NOVEMBER 2003

Author: Kyrsa
Title: "Of Potted Plants & Profit"
ON:

==Town landing pads==

*The aging Type-15 shuttlepod marked "SS Minerva NFT-1953-CV-3" landed with nary a bump, semi-skilled piloting and only slightly outdated landing equipment not withstanding. It had been difficult to get down, something to do with the way all the bird life had taken into it's collective head to be flying away from the Guinevere Township's environs. A huge migration of numerous species all squawking loudly as if something had scared them away.
Heedless of the avian outcry in the jungle, Keel was waiting for the Minerva's shuttlepod to land, his large Ferengi ears twitching with impatience. The dust had not yet settled when he quickly approached the vehicle with a small covered antigrav sled in tow.*

*The side hatch swings open to let Kyrsa out. Not a bad landing, considering she did it herself (no way is she leaving Minerva without Charlie's skills at the helm). Her senses are then assaulted. Mildew, moss, mud and rain overwhelm her Klingon nose. Her skin is set afire by generally uncomforable heat & humidity now increased by a break in the clouds allowing the sun to turn puddles to steamy vapors. Her empathic sense...*

*HURRY! Must get this wretched plant off the planet before it kills us all! Oh, Great River, make the danger worth the profit!*

"Are you just going to stand there, woman?"

*Her ears catch the voice, shaking her from her trance in the shuttlepod's hatchway. The panic -- it was him, this little, big-eared freak standing before her with a tarpaulin thrown over a box resting on an anti-grav sled. What's under the tarp is just a puny potted plant? Then why is he so excited? Luckily Kyrsa isn't Betazoid or else she'd not have gotten this much out of him. For a moment she wishes she were fully Ullian like her mother so that she could just wrench the full story out of that four-lobed brain. If he weren't both so afraid for his life & simultaneously rejoicing at profits to come the Ferengi would be a blank slate to her.*

*At Keel's words Kyrsa steps aside to let her passenger exit. The short man, known only as Courier, departs the shuttlepod with a tricorder in hand. He's still dressed in the same outfit he wore upon arrival aboard the Minerva, helmet included. Unless he's got some sort of environmental controls in his clothing it must be stifling in there in this Deridous heat. Yet, he shows no signs of irritation. He only holds his silvery black tricorder over the tarp. He speaks up with that voice that sounds filtered through a communicator (or an empty tin can).*

Courier (NPC):*reading tricorder* The package appears to have been jostled.

Keel (NPC):*dropping idiot facade for businessman's behavior* Believe me, if you had to deal with the recent local insanity you would have jostled it, too.

Kyrsa: Is anyone going to explain now what's going on?

*Courier races his concealed face to Keel. Keel looks back. Keel is about to speak when...*

Courier: It's not your concern. *faces tricorder again & taps in more commands*

Keel: Yes, this is not a female's business.

Krysa:*quickly turning and lifting Keel off ground by his collar* Not a what's business?

*Keel, sensing his feet dangling an inch above the mud, retains his poker face in spite of his understandable fear of this temperamental semi-Klingon female snapping a bone somewhere within his body.*

Keel: If you wish to be paid, Captain, you may want to put me down and show me proper respect.

Kyrsa:*still holding Keel up by collar* Then do I assume that you're the one who hired me & my crew to transport your friend and whatever's under that sheet?

Keel: I've said no such thing... *feels his feet touch the ground again* ...but assume all you want. *adjusts his clothes after Kyrsa removes her hands* It's not as if I can dictate what goes on in a Klingon's mind.

*ARRRGH!! Getting in close to the big-eared runt didn't get any clearer of a read on his mind.*

Kyrsa: You're damn right... *sniffles drop of blood back up into her nostril before they see it* ...and that's _half_ Klingon. *turns to Courier* Just what am I to be hauling anyway?

Keel: He said it's not your concern.

Courier: Which it is not. *puts tricorder into pocket*

Kyrsa: I don't like surprises.

Keel: How about this surprise: I withhold payment and find another transport to hire.

Kyrsa:*chuckles* As if you could at such short notice. I can tell you're in a hurry.

Courier: If you do continue to ask questions, Captain, my employer may surprise you with more than lack of payment.

Kyrsa: Is that a threat? *almost grabs Courier's upper arm but recoils her hand when the clothing electrically zaps her*

Courier: Call it what you will. My employers value their privacy. Those who violate it tend to lose whatever they value most.

*Courier throws back the tarpaulin to reveal nothing more on the anti-grav sled than a polished grey metal case with a darkened window in one side. Keel, meanwhile, nervously looks up and down the road for any suspicious onlookers.*

Kyrsa: Like my life?

*Courier crouches and taps a button beside the window to peek into the stasis-field case. It's only a second before he taps the button again to darken the glass, satisfied with its contents.*

Courier:*stands upright, faces Kyrsa* Anything you value most. *to Keel* The package is acceptable.

Keel:*visible relief* Thank you. Tell your employer...

Courier: If you wish me to relay a message then it will cost my usual fee.

Keel: Then... *waves off with hand* ...nevermind.

*Courier carefully lifts the gray box off the anti-grav sled and turns to enter the old shuttlepod.*

Courier: Advise Sickbay to clear all personnel and ready a stasis chamber. *enters shuttlepod and takes a seat with box in his lap*

*She stands a the hatchway, mulling over these new events. Whatever it is, it's bad. She doesn't need her sixth sense to tell her that. If she can just find out exactly what sort of potted plant is worth all this clandestine trouble she may just be able to exploit the situation to advance an idea she had earlier.*

Keel: Have a good day, Captain.

*She watches the Ferengi hurriedly turn away with the anti-grav sled. She notices, with the tarp crumpled up at one end, half of what is unmistakingly the corporate logo of Pioneer Mining is emblazoned on the sled's cargo bed. Kyrsa smiles devilishly and then reenters the shuttlepod, which soon launches into the air.*

OFF

Kyrsa, starship captain,

S.S. Minerva, freight & passenger transport

OCTOBER 2003

Author: Kyrsa
Title: "The courier"
ON

==S.S. MINERVA==
==Shuttlebay 1==

*Upon receiving the signal from the anonymous employer Kyrsa diverted the Minerva from the inner asteroid belt to the outer edge of the Deridous System. With her red-headed helmsman beside her and her two largest crewmen behind her -- all 4 of them armed with either a phaser or disruptor -- she exits the turbolift and watches as the shuttlebay splits open with a soft rumble to let in a elongated, black, needle-nosed spacecraft sporting an 'X' formation of 4 stubby wings. At the end of each wing is a bullet-shaped warp nacelle encasing plasma coils that glow red through four slits on each "bullet's" outer face. On no part of the machine can be seen anything resembling a window. It's nearly all polished to a sheen of black pearl. The Minerva's sensors could only detect a few modest weapons ports and a single humanoid occupant of undetermined species. Kyrsa's tricorder is presently doing no better as the craft slips through the containment forcefield.*

Kyrsa:*slips tricorder into pocket and pulls her custom-made disruptor from its holster on her thigh* Remind me why I'm doing this.

Charlie (NPC):*phaser drawn on mysterious shuttle* We need the extra spending cash. This is money we won't have to pay back to the investors. This oughta' cover time stubbornly wasted on that one stupid asteroid instead of moving on elsewhere like we were told...

Kyrsa: I get the point, Charlie.

*The mysterious shuttle extends landing gear from its belly and then sets down on the deck with a thud and a slight bounce on magnetic shock aborbers. The craft's engines then cease humming, the nacelles grow dim, and the entire vehicle settles almost to the deck on its relaxed landing gear. The seamless hull then cracks a slit across its upper surface. A second perpendicular slit appears. Then, where once was seamless black metal, four squares of the hull shrink away into nothingness, leaving instead a square opening from which comes a man in a leathery black clothing. His thin & short frame is hardly intimidating, though his carriage and costume make up the difference. Plates of armor sewn into the linings of his grey pants and leathery brown jacket bulge through. His face & entire head are concealed by a glassy black helmet that matches the spacecraft he exits. He neither removes the helmet or lifts the mirrored face shield when approaching Kyrsa.*

Pilot (NPC): You can put your weapons away.

*His voice sounds as if flitered through a communicator... or perhaps through a universal translator fitted into the helmet.*

Kyrsa: That depends. Our contract wasn't particularly specific on whether this entire deal is legal or not. You've got transportation. Why not fly yourself in?

Pilot: My shuttle is easily recognizable, and my very presence could alert competitors to my client's intentions.

*He's lying, at least partly so. The Ullian within Kyrsa can sense it.*

Kyrsa: Then what are your client's intentions?

Pilot: I should trust you to not let word slip?

Kyrsa: Fair enough, I guess. What do we call you?

Pilot: "Courier" will be sufficient.

*Kyrsa offers a bare hand as a welcome.*

Kyrsa: Welcome aboard the Minerva, Courier.

*The helmeted head just nods in return, ignoring Kyrsa's outstretched hand. Damn it all! He's either done his research or he's of an alien race that has no concept of Terran greeting customs. She'll have to devise another chance to get a telepathic reading of his memories.*

Pilot / "Courier": I will be needing private quarters until we reach orbit. After that I will need unrestricted, exclusive access to the stasis cabinets in your Sickbay. Alert me when we arrive at Deridous IV.

*Courier steps around the group to approach the turbolift.*

Kyrsa: I'll have my men escort you.

*One of the big crewmen, a Nausican, takes that as a cue to grip Courier's shoulder to prevent him from entering the turbolift and therefore wandering the ship freely. Courier neither turns or halts. Blue sparks fly from the small man's clothing, causing the big Nausican to release his grip and drop to his knees in brief agony. Courier steps into the turbolift and turns about to face Kyrsa.*

Courier: I scanned your vessel. I know the way. *turbolift door closes*

Kyrsa: What's the situation with Ditz and Zim?

Charlie: They should have the radiation contained by now. Cleaning it up should take...

Kyrsa: They can clean it up later. We'll pick them up from the asteroid belt on the way in. I want Ditz linked with Minerva and running surveillance on that guy, and I want Zim searching bulletins and warrants for anything matching him or his shuttle.

Charlie: What about the merc networks?

Kyrsa: Legal channels first. *points to Nausican* And have Sickbay look at him.

OFF

Kyrsa, starship captain,
S.S. Minerva, freight & passenger transport

SEPTEMBER 2003

Author: Neoga Ranar
Title: "Powerful shadows"
ON:

-Bedevere River, Deridous IV-

The brackish water mixing in the Bedevere River was teaming with wildlife. The area was a breeding ground for larger fish coming from the ocean. The last leg of their ancestral trip to where they themselves were born. Even with today's technology it still baffled scientists.

The QAR III was now powered up and in the distance sailing on Lake Excalibur. The wake from the ship was now lessening its harsh attack on the shoreline. The small ripples were calmly washing up on the rocks and sand of the coast. The crustaceans that dwelled on the shore near the waters edge were occasionally dragged into the river only to sim back out to where it began and continue down the shore to its intended destination.

One of the small part time nautical creatures walked mildly down the edge of the river. The small tailless rat-like creature walked slowly sniffing every inch of mud and sand on the shore. It would lift pebbles and seashells to search for food. The webbing connecting its for and aft legs helped it swim in the river. The animals gill/lung system allowed it to breath in water or land as long as the gills stayed moist.

The footprints it left went for hundreds of meters. It curiously sniffed the air, picking up on an unusual scent. Being curious, the red haired animal began to follow the scent a few more meters.

Over the next embankment, a black log-shaped figured laid almost completely immersed in the river. The little animal was eager to investigate even if the object was stinky and too big to eat.

Getting closer it noticed that the 'thing' wasn't a log or branch, but a human. The human was wearing black clothing and soaked from the trip down the river. It lay motionless with half its face buried in the sand. The chest moved up and down slowly meaning that it was still alive.

The little animal walked up slowly to it nasal area. Feeling the air rush out and in scared the small rodent causing it to emit a loud squeal. Its claws unsheathed and it raised the hair on it back to show dominance and fierceness.

The human, Neo, opened his eyes suddenly. The salt water burned causing him to see blurry. Completely startled, he jumped back, landing on his rear, staring the small animal down. In a last ditch effort to retreat, it jumped into the river simming at a high rate of speed across the waterway and out of harms way.

Neo, sitting down, coughing from the ingestion of saltwater, looked around, unsure of where he was. His chest burned from something he was unsure of. His shirt had a hole in it and his skin underneath was red and irritated. In that moment, he panicked. He had no recollection of why or what happened.

The introduction of insecurity and temporary memory lapse, coupled with the recent traumatic mental anguish caused Ranar to jump to his feet and run into the jungle. He was running from someone. He could feel the walls close in now more than ever. The brush and tree limbs cut into the Angosian like knives, opening many cuts and scrapes along his arms and legs but he continued to run, eastward.

The faster he ran, the more he felt like he was loosing ground. His blood pumping at double it should, feeding his muscles used in the high-speed dash from nothingness. The shadow in the back of his mind was winning. The struggle it had to gain control was more than Neo could defend from. The recent struggles with himself only made him weaker. His self control diminishing.

The obstacles in the jungle were easily cleared by Neo's instincts. His programming to survive was the only thing keeping him from a total collapse. As he thought about the circumstances and the vision, he felt it was controlling him as well.or trying too.

The Angosian's pace slowed to a complete stop. The moment he did, he felt the world spin around him. He could feel himself slip from control. Dropping to his knees, Neo yelled at the top of his lungs, releasing the frustration his ordeal. It would only be time before his instincts took control, and the Neo we all know would slip away, maybe forever.

-Pioneer HQ, Power Distribution Station near Jungle perimeter, 25 minutes later-

The two maintenance workers worked on the power junction that feed Pioneer. The back-up and main power systems all converged here and fed the largest structure on Deridous. The male and female human daunting hardhats and safety vests worked diligently to get the system upgraded without tripping the main power.

"That loud scream is still freaking me out Justin. It sounded like a monkey getting.."

The male worker simply raised his hand stopping the female from continuing. "I know, but the colony has a perimeter defense system. At the sign of anything 'bad', they simply raise the shields. No harm done. Stop worrying and help me put the cover back on."

"I still have the feeling were being watched." Erica had a concerned look. The jungle was only fifteen feet away.

"First voices freak you out, now were being watched. We got another ten minutes. You want me to check it out for you?"

She turned a shade of red and simply shook her head. Reaching down, she grabbed the other side of the access panel helping her friend out, lifting the panel. She closed her eyes struggling to lift the panel. Seconds later she heard a clunking sound and the panel got really heavy. "Come on 'J'!! Help me out here!" Not able to hold it, she dropped it to the ground. She walked back a few steps and screamed in horror. Justin was face down on the concrete pad. Taking a second, she surveyed him and came to the conclusion that it wasn't the panel as he was bleeding from the base of his head. Along side him was a rock about the size of a baseball also covered in blood.

In a panic, she backed to the junction unit frantically looking around towards the jungle. Not able to control her 'fight or flight' she turned quickly and ran around the small shed sized junction housing. As she turned the corner she looked back to the jungle not aware of what laid before her. Before she could stop, she looked ahead to see the arm of an unknown figure. The arm came in direct contact with the small female causing her to flip backwards from her own momentum. When she landed, she was unconscious from the blow. With the area clear, he went to work.

-Penthouse Office, Pioneer Mining-

" .and it looks like the new security protocols for our accounting software will work out well for the future." Wong, the Chief of Security continued with his report.

The man in charge, Dr. Stuart, listened contently at the report from his valued employee. "Excellent. Well do..."

Before he could continue the power in the building went out. The lights were the first to go, followed by the sound of powering down systems. Wong looked out the window and towards his boss, Dr. Stuart.

"The backup system should be up in a few seconds." Wong reassured his boss.

"Then we have a problem, because the backup system isn't kicking in!" Stuart replied, walking over to the corner window to see if the rest of the colony lost power. As he did, he glanced down at the maintenance area behind the building. Below he could vaguely the figure of a man dressed in black back out of the power distribution shed and walk back into the jungle. "Mr. Wong, tell security we may have overtime tonight. Inform the D4 police. Have them check the power shed."

Wong nodded "I'll send some guards down right away."

OFF

Neoga Ranar
Mercenary
Deridous 4

AUGUST 2003

Author: Johnny Teech
Title: "It's 3:30 in the AM and this is Perspectives"
ON:

The wind whipped through Catalonia Hughes's hair as she stood on the forward deck of the pirate ship Queen Anne's Revenge III. Catalonia for a moment forgot about how miserable the last five years of her life had been. Ninolo Hughes, her husband, had been a promising command officer aboard an Akira-class near Earth. Catalonia and the Hughes's 16 year-old daughter, Lela, had lived comfortably on Earth. Then, in a matter of weeks, everything fell apart. Ninolo was accused of sexually harassing one of his junior officer staff. In the maelstrom that had ensued, Catalonia hung onto Lela's boulder-like strength to keep her sanity. And then it had happened, in the closing days of Ninolo's defense, when it seemed certain that he would be acquitted. Ninolo's career looked as if he might yet become Commanding Officer of his own ship, with nothing more than a smudge in his record from the court-martial. On the final days of the defense, Ninolo's lawyers began to call character witnesses, to "strengthen our already impenetrable defense." Lela, however, apparently tired from years of holding it all inside and trying to be the rock her mother leaned on, broke down on the stand and accused her father of molesting her from the time she was 6. Ten years of abuse had supposedly gone on under Catalonia's nose. Ninolo was found guilty with this added bit of evidence, and ordered administratively separated from Star Fleet. Catalonia accused Lela of making it all up to get attention, and Lela had moved away to begin her college career. Ninolo and Catalonia had been frugal with their funds, and could afford to live the life of civilians on Earth, however the first four neighborhoods they chose to inhabit saw Ninolo as something of a pariah. In desperation, Ninolo and Catalonia had packed their belongings and moved out to the Deridous colony, far enough away from most news sources that the Hughes could at least live a partially-normal life, if you could consider having to pay someone to re-pipe the house three times due to some creeping vine infestation normal.

"I knew I'd find ye out here... the sea, she can make yeh forget yer troubles, alright, but sooner or later, we all have to put our feet back on solid ground. What's troublin' yeh lass?"

"It's nothing you would understand, I'm sure, Mister Teech. But I thank you for your concern."

"Suit yerself. We're going to be stopping shortly and anchoring, if ye'd like to swim with some of the 'quatic 'habitants of Deridous. P'rhaps it will get yer mind off whatever's got yer beautiful face lookin' as if it's been put into a Waring on puree with a few 'lectric snakes..."

Catalonia turned around to gauge the sincerity of the pirate's comments, but he'd already turned and started to walk away. Teech was not overly tall, but his long, black hair and his build attracted Catalonia for some reason. She knew that she could never be involved in anyway with anyone but her husband, and the thought of that giant, curved hook running slowly across her naked flesh made Catalonia want to retch, but something about being here, amongst a dozen other couples and families, made Catalonia feel as if their life was heading back towards normal.

YnYnee was used to attention from men. Not boys, like in her classes during the educational year, but grown men. Starfleet types, mercenaries, she'd had comments and eye-undressings from the best of them. At 15, Nee could have passed easily for 18 or more, and she liked the ability to not have to follow colony curfew as closely as her friends. And there were times, to be completely honest with only herself, when she enjoyed the attention she got from men. She played it off as creepy when she was with her friends, but Nee knew that she had something that men wanted, and that she was able to make them do just about anything for her if just she acted as if she was willing to part with some of that intangible thing. It had worked so well in the past, and Nee considered it a science now. She had not ever expected to meet Ninolo Hughes, however.

While dining in the common galley, Nee had caught the tall, light skinned and haired man staring at her. Nee smiled not-so-innocently, and continued to eat her lunch. Her parents had been working in the engine room as part of Teech's promise to show them the life of a real pirate mate, so she was lunching alone. When Nee looked up again to see where the man had gone, she flinched upon finding him sitting directly across the table from her. Nee realized that she could use this to her advantage, as Teech would not allow her to have any Schnap-beer.

"Hey there, fella..."

"Hello yourself. All alone on this love cruise?" he was charming.

"All alone, and needing something to drink, you wouldn't want to buy a lady a Schnap-beer would you?"

"Darling, I'd buy you a whole hex-crate..." very charming.

"Let's start with one mug, and see where things go from there," Nee responded, making her cat eyes at the man.

Where it had gone was the two of them spending two hours in the galley drinking. Nee's food was not of absorbant qualities for long, and she was soon thorougly intoxicated. Too drunk to walk straight, Nee accepted the help of the charming man to get back to her quarters, fully intending to explain to him upon arrival that she was underage, and fully expecting that to matter to him. What predicaments people get themselves into sometimes. Nee had gotten to the doors of her quarters, just one room down from her parents', and told the man that she was underage. The man did not look phased, and told her in fact that she may still be in school, but she'd be ready for graduation when he was done with her. Nee tried to scream, and found her mouth covered under a steel viselike hand. The doors of her quarters had opened automatically when she leaned against them, and the two were about to fall inward, the man on top of her, when a golden-colored hook surrounded his neck, letting Nee fall on her own onto her back.

"Sleep it off, lass, and don't let me catchya scammin' anymore drinks. As for you, slime, yer about to live the most realistic pirate experience I offer. The plank with yeh!" Teech led the man off, laughing in a sort of maniacal chuckle, and Nee was unsure if he was serious, and then unsure whether she cared. Nee walked to the head and turned on the shower. Her parents noticed the water recirculator kicking up, and adjusted the engine-room settings, unaware that all the water in the lakes of Deridous would not be enough to clean the feeling from their daughter's skin.

Catalonia was feeling in a better mood, and was just about to head below when four men and three women came above-decks, followed shortly by the pirate Teech, holding her husband around the neck with his gargantuan hook. Teech bellowed to have the plank extended, and Catalonia giggled, thinking how funny it would be to see her husband sent below to swim. She watched in amazement with the others as Teech pushed Ninolo onto the plank, then drew an ancient cutlass and poked him in the back with it to make him walk. Catalonia thought she saw florets of blood blossoming on her husband's white shirt as he advanced slowly.

"You'll not get away with this, I'm going to turn you in to the Deridous Police, and Camp Lancelot marines!"

"If yeh ever make it to shore, dog, I'll take yeh downtown me'self. See what's more interestin' to DPD and the gyrenes, me walkin' yeh down the plank, or you tryin' to force yerself on that little girl!"

The rest of the tourists laughed at the interchange, convinced it was all part of the show, but Catalonia buried her face in her prematurely-lined hand. It had all been true. Catalonia had alienated her daughter, left her family on Earth, and trekked all the way out here to the middle of creeping-plumbing vine land to stay with husband she had been convinced could never have done the things of which he was accused. Now she realized, at long last, that it was all true. She did not look up, did not even listen too intently to the rest of the angry exchange between her husband and the pirate Teech. The hollow echo of a scream and the tinny splash below made Catalonia look up. Teech was not laughing, he turned to the rest of his clients and spoke, "If any of the rest of ye have any ideas that this is a way to get over on Starfleet law or the rules of nature, be warned. I'll use this plank all the way across the pole and back to the dock if I have to... Heeto, increase speed four knots, call in man overboard to the Lancelot gyrenes, but wait about an hour, let him learn as he swims. Yar!"

OFF:

Captain Johnny Teech, JAFP and your American Idol
SS Queen Anne's Revenge III
Pirate Tours and Trading
Deridous IV

JULY 2003

Authors: First Lt Pontowski - Second Lt Garcia - Staff Sergeant Mckenzie
Title: "Crowd Control"
ON:

==Zarnac site==
==continued==

Stumbling over his own feet Corporal Nathan Saunders (npc) made his way to where Garcia was on the comm. with the platoon commander in charge of the combat engineers, arguing that he needed the engineers. All the while ignoring the rather blank stare from Chief Warrant Officer 2 Noah Msiska (npc).

Saunders (npc): *waving a salute as he got to Garcia's field of vision* Lieutenant Garcia, sir?

Garcia: *holding up a hand toward Saunders, and trying to hear the Engineers* But you guys can spare a hopper or two?

Engineer: +I don't know what this whole 10 minutes talk is about. But I can have some of our guys in the air in about 30 minutes.+

Garcia: Sounds great, Sergeant. Thank you. Garcia out. *turning to Saunders* What ya got for me corporal.

Saunders: Lieutenant Pontowski wants to see you and Mr. Msiska on the double.

Msiska (npc): *straightening his sleeve* What for?

Saunders: It's to do with Sergeant Basra, sir. *lowering his voice* And be warned, sirs, the Lieutenant's not happy either!

Garcia looked at Msiska and frowned. Too many times in the last few hours, Pontowski wasn't happy. And when he wasn't happy, Garcia got yelled out or got his Lieutenant's bars ripped off.

Msiska: Oh Sh-t. This is really beginning to get old.

Garcia: You're tellin' me.

The two set out, with Saunders in tow, back to the Lieutenant. When they found him, he was sitting on a rock, rifle in his lap, and peering out over the crowd. He looked to not be disturbed. Msiska and Saunders both stepped back, thankful someone of higher rank was with them. They didn't want to disturb Pontowski when he was in a bad mood. Garcia looked back to them as if to say "Oh, thanks for nothing, you guys".

Garcia: Sir.

~This was never in the training manuals,~ Maggot thought as he resigned himself to stare into nothing in particular. ~And the guy was following my orders, d%^&*t.~

Pontowski: *looking up and let his glare snarl at the second lieutenant - and this time foregoing the niceties of name calling* Mr. Garcia. I want you to find Sergeant Basra and arrest him for murder.

Garcia: Sir-

Pontowski: And get back with the Corps of Engineers and cancel the wall. Higher powers have spoken.

Garcia: Sir, what the hell is going on?

Pontowski: *his patience wearing thin as he eased himself off the rock* What the hell is going on? D%^&#t, a Marine gets punished for following orders. That's what! *a sigh escaped his lips and his rough demeanour collapsing as he eyed the other* Look, Alex. Commander Calvert has issued her orders and it's our job to follow them. Even if we don't like them.

==Zarnac site, a kilometer way==

Garcia was followed by two troopers from 2nd Platoon. What he was about to do, he did with a heavy heart. Basra (npc) had grown from a trusted first sergeant, someone bread to be a future leader in the corps, to a close friend. As they approached, Basra looked as if he all ready knew. He knew that what he did would have its repercussions.

Garcia: I'm sorry to have to do this, Sergeant.

Basra nodded and put down his rifle, and removed the bulky parts of his combat uniform. The two stonefaced troopers began the process of arresting him.
Garcia: Sergeant John Paul Basra, you are under arrest for murder resulting from the use of excessive force. *finally over witht he formalities.* My dad has friends in the JAG corps. I'm getting on COMM with him as soon as I get back to the city to get you the best counsel. I'm behind you on this, Sergeant. Don't forget that.

Basra: Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.

The troopers lead Basra away. Garcia sat down on the ground and put his head in his hands. The pressure of the job was very difficult to take. It was hard arresting someone as close as Basra was to him.

== Approaching hopper, meanwhile ==

Arms folded, Bull leaned back in his seat. He'd heard Deridous was an interesting place, but this was ridiculous. He'd barely beamed down to Camp Lancelot from his ship (it had been a scheduled arrival, thus allowed through the blockade) before learning of the tensions at the alien settlement. He'd practically commandeered this hopper to get there. The voice of Camp Lancelot came over the comm, interrupting his thoughts.

Lance Ops (npc): +Hopper, proceed with caution. One of the Marines has just shot a civilian.+

Pilot (npc): Understood. Hey, things must be pretty tense if they're stunning people already.

Lance Ops: Negative, civilian is DOA.

Bull: WHAT?? We've got to get there asap!

Nodding, the pilot worked the controls, and the hopper accelerated. Out the windows, the jungle canopy dissolved into a blur.

== Zarnac Site, after Basra's arrest ==

Bull vaulted from the hopper almost before it set down. A few meters away, a group of Marines had gathered around one who hung his head in shame. Not far from that, another squad holding their rifles crosswise held back an angry crowd. As Bull watched, a pair of troopers led the prisoner into the waiting hopper while the crowd hurled insults at their backs. Another sat nearby on a rock, cradling his head in his hands in despair.

Bull stalked over to the Marine who appeared to be in charge.

Bull: What's going on here?? *catching the rank insignia* Sir.

CWO2 Carlton Banks (npc): We've had a nasty incident here. *glimpses Bull's cybernetic hand* Ah, Sergeant Mckenzie! Welcome to Deridous four! *offers right hand with a warm smile*

Bull took the offered hand with his cybernetic one, delivering a grip no human could match, though stopping shy of bone-shattering.

Bull: Thank you sir, looks like I got here just in time.

From Maggot's vintage point he could see that Basra had been taken away onto the hopper by two of his compatriots and Garcia sit on some out of the way rock that had every other Marine avoid. Which really was unsurprising and Maggot for one wished he had the same luxury, but with him being the de facto head of Marines and with thirty civilians throwing insults as if they were in the height of fashion.

Banks (npc): *approaching with Bull* Sir-

Pontowski: *clamping his emotions shut* Mister Banks. *noticing Bull* Sergeant.

Banks (npc): This is Staff Sergeant Bull Mckenzie. I sent you a mem- *the chief of personnel quietened down when Maggot's glance turned to a look that could easily kill*

Pontowski: *turning to Bull* Sergeant Mckenzie. I won't bother with the niceties as we've down a Marine, and to boot we've thirty odd civilians with an attitude problem and forty Marines wanting to fix that problem. Personally, if I had my way I'd order full force and fix the attitude that way. But with an Angel killed the powers that be have tied my hands and have ordered that we use a heavy stun. *retaining his stone faced expression Maggot nodded* Recommend me a course of action and then go execute it.

Bull: *thinking out loud* I think we should try and disperse the crowd, sir. Even nonlethal force can make matters worse. We might be able to talk them down.

Pontowski: *waves toward crowd* Be my guest.

Bull: *stiffening* With all due respect sir, a ranking officer should do this. Otherwise we risk undermining your authority in this situation.

Pontowski: *nods, then mutters to Bull* Follow my lead. *loudly enough to be heard by the crowd* Sergeant, I don't have time for this! Disperse this crowd!

Bull: Sir!

Bull marched towards the crowd. A rock whizzed past his ear, but he ignored it. He stopped and regarded the crowd.

Bull: *in his best parade ground bellow* This is a restricted area! Leave immediately!

Troublemaker (npc): Not until we get some answers! We have a right to know what's going on here!

Bull: *snarls* Take it up with the colony administrator! If you do not disperse, we will be forced to arrest every last one of you!

Troublemaker: What, you're not going to gun us down like you did Pueblo?

Bull felt his face burning. He personally wanted a piece of that trooper's hide. Nothing could justify slaughtering an unarmed civilian like that.

Bull: The Marine responsible has already been taken into custody, you all saw that!

Woman (npc): And he'll get a slap on the wrist! Starfleet thinks they can just push people around? And you Marines are nothing more than mindless killers!!

At her words, no few of the Marines shifted and gripped their rifles tighter. The crowd murmured in agreement.

Bull: ENOUGH!! We put our mivonks on the line contantly for you people! Or have you all forgotten that little war we had a few years back?? Which would you prefer, these Marines or Jem'hadar soldiers??

The crowd shifted uneasily, Bull continued, not to lose momentum.

Bull: I'm sure some of you served or knew someone who fought in the war. *holds up cybernetic hand* And you know the price we paid. What we do, we do for your protection. You trusted us then, trust us now. Go home, and I'm sure The Administrator and Camp Lance command will tell you all you need to know.

The crowd visibly relaxed. One by one, then in groups, they broke up and made for their own hoppers. A few resisted, but their companions dragged them away. When they had all gone, Bull spun on his heel to face Pontowski.

Bull: Sir! One crowd dispersed!

OFF:

A triple joint effort: Starring the men from the Deridous IV Marine Detachment.

First Lieutenant Andrew Pontowski
CO, 2nd Platoon
&
Second Lieutenant Alex Garcia
Military Liaison Officer
&
Staff Sergeant Beauregard Mckenzie
First Platoon Sergeant




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