Posted on Wed Aug 11th, 2021 @ 3:05pm by Captain Nycolas Temple & Mauricio Arnaldo & Commander Owen Nash & Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Ensign Aenardha Sh'vastarth & Federation Diplomat Briya Valriya & Admiral Gordon Francis & Qaraq (Deceased) & Terrekal & Katya
Location: Paradise Outpost
The time had come for the Pandora to leave the safe harbour of Paradise Outpost and make the final leg home to Federation territory. Representatives from the Starfleet vessel and their Inconnu Expanse friends gathered in the atrium level of Paradise for a small farewell ceremony. Though tinged with fondness and warmth at their parting, the mood of the day was decidedly tense. The Breen and Alrakis Pact were ramping up their attempts to breach into Paradise's territory and would be relentless in pursuing the Pandora as soon as she was vulnerable. The Outpost's Chief Katya, and her ally Qaraq, had recently narrowly escaped a Breen trap.
"The Breen knew what they were doing." Katya said to the gathered audience. "They left the scout there hoping we would come after it."
Captain Temple listened to Katya's news with a disquieted frown. He nodded, "Then we must not stay any longer. The Pandora has outstayed our welcome."
Aenardha had plenty of public vision to make her way to the gathering spot. She wore a loose fitting solid black dress with a top hugging her torso tight. Her arms though resided in sleeves far larger than they needed to be. Her hair and dress flowed behind as she continued forward. Her appearance, though one may typically think her to be one of mourning, matched her tastes. Besides, this could have very well been the last time she ever saw Qaraq and she did not want his last memory of her to be one in Starfleet uniform. They travelled together in casual garb. She wanted this memory of her to be thus. Though the thought did sadden her somewhat, she knew their respective adventures would take them in completely different directions.
Owen had arrived for the occasion dressed in a standard black dinner suit, feeling that turning up in a Starfleet Dress uniform may have made him stand out form the crowd a little more than he wanted too. It felt good to be among Katya and Mauricio and the others where for a small time, the Pandora had been able to stay and feel somewhere safer than normal.
Looking around the room, Owen spotted Aenardha and suddenly felt both impressed and wowed by her choice of attire. Despite her not being on board long, he was starting to feel something he hadn't felt in a while when he was around her...in fact something that he hadn't felt for since Janet... and he left the thought there. Every time he was around Aenardha he felt very strongly about her and was often trying to control that being the XO.
Seeing the Admiral and Mauricio speaking with both Nyx and Qaraq, he headed over to join them.
Admiral Francis smiled as Owen came over. "Well this is quite the reunion," he remarked. "This whole mess has been an unforgettable adventure. Wouldn't you agree, Commander?"
"I would agree Admiral," Owen said. "However, its also good to make new friends in the Expanse, whatever the reason it may be that we have gained them."
Aenardha knew, through telepathic vision, that some eyes were on her. But she was tending to the vision she needed to get her to where the others were gathered. She wanted to greet Qaraq. Seeing the admiral stepped closer to him, instead, Aenardha stayed back and waited for her opportunity. She was in no position to speak before an admiral.
Admiral Francis extended his hand to Qaraq. "Thank you for everything, Qaraq. Whatever happens next, we couldn't have gotten this far without your help. I owe you my life."
Qaraq grinned. "Your friendship is payment enough," he boomed. "Please give my best to your family and new grandbaby."
The old Admiral smiled back. "Will do."
Mauricio smiled, "Commander Nash and I have you to thank as well, Qaraq. You got us out of a very... delicate cover story."
At this, Captain Temple raised an eyebrow. "Oh? How delicate?"
Mauricio blushed, "Umm. You know what they say, Captain, what happens in the Delavi System, stays in the Delavi System."
Qaraq boomed with laughter. "I might steal that line," he bellowed. "I could put it up at the entrance of my bar!"
"We are incredibly grateful to you Qaraq, should you ever need anything, please feel free to give me a call," Owen added, trying to avoid the questioning looks from Nyx. "You have a friend in the Federation, always know that."
Aenardha tried her best to keep her mind on the moment and her feelings at bay. She was still feeling the effects of her previous telepathic link with Mauricio leading to her having feelings for him. She constantly had to remind herself that it was all in her head and a result of such a powerful link. Further meditation should remedy her thoughts. It seemed Mauricio was not affected by the link, however. At least he did not find himself hating her.
Mauricio could not help but notice the tall Aenar nearby. They hadn't spoken much since their time traveling from Carnwennan Corridor; in truth, his head still hurt when he thought about what happened. He was about to approach her when he noticed Qaraq looking over too. Something glued him to the spot.
It was then that Qaraq spotted Aenardha, who appeared to be standing alone. "If you'll excuse me, gentlemen," he said and he left the group and headed for his Aenar friend. "I was hoping you'd be here," he said. "It's good to see you again. I hope this isn't the last time we meet."
“It is good to see you too,” she said with a genuine smile, though small as it was. “Your assistance is well appreciated. And, though our journey together was brief, it was certainly memorable. I thank you. Safe travels Mr. Qaraq.”
Qaraq gave her a gentle smile and placed a giant hand on her shoulder. "To you as well," he replied. "I see a great future for you."
“And you.” Aenardha recalled their meeting aboard his ship, and Qaraq’s mispronunciation of her name. She reached out to him with her thoughts. ~~’Tell no one. My name is Ovetsya.’~~
“The next time we meet,” she started, and though she spoke, “we will have to catch up,” she simultaneously thought to him and him alone, ~~’I will explain the name change.’~~
Qaraq tilted his head, not sure if he had heard those words or imagined them. He gave Aenardha a puzzled look. "I hope so..." he managed to say.
“I am confident I will see you again. But, if you find yourself lost, do send me a wave.” ~~’I can communicate over some long distances. Untraceable.’~~
Qaraq gently touched the mark on her temple. "Don't forget, I have friends and family everywhere. The mark of a Broot is a symbol of honor. With it, I will be able to help you no matter where you are."
“I shall try not to overdo it, but I will put your name to good use.” She smiled, a little bigger this time, up at him. “You take care of yourself.”
Qaraq beamed back and gave her a little bow before the two parted.
Lieutenant Mindo showed up wearing a sparkling, silver suit with a sweat-stained white shirt and a loosened red neck tie, with matching sparkling pants. Of everyone there he was the most obnoxiously overdressed. Terrekal stood next to him wearing something similarly ridiculous. Both suits had the same trademark flair that could only come from The Flying Pants.
Admiral Francis noticed the two Fesarians and couldn't help but laugh. "Do I even want to know the story behind your appearance?"
Mindo sighed. "We just got back from the casino."
Francis grinned. "You look like you gambled a little too much."
Terrekal shook his head. "Actually we attended a rock concert."
Francis' eyebrows went up. "You were at the Warp Nine concert too?"
"We had free tickets," Terrekal replied.
"What?!" Francis exclaimed. "I went to see the Qzarn. Paid an arm and a leg! How did you get in for free?"
"We made a deal with a Ferengi," Mindo said with a shrug.
The seasoned Admiral nodded. "Well, I was disappointed about the Qzarn not showing up, but Warp Nine and Raven put on a hell of a show!"
As Qaraq stepped away, Aenardha recalled having seen herself through public vision. It was Mauricio and was on the verge of taking a step before noticing Mr. Qaraq. Alone now, Aenardha stood her ground, waiting.
Noticing her alone, Mauricio dipped his head towards the Ensign. He wasn't sure if he should approach and felt duty bound to stand by Katya's side. He wanted to move but wasn't sure it was the right thing to do.
Aenardha saw that. She wanted to know what Mauricio felt but denied herself from reaching out mentally. The telepathic link they shared just that once was enough to keep him in her thoughts with an unwavering and unfounded feeling toward him. Just being near him was enough to bring it all to the surface again. Not entirely wanting to, Aenardha made the first step in his direction. Since it could take a while before they ever see each other again, she felt a little closure was needed. Lone meditation was not doing the trick and she did not want to openly admit to anyone else that she felt, as though, in love with someone she had just met and spent only a few minutes with. Setting aside an intense telepathic link.
Perhaps simply speaking to him would help alleviate the battle going on within her mind.
She made a second step and the other came more naturally and easily. Aenardha found herself standing before Mauricio. “Mr. Arnaldo,” she said, “without your help, we would not be here. I do thank you and I wish you safe journeys ahead.”
Mauricio smiled shyly, "Thank you, but I was just a vessel. You did the searching."
“Actually, you did the searching,” she said in reply. “I just provided you with the ability to do so and a nudge in the right direction. I do apologize for surfacing any old and troubling memories. You…do not…have any residual or unexplained effects or feelings from the telepathic link, do you?”
"A slight buzzing sometimes." Mauricio shrugged, "Like I'd come off a rollercoaster. And the dreams... I've had some very intense dreams."
“Those will pass in time. Meditation can always help.” Aenardha did not want to indicate that she also had side effects; the kind where she thought about him almost nonstop. “The dragon you recall seeing,” she could tell she had his attention, “that was my imagination from a time when I was a child and an Andorian starship hovered over my village. It sounded like a dragon coming to destroy everything. I have carried that image with me ever since.”
"Ah I see." Mauricio nodded, "I would be happy never to see that again. Still, we got to where we needed to be, right?"
Over by the main group, Katya cleared her throat. "Our intelligence still shows the pathway through the Nebula is clear. We have a plan to distract the Breen while you make your escape."
"We thank you for your assistance, once again." Nyx nodded, "In fact, we have something to give you as a token of our appreciation. Consul Valriya?"
Nyx watched as the Consul handed over a data chip and PADD to the Resistance leader, a broad smile on his lips. Katya took the PADD and started to read the document, a frown appearing in her tattooed face.
"What... is this?" She asked, tilting her head at the Federation counterparts.
"It's a rough outline for a coalition agreement," Nyx explained. "It is for yourself and the other members of the resistance can sign to pledge loyalty and cooperation with each other. To make a formal alliance."
Katya quickly scrolled through the PADD, taking in the terms quickly. "Well this is very detailed." She held out the PADD to hand it to Qaraq, "Take a look!"
Qaraq examined the PADD and nodded as he read it. "This is quite impressive, Captain. Of course, there would need to be some negotiations..."
"Of course, the agreement gives you the flexibility to have partnerships that are military, trade, intelligence, or a combination of either." Nyx explained. "You can take this as a foundation to build a resistance however you choose."
"Thank you." Katya nodded, "I had no previous experience with building a coalition, so I appreciate you giving us the framework, Pandora."
"And there is room for an agreement with the Federation as well." Nyx pointedly added with a smile. "In case, we should ever need it."
Katya smiled, "I live in hope that one day we will be able to, Captain. First, we must free our regions from the Pact itself."
Qaraq stepped forward and addressed Nyx. "Captain Temple, your new Andorian” ~~~’Aenar’~~~ “Intelligence officer carries with her a mark on her temple, a small token of my appreciation. It is the mark of my family, and only those close to me carry it. Any Broot will recognize it, and we have friends who will too. They are honor bound to it. Some may even be powerful allies. It may help you in the future, whether you are in the Expanse or elsewhere."
Temple raised an eyebrow as he looked to Ensign Sh'vastarth, impressed by how quickly she had made strong ties within the Expanse. He looked to Qaraq with a smile, "That sounds like a high honour, thank you for passing it on."
Qaraq leaned closer to Temple, his normally bright blue face turning a low pink. "Let me be clear," he said, in a tone that was icy and sharp. "That 'high honor' is hers. Not yours, and not your ship's. Do not presume to take any authority in such a situation until it is given."
Temple shrugged, perplexed, as he answered, "No, I never would."
Katya interrupted with a clap of her hands. "Well now. We can continue our festivities for a short while longer. However, the remainder of the Resistance Fleet will be here in a matter of hours and we must make our plans."
Temple agreed, "We have final preparations as well. I'm sure speak on behalf of everyone on the Pandora when I say we feel we are leaving Paradise with strong friends and allies this time. Our final journey will not feel so lonely."
The rest of the group raised a glass to the sentiment.