• 📅 November 2022 is YE 44.8 in the RP. 1 IC month = 1 OOC month for the rest of the year.

RP: Hidden Sun Clan First Contact

Nashoba

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Fortuitous Discovery
In the year of the Clan of the Hidden Sun 744 more than one hundred light-years from world station, the Ikâsasae an Ismâo'a-class ship was returning from a two month scientific expedition. Sasâvyjo'ka Saflea Syali was the Ta'a for the ship and was on the bridge manning the pilot station. Saflea a Qaktoro with slanted yellow eyes and white skin covered in brown fur with tawny spots checked the displays at her station. Transition complete, all systems nominal. she thought.

Once satisfied, she stood up adjusted her umatli (kilt) and a jendomu. And walked over to one of her crew members on the bridge. The pale green Ikâsasae had just emerged from a movidoanor, or wormhole. It was one of many that the ship would travel through on its journey home. The ship commenced a scan to ensure that the area was safe. At which point it began recharging its tunnel drives in preparation for its next movidoanor transition.

As a Sasâvyjo'ka of the Otâmovi Wiy Jael she was permitted to take the Ikâsasae on this personal expedition. Her crew were hand picked colleagues and associates. She was returning from a planet where she had discovered some crystals that she felt had potential for a research project she was working on. Gato Woveis a friend of hers for many years was sitting at the communications station. "It will be good to see the World Station again. I know it has only been two months, but I miss it." He said to Saflea.

"Gato you do this every expedition. You beg to come along because you are tired of being cooped up on Silver Moon, or World Station and want to see new stars and new places. And less than a month out you start pining for home." Saflea said with a mocking tone to her voice.

Gato turned from Saflea, "Incoming message Ta'a." He accessed the controls to route the message to the speakers, the bridge was suddenly filled with a general call. "Attention all Poku vessels, this is a call to a Yârme Pasou." the message repeated several times and then supplied the coordinates.

Saflea returned to her station, and connected her neural link. She accessed the navigation system, plotting the coordinates of the site in relation to the Ikâsasae. She found that they could get to the Free Kill site in only one tunneling. The Ikâsasae was a science ship, but a free kill site was open to all. And it was not often that a person from her Jael could actually participate in a harvesting at a site. She started targeting the Movidoanor Tinvyma to make the tunnel.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea monitored her station while waiting for the engines to charge up. Once they had reached full potential, she brought the Ikâsasae about and activated the Movidoanor Tinvyma. A moment later the mouth of the wormhole appeared, and she brought the ship to edge of the opening.

Gato turned to Saflea, "Ta'a the Anoka Udano is at full strength, we are ready to enter the wormhole at your discretion."

Saflea nodded to Gato and flew the ship into the wormhole. The transition was nearly instantaneous, and the ship was now 15 lightyears from where it was previously. "Commence scanning Gato." she said as she looked at the display. Even without a sensor scan it was apparent to Saflea that a major battle between the Abuka hodi, and the Loi Daho'ai had taken place here. Everywhere she looked on the screen there were broken ships. "Gato, I do not know how these two groups can keep launching such numbers of ships against each other. Just from what I can see there are more warships than the entire clan possesses present. But I do know this will be a good harvest for the clan."

----- YE 27 72 hours earlier -----
On the bridge of the YSS Hishu a Ke-D2-5b Yui-class Scout, Kohaku- Nitô Heisho was at her station. The ship and hundreds like it were streaking toward the Mishhu fleet before them. Kohaku turned her head towards the commander, "Enemy fleet in maximum effective firing range in 60 seconds Taii." she trained the ship's sensors on the nearest group of enemy ships in an attempt to identify weaknesses in the SMX ships shields.

30 minutes later.

The bridge of the Hishu was engulfed in flames. Despite the crew members attempts to douse the flames. The Hishu was dying, its primary systems failing or destroyed, most of the crew was dead. The commander ordered the surviving members to abandon ship. Kohaku wanted to defy the Taii's orders, but she could see that staying on the Hishu was futile, at least ejecting in an escape pod she could hope to fight another day.

She left the bridge making her way aft she assisted one of the other crew members who had been pinned by debris. As she made her way aft she looked for any other surviving crew members. When she was sure there were no others to assist she entered the area with the escape pods. She opened one of the remaining ones, Kohaku turned to look on last time upon the ship she had served on for two years.

Kohaku turned to enter the pod when an explosion rocked the Hishu, and a fireball rushed towards her, the force of the explosion propelled her into the pod, and for a moment the pods interior was filled with fire. Kohaku had a brief moment of agony as her body was burned by the fire which ended mercifully when she struck her head on the far side. Unconscious her body settled to the bottom of the pod. The pods automatic systems engaged. The flames entering the pod died as soon as the hatch closed. A moment later the pod deployed, its propulsion system sending it clear of the doomed ship, the burned and unconscious Kohaku its sole occupant, and its homing system deactivated.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea piloted the Ikâsasae with ease past the nearest ships. Since the Ikâsasae was a science vessel it had limited cargo space. She wanted to make sure that any salvage she found was worth the space it would take.

The first group of ships that the Ikâsasae approached Saflea recognized as belonging to Poku Abuka hodi. She maneuvered away from them searching for ships of Poku Loi Daho'ai. She had seen some of them before and the people who flew them intrigued her.

After passing a number of wrecks the sensors started pinging. There were a number of objects that had power. Okay, now things are getting interesting. Saflea thought as she slowed the ship and rotated it towards the area where the objects were detected.

She activated the intercom system and called down to the scientists below. She sent them the images and coordinates for the desired objects. Once she had sent the commands to her crew she pulled up the Poku channel.

There was a good number of ships, and the harvesting was going well. From what she heard, the Wadâmo'ai were reporting finding several of the strange vessels, a few that were relatively intact.

It would be wonderful to get to study those ships. But sadly that will go to another part of the Jael. So whatever the items I selected have to offer will have to suffice. she thought.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea spent the next thirty tui'sa going over the salvage in the area around the Ikâsasae for any interesting and mostly intact technological items. She had been working on a strict criteria the most important being that the items had to fit in the ships cargo area. So most of the bigger pieces were easily eliminated. Of the items she had selected, three held special interest to her; because they all shared one similar trait. All of them the scans showed still have some sort of power system operating. She added them to the list of twelve items that she identified.

"Gato, send out the harvest team," she forwarded her list, "These are the items that I want them to bring aboard. The last three need additional scanning to ensure they are not some sort of weapon before bringing them onboard. I want you to oversee the operation. I am going to the Siama Ruo'sa, and then after that I will be in my Rousa" she said leaving the bridge.

Saflea moved with her feline grace through the passageways, as she passed crew members she would smile or nod in response to their passing comments. She arrived at the entrance to the Siama Ruo'sa, activated the door to the compartment and stepped in. Saflea was a true believer, and daily visits to the Siama Ruo'sa were part of her life. I miss my temple back home, this one is functional, but it is missing the personal touches. Of course had I gone with my first internship I would be a Detis Goa'a today, but Siamaka led me down a different kâur. she thought.

She crossed the room to the altar. The Ikâsasae did not have an assigned Detis Goa'a, Saflea did not see the need for one on such a short trip, and many of her crew were not as devout as she. Saflea knelt before the altar and picked up an incense stick and rose back to her feet. She placed the incense into the burner, and lit it. She waited until the fragrant smoke made its way to her, and then prayed.

After making her prayers Saflea returned to her cabin. In this room there was plenty of evidence of her taste and personality. A number of personal items adorned the desk and shelves. A digital frame alternated through a collection of images that she had chosen of her Ruoka. Most of the images were happy times, even the one of Saflea with her imatloi, Qatos was a happy image. The two of them had been celebrating Qatos' assignment as Advisor for a Hatakur for Ruoka'ka Leyto. Such positions were rare, and so they had quite a memorable night. Alas, that would be the last evening Salfea would spend with her beloved Qatos. The ship that Qatos never returned from its hunt. It was two Mâi, and her heart still ached at the loss.

Saflea had completed several messages for her friends and family, telling them about the adventures she had on this trip. They would be transmitted once the Ikâsasae returned to Degonjo Saeruo. If this was to be a longer trip she would have seen about contacting Ta'aka and having it take them home.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea got up from her desk and did a series of stretches. It helped to clear her mind, as well as work out the kinks she got when writing long missives.

Gato's voice came over the speaker in her cabin. "Ta'a, the salvage has been secured, and we are clear of the debris. Ready to resume our course to Sotâka Ruomâqi."

Saflea reached down and switched on the intercom on her desk. "Very well, proceed with the next waypoint." Switching the unit off she left her cabin, and headed to the dining area to get something to eat. There had picked up some vitdâmu on their last planet, that the Tula on board had declared safe for consumption. Fresh vitdâmu was not easy to come by, so she had been thinking about the new acquisition for awhile.

-----

The following morning the Ikâsasae emerged from its last wormhole and was within 2 AU's of the Poku Movi Vamâqi. The ship adjusted its course to head for the facility where Saflea spent the majority of her time. The ships Tyokame Tinvymai flared a bright purple as the plasma was directed behind the ship. It would take them about two hours to reach their destination. Saflea made her way down to the ship's hold, to take her first look at the salvage since they brought them onboard. She waited outside the hold as the systems slowly restored the environmental systems. Clothed in a Moviumatgo to protect her from any residual radiation or chemicals she entered the room.

Behind her Pujaqe in a similar suit entered the area holding a science scanner. "Commencing scan Ta'a." he said activating the unit. "No harmful radiation, no sign of any harmful chemical or biological material on the exterior of any of the objects." As Pujaqe continued his scans, the unit began a rhythmic beeping. "Ta'a Syali, I am detecting a lifeform."

Saflea whirled around, "Where? What type?"

Pujaqe made several adjustments to the scanner. "The readings are a bit erratic, but they do not conform to any life form in our database. How do you want to proceed?"

Salfea considered the situation, A living creature in the object? What if this device is some sort of emergency pod. Well, what's done is done. If it is a Loi Daho'a, then the responsibility would be mine. As I see it, this is an unprecedented opportunity. A chance to study a member of the dominant species, and gain insight into their culture. she thought. She turned to Pujaqe, "Signal the Poku Movi Vamâqi. I want my laboratory space readied, we will keep things as they are for the moment. I want to open this in a controlled environment."

Pujaqe turned off the scanner, and headed toward the doorway. "I'll take care of it immediately Ta'a."

------ Three hours later....
Saflea was watching as the pod was brought into the work space. She motioned for the other technicians to move out of the room for safety. She sent the lockdown command to secure the chamber. Once it was done she approached the pod and began examining it for any obvious signs of controls. It was not long before she found what she was looking for, and the pod started opening.

Kohaku floated between pain-laced consciousness and blissful nothingness. She could tell that she was burned seriously, and the smell of burnt flesh and plastics filled each breath she took as she neared consciousness. She was vaguely aware of the pod being moved around, jarring her and adding a new wave of pain through her. A mechanical whirring sound made its way to her, and she looked towards the escape pod hatch. It cracked open with a hiss and clean air filled the pod and her lungs.

She moved to sit up despite the pain it caused her, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked and saw a suited individual. She did not recognize the style of suit, but before she ask where she was, she heard an audible hiss, and felt a brief sting in her arm, and found herself falling back into nothingness.

Kohaku woke for the first time to a pain free state. The air she inhaled was fragrant and made her think about the gardens on Yamatai. A soft sheet was lying on her body. She opened one eye experimentally and took a look around. She was in a large white room, some sort of medical observation area she surmised.

She sat up and looked around. "Hello, I am Kohaku-Nitô Heisho. Where am I?" she called out, her voice shattering the quiet. She waited for a moment for a response, but none was forth coming. Wrapping the sheet around her body she began exploring the room. She found what appeared to be a recessed door, but could find no way to get a grip to try and force it open. What the hell kind of hospital is this? A patient wakes up and there is no way to contact the nurse or doctor?

She walked back to the bed and examined it for anything she could remove to use as a possible weapon. As she examined the lower portion she saw markings obviously some sort of language, but unlike anything she had seen before.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea watched as their 'guest' explored the room in which she had awoken. Her body's ability to recover is unbelievable. With nothing but basic nutrient solution and saline there are no signs of the injuries.

Saflea had not been able to find even a hint of a scar from the burns. She wondered if the remarkable healing was the result of evolution, or some sort of genetic manipulation. However she had decided against performing any tests that would provide clues. Saflea wanted to engage the subject in dialog, to try and come to a better understanding of the individual and their culture.

The speakers in the observation room carried the words spoken by the subject. Saflea ran the sound patterns through the local Sumanâjo Jodau, but so far there was not a large enough sample to start identifying specific words of the alien. But even if they did they needed to get a context. Otherwise they could spend years recording everything the subject said and never really learn anything valid. The Sumanâjo Jodau was comparing the sounds from the subject with archives of recordings made by Ismâo'a.

She pressed a button on the console and across the room a small panel opened and a platform extended from the wall. On the platform was a container of drinking water, a glass and a food packet from the pod in which the subject had been found.

-------------------------------------------------------

Kohaku had examined the room twice without any success. She could not shake the feeling that she was being observed, most likely by whomever had found her pod. The question was why. She heard a soft click followed by a whirring sound. She turned and dropped into a defense crouch.

She identified the source of the sound and spotted a platform or something like one coming out of the wall. On it she spotted a clear pitcher of clear liquid, and a ration pack. She walked over and picked up the pack and examined it. It was undamaged, and appeared to not have been tampered with. She tucked it under her arm and looked at the liquid. She could not smell anything, but there were a number of drugs and poisons that had no scent or taste. So for now she chose to ignore the liquid.

Kohaku sat on what she presumed was a medical bed and opened the ration pack. She relished the food, and examined the extras that were included for anything she might find useful.
 

Nashoba

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For two days Kohaku was confined to the same room, food and water was supplied at regular intervals. But so far she still had no idea who was watching her, and she was certain she was being observed.

She walked over to the door and tried again to open it by force. She tried a new pattern of pushing, pulling and prying with the same results. "One hundred and fourteen attempts, and still nothing." She stalked back to the 'bed' and sat on it.

After a while she heard a faint sound, and when she looked the half the wall the door was on was transparent. Beyond it she say two figures, one in the front, had brown fur with light colored spots. And people call us cat girls, these people really are cats. Well, they are showing themselves. Maybe we can finally start talking.

--------------------------------------

Saflea watched the reaction of their guest for two days now when she caused the observation wall to go transparent. The Ikâsasae was now approaching the Siama Rya, the nebula that marked the territory of her people. It also represented the point of no return, which is why the ship held position. Saflea had to decide what she was going to do with this individual.

She then walked over to the intercom, and held a translation device in her hand. She said the following in a clear crisp voice, "Greetings warrior of the Clan Amaty. I am Saflea Sayli, Ta'a of this ship."

---------------------------------------

Kohaku watched the alien walk over and pickup a device. A moment later a mechanical sounding voice was heard above her.

"Greetings. Clan Amaty soldier. I be Saflea Syli, I speak for the ship."

Kohaku considered the phraseology of message, Amaty... Yamatai perhaps... they speak for the ship... is that implying the ship is sentient and in command... are these sprites? she thought.

"Greetings, I am Kohaku-Nitô Heisho, of the Grand Star Army. Why am I here? Where is the rest of my crew?" She called out while looking at the cat person.

---------------------------------------

Saflea waited patiently as the translator worked on converting the language of the guest to Takavonai. Still bloody crude, I have no way of knowing if it is really saying what I want it to. she thought.

"Greetings, I am Kohaku-<buzz>, of the Greater Star <buzz>. "Why do I exist? Where are my shipmates sleeping."

"I doubt that she is wanting to engage in a philosophical debate. So this is not working out well. So, I think we will try another approach." she said. Saflea then set the monitors to record, and took a cart and loaded a number of objects on it. She then pushed it towards the door.

Gato her friend stepped in front of her, "What are you doing Saflea, this is one of their Daho'a? This is unwise."

"Gato, I have to decide before we continue home if this alien is poku'wumy or qourl. That worthless translation algorithm is not going to help. So I have to do this the old way." Saflea said.

"Now move aside." she said in a tone that would brook no argument.
 

Nashoba

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Kohaku had watched as one of the Felinoid aliens entered the room. She arched an eyebrow looking at the cart that was wheeled in. She did not see anything on the table that appeared to be a weapon or a threat.

She maintained a casual stance as she leaned against the table. Wonder what this is about? Some kind of test perhaps? she thought.

Three hours later, Kohaku watched as the alien whose name was Salfea left the room. They had spent most of that time establishing a rudimentary understanding of each other's language. Sharing words first for the items that had been on the cart and then using things in the room, including themselves.

So far Kohaku had gained some insights into these people, but nothing that would be truly tactical in nature. She was not sure if that intentional on the part of Saflea or just due to their limited vocabulary. From what she could tell Saflea was in charge of this ship, but she did not carry herself as a warrior would. She seemed to Kohaku to be more like a medical technician, or scientist.

Kohaku had learned some information about her status, apparently she was the only one of her crew that this vessel had found and recovered. She was unsure if she should mourn her sisters, or if they were still alive having been rescued by a Star Army vessel.

If her understanding was correct, Saflea would return the following day. But she would provide Kohaku with some of the items from her escape pod that were deemed non-tactical.

-------------------------------------------------

Saflea left the medical center and made her way to the temple. She felt a strong need to meditate and to seek guidance from Siamaka. This alien presented an incredible opportunity, but also was a potential risk to her crew and people.

She entered the temple and crossed the golden-brown carpet to approach the altar. She selected a scent stick, lit it and placed it in the holder. Saflea then stepped back and knelt before the altar and prayed.

Saflea woke a while later when Gato called her name from the entrance. She stood up and turned to him. "What is up Gato?"

"The crew is wanting to know if we are going to proceed to Sotâka Ruomâqi or not." her XO replied.

"Set our course for the nearest Fuâmy'a Ruomâqi, I am not ready to return home until I have a better understanding of our guest. If we return too soon, they will order her destruction. Anyone who wishes to go home now, can transfer to the Ruomâqi and I will arrange for transportation home."

"As you wish Ta'a, though with your permission I will remain onboard with you. You may have need of my skills." Gato replied.

Saflea smiles, "Of course you can stay my friend, although the Tanoi may not approve of our actions, so be sure this is what you want. I am going to clean up and then I will address the crew to let them know their options."

Gato nodded his acknowledgment, turned and headed for the bridge.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea sat with Kohaku in the crew eating area. They were dining together in celebration of their four week anniversary. The two individuals that chance had brought together were both working towards a better understanding.

Kohaku spoke Takavonai as if she were born to it, while Saflea was able to hand a basic conversation in Yamataian.

However, even after all their work and study, there were still matters that they stumbled over. Those were almost always cultural, and obviously it would take time to learn those as well as possible.

Gato walked up to the table, "Ta'a, we received a message from Sotâka Ruomâqi requesting a status on our mission. Also Ruoka Komuta is also wanting to know how much longer you will require the Ikâsasae. What should I reply with?"

Saflea put down her utensil, "I will handle it Gato, why don't you get yourself a meal. You have been on duty for more than the required time." she said as she stood. "Kohaku, if you will excuse me I will be back momentarily."

Saflea then left the mess are and made her way to the bridge. She took her seat and opened a channel to the brain of the ship, "Dorosil, I presume you have been monitoring the communications?"

"Yes Ta'a Syali, the Ruoka is merely wanting to hear from you regarding how much longer you will require the ship. They are not pressuring, but want to know for scheduling purposes.

As for the World Station, they have been asking for information regarding what Salvage you have gathered and when you will be returning so the remainder of the crew can have leave."

Saflea pulled up the last communications, "I do not like the tone of the World Station, someone is getting far to curious." She then quickly transferred two messages via her neural link. She informed the Ruoka that would need the ship for at least six more months due to the research she was conducting. As for the other message, she sent a list of the various mechanical and mineral samples they had gathered and informed that her crew was volunteering to remain aboard longer.

With that done she stood, "Dorosil, you have the bridge. Let me know when a packet ship is close enough to receive our message."

She left the bridge and returned to the dining area.

"Gato, Kohaku, for now our position is secure. But we are going to have to come to a decision for a long term plan. Eventually we are going to have to return hom.e"
 

Nashoba

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Kohaku had made polite conversation with Gato while Saflea went to the bridge. When Saflea had returned Kohaku could tell something was bothering the scientist.

The two of them had established a set of guidelines about what topics were open for discussion and which ones they would not. Mutually agreed was the subject of their militaries including the equipment used by them. Kohaku was learning much about the people, who salvaged her damaged escape pod, and in so doing saved her life.

“Have we reached the point where our only options are something rash? Or do you believe that you can delay the inevitable?” she asked stabbing a piece of meat from her plate. Kohaku found the food to her liking, once the cook was able to cut back a little on the seasoning.
Saflea smiled, “We are still away off from having to do something rash. My position in my Ruoka is sufficient that I can keep the ship for as long as I want. They respect my reputation; I’m more concerned about the message from World Station. It is not normal for them to get involved in ship operation.”

Gato who had been listening while he ate turned to Saflea, “So do you think that someone has broken their oath? Untied their tongue and mentioned that we have a guest?” He asked in his deep baritone voice.
Saflea paused in her eating and thought for a second, “I hope that is not the case. We kept Kohaku’s presence limited to a small number of trusted personnel. So it is my hope that all they have is reports of something unusual going on, but no details. Gato in the morning meet me on the bridge, I want to take use off the normal routes, perhaps down to a planet, where we can do some exploring while we continue our work.”

Kohaku resumed eating and processed the conversation, it was clear that someone was curious about the activities on the ship. The question was how long Saflea could keep them away, and what options they would have. Saflea was pushing the limits of her people’s laws for the opportunity to get to know her. She would have results for her Ruoka with the updates that had been made on their translation machine. Of course to present it Saflea would have to admit to having spent time with an alien. Which would then bring the inevitable question? What happened to the alien?

Saflea had informed her about the practice some of her people followed of taking slaves. That was not something Kohaku was willing to endure, as slaves were less than people with no rights. She would rather die than be a slave. It was only when Saflea called her name a second time did she realize that she was not paying attention.

“I am sorry Saflea; I was lost in thought. What did you say?”

“I wanted to know if you were up for a game of Hunter Prey later this evening.”

“I would like that very much. If you do not mind I wish to return to my quarters.” Kohaku put her napkin down and rose. With a brief nod she turned and left the mess area.

She stepped into the standard cabin that Saflea had given her access. Kohaku appreciated having a place that was not a fishbowl. She needed something to occupy her mind so she set to working on the BIES that she had salvaged out of her escape pod. She removed it for two reasons; one she did not want the technology to fall into her hosts’ people’s hands. It had taken her a week to carefully set up the necessary items from the pod to get it operational. She flipped a small switch and the unit started emitting a white noise field while she made her daily uploads.

After making her records for the day she secured the unit went in search of Saflea for their game.
 

Nashoba

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Kohaku sat in one of the resting chairs in Saflea’s quarters. On the table between them was the game board with their pieces deployed. She was contemplating her next move, when Saflea had first described the game it seemed relatively simple. But as she soon learned the dynamics made it far more complicated than she expected.

She picked up one of her Hunter pieces and prepared to place it, “So would explain to me the role of the Tonai, your council.” She placed in a neutral position against her opponents Jujal.

Saflea looked across the table at her brown haired alien companion. She was not sure if she would call her a friend. Saflea had never heard of a member of the Clan befriending an alien. The two had their difference, she being a scientist, and Kohaku a warrior. Their one shared attribute was their mutual curiosity. If it were not for Kohaku being an alien though Saflea was sure she would consider a friend.

“I am not surprised that you find the Tonai confusing, I know I am occasionally baffled by their decisions. The Tonai is part of our government system. They oversea the running of the individual city states in the World Station. They also are convened to deliberate on matters of policy for the Clan. But their power is limited when it comes to the Ruoka’ka. Since each of the great houses has a seat on the Tonai most are often reluctant to take measures that would limit how they run their Ruoka. But in some cases when they can come to an agreement, they will make mandates that affect the clan. In some ways the Tonai is a sounding board for the Mui, their relationship is a delicate balance. Because ultimate authority and responsibility for the good of the People, lies with the Mui. But without the support of the council on matters, the Mui can find his path difficult.” She moved a piece in opposition to her opponent, “But the current Tonai is still learning from the foolishness of their predecessors, and the Lean Time.”

Kohaku looked at the board while digesting what her companion told her. Politics seems to be the same no matter the species. she thought. Then spying a move she swiftly put a Hunter on the space and put Saflea’s pieces in jeopardy.

Saflea looking at the board saw that the game was lost conceded. She picked up her glass and took a drink of her wine.

“Why have you put yourself in this position Saflea? Even an outsider like me, with what I have learned from you can see that you are endangering yourself, and your family. You have broken several laws because of our relationship. It would have been better if you had killed me. Now our paths are entwined and I fear my fate or actions will have dire consequences for you. It seems an ill way to repay you for saving my life.” Kohaku said to Saflea.

“I stand by my decision, and Siamaka will judge me one day, but to my way of thinking, the opportunity to engage in dialog and exchanging information about our cultures is worth the risk. My people will eventually have to learn to deal with yours. It is my hope that our work here and now may somehow make that a peaceful one. But you have to remember, that contact with your people will happen, and the outcome will truly depend on which Ruoka and Jael are involved. The Blood Tooth will see conflict with your people as a chance for glory and battle. But to my way of thinking a war between our people would not be glorious. So I hope to convince them we are better served by perhaps fostering limited relations between our people as equals. But it will have to be done delicately. So for now, we wait and we learn.”
 

Nashoba

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Saflea was at her station on the bridge as the Ikâsasae came out of the tunnel. She brought the plasma drives online and altered their trajectory to the chosen planet. She relaxed and pulled up one of her favorite musicians latest work though the bridge speakers. As they neared orbit, she saw something that troubled her. She initiated a second sensor scan, and got the same results.

She opened the intercom channel by her Neural link, “Gato, come to the bridge. We have a problem.”

A few minutes later her XO walked onto the bridge. “What is the problem Ta’a?”

“It would appear that we have company. Sensors showed a group of Clan ships arrived here within the last twenty four hours. It looks like one of the Ruoka is conducting a Gather from this world. That means we need to make sure our guest is kept out of sight, and any sign of her presence as well. Because it is more than likely we will have visitors. Meanwhile I want everyone ready to start sample gathering as soon as we touch down so no one will be suspicious.” She replied.

“I do not believe our guest is going to be pleased with this turn of events, but I am sure she will understand the necessity. Want me to go inform her?” Gata asked.

“No, I will be the bearer of bad tidings. Stay here on the bridge and select a likely spot, and prepare to bring us down. Notify the rest of the crew.” She then stood and left the bridge to make her way to the cabin where Kohaku was. She knocked at the door and waited.

Kohaku was sitting curled up in the chair in her room, reading one of the books that Saflea loaned her. It was an interesting experience to actually read from a book instead of on a digital screen. She looked up from the book when she heard a soft knock at the door. She placed the book on the table and walked over to the door and opened it.

She looked at Saflea standing there, and from her expression she could tell something was wrong. “Come in Saflea, what is wrong?” she said moving out of the door way.

Saflea walked into the room. “I know you were looking forward to getting some time off the ship when we land. I am afraid that will not be happening. In fact I am going to have to ask you to stay in these quarters most of the time we are on planet. There are some other Clan vessels currently on the surface. We cannot leave without arousing suspicion. Once we touch down on the surface, it is likely that representatives from one or more of the ships will come to visit. When someone comes to visit, please secure the door. No one will try to open a locked door. We will bring your meals to you here when there is no one around. But if you should walk around the ship and then a visitor arrives, they will pick up your scent. We will purge the ship and flush the environmental systems, which is normal when we arrive at a habitable world. So what scent you have left will be gone.”

Kohaku listened to Saflea, “What about my leaving the ship when you land and going off into the woods or whatever the local fauna is?” she asked not wanting to spend several days confined in her room.

“That would be too risky; this is a team of Gatherers. They rarely travel on a planet without running the scanners looking for interesting specimens. We’ll be setting down on an open area that there is no reason for them to run their scanners, and being in your cabin, they will not be able to detect you.

I am sorry but for all our sakes, I must insist that you stay in your cabin, until we leave or they do.”

Kohaku nodded her agreement, “You are of course correct. If they discover me onboard, you face serious criminal charges….
Would it be possible for me to at least be able to view what you folks are seeing and exploring. Seeing the planet virtually is better than being stuck with nothing but four walls.”

Saflea smiled, “Yes, I will make the necessary arrangements, and if you should see something of interest. Please do not hesitate to say so; I will give you a private audio channel.” She turned towards the door, “I will have one of the crew bring you some extra things for your comfort, and do a sweep to make sure you haven’t left anything around.”

Kohaku watched as Saflea exited the room. She was more grateful now that she was living in one of the ‘officer’ quarters which meant a private bathroom and a larger room. She dropped into the chair and resumed reading the book.
 

Nashoba

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It was three days into her situation imposed confinement Kohaku was finding it harder than she thought to put up with the isolation. She was uncertain if being able to monitor what her ‘friends’ were doing was helping or hurting. The planet appeared to be similar to Yamatai, except not a wet. In the time they had been here, it had not rained once. As Saflea had warned there had been a number of visitors to the ship, which afforded her to see some of the various insignia or heraldry as the Qaktoro referred to it. The only stroke of luck was that the crew had found some interesting ore and was gathering it for study. Kohaku would eavesdrop from time to time to check their progress, and then return to whatever she was doing at the time.

Kohaku was reading another book that Saflea loaned her. It covered the era that she had referred to the Lean Times. She was finding it insightful into the inner working of the clan dynamics. The one advantage she found to having to read the book was it helped to pass the time.

Kohaku shifted in her chair and turned the page. A sound caught her attention and she looked up from the book she was reading. She looked at the display that Saflea had set up for her. But there was nothing on it that would account for the noise. She looked around the room to see if something had fallen or shifted, but everything was as it should be.
Wondering if one of the crew had returned early she looked to the screen, “Dorosil, please show me the interior of ship, specifically the corridor outside of this room.” She said in fluent Qaktoro.

“Certainly Kohaku.” The integrated brain replied.

The display changed and showed the corridor. It was empty. I could have sworn I heard something at the door. she thought. Then there was movement on the screen, a Qaktoro that was not part of the crew came into view.

The grey furred individual was wearing clothing with no heraldry, nothing to identify them. It then pulled what appeared to be a weapon, a pistol of some sort. In its other hand it held a small device which it placed upon the door control.

“Dorosil, send the following secure message to Saflea. “There is an unknown Qaktoro aboard the Ikâsasae. Individual is armed and appears to be trying to gain entry to my cabin.”

Kohaku surveyed the room and needed to come up with a strategy. How would she deal with an armed assailant? She crossed the room and illuminated some of the incense that the Qaktoro favored. The then grabbed one of the loaned robes and put it on. Her survival was paramount, so she decided to employ an ability that she had not revealed to her benefactors. She looked in the mirror and activated her holographic ability. Soon any part of her body not covered by clothes was now covered in faux fur and her features were altered slightly through the use of her internal hemosynth system. She did not expect to fully pass for one of the aliens, but perhaps her disguise would give her the advantage she needed to take this person out. The fact that they had a weapon drawn left no doubt in her mind that this person would most likely shoot at the slightest provocation.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea was examining the latest ore samples the team had gathered. The quality of the new material was significantly higher; it would not take long for them to get enough to take back to the ship for processing. Her communicator chimed and then Dorosil the ship’s brain’s voice was in her ear, “Ta’a, urgent message.
There is an unknown Qaktoro aboard the Ikâsasae. Individual is armed and appears to be trying to gain entry to my cabin. Kohaku.

After hearing the message she turned to her Second. “Gato there is trouble back on the Ikâsasae.” She dashed for the Scrambler, started the vehicle and drove for the ship with dirt and grass flying behind her.

Kohaku watched the monitor and braced for the encounter to come. This was not something she and Saflea had discussed. Apparently the Qaktoro never anticipated that someone would break protocol and come aboard without permission.

She quickly moved the chair and table from the center of the room, and stood so that she was near the bed and not in direct line with the door when it opened. She was weighing her options, survival was paramount, and if the intruder realized that she was an alien, there was only one option. She needed to ensure that whoever it was would never leave the ship to tell what they saw.

“Door lock has been compromised.” Dorosil reported to Saflea at the same time as Kohaku saw the door indicator show unlocked. “Dorosil, secure the ship. Jam any communications device. I do not want whoever that is to be able to report to anyone.”

A fraction of a second after the lock cycled, the cabin door opened. Kohaku tensed and kept the dagger in hand pressed against her wrist so it was out of sight. “What do you mean intruding upon my meditation.” She said with enough invective to give the intruder a moment of pause.

“You should not be here. All of the crew is off the ship.” the intruder said warily, his weapon still drawn but not pointing at her.

“I am not a member of the crew. I am a guest of Saflea of Ruoka Komuta. Who are you and what do you mean by forcing your way in?” Kohaku kept direct contact with the intruder, watching his eyes for any hint that he was about to act.

When he did make his move she almost missed his tell. He was fast but her NH-17 reflexes were faster. She narrowly avoided his first shot and closed with him. She grabbed his weapon hand and pushed it away. The force of her impact slamming his hand into the wall caused him to drop the firearm. But just as fast as he lost that weapon he brought a knife out with the other. Kohaku kicked the unknown firearm away from him and under the bed to prevent her opponent from retrieving it.

Knife fighting was nothing new to Kohaku, and she knew from her studies that all Qaktoro learned to fight with them as well. The two of them separated. Kohaku had no desire to stab this person to death only to die the same way. In a defensive posture she studied him. They circled the room warily, each feinting, trying to draw out the other assessing their foe.

Kohaku moved in quickly with her Nekovalkyrja agility for an attack, their blades and arms flew in a flurry of movements, then she then whirled to the side and resumed her defensive posture. She could feel a number of minor gashes, none were serious and her NH-17 metabolism was already working to stanch the blood flow. Her opponent was fast and he was good, she figured he was a male by his build. She had managed to get a in a few licks of her own, and gave him a rather nasty gash on his left forearm.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea accelerated the Scrambler pushing its engine close to the red line when Dorosil informed her that the intruder had gained entry to Kohaku’s cabin. The Integrated Brain could not see into the cabin, because Saflea had physically disconnected the cameras to prevent anyone visiting from happening to see footage of the supposedly empty cabin. “By Siamaka I’ll have the fangs of whoever is behind this.” She said through gritted teeth as the Scrambler bounded over a hillock and went airborne for a moment.

Kohaku dodged to the right and blocked with her knife as her attacker decided to go on the offensive. She tried a leg sweep but the Qaktoro handily avoided it and returned with a kick of his own. Kohaku grabbed his foot just short of impact and using her NH-17 strength shoved her attacker across the room.

She closed on him and transferred her knife to her other hand. It did not matter to her what hand she used being ambidextrous, but it might give her attacker a moment of pause while having to adjust. She slashed at her target as he moved; she felt the blade bite into his flesh as he moved. She saw blood flow freely from a slash that covered half his back.

When her attacker regained his footing, he lunged at her bodily, grappling with her and trying to force her back bodily. She felt his claws sink into her back, which brought a hiss through her clenched teeth. With her right hand she grabbed the back of his head and pulled to keep him from trying to sink his teeth into her throat. She ignored his fetid breath and plunged her dagger into his back, her first strike was off, but the second one she knew hit what she wanted. Her attackers grip on her back started to slacken. When she felt his claws released she pulled him away from her and let him fall to the floor.

She stood over him watching his chest rise and fall a few more times before he went still. It was only after she checked his pulse and found none that she pulled her dagger from his back covered in blood from being plunged into his heart.
 

Nashoba

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Kohaku moved away from the body, her back burning with pain. It was hurting her more than it should from the physical wound. It felt like fire was coursing through the muscles of her back causing her to slump to the floor. She closed her eyes, and focused her attention inward directing her internal hemosynth to the injury site and started to analyze the damage. She let go of her disguise and let her appearance return to normal. Her body’s diagnostics showed that there was a virulent toxin in the wound site and it was moving into her circulatory system.

Saflea brought the Scrambler to a halt just short of the Ikâsasae in a shower of dust and gravel. She exited the vehicle without shutting it down, and ran up the cargo ramp. “Dorosil, release the lock down. Give me a status report.” she said drawing her sidearm and moving towards the door to the interior.

“Releasing all security doors, Ta’a. Cycling the isolation doors, you should have a clear path to Kohaku’s quarters. Neither of them has emerged from the room. “ the integrated brain replied.

Saflea made her way to the upper deck and opened the door to the cabin. The smell of blood was the first thing to hit her senses. A quick survey of the room showed that a fight had taken place, and there was a Qaktoro face down on the floor in a pool of blood and Kohaku lying against the bed with her eyes closed but breathing. Her complexion was definitely off. There was blood running down her back. She tried to move the Neko whose eyes flew open.

“Kohaku, can you stand? We need to get you to medical.”

“I can try; my back feels like it is burning? Do Qaktoro have venom on their claws?” She asked as she struggled to her feet.

Saflea offered her support to Kohaku, “No, at least not naturally. This person is obviously a Degonjo Ta'a, criminal in your tongue. So he could have put something on them to help in the fight.”

Together they made their way to the medbay, “Dorosil, send a message to Gato secure channel only. Advise him to tell the others to start packing up and prepare to leave this world.”

She helped Kohaku get onto the examination table, the Neko opting to lie face down on the table. Saflea picked up a healing wand and started scanning the injuries. She grabbed an irrigation tool and a suction device and started cleaning the wound and doing what she could to remove the toxin from the wound.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea stood in the medical room looking into the observation area. The Ikâsasae floated silent in the void, far from any star system. Gato stood next to her, clearly as concerned as she was.

"Ta'a, is there any change in her condition?" he inquired.

"Some, her vital signs are improving her core temperature is approaching what is normal for her species. Although the poison that was used, is not one in the database. If it had been any of us though, death would have taken place in fifteen seconds. It is lucky for Hokahu that her physiology is different." Saflea said and walked over to the desk and plopped into the chair.

"That is not what truly concerns me. That person was an assassin, one of the Hidden. Whoever sent them is going to eventually wonder what happened to them; and of course there is the chance that they will try again. We have no idea who is behind that, so we do not know who to trust and who not too. We are sailing in dark waters my friend; and I am uncertain where our journey will end."

From the observation room a loud groan could be heard.
 

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Kohaku fought her way to consciousness. She lost track of how long her body had been battling the toxin she had been struck with. But her hemosynthetic system was finally able to break down the poison and neutralize it.

Once her eyes were open, Kohaku forced herself into an upright position. She steadied herself as the world spun for a moment. "Saf..." she croaked, she tried again. "Saflea.... are you here?" she called out hoarsely.

"I am in the observation room, I will be with you in a moment." came the Qaktoro's reply.

Kohaku slid off the medical bed, and forced herself to stand straight. She walked across the room and poured a glass of water and downed it. She was working on her second one when the door opened and Saflea entered.

"It is good to see you up and moving my friend."

Kohaku made her way to a chair and sat, doing her best to not show how ragged she felt. "So do you have any idea who that was that tried to kill me? Who he was with?"

Saflea joined her friend and took a seat. "He was not a registered member of the ship's that were present. He wore no Jael heraldry. I suspect he was of the Degonjo Ta'a.... They are those who break the laws. They exist within our society, but hide in plain sight in other sects."

"We're not on the planet, so where are we headed?"

"At present we are preparing to tunnel our way to point outside of our normal sphere of operation. It will give us time to decide what our next step should be. Why don't you return to your cabin and clean up. Then join us in the dining hall."

"Sounds good, I'm sure I am rather offensive to your nose, and I could definitely use some food." Kohaku said as she rose. "I will see you in twenty minutes.
 

Nashoba

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While Kohaku was showering in her cabin, she linked to the BIES from her escape pod and used it to peruse Clan Law, looking for a viable solution. The Râyjo Vonai (Bound People) seemed to hold potential. She would be invoking an ancient ruling, but if successful it would mean her freedom, and protect the crew of the ship would risked so much for her. The only remaining challenge was to convince Saflea and the others.

Once she was satisfied that she was clean enough, she stepped out, dried off and got dressed. She made her way to the dining hall.
 

Nashoba

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Saflea was toying with her food, she was too troubled at the moment to really enjoy it. What are we going to do? What mistake did I make? I stand by my decision to keep Kohaku with us, but how did someone find out? For that matter does someone really know? I do not have any enemies that I am aware of. So the only possibility is related to Kohaku. she thought.

She looked up from her food when she heard the door to the dining room open, and Kohaku walked in. She still marveled at the recuperative powers of the alien physiology.

She smiled but it never quite reached her eyes when Kohaku approached.

"Hello Saflea, Gato, why such long faces? It took some time but I believe I found a solution to our problem."

"Really? I would very much like to know what you have planned." she said.

Kohaku took a seat opposite Saflea, and ate a few mouthfuls, and washed it down with what the Qaktoro considered coffee.

"Its a simple matter of law." she said to Saflea cryptically.

Saflea waited a moment for her friend to continue.

"According to you these are the scenarios. We stay out here refuse to return to your home system. You and your crew become branded rogue and hunted down and eventually the ship and all of you are destroyed and killed.

We return home, and you turn me over to the clan. You get disciplined, and I wind up dissected or worse.

You drop me off some where, return home. You get killed for risking the security of the clan. They check the ship logs and search each planet you approached for me.

So based on what you told me, we are pretty much screwed no matter what we do based on that information.

But, there is an alternative. I looked through the clan law and history. In the days before your Norka, the exodus you told me about. Your people took prisoners when the fought a group. Most of the time those prisoners were slaves. But there is an alternative. It was the right of a clan member to claim responsibility for a prisoner. That person would swear to obey that person and were given a special status. The term in your language is Râyjo Vonai or Bound People in mine.

When your people met other races, the aliens were eventually given their freedom and allowed to stay with the clan as part of the family who bound them. But more importantly, they could take the Baqnor, and earn clan status. It has not happened very often, but the laws are still on the books.

So we use the traditions of your people and you make me your Râyjo Vona. As long as we do not go to World Station, I am free to travel with you. Then you folks need to teach me all you can about the clan, your duel blade skill and when we finally do return to World Station, I make the request for the Bagnor. "

Saflea listened to all that Kohaku had said, she thought about it, the logic of the situation was sound. If the laws were still present then the Tonai would have to obey it. It just might work.
 
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