire for "the mission," the sharpening of his skills, the sharpening of his mind, the clarity of focus, the quiet calm and deep internal resource pool. He was at the right place in his life, at the right place in the fleet. While the crew took a month off to get their own lives back in order, he took his time exploring and re-discovering the Manticore. He thought back to when he fought the Council to get Manticore commissioned, to give him the mission, his utter and total conviction of doing the right thing for All The Right Reasons. It has been years, with a lot of ups and downs, but he never felt more in line with his core, his psyche, the needs of the fleet and his ability to deliver. Of course, he wasn't the CO or XO of the ship anymore but, hey, technicalities, eh?
  12. The Pensacola had been traveling for weeks, heading to the last known assignment for the Manticore. They were sent to resupply the Special Ops base at Rylos-IX, part of the Beta Trianguli system (see map). The base is covert and often operating under a comm shroud, so the crew was not especially worried that the calls they sent out have gone unanswered. A9 was grateful to Captain Tahna Bek for allowing him the use of the Science station on the Bridge so he would have a place to sit. At the same time, he had weeks with nothing to do, as the ship simply flew in a warp-induced straight line. It was starting to make him stir crazy, but he was painfully aware to not show any sort of "crazy" behavior. The Pensacola dropped out of warp a week ago and he relinquished his seat to the Science officer so that sensor scans of the area could be initiated. There is nothing they expected to find, it is simply standard procedure, every time they return to normal space. As is so often the case when he is around (is he jinxing the mission of another crew?), the sensor scans turned up anything *but* normal space. The spatial anomaly had a very distinct chroniton flavor that told everyone that they were looking at a temporal distortion field. The Carthage has been dispatched to provide support and a "second pair of eyes" on the disturbance while the Federation Council is currently warning all ships away from the system due to "a plasma leak" (does anyone ever believe this excuse?) So, now A9 and the Pensacola waits once again, staring right at a distortion field that encompasses the entire Rylos-IX planetoid. If the Manticore is in there, how does the Pensacola get to them without being affected as well, and just what kind of temporal anomaly is this, what is going on in there? Four days after they arrived, there was a huge spike in chroniton particles and then it settled back to the same levels as before. Six days later, it happened again, so there is no way of being able to predict these severe events. This can't be good, especially, as we just sit here and wait for the Carthage. They are due in the next day or two, but even after they arrive - what's our next step?
  13. It had been three months since he had taken up residence at Starfleet Meeical that he felt that his ROI was no longer in the black. Between the therapies presented by the medical staff and the Black Ops conditioning he was putting himself through, he felt that he was at 100% and ready to resume his duties. Of course, it had also been three months since anyone had heard from Manticore. That didn't disturb him, though, as the nature of Manticore's missions would often take them off the grid for months at a time, from the perspective of the regular Fleet. What he needed was to be released from SF Med and get over to Special Ops to get the real story. It took another month in the hospital to finally convince the experts that he was not only cured, not only safe to be among the unprotected, but actually a benefit to his former job. Well, that's what SF Med stated when he was released after 4 months. But Special Ops wasn't as easily convinced and it took yet another month for them to let him resume his former post. Finally, at Intake plus five months, he convened a status review on the Special Ops Wing and found out... that they had no idea where Manticore was, either. They had been sent to resupply the covert based at Rylos-IX and hadn't reported for over 140 days. After A9 ranted and demanded resignations and had private meetings with the Fed Council about this lapse in management, they finally approved a mission to find Manticore, as they couldn't simply contact the Rylos station and ask about a delivery that was a secret from them. So, here he was, six months after stepping off a starship, standing on the Bridge of the Pensacola, trying to stay out of the way of Captain Tahna Bek and his command team, while also pretending to not see the sideways glances from the crew, wondering about "Crazy Admiral Atragon." It's as if no matter what Starfleet Medical's final disposition on you declares, you can't fix crazy. He would move throughout the ship and come across small knots of crew, speaking in low registers, who would stop altogether as he approached. It was always a coin flip, in his mind, between telling them that 'no, really, I'm fine,' or leaning into the center of the group, strumming his lips then shouting 'Booga-booga!' It was so much better when the crew members of the Wing were simply afraid of him, alas. First order of business is to find the Manticore, second would be to restore the respect for Command.
  14. It has been two weeks since A9 took up residence at SF Medical, one week since Manticore left orbit. The medical staff keep telling him that his progress has been "Phenomenal." He knows that part of that report is to make him feel better just by being told he *is* better. He knows part of that is the therapy sessions he is undergoing with the staff. He knows that part of that is simply spending two weeks out of a cell, out of a dungeon, even out of a starship - it simply calms him, relaxes him, offers him safety. Finally, he knows that part of that has been the self-paced retraining he has been putting himself through. It's funny, but he had a memory of this mental retraining from the first time he was put through it. He recalls it being so intense and frightening, so alien to his way of thinking and living life. Not so much, this time. Maybe he's just older and can bring his experiences to bear. Maybe he wants to get better SO intensely that he is a more willing participant. Most likely is the fact that he has been living this altered life for decades, so this isn't really a retraining, more of a refresher. Whatever the reason he isn't afraid anymore, his life is back in the groove, he is ready to return to duty, to service, to command. Just three things stand in his way of that. First, the doctors have to give him a clean bill of health - and they are notorious for being over-protective and over-cautious. Second, the fleet has to decide it is to their benefit to put him back on active duty and what form it will take. He has to show them that he will be a benefit to them, to Special Ops and he knows that will only be apparent if he can leverage his experiences with the Manticore. He is too old to be given new leadership responsibilities, at least in deep space. And Third, to get back to Manticore, he has to know where Manticore is and hope they are safe. Thanks to the first two points, no one has decided to share the ship's location or mission with him. He doesn't know if it's a milk run or if people are dying. Oh well, it's Manticore, after all, when have they ever had a milk run?
  15. Starfleet Medical is not only the greatest healing resource in the Federation, it is a place of supreme calm and balance. This is by design, as part of healing the body and mind is being able to soothe the soul. There are over two hundred gardens representing more than 120 different societies throughout the Federation. These are meticulously maintained and preserved to afford the patients the freedom to heal from the inside out once their physical wounds have been dealt with. Atragon-9 arrived at the facility with most of his physical wounds cured (the cardiac port will likely be a permanent addition to his physical presence.) He was provided with a cabin in the Titanian garden, the entirety of which is within a construct to allow for the 0.3G environment of that moon. Following a brief introduction to the amenities and resources available to him, he was left alone to become acclimated to his recovery area. He gave up his exo-skeletal support suit within the first day, as he didn't need it for mobility. He was amazed to find so many native trees, flowers and fauna existing in such harmony and all of it was real, not part of a holo-projection. He was able to sleep in his cabin with the windows wide open, to enjoy the sounds of the flyers and the scent of flowers from home. It was so peaceful, so soothing, so... forced. Everything around him was constructed to be "perfect," and it showed. Nothing was ever this right and complete on Titan - there were always issues, imperfections, troubles with the atmo controls, the soil, the building materials, and on and on. SF Medical went too far in their complete healing concept to the point that it was a constant distraction for him. He did enjoy the local sounds and sights, he did partake in the delicacies from home and truly enjoyed so much time in 0.3G once again. At the same time, he continued to be jumpy and nervous, "waiting for the other mag boot to drop," looking over his shoulder, waiting for the fantasy to come crashing down around him. He also never lost sight of being in a hospital bed, no matter how comfy it was. After the first day or two, he started to have visitors. Doctors and analysts, splitting their time between digging in his mind to heal and probing his memories for more details and clues about Thasus and his grand plan. Through it all, he knew they were also observing him to see if he could ever be trusted with Command again. He knew that his time was short. He had to show them a resilience and a desire to return to his place and he had to start showing this soon. He knew he couldn't fake it and, even deeper, he had to ask himself if this was really what he wanted. First step - get rid of the fear, the jumpiness, the panic. It took more than a week, but he convinced his handlers to let him have access to some Special Ops gear. He remembers training with this this stuff and it really worked - after a time. This system was tuned to heighten awareness, so that fear can be minimized, shriveled up, locked away in a box. In a box, that's where he was with Thasus - now it's time to put crazy Charlie in that box and blow it the frak up! He didn't have time for the regular pace of this course, so he doubled up the cycles, gave up what little sleep this system allows and dove in with gusto. Frak, if that doesn't show them a desire to return, nothing will. And if they denied him his Command, he would be ready to Take It. Yeah, he was getting better all the time! What was that old song...? ======================= Me used to be angry young man, Me hiding me head in the sand.. You gave me the word, I finally heard, I'm doing the best that I can. I've got to admit, it's getting better
  16. With the alarm sounding, all of the "project assistants" around Tina Lawton, the body guards assigned to her by Charlie Thasus, were suddenly gone. Everyone has priorities and it looks like she is not as high a priority as the security of Antares - the protection of Charlie. After her recent discoveries about Charlie and his Prisoner, the fact that her mentor was a sociopath, she knew one thing for certain, it was time to go. Now with the guards distracted, she knew that this was that time. Not stopping for her personal effects, not waiting to be better prepared at some future time, she took off running. It worked for her, as everyone was panicking, she could sense that, so she just made sure her escape look just as erratic as their haste. Running, she was running away, but she hadn't put a lot of planning into this and it just hit her that there wasn't very far she could run. Sure, she can get to the surface, but how does she get out of the dome; how does she get off of Titan and away from him, for good? That was when she sensed the new people in the complex, as she was climbing up the sub-levels. So this is why the alarm is sounding. But it's just two people, why are all the guards on alert for two people, they're just... from Starfleet! Why is Starfleet here and why such a small team, that's not their style. They're all about ships and fleets and armadas. A tactical team, in and out quick, but they got caught! What are they after? She didn't care, she just knew that they were her ticket out. She had to reach them, help them, save them so they could save her. It was a crazy idea, but it's the only one that she had. She moved toward them and realized they were in the shield room. So they got down here without knocking out Charlie's shield and they are going to shut it down to bring down their platoon, their gang, whatever they call it. Good! they will need more than two people to survive Charlie's goons and she needed them to survive to help her get away. Now to figure out how to help them before it's too late.
  17. Tina Lawton was sitting in her office, deep in the Antares complex, on level B5. She was going through the progress report on "The Prisoner," as Mr. Thasus wanted him to be called ("I am not a number, I am a free man!") She knew there was a very deep, personal connection between Charles and this man that he has been torturing for all this time. She knew it, just like she knew that Thasus was brilliant, and quite insane. It has been ten years since Charles discovered that she had a talent for telepathy, for empathy. He had his own special ability - moving objects with his mind. Somehow he had parlayed his telekinesis and intelligence into a massive business concern that pulled a lot of the strings of public endeavors, while staying in the shadows - the Antares Group. She had grown up in the shadows, always being shunned by others because she knew what they were feeling, what they were thinking. Not Charlie Thasus, though, he never shunned her, he reveled in her mutation, he called it her expertise. He hired her as a special assistant for his business dealings and his massive fortune ballooned, thanks to her insight into his business rivals, partners and clients. She knew it was unscrupulous, but she loved that her expertise was truly making her valuable and important to a major corporation, to a thriving business, to Charlie. He could not hide anything from her and yet he did not avoid being in her presence. She knew how intricate his thoughts were and she knew how obsessed he was with other people of special abilities, other experts. Over the years, she became his second-in-command in all but the public face of the Antares Group. That public face wasn't even Thasus, but a pompous PR drone that could be controlled when necessary, but truly thought that he was running one of the sector's largest philanthropic foundations. Meanwhile, deep below the surface of Titan, in a secretly constructed sub-complex, Thasus and she were running tests on people with special expertise. They had collected a great deal of research data in trying to find out what makes their brains so unique and so powerful. It was all going well, until the latest test subject - The Prisoner. Tina had been so used to knowing all that Charlie was thinking, that she had slipped out of the habit of scanning him. He could not hide anything from her and she knew that he knew. What she didn't realize, in her gap of scans, was everything he was doing to prepare for the collection of The Prisoner. Once he was their "guest," she scanned Charlie again, to try and fill in the missing pieces (he hardly talked about his plans with her, assuming she knew all the details he did). She was shocked at the lengths he had gone to, in order to capture this man. Causing thousands of deaths on Earth, after allying with K.E.N. (as a patsy), to set them up for destroying the Terran weather system, all timed to coincide with the man's arrival on Titan. The labyrinthine plan of Charlie's was stunning, and shocking. Still it did not prepare her for what he was doing to this man. Planting his DNA on a corpse to hide his capture from Starfleet! Keeping him in solitary confinement! Subjecting him to sensory deprivation! Keeping him on the verge of starvation! Toying with his emotions with the enhanced holosuite! Shocking!! But then Charlie started to take large biological samples from the man, far beyond the amounts needed for their usual research. Now, the insertions of the cortical, cardiac and spinal shunts! He was hurting The Prisoner just for the sake of the pain, to cause despair, hopelessness. He knew the man from many decades ago, there was a shared horror that had molded Charlie into the man he was today. It was right about then when she realized that Charlie had been using some of the research in expertise that Antares had collected, to put up walls in his mind. She found them and probed through them, with some difficulty. He didn't let her in for long, but what little she saw scared her more than any street gang ever did when they found out she was "a freak." She still has the bruise on her hip and head from where she hit the wall when he realized she had probed into his mind's dark recesses and threw her across the room with his expertise. Charlie isn't eccentric, isn't off-kilter, he is a sociopath - and he has her under surveillance around the clock. She noticed a change in the body types of the project assistants that are around her all the time. Definitely a shift from ectomorphs to mesomorphs. She is convinced that she cannot get away from Charlie without some sort of outside help and considering she is working in a secret facility deep underground, where is that going to come from? Just then, an alarm sounded throughout the complex and this time it wasn't a drill...
  18. {{ It really is like being stuck in Hell, in the classic and literal sense (or is that virtual {or figurative}? I get those confused...) }} {{ I woke up again, from one of my long bouts of unconsciousness. My head was shaved, I feel a port of some kind that has been built into the top of my skull. I also see one on my left pectoral and feel a third at the base of my spine. They all feel the same, so I am assuming they are look and function the same. One with access to my spine, one for my heart and one for my brain. }} {{ I feel particularly weak and I am going to guess this is because I have been kept unconscious for a number of days to allow the surgery for these devices to have healed enough that I can't just poke at them to get my body to start rejecting the foreign bodies. There is a numbness around the ports that probably means there has been nerve damage when they were inserted. I have tried to pry at them, but they are not simply small metal plates sewn to the skin, they seem to be connected to my skeletal system. I haven't dared to try moving them with my TK, as I don't know how deeply they are truly connected and I don't want to risk paralysis, seizure or cardiac arrest. }} {{ I don't think Dante truly knew Hell back in the 14th Century on Earth, but who could have imagined how the universe has changed in 10 centuries, so I guess I shouldn't dismiss his misery out of hand. Clearly, I have become an experiment for Charlie Thasus. My best hope is that he is trying to understand our TK and see where it comes from, in the body. Worst case is that he is going to pull my essence from these entry points and I will die a shriveled husk, forgotten, truly a lost soul. I'm going to bet it's somewhere in between, but I've always been a terrible gambler. What I do know is that the first opportunity I get to see a way out or a person coming to sustain/maintain me, I will lash out with everything I have - and hope that these experiments have not weakened my TK potential. Then again, what if Charlie is using me as a test to see if he can add to my abilities - and will it kill me in the process. There's a Contrapasso if I ever saw one, forced to suffer my TK as a punishment for having the ability in the first place. }}
  19. ::A9 sits on the floor of his cell, near the toilet - the only part of his cell that is not a smooth stone surface of floor, wall or ceiling:: {I don't look around any more, I don't get up or move at all. I gave up going through the door for the holosuite "exercise time," and I don't eat the food that is slid into the room on those flimsy aluminum foil trays. It seems that more time is lost during my conscious hours. I wake up with bruises on my arms from intravenous feedings. It is an old-fashioned technique, yet it is keeping me alive.} {What I don't know is why I am being kept alive. They aren't questioning me, at least not verbally - while I'm awake. I can't remember when, but I gave up wondering why, wondering where, wondering how they have avoided being tracked by Starfleet. It's as if no one is even trying to find me. I have never thought of myself as a spiritual man, rather a man of cold reason, logic, empirical proof. And yet reason and logic has fled and I am lost. I have surrendered at the deepest level and there is no one to accept my terms. I have nowhere to go and no reason to stay - besides my imprisonment and my profound lack of caring. I will never be free and never know if I am freed. I just persist, totally at the whim and direction of my captors. I have nothing to do with that and I wonder why I am being kept around. Again, it's the one word I still cling to - why.}
  20. A9 has lost track of time, plain and simple. He has being kept in a dark room for so long. His food seems to be delivered at different intervals all the time. Sometimes he is quite full when a new meal arrives, sometimes he is so hungry it seems like more than a day goes by between "feedings." He is also getting washed at an irregular schedule, but that is a generous term for these sessions. He is sprayed with a liquid spray that dissolves his overalls, then a spray of water from some sort of fire hose, followed by a disinfectant hose and a rinse again. Finally a new set of overalls are slid into the room after his body and the floor have had time to dry. His elimination needs are met with a toilet/bidet that is built into a corner of his room and is the only source of light, when he wanders near it. If he stays too long, the light goes out, so it doesn't help him to stay close to the plumbing in hopes of having a consistent source of illumination. This is his entire existence, punctuated only by the occasional visits to the HD holosuite of Millburn Park and that one visit from Charlie Thasus. He knows that it has been a number of weeks, possibly months, but he has no way to gauge this as his other break from this "norm" has been when he has been sedated during his imprisonment. One was early on, when there was a number of medical procedures performed on his wrist, neck and chest. One was his first visit to Millburn. The ones that truly worry him are the times he wakes up and realizes that it was a chemically induced sleep. He has no idea why Charlie keeps knocking him unconscious and he has no way to fight it. He knows that his TK is still intact, so there doesn't seem to be further medical testing being performed that would affect this. He has been given a great deal of time to live in his own mind. He has run through all of his plans of escape and he has stared at himself, in self-reflection and he realizes he is alone. Not just in the dark and in this cell, in all aspects of his being. Maybe that is something that the Federation Council always knew, always saw in him. Maybe that's what had made him excel in command of Special Operations. The ultimate lone wolf, but not in a good way. Now it has come home to roost in reality. He is not being interrogated, he is not being tortured, he has just been taken from the world and left alone, very alone.
  21. ::A9 watched as Thasus left his cell, carrying the chair (the only furniture in the room) with him. The magnetic click of the door closing seemed to shake Atragon as he sat on the floor. He looked around as if he was just waking up:: {Frak, Charlie is out of treatment and up to his eyeballs in subterfuge. Now that I think of him, I don't know if he's out of treatment or if he escaped, but he's insane, that much is clear. Just as clear is my own need for escape. Up to now, I had no idea why I was being held, who my jailer was, what was the goal of my captivity. Now, I have two out of three and knowing Charlie's goal is unimportant.} {Now I have to watch for any opportunity to free myself, even if it includes harm being done to my captor. I don't know how long I have been here, but he has been effective in hiding me from Starfleet, so my freedom is dependent only on my own devices. I will get out of here. I Must. Even if only half of the things he told me are true, he is a very influential and powerful sociopath. He must be stopped, he must be controlled, he must be leashed again.} {I suppose there are some who are truly irredeemable - there isn't a hole deep enough. I need to feel my hands around his throat, know that his death is on my hands, literally and figuratively. I look forward to that day. I ...} ::A9 scrubs at his eyes:: {I have to get out of this cage before I become a monster, like him}
  22. Charles Thasus sat in his office, in his mansion on Titan, looking out at his garden on the only home planet he'd ever known. Everything was on schedule, he was pleased and scared - and that pleased him even more. After all the time and effort to create his special sanctuary, will he be leaving it for good? His compound would be called modest on Earth but, considering the premium for space inside the domed colony on Titan, it raised a few eyebrows locally. The established citizens of Titan did not know what Thasus did for a living or how he wrangled the Titan colonial commission into providing him such a living/working space. However, few questions were ever asked, as he was a frequent contributor to public works and charitable causes throughout the city state. Still, anyone who spent any time considering the man found him "odd," in ways they could not name. He wasn't a remarkable man, no matter how people tried to focus their attentions on him. He seemed to be constantly changing, shifting, reinventing himself. There was something covert about the man and the few people he let be around him didn't know the half of it. After dismissing his household staff for the day, he slid aside a hidden wall panel in his office and stepped into a small turbolift that took him down 15 levels below the surface of the moon. Not a lot of people knew that the Titan dome was not simply an upside-down bowl, it was actually a spheroid with almost half of it buried in the surface of the planetoid. Thasus chose his property as close to the center of the colony as he could, so that he would have access to the greatest area of subtitanian space. After he moved in, he had broken through the "ground" below his home to gain access to an area filled with Titan dirt during colony construction - this was done to create a level surface for living spaces. He excavated 120 meters down and 2 kilometers in width. The finishing work was completed by a construction firm that had wondered how he got the special permission to use so much space and how he moved so much ground without heavy excavators that had never been brought to Titan. Like so many other questions surrounding Charles Thasus and his enterprises, they never seemed important enough to ask. No one put it all together to see a pattern. Careful, Charles was always careful. That was a lesson he learned the hard way, after being committed to the institution as a teen along with his cohort Xian Yi Huan. She snapped completely after they were hospitalized, but he learned to be ... careful. Careful and patient. He didn't slip up and he was willing to be very, very patient. It took a long time, but he "got better," and got out. He used the same techniques to amass his influence, his power. His own natural powers helped along the way, but he was always careful to keep them from being noticed, from being discovered. He founded the Antares Group and was able to distance himself further from any personal scrutiny, all while building his power base. Antares invested in a number of worthwhile causes and even a few that were more on the fringe, like Keep Earth Natural. They cared about the Terran ecosystem, but were always a bit sketchy with their plans to achieve their goals. It was so easy to direct them where and how to focus; when he decided to go for a bigger play, they were the perfect cover. Along the way, one of his contacts alerted him to one of his deep targets, one of his "long game" goals. He grabbed that golden ring just as the Terran weather game heated up. How interesting and fortuitous, he was so excited, he almost forgot to be careful. He couldn't know how successful the Earth project would be, how the Terran and Federation government would react and the resources they would put into play. When the Manticore came to Titan for the weather control center, he knew what he had been given, the perfect opportunity. Now he could dispose of his target in the worst way possible and he was giddy with fulfillment. Now the target is his, forever, and the Earth weather system is still vulnerable (with the control components on Milieu Station from an Antares subsidiary.) Everything is going his way. He tries not to gloat, but it's so hard not to, and why not, truly. He just has to see how his target will react to knowing who the hunter was, who the winner is, how the proper little martinet has fallen. Stepping out of the lift on B15, he makes his way to the trophy room and finally steps inside to face his enemy. He stands in the doorway, the light spilling into the dungeon-dark room. "Attie, you have been my guest for a long time, I suppose it's time we met face to face - or should I say, meet again. How many decades has it been, we're both getting so old..."
  23. {Water - when was the last time I washed with water? On the ship, it's a sonic shower, and then I've run some holodeck programs of Millburn Park, back home. That lake, we would swim and kayak, they built the waterfall into it. We would have picnics there and, later on, we would have water training for Belisarius. It's so much harder to move or hold water than a solid object, it was one of my most difficult classes. As much as I dreaded those exercises, I got to play in water, in the lake. The observers did realize that their subjects *were* kids, so they always gave us play time when we went to Millburn. It wasn't much, but we hardly had any play time while training and I loved it. Such fond memories of splashing around and ... and ...} {Wet - I am being showered with hot water. Wait, when were my clothes removed? The water, it has a smell to it, medicinal, cleansing. I guess I haven't gotten clean since I have been here and there have been a lot of meals, a lot of sleep cycles - when they let me sleep. How long has it been? Why has no one come to look for me, rescue me. After all this time in Starfleet, all the terrible things I have done "for the good," here is my reward, my prize, my penance, my punishment, my fate, forgotten.} {Damp - I am cold, I am wet, I am waiting, I don't understand. Why clean my body if it will never be seen again outside of this room, by another person? Why am I still alive, what do they want from me, why haven't I been questioned?} {Dry - It must be warmer here than I thought, I am dry, I am warm, but I am still naked. Is this the next stage of my captivity? Nothing to hide, nowhere to hide, exposed, open. They are right, I am nothing. They have cleansed me and I am a blank. They ask me nothing, I have nothing to give} {Dressed?! - I don't remember falling asleep, but I find myself waking up, wearing a simple tunic and leggings. Familiar to me from my youth on Titan, yet totally plain, unadorned, no neighborhood markings or development coloring. How am I losing these big pieces of time and consciousness?} ::A9 realizes that he has fallen unconscious again and is awoken by the sound of a heavy door opening behind him with a bright light beyond in the outer room, He sits up and squints at the light as a figure wearing similar clothing as his, steps into the room and speaks:: "Attie, you have been my guest for a long time, I suppose it's time we met face to face - or should I say, meet again. How many decades has it been, we're both getting so old..."
  24. ::A9 has been sitting very still since the food tray levitated into his cell. He couldn't bring himself to touch the tray or anything on it. His hands and face are twitching and he keeps staring at the tray and thinking - very hard!:: {Okay, so, that tray... it floated in here, but it wasn't anti-grav, it had to be TK. Yes, TK - it can't be something else, there is nothing else, that's what it has to be.} {Okay, it's too much of a coincidence that someone with TK is involved with the imprisonment of someone with TK. It's a plan, a plot, a conspiracy, it's not by accident, no, no way!} {Okay, it has to be someone from the Project, what else could it be, it has to be that. I have to believe... it has to be a Belisarius kid, it's all that make sense, I have to hold onto that, nothing else fits the puzzle,} {Okay, so the group of us from the Project. There were six kids, that's it, not a big group. Got smaller when Elsa and Nicholas died while we were playing, Just Playing, but we didn't know just how bad it could be. They didn't keep a close enough eye on us, they didn't tell us to be easy, careful - how could we know, how could they NOT know?} {Okay, so they really put us under tight controls after that, didn't talk to us about Nick and Ellie, figured we wouldn't understand. Not understand, we saw the bodies - twisted up, banged up, so... kinetic. We knew what had happened, how it had happened, we understood - as much as any kid understands death.} {Okay, well, that led to Charlie and Xian Yi losing it. They couldn't handle what happened and then they felt the team leaders were blaming them for the deaths, but wasn't it all our faults? These two were always on edge, worried, frightened, guilty, suspicious, un-focused. Frak, WAS it their fault?} {Okay, they got taken away and it was just Lundy and I. We didn't know what was going on. They left us alone for so long after that, locked in a room with nothing to hurt ourselves with... just like the one I'm in here. Food tray, food trays were all we had to play with. No utensils and the trays were so flimsy, like foil wrappers. The food was all soft, nothing we could turn into a projectile, nothing we could choke on. Can't remember how long, there were lots of meals - and nothing else.} {Okay, so, then they separated us and still more meals. It was hazy... It IS hazy now...} {Okay, my parents came, we left there, we moved out of Project housing, we just made do. The Fleet kept payments coming and we just tried to make us a family again. It took a long time, but I made it. I saw Lundy once, after a few years and it looked like she made it, too. They kept us apart. I lost track of her, of our teachers, I never went back to the Project center. I went on, I went to Starfleet, but so much later than other students, it took SO long for me to just be with others again. Controlling the TK, knowing that friends were friends and enemies were to be avoided, not ... hurt, not controlled. The meds helped right off and I finally stopped using them a year before the Academy.} {Okay, so what the frak is going on? Why am I here, why am I going through this again? It's all about my TK, it's all about punishing me. It has to be, IT HAS TO BE} ::he snaps his head around the empty room. Looking at his food tray, he kicks it to the corner. He is about to stomp on it and he stops and picks it up, staring at the food. He dumps the food onto the floor and tosses the tray into the air, "grabbing it" with his TK. The tray wavers for a moment and then begins to crumple in on itself. Soon it is a ball of foil and it continues to get more and more compact, the concentration showing on his face. Within a minute, the ball of foil is the size of a marble and very dense. He exhales a breath he had been holding and the marble drops to the floor. He drops to the floor next to it and reaches out his hand to touch it, as if he isn't sure it's real:: (whisper) i'm sorry.
  25. ::A9 wakes again, in the dimly-lit room:: {Dear mental diary, I have completely lost track of the Circadian cycle. I never realized how comforting it was to know night from day, to note the passage of time with a chronometer, to have a schedule - a routine to follow, no matter how often it gets thrown into disarray by a mission's circumstances.} {I noticed something odd the other day... or maybe last week, I just can't tell. Anyway, my food tray was presented to me and it floated through the slot in the door. There was something about it that seemed ... familiar. I examined the tray and could find no technology on it, no grav or repulsor circuits. then I realized the sense of the familiar. It was being propelled by telekinesis. At first I wondered how I was knowing to bring myself the tray and it dawned one me, much too late - to be honest, that it wasn't me. There is another telekinetic on the other side of that door.} {My first thought was a rescue - It was a very brief thought. I don't know any telekinetic, especially one strong enough to move a heavy tray so smoothly and easily. And even if I did, why would this stranger decide to rescue me. Besides, is bringing me my meal a rescue attempt? I have to admit I pawed through my food for awhile looking for hidden clues, tools, weapons, messages... it was just food. In addition, the food has not been served via TK ever since that time. I believe it only happened twice - I am a bit foggy on recalling that kind of detail.} {I don't understand, it's like I'm back in primary school and the other Belisarius* kids would try and show off for each other and... Oh FRAK! No, that doesn't make any sense at all. Those kids are ... well, not kids any more and who's even left of the group and... I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE!!} ============== * excerpt from A9's official ship bio: Belisarius was a covert Federation project begun approximately 40 years ago to nurture and enhance natural telekinetic properties in humans. The TK Index was formulated to rate the level of an individual's psycho-kenetic capabilities. A TKI of 0 is for normal humans (mundanes) with no such abilities; a TKI of 2 would be the equivalent of someone such as the 20th century Earth entertainer/telekineticist Uri Geller; and an example of a TKI of 3 would be the infamous Hazric Allaman of Altair 4, responsible for the "mystical" massacre of an entire indigenous race in 2214. Terrans with an Index of 2 were brought to Titan to begin the experimentation. Through therapy, focus exercises and chemical enhancement, most participants increased to a TKI of 4 (such as Atragon-9's parents.) Another focus of the project was to monitor and analyze the offspring of the original participants. The Belisarius project was halted 20 years ago for a myriad of reasons: lack of funding, no real military uses (TK is only useful at close range) and the extreme difficulty with TK-enhanced children. Atragon-9 was one of six children born to the group. Two died as a result of improperly controlling their powers, and two have been institutionalized due to severe emotional problems. Atragon-9 is one of the remaining two that have gone on to "normal" lives, yet it still took him a long time to adjust to normal adolescence and maturation. This is one of the reasons he didn't graduate from Starfleet Academy until the age of 34.