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Old September 16 2012, 09:25 PM   #57
Rear Admiral
Re: UT: Refugee Crisis/Dark Territory-"Stealing Fire"

I'm glad you're liking the longer look at the Erickson crew. I think that I sometimes rush a bit too much, introducing tons of characters, ships, etc. So this time I reined in my tendencies to do that. And the approach has allowed for the Erickson characters to grow on me. So we'll see how it goes.

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Shuttlecraft Oyekan

Ensign Kittles’s eyelids fluttered and she awoke with a strangled curse. She pounded her console, mad at herself for falling asleep. She did her best to rub the grains from her eyes, a part of her secretly relieved that her body had found a way around the nightmares that had kept her awake.

For the longest time, every time she had closed her eyes, Roland’s face had emerged from the depths of her thoughts, his lifeless gaze damning her for eternity. With her tongue, she dabbed her dry inner walls of her mouth. It was drier than a desert, and made worse by the feverish perspiration coating her skin. Karen couldn’t remember the last time she had eaten or drank. She just hadn’t been up to it.

“I can eat after the job is done,” she muttered, blinking rapidly to get her eyesight into focus. Kittles stifled a yawn as she looked over the data from her scanners. She held back another desire to attack her terminal.

“Nothing,” she groused, “It’s like they’ve completely vanished.” So far her hunt for her missing colleagues and Roland’s murderers had yielded nothing. “What am I going to do?” She asked aloud, afraid that someone would finally answer her. And they would tell her the likely truth, that the ship had already been lost to the lethal vagaries of the expanse.

It was the last thing she wanted to her, so she just couldn’t accept it. The ensign would strive on. If she couldn’t find them soon she would have no choice but to contact Erickson and admit what she had done, of how her ambition had allowed her friends and fellow crewmen to be assaulted by marauders.

“It’s not just your fault,” another voice, one more defensive, issued from her lips. “One more shuttle, with minimal firepower, would’ve done little against a warship or pirate ship.”

She shook her head, letting that argument go even as part of her wanted to desperately cling to it, to use it to beat back the baying guilt, nipping at her mind, gnawing her soul.

“No,” she closed her eyes, Roland still there, still damning, “I should’ve been there. It’s my fault. I-I should’ve died with Roland, or sacrificed myself for him and the others. That was my duty and I…I shirked it.”

She hung her head, allowing her guilt to have at her, to clobber her. She wanted it to beat her into oblivion. Karen dropped her hands from the piloting controls, giving Oyekan to fate. She just wanted this hell of her own making to be over. Maybe she would fly into the same anomaly that had probably gobbled up the kidnappers’ ship.

And maybe, just maybe, she can be with Roland on the other side…if he could ever forgive her. She knew he was a better person than she was, and she smiled at the thought of being forgiven, of the accusatory Roland in her mind’s eye finally opening his arms to embrace her…

The beep drew her back. One eye cracked open, zeroing in on the insistent beeping from the multiphasic scan she had activated to aid in her pursuit. Karen knew that a multiphasic scan would help cleave through the intense interference resulting from the expanse’s radiation.

It had been seeking any unusual energy readings, and had just found a mother lode. The scan was spiking off the charts. “What is that?” She asked, before imparting the question to the ship’s computer.

“Oh my God,” she murmured, after the computer dryly recited its entry on polaric ion energy. Is this what those monsters were looking for? She wondered, chasing that with another, even more terrifying thought. “Could they be testing it right now?”

“Data insufficient to answer your inquiry,” the computer dutifully responded. Annoyed, Karen jabbed the vocal interface off. She needed to be alone with her thoughts right now, and her ghosts.

It didn’t take long for either to drive her to redirect the shuttle’s course toward the disturbance.
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Jov’k Tholis
Calcite-class battlecruiser

The trigger had been pulled. Narskene skittered backwards, assailed by the shock that ran from the High Magistrates directly into hir brain. S/He used both arms to push away one of the more eager subordinates rushing in to help. In hir weakened condition s/he was fearful that the zealous underling might peer into hir mind, or sense hir revulsion which would be nearly as bad.

Narskene had been careful to mask whatever disagreements she had with her superiors as she scaled the lattice to hopefully sit among the High Magistrates hirself. S/He had become a dutiful soldier that her superiors could rely on, and s/he wasn’t about to derail their faith in her now, especially when s/he could use the information they were chittering madly about to assist her ascension.

When s/he found hir voice again, she barked, “Altered destination. Full warp!”
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