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Topic: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.] (Read 1100 times) previous topic - next topic

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DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]

[ USS Theurgy | Flag Bridge | Positronic A.I. Brain Core | Deck 02 ]  Attn: FollowTomorrow

Having arrived ahead of time to the summons he'd made, Captain Ives stretched his neck whilst waking the circular chamber of the Theurgy's flag bridge. In the centre of the room rested Thea's positironic brain, the digital nerve centre of the entire ship - what could be described as both the soul and heart of the multivector dreadnought. Around the room sat chairs and duty stations meant for operations on a fleet-level, but since the Theurgy never became the new flagship of Starfleet, the area was abandoned save for the times when the communications systems were utilised by the intelligence operatives aboard. The lights were quite dim, since Jien had not bothered to increase the lighting since he entered. As it were, the lit wall-monitors shed light across the deck plating and the duty stations, just like the holographic representation of the Theurgy that hovered in the air above Thea's physical self.

Once the sliding doors opened, and the one he'd summoned appeared, Jien turned to greet her.

"Thank you for coming at such short notice, Petty Officer," he said, hands on his hips and the deep tone of his voice filling the quietude of the flag bridge. That he denominated her by rank had its own message, and one he hoped was clear without having to discuss at length. For despite how she had come aboard his ship under false identity, he did recognise the aid she'd granted the mission, and that despite her name and origin, species and ulterior motives, she was still an enlisted Starfleet officer, and she belonged where she was - serving in the Security Department under Wenn Cinn and Deputy zh'Wann. Had it not been for her choice to reveal her true nature so that she might aid in the recovery of their Temporal Affairs Officer, Jien was not sure what he'd do about her presence aboard the ship. Then again, Edena Rez had come aboard under false identity, and he had ended up naming her his First Officer after the Niga Incident. It all served to prove that even though people were not always what they seemed to be, it was their choices and motives that determined who they really were, and what they might become.

"I would have summoned you sooner... but I heard what befell you during Vasser's mutiny. Having suffered the same fate," he said without pausing, merely mentioning in passing how his female form had been assaulted too, "I decided to wait before I spoke with you. However, today's events at the Black Opal, and the betrayal of more officers I thought were true to the mission, I cannot postpone this meeting any longer. There is too much at stake, and for sake of the mission, I have summoned you here in hopes of disclosure."

Saying this, Ives stepped up to Sar-unga Neleo, the Asurian operative that now belonged to his crew.

"I need you to tell me about your people," he said, his oaken stare unblinking as he looked unto her green eyes, "and if they can aide in our endeavour."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #1
[ USS Theurgy | Flag Bridge | Deck 02 ]

Had she been summoned a few hours earlier, she might not have been so contented and calmed. Generally, Ives made her feel uncomfortable. It was not that Ives was of higher rank, though that did contribute. It was that she had lied to someone so honorable for so long, that it didn't sit well with her, even if it couldn't have been avoided. Right now was a rare moment. Standing in front of the sliding doors, she found herself confident. She would not find Ives disconcerting this time, because she was Sar-Unga Neleo. She was in control. She took a deep breath and approached the sliding doors. They opened on their own, revealing a dimmed room, with Ives lit only by the cool lighting from the monitors. She probably should have felt intimidated, she thought.

She stood still, stiff but not quite at attention. While the captain spoke, she couldn't help but notice how he intentionally referred to her by her rank. A warm sense of belonging rose from her gut--only to deflate at the mention of what happened at the mutiny. She suppressed it all, because none of it was important right now. What was important were Jien's words. He needed help. He needed...

...A diplomat?

She stood surprised that he would even ask. She was a spy, and a trigger-happy soldier girl, but a diplomat? Did she even have the authority to ask her people for help like this? And would they accept?
"...Captain, I appreciate that you would think of me in your time of need, but...Well, uh. We're not humans. We're not very large or big or strong, and we don't have that weird thing humans do where they just....do the impossible."
Though, with that said out loud, she realized she may be discounting her race's worth. She crossed her arms and scratched at her shoulder as she thought.

"...I should amend that statement. No, we're not humans, but we have our own strengths. We wouldn't have gotten this far if we were a weak race. There's not many of us, but we hold on anyways. We've got advanced tech, combat experience, and we're pretty hard to kill, so it's not that we're weak.

The real issue, I think, is how we...how we feel about morality." This was the part where she had to tread lightly, she thought. No, she wasn't a diplomat, but she wasn't about to paint her own people as a bunch of heartless monsters.

"Humans and the Federation--and by extension, most of us on the ship--all have a similar sort of morality system, where they believe in rights that people are just born with. Things like free speech and the right of a race to exist--Asurians don't exactly have that, and not because we're all born evil or something, we just....We haven't had enough time to grow as a people to figure those things out yet. You--or we, or they, or whatever-- are about what is true and right, and the Asurians are more about what will keep them alive. If I asked them to lend us aide, I can't promise you that they will agree. And I'm not even sure how to ask them for aide."

She found it hard to look at Jien in the eyes now. She couldn't help but feel she was letting him down. "I'm sorry Captain. I wish I could give you my guarantee. There's nothing I'd like more, honest."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #2
[ USS Theurgy | Flag Bridge | Positronic A.I. Brain Core | Deck 02 ]  Attn: FollowTomorrow

Thoughtful, Jien listened to what the Asurian told him about her people. Brow furrowed, he folded his arms across his chest and slowly paced the bridge. In one way, the problem presented spoke to him, in how he had diplomacy as his calling before and after he was given command of the Theurgy. He had opened planetary trade blockades, mediated between warring factions with generations of bad blood saturating the conflicts, and convinced the leaders of new worlds that the Federation meant no harm. And yet... he had also failed to prevent the Romulan Civil War, which had made him want to resign from Starfleet. That was... until the transmissions from Starfleet Command had been uncovered.

So there he was, facing another challenge, where the Theurgy was in dire straits, and depending on the aid of a previously unknown species. A warrior people possessing great technical advancements, and who might just be the key to success in their endeavour to spread the truth. The question was, however, if they could be convinced that the battle was theirs to fight as well? The implication of the parasitic aliens was plain, but the proof meagre. The question was, he deduced, not whether the Asurians should risk their people for a fight on vague grounds, but what had been their reason to infiltrate Starfleet to begin with.

"So I gather," he said, raising his eyes to her in the dim light of the bridge, "based on that sentiment, that the reason behind you enlisting in Starfleet comes out of your people's collective survival instinct. For if there is a limited development of social justice, the only reason that would merit going to such lengths about hiding you, it had to come from a greater need than mere curiosity. It begs the question what your people need from the Federation. Is it resources? Protection? What were your objectives?"

Petty Officer Cardamone had already said she'd make the attempt, and for that Jien was glad, but in order to secure a positive response, the message had to be clear. "I understand if your sense of loyalty towards your people denies you to speak of your objectives, of course. The rest of the crew and I will be grateful if you try, as well as you can, convince them that their survival depends on opposing this enemy of ours. But that is not all you can say. I don't think that is the sole factor that can compel their action. Not if they are warriors. I think that their actions, now, would be their chance to prove themselves as the force that they are. The Asurian entrance unto the Alpha Quadrant's stage could not be more opportune, and should we succeed - together - they will have found allies with the cleansed Federation. A Federation willing to grant far more resources, settlement on an ideal planet, everything they might need... Less opportune, of course, would it be if they introduced themselves in peace-time. Because then... no one would owe them anything."

Jien fell silent then, letting the white-haired woman think about it some more.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #3
Ives was met with a silence. Instead of answering right away, Dyan had taken to examining the shifter's shoes. There was much to gain, and yet much to lose. They could become victors, glorious warriors that all of the Federation would owe a great debt to, but they could almost as easily face their own extinction. It'd be a great feat to try to convince the Monarchy and her advisors--Dyan's own father included-- to come to war with such high risks. The Federation may be deeply honorable, but were they really worth this?

She glanced up to see Jien's face, right now sporting a rather masculine (and quite attractive) visage. At any moment he could become a she and Dyan would use the wrong pronouns for a half hour afterwards, but Jien was actually quite a steady, reliable force in her life. Regardless of what she was to him, Dyan or Sar-unga, she was his petty officer. He made a point of saying so, after all. As a petty officer, she was not just a thing to be used. She was a respected member of the Federation, a valuable part of the crew. And it was not just Jien who was so accepting. The true Federation was like that too. The Federation would not just use the Asurians as a tool. They would be partners. Anything else would not be in the spirit of the Federation, and she knew them well enough to know that.

However one thing held her back from saying yes with any level of enthusiasm, and that would be their alliance with the Sheromi. The Asurians would not act alone here. She was not one to keep up on Sheromi-Asurian politics, she hardly even liked the insectoid race as a whole. She could only assume that coming out into the open would put a lot of strain on their relationship with the secretive, spying race. She would have to sort that problem under 'none of my business'. She did not have the understanding to fix that one.

Finally, after what felt like at least an hour of silence (but it was only a few minutes, it couldn't have been that long), she took a deep breath to speak again.

"You make a good argument. It's one I'll put forward when speaking to my contact. There's some...extenuating circumstances, things I'm obligated to keep quiet on...But you've been good to me. The Federation, the real guys who believe in the right stuff, they're good to me too. And I guess that whole sense of justice thing has started to rub off on me." She smiled. In her mind, she thought about Asurians flying in with their spheres and saucers, evil doers getting their just desserts, with He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named roasting alive over a bonfire, all the things that tickled her fancy like that.

"We'd be at an advantage, swooping in to save the day during wartime like this. I'll pass that on. Maybe I'll put in a little bit of 'daddy's special girl is in trouble' too." Her dad's face if he ever knew about half the things she'd gone through--she had to fight her grin to keep herself looking professional.

"I think it's fair to point out I'm not a politician, and neither is my father. We don't have the power to declare war on behalf of our people, and we can't make demands, but I can make the assumption that the Asurians are going to want their own planet, someplace to call home, since we lost ours, and ways to become self sufficient instead of relying on piracy all the time. We have only what we've stolen from others. We don't even have a culture or history. We'll be...a tall order, to say the least.

"Do you really believe that we're strong enough to take on Federation technology? Will we be worth dealing with? And what if we begin to look like an outside invader, like we'd be depicted as the outside evil that twisted Jien Ives's and his crews' minds to betray the Federation?" She spoke the last part as if she were the narrator to a horror movie's trailer, "It'd be easy to make us a new villain. We're not a very large race either, Captain. We could be looking at extinction if it goes wrong."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #4
When the Asurian told Jien that neither she nor her father had the political influence to compel their species to enter the conflict with the parasites in Starfleet Command, a part of Jien's hopes sank, but there was still the odd chance that the Aurians could act swiftly if her message reached them in time. This was what Jien thought while she began asking her questions. Some of which he might have had answers for, and some that he could not possibly know.

While she spoke, he found himself appreciating the way the lights from the monitors around them caught her white hair, her horns and the curl of her tail; this extraordinary permanent form that he - as a Chameloid - appreciated for its forever solid and genome-generated appearance. Generations of evolution had produced her physical form; this single expression of whom she was. His own kind might change at the turn of a thought, yet being raised by humans, he had come to pick two chosen forms to embody both facets of the human form. Cardamone had no such choice, and seeing her and all other individuals around him, Jien appreciated them like unique verdure that had taken millennia to cultivate, fantastic people of all species that got by with just one form. When such a form was as aesthetically pleasing hers, it was hard to not appreciate her form too openly, lest it would be unseemly by a person of his rank.

"Whether or not your people has a fighting chance against Federation technology, I have not the inkling of an idea. I think you - of all people - are best qualified to make that kind of assessment. However," said Jien frowning a little, "you do raise a valid concern about how the Asurian affiliation with the Theurgy and its crew might cast a dark shade upon their presence in Federation space. First impressions last, as they say. I may have my own hopes about how much the Asurians would be able to invest themselves in this conspiracy that leads to Starfleet Command itself, but regardless of my wishes, I would not wish to demand your people to invest themselves in a conflict that isn't theirs to fight in. Their cost might very well be extinction, so the Theurgy might need their aid, but I would only ask for the Asurians to involve themselves in a manner that does not put them at long term risk. It depends on their capabilities, and what they offer to do to aide the Theurgy. If they have means to easily aid us, and can do so with their cloaking devices intact, then I welcome it..."

Looking to the deck plates, Ives pushed the imagined screams of all who had died from his mind.

"Yet I could not possibly ask for an entire species to gamble their survival on this endeavour, not by openly opposing Starfleet. I am reaching out to you, Sar-unga Neleo, in hopes that your kind may hold some means in which they might aid... but I would not like to have them identified by the parasitic usurpers and be made enemies of the Federation. I would not readily bear that upon my conscience. I am burdened in such ways as it is." Jien raised his oaken eyes to her again. "All I ask, is that you consider sending word swiftly, right now from this bridge, to your contact. For if fortune favours us, and the Galaxy as a whole, your people may have some means to aid us at Starbase 84, and for whatever aid the Asurians may provide in overthrowing the enemy, I make the promise to laud your efforts and make sure you are compensated justly. This entire crew will know what role the Asurians have played, and with our collective voice, I swear to you, that you will earn your due recognition."

It depended on the Asurians how much they were willing to gamble, for as always, you did reap what you've sown.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #5
Guilt was not a feeling she felt easily. It didn't come naturally to her, and it tasted a lot like acid reflux in her throat. Normally she could write it off. Here, she found it was very difficult to do that. This human disease called emotions, she began to hate it a little.

"I'll do it. I'll send word, and if the monarchy decides to come swooping in and they get pinned as the bad guys, then well, at least we'll know we're right. I'll make the call." She crossed her arms and sighed, thinking about how to go about this. The Captain likely has no idea who the Sheromi are and it ought to stay that way, but if he were to stick around, he might get to meet one. But it's no easy task to just shoo the captain on out like she owned the ship. On the other hand, this is not something she can procrastinate on.

"...do you mean right here, right now? With you present?"

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #6
Readily, Jien took the hint with the ghost of a smile crossing his stony features. Likely, it was the first time she faced a situation with a superior officer where she had to make a tactful request about discretion. Jien understood, of course, that she would rather speak with her contact without him present. After all, he had been in Starfleet Intelligence, and would not have had it any other way himself.

"The console over there has been given access to subspace communication," he said, nodding to the station in front of Thea's positronic brain, at the centre of the flag bridge, "so you can just dial out at your leisure. If you get any kind of reply that would hint as to the success or failure in gaining your people's aid, I would welcome if you immediately informed me about it personally. If you expect a reply within the night, I will have retired from my Ready Room at this hour, but I would be thankful if you came and told me regardless the hour. It is a matter of great import, and I need to make contingency plans for any answer they might leave you with. I wish you luck, Petty Officer, for all ours sake."

With that, he moved to leave, but an errant thought came to him, which made him pause at the door.

"I once did what you did," he said, looking back at the horned woman with the white hair, "I infiltrated a foreign world in the guise of its inhabitants. Yet my cause was not so noble as yours. Whereas you sought to learn our nature for the sake of your people's survival, I went to a foreign world with the simple mission of industrial espionage. Would I have been given a mission of your calibre, I might have remained with Starfleet Intelligence. Instead, I left in shame of stealing secrets for the benefit of the Federation, without the great respect you've shown me and this crew by stepping forth and revealing your true nature. You did it for our mission, and for the survival of another crewmate. I laud you for your integrity, Petty Officer Neleo, and your righteousness."

He said this without expecting a reply, leaving the flag bridge to Sar-unga. The sliding doors closed behind him.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #7
Jien's words were meant to make her feel less alone. She's not sure if they worked, but the thought was appreciated. She smiled and nodded at him, and made her way to the console as he made for the door. She stood with her hands hovered above the display, wondering what sort of mess would come of her actions today. Would she get an immediate reply? Would she be forced to bother Ives in the dead of the night? The back of her mind wondered what sort of pajamas the shapeshifter wore, if any at all, and if Ives shifted mid-sleep. Those images were easier to handle than the idea that she would become a historically important person, either a savior or the next Hitler, as the humans sometimes said.

But then she heard his voice again, she turned over her shoulder to listen.

"...I laud you for your integrity, Petty Officer Neleo, and your righteousness."

With that, he left. She shook her head, her tail drooped. Righteousness is not the word she would use. But it's not time for that. It's time to get down to business. Her hands moved over the screen. She didn't really have to look, she knew this routine by heart. She began speaking slowly, choosing her words with care, in case of interception.

"Agent Halle Berry, transmitting. If things do not end well, this could also be my last transmission. I'm updating my situation from my last transmission, and would like to put in a request.

The Federation as we know it is still divided between those who are infected and those who are not. As far as I'm aware, none of us aboard this ship are infected. Our goal is to make the knowledge of this infection publicly available for all to see. I suppose it's the first step of war against the infected.

My Captain, and it seems many of the crew, are not sure if we will be able to do this. We're alone. I've been asked to make contact one more time and request assistance from the Asurian people, maybe the only species in the galaxy who has been watching this whole thing as it happens.

If we as a people were to join, we'd run a lot of risks. We could look like the bad guys, and if we lose, we'd go down in history as just that. We could face extinction---though my captain assures me that he would not ask the entire race to risk extinction. Whatever help sent could probably be kept secret.

The benefits are that, if we win, the Federation owes us. They'd owe us a lot. The Federation believes in an eye for an eye. We'd be repaid, and it sounds like we'd be repaid well. With the benefit of surprise, and the fact that we all show up as Sheromi ships on scanners instead of Asurian, it'd probably take a while for the parasitic Federation to identify us.

That puts the Sheromi at risk though. I'm no diplomat, but as far as I know, the Sheromi still don't want to be out in the open. Attempting to help the Federation could mean breaking our ties with the Sheromi. If we win this war, we'd win it all, but if we lose...

I don't want to think about that. I might be facing my own death, or worse, infection. My request is that we as the Asurian people consider aiding the true Federation, and to please reply as soon as there is an answer...My second request, if I may have one, is to tell my father and my mother and brothers and sister that I love them and whatever happens after I die, I'll miss them. It's selfish of me, but I hope that we make the decision to help rather than to hide, if only to see everyone again."

She couldn't think of a good way to end the message. She recorded a few seconds of silence, and then hit send. A few seconds later, she was given an encrypted answer from someone the Sheromi called 'The Voice'. She understood it to mean that her message was accepted, and due to the alarming circumstances, would be passed along at highest priority. The voice of the Sheromi ended, the console dimmed, and she was left alone with Thea's positronic brain and her own thoughts.

[A few hours later]

Dyan had to use her tail to counter balance herself as she ran towards the Captain's quarters. She hadn't expected such a fast response, she could only imagine the sheer uproar the Asurians must've been in to come to a conclusion and deliver an answer so quickly. Even her Sheromi contact sounded flustered.

She reached the door and began to chime the Captain. Repeatedly. She hopes he's actually in here.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #8
[ 2300 hrs | Captain's Quarters | Deck 10 | USS Theurgy ]

At the late hour, Jien was still working, only having relocated to her quarters. Also, she had decided to combine her work with some means of relaxation, which - of course - was cheating. In her female form, she had decided to undertake a session of stretching exercises, the influence of her regime coming from classic yoga and tai chi. Yet even as she preformed the various exercises, testing the limits of her physical form, she was listening to reports that she had yet to read. Thea read them for her, her voice a backdrop that kept her mind alert, even if yoga was supposed to clear the head of the one who practised it. She did both, listening and pushing herself, to keep focus and to not let her mind wander further than what the reports stated. She'd sign the PADDs that needed neither comment nor action with voice command, and when she was finished, she would know how to act on the information gained.

The Black Opal mission had been both a success and a failure, mixed with a foul aftertaste of treason. There was a lot to do about integrating the base's personnel aboard, and it had taken a lot of convincing to make them understand that things were not all that it seemed when it came to the Theurgy and its crew. She preferred to preform the kind of exercises she did without simulating clothing on her body, letting her human skin breathe. Therefore, hearing the door chime at the late hour - repeatedly so - was a slight inconvenience. She reasoned, however, that if someone chose to press the Captain's chime so often, it was a matter of highest priority.

Having been standing on her hands and with one leg stretched towards the ceiling, she was back on her feet before too long, only her arms aching and face being flushed from the exercise. "Pause," she told Thea, and the recitation of the report fell silent. She stepped towards the door, halted and glanced down herself, realising that she'd have to change into something more appropriate than just her female form's skin. So, at the turn of a thought, she wore black yoga pants and a black tank top, and then cleared her throat.

"Enter," she said, clenching her jaw, and she folded her arms underneath her chest, not knowing whom had come to visit her yet.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #9
The door took forever to open, according to Dyan. For a split second she thought maybe Jien hadn't actually retired just yet and she would have to find him elsewhere. However the door did slide open eventually and without checking to see who was actually inside, Dyan blurted out,
"Sir, I just got word from back home!" She felt like she was full of terrible anxiety just waiting to explode out of her, as indicated by her wildly whipping tail, but common sense stopped her short of rambling on the whole story right here in front of an obviously busy Jien. A lady Jien, at that. Oops.

"Er, I meant ma'am, of course...Do you have a moment?" She peeked into the room, hoping she didn't interrupt anything too important, and also out of idle curiosity. So this is how the Captain lives.
"I don't think it should take long. The message I got was short. Do you uh, mind if we sit down?" She didn't think the Captain would be prone to going weak in the knees at dramatic moments like this, or else he---she, of course--- or else she wouldn't be in her position. Regardless, the gesture is meant to be a polite or maybe comforting one. People tend to take dramatic news best when sitting, and the added privacy of discussing this in private quarters instead of in the hallway would put at least a little bit of her anxiety at ease.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #10
It was obvious that whatever news the Asurian had got from her people wasn't of mild disinterest or casual commitment. The white-haired and horned Petty Officer might have missed which chosen form Jien wore, but that was of little consequence, and the apologies offered were dismissed with a small gesture. The woman had piqued her interest now, since what could have been a futile resort made in desperation for success at Starbase 84 had sprung something of consequence.

"Please, over there," said Jien and motioned towards the sitting area with two couches and an armchair. Before she joined Sar'unga Neleo, Jien picked up a small towel and wiped her brow. She glanced towards the stack of PADDs and memorised which one she had been listening to before she got company, and then she walked over to Sar'unga, seating herself in the same couch and turning towards the Asurian - arm draped along the back of the couch. She did not seat herself too close to the alien, not wishing to invade upon her personal space. As she sat down, she decided to switch form so that the weariness of her limbs and soreness from the exercise was nullified.... his new form aching less and not taking focus. He was still wearing exercise clothes when the switch was made, with loose black trousers and a black tanktop.

"So, I take it your answer was of great consequence?" he asked, not knowing what to expect...

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #11
Dyan stepped inside and suddenly felt very aware of how inappropriate she had acted earlier. She felt her face warm and knew she was likely going whiter than normal. It didn't matter, she thought. What she had to say was important, decorum be damned. Still, she took her spot on a couch, leaning to one side so her tail had ample room to flip about.

With the Captain seated on the same couch, facing her, just relaxing, Dyan noticed something. This felt very...intimate, maybe? A side of the Captain she hadn't seen before. She didn't know whether to feel uncomfortable or lucky. She took note that Jien had switched forms and made the conscious switch from 'she' to 'he' in her mind.

"Yes Captain. The Asurians have agreed to help us!" She could feel, physically, the excitement rushing out of her. "The only stipulations I've been made aware of are that they'll only send a set number of ships that are to be used sparingly, since we only have two motherships and a handful of saucers for each ship. They'll be willing to speak directly to you to work out the details. And, well, of course, they expect that on winning that we'll get everything we ask for, but that's then, not now. The point is that they agreed!" She had to hold herself back from asking out loud, 'am I dreaming?'.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #12
As the Asurian spoke of her people's willingness to enter the fray, for the sake of the truth to be known, Jien's eyebrows raised. For surely, he was not hearing the words said? Was it a trick of his imagination, that she had just said they had just gained allies? That the Asurian people were willing to fight despite the odds, and regardless the potential cost to their repute? Would they do as asked, and aid them at Starbase 84? If the Petty Officer was to be believed, they had just committed their word to it, albeit with some reservations. Had he acted in their stead, he was certain he'd ask for more. Truly, the Asurians were braver than Sar-unga Neleo had made him believe when she described them, but perhaps she had just tried to lower his expectations.

"Remarkable," he breathed, oaken eyes grown distant as he redrew the tactical scenario of the pending battle - seeing numerous ways in which the Asurians could change the tide of battle. Perhaps he was getting ahead of himself, since he had yet to speak with the representatives of Sar-unga's people. The demands made were still unmentioned, but given what was at stake, Jien hoped that the Asurians would gain what they asked for. It was not his decision, but he could speak for them. When he was done lauding their bravery, they would be extolled throughout the Galaxy. He just prayed that he would see such a day come, and that the sacrifice of the Asurian people wouldn't be too great.

"Know this," he said in his deep voice, and he took her hand into his own. With his thumbs pressed to the back of her hand, he swore it to her. "I have not asked for this aid lightly, and I would never squander the lives of your brave people in the battle to come. I promise, on my heart, that I will not commit whatever forces they can provide unless absolutely required. Chance be with us, we might not need their aid at all, and they can remain hidden. Safe. Yet regardless the outcome, know that I will never forget how they have chosen to come forth this day, and I will make sure that everyone in the Federation will learn the true mettle of the Asurian people."

Having said this, and his grip on her hand being firm, he looked down to her pale fingers and realised he had lingered too long for propriety. He let go of her hand, cleared his throat and frowned. His thoughts turned to the pragmatics. "They did not say what set number of ships they could grant, or speak of what kind of armament they held? Will they commit one of the motherships, or will they be sending these saucers you mentioned?"

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #13
For the longest time, it felt like she was sharing a dream with the Captain. He looked stunned, she felt stunned, it couldn't be possible that things were actually going their way, and yet, here they were. The Asurians agreed, damnit! Her people would get a home, better defenses, protection, a place in the universe! All because of her. Her hands shook a little at the sheer magnitude of what's going on, her tail practically wagged.

He took her hand, it still shook but less so now. They were sharing a moment, she felt, she watched his dark eyes close and her smile broke out over her face. If he held her hand for too long, she didn't notice. She was too busy thinking of Earth--something like Earth, actually. All the people replaced with Asurians, all the buildings filled with happy Asurian families blossoming and being fruitful, and all the beautiful cultures replaced with Asurian versions of them. Sadly, she wasn't really creative enough to elaborate on what those cultures actually looked like, she just took the humans out of the equation and added Asurians.

She blinked, the motion jerked her out of her dream and back into reality. She was being asked questions. She had better answer. She cleared her throat.
"No motherships, that's like asking humans to send the planet Earth to war. We live on the Motherships, and we only have two. Losing one could halve our population. The amount of Saucers would depend on how many you need, but one Sphere has 47 and the other has 49, to give you an idea of how much we have. They aren't heavily armed, they have beam arrays and tractor beams." On listening to herself, she began to realize that maybe they weren't as powerful as she had hoped. But they had grit, that's what mattered! "They're a lot easier to fly than Federation ships. They're more maneuverable. At least, that's what I understand. I'm not a pilot and haven't ever flown a Saucer. Oh, they cloak as well. Romulans are probably the only race with cloaking to rival ours."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #14
Almost a hundred vessels - Saucers - with energy weaponry and cloaking devices. Light and manoeuvrable. The Theurgy would only be launching ten Valkyrie fighters, the remaining strength of the Lone Wolves, and they were up against Starbase 84's entire Air Group, with almost 250 interceptors, and this not counting whatever fighters were on the docked starships at the base, or the collective firepower of said ships. The starbase itself had 220 starbase-grade phaser arrays and twenty-two torpedo launching platforms, with two torpedo tubes on all of them. The entire base stocked over three thousand torpedoes in peace-time, and almost half of that stock could be quantum torpedoes.

Jien had leaned forward in his seat and raked his calloused hand through his hair, thinking about how it might be unavoidable to deploy the Asurian Saucers, and that he needed all of them. Yet if he asked for the entire fleet, and the Asurians granted them, he might end up rendering them defenceless. The two motherships would have no more than their own tactical systems to protect the Asurian people, with all the Saucers potentially lost in the upcoming battle at Starbase 84.

"Truth be told, even if your people committed the entire fleet... we might still not make it." He said this with a concerned frown, looking back to the Petty Officer without disguising his regret. "As direly as I need the whole Asurian Saucer fleet, I could not let your people face the repercussions of our defeat without any defences. It is, again, the gamble for your people's future, where you have a lot to gain... but also a lot to loose. Almost one hundred versatile combat crafts will make a lot of difference, but it is by no means any number that could guarantee success. I fear for your people, Sar-unga Neleo, in how they might commit themselves beyond their means if I ask for their entire fleet. They might grant that wish for reasons beyond your knowledge, having been away from them for your entire career in Security. Tell me this, since you seem as surprised as I am; Do you think your leaders are desperate?"

The question suggested it all. Perhaps the two motherships of their were running a shortage of energy to sustain the population? Perhaps the environmental systems were failing, clogging up and poisoning the inhabitants? Was there a shortage of medicine? Were they over-populated? There were any number of reasons why the Theurgy's call had been answered so swiftly, and all the potential circumstances were foreboding. Yet regardless of the situation on the motherships...

...was it wiser to gamble it all, or even more disastrous?

Having asked the Asurian this, Jien rose to his feet and walked over to the replicator, not even sure what he would order - lost in thought.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #15
It seemed to the Asurian that Jien was busy crunching numbers, weighing his options. She couldn't read his thoughts, but she could read his gestures. His hand went through his hair, his brow furrowed. The entire reaction seemed out of place to her. Even just thirty saucers would be thirty vessels they did not have before, thirty more bodies to die kicking and screaming against a horrible evil.

Well, maybe the whole dying bit was the part he was worrying about. Honorable deaths they would die, but they were still going to be deaths. Not everyone felt the same way she did about the cycle of life. After all, Jien said it-- she has been away from home her entire security career. That's a very long time to be bathing in a culture not her own--- and also a long time without current, up to date information about the Asurian people.

"...To tell you the truth, I don't know. We have allies to keep us going as far as food and supplies goes, but they're a pretty disgusting race. I wouldn't be surprised if we were getting ready to break off our alliance with them for some reason. We've been looking for reasons to jump ship ever since we 're-united'." And now, worry finally broke through her excited mood. There is so much that could be going wrong to force the Asurians' hand. How irresponsible of her to just overlook that!

Jien rose and she watched him walk to the replicator. It kept her eyes busy while her mind raced with all the possible worst-case scenarios. She had always thought of her people as near-invincible. They were not desperate, nor weak. They overcame all. She hated the idea that they could be suffering, hated how she was so helpless, she could do nothing...

"None of that matters." She spoke again, her voice more certain. "My people have made their choice knowing that they could lose a lot. That means they decided this was the best thing for them and we should be grateful for that at least. We don't need to know their reasons, just what they're doing right now." She crossed her arms. She was aware this entire thought process was irrational, maybe even silly, but she didn't care one bit.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #16
The Asurian bespoke a fact that Jien had trouble digesting, and he realised that it was unjust of him to think that her people were unable to make informed decisions about what lay in their best interest. He was being protective of them, as if they didn't know what they were getting themselves into by lending aid to the Theurgy. He should know they were not sending their pilots and their saucers on a whim, but in careful consideration for the protection of heir own people. Thirty saucers, added with the element of surprise. It could make a lot of difference, and Jien would simply have to accept the aid he was granted by the Asurians - mixed as his feelings were about making the request in the first place.

He decided that he had to focus on the mission being accomplished, and accept the aid given regardless of the larger scope of events.

"You are quite right," he said, shedding the concerns he had about the Asurians' potential fate, "it is not like they have taken risks before, and judging by your service record, and if they are anything like you in terms of determination, the saucers they send will make quite a difference."

Having said this, he asked for Aldebaran whiskey, and the replicator provided him with the green drink. He took it and looked towards the Petty Officer in the sitting area. "Do you want anything?" Should she request something, he brought it with him as he returned to her, sitting down and turning against her. He sipped his drink in thought. "Means of contact... You said I should speak with them. Was there a specific time set, or can it wait until the morrow? I feel that I wish to have my senior staff present when we make contact, but if they would prefer to speak with me alone, I understand their need for restricting contact and remaining as clandestine as they've been up until this point. I do have to include Commander Trent in the... the circle of trust, if you will, because he needs to be aware of potential assets in the battle to come."

Sipping his drink again, he raised his eyes to her green orbs - seemingly glowing in the dim light. Pale of skin and white of blood, she seemed an apparition visiting his quarters, even if he knew that she was quite mortal. Well, mortal beyond the capacity of her Velsren sac, that was. Seeing her up close, it struck Jien how they shared a quality - an agelessness to their features that bespoke the fact that they were not quite like other species. She had her Velsren sac compensating for the passing of years, while he had his morphogenic matrix. It dawned upon Jien that while she might be a Petty Officer aboard the ship, her age was beyond the common range for a Starfleet officer in the NCO ranks.

"How old are you, if you don't mind me asking?" he queried in the end, gazing upon her permanently fixed facial features in admiration of how her genome construct had made her.


Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #17
Yes, the Asurians could handle themselves. Dyan was certain of it. She'd stake her life on it, even. To hear the Captain reaffirm her beliefs was heartening. She felt her posture relax slightly, her tail allowing itself to rest on her seat.

"I'll have a pinot noir." She replied. No, it certainly wasn't the fanciest drink the Federation replicators offered, but she's come to love the human wine, more so than her own peoples' drinks. At least she was certain the pinot noir would have the same alcohol content every time.

The Captain returned to his seat, she held her glass in her hands and watched him as he thought. He asked about means of contact and she had to think a little before she replied. She took a sip of her drink.
"I think it could wait until tomorrow. If they've made the decision to reveal themselves in battle then it shouldn't be a problem to reveal themselves to your senior staff." She swirled her drink in it's glass. She was thinking about her people, how this battle could play out, how totally awesome it would be to make their entrance on the galactic scene in such a bombastic way. She didn't even notice Jien gazing at her skin as if she were a well-crafted sculpture. She sat up a little when she was asked her age, her face betraying surprise.
"How old am I?" She smiled and half-laughed. One of her fingers began to twirl her hair about.
"One hundred and fifty. I'll be turning One-fifty-one here in the next few months, if I remember right. Why, trying to see how many candles you'll have to fit on my birthday cake?" She laughs some more, a little freer this time.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #18
Hearing that the first direct link of communication with the Asurians could wait until the morrow, and that his Senior Staff could attend as well, Ives was relieved, because he had hoped to prepare adequately for it.

Cardamone's reaction to his cursory question about her age was quite endearing, and it made him smile faintly as well. "The age and the etch of time upon solids tend to fascinate me," he admitted, her knowing about his nature by then and he not having to explain that he was a Chameloid. "In your case particularly so. For while I am older than what I might appear, I have nothing on you in that regard. You are three times my age, and my two Chosen Forms appear slightly older than you. Then again, I could change my forms to appear equivalent to my human age, whereas you can't, which makes you all the more remarkable."

He sipped his whiskey, eyes roaming her features, as if he could see the hint of her species' age progression. Unique as it might be for the Asurians, surely there would be some kind of indicator? "Without the aid of a morphogenic matrix, your people are still able to halt time - or at least that is what a human might say when seeing you. I may not be human, but I share their culture and upbringing. Despite all that sets me apart, I look upon the universe through the eyes of a human, only being someone with 'alien' abilities. I realise, however, that while my nature makes me who I am, so does yours. You have no matrix to form your physical self, but you have a Valsren sac that preserve you - heals you where such should be impossible. My matrix could never have done what you did for Junior Lieutenant Sarresh Morali."

Having said this, Jien sipped his Aldebaran whiskey again, nodding towards her where she sat, just next to him. "You are, in short, quite remarkable, Petty Officer. Not just for your people's support, but in your own right. This crew and I are all lucky to have you aboard."

Mister Morali, however, had not seen it as the kind of miracle everyone else did, for understandable reasons. Jien understood his regrets. Cardamone, though - his saviour - was far easier company than the man himself.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #19
Dyan did her very best to hide it. She'd use makeup and modern medicine to do so, but even her Velsren sac couldn't halt a few smile lines here and there on her face, most of which hidden by her smile right now. Ives flattered her. Despite her very old age, she felt very young again, young and pretty. Not that she felt old and ugly to begin with.

"You're buttering me up for something, aren't you?" She sat back and sipped more from her wine. It's true, she did save Sarresh Morali. It's something she's quite proud of, really. Still, healing the man was nothing compared to the job Ives had. "Do you forget what your job is like? You're the one making history. I saved one guy's life, I don't think that measures up to the number of lives you've saved by virtue of your position. If I were a wimp, I'd say I wouldn't want to be in your shoes." She was very serious, but her tone and her smile didn't suggest that. It was much easier to admit admiration through lighthearted banter.

"So pretty much everything that you say, that I'm remarkable and the crew is lucky to have me aboard, all that applies to you too. So you wouldn't be saying all this unless you wanted something from me. So what is it? I could teach you how to keep your hair as smooth as mine, if that's what you're after."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #20
Perhaps it lay in her Asurian nature, as a survivor against al odds in a hostile galaxy, to be suspicious about people's hidden intents. Jien, however, took her inquiry about his intentions in stride, since he had naught to hide. His words had been said in all honesty, a genuine compliment made without expectations. When she leaned back in the couch, his oaken, weary eyes travelled the outline of her form, finding it just as pleasing to behold as her ageless features.

"I am not sure I if I have saved any lives yet on this mission. Quite the opposite," he said, looking away in thought. "While I may have bartered peace between warring factions before we fled earth, my orders to defend this ship and the truth we carry has left many orphans in the Federation... or parents without children. History is made by those who write it, and currently, my name is not associated with any heroism. For all of the Federation and beyond, I am a traitor that defected to the Romulan Star Empire, meaning to give this ship and all its technology to them. Compared to me, you are what our yore religions used to call a 'saint'. Indeed, you would not like to be in my shoes... but for many more reasons than you just described."

Jien looked back at the Asurian with a faint, weary smile before he leaned back as well - glancing towards the ceiling. "Thank you for the offer with the hair," he said at last, a dampened chuckle escaping him before he sipped his whiskey, "but I have no ulterior motives hidden behind my compliment. As imitated as my heart may be, pulse mimicked that of my human template species... that's where my words came from. I should be the one asking you if there is ought I can do to help ease your acclimatisation to this new ship and crew of mine?"

He looked her way again, the streaming starlight from the thick transparent aluminium window whisking across his male form.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #21
Dyan knew about a few old Earthen religions. She knew of the term 'Saint' specifically. She hadn't been in a church group or studied theology by any means, but she didn't have to be a religious scholar to know that she disagreed with the word usage here. She tried to let go of the gaffe, but it was like a big red alarm in her head. That's not right.

"You're welcome, about the hair I mean. Offer stands any time. Honestly, I think I'm getting along just fine. I appreciate the offer of help, really, I just don't think I don't belong." She smiled. The starlight hit Ives just right, and for once, she really got to drink in his 'mystique', as it could be called. He really was handsome now, and she'd be just as pretty later. Perhaps the best feature, the one he kept across both forms, was his strong stoicism, and the greatly burdened, gentle personality behind it. A salty Captain Ives outside with a warm, gushy caramel Jien inside.

He'd make a fantastic conquest. A challenge to break.
she thought. Wait, what am I thinking? That's messed up, that's really fucking messed up. What do I even mean by 'break'?!

Her smile had faded, she spent most of this quiet time with her eyes watching the faint glow of starlight across his face, reflected off his whiskey. Outwardly, she seemed reflective, or maybe she was just oogling. After she brushed off the intrusive thought, she realized she had left a silence between them, and she still had at least one thing she wanted to say. She leaned forward again.
"I wanted to say though, about the 'saint' thing. As I understand it, a saint is someone who sticks by Truth, whatever that Truth is, and they stick by it in the face of betrayal and murder and death and weird torture." She sat backwards again, and drank some more of her wine. Maybe if she drank enough her brain would stop talking evil to her.
"I don't feel very saintly when I think about it like that."

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #22
Hearing the Petty Officer's remark about the word *saint*, Jien could only smile faintly and nod in response at first - unaware how the Asurian had begun to look upon his form the way he had looked upon hers.

"Point taken. In its definition, I take it you think the word applies better to someone else entirely?" he said ruefully and got up on his feet, not too keen on admitting that the description defined his mission statement for the Theurgy. As he stood, having meant to return the empty glass and ask for another whiskey, his eyes fell on the pile of PADDs on the table, and he sighed. "Unfortunately, given the upcoming mission, I have to return to the reports. I hope you don't think less of me if I say good bye for the evening, and speak with you on the morrow about contacting your people?"

Standing there, he looked on the Asurian on the couch, feeling fortunate that the unforeseen First Contact scenario with the Asurians had led to a tactical advantage. He would have liked to converse with Cadamone long into the night, had he been able, alas, that would have to be another day, when - and if - they survived the visit to Starbase 84.

Re: DAY 04: Hidden Forces [2000 hrs.]
Reply #23
Dyan was very pleased. No, Ives had not admitted outright that it was him she was talking about, but he seemed to get the point. She remained seated while her Captain rose, but she was not to remain seated much longer. It was her time to leave, she realized she had kept him far too long. She stood, speaking as she rose.

"I wouldn't think less of you. I've kept you long enough. Be sure to get some rest when you're done with all those." She gestured to the PADDs with her wine glass, almost empty but not quite. "Guess we were too busy chatting, not that I mind." She was all smiles. She was saying goodbye, but really, it felt like a great big hello. To what, she didn't know. A new future? A new close friend? A bottle of wine in her quarters?

She decided on the last option. That would be a fantastic way to celebrate. She turned to head towards the door, a new sway in her step and a wiggle in her tail. The door opened and the light in the hall illuminated her figure in the doorway. She stopped there before she left the room and turned over her shoulder.

"We should do this again sometime. You're good people, Jien."
She hoped using his first name was not too out of line. She thought about that as she left.