The Orion's Wake
Sojourners of Time
Location: Chargh'vor-chal (A Klingon station in the Azure Nebula, 13 years ago)
Timeline: Mission Day 8 at 1920
[Klingon Space Station]
[13 Years Ago]
Debbie blinked as she took in the group's new surroundings. Despite being physically unable to touch or feel anything in the past -- meaning they could not be seen, heard, or harmed in any way -- the woman felt quite out of sorts with their current predicament. Their Talbeethian Guide Ti had initiated the temporal trip intended for he and Timmoz only -- immersing the others in holographic recreations of the past her and Timmoz experienced -- but a malfunction of the equipment had guttered and sputtered the amphitheater they'd sat in, a blazing flight flaring up and somehow depositing all of them in the past. They weren't just immersed in memories anymore...they'd been physically phased and projected thirteen years back in time, now visible to Timmoz and Ti, who'd reported no immediate way back.
"So we're stuck here, then," Debbie clucked with disapproval, for now ignoring the younger Timmoz who spoke with others in the timescape background. "No offense, sweety," she turned to look at Timmoz, "but I'd rather not overstay my welcome here. Please tell me," she looked to Ti, "someone back where we came from is going to notice what happened and fetch us back?"
"Yes, of course," Ti answered. Of course someone would notice a total system failure, he reassured himself in silence while fishing out a couple of small tools from within his robes. He shivered when opening the cover panel. It was in a state of utter disrepair he had never before seen. He tucked one of the tools into a fold of robe while tweezing out a wire.
The rangy Orion sat with the rotund woman and, though he smiled, offered a sigh. "It wasn't much of a celebration the first time," he drawled in his Orionness. The display of the Tah'e Bull- Nimruc- and the denizens of a small, rather menacing-looking group of Orions, Markalians and the Farian, had moved on. Little else had changed in the corridor- though Timmoz shielded his eyes from the incessant glare of the repeatedly flashing blood-scarlet lights. He squeezed at his temples and sighed again. When Debbie asked her question, Timmoz planted his elbows on his knees, and he too stared at the Talbeethian for answers.
Mothim turned to stare at Timmoz, his feathers ruffled up, especially around his neck. Scientific curiosity and claustrophobic fear battled for control of him, but the fear won out, leaving the curiosity as no more than a note in the back of his mind. "Get me out of here," the Aurelian muttered with a hint of uncharacteristic anger in his voice, glancing around at the walls around him.
"Steady Lieutenant," Timmoz rumbled to the Aurelian. "There's more air in here than out there," and he gestured at the bulkhead. "Last time I checked, none of us breathe methane." But, Timmoz thought, they could probably find a place more open than a mere corridor. And the flashing red lights were playing havoc with his own comfort levels. "It's been a while... but if we follow, well, me." He gestured again at the now-gone party of Farian, Orions, Markalians. We'll get into their version of a habitat ring."
Margarar looked around and murmured, "Quite the immersive experience." However, when she heard that they were stuck here, she started to tremble and her speech became much quicker. "If only I had studied temporal mechanics better. I never fully understood it! And I thought that it was not possible to go back into the past and effect it, yet here we are." She growled in Timmoz' general direction. "This is your memory! What in the world happens? Do you remember any of this? Were we here? Or are we now changing our future? That is how it works, isn't it?" she asked to anyone in the area.
Timmoz gazed with bemusement at the barking Antican demanding answers. "I can only answer half that." He nodded. "I was on this station thirteen years ago, with my Syndicate Qaju." To appease Mothim, Timmoz gestured for them to follow the much-diminished voices of the past-selves. "Let's walk." Timmoz moved his long stride into motion, "The Thunderchild chased us in here a few days ago. Destroyed our raider. We escaped in a shuttle. But we began detecting an ion disturbance making its way through the nebula. We had injured. So we docked here to wait out the storm." Timmoz stepped over a blast hatch's threshold. "The Thunderchild will dock in a few hours." He grinned with a sardonic side, "That's when things got bad."
"Bad? What do you mean, bad?" the Antican continued to chatter. "And if we were not here, how are we affecting this timeline? You need to remember everything you did and we need to do the same. How can we do that, though, when we were not here?" The Antican's mind was swamped with questions she could not answer.
Andrew remained quiet. It wasn't that he didn't share the same anxieties and concerns about their situation as the others, it was just that the place made him feel really uncomfortable, as though a mere corridor could be hostile, and his instinct was to avoid drawing attention to himself. He tagged along at the back of the group, relieved that they were doing something and that Timmoz was taking the lead. The chatter wasn't helping though - it just confirmed that the dread he was feeling was quite rational and appropriate.
Irynya held back, settling in next to Andrew and sliding her arm through his, the sense of some kind of realness steadying her breath though the panic she felt was still bubbling just below the surface. She squeezed lightly to let him know she was there, offering him a weak smile when he turned to acknowledge her. "Risians gotta stick together," she said with a quiet sort of humorless laugh. It didn't matter that Andrew wasn't Risian. He'd lived on Risa and to her that was Risian enough.
After following behind for a few moments she finally piped up, voice pitching to reach the front of the line. "Is there anything we should know about "Timmoz," she called, aiming to get the Orion's attention. "When you say things got bad..." she trailed off, leaving the statement hanging as a question..."
"There's a man," Timmoz said with a glance backward at both Irynya and Margarar. And at that moment the red flashing light across his green skin was... eerie. He looked angry, demonic, "Among the V'draysh. Their First Officer." Timmoz stopped in a knuckle of the corridors, where it spread out in four directions. "We never found out why he did it. But he decided to make an example of us. He was going to bring us in dead or alive." He glanced back again, "By any means necessary."
Timmoz searched his memory- it was thin and clouded. He'd waved his hand in front of his younger self so he didn't think the past could see them. But that didn't mean they couldn't affect the past. And Timmoz had little understanding of temporal mechanics. He wasn't willing to try. He pressed on again. "By the end of this, two of my brethren and my Dalat are dead."
It wasn't clear just how much they could affect the past, or more importantly, how it could affect them. Andrew didn't doubt that those deceased former associates of Timmoz would be more than capable of taking care of themselves, yet they didn't survive this. He felt a feint phantom pain in his chest at the spot where he'd been hit by the drone's laser in the bio lab. His mind recalled how everyone but him had reacted quickly and dived to safety, and then they'd risked themselves further to drag him to sickbay. It made him feel like a liability. Irynya's arm around his was comforting, but he couldn't help but wonder if he was going to be the cause of her getting hurt.
"Iry?" Andrew said softly, so that only she would hear. "If this all goes sideways, promise me that you won't take any unnecessary risks because of me."
The question, only for her ears, shook her out of her anxiety for a moment and she shot a look at Andrew that was full of fierce disagreement. "No," she said with certainty. "I can't promise you that Andrew." She was quiet a moment while they walked, expression stormy before it softened into something a little closer to understanding. She sighed. "I can promise you that any risks I take will be necessary, but you have to trust that if I say they are then they are, ok? I get to decide what constitutes an unnecessary risk to me. Deal?"
"Of course," Andrew replied sheepishly. "I didn't mean it that way, I'm not trying to determine what you can and can't do." His eyes flicked towards the rest of the group, and then back to Irynya. "I just don't want to get anyone killed because I needed saving." He added a little nervous smile in the hope that she wouldn't be mad at him. "Especially not you."
The Risian's expression softened further and she tugged her friend close, hugging his arm and briefly laying her head on his shoulder in a sort of half-walking-hug. "You're not going to get anyone killed," she said with a certainty in her voice that she hoped he felt. "And if you, or any one of us, needs saving then we'll cross that bridge when we get there. For now, though..." she trailed off, tugging him into another half hug again, "we stay close together ok?"
"Ok," Andrew smiled back. The hug was comforting. Although it changed nothing about their surroundings or predicament, it didn't feel quite as bad as before. Or perhaps it was because his insecurities had distracted him from the others and their discussion of the situation.
Margarar was going to try and stop Timmoz from waving his hand in front of his younger self's face but the action happened before the Antican could reach out and stop it. That caused Margarar to pause while she brought everyone back to her frantic thought process. "OK. His younger self did not see that hand wave. There was no reaction. That would seem to mean that we can't interact or change the past. We're still somehow observers. But we're observers without an immediate connection back. So we're stuck in limbo of a sort. That's not good! I don't want to be a ghost either! Dying of starvation does not sound like fun! We need a clue! I wish I knew something more about this technology!"
"Well," Debbie finally piped up in response to comments about starvation, "I don't know that they'll last us long but I do have these." Her hands dipped into the front pockets of her diner uniform vest, pulling out six sugar-dusted lemon bars wrapped in clear plastic. "Figured we might want snacks while we were watching the ritual, so I brought these with me. Here," she said, beginning to hand out her homemade confectionary creations. Since there was only six bars for seven people -- she'd not counted on feeding their host -- Debbie did not retain a bar for herself, choosing instead to make sure everyone else was cared for first. "Hope you all like lemon...this batch is a little tart," she clucked.
"So," Debbie put her hands on her hips, "if we can't affect the past, nor be hurt by it...I guess all we can do is explore this moment in time while waiting for rescue? I'm sure Björn -- err, the Captain," she used the Chameloid's title for those who didn't know his first name, "will be pushing hard for our return as soon as the issue is realized. Gonna try not to worry too much for now myself. Worrying ain't gonna do a damn bit of good anyway, so why not see where all this takes us, hmm?" The woman's head bobbed like a hen's, her hoopy earrings swaying back and forth in unison.
Margarar sniffed the bar and simply responded, "I'd rather die. This is not food."
"Eat it, Lieutenant," Timmoz pressed the Antican even as he returned the offer to Debbie, "And you, Kaheedi. The greater in station first," he insisted. He sighed as they opened into a higher ceiling-ed ring area interspersed with opened crates and what appeared to be virtually a wall of discarded junk parts. "Mothim," he said, turning to the Aurelian. "Is this better? I'd rather avoid the Menagerie level right now. My Caju are up there," his brows flexed up as he tested a crate by passing his hand either through it- or against it. It went straight through, "Finding the dead Nausicaans."
The Antican looked at it and refused again. "I'm not hungry enough to eat that," she replied with her head backing away from the bar and her face upturning in disgust. She then observed Timmoz's hand passing through an object and wondered aloud, "How is it that we are able to stand here on this surface but his hand passed through an object? That defies logic."
"Keep it with you then," Timmoz said with the charm of an Orion smile, "For when you get there." He shrugged at the question a moment later, "You're the Engineer." Timmoz sighed and flitted his gaze to Irynya and back, "I only fuck one," He focused on some Klingon characters spray painted above that he didn't recall seeing as a child. He smirked, "... I don't understand his techno-babble." He crouched down and did a test- he pushed his hand into the deck plate where he did, after only minute penetration, feel some kind of stiff resistance to going any further. He pulled his hand out and examined his fingertips.
Andrew slipped his lemon bar into his pocket, saving it for when he felt hungry. Despite their apparent invisibility, he wasn't completely convinced that they couldn't be affected by the past. He watched Timmoz test the floor. "Maybe it depends on the material?" It was only when heads turned towards him that he realised he'd said it out loud.
"That's as good a guess as any, baby," Debbie smiled, reaching forward to pat Andrew on the shoulder. "I'm not exactly up on the newest engineering trends -- it's been years since I manned an engine room," she explained to the group, some of whom already knew she'd been a Chief Engineer for many years prior to running her diner. "But if I had to guess, I'd say it's probably an intentional feature of this time-walking tech of the Talbeethians. Can you image visiting your past and just endlessly falling through space? Oof," she shook her head. "Ti might be able to explain further but for now, I'm just happy this particular feature is working. Not like much else is," she lamented. She looked then to the lemon bar that'd been gently pushed back her way and smiled softly at Timmoz, slipping it back into her pocket. "Thank you, baby. But we'll split it when the time comes. Don't argue," some motherly steel-edged into her voice.
Now that he was adjusted to the fact that he was not actually trapped inside a small hallway - it only seemed like it - Mothim had tentatively folded his wings tight over his back, trying his best to not seem as nervous as the whole ordeal as he was. This was exciting. Scientific. Even if it had gone wrong, he should be enthusiastic about seeing this technology. But, well, he wasn't. He couldn't help the fact that he hated the narrow corridor they had wound up in. Why couldn't Timmoz's memory take place in a nice open field instead? "I imagine its an intentional feature," Mothim added.
Timmoz's narrowed eyes and scowl were at Debbie- but playfully done. He shook his head. "You of all these people know Orions don't like things for free," he rumbled, teasing her with a smile. "Fine I'll eat half when it's time." Like the Antican, Timmoz had trouble seeing sweet things as a safe foodstuff. He chin-jutted, "Neck massage is your payment, Kaheedi," he returned as payment. Timmoz sighed, chuckled to himself, and rubbed the back of his neck. He didn't voice the perceived weakness but he could use a neck rub as well. The new ship's pillows and mattresses were too soft for him.
"Alright," Timmoz said, "Talbeethian technology is stopping us from dropping through the deckplates... correct me if I'm wrong," he chuckled again, "Because I probably am... wouldn't that mean that some part of this technology of yours, Guardian Ti, is still working? If we are still connected," he folded his arms over his chest, "And we aren't floating in space, that means whatever is happening back on your planet is still working." He looked about the group- and at Ti.
Once again looking skeptically at the lemon bar, Margarar decided to tuck it away just in case she was tempted to gnaw her own arms off. The lemon bar would likely be preferable, but only slightly so.
"It is not technobabble," Margarar replied defensively. "If you do not understand the science of engineering, that is your loss. Perhaps your lover should teach you more. It is quite fascinating on how to propel a ship through space. One little thing goes wrong. If your engineer causes one thing to fail or cannot fix it, the whole ship is forfeit. Learning some might be of a great benefit. Now coming back to the Talbeethian technology, if we are still able to stay on the floor, that means some of the tech is still working. If we can find any shreds of that technology, perhaps we can repair whatever it is that does the timey-wimey ghosting stuff."
"Excuse me," Debbie grumbled, edging her way forward in the group and coming face-to-face with Margarar. "Turn your nose up at my cooking all you want, I don't care. But you should watch yourself when it comes to how you talk to others." She'd taken on an abrasive, steely edge, looking at Margarar like a hawk might eye potential prey. "'Perhaps your lover should teach you more?' Lieutenant, that is highly inappropriate," she said, folding her arms across her chest and planting her feet. Clearly, she felt protective over the Orion and wasn't having Margarar's behavior at all. "Why don't you keep your commentary focused on what you do know instead of showing all of us just how much you don't, hmm?"
Margarar gave a low growl at Debbie and put her hands on her hips. "You are out of line. First, I have no lover. You will find no Anticans in Starfleet and less that I can regularly meet with. Second, I am 20. I am the equivalent of whatever Terrans consider towards the end of my biological clock ticking. We only live on average 50 years. Third, if you wish to know about what Anticans eat, which is usually raw meat, then ask. It has nothing to do with your cooking. In fact, cooking ruins food. *THAT* is what I know." Getting back to business, Margarar continued, "As to what I know regarding any of this...." The Antican spread her right arm wide gesturing to the area, "it is next to nothing, hence the questions and observations. Perhaps by asking those questions, I, or anyone else here, will be able to logically deduce something. Those inconsistencies are important. They are telling us something. What, at this moment, I do not know."
Debbie blinked at Margarar...and then blinked again several times. "I was referring to your comment about Timmoz' partner teaching him about engineering. Sorry to hear you're alone, though. For the life of me, I can't imagine why," she clucked, a daring look in her eyes.
"Enough!" Timmoz barked with his own edge. "We are on duty." The rangy Orion smiled his Cluros smile and looked on with a degree of pity and bemusement at the Antican. Margarar's brazenness reminded him of several Orions back home... the chest-beating bravado was consummate Cluros. But, then again, as far as Timmoz knew they were all dead now. Fiercely defending her sense of self in the face of alien difference, was what Timmoz recognized in the Antican. Relatable but self-defeating. "I acknowledge my limitations, Lieutenant Margarar," interjected the Orion easily, unfazed. "And I pity anyone whose lover talks shop while they're being intimate."
He gently touched Debbie's shoulder- mildly surprised that he didn't pass through her. "This is my Away Team, Lieutenant," he added ever-smiling, drawing his thumb over his smooth chin, "You will treat every member here with respect. You are under the Xo-I of Starfleet. Do not violate it. The next words out of your mouth will be Yessir. Understood?"
Margarar gave a toothy grin at Timmoz. She decided that he was an interesting person and told Timmoz, "You are fortunate to be able to have one. Never forget that. For me, all is engineering. If you have the desire to learn, your lover or I will be able to teach you. If not, I would ask you to refrain from negative discussion about my life work."
"Your profession will survive the words of one man. I have my reasons," Timmoz grinned in his own almost menacing way, oddly juxtaposed with an Orion's charm. For a moment it seemed two predators were eyeing one another. "That was the wordiest 'Yessir' I have ever heard. But Antican is a new language to me." The Orion chuckled the tension away, "Let's move on. If this technology is still working, then all we can do is wait. Munro and Mothim," he looked to them, "There is an aspect of this station I never got to explore. My Niqqash didn't encourage curiosity." Timmoz said dryly. His brows rose as he spoke over the Antican's head. "When we docked we detected biomatter in the ablative superstructure of the siege disruptor sections. I'd like you to solve that mystery." He looked at Irynya. "You will help them, Kava?" He asked.
Irynya had watched the exchange with growing frustration. She well knew how difficult Margarar was to interact with after living with her on their travels from Pathfinder Station, but repeated interaction with the Antican had served only to sharpen how quickly her hackles rose rather than calming them through exposure over time. The Risian met Timmoz's gaze, her own eyes raising in response to his. "Of course, Qash," she said, choosing the Orion word for brother deliberately. She didn't know enough about Timmoz's memory to say what to expect, but reliving the hunting and murder of those who meant something to him once was something she didn't wish on anyone. She hoped the reminder of their friendship, and the presence of Debbie, would help.
She turned, eying the space around them and finally falling on the right direction. "This way," she said, waiting only a moment to make sure Andrew and Mothim were with her.
So they were splitting up. Was that...wise? Debbie had been tempted to ask but, at the end of the day, she trusted the Orion's judgment. She just found herself wishing she'd been sent with Iry and the others vs. working with the Antican, who'd repeatedly proven herself incapable of going along to get along. She was stuck with the woman, however, and -- for Timmoz' sake -- Debbie decided she'd try harder to make the best out of the situation. "What about us?" she asked the Orion, briefly eyeing Margarar to include her in the question.
Timmoz eyed his roundly lovely and brassy friend with a degree of confidence. "We're stuck Kaheedi. We might as well explore like we were meant to." He smiled at her and put an arm around her shoulders. "Think of it as the smelly, cold, bereft Klingon Acid Punk vacation you never wanted." He chuckled. "We will meet here again in one hour," Timmoz stated to the whole team. "Let's go up. It's better than sitting in this hallway."
Debbie reached up to pat the hand resting on her shoulder. "Vacation, eh? That's one way to look at it," she chuckled before nodding. "Maybe they'll have a gift shop? We can bring back something for the Captain," she clucked, fully aware that even if such a gift shop did exist, they couldn't pick anything up and take it with them. "Exploring sounds good to me," the Deb-Deb then agreed, following in the Orion's wake as he led the way.
Margarar was uncertain why she was not being sent to the Siege Disruptors. An engineer should have been handy there. However, she recognized her current position. She was not in command and was "on duty," which meant she owed a duty of loyalty to Timmoz. She deferred to Timmoz, "Exactly where would you like me to explore, sir? Or do you mean to have me, 'tag along,' I believe the Terran saying goes."
Timmoz grinned and looked about with a twist of his slender torso, "Like I said, it's an impromptu vacation," he shrugged, "Until they pull us out of here. We have chak-vat we can do. It's not like we can affect the timeline. Unless you have a better idea." He began to walk, addressing Debbie's query. He looked over his shoulder at Munro. His voice dropped to a hush. "Having his lover back whole might be a good start. But how would he feel about some vacuum-desiccated Gagh?" He asked while he pushed a hand into a pocket, retrieved a hair tie, and decided to corral his bush of curls into a stubby tail.
In unvoiced truth, Timmoz didn't want to put Margarar and Irynya in a position where powerplays and personality conflicts would endanger the team. Besides, Debbie could be a beast if she needed to be.
"I have no better idea," Margarar replied dejectedly, still desiring to look at the siege disruptors and the ablative superstructure. Sometimes, she reflected, it really stunk to be "on duty."
A Post By:
Acting Chief Engineer
Chief Science Officer
Assistant Chief Helmsman
Matron of Kickass
Ghani (as Ti, the Talbeethian Guide)