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Pod 5, Part 5 - ... And Conquer? Part 2 [PLOT]

Posted on Wed Nov 21st, 2018 @ 9:28am by Captain Malcom Llwyedd & Lieutenant Commander Rhiana t'Aegis

Mission: Mission 4: Riding A Pale Horse
Location: Arches Techlon Camp
Timeline: 17 July, 2394 - 1300 Hours


15 July, 2394 - 1100 Hours

When the small group of Techlons and Rhiana had finally arrived at the Techlon camp, forty-eight hours after having had encountered the salvage group, Rhiana had been barely conscious. She had not seen the big rock formations that formed a natural wall around the village, reinforced where necessary by smaller rocks, sheets of metal and wooden posts. She had not seen the small structures of the same material that were placed on top of some of those rocks, facing outwards, manned by armed, more or less rugged-looking people. She had not seen the buildings that made up the village, built of baked bricks, metal and wood, no two looking alike, all having a rather make-shift and rough look. She had not seen the people, somehow ordinary, but harsh-looking, with clothes that were more often torn and possibly, but not always mended rather than new ones. She had not heard the laughter of children that were running around, playing between the houses as children had for thousands of years, no matter the species or planet. She had not heard the sounds of a forge and other workshops. She had not seen the several likely motorised vehicles that were parked in the shadow of an overhanging rock. She had not smelt the cooking fires, nor the scents of various kinds of food preparation beginning to waft through the air.

She had not felt that she was slipping off of the horse that had carried her and Riley and that several helpful hands were there to prevent her from falling. Nor had she felt that they had laid her on a stretcher and carried her, according to Riley's instructions, into the fortified village's small clinic.

About two days after her arrival in the camp, Rhiana finally came to. It was a slow process since she still felt weak and exhausted. And sore. Her mouth was parched, her tongue feeling raspy and dry against the roof of her mouth. The headache was still there, but more faint and dull, a nuisance more than real pain. After several minutes of taking internal inventory and immensely relieved for being able to do that, the Romulan dared to slowly open her eyes. Before she could manage to focus on anything, someone spoke. "Don't try to sit up. Let me help you." Rhiana felt someone's strong arm underneath her neck and shoulders, helping to prop her up just a little. Out of apparently nowhere, a goblet full of water touched her lips and she took a careful first sip. "It's water," the voice commented just when Rhiana's still sluggish brain realised what it was. Suddenly, she remembered that she was parched and she continued to drink. A sip or two more, then she took the goblet in her own hand and drained the contents within a few seconds. That bit of action already exhausted her and she relinquished the goblet back to whoever had held it in the first place.

"Do you want some more?" the voice asked again as someone let Rhiana sink back onto the bed and this time, she turned her head towards it. It was a woman. She looked familiar. Vaguely. The woman smiled at Rhiana's frown. "I'm Riley. The medic. We found you and your friends in the woods." Rhiana's frown deepened which hurt somewhat. She raised her hand and touched the spot. She found a piece of fabric covering it. Then, suddenly, she remembered. The order to abandon ship. The crash. The strangers. Rhiana sat up and fought against a passing dizziness. "Where are Harlan and Stephens?" Her voice still sounded hoarse and she coughed to clear her throat.

Riley nodded. "Your friends. They have returned to your vessel to attempt salvage. You gave them permission to accompany our crew, which was nice of you. If they don't run into any other problems, they should be back in a few days. The swampy area you crashed in is difficult to do salvage work in. There is quick mud, lizards and the poisonous leeches. Thankfully, most of the wildlife avoids people," Riley said. "Are you hungry? We need to get you back on your feet. The captain would like to meet you as soon as possible. Apparently she is excited to know you are here in Arches."

Rhiana took a moment to digest all this semi-new information and wondered why she could have chosen to let both of the chiefs help salvage the escape pod. Maybe because she felt safer on her own. As long as their captors believed that she was no threat, they would probably not be overly strict with their security measures. After all, they had already removed the restraints. But back to matters of immediate importance. "Yes, I am hungry."

"Great," Riley said with a smile. "I've got some really tender Guat here. I've also got some Pular root that is mashed up. They are high in protein and iron, which should help with your blood production." The nurse put two medium sized bowls made of rough stone on a small table next to Rhiana's bed. "Is there anything else I can do for you before I go? I've got another patient who managed to get bitten by a rock scorpion. Nasty little creatures. While I am gone, Auntie Mable is outside if you need anything."

Without changing her expression, Rhiana looked at the bowls containing the strange food. She chose not to ask about the origin of the dishes and consoled herself with the fact that had they wanted her dead, she would not have woken up. Therefore the food would be safe to eat. She was about to ask about that 'auntie Mable', but suddenly realised something else: she was not dressed in her uniform anymore. Instead, she was wearing some kind of shapeless, brownish... gown for lack of a better word. They had undressed her while she was unconscious. They had undressed her. Undressed!! They had had the audacity to touch her while she was helpless!!! And then she remembered something else.

The headache and dizziness were gone in a flash, pushed aside by a sudden surge of anger and dread. "Where is my datapad?" The words sounded strangled, pressed out between clenched jaws and Rhiana's fists pressed into the mattress in order to keep herself from jumping Riley just yet.

Riley paused. "Datapad?" She asked and then recognition crossed her face. "Oh your tech. I think that one of the engineers took it to the captain for her to examine. Don't worry, she will give it back to you when you meet her. She's a wonderful person. We don't have a lot of advanced technology like you obviously do and whenever something new comes up, no matter small, they want to examine it."

"I am meeting her now. Give me my uniform." Driven almost exclusively by adrenaline, Rhiana rose from the bed. Sheer force of will kept her from swaying too much and prevented her from sinking back down again. The black spots in front of her eyes disappeared after only a second or two and she stared coldly at poor, undeserving Riley.

"Well, ah, I mean, I don't think she's ready..." Riley started to say but then the full weight of Rhiana's glare settled on her. She had no idea why she was so angry. "I suppose I could escort you over there, if you like. But," Riley said squaring her shoulders. "If you experience any complications, we are coming right back here." She hoped she'd sounded fierce because patient safety was the most important thing in her life. She'd lost everything because of that principle and one scowling alien wasn't going to change that.

Riley opened the door and sunlight shone in, along with a moderate amount of sand and dust. She shrugged. "Follow me," she said. They emerged into what could only be called a street. It was made of baked clay bricks and was wide enough for the two wagons passing nearby. Overhead were many colorful awnings that hung from wooden or metal poles. The shade covered the sides of the street, while leaving a strip of sunlight in the middle. Other one or two story buildings extended along the road, with smaller, non-paved alleys disappearing like crooked streams into darkness.

Looming over the whole street was a beautiful red stone archway that was hundreds of feet long and at least a hundred feet high. Riley looked up at the arch, taking note of the repairs that had been made to one of the small buildings on top.

Rhiana had just managed to notice that her boots had not been taken away and to slip into them before Riley was out of the room. Her own steps were a little more prudent in the beginning, but once her eyes had grown accustomed to the blinding light of the sun, she found that the fresh air invigorated her more than the adrenaline high did. So did the stroll through the settlement. The Romulan still felt not entirely like herself and she was still dreading what might have happened to her datapad, but she began to calm down a little and took in her surroundings. She also decidedly ignored the stares of the people they passed by and the children who were pointing and laughing at her. If she had had a sense of humour, she might have laughed with them, acknowledging that she looked ridiculous in that brownish shift and standard-issue boots. Since she had not, Rhiana straightened her back and raised her chin just a fraction, putting on the mask of being untouchable that she had perfected years ago.

After a short while, she caught up with Riley - because the latter was walking slowly - and glanced sideways at the other woman. Even though her memory of the events of the last few days was blurry at best, Rhiana knew that she owed Riley. Possibly even her life. "I apologise for my outburst. But this datapad has a high sentimental value for me."

Riley wove through the alley, dodging running children and a small dog. "You don't need to apologize. Techlons understand how that is. We are sentimental about almost all of our technology. It is all we really have to remember our ancestors and the world we came from before... this. Although, to be honest, I was raised under the dome in Refam territory," Riley said. A pair of merchants paused their bickering to watch the injured stranger and the medic walk past them. "Was your... datapad? From an ancestor?"

"It was a gift from my parents," Rhiana replied much to her own surprise. She did not usually talk about the datapad. It was a private item, after all, and there was no reason for her to make it part of a conversation. Of course, this situation was different. "They are dead. This is the only thing that reminds me of them." It was not the only reason, but it should be enough for Riley. "What dome? Who are the Refam?" she continued, wanting to change the subject and at the same time trying to learn a few things about this world. Maybe she had heard some things before on the trek here, but she was not sure she could remember most of what had been said.

Riley groaned. "I'm sorry. I forget that you don't know our world. The Refam are descendants from the portion of the original colony compliment that were farmers of the Amish heritage. After we were forced to land here, they staged a coup and attacked the crew. They won and forced the survivors to either accept their dogma of no advanced technology or be driven out here in the wastelands. They either destroyed or hid most of the technology, leaving the Techlons with very little. They also set up the anti-technology dome over their territory," Riley said. They rounded a corner and the small road opened up into a wider plaza. The ground was made up of large squares of stone that had been smoothed over decades of heavy use. There were still some merchant stalls but on the far side there was also a large effort underway. Men and women sat at long tables, sorting through an astounding array of technological scrap.

Rhiana nodded carefully from time to time during Riley's explanation. Carefully, because she still felt that her brain would not like it if she did so more vigourously. She refrained from commenting that these "Refam" had done a poor job with their coup. Instead of merely driving their opponents away, they should have executed or enslaved them. Anything else just provided a breeding ground for insurgencies and counter-coups. "What are they doing?" She gestured with her chin in direction of the long tables. It looked like going through rubbish to her.

"Well,"Riley said coming to a halt. "We don't have much in the way of manufacturing capabilities. A lot of what we do have is old and we have to be careful with it. So we resort to scavenging the wastes. The same spacial anomaly that originally brought us here, has brought a lot of other ships over the years. That technology is what we use to survive, which makes it very valuable. Our economy is based off of scrap and work. We're even working on..." Riley cut herself off. "But that is something the captain will talk to you about, I'm sure. We're going to go up into the arch." The young woman pointed to the base of the soaring arch, not far away. A square entryway was visible, guarded by four tough looking people carrying rifles. They were dressed in a dull brown outfit that wrapped around them, leaving their legs free. "Are you ready? It is a bit of a climb, which is why I wanted you to rest a little more."

Rhiana's left eyebrow rose when talkative Riley cut herself off but quickly stopped doing that because even after several days, the skin on her forehead felt strange and wrong. Instead, she looked up at the arch and sighed inwardly. She could already feel that she was still not her usual self and she regretted not having taken the time to eat. But Rhiana was nothing if not stubborn to a fault, so she tightened her jaws and nodded once. "I am ready." And hoping that her datapad was still in one piece once she got to the top of the structure.

Riley led the way to the doorway, pausing to talk with the guards. The senior guard raised an eyebrow. "What do we have here, Riley?" She said, shouldering her weapon.

"Hi, Susan. I'm taking her to see the captain," Riley said.

The guard frowned. "I thought she was half dead? Looks like she's walking ok."

"She's a fast healer. And the captain did say she would like to meet her as soon as possible. Well, it looks like it is possible right now," Riley said, trying to hide her apprehension about the long climb ahead of them.

"Alright. A quick scan first," Susan said and pulled a square handheld object from her belt. It was made of two different metals and had a green screen. The guard waved it over Rhiana and Riley and grunted. "Clear. Have a good climb."

Riley smiled and waved for Rhiana to follow. The stairway was bored straight through the red stone. The steps were narrow and worn smooth from years of use. It was a testament to the skill of those who had originally cut through the rock that each step was perfectly situated and level. As they climbed, Riley's legs started to ache. It had been a few days since she'd been to the top of the arch. They climb in silence, only the sound of their breathing breaking the silence. Ten minutes later, they reached a small landing, where the circular stairs ended and another set of circular stairs, spiraling the opposite way began. A small boy in a green tunic smiled at them as he skipped by, carrying a small brown package. Riley turned to Rhiana, holding out her water skin.

"How are you doing? We're about halfway."

The boy went past unnoticed by Rhiana who was about to pretend and say that she was perfectly fine when her legs buckled and she sank to the ground. One hand was trailing along the wall, as if she was trying to steady herself but not succeeding.

Riley leaned down next to Rhiana, a look of worry on her face. She pulled out a small white cloth from a belt pouch and poured water on it. "I knew this was going to happen," she said as she slowly wiped her patient's face. "You should have listened to me. You are a stubborn one, aren't you?" Riley sighed. There were no perfect options. Rhiana was clearly in no shape to be out and about but they were almost to the top.

"Do you want a drink? Or maybe something to eat? We're almost there and then you can recover," Riley said.

"Some water, please." Rhiana was panting from the effort of climbing the steep stairs. She was not used to stairs and despite being athletic, the muscles all down the back of her legs were hurting and beginning to cramp. The moist cloth on her face felt good and it was with difficulty that she resisted the urge to close her eyes for a little nap. Instead, she took the profferred water skin and took a few sips. Realising that she was parched, she drank more, gulping the water down until there was not much left in the water skin. She handed it back to Riley, then wiped her mouth and chin with the shift's sleeve. "Thank you." She took a deep breath and offered the medic a bit of a smile. "Yes. I am stubborn. We can continue in a moment or two."

Riley waited until Rhiana was ready, and her professional opinion was that only sheer willpower kept her patient upright and moving. Still, she continued to look back to make sure she was still managing. Thankfully it was only another five minutes to the top. They emerged into a small landing, where four more guards, dressed identically to the ones below stood. Riley raised a weary hand and a grizzled looking man with short gray hair and a scruffy beard returned the gesture.

"She wanted to meet with the captain right away," Riley said. "And she's... persistent."

The man raised an eyebrow, a smirk on his face. "She looks like death warmed over," he said. "But you're clear to go in. She's meditating for the moment."

Riley nodded and motioned for Rhiana to follow her. They stepped through the archway and into the main chamber of the grand arch. The walls were made of a blood red stone, flecked with specks of gold and the ceiling soared far overhead. The floor was smooth, much like the stairs, but it had been carved into a web of lines and circles that created a massive mosaic. To the right, some thirty feet away, another set of doors led to more private chambers. Directly in front of them, Riley could see the grand balcony. Only the sky was visible, hanging over the red stone shelf that jutted out into the air. A gathering of five people stood with their backs to the approaching visitors. They were dressed in well made clothing that resembled blue jumpsuits. Just visible in front of them was a tall backed chair.

Their footsteps echoed on the floor as they approached and one of the bystanders, a tall woman with red hair and narrow set eyes, glanced at them. Her mouth curled up as she saw Riley but she said nothing. Silence hung over the room, only the sound of the breeze ruffling clothing breaking it in any way. And then a chime sounded and it was as if a weight had been lifted.

The woman turned and drew Riley in for a hug. "I didn't know you were back!" She said. Riley returned the hug and then pulled away.

"Yes indeed. I've been too busy to come see you," Riley said, glancing at Rhiana. "I had a patient to attend to. I still do."

The woman turned her gaze to Rhiana. "You must be our new guest," she said. "I'm Catherine, Riley's aunt. It is a pleasure to meet you."

The silent period until the chime sounded had given Rhiana just enough time to catch her breath and taking in the surroundings. She found that she quite approved of the space and it was not difficult for her to picture this chamber in any estate of one of the more important Houses back home. Of course, the Humans did not fit that picture. Nor did her attire. When Riley's aunt turned her attention to her, the Romulan truly realised for the first time since coming to that maybe, just maybe, she should have waited for Riley to bring her some proper clothes before meeting with her captors' leader. And maybe taken a shower, too. But it could not be helped now and when Riley's aunt greeted her, Rhiana straightened up, which had the added effect of bringing a stop to her light swaying. She offered a slight bow from the waist to Catherine. "Thank you. I am t'Aegis. It is a pleasure meeting you, too." She was more pleased to hear that her voice sounded almost normal and did not betray her exhaustion. "Are you one of the captain's counselors?"

Catherine nodded. "Sort of. I'm her chief engineer. I'm working on..." the woman started to say and then another voice broke in.

"That will be quite enough, my dear. Please bring my guest where I can see her. It is less efficient to speak with someone who is behind me."

Riley snickered and Catherine rolled her eyes. "The captain will see you now," she said and motioned for Rhiana to follow her. Riley brought up the rear.

As they made their way around the massive chair, the people in front of them gave way, inclining their heads in welcome. The floor in front of the chair had been covered with a large blue rug, covered in stars. A tall woman with straight black hair, touched with gray and white, sat on the chair. She had aquiline features with angular eyebrows and piercing eyes. Her ears were thinner than a human's and pointed. She was dressed in a formal uniform that resembled uniforms from ancient Federation times. It was yellow, with a black collar around the neck and bands of gold at the wrists.

With a noticeable effort, the woman stood, holding out her right hand up in a V. "Welcome, Rhiana t'Aegis of Romulus. Live Long and Prosper."


Lieutenant Rhiana t'Aegis
Chief Security/Tactical Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298

Techlon Medic
(NPC of Fred)


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Comments (1)

By Petty Officer 3rd Class Gianna Djokovic on Tue Nov 27th, 2018 @ 6:44am

Exquisite descriptions of the village and the culture here, which made it a really nice, interesting read. I can't wait to hear if the captain will become an ally or an enemy. :) -Liam