Introduction To Inara Khalef

[14:15] <Minaplo> [Date: April 17th, 2048. Location: 'The Spurhand', Platypus Clan Home Fortress, Titan, Saturn Sphere, Sol System.-
[14:17] <Minaplo> [0500 Hours: Rousing. Comrades must go to wash and prepare for the day.-
[14:17] <Minaplo> [0530 hours: Mondays only: weekly meal.-
[14:17] <Minaplo> [0600 hours: Morning equipment check. Power armour and weapons given first priority, then accessories, tools and vehicles.-
[14:18] <Minaplo> [0800 hours: First combat drill. Comrades form into squads, and the winning squad is rewarded with one serving of the Great Meal.-
[14:19] <Minaplo> [1200 hours: Break. Comrades debrief and put to rest any grudges from training. They also praise successes.-
[14:20] <Minaplo> [1300 hours: First theory class. Comrades are educated on a variety of topics related to combat, namely military tactics, history, and equipment understanding.-
[14:28] <Minaplo> [1500 hours: Second combat drill. Comrades form into Spearheads and run combat drills using vehicles. The winning Spearhead elects a single company, who are rewarded with one serving of the Great Meal.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [1700 hours: Specialists depart to their sections to work and study. Generalists use this time to broaden their horizons, learning about whichever they choose.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [2000 hours: Hide and Seek.-
[14:30] <Minaplo> [2100 hours: Free Time.-
[14:31] <Minaplo> [0100 Hours: Curfew.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> [This was the day that Comrade Specialist Inara Khalef had to look forward to.-
[14:34] <Minaplo> [It was much like the day before.-
[14:37] <Minaplo> [Tomorrow was a saturday, which meant half a day off, and one less combat drill.-
[14:38] <Minaplo> [The fortress wake-up sounded.-
[14:38] <Minaplo> [It sounded like someone trying to use a trumpet to play a digital alarm clock klaxon.-
[14:39] <Minaplo> [And so at 0500 hours, Inara Khalef would be roused, within her little dormitory- a four by five metre space with a bed, small desk, television, closet and window out onto the purple-indigo sky of Titan.]
[14:47] <Inara> Inara had never been a morning person event under the best circumstances. Beds were warm, inviting and filled with dreams of the very best luxuries in the entire universe. And Titan was… Titan. Unfortunately, rolling over and shutting her eyes again was not an option. She crawled out from beneath her blankets, and in the privacy of her room, allowed herself her first and last
[14:47] <Inara> grumble of the day. -
[14:57] <Inara> Communial shower, with all of its bleary-eyed pleasantries. Toothbrush. She raked her hair, all long, black and unruly - back into a presentable slicked-back ponytail. Clothes. She lingered in her room for a solid minute, hovering over the medical textbooks stacked by her bed. She might have gotten through a paragraph at the most before she had time to leave. Not worth it. -
[15:01] <Inara> So instead she left the dorms earlier than usual. What was the weather like on Titan today?
[15:04] <Minaplo> [Thick clouds were gathering in the sky. Not unusual. It might rain later.-
[15:04] <Minaplo> [That meant vehicle combat drill in a foot of mud.-
[15:04] <Minaplo> [Which was fine for the vehicles, they hovered.-
[15:07] <Minaplo> [But Titan was cold. It was always cold. Here, the sun was just a very bright star. Most of the light came from Saturn, which dominated the sky most of the time.-
[15:07] <Minaplo> [Which meant that Titan was also perpetually in twilight.-
[15:08] <Minaplo> [Rain was a luxury. Usually it was snow.-
[15:09] <Minaplo> [So all in all, a good weather day.]
[15:26] <Inara> At least for now, nothing would hamper her progress as she dashed around. Her destination was "the farm". And if she calculated it correctly, she would have twenty minutes instead of the usual ten to spend there this morning. Yay for her. And yay for her precious charges, too, who would no doubt greet her with their usual enthusiasm. -
[15:36] <Inara> For her part, however, she was only interested in one particular creature. A fuzzy little thing with a maw like a chainsaw that she had personally treated for a broken limb some days prior. Yesterday he had been fine, but one could never be too careful. If she recalled correctly, the species was unusually fragile compared to the usual lot her Comrades tended to round up on their
[15:36] <Inara> trips off the moon…
[15:37] <Minaplo> [The Farm was noisy, raucous and damp-smelling as usual.-
[15:38] <Minaplo> [The Chimeran Ripper-Squirrel had been retrieved from the planet Chimera, home to the Echidna Clan. Apparently, it wasn't considered very dangerous.-
[15:40] <Minaplo> [The creature quietly hung from the small jungle-gym that had been installed within its cage. Its weak arm didn't have its proper grip back, but it was enough to hang from the pastel green bars.-
[15:40] <Minaplo> [The creature eyed Inara for a moment, then turned back toward the bars. It opened its mouth- showing four dozen rows of sharp serrated teeth- which it ground back and forth on the surovite metal.-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [Inara would notice, mixed in with the leaves, wet grass and droppings at the bottom of the cage, a little finger-bone. Some idiot had put their finger in the cage, and naturally the Ripper-Squirrel had bitten it clean off.-
[15:41] <Minaplo> [It didn't attack Inara, though…]
[15:52] <Inara> It didn't attack her because she was careful and also not an idiot. "Morning, Frank," she murmured, putting on the protective, nigh-indestructable gauntlets she'd brought with her. She had been warned about giving them names, so she only used them when she was sure she wouldn't be overheard. "Looks like your appetite's come back, hm?"
[15:55] <Minaplo> [Frank bared his teeth at her, little scraps of flesh and nail caught between tooth and gum. Then it went back to sharpening its teeth on the surovite bars.]
[15:59] <Inara> The examination went as well as could be expected. She suffered no major lacerations or amputations, and she managed to clean Frank's cage when it was over. "You're doing fine, buddy," she told him when she was finished locking up. "Few more days and you'll be swinging from that arm in no time." -
[16:06] <Inara> After that, she recorded her observations. All of them, even the obvious mundane things. It never hurt to be meticulous, after all. She only stopped when it was time to go, her head snapping up sharply. She hadn't been looking at a clock, but somehow she knew that it was ten minutes until Equipment Check and that it was time to hurry along. After so many mornings of the same
[16:06] <Inara> routine, how could she not know? -
[16:09] <Inara> So she hurried along, quickly packing away her gear and recorder.
[16:12] <Minaplo> [Equipment Check. Two hours of slowly checking her power armour, stripping down her bolter, testing her medi-glove, restocking her medikit and, of course, plugging a drip into her body so her excess biogel- naturally excreted by a special organ in her body- could drain into a sack. Every Comrade did this. Biogel was an important export for the Clans.-
[16:13] <Minaplo> [No one had ever told her as a child where biogel came from…-
16:19] <Minaplo> [Then, combat. Climbing into her power armour, the torso piece of which connected into ports just beneath her flesh. It didn't hurt. It felt weird at first, but now it was strangely reassuring.-
[16:19] <Minaplo> [And then…-
[16:19] <Minaplo> [Battlefield actions. A hundred squads of ten, fighting for four hours with high powered maser rifles. Live rounds.-
[16:20] <Minaplo> [The little maser bolts weren't enough to deal damage through armour. Instead, complex computer simulations treated the maser bolts like proper bolter rounds, the kind that tore people apart.-
[16:21] <Minaplo> [And so Inara would see the sight of three maser bolts strike her squadmate Isaac in the leg. His armour seized up and he fell, face-first, into mud.-
[16:21] <Minaplo> ["Inaaaaaaaaaara." Moaned Isaac. "Do the thing."]
[16:27] <Inara> "One thing, coming right up," she said dryly and fiddled with her mediglove. The very same thing had happened the day before, hadn't it? The same guy, with the exact same injury…? "You forget how to dodge or something?"
[16:28] <Minaplo> ["I think Squad Seven has me figured out. We need to change up tactics." Said Isaac. "Sergeant!"-
[16:29] <Minaplo> [But Sergeant Inako was busy. She had just charged Isaac's shooters, picked one up by the face and slammed him over her knee. An audible crack was heard.-
[16:29] <Minaplo> ["I think Inako just broke that guy's back. Quartermaster Haile is gonna love having to repair that armour. Alright. Inara, listen to me, okay?"]
[16:30] <Inara> "I'm listening?"
[16:31] <Minaplo> ["I need you to take marksman duty." Said Isaac. "You reckon you can do it?"]
[16:39] <Inara> "Always up for a change of pace. Think it'll be enough to throw them off?"
[16:40] <Minaplo> [Sergeant Inako tried to use the hapless Immortal in her hands as a shield, only to be shot in the head by a marksman on a nearby building. She fell backwards, Immortal on top of her.-
[16:40] <Minaplo> ["It will have to be." Said Isaac, thrusting his stalker bolter into Inara's hands. "Inara… Think about the Great Meal."]
[16:46] <Inara> "The Great Meal…" There was a moment of quiet reverence, but Inara broke it just as quickly. "Just try not to follow our great Sergeant over there, yeah?" Then she vanished with the bolter. Or, rather, she slipped away under the little cover that was around them, quickly sorting out a good place to lay low and take her shots.
[17:02] <Inara> Inara had never liked bolters. They were messy, and they didn't require all that much in the way of fine precision. It was the difference between shooting an apple through with an arrow and smashing it to bits with a baseball bat. It was still murder, but one was more… artistic? She supposed. -
[17:18] <Inara> Still, she had to work with that she had, and it wasn't as if she knew much about art anyway. She lined up her first shot - some poor schmuck darting from one rock formation to another - and pulled the trigger. The legs of his armor seized up before he could clear the distance, and he toppled over on the spot. Inara switched gears immediately, scoping, seeking… -
[17:36] <Inara> Squad Seven didn't make it easy. There weren't any mad dashes to her location until the end, but just spotting the others she picked off in that time was an ordeal. They were good at hiding, but so was she, even when she was on the move. She rolled into ditches, swept along wind-battered rock formations, crawled through muck and clay on her belly and then waited, each time, for some
[17:36] <Inara> bit of movement from the other side. Estimate, aim and fire. Once she started seeing mazer bolts blazing in her general direction, she moved again… -
[17:48] <Inara> Finally, instead of gunfire, she got an Immortal charging for her. One who sidestepped her shots with the ease of a little kid hopping over a sidewalk puddle, and who seemed to amp up the speed the closer he got to the top of the hill she was perched upon at the time. He was nearly on top of her before she nailed him in the shoulder and sent him sliding back down, cursing. She took
[17:48] <Inara> a deep breath after that one. "Fuck," she muttered.
[17:51] <Minaplo> [Silence.-
[17:51] <Minaplo> [All around her, the mud and rain squelched quietly together, unhindered by the stomp of angry Immortal feet or the searing scream of maser bolt.-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [The siren sounded.-
[17:52] <Minaplo> ["Combat drill has concluded. Point tally is being conducted. Please wait." Said the little computer voice in her helmet.-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [And then it blinked. A list of squads and their points flashed onto her HUD. Right at the top…-
[17:52] <Minaplo> [Her squad!]
[17:58] <Inara> A little thrill pushed her disbelief aside. They had pulled it off? She quickly looked up, listening for sounds of cheering. Where the hell even was the rest of her squad?
[17:59] <Minaplo> [According to her count, half the squad was down. Isaac had crawled into a building to take pot shots, and Sergeant Inako was, inexplicably, eight kilometres away.-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["We did it." Said Isaac over the team comms. "Goddamn! Good shooting, Inara."-
[18:00] <Minaplo> ["I'm glad they chose you to be a doctor, or else I'd be just another loser."]
[18:06] <Inara> "Mmph. Don't make such a big fuss of it," she muttered, but a bit of pleasure slipped into her voice in spite of herself. "Just think about the Great Meal."
[18:06] <Minaplo> ["The Great Meal…"-
[18:07] <Minaplo> […-
[18:09] <Minaplo> [After a wash and chance to remove their armour, the clan's present members returned to the great hall- a truly enormous room, the size of a very, very large football stadium. Or larger, even.-
[18:10] <Minaplo> [The heads of the clan- those who were present- sat at the very end. Barely pinpricks to most, but for this day only, Inara and her squad were seated at the front.-
[18:13] <Minaplo> [The Eran-Spahbed had made a short speech praising everyone's performances and criticising certain weaknesses…-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Honorable mentiont to Sergeant Inako for cleaving a Comrade's spine in half." Said the Eran-Spahbed approvingly.-
[18:14] <Minaplo> ["Dishonorable mention for also breaking his bloody armour." Snapped the Chief Quartermaster.-
[18:14] <Minaplo> [A roar of laughter ripped through the clan. Many began banging on tables.-
[18:15] <Minaplo> ["But! We have left you all long enough. We have all seen the footage of young Comrade Inara gunning down Comrade Tomas just as he was about to tear her head off, and such play- and indeed such a solid effort- deserves a reward. Bring forth the Great Meal!"-
[18:16] <Minaplo> [Ten young apprentices- normal humans, wearing simple clothing- stepped into the great hall, each bearing a silver platter, on which sat six chicken parmigiana tortillas. The apprentices stroked the tortillas reverently as they went.-
[18:16] <Minaplo> [And before long, Inara and her squad would have each of these platters to themselves…]
[18:21] <Inara> An entire platter, with six delicious tortillas… Inara stared at hers with wide eyes before digging in.
[18:21] <Minaplo> [And such was life at the Spurhand.-
[18:21] <Minaplo> […-
[18:22] <Minaplo> [Instead of going to theory class, however, Inara was called away. She had a meeting with Professor Rumbledore to attend.]
[18:41] <Inara> [03:34] <Inara> And so she went, somberly. She knew what he wanted to speak to her about, of course, but had only the vaguest idea of how it would actually go. She knocked on his office door, and waited for his response.
[18:41] <Minaplo> [He opened the door personally. "Ah, Comrade Inara."-
[18:45] <Minaplo> [Professor Kalevi Nikula was a little short for an Immortal, yet held himself with a presence that made him seem taller. He was pale, with a short white beard. Everyone called him Rumbledore. No one knew why.-
[18:45] <Minaplo> ["I heard you won today's Great Meal. I'm impressed!"]
[13:55] <Inara> "Heh. Thanks. We were getting slaughtered at first, but we turned it around. I guess there's something to be said for trying new strategies on the spur of the moment."
[13:56] <Minaplo> ["Those who cling to strategies that no longer work… We have a word for them." Said Rumbledore. "It's 'extinct'."-
[13:57] <Minaplo> [Rumbledore walked back to his desk. His office was fairly large, and stocked with strange curios- stuffed animals, creatures in vats of liquid, many big books…-
[13:57] <Minaplo> ["But then again, change has been the theme of your life recently, hasn't it?"]
[14:03] <Inara> "You could definitely say that, sir," she said after a quiet moment. "Tomorrow's going to feel weird…"
[14:04] <Minaplo> ["Are you worried?"]
[14:08] * Inara shook her head. "No. To be honest, sir, it just doesn't feel real yet."
[14:13] <Minaplo> ["Understandable. It's been awhile since you've spent much time among biotypicals, hasn't it?"]
[14:21] <Inara> "About four years now. I can't tell if that's a long time or a short time."
[14:23] <Minaplo> ["I've always found that years are like cups. It's not the size that's important, but rather the contents." Said Rumbledore. "And have the contents of your four-year draught pleased you?"]
[14:25] * Inara considered her answer carefully. "Yes. I've learned a tremendous amount. It's all thanks to you, sir."
[14:34] <Minaplo> ["That's kind of you to say, but we are like the platypus: we draw ourselves from many different sources." Said Rumbledore. "You have had many teachers here, including yourself."]
[14:37] <Inara> "That's true. But you're the one who pulled me into this training to begin with."
[14:38] <Minaplo> ["But you were the one who accepted."]
[14:39] <Inara> "I… well, that's also true," was all she could think to say to that.
[14:39] <Minaplo> [Rumbledore smiled widely.-
[14:40] <Minaplo> ["I think you'll find it interesting just how much you've changed- which will become obvious once you are required to spend time around biotypicals. I'm hoping you use it as a learning experience."]
[14:45] <Inara> "Oh, I will." Inara gave a firm nod. "I plan to write lots of reports based on my observations. With luck, you'll see some of them published one day."
[14:50] <Minaplo> ["That would be wonderful." Said Rumbledore.-
[14:52] <Minaplo> ["Now… I arranged for a going-away present for you."]
[14:53] <Inara> Unexpected. Inara decided to take it in stride. Maybe it was more of those delectable tortillas… "That's very kind of you, sir."
[14:55] <Minaplo> [Rumbledore began waving his hand in a slow, languid circle. After a few moments, a black inky line formed in the trail of his finger. When the line connected with itself, it solidifed into a small dirac breach.-
[15:06] <Minaplo> [Nothing came out. Not for a minute, after Rumbledore began coaxing something out.-
[15:10] <Minaplo> [What came out was… An animal. The thing it resembled most was a cat. Yet it wasn't any sort of cat she was familiar with: its silky fur was long and smooth, and its paws had one extra digit. Yet most notable was the little gem-like things that sat above its vivid violet eyes, diamond-clear, seeming to grow out of the flesh.-
[15:11] <Minaplo> [It stared up at Inara. Oddly, Inara felt as though she saw recognition in its eyes.]
[15:17] <Inara> Inara gave the little creature a long, surprised stare back before shifting it over to Rumbledore. "For me…?"
[15:19] <Minaplo> ["Yes. It's not a creature native to the Federation." Said Rumbledore. "This is what the Defectors call the Stalker-of-Dreams."]
[15:24] <Inara> "Stalker-of-Dreams… Is it venomous? Does it have any dangerous properties?"
[15:24] <Minaplo> ["Physically, it's quite harmless unless you're a small mammal." Said Rumbledore.-
[15:27] <Minaplo> ["You see, these things hail from the Defector Homeworld. The Defectors took some with them when they went, all those thousands of years ago, and have bred them ever since. You see, a Stalker-of-Dreams are drawn to those who have the potential for telepathy, such as ourselves. They bond mentally with one of us, and in exchange for shelter, protect its partner's dreams."]
[15:31] <Inara> "So you're gonna protect my dreams, huh?" Assured that she wouldn't end up like Frank's last victim, Inara held out a large hand, letting it hover in front of the kitty so that it could get used to her scent.
[15:34] <Minaplo> [The Stalker-of-Dreams sniffed at her hand curiously, then leapt off the table to sit at her feet.-
[15:34] <Minaplo> ["Its name is Alereb." Said Rumbledore. "In time, you and she should become very good friends."]
[15:38] <Inara> "As for food… you suggested that small rodents will do. I'll look into providing fresh ones while she's with me. Also… if you know her name, does that mean she's bonded with you?"
[15:39] <Minaplo> ["No, I only bought her the other day."]
[15:48] * Inara nodded. "All right. Just as you have given me the privilege of caring for her, I will leave a copy of all the notes I've taken during my duties at The Farm. They might be useful to whoever ends up being my replacement."
[15:49] <Minaplo> ["Naturally. You've been a worthwhile worker of this place; we'll miss you around here."]
[15:50] <Inara> "Thank you, sir. And thank you Alereb as well."
[15:50] <Inara> ^thank you for Alereb
[15:53] <Minaplo> [Rumbledore gave her a firm nod. "Now, go along- you have duties."]
[15:54] <Inara> "Of course." She saluted sharply. "Goodbye, sir."
[15:55] <Minaplo> ["Goodbye, Comrade Inara."]
[16:04] <Inara> Inara finished out the second combat drill without much fanfare. She and her squadmates lost this time. Still, for the most part they were all smiles and playful arm-punches by the time she said her goodbyes to them at the end of their debriefing. At the Farm, she surrendered copies of her excessive audio files and written notes as promised, petting most of her charges while giving
[16:04] <Inara> the other more dangerous ones a verbal farewell. She would probably miss Frank most of all…
[16:04] <Minaplo> [Frank's teeth-grinding seemed a little sad as well.-
[16:05] <Minaplo> [And then finally, one more sleep…-
[16:06] <Minaplo> [Going to the Cydonian Fleet Yard wasn't hard. They'd set up a dirac gate at some point. All she had to do was step through…-
[16:07] <Minaplo> [… And she would find herself on the other side of the solar system. The twilight of the Spurhand, of Titan, gave way to the bright whiteness of Starfleet lighting. It was warm here, too, and the ground was made of an inoffensive surovite plating instead of rock.-
[16:16] <Minaplo> [Waiting for Inara was someone wearing standard-issue power armour. They were white, with black hair worn to the neck; a beard and goatee; and amber eyes- although the left one was, Inara noticed immediately, cybernetic: the iris was a little more red.-
[16:19] <Minaplo> ["Doctor Khalef, I presume?" asked the Marine. "Lieutenant Koumei Zima, Chief of Marines aboard the FSS Valletta."]
[16:25] <Inara> "Lieutenant." She saluted with her free hand, as her dominant one was firmly clutching a large cat carrier. But… something felt off. Her perspective? Ah. Everyone and everything was so tiny…
[16:29] <Minaplo> [Indeed, Zima had to crane their head back to look at Inara. "Are you ready to go, Doctor?"]
[16:33] <Inara> "Certainly." She squared herself, peering down at him. How would she look like from Zima's perspective? She remembered back to her own first time meeting the Immortal Platypus clan, before her implants. They'd seemed rather frightening at first. But the Lieutenant did not seem phased. "Please lead the way."
[16:37] <Inara> ^peering down at them.
[16:38] <Minaplo> [Zima led Inara through the corridors toward the boarding dock. Through the odd window, Inara would catch glimpses of the Valletta itself.-
[16:38] <Minaplo> ["Is this your first time on board a Starfleet vessel, Doctor?"]
[16:41] <Inara> "It is," Inara stared at the Valletta hard, as if committing it to memory. "You must be incredibly busy right now, so you have my appreciation for meeting me here."
[16:43] <Minaplo> ["You're welcome, Doctor. It's only customary for the Chief of Marines to make meeting the Doctor a priority- for obvious reasons…"]
[16:58] <Inara> "Well, yes. I suppose it'd be ususual to make Chief of Marines without seeing your fair share of fighting drills… and injuries."
[14:35] <Minaplo> ["First in and last out." Said Zima, tapping their cybernetic eye.]
[14:43] <Inara> "I'm sure that was nice and painful. They better have given you a bonus and a vacation for that."
[14:47] <Minaplo> ["Is that what they do in the Clans whenever one of you loses an eye?"]
[14:52] <Inara> "Pfft. If they were feeling charitable they'd slap an eyepatch on you. Then it's straight back to training so you can get made fun of by your squadmates."
[14:53] <Minaplo> ["Typical. How long does it take for an Immortal to regrow an eye?"]
[14:54] <Inara> "It'd be back by the end of the day, no problem."
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["Handy." Said Zima.-
[15:01] <Minaplo> ["Personal question, do you mind?"]
[15:02] <Inara> "Be my guest."
[15:04] <Minaplo> ["Is it true that Immortals sometimes exchange their arms to symbolise friendship?"]
[15:15] <Inara> "Myth," she said flatly. "Maybe the guys in that Cassowary Clan might do it, 'cause they're weird like that, but limb transplants are trouble for everyone and expensive as hell."
[15:17] <Minaplo> ["Oh, no. I didn't mean transplants. I meant like…"-
[15:17] <Minaplo> [They made a gesture with their hands, as though biting into something. "… Eating them."]
[15:23] * Inara tilted her head, her expression shifting to something more curious. "Well it's the first time I've heard about something like that," she said slowly. "But I wonder…"
[15:26] <Minaplo> ["… Yeah?"]
[15:27] <Inara> "It'd taste really nasty, don't you think?"
[15:28] <Minaplo> ["I, er, wouldn't know."]
[15:29] <Inara> "It would," she decided with a firm nod. "Anyway, my clan never did that kind of thing. Wouldn't rule it out entirely, though."
[15:35] <Minaplo> ["… Good enough."-
[15:35] <Minaplo> [They stepped onto an elevator.-
[15:36] <Minaplo> [In her cage, Alereb squirmed and experimentally slapped at the carrier door.-
[15:36] <Minaplo> [Zima shot Inara- and the cage- a quizzical look.]
[15:40] <Inara> "Oh. This is Al. She's getting bored, I think." She hefted the cage up slightly so Zima could see into it.
[16:02] <Minaplo> [They squinted. "What breed of cat is that? Is it a Titan cat or something?"]
[16:10] <Inara> "Titan doesn't have any native species. She's actually from the Defector homeworld! Or her species is, anyway. She was probably born on a Defector ship."
[16:10] <Minaplo> ["Huh. They have cats too?"]
[16:12] <Inara> "Sorta. They're called Stalkers-of-Dreams. They're basically cats, but more telepathic."
[16:15] <Minaplo> ["Who wants a telepathic cat?"]
[16:17] <Inara> "It has its perks. They're supposed to be able to eat nightmares."
[16:20] <Minaplo> ["Oh."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> [Zima straightened up and coughed. "I'm sorry. I didn't realise- Nevermind. Here we are."-
[16:20] <Minaplo> [They power-walked out of the corridor, ears burning.]
[16:23] * Inara casually followed, puzzled, but still in high spirits.
[16:25] <Minaplo> [They came to a boarding ramp now: a long extendible tube plugged into one of the docking bays of the Valletta. Both doors were open.-
[16:26] <Minaplo> ["Here we are, Doctor."]
[16:31] <Inara> "Thanks!" She tried it out. Any trouble fitting into or emerging from said tube?
[16:32] <Minaplo> [No. It was large enough to accommodate a battle tank if necessary.-
[16:32] <Minaplo> ["I have some other duties to attend to on this side." Said Zima. They shot Inara another salute. "It was good to meet you, doctor."-
[16:33] <Minaplo> ["… And remember, you're not alone here." Said Zima firmly. "We'll look out for you, I promise."]
[16:34] <Inara> "Same." She saluted back. "Drop by the medical bay sometime, even if you aren't injured."
[16:36] <Minaplo> ["Will do, Doctor."-
[16:36] <Minaplo> [And with that, they headed off.-
[16:41] <Minaplo> [Alereb let out a meow. Except it didn't sound like a cat meow, but rather like a long, high theremin note as heard in a foggy tunnel.]
[16:45] <Inara> "C'mon Al, hang in there a little longer. I'll let you out… as soon as I figure out where my quarters are. Damn."
[16:47] <Minaplo> ["Did Zima not tell you where they were?" Asked a voice right at Inara's left ear.]
[16:53] * Inara started! But to her credit, she didn't whirl away from the voice. Instead she turned towards it, slowly but sanely. "He was in a hurry, so no," she tried to explain. "Also, hello."
[17:02] <Minaplo> [A tall black young man with short hair was floating behind her, completely at home in zero gravity despite wearing no grav boots or anything- AT Field only, then. He was smiling, pleased with himself. "I got a Platypus. Tables have turned, Doctor."]
[17:07] <Inara> "You got lucky is what you got."
[17:10] <Minaplo> [He laughed.-
[17:10] <Minaplo> ["Idris." He said, holding out his hand. "Idris El-Hashem, Starship Evangelion."]
[17:13] <Inara> "Doctor Khalef." Her hand dwarfed his as she shook it. "But you probably already knew that. This is my catlike pet. Al."
[17:21] <Minaplo> ["Oh, it's a Stalker. Interesting." Said Idris.-
[17:22] <Minaplo> ["Here, let me show you to your quarters?"]
[17:26] <Inara> "If you don't mind. Thanks."
[17:28] <Minaplo> [But he didn't lead her anywhere except to the wall. There was a black computerised strip running horizontally at shoulder-height across it. From what Inara could see, it was on every wall.-
[17:28] <Minaplo> [He placed his hand on the strip. "Simurgh? Lead me to Doctor Inara Khalef's private quarters."-
[17:29] <Minaplo> [A computer beep- then flashing arrows appeared on the black strip, pointing to Inara's left.-
[17:29] <Minaplo> ["And as you move, the arrows will follow you."]
[17:38] <Inara> "Excellent. I'll ask you one last question before I go."
[17:39] <Minaplo> ["Ask."]
[17:39] <Inara> "Do I have a medical staff?"
[17:39] <Minaplo> [Wordlessly, he held a medical scanning baton out to her.]
[17:45] <Inara> "You know what? I'll take it." And she did, gripping the baton with her free hand and twirling it. "If any sentient medical personnel need me, they'll have to find me instead."
[17:48] <Minaplo> ["Sorry." Said Idris with a soft chuckle. "You have some nurses and medics. And one standard medical bot."]
[17:53] <Inara> "Thank you. Although this doesn't change my idea."
[17:54] <Minaplo> ["Fair enough. Oh, one of them is a Defector."]
[17:59] <Inara> "Excellent! They'll know a thing or two about Stalkers."
[18:01] <Minaplo> ["And medicine."]
[18:07] <Inara> "Also useful. I'll send them all a message once I'm settled so they can get the great search started. I'll thank you not to tip them off, by the way."
[18:10] <Minaplo> ["… I see."]
[18:15] <Inara> "I'll owe you." She grinned and then saluted before starting on her journey. "C'mon, Al. Let's follow the arrows."
[18:18] <Minaplo> ["Miiiiouuuuuuuuuuu-ooooo~ooo."]

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License