Original Content Transcripts 2: Chapter 7

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Previous: https://arkmuse.org/threads/transcripts-2-chapter-6.362/

Written by Squiggle Story Studios (Michelle Hodgson), edited by Steeveeo (Steve Green)



Lieutenant Commander Tar Nako admired his growing collection. He had dedicated nearly an entire shelf to the more fascinating objects recovered from the asteroid-sized Rajavan troop transport ship he had requisitioned [2 weeks] ago. While Engine Lord Viitoic went about recovering the more ‘useful’ items from the ship, Nako was having fun looking at the trinkets left behind.

He was particularly fond of the many knives the engineers kept bringing him, too small for any of the rangers or knights to use effectively, but highly decorative and well-made, nevertheless. He even began noticing patterns and similar rune markings on the sides of the handles; the creators of these items seemed to be fond of green splotches. Nako chose three of varying design and placed them alongside the other novelties in the carry case.

“Will this be everything, sire?” Captain Tifera asked her Lord.
“I think it will be enough for now,” he concluded. Any more time spent would only cause incessant micromanaging and prolong the travel time. “Is the REFINED ready to depart?” Nako asked of Tifera.
“Yes, sire,” she answered, shutting the case and hefting it under her arm, “Awaiting your orders.”

Her answer brought a smile to Nako's beak, his request for leave must have gone through without Knight Commander Kotorn’s knowledge. With any luck, the brute wouldn't notice his absence at all.

“Very good. Inform the crew of our departure, [1 hour].”
“As you will it, Commander,” Tifera saluted with her muscled free arm and left him alone in his quarters. There were only a few personal matters he needed to attend to before leaving Branch: redirecting transmissions to other officers, informing his squad and fleet of their duties during his absence, and making sure his terminal recorded the right CitizNet live feeds before they were locked out of the Military Audcive.

Nako’s wings fluttered as he directed the terminal; it had taken him everything we had to not to be literally buzzing with excitement. Now secure in his privacy he could chitter and chirp to his heart's content.

First Contact. He would be making first contact. With an alien maiden he had rescued from the clutches of the Rajava no less!

It was as if he were the protagonist in a low-production narration. Next, the maiden would fall in love with him, he would rescue her people from a Rajavan incubation plant and they would be so enamoured by his gallantry that they would offer him the planet...

The Lieutenant Commander stopped in his flight path before he entertained the nonsense any further. Akira had already been so fortunate with him, such blessings were not certain to last. He relaxed his wings a little and reminded himself there was still work needed to be done, and as per protocol, the best of impressions needed to be made.

-*-

The time it took the REFINED to make the final jump to Uleesia Station was agonising. Nako had mostly kept to himself while travelling so his pacing didn't disturb the rest of his crew. It was harder than he thought to avoid fussing over the little details; the way his cloak fell over his shoulder, which swords to wear to seem presentable and, of course, how to address the alien in question.

He had listened to what little notes the Executive Director of Uleesia Station had given him. Interviews about schedules and biology were hardly engaging topics, but she did state clearly her title for the director.

“Miss Howe, if you please,” the recording played back to him.
“Miss Howe,” he repeated to himself, before hailing the station for docking.

He stepped onto the citizen station for the second time, dressed in formal armour, freshly oiled chitin and two swords at his hilt. His freshly pressed cloak elaborately folded over his right shoulder and pinned with more than just his military status.

His welcoming party was unfortunately lacklustre, however. He was expecting more than just the three staff members. Nako remembered the veteran Sulin, and the freeman Arvas Manager. But the ever elegant Director was replaced with an erratic and nervous underling. The Lieutenant narrowed all six of his eyes as the citizen scientist stepped forward to greet him, bowing her head much too deeply.

“Welcome to Uleesia Station, your honour! I am Acting Executive Director Kyda Jess, my Operations Manager Au Isk and my Security Captain-”
“Acting Director?” Nako interrupted. “Has Director...” he paused, recalling the old Qzetillian’s name. “...Laandi been replaced?”
“Er-I mean, no, your Honour,” Jess floundered, glancing at the stiff Operations Manager behind her.
“She is simply indisposed at the moment! If you follow me, I can show you the results of your venture. We have some fascinating reports that I think you’ll-”
“I've seen enough reports,” the Lieutenant stated bluntly. “On our last correspondence, Executive Director Laandi assured me that I would be able to speak with the Creator Subject, Miss Howe.”

That statement seemed to rattle the Acting Director, her tail was twitchier than a stim junky’s trigger finger.

“Miss Howe is...in quarantine, for the safety of the crew.”
“Safety of the crew?” Nako pressed, taking a step closer so he loomed over the scientist.
“Did something happen to Miss Howe?”
Jess shrunk back, trying to answer the Lieutenant Commander.
“The Creator Subject has been...uncooperative...as of late,” Jess explained, though the words were painfully drawn from her mouth. “If you would follow me, Lieutenant Commander, we have a presentation for you. Captain Rynard can take care of your attendants.”
“My crew are self-sufficient,” Nako replied coldly, “and my Captain is to accompany me.”
“Of course…” Jess murmured, “This way.”

_*_

Nako brought the edge of his cloak over his body, concealing it as he walked down the noticeably empty halls of Uleesia Station. While it was protocol for most citizen members to vacate the area when in the presence of military individuals, their Freq presence was still able to be sensed by those more attuned to the ability.

But Nako felt nothing.

The staff members had either vacated the station entirely, or they had all expired in a short amount of time. He silently signalled for Tifera to be alert and to stay close. Jess lead the procession to a wide double door and her tail flicked the door switch open.

“Department Head Board Room, Acting Director Jess authorised,” the computer chimed. The boardroom had been laid out specifically for Nako’s arrival, the holoprojector glowing with the title of his contract number and a dataslate ready for him.

“Director, are you taking me to Miss Howe, or are you deliberately ignoring my request?” He confronted the small scientist, who was trying and failing to put on a brave face.
“Your Honour, the Creator subject has a dangerous amount of Freq ability and little to no control,” she answered meekly. “Safety protocols were ignored because of the unknown Freq impulses, and numerous members of the crew have suffered irreparable damage-”
“Are you comparing the constitution of a coddled citizen to that of an experienced Lieutenant Commander?!” Nako snapped, growing weary of the underling Director's excuses.
“It was in the best interest of everyone aboard the station, and Esaander, that she be quarantined until further notice!” Jess panicked, blurting out, “Even our Captain did not escape damage!”
“Jess!” Isk scolded. But it was far too late to take back the terrible attempt at deflection. Nako’s antenna twitched curiously, glancing an eye over the veteran Captain. Rynard could barely contain the smirk.

“So you're saying,” Nako deduced, “That Miss Howe is strong enough to incapacitate a military-grade individual?” His uplifting tone surprised everyone.

Everyone except Rynard.

“Sir?” the Security Captain saluted, and the Lieutenant Commander gestured for the soldier to speak. “Jasi can let out blasts that can knock me on my tail,” he informed the ranking officer. “And that was without even trying, sir.”
“Fascinating,” Nako’s antennae twitched pleasantly. “So where is the Creator Subject being held?”
“Y-your Honour!” Jess tried to stand up again, “You can't be serious! The Creator Subject is a danger to everyone around her! She can't control her Freq, nor does she even seem to want to try!” She was almost pleading with the Lieutenant Commander to reconsider. “Here, I shall show you the reports, it would be in your best interest to-”

A piercingly cold shiver pierced the room. Nako’s wings clicked together and his arms folded menacingly in front and behind.

“That is enough,” he demanded. “Honestly, Acting Director, it is no surprise Miss Howe acted the way she did. If I were to be stuck in such a sterile environment with only you as my company, I would have knocked your tail clean off!”
Jess’ tail sank between her legs in embarrassment. “Y-yes, your Honour,” she squeaked out, deciding it wise not to speak again unless spoken to.
Nako looked between the ever-shrinking Operations Manager and the proud Sulin Captain. “Captain Rynard, was it? Take me to Miss Howe!”
Rynard stepped past his citizen employers and, with a proud salute, offered his assistance. “This way Sir!”

-*-

“Captain Rynard,” Nako inquired, once appropriate distance had been put between him and the citizens, “You called Miss Howe by a short name. I suppose you have a good rapport with her?”
“Jasi isn't as bad as the Acting Director makes her out to be,” Rynard stated casually, “She packs a punch when she lets it off, but it’s normally not harder than a Commander like yourself, sir. Problem is, she doesn't get any Feedback.”
“I see,” Nako nodded, listening as the veteran Captain offered up more information.
“She says she's a citizen, the same size too, but she acts more like one of us.” Rynard flicked his tail towards himself, Nako, and the glowering Tifera in turn. “Well, she's more relaxed when around me. She can talk with the bulge-brains, but she gets frustrated.”
“It seems Miss Howe has left quite an impression on you, Captain Rynard.”
“Heh, I think she's done a bit more than that, sir,” the veteran smirked cryptically, opening the door to the security office.
“Security Office, Captain Rynard authorised.”
Rynard stepped aside for the Lieutenant Commander to walk in first.

Nako peered through the observation window and his excitement was tempered. In the training room below sat the strangest collection of people: the former Director in fine clothes, two Arvas guards in company uniforms, a Zenthi scientist in military-grade power armour, three furry quadrupeds and, at the top of the circle, an alien in grey citizen armour draped in a blue sash.

The alien, on first sight, was unattractively Qzetillian for his liking. Short, chunky, fleshy, with a smooth, blobby head, it could have easily been mistaken for a new flesh model. He was reminded of the blessings Akira had given him and, perhaps, this was where his luck ran out. He let out a small, ‘Tsk’ of disappointment but held his head high as he assumed the duties of First Contact.

“Is there a reason for them to be kept in the training facility?”
“Quarantine,” Rynard replied, “the big heads in charge think that Jasi is some sort of rogue agent waiting to happen. She ain't like that!”
“Well then, I suppose it is up to me to give our guest a proper welcoming then.” Nako straightened up his cloak. “Tifera, wait here.”
“Yes, sire.” his devout Captain nodded, standing by the door.

Nako approached the training room door and composed himself before giving the signal to Rynard to let him through. The door to the training room opened and, much to his amusement, the sitting circle scrambled to attention. The guards at the back, the Director and the scientists behind, and the alien maiden with her three furry companions took the front. But when Nako stood out into the training room, he understood Jess’ desperate need to categorize and control Miss Howe.

Human Freq was... different. It was immersive and subtle, creeping across his senses like the gentle rays of the morning sun. Distinctive without being oppressive. It was easy to see how so many of the staff had been drawn to her. She bowed respectfully before him, a hand across her chest as was polite.

“Lieutenant Commander Tar Nako,” she addressed him, the melody of the alien's voice had him more certain of her civility. Purrs and hums that floated on the air, yet imitated perfectly the kah’s and t’cha’s of his own tongue when he heard it. She lifted her head, then looked him in the eye and smiled, her fleshy hand extended to him. “My name is Miss Jasmine Anne Howe, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance.”

The introduction was more than enough for him to forgive her unfortunate appearance. After all, it was nothing power armour couldn't disguise. Her entourage seemed shocked at this approach. The Director and Doctor especially. Nako replied with an amused and grateful smile as he extended one of his own arms towards her. “And a pleasure it is to make yours.”

Her hands — warm, with perhaps too many fingers — gently grasped his hand, raising and dropping it twice before letting go. She returned her hand to her front, folded neatly one over the other, and her eyes rested on his chin.

“Lieutenant,” she addressed him formally, “I was told you wished to speak with me?”
“Yes, I have many things I wish to discuss with you, Miss Howe,” he looked over to her entourage, they didn't dare look him in the eye. “Has the Esaander corporation treated you well?”
The human seemed startled by the question, but she was eager to reply. “As well as they could,” came her diplomatic response, “There have been a few bumps in the road, but Dr. Xant and everyone here has done their best to ease me into the facility.”
“And have they addressed your needs?” Nako asked again, her eyes flickered up to his before she physically tilted her head down.
“I...am not entirely sure as to the question. But, they have not harmed me or,” her Freq dimmed as she paused to find the right words, “Upset me on purpose.”
“But they have upset you,” he lead her in questioning.
“Unintentionally,” she replied more firmly. “There has been miscommunication on both sides, but I hope to move forward, toward a brighter future together.”

Nako considered her answer; deliberately phrased, practised but with conviction. She was just as nervous as he was on this first meeting. However, she also had to perform for an audience.

“Miss Howe, please, address me as Sir Nako,” he flicked back his cape, “And I believe our conversations would be more suited aboard my ship. Then neither of us will have to worry about keeping ourselves in check.”
The human hesitated, and for a moment, forgot polite protocol, looking the Lieutenant in the eye once more. “Sir Nako, would I be allowed an escort?” Jasmine asked. “I am still learning Galactic Council etiquette, and would be more comfortable if my companions were with me.”
“But of course, how could I deny such a request?” Nako folded his arm back underneath his cloak, which fell like a curtain back over his shoulder. “Who do you wish to accompany you?”
“Dr. Xant,” she replied without hesitation, “And if possible, I would like to keep my canine friends within reach.” Her voice noticeably softened when speaking of them. “It is my responsibility to ensure their safety.”
Nako smiled at her sincerity. “Miss Howe, I believe you and I can see the same horizon.”
The human returned the smile, keeping her head held high. “Then lead us into the sunset, Sir Nako.”

-*-

It did occur to Jasmine that perhaps she was being a bit naive to think that befriending an intergalactic military commander would be that easy. Xant and Laandi made it seem as though it would have been offended at the slightest mishap.

But Lieutenant Commander Nako seemed to be far more lenient than anyone expected. It could have all been a ploy, of course; lull Jasmine into a false sense of security, then pull whatever nefarious plan he had for her when it was too late. Maybe he would want to use her as a weapon? Her emotional outbursts were strong enough to psychically hurt those around her, after all.

She wanted to trust her instinct. The giant space-grasshopper Knight seemed cool. He had laughed at her retort about the sunset, so at least they were getting off on the right foot. But Xant and Laandi’s aversion to the situation just couldn’t be ignored. She would be polite for now; civil, as she had first been with Xant and Laandi, until she could find out what the Commander’s motives with her were. And hopefully, find a way to compromise. Xant was very cautious around the Commander. He stood close to Jasmine’s side and offered her his thoughts.

“It may be wise to have the dogs stay here in quarantine. If we are going on the Lieutenant’s ship, they may get the urge to roam.”
“Yeah,” Jasmine agreed, “Kimiko doesn’t listen very well.”
“It will also give us a reason to return,” he added, looking over his shoulder to the exiting Lieutenant. “Should you feel uncomfortable in Sir Nako’s presence.”

Jasmine looked to Xant’s armour and recognised the blue ringed communicator on his collar. “Does your radio work?”
Xant thought for a moment before tapping the communicator and watching the blue light respond. “I suppose it does.”

Jasmine knelt down and addressed her small pack of dogs. “Hey guys, I’m going to be gone for a little while to do some intergalactic diplomacy.” Spades lowered his head, Sieglinde laid down on the ground, disappointed, and Kimiko just cocked her head in response. “But I will be checking in with you,” She tapped the communicator on Xant’s suit. “If you see this blue light on their collars, it means that I will be able to talk to you, do you understand?”

Unfortunately her explanation was only met with a round of confused stares, although they could talk to each other now, she couldn't make them understand how two way radio communication worked. “Why don’t you all play fetch with Arc and Suk until I get back? Then we can play more games when I return, how about ‘tug o’ war?’” They seemed to accept that, and practically jumped to their Namegiver when she opened her arms for a farewell hug.

“Okay, I think I’m ready. Xant, what about you?”
“I just need to retrieve my helmet,” The Doctor gestured towards the lonesome piece of tech sitting by the security door. “I won’t be able to go aboard the Lieutenant Commander’s ship without it.”

Xant slid his snout into the faceplate of the helmet. Pressing unseen buttons on either side of the jawline released extra plates that snapped out and over his skull and neck like scales. Once the helmet clicked securely into the collar of the metal suit, all six of the camera “eyes” whirred into focus, before the “ears” popped out. “Military frequencies are very strong, they don’t restrain themselves outside of citizen areas. I won’t be able to remove it while aboard the ship.”

Jasmine clapped her hands and the familiar bounce of excitement tickled his senses. “Now that is cool as hel– heck.” She corrected herself, but the pulse still came through. Xant found it nice to know that swearing could also hold a positive response. Perhaps swearing was an amplifier to emotion, rather than just simply a negative response? He would make a mental note to test this theory later.

“When do I get a suit like yours and Rynard’s?” Jasmine asked.
Xant shook his head in dismay. “Hopefully, Jasmine, you will never have to wear one of these dreadful things.”

An awkward silence passed between the two, but Jasmine nodded in understanding, and then turned to say goodbye to her remaining quarantined companions.

Nako was waiting for them in the security room talking with Rynard, who was of course, happy to see Jasmine and Xant on the other side of the Freq-proof glass. Jasmine was quick to greet him.

“Rynard!”
“Jasi, you groomed up well!” The Captain chuckled. Jasmine replied with a nervous laugh.
“Well I didn’t have much to work with-”

Nako swept across the room, eager to join the conversation, but Tifera’s looming presence behind him startled the human from her train of thought. She stood the same height as her Commander, and up to Rynard’s shoulders. But while Nako was tall and thin, Tifera was almost as broad as she was tall.

Jasmine recognised the image from the Rajavan holograms. A military grade Zenthi: gorilla-like arms tipped with talons that almost dragged across the floor, wide chest and hips balanced out with a thick muscular tail, long ears, and spike-like horns. If Tifera was a siberian tiger in its prime, then in comparison, Xant was a declawed house cat.

“Miss Howe, this is my Captain, Ara’San Tifera. She will be accompanying us back to my ship, and I would kindly ask that you do not give her so much attention.”
“Huh?” Jasmine blurted before she realised she was staring. “Oh, sorry!”

The giant Zenthi silently turned to her Commander for orders, to which Nako naturally assumed control.

“Captain Rynard, please escort us back to the REFINED.”

The veteran soldier saluted, a wide toothy grin on his face, and lead the group out and down the identical and endless white walled halls. Jasmine turned to Xant for direction.

“I should walk behind him, huh?”
Xant nodded affirming her suspicions. “And I shall walk behind you, since it seems you are his invited guest.”

The human ran after Rynard and Nako, her short legs surprisingly being able to keep up with the oversized pair. Tifera snorted, but followed silently after the citizen-sized anomaly. Xant, still getting used to his new suit, was happy to take up the rear. While he worried greatly for future developments, there was a small part of him that was excited. The Lieutenant had not even twitched an antenna at Jasmine's request for his presence. Perhaps they would not be separated as quickly as he had imagined.

The Doctor looked to the Zenthi Captain in front of him. It had been so long since he had encountered another one of his own kind, military grade though she may be. The urge to speak on the Natural Frequency was strong. The dogs had certainly helped stir such feelings inside him, but there was only so much conversation one could have with an alien of lower sentience.

Captain Tifera was large, her presence as cold as the steel suit she wore. Not entirely unpleasant, just very intimidating.

At least it would have been, if Xant had not been on the receiving end of a human Freq-bomb.

Multiple times.

‘Captain,’ he transmitted softly, activating nerves he had not used in so long. ‘It is an honour to make your acquaintance.’
‘...’
‘I do hope that our presence has not inconvenienced you too much.’
‘...’

Xant was a little disappointed. Maybe he was presuming too much that she would answer him? She was in no obligation to answer, of course, but if she ignored him after a final attempt, he would cease his pestering before she reacted unkindly.

‘Your Lord seems like a gracious host.’
‘Yes. He is generous with his time, to all those who take his interest.’ Tifera’s words were loud and clear. They rung through Xant’s body as though they were directly connected, almost shaking him physically.
‘Jasmine is the most fascinating of people,’ Xant agreed, happy to have found a topic they could converse amicably in.

Tifera’s left ear twitched ever so slightly. She did not hide her disdain in the reply.

‘If my Lord has granted you an audience, I expect you to acknowledge the honour.’
‘But-’
‘And if you want to express gratitude for such an honour, meeting expectations would be wise.’
‘...’

While she wasn’t exactly tactful, Xant was grateful that she didn’t simply Freq-blast him into submission.

‘Thank you for the advice, Captain.’

Jasmine was having trouble keeping up with both Captain Rynard and the Commander. Trying to stay composed while barely under a jog was harder than it had seemed. She tried a few confident strides, finding a rhythm that didn't make her feel like she belonged in the Ministry of Funny Walks. While every hall was white and unmemorable, she didn’t think she had been down this part of the facility. When Rynard opened the doors to the dock, Jasmine’s gasp was audible.

The docking area was big and busy. Bigger than anything she’d ever seen! Giant alien equipment lined the the far side, dozens of soldiers like Rynard milling around the place. Mecha-suited saurians, some wearing coloured capes like the Commander, war paint and serial numbers emblazoned across their chests and tails. It was the only time she had seen a crowd of more than five people!

The second Nako stepped out onto the dock, the soldiers scrambled to attention, lining the hatch door in neat, uniform rows. Each one saluted with a thumb across their chest before standing at ease.

It truly was an awesome sight.

Jasmine gulped. This was it, she was going to be stepping off the station for the first time and onto a real spaceship.

Why was her heart beating so hard?

“Is everything alright, Miss Howe?” Nako asked.
“...(<Awed>) I’ve never been on a spaceship before.” she confessed. “This is all... a little *******.”

Everyone turned to look at the human.

Soldiers, Captain, Commander. All eyes and cameras suddenly were on her.

Xant stepped up beside Jasmine and prompted her. “That last word didnt translate correctly, Jasmine.”
“Oh, uhh... I mean,” she turned back to Nako, searching for a way to describe her experience in a way that her translator would accept. “I just can’t believe I get to see inside a working alien spaceship. I’m a little awestruck (<humble, excited>)!”
“Warship,” the Commander corrected proudly, smoothing over the mistranslation. “This is no mere ‘ship’. The REFINED is one of the Galactic Council’s best! It’s almost a shame it shall be your first. Few can compare.”
“How much of it will I be able to see?” Jasmine asked, trying desperately to contain her excitement.
“As much as you like,” Nako replied. “After our introductions,” he emphasised. “I’ve been told you were kept in quarantine. You will find no such restrictions aboard my ship, everyone here is experienced in battle and your Freq-presence can be easily tolerated. ”

Jasmine looked back at Xant, who nodded knowingly.

“This suit will protect me, Jasmine,” Xant assured her. “You won’t have to hold yourself in restraint.”
Jasmine chuckled, letting out a deep sigh. “Alright, (<Wary>).”
“Dr. Xant, was it?” Nako turned his attention to the scientist. Xant bowed his head respectfully.
“Yes Sir?”
“I suggest you turn your suit to its highest resistance setting, my men will likewise not be constrained aboard their own vessel.”
“Understood, Commander.”

Without issuing a single command, the soldiers suddenly stood at attention, and saluted their commander. Two dozen mechasaurians slammed an arm across their chests, the steel clang echoing in the empty docking station. Jasmine jumped back at little at the sudden noise, bumping into Xant who held up a hand to steady her.

Nako took strides between the rows of soldiers. With a grand flourish, he cast his cape open with wide, open arms and announced for all to hear:

“Miss Howe. Allow me to welcome you aboard the REFINED!”


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