7 Landing, 6106 RTR (Mar 08, 2010) Tasha takes some time to talk to her newly adopted sister, only for things to turn sour rapidly.
(Legacy of the Fenris) (Space) (Tasha)
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JEF Bellerophon, Bridge
The bridge is alive with blinking lights and consoles, including displays that seem to hover in the air before the three command seats that jut out into the viewing bay. The command seats themselves are detached and stacked near the airlock, along with a few of the non-Terran control consoles, which leaves the bridge looking more open and yet more cluttered at the same time.

The solid ghost of Nora Argentine is buried to her waistline inside an open panel, with an array of exotic looking tools placed within easy reach. She doesn't notice when Tasha steps onto the bridge, decked out in her new 'suit' which seems to have every optional attachment possible stuck to it, from white ablative armor patches to body monitors, a motion tracker on her right forearm, holsters for sidearms she's not carrying, canteens, spools of belaying line, clips and an assortment of other things attached wherever there seems to be room.

The gadget-bedecked woman's gaze sweeps the room, spotting her recently adopted sister, whom she quietly pads behind. Looking Nora up and down, Tasha wonders if this is how she'll look in ten years – and finds herself a bit disturbed to remember earlier dreams about the woman in front of her. Never one to be shy, Tasha blurts out, "How's it looking, Nora?"

"Ow!" barks the Karnor as she bangs her head on something, then has to back out so she can look at Tasha. "It's looking fine. I think we can solve the interface problem if I use some components from the Silent-Ones control console. You look… like a walking gadget kiosk… "

"See anything you like?" Tasha asks reflexively, then finds her big grin twitching as she realizes how what she just said sounds. Reaching to rub at an ear with nervous energy, she presses on, adding, "I guess that still hurts, doesn't it? I didn't know I could sneak up on you, that's good – and oh this," she looks down at herself mid-ramble, "I think maybe I got carried away. At first I wanted to try them all, then see how many could fit, and then I couldn't decide which I wouldn't need."

"Five flashlights… well, I suppose you can't have too many," Nora says, and then rubs the back of her head. "Yeah, this close to the 'projector' down below I'm pretty real in terms of physiology… at least enough to feel stuff. I guess you're planning another little excursion already? Or is this some weird Vartan instinct to cover yourself in shiny bits of metal and plastic?"

"It's probably both," Tasha replies, tail wagging. She scoots a little closer, then sits herself down next to the open panel so Nora doesn't need to look up. "You already know we're exploring Silent Town; so far we found the temple and it's light-based virtual library and a adjacent Titan hangar – which apparently is full of Titans I don't fit in." The teenager makes a face, ears splaying.

"None of us would," Nora chuckles, getting back on her hands and knees to poke around inside the panel. "Why would you want to though?"

"What?!" Tasha blinks, ears flicking forward, her voice incredulous. "They're Titans, why wouldn't I? I'd have thought YOU of all people would understand that." The Vartan just shakes her head, then peers inside the panel, too, to see what's in there.

With the panel removed, a box-like space is exposed full of flickering lights, shiny wires of glass and plastic and what appear to be fast-spinning fans. There are copper pipes as well, snaking through various modular, brick-shaped components that seem to plug into connectors in the walls. "I liked the Themis-Skoll," Nora points out. "Other titans… are just machines."

"Oooh," observes the red woman as she peeks inside, "I see why you spend so much time in here – look how shiny it all is!" As almost an afterthought, Tasha adds, "I wish I knew how it worked." She spends a good few seconds just staring inside, then seems to remember she's there for more than staring at pretty lights and shiny surfaces, saying suddenly, "I love the Themis-Skoll too, but it's in orbit, and I never had the chance to fly it like you did. These I can try to, if I'm ever good enough – and fit. I guess they don't have Vartan-Titans, do they?"

"I haven't seen every Titan, so there probably are," Nora notes, carefully unslotting one of the modules with a grippy-tool. "And I never got to fly Themis-Skoll myself. There was never a chance to."

"What?" Tasha repeats, leaning back. "You didn't? That's … Tragic!" Running a hand back through her hair, Tasha just shakes her head at this sad revelation. "I'm sorry, I didn't know," she adds a second later, perhaps feeling her ambassador training, or just slowly learning to be polite the old fashioned way. "But, at least your scores were better than mine, I bet? You didn't join the military to pilot them, did you?"

Nora chuckles as she backs out, a blocky piece of electronics in her hand. "No, I joined to explore and… prove myself. The Karnor Elite were… I don't know how to explain it to you. Is there some group on Sinai that everyone wanted to be a part of? Real role models and icons – heroes, in short?"

Tasha glances at the block of electronics, then back to Nora as she speaks, her expression sobering. "Well, there were airship captains – Eyeshine, Blackwings, and so on. For me, they were people I wanted to be like, but, … " Tasha just shakes her head. "Captain Blackwings is a lot more like I used to be. I did want to prove myself to the gods, but if any group was a role model for me, it was, well … ," the Vartan's eyes flick back to Nora's face, " … All of you."

"Well, that's what it was like," Nora says, splitting open the case in her hands to reveal even smaller electronic bits. "Every Karnor looked up to the Elite – they were the best, the absolute pinnacle of what it meant to be a Karnor. And they were the future or our race. It's ironic – but back on Terra I probably have a long line of descendants who were born from my eggs long after I left."

"Well, I definitely don't think I'm the best of the best of anything," the Vartan admits, smiling and shrugging a little. "But Layth feels that way too. I'm confident some day we'll be good at something – that maybe people will look up to us like they look up to all of you. But it's more than just me, too, and well … ," scratching an ear as she thinks how to word her idea for the JEF – Nora's charge, the charge of the Karnor Elite – Tasha admits, "Hmm, all those fuzzy Nora puppies over generations. Awwww."

"And who knows, maybe one more if Caravelli really thinks the genetic suspension and cloning systems will work," Nora says, and uses a different tool now to pull out a single component about the size of a fingernail from the box.

A sudden frown crosses Tasha's face as she thinks, a dark realization she had been trying not to think about. "No puppies for Tasha, no generations," she murmurs. As her expression begins to wilt, she tries to force herself to smile, nodding, "And when you grow up, you can pilot the Themis-Skoll – hopefully by then we'll have recovered and repaired it."

"Repaired," Nora mutters, setting down the electronics module and going over to the disconnected Silent-Ones control panel. "Maybe. Skoll didn't have the tech restrictions that Fenris and Belle do. Titans always got a little more leeway, treaty-wise."

Tasha's ears flatten at Nora's mutter, the younger woman suddenly narrowing her brow and putting a hand on her hip, defensively. "Hey, it wasn't my fault! Someone didn't teach me how to save it, and something tried to incinerate me with it – I think I did a pretty good job, you know!" She waggles her freehand at the surrounding vessel, indicating it. "AND, we may have found a miniature Mind of Light for it."

"What? Oh, I wasn't blaming you for any of it!" Nora notes. "It was just wondering if we had the means to repair it. Themis-Skoll was Level-3 rated technology, while Fenris was only Level-5. Belle is a little better at Level-4 though, even though this stuff was nowhere near state-of-the-art back home when we launched."

Tasha's ears perk when Nora clarifies, then she just nods a little and lets her hands fall in her lap. "Alright," she breathes, nodding. "Thank you for saying that – I'm under enough pressure to do the impossible here as it is. Maybe you can understand, but I'm a little edgy about feeling not good enough, these days." She smiles a little, to show there's no hard feelings. "So, it was level 3? We have a lot of parts in the warehouse for it, and we have a Silent-One technician too, so maybe we can fix it." Tasha's brows raise a little as she goes on to ask, "So it wasn't state-of-the-art? You mean there were better machines?"

"Yes, but spaceships… follow special rules," Nora explains, as she gets the touch panel off of the console. "Firstly, new tech almost never gets into a ship due to reliability issues. Shiptech has to be proven, which means it's been in use for years and years. Plus, there are special limits set by the Federation Peace Accords that limit the level of technology that can be used on military vessels."

Tasha listens, ears forward, nodding twice before Nora finishes. "Is that because each of the space-fairing nations feared their enemies having super-powerful weapons floating around? The same reason Titans are used and not … " Tasha pause, head tilting, then holds up a hand to forestall any interruption, "Wait let me think," she asks, eyes squinting, "I know this. I've seen it in my mind. They feared … weapons like … planetary … bombardment? And not … linear cannons but … Argh, why do these words never pop up when I want them to?"

"That's half-right," Nora says, nodding as she rifles through the crystal components within the console. "It was more that the Khattan Trade Federation didn't want anyone having better or equal technology that could threaten their monopolies. But also, as you said, because of the dangers posed by advanced weapons – especially to people in space cities."

Tasha nods again. "Gabriel explained to me why Titans were used, that the weapons of your time were so destructive that people had to put them aside. After having seen the Titan simulations, and some of my – your – memories, I know it to be true. Which reminds me, … " Picking her datapad off her armor, the red woman puts it in her lap, entering a weapons reminder as she builds her courage to tell her role model what she wants to do. "That is," she begins, then looks up, brows arching, "It's relevant because we can't let weapons data be passed on – when we found the Joint Expeditionary Force again."

"What do you mean 'again'?" Nora asks, looking up from her dissection of the Silent-Ones console. "I thought it had settled on Abaddon and was thriving there. I… guess that was pretty silly of me to think though, after such a long time has passed. And weapons… you mean they've lost the ability to maintain the Expedition technology?"

"Oh, I thought you'd have picked this up from one of us, or somehow … knew it, through this ship. I'm still not very good at judging how much your technology can accomplish, and I sometimes assume too much. Forgive me, sister?" Tasha offers a little smile, ducking her head. "But no, the Joint Expedition Fleet nations split apart after the Fenris crash landed, and their knowledge and ability to maintain their technology faded. They warred with each other, and most of the wonders here, aren't there. You can see the ruined spacecraft, but it's, well … Gabriel describes it as "quaint." To me, it's still amazing – Sinai seems to have maintained far less. So, anyway, the Joint Expedition ended."

"Well… you don't mean to form it with just us right?" Nora asks. "The other surviving groups must have a stake in it, if they… " Here the woman pauses. "Okay, if they don't have the technology to have sent you here, how did you get here?"

"You don't believe I flew here?" Tasha asks, grinning and flapping her wings a little. "Actually," she says, holding her hands to indicate a tall structure, "it's almost as fantastic: reaching Abaddon required we use the Gateway Tower, a Sifran structure that seems a little like your jump gates, except not as far, and smaller, and only to other towers on other planets. And if that wasn't odd enough, to reach Sheol, the Titanians brought us in their WORKING space ship. Gabriel even thinks they're using First Ones technology, and they seem to have recordings of a Terran show he's never even heard of – a holographic Terran show!"

"I've seen the Titanian running around the hangar, but I thought you brought him as a watchdog," Nora says, looking… startled! "It sounds like these Titanians have a means of reaching Terran space – or at least someone who trades with Terrans. But then, those recordings could have been made anytime, really."

"It's something we should investigate, I'd like to know where they got that recording, too. Maybe the Terrans know we're all here – or maybe it's like you say, and it's ancient history. It'd be good to know, either way. Well, if we can ever get the Titanians to make sense. I may obsess over technology and yell a lot, but even I don't understand them," Tasha agrees. She tilts her head then, nodding contemplatively. "Reaching Terra … I want to see my homeworld. Well, one of them – I don't know where Vartans come from, do you?"

"The Vartans are very secretive, which makes sense, given their profession," Nora says, and removes a little sliver of crystal from the console, which she inserts into the electronic module where the other component was removed.

"I don't think I'd be good at being secretive," admits Tasha, grinning a little. "Or a good mercenary, for that matter. Although, if I had a Titan, … " Tilting her head the other way, the Vartan stares off at a far wall, thinking. With a shake of her head she admits, "No, it wouldn't work. I've seen enough death and dying – I don't think I want to be the cause of any more, if I can help it." Looking back to Nora, she asks, "Gabriel thinks I should become ambassador for the JEF, what do you think?"

"Well, until you learn some support skills, I suppose politics is a safe choice," Nora agrees, snapping the electronics module back together. "You'd only be dealing with other politicians then, and they aren't expected to know how to do anything useful!" She does grin and wink when she says it though.

Tasha's eyes widen as Nora goes on about 'not having to be useful,' a twist to her muzzle suggesting she might have been about to growl if her sister hadn't grinned and winked. She takes a breath – one of those ambassadorial calming skills she's learned – and then nods. "As much as I'd like to learn how this ship works, or something like that, I don't think it will happen soon. Right now, I'm just trying to keep up; although, I do now have access to Silent-One ambassadorial training via the Mind of Light system, thanks to the Library in the temple. I think I may have actually learned something, too." She taps her head, grinning before asking, "What support skills would be good for me? Something Vartany? Coalition? Terran? Science or … ?"

"Well, we can't expect you to go through sixteen years of education and training," Nora notes as she crawls back into the hole in the wall. "It would make more sense for you to learn things that the rest of us don't know, and Abaddonian politics, law and culture is high up on that list. Sinai stuff too. And… how many other worlds are inhabited here?"

"I can pilot an airship," Tasha offers as Nora crawls back inside. Pulling out her datapad again, she begins tabbing through the planets section, looking at the rather sparse, and certainly out of date, notes. "I do know that the Expedition – that's what the Terrans call themselves on Abaddon – are speciesist. I tried to join them, and I never got an answer on that. But, I still like them. I may even like the Silent-Ones now, if not all of them." She finishes scanning the planets, then reports, "I think you know about crash reports, so between six thousand years of change and the opening of the Gateway, I'd say there are many nations and colonies. We know Sinai is populated, and Abaddon, but Ashtoreth is too, and I think there are colonies on the others."

"The storm planet?" Nora asks, backing out from the wall now and starting to fix the panel cover back in place. "And all the worlds have access to one another?"

"Only Sinai seems to have the Gateway Tower, the rest seem to be … receiving towers, I guess you'd call them," explains the red woman, looking up. "And yes, Ashtoreth seems to have underwater cities and mercat people. It might be they're related to the Khattans somehow. As for the other planets, I haven't heard much – Sinai, Abaddon and Ashtoreth seems to be the most inhabited and the most often traveled to." Tasha begins to look down, then pauses, ears perking, "Oh! The tower also connects to Primus – isn't that odd?"

"Huh, to the star itself or the ring structure?" Nora asks.

"Ring structure?" Tasha asks back, blinking.

"We detected a ring around the star," Nora comments. "It was too close for us to actually investigate it. I think one group was working on an armored probe to send, but it got scrapped. Too much interference and reality distortion detected."

"Wow," the Vartans breathes, eyes wide. "I didn't know that – a ring around the whole star? That … That's something we need to explore some day, if it's even possible. I didn't even know the star has a SPF field. The SPF fields seem very random, actually … " Shaking her head at the amazement of it all, Tasha looks down and enters 'Primus ring, research' under the 'Primus' entry. As she frowns over what else to add, she finally answers, "It exits into the sun itself. The Gateway Tower people love to tell the story – a bunch of small Imperials ran through into the sun and, poof," she makes an explosion gesture with a hand, " … disintegrated."

"I'd like to see that myself," Nora says. Then blinks and adds, "Not the Imperials being immolated, but the Gateway Tower."

"It looks like a big crystal spike with the top broken off, in the middle of a Forbidden Zone in the desert," Tasha explains, looking up again. "There's a single door that sort of … shatters, then you step into a chamber with a system map. You touch one of the panels, the system map draws a line from Sinai to where you want to go, then the door on the wall connected to it becomes active and you can touch it and step through. You can only do that once a day, though. After that, it shuts down for a day."

"Hmmm, sounds like it's running down then," Nora says, and goes to another panel to enter some commands. "The Sifra artifacts have survived for a billion years, according to most experts. I'd think their technology would either work perfectly or not at all by now."

"Well, you'd know better than I would – you're connected to three of them right now," Tasha says, smiling a little. She scoots forward to watch Nora enter commands, adding, "Maybe we can get an aerial view of the tower when we go to recover the Themis-Skoll, or even monitor it when it activates." She glances at her sister. "Oi, it's tough enough grasping your technology, but the Sifrans … It hurts my head. When the JEF is re-established, we'll have to review Sifran ruins as part of our task, too."

"Well, that was our whole reason for being here," Nora notes with a grin. A few columns of numbers show up on her console display, and begin to flash and rearrange themselves. "I don't know if that will be enough to bring everyone together again now though. What else can we offer?"

Tasha leans back as the console begins to move numbers around, ears flicking as she watches the strange display of numerical rotation with a puzzled expression. It takes her a moment, but she offers, "We have the past." Looking over Tasha waggles her datapad. "It seems like the Expedition only recently learned a bit about its true history, and the rest of Abaddon may not remember anything. Living on Sinai, I never saw any of this – even with the Ark right there in front of all of us!" The red woman shakes her head – she STILL can't believe the Temple of Rephidim is a spaceship. "We have purpose, we can connect people – all the people – to their past, their reason for even being here. We can explore where most cannot, we have technology – maybe more than any nation. We know the truth, and we can give back too – we can share what we know and what we find. We can bring hope, and education – we can be the Karnor Elite for the world, maybe!"

"How do you plan to approach the different governments though?" Nora asks, while staring at the numbers. She even reaches out and taps one of the columns for some reason.

Tasha ends up looking between her sister and the display; two puzzles at the same time. At least she feels she knows the answer to one. "The Bellerophon will be our first herald – having this, working, there where all can see it – is a big demonstration we can do what we claim. We'll also share other technology, maybe teach people, talk to them, get them to listen to us. Once we make it clear what we can offer and what we can do, I think they'll at least listen to us. We can begin with the Expedition – they know Gabriel, Eli and Remy – as they already supported us once. I think the other nations will see the Expedition may gain everything we've done, and show interest. If not, we can approach them individually. The Imperials seemed reasonable, if troubled by their life dome going amuck. The Silent-Ones seem more difficult, because I know they don't really like the rest of us, and certainly not me. But, maybe greed will help there."

"As for the Confederacy and Kampfuzengruppe, well, they're smaller and I don't know much about them. The Confederacy I can approach as a member of their species, at least. The Kamp seem to not like anyone who isn't human – so it'll be greed again. Captain Eyeshine told me once, no matter how much someone may hate you, if you make an offer attractive enough they'll work with you," Tasha finishes.

"The Confederacy has Vartans in it now?" Nora asks, sounding surprised again. "There technology was never very compatible with anyone else's, so they didn't participate in joint ventures much."

"That's what I was told when I approached the Expedition to join them," Tasha answers, nodding. She then gestures a hand at herself, looking wry. "I got sad looks from Karnor barmaids – I mean, waitressess – because they thought I was the product of a captured Karnor mother in a Confederate experiment. So, I think the Vartans have been with them a while, but I'm not sure."

"What about the Khattans?" Nora asks, smiling as several rows of numbers flash and vanish. "Are they on Abaddon?"

"You know, I don't think they are? I don't remember Gabriel mentioning their crash sites, either. I mean," Tasha looks down at her datapad, flipping to the Khattan Trade Empire section, "We can guess they crashed at least one ship in the Himatt desert, because if the other Sinai nations are any indication, any large concentration of a specific people usually means a ship crashed there. But, besides that, there's only the mercats of Ashtoreth." Looking up again, Tasha asks, "Is that odd? Were there a lot of Khattans?"

"They had a presence on every ship in the fleet, and ships of their own, but nothing quite like a mothership," Nora says. "Another reason we kept technology stable in our ships was to ensure they meshed with the Khattan tech, which was pretty critical. They'd been in space forever, and made the best environmental and life support systems."

"They built the Orpheus, even if they didn't run it," the Karnor points out.

"I remember Gabriel telling me that, too. They're the ones who created the gravity stators – and we're in real trouble if any of them fail, because no one knows how to fix them." Looking up, Tasha's gaze wanders across the upper hull, a little frown on her face. "They built Orpheus? Does that mean they have their own Khattatown here?"

"What does Orpheus mean, anyway? Is that Khattan? It sounds a little Amazo- … I mean Olympian, actually. Oh, Olympia has a lot of Khattans too," Tasha adds.

"There must be someplace here the Khattans used," Nora says, and then looks thoughtful. "In myth, Orpheus was a musician whose wife died. He was so good, though, that he was able to charm his way into the underworld with his music, and win his wife back from the lord of the dead - on the condition that he never looked back to see if she was following him on the way out. As always in these stories, he couldn't help but look back to make sure she was there as they were approaching the exit… and so she was pulled back and lost to him forever."

Tasha listens, ears perked … until they slowly wilt, her muzzle creasing in a grimace. "Well, that's sad – and a little too similar to what we're doing here. Why would anyone name a ship that? Should I even ask what Bellerophon and Fenris mean?"

"Well, Bellerophon was the oldest hero of the same mythology as Orpheus," Nora explains. "He slew all sorts of monsters and did great things, but he let it all go to his head. He had captured and tamed the flying horse, Pegasus, and thought he had earned a place in the home of the gods, so stormed their mountain. He turned out to be just mortal after all though, and was thrown down. Pegasus stayed to serve the gods though."

"Fenris was from a different mythology," the Karnor goes on. "He was the son of a god… or a giant… anyway, he was a giant wolf. I mean, really giant. He was destined to kill a bunch of the gods at the end of time."

"Um," Tasha utters, ears twitching, the woman sounding startled. "Bellerophon's, that sounds like something stupid I'd do. Now I'm a little afraid to be on this ship! I don't want us to end up like that!" Tasha grabs her tail as Nora goes into the next story, prepared for the worst, and looks a little relieved when Fenris turns out to just be an apocalyptic monster. "Fenris is a little better. Are all the names this depressing? You know I was a temporary god, right? And a sailor? Do you know how ominous this all sounds?"

"Temporary god?" Nora asks, turning to give her full attention to Tasha now. "They're just names from mythology. The Imperials named their motherships after their ancient gods, and I think the Silent-Ones did too. Grand machines needed grand names, so why not the names of gods, heroes and monsters? They gave us a bit of confidence, I think, going into the unknown in search of godlike beings."

"I guess so," Tasha says, still sounding uncertain. "But, I'd have used Nike at least. Bellerophon sounds like not aiming for the stars, and Orpheus just makes me want to go hug Gabriel." She looks down, shaking her head and taking a moment to gather herself and her thoughts. Rather than look up again, she stares at the floor, looking somewhere beyond it – to the past. "When I reached Amazonia with the others, I basically saw I was a big fake who didn't know anything, and who used her looks and strength to push people around. And, I was scared; I lost confidence and desperately wanted to find some. I wanted to be better than I was, but I didn't know how. Soon after, someone noted I looked like one of the lesser goddesses – Tisiphone, Goddess of Avenging Murder."

"So, they dressed me up like her, and I was sent to the Temple of Abaddon to trick them into giving a warrior blessings. But, I felt terrible about it – I was just being an even BIGGER fake! So when the priestess came to me, and after I told her what I had been sent to for, I … I asked her to teach me. To help me. She took me aside, and, well, I was the Herald of Abaddon after that – I was Tisiphone incarnate, even if I was just me. The Temple of Abaddon gave me the mission to stop your hardsuit, it's how we found the Fenris. I owe Abaddon a great deal – Tisiphone too."

"They had faith in me even when I lost it in myself," Tasha adds, finally looking up. "When I avenged the Fenris, my task as Tisiphone was complete."

"So… how did they know about… stopping my hardsuit?" Nora suddenly asks, looking alarmed.

"Well, it was attacking the local population," Tasha explains, holding her hands out. "I ended up breaking the sonic mapper so the Lapi – the bunny people – could destroy it. That's … that's … when, I … Well, it's not important." The woman smiles weakly, brows arching. "Don't think about it too much, okay? It's enough to know MOTHER was using it to collect biomass for the intubed survivors."

"But I was using the Grendel, I'm sure," Nora says, her ears going back in thought. "To get Fred… huh. My memory is fuzzy… "

Tasha slowly leans up to tap her collar, considering initiating a warning for bridge system shutdown, but hesitates. "Nora," she says, very carefully as she reaches her free hand to take the other woman's hand, "That's a memory that's best left alone. Please, please believe me on this. If you trust me at ALL, trust me on this."

"What? Are you seriously asking me to not think about something?" Nora asks Tasha, wide-eyed. "Does that ever work?! I command you not think about the color blue! You're thinking of blue things now, aren't you? AREN'T YOU?"

The younger woman leans back, hand falling from her collar, eyes widening. "No! I'm thinking about you! I just don't know how to stop you, how to stop you from remembering this! I know what it is, it's not worth knowing!" As Nora begins to break down, Tasha's own breathing becomes increasingly rapid – she had been dreading this moment ever since she learned it was possible. Yet, for all her worry, she was convinced by everyone else that it would all be fine – only to see now how wrong she was. "Tell me how I can help you, I don't know what to do!"

"Just tell me," Nora says, with some intensity. "Tell me what I'm not remembering, so I don't have to struggle and worry about what it might be."

Tasha stares at Nora for a long time after the question is spoken, and as Nora looks into her eyes, she can see they've become glossy. When finally Tasha moves again, it's to swallow hard, taking in a deep breath … and nod. "Disengage your access to all systems and lock that access to me, close that grate … and … then … ," the teen hesitates, biting her lip as she searches Nora's face – the broken, horrifying skull of the woman in front of her seeming all too close now. Setting her jaw, she forces herself to spit out, "I'll tell you."

"No," Nora says, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "This is your first test of diplomacy, Tasha: explaining an ugly truth to someone and trusting them to be able to handle it."

Tasha's eyes flash, then narrow. "Oh, that's it? You have command access Nora, you – y-y-you, I can't risk the ship! Isn't this bad enough?! Trust you OR risk the ship and everyone in it – clearly I've already failed this far, how can I … How … !" The Vartan's grip becomes painfully tight as she stares at the other woman, another blink causing the tears to shed from her eyes. "Why, WHY is this so hard!? Why do I have to be your enemy?! Haven't I done enough, don't you trust ME? Don't, … d-don't … " Tasha's jaw clenches so hard her head practically vibrates. In the time it takes her to get a hold of her thoughts, she wipes her eyes again, then nearly screams, "FINE!!"

Nora would be a hard person to play against in cards, as her expression remains resolute and stern.

Tasha tosses her datapad aside, so both her her hands are free. She seems to force herself to breath, to try and calm down, but the effort seems slow and labored. She has to keep wiping her eyes, nails digging into her legs as she builds the courage to speak. It takes her almost a minute to get the strength enough to say a few words. "MOTHER trapped you. In the suit." Her tone is tired, drained, almost dead. "You went mad." All of Tasha's face simply falls, as if speaking three words took all the life out of her. her ears fall, gaze becoming tired, empty. "And died." Truth spoken, Tasha watches, numb, as she waits for the storm to fall.

"That was terrible, Tasha," Nora says, shaking her head. "Never project your fears onto another person, thinking they will react as you do. And you will be relating scary information as an Ambassador, to powerful people who probably won't want to hear it. If you do it like this… well, it just won't work."

"What?" Tasha continues to stare at Nora, ears slowly going askew, the woman looking bewildered – and a little lost.

"I remembered what happened within the first thirty minutes of being 'awake' again," Nora says, frowning. "I'm a bit hurt that you expected me to… what, exactly? Blow up the ship? Anyway, you handled that poorly, even if you think you were doing it because you cared about me. But I asked you, and you had no right in the first place to hold the truth from me. Do not put yourself in a place where you think you know what's best for someone to know or not know – that will always turn back on you in a bad way. You'll have to work on this, Tasha."

"I have … to … ?" Tasha's expression turns first from numb, to wide-eyed and horrified, and then … "You … you … " Something seems to snap in the teenager's brain, because her face contorts into a mask of rage; teeth are bared and an almost guttural snarl issues from her mouth before she screams, "YOU USED ME?! TO TELL ME I … I FAILED?! I CARED ABOUT YOU!!" The Vartan has her first balled before she knows it, her punch swinging forward with all the strength of a Vartan arm!

Nora isn't quite as strong as Tasha, so her attempt to deflect the blow fails. It's not exactly like hitting flesh, but it's close, and Nora goes down from the force of it. She just looks up at Tasha in shock from the floor.

Tasha shoves herself to her feet, staring down at the woman – her sister – her furious expression marred by the tears running down her face. With an inarticulate roar of frustration, she spins on her 'heels' and storms towards the door. As she passes her datapad, she glances at it and just shakes her head, disgusted. A second later she pulls her commcollar off an hurls it to the floor – and then she's gone.

An furious Vartan is a frightening thing, pure adrenaline mixed with fury driving the woman into a black rage that propels her through the ship. She has no idea where she's going, nor does she care – she can barely think straight. The idea of speaking to anyone just fuels her anger, having to face more judgments, more attempts to manipulate her, more futile efforts … Before she knows it, she's passed the cargo hatch and is making a line for vehicle exit and escape.

The hangar opens up around Tasha as she exits Bellerophon onto the suspended maintenance gantry. It isn't exactly quiet though, as there are metallic noises in the distance, coming from one of the Titan bays.

Everything seems to pour into Tasha's anger now, even noises making her more and more angry. Only once in her life has she ever felt so betrayed, so furious, and that left people hurt – or worse. Just thinking about that old memory sends her in a renewed spike of rage, causing her to kick the gantry so hard it splinters off part of her hoof, and this only makes her more angry. She leaps from the railing to land on the hangar floor, stumbling from the rough landing as she continues towards the interior of Orpheus.

The further she goes, the more she becomes aware of other activity - and smells. It isn't clear what Blammo has been cooking (if that is indeed cooking and not burnt-out motors) but the smell is impossible to ignore. A little camp has grown at the feet of the old Titan, and sounds of work echo from within the metal giant.

And so Blammo finds the red winged woman suddenly staring at him from the shadow of the empty ship births, some forty yards away. It's a numb awareness, smells and sounds battling with her desire to simply rage and move, stalling her in her tracks. And she is frightening sight: the Gauss rifle hums in her hands, held with one arm by adrenaline alone. While not directed at him personally, her murderous expression is none-the-less threatening on a woman armed with a massive gun.

The Titanian finally turns and notices her, and breaks out into a big tongue-waggling smile. "Hey!" he barks and waves. "Nice gun! Want flamethrower for it?"

"Fuc-" The word dies on Tasha's lips as the Titanian's unshakable good humor staggers her fury. She had hoped for a fight, hoped he'd start up that massive machine and attack her, ran in terror, anything to sate her rage against – but she hadn't expected a smile and a offer. "Uhh … " The gun in her hand feels heavier, but she forces herself to keep it up as she struggles to find the words to answer Blammo. At last the weapon is just too heavy to keep aloft, the barrel falling to the deck with a heavy thud, and Tasha almost with it. "I … " Letting out a breath, the red woman just slumps to her knees. "H-hi, Blammo."

The Titanian is at Tasha's side in a disturbingly short time. "Y'okay?" Blammo asks, putting a big hand on Tasha's shoulder. "You got lots of stuff on you, look pretty. Gun too heavy? Shiny lookin' ain't it? Want some meat? Hammer? Potty?"

"I just want … wanted to be left … left alone," Tasha whispers, feeling a lot more tired now that her anger is fading. "But, … " She slings an arm around Blammo's waist, leaning on him. "I'll take some meat. If I'm going to destroy something … it may as well be meat."

"Hokay!" Blammo says, and 'helpfully' scoops up Tasha and carries her to his camp. There isn't anything to sit on other than the floor, but there's a spit set over a flat disk with flames coming from it, and several skinned rabbits are roasting nicely. The weird smell seems to come from the stove fuel, which must have a lot of rubber in it or similar. The Titanian sets Tasha down gently, and sits next to her. "Like bunny?" he asks.

"Hokay," Tasha replies, comforted by hearing her mother's friendly confirmation from the Titanian, and even more so by how simple and undemanding his camp seems. She lays her weapon down beside her, flicking the power off. "My sister is stupid," she complains suddenly. Just talking about Nora makes the woman begin to feel her emotions rising, eyes beginning to water, and so she just snarls and adds, "What am I talking about?! She's dead – she isn't even a real person!" So much for being calm. "I don't know why I even care!"

"Sister bonk me lots!" Blammo says, and hands Tasha a big leather mug full of something beer-like that he pours from a jug. "She smart. Three husbands! They never meet. Stoopids!"

Tasha turns a bewildered gaze towards Blammo, not actually expecting him to contributed to her tirade. When he hands her the mug, she drinks it without even sniffing it. "She made me hit her!" She agrees with Blammo, nodding and shaking her cup at him. "I care about her – I agonized over this! Does she even know what went through to help her?!" The woman takes another, much longer, swig, barely realizing she's so angry she can't even remember the taste. ""Don't think what's best for someone," she told me – well what about what she did?? Rrrgh!" Another drink, and the mug is empty. Only then does she peer into it, trying to remember the taste – and figuring out if she isn't about to die.

It tastes like warm Vartan style beer – which means it's very alcoholic. Blammo nods, says, "Yah, don't think. Good 'vise," and pulls out his knife. It's a foot long, has a serrated section and the back of the blade is a jigsaw of useful shapes for turning bolts or prying things open. He cuts one of the rabbits down, fat running hot and thick still, and offers it to Tasha. "Thinkin' for captain!"

"Gabriel's probably sick of me after hearing about this," Tasha mutters after receiving the rabbit, then promptly stuffing in in her mouth. She holds out her cup for more beer – its been a long time since she had real alcohol. "I'rm jrust srick ov arwl of thris – I envry yrou," she goes on, mouthful of rabbit and all.

Blammo refills Tasha's mug, and says, "But you got nice gun, and lots of stuff on you."

Tasha looks down at herself, then laughs, her voice a little strained from exhaustion and muffled from chewing. She swallows, then takes a sip – then after shaking her head, a chug – of beer, before saying, "I guess I do," she agrees. "This gun shoots through walls," she confides, patting it. With the alcohol working its magic, she finds herself, if not exactly calm, at least no longer furious. "I just need a Titan and life is good," she adds, wryly. A blink, and she asks, "Is this Vartan beer?"

"Yah, mebbe! Found bar, full o' ghosts," Blammo says. "Kitty place, but for Vartans, yah."

"What?" Tasha's ears perk, swiveling forward as she leans in. "You found … kitty place? With Vartans?! I mean," she blinks, shaking her head, "For Vartans? Well, let's go!" Standing up, she tugs at the man's arm! "C'mon!"

"Awww, got put out fire!" Blammo says, and does so by pouring a little beer on it and then kicking a stud on it to turn off the fuel. He also grabs the spit, with the remaining rabbits on it, so there's something to eat on the way. "Safety first! No burn down spaceship!"

"I said that too, but does she listen, NO!" Tasha agrees. The woman scoops up her weapon, shouldering it with her right hand while her beer is held in her left. "Lead on – this is more like it! Jus' like home, you're like a Vartan – I like you!" she grins at the man, then elbows him before pointing her gun ahead, "Lead on!"

---

GMed by BoingDragon

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Today is 16 days after Harvest Tide, Year 27 of the Reign of Archelaus the First (6126)